Former Northfield City Administrator Al Roder hired as planning consultant by Winona County Board

Al Roder

Jan. 2 Winona Post: Consultant to help with county planning overhaul

The Winona County Board approved hiring an outside consultant to examine potential collaboration and consolidation between the Planning Department and other county departments and outside agencies, as well as assist Planning Department staff in preparing to administer the newly-approved zoning ordinance.

Al Roder, former Northfield, Minn., city manager, who has also held posts in Becker County, Minn., and Norfolk, Neb., will assume the job for $40 an hour, a savings over the Planning Director position left unfilled after Brian Bender resigned in October. According to the agreement, Roder should make no more than $6,400 per month, he will not be eligible for benefits, and the County Board asked for a review or update of his work within three months.


  1. Griff Wigley said:

    Anyone know when former Northfield Mayor Lee Lansing goes to trial? Winona Post:

    Roder was paid $10,000 in a separation agreement with the Northfield, is expected to testify in any court proceedings against Lansing, and was promised $25,000 more if Roder himself was cleared in the outside investigation.

    January 3, 2011
  2. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    Roder seems to connect up with the religious, evangelical element wherever he goes. Perhaps Winona will be receptive to that. It will be interesting to see. I have heard good things about the new Winona County zoning ordinance from some, others say it is too restrictive.

    January 5, 2011
  3. Let’s Drop this one: We need to let by gones be by gones why dredge up a unpleasant past: Let it rest: Let’s think Happy Thoughts after all WWJD: Do not cast stones or something like that That’s All Folks

    January 9, 2011
  4. Griff Wigley said:

    David, it’s not over with Roder, since the City could still end up paying him $25,000. I’m not casting stones, either, just keeping track of him.

    January 10, 2011
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    An update on Al Roder from Winona Radio:

    An independent contractor contract with Winona County involving former Northfield City Administrator Al Roder will be terminated next month.

    Winona County Administrator Duane Hebert said a 30-day termination notice was given to Roder on March 15th and his duties will end officially on April 15th. The action was questioned by Commissioner Marcia Ward and Hebert said the termination notice was proper.

    Roder was hired at $6400 a month to review the planning and zoning, environmental services, economic development, and emergency management departments. Hebert said Roder has completed a report that contained recommendations on making some changes.

    The board had been scheduled to discuss extending Roder’s contract for another month for another $6400. But that item was pulled from the board’s agenda.

    March 22, 2011
  6. victor summa said:

    Al Roder .. back in the news.

    Fortunately… he’s no longer a household name in Becker county Mn, Dennison IA, Northfield MN, Norfolk NE, Winona County MN or even in his latest gig, a small Kansas County, population about 6000 … where evidently they haven’t realized the issues that cling to him like Zebra Mussels on a boat’s hull.

    Last Tuesday, he was almost slipped through on the consent agenda – he being a 25K payment. Unfortunaely he made it through any way. The saga is so convoluted, I will simply attach a memo I’ve sent out to the Councilors asking they take steps NOW to amend a planned payment – stop it for at least a bit until they (our current council) can be brought up to speed on Roder rooting.

    There’s so much more here than the 1000 words I’ve already penned or quoted from the current City Attorney’s memo … perhaps others with knowledge of the events known at 812 St Olaf, as: Roder plays his cards with the Councilors and leads them all in prayer, can comment – or contact your City Counclor.

    Here’s the word to the 2012 Council.

    In spite of the discussion (only possible because the Roder Payment Item was pulled from the Consent) I sincerely feel this council has made an imprudent move- not to discuss further – take some testimony and exert some legislative oversight on the issue.

    I’d address you to the LWV Jan 4, 2010 City Council discussion (the council as seated today, was not identical at that time) none the less, there was before the council that evening a request for Attorney fees (Lilllehaug in service to Roder),  The minutes will not tell you much, but Ms McWilliams reveals a lot more detail in her LWV report of that discussion. 

    Granted it is Attorney fees v. Severance payment … but the players and the incident overlap.

    This council today is operating at a disadvantage.  There is no accurate history and no institutional memory.  That equally uniformed council in 2010 voted 6 to 1 to make the payment.  Ms Zweifel voted NO, citing as her reason, she needed more information. i.e., Is there a cap?  Is there a sunset?

    Since that date. your staff has provided no more information.

    Last Tuesday, Ms McBride in directing her perspective on these payments, referred to Albert Roder, as Al.  That alone should tell you something about staff alignment[s].  My cynicism at work?  Nope, a reality read.  

    McBride went on to tell you that we (the City) received an opinion from its Attorney, C. Hood, advising on the payment.  

    It seems no one in the audience had seen the Hood memo.  We do not know to this day if councilors had.  

    There was little discussion of process – most council concerns seem to be centered on getting out from under.  Understandable … but avoiding some principle.

    Getting out of the Deal? Well that too is to be taken under advisement (City Attorney opinion, no doubt)  but as I understand this is pending a series of questions from CP Nakasian regarding her concerns as she laid then out on Tuesday.  This no doubt will be met at discussion with an alarming amount of resistance … [sic] is this really something we want to re-air publicly? 

    Time is of the essence,  If payment has not been made, It is only prudent for this council to move swiftly to hold off on the disbursal of funds, until a clearer vision of ALL the circumstances can be vetted.

    I have just this afternoon received the Chris Hood memo.  A few words – with gigantic impact.

    From: Chris Hood [] 
    Sent: Tuesday, September 04, 2012 8:50 AM
    To: Tim Madigan; Kathleen McBride
    Cc: Robert Scott
    Subject: Roder Severance Agreement

    Tim and Mac,
    The following is from Al Roder’s 2008 severance agreement:

    The attached letter from the Goodhue County Attorney declines prosecution of Mr. Roder.  It would appear that this now triggers the above provisions from Mr. Roder’s severance agreement.  Have you received a request for payment of the same?

    Christopher M. Hood
    FLAHERTY & HOOD, P.A.525 Park Street, Suite 470 .. etc

    So, as you’ve read, I’m confident you’ll agree, his remarks fall far short of telling you to pay now and forever hold your peace.  More like, forever keep your fingers crossed!  

    In fact, Mr. Hood cites the 2008 severance agreement – the paragraph quoted is one of the more clearly written in the entire document … and is an easy read … easier to be dismissive about. 

    What he tells this council is: the letter from Goodhue to Lillehaug states that Goodhue county is no longer pursuing prosecution of Roder.  

    I would say, unless the city has received a letter from Goodhue advising it of its contract with Roder, I fail to see how the letter to Lillehaug enables Mr. Hood to come to the conclusion he has, [sic] It now appears the provisions of the severance agreement ——- etc  

    It may appear as such.  But are appearance all that is necessary?  Is this an attorney telling you in definitive terms, to pay your obligation?

    Councilors, ask the question, can we wait a bit?

    Hood in his memo  then goes on to ask the question Ms McBride should have cited? Have you received a request for payment of the same?

    The answer here on this one NO!

    It seems to me, Ms McBride glossed over reality and encouraged you to pay Al!

    As you can see from Hood’s memo, it is dated Sept 4 – yet we don’t seem to have it available to the public untill Sep 20. And now … we have to rush!

    But, there is nothing wrong with the city dwelling on this issue, before cutting a check.  But Ms Rossing doesn’t even want it discussed.  

    I’m not sure what she doesn’t want discussed.  Im not sure she really grasps the reality of the issues of those times which Roder’s activity has been the subject of some legal proceedings.  Her source has to be former Administrator Walinski.  Another member of the Roder staff. 

    I think Mc Bride like Mr Hood sees Roder’s possible transgressions as being in the same bowl with those alleged against Mr Lansing. 

    Facts are, people pulling the strings have a bias and those persons with the authority have little history.

    Chris Hood’s so called advisory letter, is in my opinion very sketchy.  By being vague, he skillfully puts the full responsibility on the council  to asks questions … if you want – or to turn away and and deny what is really been going on.

    Did you know that one, of the two person Council Committee in 2008 charged with oversight of drafting an exit agreement … one of those two voted NO? 

    Did you know the agreement passed only with a 4 to 3 vote?  Want a list of the other voters?

    There’s  so much more to say, but I’m compelled to hit SEND, with the hope that some of you will rethink the activity of this incident Ms. Zweifel voted NO in 2010 – Ms Nakasian pulled the item from the Consent in 2012.   Mr Ganey, has a few more days as Councilor.  He has proven to be curious about these kinds of vagaries.  I trust he and others of the Council will think twice!   

    time is of the essence!

    Victor Summa

    September 20, 2012
  7. Griff Wigley said:

    Posted a few minutes ago to the Nfld News: Criminal case closed against former Northfield city administrator

    A criminal investigation of former Northfield City Administrator Albert W. Roder has been closed, said the Goodhue County Attorney’s Office in an Aug. 7 letter to Roder’s attorney, David Lillehaug. The county attorney’s office declined to file criminal charges. That triggered a final severance payment, $25,000, due to Roder, of which Northfield City Council was notified at its Sept. 18 meeting.

    September 21, 2012
  8. john george said:

    Well, David L. is the expert on this, but the contract signed by the previous council would appear to be a contract with the City of Northfield, not just the former council members. For this council to refuse to honor that contract just because most of them were not members of the former council would appear to put the City of Northfield in violation of that contract. This would just incure more wsste of taxpayer dollars trying to defend the action. I say it is time to pay up and move forward.

    September 22, 2012
  9. David DeLong said:

    I assume when you said David L. you mean David Ludescher. David Lillehaug is also an attorney. One big difference is the City pays Lillehaug $485.00 an hour. I doubt David Ludescher charges his clients that much.

    The contract is, in this case, a Severance/Separation Agreement and it is indeed between the City and Albert W. Roder.

    I’m no attorney but section 3 states

    …the City shall continue to reimburse the Employee, or pay on his behalf, costs and reasonable attorney’s fees… The City may discontinue payment of costs and attorney’s fee only if: (a) Employee is charged with a crime in the Goodhue Matter; and (b) the City Council finds by resolution that the charge did not arise out of Employee’s reasonable and lawful performance of duties for the City.

    Part (a) has happened. It would seem to me that now all the City Council must do is pass said resolution. Four years is long enoughto have had this hanging over the City’s head.

    September 22, 2012
  10. kiffi summa said:

    Just to keep things clear here: John is correct that the severance contract with former Admin. Roder was with the ‘City’ of Northfield; but the ‘City’ has no legislative presence except through the actions of its City Council… so I’ll leave it to the lawyers to parse that one out.

    However, as we all may remember, one of the first actions of this Council, under this Mayor, was to decide that they did not have to honor the ‘City’s contract with Waterford township. And as I recall it was because the length of time the contract had been in effect was in excess of a legally binding ‘state’.

    Also , as I recall, although everyone would like to tie Mr. Roder’s need for an attorney to the conflicts with former Mayor Lansing, I believe it is correct to note that Mr. Lillehaug was hired to represent Mr. Roder before the Lansing complaint was filed.

    So … maybe the attorneys should be parsing that one out!

    If someone has the patience to look up the record of when the attorneys fees to Mr. Lillehaug began to be paid by the city, that may present a clearer picture, if the billing was prompt.

    I do have another question … Why ??? is it a staff decision to make the $25,000 payment to ” Al” (as Ms. Mc Bride referred to him) when it takes a resolution of the Council to stop paying his attorney fees ???

    Let me be even more specific: Every payment the City makes is approved by the Council as they approve the list of disbursements in the Consent agenda each week … so why is it stated in Ms. McBride’s packet memo regarding this $25,000 payment, that the payment will be made; no council action is needed ???

    And if you’ll be patient, just one more question: although a letter from the City’s Attorney, Chris Hood does exist (dated Sept. 4) it was not in the online meeting packet, nor in the public packet at the meeting… was it in the Councilors’ packet, but not available to the public?
    (it’s wording was not strongly advocating payment)

    September 22, 2012
  11. john george said:

    David DeLong- Yes I was refering to David Ludescher. I should have realized there are many Davids and last names beginning with L’s. Hence, I addressed you whith your full name! Thanks for the clarification.

    September 25, 2012

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