City of Northfield earns ‘Friend of the Bar’ award from MSBA

MSBA cover In the forthcoming Nov. issue of Minnesota State Bar Association’s Bench & Bar magazine, their annual ‘Friend of the Bar’ issue, the City of Northfield was awarded first place in the municipal category.

“On a per capita basis, the City of Northfield has directly or indirectly been the source of more billable hours than any city in the state for 2007” said MSBA president Stuart Pendous. “While we certainly feel the citizens’ pain, we’re pleased that a great number of our members have been able to provide the necessary legal expertise for its staff and elected officials. Our current projections indicate that City will be a strong contender for the 2008 award as well.”

In related news, the Northfield City Council last month approved the hiring of Maria Teresa Spermatozoa as its new legal affairs communications manager. She was to begin her duties this week. However, the budget for her department was reduced by 20% in the 2008 budget and she’s filed a lawsuit against the City for failure to comply with her employment contract. It’s not yet clear who she’s retained as her counsel and whether or not the Council will pay those fees.


  1. Ross Currier said:

    Tracy –

    You and I step away from our computers for a few minutes to attend the Retail Support Strategies presentation at the Grand and what does Griff do?

    I thought YOU had locked his cage before we left!

    – Ross

    October 23, 2007
  2. victor summa said:


    Frequently you file the “disclaimer” “I’m not a journalist ” or I’m not a lawyer.

    I’d suggest filing an addendum to this POST to the effect… that you’re not a humorist.

    just what hat do you want’a wear?

    To parphrase my favorite phrase: who judges the judgers… i’d amend here to read” Who censors the censors. Or, Don’t believe what you hear here!

    October 23, 2007
  3. Julie Bixby said:

    This is a joke right?

    October 23, 2007
  4. Tracy Davis said:

    Sorry, Ross, I misplaced the key and he got out when I wasn’t looking.

    Julie – I hate to blow Griff’s cover so early in the comments, but it’s DEFINITELY a joke, or rather “faux news”, as he likes to consider it.

    October 23, 2007
  5. Christine Stanton said:

    Somehow, I have lost my sense of humor with all the lawsuits. I do NOT like the fact that our tax dollars are being spent on attorney’s fees! The hard part of it is that, if the allegations are “true” or the defendant is “innocent,” Northfield maybe should be paying the fees for the “innocent” ones. Harder yet, is it possible to know if any “wrong” has been committed without the lawsuits? The even harder part of this whole mess is that I am beginning to wonder if the word “innocent” even applies anymore. Can anyone put a stop to or resolve this mess?!!!!!!!!!

    October 23, 2007
  6. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    You had me going for a minute there, Griff. But I’ve never had such a good laugh, thanks.

    In exchange for this compliment, I request you post a new topic called FEEDLOT ORDINANCE UPDATE. There are 4 pretty ugly changes in the works (like no setback from a mega-feedlot to a neighboring home) that need airing before the public hearing Nov. 15.

    October 23, 2007
  7. john S. Thomas said:

    Feedlot…. Need airing… Griff should be able to do something with that. 😎

    October 23, 2007
  8. David Ludescher said:

    Griff: The picture posted is actually the October issue.

    Does the term “shop locally” apply to lawyers also? With all of these lawsuits, why should Hvisty be the only local attorney making money? Could Ross and the NDDC look into what retail strategies we can use to keep legal business in town?

    October 23, 2007
  9. Curt Benson said:

    Since stocks and pillories are unfashionable in these ultra sensitive times, I have an alternate suggestion for delivering well deserved shame to Northfield’s leadership. You’re probably familiar with the giant thermometer the United Way places in Bridge Square which shows their progress in meeting their monetary goals. We could borrow the thermometer and place photos of the city council members, city administrator and mayor around it. Every time the city is billed for an investigator or attorney’s fees the red line moves up the thermometer. Of course, in this case, the thermometer would be a rectal one–signifying the amount of money which is being blown out of Northfield’s collective ass by our squabbling leadership.

    October 23, 2007
  10. Ross Currier said:

    I strongly support David Ludescher’s suggestion.

    One of the recommendations from the RSS Task Force for the City of Northfield was something like “Shopping Local should Begin at City Hall”. Maybe if everyone involved in this legal wrangling used a local attorney, they could settle the issues over coffee in one of our many fine locally owned coffeehouses.

    Perhaps David could help us with the “legal services” portion of the Shop Local Index with the names and contact information…

    October 23, 2007
  11. Lisa Guidry said:


    Sorry I didn’t enjoy your so called humor. Lead by example! Take your own rebuke .

    October 23, 2007
  12. Griff Wigley said:

    Good news! On the Nfld News blog tonight, Jaci Smith reports that:

    … taxpayers apparently are not funding the defense of the three city councilors and the city administrator, sued by the mayor and his son.

    The Minnesota League of Cities, of which Northfield is a member, has hired an attorney to represent the city. It appears all his costs will be picked up by the league. It is still unclear whether the mayor is personally paying for filing the suit.

    October 23, 2007
  13. Griff Wigley said:

    And the sidebar in the Nfld News today: Attorneys’ fees: How much and who’s paying?

    The League of Minnesota Cities is picking up the tab for special city attorney Cliff Greene and for attorney George Hoff, who’s representing the city, three councilors and the city administrator in a suit filed last week by the mayor and his son.

    The city is, however, paying for the ongoing independent investigation by attorney William Everett. Estimated costs for the review top out at $35,000 unless Everett gets authorization from the city council.

    In August, the council agreed to pay up to $7,500 for Roder’s legal fees.

    October 24, 2007
  14. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    As I say on the Northfield News blog, the breakdown of votes on the original 14 questions is very helpful in analyzing the current situation. Lansing was voted down 6-1 on #12 calling for investigation of violations of open meeting laws. Obviously, he still wants the information to come out.

    Also, on legal costs, the city carries insurance through its head organization, Minnesota League of Cities. Our township has insurance through Minnesota Association of Townships.

    And thanks, John Thomas, for encouraging Griff to start the feedlot ordinance topic. Ultimately, degradation of the countryside does the city no good.

    October 24, 2007
  15. Julie Bixby said:

    Thanks Tracy for the clarification. I did appreciate Griff’s humor (we all need to laugh more and fight less) and next time I will try not to blow his cover too early!

    October 24, 2007
  16. Griff Wigley said:

    Former Northfield Police Officer Ted Berg! Glad to see you’re keeping up Northfield, Ted.

    October 26, 2007

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