Join mayor-elect Dana Graham for a live text chat today, 8-9 pm

Dana Graham and Griff WigleyNorthfield Mayor-elect Dana Graham stopped by my corner office stand-up table at the Spur this morning. He’d finally gotten some sleep after being up all night for the election on Tuesday so he was more than marginally coherent.

Lately I’ve been sermonizing lecturing brow-beating suggesting to him and a few other city officials that the time is ripe for using a variety of online tools to ramp up citizen engagement. The City’s new website will launch early next year but the technology by itself won’t automatically make citizen engagement happen.

So I proposed a few different ways that he could do a "Q&A with the Mayor-elect" here on LoGro and he opted for a live, one-hour text chat.

Here’s the FAQ:

WHEN IS IT? Monday, Nov. 12, 8-9 pm.

WHERE? Right here in this LoGro blog post.  I’ll move it to the top of the page on Monday so it’ll be easy to find.

WHAT DO I NEED TO PARTICIPATE? If you’re reading this on an internet-connected device, you’ll need nothing beyond what you’re using now. 

HOW DO I PARTICIPATE? Just type your comments or questions in the text box.  I’ll select the ones that I think are best for Dana to respond to.

WHAT?! HE MIGHT NOT EVEN SEE MY QUESTION OR COMMENT? Correct. I’m the emperor moderator.

WHAT IF I CAN’T ATTEND? You can submit a comment or question ahead of time. Attach it to this blog post just like any comment.  I’ll archive a transcript of the chat here so after it’s all over, you can read what happened at your leisure.



  1. David Beimers said:

    Northfield News used Cover It Live to provide up-to-date info on the Rice County election returns. I thought you might appreciate that. It worked pretty well.

    November 8, 2012
  2. Jane McWilliams said:

    The mayor has an important role as facilitator. Members of the council represent various elements of the community – and have strong views themselves. There are thorny issues facing the council – decisions on the safety center, the need for economic development, problems caused by reduction in state funding, to hame a few. How will you work to assure all voices are heard, but that decisions are forged in a timely way? Can you cite a previous example of how your leadership resolved differing views to achieve consensus?

    November 10, 2012
  3. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks for submitting those questions for Dana, Jane. I’ll definitely consider having him respond to them. 😉

    November 12, 2012
  4. Griff Wigley said:
    November 12, 2012
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    This blog post is now ‘sticky,’ meaning, it’ll stay at the top of the blog all day today till we’re finished with the chat tonight.

    November 12, 2012
  6. Bruce Morlan said:

    For decades people have sensed (and feared) that developers and land speculators have sold small towns bills of goods that inflate the cities expectations of returns on infrastructure investment. Groups like “Strong Towns” have finally quantified this sense by doing the numbers on the economic growth models we have employed since WWII. What they find is alarming.

    For example, I have suggested in the past that before towns (both Northfield and Dundas) commit to new housing development they should have a good inventory of

    * how many houses have been on the market for more than 3 and 6 months
    * how many houses have be de-listed without selling inthe last 6 and 12 months
    * how many houses are in foreclosure
    * how many houses are underwater by more than 10% of the amount owed on the house

    Some of these questions are harder to get answers to than others, but to make bets with the taxpayers money requires that we do our best to answer them. Enlisting the help of the experts (staff, realtors, bankers) would require a large grain of salt, since they are sometimes damaged by even the simple public knowledge of these data. And we elected officials too often abrogate our responsibility in favor of reports from those self-same developers, who love to ply us with eight-by-ten colour glossy pictures of the scene of the future crime.

    So, the question I pose is this:

    what changes in local governmental behavior (bonding, taxation, saving for future expenses, if any) do you think we should embrace in light of national and international issues like the end of the era of economic growth economies, global warming (for its local impact on agriculture) , and the debt crisis?


    * During his 1949 inaugural speech President Harry Truman identified the development of undeveloped areas as a priority for the west:

    More than half the people of the world are living in conditions approaching misery. Their food is inadequate, they are victims of disease. Their economic life is primitive and stagnant. Their poverty is a handicap and a threat both to them and to more prosperous areas. For the first time in history humanity possesses the knowledge and the skill to relieve the suffering of these people … I believe that we should make available to peace-loving peoples the benefits of our store of technical knowledge in order to help them realize their aspirations for a better life… What we envisage is a program of development based on the concepts of democratic fair dealing … Greater production is the key to prosperity and peace. And the key to greater production is a wider and more vigorous application of modem scientific and technical knowledge.

    * We are like a poor person who scraped enough together to buy an expensive sailboat, only to find that they could not afford to maintain and keep it.

    “The American Society of Civil Engineers released a report in 2009 giving the nation’s infrastructure a ‘D’ grade and identifying $2.2 trillion in repairs and upgrades that are needed over the next five years. For context, this is over $29,000 in the next five years for a family of four just to catch up. In the meantime, our infrastructure continues to deteriorate.”

    * The economic growth model (a variant of a Ponzi scheme) is over

    The “party” [growth without worrying about limits to growth] was humanity’s one-time-only opportunity to fuel economic growth and technological innovation with a bounty of cheap, abundant energy from fossil fuels. The harvesting of oil, coal, and natural gas has inevitably proceeded on a best-first or low-hanging fruit basis. While the Earth still possesses a wealth of unexploited energy resources, the cheapest and easiest-accessed of those resources have by now already been used. All of these fuels are in the process of becoming more expensive, and the various energy alternatives are limited in one way or another in their ability to replace hydrocarbons. That means we are currently seeing the end of economic growth as we have known it. The impacts for transportation, globalization, and world food supplies will be serious indeed.

    * Economic growth models are essentially Ponzi schemes

    And here’s the ugly economic reality. All growth schemes that assume indefinite future growth are Ponzi schemes. Because nothing can grow forever in a finite world, and when growth stops, people who were hoping to make future gains are stuck.

    November 12, 2012
  7. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks for this, Bruce. I see your question in the middle:

    What changes in local governmental behavior (bonding, taxation, saving for future expenses, if any) do you think we should embrace in light of national and international issues like the end of the era of economic growth economies, global warming (for its local impact on agriculture), and the debt crisis?

    It might be tough to generate a quick response to it in a live chat format so keep your expectations low!

    November 12, 2012
  8. Curt Benson said:

    Griff, please ask Mr. Graham if he has read the OSHA report, Consultant Soldo’s report and the League of Minnesota’s position paper regarding the Fire Department. What is his take on these? I’m especially interested in his opinion on the selection of the Fire Chief–because what he said in his KYMN interview with Wayne Eddy seems to be the opposite of the recommendations in the Soldo and League papers.

    November 12, 2012
  9. Griff Wigley said:

    I’ll consider it, Curt. Thanks!

    November 12, 2012
  10. Griff Wigley said:

    Griff Wigley, Dana Graham

    Thanks to Dana and all who showed up for the live chat last night. We had 15 people attend, which I thought was pretty good considering that the three election-related face-to-face forums I attended had a dozen or less.

    My goals for the event were modest:

    1. provide a positive online citizen engagement experience for the mayor-elect and participants;

    2. learn more about how to host a successful live chat;

    3. understand better the pros and cons of a live chat for a issues-oriented event with a public official.

    I’m interested in getting feedback from those who attended, as well as anyone else who reads the transcript which is now available.

    November 13, 2012