Podcast: the irritable triumvirate weighs in on the mayor

Ross Currier, Tracy Davis, Griff Wigley

Some of our blog readers have been picking on us this week. You know who you are.

So on today’s show, we began taking it out on each other in thought, word and deed.

We made the City Council look like a Sunday school picnic. The body language in the photo says it all.

What were we arguing about? Well, duh. Mayor Lee Lansing got his ass handed to him this week by special investigator Bill Everett.

Click play to listen. 30 minutes.

Our radio show/podcast, Locally Grown, usually airs Wednesdays at 5:30 PM on KYMN 1080 AM. You can also subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe with iTunes. We seek your comments and suggestions.


  1. Patrick Enders said:

    Tracy, Griff, and Ross:
    Thank you for your podcast on the Mayoral mess. In response to some of your collective comments on the air yesterday:

    “Other people are doing bad stuff, too” in no way justifies the Mayor’s inappropriate actions. If other persons have acted inappropriately, then they should be dealt with in their own right when we finally see the facts of the other ongoing investigations come to light. If some members of the council are ______ (less than great? – I can’t remember the word choice or the male speaker), then other citizens should run against them in the next election.

    The Mayor’s own words in his emails this summer spoke volumes about his serious errors of judgement, and his actions since – as well as the investigator’s report – have affirmed what was already plain to (my) naked eye. The Mayor must be held accountable for his serious abuse of the public trust, at least by replacing him with a person who has the city’s best interests first and foremost in his or her heart.

    December 20, 2007
  2. Anne Bretts said:

    Tracy, thanks for your comments on the show. I agree that even though a recall would be cumbersome, citizens have a responsibility not to let this issue be ignored because the mayor’s term is almost over.
    I was thinking that people could use the tactics the mayor’s supporters have used in the last year. People could pack the council chambers and hall, and all could sign up to speak at the open mike. There would be some poetic justice in having 60 people each read a page of the report out loud. At two minutes per person, the demonstration could make a real impact.
    Personally, I hate obstructing the council meeting so perhaps the group could all wear red, or an arm band, to show the strength of the opposition to the mayor staying in office. If 100 people came, it would show that all they would need is for each person to ask four others to sign and there could be a recall petition ready in no time.
    Perhaps, just perhaps, a significant visible protest would do what no one has been able so far: make the mayor realize that it’s just time to go.
    In the meantime, people certainly can write letters and send e-mails politely insisting that he resign. If they are sent through the city clerk’s for delivery to the mayor at a council meeting, it would be easy to track the total correspondence received.

    December 20, 2007
  3. I am terribly sorry to be such a bother about this. However, I would like to persist and ask for some clarification or even a different perspective to help me understand the results and the outcome of the 2001 referendum; in the context of our Mayor’s alleged unethical behaviour – Anne Bretts? Suzie Rooks? Tracy? Anyone?

    December 20, 2007
  4. Chip Cuccio said:

    Griff and Ross evidently received the chambray/denim shirt memo.


    December 20, 2007
  5. Griff Wigley said:

    Pants pretty much matched, too, Chip.

    Norman, it’s not likely that Nfld News reporter Suzy Rook would reply here. She wrote about the Charter at the end of Nov. and Kiffi Summa attached a comment there but there’s been no response.

    Maybe Tracy will wade back in on this issue once the debate is over. Or when the holidays are over. Or when hell freezes over.

    December 20, 2007
  6. Being from the corrupt city of Chicago, old school, I, too, am wondering what the heck was the violation of trust by the mayor who made his position known early on in the process? This is a volunteer position with the only reward being provided by the love of public service, of which there are more satisfying ways.

    Btw, Chicago is also known as “The City That Works” .

    December 20, 2007
  7. kiffi summa said:

    The last time we had hecklers in red in the council chambers was in 1999/2000 when the big T supporters wore red t-shirts and were lured to their chairs by the tiny packs of MandM’s that Tom Bonneville of big T left thereon, for them. Let’s not repeat that shameful display.

    It boggles the mind that some seem to think the council bears no responsibility for this whole mess; the FACT is: from the fall of 2005 until late Spring 2007, the council constantly reiterated that their PREFERRED CHOICE for a liquor store location was the 600 block of Division. Why is it that they have ” a lesser responsibility” (according to J. Pokorney in this week’s paper) ? Are all six of the non-mayor council people so bullied by the mayor, as the administrator feels he was? Was their responsibility to the community so “lesser” that they never had an objection until, What? What changed the Game?

    They all want to place blame, but not accept responsibility. The administrator admits that he felt bullied by the mayor, so he withheld a
    report from the council? Is that the “two wrongs make a Right” principle?

    Is there any “Principle” here at all?

    December 20, 2007
  8. Anne Bretts said:

    I don’t recall residents coming to exercise their right to speak to their elected officials being hecklers. I seem to recall them being the public.

    December 20, 2007
  9. kiffi summa said:

    Anne: I’m sure you don’t recall it; if you were here in ’99-’00 you were sure a lot less vocal than you are now.
    Look at some video tapes from that time with the “red shirted hecklers” and how every time someone they disagreed with got up to speak at a public hearing, the speaker was ridiculed to the point of tears.

    Will someone please answer my question? Why does the council bear no or only a “lesser” responsibility, when from Sept. ’05 to June ’07 they continued to identify a property in the 600 block of Division as their preferred choice ????

    Is it because there is NO answer to that question? Except one that doesn’t suit the witch hunt?

    December 21, 2007
  10. John Thomas said:


    Using your logic above, we could say that you heckle the council every time you speak to them.

    Heckle is not the right word. Red shirts or Green Shirts or whatever shirts, the public is the public, and they have a right to be there.

    Good thoughts, but I do not think that word works, IMO. I do get your point though, so no worries.

    I was not around at that time, but I heard the big red show was interesting. We could also delve into how appropriate/inappropriate the red M&M’s were.

    If 100 people want to show up, and let the mayor know that they want him to step down, then so be it… as long as its a peaceful display, and done with respect to others.

    Satruday will be interesting.

    December 21, 2007
  11. John Thomas said:


    I was not aware that that type of action occured. That is just plain wrong, and those folks should have been removed from the chambers after one warning in my opinion.

    Of course, I could see how that whole thing was very heated. It is a shame that it came to that.

    Obviously, it was before I came here. I hope to never see something like that. Hopefully folks can behave themselves. Everyone can disagree, and it takes a lot of work to make sure everyone respects each others opinions.

    Personally, I am of the opinion that there are a lot of things wrong with the entire council and the city administrator as well as the the mayor. I cannot wait for the next election… Change may be good – Let the public decide.

    However, I also feel that they are all trying to do the best that they can, and that most council members are doing what they believe to be what is best for the city. The problem is priorities.

    I also feel that there are a heck of a lot more important things on Northfield’s TO-DO list, than building a new liquor store, and that the coucil has failed us in the fact that they do not have the needs of Northfield prioritized. What I want to know, is who is driving the priority list. Obviously it appears to me that the mayor was… 😎

    December 21, 2007
  12. kiffi summa said:

    John: I was referring to an organized group of people,who came in red t-shirts to every meeting for months, held up printed signs,and stood and made negative taunting comments to other people speaking at a public hearing. Those are either “hecklers”, or a small mob!

    Believe me, John, I have never reduced a council person to tears by anything I have ever said at the podium; at this point I sincerely wish I could, because hypocrisy and double standards are some of the most destructive “skills” of homo sapiens … Man.

    And there are enough double standards being held by these councilmen now to make a math wizard’s head spin.

    December 21, 2007
  13. Anne Bretts said:

    OK, I was not here during the ‘red scare’ and that’s not what this discussion is about at all. Please let’s not confuse that controversy with a discussion of an orderly assembly of citizens speaking to the mayor, not unlike the large group that lectured the council a couple of weeks ago.
    Throwing out that unfortunate and totally unrelated incident is an inappropriate way of changing the subject and demeaning the people in the current discussion.
    I am not organizing any demonstration or any group, I just suggested that perhaps if the mayor doesn’t understand what needs to be done, his constituents could explain it to him.

    December 21, 2007
  14. Patrick Enders said:

    I’m going to hope that basic HTML is the way to quote on this board. Here goes… Kiffi wrote:

    It boggles the mind that some seem to think the council bears no responsibility for this whole mess; the FACT is: from the fall of 2005 until late Spring 2007, the council constantly reiterated that their PREFERRED CHOICE for a liquor store location was the 600 block of Division.

    Kiffi, I don’t understand what exactly “this whole mess” is that you want the Council to accept responsibility for. The lack of a selected liquor store site? Public squabbling?

    The concerns regarding the Mayor are very specific: It is alleged that he took specific actions (through emails and through suppression of a report) that violated the ethics code, and that he did so in order to favor the financial interests of himself and his family.

    I don’t know what, if anything, will come of the whisperings and the investigations of persons other than Lee Lansing. When concerning facts, if there are any, regarding these other persons come to light, we can deal with those situations on their own merits.

    For now, we know what the Mayor has done, and we need to decide how we as citizens will respond to his specific misdeeds that are documented in the investigator’s report.

    December 21, 2007
  15. First of all, let me say that while I do not really wish to promote the idea of
    dishonesty on any level.

    Usually a good coverup is really being used to cover up something even more significant.

    December 21, 2007
  16. Scott Davis said:

    Regarding Kiffi’s question in #9 about the council, sans the Mayor, bearing responsibility for allowing 600 Division to be considered. I know you will find that answer in the tapes. The tapes the entire council, except the Mayor, voted to release to you, the public. It is all there and it has little or nothing to do with the Mayor personally.

    December 21, 2007
  17. Kiffi said: “Will someone please answer my question? Why does the council bear no or only a “lesser” responsibility, when from Sept. ‘05 to June ‘07 they continued to identify a property in the 600 block of Division as their preferred choice ????”

    Seems to me, Kiffi, that the Mayor acted to directly withhold from the Council a report labeling the 600 Division Street site as the least favorable option. That was one of the findings. Absent that report, I can see why the Council would have left that site at the top of their choices. If the Mayor wanted the Council in the dark about that report, he prevailed.

    It’s clear to me that you do not wish to accept the findings of the investigation, Kiffi. Understandable. I wish it weren’t so, as well. There may be, and probably is, other blame to spread around, but this doesn’t lessen the Mayor’s responsibility to understand where he, himself, was crossing ethical guidelines – without trying to point the finger at others.

    Because someone else is doing something wrong, it does not give you justification for doing wrong yourself. This is particularly true, or should be true, in the sphere of public leadership.

    December 21, 2007
  18. kiffi summa said:

    Brendon: And was it the mayor who actually held back the report from the council ???? No, Al Roder admitted he did not present the report at the council… looks to me like one person (Mayor) said,”That reports no good; I don’t think it should be presented now” and the second person, (Roder) said , “O.K.!”

    Is that not what has been stated and admitted to? or are we into “Rashomon” again?

    December 21, 2007
  19. kiffi summa said:

    Scott: I obviously do not know what is in the tapes. But I did sit at the council meetings, time after time, in person, with a notebook, and y’all kept saying, week after week, until June 2007, that the 600 block of Division was your preferred location. As a matter of fact at one meeting in the spring, Mr. Roder had to urge the collective “you” to identify a second site, Econo foods lot, for the sake of comparison.

    There are many, many meeting tapes that bear out the statement i just made.

    December 21, 2007
  20. Kiffi,

    I think the Mayor is Roder’s boss, right?

    My point is this: public money was spent on a report. The public, in the form of our elected representatives on the Council, had a right to the information. It was held back by the person who had the ultimate responsibility to make sure it was made public. It was held back for a very obvious reason: it contained the conclusion the Mayor least wanted the public and decision-makers to hear.

    As I stated in my comment #17, Kiffi, there is likely much blame to spread, but this makes the Mayor’s actions, by themselves, no less unethical or compromised.

    December 21, 2007
  21. Ross Currier said:

    I have taken a bit of heat from a few people, well maybe mostly Griff and Tracy, over my opinions expressed on the most recent LG podcast. I thought that I lived in the land of the free and the home of the brave but perhaps that stops at the Northfield Line. Bruce, I may be joining you in Dundas.

    The thought occurred to me that perhaps I should just let it all go and instead focus on the holiday season. I could wake up on New Year’s Day, see what is left of citizen-controlled government in Northfield, and take it from there.

    However, that’s clearly not my personality. So, instead I’ll restate my opinion again, just to make sure everybody knows what I think.

    First on the fallout from the Greene-Everett Report:

    — Regarding the site selection process for the new liquor store, the Mayor stated his conflict of interest and did not vote on the topic and so, in his interpretation of the Code of Ethics, believed that he was as free to act in his family’s interests as any other citizen. Clearly there are people that disagree with his interpretation and are condemning him for his actions.

    –The Greene-Everett Report is, in my opinion, completely one-sided, has absolutely no exploration of the equally important roles of the Administrator and Council in this matter, is generally lacking in real substance, and is far too dependent on personal opinions. In my opinion, and that would be personal, it should be taken with several grains of salt.

    –The liquor store is one small (and, in my opinion, should be de-prioritized) issue in the Mayor’s years in office. In my opinion, it is a reaction all out of proportion to ask him to resign based on the perception that some of his behavior related to this one issue was “improper”.

    –Getting rid of what is, in my opinion, at most one-third of the “Troubles at City Hall” (along with what I have witnessed over the past three or four years is at least one-third of a system of checks and balances in our local political situation), so we “can move on”, will, in my passionate personal opinion, permanently undermine our chosen system of local government.

    Then, on what I believe is the much larger and more important issue of our City’s current leadership, as it relates to the flap over the Greene-Everett Report:

    –Questions about the Administrator’s role in this issue, as well as documentation of his actions and comments during the process, should have also become public.

    –Questions about the Council’s role in this issue, and any documentation at all that may exist evidencing that they ever raised concerns with the Mayor about his actions during the eighteen or so months of the site selection process before the dramatic media explosion in July of this year, should have also become public.

    –The Mayor was clearly very meticulous about putting his thoughts and actions in writing, not seeming to be concerned that they might be used as documentation of improper actions. If there is no existing documentation about the Administrator’s or Council’s thoughts or actions regarding this issue it raises concerns, at least for me, that there were either no objections raised to the Mayor’s actions or, even worse, that the public release of these documents from these other sources would raise other, perhaps more serious, issues.

    Next, and perhaps most important, putting this one issue in the larger context of the many big issues of the summer:

    –Taking a step back and looking at these issues which include, at least in my mind, Heroin and the Police Chief, Prayer Ladies in City Offices (and Subsequent Administrator and Council Reactions), the Liquor Store Site Selection Process, (of course, my pet issue) the Leaking of Documents to the Newspaper, Intentional Inaction on the Historic Library, Consideration of Moving City Hall to the Old CCB Building, and any others that come to mind, and then asking questions about the involvement of all three of the key players, the Mayor, the Council, and the Administrator, might be more productive in addressing “the Troubles at City Hall” than debating over a few of the Mayor’s bank deposit slips.

    Finally, and maybe this is just a tiny technical matter:

    –It strikes me as, at best, a bit peculiar and, at worst, rather offensive, that this Special City Council Meeting (at which a Council Member is proposing that, among other things, the Mayor shall immediately vacate and relinquish his office at city hall and return all keys, including keys to city hall, to the City Administrator) is being held less than a week after the Greene-Everett Report was released, on a Saturday, a few days before Christmas, when most citizens should have family commitments and/or, hopefully, would be shopping locally for gifts. Personally, I think that if some people feel a need to burn a witch, we could wait until after the holidays.

    Okeh, now I’m going to participate in the holiday season, by shopping in locally grown stores; I still haven’t gotten something for my wife and time is rapidly slipping away. Here’s to the best for you and your families.

    December 21, 2007
  22. kiffi summa said:

    BRENDON: IN #17 you say : ” Because someone else is doing wrong it does not give you justification for doing wrong yourself ”

    So, after saying that, how do you feel that Mr. Roder was not wrong to withhold the report from the council?
    Can’t have it both ways… Can’t say the mayor has no more power than the council and then say the administrator is more “cowed” by the mayor than the other six council members; can’t say that there is not at least equal blame there.
    And if that is so, then how many other “interpretations” in the investigator’s report have been offered as fact, when they are, in truth, only “opinions” made by judging “in favor” of opposing testimonies? (Words in quotes are from the opening paragraph of the investigator’s report)

    December 21, 2007
  23. Kiffi,

    I would guess the investigator looked at the chain of events and said: “Who’s in charge here?” The mayor is. It’s a relationship of power.

    Should Roder have said: “Well, Mr. Mayor, actively suppressing a public report because it craps on your family’s financial priorities? No, I won’t do it!” Yep. Did you always say things like that to your bosses? That’s a very tough situation for an employee to be put in.

    Anyone who has read my comments on City Hall issues over the last year knows I’m no fan of some of the positions taken by Mr. Roder, but I can’t understand this rush to excuse the Mayor’s behavior because other people might have done things wrong too. If two people rob a bank, does each person’s crime exonerate the other’s… that’s the logic I’m hearing here.

    As Patrick Enders commented in his comment #14, very simply and eloquently:

    I don’t know what, if anything, will come of the whisperings and the investigations of persons other than Lee Lansing. When concerning facts, if there are any, regarding these other persons come to light, we can deal with those situations on their own merits.

    I honestly also fail to understand why people think that you can simply state that you have a conflict of interest and not vote and be clear of the taint of undue influence, especially when you are the person in charge?

    If I owned land that was under consideration for sale, I could go down to the City Administrator and advocate for it, I could write letters, I could encourage reports negative toward my land to be suppressed, but, and it’s a huge but, I have no direct role in passing ordinances or supervising the people that have to enforce ordinances or carry out the results of any decisions. I can try to twist arms, but I don’t have the leverage. The Mayor has that leverage.

    When elected to a position of power, you take on the responsibility to lead for the common good, to avoid impropriety with heightened judiciousness of action, and to understand the limits placed on your behavior by common ethical standards.

    The Mayor should have known this. Northfield’s published ethical code is clear and succinct. It’s basic common sense.

    Yes, other people have undoubtedly been doing wrong, or, at least, failing to do right when they could or should have. This does nothing to exculpate very specific behaviors exercised by the Mayor.

    Ross, you raise many other good points about other issues at City Hall that are left unresolved at this time. I don’t know what it will take to look into those. Public pressure, I’m sure, will work its way into them and pry them open, as it should. By finding fault with the Mayor, it doesn’t free others from the public’s continued scrutiny of their behavior, past and present, as it should not.

    I liked what Councilor Pokorney said, and I feel we need to prevent the affections we feel for Lee Lansing – and I have been a long-time customer of his store and grateful of the kindness and quality of the service he has always provided for me – from overly clouding our reception of the unpleasant conclusions reached about Mayor Lansing’s behavior in this matter.

    Understandably, that’s easier said than done, but, for reasons of civic accountability, we need to do just that.

    December 21, 2007
  24. Here are the facts, and the context, ethically speaking, of the current debacle:

    1. In 2001, we the citizens were asked in a referendum by City Hall if we would like to change the then city government from whatever it was to a ‘City-Manager’ form.
    2. Despite the fact that City Hall advocated the City Manager form, the citizens said NO. We did not say ‘we want a strong mayor’. We did say we do NOT want a City Manager.
    3. From that time in 2001 until Mayor Lansing took office the then City Council and The Charter Commission between them, perfectly legally, decided to transition the city government to City Manager…in complete disregard of the citizens’ vote.

    Was this legal? Yes. Was this ethical? I ask you to consider that this was a question put to the people – and the people responded in what we imagine is the pinnacle, the finest expression, the be-all-and-end-all, the throw ourselves on the barricades, the dogs bollocks, of the of the democratic process…a $%#@ VOTE for crying out loud!.

    Brendon: You consider who leads the City, where the power lies. In the light of the above, you tell me. And tell me…what is ethical?

    December 21, 2007
  25. Norman,

    I guess I’m not sure exactly how this connects to Lansing’s issues?

    Are you suggesting that, because the City Council and Charter Commission seemingly and slowly disregarded a democratic vote, and that, because you believe that disregard was unethical, this somehow excuses the Mayor’s behavior? That a precedent of unethical conduct existed; therefore we should disregard any current unethical behavior?

    I think, according to the Charter, the City Administrator still answers to the Mayor and the Council. If I’m wrong on that, please correct me.

    I can see that the Charter ambiguity that you have referred to may have created confusion and distrust in City Hall and aided and abetted turf battles, but that doesn’t excuse the specific misuses of power in which the Mayor engaged.

    You’re right that ethics, as a whole, as a field of inquiry, can be a murky area, but I believe the specific ethical guidelines of the City are clear and straight-forward. The Mayor, despite his protestations and based on everything I have read about the issue, seems to have run afoul of those guidelines in this case.

    Again, finding fault with the actions of others does not necessarily excuse the Mayor’s actions; nor does finding fault with the Mayor’s actions necessarily excuse the actions of others.

    As for exactly “what is ethical?” Perhaps, I’ll write a list…

    I think scientists have discovered almost five ethical things now.

    (Dear Locally Grown,
    This last bit was meant as humor; simply to illustrate that Norman’s point about the nature of ethics is complex, and almost anything could be said to be unethical in some small way. Norman is correct there. However, I think that, while important, we need not venture into the whole Field of Ethics to discern the particulars of this case and its own specific, ethical parameters. I would have put one of those smiley-face emoticons after the “scientists” line to indicate humorous intent, but I don’t believe in emoticons.)

    December 21, 2007
  26. Brendon. On the whole I agree with you that, indeed, one faux pax does not another excuse.

    Yet, whilst there is much murky about the Mayor’s and others’ ethical conduct in 2007, there is nothing at all murky about disregarding the results of a referendum (formal, legal, ethical and expensive) on whether or not we should have a City Manager.

    It’s that fundamental; and my argument in essence is that the aforementioned legally correct but totally unethical process set the scene and even determined the train wreck which we are all in now. It was an accident waiting to happen.

    So, while the vultures are hovering and the sharks circling, who will cast the first stone? The Northfield News says that we should all band together and collectively do so. I say NO.

    December 21, 2007
  27. Okay. I think I understand your argument better now, Norman. I’m not sure I agree with it, but asking you to fully flesh it out here to help me understand it more completely would probably involve you typing for a very long time, and, since I bump into you at the Cow at least once a week, and since you’re always fun to talk to, I’ll have to pull up a chair and listen to your full case the next time we see each other there. Any excuse to hang out at the Cow is good for me.

    December 21, 2007
  28. kiffi summa said:

    Is anyone going to respond to Ross’s long and well argued post # 21 ???
    Or is it just way easier to continue to “pile on” one person, when the blame is so interwoven and tangled between the council, the administrator and the mayor?
    My total frustration is based in the fact that virtually no one wants to place any blame/responsibility on parties OTHER than the Mayor, or be willing to consider the origin of SOME of his actions. Too many people are basing their knowledge of the situation on the newspaper’s reports, which IMHO hit the bottom feeding of biased reporting…

    By the way, if the Mayor had been ordered to pay approx. $3000. within 20 days to the last landlord he rented from and “stiffed”, you can bet it would be on the front page with an out -of -time-context photo, not buried in a tiny article in the middle of the paper. That’s what I’ve been thinking, but that’s what another fourth ward resident called me about last night.

    This is a “witch hunt” and all the big and little demons and “familiars” are getting off scot-free.

    December 22, 2007
  29. Linda Willgohs said:

    I totally agree that this is feeling like a witch hunt. And to think that we are supposed to pay $40,000 for an admittedly biased and incomplete investigation is preposterous!

    Brendon, you assert that Lee withheld info from the council and Kiffi argues that it was Al Roder who ultimately decided to withhold the info placing the 600 Division site at the bottom of the list. That is a fine point to argue, but I’m stuck on why Lee asked that the report be withheld in the first place. Lee asserts that the report did not include all the pertinent info to form a proper conclusion about the best place to locate the liquor store. Although Lee is in a precarious position because of his familial ties to the site to argue this point, could it be true that the report was indeed flawed? I don’t know if the report was flawed, but the owners of 600 Division clearly offered options that put them at greater risk in this transaction. First of all, the partners in the 600 Division site offered a leasing option where the City would lease the property for 3-5 years with an option to buy at that time. It is an “option” to buy, meaning that if the City decided that the store was too big (as the McComb study suggests might happen), the City could walk from the sight and move to a more appropriately sized location. Choosing another site and moving are costly, but it beats having bought the site and being stuck with it. And if the City left, where does this leave David Lansing and Paul Norby? – with a big building, a big mortgage and no tenant. How is that good for Lee’s son? In addition, when the finance director, Kathleen McBride, was preparing an analysis for the council, Lee said the annual lease payments would be closer to $200,000, but McBride stuck with her higher payment of $224,000. (page 29 of the Greene-Everett report.) Yes, having a lower lease cost of $200,000 would make the property look more attractive at the onset, but it also takes money out of his son’s pocket for the entire term of the lease. Again, how is that advocating for his son? Yes, Lee was advocating for the site, but could it be that his intention was to lengthen and enhance the downtown district to balance the Hwy 3 development? Could it be he wanted to improve our city by helping a developer turn a location that has never been too pleasing to the eye into a structure that ties into our historic downtown?
    Another major shortcoming of the Greene-Everett report is the investigation of the park dedication fees. Lee asserts that the developer of 600 Division was told by the City that the park fees would be $7,500 and that later the fees increased to $24,xxx. There was no investigation of whether the $7,500 was indeed communicated to the developer and if so, who calculated it and how. If the fee was originally communicated at $7,500 and later upped to $24,xxx, then Mayor Lansing should be incensed with city staff, as this is precisely the situation that other businesses and developers have complained about when dealing with City Hall (College City Beverage, anyone?) The investigator should have also looked at other park dedication fees – hopefully the City has records supporting the park fees that have been charged in other instances to other developers. Was the park fee for 600 Division calculated in a manner consistent with previous calculations or not?
    I am sad that the Council and so many citizens are taking this report with such a myopic view, seemingly making Lee the source of our all ills. He may have exerted undue pressure on city staff. He may not have. The Greene-Everett report does not provide the substantiation necessary to make that decision and call for the Mayor to resign. There are still too many unresolved, uninvestigated issues, including those listed by Ross earlier, to make a proper conclusion as to what is really wrong with the governance of our fair city.

    December 22, 2007
  30. Marc Toledo said:

    Hi, why don’t we discuss the issue over a waffle, is the new waffle place good?

    December 22, 2007
  31. Curt Benson said:

    I attended the council meeting this am. Lansing said he was not going to resign and requested that the Everett report be handed over to the county attorney.

    After citizen statements at the open mike and comments from the councilors, the council voted unanimously to adopt the resolution that censures Lansing, closes his city hall office, takes his keys to the building (Lansing has a key that allows him to get into any room at city hall) and to ask the county attorney to look at this situation.

    I’m hoping a podcast will be available of the meeting. I’m not capable of summarizing it well. However, I thought the citizen input at the open mike and the councilors statements were very damaging towards Lansing. Several councilors spoke of their long friendships with Lansing and how it was difficult for them to do what had to be done in this case. I don’t see how this can be called a “witch hunt”.

    Councilor Cashman spoke about his past experience as a prosecutor and said that he thought Lansing’s actions regarding the liquor store selection process were like bribery, and could be considered felonies.

    December 22, 2007
  32. Griff Wigley said:

    Curt, I moved a portion of your comments about this morning’s council meeting to a new comment, attached to my blog post about the meeting that includes photos and audio.

    It would help to have all further discussion about this morning’s meeting there, not here.

    December 22, 2007
  33. Kiffi,

    You said in post #28:

    Is anyone going to respond to Ross’s long and well argued post # 21 ???
    Or is it just way easier to continue to “pile on” one person, when the blame is so interwoven and tangled between the council, the administrator and the mayor?
    My total frustration is based in the fact that virtually no one wants to place any blame/responsibility on parties OTHER than the Mayor, or be willing to consider the origin of SOME of his actions. Too many people are basing their knowledge of the situation on the newspaper’s reports, which IMHO hit the bottom feeding of biased reporting…

    I did respond to some of Ross’s points near the bottom of my post #23. Again, because the Mayor may have had motive brought about by the missteps, errors, chicanery, etc… of others does not exonerate his actions.

    To use a drastic example, simply because someone is a jerk to me that does not give me license to attack that person with impunity.

    I hope, as I stated previously, that if there are other City Hall issues, that they continue to be taken care of in an appropriate fashion. This investigation was a way to work on some of the issues.

    Your complaints about Councilor Denison’s rental situation, which is being handled appropriately in the legal system, does little to support your case.

    Linda, are you asserting that the Mayor suppressed the unfavorable report out of magnanimity? I’m quite unclear on your argument. The report recommended five(?) other sites as better for the location of the liquor store. The Mayor didn’t like that. He took a public report, exerted undue influence and stuffed it. You seem to be suggesting that to have the liquor store on the 600 Division Street would have actually been a hardship for David Lansing and partner. An odd argument to make considering he was actively pursuing the development. Do you believe that that particular report was wrong and one-sided as well?

    I don’t believe that, because I agree with some of the conclusions of the investigation, that I am being “myopic”. I really wish people would not label those they disagree with in such a way. I and others here have readily acknowledged that there are obviously other problems at City Hall; Lee is not the source of all our ills, as you say. I hope those problems get resolved appropriately. This investigation was a way to work on some of the issues.

    Again, we need to separate our affection for Lee from his actions as Mayor.

    It’s not easy.

    December 22, 2007
  34. kiffi summa said:

    I hope someone will respond now to Linda Willgoh’s well put forth argument. I think people who have been getting their info mainly from the newspaper are simply not reading the full deck of information dealt.
    I’m sorry, Brendon, but this is not, in my opinion, helpful to base all conclusions on this very flawed report of Mr. Everett’s; and excuse me if you have read it all and we just disagree. If you indeed, as you say, think the Mayor is not the sum total of the “problem”, would it not be better to have the facts from all the various investigations, and then be able to weigh the situation more equitably? Is there not the danger that a citizenry, anxious for a solution, now says, ” well, now we know what happened, and that’s all resolved.”
    You’re a “theatre person”; I worked my whole life in the pursuit of theatre(when I wasn’t raising kids and sometimes when i was) and I would have a tough time directing 6 actors as to their motivation in the current “drama”, other than listening to the hormones of their bitter, competitive hearts!
    Listening to the way he was treated this morning, regardless of what they perceive/believe he has done, was more in line with someone who has been roasting babies in Bridge Square than with someone who has made mistakes, some possibly very serious, but has dedicated a lot of time and energy to community, and who also flips a kid a quarter from his cash register, so they can raid the gumball machine.

    This is NOT Dr, Jekyll and Mr. Hyde we’re dealing with, although the council would like you to believe that.

    December 22, 2007
  35. John George said:

    Marc- I don’t think any of us want to be accused of “waffling” on this issue.

    Kiffi- I agree with Brendon on this, as if I would ever agree with you on something, but, wonders never cease. I appreciate your loyalty to Mayor Lansing. My concern for you is that this deep loyalty, and your disdain for Al Roder, have clouded your vision. That is your prerogative, I guess, but IMNSHO, it diminishes the veracity of your opinions. You are, and have been, an ardent observer/participant in local government affairs. When this bitterness comes through, it is hard to respond to your evaluations. Why do you want to place blame on anyone? The investigation, flawed as it might be, has exposed some violations of the City Charter, or, at least, the spirit of the City Charter. These are things that can be resolved if the parties involved can accept the findings. It appears the mayor has refused to do so. This is forcing the hand of the city council and the whole citizenship of Northfield. No one else has been accused of a misdemeanor here. Please see my comment in the new thread on the mayor serving out his term. I don’t know how to do the URL, but it is in the sidebar.

    December 22, 2007
  36. kiffi summa said:

    John: You said: “Why do you want to place blame on anyone”….

    Just think about that statement in the context of what has been going on in this city for many months…

    Maybe you can understand this: the definition of “Pharisee” in the Random House Dictionary is, “a sanctimonius, self righteous, or hypocritical person”.

    Since you like Biblical allusions/illusions?…I say, when the rest of the “Pharisees” get removed from the “temple”, the light at the end of the tunnel may be approachable, if not realizable.

    December 23, 2007
  37. Martha Cashman said:


    You should be careful about what you wish for — “… the light at the end of the tunnel” may just be a train coming at you/us!


    December 23, 2007
  38. kiffi summa said:

    The Train has come (from Denison IA); it has collected its passengers (six who are so perfect , and have such a “lesser” responsibility, even for 1and1/2years worth of votes) that they feel comfortable with destroying a man, a family, a community, with their Train called Hypocrisy… and all to the tune of the “prayers” for the good of the community!

    December 23, 2007
  39. John George said:

    Kiffi- Jesus also said to the accusers about the woman caught in adultery, “You who are without sin, cast the first stone.” Pharisee? Hmmmmmmm…. You might take a look at James 1:19-25. I won’t take space to quote it all here.

    Martha- Good point.

    My pragmatic side asks, if you don’t have a key and don’t have an office, do you have a position? Maybe, but I don’t think this duck has any legs, let alone a lame one. Lee said he could better address the accusations from his position as mayor rather than from the sidelines. How can that be? It seems we finally have a council that is moving in unity, and they are the ones being accused because they accepted the findings of an “independent” investigation. If you don’t like the results, then I am sorry. I don’t hear anyone jumping up and down cheering about this, but there seem to be actions that violated the city charter. Are we just going to gloss these over or are we going to act on them? It appears the council has taken a position of action.

    December 23, 2007
  40. Lisa Guidry said:

    The mayor made his own decisions which have consequences and in this case it means legal actions. The mayor needs to get over playing the poor victim, he knew exactly what he was doing. If his actions are innocent he still needs to resign if he doesn’t know the code of ethics, because he’s not qualified to be the mayor.

    Kiffi I haven’t seen or read anything that proves the council members violated the code of ethics or broke any laws. I’m still waiting for the tapes to be released to make a intelligent decision on what was actually done by the council members.

    December 23, 2007
  41. kiffi summa said:

    John: My point precisely: “You who are without sin, cast the first stone”.

    A shame they didn’t look at their own actions before starting to throw.

    Re: James 1. 19-25 If you had looked a bit harder you might have found something that was not so ambiguous as to be able to apply to opposing viewpoints…But this is good advice for all “But let every man be swift to hear, but slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of Man worketh not the righteousness of god.”

    …could make a strong argument for waiting to hear the result of ALL investigations, before deciding who to work a “righteous” wrath against, could it not?

    December 23, 2007
  42. John George said:

    Kiffi- Take a look at Lisa’s entry, #40. I think there are some valid points here.

    Also, ever since I have been involved in this blog, I, and especially Al Roder, have been ducking “stones” from your pen. It seems you are very aware of motes in other peoples’ eyes, especially those who hold a different viewpoint than yours, but the log in your own eye is overlooked. If you want to call me and those of similar convictions, or those who want to hold the mayor accountable, pharisees, then that is your prerogative. You might take a look at Proverbs 26:2, though.

    Also, regarding your quote from James,”“But let every man be swift to hear, but slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of Man worketh not the righteousness of (G)god,” I’m very glad you saw that. That is the one I wanted you to find. Your 69 posts this month are not, IMNSHO, evidence of restraint. When you said, “A shame they didn’t look at their own actions before starting to throw,” does this not apply to you, also?

    I don’t follow your reasoning about the Council and their censure of the mayor. If being able to investigate a person’s behavior requires sinlessness, then I think there is no, and has never been, or could ever possibly be a rightous investigation. That is the reason we are a country of laws. The Mayor transgressed the law, and just because everyone else in town is not without guilt, that is no reason to pass over these alegations. That is the reason that the theory of relativity works in the physical world but does not work in the moral realm. Without laws, there can be no civil order. And if the council and the citizenry of Northfield do not uphold the law, then we are slipping toward anarchy. Also, I am not aware of any investigation, or even the need for one, of the members of the city council.

    December 23, 2007
  43. Does anyone realize how bizarre this is for people not of this particular culture or of this particular town (eg in Europe, Japan, Australia, everywhere) to read bible quotations in the middle of a discussion about the ups and downs of politics be it local, state, national, world?

    December 23, 2007
  44. John George said:

    Norman- You don’t have to be from somewhere else to consider this bizarre.

    December 23, 2007
  45. kiffi summa said:

    Excuse me, John, but you are the one who has been issuing Bible quotes , for my presumed edification, for months now. I can’t imagine that you find your own practice bizarre!

    I do also recall you saying to me: I’m going to challenge everything you say, so get used to it” ….. That was VERY personal; should I not respond?

    Norm: If you look back you’ll find the “lesson” is almost always presented with a Bible quote, meant to instruct the “unenlightened”. I have tried to respond as an intellectual exercise; unfortunately the Bible is subject to many interpretations, as is the Law. If you truly think people from Japan, Europe, and Australia are reading Locally Grown, there would be two possible outcomes: Griff would be elated, and people might discuss the odd direction American cultural and political discourse is taking.

    Watch out for flying stones, AND quotes!

    December 23, 2007
  46. BruceWMorlan said:

    I find a steady diet of bible quotes in a discussion to be a good indicator that no one has any facts to work with. When discussions sort of read like a Middle Eastern Taliban argument (how many lashes to give a women accused of being raped), all quotes and no foundations, then I tend to tune out, just like I tend to tune out long-winded arguments about the value and importance of the NFL decision to allow teams to attempt “two-point conversions” (and was that ever an important issue). Or did I miss something in the first amendment?

    December 24, 2007
  47. John George said:

    Kiffi- My original challenge was that I was coming from a Biblical world view, and that I thought it was defendable. Sorry if this is offensive to you, but if I present an argument and do not state my foundation, is that really correct? If you do not agree with my foundation, then that is ok. I don’t always agree with yours, but I reserve the right to argue from my perspective. You have a right to argue from your perspective. Neither one of us is going to convert the other, and that is certainly not my intention toward you. I would only hope to be able to converse without being called names.

    Bruce- As far as the reference to bizarre, I was only indicating that a lot of the contributors on this site probably think this line of discussion is bizarre. I don’t think a person has to go outside our borders to get that opinion. As far as Bibilical quotes being a place to hide when there are no facts, I look at the scriptures as being a good source of observation and insight into human nature. They help me understand the things I see in the world and society around me. I try to use these things to explain my opinions. I hope not to beat people over the head with them. If, in my zeal, I have done that, then please forgive me. I do have blind spots in my life. We do have a great freedom of speech in this country, and I would hope we would not sink to the level of censorship your reference to the Taliban infers. (In fact, my convictions would bring a sentence of death onto me and my whole family if I lived in one of these countries.)

    December 24, 2007
  48. Lisa Guidry said:

    Bruce I find your comments very offensive. Your diet has always left me with a bad taste in my mouth & I usually tune you out as well. We are all entitled to our opinions, but we can agree to disagree.

    December 24, 2007
  49. John George said:

    Kiffi- One more thought. I hope you and Victor have a very Merry Christmas. I also hope your family has safe traveling over the whole holiday season. Years ago, traveling to the relatives only meant a 5 or 10 mile trip. Nowadays, with our mobile society and ease of communications, it can mean traveling half way around the world. May God richly bless you in this coming year. (And I am NOT being sarcastic!! I’m serious!)

    December 24, 2007
  50. Bruce Morlan said:

    Lisa, sorry if I offend you. Re-reading my post I see that I conflated lack of facts (meaning there is no hard data, like a smoking gun) with other issues. My regrets.

    John, you apologized for having blind spots in your life. Good grief, man, that’s why we have to stick together, to cover each other’s blind spots.

    Now, does anyone know what the original thread in this discussion was? I seem to have dropped my stitch here.

    December 27, 2007

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