Mayor intends to serve out term; Council votes 6-0 calling for his resignation, keys, office space, further investigation by County Attorney

Northfield City Council Audience in Council chambers Mayor Lee Lansing

Before Mayor Lee Lansing recused himself from running this morning’s Northfield City Council meeting, he read a brief statement announcing his intent to serve out his term. Mayor Pro-tem Kris Vohs took over the meeting (left photo) and Lansing took a seat in the audience (center).

Lansing then read a longer statement (right) during the open mic part of the meeting. After 18 or so citizens spoke to the council during open mic, councilors took turns explaining their rationale for supporting the resolution calling for him to resign.

The council then voted unanimously for the resolution (see pages 7-9 of packet PDF) which includes having the Mayor vacate his office at city hall and turn over his keys, and that “a copy of the Everett Report be sent to the County Attorney for review to determine if Mayor Lansing’s conduct violated state law.”

Those three paragraphs sound very boring. There was considerable drama throughout this meeting.  The audio is well worth listening to.

Click play to listen. 1 hour 53 minutes. Or download this 52MB MP3.

2:15 – Lansing’s statement of intent to serve out term

3:55 – Discussion of Everett Law fees

11:00 – Start of discussion on the resolution

12:15 – Lansing at open mic

14:30 – Interruption of Lansing by Davis; audience yelling to allow Lansing to continue

17:20 – Interruption of Lansing by Cashman; more audience yelling

18:30 – Interruption of Lansing by Vohs

19:00 – Olivia Frey

21:30 – Victor Summa

22:45 – David Roberts

24:55 – Peggy Prowe

25:55 – Ron Griffith

27:15 – Rhonda Pownell

28:45 – Linelle Olson

29:45 – Martha Cashman

31:15 – Randy Lutz

33:45 – Beth Closner

36:30 – interruption by Vohs, Cashman suggestion

37:30 – Dan Dimick

38:45 – Kiffi Summa

40:00 – Rick Vanasek

42:15 – Jerry Rice

43:15 – Norman Butler

45:20 – Jon Denison

47:50 – Scott Davis

54:45 – Margit Johnson (email read by Deb Little)

56:45 – Felicity Enders (email read by Deb Little)

59:10 – Noah Cashman (1:15:40 – 1:16:00 audio interference accidentally by me)

1:20:30 – Arnie Nelson

1:22:00 – Jim Pokorney

1:35:10 – Kris Vohs

1:42:30 – Jim Pokorney (1:44:30 – audio cut accidentally by me)

1:44:30 – Noah Cashman (partial remarks)

1:45:50 – Arnie Nelson

1:46:25 – Scott Davis

1:47:20 – Jon Denison

1:50:15 – Discussion of and voting on resolution

1:52:00 – Discussion of closing of mayor’s office space, keys

1:52:45 – Motion to adjourn


  1. Curt Benson said:

    I attended the council meeting this am. 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
  2. kiffi summa said:

    Curt : You neglected to mention the citizen comments that supported the Mayor. I haven’t counted each “side” up, but I will.

    December 22, 2007
  3. Skip Zimmerman said:

    As I weigh my reactions to this latest development, I’d love to see a discussion about the specifics of a recall. Not having been through one before (and perhaps having been distracted by that gorgeous cheerleader in civics class), I’d like to ask:

    1. How does a recall work and what is the process?
    2. Who organizes it/calls for it? A petition by voters? The Council? The board of elections?
    3. How much does a recall cost?
    4. How long does a recall take?
    5. What alternatives are there to a recall?
    6. How much time is left in the Mayor’s current term?

    December 22, 2007
  4. Felicity Enders said:

    Skip: The specifics of a recall as outlined in Northfield’s charter (see PART I, Chapter 6) are somewhat confusing. However, the Northfield News had an article outlining the details in early November. As far as I, a non-lawyer-type can understand it, the News article appears to align with the charter’s requirements.

    December 22, 2007
  5. John George said:

    This is really an unfortunate turn of events. It seems the pattern for leaders in our country over last decade or so has been to evade responsibility for their actions. Though, I suppose, this seems to be a pattern in the whole population, from the president down to my 2 year old grandson. I guess it is little wonder that this behavior goes on in our government. Maybe people just don’t grow up anymore.

    It seems to me that if the mayor had gotten up and said something like, “Folks, I’m really sorry for what I did. I didn’t think it was wrong at the time, and I’m still a little unclear on some things right now, but, according to this investigation, it appears I have not followed the city charter as I should have. I am willing to take whatever steps you think I need to take to correct this.” How much ill will do you suppose this would have eliminated? How much healing to the fractures in the city goivernment do you think this would have mended? Unfortunately, he did not, and we won’t know.

    In reading through the report, it just stands out to me how much the mayor was involved in the whole process with the liquor store. If he was going to recuse himself from the process, it appears he did not. I don’t understand how this was not clear to him at the time, but I have been deceived before myself, so I will extend that allowance to him. It would be so appropriate for him to admit that, though.

    As far as a recall process, this is pretty clearly laid out in the charter. Someone will have the odious responsibility to get this started. If we as a city do not, the inaction will weaken the foundation of laws we are built upon. Distasteful as it appears, it looks like something that must be done. Happy New Year, everyone! (Sorry about the sarchasm in that last statement, Griff!)

    December 22, 2007
  6. The mayor is embarrassing himself and the city by not resigning when he has the council unanimously demanding it.

    Even if thinks he did nothing wrong — even if a healthy chunk of citizens think he did nothing wrong — there is just too much animosity for him to do anything productive with the rest of his term.

    As for the thoughts of this citizen, I was 90% hopeful he would resign until yesterday, when I was bumped to 100 by Jim Pokorney’s excellent letter to the editor.

    December 22, 2007
  7. Christine Stanton said:

    I listened to the meeting as I was wrapping presents tonight. The whole situation is sad….

    I was actually shocked by the way Lee Lansing was treated along with others who wished to speak. Frankly, I had to turn it off toward the end after too many rambles from Noah Cashman. (I think Scott Davis needs to move to the other side of the table.) Arnie Nelson and Jim Pokorney’s comments mirror my own thoughts and Jon Dennison’s heart is in the right place.

    It is sad to say that I have to agree with Sean’s #8 comments. To me, it is not because of the findings of the Everett report, but for the health of our city and Lee Lansing personally.

    David Roberts commented that “It’s Christmastime.” I think we really need to remember the true meaning of that this year in Northfield, whether we are Christian’s or not. Our moral standards for how we treat others need some serious thought.

    December 23, 2007
  8. Griff Wigley said:

    I’ve added audio time markers to everyone who spoke at the meeting and added this to the blog entry above.

    In addition to Councilors, the citizens who spoke were:

    Beth Closner
    Dan Dimick
    David Roberts
    Felicity Enders (email read by Deb Little)
    Jerry Rice
    Kiffi Summa
    Linelle Olson
    Margit Johnson (email read by Deb Little)
    Martha Cashman
    Norman Butler
    Olivia Frey
    Peggy Prowe
    Randy Lutz
    Rhonda Pownell
    Rick Vanasek
    Ron Griffith
    Victor Summa

    December 23, 2007
  9. kiffi summa said:

    Christine said: “Our moral standards for how we treat others need some serious thought”…..

    I think that is maybe the simplest, most direct, applicable statement that has been made with reference to the “cannibalization” of one, by the other six of his “Tribe”.

    If there is one of the other six, who says they are “clean”, let them come forward and be challenged… Sounds too Biblical ? Well, isn’t that what we’ve seen here? The holier-than-thou types will be all up in arms at me for this, but there are epic struggles in the Bible stories, and all those sanctimonius “accusers”, in the “temple” yesterday morning, should have thought of their own actions ( to say nothing of their own council votes)
    before they picked up the stones.

    December 23, 2007
  10. Well, it’s official then; we have a City Manager/Weak Mayor form of government contrary to the will of the people as expressed in the 2001 referendum yet in agreement with the will of The Charter Commission (2001-2004) and the collusion of the past two Councils (2001-2008).

    They have taken his office space (can we be remodeled for the Prayer Ladies I wonder), his keys..why not his testicles (since he persists in not resigning) or would that be considered unethical?. The King is dead (Mayor)! Long Live The King (City Manager)!

    Now all you subjects who keep wanting this Strong Mayor/City Administrator form of government…and a Building Board Of Appeal….or a prosperous and vibrant downtown…and as for a liquor store downtown…or more than 30 seconds at the open mic…did I say 30, I meant only 10….or repeal of the finest piece of local law ever written, The Rental Ordinance…well, pay attention now because I’ll only say this once…

    December 23, 2007
  11. David Henson said:

    Griff – split up MP3s and all very impressive – really shows off the power of new media ! I felt like I had listened to a palace coup. The interpretation the 6 councilors offered up was really over the top. They complained that the Mayor was not reporting to them properly as though Northfield elected the mayor to be their servant. Then one councilman goes on about how he told the mayor what he should and should not talk about legally. I honestly think these councilmen have become convinced that Northfield elected 6 Mayors and 1 agent who was to act as their servant or reporter. I believe most of Northfield voted for the Mayor as the top executive and if they voted at all for councilmen, did so with the understanding that their role was subordinate. The fact is when the state auditor refused to look into the Lansing issue – undoubtedly because it had no legs – they hired a special investigator with $40,000 (Lee should never have agreed to this type of waste but one could see he was in a bind). At $653.77 per page we should expect Mark Twain quality writing (I was disappointed) but we should not expect the purveyor to be any more neutral than a hit-man.

    The council members stated their decision was based on an overwhelming voter opinion against Lee. The reality, at the meeting was, excepting one councilman’s sister and two angry development partners (do they live in Northfield ?) with axes to grind, exactly “one” citizen named Peggy spoke against Lee. I did not count but around a dozen citizens spoke in his favor.

    I wonder where Lee will set up his Mayor-Citizens meetings and how these resolutions will be handled by the city council ? The Cow ?

    December 23, 2007
  12. Martha Cashman said:


    Although I am the sister of one the Council members; I AM a taxpaying, local shopper and resident of Northfield. My husband and I CHOOSE to relocate to Northfield because of the progressive, civic involvement and neighborliness of the community. The added benefit was close proximity to each of our extended families.

    I am an educated citizen, I do my own research into topics of concern (including purchasing and reading the book “Denison Iowa”) , and draw my own conclusions.

    Others have said it very clearly on this thread, the actions of the mayor are an embarrassment to Northfield. His actions have polarized this community. He needs to take responsibility for his actions — his motivations (Lee the man and father and Lee the mayor) for those actions are immaterial. He has breached the trust of many of the citizens of this community. If he truly cares for Northfield, he will do what is honorable and right — he will resign and help this community heal.

    If there are other issues lurking within city hall and city government, they will surface and be addressed by the city council and the body politic.


    December 23, 2007
  13. David Henson said:

    Martha –

    I agree, without a doubt, a very bright and articulate “sister” !

    But , I have bought items from Lee, sold items to Lee, I think his development would be great for Northfield, I voted for him, I would vote for him again. And I think there are forces that would like the liquor store out by chains to insure the downtown implodes and that Lee is standing in valiantly and fighting to improve downtown Northfield and keeping the community from becoming just another suburb.

    December 23, 2007
  14. Martha Cashman said:


    I, too, have patronized the mayor’s hardware store … purchasing everything from bungee cords, to paint, to a garden cart. The issues with the mayor are not about him as businessman who serves the community. The issues concern his behavior as mayor. Even if you remove Mr. Everett’s comments and you look only at the memo’s that the mayor sent, his tone and intent is quite clear. And, these were sent of his own volition and in his own words. I find them to be quite damning and they substantiate the mayor’s inappropriate behavior.

    The discussion is not really about the merits of a new liquor store located downtown. Personally, I think a larger liquor store that is located downtown is a terrific idea. Again, the merits of a new, downtown liquor store is not germaine to the issue. It is about the behavior by the mayor to inappropriately use his position to influence the outcome of the decision process.


    December 23, 2007
  15. Curt Benson said:

    David, I don’t believe your assessment of why the state auditor declined to look into Northfields’ situation in your post #14 isl correct.

    You said:

    ” The fact is when the state auditor refused to look into the Lansing issue – undoubtedly because it had no legs – they hired a special investigator with $40,000″

    The state auditor declined because the issues were not in its purview. It was the state auditor that suggested that the city would be better served if it hired a special investigator. I can’t find the test of the auditor’s letter to Northfield, but it is explained in this article from the News:

    December 23, 2007
  16. David Henson said:

    From the state auditor website:

    “The Audit Practice Division …. audits for evidence of whether local government activities are being administered in accordance with Minnesota law”

    “The Legal/Special Investigations Division investigates allegations of theft or misuse of public funds. It also provides legal compliance expertise to the State Auditor’s several divisions and … to local government officials. ”

    I think the state auditor would not pursue because the threshold of malfeasance was was too weak and it looked like a local cat fight and pursuing such would have a chilling effect on local governments throughout the state.

    My prediction is this issue is not going away and that it will be great for Northfield because the showdown between a citizen/businessman leader backed by the will of the people verses lawyers and bureaucrats will be of great interest beyond Northfield’s borders. High paid private special investigators in a town of 15,000, I mean please.

    December 23, 2007
  17. Holly Cairns said:

    I feel that taking someone’s desk and keys is ridiculous. I’ve heard of nuns doing that kind of thing, but not city officials? What the heck?

    Sorry, I can’t go along with that. I think time would have helped to move him out, but taking keys and desks… that’s embarrassing. Sounds like junior high antics.

    Also, the Porkorney letter. Does Porkorney have a degree in physchology? Or what? In his article, he seems to say there’s two Lansing personalities. I didn’t like the article, and I don’t like it when people make judgements and do a smear campaign based on uneducated guesses, unless Porkorney is a phychologist or pychiatrist, and in that case, I’m sorry for doubting his assessment.

    I think this should be handled in the courts instead of on the streets.

    December 23, 2007
  18. Lisa Guidry said:

    Holly I am 100% in favor that the mayor should resign and turn in his keys. According to the Star Stribune he still hasn’t turned the keys in. I personally believe that if he hasn’t turned the keys in by Monday AM , the city should have the the building rekeyed at the mayor’s expense. I do not trust or respect the mayor any longer and I’m not comfortable with him having the keys.

    December 23, 2007
  19. Mike Bull said:

    Having listened to as much of this meeting as I could (in between buying stocking stuffers, and wrapping presents… and, ironically, running to the liquor store), my sense was that the city council came out of the meeting looking much worse than it did going in.

    As I semi-engaged citizen… I just can’t figure out what the heck is going on in our little town. I’ve paid attention to each individual situation, starting with Gary Smith’s press conference, then the Lansings, then the prayer meetings, then the suit…. on and on, and now this. What in the world is going on here in Northfield? Maybe that’s a different thread, but I have to admit, I’m flummoxed. Is our government here different or worse than other towns our size? Can we blame it on the media somehow? Are we taking ourselves too seriously? Not seriously enough?

    December 23, 2007
  20. Lisa Guidry said:

    Well David if the mayor-citizen meetings are going to be held at the Cow,
    I’ll be on the other side of the pub disagreeing with the small fan gathering. I also believe David that you are being biased with your comments.

    December 23, 2007
  21. kiffi summa said:

    Good questions, Mike…

    Here’s another, since the Mayor cannot be removed from office by the council, only censured, what does this mean to the Issue of “the keys”?

    He IS still the Mayor (elected by some 6500 people), and if the office he uses is a privilege/function of his title, as is the office the councilors use is a privilege of their status (both of these office situations created in this term, by the way) then how can the council’s censure strip him of the rights still accruing to his status……

    I don’t see how this resolution does anything that is legally binding other than officially censure him?

    December 23, 2007
  22. Kiffi, surely the city council knew what they did and did not have the power to do. It seems plausible that they have control over who has access to city hall.

    Lisa, I don’t entirely agree with your comment #22, in which you said, “I do not trust or respect the mayor any longer and I’m not comfortable with him having the keys” — I don’t exactly imagine him loading up computers and file cabinets in his truck and selling them on eBay. I do agree that the mayor should comply with the council’s order, though.

    December 23, 2007
  23. Mike Bull said:

    Well, my thought on the council’s “order” is that I don’t think I *want* the city council to have the authority to force the mayor out of office, either directly or indirectly (through this key thing). In any sort of executive branch/legislative branch relationship — which is how I see the mayor/city council relationship — there needs to be checks and balances. My preference is that the city council leave the issue of who Northfield’s mayor is to Northfield voters, through directly voting and recall elections, or to the courts, in the event that the mayor has done something criminal.

    December 23, 2007
  24. Martha Cashman said:

    In the spirit of public disclosure, I should acknowledge that David Henson is my ex-brother in-law.

    Kiffi, enough with the paranoia and conspiracy theory stuff! There is NO “train” from Denison IA and, last I checked, all six council members are highly respected, long-time residents of Northfield. They did not arrive on any “train”. The council and the administrator have not “destroyed a man, a family, a community….” The mayor and his supporters should re-read the mayor’s memos then take a look in the mirror. Who is destroying whom?

    The six council members are doing their job as publicly elected, participating members of a civil society. At least three of the members have had a friendship with the mayor for near fifty years. Yet, they voted according to the facts and what the laws of the land dictate. They were not coerced or bullied. They did the job we elected them to do — to uphold the laws of this town. It was an agonizing, difficult, unanimous vote.

    Regarding the “Pharisee’s” (Random House Dictionary: “a sanctimonious, self righteous, or hypocritical person”) in the temple, I would again direct certain contributors on this thread to look in the mirror. Certain “high volume” bloggers have consistently posted rumors and innuendos that have hurt and damaged city employees (and their families); as well as six stalwart council members (their families and professional reputations). WHERE ARE YOUR FACTS??? What happened or did not happen in Denison IA is not relevant to what is happening in Northfield.

    The “high volume” bloggers (HVB’s) have refused to let the facts speak for themselves. The HVB’s have chosen sides in spite of the mayor’s own words contained in his memos. IF there is further mischief in city hall or with the council it too will reveal itself. Once it is FACTUALLY substantiated, it is then appropriate to take action. Speculation and innuendo are not facts.

    As I stated in my remarks on Saturday morning, “… God forbid any one who has the gall to disagree with the very vocal minority.” If you choose to disagree you are castigated and civil discourse is thrown to the wind.

    I was cautioned (not by my brother) by another long time member of the council that they hoped that I knew what I was getting into if I choose to express my views about the mayor. I have been told by other friends and acquaintances that they would not publicly express their views on the subject of the mayor because they feared retribution.

    Well folks, about two hours ago, I went to take my daughter to do some shopping. The trip was delayed because some fine citizen had strewn garbage all over my driveway and front lawn. It was not the ‘type’ of garbage blown in by the wind/weather. So much for another constitutionally protected freedom — freedom of speech. Shame, shame, shame on who-ever did this dirty deed!!!!

    Finally, regarding retrieving the “Grand Master Keys” for city hall that are in mayor’s possession. Perhaps some of you have not been in the position of supervising individuals who have access to critical personnel information. I have supervised well over a thousand employees. When a person is suspected of malfeasance it is imperative that access to critical files is eliminated. It is good business practices and reduces the potential liability for one’s self as well as the institution that employs you.

    It is okay to beg for forgiveness for the mayor’s indiscretion however; those who constantly stir-the-pot on every issue refuse to apply the same standard to others. Surprise, surprise — another double standard.

    Well, I am going to go check my yard to see if any new garbage has been deposited. I am so disappointed in the behavior of some Northfield residents. Nothing I have done or said deserves this kind of behavior. It sure makes me feel great about living here….

    December 23, 2007
  25. Lisa Guidry said:

    Martha I’m sorry that you had to experience retaliation for freedom of speech. I hope this won’t discourage you and prevent you from blogging in the future.

    December 23, 2007
  26. Anne Bretts said:

    Don’t let anyone get you down. Lots of people agree with you and you’ll start hearing from them as soon as they know what you’re posting. I get positive comments all the time. The idea that a majority supports the mayor is pure speculation. We all speak for ourselves, no one else.
    I couldn’t be there Saturday morning, but I am proud the council took a stand on principle.
    The people who don’t believe the report never will, no matter how many facts are presented.
    For the record, I don’t have a stake in the outcome here. I moved here after the last mayoral election.
    In 20 years of covering and following local government in three states, I can’t remember an investigator’s report being more clear and unequivocal.
    According to some on this site over the last months, I don’t know what I’m talking about. Six councilors came to the same conclusion and they are wrong. The News came to the same conclusion, and the News doesn’t know what it’s talking about. The independent investigator provided 61 pages of the mayor’s own words damning him, and the investigator is wrong. Representatives from every major news organization in the state have read the report and they don’t know what they’re talking about.
    So everyone is wrong and the mayor is right. And we could do six more investigations with six more independent investigators, and the mayor and a handful of supporters wouldn’t believe them and would maintain that others are more guilty. As I said earlier, the fact that the mayor and his friends don’t see that he’s done anything wrong is the scariest part of this whole situation. It means they will feel free to do this again…and again.
    This is not a witch hunt; these were issues for which the mayor sought an investigation. He just doesn’t like what the investigation revealed. He asked the question and now he doesn’t like the answer.
    The real witch hunt has happened over the last year, as a small group of people have slandered the council and administrator repeatedly, without presenting a shred of solid evidence. Even now there is no evidence. The investigator searched and found nothing. The big flap over mishandling the pay plan…nothing. They had a chance to convince convince the investigator and had nothing to offer. Mr. Roder was cleared on every matter covered in the report. (Other investigations are pending, but have not shown any wrongding to date.)
    All these people were interviewed and showed no evidence to support their version of the story. There are just vague hints of ‘everyone sharing blame’ and some past evil in Iowa…
    What we do have are facts about the here and now. The council has taken a stand. Now it’s time for the citizens to join the council in standing up for what’s right. Call the mayor, write to him, e-mail him and tell him respectfully that it’s time for him to do the right thing and leave.
    And of course, he should turn in his keys.
    The only question now is whether we have to start the recall process, or whether Mr. Lansing will come to his senses. This is not something we want, but another burden the mayor has put on the citizens because he puts his personal desire to be mayor above the good of the city.

    December 23, 2007
  27. Martha Cashman said:

    Thank you, Lisa. It is very difficult for me. I am so disappointed. I hope you enjoy all of the Blessings of the Season. In the New Year, may the City heal and become an enchanted place to call home — once again.

    December 23, 2007
  28. Holly Cairns said:

    Lisa, rekeyed? At his expense? Wow.

    C’mon. Let’s sit back and take a breath. I don’t want to read about any “take downs” where someone wrestles the keys from MAYOR Lansing, either.


    Exerting undue pressure isn’t the same as stealing 3.8 gazillion dollars. What about all the missing money? That is what makes me think twice.

    As far as Lansing having access to major files– hmm, he’s had that for a while, now. And he won’t be stealing product information or anything. What’s he going to take that he would benefit from?

    And who spread garbage on Marsha’s drive? Now that is going too far.

    Barnum is going to bring the bigtop, and we’re all going to run around in it. Faribault and Farmington folks can pay $8.00 to see us all perform.

    December 23, 2007
  29. Martha Cashman said:

    Anne, thank you for kind words of support. I too have been politically active all of my adult life. In fact, in my past life, I was offered a presidential political appointment and have been repeatedly invited to attend the Renaissance Weekend in Hilton Head. I have been around the proverbial “block” a few times. However, I have never witnessed or experienced what I have experienced here in Northfield.

    I too moved here two years ago. I cannot recall if the mayor was on the only ballot I cast as a resident of Northfield. I may have been too distracted by my husband dying of leukemia.

    Holly, my name is MARTHA — not Marsha. If you are implying that I would fabricate the garbage on my lawn then I am outraged and insulted. I am known in the political and business world as a “straight-shooter”. My actions and decisions are based on reality and facts.

    December 23, 2007
  30. John George said:

    Martha- In the imortal words of Winston Churchill, “Never give up!” This is definitely the height of ridiculousness and the bottom of the barrel of local politics, all in one event. My heart goes out to you! If I knew where you lived, I would personally come over and clean up your yard, but don’t divulge that here. It appears that someone is throwing more than “stones” in this event.

    And to your whole post #28, I say AMEN!

    December 23, 2007
  31. Lisa Guidry said:

    Martha keep your head up, I respect people that say it like it is. I don’t sugar coat anything either, and alot of people can’t handle straight forwardness. It is what it is , so walk on and make your mark in life.

    December 23, 2007
  32. Skip Zimmerman said:

    I’ll echo Lisa’s comments in support of Martha. I’ve never met you, Martha, and don’t know you, but I’m appalled that such behavior might be perpetrated against anyone with the cajones to give voice to sentiment in a community as thoughtfully supportive of free speech as Northfield is.

    Griff, et al., there’s a serious tragedy in this one, and I’d assert that it would certainly be well worth starting a separate thread on this to see if any such culprit will shed the cowardice and ignorance of the white hood and be willing to add their thought-leadership to the continuum. Hmm…Just childish. (Oops, better go check my lawn – that’s 811 St. Olaf Avenue, in case this yahoo has some extra cowardice to throw)!

    Martha, someone stupid enough to do this is probably dumb enough to leave an old envelope with a complete mailing address in the mess. Might be worth a look! In fact, if they’re reading this, I expect their immediate response will be something akin to, “oh, ‘poop’…! Did I dump and run without sorting out the junk mail?”

    Anyway, at the very least if enough people post in protest, the cowardly lion will eventually run out of stuff to throw and we can get on with the other discussions. Whaddya say, Griff-ol’-Wizard-ol’-pal? Care to help this person find some COURAGE?

    December 23, 2007
  33. Skip Zimmerman said:

    Ahh…and a deep breath in the thick of the fight, Martha. I didn’t read anything like accusation into Holly’s comment. Only heartfelt support and surprise, given with a downcast eye and a sadly shaking head.

    December 23, 2007
  34. Martha Cashman said:

    What has happened has happened. I do wish this community would return to civil discourse — POLITELY agree to disagree. No retribution unless the one’s actions threaten the integrity of the City and its’ residents. This is a very small fish bowl and I would like to live here IN PEACE, with many friends, for the remainder of my years.

    I do not care who the culprit is — I want the insanity and divisiveness to end. I want the wonderful, magical community with a strong, vibrant downtown and arts community that my husnad and I chose together. I want the Northfield that mowed my lawn, prepared meals for me and my children — the Northfield that lovingly cared for me and my children although we were unknown quantities. I want that Northfield back.

    I am moving on and do not intend to hunt down the culprit. They must live with their own shame. In the end, this will be worse than anything I, or any one else can do.

    December 23, 2007
  35. kiffi summa said:

    From the beginning, I have asked that people not choose sides until ALL the investigations were completed and the facts could be weighed with respect to each other. If you went back in these archives you would see that being said over and over; but very early on, in July, the council started choosing sides between two of their employees, the administrator and the police chief. That was very wrong, it set the stage for divisiveness, and from there it went on, and on.

    The attacking of a citizen, by the administrator, and others, when the issue of the prayer ladies secreted in the administrator’s office was brought to the open mic, was in my view another point of exacerbation.

    You must remember that the only person who could NOT have leaked the initial packet to the paper was the Mayor, as it was all damaging to him. So that was someone at city hall who did that. I understand the newspaper publisher apologized to the mayor for the disclosure of private information, but it wasn’t in the paper at all, just in the office.

    You must also remember that the Mayor was the one who asked for the initial investigation by the State; does that look like someone with something to fear? Who resisted? the council. What did they have to be concerned about? Considering what has happened, I don’t think their supposed concern for the “city” was very sincere.

    Let’s also remember that the issue of the liquor store tapes which has been made so much of…. well, it was the council who would not let them be public from May ’til late Fall, and then cried”foul” when other financially involved parties raised concerns. I would think Ray Cox might comment on this if he weren’t running for office; I fully understand why he doesn’t care to now.

    I wouldn’t be too sure of the numbers on who supports who; remember there are a lot of good, principled people in this community who do not like “to sit in the front Pew”.

    I could go on, but EVERYONE is now too polarized by the severity of the
    events to go on with a discussion of issues only, myself included, because of the way the issues have not been able to remain as such without involving personalities. Unfortunately, people who are elected to public office cannot have their actions divorced from comment. Not the Mayor, nor anyone else on the council.

    I’m very sorry that you, Martha, had to experience the trash in your driveway; maybe it was the same person who shot the b-bs in my front windows during the Target debate. There is a punitive aspect to some of the behavior in this community, and many people have experienced it, on various issues.

    I’d also like to make clear I don’t believe in conspiracies; I do believe that history” repeats itself, and that persons who have issues of power seek places wherein they can exercise that need.

    I personally would welcome a referendum in which all the council, including the Mayor, who IS one of the council still, and the city administrator, are rated as to “stay or go”. The elected officials should only be evaluated by the electorate, and the administrator has been too intimately involved with what appears to be negative dynamics…

    Northfield is a town that faces many serious economic and social problems, as do many small towns…and the fact that so many people care so deeply, whether they comment here or not, is a good, not a bad thing. I don’t hate anybody; I am deeply disturbed by the lack of dealing with problems before they become exacerbated, whether by acts of commission or omission.

    So, You can go ahead and “bitch” at me all you want…
    Peace in the New Year!

    December 23, 2007
  36. Holly Cairns said:

    Martha. Not Marsha. And I don’t think you fabricated anything, and I find it horrible.

    Fishbowl– that reminds me:

    Take a fish and put it in boiling water, and it will instantly die, but gradually increase the water’s temperature and you’ll have a fish swimming like mad when it boils.

    Feels like it’s boiling here in Northfield.

    December 23, 2007
  37. Martha Cashman said:

    Holly, thank you. I agree with you it is boiling and I, along with many others are “tired of swimming like mad when it boils”. Life should be joyful.

    December 23, 2007
  38. Anne Bretts said:

    Martha, I am so sorry for your loss. There are so many new people chiming in here now and so many new people in town, it can be very hard to figure out what’s going on and where we fit. But there are great people here and it can be a wonderful place.
    So, I have been mulling this over for weeks and it seems that it might be a good idea after all. I’m thinking it would be great to do a 12th Night party to celebrate the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of a new year and the reflective beauty of winter and new friendships and meeting people we only know online and the return of food without sprinkles or whipped cream and anything else that comes to mind.
    The problem is that the 12th night is Jan. 6, a Sunday and I’m not competing with the events at the Cow. Also Saturday is a better night for a party. So in the interest of goodwill, civil conversation and just plain fun, I think it will be a 12th night’s eve party on the 11th night, Jan. 5.
    More details later, but these parties are just plain fun.
    In the meantime, Martha (and anyone else who wants to talk more or meet people) just e-mail me at and we can start integrating some face time into this online community. I’m working on an informal newcomers network and it seems as though there are a lot of us.
    Have a comforting, hopeful Christmas.

    December 23, 2007
  39. David Henson said:

    Griff – I know people can differ on the highjacking by the council but clearly these posts are an attempt to highjack this thread.

    December 23, 2007
  40. Patrick Enders said:

    My sympathies regarding the mess on your lawn. I’d never imagined ‘discourse’ could sink to that level in this fine town.

    Also, you are at least not completely alone in your conclusions regarding the Mayor’s activities. I’m fairly certain that six council members, a newspaper editorial board, an investigator, and a minimum of five or six other persons are deeply alarmed by Mayor Lansing’s actions. Locally Grown is a bit of an echo chamber, where a fairly small number of persons – maybe a dozen or two, including myself – post repeatedly on these subjects. What the rest of Northfield thinks is anyone’s guess.

    I hope you can still have a wonderful holiday. Perhaps in the new year we’ll find a democratic way to sort this all out.

    December 23, 2007
  41. Christine Stanton said:

    I worked for many years in retail. During the Christmas season (and other times of the year) there were always those “difficult” customers. After our second daughter died suddenly in 1999, I went back to work and thought, “We never know where people are coming from.” Those difficult customers might have had a family member die, or be having a difficult moment, day, life, or year. Life can be tough and painful at times.

    Yes, Martha, it SOULD be joyful, but that is not always reality. That thought I mentioned above has allowed me to be more patient and compassionate. I am not a saint, so I need to remind myself of that thought often. Yes, my faith is strong, but at times I too get “tired or swimming like mad when it boils.”

    Good or bad, my mental and emotional health has forced me to see that there is always another option. Maybe instead of swimming like mad there comes a times when we need to jump out of the boiling pot. Who is right and who is wrong no longer matters. What maters is survival–our physical, mental, and emotional survival. Along with that is the hope that this too shall pass, and there is something more. That is the hope I wish for Lee Lansing and his family.

    No, I am not a psychologist, but I have had the opportunity to find a wonderful one to help me through my struggles.

    (Just to be clear. Martha, I am NOT saying that you need a therapist. In fact, I hope and pray you do not. You have every right to be angry about having garbage thrown on your lawn. Maybe if the culprits would have “thought” about what they are doing, they would have made another decision. Frankly, I have a hard time believing that any adult would do such a thing. It was probably some kids who had no idea about your political involvement. IF, it was (an) adult(s), I would be more than appalled.)

    Christmas comes whether we are “prepared” or not. Christmas comes even when we are sad, angry, happy, joyful, naive, wrong, or right. That is the beauty. Christmas comes whether we are in the “spirit of the season” or not. Peace….

    December 23, 2007
  42. Martha Cashman said:

    David, I have not “hijacked this thread. I expressed my position as a citizen about the mayor breach of ethical behavior and I have suffered repercussions. I work to support my family, I pay taxes. My husband and I started our own foundation to address the needs of others. I resent that what began as request for the mayor to acknowledge his behavior and resign to help the community to heal has become a personal attack on me to hijack this thread.

    Christine, I am no saint. I have many flaws that have been pointed out to me, these flaws I have either had to live with or work very hard to correct. Life’s adversities have made me a strong, focused individual. I have deftly dealt with issues that make the mayor’s problems look like chump change. Clearly, you do not believe me — so be it. I am not here to live up to your expectations. You do not know me — I do not know you. I do know the published record of the mayor’s actions.

    Christine, just for the record, I worked for four years in a small hardware store; I worked for a canning company on the beans line with Mexican immigrants; I worked for a retail store for six years while I was at the university, I got up at 4 am to do food prep for the dorm meals; I was a resident advisor for two years counseling freshman students; I was a senior nursing assistant for four years working with quads/paras/burn patients and brain injury patients; I have suffered the loss of a brother and a husband; I have run major humanitarian organizations; I have run my own in-home eldercare business; and now, with what I hope is my last job, I am working to save the small communities of rural America. I am trying to give back to the farmers and ranchers who have supported me over the past twenty years.

    I have tried my best to be honest, direct and express my views (as a citizen) on the current situation with the mayor. I’ve been slapped down enough. I do not know who did what to my property. I have lived through worse. I just think it is tragic that by exercising my rights under the First Amendment that I am accused by David Henson of hijacking this thread and by Christine Stanton of being unstable. Shame on each of you. These are innuendos — an attempt to discredit me.

    UNCLE — I am convinced that I cannot and do not want to express any further contributions as an informed, educated citizen. I want no further speculations or retributions.

    As Edward Murrow said: “Good Night and Good Luck”.

    December 24, 2007
  43. Christine Stanton said:

    Whoa, Martha. I specifically stated that I did NOT believe you needed a therapist! AND, I never said that I did not believe you! I admire your strength and demand of ethical behavior.

    However, after your last response I question your ethics, and I take offense at being shamed. I believe you perceived much more than what I stated. You might be surprised that I may agree with you on several issues.

    I finally am done with my cookie baking. Good Night. In all sincerity, I am not sure if I want to say “Good Luck” as it seems mine was not so great tonight. At least the cookies turned out. 🙂

    I hope all of us who log on to Locally Grown will have better things to do than watch this blog the next couple of days. I SINCERELY Wish You All A Merry Christmas!

    December 24, 2007
  44. Martha, I can’t entirely speak for David, but I think his frustration was just that your personal troubles with this vandal were consuming the much broader thread. I understood his “hijacking” comment to say that though your situation was unfortunate, this was not the place for people to express their sympathies at length.

    Kiffi, it looks like the thought police got to your comment from 1:54 this morning. It seemed to be getting this conversation back on track, though, so I hope to see a cleaned up version in the morning.

    02:38: My bad, the e-mail messages got out of order and I see Kiffi’s comment is up above a few others. So… Lee Lansing.

    December 24, 2007
  45. Anne Bretts said:

    Sean and David,
    I think Martha’s experience was directly related to this conversation and the spontaneous comments were a welcome and kind Christmas gesture of good will. We have talked for more than a year about the same City Hall issues and none of us have changed our opinions, we just keep sparring with the same arguments. Taking a moment to be kind and discuss the limits of civil disagreement is not a bad thing.
    Martha and Christine,
    You both seem like lovely people and I’d hate to see you leave the conversation. And do consider the party idea.
    I don’t think anyone was bitching at you, just disagreeing.
    You and I don’t agree on much of anything, and your comments often show a disdain for others that I find sad in such a brilliant woman. Still, I do admire the obvious love you and Victor have for each other and the passion you show for your beliefs and interests. You are an amazing couple.
    I wish you the best for the holidays and peace and compassion in the new year.
    David, I promise we can get back to Mayor’s wrong/Mayor’s a victim comments soon. Until then you can just go back and read the comments over the last year. Nothing has changed. Sadly.

    December 24, 2007
  46. Felicity Enders said:

    I thought I’d take a moment to write down some things I’m thinking about Northfield as the year ends.

    I’m glad I live in a town where the buildings downtown are both historic and cared-for.

    I’m glad I live in a town where most businesses downtown are independent and busy.

    I’m glad I live in a town where the downtown can close to celebrate Harry Potter Day.

    I’m glad I live in the town that stopped the James-Younger Gang.

    I’m glad I live in a town with two premiere colleges.

    I’m glad I live in a small town that’s still surrounded by farms.

    I’m glad I live in a town where it’s easy to purchase organic local produce, and where the terms fair-trade and locally-grown are taken seriously.

    I’m glad I live in a town in which many people are highly educated and thoughtful.

    I’m glad I live in a town where people pay attention to what’s going on at city hall.

    I’m glad I live in a town in which people care enough to stand up for what they believe is right.

    I hope I live in a town in which no one would respond to thoughtful discussion with anonymous retribution.

    December 24, 2007
  47. Martha Cashman said:

    Kiffi, I am not “bitching at you” nor have I sent or said anything that could remotely be construed as “hate” email— I am merely voicing my view on the events in my community. I know and have sympathized with you and Victor on the treatment you have received because you have been the ‘lone voice in the wilderness’ on many, many issues. I remain very sorry for all that you and Victor have had to endure.

    I am sorry that I blogged my life story and frustrations (hijacked this thread) but I will concede that this is a difficult time of year.

    I am sorry if I got ‘hot’ under the collar and ‘attacked’ anyone on in my comments (sorry Christine, sorry David). It has been made more emotional due to the actions of the mayor and the allegations against the city council and, yes, my brother.

    I love Northfield, I have cherished my friendship with Victor and Kiffi, and I love my brother whom I know as a serious, caring and honorable man who, along with five other council members, is doing what the law dictates.

    There is a fresh coat of snow covering all of yesterday’s ugliness. I wish every reader, the most joyous blessings of this Season and may we all find a way to heal ourselves and this community in the New Year.

    December 24, 2007
  48. John Thomas said:

    Right now… the morning is beautiful, I am on my third cup of tea, and the three tenors are singing Silent Night on the radio.

    My son is outside playing in the snow, good things are baking, my wife is finishing wrapping, and our guest are heading in from all over.

    Peace to all. This will all be here on Wednesday.

    Let us all reflect, and be with our loved ones. It is what is most important.

    It is time for a Christmas truce.

    I am happy to be blessed with a wonderful community. I love you all, even if I may or may not share your viewpoint. It is what makes America great. God bless you and yours this holiday season. May everyone find the peace and reconcilliation that this community needs.

    And with that, I put away the keyboard, and power down the laptop. See you on Wednesday. I’m going to go play in the snow. 😎


    December 24, 2007
  49. Lisa Guidry said:

    Martha, I’m glad you decided to join us again, and I understand how you feel that the holidays can be a difficult time. Please e-mail me so we can continue this discussion. (all lower case)

    December 24, 2007
  50. Griff Wigley said:

    As of 3:30 pm, Mayor Lansing had not yet turned in his keys, according to City Administrator Al Roder who I spoke to by phone.

    December 24, 2007
  51. Griff Wigley said:

    Today’s Northfield News editorial: Residents must recall Mayor Lansing.

    Although the process is long and difficult, a recall must be launched. To do anything else is to send a message to the rest of the state that Northfield is content to allow an unethical politician remain in office. Without a recall, the best we can expect is more of the same from this mayor.

    December 26, 2007
  52. Mike Bull said:

    Strikes me that it might be a good idea for each of the city council folks to have a town meeting with the citizens in their ward (or, in the case of the at large member, the entire city), to explain what they think is going on at city hall and why they voted the way they did. I think it would help to have that kind of conversation.

    December 26, 2007
  53. kiffi summa said:

    On this issue of the keys to the Mayor’s office : The Mayor IS the Mayor until he is removed by a citizen recall process. The council is free to censure him and has done so; that action has no legal effect to remove either the privileges or the responsibilities of his elected title/office.

    I remembered reading something in the code or charter once about the responsibilities of the Mayor in an Emergency. It is found in the City Code Chapter 18. Read the entire Chapter; the definition section 18-27,, under the definition of “emergency” states that such can be “declared by the governor … or proclaimed by the Mayor” (my words: they are equated, as to responsibility in their gov’t unit).
    Go on to 18-29 Duties of Emergency Management… part(i) “The Mayor shall have direct responsibility during the declared emergency” (further language regarding the mayor’s duties and the equation of them to a governor).
    18-30 part(a) … “the Mayor may by proclamation promulgate regulation” etc., etc., and part(b) “every proclamation of emergency regulations shall be in writing and signed by the Mayor” …. “posted at such places as designated by the Mayor “… (further language on the Mayor’s role).

    It should be noted that throughout this chapter of the city code the administrator’s role is defined as implementing the policy.

    So, the City Code makes the Mayor responsible on many levels for functioning in an emergency of any nature, equates his role within this small gov’t unit to that of the governor of a state, and the ramifications of this responsibility go all the way from local, up to the Homeland Security Act.

    The effect of what the council did in their resolution, is to censure the Mayor; that censure has no legal effect on the office he was elected to hold, and the responsibility of that office can only be removed by the outcome of a public recall election.

    I would appreciate anyone responding to this, first reading the appropriate chapter of the city code, rather than just opining on the Mayor’s actions. Thank you.

    December 26, 2007
  54. Curt Benson said:

    Cashman’s remarks from last Saturday’s meeting start at about the 60 minute mark on the podast. He explains in detail why he believes Lansing’s office should be taken away and why Lansing should return his keys. Apparently, no part time mayor in a town of our size has his own office provided at city expense, on city property. I’m not sure, but I don’t believe previous mayors have had this perk. The keys in question include a “master key” or “grand master key” which can be used to access any office in the building.

    To me, taking away Lansing’s office while he is still in office gives the appearance of pettiness, although I can understand the opposite view. However, I see why Lansing should have to return his “grand master key” especially now that we see that Lansing has been willing to bend the rules to favor his interests.

    The office/key issue is something that could easily be clarified with a little research. Howabout it, Northfield News?

    Another issue that I’d like to see clarified by the traditional main stream media would be Lansing’s shifting his unpaid, past due water utility bills (from his/his son’s store) to the people who own his building now–who Lee is feuding with. Again, this isn’t a complicated issue– a little digging should be able to make this issue understandable.

    December 26, 2007
  55. victor summa said:

    Curt in #59 asks….

    Re the water charges for the 618 Division Street property.

    My understanding is Lansing entered into a sales transaction on the building at 618 Div. St. with a group (evidently Mr. Lutz and Ms. Closner). Part of the sales transaction evidently included a leaseback of the premises for the purposes of the original owners business – said business (at the time of closing) now transferred to Lee’s son, David – who holds the lease and runs the LANSING HARDWARE business.

    The question of responsibility for the water bill it seems is answered in the lease of the space to the Lessee, the operator of the hardware business, David Lansing.

    Regardless of actual lease verbiage defining who pays what part of the water bill… clearly it is a private issue between the Landlord and the tenant. How the former owner (Lee Lansing) could on his own change the billing is unclear to me. Nonetheless it was out of order for the Chair of the proceedings at Saturday’s Special council meeting to entertain the personal rant directed to Lansing by Lutz and Closner. Much of that meeting and its action was out of order.


    For those of you who have ever purchase or sold a home, you surely were involved at closing with a “clear” status of the outstanding water charges (as well as other possible liens on the property) clear title being a must!

    Either the buyer was satisfied Water Services charges were up to date (or prorated to the day of the sale) or some other instrument in the sales contract satisfied the buyer’s interests in assuming responsibility for the charges, back or future. It follows, in some manner the arrears and future charges were resolved to the satisfaction of all parties.

    Why else was the transaction finalized?


    Were the premises of a single user nature (sic) The Hardware store and no others … it is likely the Landlord would pass the responsibility for these to the Tenant (in this case the former owner) and the question of responsibility to keep the account current is moot.

    Consider the nature of an account with Xcel for Electric and Gas services.

    Clearly a Landlord (Lutz and Closner) does not wish to risk monthly charges for those services accruing, as a possible lien against their property. The lease spells out the responsibility of payment – and the account is in the name of the tenant. If the tenant defaults, Xcel has no recourse to the Landlord.

    It is not as simple in a mixed use building.

    For example, 306 Division Street, has three furnaces – each separately metered. One meter services the Book Store and the tenant is responsible – should it default and skip town, the slate for that space is wiped clean – and Xcel goes after the former tenant. Electric service for this space is the same.

    The Bagel Shop has separate meters as well. Same program – gas and electric charges for these spaces go with the tenant … and are prescribed in the lease.

    In addition to the two commercial spaces, 306 Div. St. has five apartments on the upper floor.

    These are heated by a single boiler. Having no way to separate use charges for each of these five users, heat is included in the rent and the Xcel account for that service is the responsibility of the Landlord.

    But, each of the five apartments has its own electric meter and each tenant must open an account with Xcel when they take up tenancy. each tenant is responsible for their own charges.

    For the common space (upper floor hallways) there is another electric meter, who’s monthly charges are bundled by Xcel to the apartment’s gas account and are the responsibility of the Landlord.

    FYI cooking facilities for the apartments are electric.


    To the extent the Book store uses any water, it is included in their rent – is minimal… only for one unisex restroom, limited to the book store staff.

    The apartments have bathrooms and kitchens as well as laundry facilities … all requiring water … and this too is included in the individual rents

    The city account for this building is one account, one service, one meter … all paid by the Landlord (owner) who re-bills the Bagel Shop tenant for the water it has used in the previous month


    The Bagel Shop has a sub-meter that allows the landlord and tenant to view actual numbers and calculate the restaurant’s heavier use of water, and pay proportionately.

    So what of the Hardware store and its new second floor dwelling units?

    I’m “assuming” now that in the case of 618 Div. St. the lease agreement anticipated changes when the building was purchased, knowing plans were for the NEW landlord to renovate previously unused apartment spaces on the second floor.

    Extensive remodeling was undertaken – and I would think Xcel accounts for electric and gas were added to each discreet apartment and new heat ducts were run … and probably new apartment furnaces were added, thus isolating these utility services from those of the Hardware store, and billed accordingly to the residential tenants.

    Water would not be so easy to separate. Plumbing-runs criss cross the lower floors – pipes are embedded in walls, service a few sinks in the commercial space and one or two restrooms.

    Upstairs, two new dwelling spaces were created, likely using existing supply and waste water facilities … and the plan was for these dwelling units to include water charges with apartment rents.

    All water cost are metered on a single service single meter and absorbed by the landlord. The potential water use by the Hardware store would be minimal compared to any other high volume commercial user that might be a future tenant and the two dwelling units.

    Upon finalizing the transaction, it is reasonable for the tenant (Lansing Hardware) to terminate the old account in their name and for the Landlord to establish an account in its name. Clearly the commercial tenant’s account (Lansing) didn’t want to assume the cost of the water use of two new households.


    Evidently there’s been some fallout between the hardware store Tenant and the new Landlord. I understand the renovation has never been completed – There were unsatisfied mechanic liens on the property … and the City did not issue residential Occupancy Permits – although evidently after a lot of pressure from the Landlord, even though it seems the spaces were not yet adequate for dwelling purposes, they sought and received a Temporary Occupancy Permit (TOC) for office use, an affair which is/was hotly contested by all parties and subsequently revoked by the city.

    As I said earlier… all this is a private affair – and like the great expose of Lansing’s private travail as printed July 25, ‘07 in the Northfield News, has nothing to do with the question of Lee Lansing’s being Mayor.

    A reasonable read of the investigator’s report should also cause any objective person to demand more objectivity in the investigation. Recall … like a rifle has recoil – each ballot has a YES box and a NO box.

    And even then is not evidence of either innocence or guilt. Meanwhile, the prayer ladies were fact as was the City Administrator acting unethically in his handling of that affair – and that’s only one certainty.

    SUGGESTION: Before you vote… Check the definitions of: Non, Mal, and Mis feasance


    December 26, 2007
  56. Curt Benson said:

    Griff, “challenged the Northfield News to do a little research” sounds harsher than I would have put it. At least I didn’t mean to sound so strident.

    Anyway, thanks to Jaci Smith. I hope to see more on the news pages about the key/office issue.

    Smith’s blog also addresses Kiffi’s “homeland security/office” questions. (Post # 58.)

    December 27, 2007
  57. Kiffi summa said:

    By quoting Chapter 18 of the City Code, I was trying to get people to think about the accepted role of Mayor. Obviously I don’t think our “twin Towers” (oops, forgot, “we” tore the landmark elevator down) are going to be targeted.

    Here’s another question: The council hires another experienced municipal attorney to write a resolution against the mayor; is everything in that resolution LEGALLY enforceable, or is it a group of REQUESTS to the Mayor, which he may or may not choose to accede to?

    I.E., if the council has no authority to recall the Mayor, and they don’t, then what requests for him to divest himself of the accoutrements of that office have any enforceable weight?

    Can anyone answer that? Jaci Smith, what would Mark Anfinson say to that question?

    December 27, 2007
  58. Lisa Guidry said:

    Curt, I just looked on Smith’s blog and couldn’t find anything regarding a response to Kiff’s remarks. Please comment on where I can read the statement.

    December 27, 2007
  59. David Henson said:

    Under Section 2-64 of the Northfield charter the mayor has effectively a nuclear veto because all ordinances and resolutions require the Mayor’s (and two councilmen’s signatures). The charter calls out when a mayor pro tem is allowed to act in the Mayor’s stead and section 2-64 does not allow anyone but the Mayor to sign for the Mayor. There is no override in the charter for this, the mayor does not sign (and two councilmen) and the ordinances or resolutions do not become law (even if a majority of councilmen have voted in favor).

    This actually creates a very strong Mayor. Interestingly, if the Mayor has not at this point signed the resolution – this could stop Everret from be eligible to be paid the $40,000 and makes the resolution to take the Mayor’s keys illegal.

    The above is very clear in the Charter and makes complete sense as the electorate is electing the mayor to the highest office in Northfield and allowing pretenders to the thrown to take over (be they councilmen, administrators, city attorneys) would undermine the electorate’s decision.

    Where is the check and balance? – the next election is always the ultimate check and balance.

    How can one know this is true? Do we need to filter this through lawyers? Just read the English language in the Charter, it’s not hard to read, if any lawyer makes a claim that section 2-64 does not mean the above you can know it is not true because their explanation will be much longer and less clear than the simple statement in the charter that “the Mayor must sign all ordinances and resolutions.”

    December 27, 2007
  60. Curt Benson said:

    Oops, referring to post 66–it’s Chapter 18, not 28.

    December 27, 2007
  61. Kiffi summa said:

    For clarification: in David Henson’s post # 65 he says section 2-64 of the city charter; that is incorrect, in that the section2-64 he refers to is in the city CODE, not the Charter.
    Other than that, David’s point may be well taken; on a cursory look, I could not find specificity as to the validity of the PRESIDENT Pro Tem of the council signing a resolution, instead of the Mayor.
    If you care to get into fine legal points/arguments, or even just interpretation of intent, the above issue which you brought up, David, is certainly interesting, and could be defining. As to “intent”, note the naming of the presiding officer (should the mayor be “absent or disabled”); it is NOT “Mayor” Pro Tem, but President Pro Tem. I would have to believe that is an intentional differentiation.
    But we, as non-legal types, are far out of our range, except as to the logic of the matter.

    December 27, 2007
  62. David Henson said:

    I trust your points Kiffi. I have not gone back to reread but I thought at times the code actually says mayor pro tem (but I may be mistaken). But at any rate, the code is very clear throughout when a “pro tem” or “acting executive” is allowed to act in the Mayor’s stead – and signing resolutions and ordinances is not one of these times.

    The intent is so clear in the language itself that all readers 6th grade and up could agree to the meaning – “no Mayor signature – “no law”

    December 27, 2007
  63. Lisa Guidry said:

    Curt, Thank you for taking the time to point me in the right direction.

    December 27, 2007
  64. Kiffi summa said:

    David : I agree , it seems clear to me. What I find truly, sincerely disturbing is that regardless of how polarized the PsOV on the Mayor are, when you write something that is supported by Fact, i.e. the words of governing documents, there is no reply… virtually zero discussion based on the few determinable facts; they just lie there for a while, and the discussion goes back to pure opinion.
    I continue to be disturbed by the role of the newspaper, which has never asked any questions, even those arising by factual texts, but only continues to have a hard fast stand against the Mayor , as if he is the only one who has done anything wrong. (this to the extent of “burying” the story re: a court order for a councilperson to pay $3000. in past due rent to a previous landlord. One would have thought that in this climate that would be fron t page news. Especially since at least two other landlords of this council person have experienced similar problems).

    December 27, 2007
  65. Patrick Enders said:


    I’m not a legal expert. When I have had a chance to read the charter and the city code in full, and when I have also had a chance to complete a law degree to fully understand the legal meaning of the words of the charter and the code, I might have something to say regarding the validity (or lack thereof) of your interpretation of the finer details of that code. In the meantime, perhaps it would be quicker for you to file a lawsuit regarding this alleged violation of the code, and have this matter settled in a court of law?

    As for a councilperson having to pay $3000 in back rent, I don’t see what that has to do with the alleged misdeeds of Lee Lansing.

    December 27, 2007
  66. Lisa Guidry said:

    City hall has been rekeyed, read the update on Northfield News. Mayor can frame the old one.

    December 27, 2007
  67. Kurt Larson said:

    So what did the re-keying cost us? To me it seems petty, are they actually concerned Mayor Lansing is going to cause damage to City Hall? or Theft? Maybe I am missing something.
    I would like to see a running total of the costs with all this mess.

    December 27, 2007
  68. David Henson said:

    The “key resolution” offers a fine example of how a city could end up with 15000 veto empowered citizens and an endless legal morass. Let’s assume the council votes 6-0 to spend $5000 on a building project or $65700 on a 100 page legal report with an outside vendor. The mayor does not sign the resolution. The work gets 70% completed then any Northfield citizen steps in and sues the City of Northfield and the council members for fraudulently spending their tax dollars on work that has not been approved by the Mayor as required under code. The vendor’s payment gets tied up in a court battle. The vendor then turns around and sues or liens all the council members to protect their interests. If the vendor balance owing is big enough then he may throw the City Administrator and the City Attorney in for extra insurance. I cannot see council members wanting to take on the liability of operating without a Mayor when the Northfield legal code starts out declaring this is a Mayor-Council system. When the law suits fly without a Mayor’s support councilmen will have defend themselves by pointing to paperwork. When lawsuits occur with a Mayor and election process support then voters have the councilman’s back.

    It is better to have a Mayor.

    Councilmen you should kiss and make up with the Mayor (each of you know his project on Division would be a great addition to Northfield’s downtown).

    Lee is a nice guy, help him – help Northfield, get his project done and then get on with city business.

    December 27, 2007
  69. Lisa Guidry said:

    David, the mayor used his position for personal gain and won’t stop until he get’s it. Even if the city went with that site I would not trust the mayor with future decisions for the city. Besides there is still a lawsuit against the city & 3 council members regarding the tapes. The council voted to release the tapes and mayor stopped it. He is so double minded.

    December 27, 2007
  70. Kiffi summa said:

    Patrick: You do not need any kind of legal knowledge to read the city charter; it is plain , lucid English. Try it; you’ll like it! It’s also a quick read.

    Now the City Code, that’s a different matter, much more difficult, more “legalese”; after all it is a governing set of ordinances. I have no desire to file a lawsuit, where’d you get that idea?

    I simply feel that the intent and in fact the written structure of the two governing documents show that the Mayor is the primary leader of the city. If you differ with that opinion (having read the documents or not) that’s ok with me; I’m simply making a case for what I believe, as I believe you are also doing.

    I brought up the rental situation with the councilperson, and how the newspaper handled that piece of information, because I thought it exemplified what I believe to be bias in the newspaper’s reporting. I do not understand why they never ask the question implied, except if it refers to the Mayor.

    I have said this many , many times, and will say it once more: I believe that this total situation cannot be evaluated without looking at the interwoven actions and personal dynamics between all of the “players”. None of these dynamics stand alone.

    I have no problem with your opinion differing, and I have no desire to be personally aggressive with you because you hold the Mayor responsible for more than I hold him responsible for… C’est la vie!

    December 27, 2007
  71. Christine Stanton said:

    I am still trying to figure out where we go from here. It seems there is a standoff.

    When I was re-reading the city code, one phrase stood out to me. That phrase is “accountable to the council.” (“The mayor shall be the chief executive officer of the city government, accountable to the council for oversight of the administration of the city.”)

    I am going to look up the word “accountable.”

    This is a cut and paste from a section of the city code:


    *State law references: Charter may prescribe form of government, Minn. Stat. § 410.16.


    Section 3.1. Form of Government.
    The form of government established by this Charter is the “Mayor-Council” plan. The council shall exercise the legislative power of the city and determine all matters of policy. The mayor shall be the chief executive officer of the city government, accountable to the council for oversight of the administration of the city.
    (Ord. No. 801, 4-19-2004)

    Section 3.2. Boards and Commissions.
    The council may establish boards or commissions to advise it with respect to any municipal function or activity, to investigate any subject of interest to the city, and to perform quasi-judicial functions. The mayor shall appoint the members of advisory boards and commissions subject to confirmation by a majority vote of the council. Recommendations presented to the council from its duly constituted boards and commissions shall receive consideration within six (6) months of presentation unless otherwise required by law or requested by the presenting body. The presenting body shall be notified of the progress of consideration of the recommendation. In case of rejection of a recommendation or a decision not to act on a matter, written reasons for such a response shall be forwarded to the presenting body. Any member of a city board or commission may be removed upon the affirmative vote of five (5) members of the council.
    (Ord. No. 739, § 3.2, 11-6-2000)

    Section 3.3. Council Composition and Election.
    The council shall be composed of a mayor and six (6) council members who shall be qualified. To qualify for elective office a candidate must be qualified to vote, be at least twenty-one (21) years of age on the date he or she would assume office, and be a resident of the city and of any ward he or she seeks to represent, or will become a resident therein at least thirty (30) days before the election. If elected, candidates must further qualify for office by taking and filing an oath of office. One (1) council member shall be elected from each of four (4) wards and two (2) council members shall be elected at large. Each council member and the mayor shall serve for a term of four (4) years and until a successor is elected and qualified. Two ward council members and one council member at large shall have terms that expire at the end of each even numbered year. A person who is sworn in as mayor while holding a council seat thereby vacates the council seat.
    (Ord. No. 739, § 3.3, 11-6-2000; Ord. No. 781, 3-17-2003)

    Section 3.4. Incompatible Offices.
    An elected officer of the city may not be appointed administrator, hold any other city office nor be employed by the city in any other capacity for pay; nor for a period of one year after expiration of the officer’s term of office, hold a city office nor be employed by the city for pay.
    (Ord. No. 739, § 3.4, 11-6-2000)

    Section 3.5. Vacancies in the Council or in the Office of Mayor.
    An elective office becomes vacant when the person elected or appointed thereto dies before taking office or fails to qualify, or the incumbent dies, resigns in writing filed with the city clerk, fails to attend council meetings for sixty days without just cause, is convicted of a felony, ceases to reside in the city or ward from which elected, or is adjudged incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction. In each such case, the council shall by resolution declare the vacancy to exist and shall forthwith appoint an eligible person to fill the vacancy. If the vacancy occurs between August1 and December 31, the appointee shall serve until the end of the following year. If the vacancy occurs between January 1 and July 31, the appointee shall serve until the end of the current year. A replacement shall be elected on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of the year in which the appointment expires. A special election shall be held if no regular municipal election is scheduled for that date. The elected replacement shall serve a full term if the term of the person requiring replacement ends at the end of the year in which the replacement election occurs. Otherwise the elected replacement shall have a shortened term that fills the unexpired part of the term of the person requiring replacement.
    (Ord. No. 545, § 3.5, 1-2-1990; Ord. No. 739, § 3.5, 11-6-2000; Ord. No. 781, 3-17-2003; Ord. No. 863, 7-9-2007)

    Section 3.6. Salaries.
    The mayor, council members and all other officers and employees of the city shall receive such salaries, wages and expenses as may be fixed by the city council.

    Section 3.7. Investigation of City Affairs.
    The council or an officer or officers formally authorized by the council may make investigations into the city’s affairs. The council may provide for an examination or audit of the accounts of an officer or department of the city government. The council may conduct surveys or research studies of subjects of municipal concern.
    (Ord. No. 781, 3-17-2003)

    Section 3.8. The Mayor.
    Subd. 1. Legislative Functions. The mayor shall be the presiding officer of the council. The mayor shall have a vote as a member of the council. The mayor shall act as chief spokesperson for the council and shall exercise leadership of the council in the formulation of policy.
    Subd. 2. Executive Functions. The mayor shall exercise all powers and perform all duties conferred on the mayor by state law, this Charter, city ordinances, and council resolutions. The mayor shall study the administration and operations of the city and shall report to the council any neglect, dereliction of duty, or waste on the part of any officer or department of the city. The mayor may appoint and remove, with the approval of the council, such professional services as the mayor shall deem necessary. If the office of administrator becomes vacant, the mayor, with the approval of the council, shall appoint an acting administrator. The mayor shall be recognized as the official head of the city for purposes relating to national security or peacetime emergency. Subject to state law concerning emergency management and any local emergency management program consistent therewith, the mayor shall oversee and direct the city’s response to any declared emergency.
    Subd. 3. Ceremonial Functions. The mayor shall be recognized as the official head of the city for all ceremonial purposes.
    (Ord. No. 801, 4-19-2004)

    Section 3.9. President Pro Tem.
    The council shall choose from its members a president pro tem who shall hold office at the pleasure of the council and shall serve as mayor in case of the mayor’s absence or temporary disability.
    (Ord. No. 801, 4-19-2004)

    December 28, 2007
  72. Christine Stanton said:

    Also, according to the city code, it looks like the office of an elected city official can only be considered vacant if “…the person elected or appointed thereto dies before taking office or fails to qualify, or the incumbent dies, resigns in writing filed with the city clerk, fails to attend council meetings for sixty days without just cause, is convicted of a felony, ceases to reside in the city or ward from which elected, or is adjudged incompetent by a court of competent jurisdiction.”

    So, where does that leave us?

    I am going to try to find the charter and see what it says.

    December 28, 2007
  73. Christine Stanton said:

    Here is another applicable part of the city code:

    “Section 15.3. Official Interest in Contracts.
    Except as otherwise permitted by law, no officer of the city who is authorized to take part in any manner in making or amending any sale, lease, or contract between the city and another party or parties shall voluntarily have a personal financial interest in or personally benefit financially from such sale, lease, or contract.
    (Ord. No. 739, § 15.3, 11-6-2000)”

    One problem that I am finding is that there does not seem to be anything that states what the consequences are if there is a violation.

    December 28, 2007
  74. Christine Stanton said:

    Here is the recall process according to the charter:

    “Section 6.9. Recall.
    Any five (5) registered voters of the city may form themselves into a committee for the purpose of bringing about the recall for malfeasance or nonfeasance of any person holding elective office in the city. The committee shall file a certificate with the city clerk naming the officer whose removal is sought, a statement of the grounds for removal in not more than two hundred and fifty (250) words, and their intention to bring about the officer’s recall. A copy of this certificate shall be attached to each signature paper of the recall petition and no signature paper shall be put into circulation until the certificate has been filed with the city clerk.
    (Ord. No. 744, 6-18-2001; Ord. No. 863, 7-9-2007)

    Section 6.10. Recall Petition.
    The petition for the recall of any person holding elective office shall follow the petition requirements as outlined in Sections 6.4 and 6.9. Appendix C to this Charter is a model form that must be used in filing a petition of recall.
    (Ord. No. 744, 6-18-2001)

    Section 6.11. Filing a Recall Petition.
    Within thirty (30) days after filing the original certificate, the committee shall file the completed petition in the office of the city clerk. The city clerk shall examine the completed petition within the next fifteen (15) days; and, if the city clerk finds it does not meet any of the requirements of Sections 6.4, 6.9, or 6.10, the city clerk shall deliver a copy of the petition, together with a written statement of its defects, to the sponsoring committee. The committee shall then be given ten (10) daysin which to file additional signatures and to correct the petition in all other respects, but it may not change the statement of the grounds upon which the recall is sought. If at the end of that time the city clerk finds the petition still does not meet all the requirements of Sections 6.4, 6.9, and 6.10, the city clerk shall notify all the members of the committee to that effect and shall file the petition in the office of the city clerk. No further action shall be taken thereon.
    (Ord. No. 744, 6-18-2001; Ord. No. 863, 7-9-2007)

    Section 6.12. Recall Election.
    If the petition or amended petition is found to meet the requirements of Sections 6.4, 6.9, and 6.10, the city clerk shall transmit it to the council without delay, and shall also officially notify the person sought to be recalled of the sufficiency of the petition and of the pending action. The council shall at its next meeting determine whether the petition is legally sufficient and, if it is, provide for the holding of a special recall election not less than sixty (60) nor more than seventy-five (75) days after such meeting; but, if any other election is to occur within ninety (90) days after such meeting, the council may in its discretion provide for the holding of the recall vote at that time. The city clerk shall include with the published notice of the election the statement of the grounds for the recall and also, in not more than five hundred (500) words, the answer of the officer concerned in justification of his/her course of office. If a majority of those voting on the recall is opposed, it shall not become effective. If a majority of those voting on the recall is in favor, it shall become effective immediately.
    (Ord. No. 744, 6-18-2001; Ord. No. 781, 3-17-2003; Ord. No. 863, 7-9-2007)

    Section 6.13. Further Regulations.
    The council may provide by ordinance such further regulations for the initiative, referendum, and recall, consistent with this Charter, as it deems necessary.
    (Ord. No. 744, 6-18-2001)”

    December 28, 2007
  75. Felicity Enders said:

    Section 6.4 of the Charter also includes language relevant to the recall process:

    Section 6.4. Petitions of Initiative and Referendum.
    An initiative or referendum shall be initiated by a petition signed by a number of registered voters of the city that is not less than ten percent (10%) of the votes cast in the most recent regular municipal election. Each petition shall be sponsored by a committee of five registered voters of the city whose names and addresses shall appear on the petition on file in the office of the city clerk. A petition may consist of one or more papers, but each paper circulated separately shall contain at its head andattached to it the statements required by Section 6.2 or 6.3, as the case may be. Each signer shall sign his/her name and give his/her street address. Each separate page of the petition shall have appended to it a certificate, verified by oath, that each signature is the genuine signature of the person whose name it purports to be. The person making the certificate must be a resident of the city. Any person whose name appears on a petition may withdraw his/her name by a statement in writing filed with the city clerk before the clerk advises the council of the petition. Appendices A and B to this Charter are the model forms that must be used in filing a petition of initiative or referendum.
    (Ord. No. 744, 6-18-2001; Ord. No. 863, 7-9-2007)

    According to a Northfield News article, over 5,500 people voted in the “most recent regular municipal election” so 600 signatures would likely be needed.

    December 28, 2007
  76. Lisa Guidry said:


    Thank you for all the information. I was planning on looking up all the info. today, so you saved me alot of time. Your research is appreciated!

    December 28, 2007
  77. Christine Stanton said:

    Thanks for the added information, Felicity. Have any citizens started a recall petition?

    December 28, 2007
  78. Mike Bull said:

    We were discussing this situation at an extended family get-together last night, and the question was raised — where did the city go to get the hardware for the re-keying?!

    December 28, 2007
  79. Lisa Guidry said:

    Christine, A friend of mine said that there is a group that is starting the process. I don’t know any of the details. If anyone has more information please chime in.

    December 28, 2007
  80. victor summa said:

    Lisa Guidry: in your comment to David Henson you again remark along the same theme:

    “the mayor used his position for personal gain and won’t stop until he get’s it.”

    and go on to cite:

    ” there is still a lawsuit against the city and 3 council members, regarding the tapes. The council voted to release the tapes and mayor stopped it. He is so double minded.”

    Here are the facts surrounding the mysterious closed meetings and the audio tapes of those meetings.

    1) the discussion contained on these tapes reportedly dealt with the council’s interests in pursuing that location which they had previously discussed, identified as “their” preferred and failed to find any problem with, in open meetings.

    2) Neither the pubic or the developer ( the subject of the closed meetings) have ever been officially informed as to the status of that site as a result of the closed discussions. REPEAT: EVER BEEN INFORMED – You, Me, or the Applicant.

    3) The N’fld News and rumor says, the site was rejected.

    4) Although little know as fact… one city Councilor in answer to my direct question as far back as August: “Why won’t you release the results [sic] (tapes) responded with: We’ll get sued!

    So Lisa… as a Realtor, you might be able to shed some light on what that remark could possibly mean, “in fact”.

    5) Everyone with any voice and any concern has in some way or another cried for the tape’s release – Cries that were ignored by the Council for months until about the end of October – I don’t have the energy or the inclination to verify – suffice to say, it took some time – and was ultimately brought forward at a Council meeting by Noah Cashman (thank you) – at a meeting in which research will show the Mayor was silent throughout the discussion and abstained from voting on the issue .. only later to be accused of underhanded actions by the council (some of…)

    Reasonable persons would agree, had he spoken in objection to the council’s action or contributed to the discussion, it is almost a certainty he would have been rebuked for his “leadership” position… likely told to recuse himself.. and shut down!

    6) The Mayor has been censured once, last week in witch hunt style of accusatory remarks by a “runaway” council – history will show that kind of action has occurred frequently in the halls of lawmakers – sometimes justly – sometimes not.

    In any event it is a mere gesture, a posturing on the part of the assailing body.

    The Mayor HAS BEEN censored by the same council frequently – thus denied the ability to speak … for the city… or the developers… or his opinion… or in his defense … and, directed to the Open Mic where it was attempted to limited him to 2 minutes! So much for due process

    7) His remarks to the City Attorney immediately following the fateful “RELEASE THE TAPES ” meeting – were in the “best interests” of the city … as he feared there might be damming information on those tapes that would further entangle the suspect council in wrong doing… sloppy process at the least.

    Thus, with his heads-up to the City Attorney, he was acting as the Mayor in support of the City’s greater good. THe council of course finds problem with any privateremark the Mayor might make. Are we to assume the council than observes the vow os silence when not on the dais? Yeah Right!

    The concerns regarding: privacy issue discussions, on the tapes were, I believe, supported in writing from both developers, to the City attorney. That is the city might face additional law suit for the release of the contents of the tapes.

    8) The City Attorney (CA) – after stopping the tape’s release on an emergency basis – a professional advisory on her part – to which the news attributes “wrong doing” on the part of the Mayor .. (and you Lisa, evidently see credence in that conclusion) at a subsequent meeting, the CA, then fully advised the Council of the error of their maneuver to release … and advised them on a method to sanitize [my word] the tapes by having them reviewed by the State Office of Administrative affairs – or some such title. This effort I presume to be ongoing.

    So Lisa… you do have your vote and your opinion – I’d hope you’d verify your facts to avoid unnecessarily fueling the controversy with misinformation.

    You do still have your vote and your freedom of opinion.

    December 28, 2007
  81. Lisa Guidry said:

    Yes Victor, I still have my vote & freedom of opinion. As far as you bringing up that I am a realtor has nothing to do with this situation. I am stating my opinions as a citizen. I don’t agree with you on this situation. The mayor did unethical things and needs to be held accountable. According to the code & charter he had a conflict of interest and was warned about it several times.

    December 28, 2007
  82. Christine Stanton said:

    Here is a follow-up to my post #79.

    This is what the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary states regarding the word “accountable.”

    “ACCOUNTABLE suggests imminence of retribution for unfulfilled trust or violated obligation .”

    If that is the intended meaning of the word ” accountable” in the charter, it seems that the Council is not out of line in regards to following the charter. Yes, the Mayor is the head of the Council, but he is also accountable to them.

    The difficult part is that the charter does not name what the consequences are, or if there should even be consequences for unfulfilled trust or violated obligation. I think that is one of the key problems in this issue.

    The only resolution I can see to this mess is a recall. Let the voters speak.

    December 28, 2007
  83. Lisa Guidry said:

    Christine, You’re a doll. Thanks again for the truth.

    December 28, 2007
  84. John George said:

    Mike- I assume those locks at City Hall are made by Best Lock Co. Almost all government buildings use this key system because it is the most secure. Those tumblers and blanks cannot be purchased at any local hardware store. They must be procured from a certified Best locksmith. I’m assuming your inference is that the city would have to go to Lansing Hardware to get new keys.

    December 28, 2007
  85. City Code Sect 2#26:
    “Mayor’s vote
    The Mayor shall vote last on any question put before the council”

    This is not how the council operates during voting procedure. Currently, his vote is taken at the same time as the other six members, and he is merely asked last to reiterate his vote when a roll is taken.

    The intent of the Code is to give the mayor the casting vote is a 3-3 split, to show consensus in a, for example, 5-1 split (by making it 6-1) or by standing on principle (5-2). Etcetera.

    The Mayor does not ‘just have one vote the same as the rest’. He is different and the Code recognizes and requires this authority/responsibility factor.

    December 29, 2007
  86. William Siemers said:

    I moved here from an incredibly corrupt city and state…New Orleans, Louisiana. I lived there for twenty years and during that time had many political discussions with friends and neighbors. One thing that struck me was the widely held attitude that “All politicians are crooked” and the acquiescence to, if not the acceptance of, the corrupt political culture. That, perfectly valid, attitude was then used to justify a lack of involvement in politics. And, of course, citizen alienation from the political process is just what corrupt politicians like. That is the recipe for a broken system.

    I don’t know all the facts about the Lansing matter. But I think I know (and most citizens know) enough of the facts to figure out that he used his office for personal gain. Citizens should not accept that. And we do not have to wait for all the facts to be in. US representative William Jefferson got reelected in New Orleans after getting caught red handed with $100,000 in marked bribed money in his home freezer. After all…the case had not yet gone to trial, he hadn’t been convicted…all the facts were not in. That’s where acceptance of corruption leads.

    And I don’t care if some people think he’s a nice guy. Lot’s of people thought Huey Long was a nice guy…so what if he put millions in his own pocket…don’t they all do it? That’s where acceptance of corruption leads.

    And I don’t care if Lansing is a good business man. Four term Louisiana governor, Edwin Edwards was a great business man…he’s now serving 20 years in a federal pen. When he ran against the klansman David Duke…the bumperstickers read…”Re-Elect the Crook”. That’s where acceptance of corruption leads.

    Lansing should resign, there is nothing noble in his refusal to do so, it is simply more self serving behavior. If he won’t resign, citizens should demand a recall, and in the mean time the council has a right and obligation to keep him away from city offices.

    December 29, 2007
  87. Sorry, its Section 2-62.

    Section 2-65
    “a) All Council Committees shall be appointed by the Mayor either upon his own initiative or upon the majority voter of all members”.

    This is not how the Council operates at the moment. The mayor is required by other council members (and seemingly staff) to confer with them before appointing committee members. E.g. The Board Of appeals which, at one stage, was to be decided in full or in part by staff and other six members of the council together with the Mayor.

    This is not the intent of the Code.

    Also, check out Section 2-66 re council membership on each committee.

    December 29, 2007
  88. Lisa Guidry said:

    William, My hometown is Lafayette, La.. I am making a strong stand for the same reasons you are. We don’t need to repeat the history of La.

    December 29, 2007
  89. Mike Bull said:

    John — my question (#86) was tongue in cheek. I should have used one of the smiley thingies to make that clearer…

    December 29, 2007
  90. Anne Bretts said:

    Thank you, William Siemers, and welcome to the group — and to town.

    December 29, 2007
  91. David Henson said:

    Good points Norman !

    I wonder historically, if the councilmen in council meetings, were flanked by the City Attorney and the City Administrator ? (somehow I bet Kiffi knows?) Nothing against these individuals but it would seem the council and Mayor as elected officials should wrestle with the issues of city governance amongst themselves – with an understanding that elections confer authority. Could the Mayor change this unilaterally under code ?

    December 29, 2007
  92. victor summa said:

    William Siemers wrote:

    One thing that struck me was the widely held attitude that “All politicians are crooked” and the acquiescence to, if not the acceptance of, the corrupt political culture. That, … attitude was[is] then used to justify a lack of involvement in politics. And, of course, citizen alienation from the political process is just what corrupt politicians like. That is the recipe for a broken system.

    Mr. Siemers in your first paragraph you make a case for the degree of confusion that might blanket the citizen perspective of the nature of politicians’ conduct … in essence: “They’re all worthless … what difference does it make who gets your support.”

    You don’t say it … but there’s also the time worn phrase: “you can’t fight City Hall and the Newspaper.”

    Both those words of cynical reality are half truths. In Northfield’s case, one must define City Hall. Is it the Mayor or is it the misguided Council and the conniving Staff? Even then one must take care to separate the bad apples from any good that might be in both those barrels. The citizen’s dilemma is how … to effect the staff? The ballot box is our pathway to the elected official – but you make a case for nothing works, ever! That’s scary.

    As to the Northfield News … it is virtually impossible to “hold them to account” for each and every poorly researched, poorly written and poor example of bias reporting. In the first place, in this community the N NEws has the hand and schedule control on all that is written … can and does make convenient allowances for their “preferred” and usually quote out of context from an opposite point of view.

    Some seem to get, preferred fellow journalist status from Jaci Smith – and are quoted frequently. More “open” remarks made at the Open Mic … seem to be of little import to the News in dismissing their responsibility to inform in their reporting.

    Inform, in their reporting? The News reporters seldom get out of the office to seek in-depth interviews about the issues … or at least there’s no written evidence of that journalistic effort. We’re fed Councilor’s quotes from the dais – and an occasional quick follow-up after a meeting – then the rest is boiler plate and innuendo. Someone should call Mr. Huckle.

    While you might argue the open mic is occupied by “rabble” — (YOU HAVEN’T BUT MANY DO) nonetheless, credit those rebellious voices of courageous citizens. The balance of the public has a right to know what is being said.

    Saturday Dec 23 rd’s Special 8:00 AM Council meeting is the most recent case in point. Watch the tape and read the News. Then see the movie. It’s a sequel called: Rashomon in the Upper Mid West.

    IN Para. 2 you write:

    I don’t know all the facts about the Lansing matter. But I think I know (and most citizens know) enough of the facts to figure out that he used his office for personal gain.

    If you’re inclined to buy into my first response, then I doubt that you do know enough of the facts … nor does the rank and file of this community. Moreover, when in possession of the facts … you do have the right to weigh them. [sic] as in a trial by jury. It is the jury’s verdict that counts… not the Everett report. Of course some might vote with no factual background information.

    Petty “in-fighting laced with corrupt charisma has aligned most of the Council against the Mayor and in favor of the Roder, in spite of the fact that we have no real evidence on either – and only anecdotal argument against Lansing. While you seemed to kick aside any criminal activity in your earlier remarks … I’m assuming you would hold criminal acts as reason to change the names on the doors …. any doors.

    To all of you, I caution don’t bother to quote the Everett Report – unless you’ve read it and have the background to evaluate it!

    Mr. Siemers, I Don’t know what history you have here; you say little – but if only for the last six months, and your only source of information was the Newspaper … you do not have the facts to put Lansing in the same grouping with the Louisiana personalities you mention. Add this blog … and you’re still woefully short on clear information.

    But then you go on to say: with or without the information… the corrupt politician gets reelected in your home state.

    So, are you arguing for no vote? Or a pre testing of attitudes before granted a ballot? What is an acceptable solution?

    I’ve known Lansing for 12 years – as a hardware store merchant – and now for 3 of those 12 as the Mayor. I, like most caring citizens knew when I voted for him of his survival efforts in the DT market place. It was that commonality that made him a valuable asset to the governance of this community.

    I’ve known this of Lansing for years – as has virtually every citizen … including the six currently seated councilors … and certainly the City Administrator.

    It’s not about whether he (Lansing or Long are “nice guys) It is about process. I’m not afraid of the outcome of an election – regular or by petition. That is the process by which we affirm who sits in the Official seats. I may not like what my fellow citizens vote for – but I can deal with it as long as the right is there to voice decent.

    Currently that voice has been all but silenced by the Council and the Newspaper. Unfortunately, the N News will win again when thousands of dollars are spent on ads making the case for the vote in support of Lansing and against the Council and Roder. I doubt the hang-him-high- group will pony up much. They’re likely satisfied with the humility they’ve heaped on the Lansing family.

    This election will prove to be the most defining in our history. It’s not about a little hardware store merchant running for Mayor … it is about the principle of what this community wants of it self!

    finally you wrote:

    Lansing should resign, there is nothing noble in his refusal to do so, it is simply more self serving behavior. If he won’t resign, citizens should demand a recall, and in the mean time the council has a right and obligation to keep him away from city offices.

    IMHO, wrong again. Your remarks may seem rational – but reality is Lansing mounted a swayback steed when he entered City Hall. But he is not “tilting at windmills”

    This is serious stuff! Lansing’s effort has been to fight for the change ideas he ran on. Interestingly enough if you were to recount other candidates campaign rhetoric, you‘d see they too had the same pitiful sound bites of “better government” in their quest for the citizen;s vote.

    What’s the difference? Lansing has attempted to truly deliver on his sense of good government.

    The other’s seem to be drinking the cool aid.

    I write here in response to your perspective Mr. Siemers not to ridicule you — but to try to dampen the fervor of your remarks.

    Right now there are four persons sitting on the Council whom I supported … and in fact sought-out to take up their initial candidacy. I don’t take credit for their running – I do believe that I was an influence… and a support. And, I do take credit for trying to get good candidates. In spite of your opening salvo – which I interpreted: Why Vote?” … we must!

    Don’t underestimate the effort to find worthy candidates. It is not easy, few want the job – for the most part those that do have a far more devious goal than the well know Landing business needs.

    Of those four, Lansing is the only one … including my close friend and neighbor, Noah Cashman, that I have much of a personal on the street relationship with these days. Why? Not because I’ve changed – ask anyone about that. In fact, you might even ask Noah Cashman of my swing back to Lansing and away from his (Noah’s) perspective… in spite of an unusually strong personal relationship.

    No, I put those differences… and my personal loses squarely on the shoulders of the City Administrator.

    There’s more to voting than merely pulling on the lever!


    December 29, 2007
  93. Scott Davis said:

    Norman – I think Section 2-66 refers to Council Committees (CIP Committee, Finance Committee, etc.) These are committees of Council people, not to be confused with Boards and Commissions.

    December 29, 2007
  94. kiffi summa said:

    David: in your post of 12.29.07, @ 11:13 AM you say ” I bet Kiffi knows”…
    (The reason i give the time rather than the post # is that some of my and Victor’s recent posts have been censored although we addressed the person as in the room, and were far less aggressive than the person we were addressing. I feel this monitoring has been unfair and have protested, but the answer i get is often “That slipped by me…” the result of this being that since posts show on my screen, that are not actually on the site, the numbering is askew.)

    Back to the question of the “councilors being ‘flanked’ by the city administrator and the City Attorney…. if you are talking purely about the seating arrangement on the dais, Yes, it has been that way for as long as I remember from going to council meetings (1999).
    If you are talking about “philosophical” positioning, rather than the actual seating lineup, then I can truly state I have never seen a situation where the city administrator has acted with the dynamics I perceive to exist now.
    As for the City Attorney, I cannot imagine being in the position Maren Swanson has been in, throughout this mess. I think it has been untenable, and nearly impossible for her to have any chance to make the difficulty of her position clear to the public. My sympathy is with her.

    December 29, 2007
  95. Scott Davis said:

    Regarding commissions and boards… would you truly want a mayor that does not seek input from the boards and commissions on their needs for members, or who does not look to his fellow council members for their suggestions on appointments?

    The final decision on who is appointed will always be the Mayor’s, but can one person truly understand the needs of the 15 (soon to be 17) diverse Northfield boards and commissions, with no input from those very people who sit on the boards?

    December 29, 2007
  96. Christine Stanton said:

    In his memo Lee Lansing says that the Council does not have the authority to re-key the mayor’s office, and, according to the charter, I would have to agree. Also according to the charter, it seems a recall is the only action citizens and council persons (as eligible voters), other than the mayor, can take.

    If there is no recall, it should be assumed that the voters want the mayor to stay in office. The council members should then proceed under that assumption.

    December 29, 2007
  97. Anne Bretts said:

    If there is no recall, it may not be because people want Lansing as mayor at all. Many people just don’t want to put the effort into collecting 600 signatures in the middle of winter for a recall election that would be held weeks before filings open for the next election. Many people work and can’t devote the time to such an effort.
    Some are hoping the lawsuit and the investigation by the Goodhue County attorney will provide the ‘independent’ condemnation needed to force the mayor to see the need to resign — or that he can be forced out. Without a felony charge, however, he can be convicted of several misdemeanor violations and still hold office. And if the attorney finds him at fault, the mayor’s friends no doubt will call that a witch hunt as well.
    Finally, many people have given up on local government, as William Siemers noted earlier. They just ignore it because it really has no impact on their daily lives and they don’t want the hassle of putting up with the crap leveled at the council right now. The lack of candidates in the last school board and city elections indicates this trend, which is seen in most small towns these days.
    That means the mayor and the council will have to find a way to work together, unpleasant as that may be.

    December 29, 2007
  98. John George said:

    William- Excellent observations, and welcome to Northfield! Someone needs to point out that the king has no clothes on. (And therefore, no pocket to put his keys in if he had any. Ha! Ha!) If we are to govern ourselves objectively, we need to be able to separate our emotions from our actions. It will be interesting to see what the new year brings.

    December 29, 2007
  99. kiffi summa said:

    The King has no clothes; the pocket has no keys… and the hard drive from his computer was delivered, by him, to the Goodhue County attorney…

    Does that sound like someone who has something to hide? or something to confide?

    December 29, 2007
  100. John McCarthy said:

    As a new (about a year and 1/2) resident of Northfield I try to follow what happens in city goverment. I have also served three terms as an council member in a charter city and have received some advice on the use of words in creating law. When passing a resolution, ordinance or as part of the charter or code, the advice has been the word “shall” is mandatory. According to the Northfield City Charter Section 4:10, “Every ordinance or resolution SHALL by signed by the mayor….”. I think it is reasonable to suggest the mayor is required by the charter to sign no matter what his/her opininon is.

    December 30, 2007
  101. Lisa Guidry said:

    John, you are absolutely correct, and if the mayor doesn’t sign he can be charged with a felony.

    December 30, 2007
  102. Thank you, John, I was actually going to make the same point. I think “shall” in this case means the Mayor has to officially sign resolutions passed by the Council whether or not he approves of what he’s signing. It’s an administrative act, not a legislative one.

    I could be wrong, but that’s my read.

    December 30, 2007
  103. Scott Neal said:

    In post #98 David asked a question about the history of the City’s elected officials being “flanked” by the City Attorney and the City Administrator in the Council meeting setting. When I served as Northfield’s City Administrator from 1996-2002 I sat one one side of the Council dias while the City Attorney sat on the other side of the dias. So in response to David’s question, the seating arrangement of elected officials and appointed officials around the Northfield City Council dias is similar today to the arrangement that has been in place since 1996.

    In response to David’s other point about elected officials wrestling with the issues of the day, I couldn’t agree more. Elected officials ought to be the ones wrestling with the issues of the day. The City Attorney should advise them on matters of law, not what is politically or operationally feasible. The City Administrator is, presumably, an expert in local government management and should advise the Council on the probably impact of their decisions on operations and community relations. However, elected officials ought to be given lots and lots of space to make decisions – both good and bad.

    December 30, 2007
  104. David Henson said:

    We shall see 🙂 :

    “Every ordinance or resolution passed by the council shall be signed by the mayor” (actual law)

    is not the same as:

    “The Mayor shall sign every ordinance or resolution passed by the council” (wishful thinking)

    “Shall” is a verb and the obligatory meaning meaning falls on the subject which in the code is “the document.” (I really should not say things like this in a town full of English professors)

    The code seems to call “ordinances and resolutions” ordinances and resolutions (rather than proposed ordinances and resolutions) even before they get a majority vote. The code then says they must be approved and then says they must be signed by the Mayor. One can only infer that they are not “Ordinances and Resolutions” at all until the Mayor chooses to sign them.

    The code also often suggests that one might consult the presiding officer (THE MAYOR) on issues of interpretation. He is after all elected “the chief executive officer of the city government.”

    BTW: The code never says regarding interpretation “ask a lawyer.” Nor is the term “investigator” anywhere to be found.

    Thanks for the input Scott – I keep thinking Northfield goes back 100 years – but I suppose the current political system or city is not that old.

    For the record – I fully realize how important good legal advice and expert administration are to the city – but having the City Attorney and City Administrator at the dais seems like it keeps the councilmen and Mayor riding with training wheels.

    December 30, 2007
  105. Anne Bretts said:

    David, it seems that since the mayor refuses to leave and the council can’t force him out, everyone needs to look for ways to move forward rather than continue ways to block each other and maintain this unproductive standoff. The mayor’s threat of more legal action and discussion of refusing to sign council approved documents has nothing to do with conducting city business and everything to do with continuing a power struggle that can’t be won by either side and just damages the citizens and employees caught in the middle.
    The placement of the word “shall” in the sentence isn’t the same as a clear outline of a mayoral veto, which would include a method for a veto override. The mayor refuses to sign, the council refuses to reconsider and nothing gets done. What’s the point?
    The charter commission should clarify this, and in fact, should get busy cleaning up all the language that has led to such a miserable mess.
    Does the charter commission really believe that a council should be forced to work with a mayor who has multiple misdemeanor violations of the ethics code? Chief executive should not be the same as dictator, immune from consequences without a popular revolution by recall.
    At this point it seems the council and the mayor should just set aside the discussion of keys and signatures and investigations and make a list of actual city business that needs to be done while we wait for the recalls, court rulings and prosecution reports. If the council passes a resolution or ordinance, the mayor should sign, adding a memo with his objections if he has them.
    Focusing on the things that work and the small areas of agreement are the only way to build some new working arrangement that will get the city through the few months left until this can be resolved in an election.
    Think of this as the council and mayor and administrator being stranded on an island where none of them have the power to vote the others off.
    We all need to help by looking for ways to move forward rather than just repeating the tiresome arguments we’ve made for months and months.

    December 31, 2007
  106. David Henson said:

    Anne- I agree with most of what you are saying completely although on this Island I would not be throwing coconuts like “a mayor who has multiple misdemeanor violations of the ethics code?”

    I would be shocked if the County Attorney pursued these violations and I would be tripled shocked if a jury could be found to convict given the many reasonable doubts.
    The fact that the Everett report lead off with it’s most damning charge of trying to save $20,000 in park fees (which never actually occurred) with nary a mention that this is common practice means a) the investigation was poorly conducted or b) the investigation was intentionally biased. In either case the best we can do on our new island is burn this $40,000 report to stay warm.

    As a practical matter the new Island also has a leak which is the properties on Division: the Tires Plus building which sits empty and Lansing Hardware. Lansings will have to continue to bail water out of personal necessity. I do not begin to understand the economics of this project but I do think that for Northfield to move forward a realistic consideration of what can be done here by the city and all involved will be required. A failure will leave this matter lingering as a physical, political and financial eyesore.

    The first matter after this which would seem terribly pressing is the FBI report of $100,000 in Northfield reserves is just plain gone and the rumors that as much as $3.8 million in reserves is unaccounted. Now, if the city were to hire a special investigator, this would seem the issue needing the light of day. My point here is not accuse anyone but that this is a WHOLE LOT OF MONEY!

    December 31, 2007
  107. kiffi summa said:

    The key issue again; Since the entire city hall is to be converted to a card system on Jan 7, according to the newspaper, what was the effective point of re-keying the Mayor’s office, a week or ten days before that date?
    Purely punitive humiliation?
    However, I’m glad he took his office computer hard drive to the Goodhue County investigator for safekeeping; there’s been too many questionable computer breaches in and around city hall in the last couple years.

    December 31, 2007
  108. Curt Benson said:

    Jaci Smith’s blog has a new entry which is extremely interesting regarding Goodhue County’s investigation of Al Roder:

    January 1, 2008
  109. Jane Moline said:

    Part of me just wants to sit out these discussions as they are getting sooo testy. Part of me is pleased that people care so much about their government (and listening to the meeting on Saturday morning shows how much so many care.)

    To make this perfectly clear: I am not a citizen of Northfield–I live in Dundas. I am a CPA. I am a bleeding-heart liberal. I am wearing all of my hats when I speak for myself.

    The City of Northfield is in a “sticky wicket.” Moving forward will be difficult. The mayor refuses to resign, and a recall is costly and somewhat moot–by the time it would be completed, the city would be electing a new mayor.

    Mayor Lansing may have had all of the good intentions in the world in his attempts to influence the selection of his son’s property for a new municipal liqour store. Just because he believes what he was doing was for the good of the city does not make it good for the city.

    More importantly, whether or not you believe he used illegal or unethical methods–he did not profit at all. He was publicly censored. All of his PERSONAL problems were documented and released to the local newspapers along with official memos. He has been publicly whipped.

    (Please do not come back and tell me how he profited by getting park fees reduced when everybody, their brother and their sister’s dog get their park fees reduced as a matter of routine–that is a separate problem that should not be “parked” at the mayor’s feet.)

    I think it would be best if the municipal liquor store is located in the downtown and NOT on highway 3 because I think keeping business downtown is good for Northfield and moving it to the highway is bad. (Just try walking across highway 3 –it is a necessary evil, not at all attractive.)

    I do think Lee should resign. He is against a brick wall. People will think what they will think, whether he stays or goes. By resigning, he can devout time to his business interests and his problem and ordeals, without constantly fighting in the public arena. He can no longer be an affective leader. With no one left to blame, the city council and administrator will have to get down to real work, and they have theirs cut out for them.

    Right now, Northfield is focused on the Mayor, instead of other very real problems and issues.

    It seems this all started with the mayor, administrator and city council being angry with police chief Gary Smith for identifying Northfield’s heroin problems. When the spotlight shifted to the city administrator for potential illegal acts, and then was brilliantly turned to the ultimate fall guy, Lee Lansing. (I am not suggesting that Lee is an innocent–only that he was a distraction from what, from an observers point of view, seems to be a city administrator problem.)

    Perhaps a coincidence, but it seems that Lee was busy attempting to influence everybody for a long time before anyone called him on it, almost a “give him enough rope” approach–was everyone waiting for him to stumble so they could jump on him–keeping a running record so they could use it for their gain? That is too pathetic to contemplate.

    Lee Lansing did not have a hidden agenda. His agenda was obvious, stated publicly and out in front of everybody–whether you liked it or not. Lee, step aside so attention can be given to city staff, whose agendas are not so clear.

    So, city council, do the right thing. Lee Lansing, do the right thing. You just have to figure out what the right thing is. (Hint: It would be what is good for the CITY of Northfield. Don’t go all Ayn Rand on me, either.)

    January 1, 2008
  110. Ross Currier said:

    Jane –

    I’ve been doing a little independent research project the past few weeks and my findings seem to support one of your theories as “spot on”.

    I would like to share my findings with you but don’t seem to have your e-mail address. If you e-mail the triumvirate, I’ll get back to you.

    Thanks much,


    January 1, 2008
  111. kiffi summa said:

    Jane: A good, long, reasonable post… but don’t be surprised if many people only respond with opinions and refuse to counter argue any actual facts.
    There has been a serious lack of substantive argument and way way too much repetitive carping.
    Within all the smoke and mirrors, there are a few solid facts that are born out by council votes, documents, etc. But bringing them up and expecting a lucid response, is frustration to the max…

    Try this one: If one council person would tell me why, from October 2005 until June of 2007, their vote continued to identify the 600 division St. site as their “preferred” location… then why, and how, does it “all” become the Mayor’s fault?

    January 1, 2008
  112. Scott Davis said:

    Kiffi, 600 Division St. site preference discussion had nothing to do with the Mayor’s ethics violations. At the time we were discussing the liquor store location, we (well, I was) unaware of the mayors deep involvement with the 600 Division location. Maybe, if the Mayor had told everyone the whole story, that he was deeply involved with the 600 Division Street project, we would not be where we are today.

    Using your words, “all become the Mayor’s fault” is the summary of the Everett report. Unless you are suggesting that everybody that Mr. Everett talked to lied, and the report is false?

    January 2, 2008
  113. Curt Benson said:

    Kiffi, sometimes i think you object to the “witch hunt” concept only when they find the wrong witch, instead of the one you’ve designated.

    Mr. Roder has been subjected to vague, horrible rumors for months. You’ve helped fan those flames. I don’t have any opinion on whether any of them are true. I’ll wait for the results of the Goodhue investigation and the remainder of the Everett investigation–which will deal with more Roder issues, I think, before I form an opinion.

    Scott, in retrospect, would there have been a better way to handle the mayor’s office/key issue? Can you share your viewpoint on this? Thanks.

    January 2, 2008
  114. kiffi summa said:

    Curt : I have not engaged in “vague, horrible rumors”… I have DIRECTLY stated what my opinion about Mr. Roder’s actions have been, and what the effect of those, what I term “negative dynamics”, has been on the recent events in Northfield.
    My opinion is based on what I have heard said in council meetings I have attended, on reading two years of newspapers in Denison Iowa’s library about projects there and the processes surrounding those projects, and on talking to various citizens in Denison who were involved in the projects in question.
    I think that is a fair way to develop an opinion; you of course, are free to base your opinion on anything you please. I differ greatly with you on the legitimate substance of the Everett report, and

    I have repeatedly said that all the facts need to be “out” before we will know what our final assessments will be, but in the meantime, that does not preclude me , nor you, making a case for the facts, as we perceive them , up to this point.

    January 2, 2008
  115. Scott Davis said:

    Kiffi, what were Mr. Roder’s comments when you asked him about his side of the story?

    January 2, 2008
  116. kiffi summa said:

    Scott: I did not ask Mr. Roder “his side of the story”. I saw what was done to a citizen at the open mic; I heard Mr. Roder’s explanation, and did not find it satisfactory; nor did I find it reasonable for councilpeople to chime in with comments about the open mic statement, long after the person had left.
    I have never asked Mr. Roder about particular events in Denison, Iowa, since there was no conflicting information that I heard (I fully realize I did not speak to everyone in town) . Unless all the newspaper reports are completely inaccurate, unless I missed seeing the third phase completion of the streetscape project, unless the budget from the “convention center” was misrepresented by the city’s own budget report, unless the “new” Mayor is fabricating his story, unless the Job Corps did not pull out of a project improperly handled, unless some large in-kind donations for the convention center were given and therefor there was not a need for a bridge loan…. then I think most of those reports are pretty accurate.

    By the way, I answered your Jan 2, 10: 21 post immediately, but I forgot to change the name from victor to kiffi, and it disappeared???? So, I’ll wait to see if it turns up.

    January 2, 2008
  117. Scott Davis said:

    If you don’t ask the very person you are accusing of singlehandedly turning Dennison upside down with his mismanagement (your opinion), then you are very correct… your chances of finding conflicting information is greatly diminished.

    January 2, 2008
  118. Tracy Davis said:

    Jane, I concur with your thoughts (post #118). And I promise not to Rand you. (I’ll leave that to Bruce Morlan and Dave Ludescher.) 🙂

    January 2, 2008
  119. William Siemers said:

    About the liquor store. This may not be the thread for this…but I just read the story about the liquor store in the Northfield News and have a couple comments/questions.

    Lot’s of towns don’t have municipal liquor stores at all. Do they derive any income from the private liquor stores within their borders? Why have they decided not to have liquor stores? Is the operation of a muncipal store a part of a strategy to better control liquor sales or is it strictly a moneymaking proposition. As it is, it seems the store contributed $120,000 to the city budget. This can not be more than a couple per cent. Is anyone asking why the city is even in this business?

    In the last legislative session a strong push was made by interested parties to allow grocery stores to sell strong beer and wine. I’m not sure if liquor was included in this push or not. In any case, it seems clear that these parties are not going away (particularly since it can be argued that this is a consumer friendly proposal) and will continue to push for beer and wine. Can the small towns who have muni’s expect to stop this push forever? What would the passage of such a law do to the profitability of our Muni?

    I don’t object to the concept of a city liquor store at all. And it seems, if we are going to have one we need a bigger one. I might suggest that what is built should go beyond a traditional liquor store concept to include room for specialty foods…maybe even a deli? After all, it probably won’t be long before it will have to compete with grocery stores.

    January 2, 2008
  120. John George said:

    William- The city’s involvement with the liquor store was discussed on a thread dated Aug. 18 on LG. You can access it in the Archives in the side bar.

    Curt- Great post, #122.

    Kiffi- I suspect that any study that comes up with results other than what you are looking for will be discounted on your part. History can only be rewritten so many times.

    January 2, 2008
  121. victor summa said:

    Scott Davis: Responding to your remarks to Kiffi (#127) on how to interrogate Al Roder – or you, for example. None of the Councilors seem to be forthcoming when asked direct questions. I advised you years ago not to engage in the Blogs, as I find them in many ways an open sewer of misinformation, thus potentially a bottomless pit. Unfortunately the Newspaper is IMHO worse. Having said that, and in an attempt to clear some things with you … off-line so to speak… I add the following:

    I’ve written you twice and on at least two occasions spoken directly to you about the Chamber A/V contract – wanting to discuss this with you, my friend… someone whom I supported (and encouraged) to run for council…. discuss this before I went forward with my recollections of that affair in a more public venue, recollections which are not parallel to those you have posted and have been quoted on in the NNews..

    You have never responded in E mail and in two F2F situations you always put me off.

    Much of my personal interaction with Al Roder has left me with misgivings regarding his intent and methods. In some cases, in a variety of ways by accident I have had opportunity to research his past and present. In other cases, driven by my concern for what is going on at City Hall — I have intentionally made an effort to research Roder’s methods and past. I see parallels there that are frightening .. and I encounter a City Council that has denied the reality of the Liquor store incidents, the TOC incident and other allegations levied at Lansing by an attack mode Council… the end result of which is I fear very destructive to Northfield’s future… let alone the Lansing family. And I suspect, orchestrated by Roder to cover his actions.

    While I’m sure your relationship with the City Administrator is MUCH more casual and frequent than mine… I doubt you bring the same eye to casting characters in their various parts, when they are played out on the stage of Northfield: Springboard To a Better Municipal Job. My area of expertise.

    With a tinge of indictment you asked Kiffi, has she spoken with Al Roder? You might also ask me.

    Reality is, none of us have the easy opportunity (and responsibility) to judge him and question him as you did when he went through the hiring process. Did you have an inkling of the material in the book Denison Iowa? Do you recall in his resume accomplishments as he listed them?

    Two were:

    1) The Development of the Denison convention center. Currently I’m told a boondoggle.

    2) Bringing a faith based value to the City of Denison

    NOTE: both are paraphrased here but are firmly intrenched in my research files on Al Roder. Both have parallels here in Northfield.

    But the point is… did you and the other six city Councilors pursue with accuracy the real personality of your hire? In fact … was he your first choice? Did you do good? We’re your first appraisals right? Wrong? Complicated isn’t it?

    So please don’t fault any citizen for their observations or for their well thought out assumptions. Those are the characteristics of judgment that you had at your disposal… when you either erred or hide from the reality of … when completing the task of finding a new Administrator.

    When it has come to satisfying the citizens concerns… you and other Councilors have rung the timer on the Open Mic – moved on to inappropriate verbal assault of the Mayor – to such an extent that mere citizen observers are left wondering, is it personal or corrupt? If I haven’t said this in previous comments … I must here. No less than four currently seated members of the city council are persons whom I personally pursued to run. Should I now echo Jon Denison in his remark of Lee Lansing? “I want my vote back! “

    There was a time when you valued my input and my candor… or so you led me to believe. I think you held the same sense of devotion to Kiffi. I assure you I have not changed. My level of understanding is at the same level you once respected … and now, duck.

    I see a city at risk due to a bias of personalities on the Council – in the Administrator’s office, and writing in the News. What to do?

    Talk with Al? I don’t think so. But, I would still like to talk w/you about the A/V Contract.

    January 2, 2008
  122. kiffi summa said:

    Scott: in response to your Jan 2, 10:21 post: Although I find it difficult to comprehend that you knew nothing about the Mayor’s connection to the 600 Division site that you and the rest of the council kept identifying, up til the end of May 2007, as your preferred location, maybe I would understand if you explained how, and when, you became aware of the connection, and how that then affected your vote?

    As to Mr. Roder, if I remember correctly, (and I think I do) only the Mayor voted for Mr. Roder in the first go-round of voting for the job of city administrator. Is that not correct? The vote was six-1 for the other candidate; there were only two finalists. When the other candidate declined to move north, the six who did not vote for Mr. Roder had to accept their second choice, or start over. You and the other five, must have had a reason for not selecting Mr. Roder on the first round; that’s an almost unanimous vote… Isn’t it strange how the tables turn?

    Now, as to the Everett report, I simply believe it is highly flawed, it does not always support the conclusions it comes to with evidence. The paragraph “Interpretation of Evidence” was referred to/excused by a council person as “boilerplate”.
    Frankly, I was looking for neither “boilerplate”, nor an “interpretation” of evidence; I was looking for facts, and I didn’t find them, in the text of either the conclusions or the supporting(?) text. I also did not find the selection of the investigator, one who has been employed in the office of another attorney who is currently in the city’s employ, to be sufficiently “arms length” to be considered truly independent.

    John: I think we have disagreed often enough to “agree to disagree”.

    January 2, 2008
  123. David Henson said:

    Mr Knudsen probably does not want the resolution to require the Mayor’s signature however his directive would seem to ignore that 4.10 comes before 4.11, so clearly the Mayor’s signature is a requirement of “Passage.”

    If this were not the case then the code would just say resolutions take effect after “passed by the council.”

    Instead the code specifically goes out of it’s way in 4.10 to define the Mayor’s signature as a requirement of “Passage.”

    January 2, 2008
  124. Scott Davis said:

    David H. –

    Do you really believe that the mayor has full veto power? To follow your logic, the Mayor could always have his way, no matter the outcome of the council’s votes. If that was the case, what is the need for a council in the first place… the mayor decides what will be and not be.

    January 3, 2008
  125. David Henson said:

    Scott- This is not what I “believe” or “my logic,” this is what the code says in English. The logic that would seem to flow from “the language” is that when an action is voted that in reflection seems hasty and ill thought out either the Council (by not coming up with two signers) or the Mayor (through not signing) can force additional debate. Given that the number of people involved, 7, is small (less than a jury) the potential for an emotional or over-influenced decision exists and the requirement of signatures would mitigate against bad law. The small number also makes getting back together and hammering out good law fairly easy.

    I cannot think of a better example of the above than what has currently transpired; the council attempting an innovative means to undo a Mayoral election without using the proper tools of recall as outlined in the code.

    January 3, 2008
  126. Anne Bretts said:

    It really seems as though the charter commission really has some work to do. A unilateral veto with no override provision creates a dictatorship. If that is the intent of the commission, the wording needs to be much more clear and precise — and perhaps the council should be disbanded, since the mayor would have total control.
    The charter also needs to make better provision for handling mayoral misconduct. Citizens should not have to resort to a recall when multiple misdemeanor infractions are present. If the Goodhue County Attorney brings charges, the mayor should have to step down. The council should have the authority to require it.
    This is not a minor issue. This was an attempt to steer hundreds of thousands of dollars to the mayor and his family. The fact that it didn’t succeed doesn’t minimize the seriousness of the attempt.

    January 3, 2008
  127. Scott Neal said:

    The Mayor of Northfield does not have the authority to veto or nullify a resolution adopted by the City Council. The act of signing an ordinance or resolution is a ministerial act of the Mayor in a Minnesota Home Rule Charter City. This is a question has been adjudicated plenty ‘o’ times. A resolution or ordinance will become effective, with or without the Mayor’s signature, upon its publication in the newspaper of record.

    January 4, 2008
  128. David Henson said:

    Scott- Thanks for the information !

    Why wouldn’t this paragraph apply from Chapter 4 of the handbook apply (

    The experiences of other cities concerning the application of a charter or of the statutory city law are of little direct help to the home rule charter city. For
    example, the Supreme Court or the attorney general can give a ruling concerning a statutory city that, in most instances, will be equally applicable to all other statutory cities in the state. Rulings affecting a home rule charter
    usually concern only those cities that have very similar charter provisions.

    January 4, 2008
  129. victor summa said:

    Scott Neal wrote on January 4, 2008

    A resolution or ordinance will become effective, with or without the Mayor’s signature, upon its publication in the newspaper of record.

    This goes to a question that has been rumbling around in my head since the fateful Dec 22 special Meeting. Thanks Scott.

    Perhaps a mere technicality – perhaps malfeasance – maybe a mis demeanor or, plain ineptness … but if as Mr. Neal says

    “… becomes effective …. upon it’s publication in the newspaper of record”

    then did the “Royal Guard” jump the gun with their hasty eviction and changing of the locks?

    I’m for a judgment call of: a mix of all the above.

    Certainly the Councilors don’t know much of municipal law, framing it or following it … even those licensed to practice it. Witness the circus called the Rental Code… or the Woodley Street Reclamation… or their buddy session still to be be scheduled… where they’ll learn how to play together. And asking the attorney sitting on the dais with his meters running about Council’s actions … well that’s a cold and circuitous route to clear answers. Attorney Knutson assures us via the Fishy Paper: “it’s all on the up and up.” Well what would you expect?

    In my over 40 years of observing these kinds of antics, including many opportunities to watch close up, Chicago’s Richard J Daly in action … [now there’s a seminar they might all take] I’ve never seen a more obvious case of, no one knows what‘s proper procedure … or if they do … they also know the short cuts around it! Hmm, on second thought, maybe they took the “Daly Grind 101” already.

    Regardless, if the law requires publication and then a 30 day period from the date of “NOTICE” for the public to challenge… has this recent action been woefully inappropriate? Does it rise to the level of unlawful?

    Well, get in line over in Goodhue County for ruling!

    Be it in the granting of Occupancy Permits, Calculating Park Dedication fees for DT in fill projects, observing proper procedure including but not limited to Robert’s Rules … and a respectful decorum in the legislative chambers … there’s much to be desired from our staff and the boys on the platform. But as long as they each play “Cover the Other’s Behind … we’re gonna have a long wait. I may have to visit Denison Iowa again… talk to my buddies the Mayor, the administrator, the Ex publisher and the Mexican.

    Maybe, like Mr. Everett’s report “disclaimer” allowing for its [the report] lack of accuracy and evidence … this recent blip will fall under the heading of “Boiler Plate Law and as such, allows convenient slippage.

    Maybe we’ll get some answers at Monday’s Open Mic.


    January 4, 2008
  130. kiffi summa said:

    Griff: also in today’s paper, you might draw attention to the sidebar to the Charter article. That sidebar talks about a few other items on the agenda one of which is the administrator asks the council to consider major remodeling at city hall .

    One of the needs is for more office space for new employees and a larger new council chambers. I have some questions that I certainly hope the council will ask:

    1. What about the new $90K AV setup in the council chambers, would it transfer since it is tailored for that room? “We” just started using that system a very few months ago.
    2. What about the $14 MIL placeholder in the 2008 CIP budget for a new city facility, the “contents ” of yet not yet decided? (city hall, safety, etc.)
    3. What about the huge former gymnasium space at the north end (west side) of the building, where previous designs had been done to create a two-level space? (Elevator to second floor put in some years ago)
    4. What about the Johnson Control new energy revamping of city hall; how would that be efficient to do that now , if remodeling the building is considered? Isn’t the Johnson control project a Multiple hundred-thousand
    dollar deal?

    I hope the council will take the same negative attitude to this proposal as they did to the administrator’s proposal to purchase the College City Beverage facility; this is not the right time.

    We need to have a city election before any more defining changes are made; there is too much “disarray” at this time.

    January 5, 2008
  131. David Henson said:

    Northfield’s code clearly requires a signature : From the League of Mn Cities Handbook Chapter 6 : “In a home rule charter city, the charter spells out the duties and responsibilities of the mayor. ” Home Rule Charter City

    Again the issue of requiring the Mayor’s signature is Northfield law voted on by the citizens and cannot be undone, anymore that a Mayoral election can be undone, by fiat (or a Knudsen letter).

    Mr Knudsen’s letter and Scott above appear to be offering the reasoning that would under pin a MN statutory city but in Northfield the Home Rule code says what it says.

    January 5, 2008
  132. Christine Stanton said:


    Put me on the list for the meeting.

    As I see it, according to the charter, a recall is the only way this particular mess can be solved and we can move on. If the recall votes say that the citizens want the Mayor removed, the Mayor has no choice but to step down. If the recall votes say that the citizens want the Mayor to stay, the Council and staff need to listen to the people and get on with city business. In other words, I do not believe that you necessarily want the Mayor to step down by signing a recall petition.

    This does NOT mean that other evidence forthcoming will not be dealt with as it arises.

    January 5, 2008
  133. Anne Bretts said:

    Happy to, but the problem with all the blogs is that we have no way of reaching each other directly, which is fine and protects people from being bothered. Anyone who wants to discuss recall, the next election or other city issues has to contact me. So just write or call me at 612-227-0071.
    I do want the mayor to resign, and I do feel a recall petition indicates people want the mayor to resign. As Jaci Smith pointed out, I’m not sure there are enough people willing to make the effort, so the discussion may end up about finding good candidates or working on specific issues.

    January 5, 2008
  134. Patrick Enders said:


    Jaci’s blog does not say that there will not be a recall election. Her article that some people fear that association with one would lead to reprisals.

    I expect that either the Mayor will resign in the very near future, or that there will be a petition to initiate a recall election.

    January 6, 2008
  135. David Henson said:

    Lee’s appeal runs very deep in Northfield. I stopped in at Lansing Hardware with my daughter around closing time on 12/23 to pick up a tree. Lees staff had all left and he had his coat on and keys at the ready to lock up the shop. A hispanic gentleman dressed in construction boots popped his head in the door and asked if Lansing was still open and if they rented tables. Lee said they had closed but offered to keep the shop open and go down himself and get the tables. I would not underestimate how many people have had positive experiences at Lansing over the past 20 plus years and the depth of Lee’s support outside the blog-o-sphere.

    January 6, 2008
  136. Patrick Enders said:

    Lee Lansing’s appeal as a shopkeeper in no way forgives his inappropriate activities as mayor. I don’t think he should resign as owner of Lansing Hardware; I believe he should resign as mayor.

    None of us knows what Northfield as a whole thinks. Cox’s resounding defeat shows that the local blogosphere is not an accurate reflection of Northfield public opinion as a whole. There will be many steps in the political process before any of us will have any hope of knowing where public sentiment towards Lee Lansing, as mayor, truly lies.

    January 6, 2008
  137. Kiffi summa said:

    Patrick : You may not have intended it, but I sense a certain condescension in your phrase: ” Lee Lansing’s appeal as a shopkeeper in no way forgives his inappropriate activities as mayor”. That is so cruelly stated ( IMHO) in relationship to a man’s, and his family’s, entire life and relationship with a community.
    The years of community service of both Lee Lansing, and his wife Kathy, cannot put them in a category where those actions are not evaluated as part of a lifetime’s picture.

    You may feel that the Mayor has made mistakes, even serious mistakes, but to dismiss him as a”shopkeeper” in a somewhat Dickensian manner, and with no forgiveness, is looking at a world which is seen to be only black or white, rather than all shades of gray.

    January 6, 2008
  138. Anne Bretts said:

    Patrick, I agree that this is not about Lee Lansing’s personal appeal.
    The mayor may be a nice person, but he attempted deliberately and with much forethought and planning to steer hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to his family. In the process he prevented other equally nice people, honest citizens and business owners from receiving that money. He violated the state conflict of interest regulations and the city’s ethics policy. He sued the city he is sworn to uphold and lied about withdrawing from the case and then continued to negotiate against the city for his family’s gain.
    This is not just a simple lapse of judgment but a deliberate pattern of putting his own needs above those of the citizens he represents.

    January 6, 2008
  139. Patrick Enders said:

    I was not being condescending towards the mayor. I was responding to David Henson’s immediately preceding post, which suggested that support for Lee Lansing as mayor may run deep, and as evidence, he offered several examples of positive interactions he had observed between the mayor and his customers.

    I initially considered the word ‘businessman’ in place of ‘shopkeeper’, but I decided to change my word choice because the examples David used entirely related to Lee as the public face of his retail business, and also because Mr. Lansing’s activities as a business/property owner have actually been a subject of contention.

    My point is that when considering what Mr. Lansing has done as mayor, the fact that he is an extremely personable businessman is irrelevant to the matter at hand. I would be happy for Lee Lansing to continue to run a very successful hardware store to the end of his days, and I bear Mr. Lansing no ill will as a person.

    I simply want our government not to be run by a person who has worked actively and secretively to steer a lucrative government contract to his own front door. He should have known better, and the fact that he has no idea what he did wrong only reinforces my conclusion that he is not fit to hold the office of mayor.

    This does not make him a bad person, just one who is not suited for the office of mayor.

    January 6, 2008
  140. victor summa said:

    Patrick, I’m curious how you reach your STRONG conclusions about Lee Lansing as an elected official, a business man or indeed a fellow traveler on this planet. I assume your assessment of the business tactics you’ve attached to Lansing as an Official, are predicated on the Everett Report. I’m sure you’ve read it.

    I’m not sure you have much context by which to judge its veracity .

    And I’d like to caution you [sincerely … without sounding condescending] I don’t think it is reasonable to try separate the business man and the citizen father, from the mayor in your personal characteristics assessment of the man.

    He is what he is – they all is!

    Of your conclusions, I used “strong” while I’m inclined to read them as vitriolic – but I fully understand the written word often lacks clarity of tenor and tone – and the reader can or must add his interpretation to that which he reads. Presumedly “great“ writers bring a skill to their pages that mere mortals may not.

    Still you use phrases such as:

    when considering what Mr. Lansing has done as mayor,

    And it is precisely that: “Considering what he has done” that I’d like to question you on … that is, your irrefutable knowledge of what he has done.

    Even my lengthy observations and involvement, my understanding of the political process in Northfield and my read of many documents available to the public, make my certainty of his action unclear.

    But I can read the Everett Report and see in it literal flaws, misinterpretations, and questionable professional conclusions – which I find troubling in their implication – which I assume you have embraced. [granted, along with many others]

    So, we have a need and an area on which to base a discussion.

    Frankly, I’m inclined to feel, were the Lansing actions tried in a court … by a jury of peers, that he would be cleared of any wrong doing – [granted, this is mere speculation]

    Nevertheless, from my read of your remarks, I doubt that you’d say your initial judgments were changed by the jury’s decision. As in the O J Simpson trial – much of the public did not agree with the jury’s verdict – in one sense, it almost makes the entire process a mockery. Who is guilty and who is not?

    So, when you write:

    … “the fact that he is an extremely personable businessman is irrelevant …. I would be happy for Lee Lansing to continue to run a very successful hardware store to the end of his days, and I bear Mr. Lansing no ill will as a person.”

    I’m not convinced of your sincerity. And, I don’t mean to say I think you’re being untruthful … I guess I mean I think it’s the easy way to verbally strike out at him while not feeling that you’ve exposed your true anger… all this subject to interpretation.

    Then you added:

    “I simply want our government not to be run by a person who has worked actively and secretively to steer a lucrative government contract to his own front door. ”

    And end with:

    “This does not make him a bad person, just one who is not suited for the office of mayor.”

    My opinion, you are a thoughtful and articulate person with high values and principles for how the game’s played. Oddly enough I feel I am too… that is, a person of high values and principles … and a stickler for process

    My read of the available documents is that Lansing struggled with the appropriate processes – made every reasonable attempt to toe the proper line – recused himself, did not vote, was transparent etc. and ran and was elected when judged by the voters as “suited for the office.”

    And, I’ll add here, I have had verbal battles over principle with Lansing – as well as all recent former Mayors – all recent City Administrators – and many next level senior staff… and as well, locked horns with many maneuvering self serving citizens. I want, and work for the greater good of this community.

    Not to say you want anything less… but what I hear from you is an angry resounding cry from someone who perceives the process as corrupt… and want’s your pound of flesh.

    So, before we start hacking at the body … I ask again, how you reach your strong conclusions about Lee Lansing as an elected official? Please don’t say the Newspaper.

    There is so much more at stake for Northfield than whether Lee Lansing makes the perfect Mayor or not.

    Clearly, he ran as a well known individual. Was elected by a community that while they might have never articulated it in succinct terms … was looking for someone to bring the governance of the city back to the people. Somehow the question of a liquor store and the impact of the Big Boxes on downtown economics and an overzealous staff have tilted the game board… and Staff and Council personalities have gotten bent into weird alliances.

    January 7, 2008
  141. William Siemers said:

    Kiffi…Being new to town I am not aware of the mayor’s ‘years of community service’? What does that community service entail?

    January 7, 2008
  142. I’ve been lurking here from the start, reluctant to wade into the morass in which this issue is mired, but I can stay quiet no longer. It pains me to have to disagree publicly with people I know and respect deeply (Kiffi, Victor, Ross, Norman, Mike B.) and others who I don’t know personally but obviously care deeply about the community (e.g. David Henson). However…

    It is abundantly clear that much more has been going on in and around City Hall than has yet met the public eye. Perhaps, as some of Lee Lansing’s defenders suggest (explicitly or implicitly), at some future time “all will be revealed,” and we will find that some City Hall cabal has been engaged in nefarious activity. Perhaps these revelations will flow from the Goodhue County attorney’s office or other quarters. If so, appropriate sanctions or civic or criminal charges should be brought against the perpetrator(s). Then again, perhaps all will never be revealed. Perhaps there is little or nothing to reveal. We, the great unwashed, simply do not know at this time.

    What remains clear to me is that the Everett report contains unequivocal evidence of wrongdoing by Mayor Lee Lansing, amply documented by his own words (in internal memos and interviews with Everett alike). Dispute Everett’s conclusions if you like; I can not.

    I know and like Lee Lansing the individual and local small business owner, and have patronized his hardware store for many years. However, I can not abide having him continue to represent Northfield as its chief elected official given the information in the Everett report. I believe the community’s interests would be best served by Lee’s prompt resignation. Failing that, the recall process should begin ASAP.

    January 7, 2008
  143. Patrick Enders said:


    You have asked many questions, and unfortunately the fact that I am at work, as well as the fact that I am a hunt-and-peck typist, precludes an
    adequate response today. I will try to address them coherently and carefully when I have the time.

    I just want to assure you that I feel no vitriolic dislike towards the mayor. If you have read that in my words, then you have seen something in them that I did intend.

    I am not judging whether Lee Lansing is guilty of a crime. Given the necessary threshold of proof needed to convict a person of a criminal act, I expect that he will never be convicted of a crime for his actions as mayor. And I don’t want to see him jailed, or otherwise punished in his person or in his private life.

    Asking the mayor to resign, or initiating a recall election, is not a criminal matter. It is a democratic action based on the personal judgement of each citizen.

    As a voter and a citizen, I have decided that his actions are suspect enough that I believe he should not continue to serve in his current public office. This conclusion has also been arrived at by an independent investigator. The fact that you see it differently is fine by me.

    I support measures calling on the mayor to resign, and I will support efforts to initiate a recall election by which the people of Northfield may decide whether or not he should still be mayor. That’s the way to sort out these democratic decisions. If 850 people cannot be found who want a recall, I am fine with that. If a majority of voters says Lee should stay in office, I’m fine with that, too. This is a democratic process, and I am doing what I believe is right, as a matter of principle. I hope that you will do what you feel is right, and through the democratic process, we will all come to a resolution that we can (or at least will have to) live with.

    This is not personal. I am not being sarcastic when I say that I wish Lee Lansing well as a private citizen. This is about an imperative as a citizen to respond to what I (and some others) believe are grave errors of judgement. This is about bringing an end to particular, concerning actions carried out by an elected official of Northfield, which I believe ran contrary to good governance, and contrary to the interests of the city. I am doing so because I believe Northfield is a great city, and because I always want it to remain so.

    January 7, 2008
  144. John George said:

    Bruce & Patrick- Very good posts, IMNSHO. I agree wholeheartedly.

    Victor- You said, “Of your conclusions, I used “strong” while I’m inclined to read them as vitriolic -…” You also said, “…but what I hear from you is an angry resounding cry from someone who perceives the process as corrupt… and want’s your pound of flesh…” Hmmmm. How are your conclusions about Al Roder, the council members and the Everett Report not the same?

    January 7, 2008
  145. Anne Bretts said:

    Jaci also has a disturbing piece on her blog saying that the city is refusing to release videotape of the mayor being stopped for speeding and driving on a suspended license.
    God knows, anyone can speed and call it a momentary indescretion. But driving on a suspended license requires forethought and disrespect for the law.
    Those of use who asked for the mayor’s resignation said the main concern was his refusal to admit the laws apply to him. It seems he doesn’t feel traffic laws apply to him either, proving our case.
    Is there no end to his disdain for the law?

    January 7, 2008
  146. Griff Wigley said:

    Jaci Smith’s blog post about the mayor being cited for driving with a suspended license is titled: Side effects

    The most recent example relates to a traffic stop the city of Northfield Police made of Mayor Lee Lansing on Dec. 29. Lansing was pulled over by a Northfield officer, who was in the process of citing the mayor for driving with a suspended license, when he realized who he was about to cite, and called in the county sheriff’s officer in the area. This is common practice in law enforcement agencies all over the country.

    Is the fact that the mayor got a ticket newsworthy? About a brief’s worth on our Records page. But here’s the rub: we had heard that the mayor tried to use his position to get out of the ticket.

    January 7, 2008
  147. Tracy Davis said:

    Damn. I just tried to use my position to get out of a ticket and the city attorney’s office laughed at me.

    January 7, 2008
  148. Julie Bixby said:

    Northfield News:
    “…But here’s the rub: we had heard that the mayor tried to use his position to get out of the ticket.”

    Who HEARD and from what source? Where are the facts? This is very disturbing. Not whether it is true or not, but because the Northfield News is publishing something that could be slanderous, to a man who is already in a difficult situation, with NO facts to back it up!

    Jaci goes on to say…

    “It’s too bad, really. Mayor Lansing’s a smart man. I’d be quite surprised to find that he asked a cop to overlook a ticket that he knew he deserved. But I think the public deserves to know for sure. To us, it was never a big deal.”

    If it has “never been a big deal” why print it, at least until there are facts?

    The Northfield News, IMHO, has done nothing but “stir the pot”. Can’t they find anything good to say?
    In my, albeit limited, experience with the Nfld News, what is printed is not very close to actual truth/facts.
    What happened to innocent until PROVEN guilty?

    I hope Lee stays strong in the face of such adversity.

    Griff, Ross & Tracy,
    I have spoken with several people who read locally grown and would love to comment but are afraid of the consequences (attack from other bloggers. Not, a differing of opinion, but actual personal digs.) This is sad.
    Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t this venue a forum to express one’s opinions and read, consider and respect other’s opinions? We do learn from each other (and this blog).

    Thanks for all the work you put into this and keep the topics coming!


    January 7, 2008
  149. Curt Benson said:

    Maybe the council voted to take away the wrong keys.

    January 7, 2008
  150. Anne Bretts said:

    Ordinarily, I’d think the mayor getting a speeding ticket would be no big deal.
    The point is that the mayor ignored the law enough times to get his license suspended, then deliberately ignored the law by driving on a suspended license, then ignored the law by speeding.
    This comes just weeks after the mayor said he had learned his lesson and that ignoring the law in the past was just a mistake.
    He ignored the law to put Christmas trees on the boulevard in front of his store, ignored the law to intimidate employees and try to force the city to buy his family’s land. He sued the city, then said he withdrew and then was found to be lying by still negotiating against the city on behalf of his family against the city.
    For months we have had to deal with the mayor’s many ‘mistakes.’ When is enough enough? Is there no violation too egregious, too blatant, too unethical?
    We have two colleges that pride themselves in teaching young people how to be good citizens and ethical human beings. We have dozens of ministers and retired ministers who have devoted their lives to ethics and morality.
    Yet this is acceptable. I don’t get it.
    If he didn’t attempt to influence the police, then he should demand they release the damned tape. Of course, even if the tape shows him trying to get out of the ticket, I guess it won’t matter.
    I like the joke about taking away the wrong keys. I’m just too disgusted to laugh.

    January 7, 2008
  151. Lance Heisler said:

    I thought perhaps I should comment on one portion of Ms. Smith’s commentary. Let me first disclose that I am an attorney in the office of the city attorney. Citing no contrary authority whatever, Ms. Smith indicates she and an unnamed lawyer had a “good chuckle” over the “ridiculousness” of Mr. Morisette’s interpretation of the statute that applies to whether or not the tape in question can be released.

    Mr. Morisette researched the questions, and gave an informed opinion compete with statutory authority. The statute is clear. The tape cannot be released until the case is completed, or the tape is introduced into evidence in the case. There is no distinction made for “traffic” arrests. It would be error for the tape to be released at this time. Competent law enforcement and prosecution requires scrupulous observance of laws designed to protect the rights of people charged with crimes. It often means the difference between a successful prosecution and an unsuccessful one. An exception cannot be made just because the local newspaper would like to have the information sooner than the law allows.

    In my experience, when judges are confronted with law enforcement authorities who violate disclosure and evidence laws, they most assuredly do not “chuckle”. The fact that Ms. Smith and the attorney she consulted consider this a laughing matter indicates they clearly do not understand either the law or what is at stake. I note that nowhere in her article does she indicate in what particular Mr. Morisette’s opinion is incorrect. It is exactly those cases where prosecutors ignore such statutes that problems arise. Mr. Morisette’s job is to strictly observe these laws, and that is exactly what he did.

    January 7, 2008
  152. Tracy Davis said:

    Julie, thank you for your comments. I’m distressed by the uninformed opinions and vitriolic bullshit on Locally Grown, too, and I’m not sure what the answer is.

    We’ve tried to strike a balance between free (and mostly unmoderated) discussion while trying to maintain a tone of civility. I don’t think we’re succeeding with the civility, but we’re not yet convinced we should impose more control (heavier moderating, approving posts before posting) in order to achieve it. Like so many other things in civic life, we have to weigh the relative virtues of individual freedom on one hand, and the common good on the other. I had hopes that the people in Northfield who participate in a forum such as this would be able to police themselves, but unfortunately too often that’s not the case…. or at least it can appear that the inmates are running the asylum.

    PLEASE encourage your hesitant friends to speak up. We won’t know what they think unless they participate! And as anyone who’s ever tried to make changes or get anything done in this town can tell you, there will always be the gripers, complainers, and nay-sayers who will criticize anything and everything, without offering any real solutions (or doing any work themselves). It’s a psychological tactic – criticism as a means of control. You just have to ignore them.

    “The dogs bark, but the caravan passes on.”

    January 7, 2008
  153. Lisa Guidry said:


    I totally relate to your feelings with the news regarding the mayor’s actions. Hopefully this a wake-up call to this town that the mayor will continue to make poor choices, and he needs to resign.

    January 7, 2008
  154. John George said:

    Anne- You said, “But driving on a suspended license requires forethought and disrespect for the law.” I’m not sure where you draw this conclusion from. I tried to see if there are any public records indicating how Mr. Lansings diver’s license cam to be suspended, but I’m not very good at finding those types of things, and I could not find anything. Was this an oversight of just not getting his license renewed? I can identify with that type of memory lapse. In fact, my father, many years ago, before the advent of computer records and research, forgot to renew his license for 5 years. This was in Iowa where there was a renewal requirement each year on your birthday. A patrolman happened to notice this in a routine equipment safety check. He told my dad that he must be a pretty good driver to have gone that long and not been found out. I could understand this on the mayor’s part, what with all he has been under this past year. Without knowing what circumstances precipitated the suspension, I don’t think I could use this as evidence of a casual approach to or disrespect for the law. Sorry, but maybe I’m missing something here.

    January 7, 2008
  155. Anne Bretts said:

    Julie, I also know many people who are afraid to speak at council meetings or join the conversation here. Many have talked to me and e-mailed me about their concerns. On the other hand, I am thrilled to see how many new people have piped up here in recent weeks. And so I’m grateful to Tracy and her cohorts for donning the striped shirts and playing referee when things get tough. You guys do a great job when I get out of line, so I’m guessing this big cast of characters keeps you pretty busy.
    I think the frustration level is high throughout the community, but it seems the investigations are working their way through the system and things slowly are getting resolved. I was very encouraged by the civil and thoughtful discussions among the councilors at tonight’s meeting.
    And while the issues are difficult, people are keeping a sense of humor. (I really did like the joke about taking the wrong keys.) I’ve had lots of good response to having a ‘bloggers’ bash’ later this month so we can get to know each other better — or meet F2F for the first time. It’s harder to attack people you know than faceless online sparring partners.
    I’ll have more details soon.

    January 8, 2008
  156. Griff Wigley said:

    Julie wrote:

    I have spoken with several people who read locally grown and would love to comment but are afraid of the consequences (attack from other bloggers. Not, a differing of opinion, but actual personal digs.) This is sad.

    Julie (and anyone else), can you contact me via email or use our Contact Us form and point me to which comments in which message threads that you think contain ‘personal digs’? I try intervene whenever I see them but I know I do miss them sometimes, especially when it gets very busy.

    January 8, 2008
  157. William Siemers said:

    John…Wouldn’t that be an ‘expired’ license, if the mayor had forgotten to renew?

    Anne…Right on! As a scofflaw myself, I’m begining to recognize the mayor as a fellow traveler, if not an (unregistered) comrade.

    Julie…Tracy’s comments notwithstanding, I think this is a very civil venue. Seems to me that folks measure their words down to the millimeter. Great caution is taken to insure that opposing viewpoints are respected. The ‘good intentions’ and ‘common cause’ of all sides are duly noted.

    And even with that, if someone still comes away offended, he or she will likely receive an apology. These range from, ‘sorry if I disagreed with your argument, but…’ to ‘sorry if I hurt your feelings, but…’. Whether or not that apology is sincere is another matter, but what the heck, it seems to make everybody feel better.

    You would be hard-pressed to find political internet forum that was more civil than this one. If you don’t agree…well…I’m sorry.

    January 8, 2008
  158. randall perkins said:

    Mayor Lansing’s defense of his actions on his son’s behalf – Gee, I really had no idea that anyone would see my actions as involving a conflict of interest – are at best disingenuous and at worst contemptuous of Northfield’s citizens. It’s akin to saying, “Was that the cookie jar I had my hand in? I had NO idea!!”

    I am disappointed that there doesn’t appear to be an active recall action proceeding vigorously. Mayor Lansing should resign. If he won’t, he should be recalled, even if he is recalled only one day short of the expiration of his term in office.

    January 8, 2008
  159. Anne Bretts said:

    Griff, maybe you can arrange a ‘policy and a pint’ night discussion of civil discourse online. You could pick a few threads and use them to see what people see as vitriolic and what seem to work well. You also could show examples of other sites with good and bad discussions. It could help.
    Of course, a lot of people are just nervous about speaking in public, in person or online. I came to three council meetings before I got the nerve to speak last night — and I’ve been going to meetings all my adult life. Putting yourself out there is a scary thing. Perhaps the discussion could be used to give people a safe place to spread their wings and speak without recriminations…

    January 8, 2008
  160. William Siemers said:

    I see the today’s star and tribune editorial is about the Northfield mess…’…council’s censure of Lansing appears justified.’

    January 8, 2008
  161. Griff Wigley said:

    Dang, you beat me to it, Curt. Here’s my embellishment… and I don’t see any connection to growth either.

    Today’s Strib editorial is all about Northfield’s City Hall woes: As Northfield grows, its problems mount; leadership issues plague one of state’s most admired cities.

    IMG_0177For now, the council’s censure of Lansing appears justified. The mayor and hardware store owner insists he adequately disclosed the conflicts he’s accused of by the council’s hired investigator, but his ability to provide effective leadership is clearly compromised.

    The final say is likely to come from Northfield residents, either in a recall election or in the fall — presuming Lansing seeks reelection to an increasingly demanding part-time post that pays less than $10,000 a year.

    Today Northfield seems caught in the painful transition from small town to Twin Cites exurb. As the city continues to deal with the myriad challenges of growth, its residents deserve stable and effective city leadership. Right now they’re not getting it.

    January 8, 2008
  162. Curt Benson said:

    I have another problem with the Strib’s article. It says:

    “Before taking the leave, Smith completed a preliminary investigation of Northfield City Administrator Al Roder. It’s not clear what Roder is alleged to have done, but Goodhue County Attorney Stephen Betcher is handling that case.”

    I think this is an exaggeration of Smith’s investigation. If I remember correctly, when the investigation was originally handed over to Goodhue county, it was handed back to Northfield, with the Goodhue guy quoted saying that the investigation was more a broad list of concerns or issues than an investigation. There was no completed preliminary investigation. Later, someone from Goodhue agreed to investigate. (If I got this wrong, please correct me.)

    When the Goodhue investigation is completed, I hope to find out when Smith turned it in, and what Smith’s “investigation” said.

    January 8, 2008
  163. John George said:

    William- Good point on the terms “expired” and “suspended”. I’m never quite sure how terms are going to be applied anymore, but your definition makes more sense. It would definitely seem that if the State suspends a driver’s license, there would be some comminication to that effect. My example probably doesn’t fit the scenario, but I would like to give a person the benefit of the doubt.

    Curt & Griff- Concerning growth and ethics, I agree with you. I don’t see a correlation between the two, either, unless your growth is in a higher population of the Mafia. Take a look at Elko. They have been growing by leaps and bounds, but I haven’t heard anything about problems with the local government like we have here.

    January 8, 2008
  164. Julie Bixby said:

    Griff, Ross & Tracy,
    I did not intend to infer that YOU should do anything about what people say or how they say it. This is a great forum and you all do a great job! Thank you.
    I should have addressed my comment to all bloggers so we can all be aware of our words and how they may come across to others. For the most part, I do feel people are civil and respectful.
    I did encourage those who I have spoken to, that are “hesitant” to blog, to blog anyway.
    Remember what our mothers told us, “sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you”. It must be a physical thing mom meant!


    January 8, 2008
  165. Griff Wigley said:

    Anne, regarding your comment #171 above on your plans to have a ‘bloggers’ bash’ at your house, people should know that this is something you personally are trying to arrange and is separate from anything Locally Grown might host or organize.

    January 8, 2008

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