6/2 City Council meeting – what happened?

I didn’t attend last night’s Northfield City Council meeting (agenda PDF; photo is from earlier this year).

  • I was told this morning by a citizen who attended the meeting that Mayor Lee Lansing opened the meeting but then departed, accompanied by Police Chief Mark Taylor. Anyone have details?
  • Who spoke at the public input portion of the meeting on the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)?
  • Did payments get authorized for the investment loss; for legal services?
  • Did plan for City Hall renovations get approved?


  1. Griff Wigley said:

    Was City Admin Al Roder at the meeting, given that he had a job interview in Norfolk, Nebraska at 9 am?

    June 3, 2008
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    I just spoke to a media person who was there. Lee was visibly intoxicated. Before the meeting, Councilors evidently tried to convince him to not chair the meeting.

    June 3, 2008
  3. Curt Benson said:

    Griff, wouldn’t it be more prudent to say Lansing appeared to be impaired? What if he was suffering from a medical condition? ….just trying to be fair, I’m sure the truth will come out.

    June 3, 2008
  4. ‘Private Eye’ (British satirical magazine) terms the condition ‘tired & emotional’.

    June 3, 2008
  5. Bill Ostrem said:

    I was at the meeting. Lee announced at the beginning that his father was very ill, likely near death, and asked permission to leave. He asked each council member, consecutively, if it was all right that he leave, which seemed strange. He spoke in a rambling way and repeated himself a couple of times. This gave me the impression that he was intoxicated. “You’re not yourself, Lee,” said Arnie Nelson, summing things up.

    When he left, police chief Mark Taylor, who was in the audience, followed him out the door. I was relieved that Taylor was doing so.

    Al Roder was not there and Joel Walinski took his place.

    At the beginning of the meeting, I gave a presentation of the report from the Task Force on Nonmotorized Transportation. I’m still trying to get the city to put it online. It didn’t appear to be in the electronic version of the packet, though the council members had it.

    At the public comment session, one gentleman, whose name I didn’t catch, made an eloquent plea for attention to pedestrian and traffic safety, citing the accident involving his friends the Zauns and near-miss experiences he has had as a pedestrian at 2nd St. and Highway 3 and at 5th and Water.

    At the CIP public hearing, Ms. McBride gave an account of the CIP situation, and it was determined that the city is looking at over $50 million of improvements in the next five years. It was a very good presentation, very clear. About four or five people spoke. Eric Johnson argued for repairs of his section of Union St. I spoke and commended the council and city for prioritizing projects. I said I didn’t see anything in it about the Greenway Corridors and asked how they may or may not fit into the plan. (I submitted the question in written form and hope to hear a response.)

    I suggested that even if the Greenway Corridors aren’t made a spending priority, steps can be taken to reserve land for future purchase by local governments. For example, the Trust for Public Land (whose regional director, John Horwich, lives in Nerstrand) could buy the land and hold it and governments could buy it from them at a later date

    I left after the CIP public hearing.

    June 3, 2008
  6. Griff Wigley said:

    Curt, I spoke with people who stood next to him and said the smell of alcohol was clearly evident. So at this point, I think it’s fair to say ‘visibly intoxicated.’ He evidently drove to the Council meeting in this condition, which is far more disturbing. I hope friends and family get help on intervening with him. It’s a sad thing but it could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened. Let’s hope.

    June 3, 2008
  7. Curt Benson said:

    Griff, with your additional information and Bill’s report, I agree. “Visibly intoxicated” seems fair. Nice report Bill.

    June 3, 2008
  8. Felicity Enders said:

    Bill, thanks very much for your post #5. Our best wishes and hopes for Mayor Lansing, his father, and their family at this difficult time.

    -Patrick and Felicity Enders

    June 3, 2008
  9. Erica Zweifel said:

    I was at the city council meeting last night and I agree with Bill’s assessment of the evening. In answer to Bill’s question, it was Don McGee who spoke of the need for improved pedestrian safety.

    June 3, 2008
  10. Scott Oney said:

    I always preferred “under the weather.” Webster’s has both “ILL” and “DRUNK” as synonymous x-refs., so listeners can take their pick.

    Is video available. Will it be posted?

    June 3, 2008
  11. John S. Thomas said:

    If the meeting was last night, it should be on Channel 12 tonight sometime.

    They usually play it within 24 hours.

    June 3, 2008
  12. Griff Wigley said:

    NTV says on the left sidebar that the council video is broadcast at 7pm tonight, but then says 7:30 pm on their schedule page.

    June 3, 2008
  13. Anne Bretts said:

    If Mr. Lansing were a high school student showing up at prom, he would have had a breathalizer test, and if intoxicated, he would have had his car towed and would have been charged with public intoxication and drunk driving. He might have been thrown out of school and might have lost his high school diploma and would have had to repeat his last semester. All for a moment of youthful lack of judgment.
    Yet the mayor is “helped home” and allowed to blame diabetes for behavior that is in no way diabetic.
    I’m sorry, but shouldn’t adults be setting an example in holding themselves accountable, particularly at this time of year when kids are tempted to party too much? I understand the stresses the mayor has brought on himself, but he and his friends and colleagues had a responsibility to deal with this behavior in a way that sends a message of zero tolerance for drinking and driving and abusing alcohol. The mayor, as the sponsor of a task force on drugs and alcohol, needs to be honest, take responsibility for his behavior and seek appropriate treatment.
    And the police, confronted by an impaired driver with multiple moving violations, should not be “helping him home.”
    This is not just a personal problem. Mr. Lansing has made it a public problem for him, the police and the council.

    June 3, 2008
  14. Griff Wigley said:

    It sounds to me like the adults there acted responsibly, Anne. Councilors tried to convince him to not chair the meeting. The Police Chief and another citizen followed him out the door to evidently make sure he didn’t drive home. I’ve not heard that the Chief or any other police officer observed him driving to the meeting so there’s nothing they can do about that. I don’t see how anyone could insist on a breathalyzer test in that situation. About the only other option available to the police would’ve been to take him to detox but I’m not convinced that that was warranted in this case.

    June 3, 2008
  15. kiffi summa said:

    You know what’s always predictable in this “community” ?

    What kind of person will be the first to pick up the “stone” … and throw it…
    and aim to hurt, REALLY damage …

    And thank the great spirit, there are fewer of those , than those who know the value of NOT “breaking the Circle” …

    June 3, 2008
  16. kiffi summa said:

    And , by the way, I was at the council meeting last night, and those of you who weren’t … well I guess you ought to think twice, or maybe at least three times, before you hit that “say it” button.

    June 3, 2008
  17. Anne Bretts said:

    Sorry, Griff, but the mayor never should have been allowed to enter the council chambers. If he somehow sneaked in without anyone noticing (which doesn’t seem to be the case) councilors shouldn’t have tried to convince him to give up the chair, they should have taken the gavel and had him removed.
    I can understand the technicality about the DUI, but let’s face it, we had the entire city government enabling behavior that would have gotten a teen-ager smacked down in a heartbeat. It’s not OK, especially when we’re trying to get kids to be accountable for their behavior.
    The mayor’s family, or whoever was with him before the meeting, should have taken the car keys away and not let him come to City Hall. When I was 10 I was old enough to spot intoxication and hide the car keys from adults who shouldn’t be driving.
    And we wonder why kids don’t believe a word we say to them about responsibility and accountability.

    June 3, 2008
  18. Kiffi,

    Are you just making a general comment or are you addressing someone in particular?

    June 3, 2008
  19. Kiffi,

    With all due respect, because I love your involvement with this community, you have thrown plenty of stones at city leaders in these forums. What would you have said, here and elsewhere, if Al Roder or John Denison had shown up at the meeting and displayed similar behavior?

    Are you implying that the people Griff spoke to, and the observations of others who attended the meeting are not valid? That only you know the truth of this situation?

    If you do know the truth, are you saying that he was not intoxicated, or are you saying that no one really knows, so it should be ignored?

    This was the Mayor conducting himself in an official capacity, not private behavior. It was before the public. It will be judged by the public.

    The motivations for it may be unfortunate, and I wish the Mayor peace in all that he is facing, but denial gets us nowhere. As Griff said, sometimes these things happen for the best, but only if they are dealt with head-on.

    June 3, 2008
  20. Anne Bretts said:

    As I said earlier, I am so sorry for the mayor’s problems, but as Brendon noted, my comments only apply to the public behavior and the public response to it. We owe it to the children of this city to hold public officials to the highest standards of behavior.
    I truly hope the mayor gets help and finds peace. This entire discussion probably could have been prevented if he had not been allowed to enter the council chambers.

    June 3, 2008
  21. John S. Thomas said:

    Kiffi and others.

    You will note post #13, and the fact that I only stated that the video may be presented on Channel 12 this evening.

    I am practicing the golden rule on this one. I do not know the facts, so I am not speaking to it either way, other than to say…

    If it is a medical problem, I hope that seeks help with it. If it is not medical, then, well, we have other issues to deal with.

    I will await more facts.

    June 3, 2008
  22. Robert Hall said:

    A diabetes attact will leave a smell of acetone on ones breath.

    Avoid assumpsions at all costs and relate only the facts. Much better reporting don’t you think?

    June 3, 2008
  23. Ross Currier said:

    Back to the CIP discussion, or at least Bill Ostrem’s comment (#5)…

    …was there was any discussion about the $50 Million Plan, the Source or Sources of the $50 Million, the City’s Overall Debt Capacity, Ms. McBride’s Recommended Prudent Debt Capacity, and the Relationship Between These Topics?

    Another question that comes to mind…

    …was there any discussion of a Cost/Benefit Analysis of the Various Projects in the $50 Million Plan?

    June 3, 2008
  24. kiffi summa said:

    Hayes: in reply to your question, both general and specific.

    Brendon: No, of course I don’t think I’m the only one who knows what’s going on.
    And, I also don’t believe I have thrown “Plenty of stones”. I’ll explain: think of the Shirley Jackson short story, “The Lottery”, or a more modern/medieval parallel, the Taliban, or a more classical example the ancient Greek ritual novelized in “The King Must Die”, by Mary Renault.

    There is a difference between (1) sacrifice, because someone must die to “save” the rest of us, because death is demanded as a sacrifice for the preservation of society/culture, and (2) asking the questions that need to be answered, but are not asked because it’s too confrontational to do so, or it causes too much “conflict” to do so, or to dig for the answers.

    I refuse to get drawn into an evaluation of Al Roder’s behaviors, or Jon Denison’s behaviors, in contrast to what I saw to be a health issue of a rather complicated nature, if we can agree that health has physical and emotional components. and Period.

    June 3, 2008
  25. Griff Wigley said:

    Our podcast is now posted. We talk about the mayor’s behavior at the meeting at the 14:00 minute mark or so, then tackle the other council agenda items starting at the 18:30 mark.

    June 3, 2008
  26. john george said:

    The unfortunate result of “zero tolerance” is that there is no mercy. I think that is a quality much needed throughout all levels of our society. There is a difference between enabling and being merciful. Brendon touches on that. Sometimes, it is most difficult to show mercy to the one who needs it the most. So much for philosophising the incident.

    June 3, 2008
  27. Pablo Kenney said:

    I think John George and Anne are both right. There should be leniency provided and we should move away from a zero-tolerance attitude. However, if we (as a society) are going to push for zero-tolerance towards the behavior of youth and young adults, then our leaders should feel the wrath of the zero-tolerance beast as well. If the mayor was intoxicated, or seemed intoxicated, maybe someone could have politely asked him to take a breathalizer test.

    As far as Mayor Lansings specific conditions (whether he was intoxicated or not?), I don’t think anyone has enough evidence to say. From the descriptions provided by people at the meeting, I would say that there seems to be enough circumstantial evidence to warrant this conversation.

    June 3, 2008
  28. Griff Wigley said:

    Here’s a video clip of the first 3 minutes of the council meeting.

    Click play to watch.

    (I took a video of the video from tonight’s broadcast on NTV. The complete video of the council meeting is available from City Hall.)

    June 3, 2008
  29. I was there for the NMTTF report, and the entire thing with Lansing felt extremely odd. I don’t know that he was drunk or just grief-stricken, but his behavior and the “importance of family” comments (as opposed to just saying that they had no objection to him leaving the meeting) of the other councilors really surprised me. Now that I watch that video, I notice the repetition more.

    June 4, 2008
  30. Griff Wigley said:

    I’m of the mind that continued talk of Lee having a diabetic reaction or being ill/grieving is not helpful. I’ve got some relevant professional background, having worked at both a detox and a chemical dependency treatment center for a few years in a previous career. I also did interventions for a decade, part of an employee assistance plan at a large company.

    As I said in the podcast, some behavior when diabetics are having an insulin reaction can be similar to some intoxicated behavior. This web page says:

    … behavioral patterns of a diabetic whose blood-sugar level has dropped will include slurred speech, slow gait, impaired motor control, fumbling hand movements and mental confusion—all symptomatic of intoxication.

    But it doesn’t include belligerence, which is my term for describing how Lee acted prior to the meeting when people were trying to get him to not chair it. Nobody was trying to intervene medically. Nobody had any inclination to call for medical help. The police chief didn’t take him to the hospital. And the smell of acetone on the breath from diabetic ketoacidosis is different than the smell of alcohol from drinking.

    Lee very well may be diabetic but his behavior at the meeting had nothing to do with it. And it’s apparently not the only time this has happened recently.

    I understand why no one I spoke to will go on record saying that he was visibly intoxicated. No one wants to get sued. Hell, neither do I. One’s enough for me.  And related to that lawsuit is my conflict of interest with Lee. He’s been one of the few to call attention to the problems with The Crossing, and for that, I’m very grateful. So naturally, I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize that.

    But the likelihood that friends and family will organize an intervention to get him help increases the more that people are willing to call a spade a spade. Councilor Arnie Nelson came closest in the meeting when he looked at Lee and said sternly, “Lee, you’re not yourself. Don’t push it.”

    June 4, 2008
  31. Griff Wigley said:

    In today’s Nfld News, an article about an agenda item from Monday’s mtg: City Hall design plans advance.

    The renovations, which would move all city services to the main floor of the former school building and relocate council chambers to a larger space, are expected to cost $705,000. That figure doesn’t include improvements to both building entrances or the heating and air conditioning system. The city council voted 5-1 to approve the plan. Mayor Lee Lansing left the meeting before the vote to attend to his father, who is ill; Councilor Arnie Nelson dissented. “I’m not sure I want to spend one million bucks now,” Nelson said. “I’m not sure we can afford it.”

    Also, Projects on city’s five-year plan could be delayed.

    Public input taken at Monday’s meeting will help the city formulate its 2009-2013 CIP. Three of the five residents who addressed the council asked it to consider projects not included in the plan: improvements to Hauberg Woods Park, bicycle lanes on city streets and the reconstruction of a portion of Union Street. Highland Avenue resident Don McGee suggested the safety center construction begin before 2010, while David DeLong of Spring Street said the plan was too costly.

    June 4, 2008
  32. Britt Ackerman said:

    Just a technicality I wanted to clear up… One does not need to be caught driving a vehicle to be charged with DWI. There must only be probable cause to believe the driver had driven a vehicle while under the influence.

    June 4, 2008
  33. Bill Ostrem said:

    Regarding Ross’s comment #25, Ms. McBride’s presentation was quite thorough about the spending options and the tax implications, presenting different options, including a sales tax, which would lower the property tax burden (and provide some revenue from non-residents who use our roads and other facilities). She was obviously impartial on whether increasing taxes was a good idea. There will be more public hearings on this, as well as some out in the community (not in City Hall).

    The newspaper story Griff quoted above in #33 is an accurate rendering of the public hearing comments I heard. I was the one who referred to the bike lanes. A small number of bike lanes (on-street lanes, not off-street paths) are in the Parks and Trails Master Plan (which I’m told won’t be approved until the fall, when the consultant returns from a sabbatical), as are a slightly larger number of bike routes (signs only, so the road doesn’t change). I simply suggested that if the Greenway Corridors aren’t being funded for the next five years, which seems all too possible given the number of large capital projects the city faces, then spending money on these relatively low-cost improvements makes sense as a way to begin to implement the plan.

    June 4, 2008
  34. Anne Bretts said:

    Thanks, Britt. That makes the situation more problematic. If he has shown this intoxicated behavior before and he was driving that night, then more forceful action was needed to address his behavior and prevent future offenses. Again, this is about the difference between private compassion for private behavior and public accountability for public behavior.
    I have all the compassion in the world for someone struggling with personal issues. But as before, Mr. Lansing has chosen to make his personal issues public concerns. He could have chosen to stay home Monday night.
    We do not allow ministers to take the altar or doctors to enter surgery while impaired, even though we understand and support their personal efforts to deal with substance abuse. We can support the mayor but demand that anyone demonstrating impaired behavior be barred from entering the council chambers.

    June 4, 2008
  35. Ross Currier said:

    Bill –

    A Sales Tax?

    – Ross

    June 4, 2008
  36. Barb Kuhlman said:

    In response to Griff’s comment that a diabetic reaction does not include belligerance, I was once at a meeting of some church folks which was also attended by a man from our church who is diabetic. In just moments he went from behaving perfectly normally, as he had for most of the meeting, to appearing confused, unable to speak coherently, unsteady on his feet, and, yes, quite loud and belligerant toward the people who tried to help him.

    I don’t know whether Lee was under the influence of alchol or whether he is diabetic. I do believe, from seeing it with my own eyes, that your claim that an insulin reaction doesn’t include belligerance is wrong.

    June 4, 2008
  37. Kurt Larson said:

    Thanks for pointing out that fact. I too have seen the same actions from an old neighbor of mine. I thought he was rolling drunk but it was insulin reaction.

    June 4, 2008
  38. Patrick Enders said:

    Griff is right that the smell of acetone from diabetic ketoacidosis is different from the smell of alcohol from drinking, but I’m not certain the untrained nose would know the difference.

    However, ketoacidosis is found in low insulin / high blood sugar states.
    On the other hand, intoxication is found in high insulin / low blood sugar states.

    June 4, 2008
  39. Patrick Enders said:

    I would like to add that diabetics can be susceptible to hypoglycemia (low blood sugars) – and, by extension, the confusion that can result from a hypoglycemic state – with consumption of relatively small amounts of alcohol.

    This is especially true on an empty stomach.

    Here’s a good introduction on the topic:
    Alcohol – American Diabetes Association.

    Short version: alcohol and diabetes can be a problematic combination.

    June 4, 2008
  40. Curt Benson said:

    Griff, I’m hesitant to post this comment because I was hoping this topic would die an early death. I really disagree with the way you are handling this.

    Regardless of your past experience in the chemical dependency field, diagnosing someone by anecdote and video clip is presumptuous. It is wrong. Even if you had that ability, how is it helpful?

    If Mayor Lansing shows up to future meetings in the condition he was in Monday, then I might change my mind.

    In the meantime, why not trust that the Mayor’s loved ones are helping him out? Whether his behavior was the result of alcohol, diabetes or something else, he is suffering from an illness. Blogging about it doesn’t help him and doesn’t serve our city either.

    June 4, 2008
  41. Felicity Enders said:

    I agree, Curt. Also, the influence of Mayor Lansing’s father’s condition (or how Mayor Lansing perceived that condition) is an important factor that has been largely ignored in this debate.

    June 4, 2008
  42. David Ludescher said:

    From vigilante blogging to gossip blogging.

    June 4, 2008
  43. Arlen Malecha said:

    Griff, please, please, please, PLEASE close this thread. Let’s give the Mayor the benefit of the doubt until such evidence surfaces to tell us to do otherwise.

    Let’s all try to live by the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would them them do unto you.

    Peace! Amen!

    June 4, 2008
  44. kurt larson said:

    Your post makes the most sense of all prev. ones.
    I agree,,,,,kill this thread.

    June 4, 2008
  45. Tracy Davis said:

    This is one of those situations where Locally Grown can’t win. Mention the issue of Lee’s behavior at Monday’s council meeting, and we’re gossiping. Don’t mention the issue, and we’re enabling/sheltering.

    I believe enough has been said by all sides now, so I hope it stops. Until and unless there’s new information that’s reliably documented to be factual, I don’t see anywhere constructive to take the issue.

    So… continued discussion of the other, more important things that came out of Monday’s meeting…..?

    June 4, 2008
  46. Anne Bretts said:

    Since I was the one who made the criticism based on the early reports, let me apologize sincerely if the situation wasn’t as presented.
    I agree this thread should be closed. The lesson we can take away is that there should be a policy to deal with impaired persons before they enter the council chamber, determine whether the issue is medical or not and address it accordingly. Private issues simply are not private once they involve a public meeting.

    June 4, 2008
  47. David Ludescher said:

    Tracy: A mea culpa by Griff (Locally Grown?) should end this conversation.

    June 4, 2008
  48. Britt Ackerman said:

    David L:
    There’s nothing Griff need apologize for;neither his original post nor his follow up comments merit apology or redaction. He posited a valid question at the outset, followed up with timely media updates, and followed his own guidelines.

    That being said, I’d like to know which capital expenditures are set to move forward. We need to make decisions and move forward and actually BUILD something, whether it be a liquor store or a safety center or even a hockey arena. Doesn’t everyone think we need to move forward? It just seems like none of the major projects that so many have worked on are moving forward.

    June 4, 2008
  49. David Ludescher said:

    Britt: It was (is) gossip. Locally Grown can do better.

    June 4, 2008
  50. Adam Elg said:

    I agree with David L’s post. How distasteful and disgraceful. I am so disappointed

    Griff – bad judgment on post #2. It sounds like you were not even there. Wow! So much for asking me to “Try again”. Get with it!

    While many would ask for this thread to end – as it should – the issue emerging is that of the lack of civility and decency often displayed in this community. Gossip, innuendo and outright lying is not uncommon. Geezzz, it’s uglier than national political campaigns.

    I’m very sad!

    June 4, 2008
  51. William Siemers said:

    Griff has acted responsibly in bringing up this matter. The mayor’s public behavior certainly warrants discussion here.

    June 5, 2008
  52. David Henson said:

    “Capital expenditures” – Britt quit trying to sober everyone up this is a ripon thread.

    June 5, 2008
  53. Griff Wigley said:

    I was wrong about diabetics and belligerence.  Comments here, some private email I got, and a quick Google search shows that it’s not unheard of. I should have checked that out. I apologize to any diabetics reading this.

    As for whether whether I’ve engaged in gossip or encouraged it by allowing this discussion thread to happen, I don’t agree.

    Curt B. wrote:

    Diagnosing someone by anecdote and video clip is presumptuous. It is wrong. Even if you had that ability, how is it helpful? If Mayor Lansing shows up to future meetings in the condition he was in Monday, then I might change my mind. In the meantime, why not trust that the Mayor’s loved ones are helping him out? Whether his behavior was the result of alcohol, diabetes or something else, he is suffering from an illness. Blogging about it doesn’t help him and doesn’t serve our city either.

    Curt, I think there’s a difference between diagnosing someone’s problem and describing/documenting (diagnosing?) their public behavior.

    I spoke to someone I trust (the media person I referred to in post #2 who was there and standing next to Lee before the meeting) before I wrote ‘visibly intoxicated’ in my comment #2. (I initially used the word ‘drunk’ but changed it after about 5 minutes.)  

    So yes, that’s an anecdote, but I’d argue it wasn’t a reckless one. My subsequent comments in this thread and on the podcast were made after I spent many hours on Tuesday talking to City Councilors and other people who were there, both by phone and in person, trying to get a better understanding of what happened on Monday night.  I tried reaching several others but they didn’t return my calls.

    As for how this message thread on a public blog is helpful to Lee or the city, I think it’s important to have a place to discuss it responsibly. This was our highest public official in the most official and public setting.  Dozens of citizens were there, the Northfield News wrote about it, and NTV broadcasts the meeting several times.

    The City is served because his behavior in this condition in his capacity as mayor is extremely problematic to everyone and to the public business that he’s charged with dealing with.  I was shocked to hear (from trusted sources who were there) that this has happened before in a public meeting. If people continue to keep it quiet, it’s a huge public disservice.

    Lee is potentially served because the more that people know, the more likely it is that people will take action to help him.  Silence is often enabling and enabling can be deadly.

    So I’m not going to close this thread yet, though the discussion should probably stay focused for now on the pros and cons of this discussion.

    June 5, 2008
  54. Patrick Enders said:

    This discussion is about the behavior of an elected official in his execution of his official duties. Therefore, it is an appropriate topic for public discussion.

    That said, sympathy and well-wishings are due to Mr. Lansing in this. There have been a couple of overly personal and hurtful comments in this thread and on the Nfld News that did (to my ear) clearly cross the line of inappropriateness. I wouldn’t include Griff’s in that category.

    June 5, 2008
  55. Curt Benson said:

    Griff, I agree with Patrick that the behavior of an elected official in the execution of his official duties is an appropriate topic.

    However, I think there is a difference between descriptive comments like Bill’s and Sean’s and yours (#32).

    I think your comment is way more diagnostic than descriptive. First you bolster the weight of your opinion with your past experience in the chemical dependency field, and then write statements like this:

    “Lee very well may be diabetic but his behavior at the meeting had nothing to do with it.”

    That statement rules out diabetes. It is a judgement or diagnosis, not a description.

    Griff, your comment #32 may turn out to be entirely correct, but I think it was inappropriate.

    Let’s agree to disagree on this one.

    June 5, 2008
  56. Ross Currier said:

    Can we discuss the City’s $50 Million Plan for capital expenditures on this thread or should we start a fresh one?

    June 5, 2008
  57. Patrick Enders said:

    I think a fresh thread would be a very good idea.

    June 5, 2008
  58. kiffi summa said:

    Griff: there have been many “belligerent” statements made in council meetings, and Not by the Mayor. Indeed, later in the meeting under discussion, there were very negative comments made in reference to the item on the agenda that was to approve paying a bill for legal services incurred by the mayor (acting as a citizen, by his testimony) to question date practice violations. Two councilors made personal, disparaging , and contradictory comments after the city attorney’s explanation of why the issue had to be referred out to another firm. They appeared to not take note of, or value, what their own city attorney stated.

    My point in this case is, many “belligerent”, “distasteful”, “disgraceful”, “disingenuous”, etc etc etc comments are made and are not even reported on or brought up for discussion.

    I find it curious that you have “trusted sources” who will not be public ; I tend to put more faith in people’s comments when they will stand by them publicly, i.e. attach their name to them… especially in a non-professional journalism venue such as this. There are many people on Locally Grown who may disagree, even “violently” disagree with each other, but I certainly respect the responsible behavior that requires them to attach their name to their comment. So then why do you, as the monitor, have “trusted sources” that you allow to remain anonymous, although you quote them? As I have said before, I find it cowardly to make statements which one will not publicly own.

    If the other incidents of “belligerence” you refer to have occurred in the council chambers, and involve the Mayor, as you imply, I haven’t seen them; and (freaky me!) I go to all the council meetings.

    The problem some people are having with this thread appears to me to be the inequitable focus of interest on a questionably verifiable state of being that the Mayor was experiencing; and the tendency to define it, and assess blame for it, without any certification.

    June 5, 2008
  59. Bill Ostrem said:

    Ross, I think you should start a different thread on the capital improvement plan expenditures, tax questions, and related issues.

    See also Jane McWilliam’s fine summary of the June 2 Council meeting at the League of Women Voters site: http://lwvnorthfieldmn.org/weblog/post/1077/

    June 5, 2008
  60. Stephanie Henriksen said:

    Memories of my father’s insulin reactions and resulting death in a tractor accident when I was a child come rushing back to me now. I hope my comment appears before this discussion is closed.

    Dad’s condition was worse in times of stress and overwork. Had I known Lee was diabetic, I would have worried more about his survival during these stressful times as Mayor. I thank Barb Kuhlman, Robert Hall and others on this blog for a more generous attitude than some others have shown. And thanks to the Northfield News for printing Lee’s side of it.

    June 6, 2008
  61. John George said:

    Being diabetic myself, I can attest to the mood swings that occurr when my blood glocose gets out of whack. The degree to which this occurs does vary from person to person, also. I can become irritable at times, and I am completely unaware of it. Having an understanding family and bunch of co-workers makes all the difference in the world.

    June 6, 2008
  62. Anne Bretts said:

    The point of the criticism in this matter is that the friends and co-workers — and the police who were present — should make sure that anyone who is impaired is detained outside the council chamber and assessed by medical personnel. No one who is impaired should be allowed to enter the chamber, much less conduct a meeting. (If this was a result of a diabetic condition, the mayor should have a medical bracelet and should have alerted his friends and co-workers in advance in how to deal with any such episodes.)
    This is not a matter of personal criticism, this is a matter of public policy and public safety in dealing with impaired people in public situations. If a diabetic person shows up impaired at a public meeting and no medical treatment is sought, the person’s life could be in jeopardy — and the city could be held liable for negligence.

    June 6, 2008
  63. john george said:

    Anne- Yep. Practical, pragmatic solutions, as always. Are you really sure you’re supposed to leave town?

    June 7, 2008
  64. Griff Wigley said:

    The Nfld News printed a different version of the Lansing story in Wednesday’s paper than they ran on their website on Tuesday.

    The Tuesday morning version was titled Lansing: Behavior was related to diabetes, not drinking.

    The Wednesday print version was a sidebar to an article titled Projects on city’s five-year plan could be delayed (sidebar displayed on the web version of that story, too).

    The Wednesday sidebar version was titled Mayor leaves meeting and included this:

    Lansing’s friend Victor Summa said he, too, came to the mayor’s aid because he feared Lansing was planning to drive to Iowa last night to see his father. “He was obviously emotionally distressed, Summa said of Lansing. Summa said he also believes the mayor’s condition was due to extreme stress and said Lansing may have taken more antidepressants than prescribed.

    The Tuesday web version of the article ends with:

    According to the American Diabetes Association, symptoms of the disease include increased fatigue, irritability and blurry vision. Lansing Tuesday said he planned to see a doctor today after visiting his father.

    The Wednesday print sidebar version of the article ends with:

    According to the American Diabetes Association, symptoms of hypoglycemia — a decrease in blood sugar — include shakiness, dizziness, sweating, sudden moodiness or behavior changes, such as crying for no apparent reason, difficulty paying attention and confusion. Lansing Tuesday said he planned to see a doctor today after visiting his father.

    There were a few other minor word changes with the print version, too.

    June 7, 2008
  65. Griff Wigley said:

    Nfld News editor Jaci Smith criticizes some of us in this discussion with an online-only opinion piece titled Real journalism key in story of mayor’s behavior at council meeting.

    How many of those who used a very public format — the Internet — to present as fact that he was drunk actually spoke with him to get his side of the story? For the record, he denies having been drinking. How many talked with Victor Summa or Police Chief Mark Taylor, who left the meeting with the mayor? How many checked out the local bars to see if he was there and if he was, what he had to drink? Those who had had every reason to say the information they gathered was accurate and factual. Anyone else was doing nothing more than speculating.

    and then at the end:

    I’m all for public discourse as long as it’s clear that’s all it is. When it came to Monday night’s meeting, however, opinion became labeled as fact in some venues where the meeting was discussed. And that’s dangerous, not only to those who put it out there, but for those who read it and think it is more than it is — idle speculation from those who haven’t done the legwork.

    June 7, 2008
  66. Ken Wedding said:

    If the discussion of the mayor’s behavior was not gossip, why did no one talk to the mayor? This was vigilante gossiping.

    June 7, 2008
  67. John George said:

    IMO, idle speculation seems to be rampant in Northfield. I remember the things that were said last year about the prayer ladies at city hall, too. My grandfather had a comment for people who express an opinion or take an action prematurely- it is going off half-cocked. I don’t think anyone in our fair city has a monopoly on this characteristic.

    June 7, 2008
  68. Jane Moline said:

    Too often I have heard people tell me that they witnessed something that DID NOT HAPPEN. If someone acts in a way that appears drunk, suddenly several people say they smell alcohol. Eye witnesses are unreliable unless they are trained.

    I have witnessed diabetics with low blood sugar who act drunk–they slur their words and have difficulty focusing attention–it is disturbing to me to hear symtoms described as if the witness knows the cause. That is leaping to conclusions.

    Anne Bretts in #64 you say that we should automatically have police and medical personnel called when we think we think someone who is impaired and attempting to enter the council chambers. This suggestion is impractical and not compassionate. Obviously Mayor Lansing behaved in an odd manner. It is easy to call the ambulance when you don’t have to pay for it–but if you are considerate of others, you will not force them to incur medical expenses. (Yes if they are bleeding profusely or have some detached parts you have to call 911–but lets be practical.)

    June 8, 2008
  69. Jane McWilliams said:

    I just stopped by Lansing’s garden store and Sandy Molkenbur said that Lee Lansing’s father died, so Lee is in Iowa.

    June 9, 2008
  70. Griff Wigley said:

    Thanks for letting us know, Jane.

    Ross and Tracy and I met at 10 this morning to discuss this conversation. We agreed that further discussion should focus only on our handling of this issue in this discussion thread — as well other any other media who touched on it, eg, Northfield News, KYMN, other bloggers, other public comments, etc.

    We also thought it would be good to encourage discussion of the larger issue of what the guidelines should be for media reporting on/public discussion of public officials’ conduct that might fall into that gray area between public and private.

    June 9, 2008
  71. Griff Wigley said:

    The Northfield News made a decision in Wednesday’s print edition to reveal that a friend of the mayor “… said Lansing may have taken more antidepressants than prescribed.”

    It seems to me that in this case, whether or not a person is taking antidepressant medication is a private matter and should not be published in the paper unless the person in question states it to the reporter.

    Moreover, I don’t think the paper should publish a friend’s speculation that a person might be abusing their prescription.

    June 9, 2008
  72. In resonse to Britt’s comment #50, nothing personal Britt, but I wonder why in this society we have to build something right away all the time.
    In past societies, people spent 40 years building something like a cathedral or public building. Forty years.

    Not every moment is meant to move forward. Many moments are meant
    for reflection and wonder and education and lifting our spiritual eyes upward.

    FOrgive me for waxing on so.

    I did visit Lee Lansing today at the flower store and I was very happy to speak with him and he treated me like a long lost friend, We barely know one another in real time, but I pray for his relief, and thank him for his
    volunteer services as mayor.

    June 9, 2008
  73. Jane Moline said:

    Griff: I agree that the News should not have quoted a friend on speculating about the Mayor’s health or behavior. I know that Victor was only thinking of his friend, and the News should not act like some gossip sheet, taking advantage of people when they are under stress–but then, neither should LoGroNo.

    Britt: I (comment #50), I share your frustration. Northfield certainly studies everything and has good consulting employment but when are they going to DO something?

    June 9, 2008
  74. Griff Wigley said:

    Jane, can you be specific about what I/we/LG have done to “take advantage of people when they are under stress”?

    June 9, 2008
  75. David Ludescher said:

    Griff: Is there an editorial standard that would classify this story as something other than gossip?

    June 9, 2008
  76. Tracy Davis said:

    David L. – what is your definition of “gossip”?

    June 9, 2008
  77. David Ludescher said:

    Tracy: Tell me that LoGro cares.

    June 10, 2008
  78. Griff Wigley said:


    I care what you think about this. You know I respect you for your record of civic involvement both here on LG and elsewhere. 

    The Wikipedia definition of gossip is a starting point: Gossip is idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others.

    Imagine if I ran for mayor or council and got elected (Randy’s suggestion!).

    It seems like it would be irresponsible gossip for a blogger or any local media to report that I had a porn collection. Or that I was seen visibly intoxicated at a local pub. Or that I was seen departing a gamblers anonymous meeting. Or that I was behind in my child support.

    If any of those ‘habits’ lead to behaviors that land me in court, it seems like it would be fair to report it, as I’m a public official who’s broken the law.

    And if any of those ‘habits’ lead to behaviors that show up in my job as a public official, it would also seem fair to report it. For example, if I made a racist or sexist remark at a public meeting. Or if I displayed some of porn collection in my office at city hall.

    I’ve not completely thought all this through so I’m interested in feedback from you and others.

    June 10, 2008
  79. Julie Bixby said:

    Gossip is not always negative as many people think. It can reflect genuine concern and shared compassion about someone you know.

    June 10, 2008
  80. Griff Wigley said:

    There’s a AP wire story on the Strib: Flowers, Jones offer Web details of alleged encounters with former President Clinton.

    Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones are offering Internet viewers the lurid details of encounters they claim they had with former President Clinton — for $1.99 a pop.

    I’m not even going to link to it, as I think it’s a shitty thing for the AP and the Strib to post. True gossip, IMHO, and I don’t have much respect for Clinton anyway.

    June 10, 2008
  81. David Ludescher said:

    Griff: That Mayor Lansing left the meeting is the news, and fairly insignificant at that. Why he left is the gossip (idle talk). I consider gossip to be talk without value, and most often, without sufficient factual support.

    The three of you can do so much better. Why waste your time on this kind of trash?

    June 10, 2008
  82. I don’t think this is gossip, Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones were there. Gossip would be if you, Griff were offering details about what happened. The Strib is just saying what Gennifer and Paula are doing, that is not gossip, I think it’s more like free advertisement of porn.

    June 10, 2008
  83. Tracy Davis said:

    So, David, if you show up in court and the judge is noticeably impaired (regardless of how/why/with what), would you mention the fact?

    As I said in an earlier comment, there’s no way we can win this one. I think mentioning the aberrant behavior of an elected official at a public meeting, especially when it had already generated a lot of talk and questions in public before we mentioned it here, was not only acceptable but necessary if we want to continue to maintain an open forum of opinion and discussion. Granted that some of the ensuing discussion was speculative and pointless. I simply don’t think LoGro was wrong to bring up the topic.

    June 10, 2008
  84. We love to hear gossip about people we dislike and dislike gossip about people we love.

    I think what’s happening here is that Lee Lansing was and is a beloved person by many in this area because of his long term help and friendship towards the people. Lee might have been given the benefit of the doubt and maybe a little more time might be allowed to pass to allow the facts to come to light
    before the issue was raised. A little compassion goes a long way.

    June 10, 2008
  85. David Ludescher said:

    Tracy: I didn’t say that LoGro was wrong to bring up the topic; you can publish what you wish. Personally, I think that it is one step below vigilante blogging. Do you three really want LoGro to be an open forum for local gossip?

    Great minds talk about ideas; small minds talk about people – Ann Landers.

    June 11, 2008
  86. Rick Esse said:

    “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people,” Eleanor Roosevelt.
    But then, she didn’t live in Northfield.

    June 11, 2008
  87. Griff Wigley said:

    I’ve temporarily removed crobin’s recent post, as I’ve not heard back from them re: first name and real email address.

    June 11, 2008
  88. Griff Wigley said:

    I posted this version of my comment #73 above to Nfld News managing editor Jaci Smith at the bottom of her page, inviting her reaction here or there.


    All the online conversation about the Mayor’s behavior at the 6/2 Council mtg that you’ve referred to took place in a message thread on Locally Grown here:


    You accuse us of “idle speculation from those who haven’t done the legwork” but I actually did hours of legwork, as I wrote.

    Plus, you/the Northfield News made a decision in last Wednesday’s print edition to reveal that a friend of the mayor “… said Lansing may have taken more antidepressants than prescribed.”

    It seems to me that in this case, whether or not a person is taking antidepressant medication is a private matter and should not be published in the paper unless the person in question states it to the reporter.

    Moreover, I don’t think the paper should publish a friend’s speculation that a person might be abusing their prescription.

    Could you comment on this decision, either here or on our blog message thread?

    Griff Wigley, co-host

    Locally Grown

    June 11, 2008
  89. Jane Moline said:

    Reporting what you think you saw or what you think someone else saw is gossip.

    Reporting what you saw is fact. The mayor left the meeting early. His father is very ill and subsequently died. That is fact. Speculating on whether someone’s behavior is normal or weird or indicates a medical, social or personal problem is NOT NICE.

    If you see a woman on the street in what appears to you to be a maternity blouse and she appears to have a beer-belly you neither ask her when she is due or report in a blog or newspaper that you think she is pregnant–because YOU DON’T KNOW.

    Asking a couple of people who YOU respect what they think is not getting an expert opinion, it is group speculation. LoGroNo was wrong to speculate on what happened at the council meeting or after. Period. There is no way to make it right now, just promise to do better in the future.

    Griff, you asked about taking advantage of people under stress, which I commented on in #75. The problem is, you don’t know which people maybe in tough circumstances in their life–if it is the fat woman on the street you think is pregnant, the diabetic-mayor whose father is ill and dying, or the city council man whose child/wife/ other family member is having problems. You definitely took advantage of Mayor Lansing in a most unattractive way, and you have now been whipped with the wet noodle by the majority of the commentors herein, and the News even got a few licks in. Citizen journalism, community journalism, whatever you want to call it, everyone needs to abide by a few guidelines and, shall I say, RULES that help limit the extent we allow our personal prejudices to color our reporting. To pretend that you were follow guidelines and then abandon them because the story is really juicy is wrong.

    On the other hand–are you engaging in journalism or when you blog are you just putting your opinion in there–like “Because of what some of the eyewitness’ said, and because the local marijauna hydo-ponic greenhouse was burning and the prevailing winds forced the smoke into the council chambers, I think that the entire city council was stoned when they voted on that resolution.” (Note that this is just an example and I have never witnessed nor been told of such an occurrence, although sometimes you gotta wonder.)

    Anyway, as far as I can tell this string is about what makes something bad (gossip) or good for blogging.

    June 11, 2008
  90. Barb Kuhlman said:

    Jane M. said it so well that I hesitate to get in the fray about this. I do know however that things are not always as they seem. A couple of years ago my brother was picked up by the state police because he was somewhere he shouldn’t have been in his car (stopped somewhere, not a moving violation). They first thought he was under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. They soon changed their minds and took him to the mental health unit of a hospital. It turned out he had a psychotic reaction to a pain medication given to him after surgery. He may have taken more than he should have, not becasue he was “abusing” his medication but because, it was later discovered, he had memory problems and confusion due to an undiagnosed brain disorder. Even some of the professional medical people had him diagnosed wrong at the hospital. We were told he had to be an alcoholic and his memory problems were due to Korsakoff’s syndrome, a amnesic-confabulatory disorder caused by a deficiency in thiamine in the brain, and often seen in alcoholics. We had not known him to be much of a drinker, so sought another opinion, and got a correct diagnosis.

    I think LG went astray early in this thread, first in Griff’s post #2, when he indicated he spoke to “a media person who was there,” and Lee was “visibly intoxicated.” had Griff written “this [unnamed] media person stated that Lee was visibly intoxicated’ would have been an improvement. But would that unnamed media person have been qualified to distinguish between intoxication and an insulin reaction or some other impairment? In post #5, Bill Ostrem stated Lee’s behavior “gave him the impression that he was intoxicated.” Again somewhat better as he stated it was his impression, not a fact.

    Griff’s post #6 said that “people who stood next to him said the smell of alcohol was clearly evident…I think it’s fair to say Lee was “visibly intoxicated.” Can you know from the smell of a person that a person is intoxicated? Could a person who is a diabetic have two drinks on an empty stomach, smell like alcohol, look intoxicated and not be? I don’t know whether he was or not, but this all seemed liked convicting Lee of public intoxication on hearsay.

    I also think Griff’s post # 32 crossed the line. First of all, what difference does your CD background make if you weren’t even there? Adding the phrase “it’s apparently not the only time it’s happened recently,” with no documenting evidence, seems unfair. Stating that “Lee might very well be a diabetic but his behavior at the meeting had nothing to do with it” was not just speculation or implication, it was stated as a fact that Griff could not possibly know. Suggesting that Lee “abused his prescription medication” in a later post was also ungrounded. There could be reasons other than”abusing” medication, which implies a deliberate act, that could cause a person to take an extra dosage.

    Making or passing on statements which may not be true and could be harmful seems to be a good definition for the word “gossip,” and some of these posts/comments appear to fit that definition.

    June 11, 2008
  91. Griff Wigley said:

    Nfld News Managing Editor Jaci Smith has responded to my criticism:

    Welcome, Griff!

    Thanks for your comments. Here are mine in response, as you requested, and in no particular order.

    The remarks in my blog related to what I termed “idle speculation from those who didn’t do the legwork” were not just in reference to Locally Grown. As past blog entries show, I’m pretty good about linking when I’m specifically (and only) referring to your blog.

    I felt some of the comments on our own Web site could be considered idle speculation as well. Good or bad, that’s why I didn’t name names.

    As for my decision to use Victor Summa’s comments about Mayor Lansing’s use of antidepressants, I appreciate your concern that his comments were nothing more than speculation from a friend, but I respectfully disagree.

    Victor Summa, by both his account and the mayor’s, is one of the mayor’s closest friends. More importantly, Victor is the one who was with the mayor for a big chunk of the evening after the June 2 council meeting (that’s attributable to the mayor, who told us that in an interview). Victor is also the one who drove Mayor Lansing home that night.

    That puts Victor’s knowledge of the situation at a level higher than someone who is a friend but perhaps uninformed. Combined with Lansing’s own comments, which clearly show he’s not exactly certain what caused his impairment (although he believes it may have been that he was hypoglycemic at the time), I think Victor’s thoughts are both revelatory and appropriate.

    Furthermore, Victor didn’t say — and we didn’t report — the mayor “abused” his prescription. I believe Victor was suggesting that the mayor may have taken multiple medications that didn’t mix well.

    Overall with this story and the ongoing blog commentary, I think there is a broader question that might be worth discussing: What are the reporting standards of citizen journalists?

    At times, it is my impression that some of the “Triumvirate” consider Locally Grown to be a place where folks can gather to muse on the issues of the day.

    But then there are times, like with the June 2 meeting, where it seems you specifically want to serve as a citizen journalist providing news.

    Sometimes I have trouble discerning which post is which and I wonder if there are others who feel the same.

    I wonder, as you craft posts that are meant to be news and not commentary, what standards you hold your work to before you post them?

    It’s clear you are a strong advocate of citizen journalism. So am I, as long as standards have been set, communicated and upheld.

    I look forward to reading your response to my ramblings. I love these kinds of debates. They make everybody better!


    June 20, 2008
  92. All I know about posting herein is that I usually try to indicate where I am coming from, if it’s antedotal, humorous ( at least in my humble opinion),
    or from some online source. In other words, I do try to distinguish between
    news reporting and merely musing about the issues du jour.

    June 20, 2008
  93. Griff Wigley said:

    I’ve replied to Nfld News Managing editor Jaci Smith. I wrote:


    1. After Randy Jennings appeared on our podcast, we’ve committed to developing and posting an ethics statement. Your criticism about not knowing when something on Locally Grown is news vs. commentary or what our standards of reporting are is a fair one.

    2. What’s the URL of the Northfield News ethics statement? What is the date of the issue when you last published it in print?

    3. Victor Summa is not unbiased when it comes to the Mayor, so I find it odd that you’d use him as your only published source for an interpretation of the Mayor’s behavior that night. Why not also get a quote from the police chief, one of the other councilors, or from one of the many other citizens who were there?

    4. I find your rationale for publishing private medical information (anti-depressant prescription) to be unacceptable. The Mayor didn’t confirm this with Suzy Rook. It’s not a ‘public behavior’ that can be observed. You published it because a good friend said it. If I told you that my good friend Ross Currier’s pigheadedness about downtown Northfield issue XYZ can be explained because he’s taking more of his Viagra prescription than prescribed, on what grounds would you not print that? I’m anxious to see how your ethics statement guides you on this.

    Griff Wigley, co-host
    Locally Grown

    June 23, 2008
  94. Griff Wigley said:

    Barb and Jane, I’ll get to your criticisms. But not today. Real Soon Now. 😉

    June 23, 2008
  95. Griff Wigley said:

    Jane and Barb, I generally stand by what I did on this story, though I think it would have been better to put my comments in the initial blog post rather than in the comment thread to make it clearer what was ‘reporting’ from a discussion.

    Jane, I don’t agree with your definition of gossip. News reporters use eyewitnesses all the time in their stories. I had a very reliable citizen approach me with the initial eyewitness report and then I sought out another eyewitness with a phone call before I posted my comment about ‘visibly intoxicated.’ I didn’t attribute that wording to anyone because my sources used much informal language to describe the Mayor’s condition.

    I then spent many hours talking to several other reliable eyewitnesses, none of whom would go on record for fear of a lawsuit. Everyone corroborated.

    An expert opinion was not needed in this case, as I wasn’t attempting a diagnosis of someone’s problem, just a description of their public behavior.

    Barb, I mentioned my chem dep background to give some additional credence to my handling of this. The vast majority of the time in my work, I dealt with people when they were sober so I had to rely on reports about their behavior from others. I don’t see why it was a problem to mention this.

    I spoke with two eyewitnesses who said they’d been at a recent meeting with the mayor where this behavior had happened as well. I could have phrased it better the first time around.

    Jane, yes, I’ve been whacked by folks here and the Nfld News but I’ve had plenty of other people support how I handled it.

    June 23, 2008
  96. kiffi summa said:

    Griff: The problem is still that you are SELECTIVE in whose opinion you choose to value.

    These discussions are nothing but opinion, except from those who participated in the event, and then they MAY still be opinion.

    It often looks to me, that if you do not agree with a statement, it does not even enter the system to be evaluated. You have an OPINION that someone is not “unbiased ” so their eyewitness of hours of the “event” are not substantial, or in any way viewed as accurate by you.

    We are all “biased”; why can’t you just see that what you do here is GENERALLY of service to the community ( I certainly am “biased” in saying that ) and that it is enough to do it according to your own standards , as long as those are clear, or at least fair.

    It’s when you get into claims of journalistic accuracy that you get into “trouble”…
    When you explain away a “problem” with the fact that comments here are protected by the “Good Samaritan” ruling on electronic communications, as opposed to being held to the written standards of libelous statements, you have given yourself a way out of true journalistic responsibility.

    No one expects you to be perfect; it would be good to not claim impartiality.

    June 24, 2008
  97. Adam Elg said:

    Tracy, Giff,

    It may not have been wrong that LoGro bring up this topic for public discussion but it is the choice of words used by Griff in his original post that I think went to far. You do it again in post #73 Griff by making the statement “abusing their perscription”. Such an inflamitory word – quite different from how Victor Summa stated it in the NN story.

    June 25, 2008
  98. Barb Kuhlman said:

    I don’t see it as a “problem” that you mentioned your chemical dependency background, just that in the context of what you wrote it seemed immaterial. In other words, as written, for me it did not add credibility to your comments. As you explain it in this comment (post?), it makes a little more sense. When you explain your rationale for your earlier comments, they become more credible, but those explanations (how you came to your assertions) were absent from the original comments. So, yes I believe you could have said some things better the first time around. I do agree with Adam that the words “abusing his antidepressants” are inflammatory and not what the NNews presented. One could easily accidentally take more than the prescribed dose of a medication. The word “abusing” implies an intentionality that you can’t know was there, and as such seems unfair.

    June 25, 2008

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