Audio: Fireworks at the Special City Council meeting

I used my digital voice recorder to capture the audio while watching last night’s NTV’s showing of the Wed. night special city council meeting (agenda PDF photo is from earlier this year).

Northfield City Council

(The audio throughout the meeting was crappy so don’t blame me and my home electronics. Remind me to blog separately about why, after spending tens of thousands of dollars on council chambers technology, we can’t get good audio. AAARRRGGGHHH!)

Click play to listen. 1 hour 36 minutes. Or download the MP3.

LWV Observer Jane McWilliams has blogged her report of the meeting, so be sure to read that before commenting here.

Regarding the logistics of the meeting, Jane noted:

Two resolutions were distributed at the meeting (and not prior to that time, as far as the League observer was able to determine), as well as an unsigned memo attached to the curriculum vitae of Richard F. Fursman. The observer commented during the public comments that it was unfortunate for both the public and the members of the council that the materials hadn’t been made available prior to the meeting. It made consideration of the very difficult issues more difficult.

Listen to Jane’s comments at the 8 min 20 sec mark. I agree with her. The City had 3 full days to get the resolutions on the meeting’s web page. And they’re still not there. Roger Knutson, the special counsel at the meeting, didn’t even bring a copy of Roder’s employment contract to the meeting. Shouldn’t he have been prepared?

After the Council accepted his resignation, City Administrator Al Roder read a statement (13 min 30 sec mark) blasting Mayor Lee Lansing for his treatment of Roder during his tenure. He then asked that the Council pay him 6 months severance along with $6,200 of attorney fees beyond the $7,500 that they agreed to pay. Jane wrote:

Before the council began their discussion, Roder spoke frankly about the conflicts he had had with Mayor Lansing, who, Roder said, asked him to resign in March 2007. On the basis of that request, Roder said he is due severance pay at his departure. He asserted he had been subject to abusive treatment by Lansing. He said his desire is to move on with his career. He said his ability to negotiate salary advancement in a new position has been eroded by allegations, and that he is making a lateral move at a financial cost to himself and his family.

After council discussion, the public was allowed to comment (listen at the 42 min. mark). Charter Commission members Bill Beck and Victor Summa (speaking as citizens) both blasted the Council (among other things) for their willingness to even consider paying Roder severance. Beck threatened to file a lawsuit. Councilor Davis tangled with Beck, arguing that severance was not on the agenda.

During the final public comment period:

  • Don McGee spoke at the 1 hr 12 min mark
  • Former councilor Dixon Bond spoke at the 1 hr 14 min mark
  • Jane McWilliams spoke at the 1 hr 16 min mark
  • Victor Summa spoke at the 1 hr 18 min mark
  • Kiffi Summa spoke at the 1 hr 20 min mark

During the final wrap-up comments:

  • Councilor Davis took issue with McGee’s criticism that the Council needed a good job description for City Admin, blasting Lansing indirectly. He also took issue with Jane McWilliams (and others) about how the meeting was scheduled (1 hr 24 min mark).
  • Councilor Denison defended the rationale for calling the meeting and how it was handled (1 hr 28 min mark) and blasted Kiffi Summa for her ongoing criticisms of him.
  • Councilor Pokorney commented that he’d love to write a book about the whole experience (1 hr 31 min mark).


  1. Griff Wigley said:

    Kiffi, which councilor made that remark?

    I did hear the consultant say that Mendota Homes had indicated they’d be willing to sell one of their two parcels (currently planned for restaurants) to the city for the liquor store.

    July 15, 2008
  2. Anne Bretts said:

    How much would it cost to lease the existing space for the liquor store for a few years? A lease might make the site more attractive and boost the retail image of downtown during the economic downturn. It also might give the city time to determine a long-term solution, either by getting out of the liquor business or building a permanent space.

    July 15, 2008
  3. Scott Davis said:

    Kiffi – I was at the meeting last night, and you have taken parts of conversations and created a new version of what happened.

    Kris Vohs spoke of our continued conversations with MnDOT regarding the Crossings site and regarding the MnDOT property at Hwy 3 and Woodley, which is our preferred site for the Safety Center.

    The entire council as aware that the Crossings is not zoned for the safety center use and have NEVER discussed this location as a possible safety center site.

    July 15, 2008
  4. kiffi summa said:

    Scott: I am fully aware that the Crossing has never been discussed as a site for the safety center; that is precisely why it was very bizarre to hear it brought into the mix. It occurred within the liquor store discussion:

    Right after C. Pokorney asked Steve deLong to speak, Jon Denison commented that sites other than the Crossing also had problems and he would like to hear more about the Crossing. Then C. Vohs commented; then C. Nelson commented re: condos, our responsibilities to residents, another lawsuit.Mr. Roder then commented that office or retail was the original plan for that corner of the Crossing.You (Scott) then said that direction for staff was needed, and Mike Berg (Donnelley consultant), and re: the Q block, you were surprised they were not interested. Mike Berg then commented on making sure all properties met the council’s criteria. You (Scott) then asked Mr. Roder for comment, which he did. Mayor then asked Mike Berg if people were still submitting properties. Mr. Berg then said no one further, except the Crossing. Mr. Berg said they(Crossing ) didn’t call us; we were made aware of it, and talked with the property owner. C. Denison then made a comment on it being difficult to get the parties on the Qblock together; then commented about needing to resolve the issues with the Crossing, MNDOT, and the Safety Center.

    Since that entire conversation centered on the liquor store being possibly sited on the Crossing property, are you saying that the Safety Center comment was just thrown in there as a total off topic non-sequiter? C. Denison is usually very focussed in his comments.

    I will watch the tape to review the conversation; in the meantime it is certainly possible that we ALL make mistakes.

    However, Scott, I am surprised that you would suggest that I totally fabricated a conversation. You can see from the above that my notes are quite thorough. If I made a mistake , it was certainly not with the intention of manufacturing a conversation.

    July 16, 2008
  5. Scott Davis said:

    Kiffi – fabricate would be putting words in my mouth – reporting something very matter-of-factly, when it was never said is maybe more accurate. This could be an isolated situation, where you mistakenly heard something, but when I combine it with your most recent erroneous comments about the facts regarding the EDA’s recommendation process I am troubled by your apparent lack of concern for the facts. You said in #38:

    “Most of this tension is about the EDA ’s single nomination, the process by which that nomination came forward (by two members of the recently created nominating committee, and with no input, and no vote of the complete EDA board),”

    That is a simply a lie. You tried to cover it up in #45 when you say:

    “Jon: Here are the disconnects:
    1. I said the FIRST time( not the 5.8.meeting) that the EDA suggested the single applicant named it was not by a full nominating committee and was not passed by the entire EDA board.”

    Similar to the Mayor, you speak in generalities and circles, with no facts to back up your comments. You don’t refer to the specific meeting that the alleged issues occurred you just say when they DID NOT occur. You reference the agenda which is printed BEFORE the meeting, but not the actual minutes where the report turned into a discussion and a motion, in which your own husband attended, commented and voted on.

    There is no way to spin your comments and get the real truth out of them regarding the above. Sure small parts of the truth are there… just not in the correct order and just the parts that seem to serve your goals.

    As the co-captain the the small, but oh so vocal,

    Mayor Good, and Anybody Who Disagrees is Wrong Club,

    your mighty efforts to overrule the pesky facts and common sense is wearing thin… at least for me and the majority of the community.

    July 16, 2008
  6. kiffi summa said:

    Scott: After reviewing a disc of the 7.14 council meeting, regarding the portion of the work session discussing liquor store sites and the specific problems with the Crossing site:

    YES … I made a mistake with reference to what I thought I heard.

    NO … I most certainly did not do it intentionally.

    Because of the “tone” of your post #55, I find it futile to take the time to explain how I made the mistake re: proposed use of the Crossing site.

    July 18, 2008
  7. Griff Wigley said:

    Kiffi/Scott, I’m glad to see the exchanges on these issues but the ‘tone’ has been problematic in some of your recent posts. Maybe it’s a carryover from some of the sharp exchanges at the Council meetings/open mic, but it’s important to go overboard on the civility here, checking what each other meant/intended, rather than assuming and firing off retorts.

    July 18, 2008
  8. John George said:

    Griff- Time to pass out the white flags again!?

    July 18, 2008
  9. Barb Kuhlman said:

    Griff, it appears to me your civility comment to Kiffi and Scott should have been addressed to Scott alone. Kiffi has remained civil in spite of the sarcasm directed at her by Scott.

    July 19, 2008
  10. Julie Bixby said:

    Barb, I couldn’t agree more!

    Shame on any elected official who feels it is appropriate to call a citizen a liar before the facts/intentions/presumptions/motives/perceptions are known!

    Wow, it does continue to get worse and oh so much more embarrassing for Northfield.

    Wouldn’t it be more beneficial for the Northfield city government to find solutions/explanations… to concerns of citizens rather than to impute bad motives to them?

    July 19, 2008

Leave a Reply