City Council menu tonight: two specials and a work session


  • There’s a special Northfield City Council meeting tonight at 5pm to interview the interim city administrator candidates.
  • There’s another special Northfield City Council meeting at 7pm to A) approve an outdoor dining permit; B) approve board/commission appointments; and C) consider proposal for Al Roder’s separation agreement
  • A Council Work Session follows to discuss: A) Commuter service; B) Energy Task Force; and C) Nonmotorized Transportation Task Force

And see the Northfield city calendar for other public meetings that are scheduled this week.

Update 7/30, 10:30 PM: Here’s the audio of Monday night’s Council meeting, courtesy of KYMN 1080.

Click play to listen or download the MP3. 2 hours, 20 minutes.

66 thoughts on “City Council menu tonight: two specials and a work session”

  1. John–what? and leave Utopia? Ha! By the way, NIMPU might be confused with NIMBY, a philosophy that often reigns in towns, even in Utopias such as Northfield. Perhaps a better acronym can be found.

  2. I’ve been thinking along the same lines as David L. when it comes to staff accomplishments: I think they’ve done some very good things despite the turmoil on the Council. For example, the new transportation plan and comprehensive plan to me seem quite promising. And citizens, esp. those on commissions and other bodies, have played an equal or greater role in those accomplishments.

  3. Tracy…thanks and I will meander over to the Mayoral Discussion and likely offer a thiought or two.

    Bill…keep on bikin’ and yes staff has done and will continue to do good work, but the citizens need to push…staff and elected officials!

  4. David L. –

    Common sense can be the direct cutting through of over complexity, the simplistic dismissal of sophisticated analysis, or a thinly-veiled slam of the two colleges…not that I’m accusing you of any of these actions. And if you can’t handle the heat of expressed opinions, you’re clearly in the wrong kitchen.

    “Not of his doing”??? The “Prayer Ladies” seemed entirely of his doing. As City Administrator, I would think that he’d have had some involvement with the “Rental Ordinance”; in fact, the one we eventually developed had an eerie similarity to the one they developed in Denison, Iowa during his stay. “Anti-annexation”???, this from the guy who summarized the Public Hearing on the topic as a dead heat…and what about the series (EDA, Planning Commission and City Council) of majority votes for annexation? The “staff turnover” that seemed the most disruptive to me, the departures of Deanna Kuennan, Howard Merriam, and Heidi Hamilton, occurred shortly after Mr. Roder took over. My understanding from a City Councilor at the Special Meeting last November is that the law requires that the “secret allegations” remain confidential until the Goodhue County Investigation is completed.

    It is unfortunate if some of Mr. Roder’s time in Northfield was unpleasant for him. Perhaps some of it can be blamed on Mr. Lansing. However, I think that Mr. Roder should take some responsibility for it himself. I do not think that we should blame the citizens of Northfield for it, regardless of their political affiliation. I think that citizens have the right to speak their minds and hold their leaders, hired or elected, accountable for their actions.

    David, as an attorney in Northfield, you may be insulated to some extent, however, there is an economic slowdown in this country, and in this town. Mr. Roder was paid a six-figure salary, with exceptional benefits, and was given protection and support throughout his tenure that would make most workers quite envious. Please understand if I can’t join you in the “Poor Al” chorus.

    I think that we can all agree that things between Mr. Roder and Northfield just didn’t work out. Hopefully Mr. Roder has made a decision that will work out better for him in the future. Let’s also hope Northfield will make a decision that will work out better for us in the future.

    – Ross

  5. Ross,

    As member of the Planning Commission, you have had much more experience w/staff, including Mr. Roder, than the rest of us on this blog. Your analysis here makes a lot of sense to me. Thank you so much. Sorry to hear you will not continue on the Planning Commission.

  6. Ross: Much of what passes for sophisicated intelligence in Northfield is really common nonsense (e.g. don’t annex all of the land because “we” don’t need it). Expressed opinions are often just impractical (e.g. let’s make all of Northfield look like Old Northfield).

    With regard to Al Roder, I was pointing out that many of the “issues” were distractions that most other towns with less sophisicated intelligence and less expressed opinions would have dismissed as lacking common sense or as being impractical.

    Here is how I think other towns would have reacted:
    Prayer ladies – Who cares?
    Annexation – No brainer.
    Secret allegations – Sour grapes!
    Rental ordinance – Not the City’s problem.

    See how much time is freed up so that the real work of the City can be done?

  7. David L. –

    Perhaps you can explain the difference between:

    “Prayer ladies – Who cares?
    Annexation – No brainer.
    Secret allegations – Sour grapes!
    Rental ordinance – Not the City’s problem.”


    “lacking common sense or as being impractical”.

    Thanks much,


  8. Ross- Just a reminder on the prayer ladies. This was touted as an infringement on the separation clause of the Constitution. In reality, the reaction was an affront to the equal access laws, and an infringement on these peoples’ civil rights. The result of all this uproar was a distraction to what was going on behind the scenes with the liquor store property. I know you won’t agree with this, but someone has to say it. There are more than just David L. who question how this last year was handled.

  9. John,
    I also have a lot of problems with how a lot of things were handled in the past year or so in City Hall, by players on all sides of the various controversies.

    However, I have to take exception to your representation of reaction to the “prayer ladies” issue as “an affront to the equal access laws, and an infringement on these peoples’ civil rights.” Seriously, now. Do you think Mr. Roder would have granted unsupervised after-hours access to his office to a group of Wiccans, Satanists, neo-Nazis, atheists, Islamic fundamentalists, free love advocates, nudists or latter-day Trotskyites who wanted to incantate/meditate/pray/advocate for wise decision-making by the council?

    David L.: Perhaps you are right in your assessment (comment #57) of how many other towns would have reacted to your list of pet peeves from the last year. I would not care to live in such a town. I love living in Northfield, and as maddening and disheartening as many of the controversies of the past year have been for everyone in the community, I hardly think the solution is to just throw up your hands and say “whatever,” or to not pay attention to what is going on in town and engage when you feel morally obligated to do so, which is what you seem to be suggesting. Democracy is sometimes messy. Messy can be good.

  10. In looking over David L.’s list again, there are only two points on it that, to my knowledge, actually consumed any council time- annexation and rental ordinance. I don’t agree with his assessment of the rental ordinace, either, so perhaps the council was actually using more common sense than they have been given credit for.

  11. Bruce- If he had refused their request, would it have gone unchallenged? I think not, on the same grounds I cited, especially in this city. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Your insinuation is that there was favoritism demonstrated here. That may be your opinion, and you have every right to it, in the absence of hard evidence about the relationships involved. I’ll stand by my opinion.

    Take a look at the URL I posted on the Obama/McCain thread. I think there is some correlation in politics in general in David Brooks’ column.

  12. Griff – David L seems tough so I thought he might think it was funny. But I maybe should have just made the general point that arguments appealing to “common sense” (Thomas Paine aside) are often really appealing to an individuals personal deeply held beliefs – as opposed to widely shared beliefs (as the term implies).

  13. Thanks, David H… yes, David L is tough but it’s the thousands of others who visit our blog and don’t comment here that it’s important to consider. We want to keep the civility apparent so that more of them are more likely to chime in, too.

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