Were Citizens Mean to Administrator?

StalinAndStaff.jpgIn a recent post on the discussion of a possible “severance” payment to the former City Administrator, local attorney David Ludescher suggested that perhaps the Administrator had earned this bonus due to his mistreatment by the citizens of Northfield. Ludescher suggested that this goodbye gift was merited by “how difficult we (the citizens of Northfield) made his job”.

I generally enjoy the philosophical depth that David brings to his opinions, however, sometimes he makes comments for which I have trouble following his logical thought process. This one really seemed mparticularly peculiar to me. After all, the Administrator himself only suggested alleged mistreatment by the Mayor, not other elected officials or any citizens. I tried to recall situations where there had perhaps been a difference of opinion between a citizen and the Administrator and how that situation had played out.

The first one that came to mind was Judy Dirks raising her concern about the Administrator allowing the “Prayer Ladies” to use government property for personal purposes. When she voiced her opinion, she was attacked by some of the Councilors. The second situation that came to mind was Alex Beeby raising his concern that although some might have found the Mayor’s behavior in the liquor store process unethical, the Administrator did not have the right to shut him out of the agenda setting process. When he outlined his interpretation of the Charter, he was attacked by some of the Councilors. The third example that came to mind was Lee Runzheimer raising an idea for citizen review of investment policies and capital investment decisions. When he offered his assistance on the matter, he was attacked by some of the Councilors.

I had some disagreements with the former City Administrator myself. I was not supportive of swapping the public library for the city hall, I thought that the liquor store process should be moved to the back burner while more important matters were addressed, and, as always, I wondered why we were spending money on yet more expensive and labor intensive pavers when our streets were filled with potholes.

Mr. Roder took particular exception to my suggestion that the liquor store process be put on hold. His face got all red and twisted with anger; there were several witnesses present. When I asked him why it shouldn’t be delayed he said, “Because it’s ready to go”. I answered, “If you and your friends were ready to jump off a cliff, would you jump?” As always with Al, the lunch ended amiably, with sincere handshakes and that big smile for which he was so well known. I didn’t get the sense that he thought that a citizen disagreeing with him was considered mistreatment.

I’m not sure where David Ludescher found a theory of government where questioning staff’s actions is considered being difficult. It certainly doesn’t fit my understanding of democracy in America.

In fact, in my admittedly limited review of specific situations, the persons who appeared to have had their jobs made difficult were the citizens. When they brought their concerns before their elected officials, which I personally believe is part of their “job”, they were attacked.

Tracy recently wrote a post asking about the important issues in the upcoming campaign. Although the liquor store, street projects, rental ordinance, missing millions, new business park, and capital investment priorities, are all topics of significance, for me, the most important thing to find in a candidate is whether they will listen to, and acknowledge having heard, citizen concerns.

135 thoughts on “Were Citizens Mean to Administrator?”

  1. Kiffi: I think Scott Neal did an excellent job of answering whether the City Administrator’s job is difficult (even without the unique problems that Al Roder faced). He even answered why he thought that it was difficult, and explained that the solution was going to be doable, but tough.

    It is certainly not going to be doable if citizens think their “job” is to resurrect “rumors” about city staff, the Mayor, or the Council (“rumors” which they created?).

  2. Now that Mr. Roder has rejected the council’s latest offer, what will they do?With his remarks that the offer was not “in the spirit” of their former discussions, one can only surmise that the councilors who did the negotiating were even more conciliatory than they had allowed. Only Mr. Pokorney, at the special council meeting, was outwardly very supportive of “paying” Mr. Roder the two-step payment of $35,000; he was right when he said that he didn’t know if Mr. Roder would sign the new proposal offered as a result of that meeting. Mr. Vohs was in favor of a rather more strict offer that night, one that had a $10,000 cap with review, and former very vocal supporters of Mr. Roder, Denison and Davis, were noticeably quiet.

    So I suppose next Monday, will bring another difficult discussion.

    I simply cannot understand the council’s fear of Mr. Roder suing; would he want to be doing that to his previous employer, given that he has just begun a new job? What will his new employer think? Will he want to front all the costs himself? He’s certainly aware of the city’s insurance coverage. Will he want to take the chance that the council, or a council with some new members, will be as unequivocally supportive as the old voting bloc was? Will he want the aggravation of that type of rather iffy lawsuit, especially considering his contract terms, when he has just embarked on his desired new job, in the city where he finds the values more like his own?

    What will the city’s employment attorney recommend as the best choice for the council?

    What will Dixon Bond say ???

  3. Posted to the Nfld News at 7:30 last night: Former city administrator rejects second attempt at settlement.

    Roder’s letter, according to the News:


    I recieved (sic) the proposed agreement as approved by the city council. This proposal is not consistent with the spirit of our previous discussions. This agreement allows for the council to discontinue the indemnification at any time following my signing the release and I am not able to agree to this proposal. I respectfully request the council return to the original discussions. My initial request was for a sincere apology from Mayor Lansing. As he has been unwilling to do so, the second option, as proposed by councilpersons Vohs and Pokorney, would also be considered.

  4. Griff: Are we talking about two different things here? Isn’t there a question of Roder’s ongoing legal expenses, and the question of “severance”?

  5. Let’s see the language of the city council’s proposed agreement. Griff, do you have that text to post?

    I still contend that it is absolutely ridiculous to pay Mr. Roder severance, as he is not contractually entitled to a penny.

    What is he referring to when he states “This agreement allows for the council to discontinue the indemnification at any time following my signing the release and I am not able to agree to this proposal.” What is the city indemnifying Mr. Roder for?

    Does this mean that we’re going to pay him severance (for no reason), and agree not to sue him in the future (for any reason), and then if he’s found innocent of criminal wrongdoing we’re going to pay him a bonus for not being a criminal?

    By the way, it sure seems like Northfield is covering the costs of Mr. Roder’s attorneys fees to receive advice and negotiate this severance. Why are we paying for Mr. Roder to negotiate more money and no liability from the city?

  6. David: You have previously commented that you do not approve of “gossip blogging” and rumors” brought by citizens.
    It seems you are directing that comment specifically to Ross, and/or I; regardless of whom that comment is directed to, could you please be explicit as to what you consider to be “rumors which they(citizens) created” ?

  7. Ross, in your comment #9, you wrote:

    “The former Police Chief filed the charges against Mr. Roder. The “rumors” that I have heard include bid-rigging, soliciting kick-backs, and accepting bribes. Have you read “Denison, Iowa”? Those rumored charges were like deja vu all over again for me when I read the book.”

    The former Police Chief didn’t file charges against Mr. Roder. He opened an investigation. It is up to Goodhue County to file charges, if necessary.

    Also, I’ve heard the same rumors you list above, and more. Some with amazing detail and purported eye witnesses etc. I’m taking it all with a grain of salt and waiting for Goodhue. (Mr. Etter, couldn’t you do something with the “Waiting for Goodhue” theme?) Anyway, I don’t believe frequent repetition of rumors makes the rumors any more true. Hopefully, if Goodhue finishes up in our lifetimes, some clarity and resolution will result. Or maybe not….

  8. The more I hear about this story, the more cynical humor I find in it. Our First Amendment does not give us the right to petition our government about our complaints, it prevents the government from retaliating against us for doing so. This is a cornerstone of a free and functioning democracy. Suggesting that officials should be paid, or worse, actually paying them, for hurt feelings is a strange, new policy.

    Those taking government positions should study the First Amendment. It’s a citizen’s right and responsibility to demand government officials be responsible and accountable. It’s alarming when officials complain about citizens holding them accountable. Citizens should be respectful when their officials make good faith mistakes. But when not acting in good faith, or when incompetent, no official should bemoan upset citizens nor be paid for suffering their criticism.

    As a candidate for the Second Ward, I’ll work for your respect. With around 5000 people in our Ward and nearly 20,000 in our city, I can’t please everyone, but I will always act with the good faith and dignity that we should expect, and sometimes demand, from our elected officials.

  9. Ross: Good thread. Lots of good observations.

    The News reported that, if an apology from the Mayor didn’t work, plan B might be money paid to Roder — is that correct?

    I wonder: If in fact the request for the apology was because we have a mayor who was in conflict with the administrator and council, one would think that it would be enough for the council to pass, with or without the mayor’s vote, a resolution to give Roder a letter of apology from the council, or for individual council members to give Roder letters explaining some of the conflicts about which Roder is concerned, which may or may not impact his future employment.

    In other words, if Roder wasn’t satisfied with the letter from the Mayor, you’d think Roder could be satisfied with a letter, or letters, from those members of the council willing to sign it. The lack of an acceptable letter from the mayor should not cost the city and taxpayers 10k.

    If Roder’s treatment was undeserved, I would think this might be enough. If some of Roder’s own faults or limitations, perhaps as displayed in past employment, played any role in bringing down upon his own head some of the trouble, well, then you call it a learning experience.

    That said, Northfield is a hard town to work in, but 111k is pretty generous compensation. I remember when I interviewed for a church music directing job in Northfield, and was asked how I dealt with criticism from parishioners at previous church jobs in the Twin Cities. I said I didn’t get much criticism in previous jobs, and there was an audible snicker, or restrained snicker, in the room that was mysterious at the time. A year or two later, it was less of a mystery.

    And BTW, I didn’t make 111k in a church job.

    So we’re an opinionated town, both a curse and a blessing we should learn to deal with better.

  10. In today’s Nfld News: Roder settlement on ice for a while.

    The city’s interim administrator is recommending the council stop talking about a separation agreement with its former administrator and move on… Walinski on Friday said his advice came after consultation with the city’s employment attorney. Part of his reasoning, Walinski said, was that the council in recent weeks has spent hours discussing the proposal, and so far there’s been no agreement between the parties.

  11. Thank you Griff. Having been involved in social activism mostly in Los Angeles, and seeing the broad range of personalities among citizens and especially officials there, I am not surprised to see some of the same personalities here. Nonetheless, the Al Roder story is remarkable.

  12. Yes, Jerold … “the Al Roder story is remarkable”. But what is even more remarkable to me is how people can ignore the facts as presented.

    David: Once again, in your comment # 57, you say that Ross’s comment # 9 is “gossip and vigilante blogging”. And yet , no matter how many times you are asked, you refuse to be specific about WHAT it is that you consider “gossip”; and what it is that you consider “vigilante blogging”.

    Please put the words out there, or else you are simply doing what you are repeatedly accusing Ross of doing.

    Let’s just take a simple , clear cut example: Last summer, the Police Chief , Gary Smith, brought/filed (whatever the exact correct legal term is) a complaint against Al Roder. Passed from Rice to Goodhue County , it is/ has been stated to be, a Criminal Investigation. The newspaper , when referring to this ongoing criminal investigation, uses terms like “it is believed to be”, “believed to be”, even the very qualified term “purported”, when referring to this active criminal investigation in Goodhue county. IMHO, for whatever their personal reasons are, the newspaper is simply not dealing with the facts. It is not “purported” , it IS. This is as far a deviation from the truth, as what you seem to consider “gossip” and “vigilante blogging” to be.

    Now can you give me an example of the “G and VB” that you are referring to?

  13. Kiffi: Vigilante blogging is when Gary Smith makes accusations against me when there is a 0.007% chance he is right.

  14. David: I give up; it must be the headache I have that is keeping me from seeing the connection between that remark, and your concerns with Ross’s comment # 9…

  15. David: Unfortunately the “headache” lingers when you make accusations of “gossip” and “vigilante blogging” here, in a public space, but suggest answering in a phone conversation.

    You need to “make it whole” here, or let people think what they will …

  16. Kiffi: If you or Ross can cite your (or any) basis to believe that any of the gossip mongering about Roder has merit, I would gladly recant my allegations. Presumption of innocence means exactly that; any presumptions that suggest guilt are just gossip, quite mean-spirited gossip at that.

    P.S. What did the Everett Report say? Didn’t we hire that fella to do an investigation?

  17. David: You tell me what item , or items, of “gossip mongering” you are referring to, and I will tell you what the basis for belief is…
    Please, Make a numbered list, so it can be efficiently answered.

  18. Kiffi: For crying out loud, they are right in post #9.

    Here are the rumors:
    1. Bid-rigging,
    2. Soliciting kick-backs,
    3. Accepting bribes,
    4. Bid-rigging in Denison,
    5. Soliciting kick-backs in Denison,
    6. Accepting bribes in Denison,
    7. Systematically discriminating against Latinos
    and the worst rumor of all,
    8. That any of these charges are being investigated by the Goodhue County Attorney’s office.

    Ross: What, if anything, did you personally know about these rumors at the time you repeated them, especially 4-7?

  19. Ross, since you have an affinity for “witty” historical photographs (i.e. Stalin as in your original post), why don’t you use one for your own gravatar? May I suggest Senator Joseph McCarthy?

  20. As I recall, the only search warrants that have been executed by Goodhue investigators were to search the Mayor’s business, and the offices of a partner in the property deal over Tires Plus.

  21. David: I’ll answer, although your lack of specificity until now has seemed more like “phishing” than sincere inquiry.
    #’s 1-3, I have never said anything specific about any of these; indeed I do not know anything about any of these, in relationship to Mr. Roder’s time in NF.
    I have had, and do have , questions about why city contracts such as the Bolton Menk road construction/City Engineer/Mark Kasma contract was handled the way it was, for one example.

    #’s 4-7, I know what people who were involved, in Denison, have said on these issues because I have spoken to them, in Denison; I have spoken for an extended time with the minority contractor in Denison, Luis Navar; I have spoken with the current Mayor there who was specific and detailed about the problems; I have read two years of their newspapers, which chronicled both the downtown streetscape and Convention center problems, audits, etc.; I have told of the letter I have from a prominent leader of that community, signed, and urging us to speak out for the sake of our community (a letter which I am now sorry that I did not bring forward, erring on the side of caution,see # 23), and as far as the whole Denison Iowa scene … besides my personal experiences there… I do not discredit a Pulitzer Prize winning author who teaches at the Columbia School of Journalism.
    And then there is #8: I have ZERO idea what Goodhue County is investigating; but they sure as heck are investigating something for this amount of time, or else they are most seriously understaffed and should not have accepted the assignment from Rice County.

    Your question re: the Everett report is not even worth reiterating, there has been a plethora of speculation and differing opinion about that , and don’t believe any entrenched opinions, including mine, will be changed until the entire sequence of events is clarified.

  22. Kiffi,
    You’ve just presented a whole lot of hearsay, and not a single shred of evidence. Perhaps you could encourage Luis, or anyone else from Denison, to come forward and present their evidence – publicly, or to the Goodhue investigators. Or maybe you could link to, or transcribe, your collection of newspaper articles. Heck, maybe you should even present that signed letter you talk about. Any of those things might be far more convincing and useful than spreading vague whispers of rumors of terrible deeds.

  23. Patrick- Re post #76- Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    The only evidence of any Northfield resident being mean to AR is spelled out in the Everett Report. That is an official report, no matter what your opinion of it might be. The only other evidence of even an inference of mean treatment is in the public announcement of a criminal investigation against AR made by the former police chief, and that only in the fact that it was announced publicall without prior notification of Mr. Roder. Beyond that, the various opinions expressed on this blog are, IMHO, of little consequence, even though I might question the underlying intents of some of them. I don’t have any evidence to make that type of judgement one way or another.

  24. I like that some bloggers are endeavoring to keep the rumors from becoming witch hunts, but there is a lot of room for discussion before we reach torches and pitchforks. Law enforcement and the newspaper are investigating based on the evidence they have. They don’t assume innocence, they don’t assume guilt. They are suspicious and we should be suspicious too.

  25. Jerold,
    I agree that we should always be, well, I hope not constantly suspicious – because that would be quite exhausting – but at least skeptical and open to new information.

    As I have mentioned above on post #8, I definitely disagree with some of his known actions and documented positions. Based on what I know of Mr. Roder’s positions, I am not actually sad to see him go.

    Furthermore, as I wrote back on Jan 11: “I am perfectly willing to hear evidence against Al Roder.” Still, it is not clear to me that Goodhue County is even investigating Al Roder at all. Their warrants are under seal, and thus far, the only ones they have executed were used to search the properties of Mr. Lansing and his family’s business partner.

    Mercifully, the departure of Mr. Roder from our fair city gives us the option to let the question of possible criminal activity on his part rest until someone brings forth some actual evidence of wrongdoing, and/or until Goodhue finally tells us what the heck they’ve been looking in to.

  26. Jerold: There is no room for discussion. “Presumed innocent” means innocent. Frankly, we don’t even have a “rumor” to discuss. We have neither a source nor any evidence.

    Patrick: We can and should move on. But, we are going to have to be better citizens if we ever hope to keep a good administrator. The best way to do that is to insulate the administrator more from the citizens, and allow him or her to report directly to his or her boss – the City Council. The citizens can talk directly to their elected representatives.

  27. Patrick : If you speak with people involved in an event, and then see it confirmed in the newspapers, and then see the buildings involved , and their budgets, and the unfinished streetscape projects, and the city budget, are you going to come to the conclusion that all the people you’ve talked to are lying? and all that you have seen with your own eyes is some sort of delusional mirage?
    Do you believe what you see with your own eyes? Do you call everyone who tells you their experience a liar?

    I am really offended by your comment, Patrick. If that’s how you feel, that nothing is valid but what YOU experience first hand, with YOUR own eyes, and WITHOUT your evaluation of that incident, but just the “recordable” action … then I don’t understand how you function in the world. Have you witnessed , first hand, everything on which you base your knowledge, as a doctor?

    Neither what happened to Luis Navar, nor “the letter”, have any connection to what MAY have happened in NF, or actions that MAY be being investigated in Goodhue county, other than what MAY be repetitive behaviors.

    I am really, truly offended by the fact that you can express an opinion, and I cannot express what I have seen, experienced and read, without you implying that I am a person of bad faith, who is spreading “vague whispers of rumors of terrible deeds”.

    I have done no such thing, and neither has Ross when he began this thread.

    I think an apology is due. Pronto!

  28. David L,
    You have an interesting point about the relationship between the Administrator and the public. My experience growing up was with a Council-Manager system in Eau Claire, and I never thought of the Manager as the one who was in charge – that was the Council. The only reasons I gave much thought to the Manager at all were that I was friends with his kids, and because a group of citizens once ran an effort to install a mayoral system in Eau Claire citing, among other things, that we needed “a Christian leader for our Christian city” (apparently, our Manager was Jewish – news to me, and irrelevant at that).

    Unfortunately, I have no sense of what Northfield’s Administrator’s role would be during ‘normal’ times – having moved to town in May of 2007. All I have seen has been the chaos in leadership that has resulted from Mayor-Council conflict and Mayor-Administrator conflict. Perhaps after the next election, we can get a more functional leadership arrangement installed in city hall.

  29. Kiffi,
    No. I am saying that I will not be persuaded by your hearsay regarding what you have read, or what you have heard. Post your letter, or post your articles, or get someone with firsthand knowledge of Al Roders’ activities to speak on the subject, and I will be happy to consider your case.

  30. Patrick: I have also heard that the only executed search warrant was for Lansing’s property. This is of course an extremely important fact to remember.

    David L: “Presumed Innocent” is vital for our courts and really any judicial system. As I mentioned the witch hunt, if there was an actual witch hunt underway, I’d be at the front of the pack exclaiming, “Presumed innocent!”

    The police do not presume innocence, for there is an investigation. Presuming innocence is not a law nor an ethical mandate, but a guide to stick by before someone gets hurt.

    If I owned a convenience store and had reason to suspect that a customer was a deft shoplifter, I would certainly tell my fellow merchants to be wary of him. I would not presume innocence. I would not have him arrested without evidence (my presuming guilt). There is a lot of room in between the two. If you pose that I should presume innocence and not warn fellow merchants, or wait until police have arrested him, I think that you overlook the value of rumor in a society. I should be wary of him when he’s in my store, and other merchants would want me to warn them.

    Public officials are under greater scrutiny than private citizens, and the citizens should be empowered to discuss matters of officials’ corruption, especially in an open forum like this where people like Kiffi and Patrick can present contrary facts.

    I like that you remind us of the value of presuming innocence. I like that Kiffi reminds us that at times it’s reasonable to presume nothing, and discuss what we know and what we believe.

  31. Actually, considering Kiffi’s posts, let me rephrase that, because different people have different thresholds for ‘knowing.’

    What facts can you present?

  32. My focus has been on keeping the door open for Kiffi and others to present facts or suspicions hopefully supported by facts.

    I’ve read what’s in the Northfield News. From what I’ve read, I posted originally that I find the Al Roder story to be “remarkable”.

  33. There is one principle that I want to draw attention to, to help explain my and perhaps Kiffi’s position.

    Roder is a public official. By the nature of his position, he is open to public scrutiny and as a corollary, citizens are right to scrutinize him. The same goes for the mayor and city council. Roder is not a private citizen in his profession, and the suspicions about him relate to his profession.

    I do not suggest that citizens make things up, or perpetuate baseless accusations. I do suggest that citizens talk about when their public officials do right or wrong, or appear to do right or wrong. Ideally, with several people participating in free speech, the truth will surface and the baseless rumors will atrophy.

    Otherwise, I’ll weaken my own metaphor in that a suspected shoplifter is a *present* threat, but Roder is not a *present* threat. On this point, I would be more compelled to warn fellow merchants about a suspected shoplifter than I would feel compelled to have a discussion about Roder.

    Finally, remember that “presumed innocent” is not universal in our court system. Bail hearings presume guilt. Bail is measured, in part, by the danger the person poses to society — assuming the accused is guilty.

  34. Mr. Friedman, over the last two years there have been investigations, reports, attorney reviews, state auditor evaluations, city council reviews, and none have resulted in findings of wrongdoing by Roder.
    Bad judgment, perhaps. Rudeness, perhaps. But wrongdoing, no.
    The Denison situation has no relationship to Northfield, and even there, Roder’s behavior didn’t result in disciplinary or legal action. Whatever individuals here may believe, the system there didn’t deem it worthy of prosecution.
    I am absolutely sure that the critics of Roder are good people who believe every word they say, and think they are doing good.
    Others of us find this focus on one individual is turning into an unhealthy obsession, an unproductive distraction from things that need to be done in this city and a waste of taxpayer money.
    At what point do the beliefs of individuals overpower our system of justice and government? Sure, people get off on technicalities and sometimes get away with murder, but what are we to do in this case? Is there a courtroom where Mr. Roder can face his accusers and clear his name? Do his accusers want him to go to jail, pay a fine, spend time in a public stockade? Is there a purpose to this other than to “prove” a truth that can’t be proved or disproved? And should Northfield people be handing out justice on crimes and misdemeanors that may have happened years ago in another state?
    Sure, there are people in Iowa who think Roder did a bad job, people who are sure he did a bad job. But police will tell you that eyewitnesses to a crime can give very different accounts of an event, all of them based on personal “truth.”
    There are a handful of people here who feel they know the truth, but their opinions have not led to actionable findings, either criminal or civil. At a certain point, the city as a whole has to move on, even though a small group of individuals is disappointed with the outcome. Some of us were disappointed that no action has been taken against the mayor, despite findings in the Everett report that there were grounds for misdemeanor charges. We were angry, but nothing happened, and we will make our decisions in the voting booth. If the mayor is re-elected — and cleared by Goodhue County — we will not come to City Hall and badger him throughout his next term.
    The system worked, not perfectly, perhaps, but it worked.
    Now Roder is gone. The voters will decide Lansing’s fate, and the fate of one of Roder’s critics. Goodhue County will have its say as well. If the county clears Roder, I’m sure there are folks who will add our good neighbors there to the massive conspiracy suppressing the truth. There is no proof that will change their belief, their truth.
    I think we should take our cue from Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and all the others who feel they didn’t get the victory they deserved. Suck it up, find a cause that’s really worth something and move on.

  35. Jerold: What is “remarkable” about the Al Roder story other than the feeding frenzy about allegations being perpetuated by many of the citizens, including a former Planning Commission member?

  36. Patrick: You did not respond at all to my questioning what you base your “opinions” on. You say you must see the “evidence” first hand.

    As a physician how would you diagnose your first case of yellow fever? From what you have said in previous posts, you would not rely on what you read (medical textbook); you could not rely on what an informed person told you (teaching physician on rounds) and I’m not sure how you would evaluate the firsthand presentation of “symptoms” (patient). There for if you had never seen a case of yellow fever before, according to your evaluation system, as expressed here, you could not diagnose. Would you wait for the patient to die, (autopsy) or recover (inconclusive)?

    It is not your differing opinion I object to; you are very welcome to hold whatever opinion you think valid. Just don’t imply that I am a liar (your post # 76) by your accusations of me.

    That is a real problem, Griff, for LG. When people make personal criticisms of others … rather than discussing the core issue … it becomes a distasteful distraction.

  37. Kiffi,
    Hoo boy. I believe you misrepresent me.

    Just don’t imply that I am a liar (your post # 76) by your accusations of me.

    I never called you a liar. I warned against “spreading vague whispers of rumors of terrible deeds.” If those whispers are about concerns that turn out to be founded, then they are not lies. I have no way of knowing the validity of your statements, because you don’t present the articles that you have read, the letters you hold in your posession, or the people you have talked to. Only when you present these things will I have any ability to judge the value of your criticisms.

    As a physician how would you diagnose your first case of yellow fever? From what you have said in previous posts, you would not rely on what you read (medical textbook); you could not rely on what an informed person told you (teaching physician on rounds) and I’m not sure how you would evaluate the firsthand presentation of “symptoms” (patient).

    No. You’re conflating the process of learning what it takes to understand a concept (yellow fever, or corruption), with what it takes to determine whether or not it applies to the particular situation (a patient, or a city administrator). Medical textbooks and teaching physicians are a pretty good place to start for learning what yellow fever is, but only by talking to the patient directly, doing a full physical examination, and probably (for something rare and new to me like yellow fever) doing some tests will I be able to decide whether or not he has it, and how I should treat it.

    Your assertions are equivalent to telling me “I think Al Roder has yellow fever.” I know what yellow fever is, but I won’t know if Al Roder has it until I have a chance to look at the facts. But you haven’t presented the facts. You give hints, similar to “I think he’s been to Africa,” “I think he feels warm,” and “I think his color seems a little off.” But only if you bring in the patient for examination – and probably some blood tests, etc. will I be able to tell whether or not he has Yellow Fever.

    So present your evidence already.

    Additionally, you conflate the assertion that Al Roder has made some poor decisions (I agree with this in some cases), with an assertion to that he has acted criminally. We have enough public information to have an inteligent discussion on the former topic, but we have next to nothing concrete regarding the latter.

    Again, why not just present your articles, letters, and witnesses? When you do, if your case is good, I might even agree with you. Until then, I wait.

  38. Anne: I agree with you that a focus on progress is a great deal healthier than focusing on punishment. I don’t know enough to judge who is focused on what. And sometimes, people may want to vent, to be heard, and then they’re through with it.

    David: I find the substance of this article remarkable:


    If Roder quit, why does he get severance pay? “While his contract with Northfield doesn’t allow severance if he quits, Roder says he has asked for the money because he felt his work situation had become untenable.” (http://www.northfieldnews.com/news.php?viewStory=45395)

    If Roder would promise not to sue the city, for causes of action that are mysterious to me, in exchange for a sincere apology from the mayor, why was the apology insincere? Or if it was sincere, why would Roder say it’s not?

    As Patrick pointed out, if Roder is the subject of investigation, why was Lansing’s property searched by authorities?

    I don’t pretend to know what actually happened, but I do find these pieces and others to be remarkable.

  39. Jerold: My understanding is that Roder never asked for severance pay; the City offered severance to him. All Roder wanted was an apology. There is still time to give him one. We could probably save ourselves at least $10,000, and more like $25,000.

  40. David: If you are right and the news is wrong about who made the severance offer, then someone has an unwieldy ego to withhold a sincere apology in order to save the city $10,000 or more.

  41. Jerold,
    You might be on to something there – although apologizing is probably one of the harder things we’re asked to do in life.

    An example of a typical modern apology would be something on the line of my post #49, where I wrote, “Ross, I am sorry you took offense…”. That’s not an apology. I actually meant to write a sincere apology, but I failed.

    What I should’ve said was:
    “I am sorry that I wrote unclearly, in a way that my criticism might seem to be directed towards you. That had not occured to me when I wrote it, and was not my intent.”

    Not easy to get right, even when intended.

    Throw in a belief in one’s own innocence, criminal accusations, investigations, and great big power struggles, and I completely understand why Mr. Lansing did not apologize. Even if I wish he had.

  42. If at first you don’t succeed, right?

    Even you made a second opportunity to apologize. Under the circumstances, I think that makes you better qualified as a mayor.

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