City Investigation: Mayor pushing liquor store as conflict of interest?

Firefox Screenshot 032The Northfield News broke this story yesterday:

Mayor Lee Lansing, in memos to two city administrators, not only pushed for a new municipal liquor store, but advocated for his family's business and their interests.

The memos were included in a packet distributed to city councilors and talked about at a Monday council meeting.

It had been noted that Lansing left Monday's City Council meeting earlywas there the whole time and someone else left, but I got confused with all the pronouns..


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"This can't be happening man!"

The article weaves a sad and distressing tale of power and money that has tainted the governmental process yet again in that city of “Cows, Contentment, Colleges, Cheese (heroin) and Corruption (x2)”. The City administrator is being hounded by the police chief, using the good offices of Goodhue county since Rice county is too close to the problem. The Mayor is embroiled in a controversy that can only be labeled “Shakesperian” as he appears to have been working behind the scenes to move the city in a direction that would benefit his family fortunes, possibly at the expense of the city and of other land owners. The police chief is in hiding, the city council is in denial and the citizens are about to go medieval on the whole bunch.

(Read the rest)

Should the mayor resign

If ever there was a case where I think that someone should step down for the good of the city, this is it.

It's too bad - Lee helped my family immeasurably when we moved here ten years ago.

Leaving the meeting early

I believe Victor Summa reported on LocallyGrown that it was LocallyGrown's Griff Wigley who left the Monday City Council meeting early.

Not Mayor Lansing.

It's no wonder, however, the council did not allow Lansing to read his three-page statement at the meeting on July 23, 2007.

Yuck. None of this looks good.

Does anyone know if there are serious legal issues involved (meaning, has this gone afoul of the law), or if this is more of a conflict of interest issue?

If there are legal matters, what are they?

Also, is this part of the Smith-Roder controversy?

- Brendon Etter

A Play A Day & Lysteria

Fixed it.

I believe Victor Summa reported on LocallyGrown that it was LocallyGrown's Griff Wigley who left the Monday City Council meeting early.

Not Mayor Lansing.

Right you are. I fixed it.

Ptitchforks & torches - the villagers are unhappy

The owner of 600 Division Street stood to make one hell of a profit - a healthy long-term lease guaranteed by the full faith and credit of Northfield taxpayers.

And the mayor does seem to harbor an obsession for liquor store real estate, particularly when it comes to 600 Division Street. However, none of this seems to rise to the level of criminal conduct - only because the issue has been exposed to the light of public scrutiny.

Voters will dispense with him at their next opportunity. This is the kind of shenannigans one sees in Florida or New Jersey, but little Northfield?!

Adopting a balanced approach

I think it’s important that we remember how much Lee and his family have done for us through the years. Not just as a business owner who has provided us with great service, but also as a friend, neighbor and community contributor. He has helped to build Northfield like so many others.

The details of the liquor store are still very sketchy. I would hope that we would give Lee the benefit of the doubt while we’re learning the details. It may turn out that this was a really, really bad lapse of generally good judgment and he will have to accept the consequences that come from that. But, through it all, we need to remember that Lee is a good man, has been a good friend to many, and deserves to be treated with the same level of compassion that we would hope others would extend to us if we tripped our way into a similar situation. So let’s put away the torches and pitchforks.

Re: Adopting A Balanced Approach

I agree, Beth. We need to reserve judgment; it's never enjoyable to watch good people seem to make bad choices. I'm glad the trouble doesn't appear to be of a "legal" nature (meaning violation of written law), but it's surprising that the lapses of judgment seem to have recurred over so many months.

It seems there are much bigger issues for Northfield than a new liquor store in the first place; so it's disappointing that this seems to have taken so much administrative time and emotion.

- Brendon Etter

A Play A Day & Lysteria

I agree with Beth and

I agree with Beth and Brenden! Let us wait until all the information is in and not jump into the muddy waters of accusation so quickly.