Tuesday, November 27, 2007

We are Still "Watching" the County Board

I attended the Board meeting today in Hibbing, as well as Day One of the county Board workshop last week in Eveleth on November 19th. I am pleased to report that the "watchers" seem to still be in regular attendance at these meetings. I am sad to report that the proposed "Code of Conduct" does not appear to be going anywhere anytime soon....maybe the Commissioners will surprise us, perhaps as a "New Year's Resolution"....and actually enact a Code! OK, so I am not holding my breath on that one.

At today's meeting they spent about 40 minutes discussing the re-naming of an island in a a lake in Commissioner Forsman's district. It initially appeared to be a mystery as to why this was so pressing right now, why they had received a letter from the DNR and why the State Legislature had actually passed a bill regarding this issue. Commissioner Nelson, after probably half an hour of discussion, indicated that a family had requested the island be re-named after themselves and their legislator had worked to pass the bill. Apparently folks had not really clued in Forsman on this and there was not anyone there to address the issue from the public, thus the matter was continued until they meet in Ely on December 18th. If you have never been to one of these meetings you really should go!

Last week at the Board Workshop they again tabled the Code of Conduct discussion. Interestingly, Commissioner Fink has requested that under the section regarding "consequences" for violating the Code an option be added for the Board to "do nothing". Seems a bit ironic but so it goes! Take a look at the We are Watching web site for additional information, including copies of the latest versions of the proposed "Code" including separate documents for employees and elected officials.

Friday, November 16, 2007

follow up on the video

This article was in the comments sections to the Nelson video. I thought people might not see it there, so I posted it.
I was shocked by Nelson's behavior. It shows we need that code and we need to keep watching.

From an Ely voter:

From the Ely Timberjay - the editor of that newspaper knows right from wrong!

Code of conduct-Voters have a role to play in stemming board immaturity

“Professional behavior demonstrates to the public and all public servants that it matters how we do business each day. It is a public commitment to doing our work in a professional, respectful and lawful way.”

Those are the two opening sentences of a proposed new code of conduct for St. Louis County. Unfortunately, it appears those words may be setting the bar too high for some on the county board.

It was just a few weeks ago that it seemed the St. Louis County Board was poised to adopt such a code of ethics in the wake of sexual harassment complaints against two sitting commissioners.

But if the comments of some board members at their Oct. 16 meeting to discuss a draft of the conduct code are any indication, don’t hold your breath. Professional and respectful behavior isn’t likely to return to St. Louis County Board meetings any time soon.

Far from serious discussion, some board members made it clear they’re in no hurry to reform themselves. One commissioner suggested they should refer the matter to another meeting— preferably sometime next year. Commissioner Dennis Fink, who recently caused a stir by throwing a book at Commissioner Peg Sweeney during a board meeting, nitpicked over individual words, headings and definitions.

Perhaps definitions wouldn’t be such a bad thing for some on the board. The code after all, uses words like respect, trustworthiness and fairness—and some on the county board act as if they were out sick back in first grade when such concepts were taught to the rest of us.

The code might also encourage maturity, since there’s a disappointing lack of it as well among some on the board. Some commissioners are still in a snit over having to take legal advice from a woman, of all things. It’s time to get over it.

Sadly, it’s not clear how much difference a code of conduct will actually make. While the many conscientious county employees and officials will easily comply with the document, such individuals don’t need a piece of paper to tell them how to show respect for others. But from the bullying and immaturity exhibited regularly by some commissioners at board meetings, it’s going to take more than mere words to get them to change their ways.

It’s going to take voters to finally ask themselves if this is the kind of representation they really want on the county board.

The article can be found at the following website http://timberjay.com/current.php?article=3818

November 12, 2007 7:18 PM

Monday, November 12, 2007


The video quality is poor but you can hear every word. Keith Nelson begins with a whining plea that "these are gooood people" he's referring to himself and Dennis Fink. He then comments, as a member of the public leaves the room, that the person, who is a union leader, doesn't have to 'tell you how to vote on this one so he can leave the room' implying that another commissioner is in the pocket of that union leader. It is a calculated political assault. Another commissioner raises a protest as does the chair of the board but Nelson talks right over them. He ignores their point of order. He uses bad grammar. It's that comment shouldn't have come out, not came out. But he was right.... it shouldn't have.

He goes on to dispute the right and propriety of other members of the board to debate over his proposed resolution.

Chairman Kron is forced to explain the basic function of debate in democracy.

Representative Rukavena must be very embarrassed to have such a strange champion.

He says NOT THE EIGHTH COMMISSIONER.... what on earth does that mean?

Nelson Disrespectful

It never ceases to amaze me that a few of our our elected county commissioners can be so rude and disrespectful to others even when we are watching. Maybe they don't even know that they are being rude. Nelson was disrespectful (to say the least) Sweeney for a good part of the afternoon at the November 6th committee of the whole meeting. He even accused her of looking at a watcher to have him tell her how to vote! and through most of his tirade he turned his back to her. If people aren't able to attend the meetings, it would be good if you could watch some of theses antics on PACT and see for yourself how St. Louis County citizens are represented. It is downright embarrassing.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Any news on the Nov 6th Board Meeting?

Does anyone who went to the meeting on Tuesday have any first-hand information? I understand that Commissioner Nelson demonstrated very disrespectful behavior, especially towards one commissioner.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Forsman again on real sexual harassment

At yesterday's County board meeting (November 6) after a statement by Kevin Skwira-Brown on the Code of Conduct, Commission Forsman commented again on why he believes the sexual harassment commissioners Fink and Rauker were accused off did not count as "real" sexual harassment. In his opinion it did not meet federal guidelines. I was not sure what he meant by that, but I wanted to share with you all that It was dishartening to hear him talk about what happened in this manner. A code of conduct remains to be much needed.