Letter filled with false and misleading information.
Where is the leadership integrity?
I haven't wanted to respond to the misinformation and give breath to these rumors. I've wanted to use my time working for you and focusing on the future of Red wing. However, the latest last minute antics by the bloc of candidates have compelled me to write a heartfelt response to the attacks I've been facing over this election cycle. I want you to know, what's most important to me is you. And because I keep my eye on this wonderful little city you and I have chosen to call home, I've been able to walk away from the ugliness of this group. I know what I'm fighting for, and I know I will act with integrity and your best interest at heart. I would never allow my name to be associated with a group that functions on these corrupt tactics. If you can't win on your own merits then you should be in that seat representing the people of Red Wing.
Let's talk about the first claim "the council was recalled" which is just false. It's willful ignorance.
The Council wasn't recalled. The recall failed because it did not meet the standards of the process. There was no malfeasance or nonfeasance (guilt of a crime or guilt of not doing your job) which is in the City Charter and in State Statute.
Let's think about it this way- let's say you volunteer at your church or another organization like Lions or Elks or even an employer. Someone in the group who doesn't even have all the facts doesn't like a decision you made. So, they accuse you of not holding proper meetings in the organization. You know it's fabricated. But, they work using any allegations against you to convince others you're not fit for the organization. They want to hold a vote to determine if you're guilty of holding improper meetings. Not an investigation of any facts to determine if you did or did not do so, a vote to determine guilt.
What should happen, as you can imagine, is that you shouldn't lose your position over just allegations and rumors and people not liking a difficult decision you made, when you had more information than they had about the situation. There should be an investigation first-are you guilty of what they're alleging? If you are guilty, then the organization votes on whether those acts are bad enough to remove you.
That’s basically what happened to the City Council. A group of people didn’t like a difficult decision that was made and so alleged other wrong doings-like holding private meetings. But common sense, the city’s charter, and most importantly the state statute says an elected official can only be recalled for malfeasance or nonfeasance--being guilty of a crime or failing to do your job. If you're guilty of one of those, then the people can petition to hold an election to ask the public if the act is bad enough that you should be removed from your position..
But what has happened is people who aren't happy about a decision tried to remove you from office for other reasons and want to ignore the charter, state statute, and common sense. No city council was recalled - and repeating it over and over doesn't make this lie true. It sows division in our community and shows true integrity and a lack of real leadership qualities. It shows that these individuals will go to any lengths, even lying to the public to push their agenda through.
They could have gone ahead with their lawsuit claiming the city failed to follow the correct process. It's common sense and certainly the City Attorney and the group's attorney knows that if a lawsuit is deemed frivolous that the initiator of the suit may have to pay the expenses to defend it. This just makes sense-if someone takes you to court and you tell the judge the lawsuit doesn't have any grounds and after hearing the information the judge agrees with you, they didn't have any cause to file the suit the plaintiff should pay your expenses. And that’s what happened. But the group changes the narrative again, saying the City threatened their attorney and them with paying for the lawsuit. That's misleading at best. The City's attorned notified the groups attorney that she would make this filing but he could withdraw before hand if he chose.
The city was protecting the taxpayers by trying to recoup any money spent defending against a frivolous lawsuit. The attorney representing the group immediately withdrew. We can guess that he knew there was a real chance the judge would deem it frivolous and he may need to pay. The group could have pursued another attorney; they could have represented themselves. They chose not to. If they had had a real and strong case that the City had not followed the process they would have/could have pursued the case. Instead, they are using inflammatory words like “threatened” us. And phrases like “The recalled city council” who were not actually recalled. Their willful denial and misrepresentation of the truth is not leadership qualities.
Are these the leaders you want who don’t know how to protect the citizens' money? Who mislead you? Who choose a narrative and keeps pounding it, knowing it’s false, willful denial. Demanding that the Council makes decisions in their best interest or attacking you repeatedly with more false or misleading information.
They don’t seem to understand that the Council is charged with making decisions that are in the best interest of the full community. A city under their leadership is not the kind of city I want to live in.
They say we don’t listen, what they’re really saying is we demand you listen to our group, and us only. When in fact, this council has listened to a lot of voices and has followed their commitment to act in the best interest of the people of Red Wing.
My personal agenda as a council member is to support a strong, healthy, safe, community where everyone can thrive. I do not, nor have I had a personal agenda against any one or more people. It’s simply not true.
Insinuating that the chief’s termination was connected to a report conducted a year earlier is yet another red-herring. The report they’re citing was an investigation into a separate matter a year earlier. Of course the city hired an unbiased third party for that investigation to be absolutely confident that the investigation would be unbiased by any internal individual. The report was inconclusive, it could not confirm that the individual was without a doubt responsible for the allegation being investigated. The City moved on. End of story. We can keep making more of it, but there's nothing really more to it.
The City has funds available should unbiased investigations need to be conducted for the fairness of staff and residents who may bring a concern forward. I fully support unbiased investigations into serious matters.
A full year later there was cause for termination, not related to this report. It was a difficult decision, one I never took lightly, but a decision that was in the best interest of the public safety of the people of Red Wing.
The letter claims this council has spent millions of dollars on acquiring real estate projects. More false statements.
To the best of my knowledge, since in office there have been three significant real estate purchases by the city, and one by the Port.
1- purchase of property at the Riverview Skyway landing as part of the long term Upper Harbor redevelopment plan. This purchase was approximately $100,000
2-purchase of the Bauer Built property for around $450,000. This had a few purposes: to support local businesses by providing ample parking in West End during reconstruction and to help attract a developer that would add to the retail, dining, entertainment district of this district, further stimulating the economy.
3-purchase a segment of CP Rail property for $90,000. This project and the funds had been set aside for that purchase for years before I was even on council. This has been a project in the works since 2005. While it is an expensive project, it will not be completed without state or federal funds. But owning the property is the necessary step in applying for those funds.
4-The Port Authority approved the purchase of a small piece of property near the Maltery building for about $100,000. This was to ensure that it would be ready to sell to anyone who would want to develop the Maltery building or that corner into a project.
There may be other minor acquisitions of property over the course of the work of the city as street reconstruction and other projects are completed.
In total these purchases amount to less than one million dollars, certainly not millions! More false information. Who do you want making decisions for you? Honest leaders with integrity or individuals running on false and misleading and inflammatory remarks? I’m willing to stand up and take account for and have an honest discussion of any decision I’ve made.
Again - the letter, this group that the candidates named are affiliated with quote millions of dollars spent. Why didn't they provide a detailed list accounting for the “millions of dollars spent acquiring property.”
The letter cites a decision made in late 2020 to fund an outside consultant to work with the City as we developed an Advisory Team to review policies and practices within the city. It is not unusual for an organization to hire outside consultants to assist with necessary work. It’s a lot less expensive than hiring a full time position, for one. Furthermore, this individual was only paid for the time she and her organization did work for the city. A recommendation to terminate the police chief did not come from the consultant nor the advisory team.
Additionally, the City did hire a consultant company to look at the homeless issue in Red Wing and make recommendations. The City has been working off of those recommendations since then. Homelessness is much more complex than “on any given evening there are 5-6 people need housing on any given night.”
If we are always only treating the symptom (finding overnight shelter for the homeless) and never getting to the root causes we will never be addressing the issue. It is in the best interest of the individuals and also cheaper for the city/taxpayers to work together with other organizations to address causes, not just the symptoms.
As I said above, my personal agenda is to help move Red Wing into a safer, healthier, thriving community for everyone. That means listening to people who may be impacted by our policies and practices. Diving deep into self-reflection as an organization - how are we serving our residents? How can we coordinate our efforts to prevent homelessness-find more affordable housing, keep people in their homes, assist with individuals getting back on their feet?
More false and misleading information citing that “40% [of Covid Cares Act money] went to City Administration needs.”
Here’s a general recap of some of the funds we spent during that period. Given more time, we could do a deeper dive into all these allocations if necessary.
During 202 the Port authorized between $900,000 - $1,000,000 to small businesses to assist them and their employees during 2020.
The City also collaborated with other organizations to purchase and provide for personal protection equipment to help keep businesses, employees, and residents safe.
The letter specifically cites the use of those funds as hazard pay, which was an eligible use of the funds, so I’ll focus on that. Here again, they’re misleading the reader by making false statements that only brush against the truth.
All City employees adjusted their work schedules and personal lives to ensure city services were maintained: garbage, water, streets, parks, library services, public safety, and all the city functions were all maintained during this time.
Union employees received a 4% lump sum for their work during Covid in 2020.
Non-union employees also received hazard pay compensation - the amount they received was adjusted based on the class/type of work they do. Jobs in grades A-B are more hourly employees and often have more interaction with the public or each other, they received a prorated 4% lump sum. Grade C are middle level management and received 3% of their salary in lump sum.
Employees in grades D-F such as department heads and administrators received only 2%.
It was a fiscally responsible decision as well, after just completing the compensation study. Using these funds provided employees wage increases without adding additional percentage increases to their salaries that would continue year over year. Keeping employment stable is also a cost savings to the city, so ensuring we're not under (they leave and we're unstable) or overpaying employees (we must be conscious of use of taxpayer funds) is critical, and this use was smart.
I’m not sure how keeping a stable workforce for the city is “self-serving” or “morally bankrupt?” It seems to me keeping a stable high quality workforce is in the best interest of the community.
Each of the points on the letter is a mischaracterization of the decisions being made by the council. Most of these decisions were approved by all council members, not by just two individuals driving the work of the city.
Do you want leaders who are so self-serving that they will mislead the public for their own agendas? Is that wisdom? Are leaders who lead with constant and relentless personal attacks the kind of leaders you want representing you? Are they moving us in the direction of healing and bringing us together?
I am not running against anyone, I am running for Red Wing - for you! I listen and take to heart everything you tell me. It informs my decision making greatly. I will talk through any decision and what is behind my decision making process with anyone. If you'd like to learn more please reach out. Nortonforredwing@gmail.com or 651-380-5173.
It is time to put away these tactics and come together for the future of Red Wing. Please vote Norton this November.