Letter writer submits petition on prosecution of Jim Norman

Published 9:55 am Thursday, June 14, 2012

This one is sure to have the local coffee clubs talking.

After asking numerous questions in the last few months regarding the departure of former City Manager Jim Norman, one Albert Lea woman has taken her efforts a step further.

Kathy Diaz, a prolific writer of letters to the editor, on Monday submitted a petition to the Albert Lea City Council, questioning the past actions of the council and other city officials.

Email newsletter signup

She handed each councilor a copy of the petition. Then without saying much else, she left the meeting.

“I just wanted to prove the point that there are people out there who are talking,” she said.

The petition, called Save Albert Lea, was made online through www.ipetitions.com. It had 34 signatures.

Diaz said she did not have the time to collect more signatures but is confident if she had gone to Northbridge Mall or other places in town, she could have collected many more.

The petition questions why the Waseca County Attorney’s Office did not drop charges against Norman for misusing the city-issued credit card for personal use in 2010, even after the city requested this be done as part of a separation agreement with him.

Norman ultimately was convicted of seven out of eight counts and is now appealing the decision. Part of his sentence restricts him from having fiduciary responsibilities for anyone else, whether during employment or as a volunteer with a club.

The Diaz petition also asks why charges have not been filed against former Albert Lea Finance Director Rhonda Moen, who reportedly admitted during Norman’s trial that she had also used her city credit card for a personal purchase at least once.

“Choosing who to prosecute and who not to should not depend on who you are or who you know,” the petition states. “If you do the crime, you do the time and the City Council and mayor should not be protecting anyone.”

Albert Lea Mayor Vern Rasmussen said Tuesday he had not had much time to look at the petition, but he understands there are concerns.

For this reason and others, the city more than a year ago asked the opinion of the Minnesota attorney general, who said no further action was needed, he said.

He anticipated he or the city manager will address the petition at the next council meeting.

Diaz, who grew up in Albert Lea and moved back about 2 1/2 years ago from Nashville, said she did not know Norman personally, but from what she understood happened, she has been frustrated with how things turned out.

“I just can’t understand why one gets it and one doesn’t,” she said.

She noted she does not expect much to come out of the petition; she just hopes to make a point.

“I want people to realize that if we don’t start asking questions and getting answers, who knows where this could lead?” she said.

The petition can be found at ipetitions.com/petition/save-albert-lea.