Wendy McDonnel, petition circulator, will be on Viewpoint University today (Good Friday) Around 5:30(?).
The Sioux Falls School Board has voted on the school calendar for the next three years. Some folks are not happy with the results and are circulating petitions on the subject. Wendy McDonnel will tell us why they don’t like the calendar and what they want to put in its place.
Viewpoint University from 4-7 today on this website and 1140 KSOO.
I will start by saying that there are many GOOD things in the new vehicles for hire ordinance that was passed on Tuesday (Item#39):
• Background checks (I actually think there should be drug tests after seeing a cabbie tug on a number last summer while sitting in a parking lot downtown).
• Sealing meters & vehicle inspections (this is great for public safety and consumer protection)
• Taking the shortest route and posting the rates
• Proper permits and licensing
YES! These things needed to be done. Now to the bad parts of the ordinance;
• Eliminating the fuel surcharge (this makes cab company owners suck up the loss when gas prices fluctuate).
• Fare limitations and regulation (while many of the regulations I mentioned above are good, they are going to cost cab companies money and profit loss. Since they are listing the rates, they should be able to charge what they want, with minimal limitations. Not only will it help them recover the regulation losses, it will create healthy competition, which helps lower rates).
• Permanent signage (this is silly on many levels. Some cab companies use their vehicles for personal use, why should they have to do this? I think magnetic signs when they are in service is fine).
Staggers said it best, service will only get worse and our options will be limited. It amazes me that while we are arguing about better public transit in this city we would regulate cab companies out of business.
I think this ordinance will need a major overhaul in a couple of years because taxi service will become less convenient and frequent. While it will be cheaper to ride in a cab, you may have trouble getting one, and your wait times will go up. I also see a possibility of a taxi ‘black market’ being created. The internet is a strange beast, and I see people looking into running non-permitted taxi services during the peak times on the weekend advertising on the internet.
Time will tell if the new changes will work. My guess is they will not.
Yes, I am back sooner then I wanted to be, BUT there has been a lot going on. I still plan to update the site in the near future, but as you will see, the comment section is back up and working.
There have been some rumors swirling around on other blogs and even on Craigslist that I took a break because I was trying to hide and disappointed in the election results. Couldn’t be further from the truth. I have been planning this break since October, and quite frankly I was tired. No conspiracies. In fact I just bought a brand new sports car, and have many trips/vacations planned.
I was actually elated that Snowgates had such a clear victory. As I have said all along, it is just taking a public service that already exists and makes it better. I hope to see tree-trimming in the boulevard the next petition drive.
As for the election results, I made predictions the day before the election, I only got one race wrong (Schwan/Kiley) I nailed all the other races, even with percentages (I was off by about 20 points on the Rolfing race) but I nailed the voter turnout percentage. I had to keep my election predictions on the low down since I was involved with many of the races. Like I said, no big surprises, and no crying by me.
As for how the run up to the election and how the election was run, it was a complete disaster. Let’s start from the beginning,
The mayor’s proposed advocational meetings and videos and pool drawings which were a clear violation of state law.
Wrong ballots being sent out for absentee, handed out at precincts. How many people voted for the wrong district candidate? We may never know?
The 17 inch ballot that kept jamming in the tabulation machines was unneeded (City attorney Fiddle Faddle admitted during the Spellerberg hearing that they didn’t have to have that much text on the ballot) in other words, they could have used 14 inch ballots.
Vote centers are nothing more than a poll tax, they are complicated, and surpress the vote. We had only a 34% voter turnout, can you imagine if it would have been 50% or 75%? We would have had a line a half-mile long at the centers. They don’t work, they discourage voting and wrong ballots are being distributed to voters. Go back to regular precincts. Money should NEVER be an issue when voting. If we have $20 million in surplus for an Indoor pool, we have an extra $60K for an election.
When councilor Dean Karsky congratulated City Clerk Hogstad on the wonderful job she did on the election during this week’s informational meeting, I just about puked. She should be terminated and should even be brought up on charges. Her management of the election was a complete FAILURE!
Let’s just say, her termination may be on the horizon. There are some avenues to that road in the hopper. Stay tuned.
Like I said above, I kind of figured the outdoor pool would lose. You can thank the mis-information campaign by the mayor’s office for that. As for the mayor’s proposal to ramrod indoor pool funding before new councilors are sworn in, I ask “Why the rush?” I don’t think it is fair to new councilor’s Kiley & Erickson to allow Sue & Jim to vote on a $20 million dollar funding package at their last council meeting. This is an attempt for the mayor to get it done at Spellerberg before new councilors can object to it. I actually like the funding proposal and naming rights idea (even though I got a chuckle out of the mayor complaining about childhood obesity during his presentation, then the finance director talking about selling a soft drink naming rights sponsorshipThat all being said, Spellerberg is still the WRONG location. If we are going to sell naming rights to help subsidize the facility, here’s my idea, Slap Sanford on the side of it and build it at the Sports Complex. Hopefully the council can get the funding deferred until Erickson and Kiley are sworn in and have a real discussion about an indoor pool and it’s location. There is no doubt the funding idea is a good one and most people support an Indoor pool, but the council should take several months discussing a location. Ground can’t be broken until the Spring of 2015, there is plenty of time.
THE SCHWAN/KILEY RACE
This was a big surprise to me, and not just because I know Bonita. Some people felt that Bonita lost due to the community’s support of Walmart and Shape Places. I did take that into consideration, but as I mentioned above, there were issues with wrong ballots being handed out, and while I do not contest the results of the mayor race and measures, the district races concern me, especially when you see numbers like this (Central District);
Under Votes: 933
How is that almost 17% of voters in the Central District voted for neither candidate? While in the mayor’s race there was only 397 under votes? This doesn’t add up in the least bit. I’m hoping that there will be an investigation into the district races.
Best quote I heard the night of the election when I was discussing the passing of WM with a friend, he said, “This is what happens when you let bedazzled-jeans housewives from the southside vote.” I never questioned they would win the election. They spent probably a half-million dollars (and to imagine, only 12 short years ago Munson was elected mayor by spending about $12K.) Also, people love cheap crap, and they love Walmart. This had nothing to do with property rights, as I have pointed out several times, WM doesn’t even own the property. Which brings us to an interesting issue with the proposed store. According to the city’s planning department, the only thing Walmart has left to do is purchase a building permit. Hmmm, wonder if the city will allow this since there is a pending appeal with the SD Supreme Court on the annexation. So what happens if Walmart buys the land and starts building and the SC says, “Improper annexation.” This could get even messier.
NOT MY MAN MIKE
I knew that Jamison would have an upward battle against Mike, and history shows, a mayoral incumbent is hard to beat. But will Mike take this election as a mandate and learn from the people who didn’t vote for him, like the voter that called him, “Sarcastic and immature.” In an Argus election story? Will he stop investing in development? Will he become more transparent? Will he legislate more with the council? Well if the pool funding presentation is any insight into the next four years, it looks like he is going to go it alone, even more. I suggest the new council’s first priority is to draft legislation that requires the Mayor to share all pertinent information with them when it comes to business and land development, budgeting and city charter and ordinances. And make it a ‘REAL’ offense if he violates the rule, like a $10,000 personal fine or a month-long unpaid suspension. I think Mayor Mike has learned only one thing from the first four years, when you are a bully, there isn’t anything you can’t accomplish.
UPDATE: While Christine may be involved with the petition drive, it is Wendy McDonnel who is heading up the drive, NOT Christine.
Soon to be newly sworn in Christine Erickson, will be starting a petition drive (referendum) to change the school start date in the SF school district to after Labor day. I guess she addressed the School Board about it in the last meeting, and they rejected her request.
It will be interesting to watch a city councilor chair a petition drive.
“You heard witness after witness today explain to you that they simply missed it. They missed December 15th versus December 31st, 2015. And we apologize as a city. We missed it too,” said Pfeifle.
An error was made. But, the Sioux Falls election will go on without new ballots.
According to the city’s attorney it would have cost Sioux Falls tax payers $60,000 to move the date of the election.
From Bruce Danielson, Citizens for Integrity Chair;
When asked by everyone I answer the question “How do you feel about the decision?” My answer is “Fantastic!” Imagine the people’s possibilities as a result this ruling. Just from asking simple point of law, we learned a great deal about how our current city administration is governing through loopholes. We had to learn in court how little they respect the citizens and learned how it actually operates.
Wow, what a day! It was really a victory. Now you wonder how we find a victory in a judge’s decision you did not want. We got our day in court to solve a problem. We all should find pride in the courage of Liz and Charlie. They were willing to stand up to a system designed to harm them and they still stood there. Thank them when you see them, they deserve a great deal of gratitude. Charlie and Liz lived their civics lessons.
No matter what side wins Tuesday, the city cannot come back and claim an error on the ballot will “null and void” the results. Think about it, if Wednesday the city did not like the results it could have asked for a ruling to kill the results; all because of a ‘typo’. One thing we have learned about this mayor and city government is the use of loopholes. We have begun a challenge process to ballot errors in South Dakota.
Our experience this week has found several steps to watch for and then to consider when citizens place an issue on the ballot.
Who would have thought we the people, would have experienced the following lessons? We thought we hired civil servants to do accurate, unbiased election work for us. Now more than ever, a watcher must watch the watcher.
Major changes to both the leaders we elect and to the process we use are necessary. Our goals will not be to tighten the citizen’s process but to clean-up the government’s participation.
What the citizens wanted was simple, a clean proper ballot. In lieu of postponement, simple legal remedies were asked for including a simple writ from the court ordering a proper certification of the results. How did we get to a courtroom today?
Consider this set of circumstances; these could happen to a citizen effort close to you:
You and your neighbors band together to solve a problem
Your group tries to work with a government body, let’s say a city council and mayor
This government body pans at your group’s problem and continues forward without your concerns
Their civics lessons said the people have a right to petition their government
One of the petition avenues is circulating a demand for a public vote
The petition language is written in precise, clear language, no wiggle room
The clerk in charge of elections stamps the petition form and gives out a bunch of rules
The rules explain a lot of details and requirements petitioners must follow
A petition is circulated by average citizens explaining the need for it
These citizens have done everything correctly during 19 days or six months of hard work to collect thousands of signatures
The petition is accepted for the ballot by a government hostile to the plans of the citizens
Remember up to this point the petitioners have spent a lifetime believing in the idea of responsive government taught in their civics lessons. They accept these roadblocks and continue on with their lives.
The responsible government these citizens are taught to believe are now entrusted with their hard work
This government arranges to postpone the public vote in order to arrange a marketing campaign against citizen’s efforts
The citizens have learned through civics, their measure will be on the ballot as presented. Who would dare mess up the language
Now imagine you are one of these groups who collected the signatures. You find out everything you worked for is changed because a hostile city government has decided as long as the title in not changed, they can gut the meaning and language of the measure before their neighbors can vote on it. How would you feel?
The petitioners try working within the system, asking to review the ballots before printing
The marketing department of government changes the language on one ballot explanation so it’s purpose may no longer be the intention of petitioners
The unhappy government has their attorney staff write biased language like it is a subprime credit card brochure
Then when the ballots are printed, in the fast and loose department, also known as city government, changes a date on another measure
It is discovered all four citizen efforts have been modified in one way or the other
When have you heard of changes to ballot language once submitted? Wasn’t this considered sacred? What kind of people have we allowed to run our government? Why have we put them in charge? Who can help? Is there a lawyer available? Who guards the guardian?
The petitioners work the only way they know, attempt to talk to the government
The people approach the makers and keeper of mistakes on to be told to go away, “Don’t bother us, you have caused us too much work already”
What’s left for us? Look for a lawyer who can talk to the government
Do you know how hard it is to find a lawyer without ties or fear of those in charge of the government?
A brave lawyer is finally found and the options are weighed
The petitioners realize the only remedy is a trip to the courtroom
Now the volunteer group must become very public, something they are uncomfortable with
Papers are filed to ask the court for help
The story is told in court, warts, mistakes and all
The citizens face a good judge and a not happy government
The government pulls out the special rule book citizens are supposed to somehow know
The government prevails with the judge because the average citizens don’t know the special rules
The city decides to rest the blame for their ‘mistake’ on the people who finally caught the mistake
When the people have no access to the proof reading area of the marketing department, they are to blame for the ‘typo’?
When the people find a problem and the doors of government are slammed shut to our efforts, we are at fault?
When the legal establishment is afraid to challenge the system, the people are at fault?
Citizens accept the ruling wiser and thankful for a place to bring the problem to the public
Loopholes, loopholes and more loopholes, this is just like writing a subprime credit card program. How do we screw the system so we can bilk more out of the users of our program?
In this whole post-court period we learned why the city kept said it would cost $60,000 to fix the election issue
Where did this dollar amount come from?
The government had to come up with a backup plan to hold the election. The SOS office in Pierre had a plan ready to make the election succeed on schedule. In the future, we now know this option is available. This is a major victory for petitioners and candidates. There will be less fear in the consequences. Thank you.
There were printing presses in North Carolina ready to reprint the ballots
Chartered planes were on standby to carry the new ballots to Sioux Falls
The polling places would have opened one hour late in morning for a 12 hour voting period
Election would have gone on as planned
In being disappointed by a ruling, we citizens actually may have won. We shook up the system. We let the powers in charge know we were tired of being abused. We are tired of the system being gamed for the specials. We are learning how to take on this government. The city had to bring in the South Dakota Secretary of State to add legitimacy to their case as their only witness.
We are just average Americans. We want to believe in our systems. We are also tired of the power circles running everything. May the city election of 2014 be successful to challengers. Sioux Falls city government needs to have a major flushing to test the new sewer lines to the Sioux.
We plan to be very active in our new efforts going forward. Thank you Joel Arends for helping us find out how bad the system really is and for helping find a way through the mess. It was a great victory for us!
Also we hope Lewis well on his break, we will miss this spot to vent, laugh and poke sticks into the big underbelly of government. Lewis you have made me a better citizen by being here. Thank you…
Join the Argus Leader’s Patrick Lalley and blogger/city hall watcher Scott Ehrisman as they discuss the ballot initiatives and the candidates on the ballot, as well as the latest on the pro-outdoor group that is challenging wording on the ballot. They will also compare endorsements from the Argus Leader editorial board to Ehrisman’s picks.
In the wee hours of Tuesday night, I will be starting a long overdue blog break. South DaCola will remain up, but commenting will be turned off to prepare for changes. Not sure what the new format of DaCola will be, but a (small) team of South DaCola foot soldiers and associates have been weighing our options. I can tell you this, it will no longer be a bitch session but a proactive community activism website and news source (what many don’t realize is the activism my site inspires that doesn’t grace the pages of the interwebs, they are numerous, and often). Not sure how long this transition will take, but I am guessing about a month. Some of the things we will be doing will be definitely ground breaking and ‘different’ to the Sioux Falls market (yes, I will be selling advertising), and different then any traditional media source that currently exists in the Greatest Little City in the country. I am looking forward to it, but I am also looking forward to the break from my tireless obsession with city government.
While I volunteer my activism on this site, it hasn’t always been ‘fun’. I have lost sleep and good friends over it, and the friends that still talk to me, don’t do it as often. It’s been rough emotionally for me, because my personal (recreational) life is almost nonexistent, and if that is going to change, for the better, I need to make this transition. It’s time I get back to things I enjoy, like BBQ’in with my friends, bike riding, firepits and camping, playing yard games, painting and going to live music shows and dancing with the ladies (love dancing with the ladies). Stuff that has almost dwindled to nothing, especially over the past four years.
There has been some positives though, and I am grateful for them every day. I have met some pretty amazing people in our community on this journey, who have made me laugh, made me cry, and pulled the inner fight out of me. Candidates, citizen advocates, city & county employees, elected city and county officials, attorneys, campaign consultants and a whole host of other citizens disenfranchised by city government that have a legitimate beef and axe to grind. They are fantastic, intelligent, thoughtful, fascinating people that are not apathetic or ignorant and have hearts the size of the T Denny Sanford Premier Center. I love the NEW friendships I have attained. Some of these people will probably be my friends for a very, very long time, and I love it (a lot of them like to dance also
This is the most important city election this city has ever had since I moved here in 1991. Ballot issues on quality of life, public services, home owner property rights, etc. I have been diligent and obsessive for a reason, maybe it’s the bleeding heart Liberal in me that just wants to see fairness for EVERYONE from government, especially on a local level. Transparency and anti-censorship are my two biggest issues. I have often had the belief that democracies can only be fair to the citizenry if that citizenry is informed. Ethical and open government is tantamount to a vibrant and strong local government, unfortunately, that has not happened over the last 8-10 years in Sioux Falls (Huether and Erpenbach have been public enemy #1 in this arena). I’ve seen good people chopped down, I’ve watched public employees terminated and publicly disgraced unfairly, I have seen citizens put through the wringer and watched the very people we elect allow it to happen, with no remorse. As the chair to ‘Citizens for Integrity’ said the other night about the ballot language at the city council meeting, “It’s bad!”
We can however make a change on Tuesday, remember to VOTE at any vote center and VOTE for a change and progress;
Ballot Measures: YES on the first Five, No on the last Two!
In closing; I have become familiar with defeat and victory in municipal elections, but the voters are the ultimate deciders, and while I will not be able to personally accept some of their decisions on Tuesday, I can deal with it, move on, and work with the positive results of that night. I hate to sound like a candidate, but I Love Sioux Falls, it took me a long time to get to that point, but I think we have so many things we can improve on. I think we can do that no matter the results Tuesday night, and I hope the NEW DaCola will be a part of that.