Why has the city, or more importantly our media been silent about this letter?

I received a copy of this letter a few days ago. I decided not to post it until now, because I wondered if our local media was going to report it. Besides being sent to AL‘s managing editor, Patrick Lalley, I understand it has also been emailed to KELO-TV. Hey, I am not the news media, but I cannot fathom why they would sit on this letter for over 3 weeks and say nothing of it’s existance. You would think a citizen who has successfully sued the city and beat them in circuit and state supreme court threatens to sue you over other constitutional violations, you would jump. Well, I can kind of understand why the city has been silent, because of legal ramafications, but why has our local media?

This letter is why I asked the question of councilman Staggers this morning about violating city ordinance.

What did I say about our local media being handed stories on a silver platter and doing nothing with them? One more example. The other part that bothers me is the AL constantly getting on the soapbox about free speech and open records and transparency, and when a citizen threatens to sue the city over these very things, they zip their lips, nothing to see here, move along. We have already determined our city council consists of cowards and now we see our local media isn’t very far behind them in that assessment.

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44 comments ↓

#1 Lamb Chislic on 02.07.13 at 9:45 pm

Dan CC’d the Argus and a copy of the letter was emailed to KELO-TV. That’s it?!? What about KSFY? KDLT? Knobe? Belfrage?

The 800-pound gorillas (Argus & KELO) have become lazy and complacent. Instead, take a page from MMM’s playbook and call a press conference. They seem to love that crap! You still have time to force this issue and make your case. Give the information to everyone and see who works the hardest to challenge the status quo.

Playing favorites, as you did in this here, worked against you. I know this runs counter-intuitive to Journalism 101, but the last thing the Argus and KELO want is to be in MMM’s dog house. He won’t invite them to his next birthday party. You should realize that by now.

So, before you blame the “news media” as a whole for dropping the ball, make sure you give them all a chance to get in the game.

#2 rufusx on 02.07.13 at 10:23 pm

Well, the main issue here I see is that the public address of the council – or “testimony” if want to call it that – is NOT DEBATE (as per the Robert’s Rules). “Debate” (as referrenced in RRoO) is something that occurs between COUNCIL MEMBERS and AFTER a motion and second. What governs the limits of the presiding officer (in this case the president of the Council) is found on pages 96-97 of RRoO (11th Ed.) – “under control of the presiding officer….. subject to appeal by a member.”

#3 rufusx on 02.07.13 at 10:26 pm

In other words, the limitation of public testimony is under contrtol of the council president – subject to an appeal from another council member. And it should be noted that a member may ASK that testimony not bemlimited – but the presiding officer is under NO OBLIGATION to grant same. Spend the $20 – buy the latest eddition – read it.

#4 l3wis on 02.07.13 at 11:08 pm

Ruf – I get where you are coming from on the 2/3 rule. Trust me, I have been reading. But my bigger contention is on limiting public testimony, and following city ordinance. Pretty clear. 5 minutes per person.

#5 rufusx on 02.08.13 at 12:19 pm

Except – “the group” – asking for more time is not “a person” (they say so themselves). That being the case, discretion as to time limits reverts to the presiding officer.

#6 Testor15 on 02.08.13 at 1:09 pm

ruf and DL, this is why many of us have strayed away from being on these types of panels. ruf shows why it is os hard to get anything done. Erp and SubPrime are playing games of semantics encouraged by RRoO.

We were there as a group of individuals. Split hairs all you want, the rights of legal citizens were encumbered by shallow scared officeholders.

We were not allowed to be part of a discussion or debate, we were restricted to a set of testimony requirements. The councilors brought city employees before the group to present ‘testimony’ but prescripted points not part of the legal discussion presented. To appear before the City Council in any form is not for the benefit fo the citizens but something tolerated by the council.

#7 Craig on 02.08.13 at 1:40 pm

Do you really expect the media to devote time and space to every letter some citizen mails to the city council claiming their rights have been violated?

The reality of the matter is Dan thinks his rights were violated, but that is simply a matter of opinion. I honestly don’t blame the media for not treating this as vital because as rufusx already pointed out… it seems Dan is slightly off base.

Now regarding the time limit issues… nowhere in the ordinance does it state every single citizen who wishes to address the council be granted access. The ordinance Dan cites clearly states “Each person addressing the city council…” and speaks about the time limit imposed. It does not require the city to allow unlimited testimony from each and every citizen who wishes to speak and it merely is referring to those that DO speak.

I know you won’t like this, but the city council has every legal right to limit the number of people giving testimony. There is nothing in the rules that states or even suggests everyone who shows up must be given their time. This is first year law school stuff right here… because if it isn’t stated in the ordinance, you can’t make assumptions based upon what you wish to be fact.

Thus, it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest when something like this is tossed aside and not reported. I don’t think our media needs to be involved in educating each and every citizen who has a complaint against the council.

Should the city council look at their public testimony process and see if it can be improved? You bet. Should they respond to Dan’s letter explaining his misunderstandings? Sure… but something tells me sending Dan a letter is about as useful as shampoo is to Patrick Lalley.

#8 Detroit Lewis on 02.08.13 at 2:15 pm

Okay, I get where you are coming from, and yes, it would be a hard and expensive case to win in court.

BUT, this much I do know;

The council has adopted Robert’s Rules of Order, and Ruf is right, the 2/3rds vote refers to Council Debate, not public testimony. In this case, if a councilor wanted to extend time he would simply ask for that extention and the council would vote on it.

As for the ’5 minute rule’. Councilors have taken a oath to uphold the city charter, within that charter there is an established 5 minute rule for public testimony. YES, the council or mayor have the right to end testimony of anyone, Munson did it quite a bit, if someone was being disruptive or libelous. This WAS not the case with the snowgate people, we simply were stating why we believed there should be an election, city ordinance WOULD apply; 5 minutes for EACH person.

I have often looked at this as a failure by our city attorney and entire council for not allowing more testimony. Erpenbach is NOT the ‘president’ she is the adminstrator of the meeting, that’s it. ANY councilors can ask for more time.

#9 Detroit Lewis on 02.08.13 at 2:19 pm

As for the media involvement, they have failed the public on this issue (not the part about reporting the letter) but defending public testimony. As far as they went was saying we needed ‘special meetings’ I have said in the past that the people that came to that meeting were told by Stehly to keep their testimony brief, to the point and to not be redundant. If I had to guess we may have went about 40 mintues, sticking to that plan. Our media, whether it is print or TV should be DEFENDING free speech rights, not burying them or suggesting MORE rules.

#10 Scott on 02.08.13 at 4:18 pm

This wouldn’t bother me so much if they wouldn’t have previously had that dog and pony show for the Event Center vote, where every person that wanted it was allowed to shower SubPrime with platitudes…culminating in his daughter’s over the top speech.

#11 GregN on 02.08.13 at 5:04 pm

And don’t forget the budget/CIP item on the council agenda a few months back where an endless stream of supporters or swimming and tennis courts were allowed to go up without any end to ask for money.
Oh, and remember at the snow gates meeting how the supporters were admonished this was not about snow gates, this was about an election, so don’t talk about snow gates. Then they close input from the public, and then the councilors proceeded to call up public works to ask them about – snow gates. And they spent quite a bit of time talking about snow gates and how they won’t work etc etc. Then they made their motions and most of the councilors went on long commentaries about – snow gates.

#12 GregN on 02.08.13 at 5:05 pm

Woops, small correction I should have mentioned hockey and tennis primarily at the budget/CIP hearing, but swimming is a part of it as well (for the possible indoor pool).

#13 Detroit Lewis on 02.08.13 at 11:47 pm

Greg, trust me, the hypocrisy is overflowing. But that is not what this is really about, it is about freedom of speech. And just because Erp or Mike may have a problem with Stehly, DaCola or Staggers, should not matter. I have often been of the opinion, if what your opponents are saying is not true, let them blab, then prove them wrong. There seems to be this notion that the ‘public’ may expose something.

#14 rufusx on 02.09.13 at 11:30 am

Freedom of Speech – anyone was a lierty and free to go and speak on the subject anywhere they wanted – and to say anything they wanted about it. The council’s business and their rules – legally adapted – allow them the latitude to not be forced to listen. They have rights as well – you know. The right to speak =/= the right to prevail.

#15 l3wis on 02.09.13 at 12:46 pm

They also have taken an oath to uphold the city charter. How can they legislate on the rest of us to follow the rules they create, then don’t follow them? If they have the right to break rules, so do we.

#16 rufusx on 02.09.13 at 1:32 pm

You CONTEND they have broken a rule. and wnat to use it as justification to break rules? They are subject to the same due process laws that you are always complaining about. Go ahead – start the due process – AFTER it is done – then you will have truth – under the US legal system. Until then – it’s just so much rabble-rousing hooey.

#17 Testor15 on 02.10.13 at 1:01 pm

I strayed from being actively involved in elective politics for much of what has happened in discussions such as this.

Our system sets up rules to allow for discussion and debate. Robert’s Rules are in place to encourage proper open discussion. Technocrats enjoy getting in control of these rules when they no longer can control the debate or its outcome. Instead of remembering why we are having the discussion the technocrats decide to pull out an obscure rule to shutdown the process.

We want a level playing field where each side has a chance to present the facts without emotion or prejudice. This discussion illustrates the justifications used for gerrymandering, vote rigging, voter suppression and every other ill-mannered ambitious politician based plan to control the peonage.

To them, we the 99% are the peonage who need to be controlled by the 1%. Including the ambitious politicians with dreams of being part of the 1%. We also apparently need to be controlled and admonished by the controlling elected and appointed officials of all levels. These once well meaning officials, in a desperate need to have power without substance or debate, now must stop all debate at all levels.

We are are commenting on a community blog DL has been gracious to give us to have an open debate. Some come on here to let us know we are wrong to want an open debate. Very interesting to me…

#18 Detroit Lewis on 02.10.13 at 1:10 pm

. . . very interesting indeed.

#19 rufusx on 02.10.13 at 11:43 pm

Fromthe point of view ofd sonmeone stiull engaged in politics and “the technocracy” I wil relate that I have just spent the past year assuring that an “alternative voice” be heard on a city commission and that process was faclitated by use of rules of order. However, it nmust be noted the “alternative voices” – 99% whatever semantic trick one wants to use to create a picture of an us vs. environment, are equally adept at using those same rules to prevent any meaningful work being doen at all. At some point, the person in charge of assuring the rules are applied and adhered to, needs to be able to bring an end to discussion and cause a decision to be made. Endless open-endedness on any topic will NEVER lead to a resolution.

#20 rufusx on 02.10.13 at 11:46 pm

And finding resolution (via debate) is the POINT of engaging in debate to begin with. The debate is itself NOT the end game/societal goal, despite what one of our national parties’ approaches to governance would have you believe.

#21 rufusx on 02.10.13 at 11:48 pm

A debate without resolution has no value.

#22 rufusx on 02.10.13 at 11:51 pm

Arguing for the sake of argument is dysfunction.

#23 Testor15 on 02.11.13 at 8:59 am

Ruf, stifling discussion is also dysfunction for the sake of order.

#24 Detroit Lewis on 02.11.13 at 9:56 am

Ruf – you are assuming the snowgate group was dysfunctional or arguing. We did neither. Erpenbach decided to limit our testimony a day earlier before even hearing one of us speak. She planned to stifle us before the discussion even started. Like I said, the city ordinance is clear, if you are bringing something to the table, you are allowed 5 minutes. If you are not adding to the discussion, the council can cut you off, that is well within the ‘rules’ but stifling the discussion before it even starts is clearly tyranny.

#25 Karma on 02.11.13 at 2:43 pm

“There seems to be this notion that the ‘public’ may expose something.”

Why do you think MMM is scared to death of Hildebrand running for Mayor? Oh my goodness – if that happens – I am going to open a bottle of wine and watch it all unravel.

#26 Detroit Lewis on 02.11.13 at 3:27 pm

I hope Steve runs, but it is in his ballpark now.

#27 Pathloss on 02.11.13 at 5:18 pm

I’ve learned Huether tells the council bond income goes direct to the events center contractor (fox in charge of the henhouse). Huether ran stating he could manage millions then he turns it over to crooks. I’m not buying it. He’s become a multi-millionaire on a 100K salary. Something’s not right. Time for a council voted independent outside audit.

#28 Pathloss on 02.11.13 at 5:20 pm

Next petition, citizens asking for an audit with attorney general investigating 5 ‘no’ councilors.

#29 rufusx on 02.11.13 at 10:17 pm

DL – my discussion wasn’t about the snowgate group – but about the genrral pronciple of the purpose of debate. The purpose of government is not to simply engage in endless debate – that can be accomplished at the local coffee shop – and usually is. The purpose of government is to DO things that serve the public good.

#30 Detroit Lewis on 02.12.13 at 3:24 pm

“The purpose of government is to DO things that serve the public good.”

Ruf – you are right, something the SF city council is not currently doing, that is the point of the letter.

#31 rufusx on 02.13.13 at 2:13 pm

And a well-organized/prepared citzen’s group can’t make that point in 20 minutes?

#32 Craig on 02.13.13 at 2:27 pm

Dan: “I’m not buying it. He’s become a multi-millionaire on a 100K salary.”

Are you kidding me Dan? Seriously?

Huether was a SVP at First Premier where he was probably drawing a seven figure salary with some form of ownership/stock options (of which the value likely quadrupled during his tenure). You may not like how he made his money, but it is fairly obvious where it came from.

Honestly some of your accusations towards city government are just silly if not entirely vindictive.

#33 Detroit Lewis on 02.13.13 at 2:53 pm

Ruf – Well, I think a petition that gathered over 8000 signatures deserves more then 20 minutes, especially since the council took twice that bashing snowgates and not once bringing up the fairness of an election (The discussion we brought to the table, since that is what the vote was about). So let me get this straight, you think public input should be limited? I thought you were a big free speech person, but it seems your real colors are starting to show.

#34 Detroit Lewis on 02.13.13 at 2:56 pm

Craig, I would agree, and I have challenged Dan on this in person. I am certain Huether made good dough as VP of Marketing for VP. Now is Huether getting any kickback as mayor? Well you can argue that several ways. He does have inside information on development that he certainly can use to make investment decisions. Remember, his wife was an investor in a development that received a TIF.

#35 rufusx on 02.13.13 at 3:07 pm

Someone famous once said the right to speak =/= the right to be taken seriously. There is – as I pointed out – o prohibitoion against anyone speaking freely on the issue. The continuing discussion here is a great example. The right to speak =/= a requirement that ANYONE be your audience. It is not the same as having a right to FORCE anyone – ANYONE – to listen. EVERYONE (including governmental bodies) has the right to pick and choose to what – and whom and for how long they listen.

#36 rufusx on 02.13.13 at 3:08 pm

no prohibition – against fat fingers either.

#37 Detroit Lewis on 02.13.13 at 3:32 pm

You are right. Equal time. It is a matter of fairness. The mayor, some councilors and city directors spent hundreds of hours and over a million taxdollars selling the public on an events center election. And not only did a handful of politicians decide to hold that ‘special’ election they also decided the location. Do you think it is fair that city government decided on that election without a petition? But when over 8000 voters asked for a ‘joint’ election, they were denied the election and the chance to speak about it. Equal time was not granted, and it was unfair to the people who wanted this election. I totally agree with equal time, but I totally disagree with the fairness this mayor and council have shown towards citizens. The people own the government, not the politicians. It is their job to listen to their customers, that is TRUE equality. Because right now, it does not exist.

#38 rufusx on 02.14.13 at 2:28 am

By virtue of their office – as designated by law – they have the authority. That’s how representational government works. (Not a democracy- the US is NOT, never has been anmd was never intended to be a democracy). I a democracy every person has equal power and authority. This here country ain’t it – NEVER HAS BEEN. And, FWIW, my book “fair” doesn’t = equal.

#39 rufusx on 02.14.13 at 2:37 am

I guess having had some experience on the other side of the bench/table/dais – whatever – has been informative. I once had the “priviledge” of listening to someone compalin to a commission for 1 hour and 45 minutes that they did NOT want to be annexed into the city. After the first 4 minutes, she had been informed that hte city was not interested oin annexing her property – but that information didn’t stop them from going on and on and on about it – crying, yelling, calling people names, making accusations of conspiracy etc. etc. for an additional HOUR and 41 minutes. Toward the end they said “Why won’t you LISTEN to me?” I replied that it seemed to me that for the past hour and a half, the entire commission had been doing just that. Which of course only triggered yet another barrage of insults. I will note that since then – that person has only made one more “appeal” to the city’s conscience – trying to get us to deny their ex-brother-in-law (ex police officer as well) a liquor license. TDo you wonder what the reason was? It only took a half-an-hour.

#40 Testor15 on 02.14.13 at 6:31 am

ruf, in the city charter there is the 5 minute per person rule for presentations. The woman you refer to would have been excused at the 5 minute mark. The petitioners in Sioux Falls in December had different messages for the council. Each of the individuals had different messages to be added to the official record.

The petitioners were blindsided by Erp and SubPrime. You have stated there should be rules and there is agreement on this point. Why should there only be rules against the citizens but not the people sitting on the dais in front?

#41 Detroit Lewis on 02.14.13 at 9:18 am

Ruf – Also, as I have said several times in this thread. The council had every right to end our testimony if we were being redundant or disruptive. But they decided to limit it 24 hours before the testimony even started. That is the complaint here.

#42 rufusx on 02.14.13 at 11:03 am

If you think there are no rules for those on the dais…….. And if you all are going to insist on everyone “playing by the rules”, I suggest not publicly advocating breaking the rules about trimming trees, etc. (speaking of hypocrisy).

BTW – as I have pointed out – the presidiing officer DOES have discretion as to speaking limits – per RRO. Didn’t your group notify the council IN ADVANCE there would be a “group” presentation? Maybe you shouldn’t have.

#43 rufusx on 02.14.13 at 11:06 am

Let me suggest this – if you pre-define the city as an adversary – a hostile entity – and therefor approach dealing with them as an adversarial encounter – don’t be surprised if you get exactly what you “expect”. It’s like you all are BEING the “ugly table” when it comes to your attitude toward government. See?

#44 Detroit Lewis on 02.14.13 at 11:41 am

Ruf – Yes, I have been told to play the ‘reindeer’ games when it comes to politics, but that has gotten me nowhere also.

And for the record, Councilman Staggers has tried to get snowgates implemented w/o a petition drive several times with no avail. So yes, they are an adversary when it comes to this issue.

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