Entries Tagged '1st Amendment' ↓

FREE Speech is the foundation of our country

I spoke at the city council meeting Tuesday night about the importance of the 1st Amendment and FREE SPEECH. It truly is the greatest right we have as Americans to dissent our government, remember this while celebrating our Independence today!

Man wins 1st Amendment Supreme Court case for being arrested for his city council public input testimony

The SCOTUS opinion was just released on June 18, 2018. ONLY Thomas dissented in this 8-1 decision.

Just what did I talk about at public input?

There has been some criticism from councilors and from the media about the frequency of certain commenters at public input. As I have noted, I ALWAYS talk about things concerning our city. I don’t talk about state government unless it has to do with city business and I don’t talk about Federal Government. I don’t even talk about my blog or personal things like community art shows. If I was trying to get ‘publicity’ wouldn’t I be talking about different things at public input besides city business, I don’t. I attend public input not only to address my concerns with city government, but the concerns of many citizens in this community who either don’t have the time to attend city council meetings or are to shy to comment. I read the minutes of the 26 meetings I spoke at, these are the topics I covered. I sometimes address several topics during the 5 minute period I am afforded. As you can see EVERY SINGLE TOPIC has to do with city government. No carrying on about personal government subsidies or how no one listens to me. Some say you can contact your city council outside of public input. I do, I also blog about a lot of stuff that I never address at public input. I will say this though, a majority of the council WILL not respond to emails or phone calls. Sometimes city employees/directors won’t either. That is why public input is important, it is a time to address concerns, in public and on the record. This is how you get results.

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UPDATE: Why Public Input was moved to the beginning

UPDATE: It seems the Argus Ed Board agrees, don’t move public input.

These are the original Council Meetings (1st and 2nd readings) when public input was moved. It was sponsored by Councilors Kevin Kavanaugh and Curtis Rust. There was ZERO discussion on 1st and 2nd readings, and ALL 8 councilors voted for it. Kevin basically said, “We are here to do the public’s business. We should hear from them first.”

Funny how a good idea had NO opposition when passed 16 years ago. Just another reason why it needs to be left alone.

Minutes, etc, from meetings: 08192001 Minutes – Item 24 Minutes 09032002 – Item 18 Ord 68-02

FF 57:00 (1st Reading)

FF 2:30:00 (2nd Reading) If you go to end of the meeting, where Public Input used to be, you will see Cathy and Melanie Bliss thank the council for moving it, and Mayor Munson apologizes to them for having to wait in the past.

Councilor Stehly sends out Postcard on Public Input

UPDATE: Mayor TenHaken’s compromises to the City Council on Public Input

UPDATE: Mayor TenHaken will be on Lalley at 4 PM today to talk about compromise.

Paul is offering these compromises to Public Input, and as I understand it they will be on Tuesday’s agenda for amendments;

A compromise will show unity and leadership by you as council and I would encourage you to bring forward an amendment or new ordinance as follows:

  1. Public input stays in the current spot on the agenda.
  2. Provide thirty minutes for general public input unrelated to first and second reading of items.
  3. Three minutes of allotted time per speaker during public input.
  4. The meeting chair has the discretion to allow first time speakers and those who speak infrequently to approach the podium before those who are frequent public input speakers.
  5. Public input will be encouraged on first readings of ordinances. This should not extend the length of meetings as it will likely cut down the time of input on second readings and shift it to first readings, plus public input is often for first reading items.
  6. Cards will be available for the public to provide written comment in case there is not enough time for them to approach the Council or they would prefer to write the council rather than publicly address the group. The meeting chair shall direct these individuals to use the cards as needed and provide their contact information. Contact cards for the Council should also be available for constituents to contact them.
  7. Electronic presentations using the Chamber audio/visual equipment will no longer be allowed. If citizens need a visual for the Council, they may distribute paper copies not exceeding 11×17 inches in size.

Most of it I don’t have an issue with, except #7. But that isn’t the real problem here, the real issue is not having a public conversation about it.

Stehly and Starr on Jon Michael’s Forum about Public Input

You can listen HERE.

As I understand it there may be some amendments to the proposal on Tuesday, ultimately leaving it at the beginning of the meeting with some other restrictions. At this moment that train is still moving, so I would prefer not to elaborate.

Gotta love Stormland-TV’s version of this topic. Thirty-Seven people talked Tuesday night about public input. Out of those people, ONLY 2 supported changing it, and both are former public/government employees. So guess who they interview? You guessed it, the TWO who wanted it moved, oh, and they threw in June Staggers to make it look fair.

Make no mistake, the Media wants this moved to the end so they can make their 10 PM news deadline.

UPDATE: Please come and testify tomorrow night about public input

The Sioux Falls City Council will be addressing moving public input to the end of the meeting. While this is certainly a conversation we should have, it should not be done in the form of a proposed ordinance. There should have been a real public conversation about this. Why? Well I wouldn’t be opposed to some changes, but we never had that conversation.

16 years ago when they made the change to move public input from the end to the beginning of the meeting ALL 8 councilors voted for the change. (We will get video of that meeting in the morning to review – Thank you to City Clerk Tom Greco for expediting that for us). The argument at the time was citizens shouldn’t have to wait through long meetings. What has changed since than? Absolutely nothing.

By moving public input to the end, some have argued other people should have to wait also, like those receiving proclamations and awards. Wouldn’t that be fair?

My suggestion for changes would be moving public input to the same spot as the county does, AFTER consent and alcohol licensing and before regular business. I would also suggest we put public board appointments to the beginning of the meeting also so they don’t have to wait.

We are NOT naive, we know why some councilors are pushing to move it to the end, they don’t want to hear from the public, and when they do hear from us all the important business will be done and the news cameras will be gone saving them from any embarrassment that public input would bring up.

The chair has the power, and nothing will change after July 1st state law change, to address those who are disruptive during public input. They can gavel them and stop their testimony and ask them to sit down or leave. We have security at the meetings for a reason. Mayor TenHaken needs to assert his power and duties and act when people are ‘lacking decorum’.

As I have stated before, the regular old citizens fund this government, our ‘business’ at the council meetings is the MOST IMPORTANT and that’s why we should go first. They saw this 16 years ago, it still works and is not broken, leave it as is with some minor tweaks and let’s move on with more important things like flags and baseball stadiums 🙂

UPDATE: Councilor Selberg LIES in TV interview

First let’s address the hypocrisy of his reasoning;

There have been a few instances recently of vulgar outbursts and profanity. Councilors are reconsidering not how public input is conducted but when.

“We’ve had recently everything from four letter words to f-bombs and everything else,” says Councilor Marshall Selberg.

ONE person called the FORMER mayor names. ONE PERSON. Besides the fact that the former mayor is no longer chairing the meetings, and when he did he would taunt and laugh at commenters, changing the rules for EVERYBODY because ONE person had an outburst is a horrible way to govern. Ironically, the former mayor’s first secretary quit because she was offended by HIS use of ‘F-Bombs’ so frequently.

Selberg goes on to flat out LIE about what goes on in the meetings;

Public input is one of the first items at every meeting. Selberg says it can take up to nearly two hours at times creating a long wait for those who are at the meeting to be recognized or receive an award.

Public input has NEVER lasted two hours and awards and proclamations happen FIRST THING after the pledge of allegiance. They can leave immediately after that and DON’T have to stay for public input unless they choose to. Most leave and never hear public input. But it gets even richer;

He adds that children are sometimes present, and public outbursts take away from the “family friendly” environment.

Ironically most of the time the children that are present are brought there by parent council members who know EXACTLY what goes on in these meetings. They know first hand how controversial they can become. And secondly, as for Boy Scout troops, they are there to learn about government and how sausage is made, I think it is an incredible civic learning experience for them to hear people exercise their 1st Amendment rights. There is NO place in the charter that requires a council meeting to be rated ‘PG’ and that statement in itself is so ridiculous, maybe Selberg should resign based solely on his ignorance of the democratic process. A lot of blood, sweat and tears have been shed to make our country the greatest in the world, it wasn’t accomplished by reading poems about puppy dogs.

Contact you City Council about concerns;

MAYOR PAUL TENHAKEN

tel:605-367-8800

JANET BREKKE (AL)

Phone: 367-8808

Email: jbrekke@siouxfalls.org

CHRISTINE M. ERICKSON (AL) | CHAIR

Phone: 367-8818

Email: cerickson@siouxfalls.org

RICK KILEY (SE)

Phone: 367-8102

Email: rkiley@siouxfalls.org

GREG NEITZERT (NW)

Phone: 367-8109

Email: gneitzert@siouxfalls.org

MARSHALL SELBERG (SW) |VICE CHAIR

Phone: 367-8819

Email: mselberg@siouxfalls.org

CURT SOEHL (CE)

Phone: 367-8110

Email: csoehl@siouxfalls.org

PAT STARR (NE)

Phone: 367-8809

Email: pstarr@siouxfalls.org

THERESA STEHLY (AL)

Phone: 367-8806

Email: tstehly@siouxfalls.org

Sioux Falls City Councilor Selberg moving forward with ‘Huether/Rolfing’ memorial ordinance

That’s what I am calling the proposed ordinance Tuesday Night (Item#9 – 1st Reading) to change the order of the meeting agenda so public input is at the end of the meeting. The irony of it is that Public Input became a ruckus because of the lack of respect and decorum Huether and Rolfing showed to the commenters. Often laughing at, heckling, or making cry baby speeches at the people who would come up and speak truth to power. They were incredibly disrespectful and arrogant, than they wondered why someone would call them an SOB? Go figure.

They are trying to change the rules because of ONE person’s actions. But in reality, that is just an excuse they are using. The city has been embarrassed time and time again because of the input from citizens at the council meetings;

• Walmart on 85th

• Copper Lounge Collapse

• Oak View neighborhood

• Events Center Siding

• Administration building

• Downtown noise ordinance

• Poorly negotiated RR redevelopment deal

. . . and the list goes on.

This isn’t about one person’s potty mouth or a disenfranchised veteran, this is about stopping public commenters from pointing out important issues in our city. Some of the best solutions to problems and awareness comes from the people who come and bring public input. That is why the former mayor and certain councilors hated it so much.

I asked Councilor Neitzert in a text today how he would vote on the first reading (he seems to be the deciding vote) he gave me a line about coming up with a ‘pros and cons’ list. I told him it would be hypocritical of him to support this, especially since he used public input many times as a citizen and ran on transparency in government. Pushing citizens to the back of the line is certainly NOT a PRO to open and transparent government. I’m just hoping Greg sees the light by the time Tuesday rolls around. Besides, transparency was the #1 issue in this last election. Moving public input to the end of the meeting wreaks of closed government.

Either way, I will remind the ENTIRE council once again why this would be a very BAD idea to change.

• It has worked well for 16 years. I remember when Munson was mayor there were several nights when public input got a little heated. Dave wasn’t shy, he dropped the gavel and told you to sit down. That is what a GOOD leader/chair does, they take control of the meeting and situation. You don’t change the rules for the majority because a tiny minority has a potty mouth. TenHaken needs to be a leader and instead of supporting this (I hear he does) he needs to take control of the meetings. Maybe before Tuesday he can get some tips from Munson on that.

• The family friendly argument is a joke. I didn’t know a government meeting was like an episode of the Brady Bunch. Besides, let’s talk family friendly. Was it family friendly to approve going into partnership with a developer who’s contractor caused the death of a worker? Is that what you mean by family friendly? I am way more offended by that than if a person says SOB at a meeting.

• What the heck has Councilor Marshall Selberg done in 2 years? Besides voting on developments that benefit his employer without recusing himself (conflict of interest) he has contributed NO legislation. So his first order of business is to push through anti-dissent legislation? Wow! He really has NO CLUE about public service.

• As I mentioned above, half the problem with public input solved itself when Mike and Rex left.

• I have also argued that this will actually make the meetings longer, because people will show up for public input and start to comment on all the agenda items. If you have 4-5 people from the public speaking for 4-5 minutes on every agenda item, the meetings could get very long. And once you get to public input, they could let you have it again about the decisions that were made that night. Do you really want to end your meetings that way?

Finally I will say what I have said to the council a thousand times already – the citizens own this government, not the banksters and developers and mega-plex hospitals. The public should have the first opportunity to speak at meetings and the rest of them, who are essentially benefitting from the city either financially or otherwise can wait. Besides, like standing in a long line at the courthouse to get your license plates, waiting until the end of the meeting for public input is another form of taxation. Everyone else in the room (councilors, mayor, directors, city employees, bar owners, developers, etc) are getting paid to be there, we are not, but we are funding the operation that’s why we get to go first.

Public input is NOT broken, it just needs to be handled better by the chair, someone who is willing to gavel and put people in their place when they use potty mouth or ramble about what happened to them in 1973.

Leave it as is!

CONTACT the council and mayor’s office and tell them how you feel.

I know that Selberg, Kiley and TenHaken support this. I think that Erickson and Soehl MAY support this. Brekke, Starr and Stehly DO NOT. So far Neitzert is undecided.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Council Vice-Chair Selberg proposing ordinance to move public input to end of meeting

UPDATE: Apparently Selberg is proposing this because the meetings are supposed to be family friendly;

“They’re getting a show that’s not very family friendly sometimes,” he said.

Makes you wonder how ‘family friendly’ the Continental Congress was? What a putz.

So the first action/legislation of new Vice-Chair Selberg is to tell the public their input doesn’t matter. I knew it wasn’t a good idea to elect him vice-chair. He is proposing the first reading on June 12th to move public input to the back of the meeting, Councilor Rick Kiley is expected to support the measure to get it on the agenda.

As I have mentioned in the past, this could seriously backfire on them if they pass this. You could get citizens sitting through the meetings and commenting on every single item. Than at the end of the meeting chewing out the council for some of the crappy decisions they made throughout the night. If you think the meetings are long now, just wait.

But what makes this even more egregious is that there hasn’t been a public discussion about this. They just had a working session about public input and NO one brought this up, in fact Councilor Neitzert specifically said he did not want to talk about it – obviously he knew about the proposal. The rumor is that Mayor TenHaken is pushing this behind the scenes and getting Lloyd Companies Realtor Selberg to do his dirty work.

I also believe the developers are behind it. I think after Lloyd Companies got their asses handed to them over the failed apartment land deal on 6th street they saw the power of public input and how it can squash their devious plans.

Councilor Theresa Stehly said this to me about the action, “It’s an assault on citizens free speech rights. A direct action to suffocate and annihilate the citizens voice at council meetings.”