Since I have been writing this blog, I have been a strong advocate for open government, transparency and 1st Amendment free speech rights. I think you all know that. We may not always agree on what people have to say, but we have that right.
Theresa defended that Tuesday afternoon.
But to call Theresa a ‘Lone Wolf’ is the furthest thing from the truth. She has formed coalitions in every political activity she has been involved with. She has embraced the community and worked for them. It is no secret why Theresa is sitting on the council, because of her community involvement and sticking up for the little guy. I would call her ‘Mother Wolf’ before I would ever call her ‘Lone Wolf’.
Gawd, Rex, what the heck is wrong with you? Seriously Dude?!
Ironically, while everyone wants to blame her for the ‘drama’ if Rolfing would have just let her speak and not gaveled her (there was NOTHING confidential in what she was saying) there would have been no drama. And the chickensh*t council just sat there and let it happen. Wow!
As a citizen we have a right to transparency, the Argus Leader is in the middle of a lawsuit right now with the city over it. We talk often about transparency in our government, we get no where.
I know about the charges lobbed at Theresa (a butt hurt Chief of Police and moving chairs around Carnegie because of the 911 aniversary), they are petty, in fact not even worthy of blogging about, or an ethics charge, just prattle from perfect hair Mike.
This of course is NOT over, chickensh*ts and idiots get emboldened when they are embarrassed. They have there resources, and we have ours. You want a fight on transparency? You are going to get it. You are going to lose, big time.
First off, props to Cameraman Bruce and our credit on the video. Our cameras are always rolling.
If I were to say I haven’t known about what has been going on for awhile, I would be lying. In fact, I’ve known about this kind of (council) intimidation well before Huether even took office. When councilor Kevin Kavanaugh threatened to press charges against then mayor Munson who was running for a second term over middle of the night contract deal on Phillips to the Falls, he was brow beat by a group of ‘concerned citizens’ to back off. He did.
Since then, when councilors don’t play ‘reindeer games’ they get bullied and beat up. Theresa is just the latest casualty, but she wants this kind of intimidation to end;
“I have been bullied, intimidated and threatened. … I have been told not to talk to the media. I have been told not to advocate for the citizens,” she said while reading from a prepared statement.
As I have stated, elected officials are legally guaranteed by the US Constitution to 1st Amendment rights. In other words as long as they are not telling the public or the media about confidential contracts or voting on items they speak about (conflicts of interest), they are free to speak about the issues. When they use their free speech to benefit themselves or to sway votes or meetings, then they are in violation (Federal courts have ruled on this).
As far as I can tell, Stehly has not done any of those things. She has spoken honestly to the public and the media about issues facing our community. She has NOT used her speech to benefit herself or others. She is for transparency, period.
The key word here is ‘planning’. I warned councilor Rolfing last night in public input that he should be cautious about moving forward on changes because he would have a big fight on his hands.
He supposedly cooked up his proposal in the top secret operations committee meeting in the basement of Carnegie on Tuesday. I am unclear what is all in the proposal, but I heard it involves ‘comment cards’.
The plan is to have each commenter sign in with a comment card and write down the topic they choose to speak about. Then the mayor or Rolfing would sort through the cards and pick the commenters they wish to speak by calling them forward.
Dumb, dumb, dumb.
While I am not opposed to signing a sheet to say I will comment (it’s good for the clerk to have the correct spelling of the commenter’s name for the minutes and the record) I am not in favor of being called up like I am in 3rd grade speech class.
Picking and choosing the commenters is a blatant disregard for the spirit of free speech and the 1st Amendment. Elected officials are in place to serve us, not the other way around. I often say if they have a problem with that arrangement, do us all a favor and resign.
As I have reminded the mayor and council in the past, if public input is disruptive or offensive, the commenter can be gaveled at that time and asked to stop or even leave. The chair has that power and I agree with that procedure. Some people do get out of control and can be frivolous.
But picking and choosing who can comment and about what is favoritism and goes against transparency and open government as a whole. Something the mayor absolutely hates with a passion.
I know that some other folks in the media are aware of the proposal and won’t stand for it either.
Like I told Rolfing last night, I welcome the debate about changing public input, bring it on, because you are going to lose, and lose big time, and in the process you are going to look very foolish, if you don’t already.
City attorneys plan to retract and revise a proposal to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of classes protected by the city’s anti-discrimination rules.
The City Attorney’s Office unveiled a proposal earlier this year that would put in writing that private employers, landlords and business owners can’t discriminate against someone for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Councilor Greg Neitzert this week called the proposal “an outrageous infringement on religious freedom” and wanted to know how it would affect private businesses’ bathroom policies. The proposal’s authors now say they want more time to tighten the language.
While Greg may have a point, I see all kinds of other issues with this besides bathrooms and churches. The rumor circling in the halls of city hall is that the city could be eligible for more HUD money if they change the ordinance. Are the consequences of hundreds of lawsuits worth it? And what kind of money are we talking about? As I said before, as the city’s public policy it is a good idea, forcing it onto private employers (especially landlords) could be problematic and may even be a violation of individual constitutional rights. You can’t change your race or gender (very easily anyway) and those are examples of a protected class, it’s easy to tell if they are being discriminated against. Transgender may be more difficult to police and control and as someone said to me the other day, “Kind of looks like a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Councilors expect to revisit the issue sooner rather than later, and some are more eager than others. Councilor Michelle Erpenbach said she hopes to see it reintroduced in quick fashion.
“I can’t figure out what you’re going to do to tighten the language because we have to use the words ‘sexual orientation and gender identity,’” she said. “We need it to pass in the most comfortable way possible. But it’s something we absolutely need to pass.”
Comfortable way? There is no comfortable way. I am more in favor of educating the public about the issue before passing more regulations on private industry. When people don’t understand something, their knee jerk reaction is think it is bad, and when you start regulating private citizens to do something they appear as bad, you have not done a very good job of educating them. That’s why it took several years for gay marriage to pass, people first needed to understand it.
I think if the city thinks this is an important thing to pass besides getting more money from the FEDs for housing, then it should go to a public vote. Asking 8-9 individuals to pass such sweeping legislation is unfair.
I also think this is a Red Herring to separate out the conservative councilors, and make them look anti-equality, which couldn’t be further from the truth. If I was on the council, I would excuse myself and refuse to vote on it based on the fact I may be bias because I have gay friends.
Rex just doesn’t seem to get it, even when it is explained to him in simple terms. Right before the joint Minnehaha County/Sioux Falls City Council meeting, Rex and Commissioner Chair Cindy Heiberger were having a short conversation about public input before the meeting (they were unaware their microphones were hot).
For the most part, well over 50% of public input deals with property and individual rights which could effect them financially and their livelihoods.
Some one really needs to sit councilor Rolfing down and explain to him that in a democracy we are all ruled equally, with no special classes. If developers, pipeline builders and railroads are allowed to talk as long as they want about their projects, Joe Smith should be allowed to talk just as long about his garage expansion. Equality is one thing that makes our country great.
I’m sure they have several things they will be looking at right away.
In fact, in their first meeting, they will elect chair and vice-chair (not sure how that will go, but most likely it will be Rolfing and Kiley).
There will also be appointments for the different committees, and I am sure there will be some interesting horse trading going on for those seats.
There is also the debate over the administration building and if the bond schedule can be overturned with a veto proof council.
Also, as I discussed about a month ago, there will probably be a discussion about changing public input. After watching the Mayor’s rant about it last Tuesday, I can almost guarantee, someone from either the administration or on the council is planning something.
Not sure what, but the fish is beginning to smell.
One of the main arguments for these changes, as the mayor brought up last Tuesday, is all the TIME city administrators, directors, councilors, janitors and any other city employee who must show up to these meetings is they are taking to long.
First off. They are all getting paid to be there. As for elected officials, they chose to run and to be there. As for citizens, we don’t always want to be there, but sometimes have to fight for our rights. And not only are we NOT getting paid, sometimes it costs us money to show up.
As for the time constraints, there is NOTHING in city charter limiting the time how long a meeting can go. In other words, if 2 people or 200 people want to testify about a specific item, there really isn’t constraints. Read section (c) below;
If a meeting is taking to long or councilors need a break, a recess of 5 minutes or up to 24 hours can be called (similar to a court case).
As for video cameras at such proceedings, section (e) covers that.
Lastly, public input is NOT ‘broken’. Why fix it? If anything, it needs to be expanded to 1st readings and to the informational meetings.
I will say this in closing, if a councilor(s) or the mayor think they are going to limit public input under my watch, they will see a fight like they have never seen before and any move towards limiting FREE SPEECH may result in a public shaming they have never seen the heights of. I guarantee it. Wanna poke the bear, start messing with my free speech rights. You won’t like what you see and I will bet you most major news organizations will be on board with us.
It doesn’t take a constitutional scholar to realize the ordinance the city is attempting to repeal is a clear violation of 1st amendment rights. Doesn’t matter what city board you may sit on, nobody can hamper your free speech rights which include giving money to a candidate. While ethically questionable in some cases, completely legal.
So why has the city decided to now repeal this unconstitutional ordinance after a recent election (Item #B)? Makes you wonder how many appointed officers violated the ordinance in the past or even in this past election? Hey good for them, they were well within their rights. It’s the timing that smells fishy.