Entries Tagged '1st Amendment' ↓

A teachable moment?

I never expected SOS Shantel Krebs to take down the photo of a Mobridge student sporting a traitor’s shirt or another student sporting gang symbols. But she did, good for her. Even though she said it was ‘out of respect to the faculty and students’. Not even sure what heck that means, but nice try Shantel.

What worries me more about this situation is that schools don’t teach government or civics anymore. Some would say this is a 1st Amendment issue, I would agree. So let’s have that important discussion. What if the shirt was a Swastica or a image of Satan? What if it was of a nude girl? History tells us that we fought a bloody civil war to defeat the traitors of the South, just like we fought another bloody war to defeat facism in WWII. While I will defend anyone’s right to express themselves, there is a fine line when you are doing it on school time funded by taxpayers. I got into this same debate with the SF school district when teachers were advocating for the school start date on the taxpayers time and dime. Or when a private HS painted Christian religious symbols on taxpayer funded snowplows. There is a time and place (even legally) when it is appropriate to express your 1st amendment rights. Disrupting other students when taxpayers are paying to educate these kids is not appropriate, Mobridge faculty should have known better. Placing this photo on a taxpayer funded website for over a year is also not appropriate. Krebs and her staff should have known better, and should apologize out of respect to her fellow taxpayers who fund her salary and office.

Free speech is a wonderful thing, but when you are using my tax dollars to force your opinion on me, I take issue with this. If you want to look or talk or act like a jackass, you have that right under the 1st Amendment, you lose those rights when you use my taxdollars to do so. Maybe if schools would get back to teaching history and civics we wouldn’t have to see this stupidity anymore. It makes you wonder if our elected government officials understand the government they are in charge of running.

Are our regulations in Sioux Falls enabling us to be bad neighbors?

Hey, I see it right here on my blog, several anonymous commenters throwing barbs at each other, because it is protected speech, and better yet, no one knows who is saying it. We seem to be a lot more daring in how we treat people when we can get away with it without being identified. Sad really;

Is there really a need to demand action from the city or call the police every time we’re annoyed at a neighbor’s too-long grass or the landmine their Chihuahua left beside our mailbox?

Approach minor nuisances of daily existence on your street with a Neighborhood Watch philosophy that promotes autonomy and self-reliance. There will always be occasional extremes — like the toxic situation seen recently in Norton Acres — but a great deal can be handled on a neighbor-to-neighbor basis without appealing to authorities. Good fences might make good neighbors, but only if we’re willing to walk through the gate for mediation and understanding when needed.

In other words if we just chose to talk with each other instead of anonymously turning each other in, things would be a lot better off, and frankly cheaper.

The Chamber gives their SLANTED view of city government

Nothing like the Chamber Advocate for a little light reading about how the city of Sioux Falls is running like a well oiled machine.

First they would like us to know OUR rights when it comes to Public Input and the 1st Amendment;

However, if a public body agrees to hold public input sessions, then some limited constitutional rights are extended to the speakers. Still, the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that a public body has the right to put time, manner and place restrictions on speech as long as those restrictions are generally content neutral and serve a governmental purpose. Courts have also noted that the purpose of these meetings, City Council for example, is to conduct city business and not to take public input. That recognized purpose permits the Council to legally restrict public input.

We of course have had this debate here before, and I have come to the realization that the city council CAN restrict public input. I get it. That wasn’t my point. My point is, that IF the city is going to allow Public Input, which they do, then they shouldn’t restrict our 1st Amendment rights during that time period by chastising us for speaking. If you don’t want us to ‘redress our grievances’ than eliminate public input, which I think would be difficult. As pointed out above, these meetings are for the city council to conduct business, a lot of decisions are made, based on input from the public, or at least should be.

In other Advice from the Advocate, they would like us to believe an OPT-OUT by the school district is for our own ‘safety’;

In other words, increasing the opt-out puts a safety net in place and ensures the District is able to provide a high-quality education for all students for years to come.

Make no mistake, if a governmental entity has the power to increase your taxes, they will use that same power to spend that money. Their is no such thing as a ‘safety net’ or ‘savings account’ in government. They WILL spend every last penny that they suck out of us, and you can almost guarantee that $5 million dollar ‘possible’ increase is already spent. The Chamber of course advocates for property tax and regressive increases on food taxes to help fund education because they are protecting members from an income tax.

The Chamber also decides to weigh in on the ambulance service in town. They have determined that it is what we are willing to pay for that determines what kind of quality of care we are getting . . . imagine that, always about the bottom line with the Chamber;

We will close with this. It appears our emergency medical response system is working when the objective data is considered. Also, the REMSA Board, not an elected lay council, is the right way to manage the system. The Council, by Charter, is a policy setting and legislative body and is to avoid administrative and management issues. It also appears that six of our councilors generally agree the system is working and the structure in place is valuable while two spearheaded the critical questioning.

However, we also understand that if your 911 call is one where there is a delay, you will have a concern. The provision of public services is always a balance between resources and expectations. If we expect (as an exaggerated example) a two-minute ambulance response for every emergency call, we can probably achieve it – but you won’t want to pay for it. Quality assurance conversations are important and we encourage them using the right data and in the right context.

We wouldn’t need more than two mutual aid agreements if PP would just staff more ambulances, but they won’t, as the Chamber has pointed out, too expensive. Yet, ironically our first responders, the SFPD and SFFD seem to show up first, subsidized by the tax payers while PP rides to bank with the profit from the transfer and delivery of a patient. All the more reason showing us a PUBLIC ambulance service not only would save patients money, it would probably save tax payers money (because we would be reimbursed for those calls), but more importantly, it would probably be 10X faster and more reliable than a FOR PROFIT ambulance service.

The Chamber has members to protect, we get it.

Mayor’s Public Input Diatribe last night proves he has NO Clue what the 1st Amendment means

Shortly after the city council meeting last night I sent the city council and the mayor an email reminding them of the language of the 1st Amendment, I highlighted this part;

‘or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.’

Why did I send them this? Because after public input last night the mayor went on a diatribe about how he has been trying for six years to eliminate public input and has not succeeded (FF: 51:00). He said that it was not ‘productive’ and they shouldn’t have to listen to it.

What astonished me the most is that the mayor of South Dakota’s largest city has no regard for the US Constitution or the 1st Amendment. Pretty scary that a person who rules over a city of 178,000 people thinks freedom of speech at a public meeting should be squashed because ‘he doesn’t like it’.

Call a waaabulance! (but don’t call a regular one, it might not show up.)

In a little over 11 months this nightmare of closed government will hopefully be over for the citizens of Sioux Falls, and we can hopefully go back to ruling as a Democracy and bring a little sunshine back to city government.

Transparency Irony

Over the past couple of weeks I have been humored by the irony of our Council Vice-Chair Slick Kiley bragging about live streaming the Annexation Meetings and having them recorded to be viewed later (though they failed with the baby monitor with the 1st meeting). It also seems they think it is just AOK to record and live stream the re-districting committee meetings (just like the Charter Revision and Planning meetings). But for some reason, the very delicate and fragile elitists that serve on the Parks Board couldn’t be bothered by such transparent government, they may freeze up or have a nervous breakdown if they have to sit in front of a video camera.

Do I suspect a bit of Hypocrisy when it comes to transparency in regards to recording certain meetings? REMSA and the Parks Board can hide under a cloak of secrecy while spending millions of tax dollars or making health and safety decisions for the rest of us. But when talking curb and gutter, we need to open the floodgates of transparency.

C’mon Slick! Either all the way, or not at all.

Sioux Falls City Council contact information is ‘PUBLIC’ information

In other words it can be shared with anyone. Whether that is on a city website or a public or private flyer. NO ONE has to attain permission to share public information as long as it is accurate.

There seems to be some confusion lately with what can be shared with the public, and I can assure you, official city email and phone numbers of elected city council members can be shared. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are WRONG.

Alt Mayor driving Real Mayor Bananners!

I have been enjoying Alt Mayor’s tweets, and I think I got the person narrowed down (more on that soon).

What I have admired recently is their calling out the mayor on transparency (oh the irony) and offering to sell the account to the city.

But what is even more funny is that it is driving the mayor crazy he can’t bust this person. It seems he threatened some kind of legal action with the State’s Attorney and Twitter, but like most things 1st Amendment, the mayor is no different then Sandy Jerstad yelling at a porn shop owner, you can’t muck with the 1st Amendment when you are an elected official.

Also, ironically, the Alt Mike has been pretty kind to the real Mike, besides a little snark about pool passes and transparency, they certainly haven’t been mean.

Once again, Real Mike proves just how ‘real’ he is when it comes to modesty.

What is the cost to follow the Mayor around with a camera?

Theresa Stehly mentioned on B-N-B show this morning that she requested the amount it costs to follow the mayor around with a camera for press conferences and Listening & Learning sessions. The finance director could not give her a solid number saying they really don’t keep track (in other words buried in the CityLink/Media budget.
Huether fancies himself as a great and prudent businessman. He has a director of finance (Turbak) who pretends to know what he is doing controlling the town’s cash. This director of the cash doesn’t know the cost of videoing the mayor’s events?
An astute businessman would know how much it costs to:
  1. buy all the equipment needed
  2. send a guy out with a camera
  3. return to the office to upload
  4. store the recordings
  5. how much it costs to replace the equipment as it wears out
They both complain about the cost of recording but had no idea how much it would cost? This proves how bad the city finance system is when they do not understand the basics of cost centers. This is actually a very easy number to generate. To a real cost accountant, this could take minutes to figure out. As for a guy who has worked in the media business for over 20 years, if I had to do a quick educated guess, just to record the press conferences and L & L sessions, it would be well over $100,000 a year. This does not include the entire CityLink budget OR the independent contract hosts like Madeline and Jolene.
There is a strong belief the lack of recordings is not a cost issue or to protect the board members. This effort to stop recordings is to protect city staff from being recorded giving bad advice the board members have to follow. There is no attempt to protect the members only city employees. Our videos show this time and time again.

Will the Sioux Falls parks board meetings get ‘truly’ recorded?

While it may have been a small victory to have Parks Board meeting recordings posted online, they don’t have to do video. This is the stickler. You may not know what is going on because you will not be able to determine who is saying what.

Hopefully the council will be able to amend this and require video. Knobe weighs in;

The Sioux Falls City Council mandate requiring parks board meetings to be recorded and put online does not go far enough.

Let’s back up a step or two and look at the bigger picture. City Council and Planning Commission meetings are broadcast live and then archived. This has been going on for decades. As mayor of Sioux Falls from 1974-84, I implemented live broadcasts of City Commission meetings. It is now standard operating procedure in most local governments nationwide.

If we are going for true transparency, then let’s broadcast the parks board meetings live. Let’s add live broadcasts of a few other city boards, such as Library, Health, Metro Communications. Each of these boards spend public money and implement policy.

I suggest the administration and City Council create a five year plan to allow for the live airing of as many city board meetings as possible. I think there are two locations within city government where live broadcasts can occur: Carnegie Town Hall and the City Link Studios on Phillips Ave. It shouldn’t be too hard to move these board meetings to those locations. Some adjustments in the meeting space for lighting and microphones may be necessary, but certainly not financially prohibitive.

Some in city government and some citizen board members may think this action is punitive, or that we don’t trust them. I am NOT coming at it from that perspective.

Most of the time city government has a good story to tell. Giving more citizens access to that good story,  builds confidence and trust. Something we desperately need at all levels.

I don’t always agree with Rick, but he nails it.

Ethics & Represent SD at Dem Forum (Jan 13, 2017)

Corruption is illegal in America? When did this happen? Who knows this? If this is true, who snuck this into the rule book? Does South Dakota use this rule book? Does Sioux Falls count? Anybody let the Sioux Falls City Attorney and pseudo Ethics Board know anything about this?

So many questions and no answers even though the voters of South Dakota tried to do something about it last November when they voted overwhelmingly to begin the effort to open up the books for all to see. The Sioux Falls Democratic Forum put the Open Government efforts on the wall for all to see when they invited Represent South Dakota to address the crowd on January 13, 2017.

Doug Kronaizl and Mark Winegar of Represent SD brings a message of ethics and responsibility to reality for all to see.

We are in a time when those who are in power are struggling to shut out everyone else. We voters are stupid, gullible, uninformed and hoodwinked for demanding our “leaders” be open in all ways if they are chosen to be help us. Being an officeholders does not mean we give you the keys to the treasury to do as you please. It does not mean you are to take everything so the next officeholder has to start from scratch.

In the November vote, the voters said we do not fully trust our officeholders or as Saint Ronnie liked to say, “Trust but verify”.