Entries Tagged '1st Amendment' ↓

City Government Transparency?

Transcript of Public Testimony last night:

My name is Bruce Danielson, a resident of Sioux Falls and chairman of Citizens for Integrity.

I am here tonight to report on the two ballot advocational meetings held so far, sponsored by the City of Sioux Falls. These biased presentations are designed to confuse the voters and harm the Initiative and Referendum process.

Prior to the first video last night, city director Don Kearney read a statement attributed to the city attorney. The statement reiterated the s approval of the video presentations.

After the first video was completed, I read a statement for those in attendance to explain why we disagree with the presentations and to ensure an open dialogue.

After the ending of the presentations last night I was approached by a city employee, Shawna Goldammer. I was informed my disclaimer would be addressed. I took it as “accommodated and silenced”.

We are partaking in the citizen’s debate on issues citizens worked very hard to bring before the voters. We will continue and will not be silenced.

We are suspicious of the city involvement in the ballot measures just as we have been suspicious of the Events Center naming. The EC naming has been a curious process. It has many different aspects never made clear. On SouthDacola.com last night the timeline became clearer why we the people have not been able to trust the word of this city government.

Prior June 12, 2012: The city doesn’t renew their naming contract with Superlative.

June 12, 2012: Director Smith Talks about hiring Legends to help secure a title sponsor in a council informational meeting.

July 12, 2012: Sanford Health BUYS the domain: DENNYSANFORDPREMIERCENTER.COM

July 24, 2012: Director Smith tells the council in an informational he is to having a title sponsor, and will bring it to the council..

August 2, 2012: EC title sponsor announced, city council is told 30 minutes before the announcement.

t have transparency on this The mayor used to work for First Premier, and people in the community are closely associated with Sanford. Maybe we really got a good ll never know because we never had any ”

We would like to know why this council has not taken their legislative responsibilities to heart and let your constituents know why this curious process was allowed to happen.

We question the motives behind the activities bringing the ballot issues to the people. The issues we have before us are based on our ability to question motives and directives. We have a voice in this election and its aftermath and we are here to stay involved.

Who is Councilor Erpenbach trying to protect?

It was a very strange debate between most of the council and councilors Entenman & Erpenbach (Item #64 FF:) about the TIF application disclosures, Michelle comes to the defense of the mayor’s wife then partially admits to her husband’s investments? Huh?

Jamison raised concerns last fall after learning that the mayor’s wife, Cindy Huether, was one of the investors in a TIF project, the Bancroft Place apartments in the Whittier neighborhood.

Jamison is running against incumbent Mike Huether in the race for mayor this spring.

“This amendment is about one person,” Councilor Michelle Erpenbach said. “I don’t appreciate the way this conversation has been going.”

She said the investments held by an elected official’s spouse should not be open to scrutiny.

“You elected me; you did not elect my husband,” she said.

I found it baffling that Michelle felt she had to defend the mayor’s wife or the mayor, and tried to make this into a political football.* Michelle, this is about transparency and ethics, this isn’t about an election. Secondly, are you admitting that your husband has made investments with properties that have received TIF’s? I found that statement interesting. It got heated at times, Entenman was almost scolding and yelling at the rest of the council (gee, I wonder how many property investments he has made around town?) Then in one of Karsky’s misguided moments, he asked for the vote to be postponed. Not realizing the can of worms he had opened (They won’t vote on it until a week before the election) four councilors voted for the postponement, and of course Karsky realized he had to follow suit, since he proposed it. Michelle and Mike WERE NOT happy.

It got comical at times, especially when Erpenbach came to the defense of Huether, he looked like he was melting like an ice cream cone in his chair, and looked like he was going to start crying at any moment. It was theatrics at their best between Erpenbach and Huether, it was almost like it was rehearsed. See seems to be very concerned about hurt feelings, but doesn’t give a damn about ethics. *What this is really about is Huether’s re-election. It is crucial to Michelle’s political future that Huether is re-elected, especially if she is. Everyone knows Michelle’s plan in four years is to run for the empty seat of mayor and for Huether to run for governor. So if Michelle is re-elected (let’s hope not) she must have Huether re-elected to follow through with her plans.

The other part of the discussion that disturbed me was testimony by Darrin Smith claiming we have to give TIF’s to develop land for the public good, and brought up the COSTCO site that wasn’t developed for 25 years. First off, that property sitting empty hasn’t hurt or helped citizens in our community either way. There was very little public benefit to developing that land, and not developing has not been harmful either. Ironically, as Smith brought up the COSTCO TIF, he admitted that COSTCO has asked to not use the TIF that was granted. So basically admitting that a TIF was not needed to develop the land. But yet we need them? Huh?

CITIZENS FOR INTEGRITY PILE IT ON

Also worth checking out is public testimony from myself and Bruce about the city’s ‘ADVOCATIONAL’ videos and meetings, (FF: Public Input) and the possibility of breaking state law.

Does the Right Wing of the SD State Legislature REALLY care about children?

isaaclatterell_headshot

I care about children, but only the unborn with genetic disorders that are either a male or female and come from the hand of God, not a monkey. After they are born, they are on their own.

Every year, Pierre changes it’s name to ‘Guns & Abortion, SD’ for about 40 days, and our legislature wastes time on guns and abortion legislation. Their reasons? They care about children. Really?

Well this year, as in the past, they had a chance to tell us just how much they do care about kids, you know, the ones that are born and living already. Some of them failed.

You would think after watching this year after year a group that large couldn’t be that ignorant. I must clarify, some Republicans get it, I am talking about the extreme right that think the earth is 6,000 years old and evolution isn’t based on science.

So let’s look at their failures;

• Supporting anti-science, secular education while censoring evolution science. The right wingers think they are doing the children of the state a favor by teaching them anti-science supported creationism, while instilling theological ideas into the public schools ignoring separation of church and state. This is a civics and science lesson gone awry. It goes against everything the 1st Amendment is about, and is more harmful to children then helpful.

• Legislating and teaching Hate. This one speaks for itself, making it legal to discriminate against a person based on their sexual orientation. This one thankfully failed, but that it even came up as legislation is pretty scary.

• Full Medicare expansion. This isn’t rocket science. Not only would it help a lot of children and keeping their working parents healthy it would put $200 million into the state economy. Of course some of legislators, like Isaac Latterell believe that the Federal Government is broke and a day of reckoning is coming where we won’t be getting money from the Feds anymore. Yup, Isaac, Ronald Reagan was using that talking point before you were born. As one of the legislators said in the last coffee, “If you have concerns as a constituent of how the Federal government is spending Federal funds, you need to bring it up with your Washington delegation, not state representatives.”

• Removing the sales tax on food. Democratic representative Marc Feinstein has been trying to remove the tax for years, unsuccessfully. For obvious reasons, removing this tax would help children. I have suggested instead of raising the taxes on other things – three adjustments could be made. 1) Remove the tax from raw, preparable and fresh foods only 2) Tax all products at the same rate-4% 3) Tax advertising.

• Denying counties a share of state sales tax revenue while voting against more lenient enforcement of non-violent offenders, like marijuana users. Why is the county getting further and further behind? Crime and the clogged court system. This also has to do with the safety of our children. When we simply just fine non-violent offenders instead of incarcerating them, we free up law enforcement and the courts to handle the more violent and serious crimes. This makes our community safer, and ultimately children safer.

So while the Right Wingers are busy talking about abortion and guns to keep our children safe and healthy, the work that actually that should be done is going straight over their heads . . . as usual. Some things never change in Guns & Abortion, SD.

NEW PAINTING

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, she was a communist, but after watching the documentary about her, I was inspired. Truly a remarkable woman!

‘Angela Davis’
14 x 18″ on Canvas (wrapped) FOR SALE

angela-davis-high-lowrez

Was Willard setup? (H/T – GP & David Montgomery)

Cleaning up some Willard reading, I just caught something David Montgomery wrote.

There was been something strange in the lead-up and trial of Willard.  It just does not seem plausible someone could be so stupid or inept. I will still hold judgment because it is SD GOP politics of self-destruction in play. There are some questions to ask which seemed to have been missed, we ask them now.

Consider if you were an attorney or part of the defense team involved in this case and this was something you could pounce on. The use of the Internet. The Internet may sound complicated but it is actually very simple. The Intertubes has a very simple design and Tornow and Willard just may have allowed Mike Marion Rounds’ campaign to roll them.

If we are reading the reports correctly, Rounds’ aide Rob Skjonsberg ‘leased’ an IP address from Midco. This ‘lease’ is important. It may sound complicated but it is actually very simple and foolproof.

Here is a basic Internet 101 lesson, get ready for a geek overload:

  • When connecting to the internet with a cellphone, home computer, business or government office, the provider issues an IP address through a ‘lease’ so traffic can be routed properly. This lets the world know how to get data to the user.  This address is stamped on all the packets of data to perform proper delivery.
  • We all have a series of these IP addresses to make sure our stuff gets to us and back to them.  Think of it as a USPS ZIP+4 zip code or your telephone number. We all have digital footprints.
  • To keep track of this information movement, the Internet provider (Midco in this case) issues the IP address through a device called a neighborhood ‘gateway’ giving a 24 hour ‘lease’ to use the IP address.
  • The issued lease allows you to use the IP address for the set period with automatic renewals. A modem keeps the modem IP address until its forced to change. This IP release happens very rarely.
  • Each neighborhood gateway issues only 254 addresses for each short periods of time.
  • Two Internet modems cannot have the same IP address at the same time. If this ever happens, the router is broken and as a result, the entire subnet or neighborhood gets shutdown until it is fixed.
  • What are the chances of Willard having the same IP address? Willard’s modem would have to be utilizing the same Midco neighborhood gateway and what are the chances both modems are in the same neighborhood? What are the chances both modems need to be released at the same time and then trade IP addresses?
  • Now consider this just happens, by chance, by fate of all the gods on high or some other means Willard’s modem just happens to take Rounds’ aide Rob Skjonsberg IP address. What are the chances two ‘competing’ political camps are assigned the same IP addresses for a series of messages to David Montgomery. The odds of this happening are astronomical, it would be like winning the $540 million Powerball multiple times.

If I were presenting the question to the Midco exec, I would have asked what are the addresses used by Rounds’ aide Rob Skjonsberg during the period in question and now. What was the address used by Willard’s modem during the period and currently being used. IP addresses do not just change back and forth.

This reminds me of the rumors floating around during the first Rounds’ governor race. So the story goes, in 2002 Rounds and friends ran a subtle / quiet disinformation campaign to destroy his two opponents. Is Rounds’ aide Rob Skjonsberg pulling strings for his boss? It would be interesting to see if SouthDacola.com has any posting from the same Skjonsberg IP addresses. Internet – Intertubes ignorance shows again just to confuse?

Now consider the phone’s anonymous  jeffstanley19701@aol.com being so similar to jeffstanley@yahoo.com email address. The address is coming from the IP address leased to RoundsforSenate.com aide, Rob Skjonsberg? Who is Jeff Stanley in Rob Skjonsberg’s life? In Willard’s life?

Now consider Lederman, Denny DoGood, Russ Olson, Jason Gant, Pat Powers, Marty Jackley, Click Rain, Joel Arends (of Texas Swift Boat veterans fame) and the “let’s have fun with the Internet” crew games they were doing in 2012. What was their involvement or lack of? A Hollywood movie in the works to help us make sense of it all?

Could Willard have been setup by a Rounds’ protégé?  What is the felony criminal offense of setting up a naïve politico like Willard to take the fall? If these questions get brought up during the appeal process, what happens? Once again our ethically challenged state government (remember we are rated #2 behind Alabama) opens up the criminal conspiracy questions. The power players of state GOP politics are getting sloppy. Do we have any appropriate state or federal Grand Jury to look into these games?

Once again, we learn more from Argus reporters writing their blogs than we could ever get from their columns.

(BTW, there is a Jeff Stanley in Vermillion, a graphic artist who has connection with Dakota Dunes…. Don’t know anything else yet.)

Detroit’s 2-Cents; I find it interesting that the IP is connected to Rounds’ campaign manager. Was this a setup? It reminds of when AG Jackboots had a DCI agent interview Stan Adelstein about Pat Powers, only to come back and investigate Powers and Gant of things they already knew they were innocent of. Oh the games they play in Pierre, and so sloppy.

 

My conclusions on the Dan Willard robocall case

While the jury is deliberating, I will give my two-cents. First off I had the opportunity to listen to a bulk of the trial.

Daniel Willard, 31, is accused of violating a law requiring political communications to disclose the person or organization paying for them. He’s also accused of violating another law requiring political communications to contain an address or website address for the person or organization paying for them.

The four charges are all Class 1 misdemeanors, punishable by a maximum of one year in jail or a $2,000 fine.

While I detest both attorneys involved, I felt Willard’s attorney, Shawn Tornow had a better showing. He based his whole defense on Willard being more part of a ‘advocacy’ group instead of a PAC, comparing it to MADD (Mothers against drunk driving). I thought Tornow’s defense was legitimate, and I feel the jury will find Willard not guilty.

I felt the prosecution (Joel Arends) was sloppy at times, and Gant’s testimony was filled full of ‘I don’t knows’ and ‘I don’t have the document in front of me.’ At times it felt like Gant was mocking Tornow and Willard from the stand and had this attitude that he was going to do anything in his power to not answer any questions, and he did a pretty good job of it, which I only think helped the defense.

I feel Willard is innocent because he is simply a private citizen voicing his opinion about certain legislators, perfectly within his free speech rights or as a head of an advocacy group. I do take offense though with the legislators who may have been involved, like Stace Nelson. He should have stayed out of it.

I guess we will see what happens when the gavel drops.

We should have seen this coming

When I first heard petition circulators were being ‘harassed’ and followed around by Parks workers, the SFPD and a Canaries baseball manager it didn’t surprise me. Even HyVee gave them the boot (Yes, this is a private business, and YES they asked permission and were not granted it.)

Of course certain people don’t like democracy and constitutional rights impeding on their family fun, oh the shame, as ‘Bill’ commented in a different thread;

Petitioners get pushy with people just trying to take in a game in a family environment. They complain to management and mgt calls Police. Police tell them to not be pushy or harass people and keep their space. That ain’t a conspiracy folks; that’s common sense. Stop taking yourselves so seriously! If SON wants a vote then they should get one. They probably won’t like the result though. Not many people in SF feeling sorry for them.

Asking someone to sign a petition if they are a registered voter IS NOT HARASSMENT. And asking someone to sign a petition at a baseball game? I could not think of anything more AMERICAN! The only thing that would make the situation better would be if it was raining apple pie and hot dogs.

Besides the obvious 1st Amendment rights issues, this is a bigger problem, that doesn’t just stem from the SON group, they have just uncovered the ongoing transparency and freedom of speech intolerance of the city and most importantly our mayor.

This statement and quote should say it all,

Mayor Mike Huether said by email that he didn’t know about the issue, and that “I can assure you we have better things to focus on in city government.”

Right  . . . . Mike. What the mayor should have said is,

“This is appalling that the SFPD is interfering with citizen advocacy that is fully legal and within their 1st Amendment rights. We will have a conversation with these officers so it doesn’t happen in the future.”

Of course, that statement would have come from a mayor that is concerned about transparency. Mike is more concerned about ‘controlling the message’ and squashing free speech. If you don’t think the directives to the Parks department employees and SFPD wasn’t coming from high atop the totem pole, you are pretty foolish and naive. There has even been rumors circulating that city employees were directed to NOT SIGN the petition.

The mayor had a similar response to me when I sent out an email to the council and him after our blatant censorship during the snow gates election discussion at a city council meeting;

However, in fairness to Councilor Erpenbach and the process, ALL OF THE COUNCILORS were notified about the managing the debate time or “20 minute conversation” at 1:47pm on Monday.  Your comment about “making up the rule before the meeting started without informing your fellow councilors” is not accurate.  Whether or not the Councilors made the time to review it or whether or not they wanted to be open and transparent or not to you and to the public, I can’t verify.

I asked councilors about this, both Jamison and Staggers said it was sent in an EMAIL on Monday. Staggers said he doesn’t review his emails everyday and wasn’t aware of this RULE change until Erpenbach brought it up in the meeting. Either way, it should not have been sent in an email, and further more, the public should have been informed about this change 24 hours in advance of the meeting. We were not. But like the comment in yesterday’s paper, once again the mayor tries to wash his hands of having anything to do with it. I call Beautiful Sunshine on his butt once again.

Since Mayor Transparency has taken over these very non-transparent events have taken place;

1) The discussion to fire a city clerk in private, breaking open meetings laws

2) The denial that head librarian Sally Felix was fired

3) The repeated ‘surprise’ press conferences about city news without including or informing the council

4) Using tax dollars to promote the EC without telling the cons of the project before the vote

5) Misinformation about the true cost of the EC, which is still occurring. By using a construction management company, they can cover up what is being paid out.

6) Keeping the EC naming rights deal in secret

7) Claiming we have an ‘above average’ city surplus or cash on hand without telling us much of the money in our piggy bank is ‘borrowed money’ being held until contractors need to be paid for the EC work.

8) The continued failures of SIRE (the online video and document viewing software the city uses on their website, which costs taxpayers around a $1000 a month)

9) Agenda documents not appearing on SIRE until the meetings start, even though the the agenda is posted 24 hours in advance (The city council received a copy of the city budget 7 minutes before the mayor presented it to them publicly.)

Now the mayor can claim all he wants that he is transparent, but saying something doesn’t make it so, actions speak louder then words, but when you are a salesman (mind you that he sold the worst most subprime credit card in the industry) all you really have is words. But I wouldn’t expect anything less out of man who accused me of being godless in a public meeting and a guy who can’t laugh at himself. But none of this is very funny, in fact, it is really F’ing serious.

Is the ACLU and NCAC watching and listening? I hope so.

Limiting Public Input – Tonight’s SF City Council meeting

Make no mistake, Item #29 on the city council agenda tonight will be contentious and there will be public input, I suspect quite a bit. I won’t speculate how city councilors will vote on the issue, and many of them are still saying they are undecided (ahem).

I will say this, after being CENSORSED by then council chair, Erpenbach and mayor Huether during the snowgate vote debate and discussion at the council meeting, I will put a word of warning to the council and mayor; city ordinance is clear when it comes to public input, 5 minutes, per person, per agenda item. You MUST allow BOTH sides of the Walmart zoning issue to speak tonight and express their feelings, opinions and arguements. This is much too important of an issue to limit (CENSOR) to 20 minutes. The testimony tonight MUST be on the public record, this is much more important then swaying councilors’ votes (most of them have probably already made up their minds) this is more about educating the public about both sides of the issue.

Even if the council approves the zoning tonight, the most important thing we should take from tonight’s meeting is freedom of speech, 1st Amendment rights and the public’s right to input. I hope and even pray that the council and mayor have learned something from the snowgate censorship fest.

People are watching. Follow your own laws and allow public testimony to last until each and every person has had the chance to speak their peace. This is a democracy, and the democratic process, not a Kangaroo court.

EMAIL from SON;

Tonight at Carnegie Hall the Sioux Falls City Council will be voting on the request to rezone just under 40 acres of farm-land from AG to C-4 commercial.  We need to pack the room this evening and have a large showing of support for our position.  We have folks ready to speak on our behalf concerning various topics and we remain hopeful that the city council will rule in favor of protecting the rights of its citizens over the economic desires of the world’s largest big-box retailer.  Please pass this message along to anyone you know who supports our efforts.  We hope to see you there and thank you for all you are doing, have done, and will continue to do to make Sioux Falls such a great city to call home.   Remember, common sense is on our side!

Censorship, Public Input & the SF City Council

After several months of holding it in, I finally let Council Chair Erpenbach and the rest of the council know how I felt about public input and censorship at the council working session yesterday.

I told them that 1st Amendment rights organizations like the National Coalition Against Censorship defend council rules when it comes to public input WITHIN THE LAW. I reminded them what city ordinance was, ’5 Minutes Per Person’ and by not following that ordinance they are in a sense violating city charter and breaking the law. I recommended that in the future it would be unwise to violate this ordinance again because next time there ‘would be consequences.’ I also reminded them that they take a oath of office to uphold the US Constitution, the State Constitution and the City Charter. They are bound by that oath to NOT violate city ordinances. I also told them that they are well within their rights to limit discussion ONCE the discussion has started if someone is being disruptive or even repetative.

I told Michelle she was not being totally truthful when she said Munson limited discussion. While I agreed that he did, he only did it AFTER the discussion had started and if people were being insulting or disruptive. I said,

“He never ONCE sent out an email 24 hours in advance to the council about limiting a discussion that hadn’t even started.”

Michelle mumbled something about MMM giving her latitude on how to run the meetings. I didn’t want to get into a long rant with her about how the MAYOR is the administer of the meetings and it is actually his duty to decide where the public discussion is going-NOT HERS. They seem to be pointing the finger back and forth on this, and it is getting tiresome.

Councilor Dean Karsky asked, “Shouldn’t the council have a set policy on public input?” DEAN! YOU ALREADY DO! It is set in city charter, 5 MINUTES PER PERSON! Follow the ordinance. That is all we are asking of you.

There was some good things that came from the discussion though. There will no longer be a sign up sheet to speak to the council (I never signed that stupid thing anyway). And councilor Jamison suggested that they don’t split the PROs and CONs into two separate groups. He said just let people come up and speak when it is their turn in line.

I hope I was clear enough with the council and especially with Erpenbach. Limiting public discussion will NOT be tolerated in the future.

SF City Council continues ‘discussion’ on public input

Council chair Erpenbach just doesn’t seem to get it. She continues to want to discuss changing public input at the working sessions. Another round on the topic is planned for 4 PM today.

2. Public Input Discussion

Here’s the deal, if you have a problem the 5 minute rule, go before the charter revision commission and ask them to change it, otherwise there is NOTHING to discuss. It is time to DROP it, and follow city ordinance.