Entries Tagged '1st Amendment' ↓

Argus Ed Board: Paint over Snowplows

First, I would like to say that I like this new and improved ED Board, they are not pulling any punches.

Secondly, I do understand the right to your opinion and freedom of expression. I will defend anyone to create art, but please, use your own canvas, not my tax dollars to promote your opinion.

As for the ‘art’ argument. What the Lutheran school kids painted on the plows ‘WAS NOT’ art. They simply copied a popular image from the internet. That’s it. It is one thing to say ‘artistic expression’ it is a whole other ball of wax to ‘plagiarize’.

With that being said, there are two great lessons here. First, the obvious, promoting religion on government owned property is unconstitutional. I expand on it during the council meeting public input (FF:6:18).

Secondly, copying someone else’s ‘art’ or ‘design’ is also a No-No.

But I think the Argus Ed board states it very well;

Obviously, there should have been clearer guidelines on the types of messages that would be acceptable for the art project in the first place. Someone in the city should be assigned to review the artwork before it’s put on public equipment for public display anyway.

Would there be no oversight to what community groups might paint on park benches or city streets during a beautification project? Or on city buses, for that matter?

Well there are guidelines, the city has them for private businesses in the sign code, and they must be followed. There is also a volunteer commission that is called the Visual Art Commission that approves public art and the use of public art. They should weigh in on these guidelines.

We trust the city is working to clarify the parameters of this project to avoid future problems.

But recognizing this unique conflict and removing the religious messages would not have meant denying the Christian beliefs displayed.

It would have reinforced the notion that governments can’t favor one religion or belief set over another.

Exactly! It really is that simple. But instead we have a mayor who has to politicize EVERYTHING! Sometimes Mike, we just want you to make a fair and just decision, not take sides.

Have Coke and a Smile

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UPDATE: Compromise on Snowplows?

They are going to use a disclaimer. Sorry, but this won’t hold up in court. Huether give it up.

Here is a copy of the letter the attorney from Freedom From Religion Foundation sent to the city attorney: Freedomfromreligion

As you can see, he states several cases that show this is unconstitutional.

disclaimer

A little inspirational reading for the mayor (click to enlarge):

jeffersonreligion5

plow

IMAGE: READER SUBMISSION

Heck, with a snowplow like this, the snow would melt at impact!

As any intelligent person that understands the US Constitution and 1st Amendment, and Jon Arneson would know, you can see where this is headed;

Arneson believes having those painting on city property puts the City into a corner where, by law, it would be seen as an endorsement of religion. He says U.S. Supreme Court rulings dealing with religion and government over the past 30 years support that.

Duh?!

I guess we are supposed to hear a resolution today from the city, I suspect if we don’t hear one by the weekend, that the city decided to quietly paint over the plow blades. We will see. I did notice it is already circulating the national news that our Mayor is Constitutionally inept. There was a blurb about it in the USA Today.

 

 

UPDATE: Mayor Huether proves once again he doesn’t understand the US Constitution

christ-plow

Triple-M doesn’t realize the Lutheran School doesn’t own the snowplows, we do, the taxpayers, while they can practice their ‘freedom of expression’ on government owned property, they cannot promote a particular religion (it really is that simple). If they want to paint privately owned school property, more power to them;

But Huether seemed adamant that the plow blades wouldn’t be removed.

“We are not going to be painting over those plow blades. We will not be painting over them unless I get some Supreme Court case that says that I have to,” Huether said.

Heuther is also reluctant to suggest changes to the “Paint the Plows” program for fear of trampling on the First Amendment rights of participating schools.

“That’s one of the things we’re struggling with,” said Huether. “How do we move forward and still allow people to have freedom of expression?”

Mr. Huether may just get his wish. Watch for the ACLU to be all over this. I also suspect the NCAC may jump into this. So now the mayor is willing to waste tax dollars on Supreme Court cases because he doesn’t have a clue about our US Constitution. How did I know he was going to take this stance?

During the recent informational today, Staggers was defending the plows, calling it a ‘political issue’. No Kermit, it is a Constitutional issue. It is one thing to ‘express’ yourself about a season (winter) and it seems all the other schools figured it out, it is entirely another issue to be disguising ‘artistic expression’ with a ‘Biblical message’.

Also, last I checked, artistic expression relates to somewhat original ideas, there was nothing original from stenciling already existing designs. Someone else also expressed to me we may be opening up ourselves to copyright infringement laws with Coca-Cola.

I will give city attorney Fiddle-Faddle credit, he told councilor Staggers that it was a ‘legal’ issue, and it is, a Constitutional legal issue. And Fiddle should be well-versed in them, he has plenty of case law proving the city doesn’t understand Constitutional law.

The Villagers have spoken already, LEAVE PUBLIC INPUT ALONE

A friend recently sent some questions to the entire Sioux Falls city council about some different topics, one of them was about the public ‘engaging’ the council during public input (and how it isn’t happening). Council Chair, Dean Karsky responded in this manner;

I have been toying with the idea of moving the public input to the Informational Meeting as it would allow for more interaction with the Council and possibly engage the public more with us.  Still working on the pro’s and con’s of doing so, input on the matter is welcome.

Here is my input Dean, LEAVE IT AS IS!

There is absolutely no reason why the council can’t ‘engage’ the public during public input at the city council meetings. During the Munson administration, the council interacted all the time with the public.

If this is a matter of ‘time’ I should remind the council that they are getting PAID to attend the meetings, and the public, which comes on their own time to testify, pays those wages. If they don’t like hearing public input, or they think the meetings are to long, or they don’t get paid enough, then please, resign. There is nothing more annoying then a politician running for office then complaining about their duties once they get elected. Then why did you run?

Lastly, I do partially agree with public input at the informational. In fact several of the citizen advocates in the community have discussed that it would be nice to have public input at the informational. The problem with only limiting it to the informational is timing. The meeting is at 4 PM when many people cannot attend because of work conflicts. By all means, have public input at the informational, but also keep it at 7 PM to so working folks can testify.

Once again, the council is out of touch with the public on this one, just like snowgates, they seem to want to do the opposite of what the public wants for their convenience. Their convenience is of little importance to good government, the public’s convenience is.

UPDATE 2: City of Sioux Falls Crack Legal team agrees, Jesus plows violate separation clause

UPDATE 2:

“Students at Lutheran High School of Sioux Falls spent time and effort designing the plow blade they submitted for the city’s Paint the Plows event, Principal Derek Bult said.”

You mean original designs like THIS.

I figured this was coming. I’m wondering when Christians, or for that fact, any religious sect are going to figure out the separation clause is there to protect you from government’s interference in your religious lives and beliefs;

Two private schools in Sioux Falls have been asked to repaint city-owned snow plow blades after a group complained about student artwork with Christian themes.

I think Amanda sums it up very nicely

Some residents might be upset about a protest of Christian-themed art on city snow plows, but all they need to do is consider a role reversal, Amanda Novotny said.

“It would have no business on a plow, I would never do it, but if I painted a plow that said ‘There is no god,’ I think people would be very, very upset about that,” she said.

This commenter to the story also makes a fine point;

It is not discrimination against A religious establishment, it is protection for ALL religious belief.

Exactly!

This is going to get ugly. Already talked to a city councilor who has been getting blowback about it.

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IMAGE: Facebook.

 

I agree with Mayor Huether, let’s end bullying in Sioux Falls, let’s start at Carnegie & City Hall

I have a little different perspective on it then he does, as I am sure you suspected.

While I do agree with him that work place/school discrimination and domestic violence is intolerable I do draw a line with freedom of speech. While saying ‘naughty hurtful words’ should be discouraged, the 1st Amendment is pretty clear about our constitutional rights. In yesterday’s press conference, Huether referred to a FB comment he read that said (in reference to the man getting punched outside of Wiley’s) “LOL. Maybe he should have minded his own business.” While the LOL was not needed (Lot’s of Laughs, is what Huether said it meant, which made me LMFAO*) I kind of agree with the rest of the comment to a point.

If it was a different situation, I would have definitely said something to the lady, but since the situation occurred while everyone involved was probably tanked outside of Wiley’s (a place known for it’s fighting problems) probably not a time to take a stand. For example, last night me and about 5 other people got doused with beer when someone behind us threw a cup. I turned around and saw some wannabe bikers laughing. I certainly could have went over and asked who the f’ing wise guy was, but you know what? I minded my own business, and guess what, no one got hurt. Did the gentleman outside of Wiley’s deserve to get punched? Nope. Violence is never a solution. Do I commend him for sticking up for himself and friends? Definitely! But like I said, if you put yourself in certain situations, there can be unintended consequences, especially when fueled by alcohol. Just look at the problems associated with drinking at Van Eps Park.

There are situations where you need to turn the other cheek, or you just might get punched in the face. It’s your choice I guess, like I said, the 1st Amendment guarantees us the right to pretty much say what we want as private citizens. It is clear though that employers can’t discriminate in this manner, and assaulting your spouse or bystanders is not included in this right. Please, let’s all stop punching each other over ‘words’. What an incredible waste of time and energy, and also, let’s stop crying over spilt milk.

This is where I disagree with mayor Huether on bullying. He seems to think this is about school kids, minorities, domestic assaults or gays, it is much more encompassing then that.

He lacks to mention peer bullying (most people think of this kind of bullying going on in school between classmates). It is also an issue in the workplace. In fact I believe it is an issue at Carnegie Hall.

I have seen city councilors, the mayor, city directors, city employees and citizens all bully each other at the meetings. In fact on one occasion, which still irks me to this day (the mayor says it is okay to get mad about bullying) is when Councilor Erpenbach bullied the snowgate petitioners and shut down public comment in support of an early election. Each week I have also watched several city councilors bully citizens when they say something they don’t like in public testimony. The mayor on several occasions has cut off councilors during discussions and asked for a roll call vote. They are all guilty, including myself, when I offer ultimatums during public testimony. I apologize.

I have also witnessed bullying by code enforcement officers, police officers and the city attorney’s office. In fact, a former city attorney bullied one of my friends for seven years which cost him over $40K.

Like I said, I am all for free speech, citizens have a right to address their government about concerns, but public officials don’t have a right to bully citizens when we bring up these concerns. I saw this recently when the city refused to pay for damages the SFPD SWAT team created. In another incident a guy is being taken to small claims court over not building a dumpster enclosure fast enough. So if city officials are going to hold press conferences to tackle the problem of bullying, they must first look in the mirror and get their own house in order.  I’m glad the mayor brought this issue to light, and I hope he looks at the bullying going on by the employees he manages. If Huether believes in leading by example it is imperative he sets a good example to city employees and directors. The same goes for the council (None of them attended the press conference yesterday).

BTW, Huether mentioned bullying that goes on on blogs. So I thought it would only be appropriate to comment on his press conference, on my blog.

*LMFAO. Which means ‘Laugh my funny arm off’

The City’s Lack of Transparency on the EC Siding is NOT an isolated incident

Since Huether has been mayor, there have been many instances of the city not being transparent with the public and the council and I see this lack of transparency getting worse.

Here are just a few ‘examples’ of the city’s (mostly the mayor’s office and council leadership) very non transparent moments;

- Holding a press conference to announce the building of two new Walmarts without Planning or Council approval.

- The mayor’s wife and him investing in TIF’s and other developments that are recommended by the Planning Department, a department he manages.

- Allowing Community Development to give an affordable housing grant to a developer who was chair of the Planning Commission, a clear conflict of interest

- Allowing Council Chair Erpenbach to CENSOR snowgate election testimony, which put off snowgate implementation for a full year.

- Mayor Huether was not required to list all of his investments on his campaign finance report, but other NON-incumbent candidates were asked to do so

- Two hearings on municipal election ballot language because petitioners were NOT allowed to proof the language before ballots were printed

- Asked the city to provide $500K towards a new indoor tennis facility without mentioning eventually his name would be on the side of the building.

- Sanford bought events center domain name before they were announced the title sponsor

- Spellerberg Park picked as location of new indoor pool before a supposed resolution on the quit claim deed

The EC siding secrecy is just another notch in the bed post for a mayor and administration that sleeps with a lot of secrets. And just think, these are the ones we KNOW about . . .

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.