Entries Tagged '1st Amendment' ↓

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”.

If you are against taping city board meetings, you are anti-transparent

I believe the Sioux Falls City Council is set to vote on recording parks board meetings this next Tuesday. If the measure passes (must get 5 votes because it is an ordinance) it will open the door to more transparency when other boards will be asked to be recorded, like REMSA.

Folks, this is a GOOD thing, open and transparent government will always benefit the public and protect us from corruption. Just look at the oral arguments today at the SD Supreme Court, our local paper had to sue the city over something as simple as a settlement contract, it shouldn’t be that way.

The opposing side has their excuses, and I will debunk them;

• It will cost to much to record and to store videos. First off, if it is so expensive to record these meetings, why do we have such an enormous budget following the mayor around to do a press conference every time he gets a haircut or wipes his butt? Secondly, you wouldn’t need a production crew, a city employee in attendance could simply set up the camera, hit record. As for storage, digital storage these days is minimal cost, and even if it wasn’t, the city could do like the county and use YouTube to store the meetings.

• It will discourage people from volunteering on boards. Really? The Planning Commission, one of the most powerful boards in the city has been recording their meetings for 12 years, they are all volunteers and it seems like they never struggle finding people to serve. Secondly, I wouldn’t want anyone serving on a board that wasn’t pro transparency and open government. Just because you volunteer on a government board doesn’t give you a license to keep secrets, quite the opposite.

• The public/media will twist what is said in the meetings or interrupt them. If they are recorded, the public really won’t have a reason to show up in person, and secondly, if the entire meeting is recorded and put online, not sure how that is ‘twisting’ it’s content. The only time the truth is twisted is when decisions are made behind closed doors.

Let’s face it, these boards make important decisions that impact thousands of lives and millions of dollars of taxpayer money, they need to be transparent and readily available to the public. Any councilor who would vote against this are basically saying they are happy with the status quo and are anti-transparent government, any other arguments are weak kneed and ‘twisted’.

South DaCola 2016 year in review (Part I)

art-maze-mower-lrArtMaze, one of the better parts of Sioux Falls life in 2016

2016 has been a rough year for citizen activism. While it has been up and down here in Sioux Falls with many successes and failures to boot, it seems Washington DC has gone into full collapse as we allowed racist, sexist, hillbillies to elect our president.

READ ABOUT 2015 REVIEW HERE.

But locally there were three things that stood out;

• Governor Daugaard claiming that voters were ‘hoodwinked’ into voting for IM 22, then getting the Pierre (in)justice system to go along with it. Funny how for over 40 years voters have been voting his party into power, and no word about ‘hoodwinking’ but once that corrupt power will be challenged, all the voters are idiots. As one official told me that used to work for Dennis, it’s not the public that are idiots, it’s Dennis. And his idiocy has been shining through.

• The South Dakota Democratic Party’s bottom completely fell out, and the people in charge patted themselves on the back. Insanity I tell you! Insanity!

• But one of the greatest achievements of the year is the Sioux Falls City Council’s change of power. The four new councilors have been flexing their muscles with a little help from Councilor Erickson, and while they have had a few missteps to start out, they have been learning from the battle scars. While ‘leadership’ of the council (Rolfing and Kiley) seem to be on a two man mission to rubberstamp all things Huether, shut down public input, and concoct false ethics charges against a fellow councilor (until they got caught lying like the snakes they are) they are becoming more and more in check. The city council has many big plans for 2017, and I have a feeling their agenda will push through easily as our lame duck mayor melts.

Let’s take a look at some the finer high and low points of 2016;

• The Huether Tennis center continues to block parking from other event attendees at the Sanford Sports complex though they basically stole $500K from taxpayers for the facility. Throughout the year there was several reports on cones and signs blocking the lot with not cars in it. But hey Mike’s Bride won an award this year and seemed surprised she did, without commenting that her check to the organization that gave the award wasn’t returned.

• The Sioux Falls City Council leadership and mayor’s HR department pulled a military retiree out of their asses for city clerk, a person who will be in charge of our city elections and hasn’t been registered to vote for years. He also proved his knowledge of official stamps when he stamped a petition without even bothering to read it. While Mr. Greco has gotten better over the year, the city clerk position should not be a $80K+ a year job as an apprentice, sadly being trained by one of his assistant clerks who has ten times the qualifications and applied for the position but was turned down. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the council chair’s view of women in the work place.

• Speaking of letting the mayor’s HR department and Leadership’s Mutt and Jeff pick the next internal auditor, the council barked loud enough that they did not want another ‘Greco’ pick. Not sure if the barking worked, but the person who was set to take the job saw the writing on the wall and turned it down. Hopefully the person who ultimately gets the position won’t be turned down because they shave their legs.

• The city continues to blow money on the Winter Wonderland Display, but the way the mayor has been cutting budgets these days, I expect next year’s display to be a couple of homeless barrel fire pits, sponsored by the Dudley House of course.

• After posting about the ridiculous corporate like raises the mayor has been giving to his management team, he turns around and still screws the minions with dismal raises again this year. I think in a special note to the city employees on their Christmas paystub he wrote, “I don’t care.”

• The city continues the FREE condom distribution program at area bars, and for some reason Monk’s is always emptied the quickest. Coincidence that is also a favorite watering hole of city managers . . .

• The Tuthill shooting case becomes ‘inactive’ and a tree branch shadow gets off scott free.

• The Erp wrongfully calls out local massage therapists as prejudice because they pointed out the ‘shower massages’ that were taking place around town. Apparently someone got a bad fortune cookie that day.

• The car rental tax and BID tax grabby-grabby fails in Sioux Falls, but the state legislature passes one of the most idiotic tax increases ever so our teachers are now just tied for last instead of dead last in pay. Out hoodwinking governor already has plans to rob the pot only one year after its passage.

• Hartford’s city government was in a state of collapse. Who really cares?

• The Levitt Pavilion is moving forward in Sioux Falls. It will be nice watching outdoor concerts sitting in the grass while battery acid is boiling beneath our asses.

• The Boulevard ordinance changes went into effect. Now stop worrying about rocks and plant a garden.

• The Washington Pavilion got a change of leadership after Darrin Smith takes over as President. So far he has only eliminated one director, but I hear the blood-letting has just begun. Now let’s throw another couple of million at the place to fix the poor construction to begin with. That will never happen with the Events Center . . .

• The Events Center cracks down on outside snacks and guns at events. We are all now safe from cheap fat people shooting us, but not in the parking lot.

• The Pottie Room war starts in Pierre and is guaranteed to return in 2017.

• A state legislator calls transgender people ‘twisted’. Now I’m struggling with what word to use describing our state legislators?

• A city council candidate throws a hissy fit over a post I wrote about his wife’s involvement with the Jesus plows and after threats to my employer I pull the post. He ends up taking last place in the at-large race. How’s Jesus working out for you now?

• Due to health reasons, Kermit Staggers decides not to run for a 4th term on the city council. His endorsement of Stehly puts her over the top.

• One of the youngest candidates in city history runs for city council. I apologize to Briggs for all the shitty things I said about him during the campaign.

• The Argus Leader sues the city for the details in the secret events center siding settlement. The Argus loses the first round but it is headed to the SD Supreme Court.

• On a similar note, the SON neighborhood is also awaiting a judgement in their Walmart suit with the SD Supreme Court.

• While our Sioux Falls City Council approves the DAPL through Sioux Falls, it takes thousands of protesters in ND to actually stop it. Too bad our city council chair doesn’t understand how to vote.

• The Mayor and Q-Tip Smith screwup the DT parking ramp development by flapping their traps to soon, and the council later on in the year returns the favor and defunds the ramp all together for 2017. I still think the fiasco is what got Smith to seek refuge at the Pavilion.

• City officials throw a hissy-fit over Bruce’s camera at a city meeting we were invited to by then city councilor Kenny Anderson. Looking back on it now, I just chuckle.

• Former city councilor Dean Karsky and now commissioner elect has become the official endorser in Sioux Falls.

• Bruce and I do a presentation on voter turnout in Sioux Falls at Democratic Forum and one of the mayor’s buddy developers in Sioux Falls tries to shut us down. When he fails, he walks out. Another casualty to transparency.