Entries Tagged '1st Amendment' ↓

Councilor Rolfing & Mayor Huether are planning changes to public input


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.

What is the push behind the transgender ordinance really about?


The city attorney wants to revisit the ordinance;

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.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Rex Rolfing still delusional about public input

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).


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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.

Court rules against the Argus in EC siding settlement disclosure

Yesterday on the ‘100 Eyes’ show, Patrick Lalley said they are eagerly awaiting the ruling in their suit against the city. It was filed last Friday.


Speculation aside, I would expect an appeal. (Full Doc: ex-settle)

Public Input is not broken


– Tyrion Lannister, A Clash of Kings written by G.R.R.M

Mayor ‘Lake Diamond’ Mike & his Nitrogenator

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What will be the first business of order for the new city council?

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.

Interesting time for an appeal of this ordinance

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.


Project NICE? More Like Project Nosey.


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Argus Leader’s Joe Sneve writes great essay about public input


Proudly hanging on Detroit’s office door

For some strange reason the Argus decided to not post their reporter’s essays online, only in a print version last Sunday, so I’m sorry I can’t link Joe’s entire piece, but can give you tidbits.

He wrote glowingly about public input and the importance of it;

Almost every Tuesday of the year, dozens converge at Carnegie Town Hall to handle the city’s business. Some get paid to be there. Some don’t.

. . .

Many people fear public speaking including me.  Yet people still come to the various meetings and their passion for their community overrides that fear. They want to be heard.

. . .

“Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed – and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy.” President John F. Kennedy said that to the American Newspaper Publishers Association in 1961.

What happens in our chambers happens across the country in cities large and small. And each time, it’s inspiring.

A small board, elected to represent. A mayor, elected to lead.

And residents – taking their own time to understand issues, and using their power as voters and community members to be heard.

As a journalist, I watch it play out every week.

And each time, I’m awed by the courage.

Joe teaches us why public input is so important to a democracy.