Entries Tagged 'Ethics' ↓

Sioux Falls City Councilor Stehly asks for advisory opinion

The meeting will be at 10:30 AM this Thursday at City Hall. Stehly is asking if it is ‘ethical’ to be accepting FREE ‘Food & Drink’ from a developer that will be potentially asking for a TIF from the very people who are being asked to attend this event.

Personally, if I was a city councilor, I would NOT attend the reception portion of the event. It not only looks unethical, it likely is unethical. This will be an interesting Ethics Board meeting to watch and what laws are applicable. In South Dakota where we have very few ethics laws for lawmakers I could easily see a ruling either way.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls Ethics Board said ‘No Dice’

UPDATE: The SiouxFalls Board of Ethics met on March 28, 2019 to hear testimony for an advisory opinion concerning the propriety of a city employee joining a company board and then receiving any honorarium payment for it.

The Board of Ethics decided it was proper in this situation, and others, to be part of an advisory board but a city official in any capacity will not receive any payment, meals or reimbursement of expenses for such service. In simple language, if you are a city of Sioux Falls employee or elected official, you better not be receiving any money or anything of value for your service.

This is the second opinion in two years where a similar decision was made. We have been told there are city officials who are part of corporate, state and national boards and some may be receiving some types of remuneration or payments.

As the ethics board determined in the past when it comes to gift cards to emergency responders, they told a librarian in an ‘advisory opinion’ today she could serve on a board but couldn’t take a contribution from the organization, even if it was charitable. I think Cameraman Bruce filmed the event (I think he was the only media in attendance today, guess he wasn’t scared of being ‘stuck in the middle’). It seemed logical.

The opinion request (Click to enlarge);

So who is lying about the openness of the Events Center Campus Book Club?

The ‘Painless’ Meeting in Public

We watched as this all played out. The meetings were going to remain closed, the TenHaken administration was digging in their heels. Then councilors Starr and Stehly bring a resolution forward opening the meetings. All of sudden the Task Force was claiming they decided they were going to open them up all on their own according to some secret vote, in a secret meeting and informed the Mayor in a secret email (to this day no one has seen);

An email from the event center group’s co-chairs Dan Statema and Jeff Eckhoff to Mayor Paul TenHaken said that the group had voted at their first meeting on Feb. 27 to allow the public and media to attend the rest of the meetings.

“We see no harm in having interested parties gain the same education we are as we progress through this process,” the email read.

Now fast forward today to the first open meeting. Deputy COS TJ Typeover tells those TV folks this;

“Pat Starr and I brought forth a resolution when we found out these meetings were going to be closed to the public and the resolution requested that they open the meeting and as a result of that the meetings have been opened,” says Stehly.

“After the first meeting they talked in between that meeting and this meeting and decided to open these up to the public,” says Nelson.

So which is it TJ? Did they vote on it? Did they decide later? My guess is both stories are TOTAL BS. You and the Mayor decided to open these meetings up after pressure from Starr and Stehly. Just admit it. Because just lying about it makes you look even more foolish, and certainly NOT transparent.

Sioux Falls Ethics Board to meet Thursday at 3:30 PM

One of the items of discussion is an advisory opinion filed in February. I’m trying to find out what that is. Wonder if it has anything to do with the new Housing Director running for the Tea City Council or if Neitzert is asking to take tips for his imaginary taxi job again?

Could an ethics complaint be filed against the Mayor for appointing a secret study group

I guess the lawyers have looked over whether or not Mayor TenHaken is violating city charter by appointing a secret task force without the consent of the city council. One of the more memorable comments was, “While the mayor’s appointment of the task force doesn’t violate the law, I can’t speak on the ethics of the decision.”

Well, that’s fine, because it seems the city charter has the ‘ethical’ answer to that question;

34.007  CANON FIVE.

   (a)   A city council member should conduct the affairs of the city council in an open and public manner.
   (b)   City council members should be aware of the letter and intent of the state’s open meetings law, should conduct the affairs of the city council consistent with the letter and spirit of that law and consistent with the need to inspire and maintain public confidence in the integrity and fairness of city government and the office of city council member. Consistent with this goal of preserving public trust, city council members should be aware of the need for discretion in deliberations involving resources of the city, the reputation of people and the integrity of the governmental processes.
   (c)   All actions, decisions and votes by city council members should be made on their merits, objectively, and without party, regional or ideological partisanship.
(1992 Code , App. E)  (Ord. 34-00, passed 4-11-2000)
According to city charter, as the former mayor would point out all the time, the mayor is a member of the city council. I know this is a fine line, but purposely appointing a study group that will meet in secret could be a violation of the ethics code. Maybe a citizen needs to file and complaint against Paul and find out.

TenHaken continues to allow city employees to be hamstrung

We are already seeing the affects of the Home Rule Charter going straight to the head of the new mayor;

Mayor Paul TenHaken won’t repeal a Huether-era executive order that threatens punishment for city employees who share confidential information with the public, despite previously saying he would.

I can about imagine the line of BS he was fed from the HR department about keeping this order;

“Rather than continue the practice of having employees sign confidentiality statements, we felt it would be more efficient to place this provision in policy,” O’Toole wrote in an email then.

But confidentiality in different departments means different things, and that is why a ‘blanket’ policy makes NO sense.

Brekke, though, still believes some of the language in the confidentiality executive order is too vague, especially phrases that say city employees shall not share “sensitive information” and only when it’s related to the “business necessity” of the city.

Because those phrases, Brekke said, aren’t strictly defined, it could be causing “a chilling effect” when it comes to city staff’s willingness to share the government’s business with the public and the media.

“I still think it should be rewritten because I still don’t think it’s appropriate for government,” she said. “That might be appropriate if you work for Apple computers, and you can’t let anything leak out of your system. But when you’re working in government, that kind of policy is overly broad.”

If a full repeal is off the table, Brekke said she hopes to have more conversations with both the mayor and O’Toole about softening the executive order or better defining what is and isn’t confidential.

TenHaken said that’s not out of the question.

“There’s really been no issue with it as it’s currently set up. It’s more optics, and I think that’s what Janet wants to address,” he said. “It’s a new day and maybe we could soften it to make sure city employees are comfortable sharing information.”

If I was Brekke, I would take action with council legislation. During the campaign, the public spoke loud and clear, we need MORE transparency in government, not more of the same. But with this issue, Legacy hiring Ketchum and the fiasco with Public Input, it seems that TenHaken is just giving ‘transparency’ lip service and little else.

A charter revision dictated by a petition drive and voters may be on the horizon, sooner, rather than later.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Brekke on Ethics & Open Meetings

Janet Brekke set a new standard for Sioux Falls City Council thought provoking discussion on June 19, 2018. During the discussion of the fake Public Input control ordinance Brekke had to remind the proponents and everyone else what goes into proper process. We must remember, there is nothing lost if everything is in the open following proper process.

The Selberg / Kiley fake Public Input ordinance controversy never had to happen. It was a brain dead proposal to shut off voices they did not want to hear, interfering in proposals they appeared to want hidden from us, the owners and customers of our city government.

To help everyone understand, the city of Sioux Falls is technically a public corporation run through by-laws (A.K.A. Home Rule Charter). The Home Rule Charter gives the administrators certain responsibilities and are answerable to us, the stockholders. We citizens are the stockholders of the corporation, not the special interests who pay money to have more influence or pay platting fees.

The last few years we have been teaching the public how and when they should redress their issues and concerns. This fake issue was shot down by the people, those who showed up and those who couldn’t. It appeared for the time being, the elected board of directors heard the message.

On July 3rd we will need everyone to show up again to make sure the message was received and the Council does the right thing by getting rid of the fake problem. There is other work to be done.

POWER to the PEOPLE

 

Board of Ethics, Stehly asks to Petition, June 7, 2018

Sioux Falls Board of Ethics gave NO OPINION on Petition Gathering

I did not attend the meeting but was told by a foot soldier that the BOE told councilor Stehly they could not give her an opinion based on asking hypothetical questions. She did not tell them a specific petition drive she would be working on.

However she did argue that former councilor Staggers and Erickson have circulated petitions. Speaker of the House Mickelson lead a state wide petition drive and the county commissioners have circulated petitions in the past. The precedence is there. This isn’t rocket science.

It just sounds like they want to say NO but they need her to bring something forward solid so they can have a quasi-argument to say NO to.

Danielson writes guest column about ethics complaint

Bruce’s column appeared in today’s Argus Leader, read the whole column HERE.

The Home Rule Charter is our city constitution. In theory it is to protect us from abuse while giving local government more latitude to meet statutory needs such as fixing streets, utilities along with fire and police protection. I am a strong proponent of a balanced government structure, without authoritarians ruling the day or weak elected officials being pushed around. We need a balance.

1. The charter establishes a mayor to be elected by the people to lead the city government and its employees.

2. The charter created a city council to be a policy making body to set the rules for the mayor’s administration to follow.

3. To keep everyone on a straight and narrow path, the charter has a section called ethics to keep everyone in order.
The secrecy in SF city government is bad enough, but without a strong balance of ethics, we as citizens have NO recourse.