Entries Tagged 'Ethics' ↓
December 21st, 2013 — Ethics, Mayor Hubris, Mayor Subprime Mike Huether, Mike Huether
Is it time we cut our ties with Mayor Huether?
As I warned Sioux Falls voters and citizenry before the last mayoral election, I questioned Huether’s ethics since he worked for one of the WORST credit card companies in the nation;
New York consumers will get as much as $4.5 million in refunds from a South Dakota bank under a settlement of accusations that it used deceptive and illegal tactics to market credit cards to people with poor credit ratings.
Consumer Affairs reports that credit cards from First Premier can come with up to $180 in start up fees. Here’s a breakdown:
• Account set-up fee: $29 (one-time fee)
• Program fee: $95 (one-time fee)
• Annual fee: $48
• Participation fee: $72 annually
• Additional card fee: $20 (if applicable)
• Transaction fee for cash advances: Greater of $5 or 3% of the cash advance
• Credit limit increase fee: $25
• Return item charge: $25
• Auto draft charge: $5/$9 per draft
• Express delivery fee: $25 for cards sent Express Mail
• Copying fee: $3 per item
• Internet access fee: $3.95
REMEMBER, this all happened when Huether was president of marketing for First Premier Bankcard (around 2007-2009). For those of you who don’t know what a marketing department for a CC company does, here is a quick overview, THEY MARKET THE CREDIT CARD TO CONSUMERS.
I worked in the marketing department for a third party debt collector/CC company for 5 years, I was the person who designed the mailers. There’s rules; type sizes, logo usage, language, etc. Lots of attorneys mull over the stuff. Sometimes they get it wrong. Did we get in ‘trouble’ sometimes? Yes. It usually resulted in some fines (each state’s rules are different when it comes to credit card marketing laws). I think the largest fine we received was from California for around $10,000. Apparently our Credit Card logo was ‘too high’ on the letterhead and ‘deceptive’. You will find out when working in this industry that plantiffs (mostly their attorneys) and judges pretty much have a say in determining what is considered ‘deceptive’. No panel of experts, just their opinions.
Now look at the laundry list above from FP. It pretty much is about EVERY thing you cannot or want to do. But large companies like First Premier throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks. It stuck for awhile. It’s kind of like large packing plants paying EPA fines, if the profits can cover those fines, why stop violating?
But is what FP did ‘unethical’. Hmmmm. A hard question to answer, but I think you get to a point in your job that you do these kinds of things so much, it becomes second nature. I didn’t work in the industry long enough for it to wear me down, but I did work with some in management that found nothing wrong with what we were doing. Actually, we had a great product, and our lender’s troubles with the FDIC is what put us under. Our model was simple, we offered a discount on your debt repayment up front, we even got some positive national attention for what we were doing.
Back to Huether. I think Mike worked in the industry long enough that he became jaded. He was making himself and T Denny lot’s O’ Money. Billions. There is also ‘lurking’ questions about why Mike left FP. Did he leave because the water was getting too hot and he was in over his head? Did he quit because he just didn’t believe the marketing strategies he was implementing were ethical (this one I find hard to believe, since he has no problem with naming about every public facility in SF after his former employer) or was he fired because FP was getting into so much hot water over their marketing and business practices? I have heard conflicting tales, but I hope someone comes forward before the next mayoral election and tells us the truth.
Now fast forward to the present. There are things I have seen Huether do in his mayoral position that remind me of his position at FP. Recently, he felt there was ‘nothing wrong’ with investing in property development in the town he manages. It goes back to what I have said all along about ‘salespeople/marketers’ It’s all about closing the deal, and if you step on a few toes along the way, oh well. And if you don’t think Huether isn’t a dealmaker, here is a list of things he has sold the public on;
• His election
• The Events Center
• Union supporter
• Best damn storm cleaner upper in the world
• Man of faith
Okay, I could go on and on, but this is getting longer then I wanted it to anyway.
Huether promised voters he would be a changed man (wanted to ‘give back’ by serving as an elected official) and promised to run the city like a business. The problem with that is the CC industry robbed him of ever acting ethically in anything he did after leaving that industry, he has proven this by getting involved with investing in local property development, and secondly, the ‘business’ model he is using to rule this city is based on deception.
It goes back to the way Janklow ran the state, it’s okay to screw a few people over and make a little cashola on the side as long as you are getting things done. I don’t agree with that.
As a public servant, you must always have the concerns and needs of citizens come first, you must also give the citizens a great product/service for the taxes they pay, you should never lie or deceive the public to accomplish these things, and you should always be transparent and honest in everything that you do, and you should do all this without gloating, bragging or taking credit. You should also be able to take criticism when you fail, and learn from it. And most importantly you should be able to laugh at yourself when you are taking barbs.
I know, pretty humbling shit. But public service is a sacrifice not to be taken lightly. I will leave you with some quotes;
“The petty man is eager to make boasts, yet desires that others should believe in him. He enthusiastically engages in deception, yet wants others to have affection for him. He conducts himself like an animal, yet wants others to think well of him.” - Xun Zi
“He’s a fool who cannot conceal his wisdom.” – Benjamin Franklin
“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” – Matthew 19:24
December 16th, 2013 — Ethics, South Dakotans
April 28th, 2013 — Ethics, State Funding, State Legislature
Monty wrote an article about ‘conflicts of interest’ in the state legislature and how lawmakers ‘don’t see any problems’. LOL. Here are some great comedic snippets;
Sen. Mark Johnston, R-Sioux Falls, who works for Sanford Health, has been involved in many health care-related debates. He was active on the issue of whether South Dakota should expand Medicaid — something Sanford and the other big health systems in the state support — and opposing a health insurance reform the big hospitals opposed.
His experience in the health care industry is a strength, not a problem, Johnston said.
“There’s two sides to every issue,” he said. “Based on my experience, my knowledge, my skills, and the input from the folks that I represent, that’s how I (approach) the particular issue.”
Johnston’s employer, he said, is “irrelevant,” except that it gives him more knowledge to bring to debates.
“I look at it in … what’s best for the citizens, what’s best for the folks that elect me into office,” he said.
And if your side doesn’t hurt after that load of crap, listen to this one;
Rep. Tim Rounds said he took a back seat when the Legislature debated a bill to create a new class of artisan distillery licenses — on the request of two of Rounds’ brothers, Jamison and Tom.
“I voted, but I did not get involved with the bill itself,” he said. “I did not testify. I didn’t speak on it.”
. . . but you voted for it. That would pretty much mean you were ‘involved’.
Oh, and how do you like these apples;
South Dakota does not have an independent standing ethics board, though there are provisions to create ad hoc panels to consider alleged ethical violations. It’s up to each legislator to decide for themselves whether they face a conflict of interest, and if so what to do about it.
Meanwhile, many other lawmakers from both parties say the system work fine as it is.
Because, you know, how else will the SD GOP stay in power for another 35 years?
This last part is actually non-comediclicious;
“The counter-argument was that states with few of the structures to prevent or sniff out corruption might be less likely to find any corruption,” he said.
Whatever the size of a state, Witkin said preventing conflicts of interest is important.
“Avoiding conflicts of interest and avoiding voting in self-interest is a core value of accountability and transparency,” he said.
Duh. When you don’t have an agency that looks for it, it is easy to say it doesn’t exist. It’s kinda like falling off a ladder and breaking your leg and saying, “My leg isn’t broke, because I didn’t go to the doctor and get it x-rayed.” After watching the Gant/Powers thingy unfold last year, I am even more supportive of having conflict of interest laws put into place, not just for legislators but for state employees.
October 28th, 2011 — Ethics, Sioux Falls
Due to ‘Lack of Authority’?!
Citing a lack of authority in the matter, the city of Sioux Falls’ board of ethics Thursday threw out a complaint about the mayor’s involvement in pushing for voter approval of the events center.
So let me get this straight? The City attorney claims that the AG’s opinion in 1988 allows the mayor’s directors to make presentations. Some people complained to the current AG’s office. He says he has no authority, so he throws it back at the city attorney. An ethics complaint is filed, the board’s legal adviser, the city attorney excuses himself (I am assuming because he is a political appointee of the mayor) Then the board gets a private attorney to look into it. And after all that they say they have no authority to respond to the complaint so they throw it out!? Isn’t that your job? Unbelievable and spineless.
October 26th, 2011 — Ethics, Sioux Falls
Not sure, but I am guessing by the nature of the secrecy it is about the ethics complaint against the mayor. We know how this will go down in executive session.
Funny that the mayor isn’t holding a press conference to announce this meeting?
June 15th, 2011 — Ethics, Kermit Staggers
Just kidding. Kermit finally got a half-ass letter from the city that he was not unethical.
Former Sioux Falls city council member Kermit Staggers says he’s won a year-long battle with the city’s Board of Ethics.
Staggers says the board sent him a letter retracting their reprimand from last May. The board had reprimanded him on charges of holding another office while on the city council.
You can read the PRESS CONFERENCE and the documents here: kermit-ethics
That letter was shorter then the one I got about my library card being cancelled.
June 14th, 2011 — Ethics, Kermit Staggers
June 3rd, 2011 — Ethics, Jim Entenman, SF City Council, Sioux Falls
I could have predicted this one by licking my finger and sticking it in the wind;
SIOUX FALLS, SD – Sioux Falls city council member Jim Entenman does not have a conflict of interest when it comes to building an events center near the current arena.
That ruling Thursday from the board of ethics for the city of Sioux Falls.
I felt all along that it would be hard to prove a ‘potential’ economic benefit to Entenman, such as an increase in property value. I also don’t think the Board of Ethics is qualified to make unbiased decisions. Look at the witch hunt on Staggers. Another reason I talk about qualifications is because of some pre-meeting chatter I heard between two of the members before their last meeting. One member told another that Rex Rolfing was seeking an opinion (he did not go into detail) then the other member said, “Is he a city employee?” And the other member said, “NO! He is a city Councilor.” Where the other replied, “I did not know that.” It worries me a bit that a board that has to give legal opinions to elected officials, doesn’t even know who those elected officials are.
April 21st, 2011 — Ethics, Sioux Falls, Staggers
As you may already know, the SF Ethics Board has been reprimanded (only as a board, not individually) for wrongfully accusing councilor Staggers of ethics violations.
Here is a list of the actual board members;
Mike McKnight (lawyer), Howard Paulson (lawyer), Bill O’Connor, Mari Robbennolt, and Bob Swanhorst. Please note that two members of the board are lawyers by profession. This information is available on Siouxfalls.org.
R. Shawn Tornow was the lawyer from the City Attorney’s Office who advised the Ethics Board when the Board was dealing with his case.
The case began when two union leaders from the Fraternal Order of Police filed a ethics complaint against him with the Board of Ethics on April 8, 2010, five days before the first mayoral election on April 13th. The Board eventually determined that there was no merit to the accusations. They were truly frivolous claims.
This should have been the end of the matter, but it wasn’t because now the Ethics Board on their own and with the assistance of Tornow came up with two of their own ethics claims against him which he first learned about at the Ethics Board meeting of May 4th. Kermit had his lawyer with him and they were both surprised how baseless these allegations were.
The first allegation was that Kermit was soliciting city employees in a letter that he sent to city employees. The sentence that they supposedly got him on read as follows: “As a citizen, any suggestions that you may want to communicate to me can be done in the absolute strictest confidence by contacting me at my home phone, 332.0357.” In the letter he never asked for money or for them to even vote for him. The purpose of the letter was to simply inform city employees about his views on city government.
The second allegation contended that by serving as a Republican committeeman while a member of the City Council was a violation of a provision against holding another publicly elected office.
In a nine page-brief to the Board of Ethics Kermit’s lawyer demolished these allegations by saying that the act of soliciting deals with asking for money which he never did and that the holding of another elected office by the Board’s interpretation would have prevented him from serving as an elder in his church because he was publicly elected to that office. Obviously, the prohibition on holding another elected office deals with holding another publicly elected government office.
Despite Kermit’s lawyer’s brief, two days before he ceased being a city council member he received a confidential letter in the mail saying that he had been privately reprimanded by the Board of Ethics because of soliciting city employees and holding another publicly elected office. Kermit was instructed to keep this letter confidential. The Board’s issuance of a private letter of reprimand was an abuse of power because the Board of Ethics does not have this power; this power belongs to the City Council.
Eventually, he was successful in demonstrating that the Board of Ethics had violated the state’s open meetings laws, and for that the Board received a letter of reprimand. Now he is trying to get the Board of Ethics to retract their illegal letter of reprimand against him.
December 15th, 2010 — Ethics, SD, SD Attorney General
I saw this as a political football from the beginning. Funny how no one found a (Extreme Right Wing Conservative) Republican Attorney General, who was running for office, was playing politics with the food for votes fiasco;
“I think this was a clearly partisan charge from the beginning. The Republicans know you can make a charge five or six weeks before election day and the investigation is going to take several months. They can make a charge, make it seem like fact regardless of the fact that no laws were broken. They pretend that it was and use that allegation to scare voters.”
Nesselhuf said there is history of these kinds of “bogus charges,” and it probably will be seen again in elections.
While I don’t agree with the food exchange, I doubt a donut, a hot dog or a bowl of chili is going to convince people to vote for a certain candidate. In fact that assumption is freaking absurd and as Michael Jackson would say, “Ignorant.”
Lucas Lentsch, executive director of the state Republican Party, said he expects the Legislature to weigh in when next year’s session begins.
“Vote-buying or food-for-votes will more than likely be a policy discussion of the 2011 South Dakota state Legislature,” Lentsch said Tuesday. “I fully anticipated that there would be an investigation of some sort, the attorney general and U.S. attorney have rendered their decisions, I just expect it to continue to evolve and be a policy discussion.”
It seems Lucas just can’t let it go. While I agree there should be some legislative intervention, Lucas seems to think there should be an investigation. I guess it wasn’t good enough that his party beat the living daylights out of the Dems, he seems hellbent on punishing them even more. Bring it on, your party was participating in the practice also, and that is why the charges were probably dropped.
“My goal is to make sure that the integrity of our elections is not jeopardized by any activities of different groups or individuals for that matter,” Gant said. “We’re going to look at the language, we’re going to look at reports from the attorney general and the U.S. attorney and I want to do everything I can to provide the legislature with information on how we can best ensure that we have fair and legal elections.”
This coming from a guy who created a fake issue during the election about the Feds taking over state elections. This was clearly about sticking it to the Dems right before an election. Maybe there should be laws enacted that prevent political parties from creating controversies about the opposite party right before an election. I’m sure that would make Kermit Staggers very happy.