Entries Tagged 'Ethics' ↓

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.

“Oh Bullsh*t”

Bruce got kicked out of the Board of Ethics meeting on December 22, 2017 he caused to happen. Why? This is what we always ask when secrecy is more important than the truth.

We all learned Sioux Falls city government based on secrecy enforced by the strong mayor form of rule.

There was a recusal problem leading up to the November 7, 2017 Sioux falls City Council meeting. Bruce asked several people that night why the recusal, then restudied the exhibits, talked with local media (to put it in context) and figured out a councilor did a boo-boo.

So what else could Bruce do but file an ethics complaint? Yup, another one was filed a couple of weeks after the fact on November 30, 2017 with the City Attorney’s office, for a review by the Board of Ethics. (there had been a deferral, later dropped by the developers)

This video is the result of the filing. The offending (in many other ways too) Councilor decided to keep she/he/it identity secret from the public. A “problem” now, before the filing, Bruce discussed the issue with many people, so it became an “open secret”. How can something publicly researched be made un-public? Like putting a genie back in the bottle, it can’t happen. Smart people can put two and two together and figure out what is happening if they want to know.

Add to the Friday board hearing fun, the accused in question decided to personally reveal to a local watchdog reporter who happen to be waiting patiently for the verdict. The Councilor’s “bullsh*t” comment was the confirmation.  Like other Sioux Falls executive sessions Bruce has helped to reveal over the past few years, it’s easy to figure out what is going on by paying attention, then watch who goes in and out of the room.

This same councilor has repeatedly made promises of ethics investigations when other members didn’t do as commanded. Let’s just say, Hmmm….

Interesting findings from this session:

1. Once the complaint paperwork gets filed, the filer can no longer present evidence or corrections, and

2. The filer is kicked out of the room, not able to defend the filing, and

3. When the issue involves a City Council member, the City Attorney must recuse. Does this hold true for a mayor, directors? (again, Hmmm…..) and

4. Most importantly, the ruling sets a precedent allowing illegal activities of a Sioux Falls official to not be unethical.

Catch the impact of number 4? Think about the myriad of questionable city activities our local reporters are bringing to light Christmas week 2017. Are these questionably legal maneuvers now ethical, not subject to ethics sanction?

Bruce has asked why a Home Rule Charter community cannot get help with open meeting violations. We now have a ruling from our Board of Ethics saying screw you for asking.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls Board of Ethics to meet Friday, Dec 22, 2017

UPDATE: Joe Sneve covers everything I knew about it HERE. Rex Rolfing recused himself from a vote on a zoning issue, but a couple days before the bone head emailed his fellow councilors telling them how to vote. It got dismissed because the ethics board said it was an open meetings matter and out of their jurisdiction (go figure). You would think after 7-1/2 years Rolfing would have learned something about procedure and Robert’s Rules. (here is video of the super secret ruling – crank the speakers)

It looks like a confidential complaint, so I am not sure how it will be handled. Not sure what it is, but usually these kind of complaints have to do with a city employee.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls Ethics Commission Meets Wednesday (10/25/2017)

UPDATE: The ethics commission will soon be giving a written advisory opinion on what happened today. A citizen asked if it was OK for Jill Entenman to be on the Charter Revision Commission with her husband, Jim Entenman running for mayor. IT WAS NOT a complaint, it was a request for an opinion on the matter. The ethics commission determined it was OKAY for Jill to serve on the CRC but she SHOULD recuse herself when they are voting on matters that involve revisions that have to do with the mayor or the mayor’s office or duties.

The commission is set to meet in the old city council chambers at city hall, 3 PM.

Someone asked an ‘opinion’ on the ethical importance of citizen board members and conflicts of interest with candidates that are running in the Spring election.

Since you can’t technically ask for an ‘opinion’ anymore, it will appear as a complaint (even though it is NOT).

Government Secrecy in closed settlements serves no one

Ellis says something I try to bang in people’s heads all the time, it’s your money, you are the boss;

Put aside the corruption issue. It’s a matter of good government. And good government is about understanding who the boss is. And the boss is you, the taxpayer.

YOU pay the money that gets secretly negotiated away in these confidential settlements to who knows who for who knows what. It’s YOU, the taxpayer, who pays the salaries of the public officials who negotiated the confidential settlements. They work for YOU, not the other way around. And besides the potential for abuse, confidential settlements also allow government officials to hide their incompetence from you, the employer. What if the government is negligent in some matter? They can hide it from the taxpayer with a confidential settlement.

You can bet that when Jamison’s bill gets its hearing, the defenders of this practice will argue that confidential settlements give local governments leverage to negotiate better deals. That they save taxpayer money.

They can say it all they want. But you know what they can’t do? Prove it.

That has been my argument for ages. They tell us it must be secret, but they can’t tell us why. Because if they did, a lot of them would be in jail.

We need to Repeal our State Legislature

Were voters hoodwinked by both sides on IM 22?

After the repeal today of IM 22, I started thinking about a rule I usually abide by, Never trust a politician (or politico) farther then you can see them (in person).

As you know, while I sympathize with the pathetic class the South Dakota Democrats have become, I still hold on to my independent roots, and for good reason. Neither party offers many solutions, they are here to protect themselves.

It seems to becoming clearer everyday that IM 22 is an example of when both parties decide to bake a cake together. Yeah, you know how that will turn out. Ever ate a sh*t sandwich?

While I still think the SD GOP is destroying our state with one party rule and the lack of any ethics reform or rules, I still think there are stinkers in the Democratic party.

No doubt, the repeal by the Republic party of South Dakota of IM 22 is stupid. But hey, they are stupid. They should have just let the Supreme Court decide, but they are so worried someone is going to take their bag of chips they didn’t want to hear the truth from them, they wanted to make their own rules.

Not such a bad idea really, when you know your power is going to be taken away from you after 40 years of iron fist rule. Just look at their heros, like that character Bill Janklow, who worked in public service most of his life and became a multimillionaire. Gee, wonder how that works? Cream of the crop ass-wipes, who wiped their asses with IM 22 today.

But, But, But.

What about all this talk about all the ‘outside’ and ‘dark’ money from the supporters of IM 22.

For the record, I think all political money is ‘dark’.

Which brings us to Mr. Weiland.

Why couldn’t he drive to Pierre and make his case? Really? Why couldn’t he?

Maybe it was about money? Was it Rick? Was it about money? Or was it about us?

Good question.

The Sunshine state still remains dark, very dark. Both sides of the coin.

Should we really be surprised that our Legislature and Governor want to gut IM22?

Time and Time again we have watched our state legislature, which mostly is controlled by Republicans, defy the wishes of the voters. They are doing it again with the attempt to repeal IM22.

We have seen the mountains of corruption over the past 40 years this party has wreaked on South Dakotans, and I believe, this is why IM 22 passed. We have had enough.

But when are South Dakota voters going to really get it? Most if not all of the corruption is being sewn on us by the Republicans in the state legislature. I want to be careful how I say this, I know many Republicans in government in South Dakota that are good people, but it seems the Republicans in the State Legislature are the cream of the crop when it comes to corruption.

Going to Pierre to essentially benefit themselves and their businesses, and without ethics laws, running rough shot over the citizens. You might say that not all of the Republican legislators are bad, and I get the argument, but as Stace Nelson pointed out on Belfrage today, the good ones are no better then the bad ones if the good guys don’t stop the bad guys in their party. In other words, if you are not a part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Also, as Stace points out, the corruption runs deep, if it isn’t suspicious suicides and murders over EB-5 and Gear Up, it’s sex scandals. What will it take to reign in this problem?

First off, the opposition party is ‘part of the problem’ they need to not only grow a spine, but they need to grow in numbers and overtake the snake pit that has become the SD GOP. This means educating voters that Republicans in the State House ARE the problem and need to be voted out and kicked out of Pierre, they are destroying our state. It’s obvious from this repeal, that they are happy with the status quo, and don’t want things to change. It takes more then measures, initiatives and referendums to stop them, it takes giving these clowns their walking papers.

As I told a local government official tonight, there is not much we can do as citizens when the SD GOP has held us hostage for so long. I can only blog so much about the despicable behavior of these characters. It will take massive education to get South Dakotans to send some of these whack jobs packing in 2018.

So at the end of the day, don’t be surprised if this repeal passes, you voted in these crooks, and when you have the fox watching the hen house, you should know what the results will be.

I wonder how the SD GOP Leadership’s boots felt up Wollmann’s ass over the weekend?

My butt feels a lot better then it did on Saturday and Sunday. Man! Mark and Dennis wear some big shoes!

Make no mistake, Mr. Wollmann cut and run just as soon as he could pull the boots out of his ass;

In a statement released Monday House leaders say, “The South Dakota State legislature, like any other organization, is comprised of human beings.  Consequently, we will experience human failure and imperfection.  Every legislator has an obligation to refrain from behavior unbecoming to the Legislature and inconsistent with maintaining the public’s trust.”

House leaders also say they will be meeting over the coming weeks with legislators, current interns and legislative staff to discuss any improvements they can make in the legislator and employee training.

Nice (BS) statement. Try to quickly sweep this under the rug before people start asking real questions, like how this has been going on since the 1960’s, or why a governor’s cabinet member was let go? The SD GOP is quick to bury their own when they are trying to cover up there scandalous institution. Besides, how can you justify repealing an ethics law the voters passed when you are being unethical yourself? Watch a bunch of scum.

Do we have this in Sioux Falls? Conflict of interest laws

So the Rapid City council has decided they would try to follow state law;

A new conflict-of-interest policy for the Rapid City government that will be considered by the city council tonight includes provisions outlining the need to disclose all financial interests annually, but also contains a secrecy clause for officials seeking an opinion from the city attorney about possible conflicts.

The conflict-of-interest policy is a direct response to changes to state law adopted by the 2016 South Dakota Legislature, according to the city attorney’s agenda item summary. Those changes require recipients of state grants to adopt and enforce a conflict-of-interest policy. The city receives several million dollars per year in state funding or in federal funding funneled through the state, the summary said.

The policy states that a conflict of interest may exist when an official or an immediate family member has a personal or financial interest clearly separate from that of the general public on a matter facing the official.

It covers officials who are elected or appointed to city boards, committees, commissions and positions within city government and states, “Such conflicts of interest may be financial or personal, direct or indirect, and the existence of a conflict of interest is dependent upon the unique facts of a particular situation.”

But if you watch the RC council meeting (FF: 1:21) you will notice it gets sticky when it comes to the secrecy clause, but still passes anyway. One of the council members has an issue with the ‘secrecy clause’ saying it is out of line with open government. The clause states;

Secret opinions from city attorney

If an official has a question as to whether a conflict exists, he or she may  seek an opinion from city attorney Joel Landeen on the matter. The opinion will not be made public unless a majority of those on the city council or whatever board or committee the official serves on votes to make it public.

“If any official desires assistance to determine if that official, or another official, has a disqualifying conflict of interest, the official may request an advisory opinion from the City Attorney’s Office,” the policy states.

“Such opinion shall be made available to all members of the city council, or the board, committee, or commission about which the opinion is provided, but shall not be available for public inspection unless a majority of the members of the city council or the board, committee, or commission to which the opinion is provided votes to make such opinion public.”

Like I said, though there was an objection by councilman Peters, it still passes. It reminded me of when they went after council woman Stehly without informing the public they were questioning her ‘conflicts’. Ironically, they were hunting Stehly down for ‘speaking’ out of turn with citizens instead of actually having ‘financial’ conflicts.

Notice the spaghetti never stuck to the wall with Stehly. The reason is citizens are more concerned if government officials are getting their bread buttered then if they are helping people by merely speaking to them.

Rapid City moved in the right direction, we will see if our fine elected officials (mayor and council) will adopt such transparent laws, or if they will continue to hide their personal investments.

These laws address the financial aspects (PDF documents of the law);

Conflict-RCC AND Cnflict-State