Entries Tagged 'Ethics' ↓

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

Was Attorney Jackley Hoodwinked to?

martin_jackley

Apparently one of our high ranking state officials doesn’t think the voters were hoodwinked;

“The voters of South Dakota spoke and they said there needs to be some level of change and I think that change ought to focus on an ethics commission,” Jackley said. “I don’t think we should necessarily be scared of that, we should embrace it.”

Marty would know about ethics and corruption in this state first hand, he investigated EB-5 and Gear Up. Is old Jackboots sending us subliminal messages?

What’s up with Theresa Stehly?

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The very complicated garden of the very complicated Theresa Stehly.

For the record, I did not get approval or have told Theresa I was going to write this post about her. These are just observations I have made throughout the past week from reading FB comments, comments on news sites, letters to the editors, call in radio shows and personal conversations with private citizens and local elected officials (past and present). Hundreds of people weighing in.

Theresa is the winner in all this, as well as all the citizens that admire her as an elected official, and frankly all the citizens of this city. There is one thing I have learned over the years with my friendship with Theresa, she cares about people, and sometimes that caring can be overbearing and may look self-serving, but most people don’t have a clue about some of the charitable deeds she has done for our community that never make headlines, and that’s ok. You should always be humble about your charitable deeds (someone should clue in Denny Sanford), but sometimes as an elected official those deeds overflow into the media, that cannot be overlooked or prevented and when that happens it seems other elected officials get butt hurt over the fact that another elected official is getting the spotlight.

A couple of letters to the editor spell out Stehly on a different level;

Know always that our city councilors are here for us to answer our needs and solve our problems.

Read that carefully, that is why we have elected ‘representatives’, not elected ‘dictators’. Trust me, after following the public’s commentary on this, they are very aware of who represents them on the council, and it isn’t Rex Rolfing. Just read this letter to the editor about his treatment of his fellow peer in front of the media and public in the lobby of Carnegie Hall;

While the Council Informational Meeting presumably remained in progress, Rolfing marched out to the Carnegie lobby and inserted himself uninvited into an interview of Stehly by a local print reporter. In the ensuing verbal exchange, Rolfing made a lecturing index finger gesture in Stehly’s face and aggressively demanded she be, quote, “Quiet!”

This is no way to treat your fellow peers. What most don’t realize is that while the council chair (Rex Rolfing) may think he has a lot of power and control over the other councilors, he does not, he has two main functions as chair, he gets to go to more meetings then them (and must be the communication of those meetings to the rest of the council, basically the council’s secretary) and he chairs meetings. Other then that, his vote and stature is equal to other councilors.

Some may argue this is a ‘sexist’ issue. I am not buying that, and Stehly has never brought it up, because frankly, I think Theresa could care less if one of her fellow peers is a pig. This is cut and dry bullying.

Theresa was right to bring this issue to the surface and Rolfing was wrong to try to stifle her. As many in the public have said, and I would agree, if anyone should be brought up on ethics violations it should be Rolfing.

Oink, Oink.

Bully Council Chair Rex Rolfing gets handed his A . .

If I were to say I haven’t known about what has been going on for awhile, I would be lying. In fact, I’ve known about this kind of (council) intimidation well before Huether even took office. When councilor Kevin Kavanaugh threatened to press charges against then mayor Munson who was running for a second term over middle of the night contract deal on Phillips to the Falls, he was brow beat by a group of ‘concerned citizens’ to back off. He did.

Since then, when councilors don’t play ‘reindeer games’ they get bullied and beat up. Theresa is just the latest casualty, but she wants this kind of intimidation to end;

“I have been bullied, intimidated and threatened. … I have been told not to talk to the media. I have been told not to advocate for the citizens,” she said while reading from a prepared statement.

As I have stated, elected officials are legally guaranteed by the US Constitution to 1st Amendment rights. In other words as long as they are not telling the public or the media about confidential contracts or voting on items they speak about (conflicts of interest), they are free to speak about the issues. When they use their free speech to benefit themselves or to sway votes or meetings, then they are in violation (Federal courts have ruled on this).

As far as I can tell, Stehly has not done any of those things. She has spoken honestly to the public and the media about issues facing our community. She has NOT used her speech to benefit herself or others. She is for transparency, period.

Ethics Meeting, August 10, 2016. Giftcards for Cops

The Sioux Falls received a “couple” of donations or was it 300? An interesting Board of Ethics meeting in late morning August 8, 2016 happened where two Sioux Falls churches wanted to do something nice for Police Department employees by giving them thank you cards with random dollar amount gift cards.

We attended because we wanted to show the people of Sioux Falls how the process works and to watch how certain participants worked. This came down to the police department employees were getting “discounted” dollars off meals at certain food joints in town. We don’t know who or where but after the Police Department fills their collective stomachs at the hospital cafes, they now can get discounted food at these select food joints. No ethics problem with this is there?

Cameraman Bruce was there so the rest of the town didn’t have to go. To the credit of a couple of the board members, it was not a hard decision to make in rejecting the cards.