Entries Tagged 'Ethics' ↓

SF Board of Ethics meets again tomorrow at 2:30 PM

Should be a fun one; (PDF DOC: 4-23-Agenda-boe)

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Citizens for Integrity ‘Ethics complaint’ against the Mayor’s State of the city address thrown out due to frivolousness

 

citizens-for-integrity

Actually it was thrown out because the ethics board and the city attorney that advises them are appointed by the mayor, but why get into semantics?

Since I was the closest thing to a journalist covering this meeting (maybe some AL person was in a closet), here is my rendition of events (hopefully Mr. Danielson will chime in).

It all occurred today at the old city council chambers at city hall at 4 PM. Basically, Mr. Danielson filed an ethics complaint a few days ago that the mayor was in violation for using the State of the City address as a campaign stump speech.

The meeting started with a decision whether or not to have the meeting in open or in executive session. I will commend the Ethics Board for their ONLY good decision today, they decided to leave it in the open (probably since there was no media there).

Reasons they considered throwing out the complaint;

• Danielson filed the complaint one minute after the address started.

• Other mayors have had the address before an election (Munson) which inferred precedent.

• It is against ordinance to submit a press release to the media about an ethics complaint you have filed.

While the ethics commission mulled over all of the reasons, they ultimately threw out the complaint because of #1. Which is bogus, because part of the reason the complaint was issued was because of the timing of the address (which we will get into) not just the content (which we predicted would be a stump political speech, and it was).

Bruce made his case as to why this was a political speech, and not an address. The commission tried to defend the timing of the address, and said past mayors have done the same thing before an election (Munson) but this was not about Munson. While this discussion was going on, I pulled those minutes that were provided to the public before the meeting started. I noticed that in the first 3 years of Huether’s reign that he did his addresses in mid April and May, not in March, I quickly walked up to Bruce and handed him the evidence.

The commission didn’t have much to say about this except that the Mayor has full discretion as to when he wants to make the address.

Then we went into the Power Point presentation that the mayor used during his address. A city employee witness testified that it was common to use a PP during one of these addresses, and he was correct. Then the commission argued that nothing in the address was anymore then typical ‘happenings’ in the city. One of the members (Gregory LaFollette) even said that anything elected officials do is political (I guess he doesn’t understand the difference between ‘political’ and ‘campaigning’).

At this point, a motion had already been made, and Bruce’s testimony was over, so I asked Bruce to request public testimony. They approved his request.

I approached the bench and informed the commission that an address by either a mayor, governor or president not only talks about achievements but states where we can improve. I said besides road construction nothing in the PP presentation talked about improvements in our community (I referenced crime, hungry school kids and low wages). I told them it was a blatant ‘Stump Speech’ specifically timed before an election because of the lack of mentioning ‘improvements’ to our community and the several slides that included the mayor’s rosy opinions about this town.

They had no choice but to throw out the complaint based on the timing of Bruce’s complaint (which as I said above, really doesn’t matter, because the timing of the Mayor’s address is the real reason for the complaint, not just the content).

It ended as I suspected. And I laughed. Another predictable day in SF city politics.

Mr. Ethical, Props and all

Huether with sign

Two things. Most of the year it is too cold to walk anywhere, and when it is warm, it is the only option for the working poor.

City Hall at 9th and Main was a bit empty at 1:30pm Wednesday. The City Attorney’s office was pretty quiet also. Where were they? Try Carnegie Townhall, the mayor was giving a political speech on the City’s dime and time, again. I walked into the Council Chamber and hizonor was giving his standard campaign stump speech with a room full of city employees in attendance. I wonder how much money wasted on this political event? Wait, it’s tax money being wasted, yours and mine. On top of this, the city’s website was being used. Channel 16 CityLink was also being utilized. This looks a lot like a major waste of taxpayer money being used to help hizonor have some publicity for his campaign.

It is an amazing process for the average citizen to file an ethics complaint in the City of Sioux Falls. Try and find a brave attorney to assist you in the research, then the filing. I have a great deal of respect for many attorneys and always will. It takes a great deal of patience and persistence to find code close to what is needed to make officials stop, then take notice, then correct their course. We have been attempting to help City Hall and the annexes personnel understand limits instilled in the US Constitution, State of South Dakota Constitution and the Sioux Falls Home Rule Charter.

This city government constantly rules by loophole. We have had to stand back and watch this action for too long. The Mayor’s Learning & Listening sessions are filled with his political views until he is reminded not to be political during city sponsored events. Since I prepared this complaint, word is reaching me, a double, super-secret, buried in the basement floor, under the rug in the back corner rule was broken in this submission process. We are trying to make changes to the way this government is operated and it is time to make them accountable.

If this complaint is rejected because we did not do all the steps exactly right, I guess we will have to keep trying until we do get it right. You know come to think of it, there are so many ethics issues we are uncovering with the current administration, each will need to be ranked in descending order of importance. This has been a great lesson in City Charter rules and lack thereof. With this new found knowledge, it looks like we could keep the city attorney’s office quite busy. Oh wait, a few of these might require outside legal counsel.

READ THE FULL DOCUMENT: Citizens for Integrity Press Release 2014-03-26.pdf – Adobe Acrobat Pro Extended

Press Release • March 26, 2014 • Bruce Danielson, Citizens for Integrity

Today I have filed on behalf of Citizens for Integrity an ethics complaint based on:

Sioux Falls Code § 38.021 EXPENDITURE OF PUBLIC FUNDS TO INFLUENCE ELECTION OUTCOME PROHIBITED

Established Sioux Falls Code, South Dakota law, Administrative rules, Executive Orders and customs have restricted the use of Sioux Falls City resources to enhance a political campaign. Mayor Mike Huether today is violating these long standing guidelines.

From the city website:  < http://www.siouxfalls.org/central-services/multimedia-support/citylink/programs/regular-programs/ask-the-mayor.aspx >

According to City policy (Executive Order 12-24), candidates for any elective public office are not eligible to appear on CityLink for 90 days prior to the next municipal election (April 8, 2014). This City policy ensures candidates do not use public funds for their own personal promotion. The policy states that candidates may appear on CityLink “if the appearance of the candidate is incidental to presentation of the subject matter or in coverage of official City meetings such as City Council or Council Informational Meetings.” These types of incidental appearances also may include events like news conferences and ribbon cuttings.

After January 7, 2014:

  • The “Mayor’s Listening and Learning Sessions” will continue to be held at various locations across the city but will not be recorded or televised on CityLink.
  • “Ask the Mayor” programs will not be recorded or televised on CityLink.
  • “Inside Town Hall” will continue to be recorded and televised but will not include candidates for any elective public office.

Today we once again have our Mayor abusing his office for personal gain. The circumventing the established nonpolitical

City Government Transparency?

Transcript of Public Testimony last night:

My name is Bruce Danielson, a resident of Sioux Falls and chairman of Citizens for Integrity.

I am here tonight to report on the two ballot advocational meetings held so far, sponsored by the City of Sioux Falls. These biased presentations are designed to confuse the voters and harm the Initiative and Referendum process.

Prior to the first video last night, city director Don Kearney read a statement attributed to the city attorney. The statement reiterated the s approval of the video presentations.

After the first video was completed, I read a statement for those in attendance to explain why we disagree with the presentations and to ensure an open dialogue.

After the ending of the presentations last night I was approached by a city employee, Shawna Goldammer. I was informed my disclaimer would be addressed. I took it as “accommodated and silenced”.

We are partaking in the citizen’s debate on issues citizens worked very hard to bring before the voters. We will continue and will not be silenced.

We are suspicious of the city involvement in the ballot measures just as we have been suspicious of the Events Center naming. The EC naming has been a curious process. It has many different aspects never made clear. On SouthDacola.com last night the timeline became clearer why we the people have not been able to trust the word of this city government.

Prior June 12, 2012: The city doesn’t renew their naming contract with Superlative.

June 12, 2012: Director Smith Talks about hiring Legends to help secure a title sponsor in a council informational meeting.

July 12, 2012: Sanford Health BUYS the domain: DENNYSANFORDPREMIERCENTER.COM

July 24, 2012: Director Smith tells the council in an informational he is to having a title sponsor, and will bring it to the council..

August 2, 2012: EC title sponsor announced, city council is told 30 minutes before the announcement.

t have transparency on this The mayor used to work for First Premier, and people in the community are closely associated with Sanford. Maybe we really got a good ll never know because we never had any ”

We would like to know why this council has not taken their legislative responsibilities to heart and let your constituents know why this curious process was allowed to happen.

We question the motives behind the activities bringing the ballot issues to the people. The issues we have before us are based on our ability to question motives and directives. We have a voice in this election and its aftermath and we are here to stay involved.

Is Mayor Huether ethical?

cutty

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.

LARGER ARTICLE:

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

• Snowgates

• 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

SD’s corruption report card

reportcard
Once again we nailed 49th! Woot! Woot!

Is this a satire piece?

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.

Board of Ethics complaint thrown out

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.

Ethics Board meets tomorrow to talk about . . . ?

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?

Kermit has been freed!

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.