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.
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.
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.
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.
I hope to have video up by tomorrow. You can read the ethics opinion request DOC: policegifts
The SF Police Department has a policy against receiving gifts (consumables, such as food) unless it is consumed on premesis (explains how they can stuff their faces at Avera).
The Ethics commission ruled they should return the gift cards they received from two local churches in appreciation for their service. While this may sound harsh, I agree with the ethics commission. I don’t think they should receive any monetary gifts. They get a paycheck for what they do, if that is not enough, they should talk to their union rep.
Mayor Mike Huether has announced two upcoming vacancies to the Board of Ethics.
The Board of Ethics initiates, receives, hears, and/or investigates complaints and renders advisory opinions or interpretations with respect to the application of ethics ordinances and Charter provisions of the City of Sioux Falls.
The Board is composed of five members who are appointed by the Mayor, with the advice and consent of the City Council. Each member serves a four-year term. The Board holds quarterly meetings, but additional meetings may be necessary if complaints or requests for advisory opinions are filed with the Board.
Interested persons should have a strong commitment to public service and possess balanced judgment, integrity, and professional training or experience that would ensure the ability to deal with complex and sensitive ethics issues.
Integrity, like when the mayor could not walk 100 feet to defend himself?
Do you remember the Sioux Falls city election April 14, 2015?
Do you remember the contentious nature of it?
Do you remember how the city government controlled the election debate?
Do you remember how the mayor was referred to the Board of Ethics for illegally using taxpayer resources to operate his campaign?
Do you remember the chair of the Board of Ethics was also referred to the Board of Ethics?
Lastly, do you remember how the City Attorney broke his oath and job description becoming the personal defender of the mayor?
How many of the questions could you answer with a “yes”? Like most people, you have moved on and forgotten these things. Like most people you have moved on.
The Sioux Falls Charter Revision Commission met on December 9, 2015 to discuss needed updates for the 2016 election vote. Once again Bruce Danielson was the only citizen to attend and also give public testimony during the Section 7 period. The room squirmed when he reminded or informed the Commission of the 2014 transgressions. He wanted the members to openly discuss the problems surround the unethical ethics process of the city of Sioux Falls. Once again, nothing is done because few in power care.
UPDATE: A reader identifies the person in the ad as Doug Rounds, Mike’s brother. I will admit, I was skeptical also if it was Mike, because the way this person ends sentences is different then Mike’s voice.
Not sure if it is him (towards the end of the ad, not the beginning speaker) but if it is, he is violating US Senate Ethics Rules (Pages 8-9; DOC;EthicsOverview_Booklet).This one sticks out;
May not allow name to be used by an entity providing professional services.
There may be a little wiggle room here if it is him. First off he doesn’t use his name (I am Mike Rounds trying to sell you insurance) though it is his agency. And the sell job is done by another announcer, but still a slippery place to be. I remember as sitting governor he did PSA’s for supplemental insurance (that his agency sells) those ads quickly disappeared after it was brought to his attention. These might just mysteriously go bye, bye to.
In their disdain for Councilor Staggers (at one point, Rolfing told councilor Staggers to go sit down who was presenting his resolution from the podium, let’s talk about decorum Rex, that was a real classy move) in reference to Kermit’s resolution to allow councilors to be committee members in their respective parties.
Rex seemed angry when reading his statement, which he should be, but it was entirely misdirected towards Kermit’s resolution. I joked not to long ago, Erpenbach and Rolfing would vote against a promoting World Peace resolution if it was Kermit’s resolution.
Rolfing was angry about conflicts, but not once mentioned the obvious and blatant conflict Dean Karsky has with the Chamber of Commerce, which does do business with the city, unlike the party committees. He also didn’t even bring up the mayor representing Obama as a Democratic Party delegate. That apparently wasn’t on the radar. Nope, because Karsky and Huether are not Staggers, and let’s admit it, that’s all their NO votes against the resolution by Erpenbach and Rolfing were about (they were the only two to vote against it, because you know, the rest of the councilors used common sense instead of angst while voting).
To be honest with you, they looked like fools singling out Staggers and Erickson last night, when every single one of the councilors and mayor have numerous conflicts of interest that are more detrimental to governance in this city then going to a convention for your party every couple of years.
Some people on the council need to grow up, or at least grow a brain.
Where’s Waldo Huether? (he’s hiding in the back row-click to enlarge)
I find it interesting that the Ethics Commission would find it Unethical for councilors Erickson and Staggers to be committee members for the Minnehaha County Republican Party, but say nothing about Huether being a delegate for Obama.
Like I have said, I find NO conflicts with either. Huether serving as a delegate for the Democratic party for Obama has NOTHING to do with him acting as our mayor, just like the committee positions for the Republican party have nothing to do with the city council.
If Huether wants to assist his party, as do Erickson and Staggers, that is fine, and I find no conflicts. But there is a conflict. Why are councilors being treated differently when reviewing ethical behavior? I think someone needs to ask an opinion about Huether being a delegate, just as the councilors were. All is fair in Love and War.
As for Karsky, he really needs to resign from either the Chamber Board or the City Council. The Chamber works too closely with the council, it is way to close for comfort and an obvious conflict of interest.
I find the Sioux Falls ethics commission living in a ‘Bizarro World’ lately, they find nothing wrong with a sitting mayor plastering his name on a facility that receives a half-million in public funds, and a city councilor sitting on the Chamber Board (Chamber receives public money) But, Boy Oh Boy, don’t be one of those evil committee people from the opposing party;
Councilors Kermit Staggers and Christine Erickson serve as precinct committee officers for the Republican Party. Nothing stops them legally from holding the position, but at least two ethics board members thought it was too close to being considered a public office.
Most people in the public don’t care what committees or clubs council people belong to. I certainly don’t. But let’s look at the facts;
1) It is NOT illegal for Staggers or Erickson to serve on these committees.
2) The city council position is a NON-Partisan position, and NO party committee can appoint or designate a city council or mayoral candidate. So their position on the committee is irrelevant when it comes to city government.
3) If the commission considers councilors Erickson & Staggers’ membership unethical, what is their opinion on Huether being a Democratic delegate for Obama? Doesn’t seem it is any different, since neither position affects municipal government.
In other words, they have NOTHING to do with each other, so NO conflicts of interest.
So someone asked me, “Who filed the opinion?” Actually the city attorney asked the councilors if this wanted to be reviewed. Remember, Staggers has been through this before, and it was thrown out after he hired an attorney and fought it legally.
The irony is that Swanhorst was on the ethics commission when this was first addressed, so it was a conflict of interest for him to be voting on this again, especially when this was determined already that it is a trumped up charge. Hey, Swany? Where are your ‘Ethics’ in this matter?
Also, only three ethics members voted, Staggers asked if this was legal? I believe there is five commission members, so is three considered a quorum?
Lastly, who is really behind this? The city attorney has a boss who directs him. And it ain’t Santa Claus.
I have spoken to Kermit about this, but NOT Christine, I do know that Kermit has NO intention of resigning as a committee person, and he shouldn’t.
The ethics commission is proving more and more that they are a joke, might as well have wind up robots from Zandbroz Variety making these decisions, at least they don’t have tom foolery running through their veins.
ADDITION: As for Karsky ‘recusing’ himself from any votes that involve the Chamber of Commerce, that will be a little difficult to do. Many businesses who are Chamber members come before the council weekly, whether they are asking for a contract in the consent agenda or a malt beverage license or a rezoning on development. Will Karsky recuse himself when these Chamber members are asking for permission to do something from the city and city council? Technically, that is what Karsky is saying. If that is the case, and if he is willing to stick to his promise of recusal, they might as well just put his chair in the other room, because he won’t be able to vote on too many things. Dean, you need to resign either from the Chamber Board or the City Council (I’m rooting for the city council, the Chamber can have you.)