Entries Tagged 'Minnehaha County' ↓

Where was City Councilor Huether last night?

I’m not the only one asking the question. Several public officials asked me if I had any insight :) Besides Mike, Commissioner Bender was the only one that was not present with the two boards. Jean had a conflict of interest because her husband’s company has an appeal pending with the solar farm land, or something like that, ironically something I warned the Commission about when they were considering her for the commission, but hey, what do I know, I’m just a cranky blogger.

The mayor often calls himself a city councilor, and he should be available for tie-break votes. So why was he a no-show? Did he have a conflict of interest also? Bender fessed up with her conflict, will the mayor?

SF City Council (Mostly Rolfing) bullies Minnehaha County Commission in denying solar energy permit

And the ironic part about it all, the permit was OUT of the city limits. The city council should not have even been voting on the project.

I have never seen two bodies of local government at the utmost level of immaturity.

Maybe City Attorney Loop-hole Fiddle-Faddle needs to give them a lesson in ‘civility’.

Watch the whole thing here. The arguments at the end are rich. The pure ignorance of the permitting process and attaining investors went straight over their heads. I even got to go up and poke the eyes of the Koch Brother-Teabagger dirty energy lovers and all of their BS rhetoric.

The only two members of the boards that showed any inkling of intelligence on the issue were a Staunch Conservative and a Staunch Liberal, Staggers and Barth.

If you wanted to pour yourself a big cup of ignoramus, they were serving it at Carnegie Hall tonight.

Election Review Committee, 2/20/2015

YouTube Preview Image

Minnehaha County Election Review Commission reports sloppiness in data files

Chair, Bruce Danielson has been doing data research on the voting lists AND votes cast, here are some of his early findings he presented in the meeting today;

Since December we have been researching the voting process in Sioux Falls, Minnehaha County and the state of South Dakota. Each member of this committee has special skills and knowledge they have used as part of these discussions.

With this committee’s knowledge, my assignment was to research the data side of our voting process. I could go into a great deal of detail and bore each of you with too much detail at this time but won’t.

I have managed IT shops, done data recovery, plus studied and mined data for over 30 years. This data and process examination brought to light many weaknesses in the way our data has been compiled, processed, updated and saved. I have been disappointed with every government level involved. Every office involved with this data played its part in the process failures.

My Political Science and History degree gave me an insight into the processes we examine. The many years being involved in the political side of the voting process and my natural skepticism of modern voting systems brought me to the Minnehaha County resolution board for the first time in 2012. I needed to see it up close and personal.

The City of Sioux Falls petition drives in 2012 and 2013 gave me the need to buy voter lists to verify our signatures. The data issues I found in these files caused me to take a deeper look at the data side of the election process. The first files were created in late August then September of 2013 and February 2014. I was appalled by the sloppy nature of this data. In February 2014 I attempted to contact the Secretary of State’s office to inform them of the problems but no one would return my telephone calls. We learned to work with the hundreds of bad addresses we found.

As part of this report I yesterday loaded the December 2012 pre-conversion AS400 data used for setting up South Dakota’s TotalVote database. It is a database of old design but the data was fairly clean and the street directions appear to be correct (N, S, E, W).

Using data supplied by the Secretary of State’s office this week, my research has found at least 1087 repairs performed to correct some of the address issues. I have found more and I will be supplying these reports to the Auditor’s office for continuing updates.

The 2014 City of Sioux Falls and June primary elections were held using the same terrible data I was supplied with. I am not picking on this election but it is the most detailed information I have to analyze.

With this data research still in progress I have found a few highlights and questions needing attention:

  1. With all the bad data found, how could anyone do a voter purge in 2013 and feel secure it was correct? Did anyone controlling data the care?
  2. Who audited the purge to verify the process was correct before the action?
  3. How could data be modified and uploaded into a new database system without any quality control?
  4. Who wrote the procedures for the Driver’s License office and Department of Social Services to use to register voters? Where are the signer’s cards?
  5. There were approximately 121,000 Minnehaha County (including 97,341 Sioux Falls) records uploaded into TotalVote beginning in December 2012. By September 2013 there were 110048 records supplied to me of which 94,213 were for Sioux Falls. These records were uploaded with 385 different dates for the first 9 month period of operation. To use this file, I corrected this field to show 181 dates. A difference of almost 200. This encompassed thousands of voter information records with field errors.
  6. We had reports of people not being registered to vote any longer, how do people verify?
  7. What were the voting histories of those purged voters? (i.e., did they tend to be voters with long-standing histories of regular voting?) We don’t know.
  8. We have been asked what the demographics were and could they be independently verified?
  9. Do we know how many of those purged voters re-registered before the general election?
  10. Are there any non-malicious, purely data-based characteristics that could explain the update errors or purges as a “fat-fingered” error (e.g., could the system have purged voters based on the table issues, length of name, alphabetical sequence of name [some systems freak out and it deleted all names between J and M], birth month, day or year, precinct number, etc.)?
  11. Will the voting center data collected be included in the voter history table for the historical ability to audit? If the Auditor’s office is to be an Absentee polling place shouldn’t they be using the epoll book like the other voting centers?
  12. I asked for complete files with deceased, purged and moved data so I could balance the auditable information. The City Election comparison data is showing the date of 04/08/2014 with 31,676 votes cast vs. 31,957 reported. It would have been easier to audit with the full database.
  13. I have studied the City of Sioux Falls cityward field in both Lincoln and Minnehaha County data each uses different identification. Why does this matter? How about voting centers having different ballots styles to choose from and the epoll book not recognizing the correct cityward to give out correct ballot.
  14. Sioux Falls precinct data (prename) is identified by both counties differently. (SIOUX FALLS 1-11 vs. PRECINCT-0110)
  15. We heard many stories of people getting the wrong ballots, unusual voting patterns and being excluded from voting, the press stressed a few of them. I believe some of the causes start in the SOS TotalVote system.
  16. The street master system in Sioux Falls does not make not systemic sense. It requires the user to make assumptions not always based on principles of logic.
  17. In an attempt to understand the county / city GIS system, a file was supplied for me to work with. In a matter of minutes almost 600 errors were found. These were turned in for repair.
  18. The city, counties and state have been or are investing in major technology upgrades but seem to be forgetting to have audit paths as part of this process.

As part of our final report, we will be breaking this down further with more detailed recommendations. At this point every office I have dealt with in this process has a share of the blame for the issues we have had here. Thank you for your time. The floor is open to questions.

Minnehaha County Election Review Committee

If you have the time, I encourage you to attend


10:00 a.m. Friday, February 20, 2015

Commission Meeting Room

County Administration Building

I. Call to Order

II. Approval of Agenda

III. Approval of Minutes from February 6, 2015 Meeting

IV. Opportunity for Public Comment

V. Auto-Mark Demonstration

VI. E-Poll Book Demonstration

VII. Total Vote/B-Pro/ERM Report Discussion

VIII. Old Business

IX. New Business

X. Adjournment


Appalling Lack of Transparency in Local Government lately

I know what you are thinking, not any more than usual in South Dakota, which really doesn’t have that many laws protecting the citizen’s right to information, heck, and even if government is found doing something wrong our recourse with ethics law is non-existent.

So that best I CAN do is point out the latest assault on South Dakota Democracy and lack of transparency;


SB166 was ‘tabled’ after Sen. Corey Brown ‘claimed’ people were cursing at pages. I guess my question is “Why were they answering your phone anyway?” But the worst part about the situation was that several people showed up last Friday and sat through hours of pointless testimony so they could speak about the bill. But Senator Brown didn’t allow it, he felt there wouldn’t be an ‘intellectual’ conversation about it. Yeah, the two main opponents of the bill who showed up to testify were former state legislator and current Minnehaha County Treasurer Pam Nelson and Sioux Falls Petition Queen, Theresa Stehly. I have a feeling Brown feared an ‘intellectual’ conversation. (Bob Mercer wrote and interesting article about the I & R process: I&R History – Bob Mercer


I really think they strive at looking more ridiculous by the day. For years parents and teachers have tried to work with administration and school board members on a school start date and have been IGNORED. Now all of sudden after thousands of signatures have been collected and the measure being put on the ballot, the school board wants to ‘compromise’.

This isn’t the first time the school board has pulled this (sick leave graduation, pledge of allegiance and substitute teacher pay come to mind).

You look foolish, childish, hypocritical, out of touch and quite ignorant. Morrison’s comment today in the Argus Leader says it all when he exclaims, “It isn’t transparent enough, apparently.” You think? DUUUUUHHHHHG?!

Let voters decide in April because after wasting 5 years of their time trying to work with your body they have decided it is easier to collect 6,000 signatures and have an election.


After 29 applicants come forward to apply for the empty commission seat to be appointed, the county administrators (non-elected) picked the five finalists (for the commission) and shred the applications. Then the county commission picks (in private) the appointee and votes for them in a poorly publicized public meeting where no questions from the public were asked. It was the worst display of closed government I have seen with the county in years. If I was Commissioner Bender I would be embarrassed of how I was chosen.


I know, where to begin on this one? So I will narrow down to three;

-We have no idea what is going on with the EC siding. Who will pay to fix it? Will it get fixed? Nothing. In fact every time they do release a little information about the project, they go back on the promises made.

-Ambulance service provider contract. This has been handled so poorly I think the whole process should be scrapped and start from the beginning. If you have a little free time before the meeting tonight to approve the contract I suggest googling some names involved with the selection committee, Paramedics Plus, Fitch, etc. etc. It is so insidious you would think we chose a Hueterrite colony to run our ambulance service.

-The indoor swimming pool cost overruns. Besides being lied to over and over again about the project, starting before the election, there are a ton of unsolved mysteries here. Has the VA given the city an MOU about using the park for indoor aquatics? How do we plan to pay the levee bonds back in a few years since we are using the Federal repayment for the ‘cash’? If I was a city councilor I would vote against the cost overrun based solely on the lack of transparency. Why vote for a budget that you have been lied to about?

As a citizen and a blogger I will continue to watch my local government, but with them all misbehaving, it is getting harder every day to keep up with the secrets and rumors.

UPDATE: If you were following the live tweets from Huether’s YPN luncheon today, he makes some interesting statements about people who question the transparency of the city (click to enlarge) he also talks about the Super Walmart that WILL be built on the Southside of town.


Darrin Smith gets Tifilicious at the County Commission meeting

YouTube Preview Image

(starts at 20:30)

Funny how the commission gets to see this presentation before the council – or at least I can’t recall the council getting the presentation yet?

Darrin explains TIFs before the new TIF presentation. While he is correct that TIFs don’t cost taxpayers up front (even though we are footing the bill to administer them) we are losing property tax revenue for several years. Basically the developers are paying themselves property taxes and using the money to pay for the development.

Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz getting a lot of ‘assistance’



Okay, I know that Bob recently had to undergo some very painful surgery, and there are people in his office that are retiring and need replaced, but with a county that already has budget difficulties, doesn’t it seem odd that we are paying Bob $87K a year (to do his job) a new employee $76K a year to help Bob do his job, and a 10% differential to an existing employee to help train the person that will be helping Bob do his job.

Next time the County Commission gets into a debate over replacing a $300 lawnmower, maybe they need to take a look at the auditor’s office employee compensation.

MC Election Review Committee Videos

This is from the last meeting January 16.

The first is a demonstration of the tabulation machines, the second is the meeting.

Election Review Commission to meet again this Friday

I would like to thank Robert Wilson with the county administration for having a change of heart and including me on the press release email list!