Entries Tagged 'Minnehaha County' ↓

The Sun may shine a lot in Sioux Falls, but dark clouds loom over our government offices

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It’s Sunshine Week, or at least that’s what our local newspaper is telling us. They have been having fun setting up ‘scenarios’ when it comes to closed government in our state and city, but scenarios are not necessary, our closed government is all around us and not something to pretend about;

City of Sioux Falls

– The city council and public still have not received a contractor list of who built the Events Center. The council has been asking directors and the mayor for this list for almost two years.

– The Event Center siding consultant report has still not been released to the public or the council. In fact we have been told very little with the year deadline for a resolution looming in August. Officials with SMG and the city building department have said that the building is ‘water tight’ and the bent up siding makes the building look ‘interesting’. What will be ‘interesting’ is to see who will pay to fix the mess.

– Nobody is quite sure how many developers have been denied TIF applications (by the mayor’s office) over the past 27 months. Speaking of TIF’s one wonders if the mayor is picking winners and losers based on his personal investments with developers? Good luck finding out, the mayor doesn’t have to disclose his development investments with the public.

-The city council was asked to vote on the ambulance contract without seeing the scoring procedures or criteria and essentially created a monopoly in the city limits with little transparency in the process.

-We have NO idea what is going on with the RR relocation project, a project that will potentially cost Federal taxpayers $30 million dollars.

-While a proposed indoor aquatic center gets smaller and gets more expensive there has been no word as to why and where all the amentities promised before the election disappeared to AND we still don’t have and MOU on the Quit Claim deed from the VA, but the city attorney says he is ‘working on it’.

Minnehaha County Commission

-Besides the fact the appointment process for John Pekas’ replacement was behind closed doors, the appointee comes into question, Jean Bender, wife of major Sioux Falls developer, Michael Bender, and conflicts of interest. Especially after the joint city council and commission recently denied a CUP for a solar development farm that Mr. Bender and his group were appealing. Jean was not in attendance to the meeting, but one wonders about future zoning issues concerning her husband’s business? This isn’t like a county sheriff’s wife is running a city owned café, there is a heckuva a lot more at stake here then ice cream cones and turkey wraps.

Sioux Falls School Board

-Now that they have the future Superintendent list down to six finalists, the public still is not able to vet the finalists in a public forum. This coming from a school board that only listens to the public when a referendum is threatening them or if they are getting death threats. And even with the looming election they are skating on thin ice with state election law by promoting opposition to the late start date using teachers and administrative staff during business and school hours which is against state campaign laws.

As you can see from these ‘few’ examples, there is no reason to setup scenarios of the lack of transparency. It’s very dark in Sioux Falls, and the sun isn’t coming out anytime soon and neither is the truth.

Final Minnehaha County Election Review Commission Meeting

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Minnehaha County Commission application process

I started thinking about this the other day, and not to beat a dead horse, but I noticed that my rejection letter I received for my attempt at being on the county commission was signed by the chair.

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So I wondered, if the county commission didn’t have a part in picking the five finalists, how is it that the chair was privy to the 29 applicants, apparently she knew who they all were (which is fine) because she signed the rejection letters.

My point is, if the commissioners (and another commissioner confessed to me that they did know who all the applicants were) were privy to ALL of the applicants, why wasn’t the public?

We can cry all we want about running transparent and accurate elections in the county, but when we appoint someone, that process should be transparent also.

 

Minnehaha County Election Review Commission Recommendations

Here is the abbreviated 3 pages of recommendations; (DOC: MCERC)

It seems the root of many of the problems are the communications between the Secretary of State office and the counties.

We won’t miss you Jason.

COMMITTEE MEETING SCHEDULED FOR FRIDAY, MARCH 6, 2015

The Minnehaha County Election Review Committee will meet at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 6, 2015 in the Commission Meeting Room of the County Administration Building located at 415 N. Dakota Avenue in Sioux Falls.

The meeting is open to the public.

I have watched all the meetings so far and have discussed with Chair Danielson some of the recommendations he expects to put in the final report, and am excited for it’s release tomorrow.

Rumblings about joint County/Council meeting

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There has been some discussion about whether the denial of the solar farm CUP permit last week during the Minnehaha County & Sioux Falls city council joint meeting was even legal? Why? Some motions were not voted on.

Not sure what will be done, but will be interesting to watch.

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

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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.