Entries Tagged 'Open Meetings' ↓

Rex Rolfing continues to be a stalwart supporter of closed government

Rex fears the minions will get the keys to the castle, so he has to try to kill the messenger of truth;

I am deeply troubled by Councilor Theresa Stehly’s recent letterto the editor titled, “Secrecy in golf management selection a concern.” Unfortunately, this letter is a classic example of a politician stirring the pot in order gain nonstop publicity in our local media.

Publicity? Stehly has two and half years left on her council term and she is NOT running for mayor, what publicity is she seeking? The only thing Stehly continues to publicize is her support for open government, 100% of the time. It was her campaign issue that won her her seat.

The RFP process reduces the risk to those who compete in the process by protecting the proprietary information of those who are unsuccessful.

When doing business with the public and receiving public money for your services your proprietary information is NO longer private, it becomes public. If those who seek public contracts don’t understand that or agree to those terms, they have the choice NOT to participate in the process. It really is that simple.

Publicizing unsuccessful proposals would severely limit those willing to participate if any thus reducing competition and driving up costs to the taxpayers.

I actually believe it would have an opposite affect. If competition can see who is competing and their proposals it will only drive them to put together a better and more fiscally prudent proposal. It would actually not only save taxpayers money but we would get better services. We found this out with the Pavilion window replacement contract. Once the initial bid was discovered to be inadequate competitors were able to under bid it and save taxpayers thousands of dollars. Closed bids and committees only give us one option, a piss poor way to do business.

As a person who works as an estimator I and am consistently wanting to know what my competition is charging so I can be more competitive. In private business sometimes that information is hard to get, but don’t think we don’t seek it out. I have done government bids throughout the country for states, municipalities and the Federal government and we are always told what the competing bids and offers are at the end of the day. Rolfing’s analogy of local government RFP’s is certainly NOT the norm because it defies that whole nature of free enterprise, competition and a the democratic process. He is delusional, as usual.

I would like to conclude my letter by recognizing those who have served on these committees especially our citizen volunteers. Thank you for your willingness to serve even while some attempt to politicize your efforts. I also ask our citizens to please learn all the facts and hear from both sides of any issue.

So why are certain ‘citizens’ privy to this information, but not all of us? Elected officials who strive for open and transparent government are NOT politicizing anything, they are promoting good government, and I applaud them for it. I also find it ironic that Rolfing is asking citizens to learn all the facts first before drawing conclusions. Isn’t kind of hard to receive those facts when you won’t share them with us? Your assurance is not enough, we found that out with the siding settlement which was a gigantic lie.

Often times those who yell the loudest fear you hearing all the facts.

To that I say, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.

Huether agrees to transparency with data as he has one foot out the door

“I’m all for opening the books of the city, and I will make sure that happens, in May of 2018. Think of it as my parting gift.”

Well he has told us he is the ‘most transparent’ mayor ever, he just never mentioned it would happen as he was leaving;

As part of the What Works Cities initiative, Sioux Falls will improve open data practices to make public information more accessible and to engage residents around government priorities and services. The project will include creating an inventory of the City’s data resources; developing a plan for data governance; making data available to the public and City staff in a more useful and responsive way; and helping City staff to maximize the use of data in their daily work. The first area of municipal government to undergo the work will be neighborhood services, including code enforcement, with the goal of making the process replicable for other departments and divisions.

“Over the past seven years, we have worked hard to make Sioux Falls City government more productive and efficient, and this partnership will take us to even greater heights. We are proud to be selected as part of this initiative,” says Mayor Huether.

For the past 7 years the only thing Huether has been dedicated to is keeping government as closed as possible, so this 180 turn by him is laughable, especially since he only has 10 months left in his tenure.

Trust me, I support this 100% and think it is a fantastic program, we should have implemented it 20 years ago, but better late than never.

REMSA supports transparency, fooled me

All of a sudden Gary Meyers and The Bride of Franken are claiming they are all about transparency, even B-N-B chimes in and says ‘It sounds like you are being transparent’ (Greg had to call a city official the night before for questions to ask Franken and Meyers).

I call BS on both of them, heck, all 3 of them.

Franken has said to councilors and the public in the past when asked to explain the new 980 policies that it was ‘too complicated to explain’ and buried herself in a hole. It is also rumored she was ushered off to Texas for a brief period to learn the NEW system.

Meyers says he has NO idea who Commissioner Barth is, even though Barth sits on the county medical board.

Meyers says you can come to their meetings that they are open, yet they often change the schedule of the meeting at the last minute and REFUSE to have the meetings recorded (with the backing of the mayor) so the public can view them later online or in replay on Channel 16.

As I have told the mayor during public input in the past, saying your transparent and ACTUALLY being transparent are two different things.

Here is a transcript of the show (it gets interesting at about page 8); 2017-06-22-belfrage-show

It is time Minnehaha County Commission has its meetings at night

Don’t think they have not tried. Commissioners Barth and Kelly made an attempt to change the meetings to 5 PM a few years ago. The vote failed 2-3. My suggestion would be a 5:30 or 6 PM meeting on Monday nights.

The reason? Well there are several. For one, the working class of this county could attend the meetings. One complaint I hear from several people is that no one knows what the county is up to. If you watch the meetings in replay (which usually takes 2 days to post to YouTube) like I do, the County makes some pretty serious decisions when it comes to how your property taxes are spent and criminal justice. While the city is the road builder of the city, the county is really the caretaker.

So why the opposition? I could use the ‘Republican’ excuse and their desire to keep government as closed as possible, but that excuse doesn’t hold much water since Uber Republican Kelly supported the night meetings. But I do think there is a strong desire by leadership on the county to keep the meetings during the day when the public struggles to attend.

I think they should take another shot at it.

Transparency Irony

Over the past couple of weeks I have been humored by the irony of our Council Vice-Chair Slick Kiley bragging about live streaming the Annexation Meetings and having them recorded to be viewed later (though they failed with the baby monitor with the 1st meeting). It also seems they think it is just AOK to record and live stream the re-districting committee meetings (just like the Charter Revision and Planning meetings). But for some reason, the very delicate and fragile elitists that serve on the Parks Board couldn’t be bothered by such transparent government, they may freeze up or have a nervous breakdown if they have to sit in front of a video camera.

Do I suspect a bit of Hypocrisy when it comes to transparency in regards to recording certain meetings? REMSA and the Parks Board can hide under a cloak of secrecy while spending millions of tax dollars or making health and safety decisions for the rest of us. But when talking curb and gutter, we need to open the floodgates of transparency.

C’mon Slick! Either all the way, or not at all.

Building Collapse Video disappearing act

Friday afternoon I noticed that a new episode of Inside Town Hall appeared on the City of Sioux Falls You Tube page. It was the normal setup. City councilor Kiley had on the Director of 911, Matt Burns (SFPD) and the chief of the fire department to talk about their working relationships. The one thing I noticed when I started viewing the video was that it was 44 minutes long (most episodes are 30 minutes). While there was nothing revealing in the show itself, right at the 30 minute mark it went into a 14 minute (muted) video of the building collapse rescue efforts. There were several breaks in the video and it looked professionally shot, at one point it seemed also a drone was used (or shot from a fire truck ladder).

I gathered that this video was probably shot by City Link crew. While I commend them for doing this, it also got me thinking about a lot of other angles.

• What did it cost to have a city film crew on site for that long?

• While we won’t film parks board meetings, somehow the city found it necessary to film this event?

• Why would the city not do an investigation when they had this kind of crucial footage, which included them marking the cracks in PAVE’s wall, a crane holding up the wall, and pulling away the damaged car?

• Was the footage turned over to the insurance companies and OSHA?

• Why shoot this video (which included the rescue of the apartment dweller being pulled from the wreckage) when we don’t send a film crew to every fire rescue event?

• Were they planning on using this video as some kind of propaganda?

• And lastly, why was this posted to YouTube and now has disappeared from the site?

After watching the video, I talked openly about watching it to a group of friends at Drinking Liberally Friday night at the Taphouse. Did someone in the group (or near the table) report this back to the city?

It’s funny how transparency works in this town.

Fiscal Meeting NOT RECORDED again

There will be no camera’s, no audio and no Fancy Feast at this meeting.

Sioux Falls city council’s fiscal meeting, chaired by Councilor Erpenbach will not be recorded for a second time.

**This working session of the Fiscal Committee will be held in the Carnegie Town Hall Multipurpose Room adjacent to the Council Chambers. The working session will not be audio or video recorded.**

It really makes no sense, because they have the meeting right next to the main hall where it could be recorded. As you know from OUR recording of the last meeting, nothing ‘special’ took place in the meeting for it not be recorded and live streamed on CityLink.

I’m not sure what point Councilor Erpenbach is trying to make by not recording these meetings, but this anti-transparency movement by her, the mayor, Kiley and Rolfing is just starting to look like childish games.

UPDATE: Parks Board Meeting, Nov 5, 2016

UPDATE: If you forward to 51:00 in the meeting you will hear a bash session until almost the end of the meeting of Argus Leader, the media, and Joe Sneve. They also finish up bashing recording the meetings. This is apparently why they DON’T want these meetings recorded, because they do talk ‘freely’. Notice that it is mostly staff, Kearney, the Parks Director, doing the bashing. This proves why transparent and open government is important because of this kind of nastiness behind the scenes.

All hail the secrecy of Sioux Falls City Government! Over the last few months we have been pushing for more board and commission openness by doing videos or at least audio recordings.

The mayor’s veto of the video or audio recording of Park and Recreation Board meetings gave us a morsel of information. The board already recorded the meetings and they were available for the asking. So here is the November 15, 2016 meeting audio. We’ve added some photos of Sioux Falls park features for you to watch as you listen to the meeting.

Take not near the beginning of the meeting when the board members make comments about the lack of Public Inputers. For those of us who attend these meetings, there is a collegiality amongst the members and staff. We feel the wink, wink, nod, nod as we public outsiders watch the actions. It is very interesting to see and it does not come across the same when we video, but it is there.

Secret Meetings?

Are public notices in newspapers a waste of money? Sometimes.

As you know, I am big on open government, and public notices are important;

A bill that would allow South Dakota’s 17 largest cities to publish their public notices such as meeting minutes online instead of in the local newspaper was defeated in committee on Thursday.

HB1167 would have allowed cities with populations of more than 5,000 to publish their public notices on their websites, freeing them from the current requirement that notices be published in the local newspaper.

Rep. Greg Jamison, R-Sioux Falls, the bill’s sponsor, said the state’s larger cities are already posting their notices online, as well as broadcasting the meetings.

HB1167 “makes it so it doesn’t have to be in the newspaper,” Jamison said. “That’s the big difference here.”

While I agree alternative methods should be ‘explored’ I do agree with the SD newspaper industry – to an extent;

Justin Smith, an SDNA lobbyist, said that having a third party print the notices ensures that the government “cannot come back later and change them.”

In his work as a lawyer, Smith said, he has at times needed to check on notices published as far back as the 1950s.

“There is forever a record of that information,” Smith said. “1167 would destroy this permanent archive.”

While their arguments are fine and dandy, the issue I have with the way it is now, is that it has to be in a ‘paid subscription paper’ and the problem with our local paper is that they print it on a weekday (not as many subscribers) and in 4-point type. It should really be in the Sunday Paper in at least 6-8 pt type so people don’t have to get out a magnifying glass. I also don’t see a problem with it being in a weekly shopper that doesn’t have subscribers, it may get MORE readership. Right now, the government entities are subject to when the newspapers decide to print the notices, and that isn’t right either. Just Sayin’.