Entries Tagged 'Open Meetings' ↓

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’.

Cameraman Bruce; Ask your city government for transparency

Let’s load up the Parks office with requests for DVD’s of the meetings;

The mayor’s veto rationale has an interesting twist; he admitted the meetings are recorded and currently available if the public asks for them. So, I recommend all citizens of Sioux Falls request DVD recordings of all city boards and commissions meetings not currently posted. The mayor says they are available, so let’s all ask for them, as Argus Leader reporter Joe Sneve has done. Confirm they are furnished free of charge, just as they were furnished to Sneve.

Transparency in government would be significantly enhanced by a new ordinance providing for video recordings of city department board meetings archived online. The absence of such a policy serves only to reinforce a perception of a veil of secrecy over the Sioux Falls administration thwarting the citizen’s right to know what their government is doing.

Transparency is NOT a slippery slope, in fact it should be an easy hike in the country side.

Hey Stupid! Transparency is for us, NOT for you.

Not sure if you watched the bizarre testimony from Parks Board members and the ‘Patsy III’ at the city council meeting last night, but they certainly don’t have a clue what open meetings and open government is about. One of the reasons I chose NOT to testify last night is because I knew it was going to be ludicrous display of ignorance when it comes to transparency in government, and they did not disappoint.

Besides Councilor Erpenbach claiming the board members will be berated in videos because she has been (to tell you the truth, I have never attended a Parks Board Meeting, and only know the names of two of the members, and the videos we have posted so far has never questioned the discussion of the members, but more the actual parks staff).

But the Parks Board Members made it about ‘them’ in their testimonies. Besides the fact I found it a bit ironic that the same people who say they are afraid of talking in front of public cameras, stood in front of cameras at a public meeting to tell us they are scared of those cameras, they missed the entire point of recording the meetings. It is for their benefit protecting them from decisions they may make from bad advice of staff. And if you don’t think Parks Staff can cook up a good BS casserole, just watch the advocational sessions before the pool vote, where they concocted more stories then you can shake a dolphin at.

But it is really about something bigger. Serving the citizens of this great city on a volunteer government board should be taken seriously, and just because you are not elected, you are appointed by an elected official (the mayor) and open and transparent government should be of highest concern. In fact a simple question on the board application form could be added, “Would you be comfortable with being recorded during your meeting proceedings?” If you answer NO, then guess what, you don’t get the job.

Open government isn’t about THOSE who serve, it’s about WHO you serve, the public. And we have a right to know how our money is being spent, whether that is advisory or not. This is our government, we own it. It seems very elitist to me that a board member may think they are so important due to their ‘volunteerism’ that they don’t have to tolerate open and transparent government or any kind of oversight. I would say to those who want to serve that are opposed to those basic democratic ideals to simply not apply and take up a membership in Toasters.

As for the mayor, as an elected official to VETO this, well that’s just plain stupid. And if he decides to run for higher office, he will be reminded quite often of his intolerance to transparency.