Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls Parks and Rec' ↓

Recording Parks Board Meetings is for the PUBLIC’s best interest not the board members

A letter writer says it best, when Parks director Kearney tries to pull excuses from his butt;

I affirm the Sioux Falls Council’s decision to require the video programming of the Parks Department Advisory Committee meetings for the benefit of the public. Director Don Kearney’s rationale to prohibit the recordings of the meetings stems from the government bureaucracies’ weak mindset that they can control what is in the best interest of the citizens.

And further more, we don’t want weak or ignorant people serving on these boards;

Most public servants have the courage, faith and the confidence that the process is needed and that all citizens should have the opportunity to participate and be informed of actions of all government activities.

I have suggested the meetings be recorded at Carnegie instead hopscotching all over town;

In this instance, the Parks Advisory Committee meetings could easily be changed to an alternate time and day to allow more access and public participation opportunity.

As I told a city official this weekend, ‘We ARE singling out the Parks Board because they are important, just like the Planning Commission. They should be honored we care what they are doing in these meetings and proud of the decisions they make instead of hiding in a break room at the zoo.’

Video or not here we go (Jan 17, 2016)

Open government or not, here we go. This Sioux Falls City Council decision starts the official process requiring boards and commissions to post their meetings on line.

The public discussion part of this item on January 17, 2017 was started by Park Department Director Don Kearney when he jumped to the front of the line and gave the mayor’s well rehearsed talking points. When Liz, Scott and Bruce finished the mayor once again had interject with pre-discussion commentary toward David Zokaties. Once David finished we had another Ferris moment when the mayor decided to call out Tim Stanga. What is it about the mayor? Why can’t people just attend City Council and not be harassed by him?

Based on experience with this administration, they will either:
1. spend another $60,000 on equipment and a staffer to operate it or
2. they will go to the Kmart clearance sale to buy a recorder to prove it won’t work.

In this discussion opponents stress:
* The burden of operating a video camera (even though they have been shown how easy it is to setup and record).
*The mental pressure on members being recording (if public scrutiny is too much, go home and someone else will take their place).
* The ability of media or malicious people to snip clips and use them out of context (as if this can’t happen now).
* Don’t just do the Park Board, do all 44 citizen boards (all we can say is YES!!!! but do them all once the routine is perfected).

Cameraman Bruce is looking forward to being at a few of these meetings just to record them. If the bloated Parks Department budget can’t find a few dollars to buy a decent camcorder and instead uses a crappy tape recorder to try and prove their point, we will be comparing the results of both. We know this mayor always plans to fail when he needs to prove a point and plans to win at all costs when he needs too.

As a side note, when you watch or attend most city board meetings you will find the comfortable nature of the participants shows many of the decisions were probably made long before the public displays.

Mayor is pouting again over council decisions

Open government makes me so emotional

The mayor has still not signed the approved parks board meeting recording ordinance or the Glory House resolution from Tuesday Night’s meeting (he has signed all other passed items). He has until next Wednesday to sign the items, or veto them. If he does neither they will be published without his signature.

I’m sure we will have another one of his pouting session press conferences next week about why he didn’t sign the items. I just hope the city can afford to tape both the audio and visual of the press conference.

Parks Board Meeting (Jan 17, 2016)


The world is coming to an end or is it just the wink wink nod nod way of holding Sioux Falls meetings. On January 17, 2017 the Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Board held its monthly meeting at the Oyate Center. We know, WHERE? Go look for it, the search is always on in the noisy places filled with kids as they are leaving school. Not places where you feel like you can hear the proceedings because you legally cannot fully close the doors. Oh and speaking of closed doors, one of the board members could not hear so he closed the door. Should we file an Open Meetings violation with the States Attorney? It is going to be added to our list of violations to be dealt with.

The city of Sioux Falls is going to start seeing or at least being able to hear these exciting meetings. The lack of public scrutiny of the meetings has made many of these boards very cozy and comfortable for the members to work with their departments. Our efforts to record these meetings is aimed at this comfy behavior.

So be bored with this meeting and more of them. By letting us see how little is discussed in the open lets us know the real decisions are made before the meetings actually are called into order. We appreciate the citizens who sit on these boards and want them to be able to make the decisions they are charged with.

Will the Sioux Falls parks board meetings get ‘truly’ recorded?

While it may have been a small victory to have Parks Board meeting recordings posted online, they don’t have to do video. This is the stickler. You may not know what is going on because you will not be able to determine who is saying what.

Hopefully the council will be able to amend this and require video. Knobe weighs in;

The Sioux Falls City Council mandate requiring parks board meetings to be recorded and put online does not go far enough.

Let’s back up a step or two and look at the bigger picture. City Council and Planning Commission meetings are broadcast live and then archived. This has been going on for decades. As mayor of Sioux Falls from 1974-84, I implemented live broadcasts of City Commission meetings. It is now standard operating procedure in most local governments nationwide.

If we are going for true transparency, then let’s broadcast the parks board meetings live. Let’s add live broadcasts of a few other city boards, such as Library, Health, Metro Communications. Each of these boards spend public money and implement policy.

I suggest the administration and City Council create a five year plan to allow for the live airing of as many city board meetings as possible. I think there are two locations within city government where live broadcasts can occur: Carnegie Town Hall and the City Link Studios on Phillips Ave. It shouldn’t be too hard to move these board meetings to those locations. Some adjustments in the meeting space for lighting and microphones may be necessary, but certainly not financially prohibitive.

Some in city government and some citizen board members may think this action is punitive, or that we don’t trust them. I am NOT coming at it from that perspective.

Most of the time city government has a good story to tell. Giving more citizens access to that good story,  builds confidence and trust. Something we desperately need at all levels.

I don’t always agree with Rick, but he nails it.

Sioux Falls City Council anoints a new Dr. No

Meet the Council’s new Dr. No

Well, Rex Rolfing has been working on it for awhile, and after voting against recording the Park Board meetings tonight (Erpenbach also voted no) he has cemented the deal. He also wanted to vote against gifting the Glory House city land, but realizing he was out numbered he voted for it.

I want to say bravo to the city council for standing up for transparency in government tonight. It’s easy to do the right thing. There really is no excuse for closed government. Heck, even at one point, Rolfing suggested we should be fair and record all board meetings (but didn’t offer an amendment) he was just being cynical as usual.

If you are against taping city board meetings, you are anti-transparent

I believe the Sioux Falls City Council is set to vote on recording parks board meetings this next Tuesday. If the measure passes (must get 5 votes because it is an ordinance) it will open the door to more transparency when other boards will be asked to be recorded, like REMSA.

Folks, this is a GOOD thing, open and transparent government will always benefit the public and protect us from corruption. Just look at the oral arguments today at the SD Supreme Court, our local paper had to sue the city over something as simple as a settlement contract, it shouldn’t be that way.

The opposing side has their excuses, and I will debunk them;

• It will cost to much to record and to store videos. First off, if it is so expensive to record these meetings, why do we have such an enormous budget following the mayor around to do a press conference every time he gets a haircut or wipes his butt? Secondly, you wouldn’t need a production crew, a city employee in attendance could simply set up the camera, hit record. As for storage, digital storage these days is minimal cost, and even if it wasn’t, the city could do like the county and use YouTube to store the meetings.

• It will discourage people from volunteering on boards. Really? The Planning Commission, one of the most powerful boards in the city has been recording their meetings for 12 years, they are all volunteers and it seems like they never struggle finding people to serve. Secondly, I wouldn’t want anyone serving on a board that wasn’t pro transparency and open government. Just because you volunteer on a government board doesn’t give you a license to keep secrets, quite the opposite.

• The public/media will twist what is said in the meetings or interrupt them. If they are recorded, the public really won’t have a reason to show up in person, and secondly, if the entire meeting is recorded and put online, not sure how that is ‘twisting’ it’s content. The only time the truth is twisted is when decisions are made behind closed doors.

Let’s face it, these boards make important decisions that impact thousands of lives and millions of dollars of taxpayer money, they need to be transparent and readily available to the public. Any councilor who would vote against this are basically saying they are happy with the status quo and are anti-transparent government, any other arguments are weak kneed and ‘twisted’.

Cameras invade the Parks Board (Dec 20, 2017)

Lookout, the cameras are coming. If the Sioux Falls City Parks Board doesn’t record them look who does show up. When they won’t do it we will and they can suffer the consequences if your message is not what you want to be.

The Parks Board on December 20, 2016 received Cameraman Bruce’s demonstration of camera setup and now they get to see what it looks like (presentation is right at the beginning).

South DaCola 2016 year in review (Part I)

art-maze-mower-lrArtMaze, one of the better parts of Sioux Falls life in 2016

2016 has been a rough year for citizen activism. While it has been up and down here in Sioux Falls with many successes and failures to boot, it seems Washington DC has gone into full collapse as we allowed racist, sexist, hillbillies to elect our president.


But locally there were three things that stood out;

• Governor Daugaard claiming that voters were ‘hoodwinked’ into voting for IM 22, then getting the Pierre (in)justice system to go along with it. Funny how for over 40 years voters have been voting his party into power, and no word about ‘hoodwinking’ but once that corrupt power will be challenged, all the voters are idiots. As one official told me that used to work for Dennis, it’s not the public that are idiots, it’s Dennis. And his idiocy has been shining through.

• The South Dakota Democratic Party’s bottom completely fell out, and the people in charge patted themselves on the back. Insanity I tell you! Insanity!

• But one of the greatest achievements of the year is the Sioux Falls City Council’s change of power. The four new councilors have been flexing their muscles with a little help from Councilor Erickson, and while they have had a few missteps to start out, they have been learning from the battle scars. While ‘leadership’ of the council (Rolfing and Kiley) seem to be on a two man mission to rubberstamp all things Huether, shut down public input, and concoct false ethics charges against a fellow councilor (until they got caught lying like the snakes they are) they are becoming more and more in check. The city council has many big plans for 2017, and I have a feeling their agenda will push through easily as our lame duck mayor melts.

Let’s take a look at some the finer high and low points of 2016;

• The Huether Tennis center continues to block parking from other event attendees at the Sanford Sports complex though they basically stole $500K from taxpayers for the facility. Throughout the year there was several reports on cones and signs blocking the lot with not cars in it. But hey Mike’s Bride won an award this year and seemed surprised she did, without commenting that her check to the organization that gave the award wasn’t returned.

• The Sioux Falls City Council leadership and mayor’s HR department pulled a military retiree out of their asses for city clerk, a person who will be in charge of our city elections and hasn’t been registered to vote for years. He also proved his knowledge of official stamps when he stamped a petition without even bothering to read it. While Mr. Greco has gotten better over the year, the city clerk position should not be a $80K+ a year job as an apprentice, sadly being trained by one of his assistant clerks who has ten times the qualifications and applied for the position but was turned down. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the council chair’s view of women in the work place.

• Speaking of letting the mayor’s HR department and Leadership’s Mutt and Jeff pick the next internal auditor, the council barked loud enough that they did not want another ‘Greco’ pick. Not sure if the barking worked, but the person who was set to take the job saw the writing on the wall and turned it down. Hopefully the person who ultimately gets the position won’t be turned down because they shave their legs.

• The city continues to blow money on the Winter Wonderland Display, but the way the mayor has been cutting budgets these days, I expect next year’s display to be a couple of homeless barrel fire pits, sponsored by the Dudley House of course.

• After posting about the ridiculous corporate like raises the mayor has been giving to his management team, he turns around and still screws the minions with dismal raises again this year. I think in a special note to the city employees on their Christmas paystub he wrote, “I don’t care.”

• The city continues the FREE condom distribution program at area bars, and for some reason Monk’s is always emptied the quickest. Coincidence that is also a favorite watering hole of city managers . . .

• The Tuthill shooting case becomes ‘inactive’ and a tree branch shadow gets off scott free.

• The Erp wrongfully calls out local massage therapists as prejudice because they pointed out the ‘shower massages’ that were taking place around town. Apparently someone got a bad fortune cookie that day.

• The car rental tax and BID tax grabby-grabby fails in Sioux Falls, but the state legislature passes one of the most idiotic tax increases ever so our teachers are now just tied for last instead of dead last in pay. Out hoodwinking governor already has plans to rob the pot only one year after its passage.

• Hartford’s city government was in a state of collapse. Who really cares?

• The Levitt Pavilion is moving forward in Sioux Falls. It will be nice watching outdoor concerts sitting in the grass while battery acid is boiling beneath our asses.

• The Boulevard ordinance changes went into effect. Now stop worrying about rocks and plant a garden.

• The Washington Pavilion got a change of leadership after Darrin Smith takes over as President. So far he has only eliminated one director, but I hear the blood-letting has just begun. Now let’s throw another couple of million at the place to fix the poor construction to begin with. That will never happen with the Events Center . . .

• The Events Center cracks down on outside snacks and guns at events. We are all now safe from cheap fat people shooting us, but not in the parking lot.

• The Pottie Room war starts in Pierre and is guaranteed to return in 2017.

• A state legislator calls transgender people ‘twisted’. Now I’m struggling with what word to use describing our state legislators?

• A city council candidate throws a hissy fit over a post I wrote about his wife’s involvement with the Jesus plows and after threats to my employer I pull the post. He ends up taking last place in the at-large race. How’s Jesus working out for you now?

• Due to health reasons, Kermit Staggers decides not to run for a 4th term on the city council. His endorsement of Stehly puts her over the top.

• One of the youngest candidates in city history runs for city council. I apologize to Briggs for all the shitty things I said about him during the campaign.

• The Argus Leader sues the city for the details in the secret events center siding settlement. The Argus loses the first round but it is headed to the SD Supreme Court.

• On a similar note, the SON neighborhood is also awaiting a judgement in their Walmart suit with the SD Supreme Court.

• While our Sioux Falls City Council approves the DAPL through Sioux Falls, it takes thousands of protesters in ND to actually stop it. Too bad our city council chair doesn’t understand how to vote.

• The Mayor and Q-Tip Smith screwup the DT parking ramp development by flapping their traps to soon, and the council later on in the year returns the favor and defunds the ramp all together for 2017. I still think the fiasco is what got Smith to seek refuge at the Pavilion.

• City officials throw a hissy-fit over Bruce’s camera at a city meeting we were invited to by then city councilor Kenny Anderson. Looking back on it now, I just chuckle.

• Former city councilor Dean Karsky and now commissioner elect has become the official endorser in Sioux Falls.

• Bruce and I do a presentation on voter turnout in Sioux Falls at Democratic Forum and one of the mayor’s buddy developers in Sioux Falls tries to shut us down. When he fails, he walks out. Another casualty to transparency.

Will the Parks Board meetings finally be recorded?

DaCola has been arguing for this move for several years now, to my surprise, it seems councilors are finally moving forward on a measure to require the meetings be recorded (Item #36);


This is important, because the board decides on millions of tax dollars being spent, including things like the Midco Aquatic Center. These meetings should be recorded.

I know there has been several arguments against this because the meetings rotate locations and it would cost extra money to record them at the locations.


First off, it would cost virtually NOTHING if they recorded the meetings at Carnegie, and do them right before council meetings at like 2 or 3 PM.

But even if they had to record the meetings at other locations, this isn’t some crazy expenditure. The mayor holds press conferences all over town several times a week, and a camera crew is always in tow.

If the city’s central services thinks this is too much of an expenditure, they are talking out of their asses. Especially if they have time to record a video like this;