City Government Transparency?

Transcript of Public Testimony last night:

My name is Bruce Danielson, a resident of Sioux Falls and chairman of Citizens for Integrity.

I am here tonight to report on the two ballot advocational meetings held so far, sponsored by the City of Sioux Falls. These biased presentations are designed to confuse the voters and harm the Initiative and Referendum process.

Prior to the first video last night, city director Don Kearney read a statement attributed to the city attorney. The statement reiterated the s approval of the video presentations.

After the first video was completed, I read a statement for those in attendance to explain why we disagree with the presentations and to ensure an open dialogue.

After the ending of the presentations last night I was approached by a city employee, Shawna Goldammer. I was informed my disclaimer would be addressed. I took it as “accommodated and silenced”.

We are partaking in the citizen’s debate on issues citizens worked very hard to bring before the voters. We will continue and will not be silenced.

We are suspicious of the city involvement in the ballot measures just as we have been suspicious of the Events Center naming. The EC naming has been a curious process. It has many different aspects never made clear. On last night the timeline became clearer why we the people have not been able to trust the word of this city government.

Prior June 12, 2012: The city doesn’t renew their naming contract with Superlative.

June 12, 2012: Director Smith Talks about hiring Legends to help secure a title sponsor in a council informational meeting.

July 12, 2012: Sanford Health BUYS the domain: DENNYSANFORDPREMIERCENTER.COM

July 24, 2012: Director Smith tells the council in an informational he is to having a title sponsor, and will bring it to the council..

August 2, 2012: EC title sponsor announced, city council is told 30 minutes before the announcement.

t have transparency on this The mayor used to work for First Premier, and people in the community are closely associated with Sanford. Maybe we really got a good ll never know because we never had any ”

We would like to know why this council has not taken their legislative responsibilities to heart and let your constituents know why this curious process was allowed to happen.

We question the motives behind the activities bringing the ballot issues to the people. The issues we have before us are based on our ability to question motives and directives. We have a voice in this election and its aftermath and we are here to stay involved.


#1 l3wis on 03.12.14 at 1:06 pm

I heard that when the council meeting was over, councilor Aguilar approached a couple of the gentleman that contributed to public testimony and told them they were being ‘disruptive’ during the meeting. I guess they just laughed at her. What certain councilors don’t understand is that respect is earned, and certainly some of the councilors have not earned it.

#2 Harry on 03.12.14 at 1:14 pm

Yes and after the first video was completed you were very rude and disrespectful to everyone in attendance. As people were politely raising their hand to be called on by the facilitator you just started blurting out your statement. If you are going to be the chairman of Citizens for Integrity you should act professional or step down.

#3 Harry on 03.12.14 at 1:19 pm

Respect is also deserved by the position you hold such as teachers. Being disruptive and rude during a council meeting you are also being disrespectful and rude to everyone in attendance. Remember the council cannot please everyone and just because they don’t agree with you doesn’t mean they aren’t listening or not doing their job.

#4 l3wis on 03.12.14 at 1:19 pm

While I agree, Bruce should probably be a bit more respectful, you have to also realize how much the city has crapped on him personally. On top of that, these presentations are clearly a violation of state law, let’s talk about rudeness and unprofessional? Using taxdollars to spread BS in the name of educating.

#5 Bruce on 03.12.14 at 2:16 pm

Harry, do you realize how disrespectful the presenters are? They do not understand why my task is so important to the process.

My task in this process is not to shut off debate but to make sure the city does not tell one and all how to think. You will not find me in the middle of any of the discussions except where Don Kearney begins to limit or turn the comments to his personal point of view or agenda.

If you wish to speak pro or con to the Outdoor pool debate, wonderful. If you wish to drag the debate into the advocacy of options not party to this Outdoor pool vote, maybe you are in the wrong room.

Just as all the advocacy videos being presented illegally by the city, the disclaimer must be made for all to hear. We citizens brought these issues to the ballot. We are the ones who should be discussing them without the city’s dime and time.

#6 Harry on 03.12.14 at 4:06 pm

Bruce: Not everyone in Sioux Falls keeps up to date and understands all the issues that end up on the ballot. With all the information floating around the internet, newspapers, TV and word of mouth and some of it not being true I think the city made a wise decision on putting together these videos. Especially with the Spellerberg issue, there was a lot of misinformation out there floating around on what both an outdoor and an indoor pool would look like. It was the plans of building an indoor pool at Spellerberg that put the outdoor pool question on the ballot. The Save Spellerberg group worded the ballot question in their favor. How many people are going to think that a ‘No’ vote will mean that there will be no swimming pool at Spellerberg? The question should have been worded so you can choose do you want an ‘Outdoor pool’, ‘Indoor Pool’ or ‘No pool’ at Spellerberg. The people who signed the petition and the people who put the petition together needed to see what they were getting for an outdoor pool.

#7 l3wis on 03.12.14 at 4:43 pm

Harry, I would have liked to see the ballot worded that way, but guess what, the outdoor people were the only ones to gather petitions, so they have the advantage, that is just the way it is. In the seven years since Drake Springs vote the indoorers have done NOTHING to secure an indoor pool. NOTHING.

#8 anonymous on 03.12.14 at 6:51 pm

Two important points which are unclear in the City’s presentation regarding Spellerberg are:

1. The presentation lists a 6.4 million dollar CASH down payment for the indoor pool.

In reality, if the vote is in favor of an outdoor pool, the Council can vote to shift these capital improvement funds from the indoor pool to the outdoor pool. Don Kearney, Director of Parks and Rec has confirmed this is correct.

2. The drawings that TSP has provided for the public presentations are CONCEPT drawings only. (confirmed by Don Kearney)

The City held multiple public meetings to gather input about what citizens wanted in an indoor pool.

The last time public input meetings were held regarding what people want for an outdoor pool was after the 2007 Drake Springs vote. Our community has several aquatic parks, I believe what they are asking for now is a new TRADITIONAL outdoor pool. Don Kearney has stated that if the vote is in favor of an outdoor pool there will be public input meetings held.

This is NOT part of the presentation, but I have heard the comment there may end up being NO pool at Spellerberg. This is a completely inaccurate statement. If the outdoor pool vote is successful, the ballot language MANDATES that an outdoor pool be built at Spellerberg.

#9 Bruce on 03.13.14 at 9:16 am

Harry, The city put together adovcational (advocacy disguised as education) information videos.

Listen to Jeff Schmidt, his tone, the temperament and the information presented to give only the city government’s reasons for passage and tell us he is giving unbiased educational data. His Shape Places video is extremely bad on so many levels I would waste too much time and space recounting it.

Pay attention to the zoning question. The video is not giving the real reasons the neighbors disagree with the zoning request. The neighbors have been totally excluded from the process in favor of a mega store being dumped into their yards. No matter what residential neighborhood you live in, how would like to buy a house only to find out years later you are not part of an industrial zone. The city never tells the story of the several zoning changes since the land was sold for houses.

The pool video presentation is a joke. The city continues to sell the viewer on a pool concept NOT on the ballot. The neighbors are not saying no to an indoor pool by proposing this measure. A proud neighborhood does not want a park they love turned in to an industrial, retail or office type park. State law requires ballots and the
citizen Initiative and Referrals to be constructed a certain way to require easy to understand YES or NO answers. No tricks, clear language required.

The snowgate issue is not being contested or colored in a bad light. It would be a losing battle because the city has determined with the overwhelming citizen support, it would be a bad move. If there is an example of monotone, clear explanation and facts of an educational video, Huber wins. No tricks, just clear message. Huber also does a good job discussing and being open at the meetings.

An underlying theme in this entire advocational process has been to intentionally confuse the voter with trumped facts, biased points of view, poor music choices and most presenters pretending to be fundamentalist preachers in their deliveries.

#10 pathloss on 03.13.14 at 11:23 am

The city is famous for deciding things then setting framework to make it look like the public was involved. You’re right about Goldhammer. She stated in court she sends regular notices to citizens regarding zoning violations. When asked to prove so, she couldn’t. When asked to show history for particular cases, she couldn’t. I made 4 complaints against the city code enforcer that I have a record of and the city never investigated. The last one was presented to Reid Holsen in city personnel. It was regarding a physical threat during a hearing in the old council chambers. Once another mayor reinstalls democracy & due process, it’s time to replace many who have no respect for the public they’re supposed to serve.

#11 rufusx on 03.13.14 at 11:59 am

Excuse me while I see if I can find a pair of hip-waders. The only question is do you prefer an indoor or outdoor pool at Spellerberg. Either one or the other IS GOING TO BE BUILT.

All the rest is a propaganda smoke screen.

#12 rufusx on 03.13.14 at 12:01 pm

And yes – the decision to word the ballot question the way it is DELIBERATELY DECEPTIVE word-smithing by the outdoorsers.

Doesn’t speak well to your willingness to be honest about either your positions, or your tactics right from the get-go.

#13 Harry on 03.13.14 at 1:29 pm

Well said Rufusx!

#14 l3wis on 03.13.14 at 1:37 pm

The ballot language was written that way because that is the petition that was submitted by the Save Spellerberg group. Uh, duh. Even a smart fellar like yourself Ruf knows that. Like I said, if CS365 has a problem with that, they had SEVEN F’ING YEARS to conduct their own petition drive instead of just running to the city council’s special interests feeding trough.

#15 Testor15 on 03.13.14 at 2:14 pm

Well said Ruf for someone who just proved no knowledge of SD election law or rules. It is wonderful to see.

The Initiative process is real simple. The people attempt to get a piece of legislation passed via public vote. The rules state YES to pass the legislation and NO to defeat it. The legislation asks one question, do you wish to do this or not. In other words, YES or NO.

The group who asks the question has to propose something, again with the pool example, “Will you vote with us to have the city build an OUTDOOR pool?”

See ruf and Harry, it is very simple. We can draw pictures if necessary.

#16 Derby on 03.13.14 at 2:51 pm

I have still not spoken to anyone who is in favor of an outdoor pool vs. an indoor pool except for the few folks on this blog. I would not put down this council for not listening to the public on this point of view. As far as the Wal-Mart issue, I will have to wait and see until after I attend the educational meeting at Morningside. I for one am glad they are doing these meetings because I do not think the average public Joe keeps up on things enough to make a well informed decision. People have jobs, lives, children, activities to attend to other than monitoring the ballot issues everyday. I am glad this blog does this, but I do wish it was a little less bias and negative. I have only been following this blog for a couple of weeks, but the negativity seems to overpowering the positive this community has to offer.

#17 l3wis on 03.13.14 at 3:12 pm

Well, Derby you have figured something out. My site is not a ‘Rah-Rah’ city site, you can find that stuff at KELO or Channel 16. As a citizen advocate and city hall watchdog it is my job to be a ‘cynic’. Not everything that goes on in local government is positive, and like I said, the ‘other’ media in town can cover that stuff, my job is to pull back the layers and uncover corruption.

#18 Bruce on 03.13.14 at 3:40 pm

Derby, you are just the person my group is trying to help. We are attempting to make sure the information supplied by the city is truthful and unbiased.

We have a city government believing you are the part of the sheeple they wish to lie to. You work hard to have a place to live and provide for your family needs. The city does not want you to be well informed. The ‘leaders’ in city hall expect us to do what they want us to do and to not expect anything else.

I make a quick presentation at the beginning of the Q&A session to remind people to take everything you hear in the room with a strong sense of skepticism, no matter who is speaking.

It events are filled with people with agendas. Understand, the city employees are sent there to fulfill the hidden agendas of their masters.

Question everything, never fully believe anything and only trust your ability to see through the garbage thrown at you.

Only through your educated view based on real facts and not ‘presented facts’ you will understand the issues the petitioners have presented to you to vote on.

Over 20,000 of your fellow citizens brought these 4 issues to you to help make the final decisions. Now it is up to you to look at the bias’ being laid out and make the decision.

We have studied these issues and their histories and found many discrepancies, half-truths and out right lies in the presentations.

For these reasons, the State of South Dakota has made government activism of this type of presentation illegal. Our new group and the petition drive we are beginning is to bring the illegal Sioux Falls government actions into compliance with South Dakota state law and the Constitution of the United States.

So Derby, Harry, ruf and everyone else who is trying to understand this concept we offer you this chance to listen to the presentations but listen for the truth and make a wise informed decisions on April 8.

#19 Harry on 03.13.14 at 4:33 pm

Yes Testor15 it is pretty simple. Why did the question even end up on the ballot? Because the city wanted to turn Spellerberg into an indoor pool and some people didn’t like it so they got a petition going. The Save Spellerberg Group worded the ballot question in the best interest for them. The SS group has that right. The city is just continuing to promote what they started before the SS group was created. The CS365 group has the right to promote what they believe a ‘No’ will actually mean. To you a ‘Yes’ vote means an outdoor pool and to me a ‘No’ vote means an indoor pool. Would the city have still had to have the educational meetings on Spellerberg if the question had been worded differently? Maybe not. It is pretty simple, but it’s not quite working out the way the SS group wanted it to.

#20 Testor15 on 03.13.14 at 11:18 pm

Harry please understand this is not a dig at anyone but a statement of how the law works.

If you want to do something and bring it to the people for a vote, there is a Yes to do it and a No to not do it. Its the law.

The Save Spellerberg people proposed to do something so it has to be a YES. This proposed (Initiative) is to have an outdoor pool replacement for their park. So the Initiative requires a YES vote to pass what the citizens proposed.

They could not propose a refusal of an indoor pool because there was no legislation to oppose. Had an indoor pool been proposed and then passed by the council, a referral ballot measure would have been required to be filed within of 20 days of enactment (think Shape Places and Zoning referrals).

We have two types of ballot measures to vote on this April. Two initiatives and two referrals are being voted on.

So no matter what anyone thinks now, the Save Spellerbergers proposed something and no one proposed the opposite. We have one pool concept on this ballot and it is an outdoor design.

We can debate the laziness of the Swim365, Snowfox and other groups for not fronting any money, time or ballot petitions all we want but the truth is they have done nothing but expect the city residents to pay for their pleasure palace of fun.

The city is offering different concepts but these are not set in stone. These are designer’s dreams done in a computer program. When this vote is done, they is much work to be done to hold Don Kearney and staff to what the petitioners want. At Drake Springs they excluded the petitioners when the final plans were put together. This time it may be different.

#21 Wayne on 03.13.14 at 11:31 pm

I think I have a solution for all those who debate so fiercely on this blog. Let’s pull the plug on all swimming pools, tear down the pavilion and turn it into a parking lot, terminate every enterprise that does business in a facility larger than the Diner, put a snowgate on every front porch, then march Sioux Falls back to 1952 and order it to stay there.

#22 rufusx on 03.13.14 at 11:50 pm

Bruce – more deceptive language from you. As has been pointed out – 20,000 DIFFERENT people did NOT sign those 4 petitions. More like 5,000 signed 4 petitions -once each.

What you are doing is called INFLATING THE FACTS.

#23 Bruce on 03.14.14 at 8:25 am

“The city is just continuing to promote what they started before the SS group was created.”

Well stated Harry, you have just stated the very definition of Advocacy, hence illegal. It is illegal for the city promotion of a cause or point of view once it has gone to the citizens voting ballot.

By law, the government has no voice in the process. Period.

The City government under this mayor is breaking South Dakota law and City Charter Code. Again.

The subtle intimidation methods used, in the city meetings, are also a method to control the discussions the citizens wish to have on this matter.

We the voting people must decide without the interference of the government’s dime and time. We the voting people are the only voice. The people’s power of the ballot must not be destroyed by the tampering of city hall.

#24 Bruce on 03.14.14 at 10:43 am

ruf, there were almost 28,000 signatures on petitions. By actual logic in a town the size of Sioux Falls there would be some cross duplication of signatures.

Three of these petition groups collected in distinctly different parts of town, by different methodologies. It stands to reason there is some duplication but not the inference you seem to enjoy making.

This is going to be an interesting election, I guess you are sad you cannot vote in it.

#25 rufusx on 03.14.14 at 1:18 pm

Bruce – how about an actual number?

BTW – has SO (Y) N held a single informational meeting for the voters?

How about Save Spellerberg? City-wide? Neighborhood by neighborhood? Anything?

Anyone outside of government on any issue, any where, any time?

Yeah – I thought not.

#26 Bruce on 03.14.14 at 2:03 pm

ruf, I will in turn ask you “how about an actual number?”

my job is not part of any campaign, but to make it possible to be fair and unbiased.

live in Sioux Falls and be part of the process.

#27 rufusx on 03.14.14 at 9:07 pm

I am busy fighting battles in my own little berg – against anti-governmental attitudes similar to your own AND they happen to be the ones in power here.

Rhetoric about “the will of the people” etc., but no desire whatsoever to ACTUALLY communicate anything useful to the people. Secret meetings, backdoor deals etc.

Thjat’;s why I’m pointing out that the “let the people decide” folks in SF are actually giving the people nearly ZERO information – aside from their own slated spin campaigns.

Go ahead, keep on preaching that you’re above all the corruption – and THEY aren’t. Fact is there is no innocent pure as the snow altruistic sides here anywhere.

#28 Bruce on 03.15.14 at 6:20 am

ruf, had the city of Sioux Falls government not illegally injected themselves into the issues campaigns, there would have been proper ballot discussion.

Government interference has completely changed who and how the questions are asked.

The city has produced a group of meetings around their agendas, ignoring the point of South Dakota law and the prohibition of government propaganda.

Propaganda meetings done on the taxpayer’s time and dime are illegal.

#29 rufusx on 03.15.14 at 1:16 pm

Bruce – allegedly illegal – in YOUR opinion. Until you take them to court – and WIN – your just spinning your very own propaganda web.

#30 Bruce on 03.15.14 at 11:22 pm

Very basic state law and city code violations.

Move to Sioux Falls and be part of the system.

#31 rufusx on 03.16.14 at 11:15 am

File a complaint.

#32 Bruce on 03.16.14 at 1:25 pm

If we had an actual ethics process in Sioux Falls it might be worth the effort.

Just like the State of South Dakota, Sioux Falls does not have a process.

#33 rufusx on 03.16.14 at 1:43 pm

Whenever I find my city council doing something illegal – or the mayor even SUGGESTING they do something illegal – I contact the State’s Attorney. He has followed up EVERY TIME.

You don’t have ti go the Daly route. Even though it eventually worked out for him – it wasn’t the smartest or the cheapest way to approach the issue.

#34 Bruce on 03.16.14 at 2:10 pm

ruf, we have an ambiguous form of government here in Sioux Falls commonly called the Home Rule Charter.

Everything we do here seems to confuse many as to what is proper or not. This is one of the reasons we have to keep pushing the administration through the petition process. The Mayor thinks he is above the discussion, law and facts.