UPDATE: Mayor Huether proves once again he doesn’t understand the US Constitution


Triple-M doesn’t realize the Lutheran School doesn’t own the snowplows, we do, the taxpayers, while they can practice their ‘freedom of expression’ on government owned property, they cannot promote a particular religion (it really is that simple). If they want to paint privately owned school property, more power to them;

But Huether seemed adamant that the plow blades wouldn’t be removed.

“We are not going to be painting over those plow blades. We will not be painting over them unless I get some Supreme Court case that says that I have to,” Huether said.

Heuther is also reluctant to suggest changes to the “Paint the Plows” program for fear of trampling on the First Amendment rights of participating schools.

“That’s one of the things we’re struggling with,” said Huether. “How do we move forward and still allow people to have freedom of expression?”

Mr. Huether may just get his wish. Watch for the ACLU to be all over this. I also suspect the NCAC may jump into this. So now the mayor is willing to waste tax dollars on Supreme Court cases because he doesn’t have a clue about our US Constitution. How did I know he was going to take this stance?

During the recent informational today, Staggers was defending the plows, calling it a ‘political issue’. No Kermit, it is a Constitutional issue. It is one thing to ‘express’ yourself about a season (winter) and it seems all the other schools figured it out, it is entirely another issue to be disguising ‘artistic expression’ with a ‘Biblical message’.

Also, last I checked, artistic expression relates to somewhat original ideas, there was nothing original from stenciling already existing designs. Someone else also expressed to me we may be opening up ourselves to copyright infringement laws with Coca-Cola.

I will give city attorney Fiddle-Faddle credit, he told councilor Staggers that it was a ‘legal’ issue, and it is, a Constitutional legal issue. And Fiddle should be well-versed in them, he has plenty of case law proving the city doesn’t understand Constitutional law.


#1 Dan Daily on 10.28.14 at 3:43 pm

It was probably his idea in the first place. Our chancellor’s word is gospel. The city has been into circuit court 5 times since Huether. They lost all 5 on constitutional grounds. That tells me the city charter and strong mayor is not democracy. Look at how many times they’ve been censured by the state. Has any city contract been competitive bid? Work for EC was awarded before citizens voted and even before a location was decided.

#2 Dan Daily on 10.28.14 at 3:44 pm

I smell a crook and a ‘Coca Cola Christian’.

#3 Hilarious on 10.28.14 at 5:54 pm

So free speech is only for the non-religious? The free exercise clause sits right next to the establishment clause.

#4 Alex on 10.28.14 at 5:54 pm

So how come there is no push back on the plows that the city gave to the young Muslims and the young Jewish kids to decorate? Oh crud…you mean we didn’t provide them with a plow to paint?

C’mon Mayor Mike, your staff F’d up and didn’t think things through…don’t make the rest of us pay more taxes on funding a court case!

You know those taxes…the one’s that paid for the snow plows…the ones that people of the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian Scientists, Baha’i, Spaghetti Monster etc pay for our city equipment.

Oh yeah…if the good Lutherans think trademark infringement honors the Savior…well…their followers might want to rethink their leaders.

#5 anonymous on 10.28.14 at 6:05 pm

Scott, I would make sure the national news outlets are made aware of this story!

#6 Justin on 10.28.14 at 7:19 pm

Scott, while I agree with you most of the time, I will disagree with you on this. Heuther is a puke yes, but good lord, they are seventh graders. I am damn near ashiest myself and fully believe in the separation of church and state but this is a little off the edge. Don’t we have bigger things to worry about. I would love to see you go the kids that their plow has to be painted over. Better yet, let Tweddle Dumb from the free thinkers do it. I was actually all for that group until she quoted Harry Potter. There is a great classic for you, she lost massive intelligence in my book just because of that.

#7 LJL on 10.28.14 at 7:26 pm

So if the majority of the “villagers” say to leave the public input alone at the council meetings, than that would apply to the majority of the “villagers” say leave these damn plows alone.

#8 Bill on 10.28.14 at 7:38 pm

I doubt a Catholic mayor decides what they do at a Lutheran school. Come on man…Wise up.

#9 Don Coyote on 10.28.14 at 9:29 pm

Copyright infringement because the students used Spencerian Script font? A script style that has been in use since 1850 and was the defacto script used in business correspondence until the invention of the typewriter? Doubtful. Even Ford uses the script in their logo. Maybe they can be sued for using the copyrighted colors of red and white.

#10 CCFlyer on 10.28.14 at 11:15 pm

He’s continuing to position himself for a run for Governor or higher office in the future, and didn’t want this to bite him in the ass in a political attack against him moving forward.

#11 l3wis on 10.28.14 at 11:31 pm

oh this will bite, hard. Defying our Constitution is never a battle you will win.

#12 hornguy on 10.29.14 at 1:11 am

This is such a crass and political move on Huether’s part. I feel bad for Pfeifle – he’s got no legal argument to make on behalf of the city and yet the mayor’s pointing the gun at his head and telling him to make an argument anyway.

But this is usual Huether. Nobody should be surprised that he’s jumping into the phone booth and changing into his superhero alter ego, Captain Pander. The guy that really surprised me in all of this is Staggers. Per his work bio, “Kermit currently teaches class in American Federal Government, American State & Local Government, and a host of other political science special topics and elective courses at USF.”

Claremont should be asking Kermit for its Ph.D. back. When did the Constitution become a thing on which people get to cast ballots?

Alex nailed it in #4. It’s not like the city offered up a plow to paint to anyone who wanted one and is ensuring that all plows get used equally. Nor is this like the nativity debacles, where hardy and obstinate cities put up with the pagan displays and the festivus poles on public property so they don’t have to yank the nativity scene. This is a case where the city is regulating access to a limited commodity – plow blades – that private organizations are being allowed to decorate. That alone becomes tantamount to an endorsement. And you can endorse pretty pictures of flowers, or other artwork, or even things like breast cancer awareness. But you can’t endorse a religious belief. Period.

#13 Poly43 on 10.29.14 at 5:06 am

don coyote. Spencerian script is one thing. Red and white is another. But then to use the bible verse from John 1:14? ALL a cut and paste from Google images. Where in Gods name is the creativity in that? You can only give the students credit for one thing. Knowing how to use the Google search engine.

#14 duggersd on 10.29.14 at 5:44 am

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” This is the text of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Note it does not say a state legislature cannot make a law respecting an establishment of religion. Or for that matter a city council. It only says Congress shall not. Also, it says that Congress cannot prohibit the free expression of religion. I do not know of any Jewish or Muslim schools in Sioux Falls. If there are some and they wish to paint a snowplow, who is to stop them? Assuming the city would allow for it, I do not see a problem. The other problem I have with several comments here have to deal with people wanting to prevent the free artistic expression of these young artists. You should be ashamed of yourself. It appears to me that some of you are in favor of free expression as long as it does not agree with you.

#15 l3wis on 10.29.14 at 8:28 am

First, let’s clear this all up. IT IS NOT ART! IT IS NOT ORIGINAL. They used an image of a logo that is a popular T-shirt design. Stenciling or copying a design is NOT artistic expression, it is COPYING.

Secondly, the mayor is once again wearing his religion on his sleeve while walking thru his muck in 5-buckle overboots. He is mad because an ATHEIST made the complaint. If it would have been a Jew, a Muslim or a Buddist, they would have quietly painted over the plows, which they should have to begin with.

I believe in compromises, but this is not an issue where there should be a compromise, you either follow the highest law or the land, or you don’t.

As for ‘the kids’. I agree, I do feel sorry for them . . .

– I feel bad that they didn’t have an educator and principal smart enough to intervene before they painted the image.

– I feel bad that the Public Works department didn’t provide guidelines to these kids, even in art, there are rules.

– I feel bad that the mayor is using this as a political football and putting the kids in the middle of it.

Let’s face it, we can be mad all we want, but it comes down to some pretty simple rules. The snowplows are owned by the city (us) you cannot promote a certain religion using government property. This isn’t about art, or the majority ruling, it is about Constitutional law. That’s it.

#16 Dan Daily on 10.29.14 at 9:50 am

Uh, Huether saw this as a way to get state and national attention. It’s a political stunt. He’s a ‘Coca Cola Christian’ after the predominant Lutheran vote. Citizens are not bright enough to recognize the Constitutional repercussions. They’ll vote for him because they’re religious fanatics.

This is his stepping stone into higher office. Don’t fall for it. He’s once a credit card crook always involved with public funds fraud.

#17 southern exposure on 10.29.14 at 9:55 am

Sioux Falls, SD Mayor Mike Huether is a shameless poser. A brilliant move in bringing national attention to himself while creating an endearing image to a portion of the SD electorate that he will need to hoodwink in his aspirations for Governor in 2018. He’s a Democrat in SD. No heavy lifting required of him here. The issue will carry itself and he will gladly volunteer himself as the posterchild of martyrdom.

#18 Tom H. on 10.29.14 at 11:21 am

I guess I’ve never really understood why expressions like this violate the 1st ammendment. It reads,

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

Seems like this applied specifically to the US Congress. Can someone explain why this has been extrapolated the way it has? (Honest question – is there a legal reason?)

#19 Tom H. on 10.29.14 at 11:50 am

Answered my own question – SD State Constitution, Article 6, Section 3:

“…No money or property of the state shall be given or appropriated for the benefit of any sectarian or religious society or institution.”

So really, this is not a (US Constitution) 1st Ammendment issue; it’s a state constitution issue. After all, the US Congress “[made] no law respecting an establishment of religion”.

#20 Don Coyote on 10.29.14 at 12:26 pm

@l3wis: Then I suppose that makes a rendering of the iconic photograph of Che Guevera by Alberto Korda with a faux Jackson Pollock overlay non-art as well. It certainly isn’t original since it uses an image of a photo that is a popular T-shirt design. And it definitely “borrows” from the style of the influential Pollock. According to your definition “Stenciling or copying a design is NOT artistic expression, it is COPYING.” Yet it is advertised as such on this site.

#21 Don Coyote on 10.29.14 at 12:43 pm

@ #15 “…you cannot promote a certain religion using government property. This isn’t about art, or the majority ruling, it is about Constitutional law.” And yet walk around DC and you’ll find numerous public buildings from the Library of Congress to the Washington Monument with references to Christianity, God, and even (gasp) bible phrases.

The placing of a religious reference on a public piece of property doesn’t make for an establishment of religion. That is not what the Framers meant by “establishment.”

#22 l3wis on 10.29.14 at 1:20 pm

“or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

Exactly, these kids are free to paint whatever they want to on PRIVATE property.

#23 l3wis on 10.29.14 at 1:22 pm

Well, Don, would love to have a convo about artistic expression, but I am afraid you know about as much about it as the US Constitution. I will say this, I did not use an overhead projector to trace an image of Che when I did that painting.

#24 Oliver Klosov on 10.29.14 at 1:58 pm

“I did not use an overhead projector to trace an image of Che when I did that painting.”

So, your copying skills are greater than those of 7th graders.

#25 Sy on 10.29.14 at 11:26 pm

“Good artists copy, great artists steal” Pablo Picasso

The Mayor should offer to sell the painted plows in question to the Schools themselves, and just so he could irritate all of those who wake up each morning looking to be offended, the price should be $1.

Also, is it lost on everyone that the images; art or not, copied or original, will all be destroyed within a couple hours of the first major storm? This isn’t carved in stone, it’s like getting pissed at an etch a sketch.

Seriously, there’s muliple examples around town of various religious symbols on City property, so what religion are they trying to establish here again?