Do we have this in Sioux Falls? Conflict of interest laws

So the Rapid City council has decided they would try to follow state law;

A new conflict-of-interest policy for the Rapid City government that will be considered by the city council tonight includes provisions outlining the need to disclose all financial interests annually, but also contains a secrecy clause for officials seeking an opinion from the city attorney about possible conflicts.

The conflict-of-interest policy is a direct response to changes to state law adopted by the 2016 South Dakota Legislature, according to the city attorney’s agenda item summary. Those changes require recipients of state grants to adopt and enforce a conflict-of-interest policy. The city receives several million dollars per year in state funding or in federal funding funneled through the state, the summary said.

The policy states that a conflict of interest may exist when an official or an immediate family member has a personal or financial interest clearly separate from that of the general public on a matter facing the official.

It covers officials who are elected or appointed to city boards, committees, commissions and positions within city government and states, “Such conflicts of interest may be financial or personal, direct or indirect, and the existence of a conflict of interest is dependent upon the unique facts of a particular situation.”

But if you watch the RC council meeting (FF: 1:21) you will notice it gets sticky when it comes to the secrecy clause, but still passes anyway. One of the council members has an issue with the ‘secrecy clause’ saying it is out of line with open government. The clause states;

Secret opinions from city attorney

If an official has a question as to whether a conflict exists, he or she may  seek an opinion from city attorney Joel Landeen on the matter. The opinion will not be made public unless a majority of those on the city council or whatever board or committee the official serves on votes to make it public.

“If any official desires assistance to determine if that official, or another official, has a disqualifying conflict of interest, the official may request an advisory opinion from the City Attorney’s Office,” the policy states.

“Such opinion shall be made available to all members of the city council, or the board, committee, or commission about which the opinion is provided, but shall not be available for public inspection unless a majority of the members of the city council or the board, committee, or commission to which the opinion is provided votes to make such opinion public.”

Like I said, though there was an objection by councilman Peters, it still passes. It reminded me of when they went after council woman Stehly without informing the public they were questioning her ‘conflicts’. Ironically, they were hunting Stehly down for ‘speaking’ out of turn with citizens instead of actually having ‘financial’ conflicts.

Notice the spaghetti never stuck to the wall with Stehly. The reason is citizens are more concerned if government officials are getting their bread buttered then if they are helping people by merely speaking to them.

Rapid City moved in the right direction, we will see if our fine elected officials (mayor and council) will adopt such transparent laws, or if they will continue to hide their personal investments.

These laws address the financial aspects (PDF documents of the law);

Conflict-RCC AND Cnflict-State



1 comment so far ↓

#1 The D@ily Spin on 01.19.17 at 9:57 am

Everything in Sioux Falls is conflict of interest when business is Denny’s bank and health facilities. What’s not named Sanford? His lieutenant (Huether) makes things happen without elections. Councilor gestapo get gold shovels and citizens get spoons for their cat box.