UPDATE: The Council Meeting tonight got a little emotional

First, the council decided it was good idea to deny a sponsor of legislation (Brekke’s public input ordinance) from withdrawing her own legislation. It was extremely disrespectful, and to tell you the truth, I have never seen anything like it. I’m still baffled by it, and I think Janet was shell shocked. They essentially passed legislation she sponsored after she asked them to withdraw it so they could make it clearer. Than (Stehly and Starr) asked for it to be deferred and they denied that also (Brekke, Stehly and Starr tried to withdraw and defer) it failed a 5-3 vote.

The problem was that the new city attorney started a rumor that public input at first readings may be against the law. WOW! Really!? Then during the meeting he tried to deny he was being ‘political’. Uh, ok.

I basically told the council in the almost 17 years I have been addressing city council there has been extreme deterioration of public input, especially over the past two years.

In fact, the city dodged a gigantic 1st Amendment suit a couple of months ago, that I have said I will not discuss (I was also NOT involved) but am well aware of. I warned the city that if they ever want to go down that path, it will cost a lot of money and will be a huge embarrassment. The council is just a few nails shy of closing that casket.

UPDATE: Apparently some of the 5 who chose to move forward with the passage of this ordinance feel like they were making public input better, and the 3 (who actually fought for this to begin with) were against public input.

Oh the hypocrisy.

Quite the opposite. Brekke just wanted to make sure it was a solid ordinance before there would be any other entanglements. 

I find it ludicrous and laughable that the 5 who voted against Brekke’s polite wishes think they were making public input better. Those 5 were the very rat finks who took away the 5 minutes for 2nd reading to begin with, they also took away power points and limited public input at the beginning to 3 minutes per person and a total of only 30 minutes. Brekke was attempting to fix what they wiped away. If they think they are some kind of public input champions by voting against Brekke’s wishes, they apparently have gone stark raving mad or have dimentia, especially after the hatchet job they did on open government this past summer.


For the first time ever I saw Director Cotter get emotional over something, he started to cry, and reassured us that planning for the new sewer plant has been going on for years by his team. While I believe him, I made the point earlier that while that might have been happening, the public was not aware. Cotter did say it was in the capital plan.

That is probably also true.

When I testified about this, my intention was not directed at city personnel, though it may have came off that way. My point was we had a certain person in charge who tried to keep this as quiet as possible. So while it may have been on the books, according to councilor Brekke since the 90’s, it certainly wasn’t talked about very openly, and here is my greater point;

• We had NO IDEA of the final cost until all the consultant reports were in.

• We were never told about this potentially very expensive project when we were discussing the river greenway, millions in TIF rebates, an Events Center, an Indoor Pool and an administration building. Not a peep.

I also commend Cotter’s work on this, it took years and was difficult, he also gets paid very well to do that job. But whether Mark volunteered his time or got paid for it doesn’t matter. We know why this wasn’t in the public eye, and that’s not on Mark, that is on the past mayor, and I made a point in my testimony to say he was the architect of keeping this project on the lowdown, not Cotter or any other city employee who assisted with this. Because if we would have known this major of a project was on the horizon, I think we all would have questioned those other expenses.

I get it, and I feel sorry for city directors, they follow the boss’s orders, good or bad. But unfortunately at the end of the day, when we have an administrator who gags our public employees the citizens are left holding the bag. And tonight that bag just happened be full of something and it wasn’t free tickets to nine Garth Brooks concerts.


#1 USD on 12.05.18 at 12:54 am

Niezert needs to go.

#2 D@ily Spin on 12.05.18 at 9:20 am

Mark Cotter has always impressed me. He’s factual and practical. It’s good that he’s a victim of Strong Mayor Charter. When we make him mayor, he’ll replace the Charter with democracy and restore free speech.

#3 Warren Phear on 12.05.18 at 10:29 am

COtter was right about one thing. This plan has always been in the 5 year Capital program. That is why within two years sewer rates will have qudruple since 2006. Problem is, it has always been piece mealed to the public, one agonizing year after another.

Let’s do this. First, we’ll drop off four zeroes after the 260 million. You want to do a home improvement project that you figure could cost as much as $26,000. An estimator tells you, “good news, we can do the teardown part next week for $2,600.” You ask how much for total project? Cotter says, I mean, the estimator says, “Have to get back with you on that one. Anyway, going to a Garth Brooks concert tonite.” The next week he says, “Good news, carpenter work only $2,600.” You ask again, How much for total project? Again, the same answer. Would you buy into that and hire someone like that? No, you would not. Same as we should should not have bought into this.

#4 A Canary In A Coal Mine on 12.05.18 at 2:08 pm

Large, expensive city projects are generally part of the public conversation for years in advance of their realization.

Events Center, Indoor Pool, Railroad Relocation…..

SF Taxpayers, when was the first time you heard about a new sewer plant, the most expensive project in our city’s history?

For many, the answer would be 2018.

This was purposeful. Would Mike Huether and his Team
(and let’s not forget Mark Cotter led the effort to pass and then construct the EC) been able to convince voters to pass the 180m EC and the 24m indoor pool if they had known the most expensive project in SF history was right on the horizon?

As I watched last night’s Council meeting I was struck by how many of the eight councilors (and the Mayor) lack historical perspective. I doubt that many of them have followed the business of the Council, say, for even the past ten years.

It was not that long ago when our nation was in financial free fall that our own City Council sounded the alarm bells.

So, last night when the Council was being asked to approve the largest project in city history (260m not including interest over 20 years) I was aghast at the attacks being launched at Councilor Stehly for proposing that the 2nd Penny be used as collateral.

Over the course of the next 20 years, there will be many unknowns for our city. Will Councilor Stehly’s voice turn out to be ‘a canary in a coal mine’?

#5 T on 12.05.18 at 2:49 pm

Don’t present it if you’re not ready. Lesson learned, JB!

#6 T on 12.05.18 at 3:03 pm


#7 l3wis on 12.05.18 at 3:56 pm

Makes you wonder if Mark Cotter pulled a Heater since he got busted?

There were many things that happened in the meeting last night that would have made Thomas Payne roll over in his grave.

One of the craziest lines from last night, “Public input may be illegal during 1st readings.” Where do we find our legal counsel?

#8 Warren Phear on 12.05.18 at 9:09 pm

Thanks for the high-lighted update on the Brekke affair. I watched the meeting this morning, and this part of the whole disgusting evening was to me, a classic example of everything that is wrong with this city.

#9 James on 12.05.18 at 9:27 pm

Why are the very people who wanted five minutes now complaining? This whole thing doesn’t make any sense. There is nothing magical about 5 minutes. Leave everything at 3 minutes and be done with it. Some of these people scream that 3 minutes takes away their first amendment rights but all of sudden if they have 5 minutes everything is fine.

It does not matter that Brekke was asking to withdraw it. It is no longer her ordinance once it passes the first reading.

Stehly’s $300 a month claim and then continuing to push it is absolutely crazy. I believe she would be more effective if she would be more reasonable and not nag on everything. She could have done some simple math and come up with a realistic number. Maybe she doesn’t want to be effective but only be loud so she can continue to play the victim card.

#10 Theresa stehly on 12.06.18 at 12:24 am

Cannon 4 (2): City council members should respect the legitimacy of the goals and interests of other city council members and should respect the rights of others to pursue goals and polices different from their own. (Code of conduct.)

#11 l3wis on 12.06.18 at 9:10 am

James, for the 100th time, Stehly’s comment about $300 a month was a sarcasm/figure of speech. She could have said any number.

As for 3 minutes vs. 5 minutes, I really think it should be unlimited on 2nd readings. Why? Because it is semi-judicial. If an adjacent property owner wants to build something that may be detrimental to your property, you should have more than 3 minutes even more than 5 minutes to make your case, just like being in front of a judge.

#12 Theresa stehly on 12.06.18 at 10:58 am

James..we already are supporting the parking ramp with the second penny back up. This $260 million debt on sewer system deserves the same promise of protection for the taxpayers. My point on the$300 is that we don’t know what the increase will be when the largest debt payment comes due.

#13 Conservative Here on 12.06.18 at 11:11 am

I don’t care what side of the political spectrum you fall on. This whole thing stinks to high heaven. Public input whether its 3 or 5 min or even unlimited seems to not matter to them. They have their minds made up and don’t care what people have to say. The last mayor F’d this up bad and if Sioux Falls residents knew we had a 260 Million dollar bill waiting that we NEED, that event center, pool, stupid city hall building, would have never gotten approved. This was done on purpose and what I DON’T know is how many of the current city counselors who were part of the last regime knew about this. I am so pissed about this as my water bill is freaking out of control as it is. It is my 2nd highest utility now when it used to be the cheapest next to garbage.

Now we have to deal with the fact we now have shit sandwich we have to take a bit of. So instead of sticking the folks who have a mortgage with the bill completely. How about pass something to get the Sanford Empire paid for by the folks who use it for all these events. This stuff needs to be self funded/paid for. I dont want tax dollars going towards entertainment no matter how much $ is generates. That is not going towards my water bill. I am at the point I am ready to find how what kind of legislation or proposal citizens can come up with, gather the signatures, ON THE PROPER FORMS, and get this to a vote.

While Teresa may have been kidding about the $300 water bill she may not be far off for some folks/businesses. Heck if my bill is $100 bucks now and we gotta pay for 260 Million that could be true. Lets do some quick math:

260 Million / 20 years = 13 Million per year
55k houses/buildings approx / 13 Million = $236 per year or $20 bucks a month

This does NOT include ALL the JUICE we have to pay which I am sure doubles or triples that amount.

I am tired of paying for shit we dont need and now needing to cough up money for stuff we DO need. Hell we cannot even get our roads repaired properly and on time.

Sorry for the rant but, I am PO’d about this

#14 Erica on 12.06.18 at 10:24 pm

The city sure loves to spend other people’s money. “Don’t worry, it’s only $20 extra” Yeah, $20 here, $20 there, another $20 here. They slowly keep increasing taxes for EVERYTHING and it adds up while property taxes keep going up as well. The taxpayers are going to get fed up and go elsewhere.