UPDATE III: Sioux Falls City Councilors Stehly & Neitzert guests on Belfrage

UPDATE III: Neitzert calls himself ‘Audit Manager’ in the Belfrage interview. Who is lying? He is the chair of the Audit Committee. All city council employees (including internal auditor) answer to the entire council and entire committee.

UPDATE II: Listen to the interview HERE from this morning. WARNING, not suitable for small children 🙂

I guess Belfrage invited Theresa and Greg on Thursday morning to discuss the robo-call and hiring of the new Internal Auditor, 8 AM.

Some observations I made while watching the meeting last night were kind of startling. While the 3 councilors that voted against Mrs. Nelson’s appointment (Brekke, Stehly & Starr) contended there were too many conflicts of interest and the process was not open and transparent. Brekke said she would have liked to see a more extensive search.

But what shocked me is how the council and city attorney, Danny Brown, blew off the conflicts as normal operating procedure. Brown referenced the state which is steeped in nepotism and conflicts and said if the state permits it (it’s legal) than it must be okay.

First off, it should be illegal. South Dakota State government gets an ‘F’ in corruption. I have often contended that is due to lack of transparency, conflicts and nepotism. But just because something is ‘legal’ doesn’t make it right, and those 3 councilors did the right thing.

There was also a relaxed attitude towards the fact that Mrs. Nelson lacked audit experience.

But one of the biggest shockers was when Neitzert said that the internal auditor works for management (the council) and NOT the citizens. He had a round about way of saying it, but you got the gist. This was disappointing, because as Stehly pointed out, ALL city employees should be working for the citizens.

Brekke made the best points all night. Not just about conflicts or finding qualified applicants, but one of her best points was about how the council should have had a consensus on this since it was their employee. In fact, the council has had a consensus on the hiring of all of their employees in recent history. The last time they did not have consensus was when they voted to fire Debra Owen. Janet pointed out that it seems when the majority of the council doesn’t want to negotiate with the minority they shut them out and move forward anyway. She said it was frustrating and made the point that when the council is this far apart on disagreeing with each other, that was the best time to talk and and work out their differences. AMEN!

UPDATE: Last night at the meeting Greg said it was urgent to hire Shana right away so she would not be in limbo for two weeks, then he says this in a press release today;

Nelson will transition into her new role over the course of the next month.

Greg made it sound like Shana needed to have an answer right away so she could transition into her new position right away. Now we hear it will take a month! I assumed she would probably be moved in by the end of the week or Monday. With the administration not thinking Shana is that important to them, you would think they would have allowed her to pack up her box of pencils, Chia pets and city plaques today. Funny how things change the next day when the dust clears.



34 comments ↓

#1 Playground Behavior on 04.24.19 at 2:53 pm

I attended the Council meetings (4:00 and 5:30).

I used to have playground duty at an elementary school. I saw better behavior and better conflict resolution on the school playground than I often times see at Carnegie.

Every time there is a contentious issue that requires a vote, things deteriorate into what we witnessed last night. The body language demonstrated by both Kiley and Neitzert absolutely oozed Nastiness!!

Councilor Brekke accurately summed up what you will see at the people’s townhall:

She pointed out that it seems when the majority of the council doesn’t want to negotiate with the minority they shut them out and move forward anyway. She said it was frustrating and made the point that when the council is this far apart on disagreeing with each other, that was the best time to talk and and work out their differences.

The eight of you represent almost 200,000 constituents, it’s time for a refresher course on Conflict Resolution.

#2 Scott Linder on 04.24.19 at 4:28 pm

In regards to Kiley and Neitzert, after watching this meeting , the minute inkling of respect I had for them as Councilors has now evaporated. Their smug attitudes tell me all I need to know and I do hope people remember this when their term is up.

#3 anonymous on 04.24.19 at 8:58 pm

Greg Neitzert Northwest District 2020

Rick Kiley Southeast District Term-limited 2022

#4 Erica on 04.24.19 at 10:31 pm

I SERIOUSLY regret voting for PTH and hope Theresa or Patrick consider running next election because they seem to be the only two who truly give a damn about looking out for the citizens of the city. I may not always agree with where they stand on issues, but I appreciate how much they want transparency in the city Govt and the citizens to not only be informed but to have their voice in matters than affect us.

#5 Erica on 04.24.19 at 10:51 pm

Also, speaking to those on Lott St. I am so terribly sorry that their homes were damaged. My concern for them is even with getting pre-event home value (Zillow shows previous sales around 160k, current rates maybe then 200k…maybe) that they are going to struggle to find homes in the area that fit their budget as housing costs have ridiculously skyrocketed for some reason. How did Lott street flood, but not the one closer to the river?

(I am not from the state and haven’t lived here long so not familiar with that area’s history with flooding). Seems they were screwed over by the city as this appears that the area should have had better planning to protect homes in known flood areas as they changed occurred AFTER the homes.

#6 The minority report on 04.25.19 at 8:00 am

I enjoyed Brekke crying about how no one wants to listen to the those in the minority. That’s sort of how that works. Believe it or not your opinion really does mean nothing. Quit aligning yourself with Stehly, Starr, this blog (and his sugar daddy Bruce) and maybe you will gain some credibility with the council. It is amusing to watch though. The council seems to function just fine and keeps moving the city in the right direction while those 3 sit and stew and babble about themselves. Sort of like the regular public input nuts. We live in a great timeline. As the city grows tired of Stehly and Starr hopefully we can get some competent opponents to run next time and we won’t have to hear about how Stehly chooses to waste her money on dumb reports named after herself or robocalls. Holy ego Batman. I’d put that ego up against Scott or Bruce any day. Be a great title fight.

#7 l3wis on 04.25.19 at 9:15 am

THR, it’s so enlightening when anonymous commenters have all the answers (just no chuxtpa to use their real names) but that’s ok. While the majority who voted for Shana feel this was simply a ‘policy’ or ‘philosophical’ disagreement, Brekke proves them wrong. It’s one thing to disagree on taxes or zoning or street vacations, but hiring a staff member really should have at least 6-8 votes. Brekke pointed out the problem, the search for a qualified candidate was not in depth enough, and when she pointed this out to Neitzert he basically told her to go to Hell. Now who is being a whiner? Or a Bully?

Also the 5 who think Shana is a qualified candidate or either in denial, ignorant or just don’t give a sh*t.

No audit experience
No supervisor experience
Major conflicts of interest

These are all very glaring issues with Shana, this is why Brekke wanted a more extensive search. When they were in the process of hiring Reisdorfer I told someone you don’t hire a car mechanic to fix your plumbing and you don’t hire a plumber to fix your car. This is just basic common sense things that the majority of the council continue to ignore because of their enormous egos.

#8 Conservative Here on 04.25.19 at 10:07 am

This hire does not look good I must admit. What is very clear to me is that the city counsel is dysfunctional at best. Starr & Stehley tend to grandstand a bit too much and the robo-call was over the top. I can understand why the others do not want to work with them as they are not picking their battles, not say this is was not important but, you need to pick them appropriately. Teresa in particular is picking everything to battle and making them hills to die on and that would rub people the wrong way.

On the other hand the remaining counselors seem hell bent on just going it alone and are not communicating with Starr, Stehley, Brenke. This is not acceptable and you need to be adults and loop everyone in and discuss, even if you are constantly at odds on how to run the city.

I think the reason jobs like this are hard to fill are simple. Most people who are good at what they do and are qualified would hate to work in Govt jobs, ,myself included. There is too much bureaucratic BS, pay sucks compared to private sector, and your publicly scored every time you mess up. I would like to know what the pay range is for this city job and that will tell me all I need to know on WHO would they get to do this job.

I know from working on the private sector here in Sioux Falls, Managing an Audit department with the breadth of responsibility would pay 70-80k+ a year easily. Salary.com shows a median of 108k for Sioux Falls, so unless this job is paying anywhere near that, your going to get someone who is willing to Learn on the job, not the best solution but, you get what you pay for.

Regardless I hope the community gives her a fair shake and allows her to learn and grow

#9 l3wis on 04.25.19 at 10:36 am

Actually SF city pay is pretty good when you compare across the nation, I did this post about it;

https://www.southdacola.com/blog/2018/06/director-pay-comparisons-to-sioux-falls/

And a city job is good. How many jobs in the private sector in SF have a pension? Healthcare after retirement? Cash in sick pay?

I go back to Shana wanting the job, she knew the scrutiny in advance, she knew she didn’t have a majority for her. I struggle feeling sorry for someone who knows they don’t have ALL the qualifications and are disappointed there is dissent.

#10 Conservative Here on 04.25.19 at 10:54 am

My point is Private vs Public not city vs city. The fact she is getting this much scrutiny is not worth the money for someone qualified, that was my point. If you are making good money, why move to have every decision scrutinized to make less. Govt does NOT come close to pay vs private sector. Pensions, while great, are no gimmie as many govts go broke, look at California and many other states who cannot pay their pensioners and have to juice their current residents. I just think its hard to find an external person for govt roles when the salaries suck and there is too much BS. I try not to be too hard some some of these city employees for the reason I would not want someone critiquing every decision I make at work and having it posted all over FB, news, blogs, etc. Very few in their right mind would put themselves through this.

I have spoken on this blog before but, too many people just belittle and go hard after every little things people in politics do. This is why good people do not run or put their necks out because folks just crucify them. You more than often end up with someone who is crooked or not qualified for the role. I think this is where we find ourselves

#11 l3wis on 04.25.19 at 11:08 am

One of the reasons an internal auditor position has to go thru a high level of scrutiny during the hiring process is because once they get the job, they are pretty independent to investigate fraud and misuse of taxpayer money. This is why you need to hire someone who is capable with a high level of integrity. This is why Brekke wanted a more extensive search. Actually before the search even started Starr suggested to the audit committee they hire a recruiter, he was told that would cost to much. That tells you right there they didn’t seem to concerned that someone didn’t have experience. It think it would have been worth the $5K to hire a recruiter.

Another reason that none of the councilors could bring up was the nightmare the last auditor was. While she left on her own accord, her days were numbered. I think councilors were a little gun shy after that experience and that is why this time around they wanted someone who is truly qualified.

I think Shana will do a good job, I just think there is going to be a lot of hurdles when it comes to conflicts that could have been avoided by just hiring the right person.

#12 Conservative Here on 04.25.19 at 11:27 am

Scott – I understand your concerns you bring up. Answer me this

Why would anyone qualified take a job with a city govt when the pay sucks compared to private and the amount of crap your going to get from everyone. This in my opinion is why good people dont get into govt, its not worth it.

#13 Erica on 04.25.19 at 11:38 am

City is really opening themselves up a can of worms with employment issues now if they reject people who may not have had specific experience in a position they applied for. Very slipperly slope they are creating.

How does one not only become an AUDITOR but an AUDITOR MANAGER with no auditing experience for the CITY? Unbelievable! As the position was only posted for 3 wks, was the job posting specifically catered to her already qualifications? How many other resumes were recieved and how was job posted for such a short time, all QUALIFIED canidates interviewd and a deicison already made?

Any job I have applied for has taken at LEAST 2-3 mths back to even get an interview scheduled and then another 2-4wks to have another interview and another 1-2 for decision. City red tape should atbleast make this a 2-3mth process for level of role.

#14 Conservative Here on 04.25.19 at 12:56 pm

I just watched the whole Counsel meeting in relation to this issue and I have to say, Teresa and Pat got their @ss handed to them. I was on their side and agreed with them going into this but, after watching it I am doing a 180. The fact that 3 counselors, including Pat, signed off to move forward in the nomination process. The fact that 6 counselors signed off to put this on the agenda shows the counsel knew. The fact that Neitzert stated his reason for holding off to protect the candidate was a powerful point and as someone who has looked for job while having one, its important have that privacy in case you don’t get the job. He also did his homework in reaching out to Audit people to get feedback and he did his homework on that. So I guess I am very confused as to why someone like Starr voted it down when he voted to move forward with her. This is the part that had me scratching my head. Its not what they say its what they did, he signed it to move forward. If you didnt think she was the person why sign it. The more I watch these meetings the more I am starting to get a distaste for Teresa and Pat. I originally was happy we had 2 counselors like this who would call a spade a spade and put some of this stuff out in the open. Now I am beginning to understand why there is a divide, they at times, stir the pot for no real reason and have had their facts wrong. This meeting on this topic exposed Teresa badly and I was kind of shocked really.

#15 matt johnson on 04.25.19 at 2:34 pm

listened to much of the radio program- Greg N had no facts on his side (other then that a majority voted for her) so had to resort to name calling; says that TS has been a bully when he was anything but civil; the concerns were raised because this was ramrodded- special meeting with little notice; the citizens/constituents have no time to respond – which necessitates the robo-call to inform people; so we end up with an individual with lack of experience, conflicts of interest, and so on what an effing disappointment Greg N has been

#16 l3wis on 04.25.19 at 3:53 pm

I’ve talked to two of the councilors that opposed Shana today. They told me they have both gotten positive feedback from opposing the hire from several citizens today in text messages, phone calls and emails. Most agree they were shut out of the process and agree she has to many conflicts to be the auditor. The public is NOT as naĂŻve as some of the councilors think they are.

#17 Rachel on 04.25.19 at 4:09 pm

This wasn’t about character. She wasn’t qualified and she is married to someone who is in a managerial city position. That is a conflict of interest and we should have been fully informed by Neitzert. Neitzert avoided informing the public because there would be some blowback. Theresa informed the public, which is how transparency in government should work.

#18 l3wis on 04.25.19 at 4:33 pm

After a little digging, someone informed me today that one of the councilors that voted for Shana is ‘close’ family friends with the Nelsons (Not Greg). They probably should have recused themselves from the vote. This happened a few councils ago when one of the city councilors was friends with the wife of a current council staffer that mysteriously had a position created for them after Owen was fired. Way too many cozy relationships going on.

#19 Theresa stehly on 04.25.19 at 5:23 pm

Conservative, please help me understand the facts that you feel I had wrong at the meeting.

#20 Warren Phear on 04.25.19 at 8:29 pm

The pick for audit manager in her old position in finance made more than the last audit manager. I doubt highly she is taking this job along with a pay cut. This will be a new and improved title, with a new and improved pay scale.

#21 My Mistake Mike on 04.25.19 at 9:00 pm

The citizens elected (and re-elected) a County Auditor who is dumb as a stump. They’ve already declared that experience isn’t important. So why all the outrage now?

#22 Auditor on 04.25.19 at 10:25 pm

Does anyone here actually do audit work? Auditors typically have degrees in accounting, business, or finance, but those are not required. She has an undergrad is in accounting and she has a masters in business. She did audit preparation in the private sector and sounds like she does similar stuff now. That seems like audit experience. Sounds like she has already saved the City a ton on money too.

#23 Bruce on 04.25.19 at 10:41 pm

The more sunlight which is shown on the auditor selection process the more the process is shown to be a predetermined outcome looking for a path to victory. Shana has now been shown to be a personal friend of at least two of the council member(s) who voted for her. The accusations passed out by members of her supporting majority on Tuesday night discredit the entire hiring decision process going forward. The childish behaviors shown by members of the majority supporting Shana would have made grandpa Ralph and the other TACO members revolt in laughter.

This round of the City hiring process and the willingness of the majority to exploit its position to promote nepotism and conflicts of interest over the interests of their constituents should make us all evaluate their future in the political process.

The majority on the council no doubt knows what they don’t want looked at by the auditors and that is why this fight has become so personal and vicious. It would most likely be hard on future contributions to those City Councillors if City vendors had to sell things at a fair price and actually deliver the quality that was specified. How about the processes workers are required to do and not found to be of value, who is going to tell the staff to not do it anymore out of fear of a retribution?

The childish behavior of my student disappoints me greatly. We had higher hopes.

#24 Paychecker on 04.25.19 at 10:51 pm

Hey Conservative go look at the salary schedules for our chief of police and see how over paid he is compared to the Director of the FBI. I understand our FBI Director even can have a security clearance.

Where else can a code enforcer go to get $80 grand a year to be abusive and wrong?

There are plenty of people who work on road crews who work hard but most of the management is overpaid and can’t get a better job with a retirement package. They get to push you around and get paid for it. What a cush position to be in. None of these managers want the manager to do anything or even know what to look for.

Just name a few people who left city work and made more money so we can understand how to do it.

#25 Conservative Here on 04.25.19 at 11:13 pm

Theresa, several things stuck out to me that you have incorrect or failed to acknowledge based on watching the meeting as listening to the Belfrage podcast today. Please keep in mind I am new to city politics and don’t know anyone or have any loyalties or affiliation with anyone serving currently or previously

1 – Pat Starr was on the committee and signed a document to move forward with the candidate – this was shown in the video

2 – 6 Counselors signed off to have this item added to the agenda – This was documented and shown

3 – Apparently, now I don’t follow this so closely so I could not tell but, this next fact was not refuted. Agendas come out on Fridays all the time, true or false? If true why push that point because if this normal you should have robocalls going every Sunday

4 – Regardless of how anyone feels Counselor Neizert stated he did not throw the name out for public fodder until he had the signatures to move forward. I respect this approach as when you’re looking for a job you don’t want the world to know you are looking as your current employer or boss may take offense. This is a common practice. I felt this was admirable but, glossed over because it appeared you were hell-bent on pushing your point

5 – It was stated twice that I could tell all Counselors had the option to meet with the candidate and by your own admission you knew who it was a week in advance. Why didn’t you take the opportunity to meet and ask questions? At a bare minimum, you could have sized her up by talking to her as she WAS a potential employee.

6 – If she is only managing 2 people and she had no management experience, how do you ever expect to get that experience without doing it. This was stated that this was not a big issue as she is not managing 100 people. You overplayed your hand on this point and NO ONE ever gets the experience without someone giving them an opportunity.

7 – Counselor Neitzert stated he did a lot of research and even called the state for guidance on internal vs external employee for internal audit. What research did you do in this space besides using your dad as an auditor of banks? I have worked in banking for years and the majority of our auditors were internal hires and some with no experience. External auditors usually governmental bodies such as the OCC or CFPB that come in and poke around looking for stuff to fine you for. Internal audit are partners, yes I said that and it’s correct, ask anyone in any financial institution. They are there to make sure you keep your @ss out of hot water and are above board. You have this wrong wrong wrong and I apologize for being obtuse but, this is just not correct.

The only valid point you had was the conflict of interest with her husband and that can be easily mitigated by recusing herself from that portion of it if folks feel its that big of a deal. Sioux Falls is the biggest small town and often you work with people you know, related to, or just close to. We have to use common sense.

To summarize I felt you completely overplayed your hand and used up serious political capital lost trust (mine) by blowing this out of proportion. The worst part is regardless of what anyone thinks of this ladies qualifications, this is a lot of public bullshit to put up with from so many people for a F@cking job. This is why good people don’t run for sh!t or don’t want to stick their necks out to do the right thing. I guess collateral damage huh?

I respect your courage to speak out and this is why I have supported you but, you went too far on this one.
Its become apparent that every issue you come across is a hill to die on and this may be why your fellow city counselors are not wanting to work with Pat and yourself in particular. I am very very puzzled by Pat’s position to sign the letter to get out of committee. I am confused as to why Janet, Pat, and you feel like your not involved in this when 6 folks signed to add to the agenda so one of you is playing politics as at least one of you signed but, could not tell who.

I think at a minimum you council members are failing to work together period and there is enough blame to go around and I think you in particular lost sight of the fact when you failed to show ANY support to the poor lady who now has the job. I am sure she is not feeling very welcomed now and what I hate about politics is that once the decision is made, let’s support the damn people who have the jobs. Why would we NOT want to see them succeed? If she fails we all lose and that could be anyone regardless of who we hired.

Question – What does this position pay? The reason I ask is an internal audit manager usually makes upwards of 100k. If this position is much lower you would have NEVER found anyone to show up and do this job and put up with this shit for less money and to have people throw them under the bus publically the first time they fart wrong.

#26 anonymous on 04.26.19 at 8:38 am

Belfrage Interview

Stehly focused on the process and the qualifications of the candidate.

Neitzert began and ended the interview with personal attacks on Stehly, the very thing he was accusing her of doing to the audit candidate.

There’s no other way to say it, he lost it!

#27 Theresa stehly on 04.26.19 at 10:34 am

Conservative, I invite the public to watch the meeting to hear the debate for themselves. (Janet Brekke especially).We wanted to do a more extensive search, we wanted an independent auditor without the conflict of interest issues and we wanted the public to be notified of the issue. AMEN

#28 Consevative here on 04.26.19 at 10:56 am

Teresa, I watched the meeting and listened to the radio segment. You asked me questions and I detailed them out and you responded to none of mine in your last post. Why ask me questions and then not answer mine?

#29 Theresa stehly on 04.26.19 at 12:34 pm

Conservative, I thank you for explaining your concerns. As far as your question about her salary (past and present) I will put in a request for the information and post it here.

#30 Theresa stehly on 04.26.19 at 12:43 pm

Conservative,I just put in the request for Shawna Nelson’s current pay/benefit package,and her future Auditor pay/benefit package.

#31 l3wis on 04.26.19 at 3:21 pm

Email submission from a reader;

Please clarify – http://www.siouxfalls.org/council/council-committees lists (5) committees as specified by the SF Code of Ordinances: audit committee, fiscal committee, land use committee, operations committee, and public services committee.

At siouxfalls.org/council/internal-audit, the Audit Committee members are listed as Council Member Greg Neitzert, Chair*, Council Member Rick Kiley*, Council Member Curt Soehl*, Council Member Theresa Stehly*, Dean Buckneberg – term expires May, 2020, Tony Goettsch – term expires August, 2021, Rose Grant – term expires August, 2020. (* Committee terms expire May 2019).

However, Neitzert’s press release included on KELO.com states, in part, “…That’s why the hiring committee, made up of 3 City Councilors (Neitzert, Soehl, and STARR) and one citizen with extensive audit experience unanimously recommended her…Placing this item on the agenda of the special meeting required six of the eight City Councilors…to sign a document approving the request.”

Questions: 1) Is the “Hiring Committee” with four apparent members, different from the “Audit Committee”? 2) Is Councilor Starr a member of the “Hiring Committee” but not the “Audit Committee”? 3) Who are the two of eight city councilors who apparently did not “…sign a document approving the request” ?

#32 Theresa stehly on 04.26.19 at 4:32 pm

Conservative..I’m still waiting for the total salary information that you requested..but Shana Nelson’s current salary in City government is $76,980 (without benefits).
Again, I am only posting this because you asked for it. I will share more information as the HR Department provides it.

#33 Consevative here on 04.26.19 at 7:44 pm

So unless she gets a 30-40k raise you would not have found an external canidate as they usually pay in Sioux Falls a median salary of $108k.

#34 matt johnson on 04.27.19 at 5:27 am

Conservative, have you ever heard you get what you pay for? the median salaried internal auditor also probably has the requisite experience to be considered for that position/salary; you asked the councilor about the procedure for posting meeting info on Fridays; your point is right to the extent that the council usually has three meetings a month and anyone interested is aware of that- they can check the web site on Friday (probably still not enough time for something like this, but that is the present procedure); in this case this was a SPECIAL meeting; the public would not know to look for a posting on this holiday weekend (that GN thought was spoiled by robocalls); why did this necessitate a special meeting?- I understand the position has been open for some time and I doubt that waiting to a regular meeting early next month (ie May 1)would have been harmful- during that time the person could have been vetted; as to meeting with the then prospective employee prior to the meeting- I don’t see how that would have changed the facts of no experience and obvious conflicts of interest

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