Highlights of July Stehly Report

Dear Citizens, Happy Fourth of July to my dear Shopping News friends. I hope your gardens are vibrant and your air conditioners are working!! The weather conditions have produced a bumper crop of weeds and flowers in my yard. Thank the Lord for wonderful neighbor kids who are willing to help. We are reminded this week of the freedom we enjoy in our country. Many died to secure this for all of us. It is also the perfect time to reflect on our local government. Of course, it belongs to you, the citizens. Openness and transparency help to keep accountability in the governmental process. All the decisions we make, and the discussions we have, need to be open to the citizens. It’s your money, and your business. God Bless.


Councilor Janet Brekke and I are crafting an ordinance that would ban cell phone usage at the Council meetings. We would like to limit the practice of private communication during the meetings via text and email. We both have concerns about the type of private correspondence some of our colleagues might be sending and receiving during meetings and the effect that private conversations during open meetings can have on public trust in government. Citizens attending the meeting are given a very limited timeframe when they can speak. Allowing “special citizens” to have unfettered private dialogue with certain select council members via text/email is not appropriate or transparent. We don’t believe that Council members should ever be taking private directives/input from outside entities during a council meeting. Also being discussed is the practice of attending to personal business during the meeting and the practice of exchanging private strategies and dialogue among council members themselves during the meeting. Turning off the cell phone is a first step to ensure that integrity and accountability are being embraced at the meetings. City Council members make approximately $1400 a month to attend the meetings. We owe it to the citizens to shut off the phones and pay attention to the issues and public discussions at hand.


In a world of ever changing technology it is incumbent upon the City Council to reevaluate its policies and procedures to make sure that its public meetings are being conducted in a manner that insures the trust and integrity of the governmental process. The city council will be discussing three issues that have arisen as a result of electronic communications involving the use of cellphones and laptop computers during public meetings. The three issues are: 1) Select members of the public having private, unrestricted access to individual councilmembers through electronic means during public meetings; 2) Councilmembers having the ability to engage electronically with other councilmembers in private conversations during public meetings; 3) Councilmembers having the ability to conduct personal and private business during public meetings using electronic devices. The City of Sioux Falls is not unique. These discussions are occurring across the Country. If the process lacks integrity and is not respected, the decisions made will lack integrity and respect as well. The infusion of electronic communications into the governmental decision making process is a game changer. Is important and needs to be addressed by having appropriate legal and policy discussions. A multitude of issues come before the city council but our government structure is the legacy we leave behind and governs the conduct of our leaders now and in the future. It is important that we adapt to a changing environment by adopting policies and practices that create trust in government.


Last month, a group of volunteers, City staff and railroad crew worked on a Saturday morning to clean garbage from the railroad ditch from 5th Avenue to Covell Avenue. We collected over 1,000 pounds of garbage. It truly was a labor of love and we definitely “got our hands dirty!” We found knives, syringes, a couch, bicycle and tires among other repugnant things. Leaving the debris promotes flooding, rodents and overall sanitary issues. It would be wonderful if the railroad would find the funds to mow the long grass now that the garbage has been removed.

1 comment so far ↓

#1 I have to mow. Why don't you have to mow? on 07.08.19 at 9:56 am

Why does a City Councilor have to practically beg Sweetman Construction Company to mow the ditches along the Ellis and Eastern Railroad WHICH THEY OWN?

Aren’t they required by law to maintain these right of ways?

If so, why is this not being enforced?