The Sioux Falls Home Rule charter is 25 years old this year and is showing growing pains. Sioux Falls has grown from a small pothole town to a medium sized pothole town with the size of each of the potholes increasing with it. The idea we can’t plan for a sustainable future is confirmed with every meeting our mayor and city council show up to. Our get rich quick on the backs of the citizens, shows we must have a City Council actually doing what the Home Rule Charter calls for it to do â€“ SETTING POLICY.
Setting policy means the City Council is required to develop a long range plan with instructions for the Mayor to implement. These instructions are called Ordinances. The Mayor in most home rule charter cities must do what the City Council instructs but in our town the mayor tells the City Council what to do. Our processes are broken and broken bad. We hear it at every Tuesday City Council meeting. We heard it recently when a citizen showed up to say the mayor’s position must be redefined to stop the meddling.
We citizens have a BIG responsibility. We need to tell this City Council and all future City Councils what their responsibilities are. Â We need to tell this mayor and all future mayors what their responsibilities are. How do we do this?
Right now there are monthly meetings being held to make it look like decisions to improve the home rule charter. As we have watched over the last few election cycles, nothing is going to happen except screw us more. The Charter Revision Commission will hear testimony about how wonderful everything is in each part of the Charter and then move on to the next area. If a citizen shows up to talk about a problem with a part of the Charter, the Chair will sometimes say thank you to the person and then completely ignore the recommendation. Our city election of 2018 is a prime example of total dysfunction, with all our problems every idea was thrown away.
Our Charter was designed to be a Strong Council â€“ Strong Mayor form of government and it has the marks of failure because the mayors we have had subvert the will of the people and their representatives by sitting on the council. Just look at the disastrous $70 million dollar parking ramp deal passed by an out of control mayor and his dysfunctional friends on the City Council to see we have lost our way.
There is talk around town of doing something about the problems our dysfunctional Charter has. What ideas do you have? Some have called for eliminating the Charter altogether, changing to City Manager form, making the mayor a ceremonial position with no veto or Council vote, going back to the Commission form or a mix of the above. What do you think?
Personally, I think it is time citizens took matters into their own hands.