Sioux Falls City Councilor Neitzert’s dismissal contradictions

On Monday, September 28, Greg will have his final hearing or findings of fact. This ‘dismissal’ by the majority of the council has many contradictions in it. Of course, this should be NO surprise. The city council has a track record of telling the public one thing, then voting the opposite way when they hope no one is watching.

While they do ‘dismiss’ Greg in the resolution, they also point out how he violated ordinance. It’s almost like they are saying ‘Yeah, he’s guilty, but it’s not a big deal.’ They also show NO evidence of political collusion or that the event Greg attended was NOT partisan. This has to be one of the strangest dismissals I have ever seen.

Let’s review the finer points;

The Board of Ethics dismissed Complaint 20A indicating that it did not have jurisdiction to proceed as the Complaint alleged a violation of Sioux Falls City Ordinances relating to the conduct of city officials and employees, not council members.

The Board of Ethics did not advise Cunningham of the process for completing the complaint to bring it within the jurisdiction of the Board of Ethics.

The BOE could have made a motion at that meeting to cite the proper chapter. If they would have, the confidentiality of the matter would have remained. Instead by throwing out that initial complaint because of a simple citing error, this happened;

After Complaint 20A was dismissed, Cunningham turned over his records about Complaint 20A to the media despite his obligation to keep the information confidential.

While he did have an obligation to keep it confidential, it was only a matter of timing. Because once the BOE approved the minutes of the meeting, John still could have went to the media. He just did it earlier then he should have, or let’s say was instructed to. I also must point out that John may have a 1st Amendment right to say whatever he wants to. First, because the matter was thrown out and over with, and John is just a regular citizen and NOT an elected official. After the complaint was thrown, he had NO obligation to confidentiality minutes or no minutes.

In my opinion, it was the BOE who blew Greg’s cover. Like I said, they could have made a motion to correct the citing during the meeting, and moved on with the proceedings. By throwing it out based on a technicality, they created the issue of keeping this confidential. But throughout this whole show trial, they continually tried to attack John’s character with little to know evidence that he was some kind of political operative with an axe to grind. As John explained, he did have an axe to grind, he wants our elected officials to act with integrity and ethics.

By letter dated August 26, 2020, the Board of Ethics responded to the City Council indicating that it stood by its original report and that the Council should review the report and city ordinances.

In other words, they found the complaint had merit and should be reviewed by the council. It wasn’t baseless, frivolous or a political attack. It was a possible violation of city ordinance (BTW, it was, but we will get to that in a moment).

Neitzert’s trip was paid for by Community Leaders of America.

The conference participants were limited to Mayors and Council Members who were registered Republicans.

As you can see, the trip was 1) paid for by a political lobbying group and 2) it was a ‘partisan’ event. These are clear FACTS.

So kids, this is why it was a violation of city ordinance;

City Ordinance 35.053(e) provides that a city council member shall not “directly or indirectly solicit any gift, or accept any gift whether in the form of money, services, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, thing or promise, or any other form, under circumstances in which it could reasonably be inferred that the gift was intended to influence, or could reasonably be expected to influence the officer, in the performance of their official duties, or was intended as a reward for any official action…”

That last part is important, it doesn’t matter if Greg decided to implement policy from what he learned at the conference, it matters because he should not have gone and been influenced in the first place. But some of these statements in the findings have you scratching your head a little bit;

Neitzert notified the City Council by email dated October 17, 2019, that he was attending the conference at no expense to the City.

So why did councilor Neitzert decide to send the council this (NON CONFIDENTIAL) email on the 2nd day of the conference? Why didn’t he tell them a day before he left or a day after he returned? And why didn’t he mark the email as confidential? This question was NEVER answered. As someone said to me, ‘Greg was trying to cover his a**’ and by not asking it to be confidential (even though legally cannot ask for it to be because by using his official city email, it becomes a public document) he knew that it would be leaked to the public and media. But like I just said, you can’t leak something that isn’t legally confidential. Notice there is NO mention of this supposed ‘leaked’ email in the findings. Because it was irrelevant.

No Council Members questioned or complained about Neitzert’s attendance at the conference.

Which proves that councilors Starr and Brekke were NOT colluding with Greg’s opponent. They both could have taken that email and filed a complaint themselves. They did not. No collusion.

Neitzert was not expected to implement policies or vote on issues in a manner consistent with the ideologies of the conference’s sponsoring organization or the conference corporate sponsors.

Neitzert was not asked to vote on a particular issue in a particular manner as a “quid pro quo” for attending the conference.

Neitzert’s attendance at the conference was not intended to influence any issue or matter before the Sioux Falls City Council.

I would say that these three findings are blatantly UNTRUE based on the fact that NO evidence was presented of the contrary. Neitzert has yet to tell the public or the city council either orally or written what he learned at this paid for partisan event. The mayor and former deputy chief of staff have also never told the public what they ‘learned’ at this event. We have no idea if Greg or the Mayor has worked on policies or voted for policies that are pushed by this partisan organization. All we have is Greg’s sworn testimony, hardly a legal precedence to lean on.

The Board of Ethics did not prove by clear and convincing evidence that Neitzert violated Ordinance 35.053(e) and the Complaint 20B should accordingly be dismissed.

The BOE didn’t have to ‘prove’ anything, all they said was there was ‘probable cause’ for the city council to look into it and hold a hearing. The irony of this is that I sat directly behind the Chair of the BOE, Mr. Jack Marsh and their appointed attorney throughout the hearing, and I saw Jack repeatedly lean into counsel and whisper remarks with a grin on his face, and rarely a look of concern. It almost seemed he was amused by the proceedings. Trust me, I had some laughable moments, but mostly because of the incompetence in the way the hearing was being conducted by the chair. Further proof this was a Kangaroo Kourt from the beginning. If Mr. Marsh had some jokes to tell us, maybe he could have waited for recess to tell us them by the swing set?

Folks, it’s all there in black and white, it was a paid for partisan trip meant to influence Mr. Neitzert (and the mayor). His legal counsel never proved otherwise, neither did the BOE’s counsel. Greg clearly violated ordinance, and his 5 best friends dismissed it and they were so sloppy and sophomoric about the way they dismissed it, they further proved he violated it in these findings. The are basically saying in the findings that Greg violated X, Y and Z, but it is okay because Greg has never told us what he ‘learned’. It would be like me fighting a speeding ticket in court and the judge dismissing it after he asked me, “Mr. Ehrisman were you speeding?” and my defense is, “I don’t know your honor, I wasn’t looking at the speedometer I was looking at the road in front of me.”


#1 Steve on 09.27.20 at 11:19 am

This whole debacle is truly entertaining. What has happened according to the ‘friends’ is a non event. That just shows the ethics level of those said friends. So, when Greg runs for Mayor in 5 years this will barely be mentioned and he will hope the voting citizens will have forgotten his ethics and integrity issues. We can only hope that he just isn’t a clone of Mayor no tie as this is who seems to be his mentor.

#2 Mike Lee Zitterich on 09.27.20 at 11:56 am

What can we learn from all of this … that if ‘we’ do not hold our elected officials accountable for their actions, their public record, their actions, their responsibility; our ‘elected officials’ will become corrupted by power, which is always protected by the powers at-large whom financially can pay off them off. Lets not forget, the real power in this city are the land developers, law firms, and large multi-national corporations whom do business in this town with the “intent” to steer legislation back in their favor.

We see it everyday for those of us whom pay attention; and that is what makes this little ‘TRIP’ by one member of the City Council so troubling. It was a trip, paid for by a Multi-National Corporation to provide the travel; of which the “Councilor” and two others were sent to gain “Foreign Policy” information on how “OTHER CITIES” or better terminology – Local Governments operate.

Once our elected officials, whether that be our State legislators, city councilors gain this information, at some point in the distant future, that policy always finds its way back into our own “local ordinances”. Which then violates that oath we take to each other as “residents” of the City, and as “Citizens” of the State of South Dakota of the capability of “Self Governoring” ourselves by personally writing our own Statutes, Codes, Regulations, Ordinances, etc-etc.

Then on top of that, we got these two political parties whom now go out and divide the people into two distinct “kingdoms” called the Republicans vs Democrats, whom now collaborate privately in those two groups to discuss future policies, draft legislative documents, and appropriate our tax dollars “their image”.

IF we are to be a free republic of self righteous people, people whom have the constitutional right to self govern ourselves, free from foreign interference, then how can ‘we’ as a city allow any City Council Member to travel outside their district paid for by a Multi-National Company – of whom do business across ‘state lines’.

It is bad enough we have allowed these huge Multi-National Companies into our City, such as Amazon, Walmart, Target, Century Theatres, Pizza Hut, Popeyes, etc-etc – but it is another thing when ‘we’ allow them to control how we write our legislation.

You, Myself, Scott, to all those 8 City Councilors have the #1 Natural Right protected by the U.S Constitution to create our own “Local Government” of which we then control how it operates by a Charter, which is protected by the State Constitution – why would any of us want that right infringed on by these Multi-National Corporations.

If you think any policy that Greg learned of will not influence him, guess again. How many times have ‘we’ watched the City Council to bind itself and incorporate the International Building, Zoning, Residential, Land Use Codes to our Local Ordinances to comply with International Law?

If the buck does not stop here, ‘we’ are going to see this happen more and more in the future. If the PEOPLE truly want to hold their electorate accountable, then we need to file complaints, vote them out every 2 years, more frequently.

How about filing a complaint how this City Council utilizes the 2nd Penny Sales Tax ….

Mike Zitterich

#3 D@ily Spin on 09.28.20 at 9:37 am

If ethics hearings have a Mulligan, can I have one for some parking tickets?

#4 "Woodstock" on 09.28.20 at 8:26 pm

“Sorry, only Republican presidents with pornstar girlfriends can get a Mulligan. They are issued by a pool boy from Liberty U.”