Sioux Falls City Councilor Neitzert’s ethics complaint dismissed by council 5-2

I knew this was going to happen. Councilors Brekke and Starr voted against it.

To say it was a total 4 1/2 hour sh*t show is an understatement. Greg continued to say it was a political hit job but when questioned about that political hit job to show evidence all he could do is shuffle papers and look down at his feet.

At one point he pretended to not know what ALEC does (you know the shadow right wing group funded by the Koch Brothers who supported this conference). It would be like asking me what the ACLU does and not being able to answer it. It was laughable at best.

I also thought it was funny how Greg was answering the RS5’s questions before they finished asking the questions. Can you say rehearsal?

Even though the complaintant John Cunningham wasn’t provided around a 170 pages of evidence before the hearing he did a fine job of answering questions, and he beat down this was a political hit job. John said it best, “I’m concerned about ethics not politics.”

During my public input I told them right off the bat that I knew they would dismiss so I would go into the huff and puff of the meeting.

• I pointed out the clear conflict of interest and the bias the Mayor had tonight chairing the meeting since he attended the event with Greg. (I did not mention this in testimony, but Greg revealed tonight the former Deputy COS to the mayor TJ Nelson also attended the event with them. Guess who Nelson works for now? Greg’s counsel, Redstone. Hmmmmmmm.)

• I added that it was a partisan event because only Republicans were invited to attend.

• I said Greg didn’t bother to tell the council until he was at the event, I said, “It would be like calling my mom and telling her I was thinking about taking a vacation in Hawaii and when she asked me when, I would respond, I’m here now.” (My mother has a strict policy with me that I tell her in advance before I take long trips).

• Greg has yet to give the council or public a report of what he learned, though he was a chatterbox about it tonight, we still don’t know.

• I also took issue with the term ‘Common Practice’ and that the BOE failed in their duties to point this out but present NO evidence (Even Councilor Soehl brought this up in the final testimony). I said the only other person I can think of in the past 20 years that does this quite frequently is the current mayor.

• I went on to remind them that a city councilor’s email not flagged confidential by the city attorney because of pending litigation is a PUBLIC DOCUMENT and owned by the taxpayers (they tried to claim Starr leaked this document) I also said the same about Brekke pointing out chapters in the charter to citizens. I compared it to John Cunningham asking assistance from a city librarian to find a law book.

• I ended by saying this could have saved everyone a lot of time, capital and heartache if Neitzert would have not made this confidential and just apologized for what he did and reference that the code is vague. That would have proven he has real ethics and integrity, since he said several times during his testimony he ‘did nothing wrong’. Well then why hide behind confidentiality?

Lastly, I just want to say I agreed with Councilor Kiley’s final statement on this tonight, “This whole thing was disgusting.” It sure was. It sure was. It was a classic switcharoo of killing the messenger. And that was disgusting. Greg violated the ordinance and got off. That is disgusting Ricky and you enabled it.


#1 l3wis on 09.10.20 at 11:55 pm

I started thinking about this tonight after I left the ‘disgusting’ meeting. Greg has really turned into the ‘George Costanza’ of the city council. I wish Starr in his line of questioning would have said to Greg, “And you want to be my latex salesman!?”

#2 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 09.11.20 at 1:17 am

Speaking of Costanza, Greg is the kind of guy who would take a bookstore book into the bookstore’s public restroom to study policy, and then complain afterwards, that he had to buy the book for taking it into the restroom.

#3 "Very Stable Genius" on 09.11.20 at 2:33 am

Let’s have some further observations of the city ethics meeting from last night:

First all, it’s fair to say that Councilman Kiley was asked to run tackle for the defense, was he not? Not so much to ask questions of the two parties involved, but to question Councilpersons Brekke and Starr instead. Kiley also seemed to be obsessed with Brekke’s help, or advise, to the plaintiff Mr. Cunningham, too.

Apparently, in the future, our city clerk won’t be able to help local citizens with their petitions that they might circulate on city issues or candidacies, because it would be unethical, I guess, according to Kiley.

Councilman Soehl’s questions I really don’t remember.

Councilman Jensen is obviously the Justice Thomas of our current city council, and need I say more?

I thought Councilman Starr and Brekke’s questions were just, fair, maybe lacking word economy at times, and informative, but now let’s talk about councilpersons Selberg and Erickson, shall we?

Now, Councilman Selberg, in questioning Cunningham, criticized Cunningham for finding Councilman Neitzert guilty without due process. So based on Selberg’s allegation towards Cunningham in an analogous sense, no one could ever be prosecuted for anything, because according to Selberg even a prosecutor has to see the defendant, or potential defendant, as not guilty, but that standard does not apply to a prosecutor, nor does it apply to an plaintiff in a civil class, like Cunningham, who as the civil plaintiff is actually the “civil prosecutor” with the help of his attorney. Innocent until proven guilty is the duty of the judge and the jury, not the prosecutor, or in this case, the plaintiff. Because, if we applied that standard to a prosecutor or plaintiff, then no one would ever be indicted or sued.

Now, Councilwoman Erickson went off on this tangent about form 20A and 20B and through her comments she was basically arguing that if it is not mentioned on the form, then it’s not illegal. But to believe that is to say that ignorance of the law is a defense itself, which it is not. Plus, I would hold to a higher standard a councilperson, who is given a copy of the ethics canons upon their election, then holding an average citizen to an equally solid understanding of our entire city ordinances, let along other state and federal laws.

I might also add that Erickson, unlike the other council members before the Dias, was not wearing a mask. She’s more Trumpian than I thought.

But now back to the germane issue at hand here, Councilmember Neitzert, Neitzert spent a lot of time claiming that this whole process was a farce. He even suggested that the fact that the mayor was not charged with an ethical violation, too, even though he attended the same trip as Neizert, that this reality proves just how much a farce this whole process was. But then again, by analogy, has Neitizert ever heard of an unindicted co-conspirator? This is often used in criminal law and can be used in civil law, too, given its sound logic and the so called deep pocket approach.

But we could file a complaint, however, against the mayor, too, if the Gang of Five would prefer. Maybe we should based on Neitzert’s logical recommendation, huh? But who then would oversee the ethics proceedings?

Plus, Neitzert suggested that because something is political, or partisan, in terms of Cunningham’s complaint as an example, that then an ethics charge can be dismissed. Well, that would be like saying that if a known racist cop legitimately saw a person of color break the speed limit, then that cop could not pull that person of color over for a speeding ticket, because the cop was a racist.

Oh, and Neitzert also kept talking about policy and how this conference trip was for policy in general and not partisan politics. Well, that argument reminds me of the guy who subscribes to Playboy magazine for the articles and not the pictures, if you ask me. (But maybe Neitzert does(?))

And I also don’t buy that Neitzert as a local politician and public office holder was not familiar with ALEC. That would be like someone from the Department of Homeland Security suggesting that they were not familiar with Al-Qaeda. (“Nope, never heard of them.”)

Now, let’s discuss one more fun thing, shall we? If you are a mobster, you get a mob attorney, right? If you are accused of a serious criminal act, you get a damn good defense attorney, right? And a good tort attorney, if you were involved in a bad accident, right? And if I was Neitzert and a Republican, I would have hired Matt McCaulley to be my attorney, too. Because, attorney Matt McCaulley, as a former legislator back in 2003 or ’04, authored and successfully passed the so called Daschle law, which prevented then Democratic Senator Daschle from running for re-election to US Senate in 2004, while also possibly being the Democratic presidential or vice presidential nominee in that same year.

Now, legislatures are partisan, which has been a key word in this whole ethics hearing, but even with a partisan legislature, McCaulley’s Daschle law was very partisan. And also keep in mind, that roughly ten year later, when the Republican state legislature repealed the Daschle law to facilitate Republican Senator Thune’s possible senate/presidential ambitions in 2016, not a single word of opposition was publicly heard from former state legislator McCaulley, which suggests to me that the former State Rep. McCaulley, Neitzert’s attorney, is a true artisan in the world of partisan politics, so he would be the perfect attorney to try to craft a defense, or a affirmative defense, for Neitzert’s partisan act, and in my opinion, unethical act as well. Because you always want to hire an attorney with knowledge of the law or act, and its ramifications or fallout, which you are accused of, right? (What? Nike’s suing? Where’s Avenatti?)

But let’s also talk about McCaulley’s vagueness argument in terms of the ethics canons, where he claims that the particular canon at issue is vague. Well, the ethics canon germane to this hearing was not vague, it was broad in an encompassing nature. Meaning that a sitting council member cannot participate in a partisan effort like a conference which only allows Republicans to attend and is not vague itself, the conference, in its mission or intent.

A broad canon or law is not unconstitutional, but a vague one is, but the ethical canon at issue in this hearing was not vague. Because if a law says you can’t eat baloney sandwiches, that’s broad for baloney lovers, but if a law says you can’t eat some sandwiches, then that’s vague and might sound like baloney to some, but who knows?

So now, let’s conclude with the mayor. Now, the mayor compared himself to Judge Judy, but said he was better than Judge Judy, too, but that’s only because Judge Judy never got away with trying a case, which she was a co-conspirator in, so that’s what makes the mayor better than Judy at something in my estimation.

I might also add, that if the mayor and Neitzert ever go on an other “policy trip”, that they should check out Australia, because they have proven to me that they can handle a kangaroo court, if you know what I mean. So maybe Captain Kangaroo would be a better comparison than Judge Judy (Caribou anyone?).

Although, on the other hand, Selberg, during this hearing, did compare himself to Rainman, and like Rainman, we now know he likes Judge Judy, or her comparison, even better.

#4 Steve on 09.11.20 at 5:47 am

Another 5 – 2 vote, imagine that. This turned out to be another sh?t show with Mayor no tie being the ringmaster. Sure hope the Mayor’s protégé has learned another lesson on transparency. The corruption continues!

#5 The Guy From Guernsey on 09.11.20 at 7:21 am

ALEC – “Limited Government, Free Markets, Federalism”

Almost completely the opposite of policy emanating from the organization and carried forward by participants of its gatherings.
Big-spending RINOs like PTH can be very comfortable at ALEC gatherings. Probably even able to shed the ‘conservative Republican’ disguise and settle in for some collegial discussions about the proper ways to give away tax receipts in the interest of advancing ‘free markets’ (aka public-private partnerships).

#6 The Guy From Guernsey on 09.11.20 at 8:06 am

AFA the City staffer involved in this – at which window do I present my ‘T.J. Nelson’ wager ticket?

Of course it was T.J.!

#7 it's a banana republic on 09.11.20 at 9:30 am

what’s really disgusting is that the “5” stuck us with a shitty events center, shitty pool, shitty admin building and a shitty parking ramp. and now i’m sure they’ll continue the disgust by their annual “raising of the taxes because it’s the responsible thing to do” routine.
if dick wants to be disgusted there’s plenty of it to go around.

#8 Pundit on 09.11.20 at 11:43 am

VSG: excellent summary & analysis. IMHO, you’d provide a valuable public service by condensing your blog comment into a Public Input address at the next Council meeting.

#9 Steve on 09.11.20 at 12:45 pm

Did anyone really think this would come out any other way? The RS votes have the majority. Protection of their own at its finest.

#10 Mike Lee Zitterich on 09.12.20 at 12:57 am

This was completely a shit show — what type of policies did they learn down in Texas, well – they learn how to adapt to all the NEW WORLD ORDER “AGENDA” items such as Uniform Commercial Codes as per the International Building Codes, Traffic Codes, Agriculteral Codes, COmmecial Codes, Residential Codes, to yes, POLCING CODES.

And now — we get AMAZON coming to Sioux Falls who was handed a Federal Grant to build their empire in Sioux Falls, while the SIOUX FALLS DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION is begging for TIFS to develop all that land. TAX PAYERS get suckered into more subsidies for the SIOUX FALLS FAITFHUL – Developers, whom by teh way PAY BIG MONEy to place their men and women on the CITY COUNCIL, and that makes the COUNCIL ‘PUPPETS’

Mike Zitterich

#11 D@ily Spin on 09.12.20 at 10:16 am

It’s always 5-2. The BOE is important for keeping the 5 designated as corrupt. It’s important for now until there’s another method to expose and remove a councilor. Meanwhile keeping the crooks exposed seems to work for keeping them from being re-elected or running for higher office.

#12 OUR Mayor's Abhorrent Behavior on 09.12.20 at 6:45 pm

I just spent 4 1/2 hours watching the Sophomoric, Unprofessional body language of a guy who leads a city of 200,000 and manages a budget of 600m.

I cannot wait for April 2022, when I can cast a vote against Paul TenHaken.

#13 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 09.12.20 at 10:22 pm

I liked it when ThuneHaken said something to the effect, that he wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do next in terms of procedure. At that point, he acted like a bored frat house president holding a Monday night frat meeting.

Any mayor who refers to himself as Judge Judy during an ethics hearing is not a mature leader. But when you are sitting next to a self-proclaimed Rainman, what should we expect? At least the real Rainman was honest about counting cards. But in this case, the cards were stacked against the public’s interest. All that was really missing for the public was green jello and eight fish sticks, but who wants to consume that, Wednesday night or not?

But then again, TenHaken is the leader from Taupeville, who doesn’t think that the folks north of 57th deserve a band either. But he does want us to get cultured.

Speaking of culture, is there a chameleon in the room, or have we just fallen victim to the “Church of the Poison Mind”?

Noem looks good. ThuneHaken looks good. Thune has always looked good. We are led by looks, but don’t let it fool you.

Ethics boy should sell his ’57 DeSoto for a ’48 Buick Roadmaster. #ExcellentDriver

#14 Scott D Hudson on 09.12.20 at 11:38 pm

I believe the first thing ALEC teaches you in any of their marching orders…i mean seminars…is how to avoid these types of problems arising from anybody so “anti-‘merican” they don’t appreciate just how ALEC is protecting their masters…I mean the God-fearing patriotic public.