Reverberations from the Greg Neitzert Board of Ethics impeachment ruling

Guest Post-Cameraman Bruce

The reverberations from the Greg Neitzert Board of Ethics impeachment ruling is still causing waves in the Board of Ethics schedule. On Tuesday, October 6th, 2020 at 9:00am, of course at a time where few can attend, there are two Ethics requests. Remember, Greg Neitzert was impeached (or indicted) by the Board of Ethics probable cause letter sent to the City Council causing the recent quasi-judicial hearings by the body.

AGENDA LINK

The first ethics agenda item is an advisory request from City Council member Janet Brekke. Brekke is asking for clarity in the accusations leveled at her by the impeached Greg Neitzert. If you remember, Neitzert claimed John Cunningham had compromised her when he asked Brekke (a former city attorney) for clarity on the ethics process since the Board of Ethics and the city attorney refused to explain the process and their decision to him.

Brekke, like all city council members are able to assist their constituents where possible. Come to think of it, if they do not assist their constituents, then what good are they?

During the process, the soon to be impeached Neitzert sent ex parte communications to council members, attorneys and the Board of Ethics members in efforts to sway their actions and besmirch the integrity of Brekke and Cunningham. There should be another ethics complaint against Neitzert for this attempt to improperly attack Brekke. You notice in the packet, a threatening email from Neitzert, sent to Brekke and Pat Starr, promising retribution, as council chair, if they did not recuse themselves from the process.

How stupid is the impeached Sioux Falls City Council Chair Greg Neitzert? He is making some sort of threats of retribution against other members of the panel and letting the members of the Board of Ethics in on his plan? What is ethical or where is integrity in his planned attack?

The second agenda item on the BOE agenda is a REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATION (attachment 3) filed by David Zokaities. Zokaities is asking the Board to investigate and release the evidence, with all information, the Board found to make their statement in the Sioux Falls Board of Ethics’ Report on complaint 20-B and recommendations to City Council:

c. The Board finds other incidents of past travel by City officers for which a third party paid expenses. While the Board did not thoroughly investigate or determine the full extent of such practices by City officers or officials, the practice appears to be common. The Board did not determine whether attendance at any prior event(s) was specifically improper.

Zokaities is now asking the Board to do their job, to finish the investigation, they alluded to and expose the violations. If the city officials and staff are making secret trips, we the public must know how they are using their positions to possibly corrupt our government. Are they getting more illegal free trips? Are they getting more illegal free meals? Are they getting boats parked in their driveways or Rolex watches for doing their gifters work? We don’t know since our administration was hired by the people in 2018 by promising transparency. If it was happening before 2018, we also need to know. The Board made the accusation in writing, so let’s see the evidence and then, let the prosecutions begin?

If a librarian can’t accept a meal or honorarium to serve on a national board, the cops could not receive discount gift cards or the Planning Director had to give up his conflicting corporate advisory position in recent BOE hearings, then we must know who is taking 3rd party paid for trips or meetings. If the officials are not taking the trips, then the BOE must clarify what they are talking about.

No evidence related to this statement was released to the public or Council to complete the Council’s impeachment process. There is a gap in public knowledge. If city officials who are elected, appointed or staff are making illegal trips, we the public have a right to know. The impeached Neitzert in his only “report” to the council was an email sent while at the meeting proudly told of the group’s mission on certain issues. Funny thing is, he never let anyone know what he was going to attempt to do on the group’s behalf. Zokaities wants to know as we all do, what Neitzert and the rest of the “offending” city elected, appointed or staff have been doing.

Sioux Falls does not have any other method to find out this information. The Board and Council has been derelict in their duties up to this point to tell who and what they were accusing the get to this answer. Who and where are they traveling using the city credentials they have been secretly using.

The Board of Ethics and the Sioux Falls City Council have, through these recent actions, shown we might as well shut down the public’s right to know and also hold the officials responsible for their actions. Shame on them and shame on us for letting this happen.

Thank you to Janet Brekke and David Zokaities for helping the rest of us clarify the issues raised in the impeachment of Greg Neitzert. The public must show up, if even to just listen and watch. These meetings seem to always be at a time few people can attend. By showing up we let the Board know we care about the corruption possibilities this entire scheduling process and the resulting decisions create.



12 comments ↓

#1 Matthew Paulson on 10.03.20 at 7:57 pm

You would think Bruce “Cameraman” Danielson would take a minute to look up the definition of the word impeachment before using it so liberally.

#2 Cameraman Bruce on 10.04.20 at 9:57 am

Matt, what’s your version of impeachment?

The term impeachment is simple, it is a political indictment to bring charges against an officeholder, elected or appointed. The impeachment process has been part of governing processes for hundreds of years.

How’s this simplified version of the term and process from Wiki – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impeachment :

Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body levels charges against a government official. Impeachment does not in itself remove the official definitively from office; it is similar to an indictment in criminal law, and thus it is essentially the statement of charges against the official. In some countries, the impeached official is provisionally removed, while in others, they remain in office during the trial. An impeached official must face the possibility of conviction — in many jurisdictions, by another legislative vote — and a judgment that convicts the official on the articles of impeachment generally entails the official’s definitive removal from office.

In the Home Rule Charter of Sioux Falls process, the Board of Ethics found probable cause to impeach Greg Neitzert. The City Council had to use the indictment of probable cause passed on to it in the form of an impeachment letter to then have the hearing and eventual vote.

Greg Neitzert will forever be the first city official in Sioux Falls history to be impeached.

#3 Matthew Paulson on 10.04.20 at 7:35 pm

Well, there are a couple of things wrong with calling Greg impeached.

Per your definition, impeachment requires charges (typically related to criminal wrongdoing) to originate from a legislative body. The alleged ethics violation charge was brought forth by an individual citizen and then referred on by the board of ethics. At no point did the city council (a legislative body) level charges against Greg. They were acting in a quasi-judicial matter to determine the validity of the charge that was presented to them by the board of ethics.

Your definition also says that an impeached official must face the possibility of conviction and removal from office. That did not happen in this case. I am also not certain that a city councilor could be removed from office for an ethics violation (see: City Ordinance §35.999).

#4 good grief on 10.05.20 at 9:12 am

if “impeached” is too strong a word for you mr paulsen, how about we just go with “sleazy?” and while we’re at it how about we tack that moniker on erickson, kiley, selberg, soehl, jensen (who really had no business being involved in any of this and so far has done an impressive job of bringing everyone together with peace and harmony) and the king of sludge Mayor Pauley. been a republican my entire adult life, these people are feckless, self important, self serving turds.

#5 Cameraman Bruce on 10.05.20 at 9:36 am

Matt, according to your version of impeachment, should we then consider the actions of the the Board of Ethics (BOE) the first BOE indictment of a Sioux Falls City Council member?

Any Sioux Falls resident can request an investigation for violations of the actions of a city official or employee.

In our Home Rule Charter unicameral based legislative system, the process for indictment / impeachment has been handed over to the Board of Ethics. The step usually handled by a legislative body (such as the House of Representatives). The City Council is to receive the indictment / impeachment and rule.

You can think of the BOE as a grand jury in a criminal proceeding. A grand jury is used as finders of probable cause in a criminal matter and they are not elected, they are chosen by a process.

The charter clearly states the Board of Ethics shall investigate and determine if complaints are frivolous or if there is probable cause the complaint is valid. If a probable cause issue is uncovered, the charges shall or must be heard by the City Council within 30 days of being officially notified.

The Board of Ethics is the legal body to file the charges with, in order to answer John Cunningham’s complaint, not the City Council. The City Council’s job was to determine if “punishment” was warranted.

The Neitzert complaint was heard, investigated and Neitzert was impeached (indicted) but not removed from office by the City Council.

In simple terms, the BOE found reasons for Greg Neitzert to be impeached and did. The City Council did not convict. It’s simple.

#6 D@ily Spin on 10.05.20 at 9:45 am

There’s simply no reason for a city councilor to travel. Per the charter, the council is the mayor’s fan club. Councilors must not be eligible for travel perks, formally or 3rd party. Take a pretty picture with the mayor. Otherwise, be sure you or your cardboard figure get displayed at council meetings.

#7 The Guy From Guernsey on 10.05.20 at 10:57 pm

Multiple counts in which elected City officials (City Councilor and Mayor) violate city code.
City Council President uses intimidation and threat to bring a colleague to heel.
And then we’ve got some twit parsing semantics as a distraction.
Or are you supportive of rotten-to-the-core governance, Mr Paulson?

#8 Matthew Paulson on 10.06.20 at 7:36 pm

Wow.

Anonymous name calling and making unsubstantiated accusations over the internet.

I guess that is par for the course this blog’s commenters.

Wonder if any of you will ever be brave enough to attach your real names to your insults and conspiracy theories…

#9 are you kidding? on 10.07.20 at 2:09 pm

why is anyone’s name important to you bud? perhaps some of us don’t want you or “i have more tools in the toolbox” snooping around in our business. bottom line, niezert broke the rule and was enabled by his allies on the council.

#10 The Guy From Guernsey on 10.07.20 at 10:00 pm

“… unsubstantiated accusations …”?

huh? Ya mean Jensen is not really the peace and harmony councilor?

#11 The Guy From Guernsey on 10.07.20 at 10:20 pm

Mr Paulson,
If the action here in the comment section @ South DaCola is too rough and tumble for you, might I suggest we put bandages on your owie, wipe your nose and send you back to the “Anti-Stehly” Facebook group which you created?

#12 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 10.08.20 at 12:45 pm

Matt, you appeared to disappear on this site during the last council race. Where you doing mission work? #TopOrBottom?