Mayor TenHaken’s HATEFEST on Transparency continues with Ethics Complaint Coverups

I’m not going to mince words, this is just a blatant coverup;

But exactly how often are ethics complaints actually brought against city employees and elected officials, and for what? Well, taxpayers aren’t supposed to know.

There have been 16 ethics complaints filed with the Sioux Falls Board of Ethics since Jan. 1, 2000, according to the city’s recent response to an Argus Leader open records request.

But City Attorney Stacy Kooistra said not only could the details of those complaints not be released, neither could the roles held by those accused. Kooistra cited state law and city ordinances.

The only path to transparency on those ethics complaints is if the accused waives confidentiality.

Of those 16 complaints, only two have elected to do so.

While I don’t think there should be confidentiality to begin with, what I don’t understand is after a complaint has been thrown out, why does it remain confidential? While Kooistra may be correct that they have a right to confidentiality, I think that right ends once the complaint has been thrown out and the public has a right to see the complaint and the reason it was thrown out. I don’t think the law is on their side after the complaint has been thrown out. I believe there are two reasons why they are claiming they can do this 1) They don’t want the public reviewing the complaints that are thrown out and questioning why they were thrown out and 2) This administration has a deep, deep, deep hatred of open government, it’s almost a feverish sickness within city hall. It often amazes me why someone has such deep hate in their souls for something that is the moral, honest and the ethical thing to do AND actually saves taxpayers money.
You also have to remember that ANY complaint can be simply thrown out as frivolous if the complainant doesn’t cite the correct chapter in law/ordinance. You wonder how often this has happened? So while the complaint could have substance, it could get booted due to the ignorance of the complainant. Should the city attorney or ethics board be assisting the complainant to cite the proper ordinance? Yes!!!!

But, not only is there a DEEP HATE for open government they seem to be delusional about what an ethics indictment means;

The confidentiality of the complaints has been cited as a way to prevent their use as a weapon. Neitzert only waived confidentiality on the complaint following his successful re-election, saying there was “clear evidence of a timed and coordinated attack against my character for the purposes of defeating me in my re-election effort.”

Greg seems to be confused, because he WAS indicted on the complaint;

The board found probable cause that there had been a violation of ethical ordinances, but added that it was a ‘common practice’ for councilors to have their expenses paid for by a third party and that the City Council’s rules around such matters were broad and confusing.

The board recommended no individual sanctions against Neitzert, who was later cleared of the charge in a 5-2 vote of the City Council.

While Greg’s best buddies on the City Council dismissed punishment, Neitzert was still indicted by the ethics board and that remains unchanged. It wasn’t a political attack since the ethics board did say he violated charter. Him and the mayor accepted the gift and took the trip. A political opponent had nothing to do with that violation. In fact, to this day Greg hasn’t been able to show evidence that the complaint filed against him had any connection to his opponent. Not one shred. The only thing the ethics commission did say was he didn’t deserve sanctions since everybody was apparently ‘doing it’ even though they gave no evidence of who these other councilors or mayors that were doing it. Even though we know TenHaken has been ‘doing it’ quite a bit.

As I said from the beginning, this is clearly just a coverup. I would love it if Attorney Kooistra provided us the laws and ordinances that cover, coverups but not until he figures out prior restraint and the 1st Amendment.



3 comments ↓

#1 D@ily Spin on 02.13.21 at 1:40 pm

Having been physically threatened at the old council chambers by the code enforcer who was not a part of the hearing, my complaint would not be taken. Also, I was threatened by the Director of Services at a hearing he later declared didn’t happen but I could prove did.
The purpose of complaints is to resolve issues. The system doesn’t work at city hall because there’s no acknowledgement or due process. If you have a complaint, settle it privately.

#2 Mike Lee Zitterich on 02.17.21 at 1:49 pm

I would assume the proper question to ask, is what does State Law say about how to preserve any reports, opinion, and records stemming from Council Hearings?

IS there a state law stating how to manage information concerning complaints once thrown out? Or does the State allow the local government to make their own rules concerning complaints ripped up?

I guess, I would equate this to a “hearing” between you and your neighbor to settle a personal complaint over who stepped foot across the property line;

Do you keep record of the complaint if the two parties decided to just ignore or throw out the complaint once decided the complaint was invalid to the circumstance?

There would be no need to keep the complaint, unless you knew for a fact you may have to utilize the ‘evidence’ and the knowledge of said ‘meeting’ in a court of law, which has the ultimate jurisdiction to settle such complaints.

So – if it was decided that the first complaint was not valid, and not acceptable due to a technical error; the CITY (property owner) then decides for itself what to do with the invalid complaint/information; it can choose to toss it in the garbage; I mean, if the two parties agreed to the fact its invalid, there is no use for the information at that point. The two parties by agreement decided it information was not usable.

The STATE would protect the rights of the agreement, to keep the property holder (information) protected, and I do not think in state law, there is no provision on how to regulate complaints that are agreed to be NOT valid. The CITY simply just throws awy the documents. or keeps them confidential to protect both parties.

Just brain storming…

#3 l3wis on 02.17.21 at 3:55 pm

I would agree if it was a private matter, elected officials ethics should not be a private matter.