UPDATE II: Can the Sioux Falls City Council consider a 4th meeting in January a regular meeting for the next month?

UPDATE: Councilor Starr attempted to change the meeting tonight to a ‘special meeting’ with pushback from the council and especially the city clerk, Tom Greco. Greco argued you can have a rescheduled meeting any time. While true, he is ignoring this part of the charter which requires any 4th meeting in the same month be called a Special Meeting.

The city council shall hold meetings on the first, second, and third Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at the Carnegie Town Hall. The first meeting of the month shall be designated the regular meeting. …. When the day fixed for a city council meeting falls on a date designated by law as a legal or national holiday, the meeting shall be held at the same hour on the next succeeding day, not a holiday.

They tried to get Pat to withdraw his motion that was seconded by Brekke, but he said he would not so all 8 of them voted it down. When Brekke was asking Greco about issues raised about the time of the meeting, one of the councilors said into their microphone ‘By Who?’. Inferring outside influence. (it sounded like Neitzert or Jensen?)

Sierra said she would probably be filing another open meetings violation since they chose NOT to call it a special meeting.

As you can see in July, the council had 3 regular meetings and 2 special meetings. Notice NO 4th meeting is considered a regular meeting.

I will try to lay this out to make it as less confusing as possible before we go into the back and forth with the City Council and City Clerk. Basically by charter the city council can have 1-3 REGULAR meetings per month and if they have additional meetings that month to do business (voting) they MUST call that meeting a ‘special’ meeting in which 6 city councilors sign off on. My curiosity peaked this week when I found it strange that the city council didn’t have a meeting on Tuesday but called a meeting this Monday, January 31st and are considering it a regular meeting for February because they moved the meeting to Monday because they are going to the legislature on Tuesday. Nothing wrong with moving meeting dates, they already voted on it, the problem is any additional meetings after the 3rd regular within the same month should be called a ‘special’ meeting. The city clerk disagrees.

Bruce Danielson sent this email to the entire city council and the city clerk, Tom Greco;

Dear friends,

I’m asking a question regarding process in our continuing efforts to pursue good government and avoid potential problems which may arise from improperly holding a Regular City Council monthly meeting in the wrong month.

How is it possible or legal to have a first or the regular meeting for February when in fact it is a 4th meeting in January?

Should it be a special meeting for the month of January? It is in reality a 4th meeting for January and thus a Special Meeting.

The Charter of the City of Sioux Falls states:

§ 30.001  COUNCIL MEETINGS.

……

   (b)   The city council shall hold meetings on the first, second, and third Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at the Carnegie Town Hall. The first meeting of the month shall be designated the regular meeting. …. When the day fixed for a city council meeting falls on a date designated by law as a legal or national holiday, the meeting shall be held at the same hour on the next succeeding day, not a holiday.

……..

   (d)   The city council may by resolution, when necessary, change the time and place of any meeting. The resolution shall set forth the circumstances necessitating the change. The resolution shall be published at least 24 hours prior to the rescheduled meeting. The city clerk, or the city clerk’s designee, shall give each council member written notice either in person, by mail, email or other electronic means of any change from the meeting days established by this section.

Nowhere in the Sioux Falls Charter Â§ 30.001  COUNCIL MEETINGS does it state the possibility of conducting a February Regular Meeting in January or any other month. If this was possible, the City Council could hold all of its monthly regular meetings in any month: i.e. why not hold all the monthly Regular Meetings on different days in January or even all on the same day at different times so the requirement is met all at once?

The relationship-building efforts in Pierre on the first Tuesday of February does not constitute a legal holiday but it has become a tradition with the Council to use the Monday prior for the meeting. It would be legal and proper when it is in the legal month. In Charter, when the Tuesday is not available for a meeting, the next business day is available for the meeting or the Wednesday. But we have a problem, the Planning Commission normally gathers on the 1st Wednesday at 6pm, so a likely meeting day, thus meeting the legal requirement, is the following Thursday or February 3rd. When setting the calendar, the Council should have noted the issue and set the three February meetings to be the 8th, 15th, and 22nd to meet legal calendar requirements. How is it possible to deem a meeting as legal for the month and it not be in the month? The legal notices and necessary transactions for a proper City Council Regular meeting would appear to be legal only when commenced in the legal month it is intended for.

The Charter does allow for Special Meetings to be called but nowhere in Â§ 30.002  SPECIAL MEETINGS allows for a Regular meeting to be held in a different month called for in Charter:

§ 30.002  SPECIAL MEETINGS.

   (a)   The mayor, acting mayor or six members of the city council may call special meetings of the city council whenever in its opinion the public business may require it.

   (b)   Whenever a special meeting is called, a notice in writing signed by the mayor, acting mayor or the council members requesting the meeting shall be prepared by and filed with the city clerk, or the city clerk’s designee, and served forthwith upon each member of the city council at least 24 hours prior to the meeting or by 4:00 p.m. the day prior to the meeting, whichever occurs first, either in person, by e-mail or other electronic means, or by notice left at the city council member’s place of residence. The notice shall state the date and hour of the meeting and the purpose for which the meeting is called and, whenever reasonably possible, the background and objective of any item that requires action by the city council. The notice shall be posted on the city’s website by the city clerk’s office. However, the provisions of this section do not apply to any information that is specifically exempt from disclosure under state public record laws in effect at the time. Additional printed material may be distributed to the governing body in accordance with SDCL 1-27-1-16. No business shall be transacted at the meeting except such as is stated in the notice.

   (c)   No special meeting shall be held until at least 24 hours after the call is issued.

The City Council must move the Regular Meeting to February 8th 2022 to meet the requirement of having the monthly meeting in the month stated to conduct required city business in the legal month. Having the meeting on Monday, January 31st, 2022 will make it a 4th meeting of January and it becomes a Special Meeting for January.

On behalf of the thousands of Sioux Falls voters, I kindly ask you to consider the issues I have brought forth and reconsider what day to conduct the February 1st City Council regular meeting.

Respectfully, Bruce Danielson

Sioux Falls City Clerk Tom Greco is the only one that responded with an explanation;

Bruce,

Thanks for your e-mail.  The City Council is permitted to change the time and place of any meeting and neither the City Charter nor City Ordinance provide any restrictions as to the rescheduling except that at least one Regular Meeting will be held each month.  In turn, moving a meeting from February 1st to January 31st is permissible. 

As noted, the City Charter requires at least one Regular Meeting per month and further provides for the ability to meet more frequently and to designate which meeting is deemed the Regular Meeting. As such, City Ordinance set the first, second, and third Tuesday of each month as meeting days with the first meeting of the month a Regular Meeting.  Again, the Council retains the ability to change the time of any of the aforementioned meetings to a different time and place (which may or may not coincide with another meeting date).  On several occasions in the past 15 years previous Councils have changed meetings from one of the aforementioned days to another of the aforementioned days, which effectively canceled one of the meetings. This was a permissible alternative for the February 1st meeting (i.e. change such business to February 8th), but not chosen for obvious reasons. In no case has the Council ever gone a full month without at least one Regular meeting. 

Because City Ordinance establishes the first meeting of a month as the Regular Meeting, the meeting of February 8th would be the Regular Meeting for the month of February.

Thanks and if you have any questions please let me know.

Tom

Bruce responded back before the agenda was posted, but hasn’t heard a response back;

Tom,

My main question remains unanswered. This will be a considered a January Special meeting when this meeting is posted today?

You stated the first meeting of the month will be on the 8th, so by your own email, you are saying this will be a Special meeting for January because it is in January.

How will it a rescheduled Regular meeting for February, moved into January, when you have not had the first Regular meeting for February. The Charter is clear there cannot be more than 3 Regular meetings in a month. It appears it would not be proper or likely legal to label a 4th meeting in January as a Regular meeting when there have already had 3 meetings in January.

For historical and legal reasons, a Regular meeting not held in the month it is required to be in, will likely cause issues in the future and a bad precedent. In my research I have not found a monthly Regular meeting not held in the month it was scheduled for as the Charter lays out.

BTW, you stated there was an oblivious reason, please explain what was oblivious.

Also, will the Council have a 3rd meeting in the month of February as required by Charter?

NOTE: Some would say this is just splitting hairs. Yes and no. While there is nothing strange or nefarious about what is being conducted at the Monday meeting, there is the question of properly following procedures and the charter as Bruce laid out. We have seen this over and over again with this administration and council staff. Missing agenda items, not properly posting meetings, not allowing public input (I will have more on that next week) and even public officials accosting me after meetings in the lobby as a form of intimidation and a violation of my 1st Amendment rights. Rules that are laid out in the charter for how we conduct business should ALWAYS be followed. If the council, the mayor or citizens don’t like certain rules, you can change them, but if they are on the books they should be followed. This should be a special meeting and it looks like the council is setting themselves up for another open meetings violation due to sloppy governing and ignorance.



18 comments ↓

#1 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 01.29.22 at 10:54 am

February is not only the shortest month, it is also the sneakiest month, too. It likes to steal from other months. Why do you think it has 29 days every once in a while? It’s got a lot going on in its time. It needs space. First of all, you got Abe and George’s birthdays (Ronny’s too), Valentine Days, often Lent starts in February (Not this year though), and don’t forget about Groundhog Day as well. In fact, the whole month is full*. You know if we took the 31st from January and the 1st from March, then February would have 30 days and then be a normal month. So, the hell with this leap year thing, we’ll let future generations worry about that when the calendar gets thrown off and people find themselves celebrating Christmas in 90 degree heat….. And maybe they can just blame it all on global warming.

*
https://www.thespruce.com/special-days-and-observances-in-february-1448885

#2 "Woodstock" on 01.29.22 at 10:55 am

“Say, don’t forget about William Henry Harrison”… “He was born on February 9th”…

#3 D@ily Spin on 01.29.22 at 11:20 am

It’s been proven the mayor makes the rules and decisions irregardless of the council and clerk. Per Strong Mayor Charter he’s a dictator. The council and ordinances are for appearance so there’s no organized citizen petition for replacing the socialist charter. I suspect the sudden change is to sneak in recent proposals for private project spending. Then there’s no proper notice for public review.

What happens when a mayor leaves office without the power, prestige, and wealth associated with a king?

#4 Further Fear & Loathing on 01.29.22 at 1:59 pm

Our state legislature often places a sheet over its clock in the final hours so it can continue to “legislate”. January has become February. If time does not matter, then there are more hours to pick bananas throughout the republic.

#5 Fearing the Fuhrer & More on 01.29.22 at 4:43 pm

Einstein claimed that time was relative, that the fabric of gravitational pull could control light, that time itself was a reality unique to ones own presence like a traveler traveling at the speed of light versus one who was not traveling at all. But that the speed of light was the universal governor of speed, which means that one could not go beyond that speed even if you are no longer in touch with the reality of others outside your realm who live in the real world unlike our current political leaders. Perhaps, our current leaders are being sucked into the abyss of a black hole at light speed, which has yet to grab us yet, but it is only a matter of time, or would that be matter and time?

#6 The Guy From Guernsey on 01.29.22 at 5:04 pm

Probably appropriate that Greco is the sole respondent. It would be his job to respond on behalf of the recipients.

Bruce is correct with this, “When setting the calendar, the Council should have noted the issue and set the three February meetings to be the 8th, 15th, and 22nd to meet legal calendar requirements.”

Application of Occam’s razor – The Council, more likely “staff” (Greco?) set the Council calendar and failed to recall / foresee the issue with the date of the legislative confab.
There must be agenda items which require action prior to Feb 8, items which everybody thought would get accompished on Feb 1.

Lots of circular talk in the response by Greco. That should not suprise anyone.

#7 Mike Lee Zitterich on 01.29.22 at 7:13 pm

January 31st was previously selected more than a month ago, if you people actually pay attention, this discussion came up back in December, as the “council” began making plans to go to Pierre. And Tom Greco is correct:

City Charter Section 2.11 – City Charter Section 2.11 (a) — Meetings. The council shall meet regularly at least once in every month at such times and places as the council may prescribe by rule. If the council meets more than once a month, it may designate which meeting is the regular monthly meeting. If they don’t so designate one, the first meeting of the month is the regular monthly meeting. Special meetings may be held on the call of the mayor or of six (6) or more members and, whenever practicable, upon no less than twelve hours notice to each member. All meetings shall be public, except as allowed by state law.

It is an ordinance created by the City Council that created the “schedule” per each monthly meeting.

Also: The Ordinance states the “Council” Can change the date per “LEGAL” reasons where the date conflicts with other public hearings – aka State Legislative Functions.

“WE” would have had to adopt a resolution to change the February Schedule to 8, 15, 22. OR – no less than 6 members of the Council could simply select a different “date” to hold a future meeting where conflict created an issue in the schedule.

I am one of the few, like Scott, who does pay attention to city council discussion, and I do recall this coming up at the last meeting of December as they spoke on “Legislative Priorities” in Pierre. They had already discussed the fact in moving the February 1 Meeting to January 31 in preparation of attending meetings in Pierre.

#8 Lol on 01.30.22 at 8:08 pm

This is the where the voices in Bruce’s head get together to talk to each other.

#9 Mike Lee Zitterich on 01.31.22 at 2:58 pm

I have to add, I remember this conversation not only occurring in December 2021, but I also recall the previously, this very same discussion was raised by the City Council earlier in 2021 when they chose to move a date up 1 day to Monday as well..

At the time, I do recall as part of that Council Discussion – I think it was Councilor Greg Nietzert who stressed this point, “…essentially by getting approval of 6 members, we are creating a special meeting for the month, effectively moving the first meeting of the month to the last day of the previous month”

So yes, I am pretty sure, they, the Council having the Council Meeting on January 31, 2021 is noting more than a “Special Meeting” in legal terms, in order to effectively conduct City Business on the ‘regular scheduled meeting list” as the ordinance states.

The February 8, 2021 Meeting now becomes the “regular meeting for February” while the February 1st meeting is simply moved 1 day up to January 31st becoiming a Special Meeting approved by 6 Members.

I do not think the Council acted in a suspicious manner, I do believe they chose this path, thanks to a scheduling conflict related to Legislative Hearings.

The COUNCIL would have had to create an Amended Ordinance to change the February Dates, then later on adopt another Amended Ordinanced to change the meeting schedule back.

Let’s face it, the Charter is written in such manner, that it allows for the PEOPLE to make these types of changes as necessary to conduct city business.

I do not believe neither the Mayor nor any member of the Council did anything wrong here.

#10 Mike Lee Zitterich on 02.01.22 at 12:49 am

The City Council DID IN FACT legally move the February 1st Meeting to January 31, 2022. As I stated above, this discussion took place late last year in November.

RESOLUTION 138-21 – ALL EIGHT CITY COUNCILORS voted YES to move the meeting up to January 31, 2022.

This as I stated, meant the February 8, 2022 Council Meeting by “Charter” now becomes the Regular Meeting.

NO WHERE in the “Charter” does it say they must have 3 meetings, it only says it has to have to meet Regularily 1 time each month.

City ORDINANCE adopted by the people, states that “WE” shall have 3 City Council Meetings and states they shall be the first 3 Tuesdays of each month, unless changed. The Ordinance does NOT define which one is the “regular meeting” – which then injects Charter Section 2.11 into the mix defining the “FIRST COUNCIL MEETING” of the Month to be the Regular Meeting.

The COUNCIL did not act illegally, nor outside their boundaries, January ended up with 4 meetings; while Feburary 8th now is set to be the “Regular Meeting” for February.

Mike Zitterich

#11 Zitee on 02.01.22 at 8:36 pm

Ordinance does not allow for more than 3 Regular meetings per month so how can there be 4 Regular meetings? I guess the Clerk wants to move the extras to July as he stated during the Monday meeting?

#12 Mike Lee Zitterich on 02.01.22 at 10:18 pm

Thank You for using part of my actual name, it means the world to me…

Charter Section 2.11 – Meetings. The council shall meet regularly at least once in every month at such times and places as the council may prescribe by rule. If the
council meets more than once a month, it may designate which meeting is the regular monthly meeting. If they don’t so designate one, the first meeting of the month is the regular monthly meeting. Special meetings may be held on the call of the mayor or of six (6) or more members and, whenever
practicable, upon no less than twelve hours notice to each member. All meetings shall be public, except as allowed by state law.

City Ordinance 30.001 – The city council shall hold meetings on the first, second, and third Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at the Carnegie Town Hall. The first meeting of the month shall be designated the regular meeting. In addition, any meeting scheduled for the purpose of considering the override of a mayoral veto shall be deemed a regular meeting. When the day fixed for a city council meeting falls on a date designated by law as a legal or national holiday, the meeting shall be held at the same hour on the next succeeding day, not a holiday.

No where in the “CHARTER” does it restrict us from scheduling any specific number of meetings, the “CHARTER” overrides any such ordinance.

The Ordinance does nothing more than set at minimum 3 Council Meetings, with the ‘first one’ being the regular meeting.

They can add and subtract meetings with a ‘vote’ of the governing body, and and vote to have a special meeting where necessary for a stated purpose.

IF we wanted to ‘restrict’ a month to any given # of meetings, it would be codified in the ‘charter’, and the charter does NOT restrict the # of council meetings.

The CLERK cannot simply move a council meeting, you again, misrepresented what he said as usual, he said and quote – “The Council may vote to add or subtract meetings to any calendar month as they may, there is nothing in the charter that restricts that”

If that is a rule that you wish to have, then I recommend that you go before the C.R.C or Petition the People to place on the ballot a new rule that states “There shall be no more than 3 Council Meetings in any given Month of the Calendar Year”

The Ordinance does NOT override the charter, and the charter set the minimum requirements, while the Ordinacne basically promises to have at least 3 City Council Meetings per Calendar month.

It is black and white.

#13 l3wis on 02.02.22 at 10:05 am

Mike, if you do a search of all the meetings last year there is No regular 4th council meeting, and there is only 3 special meetings. Same in 2020, no regular 4th meeting in any month. Why is this? Because any meetings above and beyond is a special meeting.

#14 Mike Lee Zitterich on 02.02.22 at 3:07 pm

For people like myself, all ‘we’ got to go on is what our City Charter says and don’t say. The weekly meetings are not special, cannot be defined as Special Meeting, the premise of the meetings are to conduct “city business” of the people, such as adopt policy, vote on licenses, and zoning petitions, and create monetary budgets, etc.

A “Special Meeting” as defined by the Charter, and clearified by city ordiance is any such ‘meeting’ that is particular towards a single subject of urgency or a cause of concern to the city, that the topic cannot wait. Such as the so called COVID Special Meetings, or a “Special Zoning Topic” or a “water main break” that is urgent to be discussed.

The “Charter” lays out the 3 forms of meetings:

a) Regular City Business (regular or normal);
b) Special Meetings (particular to urgent topic);
c) Regular Meetings to discuss a Mayor Veto

The City Charter simply says the Council only needs to meet ‘regularily’ one time a month, but gives the Council the ability to schedule as many meetings as it wants, as it feels is necessary to effectively carry out City business. They can amend the ordinance anytime to change their mind, and schedule only 1 Meeting Per Month, while calling forth “Special Meetings” of urgent needs whenever it deems necessary. They have the power to do that.

No, the City Council has well established its policy, to meet at minimum, 3 times a month to meet the business needs of the City; while by Charter, they have the right to vote to change that schedule anytime they wish to do so.

You have to understand, the “Business of the City” relates to much more than what the City Staff want, or directors, it pertains to the “RESIDENTS” themselves and what they want, need, and deem necessary to conduct business within the city itself – A business cannot operate without a city license, such as liquor licesnes, the land owners/property holders cannot develop their land, or build on their land without a permit or zoning change, and finally, the CITY itself cannot operate effectively if it cannot meet to request revenue plans, policy changes, resoltions to do projects.

Yes, you may argue, that some of that can be achieved once a month, some projects can be discussed once a year, but ‘we’ have chosen to be fluid in that public discussion, by holding 3 weekly meetings, of which 1 of them is “regular”.

IF we did not have such a schedule, the Council would be calling forth Special Meetings for specific projects nearly everyday of the week, and I dont know if that is an effective or reasonable solution.

Atleast under this manner of process, the council could simply vote to delete one meeting, in favor of adding a meeting to another month.

#15 l3wis on 02.02.22 at 5:28 pm

You are still avoiding the question. How is it that every time over the past 2 years there is more than 3 regular meetings in the month on a different day they are special meeting. There is not one single 4th regular meeting. The proof is in the pudding Mike. Any meeting held by the city council that is NOT within the framework of those 3 meetings on Tuesday night it is to be called a special meeting. Sure, it is semantics, but it is written out clearly in the Charter. Sometimes law is to be read between the lines. While they don’t say it should be called a special meeting, within the framework of how you hold regular meetings tells me anything above and beyond is a special meeting. They did it with the covid mandates, they didn’t call them regular meetings.

#16 Mike Lee Zitterich on 02.02.22 at 9:58 pm

Scott, I think you need to ‘read’ Charter Section 2.11

There is no where in the charter that says they cannot have more than 3 meetings. It clearly says they must have no less than 1 Meeting. There is no maximum. It allows them to meet as many times as they need to in order to conduct normal business of the city. Dont make up words…

“City Ordinance 30.001” is not the charter, it only lays out that we shall meet on the first three Tuesdays of the month, the ordinance does not restrict us to holding additional city council meetings.

SPECIAL MEETINGS are clearly defined in the charter as well: “Special meetings may be held on the call of the mayor or of six (6) or more members and, whenever
practicable, upon no less than twelve hours notice to each member”

We adopted a city ordinance that ‘defines’ a Special Meeting as such:

“The notice shall state the date and hour of the meeting and the purpose for which the meeting is called
and, whenever reasonably possible, the background and objective of any item that requires action by the city council.”

Special Meetings are to occur for “very specific reasons” and they are to state that reason clearly upon requesting one.

The City Council could hold a Council Meeting every day of the week if they wanted to, but less than 3 Per month (first 3 cities).

There is no semantics here…

I am reading and clearly describing what is ‘written’

THere is no middle or grey area, its black or white. IF the Charter does NOT restrict you from doing something, “YOU CAN DO IT”.

Example: No where in the Charter nor Ordinance does it restrict the City Council from electing a “CHAIR or VICE CHAIR” that is not a elected member of the city council. They can choose to appoint or elect their CHAIR from anyone in the community.

#17 l3wis on 02.03.22 at 7:00 am

Mike, I apologize, I finally get it. What you are saying is that they didn’t violate the charter on 1/31/22 but did indeed violate the charter in 2020 when they called the additional meetings for Covid Mandates ‘Special’ instead of ‘Regular’. Thanks.

#18 Mike Lee Zitterich on 02.03.22 at 9:51 pm

The COVID-19 Pandemic Ordinances would qualify as Special Meetings defined as meetings to be called for a very specific purpose.

Over the past 6 years, I believe the City Council or Mayor have called special meetings for Zoning Issues, and I believe a while back in 2011 they called a Special Meetign because of the “Water-Sewer” issue that caused sewer lines to back up and flood the city and private properties.

Those are examples of “Special Meetings” as defined by the charter, and even further defined by Ordinance.

SPECIAL MEETING — Special meeting is a meeting called by shareholders to discuss specific matters stated in the notice of the meeting. It is a meeting of shareholders outside the usual annual general meeting. It can be seen that in the context of corporate governance, some limitations can increase the shareholder support level that is required to call a special meeting beyond the one specified by state law or can eliminate the ability

The Weekly City Council Meetings that we meet each week are normal meetings to discuss normal weekly agenda’s that are necessary in order to manage the city, While they can add and subtract them anytime, they are not considered special.