UPDATE: Is it time for the Sioux Falls City Council meetings to allow Public Input remotely?

UPDATE: I was told that the inputer was just there to complain about the healthcare institutions in general and NOT Covid. I guess she has contacted the council in the past about her struggles. I will say though that you can talk about anything at public input, especially things happening in our city and she was NOT out of line talking to the Mayor and Council about her issue.

Since the Covid scare started, our city leaders and some employees have had the comfort of being able to work remotely. In fact, I don’t think I can find a single council meeting since then that ALL 8 councilors were sitting on the dais at the same time. There has always been at least one absent or on the phone during the meetings.

I actually support this and it goes back to when my good friend and city councilor Kermit Staggers fell ill and they were giving him a hard time about showing up to meetings. In fact they were down right nasty about it.

Kettle meet black.

But I also believe what is good for the goose is good for the gander. I believe that citizens should be allowed to testify on any agenda item or for general public input remotely and shouldn’t have to give a reason why.

Trust me, there would have to be an ordinance written to allow this so it is handled with decorum;

• You would call in advance of what you would be speaking about, state your name to operator, the town of your residence and be told if there is any violation of decorum the chair reserves the right to hang up on you. You would also have to repeat this when you are taken off hold and allowed to speak.

• After your allocated time is done the phone would automatically hang up.

• Since there is a time delay, while you are on hold the meeting would stream in real time and you would be que’d up by the operator.

There are numerous reasons why people may prefer to testify remotely; mobility issues, snowbird, sick, disabilities, public speaking fears, etc.

It really doesn’t matter, if the council can do this whenever convenient for them, the public should be able to also. The state legislature allows it during committee hearings, I also think several other local boards allow it like the SF Parks Board.

PAUL ADMITS AGAIN TONIGHT HE DIDN’T SIGN UP FOR THIS

During public input tonight a nice lady approached the podium during general public input to talk about some issues at the local healthcare industrial complexes. I think she was getting to talking about the hospitals being understaffed due to Covid but was cut off at 3 minutes. After Paul cut her off he told her to take her issue up with them. She asked if the city government was concerned.

No. They are not.

Paul told us he didn’t sign up for this and that’s why the private healthcare providers again today had a press conference that did not include local leaders. Paul can’t be bothered with a pesky virus, he is busy handing out $1 rentals.



15 comments ↓

#1 Totally Discusted on 02.08.22 at 10:17 pm

Can’t tell you how disgusted I am with the mayor who’s made no clubs about how much he hates this job is going to run again? Wow! I think they should do virtual public input and return it to the 5 minute at the beginning of the meeting format! If they’re going to have public input which is what this town is about and they better do it! And people better stand behind it and not just forget about it and let somebody else deal with it!
Thank you

#2 NTNLIQ on 02.09.22 at 7:31 am

In times like this, I like to ponder what Huether would do, since you liked him so much more. Clearly, the answer is more billboards with his smiling face.

#3 D@ily Spin on 02.09.22 at 9:48 am

When there’s a major issue, there’s a crowd at public input. It’s a part of the subject and measures public sentiment. Remote input would be abused. Don’t give city hall a chance to curb free speech with operator censure.

The lady talking COVID should have been dismissed at the end of her time. It’s to big an issue for the idiots on the council. Look at the months they wasted on the mask issue only to discover it’s state and federal responsibility. Everyone deserves their time. The time limit works mostly for the mayor who didn’t sign on for it. However, it also allows time for other citizens with (perhaps) more relevant matters.

#4 D@ily Spin on 02.09.22 at 9:59 am

You’re giving the mayor a reason for a six figure TIF awarded paternally or buddy style. The result would be it’ll be down most all the time. It becomes a method for eliminating public input altogether. Don’t do this. Make him run out of ideas so there’ll be uncorrupted budget left for infrastructure and bond service.

#5 Very Stable Genius on 02.09.22 at 10:55 am

So, if health care isn’t his thing and/or responsibility, then how are we to be confident that he cares about finding a “boutique grocer” for the 10th and Kiwanis area of town?

( and Woodstock adds: “’boutique grocer’?”…. “Who comes-up with this shxt?”…. “That sounds like something you would find in Taupeville”…. (“I am surprised they don’t call it Limitless Male Boutique, too”… (“And what the hell is that the Orange Theory nonsense they have down there?… “Is that a boutique that sells oranges?”… )))

#6 Covid Scare? on 02.09.22 at 12:18 pm

The “Covid Scare” was over in 2020….what we have now is fear mongering, big difference. If you are “scared” stay away from other humans….but don’t forget that all the deer, our pets, other mammals have Covid, too, so stay away from all animals if you are “scared”. This shit is getting stupid, what the hell is wrong with you lib’rals?

#7 Mike Lee Zitterich on 02.09.22 at 12:53 pm

I think you all are over exxagerating what really occurred, as somone who did attend the meeting, and was paying attention, contrary to what a few have said, the Mayor did not tell her to simply go and talk to the health care official, he simply did his job by maintaining “Decorum”, the same rules apply to all persons who wish to make public commentary, he then ‘recommended’ to her that it may be more helpful to go speak directly to the Healthcare Professionals, the Health Board itself, let alone the City Staff at the City’s Health Department.

As for public input, I am not so sure remote public input is a good fit for our local meetings, stopping short of saying I support it or not, I mean, I guess it could work, or it may not work, but I would be more inclined to keep and maintain public commentary to for those who actually attend the meeting, rather than those who do not.

As you can see, we had something like 7 or 8 residents speak at the 2/8/2022 Public Meeting, that is a great turn out for a typical city council meeting, myself included – does it really matter if we have “general” public commentary at the beginning, middle, or the end of the regular agenda? In my opinion, not really.

The way “WE THE PEOPLE” have established public input during our local city council meetings is we grant the residents the ability to speak on Agenda Items twice – 3 Minutes on the 1st Informational Readings; 5 Minutes on the 2nd Confirmation Readings when we decide to “Vote” yes or no on the item. That is a total of 8 minutes you have to speak on each of the “Regular Agenda Items” each and every week to make your case for or against a particular item.

Scott and I have talked at great lengths on our thoughts regarding “General Public Commentary” – so he knows my stance pretty well by now, and for the most part we respect each others opinions, while we have minor disagreements on the matter, he is correct, the residents must have a time slot where they may speak on any item they wish to discuss the “State of the City” its policies, general concerns, to voicing their grievances to the governing body, whereas the CITY itself fails to listen to them directly.

Does it matter if we place this general public commenting period before or at the end of the agenda, in my opinion not really. State Law allows for the “PEOPLE” to manage their meetings as they wish, set rules and procedures of their meetings as they wish, and allows the “Chairman” of the Council to manage Decorum as we wish, that being the Mayor himself.

The big debate now, if we can call it that, and Scott has a point here, is whether to allow for the residents to speak on “agenda” items on that night’s meeting, during public comments IF we have the period after the agenda items, that to is up to interpretation on whether or not you believe it restricts free speech or not. Both myself and Scott have discussed this among each other, and while I respect his opinion, I also believe ‘we’ have the right to ‘self manage’ our meetings by creating the rule to NOT speak on any agenda item prior to general public commentary at the end. And if you indirectly speak on a prior agenda item that night, the mayor is yet to stop you, or cut you off in mid-sentence as long as your in the process of making your point related to a separate matter. The rule simply says, you may not ‘directly’ speak on a prior agenda item within the confines of that “public meeting” itself.

Scott brought this topic up at the C.R.C session this past year, and it led to some interesting discussion, one where I also agreed, had some good points to the case. However, while Scott disagreed with the commission on their stance to not support his revisement, the CRC was correct in not wanting to ‘restrict’ public input to the front side of agenda items, doing so would mean, the PEOPLE could not change their minds later, you see, where I agreed with the C.R.C that day, is you want to allow the “people” the ability to change their own rules every two years (during election cycles), whereas they then can update, make changes to, and self govern how they manage public meetings. And lastly, the question I raised on Scott’s issue that day was – how do you define “public commentary” itself –

Any given week, you have the ability to speak on every “AGENDA ITEM” whether first reading or second reading, there is any given week a number of items ranging from 10 to as many as 25 depending on the week itself – knowing that you can speak for 3 minutes on 1st readings, to 5 minutes on second readings, that is an average of 4 minutes per item, that gives you a total of an average of 73 minutes to speak during each weekly meeting, if you were to speak on every item itself – so my argument is, are we really restricting public comments so much, that it prevents any such resident the right to speak before the council? No.

So how does one define “public commentary” in a nut shell? It really comes down to the following definition:

Input given by the public to governmental bodies, about proposed legislation or regulation(s), during a period—and by means—set aside and prescribed by law.

“WE” really give the residents ample amount of ‘periods of time’ to do this, as I mentioned above.

So in closing, I believe, and I would love to hear Scott’s opinion on my assessment here, I believe those who ‘show up’ to these weekly meetings really have the strongest voice before the Mayor and Council itself, for they put their Face, their Voice, their Reputation on the line, rather than those who stay home, let alone make themselves known on social media. My argument in opposition to “remote input”, effectively would be, if the matter at hand is really a big topic, or issue to you, or if you really have an argument for or against a “Citywide” policy, decision, or activity, SHOW UP and make yourself know not only to the Mayor, the Council, but to all 195,000 residents as we discuss the matter at hand. Doing so, puts a “face” to the words, and documentation on public record for all people to see.

I do not know if or when we shall ever place “general public commentary’ at the frontside of the agenda again or not, but if the PEOPLE strongly support that, at some point it will occur, cause every two years, we elect a “new governing body” in order to change our minds often as necessary as to maintain a free and independent government. To each their own.

I apologize for the long post, but, you all know my by now, I sometimes write long posts to establish my train of thought, creating a narrative I wish to portray.

– Mike Zitterich

#8 My Mistake Mike on 02.09.22 at 3:27 pm

Boutique grocer? Is that anything like “valet service” from my garbage hauler?

#9 Food 4 Thought on 02.09.22 at 6:12 pm

Boutique grocer and “valet service” are all a part of the overall food chain. But if you order online from a boutique grocer and they take it to your car, when you arrive, then its “valet”, but if you bring it out yourself it’s like curbside. But if you drop a car off at the door of a hotel, then it’s curbside, but called valet. It’s all very confusing. What if you meet a painted lady on a street corner? Is she a call girl, or a street walker? Does it depend upon whether she has a cell phone on her, or not? The moral of this overall evaluation is that you should never trust anyone who claims a boutique, but expects you to do all of the work, because then who is really hiring who? And if you ask me, that’s a bunch of garbage, boutique or not…. cell phone or not…..

#10 LJL on 02.09.22 at 8:29 pm

You would have more credibility if you weren’t such an exaggerator.

BTW…Has anyone noticed you can clearly see large arcade games in the mayor’s office through the window from the street.?. PacMan maybe?

#11 The Guy From Guernsey on 02.10.22 at 8:58 am

Not that his would ever be considered in the ordinary category of “Public Input”, but hasn’t there been precedent for Joe Kirby to phone it in to some City meetings via teleconference link.
I am not certain I concur about the necessity of remote public input.

#12 l3wis on 02.10.22 at 9:45 am

Prolly a few years ago the CRC allowed it, but last year JK had to recruit Mr. Dee Knudson to testify for him because they don’t allow phone testimony. I just think it is hypocrisy for the councilors to be allowed to participate by phone but not the public. 2 set of rules.

#13 Mike Lee Zitterich on 02.10.22 at 3:34 pm

Scott,

You may be looking at that decision from the wrong angle. IF, we have rules to follow, and you want to try your best at managing decorum, let alone keeping the meetings on point, you do not open it up to allow 195,000 people call in remotely, you would pro-long, and endanger the sanctity of the meeting itself.

I am NOT saying I disagree with your logic, it would be a very interesting public discussion, I mean that, but, the thought of how to best manage it, while maintining order during the meeting itself, can be, well — hard to figure out.

Allowing 2 or 3 city council members to remotely call in during meetings, is NOT the same thing as opening up the meeting to 195,000 people to utilize the same remote access.

And what happens when the first time the Mayor turns your call off due to time restrictions, how many peole will complain about him doing that? Already, some of you are already complaining that the Mayor is to trigger happy on cutting you off now…without Remote Access.

I just think, by allowing “remote access” for residents to call in, you begin to lose some of that “Human Feel” of a “public meeting”.

The job of holding a public meeting – is to actually attend the meeting, to voice yourself up front.

I am open to having this discussion publically, but I am not quite sure if I would support it or not.

#14 Mike Lee Zitterich on 02.11.22 at 11:33 am

To add further, each new council, board, or commission has the ability to change the rules. This is why I agree with the C.R.C that you do not place your propsed revision for public input in charter as written.

You just confirmed it in your previous comments, the previous commission did allow for “remote access”, while the current commission did not.

That goes to show, my thinking to be the correct path to take – as the people go to the polls every two years, they have the right to change that council’s mindset, while every 4 years, the Mayor can be replaced as well.

While the Mayor (our at-large rep) represents the entire residency serving 4 years; that Council can be changed frequently as often as the people wish, by holding public elections every two years. This allows the mindset to change, thus making it easy to control the mayor, let alone, the Mayor can protect the majority of the population from a run-away city council itself.

Also: Our boards and commissions are continuesly replaced every 1, 2, or 4 years so they can also be swapped out with people who think differently.

If you want public input before the agenda, you simply vote to place people on the commission that support you, if you want it at the back end of the meeting, you vote for those who support that premis, and if you want Remote Access, you vote for people who support that.

In my opinion, the State legislature, city councils, and house of representatives should be replaced every 2 years, so no one has multiple terms, if the people would organize themselves to accomplish this, without always voting for the most popular, good looking, career politician, there would be no need for term limits.

Term Limits are in fact “2 year election cycles”.

#15 Archie Nemesis on 02.11.22 at 3:06 pm

I believe that once you are elected to the city council, you should be considered a council member for life. You may not get re-elected or seek re-election, but you should still be allowed to reach out to current council members, while they sit at their appropriate seats, by being allowed as a former current council member to go beyond the railing barrier, you should also still be allowed to use the council member gym and dining room, too. Oh, and also have the continual privilege to be able to purchase sleeveless down vests and other apparel from First Premier and Sanford’s website at a discounted rate, if you so choose.