Sioux Falls City Council not following Remote Telephonic policy

The City Council hasn’t updated their operations procedure manual since 2020. They have a meeting at 1 PM on Wednesday (June 22) to discuss multiple changes to it.

While I was viewing the red notes for those changes I came across the policy that has been in affect since 2020 for attending the meetings via phone. It seems the council has NOT been following one iota of the policy;

However, if circumstances prevent a City Council member from being physically present during a City Council meeting, the member may participate telephonically. Circumstances that may prevent physical attendance include:

• Personal illness;

• Emergency;

• Military service; or

• Geographical distance.

At the start of any City business meeting during which a City Council member participates telephonically, the presiding officer or Chair of the meeting (“Chair”) must announce the name of any member who is participating remotely and which of the four reasons listed above require that member’s remote participation. The Chair’s statement does not need to contain any detail about the reason for the member’s remote participation other than one of the four reasons listed. The information must be recorded in the meeting minutes.

While I do understand that Covid was a different circumstance, it has been well over a year since city employees started working back in the office. Over the past year several councilors have decided to participate in the meeting via the phone, and while the chair has said at the beginning of the (regular) meetings who is attending via phone, I have rarely heard them say one of the four reasons listed above. Remote working has been over with, if a councilor is NOT sick, or NOT out of town, they should attend in person. There should no longer be special exceptions for Covid, or any for that matter except for what is mentioned above, and it should be STATED at the meeting. This chaps my hide a bit because I have asked that citizens who may be disabled or have other mobility or transportation issues the opportunity to do public input via telephone. The council won’t allow it. So if we have to drag our butts to the meeting, a PAID, Part-time city councilor should to.

OTHER CHANGES TO POLICY

• They will be reviewing annotated agenda that former Councilor Brekke suggested before she left, and;

• They will be making changes to the travel policy (something else they have NOT been following). Notice this line in the current policy;

Travel requests for conferences, meetings, tours and other events must be nonpartisan, educational, and related to the city council’s policy-making role

One of the reasons Councilor Neitzert was impeached was because he attended a partisan event in Texas with Mayor TenHaken and former Deputy COS, TJ Nelson. While it was paid for by the event, it still is NOT in line with the council’s policy. I still think Greg, Paul and TJ getting away with unethical behavior was a sham.

BUDGET WORKING SESSION

On the same day, at 2 PM, the council will discuss these topics;

• Revenue Sources: General Fund and Capital Improvement Fund

• Government Assistance Funds and Uses

• Additional Project Funding

I find it ironic that before the election and before the yearly financial report was released the city (mostly directed from the mayor’s office) spent millions in ARPA and tax revenue surpluses with NO oversight/suggestions from the council. So now I guess they want to discuss the money they already spent?



3 comments ↓

#1 Mike Lee Zitterich on 06.20.22 at 5:22 pm

Technically, the Budget Working Session kicks off the July and August 2022 Budget Season. Its intent is to “review” the revenue streams that come into the City Treasury. While I disagree with all easily we allow “governing bodies” to adopt spending plans regarding the extra supplemental funds during the year, technically by ordinance they did not violate any such rule. City Staff discovered excess funds, the administrations appropriated the supplemental funds to current planned or future projects, and the council discussed them, then voted on them.

What they are doing this week is “reviewing” all revenues streams that we have as a city, for example “Motor Vehicle Funds” collected by the two Counties and the Department of Revenue -or- Federal Grants collected by the city given to us by the Federal Govt. That is really what is being discussed this Wednesday.
– Mike Zitterich

#2 l3wis on 06.20.22 at 5:59 pm

By charter the council really should be setting the budget and approving those funds as directed by the needs of the department. The only involvement the mayor’s office should have is directing his department heads to cooperate with the council on forming that budget. Oh, and he can set the budget for his office 🙂

#3 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 06.22.22 at 4:46 am

Scientists claim now that computers can develop emotions. Council members hide behind phones. It’s only a matter of time. But, am I hearing voices, or is that a council member on the phone? Alexa, is that you? Who do I call again for potholes? Don’t call the mayor. ‘Telephonic’, wasn’t that an 80s group? All of this makes me hungry for Sonic. AND, is the tonic still in the file cabinet? Does Zeal have a real telephonic policy, or are they more physical and Real? When you have your people call their people, or vice versa, then that means you are too cool to talk. How cool are you when you don’t show up in person for a meeting? Maybe, it’s because you are cool to the commitment. It’s easier to hang-up then walk-out. It’s less dramatic and you can blame it on technology. Technology scares me, however, but at least now it has emotions. Crocodile tears.