Search Results for 'shana nelson' ↓

Is another City Manager bailing on us?

I remember when we were told how incredible our liquor cart boy Technology Manager was going to be and there was push back from concerned councilors. He got hired anyway. Then he left, and recently his replacement left. You know, all that ‘building a team’ bullsh!t Paul feeds us.

Remember when we were told how great this person would be as our internal auditor even with push back from city councilors.

Now I am not sure if Shana Nelson is quitting the position, but I find the above employment listing interesting since I thought they were fully staffed in the auditors office.

But I do know that while her and her husband Matt Nelson (parking director) are full-time paid directors with the city they are also owners of a very busy pet store franchise. So how is it that you can both work as full-time city managers and manage a retail business? At least we can’t accuse them of drinking at 3’O Clock in the afternoon at a DTSF bar on a weekday like two other directors were a couple of weeks ago (yeah, I saw you Ron Swanson).

Like I said, I am only speculating that there will be turnover in the Auditor’s office, again, but if it is true maybe this time they will actually do a national search for someone who is qualified to run an auditor’s office, or at least one that actually does audits.

The Bunker Ramp, the gift that keeps giving

So we hire someone with (several) conflicts of interest and we have to make new ordinances to tamp them down. Dumb.

Guidelines for dealing with conflicts of interests between auditors and city staff who oversee parking first need to be in place, said Councilor Greg Neitzert, who chairs the city’s audit committee.

“First we need to get the conflict of interest policy in place. Then you can start the process of who’s going to run point on (an audit),” Neitzert said. 

When Shana Nelson was hired as internal audit manager for the city last year, officials stated then that should the parking system ever be audited, Nelson wouldn’t be a part of that work. Nelson is married to Sioux Falls Parking Manager Matt Nelson.

Gee, Councilor ‘Friends and Family Plan’ wasn’t this brought up when we were basically moving Shana from one department to another? It seems we will never get to the bottom of what the Hell is going on with the parking department and Bunker Ramp.

I’m not sure a policy needs to be in place, maybe we should just hire someone who doesn’t have a conflict. Though I will admit that I have been impressed with Shana’s professionalism in the audits she has presented so far. Maybe she really is a ‘Rock Star’?

I have also been made aware that Greg pulled this from his sanitized butt and other councilors/members on the audit committee had no idea he was going to propose this and first found out about it reading the article.

Like the hiring of Nelson, I guess Greg thinks the audit committee is his little dictatorship. It’s good to be King.

Councilor Neitzert finally talks about the Internal Auditor nomination

With a 5:30 special meeting vote taking place this afternoon, Neitzert finally says ‘something’ about his nomination, or is this about Stehly?

“This is a shameful and disappointing display of city leadership.”In a recent press release, City Councilor Greg Neitzert responds to this weeks Audit Manager Nominee robo-calls put out by fellow council member – Theresa Stehly.  Neitzert also refers to the calls against nominee Shana Nelson, as scorched earth tactics.

I guess Neitzert is admitting Stehly is a ‘Leader’. He often uses the ‘scorched earth’ argument anytime Stehly does something radical to get the public’s attention. Did she have much of a choice? NO one from the audit committee or from council was telling anyone about the nomination and her obvious conflict of interest.

Original press release:  “While many families were celebrating Easter, they were interrupted by an unsolicited and misleading phone call (“robocall”) from Councilor Theresa Stehly intended to provoke anger and distrust within our community.  We urge citizens to hear both sides before making any judgments.

Not everyone in our community celebrates ‘Easter’. In fact pulling a Christian Religious holiday into the argument would seem to me a reverse usage of ‘Scorched Earth’ tactic. How dare people be bothered by local politics (call went out on Saturday) when they are trying to eat their hams and chocolate Easter bunnies, the shame! The Shame! I do agree to listen to both sides, because anyone with common sense will see that Mrs. Nelson has a gigantic conflict of interest.

Shana Nelson, an outstanding city employee with financial expertise, a background in accounting, budgeting, regulatory compliance and business process improvement, and extensive knowledge of city operations, is exceptionally qualified for the position of Internal Audit Manager.  That’s why the hiring committee, made up of 3 City Councilors (Neitzert, Soehl, and Starr) and one citizen with extensive audit experience UNANIMOUSLY recommended her to the City Council for appointment.

While she has a great resume, she has NO audit experience. She is also married to a city director who runs the parking division and pushed through the parking ramp downtown (that is rumored to be in limbo). Neither of those things really matter. Her conflict lies in the fact she would be in charge of auditing departments that she worked for. And while some would argue this helps her know her way around things, it also makes it much easier for her to ‘skip over’ the bad stuff. In other words, an independent auditor needs to be ‘independent’ and by coming from the administration where she actually implemented their financial software, there will be NO independence from them. An internal auditor is not supposed to be ‘cozy’ with the departments she is auditing. I’m not saying the internal auditor needs to be a total ass-pipe, but they have to be independent and willing to expose fraud and corruption regardless of who is committing it, otherwise there is NO purpose of having an internal auditor that is just going to babysit and be a hand holder. Neitzert has admitted they would use an outside auditing firm to audit the sensitive departments that Nelson would have conflicts with. Doesn’t she have a conflict with the ENTIRE city administration?!

Far from being “ram rodded”, this process has taken months to get where we are today.  An unprecedented amount of communication and involvement of the City Council took place, with the City Council agreeing on a hiring process, and all Councilors given the opportunity to review ALL of the applicants and the opportunity to interview and meet individually with the recommended candidate.  Placing this item on the agenda of the special meeting required SIX of the eight City Councilors – a SUPER MAJORITY – to sign a document approving the request.  Normally only two signatures are required to place an item on the agenda of a regular meeting.  Without those six signatures, we would not be considering this request.

This isn’t about what the council ‘knew’. This is about allowing the citizens to also vet Mrs. Nelson. The public didn’t know about her appointment until last Friday at about 3:30 PM when she showed up on the agenda. There is also NO biographical information about Mrs. Nelson. This is about informing the public, not about executive sessions the council had about her.

These scorched earth tactics are done with no regard for others, and is motivated by a win at all costs, ends justifies the means mentality.

Nobody really wins here. As I understand it, it will take 5 votes to hire Mrs. Nelson. They have the 5 votes. The real loser here is the public, because we have a majority of the council that is willing to hire someone with a blatant conflict of interest.

This could have a chilling effect in our efforts to recruit future City employees who will have to ask themselves why they should put themselves and their families through these types of antics.  This is a shameful and disappointing display of city leadership.”

Recruit city employees? You didn’t ‘recruit’ anyone. She already works for the city. The administration is actually losing a valuable employee in the financial department (and strangely they have NOT objected – and why would they, they now have an insider on the audit side). Recruiting an actual internal auditor would have taken a national search using a recruiting firm to do so, instead of the city’s HR department. Greg is right, this will have a ‘chilling’ effect on the city, because we are essentially saying our internal auditing department is NOT important while having the fox watch the hen house.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, April 22-23, 2019

Audit Committee Meeting, 4 PM (4/22)

External Audit Reports; This is where an external auditing firm (the same one we have been using for years and years) looks at our financial statements from the previous year. This is NOT a thorough independent, forensic audit.

Public Assurance Alliance does a presentation on Trends and Risks. New director, David Fiddle-Faddle returns to the Chambers to enlighten us with his immense wisdom. Make sure the security cameras are turned off or scrubbed later.

Audit report of the Zoo. Still one of the tightest ships ran in the city. I still think the Director of the Zoo should run for Mayor.

Fill-In, and Previous Internal Auditor, Oksol is going to tell us how to measure performance out of an internal audit staff. First step; make sure you have a staff to measure.

They finish with giving Oksol a gold star for helping to fill in while looking for a new internal auditor manager. He must have been volunteering his time? Who knew?

City Council Informational, 4 PM (4/23)

March Financial Update

Overview of Spring Flood Recovery

Use of unobligated capital funds

City Council SPECIAL Meeting, 5:30 PM (4/23)

I noticed that the special council meeting is missing Public Input at the beginning. I’m not sure they can skirt public input at the beginning just because it is a special meeting. I think the new changes in state law say they must provide public input at all public meetings.

Item#3, Approval of Contracts,

Seems we are buying two new Harley’s for the SFPD. I find this interesting since the last couple of bikes we bought were NOT Harley’s (I think they were Triumphs).

Items #4-5, supplemental appropriations for the Rose/Lotta neighborhood homes. I think this will pass with full support of the council, besides some bickering about where the money is coming from.

Item #6, Motion, Appointing Shana Nelson as the new Internal Auditor Manager. As I suspected they are plucking Shana from the Finance Department where she works as a business analyst creating a conflict of interest between the administration and city council. Shana’s husband, Matt Nelson is the Director of the Parking Department. So how does she audit that department fairly? Further more, with some pending issues with the DT parking ramp, will we ever get a fair audit of the department?

Events Center Campus Book Club Meeting, 8:30 AM, Wed 4/24, Convention Center (we will see if it is filmed this time and if they have any chairs for the public)

Click to Enlarge

UPDATE: Argus Leader ED board holds back important details in their attack on councilor Stehly

It’s often easy to attack someone when you leave out the important parts.

UPDATE: After talking to a few folks about this editorial tonight, I think a better approach would have been to write the article about the dysfunction of the council as a whole. They all have their faults and strengths. Not one single councilor is to blame for the breakdown. While some are louder than others, sometimes inaction can be just as harmful as too much of it.

Ever since Mr. Myers took over the helm at the AL the place has been on a steady decline and it culminates in their attack on a city councilor. It’s funny how he has so many choice words for a person with a high level of integrity, like Stehly, but doesn’t have the courage to call out one of his key staffers or even fire them after they majorly screwed the pooch. And better yet, it didn’t even make the pages of his fine paper, worthy of a front page story, he just put the person back on their beat like nothing happened. Of course this person never committed a heinous crime like calling someone on a Saturday before Easter . . . the SHAME! The Shame!

I first want to apologize to city councilor Theresa Stehly, I feel bad she has to take the full weight of this diatribe even though she has had support from other city councilors and most importantly citizens on these issues. I’ve known Theresa long enough to know that she just doesn’t wake up in the morning and decide to be on the wrong side of an issue. She listens to her constituents and even reaches out to those with a differing opinion. I can’t say that about the rest of them. She’s an AT-LARGE elected representative of the citizens FIRST! The news media, developers and any other whiny ass, give me, give me, give me organizations in this town should be at the back of the line. The lion’s share of taxes and fees that fund this government come from the citizenry as a whole. We support this community through Federal income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes and ever increasing fees. She represents us more then any city councilor has since the council form of government was formed under the Home Rule Charter.

What makes the attack even more suspicious is it comes out just hours after the paper put up a story about the failing parking ramp. Another story Cameraman Bruce had to give the paper on a silver platter, just like the EC siding and the EC secret settlement. All along the way, it has taken us ‘unqualified’ journalists to light a fire under these paid ‘qualified’ journalists. I was actually laughing when recently Mr. Myers wrote about the SNAP suit and mentioned how hard the paper went after the EC secret settlement. He failed to mention that it took Bruce and I weeks to convince them that the settlement stunk, and they fought us along the way, yet now Myers is playing ‘We are the Champions’ on the headphones in his brain.

Why do I bring up the Parking Ramp? While councilor Starr did support Stehly on trying to stop the project, Theresa was the only one vocal enough to say this was a bad deal, many citizens agreed. So instead of praising Theresa for standing against this colossal f’k up, they write an editorial lambasting her about not voting for an unqualified candidate for the Internal Auditor.

But let’s review all the things Mr. Myers and his prestigious ED board left out to make a more compelling argument against Stehly;

Two days after the call, councilors Neitzert, Christine Erickson, Marshall Selberg and Rick Kiley issued a press release condemning Stehly’s automated call and rebutting her claims that the months-long hiring process was being “ramrodded” through.

It may have been a ‘months long’ hiring process (which it wasn’t), but magically after only 3 weeks of online ads and 15 unqualified applicants they decided to pick Mrs. Nelson instead going back to the drawing board. They also were so proud of the selection they posted it on the agenda without a BIO or background of Mrs. Nelson 4 days before a special council meeting over a holiday weekend. But, you know, that’s not ramrodding . . . WTF? It is also interesting that there has never been a stated reason why the last auditor left so quickly after being appointed and whether the administration is going to replace Mrs. Nelson. The three councilors had a very good reason to be skiddish.

Stehly accused Neitzert of calling her a liar.

Listen to the interview for yourself, Neitzert does call her a liar and being slanderous, an actual violation of the city council’s ethics code, but notice how the ED board twists it. Not only was it an ethics violation, it was also untrue. Nelson’s husband was one of the players behind the VERY controversial parking ramp (as we are finding out) Shana has NO experience as an internal auditor or supervisor and has several conflicts. Please, identify these ‘LIES’ for us. NO one in the media or on the majority of the council has been able to prove what Stehly was saying was a lie(s).

As pointed out in the editorial, the city council has been dysfunctional, and it started way before councilor Stehly came aboard, she has just shined a light on the dysfunction of the rubber stampers and the big wheels that fund their campaigns and it has them really pissed off, and now they apparently have the ear of the ED board.

I told Theresa to wear this as a badge of honor, it must have been a slow week at the paper to have to attack an individual like this. Apparently Bruce and I need to step up our game and give them more things to investigate.

Sioux Falls Ethics Board Chair warns Councilor Neitzert about his FB joke

Tonight the city council was invited to a presentation and an after party for the Sioux Steel project. I know for sure that 3 city councilors did not attend the after party (you can guess who they are). Stehly asked an advisory opinion last week about accepting drinks and ‘HEAVY’ apps from the developer. The ethics commission couldn’t rule on the opinion because Stehly didn’t present evidence of the possible TIF request. Chairman Greg LaFollette was absent from the meeting, but in the past he has frowned on this kind of gift giving. Neitzert decided to make a joke about it earlier today and LaFollette warned him that it probably isn’t such a good idea. It will be interesting to see how many of the other 5 attended and chowed down on their ‘Heavy’ Tifilicious Snacks. Awaiting photos.

In other ‘Neitzert’ news, I guess he requested that all of the councilors sign a document of confidence in the new Internal Auditor that he would frame and present to Mrs. Nelson. He pretty much admitted that the document wasn’t an ‘official’ but would help in mending bridges. That bridge could have been solid if they would have hired someone with no conflicts.

Oh, and still no word if Shana will be replaced in the finance department . . .

An Open Letter to Sioux Falls City Councilor Greg Neitzert

Over the past year there has been many things said by our esteemed councilor at public council meetings, on Facebook and in the media. It all culminated last week with the special meeting to hire our new internal audit manager and a discussion on the Greg Belfrage show between councilors Stehly and Neitzert in which Neitzert called Stehly a bully and a ‘LIAR’ he also inferred that councilor Starr was a liar to (which is actually a violation of council ethics).

While this was all going on Neitzert kept trying to say that the character of the new city council employee was being questioned, assassinated and denigrated. I still don’t know what he is talking about. In fact if you watch the council meeting or listen to anyone talk about her in the meeting, NOBODY questions her character only her qualifications. Some even state they are NOT questioning her character. If you are questioning someone’s qualifications for a job, that is NOT questioning their character – those two things are polar opposites.

So here are the FACTS that Councilor Neitzert claims people are ‘Lying’ about;

• Nobody on the City Council or during public input questioned Mrs. Nelson’s character. (I can’t speak to random comments on FB)

• While Mrs. Nelson has extensive financial and business experience (12 years) she has NO internal audit experience or supervisor experience.

• Mrs. Nelson has broad conflicts of interest with the city, not just with her husband as a director, but with the finance department she currently works in and a very close family friendly relationship with one of the sitting city councilors.

• Mrs. Nelson was warned in advance (before her nomination was publicly noticed) that the city council wasn’t in full consensus of her employment. She knew there would be a high level of scrutiny. This of course is NOT Mrs. Nelson’s fault, this ‘doubt’ was caused because of a poorly executed hiring process by councilor Neitzert. She still chose to move forward knowing it would be a contentious debate.

• Councilor Neitzert denies he ramrodded the process. He says that most if NOT all resolutions are noticed on a Friday and Voted on a Tuesday. While there is a lot of truth to that, most resolutions are benign, and have full support of the city council. They include things like gifting old equipment to other communities, appointing city board members, allowing SculptureWalk, giving out awards, etc. They don’t usually involve hiring a city council manager of this importance. They also are NEVER brought forward in a special meeting that has a singular objective (ex; golf contract). It was noticed on a Holiday Weekend, with NO attached documents that explained who Mrs. Nelson was or why she was qualified. It was also during a special meeting at 5:30 PM the following Tuesday. Her appointment could have easily been postponed for several weeks so the public could vet her. Just the day after her appointment Neitzert said it would be a full month before she transitioned into her position. So what was the rush? Councilor Stehly had NO choice but to put out a robo-call to inform the public this was coming down the pipe – FAST. While you may have had issues with her verbiage and tone, she did NOTHING wrong, or made false statements. It was ‘ramrodded’ and the parking ramp debacle was ‘controversial’.

• The city’s legal team blew off the nepotism and conflict of interest concerns as being ‘legal’ and since they were legal, in their eyes there were no problems. South Dakota has an ‘F’ rating in government corruption, mostly because we have NO ethics, conflict of interest or nepotism laws (or very weak ones).

• Mayor TenHaken never said whether Mrs. Nelson would be missed or even replaced (this would have been nice to know during a longer vetting process). You would think an employee with this much experience in finance, a person who implemented key finance software, and an employee who won an award (from the past mayor) would be valued by the administration and asked to stay. (I’m hearing from my city hall moles that there was a discussion about it, but since it was a personnel issue, and Mrs. Nelson would be bettering her career, they just let her proceed. If all this happened, I’m not sure why any of that is confidential and couldn’t be shared at the special meeting by the HR department).

• Councilor Neitzert said since he had 6 councilors sign off on her nomination he didn’t feel the need to get a total consensus. Though, during the meeting, councilor Brekke pointed out that most city council employees have a consensus of the entire council before getting approved. In fact, in the 13+ years I have been blogging about the city, the last time I can remember there was NO consensus of the city council was when they voted to terminate City Clerk Owen, and that discussion was behind closed doors with a public vote.

• After 3 weeks of job employment ads mostly online without the assistance of a job recruitment agency, the city got 15 candidates in which NONE of them had audit experience and only ONE of them was a current city employee, with an obvious conflict, and she was chosen. Some people call that ‘inside baseball’ but I won’t speculate any further.

Councilor Brekke suggested to Councilor Neitzert (who is the audit chair) that a broader search be done to find someone with audit experience. Her request was either ignored or rejected.

Councilor Starr, who was part of the hiring committee suggested early on that they hire a recruiter. They said it would cost too much, though Starr pointed out you could get one as low as $5K, and in most cases you don’t pay unless they produce qualified candidates. In other words, no harm, no foul. His suggestion was also discarded.

I think ‘the fix was in’ as soon as Mrs. Nelson turned in her application, and there was no going back from there. Just listen to what Neitzert said on Belfrage, ‘Shana is a Rock Star!’ Great, but why not do a broader search for a qualified ‘Rock Star’? And why totally ignore the suggestions of your fellow councilors? Who is the bully?

While I could care less if Councilor Neitzert wants to act like a Crazed Man-Child in the media, I am truly asking him to stop calling his fellow councilors liars, bullies, self-appointed victims and disrespecting and ignoring their opinions. If you disagree, you simply state that, and move on. If they have good suggestions about the hiring process, you try them. It’s really that simple.

As I have pointed out above, there is only one reason why this process when to Sh*t, and that person needs to take a hard look into the mirror. The only one who truly let down Mrs. Nelson through this process was the one leading the process, City Councilor & Audit Chair, Greg Neitzert.

UPDATE III: Sioux Falls City Councilors Stehly & Neitzert guests on Belfrage

UPDATE III: Neitzert calls himself ‘Audit Manager’ in the Belfrage interview. Who is lying? He is the chair of the Audit Committee. All city council employees (including internal auditor) answer to the entire council and entire committee.

UPDATE II: Listen to the interview HERE from this morning. WARNING, not suitable for small children 🙂

I guess Belfrage invited Theresa and Greg on Thursday morning to discuss the robo-call and hiring of the new Internal Auditor, 8 AM.

Some observations I made while watching the meeting last night were kind of startling. While the 3 councilors that voted against Mrs. Nelson’s appointment (Brekke, Stehly & Starr) contended there were too many conflicts of interest and the process was not open and transparent. Brekke said she would have liked to see a more extensive search.

But what shocked me is how the council and city attorney, Danny Brown, blew off the conflicts as normal operating procedure. Brown referenced the state which is steeped in nepotism and conflicts and said if the state permits it (it’s legal) than it must be okay.

First off, it should be illegal. South Dakota State government gets an ‘F’ in corruption. I have often contended that is due to lack of transparency, conflicts and nepotism. But just because something is ‘legal’ doesn’t make it right, and those 3 councilors did the right thing.

There was also a relaxed attitude towards the fact that Mrs. Nelson lacked audit experience.

But one of the biggest shockers was when Neitzert said that the internal auditor works for management (the council) and NOT the citizens. He had a round about way of saying it, but you got the gist. This was disappointing, because as Stehly pointed out, ALL city employees should be working for the citizens.

Brekke made the best points all night. Not just about conflicts or finding qualified applicants, but one of her best points was about how the council should have had a consensus on this since it was their employee. In fact, the council has had a consensus on the hiring of all of their employees in recent history. The last time they did not have consensus was when they voted to fire Debra Owen. Janet pointed out that it seems when the majority of the council doesn’t want to negotiate with the minority they shut them out and move forward anyway. She said it was frustrating and made the point that when the council is this far apart on disagreeing with each other, that was the best time to talk and and work out their differences. AMEN!

UPDATE: Last night at the meeting Greg said it was urgent to hire Shana right away so she would not be in limbo for two weeks, then he says this in a press release today;

Nelson will transition into her new role over the course of the next month.

Greg made it sound like Shana needed to have an answer right away so she could transition into her new position right away. Now we hear it will take a month! I assumed she would probably be moved in by the end of the week or Monday. With the administration not thinking Shana is that important to them, you would think they would have allowed her to pack up her box of pencils, Chia pets and city plaques today. Funny how things change the next day when the dust clears.