Entries Tagged '1st Amendment' ↓

The City of Sioux Falls does NOT have the right to limit protesters

Many people have been wondering why you would need to get a permit to protest in Sioux Falls. You do not.

Is it a good idea to meet with the SFPD and give them an idea of what you will be protesting and how many people may show up? Sure it is. It’s a nice gesture but not required.

Remember, the US Constitution and your 1st Amendment right to organize and peacefully protest and assemble trumps any state constitution or city charter. While the city can have such an ordinance, it really wouldn’t stand up in Federal court if challenged.

I may be wrong about this, but I think the ordinance came about to break up the kids hanging out downtown while cruising the loop. It has nothing to do with protesting or your 1st Amendment rights.

I encourage anyone protesting in the future to reach out to the SFPD, but don’t get a permit. Besides the enormous powerful message the BLM movement is sending, our right as citizens to peacefully protest is protected already, with a permit or not, and that message needs to also be sent in these troubling times.

SIOUX FALLS 4TH OF JULY PARADE CANCELLED

Mayor TenHaken announced on FB on Friday that the parade has been cancelled this year and the Falls Park feeding.

While I understand serving food to 5,000 people in Falls Park is not a good way to social distance, I think having a parade outside (where people can distance) would be just fine. In fact in my bike rides downtown over the past couple of weeks, DTSF has been packed with people. The bars and restaurants are at capacity and most people are not social distancing. I really don’t understand why the city is so hesitant to open city buildings, pools and libraries when every other place is full capacity (which they gave permission to do in ordinance). Oh that’s right, it goes back to the hypocrisy thing.

Our Brothers and Sisters are Your Brothers and Sisters

I don’t know if I have ever blogged about this before. One of the main reasons is because I am white. I have close relatives that are Asian, Hispanic, Native American and African American. People I love, not because of their heritage but because they are FAMILY.

Does their color matter? Nope.

I may have shared this a few times, but I lived with my father for a few years in a working class suburb of Seattle when I was in 10th and 11th grade in High School. We lived a few miles from the largest Boeing plant in the company and the largest manufacturing plant in the world at the time. The doors on this place were the size of football fields. FOOTBALL FIELDS!

The school I attended was Mariner High. One of the most diverse schools in the region.

Being a small town white farm boy who never saw a ‘colored’ person in my life, except on TV, was eye opening. I had African American friends, Native friends, Asian friends, but it never occurred to me they were any different. They had the same goals, love of life and interests as me. It never was a revelation, it was reality. I also had gay and transgender friends (this was the late 80’s). I also hung out with metal heads, preps, jocks and punk rockers (I actually made a little coin finishing art projects for the football players).

I guess I never understood hatred based on identity. Sure I dislike certain people, but it was never based on their color, religion or sexual preference.

Some people would accuse me of being a liberal because of my beliefs towards others, I’m not a liberal, I’m a human being. Everyone should believe in equality, it is just being a decent and compassionate person.

And while you struggle with your white privilege, never apologize for it, use it to make other lives better. Speak out against injustice. Don’t apologize or be embarrassed, use your privilege to privilege others. We all need to get along and love each other, it is of the highest importance. We are all in this together. Jesus said it best (or someone who claimed to know Jesus);

“Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.” – Psalm 41:1

And don’t just think police violence and domination is towards minorities. Over the past year I saw a drunk WHITE man get mauled by a dog while a SFPO kicked him, I saw another WHITE guy get tackled for flipping the bird and yet another WHITE jailed for weeks because he used hyperbole towards the mayor concerning 5G. None of us are immune folks. George Floyd is any of us, remember that.

These injustices affect us all as Americans. The police have become the judge, jury and to often the executioner. This is not their duty, their duty is to maintain peace, and arrest suspects and let a court and jury of peers decide if they are guilty of a crime.

I could point my finger at a lot of people, but today I will only point my finger at you as a citizen. Freedom is FREE, Speak OUT! It is one freedom they will never take from you unless you allow it!

Mayor TenHaken and the SFPD handled the situation well last night

I agree with Paul that the protest in the afternoon had very little to do with the one at night. If the SFPD, Mayor and National Guard made any missteps, they should have broken up the walking crowd before it got to the Mall (and before it got dark). Many in attendance in the march towards the Mall agreed. I also think when you are telling people in the morning five hours before the protest even started that there will be violence, you are kind of inviting it. As I suspected police chief Burns admitted today that this supposed bus load of hoodlums from Fargo never arrived, it was just empty threats on FB, which I pointed out yesterday. Most of the rioters were local latch key kids that should have been home while their parents are working 2nd or 3rd jobs. This is one of my fears about the pools being closed this summer, a lot of these kids will be up to ‘other’ things besides swimming.

Sioux Falls really hasn’t had this kind of violence since the scabs broke the union lines at John Morrells several years ago. From what I could tell it was just a bunch of young kids and hoodlums looking for something to do and very little to do with George Floyd’s death.

I still think that some of this was overblown, but the reaction by the SFPD and Mayor was legitimate and they handled the situation pretty good, especially the swat department to calm the situation ASAP. I think people freaking out about BS on Facebook, especially elected officials, should really do some investigation before telling the citizens there will violence in the streets. Sure, kids throwing rocks at cops isn’t cool, but it certainly wasn’t a combat zone. Some times our local elected officials need to just be cool headed about these things instead of saying the sky is falling.

I commend our National Guard, police force and Mayor’s office for calming the situation quickly. But next time, before you warn about potential violence in the streets, gather all your facts first. As I tell people all the time, Democracy dies in darkness, be truthful with the citizens and they will respond better next time. If anything I hope there was some lessons learned, and thank God no one was seriously hurt.

Who is making these ‘supposed’ threats against Mayor TenHaken?

There are several points in this article that stand out as being odd, but this first quote from him has me baffled;

In addition, he has been assailed and sharply criticized on social media and has received serious enough threats that his home is being guarded.

First off, it is NOT illegal to be critical of elected officials verbally, it is actually a guaranteed Constitutional 1st Amendment right, it becomes illegal when you threaten bodily harm. The last person to do that moved out of state (even though it was just hyperbole). So I’m curious if he is continuing to receive ‘bodily harm threats’ if it is just people on FB saying he is moron, he can’t do much about that, that’s life brah. While I think he is well within his rights to install security cameras at his house, I’m curious what he means by ‘guarded’? Are the police patrolling more often? Which is fine. Or did he hire a private security company to watch his house? And are the taxpayers paying for it? I also question this because if people are threatening him with ‘bodily harm’ wouldn’t this be made public? The quickest way to get rid of A-holes who think it is cool to threaten elected officials this way is to call them out publicly. They’ll knock it off quickly. But just making random comments about your house being guarded without any proof people are threatening you seems like a political move to me to have people feel sorry for you which is very, very, sad.

After running a blog for a very long time calling out the B.S. of the South Dakota Republican establishment, I have had my share of ‘threats’ mostly from people who eat fried fish and French fries, but I did not worry much. But I got a series of threatening emails from some chickenshit, ball-less, anon folks who threatened defamation lawsuits and such from a group of supposed establishment GOP folks a few years ago. I was ripping on one of their local heros who I won’t mention, but let’s just say he put the Slime in Slime.

I was scared. I didn’t crap my drawers, but I was close. But under all the pressure, I didn’t cave, and I kept on blogging. I figured, if I was already in trouble, what could I have to lose? Nothing. The threats against me were against my First Amendment rights, and I knew I had the constitution on my side.

Nothing happened. I know why. Because while liberal free speech ideas may piss off these people, they know they have no grounds to prosecute.

He said he finds politics distasteful, especially in the age of social — make it “unsocial” — media. The political culture has become “very divisive, very vitriolic,” TenHaken said.

This comment really made me about fall out of my chair laughing. Before PTH was mayor, he participated in this kind of crap while running other political campaigns. Him and his BFF Pitty Patt used to go after all kinds of political opponents of their clients. Hey Paul, practice what you preach. Some would argue I do the same thing, the difference is I am NOT being paid by these politicians. PTH has made millions from his exploits in politics.

“People have that entitlement attitude — come save us,” TenHaken said. “I said to the people, ‘You can do this.’”

Paul of course is commenting on the recovery after the tornados. Paul, it is not an ‘Entitlement’ when you are using my tax dollars. This is why we supposedly pay taxes, for services from our government. One of those services is emergency cleanup. Last I check the city had around $60 million in the rainy day fund for stuff like this and the city has been reimbursed several times by FEMA for natural disaster cleanup (also funded by our tax dollars). This is NOT a ‘handout’. We pay taxes, we receive services. It really is that simple. If you don’t understand how that system works maybe you should go back to reading kids books and taking selfies and resign already.

Democracy Dies in Darkness, this is an example of the sneaky games being played during this time by local boards and governments

I knew it would not take long for something like this to rear it’s head during this time of a crisis and social distancing;

A plan to separate the Tri-Valley School District by building a new school to handle overcrowding is once again causing controversy between residents and school district leaders. 

Parents and residents say a recent decision by the school board to build a $10 million kindergarten-only school in Crooks, miles from the current school in Colton, was done without transparency and without the chance for a public vote. 

They say the school board and administration took advantage of a time when no one could attend the school board meeting April 13 in person to voice their opposition because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The board meeting was conducted through Zoom, a video chat messaging system many have relied on to interact with others without risking exposure to the coronavirus in the meantime. 

A select few in the community who can afford the tax increases and want a new school took it upon themselves to pass something literally in the dark of the night knowing there was strong public opposition to the decision. The best way to quiet this opposition is by eliminating them. While legal (and I would go so far to say that is questionable) it definately lacked ethics and integrity and was at best a sloppy parlor trick.

But don’t be fooled by this ‘one’ instance. I have been following and taking note of several things our own city government has been doing behind the scenes. All the puzzle pieces are not in place yet, but once they are, I will be revealing the blatant sloppiness and ignorance our own city has been up to. Right now they are trying their hardest to keep these things tied up in a closet with a sock in their mouth, but that can’t last much longer, and it’s only a matter of time before it spreads like a virus at packing plant.

I will keep you posted, and several others in the local media have been also keeping tabs.

While none of it really shocks me, it will prove once again, when the cat’s away, the mice will play. Our local officials are taking full advantage of this crisis to put a death nail in transparency, and it makes me wonder how they sleep at night.

We must be vigilant

I’m not saying this to brag, but today I was on the phone, not only with citizen activists, but officials from the city, the school district and Minnehaha County discussing ideas and solutions. I have also had countless conversations with state legislators in the past couple of days.

I could never imagine a ‘hobby’ I took on 13 years ago would flourish into something where elected leaders would ask me for advice on how to solve these problems. I don’t have all the answers, but I think our conversations help root out the bad ideas. For this I am grateful.

I am honored to call some these people my friends, who appreciate my opinion, but often disagree.

I have often been of the opinion that this line in the 1st Amendment is the most important to the survival of a free society;

” . . . to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

I want to remind people you have a voice, you don’t need to run a blog or a controversial FB page to make yourself heard. You just have to speak out.

I won an online contest about a decade ago with this line about freedom of speech;

“Freedom is FREE. SPEAK OUT!”

I still believe it.

We will never survive if we don’t embrace our liberties. We can crush greed with the truth. This is really what the virus is about, revealing how as a human society we have lost our way and become to comfortable. We must always be vigilant. My favorite philosopher said it best;

“The greatest wealth is to live content with little” – Plato

Should Citizens be Allowed to give Public Input Telephonically at Sioux Falls City Council Meetings?

After seeing the herd of people at last night’s city council meeting, I am beginning to wonder if there should be a call in phone number to allow public input by phone?

I have spoken today with officials from the city and the school district and there seems to be an effort to try to work something up that would probably sunset in a couple of months after the virus passes and not be permanent.

As I have argued, if the elected officials can call into these meetings and participate by phone, the citizens should be able to also.

Stay tuned.

Democracy Dies in Darkness

Guest Post, Bruce Danielson

Martial Law? Panic? Hysteria? Summed up, we are experiencing lack of leadership. Winner takes all, is not leadership. It is authoritarianism and right in the middle of our elections? Democracy dies in darkness.

We are experiencing a strange time for our country and we the people who own it are left in confusion. We are people who live in and love our country. It is based on deist and socialist philosophies of our founding “fathers”. We share this country with our neighbors but elect people to help with governing through leadership. Our country is a shared ownership of the people of this country. No corporation or church or potentate own us or the government.

It is only through collective laziness do we let things happen to us and our government.

Our founding fathers gave us the power through tools to be responsible for the country’s survival. At its core is the accidental 1st Amendment (it was actually the 3rd Amendment) which we hold sacred. Our lives revolve around what we have grown comfortably used to with this belief in our media, religions and our rights to assemble in any form we wish.

We have a local government currently run / lead by people who have this idea it is their government to tell us what to do by edicts. The mayor’s office can issue any Executive Order they want to but they have no force of law. The Mayor can issue orders to shut down city offices and buildings but the Mayor cannot tell the City Council office building and members to shut down. It is simple separation of powers. We do not give up our democratic principles and processes because someone shouts panic.

The sparse Sioux Falls City Council meeting of March 17th, 2020.

It was interesting to attend and just watch the panic look of some of the dais members as they had to listen to the minimal information and public comments presented. Some of the pontificating bluster of a few dais members seemed to show their collective fear. A few of the blustering members showed their ignorance and fear by the way they pontificated and then voted.

Fear of the unknown is present when there are no plans to get through the crisis.

In fact there was no end date for the ordinances recently passed giving extraordinary powers to the sovereign. Why were there no sunset or renewal dates put into the ordinance? This is how authoritarian power is gained, by accident or design, it happened. Now it must be fixed.

The nastiness shown by some Councilors toward proposals presented during a time of legitimate questioning was staggering to the mind. Democracy dies in darkness meant something at that moment. We had councilmembers trying to shut down discussion just because they were afraid to think on their own. It was harsh and disgusting how the situations were handled.

Underlying it all was the developing COVID-19 issues.

The Council members showed panic and hysteria during their meeting. It was based on lackadaisical attitudes toward their leadership responsibilities. We are a representative democracy where we hire people to plan and lead us through supposedly uncharted waters to prevent fear and hysteria. What we are now watching from our national leaders, is their concerns on how they can personally make money through this hysteria. We are watching the stock market crash to the basement, we are watching the ethics of our leaders drop right along with. It has been announced in the national news how members of Congress, using inside information, sold millions of dollars of stocks just before the government announced the severity of this COVID issue. Just because it could be legal for them to buy stocks on inside information, does it make it ethical? And then to sell it on insider information?  

It does not take much historical study to see how the panics of 9/11, anthrax, stock market crash of 2008, SARS and other hysterias of the recent two decades to how see the greed of our national leaders allows these “panics” to happen and how it then makes it easier to declare. Panics allow people to gain power never before granted, to later make behaviors look more suspicious. The institutionalized lack of planning, causes panics and the power players gain more power, it is simple and historical. If we distrust our leaders for their actions or lack of sufficient actions, it is for good reason.

We have pain now because we have not stood up for Democracy.

Locally, we recently had a glad-handing mayor who promised forever pie-in-the-sky promises of good times if he “gave” entertainment palaces without any regard for the necessities required for modern, safe life. We now have a hysterical national panic even clearing the streets and stores of Sioux Falls. This panic caused in large part to pollution, sanitation and hygiene is now shutting down much of what we know. When our City Council was tasked with approving a monster sized sewer debt, the Council did not look at what the real root causes for this sudden panic requiring the spending of $265 million. Our previous mayor simply ignored the unsexy, unfun necessities of life like sewers, so he could claim boom time fun. Why burden the public with unsexy things like sewers when he could offer us PBR and singing cowboys? So during panics, reactionary votes are held encumbering society for decades to come.

Insider connections grow in panics.

We, as a people, must now bow to the corrupt practices in the darkness created by panics and hysteria? We must correct the stupid by replacing with smart.

The COVID-19 is serious. We, including the hired leaders, don’t know all the ramifications of it yet. As the news comes out, as a result this panic period, the public becomes even more disappointed in our leaders. Saying you are “Proven, Positive” does not make a leader. Being the follower of a glad-handed potentate does not make a leader. Being a power hungry authoritarian does not make a leader, it creates a dictatorship.

Build consensus through leadership, not force.

This is not a time to drop to our knees and pray just because we did not force our duly elected leaders to do the jobs they were hired to do. We are a secular society we are the owners of. We attend city meetings to try and make the voted on leaders of our government finally understand we did not vote them into office so they could just collect a paycheck. We voted them into office to actually ask question and not just pontificate.

We have seen little to no leadership so far. We have had months and years of warnings to the prepare for sewer plant upgrades, disease prevention, food safety, tree bugs, invasive species and more. What does our “leadership” do? Build play palaces on land they do not own, needlessly borrow money to complete the  play palace projects put on public agenda before most of us were born and then decide after the playthings are built incorrectly be forced to borrow even more money so the sewage works right.

Democracy does not work in darkness.

Democracy, nevertheless must not be disgraced. Democracy must not be despised. Democracy must be respected. Democracy must be honoured. Democracy must be cherished. Democracy must be an essential, an integral part of the Souvereignty, and have a controul over the whole Government, or moral Liberty cannot exist, or any other Liberty.
—John Adams, Letter to John Taylor, 12 De. 1814

Ethics Board confuses law with ethics

I’m hearing the ethics meeting today lasted 3 hours, and they ruled that there was nothing wrong with the mayor endorsing council candidates or giving them money.

VIDEO COMING

One board member dissented, I believe it was Greg LaFollette.

I guess board member Jack Marsh was being a real stinker.

The essential argument was 1st Amendment rights and the SCOTUS ruling of Citizens United. But the constitutionality of this has nothing to do with if something is ethical. One city councilor (I think Erickson) went as far to accuse Brekke of trying to make the mayor ‘look bad’ and unethical.

The board members felt that we have a very ‘ethical’ city government and were concerned someone would question their ethics.

LOL. Isn’t that why we have this board?

Of course none of this surprises me. The establishment special interest crowd is often saying if it is legal it is ethical.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Brekke is asking for an ‘Ethics’ opinion, NOT a ‘Constitutional’ opinion

As you can see in her advisory request (VIEW DOC), Brekke is simply asking is if it is within the council’s ethics cannon to publicly support, give money, throw fundraising parties for, etc. to candidates.

But Brekke said she wants the ethics board to square that with the canons of ethics in charter that say public officials “should avoid the appearance of impropriety in all his or her activities,” limit their “extra-governmental activities to minimize the risk of conflict with his or her official duties,” and “refrain from political activity inappropriate to his or her office.”

I’m glad she is asking because there seems to be a fine line. But let’s make this clear, I agree with Erickson;

Erickson also said participating in politics by supporting candidates is a First Amendment right that belongs to all Americans, including public officials.

It is well within a councilor’s constitutional rights to support other candidates, but just because something is legal or constitutional doesn’t mean it is ‘ethical’ and that that is what Brekke is asking here.

Personally, I could care less either way, I’m a big supporter of Freedom of Speech and I don’t think those rights go away once you are elected. If you don’t have a problem with looking like a big shot by throwing a fundraising party for a candidate, go for it. Visually, I don’t think it makes you look good, but hey, you have that right. Just like people have a right to come to public input and call the the previous mayor a SOB . . . twice. Doesn’t look great, but within your rights.

I just found it funny how another blog (who comments on Sioux Falls city politics a lot lately while being in a town 40 some miles away) doesn’t understand that Brekke is asking for an ‘ETHICS’ opinion from the ‘ETHICS’ Board. She isn’t asking whether or not it is legal. But of course, this is the same blogger who quit his cushy state job due to his ‘UNETHICAL’ behavior, while AG Jackboots cleared him of ‘Not Stealing’ from the state. Go Figure. Remember, there is a difference between, morality, ethics, and laws. Sometimes they don’t always align. Just look at who is running our country (into the cold, cold ground).

*Not worth the time, but I did get a chuckle out of Mayor Selfie’s comment on the matter;

“I’m choosing to stay focused on larger matters like crime, addiction, infrastructure, housing and economic development.”

Really? You better start focusing a little bit harder on that bro.