Entries Tagged '1st Amendment' ↓

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.

UPDATE: Mayor TenHaken claims he has an executive order that violates the 1st Amendment AND the city charter

In a very strange exchange tonight at the city council meeting, Mayor Selfie made an astonishing admission. During the public input for the proposed campaign finance ordinance, David Zokaites mentions at the end of his testimony that Paul said last week from the dais that he was running for re-election, so David said ‘He’s got competition – me!’.

Paul got irritated and told David, ‘I would remind you David Z based on that you are not to use the dais per executive order to promote your candidacy, so this will be the last time you will be able to mention that, from the podium.’

David quickly snipes back, ‘That goes for both of us.’ and PTH says, ‘I don’t speak from THAT podium. That’s just a reminder of that executive order and thank you for adhering to those rules of this chamber.’

Wow! What arrogance! First off, people have been making those kind of pronouncements from that podium for years. Why? Because they can. I actually think it is hilarious that Paul thinks he can write an executive order (and not tell anyone about it until tonight) that is unconstitutional. No mayor in any city in this country can override the 1st Amendment and the US Constitution. It only proves how thick and petty Paul is. The rules for announcements applies to city officials from the dais because they are using their government position (and ultimately our money) to promote themselves. Any candidate that is currently not serving on the city council can say anything about their candidacy from the public input podium. Also, the city council controls their chamber, NOT the mayor. He cannot write an executive order about how the council runs their meetings, that is a violation of the charter, even though I’m more worried about the constitutional violation.

Never thought I would see a mayor in Sioux Falls admit to violating the US Constitution and City Charter at a public meeting. Ellis is right, it’s amateur hour at city hall.

State Legislature looks to strengthen stalking laws in reference to politicians

Could have seen this coming a mile away;

Stalking penalties could be getting stiffer for newcomers to South Dakota who have similar convictions in other states.

This winter, state lawmakers will consider whether or not South Dakota courts should be able to enhance the severity of stalking charges if the person accused has previously been convicted of stalking in a different state. 

In other areas of South Dakota criminal law, like driving while intoxicated or assault charges, state law provides language that allows out-of-state convictions to be used to justify enhanced charges.

“Like in these other areas of the law, if people are breaking that same law multiple times, then it shows that you’ve got a career criminal on our hands and society needs to be protected from those individuals,” Rep. Jon Hansen (R-Dell Rapids) told the Argus Leader. “This bill provides harsher punishment so hopefully it’ll keep that person from doing that again.”

More: Felony stalking charge reduced against Sioux Falls man accused of harassing mayor

Hansen said the measure stems from a recent case involving Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken and his convicted stalker, Christopher Bruce, who was found guilty on misdemeanor stalking charges after a three-day trial in 2019.

While I disagreed with The Living Man’s use of hyperbole in his written threats against the mayor, the council and his family, I still think it was just a bunch of bark with little bite, and protected by his free speech rights. I don’t think that elected officials, especially elected officials, should get special laws written for them so they can restrict free speech if they ‘think’ they are being threatened. Notice that The Living Man was not arrested until after he took on 5G in a Federal suit. I felt the arrest had to do more with repercussions for that suit. The Living Man was not able to prove that in court. But he did have this great quote;

Bruce told the Argus Leader Monday that he isn’t surprised to see his case earning attention from the State Legislature because “every time someone beats the state,” the state changes the rules. 

“This is how they get these kind of laws into place,” he said. “It’s not about our safety anymore, it’s all about protecting government officials and public servants.”

In 2014 when rabble rousers in Illinois felt their free speech rights were being violated, they got the Sheriff to arrest the politicians;

In what was one of their most epic displays of political crime-fighting, which was captured on video, Allen and Kraft held the entire Clark County Park District Board under citizen’s arrest on May 13, 2014, for violating the Illinois Open Meetings Act, a Class C misdemeanor.

When asked if there would be public comment, one of the board members said, “I vote no.” Followed by five other board members.

Deputies were dispatched to the scene, but instead, Clark County Sheriff, Jerry Parsley, personally responded that night. Parsley said he knew it was a heated situation and felt it would be best if he handled it. He said that Kraft handled the citizen’s arrest responsibly, and the board was definitely in violation of the Open Meetings Act by not allowing the public to speak.

“It’s not that they should have. They’re mandated to,” Parsley said. “The people need to have their voice. It’s not a dictatorship. It’s a democracy.”

The sheriff arrested six of the board members. The seventh board member was not arrested because he voted against the other members. As they were escorted out of the building, the crowd cheered.

This is what should happen when politicians limit our free speech rights. They seem to assert their power of arrest when they feel they are being threatened, shouldn’t we as citizens have that same right when our rights are being violated?

Where is Mayor Paul?

To tell you the truth, I really don’t care. I think all mayors have a right to take a night off, whether that is for a ‘date night’ with the wife, or to look in the mirror and take selfies with his latest trucker hat. I really don’t think the mayor should be running the council meetings anyway, so good riddance.

Before I get to his absence, I have to tell you watching the discussion about a city ordinance about political signs in your yard with the city council meeting tonight is extremely laughable and a waste of time. The 1st Amendment protects political speech, and if you want a political sign in your yard for 100 years, the city can’t do a damn thing about it. Get over yourselves.

As for PTH, I really didn’t pay much mind, but the ‘rumors’ have been flowing in, here they are and take them with a grain of DaCola;

• He is on his yearly trip to Haiti for missionary work. Good for him. I also hear a local bank is funding the trip. Also, good for them (if true).

• He is at home avoiding an uncomfortable conversation about refugees and discrimination. Can’t blame him. Having public conversations about these things takes courage . . . that’s why my chickensh*t ass is at home watching this online. But I was very proud of this city tonight, and the testimony given. Embracing others is something we should all strive for.

Both resolutions passed as I suspected. And some people understood what I meant about having more ‘teeth’. It means budgeting for education programs that combat hate and discrimination. Councilor Brekke brought this up, and I am glad she did. I actually was very impressed by the conversation, but what most should understand is the freedom you were allowed tonight to speak on this issue is truly what it means to be American, freedom of speech. It gives you the right to denounce these things, it also gives those who hate us to do the same, unfortunately. I stand by what I have been saying about this over the last week. Use your rights to change minds and to educate others, but don’t limit your dissenters. Because the louder you are, they will soon be drowned out, and they will realize they have only abused their rights to send a message of self destruction. I know it is corny, but only Love conquers Hate, not speeches or resolutions.

GOP controlled South Dakota Legislature continues to pass unconstitutional laws

Isn’t it sad? Riot boosting, petitioning, etc. Why does our state legislature continue to pass laws that are violations of our 1st Amendment rights? I will tell you why, because we are allowing a super majority to legislate us.

I have often been baffled by how South Dakotans vote for initiatives that overturn the foolishness and inaction in Pierre yet continue to send these same fools to Pierre.

Want to have fewer initiatives on the ballot? Start electing legislators that pass laws that benefit you and that can hold up to a constitutional smell test.

I told Cory when he first announced he was suing the state over this issue he would win, I considered it a ‘slam dunk’ and if you read the opinion of the judge, it is very apparent. Cory pointed out to me that this paragraph says it all in the ruling;

And that’s all our legislature really does, put’s regulations on our rights to petition the government. And instead of apologizing and vowing to stop passing these restrictions they argue they are right;

Rep. Jon Hansen, a Republican from Dell Rapids, sponsored the bill to regulate petitioners last year. He disagreed with the ruling and said the law was intended to prevent out-of-state petitioners from influencing South Dakota laws.

If Hansen and his fellow lawmakers were so concerned about out of state influence, maybe they should stop taking marching orders from ALEC and the NRA. The party and it’s members also receive millions in donations from out of state entities. I would go so far to say that Noem could not have been elected if it weren’t for out of state contributions. It’s the norm with the SD GOP, it’s okay for them to not follow the rules, but the rest of us minions have to. This time they got their butts handed to them, and rightfully so.

‘Total Fabrication’ Sioux Falls City Councilor Erickson and Belfrage have a twisted view of the 1st Amendment

I can’t count the number of times I fell over laughing while listening to this conversation between councilor Erickson and Belfrage on his show this morning. They have a very jaded viewed of what is right and what is wrong. One of the better moments is when Erickson continues to talk about the ‘Freedom of the Press’. She knows that SF Biz is a for profit website that charges businesses and organizations to post articles. Hardly the ‘Free Press’. It’s no different than a paid advertisement from a political candidate. Which brings us to the number two problem, tax money was being used to promote a candidate. Sure, his name was only mentioned once, but it was mentioned, and it doesn’t matter if the article had 1,023 words (Erickson admits in the interview she counted them) or if it is a novel. A taxpayer funded entity PAID for an article that promotes a political candidate. All the fluff and puff in between is laughable.

I may load this interview on my I-Pod so when I am having a bad day I can have a good laugh about how ignorant these two are about freedom of speech.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Stehly was on the attack yesterday, and it was the ‘Good Fight’

First, the obvious – The First Amendment DOES not protect free speech when comes to using tax dollars to promote a political candidate. This doesn’t even take a Constitutional scholar to figure it out. This is why Trump was impeached in Congress. He was withholding tax dollars to help his presidential candidacy.

While I understand a local entrepreneur casually mentioning a city council candidate he is helping out in an article funded by two institutions that receive some tax funding (state and city) may seem not as grand as what our president did, it is still worth talking about and correcting.

I was extremely irritated that some elected officials on the council chose to defend this obvious violation of free speech rights and state law.

Just because you violate campaign rules ‘a little bit’ doesn’t make it alright. That essentially was their argument.

While what councilors Brekke, Stehly and citizen Bruce Danielson said may have been uncomfortable, it was very appropriate to say and the right time to say it, in a public meeting. No one was advocating to arrest anyone, no one was going to throw some one in jail or fine them. This was simply an effort to ‘nip it in the butt’ before it became common place. People make mistakes, we get it.

Over the past day, I have told several people that Matt Paulson (Alex Jensen’s quasi-campaign manager, treasurer and fundraiser) did nothing wrong, neither did Siouxfalls.business. Stehly wasn’t attacking them, she was simply telling the Sioux Falls Development Foundation (and I guess DSU) that moving forward they should not promote certain candidates because they receive public money.

This isn’t an attack, it’s a fact, and many journalists and citizens agree.

We know what’s going on here, and we have been seeing this across the state for several years. The Republican establishment (a very small elitist group) has controlled our State House for almost 50 years, and they are trying to take control of our County Commissions, State’s Attorney offices and other non-partisan government entities like city councils and school boards. I want to clarify, I have voted for ‘good’ Republicans (like Stehly, Brekke, Staggers and Jamison) on these non-partisan bodies, because they have integrity and want to keep party affiliation out of politics. The group I am referring to is a very small group of ‘know it all’ elitist, establishment Republicans that want to control their business interests, and they see an opportunity here, though their actions look more like ‘amateur hour’.

I have said it already, they are using candidates like Jensen for city council, Cynthia Mickelson for school board and State’s Attorney candidates like Haggar and Bengford to stack the deck and implement their pro-corporate welfare of government, these are NOT Republicans in the sense of tradition, these are elitist greed mongers that only pray to one God; money. Don’t believe me? Why else would the South Dakota GOP Chair, a Jewish Iowa businessman lobby for an Islamic theocratic government? Because party doesn’t matter, only money and greed.

So yes, Stehly was on the attack yesterday. She was attacking greed, corruption, partisanship, lack of integrity and lack of open government. And not just ‘a little bit’ but a lot.

The Worst Politicos of 2019

We are all screaming for ice cream. Made with hemp of course.

I guess I could go on and on about Trump. But I won’t. Let’s focus on Sioux Falls and South Dakota.

Aaron McGowan takes the prize locally. The fiasco he has left Minnehaha County is embarrassing. What is even more embarrassing is the lack of intervention by the commission until it was too late. I’m not sure if I am so disappointed in him as I am with the commission and lack of general oversight.

In second is Paula Hawks who fought tooth and nail to become the chair of the SD Democratic Party only to resign a few months later because she didn’t cash a couple of checks laying in some desk drawers. I have a feeling we will be hearing from Paula in 2020. Pray for her, but more importantly, pray for the Democratic Party.

The number one prize goes to Kristi Noem, who has embarrassed female politicians across the state as the first female governor. She has confused industrial ag products with drugs. She has made a mockery of drug policy in the state. She has zero comprehension of the 1st amendment and 2nd amendment. She has taken nepotism to a new level. She has taken a dump on public education. And she has done it all with a wink and a smile. She is truly disgusting on soooooo many levels. She has shown to be one of the hugest failures in local government in 2019, and the Snow Queen rodeo star’s reign is not over. Screw impeaching Trump, we should be impeaching our governor. 

And you thought Janklow sucked!

Honorable Mentions;

• Minnehaha County Commission (Beating up on the treasurer over monthly reports while the State’s Attorney was absent).

• Paul TenHaken. For a guy who used to run a communications company, he struggles with communicating.

• Dan Lederman, the GOP Party chair. Besides the fact that he does his business in Iowa, he is paid to be a lobbyist for the Islamic Saudi government. He also had very little to do with Representative Saba (a Democrat) bringing in a trade deal with the Egyptians, and had zero to say about it.

• Greg Neitzert. His rage and anger for Stehly is overwhelming. He makes Rick Kiley look like a pussy cat and Curt Soehl look like Rhodes Scholar. I don’t think dunking him in a 55 gallon drum of hand sanitizer could help.