Entries Tagged 'Charter Revision Commission' ↓

Charter Revision Commission changes meeting time for NO good reason

From today’s meeting, the good news is that they will be discussing my proposals* at November’s meeting. The bad news is that they changed the meeting time from 4 PM to 3:30 PM, I’m guessing due to the whining and crying of the 1st Amendment Hater City Attorney, Stacy Kooistra. This from the minutes of September’s meeting;

City Attorney Kooistra reminded the Commission of the process for Public Input and the need for items to be listed on the Agenda for discussion or voting purposes. He stated there may be a need to reschedule future meetings to earlier in the day to allow for additional time.

No mention of how I cut him off during public input by saying they couldn’t ask me questions.

During open discussion at the end of today’s meeting they discussed the change (I love how they must have dress rehearsal before the meeting to make sure they can slip this stuff in and make it look legit). Commissioner Carl Zylstra mentions he went and tried to find a meeting longer then last month’s meeting of 1 hour 30 minutes and he could only find one longer in July of 2019 which lasted 1 hour 48 minutes. They quickly moved into a discussion about moving the meetings to 3:30 PM so that they could have more time to discuss items before 5 PM which city attorney Kooistra argued was the time staff needed to leave (there is NOTHING in the Charter requiring boards to adhere to staffers work schedules, if I am wrong, please notate in the comments section and I will update).

Only Commissioner Anne Hajek (partially) objected and said that the later time is to better serve the public (attending). But it fell on deaf ears as they all agreed to have November’s meeting at 3:30 PM so staff could leave at 5 PM.

As I have argued these public meetings are for the PUBLIC, NOT the city staff and I was extremely disappointed in the CRC for caving to the whims of the city attorney and his ignorant objections to long meetings.

This is also contributing to the constant destruction of open and transparent government by this administration and his hitmen. Maybe no one participates in city government because the meeting times are inconvenient. Yup. And they continue their madness with this change.

*Commissioner Carl Zylstra suggested my proposal for having city directors have residency within Sioux Falls could be easily inserted into the charter. So I still have hope that at least one of my proposals will make the ballot 🙂

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Oct 4-6, 2021

The City Council and other boards have a full agenda this week;

• The Audit Committee has finally released some audits, been awhile. On Spectra (the people who provide concessions to several city owned entertainment facilities) they found a ton of non-compliance especially with insurance requirements. On the Midco Aquatic Center they have seen an over 50% drop in attendance since 2019 and around a 40% drop in revenue. They were also non-compliant on several fronts and like the Spectra Audit it seems our own Finance Department is not doing regular checks of compliance. For Travel expenses there was several instances of non-compliance. $137,000 travel reimbursements paid directly to travelers (city employees). Many of these results don’t surprise me. I have said the City Manager (The Mayor) is running a rudderless ship and when you have a poor city manager, it results in poor management under that person.

• The Planning Commission has decided to go full rogue by putting every single item on the consent agenda this month. Now items can be pulled for discussion by the Commission or Individuals from the public but I find this startling considering that all items are recommended for approval by the Planning Department and I am sure several Commission Members will recuse due to conflicts. Folks, this is what true cruise control government looks like. I am still puzzled why we even have a Planning Commission.

• The Charter Revision Commission will continue to review the Charter.

• City Council Informational will review building code changes.

• City Council Regular Meeting;

On the contracts and agreements (Item 6) in sub items 17-18 they are paying this consulting firm out of Florida to do this?

And of course sub item #38 where we are reviewing the Human Relations Commission.

Sioux Falls Charter Revision Commission Proposals

Below are my proposals to the CRC today. I present towards the end of the meeting during public input. I appreciated David Zokaites for defending my TIF proposal and I also appreciate the CRC for allowing me 15 minutes to present, putting my proposals on a future agenda for discussion and engaging me after my presentation (something City Attorney Kooistra tried to stop until I reminded the CRC that was at the discretion of the board) he of course couldn’t resist chastising the board at the end of the meeting for allowing the engagement and his concern for public employees ‘time’. Whatever that means. As I have stated before to the city and on this blog, city meetings have NO time limit laid out in charter. They can recess or go on as long as they wish regardless of city employees ‘time’. As I brought up in my testimony, they work for us, not the other way around.

Charter Revision Proposal Ideas, Scott L. Ehrisman, Sioux Falls, SD;

1) Application for TIF will only be accepted for projects that will eliminate blight, build density in the core, and simultaneously provide affordable and workforce housing. Home rule charter allows the city to be stricter then state law.

I believe since State Law has changed on TIFs the city has been abusing the use of TIFs. They were originally designed to help with blight and provide affordable housing, they are now being used to finance PRIVATE projects and build parking and condominiums.

2) General Public input will be at the beginning of EVERY city public meeting, including boards and commissions and will have a limit of 5 minutes per speaker and NO limit on the amount of speakers EXCEPT at the discretion of the chair of the meeting.

The city has NO standard policy on general public input at it’s public meetings. Per state law every meeting must have it, but the time seems to be all over the place depending on the meeting. This would just standardize it for ALL city meetings. It would also put the Citizens business at the beginning of the meeting where it belongs.

3) Every director or department head must be a Sioux Falls resident, or become one within 30 days of hire/start date. Current directors are exempt. Only applies to new hires appointed by the Mayor and City Council.

Many local government entities require this. I think it is most important for directors that deal with public safety. I also think it is an economic equity issue. Directors that have their salaries and benefits paid for by the taxpayers of Sioux Falls, should also pay taxes in the community that employs them.

I believe it is the duty of the CRC and the City Attorney’s office to determine the final ballot language and the Article it applies to in the Charter and whether the question is legal to vote on. It is NOT your duty to determine if it is appropriate or not, only if it is legal and a legitimate ballot question.

I have a Surprise for the Charter Revision Commission

If you watch the meeting today, you will see once again, under Chair Smith, they are back to a script, and no surprise he was Re-Elected as Chair (it’s always good to have a qualified director).

He of course gave his diatribe about how it is their mission to kill anything the Sioux Falls city government authoritarians don’t approve of. He of course worded as though they won’t kill anything. He really should be writing movie scripts, such wasted talent.

I started today working on a revision to the charter that I will present to the group for consideration. While I still have to do some research when it comes to the language of the proposal, at this point I can guarantee it is legal and eligible to be on the 2022 municipal election ballot. I can also guarantee if it makes it there, it will pass by a wide majority.

I can’t wait to see how the Commission handles my request.

Sioux Falls City Election, YES on A, NO on B

As people have been absentee voting, many have asked me how to vote on the amendments. Amendment ‘A’ is pretty easy to understand. Amendment ‘B’ is a little more complicated, but I will lay it out for you 1) VOTE NO 2) If this was as simple as following state law, the council would have passed this already, they did not, because it is more complicated than that 3) this would increase the number of signatures you would need to petition our city charter. It should be made easier to petition our local government not harder. This is simply an attempt to justify the questionable rules that were implemented on Triple Check the Charter. How can you apply rules to petitioning when citizens haven’t approved those rules yet? VOTE NO!

UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Monday, Feb 3, 2020

This week’s meetings are on Monday due to the council going to Pierre on Tuesday.

Charter Revision Commission Meeting • 3 PM

Only agenda item is a going away party for Departing Members Pauline Poletes and Robert Thimjon. They accomplished their very successful shut down of charter amendments. Party on Garth.

City Council Informational Meeting • 4 PM

On presentation on Arterial Street Sidewalk Installation by Chad Huwe, City Engineer

City Council Regular Meeting • 7 PM

Item #6, Approval of Contracts;

Sub Item #8, $150K to USD Discovery Center

Sub Item #9, $275K to Development Foundation

Sub Item #25, $136K to YMCA for after school programs and

Sub Item #26, $111 to VOA for after school programs.

I wish the merits of these four items would have been discussed in the regular meeting instead of stuffed into the consent agenda.

Item #7, Change orders, we will be handing about $1.5 million to Journey Construction for the Village on the River Bunker Ramp.

Item #20, Transfer of 2020 Retail Liquor License, with video lottery terminals, and 2020 Package Liquor License from Badlands Gaming LLC, Badlands Gaming, 1600 West Russell Street, to South Dakota Veterans Alliance Inc., 1600 West Russell Street. It looks like this deal is moving forward.

Item #25 (29-30), 2nd Reading of TIF agreement with Lloyd Companies and Sioux Steel Development. As I have said in the past this will pass. I guess councilor Stehly will be absent from this meeting and NOT voting on the issue due to previous commitments. I have said that a better approach would be to gift them the River Greenway property (so they can develop it at their expense) and give them a $10 million dollar TIF only for that redevelopment. I think it is a crying shame that local lawmakers across the country are suckered into these kind of agreements which are truly developer handouts and little else. I’m praying for an amendment, but I don’t think it will happen.

Item #26, 2nd Reading, ordinance on campaign financing and elections. I feel there will be some amendments to this item and it will be an interesting to see what is slipped in. I still think that this ordinance should be amended so it is NOT implemented until after the municipal election.

Item #27, Supplemental appropriations for police overtime pay for special events. Like I said yesterday in a post, I fully support this, but I think a discussion should have occurred with the council before the mayor’s office proposed this. It is the council’s job as laid out in charter to be the legislators, not the mayor’s office.

Item #28, Parks and Rec fee increases. You will notice that some of the biggest increases are at the Midco Aquatic Center.

Item #31, Resolution approving preliminary plan for the controversial Golden Gateway addition.

Item #32, A RESOLUTION REMOVING UNCOLLECTIBLE, DELINQUENT ACCOUNTS FROM THE RECORDS. Interesting that these accounts are confidential?

Item #34, Resolution, allowing Landscapes Unlimited to modify the noncompetition clause under the Management Agreement.

Item #35, Charter Revision Commission presents their ballot amendments. I’m urging a vote NO on amendment ‘B’ which would increase the number of signatures needed for a charter revision petition.

More information to come.

Planning Commission Meeting • 6 PM • Wed, Feb 5

Item #2, F, Consent agenda, Sanford Addition for office?

As I predicted, The Sioux Falls Charter Revision Commission did very little in 2019

As I suspected from the get go, the CRC found a way to kill any meaningful legislation for the city’s April election. Oh but they did find a way to make it more difficult to petition our government;

The petitions shall contain or have attached thereto throughout their circulation the full text of the proposed charter amendment and must be signed by registered voters of the city in the number of at least 5 percent of the total number of registered voters at the last regular city election, or the number of signatures required by state law, whichever is greater.

In other words they are trying to get the voters to pass rules that they have already decided to implement on Triple Check the Charter. Yes, folks, they are applying rules that haven’t been amended yet. Isn’t that special? I also got a kick out of the attorney’s explanation on the ballot;

City Attorney’s Explanation of Amendment B:
The current language is, at times, less stringent in its requirements for charter amendment than what is required by the State Constitution. Such is not permissible under State law, which requires the standards of City charter and ordinances to be at least as stringent as State law. The proposed change, as approved and submitted by the Charter Revision Commission, would ensure that the requirements set forth in the charter for voter initiation of a charter amendment are at least as stringent as those set forth in the State Constitution, thus satisfying State law.

What they are basically saying is we MUST vote yes to satisfy State Law. My question is why aren’t we doing that already? And why are we voting on it? I’ll give you my explanation, you can vote NO on this, there is NO requirement we follow state law on this because we are a Home Rule Charter city, we make the rules when it comes to OUR elections. The SOS doesn’t run our local elections, and he shouldn’t. Don’t believe this poppycock, it is just a scare tactic to make it more difficult to petition our government in Sioux Falls and little else. They are trying to hoodwink the voters into passing this, because they know the requirement is not needed.

I vaguely remember the chair of CRC saying at the beginning of the 2019 meetings that it is the CRC’s job to make sure nothing harmful gets on the ballot that could have unintended consequences if passed. Kettle meet black.

The Charter Revision Commission, Welcome to the Killing Floor

I sometimes wonder when I am watching the CRC meetings if it is an actual citizen board meeting or a Shakesperean Tragedy.

They first started by killing the majority of the council approving bonds. They actually amended it so that it would be 5 votes (of the council) instead of 6 (which I could go along with since it takes the mayor out of breaking a tie). It failed in a 3-1 vote. Yes ONE vote killed it, the chair voted against it, and they needed 4 votes to pass. Hajek recused herself due to a conflict with her husband being a bond attorney. I think she would have voted against it to, so it was dead whether she was recused or not.

Then they wanted to change this in charter to make it harder to do petition drives that change the charter;

The petitions shall contain or have attached thereto throughout their circulation the full text of the proposed charter amendment and must be signed by registered voters of the city in the number of at least 5 percent of the total number of registered voters at the last regular city election, or the number of signatures required by state law, whichever is greater.

They basically think we need to follow state law when it comes to our city business in handling petition drives proposing charter changes. Bogus. The governor’s election has NOTHING to do with city charter. That number is over 1,200 more signatures as of the last election. They say they are clarifying the language to follow state law. So I wonder why they think they can try to change the ordinance in the middle of a petition drive? That has always been my beef. They are applying these proposed changes to Triple Check the Charter before the rule has been changed by the voters. Now they are trying to change the rules that they are already applying. Huh? I know, confusing as all get out. The rule should be changed before it can be applied.

All 5 members approved this being on the ballot. We will be informing citizens that this is bad and encourage them to vote against it. Charter change petition drives should be based on city elections. That is really what they should have proposed for a change and let the do-nothing AG and SOS try to change it (my guess is they would not lift a finger). Maybe I am talking out of my ass (I am told that a lot) so please correct me if I am missing something here.

They reject Councilor Brekke’s proposal to put in charter that the council sets forth a strategic plan (Member Zylstra voted to put on the ballot, all other members rejected it);

Adoption of a long range strategic master plan created by the City Council

CRC members basically say the council already has the power to do this (which is true) and it shouldn’t be in the charter as a stringent requirement. This is exactly why it NEEDS to be in the charter, it would force the council to do their jobs instead of letting the mayor be the legislative body and proposing plans. According to charter already, the council is the one that proposes ordinance changes and legislation and the mayor’s job is really pretty simple, run the day to day operations and manage city employees.

Another meeting where the CRC is the Judge, the Jury and the Executioner. I will clarify again, their only job is to place legal changes on the ballot, it is NOT their job to determine whether or not these are good or bad if they pass. That decision is up to the voters. They seem to be making the determination that voters will pass something bad unknowingly if they allow it on the ballot. It is up to voters to determine whether or not something is ‘bad’ for them, not a volunteer group of folks appointed by the mayor. They are chosen for their legal and management expertise (I assume) that is what they are supposed to be determining, if these proposals are LEGAL and NOT HARMFUL to citizens. I haven’t seen a proposal yet this year that is not within the constraints of the law, or harmful to citizens. They are killing these proposals based on what is harmful to the 1% in our community, and not what is good for our whole community. I have been thoroughly disgusted with the actions of the CRC this year.

They also make some action to change language on the city website about their duties. This was an extremely confusing discussion, because I guess they already made the change, but no one said what it said before or what it was changed to. City Attorney Kooistra mumbled something, but I was still confused.

Towards the end, the most interesting part was before public input. Instead of the chair inviting people up for 5 minutes of public input, he first asks the dais if there was an ‘OBJECTION’ to opening the floor to public input before allowing it. No one on the dais responds (why would they?!)

What the F*CK!? It’s on the agenda Chief Kills an Amendment. By state law that recently changed, you have to have it, whether you object or not. I would think a chair who specializes as a government affairs attorney would know state law? The problem is he ‘thinks’ he knows, and why he has choked the life out of all the proposals that have come forth, except one that actually hurts the petitioning process.

Councilor Brekke ends the S-Show by telling the CRC she will continue to work on her proposal for strategic planning. The CRC, or at least one member, Hajek, seems to think the mayor has a right to a strategic plan also. Once again, certain people on the CRC don’t understand that is NOT his job, it is the job of the Council. I am often amazed that people who have been involved with local government for a very long time, really don’t grasp how it is supposed to work. As Archie Bunker would say, “Jeesh!”

The meeting ends humorously by the chair telling us the CRC and himself have been ‘open and transparent’ from the beginning about how they would conduct their business (laying the groundwork of how things would be killed). He also gives a nod to my commentary (online). So now that the chair has brought up this ‘open and transparent’ process I would assume all emails and phone calls between CRC members over the last several months will be released to the public?


The scripted meetings by the Director (the chair) made it blatantly obvious that many ‘behind the scenes’ conversations were had.

I would like to congratulate the CRC this year for their continued obsession with killing progressive and constructive ideas.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Dec 10-11, 2019

City Council Informational • 4 PM • Tuesday, Dec 10

Update on Legislative Priorities for the 2019 session and a presentation on Walkability by Councilor Stehly (I’m not sure what her presentation is about). But I see they continue to peddle the perceived benefits of TIFs;

6. The Sioux Falls City Council supports tax increment financing (TIF), an economic development tool that has led to millions of dollars in increased property value, benefitting both the state as a whole and the local entities sponsoring the districts, while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the process.

I say ‘perceived’ because we have NEVER gotten evidence that it has benefitted us.

City Council Regular Meeting • 7 PM • Tuesday, Dec 10

Item #4, Annual city employee awards. This is always a fun one to watch.

Item #7, Approval of Contracts, Placement of MLK sculpture by Porter Williams at the refurbished Van Eps Park.

Item #15, 2nd Reading, Ordinance, $41 Million in bonds for wastewater. This is a series of several bonds over the next couple of years. I also want to remind people we should have started this process 5 to 10 years ago, but the previous mayor wanted to bond for play palaces instead and the public works director fell at his feet. I hope that at least one councilor asks him if he ever urged the previous king of Sioux Falls to get moving on this.

Item #16, 2nd Reading, Liquor license changes, This is going to be fun to watch. I have a feeling it is going to be a lively conversation. You know my feeling, we need to get rid of ‘lifetime’ liquor licenses.

Item #20, Pay Scales for City Council appointed staff. I won’t go into great detail, but it amazes me how much these people are being paid, and ironically, the staff that does the majority of the work is paid the least. I have said they could ‘trim the heard’ a bit and have less staff. I would first make the operations director the clerk also, and have only one assistant clerk. I would also eliminate the legislative/budget analyst since we pay the Municipal League already lobbying fees to do that job. Or maybe eliminate that fee and keep that person.

Charter Revision Commission Meeting • 3:30 PM • Wednesday, Dec 11

The hammer continues to drop at the CRC. As you can see from this graphic, they have been very good at killing stuff;

Oh, but they are going to get something done, making it more difficult to do a petition drive when it comes to the changing the Charter;

The petitions shall contain or have attached thereto throughout their circulation the full text of the proposed charter amendment and must be signed by registered voters of the city in the number of at least 5 percent of the total number of registered voters at the last regular city election, (change) or the number of signatures required by state law, whichever is greater.

When I talked to fellow city government nerd about this the other day, they said ‘If it gets on the ballot, we will make sure it doesn’t pass.’ The irony of it would be the mantra of the CRC and saying they don’t like to put stuff on the ballot because people just vote ‘YES’ on it without researching it. I will guaran-F’ing-tee you that if they put this on the ballot, we will make sure the public is VERY informed about what they are trying to do and it will be fun to watch the ONLY thing they approve for the ballot fails, or at least we hope it fails.

I also find this discussion curious;

Clarification of Duties of the Charter Revision Commission on its Webpage

Huh? This is what is listed on the city website;

The commission may deliver a report to the city election authorities framing and proposing amendments to the Sioux Falls Home Rule Charter. The commission holds at least one public meeting each calendar year for the purpose of receiving recommendations from the public regarding revisions to the charter and to take action upon any matters before the commission relating to proposed charter revisions.

It will be interesting to hear what changes they want to make.

Change Anything you want (Guest Post, Bruce Danielson)

Let’s get this out of the way right now, the Charter Revision Commission as currently composed and directed by the city government is set up to be a place where things go to die. It doesn’t matter what the proposed idea is, it should just die if the administration currently in power deems it. The CRC will just read their prepared scripts and do what they are told.

This year’s CRC fun involves the excuse Triple Check the Charter petition process is to blame for their inaction. We’ll disagree on this, Justin Smith said it plainly in the last go round 2 years ago, their job is to make sure thing don’t go on the ballot because the public might just vote for the change. So most of the work of the CRC is going down (as grandpa would say) “the crapper” as expected.

The November 6th, 2019 CRC meeting carried on the tradition of inaction by Justin Smith missing from the meeting this time and Bob Thimjon was missing from the last one so items can’t be fully discussed or ruled on. With Justin Smith missing, vice chair Pauline Poletes opened the meeting with a clarification of her personal role and of course Anne Hajek, not to be outdone, declares she also is there for the citizens. OK, they clarified their “personal” positions in a less than positive way. I wonder what brought that on?

As you watch the meeting video, note how different members seem to be reading a canned speech to make sure the right words are said. Who wrote the commissioner’s speeches? If the presenter really felt strongly about an issue, why did he need to read a speech?

Oh speaking of reading a funky smelling speech, let’s discuss the funkmaster of the city council showing up to funk up the proceedings. Greg Neitzert had to read from his notebook to make sure he told us of his undying love for all things administration. His statement “if you were to remove the mayor as a member of the City Council, I mean really what this comes down to is I think you have a small group of people that are still angry about two or three votes in the last ten years and their answer is to essentially upend city government…” I guess he is talking about we, who own the government, being upset by four mayors who have increasingly ignored their responsibility to protect the public’s right to know. We have watched Greg Neitzert go from begging us to help him run for office to now pretending he doesn’t know the people who helped him get his bigshot position as protector of PTH and TJ Typeover. BTW, did they help him write his speech?

There’s an issue brought up by Joe Kirby we’re torn about, the 6 month residency requirement. The original proposal would have prevented former Harrisburg sometime voter, Ritch Nobles, from running in 2016 for an At-Large spot. If the full implementation of the proposal were in place in 2016, Marshall Selberg would not have been able to take a seat as the SW District Councilor because he was still registered as a NW voter until a few days before the election. Does it matter if Marshall moves to a district he could win in and or does it matter if Ritch Nobles moves to Sioux Falls just so (as he admitted) he could run for city council?

All in all, the references to Triple Check was a confirmation the public was right in demanding changes because the Charter Revision Commission is a waste of time and energy if real changes are necessary to the home rule charter.