Entries Tagged 'Charter Revision Commission' ↓

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.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Nov 5-6, 2019

City Council Informational • 4 PM • Tue, Nov 5

We have presentations on Microblading & The 3rd Phase of the River Greenway Project. This should be interesting to see how they will spend around $10 million on this project.

City Council Regular Meeting • 7 PM • Tue, Nov 5

Item #7, Approval of Contracts, apparently it costs $79K to design and manage the construction of a very small Dog Park Downtown. I think I need to get into the dog park design business.

Fire Chief Goodroad also provides some information on what the design process will include for the public safety training center;

The Architectural Services will provide programming services and final space
requirements for the following:
• Main Classroom/Office Building
• High Rise Training (Burn Tower)
• 2-Story Training Building
• 2-Story Mixed Use Training Building
• Urban Search and Rescue (USAR)
• Hazmat/Rail
• Outdoor Live Fire Props
• Propane Fuel Farm
• Police/Fire Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) (high and low speed)
• Outdoor Classroom
• Tactical Gun Range
• Site Development and Landscape

Item #69, 2nd Reading, Bee Keeping ordinance. I think will have the support of at least 5 councilors. But it will be interesting to see what amendments get tacked on.

Item #74, 1st Reading, Clarifying the duties of the City Attorney as advisor to certain citizen boards. While I support the change, it should have been put on the ballot in the Spring for citizens to vote on it.

Item #79, Resolution to increase the funding for the Bunker Ramp by $1.5 million. It’s too bad this is all the way at the end of the meeting. I suspect the discussion about this should be HOT. I think they have at least 5 votes to pass this, in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if this actually gets 7 votes. Hopefully though we will get some answers as to what this is for, but I’m guessing we will just get a lot of runaround with directors telling councilors during questioning, “I’ll get that info for you tomorrow and email it.” (so the public can’t see it tonight before it passes). I have often thought that a vote should be automatically deferred one week if city staff can’t provide an answer in the public meeting, or at least try to find it before the vote takes place. What’s the point in answering a question after the passage of legislation?

Item #80, Resolution to appoint citizen board members. The mayor gets to appoint two members to the State Theatre Board (since we THE TAXPAYERS gave them money). I can feel the warmth of the popcorn already.

Charter Revision Commission Meeting •  3:30 PM • Wed, Nov 6

The killing floor continues at the CRC meetings. They will take up several items including;

• Removing Mayor from Council, Super Majority to approve bonds & plurality or ranked choice voting. I suspect they will all be killed by the CRC. In the graphic below you will see the timeline they are working with in this slaughter of good legislation and changes to the Charter.

Planning Commission Meeting • 6 PM • Wed, Nov 6

Item 2-I, More redevelopment/additions at the Sanford Sports Complex

Item 5-B, Video Lottery Casino, Alcohol Permit

City of Sioux Falls CRC (Charter Revision Commission) doesn’t have time to listen to constituents

Yep, you heard it from the chair, Mr. Smith himself, towards the end of the meeting today he went on a (polite) rant about changing the charter over ‘political’ decisions the council made, then said the city council has more time to listen to constituents then the CRC does.

Oh, and it shows, they only meet about once a month at 3:30 PM on a Wednesday afternoon when NO ONE from the general public can attend and listen and comment. Talk about due diligence! I often shake my head when I hear government officials (whether elected or appointed) say that the public must not be concerned because they didn’t show up to the meeting – while having that meeting at a very inconvenient time during the work week. I guess if the public was concerned they would ask for PTO so they could come and give their two cents. I have often said this is an open government issue, and these meetings are held at times when it is difficult for the public to attend, because, they don’t want them to attend.

Moving on in the meeting they of course KILL the plurality vote suggestion blaming the petition drive and felt if the public wanted to change this they would speak up and sign the petition. Ironically it was changed to majority without input from the public, just because a couple of councilors felt bad. So if something was changed without a public plea to begin with, why not change it back?

CRC Chair Justin Smith also continues to act like putting something on the ballot is automatic passage of an amendment. He either doesn’t get it or is just playing games. The CRC only places amendments on the ballot from suggestions from the public, it is up to the voters to say yes or no. I’m surprised a government attorney is acting so ignorant about how stuff gets on the ballot. It seems his blatant spreading of misinformation should be an ethics violation. The CRC is not the ‘end all’. It is up to voters to decide the passage of the amendments – and he knows it!

But before it was killed member Pauline Poletes tries to defer because member Bob Thimjon wasn’t there, Smith shuts her down saying Bob was noticed of the meeting and could have attended and they don’t have time to revisit it later – which proves later to be ironic when they DO defer another item due to missing members.

Member Anne Hajek recuses herself on the super majority bonding discussion and blames ME for bringing it up on my blog and corrects me by saying that while her husband is a bonding attorney he doesn’t not work for a bonding company. This is true, and I apologize for the mistake. But she of course doesn’t expand and say that the firm her husband Doug works for does counsel ‘work’ for the bonding company that does bonding for the city. It’s semantics I guess, and a little wordplay. The city attorney though asks Hajek to leave the room if she is going to recuse herself, then they make a bunch of jokes about it. Yeah, because being ethical or unethical is soooo funny. Thought I was at a Trump rally for a moment.

City Councilor Janet Brekke during public input brings data showing most bonds pass with a super majority or more, and all the more reason to put this forth seeing NO harm in putting this in Charter, and I agree. 

The chair and other members of course say that all the more reason NOT to pass this because it already is taking place.

Stinking Rules! Who needs them!

They also blame the petition drive again. But chair Smith goes a step further and says that this is about some ‘political’ decisions the council made (over the bunker ramp) and the CRC shouldn’t get involved because they are ‘Non-Political’ (Could have fooled me).

Passing a bond isn’t a ‘political’ decision based on a bias, it is a TAXING decision that affects us. I was once again shocked by the very ‘POLITICAL’ statements of the chair. It is very much the duty of the CRC to be NON-POLITICAL when deciding what goes on the ballot, and if this is a legal change, you should allow it, especially when it has to do with how government is spending our money. These rules need to be put in place so city councils DON’T make ‘political’ decisions based on bias, but decisions based on the best interest of the taxpayers.

It did get deferred though due to member Poletes pointing out they need 4 votes to approve something and TWO members were not present to vote (Hajek and Thimjon) so even if they voted to kill it they would only have 3 votes, and they need 4 votes to pass it. Of course Chair Smith voted against the deferral, but it had the 2 votes it needed to be deferred.

They discussed making the city attorney a non-voting member of the CRC and just an advisor, which I thought he was already. I guess councilor Neitzert is making an amendment in the future to change this in the charter language. Brekke said during public input that she was unaware this was going to be done. Shocker! Greg told the CRC but NOT his fellow councilors.

As I suspected, the CRC has probably been working diligently behind the scenes to sabotage the petition drive (it’s obvious in their scripted discussions they have during the meetings), then turns around and tries to blame this same petition drive as for the reason to kill these amendments. It shouldn’t matter if there is a drive, the duty of the CRC is to determine if something can legally be changed in the Charter, if it won’t be harmful to the greater good of the public and government, and it the language is proper in style and form. When Chair Smith said the CRC is ‘non-political’ he was correct. Offering your opinions on whether you support something before the public has had a chance to vote on it is being ‘POLITICAL’. So when are you going to practice what you preach and put these on the ballot and let the public decide, as well as yourself, IN THE VOTING BOOTH, NOT AT A 3:30 WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON MEETING.

Charter Revision Commission suggests City Attorney becomes voting member of board

Whether the city attorney is elected or appointed, he should only be in an advisory role either way. But what makes this even more troublesome is that he is appointed by the Mayor, if he were to come a voting member he would have the influence of the mayor.

I’m still baffled who might have came up with even suggesting such a ridiculous notion.

What makes it even more ironic is that at the beginning of the meeting, the city attorney, Stacy Kooistra, admits, AGAIN, that he didn’t know how to answer questions, this time about redistricting so he called on another ‘expert’ in the room, city clerk Tom Greco. Oh boy.

But the most (un)entertaining part was when councilor Brekke suggested to the CRC that the council should prepare a long range strategic plan, and it should be written in the charter (even though she admitted it didn’t really need to be in there – because it is kind of their job anyway).

Well that conversation went from bad to worse when one of the CRC members suggested that the mayor should do the long range strategic plan. In frustration, Brekke had to remind them that in the charter, the council is the legislative policy body and the mayor is administrative. She likened it to a paint by number painting, the council draws the lines and puts in the numbers and the mayor fills in the sections with paint.

They didn’t seem to comprehend why a part-time council would want to do such a thing or have time for it, and it was a better job for the mayor.

C’mon folks! This is civics 101, the council is the legislative body that compiles policy (Brekke compared it to a corporation’s board of directors) and the mayor is the executive branch executing the policies (the CEO). But this isn’t something Brekke pulled from her rear end, IT IS ALREADY WRITTEN IN THE CHARTER THIS WAY!

Shouldn’t the CRC know a little something about what is already in the charter?

The former mayor screwed the pooch on this entire process by becoming the ‘planner’ in chief and twisting the arms of 3 councilors to go his way.

I think the first order of business for the long range strategic plan is to terminate all the current members of the CRC.

A lot of Chicken Littles have been emerging over Triple Check the Charter

I was in amazement over the past 24 hours of all the peeps crying the sky is falling over Triple Check the Charter. Most of what is being said is pure bunk. First let’s start with KSFY’s story.

Besides the fact they mutilated the logo for the measure (eliminating the check marks and descriptive wording at the bottom) they seem to be a little confused.

‘One portion calls for the mayor to be taken off the city council and removes his tie-breaking vote. Any vote ending in a tie would fail.’ (while this part is true, it still doesn’t eliminate the mayor’s ability to VETO council action. With a VETO by the mayor, it would take a super majority to overturn the VETO. He still would have the power to stop legislation he doesn’t agree with).

‘Another item would turn city council elections into a simple plurality.’ (This was actually in the original charter until Councilor Rolfing decided to fiddle with it).

‘A third measure would require a 2/3 majority to pass any bond measure, meaning at least six of the eight council members would need to vote in favor.’ (This is actually the most important part of the amendments IMO. It would force the council to be in consensus when it comes to borrowing money and is an excellent measure that encourages fiscal responsibility of our tax dollars. The only ones that are crying about this are bond salesman).

‘It also calls for city council to develop a strategic plan.’ (That is false. There is NO amendment for that on the proposed petition. Maybe someone should tell KSFY that the word TRIPLE means THREE. Councilor Janet Brekke has proposed several times that the council come up with a strategic plan, but that is NOT a charter amendment proposal, that is just simply doing their jobs as policy makers).

KELO also posted this comment by Mayor TenHaken;

“To put that responsibility of the strategic direction of the city into the hands of eight part-time city councilors is, I think, a very dangerous thing to do,” says TenHaken in a video on his Facebook page

I am completely baffled by this statement. Why would it be dangerous for the policy makers of the city, the city council, to come up with a strategic plan? It is clearly ALREADY spelled out in charter that is it their job to create and establish policy. The petition doesn’t change this one single bit. The only thing that is ‘dangerous’ is our mayor making statements like this. It only confuses voters and is a form of voter suppression. The city council already has the RIGHT and the POWER to implement any policy or plan they want to, and the mayor can’t do a damn thing about it except VETO it. It frightens me that either PTH doesn’t already know this, or he is just flat out lying to scare citizens.

But the rhetoric gets even thicker at the CRC meeting when commission member, Ann Hajek makes this statement at the end of the meeting;

. . . however, this would be a major change to our form of government if adopted, so I think it is important for people to understand that there is some mis-information out there. So it is part of our job as the charter commission to let them know it hasn’t changed and we are in place to keep it in line . . .

As I mentioned above, the only people that are scared are the bond salesman and developers/contractors because it creates a higher threshold for bonding. Mrs. Hajek is married to lead counsel for our major bonding company.

But what I find even more ironic about her statement is that the charter, which was implemented in 1995 is just fine as is, and that the CRC’s job is to protect the status quo. It has actually changed several times since than, it just hasn’t been because of a citizen driven petition. The CRC and city council has made changes.

We heard the opposite with Shape Places. We were told several times we had to change our zoning laws because they haven’t changed since 1986. They actually were amended hundreds of times since 1986, and ironically since Shape Places has been implemented, it has been amended a handful of times to. Why? Because the city council that passed it didn’t bother reading the 400 page document before approving it. The Charter, like zoning laws, have to be updated from time to time. Triple Check the Charter is simply some ‘updating’ to the charter. Don’t listen to the chicken littles in our community who have a lot to lose ($$$) if these changes are made, while the citizens have a lot to gain in tax savings. If passed, progress would occur through a consensus of our council and within the parameters of fiscal responsibility. This isn’t ‘dangerous’ it is just no-nonsense government.

It’s time for citizens to fix the City of Sioux Falls Charter

If you watch the meeting, you will see the CRC (Charter Revision Commission) did their darn best to make sure nothing (so far) gets on the ballot for the Spring election. They consistently refer to the council to make changes. Quite honestly, when it comes to pay or how elections are run, that should be a CITIZEN decision, and should be put on the ballot by the CRC. In fact, I think most of the council would agree.

Fortunately, Dale Froehlich and Joe Kirby showed up to reveal the changes they would like to see. I’m sure they are NOT holding their breaths. They know as well as I do that it will be up to a petition drive to fix the issues with the charter.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda • July 16, 2019

City Council Informational • 4 PM

Update on Fire training center and the transit core team.

City Council Regular Meeting • 7 PM

Item #6, Approval of Contracts. The EC is only a few years old and they are already planning a HVAC upgrade. This was one of my contentions when we were building the facility, if you go on the cheap on the front end, it will cost you millions in maintenance later. I believe the Pavilion was supposed to cost us around $19 million. With maintenance and upgrades over the past 20 years it has far exceeded $50 million. This is why we had to keep the entertainment tax.

Item #28, 2nd Reading, State Theatre funding (this is tied in with Item #35, resolution to authorize the contract. Basically the council approves the supplement in ordinance then they later approve the contract in resolution (I know, confusing) I have attached the contract. While the document is 110 pages long, the contract itself is about 11 pages. This will most likely pass 6-0 (Stehly and Soehl are expected to be absent). While I can see the payoff in tax revenue (eventually) I still take issue with where we are taking the money from and by the whims and demands of one man. It’s a piss poor way to govern a city, whether it is a $20 gift or $1.5 million dollar gift, the well to do of our town shouldn’t be able to put demands on citizens to gift money.

As you can see in the chart below, we will be paying for ‘specific’ things, and if I understand the contract correctly, we will be paying the contractor who does the work as it is completed. In other words, we are not handing the State Theatre Company directly. It is very similar to the Facade easement program (something PTH has eliminated).

Charter Revision Commission • 4 PM (Thur, July 18)

They will discuss council pay.

Events Center Campus Study Group, Public Input;

Wednesday, July 17th – 7am Upstairs Club Room, HyVee on Minnesota and 38th

Wednesday, July 17th – 6pm Falls West Room, Holiday Inn Sioux Falls-City Centre

Thursday, July 18th – 11:30am The Center for Active Generations

Thursday, July 18th – 6pm Rooms 8, 9 and 10, Sioux Falls Convention Center

Charter Revision Commission has first meeting of 2019

Local Attorney, Justin Smith was elected chair, and no surprise. He ran the meeting with an iron fist and made sure everyone was following procedures and gave extensive commentary to why policy and procedures should be followed. This is no surprise, as I told someone after the meeting, Smith made sure that the CRC last time around put nothing on the ballot, he was afraid that if something got on the ballot it ‘might pass’. Like a typical attorney, it was clear to me from this first meeting that Smith was building the case early to keep stuff off the ballot that may benefit the public. I’m not saying he won’t approve some minor language changes, but those likely will come from the administration.

During the meeting, councilor Neitzert spoke and told them to take their time on the salary increases for mayor and council (as if he was appointed by the rest of the city council to speak on their behalf) Well, he kind of is the self-appointed leader of the RS5. I’ve noticed several councilors depend on Neitzert’s research so they can hobble through the meetings while watching baseball games and texting their plumber or babysitter.

Another gentleman spoke at the end during public input, having several requests. One was to have a super majority for bonding (which I agree with). Smith asked him what would that threshold be ($$$)? The person said they could discuss later. IMO, there is no ‘threshold’. If the city council has to approve borrowing money, whether that is $20 or $20 million, it should have a super majority.

New CRC member, Anne Hajek also asked the public inputer for their street address, which took him off guard. We haven’t been required for several years to give our street address only our name and city we reside. He gave it anyway, though he didn’t have to.

I have lost all hope the CRC will put anything on the ballot accept pissy-ass crap about minor word changes in the charter. The only way to make real change in this city is by carrying a petition, and this time make sure the city clerk looks at it.

Sioux Falls Charter Revision Commission meets next week

This is their first meeting of 2019, so it is just preliminary meeting to go over the agenda for the year. There are some new members this year, but I don’t have much hope things will change since Justin Smith will still be on the Commission reminding the members that we can’t risk putting stuff on the ballot because ‘it could pass’.

The CRC’s job is to make sure something is LEGAL and REASONABLE within the law to put on the ballot when it comes to changes to the charter. Their job is NOT to make educated guesses on whether something will pass or not.

I have a feeling nothing will be put on the municipal ballot in 2020 that is brought forward by councilors or concerned citizens or groups through the CRC. But I guess we will have to wait and see.

Thank God we still have the petition process, the only logical way to get ordinances passed in this town anymore.

Sioux Falls Charter Revision Amendment History

This Document ( Summary of Charter Amendments ) was prepared by the Sioux Falls City Clerk’s office.

As you can see, this last year they approved no charter amendments for the ballot out of 10 proposals. I really think the CRC set a really bad precedent this year based on the ‘sky is falling’ arguments to kill all of the proposals.