During the informational meeting today, the Parks Department proposed turning over the community centers to the SFSD for a after school program.

Councilor Merkouris questioned how this was concocted behind closed doors without input from a majority of the council and school board. He didn’t put it that way and was little more clever and asked how the SFSD can send out notifications for this program’s enrollment before the council or school board approved this.

The SFSD and the Parks Department tried to tie in future proposed indoor rec and pool centers. So are they proposing the SFSD take over the Midco Aquatic center? Yankton Trail Park? If you are trying to justify these indoor rec centers, then justify them for city public use not for supplementing the SFSD after school programs.

I agree this is needed, but I am with Rich, why wasn’t our policy body, the council, working on this? I often question what the purpose of our council is if the mayor’s office is molding policy and sponsoring it on the agenda. Might as well just put eight tic-tac-toe playing chickens on the dais, probably make better decisions 🙂

Councilor Starr questioned if the city will be saving any money? It doesn’t appear that way, it looks like we will still be providing funding since the city will still have use of the community centers on some occasions.

While I agree the SFSD should be sponsoring this program, I’m not sure it is the responsibility of city coffers (sales taxes) to help with this. I have been a major proponent of Pre-K education and public funding of it, but that should come from property taxes, Federal grants and mostly state coffers. We have a child care crisis in this city and country, no denying it, but we need to direct funding from the correct coffer. When I have to drive over 6″ ice ruts down my residential street, I’m not wondering why the city isn’t funding child care, I’m wondering why they are not spending my sales taxes on the most basic of needs like road maintenance.

This is an amazing report by the Lakota People’s Law Project about how the State of South Dakota is Attempting to Punish Lakota Child Welfare Advocates and Protect Child Abusers. You can read the entire story; Final Mette Case Special Report

On May 1st, The Aberdeen News of South Dakota reported that former South Dakota state attorney Brandon Taliaferro and court appointed child advocate Shirley Schwab were being charged by South Dakota State Attorney General Martin Jackley with witness tampering and subornation of perjury. Attorney General Jackley filed these charges in relation to the separate criminal prosecution of Aberdeen-based foster parents Richard and Gwendolyn Mette. Mr. Taliaferro is a well-known South Dakota Indian child advocate and, as a former Assistant State Attorney, he was in charge of prosecuting child abuse cases in Brown County. Mrs. Schwab is the widely respected court-appointed child advocate for Brown County. Richard Mette had been charged in 2011 by Mr. Taliaferro with a total of 23 felony counts of aggravated rape of a child and aggravated incest against two of four young Native American sisters who had been placed in his and his wife Gwendolyn Mette’s custody by the Department of Social Services (D.S.S.) over the protests of the children’s Lakota family. Gwendolyn Mette had been charged with 11 felony charges of aiding and abetting his crimes, and with neglect of the children.


I’m not a part of the investigative team, so I don’t know if Mrs. Edwards is directly responsible for the death of an infant in her care, but that is not the issue here;

City ordinance requires an in-home day care to register with the city and not have more than 12 children at one time.

Before Ulmer’s death, the city cited Edwards in March and April for having 17 children in her home. She was given fines of $100 and $200 for those citations.

Two additional citations were issued to Edwards after Meredith’s death – again for having more than 12 children in her home that day, and for having unregistered day care helpers in her home. When they arrived, police said the day care staff consisted of two girls, 16 and 18. Neither was registered to care for children in a day care setting.

The third citation for having too many children in her home brings a $300 fine, Franken said. A first-time violation of having unregistered helpers is $100.

Even if Meredith would not have died, it was clear Mrs. Edwards was breaking rules and should not have a license. Her hearing on Sept 13 should be interesting.


While I am on the fence about how much we should regulate private daycares in the city (because I think parents should do their research, it’s part of being a good parent) I also think the city should be providing as much information as possible, especially if it is available and the health department is charging a fee to regulate the industry. It amazes me that restaurants go thru more regulations then people who care for children. I suppose I could go into a diatribe about about the latest incident, but I will let the professional investigators figure that one out.

I do however would like to comment on the hogwash coming from the city;

City Council member Michelle Erpenbach said. “That being said … I don’t know that we can point to this particular incident and say if we could have, would have, should have, that this would have turned out any different.”

NRRRRRR! Wrong answer. If we are regulating a business and they are not complying with those regulations (they were fined twice) they needed to either A) come into compliance or B) be shut down. It was preventable.

And now for the washing of the hogs;

Though a link on the site will show viewers a list of citations issued, the inspection reports can be accessed only by typing in the name or registration number of a provider and seeing whether an inspection report exists.

“It would be awesome if everything could be everywhere on the site to make it easier for people to get the information,” Health Department director Jill Franken said. “Unfortunately, the technology doesn’t allow us to do that yet.”

As I pointed out last week to the city council, information should be easily accessible and not misleading on the city website. Sorry Jill, the technology is readily available. And while grandma green apples may believe your excuse, those of us who are living in the real world know better. City government’s resistance to modern software is not only troublesome, but is having some grave results. Time to upgrade. NOW!

As of now, the city’s website allows the listing of only one citation per day care. Edwards’ day care has had two citations, but only one is listed. The system removes listed citations after one year.

I’m not even a programmer and know for a fact that this is a simple programming edit. As for listing citations, it only takes minutes to scan a handwritten document and post it on the internets.

The next important step is to make substantiated complaints and citations more easily accessible, Randall (executive director of South Dakota Voices for Children) said.

“They shouldn’t be buried under a bushel basket,” she said. “The linkage to get those online quickly and easily needs to be put out there.”

Thank You Susan! At least someone is paying attention.

City Councilor Vernon Brown said most parents probably choose day cares based on advice from friends, family members of co-workers.

“We need to do more to help people,” Brown said. “But there is no fail-safe method for any government to truly regulate what happens hour by hour, minute by minute, at a day care. The best eyes and ears when it comes to this is the parents.”

While I agree 100% with Vern’s statement, he fails to mention that this is no ordinary case. They had been asked TWICE to come into compliance, and nothing was done. No follow up inspections. No license termination. Like I said in the opening, parents are ultimately responsible, BUT if government is getting paid to regulate such businesses, they need to follow thru!

We have been talking about this for how long?

SIOUX FALLS – New regulations are coming for all in-home day cares in the city of Sioux Falls.

The city council voted unanimously tonight for all registered day care providers to post their license, and inspection scores in plain sight for all parents to see.

Sioux Falls has about 430 registered in home day cares right now. The new ordinance will also open up in home day cares to announced and unannounced visits from the health department, law enforcement and even parents.

This kerfuffle has been going on way to long. Since I have been watching council meetings (I think about 6 years) they have been talking about this. It’s about time we actually expect day cares to follow rules like we do with restaurants. Food poisoning is a serious issue, but not as serious as your child getting injured or abused at a day care. I often scratch my head when I think about the priorities of the SF Health Department. They blamed it on not having enough resources (money) to inspect daycares. But somehow we have a cool million for a ‘Vision’ of an Events center and a heated floor for rhinos at the zoo. I am amazed that more parents are not outraged by their excuses? But I will commend the mayor’s office and the city council for finally getting something passed that will put more teeth in the inspection process.