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Interactive Government: David Zokaites

Guest Post by Mayoral Candidate David Zokaites

Goals

  • Government should care more about public
  • Government should respond to citizens
  • More interaction between government, citizens
  • Would profoundly impact modern life 

Community Outreach

  • Mayor should weekly dine with random city residents
  • Plus weekly lunch with random city employee
  • City councilors, department heads should also regularly meet with random people
  • New mayor will meet with all councilors individually
  • Mayor, councilors should have annual barbecue for camaraderie (invite public too)
  • It’s all part of the job

City Council Meetings

  • Mayor – facilitator, main power source
  • City councilors – vote on proposals, usually approve mayor
  • Citizens – provide input, usually ignored
  • Let’s change the dynamic
  • Increase city council power
  • At-large councilors should be full-time not part-time
  • Utilize public input to create better laws

Current Council Invocation

  • Prayer by minister chosen by mayor
  • Constitution says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”
  • Check to see if starting public meeting with prayer is constitutional
  • Take a survey, see if citizens want to keep prayer
  • Council also says Pledge of Allegiance

Ideas for Invocation

  • Mayor’s prayer for community (I wrote one)
  • Mayor’s secular pledge (I wrote one)
  • Mayor’s prayer for social healing (I wrote one)
  • Mayor’s prayer for personal healing (I wrote one)
  • Each city councilor should present their prayer or pledge
  • Invite public to present prayer or pledge

Public Input

  • Mostly ignored – should be valued
  • Limited to certain points in the meeting
  • Better to allow input after raising your hand
  • Each public inputer should be contacted by district councilor, at-large councilor, mayor’s assistant, or mayor
  • Acknowledgement is key to peace, progress
  • Allow PowerPoint and electronic presentations
  • They were generally disallowed 4 years ago
  • Exclusion was (apparently) directed against myself and Bruce Danielson
  • Move public input back to the start of council meeting to encourage more public input

Designing Laws

  • Ordinances (usually) decided long before public presentation
  • Design laws with actual citizen involvement
  • Convert council meeting from theater to meaningful discussion
  • Present rough ideas at council, a preliminary reading (new)
  • Keep first reading of codified proposals
  • Keep second reading

Controversial Votes

  • If any proposal has 3 or more public comments …
  • All councilors and mayor should explain their votes
  • Limit explanation to 2 minutes  

Falls Community Growth PAC missed filing deadline

As I reported in January, local businessman, Matt Paulson is funneling his personal wealth into the city council races by using his PAC. It is completely legal, but kind of shady (you know like having your toddlers donate thousands to a campaign).

According to the city’s website;

April 7, 2022 – Local Jurisdictions Campaign Finance Disclosure Report due not later than 5 p.m. for all municipal candidates, municipal candidate campaign committees, municipal political action committees, municipal ballot question committees, and applicable nonmunicipal political action committees.* The reporting period is March 1, 2022 (or last submitted report) through April 4, 2022.

Paulson’s PAC hasn’t filed another report since January.

Maybe I am unclear of the rules, but it appears to me you don’t have to file a report if you didn’t give or receive money. But that is not the case. In January he lists candidates Rehfeldt, Barranco and Soehl.

But if you look at the reports for Merkouris filed on April 7, he has since then received money from the PAC. Soehl also lists receiving another donation since then.

Sarah Cole also received $5,000 from Lee Schoenbeck’s PAC, SD Strong. That PAC hasn’t filed since January either and Buffalo PAC gave her $5,000 and they have not filed either.

I think the fine is $50 for missing a filing date, but you have to wonder if they are just running out the clock until Wednesday to hide something? Or it could be blatant incompetence. I’m going with further shaddiness.

Mayoral Candidate David Z said it best in the debates, there is too much money in the local races.

If Citizen Dr. Sarah Cole hasn’t found the time to vote in city elections, how will she find time to be a Councilor?

As you may know, Sioux Falls city council candidate, Dr. Sarah Cole hasn’t voted in any city or school board election since moving to our city. I would assume if this was NOT true, she would have made a statement about it, she has NOT. One of her other opponents is not much better, Bobbi Andera, only voting one time in 10 years in a local election.

As I mention in the title, I struggle supporting someone for public office who hasn’t even bothered to take 10 minutes to vote. Does this say something about the time she will dedicate to her job if elected?

I found this article about doctor’s voting records revealing;

One in four physicians didn’t vote in all of the last three presidential elections. So, what’s their excuse?

Dr. Nidhi Goel, a hospitalist at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, offers up a suggestion: “I think everybody will use the excuse of time, which is fair, but then kind of not so much. Because we can find time to do things that are important.”

When Dr. Cole mentions in her latest mailer integrity, it kind of falls on deaf ears. How can we expect her to show up to meetings? Will she be absent, not only in votes but in responding to constituents?

Dr. Nidhi Goel, a hospitalist at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, offers up a suggestion: “I think everybody will use the excuse of time, which is fair, but then kind of not so much. Because we can find time to do things that are important.”

And she’s right. Lack of time is a key reason doctors give for not voting. Researchers who study voting patterns have theorized that doctors vote in lower numbers because medical schools attract people who like science more than civics. Other studies have indicated that many doctors feel like their work has enough social purpose, so they can skip voting, guilt-free.

If this is true, why does Dr. Cole want the job?

Think about it, do you really want to know that your doctor is voting for the candidate you can’t stand? Some doctors stay out of politics for the same reason, so they don’t alienate their patients.

This the same reason why many business people stay out of it, not to alienate customers. Shouldn’t Sarah be worried that a decision she makes on the council may make her look bad affecting her practice and employer?

“We are very linear thinkers,” Lam says. “We base all our decisions, or we try to, on data, on things that we see, on observations. That’s not necessarily the case in policy, where you’re trying to convince people. From a physician’s standpoint, from a scientist’s standpoint, it’s incredibly frustrating to realize that the data might be completely outweighed by one or two stories.”

Lam warns that politicians also make decisions based on who shows up to vote: “If they see that the physician community doesn’t come out to vote as often as, say, the attorney community, then they will probably be more likely to listen to the attorney community than to physicians. Because you don’t turn out to vote.”

I am sure Sarah is a fantastic physician. I have actually heard from colleagues and parents of patients she is good at her job. But being a good doctor may not make her a very good lawmaker as mentioned above.

After Mayor TenHaken’s intimidation tactic on Janet Brekke was revealed, it is even more obvious she was recruited for a job she probably has no desire to have and Poops probably feels he has to make up ground for Sarah due to the lack of her enthusiasm. I also find Councilor Greg Neitzert’s mentoring a little strange considering he is sitting on that very dais because someone mentored him and has since turned his back on those mentors.

If Sarah loses, and I think she will, it will be interesting to see how quickly her relationship with Neitzert and TenHaken deflates.

It turns out, taking good care of patients includes showing up Tuesday morning to pull that lever.

And if she can’t even bother to do that, I would suggest you vote for the incumbent, a former city attorney and prosecutor who will make the time to serve us, Janet Brekke.

Sioux Falls City Council Candidate Merkouris doesn’t believe our Police should follow National Standards

During the council debate on Thursday night Janet Brekke said she will work with Chief Thum to try to implement some national standards for the police. In her recent mailer she said;

• Secure a stable Police Department training budget so our officers have the latest instruction available.

• Support Chief Thum’s 3 new initiatives to engage young people so they don’t become offenders.

• Strengthen relationships between patrol officers and neighborhoods.

Apparently this really irritated candidate Merkouris who went on this rant;

While I would partially agree you don’t take all National standards and hope they work in Sioux Falls, you still have to look at what could work. I was very surprised how agitated he got over it, considering the problems we are having with our police and other city employees. There have been 4 arrests over the past couple of months of city employees. Two for abuse and two for child porn.

There was also some other ‘dog whistles’ on other candidates postcards;

David Barranco said this;

I have two strong boys . . .

and continued on the back;

We must not assume someone who shares our values will prevail on April 12.

You can take that how you want to, but I think Barranco is painting his opponent as someone who lacks values and it is a low blow.

Sarah Cole also made some false claims on her latest mailer;

I am not a politician.

I hate to break it to you Sarah, but when you run for office you become a politician. As a recent female business leader said to me when TenHaken made the same claim, “He is extremely tone deaf.”

Politician; a person who is professionally involved in politics, especially as a holder of or a candidate for an elected office.

Sarah continues her rant;

The people of Sioux Falls deserve a city councilor that will serve with integrity and respect for others. I won’t play games or pick petty fights.

The timing of this statement after TenHaken tried to intimidate Brekke is interesting to say the least especially coming from a POLITICIAN who has never voted in a single city or school board election in the community she wants to serve.

I think on Tuesday, your choice is very clear; Reistroffer, Brekke, Pam Cole and Cody Ingle.

South DaCola City Election Endorsements

No candidate has asked me to endorse them . . . maybe there is a reason why, LOL.

As I have already mentioned, I think that voter turnout is going to be extremely low. This makes it hard to predict some of the races, so I will avoid that, because quite honestly, this is probably one of the most challenging elections I have ever seen.

Coming out of a pandemic and the cluster of the last city election being during a primary of uneducated city government voters and the factor of a popular incumbent mayor.

ENDORSEMENTS

Mayor; David Zoikates. David was an easy choice, while I will admit that he can be a little quirky at times, several things standout; police reform and open government. Any candidate that will put transparency first will always get my vote. I also believe in his campaign promises. I recently told David that the issue I have with his two opponents is they are cut from the same cloth.

At-Large A; Janet Brekke. Not only is Janet the most qualified city councilor we have ever had, she is more qualified than any one in the entire pool of candidates, including the mayor’s race. Janet IS a consensus builder and she does it by asking the tough questions and promoting open government. I got to know Janet when she was running for office and assisted with her direct mail in her first race. Trust me, I don’t agree with Janet on numerous issues, but I also know Janet will listen to you and weigh your opinion in her decisions. She also has no one to impress, Janet has been involved in public service for decades, she has NO ulterior motives besides good government. I call her the Republican Pam Nelson.

At-Large B; Pam Cole. I had to be sold on Pam. But after reviewing her resume and experience, I think she is genuine in her intent, and I think we need more progressives on the council. I also don’t trust her opponent who comes across like our previous mayor with promises of inclusion that fall away on inauguration day.


SE District; Cody Ingle. I don’t personally know Mr. Ingle, but his stances on diversity, inclusion and equal rights stand out for me. He is also young, vibrant and progressive in his ideals. He is also a super nice guy. His opponent is a grand mystery. His opponent recently told a constituent that he only cares and represents his district and is not concerned about the rest of the city. Which means he is oblivious to his role as a councilor and extremely unqualified, kind of like the person he wants to replace.


Central District; Emmett Reistroffer. Where to begin? A candidate who is young and full of ideas. A deep understanding of policy and citizen advocacy. I dare any candidate running, even for mayor, to match up their resume to Emmett when it comes to public policy. While Emmett has a strong personality, he is also respectful of citizens opinions. In his work as a cannabis advocate he has proven that time and time again. He understands the people’s work, and knows how to get it done and work hard to implement policies that benefit this city as a whole. Emmett is the most well-rounded council candidate we have probably ever seen in the history of our city. It would be a disservice to NOT elect him.

I encourage everyone to vote, local government is the most important government. They determine most of the rules and laws you should follow, the majority of your taxation and the amount of government services you receive. It is the most important decision you will ever make effecting your life over the next 4 years.

Mayor TenHaken may have violated FCC Committee Member Rules

Mayor TenHaken currently is the chair of the FCC Intergovernmental Advisory Committee, as a committee member they have to follow certain rules and guidelines in that position. According to the FCC they are only allowed to provide opinions to the FCC Commission. I was unable to find the specific rule that prohibits committee members from making accusations or pronouncements about other fellow lawmakers, like a city councilor he serves with, but I do know that Federal boards have to meet a much higher bar when it comes to conduct. I would think if Councilor Brekke made an inquiry to the FCC about his accusations they would look into the rules he must follow as a committee member.

Here is the video of Brekke’s press conference. I like how she compared Paul to a singer of a rock band and the council is the musicians in the band;

Here is the dust up between Starr and Jensen;

UPDATE: City of Sioux Falls Employees are also voters

UPDATE: Notice in Trevor Mitchell’s story;

Asked for comment, TenHaken’s campaign responded with several links to the Federal Communication Commission’s rules on political campaign texts, as well as to the Sioux Falls Code of Ordinances. The city’s code states:


“No city employee shall, directly or indirectly, contribute money or anything of value to or render service in behalf of the candidacy of any candidate for nomination or election to any city office.” 


Notice that either Mitchell or TenHaken conveniently left out the last two sentences of the complete ordinance, which gives city employees the right to privately support candidates, just NOT financially.


§ 39.038 POLITICAL ACTIVITY.
No officer or employee under the civil service or appointive officers shall, directly or indirectly, contribute money or anything of value to or render service in behalf of the candidacy of any candidate for nomination or election to any city office. The expression in private of personal views concerning candidates for political office is not prohibited hereby. Violation of this section shall be grounds for discharge or other disciplinary action.

This of course is no surprise how low they will go to try to make it look like they have the law on their sides. Ironically, it seems Poops is the one who may have violated city charter when it comes ethics and employee bonuses;


§ 39.041 UNLAWFUL INFLUENCE.
No person while holding any office in the government of the city or any nomination for or while seeking a nomination for appointment to any office shall corruptly use or promise to use, either directly or indirectly, any official authority or influence in the way of conferring upon any person, or in order to secure or aid any person in securing any office or public employment or any nomination, confirmation, promotion or increase in salary, upon the consideration or condition that the vote or political influence or action of the last named person or any other person shall be given or used in behalf of any candidate, officer or party, or upon any other corrupt condition or consideration.

It seems Paul is trying to deflect from his own ethical challenges trying to play the victim after he attacked a city councilor;

These are baseless allegations and honestly, way beneath what we should expect from our leaders. Those who know me can see through them for what they are  — false, misleading and a desperate attempt for headlines a week before an election. I look forward to continuing to discuss issues like housing, public safety and infrastructure rather than publicity stunts like this.”

Baseless? Who sent the private text with a made up controversy? You did. It is unfortunate that Brekke had to respond to your political stunt. You are such a small petty person. I know hungry toddlers with more grace. You played the same game with Jolene. These are the games of a political hack who has no basic understanding of ethics or running government.

It continued at the informational meeting where Chair Alex Jensen decided to dig on Councilor Starr who had to attend a personal matter so he was late to the meeting saying, “Where is Pat Starr, thought he wanted to ask questions? (about Forward Sioux Falls funding). Starr showed up shortly later and at the end of the meeting he tore into Jensen saying he wasn’t ‘Man enough to say it to his face.’ Jensen tried to deny it and Pat said, ‘We can replay the tape.’ As the gavel was flying the video producer shut the video off, essentially censoring the exchange. That’s open government folks.

This is what it has come to, a bunch of partisan hack rubber stampers who are angry about getting called out for their immense stupidity, arrogance and incompetence.

Previous Post

Unfortunately, Mayor Doxxing has decided to threaten a city councilor that is up for re-election with a made-up crisis. Councilor Brekke is contacting voters with her text messages and some of those voters are city employees. It is completely legal, as she explains. Janet is not offering any kind of compensation to the city employees for posting her signs, and further more, according to city charter, city councilors have NO direct influence over a majority of city employees, only council staff.

This of course is a response from the mayor because Brekke pointed out it being unethical to vote for city employee bonuses before an election, something that directly impacts their employment and compensation. She took the high road and Paul is taking the low road.

I could say more, but I will let Janet explain instead;

UPDATE II: Brian Allen shows his bias towards Mayor TenHaken before and during the Sioux Falls Mayoral debate

Before the debate starts, moderators Brian Allen and Trevor Mitchell have a hot mic conversation on how they will do the debate. I found this exchange interesting and thought I would document it if it gets edited from video;

UPDATE II: During the KELO TV debate they addressed Paul as Mr. TenHaken, the correct protocol.

UPDATE: They did edit it out of the DakotaNews and Argus FB videos, so luckily I caught it;

Brian Allen, “I’ve done this a time or two, I know where the quicksand is.”

Mitchell asks Allen, “How do you plan on addressing them? First name?”

Allen then asks who I assume is his producer, and there is a quiet conversation and it is decided to call him Mayor TenHaken.

Allen, “So we are giving him the power of the incumbency during the debate? That makes sense, so it will be Mr. Zokaites, Ms. Islam and Mayor TenHaken.”

Actually, they all should have been addressed the same way, as this handy little guidance points out.

Also during the debate Allen made sure he thanked Paul for his response every time, “Thank You Mayor TenHaken.” That did not happen with the other candidates as often.

Trevor and Allen also had a discussion about the candidates in attendance before debate, and Trevor said, “I see Brekke and Pam Cole.” and Allen perks up and says, “Is Sarah Cole here?” Not sure what that meant?

I will give props to David (who I voted for and have been endorsing) I think he gave common sense answers to big issues. I think Islam has a lot of passion when it comes to the vulnerable and she is well studied on the issues and she took Poops to task several times. TenHaken was on the defense most of the night, and seemed frustrated at the beginning and a little agitated. That is because he is NOT cut out for the job and never has been.

I guess Stormland TV is having another debate tomorrow night at 8 PM, hopefully the council meeting will be done by then.

Downtown Rotary hosted a forum with the At-Large A Candidates today;

Sioux Falls City Council Candidate Merkouris will not protect your right to Public Input

The Sioux Falls Election is bringing out the best of the worst, including this endorsement of taking away citizen rights by City Council candidate and preacher Rich Merkouris was expressing in 2018. 36 Citizens who gave impassioned Public Input on June 12th, 2018 were wrong? They are according to Marshall Selberg and Rick Kiley. The Mayor and 4 Councilors are saying “Stay away from our meetings, quit interfering!” We’d like to say, “Good Bye!” The Mayor is being encouraged to shove our civil rights up our backsides by the TenHaken best friend, Rich Merkouris. The City Council candidate Merkouris who doesn’t want audits of the millions of dollars he has received from the city coffers? Yup.

Poops Puzzling Postcard

In the 2nd installment of Mayor TenHaken’s mail campaign he continues to make up fake crises;

flooding, tornadoes, civil unrest, divisive politics, and a worldwide pandemic.

I am still trying to figure out the ‘civil unrest’. The BLM rally was 99.9% peaceful. I participated in it. It didn’t get weird until some latch key kids decided to throw some rocks at the police at the mall that had NOTHING to do with the day’s activities.

I also really don’t know what he means by ‘divisive politics’. The city council has pretty much been a rubber stamp council. Even councilor Starr who puts up a fight on occasion has voted the line most of the time. City government in Sioux Falls has been anything but divisive. There is very little discussion or debate. I hate to say it, but Paul has gotten every thing he has wanted.

But the most concerning thing about his postcard is the mask he is wearing, he admits in this interview he broke the tie for the mask mandate voting it down. So which is it?

Mayor TenHaken is a politician full of contradictions.