Entries Tagged 'Ethics' ↓

Mayor TenHaken’s HATEFEST on Transparency continues with Ethics Complaint Coverups

I’m not going to mince words, this is just a blatant coverup;

But exactly how often are ethics complaints actually brought against city employees and elected officials, and for what? Well, taxpayers aren’t supposed to know.

There have been 16 ethics complaints filed with the Sioux Falls Board of Ethics since Jan. 1, 2000, according to the city’s recent response to an Argus Leader open records request.

But City Attorney Stacy Kooistra said not only could the details of those complaints not be released, neither could the roles held by those accused. Kooistra cited state law and city ordinances.

The only path to transparency on those ethics complaints is if the accused waives confidentiality.

Of those 16 complaints, only two have elected to do so.

While I don’t think there should be confidentiality to begin with, what I don’t understand is after a complaint has been thrown out, why does it remain confidential? While Kooistra may be correct that they have a right to confidentiality, I think that right ends once the complaint has been thrown out and the public has a right to see the complaint and the reason it was thrown out. I don’t think the law is on their side after the complaint has been thrown out. I believe there are two reasons why they are claiming they can do this 1) They don’t want the public reviewing the complaints that are thrown out and questioning why they were thrown out and 2) This administration has a deep, deep, deep hatred of open government, it’s almost a feverish sickness within city hall. It often amazes me why someone has such deep hate in their souls for something that is the moral, honest and the ethical thing to do AND actually saves taxpayers money.
You also have to remember that ANY complaint can be simply thrown out as frivolous if the complainant doesn’t cite the correct chapter in law/ordinance. You wonder how often this has happened? So while the complaint could have substance, it could get booted due to the ignorance of the complainant. Should the city attorney or ethics board be assisting the complainant to cite the proper ordinance? Yes!!!!

But, not only is there a DEEP HATE for open government they seem to be delusional about what an ethics indictment means;

The confidentiality of the complaints has been cited as a way to prevent their use as a weapon. Neitzert only waived confidentiality on the complaint following his successful re-election, saying there was “clear evidence of a timed and coordinated attack against my character for the purposes of defeating me in my re-election effort.”

Greg seems to be confused, because he WAS indicted on the complaint;

The board found probable cause that there had been a violation of ethical ordinances, but added that it was a ‘common practice’ for councilors to have their expenses paid for by a third party and that the City Council’s rules around such matters were broad and confusing.

The board recommended no individual sanctions against Neitzert, who was later cleared of the charge in a 5-2 vote of the City Council.

While Greg’s best buddies on the City Council dismissed punishment, Neitzert was still indicted by the ethics board and that remains unchanged. It wasn’t a political attack since the ethics board did say he violated charter. Him and the mayor accepted the gift and took the trip. A political opponent had nothing to do with that violation. In fact, to this day Greg hasn’t been able to show evidence that the complaint filed against him had any connection to his opponent. Not one shred. The only thing the ethics commission did say was he didn’t deserve sanctions since everybody was apparently ‘doing it’ even though they gave no evidence of who these other councilors or mayors that were doing it. Even though we know TenHaken has been ‘doing it’ quite a bit.

As I said from the beginning, this is clearly just a coverup. I would love it if Attorney Kooistra provided us the laws and ordinances that cover, coverups but not until he figures out prior restraint and the 1st Amendment.

Sioux Falls City Council discusses Ethics Attorney insurance at informational meeting

A South DaCola foot soldier sent this to me last week when I first posted about this;

Sioux Falls Human Resources Director Bill O’Toole sent an email on December 17, 2020 to let city of Sioux Falls elected officials know there will be changes in the South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance (SDPAA) policy for 2021. There are changes in it, that makes a person think, after the Neitzert impeachment, it was the result of falling out of the crazy tree and hitting every branch on the way down in order to protect the mayor and anyone connected to the illegal trips and other questionable actions.

Mayor and City Councilors,

The City will soon renew its Liability Coverage for calendar year 2021 with the South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance (SDPAA). I wanted take this opportunity to provide a general overview as we are about to enter the new year.

As an optional special endorsement, a new defense coverage is being offered for this upcoming calendar year for any public entities who have created their own ethics board. If a Member elects to purchase this additional coverage, then this special endorsement will provide an expert attorney to defend an elected official from the moment an ethics complaint is filed and through the entire administrative processing of that complaint from the hearing(s) before the public entity’s ethics board to the conclusion of any appeal hearing(s) before the local governing body (city council). This defense coverage will cover up to $10,000 in attorney fees and expenses per occurrence, or up to $20,000 aggregate for any calendar year. Please be aware that SDPAA panel counsel are retained at more competitive rates than those retained independently. This special endorsement will represent an additional annual premium of $7,500.00 and the Human Resources Department is in the process of securing this special endorsement for 2021.

Note how this additional coverage is only available to South Dakota members of SDPAA which have something called an “ethics process”. Why don’t they offer the other SDPAA members who don’t have an “ethics process” in their jurisdiction? It will only cover unethical behavior or accusations thereof if the jurisdiction has a pseudo ethics process. In other words, this is a corruption insurance rider. If a citizen or government entity decides there might have been unethical behavior caused by one of their elected officials, such as all-expense paid trip bordering on criminal tax evasion or at least unethical quid pro quo self-serving actions, SDPAA will now have additional coverage to pay for the defense of a Neitzert like clone or other elected officials when the offensive behavior is brought to light.

The Board of Ethics is a lay board of citizens, usually without legal background or training. Just thoughtful citizens of high integrity. The Board is not a court of law or does it have the ability to hand down legal conclusions. Board of Ethics decisions are not based on the low bar of legality but a higher bar of principles in their oath of office, promising high standards of moral, fair, non-political and conflict-free actions. The ethics board is not a legal body, only a board there to assist a city person find the ethical response to an issue or if a complaint, the probable cause the person did something which offends the senses of the community.

In Sioux Falls, our ethics board has as a charter function, to decide if ethical lapses occurred in a decision or action of a Sioux Falls government person. The only decision the ethics board can make when the question is presented, “was the issue raised frivolous or was there probable cause for the complaint”. If probable cause for the ethics complaint is found, the issue is then decided by the City Council and punishment if found is meted out.

Remember, the ethics board cannot find or decide a legal issue. Legality is not in the board’s purview. There simply is no legal decision the ethics board can make or find, only if there was a breach of a higher standard called ethics. There are criminal courts for legal issues with all the protections due criminal complaints.

This action by the SDPAA, if purchased by the city of Sioux Falls, will be to endorse the idea of the city paying for the defense, prosecution and exoneration of their elected officials at bargain basement legal rates. This paid for legal assistance for the elected person will start at the moment a complaint affidavit is filed in the city attorney’s office before there is any action other than a question was raised.

Note the policy will not cover employees who have been accused of the illegal or unethical behaviors only the mayor and city council members. This is corruption insurance for our elected officials, paid for by us by way of our taxes, to possibly make unethical behavior easier?

The current executive director of SDPAA is the former ringmaster of Sioux Falls city questionable behavior. When he was chief legal officer of the city, he made so many questionable things possible, to actually make them happen and then created the cover needed to make it look legal. Remember the Event Center siding study that was to be conducted and never happened? The Spellerberg MOU needed to build an indoor pool on borrowed land? A parking ramp to nowhere? A needed office building, just to satisfy the mayor who built to much? How about as the city attorney who had conflict of interest in an ethics board hearing where he represented the city AND the mayor AND the ethics board? He had to take the job over at SDPAA just so he could control the release of information and continue to protect himself for all his errant ways. Is the current SDPAA director supplying personal protection for the city at a bargain basement price to keep his fingers in the Dutch dike?

When looking at this added insurance, many things come to mind. Is this akin to a bribe to keep mouths shut? If you make any unapproved noise, the SDPAA will or won’t protect you? If a person was to run for office and asks or raises to many questions, will SDPAA decide not to cover the ramifications? Will it cover an official accused of criminal assault against a citizen?

So now, instead of the elected official paying attention to their ethical behavior, SDPAA and the city will cover any discovered activity. The elected person will not have to worry about the cost of the defense because once accused, SDPAA and the city will pay for their legal costs. For example, using the past cases brought before the ethics board (including the impeachment of Neitzert), the city would have had to pay all the costs for the lawyers hired to defend the accused person’s unethical behavior. Instead of just admitting the personal mistake and making it go away, the people of Sioux Falls end up having to pay for the defense of the unethical persons and their actions plus the prosecution costs.

What we citizens of Sioux Falls will be paying as part of the insurance bill this year, is a benefit for elected officials. A new policy clause to cover unethical corruption and criminal activity. Maybe we should start calling SDPAA, Your Source For Corruption Insurance.

EDITOR’S NOTE: After watching the meeting today where Brekke and Starr said that this is NOT an administrative decision, it is a city council decision (in which the rest of the council disagreed as well as the city attorney) what was revealing is that Neitzert admitted about 90% of his legal fees at his recent impeachment hearing were paid for by donations (around $15,000 he paid $2,000 himself). WOW! Who needs insurance with friends like that?! I encourage you to watch the video. As I have said, council wouldn’t need this rider if they would just act ethically, and if not, at least confess and apologize before lawyers have to be hired. I guess I’m not mad at Greg for what he did, I’m mad that he didn’t have the moral compass to just admit the wrong doing and take his medicine. Very cowardly.

LAST NOTE: I also see a reoccurring theme at the city council informational meetings, they don’t have enough time for presentations and questions because they moved the city council regular meeting up to 6 PM. We knew this would happen. In fact it was so tight, that councilors Neitzert and Kiley who were scheduled to attend the meeting on their phones were clearly voting at the beginning of the meeting while driving home in their cars because you could hear it. Once again, Sioux Falls city government is very predictable.

Is the City of Sioux Falls looking for an Insurance Policy against Ethics Legal Corruption?

I’m hearing rumors today that the Public Assurance Alliance that insures Sioux Falls and other SD municipalities is looking to add a policy that would secure legal expenditures for elected officials who may have legal expenses due to ethics complaints.

The Alliance already covers city employees (non-elected officials) for these things, but would make an extension to those elected by the public.

You already may know my opinion on the matter.

If this is true, stay tuned for further commentary on how I oppose this taxpayer expense.

More transparency for Sioux Falls in 2021

Hopefully we will have Covid under control or at least manageable early summer. I have a feeling once the vaccine is available to the general public we will turn the corner very quickly. I also look forward to hopefully having a full season of The Levitt concert series. Heck even a half-season would be fine with me.

But my biggest concern in the city is the continuing decline of transparency in government. This is what happens when you put partisan hack authoritarian fascists in charge of local NON-PARTISAN government. Power goes straight to their heads and the way to control that power is thru secrecy. I also think these very un-democratic measures by our local government and state government may quell a bit when the orange menace in Washington is finally shown the door. The next 30 days is going to be the scariest and most embarrassing Trump circus we have ever seen.

I could certainly go on a very long rant about Mayor TenHaken’s lack of leadership and absence of intelligent decisions but where I really get worked up is his deep hatred for transparency. I really think his hatred comes from his years of being a partisan hack in the political advertising world. Keeping strategies from your opponent is essential to beating them. Unfortunately, Paul has carried that philosophy over to actually serving in office. He is also very keen on trying to punish his political enemies and it shows in his extreme paranoia he uses to justify his secrecy. I know he won’t make these changes on his own, so we may need to force his hand on a couple of these things in 2021;

• Hold weekly mayoral press conferences. This could be something as simple as 15 minutes of presentation and 15 minutes of questions from the press, at NOON on Tuesdays, live stream on YouTube and FB and replay in YouTube. This could be an essential step towards transparency. It would also require the mayor to educate himself with what is really going on in the city.

• Settle the Bunker Ramp lawsuit. This fiasco has been going on for far too long, this needs to be mopped up so we can try to promote a new development on the site. The bunker ramp is a prime example of the ultimate failure of local government on so many levels. City employees, dubious developers, two mayors and around 10 city councilors royally screwed us on this deal. I would really like to see a formal apology sometime in 2021 from those involved in this fraud against taxpayers. But like most authoritarians who love secrets, no one will ever come clean on this. The denial so pathetic I have often said everyone involved should either resign or be fired.

• Revoke Sioux Steel’s TIF. We still have no idea where this project is going, and since it has already been delayed for a year, it is time to revoke the original TIF. If they still do the project, it is obvious it will change from the original intentions, which means they must apply for a new, down scaled TIF, or better yet, NO TIF at all. This is another example of the highly secretive planning department that works quietly behind the scenes with developers to ‘recommend approval’ (ironically, something else that needs to be revoked in 2021 also).

• Overhaul the TIF program. As I have suggested for over a decade, the TIF program should be moved into the community development office and short term property tax rebates should be given to individual home owners and small rental properties for cleaning up properties in Central and Proper Sioux Falls. I actually believe cleaning up the core of our city (private properties, sidewalks, streets, curb and gutter, street lights, etc.) would have an enormous impact on the local economy. In fact studies done across the nation have shown that cleaning up cities from the inside out and creating strong density in the core boosts the local economy. Instead of dumping millions into new infrastructure in cornfields in Lincoln county we need to concentrate on cleaning up our core.

• Eliminate SIRE for good. This POS City Council online agenda reference service has been broken for as long as I can remember. If the software was an employee it would have been fired 15 years ago. The city continues to dump money into this joke of a system, and with all the technological advances you would think the city would have replaced it by now. But see, the city likes it this way, it gives them an excuse for hiding agenda items from us. The city’s legal department has also been titling agenda items with no direct references to what the agenda item is about. This is also an attack on open government and needs to end.

• City Council Ethics rules overhaul. There are no clear ethics rules. Every time the council gets tried for a possible violation, they slither out of it by claiming it is too vague or broad. And even if there is proof a councilor or mayor violated ethics, as did Neitzert and TenHaken, the majority of the council dismisses the charges. The ethics board isn’t much better, often claiming ‘law’ permits councilors to violate ethics, though they have nothing to do with each other. I also have the right to say ‘F’ck’ a thousand times a day in public, but ethically know that is probably not such a good idea.

• Public input needs to be moved to the beginning of the meetings again. Of course we will probably have to wait until the next municipal election in 2 years to overturn this moronic and authoritarian move, but in the meantime we plan to have a little fun with the move and some possible 1st Amendment ‘challenges’.

• A major overhaul of the Home Rule Charter. This was attempted with ‘Triple Check the Charter’ but the Rat Finks prevailed. Next time around we will take on a new approach and when the smoke clears, they will wish the last attempt passed because the 2nd attempt isn’t going to be pretty and if it passes, there won’t be a lot of people standing.

We need to return transparency to City Hall in 2021 and not only get it back, but make it more open than it has ever been and put the changes permanently in place. Open government not only saves taxpayers money but makes government more efficient. Also, a well informed public functions better and gets more involved with important decisions in our community.

Here’s hoping for a better 2021, one with more information and less viruses and orange people.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Greg ‘Ethically Challenged’ Neitzert responds to killing public input

I was going to stay away from an extensive blog post on why keeping public input at the beginning of the meeting was important. I have literally ranted about freedom of speech, open government and the 1st Amendment for over 13 years on my blog.

Our founding fathers made it #1 for a reason, dissent and grievances towards your government make your government better because we hope our elected officials are modeling legislation out of what we find important to the majority but more importantly the minority;

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Sometimes this happens, sometimes it does not. But if those leaders are NOT willing to listen or put us to the back of the line, you can guarantee they do NOT think what we say is important (while digging in our pockets to fund the very government they run).

I have to respond to this long and extensive rant by Councilor Nutzert on Facebook today. You may not agree with all my retorts, but give me a listen;

Late last week a postcard hit mailboxes in Sioux Falls.  That postcard was a “call to action” regarding a vote the City Council will have on Tuesday night regarding our general public input.  That postcard was misleading, irresponsible, and inflammatory.  It uses the technique of creating a false “rich vs poor”/”developer vs average citizen” conflict.  It also makes the irresponsible allegation that City Councilors and the Mayor care about rich people and developers, but don’t care about the “average citizen”.

Everything Greg says in this paragraph is hyperbole. The very people who have funded the campaigns of most of the city council (even some I support) have been from the ruling class. Those who support public input at the beginning of the meetings have pointed out the truth; the very business people showing up to the meetings to do business have a financial stake in the decisions made. In other words waiting an extra 30 minutes to do their business doesn’t cost them a dime, they are probably actually going to be financially rewarded. That goes for the developer getting millions in a tax rebate to the small theatre owner getting a beer license. Waiting is the cost of doing business. As for the citizens, who fund the lion’s share of city government, we are there on our own time. If anything, public input should be moved, before the invocation and pledge of allegiance.


I’m going to set the record straight, and then move on.  This issue is really much ado about nothing.  It is procedural and has no impact on citizens day to day life.

Wow! He is right that it is procedural, procedurally moving citizens to the back of the line, dead last in the dark of the night. They even have the gall to say you can’t talk about the meeting that just occurred. Greg’s statement reminds of when Monty Python famously says, “It’s only a fleshwound.”


Council meetings, like many other governmental bodies meetings, have a designated time that people can talk to the elected body about anything that they want that is NOT already on the agenda.  We call this our “general” public input time.  We allow up to 30 minutes of general public input (3 minutes per person).  You can talk to us about ANYTHING, and people do.  It may be completely irrelevant to the city.  

Greg leaves out that not only is it state law to allow this time in most public meetings, it is covered by the US Constitution and a recent Supreme Court ruling.


We also allow public input on every agenda item at our meeting.  Agenda items can be many things – approval of a new beer license, a rezoning of a property, annexation of land into the city, an ordinance to create a new law in the city, a fee increase proposal, and so many other things.  Any citizen can give input on these agenda items.  They may support it.  They may be the applicant requesting it.  They may oppose it.  They may be a neighbor who opposes what a builder/developer/owner is trying to do.  They may oppose a rate increase, or a new restriction.  They are all citizens.  Interested parties for agenda items, and those giving input are not just “developers” or “rich people”.  They are citizens who may have deep concern about a new law, a new fee increase, or something that might happen near their home or neighborhood.

Yes, but these are very separate from general input, this is reserved for things NOT on the agenda, and that is why they take precedent over the upcoming business. And unlike the welfare queens that come each week to fatten their pockets on the regular agenda, they are welcome to bitch and complain also during this time, and some do.


Regardless of the order of our meetings, SOMEONE has to wait.  It is not a choice of making citizens wait or not, it is a matter of WHICH citizens should have to wait. 

Ironically, he is right (in this statement alone) and the tradition is to allow the people who own this government to speak first. Rich or poor, contributors or bloodsuckers. Come at the beginning and get your dissent on.

Should those that are there to speak, support, or oppose an agenda item (that is urgent because it is up for approval) and may affect them personally have to wait, or should those who are there to talk about something that is not on the agenda, and may not even be something the Council has jurisdiction over, have to wait.  Whatever you think is the right answer, I only ask that you recognize that you are asking some citizens to wait, no matter what.

Okay, we call this ‘splitting hairs’. As I linked above in the 2018 SCOTUS ruling, as long as what you are saying is ‘germane’ to government business (which is most everything), your statements are protected by the 1st Amendment. Nothing anyone says at these meetings has more importance than the other. Where the line is drawn is what is more important? Dissent or business? I think our founding fathers found dissent of the citizens is more important than those who seek refuge from our government in favorable taxes, fees and licenses, which have ZERO affect on our health, happiness and wellbeing. If Developer ‘X’ gets a massive tax rebate or favorable rezoning, the trickle down effect to the public as a whole is so minute you could measure it with a pubic hair.

  
As an example this Tuesday night, general public input will be first, because that’s where it is set at this point. 

And why is that Greg?

That means those citizens who want to speak about the proposed mask mandate will have to wait.  Are they “less than” those who are there to speak about something not on the agenda?  Ironically, those who are there to speak on THIS ISSUE (where to put public input) will have to wait for those that speak at general public input because this issue is an agenda item.  It would be odd to argue that citizens there to speak on this ordinance to change where general public input is held are less valuable than those actually speaking at the general public input time. 

As I said above, Greg is just circling back to hyperbole. The agenda is separate from public input. Always has been. I often tell people the official business of the council doesn’t start until the agenda items are presented. So yes, people have to wait.

 
The ONLY choice is WHO – WHAT CITIZENS – should have to wait.  Everyone will get their chance to speak, the only difference is who and what goes first.

And you think the ‘business’ of the city should go first, which as I have said is just you and your fellow rubberstampers doling out our money. Let’s put it to you another way, it would be like your employer putting you on a pay schedule in which you are paid one week in advance instead of being paid after you completed your required hours a week later.


A few other important notes: 1. In recent years, around 75% of general public input has been given annually from 10-12 citizens.  That means 10-12 citizens out of almost 200,000 are using the vast majority of public input time. We are literally allowing ourselves to be held hostage by a dozen citizens of our city.

First off, let’s state the obvious, Greg took that statistic directly from of his ass. Secondly, until the census is done, that 200K number from certain elected officials seems to grow like a whitehead on a teenagers nose, thirdly, citizens have not held anyone ‘hostage’ on the city council, in fact, I would argue it is the exact opposite, as councilor Brekke said, you are OUR guests, not the other way around. The 1st Amendment is NOT based on how many people speak on a specific topic. The same person could come to every single council meeting for the next 20 years and be the only person to speak, it would still not change the dynamic of that right.

2.  Anyone who has watched general public input in recent years has seen that while there are some great things that are brought to us, the majority consistently are items we have no jurisdiction over, are the same people, and are mostly grandstanding and self serving.  I’ll be very blunt, general public input has degraded into an embarrassing spectacle. It does not reflect well on our meeting or our city.  

I agree 100% it has become ’embarrassing’ and mostly because the citizens have been pointing out the ridiculous (and fraudulent) actions of this council. Greg said it best, he is embarrassed, and he should be, I can give him 26 million reasons why. If our elected leaders in this city have done such a great job why do we have a city attorney’s office? Maybe we should make an amendment to disband that entity.

3.  We rarely have Boy Scouts and other children at our meetings, and they’ve told us they no longer come or don’t stay because the public input can be so outrageous and inappropriate at the beginning of our meetings.  They could be learning about the civic process, but they don’t anymore.

So I heard this argument last week from a text sent to me, and I about died laughing. Public input is the ‘perfect’ example of learning about the civic process. Teaching our youth about Freedom of Speech and Open Government is the finest of civic lessons. I think little Johnny should learn and engage his parents about the homeless, prostitution and drug dealers. Why would we want to hide this from our children? Does Greg really believe our children are this naive? Sometimes the only way I learn what atrocities that our taking place in our community is by listening to citizens lay them out at Public Input. The only way you fix these problems is by recognizing them first.

4.  The vast majority of people tell me our general public input is not valuable, it is an embarrassment to our city and they want us to do something about it.

Well, then, why move it, just get rid of it. Seriously. Wipe it completely off the agenda. Oh, that’s right, like I have mentioned above it is against the US Constitution and State Law, and if you did that, you would all go to jail. So what is the difference if a citizen tells you suck at the beginning or at the end? This argument is just as childish as the person who is making it. He should get a badge for Bullsh*t.

5.  There are a LOT of ways to give your elected officials input.  Call, email, send a letter, use social media, talk to an agenda item, etc.  General public input is just one, and its frankly one of the least effective.

I also agree with Greg on this. In fact the reason I started a blog is because I felt my letters to the editor, my public input and our lazy ass local media were not cutting the mustard. But if you think our city council is responding to these other forms of contact, you are sadly mistaken. One of the reasons many show up to the public input is because they get ZERO response from councilors. I have had citizens tell me with real concerns about zoning and crime in our city they have NEVER gotten responses from the current and former mayor and 80% of the council. Then they wonder why they come on Tuesdays and chew ass? Greg, is it that hard of a math equation?

6.  Many of our city employees are hourly employees.  When they have to come to meetings to speak to an agenda item, they are being paid to sit there. All of those employees are being paid tax dollars to sit through the general public input. 

What Greg leaves out is that they receive flex time for those hours. In other words if an hourly city employee has to work two extra hours on Tuesday, they can work two less hours in the remainder of the week. As for the directors who mostly speak at these meetings, they are salary, they get their mostly 6-figure paychecks no matter how many hours they work. Boo Hoo. What Greg is saying in this statement is that he represents the city employees, who we pay, over the very people who pay them. Our city councilors are elected to represent us. It is in the freaking charter! It is the mayor’s job to represent the city employees, which I have heard he tried to screw in the last union negotiation.

7.  Many applicants who have agenda items need to have their attorneys, engineers, and other representatives at meetings.  They are paying them usually hourly, and they have to arrive at the beginning of the meeting because they don’t know when their agenda item will come up.  They are being paid to sit through the general public input. 

8.  Even if you think “developers”, “builders” or whatever you wish to refer to these applicants are “less than”, consider that they (or an average citizen) who get on the agenda, have paid significant fees to do so.  They have paid to have us consider their agenda item.  Why is it a given that they should have to wait and those there with nothing on the agenda get to “jump the line”.  Why is that automatically right?

And like I already said above, that is the price of doing business in a capitalist society. Did Greg vote for Bernie Sanders?


We have had any number of big items on our agendas over the years that citizens have cared deeply about.  In my 4 years on the Council, we have had proposals to big large apartments near or next to single family, fee increases, bonding millions of dollars including the parking ramp downtown, the downtown city center building, and the water treatment plant.  All of these items are HUGE decisions and impact citizens directly, and in many cases citizens see them as life changing for them.  They are average citizens.  They aren’t the applicants.  They aren’t developers, rich people, or whatever other term you wish to use if you accept the rich vs poor/developer vs average citizen division.  They have to wait if you leave general public input where it is.  


The rhetoric of making this into a developer vs average citizen is inflammatory and meant to rile people up and divide us.  It should be rejected.

You are correct. Let’s reject it, and leave public input as is. Personally, I hate having to bring it up, because I know it embarrasses the Mayor and Council that you consistently kiss their rings. All this ‘division’ could end when you realize that the public IS who you serve. We only bring this up because it is true. If it bothers you so much, maybe you should turn off your sucking device?


Wherever you come down on this, just realize you are asking citizens to wait their turn.  The only decision is WHO should wait.  There are many elderly, “average” citizens (using the postcard terminology) who want to speak to agenda items, and you are asking them to wait if you have general public input at the beginning of the meeting.  


Those who support moving general public input to the end of the meeting care about citizens, and they care about input.  Saying or implying that they don’t is irresponsible and a unfounded personal attack on their character.

Is it? Because I have yet to hear from one of the ‘specials’ in our community that having to wait an extra 30 minutes is hurting their businesses. They don’t have to say anything because they have puppets like you Greg to defend them, because they have spent a lot of capital making sure you do what is best for them, including crying on Facebook they deserve to go to the front of the line. I would expect the very business people of this community you defend to testify on Tuesday night that public input at the beginning of the meetings has hurt their bottom lines. I’m guessing that number of dissenters will be a big fat ZERO.

Remember every agenda item allows for citizen input, does that matter?
If you accept the premise that moving general public input is “oppressing” citizens, you must necessarily concede that if you support keeping general public input at the beginning of the meetings, you are “oppressing” all citizens there to speak on an agenda item.  You must be consistent.

And we have been consistent. We have it at the beginning. Why do you want to change this sacred consistency? Why do you choose to ‘oppress’?


To repeat again, what should be first, items that are pressing and on the agenda, or items that are not on the agenda (and may never be).  That’s the choice.  It is not a for or against citizens, or for or against input.  Period.  


I have learned in my time on the Council that people care about items that affect their lives.  If we vote to fix their road, raise fees on their water bill, they care about that.  Our procedures at our meetings don’t affect people’s lives.  It’s inside baseball.  While a few people are VERY loud and make it appear there is controversy or wide public sentiment, it does NOT represent the vast majority of citizens.

Your procedures don’t affect lives????!!! Was that a typo?

As a guy I heard on FB recently talking about Trump’s apparent loss, “We’ve had enough of your nonsense, grab your tape and boxes, and pack it up.”

Our constitution is meant to protect the minority. Read it, you freaking moron!

You can decide what citizens should wait, but don’t fool yourself.  No matter what you choose, you are making citizens wait.

I’m going to simply this all for you and make it shorter than Greg’s diatribe. The 1st Amendment guarantees your right to dissent your government. Period. And any government official who wants to mess with that precious right is full of garbage and should resign, I have plenty of tape and boxes if you need them.

Sioux Falls City Council is being sued over how they handled Neitzert’s Ethics Hearing

It looks like the paperwork was filed on October 15th.

ENTIRE DOCUMENT

Basically Mr. Cunningham is filing a writ of certiorari because he was NOT allowed to present evidence during the hearing is asking for a new one. If you read the linked PDF above you will see that John cites city ordinance that says he should have been allowed to present evidence with his legal counsel, he was not. He is saying the council performed an illegal hearing, and in my humble opinion, I agree;

It gets better though, because in the city’s consent agenda on Tuesday night they are hiring private counsel for this;

Sioux Falls City Council violates meeting procedures than tries to claim Brekke is violating ordinance

As I have mentioned before, the procedures this city council goes by in the meetings because of it’s poor leadership of the chair (TenHaken) the clerk (Greco) and the city attorney (Koistra) gets sloppier by the day. I’m starting to think they should just have these meetings in Paul’s backyard by the fire pit, what’s the difference?

Brekke and Starr made several attempts to separate out Fiddle-Faddle’s appointment to the REMSA board from the other appointees so they could vote on it separately, they actually pleaded to do so, but the mayor thought he knew what he was doing, which he didn’t, as usual. So they forced them to vote NO on all appointees. Brekke actually told them that she would be absent from voting because of it, and Nutzert, of all people and Eratticson chimed in that Janet would be violating ordinance even though they just violated many procedures. Kettle meet Black, especially Greg. Janet walked out on the vote anyway, Starr voted NO.

Before the fiasco, Brekke pointed out the conflicts Fiddle could have sitting on the both the REMSA board and the Public Assurance Alliance, and they were all fair hypotheticals. Of course the entire council (including Starr and Brekke) talked about David’s high ideals. That is where I disagree with all of them, that guy doesn’t have a lick of integrity, he proved that by trying to cover up the supposed EC siding settlement.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Brekke proposes ethics training

What was interesting about Janet’s proposal was that not a single city councilor had a comment about her proposal, which means they will kill it if it gets before them, because not only do they hate transparency, they hate ethical behavior even more. Janet pointed out that there used to be ethics training for city employees, the BOE and the elected officials, but that ended when they fired City Clerk Debra Owen. I know, shocker. Janet’s proposal is below;

UPDATE II: Sioux Falls Board of Ethics Meeting, Oct 6, 2020

UPDATE II: So one interesting thing I learned from the video was that the 170+ page document that was presented to the council during Nutzert’s hearing was actually given to the City Clerk several days before the hearing. Brekke questioned why they received the document that night right before the meeting instead of in advance. BOE Chair Jack Marsh defended that position and said they prepared the packets for the council immediately several days before the hearing and gave them to City Clerk Greco to give to the Council, and it was within Greco’s jurisdiction NOT the BOE’s to give them to the council. Which is true.

I asked a couple people in the know this afternoon why Greco did not pass it on to the councilors in advance. In fact, I guess, Greco intended to do so and even wanted to post the docs in advance online in SIRE but he needed (or thought he needed) permission from the outside counsel the city hired to handle the hearing before he could do it . . . wondering why that permission wasn’t granted?

I have asked a couple of city councilors to look into why the information wasn’t presented to the council and the public in advance.

This whole adventure was so sloppy and corrupt, you wonder how our city government can even function at all.

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I did not attend today’s meeting because it was at 9 AM on a Tuesday morning, real convenient for the public to show up – NOT. So all I can tell you is what I heard briefly from those who attended;

I guess the Board of Ethics determined that Councilor Brekke assisting constituents with navigating the Charter was well within her rights and duties as a councilor (Duh!)

I guess David Zokaites’ question about supplying evidence was pretty much blown off because Neitzert told the BOE that city employees take trips all the time. Which is interesting, since this complaint was against an ELECTED official and NOT a city employee. That was the main reason the first complaint was dismissed.

I guess we will know more after the video and minutes are released.

Reverberations from the Greg Neitzert Board of Ethics impeachment ruling

Guest Post-Cameraman Bruce

The reverberations from the Greg Neitzert Board of Ethics impeachment ruling is still causing waves in the Board of Ethics schedule. On Tuesday, October 6th, 2020 at 9:00am, of course at a time where few can attend, there are two Ethics requests. Remember, Greg Neitzert was impeached (or indicted) by the Board of Ethics probable cause letter sent to the City Council causing the recent quasi-judicial hearings by the body.

AGENDA LINK

The first ethics agenda item is an advisory request from City Council member Janet Brekke. Brekke is asking for clarity in the accusations leveled at her by the impeached Greg Neitzert. If you remember, Neitzert claimed John Cunningham had compromised her when he asked Brekke (a former city attorney) for clarity on the ethics process since the Board of Ethics and the city attorney refused to explain the process and their decision to him.

Brekke, like all city council members are able to assist their constituents where possible. Come to think of it, if they do not assist their constituents, then what good are they?

During the process, the soon to be impeached Neitzert sent ex parte communications to council members, attorneys and the Board of Ethics members in efforts to sway their actions and besmirch the integrity of Brekke and Cunningham. There should be another ethics complaint against Neitzert for this attempt to improperly attack Brekke. You notice in the packet, a threatening email from Neitzert, sent to Brekke and Pat Starr, promising retribution, as council chair, if they did not recuse themselves from the process.

How stupid is the impeached Sioux Falls City Council Chair Greg Neitzert? He is making some sort of threats of retribution against other members of the panel and letting the members of the Board of Ethics in on his plan? What is ethical or where is integrity in his planned attack?

The second agenda item on the BOE agenda is a REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATION (attachment 3) filed by David Zokaities. Zokaities is asking the Board to investigate and release the evidence, with all information, the Board found to make their statement in the Sioux Falls Board of Ethics’ Report on complaint 20-B and recommendations to City Council:

c. The Board finds other incidents of past travel by City officers for which a third party paid expenses. While the Board did not thoroughly investigate or determine the full extent of such practices by City officers or officials, the practice appears to be common. The Board did not determine whether attendance at any prior event(s) was specifically improper.

Zokaities is now asking the Board to do their job, to finish the investigation, they alluded to and expose the violations. If the city officials and staff are making secret trips, we the public must know how they are using their positions to possibly corrupt our government. Are they getting more illegal free trips? Are they getting more illegal free meals? Are they getting boats parked in their driveways or Rolex watches for doing their gifters work? We don’t know since our administration was hired by the people in 2018 by promising transparency. If it was happening before 2018, we also need to know. The Board made the accusation in writing, so let’s see the evidence and then, let the prosecutions begin?

If a librarian can’t accept a meal or honorarium to serve on a national board, the cops could not receive discount gift cards or the Planning Director had to give up his conflicting corporate advisory position in recent BOE hearings, then we must know who is taking 3rd party paid for trips or meetings. If the officials are not taking the trips, then the BOE must clarify what they are talking about.

No evidence related to this statement was released to the public or Council to complete the Council’s impeachment process. There is a gap in public knowledge. If city officials who are elected, appointed or staff are making illegal trips, we the public have a right to know. The impeached Neitzert in his only “report” to the council was an email sent while at the meeting proudly told of the group’s mission on certain issues. Funny thing is, he never let anyone know what he was going to attempt to do on the group’s behalf. Zokaities wants to know as we all do, what Neitzert and the rest of the “offending” city elected, appointed or staff have been doing.

Sioux Falls does not have any other method to find out this information. The Board and Council has been derelict in their duties up to this point to tell who and what they were accusing the get to this answer. Who and where are they traveling using the city credentials they have been secretly using.

The Board of Ethics and the Sioux Falls City Council have, through these recent actions, shown we might as well shut down the public’s right to know and also hold the officials responsible for their actions. Shame on them and shame on us for letting this happen.

Thank you to Janet Brekke and David Zokaities for helping the rest of us clarify the issues raised in the impeachment of Greg Neitzert. The public must show up, if even to just listen and watch. These meetings seem to always be at a time few people can attend. By showing up we let the Board know we care about the corruption possibilities this entire scheduling process and the resulting decisions create.