Entries Tagged 'Greg Neitzert' ↓

Sioux Falls City Council Candidate Forums

Monday May 18th, Downtown Rotary Forum • At-Large Candidates Stehly and Jensen • Online at NOON.

Thursday May 21st, Council Candidate Forum • All candidates • 5:30 PM

Tuesday May 26th, Argus Leader • At-Large Candidates Stehly and Jensen • 10:30 AM.

There was a SF Chamber Committee private forum this past week and I spoke with someone who was in attendance. They basically said, ‘Theresa crushed it!” They also said Jensen knew very little about city government. Shocker!

My endorsements haven’t really changed;

• Vote NO on both Charter Amendments

• Stehly for At-Large. Like her or not, she has the best interest of the citizens at heart. She is also a champion of transparency.

• Julian Beaudion for NW district. Neitzert has been a turncoat.

• Cynthia Mickelson for school board. I know this may shock some people, but I think she has tried to open the school district up to more transparency. I don’t always agree with her, but I think she really works hard and tries to do the right thing.

• Crystal Johnson for Minnehaha State’s Attorney.

I also encourage everyone to absentee vote either by mail (complicated and they are way behind on applications) or in person at the election center, directly east of the Minnehaha County Administration building. I voted a week ago, brought my own pen, and I was the only one there. As I was leaving I soaked my hands in hand sanitizer by the door.

Sioux Falls Council Candidate Forum, NW District

Neitzert’s political heros? TenHaken and Noem. Hilarious. He also said that he looked up to Paul’s leadership because he has the ability to admit when he is wrong. Gee, Greg, when are you going to apologize for your votes on the auditor, the admin building and bunker ramp? Oh, that’s right, you are a hypocrite. Nevermind.

What Good is an Ethics Board?

Our Sioux Falls Board of Ethics once again found a way on April 30, 2020 to NOT do their job and they decided to do it in a private, secret (questionably legal) Executive Session. Our City Attorney’s office has decided, any time there is a decision to be made by a board requiring a discussion with a city attorney; it will be done in private. On top of that, the decision was decided in the secret meeting and then makes it look legal, by voting on it unanimously after the secret session ends.

The Board of Ethics seems to have a problem. The Board of Ethics is not created to decide law. The members are to be stellar members of Sioux Falls community who are charged with helping find the right solution to sticky questions. The body was setup years ago to deal with ethical issues employees and elected officials are faced with.

In theory, the board has two functions:

  1. Be presented with questions written and presented by people who need help thinking through the process of what is ethical and right for the completion of their job.
  2. A jury of our citizen peers who will assist with the resolution of possible ethical lapses by city employees and elected officials. These lapses could include conflicts of interest or gifts. These lapses may not have sunk to legal questions but could be perceived issues of corruption needing to be investigated and then turned over to the City Council as a quasi-judicial hearing matter.

The complaint 20-A was filed March 4th, 2020 and had to be heard by the Board of Ethics within 60 days or by May 4th. This confidential complaint was held off as long as legally possible and then was dealt with (for the first time known) in a completely private manner in violation of South Dakota Open Meetings laws. Not only was it held in a completely secret manner, it also found a way to violate the Open Meeting laws by having the normal jurisdiction discussion and vote in secret without public or interested party testimony.

So why was this board meeting held? Councilor Greg Neitzert proudly took a trip to Texas in October of 2019. Why should we care? Well there is a story to go with it that should make every voter and citizen of Sioux Falls question not only what is fitness for office but our system of ethical review.

Neitzert wrote in an email sent from the meeting “I wanted to make sure to note and be clear, I was invited by them, as was Mayor TenHaken, to attend.”  He also stated “They booked all of it and paid all costs.  Nothing was booked or coordinated by the city, our Council office, no city funds, resources, or staff time was involved, and there is no travel forms or city reimbursement.  I worked directly with the organization that took care of everything and sent me the hotel and flight reservations.“

In other words, he received a junket trip for “free” and then claimed erroneously “They consider themselves a similar concept to the National League of Cities, and so far it has been, just on a smaller scale.” Neitzert seems to be confused here, the National League of Cities is a truly non-partisan membership organization versus the partisan Republican tax-exempt [501(c)(4)] shadow organization who invited Greg Neitzert and Paul TenHaken to Frisco, Texas to learn how to use their positions to make Sioux Falls city government a political party based entity.

The organization, called Community Leaders of America (527) and their Forum for Community Leaders (FCL) (501(c)(4)) uses their tax-exempt status to train future party leaders. Part of their mission statement clearly spells it out:

The Forum for Community Leaders (FCL) comes alongside Republican local leaders in their constant effort to….

The FCL is a political lobbyist organization privately funding gullible local officials with trips to places in order to win over their allegiances, decisions and votes. In other words only Republicans attend.

To add to the problems with the meeting, the attorney’s office did not have a complete agenda when they “missed” having Public Input on the official agenda. The Chair decided to deal with this infraction by announcing at meeting close there would be Public Input. The problem here? South Dakota law requires complete agendas 24 hours in advance of the meeting start. Do you remember the City Council agenda problem from a few years ago when the Clerk “forgot” to post the agenda as required by Ordinance and they called the special meeting with the regular agenda at the regular time? Here we go again.

How do we answer these questions:

  1. If this organization was non-partisan and the trip was funded by the city with other members attending, would there be less questioning?
  2. Where in the financial reporting documents does it show how the expenses paid for by someone else or a filed paper trail or report given to the Council documenting what was accomplished?
  3. Was the Board of Ethics and the city attorney’s office dragging this out for months to prevent the discussion from being made public during the April campaign?
  4. Why does the city attorney insist on having secret meetings when a similar confidential complaint was handled more correctly a couple of years ago? (In that similar case, the BOE decided it had jurisdiction)
  5. Why does the citizen have to be an expert in law, knowing intimate details of ethics, Charter and ordinance in order to have an ethics question considered?
  6. Why does the Ethics Board always (and we do mean always) throw these cases out on technicalities and not offer a motion to fix the technical issue when they clearly have that option as stated in their rules and procedures?

Watch the video and decide if we really need to waste our time with the Board of Ethics in its current form.

Thom Hartmann; How billionaires’ short-term greed could upend America and destroy their own wealth

This is an amazing article written during this crisis about the disgusting greed and economic inequality in our country;

The right-wing billionaire definition of “freedom” includes the right to poverty, the right to die without health care, the right to be uneducated and illiterate, and the right to be hungry and homeless. Red states seem to like this, since they repeatedly vote for it; we should let them have it.

In the article Hartman talks about economic recovery from this pandemic will come much faster in blue states than in red (federal welfare) states. This is why our governor, mayor and city council are hesitant to keep people from working, because we are a state where approximately 70% of the work force lives paycheck to paycheck.

Just read this FB rant from Sioux Falls City Councilor Greg Neitzert;

The place where I go to get my hair cut has laid off all of its employees, and they had multiple locations in Sioux Falls.  They may not reopen.  We are talking about dozens of employees, no longer with a job.  They made something like $12-$15 an hour.  They are working class citizens.  Right now moonlighting or starting their own gig is near impossible because the message is to keep social distance, so the client base has dried up.  Behind these statistics are individuals, and families, and children.  All who now have an uncertain future, many of which probably never dreamed to be in this position.  Maybe they qualify for unemployment, maybe they don’t.  Regardless, they are now living with the uncertainty and stress, not knowing when this will end and what their future will be.  I know some of them are single, or divorced, with a child or children.  There is a massive human toll to this, and consequences to their health, both mental and physical, that cannot be understated.  Multiply that thousands of times just in the city of Sioux Falls.  Their careers may have been put on pause (by force), but their needs, for housing, for food, to pay their utilities, to pay car loans, student loans, the needs just to survive, have not.  Imagine the toll on someone who has lost their job, and has no idea when they will get one again, with commitments and needs.  It has to be frightening to say the least.  Maybe some are lucky enough that they have another income in the family and they are still secure.  Maybe some are lucky enough that their jobs can be done at home and they are still secure.  But for thousands in Sioux Falls, that just isn’t the case.  And they are by and large some of our most vulnerable, some who are on edge, without a large emergency fund, who may be living paycheck to paycheck.  They are who are getting demolished.  It is these citizens I also think about, who call me stressed out, sometimes in tears, pleading for help and some assurance of when this will end.  It is on their behalf that I will not simply dismiss the consequences of our virtual shutdown as “just the economy”.  Lives are being destroyed and lost, no matter what we do.  There will be loss of life indirectly from draconian measures, if they continue for an extended period.  Many may be necessary to combat the virus, but we cannot dismiss the collateral damage.  Our policy decisions must balance the health, safety, and well being of all citizens, from the threat of this virus, the loss of livelihood, and the loss of liberty if a government goes too far.  All are important.  Remember again, we cannot stop this virus.  We cannot stop people from getting infected.  Tragically we cannot prevent people from dying.  From the beginning, at all levels of government that sad reality has been something we have had to accept.  The goal and the one thing we can control to some extent is preventing our hospitals from being overloaded when we hit the peak surge of infections.  The goal from the beginning from the federal level all the way down to the city level is to keep that surge from overloading our bed, staff, and ventilator capacity.  We cannot prevent all fatalities, but we can prevent unnecessary ones from lack of resources if we mitigate the spread enough to keep the surge manageable.  That’s been the goal.  We are accomplishing that because citizens have stepped up and made sacrifices to help each other.  In most cases we’ve simply had to ask, without a law or penalty attached.  Without a vaccine, simply locking everyone in their homes for weeks or months on end will not stop the spread, or prevent fatalities, it will only delay the inevitable spread, at the immeasurable cost of destroying our economy and the lives of the people who make it up.  That’s why our response has to be dynamic, proportional, and measured.  Finally, remember there are countless variables in modeling and projecting this.  Our epidemiologists at Sanford and Avera concede this, there are a number of variables you have to plug in, and its based on educated guesses and averages.  None of us knows what the right decision is with certainty.  We are all doing our absolute best, with the weight of the fact that lives could be in our hands with every decision we make.  Perhaps some years down the road looking back, with the benefit of hindsight, we might know if at each point we got it right or wrong.  Unfortunately that knowledge and certainty in real time is beyond our pay grade as humans with imperfect knowledge and an inability to see into the future.  We’re doing our best, and we feel the weight of our decisions daily.  I certainly do.

If we actually paid people living wages in our city, a few weeks off, even a month, would be just a hiccup in the road. So I ask Greg, and all of our local leadership(?) what have you done during your elected term to bring better wages and affordable housing to our city. I’ll give you the short answer; NOT A DAMN THING! He should of titled his post ‘Crocodile Tears’.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Neitzert’s misguided statement

Councilor Neitzert made this statement on FB yesterday, let’s break it down;

Regarding the Coronavirus response, we continue to receive updates daily. Decision making is fluid and dynamic, as the situation evolves daily if not hourly.

Yet for some reason, the citizens are not being shared this same information. They are being left in the dark, as we saw by the surprise outbreak announcement at Smithfield today. When public officials are sharing important information, they must filter it quickly to what is easy to understand and disseminate it immediately. This is NOT happening.

The timing of when we take action is just as important as the actions themselves. I cannot stress this point enough. It is key. 

Action should have been taken weeks ago! But like the weak coffee in the breakrooms of low paying employers across this city, our leader’s weakness to make life saving decisions is evident.

Our partners in the medical field and experts have made it clear that each action must be timed strategically in relation to the curve of the number of confirmed cases and hospitalizations we are seeing here locally. Not statewide. Not what is happening in New York. What is happening here in our metro area.

Really? When is our local healthcare providers funded by fee-harvesting credit card companies gonna share this strategic plan?

We consult daily with our partners at both hospitals and with our state department of health, who are part of our emergency operations center. If we act too early, **we will only delay the peak of our curve and unnecessarily extend restrictions and the tremendous negative impacts on our community**. Our response is measured and based on facts and data, modeling and current conditions in real time, rather than on emotion and fear.

So the sooner more people get sick, the faster this goes away?

It is imperative that we do the right things at the right time, to maximize effectiveness, to save the most lives, and to minimize the negative economic and by extension health impacts on our citizens from the consequences of our actions.

The economic impacts are happening, and will be long lasting. That is a forgone conclusion. Right know we must focus on health and not the size of people’s wallets.

Current restrictions that affect commerce and the economy affect tens of thousands of citizens negatively as well, from the loss of income, loss of food and/or housing security, homelessness, and various mental and physical health consequences. It is not a binary choice of “health” vs the “economy”. We are already seeing those negative effects locally, from those struggling to stay housed, to buy food, and to survive. Our homeless population and those on the edge of homelessness have limited options right now. People are being affected physically and mentally from the anxiety, stress, and depression this is causing. It should not be minimized, and it is important to consider it in our actions.

So when is this city government going to address this outside a FB post? Seriously? My brother has been unemployed for several weeks, and I said to him recently, ‘The working man is going to get ‘f’ked’ again, just like in 2008, and he said, ‘Pretty much.’ When are we going to make decisions based on the wellbeing of these people instead of the bottom line of few rich people in our village we call Sioux Falls?

We cannot minimize the side effects and consequences of our actions, which is another reason why it is so important to do the right things at the right time.

The ‘right time’ was weeks ago. We are past the point of no return. At this point we might as well stick our head in a wood chipper to hear the voice of reason.

Perhaps the number one goal is to make sure that we have enough beds and equipment at the peak to care for all of the patients that will need it, both those affected by Coronavirus and those who have other medical needs at the same time. That one goal if we can accomplish it will save the most lives. Our strategy, decision making and timing, made in close conjunction with the hospitals, revolves around that goal.

So when is the public going to hear this ‘master plan’? So far we have heard nothing except a holding pattern of a jet that is running on fumes.

Finally, we have to navigate our legal limitations, both the limitations on what we can do as a city where the state has preemption, but also recognizing that even emergency powers are not unlimited and that civil rights still exist during a crisis. We do have limits on what we can do, but we are finding ways to do what needs to be done. It is a delicate balancing act to take all of these sometimes competing goals into account.

In times of crisis, our country, our state and city government home rule charter have unique powers to react to these kinds or emergency situations. but you and many others in city government have chosen to stick your heads in the sand while Rome is burning to the ground.

I’m proud of our city, confident in our administration and emergency operations center, and proud of our citizens that are making the necessary sacrifices for the good of one another. We will get through this!

I’m not usually a praying man, but at this point, it seems prayer is our only hope, because our elected leaders are leading us to Hell and back.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Neitzert doesn’t deserve re-election

This isn’t an endorsement of his opponent Julian Beaudion (though it kind of is). While I don’t know much about Julian, I do know one thing, as a SD Highway Patrol officer, he must conduct himself with the highest degree of integrity, especially while serving the public, it is essential in performing his job. While Julian has no governing experience, he certainly has public service experience and I think he would make a great asset to the city council.

This is more about the complete failure of Councilor Greg Neitzert. I won’t lie to you, I helped Greg run for office 4 years ago, I helped him with a strategy, I helped write a lot of his campaign materials and did most of his graphic design. He was a good student who listened and did what was asked of him, and he won. In less than a year into his term I noticed that he was more interested in rubbing elbows with the mucky mucks of Sioux Falls than getting in the ditches with the common folks. He started to hint to me that many of the things I believed about city government were really not true and it was just a bunch of conspiracy theories. Yeah, because you know, I was wrong about the EC siding and bunker ramp. I knew where this was headed. Soon after, Greg and I stopped communicating all together. He sold his soul to the special interests of Sioux Falls, and as someone commented the other day, “Greg first finds out from his masters how he should vote, than researches how he can best sell that vote to the public.” Bingo! But the citizens are not buying it. Greg has become a complete sellout rubber stamping puppet tool who will kiss the ring of anyone who wants a favor. He has lied during meetings, lied to constituents and stabbed many of his colleagues and the people who helped him get elected in the back – numerous times. There are many other things Greg has done behind the scenes that I can’t even mention here. He certainly doesn’t deserve 4 more years, but it seems as the incumbent in a small district, he will probably be re-elected. If that happens, and fellow incumbent Stehly gets re-elected also, it is going to be a rough ride for him.

So will Mayor TenHaken and Councilor Erickson publicly endorse Jensen now?

(screenshot of Erickson’s FB page. Look, Alex has a name tag already!

So now that the ethics debacle has taken place, will this now give Paul and Christine the green light to publicly endorse (not just give money) Neitzert and Jensen, essentially saying that Julian and Stehly are not fit for office? And if so will Brekke and Starr follow suit and publicly endorse Stehly?

Neitzert said this on FB about the decision;

Yesterday the board of ethics ruled it was not only legal but ethical for Councilors to donate, endorse, and host fundraisers for other Council candidates. Same goes for the Mayor. And thus common sense and free speech won. And those using the board of ethics as a weapon during the campaign season to try to malign good people and attack their political opponents failed miserably.

I know, it reads like a line from a Shakespearean tragedy.

The issue with this kind of endorsement is the reason Brekke asked the question. Why? They are not really endorsing anyone, they are just saying that Theresa and Julian are not fit for office, so she needs to be replaced and Julian shouldn’t be able to serve.

It’s a different situation with Julian because he isn’t the incumbent, but with Stehly, she has a record. All we have from Jensen is a short rubberstamp legislative career chocked full of discrimination and higher tax votes. They are certainly not going to endorse Jensen based on his record, all they are saying is we need a rubber stamping seat warmer to replace Stehly.

This has been my biggest frustration with the race so far. We know Stehly and Neitzert’s record, we also know that Julian has had several public events saying what he stands for, he even helped with Jolene’s campaign. But with Jensen we have heard virtually nothing. NOTHING.

How can you say he would be better than Stehly when we don’t even know what that ‘better’ means? It is pretty clear to me that an endorsement of Jensen isn’t an endorsement at all, it’s just a dig on Stehly, and it’s extremely unethical, and any logical adult can see right thru the charade.

Sioux Falls Municipal Election Roundup

Here is what we know as of 5 PM.

• Cynthia Mickelson seems to have a challenger, Sarah Stokke is a nursing instructor at the University of South Dakota. I am not familiar with Sarah, but I have heard her name before in certain circles. This will make two races for the citywide ballot, but the interesting twist is that NOT everyone voting for this race can vote in the city election because the boundaries are different. In other words there will be people who can ONLY vote for school board or ONLY vote for At-Large council. I know, complicated.

• Marshall Selberg (SW District) and Pat Starr (NE District) do not have challengers, so they will get 4 more years.

• Greg Neitzert has a challenger, Julian Beaudion (NW District). This is a district seat only and not city wide.

• Theresa Stehly and Alex Jensen will challenge each other for the At-Large position. Since there are only two, their will be no run-off election (The ‘Stehly Rule’ won’t be used again). This will be the ONLY city-wide position on the ballot besides the Charter Amendments (and those living in the SFSD who can vote for school board).

I suspect a very low voter turnout of about 5%. The interesting part is this will be one of the most expensive elections in city history for only having two horse race. All precincts will be used, and the money Jensen plans on spending will probably be a record for a council race (the rumors going around are $200-250K). I’m not even sure how you can spend all that?

But this will be fun to watch, because all the attention will be on the At-Large race. This will give Stehly the advantage, besides her incumbency.

Let the Games Begin!

Patrick Lalley Podcast

Pat’s guest was Sioux Falls City Councilor, Christine Erickson. Pat drilled Christine about her and Neitzert getting their panties in a bunch over Knobe’s ethics comments. What I find funny is if you don’t think you did anything wrong ‘ethically’ why do you care what Knobe says? I think your reaction speaks volumes about your guilty conscious.

Will Mickelson have a challenger for Sioux Falls School Board?

Sioux Falls School Board President Cynthia Mickelson currently does NOT have a challenger for the seat. As I have mentioned before, there is only one official race for the April 14th School Board/City Council election, the race in the Northwest District between Neitzert and Beaudion.

There are 3 other council seats up for re-election.

While I do suspect Alex Jensen will have a challenger for the At-Large position, I’m not sure the other 3 races will see any challengers.

Mickelson steamrolled her way into the seat spending an unprecedented $16K for the seat, even placing signs in the Tea School District. I find it ironic that Cynthia serves on the SFSD board while her husband is busy wreaking questionable havoc on the environment with his CAFO business, while costing taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal fees for pushing unconstitutional laws against petition gatherers. Of, course, many would say, that has nothing to do with Cynthia, but if you look at her donor list from when she ran the first time, I think it is very relevant.

There continues to be a Monarchy in Sioux Falls and South Dakota, and I think Cynthia’s title as Board President should be changed to Dutchess of Schools.