Entries Tagged 'Janet Brekke' ↓

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.

Sioux Falls City Councilors Brekke, Starr & Stehly offer solutions in these troubling times

Dear City Council Colleagues and Citizens ,

This morning Councilor Janet Brekke and I had a very productive conference call with our City Attorney Stacy Kooistra and our Council Staff person Jim David.

We discussed two items that I wanted to share with you:

1. We discussed a proposed  ordinance that Councilor Brekke and I are preparing that will include safety  standards for protection of employees during this Covid 19 pandemic.   Councilor Brekke and I have spent hours working on this issue and now more than ever we feel it is a necessary part of our safety standards. We appreciate the advice and counsel of our City Attorney  Stacy Kooistra. We will keep you apprised of the outcome of those discussions.

2. We also discussed the  distribution issues related to  Rental Assistance fund.  This fund has $1 million tax dollars in it.  I have been receiving communication from recipients of the funds as to how the fund is being managed. After the conversation this morning with Councilor Brekke and City attorney Kooistra, I  did further follow up and had discussions with Planning director Jeff Eckhoff, 211 helpline director Janet Kitterams and Community outreach member Rich Merkouris. They have all agreed that the payment policy to the landlords could be revisited.  

In the midst of these conversations, I have suggested:

****Reduce the award to 50%.

**** Stipulate that the remaining  balance is forgiven by the landlord who is accepting the payment. NO FINES CAN BE IMPOSED UPON THE RENTER.

****Stipulate  that the tenant will not be evicted for a minimum of 90 days.

The discussions are ongoing and we will keep you informed as to the latest developments.

Have a blessed, peaceful Good Friday and Easter.

Theresa Stehly

Ethics Board confuses law with ethics

I’m hearing the ethics meeting today lasted 3 hours, and they ruled that there was nothing wrong with the mayor endorsing council candidates or giving them money.

VIDEO COMING

One board member dissented, I believe it was Greg LaFollette.

I guess board member Jack Marsh was being a real stinker.

The essential argument was 1st Amendment rights and the SCOTUS ruling of Citizens United. But the constitutionality of this has nothing to do with if something is ethical. One city councilor (I think Erickson) went as far to accuse Brekke of trying to make the mayor ‘look bad’ and unethical.

The board members felt that we have a very ‘ethical’ city government and were concerned someone would question their ethics.

LOL. Isn’t that why we have this board?

Of course none of this surprises me. The establishment special interest crowd is often saying if it is legal it is ethical.

Sioux Falls Ethics Board Meeting, Friday March 6th

A request for an open advisory opinion from the Board of Ethics was filed by Councilmember Janet Brekke. Councilmember Brekke is seeking guidance from the Ethics Board on appropriate local election related conduct. The request states: “The level of involvement of city elected officials in this current election cycle is unprecedented. I cannot assume these practices are ethical just because they are occurring now or have occurred in the past.  I am requesting a binding advisory opinion to guide my anticipated conduct in this and future elections.”

Brekke raises multiple issues regarding the propriety of local elected officials engaging in campaign financing and endorsement activities designed to influence the outcome of their own local elections. The ethical issues raised involve: 1) the use of public office for private gain for themselves or others, 2) the appearance of impropriety shall be avoided, and 3) refraining from engaging in political activities inappropriate to his or her office.

Councilmember Brekke specifically requested an open hearing so the testimony and deliberations will all be done in public.  Also, in an open hearing, opportunities for public input are part of the hearing process. This will be the first time issues such as these have been brought before the Ethics Board. The hearing is Friday, March 6, 2020 at 2:00 pm at City Hall in the old Council Chambers. Members of the public are welcome to attend and participate in the process by offering public input.

Belfrage’s Planned Cat Fight gets foiled

I was told a few days ago that Sioux Falls City Councilors Janet Brekke and Pat Starr were invited to come on Belfrage’s show next Tuesday. I guess yesterday, Belfrage asked for a change of plans, he wanted Erickson and Brekke to duke it out over ethics.

Brekke refused to participate in the matchup.

While some may say she is chickening out, I don’t see that way at all. First off, this process needs to go through the proper channels, the Ethics Commission, before having any public debates about it. Brekke asked a realistic ethics question, she is awaiting a hearing and an answer.

But secondly, I don’t think Janet is that naive. We know how Greg feels about Erickson and Mayor Selfie, he would have stacked the deck against Brekke, because let’s admit it, Greg likes Red Meat.

I have always had respect for Janet, but after hearing this revelation, it just got a lot greater. As for Greg, well you know how I feel about that putz.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Brekke is asking for an ‘Ethics’ opinion, NOT a ‘Constitutional’ opinion

As you can see in her advisory request (VIEW DOC), Brekke is simply asking is if it is within the council’s ethics cannon to publicly support, give money, throw fundraising parties for, etc. to candidates.

But Brekke said she wants the ethics board to square that with the canons of ethics in charter that say public officials “should avoid the appearance of impropriety in all his or her activities,” limit their “extra-governmental activities to minimize the risk of conflict with his or her official duties,” and “refrain from political activity inappropriate to his or her office.”

I’m glad she is asking because there seems to be a fine line. But let’s make this clear, I agree with Erickson;

Erickson also said participating in politics by supporting candidates is a First Amendment right that belongs to all Americans, including public officials.

It is well within a councilor’s constitutional rights to support other candidates, but just because something is legal or constitutional doesn’t mean it is ‘ethical’ and that that is what Brekke is asking here.

Personally, I could care less either way, I’m a big supporter of Freedom of Speech and I don’t think those rights go away once you are elected. If you don’t have a problem with looking like a big shot by throwing a fundraising party for a candidate, go for it. Visually, I don’t think it makes you look good, but hey, you have that right. Just like people have a right to come to public input and call the the previous mayor a SOB . . . twice. Doesn’t look great, but within your rights.

I just found it funny how another blog (who comments on Sioux Falls city politics a lot lately while being in a town 40 some miles away) doesn’t understand that Brekke is asking for an ‘ETHICS’ opinion from the ‘ETHICS’ Board. She isn’t asking whether or not it is legal. But of course, this is the same blogger who quit his cushy state job due to his ‘UNETHICAL’ behavior, while AG Jackboots cleared him of ‘Not Stealing’ from the state. Go Figure. Remember, there is a difference between, morality, ethics, and laws. Sometimes they don’t always align. Just look at who is running our country (into the cold, cold ground).

*Not worth the time, but I did get a chuckle out of Mayor Selfie’s comment on the matter;

“I’m choosing to stay focused on larger matters like crime, addiction, infrastructure, housing and economic development.”

Really? You better start focusing a little bit harder on that bro.

First Public Sioux Falls City Council Operations Committee meeting

The operations committee has never met in the 7 years they have existed in public until a couple of months away from a city election in which the chair, Neitzert is up for re-election. Shocker. Towards the end, Councilor Brekke schooled them on the legal repercussions of using cell phones during public meetings (FF: 52:30)