Entries Tagged 'Janet Brekke' ↓

There will never be ‘Regular People’ serving in Sioux Falls city government ever again

We saw the writing on the wall when Alex Jensen and his cabal of donors had to spend $127K to beat a self-employed piano teacher by around 90 votes. The regular guy/gal is no longer allowed to compete.

Just look at the usual donors on the financial reports (someone should tell Andera that she can’t add her smaller contributions up twice 🙂

It is the same group of rich Republican businessmen and mysterious dark PACs (so some of these rich people can hide their identities) that are once again funding the campaigns of the NON-regular people (except Islam who seems to have half the state of Michigan gunning for her and they all work at the same hospital 🙂

You have to chuckle when Clowncilor Marshall Selfish actually suggested that the reason the members needed a bigger salary is so more regular people could run. That’s rich considering he never mentioned that you actually need the money up front.

We could change this with a couple of easy steps;

• Get rid of the Home Rule Charter as it exists and give more power back to council and,

• Publicly finance the races so everyone is on the same playing field.

We of course first must throw out the current charter, and there is a stew brewing on that one along with some other goodies I will share very soon.

So it looks like we will have yet another city election where a handful of people vote for the very people who are lining their pockets with donations from the banksters, bondsters and developers that are turning our city into a corporate welfare state.

This is the current lineup for the election;

Mayoral Race; Paul TenHaken, David Zokaites, Taneeza Islam

Central District; Curt Soehl (No challengers)

Southeast District; David Barranco (No Challengers)

At Large (A); Janet Brekke, Bobbi Andera, Dr. Sarah Cole

At Large (B); Rich Merkouris, Pam Cole

Sioux Falls City Council folds like a wet paper bag

At the meeting tonight the council decided that after councilor Brekke shot holes in their pay raise proposal and offered an amendment to reduce the pay raise by $30K (Proposal was $195K reduced to $165K and it is currently $130K) they voted for her amendment.

They did it, because I would assume they got an earful from constituents over the past week about how ridiculous the original proposal was. Even people I talked to over the past week that have no clue about what happens at city hall scoffed at a 30% pay increase and the fact that the mayor accosted me in the lobby of Carnegie Hall about it. Someone asked me, “What’s his deal?” I responded, “You would have to ask his chiropractor, or his pastor, I think they are one in the same.”

They passed this amendment to save face in hopes that citizens will vote for the lesser increase and they might, it certainly is more palatable.

I still reject it because little to no research was done on the original proposal and the whole thing needs to be thrown out. It was pretty freaking obvious the original proposal reflected a $1 per resident, which is something a 3rd grader would have concocted, or former Councilor Rex Rolfing.*

I’m glad it was reduced, but it was only reduced so it has a better chance of passing. I have already talked to some people with a strategy on how we will inform the public to vote this down. The council needs to go back to the drawing board.

In other news I have heard a couple things through the grapevine;

• There may be a group working on initiative to throw out Home Rule Charter in Sioux Falls. I am absolutely NOT involved, but I would be willing to support them in anyway.

• There is also talk that two more mayoral candidates may emerge. I am told both are male and Republican. I may know one of them, but uncertain who the other candidate is. I know there is a lot of frustration with Paul’s cruise control government in the business sector.

*In the past during a working session in which the council was discussing swimming pool fees, Rolfing pulled a number literally from his his behind, in which Erpenbach chewed him out about how he came up with it. She basically told him the numbers have to be based on study and research not what happens between his ass cheeks (she really didn’t say that, but she was pretty PO’d).

MJ Advocate Reistroffer proves the incompetence of the City of Sioux Falls Attorney Stacy Kooistra

So Emmett dropped this bomb on the city council last night;

Emmett Reistroffer, a consultant for medical cannabis businesses, believes the current interpretation of the new application process by the city attorney’s office could lead to out-of-state interests exploiting a loophole that could have a business entity or individual submit multiple applications and then squeeze out local business people.

Reistroffer told the City Council during public comment that to ensure a level playing field, they should limit the applications to one per location.

Emmett told me last week he had been in a back and forth with the city attorney’s office about this for weeks with no avail. This is why he showed up during public input last night to inform the council about the issues.

When the MED MJ ordinances were being debated, Councilor Brekke also questioned the City Attorney if the lottery system was even legal. Remember, Janet was the first full-time city attorney, she doesn’t take this lightly.

I have known for a very long time that our city attorney who is trained in military law, knows next to nothing about city law and also struggles with 1st Amendment Constitutional law. Usually if he doesn’t know the answer, he doesn’t answer the question which is happening a lot these days.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Brekke calls out public input 1st Amendment concerns

To my surprise, but something I have been concerned about, at the beginning of the city council meeting tonight, Brekke put on the record her objection to a section of how public input is conducted.

Remember when the city council moved public input to the back of the meeting recently (a 4-5 vote with tie-breaker from person of the year Mayor TenHaken) they specifically said that members of the public could not talk about decisions that were made final by the council during the meeting.

This is a clear violation of citizens 1st Amendment rights, as Brekke pointed out in her objection it concerns prior restraint;


In First Amendment law, prior restraint is government action that prohibits speech or other expression before the speech happens.


Prior restraint typically happens in a few ways. It may be a statute or regulation that requires a speaker to acquire a permit or license before speaking. Prior restraint can also be a judicial injunction that prohibits certain speech. There is a third way–discussed below–in which the government outright prohibits a certain type of speech. Courts typically disfavor prior restraint and often find it to be unconstitutional.

Basically Brekke points out that since decisions were already made during the meeting, voted on and final, the public has a right to address them and the government (city council or mayor) cannot limit them.

Even though Brekke’s opinion is NOT alone (there are many Supreme Court rulings about this) City Attorney Kooistra vehemently opposed her and basically told her she was wrong. It surprised me, actually astonished me how little the city attorney knows about 1st Amendment rights. From the mayor’s performance during the objection, it is clear he has no clue what 1st Amendment rights are, that has been blatantly obvious for a long time, but for an attorney with a law degree that has practiced in the military and in the private sector I would think he would be aware where the Supreme Court stands on this issue.

If Mr. Kooistra really wants to try out his Constitutional chops on this one, I would love to watch him get pummeled by a free speech attorney when someone from the public challenges this when the chair tries to shut them down for this ludicrous and unconstitutional rule violation. He may just get his day in the spotlight. Well, Mr. Kooistra, you know what Andy Warhol once said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Good luck.

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.


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.


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.


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.