Entries Tagged 'Mayor TenHaken' ↓

UPDATE: Rick Knobe calls out the ethics of Sioux Falls City Councilor Erickson and Mayor TenHaken

UPDATE: So it gets even better, Erickson actually went out and got nominating petition signatures for Neitzert, who is the sitting city councilor incumbent running against a Democrat. Ethics be damned!

Rick actually did two articles. ONE & TWO. He makes a great point;

City Council member Christine Vinatieri Erickson used her title on an invite raising money to a candidate opposing a sitting City Council member. Did she break the law? Probably not. But using her official title on an invitation to the event to me crossed an ethical line. Sure she can give money to any candidate, and she can use her first amendment right to speak in favor of or against any candidate, but sponsoring a political fundraiser to unseat a fellow council member to me is over the top. It crosses that ethical line.

Like I said a few days ago, completely legal, but it looks a little ‘sketchy’. I had a discussion the other day with a foot soldier about this topic, and he said something that made sense. “It’s because these people (Erickson & TenHaken) are partisans.” It started to make sense. In legislative races, this kind of activity goes on all the time, because they are partisan races. But in a non-partisan government like the Sioux Falls City Council, playing partisan games just doesn’t fly. It is even more curious, because the Mayor and at least 6 city councilors are Republican. Ethics aside, it just looks ‘odd’. Why bring these kind of games into a non-partisan race? At a recent council meeting, TenHaken compared himself to John Thune (I know, eyeroll). What is obvious to me is that he doesn’t understand the role of a non-partisan city government when he makes ridiculous and ignorant statements like this. If Stehly or anybody else decides to run against Jensen, it’s only going to get more partisan. I have a feeling this will become one of the messiest municipal election campaign seasons we have seen in a long time. Pull up your boots.

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.

Small city mayors are hard workers, when they show up

I would have to agree with Mayor Selfie on several aspects of what he commented about Joe Biden’s TV ad about Mayor Pete;

This tone deaf ad reeks of elitism and mocks the expansive work we as mayors do to keep our cities running.  

America’s biggest problems AND solutions live in our cities. To my fellow mayors out at 5Ks, ribbon cuttings, grocery store sidebars, and more today — keep grinding.

First of all, this is simply out of Donny T’s playbook, attacking Democrats (who are attacking Democrats) and attacking Joe Biden. But I kind of find it ironic, and more proof it is amateur hour over at city hall when PTH thinks his duties as mayor are to run road races and drink coffee at the HyVee deli. Yes, that is part of the job, but showing up once in awhile to do the job set out in the charter, managing the day to day operations of the city and it’s directors and employees, is the most important part. PTH has instead just signed an executive order to have a couple of overpaid lackeys do the job for him, and they are not very good at it (but get $10,000.00 a year raises). There have been many people asking me ‘Where is Paul?’ I cannot answer that question.

So while he wants to defend the ‘hardworking’ mayors of the country, maybe he needs to follow a few of them around sometime and find out what ‘real’ work is, you know, the kind that leaves a sweat stain in the rim of your trucker hat.

Also, in the video below, PTH addresses HIS supplemental appropriation ideas, towards the end of the video he stretches the truth a bit and says he worked with city council. As I understand it from talking to 4 of them, he only worked with two councilors behind closed doors and the rest were left in the dark. Selberg and Neitzert were mentioned as the two. It is the council’s job to appropriate surpluses, that means they get to decide where that money goes, NOT the mayor. He keeps confusing himself with a King.

First Meeting of the Sioux Falls Arts Task Force

I attended the first meeting today of the task force that was appointed by Mayor TenHaken. For full disclosure, I did’t stay for the whole meeting (I left before the presentations of different arts orgs). It likely was NOT recorded and held at the City Center.

I was there for the initial discussion though. The chair and co-chair (Janet Brown & Tom Dempster) did do a fabulous job of presenting the task of the task force, though I don’t entirely agree, you can tell they have a lot of experience with these kind of things. Janet used to run the SD Arts Council and Tom was instrumental in bringing Levitt to Sioux Falls. They have both earned their chops, and I do respect both of them.

There seemed to be this push for the city to hire a full-time arts facilitator (paid) and and an arts commission (likely volunteer). The city currently has a Visual Arts Commission Board (since 2000) but they deal mainly with visual arts projects with the city. This facilitator and commission would deal with ALL the arts and it’s impact on the city.

While I am certainly NOT opposed to some of the things suggested, it just seemed to me as a top down approach by the movers and shakers of the city. I do however agree with one premise, arts brings in economic impact and tourism revenue to the city and it’s businesses. In a national study done in 2015, it showed that the city (region) brought in $84 Million in economic impact from the arts. This is a very good thing. What always seems to be left out is the ‘artists’. It seems like sometimes that is the ‘after thought’. I’m a bottom up kind of guy and have never been sold on ‘trickle down’ philosophies, especially when it comes to art. A bunch of mucky-mucks telling artists what to do goes against the whole mentality of what it means to be an artist.

I co-founded MAC (Midwest Artist Collective) several years ago which has also disbanded, and it was quite an experience. It was a club that was entirely made up of artists, and we had some interesting meetings and engagements, we also had several collaborative exhibits. I joked once that it was like herding cats, and I learned a lot about what it means to be an artist, and engagement with other artists.

I have often said that this could all be simplified by just funding local artists to create, perform and execute local art projects, they will create if they are being compensated, and ‘dictating’ to them what to do only harms the creative process. Once ‘free funding’ occurs, you will see a striving art community, and when you have that, you will see economic impact – big time.

Artists are not like line workers at a packing plant, they don’t like to follow instructions or rules. Give them a broad scope to work with, and let them create the artistic community. Everything else will fall in place.

I’m afraid the only thing that will come of this is another recommendation to put together more commissions and facilitators while ignoring the gorilla in the room – funding the arts – which means funding local artists, artisans, contractors, designers, performers, musicians, etc. The mucky mucks should concentrate on raising the money, and the artists will concentrate on creating the art, and tourism will follow. It really is that simple.


Mayor Selfie noticed me as he came in late, and the co-chair, Tom Dempster asked everyone to stand for him (trust me, I wasn’t the only one hesitant, and it seemed kind of bizarre – I almost screamed out ‘God Save the Queen’!) As everyone was standing (including myself) the mayor decided to call me out, and said ‘That means you to Scott.’ I think I was hiding my one finger salute in my pocket 🙂

Also, on the agenda, there was NO public input listed (they may have done it after I left, but it was NOT on the agenda) I told a city official before I left that it needs to be on the agenda for the next meeting. It is state law now that all public meetings of public boards and commissions have public input at some point in the meeting, and it has been pointed out to me by several people that this administration has been skirting this law at board meetings at the city center, and have been warned about it.

Below is a chart of the money we have spent on public art facilities form the entertainment tax fund (3rd penny). This of course does NOT include the bond payments which comes out of our road funds (2nd penny) which WAS clarified in the meeting.

Overall I am hopeful things will become more organized, but I think at the end it will be more of the same, crumbs to the artists and T-Bones for the facilitators. I read a FB post the other day from a local artist that summed it up nicely, ‘To create art means to be crazy alone forever’. How true it is. How true it is. Artists are not followers, they are doers. Let them ‘DO’ good things, and you will be pleasantly surprised.

Mayor TenHaken Shows How Little He Understands Governance

Guest Post and Video by Bruce Danielson

Triple Check the Charter has just found a new voice for the separation of power clauses of the Sioux Falls Home Rule Charter. Mayor Paul TenHaken shutdown David Z’s Public Input comments with statements he made violating not only the 1st Amendment but the very essence of our Home Rule Charter, the Separation of Powers. The Mayor of Sioux Falls has very limited powers of moderating the activity of City council meetings.

The mayor has no power over the policies of the chamber, 


Got that? An executive order is a policy order signed by the mayor to only allow or direct city employees do something. In many instances it might be a CYA or get out of jail free card issued by the mayor to cover a potential wrong doing. An executive order cannot control the independent policy making body of the town, the City Council. Simply said, The mayor was wrong in his abusive statements during the Monday meeting.

The PTH administration has no understanding of the role required by a mayor in governing. He thinks he can update a longstanding Executive Order limiting the use of Sioux Falls governmental resources under his control and take over the City Council? 

The issue being discussed was whether an officeholder in the city of Sioux Falls guberment can setup a secret stash of money by squeezing money out of someone wanting a favor from the politician. The mayor has a secret stash of leftover campaign money in operation as a PAC (political action committee). Its secret because he announced recently his donations of money to two of his favorite candidates for the City Council. His golden boys, Selberg and Neitzert, gladly accepted the gold and were anointed his chosen ones. Kind of Biblical isn’t it? Reminds me of the Golden Calf. What was the Golden Calf? The sin of the golden calf is widely regarded as one of the most disgraceful moments in Jewish history and we don’t even have to go to Egypt.

Is this is our Golden Calf moment?

UPDATE: Mayor TenHaken claims he has an executive order that violates the 1st Amendment AND the city charter

In a very strange exchange tonight at the city council meeting, Mayor Selfie made an astonishing admission. During the public input for the proposed campaign finance ordinance, David Zokaites mentions at the end of his testimony that Paul said last week from the dais that he was running for re-election, so David said ‘He’s got competition – me!’.

Paul got irritated and told David, ‘I would remind you David Z based on that you are not to use the dais per executive order to promote your candidacy, so this will be the last time you will be able to mention that, from the podium.’

David quickly snipes back, ‘That goes for both of us.’ and PTH says, ‘I don’t speak from THAT podium. That’s just a reminder of that executive order and thank you for adhering to those rules of this chamber.’

Wow! What arrogance! First off, people have been making those kind of pronouncements from that podium for years. Why? Because they can. I actually think it is hilarious that Paul thinks he can write an executive order (and not tell anyone about it until tonight) that is unconstitutional. No mayor in any city in this country can override the 1st Amendment and the US Constitution. It only proves how thick and petty Paul is. The rules for announcements applies to city officials from the dais because they are using their government position (and ultimately our money) to promote themselves. Any candidate that is currently not serving on the city council can say anything about their candidacy from the public input podium. Also, the city council controls their chamber, NOT the mayor. He cannot write an executive order about how the council runs their meetings, that is a violation of the charter, even though I’m more worried about the constitutional violation.

Never thought I would see a mayor in Sioux Falls admit to violating the US Constitution and City Charter at a public meeting. Ellis is right, it’s amateur hour at city hall.

Mayor TenHaken, once again, is violating charter by proposing surplus expenditures

This is clearly the job of the city council NOT the mayor’s office;

Paying cash instead of borrowing for Sioux Falls’ next fire station, replacing the ski lift at Great Bear and repairing more roads are priorities for the mayor’s office as it looks to spend some leftover dollars from last year’s budget.

Mayor Paul TenHaken told the Argus Leader on Monday that he’ll ask the City Council to expedite several infrastructure projects using nearly $6.2 million in capital surplus funds while setting aside another $1.7 million in City Hall’s rainy-day fund.

Sure, his department heads should put together a list of needs, but that list should have been handed off to the council to make the decision in a work session. The rumor going around is that 3 of the RS5 met quietly with the mayor to concoct this proposal, and the others were blindsided by this.

When is this city (current mayor and council and past administrations) going to realize the separation of powers? It’s the mayor’s job to manage the city and abide by the rules and expenditures set forth by the council with guidance from department heads. If the mayor is going to do both jobs – why even have a council? Why not just declare him King so we can all do other things on Tuesday nights?

Mayor TenHaken tells peeps to stop contacting him and councilors about potholes

Does this guy even understand how a representative government works? Well first you would have to show up to the office a few days a week.

While I agree with him using an app, or the city website to report potholes is a good idea, it doesn’t always work, especially with government. Sometimes the good old fashion way of calling or emailing an elected official gets results. Besides, isn’t that their job? Representing us and getting results? I can see PTH’s 2022 campaign, ‘Re-Elect TenHaken, there’s an app for that!”

Former Sioux Falls Mayor Knobe writes another FB post on money in local politics

Rick gets into the thick of it again;

A word on Sioux Falls City Election Campaign funds.

You learn a lot about a person by the way they handle other people’s money. Both tax dollars and those monies raised to run an election.

When a person runs for office obviously they need money to run a campaign so they can get their ideas out to the public.

When the campaign is over and the bills are paid, what should be done with leftover cash?

To me it’s simple.

It’s not your money.

Whether you win or lose, you don’t keep it. You don’t save it for your next election. You don’t give it to others running for office.

I agree, as I said a few days ago, the responsible thing to do to your contributors is spend every last penny up until the day of the election. Your campaign chest should really be empty or in debt on election day. That is called running a responsible and fiscally wise campaign which reflects on how you will run government when elected.

If you can figure out how to return it on a per donor or pro rata (an equal percentage goes back to each donor) that would make sense. Remember, It’s not your money. It belongs to your donors.

If that is too cumbersome, then donate it. Maybe the Community Foundation, the United Way, or the local government you love.

I think it would be difficult to give it back, but I do agree with the charitable idea.

Also I think it is dishonest to raise money to run for a city election and use the leftovers to run for another office later on. “I gave you money to run for mayor. I didn’t give you money to use it to run for Governor, Senator, Congress, or any other position.” I’m not targeting the current mayor. Just using that position as an example.

You kind of are, especially a politician who has money left over by skirting campaign finance rules and receiving donations from toddlers. Yes, toddlers.

I like level playing fields. People who have accumulated big war chests while holding office have both the name identification advantage AND the money advantage.

That makes it nearly impossible for smart motivated unknowns to make a dent.

If you run for office to be a true public servant that’s where your energy and time should go. Not to endless fund raising.

This is local government. It’s supposed to be non partisan and with few exceptions be part time.

Let’s not allow lucre (money) to interfere with good local government.

There have been several local races that have won spending a lot less than their opponents. Staggers (versus Knudson), Stehly, Brekke and Starr all spent less than their opponents and even though DeBoer lost to Soehl (by a handful of votes) he spent a lot less. It is possible to beat big money, you just have to find creative ways to get your message out there.

State Legislature looks to strengthen stalking laws in reference to politicians

Could have seen this coming a mile away;

Stalking penalties could be getting stiffer for newcomers to South Dakota who have similar convictions in other states.

This winter, state lawmakers will consider whether or not South Dakota courts should be able to enhance the severity of stalking charges if the person accused has previously been convicted of stalking in a different state. 

In other areas of South Dakota criminal law, like driving while intoxicated or assault charges, state law provides language that allows out-of-state convictions to be used to justify enhanced charges.

“Like in these other areas of the law, if people are breaking that same law multiple times, then it shows that you’ve got a career criminal on our hands and society needs to be protected from those individuals,” Rep. Jon Hansen (R-Dell Rapids) told the Argus Leader. “This bill provides harsher punishment so hopefully it’ll keep that person from doing that again.”

More: Felony stalking charge reduced against Sioux Falls man accused of harassing mayor

Hansen said the measure stems from a recent case involving Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken and his convicted stalker, Christopher Bruce, who was found guilty on misdemeanor stalking charges after a three-day trial in 2019.

While I disagreed with The Living Man’s use of hyperbole in his written threats against the mayor, the council and his family, I still think it was just a bunch of bark with little bite, and protected by his free speech rights. I don’t think that elected officials, especially elected officials, should get special laws written for them so they can restrict free speech if they ‘think’ they are being threatened. Notice that The Living Man was not arrested until after he took on 5G in a Federal suit. I felt the arrest had to do more with repercussions for that suit. The Living Man was not able to prove that in court. But he did have this great quote;

Bruce told the Argus Leader Monday that he isn’t surprised to see his case earning attention from the State Legislature because “every time someone beats the state,” the state changes the rules. 

“This is how they get these kind of laws into place,” he said. “It’s not about our safety anymore, it’s all about protecting government officials and public servants.”

In 2014 when rabble rousers in Illinois felt their free speech rights were being violated, they got the Sheriff to arrest the politicians;

In what was one of their most epic displays of political crime-fighting, which was captured on video, Allen and Kraft held the entire Clark County Park District Board under citizen’s arrest on May 13, 2014, for violating the Illinois Open Meetings Act, a Class C misdemeanor.

When asked if there would be public comment, one of the board members said, “I vote no.” Followed by five other board members.

Deputies were dispatched to the scene, but instead, Clark County Sheriff, Jerry Parsley, personally responded that night. Parsley said he knew it was a heated situation and felt it would be best if he handled it. He said that Kraft handled the citizen’s arrest responsibly, and the board was definitely in violation of the Open Meetings Act by not allowing the public to speak.

“It’s not that they should have. They’re mandated to,” Parsley said. “The people need to have their voice. It’s not a dictatorship. It’s a democracy.”

The sheriff arrested six of the board members. The seventh board member was not arrested because he voted against the other members. As they were escorted out of the building, the crowd cheered.

This is what should happen when politicians limit our free speech rights. They seem to assert their power of arrest when they feel they are being threatened, shouldn’t we as citizens have that same right when our rights are being violated?