Entries Tagged 'Open Government' ↓

This is why Police Body Cams are Critical

I totally agree with Chief Thum, you cannot control human beings all the time;

Joseph Larson, 32, has been charged in a case stemming from an incident on July 24 when he used improper force while restraining a man who was under arrest, according to court documents. Police body camera and in-car camera footage shows Larson striking the man several times, including multiple times in the groin, while trying to secure a seat belt around him in the back of a patrol car.

This has been my argument for a long time, body cams are there to not only protect the officer but the citizen that is being arrested. Obviously in this case, he used excessive force. I guess my question though is was officer Larson relieved of duty immediately after the footage was sent to DCI or did he remain on the force until the AG decided to press charges? It is kind of unclear when he was booted?

“Upon learning about Officer Larson’s actions, he did not work another shift for the Sioux Falls Police Department and is again no longer a member of our department,” Thum said during police briefing.

This brings me to another long standing issue I have not only with the SFPD but with this administration as a whole. Besides the immense lack of transparency and the deep hatred towards open government, even when they are communicating to the public, they are very vague. When was he terminated? A date would be nice. Notice the incident happened July 24th and the arrest warrant did not occur until yesterday. What took so long? You also have to take into account that the city has another case pending that the SD Supreme Court threw back at the lower court. As far as we know, the officer(s) involved in that case still work for the city. Or do they? Nobody knows.

While I appreciate the action being taken against this bad apple, it would be nice to have some clarification about when the officer was terminated . . . oh . . . and if you have a suspect in custody yet for the shootout at the late night Taco Shop? Maybe we can ask the Tuthill ghost 😊

Is the lazy local Sioux Falls Media blowing off the City’s open meetings violations?

Of course they are. They don’t understand it (we will get to that in a moment) and they don’t want to ruffle feathers. It reminds of what Greg Belfrage said this morning on his show, about talking about politics at family events, he says he doesn’t. I believe him, because he doesn’t know a damn thing about politics and he is probably afraid he would embarrass himself, and he couldn’t hide from his liberal uncle by hanging up the phone on him while passing the gravy.

Many in the media have chosen to not talk about the open meetings violation because they have told the complainant that it is ‘too complicated’. A city official said that it is NOT a big deal and just an ‘ordinance violation’.

First it is NOT complicated and secondly, an open meetings violation is a big deal.

The city is required to have public input on items that are pulled from the consent agenda. Now mind you, if it is about spending $33 on a squirrel feeder at a park, probably NOT pressing, but still required, but this was about a liquor license for a bar with several questionable police calls and underage violations (the real story here), and the fact that the complainant had told many city officials she was going to speak about the item when pulled days in advance. I think the Chair of the meeting, Mayor Paul TenHaken did not call public input on purpose, because he didn’t want to hear what she had to say.

This is why this is IMPORTANT and should be shared in the media. You may not always agree with freedom of speech, but it is equal for all of us whether you want to talk about a gun stuck up your butt all day, a fertilized egg that has a heartbeat, that AR-15s are standard for EMTs, defunding the police or bars that are allowing teenagers to get pistol whipped when they illegally came into the adult establishment.

The simple, real story here is that the Mayor, Paul ‘Poops’ TenHaken violated the law by not allowing public input and a bar skirted any public rebuke because of a lazy, cowardly city staff and council and an oblivious media that doesn’t want to work to hard, if at all.

Is the infrastructure bill and January 6th investigations complicated? YES. And we have thousands of reports about them we can read every day. Is censoring public input complicated? F’CK NO! And we should have at least 2-3 local media reports about it. But we don’t.

Maybe if the meeting was held in a food truck?

Charter Revision Commission changes meeting time for NO good reason

From today’s meeting, the good news is that they will be discussing my proposals* at November’s meeting. The bad news is that they changed the meeting time from 4 PM to 3:30 PM, I’m guessing due to the whining and crying of the 1st Amendment Hater City Attorney, Stacy Kooistra. This from the minutes of September’s meeting;

City Attorney Kooistra reminded the Commission of the process for Public Input and the need for items to be listed on the Agenda for discussion or voting purposes. He stated there may be a need to reschedule future meetings to earlier in the day to allow for additional time.

No mention of how I cut him off during public input by saying they couldn’t ask me questions.

During open discussion at the end of today’s meeting they discussed the change (I love how they must have dress rehearsal before the meeting to make sure they can slip this stuff in and make it look legit). Commissioner Carl Zylstra mentions he went and tried to find a meeting longer then last month’s meeting of 1 hour 30 minutes and he could only find one longer in July of 2019 which lasted 1 hour 48 minutes. They quickly moved into a discussion about moving the meetings to 3:30 PM so that they could have more time to discuss items before 5 PM which city attorney Kooistra argued was the time staff needed to leave (there is NOTHING in the Charter requiring boards to adhere to staffers work schedules, if I am wrong, please notate in the comments section and I will update).

Only Commissioner Anne Hajek (partially) objected and said that the later time is to better serve the public (attending). But it fell on deaf ears as they all agreed to have November’s meeting at 3:30 PM so staff could leave at 5 PM.

As I have argued these public meetings are for the PUBLIC, NOT the city staff and I was extremely disappointed in the CRC for caving to the whims of the city attorney and his ignorant objections to long meetings.

This is also contributing to the constant destruction of open and transparent government by this administration and his hitmen. Maybe no one participates in city government because the meeting times are inconvenient. Yup. And they continue their madness with this change.

*Commissioner Carl Zylstra suggested my proposal for having city directors have residency within Sioux Falls could be easily inserted into the charter. So I still have hope that at least one of my proposals will make the ballot 🙂

UPDATE: So now the Sioux Falls City Council is just deleting (censoring) the meeting videos?

UPDATE: The meeting has been fixed. Last night it was missing about the last 30 minutes.

So I showed up late to the City Council meeting last night and did public input on some items towards the end and mysteriously, that part of the meeting is missing.

I’m going to be nice, or at least ‘TRY’ to be nice 🙂

I could go on rants about open government, the 1st Amendment, the violation of State Law, etc., oh I just did.

But how is that a city with a $700 million dollar yearly budget can’t rebroadcast their public meetings in their entirety?

When I look at the city council in action it reminds me of this image;

BUELLER? BUELLER? BUELLER? HAS ANYONE SEEN BUELLER?

The sad irony is the city could rebroadcast these meetings on YouTube, FOR FREE.

Sioux Falls City Council Chair Soehl is quite the Authoritarian

The newly elected chair, Curt Soehl, has quite the authoritarian streak. Yesterday while chairing several of the meetings he kept limiting public input to 15 minutes or about 3 people. They should not be scheduling these meetings back to back and should be spreading them out over a couple of days. But this does not give him an excuse to limit public input, it is a blatant violation of the 1st Amendment in reference to prior restraint.

While I thought maybe this was just a one-time decision someone told me he pulled the same trick today at the 10:30 AM, downtown library Working Session. Hey, I get it, they don’t like open government, that’s why they have meetings in the middle of the morning at the library instead of Carnegie, but now it seems they want to limit it also to the ones that can actually attend. I have never seen so much disdain towards the public’s opinion on matters. Yes, the council hasn’t been very open for a long time, but now there seems to be a lot of openness about NOT being open. They seem to wear it like a badge.

As for the meeting itself, it was a bunch of Covid money handouts to the Parks Department projects including more tennis courts, because you know, it is such a huge sport in Sioux Falls, LOL. I am often reminded of this when I drive by the parking lot at the Huether tennis center with 2-3 cars in the lot. Wondering if we will ever get our Half-Million back.

Speaking of open government and transparency, during the working session yesterday, I found it a bit bizarre that the council hasn’t asked the very people who wrote IM26 (Medical Marijuana) to be a part of the discussion. Wouldn’t you want the very people who wrote the successful measure to help advise you on what is in it? Or do we want to just do whatever we want to (basically sitting on our hands) then come up with regulations without their input then let them sue us? Seems counterproductive to me. Not sure the council or county commission has done their research (not likely) but the national movement to decriminalize marijuana has a lot of Benjamins behind it and they take their investments seriously.

This is what you get when you have a local government that works behind closed doors, is not transparent, limits public input and does the bidding of big business instead of the work of the people. All the hub-bub about TIFs, Mary Jane regulations, zoning, etc. doesn’t mean a hill of beans if you don’t operate government in the open. As I said last week, only crooks, scammers and schemers do business behind closed doors. Add authoritarians to that list.

Sioux Falls City Council meetings still don’t livestream properly

Unfortunately it is NO surprise to me that the city council meetings didn’t stream properly yesterday. They were both replaying fine today (INFOREGULAR) The SIRE system they use to post agendas and stream video has been marginally working for over a decade. In fact the past three city clerks have struggled with the system. You would think by now it would be scrapped. At the very least you would expect them to just automatically livestream the video on YouTube, and heck, on Facebook also. In fact, the Mayor is doing his state of the city address from the State Theatre(?) and it will only be streamed on Facebook, which is questionable since you must subscribe to FB to watch it. The ongoing Hatefest towards transparency is mind boggling.

With our Mayor and his administration consistently talking about the technological advances of the city you would think that with over a DECADE of problems with SIRE it would have gotten the boot a very long time ago. A Dotard could have figured that out, but somehow two mayors, three city clerks, multiple councilors, consultants and city IT personnel still seem to be baffled with a system we have thrown millions at when we could use a FREE service called YouTube.

VET HOME TO BE MOSTLY FUNDED PRIVATELY

Of course the Devil is in the details. During the informational meeting the city got a presentation on the new proposed facility. While Sioux Falls taxpayers are footing the bill for the land and pipe upgrades (hey Noem, that is called infrastructure), the organization will provide all the other funding privately. When asked where that money will come from, they really didn’t have an answer. Kind of reminds me of the Bunker Ramp and just taking the developer’s word on it. Here we go again. The city council never learns.

I also found it interesting that the agenda item for this presentation was posted on Friday with NO attached documents (Power Point) which seems the SOP for this administration. But when I checked back on Tuesday morning, the presentation was still absent (Until about 2 PM) But interestingly enough Pigeon605.com had a story up that morning about the vet village, then the Argus and Dakotanews soon followed. So how is a presentation that is put on the agenda on a Friday not have supporting documents until 2 hours before the meeting yet everyone in the media knows what the presentation is about? Taxpayers should always take priority. If my tax dollars are being used to pay a communications specialist, which I am ok with, the public should receive those communications before the media. I also wonder if Pigeon is getting PAID to post these stories? The city has a way of getting information out to the public without using private media except in press releases.

• Put the details/presentation in the Agenda online when posting the agenda on Friday (DUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!)
• Post on main city website
• Put on Citylink or do a YouTube video
• Post on Facebook and Twitter
• Send the media a press release and grant interviews (this should be done last)

I’m all for the media doing a story about this, and I learned a lot from the Pigeon story, but when tax dollars are being spent on projects, that information should be granted to the public before the Fourth Estate.

DO WE EVEN HAVE A FUNCTIONING SIOUX FALLS PLANNING COMMISSION?

During the Sioux Falls City Council Regular meeting, Councilor Starr asked a planning department staffer how the planning commission can even function when only 5 members are approving plans with a 9 member board. You could hear Mayor Stoneless grunt and sigh into his microphone. Of course excuses were given because we all know that planning decision are directed by the mayor and granted by the ‘approval’ process of the appointed, paid, planning staffers. The Commission meetings themselves are merely Bread & Circus.

Sioux Falls City Councilor ‘Pat Starr Show’ wins the day

I had to chuckle about how councilor Starr successfully fought the mayor tonight about extending public input about the mask mandate, then when Pat spoke later after public input the crowd that he fought for to speak heckled him. Wow.

I often have to remind my friends, my enemies, local elected officials, relatives and others that the 1st Amendment is number one for a reason, freedom of speech is the only thing you should be concerned about. Everything else is moot.

BTW, the mask mandate failed because it was a tie and Mayor TenHaken voted it down, because he lacks leadership. Shocker.

Also, councilor Selberg made fun of Starr for taking on the mayor calling it the ‘Pat Starr Show’.

While Selberg may have invented the ‘Siouxper Hero’ award, he certainly earned the ‘Siouxper jerk Councilor’ award tonight.

Is KELO News writing parodies now?

When I have written parodies in the past, I have been warned by friends to be careful how I label them so people know for sure that it is a parody. I didn’t find a disclaimer on their latest article;

For dealing with such unprecedented problems all at once, Mayor Paul TenHaken is KELO.com News’ “Person of the Year for 2020.”

Boy, nothing like a good laugh right away in the morning. I am curious who with the news team at KELO decided this was a good choice (names please) and who were Paul’s competitors? Not sure, but they tell us why he was named (by unnamed folks) beating out (unnamed) competitors;

Sioux Falls mayors had faced civil unrest before. Sioux Falls mayors had faced great economic uncertainty. And Sioux Falls mayors had faced a pandemic. But none of them faced all three difficult situations at the same time in the same year. Under his watch, Mayor TenHaken navigated the city through the politics of the coronavirus, which also caused a bump in the city’s usually robust economy. And he had to quell a property damaging riot that sprang from a peaceful rally in response to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

First, I will state the obvious, you know I would not agree, but secondly, It kind of sounds like issues he should be dealing with as part of a job HE wanted. Notice they never mention the several times he said he was ‘sick of it’ and ‘didn’t sign up this’. Strangely they left that out of their nomination.

But let’s break down what they said;

Economy. I may sound old fashioned but the mayor’s job, per the charter, is to be the City Manager. He basically runs the day to day operations of the city and manages the city employees. That’s all he does (or should I say his Chief of Staff). He has very little control over the overall private economy of the city. Mind you, he could have had a major impact, he could have found an early strategy to make sure places like the packing plant and nursing homes were operating safely. He did not, which brings us to the next item.

Covid. Sure, Paul has taken some measures over the past couple of months with pressure from business owners, citizens, medical professionals and the city council but it was too late. For the first 6-7 months this was raging in Sioux Falls he hid under his desk and took the Noem/Trump view of the virus, if we just ignore it, it will go away. While he has lead better then Noem, that leadership surely wasn’t trophy worthy.

Civil unrest. During the riot(?) at the mall (where some middle schoolers were throwing rocks) Paul was in a bunker somewhere in a city building watching it play out on a large screen TV. While I am glad that this incident did not result in massive property damage and injuries or death, I’m not sure having the National Guard on your speed dial makes you a champion of quelling civil unrest. I was in the march earlier in the day, and later watched livestreamed on FB. It was peaceful, all over town. The lights went down and some latch key kids got bored and made a rather peaceful protest look bad. If anyone should be commended it should be the people who stood in front of the officers to protect them from rocks.

Has Paul done some good things? Sure, his administration has pushed for treating the city employees better (part of his job) and he has been a big public advocate for mentorship and health and wellbeing. But I’m sure the above mentioned stuff was a bit of a stretch.

The thing that concerns me the most about Paul and his supposed leadership is his blatant disregard for open and transparent government and his efforts in the dark rooms at city hall to totally dismantle what little is left. Is it some kind of a sick joke that the media would pick someone for this honor that HATES open government? I’m not laughing anymore.

Mayor TenHaken wants to make Sioux Falls inclusive? How about making it transparent?

One of the definitions of inclusive is; including a great deal, or encompassing everything concerned.

The best way to build an inclusive community is getting that community involved with local government and the best way to do that is by letting the sunshine in.

Prophet Stoneless seems to be living in some fantasy world if he thinks he can continue his hatefest towards open and transparent government while building an inclusive community. They are counter productive to each other. Either he doesn’t understand how inclusivity works, is in denial, or is just plain ignorant.

Preach about diversity and inclusiveness all you want, it just won’t work in a closed government arena.

Mayor TenHaken’s tie breaking votes last night put a light on his extreme hypocrisy

I’ve always known that Paul is a gigantic hypocrite, he consistently talks out of both sides of his mouth on issues. Last night was no different. He told us he would vote against a mask mandate because he feels people should have personal freedoms but in his second tie breaking vote of the night he took the public’s right to be heard before the regular city business by putting public input at the end. So much for our personal rights and freedoms? I guess he trusts we will wear masks, but he can’t trust us when we open our mouths.

Maybe a mask mandate during public input would be good 🙂

Councilor Brekke said it best, the mayor is moving public input to the end for the simple reason that he is tired of being embarrassed about not doing anything about not only Covid, but crime, homelessness, prostitution and zoning. He has to be one of the laziest Sioux Falls Mayors I have ever seen. Unless of course he is putting up ugly 5G towers and sending $250K through the CVB to his former(?) ad agency. You know, it would easier to control the spread if you weren’t busy filling your friends pockets with tax money to promote covid tourism here . . . just saying. One has to also wonder if Paul still has a stake in his former company? While on paper he could have sold his interest, you wonder if he is still receiving mortgage payments for that interest he sold . . . ? But that is a discussion for us conspiracy theorists, I guess 🙂

I could argue it is because Paul is not suited to be a leader, unlike the Biblical leader he was named for;

According to the New Testament book Acts of the Apostles (often simply called Acts), Paul participated in the persecution of the “embryonic Christian movement,”

You could almost argue he is more concerned about what the bible says instead of what the US Constitution has granted us, or that he knows very little about the city charter, non-partisan government or that he just isn’t that smart. All of the above I guess.

The irony is by sending public input to the end, he is setting himself up for some serious 1st Amendment litigation, he is also going to find out how much worse the statements at the end will be after the public has to sit there for a couple of hours listening to their misguided actions.

I guess one of my biggest arguments against moving public input has to do with the long negotiation that 7 of these councilors were a part of two years ago. This was the compromise, we keep it at the beginning, but you only get 3 minutes each and 30 minutes total. While I disagreed at the time, at least it stayed at the beginning. There have been a handful of us, including myself, that come quite often to chew butt, many come for other important community concerns. But it doesn’t matter. The 1st Amendment says nothing about which topics can be discussed. Roberts Rules asks for decorum, but says nothing about ripping the council and mayor a new one when they screw up, as long as we don’t break things, cuss a lot or climb over the I.L Weiderman memorial toddler fence. I can’t imagine what I.L is thinking right now from his heavenly stoop.

It seems just like our sore loser president (and yes, he did lose) Mayor Stoneless doesn’t like it when he is told he isn’t doing his job (first goal, show up and put in an 8 hour day) which I shed no tears for. You can tell he is consistently frustrated when citizens tell him where he needs to improve. He constantly grunts, snorts and sighs into his microphone when people testify. Please shut your hissy fit mic off during the meeting, it’s annoying and you sound like a big fat spoiled brat baby piglet. Oink, Oink. I have never met a piglet that wears Converse All Stars.

As for the media covering this, you get a big fat zero. There was two readings on this topic the lame stream media in Sioux Falls decided not to cover until after the vote at around 11:30 PM on a Tuesday night. Because, as I suggested, they wanted it moved. Why inform the public in advance?

Public input has been moved and our local city government will never be the same. It was a sad day yesterday in Sioux Falls for open government and it seems no one cares.