Entries Tagged 'Open Government' ↓

Minnehaha County Commission votes 4-1 to move Public Input to the end of the meetings

During regular public input at the beginning of the meeting several citizens spoke out about moving public input, including myself.

It was the last agenda item on the meeting and during that discussion they voted to move it to the end but did take Barth’s amendment to leave it at 5 minutes instead of 3. He was the dissenting vote.

I reminded the MCC that this was the public’s time and the word DISSENT is in the 1st Amendment.

Minnehaha County Commission denies public input on CO2 pipeline

Besides the fact that the commission gave the green light for the pipeline to move forward (4-1 vote, Barth dissented) they also told the attendees there would be NO public input because the chair said it ‘wasn’t a public hearing.’ Ok, what the Hell would you call a public meeting with a posted agenda item? A church potluck?

14) Consider a Temporary Zoning Ordinance on Gas and Liquid Transmission Pipelines

They did follow state law by allowing general public input at the beginning of the meeting, but you are NOT allowed to comment on agenda items. I would encourage attendees to file an open meetings violation against the commission for denying them their 1st Amendment Rights and the use of Prior Restraint by the Chair. Barth asked for public input and the chair said they have pretty much heard enough thru phone calls and emails. So are those emails and phone calls going to be posted online so people can see those conversations?

City of Sioux Falls Website got a little bit more transparent

Imagine my surprise today when I went to the meeting agenda page and in the bottom left hand corner when I clicked on the calendar instead of a PDF coming up, an actual interactive calendar appears with links to events.

I have known about this link for awhile but it was never linked to this page. I am not sure if it was ever linked to the website before. It was previously sent to me by a city employee.

Not sure who in the IT department or clerk’s office crawled out of the darkness and made this nice little change, but you deserve a coin, a children’s book or at the very least an atta-boy.

Sioux Falls City Council Candidate Merkouris will not protect your right to Public Input

The Sioux Falls Election is bringing out the best of the worst, including this endorsement of taking away citizen rights by City Council candidate and preacher Rich Merkouris was expressing in 2018. 36 Citizens who gave impassioned Public Input on June 12th, 2018 were wrong? They are according to Marshall Selberg and Rick Kiley. The Mayor and 4 Councilors are saying “Stay away from our meetings, quit interfering!” We’d like to say, “Good Bye!” The Mayor is being encouraged to shove our civil rights up our backsides by the TenHaken best friend, Rich Merkouris. The City Council candidate Merkouris who doesn’t want audits of the millions of dollars he has received from the city coffers? Yup.

Sioux Falls isn’t the only one struggling with Public Input issues

It seems the war on open government is being fought across the state;

Two seemingly harmless words added to a state open meetings law in 2019 have sparked a debate over the rights of citizens to publicly comment at official government meetings in South Dakota.
Those words, “regularly scheduled” were added in front of “official meetings,” launching a legal tug-of-war between public officials and advocates of community input. Some government bodies have used the language as a legal loophole in which they have denied the public the right to speak at some official meetings.


This is often the game played with these kinds of complaints. Recently a Sioux Falls citizen filed a complaint with the Minnehaha State’s Attorney about open meeting violations when Mayor TenHaken was chair of a city council meeting in which he didn’t call public input on two pulled consent agenda items. It was pretty obvious that he didn’t call the public input on purpose because it concerned a bar that was in the middle of a pending sale and if their liquor license renewal would have been denied it would have affected that sale. I cannot connect those dots yet, but once we find out the new owners, it will look a little more clear. So what happened in that case? While MSA Dan Haggar admitted that city ordinance was probably violated, he said he has no authority to do anything so he sent it to the AG’s office. The AG’s office said this was a city matter and that the complainant had to take it up with the Sioux Falls Ethics Board (you know the place where complaints go to die). She also could have hired an attorney and took it to court. I have encouraged they at least file an ethics complaint to get it on record before they throw it out (this is probably one of the most cowardly boards we have in city government). Like the two examples in the SD News Watch story, you can see the run around you get when you challenge public input and how to remedy it. There is no remedy.

I have told the city council on many occasions that NO local government in South Dakota has ever gotten in trouble for being too open.

While the media gets in the weeds about TenHaken’s text messages, the real corruption is city employee bonus bribes

I agree, the mayor shouldn’t be using insider information to sooth his followers hunger for pop rock, but that is small potatoes compared to giving city employees a bonus right before an election.

I’m sure Poops is enjoying the deflection of ‘text gate’ so no one will talk about the other gorilla in the room;

In an interview Monday afternoon, TenHaken said he’s “always looking for different ways to communicate with people,” and said he liked the “pure, 1-on-1 communication” someone could get via a texting service.

“People like to know what’s going on in their city,” he said.

LMFAO! Yeah Paul, I have been asking for almost 4 years! What is going on? Backdoor meetings about bonuses, deals with Sanford, deals with developers, all done in the secrecy of your armed guarded offices. When were you going to drop us a text about over stepping your boundaries and secretly negotiating a bonus for employees from a mystery fund?

Islam added if elected mayor, “I’ll always be transparent about any news involving one of our taxpayer funded buildings.”

Mayoral hopeful David Zokaites had similar concerns, calling it “a disgusting abuse of mayoral privilege.”

David also added this in another interview;

“This is unethical and appalling but not surprising. Sioux Falls government has corruption problems (a massively-overpriced parking garage) and tries to hide bribery (gifts of third party paid travel) ,” Zokaites said in a statement to KELOLAND News. “What’s a little insider information compared to bribery and corruption? Certainly this abuse of insider information should stop immediately and an apology should be issued.”

David is right, this is highly unethical it may even violate campaign rules but that didn’t stop Poops massive ego from spilling out;

TenHaken said in response that in any election with an incumbent, candidates are going to be “envious” of the platform that provides and the advantages that come with it.

“That’s part of what comes with being the existing officeholder,” said TenHaken, adding he remembered the feeling from his run four years ago.

Sounds like something one of his campaign GOONS would write.

First off, the obvious, there were NO incumbents last time around and the other candidates that would have had access to that information certainly didn’t use it to their advantage since they both lost miserably. Secondly, just because you are the current mayor doesn’t give you the right to use information that WE own against your opponents, as Taneeza points out;

“The Premier Center is owned by Sioux Falls taxpayers,” Islam said in a statement.

Any information about what goes on at that facility should be public information shared to everyone at the same time, even if the mayor knows in advance.

As for the comment about being ‘envious’. WOW! You really are more arrogant than I thought. Trust me, I have had a lot of emotions about how you have run this city, like your lack of courage, ethics and transparency when you make decisions. But trust me, I don’t think I have ever been jealous of those qualities, just embarrassed that our city is being run by a bunch of toddlers in a clown car going around a track in a secret room in the basement of city hall. AND I can pretty much guarantee your two opponents are not jealous either.

UPDATE: Is it time for the Sioux Falls City Council meetings to allow Public Input remotely?

UPDATE: I was told that the inputer was just there to complain about the healthcare institutions in general and NOT Covid. I guess she has contacted the council in the past about her struggles. I will say though that you can talk about anything at public input, especially things happening in our city and she was NOT out of line talking to the Mayor and Council about her issue.

Since the Covid scare started, our city leaders and some employees have had the comfort of being able to work remotely. In fact, I don’t think I can find a single council meeting since then that ALL 8 councilors were sitting on the dais at the same time. There has always been at least one absent or on the phone during the meetings.

I actually support this and it goes back to when my good friend and city councilor Kermit Staggers fell ill and they were giving him a hard time about showing up to meetings. In fact they were down right nasty about it.

Kettle meet black.

But I also believe what is good for the goose is good for the gander. I believe that citizens should be allowed to testify on any agenda item or for general public input remotely and shouldn’t have to give a reason why.

Trust me, there would have to be an ordinance written to allow this so it is handled with decorum;

• You would call in advance of what you would be speaking about, state your name to operator, the town of your residence and be told if there is any violation of decorum the chair reserves the right to hang up on you. You would also have to repeat this when you are taken off hold and allowed to speak.

• After your allocated time is done the phone would automatically hang up.

• Since there is a time delay, while you are on hold the meeting would stream in real time and you would be que’d up by the operator.

There are numerous reasons why people may prefer to testify remotely; mobility issues, snowbird, sick, disabilities, public speaking fears, etc.

It really doesn’t matter, if the council can do this whenever convenient for them, the public should be able to also. The state legislature allows it during committee hearings, I also think several other local boards allow it like the SF Parks Board.

PAUL ADMITS AGAIN TONIGHT HE DIDN’T SIGN UP FOR THIS

During public input tonight a nice lady approached the podium during general public input to talk about some issues at the local healthcare industrial complexes. I think she was getting to talking about the hospitals being understaffed due to Covid but was cut off at 3 minutes. After Paul cut her off he told her to take her issue up with them. She asked if the city government was concerned.

No. They are not.

Paul told us he didn’t sign up for this and that’s why the private healthcare providers again today had a press conference that did not include local leaders. Paul can’t be bothered with a pesky virus, he is busy handing out $1 rentals.

Minnehaha County Commission introduces Public Input Time Limits & Broken Ice

While I would love to blame the Commission for the authoritarian move to put a time limit on public input, it seems the Trumper election deniers have ruined it for the rest of us. The group (who obviously believe Trump won the election) have been berating the Commission over the past couple of months about election integrity and all the supposed problems with our elections like drop boxes, mail in ballots and of course fake news.

So the Commission has decided to change their long standing rule of NOT having a time limit on public input to now having a 5 Minute limit (with a cute little clock on the big screen) and similar to the SF School Board a sign up sheet, to which the chair said was to make sure they are spelling the public inputers names correctly. It is also a very nifty way to turn them over to the NSA, CIA and FBI ðŸ˜Š

While I totally understand the annoyance of ignorant morons who watch to much Newsmaxx (the city council has the march of the Anti-vaxxers that show up each week), I think instead of changing a long standing public input rule maybe the commission needs to change the rules of engagement with the inputers. I think a lot of times at public meetings, whether it is city council, school board or county commission some of these issues can be quickly resolved if you would just answer their questions on the spot. They may not like the answer, but if you are clear with them that they got a response there would be no reason to show up week after week complaining about the same stuff while building up their conspiracy theories.

After watching this, I have come to a different conclusion on ‘general’ public input. It really isn’t about the time limit, the position on the agenda of even decorum, it’s more about the governmental body interacting with the public during this time. But you will never get that since most of the local governmental bodies are run by authoritarians who want to keep their backroom deals and schemes secret. Just watch how the chair of the Lincoln County Commission runs the meetings . . . scary stuff.

ICE RINK AT EVENTS CENTER MALFUNCTIONS

The Denty having to cancel the Stampede games this weekend due to malfunctioning icing equipment is a flashing warning sign of what is coming for taxpayers. If you think the $10 million a year mortgage is draining us, wait until major upkeep and maintenance starts. The building is getting to the age that this stuff needs to start being budgeted for (7+ years old). Just look at the Pavilion, a place that was supposed to cost us $19 million has probably gone far beyond $100 million in maintenance and upgrades over the past 20+ years, and this is just a small facility compared to the Denty. A city official told me recently they will have to start budgeting major maintenance expenses starting next year (like siding replacement) and the price tag will NOT be small. I still think the Denty (besides the bunker ramp) was one of the stupidest investments this city ever made that sends around $20 million in profits straight out of town and out of state every year never to be recirculated locally, and don’t get me started on the location!

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 ðŸ˜Š

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?