Entries Tagged 'Open Government' ↓

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.

Danielson notifies Sioux Falls Mayor TenHaken and City Council of possible Open Meeting Violations

This was emailed to the city council and mayor yesterday;

To the Sioux Falls Council and Mayor Paul TenHaken:

To make sure each of you has been informed of my actions on Friday, November 6th, 2020, I am making a special note to inform you I had served on the city of Sioux Falls and the City Council a SDCL 3-21 Notice of Claim concerning the city violating SDCL 1-27-1.16. Material relating to open meeting agenda item to be available–Exceptions–Violation as misdemeanor. 

The action of voting on the three issues was illegal and the possible actions of voting to move the items forward are teetering on a violation of 1-27-1.16. The body was warned 3 separate times by me to produce the missing proposed ordinances. None of you recessed the meeting or had your staff go to a copy machine and print the items. Once again this is a flagrant violation of long standing South Dakota Open Meeting laws and custom.

Posting the items on the overhead screen is not the same as following the simple law requiring the items to be printed on paper and placed on the table for the audience to pick up and review.

The SDCL 3-21 notice I have filed was necessary to inform the city of harm they have caused. In this case, the harm to me as a citizen who wanted the information produced on paper, in the room and the law requires it to be done without the public begging for a copy. It does not matter if the items were finally posted on the website, the law clearly required the materials be in the room for the public to review.

Do you realize over the past few years, we audience members continue to receive less meeting documents or notice? We are tired of it. There are other violations we have pointed out in the recent past, such as when pointed out a violation to the Waste Management Board recently, causing the meeting to be postponed until proper legal notice was adhered to. The Board did the right thing, why can’t the City Council? The Board of Ethics did not properly publish and adopt their agenda recently when the Public Input was not placed on the agenda.

My efforts issuing warnings to the City Council last Tuesday were my attempts to prevent a violation or three.

Why do we not consistently get ALL the agenda discussion items such as zoning changes? The Clerk has placed the meeting notebook on the table but it is incomplete.

I will be preparing a complaint for the South Dakota Open Meetings Committee for the flagrant violations the City Council. I am considering adding a few others. Right now there are violations I will likely be filing as part of last week’s meeting and have decided I shall wait to complete the process once I know if there are more violations to add from the Tuesday, November 10th, 2020 meeting.

The actions taken last Tuesday are illegal because they violated SDCL 1-27-1.16. If the City Council continues with the 2nd reading this coming Tuesday and casts any votes on the illegally passed items, the votes cast will likely be null and void. 

ORDINANCE SECOND READINGS

12. 2nd Reading: AN EMERGENCY ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, TO REQUIRE FACE COVERING IN AN INDOOR PUBLIC PLACE WHERE 6-FOOT SOCIAL DISTANCING CANNOT BE ACHIEVED.

Sponsors: Council Members Soehl and Kiley

13. 2nd Reading: AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, AMENDING THE CODE OF ORDINANCES OF THE CITY BY AMENDING CHAPTER 30: CITY COUNCIL; SECTION 30.001 COUNCIL MEETINGS.

Sponsors: Council Members Jensen and Erickson

14. 2nd Reading: AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, AMENDING THE CODE OF ORDINANCES OF THE CITY BY AMENDING CHAPTER 30: CITY COUNCIL, SUBCHAPTER: ORGANIZATION AND PROCEDURE, SECTION 30.013, ORDER OF BUSINESS AND SECTION 30.015 ADDRESSING THE CITY COUNCIL; TIME LIMIT.

Sponsor: Mayor

Each of you are personally invested in the three items above, I may or may not have an opinion on them, it does not matter. What matters is the legality of moving them forward when you know they are not legally processed. Moving them forward is up to each of you.

The body is not permitted to knowingly vote on and cannot pass into law, an item brought before the body through illegal process.

Bruce Danielson

Sioux Falls City Councilor Greg ‘Ethically Challenged’ Neitzert responds to killing public input

I was going to stay away from an extensive blog post on why keeping public input at the beginning of the meeting was important. I have literally ranted about freedom of speech, open government and the 1st Amendment for over 13 years on my blog.

Our founding fathers made it #1 for a reason, dissent and grievances towards your government make your government better because we hope our elected officials are modeling legislation out of what we find important to the majority but more importantly the minority;

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Sometimes this happens, sometimes it does not. But if those leaders are NOT willing to listen or put us to the back of the line, you can guarantee they do NOT think what we say is important (while digging in our pockets to fund the very government they run).

I have to respond to this long and extensive rant by Councilor Nutzert on Facebook today. You may not agree with all my retorts, but give me a listen;

Late last week a postcard hit mailboxes in Sioux Falls.  That postcard was a “call to action” regarding a vote the City Council will have on Tuesday night regarding our general public input.  That postcard was misleading, irresponsible, and inflammatory.  It uses the technique of creating a false “rich vs poor”/”developer vs average citizen” conflict.  It also makes the irresponsible allegation that City Councilors and the Mayor care about rich people and developers, but don’t care about the “average citizen”.

Everything Greg says in this paragraph is hyperbole. The very people who have funded the campaigns of most of the city council (even some I support) have been from the ruling class. Those who support public input at the beginning of the meetings have pointed out the truth; the very business people showing up to the meetings to do business have a financial stake in the decisions made. In other words waiting an extra 30 minutes to do their business doesn’t cost them a dime, they are probably actually going to be financially rewarded. That goes for the developer getting millions in a tax rebate to the small theatre owner getting a beer license. Waiting is the cost of doing business. As for the citizens, who fund the lion’s share of city government, we are there on our own time. If anything, public input should be moved, before the invocation and pledge of allegiance.


I’m going to set the record straight, and then move on.  This issue is really much ado about nothing.  It is procedural and has no impact on citizens day to day life.

Wow! He is right that it is procedural, procedurally moving citizens to the back of the line, dead last in the dark of the night. They even have the gall to say you can’t talk about the meeting that just occurred. Greg’s statement reminds of when Monty Python famously says, “It’s only a fleshwound.”


Council meetings, like many other governmental bodies meetings, have a designated time that people can talk to the elected body about anything that they want that is NOT already on the agenda.  We call this our “general” public input time.  We allow up to 30 minutes of general public input (3 minutes per person).  You can talk to us about ANYTHING, and people do.  It may be completely irrelevant to the city.  

Greg leaves out that not only is it state law to allow this time in most public meetings, it is covered by the US Constitution and a recent Supreme Court ruling.


We also allow public input on every agenda item at our meeting.  Agenda items can be many things – approval of a new beer license, a rezoning of a property, annexation of land into the city, an ordinance to create a new law in the city, a fee increase proposal, and so many other things.  Any citizen can give input on these agenda items.  They may support it.  They may be the applicant requesting it.  They may oppose it.  They may be a neighbor who opposes what a builder/developer/owner is trying to do.  They may oppose a rate increase, or a new restriction.  They are all citizens.  Interested parties for agenda items, and those giving input are not just “developers” or “rich people”.  They are citizens who may have deep concern about a new law, a new fee increase, or something that might happen near their home or neighborhood.

Yes, but these are very separate from general input, this is reserved for things NOT on the agenda, and that is why they take precedent over the upcoming business. And unlike the welfare queens that come each week to fatten their pockets on the regular agenda, they are welcome to bitch and complain also during this time, and some do.


Regardless of the order of our meetings, SOMEONE has to wait.  It is not a choice of making citizens wait or not, it is a matter of WHICH citizens should have to wait. 

Ironically, he is right (in this statement alone) and the tradition is to allow the people who own this government to speak first. Rich or poor, contributors or bloodsuckers. Come at the beginning and get your dissent on.

Should those that are there to speak, support, or oppose an agenda item (that is urgent because it is up for approval) and may affect them personally have to wait, or should those who are there to talk about something that is not on the agenda, and may not even be something the Council has jurisdiction over, have to wait.  Whatever you think is the right answer, I only ask that you recognize that you are asking some citizens to wait, no matter what.

Okay, we call this ‘splitting hairs’. As I linked above in the 2018 SCOTUS ruling, as long as what you are saying is ‘germane’ to government business (which is most everything), your statements are protected by the 1st Amendment. Nothing anyone says at these meetings has more importance than the other. Where the line is drawn is what is more important? Dissent or business? I think our founding fathers found dissent of the citizens is more important than those who seek refuge from our government in favorable taxes, fees and licenses, which have ZERO affect on our health, happiness and wellbeing. If Developer ‘X’ gets a massive tax rebate or favorable rezoning, the trickle down effect to the public as a whole is so minute you could measure it with a pubic hair.

  
As an example this Tuesday night, general public input will be first, because that’s where it is set at this point. 

And why is that Greg?

That means those citizens who want to speak about the proposed mask mandate will have to wait.  Are they “less than” those who are there to speak about something not on the agenda?  Ironically, those who are there to speak on THIS ISSUE (where to put public input) will have to wait for those that speak at general public input because this issue is an agenda item.  It would be odd to argue that citizens there to speak on this ordinance to change where general public input is held are less valuable than those actually speaking at the general public input time. 

As I said above, Greg is just circling back to hyperbole. The agenda is separate from public input. Always has been. I often tell people the official business of the council doesn’t start until the agenda items are presented. So yes, people have to wait.

 
The ONLY choice is WHO – WHAT CITIZENS – should have to wait.  Everyone will get their chance to speak, the only difference is who and what goes first.

And you think the ‘business’ of the city should go first, which as I have said is just you and your fellow rubberstampers doling out our money. Let’s put it to you another way, it would be like your employer putting you on a pay schedule in which you are paid one week in advance instead of being paid after you completed your required hours a week later.


A few other important notes: 1. In recent years, around 75% of general public input has been given annually from 10-12 citizens.  That means 10-12 citizens out of almost 200,000 are using the vast majority of public input time. We are literally allowing ourselves to be held hostage by a dozen citizens of our city.

First off, let’s state the obvious, Greg took that statistic directly from of his ass. Secondly, until the census is done, that 200K number from certain elected officials seems to grow like a whitehead on a teenagers nose, thirdly, citizens have not held anyone ‘hostage’ on the city council, in fact, I would argue it is the exact opposite, as councilor Brekke said, you are OUR guests, not the other way around. The 1st Amendment is NOT based on how many people speak on a specific topic. The same person could come to every single council meeting for the next 20 years and be the only person to speak, it would still not change the dynamic of that right.

2.  Anyone who has watched general public input in recent years has seen that while there are some great things that are brought to us, the majority consistently are items we have no jurisdiction over, are the same people, and are mostly grandstanding and self serving.  I’ll be very blunt, general public input has degraded into an embarrassing spectacle. It does not reflect well on our meeting or our city.  

I agree 100% it has become ’embarrassing’ and mostly because the citizens have been pointing out the ridiculous (and fraudulent) actions of this council. Greg said it best, he is embarrassed, and he should be, I can give him 26 million reasons why. If our elected leaders in this city have done such a great job why do we have a city attorney’s office? Maybe we should make an amendment to disband that entity.

3.  We rarely have Boy Scouts and other children at our meetings, and they’ve told us they no longer come or don’t stay because the public input can be so outrageous and inappropriate at the beginning of our meetings.  They could be learning about the civic process, but they don’t anymore.

So I heard this argument last week from a text sent to me, and I about died laughing. Public input is the ‘perfect’ example of learning about the civic process. Teaching our youth about Freedom of Speech and Open Government is the finest of civic lessons. I think little Johnny should learn and engage his parents about the homeless, prostitution and drug dealers. Why would we want to hide this from our children? Does Greg really believe our children are this naive? Sometimes the only way I learn what atrocities that our taking place in our community is by listening to citizens lay them out at Public Input. The only way you fix these problems is by recognizing them first.

4.  The vast majority of people tell me our general public input is not valuable, it is an embarrassment to our city and they want us to do something about it.

Well, then, why move it, just get rid of it. Seriously. Wipe it completely off the agenda. Oh, that’s right, like I have mentioned above it is against the US Constitution and State Law, and if you did that, you would all go to jail. So what is the difference if a citizen tells you suck at the beginning or at the end? This argument is just as childish as the person who is making it. He should get a badge for Bullsh*t.

5.  There are a LOT of ways to give your elected officials input.  Call, email, send a letter, use social media, talk to an agenda item, etc.  General public input is just one, and its frankly one of the least effective.

I also agree with Greg on this. In fact the reason I started a blog is because I felt my letters to the editor, my public input and our lazy ass local media were not cutting the mustard. But if you think our city council is responding to these other forms of contact, you are sadly mistaken. One of the reasons many show up to the public input is because they get ZERO response from councilors. I have had citizens tell me with real concerns about zoning and crime in our city they have NEVER gotten responses from the current and former mayor and 80% of the council. Then they wonder why they come on Tuesdays and chew ass? Greg, is it that hard of a math equation?

6.  Many of our city employees are hourly employees.  When they have to come to meetings to speak to an agenda item, they are being paid to sit there. All of those employees are being paid tax dollars to sit through the general public input. 

What Greg leaves out is that they receive flex time for those hours. In other words if an hourly city employee has to work two extra hours on Tuesday, they can work two less hours in the remainder of the week. As for the directors who mostly speak at these meetings, they are salary, they get their mostly 6-figure paychecks no matter how many hours they work. Boo Hoo. What Greg is saying in this statement is that he represents the city employees, who we pay, over the very people who pay them. Our city councilors are elected to represent us. It is in the freaking charter! It is the mayor’s job to represent the city employees, which I have heard he tried to screw in the last union negotiation.

7.  Many applicants who have agenda items need to have their attorneys, engineers, and other representatives at meetings.  They are paying them usually hourly, and they have to arrive at the beginning of the meeting because they don’t know when their agenda item will come up.  They are being paid to sit through the general public input. 

8.  Even if you think “developers”, “builders” or whatever you wish to refer to these applicants are “less than”, consider that they (or an average citizen) who get on the agenda, have paid significant fees to do so.  They have paid to have us consider their agenda item.  Why is it a given that they should have to wait and those there with nothing on the agenda get to “jump the line”.  Why is that automatically right?

And like I already said above, that is the price of doing business in a capitalist society. Did Greg vote for Bernie Sanders?


We have had any number of big items on our agendas over the years that citizens have cared deeply about.  In my 4 years on the Council, we have had proposals to big large apartments near or next to single family, fee increases, bonding millions of dollars including the parking ramp downtown, the downtown city center building, and the water treatment plant.  All of these items are HUGE decisions and impact citizens directly, and in many cases citizens see them as life changing for them.  They are average citizens.  They aren’t the applicants.  They aren’t developers, rich people, or whatever other term you wish to use if you accept the rich vs poor/developer vs average citizen division.  They have to wait if you leave general public input where it is.  


The rhetoric of making this into a developer vs average citizen is inflammatory and meant to rile people up and divide us.  It should be rejected.

You are correct. Let’s reject it, and leave public input as is. Personally, I hate having to bring it up, because I know it embarrasses the Mayor and Council that you consistently kiss their rings. All this ‘division’ could end when you realize that the public IS who you serve. We only bring this up because it is true. If it bothers you so much, maybe you should turn off your sucking device?


Wherever you come down on this, just realize you are asking citizens to wait their turn.  The only decision is WHO should wait.  There are many elderly, “average” citizens (using the postcard terminology) who want to speak to agenda items, and you are asking them to wait if you have general public input at the beginning of the meeting.  


Those who support moving general public input to the end of the meeting care about citizens, and they care about input.  Saying or implying that they don’t is irresponsible and a unfounded personal attack on their character.

Is it? Because I have yet to hear from one of the ‘specials’ in our community that having to wait an extra 30 minutes is hurting their businesses. They don’t have to say anything because they have puppets like you Greg to defend them, because they have spent a lot of capital making sure you do what is best for them, including crying on Facebook they deserve to go to the front of the line. I would expect the very business people of this community you defend to testify on Tuesday night that public input at the beginning of the meetings has hurt their bottom lines. I’m guessing that number of dissenters will be a big fat ZERO.

Remember every agenda item allows for citizen input, does that matter?
If you accept the premise that moving general public input is “oppressing” citizens, you must necessarily concede that if you support keeping general public input at the beginning of the meetings, you are “oppressing” all citizens there to speak on an agenda item.  You must be consistent.

And we have been consistent. We have it at the beginning. Why do you want to change this sacred consistency? Why do you choose to ‘oppress’?


To repeat again, what should be first, items that are pressing and on the agenda, or items that are not on the agenda (and may never be).  That’s the choice.  It is not a for or against citizens, or for or against input.  Period.  


I have learned in my time on the Council that people care about items that affect their lives.  If we vote to fix their road, raise fees on their water bill, they care about that.  Our procedures at our meetings don’t affect people’s lives.  It’s inside baseball.  While a few people are VERY loud and make it appear there is controversy or wide public sentiment, it does NOT represent the vast majority of citizens.

Your procedures don’t affect lives????!!! Was that a typo?

As a guy I heard on FB recently talking about Trump’s apparent loss, “We’ve had enough of your nonsense, grab your tape and boxes, and pack it up.”

Our constitution is meant to protect the minority. Read it, you freaking moron!

You can decide what citizens should wait, but don’t fool yourself.  No matter what you choose, you are making citizens wait.

I’m going to simply this all for you and make it shorter than Greg’s diatribe. The 1st Amendment guarantees your right to dissent your government. Period. And any government official who wants to mess with that precious right is full of garbage and should resign, I have plenty of tape and boxes if you need them.

In Theresa Stehly’s fight to keep Public Input ‘as is’ the Argus Falsely claims her residency

Former Sioux Falls City Councilor Stehly sent out a postcard last week asking residents to speak up this coming Tuesday about keeping Public Input where it currently is, at the beginning of the meeting. She wrote a similar Letter to the Editor of the Argus;

Don’t let the business elite push out the average citizens. We need to protect and continue this opportunity to accommodate the citizen’s input at the beginning of the meeting, which is a user friendly time.

It is an important communication tool for the taxpayers and promotes accountability and transparency.

The Vote will be on Tuesday, November 10th during the 7 p.m.meeting. Please contact the mayor and the council members and tell them to leave public input where it is.

Tell them not to bow to the “Business Elite” who think they can pay their way to the front of the line. Contact all the Sioux Falls City Council and let them know you do not want your voice to be shut down:

Theresa Stehly, Mobridge

While I have seen the Argus editorial staff ‘edit’ my letters in the past, I have NEVER seen them blatantly change someone’s residency. When Stehly sent the letter over to the Argus, she put Sioux Falls as her residency. Why? Because that is what it is. Stehly has lived here I believe for over 20 years, she owns a home in Sioux Falls, pays taxes here and votes here. She did take a temporary job over the last couple of months in the Mobridge area, but that doesn’t make her a residency Mobridge, her home is Sioux Falls. It would be like saying a traveling construction worker who owns a home in Sioux Falls is suddenly a resident of Texas because he spent a couple months down there in the winter fixing roofs. It’s ludicrous. In fact there are several wealthy business families in Sioux Falls who donate to community projects and try to influence local government that winter in places like Arizona and California. So are they suddenly ‘residents’ of these states because they spend a couple of months away from Sioux Falls? I am guessing they would disagree.

The only reason I can think of why the Argus did this is to delegitimize Stehly’s voice who has been a strong advocate of open government in Sioux Falls and has fought for many things in this community on and off the council, and she continues to do so.

I think not only the Argus but other media in Sioux Falls have been strong supporters (behind the scenes) of moving public input to the end, so they can get their quick clips at council meetings and run off and write their half-baked stories. It’s their tradition of laziness and ignorance that shouldn’t surprise anyone.

As for Public Input, and decisions made on Tuesday night at the 2nd reading, including moving the meeting time to 6 PM, may be null and void. Bruce Danielson has done this;

Today, Friday, November 6th, 2020I had served on the city of Sioux Falls and the City Council a SDCL 3-21 Notice of Claim concerning the city violating SDCL 1-27-1.16. Material relating to open meeting agenda item to be available–Exceptions–Violation as misdemeanor.

The SDCL 3-21 notice is necessary to inform the city of harm they have caused. in this case, the harm to me as a citizen who wanted the information displayed and the law requires them to follow. I will be preparing a complaint for the South Dakota Open Meetings Committee for the flagrant violations the City has continued.

The actions taken last Tuesday are illegal because they violated SDCL 1-27-1.16. If the City Council continues with the 2nd reading this coming Tuesday and casts any votes on the illegally passed items, the votes cast will likely be null and void.

The body cannot pass into law an item brought before the body illegally.

In fact a past City Attorney Diane Best said this in her recommendations about this section of the law (page 17);

MEETING MATERIALS
• Printed materials relating to agenda item and is given
to public body, generally must be available to general
public.
• Posted on website
• Available at business office
• Available in meeting room
• Excludes confidential materials
• Source: SDCL 1‐27‐1.16

As I look at it, you can’t just do one or two of these things and call it good, you have to do it all.

It will be interesting to see how this goes Tuesday night. You know how I feel about this. I agree with Stehly, this is an effort to put the banksters and welfare developer queens at the beginning of the line, and it is disgusting and pathetic.

BTW, whether you support or oppose, make your voice heard ahead of time. As of right now, councilors Brekke, Starr and Soehl are opposed to the move;

Janet Brekke <jbrekke@siouxfalls.org>,

Christine Erickson <cerickson@siouxfalls.org>,

Alex Jensen <ajensen@siouxfalls.org>,

Rick Kiley <rkiley@siouxfalls.org>, 

Greg Neitzert <gneitzert@siouxfalls.org>,

Marshall Selberg <mselberg@siouxfalls.org>,

Curt Soehl <csoehl@siouxfalls.org>,

Pat Starr <pstarr@siouxfalls.org>,

Mayor TenHaken <PTenHaken@siouxfalls.org>

Sioux Falls City Council & Mayor TenHaken willing to possibly violate law with their war on transparency

Last night at the city council meeting there were three important first readings of ordinances. Mask mandate, meeting time change and moving public input dead last. While the proposed ordinances did appear on SIRE online with linked documents, there were NO hard copies available at the meeting (these usually appear in a white binder on a desk by the chamber’s front door). This is a clear violation of open meeting laws and the city council, city attorney, mayor and council staff ignored it.

What made it even worse was, out of courtesy, Cameraman Bruce let them know that they really needed to recess the meeting until copies of the ordinance could be handed out to the public in attendance. Nobody lifted a finger. The chair of the meeting, Paul TenHaken didn’t attempt a recess, the city attorney did not recommend one, the city clerk and city operations officer said and did nothing. Even after being told to correct this obvious violation, they all continued the meeting.

What does this mean? First off, an open meetings violation will probably be filed (more to come on that). If found in violation they could all receive fines and even jail time, it has already happened to a county official in the state for doing something similar. So who would be ultimately responsible for this fiasco and dereliction of duty? The chair, Mayor TenHaken could be but also the city clerk.

Even after warned to correct the issue, Paul just kept going. Why? Because of his deep, deep, deep hatred of open meetings and transparency. He will stop at NOTHING to make sure the public is NOT informed about what changes he is attempting to make at these meetings. He apparently will go as far as possibly violating open meetings laws to achieve his decimation of open government in Sioux Falls. Not sure what point he was trying to make?

I was actually astonished that they didn’t recess for 10-15 minutes to print out a few copies. It was baffling. What it showed me, besides the apparent disregard for the law, was extreme childishness, ignorance and stupidity of possibly openly violating the law when a constituent pointed it out. It’s like Paul was thinking, “If I just ignore Bruce, and pretend we are not doing anything wrong, we will be fine.”

I have seen city government officials do some pretty moronic things, but this one takes the cake. It’s almost like Paul tries to one up himself of doing idiotic things. Which used to be monthly, but now is coming a weekly endeavor.

When you have 9 elected officials and about 4 appointed officials essentially ignore a possible violation (and not even raise their hands and ask the city attorney) you wonder who is running this rudderless ship called the city of Sioux Falls?

Speaking of public input. Councilor Brekke did a fantastic job of explaining to the rest of the council that they are essentially ‘guests’ at a meeting that is for the ‘public’ and this is why it should remain at the beginning. Councilor Starr reminded them of all the citizens that have come in the past to bring important issues to the council. It looks like right now the only ones opposed to the move are Starr, Brekke and Soehl.

UPDATE: Mayor TenHaken and the Sioux Falls City Council continue their ‘HATEFEST’ on Transparency and Open Government

UPDATE: As you can see the council and mayor are moving forward with their plans (Items #40-41) on a night when most people will be paying attention to the election. The items are also misleading because in the titles it says NOTHING about moving public input or meeting time moving. Only if you read the red notes you will see the changes.

This change could also be construed as unconstitutional in the public input ordinance;

Notice that currently public input at the beginning of the meetings doesn’t allow you to comment on pending business coming up in the rest of the meeting, which is also unconstitutional, but they are saying with this NEW ordinance that you can’t comment on what happened during the meeting though the items have already been voted on and the business of those items is closed. The SCOTUS has ruled very recently that you can discuss ANY city business at public input whether it is on an agenda or not. I think they said as long as a citizen is commenting on business that is ‘germane’ to that government body, it is allowable. I guess now the Mayor thinks he knows better than the Supreme Court. Not only do they suck at transparency, they are getting very sloppy legal advice.

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I just found out this afternoon that the mask mandate isn’t the only controversy coming on Tuesday. There are two items that will probably get first readings on Tuesday night also that have not been presented to the public in an informational, which is no surprise. I knew that both of these were coming after Stehly’s seat was bought by the banksters and developer welfare queens, and they have to do with shackling citizens;

• The first is a move rumored to be brought forward by Councilors Erickson and Jensen that would move the regular council meetings to 6 PM. This of course would give citizens very little time from when they get off of work to attend the meetings on time in person and an obvious assault on open government.

• The second is rumored to be proposed by Mayor TenHaken himself to move public input to the end of the meetings.

I have no doubt both will get the 5 votes they need to pass. These actions come after just a few weeks ago the Mayor ended the traditional mayor/director meetings with council leadership on Friday mornings and also the move to remove red notes from ordinances that are being changed.

This of course is NO surprise since this mayor and council has had a full on assault on transparency and their hatred of open government and more importantly citizen input and advocacy. They despise more than anything else and won’t be happy until they lop off the citizens rights to dissent their government, or at least make it more challenging to do so.

Messing with public input and citizens rights to advocate for themselves is a whole new level of disgusting behavior by this administration and city council. I would ask if they have any shame, but you know the answer.

So why are they so Hellbent on silencing the public? Because they have several plans to hand over MORE of your tax dollars to the elite who fund their campaigns and they are tired of the public making that process messy and in the open.

And if you think the steamrolling won’t happen, wait until Starr leaves the council (hopefully) and they replace him with another rubberstamper.

Prepare for your taxes and fees to rise exponentially while your voice and services get stifled. This is what happens when you let a non-partisan government get controlled by political hacks of the Republican Fascist Party with no governing experience and deep, deep, deep hatred of citizen activism and transparency.

We have a virus destroying our city alright, and the only way to stop it is with lots of Sunshine.

Mayor TenHaken implementing an Executive Order that benefits bureaucrats over citizens

In Paul’s latest fiddling with his extreme hatred for transparency, he changed an executive order which basically shortens up the time the public knows about an ordinance change, YET requires the council to give more advance notice to city directors about their intentions.

Once again Paul is nosing around in the legislative branch and telling them how they will legislate. While I’m okay with giving the city directors more time to mull over changes, we should also be extending the time citizens know about an issue.

I also think that this should be a decision made by the city council, NOT by executive order.

The city council doesn’t work for city directors and the mayor, they work for the citizens, this is why we elect them. But it has been evident, almost since the Home Rule Charter was founded that the city council does the bidding of the mayor and directors and has never turned down an opportunity to put more rules, more fees and more taxes on the citizens. I implore anyone who can show me when the city council has deregulated/eliminated ordinances or cut taxes and fees since this form of government was implemented in the 90’s. If you can, I’ll buy you a beer (or two).

This is the problem with the form of government we have now in Sioux Falls. It is setup so the directors form policy while the RS6 approves those policies that benefit the banksters and developers in town, while more regulations and taxes get levied on the rest of us.

This ‘little change’ is just another way of hiding city business from the citizens. And what it really is about is a deep hatred for sunshine and openness in our local government, and like covid, it will be hard to cure this deep sickness at city hall.

Sioux Falls City Council Operations Meeting full of some very dark proposals including killing public input

The City Council had its Operations Committee meeting in the dark of the morning Thursday at 10 AM. I wonder why there was NO public input? Trust, me, this was done on purpose so the public could not attend, especially with some of the crap they were proposing. Once again, like the mayor, the majority of the council, the RS6 now, HATE transparency and openness, it is at the core of their very dark agenda for the city.

The meeting started out with a proposal for more per diem money to the council for logo wear city council apparel. I think right now they receive around $50 a year and they want to increase it to $150 per year. What confuses me is that they could just buy each councilor a simple magnetic name badge (for around $15 bucks) that they could wear on any piece of clothing, heck, buy them two. Just another example of how they waste taxpayer money on something they don’t really need.

I found it interesting that CountCilor Alex Jensen wasn’t wearing city logo wear but a First Premier pull over, nice touch. Reminds me of when Jim Entenman was wearing his Harley Davidson shirts to council meetings. Got to get in that shameless promotion yah know. Also, we can’t forget the thousands of dollars that were funneled to Alex’s campaign thru his employer’s upper leadership and various mischevious PACs. You better wear the damn shirt Alex!

Another change is for the consent agenda. They want councilors to give a 24 hour notice to city hall if they are going to pull something from the consent agenda so the city director/manager responsible for that item can come to the meeting to answer questions, because their time is valuable or something. Nutzert rambled about wedding anniversaries and kid’s birthday parties. Because, when you make a 6-Figure a year salary from the taxpayers of this city you shouldn’t be bothered for 5 minutes to answer a question about city spending when you should be a Chucky Cheese with your kids. Puhhhleese. There has always been this consistent argument, that I knew would gear up after the RS6 was installed, that city employees personal lives on a Tuesday night are somehow more important than the public’s business. They know they have an expectation to come to these meetings, and like I said, they get paid a hefty chunk of change to do so. If you can’t make it because of an important family event, ask someone from your department to fill in. This seems like a responsibility of the director in charge of that department instead of the city council.

They said city councilors don’t have to give the notice, but if they don’t there is no requirement for the director to show up. So basically it is a ‘Pass’ for the very people who are supposed to be serving us (because you know, they get a paycheck to do so).

I have often argued that the consent agenda should be read at the meeting, and after it is completely read by the clerk, items can be pulled. That’s true transparency.

During the meeting, non-committee member, councilor Brekke chimed in from the podium and suggested that the mayor’s office started giving informational meeting updates like they used to, but ended suddenly. We all know why, because of his simmering hatred towards transparency. Just look at the Covid press conferences, vanished, while our numbers are spiking.

The meeting got more interesting with a move to eliminate open discussion at the beginning of the informational meetings and renaming it council comment or report. Basically they can comment about something they are working on, but NO policy discussion, they once again blamed time constraints even though there is NOTHING in the city charter about time constraints or time limits at meetings. If a meeting runs to long, they can recess and come back at another time. Heck the Board of Ethics recessed twice over Greg Nutzert’s ethics hearing. This is a way of keeping more policy decisions from citizens. Disgusting.

The best was at the end of the meeting when, ironically, during open discussion CountCilor Jensen suggested moving public input to the end of the council meetings and eliminating public input on 1st readings. Oh, he was very soft and careful how he presented it, but it was clear when he said something about doing ‘business’ first, what he meant. Councilor Nutzert quickly chimed in and said he would assist him on it, but they may have to take an all expenses paid trip by a right wing partisan hack group to come up with a plan (I jest). I have often argued you put public input first because the public’s opinion is much more important than the business of the council, you know, the people who fund this government and come on their own time to do so. A business coming for a rezone or license is part of an expense of doing business and has little to do with the issues and policies of this city. Citizens should always be at the forefront of local government. I knew this was going to happen when Theresa left, and they have the votes to get it done, so it will probably happen. While I will do my best to fight it, unfortunately this is what happens when a majority of the council has this fascist view of transparency. Total Darkness.

Democracy Dies in Darkness, this is an example of the sneaky games being played during this time by local boards and governments

I knew it would not take long for something like this to rear it’s head during this time of a crisis and social distancing;

A plan to separate the Tri-Valley School District by building a new school to handle overcrowding is once again causing controversy between residents and school district leaders. 

Parents and residents say a recent decision by the school board to build a $10 million kindergarten-only school in Crooks, miles from the current school in Colton, was done without transparency and without the chance for a public vote. 

They say the school board and administration took advantage of a time when no one could attend the school board meeting April 13 in person to voice their opposition because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The board meeting was conducted through Zoom, a video chat messaging system many have relied on to interact with others without risking exposure to the coronavirus in the meantime. 

A select few in the community who can afford the tax increases and want a new school took it upon themselves to pass something literally in the dark of the night knowing there was strong public opposition to the decision. The best way to quiet this opposition is by eliminating them. While legal (and I would go so far to say that is questionable) it definately lacked ethics and integrity and was at best a sloppy parlor trick.

But don’t be fooled by this ‘one’ instance. I have been following and taking note of several things our own city government has been doing behind the scenes. All the puzzle pieces are not in place yet, but once they are, I will be revealing the blatant sloppiness and ignorance our own city has been up to. Right now they are trying their hardest to keep these things tied up in a closet with a sock in their mouth, but that can’t last much longer, and it’s only a matter of time before it spreads like a virus at packing plant.

I will keep you posted, and several others in the local media have been also keeping tabs.

While none of it really shocks me, it will prove once again, when the cat’s away, the mice will play. Our local officials are taking full advantage of this crisis to put a death nail in transparency, and it makes me wonder how they sleep at night.

Belfrage misses the point of releasing the TenHaken voicemail

You can hear the discussion. She did have a defender during his segment.

I will say this first. I don’t like how this has been going. In fact I think everyone involved is acting horribly, I do agree with Belfrage that it is a little out of control. I wish people on both sides of this issue would just respect each other’s comments and opinions. They are all elected by the constituents, you are NOT going to agree with each other all of the time. That’s okay. That is how good government gets done. Having disagreements is healthy, also having open, transparent meetings to discuss these disagreements is healthy. Do people’s feelings get hurt? Sure. That’s what they call ‘making the sausage’. So I hope they all can just apologize to each other and move on. Including Theresa, the mayor and several other councilors.

But let’s look at the FACTS, just for clarification;

Belfrage first talks about how Stehly posted on his FB page about the issue over the weekend and he was upset about it. A couple of things I would like to fill Greg in on;

• Facebook and the internet is 24/7, 365 days. It doesn’t shut off when you are not blabbing on the radio.

• His FB page is his show’s FB page. He claims he is part of the media. While that is a stretch, it is true.

If someone is posting a comment on your FB page that is part of your show, there is NOTHING irregular about it. In fact, if a local politician wanted to post an issue there, that would be the appropriate place to do it. If this would have been a personal page, he would have a right to be upset, but it wasn’t.

The second issue is the whole point of posting the voicemail by Paul wasn’t to show he was ‘mean’. He wasn’t mean, he was actually calm and respectful. The point is that the mayor LIED. He made this comment on FB after Stehly said she had the VM;

‘There are no mean emails, voicemails, or the like here.’

Yeah, once again it wasn’t ‘mean’ but a voicemail does exist. That was her point. Instead of calling Theresa, or emailing her to ask to hear the VM, he just automatically denied it existed. That was the entire point folks.

Did Theresa probably go about it the wrong way? Yeah, probably, but as I have told people, I don’t control how Theresa operates. I can ‘try’ to give advice (I have told her several times to get the f’ck off of FB and start a blog instead so she can moderate the commentary a little better, or HAVE no comments at all, just make it informational in nature).

So what is the ‘bigger’ lesson here? Some people in city government don’t get along, we see it every week in the smirks and commentary at the city council meetings. Not sure that will ever change. Some of them simply don’t like each other. The mayor himself vowed to make sure certain people get elected to the council next time around. Theresa isn’t on that list. Sorry, I don’t have a secret VM confirming that, but unless you have been under a rock the past two years you can see that is pretty obvious.

I’m begging all elected officials in city government and local and state government to get off of Facebook and talk to our actual faces. That would solve a lot of problems. Transparency in government will always win the day.