Entries Tagged 'Open Government' ↓

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.

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>