Entries Tagged 'Open Meetings' ↓

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

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

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

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

Minnehaha County Commission denies public input on CO2 pipeline

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

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

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

City of Sioux Falls Website got a little bit more transparent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David also added this in another interview;

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

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

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

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

Sounds like something one of his campaign GOONS would write.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kettle meet black.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No. They are not.

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

Minnehaha County Commission introduces Public Input Time Limits & Broken Ice

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

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

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

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

ICE RINK AT EVENTS CENTER MALFUNCTIONS

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

UPDATE: Open Meetings Complaint against Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken being sent to the Open Meetings Commission for Review

UPDATE: There seems to be confusion from several people in the media about Haggar’s original letter, so another one was submitted to Sierra and the AG’s office. Basically Haggar is saying he does NOT have the authority to rule on this, BUT the Open Meetings Commission under the direction of the AG’s office does. It now will be up to the OMC to first determine if the complaint is viable to hold a hearing. This could take 6-8 weeks. If they determine that it is viable they will have a hearing on the matter. I’m not sure what certain reporters in the media are confused about? All Mr. Haggar did was review the complaint and he felt it needed to be passed on because it has merit, so that is what he did. At this point we just need to wait to hear from the OMC. That is the only story here.

Minnehaha States Attorney, Daniel Haggar has determined that it appears that city ordinance was violated when citizens were not allowed to publicly comment on two items pulled from the consent agenda (see statement below).

In Haggar’s LETTER he has chosen to send the complaint over to the Open Meetings Commission. Here is the original Complaint.

UPDATE II: Can the Sioux Falls City Council consider a 4th meeting in January a regular meeting for the next month?

UPDATE: Councilor Starr attempted to change the meeting tonight to a ‘special meeting’ with pushback from the council and especially the city clerk, Tom Greco. Greco argued you can have a rescheduled meeting any time. While true, he is ignoring this part of the charter which requires any 4th meeting in the same month be called a Special Meeting.

The city council shall hold meetings on the first, second, and third Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at the Carnegie Town Hall. The first meeting of the month shall be designated the regular meeting. …. When the day fixed for a city council meeting falls on a date designated by law as a legal or national holiday, the meeting shall be held at the same hour on the next succeeding day, not a holiday.

They tried to get Pat to withdraw his motion that was seconded by Brekke, but he said he would not so all 8 of them voted it down. When Brekke was asking Greco about issues raised about the time of the meeting, one of the councilors said into their microphone ‘By Who?’. Inferring outside influence. (it sounded like Neitzert or Jensen?)

Sierra said she would probably be filing another open meetings violation since they chose NOT to call it a special meeting.

As you can see in July, the council had 3 regular meetings and 2 special meetings. Notice NO 4th meeting is considered a regular meeting.

I will try to lay this out to make it as less confusing as possible before we go into the back and forth with the City Council and City Clerk. Basically by charter the city council can have 1-3 REGULAR meetings per month and if they have additional meetings that month to do business (voting) they MUST call that meeting a ‘special’ meeting in which 6 city councilors sign off on. My curiosity peaked this week when I found it strange that the city council didn’t have a meeting on Tuesday but called a meeting this Monday, January 31st and are considering it a regular meeting for February because they moved the meeting to Monday because they are going to the legislature on Tuesday. Nothing wrong with moving meeting dates, they already voted on it, the problem is any additional meetings after the 3rd regular within the same month should be called a ‘special’ meeting. The city clerk disagrees.

Bruce Danielson sent this email to the entire city council and the city clerk, Tom Greco;

Dear friends,

I’m asking a question regarding process in our continuing efforts to pursue good government and avoid potential problems which may arise from improperly holding a Regular City Council monthly meeting in the wrong month.

How is it possible or legal to have a first or the regular meeting for February when in fact it is a 4th meeting in January?

Should it be a special meeting for the month of January? It is in reality a 4th meeting for January and thus a Special Meeting.

The Charter of the City of Sioux Falls states:

§ 30.001  COUNCIL MEETINGS.

……

   (b)   The city council shall hold meetings on the first, second, and third Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at the Carnegie Town Hall. The first meeting of the month shall be designated the regular meeting. …. When the day fixed for a city council meeting falls on a date designated by law as a legal or national holiday, the meeting shall be held at the same hour on the next succeeding day, not a holiday.

……..

   (d)   The city council may by resolution, when necessary, change the time and place of any meeting. The resolution shall set forth the circumstances necessitating the change. The resolution shall be published at least 24 hours prior to the rescheduled meeting. The city clerk, or the city clerk’s designee, shall give each council member written notice either in person, by mail, email or other electronic means of any change from the meeting days established by this section.

Nowhere in the Sioux Falls Charter Â§ 30.001  COUNCIL MEETINGS does it state the possibility of conducting a February Regular Meeting in January or any other month. If this was possible, the City Council could hold all of its monthly regular meetings in any month: i.e. why not hold all the monthly Regular Meetings on different days in January or even all on the same day at different times so the requirement is met all at once?

The relationship-building efforts in Pierre on the first Tuesday of February does not constitute a legal holiday but it has become a tradition with the Council to use the Monday prior for the meeting. It would be legal and proper when it is in the legal month. In Charter, when the Tuesday is not available for a meeting, the next business day is available for the meeting or the Wednesday. But we have a problem, the Planning Commission normally gathers on the 1st Wednesday at 6pm, so a likely meeting day, thus meeting the legal requirement, is the following Thursday or February 3rd. When setting the calendar, the Council should have noted the issue and set the three February meetings to be the 8th, 15th, and 22nd to meet legal calendar requirements. How is it possible to deem a meeting as legal for the month and it not be in the month? The legal notices and necessary transactions for a proper City Council Regular meeting would appear to be legal only when commenced in the legal month it is intended for.

The Charter does allow for Special Meetings to be called but nowhere in Â§ 30.002  SPECIAL MEETINGS allows for a Regular meeting to be held in a different month called for in Charter:

§ 30.002  SPECIAL MEETINGS.

   (a)   The mayor, acting mayor or six members of the city council may call special meetings of the city council whenever in its opinion the public business may require it.

   (b)   Whenever a special meeting is called, a notice in writing signed by the mayor, acting mayor or the council members requesting the meeting shall be prepared by and filed with the city clerk, or the city clerk’s designee, and served forthwith upon each member of the city council at least 24 hours prior to the meeting or by 4:00 p.m. the day prior to the meeting, whichever occurs first, either in person, by e-mail or other electronic means, or by notice left at the city council member’s place of residence. The notice shall state the date and hour of the meeting and the purpose for which the meeting is called and, whenever reasonably possible, the background and objective of any item that requires action by the city council. The notice shall be posted on the city’s website by the city clerk’s office. However, the provisions of this section do not apply to any information that is specifically exempt from disclosure under state public record laws in effect at the time. Additional printed material may be distributed to the governing body in accordance with SDCL 1-27-1-16. No business shall be transacted at the meeting except such as is stated in the notice.

   (c)   No special meeting shall be held until at least 24 hours after the call is issued.

The City Council must move the Regular Meeting to February 8th 2022 to meet the requirement of having the monthly meeting in the month stated to conduct required city business in the legal month. Having the meeting on Monday, January 31st, 2022 will make it a 4th meeting of January and it becomes a Special Meeting for January.

On behalf of the thousands of Sioux Falls voters, I kindly ask you to consider the issues I have brought forth and reconsider what day to conduct the February 1st City Council regular meeting.

Respectfully, Bruce Danielson

Sioux Falls City Clerk Tom Greco is the only one that responded with an explanation;

Bruce,

Thanks for your e-mail.  The City Council is permitted to change the time and place of any meeting and neither the City Charter nor City Ordinance provide any restrictions as to the rescheduling except that at least one Regular Meeting will be held each month.  In turn, moving a meeting from February 1st to January 31st is permissible. 

As noted, the City Charter requires at least one Regular Meeting per month and further provides for the ability to meet more frequently and to designate which meeting is deemed the Regular Meeting. As such, City Ordinance set the first, second, and third Tuesday of each month as meeting days with the first meeting of the month a Regular Meeting.  Again, the Council retains the ability to change the time of any of the aforementioned meetings to a different time and place (which may or may not coincide with another meeting date).  On several occasions in the past 15 years previous Councils have changed meetings from one of the aforementioned days to another of the aforementioned days, which effectively canceled one of the meetings. This was a permissible alternative for the February 1st meeting (i.e. change such business to February 8th), but not chosen for obvious reasons. In no case has the Council ever gone a full month without at least one Regular meeting. 

Because City Ordinance establishes the first meeting of a month as the Regular Meeting, the meeting of February 8th would be the Regular Meeting for the month of February.

Thanks and if you have any questions please let me know.

Tom

Bruce responded back before the agenda was posted, but hasn’t heard a response back;

Tom,

My main question remains unanswered. This will be a considered a January Special meeting when this meeting is posted today?

You stated the first meeting of the month will be on the 8th, so by your own email, you are saying this will be a Special meeting for January because it is in January.

How will it a rescheduled Regular meeting for February, moved into January, when you have not had the first Regular meeting for February. The Charter is clear there cannot be more than 3 Regular meetings in a month. It appears it would not be proper or likely legal to label a 4th meeting in January as a Regular meeting when there have already had 3 meetings in January.

For historical and legal reasons, a Regular meeting not held in the month it is required to be in, will likely cause issues in the future and a bad precedent. In my research I have not found a monthly Regular meeting not held in the month it was scheduled for as the Charter lays out.

BTW, you stated there was an oblivious reason, please explain what was oblivious.

Also, will the Council have a 3rd meeting in the month of February as required by Charter?

NOTE: Some would say this is just splitting hairs. Yes and no. While there is nothing strange or nefarious about what is being conducted at the Monday meeting, there is the question of properly following procedures and the charter as Bruce laid out. We have seen this over and over again with this administration and council staff. Missing agenda items, not properly posting meetings, not allowing public input (I will have more on that next week) and even public officials accosting me after meetings in the lobby as a form of intimidation and a violation of my 1st Amendment rights. Rules that are laid out in the charter for how we conduct business should ALWAYS be followed. If the council, the mayor or citizens don’t like certain rules, you can change them, but if they are on the books they should be followed. This should be a special meeting and it looks like the council is setting themselves up for another open meetings violation due to sloppy governing and ignorance.