Entries Tagged 'Open Meetings' ↓

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.

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

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.

——————————————-

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.