Entries Tagged 'Open Meetings' ↓

Sioux Falls neighbors not happy about planned homeless shelter

In case you missed this a few days ago, I did to;

Meanwhile, in downtown Sioux Falls, the Bishop Dudley House had been looking at the possibility of different temporary family housing locations.

The two partners found each other in large part because ICAP had received federal money that could be used for the former Children’s Inn building and a type of homeless non-congregate temporary housing.

While I would agree converting the former Children’s Inn site into a family transitional homeless facility is probably a good fit, the planning was not. The neighborhood is up in arms over not being brought along in the process or even told about the plans. The rumor is they are planning a petition drive to stop this somehow.

This of course is how we do governmental business now in Sioux Falls. Ramrod it through, don’t tell anyone, and after we get approval apologize for screwing up, and always remember to say, ‘This will never happen again.’

The best way to reassure crap like this never happens again is to vote these sophomoric clowns out of office in the next election, or better yet, recall them NOW!

Precedent after precedent, after precedent. When are we going to learn?

Sioux Falls Mayor TenHaken’s Administration oblivious to transparency

The one thing PTH has NOT kept secret; his total disregard for open and transparent government.

You would think after the failures of the bunker ramp due to the lack of financial transparency they would have learned something. Nope;

The city won’t say if or how many developers have expressed interest in buying or leasing the unfinished downtown parking ramp on 10th Street.

“Ultimately, this is how we set up the process,” said Dustin Powers, community development coordinator for the city.

Dustin, just who is this ‘WE’ you speak of? It certainly wasn’t the public that requested this process, or the legislative body, the city council. Maybe it was the mayor’s COS, who is a former executive for one of the largest developers in the city and state. Her former employer has ‘mysteriously’ received millions in tax breaks, land deals, TIFs, etc. since she was appointed. Are they on the short list? We will never know.

It’ll be a lot of behind-the-scenes work until the city chooses a potential buyer/lessee and makes that information public.

Yup. And once again we have learned nothing about the benefits of open government.

This looks familiar

If you follow my rants on here and at city council meetings, you know my thoughts on limiting public input by the chair of the meeting and prior restraint.

Well, what do we have here? A chair of a city council meeting trying to talk down public commenters, except this time, they are suing;

As I have mentioned in the past, as long as you are addressing the body about policy and government they cannot shut you down.

Here are some highlights from the suit (PDF DOC);

Mayor Owens frequently uses her authority as Presiding Officer of Eastpointe’s City Council to suppress dissent and criticism by interrupting and shouting down members of the public who criticize her or raise subjects she finds personally embarrassing.

At one point in the meeting, the city attorney even intervenes and tells Owens that public commenters are free to say what they want to.

I have argued for a long time that the city council and it’s chair (Mayor TenHaken) have been violating citizens 1st Amendment rights when it comes to public input and trying to shut them down (while huffing and puffing, sucking on candy and calling commenters losers).

I will be watching this case closely . . .

Local Transparent and Open Government is easy

I do support 1st Amendment Rights and the freedom to dissent our government, but there are things the government can do that has very little to do with free speech. The City of Sioux Falls could put these modest proposals in place with very little capital, if any, which would actually reduce the need for constituents to dissent the government.

Some local governments have instituted some of these things;

• Livestream all public meetings on YouTube (including boards) and have that livestream on the main page with . . .

• A rolling calendar of all public meetings . . . (which we have on the council agenda page, but NOT on the main page)

• All public meetings should be after 5 PM during the work week.

• An online search engine portal of all public city documents (the city has something like this, but it is complicated and cumbersome)

• Answer constituent questions if possible during public input (the council used to do this but the practice was ended during the Huether administration).

• Have a weekly mayoral and separate council presser to answer media questions about the weekly agenda (and live stream it on YT).

• Stop limiting council debate during the meetings.

The last one is a new thing. During the past couple of council meetings there has been an effort to limit the council debate. I am not even sure where this is coming from, but it seems there now is an effort from council leadership and the mayor’s office to limit debate between councilors during first readings.

Open government is easy, and most times it costs nothing to do. I think our issues with zoning, homelessness and violent crime could be easier tasks to conquer if we just talked about them openly.

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.