Entries Tagged 'Open Meetings' ↓

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.

This is why Police Body Cams are Critical

I totally agree with Chief Thum, you cannot control human beings all the time;

Joseph Larson, 32, has been charged in a case stemming from an incident on July 24 when he used improper force while restraining a man who was under arrest, according to court documents. Police body camera and in-car camera footage shows Larson striking the man several times, including multiple times in the groin, while trying to secure a seat belt around him in the back of a patrol car.

This has been my argument for a long time, body cams are there to not only protect the officer but the citizen that is being arrested. Obviously in this case, he used excessive force. I guess my question though is was officer Larson relieved of duty immediately after the footage was sent to DCI or did he remain on the force until the AG decided to press charges? It is kind of unclear when he was booted?

“Upon learning about Officer Larson’s actions, he did not work another shift for the Sioux Falls Police Department and is again no longer a member of our department,” Thum said during police briefing.

This brings me to another long standing issue I have not only with the SFPD but with this administration as a whole. Besides the immense lack of transparency and the deep hatred towards open government, even when they are communicating to the public, they are very vague. When was he terminated? A date would be nice. Notice the incident happened July 24th and the arrest warrant did not occur until yesterday. What took so long? You also have to take into account that the city has another case pending that the SD Supreme Court threw back at the lower court. As far as we know, the officer(s) involved in that case still work for the city. Or do they? Nobody knows.

While I appreciate the action being taken against this bad apple, it would be nice to have some clarification about when the officer was terminated . . . oh . . . and if you have a suspect in custody yet for the shootout at the late night Taco Shop? Maybe we can ask the Tuthill ghost ðŸ˜Š

Is the lazy local Sioux Falls Media blowing off the City’s open meetings violations?

Of course they are. They don’t understand it (we will get to that in a moment) and they don’t want to ruffle feathers. It reminds of what Greg Belfrage said this morning on his show, about talking about politics at family events, he says he doesn’t. I believe him, because he doesn’t know a damn thing about politics and he is probably afraid he would embarrass himself, and he couldn’t hide from his liberal uncle by hanging up the phone on him while passing the gravy.

Many in the media have chosen to not talk about the open meetings violation because they have told the complainant that it is ‘too complicated’. A city official said that it is NOT a big deal and just an ‘ordinance violation’.

First it is NOT complicated and secondly, an open meetings violation is a big deal.

The city is required to have public input on items that are pulled from the consent agenda. Now mind you, if it is about spending $33 on a squirrel feeder at a park, probably NOT pressing, but still required, but this was about a liquor license for a bar with several questionable police calls and underage violations (the real story here), and the fact that the complainant had told many city officials she was going to speak about the item when pulled days in advance. I think the Chair of the meeting, Mayor Paul TenHaken did not call public input on purpose, because he didn’t want to hear what she had to say.

This is why this is IMPORTANT and should be shared in the media. You may not always agree with freedom of speech, but it is equal for all of us whether you want to talk about a gun stuck up your butt all day, a fertilized egg that has a heartbeat, that AR-15s are standard for EMTs, defunding the police or bars that are allowing teenagers to get pistol whipped when they illegally came into the adult establishment.

The simple, real story here is that the Mayor, Paul ‘Poops’ TenHaken violated the law by not allowing public input and a bar skirted any public rebuke because of a lazy, cowardly city staff and council and an oblivious media that doesn’t want to work to hard, if at all.

Is the infrastructure bill and January 6th investigations complicated? YES. And we have thousands of reports about them we can read every day. Is censoring public input complicated? F’CK NO! And we should have at least 2-3 local media reports about it. But we don’t.

Maybe if the meeting was held in a food truck?

Open Meetings Violation filed against the City of Sioux Falls today

You can read the full complaint HERE.

The complaint was filed at the Minnehaha County State’s Attorney office and the State AG’s office because there may be a conflict of interest. Once a report is filed it could move onto the Open Meetings Commission for consideration.

It has to do with not allowing public input on items that were pulled from the consent agenda in Tuesday night’s city council meeting that was riddled with many issues, including possible conflicts on items, a mysterious potty break and failure to notice an amendment 24 hours in advance on the garbage hauler notice.

The Chair of the Meeting, Mayor TenHaken, the City Attorney, Stacy Kooistra, City Clerk & Parlimentarian, Tom Greco and City Council Chair Curt Soehl are all mentioned in the complaint for failing to call for public input during the meeting.

As I mentioned to the Charter Revision Commission a couple of weeks ago, we have many issues with public input in this city that needs to be fixed but they accused me of ‘micro managing’ the meetings. Well it seems someone needs to manage these meetings, because our supposed leaders are not doing a very good job of it.

Charter Revision Commission changes meeting time for NO good reason

From today’s meeting, the good news is that they will be discussing my proposals* at November’s meeting. The bad news is that they changed the meeting time from 4 PM to 3:30 PM, I’m guessing due to the whining and crying of the 1st Amendment Hater City Attorney, Stacy Kooistra. This from the minutes of September’s meeting;

City Attorney Kooistra reminded the Commission of the process for Public Input and the need for items to be listed on the Agenda for discussion or voting purposes. He stated there may be a need to reschedule future meetings to earlier in the day to allow for additional time.

No mention of how I cut him off during public input by saying they couldn’t ask me questions.

During open discussion at the end of today’s meeting they discussed the change (I love how they must have dress rehearsal before the meeting to make sure they can slip this stuff in and make it look legit). Commissioner Carl Zylstra mentions he went and tried to find a meeting longer then last month’s meeting of 1 hour 30 minutes and he could only find one longer in July of 2019 which lasted 1 hour 48 minutes. They quickly moved into a discussion about moving the meetings to 3:30 PM so that they could have more time to discuss items before 5 PM which city attorney Kooistra argued was the time staff needed to leave (there is NOTHING in the Charter requiring boards to adhere to staffers work schedules, if I am wrong, please notate in the comments section and I will update).

Only Commissioner Anne Hajek (partially) objected and said that the later time is to better serve the public (attending). But it fell on deaf ears as they all agreed to have November’s meeting at 3:30 PM so staff could leave at 5 PM.

As I have argued these public meetings are for the PUBLIC, NOT the city staff and I was extremely disappointed in the CRC for caving to the whims of the city attorney and his ignorant objections to long meetings.

This is also contributing to the constant destruction of open and transparent government by this administration and his hitmen. Maybe no one participates in city government because the meeting times are inconvenient. Yup. And they continue their madness with this change.

*Commissioner Carl Zylstra suggested my proposal for having city directors have residency within Sioux Falls could be easily inserted into the charter. So I still have hope that at least one of my proposals will make the ballot 🙂

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.