Entries Tagged 'Theresa Stehly' ↓

Highlights of July Stehly Report

Dear Citizens, Happy Fourth of July to my dear Shopping News friends. I hope your gardens are vibrant and your air conditioners are working!! The weather conditions have produced a bumper crop of weeds and flowers in my yard. Thank the Lord for wonderful neighbor kids who are willing to help. We are reminded this week of the freedom we enjoy in our country. Many died to secure this for all of us. It is also the perfect time to reflect on our local government. Of course, it belongs to you, the citizens. Openness and transparency help to keep accountability in the governmental process. All the decisions we make, and the discussions we have, need to be open to the citizens. It’s your money, and your business. God Bless.


Councilor Janet Brekke and I are crafting an ordinance that would ban cell phone usage at the Council meetings. We would like to limit the practice of private communication during the meetings via text and email. We both have concerns about the type of private correspondence some of our colleagues might be sending and receiving during meetings and the effect that private conversations during open meetings can have on public trust in government. Citizens attending the meeting are given a very limited timeframe when they can speak. Allowing “special citizens” to have unfettered private dialogue with certain select council members via text/email is not appropriate or transparent. We don’t believe that Council members should ever be taking private directives/input from outside entities during a council meeting. Also being discussed is the practice of attending to personal business during the meeting and the practice of exchanging private strategies and dialogue among council members themselves during the meeting. Turning off the cell phone is a first step to ensure that integrity and accountability are being embraced at the meetings. City Council members make approximately $1400 a month to attend the meetings. We owe it to the citizens to shut off the phones and pay attention to the issues and public discussions at hand.


In a world of ever changing technology it is incumbent upon the City Council to reevaluate its policies and procedures to make sure that its public meetings are being conducted in a manner that insures the trust and integrity of the governmental process. The city council will be discussing three issues that have arisen as a result of electronic communications involving the use of cellphones and laptop computers during public meetings. The three issues are: 1) Select members of the public having private, unrestricted access to individual councilmembers through electronic means during public meetings; 2) Councilmembers having the ability to engage electronically with other councilmembers in private conversations during public meetings; 3) Councilmembers having the ability to conduct personal and private business during public meetings using electronic devices. The City of Sioux Falls is not unique. These discussions are occurring across the Country. If the process lacks integrity and is not respected, the decisions made will lack integrity and respect as well. The infusion of electronic communications into the governmental decision making process is a game changer. Is important and needs to be addressed by having appropriate legal and policy discussions. A multitude of issues come before the city council but our government structure is the legacy we leave behind and governs the conduct of our leaders now and in the future. It is important that we adapt to a changing environment by adopting policies and practices that create trust in government.


Last month, a group of volunteers, City staff and railroad crew worked on a Saturday morning to clean garbage from the railroad ditch from 5th Avenue to Covell Avenue. We collected over 1,000 pounds of garbage. It truly was a labor of love and we definitely “got our hands dirty!” We found knives, syringes, a couch, bicycle and tires among other repugnant things. Leaving the debris promotes flooding, rodents and overall sanitary issues. It would be wonderful if the railroad would find the funds to mow the long grass now that the garbage has been removed.

What’s going on with Frank Olson Pool?

Councilor Stehly recently sent this notice out;

As we enter into the warmth of summer, I invite you to buy a pass to our outdoor pools. Last year I enjoyed swimming laps at the large traditional Frank Olson pool, located on east 18th street.  This pool is a wonderful addition to our “Water Park” pools. I have encouraged Don Kearney from the Parks Department to develop more activities for adults like lap swimming, water walking and Zumba classes during the noon hour and the evening family swim. Last summer at Drake springs Adults could bring in their own beverage and listen to upbeat music during the noon activities. All pools need to offer the same attractions.

The summer passes are very reasonable and can be purchased at any pool. (Children $30, Adult $70, Senior $40, Veteran, $40, Family $100, reduced income adult $40, Reduced income family $50.)

She has been concerned that Frank Olson pool is on the chopping block. She noticed Thursday night that there are NO extra activities scheduled at the pool.

She had requested extra signage be installed off 18th street and that they add a noon adult time with music, water walking and lap swimming. Hasn’t happened yet.

Alex Jensen to run for At-Large seat currently held by Stehly

Let’s talk about getting in the game early. I guess his treasurer, Matt Paulson wants to get a head’s up on the game. I guess it takes awhile to raise $100K.

You may remember when Alex was in the legislature, he had to move out of his district 12, but before he resigned that position he decided to take out papers to run in his new district 13, then he lost.

Is this best you could find Paulson?


UPDATE: TenHaken could have killed Village on the River before it got this far

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the bonds were sold before PTH came into office. So if he would have killed the project, it likely would have cost us in fines. I think I predicted about $2 million at the time. But in hindsight it would have saved us in the long run, because now we have a structure without a private partner.

Over on the WussCollege chief talking mouth, Pitty, is trying to defend the mayor’s position on the parking ramp. But early on PTH could have killed the project, and did not. As one commenter said;

When Mayor TenHaken took office, he announced his administration was vetting the project and development agreement and subsequently endorsed the project during a press conference in July 2018

I also find it a bit ironic that while Pitty likes to throw Stehly under the bus, she is the only one (with Starr) who has tried to stop this project while Pitty’s buddies Neitzert and Erickson steamed forward.

VIDEO BELOW is last night’s CC meeting;

So why didn’t PTH stop the project before it got this far? As someone put it to me last night, he didn’t have a legal team in place at that time that knew their heads from a hole in the ground. While I commended PTH last night for killing the project, he really could have stopped it much sooner. While real leaders do get things done, they also get things done right and know how to say NO when necessary. It seems the only two leaders we have right now in city government is Stehly and Starr who had the vision and foresight to know this was doomed from the very beginning.

Mayor Paul TenHaken’s office plays the bait and switch again tonight, or is it less complicated then that?

I’m actually surprised a good X-Tian like PTH doesn’t know what the NT has said about hypocrites;

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. – James 1:22

So this has happened three times now;

Stehly and Starr suggest we fund pothole fillin’ more, resolution gets voted down yet the mayor sends out an army to fill potholes (a couple an hour).

Stehly and Starr suggest Events Center Book Club meetings are open to the public, resolution gets voted down (or thrown out) can’t remember. Mayor opens up the meetings (yet no recordings have happened yet).

Tonight, happens again, Starr and Stehly suggest the housing summit’s registration is FREE and video recorded. It fails in a 4/3 vote with mayor breaking tie. But during the discussion, Tea, SD resident and Housing Director for SF, Chellac Unruh announces the fee will be waived (for the poor folk) and it will be video recorded.

So if Stehly and Starr’s resolutions are so bad and fail to pass, why is the mayor implementing the policy anyway?

Oh, right, that thing about being a hypocrite, I forgot.

Stehly responds to ED Board

I couldn’t have said it better myself, and for the record I never saw this response until I read it online a few minutes ago. I know some people think that I ‘feed’ Theresa stuff, but I have often contended she is her own person;

I will continue to make decisions and take actions to support, inform and protect the citizens I am pledged to represent.  I refuse to go along to get along as the Editorial Board suggests. I will continue to promote constituent concerns while reaching out to help the taxpayers. They are the boss and taxpayer revenues are theirs. I will strive to make prudent, informed decisions, even if my colleagues don’t agree with me.

Yes Theresa, unfortunately it’s all about the Reindeer Games in Sioux Falls.

Does Sioux Falls City Councilor Stehly already have a challenger?

I know, pretty crazy considering a Sioux Falls City Council election is about a year away. Besides that, Stehly hasn’t decided whether she will run for a second term, she has a long time to decide.

This all started about a month ago when a new comer to city politics who worships the ground PTH walks on and is a local entrepreneur (or something) said he would raise $100K to whoever would run against Stehly.

It seems he has found his guinea pig.

Until I get it confirmed from a couple more sources, I will only say this prospect is a young professional in the community (30’s) who had a short stint in the SD legislature and is a devote Republican.

I know them, and they are intelligent and very capable of giving Stehly a run for her money. But I also think there will be other challengers.

Never thought I would be talking about the the 2020 city election this early, but it also doesn’t surprise me with how this current council and mayor has been performing.

Sioux Falls Board of Ethics, April 25, 2019

Surprise, surprise Sioux Falls government ethics is in question. The Sioux Falls Board of Ethics was asked what should have been a simple question by City Councilor Theresa Stehly on April 25, 2019.

Can a developer, who is planning a major downtown project where they will be pitching a $24 million tax break, host a food and booze event without an ethics violation being levied against the invited city officials?

Anything can be can be questioned if it has de Minimis or nominal value. Even if there is no minimum or maximum value, if there is no minimum or maximum time period, it can be an ethical conflict. If dots can be shown or perceived or the optics can make it look bad, it is an ethical conflict. These have been the rulings in two previous decisions of the Board of Ethics.

What we learned in this meeting, apparently this does not apply to City Council or department staff if a developer wants to wine and dine the right people.

This was a preemptive advisory request by Stehly, not a post event ethics violation she was asking the Board to rule on.

The Board decided, since there is no “crime” yet, there was nothing they could do to preemptively advise the people in their jurisdiction to not attend the heavy food and alcoholic drink event designed to soften the $24 million TIF request.

The previous ruling requests were preemptive in nature, so was this one. Explain this to the cops and librarians, how South Dakota has only ethics laws affecting them (kind of).

UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Councilor Stehly asks for advisory opinion

UPDATE: The Ethics board determined they could not make a decision because they didn’t have evidence that the City Council would vote on TIFs. Stehly told them there was an Argus Leader article on it, but she didn’t have it with her though Bruce offered to show it on his tablet. Since they are quasi-judicial they have to have the physical evidence.

Bruce pointed out at the end of the meeting during public input that it was unfortunate that they did not offer an opinion because now if there are pictures of city officials and city councilors at the event and later they have to make a decision on TIFs, ethics violations could be filed against them for accepting gifts before the vote. The Ethics Board could get very busy next month.

The meeting will be at 10:30 AM this Thursday at City Hall. Stehly is asking if it is ‘ethical’ to be accepting FREE ‘Food & Drink’ from a developer that will be potentially asking for a TIF from the very people who are being asked to attend this event.

Personally, if I was a city councilor, I would NOT attend the reception portion of the event. It not only looks unethical, it likely is unethical. This will be an interesting Ethics Board meeting to watch and what laws are applicable. In South Dakota where we have very few ethics laws for lawmakers I could easily see a ruling either way.

Councilor Neitzert finally talks about the Internal Auditor nomination

With a 5:30 special meeting vote taking place this afternoon, Neitzert finally says ‘something’ about his nomination, or is this about Stehly?

“This is a shameful and disappointing display of city leadership.”In a recent press release, City Councilor Greg Neitzert responds to this weeks Audit Manager Nominee robo-calls put out by fellow council member – Theresa Stehly.  Neitzert also refers to the calls against nominee Shana Nelson, as scorched earth tactics.

I guess Neitzert is admitting Stehly is a ‘Leader’. He often uses the ‘scorched earth’ argument anytime Stehly does something radical to get the public’s attention. Did she have much of a choice? NO one from the audit committee or from council was telling anyone about the nomination and her obvious conflict of interest.

Original press release:  “While many families were celebrating Easter, they were interrupted by an unsolicited and misleading phone call (“robocall”) from Councilor Theresa Stehly intended to provoke anger and distrust within our community.  We urge citizens to hear both sides before making any judgments.

Not everyone in our community celebrates ‘Easter’. In fact pulling a Christian Religious holiday into the argument would seem to me a reverse usage of ‘Scorched Earth’ tactic. How dare people be bothered by local politics (call went out on Saturday) when they are trying to eat their hams and chocolate Easter bunnies, the shame! The Shame! I do agree to listen to both sides, because anyone with common sense will see that Mrs. Nelson has a gigantic conflict of interest.

Shana Nelson, an outstanding city employee with financial expertise, a background in accounting, budgeting, regulatory compliance and business process improvement, and extensive knowledge of city operations, is exceptionally qualified for the position of Internal Audit Manager.  That’s why the hiring committee, made up of 3 City Councilors (Neitzert, Soehl, and Starr) and one citizen with extensive audit experience UNANIMOUSLY recommended her to the City Council for appointment.

While she has a great resume, she has NO audit experience. She is also married to a city director who runs the parking division and pushed through the parking ramp downtown (that is rumored to be in limbo). Neither of those things really matter. Her conflict lies in the fact she would be in charge of auditing departments that she worked for. And while some would argue this helps her know her way around things, it also makes it much easier for her to ‘skip over’ the bad stuff. In other words, an independent auditor needs to be ‘independent’ and by coming from the administration where she actually implemented their financial software, there will be NO independence from them. An internal auditor is not supposed to be ‘cozy’ with the departments she is auditing. I’m not saying the internal auditor needs to be a total ass-pipe, but they have to be independent and willing to expose fraud and corruption regardless of who is committing it, otherwise there is NO purpose of having an internal auditor that is just going to babysit and be a hand holder. Neitzert has admitted they would use an outside auditing firm to audit the sensitive departments that Nelson would have conflicts with. Doesn’t she have a conflict with the ENTIRE city administration?!

Far from being “ram rodded”, this process has taken months to get where we are today.  An unprecedented amount of communication and involvement of the City Council took place, with the City Council agreeing on a hiring process, and all Councilors given the opportunity to review ALL of the applicants and the opportunity to interview and meet individually with the recommended candidate.  Placing this item on the agenda of the special meeting required SIX of the eight City Councilors – a SUPER MAJORITY – to sign a document approving the request.  Normally only two signatures are required to place an item on the agenda of a regular meeting.  Without those six signatures, we would not be considering this request.

This isn’t about what the council ‘knew’. This is about allowing the citizens to also vet Mrs. Nelson. The public didn’t know about her appointment until last Friday at about 3:30 PM when she showed up on the agenda. There is also NO biographical information about Mrs. Nelson. This is about informing the public, not about executive sessions the council had about her.

These scorched earth tactics are done with no regard for others, and is motivated by a win at all costs, ends justifies the means mentality.

Nobody really wins here. As I understand it, it will take 5 votes to hire Mrs. Nelson. They have the 5 votes. The real loser here is the public, because we have a majority of the council that is willing to hire someone with a blatant conflict of interest.

This could have a chilling effect in our efforts to recruit future City employees who will have to ask themselves why they should put themselves and their families through these types of antics.  This is a shameful and disappointing display of city leadership.”

Recruit city employees? You didn’t ‘recruit’ anyone. She already works for the city. The administration is actually losing a valuable employee in the financial department (and strangely they have NOT objected – and why would they, they now have an insider on the audit side). Recruiting an actual internal auditor would have taken a national search using a recruiting firm to do so, instead of the city’s HR department. Greg is right, this will have a ‘chilling’ effect on the city, because we are essentially saying our internal auditing department is NOT important while having the fox watch the hen house.