Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Jan 19, 2021

Editor’s Note: I didn’t see it on the agenda, but their is rumor floating around at city hall that there is a plan to tear down the McKennan Park Band Shell because it has gone into disrepair (have we heard this one before) and that it would cost around a half to a million to fix. This may be another game the administration is playing to get private money raised to fix it. But we still ask the question, if the rumor is true, why aren’t these facilities being maintained by the Parks Department? Where is the money going?

Informational, 4 PM

• Hayward Park Master Plan Update

• Housing Fund, this program looks like a good start on something I have been pushing for over a decade, incentivize core neighborhood housing cleanup with tax incentives. I obviously don’t know all the details, but it will be interesting to see what this is.

Regular Meeting, 6 PM

6. Approval of Contracts;

Sub item #7, This agreement extends the use of Peakon in benchmarking employee engagement strategy, landscape, resources and project ricks. Core product subscription fees are attached, Peakon APS, To Establish Pricing, $160K (I couldn’t really tell you what this is but another leadership/manager training program. I’m starting to wonder if city managers work or just go to classes all day?)

Sub item #8, Agreement to provide Nutrition, Day Break Adult Care, Recreation, Social and Educational Activities, Workers on Wheels and Senior Insurance and Information Referrals, Active Generations, $60K. (While I am not opposed to helping this organization out, I’m trying to wrap my head around why it comes out of the Parks and Recreation budget? Another reach around with budgeting. This should just be a General Fund expense.)

Sub item #11, Citywide Interior Design, Provide interior design services, TSP, to establish pricing (Maybe the city should hire an art buyer and an apparel consultant for the city directors and their offices? Maybe we should also hire a professional chef to cater in food to them? Sorry, but how hard is it to put up a cubicle wall or pick out a cheap chair?!)

Sub item #12, Sioux Falls School District Transportation Funding Agreement, $78,515 (once again the city is supplementing the school district. I guess if they can’t get what they want by raising our property taxes they will also go after our sales taxes.)

Item #41, Ordinance, 1st Reading, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, GRANTING A NONEXCLUSIVE NATURAL GAS FRANCHISE TO NORTHWESTERN CORPORATION, DOING BUSINESS AS NORTHWESTERN ENERGY, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, TO FURNISH AND SELL NATURAL GAS TO THE CITY AND ITS INHABITANTS. (this will basically give NW the right to lay pipe with MidAmerican in new developments. I assume it will not affect customers who already get gas from MidAmerican. I’m all for it, I think the competition is good. I wish we had the option for electricity in Sioux Falls.)

Item #42, A RESOLUTION ADVISING AND GIVING CONSENT TO THE APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS TO CERTAIN CITIZEN BOARDS. I find it interesting that we are appointing a banker to the Main Street BID board;

Darrell Schmith, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for First PREMIER Bank, 33 years of financial experience, Volunteered with several organizations including Habitat for Humanity and the Helpline Center.

UPDATE: Who is running for Sioux Falls Mayor or City Council in 2022?

UPDATE: I got some more names thrown in the bucket. Matt Paulson has confirmed with me that at this time he is NOT planning on running for council. I have also heard from others that Joe Kippley, senior director of strategic partnerships at Sanford Imagenetics is interested in running for SE District that will be left open by Rick Kiley. I have also heard that Julian Julian Beaudion is interested in running for an At-Large position. Keep the updates coming!

Believe it or not, another city council and mayoral election is only a year from this April. I expect challengers to TenHaken to make an announcement this summer and council candidates in the Fall.

So who is done and who will run for those seats? I’m not sure, but have heard some speculation and rumors.

TenHanken’s 1st term ends in 2022. I am still not convinced he is running again, but I do expect some others to run whether he chooses to or not. Christine Erickson, Mike Huether, Greg Jamison and David Zoikates (He has already announced). While Paul hasn’t been real popular with me, he does have a good popularity rating with voters and if he chose to seek a second term he would be hard to beat.

At-Large, Janet Brekke. My guess is that Janet will run for a 2nd term, but she has plenty of time to decide.

At-Large Christine Erickson. Her 2nd term is up, and like I said, I think she may run for Mayor.

So who would run for those seats? I am not sure. Some names that has been thrown around is immigrant activist Taneeza Islam or Investor Matt Paulson.  But I think there are many candidates that want to run, like Zach DeBoer and Handsome Tom Hurlbert, but they may go after the low hanging fruit and challenge Curt Soehl in Central District who is also up in 2022. I’m not sure if Curt will seek a 2nd term, he doesn’t seem to like the job very much, he’s usually grumpy, sarcastic or both at the meetings.

In the Southeast, Ricky Lee Kiley’s 2nd term is up in 2022, but I can’t hardly speculate who would want to run in the Taupeville district. I’m sure it will be some dull moderate Republican.

I would like to see some changes, for instance in the At-Large, since two seats are up, they should just give the two seats to the two highest vote getters instead splitting up the races.

Tell me your thoughts on who you like to see run or changes to the election like ranked choice voting which would eliminate run-offs.

Does Noem really care about Main Street South Dakota?

Don’t get me wrong, I will admit, I order stuff online. But I always try to find stuff locally first. Between thrift stores, retail and groceries 99% of my purchases are in Sioux Falls and when I can, I try to buy from locally owned businesses. Like I said, I am not perfect, but am also NOT the Governor of South Dakota.

What puzzles me is that while our governor talks about wanting to grow local businesses, we really know she plays the back door Washington game of licking the boots of corporate America. So that is why it didn’t surprise me when I saw her Christmas card this year she ordered from an online printing company and a design studio out of California. CALIFORNIA! Don’t get me wrong, it was nice, and many of my family members and friends did the same thing, but like myself, many did not. They used a local photographer or printer. I have been coordinating with local poet Charles Luden for around 20+ years to create a unique card each year, and we always print locally. This is 2020;

I am wondering why the Governor of our state didn’t use a local printer in Pierre? There are several.

No skin off my back, and I don’t really give two-sh!ts, but the next time Donita claims to care about Main Street South Dakota, it starts with the small things like ordering your Christmas card from the printer in your town.

Sioux Falls City Council Public input about Public Input

At the meeting Tuesday night I spoke about two subjects; Covid Tourism (FF 20:00) and Prior Restraint (FF 30:50)

Will Sioux Falls ever get a PUBLIC drive thru vaccination site?

At the Mayor’s Covid press conference on Monday, a doctor from one of the hospitals in town was asked if Sioux Falls would ever get a drive thru vaccination site. He carefully answered the question that it could be a possibility, but said since we are getting such low supplies that it probably wouldn’t happen.

While he is correct that the supply chain is kind of a joke, if that improves, could we do this? Sure, but this isn’t about giving the vaccination this is about WHO is giving the vaccination. The unofficial rumor is the two hospitals get $15 for every dose they administer. While the public probably won’t have to pay for that dosage out of pocket, we are essentially paying for it through our taxes.

This all came up because I guess many people have been asking the City of Sioux Falls if they could set up a public drive-thru vaccination site using nursing students, other volunteers and Falls Community Health employees instead of using our private health systems. I guess the rumor is the city is saying that they must have trained professionals to do this from the health systems.

Kind of sounds like this is about the Benjamins and not supply.

It also brings up the question if people don’t use one of the hospitals as their provider can they go somewhere else to get a vaccination in Sioux Falls like Falls Community Health or a pharmacy especially if they don’t want to share their private information with a provider that is NOT theirs?

It will be interesting to see if people will be given a public option to receive the vaccination in Sioux Falls.

National Coalition Against Censorship: When Can Speech Be Punished?

American free speech advocates have consistently defended the right of individuals to engage in offensive speech, including speech which many observers might deem “hate speech.” In the wake of the riot on Capitol Hill, many critics have argued that the violence was sparked by comments made by President Trump and some of his allies, and that therefore they should be prosecuted or otherwise punished. Assuming that the violence was caused by speech, can free expression advocates support punishment for the speaker while still supporting the legal protections for “hate speech” or other offensive speech?

Short answer: Yes.

“Hate speech” laws seek to punish opinion. Punishing opinion is, and should be, forbidden. No person or group that happens to hold power at any given time should be permitted to determine what others are allowed to think. However certain narrow types of speech that go beyond mere expression of opinion can sometimes be unprotected by the First Amendment.

Why Is Hate Speech Protected?

There is no “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment; hence, there is no legal definition of what, precisely, constitutes “hate speech” in the United States. However, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights does have a hate speech provision (Article 20), which states that “any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence shall be prohibited by law.” As a result, many other countries have outlawed “hate speech.” Under those laws, a book by bell hooks has been confiscated in Canada for including what authorities deemed to be anti-male hate speech; Catalan protesters in Spain have been fined for burning photographs of the king of Spain; and a British citizen was convicted for exhibiting a poster after the 9/11 attacks which depicted the Twin Towers in flame and included the words, “Islam out of Britain – Protect the British People.”

As these examples make clear, “hate speech” laws permit the punishment of the mere expression of an opinion deemed offensive. That’s why such laws are unconstitutional in the United States, for the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld that “the public expression of ideas may not be prohibited merely because the ideas are themselves offensive to some of their hearers.”

When Is Offensive Speech NOT Protected by the First Amendment?

Speech which is merely offensive is always protected by the First Amendment. However, some types of speech which are often conflated with “hate speech,” but which go beyond expressions of opinion can, in limited circumstances, be unprotected by the First Amendment.

Let’s talk about incitement to violence and harassment.

Incitement to violence, including incitement to racial violence, is not protected by the First Amendment. This is a very narrow exception; mere advocacy of violence cannot be made criminal “except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” Three elements must be met: (1) the speaker must intend to cause violence, (2) he or she must intend that the violence occur immediately, and (3) the violence must be likely to occur immediately.

The distinction between incitement and “hate speech” is illustrated by the Supreme Court’s decision in Wisconsin v. Mitchell.  In that case, several young Black men were discussing the movie Mississippi Burning, which is about the Civil Rights Movement. One of the men said, “Do you all feel hyped up to move on some white people?” and, when a young white boy approached, said, “You all want to fuck somebody up? There goes a white boy; go get him.” The group then assaulted the boy, and the speaker was charged with assault, plus a hate crime enhancement. Was Mr. Mitchell’s speech “hate speech”? It’s arguable. But his speech was much more than the mere expression of opinion; it was a call to immediate violence. 

Harassment is distinct from “hate speech” because it goes beyond mere expression of opinion and targets a particular person for harm. The threshold for speech rising to the level of illegal harassment is generally quite high. Anti-harassment laws often refer to speech directed at a particular person, based on the victim’s race, religion, or other group characteristic, and which has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with, for example, a student’s educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment. 

These exceptions to the protections of the First Amendment are very narrow, but they are well established. Civil libertarians and supporters of free expression–including protest, writing and art–can and should support the right to express hateful opinions, but can draw a clear line that no one has a right to incite a riot or to harass another person.   

See this primer at

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Jan 12, 2021

Informational Meeting • 4 PM

• Tuthill House Resource Group: Thursday, January 7, 2021 (Council Member Brekke)

• Vacant Home Registration Fees For Historic Districts and Non-Historic Districts by Matt Tobias, Planning and Development Services Manager; and Diane deKoeyer, Neighborhood And Preservation Planner. As you can see, the city continues to NOT post documents in advance on SIRE to review before the meeting, so I have NO idea what this is about. I’m not a realtor or a rental home owner so my best guess is the city wants to register vacant homes on some list? Or charge for it? If anyone knows, send me a note.

Regular Meeting • 6 PM

Item #6, Approval of Contracts;

Sub Item #7, School Park Site Coordination – Marion Road Utility Relocate;
Amendment to relocation agreement, Xcel Energy, $42K. While I have no doubt this needs to be done AND Xcel has to do it, I wonder why the SFSD isn’t paying for this? The city isn’t building a new school, they are.

Sub Item #12, Option to Extend: Extending agreement for after-hours
answering service for various City departments, Helpline Center, $17,500. While the city DOES need a service, I don’t understand why this can’t just be electronic? Heck, even when you call city departments during the work week you rarely get a real person. I have called city councilor’s office numbers, the water department, the public works department, the attorney’s office and the mayors office and rarely had a real person answer during the day. I will say that when I do leave a message I do get a return call. I always chuckle how our Mayor consistently talks about 5G and taking on technological advances for the city but operates it like it is the 1960’s. We have a city council agenda page and video system that continues to fail, we have a city website that is nearly impossible to navigate and virtually have zero access to administrative actions (like ethics insurance). I have also heard from city employees that the city is extremely vulnerable to hacking. What this city needs is an IT Director that will come in and overhaul the entire system without the mayor tying their hands for accolades about free atta-boy coins and lapel pins.

Item #16-17, Resolutions, A RESOLUTION VACATING A PORTION OF THE ARROWHEAD PARKWAY RIGHT OF WAY, AS SHOWN ON EXHIBIT A. (Tracts 2-3 Willows Edge Addition) The hearing is going to be set for February 9. I’m not sure if this has to do with the controversy that happened early last year where several folks showed up to the Parks Board meeting and protested to vacation. We will see.

Item #18, Ordinance, A MOTION TO RECONSIDER AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, PROVIDING A PROVISIONAL ONE-TIME SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION TO FUND A COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH EDUCATION CAMPAIGN. (Health, $100,000) (The ordinance was considered at the meeting of January 5, 2021.) Last week there was talk that this will go towards an education program about getting a vaccination. While I agree with that, I don’t know why we are paying an outside ad agency to create this program as mentioned at the meeting. The city’s media department could easily create a PSA and put it on CityLink. They could also post on YouTube and Facebook at NO cost to taxpayers. We already pay city employees at Falls Community Health, The Health Director and Media services, we don’t need to waste $100K on an outside agency that will essentially tell people ‘Get a shot.’ On top of that, after the media department created the PSA they could distribute to the local TV stations and ask them to play it. We could also adapt it for radio and ask them to do the same. This is just another clever way the administration is finding a way to funnel money to his pals in the advertising world. The good news is that his former(?) ad agency will NOT be getting the contract. I guess they probably figured it would be hard for them to create a PSA about Covid Safety and Vaccination after running a campaign that promoted Covid Tourism.

Also, who doesn’t already know about the Covid vaccinations? It has been on the news for over a month. Sure there will be people that don’t want to get one, but at this point, it is NOT about education, it’s about getting enough doses in arms of the people who do want to get one. Shouldn’t we be getting them through the line first before worrying about the Q-NON anti-vaxxer weirdos?

Noem is just as delusional as her mentor

When I first read this op-ed, I thought to myself, ‘Is Noem even qualified to be governor?’ I know she isn’t, but if you had any doubts, you don’t anymore. It has to be one of the most unprofessional, delusional op-ed’s I have ever read by a politician. Besides being littered with lies and false accusations, it reads more like a crazy rant from your right wing uncle than the leader of a state. Let’s review and debunk this scripted piece of garbage;

And there are many in our party who are eager to blame President Trump both for the violence in Washington and for the results of the senate elections in Georgia.

Because he is to blame, McFly. Not only did he incite the protestors, in Georgia he told his supporters to NOT trust the election process. Why would they vote?!

Republicans got our butts kicked in Georgia on Tuesday. A 33-year-old with no accomplishments and a smooth-talking preacher wiped the floor with us. The idea that Georgia, of all places, could elect two communists to the United States Senate was ridiculous.

Okay, a lot to break down there. Remember when Kristi was elected to the US Congress she was around 40, had no college degree and her only real accomplishment was inheriting her dad’s ranch. She really hasn’t accomplished much more since then. Kettle meet black. As for her comments about Warnock, he has an amazing resume of being a civil rights champion in Georgia. Let’s also not forget that their opponents were both investigated for insider trading.

In the last sentence she really knocks the BS out of the park. Her veiled bigotry is on full display when she questions how a Jew and a Black minister could be elected in the state, she almost is saying how dare they ran and how dare people voted for them. And what the heck does Kristi know about Georgia?

As for the communist comment, it would be easy to go on a long rant, but I will keep it brief. They are not communists. They may fit the bill as Democratic Socialists, but that is the country we live in, by definition; a socialist system of government achieved by democratic means. We pay taxes and in return, we collectively receive social benefits. Like roads, public schools, law enforcement and military protection. Some others receive higher education and housing assistance. Others get food assistance and millions of older Americans get Social Security and Medicare. We have been a socialist democracy for well over 100 years. This is why many people running for higher office don’t deny it. Calling someone a communist because they don’t believe in your political leanings is just childish an incredibly idiotic. It quite possibly is one of the stupidest things she has ever stated.

Our country has changed. We have failed to educate generations of our children about what makes America unique. Few, if any of them, have been taught the history of our decades-long fight to defeat communism. Meanwhile, the left’s indoctrination takes place every day with kids all across America from the time they walk into a school at age 5 to the time they graduate college at 22.

She is partially correct, but let’s clarify. The problem with our public education system isn’t a communist plot of indoctrination its that they don’t teach students civics anymore. They couldn’t tell you the difference between a democracy or a communist nation, let alone what authoritarian fascism is or anarchy. They are being taught NOTHING. I agree that we need to educate our children about government, but they are not learning about communist plots at school they are learning them around the dinner table from their parents instead of enlightened educators.

Our party has some serious work ahead of us. We are going to have to sit down and collectively answer a very simple question: Why does America need Republicans?

The answer to that is very simple: 2020.

2020 is a prime example of why we need to get rid of Republicans. They almost destroyed our democracy in 12 short months.

What is so troubling is that by April, we knew that there was a specific vulnerable population that we needed to protect from COVID-19. 

You did?! If you knew this why didn’t you use that information to protect those in nursing homes? Instead they became Covid death camps because of your pathetic inaction. Noem did nothing. And when we started to surge, she grabbed a couple SD Highway patrolman at our expense and flew around the country campaigning for her sugar daddy. F’ing disgusting.

In 2020, despite the virus, if you wanted to riot, loot, and burn buildings down, the government either stood idly by while you did that, or worse, tacitly encouraged the destruction.

Actually that happened in 2021 just a few days ago when the Capital Police opened the doors for them and took selfies. Where were your party leaders on Wednesday Kristi? Golfing? Hiding in a bunker? Or maybe a basement TV studio dialed in to Newsmax. Recently a university professor (sorry, I saw her on PBS and can’t remember her name) studied protests in 2020, she determined that 93% of BLM protests across the nation were non-violent. While I am concerned that the other 7% were violent, let’s really put this in perspective folks.

What we lived in 2020 is the left’s vision for America.

I thought the people that held the White House and the Senate in 2020 were Republicans? Oh, that’s right, they were. It was under Republican leadership that we had to endure all of this mayhem mostly due to the rhetoric coming out of the White House and the inaction in the Senate. THOSE WERE YOUR PEOPLE KRISTI! This is why they were voted out. It’s not rocket science.

America is unique in the world because we have a government that is limited in its powers, and our people are guaranteed certain, God-given liberties. We are not governed by aristocrats, elites, or experts. We the people are the government.

So why are you denying South Dakotans desire to decriminalize marijuana? And why is our AG still walking as a free man? The ‘people’ would like to know.

President Eisenhower said, “We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.”

Maybe you should tell Trump that. Maybe you could tweet it to him . . . oh that’s right, nevermind.

It is not even enough to say, “vote for us because we will fight against abortion or Obamacare or whatever else.”

I hate to break it to you, but legalized abortion will never go away. In fact I expect Congress to move on a bill that puts it on the books so the SCOTUS can’t touch it. I do agree that there is hope ACA will go away, and be replaced with a Medicare for all single payer system and a majority of Americans agree.

The Republican Party respects people as individuals. We don’t divide people based on their religion or their roots. We don’t ostracize people who think for themselves. We understand that each person is different.

All the Republican party has done over the past 4 years is divide people, you have been doing it in our state for almost 50 years.

Our Republican Party respects everyone equally under the Constitution and treats them as Martin Luther King, Jr. wished . . .

Oh the irony of Kristi quoting MLK while calling the pastor of King’s former church a smooth-talking preacher. That’s rich coming from a smooth-talking politician like yourself.

We must go into this battle for freedom with our eyes wide open, educated to the tactics the radical left will use, and yet totally pure in our motives. 

And who is this radical left you speak of? Joe Biden? LOL. More like a radical old moderate. Keep chasing the mice in your head Kristi. Maybe one of these days you’ll rope one of them, you might even be able to get some college credits for it.

I support protest, with WORDS

“The pen is mightier than the sword” were first written by novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839, in his historical play Cardinal Richelieu.

And he is correct. It is a short sentence I have embraced most of my life, your words hold power, they hold even more power when they are truthful and righteous and when you deliver them with confidence and peace.

I think the first time I showed up at Carnegie town hall to speak about injustice in our city was in 2003 when the council voted to shut down the LOOP. Passionate citizens voiced their opinions about it. I think I talked about my opposition to street closures (which was a failed amendment). I think speech is more powerful than guns and insurrection. Freedom is FREE, Speak Out!

When I watched these anti-democratic protesters yesterday storm the US Capital based on the lies that have been fed to them by an unqualified president, one thing came to mind;

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” Hillary Clinton said. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.”

She said the other half of Trump’s supporters “feel that the government has let them down” and are “desperate for change.”

“Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well,” she said.

The people who stormed the capital yesterday were not freedom loving Americans, they were deplorables.

While I don’t agree with many decisions made in DC, Pierre or at City Hall, I don’t take up arms or glorify one leader over another, I speak out.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Self-evident. Think about that. Reality is right in front of us, it is not created or manufactured.

If you want to make change, you do it with words. I have never accomplished change in this community with the sword, I have only done it with the pen. Condemn those who use lies and violence to push their agenda, only those who speak the truth under an olive branch deserve the power to transform our lives.

Sioux Falls City Council discusses Ethics Attorney insurance at informational meeting

A South DaCola foot soldier sent this to me last week when I first posted about this;

Sioux Falls Human Resources Director Bill O’Toole sent an email on December 17, 2020 to let city of Sioux Falls elected officials know there will be changes in the South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance (SDPAA) policy for 2021. There are changes in it, that makes a person think, after the Neitzert impeachment, it was the result of falling out of the crazy tree and hitting every branch on the way down in order to protect the mayor and anyone connected to the illegal trips and other questionable actions.

Mayor and City Councilors,

The City will soon renew its Liability Coverage for calendar year 2021 with the South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance (SDPAA). I wanted take this opportunity to provide a general overview as we are about to enter the new year.

As an optional special endorsement, a new defense coverage is being offered for this upcoming calendar year for any public entities who have created their own ethics board. If a Member elects to purchase this additional coverage, then this special endorsement will provide an expert attorney to defend an elected official from the moment an ethics complaint is filed and through the entire administrative processing of that complaint from the hearing(s) before the public entity’s ethics board to the conclusion of any appeal hearing(s) before the local governing body (city council). This defense coverage will cover up to $10,000 in attorney fees and expenses per occurrence, or up to $20,000 aggregate for any calendar year. Please be aware that SDPAA panel counsel are retained at more competitive rates than those retained independently. This special endorsement will represent an additional annual premium of $7,500.00 and the Human Resources Department is in the process of securing this special endorsement for 2021.

Note how this additional coverage is only available to South Dakota members of SDPAA which have something called an “ethics process”. Why don’t they offer the other SDPAA members who don’t have an “ethics process” in their jurisdiction? It will only cover unethical behavior or accusations thereof if the jurisdiction has a pseudo ethics process. In other words, this is a corruption insurance rider. If a citizen or government entity decides there might have been unethical behavior caused by one of their elected officials, such as all-expense paid trip bordering on criminal tax evasion or at least unethical quid pro quo self-serving actions, SDPAA will now have additional coverage to pay for the defense of a Neitzert like clone or other elected officials when the offensive behavior is brought to light.

The Board of Ethics is a lay board of citizens, usually without legal background or training. Just thoughtful citizens of high integrity. The Board is not a court of law or does it have the ability to hand down legal conclusions. Board of Ethics decisions are not based on the low bar of legality but a higher bar of principles in their oath of office, promising high standards of moral, fair, non-political and conflict-free actions. The ethics board is not a legal body, only a board there to assist a city person find the ethical response to an issue or if a complaint, the probable cause the person did something which offends the senses of the community.

In Sioux Falls, our ethics board has as a charter function, to decide if ethical lapses occurred in a decision or action of a Sioux Falls government person. The only decision the ethics board can make when the question is presented, “was the issue raised frivolous or was there probable cause for the complaint”. If probable cause for the ethics complaint is found, the issue is then decided by the City Council and punishment if found is meted out.

Remember, the ethics board cannot find or decide a legal issue. Legality is not in the board’s purview. There simply is no legal decision the ethics board can make or find, only if there was a breach of a higher standard called ethics. There are criminal courts for legal issues with all the protections due criminal complaints.

This action by the SDPAA, if purchased by the city of Sioux Falls, will be to endorse the idea of the city paying for the defense, prosecution and exoneration of their elected officials at bargain basement legal rates. This paid for legal assistance for the elected person will start at the moment a complaint affidavit is filed in the city attorney’s office before there is any action other than a question was raised.

Note the policy will not cover employees who have been accused of the illegal or unethical behaviors only the mayor and city council members. This is corruption insurance for our elected officials, paid for by us by way of our taxes, to possibly make unethical behavior easier?

The current executive director of SDPAA is the former ringmaster of Sioux Falls city questionable behavior. When he was chief legal officer of the city, he made so many questionable things possible, to actually make them happen and then created the cover needed to make it look legal. Remember the Event Center siding study that was to be conducted and never happened? The Spellerberg MOU needed to build an indoor pool on borrowed land? A parking ramp to nowhere? A needed office building, just to satisfy the mayor who built to much? How about as the city attorney who had conflict of interest in an ethics board hearing where he represented the city AND the mayor AND the ethics board? He had to take the job over at SDPAA just so he could control the release of information and continue to protect himself for all his errant ways. Is the current SDPAA director supplying personal protection for the city at a bargain basement price to keep his fingers in the Dutch dike?

When looking at this added insurance, many things come to mind. Is this akin to a bribe to keep mouths shut? If you make any unapproved noise, the SDPAA will or won’t protect you? If a person was to run for office and asks or raises to many questions, will SDPAA decide not to cover the ramifications? Will it cover an official accused of criminal assault against a citizen?

So now, instead of the elected official paying attention to their ethical behavior, SDPAA and the city will cover any discovered activity. The elected person will not have to worry about the cost of the defense because once accused, SDPAA and the city will pay for their legal costs. For example, using the past cases brought before the ethics board (including the impeachment of Neitzert), the city would have had to pay all the costs for the lawyers hired to defend the accused person’s unethical behavior. Instead of just admitting the personal mistake and making it go away, the people of Sioux Falls end up having to pay for the defense of the unethical persons and their actions plus the prosecution costs.

What we citizens of Sioux Falls will be paying as part of the insurance bill this year, is a benefit for elected officials. A new policy clause to cover unethical corruption and criminal activity. Maybe we should start calling SDPAA, Your Source For Corruption Insurance.

EDITOR’S NOTE: After watching the meeting today where Brekke and Starr said that this is NOT an administrative decision, it is a city council decision (in which the rest of the council disagreed as well as the city attorney) what was revealing is that Neitzert admitted about 90% of his legal fees at his recent impeachment hearing were paid for by donations (around $15,000 he paid $2,000 himself). WOW! Who needs insurance with friends like that?! I encourage you to watch the video. As I have said, council wouldn’t need this rider if they would just act ethically, and if not, at least confess and apologize before lawyers have to be hired. I guess I’m not mad at Greg for what he did, I’m mad that he didn’t have the moral compass to just admit the wrong doing and take his medicine. Very cowardly.

LAST NOTE: I also see a reoccurring theme at the city council informational meetings, they don’t have enough time for presentations and questions because they moved the city council regular meeting up to 6 PM. We knew this would happen. In fact it was so tight, that councilors Neitzert and Kiley who were scheduled to attend the meeting on their phones were clearly voting at the beginning of the meeting while driving home in their cars because you could hear it. Once again, Sioux Falls city government is very predictable.