Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Public Input at Standing Committees of the Council

The BID group was booted off the city council's land use policy committee on February 28th.

Here is what city ordinance says regarding standing committees:

Sec. 2-26.2.  Standing committees of the council.
The council shall establish a fiscal policy committee, a land use and development policy committee, and a public services policy committee as standing committees of the council to serve in a research and advisory capacity only.
(Ord. No. 117-99, § 5, 11-15-99; Ord. No. 121-99, § 5, 12-6-99)
Note: Formerly § 2-36.

"To serve in a research and advisory capacity only".  If that is the purpose of standing council committees, someone needs to remind Councilors Rolfing, Litz and Anderson that they serve the public. Rolfing made a motion to stop BID's presentation. Erpenbach voted no, Rolfing voted yes and  Litz and Anderson didn't vote. Rolfing didn't think the presentation was just about land use policy. He said, "It is a highly charged events center presentation."  It is a sad commentary when our very own elected council members vote to stifle public input. A rule that says an abstaining vote means a yes vote is a head scratcher. I thought abstaining from voting meant the same thing as no vote or, at the very least, meant no vote counted at all.

Appendix E of the city code of ordinances, The Preamble of the City Council Code of Ethics says:

The stability and proper operation of democratic representative government depends upon the continuing consent of the governed, upon the public confidence in the integrity of the government, and upon responsible exercise of the trust conferred by the people. Government decisions and policy must be made and implemented through proper channels and processes of the governmental structure. The purpose of this code is to establish guidelines for ethical standards of conduct for City Council members. City Council members must act in a manner that maintains their integrity and independence, yet is responsive to the interests and needs of those they represent. City Council members must act in a fair and impartial manner. City Council members must be aware of their obligation to conform their behavior to standards of ethical conduct that warrant the trust of their constituents.

Integrity, independence, responsiveness to the interests and needs of those they represent. I think that means everyone, not just those that agree with you and your agenda, Councilors Rolfing, Litz and Anderson.

I do like what former Minnehaha County Commissioner Ann Hajek said regarding this action on Facebook this morning:

"Everyone should know the Build It Downtown group did not initiate but was INVITED to present at the meeting. It was one of the ugliest displays of misplaced power I have ever seen. The committee listened extensively to a man who had violated city ordinances, and then did not allow an INVITED presentation to go forward. There was obviously some intervention by another power which thwarted the entire process. Very ugly and they deserve an apology and an invitation to present to the entire council."

I think that pretty much sums up what is going on in local government these days.


  1. I have written to Councilor Rolfing to express a constituent voice on iissues before him and his responses, when I have received one, have been condescending and dismissive. He is not impressive and will not get my vote when he is up re-election. This just sealed the issue for this voter. I had hoped for more from him.

  2. What does Ann mean when she states "there was obviously some intervention from a higher power..."? I'd like it clarified if she KNOWS this to be true or if this is just more rampant speculation and another conspiracy theory. Ann?

  3. What Ann means is that a group of Citizens is being told how "fair and transparent" a process is they've been told to place their trust in, yet this same group cannot get basic questions answered, can't get information requests answered, and as of last night are being booted off a meeting they were invited to present at.

    As it sits today, no one knows how the site will be selected. We know we will get a $30K report on one site's potential over the other's, but we don't know what will be done with that info. Nor do we know how they will arrive at what conclusion. The Mayor has stated publically we will "let the experts tell us" where the best site is, but what he hasn't said is whether or not he will follow or ignore their recommendation. If he's doing this routine on location, what makes you think he won't on funding or financing?

  4. Mayor Huether and his cronies will do whatever it takes to "Get'er done" (Events Center) as long as it gets done his way.