Thursday, December 8, 2011

Charter Revision Commission - Why Care?

I would venture a guess that citizens hear Charter Revision Commission and yawn. Most people don't understand the Charter much less have even read the City Charter. Usually this subject is only near and dear to the people who are impacted by the charter or are very involved in local government issues.

The citizens of Sioux Falls voted to change the form of government back in 1994 from a commission form of government to a home rule charter form of government. Voters have been faced with ballot language changes since 1994 and those ballot issues all came from a Charter Revision Commission made up of citizens appointed by the mayor and city council.

Here are the citizens, appointed by the mayor and city council, to the Charter Revision Commission:
  • Dennis W. Aanenson- Term Expires - October 2014
  • De Knudson- Term Expires - October 2014
  • Robert Thimjon- Term Expires - October 2014 (Elected Vice-Chair)
  • Richard O. Gregerson - Term Expires - October 2014
  • Pauline Poletes - Term Expires - October 2014 (Elected Chair)

The City Charter spells out how the city is run. The point is that the City Charter is a very important document and if changes are recommended by the Charter Revision Commission, voters get the final say on any changes.

The new Charter Revision Commission held it's first meeting on November 30th. They spent the first 15 to 20 minutes just trying to set up 3 future meetings. I always find it interesting that people volunteer to be on public boards but when you try to schedule a meeting, they are too busy.

 It is a nightmare to schedule a meeting with board members. Kind of like herding cats. I always thought that one very important criteria in screening and selecting citizens for public boards was to first check to make sure they were prepared to be flexible in scheduling meeting dates and times. Yes, yes, we know you are busy, we know you have another life but really, to say you run a business and the only days that work for you are Mondays and Fridays is pretty self serving and inconsiderate. Same goes for lobbying at the SD Legislature. Lobbying takes up a huge chunk of time that makes one pretty unavailable and a nightmare for trying to get a meeting date scheduled. Instead of making a political appointment, maybe the city needs to add a question about ability to serve by being calendar flexible.

The City Attorney set out a timeline for action that really pushes this Commission to action. In order to get any issues on the ballot in April 2012, this body needs to complete it's work by January 2012, according to the City Attorney. That means they need public input from citizens and the mayor's administration by the December 16th meeting or at the latest the January 4, 2012 meeting. That's next week, folks. Their last scheduled meeting is January 27th. That is all well and good as long as no substantive issues come before this commission. Seems like kind of a rush to me, but we will see.

If a citizen has something to submit to this commission, it is recommended they be submitted no later than three days prior to the next scheduled meeting. Better get your comments e-mailed by December 13th at the latest for the December 16th meeting if you have something you want to say. You can e-mail your comments to through December 31, 2011.

Public input on December 16th should be interesting. I wonder what the mayor's administration will be proposing for changes to the charter this go around. There has already been input from citizen Joe Kirby who helped draft the charter back in 1994 but that will be a subject for a future blog.

The point is, everyone should care. It's our government. It's important to all of us how our city government runs. We should all care enough to be informed. If you want to comment or complain, you need to pay attention and submit your comments or ideas for change.


  1. Has anyone heard if there are things that are already under consideration? Did I hear something about a change to elections that would almost insure a runoff in every case? Other?

  2. Ahhh - not knowing one of them - can we please get people on under the age of 50 or 60? Nothing against all of these people - but all supporters of the industrial park EC and all close to being retired (if not already).

  3. anonymous at 8:59 am.........

    Did you volunteer?