Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Charter Revision Commission

The Charter Revision Commission met on January 4th. Charter Revision proposals have been submitted by the City Attorney, the Director of Finance, out of town citizen Joe Kirby, and Councilor Jamison.

This was a painful meeting to watch. The chair does not appear to understand or know anything about parliamentary procedure and the City Clerk and City Attorney didn't do anything at the beginning of this meeting to help clarify how this process should work. Interim Clerk Roust finally spoke up but, my goodness, this was like watching water boil. Painful lapses of silence, tentative direction from the chair, and silence from the board. Run these meetings like a council meeting. The proposals weren't read publicly even though the Assistant City Clerk attempted to correct the chair's omission to do it.

The city charter established a strong mayor, weak council form of government and it has been contentious between these two bodies every since regarding what they roles should be. The "tweaking" of charter language by the administration and the council attempts to deal with the strong mayor, weak council concept. Granted, some proposals are not substantive, just technical changes. But each proposal deserves in-depth study and discussion because changes to a "constitution" are serious and could have unintended circumstances later on.

I question whether in-depth study and discussion took place during this meeting. Who knows, maybe this group studied these proposals and discussed these proposals with the mayor or other councilors before they came to the meeting. I hope this group of citizens talked to someone because they are lay people who are not experienced in government or this charter.  Proposals from Kirby and the City Attorney were passed with little or no debate and frankly, discussion only started once Interim City Clerk Roust got up and questioned what they were actually doing regarding Finance Director Turbak's proposals.

Then we come to Councilor Jamison. His proposals come from past history and controversy with the Mayor. Board member Aanenson shut down Councilor Jamison and Thimjon seconded silencing City Council Jamison. Why such a disrespectful display of behavior? Whose water is Aanenson really carrying? Knudson didn't want to offend her fellow councilor so attempted to postpone it to another meeting. Aanenson shut her down. They all voted to shut him down except Knudson.Whether you agreed with his proposals or not, Councilor Jamison deserved to be heard and his proposals deserved a proper discussion. Shameful behavior towards an elected city councilor member.

Pay attention to the business being conducted by the Charter Revision Commission. They will decide what charter language should be changed and submitted to the good folks of Sioux Falls citizens to vote on in April. This is serious business because it is the city's constitution. These people who were appointed to serve on this charter revision commission should be unbiased. I did not see that at this meeting and Aanenson was the king bully that day. He played the mayor's role very successfully.

This meeting was just an extension of what goes on between the mayor and the city council. I have never been a fan of this form of government. Electing a lay person to be the "CEO" of city government is a crapshoot. This form of government promotes the kind of territorial in fighting that has been going on since it was voted in back in 1995.  I think this city is big enough for a city manager form of government.

Everybody has an agenda. Let's hope the agenda is good government. I did not see that at this meeting.


  1. In a representative form of government, ideas should be heard. All submissions to this kangaroo court of a revision committee should be given proper hearing before being summarily dismissed. The public listening to this joke of a meeting didn't even have any idea what was being voted on because they didn't read anything. Who is this Aanenson anyway? Oh ya, I have seen his commercials on TV, big deal. What's his background with the workings of this forms of city government. NONE! Did this Mayor put his cronies on this committee?

  2. I'd hate to be someone sitting on Aanenson's Board of Directors. He trashed them all and appears to look upon them with contempt.

  3. Pretty sure at least 2 of the committee members (Aanenson & Thimjon) contributed to the Mayor's campaign. I also believe a couple of them donated to Build it Now.

    Ball being played, media asleep at the wheel.

  4. If anyone deserves respect and deference it is a City Councilor who is duly elected by the citizens and who has some experience and knowledge of city government and it's operations. Councilor Jamison was not afforded that respect by these citizens who have been appointed to this commission by this Mayor. This meeting was really out of order!

  5. To Anonymous @ 11:10am -

    Thimjon was one of MMM's very first contributors. Looks like Aanenson was right behind him. What a farce!!

    When in doubt, always follow the money!

  6. @ 11:39am

    Not to worry, I'm sure the Ethics Board will be all over this one just, uh...last time (cough)

  7. Just let little Hitler, oh wait, Big Mike have his way. He is certainly getting it when it comes to every other sort of city business. Wake up citizens of Sioux Falls. First he gets the Events Center pushed through, with a bunch of lies. Now, you are going to let him be in complete control, cause the city should be run like a business. Well, if that is the case then we should all be getting a profit share check in the mail, cause the city has millions in the bank they do not want to spend. This was evident when no city employees, except the upper leverl management got a raise.

  8. It is no secret what this mayor will do with his new power...IF he gets it. One of his first priorities, (like any REAL business would) would be to dismantle the city employee pension plan, and by extension the three local city unions.


  9. Polly may have a point on the pension plans. During takeovers of businesses, the pension plans can be seen as the Golden Goose to be claimed as a prize. MMM wants this city run like a business, and HE wants to take it over. I've never been so sick to my stomach because of worry over what kind of dirty tricks our mayor might play. Only with this one.

  10. People are afraid of Mayor Mike. There is this feeling he will get even with you if you stand up to him.
    The people who can stand up to him with impunity are those who aren't afraid of him hurting them or their businesses. Say for example, retired lawyers. How about some lawyers getting together to go after the mayor for the lies he told in the EC meetings. Now that more details are coming out, it's becoming more and more obvious that he was lying to us. That's fraud. Let's charge him with fraud before the building of the EC gets started. Let's file the lawsuit before an election to give MMM more power than he already has. (frightening thought) Jennifer, can you look into that, and see if some good retired lawyers who don't like what Huether is doing would do the city a service and stop this harmful man who calls himself our mayor?

  11. Before any changes can be made to the city pension plan, doesn't any change have to go to a vote of the members first?

  12. My understanding is the voters would vote on this in April.

  13. With regard to the good mayor going after the city pension system. He has alluded to it in the past. At his Saturday morning indoctrination sessions for one. I believe IF the argus took the time to look back at their huether portfolio, they will find he's mentioned it to them on several occasions. In fact, Kendra Siemonsma mentions it in her January 3rd Informational Meeting presentation.

    I'm not sure how he'll attack it, but attack it he will. Maybe he'll use the valley girl and justin bieber approach that worked so well in the EC debate. Or maybe he'll appeal to the mothers of Sioux Falls using Nicki Ellerbroek to tell us it is for the good of the children while she's romping with her kids in a SF park. Ya know....big business GOOD. Pensions BAD.


  14. OK, so maybe some good folks are waking up to Denny Aanenson. As in A&B Business Aanenson; as in, lots & lots of contract $$ with the city for copy equipment. And yes he was a prime high dollar contributor to My Mistake Mike. Hmmmmm. AL or Mr. Ellis, where is that suppossed watchdog group the Ethics Bored?

  15. Jennifer, I get a pension from the city of Sioux Falls. What's the worst case scenario if Huether gets more power with regards to the pension system? Do we need to worry about losing any of our benefits or cost of living increases (we finally got one this year after several years of nothing) Thanks Jennifer

  16. @Anonymous 12:03 P.M.

    Sec. 35-59. Changes in employee contribution levels.

    No change may be made in employee contribution levels of this system or present or future benefits of this system, by ordinance or otherwise, without an affirmative vote by both the council and the membership of this system.


    Sec. 35-60. Change or modification of benefits; actuarial statement.

    No benefits, present or future, may be changed or modified in any manner unless the system's actuaries have prepared an actuarial statement showing the effect of those changes on the system. No benefits, present or future, may be changed or modified if the change or modification will bring the system into noncompliance with the provisions of section 35-47 of this chapter.

    Sec. 35-47. Limit of city's contributions.

    Total contributions in each year to a retirement system subject to article II of this chapter shall be sufficient to fund the following:

    (1) The administrative cost of the plan during the year;

    (2) The actuarially determined cost of future benefits accruing to members during the year; and

    (3) An amount sufficient to amortize any unfunded liability of the system over a period not to exceed 40 years on the basis of reasonable and generally accepted actuarial assumptions

  17. State law also speaks to this issue:

    9-16-3.2. Change of employee contributions or benefits--Requirements. No change may be made in employee contribution levels of a system or present or future benefits of a system, by ordinance or otherwise, without an affirmative vote by both the governing body of the municipality and the membership of that system.