04/27/2016 A Voice from the Gallery

A Voice from the Gallery



Human Error

def. “person’s mistake rather than on the failure of a machine…”

(“Human Error.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web 27 April 2016)

Mayor Tom Glas convened the April 18, 2016, meeting of the Alcester City Council at 7:00 p.m. for the purpose of canvassing the April 12, 2016, vote.

Canvas of the votes began for the council person position 107 ballots were cast for councilperson, Mark Dykstra received 91 votes while Vickie Larsen received 16 votes. Keep in mind the number-16 votes. It is to be noted that 10-15 households would have lost their Ward III vote had I given up and let the council “make their decision” as Mayor Glas indicated in the April 4th meeting. It was determined on Friday, April 8th the map the Finance Officer sent to the Union County Auditor was incorrect and did not match the written description of the Ward III boundaries set out in Revised Municipal Ordinances of August 6, 2014. On Saturday, April 9th, I made contact with as many residents on East Park Avenue as I could find home, to let them know that they were indeed in Ward III with confirming telephone calls from the Alcester Finance Office on Monday, April 11, 2016. It is unknown if all East Park Avenue residents were home to be notified by the Finance Office. Mayor Glas and the Alcester City Council were wrong and failed to correct their defect! It is unknown how many absentee ballots may have been affected!

Canvas of the curbside recycling vote began with an announcement by Finance Officer Pat Jurrens. It is important to note here that the City Finance Officer is in charge of the municipal election. As I understand it, the Election Board works during the day at the polling locations and the Finance Officer would need to be available to offer assistance with any issues that would arise. Such as any questions concerning the boundary issues. And all election materials are to be delivered to the Finance Officer after the election. Remember those 16 votes. As the council began the canvas of curbside recycle count, Alcester Finance Officer Jurrens announced there was a 16 vote discrepancy and the 16 votes were not counted due to “Human Error”!   The 16 votes were clipped together and were not counted when the curbside vote ballot box was opened. The ballots were returned to the ballot box and it was sealed. Remember those 16 ballots? Yeah, well those 16 ballots that were clipped together? They failed to make it into the ballot box, were not sealed in the ballot box and went unsecured and vulnerable over night in the finance office and consequently were rendered invalid. Human error? These materials would have been handed to the Alcester Finance Officer per protocols and who ultimately should have noticed those orphan clipped together ballots outside of the ballot box. H-m-m

Human Error- Harmless Error… synonymous? Harmless error is a legal doctrine found in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, rule 61. Simply explained an error made during a trial which upon appeal is examined to determine if harm has been done. Begs the question, did the uncounted ballots affect the outcome of the curbside recycling question? The spread was 98 against curbside recycling to 83 for curbside recycling, with 16 votes invalidated. Was harm attached to 16 uncounted votes?

How important is your vote? Is this how we reward those who fought and died for our Constitutional freedoms? If the job is worth doing, it most assuredly is worth doing completely and correctly. Was it harmless error East Park Avenue voters were close to losing their vote? No it was not! Alcester Mayor Tom Glas and the Alcester City Council were told not once but twice the boundary was incorrect and they did nothing to correct the error prior to election day. Councilman Mark Dykstra most certainly, “had his butt in his council chair” when the council was told of the error, he failed his sworn duty to his constituents in Ward III and threw them under the bus with his failure to act!

   Only time… will bear out the truth!



04/19/2016 A Voice from the Gallery

No One Told Me!

by Vickie Larsen

February 2003 

Dedicated to Lincoln, that someday you will be free!


All through my youth

I was taught

never tell a lie, always tell the truth

but no one told me others would not


no one told Me!


Early on, much to my dismay

telling the truth was not accepted

It was not okay

and I was rejected


no one told Me!


As I took the oath to tell the truth

and as I was questioned, my thoughts returned

to the lessons learned in my youth

that the truth could be spurned


no one told Me!


“Where truth lies, Justice will follow”, the prosecutor cried,

but truth he would not allow

and on that day when Justice died

I took a vow


no one told Me!


Each day of the last four* years

that I have fought

through heartbreak and tears

to free a young man wrongly convicted and restore the Justice we sought


no one told Me!


How incredibly hard would it be

to tell the truth

and not set him free


no one told me,

no one ever told me!



*It is now seventeen years and I am still fighting to free an innocent man!

04/13/2016 A Voice from the Gallery

A Voice from the Gallery


 I was confronted with a choice when I discovered after I turned in my petition late February, there was an error in the Ward lines between Ward II and Ward III, on March 21, 2016, when I brought the issue to the Alcester City Council the Mayor blew me off and again when I pushed on the issue of Ward boundary error on April 4, 2016, Mayor Glas made the statement, “they (the council) had discussed the issue, Councilwoman Kama Johnson commented they were going to go by the map and Mayor Glas stated, “THAT is what we (the council)decided!” Amazing because there was no agenda item involving that ‘decision’, there was not a motion, nor a second, discussion or vote in open session. It must have happened in one of ‘those‘ illegal executive sessions I have been complaining about. Any vote in executive session is illegal and invalid.

My choice, do I create a dust-up and force the issue or do I sit back, do nothing , allowing voters be denied their right to vote for Ward III council person? If I did nothing to cure an error I knew about, I could strengthen any invalidation of election suit but it would cost some 15 ± households their right to vote and taxpayers for another election. The choice was easy…Do the right thing!

Unfortunately by the time I realized Mayor Glas through his obduracy was going to create an invalid election situation, time was short. I visited the Union County Auditor Friday afternoon, April 8, 2016, in an effort to restore East Park Avenue voters to their rightful ward, Ward III. So the Union County Auditor, with consults with the South Dakota Secretary of State, Alcester City Finance Officer and I believe the Union County Attorney’s office, corrected the Ward III poll list and ultimately sent it to the Alcester City Finance Officer on Monday.

Today I verified East Park Avenue voters had no Ward boundary issues and voted Ward III. I was told by an East Park Avenue resident, the Alcester City Finance Office had contacted them by telephone on Monday validating their Ward III status.

The map? In my FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) I asked for a true copy of the Alcester Municipal Code including the Alcester Property Maintenance Code and I paid for that copy. Later I learned the copy I received was not a true and complete copy of the municipal code because under

Chapter 2.01-Boundaries.

(Revised Municipal Ordinances, City of Alcester, South Dakota… Ordinance No. 2014-2, Effective date August 6, 2014)

“The corporate limits of the City are declared to be such as have been legally established and amended by law and ordinances of the City show on the official map on file in the office of the Finance Officer. Such map shall be incorporated in this ordinance (Revised Municipal Ordinances City of Alcester, South Dakota, Ordinance No. 2014-2, Effective date August 6, 2014) by reference and adopted as the official map showing the boundaries and limits of the City. (SDCL 9-3-2, SDCL 9-4-1)”

 Folks no such map was attached or included. Please note this section only established corporate city limits and boundaries NOT Wards and voting precincts. Those were established in:

 “2.0201 Wards

  1. Ward Three shall include all of that part of the City east of the line defined by Park Avenue, the boundary between lots 32 and 36 of the Morningside Addition, the boundary between Lots 1 and 2 of Block 1 of the Hyden Heights Addition, Hyden Drive and Church Street.”


Chapter 2.02-Wards and Voting Precincts

(Revised Municipal Ordinances, City of Alcester, South Dakota…Ordinance No. 2014-2, Effective date August 6, 2014)

Auditor supplied map

Auditor supplied map

2012 Map sent to the Union County Auditor as a Ward Map

  • There is no certification or authentication! Incorrect map which miss-stated the Ward boundaries.
  • Precinct maps are usually re-drawn each census year (every 10 years), last census year was 2010.
  • 2012 Ward map is not work product of SECOG (South Eastern Council of Government) nor SDML (South Dakota Municipal League) per representatives of SECOG and SDML.


boundary per ordinance

boundary per ordinance 2.0201 C

Map source Beacon-Schneider Corporation, http://www.beacon-schneidercorp.com*, boundary marked according to the boundaries set out in Chapter 2.02-Wards and Voting Precincts:

  • “2.0201     Wards
  • 2.0201 C “Ward Three shall include…east of the line defined by Park Avenue, …boundary between lots 32 and 36 Morningside Add…” Revised Municipal Ordinances…Effective August 6, 2014.

*map purpose is illustrative of ordinance description 2.0201″C” not intended as certification for legal purposes.

Voters on East Park Avenue came very close to be denied the vote for their Ward III representative because uncertified, erroneous Ward maps were supplied to the Union County Auditor by the city, the Ward map did not match the revised 2014 written ordinance, and erroneous application of 2.0101 Boundaries which dealt specifically with corporate city limits NOT ward boundaries. It was close, too close! There is still the issue of absentee ballot and the question whether someone on East Park Avenue wanted to run for Ward III alderman.  Simply because Mayor Glas refused to listen to me, could not apparently read for himself and making a seat-of-the-pants “decision”.

04/12/2016 A Voice from the Gallery

A Voice from the Gallery


 Looking back I can honestly say running for office and campaigning was interesting, educational and at times entertaining.   I visited with neighbors I knew, met other neighbors for the first time and listened to their stories and concerns.

The election is over, I did not win. The issues are still there, sadly I do not see any foreseeable change in attitudes and practices of the mayor and certain members of the council. I take comfort in the words:


“There are worse things than losing an election; the worst thing is to lose one’s convictions and not tell the people the truth.”

Adlai Stevenson


As a council member I would have had all the power of a single vote of six, but now I will continue to be content to use the power of the pen, truth, my gallery voice and now few tricks I have learned along the way. So I will continue to attend meetings, I will continue working for city website, open Alcester City government, I will work to curtail their penchant for inappropriate executive sessions in which no business ever comes of them. I will listen to the words of:


“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”

Mahatma Gandhi


“You may have to fight a battle more than once two win it.”

Margaret Thatcher

Giving up makes a temporary defeat permanent. So if I have to fight a battle twice, then so be it. What is not acceptable to me is quitting, so I shall not quit!

04/09/2016 A Voice from the Gallery

A Voice from the Gallery

“The pessimist is the man who believes things couldn’t possibly be worse, to which the optimist replies: ‘Oh yes they could!'”

Madeleine Urban, Fish & Chips (Cut & Run#3)

Running for office in a small community is an experience! When I first took out my petition, I asked how many signatures I needed. The finance officer told me, “well, if you have 10-12 you should have plenty”. That is not what I asked. I let it go. I called the Union County Auditor and asked, “how many signatures do I need for city council petition? ” I was told that, “you need to contact your finance officer, she has the formula.” This is wrong, I should have been given a definite number. Not a ‘well-if-you-have’ number.

I turned my petition in ahead of the due date. After the petition turn-in deadline, I asked look at the authenticated petitions. I was told there was a problem with the boundaries and that the Alcester Finance Office was waiting for the Union County Auditor to get back to them. I asked to see my petition and noted that some signatures were marked as invalid because they were allegedly in Ward II not Ward III, my ward. I told the Finance Officer that was incorrect. I continued to watch the situation and was ultimately told the situation had been “resolved”. Since I had a 2010 Ward map and it matched the current Municipal Ordinances which set out the Ward III boundaries effective date August 6, 2014, I was confident I was correct and good-to-go.

Still there was that niggling thought that people were going to be disenfranchised from voting in their own ward. On March 21, 2016, the council met for the purpose of acting as Board of Equalization and during Public Input I asked Mayor Glas and the council about the Ward III boundaries, again questioning the Ward III boundaries. Referencing the ordinances which stated:

 C. Ward Three shall include all of that part of the City east of the line defined by Park Avenue, the secondary between Lots 32 and 36 of the Morningside Addition, the boundary between Lots 1 and 2 of Block 1 of the Hyden Heights Addition, Hyden Drive, and Church Street.”

Revised Municipal Ordinances City of Alcester, South Dakota

Ordinance 2014-2,

Effective date August 6, 2014, Page 4,,Chapter 2.02-WARDS AND VOTING PRECINCTS, 2.020 Wards,, item C. Ward 3.


No response, no ‘we’ll check into it’, nothing, just a blank, Phzzed look from Mayor Glas! Finance Officer Pat Jurrens responded the language was a little vague but the invalidated names were in Ward II not Ward III. I want to note here that Alcester City Attorney Chuck Haugland was not present in the meeting.

At the April 4, 2016, regular meeting of the Alcester City Council during Public Input I asked what the council had found out about my question of Ward III boundaries, figuring they had asked City Attorney Haugland. Mayor Glas with a lost sideways look, stated, “I am going to have Pat (Alcester Finance Officer) answer that.” Once again I was told East Park Avenue was in Ward II not Ward III. I pressed that the Revised Municipal Ordinances City of Alcester, South Dakota 2014, clearly and specifically described the boundaries of Ward III and East Park was definitely in Ward III. Councilman Mike Burke stated, “I talked to Mike (Mike Kezar, former Alcester City Finance Officer) and I believe him and not YOU! I continue to argue that the Revised Municipal Ordinances City of Alcester, South Dakota 2014 was very clear and written, out- weighs any map.  Councilwoman Kama Johnson commented that they were going by the map. At which point Mayor Glas lifted his chin, stating, “That is what we decided,” with several council voices in assent. I stated, “You are wrong!”

Again I want to point out Alcester City Attorney Chuck Haugland was not present at the April 4, 2016, meeting. But, two city employees were present and witnessed the exchange. Oh, by-the-way there was no vote in open session to affirm Mayor Glas’ assertion, “That is what we decided“.

On April 8, 2016, still feeling members of Ward III were going to be denied their right to vote, I went to the Union County Auditor Offices in Elk Point. I presented my concerns to the Union County Auditor Klumper. She asked questions, I answered them and she showed me the map the City of Alcester had presented to her office in 2012 which showed a non-existent road east of Park Avenue as the west boundary of Ward III. After calls to the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office and the Alcester City Finance Officer, it was determined I was correct and the line down the middle of Park Avenue was the correct western boundary as set forth by the Revised Municipal Ordinances City of Alcester, South Dakota 2014. Now there was the problem of how to fix error at 4:00 p.m. Friday before Tuesday April 12, vote. Auditor Klumper made a comment, “maybe the council meant to wait until after the election to fix the error”. I pointed out that people would be denied their vote and it was already too late for absentee voters to vote, they had already been denied their vote. Auditor Klumper said she was going to try to get a legal opinion from the Union County Attorney and she would call me to let me know. I left my telephone number. At 4:47 p.m. Friday afternoon,  Union County Auditor Klumper called to let me know they were going to update the Ward lists. This still leaves a problem of voter disenfranchisement.


                                                                               Vickie Larsen



04/06/2016 A Voice from the Gallery

“The first law for the historian is that he shall never dare utter an untruth. The second is that he shall suppress nothing that is true…”

Marcus Tullius Cicero

Alcester Councilman Mark Dykstra writes:

“…Provide a safe environment by recruiting and maintaining law enforcement..”…

Alcester Union-Hudsonite April 7, 2016

Vickie Defends:

  • Since October 3, 2011, when Mr. Dykstra was appointed to the council and the city has gone through seven police officers on his watch. Mr. Dykstra had a continual dying fit about the veteran police chief until he quit. Mayor Rick Johnson along with the Council, which included Mr. Dykstra, constructively fired our female officer due to council inaction on a harassment charge. Mayor Johnson as well as you Mr. Dykstra were obligated to contact the South Dakota DCI for an independent investigation of the harassment charge. Then there were the officers who left due to council micro-management and better work conditions that didn’t include assault.
  •  I presented Mayor Glas and the city council with a formal complaint against the Alcester Bar on August 3, 2015, asking the agreement between Theresa Deem and the city be vacated based upon Theresa Deem’s violation of the terms and conditions of the lease and operating agreement. Mrs. Deem’s admitted in open city council meeting on July 6, 2015 she allowed minors in the city bar with Alcester Police Chief Ryan Knutson confirming evidence of this was caught on police body cam. Further statements made by Police Chief Knutson in open regular meeting indicated Mrs. Deem violated no smoking in the bar, and was serving customers beyond intoxication, a violation of South Dakota statute.


Alcester Councilman Mark Dykstra writes:

“I have no time for rumors or misinformation.”…

Alcester Union-Hudsonite April 7, 2016

 Vickie Defends:

Dykstra letter- to-editor

  •  Peter Larsen was the lone councilman who voted against leasing the bar to Sullivan’s in 2011. Councilman Wayne Van Gelder was still on the council. In February of 2013 YOU, Mr. Dykstra seconded the motion to approve CDBG funds to pay the $30K lawsuit settlement. I DID MY RESEARCH!

source: Approved Alcester City Council minutes from February 2013.

 time line



Alcester Councilman Mark Dykstra writes:

“…community center at a cost of $2-$7 million…scare tactic…I invite voters to see for themselves by looking at the drawings displayed at the city office. Note cost estimates…none of them approach $1 million…”

Alcester Union-Hudsonite, April 7, 2016

Vickie Defends:

  • No scare tactic here. I was a member of the gallery when the first drawings were presented to the council and I was taking notes. Grandiose plans for a town of 850 population. I took the class for real estate sales certification in college and my husband and I have remodeled a 100 year old home, a 1970’s vintage home and we are in the process of remodeling a 1930’s vintage home. I have some education in appraising, experience in costing estimates, design and the common sense to be reasonably close in estimates.
  • In the April 4, 2016, council meeting Councilwoman Audri Carlson (June 2015 a new community building formed) presented figures on the auditorium remodel project. Bids came in at $650K and $700K. No structural engineer report and no real time materials costs.  One bidder wants $6K up front. Structural engineer costs $4K per discussion. Folks this is a COMMERCIAL BUILDING! When the committee throws out terms like volunteer workers, elevated walking track and fundraisers reminding of the song by The Brothers Four, Blue Water Line, “…just twenty thousand quarters and just forty thousand dimes… scares the Bejasus out of me.


Alcester Councilman Mark Dykstra writes:

“It is a disservice to the volunteers who are serving on the community center committee to suggest…”

Alcester Union-Hudsonite, April 7, 2016

Vickie Defends:

  • In February 2004 the council discussed the construction of a new community center with a second penny sales tax to pay for the center along with a community block grant. June 2004 discussion on a new community center continued…City Attorney Haugland to look into a second penny sales tax. July 6, 2004, a public meeting planned with an architectural plans and estimated building costs.   August 15, 2005, council sets up City Improvement Committee, Planning and Zoning committee and hold meeting for second reading for second penny sales tax for capital improvement. August 21, 2006, the Community Building Committee of Mark Doty, Adele Buum, Donowan Larsen, Peter Larsen, Mike Kezar and I believe Donna Pederson presented the community center floor plans, locations and estimated costs. September 5, 2007, discussion on remodel or new. September 17, 2007 motion by Larsen to put $15K into fund specifically for the community center. December 29. 2008, another transfer of $15K from second penny to community center fund. Ultimately the committee recommended a new building was a more economical option, the council took no action.

What about the disservice to Mark Doty and his committee?

Alcester Councilman Mark Dykstra writes:

” I refuse to discuss personnel issues in open meetings, whether a job applicant, concerns with existing employees or matters that are private to our employees..”.

Alcester Union-Hudsonite, April 7, 2016

Vickie Defends:

  • September 23, 2013, executive meeting was called to discuss personnel, Policewoman Lisa Pelton was present in the executive session. At approximately five minutes into the session, we heard “Vickie Larsen”. I am not personnel so it illegal use of executive session to discuss me. Later I learned why my name was mentioned. Arrest me, really?
  • Prior to the March 16, 2015, council meeting Councilman Mark Dykstra, Mayor Rick Johnson and Councilman Lance Johnson discussed Officer Tim Peete in front of me stating how they were going to make him pay $1K per month reimbursement to the city for wages paid during certification.
  • March 16, 2016, council meeting summer intern grant writing position was discussed. Councilman-Banker Mark Dykstra asked if the city could share with the Bank? Volunteering in open session Alcester State Bank was short on personnel, two tellers are part-time and a couple were pregnant naming names. Are ya kidding me?
  • April 4, 2016, the entire council discussed bad behaviors of life guards and that videos of safety issues were posted. Mayor Glas stated, “We had to talk to lifeguards about complaints…”. Then the council went into executive session to discuss pool personnel. Councilman Dykstra, you listened to the whole discussion and failed to shut the discussion down!


04/04/2016 A View from the Gallery

“Government doesn’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. That is against their interests…”

George Carlin

And so it goes! As I approach the completion of my campaign, I wonder at the steps that led me to this point. I saw a litany of errors, I saw city employees bullied by Mayor Johnson and certain council members and when I dared criticize decisions, I watched Alcester City Councilman Mark Dykstra attack me, perverting the record and facts to shield himself from blame.

Councilman Dykstra who was appointed, holding office because no one ran against him, to finally failing to circulate a filing petition a year ago.  Yet, still managed to maintain his seat by way of SDCL 9-13-14.3 all while claiming in the “Alcester Union-Hudsonite”,

“…(he) volunteered to be seated in Ward III…I came on with an agenda…I have work yet to do. I am not finished.”

Alcester City Councilman Mark Dykstra

Mr. Dykstra’s agenda and unfinished business could not have been that important because both he and Lance Johnson failed to circulate and file petitions for candidacy as Alcester Ward III councilors last year so both Ward III council seats were declared vacant! So both were appointed on what I would term as sufferance and allowed to remain seated. I applied for appointment for Ward III councilor seat at that time and no small surprise I was not appointed because I refused to espouse only positive views. So what or better still, who is Mr. Dykstra afraid of?


“There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of law…”

Charles de Montesquieu, “The Spirit of the Laws”