04/05/2017II A Voice From the Gallery

PART TWO

(Agenda line item #10-Ward III Vacancy interview continued)

It is important to note here FO Jurrens was an Alcester City councilperson who voted to fire the former finance officer whose conservative finance budget she routinely criticized, whose job she snatched for herself within weeks of his dismissal and garnering an entry level salary of some $10K +/- more than his 30 +/- years experience-accumulated salary. FO Jurrens a novice, scantily trained finance officer Mayor Glas has routinely allowed to be present in and actively participate in executive sessions well beyond her scope of finance office duties acting as a quasi-seventh council member questioning, offering her opinion and lobbying for or against the question or applicant discussed in Executive session.

As the council recovered, Councilman Haeder commented since there would be no record, FO Jurrens should leave. I began my opening remarks, speaking of my education, my qualifications specifically noting I attended all but a handful of meetings in the past four years so I am conversant in city issues. (Note: Of the 47 total meetings from 07/07/2014 when Councilman Lance was appointed through 12/31/2016 he missed 13 meetings, I missed 7 meetings but I was present for 24 meetings prior to 07/07/2014.) After my opening statements, the council had the opportunity to ask questions of me.

I was asked about my stance on a stand-alone community building, to which I replied a stand-alone building was more cost and energy efficient than a renovation of the auditorium, the cost and maintenance of a three stop elevator was prohibitive and an elevated walking track was unnecessary. I did mention if the school built a new building, the newest addition to the old high school might make a good choice for a community building but the wall crack situation would have to be investigated and resolved to even consider it a viable choice.

I was asked if I knew how to set up a city website which I am promoting. I replied no I did not have the expertise but I knew folks who did. (After interview research shows on February 3, 2014, the council discussed but tabled the Alcester Municipal website to March meeting, March 3, 2014, meeting shows a motion by councilwoman Kama Johnson to create an Alcester city website at the quoted figure of $1375 set up and domain with an annual fee of $450, the second coming from councilman Mike Burke with an unanimous aye vote from council members Kama Johnson, Mike Burke, David Larsen, Steve Johannsen, Mark Dykstra and Pat Jurrens.)

Mayor Glas asked why I said bad, nasty things about him and FO Jurrens because he had never said anything bad about me. I responded I was critical of his administration of city business and by exercising my First Amendment prerogative could shed light on faults (hang out the dirty laundry so-to-speak) with the intent of fixing them. I told him I never make allegations I couldn’t prove. I did not remind him that during his agenda item Mayor’s response of November 5, 2015, city council meeting accused me of wasting the city’s money with a request for FOIA (freedom of information act) and city bar complaint, calling my allegations innuendos, half-truths, etc. Mayor Glas you called me a liar, even when I provided proof of my allegations.

I was asked if I could work with FO Jurrens and Ass’t FO Halverson and I responded truthfully, “of course I could”.

Watching the faces of the council members as they asked their questions, I couldn’t help notice Councilman Lance Johnson sitting staring as stone-faced stiff as the faces on Mount Rushmore. I kept waiting for the smoke to come-out-of-his ears like the Charlie Weaver bartender toy of the 50’s. Ya’ll would wind up little Charlie and he would pour his drink, shake it all around, drink it down, his face would turn red, he would pucker up, smack his lips and smoke would come a rollin’ out-of-his ears. Yup, that ol’ tea kettle was still on the boil.

I finished with my interview and the next candidates were allowed in. Both of these folks were in the same ward as I, but in the four years I had been attending city council meetings this was the first time I saw them in a council meeting. Needless to say I was once again black listed. Not because I wasn’t qualified but because I had the temerity to be truthful, ask questions and stand my ground.

Agenda line item #11 City Employee Updates e-Finance Office c-03/21/2017 Meeting update a-Motion to enter into Executive Session Pursuant to SCL 1-25-2-5 Marketing Discussion.

There was a discussion on going into Executive Session, but because of the loud Public Input discussion and a concern about a open meeting violation , it was decided not to go into closed session.

The discussion covered was mis-information that FCS expansion was going to cause the Union County Fair to leave Alcester, the city had ‘improved East Clark street when a good chunk of the land under the street was not (as I understand it) owned by the Alcester, the Railroad has a right of way and FCS cannot put a scale on their right-of-way. Marvelous! Just Marvelous! First the county commissioners have considered moving or merging the Union County Fair for some time. The Union County commissioners have spoken of a merge of Union and Lincoln County Fair, Extension Agents have covered two counties and I vaguely remember talk of a Clay-Union Fair merge which makes sense. If the fairs were merged a mid-point Elk Point-Vermillion at I29 would be a logical and equi-distant location for the parties. FO Pat Jurrens opined that moving the Union County Fair to a spot near I29 was, “…Stupid thinking on commissioners and Janet Lingle’s part…” because farmers hauling livestock shouldn’t have to worry about having a broken tail light. Logic? Did you really just say it is okay for farmers/livestock haulers shouldn’t have to obey vehicle operational equipment laws. In addition to FO Jurrens strong, emotional thoughts on a merge and/or move of the Union County Fair, newly appointed Councilwoman Darla Reppe questioned which commissioner represented the Alcester area. Oh-oh! (Milton Ustad-Beresford, Rich Headid-North Sioux City, Tom Kimmel-Dakota Dunes, Michael Dailey-Jefferson and Kevin Joffer-Elk Point) To which Councilwoman Reppe remarked and I paraphrase here, “…they are all from the south and will vote Elk Point”. Councilwoman Reppe went on to explain her family had a hand in lobbying to locate the Union County Fair in Alcester. Where was the Union County Fair before that?

The city was requesting the county turn over the land parcel in question to the city since they had been taking care of it all these years, Union County Commissioners disagreed. Alcester FO Jurrens stated she had contacted Maggie Gillespie,SVRRA railroad authority concerning acquisition of right-of-way-land. I have to wonder what kind of ‘thinking’ it is to consider the railroad would give up their right-of-way knowing how much buffer space they need if heaven forbid a derailment happens within the confines of Alcester city, particularly at IOWA street and EAST CLARK?

Getting back to the question of Executive session, No Alcester municipal owned business involved, No contracts involved, No marketing secrets involved and definitely not worthy of Executive session.

04/05/2017 A Voice From the Gallery

PART ONE

          The April 3rd, 2017, meeting of the Alcester City Council opened at 6:00 p.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance, approval of Agenda, minutes of March 20 and the uncorrected minutes (minus: Councilman Haeder’s comment about a second dissent and Alcester City Attorney Chuck Haugland’s comment about a third dissent on proposed annexation of South SD Hwy11 properties in the March 2, 2017, meetings contrary to Mayor Glas’ comment to Vickie Larsen that nobody else was against the annexation and the Point of Order call when Mayor Glas failed to call the question of approving council members registration and attendance at District meeting, finally remedying that failure after the discussion on the annual report.)

AGENDA

04-03-2017 AGENDAI

04-03-2017 AGENDA II

Agenda line item #5-Public Input

I responded to public input by distributing my curriculum vitae since I was seeking appointment to the vacant Ward III Alcester City Council seat, copies of SDCL 1-25-2 rules for executive or closed session meetings, copies of the March 28, 2017 meeting of the Union County Commissioners and a sample web page for stand-alone Alcester City Website I have been pushing the council to adopt.

I cited Agenda Item 11- City Employee Updates, item ‘e’ finance office, item ‘c’, item ‘a’

11-e-c   03/21/2017 Meeting Update

                     a. Motion to enter into Executive Session Pursuant to SDCL 1-25-2-5-Marketing Discussion. 

(as it appears on agenda)

(perhaps a tutorial in agenda outlines would be beneficial for Mayor Glas and FO)

Agenda Form Example/suggestion:

XI.  City Employee Updates

       e.  03/21/2017 Meeting Update

               1. Motion to enter into Executive Session SDCL 1-25-2-(5)*

     “…Discussing marketing or pricing strategies by a board or commission  of  a business owned by the state or any of its political subdivisions, when public discussion may be harmful to the competitive positions of the business…a violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.” 

*(http://sdlegislature.gov/statutes/DisplayStatute.aspx?Statute=1-25-2&Type…04/03/2017)               

informing council members the proposed update executive session did not meet criteria for executive/closed session and if they went forward with executive session, they risked an open meeting violation. W-h-o-e-e-e! Ya’ll would think I just stood up and boo-ed the minister at the beginnin’ his Sunday mornin’ sermon. The red, steamed faces of Alcester City Councilman Lance Johnson and Mayor Glas, reminded me of the “little teapot” song. As I watched Mayor Tom and Councilman Lance build up an indignant, irate, steam, the Seven Dwarfs popped to mind and I realized I was not looking at Happy! Grumpy and Dopey maybe, but definitely NOT Happy. With that insight, I took part in a loud discussion with certain council members to the rapt, curiosity of the gallery of attending jeep bidders who didn’t realize they were going to be treated to melodrama.

Councilman Lance Johnson repeated ad nauseam,

“…you don’t know what I am going to talk about…”

and I continued answering,

“I don’t need to know! The SDCL 1-25-2(5) citation is incorrect and the Union County Commissioners already discussed this same meeting content in open session March 28, 2017, confirmed by Union County Attorney Jerry Miller”

while Mayor Glas blustered, snorted, and opined it was marketing strategy. Joe Zweifel asked during public input, “if he could live stream council meetings” and was ignored. I think it would be a great idea.

During my input and in past meetings, it has become apparent members of the council do not fully understand or apply correctly open meeting rules as evidenced by past, countless closed sessions ‘for personnel’, what is allowed in executive session and the limits set. Simply, executive session is: One named, identifiable subject, one named, identifiable contract, one named, identifiable negotiation, or one named identifiable individual person! No global discussions of city personnel, police department personnel, gossiping about a website, duty or property maintenance infractions.

Agenda line item #7-$42.00 payment to Gubbrud, Haugland, Gillespie Law Office

Councilman Lance ‘tiny tea-pot’ Johnson was wound up about a $42.00 charge over a water bill. (see 03/06/2017 A Voice From the Gallery-Public Input) Councilman Lance announced, “…he objected to ‘someone’ (Peter and Vickie Larsen) getting free legal advice from the Alcester City attorney but he was going to move to approve payment to the law office…it isn’t right the city has to pay for legal advice to these people…”

Councilman Lance, if you had done due diligence on this issue you would have learned that Peter and Vickie Larsen pay their water bill a year in advance and were requiring that a monthly statement be sent via USPS (not hand delivered-whenever) to track their water usage and funds tracking. So Alcester FO Jurrens contacted Alcester City Attorney on the issue, then FO Jurrens sent a letter to the Larsens stating, “…to save postage, they were hand-delivering and would not be sending a monthly statement…” When the Larsens received the Alcester FO letter which had been courtesy copied to Alcester City Attorney Chuck Haugland, Peter went to the Alcester Finance Office to speak to the FO, but the office was closed during business hours. Peter Larsen went down the street to Gubbrud, Haugland, Gillespie Law Offices and spoke to City Attorney Haugland about the letter and who assured Peter the Alcester FO would comply with USPS mailing and monthly statements. Yo Councilman Lance, Alcester City Attorney Haugland was acting on the behalf of the city and could not advise(conflict of interest) Peter and Vickie Larsen. Maybe if the FO office was actually open during business hours, the city attorney would not have been involved. So to ‘save’ $4.50 per year on Larsen’s water bill postage and 11 postcards, the FO cost the city $42.00!

Agenda line item #10 Ward III Vacancy

Of the three candidates for the vacancy Darla Reppe, Warren Doty and Vickie Larsen, I was first to be interviewed in Executive session. As I entered into executive session I saw Councilwoman Julia Sundstrom, Councilman David Larsen (no relation), FO Pat Jurrens, Councilman Dan Haeder, Councilman Lance Johnson, Mayor Tom Glas, Ass’t FO Wanda Halverson and Councilwoman Audri Carlson seated at tables arranged in a U formation with a lone folding chair placed in the center of the U.

I chose to stand for the interview and upon arriving in front of the group I asked FO Jurrens and Ass’t FO Halverson to leave the room, it was not proper for them to be in the executive session. When the jaws moved back into place, eyes narrowed and mouths moved from the great ‘O’ formation, Ass’t FO Halverson got up and headed for the door. FO Jurrens  waivered and looking toward Mayor Glas (whose expression resembled a deer-in-the-headlights) stood up and hesitated.

Vickie Larsen

(continued part two)

04/04/2017 A Voice From the Gallery

DeSpurring an Aggressive Rooster

It has been suggested I broaden my horizons and write about issues other than the city council. Oh, but they are such a rich source.

I was a town kid growing up, but through my travels I had the opportunity to train as a 4H judge and participate in a Sanborn County SD Extension club where I learned our rural culture involved more than picking corn-out-of-the-beans and harvesting rock as I was taught working on my Uncle Bud Newton’s farm in Northwest Iowa. During my tenure ‘on-the-farm’ Cousin Kate gave me lessons on electric fences, how to retrieve eggs from the nest, how to wash and pack eggs for market, Cousin Mike gave me a short embarrassing (for him) barn yard tutorial of a boar’s anatomy (that the boar was not suffering from tumors-what can I say I was young) while Aunt Mary taught me just a wee bit about roosters. Yup, roosters!

So what do I do when a Banty or any kind of rooster for that matter attacks? Not a free range rooster mind you, but a ‘lifetime’ homegrown, resident, newly-off-the-farm political rooster! Barring the initial surprise of attack by the ‘lifetime roo’, one can be forgiven for being disconcerted by his chicken-type behavior. It is not the muscle of this Banty roo but this ‘roo’ attempted to redefine who I am…at least for a short moment. So, how is my dealing with this Banty rooster going to appear to my neighbors, work or the jeep bidders watching from the gallery at the April 3, 2017, Alcester City Council meeting? It does send the message, one from the gallery can make a difference at city hall!

Robert Plamondon advises: (Plamondon, Author Robert. “Robert Plamondon.” Help for Aggressive Roosters. N.p., 29 Sept. 2016. Web. 04 Apr. 2017.)

“…Rule #1-Never fight the rooster!

Rule #2-Don’t scare the rooster. Watch him…he does a little dance, dips his wing and gives other signals when he feels threatened…back off little and he’ll forget about you.

Rule #3-Remember I am not a chicken, Rooster rules do not apply to me…I have options and I reject the ‘role’ this Banty Rooster projects onto me…and I will make it through the ‘chicken yard’ without too much dancing,  wing dipping and rooster squawking…

Apparently, the rooster will continue to look for a rematch. Aunt Mary’s solution for an unredeemable, aggressive rooster was to pluck, singe his feathers and toss him into the stew pot. However Robert Plamondon says it is far more expedient to,

“offer up the little cockerel on Craig’s List and let someone else stew his spurs…”

Vickie A. Larsen