08/21/2017 A Voice From the Gallery

The August 7th, 2017, regular meeting of the Alcester City Council was called to order by Mayor Glas with five members present:  Councilman Dan Haeder, Councilwoman Darla Reppe, Councilman David Larsen, Councilwoman Audri Carlson and Councilwoman Julia Sundstrom-Lyle.  Absent Lance Johnson.

The meeting was opened at the Alcester Sewer Plant for a tour from 5:30 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. with a recess and “opening” the meeting at the Alcester Community Building at 6:00 p.m. Upon recital of the Pledge of Alliance the council approved the agenda minus my request of agenda placement and no discussion, approved the minutes with no discussion of the regular July 5, 2017, and the extra July 13, 2017, meeting.  Once those housekeeping chores were completed, Mayor Glas (?) called the Developers Agreement-North Industrial Park Update and the plat agreement for Greg Kleinhans parcel.  Alcester City Attorney Haugland gave an explanation of the details and explained the Pro forma agreement which will be addresses in the September meeting.

Two other agenda items included no update on the Village West Apartment Ordinance violation (so why place this item on the agenda?) and the 306 Iowa Property which Alcester City Attorney Haugland explained had an August 12, 2017, deadline to respond to legal notification.  Agenda Item 8, Support Options from the city for the Tragedy was called.  Simply put, this item was explained as some sort of financial help from the taxpayers of Alcester city.  One councilperson protested donation of any city funds.  Past mayors and councils have not spent tax dollars, committed tax dollars or donated tax dollars to fundraisers for private sector causes, matching or otherwise.  If council members wished to donate to a cause, they could donate personally but no city funds were to be donated to private entities or individuals.

        Regarding the suggestion from another council member to establish a fund to which the city would match donations.  The city does not operate like a private business which can pick and chose to which entities they want to contribute and the monetary amount they wish to contribute.  The city cannot operate in that way.  It is interesting to note here that not one word, reference or appreciation was acknowledged by Mayor Glas or Alcester city FO Jurrens advising the council members or gallery that according to  KDLT news item by Sydney Kern titled, “Small Towns Sticking Together“, dated July 30, 2017, the finance office had received or was to receive a portion of proceeds generated during the “music-on-the-patio” event held at The Canton Barn.   See article at http://www.kdlt.com/2017/07/2017/small-towns-sticking-together/

      So why was the council left in the ‘dark’ …again!  The council was left to think about this fundraiser until the next meeting.  The city of Alcester should not be paying tax dollars into fundraisers, individual city representatives certainly can pay out-of-their-personal-pockets into fundraisers  but NOT expend city funds.

        Next agenda item was Public Input.  On July 19, 2017, I formally asked for agenda placement above and beyond public input.  For those of you who do not know, most public input is not recorded as official minutes, rarely acted upon and treated by Mayor Glas as a totality(eclipse slang) blow-off.  I specified the purpose for my inclusion on the agenda was to discuss policies, practices and personnel to which FO-Pat leaped like a toe-dancer doing a Grand jeté, airbourne split ‘n’ all, to the conclusion I wanted to talk about her.  H-m-m guilty conscience rising like millefoil on a shallow pond!

First up on Public Input was the 911 dispatch lawsuit against the cities in Union County was dismissed with prejudice.  Thank you former Mayor Peter Larsen for actually representing and protecting the citizens of Alcester.  For those who don’t know, the Union County Commissioners primarily Doyle Karpen and Ross Jordan started making noises about billing the cities in Union County for 911 dispatching at a rate per municipal resident excluding rural residents and the CID Dakota Dunes.  Note Dakota Dunes is not a municipality, it is a CID.  It cannot levy local sales taxes, cannot operate a police force and would not be subject to the Union County Commissioner 911 dispatch Municipal Resident Tax.  Alcester Mayor Peter Larsen reached out to the Mayors of Beresford, Elk Point, Jefferson and North Sioux City to form a coalition to stop this movement by the Union County Commissioners.  This mayoral alliance met, discussed the dispatch issue and agreed this fee was not something the cities wanted.  The mayoral alliance scheduled a meeting with the commissioners and asked Mayor Peter Larsen to be their spokesman.  The group presented their position, suggested an opt-out and the commissioners scheduled an opt-out vote.  This opt-out would tax everyone in the county; urban, rural and CID with full parity.  The op-out vote was successful BUT, the then seated commissioners used the opt-out money for other 911 purposes and proceeded to bill the cities of Beresford, Elk Point, Jefferson, North Sioux City and Alcester for dispatch, culminating in a lawsuit when the cities refused to pay the fee.  The 911 dispatch lawsuit has now been dismissed.  Thank you former Mayor Peter Larsen for reaching out, organizing an alliance with your fellow Mayors in Beresford, Elk Point, Jefferson and North Sioux City to stand as a united front against the county commissioners fee and for standing up for the residents of Alcester!

I was next on Public Input.  I distributed an approximate twenty-two page, combed document outlining what I would have presented with more discussion depth had I been allowed on the agenda.  Part I, the Introduction was a history of my request to be placed on the August 7th, 2017, agenda and is set out in the 08-17-2017 A Voice from the Gallery.

Part II of the 08/07/2017 document was a copy of a complaint I made to the Property Maintenance Code Officer which included photograph, a code violation complaint form citing the violation name, address, telephone number and violation which was a roll off container with flammable materials in the central business center of Alcester.  The most notable detail of this violation is that other residents have reported being cited by Code Enforcement for having a woodpile next to their home and other similar infractions but it is okay for a ‘permanent’ open container roll off filled with dimensional wood, wood scraps and wood based demolitions to be placed adjacent to a neighboring building in the central business center, finished product stored on city parking r.o.w. and of course the nepotic connection.  This complaint along with photograph was presented to the Code Enforcement Officer Geoffrey Fillingsness on June 1, 2017.  As of August 21, 2017, I STILL have not received confirmation of receipt from this contract based, quasi employee of Alcester City!  It is interesting to note that apparently FO Pat accompanies Code Enforcement Officer Fillingsness on his Alcester inspection rounds, ‘spose she points out her pet peeves?  I included the copy of my complaint to Code Enforcement, a face page of the certificate of adoption of Ordinance 137,  copy of the extant zoning map adopted February 1972, Article 4 zoning districts 401 and 402, Article 8 describing the Central Business Center, Article 14 and extant supplementary District Regulations.

Part III of the 08/07/2017 document was a copy of a letter dated 02/10/2017, concerning non-receipt of my water bill issue arising because FO Pat couldn’t be bothered to send water bill by mail.  Alcester water bills come in post card form with our personal information on it which subjects residents to the possibility of identity theft.  Also included in Part III was a copy of an email to FO Pat from the city attorney on 02/17/2017, instructing the FO Pat to mail the bill.  We pay a lump sum once a year and work off of a credit balance.  FO Jurrens failed to mail statements to save money (Folks she was paying a postcard postal rate, all of $.34 per month for a grand total of $4.08 a year) but would only provide a statement when the balance dropped below the monthly rate.  My husband received this FO note, went to the City offices around 2:00 p.m. on a week day to discuss the FO’s position and found the office closed up tighter than a misers purse on pay day, so he walked on down the street and spoke to the Alcester City Attorney who was in his office.  This city business meeting would later be brought up by Councilman Lance Johnson who whizzed and moaned about the Larsens getting free legal advice on the city’s dime.  The finance office was closed at 2:00 p.m. on a workday! Lately this seems to happen more routine than as a rarity.  Part III included a torn water bill for July 3, 2017, which was torn and delayed by sixteen days and would have been subject to a $5/month late fee.  Discussion included questions from the council concerning identity theft in which I explained how I could steal their identities using the information provided on the post card.  I could have shown them, but I prefer not to have a felony on my record.  The FO responded to a council question regarding how many billing postcards were lost with the FO’s reply was “several” but they always worked it out. I put offered the information that utilities billings in most cities are handled with a statement sheet/bill inside of an envelope for security reasons.

These were two issues regarding policies and practices of the Alcester Finance Office and since I was only allowed five minutes.  Regarding the personnel issue, in the 08/17/2017 A Voice from the Gallery there was an email exchange which shows the behavior and practicing attitude of FO Jurrens and apparently the Code Enforcement Officer.  When a resident files a complaint and signs the complaint they darn well deserve an answer, see corrective measures and not have their heads patted by the ‘mayor’ and blown off.

At this point we have achieved Item 9 on a 15 item agenda.  More to come.