12/31/2017 A Voice From the Gallery

Mayor Tom Glas called the December 29, 2017, special meeting of the Alcester City Council to order at 7:00 a.m. with Councilwoman Darla Reppe, Councilwoman Julia Sundstrom-Lyle, Councilman Dan Haeder, Councilman Lance Johnson present and Councilman David Larsen via telephone and Vickie Larsen in the gallery after which the group recited the Pledge of Allegiance.  City Attorney Chuck Haugland was not present.

This meeting was necessitated because Mayor Glas and Finance Officer Jurrens did not know the difference between a Resolution and an Ordinance and obdurately neglected to seek a definition from the city legal counsel, Chuck Haugland.  Over the past year or two Mayor Glas and Finance Officer Jurrens apparently feel the city is paying out too much for legal advice.  It has been Mayor Glas’ practice to excuse Mr. Haugland from city council meetings about an hour into the meeting while he (the mayor) wings the rest of the meeting on his and Finance Officer Jurrens’ own legal acumen, blithely allowing the council to make legally malinformed decisions.

Come to a meeting and see Mayor Glas clock-watch while Mr. Haugland is in the meeting. (maybe I can get it on tape)  Sadly the council accepts whatever Finance Officer Jurrens tells them regarding any agenda item, whether it lay within her scope of finance officer duties or not.  Many times when City Attorney Haugland is not present, the council gets an ‘explanation’ from Finance Officer Jurrens who has ‘talked’ to Mr. Haugland.  Now there is a theory in law called best evidence or best evidence rule which Black’s Dictionary describes as,

          “…Primary evidence, as distinguished from secondary;  original, as distinguished  from substitutionary…The original of a written instrument is itself always regarded as the primary or best possible evidence…a copy or the recollection of a witness, would be secondary evidence…”[1]

In other words Alcester City Attorney Chuck Haugland’s opinion  in person is the best evidence, not the recollections or translations of his and FO Pat’s conversations  presented to the council by Finance Officer Jurrens in Mr. Haugland’s absence.

The council ratified the motion to approve the agenda made by Councilwoman Darla Reppe, seconded by Councilman Dan Haeder, with no discussion and with a unanimous vote of five yeas.

The council went on to the second reading of the Supplemental Appropriation Ordinance 2017-12, with no changes or further discussion.  Upon Councilman David Larsen’s motion to approve, Councilman Lance Johnson’s second, the Alcester City Council ratified Supplemental Appropriation Ordinance 2017-12 with a five yea unanimous vote.

At this point Councilman Dan Haeder moved to forego the council and mayor’s meeting pay, Councilwoman Darla Reppe seconded the motion, and with the council’s unanimous vote the council agreed to forego pay for the December 29, 2017, special meeting.

Last item on the agenda was Executive Session.  Imagine that!  Immediately Councilman Lance Johnson piped up to say, “I want to discuss what I found out about equipment in executive session…”  I sat quietly watching Mayor Glas look toward Finance Officer Jurrens a couple of times before Finance Officer Jurrens told Councilman Lance well she needed know more information.  Then FO Pat with a couple other chiming voices responded we cannot go into executive session for equipment eliciting an immediate response from Councilman Lance Johnson, “…well then I move to go into executive session to discussion personnel.” (really transparent move there, Councilman Lance!)  At which point FO Pat provided him with the appropriated South Dakota Statute for personnel.   Councilwoman Darla Reppe seconded the motion, with no discussion the council with a unanimous vote of five yeas approved the move to closed session at 7:03 a.m.  As I exited the room, I stopped to point out to the council they could only discuss specific personnel and they could not discuss equipment or anything else.  I was called back into the council room.   As I entered the room, Mayor Tom Glas called the meeting out of executive session at 7:07 a.m.  Upon the Mayor’s declaration, Councilman Dan Haeder commented they would discuss the contract stuff in the January meeting.  The January regular Alcester city council meeting is scheduled for January 8*, 2018, at 6:00 p.m.

At this juncture Councilman Dan Haeder moved to adjourn, Councilwoman Julia Sundstrom-Lyle seconded the motion to adjourn, with no discussion the group voted five unanimous yeas to adjourn.

Meeting was adjourned at 7:08 a.m.

*Waiting for confirmation.  Confirmation received today, meeting is January 8, 2018, at 6:00 p.m.

[1] Henry , Campbell Black, Joseph Nolan and Jacqueline Nolan-Haley. “Best Evidence.” Black’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations. Abridged Sixth Edition, Centennial Edition (1891-1991). St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Company, 1991. 110. Print.