03/05/2018 A Voice From the Gallery

A picture may be worth a thousand words,  but a video with audio is priceless and it makes it tough to call me a liar-Vickie Larsen

On Monday, March 5, 2018, Mayor Tom Glas announced it was 6:00 p.m. let’s open the meeting. (video 00: 00:11).  Really again?  Alcester City Council members present; Councilman Dan Haeder, Councilman David Larsen, Councilwoman Julia Sundstrom-Lyle, Councilman Lance Johnson, Councilwoman Darla Reppe and Councilwoman Melissa Kay.  Absent city attorney representative. Action taken during any meeting that is not open or has not been properly noticed could, if challenged, be declared null and void.  It could even result in personal liability for members of the governing body involved, depending upon the action taken. (CONDUCTING THE PUBLIC’S BUSINESS IN PUBLIC, A guide to South Dakota’s Open Meetings Law (Revised Fall 2015),Prepared by representatives of the:  S.D. Attorney General’s Office S.D. Municipal League Associated School Boards of S.D. S.D. Association of County Commissioners S.D. Association of County Officials S.D. Newspaper Association S.D. Broadcasters Association S.D. Association of Towns and Townships, Published by: South Dakota Newspaper Association 1125 32nd Ave. Brookings, SD 57006)

 John Wooden said, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?”

Mayor Glas, here is an abbreviated script of calling a meeting to order,  “Good evening! It’s 6:00 p.m. and I’d like to call the March 5, 2018, regular meeting of the Alcester City Council meeting to order.”  You could have cue cards made and have someone hold up the appropriate card, whenever you need prompting.

Agenda Item #3-Approve the agenda Mayor Glas upon calling for approval of agenda announced the meeting agenda once again needed to be amended by adding item (d) bid for chip sealing to Agenda Item #8.  Once an agenda has been posted no changes can be made unless they are emergencies.  Folks, chip sealing was already discussed in the February 5, 2018, regular meeting under City Employee updates under street updates referencing a collaboration with the city of Beresford.  The February 5 agenda regular meeting agenda change of a one-time burn at the golf course was not an emergency nor was the chip sealing issue an emergency on the March 5 agenda regular meeting change.  Agenda’s must be posted no later than 24 hours in advance of the meeting.

SDCL 1-25-1.1.”Notice of meetings of public bodies other than the state and its boards, commissions, and departments–Violation as misdemeanor. All public bodies, except the state and each state board, commission, or department as provided in § 1-25-1.3, shall provide public notice, with proposed agenda, that is visible, readable, and accessible for at least an entire, continuous twenty-four hours immediately preceding any meeting, by posting a copy of the notice, visible to the public, at the principal office of the public body holding the meeting…”

 Agenda Item #4-Approve minutes – Mayor Glas called the question to approve minutes, Councilwoman Darla Reppe moved to accept the minutes (as provided to the council by Finance Officer Pat Jurrens)  Councilman David Larsen called for correction to the minutes.  Councilman Larsen pointed out the regular city council meeting was held on Monday, February 5, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. not Sunday, February 4, 2018, at 6:00 p.m.  In addition he pointed out the Masthead date on the city’s official paper, The Alcester Union-Hudsonite was inaccurate.  The Masthead date showed the date of Thursday, February 18, 2018.  February 18 was a Sunday not a Thursday.  Please note here that Finance Officer Pat Jurrens failed to inform the council she did not have the correct date of the regular meeting, thereby allowing the council to approve an error.  The council approved the corrected minutes of February 5, 2018.

Agenda Item #5-Public Input– I(Vickie Larsen) answered the call for public input.  I pointed out the council had approved the Alcester Union-Hudsonite newspaper as the official city newspaper and published legal documents and notices with time sensitive dates.  Any Masthead date errors such as the February 18, 2018, could have consequences regarding the time period to refer ordinances, resolutions and etc.  For example the flowery prosy Extract of Minutes of Meeting of the City Common Council of City of Alcester, dear sweet Aunt Polly.  In what archaic book of forms did the finance office find that one?  This creative alliterative prose wasn’t drawn up by the former city attorney and I checked with the office of the new city attorney and they said they didn’t write this piece of ye olde prose (my words not theirs), so I must assume the finance office put on their round conical lawyer hat and ‘writ’ their own resolution.  Now this resolution from the date of publication, February 18, 2018, we the people have 20 days to refer this assault on our collective wallets.  Oh but February 18, 2018, was on a Sunday.  I recommended the council confer with their legal counsel.  After some discussion the council decided to contact the publisher of The Alcester Union-Hudsonite for a correction in the next issue of the newspaper which in my opinion could have the effect of adding another seven days on to the already three day late publish date.  In other words, it could have the effect of adding another ten days in which to refer Ye olde sales tax revenue bond.  I also recommended the Finance Officer indicate the whether the minutes were council approved or unapproved minutes.  It is important for the citizens of Alcester to understand current practice has been to publish the unapproved minutes with any corrections MAYBE coming the month later publication of minutes and again in unapproved publication form!

Agenda Item #6 Road Safety Improvement Project DOT 929-08/2015 Joint Powers PH0020 (187) PCN-06JK – this involved sign replacements as translated by Finance Officer Pat Jurrens.  The council was provided a copy of the contract required for participation in this project for replacing street signs.  Alcester Finance Officer Pat Jurrens prefaced her explanation (video 00:08:35) with reference to the Alcester City Council of Four years ago took the line that they were unwilling to cover the liability of sign replacement if for some reason the signs were destroyed.  H-m-m so who was on that council?  Let’s see Mayor Rick Johnson,  Mark Dykstra, Mike Burke, Kama Johnson, David Larsen and of course COUNCILWOMAN PAT JURRENS!

The story goes like this, “In the May 5, 2014, regular meeting of the Alcester City council…MAYOR RICK JOHNSON announced he signed up for ‘free street signs and wanted council permission to sign an agreement ASAP.  Councilman Larsen and Councilman Dykstra asked to see the agreement since MAYOR RICK JOHNSON failed to share advance information with the council.  Upon reading the city would be liable for the cost of materials and engineering if it didn’t maintain the signs and records.  The council said NO!  Given his responses to questions, it became clear MAYOR RICK JOHNSON failed to ‘read’ the agreement he was so anxious to sign because apparently he missed the payback clause and the cost of payback! WOW…”*

Imagine Finance Office Pat Jurrens ‘FORGOT’ all about her starring role as Alcester Councilwoman during that discussion.  Imagine that!  WATCH OUT FOR THE FO BUS BOYS!  Mayor Glas and FO Pat want those street signs up to code and BY Golly Gummed Up catastrophe it NEEDS to be done!  Now folks the council voted to approve this time but the scary thing is Councilman Lance Johnson voted to do the visual sign replacement with the second coming from Councilwoman Melissa Kay, discussion happened and the good folks realised they needed to amend the motion to allow Mayor Glas and Finance Officer Pat Jurrens to sign the document (presumably) WITHOUT presenting the final document to the council for approval.  Watch video of this (video 00:23:51)  Anyone have a problem with this scenario?  We really want to trust a pair that have trouble getting the agenda right not once but at least twice.  Or get the date of the regular city council meeting correct BEFORE putting it out for publication?

*Vickie A. Larsen, a View from the Gallery,  published May 15, 2014, The Alcester Union-Hudsonite newspaper.

Agenda Item #7 Planning and Zoning–  Set meeting for public hearing for the next council meeting on April 2, 2018, 6:15 p.m.

Agenda Item #8-Street Department – (c)  parking on 4th street and feuding neighbors.  Yup folks it is true.  Finance Officer Pat brought up an incident where two parties were creating a bottleneck on a narrow street and FO Pat thought the city might need to another parking ordinance limiting parking on one side of the street only.  ONE INCIDENT and she was questioning a need for an ordinance?  Ya Kiddin’ me.  Leave it to the police department!

Agenda Item #10-Police Department – Alcester Police Chief Chris Doty gave an update on department activities in the past month specifically referencing a mutual aid call to Beresford on the ‘trunk jumper’ in Beresford on Thursday, February 22, 2018.  There was NO agenda item involving an Executive session for the Police Department.  At the conclusion of Chief Doty’s updates, council members briefly talked among themselves with Councilman Lance Johnson asking, “… about that Thursday conversation with Chief Doty and whether it was common knowledge”, (video 01:02:25)Chief Doty replied, “no”.  At which Councilman Dan Haeder moved to go into Executive session for personnel, the second came from Councilman Lance Johnson, council approved and Mayor Glas declared the council in Executive session and Pat Jurrens remained in the Executive session with the council.  At this point Pat Jurrens has no privileged standing, therefore she should not be included in the Executive session unless she is the focus of allegations.  Since Pat Jurrens is not a member of the Police Department she is not entitled to be a part of the discussion.  If notes are required, the president of the council is called upon to take any session notes, not the city bookkeeper!

I QUESTION THE VALIDITY OF EXECUTIVE SESSION TO DISCUSS PERSONNEL. 

Alcester Councilman Lance Johnson asked about some information Chief Chris Doty shared with him on Thursday night.  Councilman Lance Johnson asked the question, “IS THIS COMMON KNOWLEDGE?”  If Councilman Lance Johnson is asking this question, it means a specific named employee of the city was not the focus of the Executive session!  A Violation of Executive session!  SDCL 1-25-2 allows a public body to close a meeting for the following purposes: 1) to discuss personnel issues pertaining to officers or employees;… Any official action based on discussions in executive session must, however, be made at an open meeting.”

Agenda Item 12 (h) Employee Updates-Finance Office – Executive session  Now folks this generic Executive session operates as a JUST-IN-CASE-WE NEED-IT-EXECUTIVE-SESSION because as I explained above if it is not included on the agenda, it cannot happen! (i.e. the police department executive session).

Mayor Glas called Executive session agenda item, asking if anyone needed an Executive session. (video 01:36:28 )  Councilwoman Melissa Kay raised her hand and commented, ” I would like to discuss some things in the employee manual (waving what appeared to be the employee manual) and police manual…”  Councilwoman Melissa Kay moved to go into Executive session to discussion personnel issues, second came from Councilman Dan Haeder.  Vote Aye times 6.  The council entered into Executive session at 7:56 p.m. and exited the session at 8:26 p.m.

I AGAIN QUESTION THE VALIDITY OF EXECUTIVE SESSION TO DISCUSS PERSONNEL. 

A Violation of Executive session!  SDCL 1-25-2 allows a public body to close a meeting for the following purposes: 1) to discuss personnel issues pertaining to officers or employees;  Specific employees or officers!  First, any Employee Manual employee violation and any Police Manual violations cannot be dealt within  ONE Executive session.  VIOLATION  It is not an appropriate  discussion if employees should be allowed to take their PTO for illness to take care of children under school age when the spouse is sick.  Or even when employees can or cannot take PTO, Leave or Comp time—NOT Executive session material.  Second, the Police Manual in and of itself  is not Executive session material valid.  What cannot be discussed in open session is specific investigations or events.

Agenda Item #14-HRC UPDATE-Mayor Glas is upset ’cause the HRC committee said the little Beck Drive lot sign on SD Hwy 46 was ineffective and needed to be moved.  I told the Mayor and council this some time ago.  The rule of thumb in Highway advertising is the traveling speed on the highway, the number of seconds a person has to view the sign at that speed, eye or above eye level and complexity of the sign.  One must KISS it for highway advertising.  Keep the design simple, 3-5 second readability and eye level or above.  The Beck drive sign on Highway 46 is down in the ditch, complex design and the lettering is so small one has to stand on the highway for full readability.  Mayor Glas had already purchased the signs, they were a sittin’ in the basement for a year and by golly they needed to be put up and he finally got the job done.  Five signs at (just guessing here) $150-$200 a pop and totally worthless for outside city limits advertising.  Salute Mayor Glas!  Check out ( video 01:39:54)

Agenda Item #15-Alcester Community Building-Real Estate Purchase Agreement.  Agreement needs changes regarding dates, liability and etc.  The council authorised Mayor Glas and Finance Officer Pat Jurrens to sign the final draft.  I  feel the council should review the final draft of any agreement before Mayor Glas and Finance Officer Jurrens sign it, we have had too many revisions and amendments because the Mayor and city bookkeeper cannot accurately proof read legal documents as to dates and contexts.  These signatures could bind the city inextricably to conditions Alcester city residents/taxpayers cannot afford.

Agenda Item #18 Adjourn  Meeting was adjourned at 8:39 p.m.

Board of Equalization appeal deadline:  March 15, 2018

Board of Equalization meeting:  March 19, 2018  6:00 p.m.

Regular Alcester City Council Meeting April 2, 2018, 6:00 p.m.

Planning and Zoning Public Hearing:  April 2, 2018  6:15 p.m.

Election:  April 10, 2018