06/21/2018 A Voice From the Gallery

If I am silent it’s because there is a thunder inside me Or I am just chillin’, it depends.  May the odds be ever in your favor.

author unknown

Before I begin my commentary on the June 11, 2018, special city council meeting, upon advice my comments involving the legal procedure for filling of a vacancy on the council had an error I make the following correction.

First it is important to know that city of Alcester is by definition a second class municipality.   According to SDCL § 9-2-1, “…Municipalities of the second class are municipal corporations with a population between five hundred and five thousand…”.

Second the city of Alcester is by definition as aldermanic consisting of a mayor and what is called a common council, this form of government is generally referred to as a strong council, weak mayor meaning a council of six voting members versus one mayor who does not have the power of vote beyond ties and contrary to Mayor Glas and Finance Officer Pat Jurrens apparent belief of a strong mayor, weak council and one terminally pushy Finance Officer operating under the delusion she is City Manager.  According to SDCL  § 9-2-3, “…Each municipality shall be governed by a board of trustees, a mayor and common council, OR by a board of commissioners. (Source: SDC 1939, § 45.0401; SL 1992, ch 60, § 2; SL 2000, ch 34, § 1.)”

Correction

SDCL §9-8-5 Titled Power of council to judge members and govern proceedings-Bribery vacating office.

    “The council is the judge of the election and qualification of its members. The council determines its rules of procedure, and may punish its members for disorderly conduct, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds of the aldermen may expel a member…(Source: SL 1890, ch 37, art IV, §§ 6, 7; RPolC 1903, §§ 1203, 1204; RC 1919, § 6210; SDC 1939, § 45.0704; SL 2017, ch 56, § 6.)”

and

SDCL §9-13-14.1 Titled Filling of vacancy on municipal governing body-No special election.

“Filling of vacancy on municipal governing body–Appointment or special election. If a vacancy exists on a municipal governing body, the remaining members shall appoint a replacement to serve until the next annual municipal election, or the vacancy may be filled by special election for the remainder of the unexpired term as provided in § 9-13-14.2. In the aldermanic form of municipal government, the appointment shall be a person from the same ward of the municipality. If electing a person to fill the remainder of the unexpired term at an annual municipal election, the vacancy shall have occurred prior to the publication required by § 9-13-6.  (Source: PolC 1877, ch 24, § 18; CL 1887, § 1039; SL 1890, ch 37, art IV, §§ 6, 7; RPolC 1903, §§ 1203, 1204, 1434; RC 1919, §§ 6198, 6210; SL 1931, ch 200, § 2; SDC 1939, §§ 45.0603, 45.0704; SDCL §§ 9-7-4, 9-8-6; SL 1979, ch 50, § 2; SL 1992, ch 60, § 2; SL 2005, ch 48, § 5; SL 2006, ch 28, § 1; SL 2010, ch 74, § 5.)”

With those citations serving as basis for correction of my previous comment regarding the appointment and ratification of Councilmember Linda Talbott simply put and according to statute not practice, it is up to the five remaining, duly seated members of the council to secure a candidate, appoint and ratify the candidate for interim council member NOT the mayor nor the Finance Officer.

Now to the meeting of the special meeting of the Alcester City Council which appears to act as the Cliff Notes version of a Bigger Problem.

The special meeting was called to order by Mayor Glas with Councilwoman Linda Talbott, Councilwoman Melissa Kay, Councilwoman Darla Reppe, Councilman Dan Haeder, Councilman David Larsen, City Attorney Sam Nelson and oh yeah, Councilman Lance Johnson present.

Agenda Item #4 – Police Department

  1. a) Police personnel Discussion- the June 4, 2018,  the language of the Councilman Lance Johnson’s motion to hire Jeff Christie as Alcester Police Chief was restricted to specific contract language regarding salary versus hourly wage.  Historically Alcester Police Chief’s were salaried positions.  It is extremely important to note here certain groups of workers are excluded from over-time pay.  As I understand it, Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires all covered non-exempt employees be paid overtime pay at no less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay for all hours of work in excess of 40 in a work week.  However Section 13(b)(2) of the FLSA provides an overtime exemption to law enforcement or fire protection employees of a public agency that employs less than five employees during the workweek in law enforcement or fire protection activities.  So is this Mayor Cheap-Glas’s move to low-ball our police officers pay and hand over quasi-control of our police department to FO Pat?

There are three criteria used to determine if the employee is exempted from the minimum wage and over-time protections. 1) the employee must be paid a pre-determined and fixed salary that is not subject to reduction, 2) the salary paid must meet a minimum specified amount and 3) the employees job duties must primarily involve executive , administration or professional duties as defined by the regulations (duties test).

So explain it to us Mayor Cheap-Glas’d, explain in detail why you and your minion FO Pat pushed to reduce the Salary of the Alcester Police Chief to an Hourly wage?  Oh and don’t fob us off on advice of counsel, that tired old response has run its course of credibility.  Oh and while you are at it, explain why conditions are not retro-active (00:05:55), to Police Chief Chris’ salary?

AND of course the city is not barred from paying over-time to our officers.  It does have the discretionary power to pay over-time to its officers.

Agenda Items #5-Warrants and Agenda Item #6 – Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Training were disposed of through vote.  The Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Training was scheduled for the week of July 9 with a morning session as well as an afternoon session.

Agenda Item #7 – Executive session As usual the session was for personnel purposes, as far as the Alcester City Mayor and FO Pat Jurrens there is no other kind of purpose for executive session!  Council went into session at 6:15 p.m. and exited personnel executive session at 6:45 p.m.

Meeting was adjourned at approximately 6:46 p.m.

Folks nothing was introduced on pool slide rules or the imminent danger of injury due to the placement of the slide and rules of use, i.e. pool safety recommendations of  feet first sliding, no head first or backwards sliding, no child under the age of 6 years old without parent in the pool catching, only one child on slide or slide ladder at a time, no toys on the slide and roped off to keep swimmers out of the splash down zone.  I passed out pool slide rules from other sources including a national organization for safety last meeting for the council to read.  Evidently it is not as Finance Officer/Bookkeeper Pat Jurrens puts it, a high priority.  Alcester children it appears are not a high priority.  Imagine your 8 year old or 10 year old suffering a spinal cord injury with the life-long result of tetraplegia or paraplegia because the pool rules were not set or enforced.  Are you willing to bet your child’s future on FO Pat’s ability to distinguish high priority or ignorable priority.  FO Pat’s, Mayor Half-Glas’d and the city’s pocket are not deep enough to restore what may be lost through sheer ego and terminal stupidity!   

 

06/08/2018 A Voice From the Gallery

SPIRIT LAKE, IOWA

He was like a cock who thought the sun has risen to hear him crow.

George Eliot

“…That’s your problem…” retorted Spirit Lake City Administrator/City Attorney Gregg Owens.  Thus began the Friday, June 1, 2018, conversation between Spirit Lake city taxpayers and City Administrator Gregg Owens regarding the big blue Petri dishes the city dropped off  last week.

My husband Peter and I visited the Spirit Lake City offices on Friday, June 1, 2018,  to speak with City Administrator Owens concerning the garbage can situation after Peter had spoken to a city councilor and realized the city councilor was no more informed that we were.  We had received no letter of information on the substantive change in the way garbage was going to be handled with our water bill.  Our first knowledge was a telephone call telling us we had a big blue Petri dish (my term) with sail boats sitting at the end of our driveway.

When we stopped by the city offices on that Friday we asked to speak with Mr. Owens, he was on the telephone so we sat down to wait until he was free.  As we waited the staff in the city offices received numerous telephone calls, all with questions on the blue garbage cans recently deposited.  Judging from the responses by the staff, the questions ranged from type of materials to be place in the containers, placement on the curb, storage, and etc.

Finally Mr. Owens ended his telephone conversation and graced us with his presence.  When Peter explained our concerns on garbage placement on Sunday, pick up on Monday which presented the problem leaving the empty garbage can at the curb until we returned in a week or two weeks.  Mr. Owens gracelessly responded, “…that’s your problem…have your neighbor roll it back to your house…it is your responsibility…”

Since Peter had a meeting, we left and I returned alone for information.  I asked the clerk for a copy of the ordinance involving the change in garbage handling.  My request was still hanging in the air, when City Administrator Owen came rippin’ outta his office like he OD’d on his high colonic meds that morning, someone forgot to turn off the irrigation pumps and the only comfort station was the clerk’s counter!  Mr. Owens interrupted the clerk stating, “…the ordinance was not signed and he could not give me a copy…” and he abruptly returned to his office.  I asked the clerk where or how many of the blue garbage cans were purchased?  Bam! Here come da man wit da trots on the run stating, “… You (indicating me) can make a records request and at a cost of $10…the minutes are on-line” turned on his heel and returned to his office.  I asked the clerk about roll-off containers, enter Mad Dash Owens (and I don’t mean Jesse) streaming back into the conversation.  Why folks with all that to-ing and fro-ing from his office, I feared ol’ City Administrator Owens was going to do serious damage to his anal sphincter.  By this time I had the basic research information I needed, so I left.

Folks you were gifted with a brochure extolling all the benefits of the super-dooper single operator mobile armed garbage catapult.  Cost for the New Way Sidewinder/Peterbilt chassis per City Administrator Gregg Owens–$246,707.00, approximate cost of 2500 Blue Garbage cans $25 each for a net cost of $62,500.00, add $2-$5 for Logo printing plus shipping, handling, bond interest (if needed) and of course attorney fees for the drawing and filing of the resolution.

Let’s compare:

PRO – One operator                                 

CONTwo jobs lost

PRO – Safety-operator does not hang off truck back  

CON – Driver watching three camera’s (rear, left side & dump arm) driving distracted on residential streets.

PRO – Same green bag contraband rules

CON – Who is the bad garbage monitor- the driver watching road and cameras.

PRO – Clean-sanitary

CON – Great Petri-dish, ever put liquids or spoiled food in a sealed baggie and set it in the sun?

PRO – Bug proof

CON –  There is no significant rubber gasket on the  lid or the garbage can so enter flies, ants, maggots, gnats and the occasional code enforcement officer, Inspector Nit-pick-finder and louse storage next to your house—does garbage can ‘blue’ match your decor?

PRO – City Property

CON – You cannot put your name on the big blue Petri dish so it makes it easier to steal when the cross-town neighbor loses or damages his Great Blue Petri-Dish.

PRO – Clear street parking

CON – The 84,000 pound mobile armed garbage catapult vehicle must make two trips down all city streets.

PRO – Save payroll costs

CON – Implementation of  a street maintenance tax at around $1- $2 per frontage foot for those street repairs resulting in the two trips per week of  84,000 pounds per week instead of the approximate present single trip per week of 51,000 pounds per week.

PRO – Increase income from parking tickets.

CON – Plowing and towing tickets to taxpayers!

PRO – Free garbage cans.

CON – If lost, stolen or damaged $50+/- resident cost.

And lest we forget, the City Attorney Conflict

PRO:  City Attorney fees for each and every amendment to the resolutions/ordinance filed to fix City Administrator errors and omissions to the Great Garbage Debacle.

  CON:  Increase in Taxes for Taxpayers, Resident and Non-resident!

 

Contact your city council

ASK Councilman Jerry Harbst, Councilman Kevin Bice, Councilman Rodney James, Councilman Wes Farmer, Councilwoman Donna Fisher, OR City Administrator Gregg Owens—-WHY?

 

 

06/04/2018 A Voice From the Gallery

Giving money and power to our city council is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.

P.J. O’Rourke quote

Thus begins the commencement of the June 4, 2018, Alcester City Council with Councilman Dan Haeder, Councilman David Larsen, Councilwoman Melissa Kay, Councilwoman Darla Reppe, Council Candidate Linda Talbott, Alcester City Attorney Sam Nelson,  and oh yeah councilman Lance Johnson.

We all stood and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.  Then all the agenda line items were figuratively tossed into a lottery hopper, spun around and Mayor Half-Glas’d proceeded to pluck the agenda balls off the top of the hopper much like a Saturday night lottery ball pick.

Agenda Item #3 – Approve the Agenda

Agenda Item #4 – Approve Minutes of 05/07/2018 and 05/21/2018

Agenda Item #5 – Administer Oath of Office Ward 1 Candidate Linda Talbott (00:02:18) – I do not recall the council ratifying Mayor Half-Glas’ appointment of Mrs. Talbott.  According to SDCL 9-14-3,

 “…Each appointive officer of a municipality governed by a mayor and common council shall be appointed by the mayor with the approval of the council…”

So if I am correct, how does the vote of individual who has not been formally ratified and who has taken part in several council votes affect council business.

Agenda Item #6 – Mayor appointment of committee-Yup Mayor Half-Glas’d looked down at the list to see whom he appointed and to which committees.

Agenda Item #7 – Public Input-  I spoke first advising the council the pool rules are no longer present at the pool.  Prior to the beginning of the meeting I distributed copies of sample pool rules, highlighting rules which need to be instituted to conform to safety issues with a slide to each of the council members, council-candidate Talbott and City Attorney Sam Nelson.  I formally advised them of pool slide uses which due to liability exposure should be prohibited.  (00:04:29) NO Action.

(00:06:18) Mayor Glas took up space on public input (when he, as author of the agenda could have had an agenda item all to himself) complaining about properties in violation of green growth height and junk.  Yo Mayor, did ya forget we have property maintenance ordinances? Did ya forget we have a code ordinance enforcement officer, Geoff Fillingsness?  Have you not seen FO Pat wandering down the streets during city office business hours with her protégé and camera taking pictures of the weed realms?  Sir didn’t ya’ll get FO Pat’s’ memo on that one?

Ostensibly the ‘need’ for outside code enforcement is to take heat off local employees doing the ticketing job.  So when observant souls in Alcester see FO Pat and her entourage a haulin’ their fannies down the street and stopping in the weed realms to take pictures we are to assume they’re scrapbooking for the Alcester Historical Page of the Union?  Really!  I heard-tell of the golf-cart cortege and how the ‘girls’ were taking pictures of high-jump-sized weeds, drooping trees, eye-balling the height of over-hang and the Salvador Dali school of junk art.  Since no one reported a jousting-style 14 foot pole with the golf-cart cadre or NBA basketball player with a l-o-n-g tape measure standing next to over-hanging trees, eyeball measurements are not best evidence and could be successfully challenged.

Mayor Half-Glas’d called upon the council for ideas TO FORCE ordinance compliance and as the character of Sergeant Schultz was often quoted in the TV series, Hogan’s Heroes, “…I know nothing…n-o-t-h-i-n-g…”  Glas-knost nothin’ neither!  But… but he is the mayor, he is supposed to know!

Since it wasn’t 6:30 pm yet, Mayor Half-Glas’d pulled Agenda item #9 from the top of the lottery tumbler.  Lonnie Johnson gave a synopsis of street updates, flashing cross light with no push buttons and pool updates.  Here was the perfect opportunity for the council to address potential changes in the pool rules or at least have the pool committee of Councilwoman Darla Reppe, Councilman David Larsen and councilman Lance Johnson set up a meeting to address the liability, insurance and pool rules as they apply to the new ‘used’ ‘slide’.  NOPE-didn’t happen!

Still not 6:30 p.m. so Mayor Half-Glas’d moved onto Agenda Item 10 – Water/Wastewater Dale Pearson.  OOPS Mayor didn’t get the memo Dale was not present, so Mayor Half-Glas’d had Lonnie Johnson give the water/wastewater synopsis.

Agenda Item #11 – Police Department-Police Chief Chris Doty was not able to be present so Mayor Glas hop-scotched onward.

Agenda Item #12 –  Golf Course Updates – Councilman David Larsen gave an update on golf course.  Items b and c were postponed until later in the meeting because they required executive session.

Agenda Item #13 – Finance Office Updates –

  1. a) Parking at the Park – concrete bridge near horseshoe pit blocks access for the two northern most homes on Park Place.  Evidently the alley of clown concreters  ‘…did the city a favor…’ by what appears to be an unauthorized change order by building a Dukes of Hazard style ramp/bridge which ‘precipitated’ the flooding of a ‘down-stream’ home.  Who let this pratfall of clowns out unsupervised?  The council cemented their decision to delegate by handing this exercise in concrete off to Alcester City Attorney Sam Nelson so he could present them with a firm solution.
  2. b) Fitting Madam’s door.  Evidently Madam’s door was too short, so Mr. Pies was hired to lower the hem on her door.  Councilman Haeder assured the Mayor and the council that Madam had been take care of.

IT IS 6:30 p.m. Now we go back in ‘Agenda time’ to Agenda Item #8 – City Council Public Hearing for 2018 Planning and Zoning.  Alcester Councilman David Larsen moved to accept the changes in the Zoning Ordinance, Councilman Lance Johnson made the second and with no further discussion the council voted to accept the changes and officially accept the first reading of the 2018 Planning and Zoning Ordinance.  Although the term ‘Planning’ in this context has been to date an oxymoron.

Mayor Half-Glas’d be-bopped back to Agenda Item #11 and Police chief candidate and part-time police officer candidate interviews.  At 6:35 p.m. councilman Lance Johnson moved to go into executive session to conduct police department interviews, second came from Councilwoman Melissa Kay and with no discussion the group voted unanimously to enter executive session for the purpose stated.

LANCE JOHNSON

(00:35:43)  councilman Lance Johnson in response to your pronouncement that I am not a council member.  That is true but neither is Pat Jurrens a member of the Alcester City Council, she gave that up to poach the position of Alcester Finance Officer.  Finance Officer Jurrens has no special insight, no special employee interview talents nor does she have legal standing over any other resident of the City of Alcester to be included in executive session, therefore in your own words councilman Lance Johnson she needed to, “…get out!…”

In addition any historical information concerning wages, resumes, applications is contained within city records available to each and every council member.

Currently, the city of Alcester makes no record of executive session therefore the presence of the city attorney needed unless he is supplying legal advice or opinion.  Should a written record be needed, the president of the council acts as recorder.  Therefore councilman Lance Johnson if the meeting is open enough to support Pat Jurrens presence, it can support my presence as well as any other interested parties presence which in fact makes the meeting open.

At the conclusion of the executive session at 8:35 p.m., the mayor entertained council motions, seconds-to-the-motions and votes to hire Jeff Christie as Police Chief and Kendra Windeshausen as part time officer

The mayor re-called Agenda Item #12 (b) and (c).  Golf Course Committee Chair David Larsen raised the questioned whether the council still needed to go into executive session for the golf course.  FO Pat piped up and said yes.  Curious the guy who is the Golf Course Committee Chairman having an active participation in the daily operations of the Alcester Golf Course questions the need for executive session and yet Finance Officer Pat Jurrens over-ruled him on the need for executive session. H-m-m!

The Council returned to Agenda Item #13 (c) (1) for the Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Training course.  Date of Training and unlike the TV series, MASH character Five o’clock Charlie the group could not land on a time for the training just they felt they needed to be trained.  The question was never called, so no action on the item.

Agenda Items 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 were superfluous and quickly dispatched, so finally Agenda Item #19 Adjournment was called and with all the alacrity of the last Amen after a two hour sermon in a non-air-conditioned church on a piping, hot day the council voted to adjourn.

After the meeting I questioned Mayor Glas what his reason for keeping Pat Jurrens in Executive sessions was, he hesitated but replied, “…it’s personal…”  I replied how can it be personal, you are mayor, how can your inclusion of Pat Jurrens in executive sessionto interview Police Chief and part-time police officer be personal?  I didn’t get a responsive answer, only that the city attorney told him he could keep Pat Jurrens in executive sessions a-n-d so the conversation devolved.  I walked outside, came across the city attorney and ask him if he had told Mayor Glas that Finance Officer Pat Jurrens could stay in executive session that didn’t require her bookkeeping duties.  I got a surprises, non responsive answer but did take part in a spirit debate on why FO Pat should not be included in executive session since she is no more a member of the Alcester city council than I am.

05/31/2018 A Voice From the Gallery

He was like a cock who thought the sun had risen to hear him crow.

 George Eliot

A-w-w gee I seem to have acquired a lil’ ol’ motorcycle riding barnacle who reminds me of a character in the television series, MASH.  They called him Five o-clock Charlie whose one and only accomplishment was the only thing he could hit on the nose was five o’clock. 

Yup that lil’ ol’ motorcycle barnacle comes cruising past my house reg’lar as clockwork and revs his little Shetland pony sized engine.  Ya gotta know how proud he is that he finally reached the top of the sign that says he is ‘big’ enough to ‘ride’!  Although yesterday when he was a crowdin’ my bumper, I swear I saw a fold-up step stool ridin’ pillion with him just in case he tips over at a stop sign.

Why lil’ ol’ motorcycle barney comes around so often, folks on Lincoln Drive set their clocks by his attempts to keep his lil’ ol’ motor-scooter running–even down-hill. Maybe if he adjusted his throttle properly he wouldn’t have to keep twisting it like the lid on a baby gherkin pickle jar.

So lil’ Mister Three-O’Clock Barney in the words of the character Gracie Hart in the movie, ‘Miss Congeniality’ keep it up with the noisy drive-bys and I am going to think, “…you l-i-k-e me, you really l-i-k-e me…”