10/16/2018 A Voice From the Gallery

I felt some items from the October 1, 2018, Alcester City Council meeting needed additional attention.  First and foremost is the fact it is the Mayor’s job to set the agenda, not the finance officer’s position to decide any agenda item or fill up the agenda with her own ‘agenda’ items.

I would also like to point out what Mayor Glas deems necessary to conduct a city council meeting; one sheet of paper (which I presume is the agenda), one bottle of water, a pen and of course his name plate (see October 1, 2018 city council video)

Agenda Item #8 – Street Updates I have already shared the news that there will be no chip sealing of Alcester City Streets.   

  • WHY?
  • WAS THE 2018 MONEY BUDGETED FOR STREETS SPENT?
  • WHAT WAS IT SPENT ON?
  • WAS THE APPROXIMATE $37K FUNDS RECEIVED THROUGH THE STREET MAINTENANCE SPECIAL ASSESSMENT SPENT?
  • WHERE WAS THE $37K STREET MAINTENANCE ASSESSMENT SPENT?
  • IF NOT SPENT, WHERE DID THAT $37K GO? GENERAL FUND OR THE STREET FUND?

Notice our city streets especially where recent patching appears.  Many of our streets carry a black stripe about 18 inches in width which abuts the cement gutter and runs, almost the length of the block.  Wonder why?  The next time you take your robot-arm-friendly-trash container to the curb, think about where the wheels of the robotic garbage truck are juxta-positioned in relation to the curb and gutter as it latches onto your trash receptacle, now consider how heavy that Great Robotic garbage truck is (approx. 33,000 lbs empty to 51,000 lbs full (9 ton load)) and finally, consider the weight of vehicles for which the streets were designed all those years ago. Notice the squish effect in those areas of the streets not yet ‘patched’.

Agenda Item #10 – Police Department  As I have already discussed in the 10/01/2018 A Voice From the Gallery, I spoke up and was dinged for being out-of-order.  I invite you to go back to the October 1, 2018, video at (01:09:17) and listen to what Alcester City Attorney Sam said to the council, “…you do not have to answer questions from the gallery…”  and as I reported, a few moments later Alcester City Attorney Sam thought better of his response and requested time to, “…to go back to the On-Call…” and upon permission Alcester City Attorney Sam stated, “… in previous discussions (closed session) he had briefed the council on possibilities with regard to the On-Call Solution with a $2K compensation…”

Now folks let’s go back in time to the salary versus wage discussion the council had concerning the rate of pay and for Alcester Police Chief Jeff Christie where Alcester City Attorney Sam offered his opinion concerning what I would term the safer course of wage payment (CTA) for the Alcester Chief of Police would be a per hour wage over the then current offer and past practice of salary payment.  Again, I do believe all discussions relating to per hour wages versus salary were in closed session.  I believe that portion of the closed session was in violation of South Dakota Opening meetings statute because the council and Alcester City Attorney Sam were discussing changing a department payment schedule NOT discussing a specific employee.

I also believe Alcester City Attorney Sam the portion of the closed session/sessions discussing police payroll payments to which you referred (01:09:17), involving the over-time exemption rule and method of compensating our police officers for the hours they spend on-the-job was a generic discussion type of payroll payment not an individual police officer was another violation of South Dakota open meeting statute.  In addition, I believe Alcester City has the ability to compensate our police officers with overtime pay “at Alcester City’s discretion”.  Folks imagine working as a small town police officer where 60 or 80 hours on duty time is required.  Imagine the $18.00 per hour wages for only the 40 hours the council deigned to pay, now do the math!  Federal 2018 minimum wage is $7.25 per hour and South Dakota 2018 minimum wage is $8.85 per hour.  So at some point in those 80 some hours required of Alcester Police Chief and police officers, our law enforcement could be making less per hour than what Alcester pays a first year pool staff, non-WSI.

Now Alcester City Attorney Sam opined during the MUTCD (Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices) conversation something about Federal jurisdiction within a municipality.  I must have missed the change in US sovereignty after I graduated.  As I recall in an over-simplified form the Federal government holds sovereignty as outlined in the United States Constitution and grants sovereignty to the individual states who in turn grant sovereignty in form to its counties and municipalities.  I do believe the tenth amendment addresses this sharing of power and sovereignty protection to states, counties and municipal governments.  Simply put the Federal government relegates power to states, states relegate power to counties and cities.  The kicker being as I understand the power trickle- down theory in which states, counties and cities may amend Federal statute but ONLY to make the law more restrictive not less restrictive.  Analogy- the state of South Dakota says bars must close at 2:00 a.m., Alcester Council says,  “Madam Woolworth says she cannot possibly clear the bar at 2:00 a.m., so we will allow her to close at 2:30 a.m. and we will make an ordinance that affirms a 2:30 a.m. closing in place of the state mandated 2:00 a.m. closing.  Alcester does NOT have the authority to over-ride state statute (SDCL 35-4-81.2) by loosening the restrictive 2:00 a.m. state closing time to a less restrictive 2:30 a.m. closing.

Now onto Agenda Item #12 – Special Projects  

  • Agenda Item #12(E)(I) Wow! It appears I have achieved special projects status.  I asked for FOIA (Freedom of Information or South Dakota Sunshine) to obtain payroll reports of the total hours and line item break-downs of regular hours, over-time hours per and payments made per week over an approximate two year period for Alcester Police Chief Doty and Alcester Police Officer Dylan Nelsen.

In the past I have made FOIA requests for additional information not presented to or  made available to the residents of Alcester or the gallery.  In addition I always wondered when the push back was going to happen, so I was not overly surprised at the tactic Alcester Finance Officer took upon my June 12, 2018, FOIA request for the payroll reports.

I did not receive a denial but I did receive the next best thing a provisional billing from Finance Officer Pat Jurrens of the City of Alcester for, “…$40.00 per hour for Eight (8) hours of research time to pull time cards and check stubs…to produce copies…” for a grand total of $320.00.  I sent a reply that I would just access them without asking for copies.  I received another copy of the provisional billing stating, “…the cost would remain the same…”  Really?  Then I found there are NO TIMECARDS to pull, the employees use their cell phones or as I witnessed a week ago Alcester City Finance Officer Pat Jurrens logs them in on her computer.  In the course of this Pat-a-cake push back scenario, I requested the name of the accounting program and the name of the payroll program(QuickBooks and CheckMark respectively)both have the capability of producing reports detailing in an Excel-type format, the information for which I asked.

So feeling I had paid out enough line, I set the hook and filed a complaint with the South Dakota Office of Hearing Examiners detailing my official request and the City of Alcester reply.  This constitutes the 8 hour special project charge against the Finance Office.  Really?  Now Alcester Finance Officer Pat Jurrens expects $40.00 per hour

JUST TO DO HER JOB?  REALLY?

  • Agenda Item #12(E)(II) – Special Projects-Tree trimming Database/Letters-134 – 12 Hours. Oh my dear sweet, old Aunt Tillie!  Are ya kidding me?  12 hours to write a form letter reciting a tree-overhang violation?  Folks, think about it, obviously FO Pat has not.  Type up one form letter citing the code violation, save form letter to file, copy the list of residents from the water bill data base onto Avery Labels times 2 (one label for the letter and one label for the envelope), fold copies, insert into envelope, seal envelope, stamp and trot on down to the post office and that takes twelve hours.  Oh that is right we have a Property Maintenance Code Enforcement Officer Geoff Fillingsness, just what does he do now for his fee again?  Somehow I do not think he is running around in a golf cart with his young finance office live-in kid-at-your-back protégé eyeballing branch height and Kodaking the weed heights.  Nope I just do not think so, but I have noticed a pole on the street sweeper and I do not think that it is for a flag!

Again Special Project-Twelve hours? FOR DOING HER JOB? I am relieved the city has a janitor, I would hate to see how many hours it would take for the Special Project of changing the toilet paper in the City Offices restrooms!

 

 

10/01/2018 A Voice From the Gallery

“Democracy must be built through open societies that share information. When there is information, there is enlightenment. When there is debate, there are solutions. When there is no sharing of power, no rule of law, no accountability, there is abuse, corruption, subjugation and indignation.”
Atifete Jahjaga

Mayor Glas called the October 2, 2018, meeting of the Alcester City council to order in the Alcester-Hudson City-School Library at 6:00 p.m. with Alcester City Councilwoman Darla Reppe, Alcester City Councilwoman Melissa Kay, Alcester City Councilman David Larsen, Alcester City Councilman Dan Haeder and Alcester City Attorney Sam Nelson present. Absent were Alcester Councilwoman Linda Talbott and Alcester Councilman Lance Johnson.  Since a quorum was still intact, the meeting remained in session.

The meeting commenced with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Agenda Item #3Approval of the Agenda.  The agenda item order was changed by moving Agenda Item #17 – Executive Session 1-25-2 (3) Pending Litigation.  Councilman Haeder moved to approve the agenda with the change moving Agenda Item #17 – Executive Session to just after Agenda Item #11 – Golf Course Updates, Councilwoman Darla Reppe seconded the motion, and with no further discussion the group voted four ayes, zero nays to  approve the agenda as changed.

Agenda Item #4Approve Minutes of September 5, 2018 and September 14, 2018.  Councilwoman Melissa Kay moved to approve the September 5, 2018, council minutes and September 14, 2018, council minutes as written and distributed to the council via email.  No discussion and the quorum council voted four (4) aye and zero (0) nays.

Agenda Item #5 – Dee Cole Welcome.  Librarian Cole welcomed the group and gave an update of library usage, added WI-FI access, programs and hours of operation.

Agenda Item #6 – Stacy Johnson, Barb Johnson- Parking on Iowa Street.  These ladies brought their parking violation issue to the city council seeking redress.  These ladies received parking tickets on September 11, 2018, for parking in a no parking zone on Iowa Street.  At issue was the placement of the ‘No Parking’ sign placement.  At the place the ladies accessed Iowa street (a one-way street) the no parking sign was not visible and thought to be out of placement.  Alcester Street Department Representative Lonnie Johnson stated he used the MUTCD for placement of signs which is an acronym for the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.* The council visited among themselves, sought  input from the police department and opinion from City Attorney Sam Nelson and based upon input and opinion of legal theory declined to set aside the tickets, keeping the violations in force and payable.

* The state of South Dakota adopted the Millennium Edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices as it official manual for traffic control. Perhaps the city would be well served if in the future they direct the street department to paint the curb in addition to No Parking signage as suggested by MUTCD.

Agenda Item #7 – Public Input 

  • (00:26:29) I responded with a complaint the August 21, 2018, Alcester City Council Meeting Minutes were not published in the newspaper. This is the second occurrence of failure to publish minutes in a timely manner.

First failure incident involved the failure to publish notice for city council vacancy February 23, 2018, petition deadline. I had contacted Alcester Union-Hudsonite Shane Hill to confirm receipt of notification for publication, he confirmed he had not received an email from Alcester Finance Office Pat Jurrens.

This time it was the minutes for the August 20, 2018, minutes which did not appear but were approved in the September 5, 2018, Alcester City Council Meeting Minutes which appear in Volume 131, Issue 36, Thursday, September 13, 2018, edition of the Alcester Union-Hudsonite.  So where are the minutes…not published.  I called the Alcester Union-Hudsonite publisher Shane Hill and asked him.  He took my number and said he would get back to me.  Uhm, he didn’t get back to me but instead apparently telephone the Alcester Finance Officer to give her the heads up.  ‘Cause Finance Officer Jurrens upon   my input, explained to the council she included something in their ‘packet’.  SDCL 9-18-1 states,

“Governing body to publish minutes of meetings including statement of expenditures–Rate of payment for publication.  The governing body of each municipality shall publish, within twelve business days, the minutes for each meeting of the governing body including a detailed statement of all expenditures of money and the name of each person paid and the service provided.  The municipality shall pay for the publication of the minutes no to exceed ninety percent of the legal line rates for weekly newspapers and not to exceed the legal line rate for daily newspapers as provided in  17-2-19…”

and SDCL 9-18-1.1 states,

“Time for delivery of copy to official newspaper.  The finance officer shall maintain a record of the minutes published pursuant to § 9-18-1 and deliver a copy to the official newspaper within five business days from the date the meeting was held…”

  • Derek MacIntosh introduced himself as candidate for Union County Sheriff and spoke to his experience and his goals.
  • Alcester City Councilman Dan Haeder wanted to clarify in light of blow-back the city position on the feral cat round-up to, “…the use of all legal means…”.

Agenda Item #8 – Street Updates  Street Department Representative Lonnie Johnson stated he had no updates.  The subject of Joe Zweifel’s complaint about the street condition at 305 W. Third Street.  Apparently there seems to be no long term fix such as complete street rebuild in the vocabulary of the Mayor just periodic asphalt treatments.  Other suggestions by members of the city council was curb and gutter re-do at home owners expense which council members seemed oblivious to the cause-effect of the weighted robotic garbage truck which seems to pull the street material away from the curb and gutter.

At which point Executive session was called for contract discussion.  Alcester City Councilman David Larsen made the motion to go into executive session with a second coming from Alcester City Councilwoman Darla Reppe, discussion was to contract concerning the street.  Executive session commenced at 6:55 p.m. and was called back into open session at 7:10 p.m.  It was at this point there was not going to be any chip seal put down this year.  Apparently vacating the vote taken at Agenda Item #7 in the April 2, 2018, awarding  the seal coat bid to Road Guys at $1.75 per square yard of CRS-2P based upon 20K Square yard purchase and to be put in place between June 1, 2018 and September 1, 2018.  No chip seal…so where is the money, was there a cancellation fee and who defaulted?  So are we going to have twice the coverage in 2019?

Agenda Item 9 – Wastewater/Water  Dale was not available so Lonnie Johnson gave a summary.  So what is going on the Water tower cleaning, painting and where is the light, huh Mayor, Finance Officer Pat?

Agenda Item 10 – Police Department  Police Chief Christie gave updates which included police calls were up and 40% of those calls involved drugs.  The new radios were up and running thanks to the grant that purchased them.

The question of On Call Pay was raised (01:03:25).  This discussion was done in open session, evidently arising out of executive session discussions covering several months of dithering about with apparently a decision to move forward with an Overtime rate inclusion in the 2019 budget  and carrying a retro-active decision implementation.  According to the discussion among the four Alcester City Councilpersons, Mayor Glas and Finance Officer Jurrens the ON CALL decision was not shared with Alcester Police Chief Christie nor apparently with the public in open meeting.

(01:09:17) I immediately spoke up and most definitely out-of-order with the question, “When was this vote taken…was it take in executive session” at which Alcester City Attorney Sam Nelson addressed Mayor Glas advising him and the council, “…you do not have to answer questions from the gallery”.  I smiled.  After a couple more minutes of discussion on writing police policy concerning On-Call, set time to allow the safety committee to meet and to set the date for a special full city council meeting Alcester City Attorney Sam asked Mayor Glas to, “…go back to the On-call…”  Upon Mayor Glas’ okie-dokie, Alcester City Attorney Sam stated that in previous closed session discussions he had briefed the council on possibilities with regard to the On-Call solution with a $2k compensation.  Imagine that!

Folks our law enforcement officers past and present operated in On-Call capacities which involved additional on duty hours after they had been on duty for a full tour.  On-Call meaning our officers were not on the clock but had to be available to respond on-call for another eight to ten hours.  They could not leave the city, they could not have an after duty beer, they could not take their spouses to a movie and dinner and they were NOT paid for this additional time nor were they given comp time in any form.  In addition police officers, paid fire men and women are exempted from Overtime pay.  Folks how many of you would be willing to work under conditions like this?   

Mr. Nelson they did not have to answer me then, if the Alcester City Council is voting in executive session they most assuredly have to answer to me and my fellow taxpayers NOW!

Agenda Item #11 – Updates  Alcester City Councilman Dave Larsen gave updates on the golf course.

Agenda Item #17 – Moved Executive Session regarding pending litigation.  Alcester City Councilwoman Darla Reppe moved to go into Executive session, Second came from Alcester City Councilman Dan Haeder and with no further discussion the four voted to close the session at 7:42 p.m. and opened the session at 8:00 p.m.  No action taken in open session.  Included in the closed session were Alcester Finance Officer Pat Jurrens and Alcester Finance Office employee Wanda Halvorson.

Agenda Item #12 – Finance Office 

Warrants were approved.

Issue of American Legion Auxiliary request for storage was not acted upon until the Auxiliary provides specifications of what they need.

SRTS issue.  A meeting will be set up for all parties.  Definition- All parties exception the homeowners.  An extension for final payment has been extended by 6 months with conditions concerning mitigating determination of problem.

Police Personnel Manual.  Finance Office Pat Jurrens is to have the draft copy of the police manual to Alcester City Attorney Sam Nelson but according to Finance Officer Jurrens it is “a work in progress”.

Special Projects – Response letter to Office of Hearing Examiners/Vickie Larsen – 8 hours* and Tree Trimming Database/Letters- 134 letters- 12 hours.

Agenda Item 13 – Fair Board Update Date provisionally set for 2019 August 1-4

Agenda Item 15 – Alcester Community Building Update  another show-me-the-money meeting to be scheduled for public input.

Agenda Item 18 – Adjourn approx. 8:35 p.m.

*My Explanation in future ‘A Voice From the Gallery’