12/03/2018 A Voice From the Gallery

“Fear not those who argue, but those who dodge.”

credited to Marie von Ebner Eschenbach

*To my followers, I sincerely apologise for the delay in posting this.  Video tech problems, I am going ahead with the article part and will load the video as soon as possible.

Mayor Tom Glas called the December 3, 2018, regular meeting of the Alcester City Council meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. with the following council members present; Councilman David Larsen, Councilman Dan Haeder, Councilwoman Darla Reppe, Councilwoman Linda Talbott, Councilman Lance Johnson and Councilwoman Melissa Kay.

video to be added

Skipping past the housekeeping agenda line items and with No Public Input offered up for discussion, the council went onto Agenda line item #6 Water, Wastewater Updates.  Superintendent Dale Pearson was not present, however Finance Officer Pat Jurrens opened a discussion concerning fees and procedures on ‘habitual’ late pays.  Current practice is to issue the water bill with a due date, send out a reminder, hand deliver a door hangar reminder when past the due date and if water bill is still unpaid water service is shut off with delinquent fees attached to the last two steps of the procedure.  The argument was made to shorten the procedure by eliminating the first reminder, increase the fine to “make them pay” and shut off the water (00:00:00).  Folks if ya’ll shut the water off, the house has just become uninhabitable.  In some states once the water has been shut off, homeowners are forced out of their home within a 24-48 hour time frame because the house is deemed uninhabitable!  Instead of punitive eviction, how about offering a discount if the water bill is paid three months in advance?  No judgments on lifestyle or ability to budget.  I find it difficult to defend a city council who shamelessly voice judgment on resident’s ability or lack thereof to budget money when Mayor Glas’ agenda line item #11 Finance Office subsection (c) Supplemental Appropriation Ordinance is needed to balance the council’s city budget shortage by skimming some $26,000.00 from city enterprise funds of water, solid waste and sewer and second penny sales tax! (00:00:00)

Agenda line item #7 – street updates.  Under street subsection (c) sign agreement which came in last week, surprise to Lonnie!  Alcester was invited some time ago to participate in city sign updates around 2012, 2013 I believe.  At that time the council determined the signs were too expensive, the existing signs were still serviceable so they declined the offer.  Now they have changed their minds and want to participate under the Hutchinson County agreement  PH 8034(31) PCN 04K9.  Go Figure!

I am going to inject another project here, the SRTS project which the city of Alcester participated and of which there was an over-run of $20,000.00 which appears to be the result of engineering error and which our city council apparently agreed to pay the excess $20K apparently without a second squawk.  The city didn’t engineer the plan, the city did not have the expertise to judge the engineering, and the construction company who won the bid appear to have faithfully followed the engineering prints.  So WHO should be holding the debit bag?  Well let’s see the engineer laid out the plan after presumably walking the site and the state DOT engineers approved the plan, SO who should pay for the change orders?  NOT the city they trusted the engineer to know what he was doing!  Not the construction crew, they merely followed the plan presented to them.  SO the city should bill the engineer or the state who had over-sight of that engineering to re-coup our $20K!

Agenda line item #8 Police Department–  Police Chief Jeff Christie gave the monthly police department stats update.  We have a Meth problem which requires more monitoring, more time spent policing and writing post arrest reports.

A-n-d we have the great Cat Tsunami.  All those years of taking Fluffy and her kits to the country has come home to roost.  Yes, I know cats do not roost!  In the words of T.S. Eliot and taken from “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, ‘…they (cats) sit beside the hearth or in the sun or on my hat:  They sit and sit and sit—and that what makes those Gumbie Cats!…'”  Now the council wants to register and license ($10) our kitties, enter into the great Cat Population Management Plan with the Humane Society and get rid of those pesky pussy cats.  The only humane way to deal with feral cats is the three C plan; catch, clip and cut loose.  Catch the feral cat, neuter/sterilize the cat and return the cat to the wild.  Mayor Glas opted to trap the cats, house the cats until we have enough to have our police officers transport the cats to Sioux Falls Humane Society.  Folks, we have a growing Meth presence in our community to keep our officers busy and all Mayor Glas could come up with is to send our officers on the great Pussy Cat Run to Sioux Falls!  Marvelous!  Oh Mayor Glas volunteered Councilman David Larsen to take over the Pussy Cat Run but Mayor Glas failed to provide compensation for time and gas money to transport those delinquent kitties.

Skipping to Agenda line item #11 (b)  Ordinance change to take power away from all future Alcester mayors and protect Finance Officer Pat’s job.   According to Alcester City Attorney Sam Nelson’s public admission in the December 3,2018, council meeting, he sent a ‘confidential memo’ regarding the removal of the position of finance officer from the list of appointees.  In past years, appointees were re-appointed annually or upon the election of a new mayor who gave the appointees a thumbs up or a thumbs down.  Today I e-mailed Alcester Attorney Sam Nelson asking, “who authorized or requested the opinion contained within the confidential memo?”  Alcester Attorney Nelson declined by reply e-mail to divulge that information.  I would argue that Mr. Nelson contracts (charges a fee and paid with public moneys) with the city of Alcester for legal opinions.  It appears Alcester City Attorney Nelson’s opinion involved no contracts, no litigation and no specific employee issue, just generic job titles and definition.  So why should any opinion proffered by Alcester Attorney Sam Nelson paid for with public moneys be cloaked in confidentiality?  Does Finance Officer have the authority to ask for a legal opinion without the express okie dokie of a majority of the city council?

On to Agenda Item 11 (d), the purchase of four new computers for the finance office and the police department with payments to be spread between 2018 and 2019.  Oh and lest we forget to add the proposed purchase of some wippy-dippy desk top risers.  Got to wonder, did the Yoga ball chairs go flat or did the finance office decide not to ‘sit healthy’ but to stand so they can do a little dance, take a little chance and git down tonight or is it so they can dance to that fonky music?  So did the city finance officer get a former employee discount from the vendor?  Oh yes, Councilwoman Melissa Kay asked again about the Alcester City Website.  Answer from Finance Officer Jurrens, “…well we’re really busy, maybe in a couple of months…” (00:00:00)  Really!

Agenda Item 11 (f), set a December special meeting date for second reading purposes.  Meeting was set for December 10, 2018, at 6:00 p.m.

Agenda Item 11 (e) Resolution of Fees Finance Office Pat Jurrens  talked of adding a finance office labor fee.  $40/hour for any FOIA servicing over one hour.  Gee I wonder why that is?  Could it be the FOIA violation complaint lodged with the South Dakota Office of Hearing Examiners?  (00:00:00)

Agenda Item 13 (a) HRC appointment,  Finance Officer Pat recommended a female candidate to get the female prospective for the HRC (00:00:00)

Agenda Item 14– Community Building update.  Suggestion for a fund raiser—buy a brick.  Really?  Way back in the day, $100 donations were accepted to fund construction of the Auditorium.  $100 donors were recognized with brass name plates placed on a commemorative plaque.  It hung in the atrium of the Auditorium, well it used to until FO Pat relegated it to storage somewhere deep in the bowels of the Auditorium.

Motion to adjourn was called, voted and the December 3, 2018, regular council meeting was adjourned at 8:20 p.m.