06/08/2021 A Voice From the Gallery

“When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat…”

attributed to Ronald Reagan

Mayor Haeder called the June 7, 2021, city council meeting to order at 6:00 P.M. with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Council members present were Councilman David Larsen, Councilwoman Darla Reppe, Councilwoman Linda Talbott, Councilwoman  Cyndi Peeples, Councilman Brian Johnson, Councilman Curtis Keiser and Attorney Larry Nelson standing in the stead of his son City Attorney Sam Nelson.

Agenda Item #3– Approval of the Agenda – was called, with no changes and no discussion the agenda was approved as presented.

Agenda Item #4 – Approval of the minutes for May 3, May 17, and May 24, 2021 – was called and with no changes and no discussion the minutes were approved as transcribed.  I would like to note here it is uncertain who exactly is taking the minutes.  Is it the Alcester Finance Officer (whose duty it is ), is it the finance office aide Wanda Halverson,  is it those from the city attorney or perhaps a collusion of any two or three of them? H-m-m

Agenda Item #5 – Public Input – Public input was called with three responses. 

First up was Gordon Richard responding as a citizen of Alcester and not as a reporter for the Alcester-Hudson Union newspaper. (02:29.73)  Mr. Richard commented that as a resident of three years in the city of Alcester, he was shocked to hear of Chief Jeff Christie’s departure from the Alcester City Police Department.  Mr. Richard stated he had come to know Chief Christie, to appreciate his work as Chief of Police and recognised Chief Christie’s consummate professionalism in his performance of his profession.  Mr. Richard went on to recommend and request, “is there anything the city can do to atone for the circumstances which led to Chief Christie’s decision?” (paraphrased by me)  Mr. Richard received a less than satisfactory response.

Next to comment was Theresa Deem, local businesswoman and owner of the Alcester Bar. (03:31.10)  Ms. Deem asked the council, “just what is the ‘chain-of-command’ as it relates to the city-owned building she leases and in which she houses her bar operation.  Ms. Deem asked who is on the liquor board (who ostensibly controls the building which houses the Alcester Bar)?  Ms. Deem received an answer which named the council members who sit on that board.  (08:41.23)  Planning and Zoning committee should be made up of three council members and three property owning residents rather than the city council in its entirety.  When the city councils acts as zoning commission it causes confusion for the resident tax payers.  I is redundant and not open government (in my opinion).

Last to comment was Vickie Larsen, me.  (07:51.67)  1)  I started out with my FOIA/Sunshine request #05-07-2021 second request for access to select water-bills for properties ( one of which is under the control of a Hammit Family trust) with only non-residential garages.  I asked for access to the garbage fees charged, the minimum water billing, and street maintenance fees charged and I have been ignored.

2)  I introduced Nacha rules (08:11.33) ( with regard to the proper, prompt pay of payrolls and HSA account set-ups as listed in the May 17, 2021, meeting agenda item #10 which listed HSA Bank Account a. Motion to set up HSA Bank Account, Premier Bank, Dan Haeder, David Larsen, Patricia Jurrens and Wanda Halverson as Signers.(12:36.77) Regarding signers on any account, finance office aid Halverson should not be included on the signatory listed as she is not the mayor, she is not the president of the council and she is not the head of a financing department.  In emergency situations if the mayor is not available the city still has a back up for the dual signage required for official documents.  In addition the part-time aid position was put into place to help Finance Officer Mike Kezar during his time of medical recovery process.  Until that time Finance Officer Kezar was well able to fulfill the duties of the Finance Office on his own with occasional advice from the city attorney, other finance officers and the South Dakota Municipal League.

3)  I distributed handouts to the six council members. (09:03.40)  Contained within those handouts was a document * (nacha.org/content/payments-myth-busting) regarding payroll payments,:” ‘direct deposit payroll will be available in employee accounts by 9a.m. Friday to withdraw or make payments’ and if made Friday morning, ‘the funds will be available to the employee by 5p.m.using the ACH Networks Same Day ACH capability.'” *Another document contained within my handouts to the council was an email exchange between myself and Shaun Van Oort of AB Business Solutions. (vendor from which the city purchased the eight (8) tablets)  An allegation made by Finance Officer Pat Jurrens that I had posed as an employee of the Alcester Finance Office. The date on that email exchange was September 21, 2020, at which time I was a seated city councilwoman.  I was unable to give lie to Jurrens accusation made to the council because I was handed the document generated over two days time (as claimed by Kay) by Councilwoman Kay and was allowed only five (5) minutes to look at the document with no real expectation to read, respond or ability to offer up evidence to support my denial.  In the courts of our land, the accused is given time to offer up evidence and make defense argument. The charge must tell the time, date and place that the criminal act allegedly took place, the alleged involvement of the accused, and the details of the crime itself.  After being notified, the defendant has a certain period of time to file an answer admitting or denying the allegations made in the complaint. This statement by the defendant usually explains why the plaintiff should not prevail. It may also offer additional facts, or plead an excuse.  When I raised those questions, I was told I did not have the right.  *Finally a copy of the May 24, 2021, minutes which described the circus type juggling of proper procedure involving the 2021-09 Ordinance Temporary Ordinance. In addition (08:41.23)  Planning and Zoning committee should be made up of three council members and three property owning residents rather than the city council in its entirety.  When the city councils acts as zoning commission it causes confusion for the resident tax payers.  It is redundant and not open government (in my opinion).

(09:50.40)  I spoke to the Water Tower which ran out of water.  An alarm had been in place which would send a signal to South Lincoln Rural Water letting them know the level in our water tower was low. at that point they would contact the city so they could stop a water tower failure. Perhaps that should be checked on, maybe the alarm system should be repaired or replaced.

(10:27.20)  I spoke to the donation plea I had received by mail on city letterhead asking for my financial help ’cause there was still $150,000 matching funds waiting for our donation and to be debt free.  Folks check out agenda item #7 Community Center bond.  Doesn’t look to be debt free to me.  In addition, the operational debts incurred by the community center will fall on the good-will, faith and taxes of the citizens of Alcester and those who shop here. 

(11:11.13)  I spoke to the meeting that mayor Haeder and Councilman Curtis Keiser (I believe) had with the Union County Commissioners on June 1, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. in which mayor Haeder attempted to get county law enforcement coverage for Alcester due to the Police Chief leaving as a result of the city attempt to ‘screw the police department’ and mayoral request fell flat.  I told the council of previous attempt to dump the Alcester police department in favor of county sheriff department coverage.  I also told the council to be sure and check with residents of Hudson on how well that has worked for them.  County seat cities do well with County Sheriff coverage but outlying cities don’t.

Agenda Item #6 – Ordinance 2021-09 Mary Jane Ordinance.  Council still messing around with a temporary ordinance.  Finally the council after an amendment to correct Finance Office error in Section 1, line 4 to the correct number of SDCL 34-20G-72 decided to sit on their hands until the state decides what it is going to do.

Agenda Item #7 – Community Center Bond- AMKO Mark DeRaney spoke to the amount of money the city was looking at to pay out for city stated maximum debt on the community building.  Mr. DeRaney stated (26:02.93) “I got a call last week from Pat saying, ‘We need some money to finish up for the community center'”.  Finance Officer Jurrens seems to be using a bait and switch scam where she trims off certain costs of the community building project so it looks more attractive to the taxpayers to get the program passed, only to add those costs-plus-some under the guise of ordinances, fees, bonds and etc. to cover the funds she trimmed. 

(32:07.87)  Councilman Curtis Keiser asks Mr. DeRaney for a definition and clarification of Revenue Bond.  (37:00.47)  Councilman Curtis Keiser asks about the additional amount of $150K.  Now folks there was the land purchase which I do believe was $220K, so is that included in what is now listed at $575K including Underwriters 12% discount, costs of issuance, deposit to Debt Service Reserve Fund (DSRF), deposit to Project Construction Fund and with a Rounding Amount. Handout below for those of you who like to run the numbers?

(see insert )

Agenda Item #8 – Legal Updates – Attorney Larry Nelson

Mr. Nelson addresses the Banner Engineering agreement Updates and changes.

Agenda Item #9 – Police Department –  mayor announced the appointment of interim police chief, Austin Schuller.  Mayor Haeder stated the necessity of this move as the requirement of  SD DCI (South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation) to have contact with the Chief of Police, we no longer have a police chief so it was necessary to make an emergency appointment of a police chief and certain predilections of the finance officer to overstep her authority may make it necessary for the DCI to investigate, again. Folks this was the entity which investigated the election violations of Finance Officer Jurrens and which found evidence of credible election violation on the part of the Finance Officer.  Please note mayor Haeder’s comment which relates to how valuable our police chief is and how important making amends to our Chief of Police Jeff Christie for a fellow employee’s retaliatory actions. (46:22.97)  Mayor I can certainly see why you should be ashamed to look Chief Jeff in the eye, when you refused to rein in Finance Office Jurrens and back Chief Christie from the scurrilous excoriations of the all-protected FOPat.  I heard of a previous councilmember comment made we cannot afford to fire/lose the finance officer. As well as another a councilmember comment, “screw the police department”.  WOW  Evidently Mayor Haeder is willing to lose our Police Chief and endanger community safety all in the name of protect the FO.  Screw the police department and we are all screwed.  “We cannot replace our finance officer, SURE we can.  We hire a temporary accountant and we advertise for a new finance officer.  I feel certain there are many young accountants willing to work and do the job of city finance office for us.

Agenda Item #10 – Department Head Updates

Agenda Item #11– Purple Heart Trail proposition

Agenda Item #12 – Back Bar Door Replacement – While the Deem’s bar operation should be safe and secure, the $4555.00 price tag seemed high.  I must admit there was no supportive documentation on the requirements of what appears to be one pricy door presented for public consumption.  Now Folks you need to realize it is the city’s expense. not the Deem’s to replace the door of a city owned building.  The city insurance should pay for the costs of door replacement. 

Agenda Item #13 – July 5, 2021, Council first July meeting date moved back to July 12, 2021.  Two council members have stated they will be absent for either of those  meetings dates.  Councilwoman Peeples and Councilwoman Talbott.

Agenda Item #14 – Finance Office Updates – (01:09:33.90) 

SO WAS CHIEF CHRISTIE PAID ALL MONEYS TO WHICH HE WAS LAWFULLY ENTITLED????? 

Somehow I have my doubts knowing the vindictiveness of FOPat.

Agenda Item #15 – Alcester Community Center – meeting on Tuesday.

Agenda Item #16  – Fair Update – Bull Riding

Agenda Item #17 – Executive Session 1.25-2.3 Legal counsel on LITIGATION/LAWSUIT REVIEW.  Entered into closed session at 8:07 p.m. and back into session at 8:15 p.m.

Agenda Item #18 – Adjourn  Council adjourned at 8:16 p.m.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

It was announced during the council meeting the street chip-seal coating was completed Monday, June 7, 2021.  Interesting ’cause it appears Beck Drive and Dakota Street in front of the city offices was chip-sealed, however Union street between Third Street and Second Street is untouched.  This street seems to have been orphaned out of the city street family tree.  Folks residents on the block were left to dig their vehicles out of the muddy mess ignored by the city.  This ‘street’ does not even have enough small to medium pebbles to be called a gravel road, yet the residents are still required to pay the $ per foot street maintenance fee?  Folks go for a ride, see for yourselves the state of that street.

However it seems after months of me mentioning the failure to build a retaining wall on the variance awarded to Sunnyside Storage, it does appear to be in the process of construction.

Oh and one other thing, this has to do with Tiny homes and what can happen with Patti-zoning and Buy-me-a-variance running amok.  The city of Alcester has in the past entertained allowing Tiny homes in Alcester.  Yeah Folks, it might be worth a look-see…There is a tiny home North of Hwy 46 on the east edge of Beresford.  First came the tiny home, then came the tiny-garage and now I noticed another tiny-type storage shed on what appears to be the same parcel of ground.  

In theory it is the same as combining lots along Beck Drive and selling them off for $15K.  Last I knew, the HRC was going to have to sell each lot for $25K just to make the balloon payment and now it appears there is a fire-sale on those properties.

Contact City Council

Mayor Dan Haeder                   605-934-2287

Councilman David Larsen        605-934-2434

Councilwoman Darla Reppe    605-934-2602

Councilwoman Linda Talbot    605-934-1849

Councilwoman Cyndi Peeples

Councilman Brian Johnson

Councilman Curtis Keiser