09/07/2021 A Voice From the Gallery

“Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching–even when doing the wrong thing is legal.”

(Aldo Leopold)

I am repeating the above quotation due to the abysmal failure of the mayor to do his job to do the right thing!  It has come to my attention that Councilman Curtis Keiser and Councilman Brian Johnson have left the council and rumor has it for much the same reasons as Chief Christie resigned. The right thing would have been to rein in finance officer Patricia Jurrens before the decimation of the police department and the Alcester city council, now it is left to the residents to solve the problem by removing her from the finance office!

I was not present at the September 7, 2021, council meeting, but I did have the meeting recorded for me.  My blog is based upon information from that recording and some judicious sleuthing.   Folks since Mayor Haeder does record the meetings, his recording of the meeting can be procured by Freedom of Information/South Dakota Sunshine Laws.

Mayor  Haeder called the September 7, 2021, city council meeting to order at 6:04 p.m. with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Council members present were Councilman David Larsen, Councilman Curtis Keiser, Councilwoman Cyndi Peeples, Councilwoman Darla Reppe and City Attorney Sam Nelson.   Absent were Councilman Brian Johnson and Councilwoman Linda Talbott (01:35.37)

Agenda Item #3 – Mayor Haeder called for Agenda Approval which passed unanimously.

Agenda Item #4 – Mayor Haeder called for approval of the minutes from the August 2nd and August 16th city council meetings.  The council unanimously approved those minutes without changes to what who-ever writes them recorded.

Agenda Item #5 – Mayor Haeder called for the approval of the Watershed/Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvement 2022 – Dale Pearson.  Mr. Pearson reported on the rusting pipes issue at the small shack across the street from our Water Tower which houses the valve joining from the feed pipe from the South Lincoln Water Port located just off  what used to be the Alcester Meats facility to our Water Tower.  The pipe is underground and needs to be lifted to be repaired.  Ideally a larger shed would make repair and future operation easier but Mr. Pearson indicated he felt he could make it work if he had to.  Mr. Pearson did suggest perhaps the City could work with South Lincoln by combining their water port directly to our  water main.  Drawback to that plan is South Lincoln has implemented a Flow Restriction Safeguard and their connection is just off the former  meat pack facility.  Realistic estimated costs to repair pipe/valve connection is $60,000. Mr. Pearson also remarked on the need for a larger control valve in case of emergency.  Given this cost, Alcester has an obligation to its citizens to meter all uses of water ( billed or not billed ) within the city limits. 

          This means the metering and monitoring usage by ALL entities from the pool to the firehouse so the city has a real-time usage of water.  Not necessarily to bill at this time but to have a true concept of usage should we ever have to dial back our water usage.

          Folks we cannot afford to put off the water feed repair.  We cannot afford the loss of any water due to a fore-seeable catastrophe.  No action taken.

Agenda Item #6 – Public Input  Mayor Haeder announced there was about two (2) minutes until the scheduled Public hearing of the Alcester Planning and Zoning Board but he did ask if anyone had any Input.   Aaron Larsen (09:58.20) brought up a problem with the administration of the Facebook pages of the city golf course and the utter lack of over sight.  Mr. Larsen stated he had recently moved back into town and was looking for the fees for the local golf course.  He stated he had talked to golf course personnel asking why the fees and golf course information was not published on Facebook.  He was given the answer that no one had the password to effect a change in information.  Folks I have to ask why wasn’t a copy of the golf course password kept in the golf course file in the city offices?  There was a brief discussion about the Facebook page and announcements.  However, at this point the Public Hearing had to take precedence due to the agenda scheduled time of 6:15 p.m.

Agenda Item #7  Public Hearing – Zoning Medical Cannabis

Agenda Item #7 (a) – (0:15:02.17)Motion to convene jointly as Planning Commission and City Council.  Now folks it needs to be explained about the Planning and Zoning entity and the city council.  I used the word entity because in 7 (a) and 7 (b) the group is named Planning Commission but in 7(e) the group is referred to as the Planning and Zoning Board then it flips back in 7(j) to Planning Commission.  So which is it, Planning Commission or Planning and Zoning Board.  If the Mayor and Finance Officer cannot tell the difference how the devil is the city council members much less the general public supposed to keep up with the musical chair name changing.

7(b) Motion for the Planning & Zoning Board to recommend 2021-17 Ordinance with a second received but no vote taken.  Board members question why no vote. Mayor Ya Mucked Up Buttercup!  Why the devil did you turn and ask the Bookkeeper about the NO vote when ya got City Attorney Sam sitting at yer right hand? (0:17:55.60) Mayor Haeder opens the Planning & Zoning Board meeting to Public Input. (0:18:13.40)  During the public input of the Planning & Zoning Board Mayor Haeder campaigns on approval of proposed Ordinance 2021-17. (0:20:05.97)  Dale Pearson asked a question with regard if the city does not approve the Ordinance 2021-17 what consequence for the city.  Simply put, the State will issue its mandates for the city after which the only changes the city can make to the State mandate is to be more restrictive and cannot relax the mandates issued by the State.  With no further public input for the Planning &Zoning Board, Mayor Haeder moved to further Planning & Zoning Board to discussion just among the board members (0:25:46.57)  At (0:26:50.77)  Mayor Haeder called for a roll call vote.  Councilwoman Talbott was not attending via telephone at this point.  So after the $2232.00+/- Covid money spend on the IPads, why were they in operation for this meeting?  At (0:27:20.23)  Mayor Haeder calls as the Dept. of Redundancy the City Council must now vote.  At (0:27:35.70) Councilwoman Cyndi Peeples makes the motion for the City to approve Ordinance 2021-17 Zoning Provisions.  At (0:28:44.33) Mayor Haeder calls for a roll call vote from the City Council.  Vote unanimous for approval for first reading.  At (0:38:08.60) Mayor Haeder calls for motion on Ordinance 2021-16 Licensing of Medical Cannabis Sales. (0:39:16.80) Mayor calls for roll call vote to approve .  At (0:39:36.27)September 20, 2021, is set for second reading.  At (0:39:54.70)      Mayor Haeder calls for a motion to adjourn the Planning & Zoning Board.  Board is adjourned and the Alcester City Council returns to its regular agenda schedule. 

Agenda Item #6   Public Input (continued (0:40:56.17) )  At (0:43:51.37)  Aaron Larsen continued with his discussion of the Alcester Golf Course/Alcester Golf Club Facebook presence.  Folks here are examples out there I have found  (1) Facebook.com/Alcester- Golf- Course- 291512377591356 , page created April 13, 2012  (2) Facebook.com/Alcester.golfcourse1, created February 1, 2017  (3)  Facebook.com/pages/Alcester-Golf-Club/794477947364425, created December 21/2015   (4) Facebook.com/alcestergolf, created February 19, 2014  with photos of Alcester, UK  Folks evidently no one has a password to any of these?  Now FO Pat wants to drop this sack of flaming Halloween manure (0:42:07.83) on Mr.  Huber’s door step but as you can see the many of the creation dates are long after Mr. Huber’s departure from Alcester City employ.

Agenda Item #8  Legal Updates – Sam Nelson Alcester City Attorney.

(a)  (0:44:47.47)  307 Iowa Street -Nuisance  Once again this is a feature legal issue for the city of Alcester.  Now folks, I believe this issue has been going on for at least one year if not two.  I will look that up.  First let’s deal with the attorney fee per hour on this nuisance.  Back in around 2018 there was a great deal of whizzing and moaning about his legal fees (around $110.00 per hour) from council member, mayor and finance officer.  They took every opportunity to critique our city attorney who was giving the city a discount in his fees because he was a resident and a business owner.  Finance Officer Jurrens publicly badgered, publicly criticized him in meetings, the council would require his presence for an hour worth of council meeting and then dismiss him. Finally Finance Officer Jurrens marched Mayor Glass down to the law office the morning after the city council unanimously approved his legal retainer to tell our City attorney she and the mayor did not feel he was a good fit for the city of Alcester. There was no council vote.  Mr. Haugland understandably rescinded his retainer, yet Finance Officer Jurrens continued to use his work product (without his permission) in her attempts to ‘write’ legal.  Now we have Mr. Nelson and Mr. Frieberg at fees of somewhere around $130-$150 per hour.  Mr. Nelson occupies a chair for an average of 2-3 hours per meeting rarely offering up an opinion unless the city is being sued.  Watch, listen to the video of the meeting.  Here we have Mr. Nelson dealing with this nuisance for a year or more, folks you do the math.  Now let’s deal with the Property Maintenance Code Enforcement Officer Fillingsness.  The city pays Mr. Fillingsness $25 per hour for code enforcement.  The whole purpose of Mr. Fillingsness is to be the face of code enforcement so the Finance Officer or the Mayor do not have to take the heat of throwing people out of their homes.  Now folks if you have ever wondered what Finance Officer Jurrens and Wanda Halvorson are touring the streets of Alcester, taking pictures during the work day?  Do the math first.  Ya got a Finance Officer who is making $30+ per hour, ya got her aid making around $20 per hour wandering up and down the streets of Alcester.  Ya got $50+ /hour  worth of personnel just drivin around takin pictures and writin down addresses.  How long after those afternoon drives do we all-of-a-sudden have property maintenance issues to hand over to $25 per hour Fillingsness (So when is ol’ Fillingsness in town inspecting)and then hand off to $130-$150 per hour legal team.  You do the math.  Then ask yourself, “Who is answering the phones at city hall?”  Yeah right.

          Next up under Legal is the great roll-off question (0:45:27.33) followed up by a language question on ordinance (0:48:44.63).

          Moving on to the (0:49:17.40) to the 2021-11 RV ordinance and the (0:53:53.80) 2021-15 (Attempt to revoke covenants running with the land which is not within the wheel house of the city.)  The relaxing of variances rules.  The variances rules were put into place to protect bordering land owners from encroachment and devaluation of their property by some Yahoo who wants to put a stand along barn/shed.  Part of the existing variance rule in Alcester is it must be an emergency, not just an inconvenience.  Mr. Joe Constance commented on his application for variance and that it apparently was still in limbo He was understandably upset to hear this variance change being expedited while he is still waiting and winter is coming. (1:01:54.00)  Folks listen to Finance Officer Jurren’s response, “…Here is what I will do…”  Here is what you will do Ms. Bookkeeper?  Ms. Bookkeeper it is the council that will be doing, it is their decision!  You have no authority, that lies with the city council!

          October 4, 2021, is the hearing date for the variance.

Agenda Item #9  Police Department

          Updates on the hire of a part-time police officer, hiring a full time police officer and the order for radios.  (1:19:15.67)  Mayor says to Chief Schuller, “if you have any issues, do not hesitate to contact somebody.”  Contact somebody Mayor?  In your own vernacular Mayor Haeder, that somebody is you Buttercup!”

Agenda Item #10  Office Building Door

Quote for exterior entrance door discussion.  Finance Officer Jurrens had contacted Mr. Jami Schempp representing the owner of the old school building to ask about a payment arrangement between the two entities for the $9K+ proposed cost of the door she wanted  Finance Officer Jurrens was annoyed with the answer she received and made the recommendation that (01:26:28.23) “…if they  (the Industrial Board won’t split the bill) I recommend we don’t pay rent this year…”  Bookkeeper Jurrens where do you get off making a threat like you just made?  You are NOT a city council member, you the bookkeeper!  (01:27:20.10)  Now Wanda Halvorson who is also NOT a city council member offers up her unsolicited opinion.  Gee I did not realize this agenda item offered public input!  Whew!

Agenda Item #11  Finance Office Updates

At approximately 7:40 p.m. a call was initiated to City Councilwoman Linda Talbott (01:36:34.63)

(a)  Motion for warrants. Unanimously approved.

(b) 2022 Mayor Haeder Budget was read by Bookkeeper Jurrens.  Evidently the council was not presented to the council before hand therefore they could have read the thing and asked questions.  Evidently this way Bookkeeper Jurrens can have the floor all to herself, drone on and not be bothered with any substantial questions.  Oh yeah, Bookkeeper Jurrens would like a TV for her office (01:44:57.83)  Mayor Haeder calls for a motion to approve the first reading the tardy budget (02:26:19.60)  Call for a roll call vote for first reading with the unanimous approval vote. (02:26:57.07)

(c)  2021-19 Street Maintenance Tax  (02:28:26.33)  voted unanimously.  However folks this little ol’ can be referred.  (02:29:23.20)  Mayor Haeder states every year this fee must be done.  Horse Pucky!  If the budget was properly done and properly handle this extra Tax would not have to be levied.

(d)  2021-20 Wastewater Surcharge (02:30:52.13) Yeah another fee with vague language as to purpose other than get around the deficiency in handling budget adequately.  Mayor calls for motion (02:32:41.60)  unanimous vote.  Folks this too, can be referred.

(e)  2021-21  Water Surcharge Tax/Fee  Charges for new meters and meter reading device.  (02:33:55.30)  Mayor calls for motion to approve this Tax (02:35:03.30)  Unanimous vote, again this can be referred.

Agenda Item #12 – Update of Volunteer Roster

Agenda Item #13 – Executive Session for Personnel

Statue cited was SDCL 1-25-2.1  Discussing the qualifications, competence, performance, character or fitness of any public officer or employee or prospective public officer or employee. The term, employee, does not include any independent contractor; and 1-25-2.3 Consulting with legal counsel or reviewing communications from legal counsel about proposed or pending litigation or contractual matters;

Executive session at 8:44 p.m.

Executive session ends approximately  9:42 p.m.

NO ACTION TAKEN

Agenda Item #14 – Alcester Community Center Staff

Agenda Item #15   Adjourn

Council adjourned at approximately 9:45 p.m.

I was notified by Councilman Keiser he had resigned via email and requested I remove his contact information from my blog.  Mr. Keiser had asked about the expenditure for computers and why they were not in use.  He did not receive an answer.  Mr. Keiser as a councilman was not provided with one of those computers so he could more effectively take part in city meetings when he was away from the city.  He was disappointed with an expenditure of money for I-Pads which were in effect not put into use.  I am sorry he has resigned.  The council needed a business person as a member who could advise them on the business side of a city.  Thank you for your service.

I also learned Councilman Johnson had left the council apparently much for the same reason Police Chief Christie left.  We are losing good people and that is a shame.   

Contact City Council

Mayor Dan Haeder                             605-934-2287      605-770-7929

Councilman David Larsen                  605-934-2434

Councilwoman Darla Reppe               605-934-2602

Councilwoman Linda Talbot              605-254-3074

Councilwoman Cyndi Peeples

Councilman Brian Johnson – Resigned

Councilman Curtis Keiser – Resigned 

Patricia Jurrens                                  605-934-2517