12/07/2020 A Voice From the Gallery

The December 7, 2020,  Alcester City Council meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m. by Mayor Haeder with Councilman David Larsen, Councilman Marcus Ireland, and Councilwoman Linda Talbott in person, Councilwoman Melissa Kay (et al.) via telephone (no reason given why Councilwoman could not attend in person) and City Attorney Sam Nelson, absent Councilwoman Darla Reppe.  Questionable quorum.

The Pledge of Allegiance was recited after which the mayor called for agenda approval.  Councilman Larsen moved with Councilwoman Kay telephonically seconding the motion to approve the agenda as written (0:02:38.7), discussion by Councilman Marcus regarding Executive Session to discuss an employee and, “will the Executive Session cover that?” (0:02:56.00) Mayor Haeder answer,  “U-h-m, y-e-e-s” (0:03:14:33)  For those of you interested in statement analysis, take special note of the U-h-m and the marked hesitation in Mayor Haeder’s answer.  Agenda was unanimously approved by 3 in person ayes and 1 telephonic aye.

Approval of the minutes of the November 2nd and November 16th council meetings as reported by the Finance Office. Unanimously approved without discussion.

Agenda Item #5 – Public Input – I responded with regard to the vote to place, at the taxpayer’s cost signs of slow children. 

Since there was still time before the 6:15 p.m. P&Z Commission meeting (the Alcester city council is also the Planning and Zoning Committee) and before the schedule Audit Review Presentation by Dwight Berglin the group moved down the agenda to Agenda Item #8 – Street Updates – signs have been put into place.  A request from the Street Department since the utility truck has been repaired ($1K cost) to a drive-able condition, the apportioned money ($15K) set aside in the budget for purchase of another truck be applied to the purchase of a crew cab truck capable of pulling a trailer.  So instead applying that money to actual street repair or rebuild, Mayor Haeder asks, “When does Lonnie want an answer?”  TBD?

6:16 p.m. has arrived with Agenda Item #6 – Planning & Zoning Committee meeting.  Now folks proper procedure for the city council/planning and zoning committee to go back and forth is to have the mayor announce the Planning & Zoning Committee is now in session at 6:15 p.m. so that all parties attending KNOW it is the Planning & Zoning Committee and not the Alcester City Council .  Patrick Andrews from SECOG (South Eastern Council of Governments was present to explain procedures and document for the change in zoning issues relating to the old school property. 

          So folks the city council acting as the Planning & Zoning Committee will absorb the information of zoning, rezoning, public input, and etc. of the old school property and make the decision to recommend the rezoning to itself as the Alcester City Council give the okie-dorkie to enact Ordinance 2020-18 which allows the zoning nomenclature Planned Development District replace the former classification as Residential District and to amend the Official Zoning Map of the City of Alcester.  The Alcester Planning & Zoning Committee moves to recommend the nomenclature and map changes to the Alcester City Council and with a unanimous yes vote and no discussion the Alcester Planning &Zoning Committee recommends the zoning change.

          Now it is here where the Alcester Planning & Zoning Committee should adjourn, state the time of adjournment for the P&Z Committee and re-open as the Alcester City Council so everyone present KNOWS it is now the Alcester City Council up-at-bat.  Nope that boat left the pier, Mayor Haeder and City Attorney Sam missed the boat and were left standing on the pier along with most of the gallery. (0:21:50:47)

Agenda Item #7 – 2019 Audit Report – Presented by Dwight Berglin via telephone.  It is difficult to hear because of the telephonic audio level.  The gist of the report seemed to be violations on the city and finance office parts.  Internal controls still are absent, there was at one point a negative balance arising out of not spending within the budget.  Mr. Berglin made reference to a 2012 case in Dickson, Illinois where Finance Officer Rita Crundwell stole $30M dollars of city moneys over a 6 year period.  Mr. Berglin’s concerns involved lack of clarification of duties, lack of routine internal audits, negative balances, bank record reconciliation, over-spending the second penny sales tax moneys (the 2nd penny sales tax was originally limited to a specific type of purchases ie. capital assets such as property, plant and equipment)   Councilwoman Melissa Kay moved to approve the audit, with the second coming from Councilman David Larsen, unanimous approval with no discussion.

Agenda Item #9 – Wastewater- Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens gave the report noting one grant application was denied, toxicology on our water was clean and the situation with pumps is indeterminate.

Agenda Item #10 – Police Department – Alcester Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens reported in the stead of Chief Christie who was absent.  Most of the subject matter was equipment and the availability of CARES money to help with the expense.

Agenda Item #11– Pleasant Hill Cemetery/Landfill report- Parker Dooley not present so once again Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens made the report.

Agenda Item #12 – Golf Course/Library – Councilman David Larsen gave a report on the Golf Course and the Library.  The gist of the Library portion report was related to the employment of a new librarian.  Not so much as the hiring but of the benefits to a part-time employee as it relates to South Dakota Retirement program.  I want to be very clear the candidate and subsequent new hire for librarian has involvement in the discussion only by being the subject.

          “If you are a permanent, full-time employee of an SDRS participating employer, you are required to participate and make contributions to the South Dakota Retirement System. Permanent, full-time employees are those working at least 20 hours per week and six months per year.” South Dakota Retirement Law, Chapter 3-12C. The Alcester City Council appears to be manipulating benefits and the twenty (20) hour per week issue.  (1:10:52.00) start of the discussion and fudge-factor.  Listen to the exchange as our city council talks around the rules.  (1:12:38.90) Councilwoman Melissa Kay asks, “do we want to designate 20 hours…so she can take…”  Mayor Haeder says, “…Can we get away with…”(1:13:47.20) 

Agenda Item #15 – Rezoning Public Hearing – 7:16 p.m. This is where the Alcester City Council hears from public on the rezoning proposal and votes upon Ordinance 2020-18.  Mayor fails to call for public input, Councilwoman Melissa Kay asks if there is anyone with public comment on the rezoning Ordinance.  No public input.  Council moves onto motions for approve of this Ordinance.  Ordinance is approved.

Agenda Item #13 – Credit Card charge limits – Council to authorize $1000.00 limits for Finance Officer Jurrens, Police Chief, Water Dept. Head and Street Dept. Head with $500.00 limits for Ass’t Finance Officer, Police Officer and Librarian.  Approved unanimously and without discussion.

Agenda Item #14 – Legal Updates – Punitive and Adverse Action going forward on the 204 Ofstad Property and the 307 Iowa Property.  No need for Executive Session.

Agenda Item #16 – Supplemental Appropriations Ordinance  Motions to approve year end fund transfers, what I call robbing Peter to pay Paul.  Approved unanimously.

Agenda Item #17 – Garbage License – Only one bidder, Loren Fischer contract for 2021 through 2023, and again unanimous vote.  The question was raised, “is the garbage can rental included in the cost?”  FO Pat says, “I don’t know”  Why not you were responsible for setting out the terms and conditions of the garbage bid?”  So FO Pat picked up her phone and did the digits. As we all sat waiting patiently for the meeting to continue FO Pat place a call to Loren Fischer, One ringy-dingy, two ringy dingy (1:44:47.03).  FO Pat announces she will try to message Loren Fischer, and once again a delay in the meeting.  Eventually Mr. Fischer texts back that no the garbage cans are not included.

Now folks there is a lot of to-ing and fro-ing here between Agenda Item #17 and Agenda Item #18.  The captions in the video will help to put time frames on the to-ing and fro-ing.

Agenda Item #18 – Finance Officer Report – Spot check accounts, Updates, Resolution for proposed fees for 2021, CARES related spending, City WEBSITE is still not up-something about hosting and domain name.  These should not create any significant delay, so why?

          Approval of warrants- Since Councilwoman Reppe was absent, and Councilwoman Kay was not present their share of warrant inspection and approval did not happen.  So the task fell to those who were present.  As the three council members present struggled to catch up so they approve the warrants, the meeting was delayed.  H-m-m where have I heard, “delay of council meeting”  Oh yeah something from Council woman Kay.  One has to wonder, just how carefully those sums were added up and confirmed under the gun of time frame.  H-m-m!

          Finally the call for approve of current warrants, Councilwoman Melissa Kay abstained on the vote because she was not present and had not seen the warrants.  So we are left with a non-quorum of three to vote.  Ah I see a problem here, but when Councilman David Larsen asked Alcester City Attorney Sam Nelson if we could get into trouble with the “vote” (1:58:07.73), Mr. Nelson’s response was, ” …probably not…”(1:58:11.13) So Mr. Legal Guy, does the city get a major fee discount on the Probably not Opinion as opposed to those yes or no opinions?

          Going on to the next vote on warrants.  This is the vote for year-end warrants and the question is posed by Mayor Haeder to Councilwoman Melissa Kay (you know the one who abstained ’cause she had not seen the warrants for the present meeting?) will she be able to vote on the warrants only the mayor will see and sign? (1:59:02.90) and NOW you answer yes.  What changed?  Can you see and confirm future warrants?  So now we have three in person votes of aye and one of site vote of aye.  Amazing!

Agenda Item #19 – Executive Session- for personnel  remember (0:03:14:33) the response?  Yeah folks I do not buy into the premise that a city employee was to be discussed.  The Executive Session at 7:58 p.m. and I exited out into the hallway.  As I stood waiting in the silence of the hallway while bookkeeper Patricia Jurrens remained in the room allegedly discussing an employee with which Mayor Haeder allegedly had spoken.  I noted the city camera was still standing in the room un-shuttered, I noted several city councilmember phones and at least one to two laptop computers still sitting in the room.  In addition there is NO proof that Councilwoman Melissa Kay is alone during this executive session and any of her electronic devices are shuttered. 

          As I waited I noted bookkeeper Jurrens who had been unmasked for the entirety of the meeting, violated social distancing as she went to her desk to retrieve documents, to seat herself at the council table and to stand over the top of City Attorney Nelson and Mayor Haeder in front of the phone with which the council was communicating with Councilwoman Kay. 

          At 8:37 p.m. the council was declared out of Executive session.  I moved back to my seat in the council room.  As I moved toward my seat, a discussion of COVID Guidelines was being discussed.  Folks COVID Guidelines was not on the agenda and when I asked if the conversation was a continuation of the Executive session I was told NO, this was not related. I responded since this was not properly on the agenda they could not be discussing this.  Their response?  Councilwoman Linda Talbott said we are just discussing not voting with other council members chiming in the same mantra.  (2:07:47.03)  What happened to proper rules?  You are wrong, if it is not on the approved agenda, Ya’ll cannot talk about it.  Certainly not for some ten minutes or so.

          At 8:47 p.m. a call for adjournment and approved by vote.

Contact City Council

Mayor Dan Haeder                   605-934-2287

Councilman David Larsen        605-934-2434

Councilwoman Melissa Kay     712-557-0689

Councilwoman Darla Reppe    605-934-2602

Councilwoman Linda Talbot    605-934-1849

11/16/2020 A Voice From the Gallery

The meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m. by Mayor Dan Haeder with Councilman David Larsen, Councilman Marcus Ireland, Councilwoman Darla Reppe, Councilwoman Linda Talbott and Alcester City Attorney Sam Nelson present.  At-home-tele-conferencing the meeting was Councilwoman Melissa Kay.

The Pledge of Allegiance was recited and approval of the agenda was called.

Approval for the minutes of the now infamous meeting of October 7, 2020, was called with correction and approved with yet another version-in-error of what went down.

As you read through this specious concoction of fact, falsehood, quasi-legal opinion by a Bambee barrister with ambulance tailgating tendencies and whose only licensure at South Dakota Bar is her driver’s license indicating she is over 18, can drink but should not drive.  At no time was any evidence of wrong doing presented other than Councilwoman Vickie Larsen had an opinion, voiced it, voted on the prudent side for the people of Alcester and Councilwoman Vickie Larsen is not an ovis aries following FO Peep nor the rest of the ‘council gang’!  I know comes as a shock to the council, but ya’ll do not HAVE to vote unanimously.  There is no mandate, council members have to vote unanimously on routine city business unless it is a special circumstances situation. 

          “At 6:09 p.m. Councilwoman Melissa Kay made a motion to enter into      Executive Session pursuant to SDCL 1-25-2.1-Personnel; Councilwoman        Linda Talbott seconded it.  During discussion Councilwoman Vickie Larsen stated  if the Executive Session was related to her-she would request her        legal counsel. (one would think with both FO and Mini FO taking notes alleged to be minutes of the meeting could get it right but evidently not)      When discussion of the motion to go into Executive Session was called I     answered,

          Vickie, “Yes, if this is to discuss the discipline of a city council member and that person is me, I waive my right to executive session, I want it done in   open session and on camera.”

          Mayor Haeder , “How does anyone feel about that?”

          Councilman David Larsen, “We won’t know until we are in Executive         Session, will we?”

          City Attorney Sam Nelson, “No, uh forgive me for disagreeing to the extent the way you characterized it Vickie.  Executive session is not necessarily a personal right to you but is a privilege of the council with the exception of certain statutes and is the council’s decision as a whole to whether they want to enter Executive session for the purposes of discussing, uh, you.  I believe under statute an officer or elected officer qualifies as personnel so, uh, the discussion could be held in Executive session whether you wanted it to be or not.  However, any vote or any action would need to be, uh, taken in open session.”

          Vickie,  “No I was advised just (inaudible) I insist on open session and open discussion and you have in front of you a Bill of Particulars, Uhm, I want to know what the problem is, please fill those out so I may have those.”

          Mayor Haeder cuts in, ” So there is a motion on the floor, we are going to act on this motion right now.  So, uh, if there is no further discussion aside from what has already been discussed, I ask for how do you vote?”                    5 ayes1 no

          Vickie, “I object I want this evidence on the camera, I want to video tape it!”

          Mayor Haeder , “and that means we are in Executive session at 6:09 P.M.”

          Vickie “I am going to refuse until I have legal counsel!”

          Councilman David Larsen, “that was a short meeting,”

          City Attorney Sam Nelson, “Do you have one (attorney) on stand-by?”

          Vickie,  “Not tonight”

          City Attorney Sam Nelson, “Excellent, Uhm, I don’t know that you are        entitled to legal counsel, Uh, per the statute…discussion is allowed under         SDCL 1-25-2.”

          Councilman David Larsen, “Should we even be talking of this in Executive session?”

The above is a transcript of the opening salvo of a discussion of the agenda item discipline of a city council member.  Too bad FO, Mini FO and Councilwoman Kay did not take the class where meeting minutes are to be fact and not opinion based.  Better work on this Councilwoman Kay for your bar exam, first draught versus bottle maybe?

Agenda Item #5 Public Input- So Alcester City Council ya’ll just approved the October 7, 2020, minutes in gross error and with what appears to be tortious interference and particular when the camera showed a couple of broad grins on council members when the Discipline of a Councilmember was called.  Councilwoman Kay you wanted me to name a complainant and I refused giving you a name.  Given the manner and nature in which ya’ll came after me, did you really think I was going to throw someone employed in Alcester and dared complain about the Vindictive squad to the wolves? 

Second on my list for Input, was an expression of gratitude for the 30 plus years of loyal service by former Alcester Finance Office Mike Kezar to the city and citizens of Alcester and the lack luster reception my suggestion elicited.

Third on my list.  Yeah, well you remember when I asked Mr. Nohava and the council about EVOC certification of the “volunteers”.  I had the occasion to watch in horror as a firefighter came screaming down first street enroute to a fire call.  As I watched this moron whip around two cars, all but running them off the road at the intersection of first and Iowa with little regard to safety.  This is not the first time I have seen this happen.  Perhaps a re-run of EVOC training would be a benefit.  Oh yeah, by the way running the four-way flashers when you run a four way stop in your private vehicle does not mean jack.  In addition, if you injure someone you personally become liable meaning actual expenses with punitive awards.

Agenda #8 street signs.  Has gone from one sign to two signs with the promise of scattering slow children signs like the seeds of dandelions.  I think we need a slow adult sign or better yet a dangerous FO alert sign.  FO on the loose, if you see them wandering please let the mayor know immediately.

Agenda # Finance Office

Cares money, it appears only the mayor read the document outlining the purpose of the Cares money and he was bored.  It became apparent from body language the other council members either had not read the document or they lacked the comprehension app.   Not for entertainment computers for the dump guy.  Keep in mind that FO Pat can track where you are with these little ol’ devices.  Do you trust her?  Listen to the exchange if the we don’t get reimbursement for the 8 cutesy computers, the cost of $2400 plus cost will come out of the general fund.  There goes street/water improvements, we are just going to have suck it up buttercups and drink brown water.

Adjourned at 6:50 p.m.

Contact City Council

Mayor Dan Haeder                   605-934-2287

Councilman David Larsen        605-934-2434

Councilwoman Melissa Kay     712-557-0689

Councilwoman Darla Reppe    605-934-2602

Councilwoman Linda Talbot    605-934-1849

08/17/2020 A Voice From the Gallery

In the absence of Mayor Dan Haeder, President of the Council David Larsen opened the August 17, 2020,  meeting of the Alcester City Council at 6:00 p.m. with council members Marcus Ireland, Darla Reppe, Linda Talbott, Melissa Kay, Vickie Larsen and City Attorney Sam Nelson present.

The group recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

Agenda Item #3 Agenda approval was given with no changes and recorded with a unanimous six (6) aye vote.

Agenda Item #4 Public Input – Since there was no public, the city councilors mentioned items not included in the agenda: Councilman David Larsen announced a vacancy on the Library Board due to a resignation.   Comments were received concerning vandalism in the Park and the lights in the park.  Announcement was made the Alcester Auditorium has officially been sold and the keys turned over on August 17, 2020.

Agenda Item #5 Water and Wastewater – no updates- City Attorney Sam Nelson advised the council of past practices of setting rates by ordinance rather than by resolution and suggested a resolution to allow the setting of rates by ordinance.  South Dakota Municipal League describes the difference between ordinance and resolution as,

“Municipalities may enact, make, amend, revise, or repeal all such ordinances, resolutions, and regulations as may be proper and necessary to carry into effect the powers granted thereto (§9-19-3).

The word “ordinance” means a permanent legislative act within the limits of its powers of the governing body of a municipality (§9-19-1).

A resolution, on the other hand, means any determination, decision, or direction of the governing body of a municipality of a temporary or special character for the purpose of initiating, effecting, or carrying out its administrative duties and functions (§9-19-1)…The substance of the ordinance follows (§9-19-6).

Ordinances can only have one subject, which must be expressed in its title (§9-19-5). ..All ordinances shall be read twice by title with at least five days between each reading. If passed, the ordinances shall be signed by the mayor or acting mayor or president of the board of trustees, and filed with the finance officer. With few exceptions, ordinances, after being signed and filed, must be published at least once in the official newspaper (§9-19-7). The vote on the second reading of all ordinances must be recorded and published (§9-19-9).

Resolutions differ from ordinances in that any resolution may be passed after only one reading. The resolution must be published at length either separately or in the minutes of the meeting. The votes for and against the resolution must also be published (§9-19-8).

Unless an ordinance or resolution is drawn to take effect immediately upon passage, all ordinances and resolutions become effective on the twentieth day after passage and publication, unless suspended by operation of a referendum (§9-19-13).

Voters have the right to propose their own ordinances through the initiative process, or to refer any legislative decision of the governing body through the referendum process. More information on these processes can be found in the Handbook for Municipal Officials or in §9-20.”  (https://www.sdmunicipalleague.org/index.asp?Type=B_PR&SEC=%7B33E9C767-2065-4201-8F6B-DBDA8625A402%7D&DE=%7BC75C4AE0-AA9E-47DF-9128-2E6BDE604CEA%7D)

Agenda Item #6 & #7 combined discussion as suggested by City Attorney Sam Nelson.  Since Item #7 involved contractual matters the council went into Executive Session for the purposes of SDCL 1-25-2.3.  The council moved into Executive Session at 6:13 p.m. and came out of Executive Session at 6:30 p.m. Once out of Executive Session the group moved on to open session of Agenda Item #6.  A call for motion was made to allow contract negotiations to authorize the Mayor to sign the contract for the community building depending upon agreement of terms and conditions by both parties.  Vote was taken with 4 ayes and 2 nays.  Motion carried.

Agenda Item #8 – Updates Finance Office School sign contributions from the city to aid city advertising.  This discussion had been postponed due to a question regarding public moneys spent as contributions.  City Attorney Sam Nelson stated there was no problem regarding the contribution issues.  Discussion took place regarding the advertising issue on the sign such as city events, closures and etc. with a motion to contribute $1,000.00 this year coming from Councilman Ireland.  Vote was taken with five (5) ayes and one (1) nay.  Motion carried.  I was the nay vote.  My problem is all the advertising points for fee based announcements to appear on the school sign would be on the city website and as easily accessed.  Which begs the question, where is the city website and why is it not up?  Yet?

Agenda Item #9 – City Assets – I asked for this agenda item to discuss the sale of properties held by the city to put those properties back on the tax rolls.  The city has properties in its name which collects no property taxes, sales tax income or property improvement based income for the city.  These properties would be appraised and not to be auctioned but placed with realtors for sale for residential use or main street business use.

Agenda Item #10 – Update for Volunteer Roster For Worker Compensation.   Approved.

Agenda Item #11 – Executive Session 1-25-2.1 Personnel to discuss the qualifications, competence, performance, character or fitness of any public officer, employee or prospective public officer or employee.   This was an agenda item I requested.  The council went into Executive Session at 6:55 p.m. with only council members: David Larsen, Melissa Kay, Linda Talbot, Darla Reppe, Marcus Ireland and myself in the session.  At 7:19 p.m. President of the Council David Larsen declared the council out of Executive Session.  At this time the group delayed action on the question.

Agenda Item #12 – Adjourn –  The council adjourned at 7:21 p.m.

06/01/2020 A Voice From the Gallery

Mayor pro-tem David Larsen called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. with the following council members present: Councilwoman Melissa Kay, Councilwoman Linda Talbott, Councilman Dan Haeder, Councilman/Mayor pro-tem David Larsen, Councilwoman Darla Reppe and Alcester City Attorney Sam Nelson.

Agenda Item #2 – Pledge of Allegiance

Agenda Item #3– Approve agenda

Agenda Item #4 – Approve Minutes of May 4, 2020, and May 18, 2020.

Agenda Item #5 – Vacancy

Executive Session was called to interview candidates for mayor and for Ward II Council seat at 6:02 p.m.

Council came out of executive session at 6:35 p.m.   At 6:36 p.m. Ward III Councilman Dan Haeder resigned as Ward III council representative. It is uncertain why Councilman Haeder chose to resign because he could hold his seat as Ward III Councilman and perform duties as appointed mayor pro tem without resignation. Upon acceptance of what appeared to be his written resignation, the council appointed Mr. Haeder as Mayor until April 2021. Ward III was declared vacant and posting should appear in the official newspaper to fill the vacancy.

Next up was the appointment of Marcus Ireland as Ward II representative.

Both Haeder and Ireland were administered the Oath of Office by Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens. After five minutes of meeting and in which two (2) agenda items were dealt with, Mayor Pro Tem David Larsen realized Mayor Dan Haeder had not taken over the meeting and unfortunately our Parliamentarian Attorney Sam missed the failure to transfer of power. Mayor Haeder took over directing the meeting and re-did agenda items 6 and 7. A note here it came to my attention that FO Jurrens had not verified eligibility of Mr. Ireland prior to her administration of the Oath of Office to him. I asked FO Jurrens this morning (June 2, 2020) if Mr. Ireland was in fact eligible, registered voter in the city and her answer to me. “I do not know, I will contact Callie or Marcus”. This troubles me because the quasi-election official failed to verify eligibility before she administered the Oath of Office. After my conversation with Finance Office Jurrens, I verified with Union County that Mr. Ireland was indeed a registered voter and eligible to hold city council member seat.

Agenda Item #6 – Council office. Councilman David Larsen retains his position as President of the Council and Councilwoman Linda Talbott was elected as Vice-President of the Council second in line for mayor should something prevent Mayor Haeder from executing his duties as Mayor before April of 2020.

Agenda Item #7 – Signatures Council voted to place the following individuals as signatories for the bank accounts and access to safe deposit boxes in the name of Alcester City. Signers are listed as Mayor Dan Haeder, Council President David Larsen, Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens and Finance officer employee Wanda Halverson.

Agenda Item #8 – AMKO-Mark DeRaney Bond Issue

Mr. DeRaney has been working on the refinance of the water bond. A Resolution (2020-07)was needed to set this refinance in motion. In light of the recent changes in the economy it was determined that banks were no long as willing to finance bonds so Mr. DeRaney was working with underwriter D.A. Davidson, out of Des Moines, Iowa, and with Zions Bank Trust Corporation as payee which was required for the change-over process. The resolution needed to be amended to reflect the changes.

In addition to the publication of Resolution 2020-07, a special meeting was needed to complete the transaction. Special meeting was set up for June 19. 2020, at 1:00 p.m. in the Auditorium.

Agenda Item # 9 – ROCS transport -represented by Peter Smith. This agenda item was pushed back in the agenda line up due to the Planning and Zoning Hearing.

Agenda Item #12 – 7:00 p.m. -Planning and Zoning Hearing-(out of order) . It was determined an amendment was needed in Ordinance (2020-08) to create a planned development district which can write its own rules but cannot be an area smaller than a city block.   (Chapter 5)

Agenda Item #9- ROCS Transport continued. This is a transport service to provide rides to appoints and etc in town and out of town. It was mentioned the Care Center was no longer transporting residents to appointments.

Agenda Item #10 – Emergency Siren testing and repairs- Discussion and information was shared concerning our emergency siren system by Axel Ericson and Pat Kast. Discussion covered a weekly routine test at a specific time and day to keep batteries operational and find any problems before any emergency.

Agenda Item #11 – Input-

I shared input which dealt with inaccuracies in meeting minutes. Specifically the Finance Officer editorializing the minutes and not facts of the meeting. Specifically the reference to the issue/input regarding contract variance. She opined the conversation between Attorney Sam and myself did not have anything to do with Alcester. The contract variance dealt specifically with a seated councilman and the finance officer of Alcester which definitely deals with Alcester. I also advised the council that Hawarden pool is closed and Beresford pool will not be open until June 15, 2020, and then only to residents of Beresford and the Beresford School District. I also mentioned an issue with the cemetery and an employee of the city with regarding to a squirrel jumping from a Pine tree on the cemetery property and causing a power outage down Lincoln Drive. The employee was mowing with headphones on, failed to hear the explosion, failed to quit mowing when the Mid-American Tech was on scene discussing the situation with me even when he saw us standing next to the Utility Truck with a Boom.

A gentlemen who had just moved into town was questioning the zoning and asked how to get and who to get a building permit from. He also asked where he might find the building codes. It would have been nice to be able to tell him he could find all that information on our website, BUT we do not have a website—WHY?

Oh and lest we forget Mike Burkes, purchase Lots 5 and 6 in on Beck Drive (just behind to the north of Randy Heuer)in the Numsen Addition and their proposed S***House. This is a residential neighborhood and not business, storage or commercial. This edifice S***House was according to Mr. Burke too big for just one lot. Mr. Heuer those covenants which protected the value of your property are deemed null, care to argue that premise with those of us complaining the covenants are not void. You have more to lose than me.

Agenda Item #15 – Pool Updates- Yeah, there was a discussion concerning the interview of pool personnel. It came to light the pool committee was not notified of the interviews and were kept out of the interview by Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens. Once again she was interview employees without a bona-fide councilmember present. WOW talk about major over reach. FO Jurrens you are still not a councilmember, you are still not a city administrator, your are still just the city bookkeeper!

Agenda Item #16– Chief of Police- Discussion of hours, and over -time.

Agenda Item # 19-

Ordinance 2020-05 Clovid 19 derivative, amended by repeal of all but the mayor’s call to close down. Passed

Ordinance 2020-06 Two meetings per month-Passed 3 Ayes, 2 nays. Comment was made by Mayor Haeder about the length of meetings being the reason for the change to two regular meetings per month. I submit Mayor Haeder you set the agenda and you are in charge of what business comes before the council and how much time is spend on that business not Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens. Sir you control the length of the meeting, so in fact you do not need two regular meetings a month.

Agenda Item #20– Personnel Manual rewrite-Still in process. Department Heads, versus Committee versus Supervisors exercise in semantics. Additional discussion of Overtime for police Department which is exempt from Overtime versus Administrative Exempt from Overtime. Sam indicates that FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act is not applicable to Alcester. We better make it applicable or we will not be able to maintain a decent police department.

Agenda Item #21- Finance Office- Warrants dealt with. Notice the Finance Office was undergoing an Analytical Review. Rent for city offices at the old school will be in exchange for law care paid by city.

Agenda Item #26 – Adjourn at 9:32 p.m.

05/18/2020 A Voice From the Gallery

“THE SECRET OF FREEDOM LIES IN EDUCATING PEOPLE WHEREAS THE SECRET OF TYRANNY IS IN KEEPING THEM IGNORANT”.

Maximillien Robespierre

 President of the Alcester City Council (mayor pro tem) David Larsen called the Special Meeting of the Alcester City Council to order at 6:00 p.m. with the following council members present; Councilwoman Melissa Kay, Councilwoman Linda Talbott, Councilman David Larsen, Councilwoman Darla Reppe, Councilman Dan Haeder and Alcester City Attorney Sam Nelson seated at the council table.

The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by the council and gallery.

Upon the completion of the pledge recitation and immediately prior to the call for approval of the agenda, I called ‘point of order’. I chose this method because Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens placed Input as Agenda Item #8 well behind any opportunity to point out errors in her agenda. I addressed the error of announcing in Agenda Item #4 Mayor and Ward II vacancy under subsection (a) was a motion to approve the appointment of Dan Haeder as mayor and I pointed out that this move had the effect of shutting out the voters of Alcester as well as the council who were unaware of proper procedure and were being ask to take Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens legal opinion on this. South Dakota Statute SDCL 9-9-8. Absence of sickness of mayor-Acting President-Acting mayor and SDCL 9-13-14.1, 9-13-14.2 and 9-12-14.3 deals with this issue as well as the 2014 Supplement 2.575 Vacancies in the SDML publication. In addition to the error of Agenda Item #4, Agenda Item #5 dealt with announcing the vacancy of Ward II and Ward III. At this point I asked Councilwoman Darla Reppe if she was vacating her seat on the council, she answered, “no she was not” which left Councilman Dan Haeder’s newly (shoot the shine was barely off the Ward III seat) appointed seat up for grabs. But according to statute, if the council appoints a sitting ‘brother’ councilman as mayor–he takes on all the duties of mayor pro tem until the next election and retains his vote as Ward III representative unless it creates a conflict and he must abstain. Kind of a complicated thing to grasp.

A spirited conversation ensued as you can witness in the video. Upon the conclusion of the discussion the motion was made to approve the agenda with agenda items #4 and #5 deleted from the agenda with 4 ayes and 1 nay. Agenda Items #4 and #5 were deleted.

Agenda Item #6– Signatures was called to allow Councilman David Larsen and Councilman Dan Haeder to power of signature with the bank.

Agenda Item #7-Credit Card Charge Limit to be raised and one additional card holder to be added for a grand total of $5,500.00.   Now folks it seems $5,500.00 is out-of-line for emergency purchases. In fact I have been advised that $5,500.00 is excessive for emergency purposes for a city credit card. I agree. If you ever get an opportunity (IF) to view warrants of finance office purchases, instead of going down Alice’s rabbit hole you will enter the cluttered closet of our recycler of discarded households.

Agenda Item #8-Public Input- Now folks in the interests of open meetings and the public right of input on any business before the council the agenda item of public input is usually at numeral placement of item 3 or 4 to keep the meeting open to the public and not force them to stay in meeting ’til 9:00 p.m. and then the input is rushed ’cause the council is ‘tired’ and want to go home.

I did ask who all had access to city credit cards at varying amounts–Answer to name a few- Finance Officer Pat, Ass’t Finance Officer Wanda, Dale, Lonnie, Chief Christie, with the most recent addition of the librarian.

Agenda Item #9 – Swimming pool- The discussion should we or shouldn’t we open the pool and how do we handle it. Do we have enough personnel and so forth? Who is going to do the cleaning and how often. Dudes have ya ever seen the wipe down frequency of a doctor’s office? I can assure you the nurse does not hand you a wet wipe and tell you to wipe the exam table down, much less have a lifeguard tell a ten year old that once he/she has wiped their derriere to pull out a wet wipe ‘n’ wipe the toilet seat down A-N-D then wash their hands?

From the sounds of the discussion the pool may or may not be open.  One caution, if one placards a known danger and yet opens the danger to the public, who gets sued jointly and severally?   Sioux Falls has closed their pools, hint, hint, hint!

Agenda Item #10 Golf Course Clubhouse Manager- Wait did we not just hire a clubhouse manager? Yup and now we are at it again. Oh but wait to you hear. We had a committee of three council members who over-see and keep track of the arm of the city which involves the golf course. Now the agenda item is described as motion to hire Michael Croy. First question was from Councilwoman Talbott and to the effect what happened to the most recent club house hire? Answer, that person is no longer there. Really? Okay but the problem is that Councilwoman Talbott was one of the committee. H-m-m Then comes the question, when is the interview,   Answer? Yup you guessed it. The interview already had happened WITHOUT Councilwoman Talbott. Next question from Councilwoman Talbott, why didn’t you let me know? No answer. W-O-W Last question who did the interview? Are ya ready?—–-why Councilman David Larsen and Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens! Really the town bookkeeper? Alcester Bookkeeper Jurrens has no authority and it appears she FAILED to notify at least one council member who did have the authority. Talk about getting run off the road and then bookkeeper Patricia drove her bus over the real councilwoman. Are we really going to put up with her over reach?

Agenda Item # 11 Legal Updates- Ordinance 2020-06 (amendment) First Reading

Agenda Item # 12 Planning and Zoning – Notice of amendment of district, Notice of hearing for public input schedule for 7:00 p.m.

No Executive sessions

Agenda Item #14-adjournment 7:11 p.m. Meeting adjourned

NOTE from the quote above and the secret of freedom, it seems a whole lot of tyranny is goin’ on.

*Update as of yesterday 05/18/2020 and my check in with SD DCI the election violation case is still alive.

 

Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for citizenry.

Thomas Jefferson

05/15/2020 A Voice From the Gallery

Folks, we have no mayor. 

 

Check out what the plan is for Monday!

lookee, lookee all the amendings and revisions.

 

Input has been placed where the public cannot speak on whether they want a special election for mayor and Ward II council person and not an appointment done under the table! 

NOTE the decision has already been made in secret by author of agenda.

Agenda Item #4 a) , motion to approve the appointment of Dan Haeder for Mayor until next election.  This was done in secret, no open session!

 

Agenda Item #12 Amend Ordinance?  So Amend the height of the contract variance Again?

 

COME TO THE MEETING 

 

 

LET YOUR VOICES BE HEARD!

05/13/2020 A Voice From the Gallery

As I understand it, after the May 4, 2020, city council meeting Mayor Tom Glas resigned as mayor.  By the way it is not official until the council VOTES to accept his resignation!

This left the newly elected president councilmember David Larsen of the council as mayor pro tem to perform the duties of mayor until a new mayor may be appointed or elected.

Folks the city has the option of appointing a mayor or having a special election. I urge the residents of Alcester to insist upon a special election to fill the positions of Ward II council position and Mayoral position with an emphasis let the people decide.

I CALL FOR A SPECIAL ELECTION!

NO APPOINTMENT!

A SPECIAL ELECTION!

 Unfortunately the council has not distinguished itself when considering variances, appointments and spending money. It has been argued that special election costs have not been included in the city budget-that the city cannot afford an election.  THE CITY CANNOT AFFORD NOT TO HAVE AN ELECTION. If Finance Officer Jurrens can scrape up money for a police building caused by Mayor Tom Glas and the council not having the foresight of no place for the Police Department before selling the PD Office out from under our police force and other non-budget items, I am confident money can be found for an election.

LET’S SEE PAST PERFORMANCE:

  • Councilwoman Patricia Jurrens/Finance Officer “wanted” Beck Drive, she found non-budget money for that.
  • Finance Officer Patricia “wanted” over-time for her appointive position as Finance Officer, she found non-budget money for that. Of course not the secret desk drawer, dollar diary, non-compliant, non-approved overtime $28K +/- for which she was hoping but $4880. +/-. The mayor/city council had to approve on paper any over-time or comp time, didn’t happen. I asked for FOIA and was told these approvals did not exist. Mayor Glas FAILED his duty, and the council voted (against city ordinance) to approve a non-approval of over-time rated payment demanded by Alcester City Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens while she actively worked against over-time/comp time request of police chief Chris Doty using the argument he was not eligible for over-time or comp time.
  • Mayor Glas allowed Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens to attend non-Finance Office functions on city time at tax payer expense. Glas allowed Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens to campaign during finance office hours at the Commercial Club/Chamber of Commerce meeting, Community Building meetings, hold birthday parties at the local club house of which it is my understanding she was not a paying member of the golf club, allowed Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens to circulate through Anderson Drive residents with the City Council Member Lance Johnson to obtain a Contract for Variance and attend a meeting (video admission) with Michael McGill to get an opinion on covenants in the Anderson Drive section of Numsen Addition at the suggestion of Mr. Tom Frieberg who had a conflict of interest.
  • Said Contract for Variance (contract for variance is illegal) had an objection by Vickie Larsen and which a named partner, Larry Nelson had argued against a variance in Hamerly v. city of Lennox which the Hamerly’s objected to the construction of a garage (non-conforming) building to be built in a residential neighborhood.
  • Then there are the election violations perpetrated by Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens and she was not furloughed/terminated by Glas or the Council.
  • Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens found money for FDR (Full Depth Reclamation) which was a predictable (according to a road construction business owner) miserable flop and cost the residents street repair money through street maintenance tax.

These are just a few instances where the Finance Officer over-reached her position and violated city law.

There are people who have witnessed the illegal antics of Patricia Jurrens, please come forward complain. Let me know (vickielarsen98@gmail.com). I have taken a public stand, I will continue to take a public stand but I need support since I have been repeatedly denied placement on the council.

There is a meeting Monday, May 18, 2020, at 6:00 p.m. in the city auditorium. Come see and hear for yourselves. Let your voices be heard.

The city is waffling on closing the pool due to the pandemic. It is your children, your parents and grandparents who are at risk. It is our life-guards and city employees who are at risk because some of the council think we need to keep the pool open. That we need to keep the kiddies occupied, do you really want to risk your children to be occupied (if they are lucky) with just plain breathing with a vent in a hospital?

PUSH BACK FROM APPOINTMENT OF MAYOR AND COUNCILPERSON BY THE EXISTING COUNCIL TO A FULL BLOWN ELECTION BY THE PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE.*

 

 

*the Finance Office cannot be involved in going to the Care Center to ‘help’ fill out absentee applications or ballots—it is deemed a conflict by SDML

05/04/2020 A Voice From the Gallery

* council meeting in auditorium- acoustics are terrible and it is increasingly hard to hear because the mayor mumbles and is inaudible from the distance we are required to sit. The council needs to add at least three microphones, one each at the east side council table, the south side council table and the west side council table, so the gallery can accurately hear our council members.  Note I added captions to help identify some of the agenda items.

Mayor Glas called the May 4, 2020, Alcester City Council meeting to order (kind-of) at 6:00 p.m. with the following council members present: David Larsen, Melissa Kay, Linda Talbott, Darla Reppe, Dan Haeder and City Attorney Sam Nelson reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

The group approved the agenda, no discussion and a unanimous vote of five ayes approving the agenda. Then they went on to approve the minutes of April 4, 2020, and April 15, 2020, again with no discussion and a unanimous vote of five ayes to approve the minutes without change.

The Beck Drive gas line issue was addressed and voted to pay the $4750.00 bill to run gas line to Mike Burke’s newly purchased lot. Again a little discussion but with a unanimous vote of five ayes passing the issue.

Warrants were called (the bills of the city) with a motion, a second, no discussion and a unanimous vote of five ayes passing the payment of warrants as listed by Bookkeeper Pat Jurrens.

The council adjourned the old council at 6:05 p.m. with a motion, a second, no discussion and a unanimous vote of five ayes to adjourn.

******************************************************************

Mayor Glas opened the new meeting.

Agenda Item #2 Ward II vacancy interview of candidate Austin Schuller. The motion was made and seconded to go into Executive session to conduct the interview, Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens was asked to leave the meeting prior to the commencement of the interview. There was no discussion and the group voted unanimously five ayes to go into Executive Session at 6:07 p.m. The council was declared back into session at 6:18 p.m. No motions were made, no decision made and no business was conducted with reference to Mr. Schuller’s request for council seating in the vacant council seat in Ward II.

Agenda Item #3 The election of Council President and Vice President of the city council. The Council President takes over when the mayor is incapacitated, absent or resigns with the Vice President in stand by position. Dan Haeder moved to appoint David Larsen as council president, second, no discussion and the vote was 4 ayes and Councilman Larsen abstained from the vote. The vote affirmed the appointment of Councilman David Larsen as President of the Alcester City Council.

David Larsen moved to appoint Dan Haeder as Vice-President of the Alcester City Council, seconded, no discussion, with 4 ayes and Councilman Dan Haeder abstained from the vote. The vote affirmed the appointment of Councilman Dan Haeder as Vice-President of the Alcester City Council.

Agenda Item #4 Mayor presents Committee assignments. Mayor Glas handed out his/FO Pat’s (overstep by FO)committee assignments of the city council members. Councilwoman Melissa Kay took issue with the logic and implementation of the committee assignments. Mayor Glas appears to have used the lottery system of assigning committee memberships, you know where the little cubes with councilmember’s names are shaken up and the first three names that roll out are on that particular committee.

Mayor Glas was irritated that his logic was flawed and he started to pout.  A-w-w!

Agenda Item #5 ROC Transport – No show, evidently they do not want our business!

Agenda Item #6-AMKO-No show. Finance Officer Pat ‘explained’

Agenda Item #7-Public Input-I had public input. The Contract Variance of Lance Johnson, former councilman. I presented the council with a Variance Case #20107, Don Hamerly v The City of Lennox. Mr. Hamerly was represented by Larry A. Nelson of Frieberg, Rudolph & Nelson. Gee I understand that is the father of our City Attorney Sam Nelson. This where the court agreed with Mr. Nelson’s argument and found for Mr. Hamerly. So with that precedent why did our city council allow the contract variance of Councilman Lance Johnson?

     I also presented the council with Headlines of a case which happened in Alcester with regard to re-call of the mayor. I explained to the council the first Headline section dealt with the signed petition for the recall of Alcester Mayor Kim Shefte, the second Headline section involved the news our petition was kicked out because it was not specific enough and finally the third Headline section dealt with the fact where we (the petitioners) edited the petition so that it was specific…collected signatures and re-presented our petition to the council when Mayor Kim Shefte resigned. I was asked the question is this a threat and my answer was no- a promise.

Agenda Item #10 Garbage Collection- Loren Fischer wanted to permanently continue the one-side pick-up. This is a problem for our less agile population and just a pain in the neck for the rest of us. If nothing else, we could have a central dumpster and toss our own garbage into the dumpsters. FO Pat responded that those from outside the city would be dumping into those dumpsters, I responded they already are. Council voted to do the one-sided pick-up just during the spring soft street months.

Agenda Item #23 ADJOURN

                   Council adjourned at 8:42 p.m.

03/16/2020 A Voice From the Gallery

Mayor Tom Glas called the March 16, 2020, Special Equalization meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. with Councilman Dan Haeder, Councilman David Larsen, Councilwoman Linda Talbott, Councilwoman Melissa Kay and Councilwoman Darla Reppe present. Once again Councilman Lance Johnson was absent and there was no city attorney present.

*NOTE-I apologise to Michael Bucholz for mis-spelling his name in the title page in the video.  I did and do know how to spell his name but missed my error in the proofing process.

After the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, the council began by approving the agenda unanimously.

Agenda Item #4 – AMKO Mr. Mark DeRaney representative made a presentation regarding Alcester’s Sewer bond and the rework to lower interest rate as I understand it. The city council had to vote on Resolution 2020.03 to re-fund the bond at a lower interest rate. The council voted to move forward.

Agenda Item #5 – Equalization Board This is where the council received appeals to property tax valuation. At that point in the evening no one had presented an appeal of valuation nor did it appear there was any discretionary reductions taken by the county at this point. There will be a citywide assessment in 2021 by the county. No action taken.

Agenda Item #6 – Public Input – I mentioned several comments made to me about water meter reading discrepancies in billing. I told the council they need to be aware there are complaints which have been voiced to me. My recommendation is to have residents keep a monthly log of their meter reading and compare it to what their water bill reads, then report discrepancies to the finance office so the finance office can correct the readings or have the meter reading devices calibrated.

Agenda Item #7 – Community Building Project- the project committee met with the architects to cut costs and determine which items would be cut from the blue-printed plans. Items mentioned that were to be cut or deleted:  (red areas indicate areas in which cuts and deletions were proposed)

  • Basement
  • Stairway to basement
  • No front canopy
  • Utility room moved from basement to the proposed Fitness Center
  • Fitness center was on the cutting block but mediation brought it to where the council chamber (conference room)was to be located.
  • No firm decision on the cuts and deletions was made at this time.

                    

Agenda Item #8 – Hire candidate Parker Dooley as Utility person at $12.00/hour.

Agenda Item #9 – Executive Session called for Contractual matters. When I asked what contract of Finance Officer, I was told litigation. H-m-m Litigation? How is that contractual? Sounded more like lawsuit to me so my next question, is the city is being sued? I received no answer. I wonder if that is what is called, ‘asked and answered’? The non-answer is an affirmative answer?

This executive session lasted from 6:37 p.m. to 7:03 p.m. just shy of a half an hour of executive chit-chat without an attorney present and no public action taken!

Agenda Item #10 – Executive session called for Personnel – Gallery and Finance Officer Pat Jurrens exited the room and Union County Attorney Jerry Miller and Michael Bucholz entered into the Executive Session with the Council. About 30-40 minutes later Union County Attorney Miller and Mr. Bucholz exited the Executive Session. At 7:45 p.m. Alcester Finance Officer Patricia Jurrens entered the Executive session and exited the Executive session at 8:30 p.m. and at 8:34 p.m. Mayor Glas called the council out of Executive Session Personnel.

Grand total of 1 1/2 hour of Executive Session time with no public action.

Agenda Item #11 – City Insurance Review – Finance Officer Jurrens recited the various assets needing coverage of insurance and upgrades in valuations, actual or replacement. Then (49:43:80) Finance Officer Jurrens focused on General Liability Coverage, Professional Liability Coverage and mumbled something about Time Computations (?) which translated to employee embezzlement. Now ‘time computations’ which was unintelligible both in live meeting and on the video brings the question of approval of over-time and comp-time for the finance office and other administrative positions. Administrative positions are not paid over-time. Alcester City Ordinance required approval (on paper) for any over-time for the Finance Office. Yet when I asked Mayor Glas and Finance Officer for access to Mayor Glas’ or City Council approval of any over-time hours for the Finance Office I was told there were no such records. This was in violation of City Ordinance requiring a document carrying the mayor’s signature of approval, the date, justification for Over Time and the number of hours. So in effect I was told the 232 +/- hours of over-time/comp time logged by Finance Officer Pat Jurrens had no documented proof of approval and for which a check was cut to the tune of $4880.00. Is that what we need insurance for? So which one is guilty of embezzlement the original computation or Mayor Glas who had the responsibility? H-m-m?

Agenda Item #12 – Adjournment Meeting was adjourned at 8:55 p.m.

02/19/2020 A Voice From the Gallery

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

February 20, 2001

Over the past three years I witnessed many miscarriages of justices and I have not been silent.

I participated in a criminal trial as an alibi witness.  I learned quickly the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution exists only in a museum and it is a bastardised versions of these documents the real world practices.  A prospective juror, a teacher in the Jefferson school district told the defense attorney, “it is up to the defendant to prove himself innocent”, his words, ‘guilty until proven innocent”.  I spend a year and a half fighting for truth, fighting law enforcement and struggling to keep my family whole.  I spent a week in the Woodbury County Courthouse; during that week I watched Iowa DCI Agent Dan Moser (retired)  and  DCI Agent Terry Klooster (Finality Investigations) and the alleged victim’s boyfriend Rod Jones having coffee in the jury room with the jury present.  I waited for the defense attorneys to do something, I waited for Woodbury County Deputy to do something—finally I did something,  The Iowa DCI agents described me as confrontational.  When I was finally allowed in the courtroom, I was subject to a physical search.  Ever have one of those?  Most people have criminal courtroom experience only via entertainment television, so they have no concept of sitting silently, waiting for a jury to deliver a verdict.  The cannot feel every hair on their body stand on end, feel the tentacles of cold despair radiate into their soul, hear the screams of their sister rip across the silence or the intense personal pain emanate in tsunami-like waves from the brother-in-law as he grips their hand while the jury foreman makes the pronouncement “Guilty”!  My nephew was with me that fateful night, yet he was convicted and sentence to life without the possibility of parole at the age of 19 on the anniversary of his parent’s marriage.

I have spent the past year researching law, working for the appeal and waiting through the everlasting nightmare that has become normal life for my family.  I have been in constant contact with my nephew in prison, in each conversation I have with him we discuss the things we did wrong, and the things we did right.  Uppermost in each conversation is that we allowed public opinion to cow us and intimidate us into not fighting as strongly as we should have.  On January 3, 2001, I went to Des Moines to listen to oral arguments in the Iowa Appellate Court for nephew’s appeal.  Imagine your whole life balanced on the best argument your attorney can make in 15 minutes.  On February 7, 2001, we received work the appeal was granted to my nephew so we go back to trial.

During the past three years my attitude has undergone a catharsis.  I will never stand by silently allowing an innocent individual be railroaded by misinformation, untruths, by cowards who let others take blame for their actions or people too lazy to investigate the truth whether it is in Spirit Lake, Iowa or here in Alcester, South Dakota.  To my critics, shame comes from continuing to perpetuate a wrong on a good man when he has been proven innocents.  If divisive means one faction fighting to restore a man’s good name while a second factions continues to perpetuate the wring, Yup we are divided!  If airing the dirty laundry is the only way to clean it, get the clothes-pins ready and the clothes-line wiped down!  I come from a line of fighters, the Magee and Culbertson in the Revolutionary War and the Newtons in both World Wars.  I am confrontational, I am pit-bull tenacious, I am obdurate but I AM NOT a quitter.  To the cowards who mail me the unsigned, anonymous sophomoric drivel, which passes for your opinions of my worth—I decline your invitation.  I am here—- so bring it on!  This one ‘little woman’ who will not only be seen but be heard.  I will no longer silently sit back hoping truth and justice will prevail.  I will fight, annoy, push, shove, bully, harass and antagonize to ensure justice has a chance.  I am more than willing to, as the title of a jazz song suggests, “Face The Music and Dance”!

A look back, still I wait but the storm is indeed building.