Sioux Falls City Council, mayor, have a 'compromise' on public input

Published: Jun. 14, 2018 at 4:35 PM CDT
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The Sioux Falls City Council and Mayor Paul TenHaken have come to an "agreement in principle" on what to do about public input at council meetings.

More than 30 people testified during public input at Tuesday's meeting, asking the council and TenHaken to reconsider the ordinance by councilor Marshall Selberg that would move it to the end of the meeting. One three people spoke in favor of the ordinance. Despite an amended version presented by at-large councilor Janet Brekke and a last minute motion made by Brekke and councilor Pat Starr to delay a vote until additional options could be studied, the council voted 4-3 in favor of the ordinance as it was originally written by Selberg.

But that resulted in pushback from the three council members who voted against it and additional uprising on social media from citizens.

TenHaken's Deputy Chief of Staff T.J. Nelson said Wednesday that TenHaken reached out to "most" of the city council members about a resolution on public input.

According to Nelson, TenHaken pitched some of his ideas from his campaign, took the city councilors' ideas and public input from Tuesday's meeting into consideration.

On Wednesday, TenHaken told KSFY, "I thought I knew where I sat on that, but I'll tell you what - the testimony last night was very powerful. So I'm gonna be meeting with some councilors at on that and making sure that we're pursuing the right route on that... And so, I'll say I'm right in the middle right now because I'm continuing to gather facts and information."

TenHaken campaigned on restoring decorum to city council meetings after several profanity-laced outbursts occurred during public comment over the last few months with the city's previous administration at the helm.

Following a mayoral debate hosted by KSFY, the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and Argus Leader in April, TenHaken said he was interested in establishing a sign-up sheet for those wishing to address the council, reducing the current five minute time limit and enforcing a code of conduct for meetings.

Thursday afternoon, Nelson said this is what the council and TenHaken have agreed to in principle.

• Public input will stay at the beginning of council meetings

• Public input will be limited to 30 minutes per meeting and three minutes per person

• The use of video will no longer be allowed

• A new rule: Public input can be heard at the first reading of an ordinance, prior to council discussion or vote. Currently, public input is only allowed during the second reading

Nelson said this is an example of the, "consensus and compromise" TenHaken promised on the campaign trail and that TenHaken is, "doing what he promised to bring people together."

Nelson said TenHaken, the council and city hall want the meetings to be, "productive for everyone."