Open, People-Friendly Government

The foundation for good government is openness and honesty. Without these principles, it’s difficult for City Hall to be successful.

Alan Hanks is on record as opposing minutes and recordings for closed sessions. This alone demonstrates it time for a change, but there are other examples.

I have a positive vision for open, accessible government, and I have been consistent on this subject since my election to the council in 2002.

In 2003, I helped lead the effort to defeat a scandalous transaction to sell tax ownership of your waste-water treatment plant to foreign interests, including a company in Australia, two LLC’s in the Cayman Islands, a bank in Belgium. (Yes, it’s hard to believe, but it really almost happened here.) Learn more about the Lease-Leaseback.

In 2005, I led the successful effort to put the city council meetings on streaming audio, which laid the foundation for putting the meetings on streaming video in 2010.

Lack of Tape availability upsets Kooiker (6/25/2005)

The council also passed an ordinance in 2005 requiring special elections for city council or mayoral vacancies, eliminating the potential for closed door deals or cronyism when filling an open seat.

Rapid City aldermen leave closed session (9/22/2004)

City council OK’s special elections (8/04/2005)
Note: The first special election (to fill a council vacancy) in Rapid City occurred in November of 2008.

Alan Hanks refuses request for e-mails about soccer TIF (10/16/2008)
Note: Alan Hanks still hasn’t explained to the community why the Mayor’s office directed that a Tax Increment Finance District be formed without a project plan. This action flies in the face of the reforms he promised when he ran for office in 2007. The TIF was defeated as a result of the secrecy and resulting controversy.

I have long supported recordings of closed sessions. While I recognize that some of the people’s business does need to be done behind closed doors, there needs to be documentation to ensure accountability, and to make sure the actions taken as a result of executive session reflect the discussion that occurred within executive session. Alan Hanks is opposed to this –he says state law is unclear. However, he is also opposed to working with the legislature to clearing up state law to ensure this can be done. Many other states have been recording closed sessions for decades, and the recordings/minutes are sealed and can be only opened by a judge in certain circumstances.

Keep a record of secret meetings (7/28/2010)

And check out the minutes for a post-executive session vote that occurred on 4/18/2011. No one has any idea what we actually voted on, and if we talked about it, we would get in trouble for violating rules of executive session. However, there is no documentation anywhere that shows what was discussed or voted on.

City Council action on 4/18/2011 (see page 27)

Minutes kept in other states, not South Dakota (5/15/2011) Alan Hanks is on the record in this article as opposing minutes/recordings of closed sessions.

Rapid City Council spends more time in executive session than any city in state (5/15/2011)

City to ask attorney general’s opinion on executive session (5/15/2011)

Airport board says it learned from reprimand (5/15/2011)

There are other incidents over the years that demonstrate the need for open, honest government.

Censure & Editorials/Video
Judge Grosshans article
Leaseback – Allco’s Final Push
The Collapse of Allco Finance