Sioux Falls City Council vote 4-3 in favor of proposed public input ordinance

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - After more than two hours of testimony from more than 30 citizens, the Sioux Falls City Council voted 4-3 in favor of the original ordinance to move public input to the end of council agendas.

Councilor Marshall Selberg's proposal advances to its second reading and final vote on the measure next week.

Earlier in the day during an informational meeting, newly-elected at-large councilor Janet Brekke introduced a proposal she called a "compromise," but the council voted for Selberg's proposal.

Brekke and Pat Starr proposed an amendment to delay the next reading to study other options, but the council moved forward.

Selberg, Rick Kiley, Greg Neitzert and Curt Soehl voted yes, while Brekke, Starr and Theresa Stehly voted no. Councilor Christine Erickson was not at Tuesday night's meeting.

"Public input can be painful we don't always hear what we wanna hear but we need to hear it," said Jeff Davis during his input to the council.

Many people echoed his sentiment, talking about democracy, the rights of the people who elected the council and Mayor Paul TenHaken -- who citizens say work for them -- the taxpayers and much more.

Others testified about children who want to come speak and participate in city government, parents, single parents who might need a babysitter and can't afford it, people who've worked all day and senior citizens who want to get to bed.

"For children that would like to come and testify about their swimming pools or parks or whatever is of interest to sit here for two or three hours until things are complete, that's an unnecessary encumberance to them and to their parents," said Rebecca Dunn.

But restoring decorum was also a major topic.

"For instance, if we had a group of young children attend a meeting and their lesson for the day was that adults get to be disrespectful to their city leaders and use profanity in a way that is degrading, instead of as a matter of emphasis," said Thor Bardon.

And the recent election cycle was on the minds of many who are hoping newly elected city leaders don't waiver on their promises of working for them and being transparent. Briggs Warren, who ran against Neizert in 2016, spoke about the talks of transparency.

"The necessity of transparency in government and the necessity of citizens in that government [was important]," Warren said. "Moving them to the end under the cover of darkness is cutting them back."

Some people want public input to stay at the beginning of the meeting so they can enjoy their nights.

"Now i'm still fresh at seven o'clock in the evening but by nine or ten o'clock I'm getting a little wary," said James Mitchell. "By 9:30, I might be ready to have a nightcap of apricot-flavored brandy and a nice, warm bed to rest on."

Mitchell drew applause and laughter from the crowd.

Others testified about how people are more attentive and productive at the beginning of meetings. A lawyer testified about the Greek root of the word "democracy."

The City Council will have its second reading of the proposed ordinance next Tuesday night.