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December 06, 2017 10:03 PM

Sioux Falls City Council Tensions

There is more fallout from last night's Sioux Falls city council meeting. We now know why councilor Pat Starr walked out of the chambers as the city discussed a multi-million dollar mixed use parking ramp for downtown.

When the discussions got heated, Starr says Mayor Mike Huether and Council Chair Rick Kiley abruptly halted public testimony and said the discussion was over.

Starr issued this statement:

"On Tuesday night, December 5, 2017 the Sioux Falls City Council was asked by the Huether administration to cast a vote on a proposed mixed-use parking development deal in down town Sioux Falls. It was a complicated deal that proposed a City financing deal of $21.3 million for the parking ramp and a $30 million privately funded building." 

"During the public’s one and only opportunity to offer input to the City Council on this project Mayor Mike Huether, with the consent of Council Chair Rick Kiley, abruptly halted public testimony and said that it was over. I did request that the Mayor reconsider his and Councilor Kiley’s decision but was told we had heard enough."

"I could not in good conscience sit in the room with the public silenced and stopped from being heard by their elected officials. We are elected to office to listen to our citizens and to use this information to act on their behalf to the best of our ability."

"Three weeks ago the Huether administration dropped a done deal on the Council and the citizens of Sioux Falls claiming this scheme has been discussed for many years. In fact, this was the first time the Council had a chance to publicly review and question the program."

"The people were shut off access to their elected officials. These officials are charged with spending their tax money."

"Through mayoral control of and City Council leadership rules, this was the 1st chance for the public to be part of the decision-making process. They were insulted and told their input was not needed and certainly not valuable."

"If the citizens can’t be heard by the Council, then why should my voice be heard or my sacred vote be cast, if the citizen’s voice is shutoff? How do we as elected officials truly represent the people?"

"At this time I offer my sincere apology to those residents who appeared at the Council meeting last night and were not allowed to speak. I value your opinions and wish that you could have been heard."

"With that being said, I am calling upon Mayor Huether and Council Chair Kiley to also apologize to those citizens wronged and to pledge it will not happen again."

Councilor Kiley issued this statement in response saying:

“Councilor Starr requesting an apology is really just a concerted effort by him to deflect responsibility for this public spectacle, and failing to uphold a Councilor’s basic responsibility to represent his/her constituents by voting yes or no on challenging issues.”

“It is unfortunate that Councilor Starr elected to leave the Chambers last evening.  Once he left Chambers he was no longer in a position to represent the citizens that elected him to represent them and to make the hard decisions required of a Council member.”

“Councilor Starr could have appealed the Mayor’s decision by making a motion to override the chair which he has successfully done in the past. Why he decided to avoid voting instead is beyond me.”

“I want to emphasize that public input was taken on all six of the remaining items associated with the mixed use parking ramp project.  It is unfortunate that Councilor Starr was absent for this additional public input.”

“It is a dangerous precedent to not make the hard vote.  It is my hope Councilor Starr will elect to exercise a greater degree of professionalism in the future.”

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