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Some Sioux Falls City Council Members Struggle with Citizen Input

Some Members of the Sioux Falls City Council appear to want rules and regulations for everything.

The latest problem requiring a “rules” solution is citizen input at Council meetings. The Chair of the Council, Michelle Erpenbach, and some other members want to continue individual time limits and ADD overall time restrictions for “pro and con” discussions. Currently, the Mayor, or whoever has the gavel, can determine how long an issue will be discussed and/or cussed.  This unwritten procedure has been in use for decades, and has served the community well.

However, for reasons not quite clear to the voters, rules are being discussed to limit the time issues can be discussed at what are supposed to be public meetings. Most issues at Council meetings are not controversial and take little time.

Once in a while an issue will come up which has citizens interested, concerned, or ticked off and they want to be heard. Annexations, zonings, borrowing money, and the latest, snowgates, come to mind.

Understand the need to be efficient in doing the public’s business. However, when a person takes the time to show up, whether there is one person or fifty, all of them should be allowed to present their views and ask questions. The only exception would be many people saying the same thing, over and over.

There is an “art” to managing citizen input. It needs to be handled in a friendly, open fashion. It can take time. Sometimes plenty of it.

However, NO citizen should ever leave a city council meeting with the feeling that they and their ideas were not “heard.”


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