Public Input Could Be Moving to the End of City Council Meetings

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Those wanting their voices heard at Sioux Falls City Council meetings may soon wait longer than usual. There have been a few instances recently of vulgar outbursts and profanity. Councilors are reconsidering not how public input is conducted but when.

“We’ve had recently everything from four letter words to f-bombs and everything else,” says Councilor Marshall Selberg.

According to Sioux Falls Councilor Marshall Selberg, the public input portion of meetings can sometimes get out of hand.

“It’s not supposed to be the case and it’s not always the case, but it has been enough that I think it’s an issue,” says Selberg.

He and councilor Rick Kiley plan to unveil a proposal to move public input from the beginning of the 7 p.m. meetings to the end.

Some may feel that this move will silence their voice, but he says not at all. He supports having public input, and just wants to change when it takes place.

“They should have an amount of time to speak absolutely, and we want them to have the same amount of time, but we just think it’s more appropriate to have it here,” says Selberg.

Public input is one of the first items at every meeting. Selberg says it can take up to nearly two hours at times creating a long wait for those who are at the meeting to be recognized or receive an award. He adds that children are sometimes present, and public outbursts take away from the “family friendly” environment.

Newly elected Mayor Paul Tenhaken says he would support the change for the sake of efficiency.

“If this makes the city meetings more productive, it allows us to get our business done in a more productive fashion I’d be all for it because that’s been my #1 priority and will be with the meetings going forward,” says Tenhaken.

Tenhaken and Selberg agree that public input is critical for democracy and moving the time does not hinder anyone from being heard.

You can voice your opinion on the matter at Carnegie Town Hall Tuesday night. The change wouldn’t be official until after a final vote next week.

Three councilors- Theresa Stehly, Janet Brekke and Pat Starr are opposed to moving public input to the end. Stehly says she wants to support the citizens’ right to speak at the beginning of the meeting, and this is in an effort to silence the public.

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