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You would not think an elected body of people would need a formalized code of conduct, but Rapid City’s Council has one.

It was adopted in 2006 when a flurry of interpersonal conflicts among aldermen — publicly and behind the scenes — caused mistrust, uncertainty and dysfunction in accomplishing the people’s business.

Now, inexplicably, there are efforts under way by a few members of the council to rewrite or even abolish the code for unexplained reasons. 

Two years ago, by a vote of 6 to 3, the council censured current Mayor Sam Kooiker. 

Then a city council member, Kooiker’s approach to addressing questions about city operations “caused conflict with city staff and other elected officials,” according to a news story in the Rapid City Journal.

The article further explained: “A grievance filed by the city’s transit manager and allegations that Kooiker knowingly lied in a public meeting led to his public reprimand for violating the Rapid City Code of Conduct for Elected Officials.” 

The code contains only four principles — each of them nearly universally accepted — so it is not clear what provisions the advocates of change find too demanding. (Read the Code of Conduct on the city’s website, www.rcgov.org.)

 

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The Vision 2012 program has enabled our community to be able to enjoy many facilities that otherwise would not have been built. The half-penny sales tax has paid for the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, community gyms at Middle Schools, the Roosevelt Park recreation complex with an indoor swimming pool and an ice skating rink, the hockey arena at the Civic Center, the Journey Museum and many more.

Sadly, two projects that were approved for 2012 funding six years ago have not been built because neither has raised the matching money required by the City Council.

A 25-field soccer complex on the northeast corner of town, and a multi-faceted Pow Wow Grounds next to the Journey Museum were awarded a combined $4.5 million in 2005, but both projects require millions of dollars more to be raised privately. 

The projects have many supporters and each will enhance the cultural and recreational qualities of our community. But right now, the plans and the city are caught in a never-never land. The 2012 tax money is on hold while the groups offer nothing more than vague assurances that they will somehow raise the money someday. 

We are in danger of being tabbed as the city that dangles a carrot but then places nearly impossible obligations on worthwhile enhancements for our community.

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The South Dakota Legislature has moved on after spending precious time deliberating over whether or not to change the design of the state flag.

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A House committee rejected a request to form a committee to study the concept.

Why does the Legislature get caught up in proposals that have little significance in most South Dakotans lives? Perhaps it’s because more substantive matters, such as school funding, get overshadowed by inane deliberations about insignificant topics such as enacting a law that would ban texting while driving.

Can texting while driving be dangerous? Certainly, just like eating a cheeseburger or applying lipstick while driving.

It’s not a question of importance. It is a question of passing yet another law to try to cover for people’s own foolish personal decisions. 

 

Jim Shaw is a former Rapid City mayor. He can be reached at jimshawrc@hotmail.com.

 

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