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Mayor Mike Huether and Dana Palmer discuss recent petition gathering flap


Sioux Falls, S.D. (KELO AM) – Thursday evening, as the Sioux Falls Canaries played against Fargo Moorhead, there was also action outside the stadium.  Members of Save Our Neighborhood were asking Canaries fans to sign their petitions to force a vote on whether Walmart can build a store in their neighborhood.  Save Our Neighborhood members said police asked them to move to the stadium parking lot to gather their signatures at the request of Canaries management.

Today on the KELO AM Greg Belfrage Show, Mayor Huether and Dana Palmer, Spokesperson for Save Our Neighborhood discussed what happened at Canaries Stadium.  In their words:

Palmer:  I listened to the first few comments of what the mayor had to say and I wanted to respond and get his response to my questions.  First if all, we are offended that you call what we brought to the media’s attention ridiculous.  Nobody has made up these things; they’re true.  We have good sources that tell us that city employees were told not to sign this petition.  Time and again we hear you say to trust in the process, but when people try to squelch our rights, there is no reason to trust in the process.  Two city councilmen came out and said they have made up their minds with the conditional use permit for this Walmart; how are we supposed to trust in this process, please respond.

Huether:  I’ll be happy to Dana and I know you are passionate about this topic and your role with this journey that you are on is to remain passionate.  Right from the get-go, the city and the people of Sioux Falls understand this effort and what’s involved.  People committed in this process understand there is going to be some debate occasionally.  What’s really ridiculous is to try to infer that city government is out there trying to tell employees what to do or get involved in a negative way.

Palmer:  It isn’t ridiculous that we are bringing it to people’s attention, because it did happen.  What else is ridiculous is that you and your employees would tell other employees that they can’t sign the petition.  You still haven’t answered my question of how we are supposed to trust in the process when two of your counselors come out and say they have decided the conditional use permit. 

Huether:  Dana, they are not my counselors, they are the peoples counselors.  That’s one of the challenges people have to understand that when you are in this public service gig, you do your best to use your head, your gut feelings, your heart, and even your faith to help make decisions that you think are best for the people you serve.  The hardest thing about this gig, you aren’t going to please everyone, and at those times when you decide against someone else, this is the exact commentary you get.  Comments like, they weren’t open to the process or they didn’t listen, they weren’t transparent or they were against us from the beginning.  This indeed was not the case, and I am not going to defend this council all the time, and you have seen examples over the years.  I will defend this council that it is a very hard working group.  They engage the public better than any council before it.  They are out there listening, learning and debating occasionally, but they are not my council, they are your council.  I can’t tell you why someone voted the way they did, but it is up to him or her to make a decision on what they think is right based on the people they serve.

Mayor Huether was a guest on the Greg Belfrage Show August 27, 2013.  To hear the interview in its entirety, click on the following link: http://kelo.com/podcasts/greg-belfrage-show/742/dana-palmer-clashes-with-mayor-over-petitions/