Past the promised deadline of delivering the Home Rule Charter Committee recommendations and presentation, Mayor Allender has finally scheduled the much anticipated event for this coming Thursday, May 20 at 5:30 for a Special City Council meeting.
Unlike when it was originally presented by Mayor Allender who promised “regularly scheduled open houses to answer all of the public questions,” the City of Rapid City stated in their announcement yesterday that “no public comment will be taken.”
In addition to the bait-and-switch tactics employed by Mayor Allender on the public’s ability to comment on the change of their government, it’s also true of the purpose of the committee. During the December 16, 2019 City Council meeting, the agenda stated that “the committee would be tasked with providing a summary of finding and giving a recommendation concerning Home Rule during the 2020 calendar year.” This was reemphasized by Mayor Allender during the meeting, when he stated “this will be a citizen committee who will send the next six to nine months investigating the option of a Home Rule Charter.” (Video of Allender Statement)
And true to form, the Mayor also pulled a quick one on the deadline to present. The presentation comes three months after the original proposed deadline of up to “nine months,” as was stated by Mayor Allender in his letter to City Council dated November 27, 2019, during the December 16, 2019 agenda and verbally by the Mayor, as described above. That deadline was changed by the time the Mayor had his appointments for the Home Rule Charter Committee to a year, as described in the roster from the Mayor to the Legal & Finance Committee dated April 29, 2020 setting “all appointments … to expire one year from the date of appointment.”
This most recent move to silence the public during the presentation to change the Rapid City form of government comes with additional scrutiny from several local citizens who claim they have a legal right to speak on such recommendations.
In addition, People’s Rule spokesperson Jordan Mason is also criticizing the meeting, noting that the Home Rule Charter Committee has legally disbanded at this point, as the Council never extended their appointments past the one year mark, which expired May 4, 2021.
Mason attended the City Council meeting the day before the Home Rule Charter Committee was to dissolve, on May 3, 2021, outlining the timeline of the Home Rule Charter Committee and to remind the City Council that the one-year mark was the following day.
The very next day, on May 4, 2021, Mason contacted the Councilmembers to remind them that the one-year mark was that day, and that no recommendation had been delivered.
Mason explained that since the Home Rule Charter Committee official dissolved on May 4, 2021 this year, there are no members of any committee and only citizens left. A fact, Mason claims, shows clearly that the Mayor is silencing some citizens while allowing others to speak at the Special City Council meeting this Thursday.
“This is unquestionably a violation of citizens Constitutional right to free speech and is nothing short of out-and-outright oppression by Mayor Allender,” stated Mason.
People’s Rule is encouraging citizens to attend the Thursday night Special City Council meeting, and has spoken to local tea-party group South Dakota Citizens for Liberty, who meets weekly on Thursdays at 5:30 pm. Citizens for Liberty has subsequently cancelled their weekly meeting so members can attend the Special City Council session.
Numerous people are expected to be in attendance.