People’s Rule has recently uncovered documents that show the Home Rule Committee consultant, Helen Usera, was hired months before the City Council formally appointed and even formed the Home Rule Charter committee itself, raising questions about thousands of dollars she received months before the committee she was hired to “facilitate” was even formed.
In December of 2019, the City Council authorized Rapid City Mayor Allender to form his “Citizen Committee,” which he told several local news outlets was a “volunteer” group at the time. (“City seeks candidates for Home Rule Charter,” Rapid City Journal, Dec. 18, 2019.)
“The volunteer committee will study home rule for up to one year.” – Mayor Steve Allender
According to documents obtained by the People’s Rule Ballot Question Committee, since May 4, 2020 the City of Rapid City has spent $38,052 to “study home rule … and then make a recommendation to the mayor and city council” to place the charter on the ballot. To date, no recommendation has been made, nor has the charter, or even it’s draft versions, been made public.
However, documents show that on February 3, 2020, Mayor Allender on behalf of the City hired Helen Usera at a rate of $85 an hour for “task force meeting facilitation and research,” for the “volunteer” Home Rule Charter committee prior to its formation or even existence. The “volunteer” Home Rule Committee wasn’t even formed until 3 months later on May 4th, when the Council formally accepted the appointments to the committee.
In addition, according to the documents previously discovered by People’s Rule, consultant Usera received $5,950 in payments before the Home Rule Charter committee existed, which she was hired to “facilitat[e],” receiving payments on February 27th and April 1st. (See “City Spends $38,000 on Home Rule, No Results”)
This comes on the heels of People’s Rule discovery last week, showing consultant Usera had received $7,650 of payments after she had accepted a position in Abilene, Texas. (See “City Spends $38,000 on Home Rule, No Results”)
People’s Rule is questioning both sets payments, of the $5,950 and $7,650 for a cumulative total of $13,600, which People’s Rule says should be investigated for its questionable use of taxpayer funds.