Mayor Allender’s Home Rule Deception: Part 2
Published July 31, 2021

“What the eyes see and the ears hear, the mind believes.” – Harry Houdini

In part one of this series, we exposed Mayor Allender’s magic trick for what it was – a deception.

We showed you in detail how Mayor Allender step-by-step deceived not only the City Council but also numerous people throughout Rapid City – into forcing his agenda to create a City Manager and change our form of government right before our eyes.

And once People’s Rule started to expose the lie, Allender began to deny.

First denying the existence of the Home Rule Charter, which was being prepared behind closed doors, after duping the City Council into believing they had simply authorized a committee to explore the viability of a Home Rule form of government.

Next we showed you how People’s Rule kept coming back with more and more evidence that there was in fact a Home Rule Charter being prepared, and that’s when Mayor Allender began to downplay and deny that it was intentional deceit on his part.

Finally, we showed you how People’s Rule spokesperson Jordan Mason almost prophetically predicted, nearly 4 months in advance of when the charter was made publicly available, the dangerous elements of Mayor Allender’s Home Rule Charter, including:

  • City Manager inclusion
  • Indefinite City Manager term
  • City Council representative reduction
  • Eliminating two-reading requirement for emergency ordinances

On top of that, Mason even predicted when the Home Rule Charter would be introduced.

This part of the series is to dispel the illusion of “magic” and expose the tricks that were played.

We’ll show you that Mason wasn’t making prophecies – it was just good, old-school investigative research that allowed us to predict what was going to happen.

“Anyone who believes in magic is a fool.” – Harry Houdini

Steve Allender has always liked the idea of a Home Rule form-of-government, and in fact, Allender even campaigned on the idea of Home Rule back in 2015 when he ran against Mayor Sam Kooiker, another proponent of the idea who promoted it back in 2013.

“My campaign thought there might perhaps be a vulnerability of how we govern and how we should look at Home Rule and even a city manager,” Allender said in the Rapid City Journal.

Interestingly, even the day after Allender’s election, he started subtly introducing the idea – a method of sociological normalization. The Rapid City Journal featured an article the day after the election announcing Allender’s victory comparing a Mayor to a City Manager, stating:

“Allender will serve a 2-year term as the city’s full-time strong mayor, which is like a city manager or administrator in other cities.

Allender was focused on his goal from the beginning. Even after introducing the Home Rule idea in his 2015 bid for Mayor, “he brought it up again ahead of the 2017 campaign and again in 2019,” as the Rapid City Journal reported.

The idea for Home Rule was even slipped into the 2018 City of Rapid City Annual Operating Budget with an entire section entitled “2018 Mayor’s Office and City Council Initiatives, Goals, and Objectives” that featured Allender’s stated goal of exploring “the concept of [a] Home Rule Charter.”

By August 29th of 2019, Mayor Allender started to roll-out his Home Rule vision in detail during an interview with local television news station KNBN, entitled, “Mayor Allender: ‘Home Rule’ for Rapid City?” Allender explained that the City should have “professionally train[ed] city managers who have experience, who have a record we can verify,” and explained how he’d put together a “committee” to investigate Home Rule.

They say that the devil lies in the details, and Mayor Allender’s deception was no different.

On November 12, 2019, Mayor Allender dropped a bombshell in a letter to the Common Council, exposing his intention to reduce Council representation, redefine the eligibility requirements for elected office, potentially expand City spending, “establish … how new taxes are approved,” and move to a City Manager, all under a Home Rule form of government.

Shockingly, not only did Allender openly admit he wanted to remove some of the Council members, but he admitted that he was trying to actively stack the Council in his favor!

Allender wrote that “the number one benefit of a home rule charter tends to be the ability appropriately resize a City Council … [and] one of the obvious and immediate benefits of a smaller City Council would be our recruiting efforts would be more appropriate for the typical number of citizens willing to run for public office.”

On top of that, Allender explained how he could use the proverbial City credit card under Home Rule with less oversight!

Allender wrote in the letter that Home Rule cities could place bonding issues directly on the ballot, instead of being referred by the voters – an issue that was hotly debated under the Civic Center expansion campaign.

That’s not where it stopped, Allender then unloaded a litany of other dangerous ideas!

Allender wrote that within the Home Rule charter they could redefine “how new taxes are approved; who is eligible for elected office and how many city council members are needed …; duties of the mayor or city manager; … and a variety of other topics.”

Finally, Allender hinted at the setup of how he’d control the committee from the get-go!

In Allender’s recommendation to form a Home Rule Charter Committee, he wrote that the committee “would be staffed by the Mayor’s Office and may utilize a professional facilitator,” and further wrote that “no current city council members need to be attached to the group as a liaison.”

In other words, Allender would get to put his people on the committee and choose who runs it.

Two weeks later, on November 26, 2019, Allender appeared on a Aberdeen radio show where he reiterated his intention to “resize [the] governing body,” pointing out that “some cities have [only] 5” city councilpersons, and to create a City Manager position.

The very next day on November 27, 2019, in another letter to the City Council, Allender further illuminated his idea of how to structure the committee while retaining control over it.

Here, Allender proposed that “the mayor would … make an initial selection … and forward the names to the City Council for approval,” and further wrote that this “committee w[ould] be a conduit for the education of current elected officials and citizens alike.”

In addition, Allender announced that this committee would “assemble a draft Home Rule Charter, based on [the] … advice of subject matter experts,” which he previously wrote he “would reserve the ability to appoint.”

In short, this committee would be his taxpayer funded campaign committee and slush fund for his Home Rule vision.

The proof of this setup was all in the timing.

You see, on December 16, 2019, Mayor Allender formally introduced the item to “form a Home Rule Charter Committee to examine the pros and cons of the Home Rule form of government,” and just as we explained in our previous article Sold as a Recommendation, Actually a Change of Government, this misleading description of the committee was no accident.

Within 48 hours of the Council voting to approve the committees formation, on December 18, 2019, Mayor Allender had already received nine of the 18 applications for the committee, or in other words half.

In fact, Michael Hickey’s application for the committee was received before City Hall even opened the next day, and followed by Pat Jones only a few hours later, who later ran for the Ward 1 City Council position with the encouragement of Mayor Allender and was elected.

Even more telling is the fact that out of a 18 member committee, 83% of the members (15 members) had applied within one and a half weeks of the Council voting to allow the Mayor to form the committee, of which the majority were connected to Mayor Allender in one way or another, as we outlined in our previous article Allender Lies about Home Rule Committee Vetting.

On top of the fact that the application process to serve on the committee was only kept open for approximately two weeks after the City authorized the Mayor to form a committee, closing the application process by the first part of January.

And all of this happened in record time, in spite of the Mayor’s own claim that “fewer people [are] interested in serving the government,” as he stated in his August 29, 2019 interview with KNBN.

It was obvious that this was pre-planned and executed the moment the Council approved it.

But even more illuminating to the setup was the references the applicants put down. Rick Kahler, a personal friend of the Mayor’s, listed Steve Allender as his primary reference; while Attorney Lynn Kendall, who is a self-admitted resident of Black Hawk, put Mayor Allender’s campaign manager Silvia Christensen as her main reference; and Linda Lea Viken put Mayor Allender’s campaign treasurer Helen Usera as hers.

That’s why it came as no surprise to discover that Helen Usera, Allender’s campaign treasurer who runs a professional consulting firm specializing in “facilitation,” was awarded a no-bid contract as the committee’s “facilitator.” As a matter of fact, the Mayor was quite clear in his November 12, 2019 letter to the Council, where he told them that he “may utilize a professional facilitator,” of his choosing.

That’s when People’s Rule knew we had caught the Mayor with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar – and could see this for what it was –

an illusion and a deception.

 

Please help us continue our fight!