People’s Rule recently exposed that Mayor Allender hired his former campaign treasurer Helen Usera on a no-bid City contract as a “facilitator” for his Home Rule Charter Committee. After Mayor Allender publicly denied any conflict of interest in the hiring of Usera, People’s Rule shot back showing that that the committee had two facilitators, Helen Usera and Leah Braun, but that Braun nor her company Nsight Partners were ever offered a contract or compensation for performing the same services on the same committee. (See The Story of the Other Home Rule Consultant)
Now, People’s Rule claims the committee and City contractor Usera are over budget and over time.
People’s Rule recently obtained the original proposal by Usera to provide “task force facilitation” after an Open Records Request submitted by their spokesperson Jordan Mason, showing that Usera exceeded her proposed and quoted budget for these services by $6,575 – without Council approval. (See Documents & Resources – Usera Proposal, page 6)
But in addition, People’s Rule spokesperson Mason says they’ve also exceeded their promised timeline to deliver a recommendation to the Council, noting that on December 16, 2019 when Allender first obtained Council approval to form the committee, he stated that the committee would “spend the next six to nine months investigating the option of a Home Rule Charter,” and now, over nine months later, the committee has yet to produce a recommendation to the Council. (See City Council Meeting, Dec. 16, 2019, Time: 1:08:28 – 1:09:33)
However, under South Dakota Codified Law (SDCL) § 6-12-7, the Home Rule Charter Committee has 2 ½ months remaining to propose the charter to the Council and deliver it to the voters to be voted upon.
People’s Rule spokesperson Mason claims that Mayor Allender is “running the clock” on the charter, stating, “it’s clear the Mayor intends to push this to the eleventh hour, to effectively prohibit public input and vetting of this charter.” Mason believes that Mayor Allender is trying to force the Council to push this to an election quickly, by not allowing time for the Council or members of the public to properly vet the issue, in hopes to sneak it on the ballot and get it passed.
The deadline for an election to be taken on any proposed charter from this committee, according to statutory law (SDCL § 6-12-7), is May 4, 2021.
People’s Rule spokesperson Mason has said that their group is prepared to take legal action against the City if the Mayor and City go past the legal statutory deadline.