Too much information?

Rapid City Council President Tom Johnson is complaining that a couple of council people had the nerve and audacity to ask for information on the expenditure of public funds. (What were they thinking?)

Damn them. Just damn them for trying to figure out why the travel budget was exhausted in the middle of the year. What's going to come next - citizens actually asking for documentation? If left unchecked, this could possibly lead to officeholders being held to standards of accountability..

I'm sure the rest of the council (or at least Tom Johnson) hopes that never happens in this article from the Rapid City Journal:

Rapid City Council president Tom Johnson argued with Aldermen Sam Kooiker and Michael Schumacher on Monday in response to claims made by Kooiker and Schumacher in a Rapid City Weekly News story last week that they were being denied information.

Johnson said their statements implied that something sneaky was going on and that the council had a hidden agenda.

"I try to conduct myself in an honest way, and it's not a pleasant experience to have somebody try to impugn your integrity. And that's exactly what happened here," he said.

Kooiker and Schumacher raised questions in July about a supplemental appropriation for the council's travel budget.

The city budgeted $20,000 for members' travel this year but reached the limit of those funds by mid-year, mainly on travel to a smart-growth conference and a spring National League of Cities conference. With another national conference in December that several council members want to attend, a majority of the council voted to supplement the travel budget by $28,000 to pay for that trip and any other travel expenses for the remainder of the year.

Kooiker and Schumacher wanted more details about travel expenses, even asking for an audit at one point that was rejected by the other council members. In the news story, the two aldermen said they were denied information about travel expenses and claimed that something was going on behind the scenes by council leadership and the mayor to prevent access.


Kooiker said the information requested wasn't provided until after he and Schumacher complained about it. He said that on July 5, he and Schumacher asked for an audit of all travel expenditures, but the rest of the council voted against the request.

After several attempts to get information over the next couple of weeks, Kooiker said Johnson sent an e-mail to city staff saying requests for travel information had become excessive and anything further would require a directive from the council.

The council has a policy that states that any requests for information that take staff longer than an hour to gather require a council directive.

"Facts are stubborn things, and they are not on your side, Alderman Johnson. We did not get the information until after we asked for the information," Kooiker said.


Kooiker said that throughout the past four years, he sometimes doesn't have the votes to get things to happen his way, so he has found that if he asks repeatedly, he will often get the information.

"And yeah, it irritates some people. But you know what? I'm not here for me, I'm here for the people I represent, and I think the people I represent have a right to know how the money's being spent. I won't apologize for that," he said.
Read it all here.


Anonymous said…
Please Lord, send us more politicians like Sam!!! I'm tickled to death he beat Hennies in the last election. Tom has a tendency to get along too well with whomever is in charge at the expense of the voters.

Not Sam, if he thinks there might be something funny going on, he'll check it out and do his level best to stop it. Doesn't matter to him who is doing the dirty deeds or which party they belong to.

Wish we could clone him for other offices across the state!
Anonymous said…
PP, you're on the wrong side of this deal. The two councilmen are nothing more than clowns seeking publicity. Do we really need more Napoli clones running around? I don't think so. Give it a rest.
Anonymous said…
Don't they realize that the bureaucracy is untouchable? Since when do policy-makers have a right to seek answers on behalf of the taxpayers who foot the bill.
Anonymous said…
Ten Hail Mary's for Sam!!! Being accountable is what this is all about.
Alan Hanks said…
Aldermen Sam Kooiker and Michael Schumacher are doing what all elected officials should be doing, being a watchdog of your tax dollars.

Before you start coming down on them about asking a lot of questions, ask yourself, if the elected officials are not watching the piggy bank, who will?

I served as City Council Pres. in Rapid City, and if any council member had a question about money or policy, they got the answer. This attitude about the need to get the meeting over quicker is a disservice to those who elected them.
Anonymous said…
Tom Johnson is doing a great job at uniting the community against him. I agree with Alan Hank's comments. Alan, you did a great job on the council. You're doing good in the legislature, but what a crying shame that Johnson now has your old spot on the council.

The bottom line is we need more good people running for office.
Anonymous said…
The pennington County budget is up 19% this year. The Rapid City budget is up 25% this year. When the city Council was DOUBLING their travel budget, 8 out of 10 council persons didnt even flinch. It may be neccessary to double the budget, but, it was certainly appropriate to question it. Kooiker and Schumacher were the only council persons to do so. I SAY WAY TO GO SAM AND MIKE.
Anonymous said…

Where's your outrage over the Governor's private slush funds?

Where's your outrage over the huge increases in the PUC budget since the Repubs took over?
Anonymous said…
Sam and Mike should be wearing a chainsaw around their necks in order to get answers to their questions. That should get their attention and results.
Anonymous said…
anon 7:51
what do you mean by the chainsaw comment?
Anonymous said…
All the religious references on this post have convinced me that these two buffons need to go. Hopefully the voters will wake up and realize how ignorant and phony they are.
Anonymous said…
"All the religious references on this post have convinced me that these two buffons need to go. Hopefully the voters will wake up and realize how ignorant and phony they are."

Wow! What a statement. Let me guess, anon 9:04 is a pro-abortion, tax and spend liberal from the godless wing of the Democrat party?

I don't know Schumacher, although I'm impressed by what I read about him, but I do know Kooiker and there is no one more genuine and intelligent than Sam. And there is certainly no one who cares more about the welfare of the taxpayers he represents!!

Thanks Sam.
Anonymous said…
Are these two idiots responsible for the longest city council meetings known to mankind? For those of you out of RC the RC council meetings usually last into the wee hours of the night because these two can't understand what is happening. You have to see it to believe it. Must be something in the water out here.
Anonymous said…
Anon 10:20

I bet you are Deb Hadcock or Tom Johnson
Anonymous said…
So God has chosen two more politicans to be the annointed ones. How special.
Anonymous said…
You should see the cartoon in the Rapid City weekly, it's a hoot.

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