Council finds Wakefield violated conduct code

By: 
Jamie Hult, Staff writer
The Brandon City Council Monday night found Tim Wakefield to be in violation of city council code for two separate statements he made in recent months on social media. Jill Meier/BV Journal
Brandon Valley Intermediate School art club members painted three rain barrels that will be given away in a drawing through the city’s Facebook page. Pictured are Audrey Clyde-Koscielski, Caroline Meier, Hannah Meier, Miley Moots, Jadyn Ramazani, Macy Sommervold and Sadee Webster. Art club members who also contributed were Kyli Cady, Olivia Carswell, Elizabeth Klein, Connor Murphy and Ashlynn Shotkoski. Jamie Hult/BV Journal

 

The Brandon City Council Monday night found Tim Wakefield to be in violation of city council code for two separate statements he made in recent months on social media.
The council passed a motion at the April 15 meeting finding Wakefield in violation of city ordinances regarding appropriate conduct for council members. The alderman was formally reprimanded for accusing the city of committing fraud in allowing Chamber CEO Kim Cerwick to receive South Dakota retirement benefits and for statements he made about Joe Weir’s character during the city’s hiring process for a new police chief. 
Alderwoman Jo Hausman made two motions on behalf of the council. The first regarded disclosing executive session information and a letter from the council to Wakefield. Wakefield recused himself from both motions, which passed unanimously.  
“The council considers these violations to be significant and determines that under Brandon ordinance 1-3-14, a public sanction and formal reprimand is appropriate,” Hausman said. “In issuing this public sanction and formal reprimand, the council notes that Paul Lundberg and city staff are not part of these proceedings and also notes that Mr. Wakefield was provided with advanced notice of the issues and opportunity to present any witnesses or other evidence and to be represented by an attorney.”
Wakefield won’t pay a penalty for either violation, but future offenses could lead to fines. The council also reviewed a revision of the current code of conduct that would include a fine of up to $500 for violations, and will hold a first reading of that ordinance at their next meeting. 
 
Backyard chickens
Earlier in the April 15 meeting, the Brandon City Council agreed to move forward with drafting an ordinance similar to the Sioux Falls law that allows residents to have up to six backyard chickens. 
During the public comment portion of the meeting, the council heard from local proponents of backyard chickens and three Sioux Falls residents who worked with the city to create the Sioux Falls ordinance. 
Stephanie Peterson, a rural Brandon resident who owns Fruit of the Coop, encouraged the council to consider allowing backyard chickens and offered her expertise as the council moves forward.
“It’s a thing that’s definitely sweeping the country. It’s important that people know where their food is coming from,” Peterson said. “I think it can be done in a very responsible manner.”
The council agreed to move forward with drafting a single ordinance that would allow up to six backyard hens, prohibiting roosters and requiring residents to secure a permit for more than six chickens or other types of fowl, such as ducks or geese. 
“Planning and Zoning was certainly in favor of this,” said alderman Chuck Parsons.
“The pros definitely outweigh the cons,” agreed alderman Brett Bastian. “To me it makes sense.”
A 25-foot setback would also be required in the housing of the chickens. The council will look at a first reading of the ordinance at their May 6 meeting. 
 
911 services
The council also visited with MED-Star CEO Jay Masur about statements he made in a recent Brandon Valley Journal article regarding Brandon 911 services.
In the article, Masur floated the idea of creating an “ambulance insurance” that residents would pay annually for MED-Star services.
Masur assured the council that he would not be asking the city for more money to fund MED-Star and that his statements were merely “brainstorming” and “thinking outside the box.”
“It was a discussion piece to see if we throw something out there what happens,” Masur said, adding that he’s looking for ways to help sustain the service, for which he’s received support from Brandon, Valley Springs, and Brandon and Split Rock townships.
Bastian questioned why Masur did not bring the topic to the city first. Masur’s ideas, which he explained to the council, include creating an ambulance district and imposing an annual tax for residents to use MED-Star services, which would cover all costs other than residents’ existing insurance costs. 
“Your budget’s not increasing,” Masur said. “My idea went a step further and said to collect a little more money, nobody gets a bill other than their insurance.”
Mayor Paul Lundberg said he hoped to work together to find a solution to 911 services that is embraced by all of Minnehaha County.  
Masur and city attorney Lisa Marso said they did not know if the legalities of Masur’s ideas were feasible in Brandon, though other South Dakota towns have considered creating ambulance districts.
The council also applauded several student-artists who recently painted three rain barrels that will be given away through entries into a drawing on the city’s Facebook page. Several members of Brandon Valley Intermediate School’s art club were recognized at the meeting for their work on the barrels.
The rain barrels will be on display during Brandon’s Loyalty Day Parade Sunday, May 5. The giveaway is being coordinated by Brandon’s water conservation committee.
The council will meet next at 6 p.m. Monday, May 6, in council chambers. 

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