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Brown: City Atty. May Have Violated Ordinance

March 13, 2012, 12:09 PM by Brady Mallory

Brown: City Atty. May Have Violated Ordinance

There's another clash between a Sioux Falls City Council member and the City Attorney.  It's the latest in the fallout from an open meetings law violation.

At Monday's Information Meeting, City Attorney David Pfeifle said Council Member Vernon Brown opened himself up for a defamation suit and a possible ethics complaint.

This is in response to an interview Brown did with KELOLAND News when he said Pfeifle, Human Resources Director Bill O'Toole and Assistant City Attorney Gail Eiesland should be fired for giving bad legal advice, which led the Open Meetings Commission to reprimand the council.

Now, Brown is saying Pfeifle may have violated a city ordinance by announcing that.

According to the ordinance, in a section that addresses the process and confidentiality:

"All complaints shall remain confidential. No board member, nor any public servant who has access to any confidential information related to the functions or activities of the board shall divulge that information to any person who is not authorized to have it.  The person accused may choose to waive the confidentiality and make public the allegation or complaint and may request a public hearing on the matter."

Essentially, this means Brown would be the only one who could mention whether an ethics complaint was filed against him.

But Pfeifle is firing back, saying he did not reveal anything because he says there is no ethics complaint.  Pfeifle says he was just speaking about what could happen.

"The KELOLAND interview by, from one city councilor violated the city ordinance as indicated by Councilor Aguilar and is subjected that city councilor to a board of ethics complaint. But more importantly, those comments were made, not in an official meeting, but in his private home.  And therefore he is not cloaked with legislative immunity and now he has set himself up for a ripe action for defamation by Gail Eisland, Bill O'Toole and myself.  To the extent you make these things public, that are the pitfalls," Pfeifle said Monday night.

Resources Director Bill O'Toole and Assistant City Attorney Gail Eiesland

Tonight we'll have more feedback from both council member Brown and City attorney Pfeifle.

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