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Brown Says He Was Elected To Voice Concerns

March 13, 2012, 4:59 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Brown Says He Was Elected To Voice Concerns
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

An open meetings reprimand last week has led to several days of debate over how the firing of Sioux Falls City Clerk Debra Owen was handled last September.

The South Dakota Open Meetings Commission said the council was too vague in its motion to fire Owen and broke the law.

City Council member Vernon Brown said the city attorney should be fired for the bad legal advice.

At Monday night's council meeting, City Attorney David Pfeifle fired back saying Brown opened himself up for a lawsuit, or possibly a Board of Ethics complaint. Tuesday, Brown said he has nothing against the city attorney.

"He's a personable man. I think he's a smart man. We just happen to disagree on this issue, and strongly disagree," Brown said.

Brown says he's still embarrassed that the city council violated open meetings laws when it fired Owen, and he still believes the council got bad legal advice and should have been more open.

"My goal has always been the same; be as open and transparent as I possibly can be in serving the citizens of Sioux Falls," Brown said.

Brown apologizes that the city council violated open meetings laws, but he isn't apologizing for some of the comments he made because he said he was simply voicing his opinion as a city council member.

"Sioux Falls citizens hired me to express my opinions about the operations of city government. Some days it's about streets; some days it's about a Wal-Mart going in.  Some days it's about legal advice," Brown said.

Even though he called for Pfeifle's firing for that legal advice, Brown says he's made his opinions known about the violation and he's ready to move forward.

"I don't have anything to hide. I don't feel like I've done anything wrong. I'm doing what the voters elected me to do," Brown said.

There was some confusion surrounding Monday night's council meeting when Pfeifle said Vernon Brown, “subjected himself to a Board of ethics complaint.”

Brown originally thought there was a complaint filed against him, but Pfeifle says there is no complaint and he will not file one.

Pfeifle says he was trying to say there could be a complaint filed against Brown for his comments.

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