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You May Not Believe This, But Theresa Stehly is Right [OPINION]

Theresa Stehly 2Loyal listeners of The Patrick Lalley Show may want to brace themselves for this: Theresa Stehly is right.

Just let that hang there for a moment.

Theresa, of course, is an at-large member of the Sioux Falls City Council. We all know her as the protégé of former councilor Kermit Staggers. She’s the current member of the council most likely to make proposals about things that many of us may seem like just causing trouble.

She’s the member of the council most likely to ask multiple questions about seemingly benign projects or issues.

She’s the councilor most likely to get under Mayor Mike Huether’s skin.

Which is maybe why, in many cases, I may not always agree with her, but I like her.

Theresa pays attention.

And she works hard.

Love her or hate her – and plenty that do – you can’t say she doesn’t work hard. I believe she learned that lesson from Kermit, who for many years bore that same torch, and that same level of agitation from some corners of the city.

Before you get too antsy, this isn’t homage to lean government or “not in my back yard” complaining.

Plainly put – Theresa can be a pain.

But I still like her.

This time I agree, the Board of Parks and Recreation needs to be changed to represent more geographic corners of the city. As she states, it’s not that the current members are necessarily doing anything wrong. And under the proposal she has forwarded – which she plans to present later this month — all the current members would serve out their ten-year terms.

But I think she has a point going forward. It’s too easy for members of the Park Board – one of the most prestigious of the city’s numerous advisory boards – to be clustered into a couple areas of the city.

Sioux Falls has gotten too big geographically for any one person to be able to understand the wants and needs of the entire footprint.

Theresa wants to have members appointed out of the council districts. That makes sense.

Mayor Huether and some councilors say it’s too hard to get people who want to serve on the boards and this would make it more difficult. That may be true in some instances, but the parks board continues to be popular.

It also suggests that the people who live in the further flung areas of town generally aren’t interested in serving.

I find that condescending and patriarchal.

But here is my real concern: City government already is not transparent enough. It’s already too full of patronage and back-slapping among too few people.

Parks and recreation is a big deal for our city. And it’s imperative the board puts some safeguards in place to insure all interests are represented in discussions.

It’s too easy for the boards to be insulated from the real world concerns of average people – particularly when you think they don’t care enough to serve.

The mayor also recently vetoed a plan to videotape the meetings and put that video on the city’s website.

That’s absurd.

Everything this city does – at every level possible – should be as open and transparent as possible.

Maybe if more people saw the board at work, more people would want to serve.

Maybe.

So Theresa Stehly is right.

Open up the doors.

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