Two Facebook Pages Tussle over Accountability in Brown County Government

On September 11, Aberdeen businessman Matt Dielke started “Promoting Honesty and Transparency in County Government,” a Facebook page to document his efforts to get some accountability for what he perceives as misuses of power in Brown County government. The PHTCG page declares its mission “To hold our elected officials to the standards of ethics, honesty, transparency and accountability in Brown County.”

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On October 6, a second Facebook page dedicated to Brown County government watchdoggery launched, “Citizens for an Informed Brown County.” Its mission—”Informing and updating citizens on issues that might not otherwise be known.”

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 9.51.59

Dielke’s PHTCG is written in the first person, with links to videos on his YouTube page, so that page’s authorship is no mystery. But the posts on CIBC hide behind an editorial “we” and keep their origins secret. They do give indication of trying to run interference for controversial and highly paid county IT director Paul Sivertsen and the officials who defend him:

What was said about the “double billing”. (For over 1 year):

AAN 10-27-14: Duane Sutton, chairman of the Brown County Commission, has called the double billing an honest mistake. An investigation by the sheriff’s office resulted in the same conclusion.

AAN 9-13-15: The Brown County Sheriff’s Office and state’s attorney’s office investigated the double-billing and found no reason to press charges. “The investigation saw nothing — no criminal or ill intent,” said Brown County Sheriff Mark Milbrandt

Matt Deilke of Dakota Ink and Toner is now calling into question the reputation of the States Attorney and former judge Larry Lovrien as well as the sheriff, Mark Milbrandt. Would these 2 outstanding community servants put their reputations on the line for Paul Sivertsen (or anyone) and fabricate an investigation? And over $907.96? Rather unlikely. This incident took place in 2011. Why is it still being debated 4 years later? [CIBC, Facebook post, 2015.10.15]

…and attacking county auditor Maxine Fischer and county treasurer Sheila Enderson, whom Paul Sivertsen acknowledges were left out of the loop in setting up the online ticketing system that he established for the Brown County Fair on his private business server.

The only evidence I’ve been able to find of Citizens for an Informed Brown County’s provenance is one screen cap from an eager reader who received this invitation to like CIBC:

Invitation to Like CIBC, screen cap, submitted to Dakota Free Press 2015.11.03
Invitation to Like CIBC, screen cap, submitted to Dakota Free Press 2015.11.03

“Eric Sivertsen invited you to like his new page Citizens for an Informed Brown County.”

Eric Sivertsen is a sharp Sioux Falls entrepreneur. He just made Prairie Business‘s 40 Under 40 list of youthful prairie movers and shakers. He’s also Paul Sivertsen’s son.

I have no problem with clashing viewpoints. As a matter of fact, I welcome them. In the blogosphere and Facebookosphere, two sources with conflicting biases may combine to produce a fuller picture of reality.

But as I just got done telling Paul Sivertsen’s friend and Brown County Commission Chairman Duane Sutton, we should always check our sources. If one of the participants in Facebook infowar over Brown County government happens to be the son of one of the primary subjects of that infowar, we ought to know that. That identity of a source does not by itself negate the information that source offers, but it does help us understand why that source chooses certain pieces of information and suggests certain conclusions therefrom.

By the way, Matt Dielke, are you related to anyone in Brown County government?