City Archive of Videos on YouTube is the Tip of the Iceberg

As you may have probably noticed on South DaCola’s YouTube channel, Cameraman Bruce has been working hard on loading the city’s public videos;

A Sioux Falls activist is taking it upon himself to download and archive thousands of city government videos in an effort to make sure they’re always available to the public.

We have also been working on another special project that will change the way you can research and monitor local government, without my editorial rants, details coming soon. It’s gonna be YUGGGE!

Cynthia Mickelson spends 5.5x more than closest opponent

The final 2017 Sioux Falls School Board Race Final Finance Reports came in on July 18. With those reports in we can present the ‘REAL’ numbers of what was spent in the race. I am comparing the top two vote getters, Dobberpuhl and Mickelson.

 

Mickelson, 2,278 Votes. She spent $6.12 per vote

(Spent $13,944. She raised $21,504)

 

Dobberpuhl, 1,811 Votes. He spent $1.39 per vote

(Spent $2,524. He raised a little under $2,000)

 

I originally posted that Mickelson spent 7-10x more than Dobberpuhl, which was NOT TRUE and wanted to correct this with the final numbers.

Mickelson’s Final Report (PDF DOC: Mickelson-YearEnd Report) and First Report (PDF DOC: cyn-a11)

Dobberpuhl’s Final Report (PDF DOC: Dobberpuhl-Final)

I spoke to the School Board about the last school board election and not only raised concerns about how the election was handled (Lack of precincts, etc.) I suggested that there should be a spending cap of $5,000 for candidates. I think it is very hard for regular candidates to compete when their opponents outspend them in such a drastic way.

Mayor’s ‘Shut Up Listen’ July 24, 2017

REMSA Board severely limits public input at their meetings (July 26, 2017)

Do you want to see what a Huether Public Input is going to be if given a chance? Watch the Sioux Falls REMSA (Regional Emergency Management Service Authority) board from July 26, 2017 to find out. What good is government if it is done behind closed doors with no chance for the people to have a voice for their concerns?

The June 2017 REMSA board meeting got out of control with the people who showed up to talk about the crappy wambulance service provider. You know the one, the service who has Metro Communication (911 EMS) dispatch Phantom ambulances to priority calls so they can finish their Subway sandwiches during a priority call heart attack incident.

Look at these new rules:
1. You will be able to speak only once in three months
2. You will be able to speak for only three minutes
3. Public Input will be at the end of the meeting
4. Public Input will be limited to the time available
5. If Public Input is too long, they will stop it
6. If there is an executive session scheduled, there might not be a Public Input period at all

What is going on? Why should a board of citizens who are afraid of our cameras be allowed to shut down the public’s ability to have a voice. These people, by their own admissions, are not experts in the way the system works. Why shouldn’t we be allowed to show up, ask for help and or give advice to fix the system?

There is more to catch in this video, how about 97% and better response times for ambulances. They don’t tell us how they do it in the 711 page contract but we are figuring it out. We’ll keep letting all know as we can release more information.

One thing about attending these “open” meetings with the chief number one attorney for the city. It gets stuffy when he allows the doors to closed so the public doesn’t come in. There is a little inconvenient South Dakota law requiring the door to be opened during government meetings to allow the public to freely enter and leave the room. The only time the door can be closed is during the Executive sessions for 1) contract negotiations, 2) personnel issues and pending litigation. There was a violation of the statute, care for a photo?

Huether’s Subsidy Rant; A Stinking, Steaming Pile of Hypocrisy

Yesterday the Mayor was on the B-N-B show crying about kids swimming for free and riding the city bus. Today on the show, Bad Neighbor Belfrage decided to take calls on it.

I’ve known for a long time the mayor is a gigantic hypocrite, especially when it comes to his faux Christian beliefs and fake crying and emotions.

Now with one foot out the door, he wants to cut subsidies, mostly to little things most of us don’t even think about, but apparently he loses sleep over.

Where were these cuts seven years ago when you rolled into office? You had a prime opportunity to stop the government waste, reduce or even eliminate the debt Munson created, rebuild the infrastructure from the ground up (this means the back streets in some of the middle income areas) and get ahead of the drug and crime wave. You did not. You pulled out the city’s credit card statement, saw you had a credit line from here to Jupiter and started spending like a stripper addicted to meth.

While the mayor seems concerned about programs that cost a couple grand a piece he doesn’t seem very concerned about all the corporate welfare in the city that hasn’t done the one thing we were promised it would; bring in living wage, high quality jobs. In fact the millions we have thrown at ‘job creation’ in Sioux Falls has been a total failure, except for Sanford bringing in a handful of east coast doctors that build pastel yellow mansions in McKennan Park (which are costing taxpayers in the courtroom to with a possible lawsuit against the city’s building services department).

I agree with him, it is not government’s job to teach kids how to sing in our parks, but his concern wreaks of hypocrisy when you think about;

$500K to a tennis center that provides little to no public access, not even to the parking lot

Millions to the Development Foundation for Want Ad Welfare to corporations

Tens of Millions to the Development Foundation for infrastructure to Flopdation Park for about 12 fork lift driver positions

A proposed $18 million dollar parking ramp to a private developer connected to a construction company whose horrible safety record caused the death of a worker.

A $25 million dollar administration building (to fix a $100K lease problem-that wasn’t a problem) that a majority of the council opposed and 6,500 petition signing citizens.

I could continue on about the probably over $100 million the mayor has WASTED subsidizing corporations and developers over the past seven years, but don’t we have more important things to worry about, like those darn poor kids cheating the system by getting to swim for free.

Give me a break!

We pay the City’s Health director 6-figures to transcribe radio talk show interviews with County Commissioners?

Trust me, the following email back-and-forth between Sioux Falls City Health Director Jill Franken and Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth is intriguing enough, but what really stuck in my craw is that this seems like a very petty use of Franken’s time. And our mayor worries about subsidies to poor kids for swimming?!

To clarify, the Black NON-BOLD Lettering is the initial email sent to Jeff Barth and the BLACK/ITALIC Lettering is Barth’s response to Franken, dispersed in her original email;

Director Franken,

Sorry to make you go through all that work. I actually don’t think our views are that far apart although that may not be your impression. It may be that we just have different perspectives on the same issue.

Paramedics Plus and Metro communications are doing their work. I appreciate the competence and professionalism that they display every day. In no way do I want to disparage their efforts.

The people of Sioux Falls have demonstrated over and over a willingness to spend the money needed to improve our community. Hundreds of millions have been spent on our first class Events Center, swimming pool and now on our Administration building. People are willing to spend the money to make us a better city. I suspect our neighbors would pay more for this vital service.

I would be happy to meet you on the Belfrage show to debate these points. There is a good chance we will not agree on things!

Jeff Barth

From: Franken, Jill

Commissioner Barth,

Over the past several months you have made statements to the media expressing concerns about our EMS system, the REMSA board, the performance of Paramedics Plus, as well as the Health Department’s contract oversight.  Most recently, on July 7th, you were on the Greg Belfrage show and made a number of statements regarding our EMS system.  As I listened to you I became so concerned about the inaccuracies of your statements and the misperceptions you conveyed that I documented them and provided the accurate information regarding each, which I have shared with Mr. Belfrage.

I feel compelled to share this with you as well.  Along with reading this, I would highly encourage you to contact me at your earliest convenience and I will assist in setting up a meeting with the EMS leadership team.  At this meeting we can thoroughly discuss this high-performing system by sharing with you accurate, data-driven information about the performance of these agencies that comprise our EMS system and answer all your questions.

I urge you to reply to me with dates that work for you in the near future.  Thank you.

Barth: We are not spending tax money on ambulances, we are spending tax money on REMSA. 

Accurate: REMSA is a volunteer citizen board appointed by the Mayor and City Council. The REMSA board has no budget, and they receive no money from the EMS system, the

City, or through other tax dollars. A budget to regulate/oversee the EMS system is part of the Sioux Falls Health Department’s budget.

The City has spent millions paying Julie Charbonneau, Dr. Luther and others in support of REMSA. Are those funds not tax dollars?  

Barth: We’ve given a monopoly in our city to Paramedics Plus-god bless them- it’s a good deal for them so they extract the money from us and send it back to headquarters.

Accurate: This is a highly regulated exclusive surface ambulance service franchise. The city does NOT subsidize Paramedics Plus. Paramedics Plus generates revenues through patient fees, and those fees are used to pay the Sioux Falls operations expenses, to ensure future wage increases, hire additional staff, and make sure capital equipment needs are met for the Sioux Falls operations. A responsible profit margin should be maintained by Paramedics Plus, just like any other non-governmental community program or service.

We could have a long discussion about the difference between a “Monopoly” and an “Exclusive Franchise” but…

Paramedics Plus is making a profit. They don’t work this hard to break even or lose money. Those profits go elsewhere. 

Please let me know if someone locally is getting those profits.

Barth: Unclear how good our ambulance service is- concern about the delay in dispatching people.

Accurate: Paramedics Plus applied for CAAS accreditation within the first year of performance and received a perfect score.  This is a national accreditation, and it is very rare to achieve a perfect score.  As for “how good” their response times are, here is some real data showing their response times far exceed their contract requirements. It should be very clear, based on fact, that our ambulance service is meeting the needs of our community.

Also, dispatch is performed by Metro 911 based on specific procedures and guidelines, and the time of dispatch is based on those guidelines. There is no delay in dispatch. When calls are received, services are dispatched and the response clock starts.

When no ambulance is available, what ambulance is sent? When you say “services are sent” do you mean ambulance or fire or police?

Perhaps we could send a copy of your chart. 

Ambulance , fire and police are the three legs of Public Safety involving actual people not printouts.

Barth: They keep fudging with the numbers and the way they calculate things, used to call it zero status and now its phantom ambulance dispatch, some deal where they delay dispatch for 10 minutes I assume that’s to allow the paramedics to get the call.

Accurate: Ambulance contract compliance quality assurance was developed based on contract requirements and in consultation with Rich Oksol, the City Council’s internal auditor at that time. A recent internal audit validated the accuracy of contract response time compliance monitoring.

In an effort to consider what Barth is talking about, there was an operational policy and procedure change to Priority 3, non-emergency transport, calls to 911. Before the pilot project P-3 calls received both ambulance and Sioux Falls Fire Rescue response.  As a result of the pilot, P-3 calls still require an ambulance response time of 15:59 minutes 90% of the time per contract.  However, based on the changes from the pilot, a revised protocol now requires that if an ambulance isn’t available for dispatch within 10 minutes for these non-emergency calls, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue is dispatched as well. In most situations, Paramedics Plus has a unit freed up to respond in less than this 10-minute window, and they meet the 15:59 response time target. If they can’t, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue is dispatched to provide initial care and updates to Metro. This procedure change was an attempt to balance the need to keep critical Sioux Falls Fire Rescue resources available for emergencies in their area with the aim of having a responder on scene in about 15 minutes for non-emergency calls.

This new procedure has greatly reduced the unnecessary response by Sioux Falls Fire Rescue to P-3 calls and balances customer service with the need to keep fire resources available for higher priority EMS calls, extrications, or structure fires.

Blah, blah, blah. Bureaucratic obfuscation.

Barth: Why should Humboldt, SD get better ambulance service than SF- I don’t know

Response: There is no comparable evidence to support this claim.

People in Humboldt might have to wait but they do not wait for a “phantom” ambulance.

Barth: When they first changed away from zero status and they had some plan going on we asked them to explain it to us and they said it was too complicated- it’s too complicated because they’re blowing smoke

Accurate: Within the first year of the new ambulance agreement, the EMS system identified there was confusion regarding when and how to call for a mutual aid ambulance.  To streamline the process to activate mutual aid in life-threatening situations, the EMS system utilized improved procedures, technology, and resource polling, making the process more defined.

The EMS Leadership Team tested these news processes through a performance improvement pilot project regarding resource allocation. The team identified three system improvement goals for this pilot: 1) Keep Sioux Falls Fire Rescue resources available for emergencies, 2) Refine best practices for appropriate resource allocation, 3) Improve the mutual aid process.

The results of this performance improvement pilot project were reported to the City Council and the REMSA board.  Information is publicly available.  Anyone wishing to know more about this pilot has been encouraged to call anyone on the EMS leadership team.  I have not received any inquiries from Commissioner Barth.

Greg- Zero status…basically it means they don’t have an ambulance at that time.

Barth: I’ve heard they’ve changed it to something else, the phantom ambulance…if they don’t have one they dispatch the phantom 980 and then the 981.  Now I understand that they dispatch the fire department preposition an ambulance nearby so when the call does go for an ambulance they will be there within a minute.

Response: This claim simply has no basis in fact.

Good to hear. 

That is not what I have heard from members of the fire department.

Greg- Is this a case there just aren’t enough ambulances

Barth: Partially true but there are more ambulances outside of town that could come in and get somebody.  If it is a question of paying people…it ought to be worked out.

Accurate: System design improvements were implemented this past year with an important goal being to minimize any dependence on mutual aid from outlying communities who need and depend on those scarce EMS resources. Paramedics Plus is exceeding their response time requirements, and the City does not require a specific number of ambulances in circulation. We do require Paramedics Plus to have one or more mutual aid agreements by contract. Paramedics Plus has two mutual aid agreements in place.

We could have more ambulances and we could have a quicker response but the City has chosen not to do so.

Barth: Them (SFFR) being on the scene means we don’t need an immediate dispatch of an ambulance why don’t we use ambulances out of Omaha, so what if it takes 3 hours why should we worry because fire and police is already there…clearly that is ridiculous. Also clear that waiting 20 minutes is not better than waiting ten minutes and 10 minutes is ridiculous.

Accurate: A 10-minute response time is not ridiculous and is well within the required response time for P-2 and P-3 calls, which made up 13,355 of the ambulance calls from May 2016- April 2017.  P-1 calls, which are life-threatening emergencies, require an ambulance on scene 90% of the time in less than 8:59 and in May 2016-April 2017, Paramedics Plus did so 536 times out of 544 P-1 calls. Response times required in the contract are based on national industry best practice.

No comment on 20 minutes? 

If 20 minutes, or 60 minutes was within the “required response time” you would be OK with that? 

I’ll reiterate, ridiculous!

What about 5 minutes?

Jill Franken

Public Health Director

Sioux Falls Health Department

*This email was CC’d to many other individuals in government, public boards and individual citizens.

Mayor Huether weighs in on the Garth shows

Mike was on his favorite softball throwing show, B-N-B this morning. Besides weighing in on Garth (we will get to that shortly) he got some other things out of his craw.

Besides saying he will cut subsidies to non-profits (still waiting for him to return the $500K from a tennis center he named after himself) he talked about the districting of the Parks Board.

He said that the current board is not broken. I think most would agree, that is why Stehly’s proposed legislation wouldn’t eliminate any of the current members, this is about moving forward in a growing diverse community.

He said while he understood we need laws and regulations he sometimes feels like there are ‘too many’ and he thinks this change is an unneeded regulation. So I guess when it comes to smoking outdoors, long grass, trimming the city trees, etc. those are worthwhile regulations? Why? Because they keep the minions inline, but when we want to regulate the ruling class, there seems to be too many rules. Admit it Mike, you love the status quo when it protects you and your ruling class, but when it comes to the peasants, RULES, RULES, RULES! Heck, your biggest fan, Joe Kirby was on the Good Ship Lalley Pop show yesterday bragging about how well the home rule charter (he helped create) is working and said Mike was doing a fabulous job as our city’s King.

Mike also weighed in on Garth Brooks.

Some say that I need to get over the EC being passed and deal with it. Oh, I have, but I also feel we can DO BETTER when it comes to the way the building is run, and it would take very minor adjustments to make the building more profitable and make access to affordable tickets to Sioux Falls citizens and others in the region.

Ironically, the mayor points out some of these simple solutions in his interview this morning.

He said he was ‘impressed’ with how Brooks handles his ticket sales, especially with the controls he has in place to make sure his fans get tickets without being gouged.

I would agree, so why doesn’t the mayor’s office and the city council pass ordinances to put those controls in place for all ticket sales? Many other municipalities across the country have done just that. It’s not like the Mayor and Council are not aware of the problems. Citizens have been begging since the place opened to put some regulations in place to make tickets more available locally without being subjected to ticket brokers outrageous prices. Sit down with Ticketmaster and the Brooks camp and ask them how they do it, and duplicate some of those procedures in Sioux Falls. Want to add something positive to your legacy before leaving office? Here is your opportunity.

Huether also made the claim that probably over half of the people who attend events at the EC are from out of town. The problem with this claim is that there is no statistical way to prove this claim. As I mentioned above, with the interference of ticket brokers, we have NO idea who is purchasing tickets locally. A ticket broker in Kansas City, for example could buy 20 tickets and turn around and sell those tickets to people all over the region including in Sioux Falls. If we put more controls on purchases we would know who is purchasing the tickets and if they are attending. We could also be promoting our own shows which not only would give us more control of ticket sales it would give the taxpayers a bigger cut of the profits. It’s not some new concept in Sioux Falls. The Pavilion promotes a ton of it’s own events and controls their ticket sales. Rumor has it, that the city gave a short term loan last year to the Pavilion to promote a kid’s musical that did five shows. It’s doable, we would just do it on a larger scale at the EC.

He also talked about the economic impact of Garth’s seven shows (and counting) which I don’t deny, but you also have to take into account that the EC will be closed for 3 months over the summer (A quarter of the year). How many sold out shows could we have had over that 3 month period? Seven? Ten? We will never know. IMO, we will just be playing catch-up with the Garth shows for the 3 months we were closed. The lights and full time staff still have to be paid whether the facility is being used or not, those operational costs have to be absorbed somewhere.

I hope the mayor listens to the replay of his interview today and really thinks about some of the POSITIVE changes we could make to the EC to make it truly a great and profitable facility (for the city NOT just SMG).

Heuther encourages the Council to help him vet possible public board members

Stehly says, Bring it on!

The city put out this press release today;

Mayor Mike Huether has announced a vacancy to the Public Parking Advisory Board (PPAB).

The PPAB is composed of seven members that are appointed for a five-year term by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the City Council. Interested persons should have a strong commitment to public service and to downtown Sioux Falls

Recently the Mayor has asked the council to get more involved with the vetting process. Stehly responded to the press release today, sending this email to the media, the Mayor’s staff and city employees;

Good afternoon Julie (Wilson – Administrative Assistant to the Mayor).

I have a request. It would be helpful if you could include the names of the current board members when these vacancies come up. And  also if you could tell us the name/ names of the board member who is vacating the position.

I would also request that we see the names of all the applicants for the vacancy.

There has been community discussion lately about the City Council’s need to do more vetting of nominees before we vote them in. I would love to have more input into the selection process, similar to what was done for the Redistricting Commission. Knowing who is applying would be a first step in helping us to in make an informed decision for the citizens.

Again, I would be grateful for the names of the board members, the member not returning and the applicants for the position.

Thanks, Theresa Stehly

I have often thought the council should be more involved with these decisions. Sometimes they may have special knowledge of an applicant the mayor does not, whether that is positive or negative.

South DaCola Podcast III

We get down about Garth, Bosworth, Parks and audits.

Garth Brooks buys Events Center

It really came down to Mr. Brooks running the numbers, according to his management,

“Hey, make no mistake, we were going to make an a**load of money from doing our 27 shows in Sioux Falls. We even had to charter a private jet to haul all of the cash OUT OF SIOUX FALLS. We just figured it would be more economical for us to buy the Events Center.”

While most of the year Brooks shows will be booked at the EC, think Celine Dion, Vegas Show, they will do other shows, like monster trucks and rodeos, but they will also do country, country and country shows.

While Brooks won’t live in Sioux Falls permanently, he did purchase a very nice residence on the South Side.

“Garth got a Hell of a deal on a home by the Walmart on 85th and Minnesota. He loved how the Walmart sign illuminated his driveway at night.”

We asked what Brooks would do about the bent up siding on the EC. Management had a positive twist on that.

Besides getting a $1 million dollar discount on the purchase price due to the whacked siding job, it was actually a selling point.

“Garth liked how it looked like an old grain bin. Actually we will be adding fake rust streaks and a big auger. We are also going to change the landscaping to a field of corn around the EC.”

We wondered if the secret siding settlement was disclosed during the negotiations.

“Yeah, we saw it, but we won’t be releasing it to the public, they would crap their pants.”

We wondered if City Hall had any comments about the sale, and the mayor released this statement.

“This is a darn good deal for the good folks of Sioux Falls. Not only will we be able to pay off the bonds early on the Events Center, we will still have a great entertainment facility that was pretty much built for country shows anyway. And I will never have to answer questions about the siding anymore.”

We asked if there would be any major changes with Brooks management running the facility.

Besides the bars now will only serve Jack Daniels and Coors Light, all shows will be $75. Whether that is a Brooks show, a rodeo or a State ‘A’ tournament.

We asked if Garth himself had anything to say about the purchase. He did,

“Sorry Denny, there’s a new Sheriff in town.”

A bronze of Brooks is already being minted for the campus of the new Brooks Events Center.