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Sioux Falls city council tidbits

Holy 2nd readings BAT MAN!

Items 49-72 are all second readings mostly doing with rate increases. Looks like city hall is trying to pack two pounds of crap into a one pound bag before the new council rolls in. To be honest with you, I have never seen this many 2nd readings in one meeting.

Then fast forward to item #78, appointments to boards. In some strange bizarro world, 3 names popped up that I wouldn’t expect.

appointmen

So a congrats to local freelance journalist and preservationist Lura Roti for her appointment. Lura and her husband Shon own a darling little home in central Sioux Falls that is about historic as it gets (from the roof to the foundation). Lura will make a good fit on the preservation board.

Katherine is the daughter of Dell Rapids Mayor and State Legislator, Scott Fiegen. I believe Katherine works in the architectural drafting industry. She is also my neighbor.

And, it looks like John Paulson got the consolation prize of planning commission after losing to Theresa Stehly recently in the city council election. That didn’t take long . . . wink . . . wink.

The Always Affable and Tax Happy Mayor Huether

The little talked about Board of Tax Appeals got interesting last time around, especially when Mike Huether showed up;

I stated my objection to the increase and the mayor put his hand up for me to be quiet. He visited with Kenny Anderson, then asked me what I paid for my condo. I told them, and he visited with Anderson again. He asked me if my condo was the same as the one across the hall. I said, “Yes.” He informed me she paid $202,000. I objected, as her purchase included furniture. I also informed them they couldn’t know the actual cost of the unit because of that. (I later asked her, and she paid $10,000 less).

I started another statement of facts and the mayor raised his hand to quiet me again. He spoke to Anderson, and asked for a vote of the commissioners. All said, “Aye.” I said, “Excuse me, but I would like to know what you decided?” The mayor stated they decreased my assessment $4,000, which will determine my 2017 taxes. I informed the mayor I had owned property in South Dakota for 50 years, and never has the assessed value, the prepaid taxes and realtor fee exceeded the selling price of the property. As usual, the Mayor rudely raised his hand to quiet me.

I would not expect to be treated like that by an elected official. He is obviously more interested in acting important than caring about a voter or her problem.

He cares. About taxing the living crap out of you. Gotta pay for those play things.

 

Who will replace Darrin Smith? Or will there be a replacement?

While studying the city management salary increases over the past five years, we came across some interesting title changes. People were hop-scotching back and forth between the public works department and engineering. Not sure if this had to do with pay adjustments or what. It kind of looked like an accounting game.

Either way, there seems to be a discussion going on similar in the community development office. Will Darrin Smith have to be replaced or will restructuring of the department eliminate a Czar of community development?

With the new council rolling in, and the change of rules when appointing department heads (council must also approve the mayoral appointment of the director, no matter the size of the department). Could be interesting to see what kind of extra duties some of the other directors may have to take on to avoid a mayoral appointment.

Of course this wouldn’t be the first time the mayor would be playing hard and fast with the rules.

Stormland TV really needs to get over the late school start date

It was decided in a democratically held election that a majority of voter taxpayers prefer a later start date. Time to move on and do stories about how (AP) students can adjust (the only ones affected by the change).

Here comes the tired old excuses;

Due to a later start to the school year, Sioux Falls students lost three weeks of preparation for their Advanced Placement exams.

I’m still curious how they lost 3 weeks? Sure in actual class time, but with all the time students get off between the beginning of the school year and now, there is plenty of time to read and study on their own time to make it up. Three weeks is a drop in the hat. Last I checked no one forces these students to take AP courses. Why should a small percentage of HS students be determining the school start date for the large majority who don’t take the courses? Of course, the same people who are whining about this (the teachers) got a massive raise (working 9 months out of the year) from increasing the price of food on the same students who’s parents can’t afford it to begin with.

Want to be smart and go to the college of your choice? Study harder.

Mayor Huether; The best way to combat crime in our community is to close your garage door and avoid the crazies.

In the latest episode of Greg Belfrage’s Mayoral blab fest, once again, Mike is in complete denial of the rising violent crime rate in our city and blows it off as a result of fast growth, meth and alcohol use and mental illness. Huh? We will get to that in a moment.

But before all the talk about locking up your car and crime, the mayor told Smello radio listeners that we have ALWAYS paid for infrastructure upgrades to sewer and water from the enterprise funds.

Now I think he is just lying for the fun of it.

He also thanked councilors Anderson and Karsky for getting the EC built and Snowgates tested, then mumbled something about struggling with Jamison and Staggers.

But back to crime. While it should be NO surprise the chief denier is in denial over our soaring crime rates, his comment about blaming the mentally ill for this rise in crime is neither productive OR truthful.

He gets on the other Smello media source and says;

many Sioux Falls crimes stem from drug and alcohol abuse, as well as mental illness.

The city is going to combat each of these issues? I know it’s illegal to be drunk or high walking down the street, but now it’s going to attract attention from city officials if you have a mental health issue and dare to go out in public?

I guess the county jail had better stock up on cots and plan on at least two people per cell when there’s a concert at the event center, the city is going to start rounding up not only the homeless, but alcoholics, drug addicts, and people with mental health issues too.

So while the state has formed a task force to ensure people with mental illness get better treatment than they do now, and hopefully spend less time in South Dakota’s criminal justice system, once again the Sioux Falls Mayor knows better and instead has preemptively decided that people with mental health issues are criminals and a matter of public concern. Hello ACLU?

No wonder the city can’t keep a human rights coordinator.

 

Is Augustana planning to ask for a street closure?

From looking at these plans for a new student activity center (in the video) along 33rd street, it appears that Augustana wants to connect their new facility to the Elmen center. Probably no big secret to those in the know, but this would require a street vacation between 33rd and 37th of Grange Avenue. Also probably not that big of deal since that street is pretty much just used as a shortcut across Augie’s expansive campus.

But here is where we run into some ‘what if’s’.

Hopefully this city council and the new one will learn a lesson from the recent street vacation at Billion. Dave Billion Sr. walked up in front of the council and asked ‘to be treated like everyone else’ then the city gifted him over a million dollars in property (the street).

This time around, the council needs to do their due diligence and consider the value of the street (and utility easements) and actually charge Augustana (a private university) a price for the street property. Even if it is 50 cents on the dollar of what it is worth, we need to send a message that the taxpayers of Sioux Falls are not just going to give away their assets anymore because the Mayor and Rob Oliver are besties. Let’s truly treat the Augies and Billions of the world ‘like everyone else’, nothing in this world is free. The street is yours. Check please.

UPDATE 2: WTF announcement of the day, Darrin Smith to be new President of Pavilion

darrin-juggler1

When I first got the text about 45 minutes ago, I busted up laughing. You know how the saying goes, and appointing Darrin as the next president of the Pavilion proves it, it’s WHO you know in this town, not WHAT you know.

In a press conference that just concluded at the Pavilion, the mayor introduced Darrin to the crowd. In some kind of strange irony, the podium was just below a phrase on the wall there for the Argus photography exhibit about freedom of the press, I had to chuckle even more.

It should be no surprise, Darrin has been an opportunist since he jumped on the scene of the city council several years ago, jumping from job to job when the going got rough, and getting out before the ship sank completely, at least his little dingy of a ship.

When he lost his mayoral bid, he quickly resigned from the city council never finishing his second term. When he saw an opportunity to work for Huether, he concocted a junket story about Kermit and hand fed it to Stormland news. Huether rewarded him with a job he knew nothing about, parking systems and community development. In one of his first meetings with the new staff he said to them, “Where do you get a cup of coffee downtown anyway, or eat?” I think they thought it was a joke. He was serious.

Once again, coming off the enormous failure of the Banks project, Smith is running for the hills again, with another promotion, to another job he doesn’t understand or is qualified for (of course, I don’t think any President of the Pavilion was qualified). I’m sure the tension between him and Mike is at an all time high. How could two salesmen fail so huge working together, they must have asked each other?

It will be fun (dreadful) to watch though. The Pavilion has been in meltdown ever since Gary Wood left. The only thing they have been successful at is siphoning money from the CIP to fix the awful reconstruction job that was done only 16 years ago and playing ‘tiddle-dee-winks’ with each other in down time. And it is costing us millions. Good thing we have increased water rates to pay for pipes, because the 2nd penny is all tied up in remodel projects at the Pavilion.

It will also be fun to watch the interaction between the Operations Manager, Jon Loos and Darrin. They will either be two peas in a pod, or come to blows, real quick. There is also probably a lot of butt hurt in current management in the building that wanted that job to, and how it must burn the position was handed over to a parking lot specialist who just happens to be the Mayor’s tennis partner. Like most things Darrin has done throughout his career, he will keep his head where he has had the most success, a place where the sun rarely shines.

I give him about 16-18 months.

Good Luck!

UPDATE: There is another reason why this move is interesting. It is no secret that Darrin’s name has been mentioned as a candidate for mayor in 2018. Kind of hard to run for the position as a city employee. This will give him an opportunity to distant himself from his current job when or if he decides to run.

UPDATE 2: It is also ironic that the Board of Trustees who picked Smith are appointed by the mayor (two members). Guess what else? Darrin was the city’s contact with the Pavilion.

A RECORD AT The Huether Tennis Shed!

huether-tennis-recordSeven cars in the parking lot at the same time!!! And there wasn’t even a hockey tournament going on!

Andi still doesn’t care

andi-bender

As I reported in November of 2015 (above picture) planning commission chair Andi Anderson wore her employer’s shirt while chairing a planning meeting. She took it a step farther (below picture) wearing some ‘Bender’ gear while hosting the Planning Preview show on CityLink.

bender-the-robot

Yes, I understand this is a volunteer position, but as I have said before, members should not show bias to a certain developer, etc.

These people wouldn’t know conflict of interest if it hit them over the head like a frying pan.