Golf Contract becoming a real mess

The special NOON meeting of the parks board was held today (see below). It seems the contractor that won the bid, underbid the current contractor to win the bid, than intends to hire them back as the subcontractor. The problem is that the current contractor was unaware of such a deal and planned on turning in the towel if they lost the bid. The city also offered ‘salvage’ pricing for all of the equipment the current contractor owns, which isn’t sitting well either.

This is getting really messy, really quick. The city should just lease the property to a private golf company, and get out of the golfing business.

Guest on KSOO 1000 AM Today – 4:15

I will be on Patrick Lalley’s show talking the latest in city politics. I’m in the 2nd half of the show. you can hear the replay HERE.

Accomplishments?

Railroad still storing cars downtown even after closure of old switchyard

I thought one of the reasons we gave Warren Buffet $27 million was to build a new switchyard and storage outside of town, but that hasn’t stopped the RR from storing cars in downtown. I took these pictures of more than 30 cars (including petroleum) around 13th and Cliff and more cars going North and South over the bike trail bridge.

We have spent $27 Million of Federal taxpayers money to move train storage and switching out of downtown, but it hasn’t happened. The RR redevelopment was negotiated very poorly, just like the downtown parking ramp. The taxpayers got stiffed.

 

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda (Dec 12, 2017)

Informational Meeting

The Super Secret Golf Management contract will be revealed, BUT will we get to see the details of the contract? Probably not.

Last month on an Inside Town Hall, Sioux Falls city councilor Marshall Selberg had the idea to give an award to a Sioux Falls citizen for doing ‘positive’ things in our community.

He reveals his idea at the informational meeting, he is calling it SIOUXPERHERO. Please nominate South DaCola. LOL.

City Council Regular Meeting

While the agenda seems short, there is a lot going on.

Item #1, Consent Agenda,

More money being dropped on Entertainment facilities. Our bond counsel on the DT Parking ramp is also asking for another $5,000. Go figure. We are already being taken to the cleaners on the project, what’s another $5K? I’m sure we will never hear why.

Item #7, Naming Rights. SDSU will be funding an exhibit at the Kirby Science Center.

Item #9, An $8.8 million dollar bond for storm drainage. I find it interesting we are taking out a bond right after we took $25 million in cash from the water enterprise funds to re-fi the Lewis & Clark bonds. Not sure if storm drainage falls under the water department (probably not). I also find the bond’s timing interesting. It seems they wanted to wait until they passed the parking ramp bond before telling the public about this. It is a little troublesome to me that the city doesn’t have this money in reserves instead of borrowing it.

Item #10, It seems our wonderful public transit system has come up $100K short this year, so we have to bail them out. Sad.

Item #11, Council staff gets another raise. Sure glad we had to replace former City Clerk Debra Owen with 3 full-time staff at a cost of almost $270K a year. That’s prudent folks . . . not.

Item #12, Annexation Task Force Report.

Item #13, Legislative Priorities for 2018 legislative session. A few I take issue with;

• Repealing a sunset on 911 surcharges. As I tell people ‘sunsets’ on taxes are never a reality because government bodies always override them.

• The Sioux Falls City Council urges the state to leave in place maximum local control of tax increment financing (TIF) districts. This is really a ruse. If there was really LOCAL control of TIF’s the county and school district could weigh in on them. It’s time to eliminate the corporate welfare of TIFs. If I were the next mayor, I would eliminate the entire program on day one with an executive order.

• The Sioux Falls City Council supports legislation providing local governments flexibility when it comes to compensating those who serve on appointed citizen boards, committees, and commissions. I don’t agree with this. I think volunteerism in public service is important to keeping a fair process.

• The Sioux Falls City Council supports cooperative activities between county and municipal governments, the protection of existing joint activities, and elimination of barriers that hinder the creation of such arrangements. While I think this is a great idea, I think it should be expanded to save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Huether to make an announcement ‘soon’ on his political future

During his latest Shut Up and Listen session on Wednesday addressing a group of Chamber leadership peeps, MMM says he will be making an announcement soon on his political future. He says he has been considering many options which include running for senate or for governor or for mayor again in 4 years. He said he has considered all of them.

My bet is still on that he will run for governor as an independent. I just don’t think he will sit around for another 2-4 years. As a person who is constantly trying to re-invent the wheel, he isn’t going to just sit around and do nothing for that period of time.

During the session he also bragged about the city’s growth during his tenure. What he failed to mention is that most of the growth has come from people in our city making babies. The explosive growth in our school system is proof of this.

One of his sessions of course can’t go by without telling a few lies. He went on a rant about how NONE of the mayoral candidates or council candidates in the latest municipal race have taken a stance on the Parking Ramp before the vote. While I’m not sure if most them have or have not taken a stance, I do know that Jolene did. When asked by Lalley last week on his show Jolene said she did support the project. The only concern she had was the lack of transparency. But she was very firm on the fact she supports downtown development.

He also said he thought some of the candidates for mayor may push our city backwards. While I may not agree with some of the candidates philosophies, I don’t think ANY of them would go backwards. I think they are all pretty forward thinking, especially when it comes to open government and civil rights. It’s pretty sad he would say this, like he was some kind of great progressive. Spending mommy and daddy’s credit card on play things and producing enormous debt under a veil of secrecy is NOT progressive, it’s actually fiscally regressive.

He also blamed the city council for NOT fixing public transit, saying they can’t make the hard decisions. Funny, coming from the guy who doesn’t let them do things on their own. The Glory House land transfer was a great example of this. Councilor Starr had it handled with the help of the council and Mike had to get his fingers in their and make them pay for some of the land. The council also tried to stop the unnessary spending on the administration building and he vetoed them. He also stopped the districting of the parks board and has bragged that he only needs 2-4 votes to get things done with the council. The mayor has never worked with the council on anything, he only bullied them. No wonder they haven’t done anything with public transit, because any ideas they have would just get stomped down.

He will not be missed, and if he does decide to run for governor, I will do everything in my power to make sure that he does not win.

Mayor Ramrod doesn’t want public input

Guest Post by Bruce Danielson

During the December 5, 2017, Public Input I noticed several Council members not paying attention to us. During my turn at the podium, I politely called out members of the dais for ignoring us while we talked. I won’t name names but as I stood there talking, I mentioned what each of them were doing. The cellphones went down, pens were dropped, papers put away and eyes were brought up to meet mine. I have a photo (and video) of the mayor being handed a cellphone from the Council leadership side during this time. Very inconsiderate to say the least.

As we talk during any public testimony, we see the contempt several of the members show while we are there. Several do not want to see us, much less hear us, as their minds are closed to whatever we say because it is already a done deal. One member said in the past, the mind is made up over the weekend prior to second reading when the exhibits with agenda are available.

Some of the members have been privy to a lot of the information, some have not been privy to any of the backroom information. Some members and the public have not been privy to any of the real information.

This is now a project $22 million project we have to pay for. It is not the 3 year old, $9 million project we first were told about. This is a $22 million project we heard about 3 weeks ago without any open discussion with the public. We have been only shown pretty pictures and a fancy video to go with a 117 page contract.

This has been a secret project many times postponed to make the public bonding pieces fit with a developer who continues to skirt every rule of law.

A few months back I found out and then announced to the City Council during a Public Input, how Community Development had screwed up details and they had to postpone the project.

The mayor shouted me down during a November Public Input because he did not want any reference to Legacy Development brought up when in fact I was not talking about Legacy only using a word “legacy” in a reference.

He is a bit touchy. It makes me think of Shakespeare when the question is asked “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” What part of the issue is so uncomfortable he has to put up his guard?

Sioux Falls City Councilor Pat Starr did the right thing

Sure, we can discuss the minute details about how Pat handled this (did he walk out at the right time? Was it professional? etc., etc.) but when you look at the BIG PICTURE something I reminded the council to do when looking at the parking ramp project to begin with, I think Pat walking out was the right thing to do, especially since he had no other options. The Mayor and Kiley already said there would be no more input, could Pat really have gotten the rest of the council to overturn it? Probably not.

As Tim Stanga brought up during the meeting (and Belfrage discussed it on his show today) the council’s minds were already made up before the meeting even started.

What was disappointing the most about the input about the ramp itself was the fact that we heard NO testimony from the developers, we also had NO testimony from the city’s legal counsel about the liability of Hultgren and Drake.

It was obvious that the mayor wanted to bury the hatchet as quick as possible, it was obvious when he was acting like a restless child when Stehly brought forward amendments.

But what is more troubling is that Kiley and Huether reaction to Starr’s statement that he is the one being ‘unprofessional’. The entire council and mayor BESIDES Starr acted like complete children throughout the meeting, as I have pointed out earlier. I don’t blame Starr for not wanting to be a part of it. I also applaud him that his name will not appear on any of the documents or votes on the project (that I think will never happen due to lawsuits, lack of investors, bankruptcy OR all of the above – remember, the developers have already said they have no investors yet, or a hotel franchise).

Huether and Kiley were acting like jackasses when it comes to public input, as they normally do, and they finally got called out on it. If anyone should be embarrassed it should be them. Honestly Starr looks like a Star in this manner.

South DaCola isn’t endorsing any Mayoral candidates, yet.

After listening to the Good Ship Lalley Pop show yesterday, there seems to be this assumption that I am in the Greg Jamison camp. Not exactly. In fact, I told Jolene the other night before the council meeting started that I haven’t decided yet who to vote for.

I also said, that until the candidates can really get to the meat and potatoes during the forums and interviews, it’s all just kind of fluff at this point.

Do I talk to Greg about city politics? I do, I also talk to several other mayoral candidates. If anyone calls me that is running for office and has questions, I will always do my best to answer them (mostly give my opinion) whether I support them or not.

I just wanted to clarify, I’m still on the fence when it comes to the mayoral race. As for Cameraman Bruce and Stehly that were also mentioned, I don’t think they belong to any camps either. I actually know for a fact that Stehly is staying completely out of the mayoral race endorsement game and has contacted several of the candidates telling them that.

Trust me, if I decide to endorse any of the candidates, you will definitely know.

Bratty Sioux Falls City Council only makes Stehly look good

I’m not sure when the rest of the rubberstamp council is going to learn by trying to publicly shame Councilor Stehly they only make her more popular amongst her constituents.

Theresa ran on a platform of transparent government, prudent spending and listening to constituents. She beat two well-funded MALE candidates on her message and she continues to stick to her guns. This has pissed off her fellow rubber stamp councilors who are consistently saying she ‘plays the victim card’ and pulls ‘stunts’. Ironically, Stehly is doing EXACTLY what she promised and only continues to get more and more support. Her ‘stunts’ such as handing out flyers and self-funded mailers have only gotten citizens more engaged in their local government. This is a good thing.

Last night it was disgraceful how she was treated by her fellow peers. She held steady despite Starr not being in the room to back her up. You would have to have been in the chambers to see how they continually said things behind her back to each other, rolled their eyes, mocked her proposals and even giggled at her. The mayor tried several times to shut her down and cut her off.

Not only did they look like a bunch of childish brats, their attitude towards her only has the constituents feel sorry for her and want to defend her positions more.

The sad part is that Stehly had two wonderful amendments that she said if they would have passed she would have supported the parking ramp; Not using the 2nd penny to bail out the parking division on bond payments and transparency on the investors.

The mayor’s blindness on transparency has been obvious for a long time, and after he got caught lying about the siding settlement, the citizens don’t trust his ‘word’ on anything anymore. And while I don’t expect the mayor to understand, I would think the council, at least half of them would agree the settlement and lack of transparency broke the citizens trust in their city government and their ‘word’ on if they are investing or not doesn’t mean a hill of beans.

If you listened last night, several councilors, mostly Erickson and Erpenbach, swore they were not investing in the project or their relatives. While I believe them, there is NOTHING in writing saying otherwise. They kept reminding us it was against state law. Oh really?

The mayor quickly shut down the ‘cross my heart and hope to die’ session. He had to. He has violated this clause twice IMO. The first time was when the city granted a TIF to an apartment project his ‘wife’ was investing in. He slipped it by because he had his public works director, Mark Cotter sign off on the document. The second time was when the city gave $500k to a private tennis center that bears his name and has given little to nothing back to public for our ‘investment’.

The rubberstamp councilors need to realize that the citizens don’t trust the mayor’s ‘word’ on anything, anymore, and since they do nothing to fight the obvious corruption, it also reflects on them.

So keep laughing and picking on Stehly, it only makes her more popular.