Was the Sanford Center the plan all along? Even before the public voted on it?

Just another ‘secret’ Sanford events center meeting

I have been following the Events Center debate for years. But not until the recent final push to name the place after Sanford do the puzzle pieces come into place.

While we can all sit around and wonder if Sanford’s name was going to be on this place all along, I want to share these tidbits with you. You can draw your own conclusions . . .

Did you know that there was a get-out-the-vote (secret) committee within Sanford? Some of the member’s may or may not have included Dave and De Knudson, councilor (former) chair Sue Aguliar, Sanford volunteer coordinator Nona Bixler, wife of David Bixler, financial and budget analyst for the SF city council. It is also assumed that councilor Jim Entenman was involved since he sits on the Sanford board of trustees.

It is also very peculiar that the SF finance department’s director, Tracy Turbak, was in charge of the EC election. Municipal elections are typically handled by the city clerk. In light of the fact that former city clerk, Debra Owen was terminated right before the election it makes it even more peculiar. Especially when you consider that former county auditor (an expert of local elections) was named interim city clerk after Owen left, and she wasn’t asked to run the election. Why?

Having a secret get-out-the-vote committee isn’t that big of deal, actually I commend their efforts, though I disagree with what they were selling the public.

What makes it a big deal is that these same people are dictating whose name gets to be on the side of the building. Dave Knudson, VP and chief legal advisor to Sanford wrote the naming rights contract based on a series of ‘supposed’ secret meetings with a secret committee which might have been comprised of the same people that sat on the secret get-out-the-vote committee.

But as councilor Tex Golfing said in the recent EC contract working session, “There is a difference between ‘secret‘ meetings and ‘private’ meetings. These were ‘private’ meetings.”

The smoke couldn’t get any thicker.


#1 Alice15 on 08.13.12 at 2:55 pm

People always wondered why and how De Knudson was always “pro-downtown,” and then virtually overnight – she became a supporter of the EC in an industrial park. I guess when a paycheck, a life style, and your “private” life is tied to an issue – you can lose sight on what your values have told you all along. Well – I always say what goes around, comes around and I am sure the “secret” meetings that took place for her to run against Kermit backfired. I suppose not a big deal if you look at the possible fire power of the group above – but I am certain it sent some sort of message that not everything or everyone can be bought.

#2 Scott on 08.13.12 at 4:03 pm

I chuckle whenever I read “industrial park”.

#3 Jimmy z on 08.13.12 at 5:39 pm

You also have the convo that went something like this:

Superlative: “Okay, thanks again for the contract and the 64 grand. I have a detailed plan to utilize our existing database and we’ll find you guys several large corporate entities and we’ll see if see if we can’t maximize those dollars coming in.”

Darrin Smith: “Yeeeeahh….I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that, we’ve got a pretty good idea who we want to name the place, it’s easy since you see their name is all over town now…”

Superlative: “Great! But let’s not simply hand it to them..let’s make them work for it. Competition is always good when you market a facility to a prospective, multi-million dollar corporate bidder. Here’s a list of the last few deals and you can see…”

Darrin Smith: “That’s all fine and good, but we want to be prudent and we don’t want to upset the apple cart, so let’s just plan on telling those people they should line up to buy a luxury box suite or two and call it a day…makes good business acumen, don-cha know?”

Superlative: “Wait a minute, if you’re talking about who I think you are, then why would a competing bank or hospital buy a box inside a facility that’s already named for someone else? That’s not how it typically works, usually you…”

Darrin Smith: “Bahblah.blah..hah, don’t tell me about how things usually work. This is Sioux Falls, and we have our own way of doing things. If you ever want to do business with this City again, you’ll play ball and don’t ask questions, capishe?”

Superlative: “I don’t get it, you hired me to legitimize the process and maximize taxpayer value, in fact you had me stand up in front of your City Council and promise as such…”

Darrin Smith: “Baawhahahaha…I know, hilarious eh? Those tards can’t shoot strait, except of course for our pals..none of whom have any conflict of interests since we sent that smart-alickey lawyer Clerk on her merry way..ref didn’t see it: we didn’t do it..that how we roll, brotha!”

Superlative: “Look I have several banks, including one right up the block that wants to submit a bid…”

Darrin Smith: “Are you still here? I thought I told you what time it was. If you’re worried about your fee don’t; most people have forgotten we’ve even hired you. We’ve got you covered, I just need you to back into our recommendation and submit a report that will state as such and that we did our due dilligence.”

Superlative: “But we didn’t, and I won’t lie. I have a reputation to uphold and..”

Darrin Smith: “and what? You going to claim I asked you to falsify a report? I wouldn’t do that if I were you. My boss knows people.”

Superlative: “Yeah, well I’m no choir boy either..we’ll see you around sometime, curly Sue”

Darrin Smith: “Sounds good, make it a great day and don’t forget not to text driving out of town…especially to the media”

Superlative: “Go *&%# yourself”

Darrin Smith: “Already did, twice before lunch..part of the job! Thanks again!”

#4 cr on 08.13.12 at 7:21 pm

I think Mike Sullivan had a lot more to do with this “deal” than we will ever know……

He relocated to Sioux Falls from JAX.


Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena and Legends!!

#5 Detroit Lewis on 08.14.12 at 10:21 am

Examining our intrepid SOS’ financial history is proving to be interesting. Bob Mercer mentioned an interesting tidbit back In 2011 about T. Denny’s personal PAC:

GPS gave little directly to candidates (http://my605.com/pierrereview/?p=4769)

“T. Denny Sanford’s self-funded GPS political action committee proved to be primarily interested in Dave Knudson’s run for governor and showed little interest in helping other candidates directly. GPS gave Knudson $10,000 in 2010 for his bid for the Republican nomination for governor. After Knudson placed third in the June primary, GPS didn’t give any money to the Republican nominee, Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard. Instead GPS made two donations of $50,000 and $10,000 to the South Dakota Republican Party. The only individual candidate not named Knudson to receive a direct contribution from GPS last year was Republican Mark Johnston of Sioux Falls (his name is misreported by GPS as Johnson for Senate) who got $1,000. GPS finished 2010 with $27,204 cash on hand. Sanford organized GPS in 2007 and placed $200,000 of his resources into it on June 27 of that year, just before South Dakota started capping the amount that a person could contribute to a PAC. He was the only contributor to GPS and his PAC gave $10,000 that year to Daugaard. GPS gave no money to candidates in the 2008 primary election cycle. In the fall 2008 election cycle GPS gave $10,000 to Knudson and $10,000 to the(South Dakota) Senate Republican campaign committee. Before 2008 ended GPS gave another $10,000 to Knudson, plus $10,000 to Daugaard and $1,000 to Senate Republican candidate Phyllis Heineman of Sioux Falls. In 2009 Sanford backed only Knudson, giving him $50,000 while Daugaard received nothing from GPS.”

As good a report as this was, we found a few more interesting pieces. We are examining these missing links and will be reporting on these soon. The links to the Sioux Falls EC, SF Mayor, SF health community, SOS, Governor and more have just become more pointed. Just remember Deepthroat’s words, “Follow the Money”. We are and what a path it is taking on…

#6 Testor15 on 08.14.12 at 5:20 pm

So T Denny wanted Knudson for Governor and now Knudson works for Kelby.

Thune’s wife gets a ‘paycheck’ from Kelby. John Thune was Kelby’s special lobbyist, probably still is…

T Denny, what was so special about the SD Senate Republican Campaign Committee?

So we now we begin to see how Kelby spends T Denny’s money in the world of politics.

Heineman gets $1,000 from T Denny and Kelby, hmm I wonder why? It wouldn’t have anything to do with a certain sport club in Sioux Falls would it?

Mark Johnston gets $1,000 from T Denny and Kelby, hmm I wonder why? Oh you mean that Senator Johnston who happens to be the Vice President of Administration and Corporate Communication, Sanford and MeritCare Health System, 2007-present. Formerly Press Secretary, SD Gov Mike Rounds, 2002-2006. I see…

It will be interesting to see who else gets more of the special friends money. What do you suppose they have to do for their special paychecks?

Keep following the money and match it to the decisions I guess.

#7 scott on 08.14.12 at 8:56 pm

What a coincidence that spouses of city employees and elected officials have “jobs” at Sanford.

#8 l3wis on 08.14.12 at 9:52 pm

Maybe we can start having the legislative sessions at the Sanford Center? I mean, he owns most of the legislators asses already, why not have them legislate in his building? Seems appropriate.

#9 sue r on 08.15.12 at 11:41 am

Turbak had nothing to do with EC elec admin, at least not in the 6 1/2 wks before the election. Clerk’s office had full responsibility.

#10 l3wis on 08.15.12 at 11:45 am

Sue – I do realize you ‘ran’ the election, but wasn’t he the designated ‘in charge’ person of the election and not the city clerk because of the termination situation? Am I wrong?

#11 sue r on 08.15.12 at 5:10 pm

No, Tracy wasn’t involved. Before I started, Dave Bixler was the temporary city clerk — there was not a gap in the position that would have required assigning duties to another office.

#12 l3wis on 08.15.12 at 10:51 pm

So you handled the EC election? Or was it a shared duty with Bob Litz?

#13 sue r on 08.17.12 at 6:52 am

Auditor’s office handled absentee voting, programmed ballot counters and Automarks, and ran the counting operation on election night. Clerks office was responsible for everything else.

#14 Detroit Lewis on 08.17.12 at 7:54 am

Okay, you are right;


Where I got confused was on item #3 in this meeting that puts the director of finance, Tracy Turbak in charge in case something happens to the mayor


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