Why does Mayor Huether HATE disabled people?

Well, he actually doesn’t, but he surely doesn’t want to subsidize paratransit for them (Item #26).

Huether was trying to pull a fast one, and cut paratransit funding (hours), and the ENTIRE council voted down his ill-conceived plan, and told him why it was stupid. He was clearly angry after the vote. He doesn’t take defeat lightly.

Some people are speculating why the mayor wants to cut funding, especially since we are spending millions on a new EC, a river greenway (FREE landscaping to a private developer) and have $45 million in reserves.

As one of the user’s of paratransit testified Tuesday night,

“I think it is great that we are building and funding a new Events Center, but if you cut Paratransit hours, I won’t be able to attend any concerts there.” (sic).

Oh the irony in that statement.

As someone said to me about the mayor’s proposal, “It was a pretty ‘Pukey’ move.”

40 comments ↓

#1 pathloss on 05.23.13 at 3:21 pm

Sounds like council has finally figured him out. Better late then never. Problem is he’ll do whatever he wants. Council vote is merely an opinion. As strong mayor (aka dictator) he can override them. Paratransit is necessary but then you can’t buy flowers to court developers.

#2 anonymous on 05.23.13 at 4:25 pm

I do think they need to take a serious look at who is using Paratransit. When a Paratransit ride averages $70 during peak hours, something is out of balance!!

Councilor Anderson Jr. stated at the meeting the oversight on this has probably been too lenient going way back to the beginning of Paratransit. There have also been changes made to the fixed route buses and the stops to make them ADA compliant which they were not in past years.

Obviously, if you have been receiving door-to-door service, at a time you have chosen, you are going to be reluctant to give that up in favor of riding a fixed-route bus.

#3 Joan on 05.23.13 at 5:02 pm

I used to ride paratransit, started in 1998 and quit early this year. This was due to some of the changes that have been made in the last year, and then the fact that this winter when it was time for me to be recertified to ride for another three years, I would have had to go down to their office for an oral interview, and part of that interview has to take place outside. Since I retired I only was only riding the bus 6-8 times a year and that was to and from doctor’s appointments. Now I spend about four times as much using cabs. I am so tired most of the time that it is a real effort to use the bus, for what I consider to be a completely unnecssary trip for an interview. I have told them that most of the time I am in so much pain, I can’t stand long enough to peel two potatoes. Due to some of the medications that I am on, I have to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, 10 minutes and I start to burn. Well enough complaining.

#4 Winston on 05.23.13 at 6:38 pm

Let me guess, Sanford Health wants to run it?

#5 l3wis on 05.23.13 at 9:38 pm

Winston, you may not be off the mark on that. Think about it, what if the hospital you had an appointment at picked you up? And what if they billed Medicare or Medicaid or SS for that ride? The problem is, will they give you a ride to the concert at the EC? Nope.

People who make profits off of sick people are really just the scum of the earth. And I am not talking about their employees, but their shareholders.

#6 l3wis on 05.23.13 at 9:39 pm

I am turning 41 in 2 months, you know what my gift was from my insurance company? A 33% monthly premium increase.

#7 Winston on 05.24.13 at 12:00 am

Lewis, I would not put it pass them. Sanford is becoming the modern day version of a “Pullman Town” mentality.

#8 Winston on 05.24.13 at 12:47 am

Sorry about your premium increases, that sucks! A course conservatives are going to scream “ObamaCare!”, but the truth is that ObamaCare actually requires health insurance companies to start spending 80% of their premium revenue on health care payouts, but a significant premium increase would only further challenge most health insurance companies abilities to meet the 80% threshold, when you realize that many health insurance companies right now only pay out 65% of their premium revenue towards health care payouts.

I am just amusing, but perhaps your health plan prior to ObamaCare was not preventive proactive, and thus, the premium increase is being used to meet those new pay out costs. In that case, it is ObamaCare, but the preventive bent will have long term cost benefits for you, your insurer, and eventually for the entitlement programs as well.

It just depends on how “preventive” your health insurance provider was before ObamaCare. I have read where some health insurance premiums were going to go up dramatically in 2014 because of ObamaCare. I really think it will be the issue of 2014 to the GOP’s benefit, but also a benefit to all of us preventively in the future.

On the last thought, is your renewal seen as a 2013 renewal or a 2014 renewal? If it is the former, then your health insurance provider might be able to skirt ObamaCare one last time before the full implementation of ObamaCare in 2014. If that is the case, I would be worried about their profiteering and possible intent to go out of business for 2014… just speculation….

#9 Winston on 05.24.13 at 12:49 am

“amusing?” assuming!

#10 CCFlyer on 05.24.13 at 2:20 am

So let’s say a different developer came in and built hotels and restaurants along the river, would you still be against construction of a riverfront/greenway? Not just Lloyd?

#11 Testor15 on 05.24.13 at 8:01 am

The hotels are building along the river for the romance of being next to the river. If the developer wants a pretty front yard, they should spend the money to match what they are doing. If you spend time down there you will see areas could easily be blocked off for their events.

How are we supposed to stone wash our clothes on the steps to the water if Lloyd has an event?

#12 Detroit Lewis on 05.24.13 at 9:33 am

CC – Yes, I am against any handouts to developers, don’t care who they are. The original plan for the river greenway was about $4-5 Million, and was just fine, they were going to cleanup the area, redo the trail and do some new landscaping, which I was fine with, it needed to be cleaned up. But steps into the river, amphitheatres, bulk heads, and spray parks are ridiculous and a gigantic waste of money.

#13 cr on 05.24.13 at 10:25 am

They are currently projecting the total cost of the River Greenway will be 36 million TAX dollars.

We have BONDED for less than half of the 36m and we now have:

a million dollar pedestrian bridge from Raven’s parking lot to Country Inn and Suites parking lot,

a spray park in front of Craig Lloyd’s new hotel,

and two sets of steps that lead into the 13th most impaired river (source: DNR) in the country.

Side Note: In 2012, Councilor Erpenbach pushed for using 1.5 million dollars (surplus CIP dollars) to replace the current pedestrian bridge in front of Lloyd’s hotel. When other Councilors questioned this suggestion, they were told there is nothing wrong with the current bridge, “it’s just positioned at the wrong angle”!!! Fortunately, the Council voted this down……but look for the idea to resurface. Jeff Scherschligt managed to have the first million dollar bridge written into the Zip Feed Mill deal, and I would imagine that Lloyd is trying to do the same for in front of his hotel.

#14 Craig on 05.24.13 at 10:39 am

Just one question….

If I slip on one of Zamby’s banana peels and injure my back, can I get a ride via paratransit?

#15 anominous on 05.24.13 at 2:52 pm

Them Lloyd condos really use a lot of 2×4′s and chipboard. I thought there would be more glass and steel, for all the subsidies they enjoy.

#16 Zamby on 05.24.13 at 7:32 pm

Zamby sez you can if I can ride on top.

FREE BANANAS!

#17 Poly43 on 05.24.13 at 8:40 pm

This is a direct quote from the city’s latest transit development plan.

Partnerships—Due to the state of the economy, subsidies the City will most likely not be increased, so partnerships will be
a key component to increasing transit services within the next five years.

Due to the state of the economy??? To listen to the mayor we are awash in money with no place to spend it( ‘cept on the EC)

We have money for developers, and anything remotely associated with the EC. And yet we can throw para transit under the bus. Not only was the plan to cut route services to most areas of the city but to completely cut out large areas in southern Sioux Falls.

I listened to the mayor say to senior citizens at a listen and learn session at a retirement village say he was on their side and would be an advocate for them. Yeah…. Right…. Just like he’s an advocate for those he targeted in his fee harvesting scheme at first premier.

#18 Detroit Lewis on 05.25.13 at 12:45 am

“Zamby sez you can if I can ride on top.”

Zamby, you better clarify that statement. I think all that potassium is affecting your brain.

#19 Zamby on 05.25.13 at 7:32 am

Zamby sez if Craig gets to ride inside he gets to ride on top to see Sioux Falls mess.

#20 Poly43 on 05.25.13 at 9:27 am

Just watched Item 26. From what I got out of it SAM (city) loses about $21 on every paratransit pickup. We recover $7 from a broke federal government and the other $14 comes from the city piggy bank which is flush with cash. Someone said the mayors plan for cutting rides to southeast Sioux Falls will terminate about 2500 rides a month. That comes out to $35,000 a month, $420,000 a year. Chump change compared to the $23,000,000 this city is throwing at Russell Avenue from the interstate to the EC.

Priorities I guess.

#21 Joan on 05.25.13 at 5:21 pm

When I rode Paratransit, full time, I did see some misuse of the system. I no longer know if these misuses are still going on. Well yes, I do know some of them are, but the ones that really annoyed me might not be going on now.

#22 Poly43 on 05.25.13 at 5:40 pm

I used to ride paratransit, started in 1998 and quit early this year. This was due to some of the changes that have been made in the last year, and then the fact that this winter when it was time for me to be recertified to ride for another three years, I would have had to go down to their office for an oral interview, and part of that interview has to take place outside.

~Joan

I have heard getting paratransit is much more difficult to qualify for these days. What has changed for the good? For the bad?

#23 rufusx on 05.26.13 at 7:38 pm

testor, Lewis and the rest of the anti-city – anti-greenway crew – you advocating a private developer be allowed/required to build in the public domain (right of way – essentially) and then also be required to allow public use of their privately invested dollars? Hmmm?

#24 rufusx on 05.26.13 at 7:43 pm

Maybe accepting FEMA money for branch removal will free up some $$$ for better funding paratransit?? Connect the $$ dots much? Oh – that’s right, only if it involves public/private conspiracy theories. Sorry – I forgot.

#25 cr on 05.26.13 at 8:52 pm

Actually, rufusx, I am very pro-Sioux Falls……

#26 Poly43 on 05.26.13 at 9:09 pm

Maybe accepting FEMA money for branch removal will free up some $$$ for better funding paratransit??

You are completely out if your mind if you believe that. All accepting a federal subsidy will do is free up more TIF$$$$$ money.

#27 Joan on 05.26.13 at 10:43 pm

Poly—-I don’t quite know how to reply. I started riding in 1998, and knew that every three years the riders have to be recertified, and that included an oral interview in their office. However, there was only supposed to ever be one interview per rider. I have no objection to the recertification and didn’t mind the one interview.

About one year ago, they made it so that if you have to cancel a ride, you have to do it a day ahead of time, if you wait until the day of the ride you get a point against you and when you get so many points, you get bumped off for awhile. I don’t have any idea how many points it has to be. How many people know a day ahead of time that they are going to be sick or whatever. I have rescheduled many doctor’s appointments because I haven’t felt well enough to go to it. They do make allowances on the day before notice, if you are sick the day of the scheduled ride, but I was told it couldn’t happen too often.

It has always been that if a person has to be some place at 9:00AM we have to be ready to be picked up an hour ahead of time. I can understand that but we might have to sit and wait for half an hour or more before the bus gets here. When you get to being a senior citizen, you never quite know when you will have to run to the bathroom. There are times, instead of being ill on the day of a scheduled ride, I am just too tired to go any place.

When it comes to being recertified every three years, now every body has to go in for an oral interview too and they have somebody from CCHS present for the interview too. The interview process also includes some walking outside, and taking a ride on one of the fixed route buses. However, from what I have heard that ride doesn’t include changing buses or anything like that. I can’t stand long enough to peel two potatoes without getting severe pain in my back. Due to some of my medications I have to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun—10 minutes and I start to burn. I always burned easy, but not that fast. For about six years I have only been riding the bus about 8 times a year, to doctors appointments. When I was working and riding the bus 4-5 times a day, I did see some misuse, or what I considered to be misuse of the system. People that had cars and were still driving them, but riding the bus for some things. Well if I was able to drive, I sure wouldn’t have been depending on the bus to get me places. There were a few people that did that.

Then there are the organizations, facilities, residents(whatever people want to call them) that have vans with lifts, but their residents/clients still ride the bus. When I did ride the bus on a full time basis, I rode during what would be considered their busy times of the day. Whenever I rode the bus there was never more than three other people on it and most of the time I was the only one. There would be times when I rode the bus that we would either have to drop somebody off or pick up somebody at one of the facilities in town and it never failed but what there would be at least one other bus, maybe two or three at the same place picking up or dropping off just one or two riders. All of this being said I don’t know about the times when I am the only person on the bus, how many people they have dropped off before me or how many they will be picking up right after they pick me up.

The main reason I decided to quit riding the bus, is because I would have had to make an unnecessary trip to their office on the bus, when most of the time I don’t even feel energetic enough to ride it for what I have to ride it. I also felt that they should be smart enough to know that senior citizens and disabled people aren’t going to improve, they will either remain the same or get worse.

Awhile back I had a letter to the editor in the Argus about this. It was a nice long letter and they published every word. Normally if I send them too long a letter, they send it back to me.

I know this kind of rambles, but when I write, I do it as I think of something.

#28 Pathloss on 05.26.13 at 11:39 pm

Huether’s converting the transit vehicles into armored cars. He needs secure vehicles to transport city contracts skim to his castle 20 miles out of town.

#29 cr on 05.27.13 at 8:32 am

Based on the presentation that Transit gave to the Council, Paratransit sounds like it needs a major overhaul and a whole lot more oversight!

Example: Average cost of a ride during peak hours is $70.

Having an occupational therapist involved in the evaluation is a good start. I emphasize with Joan and other’s physical difficulties, but never requiring re-current interviews/evaluations by Transit is as irresponsible as the Social Security Administration’s position that once you are certified as 100% disabled you are never re-evaluated again in your lifetime!!

Joan’s comments about empty Paratransit buses is interesting. As you are driving around Sioux Falls, take notice of all the Paratransit buses that appear to be very empty.

#30 Poly43 on 05.27.13 at 8:37 am

Joan. I hear you on the “point” system. It can be very easy for a disabled person to accumulate enough points to be banned from riding.

I mentioned earlier the city loses on average about $14 per paratransit pickup. Based on the 30,000 pickups they hope to eliminate in a year, that comes out to a $420,000 savings a year. 30,000 much needed rides that amount to one ninth of one percent our total city budget in a year???

At the same time, the mayor proposes a $421,000 increase over last year for the IT department. Erpenbach…where is your outrage on that one? Human Resources also needs $203,000 more than last year with the same amount of employees. Diamond Jim…where is your outrage on that one? I could go on all day long with very similar examples, but it is Memorial Day and I got better things to do. Disgusting. That’s all I can think of in this latest move by city government.

#31 Detroit Lewis on 05.27.13 at 10:37 am

Paratrasit certainly needs overhauling, no doubt. But to just cut hours thinking this will fix everything is short sighted, but I wouldn’t expect anything less out of subprime CC salesman.

#32 cr on 05.27.13 at 11:27 am

Maybe one of those high-paid “outside” consultants that we (the City/taxpayers) are always hiring for everything under the sun, could give an unbiased evaluation of Sioux Falls Paratransit.

#33 Scott on 05.27.13 at 1:14 pm

Time for another Task Force!!! Give Aguilar something to do!

#34 Poly43 on 05.27.13 at 4:29 pm

Joan’s comments about empty Paratransit buses is interesting. As you are driving around Sioux Falls, take notice of all the Paratransit buses that appear to be very empty.

It is interesting. But I think it can be explained. I was at a retirement community one day when 3 paratransit vehicles were lined up to pick up 3 different people. Have you ever watched the process it takes to load and secure just one wheelchair bound rider. It takes time. Plus these three riders were going in completely different directions for their appointments. It has to be a logistical nightmare for the dispatchers and drivers. Plus I have never heard anything but good things about these particular SAM employees. I do wonder a little bit tho about their number crunchers. In 2010 we were averaging a little less than 500 passengers a day. In the space of less than three years we are to believe those numbers have gone to over 600 a day???? When you stop and consider the new guidelines for qualifying. (Which become stricter and stricter each year) Why do you think the fixed route buses are now handicap accessible? Because more and more handicapped are being told they can use the regular bus. So to tell me in less than three years we’ve gone from less than 500 pickups a day to more than 600? Something there just does not pass the smell test.

#35 Joan on 05.27.13 at 4:54 pm

Poly, that is what I was kind of getting at, that they send too many buses to one location to either pick up or drop off too few riders. I also have a problem with the facilities like you mentioned that have their own vans with lifts, not transporting their own clients. I understand what everybody is saying about my complaints, but I think a lot of the problem is scheduling problems. I would even be willing to pay $1.00 more per trip, because that would still be cheaper than cabs, but it was my choice.

#36 Detroit Lewis on 05.27.13 at 8:26 pm

“Time for another Task Force!!! Give Aguilar something to do!”

Make sure there is bagels, Doritos and GS cookies in a feeding trough and she will be there.

#37 Poly43 on 05.27.13 at 8:58 pm

Joan has told us some of the problems with the system. Problems enough that she has just decided to opt out completely. Sad really. This should not be the case. In the past couple of years SAM has introduced a rigid point system for no shows. Enough points in a 30 day period and you can be banned from riding. Like she said, she cannot read a crystal ball to see if she is going to be well enough to ride.

Another measure is shifting patrons from paratransit to regular routes. That’s why the big push to make bus stops and buses ADA compliant. Those measures should be dropping paratransit ridership. Yet they are much higher than they were just 3 years ago. In 2010 weekday ridership was about 500. On April 9th of this year a Sam official told the argus ridership was “almost” 600 per weekday. On April 26th they said it was “about” 600 a weekday. Now last week they say it “is” between 600 and 650 per weekday. Something here just does not add up.

#38 Poly43 on 05.29.13 at 8:50 am

Kenny Anderson asked an interesting question in the above clip. He asked how many riders are ambulAtory and how many are wheelchair bound. The ratio is about 50/50. Our fixed route bus system is nearly all ADA compliant at this time. Perhaps the city could further encourage ambulatory riders to use the fixed route system by giving them free rides if they show a paratransit ID. A win win for everybody.

Another thing that mystifies me. I may be wrong, but all, or nearly all the paratransit vehicles appear to be the 6 passenger gas hawking behemoths. Using these vehicles to their maximum I would think would be a huge almost impossible task. Time involved in loading and unloading, destinations hither and fro make maximum use of this vehicle impossible. In hindsight, wouldn’t 60 vehicles like l3wis shows pictured above make more sense than the 24 carriers being used now?

Kermit. I hope you read this site. Shame on you. You wonder why we don’t just raise rates if the demand is that great. Great idea if we’re talking about raising golf cart rates at Minnehaha Country Club. But this is a segment of society where a dollar bill is already stretched as far as it can go. I said earlier that 20 out of 25 bus users come from households with incomes less than $30,000 a year. I would venture for paratransit users that number is closer to 23 or 24 users out of 25.

#39 Testor15 on 05.29.13 at 10:06 am

Poly, I asked a similar question about the big truck frame buses the city uses for this service. The answer back was the ability of truck frame buses to structurally holdup longer than the small van variety many communities use.

This might make sense if Sioux Falls combined passenger pickup and drop-offs in their scheduling but their operation is helter-skelter. With the way they schedule the equipment, they should be able to combine more trips to make the equipment more effective. Right now it is a glorified taxi service.

I say this a person very familiar with ADA issues. ADA requires bus services to be on par for the handicapped as they would be for the ‘normal’ rider.

For about 12 years I have known a daily user of the van / truck system. The drivers are amazing in their care of the rider. What they put up with takes immense patience and care. More than
I could probably manage. Developmentally disabled persons do not always realize the strain their issues cause. Than you add the physically disabled needs to the driver’s workload.

If we are going to have a glorified taxi service, the city should look at going back to the types of vehicles DL shows above or find a way for the drivers to transport more on a single trip. Either way, it is going to be tough decisions with better scheduling.

#40 Joan on 05.29.13 at 3:28 pm

My adult developmentally disabled daughter just received notice that effective June 30, she can no longer ride paratransit, because when she had her oral interview and the guy from CCHS took her for a ride on the fixed route buses, said that she was able to do the things required to ride the fixed route buses. The funny thing is all he had her do was pull the cord when she wanted to stop, and he told her when to pull it. In my opinion that isn’t any kind of test. They didn’t do any bus changes. She doesn’t comprehend the things that she reads—-the letter she received today, she interpreted to mean that she could continue riding paratransit. She also doesn’t always understand what people tell her either, she kind of interprets things in her own way. The bus stop closest to our place she would end up sitting out in the hot sun, rain, snow, whatever, because there isn’t a shelter for it. Plus I can’t count on her leaving our apartment and getting to the bus stop on time because she might find people to visit with on the way or else stop to play with somebody’s dog. She can also get distracted by watching people feed squirrels, etc. When she rides paratransit there are times I have to remind her to get busy and watch for the bus. I am physically unable to make sure she gets to the fixed route bus. In order for her to ride the fixed route bus to work from where we live to where she works, the bus would drop her off, so that she would end up being dropped off further from work, than she would walk, if she didn’t have to cross two really busy streets to get to and from work. Basically this means that she will have to quit working. There is a taxi service in town that if a rider shows their Achieve ID card, they can ride cheaper, but from where we live to where she works it would be $5.00 each way and there are days that she doesn’t make more than $10.00. She can get by without the income, for her working is a means for her to see other people, other than our neighbors. It will cost her between $20.00-$30.00 for a round trip to her doctor.

I do agree that the paratransit drivers, on a whole are great, there is one woman I know of for sure that has the personality of a piranha. When it comes to the number of passengers the buses hold, if I have counted correctly, they can hold something like six wheel chairs.

We will have to see how this all plays out.

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