ArtMaze, one of the better parts of Sioux Falls life in 2016
2016 has been a rough year for citizen activism. While it has been up and down here in Sioux Falls with many successes and failures to boot, it seems Washington DC has gone into full collapse as we allowed racist, sexist, hillbillies to elect our president.
But locally there were three things that stood out;
• Governor Daugaard claiming that voters were ‘hoodwinked’ into voting for IM 22, then getting the Pierre (in)justice system to go along with it. Funny how for over 40 years voters have been voting his party into power, and no word about ‘hoodwinking’ but once that corrupt power will be challenged, all the voters are idiots. As one official told me that used to work for Dennis, it’s not the public that are idiots, it’s Dennis. And his idiocy has been shining through.
• The South Dakota Democratic Party’s bottom completely fell out, and the people in charge patted themselves on the back. Insanity I tell you! Insanity!
• But one of the greatest achievements of the year is the Sioux Falls City Council’s change of power. The four new councilors have been flexing their muscles with a little help from Councilor Erickson, and while they have had a few missteps to start out, they have been learning from the battle scars. While ‘leadership’ of the council (Rolfing and Kiley) seem to be on a two man mission to rubberstamp all things Huether, shut down public input, and concoct false ethics charges against a fellow councilor (until they got caught lying like the snakes they are) they are becoming more and more in check. The city council has many big plans for 2017, and I have a feeling their agenda will push through easily as our lame duck mayor melts.
Let’s take a look at some the finer high and low points of 2016;
• The Huether Tennis center continues to block parking from other event attendees at the Sanford Sports complex though they basically stole $500K from taxpayers for the facility. Throughout the year there was several reports on cones and signs blocking the lot with not cars in it. But hey Mike’s Bride won an award this year and seemed surprised she did, without commenting that her check to the organization that gave the award wasn’t returned.
• The Sioux Falls City Council leadership and mayor’s HR department pulled a military retiree out of their asses for city clerk, a person who will be in charge of our city elections and hasn’t been registered to vote for years. He also proved his knowledge of official stamps when he stamped a petition without even bothering to read it. While Mr. Greco has gotten better over the year, the city clerk position should not be a $80K+ a year job as an apprentice, sadly being trained by one of his assistant clerks who has ten times the qualifications and applied for the position but was turned down. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the council chair’s view of women in the work place.
• Speaking of letting the mayor’s HR department and Leadership’s Mutt and Jeff pick the next internal auditor, the council barked loud enough that they did not want another ‘Greco’ pick. Not sure if the barking worked, but the person who was set to take the job saw the writing on the wall and turned it down. Hopefully the person who ultimately gets the position won’t be turned down because they shave their legs.
• The city continues to blow money on the Winter Wonderland Display, but the way the mayor has been cutting budgets these days, I expect next year’s display to be a couple of homeless barrel fire pits, sponsored by the Dudley House of course.
• After posting about the ridiculous corporate like raises the mayor has been giving to his management team, he turns around and still screws the minions with dismal raises again this year. I think in a special note to the city employees on their Christmas paystub he wrote, “I don’t care.”
• The city continues the FREE condom distribution program at area bars, and for some reason Monk’s is always emptied the quickest. Coincidence that is also a favorite watering hole of city managers . . .
• The Tuthill shooting case becomes ‘inactive’ and a tree branch shadow gets off scott free.
• The Erp wrongfully calls out local massage therapists as prejudice because they pointed out the ‘shower massages’ that were taking place around town. Apparently someone got a bad fortune cookie that day.
• The car rental tax and BID tax grabby-grabby fails in Sioux Falls, but the state legislature passes one of the most idiotic tax increases ever so our teachers are now just tied for last instead of dead last in pay. Out hoodwinking governor already has plans to rob the pot only one year after its passage.
• Hartford’s city government was in a state of collapse. Who really cares?
• The Levitt Pavilion is moving forward in Sioux Falls. It will be nice watching outdoor concerts sitting in the grass while battery acid is boiling beneath our asses.
• The Boulevard ordinance changes went into effect. Now stop worrying about rocks and plant a garden.
• The Washington Pavilion got a change of leadership after Darrin Smith takes over as President. So far he has only eliminated one director, but I hear the blood-letting has just begun. Now let’s throw another couple of million at the place to fix the poor construction to begin with. That will never happen with the Events Center . . .
• The Events Center cracks down on outside snacks and guns at events. We are all now safe from cheap fat people shooting us, but not in the parking lot.
• The Pottie Room war starts in Pierre and is guaranteed to return in 2017.
• A city council candidate throws a hissy fit over a post I wrote about his wife’s involvement with the Jesus plows and after threats to my employer I pull the post. He ends up taking last place in the at-large race. How’s Jesus working out for you now?
• Due to health reasons, Kermit Staggers decides not to run for a 4th term on the city council. His endorsement of Stehly puts her over the top.
• One of the youngest candidates in city history runs for city council. I apologize to Briggs for all the shitty things I said about him during the campaign.
• The Argus Leader sues the city for the details in the secret events center siding settlement. The Argus loses the first round but it is headed to the SD Supreme Court.
• On a similar note, the SON neighborhood is also awaiting a judgement in their Walmart suit with the SD Supreme Court.
• The Mayor and Q-Tip Smith screwup the DT parking ramp development by flapping their traps to soon, and the council later on in the year returns the favor and defunds the ramp all together for 2017. I still think the fiasco is what got Smith to seek refuge at the Pavilion.
• City officials throw a hissy-fit over Bruce’s camera at a city meeting we were invited to by then city councilor Kenny Anderson. Looking back on it now, I just chuckle.
• Bruce and I do a presentation on voter turnout in Sioux Falls at Democratic Forum and one of the mayor’s buddy developers in Sioux Falls tries to shut us down. When he fails, he walks out. Another casualty to transparency.
I could give you a long list of reasons not vote for Dean Karsky, mainly he accomplished nothing on the city council except using a rubberstamp. And when he did have an idea of his own, it would get shot down, like his malt beverage ban idea.
When Dean joined the Chamber’s Board, the city’s ethics commission ok’d the appointment. No surprise, we know who appoints them. While I certainly didn’t defend the decision, I will say that being a Sioux Falls city councilor and a Sioux Falls Chamber board member at least has somewhat of a correlation. But how will other communities and chamber boards in Minnehaha County feel about Karsky sitting on the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce Board? I would think that would certainly be a conflict of interest.
Why don’t we save us all the headache of finding out and not vote for him. Vote Bender, Feinstein or Bonilla. As I have been telling people ‘Anybody but Karsky’ we have enough salespeople in local government already, we need to start purging them.
It seems Dean was getting so good at endorsing city council candidates over the past week, he decided to take a stab at endorsing other things in our community. Besides, this was the same city councilor that won a CMA on a recent council junket, who wouldn’t listen to his endorsements?
Here are Dean’s submitted endorsements;
“Best Mayor of the Past 6 years; Mike Huether”
“Best local insurance agency; Dean Karsky Agency”
“Best county commission to run for office for; Minnehaha County”
“Best idea for a political yard sign; Re-Elect Dean Karsky”
“Best city councilor to endorse other city councilors; Dean Karsky”
“Best place to get a can of malt liquor; Not in Dean Karsky’s neighborhood”
“Best Events Center in Sioux Falls; Denny Sanford Premier Center”
“Best elected position to serve in for six years and do virtually nothing except breath and show up; Sioux Falls city council”
I’m not sure how many times we have to remind these people about spending tax dollars on campaigning is clearly against the law. Apparently, councilor Karsky not only doesn’t understand this, he has the host of Inside Townhall script his announcement for running for County Commission.
Didn’t anyone at CityLink scratch their heads a little about this . . . oh wait.
12-27-20. Expenditure of public funds to influence election outcome prohibited. The state, an agency of the state, and the governing body of a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state may not expend or permit the expenditure of public funds for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of any candidate, or for the petitioning of a ballot question on the ballot or the adoption or defeat of any ballot question. This section may not be construed to limit the freedom of speech of any officer or employee of the state or such political subdivisions in his or her personal capacity. This section does not prohibit the state, its agencies, or the governing body of any political subdivision of the state from presenting factual information solely for the purpose of educating the voters on a ballot question.
Source: SL 2007, ch 80, § 20.
Our ever eager to please anyone but citizens councilman Dean “Karksy” Karsky used the publicly owned and controlled studios of city of Sioux Falls CityLink to make his announcement he is running for a seat on Minnehaha County Commission.
Doesn’t he understand anything about state and federal laws governing the use of taxpayer resources to further his political future? Can you imagine him on the County Commission being able to find loopholes in to further self interests?
In 2014, didn’t Bruce Danielson of Citizens for Integrity file ethics violations against Mayor Huether for violating city of Sioux falls rules concerning his use of city resources and meeting to further his reelection as mayor? We are shaking our collective heads and deciding what’s good for the mayor Huether is good enough to violate as council members?
As a side note, no candidate for office can appear on city media until after the election per Mayor Munson’s Executive order still in effect.
During the December edition of ‘Inside Town Hall’ four city councilors had a discussion about Project TRIM (Or as we call it Project Tree Tax). Councilor Staggers of course believes like many cities throughout the Midwest (Brandon, Brookings & Kansas City for example) that the city of Sioux Falls should trim the trees in the boulevard. As a Brandon city councilor brought up in a joint meeting with SF city councilors, “It’s just more efficient and accurate.” then policing homeowners to do it. Councilor Erickson believes the way the city goes about policing the policy is cumbersome and could use improvement.
But councilors Karsky and Kiley think it works just fine (mailing out vague letters about the trees that need to be trimmed, sending out city employees to tag those properties but not identify the actual branches). Kiley goes on to say that it would cost to much for the city to trim the trees. That statement in itself is ridiculous. As the Brandon city councilor pointed out, they discovered it was cheaper to contract out a licensed arborist to just go out and trim those trees then to go through the ridiculous process of paying city employees to drive around and tag properties then send out letters when the time could be better spent at just trimming the violating trees to begin with. Then there is the matter of the adjoining property owners not owning those trees anyway because they sit on city property.
No surprise to me that Kiley and Karsky would find the process A’ OK as is.
UPDATE: As I suspected, the tickets for the CMA’s were bought privately by the Erickson’s and no taxpayer expense. Just to clarify.
Foolish me, I thought outgoing councilor Karsky was going on his last junket to the National League of Cities conference in Nashville to learn more about municipal government that he could share over the last 5 months of his term. It was all a ploy to receive his CMA. (snark)
Notice the conference started on Wednesday, but the councilors needed to move this week’s meeting to Monday so they could go to the conference on Tuesday. But Tuesday night they took in the CMA’s.
Our tax dollars hard at work! Now if we can just get them to unlock the doors at the Huether Family tennis center.
Karsky said Sioux Falls law enforcement is overburdened with alcohol related problems, and the calls that come in tend to cluster in specific areas of the city – downtown and the Whittier and Pettigrew Heights neighborhoods. “Alcohol-impact areas” – places where alcohol-nuisance calls are most frequent – could be established with more restrictive booze rules, Karsky said.
Dean, we tried this thing called ‘Prohibition’ it didn’t work out so well. Did you take American History in High School? Did you go to High School? Alcoholism is a disease, they will find a way to get a drink, you are not going to fix anything.
What I want to know is what yahoo on the chamber made you be the poster boy of this idea? They owe you a drink . . . that is at least 40 ounces.
Erickson says it best;
City Councilor Christine Erickson said she’s open to discussing the alcohol rules on the books in Sioux Falls, but questioned whether banning single sales in select areas of the city would significantly reduce the number of alcohol nuisance complaints. She’s concerned also about the unintended consequences of alcohol impact areas.
“I understand the reasoning behind it. My concern is, too, are they going to get in the car and drive somewhere else to get it? Now we would just be encouraging them to get behind the wheel,” she said.
Erickson said a ban in specific areas of town wouldn’t alleviate the problem, only move it, similar to what happened when the council banned alcohol from Van Eps and Tower parks.
“It’s kicking the can down the road again. That was my concern when we banned the alcohol at Van Eps as well. We weren’t really fixing anything – just telling them to go back into the neighborhoods,” she said.
Besides her great points, I also would like to point out that I think product designations are up to the state and maybe the county. Don’t know, but I think the City of Sioux Falls learned the hard way about trying to limit video lottery. They lost in SD Supreme Court. They seem to be very good at that.
UPDATE: Yesterday the commission decided they will be accepting applications and resumes until December 31 for the appointment job. There was some discussion on whether they should appoint a ‘caretaker’ or basically a ‘seat warmer’. This of course was Dick Kelly’s idea, and Cindy pretty much said that was a bad idea, and they should appoint someone who is prepared to do the job in the fullest for the next two years, and if they want to run again, that would be fine.
I found out yesterday that Dean Karsky has withdrawn his name and said he is NOT seeking the appointment, but expressed interest in running for the seat in two years when he is term limited from the city council.
Mark Millage has also told me that he is not interested in the appointment either.
I’m not sure who the ‘ten’ people are, but it should be interesting when those names are released.
In other County news, it seems that the commission is backing out on their set of rules for picking an election review commission. The names I have heard so far are either elected officials, past elected officials or public employees. Bad idea. This commission should be citizen driven, NO elected officials, NO public employees and NO past officials BIAS to the process. Looks like another Kangaroo court.
I also have some other inside information about the formation of the commission that I will share AFTER the appointments. Let’s just say the cattle wrangling has already begun.
Well got to hand it to the Chamber, they were quick to respond to me, in a very nice NON public passive aggressive way, (which I expected) with an email story to their members;
During the Council’s public input session, the Council’s constant commentator Scott Ehrisman maintained that Councilor Dean Karsky should recuse himself from any Council agenda item that includes any member of the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce since he is now a Board member. As is typical, councilors do not respond to the public input sessions. It seems, however, we should.
Yes, the councilors don’t respond because they don’t give a rat’s ass what a citizen has to say, just the big wheels in town, you know, like Chamber Members. So instead of Karsky or a city attorney responding in a official public meeting, which would have been the appropriate place to do so, the Chicken Little Chamber does it in an email to their members. You must be so proud of their defense Dean. Did you help them type the email?
The comments seem to show an incredible lack of understanding of the nature and role of citizen-composed legislative bodies that are so vital to our state’s history and current function. Conflicts of interest are inherent in the way we do business, but a conflict is not synonymous with impropriety. The state constitution deals with the issue in Article 3 Section 12 where it prohibits state legislators from having an interest in any contract with the state authorized by any law passed during their term. That makes sense; you can’t authorize a contract or appropriate money for your own gain. However, in our legislature, farmers vote on ag issues; teachers vote on educational issues; bankers vote on banking issues; and so on. We expect them to and we have the choice to remove them if they abuse their power.
Typically, conflict of interest issues rise to the level of impropriety when a public official uses his or her office for personal gain or benefit. Councilor Karsky has noted that he would be willing to recuse himself from votes that affect the Chamber specifically. While a noble thing to do, that’s probably not even necessary. But, to maintain that an improper conflict of interest exists whenever a Chamber member has an issue before the Council and Councilor Karsky votes on it is not just a stretch, it’s somewhat laughable.
The only thing that is laughable is how Dean’s position on the Chamber Board is defended, in an email from the Chamber, not from the city attorney’s office. Secondly, this is more about ethical behavior not if what Dean is doing is legal or not, it is perfectly legal in South Dakota to be unethical. We expect our public officials to have integrity, by serving on both boards, it shows Karsky lacks integrity and the ethics to serve the public. I would much rather he resigned from the city council, the Chamber can have him. But if you do keep him on the board, you should probably try to spell his name correctly. Heck you figured out how to spell mine.
It’s okay to lie about being ethical, because I own goats.
Last night I handed out the below verbage during public testimony. It was concerning Dean Karsky and his dual membership to the city council and Chamber board of directors. Dean did not recuse himself from voting on any of the items, he just sat there. He didn’t even ask a city attorney (the main one was absent) if he should recuse himself. Apparently Dean just lied to the Ethics Commission about recusing himself from voting on Chamber related items.
Tuesday November 4, 2014
Recently Council Chair Dean Karsky attended an Ethics Commission meeting to ask them if it was okay for him to serve on the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. They said it would be okay because Dean proposed he would ‘recuse’ himself from voting on any agenda items that are directly related with the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce. The Ethics Commission agreed with Dean’s proposal.
Tonight I submit to you several agenda items that Council Chair & Chamber Board of Directors Member Dean Karsky should recuse himself from due to conflicts of interest with Members of the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce. By voting to allow Chamber members to do business with the city you could assume a conflict of interest because Councilor Karsky could give an unfair advantage to Chamber members versus non-members.
The concerning items are as follows;
Item 1) Approval of contracts, several Chamber Members are getting contract approvals with the city. They include; Infrastructure Design Group, Inc., Sayre Associates, Inc., Vision Video Interactive, LLC, Stockwell Engineers, Inc., Short-Elliott-Hendrickson, Inc., Soukup Construction, Inc., Thompson Electric Company, Friessen Construction Co., Inc., and several other snowplow contractors.
Item 2) Change Orders. Chamber Members include; First Rate Excavate, Inc., Beck & Hofer Construction, Inc., Krier & Blain, Inc.
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