Entries Tagged 'Developers' ↓

Mayor Huether will own the Administration Building, and we will be paying for it (and so will he)

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Another leader that did whatever he wanted to. Gaius Caligula, son of Germanicus, nephew of Claudius, AD 37-41.

I think this quote from Steve Hildebrand says it the best when it comes to the mayor’s leadership style (also, vote in the poll);

“This is typical Mike being pigheaded and doing what he wants to do,” said downtown business owner and political consultant Steve Hildebrand, an outspoken critic of the bond ordinance. “It’s another deal where he wants his name on the building to say he got things done, but they haven’t looked closely at what city government expansion will look like.”

Before I lay out what I think of the situation, I encourage you to watch the full press conference first (CLICK HERE). I say this, because too often people start commenting here before they watch a press conference or educate themselves on an issue. I’m not saying you are ignorant, but please, before you argue for or against the project, watch and listen to the mayor’s own words.

Okay, now put the popcorn away. There are so many holes in his pro argument I don’t know where to begin, so if I seem like I am rambling, I may well be.

To answer the overwhelming question about whether or not there will be a petition drive and initiative to stop this. Not sure yet. We are weighing our options and what legal assistance we can get. So far, city attorney Fiddle-Faddle has told councilors that it is not an option, due to some rule or law he pulled from the netherlands. The mayor also has said in his interview with Stu Whitney that he got the three NO vote councilors (Kiley, Rolfing, Erpenbach) on board with him before he vetoed the repeal. Ironically playing games behind closed doors, the same thing he accused the five YES vote councilors of doing before the vote.

As for those three who voted NO to the repeal, I find it ironic that they are the same councilors who never return phone calls to constituents, yet somehow have a pulse on our community enough to go ahead with this project. It is hilarious to watch these clowns tripping over their rubber stamps while shutting off their phones.

But besides these fly by night councilors, who really owns this project? Mayor Huether does. If I were consulting him for higher office, I would have told him to not touch this VETO with a ten foot pole, instead he took it on and hung it around his neck like a yolk, and further more laughed about writing VETO on the ordinance in Fiddle-Faddle’s office. Like “Ha! Ha! City council and citizens, here’s my middle finger, suck it!” How can a guy go from almost choking up and crying about the sacrifice of city employees (they have’t sacrificed anything, just followed your orders) to laughing about screwing over his legislative branch and growing government to the detriment of citizens? Not sure if Huether is seeing a therapist, but if he is, I hope he is paying them enough to see a therapist after your sessions with him.

But enough of my editorializing. There were many missteps by the mayor, his administration, directors and precious employees (those are actually OUR employees, not his, we pay their wages, and his job is to ‘manage’ them, not force them into positions.)

The mayor’s stretches on this issue;

• We have a low debt load. Not really. But even if we could afford to borrow the money for the building, why would we? Besides what the mayor says, we don’t need a NEW building. We could buy existing buildings, we could refurbish existing city buildings, like we did with city hall. We have other options that the mayor claims we explored, we did not. Why not have city employees that don’t interact with the public work from home? Why not increase technology to lower our number of city employees we need?

• Leasing hurts us. Not really. When you look at a $1 million a year mortgage for an unfinished building (it will cost us more in the future) leasing is actually a great idea, that saves us money and is good for the economy. There is NOTHING in charter that says we need to have a certain amount of employees and certain amount of work space for them. NOTHING. High ceilings and air quality is poppycock made up by the mayor and his minions. People are trampling over each other to have a government job that pays decent, has great benefits and retirement, and you can shirk all of your work off on consultants. Councilor Neitzert pointed this out the best during the discussion. We don’t have a recruiting problem, that is a fantasy.

• Officials are elected to get things done. Partially true. We elect them to serve us. That could mean building admin buildings, pools and entertainment complexes, it also could mean we ask them to hold the brakes on such projects. Huether’s delusional notion of ‘getting things done’ doesn’t always mean building structures and increasing debt, it could also mean restraint which takes vision. Salesmen don’t have vision, they live for the day, don’t care about history or the future. Huether has proven this with his statements about how long this project has been discussed.

• We have been discussing space needs since Munson. Probably true. I’m sure every mayor has talked about it. But let’s present a real time line. The admin building discussion was collecting dust in the mayor’s drawer while he hammered home spending reserves and borrowed levee money on an indoor pool. The perfect capital to spend on an admin building, but he squandered it on a building that will never break even or run in the black. It would have been the perfect opportunity to bring up this ‘NEED’ but instead his selfishness and love of special interest club sports prevailed. So now he wants us to BOND for a need. Typical of a subprime credit card salesman (not a banker). He also claims this building was talked about more then the Events Center and Indoor Pool. That statement alone is so laughable that he should have been wearing a clown hat and squirting the crowd with seltzer water while saying it.

• The administration building will spur economic development. No building in government has done such a thing unless you are a courthouse in a county seat the size of the wart on my finger.

• The previous council supported the building. Flat out lie. Which has been pointed out several times by the media, but Mr. Pants on Fire can’t help himself from repeating it several times. It was a tie vote TWICE by the previous council to stop this train wreck and the mayor broke the tie.

• We have had professionals work on this project. You mean the professional who designed the bouncing balcony at the Pavilion and the bent up siding at the Events Center which resulted in a settlement? Why would we continue to hire someone that is detrimental to the taxpayers? Time to cut the apron strings.

Huether proved today just how out of touch he is with voters and his city council. He is living in la-la land, and if he thinks this kind of behavior will bode well in a statewide race*, he has a rude awakening coming. So laugh about signing vetoes in the city attorney’s office while eating carmel corn and peanuts, because at the end of 2018, you will be ‘truly’ crying something other then crocodile tears while sitting on the dock of your ‘lake’ home.

*I have already heard of two prominent Democrats that would run against him in a gubernatorial primary.

Hidden Hills apartments ‘Affordable’?

Remember when the developers of Hidden Hills were asking for special funding from the feds and TIFs to build four blocks of block like apartments on North Cliff? $680 a month is NOT affordable housing. If you were lucky enough to make a living wage as a single person in Sioux Falls, you would have to work a week and half to just pay the rent (no utilities included. Let’s say you make $12 an hour, you would have to work 2 weeks to just pay the rent. Sorry folks, this is NOT affordable housing. The property tax payers of this town were duped again.

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Mayor Huether will probably veto admin building repeal

During Dem Forum today, he brought up the administration building and the importance of the proposed structure, he also ‘claimed’ the last council approved the bonding of the facility. That is not true, it was a 4-4 tie with him being the tie-breaker.

After his words today, I suspect he will veto the repeal.

He also told councilors Neitzert and Stehly that were in attendance today that they need to learn how to work together as a team . . .

In the dark of the night?

Will Huether veto the admin repeal in the dark of the night, or is he really taking his time to decide whether or not he wants to waste his political capital on a veto? He could also be just dragging his feet to as close to the October due date so the council couldn’t try to stop it again;

On Wednesday, Huether issued a statement saying he will hold off on responding to that vote, though he did not give a specific timeline.

Huether said he “recognizes the interest and importance of the project and also celebrates the due diligence and sacrifice put forth by the city’s project team and the city council.”

Don’t expect a press conference either way.

Sioux Falls City Council repeals admin building bond, 5-3, mayor could still veto

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Just another echo chamber . . .

My guess is the mayor will veto the decision purely on arrogance and ego, I hope I am wrong.

What was incredibly ridiculous was the testimony supporting the facility.

A city director felt we needed the new building so he didn’t have to fear urine coming through his current city hall office in the basement.

Another guy testified about America being a great country, so we needed the building.

Erpenbach said city employees need natural light and she works 40 hours a week in a cubicle farm (yet didn’t say anything about quitting her job because of it).

Kiley said it was about his children and things will get more expensive (yeah, Rick, that’s called inflation). It won’t get a penny more expensive if you don’t build it at all, just saying.

Bob Winkels (who used to own his own architecture firm, and now is in charge of Sanford’s expansion that is destroying affordable housing in central Sioux Falls) claimed that the general public didn’t understand ‘conflict of interest’ when it came to the contractors, explaining that renovation costs more (which can be true). What he failed to point out is that the contractors were hired to build a new building, not to renovate. So if they build the new building they will make X amount of dollars, if they choose to buy the 300 building and renovate they make $0. Bob, kind of sounds like a conflict of interest to me.

Rex Rolfing cut off public testimony of Tim Stanga, because he was offended.

Mayor Mike’s BFF, Augie President Rob Oliver was rambling about something he doesn’t quite understand, but he says he likes to build new buildings for Augie (but had no problem with taking a used building-the Arena-for a new basketball stadium).

I testified about the hypocrisy of this debate that the building has been discussed for 10 years, yet no one brought it up when building the new aquatic center and the funding for that building.

How to Bash a Building, July 12, 2016

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This is an instructional video for all to learn how to destroy a career with one project. We learn how a reasonably respected building designer can compromise everything in a classic business as usual scenario. The only problem is the Sioux Falls City Council is not running in the old business as usual mode any longer.

On July 12, 2016 the City Council convened for the Tuesday Informational to discuss the disgustingly biased report done by the “consultants” hired by the city to give a “fair” evaluation of the condition of the 300 Building opened in 1971. After the Informational was done, we had to go there for a real tour to see if the consultants were even close to being unbiased. They weren’t looking at the same building we saw.

The city staff should be brought up on ethics charges for the job they tried to do on the reputation of this building designed to last a lot longer than the one the designer wants to build. The 300 Building in downtown Sioux Falls was built to federal government specifications to last forever.

As you watch our video, notice how the presenters work to reinforce the concept of conflict of interest. How’s the search for new ethical members of the that certain board coming along? They may be tested.

With our trusty tape measure in one hand and our handicam in the other we tour the 300 Building and find many irregularities in the submitted report. The staff and consultants should be ashamed of themselves.

Prominent Developer in Sioux Falls sends an email to city councilors ‘whining’ about how he has been treated by the Mayor and the Development Office

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The wife of the developer and the mayor having an ‘engaging conversation’ in HyVee’s parking lot (Wednesday morning, 7-13-2016). When was the email sent to councilors? About 2 PM, that same day.

I won’t publish the entire email diatribe from the developer, his name, or the project he refers to, but I will give you some highlights of this seemingly ‘staged’ email.

“The administration eventually conceded that they could provide up to $15 million in bonding authority but “not a penny more”. On December 21, 2015 the City and the 2 private partners received the preliminary budget from — —- Construction. The — —- — structure was estimated to cost $17.3 million . . . . However instead of revising their budget to reflect this new reality the administration insisted that they would require the private sector to give them at least $2 million of the proposed private TIF which left us short by the same amount.”

He was basically saying the project cost jumped $2 million from what was originally proposed by the city, and they were not going to include that extra amount in the TIF. But where the email gets interestingly faux is towards the end;

“For the next 3 months the community develop office worked diligently with us to identify other sources of financing and or grants. We even attempted to find HUD affordable housing funds to help offset the joint budget shortfall.  At that point in late March the Mayor weighed in and decided that any additional monies needed to help offset the budget shortfall was considered “corporate welfare” and asked us to terminate the negotiations immediately.”

Corporate Welfare?! HUD Money?! LMAO! First off, the mayor is the queen of corporate welfare, this is the same guy who gave his tennis center $500K and then slapped his name on it and blockaded the parking lot. Secondly, HUD money for this project IS NOT EVEN REMOTELY AN OPTION!

“As I read this I realize it sounds as though I am whining. And yes I will admit there is a little bit in here. We, as developers, know the risks that every project may not work just like we thought going into it. But I think it is important for you all as policy makers to know the facts of what actually happened and not be swayed by current requests and excuses for an increase in budget. This project is too important for the future of —- to let politics get in the way of it succeeding. Thanks for letting me vent a little and feel free to contact me if you need any more additional information.”

While I will say, he is probably telling the truth about the process and numbers in his email, saying he is whining, is laying it on a bit thick. When on God’s green earth has a prominent developer in Sioux Falls given a rat’s behind about what the council thinks? They have always taken the back door approach through the administration and his minions in the development and planning offices.

Not sure what is cooking, but I suspect the mayor has a few of his ingredients in this stew.

Absurd, Ridiculous and Unethical

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That’s sure nice of Mr. Fox to be watching over us.

I suppose I could come up with a few more words to describe the recent ‘review’ of the 300 Building, but I think we will just start with those three. Having the EXACT team of private developers/contactors that was assembled to build a proposed NEW city administration building do the review of the viability of the 300 building is, well, a gigantic conflict of interest. But where it gets ridiculous is when the director of Central Services says they only used blueprints to determine it wasn’t viable. Huh? It would be like buying a used home based on the same thing. A walk through and home inspection usually occurs on said property. But what is even more absurd is the notion that a ‘third party consultant’ looked at the review the conflict of interest contractors put together and they agreed with it. But we have to leave that ‘national’ consultant ‘anon’ to protect their reputation. WTH? If they have a great reputation they should stand behind the review. Most likely this imaginary consultant doesn’t exist and their report was filed in the same place the event center siding report was. Never-Neverland.

As I was driving by city hall late this morning I noticed a person from the ‘review’ committee leaving city hall with a big binder in their hand, dress rehearsal for Tuesday’s informational meeting must of wrapped up early.

Whether you are for a new building, remodeling an existing building or against the project all together isn’t the issue here, the issue is the conflicts and the ethics (or lack thereof). Just look what the review contractors have made so far and what they are set to be paid if they build the NEW building;

Koch Hazard (Architect)

Phase 1 – $85,000 already paid

Phase 2 – 4.85% of the Cost of Work – as defined in 6.1 total cost to the owner to construct all elements of the project and shall include Construction Manager’s general condition costs, fee, and contingency.

*We also reimburse all out of pocket expenses for the contractor (no markup)

PHASE 2 COMPENSTATION: 21.9 million dollars (project cost) * .0485 = $1,062,000 (NOT COUNTING REIMBURSEMENTS FOR OOP)

Henry Carlson (CMAR):

Phase 1 – $43,288 already paid

Phase 2 – Construction phase – 3.5% of the cost of the work including the construction manager’s contingency, general conditions, and work in the GMP – this is the construction manager’s fee

PHASE 2 COMPENSATION: 21.9 million dollars (project cost) *.035 = $766,500

Of course they don’t support remodeling the 300 building, how much more blatant and rigged could we get? It seems if it was not for public projects, Koch Hazard would be out of business these days. Not only should the presentation of the review NOT be allowed on Tuesday, an ethics complaint should be filed against the director(s) that made such an ignorant decision, and if it was at the directive of the mayor, he should be brought up on ethics violations also.

Not only is city government getting more predictable, they are getting blatantly ridiculous at the same time.

McKennan Park House trial comes to a close

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I’m not sure how Judge Pekas will rule in the case, it’s complicated with several parties and facets involved, but if I had to rule, it would be simple.

The house is NOT up to code and needs to be altered, moved, or torn down. Allowing it to stay in its current condition would set a precedent for all historic neighborhood associations in Sioux Falls. I would also split the cost of bringing it up to code between the city and the family that built it, and their general contractor. I don’t believe the McDowells, the original architect or the historic board share any guilt.

In all fairness, it is really the city’s (building services department) fault for not inspecting and giving proper permits, but as homeowners you do share a certain responsibility to make sure things are done right. It’s not like the Sapienzas are a couple of twits, she works as a pediatric surgeon with a resume longer then the Book of Morman. Not sure what Mr. Sapienzas does, but he seems to be very knowledgeable in the ancient Asian art of Feng Shui. (I found it ironic, because he was concerned about northern negative energy. Want to bring on some negative energy? Piss off your neighbors.)

It’s unfortunate in this case that east coast elitism wasn’t against the law, because the Sapienzas would be spending time in prison. Claiming you are building your home based on a strange combination of Philly building codes and Asian architecture isn’t a real good defense in good old podunk Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“Yo, Adrian! We should make the house a little taller so we don’t receive a left hook from Apollo Feng Shui.”

As for the look of the house, as an artist, I would say it would look fantastic sitting on an oversized prairie lot in the country. In the crowded historic neighborhood of McKennan Park, I will say it is too tall, and the color, egg salad yellow. Ick. Not sure if they use this saying in Philly, but ‘two pounds of shit in a one pound bag’ seems appropriate in this case.

I often tell people that just because someone is rich doesn’t mean they can buy class or taste. The Sapienzas proved that if anything in the trial. The next time our fine mayor has a press conference about ‘bad neighbors’ he needs to place the podium in front of their house, I couldn’t find a more fitting place.

HUGE FAIL! $27 million Federal tax dollars and rail traffic in Downtown Sioux Falls will remain almost the same

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The cold hard truth about the RR relocation project

Yesterday at the informational meeting there was an update on the RR relocation project. And while the switching yard will move outside of town (that is why we are getting ten acres of land) it was confirmed by planning staff that rail traffic will remain ‘almost’ the same.

I guess when the environmental study was done, BNSF explained that while the longer trains will not be switching cars for smaller deliveries downtown anymore with Eastern and Ellis, that those deliveries will still have to be made Downtown. Planning described it as ‘Smaller trains, but more frequent traffic’.

I went to the city council meeting last night, and during public input I expressed my disappointment in how this project has really changed from its original intent, which was to close the switching yard downtown AND reduce rail traffic. In fact, it could get worse with more frequent train traffic.

Not sure where the train went off the tracks with this project (no pun intended) but it seems the feet dragging and delay after Huether took office may have affected the final result. It was no secret that Huether was cock blocking the project so talk of an Events Center downtown could be quelled. The ten acres would have made a perfect spot for a parking lot for a downtown EC. In fact many still burning from the sting of that whole fiasco have argued that is all that property is good for, besides a public park. As I expressed last night, you won’t be able to build residential, and retail may be questionable also. Besides the noise of the more frequent trains running along the development land, the close proximity to the river could flood the Southern edge of the development. There has been talk about making the area a ‘quiet zone’ which requires crossbars on the street, but as I have understood Federal law on that, there will still have to be some kind of (audio) warning system in place. And even if the whistles are NOT blowing the rattle and clank of trains is loud enough.

Of course all of my whining really is coming to late. Our media really failed pointing out the reality of this project, the only journalist willing to say anything in agreement with me is Johnathan Ellis, and he gets chided for it.

This project is a HUGE FAIL for Federal Tax payers, a HUGE FAIL for downtown commuters and soon it will become a HUGE FAIL for local tax payers once we will be all standing around holding the bag for a piece of property we paid $27 million for that at most, probably will sell for around $4-5 million, AFTER we clean it up.

This is prime example of how pathetic government can really be with our money.