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.
Rob has accomplished a lot as Augie president. He could easily run for political office, and win. At 62, he could be weighing running for office as something to cross off his bucket list. Many retired people in high stature careers decide they want to serve the public after their successful private careers. More power to them.
Is Rob considering a mayoral run in 2018? Not sure, you would have to ask him. But there are some interesting factors if he decides to run.
It is no secret that Rob Oliver is close friends with Mayor Mike Huether, they are probably besties. That being said, an endorsement from Mike and even getting him to help with a mayoral campaign would be beneficial to him. I have always said Mike’s biggest accomplishment is getting elected after being a virtual nobody. Oliver isn’t a nobody and well known in the community. With the help of Huether he could be a real contender.
There is also the factor if Mayor Huether runs for governor or another higher office. He has hinted recently on the Greg Belfrage show that he may become an independent. It is no secret that Joe Lowe and Jeff Barth are seriously considering running on the Democratic ticket. It is also no secret that Jackley and Mickelson have already organized their campaign camps on the Republican side.
So what about the Huether camp? If he decides to run, will he want to challenge Lowe and Barth or go it alone as an independent?
The more I watch Huether over the past few months, it seems to me he isn’t running for higher office. I think he has loved being mayor, and wants to be mayor again. So how does he accomplish that? The rumor floating around is that since Mike is term limited, he couldn’t run again for 4 years, and he may be looking for a ‘place holder’ to run. That could be a lot of people. Anderson is seriously considering a run, Oliver could run and even Jim Entenman has been mentioned.
I’m not sure what Mike has planned, as a huge anti-transparency politician, he keeps his cards close, but some people close to him have mentioned to me, he may not be interested in the governorship.
Time will tell I guess because there is also the Noem factor. Maybe the secret is written on the tyvek behind the bent up siding on the Events Center? Now that is a conspiracy theory you can fun with.
I will be the first to say I don’t always agree with decisions commissioner Heiberger makes, and sometimes she isn’t real big on transparency, BUT what I can see, as chair of the commission, she runs a tight ship when it comes to meetings.
If you ever watch the meetings, as I do, one thing that often stands out is that Cindy runs the meetings with a high level of decorum and professionalism. She is often polite, respectful and thankful of input, whether that comes from her peers, directors or the public. In fact she often disagrees and weighs in just as much as her peers.
Besides the fact that Cindy runs a smooth ship, most of the time, it is not an easy feat, there is a Hell of a lot more ruckus that goes on at these meetings then the city council meetings. Many of the commissioners ask tough questions of their directors and staff, and if those answers are not kosher, they let them have it. Barth and Kelly are the most vocal, but Beninga, Bender and Heiberger have also chimed in when they think they are being buffaloed by staff or the public.
Cindy lets them rant, she also thanks them when they are done, even if she doesn’t agree. That’s called ‘decorum’ folks. Cindy understands that in government not everything is a rubber stamp and a bed of roses, there has to be uncomfortable discussion, there has to be debate and sometimes that is ruffling feathers. She allows it at her meetings, because I believe she knows it is important. I have been watching the meetings regularly over the past two years, while Cindy has raised her voice a few times and has asked people to calm down, she has NEVER gaveled her fellow peers and freaked out like a monkey banging a drum, and trust me I have seen over 20 rants between Barth and Kelly over the past couple of years that were way more uncomfortable and controversial then a prepared statement by Stehly. But guess what, they haven’t had ethics violations lobbed at them, because they have a right as elected officials to have these rants, we expect it from them.
As I have said, if Rolfing would have just let Stehly speak, it would have all been over in a few minutes, with practically no drama. Maybe Rex could mentor Cindy for a few meetings and learn something about representative government and how to run a meeting.
These are the questions Jeff planned to ask Auditor Litz in the last County Commission meeting until the discussion got diverted;
Please consider giving specific and complete answers to these questions during the “election review” agenda item on November 18. My hope is that we can proceed in a calm, deliberative manner.
In the run up to the General Election two incorrect absentee ballots were discovered mailed to a relative and a friend of a Legislator. Rather than creating a potential political dustup I took those ballots to you quietly, asked you to fix them and to audit your ballot inventory to assure me that correct ballots were going to the correct voter.
When I asked you about incorrect absentee ballots during the Canvass on November 7 you responded that there “were only two of them” and that you “took care of them”. When pressed you ignored the issue.
Then on November 12 you told KELO TV that there were twenty incorrect absentee ballots.
1) Were there two or twenty incorrect absentee ballots?
2) Did you know election night that these wrong absentee ballots were coming in?
3) Is twenty the exact number or a general approximation?
4) If the issue was voters putting the ballot in a wrong ballot box how could that happen with absentee ballots?
5) The counting machines have a printer attachment that notes when it reads an error on a ballot. What do the machines say?
In the 2014 City Election wrong ballots were mailed out on absentee requests. When candidate Rebecca Dunn brought two of the erroneous ballots to your attention you threatened legal action against her. You then blamed the Secretary of State for corrupting your data base.
1) How many incorrect absentee ballots were counted in the City Election?
2) In a related matter, how many wrong ballots were handed out at the “Voting Centers”?
In the June “General Election Primary” wrong ballots were again mailed out. You accepted responsibility for printing wrong ballots and again pointed at data base issues. Going forward from there you tasked your staff with correcting the database before the November election.
1) How many incorrect absentee ballots were cast in the Primary?
2) Were you able to recall all the “printing error” ballots that were sent out?
These absentee ballot issues are 100% human error. Elections are a sacred responsibility given to our county. We must do better.
Thanks, Jeff Barth
There was some other confusion. Precinct 3-12 cast votes in Legislative District 9 and 11. It is not listed as a precinct in District 11 but if you go to the SDSOS website the results show Tom Cool won that precinct 6-5. Another reason folks are confused.
I have been noticing several reader comments on media websites (that I assume are plants by Republicant’s trying to dis-credit Robinson’s campaign). So I set the record straight tonight while attending a Minnehaha County Democratic fundraiser at the Falls Overlook Cafe. Sorry, I am a little hazy, I had a couple of glasses of Moscato at the event (and I thought they only served kool-aid at Republican events, my bad).
I asked Corinna if she was running (after telling her the rumors swirling around). She said definately, in fact she already has a West River and an East River director working for her (I met the East River fella tonight) and she plans to make the big announcement in January sometime.
So detractors, knock it off already.
While I am not sure if I am totally sold on Corinna, I will say that the BS smear campaign on her is uncalled for. We know the real reason the SD GOP is swinging low and early, because when you match Corinna’s credentials with Noem’s, Noem’s campaign is quickly distracting the electorate with Mitchell hair, barrel roping stories, hoop earrings and mail order college degrees. If Noem is dumb enough to debate Robinson, Corinna will pound her into submission, I can’t wait for this matchup.
Other highlights of the event was meeting Democratic Candidate for Governor, Joe Lowe.
I am usually hard to impress when I first meet a political candidate, but not only is Joe intelligent, and has great economic, public safety, and leadership skills, he is very funny, incredibly funny. He shared many personal ‘war stories’ with GP and I about his employment with the state.
Rick Weiland also talked about the benefits of a buy-in to Medicare being offered to all citizens (woot-woot).
In other news, county commissioner Jeff Barth confessed to me he is NOT running for mayor.
And a chuckle for the night, I was looking for Mayor Huether to be at the event tonight. Not only Minnehaha county’s most powerful Democrat but the state’s most powerful Democrat, according to some peeps (sorry Bernie Hunhoff). But he was a no show. I didn’t ask anyone about it, but was offered the information from an attendee. I guess he didn’t attend because he believes the Jamison campaign has a ‘tracker’ on him. Luckily I wasn’t drinking my Moscato Kool-aid, because the person telling me would have been splattered with it. I do know that in Huether’s final ‘Listening and Learning’ session before the election that someone was doing an audio recording of the session, like it matters because you can listen to it here. But if that is what Paranoid Mike considers a tracker, I want to tell him there are bigger turds and tracks in the forrest to worry about.
And the final word on Jarding, get ready for this, No one knows what the heck he is running for. He is scheduled to teach classes next Spring at Harvard, so many are puzzled as to what he is up to.
I have thought about this for awhile. Have Jeff and I had our disagreements? Oh, yeah. But there is one thing I like about Barth, he speaks his mind, and believes what he believes. He is an Old Skool Democrat and liberal.
Someone asked me the other day, “Who has a better chance of beating Noem?” I said, Varilek of course, but let’s face the facts, neither one will be able to beat the Republican money machine and the West River podunks who love a congressperson in tight Wrangler jeans. I don’t want to see either Barth or Varilek in tight jeans, heck, I don’t even want to see them in a Snuggie. But I do want whoever runs against Noem to needle the heck out of her.
So why Jeff Barth?
Because he will truly question her on her record and won’t let her slither away. Varilek, not so much.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – A nonprofit that has provided a variety of programs to youth on South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Indian Reservation is set to establish an arts institute in 2017 that will provide the community greater access to traditional Lakota arts, fine art, and graffiti and street art. The institute is a project […]
PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota state officials are weighing in on the national health care debate. Gov. Dennis Daugaard, the Department of Social Services and the Division of Insurance provided input at the request of federal lawmakers this month on how Medicaid, insurance regulations and IHS can be improved. Gov. Daugaard laid out South Dakota’s […]