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.
A City Council candidate is getting campaign support from the official she hopes to succeed.
City Councilman Kermit Staggers opted not to seek re-election for the at-large seat he’s held since 2012 due to a series of health issues that have plagued him of late. But the veteran policymaker isn’t done trying to influence city politics.
Community activist Theresa Stehly, one of three vying for Staggers’ open seat, this week sent out mailers to 10,000 households showcasing the endorsement her candidacy has received from Staggers, a veteran policymaker who’s spent decades in public office, including 12 years on the Sioux Falls City Council.
“I know (Stehly) is a person of real integrity, hard-working and wants to do the best thing she can for the citizens of Sioux Falls,” Staggers said Tuesday.
Staggers worked with Stehly in the lead up to the 2014 vote when residents mandated the use of snow gates. Stehly said she and Staggers have been allies for more than 10 years.
“Kermit has been one of the few elected officials I’ve ever known who’s been able to keep the hooks of special interest out of his skin,” she said.
Theresa was also the exclusive speaker today at a meeting of the Sioux Falls Retired Teachers Association, about 40 teachers were in attendance.
Kermit told me this afternoon that he will not be seeking a second term. His health and well being is taking precedent. I wish him the best in his (brief?) retirement from SD politics, he will truly be missed.
Ayn Bird made a brief update message to a large interest Carnegie Town Hall meeting room crowd of reporters, potential candidates and of course the mayor. Kermit has been experiences health issues for the last few months creating a political buzz.
The Staggers family marched in, Ayn gave her message and they left immediately leaving a stunned news starved group. It actually was very much like many city hall pressers we have been attending, give the release and rush out of the room. This time it was the mayor stumbling for words and looking for answers.
UPDATE: As I suspected, Kermit’s family said they will be working through his health issues as he continues to serve on the council. Time to move along to other important business concerning our city.
Here are the actual charter rules for attendance. In all reality if Kermit only showed up to 3 more meetings he would be in compliance. But how can we expect the rest of the council understand their own charter? (DOC: Council Meetings
Kermit’s family will be making a statement. It is at Carnegie Town Hall.
My assumption is they will be speaking about his recent health issues and finishing his term as a councilor (which ends this Spring in a few months).
I have NO doubt in my mind he will finish his term out successfully and tackle his health problems. As for running for another term, I am not sure of.
Kermit has been a strong voice for the people, and agree or disagree with him, you will have to admit that the man has been dedicated to public service most of his life. He served as an Air Force intelligence officer, a state legislator and a 3 term city councilor.
I hope that the remaining city councilors and the mayor give him the respect and the space to finish his probable final term in public service gracefully. I know he would do the same for any of them if they were in the same boat.
As for his (well excused) absence, I could go on and on about the meetings the other councilors have missed over their terms to go on exotic vacations, visit their vacation homes in Florida or to leave early to see a rock concert. There must be respect amongst peers, and I hope they show Kermit that respect.
I don’t think I am the only one who has noticed that the Senior member of the Sioux Falls City council, Dr. Staggers, has been taking a drumming from several of his peers at meetings, one in particular is always telling citizens about ‘decorum’ at the meetings and chastising them about wearing hats and the way they talk about public officials at public input. Well this is a little excerpt I think they should all read before the next meeting about the way they are treating Kermit during a public meeting.
You have to remember, Kermit has been doing this longer then any of them, including the mayor, and before that in the State Legislature, Kermit has developed a method of questioning public officials that sometimes can be effective. Let him ask his questions, you may learn something.
Nothing stands to ruin an organization’s spirit and sense of group pride quicker than an acrimonious debate. When debate gets heated and personal, good members quit, and the antagonists generally don’t have what it takes to keep the organization going.
Nobody likes acrimony, and nothing need keep you from having a spirited debate while still keeping discussion focused on the issues. The following list contains some points to keep in mind when the soup gets thick at meetings where you talk about a dues increase or what to do with a budget surplus:
Listen to the other side. You expect the presiding officer to protect your right to speak even if it turns out that you’re a minority of one. You also expect the other members to hear you out and to allow you the same time as everybody else to get in your two cents’ worth. Give your fellow members their rightful turn. Listen to them — you may hear something that affects the way you think.
Focus on issues, not personalities. It’s best to just stick to the issues. You may disagree with the point, but you won’t feel personally attacked if everyone sticks to the issues.
Avoid questioning motives. It’s not a good idea to say, “Mr. Chairman, the dweeb who just spoke is obviously trying to raise the salary of the executive director because he wants to get the director fired and hire his own brother-in-law.”
The dweeb may, in fact, be glad to see the director go, and he may indeed be working to set up a raise for the next employee, hoping it’s his brother-in-law. But when you’re in the meeting, express your opinion based on the proposal’s merits. Try saying, “Raising the salary of the executive director is unwise at this time because we haven’t yet completed the assessment of a performance review.”
Address remarks through the chair. One of the ways things can deteriorate quickly is by forgetting the rule that requires you to address the chair, not a member directly, during debate.
Use titles, not names. Things are more likely to stay impersonal if you avoid using names during debate. Refer to “the secretary” instead of “George.” Refer to “The member who offered the motion” rather than “Myrtle.” It feels a bit formal, but the idea is to keep the focus on issues, not individuals.
Be polite. Don’t get the floor and start reading some paper, don’t argue with the presiding officer except by legitimate appeal, and don’t do anything that otherwise disturbs the assembly.
Michelle (a Democrat) Erpenbach seems to be concerned about councilors serving as party precinct peeps (mainly because they are not serving in her respective party), she says it is a matter of ‘council ethics’.
But the city’s Board of Ethics has determined, along with City Attorney Dave Pfeifle, that while the courts have held that the exercise of sovereign power generally refers to someone serving in some legislative or policy-making capacity for a sovereign government, a precinct officer in a political party wouldn’t meet that definition.
So it doesn’t violate the letter of the city charter.
But there’s this Canon of Ethics created by the council that is meant to govern members’ conduct. Right now that canon says councilors have a civil responsibility to support good government by all ethical and legal means.
For Erpenbach, that means staying clear of any hint of political involvement.
“Our charter says we run as nonpartisan candidates,” she said. “When I go door to door, and people ask me if I’m Republican or Democrat, I tell them I am running for a nonpartisan seat.
“Now we’re having this discussion. I do not understand how you can be so active in your political party politics and still be nonpartisan.”
Where does that line ‘Hint’ at political party involvement? Basically what she is saying is that if you are a registered Democrat or Republican and you vote in your respective party’s primaries, you are practicing partisanship as a sitting council member. I know, laughable at best.
Erpenbach isn’t going to vote for it. “Our Canon of Ethics gets to the idea of service,” she said. “It’s really about citizens’ expectations about what they want from the people on the council. … and that is providing equal access to everyone.”
She ‘howls’ about partisanship and ethics but says nothing about the MONSTER conflict of interest Karsky has with the Chamber, and the ethics of him sitting as a board member that does mountains of business with the city. Let’s talk about the equal access of citizens and NON-Chamber members when it comes to councilor Karsky, that is a discussion I would LOVE to have.
Kermit of course blows off Michelle’s silliness, confessing it really isn’t a big deal;
“A precinct committee member, at least in the Republican Party, we don’t do a whole lot but go to conventions. We select people to run for constitutional offices. It’s a nice time,” he said.
Kermit, kind of sounds like your Republicans are ‘Rock’in It’!
Councilor Kermit L. Staggers gave a presentation on the conference that he attended in Denver, Colorado, in September. He shares a ton of great information about modern public transportation. The review focused on three key presentations. He was assisted by Elijah Byrd, his grandson, who was instrumental in preparing the presentation.
Wonder if the ‘Austin Texas Four’ (councilors) are going to do a presentation on their trip, where it required four of them to attend. I also don’t remember the council voting on authorizing that trip, or heck, even a mention of it.
Love all the questions they asked Kermit after his presentation. I guess it was so thorough, no questions were required 🙂
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