Entries Tagged 'Mayor TenHaken' ↓

Was Mayor TenHaken handed a turd sandwich?

While there are many things the PTH administration needs to work on within their own philosophies of leadership, I think Paul was handed a lot of problems caused by the last mayor and rubber stamp city council. Unfortunately he seems to be eating the sandwich and liking it. Here is a list of things Paul is battling on those fronts;

ROADS. Let’s face it, while the weather hasn’t been the best for our pothole situation, some question what progress was done over the past 9 years? When Munson left office, our roads rated 7 out of 10, when the last guy left, the rating was identical. There was NO progress made (I’ve even argued that neighborhood streets in central SF have gotten much worse). I have contended that it’s not just a matter of money, it’s a matter of engineering the streets better.

THE BIRDCAGE. This facility has been losing money for well over a decade, and it really is just a money pit. It’s time we bulldoze the facility and find a better use for the property. I think another hotel with retail center surrounding it would be the best use. As for a new baseball stadium, I think the big wheels in town can fund that on their own or they can play at Harmadon Park.

THE EVENTS CENTER MONEY VACUUM/CAMPUS CASASM. As I mentioned above with SF stadium, we have issues with the area, it simply was built in the wrong location. It’s easy for visitors to pop off the interstate, go straight to the show, and leave right afterwards. The approximately $55 million in sales at the facility last year go straight out the door to promoters, artists and other vendors without recirculating in our community. This needs to be addressed.

DOWNTOWN PARKING RAMP. This project is the mother load of sh*t sandwiches. Paul had the chance to halt the project before ground was even broken, but moved forward anyway. Now we are faced with the unknown of a possible lawsuit, a new developer and RFP and Gawd knows what else. The administration should really be OPEN and TRANSPARENT about the process. I know they are acting like they don’t want to scare off the developer, but last I checked that may not be such a bad idea. If someone doesn’t have the money, that means they don’t have the money. It would be like feeling guilty for NOT giving a lazy panhandler money.

BUILDING COLLAPSE. The city really should have done their own investigation of this disaster. Furthermore, PTH doesn’t seem to concerned about it either. Not only should there have been an independent investigation by the State’s Attorney’s office, but there should have been a full audit of the building services department for ignoring repeated complaints about what was going on there. The illegal asbestos removable should have been the first red flag.

TRANSPARENCY. Speaking of the DT Parking Ramp fiasco, the last administration ran city hall like a cold war dictatorship. While Paul has been trying different things with getting more information out to the public, it’s very select, and the important things are still done behind closed doors, something we like to call ‘smoke and mirrors’. Sorry, Paul, we learned all the tricks from Bowlcut, they are NOT going to work this time around.

RAILROAD REDEVELOPMENT. This of course was the worst negotiated deal in the history of the city. Just the other day, after giving BNSF millions for land that Federal taxpayers essentially owned anyway in easements and reversion rights, the State has to take them to court over a $50K piece of land. Paul needs to cut the city’s losses on this banana shaped plot and sell it to the highest bidder ASAP.

ADMINISTRATION BUILDING. What did we say all along? We didn’t need the extra space. In fact, after building the new City Center we are finding out we have so much space that we are putting the IT department there and clearing out an entire city building for the Triage Center. Don’t get me wrong, the Triage Center is a worthy cause, but the taxpayers are really being taken to the cleaners on the city center and we still haven’t heard whether or not we are footing the bill for the defunct HVAC system.

MIDCO AQUATIC CENTER. Still not really at capacity, and worse yet, customer service reports from the facility are less then favorable. This will be another money pit for years to come. If I was PTH I would try to sell the facility to a private organization and wash our hands of it. Maybe the VA would be interested, they already own the land . . .

MASSIVE FLOODING. We know how the last guy thought about massive growth and development. If it was up to him he would have paved the entire city including all the public parks. Paul needs to slow this down, it is resulting in a lot of pavement and very little runoff and drainage. The action they are taking in the Rose/Lotta neighborhood is a good move, but more needs to be done by dedicating more of the 2nd Penny to drainage upgrades.

Like I said, Paul was really handed a plate of poo, but besides trying to re-polish it, he really isn’t tamping out the fires of closed government and corruption, but if you looked at his campaign donor list, you would know why. Follow the money folks.

UPDATE: Mayor TenHaken ‘slipped in’ the State Theatre in his SOC address

He didn’t mention any numbers, but he made it clear he wanted it to open within the year. I’m sure it will buried in his proposed budget and the city council will have no choice but to pull it and amend it if they don’t want it. I call it ‘sneaky budgeting’.

He did have some other important things in his presentation. Not sure what a ‘Dream’ website is all about? Just more web marketing mumble jumble.

I’m not sure how this it was any different then having it at Carnegie. The crowd actually looked a little light. Bowlcut used to have PP presentations also and managed just fine. I guess I would also start doing the SOC at 6 or 7 PM so working people can tune in.

UPDATE: PTH also said he wants to rebrand the city’s logo so that all the different organizations associated with the city like the Chamber, Forward SF, Development foundation, etc, have a similar ‘Sioux Falls’ moniker. I think this is a great idea and a long time coming. I often said there is confusion just with the different city departments. But I disagree with the process. First I would ask graphic designers/artists to submit a design and have the citizens vote on it online (like the flag competition). Then whoever wins give them some kind of prize package with gift cards of local businesses etc. Then I would hire a media company to refine it and match it up with the participating orgs. I also don’t think the taxpayers should be paying for this. I think the other organizations involved have plenty of money to foot the bill, or better yet a local media company can donate their time.

Mayor TenHaken proposes new budgeting process

At first glance I like the direction of this new process, especially the first tier;

It’s a two-page summary of the request that is then scored by committees of city staff from all 11 departments based on five criteria:

  • Does it meet the goals of the city?
  • Is it innovative?
  • Is it sustainable?
  • Does it foster partnerships with other organizations and agencies?
  • Is it measurable?

After scoring about 50 of those “RFRs,” which Pritchett declined to share details about, the ones with the highest score are prioritized. That’s when the public engagement aspect of TenHaken’s budgeting process comes in.

This is really how department heads SHOULD be submitting their budgets through a scoring process. I also like the 5 questions, but where it gets wobbly is the 2nd tier where they say the ‘public’ would be involved;

“We want to engage people that may not have been engaged in the process in the past,” said Pritchett, who this month will bring the highest-scored proposals to a citizen group of Leadership Sioux Falls members to get even more feedback.

While having the public leadership group involved is also a great idea, I would apply it a little differently. As I have mentioned in the past, the City Council, the legislative body of the city should really be putting the budget together after the 1st tier is implemented and the leadership group weighs in. After that I think the COUNCIL not the MAYOR should introduce a preliminary budget that is presented to citizens in at least 2-3 public meetings/open houses where citizens can tell councilors what they like and don’t like. And during the process there should be an online participatory budgeting website that people can leave comments (an idea council candidate Weiland suggested). After that process is finished the council can present there final budget to the mayor and public.

Why shouldn’t the mayor be involved? First off, under charter, the council controls the purse strings, and secondly the mayor’s office is really just another department that can put in it’s requests like the other departments.

The city needs to get back to having our citizen representatives draw up a budget that reflects citizens instead of corporate welfare and play palaces.

UPDATE: California city has 4 public hearings on 5G before telling city council ‘Hold for now’

UPDATE: Notice Sioux Falls isn’t on this list? Hmm?

Hey, Paul, TJ and Erica, this is what transparent government looks like when the Feds have a cattle prod up your rear;

Amid concerns that federal mandates usurp local authority, the fight for control over the hardware that transmits wireless Internet has reached an impasse in Fairfax.

After the fourth public hearing before the Town Council this week — this one lasting more than three hours — council members said they need more time before adopting new regulations for the installation of wireless antennas used for the high-speed network called 5G.

“It’s a complicated issue,” Mayor Barbara Coler said after the Tuesday special meeting. “After we released our draft ordinance last week, we received a lot of public comment [Tuesday] that we needed to consider and review.”

How many public hearings did we have (that were NOT official readings in official meetings) before we let 5G roam free in Sioux Falls? ZERO.

I will say it again, you can only have open and transparent government by actually practicing open and transparent government.

If you have to tell us how you are being transparent, you likely are missing the a mark

I have often argued if you want to be transparent in government, OPEN up everything except what is not allowable by law like personnel issues and pending litigation and let the public tell you if they are getting too much information – which is highly unlikely.

While Mayor PTH has made some strides in transparency, most of it happened because of pressure from the public or the city council, but let’s review;

A few weeks into my tenure, I directed that all available audio from the Parks and Recreation Board meetings be posted on the city’s website. This had been opposed in the past. Beginning in 2019, we also began recording video of these meetings.

I commend the mayor on this decision, but this ball was already rolling when councilor Stehly pushed for this in the last administration.

I initiated changes to the Council’s consent agenda — the list of contracts for goods and services the city enters into that require Council notification and approval.

This was also something the council (and public) requested. And I will agree, it is much better.

I am also easy to reach by the public. I hold regular office hours for the public and meet with community stakeholders and citizens on a daily basis.

While this may be the case, having a security officer at city hall because someone stole a can of Coke out of the mayor’s reefer isn’t exactly a show of transparency. If the mayor is concerned about his security, he should talk to the State Legislature about banning firearms in public government buildings. I also think having ONE main phone number for the city with a switchboard will be helpful, something the mayor says he is working on. This is WAY overdue.

And why do the bureaucrats always have to split community stakeholders and citizens? As in “I hold regular office hours for the public and meet with community stakeholders and citizens on a daily basis.” Aren’t we are all citizens or at least all stakeholders?

This week my administration launched a Community Dashboard to provide the public and media with key performance indicators that are easy to access and simple to understand.

The data or Community Dashboard is worthless if you do not know the cryptic file naming scheme, in other words, it needs work. I have never understood why Sioux Falls doesn’t have a simple website like the City of Omaha. Notice the department tabs on the left hand side of the home page. When you click on them they give you more contact information and a search engine that assists you in what you are looking for. It seems the city’s IT department is making things more complicated by creating a portal that doesn’t really work. Break it up into departments and let people search from those tabs.

While PTH has made some strides in transparency, it has been from the pressure of the council and public, for example the Event Center Campus Book Club meetings. Those meetings would have never been open unless there was pressure from councilors Starr and Stehly.

I challenge Paul to open everything up and then deal with the criticism from too much transparency, I can pretty much guarantee he will hear NO complaints from the public, the REAL stakeholders in this government.

Is Mayor TenHaken secretly training to become a Liberal?

Before everyone chews me out for the title of the post, I was being sarcastic. But one has to wonder. I have been researching Bloomberg Philanthropies just out of curiosity since PTH has been taking night courses with the organization.

Besides being advocates of Innovation, they also support;

Abortion Rights


Gun Control

Federalizing Education

Socialized Healthcare

Public Art

Reducing Ethnic Disparities

Bloomberg has also been accused of using his charitable work to influence his political aspirations;

Critics of Bloomberg argue that he has long used his personal wealth to buy political support. For instance, the Financial Times wrote that Bloomberg’s political contributions had freed him to pursue his chosen reforms in the city using it as a laboratory for testing ideas inspired by or subsequently influencing his philanthropy. Items included in this list were tough antismoking rules and a ban on trans-fats in food.

The liberal in me is glad to see PTH taking courses that may make him become more progressive, but I wonder if the public is aware of what kind of organization he is tying the city to? Sometimes I wonder if he is aware?

I hope he wears underwear

Is Mayor TenHaken a ‘Lab Rat’ for Bloomberg?

I recently read this interview with Mayor TenHaken;

TenHaken, 41, entered office with lots of ideas from his private-sector days about how to build an innovative culture. He said it all went into overdrive last summer. That’s when he joined 39 other mayors to kick off a yearlong executive training program through the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative.

While PTH may find this as a great opportunity for the city (but mostly himself, on our dime) I have often been of the opinion that we should elect leaders that are ready to lead. On the job training is NOT a great attribute in a city administrator. In fact, other cities that have actual city administrators instead of a strong mayor setup hire administrators with experience or at least degrees in the field.

That’s why the Bloomberg Leadership training seems like some Harvard experiment to see how much they can influence local government across the country. And quite frankly it is quite scary how much PTH is following suit.

What strikes me is the cultish appeal this “human-centered design” problem solving method of approach seems to have among the leaders & quoted participants (which has actually been around for decades).

By the time Sioux Falls is ready to start piloting some solutions this summer, they’ll have confidence that they’re on to ideas that respond to real needs in the community, are likely to work, and represent innovation for Sioux Falls and its residents.”

Now, granted: those are presumably the words of whoever wrote this article for Bloomberg Cities (I don’t see a byline). However, it’s a pretty bold statement which seems to say this is a can’t lose proposition. I’m not inclined to believe very many “it can’t lose” claims.

Maybe it is just PTH and his young crew. He and his tribe seem smug; holding their cards close. Elbowing ahead with little explanation for the public about their process and goals. They know better. They have it all figured out. Brats!

It is frustrating to read quotes like this from Paul;

“We’ve got so many problems in the city that we were tackling the same way we did 10 years ago, and making two degrees of change,” TenHaken said. “That’s not enough”,

Especially in light of this pothole response. Is that just being perpetually critical of new ideas which aren’t mine/ours? Well, to a certain extent . . . yeah, probably. But, also – in the same way Former Mayor Bowlcut & Bucktooth wanted to erect monuments to himself while neglecting infrastructure – I think PTH is focused on intellectually titillating, entrepreneurially-exciting new org charts for municipal government and hi-tech innovations . . . to the exclusion of the basics. I remain a devotee of a healthy dose of “You gotta walk before you can run”; make sure you can take care of what you’ve already built before you take on more. Sure. Solving public transportation issues has merit and it deserves attention concurrent with other municipal responsibilities. But, fixing more potholes more quickly doesn’t take “cross-departmental synthesizing of key insights “, for chrissakes. Simply greater emphasis, higher expenditures: more teams, more trucks, more patch materials.


Maybe further explore new patching products (letting contractors in Europe handle their own R & D has helped them to construct better roads). And, instead of coddling department heads & staff for doing what they’ve always done (“Ohhh, we have to endlessly express our appreciation to our employees and bring them donuts” – I’m sure Wellness Director Michaels loves that), a leader (boss/administrator/head honcho) needs to hold his subordinates accountable. What successful coach babies his players to get winning results out of them??!!!! I guess one that gets it’s training from Bloomberg.

(CHB contributed to this post)

So who is lying about the openness of the Events Center Campus Book Club?

The ‘Painless’ Meeting in Public

We watched as this all played out. The meetings were going to remain closed, the TenHaken administration was digging in their heels. Then councilors Starr and Stehly bring a resolution forward opening the meetings. All of sudden the Task Force was claiming they decided they were going to open them up all on their own according to some secret vote, in a secret meeting and informed the Mayor in a secret email (to this day no one has seen);

An email from the event center group’s co-chairs Dan Statema and Jeff Eckhoff to Mayor Paul TenHaken said that the group had voted at their first meeting on Feb. 27 to allow the public and media to attend the rest of the meetings.

“We see no harm in having interested parties gain the same education we are as we progress through this process,” the email read.

Now fast forward today to the first open meeting. Deputy COS TJ Typeover tells those TV folks this;

“Pat Starr and I brought forth a resolution when we found out these meetings were going to be closed to the public and the resolution requested that they open the meeting and as a result of that the meetings have been opened,” says Stehly.

“After the first meeting they talked in between that meeting and this meeting and decided to open these up to the public,” says Nelson.

So which is it TJ? Did they vote on it? Did they decide later? My guess is both stories are TOTAL BS. You and the Mayor decided to open these meetings up after pressure from Starr and Stehly. Just admit it. Because just lying about it makes you look even more foolish, and certainly NOT transparent.

UPDATE: TenHaken comes up short . . .

UPDATE: What is even more scary is the Emergency Declaration clause (not the clause itself) but what it permits. It gives the executive/legal branch the authority to hire contractors without going thru the RFP process or ‘lowest bid’. In other words contractors will be coming in and probably charging their ’emergency rates’ you know, like they do for our 100 buildings 🙂

I told a councilor last night if I were mayor, a couple of things I would do is ASK some of the big contractors in town to do the right thing and be fair in their rates, especially with an emergency. We are all in this together. I would have also asked ALL eight city councilors for ideas or references of people that can help. When you have something that could potentially be this big of an issue, you need as many people at the table as possible, good leaders rely on others for expert advice and frankly any advice that is helpful. I’m glad to see they are warning the public in advance, if you do the math, this has the potential to close down the entire city whether your neighborhood is in the flood plain or not. After watching the press conference, I have a feeling they are not telling us everything YET. Everyone was pretty nervous, including the State Hydrologist.

As I have already said, I have tempered my remarks about PTH’s leadership skills in this whole mess, from how Yankton Trail looks like the film set of the Titanic or how it should be renamed ‘Glacial Trail Park’. Or how they finally decided today to close Falls Park (sometime tomorrow – you still have a few more hours to get in your risky behavior). PTH kindly reminds us in this FB video that it is a misdemeanor to cross barriers. Ohhh, a misdemeanor, so baddddd! I’m also wondering why he is wringing his hands so much, reminds me of that scene where Lady MacBeth is washing her hands or is it Mr. Burns at the board table? I’m still debating that one. Fortunately I could not find any Seinfeld references.

But the kicker of this week is the below picture of Mayor TenHaken standing on his tippy toes during this very uncomfortable photo op. And people call me a weird little man. Stay safe Sioux Falls, we may all end up on Giligan’s Island. And for those who will rip me apart for this post, I always remind myself what has gotten me through difficult times is laughter and humor. I only PRAY I don’t split my pants.