Entries Tagged 'Mayor TenHaken' ↓

Mayor TenHaken apologizes for ‘Whipping the Vote’ comment

During Tuesday night’s city council meeting Mayor TenHaken asked councilor Brekke to ‘Whip the Vote’ (FF: 1:02). It didn’t go over well with Brekke. She made it clear to him that’s not how things work (in municipal government). The council has the right to bring legislation forward before the meeting or to ask for a reconsideration during the meeting. Brekke had already talked to her fellow councilors about the plurality ordinance in advance, when it failed she tried to amend it. This happens on the fly.

While it is a positive thing that PTH realized he was in the wrong and apologized to Brekke (I guess in a public setting) it still doesn’t change the fact that we have a very partisan City Administrator. City government doesn’t work like Washington, there are distinct differences. It is a non-partisan form of government set up to serve all involved, the taxpayers of our city. We don’t want them to vote on ‘party lines’ because there isn’t any, but seems for the last several years the councilors belong to either the Developer Class Party or the Citizen Party – a terrible divide.

This goes back to the mayor not knowing his roles and duties under charter. He is the city administrator in charge of making sure the city operates smoothly within the budget set forth. In other words, he is the employee manager. It is NOT his job to set policy. He should not even have voted on the ordinance. It should have just failed on a tie. I think if the mayor wants to get involved in policy votes he needs to explain his vote. He knew well in advance that he might have to break the tie, he also expressed to the media he would probably vote NO if the opportunity did arise. So tell us why? I don’t think he knew why, because it was just another vengeance vote with the other 4 councilors. A horrible way to set policy, I’m sorry to say.

Mayor TenHaken on BNB show this morning

Unlike the last Mayor who made outrageous statements, and ramrodded outrageous projects, it seems the current Hizzoner doesn’t seem to know what he is talking about, or at least how to communicate his plans.

He talked about how he went to Haiti to learn about refugees in their country so he has a better understanding of the refugees we have in Sioux Falls. Here’s a concept Paul, why not go down to the Multi-cultural center and have some meetings with them? He feels we need to get the refugees to assimilate into Americans, okay Donald Trump. Also, though I have asked several councilors and city officials to get back to me about Public Works Director Cotter going with Paul on the missionary trip to ‘study the infrastructure’ and whether the taxpayers paid for the trip and if he used vacation time, I have heard NOTHING. I guess it would be safe to assume it was a junket for Cotter, spreading the good news of Jesus and running water on the taxpayer dime.

When Greg asked Paul about the Events Center Campus Study Book Club he told Greg that sometimes secret meetings get more things done, “Sometimes you need to shut the door to get the work done.” Which was ironic, because right after saying that he told Greg exactly what he wanted the EC Book Club to accomplish, solving the parking problems at the site by shuttling people from Downtown on concert nights. While this is a great idea, who is going to pay for it? Will this come from ticket fees? Will the artists be paying for it? Will SMG? Will the shuttles cost the concert goers as they get on the shuttle? Or will this just be ANOTHER 2nd penny subsidy to the Events Center? These are why these discussions need to be opened to the public, but on the other hand, I ask the question, what is so secretive about parking and shuttle buses? At the beginning of this topic though, Paul said it wasn’t worth discussing new development around the EC campus, because it has never worked. Well, that’s no secret.

He finished by talking about snow removal, and the wet panties it seems the last couple of mayors including Paul gets by saving snow removal money. We don’t pay our taxes so you can put it in a savings account, we pay them to PLOW SNOW!

He also talked about the Elmwood street vacation vote. He thinks the neighborhood lost by not allowing the street vacation of Elmwood. I still struggle with how taking a viable street away from a residential neighborhood is a ‘win’ for them. It’s not. I think by not closing the street both the neighborhood and Lifescape won. Lifescape can still build their parking lot, and they can still devise a safety plan. This was about GIVING taxpayer owned property worth well over a quarter million to a private organization at NO cost so they could increase the value of the property when they sell in a couple of years. I have argued for a long time that if these businesses or non-profits are requesting a street vacation they should have to pay us at least HALF of the appraised value. When we closed the street by Billion Auto we essentially GAVE a private for profit car dealership about a million dollars in property. It’s not right or fair. Enough with the corporate welfare to developers and private non-profits.

Mayor TenHaken’s office sends out bizarre photo to advocate for the closure of Elmwood Ave.

You can’t make this stuff up. The mayor’s office sends out the above photo to the city councilors to advocate for the closure of Elmwood Avenue. Saying this;

02-08-19 Update: Mayor Paul TenHaken stated that Erica Beck, Chief of Staff had sent an email to council outlining the administration’s analysis of the street vacation request. The administration supports the vacation, and is not obligated to be neutral. The Crippled Children’s Hospital and School was built in a corn field and predated the neighborhood.

Their argument that they were their first is ridiculous. First off, zoning laws have changed numerous times since the hospital was built. The neighborhood has also changed. The hospital and it’s ownership has changed names at least 4 times since it was built. On top of the that, the current facility plans to sell within 5 years with no idea who will move into the facility (though the rumor is Sanford wants to snatch it up).

While I disagree with some things in our current zoning laws, street closures should NOT occur because someone or some entity with the most money wants it closed. It should be based on what is best for the neighborhood, which is obvious, keeping the street since Elmwood is the only street in that neighborhood that goes all the way through.

But I have an even bigger issue with the Mayor’s office trying to advocate for a private business and influencing the council’s vote before they have the appropriate hearing. This is what happens when your Deputy COS comes from a right-wing partisan-hack background that doesn’t understand how non-partisan, municipal government works. If PTH wants to veto it after the fact, fine, but him and his staff are not acting ethically in this matter, and it’s a damn shame.

Could an ethics complaint be filed against the Mayor for appointing a secret study group

I guess the lawyers have looked over whether or not Mayor TenHaken is violating city charter by appointing a secret task force without the consent of the city council. One of the more memorable comments was, “While the mayor’s appointment of the task force doesn’t violate the law, I can’t speak on the ethics of the decision.”

Well, that’s fine, because it seems the city charter has the ‘ethical’ answer to that question;

34.007  CANON FIVE.

   (a)   A city council member should conduct the affairs of the city council in an open and public manner.
   (b)   City council members should be aware of the letter and intent of the state’s open meetings law, should conduct the affairs of the city council consistent with the letter and spirit of that law and consistent with the need to inspire and maintain public confidence in the integrity and fairness of city government and the office of city council member. Consistent with this goal of preserving public trust, city council members should be aware of the need for discretion in deliberations involving resources of the city, the reputation of people and the integrity of the governmental processes.
   (c)   All actions, decisions and votes by city council members should be made on their merits, objectively, and without party, regional or ideological partisanship.
(1992 Code , App. E)  (Ord. 34-00, passed 4-11-2000)
According to city charter, as the former mayor would point out all the time, the mayor is a member of the city council. I know this is a fine line, but purposely appointing a study group that will meet in secret could be a violation of the ethics code. Maybe a citizen needs to file and complaint against Paul and find out.

Did Bloomberg help Mayor TenHaken cook up a ‘Innovation & Technology’ Director?

It seemed kind of weird that a town that is ran by a liberal, openly gay, Democrat would have a similar position as the city of Sioux Falls;

A month after the City of South Bend’s first Chief Innovation Officer stepped down, the city has named Denise Linn Riedl to fill the position.

Riedl previously worked at the City Tech Collaborative in Chicago and also held positions at the Smart Chicago Collaborative and the Federal Communications Commission.

She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Notice she has ‘degrees’, but that’s a story for a different day. So where does this ‘Innovation’ director concept come from? Did Mayor Buttigieg cook this up himself? He has been very successful turning around South Bend and he is looking at running for President. The ideas ‘may’ have ties to Bloomberg;

Last year the Office of Innovation spearheaded applications to the Bloomberg Mayor’s Challenge, which saw the city win $1 million to expand pilot programs connecting low-income residents with affordable rides to work.

As you may or may not know, PTH has been getting a lot of advice from Bloomberg. This may not be a bad thing, but I find it a little ironic that after attending his ‘how to be a mayor’ Bloomberg classes in NY he created this new position. Now if he can just get Reisdorfer to take some night courses. Maybe they could share the expense of getting city clerk Greco actually certified to be a City Clerk? Hey, what an INNOVATIVE concept!

Sioux Falls City Council ‘IS’ the policy making body of government

As we have all read, the Argus took the mayor to task about the lack of transparency in their ED board column on Sunday. This line I found the most interesting;

Now the topic is being revisited with a group that includes members of the hotel, construction, architectural and banking industries – all areas where avoiding questions of conflict of interest would be prudent.

This is one of the main reasons these meetings need to be public. When you have a group of powerful business men in town (even if they are volunteers) making recommendations, we need to be clear that their suggestions are for the good of everyone, not just their pocket books. Their is a part of me that wonders if some of the members asked that they be private meetings. We wouldn’t want that pesky Bruce showing up with a camera while we are planning our future investments.

During the informational meeting yesterday, councilors Stehly and Starr reminded the rest of the council about the importance of transparency (while the rest of them just stared into space and made no additional comments. I think even one of them was laughing at Stehly’s comments about ‘loving thy neighbor’). Starr went on to say the obvious, the City Council is the policy making body of the city, not the mayor’s office or his appointed study groups. The city council should be heading up this group, yet only ONE member is invited to attend (Soehl). We seem to be going even further backwards these days when it comes to transparency. Many city hall watchers have even been stating that TenHaken may even worse than the last dude.

What even bothers me more is that we seem to have a majority of the city council that isn’t questioning this. I’m sure Brekke agrees with Starr and Stehly, but where was Erickson and Neitzert who used to rail on the last administration about transparency. Or what about our chairs, Selberg and Erickson allowing TenHaken to usurp the powers of the council? It’s an outrage, and they remain silent.

It’s because they HATE public input and TRANSPARENCY, they proved it this summer while limiting public input.

That’s not the only thing that has disappeared into the night. I guess proclamations are no longer read at the council meetings because TenHaken found them to be a waste of time that takes away from the regular meeting. Part-Time Mayor Beck now handles them internally, I guess. Why don’t we eliminate the invocation to? There is no requirement we have one, the county commission only does the pledge of allegiance. Some of those pastors tend to be winded anyway.

I can’t say it enough, there is never a good excuse to keep government closed. And saying we need candid conversations as one of those excuses is just ludicrous. I think the best conversations about policy happen in the open when feet are held to the fire.

Would you want TenHaken to make you a drink?

So this is a fundraiser for a great place in Sioux Falls! I guess the celebrity bar tenders are TenHaken, Part-time mayor Beck and TypeOver. I think the combined three of them don’t even know how to make a vodka tonic (I will give you a clue, one of the ingredients is vodka). Luckily I hear there is only beer and wine. Remember when tugging off the cap of yummy fizzy, corn syrupy, rice, domestic light beer – lefty loosey, righty tighty.

Can the EC Campus Task Force ‘Legally’ meet in private?

According to State Law & the SD Municipal League’s website;

The open meeting law is contained in SDCL chapter 1-25.   Municipalities are required to hold open meetings.  This includes any association, authority, board, commission, committee, council, or task force which is created by statute, ordinance, resolution and is vested with the authority to exercise any sovereign power derived from state law. (SDCL 1-25-1)

So since the mayor appointed the task force AND there is one of his staffers and a city councilor on the task force, how can they NOT be violating state law by meeting in private? Unlike an RFP selection committee that has to do with confidential contract negotiations, according to Deputy COS, T.J. TypeOver, all they are doing is having a ‘candid conversation’ about ideas or recommendations. This definitely needs to be in a public setting. I guess their fear is that Cameraman Bruce will show up to get their brilliant ideas on the record.

Also, Mayor TenHaken is breaking a critical campaign promise that he would make city hall more transparent. Not only do I challenge him to open this meeting to the public, but they should have it in a City Center conference room where it can be filmed and live streamed. When ideas are being openly discussed sometimes the ear of the public can be helpful in correcting something or expanding on a good idea to make it even better. I think we are really short changing citizens by NOT having these important meetings in public. It kind of sounds like some supporters of the candidate TenHaken have some ideas of their own that they don’t want the public to know about until it is too late to stop the train. I think we learned from Mayor Ramrod we are NOT going to do things that way anymore. Someone needs to send Paul the memo.

UPDATE: I also see they are going to be discussing the future of the Orpheum’s management in the meetings. Which is a little odd, because the gossipers at SMG have said their contract with the Orpheum ends July 1st.

Is the Pavilion going to take over the Orpheum?

There has been a rumor circulating for awhile that Mayor TenHaken had been thinking about changing the leadership of that building. In fact, when I met with him before the election (April) we briefly talked about it and he sent me a text asking if I had any ideas.

But this isn’t the first time the Pavilion wanted to get their claws into the Orpheum, they actually asked during the Munson administration, but the Pavilion’s finances were so bad at the time, the answer from city hall was a resounding Hell No!

I guess over the past couple of days some SMG employees have been gossiping about the fact that they were told that the Pavilion would take over the Orpheum this summer. Not sure about all the details of the transfer of power. But if the rumors are true, it would be no surprise, because Mayor TenHaken himself told me he was looking at a better use for the facility, and this just might be his grand idea.

So much for campaign promises?

It took about two-thirds into the first year of TenHaken’s term for him to officially, and quite blatantly break a campaign promise about transparency;

A group of Sioux Falls citizens hand-picked by Mayor Paul TenHaken to determine the future of the events center campus in northern Sioux Falls will meet in secret over the next six months.

Sure, there have been other moments of weakness, like that splendid contract he let Thune, the FCC and Verizon write without the interference of the public nosing around in it. But having a hand picked task force that meets behind closed doors, isn’t exactly a great idea. Of course his ‘Hitman’ T.J. TypeOver doesn’t think it is a big deal, and offers his B.S. excuse;

noting that its meetings won’t be open to the public, comparing the work the group does to that of a consultant, which, if hired, wouldn’t be required to compile its recommendations in a public setting.

Hey, TypeOver, consultants are professionals that are hired to give their expertise on a specific recommendation. They are not a hand picked volunteer group by the mayor. There are NO similarities in what they do and certainly in what they are paid. TypeOver has given some pretty bad excuses in the past to keep things secret, but this one takes the cake.

There is nothing wrong with allowing the public to sit in and listen to these meetings. Just like the naming committee with the SFSD, there was absolutely no reason not to have the public present. In fact it makes your process more believable and trustworthy. But Chicken Little still wants you to think that transparency equals the sky is falling;

“They’re not in a decision-making role,” Nelson said. “We want to make sure we have the most open and candid conversation possible.”

If they are making NO decisions, what are they having ‘candid’ conversations about? That is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard a city official say. He should be canned on that statement alone.

Candid conversations happen in a PUBLIC SETTING, just watch public input at the city council each week.

I guess I don’t understand all this need for secrecy in city government. As we have found out in the past, the only reason city government has kept anything secret is because of corruption. So keep having secret meetings TJ and Paul. We know the REAL reason why these meetings are secret, and it’s not to help and protect the public’s best interest.