Remember when Michelle Erpenbach was Council Chair? This is a snowgate blast from the past. December 18, 2012 the Sioux Falls City Council was required by state law to set an election date because petitions had been filed with and verified by the City Clerk.
The City Council Chair pulled an interesting set of rules out of a body orifice to limit discussion. Kermit Staggers challenged the unknown and never before experienced or even voted on rule the Chair presented. To no big surprise to attendees, the 20 minute public silencing “rule” was used. The vote also was pushed to 2014 to no big surprise.
After this show of arrogance, the voters of Sioux Falls in 2014, slammed the Council and administration lies down by voting 76% to force the city to attach snowgates to plows for clearing snow.
We learned through these displays of misplaced priorities what to expect from the City Council and why we have worked so hard to reset Council processes to be more citizen first in 2016.
Whether you agree or disagree with this project, Councilor Erpanbach’s words are a clear admission that her head is fully engulfed in sand and she has no intent to represent the people’s wishes or adhere to the right to petition within the First Amendment.
Not only did Michelle throw away her populist hat, she spit on, stomped on it, then burned it;
Councilor Michelle Erpenbach, who along with colleagues Rex Rolfing and Rick Kiley has been steadfast in her support for the new administration building, said Monday she wouldn’t do anything to help Stop the Funding force a special election — whether it’s being the sixth councilor needed to endorse the special meetings or to override another potential veto of the mayor if the council votes to delay or repeal the project funding again.
“I’m not changing my stance – I want the bonds sold in October,” she said. “Your lack of preparedness doesn’t create an emergency on my part. I’m not going to approve a special meeting.”
I guess we won’t have to worry about saying Mayor Erpenbach in 2018.
With thousands of signatures gathered in a matter of days, Danielson said there’s no denying a significant chunk of the city either doesn’t want the new building or at least wants a vote on it. To deny the public that opportunity would be a disservice to the democratic process that could have effects beyond the administration building project, he said.
“It’s going to be their problem if any of them want to run for office in Sioux Falls again because there is so much anger in the community right now about this whole process,” he said. “They’re totally ignoring our concerns. They’re absolutely tone deaf to the citizens.”
Well when you never answer your phone, you don’t have to worry about losing your hearing from yelling constituents. I think the rest of the council should suspend Michelle’s phone stipend, she doesn’t use it anyway.
I have to admit I’m finding the ‘outrage’ about the cell phone ban getting killed in 1st reading quite hilarious, and a little late.
I guess Poo-Point University today had a full on bitch session about it.
Here’s the deal, if anyone from the public cared or was paying attention, I posted about this way back on May 15th. On May 24th, the Argus Leaderran a poll about the ban, and since then have done several stories about the ban.
It’s been in the news. A LOT!
In fact, if so many people were concerned about the ban, why was I the ONLY person from the public to testify in public input at the 1st reading?
The outrage about it now is an after thought, kind of like a fart that doesn’t make a sound or smells.
My feeling is that the people wanting this ban didn’t want public input (against it), that’s why the silence and education about it. They just wanted their fancy-smancy names to speak for themselves;
AARP South Dakota Augustana College, Rob Oliver, Pres. Bender Commercial Real Estate Services, Michael Bender, Pres. DakotaCare, Kirk Zimmer, Pres. Falls Area Bicyclists 7th District Medical Society Raven Industries River Ridge Oral & Maxillofacial Surgical Center Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital AAA South Dakota Southeastern District Dental Society of SD University of Sioux Falls, Mark Benedetto, Pres. Vern Eide Motor Cars Individuals Dr. Loren & Mavis Amundson Kathy Amundson Robert Amundson (retired Justice of the SD Supreme Court) Duane Anderson (former ass’t City Attorney) Rich Aquilar Sue Aguilar (former City Councilor) Tam Baker (former City Councilor) Dr. Jack & Linda Barker Brenda Beninga Gerald Beninga (Pres. & CEO Active Generations, former City Councilor, current Chair Minnehaha County Commission) Bruce & Mary Boyd Frank & Martha Brost, Vernon Brown (former City Councilor) Dean Buckneberg Walter O. Carlson, MD Gary Conradi Steve Crim Msgr. James Doyle Jim Entenman, (CEO J&L Harley, former City Councilor). Cy Farner Dick Gregerson Joel & Susan Hagen Anne Hajek (former City Councilor, County Commissioner, member of the SD Legislature) Doug Hajek Robert W. Hartman Ann & Joseph Henkin Sandy Jerstad (former member of the SD Legislature) Gene Paul Kean (former States Attorney and former Circuit Court Judge) Bob Kiner Dan Kirby Joe & Jennifer Kirby Helen Henkin Kluck Jeff Kluck
Knobe (former Mayor) Laurie Knutson Rich & Shirley Lauer John McIntyre (former member of the SD Legislature) Steve Metli (former Planning & Services Director for the City of Sioux Falls) David Munson (former Mayor) Nathan & Brianna Nassif David Nelson (former Minnehaha County States Attorney) Mary Olinger Loren Pankratz Gary Pashby Douglas Pay, MD Sandra Pay George Roberts Daniel A. Rykhus Ellie Sabers Richard Sabers (retired Justice of the SD Supreme Court) John Simko (retired US Magistrate Judge) Tom Simmons Terry & Cleo Sorensen (their son was killed by a driver texting on his cell phone at 26th & Minnesota in 2012) William Srstka (retired Circuit Court Judge) Jim Stavenger Theresa Stehly (Drivers Ed teacher) Bob & Trish Swanhorst Jerry & Mary Pat Sweetman Bob Thimjom Pam Tiede Stuart Tiede (retired Circuit Court Judge) Carol Twedt (former County Commissioner) Robert VanDemark Jr., MD Dick & Marilyn Viehweg Dave Volk Ron Williamson Dick & Jeanne Wold Jim & Penny Woster
This is a list I have had since May also.
The bigger question is why is our current mayor absent from this list? And why the deafening silence from City Hall? The Police Chief?
Let’s face it, it is a public safety issue, put it on the ballot and let the voters decide, not a bunch of thumbsuckers that get their way every time they come crying to the city council. You are really starting to make an embarrassment out of our local government.
For those of you not following along at home or may not understand 1st and 2nd readings at council meetings, what this means is that the cell phone ban ordinance will NOT got to a second reading for public input and council vote. Essentially the council KILLED the ordinance before they had to vote on it at all (5-3).
Pretty crazy, because just two hours ago I testified at the meeting in public testimony telling them to KILL it tonight, and force the group supporting this to do a petition drive. Michelle felt this WASN’T a ballot issue because it is public safety. Not sure what that means, I guess she doesn’t feel like people in this community should be able to vote on public safety issues (even though we voted on snowgates).
Well, they might just get their chance, that is if the Hoity-Toity businessmen and women that supported this get out their clipboards and pens.
After watching councilor Erpenbach push the cell phone ban on to the council agenda yesterday during the public services meeting, some wondered what the sudden urgency was?
After hearing the comments yesterday during the meeting and taking the temperature of the council, it seems, as of right now 6 of the councilors will vote against the ban, and even if there were 4 on board, rumor has it that the mayor and city attorney are not in favor of the ban either.
One could argue many things, that this is a state legislator issue, or that the council or charter revision commission should put this on the spring ballot instead of just approving it at a council meeting.
But you have to question the political motivation of Erpenbach to push this ordinance change when she is well aware she doesn’t have support for it? Is she doing this to get her fellow councilors on the record voting against a safety issue? Or is she ramrodding this, so in case it fails, they have time to do a petition drive (something I would like to see). For once it would be nice to see the ‘specials’ in Sioux Falls standing with a clipboard in front of the courthouse instead crying to the council anytime they want their indoor pools and tennis centers and other things. If you truly think this will benefit the safety of the public, get the signatures and get it on the ballot. I would like to see the ‘specials’ work for something for once instead of just greasing palms.
To say I follow city government like an uber-nerd is not a stretch, but I must also remind my readers I consider it a fun hobby. I love talking to our local elected officials, and have many great engaging convos about policy. Some times they even run with my stupid ideas. I am flattered. Michelle on the other hand could be living on another planet as far as I am concerned. I did reach out to her once for a podcast, but Hudson was having equipment issues so the interview never happened, but she did agree to an email interview. Honestly, I think that is the last contact I had with her (3 or 4 years ago?)
One of the most interesting things about following our local elected officials is the ‘personal’ relationships they have and how those relationships overlap in the work they do in their elected positions.
While I could go on and on about most of the city elected officials and their personal relationships, most of them are pretty milk toast. Even our fine mayor.
But Michelle Erpenbach is an interesting study and one sharp cookie (fox).
At first glance you may say that it is fantastic that her tentacles reach far and wide, and I would agree 100%. She has built great business, political and charitable relationships, and I applaud her and any elected official for doing this, you have to. I also agree with Michelle on many social issues and challenges in our city. But what are the objectives behind these relationships and her positions?
Michelle is interesting when it comes to these political objectives. Take these things into account;
• She is considering, and has told close friends she is running for mayor in 2018
• Steve Hildebrand and his partner are God parents of Michelle’s children
• Michelle’s husband, Steve, is a former Daschle staffer and now runs the SDSU alumni foundation
• Michelle has taken many political donations in the past from major developers in Sioux Falls, and considers many of them as close friends
Okay, not a big deal. It’s a small town and state.
But let’s consider a few things Michelle has done over the past year and her tenure as a city councilor;
• Recently pushing for a total cell phone ban in Sioux Falls. The list of people supporting this ban are the who’s who of this town (I’ve seen the list). Doctors, Judges, Lawyers, etc, etc. Big time players in the city. If she leads this charge and pulls it off, the accolades for Michelle will be great.
• A big proponent of Shape Places. In the last city council meeting she voiced her concern about people calling it the bogey man. Shape Places is very PRO developer, but not a monster. The massive document was approved with one short vote by the city council with little review. Many councilors admitted to me that they didn’t read much of the document before approving it.
• She defended Billion Auto saying in the last city council meeting she was upset that people were treating them like ‘The Evil Empire’. What she failed to mention is that the fine citizens of this city GAVE Billion a street (property), at no charge. It is not a stretch to expect them to go above and beyond building a fair buffer. They got property for FREE that is probably worth close to a million dollars. They can at least be gracious in citizens requests for reasonable buffers. I personally don’t think Billion is Evil, but I do expect them to go above and beyond in receiving this great gift from the city and taxpayers.
• During the budget approval she poo-poo’d the way the proposed administration building was budgeted but voted for it anyway. She has done this countless times, saying she doesn’t like the way the administration handled something then voted for it anyway. She pulled this with the free bus passes, supporting the administration on being opposed to it, but once she figured out she would be the only one voting NO, she had a change of heart. Michelle frequently does this, she may act like she is no friend of Mike’s but often does exactly what he wants done. The termination of former city clerk Debra Owen comes to mind. Mayor wanted her gone, and Erpenbach helped lead the way to get her axed. Which leads me to Michelle never mentioning that she supports more openness and transparency in city government (the city was reprimanded by the open meetings commission for how Owen’s termination was handled). In fact, she sat on the Parks Board before becoming a city councilor, one of the most secretive city boards. In fact, of all the city councilors, Erpenbach’s name comes up the most when constituents tell me she doesn’t respond to calls or emails. Even more then Rolfing!
Michelle’s ‘I know better’ attitude overflows into the discussion at city council meetings. She is often heard telling them ‘Need I remind the council’ as if she is the ultimate historian of all things Sioux Falls city council. Many constituents have coined her as the city council’s ‘school marm’.
The perceived close relationships between Erpenbach, Hildebrand, developers and Huether are too close for comfort. She will be one to watch in the next mayoral race, don’t underestimate her, we did that Huether’s first time around (a campaign ran my Michelle’s close friend Steve Hildebrand). We could just have a mayor Erpenbach in 2018, and if you think she plays word games on the council, wait until she is running our city. I’m sure she will be constantly ‘reminding’ us of how lucky we are to have her as mayor.
But that isn’t the only meetings the mayor has been missing out on. During the Sioux Falls city council informational councilors hammered the mayor about his absence at the county/city coffees the city council has each month with Lincoln and Minnehaha county commissioners and Erpenbach asked why the mayor hasn’t attended the joint meetings lately at Carnegie. After he danced around the question for about 2 minutes he told Erpenbach he has a “Busy Schedule”. You know, it’s hard to pencil in a meeting when you are flying all over the state campaigning(?) for governor. Funny how he has time to go to Yankton, the Black Hills and next week to Brookings, but he can’t drive 10 minutes across town to attend an EVENING meeting at Carnegie. Councilor Erickson also reiterated that the mayor needs to attend the meetings and that they have been very productive. Councilor Jamison went as far to tell the mayor he is a “year behind” when it comes to negotiations with the counties about partnerships because he doesn’t attend the meetings. Huether said he has “got his staff on it.” So now the taxpayers are paying staffers to do the Mayor’s job so he can hop scotch around the state. Nice. Maybe if the mayor wants to spend more time campaigning then actually doing his job, someone can teach him how to teleconference using Skype. Let’s face it, he doesn’t attend these meetings because he is not in charge.
The Minnehaha County Commission also wondered if there could be any (financial) partnerships with the city;
Commissioner Jeff Barth hopes the county sees more benefits from whatever partnerships are in the future.
“The fact is that our revenues are growing at 30-percent of the revenues of the city and the state, and yet our responsibilities are increasing at a greater level,” Barth said.
Ironically, Huether talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk. The city could easily give the county a lot more of the kitty by simply cutting them a check for ‘services rendered’. I would much more prefer $24 million dollars of my tax money going to the county for services then purchasing an indoor pool that will only cost us millions each year in operations and maintenance.
Dick Kelly also scrutinizes the city’s use of TIF’s;
Development in the city continues to grow every year, with Huether saying Sioux Falls has doubled its number of TIFs in the last five and a half years. Commissioner Dick Kelly says those impact the county city immediately with sales and property tax dollars.
“We don’t see anything for generally 20 years when that property tax growth comes. Yet our expenses continue to rise and rise and rise. I just ask you continue to be very selective in what you do with the TIF programs,” Kelly said.
“You should demand that we scrutinize these TIFs and I will assure you we are,” Huether said.
LOL! We are already past the $500 million mark on building permits for the year and we are setting up to be another record year for them, yet somehow we need TIF’s? Boloney. Developers ask for TIF’s because they can. A great example is when the Lloyd companies asked for a TIF on the School for the Deaf property, then bailed on it when they couldn’t get one, yet another investor came in, didn’t ask for a TIF and has tons of interest in the property from other investors And it’s not like this guy is the wealthiest developer in town, it’s ‘Uncle Bruce’ who owns used car lots. TIF’s are not needed in Sioux Falls, they only have an adverse effect on county and school funding, they need to be eliminated.
Maybe our Mayor would understand the county relationship better if he attended a lot more government meetings instead jumping out of helicopters like he is a monkey.
As I have been reviewing salary changes since 2011-2015 (post to come soon) I came across a ‘little’ nepotism. Seems former Parks Board member and City Councilor, Erpenbach was able to get her son a part-time job in 2011.
ERPENBACH I MAXWELL I2011 IPARK & RECREATION ITEMPORARY ‐ SERVICE
That’s our tax dollars hard at work, paying city councilor’s kids to mow grass.
The man in charge of building permits for Sioux Falls announced yesterday at the Public Services meeting that the EC got its permit (starts in the middle of the meeting). Councilor Staggers questioned the siding issue. Bell told him that even though it may not be asthetically correct he said it is structurally sound. Kermit questioned the gaps and holes in the siding, and Bell said the insulation was also sound and would prevent any issues.
What does this mean? My guess is it will probably never be fixed, and if it is, it will just be a quick patch job. My assumption all along is that someone signed off on the cheaper method to apply the siding and that person/entity (I have no clue who it is) is covering their tracks. Once again, it seems the public will be left in the dark.
At the beginning of the meeting, councilor Erpenbach seemed to want to have more control over what food vendor trucks are doing in our city (they are mostly monitored by the state). I found her statements ironic and hypocritical after she just recently scolded the rest of the council about micro-managing the Events Center when it comes to ticket sales. She doesn’t seem to be concerned about citizens getting ripped off at a building that they are paying the mortgage on, but seems to be concerned about people dropping napkins around food trucks and being able to eat at 3 AM. Go figure.
I find her arguments about limiting the food trucks hours of operation completely ignorant. The whole point of being open at 3 AM is so they can serve food to people leaving the bar. If you limit their hours of operation, they just won’t be operating at all.