Besides the fact that the council ramrodded every agenda item through without much discussion at last night’s city council meeting (Kermit was absent and attending a conference – which was also ironic that they scheduled an executive session in his absence).
They also approved the transit board recommendations. Two things were missing from that discussion; NO transfers and NO free ridership under a certain age. They also didn’t address the poorly managed dispatch of Paratransit which is probably very costly to the system, but oh well, when councilor Staggers is out of town, questions don’t get asked and we rumberstamp much faster.
Speaking of the rubber stamp, councilors Karsky and Erpenbach seemed to have lost theirs for a moment last night when the council proposed an amendment to overstep the Parks Board. It’s really a simple argument, the city council is an elected board and should always supersede any appointed board, like the Parks Board.
But councilor Erpenbach (a former Parks Board member) felt that the council should not be allowed to overstep their recommendations. Once again, Michelle couldn’t be more wrong. Remember, they are appointed by the Mayor, and they aren’t your average Joe Six-Pack sitting at Van Eps Park drinking a cold one on a Wednesday morning. One of the members for example is the wife of mega-super-TIF-sucking developer Craig Lloyd.
So I ask Michelle, if this board is so precious and powerful, why aren’t the decisions they are making being recorded on video at Carnegie? I suggest the next resolution the city council proposes is that ALL appointed board meetings be recorded at Carnegie, including Ethics board and city council working sessions. If they are so important, they can show their importance by being transparent.
Also, you can’t miss public input from last night, the mayor was ‘forgiven’ for being a jerk by a citizen.
No big surprises. It looks like Walmart threw in only an additional $33,000 in the last week before the election. Some interesting notes to point out in the candidate races were that Kiley received only ONE individual contributions right before the election, $250 from Cindy Huether. Cindy also gave $250 to Tex Golfing & Michelle Erpenbach. How convenient that she gave this late in the game, knowing her name wouldn’t appear on a financial report until after the election. I guess she learned well from her sneaky husband.
Mayor Huether also had some interesting contributors. From PAC’s he got $1500 from two separate Unions, Citigroup gave $500, John Morrell’s (Smithfield) gave $1000, and one of the more interesting of his PAC contributors was HDR Engineering, which gave $500. HDR does a boatload of consulting for the city planning office. A very strange donation to Christine Erickson was from Kyle Schoenfish (used to be a Democrat, and is the son of Mayor Huether’s first cousin) who gave $125. Still trying to figure that one out.
Councilor Erpenbach recently had this reply to a citizen’s email asking about the polling evidence that people want the indoor pool at Spellerberg;
Thanks, —–. I appreciate your input but I seriously disagree with your analysis.
Three separate polls (including the April 8 election) indicate people in Sioux Falls overwhelmingly support an indoor aquatics facility at the Spellerberg location. Those votes include amazing numbers from all of the precincts that touch Spellerberg Park. Your neighbors want this.
And I disagree that no other locations were studied. Many sites were studied extensively. Frankly, if we need to expand our indoor aquatics program, future leaders won’t be adding to Spellerberg, they will be building another site.
The people have spoken. Let’s please move on.
More indoor pools?! We can’t even afford the one, and she is planning on building more?! The indoor pool will only be used to capacity during swim meets and on the weekends.
Remember the April vote was for a NEW outdoor pool at Spellerberg. The only poll we know about at this point are the city voters voting against replacing the pool with another outdoor pool. CS365 and Nielson did polls BEFORE the vote, but I have no clue who did an exit poll.
In the informational meeting video (FF: 7:20) Michelle actually states “They have been privy to a poll”. She says they have a public poll but we have never heard about it before this informational. Was this a top secret poll? Who conducted it? CS365? Another private entity? Or the city?
Informational Meeting Minutes – Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Council Member Michelle Erpenbach responded that polling done illustrated 70% of the voters (who voted against an outdoor pool at Spellerberg Park) assumed they were voting for an indoor pool at this same location. She recommended listening to the citizens that support this location. Erpenbach noted that the indoor pool project has been a project for this City Council. She recommended allowing the two outgoing Council Members the right to vote on this item.
In a document handed out at the informational meeting (Spellerberg Scan 042814) there were no attributions as to who conducted the exit poll, not even a mention of this mysterious exit poll, just previous polling and election results. Is councilor Erpenbach just making up this mysterious exit poll? And even if she isn’t, why did voters ‘think’ they were voting on an indoor pool at Spellerberg when it was not on the ballot? And why is councilor Erpenbach bragging about how the city & CS365 used taxpayer and private money to mislead voters?
My bigger concern is that documents are being handed out at public meetings that are claiming a 70% approval of an indoor pool at Spellerberg, and have no attributions as to ‘who’ conducted the poll. Could care less if it was true or not, my bigger question is whether it was actually conducted, or construed and concocted with polling previous to the election?
Looks like something is being pulled from someone’s butt.
More ‘strange’ campaign materials by Erpenbach. Even if she is suggesting the RR development area will be considered a ‘quiet’ development, she fails to mention that the area will still be surrounded by RR tracks, the landing path airspace for the airport, and when those two things are not rattling the dishes in the kitchen cabinet (I should know, I live about 5 blocks South of the area) there is the pleasant Avera chopper flying over. So once again, thanks for baffling us Michelle with your made up ‘issues’.
Someone asked me the other day what has been Michelle’s biggest weakness as councilor, and I said, “That’s easy, she rarely responds to constituents when they call on her.”
Hey, peeps, Michelle knows who butters her bread, and it ain’t the lowly whiners of the Central District (snark).
Michelle sent out her first direct mailer (which I am sure of many) Which looks like a coupon for laundry detergent or a free carwash (sorry Michelle, while green is my favorite color, it is a very bad political color). That and your type point is so small, I am wondering if you don’t want people who need reading glasses to vote for you (which is about 75% of the Central District)?
But let’s get to your points . . . that have me freaking baffled.
• Who would refuse Federal grants for police assistance? Seriously? How is this an accomplishment? The Feds send us a check, the city finance director endorses the back, we cash it, we get more police protection. It’s easier then licking a stamp or tying your shoe. Way to go Michelle! Where do I send the party favors?
• First off, never have hyphens on direct mailers. Talk to your graphic artist about this. Secondly, you do understand that the state is the only entity that can revoke licenses for non-compliance, the city council can only ‘scold’ oh, and we know you are good at this, because for 4 years, that is all you have accomplished with your fellow councilors, scolding them for not listening to Michelle.
Everyone knows the best way to curb teen drinking (and texting for that matter) is thru education, not litigation.
• Is loitering an issue in Sioux Falls? So, So, So weird.
Just watched the informational, apparently Karsky is the one to bring this back up, he wants it postponed until after the election for a work session, which makes sense, BUT here is the kicker, he is bringing two amendments forward tonight, 1) to postpone until after the election OR 2) to vote on it again tonight. So there is still a possibility this will get killed tonight. Hold tight.
Last Tuesday, the council voted 5-3 to postpone the change until April 1st (a week before the election). I have a feeling there was a discussion after the vote with the two swing voters (Dean & Sue) to try to get them to change their votes for this Tuesday.
It begs the question, “What is Michelle, Mike and Jim trying to hide?” This is all about transparency and ethical practices when it come to elected officials. It is no secret that Huether and his wife are investing in properties throughout our city. But why are Michelle and Jim so concerned about this?
Remember, Jim has property adjacent to the new Events Center and Michelle’s donor list reads like the ‘Who’s Who’ of SF developers. Either these three are trying to protect someone’s investment or their own.
Jamison raised concerns last fall after learning that the mayor’s wife, Cindy Huether, was one of the investors in a TIF project, the Bancroft Place apartments in the Whittier neighborhood.
Jamison is running against incumbent Mike Huether in the race for mayor this spring.
“This amendment is about one person,” Councilor Michelle Erpenbach said. “I don’t appreciate the way this conversation has been going.”
She said the investments held by an elected official’s spouse should not be open to scrutiny.
“You elected me; you did not elect my husband,” she said.
I found it baffling that Michelle felt she had to defend the mayor’s wife or the mayor, and tried to make this into a political football.* Michelle, this is about transparency and ethics, this isn’t about an election. Secondly, are you admitting that your husband has made investments with properties that have received TIF’s? I found that statement interesting. It got heated at times, Entenman was almost scolding and yelling at the rest of the council (gee, I wonder how many property investments he has made around town?) Then in one of Karsky’s misguided moments, he asked for the vote to be postponed. Not realizing the can of worms he had opened (They won’t vote on it until a week before the election) four councilors voted for the postponement, and of course Karsky realized he had to follow suit, since he proposed it. Michelle and Mike WERE NOT happy.
It got comical at times, especially when Erpenbach came to the defense of Huether, he looked like he was melting like an ice cream cone in his chair, and looked like he was going to start crying at any moment. It was theatrics at their best between Erpenbach and Huether, it was almost like it was rehearsed. See seems to be very concerned about hurt feelings, but doesn’t give a damn about ethics. *What this is really about is Huether’s re-election. It is crucial to Michelle’s political future that Huether is re-elected, especially if she is. Everyone knows Michelle’s plan in four years is to run for the empty seat of mayor and for Huether to run for governor. So if Michelle is re-elected (let’s hope not) she must have Huether re-elected to follow through with her plans.
The other part of the discussion that disturbed me was testimony by Darrin Smith claiming we have to give TIF’s to develop land for the public good, and brought up the COSTCO site that wasn’t developed for 25 years. First off, that property sitting empty hasn’t hurt or helped citizens in our community either way. There was very little public benefit to developing that land, and not developing has not been harmful either. Ironically, as Smith brought up the COSTCO TIF, he admitted that COSTCO has asked to not use the TIF that was granted. So basically admitting that a TIF was not needed to develop the land. But yet we need them? Huh?
CITIZENS FOR INTEGRITY PILE IT ON
Also worth checking out is public testimony from myself and Bruce about the city’s ‘ADVOCATIONAL’ videos and meetings, (FF: Public Input) and the possibility of breaking state law.
Let’s first talk about Michelle’s record over the past four years on the city council. I am amazed when I see the other crowded council races and Erpenbach not having a challenger.
There is a lot of factors involved. Maybe some voters don’t know who she is, or what district she represents (Central) maybe they don’t know she is up for re-election? Either way, let’s look at her record;
• She has approved countless TIF’s for things like luxury hotels, condos and big box retail, taking money not only out of the city coffers but public education and the county’s judicial system.
• *She has taken donations from not only people who don’t even live in her district, but are clearly the top tier of ‘Special Interests’ in Sioux Falls.
• As the city council representative on the affordable housing board, she approved a loan to developer Ken Dunlap, the Planning Commission Chair, a clear conflict of interest.
• City debt has jumped almost $125 million in the past 4 years (sits at about $400 million), the council has to approve all expenditures the mayor’s office proposes (to put it in perspective the total city debt when Hanson left office was $99 million, when Munson left office it was $277 million).
• Erpenbach ignored her fellow councilors and put a $60,000 film projector expense on the agenda without consensus of the rest of the council for a private non-profit that has already received over $100K from the city. She often made decisions as council chair without input from the rest of the council.
• Erpenbach CENSORED and limited public testimony on a snowgate joint election with the school district (which would ironically only cost HALF of what a film projector does.) and postponed the vote for another year (if snowgates would have passed in the proposed election, they would be in full use this winter).
• She was the driving force behind the termination of city clerk Debra Owen, which resulted in having her replaced with three full-time employees. Ironically the reason Owen was fired was because they felt she wasn’t performing her duties as a ‘manager’ ironically, the people she ‘managed’ are still employed by the city. This was a clear witch-hunt and should have been discussed in the public square, to which the Open Meetings commission reprimanded the city attorney and city council for their actions.
• Erpenbach pushed for the Sioux Falls texting ban ordinance even after the state highway patrol and city police chief advised against it. Why? While it is blatantly obvious that texting and driving should be banned, #1 The state laws already existed (if you get in an accident while texting, you are charged with distracted or reckless driving, even without a texting ban) #2 This is clearly a state law issue and something a municipality should stay out of due to uniformity in state police reports, etc.
It is clear that Michelle has little knowledge of how to be a city legislator, and works strictly from her ‘personal agenda’. Special Interests and ‘feel good’ ordinances that only sugar coat the real job of a city councilor; representing the public’s best interests and doing it while being prudent with their tax dollars.
If anyone wants to run against Michelle, you will have my FULL support and expertise (I have followed city government for about 12 years and blogged about it for almost 10 years, I don’t think I have missed a public meeting in those 10 years.)
This is from almost two years ago (March 2012). Ironically, Rath had to jump in several times and correct Erpenbach on many issues, remember, Rath is a citizen advocate, not an elected official, or city employee. At one point, Michelle gave her her own microphone and told her to ‘hold on to it.’ Also remember that this was two years into Michelle’s term, Michelle wasn’t NEW to city business, she assisted with Community Gardens and sat on the Parks Board prior to being city councilor. There hasn’t been a ‘Coffee’ since with Erpenbach.
Some highlights from the video;
They got into a discussion about the ‘consent agenda’ on the city council meeting’s agenda, Michelle claimed that “You will see EVERY contract for the Event Center construction on that list.”
Of course we know that, that was side stepped by hiring a construction manager who keeps all those ‘little things’ secret.
Admits that TIF’s are a “Sweet Deal” for developers, referring to the soil remediation of the Hilton/CNA, parking ramp demolition by Lloyd.
Says that she tends to “Ignore the Planning Commission.”
She admits that while she was on the Community Gardens board that they were in violation of city ordinance and were unaware of it.
Claims that the EC contractors will be responsible for any cost overruns when it comes to the rock borings for the footings and any miscalculations. Ironically, the EC’s expansion was scaled back to 14,000 seats instead of 15,000 like promised in the campaign, due to rock borings.
She says as a council they MUST approve the mayor’s agenda, contracts, etc.
Admits the council doesn’t bring forth much legislation. Huh?! Isn’t that the job of the council? To be the legislative body?
Erpenbach famously calls the river the ‘Big Poo’ in one breath (in reference to the sewer backup problems) then in another breath justifies using the Morrell’s EPA fine/penalty money for environmental cleanup of the river to use for brick and mortar for the river greenway instead of actual cleanup.
Michelle has been more then a seat warmer on the council (Rolfing & Karsky come to mind) she has been damaging to our community’s reputation as a fair, transparent and fiscally prudent government, she has worked against all of these things over the past 4 years, and has taken her marching orders from big development and special interests.