Entries Tagged 'Paul Ten Haken' ↓

Mayor TenHaken, an obvious world of difference

I will first say, there are still things that concern me about Mayor Paul. I’m still trying to figure out his relationship with his staff. I still think he should have given Legacy the boot on the Village project and I still think he needs to give some directors the boot.

That all aside, I have been impressed with his different leadership style. He doesn’t seem to like the spotlight. I like that. I think in government modesty and a humble approach to your job is always best. You are there to serve.

In the video above, I am really excited he took an idea I threw at him early on in his administration at public input about working with the county(s) and school district.

As for public input, I’m glad he wrangled this in and didn’t let it get changed drastically. In fact, public input couldn’t be better (mostly due to the new state law) that allows public input at all public meetings and 1st readings.

But for the most part I have to give Paul props for running the meetings with respect, openness and allowing the city council to debate the issues without being cutoff.

Trust me, I know everyone thinks I am a Negative Nancy trying to find problems with his administration, and also trust me, I am constantly watching. But I will say this, Paul has been doing a pretty good job so far and that isn’t just me talking. I hear it a lot from citizens, and that really is the proof in the pudding.

How is Mayor Paul TenHaken doing?

I get this question at least a couple times a day, usually in person or on the phone.

Since he hasn’t been on the job very long, it’s hard to make a definite assessment so far, but there have been some defining moments;

• Changing the name of the 4th of July parade. I’m not sure how big Paul’s ego is, he does like to take selfies. But he did say the parade is about all of us celebrating independence day. Well duh. Good move.

• Paul likes family and personal time. I’m good with that, I think our elected officials gain a little sanity by doing ‘normal’ things. Is the job of the mayor a 24/7 job? YES! But in the age of technology, there is NO reason why Paul cannot have personal time and not still be connected.

• There seems to be some speculation about why he would not read a proclamation at the Pride festival. He did have a good excuse (family time on Father’s day weekend) but you also wonder what he really thinks about gay rights? I guess we will have to wait and see how this plays out with future council legislation.

• He supports the Sioux Falls flag. I think Paul thinks like many city councilors, let’s move on already. It was selected through a solid process, it meets standards, let’s go with it.

• No major press conferences or CityLink shows. I am not sure if he will do this in the future, but it has been refreshing. His staff has been diligent about sending out press releases, and that is all we ask of them. Grandstanding not required. He will however have his Budget Address on July 31st at the Orpheum Theatre. Hmm?

• Bruce and I are considered ‘media’ by the TenHaken administration. Last week we were added to the media list and receive ALL press releases from City Hall, Departments and City Council. Amen.

• While councilors Selberg and Kiley’s attempt to kill public input has been killed, I think Paul saw the writing on the wall, it would not be a good way to start his administration. He worked with council (and the public) to shape the legislation, and he has been incredibly respectful to the public at council meetings.

• While I am skeptical of his choices for Deputy COS and COS, I do know they are capable folks. All I can say at this point is that they will have to be watched closely. I do know that Beck has a passion for public service, and that will serve us well, we will just have to wait and see who else it serves.

• Director replacement hasn’t happened in the way I would have liked to see, but you never know, we may get some surprises along the way.

• Daren Ketchum’s obvious conflict of interest really needs to be addressed. And maybe Paul is handling it behind the scenes, but the whole thing is sketchy, to say the least.

• We will have to see if the drug task unit will work. I have argued many times that we need to seek National/Federal assistance. The Barney Fife approach just doesn’t cut it anymore.

• TenHaken wants to focus on roads. This has been a talking point for mayors for decades. I think our streets are pretty good considering our weather conditions, but I also think our core needs major upgrades.

So far Paul is doing pretty good considering he is still learning the ropes. To tell you the truth, he has been pretty boring, but that is NOT a bad thing. Running a city isn’t rocket science and it isn’t an episode of the ‘Apprentice’. It just takes openness and common sense. I’m hoping in 12 months I feel the same way . . .

Kentucky Fried Policies

TenHaken continues to allow city employees to be hamstrung

We are already seeing the affects of the Home Rule Charter going straight to the head of the new mayor;

Mayor Paul TenHaken won’t repeal a Huether-era executive order that threatens punishment for city employees who share confidential information with the public, despite previously saying he would.

I can about imagine the line of BS he was fed from the HR department about keeping this order;

“Rather than continue the practice of having employees sign confidentiality statements, we felt it would be more efficient to place this provision in policy,” O’Toole wrote in an email then.

But confidentiality in different departments means different things, and that is why a ‘blanket’ policy makes NO sense.

Brekke, though, still believes some of the language in the confidentiality executive order is too vague, especially phrases that say city employees shall not share “sensitive information” and only when it’s related to the “business necessity” of the city.

Because those phrases, Brekke said, aren’t strictly defined, it could be causing “a chilling effect” when it comes to city staff’s willingness to share the government’s business with the public and the media.

“I still think it should be rewritten because I still don’t think it’s appropriate for government,” she said. “That might be appropriate if you work for Apple computers, and you can’t let anything leak out of your system. But when you’re working in government, that kind of policy is overly broad.”

If a full repeal is off the table, Brekke said she hopes to have more conversations with both the mayor and O’Toole about softening the executive order or better defining what is and isn’t confidential.

TenHaken said that’s not out of the question.

“There’s really been no issue with it as it’s currently set up. It’s more optics, and I think that’s what Janet wants to address,” he said. “It’s a new day and maybe we could soften it to make sure city employees are comfortable sharing information.”

If I was Brekke, I would take action with council legislation. During the campaign, the public spoke loud and clear, we need MORE transparency in government, not more of the same. But with this issue, Legacy hiring Ketchum and the fiasco with Public Input, it seems that TenHaken is just giving ‘transparency’ lip service and little else.

A charter revision dictated by a petition drive and voters may be on the horizon, sooner, rather than later.

Kudos #3 for the TenHaken Administration today!

And the hits keep coming. Three DaCola ‘wins’ in one day for the TenHaken administration. His Deputy COS announced today that all the audio files for the Parks Board since 2016 are online with a promise to eventually go full audio/video.

See, transparency isn’t that hard, you just have to talk to the right programmers.

Mayor’s 4th of July Parade officially over!

Woot! Woot! The parade is still happening, but it has been turned over to the peeps.

Paul must be feeling pretty good, kudos from DaCola twice in one day.

Mayor TenHaken has changed the name of the 4th of July celebration and has officially made it about Independence instead of Narcissism.

What should Mayor TenHaken work on that was neglected by his predecessor?

Obviously, Paul has a pretty big agenda of his own that he needs to work on. But besides what he wants to accomplish (which we will include in the following list) what else should he focus on?

Transparency. This is a given that Paul promises to work on. It WAS the #1 issue in the last campaign. As I have mentioned besides more communication with the council and public, he must also focus on opening more contracts up to the public for review. This includes anyone applying for TIFs or other government grants and partnerships.

Crime/Meth epidemic. Paul will get a little help in this department from the counties with the triage center. But he will also have to look at how our police department is handling arrests. With an overcrowded jail and a new one a couple of years away, the SFPD needs to focus on handling situations in the field, like I said, the triage center will help with this. Paul also MUST have a better relationship with the police union.

Reducing Homelessness/Hunger. I was impressed with what TenHaken said in a Million Cups debate, he said in 8 years he wants to put the Banquet and Bishop Dudley house out of business. While he may not attain that goal, he should really focus on getting more people off of assistance and on their own feet, this starts with . . .

Workforce development. This is a sticky issue for city government. They can’t really force local businesses to pay living wages, BUT moving forward when attracting new business to Sioux Falls they can ask, very forcefully to provide good wages. The council can even go as far as to shape policy around it.

Public Ambulance Service. While Paul hasn’t really taken a stand on it, that may be a good thing. I think the council could move forward with exploring the possibility and the costs involved. I think it would pay off in the end and would make our community much safer.

Improving Public Transit. This was virtually ignored by the last administration. Not only do we need to make regular service better and more frequent, we need to get costs under control and look at privatizing Paratransit while keeping it affordable.

Revitalizing core neighborhoods. This can be done through revamping community development. One of those hurdles took care of itself yesterday when the director quit. Not only will this help to clean up our core neighborhoods it will help with the affordable housing issues we have.

Updating the city website. This could include a whole host of changes including being able to download city documents, improving transparency and having all the city board meetings available for review with at least audio recordings.

Public Art Funding. I really think the city is missing out on a huge opportunity by not tapping into the entertainment tax fund to use towards public art. Public art promotes tourism and really defines a city’s quality of life. It also promotes local business by using local artists, artisans and contractors to work on the projects. And if nothing else, it makes our city more beautiful and cultural.

Build a Skatepark with a public/private partnership!

UPDATE: TenHaken’s transition team includes Executive from Lloyd Companies

I will admit I was impressed by the people on Paul’s transition team, all very smart and talented, including this curious selection;

former economic development manager and Lloyd Companies executive Erica Beck

While Erica will certainly bring a lot to the table when it comes to urban planning, I think Paul should know better considering this is a HUGE conflict of interest having an executive from a private developer that has reaped millions in TIF’s and special land deals from the city helping with his transition. It doesn’t look good, you know, kind of like getting campaign contributions from toddlers.

As I understand it, Erica was NOT terminated from the city as an urban planner but quit after being forced to write the Sanford Sports Complex TIF after her initial objections. Not only did the TIF set precedent because it was the largest the city had ever issued (I believe around $9 million) it was given to a project that had NO blight. I would also guess that she took issue with her former boss’s incompetence, Darrin Smith. A guy who went from running a non-profit to running the parking ramps in the city to becoming the director of community development. At least Erica will be able to recommend what NOT TO DO.

At least Paul is being transparent about the team.

UPDATE: The story this morning is that Beck is leaving Lloyd companies to work for TenHaken and the city. Not sure if that is the case, but if it is true, I would predict she would either be his Chief of Staff or more likely run Community Development with Ketchum either being terminated or demoted. This would also setup Beck running the Planning Department once Cooper retired. I will say this, Beck is a very talented urban planner and very capable of running any of these departments. If  Paul does bring her on, it shows he wants to surround himself with talented, independent voices, unlike our current King who only wants yes men and liars.

I have also heard from another reporter that Paul’s campaign manager, TJ Nelson will become his deputy chief of staff.

Now that the ‘Dirty’ campaigning is thru, it’s time for the ‘Tool’ to gloat

Pitty just couldn’t wait to take some kind of credit. We will see how long it takes for Paul to ask him to take it down. Remember to put all of your ‘tools’ away after you finish the job.

Congrats to TenHaken and Soehl

Before I go into my congratulatory mode, I want to talk about what went wrong for the two candidates that lost yesterday.

First, Mr. DeBoer. I have to be truly honest with you, I don’t think there was much more that Zach could have done to beat Soehl. I know that he attempted to get Tom Hurlbert’s endorsement, but that was sticky situation for Tom, and probably the reason why he declined. Tom has a successful architecture business and I think it would have been difficult for him to throw his weight behind either Curt or Zach because of those business connections. Hurlbert did the right thing by staying out of the endorsement game. I think where Curt succeeded was garnering the Union support. While he did raise a lot more money than Zach, I didn’t really see where he spent that money in a productive manner.

While Paul claimed he ran a ‘clean campaign’ from all appearances he did. Nothing came negative directly from him or his inner circle. Where the ‘dirty’ campaigning came from was NOT from his ‘tool box’. It came from the Sioux Falls GOP. They sent out nasty emails painting Jolene as a crazy liberal. Also, the endorsement from the Family Heritage Alliance should have been declined by TenHaken, as well as taking money from toddlers. While Paul may claim he personally kept it clean, that is really a fine line considering he could have informed the GOP to stay out of the race. By allowing them to throw the ‘dirt’ and letting the AG put out a misleading press release (the investigation is NOT done yet folks) Paul really did participate in ‘dirty campaigning’ even if he tries to distance himself from it.

Loetscher’s campaign certainly had it’s flaws. From the beginning of the runoff campaign I felt like Jo’s work was cut out for her. After the Argus put out a map showing where the TenHaken support was coming from it was clear to me she needed to put an army of volunteers together knocking on doors in ‘the red hook’ talking about bread and butter issues like infrastructure, property taxes and business experience. She also needed to reassure the people who voted for her to stay the course, and she needed to massage Anderson’s supporters a little bit.

She also reacted poorly to accusations. She should have just ignored them and never brought up the hacking or voicemail. I still think she was ‘framed’. I don’t think the tone of the VM was the issue, it was the fact that Paul left it to begin with. She also should have called the AG’s office and politely ripped them a new one about the premature press release and demanded a retraction. I think it would have just been best if Jo didn’t respond at all to the tricks, but she walked right into the GOP’s trap, hook, line and sinker. This comes from the inexperience of running for such a big position. She should have also hired an independent campaign advisor with NO ties to either political party or just ran the campaign herself with her husband. If she would have I think a lot of the rhetoric coming from the Right would have fallen on deaf ears. I have often encouraged friends who run for city, county or school board positions to register independent before doing so. If you are running for a non-partisan position, you should do it as a non-partisan.

Tenhaken and Soehl ran strong campaigns and deflected criticism well

 I will have to hand it to both of them, the dirt didn’t stick.

Besides the fact that the only dirt on Soehl was his business huckster donor list, which most people don’t pay attention to. He really didn’t have any barbs thrown his way. Besides, what would they have been anyway? As a retired firefighter he had a good resume and image. I do think Soehl can do the job, and it will be interesting to see if he will join the rubberstamp club or be his own voice. I do know that Soehl was NOT afraid to share his opinion during campaigning, and I hope he stays an independent voice moving forward though I still do worry about his donor list. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and see how he votes on the big things concerning our city. I think he is an intelligent person and will give a different perspective, or least I hope he does.

TenHaken has a knack of just brushing things off. That is NOT a bad quality, strong leaders need this appeal. I can also say in my 45 minute conversation with Paul, he intently listened, rarely interrupting, I also hope he continues to listen to the public not just bloggers or the media. This is an area where Huether failed, big time. He had no time for the public’s opinion. Huether is the reason Public input is such a mess, his resistance to the public’s opinion is deplorable and disrespectful. I also think Paul can build a good team, I’m hoping it is not to partisan or religious. He must be the mayor to all people, not just the ones that voted for him or didn’t vote at all. I hope he understands that.

Paul has also made a lot of promises about transparency and embracing diversity, he needs to stick to those promises. I believe that transparency was the #1 issue in this municipal election cycle and if Paul fails on that level I think the council and the public with push back on him hard, and it won’t be a pretty site.

There are many things in Paul’s past that concern me, and like I have said before, people don’t automatically change after they take the oath, we saw that with 8 years of Mr. Nightmare himself. They might even get worse once the power goes to their head. I also hope that Paul works side by side with the council and the media to let the sunshine in, and if he does uncover misdeeds in the previous administration he shares that with the public. You can’t fix mistakes of the past by covering them up, that will just blow up in your face. We only have to look to the siding settlement fiasco as proof. I hope Paul and the council take a good hard look at the city’s finances before moving forward with any major budget decisions.

I will also say this in closing about Paul, I think he is prepared for the job, I think he enjoys challenges and I also genuinely think he cares about people, not sure what the scope of those people are though.

I wish him and Curt well moving forward, 2018 is going to be an exciting time to watch the new administration and council take shape, and as I understand it, lines in the sand are already being drawn on the council before the two new members are even sworn in. Detroit Lewis is going to be a very busy guy over the next couple of months, I’m going to try to embrace the journey and bitch a little less. I know, good luck with that.