Entries Tagged 'Paul Ten Haken' ↓

Sioux Falls Weather Peeps: HUGE FAIL!

I sometimes wonder if our grocery stores are secretly giving money under the table to our local weather peeps? I drove around tonight at 8:30 PM. Thirty-four degrees, streets completely clear and barely a half-inch of snow on my sidewalk. I saw very little traffic. If I was the hospitality industry in SF I would threaten to sue the TV stations for killing weekend business. Stop telling us that it ‘could’ be a blizzard? Your forecasting not only sucks, you are doing a disservice to the retail and hospitality industry in Sioux Falls.

UPDATE: KSFY edits Councilor Stehly’s ‘OPINION’ after Mayor TenHaken sends out chastising email to the media and Theresa

UPDATE: Just when you thought this couldn’t get any better, KSFY decided to put Stehly’s comments back in the story with this disclaimer;

Mayor Paul TenHaken has called into question Stehly’s comment about sewer bills rising to $300 a month. He calls it an absurd assertion. KSFY News initially removed the comment after the story aired over concerns that it was confusing, but we have since put the comment back in. Stehly says she stands by her comment.

Prairie Values TV Journalism at it’s best. Maybe KSFY should just stick to doing stories about charity dog races, halloween decorations and food trucks and let the newspaper and blogs cover the ‘real’ news.

It is one thing to edit a story based on having a name misspelled, or numbers and places that or incorrect. That is responsible journalism. But to edit an ‘Opinion’ of an elected official after another elected official in same government entity sends out an email, well, is horrible journalism. I often chuckle at Trump when he says ‘Fake News’ but in this case, one has to wonder.

The other night on KSFY they did a story on the wastewater treatment plant, Councilor Stehly said she has a ‘concern’ that water bills could exceed $300 dollars a month. While I kind of cringed when she said that, it is what it is, an OPINION. (she really isn’t that far off the mark, while our bills will increase $2 a month, for a small business owner they could easily see bills increasing to $300. In fact, over the past decade our water/sewer bills have increased 93%).

Well this ‘Opinion’ did not sit well with Selfie Paul, he sent out this email to city staff and the media (I was conveniently NOT included);

Councilor Stehly:

Thank you for the opportunity this week to once again provide you with information on the Water Reclamation System. Upcoming investments in the collection and treatment systems is a foundational investment crucial to both current and future residents who expect a reliable wastewater collection and treatment system.

The administration has invested hundreds of hours on this project due to the importance of this infrastructure for our city as well as the large price tag attached to it. We have also spent time briefing the City Council, media and public on the importance of this project.

Unfortunately, this week you broke a sacred trust elected leaders have with their constituents. As elected officials we have an obligation to present factual information to the public. That is what I have done in my role as mayor and that is what I expect of city employees. Yesterday, on KSFY and on Tuesday at City Council Informational you stated wastewater customers will experience a $300 per month rate increase as a result of this project. Spreading such misinformation when factual projections have been presented to you is a disservice to your constituents and I’m disappointed you knowingly spread this false information.

Talk about misinformation! It was simply an opinion of ONE city councilor. In the original KSFY story (the edited version is here) Stehly’s ‘Opinion’ was in there, after this email was sent it was edited out of the video (almost) and the text.

Ironically though they didn’t edit the close captioning, it still remains there;

I’m NOT blaming the reporter for this, I’m sure the higher ups made this decision to edit the story, which makes it even more egregious. There’s a fine line between FACTS and OPINIONS, maybe someone should explain this to the producers of KSFY or more importantly the Mayor.

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.