Entries Tagged 'Paul Ten Haken' ↓

Has the Midco Aquatic Center caused parking issues around the VA?

I won’t get into the argument about whether we needed an indoor public pool or not in Sioux Falls, that ship has sailed. But I do know the neighbors of Spellerberg opposed the location, mainly due to parking issues with the VA. We all knew at the time that the VA wasn’t going anywhere and was expanding. We also know that the VA has a quit claim deed on Spellerberg, so if they want to expand either buildings or parking, they have the right to do so in Spellerberg park. SAVE Spellerberg warned of these issues before the vote. They fell on deaf ears. Now we have an expanded VA, which needed more parking, so they cancelled their lease with Lifescape and we have an indoor pool with a parking lot next to the VA that sits empty most of the time. Earlier this week, a member of SAVE Spellerberg and a Veteran and Volunteer at the VA sent an email to the City Council, here is a portion of it talking about the parking issues;

Parking is a problem with all city projects going back decades.  The city and NFPs intentionally build where there is insufficient parking expecting residential street parking to be a cost savings option.  City leaders have routinely handed over streets to business for their convenience, making homeowners/taxpayers second class to the business of city hall.

Not only do I personally think Spellerberg Park was a bad location for an indoor pool, the evidence is showing that it was a HORRIBLE location. Destroying a park for larger parking, and not having any space for expansion of the facility.

I truly believe if the pool would not have gone in there, the VA would have been able to expand parking to accommodate their future needs as well as Lifescape. I found it interesting that NO ONE brought up the reason why there is congestion, because all of the facilities next to each other. Maybe this SAVE Spellerberg person is right;

Lifescape’s poor planning the last 30 years has caused them with the help of city leaders to promote the decline of the very neighborhood that has supported them.

Maybe this is one of the reasons they put Midco at Spellerberg, so they could institutionalize the neighborhood. Seems their plan hit a snag Tuesday Night.

UPDATE: Hey, Mayor TenHaken, there are poor kids in Sioux Falls to

While I commend PTH for wanting to do charity work half-way across the world, he should look in his backyard;

He may now be Mayor, but that’s not stopping TenHaken from making his annual trip to help those in need in a Haitian city called Ti Riviere.

“This is how I’m going to spend a week of vacation every year. This is not a city junket. This is not a political trip. This is me needing to go to Haiti to recharge my batteries and get some perspective each year,” TenHaken said.

Just look at our school system, half of the students are on FREE and reduced lunches. Some of the schools in the poorer neighborhoods are around 90%. Recently a study determined that a neighborhood by North Cliff is a food dessert. The Banquet is expanding to the Westside of the city. Week after week a concerned citizen shows up to the city council meeting and begs the mayor to open a temporary shelter for those who get turned away at the other ‘god-fearing’ joints. There is county a few hundred miles from here on the reservation that is considered the poorest in the nation. If PTH wants to help the poor, he just needs to look out the backdoor of city hall. With our low wage work environment, he will find plenty who need help.

UPDATE: I also find it a bit ironic that PTH mentions this was NOT a junket but he paid for it himself. Did you know Sioux Falls mayors have unlimited vacation time? And I guess PTH has been maxing that fringe benefit quite a bit. This is why he had to allow COS Beck to be part-time mayor in his absence.

But it gets even better, I guess Public Works director Cotter went along for the ride to study ‘infrastructure’. No offense, but wouldn’t you be studying the ‘LACK’ of infrastructure? Also if this was a ‘fact finding’ mission for Cotter, did the taxpayers of Sioux Falls pay for it? Did PTH pay his way? As I understand it, this is missionary work, and the fine line between government and religion could have been crossed. But I think the pressing question is, ‘Who in their right mind would take a vacation with their boss, to an undeveloped country, to read the bible to the natives?’

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.