ArtMaze, one of the better parts of Sioux Falls life in 2016
2016 has been a rough year for citizen activism. While it has been up and down here in Sioux Falls with many successes and failures to boot, it seems Washington DC has gone into full collapse as we allowed racist, sexist, hillbillies to elect our president.
But locally there were three things that stood out;
• Governor Daugaard claiming that voters were ‘hoodwinked’ into voting for IM 22, then getting the Pierre (in)justice system to go along with it. Funny how for over 40 years voters have been voting his party into power, and no word about ‘hoodwinking’ but once that corrupt power will be challenged, all the voters are idiots. As one official told me that used to work for Dennis, it’s not the public that are idiots, it’s Dennis. And his idiocy has been shining through.
• The South Dakota Democratic Party’s bottom completely fell out, and the people in charge patted themselves on the back. Insanity I tell you! Insanity!
• But one of the greatest achievements of the year is the Sioux Falls City Council’s change of power. The four new councilors have been flexing their muscles with a little help from Councilor Erickson, and while they have had a few missteps to start out, they have been learning from the battle scars. While ‘leadership’ of the council (Rolfing and Kiley) seem to be on a two man mission to rubberstamp all things Huether, shut down public input, and concoct false ethics charges against a fellow councilor (until they got caught lying like the snakes they are) they are becoming more and more in check. The city council has many big plans for 2017, and I have a feeling their agenda will push through easily as our lame duck mayor melts.
Let’s take a look at some the finer high and low points of 2016;
• The Huether Tennis center continues to block parking from other event attendees at the Sanford Sports complex though they basically stole $500K from taxpayers for the facility. Throughout the year there was several reports on cones and signs blocking the lot with not cars in it. But hey Mike’s Bride won an award this year and seemed surprised she did, without commenting that her check to the organization that gave the award wasn’t returned.
• The Sioux Falls City Council leadership and mayor’s HR department pulled a military retiree out of their asses for city clerk, a person who will be in charge of our city elections and hasn’t been registered to vote for years. He also proved his knowledge of official stamps when he stamped a petition without even bothering to read it. While Mr. Greco has gotten better over the year, the city clerk position should not be a $80K+ a year job as an apprentice, sadly being trained by one of his assistant clerks who has ten times the qualifications and applied for the position but was turned down. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the council chair’s view of women in the work place.
• Speaking of letting the mayor’s HR department and Leadership’s Mutt and Jeff pick the next internal auditor, the council barked loud enough that they did not want another ‘Greco’ pick. Not sure if the barking worked, but the person who was set to take the job saw the writing on the wall and turned it down. Hopefully the person who ultimately gets the position won’t be turned down because they shave their legs.
• The city continues to blow money on the Winter Wonderland Display, but the way the mayor has been cutting budgets these days, I expect next year’s display to be a couple of homeless barrel fire pits, sponsored by the Dudley House of course.
• After posting about the ridiculous corporate like raises the mayor has been giving to his management team, he turns around and still screws the minions with dismal raises again this year. I think in a special note to the city employees on their Christmas paystub he wrote, “I don’t care.”
• The city continues the FREE condom distribution program at area bars, and for some reason Monk’s is always emptied the quickest. Coincidence that is also a favorite watering hole of city managers . . .
• The Tuthill shooting case becomes ‘inactive’ and a tree branch shadow gets off scott free.
• The Erp wrongfully calls out local massage therapists as prejudice because they pointed out the ‘shower massages’ that were taking place around town. Apparently someone got a bad fortune cookie that day.
• The car rental tax and BID tax grabby-grabby fails in Sioux Falls, but the state legislature passes one of the most idiotic tax increases ever so our teachers are now just tied for last instead of dead last in pay. Out hoodwinking governor already has plans to rob the pot only one year after its passage.
• Hartford’s city government was in a state of collapse. Who really cares?
• The Levitt Pavilion is moving forward in Sioux Falls. It will be nice watching outdoor concerts sitting in the grass while battery acid is boiling beneath our asses.
• The Boulevard ordinance changes went into effect. Now stop worrying about rocks and plant a garden.
• The Washington Pavilion got a change of leadership after Darrin Smith takes over as President. So far he has only eliminated one director, but I hear the blood-letting has just begun. Now let’s throw another couple of million at the place to fix the poor construction to begin with. That will never happen with the Events Center . . .
• The Events Center cracks down on outside snacks and guns at events. We are all now safe from cheap fat people shooting us, but not in the parking lot.
• The Pottie Room war starts in Pierre and is guaranteed to return in 2017.
• A city council candidate throws a hissy fit over a post I wrote about his wife’s involvement with the Jesus plows and after threats to my employer I pull the post. He ends up taking last place in the at-large race. How’s Jesus working out for you now?
• Due to health reasons, Kermit Staggers decides not to run for a 4th term on the city council. His endorsement of Stehly puts her over the top.
• One of the youngest candidates in city history runs for city council. I apologize to Briggs for all the shitty things I said about him during the campaign.
• The Argus Leader sues the city for the details in the secret events center siding settlement. The Argus loses the first round but it is headed to the SD Supreme Court.
• On a similar note, the SON neighborhood is also awaiting a judgement in their Walmart suit with the SD Supreme Court.
• The Mayor and Q-Tip Smith screwup the DT parking ramp development by flapping their traps to soon, and the council later on in the year returns the favor and defunds the ramp all together for 2017. I still think the fiasco is what got Smith to seek refuge at the Pavilion.
• City officials throw a hissy-fit over Bruce’s camera at a city meeting we were invited to by then city councilor Kenny Anderson. Looking back on it now, I just chuckle.
• Bruce and I do a presentation on voter turnout in Sioux Falls at Democratic Forum and one of the mayor’s buddy developers in Sioux Falls tries to shut us down. When he fails, he walks out. Another casualty to transparency.
Here are some leading questions after the collapse;
• Will Downtown businesses be reimbursed for lost business by the construction company’s insurance? Most of these businesses are family owned, they don’t have a lot of buffer like national franchises especially during one of the busiest shopping times of the year.
• Will the city be reimbursed for the enormous cost of the rescue and security efforts? While most would argue this is part of paying taxes, sometimes those costs go above and beyond.
• What is the signifigance of the meeting on Monday between the city, OSHA, Hultgren and the families affected? Will they be talking about a private settlement?
• Since Legacy Development was one of the companies to bid on the future parking ramp, were they chosen? And if so, will the city pull the contract? Will the public ever be told? Do we have a right to know?
Who are the private investors in Legacy Development?
One of the biggest questions that has been boiling to the top all week – did any of the city councilors, county commissioners or even the Mayor have investments with Legacy, Hultgren or with the PAVE or Lewis project? And if so, isn’t this a conflict of interest, especially since the construction company has gotten quite a few ‘passes’ from the city’s planning/building services office? This speculation comes from the city’s decision to launch NO investigation of their own and a desire to not press charges unless OSHA finds serious fault. Think about it, Cameraman Bruce was arrested and taken to court over a stack of shingles and the possibility of a couple of mice, something the city called a health/public nuisance. Doesn’t it seem silly the city is worried about a couple of mice, but not that a man died in a construction accident? It just doesn’t add up.
I will tell you folks, this goes deeper, and I think some people with some serious connections are involved. Notice the rancor coming from the city lately about the media stirring the pot, they are trying to squelch the message and kill the messenger.
It will be interesting to see who is holding the bag when the smoke clears . . . it may just be one of the biggest scandals this city has ever seen, it will make the secret million dollar settlement on the EC look like vandalism under the 10th Street bridge.
Another meeting the city of Sioux Falls should have covered but they forgot their Handicam at the office. The town is going to spend over $1,000,000 per block rebuilding Phillips Avenue in downtown and a couple of people show up at the Public Library on November 29, 2016.
A few things to note in this presentation are the continuation of the bump-out and trees but to where and why. Those of us in the audience didn’t disagree in principle with the plan but so few showed up to talk about it. This is one of those needed updates to the underground infrastructure but the frosting on top still leaves long stretches of parking lots to prevent long walks between possible shops.
Notice the expensive Saddam Arch of Questionable Dreams gets a fancy approach on 7th Street. Will Raven feel like giving up some of their property to allow it?
The planners actually would like your feedback. Overall it will improve the stretch of roadway above and below ground. Let’s all join the moderator of the event in scratching our heads over it a bit.
“Mark, I don’t like this one.” Huh? Why would a mayor and moderator of the Sioux Falls City Council meeting get in the middle of the deliberations (October 11, 2016)? In our video you get to see out of protocol the mayor was.
To question a city department director when the mayor was part of the decision to bring the proposal to the Council for consideration is laying blame in the wrong spot. This is why the council needs to start setting the agenda with proposed legislation and not the mayor’s office.
At the Sioux Falls city council informational meeting yesterday we had a presentation about the conditions of our roads in Sioux Falls from a consultant who studied them last year. They put in a rating system on the roads.
After Councilor Stehly asked why we will not be putting more focus on the worst of the worst streets, Mark Cotter explained that we must focus on the fair streets more to keep them resurfaced before they get bad. Which I am in partial agreement. He concluded that it cost 8x more to replace a bad street then to just resurface. Stehly argued that we should be doing more to fix the bad streets.
Of course the naysayers came out in full force. First they complained the money wasn’t there, than in classic ‘make stuff up Michelle’, Erpenbach basically claimed we were driving on streets of gold.
I will agree with her partially. Anybody visiting our community will see our arterials and main routes are in very good shape, our residential streets in Sioux Falls central and proper, not so much.
I encourage anyone to either drive, or better yet take a bike ride starting at Nick’s Gyros on 41st street and zig zag through the neighborhoods towards 14th and Minnesota. Some of the roads are in such bad shape there are weeds growing in the center cracks. They are so bad, you can tell they are not only in need of replacement, but full curb and gutter, sidewalks, drainage and probably pipe upgrades, that is why the city is scared the death of opening that can of worms. They are willing to let the central part of our community suffer (where they are building a brand new swimming pool) in the name of urban sprawl.
Erpenbach goes on to say that roads become an issue in the Spring because of potholes, but no one talks about it any other time. Huey. This coming from a councilor who hasn’t talked to a constituent since she was elected. People complain about our roads 24/7, 365 days out of the year. It’s not just during campaign season.
So how can we fix the really bad roads while maintaining our urban sprawl? I have suggested a 1-2 year moratorium on quality of life projects, (façade) maintenance on entertainment facilities, flat line the parks budget, subsidizing non-essential non-profits, etc. I bet we could easily squeeze out an extra $20-30 million dollars for streets (you know, the original intention of the CIP to begin with).
This would of course take planning and courage, something that is in short supply at city hall these days.
Remember only a few short months ago before the city election when the Public Works department and Mayor’s office were in maximum B.S. mode? I know, hard to keep track.
We were essentially told that water rates had to increase because they were a separate ‘enterprise fund’ and the fees you pay towards water and sewer went directly towards fixing water and sewer. They also told us in that same breath that ‘they could’ use CIP money (2nd penny) for upgrades to water and sewer, but didn’t because of the enterprise fund.
Now comes along Item #55 in the Sioux Falls City council agenda for Tuesday night (click on item then click on the PDF in the upper right corner). Seems the Water department and the Streets department are having a regular old poker game with our money, and chips are going all over the place. So how is it we can give road money to the Water department and Water money to the roads? I thought they came out of separate funds?
Once again more hyperbole fed to us before an election. At least we didn’t end up with another $180 million dollar white elephant this time.
After digging around through some news articles, it seems the 2nd penny (and zoned snow removal) came to fruition in 1983 due to the efforts of the first female elected city commissioner Loila Hunking, who was in charge of public works. The 2nd penny was supposed to be ‘temporary’.
While Hunking was re-elected in 1986 to the commission, she was defeated in 1989, and in that short 6 years, the 2nd penny already became permanent, and one of it’s first projects that wasn’t dedicated to streets was cleaning up Falls Park.
I have not seen Loila in years. I first met her in 1992 while working for late state legislator Pat Pilcher at her print shop downtown in the former Lewis Drug.
Loila is an amazing person. Many of my political opinions about abortion and women’s fair pay were shaped around listening to Pat and Loila chew the fat.
Maybe someone needs to hook up a DaCola interview with her?
We believe the water system should pay for itself, through the users, and that pricing for those services needs to help drive conservation.
If we feel our water bills are too high, maybe we can start by using less water?
Uh, yes, what a freaking concept. This poor stupid hippie in me has all of sudden forgotten about ‘conservation’. Except the fact of the glaring irony of your statement (so bold and finger pointing). Water rates did not go up for decades because the city was selling water at an all time high. In fact, during the Hanson administration, the water plant almost blew up. Really, it almost did. Or was it Munson? I forget.
So then we had exploding sewer pipes, etc. The city said, ‘Goddammit we are going to conserve!’ Bravo! They started handing out toilet rebates like candy and fancy low flow shower heads and garden hose thingies.
We were on our way to catching up with modern society, because once we conserve, our water rates would go down. I jest.
Quite the opposite. We started conserving, even at a record amount, then came that pesky Events Center and Jason Aldean concerts. How to pay for them? Well, it is quite simple. We start making water users, even the ones that conserve like a camel in a dessert, pay for pipes that orginally came from the 2nd penny infrastructure funds.
Oh, and what about all this urban sprawl, Foundation Park and the 22 Walmarts we need to build in the middle of cornfields? We gotta pay for pipes to them to. It’s all about those high paying jobs, you know.
So what has all this brilliant conservation gotten us? Well we got this awesome $80 million dollar pipeline that really only helped our Iowa neighbors get cheaper water that we only use about 10% of the time (because we are mandated to).
So if we really want to talk conservation and lower rates, let’s have this seventh grade math problem conversation. Those who truly conserve should pay on a sliding scale with those who don’t (and I mean a real one). In other words, if the average single family household uses less then that amount each month, they should get a substantial discount, if they don’t they should get a hefty ‘service charge’ for not conserving.
Isn’t that the enduring concept behind ‘conservation’? The less you use, the less you pay? Because the last I checked when I opened up my water bill this last month, there wasn’t a free pair of tickets to see Paul McCartney.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – A nonprofit that has provided a variety of programs to youth on South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Indian Reservation is set to establish an arts institute in 2017 that will provide the community greater access to traditional Lakota arts, fine art, and graffiti and street art. The institute is a project […]
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