Entries Tagged 'Public Works' ↓

The changing story about snow gates

 

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The above picture was sent to me by a reader that told me they didn’t even bother dropping the snow gate on his driveway, but did across the street. They also didn’t do a very good job on my driveway, my berm was over a foot high, while my neighbors had less, with longer driveways. I guess the snow plow drivers are determining who gets snow gate service thru the eeny-meeny-miney-mo process. That’s not how we wrote the ballot initiative AND now I am wondering what the consequences if an operator isn’t attempting to do it right? In other cities if the gates are not done right you can call into public works and they will come and clean it for you. There are some factors here to consider, the operators are paid an hourly wage, in other words if they have to slow down a bit, it is not going to affect their workload. Something else I like to remind people that the end of your driveway is OWNED by the city, clearing the streets IMO is no different then taking care of the curb. The Public Works department encourages residents to call them if they missed your driveway, so they can assess the situation.

There has often been an argument from the Public Works department that they really don’t work as well on long driveways and snows over 6 inches, which I find to be misleading.

Just yesterday I witnessed (below graphic) a snowplow operator kind of put that argument to shame. As I was sitting at the light on 49th street waiting to merge onto Western Ave. two snowplows going South on Western passed by. The first one had no snow gate, the second did, and he dropped it across 5 lanes of traffic (hardly slowing down) and I didn’t see any snow come over the snow gate until he was almost all the way across. As we said while doing research on snow gates across the country, they work on long driveways and in deep snow, now if our Public Works department will just choose to use them properly and often.

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When snow gates don’t work it’s operator error

Once again, the half-ass TV news in our town is trying to claim snow gates don’t work. Well they do, it’s like any mechanical device, when operated properly it works. It would be like me taking a shotgun back to the store and asking for a refund because though I shot at the pheasants, I never killed any. Never mind the fact that I haven’t hunted in over 20 years and couldn’t aim to save my life.

Take for instance this last snowfall. During the first snowfall, the snowplow operator nailed my driveway, this time around, not so much. It appears they dropped it for a brief moment and lifted it back up right away. Still not complaining, better then the 2 foot berm I had before. Only took me about 5 scoops to clean out.

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People, this comes down to using them properly. I have seen a ton of video footage of snowplow operators using snow gates in other communities ‘properly’ and they work. In one video the snowplow didn’t even slow down, and nailed the gate in about 10 inches of snow past a double driveway.

It’s going to take time and experience from the operators to get better at it. If you have any recommendations or complaints you can call the Public Works department at 367-8255.

In other news, the Kings Fishers are putting up a funny billboard in town. Thanks Mayor Mike for politicizing this.

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Using Winter Wonderland as an example for separation of church and state

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As I was pondering the snow plow issue and all the crazy letters to the editor of people defending the violation of the establishment clause (because, you know, none of these people would be willing to paint Jesus Christ on the sides of their vehicles, well within their 1st Amendment rights, but defend it on government property). It reminded me of a discussion about what to name ‘Winter Wonderland’ when first proposed during the Munson administration. I remember there was a brief discussion when naming it, I think one of the suggestions was ‘Christmas at the Falls’. Not sure who got involved (City Attorney?) but I fondly remember someone within city government recommending it takes on a generic term not associated with a religious holiday. Smart move.

So what does this have to do with Jesus plows? It seems there are people who are intelligent enough about Constitutional law that work for the city (or worked for them at one time) to know you can’t cross that line while using tax dollars. So Huether shouldn’t act so surprised that this has become an issue. Of course, Huether knew nothing about local government or history of it until he started to run for mayor. History isn’t his strong suit.

As for the display itself, While I think it is a great idea, I think it could be done differently. Other cities do similiar displays but they have businesses volunteer the expense and labor and use it as an opportunity for teambuilding around Christmas. Workers and their families of the businesses that donate volunteer their time to set up the display then the city foots the bill of the electricity. They do have sponsors, but city employees do all the set-up. In fact, mostly public works department workers from the forestry division begin assembling the display starting October 1st. Which I find ironic in itself. One time when I questioned the city about project TRIM and why the city’s forestry department just didn’t trim trees that residences couldn’t reach in the boulevard, they replied, “We don’t have enough staff or enough time.” But taking almost two months to put up Christmas lights, plenty of time for. Just imagine how many trees could be trimmed in that same time period?

Once again, the city proves it’s priorities towards citizens and the law.

 

UPDATE: Mayor Huether proves once again he doesn’t understand the US Constitution

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Triple-M doesn’t realize the Lutheran School doesn’t own the snowplows, we do, the taxpayers, while they can practice their ‘freedom of expression’ on government owned property, they cannot promote a particular religion (it really is that simple). If they want to paint privately owned school property, more power to them;

But Huether seemed adamant that the plow blades wouldn’t be removed.

“We are not going to be painting over those plow blades. We will not be painting over them unless I get some Supreme Court case that says that I have to,” Huether said.

Heuther is also reluctant to suggest changes to the “Paint the Plows” program for fear of trampling on the First Amendment rights of participating schools.

“That’s one of the things we’re struggling with,” said Huether. “How do we move forward and still allow people to have freedom of expression?”

Mr. Huether may just get his wish. Watch for the ACLU to be all over this. I also suspect the NCAC may jump into this. So now the mayor is willing to waste tax dollars on Supreme Court cases because he doesn’t have a clue about our US Constitution. How did I know he was going to take this stance?

During the recent informational today, Staggers was defending the plows, calling it a ‘political issue’. No Kermit, it is a Constitutional issue. It is one thing to ‘express’ yourself about a season (winter) and it seems all the other schools figured it out, it is entirely another issue to be disguising ‘artistic expression’ with a ‘Biblical message’.

Also, last I checked, artistic expression relates to somewhat original ideas, there was nothing original from stenciling already existing designs. Someone else also expressed to me we may be opening up ourselves to copyright infringement laws with Coca-Cola.

I will give city attorney Fiddle-Faddle credit, he told councilor Staggers that it was a ‘legal’ issue, and it is, a Constitutional legal issue. And Fiddle should be well-versed in them, he has plenty of case law proving the city doesn’t understand Constitutional law.

Arterial Road Funding to be discussed Tuesday at SF City Council Informational meeting

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I think this graphic pretty much says it all

City councilor Kenny Anderson Jr. Plans to discuss proposed changes to arterial street funding. Anderson and Public Works Director Mark Cotter will be making a joint presentation.

This of course all stems from the 6 year anniversary (2008) of raising the 2nd penny tax to a full penny after developers and city administrators made false promises to the city council in order for the tax increase. The developers haven’t even came within striking distance of their promised 60% input. The entire tax increase was based entirely on lies and a failing economy that was evident at the time of the increase.

One proposal would be to keep the tax increase in place and simply ONLY match developers platting fees for arterial road expansion. Any additional money from the tax increase would go towards existing road maintenance, not expansion.

May explain why traffic is such a mess in our city

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IMAGE: Argus Leader Media video screenshot
That’s right folks, this is what our Principal Traffic Engineer’s desk looks like. I would think a traffic engineer (the head one) would be more organized? Guess not. And if anyone thinks I am being mean to this guy, I have been in he mayor’s office and his desk looks about the same.
I also thought municipalities had standards on how their desks should be organized.
I think the pink post it note above his computer says, “Reminder, Clean desk.”
I can hear Heath already, “I just haven’t had time to clean my desk, I have been helping Building Services enter building permits into the system.”

Why is the city planning to divert federal housing rehabilitation money into a youth center?

Why is Community Development diverting $10,000 (federal dollars) from the Single Family Housing Rehab Program to a non-profit?

As I understand it the VOA (Volunteers of America) are good at securing free government grant money.  Why would the City agree to give them $10,000 (or is it $35,000–see below) especially since there is such a high demand for housing rehab dollars?

The following public notice is on the homepage of siouxfalls.org

Public Notice

This notice provides the public an opportunity to examine and comment on proposed Amendment #4 to the 2014 Action Plan for the City of Sioux Falls for a period of 30 days. Low- and moderate-income persons, racial and ethnic minorities, non-English speaking persons, and persons with disabilities are specifically encouraged to examine the proposed amendment. The Action Plan is part of the City’s Consolidated Plan. It identifies specific activities to be undertaken with the use of federal funding from both the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and Home Investment Partnerships (HOME) program. Anyone wishing to comment on the proposed amendment should do so in writing and send the same to Community Development, 235 West 10th Street, PO Box 7402, Sioux Falls, SD, 57117-7402. Written comments must include the name and address of the individual submitting the comment. The comment period ends at 5 p.m. on November 10, 2014.

Project 503-302. Additional CDBG funding of $10,000 will be provided Volunteers of America, Dakotas for Bowden Center Improvements for a revised allocation of $35,000. The center is located at 430 West 11th Street. Improvements will be made to the center’s outdoor recreation space. Bowden Youth Center offers education and creative opportunities in a safe, supportive environment as well as recreational activities. The funds will be provided as a no-interest deferred loan. Total estimated project cost is $62,200. The additional CDBG funding will be reallocated from the Single-Family Housing Rehabilitation program.

I am all for the city gifting money from the CIP to help with this project but instead we are diverting Federal money set aside for housing rehabilitation. That is what the Federal money gives it to us for, not playgrounds.

Something smells fishy here.

Who needs snow gates when you have Jesus?

Every year the SF Public Works department allows the ‘schools’ to paint the snowplow blades.

Now have yourself an ice cold glass of Jesus Christ.

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Stehly to be guest on VPU on KSOO today @ 5

Theresa will be talking about her possible petition drive to stop the city from dictating how much landscaping can be in your boulevard. Tree trimming may also be attached to the petition (The city will work in partnership with citizens to trim the boulevard trees, instead of doing it and charging/fining citizens).

Better call code enforcement

Looks like someone wasn’t securing their load, wait, what does the license plate say? Nevermind.

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