Entries Tagged 'Public Works' ↓

Cotter Clutter

“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.

The Jesus Plows are back!


Lutheran School’s ode to fish and Jesus.


While stating you are ‘Christ the King’ school is not an issue, the Cross to the far left may be.

You sometimes wonder what part of the US Constitution government officials don’t understand when it comes to the 1st Amendment? Thomas Jefferson made it clear;

Jefferson’s metaphor of a wall of separation has been cited repeatedly by the U.S. Supreme Court. In Reynolds v. United States (1879) the Court wrote that Jefferson’s comments “may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the [First] Amendment.” In Everson v. Board of Education (1947), Justice Hugo Black wrote: “In the words of Thomas Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect a wall of separation between church and state.”

Many have argued against it, like our city attorney and mayor, but they are hardly our founding fathers who formed our democracy and wrote our bill of rights and constitution. The separation of government and religion is there to protect all of us, not just Christians.

The sad part of this is that after already being warned that this was not a good practice, the city relies on a disclaimer that is too small to read as a snow plow comes flying by with Jesus painted on the front. It just doesn’t pass the smell test. Why not just implement a policy that is simple;

Schools are discouraged of painting words or symbols on government owned property that promote a certain religion or sect. For example; Star of David, Muslim moon or the the Christian cross. If a school is not willing to abide by those rules, their ‘artwork’ will be painted over.

Wow! How simple is that?

For the record, I don’t have an issue with the Christian schools painting ‘God’ on the snowplows, that is a general term that doesn’t refer to a particular religion and well within 1st Amendment rights. Other words such as ‘faith’ or ‘spirituality’ are also acceptable.

Government property should not be used to promote a certain religion. Period. Many great societies immigrated to our country to rid themselves of religious persecution. They were tired of government telling them how to worship, or to worship at all. With freedom of religion, comes freedom from religion. Government has no place in it, and our Mayor, City Attorney and Public Works department should not allow it on government property.

CityLink tries to one up Cameraman Bruce

Here is their tour of the Water Reclamation Plant.

Here is ours (several months ago);

Sioux Falls Public Works Director, Mark Cotter, stretches the truth a bit


As you can see from the chart above, that was presented to the Sioux Falls City Council during the budget hearing yesterday, Mark says we have $7 million in ‘DEBT’. He goes on to explain that we have extremely low debt for the water department.

At first I thought the number seemed a bit low, I wasn’t the only one. Councilor Stehly asks Mark what we have in the Water Department’s enterprise reserve fund, he tells her around $22 million. So then councilor Stehly asks, “Why not just pay off our debt?” Then Cotter admits that we actually have over $76 million in water department debt, and the $7 million number is actually ‘DEBT SERVICE’ for 2017.

These are the games the city directors play with presentations, they intentionally leave out certain words and key information in order to confuse constituents and councilors.

Most of debt is due to the Lewis & Clark pipeline (you know, that $80 million dollar pipe that trickles around 10% of our water supply to us).


Is the mayor’s #1 Cheerleader also a bad neighbor?

Not sure if this is the same person who hosts the mayor on his local radio show once a month (Items #24 & #26) but if it is, I would love for Mike to ask him “Why are you a bad neighbor?” on his next appearance.


You will also see Item#25, Project Trim, forcing and charging citizens to trim trees the city owns. This program needs to be abolished.

Two Thumbs up to Zach DeBoer, Two Thumbs down to the SF traffic department


Screenshot, KSFY-TV

I applaud Zach for his perseverance and volunteerism;

A local business owner says he was so determined to see more parking in downtown that he proposed an idea, involving 60 new parking spots and a bicycle lane. It’s been a project that’s been a year in the making and, with the approval of the City Council, it’s almost complete.

In the early afternoon heat of Thursday morning, the sound of spray paint could be heard along north Main Avenue in downtown Sioux Falls.

“I said ‘Listen, I think this is important for these reasons and I’ll do it, like I’ll come out and I’ll paint it myself” said Zach DeBoer, owner of Exposure Art Gallery on Phillips Avenue.

And for the last two days, that’s exactly what he’s done, putting the finishing touches on a project that he’s been working on for the last year.

What was once duct tape outlining parking spots one September for Food Truck Friday… is now permanent.

So you might be wondering, how is this legal and how did Zach DeBoer do it? After the success of the duct tape parking spots last September, DeBoer drew some “amateur versions” of the proposed new ideas to the City Traffic Engineer with one question, was it possible?

From there, a team looked at the idea and said that the measurements and everything was good. He just needed to get the neighborhood on board.

“What I needed to do is get approval from 80 percent of the property owners located on both sides of the street that would be affected by it,” explained DeBoer. He went door to door and explained that the new idea would not only help their businesses by bringing in more customers with more parking spots but that it would also increase the property’s value.

The hardest part, DeBoer explained, was tracking down phone numbers and email addresses of property owners and getting them to listen past ‘Hey, so…’. But with the 80% approval the project moved forward, to changing the stretch of road on north Main Avenue.

Starting Tuesday, workers stripped the only center lines and painted not only the new center but also the bike lane. That’s when Zach DeBoer, owner of Exposure Art Gallery located on Phillips Avenue, bought spray paint and started painting the 60 new parking spots.

While the city claims that it is legal for Zach to do this because of the 80% approval from the neighborhood, one has to question the liability of the city and and safety concerns of having a citizen buying his own paint and standing in a public street painting stripes?

It’s bad enough citizens risk their safety trimming city owned trees in the boulevard now they have citizens striping the streets, something public works and the traffic department should have paid for and contracted after Zach did the legwork of the approval process. Are we so destitute for money in the city we now are having citizens buying and painting city streets?

Two thumbs down to the city of Sioux Falls.

*Note; I did not speak with Mr. DeBoer about this before posting or his feelings on volunteering his time and capital.

Dan Daily weighs in on the McKennan House trial

Dan would know, he experienced it first hand;

He was told it was his responsibility to prove his innocence; which he did five years and $40,000 later in the South Dakota Supreme Court. But in his opinion, it should have never gotten that far.

“The city does not allow appeals in court,” he added, “They make all these rules and they can’t enforce them; they can’t take you to court.”

Barbara and Pierce McDowell and Joseph and Sarah Sapienza entered litigation after the McDowells claim the Sapienza’s home is built far too close to theirs. However, Daily says the frustration should be directed at the city who gave the green light on construction.

“The city by charter is supposed to protect citizens, and they don’t.”

Fiddle-Faddle and the Mayor use the city charter to punish citizens while covering their asses. It is a perfect example of what a charter should NOT look like.

Ignore the crappy roads, they will always be crappy


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.


Busted! City’s intermingling of CIP and Enterprise fund money

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.

Tree Trim Talk

Published on Jun 12, 2016

Cut them all down and we would never have to hear about them again. No more crimes against the state, city or God. Punish the trees and all who sit under them to cool off during a hot summer day! But then again, if we allow trees to grow our code enforcement officers have a way to control the unwashed masses who try to own property.

A bit extreme? Yea, but when you watch the masters of city control demand we trim nonexistent tree branches or face punishment by the fines we get a bit upset. The Sioux Falls and Brandon City Councils get together several times a year to learn from each other. On June 8, 2016 was another of those dinner meetings and Cameraman Bruce tagged along with you guessed it, his camera. No Rex-Tex Golfing there trying to break the camera, only a lively open discussion of several topics of interest.

Operation Trim is a poorly conceived and executed program designed to abuse citizens. It is a program designed to force the population of Sioux Falls to do the work the city should be doing. The trees in the street-side right of way are the property of the city of Sioux Falls, lock, stock and barrel. Through the years property owners are forced to buy, plant and nurture the trees to create the small town image. Granted we like the image but we have also learned a great deal about the downsides of right of way trees.

The city of Brandon has become very progressive and less regressive in the life of trees. Sioux Falls should stop and examine how stupid our Operation Trim is. This is our second time hearing about the program from Brandon Council members and maybe the city should consider their methods.