Entries Tagged 'Public Works' ↓

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

christ-plow

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.

christ-plow

 

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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Is there Competitive Bids in the county and city?

This is something I have been suspicious about ever since the middle-of-the-night 100% cost overrun on the Phillips to the Falls project, and the $200,000 lower secondary bid for the Pavilion windows (VIDEO);

Hoyer said his question was grounded simply in a desire to see consistency in the bidding process.

“I would have made the same statement for concrete pipe,” a product not offered by his company, he said. Bidding instructions uniformly call for bid guarantees, he said, and if the county wants to waive them, “let’s not make some of us jump through the hoops and others not.”

Buthe, however, took the question as a sign of discord between the county and Myrl & Roy’s. When he became superintendent three years ago, Buthe said he found the county’s practice was to accept a low bid for asphalt and then to purchase from both Concrete Materials and Myrl & Roy’s at that price.

“My interpretation was that is not a legal way to do business,” Buthe said. He brought the matter to the deputy state’s attorney at the time, Gordy Swanson, who agreed.

“We decided the following year we would only award to the lowest bidder,” Buthe said. That was Concrete Materials. “There was some severe backlash” from Myrl & Roy’s, he added.

Since then, Myrl & Roy’s has not supplied the county. Last year, the county piggybacked on the city of Sioux Falls contract to buy asphalt from Concrete Materials because its plant was closer to where the county was doing highway work, and the savings in transportation costs exceeded the difference in Myrl & Roy’s slightly lower bid.

“That made them angry,” Buthe said.

Makes you wonder how often this happens with the city and county? Giving a bid to the ‘Preferred Contractor’ compared to the ‘lowest bidder’? Or just tweaking the RFP so that only one contractor can bid it. Would love to see the amount of tax dollars that are wasted on these types of ‘deals’.

It seems the only thing city government has learned from history is to repeat itself

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Do I believe in keeping up with the historical aspects of our city? Yes. Do I think historical paver stones need to be replaced? Yes. Do I think it is a wise for SF taxpayers to be footing the bill? NO;

A $16,000 grant will help pay for the restoration of a central Sioux Falls alley where the 19th and 21st centuries collide.

Quartzite paving stones in the alley connecting Sixth and Seventh streets between Duluth and Summit avenues are to be removed this summer. City workers will pour a concrete subsurface, then relay the pavers.

With help from the South Dakota State Historical Society’s Deadwood Fund grant program, the city’s cost will be around $175,000.

While I do think that the street department has some financial obligation, I don’t think we need to foot the Lion’s share of this project. I think the city’s role should be making sure the project is done correctly and zoning is in place to do this type of infrastructure work, beyond that, I think either private donations, grants (which are already being used) or adjoining property tax assessments should pay for this project. I scratch my head when the city forces businesses and homeowners to build city sidewalks at their expense, but we drop a cool $175,000 in a neighborhood because it is ‘historical’. Fine. Make them pay for it. It is no different then citizens fixing the city sidewalks.

Besides, with all the discussion about public transit costing the city so much each year, it seems ludicrous we would be spending tax dollars on pavers in an alley. It seems the only thing city government has learned from history is to repeat itself.