Entries Tagged 'Railroads' ↓

EC Siding with Mussolini & Rails Sioux Falls city council public input 9/8/15

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Cameraman Bruce was busy during the past week trying to put the HandiCam in the right places and it opened up more questions as usual. So our cameraman went up to the City Council Public input to ask some more questions. Actually why don’t more media persons go up there and ask questions? Hmmmm….

SIRE is always on the top of Bruce’s list. As users of SIRE have been finding out, it does not work. Got that? We have been promised so many things and still months after the server broke somewhere in SIREland without a backup, we’re still dead in the water. After the month long effort to stop us from downloading the video for our reports, they finally broke SIRE. Now they can’t fix it, even a little bit because someone forgot to save a backup of the original working software code. If the administration had not been pressuring staff to block our efforts they could have been doing backups? Call us crazy….

Our chief marketing office sent out a press release based on a Forbes magazine piece letting all of know Sioux Falls was a wasteland before April 2010. We in Sioux Falls are being ruled by a strongman CEO, kind of like 1920’s Italy. It reminded him to tell all in attendance, Mussolini also made the trains run on time but what good came of it.

Q: What’s the structure of the Sioux Falls government?

Huether: We have a “strong mayor” form of government. I am basically the C.E.O. or the president of a large company, and that company is the City of Sioux Falls. We have roughly 1,200 city employees and 12 department heads, and a substantial budget. We’re responsible of running the day-to-day activities of a city with 170,000 people, and a metropolitan area with about 250,000.

The City Council operates under a Home Rule Charter and needs to define its place in city government. The Council is the legislative and policy making body of the city of Sioux Falls. The administration is allowed to do what the Charter and the Council will let it do. Sioux Falls became a strong mayor form of government when the Council let mayors roll over them without a fight.

The Sioux Falls city government and Council are under a gag order issued by Fiddle Faddle. The administration wishes it could be permanent? So let’s discuss the reason why. The siding on the EC. The public is being locked out and MJ Dalsin are being locked in a settlement agreement no one will ever see. The agreement does what? Protect the not so innocent? It appears we will never know who is at fault, how much it cost now, who will pay to fix the mess later and MJ Dalsin is being made the scapegoat? The City Attorney’s huff and puff and bluff session from last Wednesday just proves it. We have been waiting for the paperwork to be filed so we can see what grounds the fight is over. It reminds us of the 3 Little Pigs fairy tale but in this case. it’s the rusty EC being blown down.

Sunday’s Argus Leader Events Center editorial http://www.argusleader.com/story/opin… opened up a great deal of room for discussion about the city’s chief marketing officer and the way the city is run. Thank you Argus Leader editorial board. Now let’s have the discussion.

The upgrades to the ‘NEW’ staging yards have begun


With a crisp, hot and messy $27 million dollar check in the clutches of the Railroad, they have already started on rail yard staging ground part II, except it is not on the edges of town, but more centralized then ever. While it has been used for probably as long as the 8th street location, it is not as glamorous or as close to a Hilton, in fact it is only a few feet away from a refugee church, a mediocre sandwich shop, Avera’s parking ramp and about two blocks from where I write this blog. New drainage and RR ties are going in. As we all suspected, freeing up the 10 acres for a parking lot downtown will only transfer the rail traffic to other parts of downtown (that no one cares about or has to see). Rail traffic will probably increase (next to a major hospital and main north/south traffic route).

The relocation project has accomplished NOTHING! All it has done is create more headaches for people when dealing with train traffic and bilked $27 million from federal taxpayers. If the mayor thinks this is one of his greatest accomplishments, he must be working in quality assurance for the Sioux Santee tribe growing facility.

DaCola’s cameraman is finally recognized as ‘Press’

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I really think it is because he was approaching the stage . . .

Cameraman Bruce was anointed media by the city of Sioux Falls on August 31, 2015 Sioux Falls Rail Yard Porkfest. Do you know why we are enjoying this? We’ll explain.

At several city pressers during the last year the Mayor has made a public point of being belligerent toward our cameraman Bruce. He likes to ask questions the mayor doesn’t like asked. You know, the kind of questions you would ask if you had the chance. The Mayor shouted him down at Spellerberg Pool. The Mayor gaveled him at a City Council meeting. We won’t talk about the special attention the Mayor gave him back in April (saved for another time). Oh and how about the last rail yard announcement in city hall when the mayor made a special point of excluding Bruce from being a questioner?

There are more, but today we celebrate the acknowledgement of our Southdacola.com cameraman Bruce as city of Sioux Falls official media. At least for the day… Ya gotta start somewhere, I guess.

The irony of the Warren Buffet invitation to the RR Relocation press conference

I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry when I read this;

Heather Hitterdal, communications specialist for the city of Sioux Falls, said Friday that Mayor Mike Huether sent formal invitations to Obama and Buffett, but neither is able to attend because of prior commitments.

As many of you may not know, we have to go back into the way-back machine on this project to explain my fat belly laughter I got from this supposed invitation. First off, this project was initiated by Mayor Munson (who is out of town and will not be in attendance today, I am told). At the time, I liked the idea, we would have been moving most of the tracks out of downtown (isn’t this the real reason we should be supporting the project?) Instead, we are handing over $27 million of pork to the RR. Getting polluted land that we may be able to sell for $2-3 million when it is all said and done, and MORE train traffic in other parts of downtown, including just a few blocks from my house next to Avera where there is another switching/staging yard that will still remain with two tracks still running parallel to the 10 acres we purchased. In other words, for those of us who live, work, and travel downtown, we may be experiencing more headaches just so we can free up 10 acres for a parking lot.

Besides the fact this is an obvious boondoggle for the Railroads, this project has morphed into many different monsters over the course it took. There was a big push to move the project along during the debate over the Events Center location. See, these 10 acres would have made a perfect spot for an Events Center parking lot, and with the contamination, it is probably all it is good for anyway. The idea was simple, build the EC next to Cherapa, move the RR project forward and use the land for parking. We would not have had to deal with selling the land or worried about potential cleanup. The group that was behind Build it Downtown were so adamant about their idea for parking, rumor has it, one of the members was able to arrange a very brief meeting with Warren Buffet in hopes it would move the project along a little faster. The city of Omaha was able to garner such a meeting with Mr. Buffet when they wanted to move some tracks, and Warren said, get-R-done. I’m not sure who was all invited, but I do know that Buffet agreed to the meeting (that never happened) because one of the main players that needed to be at this meeting declined to attend. We will let you speculate who that may be.

Like I said, I know very little about the details, and maybe this is all folklore and such, but if it isn’t, it sure makes the mayor’s invitation ironically funny.

Visually Interesting and amazingly deafening

Speaking of boondoggles, let’s talk siding, you know that stuff clinging to the Events Center for dear life.

For the record, I KNOW NOTHING. I have heard about 4 versions of what is being done, and to tell you the truth, not sure what to think of any of them, so I will keep those conclusions to myself.

The reason I mention the siding (in another ironic move today by the mayor) while everyone will be celebrating the big $27 million dollar pork sandwich to the Railroads today, today is, as I understand, the year anniversary of the city taking over occupancy of the Events Center (or maybe it is tomorrow?). In other words, the hammer on the EC siding mediation needs to come down this week. Like I said, I have many opinions of what should happen (ideally be replaced and paid for by Mortenson) I am clear about one thing; whatever is decided, the public should be told in an open meeting, and the council should vote on a resolution to approve the decision (or not to). At the end of the day, it is really about transparency and the public deserves to know who is responsible for signing off on the siding for our $180 million dollar investment. We’ll see how the administration and Fiddle Faddle play their fiddles on this one.

Federal Government ‘Pork’ press conference on Monday

Had a great question posed to me yesterday about the press conference planned for Monday about the RR relocation project;

“Would Sioux Falls taxpayers approve spending $27 million of city money, essentially on a 10 acre parking lot? Or is it okay because it is Federal money?”

This wasn’t from a fellow Joe-Six-Pack, but from a local elected official. My response was that I am fine with receiving FED money for ice storm cleanup, needed infrastructure, etc., but this is simply a handout to the Railroads. Because we know at the end of the day the city will probably only get about $2-3 million back from selling the land.

I am also puzzled about this being a celebration? Why would we be celebrating handing over $27 million of Federal taxpayer money to a private industry?

A social will follow, sponsored by the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Sioux Falls, Inc. (DTSF). The social will include hors d’oeuvres, punch, and jazz music by the Jim McKinney Quartet.

For $27 million, there better be some caviar.

RR Relocation Big Announcement, maybe they will be handing out free PORK sandwiches


Cuz, we know, it would be appropriate;

The community is strongly encouraged to join in the celebration as Senator John Thune, Senator Tim Johnson, Mayor Mike Huether, and BNSF Railway Executive VP Roger Nober participate in a signing ceremony for the rail yard purchase agreement between BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) and the City of Sioux Falls.

The City of Sioux Falls has agreed to purchase the rail yard for $27,334,500, utilizing federal funds.

What a boondoggle. I don’t even know where to begin.

Railroaded Transparency produces ‘mistakes’

Sioux Falls City Council approval of the Rail deal. Watch the city attorney blabber about all kinds of things, especially when she tries to blame the messenger about a date typo.

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Note to the Sioux Falls City Council

This compiled short history of Sioux Falls Railroads is for you. Why is this important? (DOC: Sioux Falls SD Railroad history compilations)

The City Council and people of Sioux Falls, SD must understand legal ramifications surrounding a resolution vote item#44 on the August 4, 2015 agenda.


We citizens have had the TOP SECRET rail yard document in front of us since Friday afternoon. The preliminary reading shows many holes in data and legal descriptions. The 82 page document being presented by the administration does not adequately cover many issues surrounding Railroad Relocation.

We have heard about a TOP SECRET railroad project for many years with no details attached. We citizens should be able to see what is being promised in our names. We have known from the beginning we were not supposed to be part of this TOP SECRET project. As sunlight shines on this TOP SECRET project we are seeing many problems.

The citizens of Sioux Falls should at least be able to weigh in on this TOP SECRET project. Why must we have so much secrecy, for such little gain to go with the massive hype? We have learned through the documents posted on Friday the City of Sioux Falls is receiving a Quit Claim Deed. Why a Quit Claim Deed when it should be at the very least a Warranty Deed giving future generations and developers full property rights? This is a very serious question. The City of Sioux Falls could be a partner in a land fraud or other issues we know nothing about. We are gambling our city future by taking the word of vested interests. The reconstruction of the full land history would establish the city ownership rights. The railroads entering the city of Sioux Falls had reversionary rights, why risk the legal issues? This land will not be used for transportation operations once abandoned. This is a very risky proposal. It is not difficult. Land title companies do these searches every day. The city hires consultants for everything else, why not this?

So we ask, what is the hurry to spend the money without proper oversight? We are getting ready for major budget demands, ready to put the city of Sioux Falls in more debt for playthings and special interests. Can we take a couple of weeks to really examine this contract with public hearings to get real commitments and answers?

Bruce Danielson


Railroaded in Sioux Falls (another gem from 2010)

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Looking for information on the railroads in Sioux Falls we found this jewel from November 8, 2010 City Council Informational.

When we listened to this talk it helped fill in several points in history but it also misses several others. Our town’s rail yard relocation project has missing details in this interesting talk. For some reason we are not allowed to see the entire set of details prior to the City Council meeting Resolution being voted on August 4, 2015.

There are a few issues not adding up to let us know why this is so important to jam down our collective throats so quickly before we can get all the data required. To start with land ownership issues not making sense. Plus there are still people thinking we are going to have less trains going through Sioux Falls when in fact will are getting ready to have more. If there is nothing to hide, what difference will it make to wait a couple of weeks so we can research the pieces not making sense.

This is similar to buying a house or any other building. We are not receiving clear title to this property. A Quit Claim Deed is not clear title. (Document resolution: Rail-Resolution)

The Council should not be voting to pass this resolution until a full list and audit of the parcels being transferred in this Quit Claim Deed is done. We need a list of the actual parcels with the history since first platting in the mid-1800’s. Why shouldn’t we know the actual ownership chain now, before money changes hands. Also, there are areas of the rail yard where service operations were done many years ago, where is the study showing these areas were tested? Are we getting another Pitts brownfield to deal with? There are Sioux Falls people who remember the contaminations of the past and wonder what was done to remediate them.

We already know how our city legal department deals with Quit Claim Deeds. Think about the subtle differences in 2 types of deeds (from Wikipedia):

“A warranty deed is a type of deed where the grantor (seller) guarantees that he or she holds clear title to a piece of real estate and has a right to sell it to the grantee (buyer). This is in contrast to a quitclaim deed, where the seller does not guarantee that he or she holds title to a piece of real estate.”

In a sense the attorneys for the city are giving the Council another Quit Claim deed property deal because the ownership of the property is actually in question. The Ellis & Eastern and BNFS railroads probably were given Quit Claim Deeds as the land transferred to them, so they could take over the property and use it after the several railroads went out of business. Do we have copies of these papers attached to this resolution? Of course not.

Even Governor Janklow in 1980 and after was not sure, so it was understood the state bought the Milwaukee Road track equipment and assumed the land easements during the abandonment process to be able to continue to operate on the rail beds. The rail right of ways were important to takeover in the early 1980’s to keep operational. Many researchers are still not clear as to what land is owned or just controlled by easement to this day. Reason? No one wants to actually see what is buried in the original papers or they would be attached.

Why shouldn’t we citizens get a warranty deed for this property before we waste any more time on it? Why is it when we see these proposals, some of us only see the things NOT making sense like who actually owns the land?

Let me scoop you on those secret meetings . . .

Okay, so this is the whole press conference of the mayor on the RR relocation, but if you (FF: 44:00 – sorry for all the background noise, it settles down a bit) you will get to hear him brag it up with Stu about all the secret meetings.

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We’ll be giving more thoughts on this weird land deal in the near future, like when the city finally lets us see it. Here is the Presser given in Sioux Falls City Hall Commission Chamber on July 22, 2015. It was the usual speeching by a master speecher.

Have you heard the expression “hot mic”? Apparently some people don’t know much about it. In our latest video we are given inside scoops on city hall inside scoops from mmm and his press secretary.

If you are going to talk insider stuff, don’t do it next to a hot mic…