Entries Tagged 'Rapid City' ↓

Rapid City council votes to build new Arena without a vote of the people

Well, I hope they don’t hire Mortenson to handle the project, besides we have them tied up fixing our siding, on site and probably in a court room.

It looks like it will still probably go to a public vote though;

Rapid City officials have approved spending $180 million to build a new civic center arena.

The city council voted 7-3 on Monday in favor of the project after more than three hours of testimony and debate. Local sales tax money would repay the $180 million the city would seek in bonds for the arena, which could seat up to 19,000 people.

A resident started distributing a petition for a binding public vote on the expansion just moments after the council’s vote. The campaign needs roughly 2,000 signatures to force a referendum on the council’s decision.

I know that the mayor of RC said yesterday he would like to see it go to a vote. I hope they are successful in their referendum in getting it on the ballot. If that happens it will be interesting to see how the vote comes down.

Sometimes municipal government can be messy, but necessary

I like Mayor Sam Kooiker, maybe that is why I really didn’t say much until now about his suggested appointment for police chief that failed RC city council;

The council last week rejected Lt. Elias Diaz for the chief’s job, citing a lack of experience, a flawed selection process and a lack of overall transparency on behalf of Mayor Sam Kooiker in choosing who he felt was the right candidate.

While I think some on the RC City Council are from LuLu Libertarian Tea bag land, they made the right decision to reject Sam’s appointment, for all of the reasons above. That is what the legislative body of municipal government is supposed to do. They are the checks and balances for the taxpayers. When the mayor is making a bad decision, or appointing people based on political reasons, the council needs to step up and do their job.

The SF city council could learn a lot from this incident in RC, like how they are supposed to question the administration and city directors when they make ignorant decisions. But first they would have to throw away their rubber stamps and stop taking campaign contributions from the same people/companies our mayor does.

Objective is not the word I would use to describe our city council, more like selective.

Is Mayor Huether the ‘Bizzaro’ of Mayor Kooiker of RC?


Don’t be fooled by Bizzaro Huether

Imagine that, a mayor that wants investor transparency when a developer receives public funding and TIF’s. It’s just not our mayor;

I’m puzzled by President’s Plaza’s reaction to simple questions. They’re basically saying ‘give us the public funding and don’t ask questions.”

Asking questions on how the New Market Tax Credit process works is doing due diligence. Let’s remember that this is a public, public, public, private partnership,” Kooiker said,

“Asking questions on how the New Market Tax Credit process works is doing due diligence. Let’s remember that this is a public, public, public, private partnership,” Kooiker said,

The project was first proposed in 2006 and includes $2.8 million in city Vision funds, a downtown lot of city-owned land where the project would sit and a tax increment financing district that the council approved for the project.

“We’re talking millions of dollars in taxpayer funding involved in this project,” the mayor said Saturday. “I’ve been on the record many times as a council member and mayor in support of this project. I believe it’s my responsibility and it’s interesting that such simple questions created such a response. They weren’t even tough questions.”

Remember when the SF city council asked that investors be revealed when developers apply for TIF’s in SF and Q-Tip Smith poo-poo’d the idea. Of course he did, because our mayor or his wife are involved in many of these projects. And while in RC they have a mayor who actually believes in transparency when it comes to publicly funded development projects, our mayor defends his investments.

And in RC the developers play the tired old game of kill the messenger;

“There are a lot of issues with this mayor, and I think in due time, they will be brought to the surface,” (Shafai) he said.

Oldest trick in the book, hope it works out for you Shafai, so far in Sioux Falls, it’s been working for Huether.

Just when you thought the SF City Council was Cuckoo, Rapid City has to show us up

I have often known South Dakotans to be prejudice, but when you are elected to office, you should probably avoid the ‘macca’ moment as much as possible, especially when speaking to REPORTERS!

For months, a city attorney investigation into the conduct of a Rapid City council member has been shrouded in mystery — with details of who was investigated and why kept from public view.

But now, the Journal has learned that the target of the investigation was Ward 1 Council Member Bill Clayton, who faced two separate sets of allegations. One complaint alleges that Clayton made racist comments to an African-American television news reporter during an interview. The other complaint centers on disparaging remarks Clayton reportedly made about fellow Ward 1 Council Member Charity Doyle in August.

Geeesh, and I thought the dirt I had on Councilor Erpenbach was rich, this teabagging birther has her beat, hands down. The part that worries me more is the secrecy around the investigation. Like I said yesterday, that is one reason why I would never file an ethics complaint against Michelle or any other councilor, when the city handles stuff internally, it gets swept under the rug, all behind closed doors.

Hey, Bill, Go back to Bumfck, USA, or wherever you are from . . .

RC Mayor Sam Kooiker is South DaCola’s Patriot of the week

Sam got praise from me August 1, for lowering garbage rates. Sam is the recipient of my first ever Patriot of the week for putting his fist down on property tax increases;

Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker has vetoed the city council’s decision to raise city property taxes next year.

The city council voted 6-4 earlier in the week to increase property taxes by the rate of inflation, an adjustment done to offset rising costs.

Kooiker says the property tax is not needed. The mayor says city sales tax collections are rising more than had been expected and eight tax increment financing districts are expiring.

The inflationary increase in the property tax would bring in an extra $402,000 in revenue to the city.

Sam has it right. If a tax increase is not needed why do it? Every year I see the SF city council and recently the Minnehaha County Commission make this same stupid decision while the mayor sits and brags about the great economic shape we are in. Municipal government’s job is to provide services to citizens from the taxes they pay. Not entertainment or more prosecutions (spending money on crime prevention makes more sense, and saves tax payers $$$).



While SF continues to see MORE regulation and RATE INCREASES, Rapid City takes a different approach

Rapid City’s mayor, Sam Kooiker, posted this on his FB page this morning;

The 8% garbage rate decrease passed unanimously in Public Works Committee yesterday. Members Ritchie Nordstrom, John Roberts, Chad Lewis, Ron Sasso and Bill Clayton all voted for it. It now heads to the full council on Monday for a vote. If approved, this will return $300,000 annually to the ratepayers. That’s not including the $100,000 we saved by having your new Public Works Director do the study in house instead of hiring an expensive out of town consultant to do it.

Rapid City does not have private garbage haulers.  It is a city-run service.

On a separate, but similar note, Why isn’t the city of Sioux Falls more proactive in tightening watering restrictions?  I can’t believe we didn’t go to once-a-week a month ago.  Might it be because the more water we use on lawns, the more money the city makes on revenue?

Sure, a lot of people have figured this out and cut back on our useless watering.  I have not watered my lawn once this summer. Not only have I been saving money on water, I have been saving money on mowing my lawn. I think it has been almost 6-weeks since I have mowed. But I still see too many people watering every other morning because they can, and the water literally runs off their yards and down the street and they will keep doing this until Big Brother finally tells them to knock it off. Sheep.

And you thought SF’s city government lacked transparency

Apparently, Rapid City has everyone in the state whipped;

Although many of the incumbents in next month’s mayor and city council races pledge they are proponents of open, transparent government, they operate the most closed-door city council sessions in South Dakota.

In 2010, councilors voted to shield their discussion from public view at 20 of the 23 regularly scheduled council meetings. They spent more than 18 hours discussing city issues they deemed sensitive enough for private discussion. That is nearly 20 percent of the 98 hours the body met in total, according to an analysis by the Rapid City Journal.

And compare that to Sioux Falls;

However, records indicate that Sioux Falls — which is more than twice as populous as Rapid City — entered closed sessions at only nine of its 43 meetings in 2010. That accounted for less than six hours, or 10 percent of the total meeting time. Sioux Falls City Attorney Dave Pfeifle said they only use the sessions for brief updates on litigation and other important discussions.

The litigation part I understand, but what does ‘important discussion’ mean? Personnel and Litigation matters – fine. Anything else should be wide open. Hasn’t RC learned something from the sanitation debacle? Maybe they have; MORE SECRECY.


Sam Kooiker for Rapid City mayor

Remember Sam? He’s the bad ass who dared to question wasteful spending in city government in Rapid City, then the monkey trials began. I don’t know Sam personally, or have ever had correspondence with him, but I fully support his run for Rapid City mayor and I hope he wins. Any candidate who pledges;

Three important goals for my administration are:

Open, People-friendly Government

  • Regardless of status, all citizens and businesses will be treated fairly and consistently.
  • Post income statements for all income generating departments (enterprise funds) on the internet monthly/quarterly.
  • Institute a system of functioning checks and balances for all 11 city departmentsand the mayor’s office to prevent a repeat of the type of situation that occurred at the landfill.
  • Restore accountability in management.


More on the Sam Kooiker censure (H/T – Fleming)

Seems some people are trying to cover their asses;

What does all this mean? Well, it means that after receiving the May 6 email, Alderman Kooiker and Alderman Weifenbach went to the mayor and insisted on a real investigation, which we now know has resulted in Fish Garbage Service facing a civil lawsuit, significant security changes at the landfill, an employee who has been dismissed, and an on-going criminial investigation of the entire matter with the investigation going back seven years (statute of limitations), indicating that the situation at the landfill had been going on for many years and costing the citizens of Rapid City many dollars.

When Alderman Weifenbach asked about the problem years prior, he did not have an email evidence trail. And, so when he was told there was nothing going on at the landfill, he had no evidence other than his word that he brought it up. Enter Alderman Sam Kooiker who hears from a different source and makes the email inquiry.

This, of course, makes the public works director and the mayor look very bad, since this has been going on under their noses for years. And, they chose to do a half fast investigation by asking the (now fired) employee if he was a crook, and took his word for it when he said “nope.”

A city councilor in RC censured for questioning wasteful spending?

Obviously I have not seen the emails, but my first response would be that Mr. Kooiker was wrongly censored;

Kooiker and Wieczorek went on the offensive for more than an hour, arguing the details of the Rapid Transit incident, the resolution of censure and the actual content of the more than 1,000 pages of e-mails released by the city.

Wieczorek said by definition, harassment means conduct that causes emotional distress and serves no legitimate purpose. The e-mails Kooiker sent to both Sagen and Ellis, he said, were primarily seeking answers for constituent questions and concerns.

“Is this harassment of Mr. Sagen?” Wieczorek said. “Was there an attempt at a legitimate purpose?”

Included in the e-mails are one-sentence messages, thank you e-mails, messages repeated multiple times and messages forwarded directly from constituents, Wieczorek said.

“He asks questions in a way that you might not ask questions. But that doesn’t make his questions wrong. He approaches his advocacy for constituents with zeal, with gusto. That doesn’t make that approach wrong. He does not back down, he follows up. That does not make his approach wrong,” Wieczorek said.

The sad part about it was, that Kooiker was looking for answers on throwing away $30,000 in unused transit fliers, then the city spends another $17,000 investigating whether or not he ‘harrassed’ city employees. Talk about a monkey fucking a football. Not only should our elected officials have the right to question department heads, they should be doing it on a regular basis and secondly, these department heads better be giving, honest, timely answers. Who do these people think pays them? A money tree? Taxpayers pay you, and you should have to answer to them. See, in the private sector, when your boss asks you a question, you answer him, you don’t go crying and filing harassment suits because you didn’t like the answer he asked you. Last I checked we are a right-to-work state. Your boss can fire you for any reason, and in the same respect you can quit for any reason. If you don’t like how your employer (the taxpayer) is treating you, then quit, otherwise STFU.

I liked this interview Kooiker did with Stormland TV News. This quote stood out;

“It is part of my responsibility to question how tax dollars are being spent when we have a $140 million budget. It is a responsibility that I take very seriously. This resolution, if it passes, essentially turns council members into rubber stamps,” Kooiker said.

That’s how it works in Sioux Falls. Don’t ask any questions and get out the rubber stamp. That approach has put our city over $330 million dollars in debt and the only thing we have to show for it is monkey crappers and potholes.