Entries Tagged 'Rapid City' ↓

Su Fu Stu Pu Pu’s the Rapid City Civic Center expansion

I can't even say how stupid I think NASA is...

When taxpayers mortgage ‘play things’

Today during the indoor aquatic center naming rights press conference our esteemed leader of Sioux Falls said that when the city uses private dollars on public facilities the taxpayers win.

Yeah, I laughed to.

He brought up all the grand things that T Denny has done for the EC. Actually, taxpayers win if we don’t spend the money on play things to begin with, and let Sanford build the entire indoor pool complex at the Sports Center, on their dime. And as for the Events Center, let’s look at who is ‘winning’. As I have mentioned recently, the taxpayers are having trouble getting tickets without being raped by ticket scalpers and we still are responsible for the mortgage and maintenance on the facility, even if it is profitable and runs in the black. As taxpayers we really are the losers when it comes to the EC.

Which brings us to Mr. Whitney’s story in the Argus today. Stu says it would be a very bad investment for Rapid City to build the current plan of the new civic center in Rapid City. But he goes a step further and says we did it right in Sioux Falls by only incurring a possible $173 million dollar debt. Trust me, it will be a lot more, once you figure in maintenance and unforeseen problems.

Let’s say for a moment I supported the Events Center, I think one of the things I would have been vocal about as a supporter before the vote is that we don’t build it on the cheap. Apparently we didn’t learn the lesson from the Washington Pavilion which was slated as a $20 million dollar remodel that has probably surpassed $50 million in just 14 years. If you think for a moment that there will be NO more additional costs to the Events Center over the next 20 years besides a mortgage, you are eating some good Colorado Brownies.

I will commend Rapid City on one element of their civic center plan, they are building it for the future, and they are not afraid to spend the money to get it right the first time. Or at least that is their argument.

I think five years from now we will all be scratching our heads as to why the EC wasn’t built bigger and why the place is in a constant state of repair. Heck the place just opened and the siding is inferior (which was brought to the city’s attention before it opened) and flooring on the second floor has so many cracks in it if you were a superstitious person your mother would have a broken back.

So while I will agree with Su Fu’s new superstar journalist that RC should nix the plan, I just wish Stu was this vocal about our ‘on the cheap’ EC plan instead of cheerleading like a 14 year old girl behind the mayor. But I guess we all don’t have wet dreams over HS basketball tournaments.

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?

flyaway

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 $$$).

BRAVO SAM!

 

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.
http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/public-works-approves-decrease-in-garbage-fees/article_1de5f02e-0586-5df3-af55-8fcabbe0a120.html

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.

GO SAM!

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.”