ArtMaze, one of the better parts of Sioux Falls life in 2016
2016 has been a rough year for citizen activism. While it has been up and down here in Sioux Falls with many successes and failures to boot, it seems Washington DC has gone into full collapse as we allowed racist, sexist, hillbillies to elect our president.
But locally there were three things that stood out;
• Governor Daugaard claiming that voters were ‘hoodwinked’ into voting for IM 22, then getting the Pierre (in)justice system to go along with it. Funny how for over 40 years voters have been voting his party into power, and no word about ‘hoodwinking’ but once that corrupt power will be challenged, all the voters are idiots. As one official told me that used to work for Dennis, it’s not the public that are idiots, it’s Dennis. And his idiocy has been shining through.
• The South Dakota Democratic Party’s bottom completely fell out, and the people in charge patted themselves on the back. Insanity I tell you! Insanity!
• But one of the greatest achievements of the year is the Sioux Falls City Council’s change of power. The four new councilors have been flexing their muscles with a little help from Councilor Erickson, and while they have had a few missteps to start out, they have been learning from the battle scars. While ‘leadership’ of the council (Rolfing and Kiley) seem to be on a two man mission to rubberstamp all things Huether, shut down public input, and concoct false ethics charges against a fellow councilor (until they got caught lying like the snakes they are) they are becoming more and more in check. The city council has many big plans for 2017, and I have a feeling their agenda will push through easily as our lame duck mayor melts.
Let’s take a look at some the finer high and low points of 2016;
• The Huether Tennis center continues to block parking from other event attendees at the Sanford Sports complex though they basically stole $500K from taxpayers for the facility. Throughout the year there was several reports on cones and signs blocking the lot with not cars in it. But hey Mike’s Bride won an award this year and seemed surprised she did, without commenting that her check to the organization that gave the award wasn’t returned.
• The Sioux Falls City Council leadership and mayor’s HR department pulled a military retiree out of their asses for city clerk, a person who will be in charge of our city elections and hasn’t been registered to vote for years. He also proved his knowledge of official stamps when he stamped a petition without even bothering to read it. While Mr. Greco has gotten better over the year, the city clerk position should not be a $80K+ a year job as an apprentice, sadly being trained by one of his assistant clerks who has ten times the qualifications and applied for the position but was turned down. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the council chair’s view of women in the work place.
• Speaking of letting the mayor’s HR department and Leadership’s Mutt and Jeff pick the next internal auditor, the council barked loud enough that they did not want another ‘Greco’ pick. Not sure if the barking worked, but the person who was set to take the job saw the writing on the wall and turned it down. Hopefully the person who ultimately gets the position won’t be turned down because they shave their legs.
• The city continues to blow money on the Winter Wonderland Display, but the way the mayor has been cutting budgets these days, I expect next year’s display to be a couple of homeless barrel fire pits, sponsored by the Dudley House of course.
• After posting about the ridiculous corporate like raises the mayor has been giving to his management team, he turns around and still screws the minions with dismal raises again this year. I think in a special note to the city employees on their Christmas paystub he wrote, “I don’t care.”
• The city continues the FREE condom distribution program at area bars, and for some reason Monk’s is always emptied the quickest. Coincidence that is also a favorite watering hole of city managers . . .
• The Tuthill shooting case becomes ‘inactive’ and a tree branch shadow gets off scott free.
• The Erp wrongfully calls out local massage therapists as prejudice because they pointed out the ‘shower massages’ that were taking place around town. Apparently someone got a bad fortune cookie that day.
• The car rental tax and BID tax grabby-grabby fails in Sioux Falls, but the state legislature passes one of the most idiotic tax increases ever so our teachers are now just tied for last instead of dead last in pay. Out hoodwinking governor already has plans to rob the pot only one year after its passage.
• Hartford’s city government was in a state of collapse. Who really cares?
• The Levitt Pavilion is moving forward in Sioux Falls. It will be nice watching outdoor concerts sitting in the grass while battery acid is boiling beneath our asses.
• The Boulevard ordinance changes went into effect. Now stop worrying about rocks and plant a garden.
• The Washington Pavilion got a change of leadership after Darrin Smith takes over as President. So far he has only eliminated one director, but I hear the blood-letting has just begun. Now let’s throw another couple of million at the place to fix the poor construction to begin with. That will never happen with the Events Center . . .
• The Events Center cracks down on outside snacks and guns at events. We are all now safe from cheap fat people shooting us, but not in the parking lot.
• The Pottie Room war starts in Pierre and is guaranteed to return in 2017.
• A city council candidate throws a hissy fit over a post I wrote about his wife’s involvement with the Jesus plows and after threats to my employer I pull the post. He ends up taking last place in the at-large race. How’s Jesus working out for you now?
• Due to health reasons, Kermit Staggers decides not to run for a 4th term on the city council. His endorsement of Stehly puts her over the top.
• One of the youngest candidates in city history runs for city council. I apologize to Briggs for all the shitty things I said about him during the campaign.
• The Argus Leader sues the city for the details in the secret events center siding settlement. The Argus loses the first round but it is headed to the SD Supreme Court.
• On a similar note, the SON neighborhood is also awaiting a judgement in their Walmart suit with the SD Supreme Court.
• The Mayor and Q-Tip Smith screwup the DT parking ramp development by flapping their traps to soon, and the council later on in the year returns the favor and defunds the ramp all together for 2017. I still think the fiasco is what got Smith to seek refuge at the Pavilion.
• City officials throw a hissy-fit over Bruce’s camera at a city meeting we were invited to by then city councilor Kenny Anderson. Looking back on it now, I just chuckle.
• Bruce and I do a presentation on voter turnout in Sioux Falls at Democratic Forum and one of the mayor’s buddy developers in Sioux Falls tries to shut us down. When he fails, he walks out. Another casualty to transparency.
A hiring committee looking to fill long-time internal auditor Rich Oksol’s position is headed back to the drawing board after passing on more than a dozen candidates who wanted job.
Yet councilors didn’t get to see these candidates resumes or interview them;
But the process in which the hiring search is being conducted isn’t sitting well with some city officials who say they’re being left out of the process.
Councilor Theresa Stehly said aside from councilors serving on the three-member search committee, which is composed of Rolfing, Council vice-chair Rick Kiley and one at-large member of the audit committee, the council has been kept in the dark regarding the hiring search.
“I was under the assumption that when we hired someone new there would be several resumes to review – or at the very least we’d review the top three or four and maybe interview those people,” she said. “But I don’t think that’s how this is playing out.”
Although the final selection does require approval from the full council, Stehly said the search committee will make a selection and ask the Council for an up or down vote of approval.
So what is Rolfing’s response to the lack of transparency and due process;
No matter what that ends up looking like, it’s not likely to include every city council member in the process, he said.
“We’re in the process of developing that so there won’t be any questions later on,” he said. “It’s not something that you do with eight or 10 people on a committee. It just doesn’t work well that way.”
How would you know if you never tried it? This clown will say anything to protect the secrecy of this appointment.
What short memories people have. Only four years ago, the city council threatened to pull a license for the Vault and put them on warning with a deferral when similar things were going on (city council meeting) and (My post on it) at their establishment that have been going on at Wileys. In fact, after watching the meeting (the discussion went on for 35 minutes), besides the diddling on the cars, the things going on at the Vault pales in comparison to Wileys. It came down to basically not supplying adequate parking. How many private parking spots does Wileys have? I count ZERO. It is also important to note that the Vault had 154 police calls in a 12 month period. In 10 months of this year, Wileys is up to 182 calls. The deferral meeting is here (FF: 11:00). If you watch the meeting, you will see councilors had several meetings with the Vault and the Police department before the vote. Councilor Jamison went on to say that these kind of ‘reviews’ of the establishments was important to establish a public record of the concerns. The council voted 7-1 to renew the license, Rolfing was the dissenting vote. I believe the Vault went out of business in 2013.
Also during the meeting, they try to beat down an immigrant c-store owner in Pettigrew Heights for letting people drink 40’s beside his store. The mayor even said this to the c-store owner’s attorney during the meeting;
“. . . it is the duty of the city council to review all liquor licenses that are up for renewal. If they want to complete some additional due diligence on any of these, whether it be the Vault, whether it be the Mercato or any of the other establishments that serve alcohol in this town, they have the ability to do that. In this case they wanted to ask some questions or do some additional due diligence on the Mercato before they make a decision on that, so before you start to accuse a councilor, or someone else for doing something that is appropriate or not, I would encourage you to use caution. . . . I would encourage you to tone it down a bit, the council has a right to ask questions.”
What a short memory our mayor has.
They also beat down a tattoo shop owner for simply wanting a beer license so he can sell during art opening events. And how many complaints has the shop had in the past four years? Not sure. But I would assume if it was major, we would have heard about it by now. I have displayed art at the shop and have attended many other events there. It was no different then an art opening at the Pavilion (which sells alcohol at their art openings). The council voted 4-3 to approve the license with Karsky, Rolfing and Aguliar dissenting.
Seems a bit hypocritical of Michelle and Mike to say they were embarrassed about the very short discussion last night, in which in the end 7 councilors voted to let them keep their license. Let’s talk about embarrassment. It’s embarrassing our city officials have such short memories when regulating liquor licenses.
I will be the first to say I don’t always agree with decisions commissioner Heiberger makes, and sometimes she isn’t real big on transparency, BUT what I can see, as chair of the commission, she runs a tight ship when it comes to meetings.
If you ever watch the meetings, as I do, one thing that often stands out is that Cindy runs the meetings with a high level of decorum and professionalism. She is often polite, respectful and thankful of input, whether that comes from her peers, directors or the public. In fact she often disagrees and weighs in just as much as her peers.
Besides the fact that Cindy runs a smooth ship, most of the time, it is not an easy feat, there is a Hell of a lot more ruckus that goes on at these meetings then the city council meetings. Many of the commissioners ask tough questions of their directors and staff, and if those answers are not kosher, they let them have it. Barth and Kelly are the most vocal, but Beninga, Bender and Heiberger have also chimed in when they think they are being buffaloed by staff or the public.
Cindy lets them rant, she also thanks them when they are done, even if she doesn’t agree. That’s called ‘decorum’ folks. Cindy understands that in government not everything is a rubber stamp and a bed of roses, there has to be uncomfortable discussion, there has to be debate and sometimes that is ruffling feathers. She allows it at her meetings, because I believe she knows it is important. I have been watching the meetings regularly over the past two years, while Cindy has raised her voice a few times and has asked people to calm down, she has NEVER gaveled her fellow peers and freaked out like a monkey banging a drum, and trust me I have seen over 20 rants between Barth and Kelly over the past couple of years that were way more uncomfortable and controversial then a prepared statement by Stehly. But guess what, they haven’t had ethics violations lobbed at them, because they have a right as elected officials to have these rants, we expect it from them.
As I have said, if Rolfing would have just let Stehly speak, it would have all been over in a few minutes, with practically no drama. Maybe Rex could mentor Cindy for a few meetings and learn something about representative government and how to run a meeting.
In the things we miss but others report to us the glorious and exalted leader of the Sioux Falls City Council (in his mind anyway) decided to be a smart ass at a pretty luncheon on Thursday September 22, 2016.
During a special CVB luncheon & meeting being held at the Sanford Pentagon, Rex Rolfing decided to brag about “his” soccer tournaments coming to Sioux Falls next summer.
To start the soccer presentation he thought he was in charge at Carnegie.
Seeing Theresa Stehly was not in the room and him never being mellow but quite yellow when the coast is clear, decided to start by calling the meeting to order. His method? He repeatedly slammed his empty pop bottle like a gavel on his table top. Making a lot of noise as he called his meeting to order.
Someone in the room shouted “You’re out of order!” There was an uncomfortable chuckle in the room and likely two embarrassed City Council members.
Mr. Mellow and Yellow just shook his head and said “I’m just practicing for next week” as he finished. The crowd did not appreciate it.
What was even more embarrassing about this lack of decorum, this was a very special event being put on to show off the Pentagon to the hospitality industry. Our Rex was an ass and not even apologetic as he finished.
By the way if you need rooms for next summer, Rex made sure everyone there knew all Sioux Falls hotel rooms next summer were for his needs during the tournaments not your family reunions. Thanks hotel Czar.
Since I have been writing this blog, I have been a strong advocate for open government, transparency and 1st Amendment free speech rights. I think you all know that. We may not always agree on what people have to say, but we have that right.
Theresa defended that Tuesday afternoon.
But to call Theresa a ‘Lone Wolf’ is the furthest thing from the truth. She has formed coalitions in every political activity she has been involved with. She has embraced the community and worked for them. It is no secret why Theresa is sitting on the council, because of her community involvement and sticking up for the little guy. I would call her ‘Mother Wolf’ before I would ever call her ‘Lone Wolf’.
Gawd, Rex, what the heck is wrong with you? Seriously Dude?!
Ironically, while everyone wants to blame her for the ‘drama’ if Rolfing would have just let her speak and not gaveled her (there was NOTHING confidential in what she was saying) there would have been no drama. And the chickensh*t council just sat there and let it happen. Wow!
As a citizen we have a right to transparency, the Argus Leader is in the middle of a lawsuit right now with the city over it. We talk often about transparency in our government, we get no where.
I know about the charges lobbed at Theresa (a butt hurt Chief of Police and moving chairs around Carnegie because of the 911 aniversary), they are petty, in fact not even worthy of blogging about, or an ethics charge, just prattle from perfect hair Mike.
This of course is NOT over, chickensh*ts and idiots get emboldened when they are embarrassed. They have there resources, and we have ours. You want a fight on transparency? You are going to get it. You are going to lose, big time.
First off, props to Cameraman Bruce and our credit on the video. Our cameras are always rolling.
The sign of a despot losing control is when the gavel flies. The Sioux Falls City Council Informational meeting on September 20, 2016 showed a city leadership spiraling out of control. When City Council members are told what to do, who they can talk to and what they are to believe something is rotting down deep.
Before you start watching the video, click on it so you can view it full screen. This is our first use of a five camera blend to show you the action of the room. Notice when the city attorneys join the video and how even Fiddle Faddle gets into the act and appears to yell out something with the crowd.
Those of us who have followed city government for years have known this day was coming. City Council leadership takes their marching orders from the mayor’s office and his directors. You can see it when Rex Rolfing looks to the mayor’s attorney for guidance as Theresa Stehly uses her open discussion time to bring up the illegal use of the Executive session process. We have been documenting the abuse of the secretive executive sessions to hide the public’s business from the public.
The secret executive session was called to discuss ethics but in fact was a scheme to go after Stehly to set her up as an example. YOU MUST OBEY OR ELSE!
Why shouldn’t we hear this? What is so secret about ethics? Is it actually kind of oxymoronic (get your dictionary out Rex) for our town to teach one version to the council but not explain it to us?
The abuse of council members, the public and the process must stop. A past council member once told Cameraman Bruce explained the rule passed down by the mayor, “Councilors are not to intervene on behalf of constituents.” If this is the case, why do we even have a city council?
I don’t support the F-35 project, not because I don’t want our air base to do well, it’s because the old F-16’s we currently have already fly circles around the Lemon the US military has been ‘developing’ called the F-35. Many military experts have contended that they pretty much tried to pack 2 pounds of sh*t into a 1 pound bag while developing the F-35. They want it to dogfight, be a harrier and drop big bombs. It can’t do all three. Don’t believe me, google the project and read all the pros and cons, not to mention it is a gigantic waste of money.
Either way, speaking of wasting taxpayer money, Rolfing recently told the press that spending $72K on a special election for an administration building is a waste, I agree. Where we don’t agree is that he thinks flying to DC to hand deliver a letter (from our prestigious mayor) to our Washington delegation (who already support the F-35 coming to Sioux Falls) is a great expenditure of tax payer money. Apparently Rex and Mike have never heard of the US Postal service, a FAX machine or an email;
Mayor Huether sent a letter to Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds and Congresswoman Kristi Noem, that highlighted the history of 114th Fighter Wing and pledges Sioux Falls’ unwavering support to ensure the city is a selected basing site for the F-35.
Sioux Falls City Council chair Rex Rolfing and Community Development Director Daren Ketchum hand-delivered the letters to Thune, Rounds and Noem.
When you refer to a government trip as a ‘junket’ it usually means it is an unneeded trip. I wonder if he also attended any music award shows while in DC?
Whether you support the F-35 (you shouldn’t) or not, there is absolutely NO reason we needed to send our Council Chair and Community Development Director to hand deliver letters. The next time Huether or Rolfing want to spout off about being prudent and saving tax dollars, I will gladly point to this ludicrous trip (and that worthless Tennis Center).
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Prosecutors requested the arrest Monday of the de facto head of Samsung, South Korea's biggest company, on bribery and other charges in the influence-peddling scandal that led to the impeachment of the country's president.