Entries Tagged 'Road Funding' ↓

South DaCola 2016 year in review (Part I)

art-maze-mower-lrArtMaze, 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.

READ ABOUT 2015 REVIEW HERE.

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 state legislator calls transgender people ‘twisted’. Now I’m struggling with what word to use describing our state legislators?

• 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.

• While our Sioux Falls City Council approves the DAPL through Sioux Falls, it takes thousands of protesters in ND to actually stop it. Too bad our city council chair doesn’t understand how to vote.

• 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.

• Former city councilor Dean Karsky and now commissioner elect has become the official endorser in Sioux Falls.

• 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.

Ignore the crappy roads, they will always be crappy

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At the Sioux Falls city council informational meeting yesterday we had a presentation about the conditions of our roads in Sioux Falls from a consultant who studied them last year. They put in a rating system on the roads.

After Councilor Stehly asked why we will not be putting more focus on the worst of the worst streets, Mark Cotter explained that we must focus on the fair streets more to keep them resurfaced before they get bad. Which I am in partial agreement. He concluded that it cost 8x more to replace a bad street then to just resurface. Stehly argued that we should be doing more to fix the bad streets.

Of course the naysayers came out in full force. First they complained the money wasn’t there, than in classic ‘make stuff up Michelle’, Erpenbach basically claimed we were driving on streets of gold.

I will agree with her partially. Anybody visiting our community will see our arterials and main routes are in very good shape, our residential streets in Sioux Falls central and proper, not so much.

I encourage anyone to either drive, or better yet take a bike ride starting at Nick’s Gyros on 41st street and zig zag through the neighborhoods towards 14th and Minnesota. Some of the roads are in such bad shape there are weeds growing in the center cracks. They are so bad, you can tell they are not only in need of replacement, but full curb and gutter, sidewalks, drainage and probably pipe upgrades, that is why the city is scared the death of opening that can of worms. They are willing to let the central part of our community suffer (where they are building a brand new swimming pool) in the name of urban sprawl.

Erpenbach goes on to say that roads become an issue in the Spring because of potholes, but no one talks about it any other time. Huey. This coming from a councilor who hasn’t talked to a constituent since she was elected. People complain about our roads 24/7, 365 days out of the year. It’s not just during campaign season.

So how can we fix the really bad roads while maintaining our urban sprawl? I have suggested a 1-2 year moratorium on quality of life projects, (façade) maintenance on entertainment facilities, flat line the parks budget, subsidizing non-essential non-profits, etc. I bet we could easily squeeze out an extra $20-30 million dollars for streets (you know, the original intention of the CIP to begin with).

This would of course take planning and courage, something that is in short supply at city hall these days.

 

‘Infrastructure Mike’ makes his debut

monkeymike

“Enough monkeying around folks, we are gonna fix these dang crappy roads with the day god gave us.”

When I first started watching this interview(?) I had to make a double take to make sure I wasn’t watching Reid Holsen interviewing Mike on CityLink and not Matt Holsen on Stormland TV. It was sure nice of Matt to allow the mayor to drive him around and pretty much write the story for him. I wonder if Matt also let Mike edit the video. Great piece of journalism, maybe Randell Beck will award you a Pulitzer? Probably not, but, I see Green Bay Packer tickets in your future (or maybe the mayor will buy you a Coors Light at the company Christmas party).

Enough of that.

Doesn’t anyone else find it a bit ironic that shortly after a municipal election where the winning candidates talked about fixing our roads, the mayor has a change of heart (he also changed the name of the Administration Building to the Public Services Building). Maybe he could sell sponsorships to the place? I think the Darrin Smith Commemorative Building has a nice ring to it, after all, the first phase of construction will leave half the building unfinished, seems fitting.

So after spending a lion’s share of the 2nd penny kitty on play things and fun houses the mayor is all of sudden concerned about our roads. Awww. It really warms a heart.

“That’s how I’m going out the final two and that is repairing and rebuilding and replacing this infrastructure and yeah including some of the bumpy roads in our town,” Huether said.

That should have been your priority when you were sworn in to begin with. With dwindling tax revenue over the next two years and bond payments coming from the 2nd penny like a payment on a sub-prime credit card, just how much can you spend on roads? No worries though, Infrastructure Mike has it handled with his personal press secretary Matt Holsen and Stormland TV.

No worries, Chuck will still be writing poetry during road construction season

“If you’re determined to get here you can make it,” Luden said.

ludencoffee

Solutions to education and road funding

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I don’t know who is more ignorant, my students or my state legislators

I recently thought a way to get more money for both would be for the public schools and counties split a statewide room tax. We could dedicate 100% to fixing roads and paying teachers.

I have often been baffled that the state doesn’t have such a tax, especially with all the business travel to Sioux Falls and tourism travel across the state.

Assbackwards road funding ideas

I was watching State Senator Mike Vehle talk about road funding ideas on 100 Eyes yesterday and just about spit out my coffee. One of the ideas is to PUNISH hybrid and electric car users. Mike suggested that Electric car users should pay an additional $80 registration fee, and Hybrid an additional $40, because they don’t use as much gas or no gas at all. Ludicrous. Most of those vehicles are very light, and do little damage to the roads, my Hybrid weighs under 1,500 lbs. (and the way I drive it, I doubt it touches the road much at all). Basically, what Mike is saying is that we should start charging people who ride bikes on the roads, because hey, they are using the roads and not contributing a gas tax.

You have to realize, we also fund road maintenance through sales taxes to, something us hippy Hybrid drivers and bicyclists also pay.

He also suggested that in the future we use a satellite monitoring system to track mileage. Really?! That is one of the most jackass ideas I have heard so far.

Let’s face it, the solutions are simple, and Mr. Content Strategist Lalley brought one of them up.

“Why not just lift all the exemptions that exist?”

Exactly!

For instance, farmers not having to pay registration on monster tractors and trailers that tear the crap out of the roads. START CHARGING THEM! Farming is a business, just like a contractor, and if they have to register their vehicles, farmers should to.

There are also other fair and equitable ways;

– Raise the gas tax.

– Charge registration based on weight and usage of vehicle. The heavier the vehicle, the more you pay.

– Tax vehicles the same rate as food and utilities. This idea is way past due.

– Have dealerships charge taxes at the time of purchase and give you license plates, why are we using county resources for this? Grocery stores collect taxes for the state, why can’t car dealerships? (This was a suggestion by commissioner Jeff Barth)

Once again the brain trust we call our state legislature wants to punish the poor and wise instead of the people who are actually damaging our roads the most. And we keep re-electing these fools.

If a new road is essential for growth, jobs and development – why the secrecy?

If you don’t give us taxpayer money, we are packing our bags (where have we heard that one before?)

The public becomes suspect when in one breath government tells us we must subsidize private industry for our benefit then turns around in another breath tells us that industry must remain secret;

They won’t name the employer but think they can secure state and federal money to help pay for a new roadway to accelerate improvements in the area.

“It’s a major organization we want to keep in Sioux Falls,” said Darrin Smith, city director of community development.

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“The company wants to keep its identity confidential, and we’ll honor that,” Barr said. “There’s no commitment on their part or our part, but anytime a company opens the door to relocate, you want to make sure you have a competitive option for them.”

If they are asking for public money, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever that they remain confidential. If you want our money, fine, fess up. Secondly, I find it very hard to believe this company would be packing bags if we don’t build this road for them. I do think this road is needed in that part of town, but to make it sound like we are going to lose jobs and businesses if we don’t build this road is a stretch.

I have no idea who this business is, but if I had to guess, here is a pretty good clue;

Much discussion now is about another city business that has outgrown its location and might be looking at the park for a new plant.

I’m guessing it is the metal recycling plant that wanted to move in the old stockyards, and the city has been jumping through hoops for them so they WON’T locate in that location. If anybody else has the facts and wants to confirm that, please comment.

 

Think traffic is bad in Sioux Falls while driving your car? Hit the streets on a bicycle.

“Just another successful bicycle commute in Sioux Falls”

When you are in your car, you can observe a lot of rudeness from the safety of your vehicle, but if you really want to see a high level of ass-hattery by SF drivers, get on a bicycle or moped and travel our streets. One Saturday, last summer, I rode my bike down 41st street from Barnes and Noble to Ground Round. I was almost hit 4 times and one time I had to hit my breaks so hard I almost went over my handle bars into the lap of a guy driving a Mustang convertible, and he had the nerve to flip me off. Yeah, Mr. Cool. I like to take the bike trails as much as possible, even though I have to circumvent yuppie moms with their double strollers, it is still 200 times safer then our streets.

According to an Argus Leader/KELO-TV poll that surveyed 800 likely voters in Sioux Falls, 70 percent of the city’s residents think traffic in the city is worse than it was five years ago. Twenty-seven percent feel things are about the same, and 3 percent say traffic is better. The poll has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.

Who is this 3 percent?

Get ready to drive on more crappy roads

I’m still wondering where legislators think the money is going to come from to repair roads? Obamacare? Gotta love the excuses to;

Opponents said even a modest increase in the tax on gasoline and diesel fuel could cause people to buy fuel across the border in other states, particularly Wyoming, which has a much lower tax.

Yeah, I’m going to drive to Wyoming to fill up my car . . .

Sen. Gordon Howie, R-Rapid City, who is running for governor, said the bill should be defeated because South Dakotans do not want to be hit with a large tax increase. He said a better option would be to reduce government red tape to encourage more industrial development, which in turn would lead to increased state sales tax receipts.

Huh. Gordon, please stop talking and go teabag someone on your own time, stop wasting South Dakotan’s time with your ridiculous comments. While I think industrial development is a good idea, what does it have to do with roads and sales tax receipts? We shouldn’t be fixing roads from taxing food and utilities. When are you dillweeds gonna figure that out?

The Legislature has always resisted using general tax revenue for roads, and has instead used fuel taxes, vehicle excise taxes and registration fees to pay for highways. The South Dakota Constitution requires that gas tax revenue be used for roads and bridges.

Gee, what a concept!

I would go a step further

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Drive me, no new tax fees

I think our legislators are on the right track when it comes to road funding, but I would do some tweaking on the proposal;

The bill would boost money for maintenance and construction projects on state and county roads throughout South Dakota. The state’s tax on gasoline would jump 5 cents a gallon by May 1 and another 5 cents in 2012. Vehicle registration fees also would rise over two years, as would the state’s excise tax on new vehicles.

I agree vehicle registration fees should go up, but I also think the whole system needs an overhaul. You should pay a higher rate based on the weight of your vehicle and it’s fuel efficency. If you drive a light vehicle that gets over 35 miles a gallon, your fees should be reduced. We should be rewarding people who choose to have less impact on our roads. I also think the excise tax on vehicles should be the same as food. I have never understood why we pay a higher rate on goods that are essential to life then we do on automobiles. The whole argument from the car dealership lobby will be that it will hurt sales. Bologna. You can finance your excise tax into your loan and spread that expense out over the life of your loan. It won’t hurt sales. While I think a gas tax is a fair way to fund roads, I would probably hold off on that for at least a year and see if the other two proposals work first. I like gas taxes because, like I mentioned with my registration fee idea, it has less impact on people who choose to drive more fuel efficient vehicles.