Entries Tagged 'SF City Council' ↓

It only took 14 years, but the audit committee is finally talking about the Phillips to the Falls fiasco

Funny how these things work? Councilor Kavanaugh was going to file charges against Mayor Munson for violating ordinance and state law for the cost overruns on Phillips to the Falls, but somehow those intentions mysteriously disappeared and Munson successfully ran for a 2nd term.

Now the Audit committee brings it up;

Read the whole thing here (Interesting we spent over $10 million to date on Phillips to the Falls): Audit-history

Not only was there internal city violations, we sat on the property for over 10 years basically holding it for a private developer without any good faith money, than we handed them TIFs. Funny how none of this was brought up when the developer was asking for the TIFs and the council approved them. But hey, we got some FREE dirt for the Levitt.

Also, and something I have known about for awhile, they are bringing back the former auditor Rich Oskol as an independent contractor (I assume) until a new auditor can be hired. Essentially double dipping (getting a city pension). Would be curious what we are paying him. They did the same thing in the city attorney’s office with a former city attorney that was retired to fill in until Stacy Koistra was hired. I don’t understand why the assistant auditors can’t handle the workload until a replacement is hired. That is how it is handled in the private sector, but hey, why am I bitching? I always say we can’t run government like private business 🙂

Is TJ Nelson Paul’s go to BS Artist?

There are a lot of FACTUAL arguments for and against using a public ambulance service. So let’s try to stick to those. Councilor Starr did;

And because in 2019 the city will begin a practice of allowing paramedics on the Sioux Falls Fire Rescue to perform advanced life support at emergency scenes, Starr said now is that time.

“All fire fighters are EMTs, and we have a large number of paramedics that we pay to train,” he said earlier this month. “I’d like to see them take on that role because I see ambulance service as a utility, and it shouldn’t be a for-profit business.”

But that didn’t stop Mayor TenHaken’s Deputy COS, TJ Nelson, from spinning the issue;

“This is really a philosophical discussion,” said T.J. Nelson, deputy chief of staff in the mayor’s office. “But it’s unrealistic to think the city could prop up a city-run ambulance in two years and that’s not something we’d even propose.”

Philosophical? Has Nelson been reading Plato? It is an easy discussion to have based on research that is already out there. This isn’t a conservative vs. liberal philosophies. This is an ambulance service. I do agree you would NOT be able to start one in two years, but a 4-5 year time frame would not be unreasonable.

But this statement is just flat out false;

But Nelson predicts that study would show an astronomical financial burden on Sioux Falls and its taxpayers should future city leaders want to do away with the for-profit model historically used here.

“That would be a huge lift, dozens of new FTEs and millions of dollars in capital just to lift that up. And we’re getting it all now for no cost,” he said referring to the staffing increases a change would require, the construction elements that would come with equipping fire halls with additional space to house ambulances and the liability that comes with providing ambulance service.

NO cost? Was that some kind of sick joke? Right now the SFFD is responding to emergency calls, in fact over 90% of fire calls are medical emergencies or similar events. They are ususally the first ones there before the ambulance. Our reimbursement for responding to these calls and essentially subsidizing Paramedics Plus is ZERO! With a Public Ambulance service we could contract a 3rd party to collect payments and work with insurance companies and medicare for a commission, we would receive the remainder. In other words we would be able to collect payments for service. Right now PP pays the city NOTHING for responding to these events. While initially the capital costs would be high, once the system is in place we would actually be taking in revenue from it. Just because it is PUBLIC doesn’t mean we cannot receive payments for the service.

As for having a consultant looking at options, Cameraman Bruce adds;

The use of J Fitch and Associates as our future ambulance consultant should be held in scorn. This is the operation caught in the middle of the federal probe of questionable practices. Paramedics Plus, it’s personnel and J. Fitch are partners in many operations and “clubs”. Any help from them would continue the wrongs we are experiencing.

It is time to explore a Public Ambulance service, but let’s do it in a HONEST and Transparent way.

 

 

Jason Reisdorfer confirmed 7-1

Stehly was the dissenting vote. Her testimony was very interesting. She said Jason will be coming in at a salary of $147K, the same salary the past Central Services Director was making when she left. Jason is 38ish and has a HS Diploma. The past director had a BA in Business, a Master in Information Technology and 17 years experience in the field. Let’s just say Jason is very, very, very lucky to get this job. I actually support the mayor on his selection. I won’t say why I have had a change of heart, but let’s just say it is NOT for the reasons you think.

One of the interesting testimonies that came from several of Jason’s supporters tonight was a friend from Brandon who said there needs to be LESS transparency in government. I had to chuckle. Fine sir, this is why you are drinking radioactive water in your town, NO transparency in your city’s government.

Councilor Neitzert says people had ‘Moronic’ arguments against parking ramp

The the Sioux Falls City council got a presentation (FF: 33:0o) update on the Village on the River project at the informational meeting.

When talking about the costs associated with the parking ramp portion of the project, the city engineers(?) admitted that they had to put in a special foundation to support the ramp and hotel.

As we have argued from the beginning the ramp is costing more, not because of the number of spaces or size of spaces but because we would be footing the bill for the special foundation for the hotel.

Councilor Neitzert claimed that some people (I assume other councilors, blogs and the media) had ‘moronic’ & ‘dishonest’ arguments about cost per space and that it is costing more because of the special foundation.

Costs DOC: Site-costs

If there was anything ‘moronic’ about our arguments, it would be that Greg and the other councilors who voted for this boondoggle fiasco of a public private partnership didn’t listen to us when we told them the foundation was going to cost more due to the height and size of the hotel, not the parking ramp.

So who are the morons? Certainly not the councilors who voted against this project. They knew all along why it was going to cost so much, because the developer took us to the cleaners.

Also, councilor Brekke asks why the developer for hotel portion doesn’t have a performance bond. Funny, the administration didn’t have an answer.

Public Input continues tonight at Club David

I guess the show is still on. 6:30 PM, DTSF. Across the street from Carnegie Town Hall. They will be discussing the budget and hiring Jason Reisdorfer.

Jason Reisdorfer will likely be appointed as the new Tech & Innovation Director

Let’s face it, we still have a lot of questions. Why would anyone leave a successful business they helped build in the private sector to work in city government? I don’t know the answer to that question.

We also don’t know how Jason’s salary was compiled when he lacks a college degree and is solely based on the last person’s pay.

We do know that Mayor TenHaken is extremely happy about his pick since he has been having difficulty getting people from the private sector to work for him. My guess is because of how the last mayor ran the place like a dictatorship. Nobody wants to work for a dictator.

Even if all 8 councilors voted against his appointment, I still believe Paul has the power to override the consent. I do believe Jason will be appointed on a (7-1) vote. Even councilors I talked to who may have their reservations about Jason understand that the Mayor has the executive power to appoint anyone to his team, and they certainly won’t stand in the way of his duties. It’s really his responsibility.

But a bigger question still remains that I think I will try to answer. How can a mayor appoint someone to this highly technical post without the professional experience?

Well this didn’t start with TenHaken or even Bucktooth & Bowlcut, or Dave or Gary, this kind of culture of political appointments has been around for a long time. Only in the last administration we saw it to be more obvious. Corporate marketing types like to surround themselves with other corporate marketing types in some strange attempt to ‘change’ government to run more like a business. While some aspects of that may have worked under the last dude, it certainly didn’t look good for the taxpayers debt load, increased taxes and fees, transparency in government and public trust.

I was hoping Paul would have seen that, but apparently not.

Corporate gurus in government often replace their best talent with people like them. We saw this with Debra Owen. Not only a talented City Clerk, legislative researcher, but one heck of a lawyer. She wore 3 hats well and did it for a lot less pay. It took 3 people to replace her (with a lot less experience and no law degrees) with a combined salary of around $230K.

As I have told several councilors over the past few days that Jason will get easily frustrated with the speed in which government moves. He will also find out that hiring and firing civil service employees isn’t an easy task. He may also get discouraged by having to make important decisions in the open with other directors, city councilors and the public instead of behind closed doors in a corporate board room and a Crown Royal in his hand.

If anything we can take from Councilor Stehly’s Facebook kerfuffle is that Jason is easily tempered. Can he calm these reactions once he starts working for the citizens? Not sure.

While I hope he does good things, and I think he probably has some good ideas, otherwise Paul wouldn’t be so Gung Ho in hiring him, I think he will become easily frustrated and probably not make it very long in city government. But I wish him well in the short time he will be working for us.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Tuesday Sep 18, 2018

City Council Informational, 4 PM

Presentations on August Monthly Financial Report & Village on the River Update.

City Council Land Use Committee, 4:30 PM (after informational meeting)

Citizens Planning Academy. I attended this last year, but only went to first meeting where Planning staff pretty much admitted that Sanford can destroy affordable housing in the central neighborhoods because they have a lot of money and power. I learned all I needed to know about how planning works in Sioux Falls.

COS Erica Beck will give a presentation on street vacations.

Regular City Council Meeting, 7 PM

Item#1, Approval of Contracts.

Another $157K thrown at the Pavilion

Another $304K to upgrade the HVAC at the brand spanking new Events Center

$0 to move the Pavilion Café from City Hall to City Center. I’m sure they are really happy this at City Hall.

Item#27, Property tax increase.

Item#38, Resolution, Adopting the Budget

Item#41, Appointing Jason Reisdorfer. This will likely pass with only one dissenting vote of Stehly. I still take issue with Jason for many reasons. It will be interesting to hear the testimony as to why he deserves this appointment.

Is Mayor TenHaken setting a precedent by appointing a city director without a college degree (or any degree)?

I have often told people, in Sioux Falls the best way to climb the corporate ladder is to kiss a lot of ass and meet a lot of people. It is WHO you know, not WHAT you know.

Just look at the appointment of Darrin Smith in the previous administration. He was appointed to run the parking department than community development without any planning experience, and now he runs an arts center. At least he had a college degree.

Notice that after Mayor TenHaken terminated the Central Services Director he said he was changing the name and purpose of the position. Could he also be changing the job description and requirements? Most city (if not all) directors and management have to have a college degree or a degree in their chosen profession. In fact, the HR director has said in public meetings that is how pay scales are determined. Many government jobs work this way. Agree or disagree, it is just the way it has been done.

So how is it that a ‘NEW’ position is being created, at the top of the pay scale ($147K Salary) for a person without a degree?

How do you think the other city directors feel about this?

While I don’t have a problem with people succeeding in the private sector without a college degree, in the public sector, a director should at least have a degree. Public Works director, Mark Cotter has an engineering degree, for example. The person running Falls Community Health has a medical degree. The recently appointed city attorney has a law degree and is a judge advocate for our armed services.

You get the picture.

Wouldn’t you want the person running our IT services for the city to have a computer science degree (even an associates)? Or something similar.

Maybe Jason has a degree, but all I have seen so far is that he attended Augie for 3 years and studied mathematics.

When it comes to the person that is securing the data for the city, the school of hard knocks just doesn’t cut it.

Mayor TenHaken tried to downplay Jason’s IT experience in a KELO interview;

“It’s less important to me that someone knows the difference between Server A and Server B but understands their impact.”

If you are managing a department, shouldn’t you have some knowledge what your underlings are doing? That’s a scary thought in itself.

I also take issue with the title. It sounds like something a corporation or marketing agency would create to generate more profit. When are we going to realize the city is not in the business of profits and losses. It is in the business of fiscal restraint and a high level of customer service to the tax payers.

We have had enough ‘salespeople’ in city hall. I want to be ‘served’ not ‘sold’ something.

Stehly to hold Press Conference Today!

What: Press Conference
Where: Downtown Library
When: 1:30 pm,  Thursday September 13th
 
Councilor Theresa Stehly will discuss her concerns with the recent appointment of Jason Reisdorfer for the Director of Innovation and Technology.
The City Council is slated to vote on this nominee at the next September 18th meeting.
 
Please contact Theresa  Stehly with questions @929-8783
ALSO Read the Stehly Report HERE: (Doc: Stehly-Report-Fall-2018
Topics covered in Press Conference;
—Our Mayor’s race was driven by the topics of transparency, openness, accountability, integrity and citizen representation. Also, the topic of working with all council members to create a more “partnership “ attitude  for the benefit of the public was discussed.

—I have requested a comparison breakdown of what Sue Quandbeck and her department provided for the citizens compared with this new positions. I also have requested from Paul TenHaken what the salary will be for this new position. I have asked our City staff what Sue Quandbeck was getting paid. (Including  her benefits, which I have been told is based on 30% of the salary for all employees.)

—I enthusiastically supported the Mayor’s choice for our City Attorney. Stacy Kooistra came into our midst with a clean slate and he exudes integrity, fairness, solid knowledge of the law and a maturity and demeanor that is in my opinion very admirable and fitting for our City Attorney. I stated my feelings about him during the Council meeting before we voted   to approve him several weeks ago.

—Many of my Colleagues , and the Mayor do NOT allow citizens the opportunity to comment on their Facebook page. I do allow respectful conversation from my more than 3300 friends on my personal Facebook page. However, I am under no obligation to accept friends , or keep friends who are disrespectful or belligerent. I also reserve the right to delete comments that are disrespectful, and attacking.

—This IT position is so very important for the integrity of information for the citizens and the entire City communication system. We need an IT director who is impartial and of the highest level of integrity. Our  responsibility as Council members is to ensure that we have the best person serving the citizens. It is our right and responsibility to vet each candidate. This position  needs a leader who is committed to Citizen responsiveness, transparency, communication and has a respectful approach to the public and to the Council members.

— The IT Director needs to have the greatest regard for all the citizens and giving them access and representation. I had concerns about the resistance Jason Riesdoerfer  displayed when we brought an ordinance developing district representation for the Park Board. This ordinance   would have given all parts of our community a place at the table. Jason was very opposed to allowing each area of our community to have a representative on the Park Board, instead defending the closed status quo.

–The IT Director needs to be available and open to hearing from the Public. After Jason and the Park Board voted against the ordinance requesting  more citizens representation, I made a formal request at the  Park Board meeting to have all Park Board members  give me their contact information so I could let the public know how to contact them. Jason and the rest of the Park Board members REFUSED.

—The IT Director needs to be committed to transparency and accessibility. Jason and the rest of the Park Board refuses to hold meetings in a place where they can be video recorded.

—The IT Director needs to show professionalism for our community. Jason’s demeanor on Facebook was less than that. After he called me a Liar, I did unfriend him. Although I had concerns about this attitude coming from a Park Board member, I decided not to pursue it at the time, and let it go. But now , with a proposal to put Jason in charge of all the communications that the public will get , as well as the council information, I needed to step out and express my concerns.

—The IT Director needs to be open and transparent. Jason and the Park Board defended the “secret selection” committee’s recommendation to kick the Dakota Golf Company to the curb. The community and the City Council deserved to have the information used for this decision. I was very vocal about this need for the public to know.

 The Mayor’s department,  and the Park Board refused.  When I stated concerns about the ongoing employment for the staff of Dakota Golf on Facebook, Jason attacked me and called me a liar.

We have since experienced that Dakota Golf manager Tom Jansa was Not retained by the new Golf Company.

 

Former Pizza Maker & Parks Board Member gets nod for new IT Director for city

Not since Paul appointed that FB cusser, TJ Nelson, as his deputy COS has he made a flub in an important appointment. Today that changed;

Mayor Paul TenHaken today announced the appointment of Jason Reisdorfer to the new position of Director of Innovation and Technology.

Where to begin with Jason? When he was appointed to the Parks Board, we decided to check his voting record. While he was registered to vote, he seemed skip the important part of that registration by voting. In anything.

You may also remember Jason’s very public attacks on FB towards councilor Stehly for trying to convert the Parks Board into districts and get their meetings video recorded. I guess I am not real keen on Jason’s disdain for government transparency and fairness when he will be running our secure data for the city.

But let’s move on to his stellar resume;

In 2012, Jason sold his restaurant business to go work with his long-time friend Eric Weisser.

I guess I am puzzled what business he sold? Or was it more like a liquidation? As I understand it the business he is referring to is a very successful pizza chain in the region that is still alive and well. I think Jason had a small ownership in a branch of the business that has since closed in Harrisburg.

Together, they built Weisser Distributing into one of the fastest growing companies in South Dakota. They recently earned their fourth consecutive selection to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies in the United States. As the Director of Operations, Jason led Weisser Distributing’s growth from four employees and $1 million in sales to over 130 employees with warehouses in three cities and are on pace to record over $65 million sales in 2018.

So this part of his resume actually has me asking more questions than anything. If he was just an employee that helped build the business this much, why would they let him go? If he had actual ownership in the business, why isn’t he staying? Did he sell his part? Or will he still have ownership and involvement while working for the city? Is that a conflict? I don’t know.

Also, I find it curious that he wants to work for the city of Sioux Falls when this company decided to move to Tea, SD to grow and not stay in Sioux Falls. How can you have pride in working for Sioux Falls when you decided to grow your business in Tea?

There is a lot of questions the city council needs to ask before approving this appointment.