Entries Tagged 'SF City Council' ↓

‘High Crime Mayor’ Huether


Make the Events Center ‘Great Again’

Mayor ‘High Crime’ Mike was on the Greg Belfrage this morning (podcast should be up by early afternoon).

He started out by blabbering about the pool and how he got a lot of flack for wearing a shirt while diving off the high dive. He said he wore the shirt, because his secretary, communications director and wife told him he needed to wear it in the name of ‘decorum’ and he commented that he wasn’t ‘Putin’. I guess you have to take off your hat while talking to the council and mayor, and put on a shirt while swimming with them. While I can understand his wife asking him to wear the shirt (she has seen him shirtless, maybe) I’m wondering when his secretary and communications director have seen him shirtless . . . Funny how he was concerned about ‘decorum’ at the pool during public appearances, but the day before he lied to the public about voting for the indoor pool. I guess good decorum doesn’t include telling the truth. As for not being like ‘Putin’ I disagree, they have similar leadership styles 🙂

He also had a moment of ‘honesty’ and told the good folks of Sioux Falls that the pool wouldn’t run in the black.

Duh, Duh & Duh.

But he continued by saying ‘unlike the events center’ (running in black). It often amazes me how the mayor can go from saying something truthful to saying something false in a matter of seconds.

Let’s go over this again for the kids who were late to class. While the EC may cover its operations costs with revenue, the maintenance and mortgage on the facility are about 3x the revenue taken in. In other words, while SMG and Ovations are making money, the tax payers of Sioux Falls are footing the mortgage on the EC out of the 2nd penny, not revenue from the EC. Hardly ‘operating in the black’. In other words if you ran your personal business the way we run the EC you would be bankrupt in less than a year.

The mayor also touched on the Administration Building, and peddled the silly notion that Rex Rolfing’s 10 golf buddies told him they supported the building, and that was enough to defy the citizens and the city council 3 times to spend $25 million on a building we don’t need. Funny that the mayor didn’t bring up the ‘buzz off’ letter he received last week from the Minnehaha County Commission reminding him that they are absolutely NOT interested in leasing space at the building, ever.

The next caller got the mayor’s gander up a bit. He talked about working with the traffic engineering department and the police department to reduce speeding in his neighborhood for the safety of the children (he lives near Endeavor School) and after several conversations with them he was wondering why ‘nothing’ is being done. Mikey doesn’t like it when citizens accuse city employees of doing nothing, besides, it takes effort to lean on a shovel or belly up to the Avera Hospital lunch line. But you know what doesn’t take effort, Solar powered speed signs, as the caller suggested. They also are very inexpensive and effective at reducing speeds. The mayor said he would do some checking into why we are not using them. What a short memory our mayor has, a few short weeks ago, councilor Theresa Stehly made an amendment to the city budget to buy some of these signs to ‘experiment’ with them in high speed problem areas (FF: 1:19:30). The council voted her down after Public Works Director Mark Cotter said they don’t have the ‘staff’ or ‘time’ to move the signs (they are simply held to a post with brackets). I think Stehly is going to be on the Belfrage show sometime this week, hopefully she can explain how the signs work, since our mayor is doing ‘nothing’ to promote them.

But the highlight of this morning’s show was when a caller called the mayor ‘High Crime Mayor’ and said crime has ‘gone through the roof’ since he has been mayor. Like Donald Trump, Mayor Mike interrupts the caller and says ‘Wong’. I will defend the mayor on one level, the caller could have worded it a little less rudely, but his premise of the increase in crime is true. In the previous mayoral election, the increase in crime rates was a topic of discussion, at least in the Jamison camp, the mayor was in complete denial of the crime increase, and his previous Corvette Convertible driving police chief had his back and wasn’t concerned about it either. Fast forward a mere 3 years, different story. The mayor rambled on about how he is tackling the meth problem in Sioux Falls by having a ‘press conference’. As I have mentioned before, meth or as we called it ‘crank’ has been prevalent since I have lived in Sioux Falls (1991). For the mayor to claim that he is being tough on crime while giving SF police officers dismal raises and ignoring an epidemic that was around long before he showed up on the scene is ludicrous.

He was so pissed about the ‘high crime mayor’ comment he couldn’t stop talking about it the rest of the show.

Truth hurts I guess.

Speaking of public safety, I guess now the SFFD is now saying (mostly the chief) that his employees don’t have to go through the same diversity training as the police officers after the transgender incident at the jail. I will update you on this as soon as I get more information.

UPDATE: The mayor also bagged on the referendum and initiative process saying it was too easy to get things on the ballot. Hey Mike, it is your party that is putting these initiatives forward.

Do we have a different epidemic besides texting and driving?


There will be a presentation to the city council on Tuesday about saturation patrols in Sioux Falls. I found it interesting the number of people caught with no driver’s license or insurance.

This has been a problem for a long time in South Dakota. It’s one of the reasons I drive very defensively, you never know who is on the streets with no insurance.

Cotter Clutter

“Mark, I don’t like this one.” Huh? Why would a mayor and moderator of the Sioux Falls City Council meeting get in the middle of the deliberations (October 11, 2016)? In our video you get to see out of protocol the mayor was.

To question a city department director when the mayor was part of the decision to bring the proposal to the Council for consideration is laying blame in the wrong spot. This is why the council needs to start setting the agenda with proposed legislation and not the mayor’s office.

Sioux Falls City Council Public Input, Oct 17, 2016

Watch the entire meeting;

I agree with Vernon Brown about electing a city attorney

Yeah, I know, you never thought I would agree with Mr. Brown, did you? We will get to that shortly, but first with councilor Theresa Stehly’s idea of having separate legal council for the city council;

The distrust, she said, stems from conversations with City Attorney David Pfeifle in which she was told she was vulnerable to ethics violations if she continued to speak out against city-backed initiatives, policies and projects. She said those comments were made in an attempt to stifle her efforts to generate public opposition to the city administration building and a Terrace Park improvement project that the city’s historical preservation board put a stop to earlier this year.

“The agenda and wishes of the mayor are coming first,” she said.

Many would argue that another attorney would cost us more money, not the case at all. They could easily move one of the 6-8 attorneys that already work for the city over to the city council position. You wouldn’t have to hire anyone new. I think we should have learned our lesson when we fired an incredible city clerk (Debra Owen) and had to hire 3 employees to replace her. Not only did Owen do all 3 of their jobs for a lot less then the unqualified city clerk is doing now, she also had a law degree and advised the council on legal issues (one of the reasons I think the city attorney broke open meeting laws to get her fired).

In 2012, after the council voted to fire former City Clerk Debra Owens during an executive session, the city was brought up on open meetings violations in front of the South Dakota Open Meetings Commission.

I was at the meeting where the city attorney attempted to Fiddle Faddle his way through violating open meetings laws. He looked like a fish out of water and was chastised by almost the entire board of very seasoned government attorneys. As I said above, whether he is qualified or not, the council had excellent legal representation with Owen, who also championed transparent government. I have often been puzzled why it took three positions to replace her, and I still don’t know what these guys do besides making power point presentations and stamping official election documents with a blind fold on.

However, making the office of city attorney an elected position would alleviate perceptions that the city attorney is beholden to the mayor, he said.

“You know who hires and fires if you’re the city attorney,” he (Vernon Brown) said. “But should the city attorney be elected? Because then there’s some accountability besides to the mayor.”

I have suggested this in the past, making the city attorney an elected position would be excellent.

As for how Stehly has been treated, I haven’t been privy to those conversations, but there are some obvious missteps by the city attorney that reveal his vindictive nature towards councilor Stehly, for instance shouting from the crowd to stop her while she is being gaveled by Rex Rolfing. We know where David gets his marching orders from, that is obvious from how Debra Owen was fired and how he handled the siding settlement;

Former council chairman Kenny Anderson Jr. said there were times during his tenure that he felt outside counsel would have benefited the City Council.

When the city attorney’s office was negotiating the Premier Center siding settlement, the council was mostly kept out of that process and had to defer to Pfeifle throughout the process.

“There were times I felt we should have had a second opinion. I don’t disagree with Councilor Stehly on that,” he said. “I would say one good discussion point would have been the contract that the mayor and administration signed with the parties in the event center and where the money was placed as part of settlement.”

If you don’t think David is keeping things from the public and the city council, all you need to do is look at his track record and his loyalty towards the mayor. When he became the mayor’s personal attorney during an ethics hearing because the mayor couldn’t walk a 100 feet to defend himself, is another prime example.

Either way, I believe city charter has changed now so that the next mayor will have to have the consent of the city council before appointing a future city attorney. Spring of 2018 can’t come soon enough.

The Future of the Railroad Relocation Project


I watched this presentation at the informational meeting yesterday. But I still have concerns. Accept for the fact that we blew $27 million of Federal tax dollars on land we will never recover our cost from and we never moved all the rail traffic from this area it will be interesting to see how they are going to buffer the rail traffic from this area;

• Will it be quiet enough for residential units in the area?

• With the railroad already saying traffic will become more frequent on the remaining tracks, how will you get to the development from the east safely and efficiently?

I have no problem with redeveloping this land, even though I worry about the pollutants left behind, as we should have learned from Phillips to the Falls. But without removing all of the train traffic from this area I feel the project as a whole fails to produce a setting for prime downtown redevelopment.

I was a big supporter of the project when first proposed by Mayor Munson, but once I found out the rail traffic is still going to be chugging through this area (and getting more frequent at other downtown and central parts of Sioux Falls) I’m not sure what we accomplished. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong 10 years down the road, but like Phillips to the Falls, I have my doubts.



Scorched Earth?


If you missed public input tonight, it was interesting, to say the least. Here’s some highlights.

Is a board member of REMSA telling the Sioux Falls city council to get in line?

An interesting letter from a ‘volunteer’ board member;

Like other REMSA members, I serve on a volunteer basis with oversight by the City Council.

First off, while there are volunteer members of the REMSA board, Dr. Luther, SF Health Director Jill Franken and REMSA director Julie Charbonneau are all paid (by taxpayers–county and city), just like the City Council.

EMS systems across the nation take a variety of forms. Some communities operate EMS as a purely governmental function. In those communities, paramedics and EMTs are employees of the city or state.

Other communities employ private companies to perform EMS on a contractual basis. The City of Sioux Falls honors the strong conservative ideology prevalent in the community by engaging with private EMS providers.

I would argue that having a private ambulance provider isn’t always in the best interest of the public. If we are already paying several advisory positions on the board and paying for the fire department to be back up, it may be wise for the city to have a public ambulance service. Not only would it keep costs down for the consumer, it would have more oversight and would actually either make the city money or offset the costs. The city of LA for example has public ambulance service.

In determining the parameters of the contract, it engaged the services of Fitch and Associates, one of the nation’s most respected EMS consulting firms.

If you do some creative googling, you will also see that Fitch and Associates had some conflicts of interest with Paramedics Plus, something that was brought up in the vetting process but was quickly swept under the rug. To say the process was fair is a bit far fetched.

The contract awarded was for exclusive rights to perform EMS within the City of Sioux Falls. The need for an exclusive contract is due to the economic realities of the industry.

I understand the profit margin reality of this, but there is another side. SAFETY OF THE CONSUMER! If a catastrophe happens in Sioux Falls that requires several EMS to assist, where will that come from? A question REMSA and PP have yet to answer. There needs to be a backup plan, not secret experimental agreements and procedures.

As a member of the voting public, I believe the City Council has a responsibility to be a strong contractual partner with Paramedics Plus, to support the system as accredited segments of EMS, and assure the public of their commitment to the provision of emergency services in our community.

As I said above, how can a city council be a strong partner and support a contract when they are left in the dark of how this company operates? Kind of hard to ‘shame’ the council on decisions they make when they are provided NO transparency from REMSA or PP. As I have said, if the operating plans are too complicated for the public to understand, at least provide the details to our elected officials in closed executive session (well within the law) so they can at least make an educated assessment of the situation and the procedures. Otherwise it’s like little Johnny asking the teacher why the Earth orbits the Sun and the teacher responds, “Because”.

Hat jest to Rex Oct 11, 2016

Our in resident arbiter of hat protocol decided to create a scene during the Sioux Falls City Council public input on October11, 2016 when Dan Daily decided to wear a proper hat for the occasion.

To prove a point, Dan Daily wore his jester’s hat to prove what a fool Rex Rolfing has become during his hat tirades. From Wiki: A jester, court jester, or fool was historically an entertainer during the medieval and Renaissance eras who was a member of the household of a nobleman or a monarch employed to entertain him and his guests.

In medieval times the jester entertained by making humor out of things the powerful were doing. The nobility of the court were never to be criticized or laughed at so it was up to the jester to drive home the point and get the tension out of the room. Dan’s answer to the ridiculous crap Rex has been spewing about hats must end. Did this do it? When Dan called Rex out of order and the mayor asked Dan to continue, Rex left the room. Good job Dan!

There was much more including two garbage haulers speaking against the 1st reading of three really badly written ordinances affecting them. Their talks may have killed at least one of the proposals later in the evening.

Stehly gives her side of the story (without the gaveling maniac)

THERESA-STEHLY-COUNCIL-PHOTO-2016-kr     14568140_10209919318246868_6412361864040442182_n

This is what a leader looks like – The other guy, not so much.

I was happy to see that the Argus Leader allowed Theresa to weigh in;

I was excited to step into a role on the council where I could use the resources of our city government to better serve our people.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case. I have been told by our council leadership and our city attorney that I should not talk to the media, that I should not advocate for citizen issues, that I now work for the city and I should never criticize my boss, the city. One of the most disturbing comments that was made to me was:

“Don’t let the tail wag the Dog.”

Some have said that I should just discard these comments. But when you have the power and threat of the city attorney’s office coming at you, it is hard to defend yourself. I have had to get my own attorney to be an advocate for me and my rights to speak up for the citizens of Sioux Falls.

Something needs to change. The city council as a legislative branch needs their own attorney, separate from the executive branch (the mayor’s office). We need checks and balances to keep integrity and transparency in all that we do as a city. We need to have an open discussion to discuss what the public wants and expects from their city council. I want to assure the public that I will always work for their best interest.

What most people don’t understand, there is a whole other side to what has been happening to our councilor, a side the Mayor and his administration doesn’t want you to see. Because while Stehly works on helping the average citizen get a fair shake, and the county concentrates on keeping us safe with building a new jail, our mayor fiddles around with crying at an indoor pool.