Entries Tagged 'SF City Council' ↓

Pull up your belts and tighten your bootstraps

Not sure if the Argus screwed up this quote or if councilor Erickson actually said this, but it made me chuckle;

“The administration is really tightening their bootstraps and so we need to do the same thing,” Council Vice-chairperson Christine Erickson said during a recent budget meeting at Carnegie Town Hall.

Don’t tighten your bootstraps to much, you might hurt your feet 🙂

South DaCola Podcast V: Sioux Falls City Councilor Pat Starr

Pat talks downtown parking ramp, higher education, wages and city budget, and much more.

The difference between County & City budget hearings

The only thing on the Sioux Falls city council agenda this Tuesday is the joint budget hearings with Minnehaha county.

I was astonished by the 42 page budget presentation from Siouxland Museums. (Full DOC:  SX-Museum-budget-2018) Their total yearly budget is about $1.1 million!

What surprised me was with such a small budget the amount of detail in the presentation. They even figured out that each catalogued item in the collection cost taxpayers about $1.58 a year.

Why can’t the city present such detailed presentations to the public? I know that the council is probably privy to the big book, but why can’t we dig deeper? It often troubles me when councilors ask department heads questions about the budget at the meetings and they don’t have answers. Do they even read their own budgets? Do they know what’s in them? Could the director of Central Services tell us what the city pays for a roll of toilet paper?

Another reason the council should be involved with the budget process from the beginning and not at the end.

It really comes down to pinching pennies. While the county has to go through their budget with a fine tooth comb, the city is awash in so much money it seems they don’t care about the ‘little things’ like spending over $400 per episode of the mayor’s ‘Shut Up and Listen’ sessions.

I have often said the next mayor needs to be a fiscal hawk on day one and take a microscope and scalpel to the current budget on day one. That really should be the main job of the mayor besides employee management.

I’m a little weary that a motorcycle salesman could really look at those finer details.

Sioux Falls Mayor proposes city flag design

The City of Sioux Falls ‘OFFICIAL’ Flag?

I’m sure you have seen it around town, especially hanging from downtown businesses store fronts, the tri-colored ‘unofficial’ flag of Sioux Falls. The city council and Mayor’s office has been pressured several times to make the flag the ‘official’ flag of the city, with NO luck.

The group pushing for the design had essentially gave up and just started selling the flag as the ‘unofficial’ flag of Sioux Falls.

Mayor Huether realizing there really hasn’t been a resolution on the issue put his staff at central and media services to work to come up with an ‘official design’. After they compiled about 10 different designs he shared it with directors, family and close friends.

This was ultimately the design the Mayor picked. It still has to go through city council approval.

Mayor Huether had this say about the new design.

“I think it reflects the passive, plain, artistic ignorance of the ruling class in our city while also representing the bare bones uneventful lives of the working class of our city. I have NO doubt our city council will pass this POSITIVE design, and if they don’t, I will just veto their NO votes. I think I can do that.”

The mayor has promised to get things done his last year in office, and here is yet another example of his leadership and vision if only this article wasn’t a big joke.

Sioux Falls City Council Race (Central District) heating up

Before the council meeting tonight I learned there is now a possibility of five candidates running for the Central District, which is fantastic!

While I don’t want to say any names at this point since they have not formerly announced yet, it is a pretty diverse group.


Sioux Falls City Council Leadership continues to play inside baseball with the Mayor’s office

I guess I was a little naïve to think that once we sent Rex Rolfing packing and brought on Erickson as vice-chair, things would get a little more transparent. In fact it’s gotten worse.

It’s a real head scratcher, but it is clear that the mayor had a ‘sit-down’ with Christine after she took over as vice-chair (she admitted they had a one-on-one meeting), and it seems some horse trading went on.

Make no mistake that Erickson aspires to be Mayor of Sioux Falls someday, also take into account that Diamond Jim may be our next mayor, and the rumors are getting stronger about the possibility of Huether serving as Jim’s Chief of Staff. I shutter at the thought of it.

Recently Erickson flip-flopped on the districting of the parks boards. She promised she would support it if Bruce and I would not comment about it during public input. We kept our promise. She did not. It was blatantly obvious that this change wouldn’t hurt a single soul, she really had NO reason to vote against it except for playing reindeer games with the mayor.

It also came to light that Team leadership, Erickson and Kiley, have been hand picking who can serve on RFP committees. She served on the Lloyd project RFP committee.

Not only were councilors Stehly and Starr NOT asked, they had no idea these committees were being formed.

It goes back to leadership thinking they have more power than their peers. They do not. Like I said, the charter doesn’t give them any more power. Their duties of running meetings and being ‘messengers’ to the ENTIRE council are their only REAL duties. So why are they not fulfilling those duties?

It also makes you question what certain council staffers know and what they are not sharing with other councilors. They are to report to the entire council, not just leadership. If they are being told to hide information from certain councilors, that’s an issue. We know this problem recently reared it’s head when the lead auditor followed orders from council leadership to pick our external auditor without informing the rest of the council in a public meeting.

Open government is good government, secrecy is tyranny. The tyranny with council leadership needs to end.

UPDATED: Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, August 15, 2017

Of course it is Budget season at Carnegie, so the council starts their Tuesday again with a budget presentation.

Topics at hand are Police Department, Fire Department, Planning Department & Transit.

The council meeting is a little sleepy, but there is a few things worth noting.

Item#1, Consent Agenda, more money being thrown at entertainment facilities, gotta burn that entertainment tax just as fast as the money comes in. Convention center is getting new restrooms for around $776K* and the Pavilion gets $285K to put up a new exhibit in the Money Pit called the Science Center.

*I find it interesting the bathrooms are getting remodeled at the CC, because that was done before the EC was built . . . twice! (because some mucky-muck didn’t like the tile). Third times a charm I guess. Maybe when the Dudley House runs out of space, they can bunk the homeless in the CC’s restrooms?

There is also a mysterious joint powers agreement with the finance department and Minnesota (I’m looking into this one).


This JPA would allow the City procurement team to piggyback bids for equipment (Wheel Loaders, backhoes, Asphalt Oil Applicators, etc. ) from local dealers in Sioux Falls (RDO Equipment and Sheehan Equipment). Many Cities, Counties and School Districts in South Dakota use these bids/contracts to purchase some of their equipment because the contracts have already been competed and meet the intent of 5-18A.

Since 2010 the City of Sioux Falls has only utilized these MN contracts once. This agreement is would give the procurement team an option to purchase equipment from these contracts if we found it to be a good a price. The purchases, if any, would only be from the local dealers in the Sioux Falls area.

Item#10, Resolution, Budget Adoption for CIP, 2018-2022

Item#20, Second Reading, more fees for licensing alcohol distribution (Fiddle-Faddle says we need to be inline with state law)

Item#32, Resolution, Appointment of volunteer board members. I know TWO of the appointees and am very happy they are going to serve. Good Luck!

Item#33, Resolution, Joint Powers agreement between the SFPD and SD AG’s office. This will be an interesting one to listen hear about. It is about drug enforcement. I guess I already would have assumed that they work together? Who knows what Jackboots cooked up this time.

Looks like the council gets an easy night.

It’s called ‘Pay to Play’ stupid

I only use campaign donations to line my kitty litter box

I agree with Sioux Falls city attorney, Fiddle-Faddle that there is nothing illegal or any conflicts voting on items that affect campaign donors (Protected free speech). But, for elected officials to say ‘Oh Shucks’ about it, that is another thing;

“If somebody was walking into the election year and handing you $50,000, it’d be hard to argue that doesn’t influence you,” Selberg said. “But there’s no issues here.”

Yeah, it’s just pretty much the company I use to broker homes, I can’t see a conflict? Wonder if Mashall also got a handy blindfold with his donation?

Councilor Michelle Erpenbach, who received a total of $700 from the Lloyds for her 2010 and 2014 races, said when she receives campaign contributions, she offers nothing in return but to be the best leader she can for the city.

“I have never had Craig or Pat call me and say, ‘Hey, I gave you that check,'” Erpenbach said. “I would be in their face about it, and I’d write them a check back if they did.”

Sure you would. And I’m a fairy princess.

Why do you think he gave you a donation? Oh, let Mr. Potter, uh I mean, Mr. Lloyd explain;

“You can’t buy anybody for $500 or $1,000,” Lloyd said. “If anybody wants to take the time and effort to run for the position — because I don’t want to take the time and effort — and has a positive attitude to move Sioux Falls forward, I’ll give them money any day.”

Hmm? Positive attitude? That’s nice. What about ethics? Morals? Integrity? Are those worthy attributes to contribute to? Apparently not, because councilors Stehly, Starr and Neitzert never got a check from the Lloyd family tree. C’mon guys, start working on your positive attitude, like voting to give massive tax discounts to multi-millionaire developers. They need your ‘Positive’ help.

Who authorized the ‘GO Card’? Good question.

While I will say that this discount card is a good idea (I would tweak it somewhat*) I’m wondering where this came from all of a sudden?

Make no mistake, the Parks Department Administration has every right to come up with these kind of marketing/promotional ideas, in fact with all the (white**) people over there making 6 figures or more a year, they should be kicking out ideas like this every week.

But my main question is, ‘Who authorized the card?’

If the Parks Board authorized this without consent of the council, that goes against everything they have been saying about the advisory nature of the board over the past couple of weeks. People who I have spoken with who have attended the last couple of meetings heard NOTHING about the card. So maybe the board was in the dark also (but I have my doubts)?

Three city councilors told me they didn’t hear about it until yesterday when the press release was put out. But even if the other five rubber stampers knew about it, it certainly wasn’t because it was brought up in a public working session, committee meeting or informational. And there was NO council authorization.

While any city department certainly has the right, and probably even the legal right to come up with different marketing and promotional ideas within their set budget, I think they are walking a fine line with this one.

But “What if the mayor authorized it”? Not within his duties as far as I am concerned because this has to do with budgetary and fees charged which is the duty of the city council to approve. So how is it that the city council sets the swimming pool rates but has NO say in a discount card?

Once again, this just shows how the Parks Administration and the Mayor’s office thumbs their noses at the council.

*The discounts are ‘nice’ on the card, but nothing too substantial. I guess I would have pursued a corporate sponsorship like from Sanford Profile or Scheels.

**According to a Human Resources report, the Parks Department has 74 employees, NONE of them are a minority.

Washington Pavilion Management looking to renew contract in October

The Washington Pavilion is looking to renew their 5-Year contract in October of this year (The current contract runs until December 31, 2017). The first I heard about this, and most of the councilors was yesterday during the budget hearings.

Besides the fact that SMG has been salivating for years to get the contract on the only room in the building that makes any money, the Great Hall, I am wondering if the Pavilion contract has ever been put out for bid? Or like the external auditor contract, we just pick someone in the dark of the night?

I think with the recent move to allow other entities to bid on our public golf course contract, it might not hurt to open up the bidding for the PAV.

Even if they don’t, the council should have oodles of questions for the current management team. It has been NO secret for years that the Great Hall makes the Pavilion money. Mainly because the Pavilion controls it’s own ticket sales and much of it’s promotion of shows (something they need to do at the Events Center). Do they make money on all of their shows? No, but year after year, the Great Hall has been profitable, very profitable. I think the only time the Great Hall probably didn’t make money was during the economic downturn in 2008-09. The Visual Arts Center has always kind of broke even. Mostly through grants, etc. and there skeleton staff. The Science center has always been a money pit. The problem is that the Pavilion doesn’t split up the accounting for the 3 departments. In other words, even if the Great Hall makes money, there is an appearance of loss due to the Science Center because all of the money sits in one kitty. This needs to change with the new contract.

The Pavilion has also had some major management changes over the past year, not just with the new Director, Darrin Smith, but some long time managers have said bye-bye.

So why is it important that the city council dig deep before signing another 5 year contract?

The last internal city Audit was in 2008

The last 5 year contract was signed in October 2012 (Item #31)

Last annual report presentation to city council was in 2014

As you can see, besides the Pavilion spending millions over the past couple of years in building upgrades sliding under the radar in the consent agenda and taking money from the lucrative money tree called the entertainment tax, there has been very little transparency since the last time they signed a contract.

It’s time for the council to really pull up their boot straps and dig deep, and ask the important questions before blindly signing another contract.