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.
Here are some leading questions after the collapse;
• Will Downtown businesses be reimbursed for lost business by the construction company’s insurance? Most of these businesses are family owned, they don’t have a lot of buffer like national franchises especially during one of the busiest shopping times of the year.
• Will the city be reimbursed for the enormous cost of the rescue and security efforts? While most would argue this is part of paying taxes, sometimes those costs go above and beyond.
• What is the signifigance of the meeting on Monday between the city, OSHA, Hultgren and the families affected? Will they be talking about a private settlement?
• Since Legacy Development was one of the companies to bid on the future parking ramp, were they chosen? And if so, will the city pull the contract? Will the public ever be told? Do we have a right to know?
Who are the private investors in Legacy Development?
One of the biggest questions that has been boiling to the top all week – did any of the city councilors, county commissioners or even the Mayor have investments with Legacy, Hultgren or with the PAVE or Lewis project? And if so, isn’t this a conflict of interest, especially since the construction company has gotten quite a few ‘passes’ from the city’s planning/building services office? This speculation comes from the city’s decision to launch NO investigation of their own and a desire to not press charges unless OSHA finds serious fault. Think about it, Cameraman Bruce was arrested and taken to court over a stack of shingles and the possibility of a couple of mice, something the city called a health/public nuisance. Doesn’t it seem silly the city is worried about a couple of mice, but not that a man died in a construction accident? It just doesn’t add up.
I will tell you folks, this goes deeper, and I think some people with some serious connections are involved. Notice the rancor coming from the city lately about the media stirring the pot, they are trying to squelch the message and kill the messenger.
It will be interesting to see who is holding the bag when the smoke clears . . . it may just be one of the biggest scandals this city has ever seen, it will make the secret million dollar settlement on the EC look like vandalism under the 10th Street bridge.
I have often argued that Sioux Falls’ Parks and our Fire Department as our greatest assets in Sioux Falls. Friday, our city’s finest proved themselves, digging in, saving one life and trying to save another. They were relentless in their duties and they all deserve a big Thank You! Further proving it is ‘our people’ in Sioux Falls that make us great!
I also want to give a big shout out to all the others that helped in the recovery, we really have a very caring community.
The video still doesn’t touch on the super secret pilot program. Jill Franken, REMSA, and PP act like they are going to secure Mosul;
In an effort to make a good system even better, the Sioux Falls EMS system is conducting a two-month pilot project with a goal of optimizing the use of EMS resources in the community. During this time, the EMS system will enhance the use of technology and test and increase its focus on call and scene reprioritizations as appropriate. The pilot project will end by November 30, and preliminary results will be available by the end of 2016. Goals include using mutual aid resources only when necessary and keeping fire department resources available to respond to emergency calls in their own response areas.
In other words cutting back services, but charging the same rates and taxes for ambulance and fire service.
Another member of heady daze of 1970’s Democratic power has passed and his friend Jim Powers reminds us of his friend Robert Sivertson.
Just before Powers started his September 16, 2016 scheduled Sioux Falls Democratic Forum on talk, he reminded us of Sivertson’s place in South Dakota legislative history.
Cameraman Bruce spent many hours campaigning with Sivertson and his Democratic majority partners back then. We all should appreciate what they tried to do to move the state out or the scandals and problems of the past.
We have Open Meetings and Records laws, an updated, less confusing SD Constitution and something I know looking at the mess it is in now, a more streamlined state government bureaucracy.
Sideras stated in the article that “many SFFR members are paramedics”. This ‘may’ be a change from the last contract held by Rural Metro, the fire department paramedics were PROHIBITED from using any of their skills within the city limits.
Was that ban lifted under this contract? Was any Advanced Life Support (ALS) equipment added to the fire trucks for the paramedics to use?
If not, Sideras’s statement is misleading because the paramedics cannot perform any skills other than their EMT-level training (under the old contract).
If the Ambulance company (Paramedics Plus, Rural Metro under the old contract) is in system overload, only they could approve other ambulances to enter the city (such as volunteer service ambulances from surrounding communities, like Med Star, Sanford or Avera) to transport patients to hospitals.
Did this change in the new contract? Wouldn’t this be better than people driving themselves to the hospital? Why wouldn’t the fire department have this decision-making power instead of the company that profits from transporting the people?
Like Mr. Lonneman said, in a tornado or some other major disaster, should we need a private company’s decision to bring in more ambulances? Maybe language has changed in the new contract, I don’t know, but a good question to ask.
It would be in the patient’s best interest to have the ability to call in an ambulance whenever one was needed, Paramedics Plus losing a transport shouldn’t be the City’s concern. If they lose too many transports, they’ll put another ambulance in service.
On a side note. REMSA, should be determining what calls will and won’t count against the ambulance service for that 90% of the time number they have to meet. For example: If the ambulance has to go through construction traffic because 12th street is torn up, the Q/A person has decided in the past that isn’t the ambulance company’s fault, the construction was caused by the City, so that delay didn’t count against their numbers. Another example: All of their ambulances were out on calls on higher than expected call volume due to a multiple vehicle accident.
The fire department counts these types of calls and doesn’t take them as exceptions for their accreditation and as you probably guessed, Rural Metro always was in compliance with their required 90% times.
It would be interesting to see how many things are now in the new contract that could benefit the SFFR by allowing them to charge PP back for services like fire stand-bys, equipment, code 5 calls, etc.
I have often scratched my head why the SFFD just doesn’t run a public ambulance service that they could set up as an enterprise fund (all the money paid into the service could go in to improving it instead shareholder profits). The Fire Department is already beating the private ambulances to these calls, it is a majority of their calls, and we are already paying for it through our taxes, so why not find a way to save the city money by charging for the service while providing better service then what our private ambulance companies are doing. The city of Los Angeles figured it out, why can’t we?
One thing that has disappointed me is the City’s unwillingness to admit there’s flaws in its mental health programs for firefighters. Its wellness programs are great. They are far above what most other employees receive I’d imagine, but the reality is firefighting is not like other jobs and fitness/wellness coordinators do not have the training to identify, diagnose, and treat mental health issues.
The fact that the City is in denial became quite clear in the Argus Leader article published on June 5, 2015. Where the fire chief, Jim Sideras listed several “fail-safes” he said are in place to help those who struggle with mental illness, because it is considered part of fitness for duty.
Some of the highlights from the article were:
• Annual medical evaluations to National Fire Protection Association Standards: These physicals are supposed to determine physical and mental fitness for duty. Two years after I was fired and no changes have been made to add the listed mental testing as required by the standard.
• Post Incident Analysis (P.I.A.): This probably sounded great to the public, but any firefighter knows this was pure B.S. to stretch out the list. P.I.A.s have nothing to do with mental health, they are conducted by fire personnel and are a review of fire incidents to ensure policies and procedures were followed and the correct strategies and tactics were used. They make certain all operations were performed safely and are used as learning tools to critique incidents to see if anything could have been done more effectively.
• There is only 1 test on that list done by a person qualified to identify and treat mental illness and it is done at the time of hire.
• Comments Sideras made include “We can’t twist someone’s arm and make them go…” and “If they do not share their information of issues… …the proper level of care or referrals cannot be achieved.” So, translation: expect the person with the mental health issue to self-diagnose that there is a problem, and blame them if they don’t?
So since it was clear to me the City was more interested in defending its actions than making change that might actually help people, I wrote the linked article that was recently published in Firehouse Magazine.
The emails I’ve received from firefighters around the country are all basically the same form of question/comment: “The fire service is a brotherhood, how could your chief prosecute you like that?” Once I explain the perfect storm of us both being up for the fire chief position, him convincing himself I was out for his job, the ethics investigation I submitted*; they understood better: payback.
Criminally prosecuting you is one thing, but when your former employer leaks your case to the media to ensure you are publically humiliated and discredited? Considering the ethics complaint was never fully investigated but instead “swept under the rug” you might call it whistleblower retaliation.
*Warren filed an ethics complaint against Sideras for undocumented vacation time. Nothing came of the complaint.
The devil is in the details. Literally when it comes to fire safety.
There is this little document called the ‘Fire Hazardous materials review letter’ that should be drawn up before any building is constructed. The city decided to draw up the letter after construction began on the Aquatics Center? Why?
I (Bruce) asked for this to be sent to me in February. It had not been completed until after I asked for it. Last night before the Council (4/5) meeting I asked Dean for it and here it is today (4/6). Look at the meeting dates. It confirms they only had the meeting AFTER my February request.
More short cuts by the administration? Laziness by the fire department? Hazardous materials storage should be addressed before dirt is even moved for a foundation.
Another fine ramrodded project by the Huether administration.
Fire Division Chief, Patrick Warren accepts the Accreditation with the Center for Public Safety Excellence representatives.
As you may well know, Fire Division Chief, Patrick Warren was terminated almost two years ago for misconduct while suffering from mental illness. But after two years, his accomplishments still keep popping up. In fact, the mayor went as far as claiming a couple of the Top Wins for 2015 were due to such great leadership at the SFFD;
Sioux Falls Fire Rescue was presented with ISO Class 1 designation and accreditation with the Center for Public Safety Excellence.
Patrick Warren was the accreditation manager on the department for 8 years and successfully got the department reaccredited twice – including this last time they’re counting as a win. When Pat went to the conference in Henderson, NV to accept the award, Sideras supposedly ASKED to him “Do I really need to be there?” Pat told him no, technically he wasn’t required to be there but he was the only fire chief that chose not to be there out of the dozen or so departments that were being accredited or reaccredited. So the Commissioners set up a conference call and made Sideras sit on the phone during the reaccreditation board hearing.
One of Pat’s other duties was ISO compliance. On the City’s last review, the SFFD missed getting an upgraded rating by just a couple of points. Pat knew that opening a new station would be enough to improve our rating. When Mayor Huether finally allowed construction, Pat arranged for the land purchase, made it through station design, and the week after the ground breaking Patrick was terminated. But the ball was rolling, and we were going to improve our ISO rating once the station opened.
One of the items accreditation is based on is response times and improving those response times. In 2013 and 2014, the fire department responded to 90% of its emergency calls (travel time) in 5 minutes 0 seconds and 5 minutes 3 seconds respectively. With the addition of a new station and and another crew, they should be able to at least hold steady on that number if not improve it slightly.
But in a strange twist, Chief Sideras set a goal of 5 minutes 12 seconds. In the accreditation manual it states that is the slowest time you can meet and still be accredited. But what he seems to not understand is the self-improvement process of accreditation. If the department is meeting 5m3s, and he sets a goal of 5m12s, the department will be deemed “not credible” and be required to change that goal to realistic goal. Accreditation is about setting new goals when you reach the existing ones, not setting ones you’ve already met so you can easily meet them and boast about your easy victory.
The chief did the same thing with the ISO measurement of fire loss. In 2013 there was $2.5 million in property damage/loss and in 2014 $3.1 million in property damage/loss. So what did Sideras set as a goal for 2015 and 2016? Less than $4.4 million. That’s a pretty big increase. Once again another easy goal for another easy win.
If they’re going by ISO and accreditation, I feel like a couple of people mentioned above owe the former fire division chief a big THANK YOU on some very BIG WINS!
Other people besides Warren worked on accreditation also (Battalion Chiefs and the Data Analyst). One of the Battalion Chiefs also happened to be the only other one who knew anything about ISO and helped Warren with it, Mark Bukovich. He’s also the only one who would have known to call ISO and have them come back for the re-scoring the department after the station opened. But I guess when you’re the CHIEF/MAYOR you get to take all the credit.
Former Fire Division Chief Patrick Warren contributed to this article.
According to this Argus article, it would appear the Homebuilders Association knows more about fire safe materials then actual fire fighters. And why wouldn’t the council listen to them? Our fire department was practically dead silent about amending the provision.
Why didn’t Fire Chief Sideras come and speak about the importance of this issue? A Brandon firefighter died because of this exact problem. I can’t even fathom a fire department being absent from a discussion as important as this.
“Ron Bell said last month the added layer of drywall would add between five and 10 minutes of structural life to floor trusses in the event of a fire.”
Either one of them could also have reminded the council that many cities do not opt out sections of the International Fire Code when it is updated, they adopt it as is. (I.E., they don’t let the Homebuilder’s Associations run the show with scare tactics like “people won’t be able to afford houses anymore or it will add $3,000 on to the cost of a house (Notice they didn’t mention the square footage of that house).
“Putting that cap up, there is still going to be areas that will be exposed to those trusses and the airflow will go up in there,” said Council Chairman Kenny Anderson Jr. “I just don’t feel there’s enough data to show … that this will be effective.”
Airflow isn’t the problem, it’s when the flame gets to the metal gusset plate on the floor truss itself. Example: Take a hot pan on the stove on high heat. Put your hand above the pan 2” away. You can feel the heat, but you aren’t being burned. That’s airflow. Put your hand on the pan. You’re being burned, eventually to the third degree. (bet you wish you had that piece of drywall about now) See the difference?
The fire department, Sideras, and the union have the data to show floor trusses are extremely dangerous under direct flame contact – that is why the fire code was changed to cover the trusses. They will fail within 5-10 minutes of direct flame contact. In some cases that’s before the fire department is even on scene. Changes to the fire code aren’t made lightly, they’re just as political and fought against at the national and international levels.
So did Sideras put his career ahead of the life safety of the 200+ firefighters under his “protection”?
“Citing cost concerns and a lack of effectiveness, councilors rejected the proposal Tuesday.”
They made the only decision they could come to considering they only had half of the facts – the ones provided by the homebuilder’s association and the incorrect ones provided by the building services director. Where was Sideras and what are we paying this fire chief for? But it also proves that our city council does very little research of their own relying solely on the shills that run the different departments.
(Note: A former firefighter/inspector contributed to this post)
What an unusual year 2016 was. In fact the 16 years of this new century has been filled with changes that happen daily. Look at the weather. The temperature can go from 40 degrees one day to below zero the next.
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama is celebrating the World Series champion Chicago Cubs before he leaves office. On what usually is a sleepy federal holiday at the White House, Cubs players filed into the White House East Room on Martin Luther King Day for Obama’s final ceremony for a championship sports team. Even sweeter […]
WASHINGTON (AP) – A U.S. law enforcement official says the FBI has arrested the wife of the Orlando nightclub shooter. The official says Noor Salman was taken into custody Monday morning in the San Francisco area and is due in court Tuesday in California. She’s facing charges in Florida including obstruction of justice. The official […]