Friday afternoon I noticed that a new episode of Inside Town Hall appeared on the City of Sioux Falls You Tube page. It was the normal setup. City councilor Kiley had on the Director of 911, Matt Burns (SFPD) and the chief of the fire department to talk about their working relationships. The one thing I noticed when I started viewing the video was that it was 44 minutes long (most episodes are 30 minutes). While there was nothing revealing in the show itself, right at the 30 minute mark it went into a 14 minute (muted) video of the building collapse rescue efforts. There were several breaks in the video and it looked professionally shot, at one point it seemed also a drone was used (or shot from a fire truck ladder).
I gathered that this video was probably shot by City Link crew. While I commend them for doing this, it also got me thinking about a lot of other angles.
• What did it cost to have a city film crew on site for that long?
• While we won’t film parks board meetings, somehow the city found it necessary to film this event?
• Why would the city not do an investigation when they had this kind of crucial footage, which included them marking the cracks in PAVE’s wall, a crane holding up the wall, and pulling away the damaged car?
• Was the footage turned over to the insurance companies and OSHA?
• Why shoot this video (which included the rescue of the apartment dweller being pulled from the wreckage) when we don’t send a film crew to every fire rescue event?
• Were they planning on using this video as some kind of propaganda?
• And lastly, why was this posted to YouTube and now has disappeared from the site?
After watching the video, I talked openly about watching it to a group of friends at Drinking Liberally Friday night at the Taphouse. Did someone in the group (or near the table) report this back to the city?
We have a few questions to ask, see how many you can answer.
If someone goes to building code enforcement and files a concern, why does no one follow-up?
Do building and code enforcement only show up to arrest someone for having a pile of shingles in the wrong spot?
What are building permits good for?
If you have a building permit, does it allow you to do what you want?
Why do we need this parking ramp so badly?
If a building falls down, are we allowed to ask why?
Should we care?
If there is a death, shouldn’t someone from the county/state investigate?
Isn’t it strange there has been no grand jury convened to find out why a tragedy happened?
What does a contract allow you to do?
Where were the engineered drawings and permits to allow a load bearing wall to be taken out?
The Copper lounge collapse in downtown Sioux Falls leaves the public with so many questions. Scott Ehrisman asked many during the Sioux Falls City Council Public Input on February 14, 2017.
When you are done with the video, write down your questions and maybe send a few of them to the Minnehaha County State Attorney. Maybe he can help us get answers.
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.
Wells Fargo says all 13,000 of its ATM’s have been upgraded to give customers card-free access. Customers log-in to the Wells Fargo mobile app, select card-free ATM access, and request a one-time-use, eight-digit access code that they use at the ATM with their debit or ATM pin, the machines also still accept debit cards. Wells […]
SIOUX FALLS – A Florida man was arrested in Sioux Falls after police say he tried to use fraudulent credit cards. Twenty-two-year-old Rioger Mulen Perez of Miami is charged with two counts of using a fraudulent credit card to obtain services, 18 counts of identity theft, and 18 counts of possession of a forged instrument […]
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