Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls Parks and Rec' ↓

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.

Parks Board Districting ordinance fails, Mayor breaks tie and votes NO

Selberg, Stehly, Neitzert and Starr voted YES. Erickson, Rolfing, Erpenbach, Kiley voted NO. At one point, Erpenbach even defended the ‘Rich, White’ folks on the board and that we were picking on them.

Hilarious. And she points out why this change is important.

Shooting Holes in the Mayor’s argument against districting the parks board

My responses are in Italics. Funny how it only took me 10 minutes to shoot holes in the mayor’s opposition.

City Administration Does Not Support Districting Parks and Recreation Board Members

Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Mayor Mike Huether and the City administration team do not support the proposal to require Parks and Recreation Board members to be appointed according to City Council district. Reasons include:

• The current process allows the City to select the most qualified or best of all of the applicants, based on such things as skills, knowledge, available time, and passion for the role. Anything less than the best applicant denigrates the quality of the board and the work they do on behalf of the entire city.

There are over 178,000 residents in Sioux Falls. This provides a sufficient number of candidates in each district with any or all of these qualifications.

• The Parks and Recreation Board members already represent a diverse selection of the city’s citizens. Board members, past and present, have different backgrounds, skill sets, ages, genders, home and work locations, employment histories, educational backgrounds, goals, and interests.

There are currently NO minorities that serve on the Parks Board, and I’m not sure if there ever have been any that have served.

• The Parks and Recreation Board role is to make decisions based on the City of Sioux Falls and the park system as a whole, versus a specific neighborhood or area of Sioux Falls. This proposal could create a “turf war” environment in our park system versus making the best decisions on behalf of the entire city, regardless of location.

Under Stehly’s proposal there would be At-Large members that would prevent this supposed ‘turf-war’. It would also force the districted members to work together to make the parks system more equal.

• History proves that park investments in Sioux Falls are made all across the city based on need and benefit, not on location. Every park, the entire bike trail, and other park amenities are maintained and improved regardless of location. One great example is the Midco® Aquatic Center, which was purposefully constructed in a centralized location for easy access to public transportation and other services.

Actually the Aquatic Center location has been proven to be a very poor choice due to traffic, parking and the lack of space needed for expansion, while being built on land deeded to the Federal Government. If Spellerberg Park would have had some kind of district representation some of these problems could have been avoided.

• South Dakota law, as also written into the board’s bylaws, clearly states that the Parks and Recreation Board only has an advisory role, providing recommendations to the Administration and City Council. The Parks and Recreation budget, fees, and contracts ultimately are considered and approved by the City Council. Considerable checks and balances are in place regarding the Parks and Recreation Board.

None of these things would change one iota under Stehly’s proposal.

• This proposal is a solution without a problem. There have been no instances provided or proven by the proponents where the existing policy was a deterrent to effective governing of Parks and Recreation in Sioux Falls.

And that is why NO current Parks Board member would lose their seats under Stehly’s proposal. This was never about the status quo, this is about moving forward in a growing diverse city, something called ‘progress’.

• What is broken? On the most recent citizen survey (January 2017), 89 percent of Sioux Falls residents rated the city’s parks positively, and 88 percent rated the overall quality of life in Sioux Falls as positive. Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation is accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). Less than 1 percent of agencies have earned this national accreditation.

So why not strive for 100%? Stehly’s proposal would only strengthen that satisfaction by having district representatives.

• The proposed ordinance sets a bad precedent. The City of Sioux Falls has 42 volunteer citizen boards and committees serving the entire city. Which volunteer committee will be negatively impacted next by the proposal?

This is about the Parks Board only, not OTHER boards because the parks are spread throughout all the districts of the city. A bad precedent would be sent by voting NO to this proposal and once again accepting a status quo that has lasted for 102 years.

• Filling City board vacancies is challenging enough today and this will be compounded if additional criteria are placed on appointments. Citizen boards and committee vacancies are heavily marketed, yet the City still struggles to find qualified people willing to serve. Remember, these are unpaid volunteers on the Parks and Recreation Board, along with the other committees and boards.

These appointments are hard to fill because they are picked by ONE person. If the city council was more involved maybe the makeup would be more diverse. Unfortunately the mayor chooses the members than asks the city council to rubber-stamp his decision based on no public testimony or interview process by the city council.

• The Parks and Recreation Board holds its meetings in various parks, community centers, and other park facilities across the city in an effort to encourage public input from the entire city and also to familiarize board members with the park system.

They hold these meeting during the work day and at the SAME TIME as the city council informational meetings which not only makes it difficult for citizens to attend but city councilors. Adding insult to injury the meetings ARE not video recorded or live streamed due to a VETO from the mayor.

• Board members do occasionally move while serving their terms. Reconsidering board positions each time a member moves to a new area of the community would not serve the board or the community in a productive fashion.

There is a provision in Stehly’s ordinance that would prevent these supposed problems.

Sioux Falls Parks Board has been just fine for 102 Years

J. Ellis wrote a hilarious satire piece about the Sioux Falls Parks Board (yes folks, it’s satire, why do we have to spell this out for you all the time!!?)

But Theresa Stehly, a city councilor, has brought forth a ludicrous proposal that future Park Board members come from other parts of the city besides the part where important people live. It would doom our parks.

Now, some of you might think the Park Board is simply a Chardonnay sipping social club whose membership lives in a roughly half-mile area of St. Charles Lane in swanky southeastern Sioux Falls. That’s what they want you to think. I’m telling you, it’s just a cover.

The Park Board is the shadow government of Sioux Falls. It is all powerful.

Who do you think ordered the grass in the parks and along the bike trail to go uncut this summer because the city doesn’t have enough money to buy gas for its lawn mower? The Park Board.

While Ellis’ piece is a parody, I have often wanted to tell the mayor that he shouldn’t be concerned about districting, rich people live in all the districts of our city, you just have to find them.

A South DaCola foot soldier sent this friendly message to the city in support of Stehly’s proposal;

Subject: Parks

Details: I support districts on the Parks Board. It is clear that concentrating members to one geographic area of the city will lead to unfair decisions and a lack of diverse opinions and priorities.

A parks director responded. His argument that that the status quo has been good for 102 years, so why change it now?

Dear Mr. – – – –

Thank you for reaching out to us and sharing your position regarding the representation of the Parks & Recreation Board by district.

We would like to first point out that the parks and recreation board members do not currently all reside in the same geographic area. The Parks & Recreation Board has been in service to our community for 102 years and during that time the board members have been selected from the community at large.

We also believe that the current process for selecting board members has produced very positive results with our parks and recreation system being one of the very best in the country as evidenced by our Parks and Recreation Agency Accreditation dating back to 2010. As a result, it is our belief that the proposal to appoint parks and recreation board members by district is a solution in search of a problem.

The City of Sioux Falls Parks & Recreation Board remains committed to serving the entire community regardless of where the parks and recreation board members happen to reside at the time they are appointed to the board.  We would also point out that the parks and recreation board is an advisory board. Capital Improvement Budgets, Operating Budgets and Management Contracts are ultimately approved by the city council and those council members are elected by council district, so there is already a considerable system of check and balances in place.

Thank you again for sharing you position.  Please feel free to contact me directly at 605.367.8150 if you have any other questions or concerns.


Kelby Mieras, CPSI, Park Operations Manager

If the Parks Board doesn’t really make important decisions, why even have them at all? Why not just send all of those parks decisions to the city council to begin with? Seems they have wasted 102 years of the citizens time. Who knew this ruse was going on for so long?

Oh, and why is a city employee lobbying against a city councilor’s legislative idea? Shouldn’t they be un-bias in these matters? Oh, forgot who his boss was.

Belfrage & Epp defend Stehly’s idea for districting parks board

Greg and Todd discussed the ‘logic’ behind the districting and questioned why anyone in the administration would be against it.

But Todd took an interesting twist on it and asked why a director of a department (Don Kearney with Parks and Rec) would take such a public stand against a city councilors legislative idea. Belfrage said that has been the mayor’s ‘style’ having his peeps gun against the councils ideas when it goes against his.

When you have Belfrage and Epp defending Stehly’s idea, you know the Mayor doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

Stehly’s Parks Board Districting legislation clears first hurdle

I was actually surprised it got a 7-1 vote with Rolfing dissenting (Item #48) after three different Parks Board Members berated Stehly during public input (which is against the Mayor’s rules of public input engagement, which Stehly pointed out at the time of the first reading). Hopefully she can maintain these 7 votes going into the 2nd reading (she only needs 6 to be veto proof).

I was also amused by some of the things said by the Parks Board members,

One stated that diversity in terms of districting would actually ‘hurt’ the board. Not sure what that even means. And another member said that serving on a ‘public’ board as a citizen volunteer doesn’t make them a ‘public’ official.

I think I laughed out loud.

Than what does it make you? An ignoramus?

Stehly gets support for Parks Districting legislation from Minneapolis

I still am not sure how the 1st reading will go tonight on the Parks Districting ordinance, but this letter of support from Minneapolis certainly doesn’t hurt Stehly’s cause;

                                                                                                July 31, 2017

Dear Theresa,

Thank you for reaching out to inquire about the representative structure of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB). We have nine (9) elected officials who represent the city with three (3) of those elected at large and six (6) elected to represent districts within the city.

As President of the MPRB, I believe that this representative make-up of our board allows us to advocate equally and fully for all areas of our diverse city. When covering a specific geographic area, the ability to focus on that area provides the elected official an opportunity to know in depth the issues that are unique to that region of the city.  When you live in a community and have a vested interest in the outcome of the overall results, you tend to advocate more strongly for it.  That increased advocacy is not a matter of excluding others, but the fact is that it is just easier to advocate for something when it is more familiar.

Parks are a very democratic and equalizing part of our public commonwealth. Remembering back to the Commons in Boston, parks should be places for everyone.  They can provide a place for children to play or residents to recreate without regard to socioeconomic status, race, color, creed or any other factor.  And to ensure that parks are for everyone, it is essential to hear the voices of all areas.  This is the essential reason to have a representative government for our park needs.

As a board, we keep our eye on the “big picture” by including the voices of our threes (3) at-large commissioners whose focus is on the city as a whole. Rather than concentrating on projects that would affect a neighborhood only, such as a local playground, they would tend to be involved in projects that affect the entire city, such as the park projects along the Mississippi River that are enjoyed by the entire city or a city-wide, fully accessible playground.

As an aside, our School Board recently moved from a fully elected at-large board to a board with a mix of district and at-large representation to ensure that the varied city interests are equally represented.

Let me know if you need further information and thank you for your interest.

Anita Tabb

As Ms. Tabb points out,

“Parks are a very democratic and equalizing part of our public commonwealth.”

So why wouldn’t we want EQUAL representation on this board?

The mayor says that the current board is NOT broken, but his resistance proves that it most certainly is.

City owned Golf Course leases up for Bid

I’m not sure how long Dakota Golf Management has had the lease on the city courses, but I’m pretty sure it’s been for over 40 years. Is this going to change?

The City of Sioux Falls, SD, requests proposals for the Lease or Management of the Sioux Falls Municipal Golf Courses.

I know that Great Life has sparked interest in this lease and will probably bid on it. It will be interesting to see if this plays out like the Paramedics Plus contract did.

Mayor Huether weighs in on the Garth shows

Mike was on his favorite softball throwing show, B-N-B this morning. Besides weighing in on Garth (we will get to that shortly) he got some other things out of his craw.

Besides saying he will cut subsidies to non-profits (still waiting for him to return the $500K from a tennis center he named after himself) he talked about the districting of the Parks Board.

He said that the current board is not broken. I think most would agree, that is why Stehly’s proposed legislation wouldn’t eliminate any of the current members, this is about moving forward in a growing diverse community.

He said while he understood we need laws and regulations he sometimes feels like there are ‘too many’ and he thinks this change is an unneeded regulation. So I guess when it comes to smoking outdoors, long grass, trimming the city trees, etc. those are worthwhile regulations? Why? Because they keep the minions inline, but when we want to regulate the ruling class, there seems to be too many rules. Admit it Mike, you love the status quo when it protects you and your ruling class, but when it comes to the peasants, RULES, RULES, RULES! Heck, your biggest fan, Joe Kirby was on the Good Ship Lalley Pop show yesterday bragging about how well the home rule charter (he helped create) is working and said Mike was doing a fabulous job as our city’s King.

Mike also weighed in on Garth Brooks.

Some say that I need to get over the EC being passed and deal with it. Oh, I have, but I also feel we can DO BETTER when it comes to the way the building is run, and it would take very minor adjustments to make the building more profitable and make access to affordable tickets to Sioux Falls citizens and others in the region.

Ironically, the mayor points out some of these simple solutions in his interview this morning.

He said he was ‘impressed’ with how Brooks handles his ticket sales, especially with the controls he has in place to make sure his fans get tickets without being gouged.

I would agree, so why doesn’t the mayor’s office and the city council pass ordinances to put those controls in place for all ticket sales? Many other municipalities across the country have done just that. It’s not like the Mayor and Council are not aware of the problems. Citizens have been begging since the place opened to put some regulations in place to make tickets more available locally without being subjected to ticket brokers outrageous prices. Sit down with Ticketmaster and the Brooks camp and ask them how they do it, and duplicate some of those procedures in Sioux Falls. Want to add something positive to your legacy before leaving office? Here is your opportunity.

Huether also made the claim that probably over half of the people who attend events at the EC are from out of town. The problem with this claim is that there is no statistical way to prove this claim. As I mentioned above, with the interference of ticket brokers, we have NO idea who is purchasing tickets locally. A ticket broker in Kansas City, for example could buy 20 tickets and turn around and sell those tickets to people all over the region including in Sioux Falls. If we put more controls on purchases we would know who is purchasing the tickets and if they are attending. We could also be promoting our own shows which not only would give us more control of ticket sales it would give the taxpayers a bigger cut of the profits. It’s not some new concept in Sioux Falls. The Pavilion promotes a ton of it’s own events and controls their ticket sales. Rumor has it, that the city gave a short term loan last year to the Pavilion to promote a kid’s musical that did five shows. It’s doable, we would just do it on a larger scale at the EC.

He also talked about the economic impact of Garth’s seven shows (and counting) which I don’t deny, but you also have to take into account that the EC will be closed for 3 months over the summer (A quarter of the year). How many sold out shows could we have had over that 3 month period? Seven? Ten? We will never know. IMO, we will just be playing catch-up with the Garth shows for the 3 months we were closed. The lights and full time staff still have to be paid whether the facility is being used or not, those operational costs have to be absorbed somewhere.

I hope the mayor listens to the replay of his interview today and really thinks about some of the POSITIVE changes we could make to the EC to make it truly a great and profitable facility (for the city NOT just SMG).

Sioux Falls Parks Board Oblivious to the intention of the Districting Ordinance

Besides Stehly, many of the public in attendance gave several reasons why this legislation is a good idea. Stehly even repeated herself several times to the board that this is NOT ABOUT THE CURRENT BOARD or their performance this is about the future growth of the city.

They didn’t get it. At all. Straight over their heads.

When it was time for them to testify as to why they were opposed to the legislation, I waited in anticipation to hear something NEW as to why they may be against it besides the fact that they think it would hurt diversity. So what was the resounding argument from board members?

Why you picking on me?

They repeatly made it sound like this was attack on them, their volunteer service and their stellar qualifications. Just like the video recording ordinance, the board was quick to say they are personally being challenged.

• None of them are mentioned in the ordinance change.

• None of them would lose their seats.

• Professional or Personal qualifications are not mentioned in ordinance change.

There is only one change in the ordinance; FUTURE members going forward through 2024 will have to represent a geographical area.

Does that seem like a personal attack on current members? Not at all. No one today testifying said the board wasn’t doing their job. It just seems like their lilly-white positions are being threatened and they don’t like it. Like the group-thinkers they are, they all pulled out their rubber stamps and voted against Stehly’s proposal. Doesn’t matter though, she will still bring it forward in August, and if it fails she will bring it again next Spring when the new mayor and council are in office. It’s not going away.