Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls' ↓

It only took 14 years, but the audit committee is finally talking about the Phillips to the Falls fiasco

Funny how these things work? Councilor Kavanaugh was going to file charges against Mayor Munson for violating ordinance and state law for the cost overruns on Phillips to the Falls, but somehow those intentions mysteriously disappeared and Munson successfully ran for a 2nd term.

Now the Audit committee brings it up;

Read the whole thing here (Interesting we spent over $10 million to date on Phillips to the Falls): Audit-history

Not only was there internal city violations, we sat on the property for over 10 years basically holding it for a private developer without any good faith money, than we handed them TIFs. Funny how none of this was brought up when the developer was asking for the TIFs and the council approved them. But hey, we got some FREE dirt for the Levitt.

Also, and something I have known about for awhile, they are bringing back the former auditor Rich Oskol as an independent contractor (I assume) until a new auditor can be hired. Essentially double dipping (getting a city pension). Would be curious what we are paying him. They did the same thing in the city attorney’s office with a former city attorney that was retired to fill in until Stacy Koistra was hired. I don’t understand why the assistant auditors can’t handle the workload until a replacement is hired. That is how it is handled in the private sector, but hey, why am I bitching? I always say we can’t run government like private business 🙂

SFSD claims they only basically spent $7,000 on election

Just when you thought the 85% passage of the bond was a little questionable, the zingers keep coming from the district, this one is golden;

And the district used a new, computerized voter check-in system to verify registered voters and poll books throughout the day, which cost about $38,000 from a vendor called Everyone Counts. It was included in the overall $45,000 price of the election, Konrad said.

So what Konrad is basically saying is that after purchasing software for the E-Poll books from Everyone Counts, they only spent $7,000 on everything else. What is everything else?

  • Printing Ballots
  • Paying poll workers not just for the day of the election but training
  • Transporting Ballots
  • Rental fees associated with voting centers
  • Office supplies needed to run election

Either Konrad got the math wrong or they dipped into regular school budget, but there is NO way in Heckluva they ran an election, even with 13 precincts for $7,000.

Besides the supposed thrifty nature of the SFSD (they should really do seminars on how to save so much money running an election) they didn’t seem to think poll watchers were needed;

Poll watchers were the responsibility of the campaign parties if the district wasn’t going to employ them, but no one checked in at any voting location to say they were poll watchers on Election Day, district spokeswoman DeeAnn Konrad said.

Why on earth would the political parties send in poll watchers for a BOND (non-partisan) election?! YES, it was your responsibility to put a call out to the political parties to bring in these volunteers (paid or otherwise). Baffling.

We didn’t have any issues with it being hand counted (though machine tabulation would have been better) We have an issue with WHO counted it;

As far as district employees counting ballots goes, district spokeswoman and ballot counter Carly Uthe, acknowledged most counters were tied to the district with few volunteers.

Uthe also said each counter was required to go through training beforehand and to sign an oath ahead of time, swearing counters and election officials would abide by election laws.

Konrad presented copies of the signed oaths to the Argus Leader on Wednesday.

“The oath says,’I will abide by the Constitution of the United States,” Konrad said. “There’s no wiggle room there.”

It would have looked WAY more ethical if you would have used volunteers. Not sure what swearing on the US Constitution has to do with counting ballots, I guess I missed that part in Civics class. But even if they used district employees to count the ballots, it was the final step that concerned us. From watching Mallory’s video, it looks to me that after a stack is counted that number is written down on a piece of paper and given to 2 SFSD district administrators, Morrison and Kreiter. Were these pieces of paper saved so they could be audited?

Ultimately, there isn’t much legally we can do to investigate how they ran the election. They did follow state law(s). But if the SFSD really wants to put this to bed, they would allow an independent group to examine the ballots and recount them. It also would be helpful to get a demonstration on how the software worked. Until this election can be properly audited, any excuses the SFSD has doesn’t mean a hill of beans.

Thank you Mayor TenHaken for not talking about the golf tournament

If there is one thing I do appreciate about Paul, it is his modesty. Even a guy who is really into sports hasn’t graced our TV screens about the big event. Can you imagine what our former mayor would have been doing and saying? He even held a press conference once about the PBR event (with his cowboy hat on backwards).

Our local TV media has gone bonkers. KDLT has had the least amount of stories even with a former NCAA golfer as an anchor (maybe they are not getting the Sanford ad dough?) But KSFY and Stormland TV have been over the top.

Is it newsworthy? Sure. But not only do they do stories about the tournament but they tie in other stories like pheasant hunting, weather, cooking, parking and on and on. I’m surprised they didn’t tie the recent homicide to a story about the tournament.

And the ironic part is the tournament hasn’t even started yet.

Is Sioux Falls that boring that the only story is a golf tournament? Notice how there hasn’t been a peep about the ridiculous 85% passage of the school bond. NO ONE is investigating. I guess golf is more important than fair elections.

Let’s face it, I know I have been rebuffed by people that the newsroom and salesroom don’t talk to each other, but I can’t even imagine the amount of money pumped into the TV stations over this golf tournament. It’s sickening.

I also find it a little ironic that probably well over $10 million is being spent to bring this in to raise around $200K for a charity that is under the control of the tournament’s sponsor. Hmmm, wonder if they got some consulting from Hot Harley Nights? **SNARK**, **SNARK**

When you have to bring a helicopter ambulance on the course to dry it out, you have to start questioning our priorities in this community. Not just societal but within our health systems.

Pathetic.

Co-op Book Store to open in Hydra Beer Hall space Downtown

This is great news! Very excited about this! I’ve known Sion for awhile now he has been putting on readings at Monks and now they will have their own space. This is a great cultural addition to Downtown!

Full Circle Book Co-op literally has come full circle in its search for a location.

Starting Oct. 1, it will sublease Hydra Beer Hall at 125 W. 10th St. Hydra will focus on its brewery at 2425 S. Shirley Ave., move its downtown events there and expand its beer line.

That opened a door for the co-op, which was able to lease the space – the first location the owners had looked at in their search for a home last year.

“We were in the process of putting in an offer when Hydra beat us out,” co-owner Jason Kurtz said. “It was really fun to get into our original idea. The opportunity kind of fell in our laps, and we dug into it and took advantage.”

The store name is Full Circle because the idea is that writers can come in and hone their writing, learn about getting published and ultimately sell their work in the store. It also will carry used books along with a large selection of local and regionally published work.

“Essentially, it is based around a co-op concept where the community participates, and if they volunteer or pay- they will have input in our classes, can use the space for free or at a reduced price and get discounts on merchandise,” Kurtz said.

He and co-owner Sion Lidster are focused on raising funds to get started.

A Kickstarter campaign launched this week aims to raise $10,000 toward initial expenses. It’s more than 15 percent there with 28 days to go.

Is TJ Nelson Paul’s go to BS Artist?

There are a lot of FACTUAL arguments for and against using a public ambulance service. So let’s try to stick to those. Councilor Starr did;

And because in 2019 the city will begin a practice of allowing paramedics on the Sioux Falls Fire Rescue to perform advanced life support at emergency scenes, Starr said now is that time.

“All fire fighters are EMTs, and we have a large number of paramedics that we pay to train,” he said earlier this month. “I’d like to see them take on that role because I see ambulance service as a utility, and it shouldn’t be a for-profit business.”

But that didn’t stop Mayor TenHaken’s Deputy COS, TJ Nelson, from spinning the issue;

“This is really a philosophical discussion,” said T.J. Nelson, deputy chief of staff in the mayor’s office. “But it’s unrealistic to think the city could prop up a city-run ambulance in two years and that’s not something we’d even propose.”

Philosophical? Has Nelson been reading Plato? It is an easy discussion to have based on research that is already out there. This isn’t a conservative vs. liberal philosophies. This is an ambulance service. I do agree you would NOT be able to start one in two years, but a 4-5 year time frame would not be unreasonable.

But this statement is just flat out false;

But Nelson predicts that study would show an astronomical financial burden on Sioux Falls and its taxpayers should future city leaders want to do away with the for-profit model historically used here.

“That would be a huge lift, dozens of new FTEs and millions of dollars in capital just to lift that up. And we’re getting it all now for no cost,” he said referring to the staffing increases a change would require, the construction elements that would come with equipping fire halls with additional space to house ambulances and the liability that comes with providing ambulance service.

NO cost? Was that some kind of sick joke? Right now the SFFD is responding to emergency calls, in fact over 90% of fire calls are medical emergencies or similar events. They are ususally the first ones there before the ambulance. Our reimbursement for responding to these calls and essentially subsidizing Paramedics Plus is ZERO! With a Public Ambulance service we could contract a 3rd party to collect payments and work with insurance companies and medicare for a commission, we would receive the remainder. In other words we would be able to collect payments for service. Right now PP pays the city NOTHING for responding to these events. While initially the capital costs would be high, once the system is in place we would actually be taking in revenue from it. Just because it is PUBLIC doesn’t mean we cannot receive payments for the service.

As for having a consultant looking at options, Cameraman Bruce adds;

The use of J Fitch and Associates as our future ambulance consultant should be held in scorn. This is the operation caught in the middle of the federal probe of questionable practices. Paramedics Plus, it’s personnel and J. Fitch are partners in many operations and “clubs”. Any help from them would continue the wrongs we are experiencing.

It is time to explore a Public Ambulance service, but let’s do it in a HONEST and Transparent way.

 

 

Live from IPC as the results come in for Sioux Falls school bond election

Brady Mallory of KELOLAND News helped us see some interesting things in this short Facebook post he did on school bond election night September 18, 2018. Why are there no citizen observers watching over the counting and posting of election results?

Just remember the words of the despot: “I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this — who will count the votes, and how.” (The Memoirs of Stalin’s Former Secretary by Boris Bazhanov, published in 2002. Translated from the Russian, according to Bazhanov, was uttered in 1923 by Stalin in reference to a vote in the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.)

This election will be forever tainted by many levels of corrupt behavior.

So fire sprinklers in parking garages are useful

Call me a MORON, no really, please do. When they were planning the parking garage for Village on the River I questioned why it needed a sprinkler system, apparently they are useful;

The first arriving crew found a porta potty on fire 15 feet inside the first floor (Washington Square) garage entrance. The fire was under control by the building’s fire sprinkler system. The fire was extinguished within a couple minutes of crews being on scene. Additional fire crews checked the remaining parking area and found no fire extension. Residents were alerted by the fire alarm system and were moved to the adjacent city parking garage until the fire sprinkler and alarm systems were checked and controlled. All residents were allowed back in the building after about 15 minutes.

Of course it was a porta potty and NOT a car. Funny part is I saw those porta potties a few weeks ago when I parked in there and thought to myself, “Why is there porta potties in a parking garage?” I guess they won’t be there anymore.

I also found this part of the SFFD’s press release interesting;

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue responded with 5 fire trucks, 2 support vehicles, and 21 personnel. Sioux Falls Fire Rescue was assisted on scene by Metro Communications, Sioux Falls Police Department, and Washington Square management.

I’m sure because they thought the high rise with several million dollar condos was on fire, but it just turned out to be the shitt’r in the garage. They also left out this part on the press release;

Paramedics Plus showed up 2 hours later, didn’t see anything so drove off.

Just kidding.

UPDATE: 85% Passage of School Bond ‘Highly Questionable’

I will agree that the school bond would pass. There really wasn’t much opposition and with only the Argus and this blog giving voters ALL of the factual information. I don’t have an issue with the turnout (numbers) of 16,000 either. I figured it would be around that.

UPDATE: There is now a rumor going around that the SFSD is telling the media that Minnehaha County (auditor’s office) cancelled a contract with the SFSD to handle any of their elections. A county official told me tonight that NEVER came in front of the County Commission to review and I know that Litz said he was willing to run the school bond election if the SFSD asked him to. So who cancelled this supposed contract? Well, that would seem to be the SFSD. Also, as I understand it these ‘contracts’ are for EACH election when the election presents itself. In other words even if there was a contract, a NEW contract for the school bond issue could have been written up with the County Auditor’s office. I also know that Theresa Stehly had a one-on-one meeting asking, if not begging, the Superintendent to run this election through the Auditor’s office using all the precincts, absentee voting at the county admin building and machine tabulation and record keeping. It fell on deaf ears. So the bigger question is why would the SFSD now be starting this ‘rumor’? Are they trying to hide something? In my research there are no state laws barring the SFSD from handling their own election or using district employees to tabulate. It just doesn’t look good, at all.

But besides the stuff Bruce pointed out in his press release yesterday, I caught an interesting video on KELOLAND’s Facebook page of Brady Mallory. He was showing how volunteers were hand tabulating the votes. That seemed like a normal process except for all the SFSD administrators hovering over them (which some people complained about). But where it got even more suspicious was when Brady pointed to the TWO people who were entering the numbers into the computer (screenshot below – video coming soon) without independent oversight from volunteers watching to see if they are entering the numbers correctly.

A couple of foxes tabulating the Hen election

So who are these two? The Operations Manager for the SFSD, Jeff Kreiter and the Program Director for the SFSD, Doug Morrison. I’m certainly not accusing them of tampering with the vote, BUT, there certainly wasn’t anyone watching them to make sure they were doing it right. I spoke with Mallory this morning and he told me that he thought they were just entering the numbers for the website. So who was entering the numbers in the system?

Also, Bev Chase said on one of the TV stations last night that the ‘ballots will be destroyed after the election.’ while she is allowed to do that, she has to hold on them for 2 years before she does that in case there needs to be a review of the results.

This election should have been handled independently by the County Auditor or even City Clerk and tabulated by machine. At the very least it should have been monitored by Bob Litz or the SOS. There was NO independent review or watchful eyes.

Unfortunately in the past when we have had questions or complaints about elections we are told to ‘hire an attorney’. The SOS refuses to look into as well as the AG and the State’s attorney who has often used as an excuse “I have too many murder cases to worry about.” Even County Auditor Bob Litz has given up. The ACLU has also not bothered to look into it even though we warned them before the election that this was not on the up and up. I guess they are more concerned about bathrooms and abortion than they are about fair and balanced elections.

So why as a taxpayer should I have to hire a private attorney to investigate a government entity that I fund and an election that I fund? F’ing ludicrous.

Washington Pavilion President Darrin Smith openly laughs at Councilor Stehly’s questions

It was pretty pathetic to watch Darrin openly laugh at councilor Stehly when she was questioning him about a budget amendment for the Black History Museum. Once the video comes up you will see him. Sadly, Stehly couldn’t see this because she was tele conferencing due to family issues. It is incredibly disrespectful for anyone to laugh at the councilors when they are being questioned about budgets, it is even more egregious for a Director of a Facility that the city owns, subsidizes and maintains with our tax dollars to laugh at the very person who is allocating the money on behalf of the taxpayers. Darrin learned well with his brief stint in city government from one of the best. Avoid, confuse and embarrass your foes. Sad really. But I wouldn’t expect anything less from a guy who hired a cartoonist youth pastor to help run an arts facility.

Hospitals & T Denny Gave $75,000 to VOTE YES

So when your healthcare costs continue to rise, you wonder why Sanford and Avera gave this money? The corporation listed is owned by T Denny Sanford (Entire Doc: Campaign_Finance_Disclosure_Report)

I wish I would have gotten this up last week, but in the past I have had trouble finding the information online.

Even if there would have been an actual organized VOTE NO campaign, how do you compete with this kind of money? They raised over $105K and spent $66K. I found the expenditure for consulting interesting ($21K). Who was consulting this? Vernon Brown? Or did they hire someone?