Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls' ↓
BY Patrick Warren, Edited by Scott L. Ehrisman
I wrote an article over a year ago that was finally published in Firehouse Magazine this month. It’s taken them so long to publish that it could be considered old news now:
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 city attorney wants to revisit the ordinance;
City attorneys plan to retract and revise a proposal to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of classes protected by the city’s anti-discrimination rules.
The City Attorney’s Office unveiled a proposal earlier this year that would put in writing that private employers, landlords and business owners can’t discriminate against someone for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Councilor Greg Neitzert this week called the proposal “an outrageous infringement on religious freedom” and wanted to know how it would affect private businesses’ bathroom policies. The proposal’s authors now say they want more time to tighten the language.
While Greg may have a point, I see all kinds of other issues with this besides bathrooms and churches. The rumor circling in the halls of city hall is that the city could be eligible for more HUD money if they change the ordinance. Are the consequences of hundreds of lawsuits worth it? And what kind of money are we talking about? As I said before, as the city’s public policy it is a good idea, forcing it onto private employers (especially landlords) could be problematic and may even be a violation of individual constitutional rights. You can’t change your race or gender (very easily anyway) and those are examples of a protected class, it’s easy to tell if they are being discriminated against. Transgender may be more difficult to police and control and as someone said to me the other day, “Kind of looks like a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Councilors expect to revisit the issue sooner rather than later, and some are more eager than others. Councilor Michelle Erpenbach said she hopes to see it reintroduced in quick fashion.
“I can’t figure out what you’re going to do to tighten the language because we have to use the words ‘sexual orientation and gender identity,’” she said. “We need it to pass in the most comfortable way possible. But it’s something we absolutely need to pass.”
Comfortable way? There is no comfortable way. I am more in favor of educating the public about the issue before passing more regulations on private industry. When people don’t understand something, their knee jerk reaction is think it is bad, and when you start regulating private citizens to do something they appear as bad, you have not done a very good job of educating them. That’s why it took several years for gay marriage to pass, people first needed to understand it.
I think if the city thinks this is an important thing to pass besides getting more money from the FEDs for housing, then it should go to a public vote. Asking 8-9 individuals to pass such sweeping legislation is unfair.
I also think this is a Red Herring to separate out the conservative councilors, and make them look anti-equality, which couldn’t be further from the truth. If I was on the council, I would excuse myself and refuse to vote on it based on the fact I may be bias because I have gay friends.
A few months ago I posed the question of what the city would do with the ice center. I even suggested if they don’t sell it, they could use it for a new city services building, or even better yet, team up with Lincoln & Minnehaha county to offer services.
At the time a city councilor told me that the city wants to sit on it until they run 49th street straight through to Western Avenue, then sell it for development.
Not such a bad idea, but in the same breath, this person told me that the Glory House was interested in expansion and wanted to purchase the property.
I think that would be a fantastic use for the land. Besides, the Glory House isn’t going anywhere, so why not expand at that location? I guess the city has refused sale to them. Seems puzzling that the city has no problem with the expansion of the Arch in a residential neighborhood and the same with a homeless shelter, but a facility that is not very close to residential housing and helps ex convicts back on their feet the city would refuse. Hopefully the council can put pressure on to help this sale go through.
Parking is NOT an issue?
Recently a Spellerberg neighborhood resident when to an open house at the new Aquatic center, they asked what was going to be done to the open ball field area. They were told the parks department was going to try to budget for expanded parking in that area. If this conversation took place and is true, this goes against what was promised with the green space left at Spellerberg. But no surprise with the chain of lies that has come with building this facility. This place will be more cursed than King Tut’s Tomb.
Bring on the Trailer (Foundation) Parks!
There has been a lot of talk about affordable housing in Sioux Falls lately. I have told people if we don’t start tackling the problem aggressively right now, we will be in a crisis mode in 4-5 years. Even with rumors the only reason the city is changing the discrimination laws when it comes to housing is to get more HUD money, one wonder what are plans are?
Foundation Park wants to bring in 40,000 workers. Where will they come from? Where will they live? While we hope these will be all living wage jobs, we know that living wage housing will be cramped. That only leaves us with building enormous apartment complexes, twin homes and more trailer parks. While Foundation Park is a great idea, there doesn’t seem to be much thought going into housing for the workers.
Sometimes I just shake my head when government, whether that is National, State or Local, fiddle around with emotional topics that have nothing to do with what is on hand.
Our Mayor and City council have barked about workforce development for years now, so what major steps have they made? We got a fancy website and some billboards of our mayor in Minneapolis, oh, and we are considering an ordinance to not to discriminate against transgender peeps.
Hey, as short, fat German, I can tell you all about discrimination. It happens. I will also say I voted for and support city policy when it comes to public employees not being discriminated against when it comes to sex identification. When dealing with public employees and tax money, it can be a very sticky situation. The voters, city attorney’s office and the charter revision commission made the right decision.
As for the part that was withdrawn this week, not sure we need to step off that ledge (forcing the policy onto private employers and landlords). First off, we are a right to work state, I see some interference with those laws. I also see issues with housing*.
Whatever happened to not hiring someone because they aren’t qualified? Is that discrimination? I just see a huge can of worms we are opening by adding another layer of EOC regs with private employers. The worst part is that it may not hold up in court since this is just simply a city ordinance and not state law or federal law. And at the end of the day, are we really making employment better in Sioux Falls?
No matter how you feel about the debate, I ponder the bigger question? What are our local leaders doing to actually get good employment for our residents no matter their race, gender or sexual orientation? I could care less about religious freedom, bathroom freedom and sexual freedom.
This is a job or career, not a reality TV show.
What are our city leaders doing about female pay lagging male pay? Or management promotions? How about the minimum wage? Want to present real change through city charter and ordinance? Make employers pay a $10 minimum wage within the city limit. Require all new businesses that come to Sioux Falls to sign a promise that they will pay a living wage of at least $16 an hour for full-time work. Require employers to have a portion of their staff to be full time.
I could care less where you pee, who you sleep with, or what you choose to wear for clothing. Free country, free expression. We can have the church/bathroom/transgender debate discussion all we want, but let’s face it Sioux Falls, the real discrimination in our town is WAGE discrimination.
I ask our city council and mayor, what do you plan to do about it?
*The rumor going around is that the city was promised more HUD/Federal monies if they implemented a city ordinance to not to discriminate against LGBT peeps/transgender.
In one of his last decisions as community development director, he chose to use common sense;
May 26, 2016: Smith, in what’s likely to be his last press conference as Community Development director, says city will not build a standalone ramp and instead will look for new partners to move forward with mixed-use parking facility.
Not only was it obvious to NOT build a standalone structure, I don’t think the administration had the votes on the council to get a standalone passed and built, especially with the current discussion about the new administration building.
At least Smith goes out on a good note.
I hate to say it, but even with appeals, we probably don’t have a very good chance of seeing the settlement;
Argus Leader Media president Bill Albrecht wouldn’t rule out an appeal of Pekas’ decision, which he called disappointing while remaining steadfast that open record laws were violated when the city denied Argus Leader Media’s record request.
“We believe the public has the right to know what caused this million dollar transaction. It is a million dollars. Regardless if it is money spent by the city government, or money received by the city government, it is the public’s money and public needs – and has the right to know – the details,” Albrecht said. “The confidentially agreement was made outside of a lawsuit which does not garner it protection based on our interpretation of the statute.”
South Dakota Newspaper Association president Jeremy Waltner said regardless of the ruling, the city’s insistence that settlement details remain seals only keeps the door open to perceptions of impropriety among those involved in the event center construction, including the city government. Furthermore, Pekas ruling essentially says any government entity can contract through secrecy, he said.
“Whether it’s legal or not legal … all of that legal speak aside, the city should release the information. They should not hide behind this because all it’s doing is raising more questions,” Waltner said.
I think even if the Supreme Court were to rule in favor of the Argus, we could see a long challenge from the city. Not only that, there could be a significant white washing before the documents are handed over. Also, key players like city attorney Fiddle Faddle and Mayor Huether will be long gone.
I really think the Argus and the rest of the media in Sioux Falls missed the boat a long time ago when this was first brought to light (the siding issue) and when the consultant’s report hit the shredder. I think that report NOT being released was really the most damaging part of this whole deal. I think it was the key piece of evidence that the siding job was a pure sh*t show from the beginning.
Here is what we have speculated through this process from talking to contractors and engineers close to the project;
The original design was not used. If you look at early architectural drawings (above image), there were supposed to be large flat rectangular panels applied (about 8 x 16 Foot) giving the building an almost hexagonal look, and avoiding any unneeded bending of metal. It was dumped to save money. Several numbers have been thrown out there, anywhere from $1.5-3 million was saved. But saved for what? The rumor is to repair ‘other’ constingency problems in the building.
A couple of contractors who worked on the EC but did NOT apply the siding were pulled into the lawsuit. This is a real mystery to everyone, even the contractors. While there may have been some issues with the work they were doing in other parts of the building, they had nothing to do with the siding. Some may say it was punishment for agreeing to NOT do the work.
This isn’t cosmetic, something I think they are also covering up. It doesn’t take an engineer to tell you something has major holes in it. Just walk up to the building and see for yourself.
We think the consultant’s report was FULL of recommendations on how to fix the siding, but we also think once a price tag was put on the fix, they bailed.
The one million dollar settlement WAS NOT cash or transferred monies, it was a discount from Mortenson on the building. It would be like purchasing a $25 steak that was cooked wrong and the restaurant giving you a $26 coupon.
The irony is, even if all the speculation is correct, if the city was just honest from the beginning, I think most people would have forgiven and forgotten about the siding. But you know what they say about how many lies it takes to cover one lie.
Cameraman Bruce and the peeps say “Thank you Michelle!” Rex just doesn’t understand what Open Meetings are and why. Get over it Rex.
Cameraman Bruce showed up to the publicly noticed informal get acquainted council dinner at the District on May 24, 2016. Rex Rolfing was not happy and quickly showed it. Greeting Bruce with “No Bruce, not tonight!”
Well Rex, it is a legal open meeting he showed up, deal with it.
“Enough monkeying around folks, we are gonna fix these dang crappy roads with the day god gave us.”
When I first started watching this interview(?) I had to make a double take to make sure I wasn’t watching Reid Holsen interviewing Mike on CityLink and not Matt Holsen on Stormland TV. It was sure nice of Matt to allow the mayor to drive him around and pretty much write the story for him. I wonder if Matt also let Mike edit the video. Great piece of journalism, maybe Randell Beck will award you a Pulitzer? Probably not, but, I see Green Bay Packer tickets in your future (or maybe the mayor will buy you a Coors Light at the company Christmas party).
Enough of that.
Doesn’t anyone else find it a bit ironic that shortly after a municipal election where the winning candidates talked about fixing our roads, the mayor has a change of heart (he also changed the name of the Administration Building to the Public Services Building). Maybe he could sell sponsorships to the place? I think the Darrin Smith Commemorative Building has a nice ring to it, after all, the first phase of construction will leave half the building unfinished, seems fitting.
So after spending a lion’s share of the 2nd penny kitty on play things and fun houses the mayor is all of sudden concerned about our roads. Awww. It really warms a heart.
“That’s how I’m going out the final two and that is repairing and rebuilding and replacing this infrastructure and yeah including some of the bumpy roads in our town,” Huether said.
That should have been your priority when you were sworn in to begin with. With dwindling tax revenue over the next two years and bond payments coming from the 2nd penny like a payment on a sub-prime credit card, just how much can you spend on roads? No worries though, Infrastructure Mike has it handled with his personal press secretary Matt Holsen and Stormland TV.
Do we need an new city of Sioux Falls Administration (or as the mayor is now calling it, the Public Services) building? Several members of the new City Council are keeping their promises to do something about it. On May 24, 2016 the Open Discussion portion of their Informational Meeting showed Greg Neitzert and Theresa Stehly taking the leadership roles in moving the process along.