Usually when I read the city council agenda I have a bit of concern, but David couldn’t resist to add a little humor into the agenda this week by putting in this paragraph (twice). I wonder if he also made eight metal disclaimer signs the city councilors could put on their vehicles?
Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls' ↓
So last week we had some hay about increasing the price of the indoor pool $4 million, and rightfully so, so this week we decide to throw an important street project, valued at almost $9 million in the consent agenda? Huh? (Item #1)
Hey, I’m all for spending money on streets AND this might have already been budgeted, but could we at least pull this item out of the toilet paper and paper clip funding agenda so we can have some discussion and explanation for what we are going to be doing for 24 city blocks!?
Nothing stands to ruin an organization’s spirit and sense of group pride quicker than an acrimonious debate. When debate gets heated and personal, good members quit, and the antagonists generally don’t have what it takes to keep the organization going.
Nobody likes acrimony, and nothing need keep you from having a spirited debate while still keeping discussion focused on the issues. The following list contains some points to keep in mind when the soup gets thick at meetings where you talk about a dues increase or what to do with a budget surplus:
Listen to the other side. You expect the presiding officer to protect your right to speak even if it turns out that you’re a minority of one. You also expect the other members to hear you out and to allow you the same time as everybody else to get in your two cents’ worth. Give your fellow members their rightful turn. Listen to them — you may hear something that affects the way you think.
Focus on issues, not personalities. It’s best to just stick to the issues. You may disagree with the point, but you won’t feel personally attacked if everyone sticks to the issues.
Avoid questioning motives. It’s not a good idea to say, “Mr. Chairman, the dweeb who just spoke is obviously trying to raise the salary of the executive director because he wants to get the director fired and hire his own brother-in-law.”
The dweeb may, in fact, be glad to see the director go, and he may indeed be working to set up a raise for the next employee, hoping it’s his brother-in-law. But when you’re in the meeting, express your opinion based on the proposal’s merits. Try saying, “Raising the salary of the executive director is unwise at this time because we haven’t yet completed the assessment of a performance review.”
Address remarks through the chair. One of the ways things can deteriorate quickly is by forgetting the rule that requires you to address the chair, not a member directly, during debate.
Use titles, not names. Things are more likely to stay impersonal if you avoid using names during debate. Refer to “the secretary” instead of “George.” Refer to “The member who offered the motion” rather than “Myrtle.” It feels a bit formal, but the idea is to keep the focus on issues, not individuals.
Be polite. Don’t get the floor and start reading some paper, don’t argue with the presiding officer except by legitimate appeal, and don’t do anything that otherwise disturbs the assembly.
January 28th, 2015 — Sioux Falls
Okay, when I decided to do this, I figured I would mull over my list for a couple of days. Five minutes later, I had it. There are great things happening in this community, no doubt, that go under the radar. Some of them happen because of government and the media, some happen because of citizens. This is my humble attempt at putting ten gold stars on our community.
1. South DaCola adds video. Okay, why wouldn’t I pull a ‘Huether’ and pat myself on the back? But I really have to hand it to my camera man ‘—–‘ who has been diligent in following around our city government when our conventional media has not. I have enjoyed many positive comments about the videos, and I think it has lead to others getting more involved with informing themselves about local government.
2. Snowgates get approved. This was a no-brainer from the beginning. As I have said, this isn’t a NEW public service, this is just making one that already exists better (snow removal). I will give props to the public works and street department for taking the brunt of the learning curve. Keep at it! It will only get better.
3. Bicycle awareness takes center stage. While somebody dying in a traffic accident is never a good thing, it has catapulted the conversation about drivers versus pedestrians and bicyclists. Let’s continue the conversation and turn these tragedies into a positives.
4. Our bike trail and parks system is world class. I am often amazed at how blessed we are, with all of the things we could have done wrong in this city, we nailed it with the bike trail. It really is the gem of this city.
5. Beating city hall. More and more citizens are beating the city’s crack legal team in litigation. While this may not be a positive for them, it is a positive for the citizens who have been wronged by city employees and politicians who seek vengeance. We could have a very long conversation about ‘good neighbors’ but let’s face it, the constitution of the United States is in place to protect our property and civil rights, I just don’t think the message has permeated the city attorney’s office yet. Keep up the good fight.
6. Unemployment is at an all time low. This could help drive up wages, training and other opportunities.
7. The roads in Sioux Falls are getting better. I’m not saying they are pristine, but I have lived here since 1991, and have to attest, they are the best I have ever seen them. Now if we could only teach people how to drive on them.
8. Downtown is flourishing. I have been a ‘downtowner’ since I moved here, and I have to admit, it is still the best place to eat, view art and a band anywhere in the city. I attribute this not only to organizations or city government but to the hardworking business owners, their employees (many of them are close friends) and patrons. As I often joke with my friends, “Anywhere else in Sioux Falls besides Downtown is outer space to me.”
9. Southside Walmart may be defeated, or at least scaled back. Time will tell, but an amazing group of citizen advocates may have finally put the final nail in this coffin. We need four Walmarts in Town like we need another video lottery casino or pay day lender . . . wait.
10. The Argus Leader grows a sack. I will have to admit, I actually read the paper front to back these days, I have been impressed with the scaled back leaner version (staff), and the surprises from veterans like Ellis, and the re-shuffled like Whitney and Young. Not that they have competition, the other media sources in town are busy attending Christmas parties and NFL games with our mayor, and less concerned about delivering news. But hey, it might snow tomorrow.
January 28th, 2015 — Sioux Falls
I won’t comment on any of these, okay, maybe I will. In summary I will say that some of these are great accomplishments (that already happened a few years ago), some of them are stalemate, some are flat out false, and some are just fluff, smoke and mirrors.
- Our new Events Center rocks! The Denny Sanford PREMIER Center opened on time, under budget, pumps out cash, and (yes) has plenty of parking.
- Sioux Falls citizens want progress, and the April 8 election proved it! Sioux Falls residents overwhelmingly supported the indoor aquatic center at Spellerberg Park, the Shape Places Zoning Ordinance, commercial zoning at 85th Street and Minnesota Avenue, snow gates, and public servants who get things done.
- It’s the economy, and oh my, ours is booming! In Sioux Falls, good jobs are everywhere, there is record-breaking construction again, our piggybank is fatter, sales tax revenues are sky-high, and in the north, south, east, west, and downtown, our residents are living, working, playing, and thriving.
- City government is being run like a business, including implementing innovative and long-overdue technology systems like the EnerGov land management system, the Munis payroll system, and a new public computer reservation and printing system at Siouxland Libraries.
- One of the best community health providers in the nation is in Sioux Falls, and America knows it. Falls Community Health is now directed in-house by City employee caregivers and leadership and has received Patient-Centered Medical Home Level 3 recognition. The Health Department also provided strong leadership and due diligence in our search for an ambulance service provider.
- The City of Sioux Falls streamlined our approach to Code Enforcement. Being a good and responsible neighbor is a big deal here!
- More needs to be done, but Public Transportation is more sustainable due to tough decisions being made. Demand has never been higher, but reality is that it is extremely expensive. This city is not shying away from the challenge.
- Railyard relocation in Downtown Sioux Falls moves one major step forward. The independent appraisal is done so negotiations between BNSF and the City of Sioux Falls can begin to capture almost ten acres of land in the heart of our city.
- The City’s Legal Team has never been stronger. These public servants are defenders of progress and liberty and are saving Sioux Falls taxpayers millions.
- Sioux Falls homes and businesses are now protected from a 100-year flood event. The flood control system is complete and accredited and long-awaited development opportunities are on the horizon.
1) I have actually heard positive things about the parking at the EC. Many have said to me there isn’t any hassles. And I will agree that it is generating cash flow, to be expected from a new facility, and dare I say, needed. But getting the place done on time and on budget has caused many problems (some we can see like the bad siding and cracked floors) some we cannot, time will only tell how these problems are solved. Also, the ticketing procedures need to be fixed, because lets face it, we cannot continue down the path we have been going so far, and management telling us that ‘there is nothing they can do’ is hogwash. Our council can take action, and pass some simple ordinances to make tickets more available and affordable to the public. But that would require them to ‘do something’.
2) I will agree, I was shocked by the results of the election, but I am not all the way sold that it went off without a hitch. There was too many irregularities (like the undervotes, confusing ballot language, advocational presentations, super precincts and the mayor winning all the precincts except one). There were issues, and I hope the county election review commission digs into this a little and gives us some insight. We may not be able to change the results of the election, but we can do better in the future.
3) The low unemployment is a good thing, and I think eventually it will help to raise wages in Sioux Falls when employers run out of other options. Because while business is doing well in Sioux Falls, pay inequality is rampid, don’t believe me, just ask one of the parents who have kids attending our schools and the almost half that are getting free and reduced lunches, or our expanding food banks and homeless shelters.
4) I will give props to our libraries, they haven’t been run better in years, and they are a fantastic resource for our community, recently adding education programs free of charge. I will also commend the city on being more efficient with managing software, but we have a long way to go with efficiency. I wouldn’t be so quick though to attribute this to running the city like a business. Businesses are set up to make a profit, government is set up to provide us services. Besides, many of these updated programs were in the process of transition before our current mayor was even in office, much like the success of Downtown. We must become more transparent with the public, or at least fill our councilors in on what is going on at city hall, this should be Job #1 of government.
5) Bravo to the community health center for this accomplishment. I would even go as far as saying this should be #1 on this list. This is one thing good local governments do for their citizens, provide affordable healthcare to those who need it. But throwing in the ambulance service to this accomplishment is a bit premature. This will end up in court, most likely.
6) When they talk about streamlining it, do they mean changing the rules in the middle of the game to exempt the city from the same rules we have to abide by? Our code enforcement office main duty right now is vengence. It needs to be dismantled, or better yet, our city council needs to take a hard look at all of the codes on the books and start to take an axe to some of them. Some people in the attorney’s office and code enforcement office also need to receive pink slips. If we really want to say code enforcement is a success we should design it around citizen customer service instead of vendetta. We need to work with our neighbors, not punish them. The irony is that this approach would save the taxpayers of this city millions in legal fees.
7) Cutting paratransit was a knife in the back of many hardworking people in our community with disabilities. I would go even farther and say it was one of the most gutless things I have seen our municipal government do in years. It was dispicable and surely not deserving of a win. The irony of it is that it will have a much larger economic impact on our community when these people don’t have means to get to work, larger then any money we are saving by cutting the program. It certainly doesn’t take a visionary to see that, but it does require having a heart . . .
8) A project cloaked in secrecy and controversy. But hey, we are getting it done, we just can’t tell you how. Little does the public know that behind the scenes a chess game is being played with all the property adjacent to tracks and the discussion surrounds reversion (the rumor is the railroads have a federal easement, they don’t really OWN anything). I have a feeling this one won’t be on the list next year, or the year after that.
9) I almost fell out of my chair laughing when I heard the mayor recite this one (I might have even shed a tear). The fact is the city attorney’s office is not doing their jobs (defending the city charter, State Constitution and US Constitution). That is the main duty of our legal team, not acting as personal attorneys to certain politicians. As for saving us money, that couldn’t be farther from the truth, they are attempting to prosecute the innocent, and losing in court, quite frequently. Do you think there is NO charge when you lose in court, quite the contrary. Just look at the EC siding debacle, that is going to end up costing us a lot of money, win or lose, because someone made a stupid decision in the name of value.
10) While it is a great accomplishment, the levees were completed years ago, this is an old news story. The only thing keeping this afloat is that FEMA is finally changing the mapping. The irony, while it is great we got paid back for our expense for building the levees, we are disguising the money as ‘cash’ and spending it on entertainment (on a rust free indoor pool
As you can see, this list contains many positive things, but citizens must always be vigilant and peel back the layers. Sometimes that takes a sharp scalpel, but today, it simply took a really big scoop shovel.
Stay tuned for South DaCola’s top 10 wins of 2014.
“Anyone entrusted with power will abuse it if not also animated with the love of truth and virtue no matter whether he be a prince, or one of the people.” Jean De La Fontaine
City Hall, City Directors, City Councilors and certain people in the media seem to be parroting the half-truths about the indoor pool, and they are spreading like wild fire and it hasn’t even been 24 hours since the aquatic update.
FICTION: The city continues to tell us this is being paid for with ‘CASH’ on hand.
FACT: We are using money from a repayment from the Feds on a bond we took out for levees. We will still have to pay back this bond in a few years. So while we may have ‘cash’ on hand from the repayment, we are using ‘borrowed’ money to pay for the pool. Ironically there was a story in the Argus today about those bonds and levees, just no mention of the indoor pool.
FICTION: The city says the increase in price is due to adding a therapy pool and larger recreational pool from the original drawings.
FACT: The therapy pool was in the original drawings, and the rec pool is the same size, but what HAS changed is that the slides, current pool and outdoor patio have been scaled back.
FICTION: There has been a ‘slight’ increase in price.
FACT: An almost 17% increase in the price of the facility isn’t a slight increase on a multi-million dollar project, it is substantial.
FICTION: The project manager tells us the cost estimates were off before the vote because they just didn’t have the projections.
FACT: The city spent $46,000 on architectural drawings before the election to help project the cost. The drawings may have also been a violation of state law by presenting advocational presentations that swayed the vote.
FICTION: People voted for an indoor pool by voting against the outdoor pool. This statement was made by the city’s finance director and the Argus today.
FACT: There was no ‘indoor pool’ on the ballot.
FICTION: The quit claim deed doesn’t matter.
FACT: We are not sure if it does or not, because the city has made zero attempt to get a MOU from the VA about building the new indoor pool. At the last Listening & Learning session the mayor went as far as pretending he didn’t know what it was.
I’m all for moving ahead with this project, but let’s be honest and transparent in our intentions.
The attorney for Med-Star made it pretty clear that it really doesn’t mean a hill of beans;
Despite questioning the objectivity of the process, Med-Star attorney Dan Fritz says he is not surprised a city appeals process has now found that the scoring system and selection of Paramedics Plus was fair.
“It was a decision that was the result of the city’s own appeal process, which we feel was a wholly inadequate process to deal with an issue of this complexity,” Fritz said.
Basically hiring an independent judge (who really isn’t a judge) who gets paid by the city to review an appeal. I wonder if she is a kangaroo?
Kermit brought this up today during the informational meeting that this really wasn’t a surprise that they ruled in the favor of the city, to which he was chastised by councilor Kiley for questioning their integrity. Would Kiley have questioned their integrity if they ruled against the city? Kermit wondered if the council’s decision would be delayed due to a possible appeal to a real court of law (minus kangaroos), the councilors questioned this appeal;
Med-Star plans to not only file an appeal in state court but also is planning a federal court appeal saying the agreement violates anti-monopoly laws. So, it’s likely that timeline for Paramedics Plus to takeover will be delayed.
Kind of sounds like they are appealing, unless of course Med-Star’s attorney is lying on camera to reporters.
During this other interview, the attorney also brings up how they only had two weeks to prepare for the appeal and were presented evidence at the appeal that they haven’t seen before (that is classic move by the city attorney’s office, since they have no real talent in defending themselves honestly in A REAL court). They pulled this crap during the Bruce Danielson trial, and it blew up in their faces.
The best part though is when Med-Star’s attorney downplayed the appeals process that it is something more fitting for dog barking complaints and NOT for picking an ambulance service. But don’t tell that to our health director;
“This ruling recognizes the objective processes used by the City, as well as the hard work done by many people throughout our RFP process,” says Public Health Director Jill Franken.
And if you haven’t heard enough BS from city hall, we get to endure this tomorrow.
As you can see, the plans we were shown before the Spellerberg vote have been scaled back (Surprise!) We said all along that the advocational presentations were just ‘fluff’ to get people to vote against the outdoor pool.
This is what we were shown before the vote (click to enlarge) the only ‘increase’ in square footage comes in the additional activity rooms, they scaled back on the outdoor part and something else missing is the exterior drawings with the new plan.
You can also see, it’s going to cost almost $4 million more then what we have been told (Surprise #2). They are claiming the price went up because of ‘time’. Funny, a $4 million increase in less then a year . . .
What we haven’t been told is if the city got a MOU from the VA on the quit claim deed. During the meeting though councilor Anderson questioned the lack of transparency to the mayor sharing these changes to the council. The mayor’s response was classic, kill the messenger, he asked where Kenny’s plans were.
There was often a lot of talk to the run-up to the vote for the Events Center about ‘economic impact’. But was that ‘impact’ ever really broken down? And who is benefitting (economically) the most?
In all fairness the mortgage on this facility, to reach probably well over $180 million (not including operations and maintenance over the next 30 years) will be paid for out of the CIP, one of two pennies the city gets from sales taxes. So in some ways visitors to our city and EC will help pay that mortgage. But even if the sales generated from the EC (lodging, fuel, food, tickets, etc.) was around $200 or $300 million a year that is only $2-3 million into the CIP, a far cry from our $10 million dollar mortgage each year. The comparison kind of reminds of how much taxpayers have put into platting fees versus the developers.
Also factor in whether the place will stay in the black with operations, maintenance, upgrades, etc. Even with sponsorships, it may squeak by, and on a generous note, if the EC actually makes the city a profit each year, will that money go into the CIP to help pay the mortgage? A question that has only been vaguely answered by several city officials saying the same thing, “That’s a possibility.” Which means . . . NO.
Let’s face it, if the facility does make a profit, we may never know, because profits will quickly be eaten up by the managing companies that run the facility and promoters. I have a feeling we will magically always end just a little in the black each year, with someone else besides the lowly citizens of SF enjoying the spoils.
So besides the public supposedly benefitting from this economic impact (we will get to that in a moment) who else has REALLY benefitted (economically) from the EC’s construction?
– The bonding company that sold the bonds gets a percentage of the sale, instead just a flat fee.
– Mortenson and several contractors have benefitted, and depending on how the siding gets fixed, they may also come out smelling like roses on that also.
– Hotels, restaurants and other businesses that see an uptick in business when an event comes to town.
– Ticket brokers and scalpers are making a mint from the convoluted way the EC sells tickets. Pre-sales to fan clubs, naming sponsor employees and several other ‘gimmicky’ ways tickets are pre-sold. Something the city claims they ‘can do nothing about’ even though they could implement a city ordinance that bans out-of-state ticket sales until after tickets are sold to the general public.
So what benefit is there to the General Public?
Besides the trickling in of a few million to the CIP, the public really isn’t getting any economic benefit from the Events Center, except another bond to pay off, money that could be spent on better parks, roads, water and sewer, and host of all kinds of other things that actually improve quality of life in Sioux Falls besides a top-40 country concert or a bull riding circus. And most of these things we don’t have to pay for out of pocket after standing in line for 18 hours.
Okay, so we determined the economic impact to our personal wallets isn’t really there, so what about quality of life? Is overpaying and finding it difficult to purchase affordable tickets to the EC for a couple of concerts a year really worth our mortgage? Personally I don’t think it is, and that is why I voted against the facility. The math wasn’t just fuzzy, it just doesn’t add up.
But even those who voted for the place and are willing to go see the latest ass in cowboy hat play the place, do you find any value in the facility or how it may have improved your life? That will be the hard question we will be asking over the next couple of years, as tickets get more expensive, maintenance and operational costs go up and a possible lawsuit that we will probably lose over the siding come to surface.
So enjoy your new events center Sioux Falls commoner, because we sure are paying a Helluva a lot for it and not getting much in return except a mortgage bill.
UPDATE: The city decided to edit the Q & A out of their version of the video. That’s why we bring the camera, you never know what kind of creative editing the city’s propaganda station will pull.
Sioux Falls Aquatics Focus Committee Named • 1/22/15
Well as one commenters stated, “It looks like a stacked deck”. Yup it sure is. The Sioux Falls special specials all gathered together to bless the forgone conclusions we knew were coming.
Don Kearney keeps talking, never saying anything and then answers questions never asked in an order never followed (but does mention renderings will be released next week to city council(?) – so has this committee already been meeting?)
We want to know what happened to the Quit Claim Deed issue and many more unanswered questions. We won’t hold our breath waiting for answers.
How about putting people on a “focus” group who don’t have problems with the ethics of campaigns and contributions.
Why do we need two parks board members (and a former one) to sway the opinions of this ‘neutral’ focus group? Why do we need a voting member of the city council on this group? What does an “Avid Park and Trail User” have to do with a swimming pool? A person who sells sporting goods is a good fit to supply items to the swim teams, pool and parks department, but to be on the steering committee? Still trying to understand what qualifications a Lighting Design and Engineer for corporate and religious events brings to the table. Does the certified pool operator have other plans once the pool is operational? Do the healthcare employees plan to sway the project for their particular employer’s benefit? We understand how the front persons for the NO on the outdoor pool campaign were placed in the leadership of this effort but no other neighborhood residents? What about an egg salesman who donated $400 to the previously mentioned campaign interest group? We’re just curious as usual.
Just a few more questions for our ethically challenged city administration to answer someday when they get around to it. It took about 7 weeks to name these pre-chosen committee members, let’s see how long before we have to wait for more answers.
In the end, will these 15 people just be the rah-rah club for Don Kearney’s plans or will they actually have any say in the process?