Entries Tagged 'snow removal' ↓

Have Coke and a Smile

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UPDATE: Compromise on Snowplows?

They are going to use a disclaimer. Sorry, but this won’t hold up in court. Huether give it up.

Here is a copy of the letter the attorney from Freedom From Religion Foundation sent to the city attorney: Freedomfromreligion

As you can see, he states several cases that show this is unconstitutional.

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A little inspirational reading for the mayor (click to enlarge):

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plow

IMAGE: READER SUBMISSION

Heck, with a snowplow like this, the snow would melt at impact!

As any intelligent person that understands the US Constitution and 1st Amendment, and Jon Arneson would know, you can see where this is headed;

Arneson believes having those painting on city property puts the City into a corner where, by law, it would be seen as an endorsement of religion. He says U.S. Supreme Court rulings dealing with religion and government over the past 30 years support that.

Duh?!

I guess we are supposed to hear a resolution today from the city, I suspect if we don’t hear one by the weekend, that the city decided to quietly paint over the plow blades. We will see. I did notice it is already circulating the national news that our Mayor is Constitutionally inept. There was a blurb about it in the USA Today.

 

 

Sioux Falls ODDS & ENDS

After listening to the podcast version of Mayor Huether’s interview on Belfrage’s show yesterday, I noticed that the mayor said some interesting ‘OTHER’ things.

When he was talking about the snow plow issue he mentioned that the city doesn’t want to become ‘lawsuit happy’. I about chocked on my water. This is a guy who is having his attorney’s office criminally charge and arrest people for storing building materials in their yard. I would have to say the city is VERY lawsuit happy.

He then talks about how the Events Center has had ‘record sales’ since it has opened. Huh? How do you break record when there is no record to break. While I think it is great the place (mostly contractors and promoters) are making money, I think saying we are breaking records is a little far-fetched. Beating projections would be a more honest statement.

He also mentions the city has big plans for Van Eps Park now that it is a dry park, but he didn’t expand, just told listeners to be watching for them next year. I heard he is erecting a large Coca-Cola bottle in the park with a crucifix floating inside.

Lastly, once again he can’t resist taking credit for snow gate implementation. Mike, the voters of Sioux Falls implemented snow gates, not you, get over yourself. He also mentions that snow gates may not always be used depending on the snowfall, around that 6-10” range. As I understand it, if we get a heavy wet snow, they don’t work well, and it would probably be wise NOT to use them. But if it is a normal dry light snow, they can be used up to 20-30”. I also heard not only will they not be used on emergency snow routes, that the secondary routes may be ignored to.

BUSINESS AROUND TOWN

I noticed in the Sioux Falls Business Journal a blurb about Lloyd Companies and Hegg teaming up to build a $45 million dollar apartment complex in Minot, ND in the Bakken Region. Surprise! Surprise! I wonder who will be investing with them and if they got any TIFs?

Arc of Dreams

I see the Arc of Dreams has raised $480,000 so far which is great! I hope they fund this project totally privately, and pass their fundraising skills on to the mayor’s wife so she can pay for own damn indoor tennis center.

As I understand it the project is being built on private land. But I found it a little strange that they have already hit half their fundraising goal and haven’t approached the Planning Commission or the CORP of Engineers for permission to build. As I understand from an engineering standpoint, the counter balance in the ground will have to be enormous. I will be shocked if 1) They can build this for $900K and 2) that they don’t ask tax payers to contribute. Stay tuned. The two guys heading up this project are behind BibleWalk, uh I mean SculptureWalk downtown, I expect them to be extending their hands at a council meeting very soon.

UPDATE: Why is the city hiring a broker/consultant to purchase snow gates?

UPDATE: At the council informational today, Public Works director, Mark Cotter explained that 4 bids were put out and that Titan was the lowest and Henke was the highest, even though Titan is purchasing the gates from Henke. We will be paying aproximately $6,750 a piece for the snowgates. I also found out that the city will own all the gates and loan them out to any private contractor that will be using them. I guess some private contractors have agreed to use them, so that is good news.
It was disappointing during the meeting that Rolfing had to make a big deal about how much there usage will cost us and demanded that Cotter gets the council that information in the near future. Ironic, even though an indoor pool wasn’t even on the ballot, when the outdoor pool failed at Spellerberg, the council and mayor felt they had to ramrod the project threw because the voters have spoken. Well, kind of. Yet snow gates pass by a landslide (which were actually on the ballot) and all of a sudden Rolfing is concerned about the cost of there usage. In Rolfing’s mind fiscal prudence only applies to public services like snow removal, but when it comes to unneeded recreation, spend, spend, spend away.
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I’m no expert on items listed on the consent agenda but it would seem the city is using an outside company to acquire snow gates;
(Consent Agenda) Hydraulically Operated End Gates (Snow Gates) – Titan Machinery - $ 215,700
I find this a little disheartening, because during the snow gate petition drive, organizer, Stehly got confirmation from Henke (the superior snow gate manufacturer) to offer a discount and training to the snowplow operators in SF if they got awarded the bid. Are they so busy in Public Works that not one single person in the department could get bids and purchase snow gates directly from the manufacturer? We now have to have a middle man? That is SF city government for you, consultant happy. I have often wondered why we even have city directors and employees, we might as well just hire consultants to do all the heavy lifting for us. Imagine the millions we would save in salaries and benefits for all of these overpaid directors and middle managers.

Direct implementation of Snow gates by the SF City Council wasn’t even possible

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The chamber makes it sound like the petitioners stopped the mayor and council from implementing snow gates, more like the other way around.

Snow Gates (Initiated Measure 1)

Sioux Falls voters will also determine if snowgates will be implemented within the City’s snow removal plan. Residents opposed to the direct implementation of snowgates (designed to reduce the amount of snow in driveways and intersections) collected enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot.

‘Residents opposed to the direct implementation’

WTF?!

Was Jesus gonna walk across Covell Lake and implement them with a wave of his olive branch?

The VOTES were NOT on the council to get snowgates implemented. I think only 3 councilors supported them. Staggers, Anderson and Jamison (and Jamison was even wavering a bit).

SO why is the Chamber flat out lying about DIRECT IMPLEMENTATION?

Talk about getting your talking points from Jesus H. Huether.

SF Chamber’s Silly Business

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You mean the use of snowgates actually helps local business?

Not sure what to think of the Chamber’s endorsements for the election. While the Walmart and Shape Places thumbs up doesn’t surprise me, their stances on the other two citizen ballot initiatives seems a bit silly;

The chamber also is pushing for a “no” vote on building an outdoor pool at Spellerberg Park. If they get their way, the city will move forward with plans for an indoor aquatics facility there.

Their board took no position on the fourth ballot measure, whether the city should invest in snowgates to keep snow from piling up at the bottom of people’s driveways.

So they are supporting an indoor public pool that will be subsidized by taxpayers and will compete with private indoor swimming providers. Doesn’t this go against the free enterprise nature of the Chamber? Do some of the Chamber members provide indoor swimming? Very odd.

And saying nothing about the snowgates is probably a relief to either side of the issue, but you would think the Chamber would endorse a public service that benefits many businesses throughout our community, not just in cleaning out the inlet’s to their parking lots but in worker productivity and lost time (if an employee is late because they were blocked by a snow berm and had to scoop it away before driving to work.)

Once again, the Chamber proves who they stand up for, and it really isn’t their members or local small businesses. No surprises here, just lots of the same old silliness.

 

Scoop it your frickin’ self

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I have a feeling after people read this ‘My Voice’ letter yesterday in the Argus Leader, this lady’s driveway is pretty clean by now.

Her letter was about the how the ‘Scoop It’ program wasn’t working for her. A few things I will say before we throw the HelpLine under the bus. First off, I heard they do not let the prisoners out when it is too cold because they don’t dress them very warmly (the rumor is if they give them ‘too’ warm of clothes they will be tempted to escape. Not sure if I believe that, but I am sure liability issues arise if a prisoner volunteering for this program gets frostbite or injured due to the cold.

I am a 70-year-old lady with significant disabilities that require me to use a walker to get around. I’ve owned my own home for 21 years and was able to keep up with all of my yard work until just a few years ago, despite my own physical problems. I have a limited income that barely covers my expenses, but I pride myself in that I always have been able to manage with the assistance of a friend who has since moved.

My biggest problem is getting my driveway and sidewalks shoveled so that I can at least get out of my house and to the doctor and for groceries, etc.

Secondly, not to sound too harsh, but if you cannot manage your property and you are on a fixed income, maybe it is time to move to an apartment or an assisted living center.

But I do agree with her on one level, if you are going to promote a program to help the elderly who are choosing to stay in their homes, approve them for the program through an application process and threaten them with fines if they don’t scoop, you need to follow through with the program. I have heard several city councilors and the mayor tout the program for people who cannot take care of their property. But it kind of sounds like the program doesn’t work very well. I find it a little hard to believe that this is the only person who has experienced problems. It is evidenced in her letter, first they tell her it is too cold to scoop, then the mayor’s secretary tells her ‘tough luck’ then they continue to lie to her about when they are showing up. An isolated incident? Doubtful.

I take pride in scooping my sidewalk and driveway. I learned very quickly one year, if you skip a couple of times, you are playing catch up until spring (removing ice, etc.) and I’m sure many of these elderly people feel the same. But I have also believed that people shouldn’t be fined for not cleaning the (residential) sidewalk they are assessed for. Technically if it our responsibility to clean this sidewalk, and repair this sidewalk, we take ownership of it. And if we don’t have time to clean it, or have other physical impairments, the city shouldn’t be able to force us to do it. Why?

Well first, the city rarely takes care of all of their own property (but the skate board park parking lot is always sparkling clean :) Secondly, I understand that people in wheelchairs, the blind and just regular Joe’s without cars are trying to get to work. But most of the routes these people take are emergency snow routes and main arterials, and yes, those sidewalks should be clean. But residential? That’s debatable. I also see a lot of businesses/apartment complexes getting off pretty easy with following the rules. About 4 years ago I used to go for a walk in the winter on my break at a place I worked at by the Western Mall, this corner lot that featured a business (that actually sold snowblowers & salt, ironically) never scooped the sidewalks, EVER! By the end of the winter there was literally about 8 inches of compacted snow and ice on the sidewalk surrounding the business. I won’t say who it is, but if you are going to hire someone to scoop your sidewalk make sure they ARE NOT wearing a RED shirt.

I find the city likes to pick and choose who they enforce ordinances on. It’s easy to beat up on a 70 year old disabled woman for code enforcement violations it’s a lot harder to pound at a retail chain or large apartment complex owner.

The irony in all this is that the city has the money (through a Federal Grant) to hire a shrink for the code enforcement office, but they just can’t get the resources together to help people with snow removal and tree trimming. Somebody needs their heads checked, that I agree with, but it’s not the residents of this community.

 

Street snow plowing in Sioux Falls now done on a ‘complaint basis’

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I guess it’s like how the city’s code enforcement office ‘supposedly’ operates, they don’t investigate or hand out violations until there is a complaint made;

“I think I’m getting so many calls now I’m going to have to take some motor graders out there and try to limit the amount of snow they put in people’s driveways, but certainly we need to go out and do it,” Huber said.

Maybe Huber needs to see a psychiatrist about why he is ‘hoarding’ his motor graders in the street department garages instead putting them to work? I also suggest that citizens call his department like 4-8 times in one day about the same street that needs to be plowed, like how they hand out code enforcement violations. I also suggest you don’t scoop your sidewalk until after January 1st. And if the city tries to fine you, just tell them that your sidewalk scooping budget ran out for 2013 due to the Spring ice storm, besides you have better things to spend your money on, like a wet bar in your family room or a man cave in your garage, and if the public wants to hang out there, they can, for a nominal ‘caving’ fee, but not until the man cave members have used it first.

Who really ‘Cleaned Up’ during the ice storm?

Well, there is a least one good thing that came from the ice storm, during the city council meeting last night, Finance Director, Tracy Turbak admitted that we will ‘probably’ be getting FEMA money, after the State and FEMA evaluate the city’s expenses associated with the cleanup. But we probably won’t be compensated until 2014.

So please, let’s drop it.

If you watch last night’s  meeting what stuck out was how much money went towards ‘private contractors’ (DOC: ICESTORM )

Out of the $9 million total cost of cleanup, $6.2 million went to hire private contractors. City Personnel costs were only $1.1 million. This kind of surprised me, because if you were following our local media, listening to the mayor or city council, they were throwing out Kudos to city employees and volunteers like root beer candies at a Fourth of July parade.

Sure, there was a ‘mention’ of private contractors ‘helping out’ but not to this extent. Two-Thirds of the total cost went towards them.

On a positive note, that is REAL economic impact. Unfortunately many of the contractors were from out of state, and that money won’t be recirculated into our community.

But one wonders how much of this money made some local contractors very rich, very quick?

No doubt, the city could not have cleaned up this storm on their own, and independent contractors were needed, but I think in the future there should be a constingency plan put in place for such emergencies to make sure contractors are not gouging tax payers or individual property owners.

Without a doubt the city with the help of the private contractors did a fine job of cleaning up our city so quickly, but why do I feel like the ‘cleanup’ took us to the ‘cleaners’?

My ‘CityLink’ Debut

Snowgates!