ArtMaze, one of the better parts of Sioux Falls life in 2016
2016 has been a rough year for citizen activism. While it has been up and down here in Sioux Falls with many successes and failures to boot, it seems Washington DC has gone into full collapse as we allowed racist, sexist, hillbillies to elect our president.
But locally there were three things that stood out;
• Governor Daugaard claiming that voters were ‘hoodwinked’ into voting for IM 22, then getting the Pierre (in)justice system to go along with it. Funny how for over 40 years voters have been voting his party into power, and no word about ‘hoodwinking’ but once that corrupt power will be challenged, all the voters are idiots. As one official told me that used to work for Dennis, it’s not the public that are idiots, it’s Dennis. And his idiocy has been shining through.
• The South Dakota Democratic Party’s bottom completely fell out, and the people in charge patted themselves on the back. Insanity I tell you! Insanity!
• But one of the greatest achievements of the year is the Sioux Falls City Council’s change of power. The four new councilors have been flexing their muscles with a little help from Councilor Erickson, and while they have had a few missteps to start out, they have been learning from the battle scars. While ‘leadership’ of the council (Rolfing and Kiley) seem to be on a two man mission to rubberstamp all things Huether, shut down public input, and concoct false ethics charges against a fellow councilor (until they got caught lying like the snakes they are) they are becoming more and more in check. The city council has many big plans for 2017, and I have a feeling their agenda will push through easily as our lame duck mayor melts.
Let’s take a look at some the finer high and low points of 2016;
• The Huether Tennis center continues to block parking from other event attendees at the Sanford Sports complex though they basically stole $500K from taxpayers for the facility. Throughout the year there was several reports on cones and signs blocking the lot with not cars in it. But hey Mike’s Bride won an award this year and seemed surprised she did, without commenting that her check to the organization that gave the award wasn’t returned.
• The Sioux Falls City Council leadership and mayor’s HR department pulled a military retiree out of their asses for city clerk, a person who will be in charge of our city elections and hasn’t been registered to vote for years. He also proved his knowledge of official stamps when he stamped a petition without even bothering to read it. While Mr. Greco has gotten better over the year, the city clerk position should not be a $80K+ a year job as an apprentice, sadly being trained by one of his assistant clerks who has ten times the qualifications and applied for the position but was turned down. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the council chair’s view of women in the work place.
• Speaking of letting the mayor’s HR department and Leadership’s Mutt and Jeff pick the next internal auditor, the council barked loud enough that they did not want another ‘Greco’ pick. Not sure if the barking worked, but the person who was set to take the job saw the writing on the wall and turned it down. Hopefully the person who ultimately gets the position won’t be turned down because they shave their legs.
• The city continues to blow money on the Winter Wonderland Display, but the way the mayor has been cutting budgets these days, I expect next year’s display to be a couple of homeless barrel fire pits, sponsored by the Dudley House of course.
• After posting about the ridiculous corporate like raises the mayor has been giving to his management team, he turns around and still screws the minions with dismal raises again this year. I think in a special note to the city employees on their Christmas paystub he wrote, “I don’t care.”
• The city continues the FREE condom distribution program at area bars, and for some reason Monk’s is always emptied the quickest. Coincidence that is also a favorite watering hole of city managers . . .
• The Tuthill shooting case becomes ‘inactive’ and a tree branch shadow gets off scott free.
• The Erp wrongfully calls out local massage therapists as prejudice because they pointed out the ‘shower massages’ that were taking place around town. Apparently someone got a bad fortune cookie that day.
• The car rental tax and BID tax grabby-grabby fails in Sioux Falls, but the state legislature passes one of the most idiotic tax increases ever so our teachers are now just tied for last instead of dead last in pay. Out hoodwinking governor already has plans to rob the pot only one year after its passage.
• Hartford’s city government was in a state of collapse. Who really cares?
• The Levitt Pavilion is moving forward in Sioux Falls. It will be nice watching outdoor concerts sitting in the grass while battery acid is boiling beneath our asses.
• The Boulevard ordinance changes went into effect. Now stop worrying about rocks and plant a garden.
• The Washington Pavilion got a change of leadership after Darrin Smith takes over as President. So far he has only eliminated one director, but I hear the blood-letting has just begun. Now let’s throw another couple of million at the place to fix the poor construction to begin with. That will never happen with the Events Center . . .
• The Events Center cracks down on outside snacks and guns at events. We are all now safe from cheap fat people shooting us, but not in the parking lot.
• The Pottie Room war starts in Pierre and is guaranteed to return in 2017.
• A city council candidate throws a hissy fit over a post I wrote about his wife’s involvement with the Jesus plows and after threats to my employer I pull the post. He ends up taking last place in the at-large race. How’s Jesus working out for you now?
• Due to health reasons, Kermit Staggers decides not to run for a 4th term on the city council. His endorsement of Stehly puts her over the top.
• One of the youngest candidates in city history runs for city council. I apologize to Briggs for all the shitty things I said about him during the campaign.
• The Argus Leader sues the city for the details in the secret events center siding settlement. The Argus loses the first round but it is headed to the SD Supreme Court.
• On a similar note, the SON neighborhood is also awaiting a judgement in their Walmart suit with the SD Supreme Court.
• The Mayor and Q-Tip Smith screwup the DT parking ramp development by flapping their traps to soon, and the council later on in the year returns the favor and defunds the ramp all together for 2017. I still think the fiasco is what got Smith to seek refuge at the Pavilion.
• City officials throw a hissy-fit over Bruce’s camera at a city meeting we were invited to by then city councilor Kenny Anderson. Looking back on it now, I just chuckle.
• Bruce and I do a presentation on voter turnout in Sioux Falls at Democratic Forum and one of the mayor’s buddy developers in Sioux Falls tries to shut us down. When he fails, he walks out. Another casualty to transparency.
I have to confess, I am about half way through 2016 and it has been a turbulent year with lots of achievements and failures for transparency soldiers like me. But I had to stop working on it tonight after watching a public input video (I couldn’t stop laughing). I would like to thank Bruce for adding this to DaCola, one of the more popular segments on our site.
I think the currency of leadership is transparency. You’ve got to be truthful. I don’t think you should be vulnerable every day, but there are moments where you’ve got to share your soul and conscience with people and show them who you are, and not be afraid of it. – Howard Schultz
and my favorite quote on transparency;
I find that when you open the door toward openness and transparency, a lot of people will follow you through. – Kirsten Gillibrand
Has 2015 been kind to me and my fellow activists? I guess there are a couple of different ways to look at it.
As for my personal life, I lost a grandparent, my dog, my beach cruiser and a fellow foot soldier this past year. As for my blog, sometimes it is hard to measure success. I don’t get paid for what I do except for an occasional donation (and BTW, thanks for all the generous donations this year! You know who you are, and I truly appreciate it).
I think I try to measure my success on citizen change, and it was a big year. While I can’t say I directly impacted ALL of these POSITIVE changes in our community, I can say I have had a ‘hand’ in a lot of the matters. As for the NEGATIVITY we were unable to combat . . . bring on 2016!
Let’s take a look;
• The year started out with the announcement of the first major development by the Events Center, Badlands Pawn. It was completed, and I will admit, 94.5 FM is a guilty pleasure of mine.
• I called out Stormland-TV for their cozy relationship with the mayor. After I reported it to their corporate offices, the complaint disappeared, which cements my belief that Stormland is laying the groundwork to get Mayor Huether elected as governor. God help us all!
• 2014 was a record year for building permits (mostly do to hail damage and public projects) 2015 will turn out to be the same, a record, what the local MSM isn’t telling you is it is because of several public projects the tax payers are paying for.
• The Tuthill ghost was never caught, which only fuels the fire of the lack of transparency in the SFPD. After Chief Barthel’s retirement announcement he promised a Casper themed retirement party where party goers got to shoot 7 Nerf bullets at him. Apparently no one in attendance was able to connect. Avera catered the event, even though officers were discouraged to eat.
• The snowgates had a rough first year on the books. But so far this winter, it seems the learning curve is getting better.
• I applied to be appointed to the Minnehaha County Commission, and didn’t even make it close to the final cut. Instead they appointed a major developer’s wife in a very secretive process, who is apparently so overwhelmed by the job, she probably won’t run in 2016 to keep the job. This is what happens when you appoint elitists instead of qualified people to government positions. Dick Kelly is rumored to seek re-election though, and he promises to try to stay awake during the ‘important’ parts of the meetings.
• At a Democratic forum, city planner Jeff Schmitt jokingly admits this, “I’m not a member of the city council, because I actually do something.” Except of course tell the truth.
• Cameraman Bruce, as Chair of the Election Review Commission concludes their findings, which shows glitches in data and software between the SOS office and county offices. The findings have helped to implement sweeping changes not only in our state but across the country.
• After a statewide letter writing campaign headed up by local activist Theresa Stehly, State Senator, Corey Brown drops his proposed initiative/petition idea. Then the Democratic party tries to take credit for it.
• The march for the indoor pool continues as the city finally concludes that the ‘quit claim’ deed doesn’t mean a hill of beans to them. One official was heard mumbling, “We hauled away the ‘quit claim’ portion of the park in dump trucks.” And I believe them.
• The Sioux Falls Health Department hoodwinks the council into changing over Ambulance service to Paramedics Plus even though there was multiple conflicts of interest with the new provider and the consultant that helped pick them. Oh, and their part-time staff only steals from dead people, so that’s a plus.
• The extra penny to Municipalities fails in the State Legislature. Ironically the dumbasses in the municipal league plan to bring the proposal back to the legislature this year.
• Sioux Falls Assistant Fire Chief is fired over hacking emails, it is later found out he was suffering from mental illness and received no assistance from his employer. Should have invested in some lake front property with the chief.
• The State Legislature ‘tries’ to reverse minimum wage for teenagers. The SD Democratic Party successfully gets the reversal on the November 2016 ballot (yeah, they did this one all by themselves).
• SouthDaCola assisted with the school start date change after the Sioux Falls School Board decided NOT to work with parents on a compromise until after the petition drive was successful. South DaCola put the School Board and School District on notice by advising them that they may be violating state law by having teachers promote a ballot issue on school time and property. A District memo was sent out to teachers to not violate the law, but they still didn’t understand it. Probably not covered in AP political science courses.
• Putting pressure on the city through videos, blog posts and public testimony to fix the Events Center siding. Which resulted in a ‘coincidental’ arrest of a citizen involved, a secretive settlement and a lawsuit about transparency filed by the Argus Leader. The Audit committee has also put an audit of the EC’s change orders on the docket for 2016. Hopefully this will all be resolved before the mold and rust rot away the exterior of the EC, but I’m not holding my breath.
• The city council passes out two more TIF’s this year. One to a downtown condominium project and another to a DT apartment complex. Neither will benefit parking or affordable housing. But they shure look purtey.
• The area’s first proposed solar energy farm gets denied by the Minnehaha county commission and Sioux Falls City Council. Developers were afraid the clean & quiet energy may promote progress.
• The SF City Council passes new rules for mobile vendors, none of the vendors show up to the public meeting to protest. They were too busy trying to read the 500 page ordinance change about how to provide a trash can.
• After the supposed ‘perfect’ Shape Places zoning ordinance passed, we have more problems. The city council had to have an emergency moratorium on billboards. The problem is, the issues still remain, and so does Shape Places perfectness.
• The SF School Board appoints a new Superintendent in a very secretive process. Surprisingly, Super Maher has been anything but secretive.
• It was revealed in an audit that the city is behind in landfill collections from certain garbage haulers. No one knows if the issue was resolved, the city has said nothing since they were made aware of the problem. But fines for 37″ day lilies have been collected thankfully.
• Mayor Huether plasters his face all over ‘siouxfallshasjobs.org’ billboards without the spending consent of the city council, and totally missing the whole point of employment insecurity in Sioux Falls. His next campaign will be, “siouxfallshasindoortennisspaceavailable”.
• The city’s reputation for how they treat contractors reared it’s ugly head, when the city received NO bids on the 12th and Grange bridge project and had to postpone it to 2016. But they did build a cool dirt hill in the mean time.
• Mayor Huether continues to test the waters of election law by using tax dollars to campaign. Throughout 2015 he made over 7 stops in different communities across the state making speeches about Sioux Falls, though they were not necessary and he hasn’t announced a higher office run.
• Mayor Huether and the Events Center claim in April that the facility is operating in the black, ignoring the mortgage payment which actually puts us around $6-7 Million in the hole. But who has time for the truth when there is a whole lot of crying to do?
• The city council has made it easier for UBER to operate in Sioux Falls, they also extended free summer bus rides to minors, to veterans all year long, and put a kibosh on eliminating FREE swim passes. They did however get hoodwinked into supporting a construction manager at risk for the proposed administration building (before getting a price tag) and got overcharged on the indoor pool.
• Sioux Falls experiences a micro-brew revolution in 2015. I’m sure that has little to do with DaCola, even though Detroit does like his tasty brews. If you ask the mayor, he will claim the revolution is due to his business acumen, and he will tell you this while drinking a Coors Light. Just don’t post any pictures on Facebook of him drinking, it goes against that whole alcoholic father story he tells every 17 minutes.
• The SFPD started using tasers officially in 2015, which is a good thing, because if you can’t kill a ghost after shooting them 7 times, a taser would have a similar affect.
• The Sioux Falls city council kills the cell phone ban after an historic 1st reading, not even allowing it to go to a full council vote. I was the only person from the public to ask them to kill the ban, and force it to a public petition drive and vote. Former mayor Rick Knobe testified several weeks later that he was disappointed in what they did in that council meeting, though he had never watched it.
• Annette Bosworth gets the book thrown at her, and surprisingly enough it doesn’t land in her big mouth, while dozens of Huetterites receive criminal immunity and AG office a life time supply of watermelons, raison wine and turkey gizzards.
• After complaints of ADA compliance, moldy bread, and shady bartenders at the Events Center (Ovations) still no word if public safety has been compromised. But hey, after a few beers at the ‘Heart’ concert, I was glad I took that space shuttle ride to the chocolate factory, otherwise I could have never gotten my magic carpet cleaned.
• The EB-5 investigation gets closed, then re-opened, then . . . 6 people die in Platte. The safe was never found, but mysteriously a smoldering 5 foot branch was.
• Mayor Huether gets his street repaved (again) in 2015.
• South DaCola unveils the lies that were told (sold) to us before the previous city election when it came to an indoor aquatic center. The Parks department doesn’t seem to remember the advocational sessions we filmed. Sorry, Alicia, there is only so much you can cover up with a spray tan, hairspray and a leopard print mini.
• The Railroad Relocation project becomes the biggest waste of $27 million of Federal tax dollars in the history of the city. We still don’t know what will become of the land, and it still won’t relieve train traffic downtown. But all of the people involved received a nice plaque.
• SouthDacola busts the city’s IT and Central Services department several times on editing official city council meeting videos. Their solution? Dismantle SIRE and make empty promises about fixing it.
• The SF city council votes to raise parking rates downtown, just in time to build a private parking ramp for a hotel/apartment complex.
• The mayor appoints a Human Rights advisor for the city, after a few months she quits and is replaced by someone less brown. Strike another one up for diversity in Sioux Falls!
• After certain councilors try to pressure councilor Staggers into resigning or taking legal action against him for his attendance due to illness, his family holds a press conference and says, “Not so fast.” Their response, “That was weird.”
• After several hearings on the Southside Walmart VS. the SON Neighborhood, they continue to build based on imaginary and creative zoning that didn’t get proper approval. The appeal may make it to the SD Supreme Court in 2016.
• Steve Hildebrand comes out of political retirement, teams up Hickey, feeds the fake homeless then poops in the marital bed of the Pay Day lenders with a successful petition drive.
• The group in charge of the State Theater restoration admits they really haven’t gotten a lot done, but thanks for the donations! Makes you wonder if the project is being run by South Dakota’s congressional team.
• After tax payers throw away $500,000.00 on the indoor tennis center that bares our mayor’s name, they repurpose the facility for an empty parking lot that cannot be used by the public and a moth ball warehouse.
• SouthDaCola reveals that top brass and the chief of the Sioux Falls fire department are investing in lake property land together, the raises and promotions are just a coincidence.
• Mayor Huether proposes a ‘money grab’ on the BID tax. Last week the committee asked to review the proposal determined the study group that was compiled would ask for a study of the proposal.
• Lincoln County and the State try to pressure the city of Sioux Falls into annexing the 85th exchange early. Crickets.
• The city continues to use a harmful chemical to spray for mosquitos after SouthDaCola makes them aware of the product, because you know, it’s watered down.
• The general contractor responsible for building the dented up Denny Dome gets in hot water with the Vikings stadium after millions seem to be missing in change orders. I wonder if that is what they are hiding behind the EC siding?
• After a state employment grant and just a few years in Sioux Falls, Capital One announces they are leaving due to the lack of employable talent. I have several snarks on this one, but this post is already getting to long.
• After sitting empty for several years the Horse Barn Arts Center will be converted into a butcher shop museum. Watch the Falls Park visitation numbers sore through the roof in 2016!
• With the help of the city council and a tie breaking vote by the mayor, councilor Rolfing gets his bumpback provision passed. Just not sure what it means, but I’m sure Rolfing could explain it to you, just remember to take off your hat first.
• Which brings us to Rolfing getting his ass(hat) handed to him about Roberts Rules of Order and Veteran protocol.
• Mayor Huether proposes the largest budget in city history, then goes out and starts looking for ways to pay for it. You wait, the snow gate observation fee is coming.
• After Billion Auto gets over a $1 million in city property given to them for free, owner Dave Billion complains that he deserves to be treated like everyone else.
• After a city councilor receives offensive text messages from the mayor concerning the appointment of a new police chief, the messages disappear faster than the Events Center consultant’s siding report.
• Through the efforts of city councilor Erickson, MMA fighting becomes legal in publicly owned facilities. Now if we can just make tipping bar staff in these same facilities legal, we may be on to something.
• Denny Sanford introduces us to an Asexual Alien that will help eliminate gender bias. Than goes out and buys another $50,000 ridiculous costume for his next parade in Rio De Janeiro.
• Area Freethinkers host an atheist conference in Sioux Falls. Surprisingly enough the sky didn’t fall and life went on as normal the next day.
• The Pomp Room almost makes a comeback. Then we all realize it’s just a drunk Irishman blubbering.
• The city of Sioux Falls building services department allows a 5 star hotel to be built in McKennan Park, paints it pastel yellow then pretends like it doesn’t exist.
• Citizen activist I.L. Wiedermann dies. No worries, those unconstitutional red light cameras are not coming back anytime soon.
• Lincoln County Commissioner Dan King thinks bicyclists shouldn’t be riding on city streets, then makes an omelet to prove his theory.
• A transgender citizen activist in Sioux Falls comes out of nowhere to fight sex crimes in our city. BTW, just let her use whatever bathroom, you will both look better at the end of the day.
• In October Minnehaha County proposes a jail expansion, Theresa Stehly asks the city council to amend the boulevard plantings ordinance, and Mayor Huether gets his haircut for the 102nd time this year.
• It only took the local MSM about 3 years to figure out that former SOS Gant was a total F’up!
• Several new restaurants come to DTSF. A couple of them serve edible food.
• At one of Mayor Huether’s ‘Shut Up and Listen’ episodes this Fall, the mayor proclaims he is ‘Afraid of Death’ then runs full steam into a commercial kitchen refrigerator shattering his other arm. As he lay on the ground, he mutters, “I need to be put on suicide watch.”
• Councilor Dean Karsky receives a CMA on a recent council junket trip. Which seems appropriate since real talent has to work for it, while ‘appointees’ just get everything handed to them.
• The SFPD implements a Homeless/Transient roundup on Friday afternoons, and after dropping the ‘freeloaders’ off at the jail, police enjoy a free meal at Avera Hospital.
• Mayor Huether turns down the invitation to do Cher in drag. He responds, “Don’t I do enough crying already?”
I look forward to 2016, I have a feeling it is going to be a HUGE year in citizen activism, you will be amazed at some of my fellow foot soldiers are working on. Some of this work will literally shake the ground of this tiny little prairie town.
I am very excited to be on the show tomorrow, and looking forward to ‘Wordplay’. The fun starts at 3 PM. Don’t expect any surprises, because I always look forward to talking about city politics, so I encourage my foot soldiers to chime in.
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