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 still remember the first time I talked to Kermit. He patiently listened to my rant and a few days later he offered a solution. I’ve been hooked ever since. A man who quietly helps regular citizens with their sometimes mundane problems behind the scenes.
Over the years I have caught myself defending him to no end, not because of some of the big votes on policy on the council but because of his quiet stands behind the scenes.
We have disagreed on many issues. We were on completely on opposite ends of the page when it came to funding Lewis and Clark and the Safe Home. Kermit also defended the Jesus snowplows contending that separation of church and state is up for interpretation and not really constitutional. (Kermit is a devout Christian).
While being on the council, the media coined him as ‘Dr. No’ something I am sure until this day was concocted during an editorial board meeting at the Argus Leader between Patrick Lalley and Randell Beck, though I don’t have proof 🙂
The fact is, Kermit has proposed many progressive ideas as city councilor in the 12 years he was there. Many he never got credit for, which I’m sure doesn’t bother him one bit. His modesty is one of his best virtues. Besides pointing out the benefits of snowgates over the years, it was the mayor who scooped the idea up during his mayoral campaign got the ball rolling, then realizing the council didn’t want to play ball (mostly because of their disdain for Kermit) Stehly grabbed it and slam dunked it.
Another brilliant idea by Kermit that was mocked? Build an Events Center without raising taxes. Which was later proved by Mike Huether, except Mike never followed through with Kermit ‘entire’ proposal, funding the center with mostly private investment. While our taxes did not initially go up, our user fees have due to the enormous debt service of our 2nd penny.
Kermit was also a fighter for history and our museums in the Siouxland area. He has been committed from the beginning to get the museums an archive building to preserve our history, something that is still floating out there, and hopefully will be achieved by this new council.
Say what you will about the little guy, he has perservered, one of the main reasons and why Kermit has been so important for serving our city is his big heart for the little man. A guy who has probably knocked on and talked to over 40,000 constituents since his time on the legislature. The Argus has often never understood why Kermit would keep getting re-elected. I believe it is because he is and was well liked and spoke up for Joe Six-Pack.
But don’t be discouraged by his retirement. Several councilors elected in this past election, not just Ms. Stehly will continue to fight for that guy. While I will admit getting to know both Stehly and Staggers over the years, they do not have the same leadership style, but they do have one thing in common, service to you. While Kermit will be missed, his legacy will continue well into the future.
I guess we are one step closer to be re-named Sanfordville. Not sure what John brings to the plate, but I guarantee his campaign will be very well-funded by the swishy-tishy in town.
And if you think a former Sanford executive will be looking out for the best interest of Joe Six-Pack in Sioux Falls, I have some rental property to sell you next to a Sanford Hospital parking lot.
Enough of former ‘executives’ in city government. They have only one mission, to butter the bread of their friends.
I heard Paulson was considering the run last week, but wasn’t sure when he would announce. But I also suspect that Staggers will have several challengers (I have heard two other names thrown out there considering the run).
Believe it or not, I don’t always agree with councilor Staggers, but he is spot on that we don’t need to increase property taxes with inflation. We are a growing city, we also have natural increases in property value. There is NO reason to stick it to property tax owners. Let’s take my little Casa. When I bought my home over 13 years ago I was paying about $475 a year, I now pay over $1,100. Think about that if you own something substantial. When you factor in actual inflation, opt-outs and home improvements, you are looking at taking it in the shorts. Also factor in I am single, don’t have kids in the school district and don’t commit crime, they are basically charging me for the ills and social costs of society. You wonder why people ask for TIFs like free coffee refills, property taxes are killing us.
Traditionally, when Sioux Falls policymakers are slated to boost tax rates as they adopt the next year’s budget, the action item is listed as “an ordinance … providing appropriations and the means of financing for the fiscal year.”
That’s not transparent enough, said Staggers, who’s bringing a measure before the council Tuesday to force proposed tax hikes to be listed on agendas as an ordinance “authorizing an increase in property taxes.”
Staggers said the average citizen doesn’t have time to research every item scheduled for council action, and oftentimes skimming titles is how they learn about what’s happening.
“It’s about transparency,” he said. “It seems like a very reasonable and sensible thing. It should be very clear when we’re having tax increases.”
And I would go farther to agree, being dishonest with the public about supposed tax increases is never good public policy. We wonder why people are moving to the burbs in drones?
It’s amazing what the Chair of the Sioux Falls City Council tries to get away with when he does not want something discussed. MayorCam was in full force during this presentation and discussion of a simple reconsideration.
We will be going into more detail on the Powder House Road naming question in another video. Keep checking our postings. For now we want to illustrate how the Meeting Chair abuses the process when he does not get his way.
I believe back in 2009, councilor Staggers first proposed testing tasers for the SFPD. It seems, like snow gates, Dr. Staggers was ahead of his time. It often cracks me up when Kermit is labeled as an extreme conservative naysayer, when he is actually very progressive in his ideas. On the ‘Su Fu Stupid’ show the other day, Patrick Lalley determined that ‘Only 5 percent of the community agrees with Staggers’ but somehow gets mysteriously re-elected.
Gee, Pat, do you think there is a correlation there between support and being re-elected? Actually many people support him, just because a rubberstamp city council more concerned about developers and the chamber of commerce don’t always agree, doesn’t mean the public does not.
Remember, besides the snow gates victory, he also beat De Knudson when she spent 6x the money he did for an at-large seat, he also won the general election for mayor, only to lose to the well funded credit card salesman in the run-off.
Maybe Pat was saying only 5% of reporters agree with Staggers? Because when it comes to snow gates and tasers, it seems like Kermit has the best ideas.
In their disdain for Councilor Staggers (at one point, Rolfing told councilor Staggers to go sit down who was presenting his resolution from the podium, let’s talk about decorum Rex, that was a real classy move) in reference to Kermit’s resolution to allow councilors to be committee members in their respective parties.
Rex seemed angry when reading his statement, which he should be, but it was entirely misdirected towards Kermit’s resolution. I joked not to long ago, Erpenbach and Rolfing would vote against a promoting World Peace resolution if it was Kermit’s resolution.
Rolfing was angry about conflicts, but not once mentioned the obvious and blatant conflict Dean Karsky has with the Chamber of Commerce, which does do business with the city, unlike the party committees. He also didn’t even bring up the mayor representing Obama as a Democratic Party delegate. That apparently wasn’t on the radar. Nope, because Karsky and Huether are not Staggers, and let’s admit it, that’s all their NO votes against the resolution by Erpenbach and Rolfing were about (they were the only two to vote against it, because you know, the rest of the councilors used common sense instead of angst while voting).
To be honest with you, they looked like fools singling out Staggers and Erickson last night, when every single one of the councilors and mayor have numerous conflicts of interest that are more detrimental to governance in this city then going to a convention for your party every couple of years.
Some people on the council need to grow up, or at least grow a brain.
Here’s a few highlights from the ‘Morning Conversation’
– Staggers defends public input in the regular council meetings after Lalley suggests we have ‘special meetings’ for big topics. Staggers points out why this is a bad idea because public input needs to take place at the time of the vote. And if that takes 3 hours, so be it. I also asked Staggers in the comments section, if he thinks the city council violated city ordinance by limiting public input time. He walked a pretty fine line when he answered the question, he didn’t go as far to say that they did, but he did defend public testimony and said that it should not be limited in the future. Lalley seemed to think different topics needed different amounts of time, then he goes into some weird rant about limiting public input because it had to do with Theresa Stehly. WTH does that have to do with anything?
– While we are on snowgates, Staggers was talking about city debt and bonding for special interests after a commenter asked about bonding. Staggers was quick to point out how the city needs to spend more money on capital projects, like snowgates, instead of special interest and recreational projects, because snowgates would benefit most residents in Sioux Falls. Of course, Lalley couldn’t resist to refute Staggers with some really bad math. First he said that it wouldn’t help most residents because only 5% of the total population of SF owns homes with driveways in Sioux Falls. Staggers kind of laughed at such a notion, and Lalley says, “I will email it to you!” Staggers was quick to point out that you don’t need to be a homeowner to benefit from snowgates, because it would clean out driveways of businesses and apartment buildings as well as clear intersections. But Lalley just couldn’t drop it and said it wasn’t about snow removal it was about SHOVELING.
– And just when Lalley couldn’t look any more ignorant, he blames the $400 million dollar debt MOSTLY on the Events Center. Not to defend that pointless project, but that is only about 25% of our debt, Lewis & Clark also racked up $70 million (for a pipeline we did not need) So where did the other $100-200 million come from? As Staggers points out, all of these special interest projects. Lalley then mutters something about sewer pipes. Hey Pat, if you were paying attention at all when the city raised our water rates you will find that those repairs come from rates and enterprise funds now.
I have a suggestion for Lalley if he is going to do a daily media program. Stick to asking questions and leave the editorializing to your boss. You just look stupid when you say stupid things.
Councilor Dr. Staggers and I received a letter today CC’d to both of us. While I cannot post the letter (apparently this person thinks they can copyright the contents, anonymously) I am free to discuss it’s contents in a general matter 🙂 OK, Wizard of Oz.
The letter contained a list of 20-some questions about the proposed Dunham TIF affordable housing plan. For the most part, focused, Good questions.
It seemed to trail off in some parts about herding the poor and minorities into certain parts of town. Not sure if this is true, but if you have ever knocked on doors collecting petitions, you may have a different aspect. They also asked if TIF’s are being used to supplement developers costs when associated to street construction?
There was even some speculation about certain city employees and elected officials benefitting from these developments . . . I will stay away from that. I’m sure Pathloss will fill us in 🙂 Though I have pointed out that the Mayor’s wife is investing in a project that is receiving a TIF.
The only reason I post this is because I hope this person gives me permission to publish the ‘Questions’ – otherwise, not sure what will come of the issue.
While I cannot publish this letter ‘electronically’ (because this anon person said I could not – LOL – I can, and will show other people privately, just so you know.)
BTW, on a similar note, I found out former city planner Steve Metli’s retirement package tonight. Wow! Let’s just say, keep your eyes open. One of our SF daily papers will be covering the story soon 🙂
Ellis wrote a great column yesterday in the non-free online newspaper about the secrecy surrounding the EC’s naming rights.
So let me get this straight;
• The public was not allowed to pick the location
• The public was not allowed to pick the financing plan
• And now the public isn’t allowed to be a part of the naming rights
What if the corporation chosen is unpopular with the public, even if they give much more then other bidders? Sometimes the highest bidder isn’t always the best. Do we want a subprime credit card company’s name on the side of our events center? Or the name of the founder of that company?
I agree with Ellis, we should be told something, heck, anything. Either the list of companies bidding, or a ballpark figure of what the city is expecting for revenue for the naming rights. Or better yet, both. I think if we made the bids public, we actually might see a bidding war take place which would help us garner even more money.
But hey who am I to question our mayor, Mr. Transparency himself.
STAGGERS & HUETHER
On a different note, several people have asked me what I think the working relationship will be between the mayor and councilor Staggers. I have not spoken to Kermit or Mike about this matter. Believe it or not, you may see them join forces on a whole host of things. They both want the EC to be profitable. They both are proponents of testing snow gates. They both want to see infrastructure projects moving at a fast pace. We all may be surprised how much these two have in common. Don’t get me wrong though, there will be battles. Kermit is big on demanding information from city hall before he makes a decision on the council. You may see an all out cage match between Kermit and Darrin Smith (they never got along much on the council).
I will end by saying something Kermit stated the other day on the ‘100 Eyes‘ show when asked about taking things personal. “I don’t take anything personal when there are disputes . . . if someone has a personal issue with me, that’s not my problem, that’s theirs.”
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