What? Code Enforcement? No, citizen abuse and dumpsters

Who would have thought this video would touch such a nerve when we posted it in 2014. City employee Darin McDonald was fined for his dumpsters during an interesting time of property transfers in his neighborhood. Dan Daily had the SD Supreme Court declare code enforcement process in Sioux Falls unconstitutional and still has not been fixed. Cameraman Bruce was arrested for raspberries and garlic only to have the judge tell the city to leave his yard alone.
Project Trim, flowers in the boulevards, campers, grass, snow, sidewalks and so many citizen irritations caused by overzealous out of control city administrations. There are so many more and we will be highlighting them as we can get the information. If you have a story to tell, let us know. You never know what can be done.
The fallout is happening and it is filling dumpsters. South Dakota has already declared this process unconstitutional but Sioux Falls keeps doing it anyway. Testimony on Tuesday September 9, 2014 was an interesting day for the City Council of Sioux Falls SD.
During the open discussion portion of the regular council Informational session, Kermit Staggers brought up a discussion of code enforcement abuse performed by city officers on behalf of troubled neighbors. It was a good topic to bring up.
Some of the councilors did not understand why it was an issue. It seems the people being abused don’t feel their councilors care enough to help them to even ask them for help. Who is left to answer and fight for the average public? Kermit.
Michele Erpenbach and Dean Karsky decide to stick up for the mayor and his administration. Nothing new from them. Greg Jamison tries to discuss the compromise reached among the council a few years ago but they seem to have forgotten to reach out to the community, like usual.
At the Public Input portion of the regular Council meeting, Darrin McDonald had a great presentation on the city snitch program. Dumpsters, dumpsters and more dumpsters mostly owned by the city are in violation of city code. Where are the citations due the mayor, Pavilion, Sheraton?
Before the City Hall lurkers bombard us with abuse they should look at their own backsides.
The Council needs to rein in the code enforcement mess in Sioux Falls. Code enforcers are used by nasty ‘Good’ neighbors to hurt many neighbors in this best little city. Once a citizen tries to work with our code enforcement staff, they know you are a sucker, so look out. Once they know you are weak, they will find ways to abuse the law to hurt you. So look out.
Cameraman Bruce Danielson

UPDATE: Uh . . . Thanks for the Documents? I think?

It only took 3 years and a Supreme Court decision and now the city has decided to release (some) of the Events Center building documentation. (click on Item 4A, and you will see the PDF DOCS on the lower right hand side of your screen).

The obvious reason we WANT to see the siding report is that it may or may not tell us if we will need to do maintenance to the siding in the near future. Attorney invoices from 3 years ago don’t help much. Just saying.

UPDATE: I had a chance to review most of the documents. Besides the fact we spent thousands of dollars on outside legal counsel, there was something that stuck out, over and over. That in a moment.

I will say this first, while I can be uber-critical and cynical of local government, there is a part of me that understands that public officials (either elected or appointed) don’t always make the right decision. Most of the time that is for two reasons; 1) They didn’t get the proper information or did not seek it out before making the decision OR 2) it has to do with their political philosophies. While those two are not totally inexcusable, they are within reason. Nobody is perfect, we all make mistakes, we all tell a lie from time to time, but we try to LEARN from our missteps.

But what stuck out on the siding settlement and the attached documents is that in the dozens of pages of memos and letters between all parties involved (contractors, city employees, architects, manufacturers, legal teams, etc.) they all had a repetitive theme in their correspondence; APPLYING THIS SIDING IS NOT A RECOMMENDED OR GOOD IDEA. But for some reason at the end of the day, they did it anyway.

Why? Well that seems to be the Million dollar question. Like I said, most mistakes by public officials are excusable, but it is baffling to me with all the warnings that anyone would approve this siding job. Somebody was following orders, and someone was giving them. Can anyone say “Code Red”.

Kudos to 1/2 the council and mayor for voting down casino loophole

Sioux Falls City council meeting, 10/10/17 (FF: 45:00)

Bravo to councilors Erpenbach (who led the charge), Starr, Rolfing, Stehly and Mayor Huether (breaking tie) for voting NO on the casino common space ordinance.

I was actually surprised it tied, but wasn’t surprised Mike voted NO. It is well known in certain circles he doesn’t like VL casinos. I think he called them once ‘junky’ looking.

It was a stupid ordinance for a couple of reasons. While it probably makes sense to have adjoining casinos who have the same owner sharing a beer cooler, that really was only the minor intent. While the separate casinos would have their own set of machines, name, signage and their own entrances and bathrooms, the casino owners wanted them to ‘share’ ONE employee. Besides the fact that the casino owner is being a tight wad when it comes to labor, he is actually endangering his ONE employee more and making BOTH sides of the casino more vulnerable to robberies. Stand alone VL casinos are already burglar magnets, how does this make them anymore safe? Fortunately at least half of them saw that this was very bad idea when it comes to crime and safety. What was strange was that Kiley said he agreed with the NO voters, but voted for it anyway. Now that’s leadership Rick.

Big Savings!!!

Rex Rolfing questions Events Center siding, May 27, 2014

Here is the first time the rippling siding is mentioned by Rolfing at a city council informational meeting. (FF: 24:00). Notice the answer from Mortenson if it is an ‘Issue’. The rep says, “I’m not saying that.”

South DaCola Podcast 7: Transparency & Open Primaries

Okay, tonight’s debate was a little unexpected. While we started out with a good conversation about transparent government and the demise of Mayor Huether and the siding settlement we quickly shift gears into a ‘discussion’ about the two party system and open primaries. NSFW (I’m not even sure if I want to listen to it again). Props to Robert for putting up with us.

Sorry, It’s still about wages

Here we go again, another ‘woe is me’ story from a retailer/hospitality employer who cannot find good help;

“I’ve honestly never seen it this bad anywhere else,” another told me.

They were talking about their struggle to hire staff – a theme I’ve heard repeatedly the past few years but one that has become extreme in recent weeks.

My recent conversations about hiring struggles have involved retail jobs. The industry is experiencing a bit of a perfect storm, with several new stores and restaurants opening while others ramp up seasonal hiring.

I’m deliberately not sharing the names of the businesses I’m referencing because I don’t want to create the impression that their hiring struggles mean they are undesirable places to work. I actually don’t think that’s the case, based on what I know of their businesses and what they shared about their wages. I just think they’re caught at a time when pretty much anyone who wants to or is capable of holding a job has one.

One manager I talked with last week has hired for stores in seven states and said he never encountered challenges like he is here.

First of all as a person who has worked on and off in retail/hospitality for over 20 years I will agree with many of things they are saying. There is a limited workforce pool, there is also a lot of people who can’t hack it (multi-tasking). There are also other issues, like drug and alcohol problems, and low-income parents who can’t afford child care. It’s hard to weed some of that out, I understand. But one thing I have learned from working in this industry, THERE ARE GOOD PEOPLE. Often times they work twice as hard as their co-workers, never are late, never miss shifts and never call in sick. The problem is a lot of these businesses are not willing to compensate the GOOD ones more than the crappy ones. You can create polices to weed out the bad ones, once you do that, PROP up the good ones, that means giving them the best shifts, better pay, bonuses, etc. Good employees in this type of the industry know when they have hit a plateau, and if you are not willing to pay them more, they’ll be gone in a flash. The GOOD ONES are not afraid of hard work, they just want to be rewarded with a living wage for their efforts.

My advice; if you employee one of the good ones, and they ask for a raise, GIVE IT TO them! The cost for replacement and lost business isn’t really worth it. Also, service industry people talk, in fact, if they are NOT working they are talking about their job with their peers. If you are a good employer that pays well, they WILL tell their friends, that mostly likely are THE GOOD ONES to. I would never recommend a person that didn’t work as hard as me, I don’t want to work with lazy bums either.

It’s not just about getting GOOD employees, it’s about retaining them once you have them. Pay them what they are worth. As we used to say in the industry, compliments don’t buy groceries.

Sioux Falls Chamber supports the release of Events Center siding report

Like most of the city council and most citizens, the Chamber thinks it is a good idea to release that report;

One final issue that lingers is whether the siding, as it exists, is doing its job and protecting the building as it should. While city professionals noted that there are no structural threats to the building, the Council is asking for confirmation from an external source. We would like to see the administration provide the requested confirmation to put the issue of structural integrity to rest. It appears the Council will continue this discussion at a future date.

While I agree the report should be released, I’m afraid that it probably wasn’t a ‘complete’ report that really shines a light on what is truly going on with the siding. As I have told people in the past, I could care less what the building looks like, it is what it is, my primary concern is whether the siding is ‘weather proof’ enough that the holes and open seams in the siding are not causing damage underneath.

I think to be proactive in future maintenance of the building the council should request their OWN report from an outside source that has no connections with Mortenson or other sub contractors who worked on the project. And even if that report costs up to $60K, it is still worth the ounce of prevention. If there are issues, we can budget for the maintenance in the future. Transparency, at least this time, will save taxpayers money.

I know that Rex Rolfing and Mayor Huether think that nobody is ‘talking about it’ but I would beg to differ. Denial is a tragic thing.

“Call Theresa Stehly, she gets things done.” – John Thune

I guess John was rumored to have said this to a Sioux Falls constituent recently. I guess this person was talking to John Thune about parking issues in his neighborhood and John told him to call Theresa. I know I have accused John of not knowing too much, but at least he knows who is working for the citizens of Sioux Falls.

UPDATE: City of Sioux Falls Citizen Board Listing

Here is the current list of mostly volunteer citizens that sit on city boards; (DOC: 2017-10-07 City Board2 members)