Who authorized the ‘GO Card’? Good question.

While I will say that this discount card is a good idea (I would tweak it somewhat*) I’m wondering where this came from all of a sudden?

Make no mistake, the Parks Department Administration has every right to come up with these kind of marketing/promotional ideas, in fact with all the (white**) people over there making 6 figures or more a year, they should be kicking out ideas like this every week.

But my main question is, ‘Who authorized the card?’

If the Parks Board authorized this without consent of the council, that goes against everything they have been saying about the advisory nature of the board over the past couple of weeks. People who I have spoken with who have attended the last couple of meetings heard NOTHING about the card. So maybe the board was in the dark also (but I have my doubts)?

Three city councilors told me they didn’t hear about it until yesterday when the press release was put out. But even if the other five rubber stampers knew about it, it certainly wasn’t because it was brought up in a public working session, committee meeting or informational. And there was NO council authorization.

While any city department certainly has the right, and probably even the legal right to come up with different marketing and promotional ideas within their set budget, I think they are walking a fine line with this one.

But “What if the mayor authorized it”? Not within his duties as far as I am concerned because this has to do with budgetary and fees charged which is the duty of the city council to approve. So how is it that the city council sets the swimming pool rates but has NO say in a discount card?

Once again, this just shows how the Parks Administration and the Mayor’s office thumbs their noses at the council.

*The discounts are ‘nice’ on the card, but nothing too substantial. I guess I would have pursued a corporate sponsorship like from Sanford Profile or Scheels.

**According to a Human Resources report, the Parks Department has 74 employees, NONE of them are a minority.

Whatever happened to Personal Integrity and Ethics?

When you see stuff like this, you really wonder where we went wrong with our local elected officials;

Doug Morrison, who served on the school board for the last nine years, decided not to run for re-election earlier this year, and now he’s gearing up to take on an administrative role with the school district.

About three weeks after his last board meeting at the end of June, Superintendent Brian Maher offered him an administrative position in research and development.

Before making that offer, Maher checked with legal counsel to ensure he wasn’t violating district policies. He said he expected scrutiny for hiring a former board member, but he said Morrison was the best candidate for the job.

Hey Brian, does it really matter if he is ‘breaking policy’ or not? What about the appearance of putting on a gigantic golden parachute and jumping off the roof of the IPC roof? If Morrison, or for that matter, yourself had any ethics or integrity in this matter, you can see why there SHOULD BE SCRUTINY.

What makes this even more troubling is that there were 29 other applicants;

It would have been easy to pick another of the 29 applicants for the job to avoid scrutiny, Maher said, but he saw Morrison as the best candidate.

Are you telling me that there wasn’t even ONE candidate in that pool that couldn’t do the same job as Morrison? NOT A SINGLE ONE? C’MON!

“Doug’s interest in the position did not influence the creation of the position, the job description or the selection,” Maher said.

Keep telling yourself that Brian, if that’s what helps you sleep better at night. The rest of us are very restless about this selection.

*Cory points out that they are already listing Morrison as a school district employee BEFORE the school board has approved that employment.

Washington Pavilion Management looking to renew contract in October

The Washington Pavilion is looking to renew their 5-Year contract in October of this year (The current contract runs until December 31, 2017). The first I heard about this, and most of the councilors was yesterday during the budget hearings.

Besides the fact that SMG has been salivating for years to get the contract on the only room in the building that makes any money, the Great Hall, I am wondering if the Pavilion contract has ever been put out for bid? Or like the external auditor contract, we just pick someone in the dark of the night?

I think with the recent move to allow other entities to bid on our public golf course contract, it might not hurt to open up the bidding for the PAV.

Even if they don’t, the council should have oodles of questions for the current management team. It has been NO secret for years that the Great Hall makes the Pavilion money. Mainly because the Pavilion controls it’s own ticket sales and much of it’s promotion of shows (something they need to do at the Events Center). Do they make money on all of their shows? No, but year after year, the Great Hall has been profitable, very profitable. I think the only time the Great Hall probably didn’t make money was during the economic downturn in 2008-09. The Visual Arts Center has always kind of broke even. Mostly through grants, etc. and there skeleton staff. The Science center has always been a money pit. The problem is that the Pavilion doesn’t split up the accounting for the 3 departments. In other words, even if the Great Hall makes money, there is an appearance of loss due to the Science Center because all of the money sits in one kitty. This needs to change with the new contract.

The Pavilion has also had some major management changes over the past year, not just with the new Director, Darrin Smith, but some long time managers have said bye-bye.

So why is it important that the city council dig deep before signing another 5 year contract?

The last internal city Audit was in 2008

The last 5 year contract was signed in October 2012 (Item #31)

Last annual report presentation to city council was in 2014

As you can see, besides the Pavilion spending millions over the past couple of years in building upgrades sliding under the radar in the consent agenda and taking money from the lucrative money tree called the entertainment tax, there has been very little transparency since the last time they signed a contract.

It’s time for the council to really pull up their boot straps and dig deep, and ask the important questions before blindly signing another contract.

Sioux Falls Mayoral Candidate David Zokaites at the SE Fair

While one of his other opponents is busy selling overpriced American motorcycles, David has been working the crowd this week at the SE Fair. I spoke with David at the Fair Monday night, he said the response to his candidacy has been ‘Very Positive’ and people are looking forward from moving on from the current administration. Thank God for term limits!

The Truthful Patriot, Kermit Staggers

Kermit Staggers launched a new blog a few days ago. Looking forward to hear what a truthful patriot has to say compared to an untruthful patriot.

ADAPT This!

I have driven from I-229 to Downtown twice on Minnesota Avenue since these new signals have started. My wait times were about half as what they were before, so that is an improvement, BUT I felt like I was stopping at more lights. Either way, I usually try to take Phillips Avenue Downtown if I am traveling from 41st Street. Very few lights, more scenic, and faster.

Should South Dakota State Law change to help with wage increases

Wage collusion has been going on in Sioux Falls and the State for quite awhile. Would a change in State Law or even city ordinance that requires all employers (big and small) to show either the hourly wage or salary in an employment ad that is posted within the state or city help matters? Would it hurt?

Parks Board Districting ordinance fails, Mayor breaks tie and votes NO

Selberg, Stehly, Neitzert and Starr voted YES. Erickson, Rolfing, Erpenbach, Kiley voted NO. At one point, Erpenbach even defended the ‘Rich, White’ folks on the board and that we were picking on them.

Hilarious. And she points out why this change is important.

Shooting Holes in the Mayor’s argument against districting the parks board

My responses are in Italics. Funny how it only took me 10 minutes to shoot holes in the mayor’s opposition.

City Administration Does Not Support Districting Parks and Recreation Board Members

Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Mayor Mike Huether and the City administration team do not support the proposal to require Parks and Recreation Board members to be appointed according to City Council district. Reasons include:

• The current process allows the City to select the most qualified or best of all of the applicants, based on such things as skills, knowledge, available time, and passion for the role. Anything less than the best applicant denigrates the quality of the board and the work they do on behalf of the entire city.

There are over 178,000 residents in Sioux Falls. This provides a sufficient number of candidates in each district with any or all of these qualifications.

• The Parks and Recreation Board members already represent a diverse selection of the city’s citizens. Board members, past and present, have different backgrounds, skill sets, ages, genders, home and work locations, employment histories, educational backgrounds, goals, and interests.

There are currently NO minorities that serve on the Parks Board, and I’m not sure if there ever have been any that have served.

• The Parks and Recreation Board role is to make decisions based on the City of Sioux Falls and the park system as a whole, versus a specific neighborhood or area of Sioux Falls. This proposal could create a “turf war” environment in our park system versus making the best decisions on behalf of the entire city, regardless of location.

Under Stehly’s proposal there would be At-Large members that would prevent this supposed ‘turf-war’. It would also force the districted members to work together to make the parks system more equal.

• History proves that park investments in Sioux Falls are made all across the city based on need and benefit, not on location. Every park, the entire bike trail, and other park amenities are maintained and improved regardless of location. One great example is the Midco® Aquatic Center, which was purposefully constructed in a centralized location for easy access to public transportation and other services.

Actually the Aquatic Center location has been proven to be a very poor choice due to traffic, parking and the lack of space needed for expansion, while being built on land deeded to the Federal Government. If Spellerberg Park would have had some kind of district representation some of these problems could have been avoided.

• South Dakota law, as also written into the board’s bylaws, clearly states that the Parks and Recreation Board only has an advisory role, providing recommendations to the Administration and City Council. The Parks and Recreation budget, fees, and contracts ultimately are considered and approved by the City Council. Considerable checks and balances are in place regarding the Parks and Recreation Board.

None of these things would change one iota under Stehly’s proposal.

• This proposal is a solution without a problem. There have been no instances provided or proven by the proponents where the existing policy was a deterrent to effective governing of Parks and Recreation in Sioux Falls.

And that is why NO current Parks Board member would lose their seats under Stehly’s proposal. This was never about the status quo, this is about moving forward in a growing diverse city, something called ‘progress’.

• What is broken? On the most recent citizen survey (January 2017), 89 percent of Sioux Falls residents rated the city’s parks positively, and 88 percent rated the overall quality of life in Sioux Falls as positive. Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation is accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). Less than 1 percent of agencies have earned this national accreditation.

So why not strive for 100%? Stehly’s proposal would only strengthen that satisfaction by having district representatives.

• The proposed ordinance sets a bad precedent. The City of Sioux Falls has 42 volunteer citizen boards and committees serving the entire city. Which volunteer committee will be negatively impacted next by the proposal?

This is about the Parks Board only, not OTHER boards because the parks are spread throughout all the districts of the city. A bad precedent would be sent by voting NO to this proposal and once again accepting a status quo that has lasted for 102 years.

• Filling City board vacancies is challenging enough today and this will be compounded if additional criteria are placed on appointments. Citizen boards and committee vacancies are heavily marketed, yet the City still struggles to find qualified people willing to serve. Remember, these are unpaid volunteers on the Parks and Recreation Board, along with the other committees and boards.

These appointments are hard to fill because they are picked by ONE person. If the city council was more involved maybe the makeup would be more diverse. Unfortunately the mayor chooses the members than asks the city council to rubber-stamp his decision based on no public testimony or interview process by the city council.

• The Parks and Recreation Board holds its meetings in various parks, community centers, and other park facilities across the city in an effort to encourage public input from the entire city and also to familiarize board members with the park system.

They hold these meeting during the work day and at the SAME TIME as the city council informational meetings which not only makes it difficult for citizens to attend but city councilors. Adding insult to injury the meetings ARE not video recorded or live streamed due to a VETO from the mayor.

• Board members do occasionally move while serving their terms. Reconsidering board positions each time a member moves to a new area of the community would not serve the board or the community in a productive fashion.

There is a provision in Stehly’s ordinance that would prevent these supposed problems.

South DaCola Podcast IV: Patrick Lalley

Patrick becomes our first guest on the Podcast. He gives us a history of his professional life and some insight into the current state of media. He also catches me yawning 🙂

You can also listen to Patrick’s podcast re-plays of his KSOO radio program.