Rant-A-Bit Episode #10; Mayor Huether, all things Events Center

I’m still trying to process all of it, so I don’t have an opinion as of now.


#1 l3wis on 09.27.11 at 8:59 pm

I do comment about absentee voting on KDLT:


#2 GregN on 09.27.11 at 9:04 pm

Wow, that’s a big deal getting the Mayor on your show. I’m downloading the podcast now and interested to hear how it went. I haven’t listened to it yet obviously, but that’s pretty cool of the Mayor to take the time. You looked good on KDLT 🙂

#3 Detroit Lewis on 09.27.11 at 9:13 pm

It was fun.

#4 GregN on 09.27.11 at 9:45 pm

I’m half way through now and so far my first impressions are:
I’ve watched the Mayor in pretty much every listen/learn, meeting, etc I could find and talked to him in person a handful of times. My impression has been that he’s genuine. So far from what I’ve heard, it confirms to me that I think he really believes the assertions and projections he’s making. I think he really believes this is not going to be a problem for the city to pay for, that its going to make money, and be a positive all around. I think his motives are good and I don’t question that or his character.
He’s not afraid to answer tough questions or go into hostile venues and he deserves credit for that. A lot of other public figures won’t do that.

I think what we have here is good people who have an honest difference of opinion on some of the projections, assertions, and plans. I follow his thought pattern on a lot of it, like why you can make a good case for the arena site. Some I respectfully disagree on, like the idea that there will be development out there. I want to be for this thing, I just need to convince myself it will be a net positive for the city and not put the city at too much risk or tie its hands, I’m just not sure I can get there. My heart is for it, my head isn’t so sure. But to give him credit, so far he’s making a good pitch for it.

#5 matt70 on 09.27.11 at 10:05 pm

He’s a Carnival Barker, a good one. Whatever his intentions are, 22 years of debt at $5-8 million per year is a monster liability. The operating costs will be around for another 20 years after that. I don’t believe for one moment this thing will be profitable, it will need to be subsidized just like the pavillion.

#6 Tryon Gym on 09.27.11 at 10:19 pm

I read this is an Advisory Vote? Is that true? Can I confirm this before I start false rumors??

#7 Angry Guy on 09.28.11 at 12:04 am

Yeah.. when you put the power of the Sanford Sports complex’s infinite cash supply together with Mayor McMikey’s love for ridiculous debt.. all things are possible. Feel the love people… feel it sliding in… and out.. and in … and out… of your wallet.. your kid’s wallet… your grandkid’s wallets…

#8 l3wis on 09.28.11 at 5:30 am

Tryon – You are correct, it is that way in the ballot language.

#9 cr on 09.28.11 at 6:42 am

There is some clarification needed here on the 22 year repayment period………….

For 17 of those years the repayment amount is in the range of 9 to 9.5 million per year NOT 5 to 8 million.

A big difference folks…………..

#10 Brom on 09.28.11 at 9:22 am

Sorry GregN, I came to the complete opposite conclusion. Behind that latex face of his is a giant lizard. Enough said.

#11 GregN on 09.28.11 at 9:41 am

Brom, I respect that. There seems to be two reactions to Mayor Huether. Mine, which I could be dead wrong, or yours, which is that he’s a pure salesman who is selling snake oil and has pulled the wool over the eyes of people like me. I’m willing to concede you may be right, I just don’t know. I would be interested once Scott digests this interview to hear what he thinks since he interviewed him and I know he’s talked to him on a number of occasions. I did have a chance to talk to the Mayor at length quite a while back about a number of things including various personal small talk and family life, so I’m basing a lot of my opinion on the impression I got from that. I found him to be a nice genuine guy – at least that was my read. I make no claim of being able to see what’s really in someone’s heart, so again I could be flat wrong. I guess my default is to assume that someone’s motives are good, unless I have clear proof otherwise. At this point, I think at least for me personally I probably just respectfully disagree to some extent on some of the details of the plan. But I’m also as anti-debt as they get, so I come from that background, so this is a hard sell for me in any event. I also understand that my dream of building an event center in cash and paying for it is essentially a pipe dream – most people will say it can’t be done or whatever, which is fine. So basically I have to decide if I would hold my nose and vote for it based on wanting one on an emotional level, or if I stick by my principals on debt and risk, and vote no. I’m a little conflicted on that.

#12 Mark on 09.28.11 at 11:12 am

Any recent polling on this? Anyone want to venture a guess on how this election will turn out?

#13 Scumbag Steve on 09.28.11 at 12:06 pm

Maren Larson.


#14 My_Mistake_Mike on 09.28.11 at 12:06 pm

Great salesmen never, ever burn bridges. Which is part of what makes them great.

Ask any of Mike’s former employers if they would even consider hiring him back, let alone throw significant money at one of his campaigns.

#15 Scumbag Steve on 09.28.11 at 12:09 pm

Huether = Eddie Haskell.

#16 Scumbag Steve on 09.28.11 at 12:16 pm

Hey Greg.

Your utopian financing plan may not be attainable, but the current funding is about as far away from that as you can get… no down payment, no upfront sponsor money, etc etc. The only way to make it any worse, would be to finance it through First Premiere.

#17 Poly43 on 09.28.11 at 12:22 pm

There is some clarification needed here on the 22 year repayment period………….

For 17 of those years the repayment amount is in the range of 9 to 9.5 million per year NOT 5 to 8 million.

A big difference folks…………..

A point I was about to make. One other thing. Don’t remember where I read it, maybe here, maybe on Jennifers site, or maybe Andy Traubs. I could have misunderstood what was being pointed out, BUT, as I understand it now, the first five year of debt repayment, the mil figures, do not include any principal payments. The last 17 years, the 9.5 million years, are where we start paying off the principal. The mayor said we start paying off the principal on day one. Which is it?

#18 Poly43 on 09.28.11 at 12:24 pm

BUT, as I understand it now, the first five year of debt repayment, the mil figures

Sghould read…

BUT, as I understand it now, the first five year of debt repayment, the 5 mil figures,

#19 Poly43 on 09.28.11 at 12:29 pm

Maren Larson? Where have they been hiding her?

Don’t ruin my first impression Scott. How much taller is she than you?

#20 l3wis on 09.28.11 at 1:16 pm

Poly – She is about my height and 100 lbs. dripping wet. Skinny-Minny.

#21 Douglas Wiken on 09.28.11 at 1:19 pm

When asked about the clerk firing, did the mayor actually say something like, “Bring it on, I was prepared for this by God.”

#22 l3wis on 09.28.11 at 1:27 pm

My impression of the interview.

He rolled us a couple of times, but hey I’m no trained journalist and it was the first time I ever interviewed him. I do think we nailed him down on a few things that may hurt him in the future.

– He did admit that future councils can raise taxes to help subsidize this facility.

– He promised that the council would abide by the vote, but then said it will probably go on the ballot next year if it fails.

– He said Owen’s firing had absolutely nothing to do with the EC. I told him that it would eventually become public and asked if he wanted to stand by those words?

– He admitted this was about CC space.

– He said there are companies interested in sponsorship and we would be hearing about that soon.

– I was disappointed that he continues to mislead about the funding as CR pointed out. We are also unclear about adding more hotels and expanding the airport.

He said something funny to me after we were done recording as he was leaving. “You know Munson would have never done this.” I just laughed and said, “Uh, Yeah. Let’s not get into that.”

Anything I missed Scott?

#23 Scott on 09.28.11 at 1:53 pm

I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t respond to his “it’s only 5 – 8 million” with “yes, the first 5 years”. That was my fault.

I was surprised by his admission of “guilt” in the handling of Owen.

I laugh at how he tried to go against my concert rant with some US Today article about the great health of the concert industry.

I don’t want to pat ourselves on the back too much but I think we handled this pretty well. We’re both just loud mouth and not real journalists but we asked him some pretty tough questions. Now if I could only get YOU to place yourself SOMEWHERE near the mic…lol.

#24 Detroit Lewis on 09.28.11 at 2:30 pm

I forgot to mention I ran into Bob Litz right after the interview and asked him how absentee voting was going and he told me it was ‘steady’. He also told me that a retired couple who are snowbirds told him they waited until yesterday before leaving town so they could vote. I think turnout is going to be between 20-30%

#25 cr on 09.28.11 at 3:15 pm

Scott and Scott already know this, but just as background…..

I attended (and took notes at) the 2009 Task Force meetings for 13 months from October 2009 to November 2010. I also am at Carnegie each week for Council meetings, so I have seen all of the Mayor’s EC updates.

The revised funding plan for the EC can be seen at siouxfalls.org September 12th Informational meeting Mayor Huether Events Center Update.

In Tracy Turbeck’s (Finance Director) portion of the update you will see that the plan has been revised so that the principal payments begin the first year.

The Mayor clarified once again that the major tenant for the new facility is flat floor space (i.e. convention business).

CSL (consultant/operating side of the equation) to the 2009 Task Force said that in order to support the increased convention business a second ON-SITE hotel must be built.

The problem with this is………….ALL available space at the Arena has been designated (Koch Hazard) as parking spaces. There is NO room to build a second ON-SITE hotel at this location.

I have asked where they are going to build this ON-SITE hotel at three different public EC meetings. (two at the Orphuem and Monday’s presentation at the Main Library).

Every time I have asked, they (the Mayor, Directors Cotter, Smith and Cooper) have evaded my question by saying……If the EC passes, someone will come forward to build a second hotel.

This does not answer the question…..where will a second ON-SITE hotel be placed at the Arena location?

This second on-site hotel is one of critical underpinnings of this project, and there obviously is NOT an answer for this question.

****Remember…..South Dakota winters…..according to CSL this hotel must be CONNECTED TO THE NEW EC IN ORDER TO COMPETE FOR INCREASED CONVENTION BUSINESS.

And, if the response is that we will build a skywalk…don’t believe it…..because the high cost of this option was discussed extensively by the 2009 Task Force, and financially it is not a feasible alternative.

#26 Scott on 09.28.11 at 3:20 pm

The hotel question probably should have been a separate topic (as originally planned), instead of inserted as part of Scott’s three-point rebuttal.

And we should have set up a special ustream or skype link for CR so she could have tossed us info like this for our followups. 🙂

#27 Detroit Lewis on 09.28.11 at 3:28 pm

I got the feeling by the way he answered the question that there is companies ‘interested’ but no one has made a commitment. I was also wondering where that hotel was going to be built. I know Sy has mentioned to me a tunnel being built under Russell.

#28 Dave R on 09.28.11 at 4:27 pm

I think the mayor genuinly believes that an Events center is a good idea. I happen to disagree with him.

#29 Detroit Lewis on 09.28.11 at 8:49 pm

Dave – I agree. He knows I voted ‘NO’ already and he told me in an email today he was disappointed. I told him this, as I have mentioned on this site before:

“I may have voted NO, but it had nothing to do with the plan. I just don’t think we need one. And I have said, if the voters approve the construction of the facility, I will support that vote. No sour grapes.


This issue will continue to reoccur until it passes. No doubt about it. Is the current plan flawed? Sure. But we all know, as the mayor said in the interview, if it fails this time, it will just be on the ballot next year again.

#30 Analog Tape on 09.28.11 at 9:44 pm

Analog tape is better than red tape eh? Scott – that was an excellent interview. I voted NO and agree with you. There are alternatives to enhance the city better than this. While I use the convention center, the Duluth style arena is just not needed at the moment.

P.S. Think of all the things which made other cities unique in the 70’s which are now gone. Things which were started by an individual, not a city council. We need to keep the power and funds within these minds.

#31 l3wis on 09.28.11 at 9:50 pm

Art and culture is what makes city’s fantastic. I have been to San Fran twice, and will admit, what a great place. I would love to just live there for a short period of time, taking it all in.

#32 Poly43 on 09.29.11 at 7:15 am

I am one of the most fiscally conservative people yer ever gonna meet. I, I really am. And if you understood my background, you’d understand why.
~Mayor Mike

Mike, I do understand your background. And therein lies my issue with you. As marketing director for a fee-harvesting operation, I find it hard, very hard, to trust you. In view of your $200,000,000.00 dream, have you ever looked up the term “fiscal conservative”?

You claim, or your advisors claim, 60% of “Event” attendees will be bringing in new second penny money. I disagree. The metro population is 241,000. That is where the vast majority of your second penny will come from. One in eight of those is a senior citizen on a fixed income eating tuna helper to help make ends meet. Most of the others are struggling families where the median income hovers at $14.00 an hour. They might spend $100 a ticket to see your imaginary dream team opening nite act, but that is $100 they will not be spending elsewhere in this city. Where’s the new second penny money in that scenario?

For a whole lot of Sioux Falls wage earners, a gallon of milk and a gallon of gas can take a sizeable chunk out of an hours net wage. You and Cindy can go shopping on opening nite, eat steaks and drink a bottle of wine at Minervas, and attend your opening nite dream concert and not even blink an eye. And therein lies your total disconnect with Joe SixPack.

And Debra Owen? Absolutely no EC tie-in to her abrupt dismissal? Like I said, I do not really trust you Mr. Mayor, or five of your council members on that claim.

On the other hand, I do believe you have bought into this scheme…hook, line, and sinker. Come on back sometime Mike, with Tracy Turbak, and explain the River Greenway money pit.

#33 Detroit Lewis on 09.29.11 at 9:06 am

Yeah, I have trouble believing some of her firing had nothing to do with the EC. I even said to him that it will eventually come out to the public, so if he wanted to recant he could.

#34 GregN on 09.29.11 at 9:19 am

Responding to Poly43, I pretty much agree on your assessment. Again, I’m going on the belief, right or wrong, that he genuinely thinks this is a good thing for Sioux Falls. And his point is taken that the council itself wasn’t willing to entertain a down payment, so I don’t blame him for that part. But that being said, I too am bothered that one could say they were fiscally conservative but also worked for what I consider a disgusting organization (Premier) that rips off the poor pure and simple, no question. I struggle with that. And sometimes you do wonder if ‘thou dost protest too much ‘ on proclaiming being a fiscal conservative. But maybe he is deep down. I looked at the presentation and what the consultants project for economic impact (total) which as anyone with any intellect knows is the dream best case scenario and probably way high, when I take that and multiply it by say .02 to get actual new revenue to the city, its just not that much and probably dwarfed by actual operating costs of the facility. In regards to Deb Owen, he’s been on record in multiple venues forcefully saying it has nothing to do with the event center. He’s been clear on that. Problem is for me, it doesn’t pass the smell test. I’ve been collating in my mind all of the councilors and his statements of why she was NOT fired, and we’re running out of reasons it could be. I would note if you watch the Sept 21 listen/learn someone asks him about it at the young professionals forum and he goes on about it for a while, again saying it was not because of EC, saying he can’t talk about it for her dignity, but then he does essentially say it was for performance. Which is the first and only time I’ve heard anyone claim she was not performing. Hard to believe, all respect.

#35 Analog Tape on 09.29.11 at 11:10 am

Also responding to Poly43 I agree with your scenario but the sad truth is (if we don’t get busy to urge citizens to vote NO) the Joe Sixpacks are the ones who think, #1 we all need this EC, #2 it will increase their job security “somehow”, and #3 they don’t know the real impact to their wallet this will have down the road.

That said, anyone want to stand outside the door at the county bldg and urge people to vote no? Any ideas?

#36 Sy on 09.29.11 at 11:18 am

That’s correct L3wis, there has been talk that a tunnell will go in under Russell when they widen it to 6 lanes a few years down the road.

I haven’t heard whether or not that’s cheaper than a skywalk, nor have I heard which properties on the North side of Russell will be cleared for new developement, but my guess is neither one has been accounted for in the overall financing package.

That being said, I’m still on the fence and will probably be right up until I pull the lever. Obviously I still think we are missing the boat with the location, but I also think this would be a good project overall for Sioux Falls.

#37 Scumbag Steve on 09.29.11 at 1:23 pm

Same dude that said the library director was not forced to retire, but did so on her own.

Oh ok!!

#38 Scumbag Steve on 09.29.11 at 1:26 pm

If there’s any portion of this plan that you don’t like… financing, location, parking, the guy championing it… I don’t know why anyone would vote yes. It’s not like this is your only shot… he just said in this uinterview that he’ll cram it up your ass until it fits.

#39 Scumbag Steve on 09.29.11 at 1:28 pm

Hey Analog.

I’m really suprised there hasn’t been a group that’s stepped forward as opposition. People rallied against the rec center… which was less expensive and more useful… but there’s been no vocal opposition to this project. It’s weird./

#40 Analog Tape on 09.29.11 at 1:49 pm

Scumbag, At the very least I could make up some professionally looking 2-sided index cards at Gobel Printing to hand out across town to vote NO, Now and Why. Just need some strong short bullet points.
Might be a good idea to angle some to the YES crowd regarding the hotel & parking issue and the fact no positive vote should be made at least until there is a major corporate sponsor or a down payment.

#41 l3wis on 09.29.11 at 2:19 pm

There is an opposition group. They just haven’t reared their head yet. I look at this in a couple of ways. If it fails in November, it will continue to be on the ballot next year. But maybe if it fails it will give us an opportunity to really look at what we can do to make the plan better.

#42 Pathloss on 09.29.11 at 3:33 pm

Huether needs a creme pie in his face. There was a city ordinances change in July that’s still not posted. They still conduct civil procedures without allowing appeals and due process.

#43 Pathloss on 09.29.11 at 3:36 pm

Can you go to council meetings with pie tins & whip creme cans?

#44 cr on 09.29.11 at 3:55 pm

November 8th the people will speak……………

IF it is voted down, I think it would be very politically unwise to try to get it onto the November 2012 ballot…..

Sioux Falls voters are growing very weary of the EC topic……….

#45 Analog Tape on 09.29.11 at 4:51 pm

At the end of the interview he uses an old sales technique called the dream scenario where he knows the value putting you in the limelight asking you your dream act to mark the opening night at the EC.
I thought Stevie Miller should kick it off with “Go On Take the Money and Run” in the spirit of how the banks are leaving SF with this big tomb of inflated cost concrete bricks. Or perhaps David Bowie’s Suffragette City.

#46 Scott on 09.29.11 at 8:09 pm

Actually, the dream scenario section was my doing. I thought we should end on a semi-positive point.

#47 l3wis on 09.29.11 at 8:36 pm

And it is a ‘Dream scenario’ because I think it is going to fail.

#48 Poly43 on 09.29.11 at 11:41 pm

I thought Stevie Miller should kick it off with “Go On Take the Money and Run” in the spirit of how the banks are leaving SF with this big tomb of inflated cost concrete bricks. Or perhaps David Bowie’s Suffragette City.

Now that the “Young Professionals” have entered the race…nothing could be more fitting. From the video, to the message, it is point on.


#49 l3wis on 09.30.11 at 5:14 am

LOL! Huether mentioned you could buy a brick to the EC with your name on it for sponsorship.

Maybe the more appropriate song would be this one if the vote passes, or maybe if it fails?