Is it time we cut our ties with Mayor Huether?

As I warned Sioux Falls voters and citizenry before the last mayoral election, I questioned Huether’s ethics since he worked for one of the WORST credit card companies in the nation;

New York consumers will get as much as $4.5 million in refunds from a South Dakota bank under a settlement of accusations that it used deceptive and illegal tactics to market credit cards to people with poor credit ratings.


Consumer Affairs reports that credit cards from First Premier can come with up to $180 in start up fees. Here’s a breakdown:

• Account set-up fee: $29 (one-time fee)

• Program fee: $95 (one-time fee)

• Annual fee: $48

• Participation fee: $72 annually

• Additional card fee: $20 (if applicable)

• Transaction fee for cash advances: Greater of $5 or 3% of the cash advance

• Credit limit increase fee: $25

• Return item charge: $25

• Auto draft charge: $5/$9 per draft

• Express delivery fee: $25 for cards sent Express Mail

• Copying fee: $3 per item

• Internet access fee: $3.95

REMEMBER, this all happened when Huether was president of marketing for First Premier Bankcard (around 2007-2009). For those of you who don’t know what a marketing department for a CC company does, here is a quick overview, THEY MARKET THE CREDIT CARD TO CONSUMERS.

I worked in the marketing department for a third party debt collector/CC company for 5 years, I was the person who designed the mailers. There’s rules; type sizes, logo usage, language, etc. Lots of attorneys mull over the stuff. Sometimes they get it wrong. Did we get in ‘trouble’ sometimes? Yes. It usually resulted in some fines (each state’s rules are different when it comes to credit card marketing laws). I think the largest fine we received was from California for around $10,000. Apparently our Credit Card logo was ‘too high’ on the letterhead and ‘deceptive’. You will find out when working in this industry that plantiffs (mostly their attorneys) and judges pretty much have a say in determining what is considered ‘deceptive’. No panel of experts, just their opinions.

Now look at the laundry list above from FP. It pretty much is about EVERY thing you cannot or want to do. But large companies like First Premier throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks. It stuck for awhile. It’s kind of like large packing plants paying EPA fines, if the profits can cover those fines, why stop violating?

But is what FP did ‘unethical’. Hmmmm. A hard question to answer, but I think you get to a point in your job that you do these kinds of things so much, it becomes second nature. I didn’t work in the industry long enough for it to wear me down, but I did work with some in management that found nothing wrong with what we were doing. Actually, we had a great product, and our lender’s troubles with the FDIC is what put us under. Our model was simple, we offered a discount on your debt repayment up front, we even got some positive national attention for what we were doing.

Back to Huether. I think Mike worked in the industry long enough that he became jaded. He was making himself and T Denny lot’s O’ Money. Billions. There is also ‘lurking’ questions about why Mike left FP. Did he leave because the water was getting too hot and he was in over his head? Did he quit because he just didn’t believe the marketing strategies he was implementing were ethical (this one I find hard to believe, since he has no problem with naming about every public facility in SF after his former employer) or was he fired because FP was getting into so much hot water over their marketing and business practices? I have heard conflicting tales, but I hope someone comes forward before the next mayoral election and tells us the truth.

Now fast forward to the present. There are things I have seen Huether do in his mayoral position that remind me of his position at FP. Recently, he felt there was ‘nothing wrong’ with investing in property development in the town he manages. It goes back to what I have said all along about ‘salespeople/marketers’ It’s all about closing the deal, and if you step on a few toes along the way, oh well. And if you don’t think Huether isn’t a dealmaker, here is a list of things he has sold the public on;

• His election

• The Events Center

• Union supporter

• Best damn storm cleaner upper in the world

• Snowgates

• Man of faith

Okay, I could go on and on, but this is getting longer then I wanted it to anyway.

Huether promised voters he would be a changed man (wanted to ‘give back’ by serving as an elected official) and promised to run the city like a business. The problem with that is the CC industry robbed him of ever acting ethically in anything he did after leaving that industry, he has proven this by getting involved with investing in local property development, and secondly, the ‘business’ model he is using to rule this city is based on deception.

It goes back to the way Janklow ran the state, it’s okay to screw a few people over and make a little cashola on the side as long as you are getting things done. I don’t agree with that.

As a public servant, you must always have the concerns and needs of citizens come first, you must also give the citizens a great product/service for the taxes they pay, you should never lie or deceive the public to accomplish these things, and you should always be transparent and honest in everything that you do, and you should do all this without gloating, bragging or taking credit. You should also be able to take criticism when you fail, and learn from it. And most importantly you should be able to laugh at yourself when you are taking barbs.

I know, pretty humbling shit. But public service is a sacrifice not to be taken lightly. I will leave you with some quotes;

“The petty man is eager to make boasts, yet desires that others should believe in him. He enthusiastically engages in deception, yet wants others to have affection for him. He conducts himself like an animal, yet wants others to think well of him.” - Xun Zi

“He’s a fool who cannot conceal his wisdom.” – Benjamin Franklin

“Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” – Matthew 19:24

40 Thoughts on “Is Mayor Huether ethical?

  1. hornguy on December 21, 2013 at 8:56 am said:

    Lots of good questions here.

    The thing that blows my mind is how much this place represents the world Thomas Frank wrote about in “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” Economically, this is a state where the chasm between the have and have nots really couldn’t be wider. But beyond that, the gap between the have lots and the have somes is also pretty wide. There’s no thriving middle class here. As you’ve noted so often, it’s a handful of rich people on the south side of town and a whole bunch of people in service industry and call center jobs struggling to keep their heads above water.

    And yet time and again, the most vociferous defenders of those elected officials that support and implement policies that are harmful to the have nots and have somes are people in those very groups.

    As one of your other commenters noted awhile back, this city is pretty much a living, breathing kleptocracy. Even the things done in the name of benefitting the community usually have the meaty fingerprints of the city’s elites all over them, which should force one to question whether any benefit to the community is primary or incidental. So we build an new arena. Is the community the primary beneficiary, or is this just another thing taxpayers are buying that Sanford can use to woo the out-of-state employees they need since South Dakotans have apparently been convinced that a robust system of higher education is not a worthwhile investment? Perhaps it would be easier to not question the intent if the city’s biggest health care provider and its most predatory credit card company didn’t insist on slapping their names all over everything, like a fourth-grader with a pack of stickers. Denny might not be asking for the bronze idols all over town, but he sure as hell ain’t stopping them either.

    So instead of enacting policies that would flatten the income curve, encourage modest progressivity in tax rates, and ultimately give ordinary citizens more power over community development through their government, South Dakotans support policies that are regressive, injurious to the majority of them (no income tax but a sales tax on food, what the what?), and foster a mentality that the only world in which they can live in is one in which good things come solely from the (ultimately self-serving) benevolence of the wealthy. It’s a modern-day Oliver Twist.

    I think Huether’s heart may well be in the right place. But as you noted, I think Huether is also a product of the culture that resides within that small but powerful sector of the population. So his wife’s group glad-hands for taxpayer money and he doesn’t see the problem because, hey, it’s a recreational opportunity for the community. He invests in real estate projects that he and his planning staff have authority over and can’t see why there is a conflict of interest because, hey, people need places to live.

    Maybe this *is* what public service looks like to him. But to an outsider, it’s hard to see it as anything other than rank cronyism run amok, empowered by a City Council that isn’t much better on this front.

  2. To which the elites of this town reply, “if you don’t like it here go live somewhere else.”

  3. OldSlewFoot on December 21, 2013 at 10:57 am said:


  4. Quoting scripture now…. Change of heart on religion?

    Just learned an interesting fact yesterday. According to the US Cencus, the majority of Americans have a below average IQ.

    Knowing that, do you really think the facts will get in the way of this dirtbag being re-elected? He knows how to speak politics and he is really a slick talker when it comes person to person. I am continually ashamed that this man and I attend the same church. He’s what we call a catholic non-christian.

  5. I knew from the first time I seen his mug on your blog, I could never support him. Based on one thing. His ties with a fee harvesting CC company. I asked him a question once at an indoctrination session about revenue being less than expenditures and he did not answer the question but I stead thanked me for my service to country (was wearing a military ball cap) and went on to comparing the EC to me purchasing a home.

    The guy is a con and will win next year in large part because of what we just read in the first reply by hornguy. Very well put BTW.

  6. Another example of his warped personality.

    He just can’t wait to tell everyone he gave away some money.

    Pride is a deadly sin Mike. Your far from the only person who is charitable, but the leader in making sure everyone is well informed of yours.

    When the lights go out for good Mike, you and Denny got some explainin to do.

  7. Anonymous on December 21, 2013 at 12:22 pm said:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this, Hornguy.

    It is some of the most accurate analysis you have offered on southdacola.

    Sanford, Krabbenhoft, Dkyhouse, Huether and what they represent, have they been good for our community, I think there are many who would say NO.

  8. pathloss on December 21, 2013 at 1:23 pm said:

    People are finally realizing Huether is wrong for citizens and Midwest values. He spends the city budget on candy while our homeless & working poor suffer. It’s a time for infrastructure expansion & Huether competes against the hotel industry. I used the word ‘kleptocracy’. It’s a perfect label for pain we suffer from a few greedy narcisists.

  9. pathloss on December 21, 2013 at 1:34 pm said:

    Due to Home Rule Charter, the city council lost checks & balances authority. They can’t speak up when there’s a dictator. Some on the Council see but most are sacrificial. Change is possible but Home Rule must be repealed. The council learned this year they can be named as individuals in civil rights lawsuits. Entenman isn’t quiting because he’s tired. He could lose his assets. Their bond doesn’t apply for federal civil rights cases. Huether & the police chief are already named in a suit. Home Rule must go not only because it’s not democracy but also because it has to.

  10. pathloss on December 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm said:

    Good article & commentary. Lengthy horn guy but I read and reread it. Last paragraph sums it well.

  11. When the lights go out for good Mike, you and Denny got some explainin to do.

    That’s the most frustrating aspect of this situation. We have a so-called 4th estate here in SF. It’s called the argus leader. The spotlight of their scam should have been called out by them long ago. But no. If I want to learn the true nature of these crooks, I gotta read about it in the StarTribune.

    Instead, all we EVER get is fluff pieces like what we seen once again the argus. Remember argus, the lights are gonna go out for you too. Prolly sooner than later.

  12. “And yet time and again, the most vociferous defenders of those elected officials that support and implement policies that are harmful to the have nots and have somes are people in those very groups.”

    Because the have somes think they are going to be the have lots someday. I see and work with these people everyday. Busting their asses and kissing everyone elses in hopes they can get to the top of the ladder. The only people who have money in this town have either scammed it or inherited it, and I don’t seeing that changing anytime soon.

  13. LJL – I love that quote, I told it to a former employer once who was all high and mighty but spent the money he inherited foolishly daily. He fired me the next day.

  14. Titleist on December 21, 2013 at 6:30 pm said:

    LJL: Judge not, lest you be judged. Matt Chapter 7 Verse 1-5; Luke Chapter 6 verse 35-38.

  15. Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.

    Proverbs 22:16

  16. here is a list of things he has sold the public on;

    • Union supporter….

    The key word here is public, not the actual card carrying union members. If he ran for an office only the 1400 city employees could vote in, he’d lose by 600 votes….1000 to 400, and that’s being overly optimistic with his chances.

  17. Titleist

    Sinless I am not. I make no excuses for mine own soul, I got some purgatory coming to me.

    BUT…Scamming and stealing the poor is lowest of the low and a non starter when thinking your heavenly bound.

  18. Titleist on December 21, 2013 at 11:59 pm said:

    LJL: I thought that your previous post suggested you were ashamed to see him in your church and suggested he was not among the righteous. Truth is, church is right where a sinner needs to be. Any sinner of whatever type.

  19. Titleist, that is why I don’t go 🙂

  20. Testor15 on December 22, 2013 at 11:05 am said:

    Titleist, my Dad used to have a words about the Goers, Show’rs, Believers and Don’ts.

    Some people go because they always have.
    Some people go to the “right church” because they have to be seen.
    Some people go to church because they really live their lives in true belief.
    Some people don’t go because they cannot tolerate the hypocrisy surrounding them.
    Some find a better class of people within themselves and don’t need the BS.
    And some just don’t want to go for all their own reasons.

    My Dad was not a church goer but he was one of the most moral people I ever knew. He had his quirks but don’t we all…

    I recently heard about the high city official who proudly lets everyone who visits his corner office see his book of 365 devotionals on his very clean desk. My parents taught me to be very leery of those who have to show you their pious sides versus letting their silent actions speak for them. What a showboat…

  21. anonymous on December 22, 2013 at 11:44 am said:

    Finally, Titleist actually has an opinion on something other than a 20 million dollar INDOOR swimming pool!

  22. Stiles Bitchley on December 22, 2013 at 1:25 pm said:

    DL – you said:

    “The only people who have money in this town have either scammed it or inherited it, and I don’t seeing that changing anytime soon.”

    Do you REALLY believe this or is this another example of your diarrhea of the mouth?

  23. Titleist on December 22, 2013 at 3:08 pm said:

    I support an indoor PUBLIC pool. I also support the expansion of Great Bear.

  24. Very good post on our mayor, I will not vote for him but hold my breath when I VOTE FOR JAMISON.I find it very interesting we have no canidate thaat represents the working class .This guy says he wants to represent every one, meanig the well off.

  25. Stiles – Where you been lately, I miss your bullshit insults. When I talk ‘money’ I’m not talking about the handful of attorneys and doctors in town that do better then the average bear. I’m talking ‘real’ money.

  26. 85th stuckee on December 22, 2013 at 10:19 pm said:

    2009 I remember when the Landscape Garden Center nursery on minn was going to become more housing, the next day the mayor got the real set of plans for the nursery to become a memory center and he had the deer lost in the headlight look and asked, how did they do that. Was a loop hole for developers, then guess what we had Shape Places stuck to us. We have had some of the worst zoning in the past year as a result of this idiot and Staggers who last Tuesday had to tell us all the ordinances are nothing, they change them all the time. Can anyone in their right mind see how the city of SIoux Falls would have been developed over the past 30 or 20 years with this kind of mentality the city council and the mayor and toss the city attorney in as well has right now. The corner at 85th and minn is who has the most money, the corner at 85th and western, fill your pockets kermit and mike. May as well tell Ronning across the steet to get the big expensive apts on Parkwood Estates built. Why would anyone build a house within 3 miles of this crap hole city with the current idiots at the helm. I will vote for Jamison as he understands zoning and the issue that we cannot allow the mayor and the developers to keep lying about lot development in town.

  27. Little point going to church if you can’t have the decency to not screw over the poor.

    There are some who believe their mere presence in the church relieves them of their sins. Just another crib catholic fool who believes telling a priest cleans your soul. Your forgiven of nothing if you truly do not repent your sin. I’m fairly certain Mr. Huether believes his church going is just “good PR”.

    Testors father had it right on the categories. I myself don’t go every week, which is a sin in itself. I go when I think I may need an “attitude adjustment”. In my opinion you don’t have to be a church goer or believe in Christ to be righteous. Having faith is more about the faith in yourself to do the right thing towards others and not about making a personal appearances on Sunday.

    Praying on the down and out, funneling public money for your personal hobbies and using his office for making easy insider money is a good example of a bad soul. It’s pseudo-Christians like Huether that adds fuel to the fire for those who want to cast us all into the same lot.

    His and Denny’s picture should be used by this webpage.

    Maybe I should be happy I see him in the adjoining pew. He reminds me, I’m not so bad after all.

  28. OH BTW………………….

    Merry CHRISTMAS to all of you.

    Yes even you Rufux.

    From: Your Resident evil, right wing christian conservative zealot


  29. Stiles Bitchley on December 22, 2013 at 11:35 pm said:

    DL – never insulting, just observing. I’ve been busy living life but do periodically stroll through the ‘cola pages when I need a good laugh. Keep the faith brother — the world needs all kinds.

  30. Alice15 on December 23, 2013 at 2:54 pm said:

    The main thing that so many keep saying is “but Huether has done so much for this city,” ie the EC. The comment was then made “yes, but has he done this ethically?” The comment is then “what politician is ethical anymore?” It is a sad time my friends. People have lost hope in those in public service and take unethical as part of the package. If I were in office, I would be embarrassed at this perception that is now painted, but they are not. They have made it work in their mind and somehow they sleep at night that they have allowed this on their watch.

  31. pathloss on December 23, 2013 at 8:35 pm said:

    Peace everyone. Its Christmas. No matter about your belief. This is a time when everyone sees good. There’s hope into 2014. There’s a chance to unelect Huether. I worry the election will be rigged like for the EC vote. It bothers me that I see what’s happening & there’s no way to stop it. Still, I find comfort that so many here see what I’ve known for awhile.

  32. pathloss on December 23, 2013 at 9:06 pm said:

    I stopped at Kmart today. Gifts for a niece & nephew.
    Parents shopping at last minute sales. Lots of toys left on shelves. Lots of grab & put back. I could tell people just got off work & trying to make some sort of Christmas for their kids. Sad when the $20 toy was put back & the $5 toy chosen. Sadder at the register when their credit card was declined. It’s a few haves and a majority of have nots in this town. Money is a score for the haves and hard to come by for the majority. I’d be ashamed were I Huether. The have nots pay taxes, most of them. Huether embezzels it for his sloth. Some goes into indoor sports we can’t afford or are restricted from. I love this city but I’m ashamed to live here.

  33. Anyone catch this tid bit in the bird cage liner called the Argus.

    Sounds like a low life credit card tactic of bait and switch. The city couldn’t fulfill their promised snow removal because of the weather. OH THE IRONY

    As I’ve said before. If you’ve got elderly living near you help them out. In our last house we had an elderly couple for neighbors. He was a drunk who could barley manage to stay alive and she was smaller than a shovel. She got stuck in their driveway one day so I began snow-blowing their driveway. I was never without homemade chocolate chip cookies again.

  34. LJL…:)

  35. DL: “The only people who have money in this town have either scammed it or inherited it”

    DL: “When I talk ‘money’ I’m not talking about the handful of attorneys and doctors in town that do better then the average bear. I’m talking ‘real’ money.”

    DL, I’d just remind you that those who run around proving to the world how wealthy they are are only a small fraction of those with that level of disposable income. The Sanfords and Kirbys of the world are actually fairly atypical, whereas the typical person with a net worth in excess of seven figures passes amongst society barely noticed. That is precisely why they have such wealth in the first place.

    If you really believe your statement that the only people who have that level of money either scammed it or inherited it, well that suggests to me you are much more disconnected than I previously thought.

    I know several very wealthy people – money far above the levels of a typical doctor or lawyer, and I can guarantee most people have no idea they even exist. One example owns a very impressive home here in Sioux Falls but aside from that lives a rather normal life. No Italian sports cars or trips to Venice (even though they could afford both) and the kids attend public school.

    Another owns a nice home here, and two others in various vacation destinations. His net worth is easily eight figures and grows much faster than he will ever spend it, but if you met the guy you would probably find him wearing a flannel shirt with a zip up fleece vest as he climbs into his chevy pickup.

    The thing is, I personally don’t know a wealthy person who inherited everything, nor do I know of anyone who scammed it. Those that I know basically built their wealth themselves. Most are small business owners who turned those businesses into not so small businesses. Some were involved in agriculture, and some involved in finance and investments.

    I get the impression you would like to put all wealthy people in a bucket and pretend they were either unethical, just lucky, or had things given to them. It is almost as if you are trying to justify your bias in some regard my minimilizing what some wealthy people have done on their own.

    All I can say is, don’t judge everyone based upon the few wealthy people you are aware of, because that is akin to claiming the library lacks worthwhile literature merely because they happen to have a copy of Sarah Palin’s ‘Going Rogue’ on the shelf.

  36. Fair enough Craig, but you also have to take into account the prehistoric employment laws in SD have made it very easy for ‘small business’ owners to make money by skimping on wages. I can’t speak for investment bankers though.

  37. Nothing like opening our only daily on Christmas and reading these puff pieces. T Denny as Santa Claus. I feel sorry for the graphic designer that had to create that image:

    I have no doubt in my mind that the mayor cares about people, he just cares about someone else a little more.

  38. some involved in finance and investments.

    Ya spose? Of course Joe and Jane Sixpack had to bail out the banking industry to keep em afloat six years ago. Now in the last 5 years the DJIA has doubled. Can Joe and Jane say that about their salaries? Not hardly. Keep in mind, while a few are rich, there are over 34,000 jobs in SF that pay less than $11.12 an hour. Over 60,000 that pay less than $14.00 an hour. So while Wall Street flourishes, Joe and Jane experience the misery index. A Two tiered economic system brought to you by Wall Street and your friendly banker.

  39. DL, before this thread moves on to your back pages, just one thing I got to say about your post 37 and stu whitney.

    From the stu whitney article.

    Four hundred million he gave, right out of the gate,
    From handing dim deadbeats a high interest rate.

    Whitney is a clueless jerk. If he read anything besides sky force and detroit lion box scores, he’d know the credit card reform act was passed for a reason. It is no secret, at least outside the SF media area, t dennys scam was a major player in enacting that law.

    One nice thing about whitney. He’s only 46. Long before he thinks of retirement, he’ll get his walking papers from the argus when they go belly up. Then we will see who the dim deadbeat is.

  40. anonymous2 on December 29, 2013 at 2:18 pm said:

    FP/Sanford had an opportunity to really do something for the economy of this region. It/he had the cash flow (just plain old cash) to raise wages for his employees and raise the wage bar for all wages here–put those wages into the entire regional economy. Did he do that? No. That is not enough for big egos.

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