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 AffairsÂ reports that credit cards from First Premier can come with up to $180 in start up fees. Here’s a breakdown:
â€¢ Account set-up fee: $29 (one-time fee)
â€¢ Program fee: $95 (one-time fee)
â€¢ Annual fee: $48
â€¢ Participation fee: $72 annually
â€¢ Additional card fee: $20 (if applicable)
â€¢ Transaction fee for cash advances: Greater of $5 or 3% of the cash advance
â€¢ Credit limit increase fee: $25
â€¢ Return item charge: $25
â€¢ Auto draft charge: $5/$9 per draft
â€¢ Express delivery fee: $25 for cards sent Express Mail
â€¢ Copying fee: $3 per item
â€¢ 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;
â€¢ His election
â€¢ The Events Center
â€¢ Union supporter
â€¢ Best damn storm cleaner upper in the world
â€¢ 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.” -Â 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