Why doesn’t Central District City Councilor Michelle Erpenbach have a challenger?

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It was sure nice of Michelle to moderate a coffee for citizen advocate Cheryl Rath

We will get to the video in a moment.

Let’s first talk about Michelle’s record over the past four years on the city council. I am amazed when I see the other crowded council races and Erpenbach not having a challenger.

There is a lot of factors involved. Maybe some voters don’t know who she is, or what district she represents (Central) maybe they don’t know she is up for re-election? Either way, let’s look at her record;

• She has approved countless TIF’s for things like luxury hotels, condos and big box retail, taking money not only out of the city coffers but public education and the county’s judicial system.

• She has vehemently opposed transparency in the TIF application process (listing investors) Her donor list is full of TIF grantees*

• *She has taken donations from not only people who don’t even live in her district, but are clearly the top tier of ‘Special Interests’ in Sioux Falls.

• As the city council representative on the affordable housing board, she approved a loan to developer Ken Dunlap, the Planning Commission Chair, a clear conflict of interest.

• City debt has jumped almost $125 million in the past 4 years (sits at about $400 million), the council has to approve all expenditures the mayor’s office proposes (to put it in perspective the total city debt when Hanson left office was $99 million, when Munson left office it was $277 million).

• Erpenbach ignored her fellow councilors and put a $60,000 film projector expense on the agenda without consensus of the rest of the council for a private non-profit that has already received over $100K from the city. She often made decisions as council chair without input from the rest of the council.

• Erpenbach CENSORED and limited public testimony on a snowgate joint election with the school district (which would ironically only cost HALF of what a film projector does.) and postponed the vote for another year (if snowgates would have passed in the proposed election, they would be in full use this winter).

• She was the driving force behind the termination of city clerk Debra Owen, which resulted in having her replaced with three full-time employees. Ironically the reason Owen was fired was because they felt she wasn’t performing her duties as a ‘manager’ ironically, the people she ‘managed’ are still employed by the city. This was a clear witch-hunt and should have been discussed in the public square, to which the Open Meetings commission reprimanded the city attorney and city council for their actions.

• Erpenbach pushed for the Sioux Falls texting ban ordinance even after the state highway patrol and city police chief advised against it. Why? While it is blatantly obvious that texting and driving should be banned, #1 The state laws already existed (if you get in an accident while texting, you are charged with distracted or reckless driving, even without a texting ban) #2 This is clearly a state law issue and something a municipality should stay out of due to uniformity in state police reports, etc.

It is clear that Michelle has little knowledge of how to be a city legislator, and works strictly from her ‘personal agenda’. Special Interests and ‘feel good’ ordinances that only sugar coat the real job of a city councilor; representing the public’s best interests and doing it while being prudent with their tax dollars.

If anyone wants to run against Michelle, you will have my FULL support and expertise (I have followed city government for about 12 years and blogged about it for almost 10 years, I don’t think I have missed a public meeting in those 10 years.)

THE VIDEO

This is from almost two years ago (March 2012). Ironically, Rath had to jump in several times and correct Erpenbach on many issues, remember, Rath is a citizen advocate, not an elected official, or city employee. At one point, Michelle gave her her own microphone and told her to ‘hold on to it.’ Also remember that this was two years into Michelle’s term, Michelle wasn’t NEW to city business, she assisted with Community Gardens and sat on the Parks Board prior to being city councilor. There hasn’t been a ‘Coffee’ since with Erpenbach.

Some highlights from the video;

They got into a discussion about the ‘consent agenda’ on the city council meeting’s agenda, Michelle claimed that “You will see EVERY contract for the Event Center construction on that list.”

Of course we know that, that was side stepped by hiring a construction manager who keeps all those ‘little things’ secret.

Admits that TIF’s are a “Sweet Deal” for developers, referring to the soil remediation of the Hilton/CNA, parking ramp demolition by Lloyd.

Says that she tends to “Ignore the Planning Commission.”

She admits that while she was on the Community Gardens board that they were in violation of city ordinance and were unaware of it.

Claims that the EC contractors will be responsible for any cost overruns when it comes to the rock borings for the footings and any miscalculations. Ironically, the EC’s expansion was scaled back to 14,000 seats instead of 15,000 like promised in the campaign, due to rock borings.

She says as a council they MUST approve the mayor’s agenda, contracts, etc.

Admits the council doesn’t bring forth much legislation. Huh?! Isn’t that the job of the council? To be the legislative body?

Erpenbach famously calls the river the ‘Big Poo’ in one breath (in reference to the sewer backup problems) then in another breath justifies using the Morrell’s EPA fine/penalty money for environmental cleanup of the river to use for brick and mortar for the river greenway instead of actual cleanup.

Michelle has been more then a seat warmer on the council (Rolfing & Karsky come to mind) she has been damaging to our community’s reputation as a fair, transparent and fiscally prudent government, she has worked against all of these things over the past 4 years, and has taken her marching orders from big development and special interests.

It’s time we hand her her walking papers.



7 comments ↓

#1 Poly43 on 02.10.14 at 8:35 pm

The last time erp ran, in the 2010 city election, the central district was double digit percentage points behind several precincts outside the interstate beltway in turnout. Even more troubling is the fact that one in six of the 4380 some who did vote, marked NOTHING down between Theresa and erp. Most working poor just do not have the time to research issues. If central district voters had just a little time to read this blog, erp would lose by 30 percentage points.

#2 Jim Norton on 02.10.14 at 10:19 pm

Word is Daniel Willard is going to jump in that race

#3 Titleist on 02.10.14 at 11:22 pm

Erpenbach pushed for the Sioux Falls texting ban ordinance even after the state highway patrol and city police chief advised against it. Why? While it is blatantly obvious that texting and driving should be banned, #1 The state laws already existed (if you get in an accident while texting, you are charged with distracted or reckless driving, even without a texting ban) #2 This is clearly a state law issue and something a municipality should stay out of due to uniformity in state police reports, etc

Statewide texting ban passed out of House Judiciary Committee today. Thanks to the pressure of the many South Dakota citizens and communities that passed such bans to encourage safer driving. Finally got the State moving. Passed unanimously. Similar to the proposed ban that was tubed last year. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Brian Gosch of Rapid City (and Tea Party favorite?) had to completely gut his bill (which until last week sought to prevent local governments from enacting texting bans.) Political pressure changed the bill. Common sense changed the bill. Don’t text and drive! Progress. Thanks, for the leadership Michelle.

#4 l3wis on 02.11.14 at 1:48 am

Daniel Willard?! Gawd help us.

My point was that Erpenbach tends to get embroiled in issues that are clearly legislator issues. I said all along instead of creating an ordinance (that is moot) they should have ramped up an education program about texting and driving, something they promised after passing the ordinance but have yet to do. I haven’t seen one billboard, radio or TV ad telling the good folks of SF that texting and driving is illegal.

#5 Titleist on 02.12.14 at 5:02 pm

From KELO-LAND:

PIERRE, SD –
The South Dakota House has passed a statewide texting ban.

Legislators have voted 53-17 in support of the measure. It would allow law enforcement to charge texting drivers a $25 fine if they’ve been pulled over for another violation.

The bill also includes funding for a public information campaign.

Supporters of the measure say the ban and education campaign will be enough to discourage many drivers from texting.

Critics say local governments should retain the right to make their own driving ordinances. The bill would supplant other local policies on texting while driving.

Even some supporters of the measure say they hope an amendment will be added to return some authority to local governments.

The measure now goes on to the state’s Senate for review

#6 l3wis on 02.12.14 at 9:16 pm

Public education, DUH.

Makes sense? Right? Or maybe instead of educating, let’s say women about Breast Cancer and mammograms, maybe we should write them a ticket for not getting them at a certain age?

#7 testor15 on 02.13.14 at 9:01 am

“The bill also includes funding for a public information campaign.”

I suppose Lawrence and Schiller gets the media buys?