It’s Sunshine Week, or at least that’s what our local newspaper is telling us. They have been having fun setting up â€˜scenarios’ when it comes to closed government in our state and city, but scenarios are not necessary, our closed government is all around us and not something to pretend about;
City of Sioux Falls
– The city council and public still have not received a contractor list of who built the Events Center. The council has been asking directors and the mayor for this list for almost two years.
– The Event Center siding consultant report has still not been released to the public or the council. In fact we have been told very little with the year deadline for a resolution looming in August. Officials with SMG and the city building department have said that the building is â€˜water tight’ and the bent up siding makes the building look â€˜interesting’. What will be â€˜interesting’ is to see who will pay to fix the mess.
– Nobody is quite sure how many developers have been denied TIF applications (by the mayor’s office) over the past 27 months. Speaking of TIF’s one wonders if the mayor is picking winners and losers based on his personal investments with developers? Good luck finding out, the mayor doesn’t have to disclose his development investments with the public.
-The city council was asked to vote on the ambulance contract without seeing the scoring procedures or criteria and essentially created a monopoly in the city limits with little transparency in the process.
-We have NO idea what is going on with the RR relocation project, a project that will potentially cost Federal taxpayers $30 million dollars.
-While a proposed indoor aquatic center gets smaller and gets more expensive there has been no word as to why and where all the amentities promised before the election disappeared to AND we still don’t have and MOU on the Quit Claim deed from the VA, but the city attorney says he is â€˜working on it’.
Minnehaha County Commission
-Besides the fact the appointment process for John Pekas’ replacement was behind closed doors, the appointee comes into question, Jean Bender, wife of major Sioux Falls developer, Michael Bender, and conflicts of interest. Especially after the joint city council and commission recently denied a CUP for a solar development farm that Mr. Bender and his group were appealing. Jean was not in attendance to the meeting, but one wonders about future zoning issues concerning her husband’s business? This isn’t like a county sheriff’s wife is running a city owned cafÃ©, there is a heckuva a lot more at stake here then ice cream cones and turkey wraps.
Sioux Falls School Board
-Now that they have the future Superintendent list down to six finalists, the public still is not able to vet the finalists in a public forum. This coming from a school board that only listens to the public when a referendum is threatening them or if they are getting death threats. And even with the looming election they are skating on thin ice with state election law by promoting opposition to the late start date using teachers and administrative staff during business and school hours which is against state campaign laws.
As you can see from these â€˜few’ examples, there is no reason to setup scenarios of the lack of transparency. It’s very dark in Sioux Falls, and the sun isn’t coming out anytime soon and neither is the truth.