An Unjust Ending to the Bunker Ramp Debacle

As I suspected yesterday, an announcement was made that a settlement was reached in the Bunker Ramp debacle.

But was it a good settlement for the taxpayers? Hardly.

Fortunately the only good thing to come from today’s announcement is that it is finally over and it took a mayor almost his entire first term to write a check from our bank account to a failed developer who defrauded us.

The developer(s) didn’t do it on their own, they had the help of two mayors and several former and current city councilors who have yet to apologize to us for the terrible decision they made based on fraudulent information and even obvious information that investing with this group was a bad idea.

I remember sitting in the council chambers listening to citizen (item #44) after citizen come to the podium and plead with the city council to not do this. But even after that initial approval, a second mayor had an opportunity to undue the bad decision of the last mayor and councilors.

He chose to steam ahead because the banksters and bondsters involved needed to make their buck from the bonds. We could have refused the bond and paid a fine and moved on.

Councilors Starr and Stehly tried to do just that and were scoffed at. I told Starr today if any taxpayer asks you about why this sloppy settlement was done this way all he has to say is, “I didn’t vote for it. Go talk to the councilors that did.”

But what makes this announcement even more egregious is listening to what the city attorney and mayor said about the settlement;

“For that reason, the settlement agreement includes reimbursement of $500,000 from the city of Sioux Falls to VRG for a portion of the hard costs it’s leaving on-site, and reimbursement of the $150,000 developer fee previously paid to the city,” TenHaken said.

What about the additional costs to taxpayers to seal off empty floors with cinder block since the developer never finished the project?

Also our litigations costs of $300K.

And why are we paying those costs and the cost of the settlement out of, I am assuming, the general fund? Shouldn’t it come out of the Parking Enterprise funds?

Like I said, glad this is finally kind of over with (we still need to find someone to complete it) but the way this was handled says tons and tons about how the majority of the city council and this mayor has ran this city the past four years . . . on perpetual cruise control and little else.



17 comments ↓

#1 anominous on 03.19.22 at 12:52 pm

ok so the zipline bs is starting to make sense now, it starts at the top of the bunker ramp and goes over the arc of dreams, over the falls, over the new swine tarps, down to the seasonal leaf and yard waste drop off site

#2 Very Stable Genius on 03.19.22 at 1:29 pm

It’s like a divorce settlement except you are left with a kid you don’t want. AND, as they often say, it’s a face that only a mother could love, but in this case, there were a lot of mothers involved.

( and Woodstock adds: “Ya, the Bunker Ramp is also a lot like a mullet”…. “It’s business on the Northside and failure on the Southside”…. )

#3 Mike Lee Zitterich on 03.19.22 at 5:48 pm

Let’s look at who voted for and accepted the terms thus agreeing with allowing the previous mayor, Mike Huether to furthermore, sell municipal revenue bonds, while restricting the the second penny sales tax (capital improvement tax) – Christine M. Erickson (2018), Michelle Erpenbach, Rick Kiley (2018), Greg Neitzert (2020), Rex Rolfing, Marshall Selberg (2020), 6. The lone “No” vote was by Theresa Stehly who did not agree with, nor support the allowance of allowing the city to sell bonds, let alone bind them to the second penny sales tax. Pat Starr was present, but excused himself completely from the discussion, and did not vote on the issuance of the revenue bonds.

Those City Councilors whose names I listed in ‘green’ were reaffirmed by being re-elected thus confirming the residents within their districts, or the city confirmed they respected, and consented to the decisions they fully make as part of the governing body, while councilor Theresa Stehly was voted off the city council, while councilman Pat Starr who had excused himself from any such discussion, was also re-elected to a second term, thus the people confirmed that the residents of his district fully consent to his voting record as well, while of those ‘yes voters’ two members of the council were term limited and could not seek another term at that time. So of the six city councilors who voted for and supported the agreement – I would make the assessment that the “Residents” overwhelmingly supported, and consented to such agreement being agreed to, yet alone – no resident came forward to ‘refer’ the ordinance(s) to a public vote of the electors to not proceed with the projects, while the lone ‘no’ vote did not get re-elected to a second term.

#4 David Z for Mayor on 03.19.22 at 11:46 pm

This project was an overpriced scam from the beginning. Citizens complained but were powerless to stop it.

#5 Mikey Time for Excuses on 03.20.22 at 9:05 am

I really like when a guy named mike shows up to work so hard to rationalize bad decisions in order to protect his heros. It really makes a brain twist in the wind. There were so many people who voted on the secret decision to build a parking ramp / building in a spot the experts said not to place one. The killers of Ethan were allowed to continue a long drawn out multi-year plan to reshape the block. The killers of Ethan were allowed to build a cheap looking, cheaply constructed building on spot where Ethan died while breaking the law they were excused from by bankruptcy. An expensive parking ramp was built at such a high cost it will now take all parking reserve fund s and then take 2nd penny away from the infrastructure necessary to keep up with the poorly managed growth our Chinese servant mayor is encouraging. We don’t have enough places for the new technology and warehouse jobs we might yet get. Our property taxes have had to increase because our growth for growth’s sake has placed such a burden on the city, we have no chose but break every budget. So Mikey and ElevenHaken, make all the excuses and brag about phony construction numbers in order to win another battle as you lose the war.

#6 Wager on 03.20.22 at 9:57 am

Should we wager on who get the development project or on how long it takes for the COS’ “former” employer to finally get their project?

#7 Jon on 03.20.22 at 4:34 pm

Really wish the Feds would take a look at some of the corruption in this local government. This is getting ridiculous at this point. They are basically flaunting it.

#8 Mike Lee Zitterich on 03.20.22 at 7:38 pm

It is time to be Postive, no time to be Negative.

A good friend of mine Bill Nees once told me – “If it must be, it must start with me”

IF you want to change how we govern, then it must start with you to change your approach, make a difference, and start to make a difference.

#9 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 03.20.22 at 8:14 pm

I recently had a dream that prankster mirrors were placed on the Bunker Ramp’s southside, which caused sunlight to be beamed directly at Taupeville, which then fried them. I then awoke to a cold sweat, looked at my clock, but then decided to go back to bed and watch this event later on TV….. These cold sweats often come from my prophetic nature.

#10 fuzzy math on 03.21.22 at 12:57 pm

I have to disagree with Mr. Z’s assessment the residents endorsed this nightmare when, as i recall, the only people in favor of this during the readings were the mayor, the councilors you reference above, and the ketcham clown from planning who went to work for the developers. the citizens were overwhelmingly not in favor of this but were all deemed to be stupid and naive. i know, i engaged in a conversation with my councilor and the at large councilors on this. on the subject of increased parking, i was told my math was “not how other cities with projects like this calculate spots gained.” the current mayor did, in fact, have the ability to hit the brakes on this. i’m wondering if an individual citizen, or collective of citizens, could sue the individuals on the council and in the administration(s) who pushed this debacle on us. I’m not saying sue the city, but sue the idiots who are actually responsible for this. 20 million seems about right. it’s good to dream, right?

#11 Mike Lee Zitterich on 03.21.22 at 3:05 pm

Fuzzy Math,

I thank you for a respectful opinion opposed to my assessment of the situation. While we both can agree, this is a bad deal all around, I am also trying to find some sense of positive from within it, and we got to move forward.

I posted only a part of what my overall opinion and assessment was, I provided Scott an email prior just so people know what my over all assessment is.

What I beleive happened here was, prior to the current Mayor taking office – the BONDS were already sold, and collected by the “City” on or before April 1st. There is no way to argue this – this project was rushed by the previous administration, knowing there would be nothing the next mayor or council could do about it.

When Bonds are sold, there is a legal obligation made between both parties to pay off the notes. The CAFR report that came out April of 2017 listed the BONDS as being received, and project did actually start days prior Paul TenHaken taking the oath of office. At that point he could NOT stop the project. He could suspend it, yes. But, the potential of the lawsuit was looming.

4 of the Council Members got re-elected in 2018 – this is where I draw my assessment that “residents” supported the decisions of those counclors, by doing so, they consent to their decisions.

IF the “Residents” did not consent, they should have ‘referred’ the ordinance(s) to a public vote to vote it down. They had until December 25th of 2017 – When residents allow for the ordinances to go into effect, they automatically “Consent” by default.

Christine Erickson, Greg Neitzert, Rick Kiley, Marshall Selberg all ‘voted’ for the ordinances, they were each overwhelmingly re-elected by the residents…

Theresa Stehly opposed it, was the lone NO vote, she lost her re-election, even though I supported her, she lost by 9 votes, that tells you the people may or may not have supported her decisions made. (just my opinion).

Pat Starr – removed himself from the discussion, he left the chamber room, and did not vote on the ordinances, any of them. He to was elected by the residents, he did not even have a challenger.

So when I say the “Residents” supported the Council’s decision, I am looking at the fact the residents voted 5-1 to support them, their decisions made, maintaining the status quo.

I know you all do not like me saying this all the time, but LAND OWNERS carry a lot of weight in this town, always have, they are also the ones who BUY those Bonds, a good majority of them that is. The Landowners purchased those BONDs to build an “ASSET” that drives up the value of the land itself.

I apologize for a lengthly response, but I wante to respectfully respond to your comments to better explain my thoughts, since you were respectful in responding to my original comments.

Thank You,
Mike Zitterich

#12 l3wis on 03.21.22 at 5:27 pm

The mayor could have revoked the bonds and the city would have had to pay a fine, but it would have been better then a $26 million dollar ramp with no tenant. If we would have stopped we would now have a plot of land we could do anything with but now we have to build it around this monstrosity.

“4 of the Council Members got re-elected in 2018 – this is where I draw my assessment that “residents” supported the decisions of those counclors, by doing so, they consent to their decisions.”

That is complete BS, just because I may vote for someone that does not mean I support all of their decisions. That’s like saying if I accept a free lunch I will eat everything on the plate even if I hate one of the sides.

#13 Mike Lee Zitterich on 03.21.22 at 9:36 pm

Scott, when you vote the for same people time and time again, you consent to the policies they vote for. The status quo remains intact, and the same policies get adopted time and time again. The point I stressed was this — If you want the council to change their opinions, their strategy, their mindset, then you got to change the body often as necessary to force the change to occur. 2) if the people are not willing to petiton to refer ordinances to a public vote, thus directly asking for an opinion of the people, end up consenting to the status quo even more so, and 3) if you want to change the process, you must vote out incumbants every two years.

You all speak on term limits will change everything, but yet when it comes to doing your job of holding these governing bodies accountable, you fail at the most important job “WE” gave you to do – Voting Out Representatives every two years. Term limits are not the answer, not the end all, they will bring more issues, but most important is how ‘we’ vote today is how we hold the representatives accountable. If you cant do that, then change will never happen.

You cant blame the Council for our problems, when you cannot first blame yourself for not doing your job today.

That was the point I was trying to make.

#14 Further Fear & Loathing on 03.22.22 at 2:16 pm

Do you guys remember when Daugaard (2012) claimed that all of his referendums and initiatives failed because the voters were too lazy to ready the AG explanations on the ballot, or to even bother to vote on issues found on page two of the ballot? Well, I hate to say it, but at times the voters are stupid, or a majority can be.

#15 scott on 03.22.22 at 2:18 pm

to paraphrase mike z, we have this turd, we need to polish it.

#16 Mike Lee Zitterich on 03.22.22 at 6:04 pm

The new parking will be just fine. Lets be positive and begin to make plans to finish what we started.

#17 anominous on 03.23.22 at 7:59 pm

i never pay an institution’s parking fee. i do not recognize their authority to tax MY RIGHT to park. and everyday that i exit The Man’s parking structure unticketed i become more powerful