Besides an absent mayor and supplemental appropriations coming out of our ears at the city council meeting tonight, the council asked planning staff why they are continuing to tell applicants not to show up until 2nd reading.

We have suspected for awhile they were doing this and the council has nicely asked them to stop doing it, privately, that all changed tonight.

A planning staffer, Fletcher, that is a little green while addressing councilors, admitted tonight that he told the applicants to not bother showing up to the meeting until 2nd reading when the county commission will also be attendance (has to do with joint jurisdiction).

That was a mistake. Some councilors were very perturbed about it. Fletcher’s boss(?) Sam from Planning tried to deflect what Fletcher admitted claiming that since the county commission was not there, there was no point for the applicants to attend.

Wrong person to defend the position. Sam has dropped the ball so many times when it comes to open meetings and posting agendas incorrectly he is the last person to talk about open public meetings and when it is proper to attend them.

Councilor Starr wasn’t having it, telling the mayor and planning staff that they are on notice and they better not get caught doing it again (even though they will probably do it again tomorrow with zero consequences).

I often tell people, show up to the 1st reading, you get 3 minutes to dissent and you never know, you may bring up something the council will consider between the 1st and 2nd readings that will benefit your position.

It is pretty obvious planning staff is dong this ON PURPOSE! The city is ran by an authoritarian regime that must squash all dissent and I have no doubt this directive came from the corner office, or whatever playground he is doing jumping jacks on that day.

Recently I mentioned what the business elite call pro-democracy, politically involved, regular middle class folks; special interests. It was startling because the mayor recently used the term to describe certain folks who were promoting the original sustainability program. There have been other regular folks who have individually advocated for changes to 14th street, public art, and even riding E2s on the bike trail. While I have no problem with being called a special interest (I have always thought I was special 🙂 I am only an individual looking out for my personal interest, so am I really a special interest?;

What are considered special interest groups?

A special interest group (SIG) is a community within a larger organization with a shared interest in advancing a specific area of knowledge, learning or technology where members cooperate to affect or to produce solutions within their particular field, and may communicate, meet, and organize conferences.

There are broader explanations of the specific groups, but nowhere does it say an individual who walks to the podium at a council meeting an airs their views about a city issue makes them a special interest.

A better term would be citizen advocate;

Citizen advocacy is when you work with a member of the community who volunteers their time to advocate for local people. Citizen advocates usually work with those who would otherwise find it challenging to speak up for their own rights, views and wishes. Your relationship with a citizen advocate can be long-term.

So why is this important? Many times elected leaders put labels on people who just want the city to be better. They don’t belong to some group that is trying to undermine the government of Sioux Falls, the politicians are already doing a fine job of that themselves. They are just practicing their 1st Amendment Rights of dissenting the government.

So do we have a special interest problem in Sioux Falls? We do. But it has nothing to do with Gladys complaining about loud music at the park, they have specific names like the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, Sanford Hospital, Development Foundation, Housing Association, Retailers Association, etc.

The mayor is calling Gladys a special interest because he is trying to deflect the REAL issue with REAL special interests in our community, like developers giving thousands of dollars to PACS which get funneled to the special candidates (rubber stampers).

So in conclusion, Gladys is a citizen advocate, banking executives and development company owners are special interests. Don’t believe what the Dutch Mafia tells you.

Even as he is walking out the door today, he still doesn’t understand the document he took an oath on, neither does our Sioux Falls mayor;

In 2021 a similar protest was held and they did not acquire the proper permit to host a gathering. The same is true for Tuesday’s march, and they’ve stated that is an intentional choice.

“It’s not a law it’s a policy. It’s used for parades and other celebrations. This is not a celebration. This is direct action, and we didn’t file a permit for a reason. We didn’t need to. This is our land,” Red Bear said.

While we can go into the tit for tat about who’s land it is, Rapid City is an American city governed by the US Constitution, the State Constitution and whatever rag the city charter is written on.

Protesting is protected speech and you don’t need a permit. Maybe someone needs to tell the new mayor about that document he took an oath on. It’s kinda important.

UPDATE: It took almost 2 weeks to massage the numbers and hand them over to the safety of the Stormland TV news room;

The city of Sioux Falls secured a $166 million state revolving loan for its $215 million wastewater sewer expansion project, and that loan was based on sewer rates that exist today, said Jourdyn Brown, a communications official for the city’s public works department.

If you read the article you will see that we will be paying about $34 million in interest which brings the total cost of the project to $249 million (according to what the city is saying today). So it is NOT $300 million, but it certainly isn’t $200 million. This part is also revealing;

St. Louis-based McCarthy is the construction manager for the project or contractor at risk and includes a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) with an amendment.

A GMP is the most a contractor could charge for its portion of the project.

Uh, not quite, because according to GMP standards;

Contractors are responsible for any cost overruns beyond the maximum price unless there are changes to the project design or scope.

And this is how contractors on other city owned facilities have been able to go over the GMP, once the scope or design changes they can automatically tack on more. While I would be thrilled to death if we kept the project to $249 Million I have a feeling this is NOT the final number but I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was a liar.


We will get into the tit for tat in a minute, but first I was a little taken back when Paul said this about Stehly’s comments on the wastewater treatment plant;

“There are certain people that need to be responded to. When you stand up, especially as someone who has served in city government, and just spew inaccuracies and lies, I’m not just going to sit there and not respond to it,” he said. “So when you say our wastewater treatment plant has ballooned to $300 million — absolute lie. But when you say that, now you get people all riled up, that, ‘Whoa now we’re wasting money. What’s going on with TenHaken?’”

He is right about one thing, the city has been blowing money like crazy, that is nothing new, you know like $10 million for ‘landscaping and other stuff’ at the PRIVATE research facility. But to say Theresa was lying is a stretch. This is what Theresa said before Paul mocked her (item #51);

‘ . . . as I understand it could be closer to $300 million. I think there is cost overrides we don’t know about . . .’

First the obvious, Stehly hasn’t been in city government for several years and has no access to internal numbers so she made an assumption, an assumption any citizen would make based on the track record of the city and cost overruns.

So who is closer to the actual amount?

Remember a few years ago when the School District held a communist bloc school bond election? Leading up to the election the district was saying the bonds were $180 million. I pointed out to the District that the payoff amount would be $300 million and withholding that information from the public was a disservice to the taxpayers. Super Maher finally admitted that was the payoff amount.

According to reports when the water rec plant was first proposed in 2018 the estimated project cost was $159 million, by 2022 it ballooned to $205 million. Since then there has been numerous change orders to the project, in fact, in the past year the council even questioned one of the change orders that was around $400K and no one from public works bothered to show up to the meeting to answer questions.

While Paul may be right that the project cost may never hit $300 million it certainly won’t be $200 million. With inflation and material costs change orders will be common place and once we have to pay off those bonds we will be plenty north of $300 million. So while Stehly’s comments are not 100% accurate, they are not as far-fetched as we think.

But what bothers me more is that we have an administration that mocks people claiming they are ‘spreading lies’ but when we request the information we only hear crickets. I would love it if Lalley wrote a followup story of what the initial costs have been, the final price tag and the payoff amount. Let’s see who is LYING. If you are not going to be transparent and have an active policy of not responding to citizens at meetings you can’t get angry when former city councilors show up and question the process.

Paul believes in the tired old political stance that we need to keep information from the public because we don’t want them to ‘get riled up’.

As a local elected official says to me all the time, “If you are not going to tell me the truth I will just make up my own version of the story.” and while he is being sarcastic, he is correct, if you don’t tell the public what is going on they WILL make their own assumptions. If mis-information is being spread by the public, that is on you! The truth will always save you 🙂

Also, Paul’s mockery Tuesday night is something he has been doing for a long time. What is surprising is according to Robert’s Rules, the mayor can hand the gavel to the council chair and respond respectfully to anyone, instead he chooses to act like the kid who dropped his ice cream cone.

If Stehly is lying back it up with numbers not with crybaby rhetoric like this;

“Anybody who is listening should know that I’m frickin’ annoyed,” he said Wednesday. “This is not a circus, that shouldn’t be city government.

If you want the circus to end at the council meetings maybe stop acting like a clown?

“The Stehly days are done.”

. . . and in a few short years we all will be able to take a sigh of relief and say “The TenHaken days are done.”

UPDATE: So this happened today! The 1st Amendment prevailed. I like the part where they pretty much describe a certain zombie mayoral candidate in the suit as a ‘Gadfly’.

I get it, some people struggle with the rights the US Constitution and 1st Amendment has given us. Our forefathers had the vision to realize a strong Republic depends on it’s citizens ability to challenge our government very vocally and publicly. If you don’t like those rights, and some don’t, you can leave the country (if anyone will have you).

As I have said in the past several times, the 1st Amendment and especially ‘prior restraint’ gives citizens the right to say whatever they want to at public input. In fact, the US Supreme Court, has backed this up several times.

During the council meeting last night Mayor TenHaken cut off several inputers because he didn’t like what they were saying. At one point he claimed it was his meeting (he actually said this and didn’t mumble or grunt it into a microphone for once).

The guy really needs to take his act on the road . . . like permanently.

City Council meetings are public meetings and belong to the public. We own the building, we pay for the resources to run the meetings and we pay the salaries of those running the meeting.

There seems to be a consensus by a majority of our council and mayor’s office that once you win an election you can do whatever you want to, but quite the opposite should happen. When someone leaves the comforts of their private life to run for office and they win a seat this is when you START LISTENING to constituents.

When an elected official threatens you with arrest because you said something they didn’t like that is called FACISM.

If Mayor TenHaken thinks he is correct in the way he interrupts the US Constitution why doesn’t he follow thru with his arrest threats? But like most bullies they say stuff to intimidate and scare constituents.

One of the reasons why citizens have been challenging our city government at meetings and ignoring the Mayor’s empty threat of arrest is because they know they have the 1st Amendment on their side. In fact, once again, Mayor TenHaken failed last night to stop anyone from saying what they wanted to. Not that he didn’t try, but I think at this point most people just wave his interruptions away like flies.

I challenge PTH to follow thru with his threats and arrest someone for speaking their minds, then the real education starts.