Entries Tagged 'Bunker Ramp' ↓

We need to give credit where credit is due

Over $20 million spent, and they can’t even keep a fence from collapsing.

Slay the Bunker Ramp

The Bunker Ramp, the gift that keeps giving

So we hire someone with (several) conflicts of interest and we have to make new ordinances to tamp them down. Dumb.

Guidelines for dealing with conflicts of interests between auditors and city staff who oversee parking first need to be in place, said Councilor Greg Neitzert, who chairs the city’s audit committee.

“First we need to get the conflict of interest policy in place. Then you can start the process of who’s going to run point on (an audit),” Neitzert said. 

When Shana Nelson was hired as internal audit manager for the city last year, officials stated then that should the parking system ever be audited, Nelson wouldn’t be a part of that work. Nelson is married to Sioux Falls Parking Manager Matt Nelson.

Gee, Councilor ‘Friends and Family Plan’ wasn’t this brought up when we were basically moving Shana from one department to another? It seems we will never get to the bottom of what the Hell is going on with the parking department and Bunker Ramp.

I’m not sure a policy needs to be in place, maybe we should just hire someone who doesn’t have a conflict. Though I will admit that I have been impressed with Shana’s professionalism in the audits she has presented so far. Maybe she really is a ‘Rock Star’?

I have also been made aware that Greg pulled this from his sanitized butt and other councilors/members on the audit committee had no idea he was going to propose this and first found out about it reading the article.

Like the hiring of Nelson, I guess Greg thinks the audit committee is his little dictatorship. It’s good to be King.

Angela didn’t have to drive to Tripp, SD to find corruption

While I appreciate Stormland-TV‘s heartwarming Christmas story from Tripp, SD, they really didn’t have to trudge over there to get a juicy one, they could have just walked a couple of blocks around the studio offices.

At 10th and Phillips they could see the site of the Copper Lounge collapse that the State’s Attorney, the Attorney General, the Public Assurance Alliance and the City of Sioux Falls failed to investigate, oh but the Feds did, and $50 dollars later, problem solved.

Or they could have went just one block east of the collapse site and admired our Bunker Ramp and how no one has yet to explain how we got there, oh, and no explanations from the guy who once hired Angela’s daughter to be his nanny.

It would be a few more blocks, but they could make the trek to city hall at 9th and Main and ask Paul himself.

While in the neighborhood, why not pop over to the Minnehaha Courthouse and ask the County Commission liaison, Cindy Heiberger why she didn’t keep better tabs on the State’s Attorney.

While it’s fun driving to Tripp and admiring the scenery (I made the ‘trip’ today in the vicinity). You really only have to stroll around the neighborhood to uncover corruption and bribery.

TenHaken interview reveals his lack of leadership

The first thing he does in this interview is blame the last guy for the problems with the Bunker Ramp. While there is ‘some’ truth to that, he could have put the brakes on immediately after he took office, instead he took a piece of toilet paper signed by developers that said they were good for the money.

Then he says he doesn’t want to do an audit until after it is finished, while that is SOP, and I get it from a financial standpoint, there is NOTHING stopping him from looking into what went wrong RIGHT NOW. That doesn’t take an audit to achieve, it requires him doing his job as the city manager and city employees boss (his main job according to charter) and putting a boot up their butts or at least a stern talking to and get them on investigating what went wrong before we sign on the dotted line for another developer to finish it.

He once again fails to lead.

I really believe one of the reasons the deal fell through towards the end is because of the Sioux Steel development and potential for a TIF funded parking ramp.

This is pure speculation of course, but think about it for a moment, what if they would have allowed the Bunker Ramp Hotel to be ‘scaled back’ and finished? That means a nice hotel in the center of our downtown would have opened at least a year before the Sioux Steel Hotel and Convention Center. Things that make you go hmmmmmm. I won’t get into all the players involved, but something smells funny here.

Towards the end of the interview, PTH continues to blabber about charging non-profits for police assistance, China and Kermit.

Argus ED Board points out the obvious problems with the Bunker Ramp

I have come to the realization that bitching about this project at this point is almost futile;

After a contentious five-year saga of fits and false starts, we’re left with something that looks more like it belongs in downtown Chernobyl post-meltdown.

Now we’re faced with setting aside our dreams of a silk purse in return for a sow’s ear.

But we find the current state of affairs unacceptable. The “finishing” touches on such a huge and visible public initiative should excite and energize the citizens of Sioux Falls. Instead, we stand disappointed and disillusioned.

TenHaken has an opportunity to begin earning back public trust in City Hall.

While the editorial makes some good points, I sometimes wonder if it is too late. I don’t think that Mayor TenHaken or his administration have ANY intention of becoming more transparent, in fact, they have been in hunker down mode for over a year, and it gets worse by the day. The super secret, hurry up and ramrod through the 5G implementation without (real) public meetings is proof of this. I said to someone the other day, “It makes you wonder all the things they are doing behind the scenes we don’t know about?”

While the previous mayor was very OPEN about his SECRECY – it was almost a badge of honor with him, this mayor pretends like it isn’t going on, but they are one in the same. I saw when Munson did this, when the next guy did it, and now our current mayor, and it is getting worse and more deceptive by the day. God help us, because I’m not sure there is much the rest of can do to stop this.

Bunker Ramp extra funds approved 6-1 (Stehly dissenting, Soehl absent)

Part of the extra $1.5 million of the extra money needed, approved by the Sioux Falls City Council tonight was $467K in ‘Demobilization’ fees. What is this? We are being charged to take down the crane and for them to clean up the site because the hotel is NOT being built. First off, this ‘fee’ should have been in the final costs already, and we shouldn’t be paying for this with extra funding. The developer, contractor and CMAR (Construction Manager at Risk) should be paying this, this is why we hire them – TO TAKE ON THE RISK. While I understand we have to ‘fill holes’ and provide safety issues at the facility to get it open, taking down a construction crane is NOT our problem. The CMAR, supposed developer and contractor can hash out that on their own.

Of course, the excuses were flying like the back blades on a manure spreader on an early Spring day, why WE should have to pay for this.

The finance director said the crane had to be taken down and site cleanup to open the ramp. Duh. This would have had to happen whether we built the hotel on top or not, and should have already been budgeted for.

Stehly said during the discussion, there have been very few answers about the demobilization fees. She tried to amend it by taking off the $500K and no one seconded the motion, so it failed.

Only councilors Starr and Brekke had anything to put in towards the discussion.

Towards the end, Brekke said that her ‘hands were clean’ in the matter. I guess Neitzert was making fun of her by whispering to Marshall asking for some soap as they proceeded to pretend to wash their hands (I didn’t catch it on camera, so I’m not sure what he was doing) but Starr commented before the vote, “. . . I wanted to tell Councilor Neitzert that I do have some soap and some hand sanitizer and if you want to sit in leadership and make fun of people while they are making a speech, go for it.” 

LOL.

There was NO response from Neitzert.

Sioux Falls Planning Commission Member Luetke has interesting response to parking ramp debacle on FB

I’m going to break his comment up into pieces since it is kind of long, and I will add my commentary. This is from Planning Commission member Larry Luetke responding to a post Councilor Stehly had on FB about the Bunker Ramp;

Larry Luetke I really think there is more to this story. The city cuts off communication with their partners two weeks before their deadline of 30 days to respond to changes with the project. It is stated in the contract that the city must respond within the 30 days. Either ok with the change, a modification or build what they were supposed too. There was no response back to them and contract was cut. It is fine if you don’t agree with the company that got it but there was a contract that was signed. Which puts us at citizens liable. Reading through the contract I don’t see where the city will win this one (I am not a lawyer). Which will put us liable for a lot of stuff beyond the 1.5 million that is short.

I’m with Larry on this one (I am also not a lawyer) but I do agree that modifying a contract is NOT unheard of, and when you cut off communication early, some wonder if something else was going on behind the scenes (not like that ever happens in city government 🙂

I think what is best for us is to allow the modifications to the project and allow the developer to start building. The lawsuit will cost us so much more.

He is absolutely correct, but we should have never taken out the bonds to begin with, and we should have halted this until we had substantial proof that the investment dollars were there from the developers. All we got was a lousy piece of paper that basically amounted to a IOU note in your piggy bank similar to when one of your older siblings stole from you.

Once finished it will bring in sales tax revenue and property tax to the city and county. Currently as a parking ramp it will pay no sales tax, no property tax and we will collect a minimal amount of parking fees.

As taxpayers, I never thought we would make much on this anyway, completed or NOT. This is why the city needed the 2nd Penny for collateral, because like most other projects we have bonded for over the past 20 years, we have had to have the 2nd Penny pay the mortgage. We have a very solid track record of multiple projects that will NEVER pay for themselves, such as the Pavilion, Events Center, MAC, Orpheum, etc.

I feel that it is our best interest in allowing the developer to move forward with their project. Some questions I would ask our city officials. If there was a meeting at one of the country clubs about another downtown hotel project in which a person said that we need to keep this quiet for a couple of weeks (which is the same time frame of when the city was not responding to their partner). Also a rumor is that the hotel project that I was just talking about was also in question of not being done because of the Village on the River project would be finished first and the other hotel would saturate the downtown hotel market. So because of that a certain project downtown would not move forward. The information I just stated is third hand but really has made me question what the real issue of why the city did not respond to their partner Village on the River.

I have no idea what project Larry is talking about, but if I was going to bet my ass on a guesstimation it would be the hotel and convention center Sioux Steel in partnership with Lloyd is proposing on that redevelopment project. But at this point, just pure speculation.

Also based on the contract the contractor is the one responsible for the performance bond. What I have heard from a partner of the developer is that this project is still a go with the modifications once the city agrees to their modifications. With the modifications they have more hotel rooms then proposed even without the extra two stories. Just as a disclaimer I have nothing to do with this project but feel based on my research and hear say we as citizens will be the burden of costs if we don’t allow this project to move forward.

Well, I hate to break it to you Larry, but the taxpayers were and are getting stiffed on this project either way. We were never going to get the parking spots we needed publicly, we paid too much for the spaces and foundation, the lease was a steal, and it is being built in the wrong place.

I will stay with my original emotions on this project – it was a bad idea out of the gate and should have NEVER even made it to a city council agenda. Thanks to Mayor Bucktooth & Bowlcut, another money sucking project he cooked up that is screwing over the constituents.

UPDATE: 2nd Penny will have to be used to Support Bunker Ramp

Reader submission

You can say what you want about Stehly, but she warned that the Parking Department Enterprise Funds would NOT be able to support the bond payments for the Bunker Ramp, and this is why we used the 2nd Penny Road Funds for collateral;

Mayor Paul TenHaken wants the City Council to dip further into the city parking fund to come up with another $1.5 million, which his administration says is needed to open the ramp. Using that cash would drain the account the city is using to pay back the $18.5 million it borrowed to build the ramp, making it more likely that the city could need to dip into tax dollars to pay off the debt. 

Once again folks, we are dipping into our infrastructure funds for projects that have nothing to do with needed infrastructure.

UPDATE: Joe Sneve found this great quote from TenHaken;

“Unfortunately, the public doesn’t have all the facts and getting at the ones the taxpayers do have has been a challenge. The City government needs to be open and transparent with taxpayer dollars, which includes settlements like the one in question. We all can agree that bringing openness to historically closed door processes of City government is a great move,” Paul TenHaken told KSFY News while campaigning for mayor.

Sioux Falls City Councilors defer $1.5 Million in additional spending to the Bunker Ramp

Apparently we are all out of extra money, go figure. The money is needed to fill all the ‘holes’ in the building. It’s too late, the money has already gone down the tubes 🙂

The administration waited until tonight at 10:40 PM to give the information. Erickson suggested they defer it to digest it more and she said it was unacceptable to not get the information last week, saying they knew the numbers then.

Councilor Stehly railed on them about ramrodding this project and asked for an audit of the parking department. She also asked for a deferral.

Councilor Brekke also raised concerns about last minute information and is concerned about the continuing trend of inadequate information given to the city council. She also wanted a deferral.

Councilor Soehl suggests they just approve it and it doesn’t matter if they are ‘pissed’ at the administration about the information. (yes it does).

Neitzert agrees with him, and admits he got information in advance this afternoon. He also says the councilors are being ridiculous by acting like engineers. He is right, they are not engineers, but they are in charge of the purse, and should be watching how money is being spent.

The deferral passes 5-3 (Neitzert, Selberg and Soehl voted against it).

Brekke said it best, “We have this false sense of urgency all the time, and it needs to end.”