Entries Tagged 'Bunker Ramp' ↓

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.

Dakotanews has a peculiar view on Investigative Journalism


I was a little puzzled by this story they posted yesterday;



The I-Team has learned that the city of Sioux Falls has hired an outside attorney to represent the city in a lawsuit against the Village River Group.



I am assuming the I-Team means investigative team. Besides the fact that I posted about this on January 18, it wasn’t some secret since it was on the public agenda at the January 18 meeting in the consent agenda in which Councilor Starr pulled and asked the city finance director and city attorney where the money was coming from.

They both kind of fibbed a bit (the real story here).

Still wondering why it took supposed investigative journalists 6 weeks to figure something out that was posted on a public agenda?

Historical LED lighting & Secret(?) Bunker Ramp budgets at the Sioux Falls City Council

We will start with the regular council meeting last night. It was a very short meeting with virtually zero questions or discussions. The only fireworks were the expected obstruction from Lead City Attorney Stacy Kooistra, who likes to make things up when he doesn’t want to answer questions. I call it (I didn’t sign up for this) lying. It’s like he doesn’t want to lie, but he has to because the mayor made him accept an appointment because he was childhood friends with Mrs. Poops, or something like that.

Councilor Starr pulled the legal agreement for the Bunker Ramp from the consent agenda and asked Kooistra where the $150K is coming from? Stacy said it was coming from the project budget. Pat asked how much was remaining in the budget, and Stacy couldn’t answer the question without input from finance (who were in the lobby at the time) but the $150K could be covered, than chastised Starr for not giving the question in advance (their normal excuse). Than Pat asked how do you know if there is enough in the budget to cover the $150K if you don’t know how much the total budget is? Stacy then changes gears and says he can’t say publicly out of the best interest of the city and pending litigation, into which Starr replies, what about the best interest of the public and citizens and is the budget really that big of a secret?

It’s not.

The irony is that all of the information is publicly available because it is in the budget book from last year. I guess the fund started at around $1.2 million and now because of all the counseling and lawyering we are whittled down to around $800K and some change. The rumor from the developer is that he was made an offer and declined. Some officials on both sides think this will go to trial, which I welcome. I could care less of the outcome, it will just be nice to hear how this all fell apart in a court of law and the public will truly see how poorly negotiated this was on both sides.

During the last agenda item at the meeting, the finance director (you know the guy that wasn’t supposedly there earlier) presented the delinquent accounts for the year. Starr asked him what the total was since it wasn’t on their presentation. Shawn said he didn’t add it up, then Pat says, “Do you know how much is in the Bunker Ramp budget?” You can guess the answer.

HISTORICAL LED LIGHTING?

During the city council information meeting they discussed all the splendid savings we are receiving for the Pavilion roof repairs. We are actually saving quite a bit of money because we are using $6 million of Covid relief funds we budgeted last year. The consultants said that the roof would cost $3.6 million without the spindles and $4.2 million with them and a little extra for LED lighting. What I found humorous is that they want the spindles to keep the historic look of the building, but they want to add LED backlighting? Is that historic? NOT. It seems like since the kitty is full of Federal money we should just go whole hog, I agree, but we should spend the money on something else, like affordable housing opportunities. I personally don’t think we need the spindles or the LED lighting, fix the cornice cap and more importantly fix the roof and move on already.

Maybe I should put LED backlighting on my roof vents so people notice their architectural beauty ðŸ˜Š

Has the City of Sioux Falls reached a settlement agreement with the Bunker Ramp?

Either they have or it’s very close. In the consent agenda (Item #7 – Sub Item #12);

City Attorney, Engagement Agreement for Legal Services for Village on the River, Fuller, Williamson, Nelson & Preheim, LLP., $150,000.00

I do have a few concerns with this 1) It seems like a very large dollar amount for legal services to just draw up a settlement agreement and 2) I’m not sure the city has ever used this local law firm before.

So what is this? I have a couple of guesses;

• This was the developer’s law firm and they are getting a cut of the settlement OR the city has agreed to pay the developer’s legal fees as part of the settlement?

It will be interesting to see how much of this plays out in the public and media. Will we ever know what the settlement amount is to the developer? Will there be some kind of announcement? NOT HOLDING MY BREATH.

Zeal lease contract with the City of Sioux Falls is based on empty promises

Before we dive into the current proposed agreement (Item #18) watch these videos from 2018 (FF to 9:30 in the first Q & A and listen to the Mayor’s answer about personal guarantee);

So why do I bring this up? The deal that took place back than echoes what is going on with ZEAL.

Let me make this clear, I SUPPORT, Zeal & StartUp Sioux Falls moving to this building, I support their vision for the facility, I even kind of support the $1 a year lease. But let’s face it, most people in this city are worried about where their next paycheck and meal is coming from and not starting a business so there is absolutely NO reason the taxpayers need to partner with them. In fact DTSF has several private properties available for a facility like this without the city needing to get involved.

The main issue with the deal is the handshake promise that they will spend $1 million remodeling the building. It is true that in the contract they will be responsible for general maintenance and have to carry insurance, but like the Bunker Ramp deal there is NOTHING in writing that they must spend this money, even though the city promises to reimburse them if they break the lease. The mayor also has authority of what improvements can be made, which is good. But like the deal with Jeff Lamont that was based on a flimsy piece of paper that he was ‘good for the money’ ZEAL has NOTHING in writing they will spend the $1 million.

Did we learn nothing from the $26 million dollar pile of cement?

What baffles me is that while this mayor and the past one claim they are running the city like a business, NO ONE in the private sector would sign a contract like this if the promises were not in writing and approved by their legal counsel.

This is just another handshake deal between the mayor and his rich buddies with NO (legal) accountability, and while it frustrates me these backroom deals persist, I think for the most part the massive conflicts of interest sadden me when we could have just done better. I know the mayor shares a deep friendship with some of the individuals involved, but this isn’t the mayor personally borrowing his lawn mower to a buddy, this is a tax payer owned asset and we must dot the I’s and cross the T’s to protect OUR asset NOT the mayor’s friend’s asses.

Some may argue that this is NOT like the Bunker Ramp deal, which when it comes to value, they are correct. But when it comes to a private/public partnership almost everything is identical, including nothing in writing. We just don’t seem to learn from (recent) history when it comes to contracts with these partnerships like the cost overruns and shoddy work with the Pavilion, Admin Building, Events Center, Midco Aquatic Center and Bunker Ramp. I have even heard there are now millions in cost overruns with the Water Treatment and Public Safety facilities that are not even completed yet.

I don’t expect my council and mayor to be geniuses when it comes to these negotiations, but at least look at history and rely on your 6-Figure a year staff to give top notch advice and draw up contracts that value accountability.

Update: What’s Going on with the Downtown Sioux Falls Bunker Ramp Fiasco?

UPDATE: I guess the developer involved with this project has been telling people he is getting a substantial settlement. Which is odd considering he screwed this up, if anything he owes us. Either way, where will this rumored settlement come from? And will it be made public? By state law legal settlements must be public, but they could play a different game and call it something else. My suggestion is to send him a $10 gift card to Walmart and call it good, which is $9.99 to much.

Last I heard several months ago, we were in a legal pissing match with the developer who still thought they had a chance to do the (scaled back) project. Where are we with it now? No news is good news.

Some of my peeps in the media and city hall have been saying the mice have been on the wheel over the past couple of weeks . . . but don’t expect an announcement anytime soon. WTF is that supposed to mean?

Maybe on Christmas Eve Mayor Poops will announce that he is gifting the hunk of grey matter to a DeveLloydper and washing the city’s hands of it. Or maybe he will turn it into a tent city so the homeless have a place to drink and do their laundry besides the Dudley House parking lot. Or better yet, he may say it will be a part of the secret settlement of Event Center Siding, Windows on the Midco and the Administration Building’s HVAC?

Who doesn’t like a package deal?

So many underground deals and only a few weeks before 2022 to complete them. Where does Poops and his crack team of lawyers find the time? I take it back, he really deserves a 30% raise 🙁 He better hurry though before the city council fires them all.

What are the Legal Struggles with the Bunker Ramp?

We have not heard much for awhile. In fact, even if the City Council has heard anything in executive session, they haven’t said much either.

We know that the developer, has put in a counter action asking to complete the project scaled down, but we know that would be a breach of contract.

City Hall moles and others in the media have told me there hasn’t been any lawsuits filed by the city. The reason? The rumor is the mayor has chosen NOT to sue Lamont based on being a nice guy.

Sadly, this isn’t the mayor’s decision. The breach of contract occurred against the taxpayers of Sioux Falls, not his administration, and the citizens should sue based solely on that.

Not only should Lamont NOT be allowed to finish the project half-ass, the taxpayers of this city deserve some kind of compensation for leaving us a hunk of crap. But of course this would mean several past and current councilors and two mayors admit the mistake and apologize for not pumping the brakes early on. Of course, corrupt, authoritarians don’t do things like that.

The real reason the city is NOT suing is because they don’t want this to look like a major F’up, which it is. I wonder if the developer will walk away with no fines and no deal? Don’t know, we may never know.

And I wonder what developer will be waiting in the wings . . . with a TIF to boot?

Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken lies about Village on the River

While Paul was still in his garage polishing his medals and ‘other stuff’ I have been following this POS project from the beginning, so it surprised me when he flat out lied about his position;

“Obviously, you know, it’s no surprise that that project hasn’t gone like anybody would’ve like to seen it gone, myself included,” Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken said. “But, it was here when I took office, trying to do the best we can with it and move it forward. I’m confident that soon we’ll see some progress happening there.”

To Paul’s credit, he was NOT involved with the ground breaking or taking out the bond, BUT, the project was in stand still when he rolled into office, and he could have stopped it. We would have had to pay a small fine for returning the bond, somewhere around $1 million, but we would have saved taxpayers around $26 million in a project that should have never happened and he could blame Mayor Bucktooth and Bowlcut for the fiasco. Instead he accepted a bar napkin credit validation from the developer and moved forward. To say the Bunker Ramp was completed when he took office is a flat out lie. Of course, I don’t blame Paul for his normal ‘you betcha’ moment, but a cruise control media for not challenging him on that lie.

The Bunker Ramp is going to bite us in the rear

The Audit Committee of Sioux Falls meets tomorrow, and they have some precarious recommendations about the Parking Enterprise Funds.

As you can see our debt service is extremely high (mostly due to an ill-advised Bunker Ramp). There is even suggestions that parking employees work in other departments.

This is what happens when supposed leaders make very bad decisions. Will we ever learn?

City of Sioux Falls decides to cover Downtown Bunker Ramp wall with large banner that says ‘LAWSUIT PENDING’

Okay, just kidding, but one wonders what is going on.

If you nose around on the local dockets you will see there has not been any set court dates to handle the pending lawsuit with the city and the proposed developer. In other words it seems the city is no further along then they were when this whole fiasco was exposed.

Also, parking revenues are down, so it will be interesting to see how the bonds will be paid for an overbuilt parking ramp that no one has used. I have often suggested they build several floors of studio apartments on the site.

Also, why weren’t there any proposals on decorating the Chernobyl like building?

But lastly, I’m still waiting to hear a formal apology from current and past mayors and councilors who put this fraudulent disaster into motion even after they were warned multiple times that this would turn out to be a pile of poo poo.

If there is one thing city government in Sioux Falls is getting better at it is spending large amounts of our tax dollars on failures. As for necessary infrastructure maintenance, we call on church volunteers.