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Apparently the Four Horseman could be riding in on the Big Sioux Creek, but don’t expect them to be on bikes.

I see city officials are sharing talking points when it comes to levees, floods, and spending Federal money;

Sam Trebilcock, a city transportation planner, said the trail will close from 49th Street to the dam just north of where the river and creek meet northeast of 26th Street for a city flood control project to raise the levees by 5 feet and build a dam.

“You know very well what happens in the news if we don’t do that,” Trebilcock said. “Grand Forks happens. What happened in huge catastrophic (quantities) in New Orleans happens if you don’t have a good levee system.”

First off, Sammy, Sioux Falls isn’t a soup bowl sitting below sea level. In fact you and I both know the real reason why the levees are getting built; an overly paranoid FEMA after Katrina started running around the country like a chicken with their heads cut off. Secondly, several studies have shown Sioux Falls is experiencing a moderate drought, and everyone knows we have low water tables here. I find it ironic that the same city that is begging the Feds for money to build the Lewis and Clark water pipeline (That we have borrowed millions to build, well because, we don’t have much water in Sioux Falls) would be going to the same Feds to ask for money for our levees.

Does Sioux Falls have the potential to flood? Sure, and precautions should be taken, but don’t act like it is the end of the world and cut the crap.

I guess it never really crossed my mind until yesterday when Quen Be De praised Northside Davey in the informational meeting, “I just think Dave has done a great job of working with our Washington delegation in getting us funds for our projects in Sioux Falls during his administration. I just hope the next three mayors can even come close to what he has been able to accomplish.” (paraphrasing). After I puked in my garbage can I started thinking about that statement. First off, we still are waiting for Lewis & Clark and railroad relocation funds from the Feds, something Dave has not accomplished. Also, they are still in discussions with the Corp of Engineers as to how much money we are gonna get for the levees. And lastly the only reason the levee bonds were called off was because FEMA said that people in the affected area don’t have to buy flood insurance. Go figure. This was all about saving business men and developers insurance premiums not about our safety, because if they were really concerned about our safety, the project would still be moving forward.

Business as usual in city hall.

But how much did this runaround cost us, even if we ditched the bonds? Last Fall councilor Staggers asked the city to give him a list of consulting fees paid out in 2009. He still has not received the list and they continue to deny (a sitting councilor) the numbers. They say he wants to use it for political reasons. My guess is that the amount is so high, that it will for sure become a political issue if it is released. If I had to ballpark it, I would guess the city probably spend close to $12-15 million a year on consulting fees, which includes legal advice.

This has gotten me wondering how much it cost taxpayers to explore the bonds to begin with (including flying a consultant in from Minneapolis in an attempt to scare off our tax initiative petition drive). Just because we only took out a portion of the bonds for the bridge, doesn’t mean they weren’t charging us by the hour. Ironically, the bridge could have been paid for out of the CIP budget, so no consulting fees or interest would have been paid at all.

Why all the secrecy around consulting fees? Because I have a feeling if we knew the real numbers we would have to clean our drawers. I hope the next three mayors aren’t even close to accomplishing what Munson has done, in fact, I hope they go in a completely different direction.