Entries Tagged 'Rick Kiley' ↓

Sioux Falls City Council Operations Meeting full of some very dark proposals including killing public input

The City Council had its Operations Committee meeting in the dark of the morning Thursday at 10 AM. I wonder why there was NO public input? Trust, me, this was done on purpose so the public could not attend, especially with some of the crap they were proposing. Once again, like the mayor, the majority of the council, the RS6 now, HATE transparency and openness, it is at the core of their very dark agenda for the city.

The meeting started out with a proposal for more per diem money to the council for logo wear city council apparel. I think right now they receive around $50 a year and they want to increase it to $150 per year. What confuses me is that they could just buy each councilor a simple magnetic name badge (for around $15 bucks) that they could wear on any piece of clothing, heck, buy them two. Just another example of how they waste taxpayer money on something they don’t really need.

I found it interesting that CountCilor Alex Jensen wasn’t wearing city logo wear but a First Premier pull over, nice touch. Reminds me of when Jim Entenman was wearing his Harley Davidson shirts to council meetings. Got to get in that shameless promotion yah know. Also, we can’t forget the thousands of dollars that were funneled to Alex’s campaign thru his employer’s upper leadership and various mischevious PACs. You better wear the damn shirt Alex!

Another change is for the consent agenda. They want councilors to give a 24 hour notice to city hall if they are going to pull something from the consent agenda so the city director/manager responsible for that item can come to the meeting to answer questions, because their time is valuable or something. Nutzert rambled about wedding anniversaries and kid’s birthday parties. Because, when you make a 6-Figure a year salary from the taxpayers of this city you shouldn’t be bothered for 5 minutes to answer a question about city spending when you should be a Chucky Cheese with your kids. Puhhhleese. There has always been this consistent argument, that I knew would gear up after the RS6 was installed, that city employees personal lives on a Tuesday night are somehow more important than the public’s business. They know they have an expectation to come to these meetings, and like I said, they get paid a hefty chunk of change to do so. If you can’t make it because of an important family event, ask someone from your department to fill in. This seems like a responsibility of the director in charge of that department instead of the city council.

They said city councilors don’t have to give the notice, but if they don’t there is no requirement for the director to show up. So basically it is a ‘Pass’ for the very people who are supposed to be serving us (because you know, they get a paycheck to do so).

I have often argued that the consent agenda should be read at the meeting, and after it is completely read by the clerk, items can be pulled. That’s true transparency.

During the meeting, non-committee member, councilor Brekke chimed in from the podium and suggested that the mayor’s office started giving informational meeting updates like they used to, but ended suddenly. We all know why, because of his simmering hatred towards transparency. Just look at the Covid press conferences, vanished, while our numbers are spiking.

The meeting got more interesting with a move to eliminate open discussion at the beginning of the informational meetings and renaming it council comment or report. Basically they can comment about something they are working on, but NO policy discussion, they once again blamed time constraints even though there is NOTHING in the city charter about time constraints or time limits at meetings. If a meeting runs to long, they can recess and come back at another time. Heck the Board of Ethics recessed twice over Greg Nutzert’s ethics hearing. This is a way of keeping more policy decisions from citizens. Disgusting.

The best was at the end of the meeting when, ironically, during open discussion CountCilor Jensen suggested moving public input to the end of the council meetings and eliminating public input on 1st readings. Oh, he was very soft and careful how he presented it, but it was clear when he said something about doing ‘business’ first, what he meant. Councilor Nutzert quickly chimed in and said he would assist him on it, but they may have to take an all expenses paid trip by a right wing partisan hack group to come up with a plan (I jest). I have often argued you put public input first because the public’s opinion is much more important than the business of the council, you know, the people who fund this government and come on their own time to do so. A business coming for a rezone or license is part of an expense of doing business and has little to do with the issues and policies of this city. Citizens should always be at the forefront of local government. I knew this was going to happen when Theresa left, and they have the votes to get it done, so it will probably happen. While I will do my best to fight it, unfortunately this is what happens when a majority of the council has this fascist view of transparency. Total Darkness.

Councilor Stehly gets it done without even voting

As I have mentioned in the past, Councilor Stehly has gotten a lot of things done without the votes, but by just simply putting on pressure.

She did it again this afternoon at the Audit Committee Meeting.

She asked for several things from the podium during the 2020 Audit Plan presentation;

• An external audit of the Parking System (Theresa mentioned that she found it odd that the city wants to keep building or subsidizing parking ramps downtown yet wants to sell off flat parking lots).

• An audit of the CMAR (Construction Manager at Risk) process.

• Travel expenses of city staff (I guess that during the current administration, city directors and staff, and mostly the mayor, have been taking a lot of ‘junket trips’ but not really giving a report to the public as what they are doing on the trips. Recently TenHaken put up a short column about his trip to China, but never really told us what was really discussed. We also get a lot of updates on FB from the Innovation Manger and all the different cities he has been drinking in.

• A study of City Director salaries in comparison to other cities. Something I pointed out the last time the HR department did a wage study, but did NOT include city directors. How convenient.

The committee argued the merits of all the items. Councilor Brekke mentioned that maybe the city council budget analyst could look into the last two items and do a presentation on those findings – which I agree.

Audit Manager Nelson suggested that the CMAR audit would have to be done externally due to it’s speciality of the audit.

But they got into a long discussion about the external parking ramp audit. Councilor Kiley said he didn’t want to put it on the audit plan because they are in the middle of litigation, but other members argued that there was nothing wrong with putting it on the agenda, and if they have to pull it in the future, they can. The amendment to add it passed with Kiley and Chair Neitzert voting against it. Councilor Stehly doesn’t sit on the committee so she couldn’t vote on it.

T.J. TypeOver said they won’t audit it until it is done;

T.J. Nelson, deputy chief of staff in the mayor’s office, said City Hall isn’t opposed to a review of the parking system or the ramp, but not until the ramp project is complete and the dust settles on any lawsuits surrounding it.

“The administration will complete a comprehensive review of the process that led to the prior approval of this project by the Huether administration. This will take place following the ramp’s completion and resolution of any outstanding legal matters,” he said. “At this time, the administration supports a financial or construction audit consistent with the time frame outlined above.”

Yeah, after we have f’d up in every possible way we can, then we will tell the public how that f’k up occurred. WHAT!? Wouldn’t it be wise to figure that out BEFORE we move ahead with another developer or even litigation? Wouldn’t this help our case? Sometimes I wonder if putting money in a burn barrel would be a better way to spend money then paying city communication staff.

There was also a presentation on the Landfill Audit. There was a lot of problems going on out there where basically employees were not following procedures and not doing proper inspections. You can listen for yourself. My view is the city is missing out on a lot of landfill revenue due to the laziness of the employees. I think they were warned about these things in past audits. I think it is time to start handing our pink slips, then maybe they will get the picture.

Chair Neitzert mentions at the end they are going to start the process of hiring another staff auditor (which they do need). I wonder if this time they will actually put an employment ad in something besides Tidbits and the City Hall’s lunchroom?

PUBLIC TRANSIT MEETING

I still haven’t heard all the details of what happened, but I guess a committee member got a little irate about how the public is being left out of the decisions they are making. More to come.

Open Bids save money

At Tuesday’s Sioux Falls City Council meeting, councilor Kiley argued that they shouldn’t put the IT expansion project out for bid because the delay would end up costing taxpayers more money. Pulling a crystal ball from his rear aside, that is not always the case.

Back in 2008, the city faced a similar dilemma, a bid was handed over to a contractor to replace the windows on the Pavilion, the problem was that when the Pavilion’s Operations Director turned the bid into the city, he realized later that he forgot to include labor and would have to resubmit the bid.

The controversy caused by this error got the attention of the media, so a lot more contractors bid on the project the second time around.

The city saved over $300K by resubmitting the project, in fact they had to amend the 2009 CIP budget to reflect the cost savings;

Improvements, by deleting $300,000 in year 2009 for windows (CIP p. 2-145).

We have NO IDEA if we are getting a ‘deal’ on the IT expansion because we never put it out for bid. And I can guarantee if it is put out for bid ‘after the fact’ there would be someone who would come in under $1.5 Million.

Open bids save tax dollars, and for councilor Kiley to say otherwise is just ludicrous and ignorant.

Sioux Falls City Councilors Neitzert & Kiley cry wolf

I really got a laugh out of Greg and Rick last night when they acted like a couple of babies crying over the legislative priority amendments calling them ‘last minute’;

“I just want to state I’m going to vote no on any amendment that’s brought tonight because, frankly, the process is broken because we’re just springing amendment after amendment without talking to anybody else at the last minute,” Neitzert says.

Council Member Rick Kiley also refused to vote on any amendments brought forward and said the Council needs to follow the process.

Kiley says, “It has to go back to the process. I mean, there’s been a number of us that have been hit over the head with the word ‘transparency.’ This is anything but transparent. And so, I, like councilor Neitzert, am not going to vote on anything that is brought forward for the first time this evening.”

The problem with their pouting session is that these amendments are far from last minute (they are NOT finalized until December – see below) and even if it was final last night, who cares? These are merely ‘suggestions‘ from the Sioux Falls City Council to the State Legislature. These ‘suggestions’ hold as much weight if an average citizen would grab a legislator at a cracker barrel and make the same suggestions.

The city council has been making amendments to these ‘suggestions’ for years.

I also found it refreshing that the city council’s operations manager, Jim David, was the one who had to show the council the actual timeline below. I have told councilors I have always appreciated Mr. David’s professionalism and integrity. He never sugarcoats things. I wish the entire council staff was like Mr. David.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Rick Kiley misses all 3 budget hearings

One of the most important jobs of city councilors is approving or amending the yearly budget. How can you ask questions about a $500M+ budget when you don’t even attend the meetings? Rick is always the one who tells us he ‘studies’ things before making a decision. I guess he studied the budget on the golf course.

Does it pay to be on the NSP Energy board?

Last night at the Sioux Falls City Council meeting, Councilor Kiley recused himself from voting on items #21-22 that have to do with Northern States Power. I do know that councilors in the past have served on some kind of board with the energy company, so it was wise of him to recuse himself.

Usually these boards have some kind of compensation to be on them, or at the least compensate for travel/lodging and meeting time. A state official has said that Kiley is NOT being paid to be on the board, which seems a little strange. Would you serve on an energy board without pay out of the goodness of your heart? And if you were not getting paid to be on the board, what’s the point in recusal?

It just doesn’t add up. If anyone has a link showing the board members and compensation, that would be helpful.

Councilor Kiley blames God for Potholes instead crappy road contractors

Sioux Falls City Councilors only listen when you mime

Councilor Rolfing didn’t enjoy my Paganini impression.

I have probably talked numerous hours over the past 15 years in front of the city councilors. But it seems all that mouthing off never got their attention. It took my mime of playing a violin in the very back row of the council chambers last night to finally get a reaction out of them. As I was doing this during one of Kiley’s ‘Life is Beautiful’ speeches while referring to the Presentation Sisters apartment complex (that will pay NO property taxes) he yelled out something like this;

“Yeah, play your violin back there Mr. Ehrisman. Very direspectful sir, very disrespectful.”

I responded;

“Like you’ve never disrespected me?”

In which I let out a hearty laugh. Mayor TenHaken told me not to address the dais unless I was offering public input. PTH also gave a good stare at the security guard. I guess, according to state law, it’s ok to carry a concealed weapon into council chambers without a permit, but laughter will not be tolerated. Sorry, I will not be called out by an elected official sitting on the dais without reacting.

Which brings me to my point. They seem to be deaf, dumb and blind when citizens are testifying about the importance of transparency and good government but I guess the only way to get their attention is to publicly shame them. I better rosin up my bow.

Two Sioux Falls City Councilors supporting troublesome school bond issue

Councilors Kiley and Erickson have joined the drum beat of public officials who are encouraging people to vote yes for the school bond issue. It is well within their 1st Amendment rights to voice their opinions. What is troublesome though is that we have elected officials who support not only a dubious election but a very wasteful bond loan. For every $3 we put towards this in tax dollars over $1 goes towards interest and bond investors. Over a $100 million of tax dollars that will never be spent on education.

Another city councilor has worked behind the scenes to try to get the election to use ALL of the precincts, no E-Poll books and have the vote be electronically counted by the Minnehaha County Auditor. Their request fell on deaf ears.

The E-Poll books failed in the primaries because the company that created them no longer services them (Hart Interactiv) and another company, B-Pro has stepped in to try to get them to work. If the E-Poll books don’t work properly there is no way of knowing if people voted multiple times, and if they are hand counted, there is no way of knowing if ballots have been tampered with.

While the election process and extreme waste of tax dollars is troubling in itself, it upsets me even more that we have two public officials promoting this.

Talk about a lack of fiscal responsibility and democratic principles.

Water Rates going up? That’s news to me.

Apparently Councilor Rick Kiley has a crystal ball, because he is predicting our water and sewer rates are going up;

“They foresee a possible increase of about $2 per month for a family of five,” city councilor Rick Kiley said.

Kiley says the city knew this day was coming.

“You never want to raise rates, but in a situation like this where we are at 82% capacity today, we have a community that’s growing by 5,000 people every year and we are bringing on regional customers in addition to that it’s the prudent thing to do now is to expand our existing facilities,” Kiley said.

The city council will be voting on the funding this project when it passes the city budget in October.

While I agree we need to fix up a 1980’s water treatment plant, if we didn’t switch the rates over to enterprise funds we could easily pay the bonds with 2nd penny CIP revenue without raising fees. But see, former mayor Bucktooth & Bowlcut wanted to free up the 2nd penny from paying for silly old water pipes, and use it for paying down bonds for monument building.

So now our taxes are going up for a new jail, and Minnehaha county admitted at their Tuesday meeting (Commissioner Barth) that there will likely be another opt out, put that on top of a 25 year around $300 million dollar new school bond and our already existing $300 million city debt, and things are going to get a lot more expensive in Sioux Falls, including taking a dump.