Entries Tagged 'snow removal' ↓

Former Sioux Falls Mayor Got SH*T Done?

I remember when Bucktooth and Bowlcut was walking out the door, it seemed the last 100 days of his administration we were reminded of all the ‘S**T’ he got accomplished (not my words, his). But only a little over 2 years later, let’s look at those supposed accomplishments;

Railroad Redevelopment. While this hasn’t totally flopped (there are a few projects and apartments being built in the area, after developer friendly deals were cut at taxpayer expense) The major developments flopped due to issues with engineering and bedrock. I actually don’t see this development ever coming to fruition for at least 20 years. It was touted as his greatest accomplishment but really was just a massive waste of Federal tax money that never solved the rail traffic issues downtown. They continue to store rail cars downtown less than a few blocks away. And to add insult to injury, we are spending millions for an overpass on 26th street so the trains can continue to march through downtown.

Events Center. Besides the possible impending doom if Mr. S gets brought up on criminal charges, the Denty has been nothing but a complete failure only 5 short years after it opened. Not just the major screw job on the cheap siding and many other issues with the building, sponsorships have continued to fall and attendance is at near zilch. And that’s not just because of Covid. Last year several businesses in the area complained that there was little activity at the place. Besides the rusted up tin can looking like a total waste, taxpayers are stuck with propping up this place with around a $10 million dollar a year mortgage payment while a majority of the profits go straight out of town. We didn’t need a new Events Center, and I think citizens will come to that realization within the next few years.

City Administration Building. Besides the fact we didn’t need this place, it has had issues from day one. The HVAC that clearly got screwed up by the CMAR had to be replaced at taxpayer’s expense, with still no word from the city attorney’s office if we will get reimbursed (likely not). When we decided to gift the other city building for the TRIAGE center, it proved that we didn’t really need another city office building. This was just another developer handout because of some backdoor promises MMM made .

Indoor Aquatic Center. I haven’t been in the place since it opened, but what I have been hearing from peeps in the neighborhood, it is turning into a real wasteland. There has been issues with the windows, leaks in the pool and extensive rusting. And that’s just the little things. There has also been multiple complaints about customer service and the horrible locker rooms. Attendance was also down before COVID hit and our subsidies grow every year. Now I wasn’t opposed to an indoor public pool, but I think we should have done it with a partnership with Sanford Sports Complex and built the pool out there. So not a total failure, but wrong place and wrong deal. I suspect it will become VA property within 10 years.

Bunker Ramp. This is the disaster that keeps giving. After MMM & Mini-Mike Darrin Smith screwed up the initial development, they marched forward with the guys that were associated with the Copper Lounge collapse LLC debacle. Even though many in the public and in the developer world told them it was a bad idea to get involved with these folks, a majority of the council pushed forward. Then when Mayor Stoneless rolled in, he also passed on the opportunity to kill it (contrary to what many believe, Paul and the council could have stopped the project and paid a bond funding fine, which could have been around $1 million, but saving us about $25 million). Not only did the past mayor and council fail to stop one of the biggest dupes on the public, the current administration continues to bungle with this project. Recently they decided to sell two flat surface parking lots (I’m guessing to push those parking tenants to the ramps). The worst part is that neither the current mayor or past mayor and councils apologized for this massive f’up. That  building will always be a stark final reminder of MMM’s legacy of a multitude of failures.

He did have one success during his administration. He supported and endorsed Snowgates, even though he could not get it passed through the idiots on the council at the time. It took a petition drive by Stehly to get this service. So in a sense, he failed at snowgates also.

When I hear rumors about a possible run for mayor again in 2022, I look at the above screwups and wonder how he even thinks he has a snowball chance in Hell of ever serving in public office again? If I was MMM, I would just plan on spending more time at my trailer house in Wessington Springs.

Is the City of Sioux Falls trying to get away from plowing city side streets?

I won’t give Mayor Stoneless all the credit on this one, this actually started with Mayor Bucktooth and Bowlcut. I noticed in the last few years of his administration and into TenHaken’s there really hasn’t been a strong effort to plow the side streets during the winter, which turns them into icy ruts. After Paul’s church volunteer tornado cleanup effort, I’m getting the feeling more and more he is more concerned about developer handouts and less on citizen services. We pay taxes for a reason, to keep our infrastructure maintained. It will be interesting to see how he reacts this year, but if it is anything like the end of last winter, we are going to be driving on some pretty crappy ice covered streets.

UPDATE: Where’s the Snowgate? (Feb 20, 2018) GP – Bruce

To plow is one thing but being able to see snowgates is what we voted for.

Sioux Falls voted to have graders with snowgates clearing all the streets. in the wee hours of Tuesday, February 20, 2018 we had some more white stuff called snow. The stuff snowgates were made to keep from filling our driveways.

It has finally been added to the books;

96.127  SNOW GATES.

The City of Sioux Falls shall use snow gates or other devices to prevent snow, in an amount that prevents usual access, from being plowed or placed into driveways or their openings to public streets from and after November 1, 2013.  This section shall cover City employees and contract employees.  Snow gates are discretionary upon the declaration of a snow emergency on routes that have been declared snow emergency routes.

(Ord. IM01-14, approved by the voters on 4-8-2014)

It might seem petty but some of us worked hard a few years ago to see snowgates keeping the white stuff out of our driveways.

I heard the plow drive quickly past my house so I knew it was not the usual grader pair with a snowgate, so I sent the following email to Councilor Theresa Stehly:

Theresa,

I love snow gates. We worked hard to get them and I have been very happy with their use. The city employees have been very cooperative and friendly in helping the property owners. The work we did to promote them has paid off well for the entire town, until this week.

On Monday, February 20, 2018 at 7:01 am, a Sioux Falls snowplow truck drove through my west 9th street neighborhood between Valley View and LaMesa at about 30mph clearing the street. When I went out to get in my truck, there was chucks of ice and snow in the grill. Thrown there by the force combination of speed and the lack of snow gates. My truck’s headlights could have been broken with the way this truck zoomed past throwing up the debris mixed with ice and snow.

I have problems with this week’s street cleaning,

  1. the lack of snow gate use,
  2. the speed of the truck sent to clean our street,
  3. the fact my truck was pelted with street crap.

How do I know this truck was used and the speed? I have the video. The photo I have enclosed is from the video.

*********

I sent a photo and then decided to post this video do to the size and story.

While I’m at it, there is another issue I’d like addressed. Why are certain streets in Sioux Falls which never get snowgate service in the southeast section of town. How come? – Bruce

Dacola Note: While we are on the pissy parade, I will say this about the snowgate use; certain operators are picking and choosing when to use them. For example I hear from people in the SE part of town that ‘sometimes they are used, and sometimes they are not’. I live in central by Avera on a straight street, and that was the case last winter. This winter they have never missed, and in fact, have left next to nothing in my driveway. I think it is certain operators that choose not to use them.

I have liked Stehly’s idea of having a large display number on the back of snowplows so you can report drivers who are skirting their duties.

While I’m at it I have a personal message I would like to send to the maintenance crew at Avera (along Cliff Ave) and Lincoln HS. STOP THROWING SNOW INTO THE STREET! ESPECIALLY WHEN PEOPLE ARE DRIVING BY! YOU DIRT FOOLS! Not only is it against ordinance to throw it into a plowed street, you almost caused me to ram into the back of someone this morning because the city had the genius idea to put a crosswalk light at the bottom of a steep hill – you know – for the safety of the children.

UPDATE: Spot the Jesus Snowplow on Saturday!

UPDATE: No Jesus Snowplows! I repeat NO Jesus Snowplows! At least the ones that were on display did not have any reference to Jesus. One of the Catholic schools had their logo on it, that is kind of a sacred heart in a flower, but that was about as close as it got. Even the Lutheran School refrained. They had the message ‘Choose Joy’ on their plow, which I thought was kind of cool. The big theme this year was Van Gogh. One of the plows was a combination of Starry Night with a silhouette of the Statue of David. I’m sure this probably stems from the killer movie coming out which is entirely made from animated paintings;

Now becoming a yearly holiday tradition for DaCola, see if you can find the unconstitutional snow plows;

The Eighth Annual Paint the Plows event will display 22 plows painted by area students this Saturday, October 21, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The plows will be on exhibit at the Empire Mall in the JCPenney east parking lot.

But, hey, when you want to go against constitutional law, all you need is a disclaimer;

The City of Sioux Falls does not censor the content or any viewpoints on the artwork. Any messages or views expressed are not those of the City or endorsed by the City.

It’s NOT censorship when it’s unconstitutional. But the mayor isn’t going to let some blogger tell him how to practice his fake Christianity.

If I don’t find any Jesus Snowplows this year, I think I will present the Mayor and City Council with a ‘Constitutional Achievement Merit Award’.

Actually, the Jesus snowplows actually got me in hot water at work when one of the cry baby candidates in the last municipal election called our sales manager and complained about my blog post about his relationship with the topic. Doubt he will run for office again anyway after he got his ass handed to him.

I guess the city snowplows have been moth-balled for the summer

This morning, I was finally glad to merge on to the interstate on my way to work. It seemed the State DOT snow plow operators remembered to set their alarm clocks, I can’t say the same about the city.

Yes, I understand that the snow will probably be gone by 5 PM today, but would it have hurt anything to go out at about 5-6 AM this morning and plow the main arterials like Cliff, Minnesota, Marion and 41st Street with just one pass at least? The ridges down the middle of the road were so high, my car was hydro plaining at times, and the ridges were also holding back the water from flowing into storm gutters. A horrible mess that could have been corrected over a couple of hours by our Public Works Department.

I know money is tight, but it could not have cost that much to call in workers a couple of hours earlier to do a job they are already punched in to do on a normal Monday anyway.

Public Works Department; HUGE FAIL!

New Snow gate Video

The city released a new video showing how snow gates are used. Listen to the full report here (DOC: snowgate-update )

 

The video below has Galen Huber explaining what is happening.

 

 

Seems our City Attorney Fiddle had to change his Faddle on Snow gates ordinance

Isn’t it funny after a city councilor and the media point out the absence of an ordinance in our bylaws, they have a moment of pause;

City Attorney Dave Pfeifle said in an email Friday no formal action is required by the Council to meet Stehly’s request and the City Clerk would be submitting it for publication in in the coming weeks.

“The city has the option to codify it and it will be placed in the code book in the near future,” he wrote. “Again, the code book is for the court’s convenience for those ordinances that are most likely to be enforced against the public at large through the court system.”

They also should be put on the books for the courts to protect the public from it’s government when they are NOT doing their job. I will say that Councilor Stehly told me after this last snowfall she has gotten dozens of compliments about how the city used snow gates in the past couple of days. BRAVO. See, it’s really not that hard to push a button.

Are snowgates working for you? And is it on the books?

Councilor Stehly offers her help when it comes to getting snow gate service properly;

I reached out to our Public Works Director Mark Cotter, and he assured me that his department is 100 percent committed to using snow gates citywide. We must understand that these gates are not meant to remove all the snow, but to help alleviate the majority of snow left behind.

Director Cotter and I would like to encourage you to reach out to us if there are problems with your service in the future. Councilor Theresa Stehly, 929-8783 and Public Works at 367-8255.

Let’s keep working together to keep Sioux Falls a great place for all people to live.

With a winter storm expected this next Friday, the phones should be busy.

There was something else in the letter I found interesting;

Snow gates are mandated to be used in all residential areas according to a voter approved city ordinance in 2014. Just as we have an ordinance requiring citizens to remove snow from their sidewalks, the city has an obligation to provide snow gate service.

Well, not really. As we found out this past week, the city legal team of crack attorneys at Sioux Falls city hall seem to have this policy of not putting those kind of things on the books, only when they want to harass you about doing something like scooping sidewalks or trimming trees (GAWD I HATE PROJECT TRIM). But it seems Sioux Falls may be the exception when a municipality doesn’t want to follow their own rules. In Bismarck, ND they actually take responsibility for laws passed by citizens;

Ordinance

10-02-05. Snow Removal. Notwithstanding the authority contained in Section 10-02-03, whenever, in the opinion of the director of public works, accumulated snow and/or ice creates hazardous road conditions or is likely to create hazardous road conditions which impede or are likely to impede the free movement of fire, health, police, emergency or other vehicular traffic or threaten the health, safety or welfare of the community, the director of public works may take the following actions in order to open and maintain the streets:

1. Post certain streets in need of snow removal for no parking. The signs must be posted at the times specified in Section 12-13-23(2)(l) before the snow removal is to occur. Any vehicles parked in violation of the posting shall be towed to facilitate snow removal.

2. When necessary to maintain the streets in good and safe driving conditions, goods and services may be purchased without complying with chapter 7-01 of this code. The board must be informed of any such purchases at the next following city commission meeting.

3. When necessary to maintain the streets in good and safe driving condition, temporary snow removal personnel may be hired. The board must be informed of any such hiring at the next following city commission meeting.

The City of Bismarck shall use snow gates or other devices to prevent snow, in an amount that prevents usual access, from being plowed or placed into driveways or their openings to public streets. This section shall cover City employees and contract employees. Any additional costs caused by this ordinance shall be paid by the City Sales Tax of the City of Bismarck. This ordinance shall not apply in the event of a snowfall of such magnitude that a snow emergency is declared.

(Ord. 4588, 03-15-94; Ord. 4644, 10-25-94; Ord. 5294, 06-13-00, Initiated Ordinance).

Imagine that, when citizens actually pass an ordinance, the city’s legal team does the legal thing, put it on the books.

I have suggested that the city purposely doesn’t put the snow gates on the books in Sioux Falls so citizens can’t sue the city if they don’t use them. While that is clever, it is also very sneaky.

UPDATE II: Were Snow Gates usage ever written into ordinance?

UPDATE II: The Argus has an update from the city attorney’s office on this topic. Funny how if we need to stick it to the citizenry, we write it down, but if the city is supposed to do something, it’s just a suggestion. WOW!

With all of the discussion over the last couple of years about snow gates and there hit and miss usage lately some have been wondering why the city doesn’t follow it’s own ordinances? There are plenty of rules on the books about mowing your grass and scooping your sidewalk so shouldn’t the city follow the ordinance requiring snow gate use? Sure, if there was one.

BALLOT LANGUAGE

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED qualified voters of the municipality of Sioux Falls, the state of South Dakota, petition that the following ordinance be submitted to the voters of that municipality for their approval or rejection pursuant to law. The proposed ordinance in proper form is as follows: AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA TO MANDATE THE USE OF SNOW GATES FOR REMOVING SNOW FROM PUBLIC STREETS: BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA: The City of Sioux Falls shall use snow gates or other devices to prevent snow, in an amount that prevents usual access, from being plowed or placed into driveways or their openings to public streets from and after November 1, 2013. This section shall cover city employees and contract employees. Snow gates are discretionary upon the declaration of a snow emergency on routes that have been declared snow emergency routes.

I did a search of the city charter (start at 96.120) and I couldn’t find the ordinance that requires the city to use them. When it was on the ballot, it said they would NOT be used on emergency snow routes AND the city had the discretion to NOT use them in deep or heavy snows, but the ordinance was clear, the city had to use them in all other cases.

So if the citizens passed this ordinance, why isn’t it on the books? This question has been asked of city officials, and apparently there has been some ‘scrambling’ to answer said question, but it seems law may NOT be on their side. As you can see below, when an ordinance is passed by the citizens, by charter, it needs to go on the books;

Section 8.03  Adoption of amendment.
   If a majority of the registered voters of the city voting upon a proposed charter amendment vote in favor of it, the amendment shall become effective at the time fixed in the amendment or, if no time is therein fixed, 30 days after the initial canvas certifying its adoption by the voters.

But for the sake of the argument, let’s say the city IS supposed to be following ordinance (even if it is mysteriously absent from charter). Why is the city and certain snow plow operators picking and choosing when they use them? I will admit, since the vote, they have used them on my block every time they plowed, and unless you are blind, it is pretty obvious when they are used. It usually only leaves about 1/3 of the snow of what used to left before there usage.

One of the ideas councilor Stehly has come up with is painting large numbers on the snow gate maintainers and a hotline that you can call in if Plow #__ did not use the gate.

Once again, the city is practicing ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ It’s time to follow their own ordinances, that is if they even bothered to add it to the city charter. Maybe this was a plan all along to have an ‘out’ in case a driveway is missed. In other communities that use them and have them in charter, if a driveway is missed, the city will come out and fix it. Could it be by NOT having this in ordinance the city can skirt it’s duties?

It will be interesting to hear the city attorney ‘Fiddle Faddle’ his way out of this one.

City Lays off seasonal snow plow operators with 4 months of winter left

And they are the snowiest months;

City Hall on Monday gave 20 part-time street department employees their walking papers.

Public Works Director Mark Cotter said 20 of 52 seasonal, part-time street department employees were notified their final day of employment with the city will be Friday, Jan. 20.

The city has been bracing for the impact of softening sales tax revenue, but Cotter said the cuts are not budget-related but instead part of a yearly staffing process.

Budget cuts are not related?! Can’t wait for our first early Spring storm watching people from Labor Ready pushing shovels down Cliff Avenue.