Okay, that was a little over the top, but you have to applaud a group of neighbors who have organized to save greenspace in the heart of our city. If anyone has visited this gem on the corner of 9th and Grange, it is a wonderful, uninterrupted space in a very historical and yet modest neighborhood.

Totally worth saving.

Besides the organizing skills of the group, I really appreciated this video of the groups member, Bob. How is it that a community advocacy group can do a video in the middle of a park in which you can hear every word he says but the city with millions invested in ‘media’ can’t hold a presser in a room specifically designed for the media without audio issues?

Maybe the Lincoln Park folks need to start a campaign to save the city’s media department to? Maybe they can borrow Bob’s bluetooth.

When I first read about the meeting this afternoon, I did not believe it, oh but it happened (FF: 45:30);

What would have been a routine invoice approval turned into a regular old Tea Party in which our county auditor presumably invited her other bagger friends to tell the commission and public that using machines to count votes is very corrupt, even though much evidence has shown that automated tabulators are WAY more accurate then human counting (and probably the reason we had a Soviet style school bond election that was hand counted).

There is MUCH more room for fraud and corruption when you have humans counting the votes.

In podunk elections like funding pools with garbage, hand counting makes sense. Who wants to fire up the 1942 Massey Ferguson to plow a 1 acre lot? But in a county of this size, it would take many days and audits to make hand counting work.

Even if the counters are not unethical or corrupt, human error happens. When the machine is unclear of the vote, it spits it out and the review board considers the ballot. That is a GOOD thing.

This comment pretty much sums it up;

But Commissioner Joe Kippley had the harshest criticism for Anderson and her supporters, saying he didn’t appreciate “the smuggling in” of other issues to a routine service agreement.

“I just don’t get this Pontius Pilate, washing my hands, I’m just a tribune to the people, and I will let the public commentors come up and smuggle in all of these issues that have frankly been litigated in court,” Kippley said.

Kippley alluded to the litigation that electronic voting machine companies filed against supporters of former President Trump following the 2020 election in which they alleged the machines had been hacked. Fox News settled a lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems earlier this year for $787 million.

“I really don’t have a lot of patience for the nonsense around the election fraud stuff,” he said, noting that elections since 2000 have been disputed by the losing sides.

His entire testimony is actually very informative and entertaining. He pretty much threw a wet blanket on the MAGAts.

People win. People lose. It is NOT a broken system, that is how elections work. Can someone please explain it to our county auditor because I am pretty sure her hand is somewhere besides using it to count votes. And while it is up there, why don’t you pull out your head.

In the early days of SculptureWalk it was kind of a free for all with how the program was rolled out, the jurying process, etc., it has come to full fruition and is a wonderful addition to our community, but it took a lot of massaging to get to that place. I went back and forth with board members on how artists were selected and the jurying process, and guess what, many of the changes I suggested were made (a few years after I made them 🙂 but ultimately they got it right.

But who can forget the famous council meeting where the councilors couldn’t decide if the plaque of Munson at the entrance to Falls Park was ‘art’. I literally thought that Quen Be was going to have a nervous breakdown.

Or who can forget if a rendition of a famous Jean Dubuffet painting on the side of Black Sheep Coffee was advertising or not (it is actually a painting of jazz musicians in New Orleans). Local artist at the time Eyob Mergia, who created the mural, was perplexed that people would think it was an ad for coffee. The real clincher was the owner of Black Sheep didn’t get a permit, and we know how that goes . . . and like the AI controversy, some artists in the community berated Mergia for copying the painting and not creating his own piece.

Eyob was no stranger to controversy when it came to public art. Besides the coffee shop, there was the $100,000 mural that then Minnehaha County Commissioner Carol Twedt tried to secure funding for (that went over like a lead balloon) and who can forget the ‘large painting’ he donated to the Horse Barn Arts Center. Then Parks Director, Mike Cooper said it was NOT a mural because it was not directly painted on the building and called it a ‘large painting’ to get out of the mural review process (the city is famous for breaking it’s own rules).

And who would deny the Statue of David as our leading controversial art project. First rejected when he arrived, then thrown in a storage lot a few years later and when he returned his marble mount had mysteriously disappeared (and his underwear are still missing).

Some have wondered for years why we struggle with public art in Sioux Falls. I’m sure a massive study could be done (and has been done several times). The recommendations are usually thrown in a wood chipper like a dead mount at the zoo.

Besides the lack of transparency and a real cultural understanding of public art the main reason we struggle with public art in Sioux Falls is because of Conservatism. No new boards, full-time coordinators or public/private partnerships will solve this problem.

UPDATE: It is pretty obvious to me that the Bunker Ramp mural artist has a bigger objective. I have a good professional artist friend who used to live in Sioux Falls and still does gobs of work here. He figured out long ago to get your foot in the door is to donate a couple pieces here and couple of pieces there, and the floodgates will open for you. He told me recently he has so much work here now he has considered moving back.

The mural artist who created the Bunker Ramp mural, Walter Portz, first donated his time to create a mural at the Levitt (Sioux Steel District) and has still been working on smaller pieces for the place. He moved onto doing the Bunker Ramp mural for pennies on the dollar. After expenses I would assume Walter took in about $20K of the $30K for the mural. For a mural this size, it is bargain basement prices (normally an original piece like that would go far north of $100K).

Fast forward to the recent BID tax district the Sioux Steel project received for public amentaties including public art and I would assume Portz is angling to do some of that art.

Good for him!

This is how you get your projects funded. Do I agree with the process? Hell NO! But that is how it works in Sioux Falls. If you are a talented artist that can follow thru, you just need to play a few reindeer games.

Personally I will just keep selling my crappy $25 dollar paintings and dream that one day I will get to paint over another city f’up.

UPDATE: I guess the task force meetings will be closed to the public. Because, you know, double down.

We can get creative with the mounts. You can have the aquarium on one side of the hall and animal dioramas on the opposite wall with creative lighting (Like LED WALLPAPER) and scenes and in cased glass with a proper ventilation system.

I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble but we all know that even if the city council agrees to saving the collection, we won’t be able to save it all. Some of the pieces (around 10%) probably won’t be able to be saved. Some of the other pieces may be able to be saved, but just for research purposes and not display purposes since a lot of them are endangered species. Keeping hair and tissue samples from these mounts is essential. But most of the collection will be able to be saved, repaired and put on display.

I’m not going to get into the money argument about how much this will cost or the rumors about donations being withheld.

Let’s just pretend for a moment a large donor comes forward and agrees to pay for most of the repair and new displays, let’s take the opportunity to create one of the most unique aquariums and natural history museums to ever exist in the country.

I do agree with the city on one aspect, we shouldn’t give the collection away. The taxpayers own those mounts and whether the zoo likes it or not, they are in care of them. Some private attorneys have even speculated that the city may be forced to save them do to past gifting/purchase agreements?

These mounts need to remain publicly owned and they need to be saved, for anything, at least historical reasons.

Trust me, when this foundation started, I knew exactly what was up;

For the ultrawealthy, donating valuables like artwork, real estate and stocks to their own charitable foundation is an alluring way to cut their tax bills. In exchange for generous tax breaks, they are supposed to use the assets to serve the public: Art might be put on display where people can see it, or stock sold to fund programs to fight child poverty. Across the U.S., such foundations hold over $1 trillion in assets.

While I am sure many folks that are associated with our local parks foundation are doing this for the benefit of the public, because legally they have to, the real reason they are doing it is because of the massive tax breaks. While the administration and others applaud this partnership because they are assisting with building our parks, if we just made the wealthy pay their full taxes we could fully fund parks, school lunches, universal healthcare, etc., you get the picture. Instead they pull this crap;

Unlike public charities, private foundations are typically funded by a single donor or family, who retain a high degree of control long after receiving a tax break for ostensibly giving their possessions away. “This is the classic problem with private foundations: Substantial contributors can see it as their thing,” said Philip Hackney, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh and former IRS attorney. “There’s generally not a coalition who cares, other than the family, so there’s nothing to ensure that the assets are used for a particular purpose,” he added.

Besides the frustration that most wealthy individuals don’t pay anywhere near the percentage in taxes that we do, they are also picking the projects in our PUBLIC PARKS, while plastering their names on the projects.

Were the citizens screaming for a new tennis court or ice ribbon? Never heard a peep.

So as taxpayers we are allowing the super rich to get out of paying their fair share of taxes while saddling citizens with over half the cost and operating expenses (even though the ice ribbon will have an endowment fund for operating expenses, it won’t cover maintenance, etc. and I am sure the fund is just another write-off for the donor.)

In theory, it’s illegal to fail to provide a public benefit or to make personal use of foundation assets. But the rules defining what’s in the public interest are vague, according to tax experts; for example, Congress has never defined how many hours a museum would need to be open to be considered accessible to the public. And with the IRS depleted by a decade of budget cuts, enforcement has been lax. The agency examines an average of 225 returns among the 100,000 filed by private foundations each year, according to agency statistics.

The other problem with it is that while the rest of us pay our fair share of taxes, and rely on the government to provide services to us, the rich not only get out of those taxes, they get to decide what the ‘public benefit’ should be and essentially take the money intended for taxes with no control of how it is spent, and pick the project that THEY want.

Besides the lost tax revenue, the public is being completely left out of the process while footing half the cost or more for the PUBLIC projects and decades of maintenance and operation, this is why I adamantly oppose Private/Public partnerships for our public parks. The public simply doesn’t have a say in the matter and that needs to end.

While I am all for the wealthy in town dropping some G’s for public projects, since this is a tax write off, the public should decide how that donation is spent, and not the donor.