Entries Tagged 'Washington Pavilion' ↓

Sioux Falls City Council Tidbits

During the regular city council meeting last night the council touched on several topics;

WASHINGTON PAVILION’S DARRIN SMITH CLAIMS THEY NEED $5 MILLION IN RESERVES

The director/president/CEO of the Pavilion told councilors during the contract renewal last night that they needed a $5 Million dollar ‘reserve’ in case they have some struggles. While I would agree they do need a slush fund, most of those reserves should be in an endowment fund that earns money thru it’s investment. It is insane that the city continues to dump millions each year into the Pavilion for maintenance and operating while the Pavilion stuffs private and Federal contributions into a savings account. Councilors defended the reserve. Of course they did.

DOWNTOWN SIOUX FALLS BID TAX INCREASE HITS A SNAG

I do support the increase, which is actually very minimal to even the largest property owners DTSF;

Druley did not specify what Raven’s new assessment would be, although a 377% increase over the assessment’s current cap of $1,700 would come to $8,109.

I’m glad our local paper hasn’t taken away their reporters calculators . . . yet.

I find it shocking that TWO properties (Raven and Sunshine/Norberg Paints-which are in the same building) can have this sort of deferral control over the council. This was vetted by DTSF and after it was explained to me it is easy to understand and why NO OTHER downtown property owners that have valuations over $1 million have come out opposed to this;

Batcheller has said the change would affect 88 buildings in the district and bring in another $160,000 per year, and estimated that Cherapa Place’s expansion and the Sioux Steel district could account for another $115,000.

It’s really not that much money, but that didn’t stop the threats;

And she floated the threat of the company leaving the downtown area as well.

“Raven is accountable to its shareholders and its board, and it’s harder to justify its presence in downtown Sioux Falls as expenses increase relative to the benefit they get,” Druley said.

See yah later!

What was NOT mentioned by the council or Raven’s legal counsel is that Raven is no longer a locally owned business. It is now owned by a very, very, very, wealthy Italian family. I have assumed after the purchase that the new owners will look to consolidate and possibly leave Sioux Falls anyway and there is very little the city can do to stop it. I hope that doesn’t happen, but we have NO guarantees it won’t.

Also not factored into their crocodile tears is that Raven has benefitted from the millions of dollars taxpayers have invested in the River Greenway making more of an attractive workplace downtown. The promotion of DTSF has also benefitted Sunshine Foods, the only FULL SERVICE grocery store in the center of downtown. I have been shopping there for 30 years, and I have seen how the store has improved it’s image in step with DTSF improving it’s overall image.

Funny how the council will keel over when ONE hired gun lawyer makes veiled threats but when dozens of citizens show up to the meetings to oppose rezones, bunker ramps, etc., they ignore the warnings.

The council should have just voted YES last night to the increase and thanked Raven for their concerns. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

EFFORTS CONTINUE TO CLEAN UP THE BIG PIOUX

While I applaud the efforts, we can’t ignore the 700 pound turd floating down the river;

Entenman notes that 78 percent of the stream miles of the Big Sioux watershed – which is the size of New Jersey – are impaired, meaning the water quality doesn’t meet certain standards, either through contamination with E. coli or other issues, primarily from runoff – from agricultural practices to city streets and residential yards.

Unless you can get the property owners (mostly ag) along the Big Pioux to actively stop that runoff, you will NEVER be able to clean up that river.

“What is the point in putting multimillion-dollar buildings on the shores of the river if it’s polluted,” Entenman said.

I have asked that question for decades.

THE STATE LEGISLATURE AND CITY COUNCIL NEED TO PASS COMPREHENSIVE GUN CONTROL

After Noem and the state legislature’s right wing radicals approved open/concealed carry laws there has been a large increase in gun violence in the state’s largest city. I don’t think that is a coincidence;

Court records indicate Billion was shot with one of four stolen guns from the McKennan Park neighborhood. They were all taken from the same truck.

And there are ZERO consequences for the incredibly irresponsible gun owner, but they do have to live with the guilt, poor fella;

It’s something people have to live with and I’d say that’s one of the unintended consequences if you happen to leave your gun in an unlocked garage, car, house whatever it may be and it ends up stolen,” Sioux Falls Police Information Officer Sam Clemens said.

While I don’t think this reckless gun owner should go to jail, I do think they should face a very heavy fine and be banned from ever owning a gun. While the city has had ordinance bans on tobacco and alcohol use in our public parks, fines for not trimming your trees or scooping your sidewalks and bans on texting and driving the state legislature and city council seem to lack the courage to punish irresponsible gun owners when their stolen property is used to murder our citizens.

I am hoping with the influence the Billion family has in our community they would pressure the legislature, the governor and the city council to implement reasonable gun control laws so there is a least some consequences for not securing a deadly weapon.

Sioux Falls City Council Informational Meeting

Next week the city council has decided to tackle three big topics all in one game;

• Washington Pavilion Management Agreement Renewal by Shawn Pritchett, Finance Director

(two questions councilors need to ask; 1) what is the current compensation of the CEO, Darrin Smith & 2) Why is there $5.2 million dollars in the management companies savings account? Also curious is how that savings account jumped $2.2 million in one year? I will be honest with you, I think it is wonderful the Pavilion is building such an account, but it should be an endowment. And why do we continue to subsidize them operationally? I don’t take issue with maintenance costs, because as taxpayers, we own the joint, but after over 20 years, when will it become the place for ‘EVERYBODY’?)

• Homeless Task Force Report by Council Member Rich Merkouris Here is a simple breakdown from The Dakota Scout (and me);

• $500,000 – Homeless engagement

The recommendation calls for entering into a contract with a third party on a two-year pilot project referred to as a street outreach team.

The cost estimate of $500,000 includes $300,000 in the first year and another $200,000 the second.

(This is a good step forward, BUT, the SFPD also needs to have officers on follows to learn from this. I guess it has been successful in Rapid City.)

• $125,000 – Public education

The task force wants to tap into the existing nonprofits already working in the social services arena to develop a public education campaign that teaches area residents about the challenges of homelessness, how it can be addressed and how to deal with panhandling.

(I personally think it is ludicrous to have to educate people about panhandling and homelessness, BUT, before I lived in a NW coastal city in my teens, I knew very little about these things so it is merited, BUT, the local media, print, radio and TV need to step up and just do this out of the goodness of their hearts.)

•$352,000 – Rally around Network of Care

A grant program could be created to help more nonprofits and other social service agencies become partners in the Helpline Center’s Network of Care, which was created in 2015 to give social service agencies a mechanism to connect with each other in aiding clients.

Of that $352,000, $250,000 would specifically be used to fund the grant program, while the task force is calling for an additional $102,000 directly for the Helpline Center “for HIPAA compliance,” the recommendation reads.

(This is a wonderful software(?) program, the issue I have is the cost. If every service registered with this program used it, wouldn’t that bring the cost down? A good question to ask.)

• $500,000+ – ‘Housing First wraparound services’

The City Council will be asked to create a joint committee with the Minnehaha County Commission to explore grant funding opportunities for new properties and partnerships that could lead to additional housing stability with associated programming for employment and substance abuse recovery support.

While there’s no finite estimate on what it might cost, Merkouris speculated it could be anywhere from $500,000 to as much as the Council and county might be willing dedicate to the plan.

(I have argued from the beginning that this would be costly, BUT we need a plan to look at before throwing money at it. There are zoning laws and regs we could change to force developers to provide this kind of housing which would cost taxpayers $0.)

• SiouxFalls.org Website Redesign by Allie Hartzler, Communications and Culture Officer; and Justine Murtha, Digital Communications Manager;

• siouxfalls.org was last redesigned in 2016.
• Each month, the website has more than 70,000 monthly users, with 60% of users visiting on mobile devices.
• More than 4,800 pages, 9,000 documents, and 6,000 images* exist today.
• In June 2022, the City selected Granicus as a partner for the redesign.

(This is long overdue, and I feel sorry for Allie for getting this dumped in her lap, and the newly hired(?) Digital Communications Manager. But I also argue that this isn’t rocket science. The internet has been around for 30 years, web programming is mostly on auto-pilot and we can learn from other cities, like Omaha, who has a great city website. And we certainly should NOT be hiring a company that has f’kup our website and council agendas for years. It could be done internally by a very capable IT department (would have been a great work at home Covid project) but once again we are jobbing it out.)

With Non-Profit Mergers you wonder what they have in the bank

This week was busy with another non-profit merger;

The Butterfly House & Aquarium has raised $4.2 million toward its capital campaign to expand aquarium exhibits, which can be applied toward the project, Otto-Pepper said.

Of course the Butterfly House is merging with the Zoo and it seems they have raised a lot of money.

LSS is also merging with the Multi-Cultural center, which I fully support, and probably is long past due.

But you have to wonder what is going on with their bank accounts.

As you know, the Levitt has yet to release numbers from their 2021 season even as their 2022 season has been finished for over a month.

The Denny Sanford Premier center is up for contract renewal and they are taking in millions in profits and commissions.

According to the Pavilion’s annual report in 2021 they had over $5 million in the bank. This is after basically skipping a year due to Covid. You also have to remember that we not only give the Pavilion a yearly operational subsidy but we give millions each year fixing the building due to the poor construction of the facility to begin with (windows, roofs, etc.)

Maybe it is time the city council takes a hard look at how much we are subsidizing these facilities taking into consideration how much is in their bank accounts. Do we really need to subsidize the Pavilion, the Zoo, the Denty and other facilities when they may have millions in their bank accounts. I don’t think so.

UPDATE: Levitt Sioux Falls had a stellar 2022 season, still wondering what happened in 2021

UPDATE: I wanted to note that ALL the arts non-profits in Sioux Falls that receive city taxpayer funding should be giving the public their full financials each year. I was told today that the Pavilion hasn’t done this for a long time. One of the reasons is that they are rumored to have millions in endowment and savings (not under the city umbrella but under the management company) which means if the management company was ever terminated they would take the money with them.

I will admit, putting on 50 FREE outdoor concerts in SoDak and not having one single cancellation is quite an accomplishment. I also enjoyed seeing Lee Rocker from the Stray Cats (pics below) for the finale.

But after wrapping up a successful 2022 season, the Levitt has yet to tell us the financials from last year’s season. I find this even more ironic considering the Director of Levitt, Nancy Halverson ripped the city council a new one at the last meeting (they deserved it) for wanting to contract the Pavilion to do an arts study and running the municipal duties of the arts in Sioux Falls. Nancy stated that it was a huge conflict of interest since the Pavilion already receives arts funding from taxpayers. It is. But has that ever stopped the Pavilion before?

First off, government needs to stay out of the planning and implementation of arts programming in the city and just cut the checks.

Secondly, it is easy to complain about different organizations when you have hardly been transparent.

ALL of the arts programs and arts non-profits we have partnerships with should do a very public presentation of their annual reports in a very timely manner.

Is there any reason why we have never seen a 2021 annual report from the Levitt? It’s almost October 2022.

While they all want taxpayer money, they seem to struggle with telling us how that money is being spent. I’m all for my tax dollars going towards the arts and I have had incredible experiences at the Levitt, who have a dedicated staff that goes above and beyond, and a director that knows her sh!t!

If any thing, they ALL have conflicts of interest if they can’t tell us the financials.

The brother and sisterhood we have with our arts community is essential, but that love and trust comes from telling us where our money is going towards. It’s NOT a heavy lift.

Washington Pavilion, Transparency and FREE youth bus rides

During the Informational meeting yesterday I spoke about the Pavilion’s slow growth in concert revenue and memberships as well as charging to attend regional art shows. (FF: 49:20) Below is a graphic of the current annual report.

During the city council regular meeting I talked about transparency in government (FF: 7:00) and the FREE youth bus rides (FF: 15:10). For clarification, several advocacy groups have been pushing for this for over a decade. Last Fall a couple people from those groups reached out to me to blog about it. I then reached out to former SF School board president Cynthia Mickelson who currently still serves on the board. She thought it was a good idea since the school district has been struggling with their own bus system and she reached out to councilor Curt Soehl and they have been working diligently to get it pushed through the transit board. A big thank you to both of them for their diligence.

What’s wrong with this picture? Nothing.

You will notice that I erased the parapet from the top of the Pavilion in this photo and kept the cornice, I actually think it looks better. I sometimes wonder when Washington HS was built some greedy contractor talked the school district into the railing to begin with? Some things don’t change.

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

Washington Pavilion presenting their Bazillion Dollar roof on Tuesday

In other news from the Pavilion, there will be a presentation tomorrow for the new roof and their parapet replacement (you know, those spindle thingies on the top of the building that no one knows are there and if not replaced, most people would not notice);

Washington Pavilion Cornice and Parapet Replacement by Scott Rust, Purchasing Manager; and Steve Jastram, Arch, Inc.

As we know, there have been several numbers thrown out there about fixing the roof, the highest is around $6 million. Even councilors have asked if they don’t do the parapets could it be cheaper. But what most people don’t know is that the roof has to be fixed because 1) the parapets are about to fall off and 2) it wasn’t constructed correctly to begin with. When the center of the building was gutted during construction they were supposed to replace the entire roof as a complete roof, instead to cut corners they matched up the new roof over the Great Hall with the existing roof over the outside office space and lobby. It would be like backing your Ferrari into a telephone pole and fixing the cracked fender with duct tape and spray paint. They were warned it would not work, and it didn’t. In fact it leaked from the very beginning and was/has been causing water damage in the building and over the years they kept applying more duct tape and spray paint. As for the parapets, they should just go completely, they are a hazard, even if the new ones are made from fix-a-flat foam or something.

What is interesting about this proposal is that the Pavilion hasn’t released a financial report in 1-1/2 years, but recently they changed their reporting period from July-June for the fiscal year. We have NO IDEA what the finances were from July 2020-June 2021. But if you look closely, even during the first half of Covid the Pavilion did pretty good (pages 27-28). What is interesting is that expenses in 2020 were around $8 Million while in 2019 they were $13 million, yet the books level out at the end.

Hmmmmmm.

I just think the Bazillion has some splaining to do before asking the tax payers to blow $6 million on a roof from the entertainment tax when they have some money in their kitty to help pay for it.

Why is the Washington Pavilion hosting a show that promotes a cult?

I got an email from a foot soldier a few weeks ago, but didn’t think much of it;

I received a mailer about something called “Shen Yun: China before Communisim”. This is a stage shown produced by the Falun Gong religious movement, who is more well known for their pro-Trump rag The Epoch Times. They are going to put on one of these Shen Yun performances at the Washington Pavilion on January 26th. I wonder if this is worthy of a blog post as a SF government organization is allowing a pro-Trump religious movement to host a show at the Pavilion.

I responded;

I get it, and would agree this is a POS show, but the Pavilion is ran by a private non-profit even if it does get subsidies from the city they can basically put on any governmental or religious show and have over the years. You also have to realize the place is ran by a person who only cares about cashing in and making money.

As I mentioned above, there is little stopping the Washington Bazillion from putting on the show, and Holy Sh!t it is expensive. I guess cults don’t get money from trees.

If you don’t know much about the Falun Dafa Cult they seem to revel in being anti-socialism, anti-gay, anti-atheist, anti-premarital sex and and anti-science all rolled into a big old barrel of monkeys. Wait, I think I just described our governor’s agenda.

Secretly I am actually thinking about going just so I can laugh at the end when the Karl Marx character ruins all the fun. But I am also NOT a fan of putting my money in a burn barrel.

I encourage anyone thinking about going to NOT go and if you already have purchased tickets to ask for a refund siting you don’t wish to support a cult. I sometimes wonder whoever is booking the shows over there even bothers to do a little research. It reminds of how they didn’t book Lucinda Williams (about a month before she won a Grammy) because they didn’t think they could fill the seats or how they canceled negotiations with Hank the III because he wouldn’t promise to do all old timey music sets.

But a Chinese cult ballet for $180 a ticket? That’s A okay.

There may be a reason why the Washington Pavilion Management is hiding the 2020 Financial Report

They pocketed gobs of money?

Over the past couple of days I have been told that the Pavilion has been actively trying to hide the 2020 report because of the buckets of money they brought in (a year that they were pretty much closed) and they fear if city leadership saw this or the public, their massive subsidies in operational and maintenance costs would go bye bye.

As I have stated for awhile, the Pavilion pretty much eats up the entertainment tax every year for maintenance. The bonds for the place have been paid off for a long time and the 3rd penny never went away, so it is slush fund for the Pavilion to add capital to the building without dipping into operational subsidies. The place is a complete f’ing money pit and the only thing that is FREE in the building is the bathrooms.

During COVID the Pavilion pretty much closed their doors, cancelled that season, laid off most part-time employees and a handful of full time. Most would assume that would mean financial ruin, but it is quite possible it is the exact opposite. Without any rent to pay, a significant reduction in labor costs, Federal Covid money and around 40%(?) of patrons never asking for a refund on their season tickets (they were allowed to make it a charitable donation toward the Pavilion) the place likely cashed in, BIG TIME while crickets roamed the halls.

I urge the city council to DEMAND the 2020 financial report be handed over and released to the public. It would also be nice to see what the 6-figure salary of the director has risen to (rumors are it hovers at $200K).