Entries Tagged 'Washington Pavilion' ↓

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 😊

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).

City of Sioux Falls Thursday’s Tidbits

Sioux Falls Ethics Commission met today, but we don’t know why

It says in the agenda;

CONFIDENTIAL REQUEST FOR ADVISORY OPINION 21-1 RECEIVED 10-14-2021 (EXECUTIVE SESSION TO DISCUSS PERSONNEL MATTERS PURSUANT TO SDCL 1-25-2(1) AND CONSULTING WITH LEGAL COUNSEL PURSUANT TO SDCL 1-25-2(3))

This could be anyone with the city, employee or elected official. Since it is confidential we will never know. I think even if these meetings are in private, they should at least release the question and the decision without exposing who is asking. How do we know if the Ethics Commission made the right decision if we cannot watch the proceedings?

Will the Washington Pavilion be hired to run the Ice Ribbon?

With the new ice ribbon set to be built soon down by Falls Park, some are wondering if the Parks Department has what it takes to run the paid admission facility. Since they will have to have a ticketing booth and some kind of staff to assist people, they will likely have to hire a contractor to do it. While I am sure the Pavilion could handle it, what I don’t understand is why can’t the Parks Department? Oh that’s right, besides the department being ran by a two-faced liar, they can’t even hire part-time lifeguards, now try to find part-time ice guards. Maybe we should just let the Pavilion run our entire parks department, they are already draining our entertainment tax fund every year, might as well put them to work.

Available Liquor Licenses in Sioux Falls

After the 2020 Census, Sioux Falls has become eligible for more ON and OFF-SALE liquor licenses, I am awaiting the official numbers from the city but what I have heard unofficially is there is 27 additional Package (off-sale) licenses and 19 Retail (on-sale) licenses available. Not sure how many are already spoken for. Once I get more information I will let you know.

The Curbside Garbage ordinance is already on next week’s docket

I can almost guarantee the Rubberstamp Council will pass the curbside garbage ordinance and allow haulers to charge extra for valet service:

The Sioux Falls City Council will likely consider an amendment to the city’s garbage ordinances that could allow garbage haulers to require curbside placement of garbage cans for pickup or charge extra to continue valet service.

It should be up to the consumer if they want to do it and there should be NO extra charge for the service. But it sounds like the hauler wants the city to force the consumer to do it, and if they don’t want to, they will be charged extra.

Whether the city council will support the move is another issue. In his Facebook post, Neitzert said he was “torn on this issue,” and asked for feedback from residents, and Councilor Rick Kiley said earlier this year he’d be against any such change if haulers weren’t planning on lowering rates for reduced service.


Councilor Janet Brekke has also regularly expressed her support for the current ordinance and how it keeps trash cans away from the street, improving the city’s aesthetics.

You never know, it might come to a tie vote with Poops siding with the haulers, we will see. You know my feelings on it, I think the city should contract with 4 major PRIVATE haulers and divide the city into 4 sections and pay our garbage bill with our water and sewer. We already own the landfill, why would we charge tipping fees? Yesterday while driving to work thru Cathedral neighborhood I saw two trucks parked next to each other from different haulers collecting cans at the same time on the same street. Dumb.

Oh, and let’s hear about 3 city councilors who profess about apartment dwellers being great for a neighborhood, but don’t live next to them. I do, and I love apartments, but I love my house more.

When is the Washington Pavilion going to present the 2019 & 2020 Annual Report to the Sioux Falls City Council?

The last report to show up on the Pavilion’s site is 2018. If you do a search of city council informational meetings you are unable to find the last time the Pavilion has presented an annual report to the City Council. I guess I’m curious why the 2019 and 2020 annual reports are missing? The Great Plains Zoo will be presenting their annual report to the Parks Board on Wednesday (no supporting docs).

I would also like to see what the financials are for the Levitt from this past season (we may not see those until next spring).

I am often curious how organizations that receive millions in tax dollars to subsidize and provide maintenance to their facilities can just skirt providing financial reports to the citizens or don’t even post them online to at least view. This is what happens when you have a city ran by a cruise control mayor who hates open and transparent government, or maybe he just doesn’t understand it?

CHIEF CULTURAL OFFICER RESIGNS?

In more cruise control government ineptness, the rumor is that the Chief Cultural Officer that the Mayor so desperately needed has resigned and leaving the city this week. If true, I find the timing ironic considering several councilors have asked publicly at meetings when they will get a review about what she has contributed to the city since her position was created. I guess the best way to get out of giving a report is to quit. LOL.

Will the Washington Pavilion’s Board of Directors consider cutting the Director’s pay during the Pandemic?

I’m not sure what Darrin Smith’s salary is as the Director/President of the Pavilion, in fact the public hasn’t heard in years what that pay level is since they moved the annual meeting until sometime in July(?). Moles have told me it is well over of $170K. Now, don’t me wrong, if Covid didn’t exist and the Pavilion was having sold out shows throughout the winter and the endowment was overflowing, it may be justified, but when you are cutting staff like mad and you literally have NO SHOWS going on (the Pavilion’s bread and butter) wouldn’t you consider cutting executive pay at least until they can start booking shows again? For all management?

Money wise, the Pavilion has turned a corner starting with the past presidents and continuing with Smith, but mostly because Smith has gotten out the axe well before the pandemic. Isn’t it ironic when a crisis occurs (even at a non-profit) the first to be thrown to the curb or receive pay cuts are the minions while the execs still roll in the dough. It’s pretty pathetic, but a continuing tradition of the Pavilion that has only been a drain on taxpayer’s entertainment tax fund.

Besides the Events Center (losing close to $3 million now) the Pavilion may be next in line for a bailout, we wouldn’t want Director Smith’s lifestyle interrupted, would we?

It looks as though the cartoonist who ran the VAC (he lasted longer than I thought he would) and the HR director are on the outs, probably not in too big of a hurry to rehire;

The Director of Museums is an amazing position responsible for the Vision and Mission of the Washington Pavilion Management, Inc. Museum filled with visual arts! This role reports directly to our Chief Operations Officer. FT, exempt-level (salary) position; Monday-Friday, Day shifts (flexible on creating a schedule)with some weekends and evenings for occasional & special events. Plus Director on Duty rotation every 6-8 weeks to be the on-call DOD for the Washington Pavilion. Excellent compensation based on education experience & leadership skills plus an excellent full benefits package!

The Human Resources Manager is an engaging position at the Washington Pavilion responsible for the overall administration, management and evaluation of Washington Pavilion Management, Inc (WPMI) human resource related functions, including recruiting and selection; on-boarding and employee development; performance management; compensation and benefits; policies and procedures; employee well-being & safety; and compliance with state and federal employment laws and regulations. The HR Manager will also have responsibility for submission and/or tracking of worker’s compensation information, OSHA logs, and FMLA records. This role will report to the CEO/President and work closely with the Accounting department to support Administration & the Executive team.

Washington Square Developer whines about the easement process

(FF 41:00)

Yes, folks, only in good old Sioux Falls would a developer complain about how he had to front a little money in legal fees and surveying (City Council Meeting, Items 16-17) after receiving some easements.

First the obvious, and replying to one of his main complaints, that while taxpayers are essentially giving him FREE land, that this gifting party should somehow also pay these fees?!

This same developer also received millions in a TIF (massive tax rebate) before the project was built. While I do complain sometimes when the council doesn’t discuss an item or answer constituent questions, I did chuckle a bit last night after this developer stood at the microphone and cried about how he had to spend a couple of grand (to receive FREE property). Their non-response to this unwarranted fit was completely appropriate. Not a single councilor, the mayor, the city attorney or any of the planning/environmental staff responded to his rant.

It reminds me of when I used to wait tables and people would want a free meal if I forgot to give them complimentary free bread. This developer has received free property and millions in tax breaks and has the nerve to complain about it?!

UPDATE: City of Sioux Falls spends over $200K of your taxdollars to promote covid tourism and super spreader events

After watching this press conference, I just shook my head, just like I do every time I see the POTUS at a press conference.

UPDATE: You will notice in the video, Teri Schmidt, who runs the CVB mentions that ClickRain is the company who has the contract with the CVB. This of course is Mayor TenHaken’s former company. The city council just approved over $200K to go towards this promotion, which will essentially be handed over to ClickRain. Can anyone say ‘conflict of interest’?

It was also pointed out to me after the meeting, that Paul stated to someone he is very nervous about how this is all going to work with our recent spike. As it has been said, Paul, now is the time to lead.

Why on earth would we be promoting tourism in the middle of a pandemic (and soon influenza season) while our numbers are spiking out of control?

A new program championed by the city of Sioux Falls called Sioux Falls Alive aims to give people safe programs and events during the fall and winter months.

“We have to figure out how we co-exist with COVID-19 over the winter,” Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

“We have to continue to look at ways to give our community, give our families, give people in Sioux Falls ways to stay engaged in the community, ways to stay involved in activities to do but doing so in a very safe and socially distant fashion … believe it or not those things can co-exist.”

Sioux Falls is “going to demonstrate how that can be done,” he added.

We have hardly figured out how to keep our workplaces and nursing homes safe, how on earth can you have beer gardens and masquerade parties? At least people will be wearing masks at one of the events.

While I often have said Mayor Stoneless really does have stones (mostly between his ears) I wonder who is really pushing this hair brain idea of ignoring the covid, let’s party?!

He is right about one thing, the hospitality industry will be devastated over the winter in Sioux Falls. With our numbers spiking, especially in Minnehaha and Lincoln county, our bars and restaurants this winter will be practically empty. They struggle anyway when it gets cold out, put Covid on top of that, not a good situation.

While I commend our city leaders for trying to keep the hospitality industry going in SF during a pandemic, this is a poor plan.

There should be more exploration of how to make takeout and food delivery more convenient and affordable AND profitable for these businesses instead of worrying about our public entertainment facilities (the Romans called it Bread and Circus for a reason). One of my friends suggested easing the laws so bars/restaurants can deliver pre-made cocktails to your home with food, or to avoid the alcohol laws, deliver setups with recipe instructions on what alcohol to add.

There are many great ideas out there to keep businesses open, but promoting a Covid holiday and super spreader events in our city, while using my tax money, is about as Covid stupid as I have seen.

Events Center Complex loses $2.5 million in past year

Of course, it was no surprise they lost this much, it was just a little unusual we heard it at a SF City Council informational meeting from the finance director. The complex (EC, CC and Arena) was probably expected to lose money during Covid, but as I have mentioned over the past few days and weeks, the Denty hasn’t exactly been that stellar in attendance for well over a year and trust me, the bleeding of the complex will continue well into 2021.

What was not included in the discussion is the $10 million a year bond payment the taxpayers will continue to have to pay out of our 2nd penny (which should be spent on needed infrastructure and roads). We will also have to keep the lights and heat on as well and timely maintenance while the city’s finance director has given sponsors a pass on paying their dues.

While the management company has said they laid off many people, what they didn’t mention is if the executives took a pay cut? I mean really? What are you doing right now? I can only imagine they have all built George Costanza beds under their desks. Why not just furlough the entire management company until we can start booking shows again? Why are the taxpayers subsidizing these salaries?

The Washington Pavilion, as I understand, cut 25% of their workforce, for that very reason, if you have no shows, you don’t need people to work them.

As I said, the Denty was already bleeding, and this place will eventually become the dented up yolk around taxpayers necks for decades. I don’t expect the place to turn a profit again for at least 5 years, but that’s okay, we can keep digging into the taxpayer’s pockets even though almost 50% voted against it.