Snowplow Cowboy?

A citizen has been telling me for awhile that a private contractor contracted for city snow removal that lives in their neighborhood is using a city contracted motor grader blade and snowgate to clear his personal driveway and the driveways of two of his friends in his neighborhood (as I understand it, one of his friends is a SFPO)*.

This occurred Monday, January 13th (when BTW, there was NO Snow Alert) between 5 and 6 a.m.  This citizen called to make the Street Department aware of this.  They were told a supervisor would address it.

OBVIOUSLY NOT, because he and a second motor grader were back in the neighborhood last evening (01-17-2020) clearing the same three driveways. 

Yesterday, the City issued a Snow Alert and notified the public that they would BEGIN to plow Zone 3 the morning of Saturday, January 18, 2020.

While some would say ‘this is a nice gesture’ I would likely agree, if it was a private contractor, but these maintainers are contracted by the city and outfitted with our tax dollars. In other words, a big no-no. What if some property got damaged while providing this ‘service’ or worse someone got hurt? Who would be responsible than?

*Who says POs in Sioux Falls don’t get fringe benefits? Free meals at the hospitals and now city funded snow removal of personal property.

Finicky by Proxy

Natalie Merchant on tiny desk

Midco Aquatic Center subsidy in 2019 double of what predicted

I just about fell out of my chair when a city official sent me this;

Aquatic Subsidies for 2019

Total $2,335,028

Indoor $794,913   34% of the subsidy

Outdoor $1,540,115   66% of the subsidy

*2019 financials are not final until after the Audit is completed.

We were originally told that the yearly subsidy for the MAC would be around $400K, it is almost double that. We were also told that it would be so popular that that subsidy would possibly get smaller the longer it was open. Not the case. Just imagine if the Sanford Sports Complex opens an indoor pool, than what will happen? I said before it opened that it was in the wrong location, it didn’t include other stuff like a fitness area, it was too small and didn’t have enough space for expansion. It also has a lot of private competition. As predicted, the MAC will be a yolk around the taxpayers necks for years to come.

Was LifeScape’s street closure plan just a ploy to add value to the property?

As we said when they lost that battle with the city council ‘Yes, Yes and Yes’.

So here is the news we expected to hear;

The new facilities will replace LifeScape’s 26th Street children’s specialty hospital, residential and school location. 

The children’s campus on 26th street will eventually be sold, but that can’t happen until the new campus is fully functional. 

The project will require fundraising and infrastructure still needs to be done. While LifeScape ideally would like to be done in a few years, the entire campus could take up to five years, Watkins said.

The renderings shown in this piece were produced by the late architect Jeff Hazard before he passed away last year.

As suspected, these plans were probably already set in motion when they came to the council to ask for the street closure. See, the way the rules work is if a street is closed, the adjacent property owner (LifeScape, in this instance) gets possession of the property at NO cost. This of course increases the value of the property. Billion Auto pulled this trick a few years back, except they still own the property where the street used to be.

It pains me that a non-profit that employees great people, does great things in our community and is a needed service would have people in leadership/management who felt they should try to manipulate the city council and an entire neighborhood for financial gains. Thanks to the insight and vision of 3 councilors (Brekke, Starr and Stehly) and countless citizens in the neighborhood that pushed back, this financial windfall at the expense of taxpayers and people living in the neighborhood never happened. If you want our money, just ask. I often expect people to conduct their private business and non-profits with integrity, but especially organizations that help the disabled.

The Saudi Prince of South Dakota needs to go

As I posted about on January 2, there is a little trouble in the SD GOP;

A group of Fall River Republicans are demanding that Dan Lederman resign as chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party due to his lobbying work for Saudi Arabia.

The Fall River County Republicans’ Central Committee unanimously approved a resolution on Tuesday night alleging that Lederman has a conflict of interest between his role leading the state Republican Party and his work lobbying “against American citizens on behalf of a foreign government.”

The resolution has been sent to the party’s State Central Committee for consideration.

I heard about this on January 2, when I posted about it. But as I understand it, Fall River is NOT the only county organization drafting letters. I have heard about at least 3 counties if not more. This will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Former Sioux Falls Mayor Rick Knobe posts on FB about his feelings of big money in City Council race

While I don’t agree with all of Rick’s points, he asks some very good questions;

Confession time. I’m feeling torn.

Back on the boat in Mobile, Alabama. Plan is to finish my Great Loop Adventure in next two months. Retirement is good. I worked hard and know I’ve made an impact on Sioux Falls, and those around me.

In Sioux Falls, and now in Pierre, things are happening.

The at-large council seat is up, along with three district positions. The at-large incumbent, Theresa Stehly has not yet announced her intentions.

A young man has announced and he has been given a huge amount of money(about 70 thousand as if this writing) to defeat her. Contributors include the usual big money folks, mostly connected Republicans.

Standing out is a 10,000 dollar check from former Governor Dennis Daugaard. Obviously the former Governor can donate money to anyone he wants. But this is the same Governor who worked hard to ban out of state money from state elections, speaking out, and signing a bill outlawing the practice. That bill was ultimately determined to be unconstitutional.

Last I knew Dennis and his wife lived near Garretson, outside of Sioux Falls. Are large contributions of out of city money ok for city elections in his mind, but not out of state money for state wide elections?

His contribution is probably legal, but in the face of previous statements and actions is he being ethically consistent?

Back to the election. Stehly’s opponent vows to raise well over $100,000. The four year job pays less than $20,000 a year. Are he and his people “jumping the shark?”( reference to the Happy Days TV show. The Fonz waterskiing while dressed in his jeans and leather jacket, jumping over a shark).

I don’t know the candidate. His pledge to raise more than five, nearly six times the salary seems beyond excessive. Is he motivated to serve or only to win? What does he want to do to improve life in Sioux Falls?

The mayor has created a PAC. He has given money to sitting council members he wants re-elected. Legal? Probably. Ethical? No definitive answer. He is the first mayor in Sioux Falls history to create a PAC. Is he mimicking the big dogs from DC?

One could ask, does he want to serve us, the citizens, or does he want to be a powerbroker?

In Pierre, we are only a few days into the session and already 42 legislators have signed onto a bill putting themselves, and maybe us, if the bill passes, into medical advice and treatment rooms to make felons out of professionals helping individuals and families deal with one of the most complex issues of human bodies, brains, and emotions, gender identity.

I consider myself relatively intelligent. I have talked with a physician who helps deal with people suffering from a gender identity issue. (He lives In Minnesota). It’s complicated. Very complicated.

I feel for people dealing the sex identity problems. I know enough to know, I don’t know enough about it to offer advice. I certainly don’t want to be in the treatment room and I don’t want elected officials in there either, in person or thru laws they pass.

I wonder what else is coming in Pierre? It’s scary.

I’m hoping those of you who care about local and state government will speak up and take action. Testify. Vote. Get involved.

We might not be able to influence the idiocy in Washington, but we can and should stop it in Pierre and prevent it from infecting Sioux Falls.

Godspeed

Of course Alex Jensen’s campaign manager, Matt Paulson had to respond (twice);

Matt Paulson – The issue is not dissenting Ms. Stehly’s votes and a need to control everything. The issue is with how she treats people that she disagrees with, which is very poorly. She seems unable to have a reasonable disagreement without declaring all out war. After repeated phone calls, underhanded blog posts that she orchestrated, complaints by her about me to numerous community leaders, threatening to vote against future funding for an organization she thought I was affiliated with and using her position as a city councilor to attack someone that has political disagreements with her in a public meeting, I’ve just had enough. She bullies people and tries to intimidate people into not speaking out against her by using whatever leverage she can find (usually calling people’s employers). It’s wrong. City officials should treat citizens, including those they disagree with, with respect. Frankly, That’s the main reason why I and others are working to elect someone else to that seat.

First off, NO ONE tells me what to post. Sure, people, including Stehly, have given me suggestions, but in the past, if they want to say something I suggest a ‘guest post’. I disagree with Theresa on a whole host of issues, and we have had our share of incredible fights. Remember, I have been blogging for almost 14 years, well before I knew Theresa, Cameraman Bruce and others. Ask them and they will all say the same, “I can’t tell Scott what to post.”

She should vote against future funding of the SFDF, especially when they use tax dollars to promote a candidate and violate laws. I would expect my elected officials to hold them to a higher standard.

It is also the job of elected officials to hold PUBLIC entities and their employees accountable, especially those who get public money.

Matt Paulson – One thing to consider is that every candidate is going to use the “tools in the toolbox” they have available to them to try to win an election. For Jensen, that is trying to leverage the establishment vote and the financial resources that come with that vote. For Stehly, that means using her elected office as a means to campaign, using her newsletter in the shopper, painting herself as the defender of the little guy. and showing up to as many events/meetings as she can because she does not have a full-time job outside of being a council member. I have a hard time believing that she, or any candidate for that matter, wouldn’t raise more money to win an election if that was a tool they had available to them.

All of the things you mention are called ‘doing her job’. C’mon Matt, are you that ignorant? BTW, when is Alex going to campaign or even tell us what his issues and stances are? Let’s say Theresa doesn’t run, and someone like Knobe gets in the race, is he just going to depend on his smiling face to win the race? Rick would kick his ass. I told someone the other day that it seems Jensen is taking the John Paulson approach to campaigning, “Stay positive and don’t take any stances.” Last I checked, Paulson spent a lot of money, and lost twice, first to Stehly than to Brekke. Not sure why you need to march forth on this losing strategy? But whatever. The only way you will win a council seat, especially running against a popular incumbent is by knocking on doors. All the money, yard signs and billboards won’t make a difference. And ironically, all of this hoopla, and Stehly hasn’t even announced if she will run again.

New Sioux Falls Art Org?

Well, kind of, part of another one, but I like the direction, and there are some very good people behind it.

First Public Sioux Falls City Council Operations Committee meeting

The operations committee has never met in the 7 years they have existed in public until a couple of months away from a city election in which the chair, Neitzert is up for re-election. Shocker. Towards the end, Councilor Brekke schooled them on the legal repercussions of using cell phones during public meetings (FF: 52:30)

Where is Mayor Paul?

To tell you the truth, I really don’t care. I think all mayors have a right to take a night off, whether that is for a ‘date night’ with the wife, or to look in the mirror and take selfies with his latest trucker hat. I really don’t think the mayor should be running the council meetings anyway, so good riddance.

Before I get to his absence, I have to tell you watching the discussion about a city ordinance about political signs in your yard with the city council meeting tonight is extremely laughable and a waste of time. The 1st Amendment protects political speech, and if you want a political sign in your yard for 100 years, the city can’t do a damn thing about it. Get over yourselves.

As for PTH, I really didn’t pay much mind, but the ‘rumors’ have been flowing in, here they are and take them with a grain of DaCola;

• He is on his yearly trip to Haiti for missionary work. Good for him. I also hear a local bank is funding the trip. Also, good for them (if true).

• He is at home avoiding an uncomfortable conversation about refugees and discrimination. Can’t blame him. Having public conversations about these things takes courage . . . that’s why my chickensh*t ass is at home watching this online. But I was very proud of this city tonight, and the testimony given. Embracing others is something we should all strive for.

Both resolutions passed as I suspected. And some people understood what I meant about having more ‘teeth’. It means budgeting for education programs that combat hate and discrimination. Councilor Brekke brought this up, and I am glad she did. I actually was very impressed by the conversation, but what most should understand is the freedom you were allowed tonight to speak on this issue is truly what it means to be American, freedom of speech. It gives you the right to denounce these things, it also gives those who hate us to do the same, unfortunately. I stand by what I have been saying about this over the last week. Use your rights to change minds and to educate others, but don’t limit your dissenters. Because the louder you are, they will soon be drowned out, and they will realize they have only abused their rights to send a message of self destruction. I know it is corny, but only Love conquers Hate, not speeches or resolutions.