Monday, March 14, 2011

It's a Sad State of Affairs at the City

According to the latest article in the March issue of BIZNOW and the recent article in the ARGUS LEADER, we should be thankful that the current mayor got elected to save the city administration from their lack of business acumen all these years.

"I want my office to encourage conversations and produce results," he says, "I want people to get excited about Sioux Falls, to dream big for this city and its future." That's wonderful, I just wish he didn't portray the organization before he came to the office of mayor, as mediocre, moved too slow, didn't think creatively, didn't think outside the box, and had no business acumen.

"I come from corporate America. We always valued opinions, valued dissent. But ultimately to stay alive you had to get stuff done, make tough decisions. If you did that, you moved forward. Otherwise, you were out of business ..."  Hearing him say over and over again that he is from Corporate America is like fingernails on the blackboard.

Value dissent? I think not. From what I hear, dissent is the last thing he wants to hear. He views dissent as a negative player on his team. Here is what he says about negative players: "..if you're a coach, and you've got negative players on your team, get rid of them or they can take the whole team down. I'd rather have someone who is willing to work their tail off in a positive way in the spirit of the team but maybe isn't as talented. I'll take them any day over the big stud who is difficult to deal with, whose got nothing better to do than complain all day." Big stud? Someone not so talented, but at least doesn't dissent? You have got to be kidding me. So a yes person, with average or mediocre talent is better than someone who speaks up and challenges him.  That is an interesting way to be a leader and manager of employees. Great leaders listen to all sides of the issues to come to the best result. Great leaders are not afraid of dissent.  Great leaders welcome differing views and opinions. Great leaders don't tear down, they build up.

"In the events center discussion, sincerely we are going way above and beyond in terms of communicating with the public about this unbelievably convoluted project. But because it is so convoluted, every time we talk it creates more rumor, speculation, innuendo, posturing and politics. That's when you go, 'Gosh, how are we ever going to get this thing done?' " I guess I didn't realize that when you talk about something, communicate with the good folks of Sioux Falls, it creates all that terrible stuff. Maybe just once, he should look within the "I" of himself and see if maybe, just maybe, as the CEO (his description of himself even though his actual title is Mayor) of the city, his leadership on this project is making it convoluted.

"I really do believe I am trying to be the most transparent, available and open mayor the city has had, and the people love it.  Honestly, other government officials have started following my lead."  Rumor has it that those ordinary good folks of Sioux Falls aren't hearing back from the mayor when they contact his office. There really is no end to an ego the size of Mount Rushmore. And, who are these government officials who have started to follow his lead anyway?

I have tried to believe this mayor was going to be good for Sioux Falls. I really have. But his constant rhetoric about how fortunate we are to have his business acumen, his corporate background knowledge, his communication skills in dealing with people is wearing me down.

News flash, Mr. Mayor. The city of Sioux Falls did not get where it was before you arrived on the scene without it's own business acumen capabilities. Goals and objectives, results oriented, fiscal responsibility were all there before you were elected. The one thing you haven't learned yet is, that as a new employee, you had a lot to learn about the operation of local government.  Listening and learning about your new organization, the Charter, Ordinances, civil service rules, understanding it's culture and the employees wasn't something on your agenda as demonstrated by your actions to date. .

What a new culture you are creating by tearing down everything that has come before you because, after all, you are the only one who has all the right answers and the only one who seems to know how to get something done right.  WRONG!

"My mind is always racing. During my campaign, I had some of my most creative ideas at 1 or 2 in the morning and guess what Sioux Falls…I’m still waking up at 1 or 2 in the morning today! Only this time it’s not about my campaign, it’s about the city. I’m thinking how we can make things better, how we can do things differently, how we can capture opportunities? There are opportunities in city government everywhere I turn. This job is so much fun!" The ARGUS LEADER identified this week Sunshine Week. Guess what good folks of Sioux Falls.  The mayor is waking up at 1 or 2 in the morning, but not in Sioux Falls this week. This hardworking mayor is in Arizona for the week enjoying the sun. He's been on vacation to Mexico, a couple trips out to the East Coast, went to the Super Bowl, and now gone to Arizona. And he's only been in office 10 months. City Charter 2.04 states in part: The mayor, but not the council members, shall participate in the city's employee benefits programs which are available to other management employees... That means health insurance, life insurance, vacation and sick leave accruals. Hmm. Working man!

It's a sad state of affairs at the City.


  1. Thank you so much Jennifer for speaking out. No matter what some may say, you are speaking for many of us who are angry and disillusioned with My Man Mike. And no Mike, we aren't part of the 20% who dislike everything. We used to be your core supporters.

  2. Why do we let pass this propganda campaign that "corporate America" is the source of all good ideas and management abilities? Corporate America brought us the housing bubble and most of the recession, didn't it? Why don't we show similar respect for the leadership and vision that people can bring us from academia, law, medicine, or blue-collar labor? Are members of the corporate elites really better qualified to lead communities than other citizens?

  3. Can you say "Primary" in 2014?

  4. Didn't the Mayor's business background from corporate America come from being the marketing person for a predatory credit card company that preyed on the less fortunate? I don't have much faith in corporate America these days. I hope Sioux Falls can survive the four years he will be in office. What he did to the leadership at Siouxland Libraries is downright disturbing not to mention the lie attached to his action. He talks and talks a good game but his character seems questionable. How much more damage is he going to do before someone starts standing up to him. Voters need to be more engaged when they go to the election booth. Look what you get when you don't pay attention and don't get out and vote.

  5. You're right, because if the electorate was more informed they could have chosen the alternatative, Kermit Staggers.....oh wait....

  6. I agree wholeheartedly that voters need to be better informed. This was a case, however, where the candidate presented himself as a down- to-earth individual who truly valued diversity and new ideas, but ended up being an egomaniac who has no interest in anyone's opinion but his own. If he had campaigned the same way that he is running City Hall, there is NO WAY that he would have been elected.

    I thought Mike had a lot of promise. I kept hoping that he was just getting his footing and then would return to the decent person that he portrayed during the campaign. Unfortunately, his ego only seems to grow larger, as does his arrogance. That's why I am pleased that Jennifer's blog is keeping track of all of this. The voters will once again have a say in 2014.

  7. Jennifer - have you ever, even once talked face to face with Mayor Huether?

  8. I have, and I knew he was full of it the first time I met him.


  9. I read the SouthDaCola blogs leading up to the election and thought that they were meanspirited and untrue. Now I find out that you pegged him pretty well. I still don't believe that Staggers would have been a better mayor, but I wonder how some of the other candidates would have fared.

  10. "Jennifer - have you ever, even once talked face to face with Mayor Huether?"

    Face to face? What difference would that make? Honest Mike was Executive VP of First Premier Bankcard, head of marketing and development efforts. What did they market and develop? Their flagship card, the one that drove them, was a fee-harvesting card. It was "marketed" and "developed" to lure a specific group of people. It lured consumers who lacked a borrowing history or ever held down a job (high school seniors), have a spotty or low credit score, (uneducated, underemployed, unemployed),the old retired group of Americans, (widows, widowers) who are being swallowed up by ever shrinking fixed incomes. Thankfully, a lot of practices First Premier used were outlawed by the feds on February 16th. Practices like this, hidden in font on page 20 of a contract to small to read with regular glasses.

    Credit limit $250
    Program Fee -$95
    Account Setup Fee -$29
    Participation Fee -$6 per month
    Annual Fee -$48 per year

    Total Usable Credit $72, before first purchase is made. Then the real travesty begins. Short cycle billing. Exhorbatent over the limit fees, Late fees from short billing cycles. Thrown into higher, (much higher) interest rates, etc.

    Mike? Honest? Yeah....RIGHT

    Polly Amalo

  11. "I read the SouthDaCola blogs leading up to the election and thought that they were meanspirited and untrue. Now I find out that you pegged him pretty well. "

    I have been following city politics for almost 8 years, I'm not an expert, but I do know some of the ins and outs. You are right, Kermit wasn't a perfect candidate, but he certainly was the best one running.

  12. have been following city politics for almost 8 years, I'm not an expert, but I do know some of the ins and outs. You are right, Kermit wasn't a perfect candidate, but he certainly was the best one running.

    Considering how far off I was in my support of our current mayor, I will keep a more open mind in the future.

  13. Jennifer you nailed this one.Let's change the city pension system and save money.The city workers pension is in the top 10% of funds this size.Should we join the state system and loose control of the benefits,contribution rates and tell the board members to go home.You where on that board for many years and it was structured in a way that hasty decisions were not made and put a risk to the fund

  14. This Mayor is not anything he presents himself to be. There were glimpses of that shown during the campaign, but the crowded field made them easier to camoflage. His events center "vision" is his signature issue that he thinks will punch his ticket to the next level. He claimed he never had a plan, but we he know now is it was a very detailed plan that's anything but visionary.

  15. "So a yes person, with average or mediocre talent is better than someone who speaks up and challenges him. That is an interesting way to be a leader and manager of employees."

    Well put. The funny thing about our man Mike's idea of a good team player (read: obsequious toady)is probably the very qualities that made him attractive to Mr. Sanford and Mr. Beacom out at First Predatory. Ohhhhhh, the irony!

  16. Halleluiah Jennifer! Thank you, thank you, thank you for the voice of reason and decency. I would like to tell My Man Mike -Not- that city government is not a profit-seeking corporation built on the backs of poorly paid hard workers. City employees--including YOU--are CIVIL SERVANTS, that is, here to serve US, not your own pet projects.

    And speaking of the events center, it sure looks like a done deal to me - or else why would we be spending all this money and time preparing for it? I could have sworn we were supposed to vote on it first.

  17. @SouthDaCola
    Bill Peterson was the best choice for Mayor. He is the more active in the sioux falls community than all of the other canidates combined. He had a great vision and the skills needed to move things forward in the city. We missed out big time not electing him.

  18. Jen-I seem to agree with you! Your blog is making sense to me.

  19. Keep uo the good work Jennifer!!! I am very concerned that this ego maniac is going to take this city backwards!!!