Friday, April 29, 2011

Conflict of Interest II

We, the people, assume we elect people who are ethical. I often wonder what happens to the concept of personal ethnics when one becomes an elected official. Mind you, not all elected officials lose their way but there are sure a lot of people who, once elected to public office, lose their moral and/or ethical way. All you have to do is watch what happens to some of these politicians when they go to Washington, D.C.

Well, it doesn't matter whether you go to Washington, D.C. or stay right here in Sioux Falls, SD. Some people just let their common sense and sense of ethics fly out the window. I think it is because some of these elected officials feel they have become special people, all knowing, granted a mandate by the people who voted them into office and entitled to special treatment. Egos grow by leaps and bounds. Arrogance crops up.

It is pretty heady business to have people want to see you, talk to you, give you special attention and recognition once you become a public official. The fact is an elected official  gets the special attention and recognition  because someone wants something from them and the only way to get the support or approval is to kiss some arse to someone who now thinks they are more important than snot.

City Councilor Entenman seems to have lost his way. First he stands up at a Public Services Committee Meeting and speaks in opposition to adopting the 2010 census for establishing a city liquor license when he is next on the list to get a liquor license. When discreetly told he may have a conflict of interest, he waves away Councilor Jamison and publicly states he doesn't care if he has a conflict of interest or not and just keeps on speaking.

I guess he thought he solved his little conflict of interest when he subsequently withdrew his liquor license application. KELO-TV reports Council member Jim Entenman owns the land right across the street from a proposed parking lot for a new facility at the arena site.

 "No, it will not influence my vote," Entenman said. "I think I've been on the record all along that I've been in favor of an events center out at the current convention center site."......... This property is not for sale, it belongs to my family and it's used for our business," Entenman said.

That's not the point.

Sec. 12½-29. Definitions in this article.
Financial interest means an expectation of receiving a pecuniary benefit. A financial interest of an official includes any financial interest of a member of that person's immediate family. A person has a financial interest in an organization in which that person has an ownership interest, or is a director, officer or employee. An official has a financial interest in a decision if a financial interest of that person will vary with the outcome of the decision. A financial interest does not include the following:

(1) A personal or financial interest which is not of the magnitude that would exert an influence on an average, reasonable person.

(2) A personal or financial interest of a type which is generally possessed by the public or a large class of persons to which that official belongs.

(3) An action or influence which would have an insignificant or conjectural effect on the matter in question.

Sec. 12½-30. Conflicts of interest--City council members.
City officials shall not:

(1) Participate or vote in matters in which they have a direct or indirect financial interest in any contract with the city.

 (3) Participate or vote in any other matters in which they may have a direct or indirect financial interest, or in which an immediate family member has a direct or indirect financial interest.

I recognize that maybe he thinks he doesn't have a conflict interest because he always wanted the EC at the Arena/Convention site which would enhance the value of his property as per the consultant reports.

Maybe the City Attorney and the Ethics Board should way in on this issue.  After all, he started this by standing up to testify publicly before the City Council's Public Services Committee as a private citizen who was requesting a liquor license for his private business. Then he put on his councilor cap and stated he wanted the committee to hold more hearings at the committee level before sending it the full council.  The question is -- should the councilor recuse himself from all votes pertaining to this subject?


  1. I brought this up to the Ethics Board when they voted to increase the 2nd penny to a full penny to build roads out by Tea for developers. Councilors Jamison and Litz were investigated (and found to have no conflict) I also believe Costello and Knudson had investments in real estate at the time to.

    Nothing will be done about it, as usual except us bloggers belly aching about it. One thing did come out of it, they changed the ethics rules so citizens cannot ask an opinion anymore. Go figure.

  2. This is another ironic BID allegation....on one hand they say a new events center won't lead to any development or positive economic impact at the current Arena site, but now they are alleging Entemann's property actually will benefit and prosper as a result of it being built there. Well which is it???

    Speaking of politics and ethics, gotta love the politics and hypocrisy of BID. Can you say "I like to have it both ways???"......sure seems like BID does.

  3. The consultants said both sites have economic benefits. Read the report. It's just that downtown has more ($51 million vs $6 for Arena). BID shouldn't have to apogize for being an ardent supporter of downtown. That's been the mission of the group from beginning. I wish more Sioux Falls residents loved downtown and those independent, locally owned merchants down there and would go downtown once in awhile and discover something besides big box chains.

  4. Councilor Entenmen's very public blatant comment about not caring if he has an ethics issue makes everything about him and what he does suspect. It's perception and perception will be result in distrust of this Councilor and his actions in the event center matter now that the public knows he own land out by the arena.

  5. "I think I've been on the record all along that I've been in favor of an events center out at the current convention center site."

    I think not as you were on the first task force that unanimously recommended a downtown site.

    and BID isn't the issue, it's whether or not Entenmann and/or the Council will act as they have in the past. Councilor Benninga didn't own the land or building for the Center of Active Generations and he recused himself any time the City was considering any business with them, how is Entenman's case not a more clear conflict?

    And I'd suspect BID would cede the point that you might see $6.7 million or so worth of new development at the Arena, because the $51 or $500 million you'll see downtown (both numbers from the AECOM study) dwarf the Arena's projections any way you slice it.

  6. Entenman does things to benefit Entenman, I knew that before he ran and knew he wouldn't change once he got elected. He won on name recognition alone. The guy running against him would have been ten times the councilor Jim is.

  7. Oh brother - vote against the Downtown site and the Libs come out to nail you to the cross. Pul-leeze people! Hilde and his cronies have had their say, let it go. Hopefully this mess comes to a public vote because regardless of which site is chosen I don't believe the "good people" of Sioux Falls will give it a thumbs up

  8. The Libs? Funny. The only 'Lib' I know that belongs to the BID group is Hildy, otherwise most of the other prominent members are big government Republicans, that like bailouts from taxpayers. But it really doesn't matter, because the council is going to KILL Huether's plan – it will never see a ballot.

  9. I agree that Entenman needs to either excuse himself willingly or the council should step in, as they are directed to per the City Charter to enforce the Canons of Ethics. If you read the Canons of Ethics within the City Charter, you will find that Councilor Entenman is in violation of nearly every single canon laid out for their conduct while in office and it's ridiculous that it's being ignored and that he believes he can get away with just about anything. Not only would he stand to benefit from higher property values if the center were built at the arena location, but he would also benefit from increased traffic to the area in which his J&L Harley Davidson building is located; granted it is along the interstate and people would likely pass it to get to Sioux Falls, but there is a direct increase to the area as a result of a center being built out there.

    Councilor Entenman is in the wrong and needs to be excused from any votes or discussions dealing with the event center in the capacity as a council member.

  10. Brillantly stated, Jared. However, Counciler Entenman has already weighed in with his "I don't care if I have a conflict" comment.

    He's going to vote tonight on the naming rights study. Which in reality is simply a marketing expense, albeit about 2 years in advance of when we would actually need to do it. The Mayor is going to yet again pay someone to tell the voters what he already thinks and what he thinks they need to hear to get behind his horribly flawed Events Center plan.

  11. Jared's comments is so well said. Not sure the Council has the "balls" to step in to enforce the Cannon of Ethics against Entenman. Where is the City Attorney? Oh right, he was appointed by the Mayor and is in his pocket.

  12. So what is Entenmen's conflict of interest and/or finacnial interest here? That people coming to the event will go by his J&L building up on HWY 38 and miraculously turn in and buy a Harley T-shirt!! What will he gain by having a parking lot across from his office building on Burnside? Has that property value risen because of a baseball stadium or a convention center being built in the last 15 years at the same site the events center is proposed. How far away do you have to be before you have no conflict? 1/2 mile, 1 mile, 10 miles?

    For all of you that think this will be the panacea of economic development in that area, look no further than ALL the new businesses that were going to spring up around the NEW convention center a few years ago. How did that work out? Some restaurants and bars actually went out of business or have new owners.

    Downtown will be no different. By the reasoning presented by all sides, downtown or the arena site should be thriving already. The Pavillion has many evening events as does the Arena. Where is all that traffic that will buy dinner, shop etc. now? (Most downtown "shopping" is not open downtown after 6:00 anyway). Just adding 8,000 more seats to a building is not going to make that happen because, first of all, you have to fill the seats.

    The only people making money on this are the guys doing studies. The next guys to make money will be the building contractors, and the next guys will be the people who get the contract to run the thing.