Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Oh What a NIght

It was a marathon at the June 13th City Council meeting. Two hours of public testimony that didn't start until after 10 p.m. from the impassioned public, most of whom were articulate and well informed. There were good comments, humorous comments, arrogant comments and one or two memorable moments last night. Here are a few of them.

  • All those cities, in their infinite wisdom, located their event center in the heart of their cities where it offered more than a drive, a parking spot, an event and a drive home.
  • What good is more flat floor space if we have fewer conventions because there is nothing to do out there and no place to go for entertainment, consequently no increase in sales tax for our city.
  • There are many reasons to build an event center downtown but the most important is the economic impact and to grow our tax base.
  • You must examine the past if you are to have a clear vision for the future.
  • It makes no sense to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.
  • Don't put a $100 million project out there to take care of a $13 million problem.(floor space)
  • This city has never spent $120 million on a project before in its history. We want to be able to learn from what other communities have learned and also what we have learned in Sioux Falls with the history of the Arena site. Look at the studies that have been done and the economic impact to the city. In good conscience, you'd vote for a downtown site.
  • Sioux Falls is so close to getting to the next level and an event center downtown will get us there.
  • Mayor, I understand the decision may come down to your final vote and I just want you to remember the conversation we had on Phillips Ave. when you were campaigning.
  • We have South Dakota winters. Tell me how they're going to get there (Downtown)
  • I'm representing small cities and senior citizens and senior citizens don't want to walk downtown.They want to get in their car, get going home, get something to eat. They're afraid, they're old, they're in wheel chairs, they're handicapped. They want some place they can get in and get out of the Arena real quick.
  • Are you having fun yet? People say there is nothing to walk to at the Arena. You can walk to Covell Lake, Terrace Park, band concerts, water park and pool, Veterans Memorial Park, beautiful trees in Elmwood. You can go to the Ramkota and use their pool and restaurant, Sheraton and its restaurant, Sioux Falls Inn, Arena Motel, Motel 6, Brimark Inn, Kelly's Inn, Buffalo Wild Wings, Nuttie's Bar, Jono's Bar and the Rolling Pin.
  • It's 11:05 p.m. and I just want to let the people of Sioux Falls know that we still have a packed house that's engaged in this critical topic for your city, Sioux Falls. You should be very proud.
  • If we do it right, this project can be the signature project for the next generation.
  • When you look at the potential and the bottom line for the city for the next generation you come to the tale of two returns on investment: the good and the better. If we go for the good or if we go for just build it or if we for the quickest and easiest option, we short change the city for a generation and unfortunately it might just make what the naysayers say, come true.
  • The younger crowd of Sioux Falls deserves a voice on this issue which will quite frankly affect us a lot longer than anyone else.
  •  Downtown is the vision. It's the future of this city. Let's do the right thing and not regret what we did 40 years ago.
  • The AECOM study does not make a location recommendation. It says if you build it at the Arena you can expect to see $6.1 million of new development. If you build it downtown, you'll see $51.1 million in new development.
  • The decision will be the legacy of this mayor and city council.
It was wonderful to see those 30 something people testifying last night. Getting involved, having the courage to testify before the city council means these people are invested in the future of this city and want it to be better for them and their future families. Half the council just blew those young people off.

All this testimony when you knew darn well, no one was going to change their minds. You could see it especially in the no vote group. Some of the no voters didn't give the downtown supporters the courtesy of eye contact. Some smirked at the remarks. No engagement or nodding of the head unless a testimony was geared to their position.

The lecture by Rolfing was patronizing and insulting. These are his constituents. He was elected at large, These people who strongly believe that the downtown site is the future vision of the city deserved his respect, not his degradation. These were people who were passionate and had the courage to speak up. He should be thanking them for taking an interest in their city, not telling them how he was disappointed in them.

The downtown supporters who had the courage and passion for the future of their city and stated that they could not support an event center at the arena site are not poor losers in this debate. To say they are is a great disservice to them. Their lack of support for the Mayor and the 4 no voters has nothing to do with the fact their preferred site wasn't chosen. It has everything to do with what is right for the future direction of this city. To say they are all poor losers is an injustice to all these people who have elected to participate in their local government by getting involved.

Councilor Rolfing said people have made it out to seem like the Arena and the Convention Center have been a complete flop. I was there and I didn't hear anyone say those two venues were a complete flop. What they said was the location decision back then was a mistake. Carol Twedt said it best when she said that she supports and is proud of the convention center but the predictions that building the convention center at the arena would grow the economy and the tax base were wrong, wrong, wrong.

The last speaker was the highlight of the evening, however. I would venture to guess that everyone was a bit in shock when the mayor's daughter came to the podium to speak. The mayor did not blink an eye as his daughter gave a cheer out to the council to come together and produce an 8-0 vote on the Convention Center/Arena site. The only thing missing were the pom poms.

I am sure the mayor's daughter is a wonderful young woman but her appearing before the council on her Dad's issue was so out of place.  Politics 101: you don't trot out your family members to promote your cause. It is a pathetic attempt at self promotion to use your daughter in this fashion.

I find it interesting that the "golden boy" of Citibank could not find one person in the business community to close the deal for him. He had to use his daughter.

And that's a wrap!


  1. I have been waiting and waiting for your commentary about last night and you didn't disappoint. I listened to the whole thing on Channel 16. Geez, do you think Rolfing could have shouted a little louder! But, when Huether's daughter came up to the podium with her rah, rah speech, I sat up flabbergasted. You have got to be kidding me. How kindergardenish and small town or should I say small man. The comment I hated even more was Rolfing accusing downtown supporters of taking their ball and going home and shaming them. Such a bad rap for all those passionate voters. Those of us who support downtown do not say we will not vote for the arena site because we are crying in our soup about not getting our way. We will be voting no because the Arena site is a humongous mistake for the City and as citizens we deserve better!

  2. Just a really dumb question, how does this thing ever pass a vote of the people? Oops, did we forget that, Politics 102.

  3. Yes, this man knows no shame and has no boundaries - having his daughter lecture the Council about the need for everyone to get on his EC location boat was condescending and belittling to the Council members.

  4. One correction Jennifer. I was the last speaker of the night b/c I could NOT let the mayor's daughter be the last word on the future of our community. She was the ONLY one from our "generation" who supported the arena site. She is a citizen and she does have the right to speak though. Should she? Probably not, but we must always remember that EVERY citizen's voice is allowed. I've been told MANY times to shut up (mostly by sports news people) and that is the ultimate insult against our freedom of speech.

    It was a great exercise in Democracy. No one threw a punch or drew a gun. The decision was made (no matter how idiotic it was) and we'll live to fight another day. Thanks for the GREAT commentary. It was truly a historical evening of democracy in action in our community. Unfortunately democracy allows for uninformed decisions to take place.

  5. Every citizen does have the right to speak. Not the issue though.Have you ever in city government history recalled a sitting mayor using their child (ren) to plug their own agenda so blatantly? I just shake my head at Huether' s behavior. I only hope this isnt a window into what is ahead since she is supposedly back in town.Once was enough, thank you...not!

  6. I have no horse in this race Jennifer but this is a one-sided blog. I want an events center built in Sioux Falls and I believe downtown supporters have made valid economic points. I tend to support the Mayor's site preference; however I would have supported a downtown site if that was the decision. One point though, both downtown and the arena area have experienced major business failures. I will also point out, that the final testimony, "I am going to take my ball and go home," smacks of childish behavior when a spoiled kid didn't get his way. Overall, I was impressed with the testimony and agree with your point that it was encouraging to see citizens step up. It was good theatre. Good points came from both sides.

  7. Mr Traub's diatribe at the end was probably why downtown supporters will be blamed for being poor losers. He should have let his first testimony stand without grandstanding at the end. It was like watching a young child losing control after a long day with no nap.

  8. Personaly, I think Andy Traub would be a great candidate for mayor. Wouldn't it be great to see someone like him with brains, real business sense and a conscience take out the current mayor in the next election.

  9. Andy Traub's comment was a heartfelt reaction to a blatantly unfair process. It was clear from the start that the Mayor had no intention of having the Event Center build anywhere except the Arena site.

    When his wife was interviewed during the "victory party" at his headquarters, she was asked if she was surprised by his win. She said "No" and went on to say that Mike achieved whatever he set his sights on.

    What we have found out subsequently is that Mike will bully and manipulate people to get what he wants. My vote in November will be a resounding "no." "No" to the Events Center and "no" to Mike Huether's bullying tactics.

  10. It is clear by the vote of the Council that there is division on the Events Center. I think this is just an indication of what it is out here in the community too. The only difference is the money issue has not been dealt with and until we know how it is going to be paid for the issue of whether this building is ever going to be built is still up in the air. I don't think it can be built even for the $120 M he now says it's going to cost. Note, it's already gone up 20 M and all that's been accomplished is a site decision. Down, Down Down this thing is going to go. The cost, financing and the Mayor's personality and handling of this issue.....recipe for a resounding NO!

  11. Hey, it WAS a long day with no nap! Sorry you disagree with my style but I'm not apologizing for my passion. I regret nothing I said nor how I said it. Build it downtown is remembered for bringing out dozens of educated, informed and passionate voters. We make no apologies for exercising our right o address the council and Mayor. One bright spot in the final exchange, at least he didn't call me a liar like he did to Linda Watts. That was fun to watch.

    I can't run for Mayor. My daughter isn't old enough to speak at council meetings.

  12. I keep wondering why the Mayor is so gung-ho on the Arena site. Does he think that this location will produce faster results that will help his long-term political goals? I'm sure that he would like to be able to boast about getting an events center built during his first term in office. "This is why you need a Mayor with business sense. Folks, prior to my taking charge of this fine city, talk of the event center was just that - all talk. But let me tell you this. Mike Huether is about action. Mike Huether is about results, and if you give me another four years - well folks, we will make this great city of Sioux Falls even greater!"

    When a leader's vision is clouded by their desire for power, we all lose.

  13. @12:19 am Boy do you have his talk down!! You are so right on. Do any of you ever watch his Listening and Learning sessions on Channel 16? Look at the crowd he gets. Really, I should say the crowd he doesn't get because there is no big crowd there. The majority who does show up appear to be the same people. It was a good idea in the beginning but now it's just the same old rhetoric over and over and over. Time to stop these meaningless meetings Mayor. You do press conferences for EVERYTHING so you can still get your message out. But, please make it relevant not just pontificating about yourself. We are tired of it.

  14. I've gone to many of his talks but stopped when I realized that public input means nothing to him. He is placating us like a group of elementary school students - repeated reruns of "Father Knows Best." The next time I hear one of his election speeches, it will be when I am there in support of his opponent.

  15. So let me get this straight... if you are a supporter of BID, then you are a visionary, team player, thoughtful, lacking ego and just know what it best for everyone? Yeah, not too hard to figure out why BID lost this debate. Most should agree that the reading of the entire study vs. just the points BID prefers, shows the Arena site as having a greater overall economic impact. A study prepared by the only party without a horse in the game. By the way, poll after poll shows the people who will be paying for this supporting the Arena location. As important as it is to have an opposing view to keep the majority in check, it is just as important to come together for the benefit of the community. Downtown has plenty of entertainment options that can serve our youth. An event center combined with the convention center will bring those to our community that would not otherwise come here. In a perfect world we would vote to spend the $300M it would take to do this right downtown. We don't live in a perfect world.

  16. Location doesn't matter so let's not get too excited because this thing is going to be voted down. The downtown supporters are going to vote it down, the people who wanted an indoor pool a few years ago are going to vote it down, and the common sense folks who think taking the city into $120 million dollars of debt isn't a winning idea are going to vote it down. I don't believe Huether realizes the headwinds this thing is facing.