It has been interesting to follow the South Dakota High School Activities Association board this past week or so. It should not come as a surprise that the sentiment was to say no to a proposal to move all future state tournaments to Sioux Falls in future years.
The article in the ARGUS LEADER today was an interesting read. The heading said, "Sioux Falls' image problem." Our mayor is well tuned to "image" and exhibits the concept of "image" every day through his speeches, press releases, press conferences, his demeanor at council meetings and his listening and learning sessions. His lack of understanding the statewide dynamic concerning the perception of Sioux Falls is troubling.
I am no stranger to "Sioux Falls' image problem." After working close to 26 years for the City of Sioux Falls, this concept was no surprise to anyone working for city government. People in surrounding communities and statewide come to Sioux Falls for the shopping, eating, and entertainment experience and they love to come here. The image problem is not about the visitors experience. The image problem, in my opinion, centers around how city and civic leaders interact with the rest of the state.
The SD Legislature has not been known as a friend to Sioux Falls. Heck, sometimes the very Senate and House representatives elected in Sioux Falls district races are not advocates for their own city. Working with state government officials over the years was a lesson in frustration at times as well. When Pierre presented the position that they knew better than city officials regarding roads, transportation, traffic engineering needs in Sioux Falls, it taught city officials and leaders lessons in humility and how to effectively work with others.
Mayor Huether was not at the SDHSAA meeting this past week. Ok, he was out of town. Why not send city officials with economic responsibilities to represent him at this meeting? This glaring absence of a Sioux Falls city government presence sends a power message to this group and to the people who felt so passionate about the proposal that they attended the meeting to voice their positions and defend and promote their cities.
Is it that we are so big and have so much going for us, we don't have to?
I submit to you that is the height of arrogance and is disingenuous to others outside our city. The mayor, who was not at the hearing, said that his city has no problem dealing with others, so says the ARGUS LEADER article. If he was at that meeting, he would have experienced the problem first hand.
The executive director of the Sioux Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau said, "The whole affair became an exercise in Sioux Falls bashing." Although there were two staff people present at the meeting from the SFCVB, they were told not to address the group because they would only be coming across as defensive saying, "At what point could they have stood up without making the situation worse?" Really? Sending some staffer to sit and listen and not participate or represent the city promotes the very concept of "entitlement".
The mayor referred to the new event center as the South Dakota events center in his telephone interview with the ARGUS LEADER. The SFCVB executive director said,"have some vision, take the state to a new level." The Events Center was never promoted as the "South Dakota Events Center". Both statements indicate a lack of understanding for outstate feelings and issues.
Everyone knows Sioux Falls is an economic engine for South Dakota. There was a statement in the article that caused me to cringe: People in Sioux Falls are so accustomed to it (referring to economic growth and development) that they barely give it a second thought. It's the mentality "we are, so we can" that permeates outside our city limits and it is that mentality and image that needs to get tapped down by city officials and economic leaders in Sioux Falls.
And that means showing up and yes, actually speaking, when Sioux Falls is being discussed in this state. Working effectively with the others is even more important when you are big and growing and seem to have everything going for you. This idea that Sioux Falls doesn't care about other cities in the state is simply not true.
We have to stop sitting on the sidelines thinking "we are so great" we don't have to do anything.