Hey, Democrats! Need another reason to be glad Mike Huether won’t be our party’s candidate for Governor in 2018? Read the seething horsehockey that is the deal Mayor Huether signed with the shoddy Premier Center contractors, tried to keep secret, and lied about publicly.
As Jonathan Ellis and Joe Sneve explain, the Mayor’s claim two years ago that the city received one million dollars from its substandard contractors to “scrutinize” and “use wisely” (KELO-TV’s words in 2015) was at best creative writing and certainly not a clear, accurate description of how Mayor Mike and the contractors kept themselves and the taxpayers out of court. Huether spoke with approximate factuality when he said two years ago that the value of the settlement was one million dollars; however, the city actually paid out more cash than the contractors. Here are the actual numbers:
- Contractors paid Sioux Falls $443,719.
- The city paid contractors $495,000.
- Contractors released Sioux Falls from $580,909.18 in debt and liens.
- Contractors and the city reduced the amount slated for a construction manager’s contingency fund (described by knowledgeable watcher fo the Events Center mess Scott Ehrisman as a bonus fund for one contractor) by $514,996.
- Net gain in the city’s books: $1,044,624.18.
Now maybe it doesn’t matter if the million-and-change settlement was actual new cash or just the jiggering of ledger lines.
What clearly matters is that Mayor Mike Huether felt the need to keep these simple financial details, which by themselves appear to convey no more culpatory information than the summary statement of the million-dollar-settlement, secret from the people, the press, and his own council. Mayor Huether wrote his desire for secrecy into a contract, ended up in court, and lost.
It’s bad enough the Huether pushed a huge public investment on an event center with his old employer’s name on it and got shoddy workmanship. He iced that sloppy cake with his administrative arrogance in keeping the settlement with the contractors secret instead of simply leveling with taxpayers and their elected representatives on how the contractors would make their errors right.
We Democrats will have a hard enough time winning the 2018 governor’s race with an honest candidate. We’d have struggled even more with Mike Huether atop our ticket.