Falsehoods and misrepresentations—why? Indeed, WHY?

Why are we having an election to consider a nonexistent ADA complaint, about which our Mayor Sam Kooiker lied?  In fact, he invited the Department of Justice (DOJ) to make a “courtesy inspection,” then he “negotiated” an agreement—that has not to this date been signed by the DOJ.  There is NO agreement in existence, NONE.  You can go online, to see the Mayor admitting that he initiated the telephone call to the US Attorney, then tries to hide the truth behind a flood of words. Click here to see for yourself, the comments start 54:50 into the video and at 1:08 the Mayor again references his call to the DOJ local Civil Rights Office.

Why are we rushing to comply with a non-existing contract which the supporters of the Civic Center expansion are using along with exaggerated numbers and supposed time frames as a scare tactic to generate votes for a new arena? While saying they are propagating messages to debunk misconceptions about the proposed expansion, actually they are spreading their own misleading misinformation.

Let’s look at the dire warnings about the Barnett Arena, beginning with the estimated cost. Proponents of the expansion have argued that it would cost at least $70 million (and sometimes even more) to remodel the arena for ADA, but the truth is that they are combining an estimated $35 million ADA cost with the estimated $35 million cost to update and upgrade the Barrett Arena to exaggerate the cost. You can see the actual estimated cost for ADA repairs on the Opinion of Probable Construction Cost document (yellow highlights were added by this blog). The document lists two estimates: the lower at $32,744,121 and the higher at $34,437,602. Before some ridiculous “contingencies” the lower estimate is barely over $23 million—and a closer look at the basis for the $23 million estimate reveals that even that number seems exaggerated.

For example, some of the items list “LS,” for lump sum, as the “Unit”—including one of the largest, Civil / Utilities (Allowance) at $500,000. This means that these items have been merely estimated. As a contractor, we always considered those to be SWAGS (super wild ass guesses).

We get to the $70 million price point when we add the estimated “order of magnitude” SWAGS of $30,640,659 for general repairs and updates (click here to see the estimate), far beyond what is necessary to address the ADA violations. Look at the estimate and you will see that it includes sound system upgrades, a kitchen remodel and expanded storage, stage equipment, sport flooring, and a stage and back stage addition. The $70 million would get us a brand new arena, for uses which might or might not be in our citizen’s best interest.

The next alarm is the claim that if we don’t approve the plan as presented to us, we won’t have sufficient time to complete the repairs required by the DOJ settlement—a settlement that has not to this date been signed by the DOJ.  Even if the Mayor’s “deal” did exist, look for yourself at the required actions listed in “Attachment A” of the supposed DOJ settlement.

These actions can easily be completed with a separate design and bid contract within the next twelve months. They must be completed by the deadline whether we build a new arena or not—building another arena during that timeframe just complicates the matter.

We have also been told that remodeling the Barnett Arena may take five years and that we could lose—forever—the events that would, supposedly, have to relocate. That is ridiculous.

First, the timeframe: Five years to complete the repairs listed in Attachment A of the unsigned settlement? No.

Second, there is no reason why the parts of the construction process that might close the arena cannot be carried out in a carefully phased manner during periods that the arena is not in use or is least in demand. We remodeled our airport without shutting it down for five years, surely we can find a way to make the required changes with minimal impact on events.  City’s own TSP report says you can do in phases.

Phasing Civic Center renovation

In other words the Kooiker administration has started us on a path to spend $180 million in taxpayer dollars and lied about having ratted the city out to the feds to get the ball rolling. There was no formal federal action until the Mayor caused it. Outrageous.

We have gone from a nonexistent ADA complaint costing $32,744,121, to a long story that since we’re at it we ought to spend another $150 million to build some seats we might not ever be able to fill.

Time to stop and regroup. We can create a plan to make the repairs outlined in a suggested DOJ settlement for minimal cost, phased in a way to have little or no impact, in a swift manner—there is no reason to drag it out.

Then, separately, let’s have a discussion about a new plan that will address the Civic Center’s legitimate needs—one that we can afford. We need a public discussion that balances the Civic Center plan against other possible good uses for that kind of money over the next 30 years.

I am very troubled by what is happening, dishonesty is apparent. Why? Who gains?  Who is paying the cost of the propaganda and publications of the “vote yes” effort?

For a long time I really didn’t fully appreciate what it meant to need handicapped access—while I understood that it was important I had never had to use it. Then I did—for nearly a year. Months of a rented wheel chair, walking with a walker, or on crutches, or with a cane have changed my view. Months of being unable to stand or navigate difficult steps, or even make turns in a hallway, enhanced my recognition of the need for an early solution to accessibility problems at the Civic Center.

This blog would appreciate hearing from those of you who have had difficulty accessing the arena. Please tell us about your experiences. What has inconvenienced you most? What do you think should be addressed first? If this is really about ADA, let’s keep it about ADA and take care of the needs of the people of this community first—and swiftly. We can complete the other repairs in the needed time frame, but what do you think needs to be done first? What is holding you back from utilizing and enjoying our Civic Center?

5 thoughts on “Falsehoods and misrepresentations—why? Indeed, WHY?

  1. Stan, I support the proposed Civic Center Expansion, and I admire Mayor Kooiker’s efforts to address ADA issues at the existing Civic Center–issues that have been kicked down the road perhaps even since you were a Civic Center Board member, as I am today. The Mayor did not lie, and he has been completely transparent in insisting that the Civic Center should be brought into full ADA compliance, because it is the right thing to do. The DOJ issue is something of a side issue and a distraction from the simple fact that we, as citizens of a community of which we are proud, have a moral obligation to our handicapped citizens.

    I agree with you, Stan, that there is some confusion about the full cost of ADA compliance at the Barnett Arena, and I agree that even the question of whether we should seek full compliance or merely provide better access is a matter of legitimate argument. I am on the side of full compliance, and you seem to favor something less. So be it. There is no need to challenge the integrity of our Mayor, or anyone else, in addressing this vital issue and trying to do something about it. Indeed, for such a well-respected community leader as you to gratuitously call the Mayor names is harmful and cruel to the Mayor, but it is also harmful to you and probably harmful to your cause.

    There are plenty of legitimate arguments about this proposed expansion. There is no benefit to attributing nefarious motives to anyone involved. From what I can see, proponents are good people, trying to achieve what they think is best for Rapid City. Likewise, opponents are public spirited folks doing what they think is right. As I decry your challenge to the integrity of Sam Kooiker, I decry the parallel charges by some proponents, including Task Force Chair Jennifer Landguth, who has challenged the character of Mayors Carlyle, McLaughlin, Shaw, Munson and Hanks by alleging (in public) that they are politically motivated. Both of you are speaking nonsense.

    $180 million is a lot of money. There is still time for an adult discussion. The citizens of Rapid City deserve it.

  2. As I told you this morning Stan, I am no longer an RC voter but if I were I would vote against the expansion for economic reasons. However, I believe that getting to the facts of accessibility problems at the Civic Center is the mark of a responsible public official. Using the word “liar” in this debate is, well, not quite up to the level of responsible discourse. That’s as gently as I can put it to a man I respect and admire, and consider my friend. But you’re over the top here–if you want to campaign against the expansion plan as presented, do so. If you want to campaign for an opponent in this spring’s mayoral election, do so. But do so honorably without name-calling.

    • I respect your opinion as well, so I closed this comment section and thought about your words, at length.

      Probably you are semantically correct when you say that the word “liar” “was used” – it never was, however, In only two places was the word “lie” even used, as in “he lied,” or in another “lied” stands alone.

      When an elected official makes untrue statements, or authorizes other official sources to do so, he/she is dishonest. No matter how poor the official’s management skills, no matter how much the published or stated truth differs from what that person wishes it to be. Having had personal occasions to “stretch the truth” or tell a “white” lie, as an elected person – perhaps my sympathy is with this Mayor (a little bit)

      This blog only addresses these untrue statements. and supports these addresses.

      The DOJ was responding to a “complaint” UNTRUE. they were responding to a Mayor’s telephone call.

      The “cost” to bring the Barnett Arena into compliance with an “agreement,” is $70 Million. UNTRUE on two counts:
      There is no agreement, only the Mayor has signed his uncontested acceptance of alleged infractions, an agreement, which (to my understanding) may never be signed by the DOJ.
      The published COST for repairs is less that $24 Million, before fluffing with three contingencies – and even that amount, includes a HUGE lump sum without any support or detail.

      The corrections are likely to shut down the Arena for five years; UNTRUE, See the references to the TSP published reports.

      Are untrue statements “lies?” Choose an answer for yourself, but no where is there the term of “liar” used.

      Stan Adelstein

  3. Stan, I have been having trouble getting anything posted at your blog. Below is a post I tried to make. Not much new in it I don’t imagine, but it appears to me there must be several hundred better ways to spend even 18 Million than on a larger arena that will only suck more money out of Rapid City with entertainers from the coasts removing money forever from the Rapid City economy. ))) Doug Wiken

    I was in RC for a few days and watched the smarmy, slimy TV ad with THE PENNY emphasis. A “Penny Sales Tax” is another 25% increase over the state sales tax. Converting $180,000,000 to pennies requires 18 Billion pennies. I had never been in the Civic Center until the Black Hills stock show a week or two ago. I did not see any accessibility problems which would require even a million dollars to ameliorate. There are elevators, Mostly flat floors. I noticed three steps that should have had a ramp alongside them. Easier parking is a matter of moving some concrete barriers and painting them a different color. A women in a motorized wheel chair was getting around with no problems that I could see.

  4. I have followed the news reports and read most all of the newspaper articles on the Barnett Arena but I was mystified by the comments with one back page report several weeks ago on the project which referenced the origin of the Department of Justice complaint. I told my wife that obviously not right when one reads the application of the ADA and the 2010 revisions to the situation. I tried to find an actual copy of the complaint. I was not aware of the origin of the inspection was not a legal finding of the Department of Justice but rather a courtesy inspection by DOJ local officials. In the course of trying to find a full copy of their original complaint I lucked onto your comments.

    I find that I am not the only person who does not know this whole project was based on a false representation that there was an official, Federal complaint. I was in charge of engineering and maintenance for three, large hospitals in my career starting in 1973. I had to deal with the requirements from the time ADA became law until my retirement. Few large buildings which I had familiarity with were totally in compliance which all provisions and indeed many buildings are not in compliance with fire codes either. There are always provisions that allow alternatives where compliance cannot physically be accomplished or finance expense prohibits. When I read the document you attached I was amazed at the number of minor deviations such as failing to designate required handicapped spaces. This could be cleared off the list by the end of the day if compliance were really important to the City.

    I am now firmly against the project on the general principle that I intensely dislike misrepresentation. If a project cannot stand because a truthful representation of facts, its merits are questionable.

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