Get Outta Town - April 9 and 16

(April 16) For some strange reason, murals have always caused controversy in this fine city. When Great Plains Coffee painted one on the side of their building last year, it became the number one controversy for a few weeks. Businesses that want to attempt to beautify their buildings have had little luck getting approval. Yet now our country commission wants to spend close to a hundred grand on one for the back wall of the old Coliseum, now the home for the Sioux Falls Multi-Cultural Center.
The story begins almost two years ago, when a few of the commission members, including Carol Twedt, began discussions with artist Eyob Mergia. (Incidentally, Eyob was also the artist who created the infamous mural on Great Plains Coffee.) Commissioner Jim Zweep was quoted in the Argus as saying that the idea originated when he looked out of a Country Administration Building window and noted that the wall "looked awful".
From my understanding, Mergia originally requested a fee of $20,000 plus expenses. Sources tell me that his fee has somehow been raised to $60,000. Either way, how did we get to ninety grand?
What's most disturbing is that this entire process has been done in private. Government is supposed to be an open process. The public has a right, and the politicians have an obligation, to inform the public on all matters. Shutting the door on the public does nothing but create future problems, as we learned a few months ago with the many allegations of police impropriety.
Two weeks ago, the public finally learned of these behind-the-scenes shenanigans when Anne Hajek raised the question at a county commission meeting. As she said at the meeting, "we haven't voted, but we have picked the artist, the location and the work. He has done artwork with the expectation he'll be selected."
Hajek is completely correct. When Zweep and Twedt decided a mural may be a good idea, they should have immediately went public. There should have been meetings with the entire artist community (as many of them are upset they weren't considered) and the entire commission should have held discussed it at open meetings. Instead, it was an example of Janklow-nomics, where a decision is made behind the scenes and then ratified by a rubber stamp.
Except this time there is no rubber stamp. After Hajek's objections were raised, the mural became the talk of the city. Newspaper columnists and talk show hosts pulled out old interviews where the country commission complained there was no funds for the sheriff's department, the bookmobile, and other necessary needs.
But Zweep has an answer for this criticism, and it's a doozy. Since the county recently received an unexpected 2.1 million as its share of an inheritance tax paid to the state we've got some free money to spend. "It's one-time money that has fallen out of the sky," echoed Commissioner Bob Kolbe. Think about that for a bit. Since we didn't expect this cash, they should be able to throw that money wherever they want. I haven't heard that excuse since one of my employees used her entire earned income credit money on a big screen television and rims for her babydaddy's vehicle instead of food and clothes for her child.
If this story wasn't already ridiculous, the latest word on the controversy takes the cake. There are now plans for a county-wide election to determine whether we proceed with the mural. Sure, let's spend ten grand to vote on a piece of art. I take pride in being a patron of the arts, but even I think that this is a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money. Yesterday we saw how few people vote for school board members. How many would show up to vote on a piece of art that only county officials and convicts can see?
I think it's obvious that this week's kick in the ass goes to most of our county commission. They'll need a good hard kick as they need to leave not only the city of Sioux Falls but the entire county.

(April 9) As everyone knows, I don't get a lot of sleep at night. It's not that I have a life. I don't. Generally, I spend the evening watching white trash television and then I try to get to sleep before 1 am. Five hours later, my day begins again.
It sucks, but I've gotten used to it. But every year around this time there's this silly thing called Daylight Savings Time, and it really screws me up.
First off, you lose an hour of sleep on Sunday morning. After staying up until 2:30 this past Saturday, I awoke Sunday morning expecting it to be around nine or so and it's already 11:00. That would be fine if I had nine hours of sleep, but I didn't. Of course, seven hours is pretty good for me.
So it gets to be around midnight on Sunday night and I'm not even close to going to sleep. I toss and turn for a while, and finally I turn the tv back on. Of course, after day of non-televised war action, something is actually happening. We're moving into Baghdad! Even though the story was over within a few minutes and the news networks resorted back to pundit after pundit, and replay after replay, I didn't fall asleep until well after 2 am.
On a side note, the highlight of the night was that wacky Iraqi Minister of Information, who's quickly becoming the nation's best known comedian. With gunfire in the background and soldiers a few hundred feet away, literally seconds after we destroyed a Hussein statue he's hustling into position for a hastily arranged press conference. "There are no Americans in Baghdad. They tried to enter and we slaughtered them." Really? And here's the topper - "the al-jazeera network has a pro-American bias." I guess that's the Iraqi version of the so-called liberal media bias.
Monday night was no better. In fact, it was almost a replay of the previous night. At least I had some trash shows to watch. Married With Children was a classic, and on Shipmates this complete moron had this hot little blonde. This guy was such a moron that he poured a drink over this young babe. (I told you that I watch too much tv.)
Again I started surfing through the news channels, and once again there was action. The ali-rhubarb channel had a camera just a few feet away from some American tanks, and they were knocked around a few times by enemy gunfire. Again you had my favorite Iraqi politician pleading with journalists to tour the city to see that there wasn't any troops in town. And again ten minutes of footage padded hours of airtime. A few minutes of Springer finally put me to sleep at close to 2 am.
Here I am today almost completely frazzled. I'm living on Great Plains Coffee, Red Bulls, and Mountain Dew. My food intake is limited to a burrito for lunch and a frozen dinner at night. The neck throbs, my eyes are weary.
Why? It's that damned Daylight Savings Time. Why do we have to go through this? Is it really for the farmers? If so, why are they dictating the time of day? What have they done for me lately except slow down traffic on the interstate? I say we organize an anti-time change rally and set those clocks ahead to the real time. And let's do it on a Saturday night so the bars can stay open an extra hour.
Before I go, I have other candidates to just go away. I was reading the paper last week and there was a story that Meat Loaf was starting a farewell tour. Didn't that already happen...what has he done in the past ten, no twenty years? At the same time, NBC wasted an entire night of programming to that non-talented hag Cher for her so-called farewell performance. Right, farewell until the next year's tour. And we also have the Who's 20th farewell tour, and now the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac are doing the same thing. And Kiss has been on a six year goodbye tour. Someone please stop the madness!
My idea is that we actually extend these farewell tours. I've got a few candidates that should just take their bank accounts and retire forever. How about the whole Styx/Kansas/Foreignor/Journey/REO/etc. fiasco? As a friend said the other night, "they need the Midwest more than the Midwest needs them." Along the same lines, it's time for the hair bands to realize that their bald spots should be signs that their time is up. Please go home Poison, Ratt, Slaughter, and the rest of your cokehead pals. Or the entire Jackson clan, from Tito to Michael to Janet to Latoya. Or anyone that calls themselves a diva.
Ok, I'm getting riled up so I'll stop here. I'm just trying my damnedest to rid the world of evil. Just call me the George Bush of music. On second thought, please don't.


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