Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether is speaking out about the criticism he's getting over the evaluation team that will pick the events center design firm.
The mayor says his team of ten men, including five city department heads, is the right combination to decide who gets the job. But during the public portion of Monday night's city council meeting Huether took heat for his roster.
"We believe there should be some diversity. It's not just white men who should control decision making in this city. There's a lot of people that need to be represented," Steve Hildebrand of 'Build It Downtown' said at Monday night's meeting.
The mayor says this team will evaluate the RFP's, or requests for proposal, applications from the firms that want to design the new events center.
Huether says it's similar to the team of department heads they assemble when the city builds new libraries and fire stations.
He says the one unique thing about this team is that they also reached out to community leaders who have some valuable experience to bring to the table. Ben Dunsmoor:
Do you understand their concerns about having a diverse panel of people examine this? Huether:
Actually, no. I think that there were things that were not going a particular way that they wanted and they were trying to find a way to change the subject and that is not helpful for the process at all. It's not productive. It is just something that creates controversy, creates conflict, creates innuendo and ultimately it's not going to drive this process forward and help the city."
The mayor says he looked for the best qualified people; those with the knowledge of architecture, engineering and building large facilities.
"We didn't look at it based on their race, creed, color, anything like that. We looked at it based on who are those individuals who have done projects like this over the last three to four to five years. And that's how it was picked," Huether said.
The group includes officials from Augustana and the University of Sioux Falls, which built large sports facilities in the past few years. It's why, despite the criticism, Huether isn't second guessing who's on the team.
"They are going to do it in the best interest of the city and that's what we all want. And, so we should be happy with that instead of, in my mind, criticizing it," Huether said.
Huether says this evaluation team will not pick the site for the new events center. The only job the group has is to pick the architect and engineer who will design and analyze the building, the project and the location.