Should the City of Sioux Falls raise it’s minimum wage to $10 an hour

Commissioner Barth thinks so;

Under the Sioux Falls Charter Form of Government, the city can do anything not forbidden by state statute. Thus, Sioux Falls can and should raise the minimum wage within its municipal boundaries. There would be fewer families and kids depending on taxpayer and charitable assistance. Yes, it would cause a stir, but the free publicity would help send forth the word that “Sioux Falls has jobs” and that these jobs pay a living wage. Many employers are already paying $10 and up for entry-level-positions, so the effect on local employers would be minimal.

When Jeff first proposed this to me over a month ago, I kind of laughed to myself. But is it that far-fetched? I called Jeff the other day while driving past Mickey D’s? What did the marquee say? “Do you want to make $10 an hour?” WOW! Even the famous fast food joint is paying that as a starting wage in Sioux Falls. (for full disclosure I was making that much in 1989 at a McDonalds in Everett, WA as the summer night maintenance person – 25 years ago – and I got to wear some cool coveralls!).

It seems our city council has pulled up their boot straps lately. Wrangling in pool rates, a texting ban even free youth bus rides. Is it time for our legislative body to send a message to employers in this town? How about a message to Pierre? While we are quick to give away free things to the ‘poor kids’ how about giving them a ‘hand up’ instead.

I at least encourage the city council to look at the measure.

What kind of training is ‘Ovations’ temporary help getting?

After reading the Stormland TV story about the supposed patron of the Events Center that got drugged by a temp employee bartender, Detroit Lewis started asking a few questions, but not about the incident itself.

I have been wondering where ‘Ovations’ (the contractor the city uses for the Events Center that is also used at the Pentagon and Canaries Stadium for concessions) get’s their temp help AND what kind of training they receive, and if there is any liability of the city (the taxpayers) if one of these temps screw up.

So a couple of weeks ago I got tipped off of the temp agency being used by a very disgruntled temp. While I am NOT going to say who the temp agency is, let’s just say it wouldn’t be the first place you would think of when you are looking for people to prepare food and bartend. Let me be clear though, this agency places a lot of people for day labor on construction sites, etc., and that is wonderful. But when I found out they were being used for food service and hospitality, I got a little nervous, especially for someone who has worked in the industry on and off for 26 years.

My first issue was food safety and ADA training. According to the Ovations contract with the city training is provided;

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Is everyone getting proper training? I hope city officials look into very closely.

The Washington Pavilion, with all it’s faults, I will admit when I worked there in the Great Hall, all of us had to go through CPR & ADA training, amongst other programs. Even the Part-Time, Part-timers had to go through it, as well as the volunteers. It wasn’t an option. I also never recall temps working there part-time (except for maybe show load ins for the stage shows).

One of the things we were promised at the Events Center was jobs. Not just construction and full-time jobs, but good part-time jobs. Now we are finding out instead of Ovations hiring permanent part-time help they seem to be just filling the cracks with temp workers anytime there is a big event (and hiding the tip jars).

To say I am surprised, well not really. But I am disappointed that yet again, we are receiving another broken promise about the Events Center due to the greed of a few.

A little ‘Old Time Religion’ at the Sioux Falls council informational meeting

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“. . .  and please Jesus, make our streets safe for Patrick Lalley when he is riding his bike on them.”

I attended the Sioux Falls City Council informational meeting today where they talked about ‘Complete Streets’ (yawn). One of the presenters decided to throw a little old time religion into the presentation where she said;

“Live, work, play and PRAY.”

Pretty soon we can expect ‘praying lanes’ on our streets, and trust me, we will need them to endure the next 3 years of this mayor.

Is it time for a graffiti alley in Sioux Falls?

With the recent arrest of a very talented (yet criminal) graffiti artist and the great success of Rapid City’s graffiti alley, is it time to do something similar in Downtown Sioux Falls?

I have often had long discussions with artist friends on how we could do guerilla art projects downtown without damaging property. I did the photos of sculpture walk sculptures with paper bags over their heads. I have also suggested just leaving random pieces of art at places (but that would be considered littering).

I think it is time DTSF explores their own graffiti alley, and I hope to bend the ear of the new DTSF director when he takes over this month about the idea.

Going Broke, Human Rights and rounding up the homeless

A few tidbits about some of the discussions I have had over the past couple of days.

Is the city going Broke?

Many of us are beginning to get suspicious about all the proposed fee increases going on in our city. From the Events Center to the Indoor pool it seems are city finance department is scrambling to raise more revenue. Just look at the Mayor’s obsession with the 3rd Penny Tax implementation this last legislative session.

How is our NEW Human Rights Coordinator doing?

Besides her hiring announcement on CityLink and on Stormland TV on March 16, I have heard nothing about what Vandhana Baireddy has been up to. In fact, I haven’t seen her since on the local media or at public meetings. Does she still work for the city?

The Herding of the Homeless?

There has been a rumor floating around that the SFPD has been rounding up the undesirables, the drunkards and homeless troublemakers on Friday afternoons downtown to prep the area for all the yuppies enjoying cigars, bad acoustic music and meals on the Minerva’s patio over the weekend. Not sure if it is true, but I have noticed they seem to be non-existant on the weekends. In all fairness it may be the success of the Dudley House?

SIRE still a mess, and more creative editing

Over the weekend, several South DaCola foot soldiers were trying to get SIRE to work. We heard it all – I guess Nationally SIRE is making changes. We finally figured out if you are using a Microsoft Platform you can watch the videos in Explorer (ONLY). No other browsers work. On top of that, we see they have edited (again) the famous Kenny Anderson/Mayoral ass chew session, this time they have replaced the paused video frame of Councilor Erickson with the floating head of Rick Kiley. Here’s an idea, instead continuing to try to cover up something that happened, why not just post it as the original video? What are we trying to hide?

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Why is our local newspaper endorsing a TIF?

How does that old saying go about ‘Fair and Balanced’ reporting? The Argus Leader Editorial Board and columnist Jodi Schwan both have endorsed using a TIF for the Washington Square project, something I would expect out of Stormland TV news (who is always sucking up to city subsidized projects) but I found it to be a little strange for our local newspaper.

Then there is the tired old argument that TIF’s are needed for any of these projects to succeed;

But it all comes down to public-private partnerships.

They’re not important. They’re absolute. They’re critical. You can’t do it without them,” he said. “If you’re setting out to do something transformational for your city, it’s impossible to do it with only private money. You need at least a third of the money … to come from the public sector.”

Let’s think about that. The Houwmans are looking for less than 15 percent of their financing from TIF with no other public funding. Stark is saying one-third is justifiable.

While I am all out opposed to TIF’s, especially when big developers make ridiculous statements about them being the lifeblood of redevelopment, let’s say for a moment I supported them. I think a TIF would be fine for the utility work and cleaning up the alley between Main and Phillips Avenue, but 15% of the total cost? I don’t think so. There seems to be this movement by developers (and investors) in Sioux Falls (who have already seen record growth over the past several years) to feed at government’s trough. While a TIF is certainly not a handout, it is a rebate on property taxes (and they are requesting the rebate for 10 years). While the County struggles to make ends meet (they are considering another opt-out) we want to give another private development millions in tax rebates.

Worst of all, they have suckered our local paper into believing that somehow we need more parking in that area (that can only be used at night and weekends).

I think this project should sink or swim on it’s own. No pulling strings behind closed doors in City Hall or at our local paper. If we really want Downtown to be successful in development we need a stronger concerted effort of helping private homeowners and apartment owners surrounding downtown with fixing streets, infrastructure and community development grants and loans. Neighborhoods and districts are built by individuals helping each other. A couple more condos at 12th & Main in no way should be funded partially through property tax rebates, and shame on the Argus for getting in the middle of the fight that is between the developers and our local government.

Don’t Jerk & Drive

Someone is going to be late for lunch with the comrades.

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$50K for Bike Counters

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Trust me, I don’t have an issue with this. Always loved the bike trail, and I believe it is way past due to track traffic. It will bring important data that shows our trail is well used (I think in the press conference he mentions 1,600 a day). What I find humorous is the modesty of the $50k investment. I’m sure my nerd friends and I could build this equipment from Radio Shack parts for a lot less. On top of that, why couldn’t some engineer from the traffic department come with this?

One word; Consultants.

Our city is obsessed with them. And it just isn’t the current administration. They are always looking for someone to blame when things go awry.

But I also see hypocrisy. When the city whines about free bus passes, they have no problem spending $50K on something a Boy Scout troop could have build on a Saturday afternoon for a Eagle Scout badge.

But does the mayor ‘Value’ his street improvements?

More street improvements in Hizzoner’s hood.

There’s been rumors that the street he lives on has been worked on several times since he has been mayor.

It’s good to be King.

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