Who was mocking Theresa Stehly at the Sioux Falls City Council meeting last night?

I think I know the voice of the gentleman softly mocking Theresa last night during public input of Item #51 (click on the item and the video will fast forward) but I will let you make your own assumptions.

Theresa was reminiscing about her time on the council and the presentation of the new waste water treatment plant when she started to bring up her recollection of the process.

She said she requested an amortization schedule from Public Works Director, Mark Cotter, at the time for paying off the waste water bonds. During her input you could hear someone on the dais quietly mock her. When Theresa says that we may have cost overruns on the project, ‘someone’ on the dais mumbles into their microphone ‘Oh Yeah? Really?’ in a sarcastic voice. Stehly also talks about the public being left in the dark and this same passive aggressive voice whimpers from the dais ‘Hmmmm’ and later ‘Uh Huh.’

Like I said, you have a pretty good guess who was being a brat from the bench, but the individual doing this doesn’t really matter. The fact is the public is constantly told by the chairs of these council meetings that we need to practice ‘decorum’ at these meetings because gosh golly three cub scouts showed up while all the time they are personally acting like kids who got their ball stolen.

Someone needs to tell these folks it’s study hall time not recess time.

What’s going on with our TIFilicious, affordable(?) housing project in North Brandon?

I was just thinking about this the other day . . . and for me and the good pastor, Sioux Falls City Councilor, Rich Merkouris, to have the same inquisitive thoughts, it was a little eerie.

During the informational Rich asked our housing specialist, Logan Penfield, what was going on with the North Brandon project and Logan responded by saying he wasn’t sure and had to get back to Rich.

Seems a bit odd doesn’t it?

Councilor Merkouris just stepped into the vice chair leadership position a few weeks ago. So now with a few weeks of insider baseball under his belt he seemed to pull this question from the sky . . .

. . . and after doing a long presentation on a housing action plan you would think Mr. Penfield would have the answer to that question on the tip of his tongue. But Mr. Penfield has experience in good old Washington, a place where it is best to ignore the hard questions.

I was thinking about the project because after all the fanfare you would have thought there would have been a ribbon cutting already with dirt moving? Instead a staffer from the administration (who is in charge of projects like this) hands over a big fat I don’t know with a shoulder shrug.

While the administration may think it is Sioux Falls ONE it is more like Sioux Falls IDK.

The Dangers of the Prosperity Gospel Evangelical movement

Trust me, I didn’t just have an awakening, I have been concerned about the political force of this group for a long time. They have infiltrated most sectors of our life including our public one in local governments. Many on our local boards would consider themselves a part of this movement.

I recommend you watch this Vanity Fair/FX miniseries on Hillsong and see for yourself how the leaders of this movement are the biggest hypocrites to walk the face of the earth;

I am pretty sure the Righteous Gemstones is based on Hillsong.

UPDATE: Who will win the Rapid City Mayoral Race today?

UPDATE: I was off a bit, Salamun wins Rapid City mayor.

I will admit I knew about the election, but not until about 5 minutes ago I decided to research the candidates. I know nothing about any of them except for what I read today.

Just based on donations, I would give the victory to Estes, but since this is a plurality election, I think the three other men running would steal votes from Estes giving the victory to Armstrong (who is the only woman running).

I guess we will see.

Either way, these two will likely be in spots 1 and 2. Estes seems like a moderate businessman while Armstrong tends to be moderate to progressive.

I think it would be quite an upset tonight if Armstrong squeaks by.

Stehly; It’s about the petitioner’s right, not the issue

Former Sioux Falls City Councilor, Theresa Stehly addressed the Minnehaha County Commission during public input today (FF 1:02). Stehly points out that it doesn’t matter if you are for or against an issue, you should still support people’s right to petition.

She also wondered why the auditor and the MCC hasn’t been more helpful helping citizens petition.

Sioux Falls City Council plans to deconstruct Internal Audit

Besides raising utility rates (Items #47-54) and hiring a new city clerk (Item #60) the council is also proposing this (Item #45);

The proposed ordinance removes any mention of an internal audit job title. The proposal also includes language that allows for a co-source internal audit function.

After a brief discussion with the Audit Committee they have decided to move forward with using outside services for Internal Audit. I am adamantly opposed to this. While other communities do this, it is rare. They either have NO internal audit or an actual internal auditing department.

I do understand that every community has to weigh their options when it comes to this department, but we are not making this change because of evidence of improving the system or to save the city money this is being done out of utter laziness of the council. They should do a national search to hire an Internal Audit manager with audit experience and 1-2 more internal auditors. Instead spending the council’s budget on monogram’s shirts (that they wear under their corporate monogram’s black sleeveless puffy vests) they should hire a consultant to provide them applicants. If we got around 200 applicants for city clerk, I would think a national search for auditors would be gang busters!

BTW, the word ‘Internal’ is in the department name!

I have no problem letting outside entities take a peak at the work the internal audit staff is doing, but we should not be jobbing out this important department out of laziness.

Sioux Falls Chamber has shakeup

The Chamber announced they are replacing(?) Debra Owen;

The Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce announced Thursday that Mitch Rave has been hired as the organization’s vice president of public policy.

The son of former South Dakota House Speaker Tim Rave, he holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of South Dakota.

Debra confirmed to me she left the Sioux Falls Chamber and is happy to be moving on. Her husband David leads the State Chamber. Debra’s title was VP/Director of Public Policy, so I am assuming Tim is replacing her.

Mitch has some big shoes to fill. Besides years of government experience working for the City of Sioux Falls as clerk and a top legal advisor to Governor Daugaard. Debra also has a law degree and has extensive knowledge about city and state government.

In my dealings and conversations with Debra in the past, she was always fair and listened to your side, she didn’t always agree but was never combative and would always dig for answers, probably the reason former Mayor Mike Huether* pushed for her termination. City government has a knack at getting rid of the good ones.

Mitch’s dad, Tim Rave, is president and CEO of the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations and sits on the Board of Regents.


The list is still pretty short but it seems Mike Huether and Christine Erickson may be in. They have both been reaching out for early support (Mike more then Christine) I have not heard any more rumblings about Alex Jensen. Greg Jamison will also probably be exploring a mayoral bid, and I think if Huether officially announces he will jump in.

Another name that was floated was Vaney Hariri. I guess friends and colleagues have been asking him to run. I don’t know him personally so I have no idea if he is taking the encouragement seriously but he would be a great addition to the field.

I want Christine and Mike to know I have been greasing up the way back machine, and once I get it running it will probably start smoking once it’s gets to your government careers. Erickson has a much better record, and has shown to be a good campaigner. Winning both a school start date ballot initiative and the slaughterhouse vote (even though they mothballed the place).

I think any outside candidates are going to have fun watching these two duke it out on the debate stage.

Charter Revision Commission still hung up on the same stupid crap

During their first meeting of 2023, at least three members complained that citizens are trying to get them to re-write the charter as a new form of government.

To revise something is to re-examine and make alterations to (written or printed matter). THE WORD IS IN THE TITLE OF THE BOARD!

The example they use, which I believe was a past proposal by Joe Kirby, was when Joe suggested we remove the mayor from the city council.

That is called a revision not an entire new form of government. In fact it is probably a couple sentence change in the charter under the mayor’s duties. IT IS NOT A TOTAL REWRITE and a gross mischaracterization of the process.

• Members take proposals

• They discuss and debate the proposal

• They vote to place the proposal on the ballot for the next city election

• Voters decide on election day and if it gets over 50% approval it becomes city law

Member Anne Hajek, who was appointed chair for the next four years, said she didn’t want the CRC members to become ‘dictators’.

As I have pointed out to the CRC several times you are NOT rewriting or even revising anything. They take proposals from the public, the council and the administration and vote to place those proposals on the ballot for the CITIZENS to decide. Ironically Hajek said during her rant that the citizens should make the decision to remove the mayor from the council.

THEY WOULD if you would only allow us.

The CRC does NOT have the authority to re-write or re-vise anything, all they do is consent to a ballot question, and as long as the revision is legal and reasonable and most importantly needed to improve the lives of Sioux Falls citizens it is left up to the voters to make that decision on election day.

There seems to be this mentality lately, especially from prominent Sioux Falls and South Dakota Republicans, that revisions to the law by citizens is somehow some kind of dangerous act and we should be more diligent about what we allow on the ballot.


Removing the mayor as a councilor is NOT a groundbreaking change and would actually give more power to the city council to take action.

This is really about the conflicts of interest many of the members have with deep connections to the rich and powerful in Sioux Falls. This concerns me more then removing mayor ‘grunty‘ from the Council dais.

YOU DON’T RE-WRITE ANYTHING, you are only there to provide advice and consent.

I would have to disagree with Hajek, you are acting exactly like a DICTATOR when you don’t allow reasonable proposals to be voted on by the public.

City of Sioux Falls to hire a new city clerk

(PIC: LinkedIn)

I was informed yesterday that a new city clerk was chosen and an announcement would come on Friday, but I guess they decided to announce it early;

Mr. Washington serves as the current City Clerk in Box Elder, SD, and has a bachelor of science degree in management information systems from Midwestern State University (Wichita Falls, TX) and a bachelor of science degree in information technology from National American University. In addition, he is a member of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks and the National Association of Parliamentarians.

Mr. Washington served in the U.S. Air Force for 13 years and was stationed in Sheppard Air Force Base (TX) and Ellsworth Air Force Base (SD).

While Mr. Washington brings the experience and education and seems like a great candidate, I hope he is not overwhelmed.

The population of Box Elder is about 12,000 people, Sioux Falls is 204,000.

While military experience does give applicants an advantage for government service, you wonder if his appointment was under the recommendation of former City Attorney, Stacy Kooistra who is an Air Force reservist member.

I wouldn’t want our diligent eight city councilors to work to hard to find a good candidate. I do know they had around 200 applicants. Maybe the city really doesn’t have a retention problem 🙂

Sioux Falls water plant expansion should be bonded thru 2nd Penny

Sioux Falls water and sewer is funded thru enterprise funds (user fees). Those fees go towards maintenance, operation, general expansions and pipe replacements. They also go towards paying the salaries of the employees of this department (while all other city employees are paid thru the 1st penny operational fund).

While the concept of enterprise funds works well for normal operation, paying salaries and bond payments for major expansions out of this fund is what is draining the coffers and a cause for fee increases.

The 2nd Penny fund was created for road maintenance and soon got hi-jacked for all infrastructure projects. But that is what is it is for, major infrastructure like an expansion of our water and sewer plant.

This is really about allocation of tax money.

We say we need to pay down the bonds for this facility with user fees but we don’t use user fees to pay down the bonds for the Events Center, Pavilion, Zoo, Tennis Courts, Midco Aquatics and the list goes on.

It is ludicrous to have $80 million in a reserve fund for infrastructure projects while raising water rates to pay down bonds for a needed infrastructure project.


Why not re-finance the bonds thru the 2nd Penny fund and avoid a water rate increase? I wonder what Bloomberg thinks of that?