Sioux Falls School District intends to use ‘Super Precincts’ for bond election

According to a source, Doug Morrison told them they intend to use Super Precincts for the school bond election. This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First off, the obvious. The Secretary of State said they will not support E-Poll books. I believe the School District owns their own books, but who will be maintaining the IT work on them if the SOS has said they will not accept them? Also, will the Minnehaha County Auditor be contracted to machine tabulate the votes or will they perform a hand count internal canvass?

Secondly, using super precincts that don’t extend to every district within the Sioux Falls school district could be a violation of Federal law because they would be disenfranchising certain sectors of the community. Precincts have to be a certain distance from voters. In the 2016 school board election they neglected to have super precincts in the entire northern part of the district. That won’t fly this time.

By having a stand alone, super precinct election they will have a very low voter turnout. In other words the final polling will NOT reflect what the survey did, a 60% support. The survey postcards were sent to almost every household in Sioux Falls (83,000 addresses). Obviously, many of the people who the postcards were sent to are NOT registered voters and are highly unlikely to show up to a stand alone school district election. My guess is if they break a 51% approval they will be lucky (they need a 60% approval). The Event Center advisory vote which was very popular and had a high voter turnout received around 55%.

There is also a rumor circulating that the Co-chairs of the Task Force, Vernon Brown and Nan Baker will be heading up a private promotional committee. This could be viewed as a conflict of interest.

The school board votes on Monday to set the date of the special election. There are many unanswered questions, such as what the final cost of the bonds will be (IMO it will be $300 million) and how do they intend to fund the staffing of the new schools (they have no plan at this point).

I support building new schools, but this process has been less than transparent and has a lot of unknowns surrounding it. It’s based on a lot of wishful thinking.

The train traffic and noise DTSF needs to go

After the presentation of the new development downtown I addressed the council at the informational meeting (at end of meeting). I basically told them as long as the train noise and increased traffic exists it will be detrimental to further development downtown. I also said it was time for our Washington delegation to get off their duffs and have a conversation with BNSF about moving the switching and storage of cars out of DTSF.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Council has another ‘hypocritical’ alcohol license vote

Amazing, in a 7-1 vote, (Stehly opposed) the city council approved axe throwing at a bar. I will agree, that would be okay, but I will get to that in a moment.

The hypocrisy of this is that they denied a beer license to a mom & pop affordable movie theater because they were concerned about the safety of the minors, but apparently drinking beers and throwing axes doesn’t concern them.

Why? I will tell you why. Because ‘mom and pop’ who own West Mall 7 don’t own one of the largest home realty agencies in Sioux Falls. The owners of Escape 605 do. They have connections.

But the irony of this is you could have had your cake and ate it too. While they can’t put a condition on the license itself, they can put conditions on the safety plan. In other words the council could have deferred this and asked them to change their safety plan to ONLY allow drinking AFTER their axe throwing session was finished, than came back with a NEW license request.

UPDATE: One of the arguments from the owner of the bar to allow axe throwing around alcohol was that dart leagues use steel tip darts. I thought that was odd, so I asked some people who throw in Sioux Falls dart bar leagues. They told me they were unaware of a steel tip league in Sioux Falls since all the leagues use electronic boards who only accept plastic tip darts.

Not only was the vote tonight childish, hypocritical and wreaked of elitism, it was completely ignorant. You could have allowed them to have the axe range and alcohol, and done it safely, but instead they just ramrodded it through because there seems to be some immediate need to open an axe throwing bar in a building that has sat empty for several years.

I hear individual councilors say individual stupid things at meetings, but I have never seen a group of them act so idiotic before. WOW.

SouthDaCola Podcast 19: President of DTSF, Joe Batcheller

Listen HERE. We discuss what is going on Downtown and future development.

SD Delegation sends Trump 2nd letter; this time with an Applebees giftcard

Well you know what they say, you catch more bees with honey. Senator Thune said this about the 2nd attempt to address the trade war, “We know that the president likes to eat crappy food, so we thought this would be a great follow-up letter.”

I asked Thune since he was 3rd in line for GOP leadership in Washington couldn’t he just pick up the phone and call Trump?

Thune seemed confused and said, “Interview over.”

Upcoming City Events

Sioux Falls Bjorkman Meet & Greet

UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Councilor Janet Brekke on Inside Town Hall

Janet’s video has been removed from the city’s YouTube channel. Not sure why. But we saved it on our channel;

Ax throwing and alcohol; seems like a GOOD idea

In my haste on Friday I forgot to mention council agenda items 19 & 20. Applications for Wine & Beer licenses for ESCAPE 605 at their new Downtown location in the old Ming Wah space.

They want to have an ‘Ax throwing’ range in the bar. Nope, I didn’t stutter.

So this ought to be an interesting discussion with the council. They refused a beer license to West Mall 7 because they feared it would be too easy for minors to sip on some Bud Lights so what would be the harm in people drinking and throwing axes?

I can’t wait to hear the debate.

Speaking of crazy ideas, besides the god awful white brick paneling that the new Pave rooftop lounge has installed (after getting an historic façade easement) they decided that these nice plastic white trees were a nice touch to our historic downtown. How do these things get past our planning department?

Billion’s to have first RR redevelopment project


The announcement was just made minutes ago;

The first project to redevelop part of the downtown rail yard is envisioned as a mix of commercial and residential that would enhance the area around 8th & Railroad Center.

The development will be owned by Black Iron Railyard, LLC, which is led by David and Erika Billion.

Erika and Dave had told me over a year ago they were going to submit to the RFP and were greatly interested in the property behind the 8th and RR center that they currently own. I am actually glad to see they were awarded(?) the RFP, and for once it wasn’t the same old group of developers.

Obviously, the City Council will still have to approve the project, but like I mentioned last week, the ball is already rolling.

It will be interesting to hear if there will be any controversy over this project. The only thing I would be concerned about is building residential less than 100 feet from an active train track. There has been a promise this area will become ‘whistle free’, something that should have been negotiated to begin with. We will have to wait and see how the turd polishing goes.