To Demolish or not to Demolish . . .

Will the city demolish the $2.75 million dollar mansion?

I have no idea, but let’s look at some scenarios;

On one hand, the city has the legal authority to tear down the house, and since they have been fighting this for 10 years I don’t see any hesitancy on their part. Some would argue that this may make certain people in charge look bad politically, but if there is one thing I have learned from this administration and code enforcement department, they are VINDICTIVE and I don’t see them skipping a beat to tear down this house. Politics be damned when some of the most influential people in the city live in the neighborhood including hospital, media and developer executives, many who have donated to the campaigns of the very people in charge at 9th and Main.

But the Federal judge who said the city has the authority to tear down the house has warned of potential litigation problems if that happens;

Besides the obvious waste of tearing down the house, there are constitutional issues.

My second scenario would be the city finding a suitable buyer, selling the home and being reimbursed for the city’s legal expenses. This would make the most sense and may be the way the city is leaning considering they were granting building permits while the litigation was pending.

Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth,

Many have wondered why the building services department was granting permits. Didn’t the city’s legal department notify the office that they shouldn’t supply permits to this gentleman? I think if the house is torn down he could build a whole case around the permitting alone since apparently there is ZERO communication between city departments when it comes to pending litigation.

Whether the house is torn down or auctioned, in the end the city will make an example, because that is what VINDICTIVE AUTHORITARIANS do. Even if it is saved, the current owners will be hung out to dry.

Personally I think it is BS that someone takes 10 years to complete a house, and I think the city has some authority to speed up or remedy those situations, BUT property rights are a constitutional right and there was probably a million different ways to fix this issue without taking or destroying the home even if they were uncooperative.

This is what happens when you have cruise control government and unqualified leaders and counsel personnel. Ironically this administration has taken a wrecking ball to common sense government so this case just seems par for the course.

6th Street Bunker Bridge starter kit

The day after the bridge funding was approved by city council a foot soldier told me that the price overrun was odd to him considering this is just a deck replacement. I asked him what he meant. It was his understanding that since the bridge isn’t that old (I think constructed in the 70’s) that the piers would remain and they are simply replacing the deck like they did with the 8th street bridge.

I didn’t want to jump the gun on that prediction so I have been watching the demolition and noticed the preservation of the piers and according to this media report, that is the case;

That’s to build cofferdams to protect parts of the piers in the river that will be reused

So for a $10 million cost overrun we are not even getting a total bridge replacement? The taxpayers are certainly going down a certain creek without a paddle.


Speaking of speculative book keeping, the city finance department has yet to release it’s audited or even unaudited 2022 financials. Usually there is a report to city council and the public by March of the following year.

Another foot soldier speculated to me that maybe the reason we haven’t seen it is because the mayor’s office is trying to figure out how they are going to explain the massive reserves the city coffers are nesting on.

Maybe we should institute the 1st Annual Sioux Falls Pothole Day Saturday April 1st and any citizen that volunteers for 8 hours on that day to fill potholes will receive $100 cash and a Sioux Falls ONE pin. That would be a quick way to spend some of that moldy money.

House that City of Sioux Falls wants to demolish had a Go Fund me page

I guess the owner of the house was NOT to happy about this and I believe it was taken down. Someone else put it up as a joke. Probably enough there to take the whole family to Burger King.

City of Sioux Falls using firefighters to fill potholes

I am not opposed to different city departments cross training. I have often said that cross training between two departments would be beneficial to taxpayers;

With the increased workload, Public Works has put out the call for additional assistance. One who answered that call is Sioux Falls Master Firefighter Tim Schons.

“We received notice from Public Works that they were in need of individuals to help out their crews, just man-power wise,” Schons said. He chose to sign up to lend a hand.

Besides the obvious question, ‘If a firefighter has time to fill potholes you wonder if they have enough to do?’ OR ‘Why haven’t we been using the fire department for extra street work to begin with?’

But what I found interesting is this;

The main reason for Schons’ decision to sign up was a feeling of civic duty. “We are paid of course for working, but it is volunteer,” he said. “Public Works and the rest of the entities in the city help us during emergencies — well now they are in need of help and this gives us the opportunity to kind of return the favor — the ultimate goal is to help out the citizens.”

Yes they are, if you look at the city salary data for 2023 you will see that temporary service employees for the street department make around $20 an hour which is decent pay if you are pulling 40 hours a week. Mr. Schon makes around $75K a year which equals about $36 a hour. If I were Mr. Schon I wouldn’t mention that to the other guys at coffee break.

I also wonder what the Firefighters Union thinks of this?

Maybe the city should recruit some engineers to fill potholes, I heard they are not really busy these days.

Does this mean Smithfield’s will close?

I find all this posturing about China kind of ironic considering we allow a Chinese owned packing plant to operate in Sioux Falls and send product to China;

This legislation codifies Governor Noem’s Executive Order 2023-02 by restricting state and local governments from contracting with six “Evil Foreign Governments,” including the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Cuba, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

“It’s very clear that throughout history that when we do business with another country that it becomes a more friendly neighborhood,” said Noem. “We are doing an exchange and commerce with them, barriers break down, there is more communication and information with that country because you are doing commerce with them. When it’s a country we don’t like, we shouldn’t be doing business with them.”

So I am guessing once this law goes into place Smithfield’s will be closed? I also see Mayor TenHaken decided to put his two cents in about foreign policy. This guy couldn’t even pick a mural, and he wants to give advice on national security?

Former SFPD officer gets 5 days in jail for assault

I wasn’t in the courtroom or read any of the evidence presented, but I found this statement odd;

Larson was charged with simple assault after arresting a man outside of Wiley’s in Downtown Sioux Falls in July of 2021.

Larson was accused of pushing Samuel Sykes’ head against the cage in the police vehicle and punching Sykes in the groin while trying to latch the seatbelt.

Court papers say it was caught on video – video the judge did not see.

“That’s evidence. The video should have been in court, period. He’s saying something about the video, I’m saying something about the video, the attorney that I had was saying something about the video. Where’s the video at?” Sykes said.

I am wondering why the video would not be admissible in court? Also notice the charge was reduced to simple assault and he plead NO CONTEST which isn’t really an admission of guilt.

Obviously the judge felt he was guilty of something, or he would not have denied the suspended imposition and gave a sentence, BUT you also wonder if this was a way to cover up police brutality of a white officer assaulting a black citizen you know, like when the DCI clears South Dakota officers of NO wrongdoing . . . every . . . single . . . time.

The city also thought Mr. Larson was in the wrong since they terminated him. Did they review the video?

We also know very little about what lead up to him being arrested and if he resisted.

The city was pushed to use body cams and they are now, maybe they can also use the actual footage for courtroom evidence?

Hopefully more details arise as to why the video was not permitted in court.

This little piggy went wee, wee, wee all the way to Iowa

Maybe Wholestone got the message, we don’t want another stinky packing plant in Sioux Falls;

On Wednesday, Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken told KELOLAND News he could see Wholestone build its larger hog processing plant, but he could also see it not being built. 

His Magic 8-Ball must not be working today.

Labor, housing, and the economic climate are all factoring in on this as well as available capital for a potential merger. When Amazon is sending out walk-sequence postcards to residents looking for workers I am sure Wholestone was scratching their heads wondering where they are going to find workers and where to house them.

Just imagine if the millions that were spent on the campaign were spent propping up local charities like homeless shelters. What an incredible waste that could have been avoided if the city council would have acted earlier.

UPDATE: City of Sioux Falls Press Briefings return

UPDATE: I guess they had a briefing last week but only two reporters showed up and the city didn’t record it. Isn’t whole point of have a press briefing is to inform the public? How do you do that without turning on the camera? I am baffled.

After a week off, the city has returned with the ‘weekly’ press briefing, or is it the bi-weekly press briefing?

They also posted today on YT even though someone should tell the media department they posted a briefing from a month ago.

Was glad to see they are going to take another stab at their CIVIC DUTY to INFORM the public now maybe they could scrape some money together for press microphones so we can hear their questions.

UPDATE: Open Letter to the Sioux Falls City Council about the (re)appointment of David Pfeifle for Lead City Attorney

UPDATE: Last night at the council meeting where David was approved 6-1 (Selberg absent, Starr dissent) there were no questions for the appointee. I guess now the administration is even skipping the job interview process in appointing directors.

I also like when the mayor yells ‘Oh my Gosh!’ during public input (FF: 1:21:40) he then says, “See this Boy Scouts you are learning about decorum and professionalism.” What PTH doesn’t understand is that decorum and especially professionalism applies to the body on the dais as well and saying ‘Oh my Gosh!’ to a public inputer who you are personally irritated by is certainly not decorum ‘like’. I get it that you have to shut down people after their 3 minutes are up, but at least let them finish their sentence or point before yelling ‘Thank you’ at them 4 times in a row. The Boy Scouts were probably wondering why the mayor was acting like a Cub Scout.

Cameraman Bruce Danielson sent this email to the council today about David’s record. The proposed appointment with city council approval will be tonight at the 6 PM meeting (Item #44);

I ask the City Council to consider the following thoughts and let these weigh in on the decision to rehire a flawed nominee for Sioux Falls City Attorney.

How will the nominee deal with issues arising between the City Council and the Mayor’s office and the City Employees?

• Will the nominee once again switch sides, giving up his City responsibilities and use City information to personally represent the mayor such as in an ethics complaint without a conflict release from the City Council?

• Will the nominee give up his City Charter duties and use City information and position to personally represent the mayor, such as in an ethics complaint in violation of the City Home Rule Charter and attorney-client relationship with the City Council?

• Will the nominee, in issues before the Board of Ethics, recuse when confronted with conflict or once again risk disbarment similar to his part in two 2014 Board of Ethics hearings involving the mayor?

• Will the nominee once again step aside from his Charter responsibilities to become the personal attorney for the mayor as he did in one of the 2014 Board of Ethics hearings?

What does South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance have to say about their Executive Director taking inside information back to their largest customer?

• Will the nominee force the city to obtain outside counsel every time there is an issue involving his former employer, SDPAA?

• How can SDPAA Board be comfortable with their former employee, who possesses confidential information about its operations, now being able to use it against them?

• Has the SDPAA Board given a formal conflict release for all future cases involving this appointment?

• In most situations when an employee of one organization (SDPAA) decides to take a position with a customer of the first organization (City of Sioux Falls), there is a customary time gap between the resignation and the accession to the other.

Why do think there will be better choices by the candidate then there was last time in city employ?  A sampling of some of the candidates prior issues is not a great recommendation. 

• Events Center hidden cost overruns resulting in the loss of building warranty.

• First time in history a vendor placed a mechanic’s lien on a major asset of the city resulting in a hidden settlement – the Events Center.

• Downtown parking ramp issues, including a building collapse, causing death and the illegal asbestos removal.

• Backdated paperwork on city property sales and projects handled by the city attorney office.

• Interference with public driven activities such as the Administration Building petition drive and others?

• Created the template for advocational education programs to sway public voting illegally using City resources in violation of the 1st Amendment and plain language in SDCL.

• Approved the unconstitutional property zoning changes without legal service to the city’s 66,000 properties.

• Allowed destruction of evidence once a notice of claim under SDCL 3-21 has been filed?

These are just a few of the issues the nominee has been involved in to strip the people of their voices and the people’s representatives, City Council of their oversight. The city attorney is not the personal attorney of the mayor, the city attorney must be someone who understands their loyalties are to the public and act that way every time.

City of Sioux Falls Sustainability fight heating up

Arlene Brandt-Jenson, Administrative Coordinator, SoDak 350 and President, League of Women Voters – Sioux Falls, also wrote a letter to editor with her opinion on what happened;

The Mayor’s new policy advisor, which had not been a part of the monthslong process, says the new “framework” was created in response to concerns from “people” and “the public,” without disclosing sources.

Because they have no sources except political hacks and they would never give that information up;

Let’s be clear: city leadership has shown that they only care about the few loud voices who want to kick the can down the road. By replacing the Sustainable Sioux Falls Plan with a shoddy “framework,” the administration that once committed to grow Sioux Falls through “consensus and transparency” has chosen to override consensus for purposes of apparent political expediency.

I have NOT met with or spoken to any members of this group. I know what the media has been reporting and little else (just like the public).

It was actually refreshing to see a group call out the subversion of information the mayor’s office has been engaging in. While Lori said she would be interviewing the mayor on the topic, a video has yet to pop up. Maybe the press briefings will be re-instated this week and we will hear about these supposed sources that gutted the sustainability recommendations. We can all dream I guess (just make sure you are NOT dreaming next to a river shirtless).