Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Jan 21, 2020

Informational • 4 PM

Presentations on;

• Weber Avenue Corridor Study

• Emerald Ash Borer Response Plan Update 

• Project TRIM Assistance Program & Project TRIM Pilot Project (this project presentation will be informative. I wonder what the city spent to experiment with this).

Regular Meeting • 7 PM

More info to come

South Dakota Manufacturer builds surveillance trees, and Dusty says, ‘Cool’

Wouldn’t this be a fun Christmas tree to have? It could catch all the great moments when your grandchildren open their gifts (or their frowning faces when you give them crap). **Note: The family mentioned is NO relation, they spell their last name different.

“The system was designed to be able to get daytime and nighttime video of people as they are coming across the border, in real time, to a dispatch person that would then be able to dispatch certain patrol people to that area,” Taylor said. “It gives them a great way to see how many people are coming, be able to track them as they are going, and it can allow U.S. Customs and Border personnel (CBP) to know how many people to send. If there’s a potential issue or concern with that group coming across, then maybe it can help identify that prior to them getting here.”

Ironic, isn’t it? A family business in Yankton, South Dakota, that probably has immigrant heritage from Germany, Austria and Switzerland is building fake trees to stop immigrants. I won’t bring up that other famous German that thought this was also good idea.

Minnehaha County Commission limits public input to 3 minutes

For a long time, the MCC has never limited public input time, I don’t even know if they have a rule for it. Obviously with Roberts Rules, they can make up a rule before a special meeting, like they did on Tuesday before the refugee approval meeting.

While I understand telling people they should try to limit themselves to 3 minutes is a ‘nice’ suggestion, being a dictator about it, was a little annoying. MCC Chair Jean Bender was cutting people off left and right. At one point, the former director of the Multi-Cultural Center, Quadir Aware was told to end his testimony, and he went into a rant about the corruption of the MCC. Oh, the irony . . . .

I have seen public input that has lasted for over 20 minutes for one individual, and one time former Mayor Bucktooth and Bowlcut talked for well over 9 minutes during public input about drainage for his swamp lake home.

Like I said, the suggestion of 3 minutes was well within Roberts Rules, etc., but when it comes to a topic as important as refugee resettlement and our foolish president who implemented these rules, if someone went over 3 minutes, so what?! Besides, your meetings start at 9 AM, you really have all day to listen and hash it out, we all know none of you have ‘real jobs’ to get to, especially Jeff and Dean 🙂

AARP features a story on Mayor TenHaken

I was actually surprised they were able to track him down for an interview, wait, the article came with a photo shoot, so of course he showed up;

After the summit, TenHaken created a Department of Innovation and Technology, hiring as its leader Jason Reisdorfer, who had previously worked in sales. Reisdorfer got to work on redeveloping the city’s transit system. Among the city workers he and TenHaken picked for the Core Team, only one had previous transit expertise. The diverse team included a firefighter, a police officer, a librarian and a health care worker.

“We didn’t want to have a bunch of people in the same room who said, ‘This is how we’ve always done it,’ “ Reisdorfer says.

So he headed this team up with a former tool salesman (who BTW just quit) that came up with a plan that has failed in other communities across the continent. Seems like a good thing for the AARP to write about.

TenHaken allowed the team freedom to work on its own. “When a mayor gets involved in any sort of meeting, his or her voice trumps any other discussion in the room,” he says. But his presence was felt. The team communicated using a messaging app, and TenHaken frequently chimed in with uplifting emojis.

That’s because one of the first things PTH did as a Mayor was give his COS executive authority so he could jet set all over the country and world. As of right now I guess he is in Haiti trying to set up more missionaries over there with a team of local bankers and businessmen. While I am all for charitable work, all the mayor has to do is drive about a mile east from his city hall office to Whittier neighborhood and see people right here in our community that need charity and help.

If the pilot works, part of the bus fleet would be replaced with vans and cars.

TenHaken embraced the idea, but also the possibility that it might not work. “We’re experimenting and we’re innovating on a very public stage,” he says. “The alternative is to do nothing at all.”

And it won’t work, or it will work but help very few people. There is an alternative, fix paratransit and the fixed route system first, get ridership up and make it more affordable, than screw around with taxi apps.

Snowplow Cowboy?

A citizen has been telling me for awhile that a private contractor contracted for city snow removal that lives in their neighborhood is using a city contracted motor grader blade and snowgate to clear his personal driveway and the driveways of two of his friends in his neighborhood (as I understand it, one of his friends is a SFPO)*.

This occurred Monday, January 13th (when BTW, there was NO Snow Alert) between 5 and 6 a.m.  This citizen called to make the Street Department aware of this.  They were told a supervisor would address it.

OBVIOUSLY NOT, because he and a second motor grader were back in the neighborhood last evening (01-17-2020) clearing the same three driveways. 

Yesterday, the City issued a Snow Alert and notified the public that they would BEGIN to plow Zone 3 the morning of Saturday, January 18, 2020.

While some would say ‘this is a nice gesture’ I would likely agree, if it was a private contractor, but these maintainers are contracted by the city and outfitted with our tax dollars. In other words, a big no-no. What if some property got damaged while providing this ‘service’ or worse someone got hurt? Who would be responsible than?

*Who says POs in Sioux Falls don’t get fringe benefits? Free meals at the hospitals and now city funded snow removal of personal property.

Finicky by Proxy

Natalie Merchant on tiny desk

Midco Aquatic Center subsidy in 2019 double of what predicted

I just about fell out of my chair when a city official sent me this;

Aquatic Subsidies for 2019

Total $2,335,028

Indoor $794,913   34% of the subsidy

Outdoor $1,540,115   66% of the subsidy

*2019 financials are not final until after the Audit is completed.

We were originally told that the yearly subsidy for the MAC would be around $400K, it is almost double that. We were also told that it would be so popular that that subsidy would possibly get smaller the longer it was open. Not the case. Just imagine if the Sanford Sports Complex opens an indoor pool, than what will happen? I said before it opened that it was in the wrong location, it didn’t include other stuff like a fitness area, it was too small and didn’t have enough space for expansion. It also has a lot of private competition. As predicted, the MAC will be a yolk around the taxpayers necks for years to come.

Was LifeScape’s street closure plan just a ploy to add value to the property?

As we said when they lost that battle with the city council ‘Yes, Yes and Yes’.

So here is the news we expected to hear;

The new facilities will replace LifeScape’s 26th Street children’s specialty hospital, residential and school location. 

The children’s campus on 26th street will eventually be sold, but that can’t happen until the new campus is fully functional. 

The project will require fundraising and infrastructure still needs to be done. While LifeScape ideally would like to be done in a few years, the entire campus could take up to five years, Watkins said.

The renderings shown in this piece were produced by the late architect Jeff Hazard before he passed away last year.

As suspected, these plans were probably already set in motion when they came to the council to ask for the street closure. See, the way the rules work is if a street is closed, the adjacent property owner (LifeScape, in this instance) gets possession of the property at NO cost. This of course increases the value of the property. Billion Auto pulled this trick a few years back, except they still own the property where the street used to be.

It pains me that a non-profit that employees great people, does great things in our community and is a needed service would have people in leadership/management who felt they should try to manipulate the city council and an entire neighborhood for financial gains. Thanks to the insight and vision of 3 councilors (Brekke, Starr and Stehly) and countless citizens in the neighborhood that pushed back, this financial windfall at the expense of taxpayers and people living in the neighborhood never happened. If you want our money, just ask. I often expect people to conduct their private business and non-profits with integrity, but especially organizations that help the disabled.

The Saudi Prince of South Dakota needs to go

As I posted about on January 2, there is a little trouble in the SD GOP;

A group of Fall River Republicans are demanding that Dan Lederman resign as chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party due to his lobbying work for Saudi Arabia.

The Fall River County Republicans’ Central Committee unanimously approved a resolution on Tuesday night alleging that Lederman has a conflict of interest between his role leading the state Republican Party and his work lobbying “against American citizens on behalf of a foreign government.”

The resolution has been sent to the party’s State Central Committee for consideration.

I heard about this on January 2, when I posted about it. But as I understand it, Fall River is NOT the only county organization drafting letters. I have heard about at least 3 counties if not more. This will be interesting to see how this plays out.