Historical LED lighting & Secret(?) Bunker Ramp budgets at the Sioux Falls City Council

We will start with the regular council meeting last night. It was a very short meeting with virtually zero questions or discussions. The only fireworks were the expected obstruction from Lead City Attorney Stacy Kooistra, who likes to make things up when he doesn’t want to answer questions. I call it (I didn’t sign up for this) lying. It’s like he doesn’t want to lie, but he has to because the mayor made him accept an appointment because he was childhood friends with Mrs. Poops, or something like that.

Councilor Starr pulled the legal agreement for the Bunker Ramp from the consent agenda and asked Kooistra where the $150K is coming from? Stacy said it was coming from the project budget. Pat asked how much was remaining in the budget, and Stacy couldn’t answer the question without input from finance (who were in the lobby at the time) but the $150K could be covered, than chastised Starr for not giving the question in advance (their normal excuse). Than Pat asked how do you know if there is enough in the budget to cover the $150K if you don’t know how much the total budget is? Stacy then changes gears and says he can’t say publicly out of the best interest of the city and pending litigation, into which Starr replies, what about the best interest of the public and citizens and is the budget really that big of a secret?

It’s not.

The irony is that all of the information is publicly available because it is in the budget book from last year. I guess the fund started at around $1.2 million and now because of all the counseling and lawyering we are whittled down to around $800K and some change. The rumor from the developer is that he was made an offer and declined. Some officials on both sides think this will go to trial, which I welcome. I could care less of the outcome, it will just be nice to hear how this all fell apart in a court of law and the public will truly see how poorly negotiated this was on both sides.

During the last agenda item at the meeting, the finance director (you know the guy that wasn’t supposedly there earlier) presented the delinquent accounts for the year. Starr asked him what the total was since it wasn’t on their presentation. Shawn said he didn’t add it up, then Pat says, “Do you know how much is in the Bunker Ramp budget?” You can guess the answer.

HISTORICAL LED LIGHTING?

During the city council information meeting they discussed all the splendid savings we are receiving for the Pavilion roof repairs. We are actually saving quite a bit of money because we are using $6 million of Covid relief funds we budgeted last year. The consultants said that the roof would cost $3.6 million without the spindles and $4.2 million with them and a little extra for LED lighting. What I found humorous is that they want the spindles to keep the historic look of the building, but they want to add LED backlighting? Is that historic? NOT. It seems like since the kitty is full of Federal money we should just go whole hog, I agree, but we should spend the money on something else, like affordable housing opportunities. I personally don’t think we need the spindles or the LED lighting, fix the cornice cap and more importantly fix the roof and move on already.

Maybe I should put LED backlighting on my roof vents so people notice their architectural beauty 😊

Ending Food Deserts

Guest Post by by David Z for Mayor and Patricia Lucas

I want Sioux Falls to be a thriving, robust city with healthy citizens. Healthy citizens need a nutritious diet based on regular access to fruits, vegetables, grains, and meat.

This goal has become increasingly challenging. In our state of South Dakota, one out of nine individuals is food insecure and one of every six children is at risk of going hungry. The closure of grocery stores, higher cost of food, transportation limitations, and the COVID pandemic make the problem of food access critical. Some areas of Sioux Falls don’t have nearby supermarkets – they are food deserts. Food deserts occur most often in rundown parts of a city when grocery stores move away from high crime and low income areas. The HyVee on Kiwanis Avenue recently closed creating a food desert.

A former manager of this supermarket commented on www.reddit.com that the closure of this store “will undoubtedly impact countless families and individuals who shopped there on a highly consistent basis. A majority of the clientele were elderly, disabled, and lower income shoppers who may already have a difficult time in getting to the grocery store, especially in frigid winter months … it really is leaving behind a food desert.”

This is a crisis for our city of Sioux Falls. Malnourished people can become obese, have heart disease, and suffer from type 2 diabetes. Children can suffer even more. Hunger can slow their mental and physical development. They don’t do well in school and have lower graduation rates. Hungry children often don’t reach their full potential and remain disadvantaged during adulthood. Hunger results in reduced health and that increases medical costs and expensive emergency room visits.

A short term solution for hunger is providing food access through charities and government programs like food stamps and subsidized school lunches. While these excellent programs solve critical needs, they don’t solve the whole problem. We can make food more affordable by removing the sales tax on food. City government can subsidize placing grocery stores in food deserts and thereby increase local access to healthy nutritious food at reasonable cost. Urban agriculture can provide gardeners with delightful fresh fruits and vegetables. We can support the health and welfare of Sioux Falls by investing in our citizens of all ages, sexes, income levels, and races. We improve the present and build the future. Let’s solve local hunger together.

Sioux Falls Female Mayoral Candidate Panera Limchikans comments on stubbing her toe

I found this comment in an article on turkeyvulture605 interesting from a mayoral candidate;

I’m glad I was wearing closed toe sandals,” she added. “Get your closed toe sandals. We know people who wear them are less likely to get it in a bad way and be hospitalized. I still think just the confusion among people is so great, it’s hard to correct at this point, especially if you are used to wearing open toe sandals.”

So which kind should you wear? It’s hard to know if you should sacrifice safety for being fashionable? Will Panera support a closed toe sandal mandate if she is elected? Where’s my right to show off my pretty painted toe nails?

*I wrote this post while being ‘NON-ANGRY’

Maybe Mayor TenHaken should listen to Trump

Recently our previous president called elected officials who don’t promote Covid vaccinations or lie about them ‘gutless’, surprisingly, of about the 30 to 40 thousand statements this caveman makes I agree with a few. This is one of them.

But even when Poops was presented with a moment to stand on a soap box and tell people to get the damn shot, he says this;

I’m glad I was vaccinated,” he added. “Get your vax. We know people who get it are less likely to get it in a bad way and be hospitalized. I still think just the confusion among people is so great, it’s hard to correct at this point.”

Huh? What confusion? Getting less sick? Dying?

The only confusion is why you are not on the streets of Sioux Falls promoting vaccination. I could speculate, but I am sure when you are running the Dutch Mafia, it’s good to be Dutch. (this was my scaled back ‘previous’ Christian response and not my potty mouth response).

While people may think I am attacking Poops, let’s be clear hear, I have viewed several local PSA’s, and NOT once have I seen the supposed leader of our city promoting vaccination.

If you are so speculative or confused, why did you get fully vaccinated? As you mentioned. It protected you? Why not use this opportunity to tell the public that vaccinations are a good thing? Because as your orange hero says you lack the courage to state the obvious. You should have just told the interviewer, ‘I didn’t sign up for this.’

Is the Fairgrounds Task Force a backdoor way to sell the land for a quarry?

Well, we should have seen this coming a mile away;

Minnehaha County commissioners will consider a resolution Tuesday on whether to establish a task force that would review and establish a future vision for the William H. Lyon Fair Grounds.


“It’s very much a concerted effort of the entire commission,” Commissioner Dean Karsky said. “We just know we need to address it, the public expects it, and we feel the fairgrounds deserves the attention it needs.”

The only thing to address is a purchase agreement. It is no secret that a North Dakota company wants to buy the land for a quarry, but before they can do that, they have to figure out what to do with the fair;

In creating the task force, the commission “seeks to focus future county investments, community support and donor gifts, both for facilities and general operating support, to best meet the needs of the community and the intent of the Lyon’s gift,” according to the resolution on Tuesday’s agenda.

In other words since the County and Fairgrounds have failed to sell significant naming rights over the years, the place has gone to the birds, I have suggested for a long time this was done on purpose so they could eventually sell the property for a quarry. No body wants to invest in it. There has also been an underground campaign by the potential buyers to sway Lyon family members.

Make no mistake, this taskforce is just smoke and mirrors over selling the land for a cement quarry. Why beat around the bush, just put the sale to an up or down vote of the Commission right now. I can tell you why it hasn’t been put up for a vote, because it would be very close and controversial, but after 12 months, the commission will change and they may have the votes to sell, and trust me, it will get sold as a quarry.

My suggestion is to sell it, but to the highest bidder, and since what’s under the fairgrounds is worth more than the rat’s nest sheep barns on top of it I would also suggest selling the mineral rights under it. My suggestion would be a significant down payment with a contract for deed over 4-5 years that the county could use for relocating the fair. My suggestion would be to Hartford where the town has been actively pursuing economic development, and I really don’t like Brandon, because, well it’s Brandon (Hartford should really sell shirts that say ‘F’ck You Brandon’)

A county official suggested to me it should be put to a public vote, and my response is that most residents in the county (which mostly live in SF) would vote for the sale. It would probably be a bigger landslide than the SF School Bonds.

Maybe it is time Minnehaha County just throws in the towel and starts a new fresh purpose for the fair somewhere else. Sorry Hairball, you are playing Hartford next year. But look on the bright side, it isn’t Brandon.

Washington Pavilion presenting their Bazillion Dollar roof on Tuesday

In other news from the Pavilion, there will be a presentation tomorrow for the new roof and their parapet replacement (you know, those spindle thingies on the top of the building that no one knows are there and if not replaced, most people would not notice);

Washington Pavilion Cornice and Parapet Replacement by Scott Rust, Purchasing Manager; and Steve Jastram, Arch, Inc.

As we know, there have been several numbers thrown out there about fixing the roof, the highest is around $6 million. Even councilors have asked if they don’t do the parapets could it be cheaper. But what most people don’t know is that the roof has to be fixed because 1) the parapets are about to fall off and 2) it wasn’t constructed correctly to begin with. When the center of the building was gutted during construction they were supposed to replace the entire roof as a complete roof, instead to cut corners they matched up the new roof over the Great Hall with the existing roof over the outside office space and lobby. It would be like backing your Ferrari into a telephone pole and fixing the cracked fender with duct tape and spray paint. They were warned it would not work, and it didn’t. In fact it leaked from the very beginning and was/has been causing water damage in the building and over the years they kept applying more duct tape and spray paint. As for the parapets, they should just go completely, they are a hazard, even if the new ones are made from fix-a-flat foam or something.

What is interesting about this proposal is that the Pavilion hasn’t released a financial report in 1-1/2 years, but recently they changed their reporting period from July-June for the fiscal year. We have NO IDEA what the finances were from July 2020-June 2021. But if you look closely, even during the first half of Covid the Pavilion did pretty good (pages 27-28). What is interesting is that expenses in 2020 were around $8 Million while in 2019 they were $13 million, yet the books level out at the end.

Hmmmmmm.

I just think the Bazillion has some splaining to do before asking the tax payers to blow $6 million on a roof from the entertainment tax when they have some money in their kitty to help pay for it.

Why is the Washington Pavilion hosting a show that promotes a cult?

I got an email from a foot soldier a few weeks ago, but didn’t think much of it;

I received a mailer about something called “Shen Yun: China before Communisim”. This is a stage shown produced by the Falun Gong religious movement, who is more well known for their pro-Trump rag The Epoch Times. They are going to put on one of these Shen Yun performances at the Washington Pavilion on January 26th. I wonder if this is worthy of a blog post as a SF government organization is allowing a pro-Trump religious movement to host a show at the Pavilion.

I responded;

I get it, and would agree this is a POS show, but the Pavilion is ran by a private non-profit even if it does get subsidies from the city they can basically put on any governmental or religious show and have over the years. You also have to realize the place is ran by a person who only cares about cashing in and making money.

As I mentioned above, there is little stopping the Washington Bazillion from putting on the show, and Holy Sh!t it is expensive. I guess cults don’t get money from trees.

If you don’t know much about the Falun Dafa Cult they seem to revel in being anti-socialism, anti-gay, anti-atheist, anti-premarital sex and and anti-science all rolled into a big old barrel of monkeys. Wait, I think I just described our governor’s agenda.

Secretly I am actually thinking about going just so I can laugh at the end when the Karl Marx character ruins all the fun. But I am also NOT a fan of putting my money in a burn barrel.

I encourage anyone thinking about going to NOT go and if you already have purchased tickets to ask for a refund siting you don’t wish to support a cult. I sometimes wonder whoever is booking the shows over there even bothers to do a little research. It reminds of how they didn’t book Lucinda Williams (about a month before she won a Grammy) because they didn’t think they could fill the seats or how they canceled negotiations with Hank the III because he wouldn’t promise to do all old timey music sets.

But a Chinese cult ballet for $180 a ticket? That’s A okay.

Has the City of Sioux Falls reached a settlement agreement with the Bunker Ramp?

Either they have or it’s very close. In the consent agenda (Item #7 – Sub Item #12);

City Attorney, Engagement Agreement for Legal Services for Village on the River, Fuller, Williamson, Nelson & Preheim, LLP., $150,000.00

I do have a few concerns with this 1) It seems like a very large dollar amount for legal services to just draw up a settlement agreement and 2) I’m not sure the city has ever used this local law firm before.

So what is this? I have a couple of guesses;

• This was the developer’s law firm and they are getting a cut of the settlement OR the city has agreed to pay the developer’s legal fees as part of the settlement?

It will be interesting to see how much of this plays out in the public and media. Will we ever know what the settlement amount is to the developer? Will there be some kind of announcement? NOT HOLDING MY BREATH.

UPDATE II: Is Mayor TenHaken considering City Employee Retention Bonuses?

UPDATE II: Today I heard chatter that the city employees have been openly talking about the bonus they may receive and many are happy with it. One employee mentioned this recently happened in Rapid City;

After two failed motions by the Rapid City Council Monday, 430 city employees will receive $500 in COVID-19 bonuses.

The Rapid City Council voted 6-4 to approve the bonuses for non-public safety employees who worked during the pandemic in 2020. 

Notice they are calling this a Covid bonus. I can see why it almost didn’t pass. While Sioux Falls virtually had NO shut down in the private sector a large portion of Sioux Falls city employees were allowed to work from home.

I also find it ironic that Mayor Poops is considering such a bonus (like Rapid City) after receiving this endorsement;

In the police briefing today it was mentioned that new recruits would get a hiring bonus. I am not opposed to this, because it is a normal practice for the private and public sector to offer hiring bonuses.

But it got me thinking. I thought I heard TenHaken talk about this recently;

“Our city employees are seeing the bonuses and incentives and work-from-home opportunities and every kitchen sink being thrown at employees … so we have to continue looking at how we’re being aggressive in retaining our people and making us an employer of choice,” he said. “We have to get serious about how to compete with the private sector. I have a lot of unfilled positions causing stress for the city.”

First off, besides the corner of 8th & Indiana and a couple dozen panhandlers, the city is running just fine. If we are short on city staff, it certainly isn’t being seen. Day to day operations are not any different then pre-covid.

I don’t know how the city could possibly give retention bonuses. I don’t think it has ever been done before. It would also be a troubling move for the city union(s) to accept a bonus instead of a raise. A bonus is a one time payment that really doesn’t do much to advance your salary. Every year the city council rubber stamps a property tax increase by a certain percentage, and based on their argument this is good because that compounds over the years. Raises also work that way. It would be much better for city employees to negotiate a permanent pay increase instead of a lousy stimulus check from the city and signed by Poops.

I also don’t think it is appropriate to give retention bonuses to current city employees. Studies have shown that current city employees are already some of the best paid in the region AND further more, the city is not a for-profit institution. What would this bonus be based on? Tax collection? Which is also concerning because that means we are collecting too much if we have money to throw around for bonuses to employees who are only measured by their service instead of profits. Also consider around 30% of city employees don’t even live in Sioux Falls or contribute to the tax base.

Further more, where are we at with tax collection last year? Does the mayor have some kind of inside information he is not sharing with the public and a bucket of money he can just throw at the city employees. Why not spend the money on fixing more infrastructure?

But the biggest red flag is the ethics of giving out bonuses right before a city election. It is nothing else but a huge bribe for the city employees who are eligible to vote in April. I’m not even sure that is legal?

If any of this is true (who knows with all the babbling Paul does in the interview), I encourage the Unions to reject the bonus and ask to go back into negotiations for a percentage increase instead and throw this bribe back in Poops face.

UPDATE: This was just posted on the SF City Council agenda for Tuesday informational. So there must be something going on? Bonus or Raise? We will see.

*Some of my city hall moles have told me there is something else brewing. I guess there was some secretive meetings held this week with (some select) councilors and directors in Poops Quarters about some kind private/public partnership with developers and a possible higher education institution. Probably to assist TenHaken’s Tool Team at DSU? 🙂

UPDATE: City of Sioux Falls Financial Director reveals how remodel will be paid for

UPDATE: If you looked at the finance reports I posted a link to earlier in the week you will see that Matt Paulson and Craig Lloyd were the top two donors to candidates. Heck, even Councilor Nutzert donated a $1,000 to a candidate to challenge incumbent Brekke. Which I find strange considering 1) Janet has more qualifications than anyone sitting on the council and 2) Has voted with the rubber stampers 99% of the time. As I have mentioned in the past, this is why you can’t get regular people to run, because the money elite will donate to the rubber stampers that will do their bidding. Also notice there is a lot of talk from Paulson when it comes to remodeling the new building, but once again nothing in writing and only days after council approval the dollar amount they were floating around has suddenly disappeared from the discussion;

Earlier this week, the Sioux Falls City Council approved a deal that will allow Startup Sioux Falls to move into the former Parks and Recreation Department building at Sixth Street and Phillips Avenue. The agreement provides a 10-year lease for Startup Sioux Falls at the rate of $1 per year. The space will be completely renovated at Startup Sioux Falls’ expense, creating offices for its staff, a modern co-working space and an event space for startup community events. This move will place the center of activity for new business formation directly in the heart of downtown.

As usual, follow the money, the rich give out their tokens and they receive the goodies from the taxpayers.

I had no doubt the city council would vote 8-0 to approve the new Zeal/Startup Center last night, but it didn’t stop me from testifying about the lack of transparency in the contract that should mandate they HAVE to spend $1 million or more on the remodel.

Of course several board members walked to the podium (after I testified) and talked about all the wonderful things . . . blah, blah, blah, but none of them, any city employees or councilors counterpointed what I said about having it in the contract in writing.

One councilor asked the finance director about the naming rights deal in the contract. Shawn admitted that the remodel plans haven’t been drawn up yet so they don’t have a price tag yet (even though they are fine with renting the facility for $1 a year). Then he explains that the money needed for the remodel will be likely generated by naming rights. In other words, there is the possibility Matt Paulson will likely front the money for the remodel in return for hanging his MarketBeat sign on the building.

I don’t care what kind of charitable giving people do in their personal and business lives, but it always pisses me off when that gift has strings attached when it involves public/private partnerships. Can’t these people just write a check and be done with it? Of course not, they need something in return, as if the $1 a year lease for 10 years isn’t enough? I understand naming rights when it comes to the Events Center and other facilities like that, but now we are doing it in parks and buildings that we should just liquidate. Why does the public have to be involved with this very scrupulous deal to begin with?

When Shawn said that the council ‘Will have to approve any naming rights.’ I just laughed, as if they would vote anything down at this point. What a bunch of Clowncilors.

Once again, another handout with the taxpayers holding the bag.