Minnehaha County Commission joins City Council’s attempt to limit public input

I saw this coming when people concerned about election integrity and opposition to the CO2 pipeline started showing up to MCC meetings;

But having those comment sessions at the beginning of meetings delays other work. And members of the public who are at a meeting for a specific item have to sit through lengthier public comment sessions.

The new policy, which hasn’t been adopted yet, would also reduce comment from five minutes to three.

They of course are using the tired old argument that the ONE person asking for a rezone has to wait through public input, as if the public’s sentiments are not important.

“When I started, we didn’t have a time constraint,” Commission Chairwoman Cindy Heiberger said. “People rarely came to talk to us.”

That has changed, particularly in recent months with people who doubt the county’s election integrity.

Besides lowering the time limit to three minutes, the new policy would forbid speakers from using electronic recordings in their presentations, and paper handouts would have to be handed out in advance.

The reason people rarely show up to the meetings is because you have them at 9 AM on a Tuesday morning when common folk are working, it has very little to do with people being HAPPY with county government, they simply don’t know what you do because you conduct your business in non-opportune time slots and take days to post the replay of the meeting.

Commissioner Jeff Barth, who is soon to be retired from the commission, said the status quo has worked “pretty well” in his two decades as an observer and member of the commission.

“The fact that there has been some abuse in recent times isn’t a reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” he said. 

But that is what authoritarians do. When a couple of supposed bad apples show up and actually DISSENT the government their first reaction is to squash that dissent. The Sioux Falls City Council literally changed their public input policy because ONE person called the mayor an SOB, guess what, that person still comes and speaks at the meetings. You accomplished nothing except disenfranchising the rest of the public who have legitimate dissent.

As I have told the council in the past, general public input isn’t for birthday announcements and back patting it is to make our representative government aware of issues in the community. Sometimes those issues don’t have cute names like ONE, 52 or 437.

The more you limit the public to express themselves the more out of touch our government becomes.

Former Sioux Falls Comedian Sean Jordan debuts on the James Corden Show

It’s been years since I have seen Sean, but I remember him from the early days and bouts at the Roller Dollz events. He has really honed his skills. He lives in LA now.

Sioux Falls City Council limits Video Lottery when it suits them

Like the recent property tax hike and ignoring the zoning amendments when it comes to Wholestone Foods, it seems the city council only does the right thing when it suits them;

Tuesday’s council meeting finally saw a vote on a series of video lottery terminal requests and malt beverage license approvals applied for by Commonwealth Gaming and Holdings that, taken together, would comprise four establishments holding 10 video lottery terminals each, all within one building near East 69th Street and South Cliff Avenue.

“It just completely violates the spirit and the intent and the letter of state law, which is that it’s supposed to be separate businesses with 10 machines,” said Neitzert in an interview.

So why did you vote for this reach around of state law in the past? The city council has had the ability to limit Telephone Booth VL casinos for years, and NOW they are realizing they can do these limitations?!

Part of the issue is a 2019 ordinance passed by council which allowed separate casinos operating under one roof to share cooler space and employee access points.

It was a compromise that followed several denials of licenses that CGH had applied for, as city ordinance says alcoholic beverages cannot move from one establishment to another, and that walls must separate businesses that hold licenses to sell alcohol.

Neitzert, who voted in favor of the ordinance, said CGH had always said they were looking to operate two establishments under one roof, not three, four or five.

I figured when they passed that ordinance that casinos would find a way to expand it even more. While I wasn’t a 100% sure this would happen, I initially opposed the change because the city council should be doing everything in their legal power and authority to limit VL casinos and not just automatically approve new venues when they come before the council. While they like to cry about a couple of Med MJ dispensaries they seem to have no issue with a junky VL casino on every corner in this city. Video Lottery has destroyed more lives in this state than MJ could ever do and the tax revenue just gets wasted in the general fund. Besides contributing to more crime, addiction and bankruptcy, a job at a casino isn’t exactly a career move unless you own the place.

When the latter two video lottery terminal requests came to a vote, they failed in a 5-3 vote, with Councilors Curt Soehl, Marshall Selberg and Alex Jensen voting in their favor.

And you gotta wonder what these three clowns were thinking? Further proof our city council is NOT truly citizen representatives.

Midco Aquatic Center already replacing sidewalks and pavement

I faintly remember seeing this on the consent agenda recently, but just assumed it was some minor sidewalk repairs. It appears after only being around for 6 years a bunch of the sidewalk, curb and gutter and pavement needs replaced. First it was the windows now this. Concrete actually gets stronger the older it gets so if this was cracking or getting that bad it means the initial mix they used was sub standard and poured improperly.

Can’t wait to see the price tag when we have to start replacing the siding on the Denty.

(pics sent to me from South DaCola foot soldier)

Bunker Ramp patio astroturf put in just in time for winter

Sioux Falls City Councilor Selberg should recuse himself from Bunker Ramp negotiations

During the informational this afternoon the council discussed what next to do with the Bunker Ramp;

A public parking ramp that took nearly a decade and more than $20 million to build in downtown Sioux Falls could be sold to a private developer.

During a Tuesday informational meeting at Carnegie Town Hall, city councilors urged Mayor Paul TenHaken’s administration to consider all options when picking a new partner to build at the Mall Avenue and 10th Street site.

And that includes selling the entirety of the seven-story ramp that opened in July 2020 and is equipped to handle up to eight additional stories. The site has gone undeveloped since a mixed-use parking ramp project fell apart in 2019.

I do agree with councilors that they should take the best deal and I also agree with councilor Soehl that we need to use a 3rd party to vet the investors properly. I am also partially in agreement with what councilor Merkouris said;

Rich Merkouris said he’s apprehensive about giving any tax breaks to the eventual buyer unless they use the space to add residential stock downtown.

“For me personally, I would struggle incentivizing anything outside of housing unless it was a part of the bigger package,” he said.

I would go a step further and say there should be NO incentives. Anyone who takes over this property is being given a site in a plum location with an opportunity to do well. The taxpayers have already incentivized this project, there is absolutely NO reason to hand out more candy. Find an honest free market developer who has a solid plan to make it successful, then you don’t need to worry about tax incentives. It was also pointed out it is in an opportunity zone which means there will be some incentives to build there without city tax payers help.

But what what really pissed me off was having councilor Selberg sit in on meetings and negotiations for future use. NO councilor that helped approve this pile of sh!t should be involved. It should either be handed over to a new councilor or Pat Starr who opposed this. It would be like hiring the guy who rear ended your car to fix it. Any councilor who approved this should not be in closed door meetings trying to cover up their mistakes. We need councilors with a clear conscience to negotiate this deal with a focus on hyper transparency.

These knuckleheads learn very little from past mistakes.

UPDATE: Mayor TenHaken & Sheriff Milstead turn public safety presser into anti IM 27 campaign

UPDATE: There was some more debunking last night of what the mayor said;

TenHaken isn’t sold on the idea that revenues from marijuana legalization are a tremendous boon to a community.

“Any revenue that is realized is used to deal with the unintended consequences, treatment issues, crime issues, that result as a result of legalization,” TenHaken said.

Shweich argues against that.

“If it were the case that in any of these legalization states that the cost of the policy was greater than the revenue then why haven’t we seen any state repeal this policy?” Schweich said.

In fact, both Lincoln and Minnehaha County along with the City of Sioux Falls and neighboring towns could see millions in tax revenue that could be directed at education, roads and criminal justice.

There was a lot of bull being thrown at the public safety presser yesterday.

VIDEO LINK

Besides Sheriff Milstead rants about the Southern border and immigrants they started attacking IM 27 claiming that cannabis legalization would lead to more violence, hurt children and families. Alcohol, Meth, Opioids, Poverty (low wage jobs) and Video Lottery do a pretty good job of that already.

But none of that was mentioned – only the evil weed.

“Individuals go to purchase marijuana, and they get drug-ripped,” Milstead said. “And, so, that’s why some of the people buying marijuana are carrying guns, and that’s why some people are selling marijuana are carrying guns. And, so, there’s a lot of black market marijuana dealings that go on in our community, and some of them result in violence. Some of them result with individuals joining gangs, and, so, I certainly would keep marijuana in that top three of what drugs we’re encountering and dealing with on a regular basis, sometimes with people that are armed and posing a danger to our community.”

They claimed the black market would thrive if Rec MJ became legal. Sure. Just like it is now. It would only be legal to purchase by those who are 21 and older, so yes, teenagers are going to have to find an illegal way to use, just like they have been doing for decades with alcohol and tobacco. The crimes committed because of the illegal trade of MJ are already here, they won’t suddenly disappear if Rec passes.

And whose job is it to stop the black market drug sales? The very people who want to blame a boogey man from Mexico with a truckload of pot and illegal guns, our Police and Sheriff Departments.

It was disappointing that they offered NO solutions to the current illicit drug problems we already have.

The reporter, John Gaskins, who wrote the DNN article asked Milstead at the press conference that he mentioned drug dealers and criminals stealing guns out of unlocked cars and wondered if Milstead would support fining people whose guns are stolen and used in crimes. Milstead said that was up to the legislature (passing the buck once again) and said he would not be inclined to punish LEGAL gun owners. But when a legal vehicle owner does something irresponsible with their vehicle they get a fine.

In fact, since our Legislature and Governor signed an open carry law in our state, gun violence has skyrocketed in Sioux Falls. Not sure if there is a correlation, but it is hardly a coincidence.

When it comes to the black market drug trade and the violence associated with it in our state, our police and deputies could take a multi-faceted approach to prevention, but instead they decided to focus on a country that doesn’t border our state and a drug that no one has ever overdosed on. They also failed to mention that legal MJ sales could be taxed very heavily and assist law enforcement with funding to prevent violence and illegal drug trade. Milstead made a claim that taxation would not offset the legal issues with Rec MJ, that claim, about Colorado Springs was debunked by DNN;

In July 2022, Suthers told a Colorado TV station that he’s “vehemently opposed” to recreational marijuana sales in Colorado Springs. Suthers’ office did not immediately respond to requests seeking comment.

“When we legalized recreational marijuana in the state, I remember the promises,” Suthers told the station. “Number one: there’ll be all kinds of money for schools, roads, all that kind of stuff. But all the money we’ve taken in barely pays for the regulation of marijuana and it doesn’t pay for the social problems.”

In response to this, Anthony Carlson, a campaign manager for Your Choice Colorado Springs, told The Center Square — an American conservative news website that features reporting on state and local government — that Suthers “is sticking his head in the sand and talking as if adult-use recreational cannabis isn’t already 100% legal to possess and consume in Colorado Springs. Right now, people are traveling to nearby communities, purchasing their cannabis, and bringing it right back home to use.”

“Recreational cannabis is already here, we just don’t reap the benefits of the tax revenue that comes with it,” he added.

Our illegal drug trade problems won’t be solved after Rec MJ is legalized in the state, but who is solving them now?

The Sioux Falls City Council could have stopped Wholestone Foods

A group filed paperwork today in opposition to the Wholestone Foods ballot initiative. But all of this legal wrangling could have been avoided.

The mayor and council have stated several times there is nothing they can do to stop WF from building a slaughterhouse, but that isn’t true.

As I have mentioned in the past, after Shape Places passed both the council and voter’s muster it was set in ordinance (city charter law) but that doesn’t mean the city council can’t amend it. They have already amended it several times when it comes to signage and building codes.

As it stands right now, the power of the council to either accept or reject conditional use permits for large projects like this was eliminated in Shape Places.

BUT, after the ballot initiative signature drive started the council could have easily amended Shape Places within 30 days and brought back conditional use permits for projects of this nature. They could have rejected most of the permits, especially when it comes to water usage.

The mayor and council are telling you they are powerless to stop this train, but that isn’t true.

Does Jamie Smith have a fighting chance?

Maybe.

If you would have asked me this question the day he announced, I would have fell over laughing.

Money is the name of the game, and we could easily talk the issues, etc., but that is what wins.

But we are in strange times;

• Roe vs. Wade was overturned.

• The red state of Kansas overturned it in their state . . .

• Amendment C failed in SoDak.

We could also talk about plane trips, cheating and nepotism, but we won’t go there.

Social media today was on fire that internal and external polling show Jamie Smith is closing the GAP and is within Billie Sutton territory.

My family homesteaded in SoDak on both sides of the tree, I grew up here and my families have deep roots. No one was specifically conservative or liberal in my family, just caring, patriotic and faithful. One thing South Dakotans don’t like is liars and cheaters. Ironically, Noem could lose this race, by simply being a loser (and a liar and cheater).

Maybe the Sioux Falls Police Department should take up a program like this?

Should public safety officers be in good physical and mental condition?

The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office requires a physical fitness obstacle course, the department believes this kind of training is vital.

Jokes aside, I know, I am short, fat and couldn’t catch a squirrel stuck in a peanut can, but I expect more out of our police officers.

Does the SFPD have a physical and mental test of officers each year?

I remember when Dr. Kermit Staggers was on the city council, and he asked then Chief Barthel if the police officers had any physical requirements. A stunned Barthel says, “They have to be able to perform their duties.”

OKAY.

I have literally seen SFPD officers step out of their vehicles and the vehicle bounces back in retraction from the weight being lifted.

Don’t judge. I have advocated on this blog and to city councilors that all patrol officers should get paid at least 4 hours a week for gym and physical fitness time and any other tools to keep them in shape. I believe officers and any city employee is a taxpayer investment and we should give them whatever they need to be successful. I want our officers to be of sharp mind and sharp body. It is not only an investment for citizens and our safety, it is an investment in their lives and families and that really has no price-tag.