ArtMaze, one of the better parts of Sioux Falls life in 2016
2016 has been a rough year for citizen activism. While it has been up and down here in Sioux Falls with many successes and failures to boot, it seems Washington DC has gone into full collapse as we allowed racist, sexist, hillbillies to elect our president.
But locally there were three things that stood out;
• Governor Daugaard claiming that voters were ‘hoodwinked’ into voting for IM 22, then getting the Pierre (in)justice system to go along with it. Funny how for over 40 years voters have been voting his party into power, and no word about ‘hoodwinking’ but once that corrupt power will be challenged, all the voters are idiots. As one official told me that used to work for Dennis, it’s not the public that are idiots, it’s Dennis. And his idiocy has been shining through.
• The South Dakota Democratic Party’s bottom completely fell out, and the people in charge patted themselves on the back. Insanity I tell you! Insanity!
• But one of the greatest achievements of the year is the Sioux Falls City Council’s change of power. The four new councilors have been flexing their muscles with a little help from Councilor Erickson, and while they have had a few missteps to start out, they have been learning from the battle scars. While ‘leadership’ of the council (Rolfing and Kiley) seem to be on a two man mission to rubberstamp all things Huether, shut down public input, and concoct false ethics charges against a fellow councilor (until they got caught lying like the snakes they are) they are becoming more and more in check. The city council has many big plans for 2017, and I have a feeling their agenda will push through easily as our lame duck mayor melts.
Let’s take a look at some the finer high and low points of 2016;
• The Huether Tennis center continues to block parking from other event attendees at the Sanford Sports complex though they basically stole $500K from taxpayers for the facility. Throughout the year there was several reports on cones and signs blocking the lot with not cars in it. But hey Mike’s Bride won an award this year and seemed surprised she did, without commenting that her check to the organization that gave the award wasn’t returned.
• The Sioux Falls City Council leadership and mayor’s HR department pulled a military retiree out of their asses for city clerk, a person who will be in charge of our city elections and hasn’t been registered to vote for years. He also proved his knowledge of official stamps when he stamped a petition without even bothering to read it. While Mr. Greco has gotten better over the year, the city clerk position should not be a $80K+ a year job as an apprentice, sadly being trained by one of his assistant clerks who has ten times the qualifications and applied for the position but was turned down. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the council chair’s view of women in the work place.
• Speaking of letting the mayor’s HR department and Leadership’s Mutt and Jeff pick the next internal auditor, the council barked loud enough that they did not want another ‘Greco’ pick. Not sure if the barking worked, but the person who was set to take the job saw the writing on the wall and turned it down. Hopefully the person who ultimately gets the position won’t be turned down because they shave their legs.
• The city continues to blow money on the Winter Wonderland Display, but the way the mayor has been cutting budgets these days, I expect next year’s display to be a couple of homeless barrel fire pits, sponsored by the Dudley House of course.
• After posting about the ridiculous corporate like raises the mayor has been giving to his management team, he turns around and still screws the minions with dismal raises again this year. I think in a special note to the city employees on their Christmas paystub he wrote, “I don’t care.”
• The city continues the FREE condom distribution program at area bars, and for some reason Monk’s is always emptied the quickest. Coincidence that is also a favorite watering hole of city managers . . .
• The Tuthill shooting case becomes ‘inactive’ and a tree branch shadow gets off scott free.
• The Erp wrongfully calls out local massage therapists as prejudice because they pointed out the ‘shower massages’ that were taking place around town. Apparently someone got a bad fortune cookie that day.
• The car rental tax and BID tax grabby-grabby fails in Sioux Falls, but the state legislature passes one of the most idiotic tax increases ever so our teachers are now just tied for last instead of dead last in pay. Out hoodwinking governor already has plans to rob the pot only one year after its passage.
• Hartford’s city government was in a state of collapse. Who really cares?
• The Levitt Pavilion is moving forward in Sioux Falls. It will be nice watching outdoor concerts sitting in the grass while battery acid is boiling beneath our asses.
• The Boulevard ordinance changes went into effect. Now stop worrying about rocks and plant a garden.
• The Washington Pavilion got a change of leadership after Darrin Smith takes over as President. So far he has only eliminated one director, but I hear the blood-letting has just begun. Now let’s throw another couple of million at the place to fix the poor construction to begin with. That will never happen with the Events Center . . .
• The Events Center cracks down on outside snacks and guns at events. We are all now safe from cheap fat people shooting us, but not in the parking lot.
• The Pottie Room war starts in Pierre and is guaranteed to return in 2017.
• A city council candidate throws a hissy fit over a post I wrote about his wife’s involvement with the Jesus plows and after threats to my employer I pull the post. He ends up taking last place in the at-large race. How’s Jesus working out for you now?
• Due to health reasons, Kermit Staggers decides not to run for a 4th term on the city council. His endorsement of Stehly puts her over the top.
• One of the youngest candidates in city history runs for city council. I apologize to Briggs for all the shitty things I said about him during the campaign.
• The Argus Leader sues the city for the details in the secret events center siding settlement. The Argus loses the first round but it is headed to the SD Supreme Court.
• On a similar note, the SON neighborhood is also awaiting a judgement in their Walmart suit with the SD Supreme Court.
• The Mayor and Q-Tip Smith screwup the DT parking ramp development by flapping their traps to soon, and the council later on in the year returns the favor and defunds the ramp all together for 2017. I still think the fiasco is what got Smith to seek refuge at the Pavilion.
• City officials throw a hissy-fit over Bruce’s camera at a city meeting we were invited to by then city councilor Kenny Anderson. Looking back on it now, I just chuckle.
• Bruce and I do a presentation on voter turnout in Sioux Falls at Democratic Forum and one of the mayor’s buddy developers in Sioux Falls tries to shut us down. When he fails, he walks out. Another casualty to transparency.
“The Bishop Dudley is open as an emergency shelter year round and the numbers of people that are using the facility are far and away what we thought they would be,” said Councilor Michelle Erpenbach, who along with Greg Neitzert wants to amend Mayor Mike Huether’s proposed budget to bolster the shelter’s funding to $120,000 next year.
Neitzert said increasing Bishop Dudley’s funding will allow the non-profit to serve even more than the 1,500 guests that used the facility last year, which he thinks will create organic costs savings in future years.
“They save us money by helping people who otherwise would be on the streets and left to all of our social services and police to deal with,” Neitzert said. “I believe they run a very wonderful and efficient service and they require accountability by making them work. … It’s not just a permanent hotel. They’re giving them a hand up, not a handout.”
I would agree with Greg, like the Safehome the county runs, taxpayers save money by housing the chronically homeless alcoholics because they no longer are draining emergency resources and filling up the jail. Of course, Mr. 500K to his private tennis club disagrees;
Huether, who did not attend the work session*, said he’s apprehensive about dedicating resources beyond traditional functions of municipal government.
“We really have to be cautious in spending dollars on programs that are outside of regular government operations or facilities, even though they may be doing good things,” he wrote. “It is so incredibly hard to have to say ‘no’ or ‘not yet’ to good folks and organizations, but it is also absolutely necessary if you are going to have good city government on solid financial ground.”
Trust me, I would much rather see my money spent on something else, but this facility is helping to keep people off the streets, so it is money well spent. Unlike $500K to Huether’s private tennis machine shed that has done ZERO to reduce crime and homelessness in Sioux Falls. What is going on out there anyway? We have never gotten a report.
*I wonder why the mayor didn’t go to the work session? According to B-n-B he is a council member, shouldn’t he be at these meetings?
Cathy Brechtelsbauer, of Sioux Falls, was the recipient of the McGovern South Dakota Hunger Ambassador Award for her work as a longtime volunteer for Bread for the World.
Brechtelsbauer received the award Thursday during the McGovern Hunger Summit at Dakota Wesleyan University. She has been serving as the South Dakota coordinator for Bread for the World for more than 30 years. Her primary efforts revolve around policy reform to aid those with the fewest resources.
The Sioux Falls city council had a discussion today during the informational about what to do with the problem at Heritage Park. I have no idea of what a solution would look like, it’s like whack a mole. But I do see how this came about.
• Concentrating all the poor and homeless services into one neighborhood (deciding to put the Bishop Dudley house next to the Banquet).
• Allowing alcohol in some parks but not in others (eliminate it in all parks).
• Lots of poor and impoverished people in Sioux Falls (crap wages).
The city council isn’t going to solve this problem overnight, but first they have to look at the symptoms of the disease and realize where they messed up, then correct the bad decisions that were made in the past.
Nothing like being scolded for using the word ‘ass’ by the guy who is rumored to drop the F-Bomb quite frequently to whoever is in the room. As for a grammar reference, the term ‘Hard Ass’ refers to a stubborn mule, you know, the mascot of the party you belong to, Mike? The F-word refers to sex. So Mike, I think the people of Sioux Falls would appreciate you refrain from using the word from now on.
Proverbs 21:13 Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.
Psalm 106:3 Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!
At the last minute, I decided to show up to this meeting. It was a packed house and held in the room where the men normally sleep.
I chose two biblical verses to start out this post, one about helping the less fortunate and one about fairness, because they both apply.
Did I go into the meeting with an open mind? That’s hard to say, but I left with some clarity.
The meeting started with the director, Chad Campbell explaining all the good things the house has done since it has opened in January. And those accomplishments took him almost 40 minutes to lay out, and they are great.
As the public began to ask questions, the lights went out (power outage) but the meeting continued. Several people commented on the great things they are doing, and several neighbors commented on improvements that could be made.
I commented that there is NO DOUBT the facility is needed, and doing good things. But I questioned the process in which the location was selected. Mr. Campbell did a fantastic job of explaining all the other services in the area as for picking the location, as did City Councilor Kenny Anderson. But I was disappointed that Mr. Campbell commented that those decisions were made before he came aboard. While that is true, I suggest that Chad studies those discussions and educates himself in what happened in the past. They will be very useful to him in the future. History teaches us to not repeat mistakes . . . most of the time.
I also commented that many who were in the room tonight, including staff, would probably be uncomfortable having this shelter in their neighborhood, I even suggested having it next to the Bishop’s home. I mentioned that I watched the Safe Home discussions very closely, and felt that it’s location choice was well thought out, and that has proven to be so.
Remember, my main reason to comment tonight was not about the mission of the house, but the process that was performed to pick the location.
It’s no different then the Hotel sized home being built in McKennan Park, or the Walmart in the SON neighborhood. Neighbors and citizens must be listened to when zoning decisions are made. Period. It is beginning to sound like a broken record and a dysfunctional turn table.
I personally believe in the long run, the house will actually improve the neighborhood, but I will also warn people, it’s going to be a rough first year, including this summer.
At the end of the day, we need to use this house as an example of how feelings and relationships get burnt when we don’t listen to all sides. That is why I spoke up tonight. The downtrodden and the property owner all breath and share the same air, we are all brothers and sisters.
BTW, would like to commend all the Police Officers, including Mr. Larson for attending tonight. Would also like to thank local leaders and lawmakers Kenny Anderson, Michelle Erpenbach, Darrin Smith and Pat Kirshman for attending tonight, and anyone I might have missed. True leadership comes from courage and the willingness to listen and participate in a community discussion.
The Sioux Falls Police Department told Buehner and other business owners to put up no loitering and no trespassing signs to keep people out but many owners are concerned that signage would only make customers uncomfortable and ultimately hurt their business further. So what’s causing the spike in drunken trespassing? Buehner and others say these incidents have been on the rise ever since the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House opened up next door. The reason? Their “no questions asked” policy.
Was their a need for a shelter of this kind? Most definitely! The problem is the location. The shelter should have been closer to the Jail and Safe House, and closer to Minnesota Avenue, instead of being plopped in the middle of a neighborhood.
The Whittier neighborhood residents warned of the problems before ground was even broke, and the city council and Catholic Diocese ignored the warnings. The residents asked for a plan to deal with the potential problems, and were given nothing.
So what is the plan?
It’s too late to move the shelter now, but the residents at least deserve a plan to help patrol the neighborhood, because saying this, just doesn’t cut it;
Campbell says his staff does all they can to help change their guest’s behavior, but once they leave the center they are out of his control. That being said, if the problem persists Campbell says he is more than willing to work on a solution that makes everyone happy.
The ‘solution’ should have been in place before you even opened the doors. But once again, we are using Whittier Neighborhood for the dumping grounds of our social ills so the elite can live in peace in their tax subsidized condos downtown.
“We should help the less fortunate among us, but move them out of my neighborhood first.”
I have been kind of on the fence about the expansion of a DAYTIME homeless shelter. On one hand, it will be needed, after the Good Shepard & Salvation Army close, and it will probably help alleviate some of the problems in the Whittier neighborhood with panhandlers and harassing neighbors.
BUT, on the other hand, it just seems our city has a track record of ‘moving’ these kind of problematic services into the Whittier neighborhood instead spreading them throughout the city. This shelter could be in several locations, in fact, one business owner suggested putting it in the VACANT Cathedral school, too which the new Planning Commission chair Nick ‘Mr. Bossy Pants Interrupter Jerk boy’ Sershen said it was too close to Hawthorne elementary (which he really meant to say it was too close to the Cathedral and the Bishop’s residence. The irony is that Bishop Swain talks about the sacrifice the Whittier neighborhood should make to help the least amongst us in a letter to the editor, yet doesn’t suggest the shelter be in his neighborhood.) But;
Krista Baartman, a member of the Whittier Neighborhood Association, said one of her biggest concerns is the proposed shelter’s proximity to Whittier Middle School.
“This is 100 feet out of the boundary for the school,” she said. “Are we going to be looking at violent criminals or sex offenders? We don’t know.”
And as a FB Whittier neighborhood commenter pointed out;
As a neighborhood, we already go above and beyond to help the low income and homeless citizens of Sioux Falls. Our concern as homeowners, business owners and parents is that the proposed size of the facility is 3x larger than the current Good Shepherd location and that no stipulations have been placed on the facility to outline their policy on drug and alcohol use, violent criminals and/ or sex offenders. As residents of the neighborhood, we have every right to be concerned. This facility is 2 blocks from Whittier Middle School and across the street from a very popular public swimming pool. These facilities are not used only by our neighborhood, but by a large number of residents in the city of Sioux Falls.
I truly believe the Diocese’s heart is in the right place for wanting to help this sector of our community, but they really need to find a different place. I have suggested closer to the courthouse, community health center and jail would make the most sense right on Minnesota Avenue. I have a feeling there is a push from the Uptown developers to get that stuff out of that area though.
In South Dakota, more than 1,100 people don’t have a place to call home, and over half of them live in Sioux Falls. Monday, the results of the one day homeless count in Sioux Falls were released.
“We had 618 homeless, and 218 of them were children,” Maria Krell, Executive Director of Good Shepard Center said.
In 2012, the homeless in Sioux Falls totaled 435 people.
Krell said, “It’s really a lack of affordable housing.”
Stacey Tieszen, who serves on the Sioux Falls Homeless Advisory Board, agrees. She said Sioux Falls did a study in 2010 that showed the city was 1,000 affordable housing units short, and we would need to build 250 units each year from there on to keep up with the growth of the city and the wages being paid.
“We’re not building that, we aren’t even remotely keeping pace with that, so we are behind the eight ball already,” Tieszen.
Tieszen said in order to afford a two bedroom apartment that costs around $800 a month, a person would have to make $14.61 an hour.
In Minnehaha County, for 44 percent of people surveyed in this count, this was their first time being homeless.
We have a combination of low unemployment, and the jobs that do exist are low paying, forcing many to have multiple jobs. Pile on the constant property tax increases, rate increases for utilities and the lack of affordable housing and what happens? People are forced to hit the streets. What’s even more scary is the amount of people who are ‘borderline’ homeless, and teetering on the edge.
There are things ‘Businesses’ can do;
– Pay workers more, but hire quality employees and train them well so you don’t have to have as many. It will balance out in the end.
There are things ‘Government’ can do;
– ONLY award TIF’s to affordable housing projects.
– REVOKE all other TIF’s that have nothing to do with affordable housing, and start charging them the proper property taxes.
– Reduce property taxes for individual property owners, especially those on fixed incomes.
– REVOKE the food tax, for everyone! Or on at least raw & fresh foods.
– Implement a corporate income tax
These constant tax breaks to those who can afford to pay the most in taxes has to end. We need to take the burden off those who can least afford it. Sadly, as Janoct Adja pointed out when running for mayor the first time, ‘even the homeless in our community have to pay taxes.’
This culture of working the poor to death without providing them affordable housing has to end. But the culture of handouts to the special interests at city hall has to end also to make this work. Once city hall has done everything it possibly can to make it more appealing for contractors to build enough affordable housing in our community, then, and only then, can we start talking about hotels on public golf courses, pickleball courts, and private indoor tennis courts for the mayor and his buddies.
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FILE - In this May 12, 2015, file photo, Singapore teen blogger Amos Yee speaks to a reporter while leaving the Subordinate Courts after being released on bail, in Singapore. Yee whose online posts blasting his government landed in him…
FILE - In this May, 12, 2015, file photo, Singapore teen blogger Amos Yee speaks to reporters while leaving the Subordinate Courts after being released on bail in Singapore. An immigration judge in Chicago has granted asylum to Amos Yee…