Theresa will be talking about her possible petition drive to stop the city from dictating how much landscaping can be in your boulevard. Tree trimming may also be attached to the petition (The city will work in partnership with citizens to trim the boulevard trees, instead of doing it and charging/fining citizens).
While Sioux Falls has had much success in many areas, it isn’t ALL because of city government. The Healthcare & Credit Card industry kind of run themselves, and rely more on state regulations and laws then city ordinance, unless they are tearing up neighborhoods for expansion.
As for development, the big developers are doing well, mostly because they get massive tax breaks through TIFs approved by a city council that receives thousands of dollars in campaign donations from those big developers and a Mayor who is let in on local development investments. It also doesn’t hurt they have the Planning and Building departments wrapped around their fingers. It also doesn’t hurt that since the laws have changed on home buying, many in Sioux Falls can’t afford to buy a home, so apartments are becoming even more popular, and developers are cashing in, and can’t build them fast enough.
As for city government ‘getting things done’ I have joked with many that dictators are pretty good at ‘getting things done’ in a short period of time ‘snark’. But the Home Rule Charter pretty much gives the mayor the power to sidestep the council and he has. He has bragged about his ‘collaboration’ with the council. That one made me literally LMAO. He has hidden information from the council as much as possible. In fact last year, he gave his budget to the council 7 minutes before his budget address to the public. Many times his agenda item PDFs are not listed on SIRE (online agenda software) until right before the presentation (EC updates for example).
It also doesn’t hurt that the city is flush with tax money and consistently raises fees and property taxes every year whether they need to or not. And who can forget about all the borrowing the city has done. We are $400 million in debt. Most of the debt the mayor has incurred was for entertainment facilities, including an indoor tennis facility that he has the audacity to put his name on.
The mayor also appoints the Ethics Commission and their advising attorney, the city attorney. This commission’s job is to look into whether the mayor is being ethical or not. That concept is laughable in itself. It would be like your boss asking you if you thought he was a nice guy. Guess what your answer would be? It also doesn’t hurt that you use the same advising attorney to defend you in an ethics hearing. It would be like playing Poker against yourself. Every hand is a winner. Remember, South Dakota is in the top ten as one of the most ‘corrupt states’ when it comes to government, and Sioux Falls’ ethics commission is certainly contributing to that corruption.
As for ‘good jobs’ and ‘low unemployment’, those statements in themselves don’t mean squat when you consider that over half of workers in Sioux Falls don’t make a living wage and many have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. South Dakota is #1 in working mothers in the Nation. Almost half of school children in the district get free or reduced lunches and our food banks can’t keep up and have been expanding over the past 3 years. Wondering how CNN missed that in their research?
Has Sioux Falls been successful on many levels? Yes. The rich have recovered very well from the economic downturn, mostly because the Sioux Falls residents they employ are hard workers with high productivity. But I wouldn’t exactly credit the mayor and his rubberstamp council for those successes. But like I said earlier, when you are King there isn’t anything you can’t accomplish.
Boy, they really did it this time over at KELO-TV. In a story about affordable housing, they put a direct link to Lloyd Companies website to apply for an apartment. Now if Lloyd is paying for the link, fine, but this story borders more on advertising then the need for affordable housing.
Seems the Sales team and the News team have their morning meetings together.
Like I said, I am not going to talk about the indoor pool anymore. The public wants one, so we are building one.
I actually attended the press conference today because I was curious about the announcement. Turns out that the group ‘Veterans for the VA’ will be donating money towards the therapy pool (that is ‘IF’ the pool gets built at Spellerberg – there are still serious discussions about the VA’s rights to the park, especially in light of the recent shakeups at the VA on a National level and NO clear legal document agreement between the city and the VA).
What I found interesting about the small crowd at the PC today (at 11 AM) at Spellerberg Park was besides the 6-7 media personnel there was approximately 8 city managers/directors at the PC with the mayor. (there was about 3 private citizens that support the indoor pool, a Parks Board member and about 8 people from the SAVE Spellerberg group)
I often scratch my head when the mayor and city directors/managers talk about how they are ‘too busy’ to attend certain (ethics) meetings or to talk with the public. But somehow the Mayor and 8 city directors/managers had time to attend a PC that was about a small donation from a Veterans group.
What a waste of tax dollars and public resources (employees).
Wendy McDonnel, petition circulator, will be on Viewpoint University today (Good Friday) Around 5:30(?).
The Sioux Falls School Board has voted on the school calendar for the next three years. Some folks are not happy with the results and are circulating petitions on the subject. Wendy McDonnel will tell us why they don’t like the calendar and what they want to put in its place.
Viewpoint University from 4-7 today on this website and 1140 KSOO.
In the wee hours of Tuesday night, I will be starting a long overdue blog break. South DaCola will remain up, but commenting will be turned off to prepare for changes. Not sure what the new format of DaCola will be, but a (small) team of South DaCola foot soldiers and associates have been weighing our options. I can tell you this, it will no longer be a bitch session but a proactive community activism website and news source (what many don’t realize is the activism my site inspires that doesn’t grace the pages of the interwebs, they are numerous, and often). Not sure how long this transition will take, but I am guessing about a month. Some of the things we will be doing will be definitely ground breaking and ‘different’ to the Sioux Falls market (yes, I will be selling advertising), and different then any traditional media source that currently exists in the Greatest Little City in the country. I am looking forward to it, but I am also looking forward to the break from my tireless obsession with city government.
While I volunteer my activism on this site, it hasn’t always been ‘fun’. I have lost sleep and good friends over it, and the friends that still talk to me, don’t do it as often. It’s been rough emotionally for me, because my personal (recreational) life is almost nonexistent, and if that is going to change, for the better, I need to make this transition. It’s time I get back to things I enjoy, like BBQ’in with my friends, bike riding, firepits and camping, playing yard games, painting and going to live music shows and dancing with the ladies (love dancing with the ladies). Stuff that has almost dwindled to nothing, especially over the past four years.
There has been some positives though, and I am grateful for them every day. I have met some pretty amazing people in our community on this journey, who have made me laugh, made me cry, and pulled the inner fight out of me. Candidates, citizen advocates, city & county employees, elected city and county officials, attorneys, campaign consultants and a whole host of other citizens disenfranchised by city government that have a legitimate beef and axe to grind. They are fantastic, intelligent, thoughtful, fascinating people that are not apathetic or ignorant and have hearts the size of the T Denny Sanford Premier Center. I love the NEW friendships I have attained. Some of these people will probably be my friends for a very, very long time, and I love it (a lot of them like to dance also
This is the most important city election this city has ever had since I moved here in 1991. Ballot issues on quality of life, public services, home owner property rights, etc. I have been diligent and obsessive for a reason, maybe it’s the bleeding heart Liberal in me that just wants to see fairness for EVERYONE from government, especially on a local level. Transparency and anti-censorship are my two biggest issues. I have often had the belief that democracies can only be fair to the citizenry if that citizenry is informed. Ethical and open government is tantamount to a vibrant and strong local government, unfortunately, that has not happened over the last 8-10 years in Sioux Falls (Huether and Erpenbach have been public enemy #1 in this arena). I’ve seen good people chopped down, I’ve watched public employees terminated and publicly disgraced unfairly, I have seen citizens put through the wringer and watched the very people we elect allow it to happen, with no remorse. As the chair to ‘Citizens for Integrity’ said the other night about the ballot language at the city council meeting, “It’s bad!”
We can however make a change on Tuesday, remember to VOTE at any vote center and VOTE for a change and progress;
Ballot Measures: YES on the first Five, No on the last Two!
In closing; I have become familiar with defeat and victory in municipal elections, but the voters are the ultimate deciders, and while I will not be able to personally accept some of their decisions on Tuesday, I can deal with it, move on, and work with the positive results of that night. I hate to sound like a candidate, but I Love Sioux Falls, it took me a long time to get to that point, but I think we have so many things we can improve on. I think we can do that no matter the results Tuesday night, and I hope the NEW DaCola will be a part of that.