Entries Tagged 'Minnehaha County' ↓

Citizens for Integrity Statement

By Bruce Danielson

Citizens for Integrity is a good government mission. Spending a life fighting battles for equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunities for all forms a compass to move forward in the darkness of greed.

Citizens for Integrity is not a NIMBY project. Many of those who have come together in this effort do not live close to any of the neighborhoods in question. We have nothing to personally / financially gain from these issues. My personally work will never intersect with any of the parties to these issues.

There are those who criticize what we are doing in order to expedite the ability to get a construction bid or some other favor.

The goal of Citizens for Integrity is only good government. The Ballot is Sacred. How hard is it to understand?

Just imagine any of you were running for election, supporting a measure to say make green the new purple, you would want to make sure every vote counts. You would wish the ballot reflected the hard work you put in to get the Initiative on the ballot so your neighbors could vote on it.

We have processes in place to make it happen. We have problems with the current cobbled up mess our city government is showing. We have a mayor who has shown no bounds for breaking long established customs and rules. He has fired (or arranged for) quality personnel, appointed replacements to do his work and then gets upset when someone finds out what is going on.

We are pointing to problems with an election and the system. The leaders of the four petition efforts are not driving this effort, I am.

This is not a NIMBY effort, this is a moral and legal effort. When will you get off your computers and fight for something good on behalf of your least able neighbors in the name of good government? If you sit at your computers and complain all day, you are doing nothing to improve the system for all of us.

So to those who only want building projects so they can sell materials to it, sell land, have their kids going swimming or sneak a special code into a big complicated document, we are sorry for you. You have lost the value of our system and ways. This is not a greed movement, this is a good government movement.

The next few days will tell a lot about our system and the way we move into the future. Hang on, it could be a bumpy ride.

SIDENOTE (Detroit Lewis): I watched the Minnehaha County Commission meeting it shows why the County Commission differs from the City Council. Bruce receives praise from the commission for finding errors and asking them to get resolved and even the county auditor, Litz attests to Bruce’s diligence. Walk over to Carnegie Town hall, and all he receives is scorn for finding mistakes. The tale of two cities I guess.

And now onto the Council meeting. Crickets. No explanations, no apologies, no remorse.

Is there Competitive Bids in the county and city?

This is something I have been suspicious about ever since the middle-of-the-night 100% cost overrun on the Phillips to the Falls project, and the $200,000 lower secondary bid for the Pavilion windows (VIDEO);

Hoyer said his question was grounded simply in a desire to see consistency in the bidding process.

“I would have made the same statement for concrete pipe,” a product not offered by his company, he said. Bidding instructions uniformly call for bid guarantees, he said, and if the county wants to waive them, “let’s not make some of us jump through the hoops and others not.”

Buthe, however, took the question as a sign of discord between the county and Myrl & Roy’s. When he became superintendent three years ago, Buthe said he found the county’s practice was to accept a low bid for asphalt and then to purchase from both Concrete Materials and Myrl & Roy’s at that price.

“My interpretation was that is not a legal way to do business,” Buthe said. He brought the matter to the deputy state’s attorney at the time, Gordy Swanson, who agreed.

“We decided the following year we would only award to the lowest bidder,” Buthe said. That was Concrete Materials. “There was some severe backlash” from Myrl & Roy’s, he added.

Since then, Myrl & Roy’s has not supplied the county. Last year, the county piggybacked on the city of Sioux Falls contract to buy asphalt from Concrete Materials because its plant was closer to where the county was doing highway work, and the savings in transportation costs exceeded the difference in Myrl & Roy’s slightly lower bid.

“That made them angry,” Buthe said.

Makes you wonder how often this happens with the city and county? Giving a bid to the ‘Preferred Contractor’ compared to the ‘lowest bidder’? Or just tweaking the RFP so that only one contractor can bid it. Would love to see the amount of tax dollars that are wasted on these types of ‘deals’.

How has Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz’s attendance been?


I can’t speak for Mr. Litz, because I don’t work in the county administration office. But several people who do, say that they don’t see much ‘office time’ by Mr. Litz. There are plans for the auditor’s office to hire another employee. I can’t find the specifics of that position, but I was told that it was a ‘finance’ manager.

Now, I am not going to rail on Litz about perfect attendance, because I don’t know all the details (but if someone does, please forward it to me) but I would like to give some advice;

1) When you are you are an elected official who manages a very important department for the county, my advice would to at least put in 40 hours a week in that office. With the long lines in the department across the hall from you, can you imagine if our county treasurer didn’t show up very often? You would have a VERY irate public.

2) Why are we considering hiring another manager for the auditor’s office when we can’t get it’s head honcho to show up?

If his attendance is an issue, Mr. Litz needs to realize that this isn’t like his private business, he works for the taxpayers now. Show up. Work. Thank You.

I would also like to give a H/T to the county for posting their meeting videos online. Not sure how long they have been doing this, but I have been doing catchup. The videos are a little grainy, but the audio is perfect, and unlike SIRE, when you push play, the meeting starts immediately. BRAVO!

DEM Candidate Corinna Robinson IS running for the US Congress


I have been noticing several reader comments on media websites (that I assume are plants by Republicant’s trying to dis-credit Robinson’s campaign). So I set the record straight tonight while attending a Minnehaha County Democratic fundraiser at the Falls Overlook Cafe. Sorry, I am a little hazy, I had a couple of glasses of Moscato at the event (and I thought they only served kool-aid at Republican events, my bad).

I asked Corinna if she was running (after telling her the rumors swirling around). She said definately, in fact she already has a West River and an East River director working for her (I met the East River fella tonight) and she plans to make the big announcement in January sometime.

So detractors, knock it off already.

While I am not sure if I am totally sold on Corinna, I will say that the BS smear campaign on her is uncalled for. We know the real reason the SD GOP is swinging low and early, because when you match Corinna’s credentials with Noem’s, Noem’s campaign is quickly distracting the electorate with Mitchell hair, barrel roping stories, hoop earrings and mail order college degrees. If Noem is dumb enough to debate Robinson, Corinna will pound her into submission, I can’t wait for this matchup.

Other highlights of the event was meeting Democratic Candidate for Governor, Joe Lowe.


I am usually hard to impress when I first meet a political candidate, but not only is Joe intelligent, and has great economic, public safety, and leadership skills, he is very funny, incredibly funny. He shared many personal ‘war stories’ with GP and I about his employment with the state.

Rick Weiland also talked about the benefits of a buy-in to Medicare being offered to all citizens (woot-woot).

In other news, county commissioner Jeff Barth confessed to me he is NOT running for mayor.

And a chuckle for the night, I was looking for Mayor Huether to be at the event tonight. Not only Minnehaha county’s most powerful Democrat but the state’s most powerful Democrat, according to some peeps (sorry Bernie Hunhoff). But he was a no show. I didn’t ask anyone about it, but was offered the information from an attendee. I guess he didn’t attend because he believes the Jamison campaign has a ‘tracker’ on him. Luckily I wasn’t drinking my Moscato Kool-aid, because the person telling me would have been splattered with it. I do know that in Huether’s final ‘Listening and Learning’ session before the election that someone was doing an audio recording of the session, like it matters because you can listen to it here. But if that is what Paranoid Mike considers a tracker, I want to tell him there are bigger turds and tracks in the forrest to worry about.

And the final word on Jarding, get ready for this, No one knows what the heck he is running for. He is scheduled to teach classes next Spring at Harvard, so many are puzzled as to what he is up to.

The Value of TIF’s in Minnehaha County

Commissioner Jeff Barth sent this information to me from the county’s equalization office;

The combined worth of TIF’s in Minnehaha County is $91,326,856.  Of this number the base value (Number that is taxed and distributed to all entities) of $28,861,936 is subtracted from the total leaving $62,464,928 that is considered increment value and is taxed and used to pay off the Increment Districts.  I can show you individual projects if needed.  TIF’s are in the County, Sioux Falls City, Brandon City and Dell Rapids City.

With low unemployment comes more homeless

Sioux Falls/Minnehaha county saw an almost 30% increase in homeless in one year;

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.


So are the county’s tax valuations accurate and fair?

Interesting that we were just talking about this the other day on the blog, and our ever increasing property taxes. But this puts a new twist on it;

A lawsuit rising from a disputed property tax assessment involving Minnehaha County could set a troublesome precedent, county officials say.

Hutchinson Technology is suing the county, claiming the sale of a 300,000-square foot building to Sanford Health in 2009 showed the county greatly overvalued the building for tax purposes. The site at 2301 E. 60th St. had been the Hutchinson Technology campus. Sanford acquired it to be its research headquarters.

The most recent assessed valuation before the sale was $18.6 million. But Hutchinson Technology sold the site to Sanford for $12 million. Now Hutchinson Technology is challenging tax assessments from as far back as 2005 and possibly to 2001, according to Kersten Kappmeyer, Minnehaha County state’s attorney chief civil deputy.

Make no mistake, I have often thought state and local governments are greedy when it comes to taxing individuals, nickel and diming us on higher utility rates and fees. Continuing opt-outs for crime prevention and punishment (when changing state laws for non-violent drug offenders would fix the problem) while handing out TIF’s to the big boys and not taxing profits of corporations.

If the County loses this lawsuit, the ripple affect could be devastating, for their coffers anyway.

Why TIF’s are hurting us . . .

This quote from County Commissioner, John Pekas, pretty much sums it up;

“We are the constant underfunded entity in the state of South Dakota,” Pekas said. “This is the perfect poetic situation. The state has a surplus, the city has a surplus and we are out of money.”

I have often felt that there should be a shift in property tax dollars towards the county, I have also felt that the School Board, the County Commission and City Council should all have to approve a TIF with a 60% majority.

Trust me, if the law changed to allow this kind of approval process, no more TIF’s would be approved, and ironically, development would continue.

Property Tax increases


A friend dropped off a print out of her property tax increases since 2009 to me yesterday.

Since 2009 she has done little to no improvements to her property. In fact this past year, the city had to tear up her boulevard for water issues and remove a tree due to the icestorm.

Her home has not increased in value since 2009. It is valued at $96,000 by the county.

From 2009-2010 her taxes increased $4

From 2010-2011 her taxes increased $3

From 2011-2012 her taxes increased $70

I suppose the sudden bump has to do with the county & school district opt-outs.

The part that is disconcerting is that while the city is handing out property tax cut incentives to wealthy developers, we are sticking it to the little guy to help pay for the needs of the county, city and school district.

If we feel like we need to continue these kind of increases, fine. But let’s eliminate TIF’s and have a triple approval process with the county and school district.

Mayor Huether’s Diamond Lake home

I wanted to post about the mayor’s lake home because it is a question I get quite often. There seems to be some confusion on how he attained the property, and as far as I can tell, has the only lake front property (there is a farm on the other side of the lake adjacent to it).

Okay, I can’t see that the mayor attained the property in any sort of nefarious way, this from the SD GFP;

Ownership of Lake and Adjacent Lakeshore Properties
Diamond Lake is listed as meandered public water in the State of South Dakota Listing of Meandered Lakes. Game, Fish, and Parks (GFP) owns the majority of the lake basin as a Game Production Area and manages the fishery. The remainder of the shoreline is privately owned.
As you can see from the Google map images (2012) a special road had to be built to the home. I know many people who fish on that lake, and have witnessed the mayor having ‘get togethers’ at it.
While I commend anybody who is successful to build lake homes, it befuddles me that he would want to have the only home on the lake and when does he find time to stay at it? (it is located in Minnehaha county in rural Colton).
So just for the record, as far as I can tell, it’s his place, free and clear. Just trying to dispel any rumors.