Entries Tagged 'SF City Council' ↓

Mayor Huether really doesn’t understand the city’s relationship with the two sharing counties


“I only attend the important meetings. Now who wants a banana?”

Well you have to laugh when Minnehaha County Commissioner, Jeff Barth says this;

A few of the county commissioners say they cannot remember the last time a sitting mayor spoke at one of their meetings.

He actually went on to say it has been NINE years since they have seen a sitting mayor of Sioux Falls at their meeting.

Commissioner Barth also asked the mayor about the growing crime rate in the city.

But that isn’t the only meetings the mayor has been missing out on. During the Sioux Falls city council informational councilors hammered the mayor about his absence at the county/city coffees the city council has each month with Lincoln and Minnehaha county commissioners and Erpenbach asked why the mayor hasn’t attended the joint meetings lately at Carnegie. After he danced around the question for about 2 minutes he told Erpenbach he has a “Busy Schedule”. You know, it’s hard to pencil in a meeting when you are flying all over the state campaigning(?) for governor. Funny how he has time to go to Yankton, the Black Hills and next week to Brookings, but he can’t drive 10 minutes across town to attend an EVENING meeting at Carnegie. Councilor Erickson also reiterated that the mayor needs to attend the meetings and that they have been very productive. Councilor Jamison went as far to tell the mayor he is a “year behind” when it comes to negotiations with the counties about partnerships because he doesn’t attend the meetings. Huether said he has “got his staff on it.” So now the taxpayers are paying staffers to do the Mayor’s job so he can hop scotch around the state. Nice. Maybe if the mayor wants to spend more time campaigning then actually doing his job, someone can teach him how to teleconference using Skype. Let’s face it, he doesn’t attend these meetings because he is not in charge.

The Minnehaha County Commission also wondered if there could be any (financial) partnerships with the city;

Commissioner Jeff Barth hopes the county sees more benefits from whatever partnerships are in the future.

“The fact is that our revenues are growing at 30-percent of the revenues of the city and the state, and yet our responsibilities are increasing at a greater level,” Barth said.

Ironically, Huether talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk. The city could easily give the county a lot more of the kitty by simply cutting them a check for ‘services rendered’. I would much more prefer $24 million dollars of my tax money going to the county for services then purchasing an indoor pool that will only cost us millions each year in operations and maintenance.

Dick Kelly also scrutinizes the city’s use of TIF’s;

Development in the city continues to grow every year, with Huether saying Sioux Falls has doubled its number of TIFs in the last five and a half years. Commissioner Dick Kelly says those impact the county city immediately with sales and property tax dollars.

“We don’t see anything for generally 20 years when that property tax growth comes.  Yet our expenses continue to rise and rise and rise.  I just ask you continue to be very selective in what you do with the TIF programs,” Kelly said.

“You should demand that we scrutinize these TIFs and I will assure you we are,” Huether said.

LOL! We are already past the $500 million mark on building permits for the year and we are setting up to be another record year for them, yet somehow we need TIF’s? Boloney. Developers ask for TIF’s because they can. A great example is when the Lloyd companies asked for a TIF on the School for the Deaf property, then bailed on it when they couldn’t get one, yet another investor came in, didn’t ask for a TIF and has tons of interest in the property from other investors And it’s not like this guy is the wealthiest developer in town, it’s ‘Uncle Bruce’ who owns used car lots. TIF’s are not needed in Sioux Falls, they only have an adverse effect on county and school funding, they need to be eliminated.

Maybe our Mayor would understand the county relationship better if he attended a lot more government meetings instead jumping out of helicopters like he is a monkey.

Sioux Falls City Council does their job, denies casinos

While the planning department and planning commission think they can hand over approvals of permits to the city council on a silver platter, it seems this time around those two departments were not following the rules and just approving the casinos all will-nilly;

But residents argued that under zoning ordinances, alcohol isn’t to be sold within 500 feet of single family housing, even if the casinos are in a commercially zoned area, and that Soberg shouldn’t get a variance.

Councilor Greg Jamison agreed, saying the council shouldn’t stray from the 500-foot standard it established in its Shape Places zoning ordinance. “We set the standards with Shape Places, and we need to commit to that,” Jamison said. “Just the fact that this is close to single-family homes, it just doesn’t fit. It isn’t right.”

So why didn’t the planning department catch this pesky little rule? Or did they think they were going to slip this by the council? While I am not opposed to bars in neighborhoods (they are actually great meeting places) This is NOT a bar where people sit and chat and hang out, this is a telephone booth VL casino where people become zombified in front of a machine. Also, it is too close to a school bus stop. The council did the right thing in denying this request. But will there be any repercussions for the planning department for recommending this be approved?

The irony of the Warren Buffet invitation to the RR Relocation press conference

I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry when I read this;

Heather Hitterdal, communications specialist for the city of Sioux Falls, said Friday that Mayor Mike Huether sent formal invitations to Obama and Buffett, but neither is able to attend because of prior commitments.

As many of you may not know, we have to go back into the way-back machine on this project to explain my fat belly laughter I got from this supposed invitation. First off, this project was initiated by Mayor Munson (who is out of town and will not be in attendance today, I am told). At the time, I liked the idea, we would have been moving most of the tracks out of downtown (isn’t this the real reason we should be supporting the project?) Instead, we are handing over $27 million of pork to the RR. Getting polluted land that we may be able to sell for $2-3 million when it is all said and done, and MORE train traffic in other parts of downtown, including just a few blocks from my house next to Avera where there is another switching/staging yard that will still remain with two tracks still running parallel to the 10 acres we purchased. In other words, for those of us who live, work, and travel downtown, we may be experiencing more headaches just so we can free up 10 acres for a parking lot.

Besides the fact this is an obvious boondoggle for the Railroads, this project has morphed into many different monsters over the course it took. There was a big push to move the project along during the debate over the Events Center location. See, these 10 acres would have made a perfect spot for an Events Center parking lot, and with the contamination, it is probably all it is good for anyway. The idea was simple, build the EC next to Cherapa, move the RR project forward and use the land for parking. We would not have had to deal with selling the land or worried about potential cleanup. The group that was behind Build it Downtown were so adamant about their idea for parking, rumor has it, one of the members was able to arrange a very brief meeting with Warren Buffet in hopes it would move the project along a little faster. The city of Omaha was able to garner such a meeting with Mr. Buffet when they wanted to move some tracks, and Warren said, get-R-done. I’m not sure who was all invited, but I do know that Buffet agreed to the meeting (that never happened) because one of the main players that needed to be at this meeting declined to attend. We will let you speculate who that may be.

Like I said, I know very little about the details, and maybe this is all folklore and such, but if it isn’t, it sure makes the mayor’s invitation ironically funny.

Visually Interesting and amazingly deafening

Speaking of boondoggles, let’s talk siding, you know that stuff clinging to the Events Center for dear life.

For the record, I KNOW NOTHING. I have heard about 4 versions of what is being done, and to tell you the truth, not sure what to think of any of them, so I will keep those conclusions to myself.

The reason I mention the siding (in another ironic move today by the mayor) while everyone will be celebrating the big $27 million dollar pork sandwich to the Railroads today, today is, as I understand, the year anniversary of the city taking over occupancy of the Events Center (or maybe it is tomorrow?). In other words, the hammer on the EC siding mediation needs to come down this week. Like I said, I have many opinions of what should happen (ideally be replaced and paid for by Mortenson) I am clear about one thing; whatever is decided, the public should be told in an open meeting, and the council should vote on a resolution to approve the decision (or not to). At the end of the day, it is really about transparency and the public deserves to know who is responsible for signing off on the siding for our $180 million dollar investment. We’ll see how the administration and Fiddle Faddle play their fiddles on this one.

Should the Sioux Falls City Council reverse it’s position on MMA & Ultimate Fighting ordinance from 2005?

When this ordinance passed in August of 2005, it had this specific writer in it (DOC: ULTIMATE-FIGHTING-ORD)

   (b)   The location of the activity and that the activity is not located in a park or any other city-owned facility;

In other words, none of these events can take place at the Arena, Events Center, Canaries stadium, etc.

Some have been wondering with the Sanford Pentagon hosting quite a few of these events that it may be time to lift the city-owned facility ban.

I really don’t have an opinion on it, except that when this passed it was because the city had concerns about liability. I could care less if a couple of meatheads beat each other up. Some say that it really isn’t ‘fighting’ in the traditional sense because of the martial arts and wrestling attributes to the contest, but every time I have seen an opponent lose, it’s probably because they are getting punched in the face and not because they succumbed to a fireman’s carry. Let’s face it, it’s boxers that are allowed to do flip kicks and roll around on the mat in the first couple of rounds.

Like I said, don’t know what to think of lifting the ban, I guess the only concern I would have is the same one the city council had in 2005, liabilities if someone gets seriously injured or died in a match. Could the city be sued?

Touchmark finally gets the green light from the city council to expand

YouTube Preview Image

We are treated to an unusual Sioux Falls City Council appeal process held on August 18, 2015. The meeting concluded the Touchmark at All Saints expansion plans rejected by the Board of Historic Preservation. Touchmark has gone back to the drawing board several times attempting to design a complimentary building addition only to be refused by the historic preservationists this year.

It took them almost 18 months of wrangling with the neighbors and the boards to get to this point. Ironically, only one neighbor came in opposition, and she just doesn’t like the color pink. This seems to be politically motivated.

While the current Phase 1 and Phase 2 pink stucco look is becoming a bit dated and tired, the latest designs may in the end be a welcome look. It appears Touchmark has taken the concerns of many of the neighbors and townspeople into consideration with the current plans.

The City Council had to become what’s called a quasi-judicial body to hear the appeal being presented. Items 48, 49 and 50 are the steps necessary to process the Board of Historic Preservation appeal.

Asst. City Attorney Danny Brown guides the Mayor and Council through the processes required to meet state law. The City Council became an appeals court chamber to hand down this type of judicial decision.

Item #48 is the hearing of the steps taken to this point, neighbor’s issues and filed plans. We were treated to some names and faces from Sioux Falls past bringing back some history to not forget. It was good to remember how bad the complex was before Waterford / Touchmark bought the place.

Item #49 is motion necessary to approve the project as stated in appeal.

Item #50 authorizes the City Attorney to file and post the Council’s decision.

Betty Best would be happy Touchmark has saved the complex and is expanding it’s footprint for the future.

Rainbow of Dots, SF City Council Public Input, August 18, 2015

YouTube Preview Image

Tuesday would be a good night to be conveniently sick if you are a Sioux Falls city councilor

The council meeting is jampacked with several controversial items that may be debated, this could possibly be one of the longest city council meetings in years. Ironically it may be over quick to (Dr. Staggers will be absent :) Of course you won’t be able to watch it unless you have an old PC with internet Explorer, all others be scorned.

A listing of the more interesting items;

#1, Approval of Contracts. Apparently the Falls Overlook Cafe needs some erosion control for a cost of over $100K. Would be nice to pull this out of the consent agenda so our consultant happy engineering department could explain what this was for.

Also we are handing over a nice check of $275K to the Development Foundation like we do every year, but who has time to explain what they will do with the money? Just hide it in the consent agenda.

#26, Someone owes the city over $31K in occupancy taxes, but who is it? You could read all the documents until you are blue in the face and you won’t figure it out. It’s actually the EconoLodge, but no where in the pending documents will you see it. I find it ironic when a business is filing for a re-zoning or owes the city money, they try their best to hide the person behind it. But if Grandma Jones owes the city $23 for tree trimming, you will be sure to see her name with the address. So much for transparency.

#27, The city council will just finish their budget hearings at 3 PM, and turnaround at 7 PM right away propose a resolution to approve the budget, and you can read the almost $500,000 million dollar budget on this handy two-page PDF in 4 point type (DOC: City-Budget-2015). I think this is just to set a hearing date.

#34, they finally get back to talking about tax increases when you are talking about tax increases. I wonder if a week was long enough for the city attorney’s office to pull their heads out and help the council write resolutions. It sure would be handy if the city clerk was also an attorney, oh wait, they had one of those and they fired her because ‘she knew to much’.

#35, The city council wants a $365K splash pad at Spellerberg to compliment the indoor aquatic center. You could build a small outdoor pool for that.

#43, 1st reading for the proposed changes to the billboard zoning limitations. The 500 feet away from sensitive use stayed in the ordinance even though Shawna Goldhammer tried to slip it out. Luckily some savvy citizens showed up to make sure it stayed in the proposed changes. The city council could fiddle with it at 2nd reading, but I would suggest they leave it as is.

#46, So now we are signing ‘Pre-Annexing agreements’. Funny when someone is making a load of cash from selling land these kind of ‘contracts’ with the city appear, but when a big box store screws over an entire neighborhood it is done in the dark.

#48-49, All Saints has to go to the City Council to beg for approval to build on THEIR OWN PROPERTY. It’s not like they are asking for a street vacation or to put a big box store in the middle of a historic neighborhood, get this, all they want to do is expand their facility, and while they are at it add more trees and landscaping to the corner of 18th and Phillips. But the All Saints neighborhood ain’t having it. How dare these people living in assisted living think they can have therapy facilities ON campus! They should have to continue to be bussed over to Sanford or Avera. These citizens fighting this need to get over themselves. It will actually improve the neighborhood and make the ‘Gorky Park’ creepy grove of trees that exist there now go away.

#50, I believe is in reference to #34 if the council approves it.

So grab your back rest, pillow, and a cold beverage, it is going to be a long Tuesday night.

Billion Street Vacation Video

Citizens 4 Integrity put together a handy video of the street vacation hearing.

Hotter than a Pepper Sprout

Holy Moly, that was fast;

The next Sioux Falls Police Chief will be Lt. Matt Burns.

Mayor Mike Huether named Burns to take over the department once current Chief Doug Barthel retires.  Barthel announced last week that he will retire in October.

Burns is a 19-year veteran of the Sioux Falls Police Department.  He was promoted to assistant police chief earlier in the year.

Huether hopes that Burns will be able to work closely with Barthel in the coming months and learn what he can from the outgoing chief.

The city council must approve of the nomination.

Just a few months ago, Matt was promoted to Assistant Chief, now just a week after Barthel’s retirement announcement, Matt is promoted again. And as I understand it, the city council wasn’t told about the promotion until minutes before the 10:30 police briefing today where it was announced.

Well it seems like most things ‘Huether’ another decision ram-rodded through? But it also makes you wonder if this has been in the works for months? Nothing against Matt, I’m sure he will do a fine job, but some may be wondering why not a national search? Especially with crime soaring over the past week (ironically since Barthel’s announcement where the mayor accused ‘naysayers’ of blowing the crime growth out of proportion) we have had stabbings, shootings, a physical attack, widespread vandalism, and home invasions (in almost every zone of the city). Seems Matt may have his work cut out for him.

Once again though, the mayor denies transparency to his legislative branch and ram rods something through. Screw the naysayers.

Sioux Falls City Council Public input, 8/11/2015

YouTube Preview Image

Below is the final page of the written comments by Greg N. that he ran out of time for during our ‘TIMED’ public testimony (see the entire comments here: GregInput8-11-2015 )

Summary, Questions, and Concerns

This is NOT about this particular application, it’s about the PROCESS

In my opinion this hearing in no way fulfilled substantive due process

How are citizens going to have a voice if staff misrepresents the clear language of the code?

I am not a lawyer, but I can read, and the code is CLEAR and UNAMBIGUOUS

What is the point of a conditional use permit hearing if the governing body is told they cannot deny it and they are severely restricted in what they can consider and condition – both of which are found nowhere in the code!

Staff commentary is a personal opinion, directly contradicts the code, and is not appropriate for consideration

Due Process ONLY exists if citizens have a SUBSTANTIVE opportunity for input and a FAIR hearing

How can a hearing satisfy due process when staff, who guides the governing body, misrepresents the powers and duties of the commission?

If staff wants to force the Planning Commission (and City Council) to grant every conditional use permit, they should bring the ordinance forward

Similarly, if staff wants to force the PC and CC to restrict its considerations and conditions to a list of specific items for a use, bring the ordinance forward

All citizens should be very concerned if this is the direction staff is giving to the Planning Commission

Under these arbitrary rules, the deck is stacked, and the conditional use permit hearing essentially serves no purpose