Entries Tagged 'SF City Council' ↓

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Jan 22, 2019

Informational Meeting, 4 PM (Carnegie Town Hall – SF)

Storm Drainage overview presentation

Lincoln County Joint Meeting, 7 PM (Commission Chambers, Canton)

Rezone of Ag Land to Commercial Property, more SPRAWL in Lincoln County.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls Chief of Staff for TenHaken makes $161K a year

While I’m still waiting for the 2019 salary report to come out, I have some ‘early’ returns.

COS Erica Beck’s salary is $161K + $28K in benefits.

In comparison, Mayor TenHaken’s salary is $128K + $42K in benefits (Salary is controlled by ordinance and not performance or education).

Also, City Councilor’s yearly salary is $19K plus $200 month stipend for gas and phone. They are ineligible for retirement or healthcare benefits even though other cities and counties across the state allow it.

Like I said, once I get the full salary report, I will have more names to add.

I have often felt that NONE of the Mayor’s ‘support staff’ should get paid more than him. For example, when looking at the 2018 salaries, the former mayor’s secretary (who is still with the city) was getting $63K + Benefits and his communications manager was getting $75K + Benefits. Also, the Operations manager for the city council will make around $100K this year, and he has to support 8 people instead of just one.

I also find it a bit ironic when you see these corporate like pay scales in public service (government is not like private business).

Just read this story when you want to have comparable wages in the private sector in SD;

The News Watch analysis of 2017 wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics within the U.S. Department of Labor showed that:

  • Roughly 21 percent of employed South Dakota residents, about 87,000 people, make under $30,000 a year; 41 percent of employed South Dakota residents, about 169,400 people, make under $35,000 a year, and 71 percent of employed South Dakota residents, about 292,000 people, make under $40,000 a year.
  • Out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, South Dakota is third lowest in average annual pay at $40,770, with the national average at $55,470. The state is also at or near the bottom nationally for average pay in several occupational sectors, including office and administrative support (51st), architecture/engineering (51st), education (50th), production workers (50th), life/physical/social sciences (50th), construction and extraction (50th), arts/design/sports/media (50th), computer and mathematical (49th), community and social services (48th), legal (47th), transportation and materials movement (45th), community and social services (47th) and business and financial operations (44th).
  • While doctors, medical specialists, dentists and CEOs are among the highest paid, the support staffs that work for them are among the lowest paid.

Isn’t it sad that about 71% of employed people in SD make under $40K a year and the mayor’s COS makes 4X that in the public sector. What is even more troubling is that TenHaken calls himself a fiscal conservative because he is of Dutch decent, yet pays corporate like wages on the taxpayer’s dime. I guess he is only conservative when it comes to HIS money, not ours.

I also find it a bit ironic that this story has been long overdue, and where did it come from? The local MSM? The AP? Maybe PBS? Nope. From a Non-Profit online news organization.

Sioux Falls City Council Meeting, Jan 15, 2019

Wednesday Tidbits; New Planning Director, Taxes, Drones & Ice Cream

PLANNING on . . . .?

So there has been some talk about who will replace Mike Cooper? First off, the rumor going around city officials is he was asked to retire a year before he planned on. I guess the only person to know would be Mike, oh and Erica, Paul and maybe TJ.

People are telling me that my prediction of Erica Beck being the new planning director is a little off and that she is perfectly happy being COS. And why not? She pretty much is running the city while the Deputy T.J. TypeOver is doing all of the Mayor’s dirty work.

An unusual name came up though, Jeff Schmidt, who suddenly disappeared after the joint jurisdiction debacle. The rumor going around is that he is preparing to take the reins. Talking to other city officials and councilors I get the same, “It’s a possibility.” But when I ask councilors if he could get confirmed, there seems to be some doubt.

I guess we will have to wait and see. Hopefully he will get a new office without urine stained walls.

DRONE ENFORCEMENT, IT’S ANYONE’S GUESS

Last night councilor Stehly with the support of councilors Brekke and Starr tried to defer repealing the drone ordinance, TWICE, and were shot down. Ultimately the entire council did repeal it (Soehl was AWOL). So why the deferral? Stehly said she attempted to contact the FAA but was unsuccessful because a majority of the agency is furloughed. She wanted them to testify or at least provide some information about who will be responsible for enforcing the Federal regulations, and thought it was a good idea to defer it a couple of weeks so we can hear from them. She was pretty much told by council chair Erickson that she should have done the research in advance. Other councilors just assumed with the city attorney that the SFPD would have to enforce the regs, but really no one knew.

And they wondered why Stehly wanted a deferral? They must have had axe throwing on their minds.

PROPERTY TAX REDUCTION

Last night when the topic of the property tax reduction came up, councilor Neitzert got very irate and said that the applicants met the criteria they were supposed to and that is why they got the reductions.

LINK TO APPLICATION

While I have NO doubt that is true (well, I do have some doubts), this isn’t about the applicants, this is about who granted the tax reductions, and it certainly wasn’t done with the blessing of the council. More to come on this.

WE ALL SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM

I guess the only one to bid on taking over the Falls Overlook Cafe was Stensland Dairy. That was easy.

UPDATE: My 5G presentation to Sioux Falls City Council

5G Rollout Fiasco in Sioux Falls

My testimony last night was based on FACTS I gathered over researching 5G over past weekend.

• No testimony from the FCC or Telecom industry on Health Affects of 5G. FCC currently shutdown. The contract should have been deferred until a representative from the FCC could testify.

• No public hearings. It is illegal for a private corporation to use public utility poles without a period of public comment. While the FCC rules were changed so health affects couldn’t be used as a reason to deny a permit, there are many other arguments (property values, visual affects, etc.). Isn’t it interesting the FCC took out ‘Health Affects’ for grounds of denial. Other communities have had success with 200 FT setbacks from buildings, banning them in residential areas and charging a YEARLY application and inspection fee.

• Extreme intimidation used on City Councilors about potential ‘lawsuits’ if they don’t vote for contract. Intimidation used by Mayor TenHaken, City Attorneys Kooistra and Bengford, and Deputy COS T.J. TypoOver on citizens claiming it is a ‘Done Deal’. It is not, contract still hasn’t been ratified, there is a waiting period. Houston, TX rollout was conducted in the EXACT same manner. It seems the Telecoms are using the same playbook across the country.

• What are citizens rights when it comes to how user data will be used by the Telecoms? The ACLU of California is currently looking into it. We had NO testimony from Verizon on how the data will be used.

• Senator John Thune who chairs the committee on telecoms received almost $1 million in donations from the telecom industry. Follow the money. (Thune’s personal net worth is $5 Million). How does someone get that wealthy working in public service most of their life? Must have went to the Bill Janklow school of investment or Kimberly has one heckuva part-time job.

• What are the health affects of radiation from 5G? Countries like Israel and China have strict regulations on cell phone radiation. The World Health Organization has issued extreme warnings about cell/wi-fi radiation. World famous Oncologist (Cancer Doctor) Devra Davis is leading a grassroots effort to warn the public about 5G. Davis is well known for leading the effort to ban smoking in commercial airplanes. Not some kooky conspiracy theorist trying to find Obama’s birth certificate. In the UK the telecom industry tried to put a GAG order on a citizen advocate after he called them ‘Baby Killers’, a judge threw it out of court saying he had a right to make the accusation due to empirical evidence and the industry had to prove otherwise. It seems now the telecoms are trying to stifle free speech in democratic nations.

This must be stopped, the contract must be voided! This is a BAD example of how to run government in a transparent manner. We have home rule rights. While we can’t fight this on health effects, we do have other means to stop it.

BOONDOGGLE!

 

What is the ‘Real Cost’ of the proposed thermal chiller not working at the City Admin building?

Fast Forward to 47:00

Notice Director Cotter talking about how the system is malfunctioning because of the high level of minerals in the water . . . then he says that the water then has to be discharged in the the sanitary sewer (this was going on during the summer and not now).

How does this tie to the capacity of the current water reclamation plant?

Rough estimates from doing engineering research is that if this system is running at full capacity during the summer (pumping cool water) and not simply discharging the warm water back into the well, as intended (but back into the sanitary sewer) it would be approximately discharging 300 gallons a minute, which equates to about 14,000 homes in Sioux Falls a day.

I wonder why we need a new sewer plant?

 

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda • Jan 15, 2019

Visual Arts Commission Meeting, 9 AM, City Center

They will finally get a presentation on the City Hall art exhibit from the SF Arts council (after the fact)

READ ENTIRE AGENDA: 20190115-vac-agenda

City Council Informational, 4 PM

We are finally getting an update on the Village on the River Project (maybe they will tell us where they are hiding the liquor license?)

We are also getting a presentation on the council’s trip the National League of Cities conference in LA. It will be followed by a slideshow by Councilor Selberg of pictures he took in LA in front of exotic cars.

City Council Regular Meeting, 7 PM

Item #28, 2nd Reading, Ordinance to eliminate city drone regulations (FAA has it’s own regs). Like 5G, it seems the Feds have a say in this matter. While I understand the FAA controlling airspace, who protects our privacy on the ground? Also, if there no longer is city drone regs, who will enforce the FAA regs? Who do you call if you see a violation? Good question. Will our local police be mandated to enforce FEDERAL regs?

Item #36, 1st Reading, Ordinance to restructure the Audit Committee. Here’s a concept, why don’t we hire some permanent people and get the department functioning again at full capacity.

Item #43, Resolution, Authorize using a Construction Manager at Risk for new Water Reclamation Expansion. Interesting the city is authorizing the use of CMAR, and lining up Bond Counsel, yet we have hired NO ONE to actually build the place.

Item #44, Resolution, Revisiting the street vacation for Lifescape in the VA neighborhood. I found this line interesting;

Testimony in support of said petition has been heard, and no opposition hereto was voiced.

Is the neighborhood aware they are trying to sneak this back in?

Property tax reduction program ‘Questionable’

The more we look into the property tax reductions over the past ten years, the more questions we have. While we are still researching this, some things that stick out so far;

DOC: Historical – Tax Reduction Program.pdf

Tax Reduction Program – Informational Jan. 8.pdf

How was the mayor(s) (Munson & Huether) able to sign off on these, through the Planning Department without the review of the city council? Or even the County Commissions and School District? Were there any state laws violated?

One of the biggest recipients was involved in many LLC’s and ownership groups related to Legacy Development. Ironically one of the persons who would have known about the reductions, Daren Ketchum, now works for Legacy.

Many of the recipients are long time established, successful Sioux Falls businesses, like Raven & Gage brothers. Why would they need tax incentives?

Some of the recipients also received TIFs on top of the reduction, for example Washington Square.

Ironically Midco received a 2018 reduction of $129K. This is just a year after announcing a sponsorship of our Aquatic Center.

Did the TenHaken administration decide to blow the lid off of this to 1) wash there hands of the practice and 2) to see if the media will do some digging around? COS Erica Beck worked in the Planning office when some of these reductions were handed out.

Like I said, we are still researching the ‘many’ connections between the reduction recipients and the previous administration and will have more findings coming soon.

2019 Petition ‘Wish List’

As I mentioned in my 2019 predictions, I would like to see several petitions taken out this year. I feel if a citizen ran committee is put together we can write several petitions at once, and circulate them all at the same time to cut down on the circulation work. This of course is my ‘Dream List’. Not sure if the right amount of sigs could be gathered and if so, people would vote for them;

  1. Major Changes to the Home Rule Charter. I’m still on the fence about how much I would like to change Home Rule, but I do know that the city council needs to have more power. They need to be the one vetting all legislation and ordinance changes, and they need to be setting the budget, not the mayor.
  2. Basing water and sewer rates on inflation, not on whims.
  3. Ending the TIF program in Sioux Falls. As we saw again today, building permit records were broken again for the 6th year in a row. Development DOES NOT need subsidizing by the taxpayers, they are doing quite well on their own.
  4. Require Directors and Managers who work in Emergency positions within the city to be Sioux Falls Citizens.
  5. Elect the Parks Board to 4-year terms in districts. I would even be okay with paying them a per meeting supplement.
  6. Apply a ticket fee to every ticket sold at the Events Center. Not sure what would be reasonable, but I think $5 would be a good starting point, with a review of the fee every 2 years. The fee would be directly put in the CIP to go towards paying the EC bonds. While this may only generate $2-3 Million per year, its better than what we have now, which is $0.
  7. Require the city to trim boulevard trees. This is doable if you put it on a reasonable rotation. As we are seeing with the Emerald Ash problem, the city DOES have the resources to do this.
  8. Require the city to pay up to 50% of sidewalk repairs adjacent to boulevard. Citizen could pay for the remainder through a property tax increase over a period of 5 years.
  9. Make the city attorney position an elected position for a 4-year term with NO term limits. I think this would keep the attorney’s office from becoming a political pawn for the mayor, it would also help the council to get fair advice on legislation. This person would also have the power to hire their staff, such as assistant attorneys and paralegals.

This of course is my ‘wish list’. Let me know what you think we could add or change.

After watching the Charter Revision Commission this past year, I have lost all hope that they will put anything meaningful on the ballot. They seem to be interested in protecting government from its citizens, instead of the other way around. It’s sad really.

UPDATE II: How can the Sioux Falls City Council approve 5G contract when the FCC is closed?

So I get an interesting call today from a guy in Florida who informed me that the new city contract for 5G cannot move forward (or at least it shouldn’t).

DOC: Verizon–Sioux Falls SD — Small Cell Master License (Execution Version).PDF

Besides his concerns about health to children, he brought up a bigger point. The FCC has been asked by two prominent congressional members to do a intensive study of the health affects of 5G. Why? Because nothing really currently exists. As I have pointed out in the past, I’m NOT sure if 5G is harmful, because the FCC hasn’t done research on long term affects;

Connecticut Senator Blumenthal and California Assemblywoman Eshoo have formally asked the FCC to provide scientific documentation about the safety of 5th Generation Internet connectivity, as the roll out of this new technology begins.  Their December 3, 2018 letter  refers to a Senate Commerce Committee field hearing, held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, titled “Race to 5G, A View from the Field” on October 12, 2018.

It gets more interesting because this is a ‘Standing Request’ since the FCC is currently closed due to the shutdown;

Congress Members Ask for Proof of 5G Safety

Congress members Blumenthal and Eshoo then wrote a pointed letter to FCC Commissioner Carr asking for proof of safety, noting that “the current regulations were adopted in 1996 and have not been updated for next generation equipment and devices” and “The FCC’s Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) limits do not apply to devices operating above 6 GHz.” 5G frequencies will be from 6 GHz to 100 GHz and above. They highlight that the FCC has acknowledged that “The SAR probe calibration, measurement accuracy, tissue dialectric parameters and other SAR measurement procedures required for testing recent generation wireless devices need further examination.” A response was requested by Dec 17, 2018.

Besides the health concerns, what I find even more interesting is that there was NO testimony from the FCC before the contract was approved, well, because they are closed. The contract should have been deferred until the Feds reopen government and the FCC could have testified on the health concerns of 5G. There was NO testimony. Not from the FCC or Verizon.

A rate study is NOT allowed until after the first contract is expired, which is backwards. A rate study should have been done before we just implemented a $175 a year blind lease agreement. It would be similar to walking up to a rummage sale and asking the person running it, “What do you want for the microwave?” After a pause, he asks, “5 Bucks?”

The city council was told ‘they have NO choice’ but to approve the contract. Hogwash. There are many constitutional arguments that could be made that a city councilor DID NOT have to approve this contract AND the Federal Government CANNOT tell a municipality elected official HOW TO VOTE. The city attorney’s advice on this was ‘shady’ at best.

The federal government did not make the contract and cannot enforce it.  It is illegal for a private corporation to use public utility poles without a period of public comment.

I was very disappointed in the SF City Council last night for NOT challenging the rate study, NOT challenging the health concerns (should have had testimony from FCC) and NOT challenging the ratification of this contract since the FCC is currently closed.

The good news is there has to be a 50 (20 from city, 30 from FCC) day waiting period. Hopefully within that time the government shutdown will end, and we will get an explanation from the FCC.

It was a sad day in city government watching our local officials roll over like dogs, for an agency that is on an extended vacation. Unbelievable.

Dr. Davis runs this website about the health affects of 5G, ehtrust.org