Entries Tagged 'SF City Council' ↓

Sioux Falls City Council RS5 members put on some great theater over the State Theatre

I decided to watch from home tonight, I have no doubt the funding will pass even though only 6 members will be voting on it next week. I guess there is even a part of me that is still kind of neutral on the topic, since I do support it’s opening soon and have helped in the past with private fundraisers. I do understand the economic impact of the State Theatre would eventually pay itself back in the form of entertainment taxes (one of the few smart things I have ever heard Kiley say).

The money isn’t the big issue. As councilor Starr pointed out, we could easily take it out of the enormous reserve fund and it wouldn’t even make a blip. 

My issues are;

• We shouldn’t take it out of Entertainment tax fund, it does set a precedent.

• 1st Reading was done without a completed contract (the finance director said it won’t be completed until Thursday and the council won’t be able to make any changes – or only minor ones). This is also a precedent because we had a 1st reading before we had a completed contract (still completely baffled by this).

• We are doing this on the whim of a Billionaire, and that is what torques me off the most. We should be making these gifting decisions based on what citizens want, and to be honest with you, besides the administration, the city council, the board members of the State Theatre and a handful of DT business owners I haven’t heard one single citizen tell me they are ok with giving this money, in fact most don’t even know or care.

But what was most fun (disgusting) to watch was the performance of three of the members of the RS5, and their ‘I was against this before I was for it.’ Yeah right.

Theresa tried to get it deferred for two weeks because she was going to be gone next week and she wanted time to look over the contract. Soehl, in his true clown car sort of way, informed Theresa that he would be gone next week to, and it didn’t matter, because the city’s business needs to keep moving (like this is some kind of emergency – the project has been farting around for almost 25 years, an extra week isn’t going to kill it). But what was even more funny is Soehl said he supported the gift even though he has never been in the building.

Besides Kiley making a good point about the economic impact he told one of his sappy stories that no one gives Two Sh*ts about.

Like I said, the train is already down the tracks and if I was the State Theatre board, I would have cracked the champagne bottle tonight, because there is nothing the RS5 won’t refuse, especially if it keeps their heads well mounted up Denny’s butt.

Hopefully they will play my favorite comedy of all time, “Coming to America.”

Rev. Brow: “If loving the Lord is wrong, then I don’t wanna be right!”

UPDATE II: TenHaken Administration moving FAST & HARD on the State Theatre funding

UPDATE II: This is actually councilor Pat Starr’s amendment below. As I understand it to, the State Theatre folks have to prove they have raised $2.5 million before Denny or the City will give the money. Like I said, we need more questions answered;

As if we already forgot about the tactics of the last administration of Secret, Secret, Secret, RAMROD! The TenHaken team of perpetual intellectuals have decided they would pull a Bucktooth & Bowlcut move with the funding of the State Theatre.

If you look at the 1st Reading of the ordinance to fund the State, you will see there is ONLY a short ordinance (Item #16). There is NO contract attachment.

I asked a couple of city folks yesterday where the contract was that the council was supposedly helping to ‘tweak’. The administration’s answer? (or at least I think it is coming from one of them) is that they would work on that between the 1st and 2nd reading.


Aren’t these ‘minor’ details supposed to be worked out before you put something on the official agenda? And how is it that the administration is putting a budgetary expense on the agenda and NOT the council? There are many questions that need to be answered by the State Theatre folks before this money is handed over. It would be nice if everyone just cooled their jets before we get all the facts of the deal and an actual agreed upon contract. Trust me, we haven’t forgotten about the tactics of the last dude, so don’t even go there.

City Council Agenda • July 9, 2019

Sioux Falls City Council Informational Meeting • 4 PM

Parks & Rec Comprehensive Plan Update & Code Enforcement Update

Sioux Falls City Council Regular Meeting • 7 PM

Item #15, 2nd Reading ordinance, Annual rate increase for ambulance service. I found it interesting that when Councilor Stehly asked the GM of the company at the informational meeting why there was certain spikes in service he said he didn’t know why. Well, isn’t that interesting. REMSA and Dr. Luther are in charge of keeping track of data throughout the year, and NO one in the room could answer a simple question? Hmmm?

Item #16, 1st Reading ordinance, $1.5 million in appropriations from the entertainment tax to the State Theatre. Trust me, I have no illusions that this freight train has left the building, I’m sure there will be a lot of questions about how it will work, but I think if there is ANY no votes on the 2nd reading, there will only be 1 or 2. What is frustrating is that the council was told last Tuesday they ‘had time’ to tweak the contract, a week later there is a 1st Reading already, and the money is coming from the Entertainment tax. Reminded me of a move the past mayor would pull, ramrod. Besides the fact that I would like to see the money instead come out of the Capital Fund as a one-time gift and no strings attached. I still struggle with Denny Sanford telling us how to spend taxpayer money. There are also some financial questions. Is the State Theatre up on all their bills and property taxes? They are registered with the IRS as a non-profit, public charity but there is NO listing with the SD SOS. How much has the State Theatre received in donations since it’s formation? How much has been spent on restoration? How much on operations and salaries? These are important questions that need answers before the money is given, I hope some on the city council have the courage to demand them!

Item #17, Resolution to place a sculpture. So the sculpture, Varietate Concordia is an interesting tale. Originally, the piece was at the end of Falls Park Drive but was removed after selling the land to an engineering firm. Somehow in that process, the brushed metal boxes surrounding the origami cranes will be removed;

WHEREAS, the four box structures will not be used. The artist will be allowed to take possession of the four old aluminum box structures as later agreed to by and between the parties at a mutually acceptable time and place at the sole expense and liability of the artist;

I am uncertain why the boxes are being removed and returned to the artist after he was paid for them. What is interesting is that it took TWO YEARS to track down a waiver from the artist. I’m not sure there is anything controversial about this, but it will be neat to hear how this all came about.

Is there a fix?

Citizens have had many successful petitions in Sioux Falls. Is it time for another one?

The Sioux Falls Home Rule charter is 25 years old this year and is showing growing pains. Sioux Falls has grown from a small pothole town to a medium sized pothole town with the size of each of the potholes increasing with it. The idea we can’t plan for a sustainable future is confirmed with every meeting our mayor and city council show up to. Our get rich quick on the backs of the citizens, shows we must have a City Council actually doing what the Home Rule Charter calls for it to do – SETTING POLICY.

Setting policy means the City Council is required to develop a long range plan with instructions for the Mayor to implement. These instructions are called Ordinances. The Mayor in most home rule charter cities must do what the City Council instructs but in our town the mayor tells the City Council what to do. Our processes are broken and broken bad. We hear it at every Tuesday City Council meeting. We heard it recently when a citizen showed up to say the mayor’s position must be redefined to stop the meddling.

We citizens have a BIG responsibility. We need to tell this City Council and all future City Councils what their responsibilities are.  We need to tell this mayor and all future mayors what their responsibilities are. How do we do this?

Right now there are monthly meetings being held to make it look like decisions to improve the home rule charter. As we have watched over the last few election cycles, nothing is going to happen except screw us more. The Charter Revision Commission will hear testimony about how wonderful everything is in each part of the Charter and then move on to the next area. If a citizen shows up to talk about a problem with a part of the Charter, the Chair will sometimes say thank you to the person and then completely ignore the recommendation. Our city election of 2018 is a prime example of total dysfunction, with all our problems every idea was thrown away.

Our Charter was designed to be a Strong Council – Strong Mayor form of government and it has the marks of failure because the mayors we have had subvert the will of the people and their representatives by sitting on the council. Just look at the disastrous $70 million dollar parking ramp deal passed by an out of control mayor and his dysfunctional friends on the City Council to see we have lost our way.

There is talk around town of doing something about the problems our dysfunctional Charter has. What ideas do you have? Some have called for eliminating the Charter altogether, changing to City Manager form, making the mayor a ceremonial position with no veto or Council vote, going back to the Commission form or a mix of the above. What do you think?

Personally, I think it is time citizens took matters into their own hands.

Sioux Falls City Council Informational Meeting and Highlights

Common Sense left the room at Carnegie Hall yesterday

Yesterday’s Sioux Falls City Council informational meeting was one for the books. By the time I got to give my public input, the first thing I could say was watching the meeting was ‘painful’.

As we know, the council in it’s current state is extremely dysfunctional, they displayed this dysfunction yesterday when they discussed their travel budget for well over 45 minutes. Besides the fact the staffer who is in charge of this is disorganized and lacks the initiative to put this together properly I found it an exercise in ignorance that never accomplished anything.

They first complained that they had to ‘VOTE’ on what they wanted, in which they really didn’t have to (they normally don’t vote at informational meetings). I reminded them in the past that the council just had a set dollar amount of $19,000 (I misspoke and said million) for the travel budget and when it came time to book the trip they discussed who would go. Not that complicated. But instead they were making decisions on trips that haven’t even been booked.

Councilor Neitzert felt the public was against these ‘junket trips’ because they were waste of taxpayer dollars, but not a $26 million dollar parking ramp with no tenants that we did not need and built in the wrong spot. But let’s split hairs on $19K.

Councilor Soehl felt these meetings were for staff not councilors. Stehly, Brekke and myself told Soehl that these are meetings for policy makers NOT staff, you know, the people who make policy decisions. His ignorance of the legislative process was shocking, to say the least.

They did however approve a facilatator to help with the council’s goal setting (I feel sorry for that person) and the mayor agreed to help pay for a neighborhood summit this Fall (possibly 2 in 2020) which is a great idea. They want to hold it at the new ministry center at the former school for the deaf because they offered the space for FREE.

But what got very interesting was the discussion over the donation to the State Theatre. They want to essentially give them $1.5 million out of the entertainment tax and have strings attached for 10 years. Councilor Starr pointed out that giving money from the entertainment tax would set up a precedent for other non-profits to ask for that money in the future. I agreed with Starr and said that it really should come out of the CIP as a one time gift.

Councilor Neitzert pointed out he struggled with having the option of the city buying the building if they went belly up over the next ten years, saying that the city owns enough entertainment facilities.

What is even more frustrating is that the council and mayor are doing this all based on a decision Denny Sanford made. I asked the council if this is how policy decisions are made, and if so, it was sad. I also told them that while most of the citizens in this community are excited about it being finished and opened, I have never heard anyone say we should be giving them tax dollars.

What is also troubling is that the State Theatre still has to raise another $2.5 million on their own to complete the project, and then there is the operating and maintenance costs. I’m not sure how they will manage that?

The good news though is that the gifting contract is NOT finished yet, and could be tweaked. I would prefer we don’t give the money, but if we do, it should come from the CIP, be a one-time gift with no strings attached, and if it can’t survive on it’s own it can be sold privately. As Greg said, we have enough entertainment facilities that are publicly funded.

Phone Games

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, July 2-3, 2019

City Council Informational Meeting, 4 PM, July 2

Presentations on Ambulance Service (Annual Report), Update on the State Theatre Funding and the City Council 2019 budget expenditures.

City Council Regular Meeting, 7 PM, July 2

Item #38, 2nd Reading, Ordinance, More changes to removing ‘gun dealers’ from pawn shops.

Item #45, 1st reading, Ordinance, Annual Ambulance Service rate increase (written into contract, so the CC has very little power over it.

Planning Commission Meeting, 6 PM, July 3

Item#5B, neighbors are resisting a re-zone from residential to C-2 Commercial for a mini-mall retail center.

Item #5C, permit for alcohol for a casino in the former Bob’s Café. The neighborhood is strongly opposed. They are looking for a deferral.

Item #5D, another permit for alcohol for a casino in a former gas station on N. Cliff. Planning department recommends denial due to not meeting alcohol requirements.

Item #5G, Adjusting the 2040 Comprehensive plan growth tier map.

I also noticed that many exhibit maps were missing from items in SIRE. Hopefully they will be up for the meeting on Wednesday.


UPDATE: Using Entertainment taxes for private entity setting a bad precedent

I first want to say I support finishing the State Theatre, I have actually helped with some charity fundraisers for the facility through ZombieWalk and SF Roller Dollz. I think it is a worthy cause and I applaud Denny Sanford for giving money to the goal of completion. But I think that is still the direction the theatre should move in, private donations for a private facility.

Using entertainment taxes sets a bad precedent, as I pointed out yesterday, and I will tell you why.

Seven years ago, former city clerk Debra Owen won an open meetings case over how her termination was handled. During the proceedings, City Attorney David Fiddle-Faddle argued his case based on the opinion of a former attorney general. 4 of the 5 attorneys who sat on the Open Meetings Commission contended that an ‘opinion’ of an AG is NOT case law, so it did not apply. When Fiddle continued to argue based on the AG’s opinion, one of the panelists asked David cynically, “You do understand that the opinion of a AG is not the same as case law? Don’t you?” The crowd in attendance let out an audible giggle. The commission determined that you have to base your arguments on tried case law, not opinions.

The City of Sioux Falls is trying to say they can spend the entertainment money on a private entity in the form of promoting the city based on a opinion of the AG in 1984. But there is NO case law. In other words, the city could be sued if they try to set this precedent. Even if I supported giving the State Theatre MORE tax money, which I don’t, it should come out of the CIP not the entertainment tax.

Listen to Allison Weiland talk about the State on Jon Michael’s Forum

In other news, Cameraman Bruce attended a luncheon today talking about open meeting laws, 3 of the panelists were former State Legislator Dave Knudson, Argus reporter Jonathan Ellis and Jon Arneson (Argus attorney). They all contended that the most recent open meeting laws that Knudson helped write, said that if text messaging or emails during a public open meeting are being used, that correspondence can be used in a court case. So council, if you were smart, you would put the phones and email chatting away during the meetings.

Welcome to Opt-Out Falls!

Well, it was bound to happen, with ALL of our local government agencies in Sioux Falls going Bat Sh*t crazy over opt-outs, the name change is no surprise.

“I will admit I was a little surprised and kind of hurt when I found out the name change,” local philanthropist Lenny Spamford exclaimed, “I mean just how much does a no state income tax paying billionaire in SD have to give before he gets a town named after him?”

The governor, Donita Trump, didn’t seem too bothered by the change either, “I guess we kind of forced it on them, you know, by collecting over 30% of our sales tax revenue from the city and giving them nothing in return. It may not seem fair, well because it isn’t. I told you I would do things differently, and I’m delivering on that promise. Talk to you later, I have to get back to trucker hat shopping and hip-hop dance lessons.”

The latest to opt-out was the Minnerahrah County Commission today voting 6-0 for an opt-out (and 5 of them are Republicans! The shame!).

“The county, especially Sioux Falls has become the place to commit crimes, it’s like it’s trendy or something to drive from Freeman, or Menno or even Highmore to commit crimes in our county,” said county commissioner Gene Bart, “We really enjoy arresting people here and putting them in the endless cycle of the criminal justice system. Heck, just yesterday we arrested someone for looking at the Arc of Dreams the wrong way, on top of that we even put a guy away for trying to burn the newly sodded grass at the Levitt with a magnifying glass. Lawn crimes, just another mole we are trying to whack! Building collapses, not so much.”

Of course nothing gives the Sioux Falls School District more jollies than an opt-out. Superintendent Baron Von Maulher said, “We were getting such a kick out of it, I banned joke books from the IPC. Whenever I see anyone down and out around the offices, I just yell ‘OPT-OUT’ and the whole place breaks out in laughter. Of course, the finance department does get a little trepidation, because they have to ‘count’ (wink, wink) the votes. I always tell them they can do that with their hands tied behind their back and blindfolded. Worked in the school bond election.”

I asked Baron what the opt-out schedule looked like for the school district over the next 5-10 years.

“Well, since Pierre really doesn’t care how much we raise taxes, we figured we would push the envelope a bit,” Von Maulher replied, “We are going to try 6-12 opt-outs per year through the board, and if the people whine about having a choice, we will hold an election, but this time there will be only ONE super precinct, and it will be in my office.”

The city council is also infamous for raising property taxes. In fact, I don’t think a city council has voted down an increase in over 15 years.

City Council Vice Chair, and RS5 self-appointed leader, Ned Greitzert explained it like this, “When someone hands you lemons, you make lemonade, when the state hands us an opportunity to raise the tax rate, we make grenades, uh, I mean lemonade.”

Well, that would explain the potholes.

I asked him about all the other numerous increases in fees and taxes the city imposes on the citizens, and couldn’t they just take it a little easy?

“Funny you bring that up,” replied Greitzert, “The majority of the council, the ‘RS5’ as we like to call it, or the ‘He-Man Steely Hater’s Club’ is all about positivity and progressive measures to keep our city’s high level of quality of life at a maximum, that means if we are going to raise fees on water, sewer and other stuff, we have to keep that tradition of caring  and due diligence with property taxes. Wouldn’t it seem odd to you that your water bill went up last year but your property taxes didn’t? Where’s the consistency there? If you want inconsistency with taxes, just vote Steely for mayor. All she’ll do is bankrupt the city while giving taxpayers a break. The next thing you know, we will all be swimming in an outdoor pool in the middle of January.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell Ned that I didn’t know how to swim, especially under ice.

Some question why all the local entities have to constantly raise our tax rates when valuations have had record growth over the past 6 years?

Mayor TenBibleverses’ Chief of Staff took a stab at the question, “I call it the candy syndrome, something I kind of started when I worked for that last crook, I mean, mayor and quit ONLY after I was forced to write the largest TIF in city history for the Spamford Sports Complex,” said Jericho Speck, “We just started handing out TIFs, tax rebates, excusing tipping fees, ignored environmental laws, built millions in infrastructure for ice cream warehouses and just said, screw it, corporate welfare for whoever wants it. Don’t tell my pastor.”

I asked, “The Candy Syndrome?”

“Yeah,” Speck said “Whatever rich developer in town that needs a handout for NO reason at all, we just give it to them. No questions asked. No proof of economic impact. No proof of job growth, or even good paying jobs. We just make sure the request is signed and we approve it. The city clerk’s office handles petitions in a similar same way.”

I wondered if this haphazard way of giving tax cuts and tax incentives was driving up everyone else’s property taxes.

Speck responded, “What? Are you stupid? Does beer like foam collect at the bottom of Falls Park every Spring for the past 100 thousand years?! You certainly are the poster child for the large percentage of South Dakotans that don’t go to college. Ever think about taking up welding? There’s a program I could refer you to.”

I had more questions, but I had to get back to my call center job, my 8.5 minute break was over.

While this was satire, some of the sh*t is true, mostly everything but the fake names.