Entries Tagged 'SF City Council' ↓

The City of Sioux Falls should convert to an electric fleet

Yesterday POET made a convincing argument to the city they should switch the city fleet to Flex-Fuel E-30. While I understand the reasoning, there are two opposing arguments; 1) there would be issues with warranties, 2) E-30 still contains 70% petroleum based fuels.

My thought was if we were going to go to the expense of starting to change the fleet over we should start bold.

My suggestion would to outfit all the city garages (parks, public works, administration building, etc) with solar panels and charging stations. We really should be switching our car and small SUV and truck fleet to electric. Not only is electric reliable, it would save the city millions in fuel costs. The city already gets affordable electricity from our own electric department, what electric recharging the solar panels could not provide could be subsidized by our own power grid.

On top of that, we would probably have the fastest patrol cars in the state. An electric vehicle can go 0 to 60MPH in 4 seconds. The initial investment would not be cheap, but it would pay huge dividends. Corn fuel, not so much. Don’t the Broin Brothers have enough money from government subsidies?

See how easy a compromise can be

Of course Mayor TenHaken and his staff will try to take credit for this;

The City’s proposal would convert Elmwood Avenue between 26th and 28th Streets into a northbound one-way street, add 42 diagonal public parking spots on the west side of Elmwood Avenue, add 10 parallel parking spots at the north end of east Elmwood Avenue, and a dedicated bus parking lane for students to load and unload in a safe manner.

This proposal preserves access to 26th Street and the pedestrian sidewalk, which was mentioned by neighbors who previously opposed the full vacation of Elmwood Avenue. The elimination of southbound traffic on Elmwood will help alleviate neighborhood safety concerns of congested traffic due to non-neighborhood traffic. Additionally, street parking congestion complaints should be quelled with the addition of the diagonal on-street parking.

This is the proposal that should have been suggested in the first place. It provides safe parking, safe drop-offs, and the one-way makes the now useable street safer. I hope the residents agree. While the council was not obviously involved in this compromise, the 3 that voted down the vacation need to be given the credit for forcing the city administration to create a compromise between the institution and it’s neighbors. I haven’t taken the temperature of the council yet on this new approach, but I am sure it will pass the council no problem. Better solutions come from negotiating with both parties.

Sioux Falls City Councilors only listen when you mime

Councilor Rolfing didn’t enjoy my Paganini impression.

I have probably talked numerous hours over the past 15 years in front of the city councilors. But it seems all that mouthing off never got their attention. It took my mime of playing a violin in the very back row of the council chambers last night to finally get a reaction out of them. As I was doing this during one of Kiley’s ‘Life is Beautiful’ speeches while referring to the Presentation Sisters apartment complex (that will pay NO property taxes) he yelled out something like this;

“Yeah, play your violin back there Mr. Ehrisman. Very direspectful sir, very disrespectful.”

I responded;

“Like you’ve never disrespected me?”

In which I let out a hearty laugh. Mayor TenHaken told me not to address the dais unless I was offering public input. PTH also gave a good stare at the security guard. I guess, according to state law, it’s ok to carry a concealed weapon into council chambers without a permit, but laughter will not be tolerated. Sorry, I will not be called out by an elected official sitting on the dais without reacting.

Which brings me to my point. They seem to be deaf, dumb and blind when citizens are testifying about the importance of transparency and good government but I guess the only way to get their attention is to publicly shame them. I better rosin up my bow.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Pat Starr talks about the importance of plurality

The council is set to vote tonight on 1st reading of whether to go back to the 20 year rule of only having a 34% Plurality for city council races/elections.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Pat Starr was on the BNB show this morning talking about it.  He’s introducing an Ordinance this week, that would put the 50% / 34% Plurality requirement for Council elections on the ballot with the School Board election in May.

You know my feelings on it. It wasn’t broken and it should not have been changed. This was a last minute attempt to thwart certain individuals from running for council. Shameful.

His interview HERE.

Greg’s discussion HERE.

Lodging ‘BID’ tax down over 30% in 2018

The final returns are in for 2018 (DOC: December Monthly Presentation – Final.pdf)

As noted on the report, it is still subject to final audits.

Looks like the city’s general sales tax (2 cents) was up 3.7% from 2017, while the entertainment tax (1 cent) was up 7.8%.

But the shocker of the day was the lodging BID tax that was down -30.3% The CVB really needs to look into this.

NO WHERE in the City Charter does it say Sioux Falls city council meetings have a time limit

Just another city council working session

In fact, the only guidance the charter gives is that the chair can recess a meeting for breaks or to another day if business isn’t finished;

  • Any meeting of the city council may be adjourned to a later date and time, provided that no adjournment shall be for a longer period than until the next scheduled meeting.
  • The city council chair and vice chair shall determine the agenda, with city council input, for all informational meetings and working sessions.

City councilors supposedly received an email from council chair Erickson over the weekend telling councilors that the informational meetings are getting ‘too long’ and too many questions are being asked, and that councilors need to prepare their questions in advance.

I find the rules from the chair interesting, considering she has NO more powers then her peers and that their is no time limits in the charter on meetings. I also find it interesting that the public isn’t granted access to supporting documents in SIRE until sometimes a half-hour before the meeting starts. So how do constituents get questions to be asked during informational meetings on agenda items to councilors before the meeting starts when they don’t know what the presentation is about. There was also the working session last week where two councilors didn’t even show up and the other two had nothing to contribute. Let’s talk about being prepared in advance.

For instance, the Avera ‘core neighborhood’ plans presentation on Tuesday has NO supporting documents right now online. We have NO idea what they will be saying, and most likely councilors no very little also, this is why they ask questions at the meeting.

It’s also important to note that this stuff has to be on record, another reason multiple and thorough questions need to be asked.

Also don’t forget that while the public may make comment at the end of the informational meeting, none of their questions will be answered.

This continuing argument that meetings need to be shorter is tiresome. Charter doesn’t place time limits on meetings. If the council chair is concerned she won’t be able to have a fancy sit down dinner at Minervas in between meetings on Tuesday, maybe she should pack a lunch, order in delivery, or even better, resign.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda • March 5, 2019

Informational Meeting, 4 PM

Presentations on city 2018 financials, Avera will come and talk about their core institutional growth (about 10 years to late), The new sculptures for 2019 will be presented by SculptureWalk (you can view them now in SIRE) and the Falls Overlook Cafe’ management agreement (that is pretty much a done deal). You can view the contract under the Parks Board Agenda-2/20.

Fiscal Committee, 5:30 (after informational meeting)

POET is proposing using renewable fuels in city vehicles.

Regular City Council Meeting, 7 PM

Item #7, Approval of Contracts, Midwest engineering is receiving $40K to design a new wall that could probably be fixed for the same amount. Interesting tidbit, the engineer working on this ‘Robbie’ used to work in the city engineering department. This item also appears on the agenda (Item #23) with NO supporting documents, they must be hidden with the ‘no mow’ lists.

The Pavilion is asking for the East retaining wall to be rebuilt. I have heard that since the Pavilion opened they were having trouble with the foundation on the North and Northeast corner of the building. I wonder if we will ever be told what is going on? An eyewitness told me a few years back before the sculpture garden was built that they were pouring tons of yards of concrete in the middle of winter along the North Wall outside the Everist Gallery. Wish I had pictures. The Pavilion is also asking for a ‘Cornice Study‘. Maybe they are considering getting rid of all the corners in the building?

I’m also wondering why the city spends $12K+ a year on mowing around their own facilities (water and light)? Are the parks department lawn mowers not good enough?

We also have a $75K outside counsel agreement with Woods an Fuller for waste water agreement. It seems the more city council asks about outside attorney fees, the more the prices go up.

Item#13, apparently I-29 Brick had to file a lien against the city to get paid for work done to the Admin building. I wonder if the brick was ‘dented’?

Item#34, 1st Reading, Ordinance. Apparently there is going to be a ‘hospitality’ deck at the Levitt sponsored by Howalt + McDowell Insurance. It’s unclear from reading the contract if this will be only for private use for the events under a rental agreement, or just open to the public. Like most things in this town, we have to snob-up a publicly owned venue with a place for the ‘special people’ to look down on the rest of us. This is why I have argued that it should be BYOB at Levitt, even if it is in a designated area. I guess the Levitt is getting less FREE by the day. Within a couple of years they will probably be charging a fee if you are without shoes or not wearing a shirt.

Item#36, 1st reading, Some councilors are asking for the citizens to vote on the plurality rule on the school board election ballot on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Estimates are it will cost the city around $20K to participate in the election. While that isn’t chump change, it is way cheaper then council runoff elections. It would cost us nothing if the other 4 councilors and mayor would pull their heads out of their butts and just change it back on a simple vote.

The Stehly Report • Spring 2019

You can view and read it here; Stehly Newsletter Spring 2019

Overlook Café Contract appears to be a ‘done deal’ before council even approves it

Okay, I will be the first to admit, Stensland Dairy was the only company to bid on the Café contract, so it would seem inevitable that they would get the contract. They also have a very good reputation and I’m sure they will do a good job.

But what if the only bid was ‘Bob’s Taco Cart’? Would the city automatically give the contract to them? Probably not.

I found it ironic at the Feb 20th Parks Board meeting Stensland already had a menu (with pricing) done and a Catering agreement with an independent chef before they approved the contract. As the Parks Board has stated in the past, their approvals are ONLY preliminary, the City Council has to approve the final contract. They also will get approval next week on a beer and wine license.

So I guess if you are the only bidder, have a menu ready to go and a alcohol license before the contract is approved by the council, they have no choice to approve it? Talk about getting the cart in front of the horse. I think it would be funny to send a message to city administrators (parks, licensing, planning etc.) and reject the contract based solely on the fact that they didn’t go to the council first before doing everything else.

Half the Sioux Falls City Council & Mayor dying on the Plurality hill

I’ve seen certain members of our city council die on some pretty stupid hills over the past decade, but defending a majority vote for city councilors in a probable runoff, a previous 20 year rule, that changed in a sneaky amendment move by a couple of outgoing councilors that had indigestion that day is pretty lame.

The other 4 councilors (who were awake for the working session) have a solution. If you are too chickensh*t to change the rule with a basic vote of the council, we will leave it up to the citizens (who most of them don’t even know it changed or what the rule was to begin with);

“You saw how we’re split on this issue and how it should be handled, so let’s let the people of Sioux Falls decide,” Starr told the Argus Leader Wednesday.

Besides the fact that the rule worked for 20 years, most ‘intelligent’ people know that by pushing for runoffs in a council race you will eliminate grassroots candidates who won’t have the money, time or resources to run the full race. It will also cost the taxpayers more for an election that will only draw a ‘fake’ majority. This is really why councilors Erpenbach and Rolfing pushed for this, they don’t want ‘regular’ folks running for council, they only want those connected to the ‘club’. If you have ever noticed, the council candidates that are recruited by the elite in town (Soehl, Selberg, etc.) are usually shrews for big development and do little to improve the lives of the working class of our city. They contribute very little to us, and a lot to their campaign contributors. Grassroots candidates (who are lucky enough to win) represent the citizenry.

Neither Soehl or Selberg say they’re eager to revisit the issue. Soehl said he’s interested in what the public’s feelings are, but a special election could be seen as another attempt to tinker with election rules.

“I certainly want to follow the wishes of the public, but what I object to a bit is the council trying to change election standards every two years,” he said. “

Blah, Blah, Blah. The rule was in place for 20 years! The rule change hasn’t even been used yet. No harm, no foul. Change it back, most people wouldn’t even know it was changed for two years since it hasn’t even been used. I know Curt, you forgot to mention that in your statement.

Selberg questions the need to hold a special election considering the council set the majority standard in 2017 and debated the matter once again just this month.

“We still need to let this breathe a little bit before we’re out there trying to change it again,” he said.

Breathe about what? A rule change that hasn’t even been used and was fine for 20 years without ONE SINGLE CITIZEN complaint! Just because Rolfing forgot his TUMS for a council meeting is no reason to change a 20 year rule that has worked well.

I hate to use the words ‘Brain Dead’ but sometimes I wonder. Why die on this hill?