Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls' ↓

The Evil Tip Jar


So I attended the Roller Dollz home opener last night at the Arena, I think it has been over 5 years since I was at a bout. The rules have changed a lot, not a lot of contact or action anymore, they should change it to ‘flag derby’.

We also noticed that the Arena still has cup holders (the EC removed a bunch of theirs).

But that is not what this post is about. As I purchased a malt beverage at the bar, I asked the bartender where the tip jar was, they told me they had to ‘hide it’. They also made a colorful comment about Denny Sanford.

I am against this for many reasons, but mainly because of greed and hypocrisy. Besides the fact they charge too much for the beer at the ‘complex’ I think the bartenders should be able to put their tip jars in clear view. Why? Well first off, nothing requires you to tip them, even if the jar is in clear view. By not having the jar in view, it says a couple of things;

1) That the bartenders may be getting paid enough that tips are not necessary or

2) that gratuity may be included in the price.

Neither is true, I’m sure.

I would assume the Arena/Events Center (Ovations/SMG) don’t allow the tip jar because of greed. They want attendees to spend their ‘cash’ on purchases NOT on their employees gratuity. Which is ironic, because we are constantly told about how many jobs the EC and Convention center has created, what we are not told is that they are mostly low paying, part-time hospitality jobs, and to add insult to injury, they have to ‘hide’ their tip jars. Like passively asking for a tip is somehow impolite.

Yet again the management of the complex has shown it will now DICTATE tipping also.

Wonder if the workers will soon have to wear armbands?

We also got a good laugh out of the office printer paper sign taped to the window in the hallway going to the Arena and EC from the Sheraton. After spending millions on signage for the new facility, they must have ran out of signage money.


SF Police Chief at Democratic Forum


Police chief Doug Barthel spoke at Democratic Forum yesterday (3/28/15). He gave a good introduction where he talked about more communication with the public, which is quite ironic (which we will get to in a moment). he also touched on the Tuthill incident in which he said, “the suspect pulled a gun and pointed it at the officer.”

Later on during the Q & A, an audience member asked Barthel what the policy was with releasing police video and audio to the public (Barthel supports the use of body cameras, dash cameras and tasers). Barthel concluded that according to State Law, he doesn’t have to release those files (but has the authority to do so – he, of course, didn’t mention that) but felt he didn’t need to, because it would open up the ‘flood gate’ of the media requesting footage.

Since he brought up Tuthill, I asked him why the SFPD hasn’t released the audio or a crime scene site map and why the DCI wasn’t allowed to investigate the shooting by the officer?

He felt that releasing a map or an audio file ‘wouldn’t benefit’ the case (Even though, I suspect it’s because they don’t want the public ‘speculating’ whether the officer performed his duties correctly, even though they already are.)

He also believes there truly was a suspect and a ‘threat’ and the officer had every right to fire.

He said that the DCI didn’t need to investigate because ‘the suspect wasn’t injured.’

I found that answer interesting because we ‘don’t know’ if the suspect was injured, they have not been found.

I still think if we released the audio file and had a ‘real’ external investigation of the incident, we would be a lot closer to finding the suspect. But that of course that would require the SFPD to ‘communicate’ and be ‘transparent’ with the public, and do we really want to open those floodgates?

Why are we allowing SMG to run a dictatorship on entertainment options in our community?


First we had the ticketing ordeal at the Events Center, that SMG claims they can take no action on (or will not take any action on). In other words they are allowing the promoters, the ticket brokers and artists to have dibs on tickets to a facility we are paying the mortgage/maintenance on, and holding us hostage to the higher scalped ticket prices.

Now they are not allowing a local BBQ joint to partake in RibFest, saying it is only for ‘national and international’ competitors. This isn’t a French cooking Festival, this is BBQ ribs.

But if that isn’t enough to torque you off a bit, I had a South DaCola foot soldier tell me the other day that when he tried to attain copies of the sponsorship agreements between the sponsors and Events Center, SMG told him that they were ‘private’ because they are between SMG and the sponsors AND not the city. As an attorney, he pointed out that SMG is merely an ‘agent’ of the city holding those contracts and it should be public record.

He didn’t have much luck with his argument.

I guess what bothers me the most is that we are allowing an independent contractor to not only bathe in the profits from the Event Center while we get to wallow in mortgage payments, we are allowing this public contractor to dictate to us, the ones providing them the opportunity to make a profit in our community, how and when we will be entertained and by who, and what that price will be.

If that doesn’t sound like an entertainment dictator, I don’t know what does?

City Survey Results

There was some interesting things to come out of the city survey (mostly commentary) but you can view all of the results HERE. But a couple of quick things I found interesting.

-People will always bitch about the streets. As I have said, they are a lot better then they were 4 years ago. I will actually give the city council and the mayor credit for getting on top of this. It also doesn’t hurt that the past two winters have been mild, which saves us money in maintenance and upkeep. Could the streets be better? Yes. I agree that the traffic light time in this town is pretty bad and needs to be adjusted.

-Affordable housing is almost non-existent. When I bought my home 11 years ago I was paying $450 dollars a month for a 1-Bedroom in Pettigrew Heights. I didn’t pay heat, garbage or water. It wasn’t a dump, but it certainly wasn’t ‘nice’ I have paid the same mortgage on my home since I bought it besides tax increases, but after I re-financed a few years ago to a 15 year mortgage, my mortgage went down. Let me put it to you this way, it is almost 30% cheaper for me to be making payments on single family home then it would be for me to rent a single bedroom apartment. Rents are way overpriced in Sioux Falls, and that is evident, when you see developers continually put up apartments. They are making a racket.

-847 responses out of 3000 sent for a response rate of 28.23%. The council hours wasted on this survey is amazing. I remember sitting in the outer council room while hearing staff and councilors drone on and on about how important this was for the future of Sioux Falls? We have video for those who missed it. So for the $29.52 paid for each resident return plus the thousands of dollars spent by the council in staff time and overhead did we learn anything we did not know already? If you look at one of the last documents in this survey, you will see the comparison to other years. You will see that there wasn’t that much change from 2013-14. That tells me that we can probably hold off doing another one of these surveys for a couple of more years, instead of every year.

But the most entertaining part was the open ended question responses. Obviously, most of these comments will be negative, afterall we are asking for the opinion of the public. Very little praise was given. But what surprised me was the high number of comments about our mayor pertaining to development, building entertainment facilities and the connections to Sanford. The SFPD isn’t seen in too good of light either.

UPDATED: Where’s the MOU or is just MOO

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The Spellerberg Quit Claim Deed issue rose again during the aquatics presentation on March 23, 2015. This meeting could have taken place in 2012 with little changes. The city continues to dismiss the need to find out from the VA if they see any legal issues to once again breaking the rules governing the Quit Claim sale of the 1950’s.

To some this is no big deal and it might be just that. The problem is this, if the City continues to break the sale contract as they did with the retention ponds, the VA could demand the property back.

Anyone dealing with real estate law knows this simple fact, if a clause is written into a Quit Claim Deed, the clause can be exercised at a later date. It is so simple. It is so straight forward. In order for the city to retain “ownership” of the land, it has to follow the contract. It does not matter how old the contract is. The contract could have been written in 1650 and it would still be valid today.

Just calling an office and having a friendly chat with the janitor or today’s chief lawyer does not equal a signed written contract giving full ownership of the property. As of today, the VA still controls the land, the City is given the right to use it within murky guidelines.

Watch the Entire meeting below;

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Other issues with the site

As I was attending the end of the meeting last night, I noticed quite a few supporters of the pool actually had some good concerns. Will there be enough parking (204 spots) when meets are held at the location? Why isn’t there a designated turn lane going into the facility? Why isn’t there a road connecting the VA and Pool parking lot (just sidewalks – which further proves the ‘communications’ with the VA are questionable at best). I also wondered why we need bleacher seating for 500 people? I thought this facility was to be used by everyone? Not just the swim teams? Why is the recreational pool so shallow at the deep end (3.5 feet)? It was pretty obvious from listening to supporters of the pool that they now feel they were left out of the process in planning this facility.

Of course, this cynic is not surprised. The city is in full ram-rod mode with $24 million dollars of our money, who cares about the VA or what the public thinks.

Remind you of our Code Enforcement?

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What?! I thought Shape Places was perfect? Why do we keep making all these adjustments?

As I have said all along, this gigantic ordinance change should have been broken down in sections for the council and public to pass, instead, like most things with this administration, they needed to ram rod it through all at once. I encouraged people to vote down Shape Places in the past municipal election not just because of Walmart, but because it had several flaws, that needed to be fixed in sections. Of course, the voters didn’t understand that, so here we are (Full DOC: billboards);

WHEREAS, the City hereby exercises its authority under SDCL 9-29-1, SDCL Ch. 11-4, and the City Charter, to establish an immediate and interim moratorium on the installation of any Billboards or the issuance of any permits for Billboards within the City;

WHEREAS, an interim moratorium will ensure that any proposed zoning ordinance changes and any proposed amendments to the City’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan can be completely examined with adequate public input from citizens, business interests, and sign industry representatives;

WHEREAS, the City finds that an interim moratorium period of 180 days is reasonable to preserve the status quo and prevent significant investment pending the outcome of the above study and any proposed regulations emanating therefrom;

WHEREAS, the City finds that an immediate and interim moratorium is necessary to protect the public health, safety, and welfare; S:\AS\Clerk\ORD\ord0034.docx 2 3/20/15


Section 1. Interim Moratorium.

The City shall not accept or process applications, issue permits for, or allow the installation of any Billboard for a period of 180 days, or sooner if this Ordinance is repealed by the City at the completion of the above study.

This part is my fave,

“an interim moratorium will ensure that any proposed zoning ordinance changes and any proposed amendments to the City’s 2035 Comprehensive Plan can be completely examined with adequate public input from citizens, business interests, and sign industry representatives”

Didn’t we do this before it passed?

Apparently not.

Does our mayor even understand Free Enterprise?


Just another private-public partnership that makes our city so freaking great!

Yeah, I know, reading an interview with our mayor in Free Enterprise magazine is kind of like reading an interview with Gordon Howie in High Times magazine, but let’s get started with his words of wisdom;

What’s the structure of the Sioux Falls government?

We have a “strong mayor” form of government. I am basically the C.E.O. or the president of a large company, and that company is the City of Sioux Falls. We have roughly 1,200 city employees and 12 department heads, and a substantial budget. We’re responsible of running the day-to-day activities of a city with 170,000 people, and a metropolitan area with about 250,000.

He fails to mention the legislative body of city government, the city council, which shouldn’t surprise any of us. His disdain for them is evident in every city council meeting, where he shorts them on information, then cuts them off when they ask leading questions.

Economic development is probably one of the biggest challenges that I wanted to tackle when I was first elected. In corporate America, I was a growth and development guy,

You were a ‘seek and destroy’ marketing manager for the worst credit card company in the nation. Twist that how ever you want, but your practices in ‘corporate America’ were to prey on the fiscally ignorant, and stick it to them. That’s not economic development, that’s highway robbery.

Why has the city’s healthcare sector seen such impressive growth over the past decade?

Well, there are a number of reasons. For example, we’ve got a gentleman, Denny Sanford, who invested significantly in Sanford Health. So, he’s helped infuse millions of dollars into finding a cure for juvenile diabetes or breast cancer at that health center, and he wants to build one of the best and most respected research institutions in the Midwest. Then, at the same time, we have another organization in town called Avera McKennan, which is also investing millions into their research, infrastructure and vision.

This all ties into what happened during the recession: Though financial services, construction, and manufacturing were slowing down, other industries like agriculture, research, and healthcare were just kicking tail. These sectors really provided that balance that we needed to keep our head above water during the recession, and they also enabled us to get out of that water faster than anybody once the recession came to an end. We have recently been called “America’s Next Boomtown.”

Did you know that Sanford and Avera are some the lowest wage paying healthcare networks in the nation? And that is just the beginning of their issues, I could go into patient care and services. As for staying above the recession, that couldn’t be farther from the truth, we have remained stagnant in wages in SF since the recession, even with the low unemployment rate. More kids are eating free lunches in the schools, food banks are expanding, and the common worker just can’t keep up. I know the hilltop that Mike lives on may be doing well, but the rest of Sioux Falls is struggling to keep their heads above water.

And the ending couldn’t be any better;

What’s your secret to success?

There wasn’t much confidence in this area back in late 2009, early 2010. Now, we have a confidence level that is off the charts. When you go in confident, there are amazing things you can accomplish.

Really?! Quite honestly, I accomplished more in Sioux Falls before 2009, then after. In fact, the road has been a bit rough since 2009, and I ask myself everyday if I will ever have extra money for emergencies.

We also tackled some quality of life obstacles that had been eluding us for generations. We built a $117 million event center we had been talking about forever that opened last fall. We just recently passed a $24 million indoor aquatics center we’ve been debating since 1951!

Who passed the aquatics center? It wasn’t on the ballot. In fact the last two times it was actually on the ballot, it failed.

Additionally, through a public-private partnership, we just opened an indoor ice complex, and in March is the ribbon cutting of an indoor tennis facility.

Without mentioning he had the audacity to plop his name on a facility taxpayers gave $500,000 to.

Once again, Hubris.


The I-29 and 85th St. Development ball is rolling

Came across this article today, maybe I lapsed reading about this getting this far in the local media, please correct me if I missed anything;

Lincoln County, S.D. fights for the right kind of road

​In today’s world of economic development, transportation is one of the key elements. Lincoln County, S.D. recognized this fact and became proactive in developing an interchange that would see 2,100 acres being developed into commercial, light industrial and residential areas that would profit two school districts, three communities and the county itself.

Lincoln County is located in the southeastern portion of South Dakota and includes part of Sioux Falls, the largest city in the state. Sioux Falls is a major trade area for a four-state region and boasts two large health care providers that are nationally recognized for their medical research.

The county has seen significant growth over the past 10 years, doubling in size to an urbancentered 50,000-plus population​ from a mainly rural population of 24,000. The transformation of this county to urban from rural has been a challenge for the Board of Commissioners, as has keeping a proper balance between the two and providing necessary funds to support this growth.
Interstate 29 runs the length of Lincoln County’s borders, which has provided for increased transportation opportunities. Just north of its boundaries is Interstate 90, running east and west. In addition to ground transportation, Lincoln County is fortunate to own a small regionally significant airport that has seen increased activity over the past several years. It has been used for commercial purposes attracting business usage.
Upon learning that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) was scheduled to provide an overpass on Interstate 29 for 85th Street, which would be a main artery for transportation into the city of Sioux Falls, a group of land owners petitioned the FHWA to consider an interchange instead of an overpass in order to open up opportunity for economic growth. Ascertaining that the interchange was not being considered by the Federal Highway Administration, the county engaged in a conversation with the South Dakota Department of Transportation to determine if arrangements could be made at a state and local level to provide for this interchange.
Commissioners Dale Long and Jim Schmidt held several meetings with the Department of Transportation​ Secretary Darrin Berquist and South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard (R). After several weeks of deliberation and negotiations, the end result was that the county would take the lead in borrowing $15
million to be combined with private investment of $4 million. The state provided the cash flow necessary to
secure the land for the interchange. The deal was struck.
This is the first time in the history of the state that a public-private partnership has been successfully put together for the sole purpose of economic development. One of the state legislators is further investigating
that this area be designated as an enterprise zone, which could further be a model for the rest of the state to follow.
NACo President Riki Hokama has made transportation one of the major planks in his administration. The challenge that counties face is to provide increased revenue to meet the demands that are placed upon them. Lincoln County is no exception. As the county looked towards its future, the commissioners
recognized that without continued economic growth they would be facing a revenue shortfall in the next
five to seven years.
Rather than waiting for this to happen, they acted on the opportunity that was presented to them to invest in
the future, increase their tax base and provide funds necessary for schools and communities.

Indoor Aquatic Center Public Meeting – Monday Night

Now that the location, funding and plans have been drawn up the only thing that is left is to start building, uh wait, that’s right, we should probably show the public what we are doing at the last minute;

A neighborhood meeting to discuss the indoor aquatic center at Spellerberg Park will be held on Monday, March 23, 2015, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Oyate Community Center, 2421 West 15th Street (adjacent to Garfield Elementary School). The public is encouraged to attend.

At the neighborhood meeting, members of the project team from TSP, Inc., Counsilman-Hunsaker & Associates, and Sioux Falls Construction will present updated plans of the indoor aquatic center, park site plan improvements, and the upcoming construction schedule.

It was nice of the city and parks department to actually let us see what we are spending our $24 million on just a few weeks before they break ground. I’m sure a copy of the MOU with the VA will be on display at the meeting also :(