Entries Tagged 'State Legislature' ↓

State Legislator Tom Holmes reviews the 2015-16 session

YouTube Preview Image

Tom Holmes spoke to the Minnehaha – Lincoln Republican Women’s luncheon on March 31, 2016. The assembled group heard Holmes discuss the events of the 2015-2016 South Dakota legislative term.

Why can’t the hospitality industry in Sioux Falls retain good workers? Greed.

hamburger

You get what you pay for

I will say it, the honeymoon is over. I knew there would come a day that we couldn’t keep building a restaurant on every street corner of this town and expect them to make a profit and last. Some would blame a worker shortage on the problem, I blame something else, a wage shortage.

It used to be easy to gather a group of unexperienced employees to run a restaurant in Sioux Falls, make huge profits, and leave those workers behind. Not anymore. There needs to be a change in philosophy, something I have often suggested in public employees. Hire quality employees, and pay them well, and they will do the work of 2-3 unexperienced employees that you pay half the wage to.

Don’t believe me? Well, I may not have owned a restaurant in my lifetime, but I have been working in them since I was 17 years old (almost 27 years). Over those years I have done it all, dishwasher, pasta maker, bus boy, line cook, fry cook, host and server. I even worked as a maintenance man. I’ve seen a lot, but the one thing that has always been a constant is that good employees who are paid well in the industry stick around, are usually never late and have great attendance. Money may not be the secret to happiness, but working in a customer service industry like food service is very demanding, but can be very rewarding if you are willing to do the job right.

About 5 years ago when I was in between full-time employment in the printing industry, I worked full-time as a server for 2 years. It wasn’t pleasant. It wasn’t the duties of the job that were hard, it was the way the employer treated me (a corporate franchise). Though I was the top earning hourly tipped out server and had $125K a year in sales, not only did my employer not give me a raise, they actually took almost 20% of my tips in a thing they call ‘tip share’. It is a scam that has been getting legal challenges across the country that forces tipped employees to subsidize non-tipped employees (like hosts, bussers and cooks). It saves these companies millions in wages, while killing the morality of their tipped employees who ironically are the front line of customer service for their business. Wouldn’t you want to be paying these people the best instead of robbing them of 20% of their income a year? It goes back to a change in philosophy.

The days where restaurants in Sioux Falls and across the nation can get away with poor pay, virtually no benefits and quite frankly abuse is coming to a close.

My advice is simple to anyone who wants to run a successful restaurant.

• Target your marketing to the customer base you want. Not only are good employees valuable, but so are good customers.

• Treat your employees like you would treat your customers. This one is important. Over the years I have seen good workers with good intentions get thrown under the bus because of a bad customer. In fact I quit my last serving job because of it. I don’t believe in the mantra that the ‘customer is always right’. In fact, 90% of the time, they are completely wrong. When I have been asked what to do with a bad customer, my answer is the same. Apologize to them, thank them for trying your place out, refund their money fully, then ask them to NOT return. I can’t tell you the number of times I have seen good employees get fired because a restaurant owner wants to save a BAD customer. Think about how senseless that is? Not only are bad customers bad for your bottom line, they affect the morality of your employees, and whether you ask them to return or not, they won’t anyway, and they will still talk smack about you either way. Asking them to not return is the smartest move.

• Pay all of your employees well, but also hire quality (experienced) people. I’m not just talking about front of the house, but I am also talking about hosts and dishwashers. Putting your employees on an even keel is the best way to keep peace in an industry known for unrest. There is nothing more frustrating for experienced employees who work their tail off getting paid the same as slackers they always have to carry the water for. Trust me, I believe in the team mentality, but that whole team has to be strong. It’s like links on a chain. Don’t coddle the slackers and reward the hard workers.

• Give customers something they will come back for. This one is very simple, give good service, provide a great product, and have a great ambiance and do it 110% of the time. With the saturation of restaurants in town, let’s face it, their are only so many customers to go around. And if they have one or two bad experiences, they may never return. This goes to how you run your operation. You wouldn’t hire a fisherman to run a battleship and vice versa. I have often joked with people for years, “500 restaurants in Sioux Falls, but not 1 decent place to eat.” Think about that for just a moment. Could you name 4-5 restaurants you have eaten in Sioux Falls where the food and service has been consistent 90% percent of the time? I can’t. And eliminate the price point. If I am going to eat out, price is not a factor, if I get something good in return. Put value in what you are putting out there, that means valuing your employees along with your product.

• Trust your employees. This one is huge. Never take the word of a stranger (your customers) over your employees, unless it is blatant they are lying. We all have bad days, that doesn’t make them bad employees. But there should also be REAL consequences to employees who screw up, which brings me to favoritism and nepotism. I see this all to often in the industry, in Sioux Falls it is like the Black Plague. Treat all of your employees the same while on the clock. There is nothing wrong with management being friends with their employees, but keep your love fest for each other off the clock.

The restaurant industry in Sioux Falls is on the cusp of collapse, I really believe that. My last job certainly proved that. This saturation of bad food and service cannot last and can only be tackled by higher wages to better employees. The industry doesn’t want to admit it, but they know eventually they are going to have to change. Quality people are available to work in the industry in Sioux Falls, I have worked with many of them throughout the years, but with quality people has to come quality wages.

But this isn’t just up to the industry, the legislature and the city council need to make some changes to the laws on the books. Years ago a team of well intentioned restauranteurs made their way to Pierre to change how employees in the industry get paid. Those guys are about ready to retire, and you can probably guess who they are. They have made millions on the backs of their employees by suckering the state legislature over the years. And they have strong allies that need to be persuaded to make changes to, like the Retailers Association and the Chamber of Commerce who are consistently anti-hospitality worker.

Here’s some quick changes that could be made;

• Eliminate the tipped employee minimum wage. It should be identical to all minimum wage earners. A tip should be an ‘extra’ a server or bartender gets for good service, it shouldn’t be 90% of their overall wages. Tips are too volatile.

• Eliminate the ‘tip share’. Allow tipped employees to keep 100% of their tips.

• Pay your front of the house employees the same as the back of the house. Harmony is a good thing.

• Hire more full-time employees, provide them benefits and PTO. A consistent workforce equals a consistent product. Keep hiring low-wage, part-time alcoholic stoners and you reap what you sow. By law, require restaurants to have a certain percentage of their workforce to be full-time.

I know, I have worked in a lot of places, and I can truly admit, not every restaurant runs perfectly. But blatantly ignoring the 700 pound gorilla in the room will only doom the industry in Sioux Falls eventually.

Pay better and hire better employees. It really is that simple.

I told you so?

epa0899l

I’m still spitting nails

This is the first of several stories we will be reading about how the Governor’s moronic, ignorant and mostly selfish plan to increase teacher pay falls short;

The legislation promised to give teachers significant raises and give South Dakota schools the ability to compete. But now that districts are doing the math, the Governor’s plan isn’t adding up.

I knew from the beginning, from the dirty track record of Rounds and Daugaard when it came to education funding, that his half-penny increase was a ploy to test the waters of a sales tax increase. Don’t we remember the same promises about Video Lottery?

While the half-penny increase will affect all of our wallets, you will soon see the funding to teachers diluted and the money basically going to property tax relief for the largest property owners in the state.

I warned of the precedent.

It’s easy to point our fingers at the Republicans for acting like a flock of sheep (well, not all of them), but it is the Democrats whose chickenshit votes to push this over a 2/3rds majority that really screwed the chicken on this one, when they all knew that there is millions in the education trust fund that could fill the gap of teacher pay WITHOUT RAISING TAXES!

What a mess, and the worst part about it is we will all be paying more for a broken plan that hasn’t even been implemented yet.

 

Tri-Valley first to pull a stupid

Well, we all knew it was coming, eventually, some po-dunk school in South Dakota would take up the state legislature on the School Sentinel law;

The Tri-Valley School District is considering a policy that could change the look of school safety in South Dakota.

On Monday night, the school board passed the first reading of a school sentinel policy that would allow the district to arm certain employees.

I guess I never expected a school that large to take up the suggestion. Either way, whether you are for or against this (I’m against it) it seems the school board was being sneaky about the way they went about it.

Like I said, there is mountains of evidence why this is a very bad idea, but let’s not talk about that.

The school board decided to try to sneak this under the radar;

The second and final reading of this policy will be on April 11, which is open to the public. 

Yes, they mentioned it in some agendas, but notice they took the first reading without any input. It should have not gotten to first reading if the media would have known about their intentions ahead of time.

Cory also points out the continuing secrecy;

The icing on this bad policy is the secrecy clause. Parents will have no right to know which staff are carrying deadly weapons in school. Parents get no check on the board’s decision, no opportunity to say, “Good grief! They let that yahoo carry a gun? I don’t think so!” Parents get no opportunity to pull their children from an armed teacher’s classroom and demand that their children be placed in classrooms where no guns are present.

I’m willing to bet that most parents would be against an armed sentinel at Tri-Valley, but I guess we will wait and see.

HB1182 passes senate, one of the most ignorant decisions the State Legislature has ever made

I have been following the state legislature for many years, and passing a regressive sales tax increase to give raises to one sector of public employment is probably one of the worst things I have seen our state legislature do in recent memory (besides all the social issues).

I won’t rant about all the other options we had to increase teacher pay without raising taxes, we have seen those options (there are hundreds). One of the best that was actually presented to me a few years ago by representative Hunhoff (who voted yes) was pulling from our gigantic state reserves. We didn’t hear much from Hunhoff on that idea this session. He must have forgotten about it.

So what happened? The only ones voting against this were the cheap skates of the legislature, who would vote against any tax increase. But what about the other Republicans? Are they so scared of property tax and and income tax that they voted to tax the poorest of our society more? Most likely.

But the big losers in this debate? The SD Democratic party. For years they cry about the food tax and general regression of sales taxes to begin with, and when they had a chance to stand up to this and present their own plan they suddenly turn into a gigantic flock of chickenshits.

It doesn’t surprise me our doofus of a governor would concoct such an ignorant plan, I just never imagined 2/3 of our legislature was this moronic to go along with it.

I’ll pray for you tonight.

Is Sioux Falls City Councilor Jamison going to run for State House?

g_jamison_2010

Dakota Wuss College confirmed that Greg will run for House in District 12, with no primary challenge at this point.

On the Democratic side, Casey Murschel is taking another run at it.

Greg and I had a rocky start when he first got on the council, in fact, I felt like his seat was a coronation from his father. But in his second term, I have felt he had come around and grown as a city legislator, and has become his own lawmaker, and I have appreciated his leadership over the past 4 years.

He would make a great legislator and be a strong voice for Sioux Falls in Pierre.

Last in Pay

One of the big arguments that comes up with bringing up teacher pay is bringing up the pay of other professionals. Is it fair to raise taxes on all of these OTHER professionals so teachers can get paid more? As I have said, it is purely ignorant to raise regressive sales taxes for teacher pay when the money is already there (heck, probably sitting in reserves). This is about presenting intelligent plans to raise teacher pay, not knee jerk reactions. People want this increase SO bad, they are willing to fall back on fiscally irresponsible and ignorant taxation plans to get it. That my friends is called GREED.

Let’s pay teachers more, but let’s pay everybody else more to, because if that happens, there will be plenty of school funding sources to go around.

I hope the sales tax plan fails on Monday, but I also hope a doable plan comes forward without raising sales taxes.

lastinpay

Cameraman Bruce’s Trip to Pierre, Part II-III, Feb 18, 2016

YouTube Preview Image

HB1195 is not more. It’s amazing how a simple idea to clean-up crappy government can get totally blown away by a lobbyist not understanding the issues. Oh well Cameraman Bruce will be back but better prepared to do the work.

A simple, clear and concise rule is already in state law to guide the SD Attorney General for writing statewide ballot language. I most local elections it is also followed but in Sioux Falls the overactive marketing department disguised as a city attorney’s office doesn’t think they need to follow the same rules.

Our Cameraman Bruce went to Pierre on February 18, 2016 to testify before the SD House Local Government Committee on three bills. This video is the second of three videos to show how the process works for other citizens wishing to present their testimonies to a legislative committee.

HB 1195 was placed in the hopper by District 15 Rep Patrick Kirschman to plug one of many loopholes Home Rule Charter communities are allowed to punched their way around.

YouTube Preview Image

Cameraman Bruce rounds out his trip to the House Local Government Committee in Pierre on February 18, 2015 with his testimony on HB 1196. This third bill before the committee was an attempt through legislation to plug another South Dakota Home Rule Charter hole.

HB 1196 was an attempt to close the purview hole found by petitioners. When a petition is submitted to a city attorney for ballot preparation, the city attorney and administration can change the meaning and intent without any oversight by the petitioners. The 2014 city election had the 4 ballot measures submitted by the public. The City Attorney modified each one and would not allow the public to challenge.

This is not acceptable and Citizens for Integrity went to Pierre to see how changes could be made to the process. This day in Pierre was not successful this time but as with any adventure, the first steps are sometimes the hardest. These issues will be addressed with more in the future. As we look into the continuing malfeasance of our higher government officials, we will find ways to counter.

The best parts of the day included the three videos and the shows of support we received behind the scenes in Pierre. Cameraman Bruce and his team will continue to move good government into the public eye. Home Rule Charter abuses must be countered.

Cameraman Bruce’s Trip to Pierre, Part I, Feb 18, 2016

YouTube Preview Image

Our Cameraman Bruce went to Pierre on February 18, 2016 to testify before the SD House Local Government Committee on three bills. This video is the first of three videos to show how the process works for other citizens wishing to present their testimonies to a legislative committee.

The three bills, HB 1194, HB 1195 and HB 1196 were placed in the hopper by District 15 Rep Patrick Kirschman to three of the many loopholes Home Rule Charter communities are allowed to push their weight around.

Sioux Falls with its over staffed City Attorney’s office and compliant City Council has become a trendsetter in abusing citizen rights. We have to close the doors to legalized citizen rights abuse through the poorly written Home Rule Charter. The individuals who put the Home Rule Charter on the 1994 ballot believed in the better values of the leaders so many guarantees we now need were never included.

When this legislation did not make it out of committee Bruce was disappointed but not defeated. This was his first legislative testimony since 1973, this experience has given new energy to how to fix many of the systemic abuses we have been uncovering.

Governor’s ‘Ignorant’ Pay Teacher plan fails by one vote

I guess I am not really elated, it should have failed by a lot more. There will be a reconsideration tomorrow. There was one excused vote today. It could still eventually pass.

I have said from the beginning any plan that uses an increase in sales taxes is short-sighted and fiscally irresponsible.

Think about it, just for a moment. While almost half of school kids in the SF School District get free or reduced lunches (because their parents are living in poverty and can’t afford to buy food) the solution for higher teacher pay is to RAISE the tax on food that these student’s parents can’t afford. I guess as long as teacher’s can afford to buy themselves lunch, the FEDs will continue to feed the needy.

There are options, SEVERAL options;

• Use 100% of lottery money to fund education by upping the state’s take.

• Equalize school administrator pay with teacher pay (we are 26th in the nation for admin pay).

• Reduce reserves of school districts and funnel that money towards teacher pay. I have never understood putting tax dollars in savings accounts. Either spend it, or give it back.

• Eliminate several sales tax exemptions like on advertising.

• Equalize ag land property taxes with urban taxes. Let’s face it, farming is more and more a corporate venture not a small family business.

• Implement more taxes on tourism.

We have options, hundreds of options. Raising taxes on food, utilities and clothing is short sighted and counter productive. Let’s raise teacher pay, but let’s do it in an educated way and responsibly.