South Dakota’s growing diversity, how this growing diversity has benefited and will continue to benefit South Dakota, and the need for the State Legislature to reflect this growing diversity both in its membership and in its legislation. Unlike the Republican Party, which has made clear how it feels about diversity through its fear-mongering and scapegoating at its National Convention, Democrats in South Dakota and around the country think our growing diversity is a source of strength, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
WHO: Michael Saba, District 9 House candidate, JR LaPlante, District 14 House candidate, and Clara Hart, District 6 House candidate
WHEN: Thursday, July 21 at 3:00 p.m.
WHERE: The Prairie West Branch of the Siouxland Libraries, 7630 W. 26th St., Sioux Falls, SD
I won’t ramble about Hillary vs. Trump, that will just make my head spin, but some interesting things did happen last night locally in the primary races.
For the first time since she was elected 12 years ago, Minnehaha County Treasurer, Pam Nelson will have a challenger in November. Kris Swanson won the Republican nomination against Pam’s Nephew in-law, Marlin something or another, even though Marlin didn’t live in Minnehaha county.
Pam has proven to be an advocate her 12 years as treasurer for the low-income elderly trying to stay in their homes and not being over burdened with the atrocious property tax increases over the last decade. Pam will also help anyone else who needs it, Pam has a couple of rules though, follow the law and don’t lie to her.
Speaking of people who don’t seem to know what county they live in, Dick Kelly lost by 13 votes to Dean Karsky in the Republican primary for Minnehaha county commission. This means Dick will not be up for re-election this November. I could go on a monster rant about how it is time for Dick to retire, but I will let his fellow county commissioners tell you their feelings on that. Besides Dick suffering through a heart transplant and being hard of hearing, it seems his time has come. It is also rumored he spends a majority of his time in his retirement residence in rural Spink county and not his voter registration residence in Sioux Falls. Maybe it’s time to say good bye to Mr. Kelly, it’s just unfortunate that he may be replaced by Dean Karsky, the do nothing city councilor, who I will predict will do the same nothingness on the county commission. Dean and Jean Bender will be up against Democrats Feinstein and Rust in November. The top two vote getters when the two open commission seats.
And something I refrained from talking about until after the election was the battle royale in District 15 between democrats Nesiba and Kirschman (Nesiba won). The Democratic party in SD can hardly get enough people together to play a game of solitaire let alone two challengers in a the same district for a primary. Instead settling this over a cup of coffee and a donut and saving funds for a November run they decided to hack it out in a primary.
Don’t get me wrong, I like both guys. Patrick has been an advocate for labor, and Reynold has been a strong advocate against government corruption (Round’s airplane kerfuffle) and pay day lending.
But it wasn’t about their common threads that had these two at each other. It was about abortion and gay rights. Ironic really, considering neither of them could choose to have an abortion, or are gay.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.