Entries Tagged 'Taxes' ↓

IM 25 is a bad way to fund education

Forget the fact that IM 25 will probably become a slush fund for state government, it is a horrible way to fund Technical education.

Am I against increasing tobacco taxes? Not at all, if the money was directed at cessation, prevention, healthcare or even drug treatment programs, I would be all for it.

So the question remains, how do we fund Technical education? The first question we have to answer is “Why is South Dakota the highest in the region for tuition?” My educated guess (no pun intended) is because of high administrative costs and staffing. I know the teachers are NOT making highest wages in the region, in fact most tech teachers make less than K-12 instructors.

So after we get that part straightened out, how do we get costs down for the students? I think it is simple. First, make apprentice programs easier, and pay the apprentice. Many of these students could skip technical education all together and start in these jobs right out of HS.

As for the more technical skills for the medical field, electronics, engineering, etc. make the industries that need these positions the most pay into a scholarship fund that students can apply for with the agreement they will work in SD for so many years.

If we want extra money for tech schools, shouldn’t the employers who need these employees pay into a special fund or tax since they are the ones benefitting from reduced tuitions with skilled labor? Seems like an easy solution that makes sense.

Still don’t know how they linked tobacco to tech schools. Of course, we only have to look at the clown who cooked this up, Former Lord of the Lords, Mark Mickelson who wants to make money off of the backs of poor smokers. Some things never change in South Dakota, the business elite want handouts and welfare and they want the poor to pay for it.

And this is why IM 25 is Lame, just like it’s creator. VOTE NO!

UPDATE: If you watch the Rotary debate today, both Noem and Sutton voted against IM 25 and cited some of the same reasons I stated above for voting against it (and I posted this before watching the debate – HA!)

UPDATE: SFSD sends $100 million in interest payments to East Coast Bond Investors

UPDATE: It was fun watching the SFSD Board Meeting in which they quickly glazed over the finances so they could have a 10 minute presentation about marching band (don’t get me wrong, it was a great presentation) I just thought talking about tax payers expenses would have garnered the same attention.

When they did get to the Demographic report where they mentioned almost 50% of students are on Free or Reduced lunches, Board Member Kate Parker said, “We need to talk about that one of these days?” Well since this has been on the climb for almost a decade, when will that ‘magically day’ come Kate? When it hits 70%, 80% or maybe 90%? It always chaps my hide when we are constantly screaming teachers need to get paid more in SD (I agree, they do) but all wages in this state need to rise, so parents of these students can afford to feed their children, rising tides raises all boats.

As I predicted before the school district bond election, we were going to take out bonds which would cost around $100 million in interest payments over 20 years. Those interest payments DON’T go towards education, they DON’T go towards teacher pay, programming, or even building the new facilities. They go towards East Coast bond investors.

This was the fundamental issue with the bonding. We could have bonded less, built the schools we need now AND paid for the future schools through Capital Outlay. We would have still had to pay bond investors, but it would have saved us about $50 million. I will say it again, I am all for public education, I am even NOT against my taxes going up for it. But with all of our growth in SF we can pay for these projects as we need them with the current tax structure. We don’t need to line the pockets of Bond Investors.

50% of Capital Outlay goes towards debt service

This finance report is very telling;

Over half of our current Capital Outlay goes towards debt service. No where in the reports can I find the school district’s current debt (before taking out $300 million in bonds). But my educated guess is somewhere between $100-200 million. This would have been an important side note before we took out even more debt before the election.

Demographics Report of the SFSD

It seems we have a lot of smart people in the District educating our very poor student body;

As you can see, the more students that are enrolled in our elementary system need more assistance.

*What I also find interesting about posting the Monday agenda for the SFSD board meetings is that the final documents and attachments don’t get updated until Sunday. Is it because a school district employee is posting these docs on Sunday? Probably not. There is this little trick with the internets where you can ‘time stamp’ postings. I do it all the time with my blog. In other words I can schedule a post well in advance by using a ‘time stamp’. This tells me the District has this information in advance but chooses to post it only 24 hours before the public can view it. Why do they do that? Well that is a very good question.

UPDATE: Is the TenHaken Administration getting ready to get ‘TIFaliscious’?

Well, that wasn’t to tough, they got Brian Allen at KSFY to roll over and talk about how great TIFs are. Funny, the important part missing from Allen’s story, the actual economic impact;

A KSFY review of active Tax Increment Financing projects in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota shows there is a dramatic drop-off in TIF usage.

You know why? Because several studies have been done showing they have very little economic impact. I also find if comical that Allen only interviewed PRO TIF folks and NO one who is against them. I also like how some in the interview talk about how South Dakota does them ‘different’. Good stuff. Yet there has been NO extensive study done in South Dakota showing the actual economic impact of them. Why? Because the results would be grim.

What other people don’t realize is that when we give wealthy developers TIFs we all pay more in property taxes to supplement them to fund things like our counties, cities and public education.

I think the TenHaken administration is gearing up to start handing them out, literally like candy. His COS, Beck, wrote the Sanford Sports Complex TIF while working for the city (the largest in state history) and she also wrote the most recent one while working for Lloyd Companies for the Cascade project that is mostly marketplace apartments.

Tonight the city is hiring a finance director who worked for the Costello Companies (a major developer in SF) who is also an expert in TIFs.

It is pretty clear to me they are getting us prepped and they are probably chiding our local media behind the scenes to talk about the ‘positivity’ of TIFs.

Let’s face it, they are simply a tax rebate for private developers who could easily pay the taxes with or without the TIF. We don’t have a growth problem in Sioux Falls. In fact we are developing so much and building so fast we can’t hire people fast enough. The city council even gave SE Tech $100K for more job training programs. This tells me we don’t need to be subsidizing growth and development in Sioux Falls, it actually tells me we need to find ways to slow this growth and concentrate on SMART-STEADY growth not FAST URBAN SPRAWL.

The TIF model in itself isn’t a bad idea, but I think it should be applied to cleaning up neighborhoods. Giving tax rebates to single family homeowners and small apartment owners to clean up the neighborhoods would be a better approach, and it would be a visible economic impact. When individuals have to spend less on taxes and divert that money to improving their properties and lives that means they spend more money on other things that help with sales tax revenue that truly impacts our community. Businesses who use TIFs to expand their businesses don’t pay sales taxes, they just collect them. Give the rebates to individuals who will actually use them to improve lives and contribute to sales tax revenue.

Let’s face it, TIFs right now are truly ‘Corporate Welfare’ and not much else.

UPDATE: Did anyone catch Dusty Johnson in the interview? Mr. Fiscal Conservative ANTI-WELFARE wants to raise the Social Security age gladly preaching the ‘WINS’ about TIFs? We know exactly what Dusty would do in Congress, handout to big business while stepping on the little guy. If I was the Bjorkman campaign I would be clipping this little piece of corporate welfare pie for a future TV commercial.

Harrisburg School District proposing a $40 Million bond with NO tax increases

I know, you must be scratching your head a little, as am I. How can the Harrisburg school district propose a $40 million dollar bond without a tax increase? Oh, I don’t know, it’s that little thing called GROWTH!

Rasmussen said there are enough new homes and businesses in the district to support the proposed $40 million dollar bond vote without increasing taxes.

This was my argument about the SFSD bond, with record breaking building permits for over 6 years and the massive growth in Sioux Falls, why would we have to increase property taxes for our bond? Or better yet just build the schools out of the capital outlay without bonding and paying a $100 million in interest. How can a small community like Harrisburg figure out this simple math problem and NOT Sioux Falls? Sometimes arrogance gets in the way of prudence.

I think it would be safe to assume that the Harrisburg bond will pass the 60% threshold easily, especially with NO tax increases. It will just be interesting to see if they hit 85%. Yeah right.

UPDATE: All I asked was to audit the School Board Election

If you watch my testimony (FF:32:30) you will see that all I did was ask questions about how the vote was counted, presented historical data from other elections and asked to audit the election (see the processes, the software used, the paperwork from vote transfers and who entered the numbers in the system). The school board refused to answer any of the questions I asked. Never once did I say I thought they cheated I only questioned the precedent and would like to see the evidence. I even ended by saying that they may have reached the 85% precedent. I don’t know, I don’t have the evidence, it is locked up with the ballots according to the school district official who handled the election Bev Chase. In fact after the meeting Bruce and I asked if we could examine the ballots. She said NO. She also claimed she told the (TV) news that she was shredding the 2017 ballots. The news may have edited her, so I will take her word. But in the next breath she said she is keeping the school bond ballots for 6 years. So if you are keeping those ballots for 6 years why are you destroying the 2017 ballots? Made no sense at all.

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UPDATE: First the important business. A shout out to friend of the blog and KSOO Host, Patrick Lalley for defending me today and open government. It meant a lot. He hasn’t put the replay up yet, but his comment about ‘Soviet Election Results’ was very comical.

Also another shout out to Stace Nelson for defending me on the tweet machine;

It is absolutely the right of a taxpayer to question their government & demand answers. In a state that has covered up hundreds of millions of $ in corruption in EB5 & GEAR Up? had a right to ask the questions and receive answers. Why not machine count?

As for Stace’s comments on machine counting, I got an update from someone who talked to the Minnehaha county auditor on the ‘cancelled contract’ statements from the SFSD. I guess Mr. Litz was asked to handle the absentee but not the election. Litz felt this would complicate things with the verification process and he would prefer to run the entire election (absentee and regular election) or not at all. We know the choice the school district made.

Also, a city official asked the City Clerk, Tom Greco today what he would do if a citizen asked to look at the ballots from the last election? He said, he would let them look at them.

Funny how the County Auditor and City Clerk have no qualms about the work they did. Why? Because when you have checks and balances in place, you don’t need to worry about a citizen review.

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Besides NOT answering my questions or giving me the information I need to put this to rest, board member Mickelson said that I was accusing them of manipulation and it was my duty to provide evidence or proof. Um, maybe I am missing something here, but YOU hold the evidence and Bev Chase refused to give it to us.

It is a sad day in a democracy when the citizens who vote and pay taxes are not allowed to examine the processes of the election. It is even sadder that they couldn’t even answer my questions in a public forum. Petitions get challenged all the time in South Dakota. This doesn’t mean people don’t trust the process, it only means we want to check the process. I find it incredibly hypocritical of Mickelson getting upset over challenging the results of the election when her husband Mark led the charge to overturn the will of the voters on IM 22, claiming it was ‘Unconstitutional’ (even though the Supreme Court didn’t get a chance to review it) and voters were ‘hoodwinked.’ So I guess what Cynthia was telling me is that ONLY the House of Lords in Pierre have the power to challenge and overturn elections, the peasants be damned.

All I saw tonight was a lot of guilt, and ironically the main players in the election (school staff) sat mysteriously quiet while the school board defended them. Cat must of had their tongues.

I would even be comfortable with Bev Chase releasing a public statement telling us the processes they used, who counted the votes, how they were entered into the system and a sampling of how the software worked. They can’t even give us that. Why?! It seems incredibly silly to me to get so angry because we are asking how the election was handled. Is that some kind of top secret information? All we have at this point is a short FB video from Brady Mallory. Why not clear the air?

Through the beginning of the meeting when they were talking about the schools they were going to build, the locations and announcing the architect (Architecture Inc.) it seemed like a forgone conclusion that this would pass.

In the parking lot before the meeting Vernon Brown came up from behind me and said, “85 is my new favorite number.” I laughed and said, “Yeah, 85%.” Then I said, “About time Ellie won something.” Ellie Highstreet who received $21K to consult the Vote Yes campaign was Jim Entenman’s campaign consultant. That in itself should tell us something.

Like I said, it is impossible for me to say whether or not the 85% mark is accurate until we have a chance to audit and examine all the election documentation and processes. Historically in other similar elections in and around Sioux Falls it has never happened. But there is a first time for everything, unfortunately we may never know, because as they inferred many times tonight, “Just trust them, they’re good people.” I do trust people, but I trust the numbers more. Numbers don’t lie.

Sioux Falls School Board to canvas election at Monday’s meeting

Here is the agenda – minus the documentation.

This is the time to come and speak about how the election was handled and publicly challenge the election results. I hope to show up with data supporting my argument that an 85% approval rating for a $300 million dollar school bond is historically impossible.

SFSD claims they only basically spent $7,000 on election

Just when you thought the 85% passage of the bond was a little questionable, the zingers keep coming from the district, this one is golden;

And the district used a new, computerized voter check-in system to verify registered voters and poll books throughout the day, which cost about $38,000 from a vendor called Everyone Counts. It was included in the overall $45,000 price of the election, Konrad said.

So what Konrad is basically saying is that after purchasing software for the E-Poll books from Everyone Counts, they only spent $7,000 on everything else. What is everything else?

  • Printing Ballots
  • Paying poll workers not just for the day of the election but training
  • Transporting Ballots
  • Rental fees associated with voting centers
  • Office supplies needed to run election

Either Konrad got the math wrong or they dipped into regular school budget, but there is NO way in Heckluva they ran an election, even with 13 precincts for $7,000.

Besides the supposed thrifty nature of the SFSD (they should really do seminars on how to save so much money running an election) they didn’t seem to think poll watchers were needed;

Poll watchers were the responsibility of the campaign parties if the district wasn’t going to employ them, but no one checked in at any voting location to say they were poll watchers on Election Day, district spokeswoman DeeAnn Konrad said.

Why on earth would the political parties send in poll watchers for a BOND (non-partisan) election?! YES, it was your responsibility to put a call out to the political parties to bring in these volunteers (paid or otherwise). Baffling.

We didn’t have any issues with it being hand counted (though machine tabulation would have been better) We have an issue with WHO counted it;

As far as district employees counting ballots goes, district spokeswoman and ballot counter Carly Uthe, acknowledged most counters were tied to the district with few volunteers.

Uthe also said each counter was required to go through training beforehand and to sign an oath ahead of time, swearing counters and election officials would abide by election laws.

Konrad presented copies of the signed oaths to the Argus Leader on Wednesday.

“The oath says,’I will abide by the Constitution of the United States,” Konrad said. “There’s no wiggle room there.”

It would have looked WAY more ethical if you would have used volunteers. Not sure what swearing on the US Constitution has to do with counting ballots, I guess I missed that part in Civics class. But even if they used district employees to count the ballots, it was the final step that concerned us. From watching Mallory’s video, it looks to me that after a stack is counted that number is written down on a piece of paper and given to 2 SFSD district administrators, Morrison and Kreiter. Were these pieces of paper saved so they could be audited?

Ultimately, there isn’t much legally we can do to investigate how they ran the election. They did follow state law(s). But if the SFSD really wants to put this to bed, they would allow an independent group to examine the ballots and recount them. It also would be helpful to get a demonstration on how the software worked. Until this election can be properly audited, any excuses the SFSD has doesn’t mean a hill of beans.

UPDATE II: How much money do you think ‘Vote Yes for Schools’ raised/spent?

UPDATE: My prediction as of 8 PM tonight is that there will be around 11,000 voters for the bond issue or around 12%. The school district is saying 30%. I also still think it will pass by 62%

UPDATE II: Super shady school district managers watching the vote counting. Notice Morrison and finance person in this video. I have NO confidence in this vote. More and more I think this is rigged. Why are we allowing SFSD employees to tabulate the vote into the system? There has to be some kind of election laws against this?

Look at what Mallory is saying, Morrison and Krieter are putting the vote count into the computer. WTF?!!!! Earlier Bev Chase (in charge of the election) said they will destroy the ballots after the election.

Video

While everyone got their panties in a bunch over the robocall yesterday from Citizens for Integrity, nobody has a clue how much money was spent by ‘Vote Yes’.

The robocall yesterday was the FIRST and ONLY call from Citizens for Integrity. I still have NO idea who was doing the live push poll to vote NO a few weeks earlier.

The little research I have done with school bond elections is that committees may not have to say how much money they raised or who gave it to them. But I also know that has to do with the size of the district. Hopefully with the size of our district there will be financial reports, but at this point I’m not sure.

My guess is that the ‘Vote Yes’ campaign probably raised between $60-100K. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know BEFORE the election how much money was raised/spent and who gave to the campaign. It would have been helpful information for voters before they voted no matter how the vote goes.

As I always say, “Follow the Money”. If this passes tonight, there will be a lot of people laughing all the way to the bank, and it won’t be teachers or parents of students, and certainly not the lowly tax payer like myself.

Did the Bond Election follow proper election protocol?

PRESS RELEASE from Citizens for Integrity

As a clean and open election advocate for 52 years I have made some observations concerning the September 18, 2018 Sioux Falls School Bond election. These observations are my opinions based on being part of the process from the 1960’s into the age of computer based elections. The insight I have gained into the deeper workings of modern elections was dealt with when I was Chairman of the Minnehaha County Election Review Committee in 2015.

In these years of observing and partaking in elections in South Dakota, I have seen some interesting election practices but I have never witnessed this elections poor practices. We must fight every day to keep elections fair to all participants, so we as citizens can accept the final outcomes as the voter’s choice.

This election may be the worst organized election I have witnessed in my life.

I have personally witnessed during absentee voting process:

1.       No South Dakota Secretary of State Office direct support or oversight of election process

2.       An unknown vendor support for computer based poll books

3.       No audit trail capability to verify the number of ballots issued and who voted absentee at IPC

4.       Single clerk voter check-in of voters

5.       No printed poll book at IPC absentee voting or any voting location to verify voter check-in

6.       Voter check-in process with no hard copy verification by secondary individual

7.       Voter check-in on a computer with the voter not able to verify data entered

8.       Poll workers admitted no previous experience working an election

9.       Voter check-in required voters to fill in absentee envelops with little guidance from inexperienced clerk

10.   No label printers used in previous elections to guarantee legibility for absentee voting audits

11.   Questionable ballot marking instructions

12.   The election polling locations are disproportionally located in the southern part of the Sioux Falls school district leaving citizens north of 6thstreet with no convenient polling place

13.   The Minnehaha County Election Review Committee recommendations for consistency in voting locations was ignored for election day

I am an advocate of hand counting and / or verifying ballot results when our election choices are controlled by machines. This election will be forever tainted no matter what the results are.

Bruce Danielson

Citizens for Integrity

PO Box 491

Sioux Falls, SD 57101

FAX: (605) 334-9511

Cell: (605) 376-8087

Email: bruce@citizens4integrity.org

VOTE ‘NO’ on School Bond Robo-Call

I guess this Robo-Call went out this afternoon. I guess better late than never.

A task force member also posted a video on FB today telling people to vote NO because of the bait and switch by the SFSD. I know exactly what she is talking about. In meeting #3 they told the Task Force they would have options to present in meeting #4 and when they got there those options were OFF the table and only one remained for $190 million.

Please remember the Sioux Falls School District already has two property tax opt outs.

Posted by Mary Scheel-Buysse on Monday, September 17, 2018