Changes for Levitt 2020

I first want to say that Nancy Halverson and crew knocked it out of the park. I think only 2 concerts had to be completely cancelled, and a couple, including Friday night’s show had to end early due to weather. We expected that.

While they planned on 30 concerts this year, they plan to have 50 next year, I’m excited about it.

Here are some changes I would like to see made next year to make Levitt even better;

Allowing people to bring their own beer or wine. I think it should be limited to that and NOT liquor. I also think that if people bring their own, they should have to get an ID badge. While JJ’s did a fine job, I think the city council could change the very simple ordinance that says Falls Park West (where the Levitt resides) to allow this. It really is as simple as an ordinance change.

Put in permanent bike racks. I think they could be easily be put in along the sidewalk on the West side of the restroom. I do know that FAB is working with the city to do something better and I appreciate it.

• Plant more shade trees around the grounds. I also think that they should get a sponsor to put an awning coming off the restroom to the East.

Take down bag search signs. You can’t search people’s bags without a warrant of probable cause. Maybe a sign that says “Suspicious bags subject to search.”

• No pets allowed. This of course would require a city ordinance that basically says pets are not allowed to the Levitt grounds area. JazzFest has NOT allowed pets for years. It’s not good for their health and they don’t want to be there anyway.

Have Friday and Saturday night concerts from 8-10 PM. It was disappointing to see a concert end at 9 PM right when the sun was going down. As I understand it noise ordinance is 11 PM.

• Move the restroom drinking fountains to the Eastside of the building. Those fountains sit in the sun ALL day long, I have never gotten a cold drink of water from them, at best tepid.

• Don’t bring a lawn chair if you don’t need to. This of course will be something people who are attending will have to do on their own. I never sat in a chair all season long and only sat on the ground a few times. Dance and enjoy yourself.

I think with some minor tweaks (I think Levitt will propose some of their own) the 2020 season will be fantastic.

Kory & the Fireflies played the last show of the season last night.

I don’t think they would like to see my selfie

A Sioux Falls Constitutional Lesson on the 1st Amendment

While I don’t recommend anyone tell the police to ‘F’ck Off’ while they are working on a traffic issue, it is perfectly legal to do so as long as the person isn’t interfering in their work. The person in the video below did say some ‘mean’ things, but he wasn’t interfering with the traffic investigation. He was also on a public sidewalk. In fact the PD were about to leave when they decided to attack him.

I keep telling the city a big 1st Amendment case is coming, if not several, and they are really screwed on this one. This is why they should all have body cameras, because these kind of arrests would start going away once officers start getting fired.

The first video is the incident (lots of cussing BTW) and the second video is the cameraman asking the PD what happened.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, August 13, 2019

City Council 2020 (2nd) Budget Hearing, 3 PM

Budget presentations on Health, Fire, Police, Parking, Planning, Housing, and Transit.

You can see a copy of the Mayor’s proposed budget summary HERE.

City Council Regular Meeting, 7 PM

Item #14, 1st Reading, Ordinance to reimburse the city $1 million from FEMA.

Item #26, Resolution, Stehly and Starr are asking if people can donate their parking fines to Project SOS. I’m opposed to this. While I think it is great if people want to give their money to Project SOS I don’t think it should come at the detriment of the city. While I think parking fines are too high already, their is a reason we have them, to fund our parking system. If anyone should be funding school supplies, it should be the School District. I have often thought that schools should supply kids with the bare necessities if they cannot afford them. But instead they are handing out 16% raises while we have to have bake sales to pay for school lunches and now parking fines for school supplies.

Item #27, Resolution, the city council is moving forward with their 2020 legislative priorities, including promoting TIFs even though they have never conducted a study proving they provide ANY economic impact.

Best Levitt picture

It was a great season, only 2 concerts got fully cancelled (?) and tonight’s concert ended after about 4 songs due to lightning and rain. One more tomorrow night to wrap it up with local rockers Kory & the Fireflies.

I took this picture last night of the accordion player from the High Kings.

And I saved all my drink tickets from the concerts. Ironically, the guy who complained about not being able to bring his own beer bought quite a few drinks.

Corruption, Incompetance and Blatant Ignorance

After hearing about the settlement yesterday in the Copper Lounge collapse, we got the verification we all knew was true, Legacy and Hultgren were attached at the hip. Duh.

So when you read the headline in this blog post, you probably think I am talking about Aaron Hultgren or Norm Drake, I am NOT. They are beyond help.

I’m talking about the city councilors/mayors who approved the Bunker Ramp deal to begin with.

It is very irritating and frustrating to listen to some of the members of the RS5 blow off the bunker ramp as just a ‘bad decision’ and that they are not perfect and sometimes make ‘mistakes’.

I would qualify NOT giving a movie theater a beer license as a ‘mistake’ or ‘bad decision’. Something that can be easily passed later, and even if it isn’t, it doesn’t harm anyone. The bunker ramp is a COLASSAL F’UP! Taxpayers are currently paying $1.5 million a year in bond payments for a parking ramp that is unoccupied and will be for a very long time. We may have to dip into the 2nd penny to help make these payments.

The evidence and writing was ON THE WALL! There was mountains of evidence that shouldn’t have passed, but out of pure arrogance a majority passed it anyway.

I am still awaiting at least an apology from those who voted for it, but I still think there needs to be greater consequences. They essentially committed FRAUD on the taxpayers by supporting a project they knew would never happen and the current and past mayor are also to blame. There is also a ton of past and present city employees who helped ramrod it through.

I would like to see a recall and termination of all involved that still work for the city. But there is something you can definitely do this Spring. You can make sure that councilors Selberg and Neitzert don’t get re-elected, and if they had any sense at all, they wouldn’t run for re-election (I do know that both of them already have STRONG challengers waiting in the wings). I would also suggest to re-elect councilors Starr and Stehly who opposed this from the beginning.

We all know that elected officials often make ‘mistakes’ and are not ‘perfect’. But when you have so much evidence showing you it would be a bad decision and you pass it anyway, you have to wonder what kind of corruption is going on behind the scenes. Maybe we get lucky and the Feds that are investigating the building collapse will investigate the city for attempting to go into business with Legacy. We can only hope!

FAQ’s about Triple Check the Charter

Many people have been asking me questions about the petition, and what it would do and why. So here are some of my answers (I will try not to editorialize.)

Q: Why are all 3 charter amendments packaged into one?

A: Originally we thought we were going to have to do 3 separate petitions, but since all three of the amendments/changes are in the SAME section in the charter, it is unneeded.

Q: What if I like 1 or 2 of the amendments but not the other ones?

A: Since all 3 of these items are in the same section, it is essential that they ALL pass or fail together. In other words, for these amendments to actually change the charter positively they have to pass together.

Q: Why change the council elections back to simple plurality?

A: Besides the fact that former councilor Rex Rolfing should have never changed it to begin with, in the original charter, it was simple plurality. It also saves the taxpayers money in expensive run-off elections, and makes it more affordable for ‘regular’ citizens to run for office.

Q: Why take the mayor off the city council and eliminate the tie-breaker vote?

A: Historically, in cities larger than 50K, who have home rule charters, the mayor is NOT a part of the council. And even in our charter, as a strong mayor, the mayor, no matter who they are, shouldn’t be involved in council business. In the charter currently it is spelled out that the mayor’s chief duty is to run the daily operations of the city, and city staff. He is welcome to suggest policy changes to the city council, but he really shouldn’t be voting on them. Currently, that is how it works for the council (the legislative/policy body of the city). City councilors CANNOT tell city staff what to do (only their staff, which consists, I believe 8 people). Why? Because they are in charge of making policy and the purse strings. This is also spelled out clearly in the charter. Even with this change, the Mayor will still have veto power (which I think IS important).

Q: What will happen if the mayor is removed from council and there is tie vote (4/4)?

A: The item will then FAIL. It will require a simple majority (5) to pass any items (unless it is judicial, etc, which requires 6 votes. Overturning VETOES also requires 6 votes).

Q: How will requiring a super-majority for bonding make passing bonds BETTER?

A: I believe, this is the most important amendment out of all three. Essentially, the first duty of any elected official is protecting the taxpayers from irresponsible spending. We saw this with the City Administration building and the Bunker Ramp. This will get the council to work harder on consensus. IMO, I think ANY bonding should get the support of ALL 8 councilors, but this is good first step.

Q: Will there be a dollar amount attached to the bonding passage requirement?

A: NO. Whether the city wants to bond for $1 or $100 million dollars, it will require a super-majority of 6 votes. IMO, I think any bonds over $20 million should be approved by voters. But this is a good first step.

Q: Will the changes be on the Spring city election ballot?

A: Maybe. Our hope is that we collect enough in time to call a special election (required by charter) in or around Dec-Feb. If it passes, the changes would be immediate.

Q: Why not just have the Charter Revision Commission put these changes on the ballot?

A: I would agree, that would be ideal instead of a long and messy petition process. But as CRC Chair Justin Smith said during last year’s CRC meetings, he feared putting anything on the ballot because it would likely pass. Unfortunately, that shouldn’t be the CRC’s concern, they should only be concerned if a proposed amendment is LEGAL or not, that is why several lawyers, including Smith, are appointed to the commission. His comments lead us to believe they have NO desire to put anything on the Spring ballot except for minor lanquage changes required by state law. I may be wrong, but I have watched the CRC for several years, and a majority of the members rarely like to ‘make waves’. I have also watched the current chair slowly build a compelling case as to why he doesn’t want to put anything on the ballot. It’s unfortunate, but like our inept state legislature, it looks like the only way to make positive change is thru petitioning.

If you have any other questions, leave them in the comment area.

Thursday Tidbits

BUSINESS JOURNAL EDITOR BAILS

It seems Jodi Schwan’s replacement may be seeing the writing on the wall and is leaving the Argus at the end of the month to be a health reporter for FORUM communications.

MAYOR TENHAKEN WANTS TO KEEP HIS POWER (THAT HE REALLY DOESN’T HAVE)

It seems the mayor doesn’t think the changes to the charter are necessary, and in some respects he is correct, because if the past mayors and himself would follow the charter to begin with, we wouldn’t have to make these changes. Let’s go over this again, the Mayor is in charge of running the city and following policy, the city council creates and implements that policy. But since him and his predecessors cannot follow rules, we have to make those changes on our own.

MORE SH*T TO HIT THE FAN WITH THE COPPER LOUNGE BUILDING COLLAPSE.

You know what they say, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings, and today we

found out she has yet to sing her song. While the insurance companies settled, the city and engineering firm are still not out of the clear. The FEDS also have to finish their investigation. We still have a few more hurdles to cross. And as you can see, Legacy was tied to the building collapse (DUH) this is why the council was warned about approving the bunker ramp.

Sioux Falls Earth Citizens, Speak up to help preserve and improve Sioux Falls’ fixed-route bus system.

By Cathy Brechtelsbauer, earth citizen • 8/1/19

A “Core Team” of city employees has been discussing re-vamping the bus system. They presented to city council on July 16 (4pm meeting) their proposal to pilot an “on demand” system, rather than improve the fixed-route service. The proposal would expand service area and hours but admits to focusing generally on current riders. A computer system would determine routing for 9 buses (down from the current 26) picking up and dropping off people at locations within 3 blocks of their start and destination.

Public transportation plays an important role in confronting environmental challenges. Public transportation can:

• Improve air quality

• Reduce greenhouse gas emissions

• Facilitate compact development, conserving land and decreasing travel demand

• Save energy

• Other benefits (such as affordable mobility, congestion relief, economic development.) [Federal Transit Administration website]

Our concerns:

1. Sioux Falls has not expanded bus service to match the growth of the city. Nor has Sioux Falls tried a major bus ridership campaign.

2. A new plan must be able to start from day one serving at least current riders. We sure don’t want to lose riders.

3. Transportation is now the #1 source of greenhouse gas emissions. Any plan must help SiouxFalls do its part to turn the tide on climate change. It must have strong potential for increased ridership, even if part of the service is devoted to hard-to-reach places and times. Fixed-route systems have more potential for environmental benefit than on demand systems. The proposal, as presented, includes no goal about increasing ridership or about reducing our carbon footprint.

4. On demand transit is being piloted in a number of cities, with results so far that question efficiency and financial stability. Compare typical 10-40 passenger trips/hour for our fixed routes (Only one route in Sioux Falls averages less.) to on-demand pilots, which yield up to 3 passenger trips per service hour.

5. A fixed-route system is needed for those who can manage fixed route buses but cannot handle changeable routings. For example, people with cognitive impairments can learn where and when to catch the bus to get to appointments and also to get home, as can people without phones. Their independence is diminished if fixed routes are lost. With fixed-routes, riders can know arrival times needed in order to plan their rides.

“The number of people who use transit is directly linked to transit’s ability to provide environmental benefits.” [Federal Transit Administration website]

A 3-City Bus Ride Snapshot: Arlington, Missoula, Sioux Falls Arlington TX and Missoula MT were the only other cities mentioned at the July 16 City Council informational meeting, where an update on the Core Team’s progress was presented and seemed decided to pilot an on-demand system for Sioux Falls.

Arlington TX did not have public transit until starting its on demand “Via” system in late 2017. (A 4-route Trolley system serves only hotel guests.) Arlington uses 13 Via vans and also contract vehicles during peak times. They also have Paratransit. Population: 396,394 Average rides on Via, April-June 2019: approx. 16,000/month

Missoula MT “Mountain Line” uses a fixed route system that has been Zero-fare since 2014. Local businesses and organizations are “partners” by donating funds to cover the fares. They also have Paratransit. Population: 73,340 Average fixed-route rides in 2018: approx. 131,000/month

Sioux Falls’ Sioux Area Metro (SAM) has both fixed-route and Paratransit. Population: 176,888 Average fixed-route rides in 2018: approx. 65,000/month

This snapshot gives us pause about the on demand proposal and the confidence to suggest that the Sioux Falls planning team consider a ramped up, even a zero-fare fixed-route system.

The Core Team has given time and energy so far, and we hope there is willingness to keep considering more ideas. In addition, the City Council should insist that our bus system both meet needs of vulnerable citizens and expand service and ridership enough to reduce our carbon footprint.

How to contact City Council: www.siouxfalls.org/council/members has names, phone and email contact info. Emails: jbrekke@siouxfalls.org, cerickson@siouxfalls.org, gneitzert@siouxfalls.org, mselberg@siouxfalls.org, csoehl@siouxfalls.org, pstarr@siouxfalls.org, tstehly@siouxfalls.org, rkiley@siouxfalls.org, PTenHaken@siouxfalls.org

Public input at Council meetings the first 3 Tuesdays each month, 7pm. One letter can be sent for all the council: City Council, 235 W 10th St, Sioux Falls SD 57104

City of Sioux Falls sees Major Increases in Wages & Benefits

Looks like the city is taking a page from the school district in ‘top heavy’ wages to directors and administration. This data comes from City Council staff.