Why Bernie Sanders’ strategy is important

Do I think for a moment that if Sanders becomes president that he will get Medicare for all? Free higher education? Universal childcare?

Not for a second.

A couple of hurdles first. I don’t think Sanders gets the nomination until he can secure Super Tuesday, which I think he will.

He also has to beat Trump, which I think is possible.

But the Senate and Congress both have to have big wins with the Democrats in November to secure Sanders’ agenda.

Okay, so let’s pretend Sanders is sworn is as president #46 and the Dems control both houses. What than?

What has been frustrating me the most is that we ‘need a moderate’ for the Democratic Presidential Nominee. If there is one thing we don’t need, is a moderate. We tried that strategy last time, progressives were not energized and they didn’t vote in key states. Many polls showed after the election in 2016 if Sanders would have been the nominee he would have beat Trump. Sanders is just as progressive today as he was back then. Little has changed with Bernie, and that is why so many people support him.

Moderate candidates want to continue to sell you the ‘status quo’ like expanding the ACA and making college education ‘more affordable’. Whatever that looks like.

What Sanders is proposing is we ask for the most and negotiate down from there. Isn’t that what you do when buying or selling a house? A car? You don’t ask for the least and expect to get what you really want. When I see the moderate candidates argue their agenda in this way, I just shake my head.

Sanders knows he won’t get all he is asking for, but if you don’t ask, you will never know.

What I think will happen is a deal where people can sign up for Medicare if they don’t want their private insurance. Personally, I think it will be so wildly popular that within 5 years you will see very few people keeping private insurance unless they are super wealthy. The best and most efficient way to solve our healthcare crisis in this country is by covering everyone, 100%. This would achieve this goal. This is what is mandated in Germany.

As for free college education, keep dreaming Bernie. But what I do see is free technical education, and maybe half of college tuition covered with maybe government loans at 0 or 1% interest. I could see a scenario that if you are at a certain income level, college would be more affordable or partially free.

As for universal childcare, this could be achievable, but there are a lot of moving parts. Personally I am opposed. Having children is essentially a choice, and when you make that decision, you should be prepared to make sacrifices financially. What I could see happening is longer paid leave for mothers and fathers and universal pre-k education. This would narrow the gap of time you would need a child care provider.

Like I said, Bernie may not get everything he is asking for, but it is a great strategy, because you never get anything unless you ask first.

Fuzzy Math on Education?

FF this video to 30:00

After watching this presentation on school funding, I came away even more confused. The comparison to funding on what is spent per student, and showing the average salaries of teachers while avoiding what we pay administrators actually muddies the waters even more. I’m not sure who is showing us the actual numbers – maybe both are wrong.

Maybe some of my readers can make sense of it, because it was all Greek to me.

In a quick search today I found that school principal pay in South Dakota ranks 25th in the nation. Administrators as a whole we rank around 39th (this is support and office staff). They danced around these numbers in the above presentation. I’m not sure why it is so difficult to just show what the SFSD is paying administrators, compare it to statewide statistics and national statistics. It’s similar to when I have tried to find the total SFSD debt. I ran in circles for about an hour and eventually gave up.

On a more positive note, this bill is currently going through the state legislature;

House Bill 1177 moves to the House floor of the South Dakota Legislature today.  

The bill would move school board elections to the November general election ballot.

Finally some common sense in Pierre. I fully support this, and I think municipal elections should also be held at the same time. The biggest beef I have had with school elections is that they seem to be organized around voter suppression. Often held by themselves with questionable super precinct locations and hand counted by district employees. I hope this bill passes.

While funding of education, my ever rising property taxes, the disparity in teacher pay to administrator pay and voter suppression are concerns I have, my biggest concern when it comes to the SFSD is the lack of openness and transparency, it is the core rot that leads to my mistrust of the district.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Kiley thinks people care about parapets (that they probably don’t even know exist)

I attended the Sioux Falls City Council informational meeting and testified at the end during public input.

The council had a presentation on the replacement of the cornice and parapet on the roof of the Pavilion. I won’t revisit that.

Several councilors, including councilor Erickson leading the charge pretty much said that the parapet probably doesn’t need to be replaced, and the architects admitted that it really doesn’t harm the historical designation.

I appreciate the honesty.

Then Rick Kiley opened his mouth. He said that he thinks people do care about the parapet replacement. Not sure if he took that poll from his butt, but I’m sure it wasn’t scientific.

During public input I reminded the council;

• The Washington Pavilion has taken the lion’s share of the entertainment tax for over 20 years.

• That tax should have sun-setted after the bonds were paid off, taking $10 million a year out of our private entertainment economy.

• The Pavilion’s attendance numbers haven’t really increased that much over the past 21 years.

• Why doesn’t the Pavilion raise money for capital improvements privately? The Zoo has raised millions for capital projects privately (taxpayers own the Zoo – just like we own the Pavilion).

• The roof and parapet should have been fixed when remodeling the facility, not 21 years later.

But what I said at the end was that Rick Kiley thinks people care about the project. I told him that most people don’t even know this discussion is going on, and most people don’t even know what the parapet is or that it is even exists, I stressed that while people are dodging pot holes in this city, they ‘don’t give a rip’ about parapets.

Not so TIFilicious?

Imagine my surprise when I read this article;

Questions about the ownership of a strip of land within the Sioux Steel Co. site in downtown Sioux Falls has created a new, unexpected hurdle for the proposed $185 million redevelopment of the property.

The land in question was once a channel of the Big Sioux River and has ownership origins that stretch back beyond South Dakota statehood all the way to the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.

Archived press clippings appear to indicate that the channel that separated Seney Island from the western bank of the Big Sioux River was filled in and, along with the former island, was turned into usable land in the early 1900s. Sioux Steel Co. has owned and operated on the site since 1918.

Officials in the state School and Public Lands and Attorney General’s offices are reviewing maps, historic documents and other information to determine whether the state may have a claim of ownership to the strip of land.

I’m not naive, I’m sure the State will probably come back and say they don’t have rights to it, or if they do, sell it for very little coin. I know how palms are greased in Pierre.

But what makes this story frustrating is with all of the people from the Sioux Steel Company, Lloyd Company and the city’s planning office, NO one came across this possible conflict? It took a hobbyist in history to find it?

Not to mention that around $3.5 million has already been spent on planning this project and NONE of these questions were asked before passing a $20 million dollar TIF.

Sometimes I think developers in this town just fly by the seat of their pants, cross their fingers and hope things turn out.

the color of sound

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, it took over 13 years to put this project out there. I get it.

I could go into long rants about why that is, but to tell you the truth, I mostly forgot.

I also want to remind people this was a first attempt at something locally. We all did not know what the Hell we were doing, but we all knew what we were passionate about, visual art and music.

I think the idea was cooked up one day while hanging out with Eyob. I had done a couple ‘Art of Jazz’ shows at the Touch of Europe (painting while music played) and people really dug it. So Eyob says to me, “Why not film it?”


So we pitched the idea to a videographer friend Chris who worked at a local TV station at the time, she was cool with it. She recruited some of her colleagues to help with the filming.

And I have to give props to Chris, I think she had to go thru 25 hours of footage to get this down to 1 hour. I believe there was 5 cameras for 5 hours.

It’s certainly not a Warhol film. But it was a nice experiment. All or most of the paintings sold, I think there was 14. The main one I believe with the reclined torso is in the bathroom at Zandbroz. And I remember admiring it one day while dropping the kids off at the pool.

I also want to thank our sound engineer, Dave Scarborough, I often tell people the audio from this is a masterpiece in itself. I have the full 5 hours on CD. At the time, these were the finest Jazz and Blues musicians in the city (if not the state), some of them still are, and I think this is more of film about their extraordinary talents than a bunch of hooligans painting.

Sandra and James were also extremely accommodating in letting us use the basement of the Harvestor building. When I asked them if we could do it there, they pretty much said ‘Cool’. They used to own the Riverwalk Cafe which featured local musicians which is now the Market, you know that place that makes prize winning burgers or something.

There were also tons of great volunteers who helped out with many things, including Little ‘T’ and Charles Luden with photography.

I guess I just decided after 13 years or so it was time to show others, because art doesn’t mean a damn thing if you are painting in your basement by yourself (As an artist friend told me once) oh the irony of this being filmed in a basement.

Jesse is actually the one who encouraged me to put it out there (who was super sick with the flu during the filming) but stole the show with so many hot licks. I would also like to thank Cameraman Bruce for rendering it for me.

A lot of people these days are all about promoting the arts in Sioux Falls, which is great, but they talk a lot, I sometimes get bitter, then laugh a little and say to myself, “Yeah, that’s what I have been saying for 20 years.”

The best part (besides the fact that I’m a lot lighter these days) is that I still know most of the people in this project and talk to them on a regular basis, they are friends in art, and those friends I will always hold dear. As I often tell people, “All of my heros are artists.”

Feel free to share.

Count Jensen Continues to Grasp at Straws when it comes to policy

In this day in age when politicians say one thing and do the exact opposite, it seems like the new norm. In a press release Jensen was bragging about the ‘business elite’ endorsements he received (because you know their vote counts more than yours – LOL) and said this;

As a city councilor, Alex will work to keep taxes low, while understanding the critical need to invest in the future.

While in the legislature, Alex voted for one of the highest sales tax increases in the history of the state, which has been a complete failure in supporting education and teacher pay, and has yet to be repealed or amended.

If Jensen gets on the city council, I expect him to do as the RS5 has done for several years, vote for large tax and fee increases at the detriment of the working Janes and Joes while the business elite (who endorsed him) enjoy their corporate welfare, tax breaks, taxpayer incentives and TIFs.

You can say you are going to keep taxes low, but your record says a different thing. Better wear garlic on election day.

UPDATE: The FIX is in on property taxes

UPDATE: I decided to go back and look at the records I could find

From 2008-2009 the value of my home went up 1.8%

From 2009-2012  the value of my home went up 0%

From 2012-2016  the value of my home went up 10% (aprox 2.5% per year)

From 2016-2017  the value of my home went up 1.8%

From 2017-2018  the value of my home went up 1.8%

From 2018-2019  the value of my home went up 2.3%

From 2019-2020  the value of my home went up 21.9%

As I predicted and warned people, the school bond, the new county jail and the multiple TIFs we hand out are going to catch up with us. The $2 a month boloney they pitched us was a farce, because I knew they were going to make hay with the assessments. And sure enough they did.

My increased assessments year after year have been steady, but reasonable. I have owned my home for 17+ years and my property taxes have doubled in that time.

I have done little upgrades to my home, except replacing windows, doors, adding new rain gutters a privacy fence and re-shingling after storm damage. I have done NO upgrades to the interior of my house.

So imagine my surprise when I got this in the mail yesterday;

Well, I was NOT surprised, I saw this coming like a freight train. We can’t keep borrowing money in Sioux Falls and not have a way to pay those bonds, so they bleed it out of us through back door tricks like assessments. Can I afford a 21.9% increase in my assessed value? I suppose, but it also means a lot less money in my pocket.

It was interesting listening to the State Legislators talk yesterday at the legislative coffee about state funding of education. Two Republicans made great points;

• The state gives the districts money and the districts decide how that money is spent (salaries, etc.).

• Administrator pay in SD ranks at 15th while teacher pay is at 49th. I haven’t checked that stat, but I know at one time in was around 22nd. There is a obvious disparity.

• Low voter turnout at school elections. The past school bond and school board elections both had around a 4% turnout. Basically the legislator was saying, if you want to have a say on how your local district is being funded, maybe you should show up and vote in these elections. AMEN Brother! But I also have to add their is voter suppression when you use super precincts, no precincts in the northern part of our city and have district finance department employees ‘hand count’ votes, while the business director puts those counts into the system without oversight.

Who knew that owning a house that was built in 1889 could increase in value by almost 22% in one year? Not bad for a home that is 131 years old. What a joke.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Feb 25-26, 2020

Informational Meeting • 4 PM • Tuesday Feb 25

Presentation on Washington Pavilion Parapet and Cornice Condition Assessment and Study (this was deferred). I was told that the Pavilion doesn’t give two sh*ts on whether this gets replaced or not. They ‘have’ to do it to to keep their historical designation (replacing the ornamental) so they can apply for future historical grants – it’s all about the Benjamins. The roof does have to be fixed, but that should have been 20 years ago.

Also a presentation on Prairie Meadow Water and Wastewater Update.

Working Session Meeting • 2:30 • Wednesday Feb 26

City Council Budget Priorities

Belfrage’s Planned Cat Fight gets foiled

I was told a few days ago that Sioux Falls City Councilors Janet Brekke and Pat Starr were invited to come on Belfrage’s show next Tuesday. I guess yesterday, Belfrage asked for a change of plans, he wanted Erickson and Brekke to duke it out over ethics.

Brekke refused to participate in the matchup.

While some may say she is chickening out, I don’t see that way at all. First off, this process needs to go through the proper channels, the Ethics Commission, before having any public debates about it. Brekke asked a realistic ethics question, she is awaiting a hearing and an answer.

But secondly, I don’t think Janet is that naive. We know how Greg feels about Erickson and Mayor Selfie, he would have stacked the deck against Brekke, because let’s admit it, Greg likes Red Meat.

I have always had respect for Janet, but after hearing this revelation, it just got a lot greater. As for Greg, well you know how I feel about that putz.

UPDATE: Advocacy Group to Speak at PTAB meeting on Monday

UPDATE: I have been hearing from several sources and city officials that the on-demand service may never happen. The first problem is that the guy who cooked it up left. The second problem is that many in the innovation office are dropping the ball, and skipping important meetings. Thirdly there isn’t any real funding for the program in the transit fund for it, so they will have to subsidize it somehow. And lastly the union representing SAM says there is no deal on running a pilot on Sundays unless their contract is revised. They basically are saying if anyone would be willing to work, it would be like holiday pay. But the biggest problem is they really don’t have enough staff to administer it. So if all of these issues are solved, they will pretty much have to contract with another private transportation provider to accomplish the pilot program. My guess is this thing will die quietly in the night. Oh, and the below meeting has yet to publish their agenda online, which will be a violation of State Law. That seems to be a habit lately with the city, and the Sioux Falls School District, who didn’t have ANY public input at any of their public boundary task force meetings. I think it is time to start filing some complaints with the Open Meetings Commission. They could probably have hearings for about a week with all the violations.

The Advocacy Collective will be doing a presentation at the PTAB (Public Transit Advisory Board) meeting, Monday, February 24th, at 3:45 at the new City bldg.  

The presentation will be in support of enhancing our current fixed-route system vs. implementing an on-demand system which is scheduled for a pilot project this summer..

I know, I know….. ‘the train has already left the station’, esp. with PTH wanting to promote the on-demand system as ‘his plum project’ for the Harvard Bloomberg Initiative.  In spite of this, we will be continuing to speak out against this ill-conceived revamping of our public transit.

Many in our community are not even aware this major redesign of Sioux Area Metro is taking place. We have been speaking out (PTAB meetings, Stehly Report, etc.) for the past several months.  Those who will be part of the presentation Monday are individuals who have amassed decades of advocacy for SF vulnerable populations.  These are the people who have had ‘boots on the ground’ for many years working with segments of our city’s population who are reliant on SF public transit for both their work and personal lives.

The meeting will take place at 231 N. Dakota Avenue across the street from the Downtown Public Library.