The Bonus Round Bar doesn’t charge a cover to get in

Oh, the bar business in Sioux Falls. Apparently it is so competitive that competing bars and patrons start rumors.

When the Bonus Round opened their tally ho second location downtown, they had a fantastic idea – pay 10 bucks at the door and get a free beer and unlimited pinball play. Pretty good deal. I would say a great deal if you are a pinball maniac.

Well apparently a bunch monkeys around town decided to turn this into the classic elementary school game of ‘around the world’. It’s an interesting game where you whisper a FACT into the person next to you and it travels around the room and the last one proclaims what they heard.

It never turns out well or truthful.

You can walk into either location and NOT pay a cover. It was a marketing idea, and a good one that turned into a vicious rumor.

A have a special place in my heart for Ike and Cricket who opened a cool bar in my neighborhood and now downtown. They are hardworking people who started a grassroots business that makes people happy. Micro brews and pinball. They love what they do, and they literally would give the shirts off their backs to patrons, and I have seen it.

So please, stop the BS rumors. They are just trying to irk out a living just like the rest of us working stiffs.

Why is the city so right and we are so wrong?

The defenders of open government often miss some important points, mainly delivering information uninterrupted.

As if SIRE used by the city of Sioux Falls wasn’t built on absolute crap, we now can’t get anything off the SIRE system without annoying pauses, spinning arrows or plain dead links. The Tuesday October 16th, 2019 meetings were bad enough but now we get to see the Charter Revision Meeting prove it again. 

The system just proves the system is built on crap and will continue to be crap. The IT and Innovation Department must be in place just to find innovative ways to kill public involvement in Sioux Falls city government. Sure am glad the city spent a lot of hard cash to get this upgrade.

This was the response from City Clerk Greco in an email;

Gentlemen,

I appreciate your bringing up the streaming issue from Tuesday night; we also noted the same issue during the meeting.  We contacted the vendor asking them to review any issues they may have had Tuesday night or last night.  There were no issues associated with recording the meeting and it was uploaded immediately after the meeting adjourned. 

Of the 125 or so meetings we’ve streamed since deploying the new software, we’ve had great success particularly when compared to the previous system. To date, we’ve experienced one other streaming issue in December for an informational immediately after deployment. Our protocol is to conduct a web streaming test prior to each meeting.  We also intend to upload videos at the conclusion of each meeting– there were short interruptions in 2 recordings a few weeks ago requiring additional time for upload to ensure the complete video was posted online; Tuesday night I stopped the informational upload so I could begin the City Council meeting recording.

Despite the problem Tuesday night, we’ve found great benefits from the new software.  Among those are the ability to view meetings on all types of devices, a significantly better search capability through the agenda program of the more than 1,800 meetings online, and closed captioning during the streaming of City Council Meetings.  Additionally, the software has provided for public access to over 26,000 original ordinances, resolutions, minutes, election returns– some of which date back to 1907–  campaign finance documents, and raffle notifications.  This can now be found through our webpage under “records” and I hope you find it useful.

Thanks, Thomas Greco • City Clerk • City of Sioux Falls

I actually thanked Greco for his ‘in depth’ explanation. But when it comes to open government, and failures a simple ‘sorry’ would suffice

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda – Kinda

So the city council decided to take a bus ride this Tuesday then a nice evening of rubbing elbows with Chamber folks;

Council Working Session – Capital Projects Tour • 1 PM

I especially liked this note;

This Working Session will not be recorded or broadcast live.

They should have also said, ‘Unless Bruce shows up.’

Should all local races be non-partisan?

I have been enjoying Dave Baumeister’s columns on Cory’s blog as of late. Dave touches on a lot of topics I do, and puts a different twist on them. I guess it is probably because he is a real journalist and I’m a hack.

Dave’s latest column is about having local non-partisan races, particularly the county commission;

Two of the local governing bodies, school and city, exist as non-political positions. Why doesn’t the same hold true for county elections?

I totally agree with Dave on this issue, but . . .

The city council and school board have become very politically motivated. Did you know that the city council has only ONE Democrat and NO indys? The Minnehaha County Commission isn’t much different, one Dem, no indys. You can do the math on the other members. I actually believe one of the top reasons councilor Starr wasn’t elected to leadership this past year was because of his blueness. I don’t know what the make up of the school board is, but I will say that Mickelson would have never gotten elected if it wasn’t for the Republican Party throwing oodles of money at her (and putting yard signs in the Tea School district).

So while Dave’s sentiment is nice, and noted, living in a red state, non partisan races don’t really matter, because you are still going to end up with a basket of deplorables on your local boards.

This should happen more often in SD, especially in Sioux Falls

I’m sure you saw this in the news this week. I asked myself, ‘Why hasn’t this happened more often in South Dakota?’;

The Walworth County auditor faces charges of violating South Dakota law after she was arrested and charged with failing to follow state public meeting laws.

Walworth County Auditor Rebecca Krein is accused of violating a law that requires government entities to make documents available to the public when they are used during official meetings. Walworth County State’s Attorney James Hare issued a warrant for her arrest last week after he received a complaint that Krein failed to make documents available for an Aug. 6 meeting.

I can’t speak for the rest of the state, but I can tell you that this happens quite often in Sioux Falls. In fact Cameraman Bruce and myself and several other citizens have complained about this multiple times. Some examples that have happened quite often in Sioux Falls at public meetings are starting meetings early (before posted time) and not handing out paper copies of the agenda at the meetings. The city council usually has this handled, but there have been several occasions in other city board and commission meetings where it has NOT happened. I would even dare to say that I could come up with over a dozen instances every year. So I find it a bit ironic that the state arrested this person in lowly Walworth County but NOT in Sioux Falls.

You know my soapbox by now. No local government agency (that I know of) in SD has ever gotten in trouble for being too open. In fact, state law is pretty clear about open meetings, they leave it up to the local agencies. The state legislature has essentially said, you can tell the public as much as you want to, but too often they choose not to. I was glad to see this arrest, but I would like to see a lot more of it. Putting these public officials in handcuffs may be the ultimate solution to opening up our books. As I have said before, not only is open government good for governing, it saves taxpayers money. Dictatorships only occur when the people in power have taken away our access to information, once that happens the dominos fall, really, really fast.

Patrick Lalley Podcast

This week Pat revives Hudson’s get out of town and has a debate with a person about bonding.

Need to fast track a mural in Sioux Falls? Talk to the mayor.

I found out yesterday that the new murals being painted in the South part of the new Raven’s parking lot may have gotten a fast track due to who owns the wall – the mayor.

While I have been literally bitching for years that more public art and murals should be downtown and across the city (in which I agree with Mayor TenHaken) I still think that the approval of these pieces should go through the proper channels.

For the record, the murals do follow the sign code ordinances and don’t advertise a specific business, and the ones that are done so far are pretty cool. That aside, it seems there really wasn’t a real process in getting these murals approved, and now I know why. The mayor still owns the building his former business, Click Rain occupies, so the murals are being painted on his property.

In all fairness to the process and openness I guess I would have let it play out like any other property owner asking for the same thing. Maybe it did, and if so, why not SHOW the public how this process works for educating others who want to pursue it?

I often tell people that government officials have a duty to not only delegate and lead, but they also have a greater duty of informing and educating the public on why they make decisions. It’s unfortunate I had to hear this thru the grapevine instead of from the administration.

But this of course doesn’t surprise me, just look at the 5G expansion.

Some people think great things get done in government if we keep it from the public. I have a word that describes those people; Dictators.

Sioux Falls City official texting and driving

Yesterday afternoon downtown (a little after 5 PM) I saw a high profile city director texting and driving. I’m not going to say who they are, but let’s just say it is an official appointed by the mayor (new in PTH’s admin). It also wasn’t the police chief or fire chief, it was a director who wouldn’t have to respond to an emergency, and I am guessing since it was after 5 PM, it wasn’t about work. In there defense, they were stopped at a light, but the law is clear. Ironically, it was someone who should have known better due to their position in city government.

So what do you think? If a city official is texting and driving and they are NOT part of emergency personnel does it set a bad example? I was disappointed.

I will admit that I used to text and drive on rare occasion but don’t do it since the ban. I do talk on my phone though while driving (something else I have been working on).

City of Sioux Falls CRC (Charter Revision Commission) doesn’t have time to listen to constituents

Yep, you heard it from the chair, Mr. Smith himself, towards the end of the meeting today he went on a (polite) rant about changing the charter over ‘political’ decisions the council made, then said the city council has more time to listen to constituents then the CRC does.

Oh, and it shows, they only meet about once a month at 3:30 PM on a Wednesday afternoon when NO ONE from the general public can attend and listen and comment. Talk about due diligence! I often shake my head when I hear government officials (whether elected or appointed) say that the public must not be concerned because they didn’t show up to the meeting – while having that meeting at a very inconvenient time during the work week. I guess if the public was concerned they would ask for PTO so they could come and give their two cents. I have often said this is an open government issue, and these meetings are held at times when it is difficult for the public to attend, because, they don’t want them to attend.

Moving on in the meeting they of course KILL the plurality vote suggestion blaming the petition drive and felt if the public wanted to change this they would speak up and sign the petition. Ironically it was changed to majority without input from the public, just because a couple of councilors felt bad. So if something was changed without a public plea to begin with, why not change it back?

CRC Chair Justin Smith also continues to act like putting something on the ballot is automatic passage of an amendment. He either doesn’t get it or is just playing games. The CRC only places amendments on the ballot from suggestions from the public, it is up to the voters to say yes or no. I’m surprised a government attorney is acting so ignorant about how stuff gets on the ballot. It seems his blatant spreading of misinformation should be an ethics violation. The CRC is not the ‘end all’. It is up to voters to decide the passage of the amendments – and he knows it!

But before it was killed member Pauline Poletes tries to defer because member Bob Thimjon wasn’t there, Smith shuts her down saying Bob was noticed of the meeting and could have attended and they don’t have time to revisit it later – which proves later to be ironic when they DO defer another item due to missing members.

Member Anne Hajek recuses herself on the super majority bonding discussion and blames ME for bringing it up on my blog and corrects me by saying that while her husband is a bonding attorney he doesn’t not work for a bonding company. This is true, and I apologize for the mistake. But she of course doesn’t expand and say that the firm her husband Doug works for does counsel ‘work’ for the bonding company that does bonding for the city. It’s semantics I guess, and a little wordplay. The city attorney though asks Hajek to leave the room if she is going to recuse herself, then they make a bunch of jokes about it. Yeah, because being ethical or unethical is soooo funny. Thought I was at a Trump rally for a moment.

City Councilor Janet Brekke during public input brings data showing most bonds pass with a super majority or more, and all the more reason to put this forth seeing NO harm in putting this in Charter, and I agree. 

The chair and other members of course say that all the more reason NOT to pass this because it already is taking place.

Stinking Rules! Who needs them!

They also blame the petition drive again. But chair Smith goes a step further and says that this is about some ‘political’ decisions the council made (over the bunker ramp) and the CRC shouldn’t get involved because they are ‘Non-Political’ (Could have fooled me).

Passing a bond isn’t a ‘political’ decision based on a bias, it is a TAXING decision that affects us. I was once again shocked by the very ‘POLITICAL’ statements of the chair. It is very much the duty of the CRC to be NON-POLITICAL when deciding what goes on the ballot, and if this is a legal change, you should allow it, especially when it has to do with how government is spending our money. These rules need to be put in place so city councils DON’T make ‘political’ decisions based on bias, but decisions based on the best interest of the taxpayers.

It did get deferred though due to member Poletes pointing out they need 4 votes to approve something and TWO members were not present to vote (Hajek and Thimjon) so even if they voted to kill it they would only have 3 votes, and they need 4 votes to pass it. Of course Chair Smith voted against the deferral, but it had the 2 votes it needed to be deferred.

They discussed making the city attorney a non-voting member of the CRC and just an advisor, which I thought he was already. I guess councilor Neitzert is making an amendment in the future to change this in the charter language. Brekke said during public input that she was unaware this was going to be done. Shocker! Greg told the CRC but NOT his fellow councilors.

As I suspected, the CRC has probably been working diligently behind the scenes to sabotage the petition drive (it’s obvious in their scripted discussions they have during the meetings), then turns around and tries to blame this same petition drive as for the reason to kill these amendments. It shouldn’t matter if there is a drive, the duty of the CRC is to determine if something can legally be changed in the Charter, if it won’t be harmful to the greater good of the public and government, and it the language is proper in style and form. When Chair Smith said the CRC is ‘non-political’ he was correct. Offering your opinions on whether you support something before the public has had a chance to vote on it is being ‘POLITICAL’. So when are you going to practice what you preach and put these on the ballot and let the public decide, as well as yourself, IN THE VOTING BOOTH, NOT AT A 3:30 WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON MEETING.

Minnehaha County State’s Attorney McGowan will be taking more time off for medical leave

McGowan informed the County Commission he will be taking more time off in an email on Tuesday;

I just want to give you a head’s up that I’m having a complete knee replacement this Friday morning.  I hope to be back part time the following Monday.  I need to drive to Pierre on Tuesday, the 22nd, for a Controlled Substance State Task Force meeting.  I plan to be back full-time on Wednesday the 23rd.  I have shared this with my office and I’m ok with it being shared with the public if any questions are asked.

Best,

Aaron F. McGowan, Minnehaha County State’s Attorney

So he decided to tell the Commission and the public he will be gone for knee surgery for about two days but can’t tell them why he was gone for almost two months? WOW!