UPDATE: Local Leadership should be more than an imaginary piece of paper

TenHaken admits on National News he has essentially given up.

Update: TenHaken was featured on Meet the Press this morning, it seems he has simply gave up because of Trump’s rhetoric. Really?!


I want to ask you, get you to react to something here from the mayor of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a Republican. I spoke with him on Friday. I’m guessing you’re going to empathize with what he has to say. It’s, again, a Republican mayor of Sioux Falls. Take a listen.


Trying to enforce any government restrictions now at this point in the game, even if, even if I felt that was the right thing to do, it’s a non-starter in the community right now. It’s difficult for us at the local level. It’s difficult for us as local leaders, county commissioners, mayors to deal with how politicized this has gotten, and it makes it frustrating.

I’m willing to bet Paul that the people who have made mask wearing political in our town are about 20% and last I checked they are NOT a majority. Do the right thing and push a public mask wearing mandate. For those that don’t want to comply, oh well, they can stay home, I don’t want to see them anyway.

We have already seen the story;

Sixteen mayors of South Dakota’s largest cities sent a letter calling for the public’s action to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

First of all, I am confused as to where this letter was sent? I certainly did NOT get it in the mail or my email box, so I wonder about its effectiveness. I also don’t know if they are providing new information;

We are writing to you with a simple ask, but one that we need everyone to take seriously. We need you to do your part. It is crucial that we are all aware of our behaviors. Wear a mask when physical distancing cannot be maintained, keep your social interactions to small groups, wash your hands frequently, clean frequently touched surfaces often, and stay home if you feel sick. These may seem like small actions, but can make a big difference during this current surge we are experiencing in our state.

These mayors are pretty much telling us something we have known about for a long time and should already be doing. At this point, I’m not sure what this even means.

Councilor Starr thinks we should do more and have some better planning;

Asked what measures he had in mind to address the disease in the city, Starr said that’s why he had requested the update.

“That’s the point that we need to hear from the medical professionals,” Starr said, adding that there are some actions “that are more palatable than others.”

“Are we at a point where we’re overloading our health care systems?” he asked. “Our workers?”

This is what REAL leadership does, they recognize an issue, they gather the information, and they put a plan in motion. Sometimes that is legislative, sometimes it is less restrictive, but we can certainly agree penning a letter in the form of a PDF making ‘strong’ suggestions isn’t going to stop the spread of this virus. In fact the mayors that signed this electronic document should be embarrassed and ashamed at their lack of real leadership on this issue.

It’s going to be a very long winter.


#1 "Very Stable Genius" on 10.18.20 at 10:49 am

Often, when it’s a “piece of paper”, it’s better known as a paper tiger.

#2 anominous on 10.18.20 at 12:40 pm

ten haken was all over tv a week ago because the low water level in the river made it possible to dredge a lot of silt out of the diversion channel and also to repair the crack in the spillway. Great job Paul. That means you were being pro-active. You knew that the floods in the spring would make this impossible, so you took the initiative months in advance at an opportune time to correct the problem before it turned into a disaster.

Now- how about you response to the pandemic? Absolutely the opposite: Drag your heels about even suggesting people should wear masks, stfu when Kristi tells you to about public health, pretend there is nothing you could have done.

#3 anonymous on 10.18.20 at 3:32 pm

I wonder how this christian lives with his own Bull Shit!?

#4 "Very Stable Genius" on 10.18.20 at 6:54 pm

The letter requesting the closure of Smithfield was impressive. This letter is six months too late.

Or, is this just a letter in an attempt to get the notice of John King and his Rolodex? #RedMayor #RedAnswers #RedAlertPandemic

#5 Reliable Voter on 10.18.20 at 8:55 pm

Republican elected officials – you’re appearing on tv and telling reporters you represent a whole bunch of ungovernable rubes who can’t be convinced to literally save their own lives. South Dakotans – too stupid to model healthy behaviors, afraid of appearing weak, and willing to risk illness and death because they need tourist dollars. Can’t be expected to choose public health over pheasant season. Which seems counterproductive to the
economic development campaigns that promise an educated workforce. Noem is proud of her ungovernable rubes. TenHaken looks embarrassed, but resigned to the fact he can’t do better.

#6 Secret agent on 10.19.20 at 7:20 am

Does it ever look like the Ten is a lot like slick Mike was.

#7 Disappointed But Not Surprised on 10.19.20 at 7:54 am

Saying the community wouldn’t accept city-wide mitigation measures at this point is such a lazy cop out. If he had stuck to his guns back in May and continually hammered home that this is a dangerous and precarious situation, we may have been able to avoid taking the brunt of the pandemic. Now, several months have gone by with people believing whatever they want about the pandemic, and you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Point is, to the extent that he’s correct about the “rubes” not accepting mitigation measures, that’s his failure for not messaging to the community as a leader. The bully pulpit is an important tool that he seems comfortable letting go to waste.

I wonder how much of his inaction is attributable to Noem, and how much comes from wealthy business owners threatening to withhold re-election contributions. I’m convinced that the latter, at the mayoral and city council level, played a role in restrictions being lifted in May.

#8 Reliable Voter on 10.19.20 at 4:02 pm

I just watched the mayor say he doesn’t know how mask wearing became “political”, and that a mask mandate “has a chance to absolutely destroy a city”. Pot meet kettle.

#9 LJL on 10.19.20 at 7:55 pm

Nice little echo chamber you’ve got going on in here. Same 3 people. Same thinking.

Why do you insist a government tells others what to do? If YOU are wearing a mask, why do you need others to? If you don’t wear a mask, don’t you already the risk? Why is personal responsibility so hard for you to understand?

You really don’t care if people not wearing masks get sick and/or die. You are the ones politicizing this.

Consider mask as you do abortions. Free choice. Dead babies and anti-maskers, both make money for hospitals and are throw away souls to you.

#10 "Very Stable Genius" on 10.19.20 at 8:25 pm


One wears a mask to protect others. It’s called being polite.


Wasn’t that something? If I remember right, it was our mayor who gave Trump a B+, and it was Trump who politicalized this whole thing.

#11 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 10.20.20 at 11:28 am

#WearADangMask #GoToADangPrideEvent #PracticeSomeDangTransparency #StopIssusingThoseDangTIFs #WhereCanAGuyGetSomeDangCultureAroundHere #WhenIsTheDangChic-fil-AComing? #HasThatDangJohnKingCalledYetAgain? #WhereAreMyDangAirPods? #WhatDoYouMeanThatDangTJQuit?

#12 Further Fear & Loathing on 10.20.20 at 11:29 am


#13 Ljl on 10.20.20 at 1:05 pm

Oh it’s a politeness thing! Then let’s add deodorant and public profanity to the mandate as well.

If your wearing a mask, why do you give a shit what others are doing? I wear a mask and I don’t give a damn who doesn’t. Unwanted pregnancies create a tremendous strain on our medical and welfare systems not to mention the countless tragedies of unwanted babies. If you support masks for a flu in the name of public health you should at least support birth control mandates on welfare recipients?

Your political hypocrites are astounding.

#14 "Woodstock" on 10.20.20 at 2:25 pm

“Does B.O. and profanity kill?” “How is a baby bad like the flu?”…

#15 Mike Lee Zitterich on 10.20.20 at 2:57 pm

Mayor Paul TenHaken said it right the other day; we cannot fall victim to personal insults, slanderish public comments towards one another; we shall not publically attack our businesses, our citizens for personal choices we make in our best interest, take the mask issue – while the Mayor would like all of us to wear the dang mask, he knows he cannot enforce such policy, but he also knows and understands the topic has become polorarized to the extent we are seeing people hate on each other, slander each other, and attack each other. And that to me – violates our city ordinance by itself. And I agree with the Mayor on this, he is in fact trying to calm the waters, direct strong leadership from the very people who govern this city – the “residents” all of whom elected not only himself, but each one of those council chairs, and to the people he gets to appoint, and those city employees he directs. IF we have not voted to mandate wearing masks, ‘we’ shall then respect and support both sides of the decision. To me – that is the purpose of our Mayor, Governors, the President – to maintain order, promote good government, and balance out both sides of all arguments. For that – I commend Mayor Paul TenHaken.

“That future depends on the values of self-government, our sense of duty, loyalty, self-confidence and regard for the common good. We are a diverse country, and getting more diverse. And these virtues are what keep this great country together.

What that historic quote means to me is this; if we cannot agree to disagree, and in a respective tone, body, and community, then what type of community do we live in, where ‘we’ then become afraid to speak out, defend our positions, or voice our grievenances in such manner, we feel threatened by the very people we share a community with. If we are to become a community where it becomes the norm to attack each other, belittle each other, slander each other, with no regards to respect for life, liberty, property, happiness, or self government, we then have become victims of a tyrannical form of government, where a small few in our community then dictate to the majority how to govern society.

While many have criticized a council chair for violating ordinance – Whether we feel a council chair violated 35.053 or another violated 30.017; the greater concern here is the fact over the past twelve months I have witnessed several council chairs attempt to disrupt, delay, or interrupt a council chair while a council chair is wishing to make his/her points heard in a respective manner. While I have personally witnessed several council chairs outwardly insult, attack, and abridge the right of certain ‘council chairs’ during open debate discussion, I wonder why no one among the residents ever brought forward complaints against the council for violating ordinance section 30.018. To me, when one council chair attacks or disrupts another, in my opinion, you have violated this specific ordinance. With no names given – I urge this council, the mayor, city employees, and yes, even the “residents” themselves to respect this ordinance as I as also witnessed even the “residents” outwardly attack the council chairs by name calling, personal attacks, and rude disruptive behavior.

Whether you disagree or agree with the Mayor, or any particular Council Chair, or any concerned Resident, what matters most here, is “WE” all are equal under the laws of which we write, if you cannot respect me, how can then I show you respect in return. Do you see how political some of you make of public comments all cause you may feel indifferent to those comments?

Mike Zitterich

#16 l3wis on 10.20.20 at 3:48 pm

You are correct, a mask mandate cannot be truly enforced by police of fines, but it can still be implemented by the city.

#17 Robert Marley on 10.20.20 at 5:21 pm

I just want to smoke a big fat joint. Vote yes on A please.

#18 Getoffmygrass on 10.20.20 at 8:28 pm

If I die from not wearing a piece of cloth on my face, come to my funeral and tell me you told me so. Until then get outta my face

#19 "Very Stable Genius" on 10.20.20 at 9:29 pm

The “piece of cloth” is to potentially protect others from you and not you from others. #WhatDoUSayToAnOpenCasket

#20 John Dale on 10.21.20 at 10:33 am

It’s great to have a list of Mayors and others who are against the truth: herd immunity and protecting the elderly/compromised through isolation and other measures is the best way to deal with this pandemic.

Slowing the spread is not a good strategy. In my view, it means that the virus impacts will be delayed until we are most vulnerable .. the Wintertime.

What a leadership nightmare.

I hope the people of Sioux Falls can see past their Mayor’s stunning good looks, inversely proportional to his leadership potential.

#21 "Woodstock" on 10.24.20 at 10:27 pm

“That’s why he can’t mandate a mask policy. It would limit his ‘stunning good looks’ strategy.” #SoapOperaPolitics #ThuneHaken #TallDark&Worthless

#22 anominous on 10.26.20 at 9:34 am

PTH is completely out of any “tools-in-the-toolbox” that could influence public opinion.