More transparency for Sioux Falls in 2021

Hopefully we will have Covid under control or at least manageable early summer. I have a feeling once the vaccine is available to the general public we will turn the corner very quickly. I also look forward to hopefully having a full season of The Levitt concert series. Heck even a half-season would be fine with me.

But my biggest concern in the city is the continuing decline of transparency in government. This is what happens when you put partisan hack authoritarian fascists in charge of local NON-PARTISAN government. Power goes straight to their heads and the way to control that power is thru secrecy. I also think these very un-democratic measures by our local government and state government may quell a bit when the orange menace in Washington is finally shown the door. The next 30 days is going to be the scariest and most embarrassing Trump circus we have ever seen.

I could certainly go on a very long rant about Mayor TenHaken’s lack of leadership and absence of intelligent decisions but where I really get worked up is his deep hatred for transparency. I really think his hatred comes from his years of being a partisan hack in the political advertising world. Keeping strategies from your opponent is essential to beating them. Unfortunately, Paul has carried that philosophy over to actually serving in office. He is also very keen on trying to punish his political enemies and it shows in his extreme paranoia he uses to justify his secrecy. I know he won’t make these changes on his own, so we may need to force his hand on a couple of these things in 2021;

• Hold weekly mayoral press conferences. This could be something as simple as 15 minutes of presentation and 15 minutes of questions from the press, at NOON on Tuesdays, live stream on YouTube and FB and replay in YouTube. This could be an essential step towards transparency. It would also require the mayor to educate himself with what is really going on in the city.

• Settle the Bunker Ramp lawsuit. This fiasco has been going on for far too long, this needs to be mopped up so we can try to promote a new development on the site. The bunker ramp is a prime example of the ultimate failure of local government on so many levels. City employees, dubious developers, two mayors and around 10 city councilors royally screwed us on this deal. I would really like to see a formal apology sometime in 2021 from those involved in this fraud against taxpayers. But like most authoritarians who love secrets, no one will ever come clean on this. The denial so pathetic I have often said everyone involved should either resign or be fired.

• Revoke Sioux Steel’s TIF. We still have no idea where this project is going, and since it has already been delayed for a year, it is time to revoke the original TIF. If they still do the project, it is obvious it will change from the original intentions, which means they must apply for a new, down scaled TIF, or better yet, NO TIF at all. This is another example of the highly secretive planning department that works quietly behind the scenes with developers to ‘recommend approval’ (ironically, something else that needs to be revoked in 2021 also).

• Overhaul the TIF program. As I have suggested for over a decade, the TIF program should be moved into the community development office and short term property tax rebates should be given to individual home owners and small rental properties for cleaning up properties in Central and Proper Sioux Falls. I actually believe cleaning up the core of our city (private properties, sidewalks, streets, curb and gutter, street lights, etc.) would have an enormous impact on the local economy. In fact studies done across the nation have shown that cleaning up cities from the inside out and creating strong density in the core boosts the local economy. Instead of dumping millions into new infrastructure in cornfields in Lincoln county we need to concentrate on cleaning up our core.

• Eliminate SIRE for good. This POS City Council online agenda reference service has been broken for as long as I can remember. If the software was an employee it would have been fired 15 years ago. The city continues to dump money into this joke of a system, and with all the technological advances you would think the city would have replaced it by now. But see, the city likes it this way, it gives them an excuse for hiding agenda items from us. The city’s legal department has also been titling agenda items with no direct references to what the agenda item is about. This is also an attack on open government and needs to end.

• City Council Ethics rules overhaul. There are no clear ethics rules. Every time the council gets tried for a possible violation, they slither out of it by claiming it is too vague or broad. And even if there is proof a councilor or mayor violated ethics, as did Neitzert and TenHaken, the majority of the council dismisses the charges. The ethics board isn’t much better, often claiming ‘law’ permits councilors to violate ethics, though they have nothing to do with each other. I also have the right to say ‘F’ck’ a thousand times a day in public, but ethically know that is probably not such a good idea.

• Public input needs to be moved to the beginning of the meetings again. Of course we will probably have to wait until the next municipal election in 2 years to overturn this moronic and authoritarian move, but in the meantime we plan to have a little fun with the move and some possible 1st Amendment ‘challenges’.

• A major overhaul of the Home Rule Charter. This was attempted with ‘Triple Check the Charter’ but the Rat Finks prevailed. Next time around we will take on a new approach and when the smoke clears, they will wish the last attempt passed because the 2nd attempt isn’t going to be pretty and if it passes, there won’t be a lot of people standing.

We need to return transparency to City Hall in 2021 and not only get it back, but make it more open than it has ever been and put the changes permanently in place. Open government not only saves taxpayers money but makes government more efficient. Also, a well informed public functions better and gets more involved with important decisions in our community.

Here’s hoping for a better 2021, one with more information and less viruses and orange people.



4 comments ↓

#1 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 12.24.20 at 11:20 am

We once had a democracy here, where a guy could get into trouble for wearing a hat when he preemptively voiced his concerns before the council. Now, no ties – but many sneakers – are the norm as democracy is shoved to the end of the meetings. I prefer the good old days, however, when people cared about how we looked, even if they weren’t listening to what we had to say.

#2 "Woodstock" on 12.24.20 at 11:22 am

“Trump claims he saved Christmas”…. “But what about my Grandma?”…. “He didn’t save her”…..

#3 anominous on 12.24.20 at 12:13 pm

well said

#4 D@ily Spin on 12.27.20 at 9:05 am

Muddy water works well for gators and catfish. They can sneak up on their prey. Catfished by the city will never change. As bad as it’s been, we’re lucky our gills function in the sewage (aka S—-) coming from city hall.