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A must visit: St. Joseph’s Cathedral

I visited the newly restored cathedral today. Amazing. Unfortunately this was the only picture that turned out (I had a bad camera setting. Self guided tours are welcomed.

St. Joseph’s Cathedral remodel almost complete

I have been very excited about this for a long time and have posted about it several times.

I have always been a fan of liturgical art and have a nice kitschy collection of my own. I guess the art restoration company that worked on it used turkey feathers to paint the columns to make them look like marble. I guess because 1) real marble columns are probably really freaking expensive, and 2) Kinda hard to replace them without using really gigantic jacks. I can’t wait to see the final project.

The best place to see art in Sioux Falls? The Cathedral.

Image; KELO-TV

I have often thought that the Cathedral in Sioux Falls is one of the most beautiful buildings in Sioux Falls, and now with the renovations, it will be even more exciting. I had the pleasure of meeting Byzantine artist, Fedor, from Moscow who painted panels for the chapel at the Cathedral a few years back. I also had the pleasure of eating borsht with him at the Touch of Europe and getting kicked out of Scarlett’s after he decided to get grabby-grabby with a stripper. Oh, the irony of a liturgical artist getting kicked out of a strip club. His artistic hero? Andy Warhol. Go figure. He also sold me this painting below, which is one of my most cherished paintings in my art collection.

Drinking Liberally sums up Trump and the Mueller Report

The Mueller report is finally out and, despite Attorney General Barr’s assurances to the contrary, it confirms the worst about Donald Trump. At times it is difficult to describe the abhorrence I feel as Trump daily tramples on the customs and traditions which bind us together as a Country. But, having watched the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris burn almost to the ground this week, I would compare Trump’s presidency to that event. In his series on Civilization, Kenneth Clark famously said, as the camera panned out to show the magnificence of Notre Dame, that he couldn’t describe what Civilization is but he knows it when he sees it. That symbol of Western Civilization now lies partially destroyed for all to see, saved from total destruction only by the firemen and women of Paris. It will hopefully be rebuilt by the people of France.

Much as fire consumed Notre Dame, Trump daily attacks our institutions, the rule of law, and our international network of alliances which together provide the foundation of our Country’s prosperity and strength. Trump perceives these same institutions as a threat to the culture of White Male privilege which has nurtured him and his followers. He believe they impede his desires. He wants to pull them down and pull us back to a darker time. Whether he will succeed is still an open question but the slow burn he started is threatening to become a conflagration. We are the firemen and women of our country. We are the only ones who can extinguish the fire Trump has begun and determine what kind of country we want to be. Do we want a Country hopeful, tolerant, prosperous and open to new possibilities, or a Country of Trump, selfish, intolerant, poor and afraid of what is different? The next election will tell the story. Can we count on you?

Professor Myers had a beautiful send off into the afterlife!

Praise the LORD!!!! We Met at the St. Joseph Cathedral for the funeral for Mike Myers. It was a beautiful service. I’m glad my “RABBLE ROUSER” friends Scott Ehrisman and Bruce Danielson could say goodbye to their dear comrade. – Theresa Stehly

Statue of David

This is an article I wrote for Etc. magazine back in January of 2002. Some of the material may have been disproven since I wrote the article, and some is still up for debate. I researched old Argus articles the library. The librarians were hesitant and suspicious when I asked for the papers (they had an entire file on David) Enjoy.

David’s Legacy

By Scott Ehrisman

The Statue of David downtown is a prime example of the kind of enriching public art Sioux Falls has to offer. As a visitor or someone who has recently moved to Sioux Falls you may not know the whole story about the biblical king that stands between the 10th and 11th street viaducts. Trust me, the road to Fawick Park wasn’t so smooth. Since David’s arrival in October of 1971 he has been the focus of political, cultural, religious, and economic debate. David is only one of two exact castings of Michelangelo’s original and really a priceless treasure. So why all the fuss? Well it’s a complicated story and here’s his legacy.

David first arrived in Sioux Falls in 1971 as a gift from the inventor and South Dakota native son Thomas Fawick. But it would take two years before he was dedicated. Fawick started David’s journey in Italy. It would take five years before David was introduced to Sioux Falls. Two years of it spent with negotiations with the Italian government for permission to use the original work in Florence, Italy, and three years of casting by the famous sculptor, Felix deWeldon who was commissioned by Fawick to complete the work. The value of the statue was estimated at $350,000 when David arrived on October 5, 1971 and if Fawick was alive today he may be surprised to here it is considered priceless by art constituents.

Thomas L. Fawick, is most famous for his inventions the ‘Fawick Flyer’, the first four door automobile, and the disc type tractor clutch. Fawick held nearly 200 patents for various other inventions like rubber engine mounts and tool grips. Fawick was born in Sioux Falls April 14, 1889. Fawick’s mechanical genius was established before the end of his grade school years and hence his great success and wealth. Fawick had a great appreciation for music and the arts having a large personal museum in Cleveland where he lived and developing the Fawick Violin and writing over 3000 musical compositions. He gave the gift of ‘David’ to the City of Sioux Falls in respect for the city of his birth and childhood years.

Michelangelo, most famous for painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, started sculpting the original David from an 18 foot marble block, starting in September 1501 and completing in May 1504. The statue was placed that same month at the entrance of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. It took 40 men four days to move the work from the Cathedral, where Michelangelo was working on the statue, to the building entrance where it rested for 370 years. David stood in the square until 1873 when a reproduction was made for the square and the original moved into the present location, the Academy Gallery. David was completed in the same era of the ‘Mona Lisa’ and the ‘Last Supper’. The art period was referred to as the ‘High Renaissance’ and a return to classicism. Though the Italians knew exactly where the original David should be placed after his completion, residents and city government officials of Sioux Falls weren’t as sure.

As David sat in storage for two years, the debate over where to place him began. Several locations were investigated. McKennan Park’s Sunken Gardens was deWeldon’s suggestion, but the city feared vandalism. After soil tests were conducted to make sure the ground could hold up the 3 1/2 ton statue and black granite base, the area between the 10th and 11th street viaducts was selected. The walkway that was being constructed at the time along the west bank of the Sioux River between the 9th street parking ramp and the downtown post office was one of the major reasons the spot was chosen. City Commissioner Earl McCart, at that time, felt the statue would receive maximum exposure from the traffic on the viaducts and the walkways that led up to David. The issue of where to place David was only one of the delays.

After a location was chosen the wait continued while the 9-foot base was being completed in Sweden at Fawick’s expense. It seemed there was finally some progress and soon David would be on public display. But a group of religious fanatics weren’t so excited about Fawick’s gift to the city and Augustana college.

Members of the Tabernacle Baptist Church felt David’s nudity would contribute moral decay in our community and felt the statue would be public pornography. Even though it seemed city officials ignored the requests of the church and finally placed David anyway in October of 1973, nearly two years after his arrival, there was another problem. David was facing the wrong direction. After he was placed facing the river and railroad yards with his back to traffic many residents complained. The city said they purposely faced David in the that direction because he would receive more sunlight. But to this day some residents will testify it was done to appease a few who were opposed to his nudity. In a way, everyone got there requests granted. But even after his first placement the controversy continued.

My mom once told me, “It’s the thought that counts”. A saying usually only used when someone gives you something not of material value. Tom Kilian, the executive vice president of Augustana College in 1976, basically said just that when ARTnews magazine claimed our ‘David’ and ‘Moses’ (another Michelangelo reproduction Fawick gave to Augustana College in 1974) were not exact castings. ARTnews claimed making copies from the original works was outlawed since the late 19th Century, unless permission was given from the Ministry of Fine Arts in Italy. The Ministry said that no permission was given in their recent memory. It didn’t help that deWeldon changed his story and said he only occasionally monitored the work done at the foundry, Fondaria Artistica Francesco Bruni, the place where ‘David’ and ‘Moses’ were made, instead of actually supervising the production. Supposedly the owner of the foundry told ARTnews that they own their own plaster casts of the statues and made the bronze casts in six months of work on ‘David’ and ‘Moses ‘. Which would probably put the cost of David at around $12,000 in 1971, not the earlier reported value of $350,000. Tom Kilian shot back by saying ARTnews tried to demean the value of the statues by saying they were made from plaster casts, made from the original statues, instead of rubber molds. Tom said it really didn’t matter because they were still made from the originals and everyone knows that they are copies, ‘David’ being one of only two in the world. Tom went on to say that Fawick gave us the statues out of a generous heart and at great personal effort and expense. Only Mr. Fawick knew how much their value was in the art market. But it wasn’t the first time the value of ‘David’ came up, or at least the value of another David destined for Sioux Falls.

This wasn’t the first time David came to Sioux Falls, or should I say almost came. In the summer of 1929, we almost got a copy of Michelangelo’s ‘David’. John Downer Hazen, a Sioux Falls musician and art lover, died, leaving $20,000 to the city to erect three statues, each a full-size reproduction. His will asked that the statues should be ‘David’ by Michelangelo, ‘Celleoni’ by Verrocchio and a horse statue by Donatello. The city accepted the gift happily, but there was one problem, there was only enough money to erect one statue, David. The provisions of the will claimed that either two or three statues could be erected but not just one. The heirs sued saying that since there was only enough money for one statue the rules of the will were broken and they deserved the money. The matter settled out of court and the city only received $12,000 of the inheritance, and since they needed $17,000 to erect at least one statue it never happened. But it probably would of never been erected anyway. News reports during that time said that erecting David in McKennan park caused some objections from city residents because of the nudity. It would take another four decades before David graced us in all his glory, not once, but twice.

To the dismay of art lovers, David was removed from Fawick park in the fall of 1997 before cleaning up contamination from an old gasification plant. Little did the residents of Sioux Falls know that the crews weren’t just digging up Fawick Park but opening a whole new can of worms in the ongoing public art debate in Sioux Falls. When David was taken down it was assumed that after the mess was cleaned up, Fawick Park would be rebuilt and David would be returned. It didn’t quite happen that way. Fawick Park was rebuilt and landscaped but David wasn’t returned, at first, that would take three years.

Once it was noticed that David wasn’t returned to Fawick Park people started asking “Where is He?”. Everyone assumed David was stored in City Hall, later he was found in a Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation outdoor storage lot. This is when residents started to pressure the city government to place David. City council members said they were opposed to returning David to Fawick because of flooding that might occur since the park was now lower and closer to the Big Sioux River. City council members wanted to place David in several different locations throughout the city. McKennan Park, Veterans Park and Fort Sod Park, West of Fawick Park, were all locations mentioned. After almost a two year debate it came down to either placing David back in Fawick Park or in the outdoor amphitheater at the Washington Pavilion. The City Council was seriously criticized for dragging their feet on this issue. After feeling the pressure of residents to make a final decision on the matter, the council had computer renderings made of what David would look like in both locations. The council unanimously decided in May of 2000 David would be best suited to be returned to his home in Fawick Park. The council felt it would be hard to view David at the Pavilion and if they put him in the Southwest corner of Fawick Park he would probably be safe from flooding. But the controversy doesn’t end there.

It would take another five months before he returned. It seemed the city didn’t set aside enough money to return David. After more pressure from residents and phone calls to city hall the city came up with the money. Finally in October the Jans Corp. placed David back in Fawick for a price tag of $67,000. David has been back in his home since. Just how long will David stick around this time? Well we hope this time it’s permanent. But if he has to move again, that’s okay, it looks like he travels light.

UPDATE: Terrace Park compromise?

UPDATE: There will be a meeting addressing the changes at the old council chambers in City Hall downtown this Wednesday at 4 PM.

Published on Jun 13, 2016

There are several things wrong with the events leading up to the meeting at Sioux Falls’ Terrace Park on Friday June 10, 2016. You will hear many of the complaints in the video but consider the plans and the outcome.

Destroying Spellerberg Park wasn’t enough for this administration, now this.

The Sioux Falls Park Department is planning a major change to a historic city landmark, again. We understand updating to keep something safe but once again in the history is being forgotten or rewritten because it happened before the management took over.

Notice in the discussion how the neighbors found out about this update just hours before the destruction-construction equipment was to show up. An afterthought story in the Friday Argus Leader talking about how the Historic Preservation Board DENIED the changes. So what does the Parks Department do? Put weird pressure on the protesting neighbors until they walk away defeated.

Let’s consider who was informed of the upcoming change, not the people who consider this their neighborhood park but just a small ring of “landowners” touching the park area. Instead of the Cathedral neighborhood, just 4 block landowners?

A Master Plan was drawn up by our friends at Confluence. Look at the straight line concrete path dissecting the park. It no longer is a meandering wander through the park but a let’s get through there fast. Why do we have to go to a park and be in a hurry? What’s the use?

Consider these paths have been treasured for 80 years. Why do we have to destroy them because a designer doesn’t understand the history of the rock and our attachment to it. Why do we have to always destroy what we do not understand?

There are many things this park management could do to keep the integrity and charm of the park but these things will not be considered because Don Kearney and Mike Huether must think use of our natural stone is messy and icky.

Parks are for people and they should be safe but why must we make them sterile?

We find it fitting to be destroying this park just to have the best view of the T. Denny another monstrosity to out of control egos.


The ‘much awaited’ Detroit Lewis SF Municipal Election endorsements

I decided that this year I will only do endorsements and not predictions. Many of the races and ballot issues are neck and neck and heated, and I have NO clue how this election will end up (well maybe, just a little).


Roger Russell. As Roger says himself;

Challenger Roger Russell, a Sioux Falls realtor, says board members should be responsive to parent’s concerns.  As a realtor Russell says he understands the importance of keeping property taxes low.

His competitor has been nothing but a suck-up for the Homan administration, and only after threatening phone calls did he and his fellow board members decide to change their vote on the pledge. So much for listening to the parents and constituents. It is the job of the school board to keep Homan in check, be a watch dog of property taxes, and an advocate for parents. Morrison has failed this on many levels. He told one substitute teacher on the phone that he could only correspond with her through the district attorney and hung up her. We have enough elitists in local government. Time to give Morrison his walking papers.


Greg Jamison. I know I have been accused of being an endorser of Jamison and his campaign, so I will clear that up right now. I am not.

I just really don’t care much for his opponent.

There are things that trouble me about Jamison, you probably feel the same, and this is my word of advice, you don’t have to vote for him. If you are disenfranchised by both candidates, leave it blank. But please, don’t vote for Mike.


Emmett Reistroffer. I have known Emmett and his extended family for a long time. I first met him when he volunteered to help Stehly and I with our tax petition drive.

He is smart, full of energy and well versed on the issues and has compassion for people. A rarity in politicians.

He would bring a breath of fresh air and youthfulness to a sometimes stodgy council.

As for his opponents, while I will give Steele credit for knowing his issues, and being a fiscal conservative, his social views make me cringe. As for Tex Golfing, not only does he still not know what the heck is doing after four years, his intent for reelection is worrisome. It is no secret that Rex is retired and owns a retirement home, far, far away, it seems the only reason he is running is to block Emmett or Manny. If Rolfing is reelected he could easily resign in a year – by law, for NO reason. He has denied to many that he will do that, but as I have told people in the past, ‘Never trust an insurance salesman’.


We all will come out a winner on this seat. I am impressed with both candidates on some issues, and not on others.

I believe they both possess the qualities to make decent councilors (Erickson/Pierson).

I will personally be voting for Pierson, but like I said, no losers here.


Rebecca Dunn is the obvious choice and not just because Erpenbach needs to go. Michelle has proven to be a lap dog for special interests and developers, just look at her campaign donor list. She has consistently bullied other councilors, help spear head the termination of former city clerk Debra Owen and has repeatedly stepped on the toes of other councilors to get agenda items on the council agenda without the consensus of her peers. She is also pro-censorship, something I DO NOT tolerate in elected officials.

But besides Michelle’s flaws, she would be replaced by a person who has legislative & leadership skills (it is Dunn’s line of work, and she served 8 years in the SD Legislature).

She has proven time and time again that she is very involved in this community, state and nation.

She lives in the Cathedral district home she grew up in and has fought to keep the established neighborhoods in this community viable.


Bonita Schwan is wonderful 🙂 While I can’t say a lot of negative things about Mr. Kiley (I have fielded many calls and emails that he is a standup guy) I was disappointed that in the last candidate forum he didn’t take a stand on any issue, and didn’t seem to be to versed on the issues (maybe that is why he did not take a stand). He seems to be a Johnny come lately recruit.

Quite the opposite with Schwan. Besides being involved with the Save Our Neighborhood group, Bonita is a single mother of four who has dedicated much of her time to local charities. She is a former Peace Corp volunteer and has years of experience in state government working for Governor Brandstad of Iowa.

She is also an expert on municipal bonding.

I would also like to say that Bonita has a heart of gold, and if you would want anyone on the council in your corner as a constituent, it would be Bonita.


I would vote YES on all the amendments. A & B are basic housekeeping due to the change of council meetings on Tuesday now instead of Monday nights. They are changing the charter to stating a specific week (the 3rd) instead of a day in reference to the swearing in of the new council and mayoral candidates. Nothing life-changing here. As for amendment C, this gives the council the power to help appoint or terminate the city attorney. While I would prefer the constituents vote for the city attorney, this is at least a step forward for checks and balances.

I believe our current city attorney and the past two were only lap dogs for the mayor (because they were appointed by them).

This would clarify just who the city attorney works for; our mayor, our council and ultimately us.


Vote YES for Snowgates. They have been proven throughout the country to be effective and some communities have been using them for almost 40 years. This is NOT a new public service, it is simply an extension of one we are already receive (except this winter) – plowing our streets properly.

The city has an obligation to plow the streets correctly, and this is one way to oblige their obligation.

We already pay for the service so why not make it better? This is also something that not only helps homeowners, it helps  business owners, pedestrians and many others throughout the community.


Vote YES for an outdoor pool at Spellerberg. Where to begin?

1) If the outdoor pool is approved, it does not mean we have to build another aquatic park like at Drake Springs. There are many options. We could build a traditional lap pool, we could also build a natural filtration pool like they are in Minneapolis, with a beach and NO admission charges. The options are endless.

2) If the measure fails, there is NO guarantee they would build an indoor pool at the location. They could just fill the old pool in and leave it as green space. The NEW council will have to approve funding/bonds for a new indoor pool at the location.

3) It affects the parking at the VA if an indoor pool is built.

4) There is a ‘quit claim’ deed on the property from the Feds, they could refuse to give approval of an indoor facility.

5) It is the wrong location for a gigantic indoor facility, with no room for expansion.

6) There needs to be a private/public partnership for an indoor facility due to how much it will cost to operate each year (around $1 million).


Vote NO. While Shape Places is a great document, it needs some tweaks. These tweaks will NOT take place if it is passed ‘AS IS’. The city directors and council will simply accept the ordinance for what it is.

If you vote against it, it will force the council and city directors to tweak the ordinance before the council votes it into law.

The ‘tweak’ that needs to take place is putting CUP (the conditional use permit) back into the ordinance, which allows citizens and neighborhoods to have input on zoning changes. This is why SON referred the measure. It is essential that this is put back into the ordinance before it passes, and why revoking it would force the council and city to do so. This isn’t just about Walmart and other big developments and retailers, this is about your neighborhood.


Vote No. Before I get into a rant about Walmart, this is really about zoning, and how much input ‘established’ neighborhoods have in zoning. The SON neighborhood consists of homes that were mostly built before 2009 when the city changed the zoning designation of the proposed Walmart. These people did their research, and built their homes, now the city wants to pull the rug out from underneath them. I encourage anyone to drive through this area, these are beautiful homes and clearly not a place where you would want ANY big box retailer.

It would be the equivalent of dropping a Walmart on top of McKennan Park. Wonder how that would go over? Like a freaking lead balloon.

This issue should concern all homeowners in this city, not just those on the edge. It is about having tenure in your neck of the woods.

I would also like to say, that SON is not opposed to retail at the 85th and Minnesota location, in fact they invite it. Walmarts have a tendency (especially super stores) to bring an element of high density traffic and host of other problems.

Walmart’s argument of more tax collection and job creation is a weak one. Even if Walmart is denied this location, they could build across Highway 100 and create the same tax benefits and job creation. Walmart also has a reputation of cannibalizing other businesses and not really creating any NEW tax revenue.

It is a disgrace to our community that our local Chamber would encourage a YES vote on this project, knowing damn well the damage Walmarts do to local business, their very members.

Walmart also has a reputation of being a horrible employer that encourages it’s employees to suck off of Federal programs like Medicade and SNAP. A recent study showed that on an average, each Walmart costs Federal taxpayers about $1.7 million PER STORE, PER YEAR to subsidize their employees, and that’s just Federal money. Locally and on a state level, taxpayers will have to subsidize the traffic and other infrastructure costs associated with the construction.

SON will say this is ONLY about zoning, but I personally think this is about Walmart, the biggest welfare queen of them all.


Of course, you don’t have to take my advice. But I do advise everyone to research all the candidates and measures on their own and make an informed decision.

The best place to vote is at the County Administration building at 6th and Minnesota.

Absentee voting begins this Monday, March 24th. If you wait until April 8th, remember you can vote at ANY of these Vote Centers;

1. First Lutheran Church, 327 South Dakota Avenue

2. Memorial Middle School, 1401 South Sertoma Avenue

3. Maricar Community Center, 400 North Valley View Road

4. Oyate Community Center, 2421 West 15th Street

5. Wesley United Methodist Church, 1700 East Sixth Street

6. Sioux Falls Arena, 1201 North West Avenue

7. Peace Lutheran Church, 5509 West 41st Street

8. Kenny Anderson Community Center, 3701 East Third Street

9. Morningside Community Center, 2400 South Bahnson Avenue

10. Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 5500 East 57th Street

11. Faith Baptist Fellowship Hall, 601 West 57th Street

12. Asbury United Methodist Church, 2425 South Western Avenue

13. Instructional Planning Center, 201 East 38th Street

Whittier neighborhood, the city’s social services dumping area?


“We should help the less fortunate among us, but move them out of my neighborhood first.”

I have been kind of on the fence about the expansion of a DAYTIME homeless shelter. On one hand, it will be needed, after the Good Shepard & Salvation Army close, and it will probably help alleviate some of the problems in the Whittier neighborhood with panhandlers and harassing neighbors.

BUT, on the other hand, it just seems our city has a track record of ‘moving’ these kind of problematic services into the Whittier neighborhood instead spreading them throughout the city. This shelter could be in several locations, in fact, one business owner suggested putting it in the VACANT Cathedral school, too which the new Planning Commission chair Nick ‘Mr. Bossy Pants Interrupter Jerk boy’ Sershen said it was too close to Hawthorne elementary (which he really meant to say it was too close to the Cathedral and the Bishop’s residence. The irony is that Bishop Swain talks about the sacrifice the Whittier neighborhood should make to help the least amongst us in a letter to the editor, yet doesn’t suggest the shelter be in his neighborhood.) But;

Krista Baartman, a member of the Whittier Neighborhood Association, said one of her biggest concerns is the proposed shelter’s proximity to Whittier Middle School.

“This is 100 feet out of the boundary for the school,” she said. “Are we going to be looking at violent criminals or sex offenders? We don’t know.”

And as a FB Whittier neighborhood commenter pointed out;

As a neighborhood, we already go above and beyond to help the low income and homeless citizens of Sioux Falls. Our concern as homeowners, business owners and parents is that the proposed size of the facility is 3x larger than the current Good Shepherd location and that no stipulations have been placed on the facility to outline their policy on drug and alcohol use, violent criminals and/ or sex offenders. As residents of the neighborhood, we have every right to be concerned. This facility is 2 blocks from Whittier Middle School and across the street from a very popular public swimming pool. These facilities are not used only by our neighborhood, but by a large number of residents in the city of Sioux Falls.

I truly believe the Diocese’s heart is in the right place for wanting to help this sector of our community, but they really need to find a different place. I have suggested closer to the courthouse, community health center and jail would make the most sense right on Minnesota Avenue. I have a feeling there is a push from the Uptown developers to get that stuff out of that area though.

Good thing SON had Shape Places revoked, or the Whittier neighborhood couldn’t protest the homeless shelter

A couple of ‘special’ stories.

The first talks about a conditional use permit going before the planning commission concerning unhappy neighbors near The Banquet objecting to the proposed Catholic diocese homeless shelter. If SON had not referred Shape Places, these folks wouldn’t even have the opportunity to voice their current concerns to anyone. SON has said all along that if the city can do this in their neighborhood, they can do it in yours too.

The second story by Don Jorgensen demonstrates the complete lack of integrity by Sioux Falls City Planner Jeff Schmitt as he continues his “educational” crusade to convince people that somehow the Walmart at 85th and Minnesota is NOT related to Shape Places. In his words, they “just happened” to be before the city council at the same time. Sure Jeff.

Just like the story concerning the proposed homeless shelter above, had SON not referred Shape Places when they did, there would not be an opportunity for citizens to voice their concerns over the proposed Walmart, and the good folks at Henry Carlson Company like Meredith Larson, Diane Derry and Dawn Hass (or is it Haas?), would be rolling in the dough.

Meredith Larson, the vice president of preconstruction services for Henry Carlson Co., has been on the commission for 10 years. He was one of four commissioners this week to vote in favor of the rezoning on a 4-2 vote.

Henry Carlson has done millions of dollars of work for Walmart here and in the region over the past several years. But, Larson said, all of that work was earned through a competitive bidding process. And any work that Walmart awards in building two new stores in Sioux Falls — including the controversial store at 85th Street and Minnesota Avenue — also would be awarded through a competitive process.

Jeff, who serves at the pleasure of Mayor Huether, keeps telling people if Shape Places doesn’t pass, Sioux Falls is headed straight back to 1983. Nothing could be further from the truth. The current Sioux Falls zoning ordinances have been continuously improved and amended since 1983 hundreds of times. These are the same zoning ordinances that have served the city of Sioux Falls well through record growth for years now, (i.e. nearly $600 million in building permits last year).

Under the proposed Shape Places, the Conditional Use Permitting (CUP) process will be removed. The folks with SON realized last spring that if Shape Places passed they would no longer have any input under the CUP Process as it related to the proposed Walmart at 85th & Minnesota. Before referring Shape Places last spring, SON asked the city council to please keep the CUP process as part of the proposed Shape Places amendments to ensure continued citizen input as it relates to development near their property (see above story again concerning the homeless shelter if you forgot how important that is). The city council, Jeff Schmitt and other planning staff told the people with SONNO’ when Shape Places was passed. Not to be ignored, that decision was subsequently referred to a vote by SON.

The rest is history. So, for a short while at least, the citizens in Sioux Falls, like those living near The Banquet will still have the right to voice their concerns over proposed developments in their neighborhoods thanks to the efforts of SON. A vote No on April 8th against Shape Places will allow that long-standing input from our fellow citizens to remain a part of our city’s future for years to come.

And to further comment on the Whittier neighborhood situation. I do agree with the Diocese that there needs to be a ‘DAY’ warming facility. But a more appropriate place would be by the county shelter Downtown by the jail and courthouse. Or even a better idea would be to move the Diocese’s humble servant, the Bishop into a more appropriate living arrangement, like a one bedroom apartment and convert his home into a shelter 🙂

I have felt all along this is a political move, the downtown developers don’t like the Good Shepard facility only a few blocks from all of their luxury condos they are building, so why not move the shelter to the poorest neighborhood in the city, right next to the The Banquet? Let someone else (the working poor, who don’t already have enough problems in this crappy economy) deal with the homeless.

How dare the ‘Specials’ who live downtown or even the Cathedral neighborhood elites have to look at or deal with the homeless!

While I commend the Diocese for wanting to fill a void in our community, I also commend the Whittier neighborhood for standing up to it. We can do better, and find a more appropriate location, but it’s so easy to kick the little man when he is down? Isn’t it? Heck they even kick the bigger man (upper middle-class SON neighborhood) because while they are partially ‘Special’ they are not ‘Extra Special’ like the biggest ‘Specials’ of our community.

A South DaCola foot soldier contributed to this post.