You know what they say, even if you know your are wrong, never admit it, just dig in deeper. During the latest episode of Inside Town Hall in which Councilor Brekke tells us to eat more vegetables and drive electric cars, Jensen continues to push the narrative that if we just give contractors and developers even more tax breaks we will get more housing (he supports legislative proposals that would create entire neighborhood TIFs, instead of individual homeowners and a rebate of excise taxes to contractors). While at the same time promoting (low-wage) workers to live someplace else. When it comes to affordable and accessible housing, it starts at the bottom, not at the top. But not in Sioux Falls, hand all the TIFilicious goodies to the ones at the top hoping they will throw us some crumbs while spray painting the poorer neighborhoods sidewalks.
And why would we NOT think Alex’s plan wouldn’t work? He works at the number #1 bank in the Nation, and he had no problem advertising the place while appearing on a tax payer funded program. Actually surprised me because every time he sits on the dais at Carnegie he has no problem flaunting his SF City Council logo wear puffy vest we all paid for (even though I suggested they just all get magnetic badges instead). It must have been at the cleaners when he recorded this show so he had to wear his primary employer’s vest instead.
I was a little surprised that a former state legislator and current city councilor could be so confused about how the city can apply TIFs. During his interview on KELO AM (Sept 21) Jensen says the city should use TIFs for affordable and accessible housing. Imagine my surprise, especially since Jensen gleefully voted for 3 TIFs totaling $144 million that have ZERO to do with affordable housing. But what he said about what needs to change really surprised me even more. Jensen said the state has to change laws in order to do that. Huh?
While the State could certainly do that, it is not necessary. As I have proposed, with Home Rule we can make our charter stricter than State Law, we just cannot violate the law;
Application for TIF will only be accepted for projects that will eliminate blight, build density in the core, and simultaneously provide affordable and workforce housing. Home rule charter allows the city to be stricter than state law.
There are three ways we could go about this change. The easiest would be the council just proposing the change and voting on it. That would be as simple as a presentation about the change and a 1st and 2nd reading. The next easiest would be my proposal above and have the CRC put the change on the ballot and let the voters make that change. There is also a 3rd option which would be the hardest and that would be to do a petition drive to get it on the ballot.
This is why Jensen’s statement baffles me. The Council and himself already have the power to make this change, we don’t have to wait for the legislature to do something. And if he really believed that TIFs should only be applied this way why did he vote for three that have to do with parking ramps, slush funds and Korean owned egg roll factories?
Talking out of both sides of your butt must be a vampire thing.
UPDATE: Jensen also touches on this during inside Town Hall. Alex offers some strange solutions to our housing shortages;
â€¢ Encourage people to live in our neighboring small communities. So basically he is telling people to come to SE South Dakota to work in Sioux Falls, but BTW, we don’t have any room for you in our town. So once you punch out, and go home please take those wages you made in Sioux Falls and pay your taxes in Tea or Brandon or Crooks.
I have suggested for over a decade you could do a pilot program in a core neighborhood in a 4-6 block radius. The city would fix the roads, water, sewer, curb, gutter, city owned sidewalks and lighting. You then could get the residents and property owners in that sector to sign onto a group tax incentive program thru community development to fix up the properties. Depending on income levels the help could be tax rebates or NO or LOW interest loans. As we have seen, the Mayor already has the discretionary power to that.
â€¢ Senator Jack Kolbeck brought up TIFs. Either Jack is naive or he is in on the scam, but he wants to get the TIF down to 0% for developers and eliminate excise taxes for them. He then says “So they can pass the savings down to the consumer/renter.” The tired old Reaganomics argument of trickle down. If you are giving the tax cut to the developer, the developer or contractor will simply put that money in their pocket. They know with the demand of housing in Sioux Falls they have NO reason to pass ‘savings’ on down to the consumer. The tax breaks should go to the consumer once the home is purchased. Trickle down DOES NOT WORK, we have proof of this with the enormous income gap that was created by these horrible policies.
â€¢ Jack also brings up expanding the prison built homes project to Sioux Falls prison. While I am all for this program, I think the inmates should get paid better for it, I also think they should have job guarantees in the industry when they get out and work it into their probation or parole.
I’m not saying the city needs to do this all at once or even change existing ordinances, just try a pilot program based on existing zoning and laws. Shape Places already fixed a hurdle that allows residential areas like this to either fix up or expand their properties. This isn’t rocket science folks. It’s what I told a friend the other day about the issues at the Dudley House. We have this desire in local government to re-invent the wheel and make things complicated while giving them fancy names. We don’t have to do that, we can get simple straight forward ideas from other communities on what works and we don’t even need to travel or pick up a phone to do it. You can get online and see thousands of projects. It just takes time, research and google. When I used to be a full-time graphic designer a fellow designer told me his secret to being so good, ‘90% of my ideas are stolen’.
The only problem is you will have to be late for work to have that conversation with them;
Public Invited to Discuss Strategies to Expand Homeownership in Sioux FallsÂ Councilors Alex Jensen and Christine Erickson will hear from citizens on how the city can make homeownership more accessible in Sioux Falls. Ideas gained from this outreach effort could be used for future legislative efforts intended to tackle the lack of homeownership opportunities.Â When: Thursday, May 20thÂ Where: HyVee at 37thÂ and MinnesotaÂ Time: 7:30am to 9:00amÂ
I have often noticed that if city councilors really want to hear from constituents they have these kind of meetings on a Saturday or after 5 PM. The Vice-CountCilor and Errackticson have ZERO interest in talking to constituents about these issues, that is why they are doing it on a Thursday morning when most working class stiffs are at work. Jensen even said in the meeting yesterday something like,Â â€œWe would like to discuss these ideas with developers and contractors, oh, and I guess the public can come to.â€ You can’t make this stuff up, even if you tried.
Soehl didn’t even bother to show up tonight and got elected Chair (he was vice-chair). While Jensen hasn’t even been there a year, he got elected vice-chair, even though Brekke or Starr deserved the position. This was obviously political and partisan. Brekke and Starr tend to question the other councilors and administration and probably the reason they were not nominated. I don’t think Starr was interested but I think Brekke did want to be vice-chair. Further proof in this town and city government it is who you know, not what you know. Erickson got elected to operations committee even though she is done in about a year. Probably one of the most pathetic council chair elections I have ever seen, but certainly not shocking.
UPDATE: Supposedly Councilor Selberg should have recused himself from this vote also since the developer he is working for is considering investing in this project also. It’s hard to keep track of all the conflicts these councilors have.
Don’t get me wrong, he probably did the right thing, but he gave little explanation why he recused himself. He did site this city code;
30.017 VOTING PROCEDURE. City council members may not abstain from voting, but may absent themselves from the meeting by physically leaving the meeting at the time an item is called by the clerk. Members with a financial interest in a matter shall disclose that interest and shall absent themselves from the meeting by physically leaving the meeting while the matter is considered.
In item #48 tonight at the city council meeting there was a controversial apartment zoning, the applicants are Cresten Capital Holdings. Without mentioning specific names, individuals investors in this group gave heavily to Jenson’s council campaign. Jensen also works for a bank that could be helping to fund this project.
Two great reasons to recuse himself.
The remaining seven councilors voted to move it to 2nd reading.
My only concern is the influence Jensen may have behind the scenes with planning staff and other councilors and one of the biggest reasons I opposed him on the council because of all the conflicts of interest he has financially with the city not only because of the bank he works for but deals like this.
Like I said, he did the right thing by recusing himself, but I would sure like an explanation from a councilor who bought his seat on this council with the very money he received from the investors in this project.