Entries Tagged 'County Commission' ↓

Stehly; It’s about the petitioner’s right, not the issue

Former Sioux Falls City Councilor, Theresa Stehly addressed the Minnehaha County Commission during public input today (FF 1:02). Stehly points out that it doesn’t matter if you are for or against an issue, you should still support people’s right to petition.

She also wondered why the auditor and the MCC hasn’t been more helpful helping citizens petition.

Minnehaha County Commission will cave on 1st Amendment case

As I predicted the policy banning petitioners from certain areas of the courthouse grounds was unconstitutional, and a Federal judge agrees for now;

A federal judge has temporarily blocked a policy recently approved by the Minnehaha County Commission that would have restricted where petition circulators could gather signatures near two county buildings in downtown Sioux Falls.

I also predict the commission will cave on the lawsuit and this will never make the light of day in a courtroom. Unlike the city, the county isn’t real keen on fighting lawsuits, especially ones that have the constitution on their side.

While I do know the name of the former Republican Legislator who pushed a petitioner, I am keeping that under wraps for now just in case it becomes an issue in court.

Maybe our new auditor needs to read Kristi Noem’s book, because she could use some help in her second rodeo.

UPDATE: Does Minnehaha County Auditor’s petition ‘policy’ violate 1st Amendment Rights?

UPDATE: There has been a rumor circulating that this all came about because a PETITIONER filed a protection order against a former Republican State Legislator. I’m not going to finger him until I know for sure, but it seems like his style since he is MAGA and supports abortion without protections. I guess he pushed a (pro-choice) petitioner and that is why they filed the order. But what is bizarre is that the petitioner was the one being harassed NOT the people walking by the petitioners. Maybe the county needs to have a policy that protects petitioners from MAGgots.

While I have heard from others that they were being ‘harassed’ by petitioners I personally never have. I either say yes or no and walk off. People who have the impression they are being harassed would have never signed your petition anyway.

Either way, petitioners have 1st Amendment rights to gather in public spaces, especially for petition gathering, the County Auditor thinks differently;

One will be in the Minnesota Avenue parking lot on the west side of the administration building, about 25 feet from the main entry where residents often enter to take care of automobile registration, voting and other county business.

The other will be adjacent to the county courthouse on the south sidewalk but away from the two stairways that lead to the main entryway.

I find it ironic those who claim to be on the side of Liberty, Freedom and Justice want to TRY to limit our Constitutional Rights. This is an obvious attempt at limiting petition gathering since this is one of the best places to gather signatures, and they know it.

I encourage any petitioner to ignore the rules and petition in front of the main entries and if threatened with arrest I would remind them you have a 1st Amendment Right to petition the government, especially on tax payer owned property. The County Commission and County Auditor do NOT have the constitutional authority to do this (that is why they call this a ‘policy’ and not a law or ordinance, because it is just a suggestion and they know it).

The County Commission ate it up and voted full authoritarian unanimously to limit the areas (FF: 24:00)

Should Air BnB (short term rentals) be regulated in Sioux Falls?

The short answer is YES, but it is complicated. I’m all for regulating this industry but we should probably only do some small changes instead of broad sweeping changes that will hurt the industry.

One thing to remember is that most of the people who manage and own short term rentals in Sioux Falls are local owners who use local contractors and local goods and services. In other words any capital made from these rentals is circulated back into the local economy unlike a franchised hotel.

Minnehaha county has dialed back a bit on their recommended regulations;

Regulations for these short-term rentals would include:

  • A maximum occupancy of no more than three people per bedroom,
  • Requiring a minimum of one off-street parking space per guest bedroom,
  • The properties must be registered with the state as a vacation home,
  • And contact info for the owner/manager of the rental must be both submitted to the county planning department and displayed within the home.

I think two off-street parking spots is plenty. But instead of regulating how many people can stay in a room or how many cars can park there there should be regulations when it comes to registration of the property (state, city and county). There should also be quarterly health inspections, a small registration fee and a BID tax.

The city has just been mulling the idea, but there is talk they want to remove short term rentals from residential neighborhoods. First the obvious, if these are NOT in residential neighborhoods, where would they be? This of course would be an attempt to eliminate the short term rental business in Sioux Falls to delight of the hotel industry.

Short term rentals already have to follow the same ordinances as a homeowner or a long term rental so any other regulations would be above and beyond. But since this is a hospitality industry operating in Sioux Falls there should be a BID tax applied. All the other regulations are simply mushy-mash busy work bureaucrats cooked up.

Minnehaha County proposing NEW $50 Million dollar JDC facility

A heads up to a journalist who called me yesterday asking if I knew about THIS & THIS (he also wanted to know if I was at the meeting yelling in the background 🙂 I was not, only LOSERS do that).

I did know that there has been planning for it over the past 3 years but it was kind of a sticker shock considering they will have to bond for it (higher property taxes). While the City of Sioux Falls is throwing $10 million at a college for ‘landscaping and other stuff’ the county is borrowing money for kid jails. Maybe we could spend $60 million on an advanced tech mentorship program from DSU to public school students in Sioux Falls. Now that’s crime prevention. I’m sure Matt Paulson is all over it!

Minnehaha County Commission votes 4-1 to move Public Input to the end of the meetings

During regular public input at the beginning of the meeting several citizens spoke out about moving public input, including myself.

It was the last agenda item on the meeting and during that discussion they voted to move it to the end but did take Barth’s amendment to leave it at 5 minutes instead of 3. He was the dissenting vote.

I reminded the MCC that this was the public’s time and the word DISSENT is in the 1st Amendment.

UPDATE: Minnehaha County Commission joins City Council’s attempt to limit public input

I saw this coming when people concerned about election integrity and opposition to the CO2 pipeline started showing up to MCC meetings;

But having those comment sessions at the beginning of meetings delays other work. And members of the public who are at a meeting for a specific item have to sit through lengthier public comment sessions.

The new policy, which hasn’t been adopted yet, would also reduce comment from five minutes to three.

(See Former Mayor Mike Huether’s 9 minute public input at the MCC meeting as a private property owner)

They of course are using the tired old argument that the ONE person asking for a rezone has to wait through public input, as if the public’s sentiments are not important.

“When I started, we didn’t have a time constraint,” Commission Chairwoman Cindy Heiberger said. “People rarely came to talk to us.”

That has changed, particularly in recent months with people who doubt the county’s election integrity.

Besides lowering the time limit to three minutes, the new policy would forbid speakers from using electronic recordings in their presentations, and paper handouts would have to be handed out in advance.

The reason people rarely show up to the meetings is because you have them at 9 AM on a Tuesday morning when common folk are working, it has very little to do with people being HAPPY with county government, they simply don’t know what you do because you conduct your business in non-opportune time slots and take days to post the replay of the meeting.

Commissioner Jeff Barth, who is soon to be retired from the commission, said the status quo has worked “pretty well” in his two decades as an observer and member of the commission.

“The fact that there has been some abuse in recent times isn’t a reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” he said. 

But that is what authoritarians do. When a couple of supposed bad apples show up and actually DISSENT the government their first reaction is to squash that dissent. The Sioux Falls City Council literally changed their public input policy because ONE person called the mayor an SOB, guess what, that person still comes and speaks at the meetings. You accomplished nothing except disenfranchising the rest of the public who have legitimate dissent.

As I have told the council in the past, general public input isn’t for birthday announcements and back patting it is to make our representative government aware of issues in the community. Sometimes those issues don’t have cute names like ONE, 52 or 437.

The more you limit the public to express themselves the more out of touch our government becomes.

Minnehaha County Commission denies public input on CO2 pipeline

Besides the fact that the commission gave the green light for the pipeline to move forward (4-1 vote, Barth dissented) they also told the attendees there would be NO public input because the chair said it ‘wasn’t a public hearing.’ Ok, what the Hell would you call a public meeting with a posted agenda item? A church potluck?

14) Consider a Temporary Zoning Ordinance on Gas and Liquid Transmission Pipelines

They did follow state law by allowing general public input at the beginning of the meeting, but you are NOT allowed to comment on agenda items. I would encourage attendees to file an open meetings violation against the commission for denying them their 1st Amendment Rights and the use of Prior Restraint by the Chair. Barth asked for public input and the chair said they have pretty much heard enough thru phone calls and emails. So are those emails and phone calls going to be posted online so people can see those conversations?

Take the Money and Run!

So the Minnehaha County Commission got a surprise this morning;

Knife River Corp., owner of the former Concrete Materials Co., has offered Minnehaha County $65 million for the  William H. Lyon Fair Grounds.

Maybe it wasn’t that big of a surprise.

A 1999 task force went through a similar exercise with consultants and concluded the fair needed $31 million in capital improvements, but the county didn’t identify a source for the funds, Meyer said.

“It also struggled to develop an operating business model that made the fair self-sustaining and no longer continually dependent upon county subsidies as it is today,” he said.

I had a discussion with a Commissioner before the task force was created and said that if Knife River puts forth a good offer they should take it. The Fairgrounds are crumbling and Knife River needs aggregate to keep Sioux Falls growing, but there are some legal issues;

Commissioner Jean Bender, who is an attorney, said the county does not have a clear legal path to sell the property.

“That land was a gift to the county, and that gift is very tightly constrained, and the risk is if we sell that property that that property would go back to the heirs, and the county would get nothing,” she said. “So there are very significant legal impediments, which is why it hasn’t been done in the past.”

I actually think the county could overcome those hurdles, and they really should;

“If you ever want to bankrupt somebody, give them a white elephant,” Commissioner Dean Karsky said. “We have something we have to take care of, but we have no revenue source to do that.”

I have suggested that after a successful sale, the county could relocate the fair to a smaller community in the county like Dell Rapids, Brandon, Hartford, etc. The new fairgrounds could start with tent rentals and really doesn’t need a grandstand. We have plenty of entertainment options in Sioux Falls, we don’t need another concert facility. If they put the $65 million in an endowment to fund the fair moving forward, it could work well.

I hope the commission doesn’t sit on their hands and explores other options.

Minnehaha County Commission introduces Public Input Time Limits & Broken Ice

While I would love to blame the Commission for the authoritarian move to put a time limit on public input, it seems the Trumper election deniers have ruined it for the rest of us. The group (who obviously believe Trump won the election) have been berating the Commission over the past couple of months about election integrity and all the supposed problems with our elections like drop boxes, mail in ballots and of course fake news.

So the Commission has decided to change their long standing rule of NOT having a time limit on public input to now having a 5 Minute limit (with a cute little clock on the big screen) and similar to the SF School Board a sign up sheet, to which the chair said was to make sure they are spelling the public inputers names correctly. It is also a very nifty way to turn them over to the NSA, CIA and FBI ðŸ˜Š

While I totally understand the annoyance of ignorant morons who watch to much Newsmaxx (the city council has the march of the Anti-vaxxers that show up each week), I think instead of changing a long standing public input rule maybe the commission needs to change the rules of engagement with the inputers. I think a lot of times at public meetings, whether it is city council, school board or county commission some of these issues can be quickly resolved if you would just answer their questions on the spot. They may not like the answer, but if you are clear with them that they got a response there would be no reason to show up week after week complaining about the same stuff while building up their conspiracy theories.

After watching this, I have come to a different conclusion on ‘general’ public input. It really isn’t about the time limit, the position on the agenda of even decorum, it’s more about the governmental body interacting with the public during this time. But you will never get that since most of the local governmental bodies are run by authoritarians who want to keep their backroom deals and schemes secret. Just watch how the chair of the Lincoln County Commission runs the meetings . . . scary stuff.

ICE RINK AT EVENTS CENTER MALFUNCTIONS

The Denty having to cancel the Stampede games this weekend due to malfunctioning icing equipment is a flashing warning sign of what is coming for taxpayers. If you think the $10 million a year mortgage is draining us, wait until major upkeep and maintenance starts. The building is getting to the age that this stuff needs to start being budgeted for (7+ years old). Just look at the Pavilion, a place that was supposed to cost us $19 million has probably gone far beyond $100 million in maintenance and upgrades over the past 20+ years, and this is just a small facility compared to the Denty. A city official told me recently they will have to start budgeting major maintenance expenses starting next year (like siding replacement) and the price tag will NOT be small. I still think the Denty (besides the bunker ramp) was one of the stupidest investments this city ever made that sends around $20 million in profits straight out of town and out of state every year never to be recirculated locally, and don’t get me started on the location!