What a week of craziness in Sioux Falls. Most of what I am going to talk about deserves a full blog post, but I decided more of a snark;

• Classified documents at Carnegie Town Hall. Last night a constituent told me they showed up to the city council meeting and went to the entry podium to collect the agenda. To their surprise there was a stack of legal documents sitting on the podium. They suspected they were left there accidentally and turned them over to the council.

At least they didn’t find them crumpled up in the toilet.

• The Sioux Falls City Council hires a new city clerk. Mr. Washington was hired Tuesday night by the council. Mr. Washington was NOT in attendance (he lives in Rapid City) but I was at least expecting a phone in to answer a few benign questions. Nope. Council Chair Selberg said he was a great guy and they voted for him. The council did have a private interview with Mr. Washington but it would have been nice to get an intro to the public.

• 1st Amendment Minnehaha County case taking to long to decide. Call me old school, but when I read the 1st Amendment it is not to hard to figure out, especially this line;

to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I’m puzzled why it would take so long for a Federal Judge to make such an easy decision? It will be interesting to see what is carved out for the county, because it doesn’t take over 20 days to figure out our civil rights.

• Minnehaha County Commissioners bail on carbon setbacks. Not surprising the new bought and paid for MCC has decided that property owners only get 300 feet to save themselves from an exploding pipeline. How thoughtful of them. I still concede that in 10 years most hazardous pipelines are moth balled as we realize the benefits and cost saving measures of wind, solar and nuclear. This is a money making scheme and always has been.

• Pride Festival this weekend! The good news is we get to celebrate LOVE this weekend, the sad part is there are still elected officials in our community who refuse to acknowledge that love. F’k em! They would ruin the party anyway!

• YIELD FOR BICYCLISTS! I was in three close calls this week, one was my fault, but I encourage drivers to always be aware of your surroundings and look for pedestrians, motorcycles and bicyclists. I also encourage bicyclists to be sharp when riding and yield twice.

• Rapid City gets a new mayor! So this former Veteran, Banker, Alderman and current Pastor wants to be the next mayor of Rapid City. Awesome! I still liked the O’SHT face on him when he had his first presser. He’s going to figure it out. Well if you are so inclined to share your secret recipes, can you pass them on to our mayor? You can usually catch him doing calisthenics with kids at one of our private Sioux Falls Christian schools. I know, super weird.

• Show me the money! Once again city officials had no problem taking money from our old father time and faux namesake of our city. Gifts are Gifts but one has to wonder about funding a spray park for kids with a selfie photo booth? Not to mention a project that has ballooned from around $4 million to four times that. Not sure why we need Disneyland at Falls Park?

The ‘donations’ always crack me up. They are paying for ADDITIONAL infrastructure that we have to maintain for decades as taxpayers. Not sure what the benefit is? It’s kind of like being handed your dream car for free (mine is the Ferrari Dino) but you have to maintain it, pay the taxes and fees on it, store it and insure it. I will stick with my Civic.

• More rail traffic in Sioux Falls. I have virtually given up moving the trains out of Sioux Falls, but what troubles me is that citizens have no avenue of addressing this locally, statewide or Federally. Ironically, roadblocks have been systematically setup over decades by the vicious control by our railroads.

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.

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: 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)

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.