Entries Tagged 'County Commission' ↓

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!

Minnehaha County Commission Approves Bonuses without Vaccination Mandate

What has baffled me about all the local government bodies across the state approving Covid bonuses for employees from federal money is the lack of a mandate. While the mostly conservative SCOTUS has thrown out government mandated vaccinations it seems puzzling to me we would give bonuses to county employees for working through Covid yet not requiring them to be vaccinated. They mention that the jail staff had to be exposed to Covid but don’t say anything about requiring them to get a vaccination. I don’t think any public safety officer or government employee should receive a bonus unless they prove they have been fully vaccinated and boosted. You would avoid officially mandating it, and you would create an incentive to get it. It seems silly to me that we would reward people for working through Covid yet allowing the ones without a vaccination to expose citizens that come in contact with them.

What about the healthcare costs for taxpayers of unvaccinated county employees?

The massive hypocrisy of local governments willingly taking Federal Covid money and dispersing it as Covid retention bonuses without the requirement of vaccination is mind boggling.

How did Lincoln County Commissioner Tiffani Landeen even get elected?

On occasion I will watch the Lincoln County Commission meetings now that they stream on YouTube. I asked someone the other day that knows some of the other commissioners, “How on earth did Landeen even get elected let alone the chair of the commission?” His response was that several of the commissioners use one word to describe Landeen; AWFUL.

If you watch how she conducts the meetings, how she treats petitioners, how she treats the fellow commissioners and how she votes it is baffling that someone like this can be on a governing body. Especially Landeen’s history as Turner County’s states attorney and her misguided seizure of a supposed puppy mill with a warrant that was cooked up without any real evidence.

“Christensen sued HSUS, Turner County officials, the now-defunct Second Chance Rescue Center,  and its founder,  Rosey Quinn,”  wrote Hult.  “Christensen’s federal lawsuit dragged on for more than five years.  He succeeded against Quinn and former Turner County state’s attorney Tiffani Landeen-Hoeke,  but his claims against HSUS and other Turner County officials were dismissed.”

While I consistently disagree with local lawmakers on certain votes and policy decisions, and do call for them to resign due to conflicts of interest and being generally ignorant or unfit for public service, when someone like Landeen comes along you really scratch your head and wonder how someone continues to get elected in different branches of government.

Is the Fairgrounds Task Force a backdoor way to sell the land for a quarry?

Well, we should have seen this coming a mile away;

Minnehaha County commissioners will consider a resolution Tuesday on whether to establish a task force that would review and establish a future vision for the William H. Lyon Fair Grounds.


“It’s very much a concerted effort of the entire commission,” Commissioner Dean Karsky said. “We just know we need to address it, the public expects it, and we feel the fairgrounds deserves the attention it needs.”

The only thing to address is a purchase agreement. It is no secret that a North Dakota company wants to buy the land for a quarry, but before they can do that, they have to figure out what to do with the fair;

In creating the task force, the commission “seeks to focus future county investments, community support and donor gifts, both for facilities and general operating support, to best meet the needs of the community and the intent of the Lyon’s gift,” according to the resolution on Tuesday’s agenda.

In other words since the County and Fairgrounds have failed to sell significant naming rights over the years, the place has gone to the birds, I have suggested for a long time this was done on purpose so they could eventually sell the property for a quarry. No body wants to invest in it. There has also been an underground campaign by the potential buyers to sway Lyon family members.

Make no mistake, this taskforce is just smoke and mirrors over selling the land for a cement quarry. Why beat around the bush, just put the sale to an up or down vote of the Commission right now. I can tell you why it hasn’t been put up for a vote, because it would be very close and controversial, but after 12 months, the commission will change and they may have the votes to sell, and trust me, it will get sold as a quarry.

My suggestion is to sell it, but to the highest bidder, and since what’s under the fairgrounds is worth more than the rat’s nest sheep barns on top of it I would also suggest selling the mineral rights under it. My suggestion would be a significant down payment with a contract for deed over 4-5 years that the county could use for relocating the fair. My suggestion would be to Hartford where the town has been actively pursuing economic development, and I really don’t like Brandon, because, well it’s Brandon (Hartford should really sell shirts that say ‘F’ck You Brandon’)

A county official suggested to me it should be put to a public vote, and my response is that most residents in the county (which mostly live in SF) would vote for the sale. It would probably be a bigger landslide than the SF School Bonds.

Maybe it is time Minnehaha County just throws in the towel and starts a new fresh purpose for the fair somewhere else. Sorry Hairball, you are playing Hartford next year. But look on the bright side, it isn’t Brandon.

Will Minnehaha County sell the Fairgrounds for Quarry use?

A few years back on a couple of occasions there was a very public push for a concrete company in Sioux Falls wanting to buy the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds because of the rich quarry reserves below. It was rejected by the County Commission. The fairgrounds are county property, and while they do have some infrastructure cost sharing with the city, the actual property was gifted to the County by the Lyon family. I may be wrong on my history but I think when the land was gifted for the fair it was farmland out of the city limits.

There were two issues with the sale a few years ago. 1) The Lyon family did NOT want it sold for a quarry and 2) The County didn’t have a plan to replace the fairgrounds.

Moving forward, the company has supposedly renewed their appeal for the property, according to one of my county sources. This time around they are claiming the Lyon family is on board, but my source is telling me the commission cannot approve the sale because the commission’s counsel has told them they cannot legally sell it for that use. The other issue is where will the SE Fair be moved to? And what would it cost to replace the grounds? The suggestion floating around is to just put a big tent up each year for the fair. How festive in a 1920’s Ringling Brothers sort of way.

While I could care less if we have a fair each year (just brings up bad memories of being in 4-H and how much I hated it) my concern is having a gigantic hole in west central Sioux Falls. I also wonder what the city would think about that attractive hole?

We will see how public and transparent this battle becomes.

Lincoln County Tax Levy Vote proves local officials are NOT doing the work of the people

I do agree that it was only an 8% voter turnout, but either way, it was a blowout. I have felt for a long time that both County Commissions, the City Council and the School Board are NOT listening to what the citizens want, or in this case, don’t want. They simply show up and vote for tax increases on the minions so they can turn around and give contracts or tax breaks to the welfare queen developers, banksters and bonders.

The system is rigged.

We no longer have representative government in the Sioux Falls Metro Area or even in the state. This is what happens when you have one-party rule by authoritarians who only serve the ruling class. Don’t believe me? A majority of all of the members of all of these governing bodies are Republican. I think the only members that are registered Democrat are Pat Starr, Jeff Barth and Kate Parker (there may be a couple more, but they ain’t telling anyone.)

The irony of the Tax Levy revolt is that it was spearheaded by Republican voters! That is why it still baffles me they continue to vote for the very representatives that don’t listen to them.

I told an older Democrat not to long ago that no matter who the majority party in local government bodies is, you will continue to get tax and fee increases. The difference is the Dems will spend it on the citizens and the Repugs will spend it on their welfare queen developer bankster buddies.