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!
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.
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.
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?
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.