Entries Tagged 'Downtown Sioux Falls' ↓

Mayor TenHanken’s Latest Interview

I guess I missed this interview from a couple of days ago;

In the past four years, his city department head leadership team has changed considerably. There are new police and fire chiefs, new faces leading public health, planning and innovation. He has a new finance director and city attorney.

“So I spent four years building that team, and now for the next four years, we’ve got the team together, and I think we can do a lot.”

He has really spent the past four years dealing with a revolving door. Many people he chose after being elected to his first term have left. He has had to appoint a new city attorney, a new planning director, a new health director and police chief. He has also had to appoint 2 different Fire Chiefs. He is on his 2nd IT and technology director. He has also lost a deputy chief of staff, a housing director and his chief cultural officer. I am unclear what he means by building a team?

Often times whether it is in the private sector or public sector many times directors and department heads leave an organization because of (lack of) leadership. Sure, retirements do occur, but with this much turnover in just 4 years you have to question the relationship he has with his city directors? This may explain why his administration is so busy fiddling with the legislative process instead of running the city (his duties under the charter).

“Everyone wants to know what are we doing about housing, and I can tell you it’s just so challenging right now, with land costs and with attitudes about infill development,” TenHaken said. “If we can move two or three houses or create small programs to give developers a little bit of cost savings, we’re just hitting singles. There’s no home runs to be found.”

That’s because the housing crisis will not be solved in Sioux Falls until we solve the wage problem. We also can’t be constantly cramming affordable housing into certain neighborhoods, it has to be spread throughout the community. I know it is NOT an easy thing to fix overnight, but what groundwork has been laid over the past 10-15 years or even past 4 years on this issue? I will continue to cross my fingers that the city will implement real programs to fix up our core, build density and create more housing, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in this current city government makeup that they have any long term solutions.

There also will be a project to complement the downtown parking ramp on the north side of 10th Street east of Phillips Avenue, TenHaken said.

“I’m excited about it,” he said. “We’re going to soon be announcing the timeline and process for interested parties to begin expressing interest in the site, so I think it will be good in the second term to get that underway.”

So the ink has barely dried on the check we sent to the defunk developer of the Bunker Ramp and we are already going to send out an RFP on what to do with the site? Which says to me, someone has already pitched the city an idea (we can make our guesses who this developer will be). Not sure what you could do with the site, but I have often suggested a multiple story studio apartment building.

Trying to solve the issue of child care is a bit like tackling housing, he said.

“There’s no silver bullet solution, but the discussions we’re having and the work and partnership we’re forming with the school district is something that’s never been done in the city before … kids and families is something we’re going to lay overtop of almost every decision we’re making.”

I often shake my head when community leaders across the country think they have some simple, unique solution to fixing the child care issues in their communities. Two things that could drastically change that situation in Sioux Falls would be higher wages and Federally funding for Pre-K education. Government is NOT always the solution, but in this situation non-profits, churches and private schools can’t solve this by themselves, there needs to be a government safety net for the kids that fall thru those cracks. So what is standing in our way? Partisanship, which brings us to his final thoughts;

“I think the next political cycle is going to be very ugly, so how do I as a mayor try to maintain a spirit of unity and a One Sioux Falls mindset when national news and all these forces tell us there are constant things we need to fight about, and that’s why (I focus) on the 95 percent of where we’re alike to keep moving forward.”

He is correct, politics have become ugly and getting worse. Why? Because Republicans like TenHaken have made local traditionally non-partisan politics into partisan. Everything has become about one-party rule, even on a supposed non-partisan branch of government like city council. I saw this rear its head during TenHaken’s first campaign, it got worse in ousting councilor Stehly and recently Brekke. It has become an all out death match to the end. And I’m not talking about a difference between Republican or Democratic philosophies, those are easy to break down. It is a devision between the elite, authoritarian Republicans and the traditional fiscal conservative Republicans and social conscious Democrats. The authoritarians like Noem and TenHaken are in charge and they will do anything in their power to squash a dissenting view on how to tackle an issue. Solutions come from bringing every view to the table. This is why they had to eliminate Theresa and Janet, they asked too many questions, and you never question the King.

I would like to think that things will be different in Sioux Falls in next 2-4 years, but with cruise control government, a lack of transparency, a rubber stamp council and very little planning or vision, I think we will still be talking about the same challenges in the Spring of 2026, just more exacerbated.

NEWLY ELECTED SIOUX FALLS CITY COUNCILOR SARAH COLE ALSO DOES AN INTERVIEW

It is such an honor to be elected to this seat on the City Council. I always encourage my kids about being the change that we want to see in the world. There are things that happen in our world that we have no control over, but we can control ourselves and our response to those issues. 

Yeah, it’s called voting in local elections. I still find it incredibly ironic and hypocritical that the first vote Cole cast in a Sioux Falls city election was a vote for herself 🙂 and the media has yet to touch that with a ten foot pole. Her absence in participating in local elections tells us all we will need to know about what her performance will be on the city council. Thank goodness the Mayor already setup a team of fellow rubber stampers for her so she doesn’t have to fart around for 4 years setting up that groundwork.

Proposed Coffee Shop at 9th & Grange is becoming quite the city welfare project

The property owned by Alex Halbach (who just happened to be the Campaign treasurer for Central District Councilor Curt Soehl) may get a FREE parking lot. Item #32. (FF:55:30)

Mr. Halbach decided to skip the meeting last night, but his neighbors did not, and they said they have been trying to meet with him but he ignores them. The council deferred it 30 days. Rumor has it that Halbach made threats about stopping the project if he didn’t get this to go thru so there may be a re-consideration vote on the matter next week.

Interesting that Curt Soehl did not recuse himself from the vote because of his conflicts. So far Soehl has re-instated the facade easement program (so Halbach could apply for it).

Getting him a free parking lot (Halbach says he doesn’t want to ruin the greenspace in his backyard) and when he applies for the facade easement that will likely pass also.

This is how councilors pay back supporters with YOUR tax money.

Pettigrew & Cathedral Neighborhood Associations Body Check the City & School District

I attended the almost 90 minute meeting tonight (I will have a YT video up soon if you don’t have FB) and it was pretty clear what the neighborhood wanted, GREENSPACE! There was a standing vote, and besides the reporters and city/school staff, everyone was standing in approval of leaving it a park.

The most interesting part was that it seems now the staff from the city and the school district said they have NO PLANS for it. Kevin Smith from the city further pointed out that they don’t own the property but help maintain it.

Funny how transparency works, SUNSHINE WINS THE DAY!

Buy Art, Help People

My weirdo pieces;

Levitt FREE Concert Series is Stellar

I have made it about half way thru my personal review of the bands playing the Levitt this year, and the lineup is chucked full of great Blues, Ethnic, Country, Rock, Local and Contemporary. 50 SHOWS! ALL FREE! Plus Lee Rocker closes it out!

Besides our Parks and Bike Trail, the Levitt is one of the best taxpayer investments in this city! Now if they would let us bring our own beer* and ban pets**, it would be even better 🙂

*Last year an individual alcoholic beverage was $7. It will be interesting to see if that gets raised to $8 this year. While the beverage sales do help the Levitt with contributions, I think it has been overinflated. I am waiting for the financials from 2021 to see what that percentage is. Even if we allowed people to bring their own beer and wine (no liquor) they could still keep the bar and maybe even have a cooler fee you would have to pay to receive 21+ armbands.

**My biggest concern about pets has always been about the well being of the pets. The crowd and noise can cause anxiety (I’ve witnessed many close dog fights) it is often to hot and what I see the most of is them pooping and peeing all over the lawn, and I have witnessed many people walk thru it. Can people just leave their pets at home for a couple of hours without dragging them around like some trophy everywhere? Unless it is a service dog, leave them at home. PLEASE! JazzFest always had a ban on pets, and it worked great!

Congratulations to Citizen Advocate Sierra Broussard on her nomination

While a little rough around the edges, Sierra has proved to be a staunch advocate for her Neighborhood Association (Pettigrew) and other crime stricken neighborhoods in the core. If she gets picked, I believe she will be the 1st Transgender Female to receive the award.

An Unjust Ending to the Bunker Ramp Debacle

As I suspected yesterday, an announcement was made that a settlement was reached in the Bunker Ramp debacle.

But was it a good settlement for the taxpayers? Hardly.

Fortunately the only good thing to come from today’s announcement is that it is finally over and it took a mayor almost his entire first term to write a check from our bank account to a failed developer who defrauded us.

The developer(s) didn’t do it on their own, they had the help of two mayors and several former and current city councilors who have yet to apologize to us for the terrible decision they made based on fraudulent information and even obvious information that investing with this group was a bad idea.

I remember sitting in the council chambers listening to citizen (item #44) after citizen come to the podium and plead with the city council to not do this. But even after that initial approval, a second mayor had an opportunity to undue the bad decision of the last mayor and councilors.

He chose to steam ahead because the banksters and bondsters involved needed to make their buck from the bonds. We could have refused the bond and paid a fine and moved on.

Councilors Starr and Stehly tried to do just that and were scoffed at. I told Starr today if any taxpayer asks you about why this sloppy settlement was done this way all he has to say is, “I didn’t vote for it. Go talk to the councilors that did.”

But what makes this announcement even more egregious is listening to what the city attorney and mayor said about the settlement;

“For that reason, the settlement agreement includes reimbursement of $500,000 from the city of Sioux Falls to VRG for a portion of the hard costs it’s leaving on-site, and reimbursement of the $150,000 developer fee previously paid to the city,” TenHaken said.

What about the additional costs to taxpayers to seal off empty floors with cinder block since the developer never finished the project?

Also our litigations costs of $300K.

And why are we paying those costs and the cost of the settlement out of, I am assuming, the general fund? Shouldn’t it come out of the Parking Enterprise funds?

Like I said, glad this is finally kind of over with (we still need to find someone to complete it) but the way this was handled says tons and tons about how the majority of the city council and this mayor has ran this city the past four years . . . on perpetual cruise control and little else.

It’s going to be an interesting Friday in Sioux Falls

There has been a rumor floating around today that Mayor TenHaken plans to have a news conference tomorrow afternoon at around 2 PM at City Hall concerning a new development downtown.

I guess a deal has been in the works to finish off the rest of the Railroad Redevelopment site just east of the 8th and RR Building. The two proposals floating out there are workforce housing (market rate apartments) and luxury condos. I can’t tell who the competing developers are or if this is what the rumored press conference is about, but the timing of this supposed press conference is interesting considering the council suddenly posted today they are having a 1 PM working session on Friday, that has NO public agenda items except public input and they go directly into executive session. Maybe they should have just called a City Council Poetry Reading since I find it laughable they are calling a faux working session so they can be told something privately.

These folks are so sloppy.

Councilors and council staff are not allowed to tell the public what goes on during the session, but I can make some guesses. It could be about the development Poops may announce (sneakily telling council only a few minutes before he announces a proposal to the public) or it could be a settlement has been reached with the Bunker Ramp and that could be the ultimate announcement?

My head has been spinning for weeks while watching Paul pack 4 years of his do nothing term (that he didn’t sign up for) into a few weeks of getting something done. Maybe he will announce he is cancelling the election because his opponents don’t have a snowball’s chance?

At this point nothing would f’ing surprise me.

NOON TODAY • Reistroffer for Council Kickoff at El Riad Shrine Mosque

Join Emmett for food and refreshments as he kicks off his candidacy for Sioux Falls Central District council race.

Is Candidate TenHaken using city resources to promote his race?

While there is certainly nothing wrong with having the mayor’s column on the city website, as a candidate he really should be refraining from posting a column until after the election. State law;

• SDCL 12-27-20. Expenditure of public funds to influence election outcome prohibited. The
state, an agency of the state, and the governing body of any county, municipality, or other
political subdivision of the state may not expend or permit the expenditure of public funds for the
purpose of influencing the nomination or election of any candidate, or for the petitioning of a ballot question on the ballot or the adoption or defeat of any ballot question. This section may
not be construed to limit the freedom of speech of any officer or employee of the state or any
political subdivision who is speaking in the officer’s or employee’s personal capacity. This
section does not prohibit the state, its agencies, or the governing body of any political
subdivision of the state from presenting factual information solely for the purpose of educating
the voters on a ballot question.

Paul says this in the opening line of the column;

As our community grows and new residents call Sioux Falls home, our community’s cultures, traditions, and experiences also continue to become even more vibrant.

That is an editorialized opinion of the mayor. If the column just presented statistics on diversity, I would say it was okay. Doesn’t it seem odd that all of sudden after almost 4 years on the job he seems to be embracing diversity when in 2020 when the Covid outbreak at Smithfield occurred he attributed it to poor hygiene of immigrants.

It doesn’t surprise me he continues to pretend he did something over the past 4 years besides socialist handouts to welfare developers and failed bunker ramps. In less than 40 days from an election he is suddenly concerned about diversity, affordable housing, childcare, employee bonuses and bringing in high tech cyber jobs. I would have to agree with Poops when he says he is NOT political, he has certainly shown us that during his first term he has failed as a politician.

But Poops isn’t the only one walking the fine line. Central District Candidate Jim Burzynski had a petition signing event either presented or sponsored by the All Saints Neighborhood Association. Neighborhood associations that are registered with the city and receive taxpayer grants cannot help or promote candidates. They can have forums, but all candidates must be invited.