Entries Tagged 'Homeless' ↓

Panhandling in Sioux Falls is almost at a Crisis Stage

While our Mayor is frosting cakes with his daughter on FB and making bets on college basketball, panhandling in Sioux Falls has become out of control.

As I often mention on this site, the city charter is pretty clear, the city council handles policy and the mayor runs the city, that means he is in charge of the police department and the city council doesn’t have the authority to tell them how to handle crime in our city. However, they can create policy and ordinances that the police would have to enforce.

Over the past couple of years panhandling has been getting worse. This year was the first year in Sioux Falls I saw them ALL YEAR LONG. I have even seen them on days when it was below zero. Their two favorite spots are East 10th and 14th Street on Cliff Avenue. But I have seen them downtown for the first time in over 20 years. It is at a crisis stage and it seems our mayor, our city council, our county commission and the police department are playing a game of whack a mole instead of a permanent fix to the problem.

While it is well within panhandlers 1st Amendment rights to ask for money on a street corner, there are limitations. They cannot walk into traffic or impede traffic. But it also goes for vehicle operators. You shouldn’t be handing money out of the window of your car while idling in traffic.

I think there are some simple solutions we can start with that would have an impact right away;

• Stop giving violations to the panhandlers and triage them. I know we are waiting for the Triage Center to open, but we can still help these people now, in fact it would have been a great way to spend some of the Covid stimulus money but our cruise control government had different ideas.

• The homeless shelters need to help them. We partially fund these facilities with tax dollars, if they are NOT helping them to rehabilitate it is time to cut the funding. I’m not concerned if Bill the panhandler accepts JC as his savior, I want him to get sober, get help and stop running in traffic.

• Hourly police patrols breaking them up in troubled areas.

And this is where the city council and county commission would have to do some heavy lifting;

• Instead of fining panhandlers for walking in traffic, we need to have an ordinance that fines vehicle operators for handing money out of the window. The fine should be somewhere between $100-200 and only applies if you are sitting in traffic in a running vehicle and handing the money out of the window. If you pull over and park in a safe place and get out of the vehicle and give money, that would not apply.

• Anytime one of these troubled areas pops up, there should be very visible traffic signage put up that says ‘MONETARY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM MOTOR VEHICLE PROHIBITED. $100 FINE, CITY ORD 000’

The way to fix this problem is not by punishing the panhandlers it is about shutting off the faucet. If you want to help them financially the best thing to do is donate your time or money to one of the shelters in town, the Banquet or even the Triage Center. You are not helping these individuals by handing them beer money from your car, you are creating a very dangerous situation on so many levels.

Mayor TenHaken made a pledge when he was running for mayor, he said he hopes to shut down all the shelters in town because he was going to wipeout homelessness in our community. How is the campaign promise coming along? The city cannot even stream a live video of a public meeting, how can we expect them to fix this problem?

It takes little bites and baby steps, but that isn’t even happening.

Panhandling has gotten so bad over the past couple of years in my neighborhood I have considered putting together a neighborhood security group that will go as a group and break these panhandlers up when the police won’t. It is well within my 1st Amendment rights to ask these people to move along and I have done it several times over the past couple of years without physical threats. I simply explain to them that it is the neighborhood I live in, and don’t want that kind of activity going on there, and when they moan and groan I just take out my phone and tell them that the police will be there shortly. That usually gets them moving. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a simple conversation.

Trust me, I feel for these folks, but by allowing them to continue to beg for beer money doesn’t help us and doesn’t help them, it is f’ing futile!!!!!

I pay taxes and vote for a reason. It’s time our supposed city and county leaders to put on their big kid pants and act.

Are we currently triaging people in Sioux Falls?

As you can see the LINK is coming soon, and something this community has needed for a very long time. But aren’t we currently triaging now? According to MCC Dean Karsky we are, but it is not a very nice place. Welcome to addiction.

Starting last summer (2019) I noticed my neighborhood became quite popular for pan handling, drinking and bridge dwellers. Everyday the same group of folks, about 6 of them, begin panhandling on the corner of 14th and Cliff. Once they get enough money for malt liquor, they go over to Get N’ Go, load up, either go under the bridge on Cliff or along the bike trail, drink until they pass out and take a nap. Like clockwork, this happens almost every day, and every day the SFPD show up and herd them away. And they are still at it, even this late in the year. I had only seen the ambulance show up once and have never seen a police take any of these people to triage or jail. They usually pour out their beers, and herd them away.

In fact just a few weeks ago, I saw an officer on an ATV literally herding a couple of them like they were cattle by the skate park. I’m not sure where he was herding them to? Well you know what the mayor says, we have a cowboy mentality so maybe this a good old fashioned homeless round up? Giddy Up!

While I look forward to the much needed new triage center opening, I hope the SFPD will start using it instead herding these folks like cattle to another bridge.

Solving our homeless issue is NOT a game of whack a mole and I am wondering when our supposed leaders in town are going to take it seriously.

End Panhandling in Sioux Falls by fining the enablers

Sioux Falls City Councilor Starr said it best yesterday at the city council informational meeting, if you want to help the homeless, give your donations to the organizations that help them with housing and food, there are several in Sioux Falls. But please, please, stop giving to the panhandlers.

I think if the city council wants to tackle this problem, they need to put an ordinance in place that fines people who give them money directly. Not sure what that fine should be, but something that makes them think about what they are doing.

As someone who only lives a couple of blocks away from 14th and Cliff, a real trouble area, I have watched them proceed into traffic and beat down people while they were highly intoxicated. Sometimes falling into the street and dancing in oncoming traffic. Will it take an innocent motorist mowing one of them down to seriously look at this problem? Think about it.

If the city council wants to fix and stop people from giving these folks booze money, they need to implement fines on those who enable it. As the Chief of Police said, citing the panhandlers isn’t working. He is right. Shut off the faucet, fine those who turn on the water. If you care, direct your giving to the fine charities in town that help these people crawl out of addiction and homelessness because what you are doing now isn’t working.

City of Sioux Falls to have meeting about homeless issues at a Wine Bar

Oh, I had to do a double-take when I saw this;

Sioux Falls City Councilors and other City officials will meet with members of the Whitter neighborhood business community Wednesday.

The meeting is at 1 p.m. at the R Wine meeting room, 322 East 8th Street.

According to an email from planning and development services, the meeting has been officially noticed so Councilors can attend.

The Bishop Dudley Hospitality House and the Union Gospel Mission will discuss their programs’ policies and things that have worked and not worked for them over the years. The Sioux Falls Police will also discuss how they have been trying to address issues in the neighborhood.

Would you like a little cheese with your ‘whine’ business owner? When the city has a meeting, they should have it in a city owned building with FREE daytime parking. While I like Ricardo’s place, it is certainly not the appropriate venue for discussing this issue.

It makes me wonder if they are trying to get ‘certain’ people out of the discussion. I know that when councilor Stehly organized the first meeting, Grant Houwman (Million Dollar Condos/TIF Funding man-Washington Square) interjected himself and tried to cause a little chaos by inviting more councilors to create a quorum issue (I see they fixed that this time). He seems to have some butt hurt issues over Stehly. My philosophy is that you don’t always have to agree with a politician on every issue, but if you are both working towards the same result, it’s best to suck it up, and work together. This is what has often irritated me about the RS5, they just simply made a pact to vote against anything the RW3 wants to do, whether it is good or not. As I told a gentleman last night who follows the blog, “City government is one step forward and three steps back. It’s getting worse.”

Downtown Sioux Falls is turning into a great place to take a nap

Mind you, the guy below may have been just legitimately taking an ‘intended’ nap, though I think laying in the sun at 6 PM in the evening probably wasn’t ‘planned’. He also didn’t look homeless, he had on brand new sneakers and a nice backpack.

But the bigger point is more and more I have been seeing people DTSF taking ‘naps’ in some of the most random spots, and others have noticed. It happens a lot around the Dudley House and Nelson Park. The other day I saw a guy passed out in front of the Holiday Inn on the sidewalk.

While I have seen this along the bike trails for years, it seems this summer the locations of these ‘naps’ are becoming more dangerous.

I guess yesterday a drunken brawl broke out by the Dudley House until a citizen broke it up. I have thought all along concentrating our homeless services in a neighborhood was NOT a good idea. I had suggested like the County’s Safe Home that a shelter should have been built by the jail.

New Housing Director Unruh wants to charge $20 to attend public housing summit on a Thursday

It seems more training needs to be done on open government, and since Unruh lost her city council race in Tea yesterday (24/33 – That’s the vote count, not percentage) she will have plenty of time to figure it out.

She did a presentation yesterday on a Sioux Falls Housing Summit during the Sioux Falls City Council informational meeting. While the concept is a good idea, it ignores the whole purpose of having a public summit without making it available to the public. Yes, the public input sessions later in the day ARE open to the public w/o paying a registration fee, but there are some other issues with this summit.

• They are only asking people who are basically (dirt) poor to comment about housing. Most of the people who are affected by affordable housing are actually people who are working and struggling to pay rent or mortgage and spreading themselves thin working multiple jobs. These are the biggest ‘chunk’ of people that need to be served, but see, there is very little ‘government handouts’ for these folks so they focus on the very poor and underserved so they can gobble up that grant money. Who wants to hear from the working poor anyway? Please, get back to work!

• The event is NOT being filmed (or planned to be filmed) and they are hosting it on a Thursday instead of a Saturday when persons from the public could attend. This of course is done on purpose so the bureaucrats don’t have to work on a Saturday for the people they SHOULD be working for, the public. We would hate to inconvenience them while collecting a paycheck from us.

• They are charging a $20 fee for people to attend a public event. They argue this is to pay for the grub. Couldn’t they find a sponsor for the grub? The past mayor used to host a Saturday neighborhood conference that was FREE, with FREE food at a public venue (The Orpheum) and was filmed. Even if the most transparent mayor in the history of our city (snarc) can figure this out, I’m sure a Tea, SD resident can figure it out.

Once again, in attempt to make all the Harvardy, Bloombergy, New Yorky peeps happy about PTH’s night courses on leadership and innovation, the administration is missing the bigger picture about serving the public . . . it’s about serving the public.

City of Sioux Falls & Minnehaha County share the cost of Homeless study

So at the non-televised joint city council and commission meeting today, the entities decided to split the cost of this study; Homeless-Study

While I think the study is needed, I’m wondering why Augustana (a private university) had to get reimbursed for a ‘research’ project? I guess Augie has trouble scrounging together $27K. Well that’s what you get when you have a Democrat running the joint, poor fundraising skills . . . ouch.

What is also ironic, the local government entity that serves the most homeless, poor and underpriviledged in our community didn’t contribute a penny to the study (SF School District). I guess they have already identified their homeless issues.

City wants input from poor crippled homeless colored folk

So the city wants your input, well really not YOUR input;

People of low and moderate income, people who are homeless, racial and ethnic minorities, people of limited English proficiency, people with disabilities, and entities that provide services to these populations are specifically encouraged to attend.

Yet, they don’t want these people showing up to public input at the regular council meetings? What gives?

We don’t have an affordable housing issue in Sioux Falls, we have a wage issue.

I have often said our affordable housing program needs an entirely different approach. Instead of tearing down houses (that we could fix up for much less) and building new structures (that we take a hit on when we sell them) we could be using the money to re-fab older homes and apartments. The city gets about $2.1 million in Federal funds a year. You could fix up between 60-80 homes for that money instead of just building 20 homes at a loss. You could also set up financing, etc. which could triple that number easily.

Mayor TenHaken needs to clean house in community development and affordable housing and take a new approach that is committed to providing more core neighborhood cleanup than just a couple houses here and there and setup a program that focuses on entire neighborhoods instead looking for poor people to fill their quota.

Marc Eichenbaum, one of the country’s leading innovators with expertise in the area of ending homelessness

This is NOT an endorsement of Jolene, I just liked what Marc had to say. Especially his thoughts on celebrating reducing numbers instead of celebrating helping more people. He also brings up how it is cheaper (for taxpayers) to find the homeless housing than continuing to leave them homeless. This is something I preach constantly. It just makes economic sense to get people working and providing for themselves instead constantly dependent on programs. We really do make it too easy in SF.

South DaCola 2016 year in review (Part I)

art-maze-mower-lrArtMaze, one of the better parts of Sioux Falls life in 2016

2016 has been a rough year for citizen activism. While it has been up and down here in Sioux Falls with many successes and failures to boot, it seems Washington DC has gone into full collapse as we allowed racist, sexist, hillbillies to elect our president.

READ ABOUT 2015 REVIEW HERE.

But locally there were three things that stood out;

• Governor Daugaard claiming that voters were ‘hoodwinked’ into voting for IM 22, then getting the Pierre (in)justice system to go along with it. Funny how for over 40 years voters have been voting his party into power, and no word about ‘hoodwinking’ but once that corrupt power will be challenged, all the voters are idiots. As one official told me that used to work for Dennis, it’s not the public that are idiots, it’s Dennis. And his idiocy has been shining through.

• The South Dakota Democratic Party’s bottom completely fell out, and the people in charge patted themselves on the back. Insanity I tell you! Insanity!

• But one of the greatest achievements of the year is the Sioux Falls City Council’s change of power. The four new councilors have been flexing their muscles with a little help from Councilor Erickson, and while they have had a few missteps to start out, they have been learning from the battle scars. While ‘leadership’ of the council (Rolfing and Kiley) seem to be on a two man mission to rubberstamp all things Huether, shut down public input, and concoct false ethics charges against a fellow councilor (until they got caught lying like the snakes they are) they are becoming more and more in check. The city council has many big plans for 2017, and I have a feeling their agenda will push through easily as our lame duck mayor melts.

Let’s take a look at some the finer high and low points of 2016;

• The Huether Tennis center continues to block parking from other event attendees at the Sanford Sports complex though they basically stole $500K from taxpayers for the facility. Throughout the year there was several reports on cones and signs blocking the lot with not cars in it. But hey Mike’s Bride won an award this year and seemed surprised she did, without commenting that her check to the organization that gave the award wasn’t returned.

• The Sioux Falls City Council leadership and mayor’s HR department pulled a military retiree out of their asses for city clerk, a person who will be in charge of our city elections and hasn’t been registered to vote for years. He also proved his knowledge of official stamps when he stamped a petition without even bothering to read it. While Mr. Greco has gotten better over the year, the city clerk position should not be a $80K+ a year job as an apprentice, sadly being trained by one of his assistant clerks who has ten times the qualifications and applied for the position but was turned down. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the council chair’s view of women in the work place.

• Speaking of letting the mayor’s HR department and Leadership’s Mutt and Jeff pick the next internal auditor, the council barked loud enough that they did not want another ‘Greco’ pick. Not sure if the barking worked, but the person who was set to take the job saw the writing on the wall and turned it down. Hopefully the person who ultimately gets the position won’t be turned down because they shave their legs.

• The city continues to blow money on the Winter Wonderland Display, but the way the mayor has been cutting budgets these days, I expect next year’s display to be a couple of homeless barrel fire pits, sponsored by the Dudley House of course.

• After posting about the ridiculous corporate like raises the mayor has been giving to his management team, he turns around and still screws the minions with dismal raises again this year. I think in a special note to the city employees on their Christmas paystub he wrote, “I don’t care.”

• The city continues the FREE condom distribution program at area bars, and for some reason Monk’s is always emptied the quickest. Coincidence that is also a favorite watering hole of city managers . . .

• The Tuthill shooting case becomes ‘inactive’ and a tree branch shadow gets off scott free.

• The Erp wrongfully calls out local massage therapists as prejudice because they pointed out the ‘shower massages’ that were taking place around town. Apparently someone got a bad fortune cookie that day.

• The car rental tax and BID tax grabby-grabby fails in Sioux Falls, but the state legislature passes one of the most idiotic tax increases ever so our teachers are now just tied for last instead of dead last in pay. Out hoodwinking governor already has plans to rob the pot only one year after its passage.

• Hartford’s city government was in a state of collapse. Who really cares?

• The Levitt Pavilion is moving forward in Sioux Falls. It will be nice watching outdoor concerts sitting in the grass while battery acid is boiling beneath our asses.

• The Boulevard ordinance changes went into effect. Now stop worrying about rocks and plant a garden.

• The Washington Pavilion got a change of leadership after Darrin Smith takes over as President. So far he has only eliminated one director, but I hear the blood-letting has just begun. Now let’s throw another couple of million at the place to fix the poor construction to begin with. That will never happen with the Events Center . . .

• The Events Center cracks down on outside snacks and guns at events. We are all now safe from cheap fat people shooting us, but not in the parking lot.

• The Pottie Room war starts in Pierre and is guaranteed to return in 2017.

• A state legislator calls transgender people ‘twisted’. Now I’m struggling with what word to use describing our state legislators?

• A city council candidate throws a hissy fit over a post I wrote about his wife’s involvement with the Jesus plows and after threats to my employer I pull the post. He ends up taking last place in the at-large race. How’s Jesus working out for you now?

• Due to health reasons, Kermit Staggers decides not to run for a 4th term on the city council. His endorsement of Stehly puts her over the top.

• One of the youngest candidates in city history runs for city council. I apologize to Briggs for all the shitty things I said about him during the campaign.

• The Argus Leader sues the city for the details in the secret events center siding settlement. The Argus loses the first round but it is headed to the SD Supreme Court.

• On a similar note, the SON neighborhood is also awaiting a judgement in their Walmart suit with the SD Supreme Court.

• While our Sioux Falls City Council approves the DAPL through Sioux Falls, it takes thousands of protesters in ND to actually stop it. Too bad our city council chair doesn’t understand how to vote.

• The Mayor and Q-Tip Smith screwup the DT parking ramp development by flapping their traps to soon, and the council later on in the year returns the favor and defunds the ramp all together for 2017. I still think the fiasco is what got Smith to seek refuge at the Pavilion.

• City officials throw a hissy-fit over Bruce’s camera at a city meeting we were invited to by then city councilor Kenny Anderson. Looking back on it now, I just chuckle.

• Former city councilor Dean Karsky and now commissioner elect has become the official endorser in Sioux Falls.

• Bruce and I do a presentation on voter turnout in Sioux Falls at Democratic Forum and one of the mayor’s buddy developers in Sioux Falls tries to shut us down. When he fails, he walks out. Another casualty to transparency.