I still think this is too little too late and most voters have had their mind made up for months. But you also have to question a sitting councilor(s) sharing his opinion on a ballot measure. I remember when that backfired when councilors and the sitting mayor were against the Drake Springs outdoor pool vote.

I also laugh when people talk about WF not smelling. Oh, it will smell. I grew up on a hog farm. Hogs stink. Ironically though, we will never know if WF smells or not, since Smithfield’s stink will always be waffling in the air above and beyond anything coming from WF.

During the informational this afternoon the council discussed what next to do with the Bunker Ramp;

A public parking ramp that took nearly a decade and more than $20 million to build in downtown Sioux Falls could be sold to a private developer.

During a Tuesday informational meeting at Carnegie Town Hall, city councilors urged Mayor Paul TenHaken’s administration to consider all options when picking a new partner to build at the Mall Avenue and 10th Street site.

And that includes selling the entirety of the seven-story ramp that opened in July 2020 and is equipped to handle up to eight additional stories. The site has gone undeveloped since a mixed-use parking ramp project fell apart in 2019.

I do agree with councilors that they should take the best deal and I also agree with councilor Soehl that we need to use a 3rd party to vet the investors properly. I am also partially in agreement with what councilor Merkouris said;

Rich Merkouris said he’s apprehensive about giving any tax breaks to the eventual buyer unless they use the space to add residential stock downtown.

“For me personally, I would struggle incentivizing anything outside of housing unless it was a part of the bigger package,” he said.

I would go a step further and say there should be NO incentives. Anyone who takes over this property is being given a site in a plum location with an opportunity to do well. The taxpayers have already incentivized this project, there is absolutely NO reason to hand out more candy. Find an honest free market developer who has a solid plan to make it successful, then you don’t need to worry about tax incentives. It was also pointed out it is in an opportunity zone which means there will be some incentives to build there without city tax payers help.

But what what really pissed me off was having councilor Selberg sit in on meetings and negotiations for future use. NO councilor that helped approve this pile of sh!t should be involved. It should either be handed over to a new councilor or Pat Starr who opposed this. It would be like hiring the guy who rear ended your car to fix it. Any councilor who approved this should not be in closed door meetings trying to cover up their mistakes. We need councilors with a clear conscience to negotiate this deal with a focus on hyper transparency.

These knuckleheads learn very little from past mistakes.

It has often been confusing to me over the last couple of election cycles sitting councilors have been hosting public fundraisers for challengers to incumbent councilors. I can understand that you may not like the incumbent you serve with and you certainly have a 1st Amendment right to speak publicly about it and even donate money to their opponent. But you do have to question the integrity and ethics of these councilors who will openly HOST a fundraiser that is challenging the incumbent, and using their official titles as councilors on the media promoting the event.

The irony is the incumbent is probably one of the most qualified city councilors we have ever had, working several years in the law offices of city hall. You also have to factor in their dedication towards open government and transparency. But what makes the other councilors (and three of the Mayor’s campaign GOONS, with a sprinkling of bankers, bonders and trusters) support of this candidate puzzling to me is that the incumbent has always been in lock step with the rest of the council on most issues, especially when it comes to development and growth.

So while she may still make it into the rubber stamp club on occasion, I think her questioning of the administration and especially their confused and inept legal counsel, it disqualifies you from the club, so they need a new member; A physician that has ZERO experience when it comes to planning, litigation and long term strategic planning. A perfect fit for the rubber stampers.

As a person who actually has followed council legislation for around 20 years, I am pretty good at calculating how much ‘work’ is put into the job. But some of them seem to pad the numbers;

Most councilors have outside jobs and work at least 30 hours a week for the city. Doing the math at the current pay, a city councilor currently makes $12.57 per hour.

I’ll guess the reporter didn’t come to this estimate on her own, I’m sure it is what she was told. I will admit I have known councilors over the years that have committed way more then 30 hours a week to the position, there are at least three of them now that put in at least that or more. But if you just calculate face time on the dais (official public meetings) with actual interaction with constituents, the math comes to about 10-15 hours a week. There are three things I would consider ‘work’ when it comes to councilors time; 1) Public meetings, 2) research, education, document review and legislation creation and 3) responding to constituent phone calls and emails. Going to community events and eating free donuts and lunches with business people that are trying to influence your vote doesn’t fall under ‘work’ more like a fringe benefit. It’s easy to figure out who fully spends time doing these things and those that don’t just by watching discussion and how easily things pass. I think some councilors think ‘work’ is concocting deals behind the scene with each other and business friends is part of the job, I know the last mayor certainly thought that, but that is a perk and NOT a job duty.

I just find it extremely ironic that one of the laziest councilors who hasn’t had an original idea since he graced the dais is the one proposing a 30% raise.

I also don’t think the salary of councilors is what is holding people back from running;

Sioux Falls City Councilor Marshall Selberg hopes to attract more people to public service in the future, as Mayor or on the Council.

“We want the best and the brightest in this job, and quite frankly, compensation as a part of that conversation,” said Selberg.

It is what it costs to run for the office that seems to break records every election cycle that is a deterrent. Jensen raised $127K and only beat Stehly by under a 100 votes. How does an average person like a mechanic or call center rep even compete with that? They can’t. They don’t want these kind of people on the council and that is why the banksters, developers and bondsters pad the campaigns to keep the average citizen off the dais, it happens in school board races also. I have argued for a long time that the city races should be publicly funded to even the playing field and base the campaigns on the best ideas not who has the most yard signs. Money in the local races is the rot that is holding back true constituent advocates. Just think if we took that 30% raise ($245K increase in the first year) and spent it on publicly funded campaigns instead? I think we would get much more bang for our buck.

UPDATE: This is some research I did in 2018 about director pay.

I also sent this email response to Mike Zitterich and the city council after Mike suggested we base Mayoral pay on CAFR;

Mike, Let’s look at some data.

Average median pay for individuals in Sioux Falls is $33,500

Average CEO pay is $143,000 (9%)

Highest CEO pay is $182,000 (4%)

Highest percentage (20%) is $80,000

But public leadership should NEVER be compared to private leadership. CEO pay is based on how well a company’s profits perform. The city is not a ‘company’ it is a ‘service’. I tell you all the time, local government is easy, collect taxes, provide services, be transparent.

If you compare mayoral and city manager pay in the region (Fargo, Des Moines, Lincoln, Omaha and Minneapolis) it varies between $100-$200. Minneapolis mayor makes $126,000 with a population of 430K+ but the 13 city councilors run the city and he only has jurisdiction over the police.

There are different forms of government so it is complicated, but as far as I can tell no one bases pay on the population or the CAFR. It is pretty obvious that the SF proposal is based on paying the mayor $1 per person and not on actual regional data.

Even if you look at director pay in the region for example Lincoln, NE which has a population of 283,000 about the highest a director can make is around $150,000 with most in that $80-90K range.

Let’s face it, if this would have been researched better and an actual comprehensive study was done (I did basic research in 1 hour), the result would be that the mayor and council is already being well compensated and further more that directors make quite a bit more regionally, this is without factoring in the lower cost of living in Sioux Falls. Does anyone actually believe the mayor’s salary should be 6X more than the average citizen in this community? I don’t and I would suggest you withdraw this proposal and start from scratch with real data and study before you experience the humiliation at the ballot box when most voters will reject this handily.