Entries Tagged 'Mayor TenHaken' ↓

Sioux Falls Chamber has shakeup

The Chamber announced they are replacing(?) Debra Owen;

The Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce announced Thursday that Mitch Rave has been hired as the organization’s vice president of public policy.

The son of former South Dakota House Speaker Tim Rave, he holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of South Dakota.

Debra confirmed to me she left the Sioux Falls Chamber and is happy to be moving on. Her husband David leads the State Chamber. Debra’s title was VP/Director of Public Policy, so I am assuming Tim is replacing her.

Mitch has some big shoes to fill. Besides years of government experience working for the City of Sioux Falls as clerk and a top legal advisor to Governor Daugaard. Debra also has a law degree and has extensive knowledge about city and state government.

In my dealings and conversations with Debra in the past, she was always fair and listened to your side, she didn’t always agree but was never combative and would always dig for answers, probably the reason former Mayor Mike Huether* pushed for her termination. City government has a knack at getting rid of the good ones.

Mitch’s dad, Tim Rave, is president and CEO of the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations and sits on the Board of Regents.


The list is still pretty short but it seems Mike Huether and Christine Erickson may be in. They have both been reaching out for early support (Mike more then Christine) I have not heard any more rumblings about Alex Jensen. Greg Jamison will also probably be exploring a mayoral bid, and I think if Huether officially announces he will jump in.

Another name that was floated was Vaney Hariri. I guess friends and colleagues have been asking him to run. I don’t know him personally so I have no idea if he is taking the encouragement seriously but he would be a great addition to the field.

I want Christine and Mike to know I have been greasing up the way back machine, and once I get it running it will probably start smoking once it’s gets to your government careers. Erickson has a much better record, and has shown to be a good campaigner. Winning both a school start date ballot initiative and the slaughterhouse vote (even though they mothballed the place).

I think any outside candidates are going to have fun watching these two duke it out on the debate stage.

Charter Revision Commission still hung up on the same stupid crap

During their first meeting of 2023, at least three members complained that citizens are trying to get them to re-write the charter as a new form of government.

To revise something is to re-examine and make alterations to (written or printed matter). THE WORD IS IN THE TITLE OF THE BOARD!

The example they use, which I believe was a past proposal by Joe Kirby, was when Joe suggested we remove the mayor from the city council.

That is called a revision not an entire new form of government. In fact it is probably a couple sentence change in the charter under the mayor’s duties. IT IS NOT A TOTAL REWRITE and a gross mischaracterization of the process.

• Members take proposals

• They discuss and debate the proposal

• They vote to place the proposal on the ballot for the next city election

• Voters decide on election day and if it gets over 50% approval it becomes city law

Member Anne Hajek, who was appointed chair for the next four years, said she didn’t want the CRC members to become ‘dictators’.

As I have pointed out to the CRC several times you are NOT rewriting or even revising anything. They take proposals from the public, the council and the administration and vote to place those proposals on the ballot for the CITIZENS to decide. Ironically Hajek said during her rant that the citizens should make the decision to remove the mayor from the council.

THEY WOULD if you would only allow us.

The CRC does NOT have the authority to re-write or re-vise anything, all they do is consent to a ballot question, and as long as the revision is legal and reasonable and most importantly needed to improve the lives of Sioux Falls citizens it is left up to the voters to make that decision on election day.

There seems to be this mentality lately, especially from prominent Sioux Falls and South Dakota Republicans, that revisions to the law by citizens is somehow some kind of dangerous act and we should be more diligent about what we allow on the ballot.


Removing the mayor as a councilor is NOT a groundbreaking change and would actually give more power to the city council to take action.

This is really about the conflicts of interest many of the members have with deep connections to the rich and powerful in Sioux Falls. This concerns me more then removing mayor ‘grunty‘ from the Council dais.

YOU DON’T RE-WRITE ANYTHING, you are only there to provide advice and consent.

I would have to disagree with Hajek, you are acting exactly like a DICTATOR when you don’t allow reasonable proposals to be voted on by the public.

UPDATE II: Is the City of Sioux Falls still sharing data with Bloomberg?

UPDATE II: The mayor put out a brief statement about his trip. He didn’t mention that he took Shawn and Mark;

“Local government is the catalyst for community progress, and I know our City’s participation in the City Data Alliance will help us double down on our data efforts to ultimately benefit residents.”

So you have been participating in this program for several years now, wondering when you are going to start sharing those benefits with the citizens?

I also found it interesting that out of the 11 American mayors participating only one was Republican, TenHaken, and one Indy (who leans Democrat). All the other mayors were Democrat.

UPDATE: A South DaCola foot soldier pointed out to me after posting this earlier today that there is another issue with this trip.

The city pays a consultant for the software that helps with sharing data thru the Bloomberg initiative. As I understand it, that money DOES NOT go towards trips city employees or elected officials may take in coordination with Bloomberg.

‘IF’ and only ‘IF’ Bloomberg Philanthropies paid for the trip and NOT the taxpayers of Sioux Falls that is an ethics violation because of quid pro quo. By Bloomberg providing an all expense paid trip to the mayor of Sioux Falls, or ANY mayor or municipal employee for that matter, there is an appearance that Bloomberg provides these conferences and in return gets to use the data from the city, probably even sell it.

I am NOT sure who paid for the trip, but if it was Bloomberg, Paul and his cohorts have some explaining to do.

I’m wondering when they are going to start sharing information and data with the citizens?

I see that the city was not only represented by Mayor ONE, but the Public Works Director and the Finance/Tech Director at the conference. I wonder who was running the city . . .

I understand the concept behind the data sharing, but what I am curious about is how this is helping us in Sioux Falls? There have been NO major initiatives by this administration to use the data sharing with Bloomberg to improve our city. On Demand is a joke and will be repealed, so that doesn’t really count. But when it comes to crime, neighborhood cleanup, infrastructure, transparency, climate change, housing and better wages we sit at a standstill. Heck, we can’t even approve a mural!

So what do we get when the 3 most important people in city government spend a week yucking it up with Bloomberg?

We will never know.

Mayor P.E. Teacher?

As I have said in the past, I will defend any elected officials’ pet projects. Whether that is mentorship, physical education, youth drug prevention or adoption. I say use the bully pulpit for your causes. But you do know you don’t have to actually participate? Just take your own example, a year after announcing Sioux 52 mentorship program you turned it over to the HelpLine center with taxpayer money.

The other day a friend said to me, “Yeah, Mayor TenHaken was working out with my kid today at school during PE class.” Sure enough, he was bragging about it on social media. (you know the Personal account, not associated w/ City of SF except when he posts things he does as the capacity of the mayor).

I know you run a closed door, authoritarian, cruise control government but between 8-5, Monday-Friday, can the adults of this city have your attention in-between your kick ball games and fitness challenges?

I bring this up because I know of several groups who have requested meetings with the mayor and been denied. I’m sure he could squeeze in a couple of more meetings with constituents if he gave up playing tiddlywinks and marbles with the kids.

Is the mayor’s youth council having trouble getting participants?

They have extended the application deadline until Friday. It is kind of surprising because you would think there would be students jumping at the opportunity.

TenHaken thinks climate change is polarizing

It certainly has become polarizing, but NOT by those who are trying to make change, but those who are trying to prevent it. It’s no longer a debate about when or how;

Sustainability. Climate change. Climate Crisis. The Green New Deal. However you phrase it, protecting and conserving our environment has unfortunately become a polarizing and political topic, no matter which side of the conversation you’re on. There’s a broad set of opinions and variables that need to be considered and as with most government decisions, “the devil is in the details.”

I am not in denial that our climate is changing.

I heard Bill Clinton once make a similar proclamation.

If there is one thing the voters of this community can expect based on my five-year mayoral track record, it’s that I am a consensus-building leader that brings pragmatic solutions to challenges, not giving undue attention to loud special interest groups.

In order to build consensus you must first meet with the affected groups IN PUBLIC and have a discussion. Consensus building doesn’t mean just meeting with your ‘team’ and making your managers deliver the bad news of your decision (this is what he did with the 6th street bridge project, bunker ramp mural rejection and sustainability study). When it comes to climate change there is only one special interest group; MANKIND!

While some special interest groups have mischaracterized listening to dissenting opinions as discounting their voices, it’s quite the opposite.

Instead of penning a letter and emailing it to a couple of local papers, maybe you should hold a Climate Change Town Hall so the community can come and talk about it. Tell us your side, and let them tell there side. By trashing their report and effectively ignoring them on the public stage sends a clear message of discounting their voices.

Transparency would solve many problems for Sioux Falls City Hall

Recently the administration said they want to increase water rates again;

While the last round of rate increases adopted in 2018 ran through 2023 and ranged from 3 to 6 percent, it’s unclear what the new rate increases will look like.

That’s because the city is still calculating what level of rate hikes are necessary to keep up with anticipated population growth, operational needs and anticipated revenues, according to the Public Works Department that oversees municipal utility services.

“We are in the process of developing the operational and capital budgets which will inform the utility rate models,” Public Works Director Mark Cotter told The Dakota Scout when asked about the hikes, how far into the future they will be scheduled and why they’re necessary. “I expect to finalize this process in the coming weeks.”

One thing that happened during the Munson administration was an effort from city hall to encourage water conservation. Heck, the city was even giving away toilet rebates! If I recall the public works director, Mark Cotter, who is still the director, said the conservation efforts were making progress and people were consuming less water. Tack this onto growth and more users and you should be able to keep above water, no pun intended, without raising rates too much.

The problem is the water and sewer department depend on user fees to fund their operations, this is called enterprise funds. You pay your bill and that money goes directly to the maintenance and operation of the facilities. While enterprise funds are a good idea, they don’t always work well when you have major expansions because we also use the funds to pay down bonds for the facility upgrades. I have argued for awhile that major infrastructure projects should come out of the 2nd penny capital budget, like new water reclamation plants and bunker ramps (the Parking division which is ran on enterprise funds is also running lean probably due to paying bonds on a parking ramp that is not completed).

Some would argue that the enterprise funds should also pay down bonds, but I ask this question; “Do the wages for people who work in water reclamation come from the 2nd penny operations fund, like all other city salaries, or do they come from the enterprise fund?” I don’t know the answer to that question, but whether it is an enterprise fund OR sales taxes it is still coming from the same pot. With $80+ million in reserves we can easily takeover the bond payments for the water rec out of the 2nd penny and avoid any rate increases.


We could come to a compromise by sitting down with the public in public forums to discuss different options when it comes to increasing rates;

• More robust conservation efforts

• Using the 2nd penny or even reserves to pay down bonds

• Even higher rates for excessive users

We don’t need to raise rates, there are other solutions but we need to discuss them in a public forum and our city council NEEDS to demand it.

While I support the efforts of the sustainability folks to call out the administrations lack of transparency I asked someone yesterday, “Where were these folks 6 years ago when this guy rolled into office?” and this person replied, “Where were they in the last election?” Basically saying we let Paul and his endorsed candidates roll over the competition without a fight.

Transparency effects more then just climate change. It also has to do with utility rates, art censorship, insider bridge deals, free facade money to political donors, purchase agreements for welfare developer queens, banning drop boxes from public libraries, demolition orders from VIP neighbors and the list goes on.

We have a bigger fight then just sustainability when it comes to city hall, we have an communication problem. Once we shine light into city hall, most of these difficulties would be less difficult. The mayor says he wants a ONE Sioux Falls (still not sure what that even means) but he seems to be the only ONE not understanding that the ONE doesn’t stand for his bureaucrats but it stands for US, your constituents.

It’s where the dominoes start

There has been quite a bit of turnover in Sioux Falls city government over the past year when it comes to department leadership. But instead of just reacting after the dominoes fall, maybe we should look where the tumble started.

Here is the timeline;

• March 2023, Tom Greco, City Clerk, leaves the city for a job with Minnehaha County. While Tom’s job change DOES come with a raise, it also comes with a lot more responsibility. I also find it interesting that the MCC would hire a Lincoln county resident to run their commission. Tom may have moved to Minnehaha County since, but in 2017 when his wife ran for the Harrisburg School Board they lived in Lincoln County. I’m not sure why Tom left, but it was on his own accord, the council didn’t reprimand or terminate him. I do find the way MCC secretly hired and interviewed him to be highly suspicious though.

• February 2023, Stacy Kooistra, Lead City Attorney, leaves for a research facility that is receiving millions from city taxpayers for landscaping and ‘other stuff’. I could probably write an entire blog post about this departure but I know about as much as you.

• December 2022, Shawn Pritchett, Finance Director takes over as the director of IT and Technology as well as the finance department. I found this move significant. While in the past the city has moved directors around under the current charter, they have never taken a director of one department and made them also the director of another department simultaneously, especially two departments that may work closely together BUT have different functions.

• September 2022, Shana Nelson, Audit Manager, leaves the city council and begins to work for the administration in housing compliance. Rumors had been swirling since July that she was making this move but until councilor Starr brought it up in a public meeting the public was unaware. Granted, she worked for the council and made a lateral move back to the city and is still on the taxpayers dime but I think her move plays into this.

• July 2022; Mike Grisby, IT Director for the city, left the city. The city has not said what the details of his departure were but if you go to Mike’s Linkedin page you will see he is back in Kansas City where he came from and has NO mention of his city employment. Interestingly enough, Grisby did this interview in March of 2022 just a few months before leaving where he talks about the integration of different departments into IT. It’s not a bad concept (considering the administration did just that after he left).

I mention this timeline because in less then a year, since the departure of Grisby there has been major shakeups in leadership.

Grisby is one of the few directors that came to Sioux Falls with little attachment and it is NO surprise he is back in Kansas City. In other words, he had no dog in the fight and nothing grounding him here. I think his sudden departure from the city with NO explanation is where the dominoes started to fall, and I don’t think the last one has dropped yet.

Of course I am speculating, but it is pretty obvious to those looking from the outside that the administration has been circling the wagons over the past year but WHY?

UPDATE II: Comments on the Riverline District are ‘Hot & Cold’

This was the analogy Mayor TenHaken gave at the State of the City address when a public event was suddenly hi-jacked by people who want to make a lot of cashola on the Riverline District.

To Poops credit he did make some admissions such as the difficulty of building housing in the area (he said people were not suggesting housing, even though I read most of the comments when the survey was live and there were many housing suggestions). He also brought up the natural springs in the area (without mentioning that building on top of them with permanent structures would be difficult). But where I had to giggle a bit was when Paul suggested that the comments about building a baseball stadium in the area were ‘Hot & Cold’.

Before we get to his lipstick job he applied to this very ugly pig, what made it even more amusing is Paul’s seemingly lack of gravitas when trying to sell the public on this. I read most of the comments, to say they were hot or cold isn’t untrue, but about 90% or more were pretty damn cold on the stadium idea.

UPDATE: I find the actual survey results in major conflict with the comments I read.

Over a year ago a citizen involved with community and neighborhood planning told me about a closed survey they sent out to a specific group. The link provided accidentally got shared with others and someone who wanted to see different results decided to have a little fun. The survey was filled out by the same IP address over 100 times. My point is, surveys can be fudged and are NOT scientific. I have yet to run into one single person who wants to see a new stadium built downtown.

There will be a privately funded economic impact study done soon and hopefully have results in July. Unfortunately this $200K private study will be funded by 20 private banking firms in South Dakota. What’s that saying about thumbs and scales?

Personally I think this would be a fantastic spot for a multi-story convention center with a green space attached that could be used for conventions. The obvious problem with this scenario is we already have a convention center and this would probably be a $100 million dollar project (funded by taxpayers). We could repurpose the current convention center as a rec center, but once again, where will the money come from?

I am all for the Riverline District, but I think the private investors and banksters can manage this all by their lonesome and if the city needs to put in a yield sign or a swing set, we can assist.

Poops says he doesn’t like the term legacy but pretty much wanted to make the Riverline Project his legacy. He may get it, and he may not like the results (think buckled siding, failed HVACs and Bunker Ramps).

I can almost guarantee if there is a proposal passed by the city council to bond for a multi-million dollar rec center or stadium, the signatures WILL be collected and it WILL go to a public vote which will need a 60% threshold to pass muster.

I guess the proposed pool bonds are rumored to be at or above $70 million.


Towards the end of the address, Poops recognizes Dawn Marie Johnson who is running for School Board with an election less then a month away. While I didn’t hear him mention she was running for school board, it certainly was dubious timing to recognize her accomplishments (during a public meeting funded by taxpayers). There are campaign rules about using public funds or venues to promote a candidacy. Just last year David Z was cut off at public input for violating those rules. Granted, I am unaware if Dawn knew he was going to do that, (and an attendee told me that he didn’t even see her there) and in no way is it a reflection on her or her campaign, but Paul seems to think he is some kind of king maker after the last city election. If I were Dawn, I would politely ask Mayor TenHaken to keep his endorsements to himself, she will do just fine on her own.

UPDATE II: Johnson was in attendance and took a photo with the mayor at the event that she posted to her social media page.


At the beginning of the SOC, Poops asked for people to eat up. Kind of confused that there would be any leftovers with all the reservations.

Public meetings are just that PUBLIC. Not only should there have been no muffins and coffee (unless paid for by a private donor) there certainly should NOT have been reservations. I was informed it was light grab and go pastries and the city did pay for them.

This also should have streamed in SIRE (city website meeting page), siouxfalls.org/live, CityLink, YouTube and Facebook. The media department has the technology to do this if they so choose. Heck, Dakotanewsnow even figured out how to stream it.

Also, public meetings (unless part of a pre-arranged presentation to the council or public input) are not a place for private investors to try to sell us on something we have no interest in buying. The SOC is a time for the mayor to share with the public the past and present accomplishments of city government and what the future holds, which PTH did do in between the school board endorsements, pie in the sky baseball stadium proposals, telling Jensen to stand up, looking for Tom Greco and trying to determine if a map is orange.

I will defend PTH on trying to utilize technology to reach out to the public, but shouldn’t this utilization come with more openness and transparency? Who am I kidding.

Is Mayor TenHaken a small thinker or a visionary? Only time will tell.  


I wish I would have written that post title, but I didn’t.

It seems others in our fine community have discovered the squarespace crusader has no backbone. What took so long?

There has been oodles of backlash towards PTH and council over the roasted pumpkin seed version of the sustainability report, some critiques have been legit, others petty but this guest column editorial really nails it;

So, back to the city council: The council is elected to serve the people of Sioux Falls, not to submit to the will of a seemingly short-sighted mayor. Given that our council members’ salaries are paid by city taxpayers, yes, we do expect more. We expect the city council to carefully study and consider all the proposals in the December 2022 updated Sustainability Plan. We expect them to make Sioux Falls a leader in addressing factors that impact climate change, and to create a city of excellence in policies and practices that contribute to a livable planet for us and future generations. 

We expect the mayor to work toward measurable progress to help save the planet, and therefore help save us and future generations. A grant application for Climate Pollution Reduction funds would demonstrate good faith action in this regard.

Is Mayor TenHaken a small thinker or a visionary? Only time will tell.

As I understand the situation Poops was open minded about the initial recommendations but got push back from the council, or so they say.

Trust me, I read about government all over this country daily, as I have told my readers before, it’s my hobby, and it entertains me. But what has astonished me especially over the past 5 years is this seemingly black hole of leadership with our Sioux Falls city council and mayor. I mean, it is one thing to just make bad OR good decisions it’s a whole other level to make no decisions, with no explanation.

Tomorrow when the savior pops out of his cave he needs to make a quick trip to city hall to remind the mayor about redemption and the power of evil forces, then he needs to pull up his sandals and trot on over to Carnegie town hall to talk to the city disciples (councilors) about the consequences of bad decisions. There are a couple of things watered down wine and unleavened bread cannot fix.