Entries Tagged 'Mayor TenHaken' ↓

Is it time to END the Sioux Falls Mayor’s Discretionary Tax Rebate Program?

We found out a few years ago that the Planning Department in collusion with the Mayor’s office has a list of PRIVATE developer and corporation tax rebates. The kicker is all of the rebates are approved ONLY by the discretion of the Mayor. There is NO City Council OR public review of the rebates. The mayor simply signs off on them. While they can be seen by the public you have to know who to ask. There are NO public presentations of the recipients.

How do they work? Basically a developer or company, or investment group (LLC) makes significant upgrades to the property and a portion of the cost (usually around half) is rebated back to them from their paid property taxes. Like TIFs, it is only an option for a select few and extremely UNFAIR to the 99.99% of property taxpayers in the community.

Now, I’m not going to cry corruption, I’m just going to keep this simple, it is time to end this welfare handout because 1) it goes against the FREE market system but more importantly 2) The mayor should not have this kind of power and control to secretly hand out tax rebates to whomever he wants to.

I think the City Council needs to end this process ASAP.

You will see below how random and highly questionable the recipient list is which adds the element of corruption;

Endeavor 212 LLC, Dr. Richard Brue, Historic DTSF Property, this one surprises me since downtown property is very valuable and certainly doesn’t need a tax break.

• Smithfield, this company owned by Communist Chinese investors got a massive tax break in 2019 and again in 2020.

Graco Minnesota Inc, this very successful company based out of Minnesota got a tax break. Why?

• Schenk Properties LLC and AL Properties LLC may be intertwined with Murray properties and they have gotten massive tax breaks in Foundation Park for 3 different properties in 2019 & 2020.

• 4 Suns-I90 LLC, I believe has developed property on North Cliff and 60th, they are based out of Fargo, ND. So I guess we don’t only give tax cuts to the Chinese but also our Northern neighbors.

Third Avenue Lofts LLC, Riverview Square LLC are Legacy Projects intertwined with Norm Drake. So I guess the mayor felt it was okay to give a tax break to a guy involved with the Copper Lounge collapse and the Bunker Ramp debacle.

KV LLC, this one is a mystery, but seem to be based out of Sioux City, SD.

Dudley House area is a disaster

Last Saturday afternoon I rode by on my bicycle and the whole area looked like a garbage truck had exploded, blankets were strewn all over the sidewalks and boulevards. When I took the picture below today, the garbage seemed to be cleaned up (probably blew away) but many of the homeless who are NOT permitted in the shelter, are sleeping on the public sidewalks in front, and it has been going on all summer.

I warned the city council when approving this location that an already strained neighborhood would get worse, and it has. Besides being baffled by why this is being allowed to exist (we supplement the House’s budget) what is the city doing about it? Absolutely nothing!

What makes it even sadder is that the city also employs the house’s director as a part-time employee for CityLink.

One of TenHaken’s campaign promises when he ran 3 years ago was that he would eliminate homelessness. It has actually gotten worse.

There are two solutions we should have done to begin with. The shelter should have been built just North of the jail and not in the middle of a neighborhood on a busy street. Also, the shelter that used to provide cots for the intoxicated should have never closed.

Between panhandling and now the Dudley Sidewalk Slumber Parties our leadership needs to be working on solutions instead of just cutting checks. Of course, this isn’t going on in their neighborhoods, so they don’t give 2 rips.

Did Mayor Poops vow to get rid of the Poop?

During Mayor TenHaken’s re-election campaign announcement the infamous ‘Sh!t Birds’ that have made a manure monstrosity of our bike trails downtown started to squawk. Paul jokingly said he was going to get rid of them. I hope he keeps his promise. I have suggested for several years they can use air cannons to scare the birds and they will eventually move out of the area. But the biggest opponent of moving the fowl butt birds out of downtown has been the airport saying if the birds moved they could possibly get caught in jet’s engines. Probably just another empty promise from Stoneless.

Is Mayor TenHaken rolling with Communist Chinese Businessmen?

While I’m not big on right-winger news, this article about Paul’s involvement with the Chi-Comms is interesting;

The unearthing of the United States Heartland China Association (USHCA) ties to Chinese foreign influence groups follow reports of Chinese Communist Party members and firms buying up American farmland, raising national security concerns among lawmakers.

Of course, I have blogged about this in the past, but the origins of this association are interesting, to say the least;

Through USHCA’s partnerships with the National Governor’s Association and The United States Conference of Mayors, the aforementioned Chinese Communist Party-linked influence groups have courted several American representatives with sponsored speeches or travel.

Which makes you wonder who paid for Mayor Poops trip to China, and if that is a serious ethics violation? It is!

USHCA delegation participants have also called for closer collaboration with the Chinese Communist Party on agriculture and farming, including Sioux Falls, South Dakota Mayor Paul TenHaken in an op-ed recently wiped from the internet, upon return:

It is time that Sioux Falls looks at developing deeper, more consistent relationships with key Chinese communities and businesses. Both the city leaders of Guangzhou and Shenzhen—with populations of 20 million each—expressed interest in forming some government partnership between Sioux Falls and one of their city districts. These relationships are critical first steps in establishing both trust and economic partnerships between our communities. One of our largest employers—Smithfield Foods—is owned by a Chinese parent company, and my office has had several other discussions with business development opportunities that have Chinese ownership ties. The Sioux Falls economy would strengthen via stronger cultural and business relations with key Chinese partners.

Gee, I wonder why this quote was wiped? Maybe it has something to do with Smithfield forcing its workers to go to work in a highly infectious workplace to produce product that was mostly going to China? Or could it be that Paul doesn’t want anyone to know what exactly are his business ties to the Chi-Comms?

During his bizarre and rambling re-election announcement today he talked about how the job is ‘difficult’ sometimes. You know Paul, it wouldn’t be that hard if you weren’t constantly scheming and scamming behind the scenes while trying to keep it from the public. As Twain once said, “If you never lie, you never have to remember anything.”

UPDATE: Mayor TenHaken to announce re-election campaign a day before trying to sneak in a tax increase thru resolution?

UPDATE: This is NOT a fee increase, just an annual notice that the fee exists and renewed, it has since 1992.

City Council Members and Council Staff,

Good afternoon. A resolution (per City Ordinance 96.033) will be presented at Tuesday’s City Council
Meeting to levy an annual front foot assessment fee for street maintenance and repair. The special
assessment funds are used to partially fund the highways and streets operational budget for the
repairs and maintenance of our city streets to include pothole patching, asphalt surface
maintenance, and street sweeping.The front foot assessment fee has been in place since 1992.
The front foot assessment fee will be $1.00 per foot for 2022 and has not changed since 2009.
Attached is the resolution and on the back is the amount that has been collected for each respective
year since 1992.
Thank you, Mark Cotter

It looks as though Mayor Poops is finally going to announce he is running. The irony of this is astounding when you consider that on Tuesday night he is trying to push an over $9 million dollar tax increase thru resolution (item 21) which is legally dubious since tax or fee increases normally go thru the ordinance process of 1st and 2nd readings AND a presentation to the council in advance. Some councilors I spoke with didn’t even know it was on the agenda.

According to the math (thanks Mike Z – I updated his numbers);

Looks to be a new tax being created assessed on the residents of Sioux Falls, is this true?  $1.00 Per foot per property along our ‘streets’. If we have a total # of 900 centerline street miles in this city (1,800 if you include both sides of the street), and each mile is roughly 5,280 feet, this tax generates $9,504,000.00 for the city to be used to maintain and resurface highways, streets, and roads in the city. With a $654,000,000 million revenue stream, is a new tax really necessary?

Once again Paul is showing us his lack of transparency and his dark hatred towards open government. Most government’s would have put this thru a vetting process with it’s public works department, the city council and the citizens. Not to mention in the same night there will be a property tax increase (item 15). You also have to remember we spent most of the $50 million in Covid money on play things and gave away $144 million in tax rebates this year. It looks like we will be heading into the dark abyss for another 4 years unless Paul gets one heck of a challenger.

Should Mayor TenHaken Mandate Covid Vaccinations for City Employees? YES!

Like I have already said, we could avoid all of this if people just voluntarily got the FREE and EFFECTIVE and SAFE shot instead of making this a political issue.

While I kind of understand the back and forth on mandating vaccinations for private sector employees (Noem is not only allowing it, but she is essentially promoting it) I feel that public employees who receive their pay and health benefits from taxpayers should be required to be vaccinated, especially if they work with the public (which is most of them). This has more to do with me as a taxpayer investing in the city employees health and wellbeing and wanting them to be healthy instead of sitting in a hospital on a ventilator or out of work for a few weeks.

President Biden announced today sweeping vaccine mandates, and since the city of Sioux Falls receive Federal dollars, they really should follow suit. So should the counties and school districts within Sioux Falls.

I find it a bit hypocritical of our Health Department promoting Covid Vaccinations to the general public when they are not encouraging it with city employees. I wouldn’t even be opposed to a $100 bonus to city employees who get the shot. Or have someone from Falls Community Health go around to the different city offices and give them the shots in the comfort of their workspace.

It often seems odd to me the mixed messaging we are getting from our elected officials on Covid. Do as I say, not as I do.

Mayor TenHaken wants to hear from non-voting minors instead voting adults

While the premise of Mayor Poops youth council is actually a great idea, I do find it wreaks of hypocrisy;

One key group we are missing to help solve these issues is yours, and we need you to be part of the Mayor’s Youth Council. Youth voices matter in Sioux Falls because you are our future. I want to hear from you on important issues that affect our community,” said Mayor Paul TenHaken.

What is really missing is Paul interacting with VOTING ADULTS in this community. Almost every policy he has pushed forward has been organized behind closed doors, like Med MJ. How about an Adult Council to go along with the Youth Council? Better yet, bring them both together to discuss issues. That would be a true shot of reality for these kids and the adults.

It’s easy to have open meetings with youth, because they really have NO say in our elections and Paul doesn’t have to do squat with their ideas. This is all smoke and mirrors to hide his true obsession, being Sioux Falls’ #1 Youth Pastor.

Like I said, this is a great way to interact with the youth of our city, but Paul should probably do a dry run with the big kids before trying to brainwash the youth of this city.

Mayor TenHaken needs to stop mansplaining and take action in public view

It’s rare that I give Mayor Poops props, but he made some interesting comments about density and our core (FF 12:00). The only problem is that he has had more then 3 years to do something with the help of the do-nothing council. He mentions that we need to do a better job of building density in our core. DING! DING! DING! This wasn’t the first Mayor to try to mansplain this issue. Mayor Munson actually took a stab at it when he created the Pettigrew Heights neighborhood and started the rebuilding of Downtown. The problem was when Bucktooth & Bowlcut took the baton he just focused on the immediate Downtown. Fast forward to Paul and the story behind the scenes is that he has been talking to core property owners around the downtown area, the problem, as rumor would have it is that Paul wants to try to strong arm these owners into selling property to the city so he can bulldoze it and turn it around to his rich developer friends. This is what happens when you have a COS that used to be a developer executive. Most of those owners have told them they will redevelop on their own without the help of the city.

The bigger issue with this is that the public, the city council and these owners all need to come to the table and put together a strategy, and the process needs to be very open and transparent. Right now those meetings, like the MED MJ ordinance discussions are happening behind closed doors, and as I understand it are failing miserably.

I’m not sure what it will take to get this mayor to understand open government, he just doesn’t, and neither does the council or the city attorney’s office.

The only way we will will ever succeed with this core redevelopment is if we open the books, unfortunately I don’t think that will ever happen with the current administration.

Sioux Falls Rubberstamp City Council passes $25 Million Dollar Corporate Welfare TIF Tax Rebate to wealthy developer with ZERO discussion

While the almost 5 hour meeting last night had many fireworks from the Med MJ ordinance discussion (this was only 1st Reading) towards the beginning of the meeting they approved TIF #25 with almost zero discussion (they moved it up so the VIP wealthy developer getting a handout wouldn’t have to sit thru all the people’s REAL business).

Besides the same lame brain presentation from the Planning Director about the TIF itself only one speaker emerged to defend the TIF, and it wasn’t the developer. In fact the developer has said NOTHING about the TIF except when he made a presentation to the council at an informational meeting. His daughter did say a handful of words when the Planning Commission approved the TIF, but the developer himself has said NOTHING at the 2 readings of this ordinance. Not even a please and thank you for getting this handout that the rest of SF property tax payers will have to make up for. Of course, why should he? All of those negotiations were done in secret over the past several years, this is also why you didn’t hear a peep from the councilors either, just a gigantic sound of 7 whaps on the dais with a rubber stamp. (Marshall Selberg was absent)

Wouldn’t it be great if getting food stamps was that easy?

So who was the only defender last night? Joe Batcheller, Director of Downtown Sioux Falls. While Joe and I are on good terms, even if I disagree with him about bringing snakes to outdoor events (he thinks it is fine) 😊 we also disagree on TIFs. As a trained urban planner, Joe adamantly thinks they are good thing. He also even makes the tired old argument I hear councilors make ‘TIFs may not work well in other communities, but golly gee they work great here’. The problem with the argument is that we have NO economic or financial evidence of that, NO studies have been done on TIFs in SF or SD that shows an actual benefit to the public.

Which brings us to another point Joe made. He said this TIF was justified because we are getting a Return on Investment (ROI). I’m not sure a parking ramp (this is what most of the TIF will be spent on) that can only be used by the public on nights and weekends is much of an ROI when you consider that the Bunker Ramp is mostly empty at night and barely filled during the day, we will have another parking ramp sitting at the Sioux Steel Project and my long term argument is parking ramps really probably won’t be needed in the next decade. The irony of it all is that by the time this TIF runs out in approximately 20 years, it will probably NOT be a parking ramp.

The King of Sioux Falls TIFs himself (Stormland TV Screenshot)

Joe also made the argument that TIFs are not ‘Handouts’. I’m not sure what else you would call them. TIFs are essentially a tax rebate you get to use on your private property. The developer builds a parking ramp that they will be using during the day, and likely charge for access and they get that ramp paid for by getting a rebate on the $25 million dollar taxes they are supposed to be paying to the county, the school district and the city while raising taxes on the rest of us due to the total valuation of the project. It would be like you personally getting a $500 dollar property tax rebate to fix your front door. While that benefits YOUR property, it has very little benefit to the tax payers who have to pay their full tax bill, while also supplementing your rebate. Sure they throw us a few crumbs saying the TIF will also build roads (to their private project, to their benefit) and we get to use the parking for the Levitt (even though I have yet to see a parking issue at the concerts even when the lawn is packed) the true beneficiary of this REBATE is the developer and his investors, this is why it truly is a HANDOUT.

The most egregious part about the almost $200 million dollars in TIFs the city council has gleefully handed out this year is that this could ALL be done with private investment. The money is there. It has been proven by the past decade of record breaking building permits that have been issued to contractors in this city who have asked for ZERO tax breaks. Besides the public building permits, I think most of the private permits issued by the planning department are 100% privately funded. It would be a great presentation and study done by our Planning Department, but of course that would shoot holes in the whole NEEDING TIFs to succeed in Sioux Falls. Believe it or not, I think that is fantastic that private business, can invest privately while providing good jobs without a government HANDOUT.

Which brings us to Joe’s last point, that was so ridiculous when he said it, I laughed for about 5 minutes. Joe said it was important to remember that Cherapa II’s developer was taking on 100% of the risk for this approximately $350 million dollar project.

Really Joe?!!!  He should be commended for that after getting this handout from the city?

Isn’t that how the Free Market system is supposed to work? Oh never mind, in Sioux Falls it’s called Developer Socialism. You give us massive tax breaks and we will make sure we spend it on us and never present data that shows otherwise.

And lastly, Jeff, a Thank You would have been nice.

Medical MJ Ordinances prove Authoritarians are running our city NOT Representatives

The reason we elect a city council and mayor is to have citizen representation when crafting or upholding our laws and ordinances within our city. They should not be injecting their own personal views on those laws they just need to follow them within reason.

The gross abuse of power the Mayor and the Council is showing with the Med MJ ordinance is appalling and shows the stark similarities between how this ordinance is being crafted and how the Events Center was passed.


The Event Center vote was an ‘Advisory Vote’ in other words it had no legal binding, it was just a suggestion to the city council. A little over 50% voted YES. If this would have been a LEGAL bond initiative vote it would have failed because that needs 60% to pass. Of course, a majority of the City Council ignored that fact and voted to pass the Event Center bonds WITHOUT a LEGAL bond election, and without a 60% majority on the advisory election. In other words, we were NOT properly represented by our councilors and mayor.

Fast forward to 2021, and the new mayor and council are back at their old tricks by injecting their personal feelings and opinions of a very small minority of people when crafting Med MJ ordinances. While the news has been reporting about the ridiculous FIVE dispensary rule (while we have hundreds of bars, liquor stores and telephone booth VL casinos) they have avoided talking about the 1,000 foot setback, the conditional use permitting process and most egregious of all the initial $100,000 1st year license fee and $50,000 a year after that (you have to buy a 2 year license for $100,000.) Remember, over 70% of South Dakota voters approved Med MJ and even a higher percentage in Minnehaha County and the City of Sioux Falls. They are totally ignoring the will of the voters and the majority and doing the bare minimum to restrict these dispensaries. I have also heard there was pressure from a certain bank and hospital in town, you can probably guess.

Sadly, according to the city website, these are running rates for alcohol licensing;

Retail On/Off Sale Malt Beverage (yearly renewal) $333.00
Retail On/Off Sale Wine (yearly renewal) $533.00
Package Liquor (yearly renewal) $533
Retail Liquor (Bar) One time License Fee $192,393 with a yearly renewal fee of $1,500

You could either argue that the licensing fees of alcohol (a narcotic, not a plant) is too low, or the licensing of Med MJ is too high, but they are grossly mismatched. And where did the $100K fee come from? It is obvious it was pulled from their behinds and isn’t based on any economic or financial data, it’s just vindictive. Also factor in that dispensaries would be selling a harmless plant discreetly for medicinal use and no product can be used on the premise. It’s no different than picking up vitamins at Wayne & Mary’s. The immense ignorance and dictatorship like actions taken by Mayor TenHaken and the City Council are extremely worrisome and concerning. This is why most of this ordinance was crafted in secrecy, they know it is unethical and wrong.

I also think this is a part of a statewide effort to punish voters and petitioners for passing their own laws. Just look how they gutted the minimum wage (for teenagers) transparency laws, Rec MJ and the list goes on and on. They hate the initiative process because it strips them of their authority and they seek to punish anyone who dares to participate in it. I joked that even if Med MJ passed with 99.9% of the vote, they would still move to limit it. Their greed and power sees no limits and they have no shame about it.

There is a silver lining though.

I’m guessing there will be immense pushback from the industry, and I am also guessing it’s going to be very public and very intense and will hopefully expose who is leading this city into a dictatorship. Get out the popcorn folks because it’s going to be quite a show watching the rats run for their holes but this time they may have no where to hide.