Entries Tagged 'Mayor TenHaken' ↓

After pointing out the dismal attendance of the Planning Commission it gets a change up

It seems the change up didn’t help much since only 6 members attended tonight out of the 9 member board. You will notice by looking at the new list that many members who were not showing up to meetings over the past year have been replaced with temporary terms**.

Once again the TenHaken administration has been busily rearranging deck chairs hoping no one notices. Cruise Control government at it’s best, hopefully we don’t have any unexpected freezing rain.

Members of the Sioux Falls Planning Commission

Nine members (including one chair person) are appointed by the Mayor to serve five year terms.

  • (Vice-Chair) John Paulson – Term Expires – May 2021
  • Bradyn Neises – Term Expires – May 2021**
  • Dana Fisher – Term Expires – May 2021**
  • Sean Ervin – Term Expires – June 2023*
  • Larry Luetke – Term Expires – June 2023*
  • (Chair) Eric Nyberg – Term Expires – May 2024
  • Aaron Norman – Term Expires – July 2024*
  • Kurt Johnson – Term Expires – May 2024*
  • Janet Kittams – Term Expires – April 2025

 * Second Term
** Assumed Previous Members Term

City of Sioux Falls 2021 Salaries

I just started digging into this, but here are my first impressions.



Once again the highest paid city employee, the head doc over at Falls Community Health (where you currently can’t receive a Covid vaccination) received a $10,000.00 a year raise. She now makes around $256K. I guess I shouldn’t complain, she got more last year with a $18,000.00 raise.

But what is more interesting is how a 3 year employee has garnered a $13,624.00 raise over two years. Shawn Pritchett the finance director was making $166,316.00 when hired, the following year (2020) he was making $171,940.00 and now is getting paid $179,940.00.

Don’t get me wrong, it is an important position, but first off what did he do to deserve this kind of raise, and secondly, while he is the chief accountant for the city he has 29 minions working for him. He isn’t an accountant, he’s a manager and he should get manager pay.

One of my conservative friends said it best to me awhile back and again today when we were discussing this topic, “No one should make more than the mayor.” Mayor TenHaken’s current pay as chief administrator and manager of the city and employees is $130K a year. Think about that.

There was also this little change up. TenHaken eliminated the GIS department and now is calling them the Civic Analytics department;

The manager got a $5k raise and one of her minions got a $4K raise. But why the name change? And what are they doing?

What amazes me the most is that in the middle of an economic downturn in which the city lost tax revenue last year we would be giving these enormous raises while the average city employee got a whopping 1% raise.

Mayor TenHaken’s HATEFEST on Transparency continues with Ethics Complaint Coverups

I’m not going to mince words, this is just a blatant coverup;

But exactly how often are ethics complaints actually brought against city employees and elected officials, and for what? Well, taxpayers aren’t supposed to know.

There have been 16 ethics complaints filed with the Sioux Falls Board of Ethics since Jan. 1, 2000, according to the city’s recent response to an Argus Leader open records request.

But City Attorney Stacy Kooistra said not only could the details of those complaints not be released, neither could the roles held by those accused. Kooistra cited state law and city ordinances.

The only path to transparency on those ethics complaints is if the accused waives confidentiality.

Of those 16 complaints, only two have elected to do so.

While I don’t think there should be confidentiality to begin with, what I don’t understand is after a complaint has been thrown out, why does it remain confidential? While Kooistra may be correct that they have a right to confidentiality, I think that right ends once the complaint has been thrown out and the public has a right to see the complaint and the reason it was thrown out. I don’t think the law is on their side after the complaint has been thrown out. I believe there are two reasons why they are claiming they can do this 1) They don’t want the public reviewing the complaints that are thrown out and questioning why they were thrown out and 2) This administration has a deep, deep, deep hatred of open government, it’s almost a feverish sickness within city hall. It often amazes me why someone has such deep hate in their souls for something that is the moral, honest and the ethical thing to do AND actually saves taxpayers money.
You also have to remember that ANY complaint can be simply thrown out as frivolous if the complainant doesn’t cite the correct chapter in law/ordinance. You wonder how often this has happened? So while the complaint could have substance, it could get booted due to the ignorance of the complainant. Should the city attorney or ethics board be assisting the complainant to cite the proper ordinance? Yes!!!!

But, not only is there a DEEP HATE for open government they seem to be delusional about what an ethics indictment means;

The confidentiality of the complaints has been cited as a way to prevent their use as a weapon. Neitzert only waived confidentiality on the complaint following his successful re-election, saying there was “clear evidence of a timed and coordinated attack against my character for the purposes of defeating me in my re-election effort.”

Greg seems to be confused, because he WAS indicted on the complaint;

The board found probable cause that there had been a violation of ethical ordinances, but added that it was a ‘common practice’ for councilors to have their expenses paid for by a third party and that the City Council’s rules around such matters were broad and confusing.

The board recommended no individual sanctions against Neitzert, who was later cleared of the charge in a 5-2 vote of the City Council.

While Greg’s best buddies on the City Council dismissed punishment, Neitzert was still indicted by the ethics board and that remains unchanged. It wasn’t a political attack since the ethics board did say he violated charter. Him and the mayor accepted the gift and took the trip. A political opponent had nothing to do with that violation. In fact, to this day Greg hasn’t been able to show evidence that the complaint filed against him had any connection to his opponent. Not one shred. The only thing the ethics commission did say was he didn’t deserve sanctions since everybody was apparently ‘doing it’ even though they gave no evidence of who these other councilors or mayors that were doing it. Even though we know TenHaken has been ‘doing it’ quite a bit.

As I said from the beginning, this is clearly just a coverup. I would love it if Attorney Kooistra provided us the laws and ordinances that cover, coverups but not until he figures out prior restraint and the 1st Amendment.

Sioux Falls Planning Commission has serious attendance issues

As a South DaCola foot soldier pointed out to me yesterday, how can 4 votes out of a 9 member commission pass a $94 million dollar TIF recommendation to the city council?

Good question. After spinning my wheels yesterday I discovered according to the Commission’s own rules and Robert’s Rules they can conduct business with 5 members present even if the chair is a non-voting member (they only break ties).

So this got me even more curious about the attendance of the Planning Commission, even pre-covid and discovered over the past year, even though they can attend meetings via phone, a good chunk of them don’t even bother to show up. In fact, over the past 14 months, they have never conducted business with a full body (9 members);

Feb 2021 – 5

Jan 2021 – 6

Dec 2020- 6

Nov – 5

Oct – 6

Sep – 7

Aug – 7

July – 7

June – 2 meetings, 6 at both

May – 6

April – 5

March – 6

Feb – 7

Jan – 5

While I totally understand that these members are volunteers, I question what they signed up for? While they do have to read a lot of materials to prepare, they only really need to attend ONE meeting per month for about 1-2 hours. That’s it!

But my blame for this attendance isn’t on this all volunteer board, it really lies in the lap of Planning Director Eckhoff and his boss Mayor Stoneless. Has there ever been an attendance discussion? My guess is probably not considering it is easier for the mayor and his developer friends to push an agenda when no one shows up to vote on that agenda (or very few).

I think it is absolutely disgusting that a board that is supposed to recommend to the council can pass a ludicrous $94 million dollar TIF on 4 out of 9 possible votes, with next to no discussion.

This administration gets sloppier by the day when it comes to process.

Mayor TenHaken tells us how lucky we are to have a Department of Innovation

Prophet Paul was at the Rotary meeting on Monday with his Director of Innovation and Technology.

After complaining about his back problems (which is starting to be a reoccurring theme which reminds me of the last mayor who would cry about his alcoholic father at every presser) he started to tell us we are so fortunate to have this new department that he created by rearranging some cool edgy words.

He wanted to give credit to our do nothing Senator Thune for helping to bring 5G here. I am sure it had little to do with the fact that John has gotten around a million in donations and reach arounds from the telecommunications industry. Mayor Stoneless also told us the reason 5G is going up so fast and furious in Sioux Falls is because we are not gouging them on rental and permitting fees. You know, because the cell phone companies can barely afford to stay above water.

He said he was tired of the misinformation spread about the negative health effects about 5G and blamed other countries spreading these lies because they are competing with us. He also said our FCC concluded that there were no negative health effects (you know, the studies conducted by the very industry insiders due to benefit from 5G – that’s not corrupt ☹ While I’m not sold there is massive negative health effects from 5G, I will say one thing for certain, it doesn’t work very well. That is why you have to stack these towers on top of each other, and if it is raining, good luck. The technology just isn’t that great. I think Thune-Bag and Prophet Stoneless are pushing 5G because they may be investing in it but we will never know because getting financial disclosure from these folks isn’t that easy since they love transparency so much.

One of Paul’s arguments for 5G is so potholes could detect themselves. No lie, he said that. How about making roads more innovative by building them better like they do in Germany?

Ironically, Paul likes to rave about innovation in his administration but still hasn’t figured out trickle down economics to welfare programs in tax rebates to wealthy developers doesn’t really trickle down to the rest of us in higher wages and better jobs, just higher property taxes. The only thing ‘innovative’ about Paul’s administration so far is that he possibly has helped himself and his friends get very rich by exploiting the city’s coffers for his wild eyed ideas about innovation and lack of transparency and public input. I guess any dictatorship can call themselves innovative, who is going to argue with them?

Sorry, I have to cut this post short, a pothole is calling me.

UPDATE: How can NON-Elected City Employees Recommend Approval of a $94 million dollar TIF?

I’ve complained in the past about the ludicrous nature of city employees in the planning department recommending approval of projects. But a $94 million dollar TIF? Get Out!

Just look at the Planning Meeting agenda for Wednesday;

Notice that on the actual agenda page there is NO recommendation from staff, but if you look at the attached documents you get this, approval;

Situational factors are also evaluated in any TIF request with flexibility and discretion, and may include any factor important to elected and appointed officials. 
Staff recommends approval. 

I’m not sure who wrote the sentence above, but in my circles we call that poppycock, horse pucky or in Europe, Bullocks!

While I understand they have to evaluate re-zones and permits, what gives them any authority to simply recommend approval of a $94 million dollar tax rebate?

I have encouraged the city council in the past to either change the charter/ordinance or write a new one that doesn’t allow NON-ELECTED city employees in the Planning Department recommending approval. They should give the PROS and CONS of every agenda item and let the Commission and Council decide.

Oh, and another City Hall mole tells me that the City Attorney even dipped his toes in the water sending city councilors a recommendation of approval. The City Attorney! If this is true, WOW! Not sure what a JAG officer with little knowledge of 1st Amendment rights can contribute to a TIF argument . . . oh that’s right, he has the Mayor’s boot polish on his tongue, my bad, I forgot. He did learn one thing in the military, a good spit shine.

What makes it even more egregious in this case is that they have NO basis that this is a good plan, in fact all they do is quote state law;

Tax Increment Financing is an economic development financing tool established by Chapter 11-9 of South Dakota Codified Law. TIF’s allow property tax dollars from a specific geographic area to be applied towards eligible public and private capital improvements and to stimulate and develop the general economic welfare and prosperity of the state by utilizing the anticipated increase in property tax— known as positive increment— generated from a project to reimburse for improvements determined as eligible by the municipal governing body. Improvements are typically financed and paid off in future years through the tax increment proceeds. 

They also make this assumption without backing it up with data;

Project Details The property included in the district boundaries are part of Foundation Park, which is a development park owned by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. In an effort to promote development of the property, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation has requested Tax Increment Financing to offset the costs associated with preparing the property for development and to stimulate and develop the general economic welfare and prosperity of the state. The request is substantiated by economic development that will be generated through growth in taxes by a development site of this scale.

As I have mentioned in the past they have never done a comprehensive study about TIFs to prove that they ‘stimulate and develop the general economic welfare and prosperity of the state’ and they never will because it will only prove what TIFs really are; corporate welfare and little else.

UPDATE: The simple video below from our friends up North explains quite simply how TIFs raise taxes on the rest of us while the receiver of the TIF gets a nice little treasure chest (It gets juicy at about 5:10) H/T MLZ.

Notice the mention of a ‘TIF Account’ this of course will be held in a private bank. I’m not sure which bank would be used, but it is highly likely that the city and development foundation will use the one the city uses for it’s accounts now, you can guess which one that is.

Also notice the mention of ‘Bonds’. The city and state almost exclusively use one bonding company. You see where this money trail is going . . .

She also does a fine job of explaining how the original intent of TIFs was to clean up slums but now has been changed. She doesn’t flat out call it a scam, but the half-way sarcastic grin and partial eye-roll gives it away.

The best part is when she essentially explains how the rest of us will have to make up for this $94 million dollar TIF by increasing our taxes on over a billion dollars in valuation. OUCH!

She also talks about the ‘buddy system’ that is alive and well in Sioux Falls between the developers, the planning department, the mayor’s office and the city council which why I have argued for years is ripe with corruption. Remember the city holding onto land for a certain developer, tax free for over a decade at Phillips to the Falls then giving a TIF to boot for luxury apartments?

The video shockingly ends with my argument about using mini-TIFs for everyone in the city.

Oh, and I love the ending where she pretty much blows a hole in ‘urban renewal’ stating what it really is, higher taxes for the rest of us.

I know a lot of people think I blow a lot of smoke about TIF’s but this video is from a leading policy agency in a neighboring state.

Is Sioux Falls population estimate pre-mature?

One of the most frustrating things about our supposed local news isn’t that they are fake news, but that they don’t tell the full story after passing off press releases as a news story;

Sioux Falls grew again, according to the city’s planning and development department.

The new estimated population for 2020 is 195,850. That’s an increase of 5,100 from the 2019 estimate of 190,750. The new number was released Friday afternoon by the city.

The Planning and Development Department calculates its year-end population estimate based from data released by the U.S. Census Bureau annually in July.

While this is all fine and dandy in a year without a census, I find it odd that no one asked the city why they didn’t just wait until the official census is released (hopefully SOON)? I have argued that I think that number is high and fudged so the city has more bonding leverage. I am NOT sure what it is, but I think we need to wait and see once the official Census is released.

“Sioux Falls continues to demonstrate our resiliency and optimism as evidenced by the steady growth of the past year. This confidence, along with our City’s ability to improve and expand infrastructure and manage our land resources has been a proven formula of growth for many years,” Jeff Eckhoff, director of planning and development, said in the news release.

This statement ties into another Stormland TV story about right wing radicals and racism;

“For me to sit here as the mayor and say, ‘Well, that doesn’t exist here in Sioux Falls’ would be naïve, because certainly some of the same racial tensions that we saw bubble up in Washington and some of the slogans we saw on shirts can certainly exist here,” TenHaken said. “What I can do as mayor is just continue to promote a message of unity, of inclusiveness.”

“Last summer, we’ve had it before, we’ve had KKK fliers distributed around our community, we, people found them in parks and things, and I’ve always wondered, is that just a prank, is that a teen trying to get a rise out of someone, or is it very real,” TenHaken said.

Whatever the intent or the maturity behind such imagery, the Ku Klux Klan stands for real, documented hate.

“I think that’s the sort of thing we just can’t tolerate, there’s just no place for that,” TenHaken said. “There’s no acceptance of that.”

I have often thought there is a correlation between racism and economics. I’m not sure how Amazon or an egg roll factory will solve our low wage job issues in the community. Studies have shown that Amazon actually drives wages down. Recently I was asked if I thought Noem or TenHaken had anything to do with bringing them here. My answer was simple, “Sure. They got the Hell out of the way.” Only one entity made the decision to come to Sioux Falls, and that was Amazon based on logistics of their operation. I have often chuckled about how politicians like to pat themselves on the back for bringing in business but rarely say anything about trying to prevent harmful businesses from coming. I think trickle down economics doesn’t work. In fact the founder of them, Ronald Reagan and his administration has proven that nothing trickles down to us. The rich have gotten richer, the poor have gotten poorer and main street is disappearing. I have even predicted that in 10 years or less, large corporate retail stores will be virtually non-existent.

So back to economics and racism. The state and the city can do more to combat racism, they can do it by building up communities starting at the bottom and working up. Besides cute messaging and education they can start investing tax dollars into the core of our city to provide more affordable housing they can also recruit businesses that will be locally owned and provide living wages. I had to cringe a bit last week when Planning Director Eckhoff made an interesting comment about affordable housing. He was referring to the practice of tearing down small houses in the core of our city, essentially saying they were obsolete because people want houses with two-stall garages now. He was basically saying the city’s housing department isn’t interested in rehabilitating smaller affordable houses. I have no doubt in my mind that the city’s housing and planning department (who have merged in recent years under the direction of TenHaken) has been in cahoots with contractors and developers to eventually wipe out existing affordable housing in our core (houses that are smaller with either no garage or a one-stall and one or two bedrooms) that can cheaply be fixed up because developers have seen that multi-housing units are where the money is to be made. I have suggested mini-TIFs to homeowners and small apartment owners to fix up our core neighborhoods essentially investing in people instead of big developers and international low wage corporations that never trickle it down to rest of us. (FF: 1:18:30)

If we are going to combat racism in Sioux Falls, it starts with economics, that means creating living wage jobs and affordable housing in our core. Giving millions in TIFs to egg roll factories isn’t a very good plan.

Will the City of Sioux Falls & Minnehaha County provide a public vaccination site?

I know I have touched on this recently, but what I have been hearing from people who have been vaccinated (because they are in the correct category) is that people who are not patients of the two major health systems in Sioux Falls are NOT being contacted for their vaccination appointment. Some have even reached out to Falls Community Health and have been told they can’t get one there. On January 17th in a FB video, Mayor TenHaken said the city will be relying on the two systems to do the vaccinations and get a hold of patients to schedule them. He said they are ‘the professionals’ which is true, but also added ‘you don’t want government doing this.’

This is not right for many reasons;

• In the past mass vaccinations were handled by the Federal government in partnership with private volunteers, hospitals, local governments and pharmacies.

• As Federal taxpayers we paid for these vaccines and their Federal distribution there is NO reason why there shouldn’t be a public option for those who don’t use our two major health systems.

• We have the money to do a public site as proven with the almost half-million the city has already spent in ‘education’ programs.

• Privacy issues. Many people who don’t use the private systems don’t want them to have that information which they may use for patient recruitment.

I won’t make this argument about how much money the health systems will make from this, I really don’t care at this point, and it is moot. This is about citizens being able to have every option possible to receive a vaccination, whether they get it at the two hospitals, a private pharmacy, Falls Community Health or a drive-thru site ran by Feds. I also think that as a community we are better than this, we have the money and the resources to provide this, and ethically we should.

Once again I am disappointed that Mayor TenHaken, the county leadership and others in state government just pass the buck on covid prevention and leadership to the private sector. While I appreciate all the great work they have done, it really needs to be a true partnership not a passing of the buck.

I’m hoping the Biden administration and the Feds get involved and force the city and county to provide a public option, even if they have to throw more money at this epidemic. Let’s face it folks, our economy and lives will never get back to normal until we can provide immunity to almost everyone, and sitting on our hands while the private sector handles this is just not acceptable, but unfortunately with most local government issues, predictable.

Mayor TenHaken’s ties to China

Last night at the Sioux Falls City Council regular (FF: 1:42:00) meeting a citizen brought up during public input the curious nature of Paul’s trip to China in November(?) 2019. Remember this was before Smithfield’s disastrous approach to keeping workers safe during Covid, and probably the reason why Covid spread so rapidly in Sioux Falls. Smithfield is owned by Communist Chinese investors that ship most of the product from our location to China. Think of it like the XL Keystone pipeline that would ship Canadian tar sands crude across our state to the Gulf Coast so it can be shipped to China.

Paul said this at the time of the trip;

“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.”

If I was a guessing man, I can almost guarantee Paul met with Smithfield investors while in China. Remember how no one in his administration OR in Noem’s wanted to hold Smithfield accountable? How ironic that Noem just called a couple of newly elected Senators ‘communists’ while she bowed to the real communists whose ignorance of safety procedures helped spread the virus rapidly thru our city and region and essentially cost lives while Noem and TenHaken blamed immigrants for lacking proper hygiene. They virtually did nothing to stop the impending doom at Smithfield and even the CDC drug their feet.

Sorry Paul, I have ZERO interest in doing business with the Communist Chinese who are actively using 5G technology (antennas made in China) to spy on us and their meat-packing stink-hole plants to destroy our environment with little fines or punishment and providing unsafe working conditions that helped spread Covid through our community. The Chinese don’t care about our community, and the feeling should be mutual. This is about lining their pockets and little else.


During the City Council Informational meeting yesterday, there were a couple of presentations;

The first was about how the city plans to rebuild Hayward Park with a private/public partnership. I guess Steve Hildebrand and Matt Paulson are in charge of the fundraising. During the presentation, councilor Soehl asked why concrete and pipes (for the proposed spray park) cost $1 million. I told him during my public input at the end of the meeting it is because the city normally pays 2 to 3 times more for contractor work then what private industry does.

The Planning/Housing department did a presentation on how they plan to still build houses for a handful of families and sell them at a discounted price. In fact, Planning Director Eckhoff admitted something I have known for a long time, that contractors won’t do this work unless they can make some money. As I have known all along, this is has nothing to do with affordable housing, it has to do with certain developers and contractors making a buck on these Federal housing projects, this is a great program about it. While I understand they have to make a profit on these projects, I think they are and than some;

During public input, I told them about my idea of providing property tax rebates (small TIFs) to homeowners and small duplex and apartment owners in the core neighborhoods to fix up properties much faster for affordable housing. I told the city council it was time to invest in the ‘people’ of the city.

I ended my public input by scolding them about moving the regular council meeting to 6 PM, essentially shortening the informational and causing issues with the amount of time presentations can be done.

UPDATE: Who is running for Sioux Falls Mayor or City Council in 2022?

UPDATE: I got some more names thrown in the bucket. Matt Paulson has confirmed with me that at this time he is NOT planning on running for council. I have also heard from others that Joe Kippley, senior director of strategic partnerships at Sanford Imagenetics is interested in running for SE District that will be left open by Rick Kiley. I have also heard that Julian Julian Beaudion is interested in running for an At-Large position. Keep the updates coming!

Believe it or not, another city council and mayoral election is only a year from this April. I expect challengers to TenHaken to make an announcement this summer and council candidates in the Fall.

So who is done and who will run for those seats? I’m not sure, but have heard some speculation and rumors.

TenHanken’s 1st term ends in 2022. I am still not convinced he is running again, but I do expect some others to run whether he chooses to or not. Christine Erickson, Mike Huether, Greg Jamison and David Zoikates (He has already announced). While Paul hasn’t been real popular with me, he does have a good popularity rating with voters and if he chose to seek a second term he would be hard to beat.

At-Large, Janet Brekke. My guess is that Janet will run for a 2nd term, but she has plenty of time to decide.

At-Large Christine Erickson. Her 2nd term is up, and like I said, I think she may run for Mayor.

So who would run for those seats? I am not sure. Some names that has been thrown around is immigrant activist Taneeza Islam or Investor Matt Paulson.  But I think there are many candidates that want to run, like Zach DeBoer and Handsome Tom Hurlbert, but they may go after the low hanging fruit and challenge Curt Soehl in Central District who is also up in 2022. I’m not sure if Curt will seek a 2nd term, he doesn’t seem to like the job very much, he’s usually grumpy, sarcastic or both at the meetings.

In the Southeast, Ricky Lee Kiley’s 2nd term is up in 2022, but I can’t hardly speculate who would want to run in the Taupeville district. I’m sure it will be some dull moderate Republican.

I would like to see some changes, for instance in the At-Large, since two seats are up, they should just give the two seats to the two highest vote getters instead splitting up the races.

Tell me your thoughts on who you like to see run or changes to the election like ranked choice voting which would eliminate run-offs.