Entries Tagged 'Minnehaha County' ↓

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.

Private Sioux Falls Airport gets deferred & the city plans to blow Covid money on NEW infrastructure

Well if you blinked your eyes yesterday you may have missed the Minnehaha CC/Sioux Falls CC joint meeting. The whopping 12 minutes of it.

Like the Sioux Falls City Council Informational meeting at 4 PM, the meeting wasn’t playing correctly on SIRE. They still don’t have it fixed and it seems they don’t really care. I guess the city is ran by a lot of Hi-Tech losers, who talk a big game but cannot deliver. Kind of reminds you of what that guy tells you on Sundays about your path to paradise.

Besides the fact that you could not watch the meeting online, it started right at 5 PM right when people are getting off of work.

They deferred the airport item due to a delayed FAA study, then asked for general public input at the end and that was it. I arrived at Carnegie right after it was done. I wanted to address both bodies about the excessive panhandling that has been going on all year long, what they were planning on doing about it, and some of my ideas to fix the problem (like fining people who give from their car windows and signage about ordinances and laws). But when you don’t live stream a meeting and start it as everyone is getting off of work, it doesn’t give you much time to attend.  I’m not sure who the rocket scientist is that thinks scheduling a meeting at 5 PM on Tuesday is a good idea, but . . . oh that’s right, the same authoritarian fascists who have a war on transparency in our city.

Speaking of the Informational Meeting (that was cutting out) what I could catch of it, and from the propaganda piece they sent to SF Bizzo it seems they are trying to sugarcoat how they are spending the money;

Of that, $4 million would be added to the pool of funding for arterial street expansion.

One of the things that has frustrated me is that the city continues to spend millions on new parks, new roads, and expansion while ignoring our core infrastructure. I have always preferred the mantra, take care of what you have first & if you can’t feed em’ don’t breed em’. So while they are spending our tax dollars on subsidizing corporations that pay little to no taxes & crappy wages they are sticking it to us on the back side;

The assessed value of the Platinum Point 52-unit town home complex in south Sioux Falls jumped 35 percent last year — and the developer said it’s just one example of a troubling trend.

For 17 years of owning my home the biggest increases I saw were 2% but most years it was 0%. Last year they nailed me for a 22% increase, which got reduced a bit, and this year they hit me with a 14% increase. As I have been warning people, this is what happens when we have an out of control TIF and tax rebate program to the developers, also we have an affordable housing crisis in Sioux Falls with an inflated housing market and straddle that with criminal justice costs in the County increasing (drug crimes) and a School District on a $300 million dollar spending spree and what you get is a greedy tax collection system. I have argued for a long time this is unsustainable and it’s bound to get even worse.

You can’t keep raping the little guy for more in property taxes & fees while blowing the money on more NEW infrastructure while you can’t maintain the current crumbling infrastructure in our core.

Recently a local government official told me after having a conversation with someone who studies affordable housing and poverty in Sioux Falls they said the problem is hard to fix but easily explained (paraphrasing);

“The gap between the rich and poor in Sioux Falls has widened greatly over the past 10 years, and widening even faster now. There isn’t a middle to upper middle class in Sioux Falls anymore. You are either living in poverty or close to it, in debt up to your ears, or extremely rich.”

There is also the problem with transparency that is not only affecting the citizens and our tax increases but information is being withheld from the city council by the administration. According to charter, the council is the body that is supposed to be making decisions on policy, budget, taxation and fees, not the mayor’s office.

Of course, none of this will end unless people start speaking up. While we will blab at the podium for 2 hours about masks and kids crying about it, we say nothing while our government is literally taking us to the cleaners and telling us nothing about how they are doing it.

Greed is destroying our community and it is being done by ‘supposed’ Christian leaders.

Maybe they need to listen a little bit harder to that guy on Sunday.

Minnehaha County Commission and Sioux Falls City Council set to approve/deny permit for private residential airport

It seems the march is on;

CONSIDER MOTION TO APPROVE, DENY OR AMEND CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT #21-17 TO ALLOW EXPANSION OF A PRIVATE AIRPORT APPROXIMATELY ONE MILE WEST OF SIOUX FALLS

It looks like on Tuesday at a joint 5 PM meeting the two bodies will consider the permit for the airport. I am still wondering if the FAA has weighed in;

The airport shall meet all FAA requirements.

I have to admit I am still on the fence about this. The Minnehaha County planning commission approved this 6-0 and the Sioux Falls planning commission denied this 5-2.

While I think that rich folks can spend their money however they choose, and build ludicrous things like airstrips, my main concern is how it will affect their neighbors and the city and county in general. Your property rights end when they inflict harm on your neighbors. This will be an interesting meeting to say the least.

I suggest Minnehaha & Lincoln Counties use the almost $50 million in Covid recovery funds for a mass vaccination site

According to NACO (National Association of Counties) The two counties are going to get almost $50 million between the two of them from the latest Covid recovery bill. That’s a hefty chunk of change.

Besides helping alleviate medical costs for the uninsured, I highly suggest starting in April they setup a drive thru massive Covid vaccination site where individuals and families can drive thru to get shots simply by hanging their arms out the window of their cars.

Other states and cities are doing this or at least prepping for it as a fast and efficient way to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.

Sometimes good ideas are just that simple.

They are also recruiting volunteers from any sector (besides nurses, doctors and pharmacists) that are qualified to give shots like animal vets.

The health systems, the community health clinic, and pharmacies could join forces and set up such a site(s).

Sadly, I suspect they will blow it on something else, you know like the state did with the first round of relief money giving it to hotels, developers, restaurants and go kart tracks.

I hope the counties get their poop in a group and spend the money wisely, but like most places run by right winger nutzos greed and selfishness will probably win the day.

Proposed Residential Airport

READ THE MINUTES

Yes, in a town where most people are middle to lower income some rich folks in town want their own airstrip next to their homes. The two petitioners are involved with a large construction company and the ethanol industry. The developer helping with the project is former City Councilor and current State Legislator, Greg Jamison.

While the proposal was a tie/stalemate with Minnehaha County voting for it and the City Planning Commission voting against, that means it goes to the Minnehaha CC and Sioux Falls city council for joint meeting approval on March 23.

A city official told me today that it may not make that date because the FAA is rumored to have already put a kabosh on it. We will see.

Who is paying for the $500K road screwup by the Minnehaha County Jail?

I joked with someone yesterday when asked what I thought about all the turmoil in Brandon (no police chief, no mayor) that it seemed the city is just on cruise control and about to pull a Ravnsborg and hit the ditch. I’m starting to wonder the same thing about the City of Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County.

Remember all the endless road construction on the road in front of the jail last year? The road construction was supposed to be in conjunction with the new jail, but apparently when all is said and done, when it rains the road causes water to run down into the jail’s door. The price tag to fix it? $500K. There also seems to be a debate about who should pay for this colossal f’up? County or City? The county says they over budgeted for the jail so they have the money to fix the screwup the city caused and they don’t want anybody with the city to get angry with them. While the city was responsible for the road, I am curious why the taxpayers should foot the bill? What about our anger? Shouldn’t the engineer and contractor fix their mistake at their expense? That’s how it works in the real world. I had a friend a few years ago that had a leaky roof after her roof was re-shingled. After wrangling back and forth with the contractor he agreed to fix it at his expense. That is how these things work. But it seems like these days when contractors screw up roofs, windows, siding or HVAC systems for city owned facilities, we the taxpayers have to foot the bill and our cruise control government just says ‘oh well’.

I’m starting to think the Mayor’s office, the City Attorney’s office, the HR department, the Health Department and the Public Works department seem to all be on cruise control these days. I think everyone went to work from home at the beginning of the pandemic, fell asleep and never woke up.

How is the new Minnehaha County Treasurer doing?

I haven’t heard anything concrete, but the rumor is since Swanson took over it is pure chaos. I guess she has been admitting to employees that she in over her head. This is what happens when you elect someone based on the letter behind their name instead of qualifications. Just look at our State Legislature who continues to write bills to enrich themselves and friends while taking freedoms from us.

Swanson had ZERO management experience and from what I am hearing, doesn’t really know what goes on in the treasurer’s office. I could have guessed this after reading her Facebook posts that were incomprehensible.

I guess the Auditor’s office isn’t much better, he isn’t fairing well either.

Folks, this is why one-party rule hasn’t worked for us.

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.

Is the South Dakota Legislature considering legislation to appoint county auditors and treasurers?

There was a rumor roaming around the halls of the Minnehaha County Administration building that a District 13 Republican legislator is considering sponsoring a law that would allow county commissioners to appoint their treasurers and auditors instead of electing them.

I know what their main arguments will be, they want to appoint someone with experience in the field. But I am no dummy, that is a ruse. They want to appoint people they can control, and since most legislators and county commissions are Republicans that means these appointees will be Republicans.

I will tell you why I am against this move;

• Keeping our county officials who run elections and collect taxes as elected officials means accountability to the taxpayers not the county commission.

• There is more transparency from elected officials versus bureaucrats.

• This is a power grab by the SD Republican Party since they control all the other bodies of power in local government they can now snatch up one party rule in these offices.

• Less compassion and understanding with tax collection. If the treasurer doesn’t have to answer to the citizens, they can pursue all means possible to collect taxes and inflict harm and penalties.

• The appointed auditor may also set policies forward that inflict voter suppression in certain districts.

This is a bad idea all the way around. There are simpler changes to the law to get more qualified elected officers. First you could make the positions non-partisan (I would say this for the county commissioners also). You could also require candidates to at least have education or experience in accounting or auditing before they could be allowed on the ballot.

If it makes it to the floor of the legislature, which I think it will, it will likely pass and give even more power to the super-majority authoritarian fascist radical right SD GOP.

I have also heard the recently appointed (non-elected) auditor who replaced Litz got quite the pay bump over what Litz was getting. There was also some shuffling of deck chairs between the treasurer’s and auditor’s office due to conflicts of interest. Another reason why appointing these officers is a bad idea.

This should never happen in the World’s greatest democracy

This was the scene about 4:30 yesterday at the election center in Downtown Sioux Falls (photos by Theresa Stehly) the line was several blocks long.

This of course could have been avoided a couple of different ways;

• Do what I have done for almost a decade, vote as soon as early voting starts. I believe I voted about a week after it started and there was about 3 people voting when I walked in. I have done this for a long time because I got tired of the musical precincts in every local election (something else that should end, another form of vote suppression).

• We should mail every registered voter a ballot, NOT an application, in at least state and national elections.

• We should have dozens of drop boxes available throughout the county at city and county properties (this of course would be possible if we didn’t have a political hack as the mayor of Sioux Falls who belongs to a party that promotes voter suppression).

What is crazy is that while we hand out $20 million dollar TIF’s and build $26 million dollar mural substrates, we can surely afford to make voting easier.

We live in a great country that allows us to choose our officials, but we make it really f’ing hard, even right here in South Dakota. I never thought I would see the day that people had to stand in this long of a line in Sioux Falls to vote. These pictures made me very sad.

****Note; if you have not mailed your ballot in yet DO NOT! I won’t make it to the election center by Tuesday. Drop it off in person or have a friend do it for you!