Entries Tagged 'Patrick Starr' ↓

Sioux Falls City Councilor Selberg should recuse himself from Bunker Ramp negotiations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These knuckleheads learn very little from past mistakes.

Top Down approach to affordable housing is a ruse

Ever since the Reagan administration introduced trickle-down economics governments across our country have experimented with it. It simply doesn’t work. The concept is that if you give tax breaks to the very top it somehow will help the ones below in better jobs and housing. In fact it has done the opposite, expanding the wealth gap.

The cat was let out of the bag during this interview yesterday that the TIF sponsored housing development in SW Brandon was depending on the tired old broken system of trickle-down;

Meanwhile, Karl Fulmer, the executive director of Affordable Housing Solutions in Sioux Falls, told DNN that these TIF-paid city developments are an effective way of addressing affordable housing.

“The benefit of just building more houses in the $250,000 to $400,000 range still provides the unit, and you can see the transition out of more affordable units from those who might make enough to buy homes in that price range”, Fulmer said.

In other words, these new houses in new “accessible housing” developments actually are not for those most struggling to find affordable housing the most. They are far those who bought smaller, older “starter houses” in town that cost less than $250,000 and are ready to move out of them.

The true affordable housing comes in those starter houses. And the more new “accessible” houses funded by city TIFs that are built, the more those older, smaller houses become available to lower income people.

[insert laughter]

If you speak with anyone in the real estate business they will tell you that these homes are usually owned by lower income people, families, retired folks or rental property, they are not the Jeffersons moving on up. And even if what he was saying was true, most of the homes being sold in this development will go to NEW homeowners not people looking for a step up. In fact, I have argued that many of the starter homes in the lower price range (mostly in the core of the city) have more square feet and bigger yards (and basements) than what these new homes will have.

A better approach would be addressing the housing crisis we have with the people who are having the crisis;

Pat Starr, who represents the northeast district, also told Dakota News Now on Monday that city government is continuing to “dig a hole” by continuing to dig literal holes to build homes partly funded in part by Tax Increment Financing (TIFs).

“We need to talk about the real causes of the housing issues in our city rather than trying to put a band-aid and build 65 houses, which is what this program will do.” Starr said.”

“It’s not the program I’m concerned as much about as as I am figuring out who we’re trying to help. And, it seems to me we have a wage issue more than we have a housing issue.”

We must be giving a helping hand to those who are at the bottom first to lift the other boats. The city has decades long programs in place including low interest Community Development loans and grants. We also need to upgrade the existing infrastructure in our core such as streets and lighting. We can do all this using existing money in our 2nd penny and Federal dollars.

The president of Sioux Metro Growth Alliance, which helps people with payment on houses in rural and suburban communities surrounding Sioux Falls, disagrees.

“If you look at wage growth around the country and in the Sioux Falls market in the last three years, it’s been astronomical,” Jesse Fonkert said.

While wages have increased in SF, inflation and housing costs have been beyond astronomical and have wiped away any wage increases.

But Fonkert does agree with Starr’s assessment that continuing these city-funded housing projects is not solving the affordable housing crisis.

“It’s a challenging situation, because if you spend too much money on government programming, you’ll have companies that will just hike their prices up,” Fonkert said.

Notice the Sioux Steel District and Cherapa II projects didn’t announce they were building hundreds of units of affordable housing after receiving a combined TIF payout of $50 million. Developers will always go where the money is, and that is how a FREE market system works. But tax rebates for parking ramps attached to condos isn’t fixing anything it’s just making that wealth gap larger.

Sioux Falls City Councilors Starr & Barranco reject the need for a property tax increase

During the City Council meeting last night (FF 1:25:00) Pat and David spoke out against the increase siting inflation hurting citizens;

“. . . we have families struggling with high inflation and I am NOT comfortable with a property tax increase,” David Barranco.

“We sit and talk about putting the city in good financial shape and it really doesn’t take that much from the citizens, it’s only a couple of bucks here, and it’s a Coke or a cup of coffee, but if look at the chart director Pritchett presented were talking about 11 to 12 million dollars over the next 10 years that the city will be ‘SHORT’. NO, it’s the taxpayers that will be short of this money,” Pat Starr.

Their colleagues on dais SAID nothing while voting to move to 2nd reading. Starr and Barranco voted NO.

UPDATE II: This is what happens when you have a cruise control, rubber stamp Sioux Falls City Council

UPDATE II: I guess the reason the city isn’t using Keysolutions EAP anymore is because Keysolutions dissolved that entity of the counseling services.

Remember when councilors Starr and Brekke were overruled by 6 of their fellow councilors over hiring a Felon for counseling services?

Well guess what, the city is out in the cold.

Like the Bunker Ramp, when you have out of touch city leadership approving ridiculous things, bad outcomes occur.

Watching councilor Starr’s testimony, you have to kind of scratch your head and wonder what the 6 rubber stampers and HR director were thinking? I will tell you. They don’t think. They turn on the cruise control and rubber stamp, cross fingers and hope for the best.

UPDATE: The city has been looking for an internal part-time counselor since November. While that is a good thing to have an internal person, they also need an outside service for confidentiality purposes. I would also think with around 1,300 employees they could find someone full-time internally.

Mayor TenHaken may have violated FCC Committee Member Rules

Mayor TenHaken currently is the chair of the FCC Intergovernmental Advisory Committee, as a committee member they have to follow certain rules and guidelines in that position. According to the FCC they are only allowed to provide opinions to the FCC Commission. I was unable to find the specific rule that prohibits committee members from making accusations or pronouncements about other fellow lawmakers, like a city councilor he serves with, but I do know that Federal boards have to meet a much higher bar when it comes to conduct. I would think if Councilor Brekke made an inquiry to the FCC about his accusations they would look into the rules he must follow as a committee member.

Here is the video of Brekke’s press conference. I like how she compared Paul to a singer of a rock band and the council is the musicians in the band;

Here is the dust up between Starr and Jensen;

Sioux Falls City Councilor Pat Starr suggests the Council takes their power back from City Hall

For Immediate Release

Contact: Councilor Pat Starr- Northeast District – (605) 321-9680 – pstarr@siouxfalls.org

“Today I am recommending the Sioux Falls City Council set aside remaining COVID – ARPA funds granted the City by the State and Federal  governments to be used in a program for assisting homeowners in improving the integrity of their homes.

“There are funds remaining in the ARPA program,” said Starr “and these should be set aside in a revolving fund available to our current homeowners and those to come in order to guarantee the stability of that housing market.”

The Mayor has not told our City Council or residents the amount of remaining funds and before they are wasted on potentially dubious projects, the remaining funds should be used as a homeowner TIF (Tax Increment Financing) type program for our hard hit neighborhoods” Starr added.

“The program could be set up as a revolving small loan fund, allowing future citizen homeowners to borrow funds to keep their homes and property in good condition and thus preventing their neighborhoods from becoming blighted.”

Starr concluded by saying “We have a great and growing city and will continue to be only if we help those who can least afford to make even small investments before their property falls into disrepair.”

Sioux Falls City Councilors Starr and Brekke present ordinances for more transparency

There is actually some positive legislation on the city council agenda that costs citizens $0 (so I’m sure there is plenty of money left over from 2021 to fund it 🙂 Pat and Janet are sponsoring two ordinances that address more transparency when it comes to keeping ordinances simple and transparent legal advice.

Item #44 is a clean up measure from state law;

(d) For the purposes of implementing SDCL 9-19-7.1, “substantially alters” shall mean
alterations to a proposed ordinance so significant as to amount to a new proposal from that
which was noticed and heard.

Basically this calls for ordinances to be easily understandable and if they get so complicated and are multi-subject they have to be broken up into separate ordinances (this is how it was explained to me).

Item #45 is self explanatory;

(k) The mayor or any member of the city council may request an official opinion of the city
attorney or a memorandum of legal advice that is not privileged pursuant to SDCL 1-25-2.
Such opinion or memorandum of legal advice shall be open to the public for inspection and
copying. The original opinion or memorandum of legal advice shall be filed with the city
clerk. An official opinion or a memorandum of legal advice shall not be issued on any
matter described in SDCL 1-25-2. The city attorney also reserves the right to deny a request
for an official opinion or a memorandum of legal advice request. Requests for an official
opinion shall not be unreasonably denied, and all denials shall be in writing stating the legal
or policy reason(s) for the denial and shall be filed with the city clerk.

This one will likely get a majority of council support. Basically they are asking the city attorney’s office to issue opinions, due it in a timely manner and make those opinions open to the public.

I guess several councilors have been irked that City Attorney Kooistra’s attitude towards councilors inquiries have been either ignored or denied. Kooistra seems to have one master and they are fed up with it.

As lead city attorney, they must not only serve the mayor and city departments in general but the city council.

I will defend Kooistra on one aspect of his behavior; he probably has denied opinions because he doesn’t know WTF he is talking about.

Sioux Falls Mayoral Candidate Zokaites gets cut off by Council Dictator Kiley


Besides the fact that the city council folded like a wet paper bag when it came to poorly researched and negotiated employee retention bonuses (or was it about inflation? Proving the absurdity of city employee vote bribes? Or trying to humiliate Brekke, you know, the councilor they are unethically hosting fundraisers for her opponent) there was some other fireworks at last night’s meeting.

During public input Mr. Science and All around Know-it-All Councilor Ricky Lee Kiley cut off David Zokaites because of his presentation about allowing Mayor Poops a Freebie 2-hour interview on KELO AM. Ironically, I saw the presentation before the meeting (posted below), and all David was going to say is that KELO and Poops did nothing wrong and it was permissible by the FCC. Yup, he was going to defend the Mayor, at least on the law, but NOT the ethics.

Kiley was within his rights to ask David to stop the presentation and David did the right thing by ending it. As a candidate for office you are NOT allowed to talk about that candidacy at the podium during public input, and that is where David crossed a line . . .  kind of. I’m just curious why the council’s COS and City Clerk did not catch the violation when they pre-approved David’s PPT before the meeting?

Ironically, Poops violates ethical standards of running for office almost daily. From using insider information on concerts at the Denty, to tweeting candidate commercials while running a meeting, posting endorsements (that are missing a PAID FOR STAMP) on his supposed personal FB page and using most media interviews to promote his candidacy while telling everyone he is not a politician (but plays one on TV).

While Kiley was right that David was in the wrong, I’m just wondering when Poops will start following the same campaign ethical standards? Not in our lifetime.

CITY OF SIOUX FALLS HUMAN RESOURCES DEPARTMENT HIRES A COUNSELING AGENCY THAT EMPLOYEES A CONVICTED FEDERAL CRIMINAL

The real fun stuff was at the beginning of the meeting when councilor Starr asked why the city is hiring Key Solutions whose director/counselor recently got charged with Federal crimes;

Tami Haug-Davis, 64, of Sioux Falls, was ordered to pay $15,000 restitution, serve one year of probation and serve 40 hours of community service for making a materially false statement regarding minutes of board meetings during a federal investigation of the Missouri Valley Crisis Center.

Our director of HR, Bill Dah’Toole said to the council last night, they got reassurance that she wouldn’t do bad things anymore. You know, like when we picked Lamont to complete the bunker ramp. Starr had made them aware in advance of her record, and instead trying to find another counseling agency, they chose to double-down on their very stupid decision, and 6 of the 8 councilors agreed . . . of course they would, because that is the true definition of absurdity. Starr and Brekke voted NO. Erickson of course phoned in her VOTE since she is in Pierre lobbying at her other job. Must be nice to double-dip and have a council gig as a side hustle. I can’t even remember the last time I have seen her in person at a council meeting?

LIGHTS OUT!

But my favorite part at the meeting last night was when someone leaned against the light switches and turned off the lights in the Chamber. I’m sure they were all thinking cyber attack.

Sioux Falls City Council’s Property Tax Refund proposal is Hypocritical


So Councilor Soehl is sponsoring an ordinance for the city’s portion of property taxes to be refunded to low income seniors (1st Reading, Item #50)



â–ª A Simplified Process: Those who qualify for state assessment freeze program will be automatically enrolled.
â–ª Must make application at the County for the State’s Assessment Freeze Program (existing process) by April 1 of the year preceding the year in which City will issue refund.
â–ª Refund will be equal to the municipal property tax, but may not exceed $500 annually.
â–ª City Council must renew program each year by resolution, and make an appropriation.
â–ª If approved, first refund payment issued on or before March 31.



While I certainly don’t have an issue with offering this program it surely wreaks with hypocrisy. While Councilor Starr, the co-sponsor, has consistently voted against property tax percentage increases, most of the council has not. They have also approved millions in TIFs for luxury condos, parking ramps and egg roll factories which raises the taxes on the rest of us (mine went up 7.5% from last year) and they have yet to present a doable plan to combat affordable housing in our city.

All of this comes of course just a couple months from a city council election. Hmmmmm.

I’m all for keeping taxes affordable for low income seniors, but you have to wonder if it is at the cost of the rest of us. I have been arguing for awhile that we are being extremely overtaxed in Sioux Falls. Somehow we have $10 million laying around for infrastructure of a private non-profit research facility (even though a well maintained road goes right up to the development and water and sewer probably run right underneath it) and a couple million for employee retention bonuses (without a vaccination mandate or incentive).

If the city council wants to help out with property tax relief, why don’t we start with the people who are paying the lion’s share? I think the city council needs to start cutting property taxes, for all of us, and eliminate TIF’s and tax rebate for the big guys all together.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls Zoo announces FREE admission on one of the coldest days of the year!

UPDATE: I guess there were 192 visitors on Monday with 19 of them with memberships. I believe 2 years ago when they offered a FREE day there was around 14,000 visitors. They need to do a FREE day once a month on a Saturday or Sunday.

While Councilor Pat Starr has been after the ZOO to offer FREE admission at least a couple of days of the year, like they did 2 years ago (you know since we subsidize them with our tax dollars and they will soon be asking to merge with another private non-profit) they decided to do it with very little notice or media coverage on a Monday after Christmas. They made the announcement only 24 hours in advance on Sunday, December 26 on their FB Page the FREE admission lasted all day on Monday from 10 AM-4:30 PM. Not sure who all got the press release, but the Argus made the announcement at 11 AM on Monday and KELO AM made the announcement at 12:30 PM on Monday.

While I will agree that even if it was cold, many of the animals are used to the cold weather and would have been out and active. Would not have Sunday been a better day with family in town and people off of work? And what about announcing it at least 5-10 days in advance? I guess I will have to give the Zoo credit for one thing, they at least keep their doors open all year unlike Great Bear that will close at the drop of the hat and not open until winter is half way over (what is up with this place? Who closes a winter sports facility because of the cold? Dumb.) I wonder if our new $4 million dollar ice ribbon will be closed for cold weather? 🙁

Hopefully Councilor Starr will inquire what the FREE attendance numbers were on Monday. My guess is about 17-23.