Entries Tagged 'Planning Commission' ↓

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

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, March 2, 2021

Informational Meeting • Mar 2 • 4 PM


• Downtown Sioux Falls (DTSF) and South Eastern Council of Governments (SECOG) General Updates

• Tuthill Park House Project Status Update

Regular Meeting • Mar 2 • 6 PM

Item #6, Sub Items 17 & 42 totaling $466K to the Washington Pavilion in the form of boiler upgrades and cornice design. Ironically I just brought this up 2 weeks ago at the last city council meeting. While we throw money at the Pavilion like it is confetti we debate for months about the funding of a 100 year old institution. As for the cornice design costs, $250k is an atrocious amount of money to spend on design and further proof of the foolish ways the city spends its money. The rumor going around is the roof replacement will cost us $4 million.

Sub Item #20, Provide consultation and guidance in the areas of cultural
work, organizational alignment and strategy development Fees are established on a per project basis, $375/per hour fee, Dr. Trish Holliday. I’m guessing this contract is with this HR consulting company;

Trish is founding partner with Lucinda Kenning of the HR consulting company, Holliday│Kenning. Both partners are HR executives in the industry and provide leaders in the private and public sectors with an organizational playbook that focuses on growing leaders and driving performance. The Holliday│Kenning framework offers organizations and its leaders a Playbook with five distinct approaches (plays) that are critical for a winning workplace that attracts and retains top talent and drives cultural transformation.

While we know the city hires consultants, I find it troubling we have to hire a cultural HR consultant from Tennessee after Mayor TenHaken convinced the city council we needed a full-time Director of Culture. So what is her job? Rana DeBoer gets paid $117K a year to hire outside consultants to tell her what to do?

Item #34 & 43, 2nd Reading: AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, ESTABLISHING THE TAX INCREMENT REVENUES TO BE COLLECTED AND AUTHORIZING THE PAYMENT OF TAX INCREMENT REVENUES TO SIOUX FALLS DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION, INC., IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENT FOR TAX INCREMENTAL DISTRICT NO. TWENTY-THREE, CITY OF SIOUX FALLS. I have no doubt that this will pass the council Tuesday night with at least 6 votes. I think there will be an attempt at amending the $30 million slush fund portion of it, but even if the amendment passes it will just be some kind of weak oversight commission. I have no doubt in my mind passing this TIF will send a very dangerous economic precedent in our city.

Item #41, 1st Reading: AN EMERGENCY ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, TO REQUIRE FACE COVERING IN AN INDOOR PUBLIC PLACE WHERE 6-FOOT SOCIAL DISTANCING CANNOT BE ACHIEVED. The city council is looking to extend the mask mandate. It will be interesting to see if this passes in 2nd reading.

Item #42, 1st Reading: AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, REPEALING ORDINANCE NO. 31-20 AUTHORIZING INTERIM REVISIONS TO CHAPTER 57 OF THE CODE OF ORDINANCES OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, PERTAINING TO THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19). This is a repeal of the pointless emergency ordinance that required homeowners to bring their garbage cans to curbside for pickup. Of course, when this went into place it was about the safety of the garbage hauler workers, which I agree with, but the haulers never passed the labor cost savings onto the customers and many customers (mostly senior) have been complaining about hauling there cans to the curbside and getting NO discount to do so. I have no doubt this will pass 2nd reading, but the discussion or debate from the industry should be interesting, I’m sure they will respond with rate hikes, which furthers my argument that we need public garbage service.

Planning Commission • Mar 3 • 6 PM

Item 2 I, Initial Development Plan Amendment for Augustana, While no street closures are involved with the PUD yet, Augustana has been wanting to close Grange at 33rd so they can use the land as part of the campus.

Item 5 D, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, AMENDING THE CODE OF ORDINANCES OF THE CITY BY AMENDING CHAPTER 160: ZONING BY ADDING SUBCHAPTER ORIGINAL ART MURALS AND AMENDING SECTIONS 160.005 AND 160.578. It seems the city is finally prepared to except mural art on businesses. Someone must have told city hall that it is 2021 and not 1951. All joking aside, this is good and long overdue.

Sioux Falls Media ignores the negative effects of TIF 23

As I have said in the past, I have NO doubt that this TIF will pass on March 2 when it comes before the city council. Sure a couple of them will put an amendment in there about ‘getting reports’ on how the $30 million dollar slush fund is being spent, but this is hardly the transparency that should be given. TIF 23 is what it is, corporate socialism funded by the taxpayers in higher taxes, crime and less affordable housing.

While the local media has done a handful of stories about the TIF, they basically just copy the press releases from the Development Foundation and call it good.

What they have not discussed is the very negative effects this TIF will have on our community. They also have NOT told us about the over $50 million the state, city and county taxpayers have already put into this park that really wasn’t needed, and even if you could prove it was, it could easily be propped up by private investment, you know that silly notion that we live in a FREE enterprise capitalist society.

Here are some issues the media could look into;

No studies. There is yet to be a comprehensive independent study on the economic impact of TIFs in Sioux Falls and South Dakota. In other parts of the country where these studies have been done, usually by university economic departments, they have shown little to NO impact on the overall economy. I think the developers in Sioux Falls have run their own numbers privately and probably came up with the same conclusion, this is why you will never get a honest evaluation from them.

Your taxes will go up significantly. This is also a dirty little secret. When the valuation of Flopdation Park’s properties go up, their property taxes go up, but they get those payments back in the form of a TIF (rebate) to pay for upgrades to infrastructure that benefits these private businesses. That valuation in taxes has to be made up with higher taxes on the rest of us. As for the school district, the state coffers (sales tax revenue) will have to make up that shortfall. In other words much higher taxes for us that actually decrease our infrastructure services. It’s corporate welfare on the highest level.

Crime will increase, affordable housing will decrease. Sioux Falls has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. Where will the thousands of workers needed to work at these new facilities come from? Well they will have to be brought in. This is nothing more than growth for growth’s sake that will increase crime, public education costs and decrease our inventory of housing. The only people benefitting will be the banksters and developers while the rest of us will have to pay to clean up the mess.

Profits will not impact our local economy. A lot these businesses are international and national companies that will send their profits out of the community while paying NO state income taxes, no property taxes (TIF) and very little to NO Federal income taxes.

Low wage jobs. There have been numerous studies that show that large industries like this actually drive wages down in communities. This is the scariest part because as I have said above, it will increase our costs for crime prevention and public education.

They don’t need the incentive. The most egregious part of this TIF is that it really isn’t needed. As I pointed out on Tuesday night, this is most baffling part. We are growing business in Sioux Falls at a breakneck speed, if anything, we need to cool our jets a bit. With record breaking building permit numbers and our lack of affordable housing, I just see incentivizing low wage businesses to come here as counter productive and compounding our problems. We are already years behind on infrastructure upgrades to the core of our city (this is where we should be investing the money). On planning preview a couple of days ago a planning employee said a developer told them there is already a 5 week waiting period in getting into a new apartment in Sioux Falls and they have already broke building permit records from the year before in January. We don’t need to incentivize businesses that already want to come here. We also need to help local business thrive, another benefit to cleaning up our core.

I’m hoping our local media wakes up and actually tells the public about TIF 23 and the massive negative repercussions this TIF will have on Sioux Falls and the region because 5 years from now when your taxes have doubled, the core is crumbling and crime is through the roof, all roads will lead to TIF 23.

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.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls Planning Commission passes TIF #23, 4-0

UPDATE: There has been some discussion today with my local government nerds on why the Planning Commission has 9 members but they rarely all show up. In fact, one member’s term was up last April and have not been replaced yet. In the last meeting only 4 members voted throughout the meeting even though 5 were present (the chair wasn’t voting) and over the past year it seems like only 5 members have been voting on things. Ideally you would say that you can only conduct business with a Quorum, 5 or more members, so what does it mean if only 4 votes. Robert’s Rules says this;

64. A Quorum of an assembly is such a number as must be present in order that business can be legally transacted. The quorum refers to the number present, not to the number voting. The quorum of a mass meeting is the number present at the time, as they constitute the membership at that time. The quorum of a body of delegates, unless the by-laws provide for a smaller quorum, is a majority of the number enrolled as attending the convention, not those appointed. The quorum of any other deliberative assembly with an enrolled membership (unless the by-laws provide for a smaller quorum) is a majority of all the members. In the case, however, of a society, like many religious ones, where there are no annual dues, and where membership is for life (unless it is transferred or the names are struck from the roll by a vote of the society) the register of members is not reliable as a list of the bona fide members of the society, and in many such societies it would be impossible to have present at a business meeting a majority of those enrolled as members. Where such societies have no by-law establishing a quorum, the quorum consists of those who attend the meeting, provided it is either a stated meeting or one that has been properly called.

So while having only 4 members vote out of a possible 9 is unfortunate, apparently it is legal, but I am still wondering why this body can’t get 9 people, even on the phone, together? Another sloppy move by this administration.

FF: 23:30

This occurred on Wednesday night and I forgot to attend for public input. Nobody else from the public showed up to speak against or for the TIF. This is unfortunate because it will literally raise property taxes on us $94 million over the next 15-20 years with $30 million of that as an ‘incentive’ slush fund. It is probably one of the most ludicrous TIFs I have ever seen.

What made it even more strange was there was very little discussion from the commission except that it was ‘good’. And besides the presentation from a planning department staffer, the representative from Development Foundation also said very little. It was pretty obvious this was pre-determined by the commission.

The other part about using $30 million of this for ‘business’ incentives also surprises me based purely on economics and development in Sioux Falls. Year after Year we are growing and year after year we are crushing building permit records. In fact we have a housing shortage and can’t keep up. So why do we have to ‘incentivize’ a business to come hereI recently saw that Tessiers (a South Dakota company from Mitchell) is building a new facility at Flopdation Park. Did they get any deals? Did they ask for any? Not sure, but I liked this quote from them;

“We thought that Foundation Park location would be ideal for us as we do business in the places on the I-90 and I-29 corridor,” said Gopal Vyas, who recently retired and was board chairman when the deal was done.

“Also it is easily accessible for our team members from Mitchell to commute when needed. It also is very convenient for our team members flying from Minnesota or driving on I-90 coming west.”

That is what often puzzles me when they ask for these TIFs, are they even needed to bring business here?

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.

What’s going on with the Sioux Steel TIF in Downtown Sioux Falls?

Speaking of ‘Tifilicious’ while our city council is drooling over another ridiculous $94 million dollar tax rebate slush fund to dangle carrots at Asian investors, while we have gotten the shaft on the Midco Aquatic Center windows (still waiting to hear the final on that) and the failed HVAC at the City Center (haven’t heard a peep about that either) or the $26 million dollar bunker ramp to nowhere with a foundation that could hold an aircraft carrier (still no clue how that lawsuit is going either) we have another ‘Tifilicious’ project kind of just flopping in the wind; Sioux Steel project.

As we learned last year due to Covid, the project was delayed and had to be revamped. Understandable. My suspicion is if this project ever does get going again, it will be mostly apartments since Covid has kind of made office space and hotels not a very good investment. But I am wondering 1) why the original TIF hasn’t been rescinded (especially with the South Korean Egg Roll factory TIF on the horizon) and what’s going on with it?

Usually if construction projects are going to break ground in late spring or early summer, the deal is done by February, but we have not heard a peep. I think if the city council doesn’t hear the revamped plans by Feb 1st they need to rescind the original TIF immediately. I have a feeling we won’t see any groundbreaking in 2021 for this project. Maybe they should look into building a Canadian frozen burrito factory on the land, that’s a sure fire way to get a TIF!

Breaking Down proposed Sioux Falls TIF 23

During public input today at the Sioux Falls City Council informational meeting (FF: 1:39:00) I touched on the morality and ethics of tax incentives and rebates for citizens and local contractors and business owners opposed to International Companies. What I did not touch on is what this TIF is really about, a select group of investors making a buttload of money while using the city as collateral.

Before reading anymore, I encourage you to first watch the presentation of TIF 23 than consider what I think I saw;

• The real beneficiary of the TIF would be the Development Foundation, not the businesses coming in or the citizens of the city.

• Basically the DF is using the TIF as a slush fund (for about 15 years) to make the land more appealing by spending the money on upgrades and infrastructure instead of putting it back into the existing city infrastructure for street improvements, public education or judicial/public safety expenses. In other words they are robbing from the other governmental entities (that benefit us all with their services) to build an industrial park we never needed to begin with (seriously folks, it was much better as farmland).

• Do you think this slush fund will just sit in a metal box down at the executive offices of the Foundation? Nope, now we bring in the banksters and bond salesmen to get their cut while they use the city (taxpayers) as collateral if any of these deals fall thru.

I ask a simple question; If you had two choices as the Mayor and City Council where you could spend $94 million in tax incentives/rebates over the next 15 years? Would you . . .

• Spend it on upgrading existing infrastructure in our city which would improve neighborhoods, reduce crime, create much needed affordable housing, employ local contractors and enrich local small multi-housing property owners or would you . . .

• Spend it on building NEW infrastructure (that we will eventually have to maintain) that will house International and National businesses (which pay substandard wages and little in local taxes while shipping profits overseas) attracting more people to our city who will be looking for housing, public education and creating more social headaches.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have an issue with attracting good employers to our city, but why do we always have to dangle the TIF carrot? If our economy was truly strong in Sioux Falls (I think a certain sector of it is) why would we have to offer property tax breaks? If a business truly has a good business model, they should have no problem paying for land upgrades, infrastructure upgrades, living wages and 100 percent of their property taxes on day one. Isn’t that what Free Enterprise and Capitalism is founded on? Not to sound like Ayn Rand, but Cheese & Rice!

But like I said, TIF 23 isn’t about investing in any of these things it is clearly about a handful of bloodsuckers who want to scrape up the fat drippings from the bottom of the broiler pan while our council and city administration is either too blind, too dumb* or too paid off to see it.

*During the Q & A session Councilor Marshall Selberg (who was actually awake for a meeting for once) asked if he could build a Burger King out there. Remember, Marshall is NOT a self-employed piano teacher, he has worked in commercial real estate for a very long time. After asking his question of the DF director, Bob responded, “It’s an industrial park, you can’t build a Burger King out there.” Think about that the next time you hire Marsh as your realtor. Whopper’s are on me!!!!

UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Council Informational Meeting Agenda, Jan 26, 2021; Millions in infrastructure and tax rebate giveaways to Corporate America

UPDATE: The rumor swirling around is that this TIF could have a value of over $91 million+ and a certain bank with a certain councilor working at this bank wants to finance projects at Flopdation Park with the caveat that this TIF can be used as collateral. So guess who is on the hook if the Development Foundation defaults . . . you guessed it. I’m hearing that many of the councilors are very uncomfortable with the TIF and they may have the 5 votes to kill it and send it back to the drawing table. Of course this is all speculation until we hear more tomorrow, stay tuned, they are going to have to clean out Carnegie with skid steers after this meeting.

To say I was a little disgusted when reading the agenda of the meeting is an understatement. Of course I knew this was coming;

• TIF 23 – Foundation Park North Update by Bob Mundt, President, Sioux Falls Development Foundation; and Jeff Eckhoff, Director of Planning and Development Services (No supporting documents in SIRE)

• Marion Road Improvements at Foundation Park by Mark Cotter, Director of Public Works (there are supporting documents and maps in SIRE)

The State, County and City has already given millions towards Foundation Park in infrastructure, and we are set to give more with the road improvements. I can’t imagine if we spent the same amount of money on our core, fixing up the infrastructure we already own?

But that is the least of our problems. The city is proposing for the first time an open-ended TIF. While I am opposed to millions in tax rebates to even local developers, I am even more weary of international companies that pay little to no Federal taxes and make billions paying less than a living wage. But what makes this TIF even more egregious is that it will give the Development Foundation carte blanche to have an open ended TIF that can use for however long they want to. One of the reasons the docs are not yet posted on SIRE is because this will be the largest scam in property taxes in the history of our city. Large corporations will come into Foundation Park, pay little in property taxes, little in Federal income taxes, pay low wages and send all the profits straight out of town while us worker bees pick up the slack in higher property taxes and infrastructure costs.

In other words, for the hardworking folks in Sioux Falls like you and me, IT’S A BAD DEAL!

Anybody promoting this on Tuesday and tells you this is a good thing for our community is FULL OF SH!T!

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.