Entries Tagged 'Rapid City' ↓

Rep. Goodwin calls out voter suppression in upcoming Rapid City School Bond Election

Some of this stuff sounds familiar;

For those who do decide to fight the elements and go vote, they could be disappointed upon arriving at the school to find that their voting location has been moved. There is a good possibility under this scenario for them to say, “Heck with it,” and go home, thus not casting their vote.

You mean like only having super precincts in only the Southern part of the District?

Now, you’ve noticed that I haven’t taken a stand on whether or not we should vote for the $180 million, (actually $280 million).

Another thing that sounds familiar, hiding the ‘interest’ from voters.

Well, that’s not my point. What I’m attempting to do is hit home that in the year 2020, on said date, Feb. 25, the Rapid City schools are making a cold (no pun intended), calculated strike to stop as many voters as possible from showing up at the polls to vote, thus passing the $280 million dollar bond issue. There, I said it!

And you better be prepared for Soviet level returns. Some will be wondering if a school bond passed or if Putin just got elected as president of Rapid City.

I have heard several rumors that certain school officials from the SFSD have quietly ‘consulted’ the RCSD on how to conduct their election. I of course have no proof of this, because as we have seen, both districts operate in complete secrecy. But it would NOT surprise me, even if officials from the RCSD did not sit down with SFSD officials, that it is pretty easy to take a page from Sioux Falls by watching how it played out here.

While I still believe the SFSD bond would have passed anyway, I think some of the tricks they played along the way skewed the poll numbers (we still haven’t been able to access the ballots to count them ourselves, if they even still exist). I highly suggest RC voters demand a fair election, in all precincts, on a NICE day. If they don’t and it gets to a Soviet level, I also suggest you ask to recount the votes yourself.

Rapid City tries to push for voter suppression, foiled for now

As we all know, in Sioux Falls, this has already occurred due to a quiet decision by the school board a few years ago. They tried to do it in RC and got caught;

In February 2019, Rapid City police chief Karl Jegeris and School Superintendent Dr. Lori Simon met privately with Pennington County’s new Auditor, Cindy Mohler, and directed her to find new polling places for the ten voting precincts that currently use public schools. The elected School Board members were never informed or consulted as to this change of policy, learning about it eight months later when it—along with all elements of this story—was revealed in greater detail by the Rapid City Journalin its November 3 and November 19 editions.

As you know in Sioux Falls, not only have they eliminated polling places at most schools, they went to super precincts where they pretty much eliminated the entire Northern part of the city for the $300 school bond issue. So here is a little tidbit of interest;

No school shootings or violent incidents in connection with a polling place anywhere in America have been documented.

Yet we are often told this is about the ‘safety’ of the ‘children’. Hogwash! This has been about voter suppression. When you don’t have a precinct in the entire Northern part of your voting district, that speaks volumes of the intent, but they fall back on the excuse ‘What about the kids?’

Most Rapid City voters drive to the polls, and roughly one-third vote early at the Auditor’s office. Some low-income people lack transportation, and walk to the polls or depend on a ride to get there. If a large percentage of voters are suddenly re-directed to a new, less accessible polling place, there is the fear that a lower turnout will result.

And that is what has happened. The SFSD has devised a way to get the people who can afford a property tax increase to the polls and eliminating those who may be opposed. It’s a brilliant scheme. It also gives them the excuse to hand count ballots as a cost savings measure and instead of using mostly volunteers they used employees who work in the finance office. But RC said, no way!

At two Rapid City School Board meetings in November, citizens from across the political spectrum, myself among them, pleaded with the board to allow voting to continue at the schools. Rep. Tina Mullally (R-Rapid City), described the proposed change as voter suppression. Her colleague, Rep. Tony Randolph (R-Rapid City), commented on the negative “optics” of removing voting from the schools at the same time that a $189 million bond issue (the largest per capita school bond issue in South Dakota history) is coming before local voters. Several speakers pointed out that, at a time when schools are teaching less “civics” and students are graduating without a strong understanding of government and democracy, watching adults come to their schools to exercise their franchise can be a positive experience. Ramona Herrington, a local Native American activist, commented that she could not believe that she was on the same side of the issue as the ultraconservative Citizens for Liberty.

This outpouring of support led board members to adopt a resolution sponsored by Curt Pochardt in support of leaving polling places in the schools.

I have often said it is a sad time in our democracy when we have to constantly sneak around to figure out what our elected officials are up to behind closed doors. Voting rights are the highest level of an open and transparent government. Rapid City dodged a bullet – for now. It looks like they are going to try to do a reach around with the County Commission. I feel that the ones pushing for a school bond in RC saw the immense opportunity to only get those they wanted voting for the bond to the polls. They saw the soviet like election results in Sioux Falls and how they pulled it off. I guess the other school districts in South Dakota do learn things from us 🙁

West River math VS. East River math

So this is an interesting story;

RCSD – $250m – $20/month increase in property taxes on every $100,000 of value  =  $240 yr
Morrison/Vik/Maher MATH:
SFSD – $190m – $2/month increase in property taxes on $100,000  =  $24 yr
So which finance director is telling the truth?
I do know that the SFSD rearranged their capital outlay levees, but the disparity is strange. I also wonder if they plan to pay off the bonds a lot faster in RC?

Cleveland Abbott presentation at Journey Museum, Rapid City, 2/8/19

We should have negotiated RR quiet zones Downtown

Rapid City is showing they have a lot more vision than Sioux Falls by proposing quiet zones Downtown;

The city’s railroad quiet zone task force will meet next week to discuss funding for the project. A final report is expected within the next two months.

City officials will need to file a notice of intent with the Federal Railroad Administration and railroad companies once a quiet zone option is approved.

Harrington said Rapid City would be the first town or city in the state to implement a railroad quiet zone policy should it move forward.

As I have stated numerous times, the RR Redevelopment Project in DTSF was one of the worst negotiated projects in the history of the city. Besides the fact that we probably bought land from the RR that we probably already owned (Federal easements) we did nothing to limit train traffic DT or at least limit the noise. Of the millions we handed over to the RR for basically $62 a square foot dirty land, we didn’t have the vision to set aside some money to create quiet zones downtown. This SHOULD have been a part of the deal.

DECIBAL PROBLEM STILL OCCURRING DOWNTOWN

I was surprised to see the problems are still around;

Neitzert said he may wait to see if the ICON has any issues throughout the summer and in the meantime, slow the tempo on composing a new ordinance, but still thinks downtown maybe eventually need to change its key.

“It does seem like downtown needs something different, because the noise ordinance is written really well for other areas that aren’t mixed use, neighborhoods that are all residential,” Neitzert said. “But again the question is, what is the something?”

Ironically its airplanes, trains and first responders that cause the most noise, the decibel level does need to change downtown, funny how this stuff gets killed without little explanation. Kind of like moving public input without an informal public meeting about it. I had the opportunity to go inside one of the bigger condos in the building. While this one did not have a west side patio, it did have several west side windows. I was there for about an hour and the only sound I could hear from outside was a faint police car siren that was driving past the coliseum, but it was so faint you would not even notice it. I’m thinking having the patios on the west side are what may be causing some of the noise issues. My suggestion? Close you patio door.

Rapid City, be careful what you wish for

Rapid City just approved spending $130 million on a new Events Center. While I don’t live in RC, I can’t speak for what the people there want, but if they truly want it, who am I to tell them no. But as a person who went through this very dubious process in our city, a few words of advice;

Go with the flat siding, no matter what the architect and engineer may say. Trust me on this one.

Consider NOT using a CMAR (Construction Manager at Risk) I would keep the process as open as possible.

Use a local contractor that you can trust.

Make sure you have plenty of parking.

Make sure profits go towards paying down the bonds and not into some mysterious slush fund.

Avoid sponsorships from mega hospital complexes and credit card companies.

Make sure you build it big enough.

Make sure your fire department has a fire truck that can reach the top.

And lastly, when the mayor or the city council tells you to ‘just trust them’ do the opposite and question their intentions.

Not sure why RC residents want to double their per capita debt (or more) but have it, just remember, there will be less headaches if you keep the process open and transparent.

Rapid City Mayor trying to sell his citizens on an empty promise

Rapid City residents are voting on a new Civic Center today, I have a feeling it will fail, but honestly I haven’t seen any polling so who knows.

But I really got a kick out of what mayor Allender said yesterday;

“Our economy can only grow with outside money, and that’s a significant source of outside money. Communities today also need to make sure they are paying attention to the quality of life issues. Large employers know this. And that is that they have trouble keeping, retaining and attracting young employee talent. That is only done through the amenities that the city has to offer,” Allender said.

Yeah, that was the song and dance we heard from our former mayor about the Denty. While it has been popular and operating well, it hasn’t made a dent in our economy. In fact I would argue it has been a vacuum. Since it’s inception our sales tax revenue has been down and the BID room tax has declined. Why? Well most of the revenue generated from the Denty goes to SMG, promoters and artists (out of town) while the rest of us foot the mortgage which gets ZERO offset from revenue.

I encourage RC voters to vote it down and don’t believe the hype. It will never ever pay for itself in NEW growth.

What are Sioux Falls taxpayers paying in legal fees? Good question.

As you know, the Argus Leader is embroiled in a Supreme Court case with the city over a secret settlement involving the siding on the Events Center. The city has also been involved with class action suits in recent years which involved millions in settlements, but for some reason, we as taxpayers have no idea how much the city spends on these lawsuits, yet in Rapid City, they not only give us the numbers, they even conclude they may lose the case.

Over that time, the city has spent $374,200 on legal fees. Now, after deciding to appeal a Jan. 27 ruling by a Pennington County jury that absolved Big Sky LLC of any responsibility for the roads, the city expects to sink another $10,000 to $20,000 into a legal battle with an uncertain outcome against a development company that its owner says has no money.

And I think this is a good comparison. Rapid City is a SD city, and the second largest in the State. So why do they see no problem and no legal ramifications with offering this information to their fine citizens, but for some reason we won’t do it in Sioux Falls?

Can you imagine if this Mural was painted in Sioux Falls?

This mural was recently painted in Arts Alley in Rapid City.

If Sioux Falls had an ‘Arts Alley’ how do you think locals would have reacted?

It’s actually pretty nicely done.

2016 Budget comparisons between Sioux Falls & Rapid City

This is strictly informational. I noticed that Rapid City approved their 2016 budget the other night, so I decided to crunch a few numbers.

I will admit, I would much rather live in SF then RC, but I have friends that live in RC and they love it. They say there is far more recreational opportunities. I still think quality of life is probably better in SF, but that is a matter of opinion.

Now for the numbers;

Sioux Falls proposed 2016 budget; $471 Million, 170K residents, $2,770 per person.

Rapid City’s implemented 2016 budget; $156 Million, 72K residents, $2,167 per person.

I have no doubt there will be some cutting and shuffling going on with the SF budget, but I doubt it will sway to far from the proposed amount.