Entries Tagged 'Rich Merkouris' ↓

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.

Sioux Falls Homeless Task Force takes public input

Here are some takeaways from last night’s meeting (it only took 12 hours this time to get the video up, still don’t know why they don’t live stream);

• Several complaints about the mismanagement of Dudley House, the way they are treating clients, not taking care of situations, working with clients, interviewing them, etc.

• The public (city, county) is not properly funding the management of homelessness and there needs to be more police foot patrols.

• Panhandlers have taken over the neighborhood (Before the signs went up about not giving to panhandlers, my SIGN idea was to make it clear that GIVING to panhandlers out of the window of your vehicle while in traffic is ILLEGAL. There is NO purpose in giving violations or shaming panhandlers, it won’t stop them from asking, not to mention they have a 1st Amendment right to ask for money. The solution is making it clear to motorists that you can be fined for obstructing traffic. The only way we can get panhandling under control is shutting off the tap, that means cracking down on the contributors).

• The Dudley house is in a bad location. I suggested when they picked this location that there is plenty of space just north of the jail. Not only would it be close to law enforcement it would be within a few blocks of Falls Community Health and The Link. The Dudley house needs to close its current location and move.

• The 9th Street Alley that runs along the south side of the Dudley needs to be closed and fenced off.

• The clients need to participate in their recovery.

While nobody brought this up during the meeting, I know that there is a lack of transitional housing in Sioux Falls. The legislative/policy body of the city, the council, could write ordinances that require developers to provide so many efficiency, felon friendly, transitional units for every regular unit they build. They could also require rent control in these units that only have their rent increased with inflation.

City of Sioux Falls Homeless Task Force lacks neighborhood representation

Besides the fact that there was NO public call for membership to this group they have NO one from the neighborhood (residents or business owners) serving the on the group.

While we could certainly wait to see what this group accomplishes, it’s hard for me to have much confidence when the selection of the task force was done in secret and lacking transparency.

While some of the members of the board do work in affordable housing and social work, I’m not sure athletes, realtors and directors of business organizations really have a grasp of what is going on in this neighborhood. Where is the director of one of the homeless shelters like the Mission or Dudley house on the board? Or a rep from the Banquet? What about a pastor or deacon? A business owner or homeowner in this neighborhood would have been an excellent addition to the group. It is pretty much a group of bureaucrats that are going to craft policies that uphold the bureaucracy instead of fixing the problem.

The SFPD really needs a group of officers dedicated to outreach to the homeless. That would be a great first step. Instead of reacting to the problem, a proactive approach.

I live in the Nelson Park neighborhood, and to be quite honest with you I have never seen so many homeless people before, the problem has exploded.

I do wish them luck and I want to thank Chair Merkouris for wanting to take this on. I also think it is wonderful the meetings will be open to the public, and WILL be recored. Nothing can be accomplished in the dark.

UPDATE: Mayor TenHaken’s PAC dumps $17,500 into Dr. Sarah Cole’s Campaign

Bought and paid for.

That was my argument all along with Cole’s candidacy. A person who hasn’t bothered to vote in a local election the entire time she has lived here (another story our incredibly inept local media never touched). It’s one thing for the mayor to endorse a candidate running against an incumbent, it’s whole other ball of wax to dump this amount of money (after the final financial disclosure before the election) towards the challenger.

You have to be one major bitter, vengeful, vindictive person to go above and beyond to eliminate an incumbent, who ironically voted for almost 99% of the mayor’s policies.

Notice how the listing of the PAC is also improper (it should be Next Generation Leadership PAC). It is also concerning that the PAC itself has yet to file their July financial report. Yesterday at 5 PM was the deadline.

You will also notice that Cole spent almost $23K on advertising and over $5k on consulting. Ironically, Rich Merkouris almost spent the exact same amount on advertising. Cole never voted in a municipal election before. She never raised her own campaign funds and it appears she had little to do with running the campaign.

UPDATE: I did find the PAC’s filings on the SOS website. The original filing was in May and an amended one in June. It is pretty clear that the entities and individuals who gave to the PAC knew exactly where the money was going;

Sioux Falls City Councilor Merkouris proposing a Homeless Task Force

At the Tuesday’s Informational meeting during open discussion councilor Rich Merkouris proposed a resolution to form a Homeless Task force that focuses on east 8th street downtown.

This of course is long overdue and I applaud Rich for taking the initiative to tackle this at his 3rd meeting.

One of his fellow new councilors, Sarah Cole decided to skip her 3rd and 4th meeting of the council. Of course, councilors only have to attend one meeting a month, but it doesn’t look real good skipping your 3rd and 4th meeting after just being newly elected and not even phoning it in. I do understand she is a medical doctor and emergencies do happen . . . one of the reasons I didn’t think she had the time to dedicate to the job. Nothing against her personally or her profession, I just don’t think they work well together.

*Sorry I was out this past week on a little R & R, so I am a little late on this stuff.

Sioux Falls City Council Candidate Merkouris doesn’t believe our Police should follow National Standards

During the council debate on Thursday night Janet Brekke said she will work with Chief Thum to try to implement some national standards for the police. In her recent mailer she said;

• Secure a stable Police Department training budget so our officers have the latest instruction available.

• Support Chief Thum’s 3 new initiatives to engage young people so they don’t become offenders.

• Strengthen relationships between patrol officers and neighborhoods.

Apparently this really irritated candidate Merkouris who went on this rant;

While I would partially agree you don’t take all National standards and hope they work in Sioux Falls, you still have to look at what could work. I was very surprised how agitated he got over it, considering the problems we are having with our police and other city employees. There have been 4 arrests over the past couple of months of city employees. Two for abuse and two for child porn.

There was also some other ‘dog whistles’ on other candidates postcards;

David Barranco said this;

I have two strong boys . . .

and continued on the back;

We must not assume someone who shares our values will prevail on April 12.

You can take that how you want to, but I think Barranco is painting his opponent as someone who lacks values and it is a low blow.

Sarah Cole also made some false claims on her latest mailer;

I am not a politician.

I hate to break it to you Sarah, but when you run for office you become a politician. As a recent female business leader said to me when TenHaken made the same claim, “He is extremely tone deaf.”

Politician; a person who is professionally involved in politics, especially as a holder of or a candidate for an elected office.

Sarah continues her rant;

The people of Sioux Falls deserve a city councilor that will serve with integrity and respect for others. I won’t play games or pick petty fights.

The timing of this statement after TenHaken tried to intimidate Brekke is interesting to say the least especially coming from a POLITICIAN who has never voted in a single city or school board election in the community she wants to serve.

I think on Tuesday, your choice is very clear; Reistroffer, Brekke, Pam Cole and Cody Ingle.

Sioux Falls City Council Candidate Merkouris will not protect your right to Public Input

The Sioux Falls Election is bringing out the best of the worst, including this endorsement of taking away citizen rights by City Council candidate and preacher Rich Merkouris was expressing in 2018. 36 Citizens who gave impassioned Public Input on June 12th, 2018 were wrong? They are according to Marshall Selberg and Rick Kiley. The Mayor and 4 Councilors are saying “Stay away from our meetings, quit interfering!” We’d like to say, “Good Bye!” The Mayor is being encouraged to shove our civil rights up our backsides by the TenHaken best friend, Rich Merkouris. The City Council candidate Merkouris who doesn’t want audits of the millions of dollars he has received from the city coffers? Yup.

Shareholder vs. Stakeholder Government

While listening to Sioux Falls Central District City Council Candidate Emmett Reistroffer speak yesterday (for well over an hour) he brought up a recent candidate forum he was at with Councilor Brekke where she brought up the concept of Shareholder vs. Stakeholder government. He sang the praises of the simple concept. I found it intriguing, as she further described it today on FORUM.

I will confess I haven’t had a phone conversation or email exchange with Janet in months (she is fantastic to talk to about strategic planning and is probably one of the most intelligent city councilors we have ever had) and I had NO idea she was pitching this idea for her campaign.

It’s very simple, in local governments you have two kinds, the Stakeholder and the Shareholder. If you look up the definitions it is clear;

Shareholder; an owner of shares in a company.

Stakeholder; a person with an interest or concern in something, especially a business.

Brekke insists that our form of government in Sioux Falls has turned into a Stakeholder government where the money elite control the levers of power. She of course envisions a Shareholder government that includes all the citizens working with our elected leaders to make change and progress.

Brekke logically comes to the conclusion that open and transparent government eliminates the stakeholders and empowers the shareholders.

DUH!

I have accused the Rubber Stampers on the council and the mayor’s administration of having a war on transparency, and now it is clear what the end game is, eliminating shareholder government.

Which brings us to a candidate running for the other At-Large position, Rich Merkouris.

COUNCIL CANDIDATE RICH MERKOURIS ENVISIONS A STAKEHOLDER FORM OF GOVERNMENT

We must first define what the good pastor stands for;

Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel, the health and wealth gospel, the gospel of success, or seed faith)[A] is a religious belief among some Protestant Christians that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one’s material wealth.

Don’t believe me? As the current pastor of his church and the president of Kingdom Capital, Rich draws salaries well over 6 figures a year. If he starts drawing a 3rd salary on city council, Rich could be pulling well over a $250K a year.

Besides the fact that I don’t think it is ethical for a pastor and a leader of a religious non-profit charity organization to run or serve in a governmental role, especially since they have controlled money from taxpayers for rental assistance it is clear who Mr. Merkouris serves and it is NOT the shareholders.

I have often loved these bible verses, and I sometimes wonder if Rich has ever read them;

Matthew 22:15-22 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how to entangle him in his words. And they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and you do not care about anyone’s opinion, for you are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why put me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

It seems that Rich wants to entangle the wealth of God’s kingdom with the wealth of Caesar’s kingdom in his rise to power;

Matthew 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

I understand it when a realtor, a doctor or an insurance salesman wants to run for city council and further their financial opportunities, where I get weary is when a supposed man of God who makes 6 figures a year wants to do it.

Former City Councilor Dr. Kermit Staggers said to me once, “I am very suspicious of politicians that run for office who wear their religion on their sleeves.”

Me too.

Larry, Curly and Mo

Sioux Falls City Council Candidate hands out free money thru his church


And we thought it was questionable when one candidate was buying pizza and rounds of mini-golf, or Poops giving secretly negotiated bonuses to city employees. Candidate for At-Large B, Pastor Rich Merkouris’ church is handing out gift cards



Fill out this form, and you will receive a $25 gift card to give to that person.
But that’s just the beginning.


You can request up to $500 to help someone with a specific need. The barrier to receiving money is low. There is some follow-up to check on the details, but the goal is to fulfill as many requests as possible, Merkouris said.


And if you need help, just ask.


The budget for the campaign is $45,000.


Don’t get me wrong, I will commend any non-profit or church that wants to help people in our community, like the weekly food giveaway at the fairgrounds, but this is questionable considering the good pastor is running for city council and these gift cards could appear as a way to buy votes. It seems the crowd that runs with the mayor can only win elections with money.

I sometimes wonder if anybody running for office has any sense of ethics?