Entries Tagged 'School Funding' ↓

Local Govt entities join forces to become ‘Sioux Falls OP-OUT’

For years, there has been a push for Minnehaha County and the City of Sioux Falls to join forces and become one. With this merger, they went even a step further. The City of Sioux Falls, the County and also the School District are now all one entity called ‘Sioux Falls OP-OUT’

County Treasurer Stan Neilson said, “So many people are confused about where their property taxes go, and with all these increases by all three entities, this will just make it easier to raise . . . uh . . . I mean ‘regulate’ your property taxes.”

So with this change I wondered if it would actually save taxpayers millions in employee salaries and benefits since a lot of the jobs could be combined.

“Highly unlikely,” said HR director for the city, Bud Da’Toole, “We are going to actually ADD more employees, mostly in management, because we will need a lot of middle managers to handle the transition, I also expect the the administrators to double in the education side of the deal.”

There was one bright spot in the whole transition though, and good news in the Parks and Rec department. Parks Director Dave Kornhole explains, “We figured since we are paying teachers a yearly salary anyway, they might as well work the entire year, so during the summer we will have teachers working in our parks mowing grass and during winter break we will have them plowing streets.”

I wondered if teachers would be qualified to plow the streets. Street director Kyle Skidmore said, “Like our current snowplow operators, if they don’t know how to use the snowgates properly, they’ll just skip a driveway or two.”

Some wondered who would be the administrator of this new unity. Would it be the mayor, the superintendent or the commission chair? Former county chair Sandy Highpants said that was an easy decision, “I’m in charge. I’m always in charge.”

We asked superintendent Bruce Mauler if he was aware of the new leadership decision. “Yeah, she may be ‘in charge’ but we all know who makes the decisions around this joint, behind closed doors of course.”

Mayor TwoSh*ts was unavailable for comment because he was busy with a SELFIE Shoot by a hat rack at Flying J Truckstop.

We also wondered what the legislative makeup would be. City council chair Marty Selless said that the first process would be asking any of the board members of each of the entities if they would want to resign. The only taker so far was Commissioner Jesse Farth who told Marty, “I’m outta here suckers!”

The second step of elimination would be done during a joint meeting with all three bodies. “Basically, whoever falls asleep during that meeting or is caught texting would be eliminated. We figured that should whittle us down to about 5 members” said Selless.

So there you have it, in the name of even higher property taxes, we have made government more efficient.

Interesting Human Relations Commission hearing

I believe the case will be heard next week, 10 AM on Wednesday, probably in city hall at old commission chambers. Please read the complaint here (DOC: Human-Relations).

Jesus Pena has lived in the United States since he was the age of four. He was born in 1951. He has been a US resident for decades and has worked all over the country as an assistant surveyor and civil engineering technician. All he wanted to do was become a licensed surveyor himself, but was apparently being discriminated against while taking courses at SE Tech (3 semesters) (I’m still verifying the name of the professor who allegedly treated him this way).

It’s unfortunate to hear something like this, especially with the intent of trying to draw more students to SE Tech and the new proposed SF Community College. As our community continues to become more diverse we need to put a clamp down on educators who discriminate based on race and age.

Why didn’t the SD ACLU look into the SFSD bond election?

Hoorah! The SD ACLU is going to give you a ride to the polls. Yet, they have no intention to investigate those same polls.

We told the ACLU before the school bond vote that the election should be looked into, especially how district employees were using taxpayer resources to promote a YES vote.

No response.

We told them about having NO precincts in the Northern part of the SFSD.

No response.

We told them that the election could be held with the general election (which would save taxpayers money) and use all available precincts.

No response.

We told them that the E-Poll books don’t work and super precincts are a way to sway the vote.

No response.

After the election we discovered that IPC employees, mostly Finance Department counted the vote. NO independent volunteers, NO teachers and NO poll watchers.

No response.

If the ACLU wants to promote fair, equal and open elections, they would be investigating the school bond vote. But they haven’t.

Why?

My guess is because it is about the free public education of kids. Which I would agree. But this wasn’t about the education of children, this was about running an election above board. We don’t know if it was, because the key piece of evidence that the ACLU could pressure to get, the ballots, are being withheld from us for 60 days.

Ironically the $300 million in bond debt doesn’t educate one single child, it doesn’t even raise teacher pay. Almost 75% of it goes towards East Coast bond investors and the rest to contractors who build the buildings.

If the ACLU wants to promote equality during elections, I would agree. This is why they should use their resources to look into the school bond election.

Harrisburg School District proposing a $40 Million bond with NO tax increases

I know, you must be scratching your head a little, as am I. How can the Harrisburg school district propose a $40 million dollar bond without a tax increase? Oh, I don’t know, it’s that little thing called GROWTH!

Rasmussen said there are enough new homes and businesses in the district to support the proposed $40 million dollar bond vote without increasing taxes.

This was my argument about the SFSD bond, with record breaking building permits for over 6 years and the massive growth in Sioux Falls, why would we have to increase property taxes for our bond? Or better yet just build the schools out of the capital outlay without bonding and paying a $100 million in interest. How can a small community like Harrisburg figure out this simple math problem and NOT Sioux Falls? Sometimes arrogance gets in the way of prudence.

I think it would be safe to assume that the Harrisburg bond will pass the 60% threshold easily, especially with NO tax increases. It will just be interesting to see if they hit 85%. Yeah right.

Sioux Falls School Board to canvas election at Monday’s meeting

Here is the agenda – minus the documentation.

This is the time to come and speak about how the election was handled and publicly challenge the election results. I hope to show up with data supporting my argument that an 85% approval rating for a $300 million dollar school bond is historically impossible.

UPDATE: Why is a Zeal Center board member trashing councilors on FB?

As you may or may not know, the Zeal Center is part of the USD Discovery Center (that recently got funding from the city council for infrastructure) and share many of the same leaders, like Rich Naser.

UPDATE: I am being told Zeal is a joint venture between the Chamber and the Development Foundation and the USD Discovery District is a USD project. Rich Naser works on both of them, but Zeal receives no DIRECT city funding but the Development Foundation DOES.

One of the board members of Zeal, Matthew Paulson, decided to trash city councilor Stehly on FB recently (she supported the funding).

While Matt certainly has a 1st Amendment Right to say what he wants about an elected official, NOT sure it shows a lot of professionalism when your organization just got a big chunk of money from the city’s taxpayers in which Stehly approved of. Remember, the city council holds the purse strings (not so much under the last mayor). Maybe the next time The Discovery Center or Zeal come asking for funding they won’t be getting much support from city council.

UPDATE: 85% Passage of School Bond ‘Highly Questionable’

I will agree that the school bond would pass. There really wasn’t much opposition and with only the Argus and this blog giving voters ALL of the factual information. I don’t have an issue with the turnout (numbers) of 16,000 either. I figured it would be around that.

UPDATE: There is now a rumor going around that the SFSD is telling the media that Minnehaha County (auditor’s office) cancelled a contract with the SFSD to handle any of their elections. A county official told me tonight that NEVER came in front of the County Commission to review and I know that Litz said he was willing to run the school bond election if the SFSD asked him to. So who cancelled this supposed contract? Well, that would seem to be the SFSD. Also, as I understand it these ‘contracts’ are for EACH election when the election presents itself. In other words even if there was a contract, a NEW contract for the school bond issue could have been written up with the County Auditor’s office. I also know that Theresa Stehly had a one-on-one meeting asking, if not begging, the Superintendent to run this election through the Auditor’s office using all the precincts, absentee voting at the county admin building and machine tabulation and record keeping. It fell on deaf ears. So the bigger question is why would the SFSD now be starting this ‘rumor’? Are they trying to hide something? In my research there are no state laws barring the SFSD from handling their own election or using district employees to tabulate. It just doesn’t look good, at all.

But besides the stuff Bruce pointed out in his press release yesterday, I caught an interesting video on KELOLAND’s Facebook page of Brady Mallory. He was showing how volunteers were hand tabulating the votes. That seemed like a normal process except for all the SFSD administrators hovering over them (which some people complained about). But where it got even more suspicious was when Brady pointed to the TWO people who were entering the numbers into the computer (screenshot below – video coming soon) without independent oversight from volunteers watching to see if they are entering the numbers correctly.

A couple of foxes tabulating the Hen election

So who are these two? The Business Manager for the SFSD, Todd Vik and the Program Director for the SFSD, Doug Morrison. I’m certainly not accusing them of tampering with the vote, BUT, there certainly wasn’t anyone watching them to make sure they were doing it right. I spoke with Mallory this morning and he told me that he thought they were just entering the numbers for the website. So who was entering the numbers in the system?

Also, Bev Chase said on one of the TV stations last night that the ‘ballots will be destroyed after the election.’ while she is allowed to do that, she has to hold on them for 2 years before she does that in case there needs to be a review of the results.

This election should have been handled independently by the County Auditor or even City Clerk and tabulated by machine. At the very least it should have been monitored by Bob Litz or the SOS. There was NO independent review or watchful eyes.

Unfortunately in the past when we have had questions or complaints about elections we are told to ‘hire an attorney’. The SOS refuses to look into as well as the AG and the State’s attorney who has often used as an excuse “I have too many murder cases to worry about.” Even County Auditor Bob Litz has given up. The ACLU has also not bothered to look into it even though we warned them before the election that this was not on the up and up. I guess they are more concerned about bathrooms and abortion than they are about fair and balanced elections.

So why as a taxpayer should I have to hire a private attorney to investigate a government entity that I fund and an election that I fund? F’ing ludicrous.

Did the Bond Election follow proper election protocol?

PRESS RELEASE from Citizens for Integrity

As a clean and open election advocate for 52 years I have made some observations concerning the September 18, 2018 Sioux Falls School Bond election. These observations are my opinions based on being part of the process from the 1960’s into the age of computer based elections. The insight I have gained into the deeper workings of modern elections was dealt with when I was Chairman of the Minnehaha County Election Review Committee in 2015.

In these years of observing and partaking in elections in South Dakota, I have seen some interesting election practices but I have never witnessed this elections poor practices. We must fight every day to keep elections fair to all participants, so we as citizens can accept the final outcomes as the voter’s choice.

This election may be the worst organized election I have witnessed in my life.

I have personally witnessed during absentee voting process:

1.       No South Dakota Secretary of State Office direct support or oversight of election process

2.       An unknown vendor support for computer based poll books

3.       No audit trail capability to verify the number of ballots issued and who voted absentee at IPC

4.       Single clerk voter check-in of voters

5.       No printed poll book at IPC absentee voting or any voting location to verify voter check-in

6.       Voter check-in process with no hard copy verification by secondary individual

7.       Voter check-in on a computer with the voter not able to verify data entered

8.       Poll workers admitted no previous experience working an election

9.       Voter check-in required voters to fill in absentee envelops with little guidance from inexperienced clerk

10.   No label printers used in previous elections to guarantee legibility for absentee voting audits

11.   Questionable ballot marking instructions

12.   The election polling locations are disproportionally located in the southern part of the Sioux Falls school district leaving citizens north of 6thstreet with no convenient polling place

13.   The Minnehaha County Election Review Committee recommendations for consistency in voting locations was ignored for election day

I am an advocate of hand counting and / or verifying ballot results when our election choices are controlled by machines. This election will be forever tainted no matter what the results are.

Bruce Danielson

Citizens for Integrity

PO Box 491

Sioux Falls, SD 57101

FAX: (605) 334-9511

Cell: (605) 376-8087

Email: bruce@citizens4integrity.org

VOTE ‘NO’ on School Bond Robo-Call

I guess this Robo-Call went out this afternoon. I guess better late than never.

A task force member also posted a video on FB today telling people to vote NO because of the bait and switch by the SFSD. I know exactly what she is talking about. In meeting #3 they told the Task Force they would have options to present in meeting #4 and when they got there those options were OFF the table and only one remained for $190 million.

Please remember the Sioux Falls School District already has two property tax opt outs.

Posted by Mary Scheel-Buysse on Monday, September 17, 2018

Golf Tournament highlights the gap between rich and poor in Sioux Falls

While only about .05% percent of Sioux Falls residents give a rat’s ass about the Sanford International Golf Tournament, it hasn’t stopped our news media from covering it for days, including the mini-city built on the Minnehaha Country Club greens that took several weeks.

Instead talking about the massive tax increases we are facing with the new jail, new schools, new water treatment plant, lack of food tax relief in the legislature’s special session, and another property tax increase on Tuesday at the City Council meeting, our local media wants to focus on the important things; Golf.

While healthcare costs continue to sky rocket, food banks grow faster than crab grass, soup kitchens continue to expand, and treatment for addiction isn’t available in our community, one of top employers and healthcare providers decided that hosting a pro-golf tournament on an exclusive country club course was a good idea.

Will there be economic impact? Oh, probably. Will Sanford and the MCC make money from the event? Maybe.

But the golf tournament highlights something more than anything else, the gap between rich and poor in Sioux Falls.

The irony only gets thicker when you realize the tournament is being played on land that should be sold to the city for a better east-west route for commuters.

While our news media stands in line like they are at the Banquet for Sanford advertising dollars, the rest of our society is slipping through the cracks. But, hey, we are not a real news story unless we steal a pizza buffet gift card.