Entries Tagged 'SF City Council' ↓

UPDATE: City of Sioux Falls is using the backdoor for rental assistance

UPDATE: This was the explanation from council staff;

$250k is from the Planning and Development Services budget.

The administration is requesting the Council to appropriate an additional $750k  from the General Fund available fund balance (reserves) to support the One Sioux Falls Fund.

The funding for the Community Foundation is for $1,000,000; $250 (P&D) funds and $750 (General Fund Reserves).

The funding is one in the same.

I want to thank the city for finally contributing to rental assistance, and I think they will have to do a lot more, but I do have some issues with how this assistance is being delivered;

AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, PROVIDING SUPPLEMENTAL EMERGENCY APPROPRIATIONS FOR HOUSING.

WHEREAS, on March 12, 2020, the Mayor issued Executive Order No. 218 declaring an emergency to address the novel coronavirus (COVID-19); and

WHEREAS, the Mayor has collaborated with the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation to establish a One Sioux Falls Fund (the “Fund”) to help local residents and businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19 in Sioux Falls; and

WHEREAS, the Fund will consist of both public and private sector contributions; and

WHEREAS, the Fund will be used for public, charitable, or humanitarian purposes and accommodation. Specifically, the funding shall focus on any of three critical areas: health, housing, and food security; and

WHEREAS, Section 5.07 (b) of the Charter of Sioux Falls allows for an emergency appropriation to be made to meet a public emergency affecting life, health, property, or public peace;

I don’t take issue with the amount of funds themselves ($750K) because I think we are going to need a heckuva a lot more.

NOTE: THERE IS ALSO A $1 MILLION FIGURE IN THE CONSENT AGENDA WHICH IS CONFUSING – ARE THESE SEPARATE EXPENDITURES?

What is wrong here is the delivery system because it lacks transparency. It would be logical to assume no matter who pays for this the money will be direct payments to the property owners of the rentals. But by transferring public dollars to a private fund, the taxpayers will never see who is receiving these funds. Once again, I will stress, this is not about knowing the names of the renters, they will not be an equation in this because they will never see the money, it’s about knowing what property owners are receiving the payments. Will it be the big guys? The little guys? Will it be evenly spread between them? We will never know because the city will be giving up their rights to transparency by having a private non-profit distribute the money.

So what is the fix? The property owners need to apply for the funding from the city themselves so that all transactions are open and transparent. I keep telling people that during a time of crisis, full transparency is the key, this is just another example of a backroom deal that doesn’t need to happen to accomplish the ultimate goal.

But there is another issue with this money transfer, the city council was not consulted on the ordinance before it was posted (or at least some of them weren’t) they also were not asked to help draft it or the amount. While the mayor may have some emergency powers, the council is the legislative body that is in charge of drafting legislation like this. Some have even suggested to me that the mayor is violating charter and ethics by proposing this distribution before consulting with the council. It should be an interesting meeting to watch.

While Great Shots has been closed, other entities were still operating

At about 1 PM today I drove past several places in the Sanford Sports Complex, this is what I saw. Great Shots had only two cars in the parking lot and appeared to be shut down. Power and Grace and the Iceplex only had one car in each of the parking lots and seemed to be shut down. The MatchPointe throughout the week has several cars in their lot but today was down to about four. The Pentagon however (first picture below) had over a dozen cars and I saw people showing up dressed for basketball practice and gym bags. At the Fieldhouse I saw over 20 vehicles in the lot. This tells me they are still operating. These facilities, according to the new ordinance passed need to be shut down, especially considering their connection to a healthcare facility.

If we are going to shame private business on social media for being open and endangering lives, the big boys have to play by the same rules.

Municipal Elections likely to be postponed until June primary

The legislature is leaning towards a bill that will set the municipal elections in June during the scheduled primary election. It also looks that absentee voting would start on March 30th and be available for the next two months.

I look at this a couple of ways, I think it would have been virtually impossible to hold the election in a couple of weeks. I also think that two months of absentee voting is good, and safer. But I also think that many people are not thinking about a city election right now, and hopefully this clears by the end of May so there can be a little concentration on the election and the candidates.

Also, I have been thwarted by several folks over the past few days that the city council doesn’t have the legal authority to change the election date. I believe they do, and I think it is as simple as practicing their right to change city ordinance under the Home Rule Charter. I also look at this as something the courts could weigh in on. How could the city possibly hold a public city election at the height of a dangerous pandemic with NO poll workers? Well, Sherlock they couldn’t, and I think a judge would agree that gives them the legal authority to change ordinance on the fly. Remember, law isn’t what is written on paper, it is what the courts and judges decide, it is all fluid. And if a governmental body is unable to hold an election, that body has the legal right to remedy the situation, and I don’t think there is a judge in the land that would side on endangering the public because the legislature said a city MUST have an election on a certain date come Hell or highwater. Maybe what we are really saying is if the election can’t be held on April 14th, there is no election, and candidates Neitzert, Mickelson and Stehly get to remain in their seats automatically for the next term? I have a feeling the same arguing against me would argue against that scenario also. Funny how that works.

The City of Sioux Falls is taking this seriously

After watching this morning’s Corona Virus briefing and the health board meeting today and ending with the city council meeting I think it has finally sunk in that this is very serious, and I was impressed with the Mayor, the Health Director and the City Council for taking more preventative steps. They are not suggestions anymore folks, we need to listen to our elected leaders and heed the warnings. This can ultimately not get any better unless we take precautions, and your city government just stepped it up today, I thank them for their actions.

All week long I have noticed many patrons at the Match Pointe Tennis Center, The Sanford Fieldhouse, and tonight several people golfing at Great Shots. It surprised me that facilities that are under the umbrella of a healthcare system would have their recreational facilities still open to the public. Hopefully the new ordinance the city council passed tonight will close that down.

Also today I was sent this from the city charter concerning elections and if the city council has the power to change a date;

Section 6.01  City elections.  

(a)   Regular elections.  The regular city election shall be held in even numbered years. Conduct of the election shall be in accordance with provisions of state law. The date of the city election shall be set by ordinance as the second Tuesday in April. The city may combine its election with that of the Sioux Falls School Board.


As I see it, while the city has to follow state law with how the election is conducted, the city council has the power to move that date no matter what the state legislature decides. Under our Home Rule charter, it is our council that makes the decision of the date of the election. No matter how the legislature votes on this on Monday, I still think the city council has a legal right to move the election if they need to. I’m no legal scholar, but I think the language is pretty clear who picks that date, and it’s not the legislature.

Also the city has taken action to inform the public with these billboards;

The City of Sioux Falls has about 10 billboards up around town to build awareness about social distancing.

They feature a big picture of  Mayor Paul Tenhaken with this quote:

‘By staying apart, we will stick together’

The billboards are up in strategic spots, including 41st and Western and 12th and Kiwanis.

The TenHaken administration is using every means available to get the word out on ways to stop the spread of COVID-19.

I hope the billboard company is doing these at no cost to the taxpayers, but I don’t know the answer to that. But what concerns me is why do they have a picture of the mayor on them – smiling no less? It reminds me of our job recruitment billboards with the former mayor on them. I think this is a horrible time to be campaigning for the next election on the taxpayer’s dime. I would have just put the quote up by itself, and I’m not even sure this is an original quote from Paul? It’s bizarre and certainly in bad taste.

Legislature SHOULD allow communities to decide if they want to have April 14th elections

The SD State Legislature decided to meet electronically for veto day, which is a good. It is also more proof that the municipal and school board elections across the state should be postponed, or at least give communities the option to decide. That is what Minnehaha County Auditor said during yesterday’s County Commission meeting. Basically if the Legislature makes a decision on the election, they would pass a bill that would allow communities to decide for themselves if they wanted to hold the election on April 14th, which I think is a great idea. There are roughly 70 communities that are planning a April 14th election across the state. Litz basically said in smaller, less populated cities, they would probably be okay with holding an election, but bigger cities like Sioux Falls may have issues with it. Bob also said that he could easily combine the city/school election ballot with a 2-sided primary ballot.

I’m still on the fence about it. I think we need to see where we are at with the Corona Virus in couple of weeks before we decide. We also don’t know what it will be like in June. I think if communities are given the option to decide for themselves, they should do it on April 6th.

Count Jensen violating campaign signage rules

I don’t get too upset about this, because almost every city election cycle this happens. You are not supposed to place signs in the boulevard (parking strip) because it is city owned property. My argument is that anything the city owns, I own, but rules are rules.

While some would argue that if a candidate hands out signs to supporters, they really can’t control where the supporter puts the sign. Which is true. But you can tell the supporter to not post in the boulevard.

But what makes this case interesting is that the yard these signs are in, are a supposedly a close family member of Jensen. Rules be damned for the Chosen One!

Probably stuck there in the middle of the night.

Real leaders make tough decisions in times of crisis

While I cold certainly go on several rants about how our president and governor are handling this situation by not being proactive, even now with the data they have, I have to admit my disapointment in our mayor.

The mayor does have the power to shut down businesses that are encouraging the spread of the virus, as Cory has pointed out in our charter;

§ 92.070 PROHIBITED.

No person shall create, commit, maintain or permit to be created, committed or maintained any nuisance within the city.

§ 92.071 ILLUSTRATIVE ENUMERATION.

Whatever is or imminently may become hazardous or dangerous to human health, whatever renders the ground, the water, the air, or food a hazard or an injury to human health, or whatever annoys, injures, orendangers the health, comfort, or safety of others… are, each and all of them, hereby declared to constitute nuisances….

§ 92.074 ABATEMENT BY CITY; COSTS LEVIED AGAINST PREMISES.

When there exists on private property a condition which has been determined a nuisance by a city enforcement employee, a notice will be served in the matter specified in § 92.072. The notice will describe the matter to be removed or corrected and require removal or correction thereof within 14 days. The city health officer may shorten the timeframe for removal or correction if the health officer determines the nuisance item(s) presents a significant risk to the public health if not removed or corrected in less than 14 days. If the city health officer determines a shortened timeframe is appropriate in a particular case, the shortened timeframe shall be set forth in the notice. Any additional nuisance conditions not previously observed, or that may have been added to the property after the city’s inspection(s), must also be removed or corrected within the timeframe specified in the notice of violation.If at the end of the 14 days, or less as set forth in the notice, the nuisance has not been removed or corrected, the city shall have authority to cause the correction or removal and disposition. All costs incurred by the city for the removal and disposition of the nuisance or for correcting the nuisance shall be assessed, levied and collected as a special assessment payable in one sum or by up to five equal annual installments as the city council may provide against the premises from which it was removed, in the manner provided by law for the levy and collection of other special assessments [emphasis added; Sioux Falls City Code, retrieved 2020.03.22].

Who does the City’s Health Officer, Jill Fraken, report to? Mayor Paul TenHaken. Paul could easily ask Jill to shut down the businesses for violating code. He has this authority without the consent of the health board or the city council. An appointed city employee or an appointed volunteer city board cannot do these things on their own.

Further more in the charter, the mayor has the authority to manage the city, NOT the city council or appointed boards or employees. The charter grants him this awesome power and authority.

Don’t let Paul fool you by telling you he has to leave it up to a volunteer board, city employees or the city council. HE CAN DO IT!

So why doesn’t he? It’s really a simple answer, he doesn’t want to take the heat from businesses that will lose their shirts in this crisis. I can almost guarantee that 30% or more of small hospitality related businesses will go out of business after this (if they haven’t already). How easy will it be for PTH to wash his hands of this decision when he can point his finger at city employees, volunteer boards and the eight member, part-time city council.

Guess what Paul, it isn’t your fault either, it’s the fault of an invisible virus that got out of control. But you can do the right thing and help prevent it from causing more damage. Economies will come and go, life cannot be replaced so easily.

Paul, it is your job to handle emergency situations and crisis in this city, the council’s job is to make sure the laws and ordinances are in place to back up those decisions and the funds in place to fight this and recover. I advise you to make this decision by Tuesday morning before any meetings take place and stop this insanity. The directive is clearly in your hands.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Stehly once again has the vision of a true leader

Whether it was a misguided administration building, parking ramp, secretive task force meetings or potholes, Stehly was the first, once again;

But the safety of doing so is in question amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why Mayor Paul TenHaken, all eight city councilors and the City Clerk are urging Gov. Kristi Noem and Secretary of State Steve Barnett to take emergency action to postpone the April 14 election.

Theresa had been asking for at least a couple of weeks to postpone the city elections across the state while her colleagues on the council (not Starr or Brekke who have bee supportive of Stehly’s idea) have been ignoring her.

So after Starr and Cameraman Bruce organize a drive-thru absentee ballot sign up over the past two days (as I understand was very safe, with no crowded lines with people remaining in their cars) all of a sudden the rest of the council has a change of heart.

Once again Stehly was ahead of the curve on this and the rest of the city council had no choice but to follow suit. Which proves once again why she needs to be reelected.

What makes this even more egregious is that this letter wasn’t supposed to go out until after Tuesday’s Health Board decision comes out, but somehow got leaked onto FB by Erickson and then to her little slimeball friend up north. Funny how that works?

Speaking of the health board, now our great leader of the city is leaving it up to them and ultimately the city council to make the difficult decision to mandate restaurants and bars be closed, which will only domino into most non-essential businesses being closed.

While I have argued for a long time that the city council doesn’t really do squat, thank GOD we have them now to make the critical decisions that the mayor’s office cannot apparently make, or willing to make.

Mayor TenHaken could make a solid legal case for shutting down the public health threat those barhoppers pose to all of us.

This will give him more time to hand out board games to the quarantined and drive around SF taking pictures of bars’ parking lots. Sorry Paul, while being ‘Positive’ during a crisis is a good suggestion and all, it doesn’t pay the rent or cure the sick. We used to have this saying in the restaurant business when a customer would give you a glowing compliment than leave NO tip; You can’t buy groceries with a compliment.

But one more thing, the City Council also needs to mandate that the Events Center, Convention Center and Arena’s floor space be dedicated for a temporary health care facility/shelter if needed. They DO have the power to do that considering the taxpayers own those facilities. We may just make the Denty useful after all.

We also need to work with the local grocers and food banks to have a safe system to hand out food to those who need it. People soon will be unable to safely go in person to the grocery stores, even if they have the money. This hysteria could lead to looting, we don’t want to go there. We need a plan NOW on how we are going to handle food shortages.

Sioux Falls Ethics Board opinion about city election campaigning and finance

Please find the attached Board of Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 20-1

VIEW DOCUMENT HERE.

Absentee Vote for April 14th City Council election

What: Event to register for absentee mail-in ballot.
When: Saturday and Sunday, March 21- 22 from 10:00-12:00.
Where : Frying Pan Restaurant on 10th and Cleveland. 

Registration forms provided. Bring Photo ID. Pat Starr will be there to notarize your form.

Candidates that are on the ballot will NOT be at this event. This is an opportunity for you to get a mail in ballot for the election.

They will make sure that they only help one person at a time to ensure social distancing. It will only take a few minutes.

At this point, it is unsure if the legislature will vote on March 30 to postpone the election, so we need to find safe ways to vote in case the corona virus spreads over the next month at a rapid rate. I’m hoping the legislature will postpone the municipal elections across the state until June, but there are no guarantees they will do that. This is the safest and most prudent way to absentee vote.

You can also go online;

If you’d like to have mail-in absentee ballots sent to you, you can sign up using this form: FORM

Print it out, fill it in, and either have it notarized  or include a copy of your photo ID when you send it to your County Auditor’s office.