Entries Tagged 'SF City Council' ↓

Is the City Council a bunch of Fruit Loops?

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, June 21, 2021

Link to Calendar

Informational • 4 PM

• May 2022 Monthly Financial Statements by Shawn Pritchett, Director of Finance

• Housing Plan Update by Jeff Eckhoff, Director of Planning and Development Services; Kevin Smith, Assistant Director of Planning and Development Services

Regular Meeting • 6 PM

Item #54, 1st Reading: AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, APPROVING THE NAMING OF INTERIOR ROOMS ON PUBLIC PROPERTY. (Startup Sioux Falls wants to start naming rooms in their $1 rental. I am angling for a Detroit Lewis broom closet or break room microwave.)

Item #55, A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR TO ENTER INTO AMENDMENT TWO TO GOLF FACILITIES MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS AND LANDSCAPES GOLF MANAGEMENT, LLC. (this is giving away (borrow) two liquor licenses to an independent contractor for the city. I’m sure councilor Neitzert will complain about the process and vote against it. 🙂


At their 9 AM meeting tomorrow, they are thinking about holding back on the pipeline (Item #14). I guess the meeting is at Carnegie Town Hall because of remodeling projects at the MCC admin.

Sioux Falls City Council not following Remote Telephonic policy

The City Council hasn’t updated their operations procedure manual since 2020. They have a meeting at 1 PM on Wednesday (June 22) to discuss multiple changes to it.

While I was viewing the red notes for those changes I came across the policy that has been in affect since 2020 for attending the meetings via phone. It seems the council has NOT been following one iota of the policy;

However, if circumstances prevent a City Council member from being physically present during a City Council meeting, the member may participate telephonically. Circumstances that may prevent physical attendance include:

• Personal illness;

• Emergency;

• Military service; or

• Geographical distance.

At the start of any City business meeting during which a City Council member participates telephonically, the presiding officer or Chair of the meeting (“Chair”) must announce the name of any member who is participating remotely and which of the four reasons listed above require that member’s remote participation. The Chair’s statement does not need to contain any detail about the reason for the member’s remote participation other than one of the four reasons listed. The information must be recorded in the meeting minutes.

While I do understand that Covid was a different circumstance, it has been well over a year since city employees started working back in the office. Over the past year several councilors have decided to participate in the meeting via the phone, and while the chair has said at the beginning of the (regular) meetings who is attending via phone, I have rarely heard them say one of the four reasons listed above. Remote working has been over with, if a councilor is NOT sick, or NOT out of town, they should attend in person. There should no longer be special exceptions for Covid, or any for that matter except for what is mentioned above, and it should be STATED at the meeting. This chaps my hide a bit because I have asked that citizens who may be disabled or have other mobility or transportation issues the opportunity to do public input via telephone. The council won’t allow it. So if we have to drag our butts to the meeting, a PAID, Part-time city councilor should to.


• They will be reviewing annotated agenda that former Councilor Brekke suggested before she left, and;

• They will be making changes to the travel policy (something else they have NOT been following). Notice this line in the current policy;

Travel requests for conferences, meetings, tours and other events must be nonpartisan, educational, and related to the city council’s policy-making role

One of the reasons Councilor Neitzert was impeached was because he attended a partisan event in Texas with Mayor TenHaken and former Deputy COS, TJ Nelson. While it was paid for by the event, it still is NOT in line with the council’s policy. I still think Greg, Paul and TJ getting away with unethical behavior was a sham.


On the same day, at 2 PM, the council will discuss these topics;

• Revenue Sources: General Fund and Capital Improvement Fund

• Government Assistance Funds and Uses

• Additional Project Funding

I find it ironic that before the election and before the yearly financial report was released the city (mostly directed from the mayor’s office) spent millions in ARPA and tax revenue surpluses with NO oversight/suggestions from the council. So now I guess they want to discuss the money they already spent?

New Sioux Falls City Councilor BIOs still not updated on website

It has been over 2 months since the city election, and the city has yet to put up the BIOs of the 3 new councilors;

What is surprising to me is when these 3 folks ran for office, they had to put their BIO out there for voters. ALL of them had websites outlining who they were (Sarah Cole just wasn’t sharing her voting record 🙁 ) so this is NOT on them, I am sure they supplied this info to the city’s IT department to put on the website.

This is just another example of how ineffective and worthless our city website is.

I have argued for a long time that the Sioux Falls should model their website after Omaha’s with ALL the public and board meetings streaming on Youtube.

Prior Restraint at the Sioux Falls City Council meeting

The city council meetings are ran by the chair. Normally that is the mayor who only passes the gavel if he has a conflict, wants to speak on an item or has to cast a tie-breaker vote.

The chair has the ability to stop a speaker or interrupt a speaker. In normal circumstances that would be if someone goes over time limit, is cussing or makes physical threats towards the chair, council, city staff or anybody really.

What the chair SHOULD NOT be doing is stopping or interrupting speakers because of the content of their input, this is prior restraint;

In First Amendment law, prior restraint is government action that prohibits speech or other expression before the speech happens. .

When a speaker is making a point during public input, they have a certain amount of time to do so. (3-5 minutes) during that time it may be the case that a speaker builds a narrative that may have nothing to do with the item they are addressing but telling a story to make the case about the item on the agenda. But that doesn’t even matter. As long as public input is addressing the body about government it doesn’t matter if that narrative is about sewer pipes, teddy bears or hurdy gurdies.

In other words it is extremely inappropriate (and unconstitutional) for the chair to cut off or redirect speakers unless they are in violation of decorum that I wrote about earlier.

Lately the Chair (Mayor) of the meeting has been in that habit of trying to redirect speakers if he doesn’t understand or doesn’t like the narrative they are using to build their case. He did it a couple of times Tuesday night and has done it in the past, this is prior restraint and he has been made aware of it.

When former councilor Brekke was on the council she had a long conversation with the city attorney about it, and he seemed to conclude it was just a difference of legal opinion. It is NOT a difference of opinion, it is a violation of Free Speech and the 1st Amendment.

A couple of years ago when I was scolded by the mayor while giving public input (I think it was when I called him a hypocrite . . . several times) a former security officer told me later about the incident that he had NO intention of arresting me or making me leave because I was well within my constitutional rights. I think he said, laughingly, “Calling someone a hypocrite is NOT a physical threat, It’s not even a curse word.”

The scary part about this is that if someone wanted to file a legal complaint against the city because of the chair’s action, they could, and it could be a very easy prosecutable offense. I would never do that, because I am very capable of sticking up for myself and swatting the chair’s interruptions away like flies but it can be very intimidating to someone who has never addressed the council or understands what prior restraint is. In simple terms, it’s bullying.

Somebody asked me after the meeting why does he do that? I guess I could give a hundred answers, but I think this will suffice;

Authoritarian; favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority, especially that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom.

Some citizens have expressed to me they are disappointed in how supposed non-partisan city government has become so partisan. I don’t see partisanship at all, all I see is Authoritarianism, and it is like a rabid dog.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Barranco delivers the best statement about Pride Month Resolution

(FF 41:30)

At another bizarre city council meeting last night 3 councilors (Neitzert, Cole and Merkouris) decided to vote against a Pride month resolution because they felt it was setting some kind of precedent. Let’s pretend for a moment that was true (it is not) wouldn’t you still support it without supporting the process? They could have easily voted for it while stating they didn’t like the process. It is NOT precedent. During the Huether administration there was a proclamation almost weekly. The only difference between proclamations and resolutions is that proclamations come from the mayor’s office and resolutions come from council (according to the city attorney last night). Here are the proclamations from 2016 that were presented at the regular council meetings;

Sex Trafficking Awareness and Action Month (January 2016)

Dr. King Celebration Week (January 12-18, 2016)

Stalking Awareness Month – January, 2016

Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week (February 7-14, 2016)

Sioux Empire Water Festival Days – March 9 and 10, 2016

World Kidney Day – March 10, 2016

Social Work Month — March 2016

National Service Recognition Day – April 5, 2016

National Walking Day – April 6, 2016

Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Action Day – April 19, 2016

American Legion Poppy Days – May 13 and 14, 2016

Historic Preservation Month – May, 2016

Bike Month – May, 2016

Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month – June 2016

National Health Center Week

Suicide Prevention Week – September 5-11, 2016  

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – September, 2016

National Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 2-8, 2016

Native American Day – October 10, 2016

Domestic Violence Awareness Month – October, 2016

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month – November, 2016

American Diabetes Month, November, 2016

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month, November 2016

The practice of presenting proclamations at the council meetings seemed to end in 2018 after Mayor TenHaken was installed. Not sure why, but that was a decision made by his administration (he still releases proclamations discreetly). But for Neitzert, Cole and Merkouris to argue this is out of the ordinary is just flat out false. In fact, TenHaken replaced it with the Siouxper Hero awards at council meetings. Why weren’t there any objections to that? Weren’t we setting a precedent?

As I told councilors last night, they are entitled to their personal opinions about the gay lifestyle, but as a non-partisan governing body they should all be in support of inclusiveness in our city which doesn’t infringe on their personal beliefs as individuals or their crazy beliefs as councilors about a broken process.

I think Councilor Barranco said it best;

“. . . I am PROUD to stand with friends and colleagues who oppose bigotry, violence, segregation, and hatred. This is not the moment to argue. Rather, let us link arms, unified in our support for tolerance, acceptance, inclusion, and love.”

They can make whatever excuses they want to as to why they voted against the resolution, but at the end of the day they just looked petty and I applaud the councilors that voted for the resolution and especially councilors Starr and Soehl for challenging their fellow councilors to do the right thing, even if 3 of them can’t figure out what the right thing is.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, June 14, 2022

Link to Calendar

Informational • 4 PM

• Landscape Golf Management Contract Amendment by Don Kearney, Director Parks and Recreation

• Parks & Recreation – Community Engagement Process & Benchmarking Study by Don Kearney – Director of Parks & Recreation

• Sioux Area Community Foundation by Andy Patterson, President

Regular Meeting • 6 PM

Item #6, Approval of Contracts

Sub-Item #15, Financial Agreement; Levee Outfall Structure at Sanford Sports Complex, Sanford, $483K (it is no secret that the sports complex is a swamp, so it is no surprise they have to build this. I’m just curious why the (local) taxpayers are paying for something that benefits a private health system and is in the right away of the CORPS of Engineers (Federal property).

Item #17, Resolution, Public Works department is asking for permission to apply for SRF loans for well replacement for $12 Million +

Item #18, Resolution, supplemental funding for the Parks Department;

Amend Capital Improvement Program Project No. 14009, Aquatic Facilities Improvements, by adding funding in 2022. The estimated cost for conducting the community engagement process associated with gathering feedback for future aquatic facilities renovation/replacement projects is $100,000 and will require an increase in appropriations that will be funded by a donation from the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation.

The presentation on this is during the informational. I find it curious that the Community Foundation is funding an aquatics study, which will ultimately find we need to build new pools, spray parks or even another indoor facility. Talk about stacking the deck. I think the city has plenty of data to show where these facilities need to be or replaced, this is just an attempt to push poll the city into building certain facilities in certain neighborhoods. The city should just give the Sanford Sports Complex the green light to build another indoor aquatics facility (where it belongs) since ours runs at about a $500K deficit every year. NO more indoor pools or wasted concrete on the River Greenway. We need to improve the bike trail and commit money to something that is used and is FREE to the public. BTW, I rode the ‘extended’ version of the trail today (starting and ending at Falls Park). It is 31 miles. If you get off by the country clubs and circle back at Family Park you will get 31 miles at the end. Oh, and they need to fix the mud pit at Family Park when you get off the trail. Engineering fail.

Item #19. Resolution, recognizing June as Pride Month, sponsors Starr and Soehl. Either this resolution will pass 8-0 with NO discussion or we will see if some of the Trumplicans newly elected will protest. I think it would be fun to have a tie vote letting the mayor break the tie.

On Wednesday June 22nd, the city council has decided to have a couple of committee meetings in the dead of the afternoon they have not had in a very, very, very long time;

City Council Operations Committee Meeting, 1 PM and a city council working session at 2 PM.

Has the private security detail for the City of Sioux Falls all quit?

Last night at the city council meeting a citizen noticed the normal security guards were NOT at the meeting and replaced with some off duty SFPD detectives. She asked Chief Thum about it and he said that they all quit the same day (Aprox 10). She also did some asking around today and it seems to be a disagreement about salaries. I guess this also includes the mayor’s security at City Hall. Who is going to protect his mini-fridge now?!

Homeless advocates email council to vote against Task Force

While I support the task force to combat homelessness, I do agree with a couple of aspects from the people who emailed the city council to oppose it. The data and research has been done for several years, you just need to act and I think the TF should consist of stakeholders in the neighborhood, not friends of the mayor and council. Michelle makes some good points about the opportunity to act over the years. Mayor TenHaken promised in his 1st campaign he would make it a priority, the problem has only gotten worse. It will be an interesting debate tonight.

The first email is from former city councilor Michelle Erpenbach;

Good afternoon, City Council members.

Thank you for your service, and for taking a few minutes to review my reasons for asking you to vote no tomorrow on item 76 — against yet another Homeless Task Force. I would be there in person Tuesday, but I will be working in a neighborhood where Thrive’s Kid Link initiative is supporting programming that seeks to help prevent homelessness among children in our schools.

Homelessness is a complex topic that does not have a single silver-bullet solution. It takes many individuals and organizations with like minds and missions, working collaboratively! Your proposed new task force would splinter existing efforts while ignoring work that has been done recently — and continues to be done – by city staff, Helpline and other local non-profits, members of the Thrive Housing Action Team, and by the city/county Accessible Housing Advisory Board.

It’s time to stop studying and start doing, friends. I’m happy to schedule time to help you catch up with this important topic. In the meantime, please review these links and my comments:

  1. Thrive Housing Action Team (including city, county, and federal staff!) created a Housing Retention Specialist in 2021. Pilot program at East River Legal Services has successfully prevented eviction for 9 families and their children in just a year of operation. The real need? City partnership to take this from pilot to sustainability. Read more: https://siouxfallsthrive.org/children-families-secure-housing/. These conversations are already in the works.
  2. The Accessible Housing Advisory Board, city staff Amos Abu, and a variety of housing stakeholders including Helpline Center and Thrive are working on a Housing Navigation Portal that will help connect tenants with potential housing that meets their existing needs and budget. The real need? Council support and funding to help make the portal a reality.
  3. Former city housing staff (Chellee Unruh) met with clients of the St. Francis House and others to learn more about specific needs from that unique community. The real need? I would recommend reviewing this existing data, so you get a better understanding of this topic from the people living it every day.
  4. Thrive Housing Action Team (again, including city, county, and federal staff) created the OneRoof project that is providing wraparound services for those families who are most difficult to house. This is no longer a pilot and is thriving inside The Community Outreach. Read more: https://siouxfallsthrive.org/oneroof-evaluation/The real need? City support for the unmet needs that some of these folks continue to have.
  5. City/county project Just Home is tackling homelessness for those people impacted by the justice system. The real need? Council members to become well-versed in this important project and ready to support proposals that will come your way within months.
  6. Key non-profits are providing services for our unhoused neighbors. The real need? City council members to acknowledge the important work of St. Francis House, Bishop Dudley and UGM, and encourage them to work together in a stronger spirit of collaboration.
  7. Finally, the biggest need is for more local money without state/federal strings attached for building housing that is affordable to the poorest of our neighbors. Those in the 30% of AMI range. This comes in the form of a Housing Trust Fund. Even Rapid City has an HTF now and it is fully funded while the city of Sioux Falls didn’t grasp the idea when it was proposed 10 years ago. Thrive’s Housing Action Team is taking the challenge and will have a presentation for you in the coming months.

Again, please don’t splinter ongoing work and collaborations. Please encourage the city to instead join these organizations in building a better partnership and collective impact.

Stop studying and start doing.

Michelle Erpenbach


Sioux Falls Thrive

The second email is from Anny Libengood from Minnehaha County Human Services;

Hi, I am a social worker and was a front line worker at Human Services for 18 years. Most recently I was the Housing Navigator. During this time, I became closely and extensively involved in the lives of many vulnerable people in addition to learning the inner workings of community resources. 

The first thing elected leaders need to do is educate themselves on what work and research has already been done. They need to know what programs are out there, have been out there, and what programs need to shift and what programs need to stop duplicating services/resources. About 15 years ago, we had a 10 year plan to end homelessness as did many communities. We also had the Homeless Advisory Board that did extensive work and research. Did we implement anything? No. Fast forward 15 years and we now have TWO Augustana research studies telling us what the community needs to do. The research was extensive and included perspectives of front line staff and those experiencing homelessness. What have we done with these studies? Checked the box that we did them, I guess. “We” just keep creating groups because “we” can’t figure out what to do. (Thrive, Forward SF, Empower, AHAB, Sioux Empire Leadership Council, etc. etc.) and then none of them talk to each other. Stop studying the problem over and over again. It’s time to start the work. 

A couple of reasons the Bishop Dudley police calls have tripled is because the former director was a former police officer. It was easy for the calls to not be “logged”- and yes this is true. He told me this himself when I was providing case management to the homeless families staying there. He didn’t want the neighborhood or powers above him to see the calls and start complaining. Also, his no trespass list was longer than my arm. The current director has to go through regular police call protocols and she is trying to respect the mission of the BDHH which is Open Doors, Open Arms.

Please reconsider this Task Force and Study idea. I am willing to help educate. All you have to do is ask.

Thank you. I plan to be at the council meeting tomorrow.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, June 7, 2022

Link to Calendar

Informational Meeting • 4 PM

• Experience Sioux Falls BID Ordinance Revisions by Shawn Pritchett, Director of Finance; and, Teri Schmidt, CEO Experience Sioux Falls

• Chapter 121 Medical Cannabis Regulations Update by Stacy Kooistra, City Attorney; Jamie Palmer, Licensing Specialist

Regular Meeting • 6 PM

Item #6, Consent Agenda,

Sub Item #1, Agreement to Provide Psychiatric Services, Midwest Wellness Institute, PLLC (looks like the HR department suddenly found another contractor for this. Gee, I wonder why?)

Sub Item #8, Falls Park Master Plan; Agreement for professional services, Confluence, $200K (so this contractor was picked thru a contest, funny how the contractor that won the contest gets about 99% of the city’s landscape design projects already 🙂 The city should just buy Confluence. It would make all this pomp and circumstance of perceived contests go away.

Sub Item #17, Legal Services Agreement to include legal representation regarding potential City of Sioux
Falls Zoning Ordinance Chapter 160 changes, Siegel Barnett & Schutz, LLP, $10K (Chapter 160 is all of the zoning ordinances, so I am not certain what changes are being made. I know that many homeowners have asked about changing zoning so you could build ADUs (accessory dwelling units) without permission from the Zoning Board of Adjustment.)

Item #65, 1st Reading: AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR TO ENTER INTO A “TOMAR PARK TENNIS COMPLEX NAMING AGREEMENT” BETWEEN THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS AND THE SIOUX FALLS TENNIS ASSOCIATION. (Looks like we sold-out another public park. Because when I go to the park, I like to know who is sponsoring it, besides myself).

Item #69, Resolution, This is for the tax levy issued to homeowners adjacent to the 21st boulevard in McKenna Park. This is issued for city maintenance of the flowers in the boulevard. What I found interesting is when you click on the document attached, you will find a list of the property owners. About 10 of them are owned under a Trust, Bank or LLC.

Item #76, Resolution, Councilor Merkouris is bringing forward his idea for a Homelessness Task Force. While I applaud bringing this forward, it seems you better be a friend of the Mayor to get on this TF;

Section 2: That the Mayor is hereby authorized to appoint up to four members to the task force and the City Council Chair and Vice Chair are hereby authorized to appoint all additional members to the task force.

I wonder if this time the mayor will appoint the parents of the Mayor’s Youth Council participants? You know, to return the favor and all.

The irony is that you don’t need a TF to study the issue. We know the problems. You need the TF to recommend solutions ASAP by finding what has worked across the country and world. Recently I rode past Drake Springs pool and noticed that the city put a screened banner on the chainlink fence surrounding the pool. At first I thought, ‘Why?’ then I realized it was because the homeless like to pass out under the trees right by the fence. At least kids only have to look at them when they walk home.

Got to hand it to the city, they have offered one solution: ‘Homelessness. Put a banner in front of it.’ Which is no surprise since they tackled panhandling with a metal sign.