Entries Tagged 'SF City Council' ↓

Who was mocking Theresa Stehly at the Sioux Falls City Council meeting last night?

I think I know the voice of the gentleman softly mocking Theresa last night during public input of Item #51 (click on the item and the video will fast forward) but I will let you make your own assumptions.

Theresa was reminiscing about her time on the council and the presentation of the new waste water treatment plant when she started to bring up her recollection of the process.

She said she requested an amortization schedule from Public Works Director, Mark Cotter, at the time for paying off the waste water bonds. During her input you could hear someone on the dais quietly mock her. When Theresa says that we may have cost overruns on the project, ‘someone’ on the dais mumbles into their microphone ‘Oh Yeah? Really?’ in a sarcastic voice. Stehly also talks about the public being left in the dark and this same passive aggressive voice whimpers from the dais ‘Hmmmm’ and later ‘Uh Huh.’

Like I said, you have a pretty good guess who was being a brat from the bench, but the individual doing this doesn’t really matter. The fact is the public is constantly told by the chairs of these council meetings that we need to practice ‘decorum’ at these meetings because gosh golly three cub scouts showed up while all the time they are personally acting like kids who got their ball stolen.

Someone needs to tell these folks it’s study hall time not recess time.

What’s going on with our TIFilicious, affordable(?) housing project in North Brandon?

I was just thinking about this the other day . . . and for me and the good pastor, Sioux Falls City Councilor, Rich Merkouris, to have the same inquisitive thoughts, it was a little eerie.

During the informational Rich asked our housing specialist, Logan Penfield, what was going on with the North Brandon project and Logan responded by saying he wasn’t sure and had to get back to Rich.

Seems a bit odd doesn’t it?

Councilor Merkouris just stepped into the vice chair leadership position a few weeks ago. So now with a few weeks of insider baseball under his belt he seemed to pull this question from the sky . . .

. . . and after doing a long presentation on a housing action plan you would think Mr. Penfield would have the answer to that question on the tip of his tongue. But Mr. Penfield has experience in good old Washington, a place where it is best to ignore the hard questions.

I was thinking about the project because after all the fanfare you would have thought there would have been a ribbon cutting already with dirt moving? Instead a staffer from the administration (who is in charge of projects like this) hands over a big fat I don’t know with a shoulder shrug.

While the administration may think it is Sioux Falls ONE it is more like Sioux Falls IDK.

Sioux Falls City Council plans to deconstruct Internal Audit

Besides raising utility rates (Items #47-54) and hiring a new city clerk (Item #60) the council is also proposing this (Item #45);

The proposed ordinance removes any mention of an internal audit job title. The proposal also includes language that allows for a co-source internal audit function.

After a brief discussion with the Audit Committee they have decided to move forward with using outside services for Internal Audit. I am adamantly opposed to this. While other communities do this, it is rare. They either have NO internal audit or an actual internal auditing department.

I do understand that every community has to weigh their options when it comes to this department, but we are not making this change because of evidence of improving the system or to save the city money this is being done out of utter laziness of the council. They should do a national search to hire an Internal Audit manager with audit experience and 1-2 more internal auditors. Instead spending the council’s budget on monogram’s shirts (that they wear under their corporate monogram’s black sleeveless puffy vests) they should hire a consultant to provide them applicants. If we got around 200 applicants for city clerk, I would think a national search for auditors would be gang busters!

BTW, the word ‘Internal’ is in the department name!

I have no problem letting outside entities take a peak at the work the internal audit staff is doing, but we should not be jobbing out this important department out of laziness.

Charter Revision Commission still hung up on the same stupid crap

During their first meeting of 2023, at least three members complained that citizens are trying to get them to re-write the charter as a new form of government.

To revise something is to re-examine and make alterations to (written or printed matter). THE WORD IS IN THE TITLE OF THE BOARD!

The example they use, which I believe was a past proposal by Joe Kirby, was when Joe suggested we remove the mayor from the city council.

That is called a revision not an entire new form of government. In fact it is probably a couple sentence change in the charter under the mayor’s duties. IT IS NOT A TOTAL REWRITE and a gross mischaracterization of the process.

• Members take proposals

• They discuss and debate the proposal

• They vote to place the proposal on the ballot for the next city election

• Voters decide on election day and if it gets over 50% approval it becomes city law

Member Anne Hajek, who was appointed chair for the next four years, said she didn’t want the CRC members to become ‘dictators’.

As I have pointed out to the CRC several times you are NOT rewriting or even revising anything. They take proposals from the public, the council and the administration and vote to place those proposals on the ballot for the CITIZENS to decide. Ironically Hajek said during her rant that the citizens should make the decision to remove the mayor from the council.

THEY WOULD if you would only allow us.

The CRC does NOT have the authority to re-write or re-vise anything, all they do is consent to a ballot question, and as long as the revision is legal and reasonable and most importantly needed to improve the lives of Sioux Falls citizens it is left up to the voters to make that decision on election day.

There seems to be this mentality lately, especially from prominent Sioux Falls and South Dakota Republicans, that revisions to the law by citizens is somehow some kind of dangerous act and we should be more diligent about what we allow on the ballot.


Removing the mayor as a councilor is NOT a groundbreaking change and would actually give more power to the city council to take action.

This is really about the conflicts of interest many of the members have with deep connections to the rich and powerful in Sioux Falls. This concerns me more then removing mayor ‘grunty‘ from the Council dais.

YOU DON’T RE-WRITE ANYTHING, you are only there to provide advice and consent.

I would have to disagree with Hajek, you are acting exactly like a DICTATOR when you don’t allow reasonable proposals to be voted on by the public.

City of Sioux Falls to hire a new city clerk

(PIC: LinkedIn)

I was informed yesterday that a new city clerk was chosen and an announcement would come on Friday, but I guess they decided to announce it early;

Mr. Washington serves as the current City Clerk in Box Elder, SD, and has a bachelor of science degree in management information systems from Midwestern State University (Wichita Falls, TX) and a bachelor of science degree in information technology from National American University. In addition, he is a member of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks and the National Association of Parliamentarians.

Mr. Washington served in the U.S. Air Force for 13 years and was stationed in Sheppard Air Force Base (TX) and Ellsworth Air Force Base (SD).

While Mr. Washington brings the experience and education and seems like a great candidate, I hope he is not overwhelmed.

The population of Box Elder is about 12,000 people, Sioux Falls is 204,000.

While military experience does give applicants an advantage for government service, you wonder if his appointment was under the recommendation of former City Attorney, Stacy Kooistra who is an Air Force reservist member.

I wouldn’t want our diligent eight city councilors to work to hard to find a good candidate. I do know they had around 200 applicants. Maybe the city really doesn’t have a retention problem 🙂

Sioux Falls water plant expansion should be bonded thru 2nd Penny

Sioux Falls water and sewer is funded thru enterprise funds (user fees). Those fees go towards maintenance, operation, general expansions and pipe replacements. They also go towards paying the salaries of the employees of this department (while all other city employees are paid thru the 1st penny operational fund).

While the concept of enterprise funds works well for normal operation, paying salaries and bond payments for major expansions out of this fund is what is draining the coffers and a cause for fee increases.

The 2nd Penny fund was created for road maintenance and soon got hi-jacked for all infrastructure projects. But that is what is it is for, major infrastructure like an expansion of our water and sewer plant.

This is really about allocation of tax money.

We say we need to pay down the bonds for this facility with user fees but we don’t use user fees to pay down the bonds for the Events Center, Pavilion, Zoo, Tennis Courts, Midco Aquatics and the list goes on.

It is ludicrous to have $80 million in a reserve fund for infrastructure projects while raising water rates to pay down bonds for a needed infrastructure project.


Why not re-finance the bonds thru the 2nd Penny fund and avoid a water rate increase? I wonder what Bloomberg thinks of that?

What’s going on with the Bunker House?

An attorney said to me last week that if there has been this much silence from the city AND the defendant it is likely they are in mediation to settle.

Some would argue the city has legal standing in what they are doing, and on some level they do, but some would also argue that the constitutional and federal rights of the defendant is a much stronger case.

What would a possible settlement look like?

I don’t know, because to be honest with you I have never had to deal with such a thing, and I haven’t combed through every detail of the case.

In the simplest terms the city will probably allow him to finish the house and not demolish it, because as Judge Lange stated that would be a total waste, or as someone stated to me, tearing down the house would be the ultimate dick move by the city.

I don’t think the city has many other options.


The heck with the rubber stamps these bodies have, they have exchanged them for unexpected vacations and deferrals. Have you noticed lately that when the Lincoln and Minnehaha Commissions as well as the Sioux Falls City Council have to make an important decision one of the members will skip the meeting for a ‘scheduled’ vacation or they end up deferring it.

I wonder if any of them realize that when you put off an important decision it makes that ultimate final decision much harder for the public to swallow. Look at Pettigrew neighborhood. Past mayors, councils, officers and administrators have failed to make a dent over the past 30 years and the problem has gotten worse and the mayor calling 20% of the residents in Pettigrew alcoholics doesn’t help the situation.

As I have told councilors and mayors for the past 20 years, if you can’t do the job or are afraid to the job please resign so we can replace you with someone that can. I will agree that personal attacks that are unwarranted towards elected officials is unacceptable, but attacking your competence has always been free game. This has nothing to do with the character of those supposed leaders, it has to do with their courage, or the lack of.

Sioux Falls City Council announces new leadership before the vote

If you didn’t believe my claims of cruise control government here is one more reason to believe;

Sioux Falls City Councilor Marshall Selberg will return to his role as chairman of the body in his final year behind the dais.

The second-term city councilor, who terms out of office in spring 2024, is expected to be selected as chairman of the Council Tuesday by his peers at Carnegie Town Hall.

It’s anticipated first-term Councilor Rich Merkouris will be tapped to serve as vice chair.

While it should be NO surprise the council figures out who will be in leadership before the vote, they usually don’t go running to the media before a vote is even taken. I heard about a week ago that Jensen was NOT going to be tapped for council chair and he was okay with it. The back door plan was to put Selberg back in the role to not only block Jensen but Starr from the position.

In fact, there was so much chatter about it, I am not surprised Dakota Scout did a story about it. But the real story is that the council was very adamant about NOT having Jensen serve as council chair and Selberg was the backup plan.

Personally I think all the cattle wrangling could have been done out in the open and this deciding leadership in advance and running to the media before a vote is taken is unacceptable. I hope at least ONE councilor mentions the media link before the vote.

As I have said in the past; these folks know how to win elections, just not what to do once they have attained victory.

UPDATE: Sanford Sports Complex upgrades include a baseball stadium and housing

UPDATE: The city council accepted a withdrawal of renewal alcohol licensing for Lucky Lady Casino tonight. I will have to commend the city council and administration for keeping the pressure on and thank the business owner for having the courage to withdraw instead of fighting this. The council may take more licenses away in the coming weeks at that strip mall.

There was a private meeting with the mayor and some city councilors (only 4 can attend due to quorum) with the property owner recently, but I never heard at the meeting tonight what happened at this closed door meeting. Once again some on the council and the mayor think the best way to negotiate these very PUBLIC problems are in DARKNESS.

This reminds me of when the city council bailed on implementing stronger noise ordinances DTSF and enforcement because a group of DTSF business owners took upon themselves to try to solve the problem through closed meetings between themselves. The council failed to act. Nothing will get solved when you try to fix PUBLIC problems in the DARK.

Just another reason we don’t need a stadium in DTSF. This of course has been NO secret. The Sanford folks have floated an indoor pool and a baseball stadium in the past.

I wonder what the Riverline District folks think of the proposal? Would have loved to see the hand wringing . . .


A concerned citizen pointed out to me today that suddenly Heritage Park (on 6th and Weber) is suddenly void of transients. This all seemed to fall in line with the opening of a new consolidated ad agency next to the park.

Things that make you go hmmmmm?


At Tuesday night’s meeting the city council will be re-visiting the Lucky Lady alcohol license. As I understand it the vote may be split and there has been some back door wrangling going on. What I find ironic is that the administration and the council have had three years since they were denied a purchase agreement to fix up this area and have done NOTHING!

This isn’t a time to hold hands and say grace, this is a time to get out the pink slips and send these folks packing!

Maybe the City of Sioux Falls should take up the State’s bid requirements

As I was stumbling through the city council’s upcoming agenda (Item #7, click on PDF of South Veterans) I found this bid requirement interesting;

The South Veterans Parkway with arterials estimate was $44.1 million (M) and the low bid was $47.9M. The estimate for the sanitary sewer and water main improvements was $2.6M and the low bid was $1.7M. The total bid estimate was $46.7M and the total low bid amount was $49.6M. This is less than 10% over the estimate and SDDOT recommends awarding both bids.

So is this a SDDOT requirement? If so, maybe the city needs to take this on for bridge replacements?