Entries Tagged 'SF City Council' ↓

Several Reasons why the Sioux Steel TIF should be voted down

Last night at the Sioux Falls City Council meeting it was the first reading of the Sioux Steel TIF proposal (2nd reading is on  February 3rd). I spoke for my whopping 3 minutes about why it is a bad idea, I was able to run thru these points (FF video to 1:30)

• Planning Staff (Public employees) SHOULD not be recommending tax cuts or rebates to publicly elected officials (city councilors). While it is their job to lay out the pros and cons and basic criteria, employee salaries funded by our tax dollars should not be cheerleaders for private business. It goes against our free enterprise system and frankly is unethical.

• The property does not provide affordable housing OR clean up blight (The blight that does exist on the property is from the current property owner who is going to redevelop the property). We have known about environmental issues with this kind of manufacturing since the 1960’s. We were not born yesterday, you blighted this land, it is your responsibility to clean it up.

• Very little new economic growth will be produced, it will only be diverting development from other parts of the city, as well as diverting lodging from other parts of downtown. We know that over the past 5-6 years the city has seen a decrease in lodging taxes and stays do to a popularity in Air BNB, and the fact that people are not spending the night in Sioux Falls. The Events Center is a great example of how NEW economic growth and taxes will not come rolling in due to this project. In fact it competes with our current taxpayer subsidized convention center. Since the EC has been in existence, sales tax revenue has been at it’s normal snail pace until last year.

• We really don’t need more parking ramps downtown. We already have one waiting for a hotel to be built on top of it. Why are we not focusing on fixing that fiasco?

• The 20 year TIF will only produce $1.1 million in property taxes. If we forgo the tax and the project is scaled back, we would bring in around $10 million in the same time period. And if we also forgo the river greenway improvements of $10 million and just gift the development the property, it would be a $20 million dollar windfall for taxpayers instead of $1.1 million. I actually believe the development is bluffing about scaling it back, they would find the financing elsewhere, and even if they canceled the whole project (which I think they won’t) it wouldn’t harm us one bit.

• Most of the jobs created by the project will be hospitality, most of which are part-time and with few benefits.

THERE HAS NEVER BEEN AN ACTUAL TIF ECONOMIC IMPACT STUDY IN SIOUX FALLS. This is one of the main reasons why this should be voted down. A comprehensive study would show us that there has been very little economic impact to citizens, in fact, it has probably forced individual property owners to pay higher taxes.

TIFs that don’t address real blight and affordable housing are really only a handout. It is unfortunate that the public is very ignorant about TIFs and the effect it has on their personal taxes while providing very little benefits. I can’t blame the developers for asking for this. What if your banker said to you one day, “There is this tax incentive program that will refund your property taxes for 20 years so you can improve your personal property.” Wouldn’t you jump at it? I would. Damn right I would. This is why I have argued to any city official that would listen for well over a decade that TIFs should be used to cleanup personal properties in low income working class neighborhoods instead, this would be real economic impact to the residents of Sioux Falls. But, hey, shiny things are fun to look at when the business elite are laughing all the way to the bank.

UPDATE: Project TRIM pilot program proves that the city can affordably trim city owned trees

UPDATE: I wanted to add that the Denny Sanford Premier Center probably costs taxpayers about $6 million a year (after sponsorships, profits, sales and sales tax revenue offset) that comes to $31.58 per year, per resident. Ironically, not everyone attends the EC and on top of that, you still have to buy a ticket to go there. I would say, Project TRIM at no cost would be a lot more bang for our buck.

I was surprised that the number was so low. $58 per property. If you are in violation in it’s current form, the city could charge you $150-$300 to trim THEIR trees, even though in reality we pay frontage fees/taxes to take care of these things. As Stehly points out in the meeting, it could be even lower if we contract the work with private contractors (creating local jobs) or using inmate labor.

I would also like to point out that these costs will get lower each year because the city will be doing this on a regular basis and keep it managed. I also think the price tag is a pittance for the trimming, $688K per year, compared to other expenditures in our city. That comes to about $3.62 per resident, per year. Half the price of a value meal at Mickey D’s. We can afford this.

Where’s Councilor Count Alex Jensen?

When I helped Greg Neitzert run for his first term, we were clear with him about what he needed to do to win the seat; announce before everyone else, and knock on doors like a mofo. Greg not only announced early, knocked on hundreds of doors, but also put out effective mailers. I think he also spent under $10K, and he won by quite a bit in a large pool of candidates. I will admit, there was no incumbent for the seat, but that just meant he had to work harder to get his name out there.

I had to laugh about a month ago when a frequent commenter on DWC, said that a ‘dead’ Jensen could beat Theresa Stehly. Well I would certainly agree with one part of his comment, Alex Jensen’s campaign has been one of the most well funded and lifeless campaigns I have ever seen in the history of city politics.

While he did announce early, he hasn’t really done much of anything else. In fact, a lot of people who don’t even like Theresa have said to me, ‘What does he stand for? I haven’t heard a peep from him.’ All the while his campaign manager goes around complaining about the incumbent (who hasn’t even announced yet – and may not).

I think Jensen’s campaign is wasting valuable time. I am quite certain that if Theresa decides to NOT run, there will a bevy of candidates that will run against Jensen (I know of at least two who are interested if Theresa decides to not run).

Wouldn’t you be concentrating your energy on telling people who you are instead of having your little campaign troll spend all day on FB calling Theresa a bully? Ironic, I know.

Could Alex Jensen beat Theresa Stehly in a one to one race? Sure. But not a ‘dead’ Jensen. I think it is the first time I have seen a vampire run for city council, but certainly not the first time a ‘bloodsucker’ would serve on the dais.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Jan 21, 2020

Informational • 4 PM

Presentations on;

• Weber Avenue Corridor Study

• Emerald Ash Borer Response Plan Update 

• Project TRIM Assistance Program & Project TRIM Pilot Project (this project presentation will be informative. I wonder what the city spent to experiment with this).

Regular Meeting • 7 PM

Item #6, Approval of Contracts. Apparently we are paying Sanford to rehabilitate injured city employees. While physical therapy is important, I think that city employees should have the choice of healthcare provider to go to for this service.

Item #43, Second reading, on premise sign regulations. This will pass, and probably should, but I question the timing right before a city/school board election.

Item #46, 1st Reading of TIF for Sioux Steel project. You know my feelings on TIFs, this will have little to NO economic impact on the rest of us, and will only increase our property taxes.

Item #47, 1st Reading, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, AMENDING CHAPTER 38 OF THE CODE OF ORDINANCES OF THE CITY PERTAINING TO ELECTIONS. There is some language changes pertaining to municipal elections and finance reports.

Was LifeScape’s street closure plan just a ploy to add value to the property?

As we said when they lost that battle with the city council ‘Yes, Yes and Yes’.

So here is the news we expected to hear;

The new facilities will replace LifeScape’s 26th Street children’s specialty hospital, residential and school location. 

The children’s campus on 26th street will eventually be sold, but that can’t happen until the new campus is fully functional. 

The project will require fundraising and infrastructure still needs to be done. While LifeScape ideally would like to be done in a few years, the entire campus could take up to five years, Watkins said.

The renderings shown in this piece were produced by the late architect Jeff Hazard before he passed away last year.

As suspected, these plans were probably already set in motion when they came to the council to ask for the street closure. See, the way the rules work is if a street is closed, the adjacent property owner (LifeScape, in this instance) gets possession of the property at NO cost. This of course increases the value of the property. Billion Auto pulled this trick a few years back, except they still own the property where the street used to be.

It pains me that a non-profit that employees great people, does great things in our community and is a needed service would have people in leadership/management who felt they should try to manipulate the city council and an entire neighborhood for financial gains. Thanks to the insight and vision of 3 councilors (Brekke, Starr and Stehly) and countless citizens in the neighborhood that pushed back, this financial windfall at the expense of taxpayers and people living in the neighborhood never happened. If you want our money, just ask. I often expect people to conduct their private business and non-profits with integrity, but especially organizations that help the disabled.

Former Sioux Falls Mayor Rick Knobe posts on FB about his feelings of big money in City Council race

While I don’t agree with all of Rick’s points, he asks some very good questions;

Confession time. I’m feeling torn.

Back on the boat in Mobile, Alabama. Plan is to finish my Great Loop Adventure in next two months. Retirement is good. I worked hard and know I’ve made an impact on Sioux Falls, and those around me.

In Sioux Falls, and now in Pierre, things are happening.

The at-large council seat is up, along with three district positions. The at-large incumbent, Theresa Stehly has not yet announced her intentions.

A young man has announced and he has been given a huge amount of money(about 70 thousand as if this writing) to defeat her. Contributors include the usual big money folks, mostly connected Republicans.

Standing out is a 10,000 dollar check from former Governor Dennis Daugaard. Obviously the former Governor can donate money to anyone he wants. But this is the same Governor who worked hard to ban out of state money from state elections, speaking out, and signing a bill outlawing the practice. That bill was ultimately determined to be unconstitutional.

Last I knew Dennis and his wife lived near Garretson, outside of Sioux Falls. Are large contributions of out of city money ok for city elections in his mind, but not out of state money for state wide elections?

His contribution is probably legal, but in the face of previous statements and actions is he being ethically consistent?

Back to the election. Stehly’s opponent vows to raise well over $100,000. The four year job pays less than $20,000 a year. Are he and his people “jumping the shark?”( reference to the Happy Days TV show. The Fonz waterskiing while dressed in his jeans and leather jacket, jumping over a shark).

I don’t know the candidate. His pledge to raise more than five, nearly six times the salary seems beyond excessive. Is he motivated to serve or only to win? What does he want to do to improve life in Sioux Falls?

The mayor has created a PAC. He has given money to sitting council members he wants re-elected. Legal? Probably. Ethical? No definitive answer. He is the first mayor in Sioux Falls history to create a PAC. Is he mimicking the big dogs from DC?

One could ask, does he want to serve us, the citizens, or does he want to be a powerbroker?

In Pierre, we are only a few days into the session and already 42 legislators have signed onto a bill putting themselves, and maybe us, if the bill passes, into medical advice and treatment rooms to make felons out of professionals helping individuals and families deal with one of the most complex issues of human bodies, brains, and emotions, gender identity.

I consider myself relatively intelligent. I have talked with a physician who helps deal with people suffering from a gender identity issue. (He lives In Minnesota). It’s complicated. Very complicated.

I feel for people dealing the sex identity problems. I know enough to know, I don’t know enough about it to offer advice. I certainly don’t want to be in the treatment room and I don’t want elected officials in there either, in person or thru laws they pass.

I wonder what else is coming in Pierre? It’s scary.

I’m hoping those of you who care about local and state government will speak up and take action. Testify. Vote. Get involved.

We might not be able to influence the idiocy in Washington, but we can and should stop it in Pierre and prevent it from infecting Sioux Falls.


Of course Alex Jensen’s campaign manager, Matt Paulson had to respond (twice);

Matt Paulson – The issue is not dissenting Ms. Stehly’s votes and a need to control everything. The issue is with how she treats people that she disagrees with, which is very poorly. She seems unable to have a reasonable disagreement without declaring all out war. After repeated phone calls, underhanded blog posts that she orchestrated, complaints by her about me to numerous community leaders, threatening to vote against future funding for an organization she thought I was affiliated with and using her position as a city councilor to attack someone that has political disagreements with her in a public meeting, I’ve just had enough. She bullies people and tries to intimidate people into not speaking out against her by using whatever leverage she can find (usually calling people’s employers). It’s wrong. City officials should treat citizens, including those they disagree with, with respect. Frankly, That’s the main reason why I and others are working to elect someone else to that seat.

First off, NO ONE tells me what to post. Sure, people, including Stehly, have given me suggestions, but in the past, if they want to say something I suggest a ‘guest post’. I disagree with Theresa on a whole host of issues, and we have had our share of incredible fights. Remember, I have been blogging for almost 14 years, well before I knew Theresa, Cameraman Bruce and others. Ask them and they will all say the same, “I can’t tell Scott what to post.”

She should vote against future funding of the SFDF, especially when they use tax dollars to promote a candidate and violate laws. I would expect my elected officials to hold them to a higher standard.

It is also the job of elected officials to hold PUBLIC entities and their employees accountable, especially those who get public money.

Matt Paulson – One thing to consider is that every candidate is going to use the “tools in the toolbox” they have available to them to try to win an election. For Jensen, that is trying to leverage the establishment vote and the financial resources that come with that vote. For Stehly, that means using her elected office as a means to campaign, using her newsletter in the shopper, painting herself as the defender of the little guy. and showing up to as many events/meetings as she can because she does not have a full-time job outside of being a council member. I have a hard time believing that she, or any candidate for that matter, wouldn’t raise more money to win an election if that was a tool they had available to them.

All of the things you mention are called ‘doing her job’. C’mon Matt, are you that ignorant? BTW, when is Alex going to campaign or even tell us what his issues and stances are? Let’s say Theresa doesn’t run, and someone like Knobe gets in the race, is he just going to depend on his smiling face to win the race? Rick would kick his ass. I told someone the other day that it seems Jensen is taking the John Paulson approach to campaigning, “Stay positive and don’t take any stances.” Last I checked, Paulson spent a lot of money, and lost twice, first to Stehly than to Brekke. Not sure why you need to march forth on this losing strategy? But whatever. The only way you will win a council seat, especially running against a popular incumbent is by knocking on doors. All the money, yard signs and billboards won’t make a difference. And ironically, all of this hoopla, and Stehly hasn’t even announced if she will run again.

First Public Sioux Falls City Council Operations Committee meeting

The operations committee has never met in the 7 years they have existed in public until a couple of months away from a city election in which the chair, Neitzert is up for re-election. Shocker. Towards the end, Councilor Brekke schooled them on the legal repercussions of using cell phones during public meetings (FF: 52:30)

Where is Mayor Paul?

To tell you the truth, I really don’t care. I think all mayors have a right to take a night off, whether that is for a ‘date night’ with the wife, or to look in the mirror and take selfies with his latest trucker hat. I really don’t think the mayor should be running the council meetings anyway, so good riddance.

Before I get to his absence, I have to tell you watching the discussion about a city ordinance about political signs in your yard with the city council meeting tonight is extremely laughable and a waste of time. The 1st Amendment protects political speech, and if you want a political sign in your yard for 100 years, the city can’t do a damn thing about it. Get over yourselves.

As for PTH, I really didn’t pay much mind, but the ‘rumors’ have been flowing in, here they are and take them with a grain of DaCola;

• He is on his yearly trip to Haiti for missionary work. Good for him. I also hear a local bank is funding the trip. Also, good for them (if true).

• He is at home avoiding an uncomfortable conversation about refugees and discrimination. Can’t blame him. Having public conversations about these things takes courage . . . that’s why my chickensh*t ass is at home watching this online. But I was very proud of this city tonight, and the testimony given. Embracing others is something we should all strive for.

Both resolutions passed as I suspected. And some people understood what I meant about having more ‘teeth’. It means budgeting for education programs that combat hate and discrimination. Councilor Brekke brought this up, and I am glad she did. I actually was very impressed by the conversation, but what most should understand is the freedom you were allowed tonight to speak on this issue is truly what it means to be American, freedom of speech. It gives you the right to denounce these things, it also gives those who hate us to do the same, unfortunately. I stand by what I have been saying about this over the last week. Use your rights to change minds and to educate others, but don’t limit your dissenters. Because the louder you are, they will soon be drowned out, and they will realize they have only abused their rights to send a message of self destruction. I know it is corny, but only Love conquers Hate, not speeches or resolutions.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Jan 14, 2020

City Council Operations Committee • 2 PM

I was surprised on Friday to see that these meetings will now be opened to the public. The chair had this to say;

That’s why Council vice-chair Greg Neitzert, who presides over the operations committee, decided to start letting sunshine into the meetings beginning this month.

“I’ve thought they should be open for a long time,” he told the Argus Leader. “It just created this aura that there was this big thing going on behind the scenes and there’s not. So why not just open it up.

“It’ll be just like any other committee,” he added.

While this is a good move, it should have happened 4 years ago when Neitzert got elected. The timing of this just a couple of months away from the city election is an ‘interesting’ move since Greg is up for re-election. The 2 PM time on a Tuesday afternoon is also ‘interesting’. Much like the CRC meetings, at a time that is NOT convenient for people to watch live or attend in person. But, I will say it is a good move, better late than never.

They will do a Review of the City Council Policies and Procedures Manual and the City Council Reference Manual

Informational Meeting • 4 PM

They will have presentations on (no supporting PDF docs yet);

• Sioux Falls Skate Park (this is exciting and hope they are getting closer to their fundraising goals to start the project).

• Parks & Recreation Comprehensive Master Plan – Preliminary Recommendations

• National League of Cities Trip Update

Regular Meeting • 7 PM

Item #14, 1st Reading, Yard Sign regulations;

Noncommercial yard signs. Noncommercial signs shall not exceed 9 square feet per sign in any residential parcel

They are looking to delete the line ‘with two signs allowed’. While I don’t take issue with the proposed change, I don’t think it should be implemented BEFORE the April city election. This seems like a sneaky attempt to put up as many large political yard signs as possible before that election. I would encourage the council to defer this until after the election. In its current trajectory it would become in effect in February.

Staff is looking to remove the limit of two non-commercial yard signs allowed on a single residential parcel. Property owners would be able to display as many as they would like. Finally, we are looking to increase the amount of time each sign can be placed on a property from 60 days to 90 days.

Item #15, Resolution, agreeing to allowing refugee resettlement. I totally agree with this resolution. America was built on immigrants, and I don’t think our values should change.

Item #16, Anti-Hate resolution. I also agree with this, but think it should be amended to include ALL groups that are discriminated against, including sexual preference. I also think it should include city funding of public service announcements and education seminars about why we should accept those that are different to us. The issue I have with this resolution is that it would be hard to prosecute people for practicing their 1st Amendment rights. You may not like it that people HATE others for whatever reason, but you can’t criminalize ignorance. It is what it is. But you CAN hold out a hand, give them a hug, and explain to them why what they are doing is wrong. Prosecuting ‘Haters’ will only inflame them and make them more bitter. Working with their ‘attitudes’ and changing their opinions should be the ultimate goal. You only eliminate hate thru love, understanding and education.

‘Total Fabrication’ Sioux Falls City Councilor Erickson and Belfrage have a twisted view of the 1st Amendment

I can’t count the number of times I fell over laughing while listening to this conversation between councilor Erickson and Belfrage on his show this morning. They have a very jaded viewed of what is right and what is wrong. One of the better moments is when Erickson continues to talk about the ‘Freedom of the Press’. She knows that SF Biz is a for profit website that charges businesses and organizations to post articles. Hardly the ‘Free Press’. It’s no different than a paid advertisement from a political candidate. Which brings us to the number two problem, tax money was being used to promote a candidate. Sure, his name was only mentioned once, but it was mentioned, and it doesn’t matter if the article had 1,023 words (Erickson admits in the interview she counted them) or if it is a novel. A taxpayer funded entity PAID for an article that promotes a political candidate. All the fluff and puff in between is laughable.

I may load this interview on my I-Pod so when I am having a bad day I can have a good laugh about how ignorant these two are about freedom of speech.