Entries Tagged 'SF City Council' ↓

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Jan 19, 2021

Editor’s Note: I didn’t see it on the agenda, but their is rumor floating around at city hall that there is a plan to tear down the McKennan Park Band Shell because it has gone into disrepair (have we heard this one before) and that it would cost around a half to a million to fix. This may be another game the administration is playing to get private money raised to fix it. But we still ask the question, if the rumor is true, why aren’t these facilities being maintained by the Parks Department? Where is the money going?

Informational, 4 PM

• Hayward Park Master Plan Update

• Housing Fund, this program looks like a good start on something I have been pushing for over a decade, incentivize core neighborhood housing cleanup with tax incentives. I obviously don’t know all the details, but it will be interesting to see what this is.

Regular Meeting, 6 PM

6. Approval of Contracts;

Sub item #7, This agreement extends the use of Peakon in benchmarking employee engagement strategy, landscape, resources and project ricks. Core product subscription fees are attached, Peakon APS, To Establish Pricing, $160K (I couldn’t really tell you what this is but another leadership/manager training program. I’m starting to wonder if city managers work or just go to classes all day?)

Sub item #8, Agreement to provide Nutrition, Day Break Adult Care, Recreation, Social and Educational Activities, Workers on Wheels and Senior Insurance and Information Referrals, Active Generations, $60K. (While I am not opposed to helping this organization out, I’m trying to wrap my head around why it comes out of the Parks and Recreation budget? Another reach around with budgeting. This should just be a General Fund expense.)

Sub item #11, Citywide Interior Design, Provide interior design services, TSP, to establish pricing (Maybe the city should hire an art buyer and an apparel consultant for the city directors and their offices? Maybe we should also hire a professional chef to cater in food to them? Sorry, but how hard is it to put up a cubicle wall or pick out a cheap chair?!)

Sub item #12, Sioux Falls School District Transportation Funding Agreement, $78,515 (once again the city is supplementing the school district. I guess if they can’t get what they want by raising our property taxes they will also go after our sales taxes.)

Item #41, Ordinance, 1st Reading, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, GRANTING A NONEXCLUSIVE NATURAL GAS FRANCHISE TO NORTHWESTERN CORPORATION, DOING BUSINESS AS NORTHWESTERN ENERGY, A DELAWARE CORPORATION, TO FURNISH AND SELL NATURAL GAS TO THE CITY AND ITS INHABITANTS. (this will basically give NW the right to lay pipe with MidAmerican in new developments. I assume it will not affect customers who already get gas from MidAmerican. I’m all for it, I think the competition is good. I wish we had the option for electricity in Sioux Falls.)

Item #42, A RESOLUTION ADVISING AND GIVING CONSENT TO THE APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS TO CERTAIN CITIZEN BOARDS. I find it interesting that we are appointing a banker to the Main Street BID board;

Darrell Schmith, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for First PREMIER Bank, 33 years of financial experience, Volunteered with several organizations including Habitat for Humanity and the Helpline Center.

UPDATE: Who is running for Sioux Falls Mayor or City Council in 2022?

UPDATE: I got some more names thrown in the bucket. Matt Paulson has confirmed with me that at this time he is NOT planning on running for council. I have also heard from others that Joe Kippley, senior director of strategic partnerships at Sanford Imagenetics is interested in running for SE District that will be left open by Rick Kiley. I have also heard that Julian Julian Beaudion is interested in running for an At-Large position. Keep the updates coming!

Believe it or not, another city council and mayoral election is only a year from this April. I expect challengers to TenHaken to make an announcement this summer and council candidates in the Fall.

So who is done and who will run for those seats? I’m not sure, but have heard some speculation and rumors.

TenHanken’s 1st term ends in 2022. I am still not convinced he is running again, but I do expect some others to run whether he chooses to or not. Christine Erickson, Mike Huether, Greg Jamison and David Zoikates (He has already announced). While Paul hasn’t been real popular with me, he does have a good popularity rating with voters and if he chose to seek a second term he would be hard to beat.

At-Large, Janet Brekke. My guess is that Janet will run for a 2nd term, but she has plenty of time to decide.

At-Large Christine Erickson. Her 2nd term is up, and like I said, I think she may run for Mayor.

So who would run for those seats? I am not sure. Some names that has been thrown around is immigrant activist Taneeza Islam or Investor Matt Paulson.  But I think there are many candidates that want to run, like Zach DeBoer and Handsome Tom Hurlbert, but they may go after the low hanging fruit and challenge Curt Soehl in Central District who is also up in 2022. I’m not sure if Curt will seek a 2nd term, he doesn’t seem to like the job very much, he’s usually grumpy, sarcastic or both at the meetings.

In the Southeast, Ricky Lee Kiley’s 2nd term is up in 2022, but I can’t hardly speculate who would want to run in the Taupeville district. I’m sure it will be some dull moderate Republican.

I would like to see some changes, for instance in the At-Large, since two seats are up, they should just give the two seats to the two highest vote getters instead splitting up the races.

Tell me your thoughts on who you like to see run or changes to the election like ranked choice voting which would eliminate run-offs.

Sioux Falls City Council Public input about Public Input

At the meeting Tuesday night I spoke about two subjects; Covid Tourism (FF 20:00) and Prior Restraint (FF 30:50)

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Jan 12, 2021

Informational Meeting • 4 PM

• Tuthill House Resource Group: Thursday, January 7, 2021 (Council Member Brekke)

• Vacant Home Registration Fees For Historic Districts and Non-Historic Districts by Matt Tobias, Planning and Development Services Manager; and Diane deKoeyer, Neighborhood And Preservation Planner. As you can see, the city continues to NOT post documents in advance on SIRE to review before the meeting, so I have NO idea what this is about. I’m not a realtor or a rental home owner so my best guess is the city wants to register vacant homes on some list? Or charge for it? If anyone knows, send me a note.

Regular Meeting • 6 PM

Item #6, Approval of Contracts;

Sub Item #7, School Park Site Coordination – Marion Road Utility Relocate;
Amendment to relocation agreement, Xcel Energy, $42K. While I have no doubt this needs to be done AND Xcel has to do it, I wonder why the SFSD isn’t paying for this? The city isn’t building a new school, they are.

Sub Item #12, Option to Extend: Extending agreement for after-hours
answering service for various City departments, Helpline Center, $17,500. While the city DOES need a service, I don’t understand why this can’t just be electronic? Heck, even when you call city departments during the work week you rarely get a real person. I have called city councilor’s office numbers, the water department, the public works department, the attorney’s office and the mayors office and rarely had a real person answer during the day. I will say that when I do leave a message I do get a return call. I always chuckle how our Mayor consistently talks about 5G and taking on technological advances for the city but operates it like it is the 1960’s. We have a city council agenda page and video system that continues to fail, we have a city website that is nearly impossible to navigate and virtually have zero access to administrative actions (like ethics insurance). I have also heard from city employees that the city is extremely vulnerable to hacking. What this city needs is an IT Director that will come in and overhaul the entire system without the mayor tying their hands for accolades about free atta-boy coins and lapel pins.

Item #16-17, Resolutions, A RESOLUTION VACATING A PORTION OF THE ARROWHEAD PARKWAY RIGHT OF WAY, AS SHOWN ON EXHIBIT A. (Tracts 2-3 Willows Edge Addition) The hearing is going to be set for February 9. I’m not sure if this has to do with the controversy that happened early last year where several folks showed up to the Parks Board meeting and protested to vacation. We will see.

Item #18, Ordinance, A MOTION TO RECONSIDER AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, PROVIDING A PROVISIONAL ONE-TIME SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION TO FUND A COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH EDUCATION CAMPAIGN. (Health, $100,000) (The ordinance was considered at the meeting of January 5, 2021.) Last week there was talk that this will go towards an education program about getting a vaccination. While I agree with that, I don’t know why we are paying an outside ad agency to create this program as mentioned at the meeting. The city’s media department could easily create a PSA and put it on CityLink. They could also post on YouTube and Facebook at NO cost to taxpayers. We already pay city employees at Falls Community Health, The Health Director and Media services, we don’t need to waste $100K on an outside agency that will essentially tell people ‘Get a shot.’ On top of that, after the media department created the PSA they could distribute to the local TV stations and ask them to play it. We could also adapt it for radio and ask them to do the same. This is just another clever way the administration is finding a way to funnel money to his pals in the advertising world. The good news is that his former(?) ad agency will NOT be getting the contract. I guess they probably figured it would be hard for them to create a PSA about Covid Safety and Vaccination after running a campaign that promoted Covid Tourism.

Also, who doesn’t already know about the Covid vaccinations? It has been on the news for over a month. Sure there will be people that don’t want to get one, but at this point, it is NOT about education, it’s about getting enough doses in arms of the people who do want to get one. Shouldn’t we be getting them through the line first before worrying about the Q-NON anti-vaxxer weirdos?

Sioux Falls City Council discusses Ethics Attorney insurance at informational meeting

A South DaCola foot soldier sent this to me last week when I first posted about this;

Sioux Falls Human Resources Director Bill O’Toole sent an email on December 17, 2020 to let city of Sioux Falls elected officials know there will be changes in the South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance (SDPAA) policy for 2021. There are changes in it, that makes a person think, after the Neitzert impeachment, it was the result of falling out of the crazy tree and hitting every branch on the way down in order to protect the mayor and anyone connected to the illegal trips and other questionable actions.

Mayor and City Councilors,

The City will soon renew its Liability Coverage for calendar year 2021 with the South Dakota Public Assurance Alliance (SDPAA). I wanted take this opportunity to provide a general overview as we are about to enter the new year.

As an optional special endorsement, a new defense coverage is being offered for this upcoming calendar year for any public entities who have created their own ethics board. If a Member elects to purchase this additional coverage, then this special endorsement will provide an expert attorney to defend an elected official from the moment an ethics complaint is filed and through the entire administrative processing of that complaint from the hearing(s) before the public entity’s ethics board to the conclusion of any appeal hearing(s) before the local governing body (city council). This defense coverage will cover up to $10,000 in attorney fees and expenses per occurrence, or up to $20,000 aggregate for any calendar year. Please be aware that SDPAA panel counsel are retained at more competitive rates than those retained independently. This special endorsement will represent an additional annual premium of $7,500.00 and the Human Resources Department is in the process of securing this special endorsement for 2021.

Note how this additional coverage is only available to South Dakota members of SDPAA which have something called an “ethics process”. Why don’t they offer the other SDPAA members who don’t have an “ethics process” in their jurisdiction? It will only cover unethical behavior or accusations thereof if the jurisdiction has a pseudo ethics process. In other words, this is a corruption insurance rider. If a citizen or government entity decides there might have been unethical behavior caused by one of their elected officials, such as all-expense paid trip bordering on criminal tax evasion or at least unethical quid pro quo self-serving actions, SDPAA will now have additional coverage to pay for the defense of a Neitzert like clone or other elected officials when the offensive behavior is brought to light.

The Board of Ethics is a lay board of citizens, usually without legal background or training. Just thoughtful citizens of high integrity. The Board is not a court of law or does it have the ability to hand down legal conclusions. Board of Ethics decisions are not based on the low bar of legality but a higher bar of principles in their oath of office, promising high standards of moral, fair, non-political and conflict-free actions. The ethics board is not a legal body, only a board there to assist a city person find the ethical response to an issue or if a complaint, the probable cause the person did something which offends the senses of the community.

In Sioux Falls, our ethics board has as a charter function, to decide if ethical lapses occurred in a decision or action of a Sioux Falls government person. The only decision the ethics board can make when the question is presented, “was the issue raised frivolous or was there probable cause for the complaint”. If probable cause for the ethics complaint is found, the issue is then decided by the City Council and punishment if found is meted out.

Remember, the ethics board cannot find or decide a legal issue. Legality is not in the board’s purview. There simply is no legal decision the ethics board can make or find, only if there was a breach of a higher standard called ethics. There are criminal courts for legal issues with all the protections due criminal complaints.

This action by the SDPAA, if purchased by the city of Sioux Falls, will be to endorse the idea of the city paying for the defense, prosecution and exoneration of their elected officials at bargain basement legal rates. This paid for legal assistance for the elected person will start at the moment a complaint affidavit is filed in the city attorney’s office before there is any action other than a question was raised.

Note the policy will not cover employees who have been accused of the illegal or unethical behaviors only the mayor and city council members. This is corruption insurance for our elected officials, paid for by us by way of our taxes, to possibly make unethical behavior easier?

The current executive director of SDPAA is the former ringmaster of Sioux Falls city questionable behavior. When he was chief legal officer of the city, he made so many questionable things possible, to actually make them happen and then created the cover needed to make it look legal. Remember the Event Center siding study that was to be conducted and never happened? The Spellerberg MOU needed to build an indoor pool on borrowed land? A parking ramp to nowhere? A needed office building, just to satisfy the mayor who built to much? How about as the city attorney who had conflict of interest in an ethics board hearing where he represented the city AND the mayor AND the ethics board? He had to take the job over at SDPAA just so he could control the release of information and continue to protect himself for all his errant ways. Is the current SDPAA director supplying personal protection for the city at a bargain basement price to keep his fingers in the Dutch dike?

When looking at this added insurance, many things come to mind. Is this akin to a bribe to keep mouths shut? If you make any unapproved noise, the SDPAA will or won’t protect you? If a person was to run for office and asks or raises to many questions, will SDPAA decide not to cover the ramifications? Will it cover an official accused of criminal assault against a citizen?

So now, instead of the elected official paying attention to their ethical behavior, SDPAA and the city will cover any discovered activity. The elected person will not have to worry about the cost of the defense because once accused, SDPAA and the city will pay for their legal costs. For example, using the past cases brought before the ethics board (including the impeachment of Neitzert), the city would have had to pay all the costs for the lawyers hired to defend the accused person’s unethical behavior. Instead of just admitting the personal mistake and making it go away, the people of Sioux Falls end up having to pay for the defense of the unethical persons and their actions plus the prosecution costs.

What we citizens of Sioux Falls will be paying as part of the insurance bill this year, is a benefit for elected officials. A new policy clause to cover unethical corruption and criminal activity. Maybe we should start calling SDPAA, Your Source For Corruption Insurance.

EDITOR’S NOTE: After watching the meeting today where Brekke and Starr said that this is NOT an administrative decision, it is a city council decision (in which the rest of the council disagreed as well as the city attorney) what was revealing is that Neitzert admitted about 90% of his legal fees at his recent impeachment hearing were paid for by donations (around $15,000 he paid $2,000 himself). WOW! Who needs insurance with friends like that?! I encourage you to watch the video. As I have said, council wouldn’t need this rider if they would just act ethically, and if not, at least confess and apologize before lawyers have to be hired. I guess I’m not mad at Greg for what he did, I’m mad that he didn’t have the moral compass to just admit the wrong doing and take his medicine. Very cowardly.

LAST NOTE: I also see a reoccurring theme at the city council informational meetings, they don’t have enough time for presentations and questions because they moved the city council regular meeting up to 6 PM. We knew this would happen. In fact it was so tight, that councilors Neitzert and Kiley who were scheduled to attend the meeting on their phones were clearly voting at the beginning of the meeting while driving home in their cars because you could hear it. Once again, Sioux Falls city government is very predictable.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Brekke calls out public input 1st Amendment concerns

To my surprise, but something I have been concerned about, at the beginning of the city council meeting tonight, Brekke put on the record her objection to a section of how public input is conducted.

Remember when the city council moved public input to the back of the meeting recently (a 4-5 vote with tie-breaker from person of the year Mayor TenHaken) they specifically said that members of the public could not talk about decisions that were made final by the council during the meeting.

This is a clear violation of citizens 1st Amendment rights, as Brekke pointed out in her objection it concerns prior restraint;

Definition

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

Overview 

Prior restraint typically happens in a few ways. It may be a statute or regulation that requires a speaker to acquire a permit or license before speaking. Prior restraint can also be a judicial injunction that prohibits certain speech. There is a third way–discussed below–in which the government outright prohibits a certain type of speech. Courts typically disfavor prior restraint and often find it to be unconstitutional.

Basically Brekke points out that since decisions were already made during the meeting, voted on and final, the public has a right to address them and the government (city council or mayor) cannot limit them.

Even though Brekke’s opinion is NOT alone (there are many Supreme Court rulings about this) City Attorney Kooistra vehemently opposed her and basically told her she was wrong. It surprised me, actually astonished me how little the city attorney knows about 1st Amendment rights. From the mayor’s performance during the objection, it is clear he has no clue what 1st Amendment rights are, that has been blatantly obvious for a long time, but for an attorney with a law degree that has practiced in the military and in the private sector I would think he would be aware where the Supreme Court stands on this issue.

If Mr. Kooistra really wants to try out his Constitutional chops on this one, I would love to watch him get pummeled by a free speech attorney when someone from the public challenges this when the chair tries to shut them down for this ludicrous and unconstitutional rule violation. He may just get his day in the spotlight. Well, Mr. Kooistra, you know what Andy Warhol once said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Good luck.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Jan 5, 2021

Happy New Year! Before we get into the agenda I wanted to alert readers that there are a couple of issues I am working on that the TenHaken administration is ‘trying’ to keep away from public view, I will keep you updated once I get more information.

City Council Informational • 4 PM

Covid 19 Update from the health department

Regular meeting • 6 PM

Item #6 Approval of Contracts;

Sub Item #1, Planning and Housing, Offer to Purchase Real Estate; Gaukler Enterprises, Inc. – Closing costs, $226K. Some city hall moles told me that this is one to watch. I guess the city is purchasing this land for a supposed future Homeless Veteran’s shelter. Now I’m not sure if we are just buying the land and gifting it to the VA to build and maintain the shelter or if the city is planning on paying for the structure and maintaining it. Would have been nice to get an informational on this from the Planning/Housing department, oh I forgot, this administration HATES transparency.

Sub Item #13, another $19k towards the kitchen remodel at the Central Fire Station. With all the money being spent on this kitchen they may be able to make it into a new soup kitchen downtown.

Sub Items #20 Agreement to Provide Funding to assist LifeScape in providing transportation for their clients, $201k & #29, Provide partial funding to assist Dakotabilities in providing transportation for their clients, $400k+. It often surprises me when the city whines about how much public transit is draining the tax rolls than turns around and spends over $600K to assist private non-profits. While I do think the city should provide these rides there should be reimbursement through the Federal government. If there is, that needs to be explained to taxpayers.

Sub Item #21, Rail Yard Development – BNSF Occupancy Permit; Agreement
for temporary occupancy, $4,781. After giving millions away for land that wasn’t worth more than a couple of million to this entity (and that Federal taxpayers probably already owned) BNSF has the nerve to charge us a rental fee for using some of their supposed land. Unbelievable. Who was the rocket scientist with the city that negotiated this deal?

Sub Item #33, Provide operation services for the downtown SculptureWalk Program, $32,500. While I support funding to SW, I’m wondering what they spent last year’s supplement on? As you may or may not know is SW was suspended and no new sculptures (or very few) were brought in. Maybe with the pandemic the city should forgo this supplement this year.

Sub Item #34, City Website Consulting Services, Consultant will perform all work to City Website including production of all materials, products and modifications. RoundedCube, $1,700 per month. I’m curious why we need to hire a company that is based in St. Louis, MO to do this, especially when there are many very capable companies in Sioux Falls. The bigger question is why isn’t the city’s own IT department maintaining the site? I also think the city website is a POS and has been for a long time. It’s a navigation hell hole and getting data is a crap shoot. If I were the mayor tomorrow, I would revamp the site and I would get it done in 90 days. Ironically when I looked up RoundedCube yesterday the website was working, but it seems the company we hired to maintain our website can’t maintain their own site, this was the message I got today when I went there;

Items #33-34, The Bonus Round Bar on Cliff & Downtown will be putting in Video Lottery terminals. I guess while the Cliff location will mostly be a VL casino the DT location will still keep all the other pinball machines and games with the VL terminals. While I am not a fan of telephone booth casinos, at least I will be able to walk a block again to get a tasty micro-brew, I’ll just have to wear ear plugs 🙂

Item #38, the use of the unobligated fund balance of $100,000 for the 2021 health budget is authorized to fund a public health education campaign to encourage preventative measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. While we continue to throw money at our Covid Tourism campaign we are counter reacting to it by throwing more money on how to keep yourself safe from contracting Covid. Oh the pathetic irony.

Item #43, 2nd Reading, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, REZONING PORTION OF PROPERTY LOCATED AT SOUTHWEST OF W. 22ND ST. AND S. ELLIS RD. FROM THE O OFFICE DISTRICT TO THE LW LIVE/WORK DISTRICT, NO. 13281 2020, AND AMENDING THE OFFICIAL ZONING MAP OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS. It will be interesting to see how many residents show up to debate this move Tuesday night.

Item #46, 1st Reading,  AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, APPROVING TERMINATION OF THE RAILROAD SWITCH TRACK EASEMENT. I’ve read the supporting documents of this ordinance and it is about as clear as mud. It involves the downtown properties owned by Gourley and Sioux Steel. It seems like it has something to do with a rail track that isn’t used anymore.

Item #50, A RESOLUTION REMOVING UNCOLLECTIBLE, DELINQUENT ACCOUNTS FROM THE RECORDS. If you look at the supporting documents you will see 2 of the accounts were considered ‘confidential’. I’m not even sure if that is even legal. If the city, a public entity funded by taxpayers is writing off debt they need to make it public. The county commission does this every week. I’m still not sure if anyone competent is running the city attorney’s office. I still think my idea of terminating all the city attorneys and just hiring a para legal and a purchasing agent to run the department may be the best way to go.

Planning Commission Meeting • 6 PM • Wed Jan 6

Item #2C, we have another situation where we are changing a office zoned area to residential. Ironically the place is surrounded by office zoning. I think we are going to see a lot of this since the pandemic.

Item #7, Election of officers

Sioux Falls City CounTcilor Jensen’s final campaign finance report is revealing, but expected

What do you get when a hospital lawyer, an ad agency exec, a banker, a developer, an angel fund investor and a guy who does business out of a UPS Store PO Box join forces? One heck of a political action committee. (PAC)

We all knew that there would be more money funneled into Jensen’s campaign chest after the last finance report before the election. He received an additional $13K coming from the Buffalo PAC. Curiously he didn’t spend it all, in fact he only spent about $3K on the campaign in it’s waning days (Full report). Curiously he spent around $8,500 on legal fees ($1,000 donated). I’m assuming that was for the recount. What I find ironic is that with all the money and power swirling around the SD GOP who helped get Alex elected that not one single lawyer took him on pro-bono for the recount. Stehly’s (a Republican) attorney, the Chair of the SD Democratic Party, Randy Seiler offered his services for free to Theresa. So basically the donors to the Buffalo PAC and ultimately Jensen funneled money to a Republican Law Firm (Redstone). I know, mind boggling.

Curiously the PAC is registered to a Sioux Falls residential address, a home owned by a SF hospital attorney (not the green one) and an ad agency executive (the big one in town). Both of them also have a connection (still trying to figure out) to a Sioux Falls city director that TenHaken appointed. Strangely they were only used as conduit because none of them donated to the PAC.

So who did? Well the usual suspects, with two of them pouring thousands of dollars towards Alex through various PACs, family members and individual donations. I’m surprised they didn’t find a way to get dead relatives to give since it is against the law now to use your toddler children.

BUFFALO PAC DONORS:

Matthew Paulson – $5,000.00 (Jensen’s campaign treasurer and suspected manager)

Dana Dykhouse – $5,000.00

Crescent Venture Capital (Kevin Tupy ) – $2,000.00

Daniel Costello – $1,000.00

Yes, I know, not surprising since most of these characters already had been throwing money at Jensen’s campaign. I wonder if they knew he gave half of their donation to a law firm?

More transparency for Sioux Falls in 2021

Hopefully we will have Covid under control or at least manageable early summer. I have a feeling once the vaccine is available to the general public we will turn the corner very quickly. I also look forward to hopefully having a full season of The Levitt concert series. Heck even a half-season would be fine with me.

But my biggest concern in the city is the continuing decline of transparency in government. This is what happens when you put partisan hack authoritarian fascists in charge of local NON-PARTISAN government. Power goes straight to their heads and the way to control that power is thru secrecy. I also think these very un-democratic measures by our local government and state government may quell a bit when the orange menace in Washington is finally shown the door. The next 30 days is going to be the scariest and most embarrassing Trump circus we have ever seen.

I could certainly go on a very long rant about Mayor TenHaken’s lack of leadership and absence of intelligent decisions but where I really get worked up is his deep hatred for transparency. I really think his hatred comes from his years of being a partisan hack in the political advertising world. Keeping strategies from your opponent is essential to beating them. Unfortunately, Paul has carried that philosophy over to actually serving in office. He is also very keen on trying to punish his political enemies and it shows in his extreme paranoia he uses to justify his secrecy. I know he won’t make these changes on his own, so we may need to force his hand on a couple of these things in 2021;

• Hold weekly mayoral press conferences. This could be something as simple as 15 minutes of presentation and 15 minutes of questions from the press, at NOON on Tuesdays, live stream on YouTube and FB and replay in YouTube. This could be an essential step towards transparency. It would also require the mayor to educate himself with what is really going on in the city.

• Settle the Bunker Ramp lawsuit. This fiasco has been going on for far too long, this needs to be mopped up so we can try to promote a new development on the site. The bunker ramp is a prime example of the ultimate failure of local government on so many levels. City employees, dubious developers, two mayors and around 10 city councilors royally screwed us on this deal. I would really like to see a formal apology sometime in 2021 from those involved in this fraud against taxpayers. But like most authoritarians who love secrets, no one will ever come clean on this. The denial so pathetic I have often said everyone involved should either resign or be fired.

• Revoke Sioux Steel’s TIF. We still have no idea where this project is going, and since it has already been delayed for a year, it is time to revoke the original TIF. If they still do the project, it is obvious it will change from the original intentions, which means they must apply for a new, down scaled TIF, or better yet, NO TIF at all. This is another example of the highly secretive planning department that works quietly behind the scenes with developers to ‘recommend approval’ (ironically, something else that needs to be revoked in 2021 also).

• Overhaul the TIF program. As I have suggested for over a decade, the TIF program should be moved into the community development office and short term property tax rebates should be given to individual home owners and small rental properties for cleaning up properties in Central and Proper Sioux Falls. I actually believe cleaning up the core of our city (private properties, sidewalks, streets, curb and gutter, street lights, etc.) would have an enormous impact on the local economy. In fact studies done across the nation have shown that cleaning up cities from the inside out and creating strong density in the core boosts the local economy. Instead of dumping millions into new infrastructure in cornfields in Lincoln county we need to concentrate on cleaning up our core.

• Eliminate SIRE for good. This POS City Council online agenda reference service has been broken for as long as I can remember. If the software was an employee it would have been fired 15 years ago. The city continues to dump money into this joke of a system, and with all the technological advances you would think the city would have replaced it by now. But see, the city likes it this way, it gives them an excuse for hiding agenda items from us. The city’s legal department has also been titling agenda items with no direct references to what the agenda item is about. This is also an attack on open government and needs to end.

• City Council Ethics rules overhaul. There are no clear ethics rules. Every time the council gets tried for a possible violation, they slither out of it by claiming it is too vague or broad. And even if there is proof a councilor or mayor violated ethics, as did Neitzert and TenHaken, the majority of the council dismisses the charges. The ethics board isn’t much better, often claiming ‘law’ permits councilors to violate ethics, though they have nothing to do with each other. I also have the right to say ‘F’ck’ a thousand times a day in public, but ethically know that is probably not such a good idea.

• Public input needs to be moved to the beginning of the meetings again. Of course we will probably have to wait until the next municipal election in 2 years to overturn this moronic and authoritarian move, but in the meantime we plan to have a little fun with the move and some possible 1st Amendment ‘challenges’.

• A major overhaul of the Home Rule Charter. This was attempted with ‘Triple Check the Charter’ but the Rat Finks prevailed. Next time around we will take on a new approach and when the smoke clears, they will wish the last attempt passed because the 2nd attempt isn’t going to be pretty and if it passes, there won’t be a lot of people standing.

We need to return transparency to City Hall in 2021 and not only get it back, but make it more open than it has ever been and put the changes permanently in place. Open government not only saves taxpayers money but makes government more efficient. Also, a well informed public functions better and gets more involved with important decisions in our community.

Here’s hoping for a better 2021, one with more information and less viruses and orange people.

It is time for the City of Sioux Falls to stream meetings on YouTube

What has often baffled me about Mayor TenHaken being this supposed tech geek is that he hasn’t embraced the simplest of technologies, that are ironically free. Cities across the nation have been using the FREE service of YouTube to stream their meetings (and keep a FREE record of them) for a long time. The South Dakota cities of Rapid City and Mitchell use the service. Locally the Minnehaha County Commission and the Sioux Falls School Board use it. Even the City of Sioux Falls has it’s own channel but only posts a handful of CityLink propaganda shows and a few press conferences preferring to stream only on Facebook (which you have to subscribe to).

Besides the fact that there is NO subscription required to watch the meetings on YouTube and the service is essentially FREE to the city and taxpayers, it helps with access and transparency. Also, increasingly, the service the city uses to stream official city council meetings, SIRE, is failing us, it has for over a decade and it is getting worse and worse. Last week only half of the informational was streamed live in SIRE and there was another meeting where only audio was working (I think it was the planning meeting).

Is YouTube perfect? No. But it has a good track record and seems to work just fine for thousands of other local governments across the country.

I told someone that the city has probably chosen to NOT use YouTube streaming because they can’t waste money on it and it wasn’t one of their new fangled ideas. In fact the former mayor had the media department purge hundreds of YouTube videos on their site before he left office. To this day we don’t know why.

But the real reason this mayor and his administration refuse to do this is because THEY HATE TRANSPARENCY AND OPEN GOVERNMENT.

Bottling up all that Hate Paul isn’t good for you . . . or us.