Entries Tagged 'SF City Council' ↓

TenHaken says, ‘No Haters’!

I first want to say that I think this resolution is a good idea;

Mayor Paul TenHaken next week will introduce a resolution to the city council condemning hate, a move endorsed by the city’s Human Relations Commission.

“Hate has no place in Sioux Falls,” TenHaken said in a news release Thursday afternoon. “I’m proud to stand with the Human Relations Commission and condemn bias, discrimination and hate in Sioux Falls.

“With this resolution we reaffirm our belief that hate has no place in Sioux Falls and remind the public of ways to report discrimination to the City,” he added.

We should all disavow hate. I am actually embarrassed that in 2020 we have to pass resolutions to tell people to stop being racist jerks.

But this resolution has many procedural and intent problems. It’s nothing but some feel good reach around more than anything else. I also find it ironic that this resolution is being proposed right after the human relations attorney with the city announced he is running for State’s Attorney.

Kawinky-Dink? I think not.

So what are the issues;

1) It has no teeth. It just basically says that the city doesn’t like people being racist. Well Lah-De-Dah. I guess I am unaware of ANY city official, whether elected or employed who thinks it is a good idea to be racist. And in my personal life I ‘try’ to stay away from these people. So basically this is just a ‘memo’ or ‘sticky note’ from the mayor’s office.

2) The mayor should not be legislating. As I have told you fine folks in the past, according to charter, the city council is responsible for legislating and the mayor should run the city. As I mentioned above, this is just a campaign hat trick for the city’s human relations attorney, Daniel Haggar.

3) The mayor avoids gay pride events. I can’t tell you if PTH thinks gay peeps are ‘Icky’. Many have suspected that he does, but I have never seen him say anything publicly about it except at Dem Forum when he was running for office in which he stated that he was not ‘homophobic’. But what I find interesting about this resolution is that it did not include the LGBTQ community, or many other minority groups, like people of Muslim or Jewish faith that are discriminated against consistently. If we are going to pass a resolution disavowing hate, shouldn’t it cover all the bases?

This isn’t a Paul TenHaken issue, it is a bigger issue with politics in general starting with the top down, it’s all about ‘image’ instead of ‘substance’. If we really want to take a stand we need to pass ordinances that has teeth, otherwise this isn’t worth the paper it is written on. On top of that, hate speech is protected by the 1st Amendment, so is this a violation of our constitution?

We make change through education, and teaching people how not to hate. A more fitting resolution would be for the city to set up a grant program that funds seminars on teaching people about different cultures, creeds and sexual preferences. I have often told people that moving to a suburb of Seattle from a farm in South Dakota when I was 16 to live with my dad was the best cultural education of my life. I will sum it up really quickly, everybody has the same hopes and dreams as you do, no matter their color or creed. The city needs to educate people about cultures instead of handing out back rubs, sticky notes, lapel pins and pens.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Stehly was on the attack yesterday, and it was the ‘Good Fight’

First, the obvious – The First Amendment DOES not protect free speech when comes to using tax dollars to promote a political candidate. This doesn’t even take a Constitutional scholar to figure it out. This is why Trump was impeached in Congress. He was withholding tax dollars to help his presidential candidacy.

While I understand a local entrepreneur casually mentioning a city council candidate he is helping out in an article funded by two institutions that receive some tax funding (state and city) may seem not as grand as what our president did, it is still worth talking about and correcting.

I was extremely irritated that some elected officials on the council chose to defend this obvious violation of free speech rights and state law.

Just because you violate campaign rules ‘a little bit’ doesn’t make it alright. That essentially was their argument.

While what councilors Brekke, Stehly and citizen Bruce Danielson said may have been uncomfortable, it was very appropriate to say and the right time to say it, in a public meeting. No one was advocating to arrest anyone, no one was going to throw some one in jail or fine them. This was simply an effort to ‘nip it in the butt’ before it became common place. People make mistakes, we get it.

Over the past day, I have told several people that Matt Paulson (Alex Jensen’s quasi-campaign manager, treasurer and fundraiser) did nothing wrong, neither did Siouxfalls.business. Stehly wasn’t attacking them, she was simply telling the Sioux Falls Development Foundation (and I guess DSU) that moving forward they should not promote certain candidates because they receive public money.

This isn’t an attack, it’s a fact, and many journalists and citizens agree.

We know what’s going on here, and we have been seeing this across the state for several years. The Republican establishment (a very small elitist group) has controlled our State House for almost 50 years, and they are trying to take control of our County Commissions, State’s Attorney offices and other non-partisan government entities like city councils and school boards. I want to clarify, I have voted for ‘good’ Republicans (like Stehly, Brekke, Staggers and Jamison) on these non-partisan bodies, because they have integrity and want to keep party affiliation out of politics. The group I am referring to is a very small group of ‘know it all’ elitist, establishment Republicans that want to control their business interests, and they see an opportunity here, though their actions look more like ‘amateur hour’.

I have said it already, they are using candidates like Jensen for city council, Cynthia Mickelson for school board and State’s Attorney candidates like Haggar and Bengford to stack the deck and implement their pro-corporate welfare of government, these are NOT Republicans in the sense of tradition, these are elitist greed mongers that only pray to one God; money. Don’t believe me? Why else would the South Dakota GOP Chair, a Jewish Iowa businessman lobby for an Islamic theocratic government? Because party doesn’t matter, only money and greed.

So yes, Stehly was on the attack yesterday. She was attacking greed, corruption, partisanship, lack of integrity and lack of open government. And not just ‘a little bit’ but a lot.

UPDATE: Just How does the Sioux Falls Development Foundation use our money?

Just for clarification on the video below, it may have been Rick Kiley who actually said ‘More Fabrication’ and NOT Neitzert, but we are uncertain.

UPDATE: Stehly questioned the head of the Development Foundation today at the informational meeting about this. It was a good discussion. I think Brekke and Danielson explained the reason why this isn’t protected speech;

Councilor Janet Brekke as well as civic watchdog Bruce Danielson countered, though, saying because the Sioux Falls Development Foundation receives public funds, it is held to a higher standard when it comes to political speech.

State Law on this is also very clear;

Universal Citation: SD Codified L § 12-27-20

12-27-20. Expenditure of public funds to influence election outcome prohibited. The state, an agency of the state, and the governing body of a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state may not expend or permit the expenditure of public funds for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of any candidate, or for the petitioning of a ballot question on the ballot or the adoption or defeat of any ballot question. This section may not be construed to limit the freedom of speech of any officer or employee of the state or such political subdivisions in his or her personal capacity. This section does not prohibit the state, its agencies, or the governing body of any political subdivision of the state from presenting factual information solely for the purpose of educating the voters on a ballot question.

Source: SL 2007, ch 80, § 20.

I was happy to hear the head of the Development Foundation say that the board will look into this.

The taxpayers of Sioux Falls have donated millions of tax dollars to the SFDF for supposed workforce development. So how do they spend their money? They buy an article on Siouxfalls.business about the treasurer of Alex Jensen’s council campaign, Matt Paulson. Can you say possible conflict of interest?

This paid piece is sponsored by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

While I don’t take issue with them paying for an article about Paulson, he has many achievements, I take issue with an organization who receives tax dollars from us (even if it is coming out of a different ‘pool’) on a person who is currently engaged with at least one city council race (maybe two).

The SFDF should have steered clear of this possible conflict. I do think they are a decent organization that does some good in our community, but when you are receiving tax dollars and other special incentives from the city and citizens, this just looks bad.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Councilor Neitzert’s donation list; Quid Pro Quo?

Okay, I jest. I’m not comparing Greg to Donnie boy, but there are some strange similarities between who cut Greg checks and certain votes he has cast over the past 4 years.

You may not recognize some of these names, but if you look at the ones highlighted, they have all benefited from some of the stances and votes Neitzert has taken. Kirby Muilenberg especially stands out, with all his convoluted VL Casino ordinances.

At least with Alex Jensen, he hasn’t cast any votes yet on the council, but Neitzert’s donor list screams ‘follow the money.’

While I don’t support his candidacy this time around, because he turned his back on his promise of open and transparent government, I think Neitzert could easily be re-elected simply based on his incumbency, and he really didn’t need to raise this kind of money. Like Jensen, I think the establishment Republicans are using Greg as a strange experiment of trying to control non-partisan local governments in our state, and it makes me a little sick to my stomach.

TenHaken’s goofy PAC also gave $250 towards Neitzert’s campaign. I guess the Man-Children need to stick together.

Keep your eye on Greg though, his re-election may not be such a ‘sure thing’. There are also some powerful forces behind his opponent that are working hard behind the scenes, and I’m not talking about the small donation from Randy Seilor.

For the record, I am NOT involved with any city council races as of today. That may change, but I may be sitting this one out.

UPDATE: Ironically Greg posted this on FB two days ago. I guess he knows me well. He also knows I know him very well . . . Nothing like killing the messenger before I even show up to the forum 🙂

Hey Greg, it’s kind of hard to respond to an online attack that didn’t happen for another two days. And really, it’s not an attack, it’s the truth.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Jan 7, 2020

Informational Meeting, 4 PM

Presentations on the following (no PDF doc links to content);

• Water Reclamation Facility Improvements and Expansion Project Update

• Partner Organization Agreements (Sioux Falls Development Foundation, USD Discovery District, Downtown Sioux Falls, Southeast Technical Institute)

• Metro Communications 911 Center – Public Safety Training Center Partnership Discussion

Regular Meeting, 7 PM

Item #6, Approval of Contracts.

• (Sub item #2) It sure didn’t take long, Pavilion takes over the Orpheum and they are quick to spend our money on maintenance. $90K on the boilers.

• (Sub item #8) It seems taxpayers are on the hook for legal counsel on the TIF for Sioux Steel, for $6K. Shouldn’t this be paid for by the recipient of the TIF?

• (Sub item #17) The Convention center is getting over $400K in boiler replacement.

Item #42, Golden Gateway issue is back on the agenda for a 1st Reading.

Item #43, REPEALING THE ORPHEUM THEATER ADVISORY BOARD OF DIRECTORS. Now that the Pavilion has taken over the Orpheum, they will no longer have a citizen advisory board. This is unfortunate.

Item #51, Audit Report, Landfill Licensing. This will be an interesting topic of conversation.

UPDATE II: Mysterious LLCs donate $2,500 to Jensen’s campaign

UPDATE II: Here is an updated Jensen donor list with references to the businesses/employment the donors are associated with.

This is even better where it breaks down it down into donor groups.

Besides the fact that Alex has gotten $10,000 from Dennis Dopey our former governor, he also raked in big contributions from local developers and banksters in town. READ FULL REPORT.

Less than 7% was small donations of $100 or less.

But one of the most interesting contributions came from a list of 3 LLC’s ran by this guy, Kevin Tupy. They all have the same PO box address at the UPS store. I always get a kick out of how people try to hide their identity when giving to political campaigns or wiggling around the rules. If Tupy gave individually he would have only been able to give $1,000 but this little trick was able to put his contribution up to $2,500 while hiding his identity. Notice he did NOT give an individual donation.

Even more interesting is that Mr. TenHaken’s PAC did not give any money to Jensen. No worries, I’m sure he will be plugging money into it the second round of fundraising because that report won’t come out until right before the election.

Even though Jensen has raised a lot of money, I’m curious when he will actually be campaigning? Even if Stehly does not run (I think she will) wouldn’t you want to be campaigning in case you have another challenger? I have heard NOTHING about his stances on the issues. Does he have any? People have told me he knows little about city government and will get mopped by Stehly in any forum or debate.

I still believe Stehly can beat Jensen by at least 6 points without spending a single penny. And if she does, there is going to be a lot of sore LLCs and PACs in town 🙂

UPDATE: I also find it interesting that $18,000 in donations came from out of Sioux Falls ($10K-Daugaard, $8K from other towns). Mostly from High Profile Republicans and PACS, this tells me they are making this race partisan. While I did see a ‘couple’ of the donors are indies or Dems, that I know of, this is about getting an ‘establishment’ Republican elected. Stehly, though a Republican, has always performed her roll non-partisan (because, that is what the seat is). I think there are people in the party who want to kick her out, but I also know there are many that like her.

There was a recent Argus article/survey it asked people to identify local politicians, media, celebrities, etc. Theresa was on the survey, she got 44% of people being able to recognize her. Christine Erickson was on the survey to, she got 26%. Would have been interesting to see Jensen and Huether on the list.

SF Councilor Theresa Stehly 44%

Governor Kristi Noem 90%

Sen. John Thune 85%

Sen. Mike Rounds 83%

Rep. Dusty Johnson 80%

Mayor Paul TenHaken 75%

Councilor Christine Erickson 26%

SFSB President Cynthia Mickelson 21%

Lt. Governor Larry Rhoden 15%

I told a friend last night that if Stehly decides to run, the best move by Alex would be to drop out, send the donations back and save himself the embarrassment.

Sioux Falls Audit Process for 2020 loaded with Conflicts

Just when you think we can start having real discussion without conflicts of interest or just conflicts, we have the Chair of the Sioux Falls Audit Committee Greg Neitzert pouring more salt into the wounds. On December 2nd and 17th of 2019 Neitzert proceeded to highlight the recent monster mistake he made having a closed selection process for the Council’s Internal Audit manager. Now watch how he also is having to clean up the mess now encompassing 4 (count them) four possible ethics complaints being filed or other possible repercussions. Looks like being a little autocratic is like being a little bit pregnant? 

He told us we were wrong to question his process, guess who was really wrong, again?

Sioux Falls Citizen Advocate asks great question about building permit valuations

Mark Weber is a regular inputer at council meetings, mostly on economic issues (I believe he has an economics degree). He recently sent this email to a city councilor;

For a long time (years) the finance department provides monthly graph of value of building permits, and a comparison to at least the previous couple of years.  I would be interested in knowing both the value and percentage of building permits that become part of the tax base, which would give a more realistic indicator, ie. projects of the city (public sector), non-profits (hospital), portion of private enterprise or public / private partnership that have been granted TIF.  I don’t believe any of this becomes part of the tax base (TIF’s eventually in 20 years).

Has anyone on the council already asked this question and I am unaware of the results?  I think this would be useful information to the taxpayers of Sioux Falls.

I have been an advocate for several years that when it comes to building permit valuations for the year it should be separated into categories, as Mark has suggested. Public projects and non-profits that don’t pay property taxes really can’t be put in the same basket. It was a way for city administrators to inflate numbers. Just look at the new Jefferson HS project. I can guarantee that we wouldn’t have even gotten close to last year’s record without it on the books. If they are paying NO property taxes (actually costing us), or are receiving rebates in the form of TIFs and BIDs how can it be a true economic indicator? It’s not, it’s just propaganda. I have asked the council for years to demand the administration break down the numbers and give a true representation.

The Bunker Ramp, the gift that keeps giving

So we hire someone with (several) conflicts of interest and we have to make new ordinances to tamp them down. Dumb.

Guidelines for dealing with conflicts of interests between auditors and city staff who oversee parking first need to be in place, said Councilor Greg Neitzert, who chairs the city’s audit committee.

“First we need to get the conflict of interest policy in place. Then you can start the process of who’s going to run point on (an audit),” Neitzert said. 

When Shana Nelson was hired as internal audit manager for the city last year, officials stated then that should the parking system ever be audited, Nelson wouldn’t be a part of that work. Nelson is married to Sioux Falls Parking Manager Matt Nelson.

Gee, Councilor ‘Friends and Family Plan’ wasn’t this brought up when we were basically moving Shana from one department to another? It seems we will never get to the bottom of what the Hell is going on with the parking department and Bunker Ramp.

I’m not sure a policy needs to be in place, maybe we should just hire someone who doesn’t have a conflict. Though I will admit that I have been impressed with Shana’s professionalism in the audits she has presented so far. Maybe she really is a ‘Rock Star’?

I have also been made aware that Greg pulled this from his sanitized butt and other councilors/members on the audit committee had no idea he was going to propose this and first found out about it reading the article.

Like the hiring of Nelson, I guess Greg thinks the audit committee is his little dictatorship. It’s good to be King.

Local Political Hero of 2019; Theresa Stehly

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. (Stehly at one of her numerous outreaches at Benson’s Flea market.)

I’ll get the uncomfortable part out of the way first. Theresa is my friend, a very good friend. In fact almost every time I have a conversation with Theresa, she asks how I am doing first. My career, my family, my faith and my health. She starts most conversations this way and I am sure she does it with all of her friends. She cares, even if she has a big mouth. It’s kind of cool, and it’s kind of her.

So why would I place my friend on this pedestal? Even if I didn’t know her personally, you have to admit you can’t ignore her perseverance. I have often said that Theresa may not get much legislation on the Sioux Falls city council passed, but she makes a difference. Here are a few examples;

• Potholes. After her and councilor Starr’s proposal to give a million dollars towards potholes fails, the mayor ramps up the program and puts several crews on it.

• The same could be said about the tornado cleanup. After she pressures the administration for city assistance, the city employees step up and provide the assistance. It goes one step further with Governor Noem securing Federal FEMA aid.

• After she meets with the prison warden, the mayor decides to use more prison labor. Which I think is a great step towards rehabilitation and repaying a debt to society, as well as learning good work and life skills.

• She helps compromise a deal with Lifescape’s street closure proposal, making the much needed organization in the community work with neighbors on a solution.

• One of the only councilors to respond to constituents on a regular basis, turning her part-time position into extra overtime and compassion for citizens.

• Organizing a meeting with Whittier Neighborhood businesses to work on solutions for intoxicated transients.

• While her texting legislation of the city council fails, she has gotten them on their toes to pay closer attention to the meetings instead of their phones.

• Bringing beekeeping to Sioux Falls, even though some Negative Nancy’s on the council have treated potential beekeepers as public nuisances instead of encouraging natural food production.

• Giving almost daily reports on social media about city issues and publishing a monthly column, ‘The Stehly Report’ in a weekly shopper.

• Making Sioux Falls neighbors well aware of annexation intentions and putting the meetings in the fore front.

• Having the courage to call out the conflict of interest hiring of the new internal auditor with no auditing experience.

• Doing the same with the online tool salesman who got appointed our technology manager of the city so he could fly around the country and tell us the latest museum he is boozing at on Mayor Bloomberg’s dime.

• Shortly after the local paper railed on her about ‘grandstanding’ they reported about the failed Bunker Ramp downtown something Stehly has fought hard from the beginning due to corruption, special deals, wasting taxpayer money and the general lack of government transparency.

• Speaking of Big ‘T’ and the ‘T’ word. While Stehly has gotten a lot of flack about her big mouth, it has helped to open government up to the people. Her almost daily and weekly rants about open government and transparency has gotten her a reputation, and it’s not so bad. She has the elite in town trying to raise $150K for her opponent, even though she has not announced. Of course they are scared, they should be. Loose lips sink ships, and the big ship builders in town are worried about another 4 years of Stehly. She has interrupted their ‘progress’ at the detriment of the rest of us working stiffs.

While her ‘style’ isn’t always in favor, her results have been astounding. That’s why I am calling Theresa Stehly the local government hero of 2019, and if she runs again in 2020, she will win in a landslide, spending only the pennies she pulled out of the seats of her late model Toyota, to the detriment of failed, corrupt, state employees blogging from podunk towns 40 minutes away.