Entries Tagged 'SF City Council' ↓

Sioux Falls City Council meeting Sep 8, 2020 recap

Bravo to Councilor Pat Starr for being the only city councilor to vote against the property tax increase, he also gave a great speech about it. There was ZERO open discussion from the rest of the council, they just bowed their heads and did as their masters told them to do. RAISE TAXES!

During public input a citizen shamed the council (except councilors Starr and Brekke and former councilor Stehly) for not doing the right thing when it comes to evictions, the Feds had to step in.

Many people showed up tonight to talk about the importance of funding the municipal band, including many veterans. No mention of suckers or losers, which was good. Councilor Starr proposed a multi-year contract amendment. Councilor Kiley and Soehl tries to downplay it with some poppycock about a future ‘study’. We know how this goes.

The Police and Fire union contracts were approved, little talk about the contract with the rest of city employees.

Neitzert’s ethics hearing was voted on. The circus started by Greg’s attorney’s claiming Starr and Brekke should recuse themselves because they colluded with Mr. Cunningham. Silly. It is actually hilarious. If they provided Mr. Cunningham with documents, they were all PUBLIC. PUBLIC. Not anything private or privledged. Don’t be fooled by the legal mumbo-jumbo. Greg’s attorney claims this was a political attack, but Greg is the one who violated ordinance not Starr or Brekke. A political attack is accusing someone of something they did not do. Greg did it. How do you attack someone who is guilty? Guilt is guilt.

Greg’s attorneys are extremely sloppy. Emails between city councilors and citizens and conversations between city councilors and citizens are public property. Not collusion. And to make that assumption is ludicrous.

Shawn ‘Tornado’ Tornow blows the whole thing up. Good stuff. Even Gregs’ attorney could not pronounce Greg’s last name right. LOL. What is a Nit Zert?

Well, I’m not sure much was accomplished except that the hearing is at 6 PM at Carnegie on Thursday. I doubt the city camera’s will be rolling, but I am sure Bruce’s will.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda Sept 8, 2020

City Council Informational Meeting • 4 PM

Presentations on CARES Act Funding, Floodplain regulation ordinances and a Bump Back ordinance proposal by councilor Soehl. There are no supporting documents (as usual) because this council and mayor HATE transparency. But as I understand the Bump Back ordinance is it would allow a director who resigns that position or asked to resign can go BACK to a civil service lower position instead of leaving all together. Dumb.

City Council Regular Meeting • 7 PM

Item #18, 1st Reading, Raise property taxes by 1.7% (yearly option to increase). Isn’t it ironic that in the middle of a pandemic, a down economy and a record unemployment rate that the city council is considering a property tax increase. Just putting this on the agenda proves they intend to pass it, and I have no doubt in my mind it will probably pass 7-1 with little discussion. I don’t think it has been voted down in at least 15-20 years. The irony is that the council likes to say they are looking out for the citizens and have financial restraint, but any chance they get they raise taxes and fees, than turn around and hand out TIF’s, tax reductions and corporate welfare to the very people who own their sorry asses, the banksters and developers in town while the rest of us working (and non-working) stiffs foot the bill. And mark my words, if Mr. Sanford is indicted (which he has not been yet), we will be footing the bill to tear that sign off of the Denty.

Item #27, A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR TO ENTER INTO THE JOINT PUBLIC SAFETY ANSWERING POINT AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS AND MINNEHAHA COUNTY. This is also ironic that we are agreeing with the County to build a new Metro 911 facility yet we can’t agree on how to put a ballot drop box in front of a library. Mayor Stoneless has claimed it is a matter of state law saying ballots need to be delivered to the election manager (Auditor Litz) – which is true. Bob hasn’t asked the city to manage the ballots in those boxes, in fact he doesn’t want the city to touch them at all, he just wants the collection system to sit on city property that is also funded by the county via the Siouxland Libraries (which in some respects gives the county some jurisdiction). I’m not sure if Paul has ever TAKEN any law classes, but my interpretation of the law is pretty clear, and once again his ignorance of law and leadership shines thru, blatant voter suppression. And that folks is against the law, if only we had the capital to prove it.

Items #28-29, Resolutions for Police and Fire union contracts. As I understand it the Police are getting a 6.5% raise and Fire is getting 2.5%. So what is missing on the agenda? All the other union city employees under AFSCME. I have heard that members voted down the city’s offer of a 0% raise and rightfully so. We will see how they dance around this Tuesday night.

Item #30, a resolution to reinstate the Municipal band funding. I’m hearing some councilors will be proposing an amendment to make it a 5 year contract. The amendment is strangely not on the agenda.

Items #31-33, Greg Neitzert’s public ethics hearing is set for 6 PM, Thursday, Sept 10 at Carnegie Hall. After months of folly and foot dragging, Greg will finally get his day! Yippee! I can almost guarantee this will be some of the greatest municipal theater we have ever witnessed. I can tell you how this will play out, Greg will claim there was some grand plot to take him out (by a single retired dude) who colluded with some mysterious group of people (who shared some publicly owned public documents (emails). And another grand scheme that this retired dude had a publicly posted ordinance/chapter number slipped to him in the dark of the night. So his defense will be people colluded with Mr. Cunningham to give him public documents. The shame! The shame! Who dares to bring the public along on the ride! Which is funny, because Neitzert is the one who violated the ordinance, so his defense is to kill the messenger. Kind of reminds you of the golfer in chief in D.C. I hope he says during his hearing that it is a witch hunt and a hoax. Icing on the cake.

Sioux Falls City Council Meeting, Sept 1, 2020

It was another lively night at the city council meeting. During public input, once again the Municipal Band was brought up to be saved, and once again you could hear the mayor audibly sighing into his microphone. Hey you brought this on yourself. Probably one of the stupidest things I have ever seen a mayor do.

Bob Kolbe (I think it was him, hard to tell with a mask on). Ripped into the council a bit about ethics and drop boxes for voting. Another citizen also piped up about ballot drop boxes, I think her best line was, “In case you haven’t noticed we are the middle of a Covid Pandemic.” AND “If you are telling us it is unsafe to vote in person, unsafe to vote by mail, and unsafe to vote by drop boxes, it is pretty evident you are trying to suppress our votes .” (paraphrasing).

Sierra also appeared to remind the council that legitimate and legal massage therapists are sick of the prostitution and men harassing them because of the illegitimate therapists. I’ll tell you why it is taking so long for these places to be shut down, because a lot of elite individuals in town frequent these places, and we certainly can’t have their extracurricular activities shut down. I also don’t think Mayor Stoneless understands the gravity of the situation, neither does our Chief of Police who last night was more concerned about building his $52 million dollar training center (which we will bond for instead trying to acquire some Federal Dollars – now that’s leadership folks).

It also appears another apartment building will be pushed through though the neighbors (homeowners) don’t want it since it was originally zoned as office. Of course the accolades for how great developers are were ensued by the RS6.

Greg Nutzert’s ethics challenge was also read into the record, and now the city has to spend another $5,000 for legal representation on the matter and had to hire a law firm. Greg, you can stop this circus before it turns into a 3 ring extravaganza, admit guilt and apologize so we can all move on. I might even buy you a jug of hand sanitizer . . . nevermind . . . you should probably pay for that yourself 😊

Councilor Neitzert could end the ethics circus

As we all know by now, Councilor Greg Neitzert is in the center of an ethics challenge. Let’s recap;

• While Greg was at a partisan political event in Texas he decided to email the entire council about the trip. Mind you, he did this WHILE attending the event, NOT before. He also didn’t ask his colleagues in advance if they thought it was OK to attend an event paid for by the event sponsor. And here is the kicker, he still has NOT given a written or oral report to the entire council of what he learned.

• A citizen, John Cunningham obtained a copy of the email Greg sent. Which, BTW, was not marked confidential and sent to the councilors official email addresses. In other words, public property. Anyone had a right to read or obtain a copy of the email.

• As understand the situation, Mr. Cunningham was so upset about the blatant ethics and code violation, he filed a complaint to the Board of Ethics. Unfortunately, he filed the complaint siting the chapter in ordinance that pertains to city employees and NOT elected officials. Instead of the BOE correcting the chapter mistake at the first hearing by simply making a motion, they threw it out, so John had to refile it with the correct reference.

• Neitzert asked for confidentiality in the matter from the beginning, I assume because he was running for re-election. Since the City attorney had a conflict, they used outside independent counsel. Which has cost the taxpayers around $7,000 and maybe more before this is all done.

• After the correct chapter was referenced, the hearing began behind closed doors. The BOE met three separate dates in private before rendering a letter that basically said that Greg was in violation, but it wasn’t a big deal. Saying it was common practice. This part in the letter continues to confuse me. I’m trying to figure out what other councilor or elected official has done this (not asking permission and taking partisan money). I could find only ONE official that has done this for the past two years on repeated occasions; Mayor TenHaken.

• After the city council received the letter they claimed to be confused about what to do with it, Council Erraktison said it was ‘clear as mud’. I will admit, the first time I read it, it was pretty murky, but after a couple of times, it was clear to me that Greg was in violation of city ordinance. They returned it to the BOE for clarification, which didn’t sit well with them and they said to re-read it.

• Days before the BOE thru the letter back at the Council, Nietzert stupidly sent a letter to the BOE asking for it to be thrown out, without the advice of his attorneys. He also went on The Greg Belfrage show and spewed all kinds of things like suggesting that Cunningham (a private citizen) colluded with other councilors to do a political hit job on him before an election. As far as I know, Mr. Cunningham had nothing to do with Greg’s opponent’s campaign, and further more John is a retired municipal employee who has worked for several cities across the country. He simply was concerned about integrity and ethics. That’s it.

So where does it go from here? My understanding is that there will be a pre-hearing to give Neitzert the opportunity to call witnesses and for Mr. Cunningham to do the same. Than a hearing will proceed.

If I was still giving Greg advice, which I have not in several years, I would tell him he could end this circus and make this less expensive and less painful for all involved. If I was Greg I would do this next week;

• Admit guilt and apologize to the citizens, fellow councilors and especially Mr. Cunningham for trying to lay the guilt on them.

• As part of the punishment, I would pay back the partisan group for the trip and resign as council chair.

• And lastly, I would tell the council who the others were that attended the trip with him. We already know the mayor was one of these people, but who was the city staffer that Greg mentions in the Belfrage interview?

• Oh, and give us a report already of what you ‘learned’ at this event.

Ultimately, I think Greg will fight this to the bitter end, which will be a sad episode in our city’s history. And he will lose, big time.

Sioux Falls City Council Operations Meeting full of some very dark proposals including killing public input

The City Council had its Operations Committee meeting in the dark of the morning Thursday at 10 AM. I wonder why there was NO public input? Trust, me, this was done on purpose so the public could not attend, especially with some of the crap they were proposing. Once again, like the mayor, the majority of the council, the RS6 now, HATE transparency and openness, it is at the core of their very dark agenda for the city.

The meeting started out with a proposal for more per diem money to the council for logo wear city council apparel. I think right now they receive around $50 a year and they want to increase it to $150 per year. What confuses me is that they could just buy each councilor a simple magnetic name badge (for around $15 bucks) that they could wear on any piece of clothing, heck, buy them two. Just another example of how they waste taxpayer money on something they don’t really need.

I found it interesting that CountCilor Alex Jensen wasn’t wearing city logo wear but a First Premier pull over, nice touch. Reminds me of when Jim Entenman was wearing his Harley Davidson shirts to council meetings. Got to get in that shameless promotion yah know. Also, we can’t forget the thousands of dollars that were funneled to Alex’s campaign thru his employer’s upper leadership and various mischevious PACs. You better wear the damn shirt Alex!

Another change is for the consent agenda. They want councilors to give a 24 hour notice to city hall if they are going to pull something from the consent agenda so the city director/manager responsible for that item can come to the meeting to answer questions, because their time is valuable or something. Nutzert rambled about wedding anniversaries and kid’s birthday parties. Because, when you make a 6-Figure a year salary from the taxpayers of this city you shouldn’t be bothered for 5 minutes to answer a question about city spending when you should be a Chucky Cheese with your kids. Puhhhleese. There has always been this consistent argument, that I knew would gear up after the RS6 was installed, that city employees personal lives on a Tuesday night are somehow more important than the public’s business. They know they have an expectation to come to these meetings, and like I said, they get paid a hefty chunk of change to do so. If you can’t make it because of an important family event, ask someone from your department to fill in. This seems like a responsibility of the director in charge of that department instead of the city council.

They said city councilors don’t have to give the notice, but if they don’t there is no requirement for the director to show up. So basically it is a ‘Pass’ for the very people who are supposed to be serving us (because you know, they get a paycheck to do so).

I have often argued that the consent agenda should be read at the meeting, and after it is completely read by the clerk, items can be pulled. That’s true transparency.

During the meeting, non-committee member, councilor Brekke chimed in from the podium and suggested that the mayor’s office started giving informational meeting updates like they used to, but ended suddenly. We all know why, because of his simmering hatred towards transparency. Just look at the Covid press conferences, vanished, while our numbers are spiking.

The meeting got more interesting with a move to eliminate open discussion at the beginning of the informational meetings and renaming it council comment or report. Basically they can comment about something they are working on, but NO policy discussion, they once again blamed time constraints even though there is NOTHING in the city charter about time constraints or time limits at meetings. If a meeting runs to long, they can recess and come back at another time. Heck the Board of Ethics recessed twice over Greg Nutzert’s ethics hearing. This is a way of keeping more policy decisions from citizens. Disgusting.

The best was at the end of the meeting when, ironically, during open discussion CountCilor Jensen suggested moving public input to the end of the council meetings and eliminating public input on 1st readings. Oh, he was very soft and careful how he presented it, but it was clear when he said something about doing ‘business’ first, what he meant. Councilor Nutzert quickly chimed in and said he would assist him on it, but they may have to take an all expenses paid trip by a right wing partisan hack group to come up with a plan (I jest). I have often argued you put public input first because the public’s opinion is much more important than the business of the council, you know, the people who fund this government and come on their own time to do so. A business coming for a rezone or license is part of an expense of doing business and has little to do with the issues and policies of this city. Citizens should always be at the forefront of local government. I knew this was going to happen when Theresa left, and they have the votes to get it done, so it will probably happen. While I will do my best to fight it, unfortunately this is what happens when a majority of the council has this fascist view of transparency. Total Darkness.

I’M BACK!

Before I do a recap of everything that has happened in our beautiful city over the past two months, first the reason why I returned. Honestly, I was starting to become bored, and missed writing about the events in our city. Secondly, I have had some soft ‘naggers’ over the past few months asking (begging) me to at least come back once in a while. I did plan on returning late this Fall once the weather got cold but the main reason I came back early is the utter incompetence at City Hall has been staggering, and just in a matter of months. While the local media has touched on some of the topics and issues, they, once again, have left out the small details that matter. For instance, did you know that it is most likely that Amazon is the new project being built at Flopdation Park (though I haven’t heard that officially from anyone in the know), but did you also know that one of the reasons the announcement has been delayed is NOT because of this mysterious company, it’s because The Development Foundation is trying to swing a deal with the city and using this company as leverage for a . . . wait for it . . . TIF! I found out about this last week. And get this, they don’t even know how much they want or if any company would be interested in it, they just WANT IT because they know at the end of the day our rubber stamp council will approve it even if they were proposing building a nuclear waste dump out there. Yes, folks, in the middle of a pandemic, with tax collection down, the developers still want their welfare, and this time, they don’t even know what for!

Either way, I’m glad I am back, and if you see this post, please share with friends. Also, the comments section is back on and as before, all comments will be moderated.

Now for a brief recap of what has been going on over the past couple of months;

• A few days after I started my blog break I got an email from a citizen telling me that the Midco Aquatic Center is slowly turning into a dump. The ventilation system in there is failing bad or not working properly and a lot of people stopped going because it is hard to breath, the therapy pool is being used as a kiddie pool and I guess there is significant rusting going on throughout the building (something we were promised would not happen).

• On July 14th councilors Selberg, Starr, Jensen and Ethically Challenged Neitzert were installed on the council. Mayor Stoneless said that he wanted to invite people around the world to watch the ceremony on internet, which is ironic because you can’t access the city website out of the U.S. You would think when you are trying to promote international business the site would work? That’s innovation folks!

• On July 15th the Sioux Steel Hotel project finally admits to a delay;

Lloyd Cos. will begin its Sioux Steel redevelopment in downtown Sioux Falls later than originally planned, pointing to pandemic-related market conditions the company said have “created a time of unprecedented challenge in multiple industries.”

When I first heard the rumblings about this I suggested to a city councilor that the TIF needs to be rescinded. They reached out to the Planning Director, the response? Crickets.

• There is also several rumors swirling around about Sanford Health. Since most of them are 2nd hand rumors, all I can say at this point, expect some surprising and big changes. Not all bad either.

• Councilor Neitzert’s ethics problems have been spiraling out of control over the past two months. I will have a post about it soon.

• Downtown Sioux Falls finally experiments in a plan I have suggested for years. Closing Phillips off. Of course they do it in the middle of a pandemic, provide no vendors (food and drink) and no picnic tables. It was dismal to say the least. I was told that the city didn’t bring any tables down because they lacked ‘manpower’ and no volunteers for beer tents. It was a disaster and DT business owners told me they were not included, knew little about it in advance and some worried about liability. Lame. I guess the idea came from the new tech director with the city who lives DT. Next time, don’t let a great idea flounder so badly.

• Councilors Errakticson and Kiley presented the ‘Transparency ordinance’ which is a good idea (shows who sponsors ordinances on the agenda) but I found it a bit ironic that Rick talked about how he supports transparent government while during the operations committee on Thursday (transparently held at 10 AM in the morning during the workweek) the proposals were ANYTHING but transparent and open. I also have a future post coming about this topic.

• Mayor Stoneless said the SFPD will be getting 150 body cams for the police. This was something that citizens have been asking for over 10 years. It will be interesting how many times the cameras get ‘accidentally’ turned off, misplaced, or erased. I’m a STRONG supporter of reallocating police funds to other programs that help with crime prevention before enforcement has to occur.

• After Mayor Stoneless’ budget address, and a quick one hour regular meeting that ended at 8 PM, the municipal band members found out that night that the city (Parks Department) is cutting their $130K yearly budget essentially, disbanding the band. They just celebrated their 100 year anniversary in 2019. While I understand maybe taking the Covid year off and scaling back, I find it a bit hypocritical of Paul, who proposes a almost $600 million dollar budget ($22 million dollar increase from the year before) that he can’t find the money for the band. If we can give $1.5 million to the State Theater they can find the money. I know that this is something the Parks Director, Mr. Pants on Fire himself, has had a wet dream about for years, he has attempted it in the past. Of course a lot of misinformation was spread around and Chris Hill, the director of the band showed up to a budget hearing to clear it up. Paul, the self-proclaimed ‘Arts Mayor’ (I guess taking multiple selfies of you and your manly friends working out qualifies as art) thinks that they should just raise the money privately or as Councilor Errakticson suggested ‘volunteer’. While I agree some changes should be made, cutting it totally is idiotic and just shows the lack of leadership and innovation this mayor has, especially on something so simple as scraping some bones together for this 100 year tradition. Many people have testified at meetings since the cut was announced with passionate support.

• Councilor Pat Starr is running for Minnehaha County Treasurer. All I can say is YEAH!

• The SFPD released plans for the police/fire training center and metro 911. Originally said to cost around $30 million now has skyrocketed to $52 million with a $5 million constingency fund. Here we go again. Crappy built facility so we need extra money lying around to fix crappy contractor work. Maybe we have learned something from all the times we have gotten the shaft on the Pavilion, the Denty, the Midco, the Admin building, and you wait, on the Triage Center and Bunker Ramp.

• Speaking of the Sioux Failing Downtown Parking Ramp, there was zero ribbon cuttings, or announcements of it’s opening. Yes, we must protect ourselves from the embarrassment from this colossal failure and fraud on the taxpayers of Sioux Falls. When the finance director was asked why no announcement, he said “We wanted a soft opening.” Hey Shawn, this isn’t a coffee shop, it’s a $26 million dollar F’up. Oh, and the opening has been soft. I ride my bike in there (to get awesome photos from the roof) and on most nights there is about 4 cars in there. That’ll pay the mortgage for sure.

• The city continues to fail at posting board meeting agendas 24 hours in advance. Cameraman Bruce showed up to the last solid waste board to tell them they couldn’t have the meeting because it was not properly posted. They quickly disbanded. Not sure what was on the agenda, but my guess is they are planning to keep the Covid inspired taking your cans to the end of the driveway permanent, which saves the haulers in labor costs that they probably won’t pass on to the consumers.

• City Leaders decided to have a ‘Diversity’ conference at the Downtown Holiday Inn, the problem? The all white panel forgot to invite any leaders with any diversity. It blew up on FB, I’m sure you saw it.

• At a recent city council meeting Councilor Errakticson decided to present us with the ‘Hot Mess Moms’. You can come to your own conclusions.

• Denny Sanford gave $12.5 million to the USD Law School so they could name it after Dave Knudson. I said to someone it would be like naming the SD DMV after Bill Janklow. Ironically, Dave didn’t even attend the school. Go figure. The school should really be named after the late Mike Myers who dedicated years to the program. God Bless his soul.

As I said above, there will be some more posts about some specific things that have happened this past couple of weeks. Stay strong and as always, Transparency and Open Government is essential to a healthy democracy and community. Now if we can get those at City Hall to figure that out. It’s good to be back, I think.

City of Sioux Falls to give $350K interest free loan to developer

On the Sioux Falls city council agenda Tuesday night you will see a little tidbit in item #7, approval of contracts, sub-item #4;

Don’t be fooled by the title, this interest free loan is a pass through from the Feds for affordable housing to Lloyd Companies. I wonder if someone will ask exactly what the rents will be for this supposed affordable housing. Once again, developer welfare for a developer that doesn’t need it.

Just imagine if we gave interest free loans to people in the core of our city to help clean up their property? How far would this money go? Maybe we could clean up 50-100 properties with sidewalk repair, roof and siding repair, windows, landscaping? Let’s go even a step farther and give mini-TIFs to property owners in these affected neighborhoods in the form of property tax relief.

I truly believe the death of Tracy Saboe could have been avoided if we would have started cleaning up these neighborhoods over 12 years ago when first proposed by Mayor Munson. NOTHING has been done. So now crime increases while wealthy developers continue to cash in on projects that do nothing to prevent crime. But hey we have a $115 million dollar dented up events center (that sits empty while we pay a $10 million dollar a year mortgage on it). A $26 million dollar bunker ramp (that has yet to open) and a $20+ million dollar TIF to a project that is in flux while we go ahead with a $11 million dollar bond to build a greenway project around it (even with speculation if the project will ever happen). Why do we keep blowing the money on welfare for wealthy developers instead of helping hardworking Sioux Falls residents to clean up their properties and ultimately their neighborhoods? Because of the greedy fools we continue to elect.

So instead of using the money to clean up these existing neighborhoods we are using it to tear down a nature area and create more density where it is NOT needed.

You are going to see a lot of this over the next two years especially with a banker on the council and only two councilors left to ask the tough questions and a mayor who is more concerned about cashing in on his 5G investments(?) (That’s the rumor going around that our local media refuses to look into because the mayor has a tight grip you know where).

Count-cilor Jensen BOUGHT his seat

The newest member of the RS6 spent more than any council candidate in the history of the city. In fact, it is 5 years worth of salary for a city councilor. Also remember, we have not seen the final financial report, that will be at year end. It will be interesting to see what the final amount is. Astounding for a seat that pays around $19K a year and has little power. So far he approximately spent $8 per vote.

The bigger question is will Alex recuse himself on votes for the city’s bank, which he works for. And what kind of rezones will he vote on that his employer is financing? This wasn’t just about getting rid of a pesky city councilor, this was about the players in town having their own councilor on the dais.

He was bought and paid for. I hope it was worth it. Likely not.

Count-cilor Jensen’s Campaign Treasurer(?) tells us why Alex won

Funny how the treasurer who told me all along he wasn’t Alex’s campaign manager knows so much about the strategy that was used. Matt was Alex’s campaign manager and everyone knew it. It was one of the lousiest lies I have ever heard in a campaign. But telling the truth doesn’t win elections.

While I will agree with some of his points, let’s simply this;

• Raised a buttload of money (from the banksters and develpers) and spent around 10X more than his opponent.

• Campaigned 3X longer than his opponent.

• Used the extra time from a delayed election to campaign more to primary voters that don’t normally vote in city elections.

• Used the list of Mayor TenHaken’s supporters from 2018 to turn the tide in the SE districts. I figured they were going to do this early on. I got tipped off by a mole that was the list they were working from months ago.

There was no grand mystery here, it was really simple math that made Jensen the 6th member of the RS5. MONEY! And lots of it.

Final Stehly Report