Budget Hearing • Tuesday, August 15, 2023, at 3:00 PM

Health, Planning, Transit, Public Works, Housing

Regular City Council Meeting • Tuesday, August 15, 2023, at 6:00 PM

Item #7, Approval of Contracts,

Sub-Item #6, River Greenway Improvements: Downtown River Greenway – Phase 3; To award a formal bid. Lloyd Construction Co., $10.7 million. (So we are going to pay the very developer who is benefitting from the greenway adjacent to their commercial property, Sioux Steel District, all the while they are getting a $25 million dollar TIF and a $3 million dollar BID tax grant).

Sub-Item #9, Park Land Acquisition: 1328 N Phillips Avenue Site Demolition and Restoration; $16K (the price tag isn’t at question here. I’m trying to figure out what park we are trying to improve by tearing down this home?)

Item #45, 2nd Reading, Re-Zone for halfway house (The council has expressed they will be voting against this rezone, but the discussion should be interesting considering councilor Neitzert pulling the halfway house ordinance change and deferring it to next month’s meeting).

Item #51, 2nd Reading, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR TO ENTER INTO A LEASE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS AND THE SIOUX EMPIRE TRIAGE CENTER. (apparently this is the only agreement the city has in writing, or at least the only one they are willing to share. I have told reporters that I don’t think the city has a standing contract with the non-profit that lays out operational obligations or expectations. Recently the Director of the Link resigned with no comment. Why was that? And who is running the facility now? Looks like the city’s cruise control button just landed at another quasi-city-non-profit.)

Items #58-60, Union Contracts

Active Transportation BoardWednesday, August 16, 2023, 8:30 AM, Commission Room, City Hall

The board will be taking action on Councilor Neitzert’s proposal to change the E2 bike ordinance on the shared use rec trail. If you look at the agenda packet and read Greg’s changes he is simply just adding E2, and making some minor adjustments to verbiage and ADA accessibility while identifying speed limits. I am not sure how this vote will go, but hope to sit in on the discussion. There is a Parks Board meeting that same afternoon and they will also be taking action on the proposal.

Charter Revision Commission MeetingWednesday, August 16, 2023 at 4:00 PM

The CRC will be taking up two proposals that were presented in the last round of CRC hearings and will likely be rejected by them again. Kirby wants to remove the mayor as a city councilor and chair of the meetings and Zitterich wants to increase the size of the council. I agree with Kirby’s proposal and is long overdue, but I disagree with increasing the city council’s size. I think we should only have 7 councilors that ALL represent a district and NO At-Large members.

While I will give them kudos for going thru the proper process, a better approach would be getting all parties that want to make changes to the charter together and agreeing on a charter revision package that they can sell to the voters thru a petition drive and election. The CRC is setup to be an obstruction to the public from making direct policy changes at the ballot box, and so far, they have been very successful in their mission.

I support this, but I am not sure the Charter Revision Commission will be on board;

I have some suggestions for improving the structure of our city government in advance of the 2026 election. My main recommendation is that the Charter Revision Commission give voters the opportunity to improve the mayor’s job description before the new person gets the job. A more traditional separation of powers in city government could help avoid some of the problems the city has experienced. The mayor would no longer serve on the city council.

The city’s chief executive job is more than enough for one person. I envision a structure like that used in state and federal government where the chief executive is separate from the legislature. This change would empower the council to take a stronger role in setting policy, as we originally intended thirty years ago when we put this form of city government in place.

As I said, the heaviest lift will be getting the CRC to put this on the ballot, especially with an election that will have a laundry list of mayoral and council candidates. He is absolutely correct that this needs to be done to even out the powers between the council and mayor’s office.

I think the secondary hurdle will be getting voters to support it. I’m sure there will be opposition, but I am NOT sure how the voters will take it or understand it. Opinions change quickly though, just look at the slaughterhouse vote.

Not only do I encourage voters to support this on the ballot box BUT to get involved before that and encourage the CRC to put this on the ballot.

While there are many parts of the Home Rule Charter and Strong mayor form of government I don’t like, Joe’s perspective on its current status is spot on;

We intended that the city council would be a strong partner of the mayor. The council is a part time, legislative body with control of the purse strings. As the city charter says, “all powers of the city shall be vested in the city council.” We thought the council would provide the long-range policy guidance needed to complement the mayor’s focus on daily operations. While many incredible people have served on the city council over the past thirty years, it has never quite performed as we intended.

The council sometimes seems to lack a strong, separate identity. All too often, it has done little more than rubber stamp the mayor’s proposals, both good and bad. That has occasionally created big messes, such as the ugly and incomplete Village on the River project in downtown Sioux Falls.

That project was rushed through the approval process without much transparency or chance for public dialogue. Some city council members and many citizens raised good questions about it. A pause would have been appropriate, and perhaps likely if the council had been able to do its job right. Instead of the promised fifteen-story building housing two hotels and a bunch of retail, we are left with a homely seven story parking garage with an unclear future.

Oh, but it gets better, he brings up why we don’t need the mayor chairing meetings and breaking ties (a tie vote would result in failure of an item);

Another related problem with the city government model we put in place is that the demands on the mayor can sometimes be too great. Some mayors have told me the job can be overwhelming, especially when they must run city council meetings after a tough day at the office. Given all that, I think I know what would fix these problems.

We went too far in our effort to ensure strong, centralized leadership by the mayor. We failed to adequately separate the executive and legislative functions in city government. Of course, the mayor is the city’s chief executive. Unfortunately, we also provided that the mayor chairs city council meetings and even casts the deciding vote on ties. In short, the mayor has a large measure of control over the council. All things considered that was a mistake.

He outlines why it is important to separate the council from the mayor’s office;

Separation of powers provides necessary checks and balances on power. In government it is a tried-and-true way to avoid the pitfalls of an individual or group exercising too much power. Can you imagine the President having the power to run congressional sessions? Or the governor running the legislative session? Of course, that wouldn’t work well for federal or state government, just as it doesn’t in our city.

Based on what we have seen, I would amend the city charter to separate the executive and legislative branches of our city government. I have proposed this idea a couple of times to the charter review commission, but they aren’t interested. Inevitably, those who are part of the system aren’t motivated to rock the boat. As they say, “you can’t fight City Hall.”

Yeah, the CRC isn’t big on doing anything. Those meetings are a graveyard of good proposals.

I hope Joe continues blogging, and I hope he brings a petition forward to let voters decide if we should make these changes. Now is the time to take the mayor’s power away and return it to the council.

The CRC essentially had their last slaughter today before recommending NO citizen proposals for the Spring 2022 ballot. I believe they killed 5 proposals today.

On a side note, if Mr. Kirby wants to propose changes to city government he should really do it in person instead of sending his hitman Dave Knudson who had to pause his proposal to call Joe, who I would assume is wintering some place nice.*

You can watch the massacre for yourself, but the Commission seemed somewhat giddy after the guillotine dropped, 5 times.**

The arguments were about as tired and haggard as most of the members.

Commissioner Hajek explained their job was to only look at ‘tweaks’ to the charter. How dare we assume the commission called the ‘Charter Revision’ would actually allow voters to weigh in on reasonable changes to said Charter?! The shame! They are not true pugilists just middle schoolers giving titty twisters.

They also recommended that it was up to the council to make these critical changes, and if that was NOT good enough the citizens could do a petition drive, which of course would end in a legal challenge on many fronts and never make the ballot.

I’ve seen a lot of apathetic boards in this city, like REMSA and the Planning Commission, but the CRC takes the cake as the biggest jellyfish in the group.

I ask the question, “What do you care how the citizens vote as long as that vote and proposal are legal?” I will tell you why, because of the massive conflicts of some of the board members.

I think Commissioner Hajek filled us in on the sincerity of the board when she leaned into member Zylstra and said after learning when her term ends, “Thank you! I hope to get out of here!”

*My assumption is Mr. Kirby probably suggested calling in his proposal, but that was likely nixed because during Covid, I believe Councilor Stehly suggested public input should or could be done over the phone, which was quickly thrown on the heap.

**I can’t help to boast a little since two of my proposals at least got some votes of approval.

Audit Committee • 4 PM • Monday 6th

• Update on External Audit of City’s 2021 Financial Statements by Eide Bailly, LLP

• Annual Risk Assessment

• 2022 Proposed Audit Plan

Sioux Falls City Council Informational • 4 PM • Tuesday 7th

• Engineering Design Standards Updates

• 2021 Crime Trends & Statistics by Police Chief Jonathan Thum (So now the City Council is finally getting a presentation yet still NO links to the Power Point presentation).

Sioux Falls City Council Regular Meetings • 6 PM • Tuesday 7th

Item #6, Approval of Contracts,

Sub Item #7, RR Crossing Improvements, $82K (I would assume this has to do with some of the development going on with the RR Redevelopment. I recently had a few beers with a business fellar who works closely in this industry that flat out told me any major changes to rail traffic through this area MUST go thru the FEDS.)

Sub Item #11, Zoo design for Lion exhibit, $482K (I find it curious this is going thru Parks and Rec. So now our parks budget is being used to ‘Design’ things for the Zoo. Just think of using this money for actual improvements to our FREE parks system?)

Sub Item #17, (you will notice this has to do with a payout to the Chamber for BID taxes since the separation from the CVB that NO ONE in the media wants to talk about. There is also NO mention of the dollar amount).

Item #40, 2nd Reading, the mysterious alcohol licensing fees.

Item #47, 2nd Reading, Fire sale for parking lot for UN-affordable housing DTSF.

Item #50, 1st Reading, approving new districts in Sioux Falls

Item #53, Resolution taking money from streets to the Facade Core Revitalization Program, $120K, but who is it going towards?

Sioux Falls Parks Board Meeting • 4 PM • Wednesday 8th

Ironically, this meeting is being held at the Overlook Cafe at the same time as the CRC meeting. How convenient? There is one item on the agenda that sparked my interest under ‘New Business’;

Sanford Parking Agreement – Don Kearney

Not sure what this is about, but maybe it has something to do with the soccer and ball fields they are building right now?

Charter Revision Commission • 4 PM • Wednesday 8th

Well, well, well. It seems the CRC has decided to move this meeting back to 4 PM instead of 3:30 PM like last month. I wonder why? There seems to be a lot more agenda items this time around . . . this will actually be a really interesting meeting. While I support Kirby’s ideas about the mayor, I don’t support rank choice. But it really doesn’t matter because the CRC will KILL all of these proposals anyway.