Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls' ↓

Sioux Falls Chamber has shakeup

The Chamber announced they are replacing(?) Debra Owen;

The Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce announced Thursday that Mitch Rave has been hired as the organization’s vice president of public policy.

The son of former South Dakota House Speaker Tim Rave, he holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of South Dakota.

Debra confirmed to me she left the Sioux Falls Chamber and is happy to be moving on. Her husband David leads the State Chamber. Debra’s title was VP/Director of Public Policy, so I am assuming Tim is replacing her.

Mitch has some big shoes to fill. Besides years of government experience working for the City of Sioux Falls as clerk and a top legal advisor to Governor Daugaard. Debra also has a law degree and has extensive knowledge about city and state government.

In my dealings and conversations with Debra in the past, she was always fair and listened to your side, she didn’t always agree but was never combative and would always dig for answers, probably the reason former Mayor Mike Huether* pushed for her termination. City government has a knack at getting rid of the good ones.

Mitch’s dad, Tim Rave, is president and CEO of the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations and sits on the Board of Regents.


The list is still pretty short but it seems Mike Huether and Christine Erickson may be in. They have both been reaching out for early support (Mike more then Christine) I have not heard any more rumblings about Alex Jensen. Greg Jamison will also probably be exploring a mayoral bid, and I think if Huether officially announces he will jump in.

Another name that was floated was Vaney Hariri. I guess friends and colleagues have been asking him to run. I don’t know him personally so I have no idea if he is taking the encouragement seriously but he would be a great addition to the field.

I want Christine and Mike to know I have been greasing up the way back machine, and once I get it running it will probably start smoking once it’s gets to your government careers. Erickson has a much better record, and has shown to be a good campaigner. Winning both a school start date ballot initiative and the slaughterhouse vote (even though they mothballed the place).

I think any outside candidates are going to have fun watching these two duke it out on the debate stage.

Charter Revision Commission still hung up on the same stupid crap

During their first meeting of 2023, at least three members complained that citizens are trying to get them to re-write the charter as a new form of government.

To revise something is to re-examine and make alterations to (written or printed matter). THE WORD IS IN THE TITLE OF THE BOARD!

The example they use, which I believe was a past proposal by Joe Kirby, was when Joe suggested we remove the mayor from the city council.

That is called a revision not an entire new form of government. In fact it is probably a couple sentence change in the charter under the mayor’s duties. IT IS NOT A TOTAL REWRITE and a gross mischaracterization of the process.

• Members take proposals

• They discuss and debate the proposal

• They vote to place the proposal on the ballot for the next city election

• Voters decide on election day and if it gets over 50% approval it becomes city law

Member Anne Hajek, who was appointed chair for the next four years, said she didn’t want the CRC members to become ‘dictators’.

As I have pointed out to the CRC several times you are NOT rewriting or even revising anything. They take proposals from the public, the council and the administration and vote to place those proposals on the ballot for the CITIZENS to decide. Ironically Hajek said during her rant that the citizens should make the decision to remove the mayor from the council.

THEY WOULD if you would only allow us.

The CRC does NOT have the authority to re-write or re-vise anything, all they do is consent to a ballot question, and as long as the revision is legal and reasonable and most importantly needed to improve the lives of Sioux Falls citizens it is left up to the voters to make that decision on election day.

There seems to be this mentality lately, especially from prominent Sioux Falls and South Dakota Republicans, that revisions to the law by citizens is somehow some kind of dangerous act and we should be more diligent about what we allow on the ballot.


Removing the mayor as a councilor is NOT a groundbreaking change and would actually give more power to the city council to take action.

This is really about the conflicts of interest many of the members have with deep connections to the rich and powerful in Sioux Falls. This concerns me more then removing mayor ‘grunty‘ from the Council dais.

YOU DON’T RE-WRITE ANYTHING, you are only there to provide advice and consent.

I would have to disagree with Hajek, you are acting exactly like a DICTATOR when you don’t allow reasonable proposals to be voted on by the public.

City of Sioux Falls to hire a new city clerk

(PIC: LinkedIn)

I was informed yesterday that a new city clerk was chosen and an announcement would come on Friday, but I guess they decided to announce it early;

Mr. Washington serves as the current City Clerk in Box Elder, SD, and has a bachelor of science degree in management information systems from Midwestern State University (Wichita Falls, TX) and a bachelor of science degree in information technology from National American University. In addition, he is a member of the International Institute of Municipal Clerks and the National Association of Parliamentarians.

Mr. Washington served in the U.S. Air Force for 13 years and was stationed in Sheppard Air Force Base (TX) and Ellsworth Air Force Base (SD).

While Mr. Washington brings the experience and education and seems like a great candidate, I hope he is not overwhelmed.

The population of Box Elder is about 12,000 people, Sioux Falls is 204,000.

While military experience does give applicants an advantage for government service, you wonder if his appointment was under the recommendation of former City Attorney, Stacy Kooistra who is an Air Force reservist member.

I wouldn’t want our diligent eight city councilors to work to hard to find a good candidate. I do know they had around 200 applicants. Maybe the city really doesn’t have a retention problem 🙂

Sioux Falls water plant expansion should be bonded thru 2nd Penny

Sioux Falls water and sewer is funded thru enterprise funds (user fees). Those fees go towards maintenance, operation, general expansions and pipe replacements. They also go towards paying the salaries of the employees of this department (while all other city employees are paid thru the 1st penny operational fund).

While the concept of enterprise funds works well for normal operation, paying salaries and bond payments for major expansions out of this fund is what is draining the coffers and a cause for fee increases.

The 2nd Penny fund was created for road maintenance and soon got hi-jacked for all infrastructure projects. But that is what is it is for, major infrastructure like an expansion of our water and sewer plant.

This is really about allocation of tax money.

We say we need to pay down the bonds for this facility with user fees but we don’t use user fees to pay down the bonds for the Events Center, Pavilion, Zoo, Tennis Courts, Midco Aquatics and the list goes on.

It is ludicrous to have $80 million in a reserve fund for infrastructure projects while raising water rates to pay down bonds for a needed infrastructure project.


Why not re-finance the bonds thru the 2nd Penny fund and avoid a water rate increase? I wonder what Bloomberg thinks of that?

Sioux Falls installing ‘See how long before it is broken’ park

The Parks Department (or probably the mayor’s office) is building a fitness pad park by 26th and Southeastern. Many have asked ‘how long will the equipment last’? I went by the park yesterday while they were installing the equipment in the ground. While the frames of the stationary bikes and equipment are made of very durable cast steel the rest of it is plastic. Even with normal wear and tear and the weather this stuff will have trouble lasting more then a few seasons but it’s the vandals that concern me more.

What’s going on with the Bunker House?

An attorney said to me last week that if there has been this much silence from the city AND the defendant it is likely they are in mediation to settle.

Some would argue the city has legal standing in what they are doing, and on some level they do, but some would also argue that the constitutional and federal rights of the defendant is a much stronger case.

What would a possible settlement look like?

I don’t know, because to be honest with you I have never had to deal with such a thing, and I haven’t combed through every detail of the case.

In the simplest terms the city will probably allow him to finish the house and not demolish it, because as Judge Lange stated that would be a total waste, or as someone stated to me, tearing down the house would be the ultimate dick move by the city.

I don’t think the city has many other options.


The heck with the rubber stamps these bodies have, they have exchanged them for unexpected vacations and deferrals. Have you noticed lately that when the Lincoln and Minnehaha Commissions as well as the Sioux Falls City Council have to make an important decision one of the members will skip the meeting for a ‘scheduled’ vacation or they end up deferring it.

I wonder if any of them realize that when you put off an important decision it makes that ultimate final decision much harder for the public to swallow. Look at Pettigrew neighborhood. Past mayors, councils, officers and administrators have failed to make a dent over the past 30 years and the problem has gotten worse and the mayor calling 20% of the residents in Pettigrew alcoholics doesn’t help the situation.

As I have told councilors and mayors for the past 20 years, if you can’t do the job or are afraid to the job please resign so we can replace you with someone that can. I will agree that personal attacks that are unwarranted towards elected officials is unacceptable, but attacking your competence has always been free game. This has nothing to do with the character of those supposed leaders, it has to do with their courage, or the lack of.

Rick Knobe’s Podcast; The Power of WE (EP 4)

In this episode they revisit the Sioux Falls sustainability report.

UPDATE II: Is the City of Sioux Falls still sharing data with Bloomberg?

UPDATE II: The mayor put out a brief statement about his trip. He didn’t mention that he took Shawn and Mark;

“Local government is the catalyst for community progress, and I know our City’s participation in the City Data Alliance will help us double down on our data efforts to ultimately benefit residents.”

So you have been participating in this program for several years now, wondering when you are going to start sharing those benefits with the citizens?

I also found it interesting that out of the 11 American mayors participating only one was Republican, TenHaken, and one Indy (who leans Democrat). All the other mayors were Democrat.

UPDATE: A South DaCola foot soldier pointed out to me after posting this earlier today that there is another issue with this trip.

The city pays a consultant for the software that helps with sharing data thru the Bloomberg initiative. As I understand it, that money DOES NOT go towards trips city employees or elected officials may take in coordination with Bloomberg.

‘IF’ and only ‘IF’ Bloomberg Philanthropies paid for the trip and NOT the taxpayers of Sioux Falls that is an ethics violation because of quid pro quo. By Bloomberg providing an all expense paid trip to the mayor of Sioux Falls, or ANY mayor or municipal employee for that matter, there is an appearance that Bloomberg provides these conferences and in return gets to use the data from the city, probably even sell it.

I am NOT sure who paid for the trip, but if it was Bloomberg, Paul and his cohorts have some explaining to do.

I’m wondering when they are going to start sharing information and data with the citizens?

I see that the city was not only represented by Mayor ONE, but the Public Works Director and the Finance/Tech Director at the conference. I wonder who was running the city . . .

I understand the concept behind the data sharing, but what I am curious about is how this is helping us in Sioux Falls? There have been NO major initiatives by this administration to use the data sharing with Bloomberg to improve our city. On Demand is a joke and will be repealed, so that doesn’t really count. But when it comes to crime, neighborhood cleanup, infrastructure, transparency, climate change, housing and better wages we sit at a standstill. Heck, we can’t even approve a mural!

So what do we get when the 3 most important people in city government spend a week yucking it up with Bloomberg?

We will never know.

Maybe this is the reason Sioux Falls is limiting credit card parking meters

So what do most people do if they are in a hurry? They say ‘F’ck it’ and move on. If someone is in a hurry and they find a parking spot DTSF but don’t have any change to feed the meter (that doesn’t have a CC reader) they will probably not go looking for another spot and just risk the ticket. Maybe that is what the city is hoping for.

You can either listen or read the interview;

GRABAR: I think so. Essentially, parking enforcement serves as a subset of what is now known as revenue-driven policing. And the idea here is that cities take advantage of these parking laws to try and get as much money out of people as possible, but not in the way that you would think, right? I mean, I think this is a common misconception. Meter rates are actually, for the most part, pretty low in most cities, which is to say they are below the market clearing price that would create empty spaces on every block. Most cities make more money from illegal parking fines than they do from meters and garage taxes put together. So, for example, New York City in 2015 made $565 million in parking fines. It’s the biggest category of fines that the city issues. But they made just $200 million from parking meters.

So what’s essentially being run here – and I don’t know if cities are conscious of this – is a system that is poorly designed that almost seems like the incentives are in favor of illegal parking because for the city, that’s where they make their money.

I would have loved to been a fly on the wall when the Parking Director, Matt Nelson and Mayor TenHaken had a conversation about getting creative with raising more parking fees. Probably went something like this;

Nelson says, “Paul, we just gotta find a way to get people to park in the ramps more.”

TenHaken responds, “Thank goodness I stopped that naked Indian mural, because that certainly would have drove drivers away.”

Levitt presents a solid season

I finally had a chance to review the music of the bands playing this year. They have a great mix of country, bluegrass, hip-hop, pop, blues and alt-rock.

The bands not to miss this year are;

Radio Free Honduras (amazing music!) • Robert Jon & The Wreck (Blues Rock) • Patty PerShayla & the Mayhaps (alt rock) • Young Dubliners (Irish)

Don’t get confused by the band ‘Blood Brothers’ they are not the extreme punk band from 10 years ago, I think they are Canadian Blues (those two words don’t sit well together)

There are a couple of performers that are not my cup of tea but most of it is solid entertainment and it’s FREE! I am assuming at the June 2nd opener they will be handing out copies of the 2021 and 2022 annual reports. 🙂