Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls' ↓

Have you ever heard of a Dutch Cowboy?

Yes, an actual Dutch Cowboy

I’m sure most of you have seen the infamous CBS story about South Dakota’s Covid cases spiking, in which a nurse serving in a Covid unit in Sioux Falls was about to walk into Tommy Jacks bar downtown Sioux Falls without a mask until the reporter talked her out of it.

But one of the strangest moments in the interview was when Mayor TenHaken said the reason people in South Dakota don’t want to wear masks is because of the ‘cowboy mentality’. Besides the fact a Dutch Evangelical from Worthington, Minnesota would know very little about ‘cowboy mentality’ I question how many cowboys we really have in South Dakota anymore, besides a handful in the Western part of the state.

Making a moronic (and kind of romantic) statement seems par for the course from Paul since this pandemic started. You know, like, ‘I didn’t sign up for this.’ And ‘I’m tired of it.’ So when he wanted to blame cattle ranchers for why people don’t wear masks, it didn’t surprise me. Next he will tell us the reason employers pay low wages here is because South Dakotans like to work for nothing (I’m starting to think they do).

So why do I think people don’t want to wear masks? The number one reason is because Noem, Trump and Right Wing Nutty radio told them they don’t have to. I also think most South Dakotans are ignorant of science. So ignorant, it seems they almost have a disdain for it. It’s easy to fear the unknown, and South Dakotans have ironically made a ‘science’ of it. I also think there is a lot of passive aggressive selfishness. The economy and low pay doesn’t help much either since most people live paycheck to paycheck, they don’t have a choice but to show up to work, with a mask or not. I have even witnessed people who got over Covid and didn’t have symptoms anymore return to work within a day of climbing out of bed. Yeah, a real genius move. I guess we are trying to create a herd immunity workforce. Funny, cowboys like herds.

And let’s clear up all the horse manure being spread by the supposed Constitutional scholars that have been showing up to council meetings and farting their Trumpy fartness on Facebook. Your civil rights are not being infringed upon by a private business asking you to wear a mask on their private property. It’s no different than your Grammy asking you to wipe your feet before coming into her house. Put that in your pipe and smoke it John George Jefferson Franklin.

As usual, it seems TenHaken is trying to point fingers at some mysterious phenomenon, this time called ‘cowboy mentality’ when in reality, as a leader, he should just ‘pony up’ and help inform people that not only is Rush, Trump and Noem wrong, that it is time we all ‘wear a dang mask’ whether you are shopping or wrangling cattle.

Covid seems to be sucking a lot of brain cells out of our state, that is, what’s left.

Are we currently triaging people in Sioux Falls?

As you can see the LINK is coming soon, and something this community has needed for a very long time. But aren’t we currently triaging now? According to MCC Dean Karsky we are, but it is not a very nice place. Welcome to addiction.

Starting last summer (2019) I noticed my neighborhood became quite popular for pan handling, drinking and bridge dwellers. Everyday the same group of folks, about 6 of them, begin panhandling on the corner of 14th and Cliff. Once they get enough money for malt liquor, they go over to Get N’ Go, load up, either go under the bridge on Cliff or along the bike trail, drink until they pass out and take a nap. Like clockwork, this happens almost every day, and every day the SFPD show up and herd them away. And they are still at it, even this late in the year. I had only seen the ambulance show up once and have never seen a police take any of these people to triage or jail. They usually pour out their beers, and herd them away.

In fact just a few weeks ago, I saw an officer on an ATV literally herding a couple of them like they were cattle by the skate park. I’m not sure where he was herding them to? Well you know what the mayor says, we have a cowboy mentality so maybe this a good old fashioned homeless round up? Giddy Up!

While I look forward to the much needed new triage center opening, I hope the SFPD will start using it instead herding these folks like cattle to another bridge.

Solving our homeless issue is NOT a game of whack a mole and I am wondering when our supposed leaders in town are going to take it seriously.

Remembering our Dear Friend Kermit Staggers

Kermit died one year ago today. He was my mentor and a tireless champion for the people. Kermit always listened to the citizens and respected the input from everyone. He was a staunch defender of transparent and accountable City Government. We need more elected officials with his integrity, compassion and responsiveness…..now more than ever.

– Theresa Stehly

Happy Thanksgiving!

What a beautiful day in Downtown Sioux Falls! Can’t believe I am still taking long walks this late into the season.

The Sioux Falls School District joins the City’s Hatefest towards open and transparent government

If things couldn’t get any darker at city hall, they are getting a little darker at the School District. They have decided to discontinue media briefings. Yes, I know, the SFSD has been a closed door organization for years, and they seem to be fulfilling more of their goals by ending the briefings. There of course was a lot of Beautiful Sunshine spread around by the district’s communications czar, DeAnn Konrad, but this statement really struck me;

“Media reports, some seen online as early as Sunday when exhibits are posted, have caused confusion and resulted in the work of the board being circumvented,” Konrad said. “It is the district’s intent to responsibly keep its stakeholders informed by allowing the meeting to occur, discussion to happen, with media questions answered after elected officials have voted.”

The whole point of presenting exhibits before a meeting is so the public knows what is being discussed at that meeting. Not only is it the right thing to do, IT’S THE LAW! When Konrad uses the word ‘circumvented’ it reminds of something former school board president Alberty said to another elected official about ‘making decisions privately before the public meeting’ to avoid controversy at the public meetings.

Asking the elected board members questions about an agenda item AFTER a controversial item passes is kind of pointless. Board members should have to explain their votes in advance. I’ve never read such an anti-open government statement in my life, but no surprise coming from Konrad.

I also wonder who has the authority to close out the media? Was this Konrad’s decision? Super Stavem’s decision? Or the Board’s Decision? Since technically the Board is Stavem’s boss, it would be their decision. I wonder if anyone from the School Board will tell us who’s bright idea this was? Oh, that’s right, they don’t have to talk to the media anymore, it gets folks too worked up.

This is also more egregious considering we are in the middle of a pandemic, and if taxpayers and parents needed more help and information from their schools it is right now.

I have noticed for awhile local governments have been using this pandemic as an excuse to further withhold information from us, and the crap needs to end.  

Before posting this, I vowed to several community citizen advocates today, once Covid clears, we are going to engage in a full on war against the HATERS in local government of openness and transparency. It’s time we put out these fires before the whole damn forrest burns down.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Erickson must be taking mask wearing advice from FORMER Sanford CEO

Yeah, you didn’t hear it here, but someone got the boot after writing strange Covid poetry to his employees, but we may never know;

Kelby Krabbenhoft and Sanford Health have agreed to part ways, Sanford announced in a news release at about 5:45 p.m. today.

This is no surprise, I have been hearing for months from Sanford employees that Kelby actually partially retired last Fall but was staying on basically for consulting for the transition to Intermountain Health. Not sure how much of that is true, but you will remember last Fall was when a lot of executives were leaving and an investigation into Denny Sanford was being done. No charges have been filed.

But as I was watching the Sioux Falls City Council Informational meeting tonight, I found it ironic that one of the city councilors who voted against a mask mandate and has admitted to having covid couldn’t even figure out how to wear a mask (you need to cover you mouth AND nose.)

Masks! We don’t need no stinking masks!

While she did pull it up a few times she kept pulling it down while talking. Scientists have said that masks actually do work, BUT you need to wear them properly and you have to have 100% compliance. Maybe Christine felt like Kelby that now that she has some kind of magical immunity she didn’t have to wear the mask?

Argus reporter Ellis said it best when talking about Sioux Falls City Government, “Amateur Hour.”

Sioux Falls City Councilor Erickson’s suggestion about pausing Covid tourism is just a ruse

FF to 3:36:00

As I suspected after Christine brought this up in the council meeting Tuesday night, there really is no effort to pause the program called ‘Sioux Falls Alive’. Not only is the website still chugging away but I saw an electronic billboard today (you know the kind you can turn off like a light switch) promoting the program. I have also heard from DaCola Foot Soldiers that still blow their money on cable TV the ads are still playing.

To be fair, though it grinds me, Erickson said they wouldn’t pause the program until AFTER Thanksgiving (which just seems pointless).

So while we are flat out lying to the citizens about pausing this ungodly $250K taxpayer expenditure that got funneled to Mayor TenHaken’s former(?) ad agency Click Rain we are throwing $20K towards the health department to educate the public about what we shouldn’t be doing during this pandemic. Maybe they will wait to educate us after Thanksgiving so couple 100 more people could die first.

As suspected, it probably wasn’t that easy to turn off the faucet because contracts were signed. And I suspect even after turkey day, the website will still be rolling and the ads will still be running like gravy down your uncle’s mouth (or Rudy’s sideburns).

But this should have NEVER happened to begin with. This was just a Hail Mary to the CVB and it’s subsequent contractors and had little to do about doing the right thing. Once again, like most leadership from City Hall and Carnegie these days, it’s all about the Benjamins and little else.

Covid’s silent side affect; Madness

I’m come from the Gen X generation. When I graduated from High School the internet did not exist and while there were car phones, cell phones also did not exist. I didn’t grow up with these things.

On the farm where I lived from 4th grade to my sophomore year of HS and after a short stint in Seattle (2 years) I spent my senior year at this same farm. I explain to people we were wedged somewhere between Ethan/Dimock/Parkston and Milltown. It really was the middle of nowhere.

I know isolation. I have lived by myself in my home for 18 years and before that I lived for about 7 years by myself in various apartments. During the summer living on the farm the only time I got in a car or pickup was to go to church on Sunday. EVERY SUNDAY. I mostly spent my summers cleaning hog barns, doing chores, walking beans (SUCKS!) and bailing hay. But when I wasn’t working I went on hours long hikes with my various dogs exploring the prairie. I found old cars, old farmstead cellars, beaver dams and even explored a homestead house. Besides my dogs, and my brother, I mostly talked to myself and took in a great appreciation for nature and a great dislike for dumb farm animals.

I can count on a couple of fingers the things I have been missing because of Covid. Live music (I really missed Levitt this summer) eating out and traveling. Other than that I really haven’t experienced despair because of Covid.

But I think the isolation has been making people crazy. Just look at the state our country is in. We have a president who refuses to concede (though he lost the popular and electoral count and no amount of fraud could overturn this election) that is, if it even existed. We have a governor who doesn’t believe in science and goes along with the insanity. We have an AG who drove off of the road and killed a man and still walks free. We have local officials who don’t understand leadership and to top it all off this week a CEO of a major healthcare institution writing poems about Covid and how he won’t wear a mask while the 50,000 workers he manage languish in his institutions.

I call it Covid Madness.

While I have only been on this earth a little under a half century, I have never seen so much denial, craziness and despair. NEVER.

Does it worry me? No. Because I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and only the truth will save us.

But we have to continue to fight for those things that are important to us. Our health and wellbeing, our families and the ones we love, our livelihoods, justice, open government and most of all good craft beer.

So if you have the day off today, like I do, I implore you to turn off your phone, the internet and the TV and make a list of all the things that are important to you. Also make a second list of all the wonderful and positive things you are going to do when we come out of this pandemic.

Don’t become a victim of Covid Madness. We got this, but it is going to take a little effort and having common sense and peace of mind. Also, if you go shopping today, where a dang mask!

Sioux Falls City Councilor Erickson proposed ‘pausing’ Covid Tourism (and other council tidbits)

Just when you think Christine grew a brain, she pulled a Hannibal Lecter and ate half of it.

Last night when the council discussed funding educating the public through our health department about Covid ($20K) she suggested we pause the ‘Sioux Falls Alive’ program, or as I call it ‘Covid Tourism’. I guess the CVB has said they would, but of course we have nothing in writing from the CVB they will do that, we also have nothing in writing from the contractors, TenHaken’s former(?) ad agency Click Rain that this program will be paused. As a person who has worked in marketing, I can tell you, once you sign advertising contracts, sometimes it is hard to turn off that faucet. I guess time will tell, but as of this morning, the website still exists. So in other words, like the mask mandate, it was just a strong ‘suggestion’. But what made Christine’s suggestion more ironic is that she voted against the health education funding as did Nutzert and another pup. Go figure. She really needs to put away her ugly pills.

What makes the irony even better is when the 1st reading for city employees vacation holdover to 2021 passed,  Nutzert said, “It has been hard to travel during this pandemic.” Who needs to travel to take a vacation? How about a Sioux Falls Alive ‘Staycation!’ Who says we can’t have fun in Sioux Falls during Covid? All the bars and restaurants are open, and if you don’t want to wear a mask? Who cares! The cops will not do anything anyway . . .

. . . speaking of that, it seems the SFPD has been listening to Detroit Lewis when it comes to mask mandates;

Sioux Falls Police spokesman Sam Clemens clarifies how the new mask ordinance will or won’t be enforced at Wednesday’s briefing.
“If the business owner or manager tells them, ‘you have to have a mask. It’s our policy.’ and if the people refuse, and they (the manager) says, ‘Well, you need to leave,” and they don’t, then it’s trespassing or causing a disturbance, according to Clemens. “If somebody leaves, then there’s no issue. There’s no problems. There’s no reason for police to be involved.”

Gee, what have I been saying for WEEKS about enforcing trespassing?!!!!! I may just be qualified to not only be the Chief of Police, but the City Attorney, an unlike the Fire Chief I live in Sioux Falls!

Speaking of eating out during your staycation, it just got easier, the lingering ordinance failed in a 5-4 vote (TenHaken, Neitzert, Erickson, Selberg, Jensen – NO). Erickson also attacked Brekke (who proposed this) claiming she is targeting certain businesses (uh duh). While I get the argument, I will tell you as a person who has worked in the hospitality industry this is the busiest time for them through the New Year, but not this year, and distancing tables at restaurants are not going to change their already dismal sales. Usually January-March restaurants are deader than a doornail. I would encourage restaurants to sell the crap out of gift cards right now, it may be the only thing that keeps you afloat. I warned months ago that the hospitality industry will be the hardest hit, especially when the patios have to be closed. If I owned the building my restaurant was in, January 1st, I would close my doors until April 1st and make sure all of my full-time employees get on unemployment. If restaurants right now are slow, it will be even worse January 1st. While I get restaurants wanting to make decisions on their own, this ordinance would not have harmed their business anymore than what Covid already has. I want to remind these business owners, if your customers are sick or dead, you are NOT going to have much business moving forward. We need to look over the horizon. This is temporary. Once the vaccine starts to get distributed, hopefully by late Spring, early Summer most people will be vaccinated and Covid virtually disappears, but until that happens, we need to get our sh*t together and take precautions.

I also found it a bit suspicious that suddenly SIRE* stopped working yesterday at 4 PM *(Meeting Agenda platform and Video) and the city cancelled the informational meeting. Shortly after that the city did a patch on the agenda page with a link to a PDF of the agenda and a YouTube Livestream for the regular meeting at 7 PM. First, the obvious, I have argued for years that the meetings be livestreamed on Youtube and replays be stored in YouTube. This costs taxpayers NOTHING. It has worked for the Sioux Falls school district of years and even the City of Omaha.

But I have a feeling this was done intentionally to save face from last week’s embarrassment of not having enough bandwidth in SIRE to watch the meeting. So this week I’m sure Mayor Stoneless and Chair Nutzert devised a plan to save face and not be embarrassed by people telling them the meeting wasn’t working in SIRE so they claim their was ‘technical problems’, yeah, sure, you betcha. Funny how the technical problems occur right at 4 PM, and once the regular city council meeting ended at about 12:07 AM, magically at 1:00 AM, SIRE started working again and the meeting popped up this morning.

Trust me, there wasn’t any technical issues just a couple of rats hiding cheese.

Why the Highway 100 project is unnecessary

This is a Guest Post from an anonymous Sioux Falls resident;

With the COVID-19 situation changing and spreading rapidly, fighting this pandemic should be our number one priority. It’s hard to predict what tomorrow may bring but with Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna announcing positive results from their testing of the COVID-19 vaccine, this means we are one step closer to potentially providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough.

With that being said, why is this decades old project being pushed through by Noem and TenHaken at this time? With all of the outstanding road projects and infrastructure work needed to be done statewide, I wish the media would investigate and expose this for what it is. We need total transparency regarding this outdated and unnecessary project for all South Dakota citizens to be aware of.

If you go to www.openstreetmap.org and zoom in you can clearly see the path of the southern portion of this project.

“We are grateful to the Governor’s Office and the South Dakota Department of Transportation for making this critical investment in roadway infrastructure,” said Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken. “The southern expansion of Veterans Parkway has been discussed for decades and when completed, it will be transformational for our region. This multiyear expansion roadway expansion will not only improve traffic flow and better connect Sioux Falls neighboring communities but also spark significant economic development along with the project.”

The remaining 8.5 miles of Highway 100, with today’s cost indexed forward to 2023 dollars, is estimated at $208.9 million, of which the South Dakota Department of Transportation will fund the six-lane corridor that is estimated at $176 million. The City of Sioux Falls will fund the arterial streets that connect to the corridor, which is estimated at $32.9 million.

Economic Development

Would economic development be enhanced or hindered with this project? Highway 100 will not improve traffic flow or create any new connections to Sioux Falls neighboring communities. With the crossing of nine major street arteries with traffic lights, this project is not a bypass like I229. “A bypass is a road or highway that avoids or “bypasses” a built-up area, town, or village, to let through traffic flow without interference from local traffic, to reduce congestion in the built-up area, and to improve road safety”. The land set aside for this corridor has hampered growth in the Lincoln County area because developers have to continually work around the project path. One has to question the zoning by the city of Sioux Falls and Lincoln County for allowing new residential and commercial development to be built so close to the proposed project that was first planned over 25 years ago (1993).

Have adequate buffer zones been established at or adjoining commercial-residential district boundaries to mitigate potential frictions between uses or characteristics of use? Have district regulations been provided for transitional uses, yards, heights, off-street parking, lighting, signs, buffering, or screening? Trying to sell your home with a six-lane highway in your backyard could be a challenge as well as developing new neighborhoods that are adjacent to this highway.

The completed section from I90 to 57th street has traffic lights or stop signs at Rice street, East 10 street (Highway 42), 18th, 26th, 41st, and 57th. There are additional access points at Madison, Maple, 33rd, and others. Lincoln County already has excellent east/west through streets and corridors that connect to Highway 11 using 57th, 69th, 85th, and county 106. The existing north/south through streets include Louise, Minnesota (115), Cliff and of course Highway 11. There is also the Western, Southeastern, and Sycamore corridors which run south all the way to US Highway 18 and beyond. The 85th street interchange at I29 is planned to start in 2021.

This shortsighted plan needs to be abandoned with the rapid expansion of Sioux Falls, Harrisburg and Lincoln County. We need a plan for the next 50 years based off of the growth in the area in the previous 25 years. The 2020 Sioux Falls population is projected to reach 190,519 with the Sioux Falls Metro Area population at 275,917. By 2035, the population of Sioux Falls is projected to reach 233,000 with the Sioux Falls Metro Area population projected to reach 346,184.

Sioux Falls already has great connections to Tea, Harrisburg, Worthing, Lennox and Canton with our existing highways. The proposed route should be sold back to developers and a more cost-effective plan using county Highway 106 implemented as the east-west route from Highway 11 to I29. Highway 11 can be widened from 57th through Shindler to 106 because there is adequate room for expansion just as Highway 115 was recently widened from 85th to Highway 110. Any homeowner affected by this route could be compensated or bought out at current values. Thinking ahead using today’s construction costs, we could further enhance Highway 11 down to Highway 116 (additional 5 miles) which runs west to an overpass and exits on I29.

Spending Taxpayer Dollars Wisely

Money set aside for remaining 8.5 miles of the Highway 100 southern expansion ($208.9 million est.) would be better spent on improving the existing connections in Lincoln County. As an example: the reconstruction of 3.3 miles of Highway 115 (Minnesota Ave.) from just south of the 85th Street intersection to 0.3 miles south of the Lincoln County Highway 110 intersection was $18.3 million (18.3 million / 3.3 miles = 5.54 million per mile). If constructing a new 6-lane Interstate highway is about $7 million per mile in rural areas and about $11 million per mile in urban areas why is the southern portion of this project costing $24.5 million per mile (208.9 million / 8.5 miles = 24.5 million)? Also, what is the source of these funds and what is the breakdown from each source? A full disclosure needs to be made available for all South Dakota taxpayers before this project is started.

Planning Ahead

On June 29, 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 which enabled the I229 project to be built that was finished in 1962. If we had waited 27 years to start the I229 project it probably would not have been completed. The impact on transportation and economic development in the Sioux Falls area would have been substantial.

Wetland Mitigation

The SD DOT requires avoidance of all wetland impacts or, where avoidance is not practicable, minimization to the greatest extent practicable. Special emphasis is placed on avoiding impacts to high-quality wetlands including those wetlands with known or potential endangered species support functions.

When the objectives of a transportation project cannot be met without adverse impacts to wetlands, wetland mitigation involves the preparation of a wetland mitigation plan detailing how lost wetland functions will be compensated.

Subsequently, wetland mitigation plans must be submitted to one or more of the regulatory agencies for their review and approval prior to a permit being issued.

The existing streets, county roads and corridors from 57th street, south to US Highway 18 and west to I29 are already reserved for use by motorized vehicles. This relatively flat area can be developed with well thought out planning and zoning. The impact on current wetlands would be lessened because the existing right of ways are already in place.

Conclusion

Allowing outdated projects based on what a few legislators want which benefits consultants, politicians, and construction companies at the expense of current and future neighborhoods should not occur. The funds set aside for the southern portion of the Highway 100 project would be better spent on a long-range plan that is implemented in a timely manner for the City of Sioux Falls and Lincoln County. This boondoggle is nothing more than someone’s pet project which has nothing to do with honoring our veterans, improving traffic flow or better connecting Sioux Falls neighboring communities in Lincoln County.

*Editor’s Note; I would like to thank the DaCola reader for sending me this very informative piece.