Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls' ↓

City of Sioux Falls CRC (Charter Revision Commission) doesn’t have time to listen to constituents

Yep, you heard it from the chair, Mr. Smith himself, towards the end of the meeting today he went on a (polite) rant about changing the charter over ‘political’ decisions the council made, then said the city council has more time to listen to constituents then the CRC does.

Oh, and it shows, they only meet about once a month at 3:30 PM on a Wednesday afternoon when NO ONE from the general public can attend and listen and comment. Talk about due diligence! I often shake my head when I hear government officials (whether elected or appointed) say that the public must not be concerned because they didn’t show up to the meeting – while having that meeting at a very inconvenient time during the work week. I guess if the public was concerned they would ask for PTO so they could come and give their two cents. I have often said this is an open government issue, and these meetings are held at times when it is difficult for the public to attend, because, they don’t want them to attend.

Moving on in the meeting they of course KILL the plurality vote suggestion blaming the petition drive and felt if the public wanted to change this they would speak up and sign the petition. Ironically it was changed to majority without input from the public, just because a couple of councilors felt bad. So if something was changed without a public plea to begin with, why not change it back?

CRC Chair Justin Smith also continues to act like putting something on the ballot is automatic passage of an amendment. He either doesn’t get it or is just playing games. The CRC only places amendments on the ballot from suggestions from the public, it is up to the voters to say yes or no. I’m surprised a government attorney is acting so ignorant about how stuff gets on the ballot. It seems his blatant spreading of misinformation should be an ethics violation. The CRC is not the ‘end all’. It is up to voters to decide the passage of the amendments – and he knows it!

But before it was killed member Pauline Poletes tries to defer because member Bob Thimjon wasn’t there, Smith shuts her down saying Bob was noticed of the meeting and could have attended and they don’t have time to revisit it later – which proves later to be ironic when they DO defer another item due to missing members.

Member Anne Hajek recuses herself on the super majority bonding discussion and blames ME for bringing it up on my blog and corrects me by saying that while her husband is a bonding attorney he doesn’t not work for a bonding company. This is true, and I apologize for the mistake. But she of course doesn’t expand and say that the firm her husband Doug works for does counsel ‘work’ for the bonding company that does bonding for the city. It’s semantics I guess, and a little wordplay. The city attorney though asks Hajek to leave the room if she is going to recuse herself, then they make a bunch of jokes about it. Yeah, because being ethical or unethical is soooo funny. Thought I was at a Trump rally for a moment.

City Councilor Janet Brekke during public input brings data showing most bonds pass with a super majority or more, and all the more reason to put this forth seeing NO harm in putting this in Charter, and I agree. 

The chair and other members of course say that all the more reason NOT to pass this because it already is taking place.

Stinking Rules! Who needs them!

They also blame the petition drive again. But chair Smith goes a step further and says that this is about some ‘political’ decisions the council made (over the bunker ramp) and the CRC shouldn’t get involved because they are ‘Non-Political’ (Could have fooled me).

Passing a bond isn’t a ‘political’ decision based on a bias, it is a TAXING decision that affects us. I was once again shocked by the very ‘POLITICAL’ statements of the chair. It is very much the duty of the CRC to be NON-POLITICAL when deciding what goes on the ballot, and if this is a legal change, you should allow it, especially when it has to do with how government is spending our money. These rules need to be put in place so city councils DON’T make ‘political’ decisions based on bias, but decisions based on the best interest of the taxpayers.

It did get deferred though due to member Poletes pointing out they need 4 votes to approve something and TWO members were not present to vote (Hajek and Thimjon) so even if they voted to kill it they would only have 3 votes, and they need 4 votes to pass it. Of course Chair Smith voted against the deferral, but it had the 2 votes it needed to be deferred.

They discussed making the city attorney a non-voting member of the CRC and just an advisor, which I thought he was already. I guess councilor Neitzert is making an amendment in the future to change this in the charter language. Brekke said during public input that she was unaware this was going to be done. Shocker! Greg told the CRC but NOT his fellow councilors.

As I suspected, the CRC has probably been working diligently behind the scenes to sabotage the petition drive (it’s obvious in their scripted discussions they have during the meetings), then turns around and tries to blame this same petition drive as for the reason to kill these amendments. It shouldn’t matter if there is a drive, the duty of the CRC is to determine if something can legally be changed in the Charter, if it won’t be harmful to the greater good of the public and government, and it the language is proper in style and form. When Chair Smith said the CRC is ‘non-political’ he was correct. Offering your opinions on whether you support something before the public has had a chance to vote on it is being ‘POLITICAL’. So when are you going to practice what you preach and put these on the ballot and let the public decide, as well as yourself, IN THE VOTING BOOTH, NOT AT A 3:30 WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON MEETING.

UPDATE: The Living Man’s trial started today

UPDATE: I guess he was found guilty. Sentencing in December. He could get a $2000 fine and a year in jail.

I did not attend or have read about the first day of the trial, but I heard a rumor that the city attorney and the judge told Christopher Bruce to limit his time because the mayor had an appointment to get to.

Snevelicious said this on twitter;

Mr. Bruce got more combative as the day went on. The judge repeatedly reminded him not to make statements while questioning witness, not to talk over the prosecution and to listen to direction from the court.

If you are a chief witness in a trial, wouldn’t you have cleared your calendar to testify, especially when you are the victim?

Surprised he didn’t schedule an emergency colonoscopy like the former mayor did to get out of testifying.

I guess if I was a victim of a crime (or thought I was) I would want to defend myself to the fullest extent and wouldn’t make appointments on a day I was due in court.

While I believe the city’s counsel asked for the limitation, I can’t believe the judge would go along with it? Can anyone verify this really happened?

Cherapa II developer meets the city half way

As I have been hearing, the developer of Cherapa II (a partnership between Pendar & Howe Properties) offered the city $7 a square foot, the city wanted about $15 a square foot and they settled on $10 a square foot. Strangely enough the developer’s appraiser said it was worth $7 and the city’s appraiser said it was worth $15 a square foot. What a spread?!

I’m okay with this. As we know we paid way too much for this property to begin with. The ‘extra’ amount was for a switching yard out of town. What has happened is that the RR remained only a few feet from the departed property running tracks right along side it. They are still switching and storing cars less then a half a mile from the property just North of Avera and along the river by Nelson Park. In my opinion we accomplished very little with the $27 million which we had to add millions more for another viaduct under 26th street which will only allow even MORE traffic to the North in the Avera and downtown area.

That aside, it is good to see someone will take advantage of the property and I believe it’s spokesperson, Jeff S. when he says he will finish the project. Where I found this testimony a little comical is when he said that he won’t be making much money from it. I would agree with him that on it’s face, in the short term him and his partners won’t be making much except for mortgage payments, but in the long term, this property will have a big payoff. He knows it too especially when he says he is thinking of his ‘Kids and Grandkids’ future. Councilor Neitzert also went into full ass-kiss mode defending Jeff and his contribution to the city (like he was a charity) and that developers are getting beat up to much about the kind of money they are making.

Whaaaaaaa!

Let’s face it, we can’t turn back the clock, because if we could, we would have tried to eliminate most of the downtown train traffic to JUST necessary deliveries and NO switching and NO storing of cars. But Mr. ‘Get things done’ saw $27 million in the federal taxpayer’s piggy bank that he was just itching to hand over to Warren Buffet instead of actually accomplishing something.

I wish Cherapa II luck, but I have a feeling besides the $27 million we paid for this pile of dirt and the over $30 million we are paying for the 26th street overpass, we will be paying for this badly executed plan for decades in tax rebate handouts, land deals and TIFs. It’s unfortunate that the citizens can’t sue it’s elected officials for making these kind of hazardous decisions, because if we could, we would be getting massive rebates.

The RR Redevelopment project WILL go down in history as one of the WORST negotiated projects in our city!

Councilor Stehly attends the Native American Day Parade

Sioux Falls City Council Online Streaming fails tonight

The City Council meeting tonight was cutting out and skipping and finally ended at item #33 before the vote. (Now it is working) I was watching online. I tried it on 3 different devices and all had the same result. A friend also called me and told me he was having the same problems.

I am wondering with all the money we have invested in a new recording system and SIRE for Carnegie Town Hall, why we continue to have these problems?

We plan to to invest another $1.5 million in a new tech center at the administration building in a no bid contract, yet we can’t even manage to get information out to the public. It is unacceptable.

I did have an attendee call me afterwards and tell me that the beekeeping ordinance passed the first meeting in a 7-0 vote with NO public opposition and an Augie student supporting it. I guess councilor Erickson made a reference to bees stinging people. Really? That’s news to me. LOL. She also mentioned that people called into the Belfrage show concerned. LOL2X. So if this passes and someone gets stung, will we know it is a bee already living in Sioux Falls or a bee from a private hive? I hear they both rarely sting, but if they do, they do it the same way. 🙂

The Big Reveal is coming

I guess we will find out next weekend how many Jesus plows will be cleaning our streets this winter.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Oct 15-16, 2019

City Council Informational Meeting • 4 PM • 10/15

A presentation on Cherapa II. We will get to see what the city and the developer have been cooking up over the past couple of months. I wasn’t made aware of the deal until last month.

City Council Regular Meeting • 7 PM • 10/15

Item #7, Approval of Contracts.

There is an item to pay $73K+ to reconstruct the buffalo run images by Kiwanis and 18th Street. I still think just fixing the wall would have cost a lot less, and would have kept it’s artistic integrity. Hopefully a city councilor will pull this item so we can get an explanation.

There is an outside legal counsel expense of $41.5K for consultation on state loans for the water reclamation expansion. So explain to me 1) why do we need legal counsel to take out a loan from the state, who, BTW, receives about 40% of it’s sales tax revenue from Sioux Falls and 2) why this can’t be handled internally between the state and the city? So we need to hire a private firm to give us advice on how to loan money from another government agency? WOW!

We are getting a gift of a sculpture of a coach running that no one knows unless he was your coach, and even if he was your coach, he looks like all the other sculptures of a coach running (not sure how many other ones are out there).

It seems we have a couple of legal expenses concerning our lawsuit over the firefighting foam polluting our water wells. I still find it interesting that 1) we are suing over something that the city has told us publicly never harmed the public and 2) why do we even have a legal department when we consistently hire this stuff out? I still think we should just change our legal department into a two person staff of a paralegal/receptionist and a purchasing agent.

While I understand why we need to pay for a coin collection service for our downtown parking meters, why is the SF airport in on the deal? Are they paying the city for this service? Seems some explanation is needed.

Item #8, Change orders. $31K+ for ‘Unforeseen conditions’ at the Pavilion. Can you imagine getting a mechanics bill and there was a line item that was 33% of your bill that said this? Oh, yeah, you would question it.

Item #13, one of my favorite pizza places, Papa Woody’s is applying for a beer and wine license.

Item #32, 2nd Reading, Ordinance, the city council will be approving having ONE employee running TWO casinos to circumvent state law like many podunk towns across the state have been doing. I think this is a bad for employees safety and I agree 100% with Stehly’s opposition on this item. I suggested to her that she should offer an amendment that there should be only ONE unisex bathrooms in VL casinos to. She just laughed at me.

Item #38, 1st Reading, Ordinance, Beekeeping. It will be interesting to see how many peeps from the public oppose this. I guess when Belfrage posted about this on his FB page, he got his ass handed to him. My guess is that many supporters will show up to talk about how this is a great idea. On an unrelated note, today when I was closing up all my windows today on my house in preparation for winter, I found a sleeping bat. It was not happy I pushed it away from my house with a stick. I think that is the first time I heard a bat hiss. Creepy. I ran like a little girl.

Item #39, Resolution, Lyons Park is finally getting a sculpture placed on the lonely pedestal sitting at the intersection of 14th and Phillips. I kind of smiled when I heard about this at the Neighborhood Summit. I created a sculpture for this pedestal about 3 years ago that I was going to place anonymously one night and chickened out and never did it. I still have the piece, and who knows, it may show up downtown one of these days. Keep your eyes peeled. Let’s just say, you will know it was my work when you see it.

Charter Revision Commission Meeting • 3:30 PM • 10/16

The Commission will be discussing numerous items brought forward by citizens. They of course will ‘probably’ be deciding if the items below will continue to be discussed before they decide to put them on the Spring city election ballot or they may kill them all together. I’m not sure. My guess is that ‘most of the items’ on this agenda list will be killed. The interesting part will be the arguments they have against them. Let’s review;

Items A-B, Plurality voting presented by two different citizens. Even though the council passed a majority ordinance with a slippery amendment process (by former councilor Rolfing) the council has since refused to change it back claiming this should be ‘up to the voters’. So will the CRC decide to put this on the ballot? This one is hard to tell. Since the city council has refused to change this, it really is up to the voters, so it would seem logical to let them decide. But I can see the CRC’s argument against this that it hasn’t been ‘tested’ yet, so they will want to keep it around. When Senator Rounds spoke at an event last week he made a very ‘chilling’ statement, an attendee told me that he said towards the end that ‘More business people need to run for local races.’ In other words regular folks like piano teachers shouldn’t be on city councils, because they care too much about the rest of us working stiffs and not ‘business’. The majority rule is a game to disenfranchise the ‘little guys and gals’ from running for office.

Items C-D, these items are also similar and were suggested by the same two citizens as the above items. Requiring a super-majority to pass bonds (6 votes). I think the CRC will kill this right away. But it will be interesting to watch is if CRC member Anne Hajek recuses herself from the discussion since her husband Doug Hajek is an attorney for the largest bonding company in the state and the agency the city always uses. Ethically, this is a conflict of interest. In fact, Doug has told me to my face he opposes this (right in front of Anne). Of course he does, anything that makes it harder to pass bonds isn’t good for business. I hope Anne does the right thing and steps out of this discussion.

Item E, is something the CRC has been throwing around, making the city attorney a ‘member’ of the CRC but a non-voting member (or a voting member). Not sure what they are trying to accomplish with this one, since he already sits in the meetings already and advises. It seems they are playing a legal game. This discussion will also be intriguing and hopefully revealing.

Item F, they will go over their list of recommendations and other stuff they have yet to discuss.

I highly recommend people tune in to this meeting. The CRC will be laying the groundwork to kill a lot of these recommendations.

Cherapa II is more like ‘Let’s make a deal!’

So a couple of months ago a developer insider told me that Jeff Scherschligt was looking to do Cherapa II on one of Warren Buffet’s biggest scams on Federal taxpayers in at least a couple of years, the RR Redevelopment project. Mayor Bowlcut & Bucktooth coined it as one of his greatest achievements of his administration. I guess moving Beluga Sturgeon Caviar from it’s original jar to a ziploc bag is considered an ‘achievement’. Who knew?

As we know, it has floundered and the city has been looking to pass off these thrift store 501 Levis onto any takers.

They found a buyer in Jeff.

This should be no surprise as Jeff has been looking to build his Buffalo Palace II for awhile now. He of course got a heckuva deal from the Munson administration with the River Greenway project and now the Golden Arches of Sioux Falls built right in front of his palace thanks to the generosity of rich donors and taxpayers. But with any ‘gift’ the receiver always asks for more.

While the planning department of the city is being quiet about the deal until Tuesday, Detroit Lewis has gotten some rumored details.

The original offer was HALF of the appraisal price.

Mind you, not sure how this land can be appraised anyway? We paid too much for it, and the railroads are still railroading thru the center of the town. But I did a little digging.

Undeveloped land in Downtown Sioux Falls goes for about $15 dollars a square foot. So if you do the math, that would mean Jeff offered about $7 a square foot (and asked for NO TIFs or tax rebates). The rumor is they met half way, so he probably is going to pay about $10 a square foot.

Personally, I could care less, just sell it already. But here is the other ‘Kicker’; Cherapa II is rumored to put in the deal an ‘option’ to buy the rest with a TIF option.

Of course, this is all slobber and gossip from my mouth at this point, and we will hear more details on Tuesday. But if you think for a second the developer is going to take it in the shorts while the taxpayers come out smelling like roses, you are mistaken, unless you think roses in Sioux Falls smell like renderings from a packing plant, then hey, we are doing just fine.

Trial of the Year?

The below notice was sent to me by a foot soldier today who also sent me some interesting facts about the case against the ‘Living Man’.

• This is a Jury Trial for a misdemeanor in Circuit court. Seems like an incredible waste of tax dollars.

• The Police Sergeant who signed the arrest warrant, Sean Kooistra, is the brother of the city attorney, Stacy Kooistra.

• The defendant is representing himself ‘Pro Se’, which normally frustrates judges and attorneys because of unpredictability.

Food for thought.

I will not be wasting precious vacation time for a trial that, IMO, will end before it even gets started in a dismissal.

City of Sioux Falls Media Concerns

There have been a number of concerns I have had with CityLink over the past couple of weeks;

• Why did Mayor TenHaken ‘BOLT’ from the neighborhood summit after an introduction? He claimed he was going to his kid’s soccer game but I heard he was tailgating at a USF football game. Either way, it doesn’t matter where he went, it was ‘TACKY’ and he should have stayed to help answer questions. The event also wasn’t recorded. Thank you to my favorite Swede, Cameraman Bruce for recording the event. I think city staff did a fantastic job answering concerns. BRAVO!

• Why is the new director of the Dudley House, (who I assume is getting paid) Madeline Shields still working part-time for the city as host of ‘Inside Town Hall’? I find this to be a conflict of interest (since the city gives money to the shelter already). I would also think that this job needs her full attention and she would not have time to ‘moonlight’.

• Also, in the video below where councilor Soehl, or as I nicknamed him ‘ErpenHeater’ is saying how wonderful it would be to tear down the Arena, why this episode appeared on CityLink but NOT on the city’s YouTube Channel?

There is some serious ethical issues going on with our tax payer funded media in this city, and questions need to be answered. Don’t hold your breath.