Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls' ↓

Sioux Falls City Councilor Merkouris proposing a Homeless Task Force

At the Tuesday’s Informational meeting during open discussion councilor Rich Merkouris proposed a resolution to form a Homeless Task force that focuses on east 8th street downtown.

This of course is long overdue and I applaud Rich for taking the initiative to tackle this at his 3rd meeting.

One of his fellow new councilors, Sarah Cole decided to skip her 3rd and 4th meeting of the council. Of course, councilors only have to attend one meeting a month, but it doesn’t look real good skipping your 3rd and 4th meeting after just being newly elected and not even phoning it in. I do understand she is a medical doctor and emergencies do happen . . . one of the reasons I didn’t think she had the time to dedicate to the job. Nothing against her personally or her profession, I just don’t think they work well together.

*Sorry I was out this past week on a little R & R, so I am a little late on this stuff.

Mayor TenHanken’s Latest Interview

I guess I missed this interview from a couple of days ago;

In the past four years, his city department head leadership team has changed considerably. There are new police and fire chiefs, new faces leading public health, planning and innovation. He has a new finance director and city attorney.

“So I spent four years building that team, and now for the next four years, we’ve got the team together, and I think we can do a lot.”

He has really spent the past four years dealing with a revolving door. Many people he chose after being elected to his first term have left. He has had to appoint a new city attorney, a new planning director, a new health director and police chief. He has also had to appoint 2 different Fire Chiefs. He is on his 2nd IT and technology director. He has also lost a deputy chief of staff, a housing director and his chief cultural officer. I am unclear what he means by building a team?

Often times whether it is in the private sector or public sector many times directors and department heads leave an organization because of (lack of) leadership. Sure, retirements do occur, but with this much turnover in just 4 years you have to question the relationship he has with his city directors? This may explain why his administration is so busy fiddling with the legislative process instead of running the city (his duties under the charter).

“Everyone wants to know what are we doing about housing, and I can tell you it’s just so challenging right now, with land costs and with attitudes about infill development,” TenHaken said. “If we can move two or three houses or create small programs to give developers a little bit of cost savings, we’re just hitting singles. There’s no home runs to be found.”

That’s because the housing crisis will not be solved in Sioux Falls until we solve the wage problem. We also can’t be constantly cramming affordable housing into certain neighborhoods, it has to be spread throughout the community. I know it is NOT an easy thing to fix overnight, but what groundwork has been laid over the past 10-15 years or even past 4 years on this issue? I will continue to cross my fingers that the city will implement real programs to fix up our core, build density and create more housing, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in this current city government makeup that they have any long term solutions.

There also will be a project to complement the downtown parking ramp on the north side of 10th Street east of Phillips Avenue, TenHaken said.

“I’m excited about it,” he said. “We’re going to soon be announcing the timeline and process for interested parties to begin expressing interest in the site, so I think it will be good in the second term to get that underway.”

So the ink has barely dried on the check we sent to the defunk developer of the Bunker Ramp and we are already going to send out an RFP on what to do with the site? Which says to me, someone has already pitched the city an idea (we can make our guesses who this developer will be). Not sure what you could do with the site, but I have often suggested a multiple story studio apartment building.

Trying to solve the issue of child care is a bit like tackling housing, he said.

“There’s no silver bullet solution, but the discussions we’re having and the work and partnership we’re forming with the school district is something that’s never been done in the city before … kids and families is something we’re going to lay overtop of almost every decision we’re making.”

I often shake my head when community leaders across the country think they have some simple, unique solution to fixing the child care issues in their communities. Two things that could drastically change that situation in Sioux Falls would be higher wages and Federally funding for Pre-K education. Government is NOT always the solution, but in this situation non-profits, churches and private schools can’t solve this by themselves, there needs to be a government safety net for the kids that fall thru those cracks. So what is standing in our way? Partisanship, which brings us to his final thoughts;

“I think the next political cycle is going to be very ugly, so how do I as a mayor try to maintain a spirit of unity and a One Sioux Falls mindset when national news and all these forces tell us there are constant things we need to fight about, and that’s why (I focus) on the 95 percent of where we’re alike to keep moving forward.”

He is correct, politics have become ugly and getting worse. Why? Because Republicans like TenHaken have made local traditionally non-partisan politics into partisan. Everything has become about one-party rule, even on a supposed non-partisan branch of government like city council. I saw this rear its head during TenHaken’s first campaign, it got worse in ousting councilor Stehly and recently Brekke. It has become an all out death match to the end. And I’m not talking about a difference between Republican or Democratic philosophies, those are easy to break down. It is a devision between the elite, authoritarian Republicans and the traditional fiscal conservative Republicans and social conscious Democrats. The authoritarians like Noem and TenHaken are in charge and they will do anything in their power to squash a dissenting view on how to tackle an issue. Solutions come from bringing every view to the table. This is why they had to eliminate Theresa and Janet, they asked too many questions, and you never question the King.

I would like to think that things will be different in Sioux Falls in next 2-4 years, but with cruise control government, a lack of transparency, a rubber stamp council and very little planning or vision, I think we will still be talking about the same challenges in the Spring of 2026, just more exacerbated.

NEWLY ELECTED SIOUX FALLS CITY COUNCILOR SARAH COLE ALSO DOES AN INTERVIEW

It is such an honor to be elected to this seat on the City Council. I always encourage my kids about being the change that we want to see in the world. There are things that happen in our world that we have no control over, but we can control ourselves and our response to those issues. 

Yeah, it’s called voting in local elections. I still find it incredibly ironic and hypocritical that the first vote Cole cast in a Sioux Falls city election was a vote for herself 🙂 and the media has yet to touch that with a ten foot pole. Her absence in participating in local elections tells us all we will need to know about what her performance will be on the city council. Thank goodness the Mayor already setup a team of fellow rubber stampers for her so she doesn’t have to fart around for 4 years setting up that groundwork.

13 Sioux Falls Police Vehicles respond to DUI arrest

As I understand the story, one witness told me there was actually around 17 vehicles at the scene, I count 13 in this video I screenshot.

Initially what happened was a man tried to buy alcohol at the gas station and was refused because the clerk could tell he was intoxicated and when they saw him return to the vehicle they called 911. Apparently initially only one officer showed up to figure out what was going on and got into a tussle with the individual after a taser failed.

My question is why weren’t two officers called to the scene to begin with? And after the incident is over why so much presence?

Not too long ago I saw 4 officers watching over an abortion protest at the Federal Courthouse of about a dozen people.

Whenever I hear people tell me that we are short officers in Sioux Falls, all I have to do is look at these pictures and ask ‘Really?’

I’m flattered

I had to laugh that newly elected councilor stole my cartoon idea in this article;

“My joke is: a doctor, a lawyer and a preacher walked into a bar …” Barranco said of himself and his fellow incoming council members.

He also said this;

He also sees the commanding re-election of TenHaken – and the election of all candidates he endorsed – as a sign that residents are happy with how things are going and that “the city’s on track.”

Yes David, a very small percentage that bothered to vote in North Harrisburg are just tickled Taupe.

UPDATE: Smart Growth Sioux Falls has paid petitioners

The group trying to prevent Wholestone from coming has hired the same group of folks who did the Recreational MJ petition drive. They are giving them until July to come up with around 5,000 valid signatures.

While I don’t take issue with paid petitioners, you would have thought this would have been a cakewalk to get volunteers.

We also have had no update of where the PAC is getting it’s funding.

UPDATE: I did get word last night as to who may be funding the group. While I can say it is probably reliable, I would rather wait until the campaign finance disclosures come out to verify it. It seems the motivation behind the petition drive isn’t about labor or housing shortages it is about . . . you guessed it, DEVELOPMENT. I guess the person(s) behind this has heavily invested in housing development in the area around the proposed plant. And who wants to live beside a poop factory? Remember folks, when these things come up it is always about money and not good government. I still question if they can even legally pass an ordinance like this due to constitutional property rights and the fact that Smithfields gets to remain open.

Still waiting word on who is heading up the opposition.

UPDATE: New Sioux Falls City Council already has tricks up their sleeves

At last night’s 1st meeting of the new council the games have already started. I would have suspected they at least waited for a couple of weeks since they haven’t even updated the council web page yet (As of 7 AM, 5/18). Maybe they didn’t want to change the website until later today, because if they changed it yesterday before they even had their first meeting it may appear the council was crying wolf 🙂

The one thing I noticed is that the roll call changed. Normally in alphabetical order it now seems to be random, the roll went like this last night; Jensen, Merkouris, Neitzert, Selberg, Soehl, Starr, Barranco, Cole. While I am not sure why it was changed, I found it interesting they put the Jensen first and Barranco and Cole last. I think in the past I have noticed they will reverse the alphabetical order, but I have never seen it just be random. I guess if I was going to be a rubber stamp puppet I would want to be last also.

UPDATE: I inquired about the roll call to the city clerk, Tom Greco, he had a reasonable response;

Thanks for your e-mail.  The roll call/vote order is rotated each meeting and Council Member Jensen was the next sitting member up on the rotation.  It’s in alphabetical order only once every 8 meetings — the first person to vote at a meeting is moved to the end of the rotation for the next regular meeting. On June 7th, Council Member Merkouris will be first with Jensen at the end. It hasn’t been done in reverse order. Roll call and vote order for special and joint meetings stays the same as the Council Meeting held immediately prior to the special or joint meeting (e.g. the same roll call used last night will be used for next Tuesday’s joint meeting with Lincoln County.)

They also decided to re-elect Curt Soehl as chair and Jensen as vice-chair. While it is not unusual for boards to re-elect the same leadership from year to year (Minnehaha County Commission has done it several times) it is unusual for the this city council. I can’t remember when this council has ever re-elected leadership? The sad part was they passed up Pat Starr who has been on the council for 6 years and never served in leadership. They should have elected Jensen as Chair and Pat as vice-chair. As you can tell from watching the vote last night, this was all pre-determined probably through individual phone calls. You are going to see a lot of that moving forward.

The probable reason they kept leadership the same is to install Jensen as chair next year so that going into his re-election bid he can say he is the chair of the council. These folks are so predictable.

After watching the meeting last night I noticed a little frustration out of councilor Merkouris (when asking questions) and Barranco seemed bored to death. I also noticed our mayor had a smirk most of the meeting except when he said OMG into the microphone when someone came up for public input.

Newly elected Councilor already has an official photographer

Good thing, because image is everything!

Also throughout the installations, when Paul would introduce them, he would say who their guests were (namely campaign donors). This has never been done before except for introducing kids and spouses. Not sure why Matt Paulson and Leslee Unruh being guests for a particular candidate needed to be announced?

Does the City of Sioux Falls have a plan to solve the housing issue?

I found it strange before the election that all of sudden after 4 years of doing very little to simultaneously solve the affordable housing problem while cleaning up the core and building density the city pulled a plan from their behinds.

As you know, you have heard very little about it except when the Pettigrew Heights Neighborhood Association busted the city trying to plop 14 houses from the Whittier Neighborhood school expansion project in their neighborhood (not select empty lots and condemned home lots but on their green space).

While the city and school district says they have no plans I do know that the association has plenty of evidence otherwise.

I ask if the city has a plan because just a few days ago they posted these two very important positions with the city when it comes to housing. So if there is a plan, who was going to implement it? Who was going to manage it?

Apparently two people who haven’t even been hired yet.

The plan presented before the election was just smoke and mirrors. As I have suggested several times, the administration and 8 councilors had 4 years to come up with something, but now it appears we are back to square one.

Someone yesterday complained to me that they called the city asking when tree damage was going to be picked up in their neighborhood and they would not. Yet many people have reported to me that the city did pick up tree damage in the McKennan park neighborhood. The city did state they would pick up the waste 6-8″ in diameter but you have to call 211.

I told this person, “If the city can’t even pickup tree damage after a major wind storm, don’t expect them to solve the housing crisis.”

While I will cheer them on and applaud them if they do tackle this issue, it’s going to be a heavy lift.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda May 17, 2022

During the meetings this week on Tuesday there will be an installation ceremony at 2 PM, the informational at 4 PM and the Regular at 6 PM.

THE CALENDAR LINK

At the informational they will discuss April’s Finances and the 2035 Downtown Plan.

At the regular meeting there are several items on the consent agenda that need explanation, hopefully they will be pulled.

Item #6, Approval of Contracts,

Sub Item #2, Provide the City of Sioux Falls a network monitoring service for cyber security; Amendment to add addition of services: Expertise on Demand by Mandient and M365 Assessment, Effective upon full execution, Paragon Development Systems, $104K+ (Not sure if this is an evaluation or something else. But I find it interesting that PDS mostly serves the healthcare industry. There have been several councilors ask the administration over the past couple of years if our city is secure from cyber attacks with NO response. Apparently they are finally noodling around on the idea.

Sub Item #9, Water Reclamation Facility Improvements; Amendment to design agreement Carollo Engineers, Inc., $12 Million + (That’s quite the amendment! You could buy 3 new Pavilion roofs with that kind of money!)

Sub Item #16, Bishop Dudley Hospitality House, $120K (While I support funding the shelter, it would be nice to get a presentation as to what has been happening at the place and surrounding area the past year).

Item #52, RECONSIDERATION OF THE DEFERRAL OF A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS APPROVING DIAGONAL PARKING ON S. GRANGE AVE. (This item was originally considered at the meeting of May 10, 2022 where the Council voted (8-0) to defer the item to June 7, 2022. If the motion to reconsider the deferral passes, then the motion to defer to June 7, 2022, will be considered again. The Council may vote to again approve the deferral, amend it, or vote it down. If voted down, the resolution itself will be considered by the Council.)

As I predicted, the diagonal parking is back for reconsideration for the 9th and Grange coffee shop. I was told that the property owner will be paying for the city to build the space. Hopefully we will get an answer at the meeting.

Tornado Sirens are not just for Tornados

Just read the history of tornado sirens or better known as Civil defense siren;

civil defense siren (also known as an air-raid siren or tornado siren) is a siren used to provide an emergency population warning to the general population of approaching danger. It is sometimes sounded again to indicate the danger has passed. Some sirens (especially within small towns) are also used to call the volunteer fire department when needed. Initially designed to warn city dwellers of air raids in World War II, they were later used to warn of nuclear attack and natural destructive weather patterns such as tornadoes. The generalized nature of sirens led to many of them being replaced with more specific warnings, such as the broadcast-based Emergency Alert System and the Cell Broadcast-based Wireless Emergency Alerts and EU-Alert mobile technologies.

Well if that wasn’t a natural destructive weather pattern Thursday night I don’t know what it was? I did get alerts on my phone (which was good because my electricity went out) but does it really hurt to sound them even if it is not a tornado? That’s crying wolf according to Mayor TenHaken;

When asked Friday by reporters if the city should re-evaluate its policy, TenHaken, responded: “Will we look at the policy? Sure. But you can see where they start to lose their effectiveness when you cry wolf too often and use the sirens for multiple purposes,” he said.

That is probably why they don’t plow the streets much anymore, they wouldn’t want citizens to expect safe streets in the winter 🙂

Let’s be clear, the sirens ARE for weather and other emergencies. I don’t think anyone would have been upset if they sounded the alarm. They act like turning them on is like launching a nuclear weapon. They act like every time the train blows its whistle while crossing an intersection is just crying wolf, wonder why people haven’t just stopped ignoring them? This is what happens when you have cruise control government.

Besides, who is in charge of flipping the switch? Sounds like this guy, who had an excuse also;

Sioux Falls Emergency Manager Regan Smith said activating the sirens too often could lead to complacency and confusion, adding that the policy not to sound them during non-tornado weather events is supported by commonly-supported best practices in the emergency management and meteorology industries.

Uh, no it is NOT, it varies from community to community;

1. What does it mean when I hear the outdoor warning sirens? 

In short, it means that something life-threatening is happening and you should go indoors and get more information.   The specific guidelines (tornado, hail ,wind, etc.) for sounding sirens varies by jurisdiction, so check with your local community to find out the specifics if you are interested.

In other words, more excuses.