Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls' ↓

Is the City Council a bunch of Fruit Loops?

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, June 21, 2021

Link to Calendar

Informational • 4 PM

• May 2022 Monthly Financial Statements by Shawn Pritchett, Director of Finance

• Housing Plan Update by Jeff Eckhoff, Director of Planning and Development Services; Kevin Smith, Assistant Director of Planning and Development Services

Regular Meeting • 6 PM

Item #54, 1st Reading: AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, APPROVING THE NAMING OF INTERIOR ROOMS ON PUBLIC PROPERTY. (Startup Sioux Falls wants to start naming rooms in their $1 rental. I am angling for a Detroit Lewis broom closet or break room microwave.)

Item #55, A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING THE MAYOR TO ENTER INTO AMENDMENT TWO TO GOLF FACILITIES MANAGEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS AND LANDSCAPES GOLF MANAGEMENT, LLC. (this is giving away (borrow) two liquor licenses to an independent contractor for the city. I’m sure councilor Neitzert will complain about the process and vote against it. 🙂

MINNEHAHA COUNTY COMMISSION CONSIDERING CO2 PIPELINE MORITORIUM

At their 9 AM meeting tomorrow, they are thinking about holding back on the pipeline (Item #14). I guess the meeting is at Carnegie Town Hall because of remodeling projects at the MCC admin.

Sioux Falls City Council not following Remote Telephonic policy

The City Council hasn’t updated their operations procedure manual since 2020. They have a meeting at 1 PM on Wednesday (June 22) to discuss multiple changes to it.

While I was viewing the red notes for those changes I came across the policy that has been in affect since 2020 for attending the meetings via phone. It seems the council has NOT been following one iota of the policy;

However, if circumstances prevent a City Council member from being physically present during a City Council meeting, the member may participate telephonically. Circumstances that may prevent physical attendance include:

• Personal illness;

• Emergency;

• Military service; or

• Geographical distance.

At the start of any City business meeting during which a City Council member participates telephonically, the presiding officer or Chair of the meeting (“Chair”) must announce the name of any member who is participating remotely and which of the four reasons listed above require that member’s remote participation. The Chair’s statement does not need to contain any detail about the reason for the member’s remote participation other than one of the four reasons listed. The information must be recorded in the meeting minutes.

While I do understand that Covid was a different circumstance, it has been well over a year since city employees started working back in the office. Over the past year several councilors have decided to participate in the meeting via the phone, and while the chair has said at the beginning of the (regular) meetings who is attending via phone, I have rarely heard them say one of the four reasons listed above. Remote working has been over with, if a councilor is NOT sick, or NOT out of town, they should attend in person. There should no longer be special exceptions for Covid, or any for that matter except for what is mentioned above, and it should be STATED at the meeting. This chaps my hide a bit because I have asked that citizens who may be disabled or have other mobility or transportation issues the opportunity to do public input via telephone. The council won’t allow it. So if we have to drag our butts to the meeting, a PAID, Part-time city councilor should to.

OTHER CHANGES TO POLICY

• They will be reviewing annotated agenda that former Councilor Brekke suggested before she left, and;

• They will be making changes to the travel policy (something else they have NOT been following). Notice this line in the current policy;

Travel requests for conferences, meetings, tours and other events must be nonpartisan, educational, and related to the city council’s policy-making role

One of the reasons Councilor Neitzert was impeached was because he attended a partisan event in Texas with Mayor TenHaken and former Deputy COS, TJ Nelson. While it was paid for by the event, it still is NOT in line with the council’s policy. I still think Greg, Paul and TJ getting away with unethical behavior was a sham.

BUDGET WORKING SESSION

On the same day, at 2 PM, the council will discuss these topics;

• Revenue Sources: General Fund and Capital Improvement Fund

• Government Assistance Funds and Uses

• Additional Project Funding

I find it ironic that before the election and before the yearly financial report was released the city (mostly directed from the mayor’s office) spent millions in ARPA and tax revenue surpluses with NO oversight/suggestions from the council. So now I guess they want to discuss the money they already spent?

New Sioux Falls City Councilor BIOs still not updated on website

It has been over 2 months since the city election, and the city has yet to put up the BIOs of the 3 new councilors;

What is surprising to me is when these 3 folks ran for office, they had to put their BIO out there for voters. ALL of them had websites outlining who they were (Sarah Cole just wasn’t sharing her voting record 🙁 ) so this is NOT on them, I am sure they supplied this info to the city’s IT department to put on the website.

This is just another example of how ineffective and worthless our city website is.

I have argued for a long time that the Sioux Falls should model their website after Omaha’s with ALL the public and board meetings streaming on Youtube.

Sioux Falls Bike Cops need E-Bikes

Image: KEVN FOX TV

I have noticed that the SFPD has put their bike cops out on the trail several days a week. I was surprised to see that Rapid City has had E-Bikes since 2019;

The bikes give officers an edge in patrols along the city’s bike paths and park system during the warmer months. With the electric pedal assist, officers will be able to more-rapidly respond to emergencies, especially along the city’s elevated hiking and biking trails.

I think if the officers got E2 Moped Bikes with detachable/interchangeable backup batteries they could cover more ground and it would be way more affordable, efficient and safer than riding Harleys on the bike trails. You can also deck them out with lights, sirens, I-Pads, multiple baskets, saddle bags and just about anything that fits on a motorcycle.

I encourage the city council to request four bikes be added to the SFPD budget for 2023.

Prior Restraint at the Sioux Falls City Council meeting

The city council meetings are ran by the chair. Normally that is the mayor who only passes the gavel if he has a conflict, wants to speak on an item or has to cast a tie-breaker vote.

The chair has the ability to stop a speaker or interrupt a speaker. In normal circumstances that would be if someone goes over time limit, is cussing or makes physical threats towards the chair, council, city staff or anybody really.

What the chair SHOULD NOT be doing is stopping or interrupting speakers because of the content of their input, this is prior restraint;

In First Amendment law, prior restraint is government action that prohibits speech or other expression before the speech happens. .

When a speaker is making a point during public input, they have a certain amount of time to do so. (3-5 minutes) during that time it may be the case that a speaker builds a narrative that may have nothing to do with the item they are addressing but telling a story to make the case about the item on the agenda. But that doesn’t even matter. As long as public input is addressing the body about government it doesn’t matter if that narrative is about sewer pipes, teddy bears or hurdy gurdies.

In other words it is extremely inappropriate (and unconstitutional) for the chair to cut off or redirect speakers unless they are in violation of decorum that I wrote about earlier.

Lately the Chair (Mayor) of the meeting has been in that habit of trying to redirect speakers if he doesn’t understand or doesn’t like the narrative they are using to build their case. He did it a couple of times Tuesday night and has done it in the past, this is prior restraint and he has been made aware of it.

When former councilor Brekke was on the council she had a long conversation with the city attorney about it, and he seemed to conclude it was just a difference of legal opinion. It is NOT a difference of opinion, it is a violation of Free Speech and the 1st Amendment.

A couple of years ago when I was scolded by the mayor while giving public input (I think it was when I called him a hypocrite . . . several times) a former security officer told me later about the incident that he had NO intention of arresting me or making me leave because I was well within my constitutional rights. I think he said, laughingly, “Calling someone a hypocrite is NOT a physical threat, It’s not even a curse word.”

The scary part about this is that if someone wanted to file a legal complaint against the city because of the chair’s action, they could, and it could be a very easy prosecutable offense. I would never do that, because I am very capable of sticking up for myself and swatting the chair’s interruptions away like flies but it can be very intimidating to someone who has never addressed the council or understands what prior restraint is. In simple terms, it’s bullying.

Somebody asked me after the meeting why does he do that? I guess I could give a hundred answers, but I think this will suffice;

Authoritarian; favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority, especially that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom.

Some citizens have expressed to me they are disappointed in how supposed non-partisan city government has become so partisan. I don’t see partisanship at all, all I see is Authoritarianism, and it is like a rabid dog.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Barranco delivers the best statement about Pride Month Resolution

(FF 41:30)

At another bizarre city council meeting last night 3 councilors (Neitzert, Cole and Merkouris) decided to vote against a Pride month resolution because they felt it was setting some kind of precedent. Let’s pretend for a moment that was true (it is not) wouldn’t you still support it without supporting the process? They could have easily voted for it while stating they didn’t like the process. It is NOT precedent. During the Huether administration there was a proclamation almost weekly. The only difference between proclamations and resolutions is that proclamations come from the mayor’s office and resolutions come from council (according to the city attorney last night). Here are the proclamations from 2016 that were presented at the regular council meetings;

Sex Trafficking Awareness and Action Month (January 2016)

Dr. King Celebration Week (January 12-18, 2016)

Stalking Awareness Month – January, 2016

Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week (February 7-14, 2016)

Sioux Empire Water Festival Days – March 9 and 10, 2016

World Kidney Day – March 10, 2016

Social Work Month — March 2016

National Service Recognition Day – April 5, 2016

National Walking Day – April 6, 2016

Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia Action Day – April 19, 2016

American Legion Poppy Days – May 13 and 14, 2016

Historic Preservation Month – May, 2016

Bike Month – May, 2016

Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month – June 2016

National Health Center Week

Suicide Prevention Week – September 5-11, 2016  

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – September, 2016

National Mental Illness Awareness Week, October 2-8, 2016

Native American Day – October 10, 2016

Domestic Violence Awareness Month – October, 2016

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month – November, 2016

American Diabetes Month, November, 2016

Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month, November 2016

The practice of presenting proclamations at the council meetings seemed to end in 2018 after Mayor TenHaken was installed. Not sure why, but that was a decision made by his administration (he still releases proclamations discreetly). But for Neitzert, Cole and Merkouris to argue this is out of the ordinary is just flat out false. In fact, TenHaken replaced it with the Siouxper Hero awards at council meetings. Why weren’t there any objections to that? Weren’t we setting a precedent?

As I told councilors last night, they are entitled to their personal opinions about the gay lifestyle, but as a non-partisan governing body they should all be in support of inclusiveness in our city which doesn’t infringe on their personal beliefs as individuals or their crazy beliefs as councilors about a broken process.

I think Councilor Barranco said it best;

“. . . I am PROUD to stand with friends and colleagues who oppose bigotry, violence, segregation, and hatred. This is not the moment to argue. Rather, let us link arms, unified in our support for tolerance, acceptance, inclusion, and love.”

They can make whatever excuses they want to as to why they voted against the resolution, but at the end of the day they just looked petty and I applaud the councilors that voted for the resolution and especially councilors Starr and Soehl for challenging their fellow councilors to do the right thing, even if 3 of them can’t figure out what the right thing is.

UPDATE: Is Amazon cutting back on their Sioux Falls operations?

UPDATE: All Amazon is saying is they have not set a timeline yet.

With the new facility pretty much completed in Sioux Falls many have been wondering when the new warehouse will be operational. A rumor has been going around for about a week that they are delaying the opening, and not by just a couple of months, but years.

I don’t have all the details but Amazon reps have said if the media reaches out they will provide a statement about when they plan to start SF operations.

Another part of the rumor is the already leased warehouse that has been operating in Sioux Falls will NOT close and continue to be operational.

Hey, if you don’t have to pay any local taxes and a significant property tax break due to the Foundation Park TIF does it really matter if the building sits empty for a couple more years?

I know that several people in the media are aware of the rumor and hopefully we will hear something concrete next week.

If it is true, I’m sure many local businesses will be relieved to hear they won’t have to compete in the job market with Amazon, at least for now.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, June 14, 2022

Link to Calendar

Informational • 4 PM

• Landscape Golf Management Contract Amendment by Don Kearney, Director Parks and Recreation

• Parks & Recreation – Community Engagement Process & Benchmarking Study by Don Kearney – Director of Parks & Recreation

• Sioux Area Community Foundation by Andy Patterson, President

Regular Meeting • 6 PM

Item #6, Approval of Contracts

Sub-Item #15, Financial Agreement; Levee Outfall Structure at Sanford Sports Complex, Sanford, $483K (it is no secret that the sports complex is a swamp, so it is no surprise they have to build this. I’m just curious why the (local) taxpayers are paying for something that benefits a private health system and is in the right away of the CORPS of Engineers (Federal property).

Item #17, Resolution, Public Works department is asking for permission to apply for SRF loans for well replacement for $12 Million +

Item #18, Resolution, supplemental funding for the Parks Department;

Amend Capital Improvement Program Project No. 14009, Aquatic Facilities Improvements, by adding funding in 2022. The estimated cost for conducting the community engagement process associated with gathering feedback for future aquatic facilities renovation/replacement projects is $100,000 and will require an increase in appropriations that will be funded by a donation from the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation.

The presentation on this is during the informational. I find it curious that the Community Foundation is funding an aquatics study, which will ultimately find we need to build new pools, spray parks or even another indoor facility. Talk about stacking the deck. I think the city has plenty of data to show where these facilities need to be or replaced, this is just an attempt to push poll the city into building certain facilities in certain neighborhoods. The city should just give the Sanford Sports Complex the green light to build another indoor aquatics facility (where it belongs) since ours runs at about a $500K deficit every year. NO more indoor pools or wasted concrete on the River Greenway. We need to improve the bike trail and commit money to something that is used and is FREE to the public. BTW, I rode the ‘extended’ version of the trail today (starting and ending at Falls Park). It is 31 miles. If you get off by the country clubs and circle back at Family Park you will get 31 miles at the end. Oh, and they need to fix the mud pit at Family Park when you get off the trail. Engineering fail.

Item #19. Resolution, recognizing June as Pride Month, sponsors Starr and Soehl. Either this resolution will pass 8-0 with NO discussion or we will see if some of the Trumplicans newly elected will protest. I think it would be fun to have a tie vote letting the mayor break the tie.

On Wednesday June 22nd, the city council has decided to have a couple of committee meetings in the dead of the afternoon they have not had in a very, very, very long time;

City Council Operations Committee Meeting, 1 PM and a city council working session at 2 PM.

Sioux Falls Planning Commission Member admits to conflict and votes on the item

(FF 9:00) Item 5A.

Larry Luetke admits he has a conflict with item 5a and still remains in his seat (A.K.A. no recusal and) votes on the item. He admitted working with a developer to place 4 duplexes on property. One of the reasons I think the Planning Commission started doing most of the agenda on consent was because of the multiple conflicts the board members have. Item 5A was placed on the regular agenda, but that didn’t stop Luetke, he remained in his chair, admitted to helping the developer to develop the land and voted on the item.

While former councilor Brekke had a great suggestion to put city staff, councilors and board members thru ethics training, It seems they need something more simple like what the three words ‘Conflict of Interest’ mean.