Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls' ↓

UPDATE: Sioux Falls Homeless Task Force meeting videos are getting more and more delayed

UPDATE: I was informed this morning that the meeting video will not be available due to the audio missing. Not even sure how that happened?

This is the 3rd time I have requested from Chair Merkouris that the video from the latest task force meeting be posted to YouTube. Considering it is Saturday now, it is highly unlikely we will see the video until Monday. I find it interesting the closer they get to making recommendations the meetings being posted are an afterthought.

Most people can’t make the 4 PM Monday meeting time, and why I have asked for it to be live streamed. I have not won that battle. For reference and someone who is familiar to how videos are posted to YT, it literally only takes a couple of hours to post a video, if that, and usually the computer does all the work with very little interaction from the person uploading the video.

A couple of things so far that has come from the meetings is funding a pilot program for a street teams, funding a Helpline software program (to connect the different services and clients) and possibly upping the funding to the different homeless services.

City of Sioux Falls hires headhunter to find Dentist

It is NOT rare for a government entity to hire a consultant to find high profile employees (Item #6, Sub Item 4);

Health, Agreement to conduct a dental practitioner search for Falls Community Health, Jackson Physician Search

But what I find astounding is that the city will put the money down to find a dentist, but NOT a police chief, fire chief, health director, audit manager, cultural officer or IT manager. Papa Poops knows best.

Teeth are important!

It also may be (and I am ONLY speculating) that since the health department gets gobs of Federal funding there are hiring requirements and the expense may be a pass thru. Not sure.

Voter turnout continues to decline in Minnehaha County

I first saw this in the past city election and now with the failure of IM 27 that for some reason, Minnehaha County residents, mostly Sioux Falls, are not showing up to vote;

What the data does show, though, is a trend.

  • For whatever reason – likely, a complex variety of factors – the number of ballots cast in local midterm elections is increasing at a much slower rate than both the number of people registered to vote and the number of people coming to Sioux Falls in general.
  • Looking at turnout percentages, it also shows Lincoln County voters turnout at a higher rate than Minnehaha County voters and overall voters statewide.
  • Minnehaha County voters saw the steepest decline in turnout, dropping below the overall statewide turnout in the last decade.

I am not sure why more people are choosing to not vote in Sioux Falls, MC. I think the rhetoric over the past few years about your vote not counting is discouraging voters, we saw this with IM 27. I have no doubt in my mind that if it would have passed, the legislature would have gutted it to nothing, I think voters assumed that.

I have told people that if the county promoted more ways to absentee vote, the numbers would rise.

Former Sioux Falls School Board President, Mickelson starts newsletter

I will have to give Cynthia Mickelson props, she is one of the rare local public servants who actually wants the public to understand what she does and why. I don’t always agree with Mickelson, but she is willing to have that conversation and provide answers when asked. She has always either returned my calls, my texts or emails and doesn’t shy away from having difficult policy discussions. You can fault elected officials for NOT being transparent or just blatant laziness but it is difficult to become frustrated with an official who wants to work with you.

Cynthia’s N/L was informative, but the chart below really astonished me with how we fund public education now, opposed to 70 years ago;

UPDATE: Did the Slaughterhouse’s confusing ballot language contribute to its failure?

UPDATE: I wanted to clarify something, I think that well over 90% of voters DID know what they were voting on, but there is always those stragglers that don’t research the ballot before they vote and make a decision in the ballot box without knowing the context. I do believe a small number of voters were confused. How do you go from polling 78% this summer to losing this fall? Before the opposition gained steam the only ads we were seeing were for vote YES, then suddenly every ad a month before the election were vote NO and vote YES, constantly, which added to the confusion. I was personally happy with the results.

Unless we are willing to make a concerted effort to close ALL packing plants in town, this really seemed like they were picking on Wholestone. I still think this ends up in court, but the biggest failure was our city council not acting on this in January or February. If we still had conditional use permitting, we could have required WF to follow a higher standard (especially when it comes to water and waste water). I’m a huge believer in the initiative and petition process, but only after all government solutions were exhausted, the city didn’t lift a finger and forced an expensive election that could have been avoided.

I knew the Rec MJ decision was going to be close, however it turned out, but it would be decisive. I can’t say that about the slaughterhouse vote. While I did vote ‘NO’ and fully agreed that if a developer or business follows the rules set in place when it comes to property and property rights they deserve to move forward. I also think there was a lot of games played along the way on both sides that would have made it hard to stop this development (including the inaction of the city council when it comes to zoning). Either way, this will still end up in court.

What I do scratch my head about is if the ballot language contributed to the confusing outcome? How is it that something can be polling 60-70% then fail on election day? Just look at polling for Medicare, Rec MJ and Noem, all polls were almost spot on (though Noem did do a lot better than expected).

Think about it. If someone tells you to vote ‘NO’ you would assume that means ‘NO’ to new slaughterhouses and a ‘YES’ vote means ‘YES’ to new slaughterhouses. Well guess what? It is vice versa.

I’m not even sure how you would clear this up, you would almost need to do an exit poll to see how people voted and how they felt. This is impossible at this point.

We may never know.

I did know who Kameron Nelson was, and that is why I voted for him. District 10 is the only place in the state where the magic happened (and District 15). I actually was let in on the ground game this summer of what Democratic District 10 candidates were doing to win that district, and they had a good game, the results don’t surprise me a bit. There was also a rumor swirling that John Mogen and Tom Sutton were personally recruited by Noem to be placeholders in District 10 so she could appoint someone if they won.

I live in an Oasis. Now where can I get some good black market weed? Asking for a friend 🙂

Speaking of the evil weed. I see the opposition’s game of ‘what about the children’ worked, and once again, Mayor TenHaken set a precedent, now influencing ballot measures and questions. I still have a glimmer of hope that peeps from the IM 27 campaign will file ethics and campaign rule complaints against those peddling lies about the measure.

Bunker Ramp Developer Proposals need to be made public

The Anti-Transparent government running city hall wants to move forward on the failed Bunker Ramp project with even less transparency than what got us in this pickle to begin with;

Powers and chief of staff Erica Beck also have updated the City Council multiple times, answered questions and solicited feedback.

“It’s important to note that some of the interest is because of the confidence we’ve been able to share with the industry and because of the collaboration between the administration and council,” Beck said. “We’ve been transparent that we’re conveying the questions, concerns and comments … and I think that will lead to a process and ultimately applications that may be more than what we first thought we might receive. We’ve received a lot of good feedback both internal and external of the city and state for that matter.”

The city plans to use a negotiated sale process to either sell or lease all or part of the site, including potentially the ramp itself.

A committee of city and community representatives will lead the evaluation process and make a recommendation. The team will start reviewing submissions in January, but there’s no hard deadline yet.

While there is certainly nothing wrong with an initial review process to boot out the ridiculous, underfunded and impossible, serious finalists and contenders need to present their proposals publicly to the city council during a special informational meeting as long as they meet investment criteria (a little problem we had the first time around).

It certainly sounds like to me a process has been set in place that will make the final decision of who takes over the property up to the non-elected planning staff, the non-elected mayor’s staff, the mayor himself and handed over to the council for rubber stamp approval.

And who can resist a property that has PLUMP utilities;

I would challenge the city council to demand that at least 3 finalists need to present publicly their plans to the council, and allow the council to have an up or down vote on those proposals.

As of right now, it would be like going to the shoe store and asking to see all of their running shoes they have in size 8, and the salesperson bringing out one pair from the store room stating, “These are our best shoes sir, you don’t need to worry about what else is in stock.”

One of the biggest reasons corruption and bad decisions are made not just locally but nationally is because those decisions are made in the dark with very little if any input from the public. Bring the public along this time and it could be less complicated.

As I have predicted, the developer will probably be a usual suspect that will get all the handouts and goodies anticipated with a deal like this. There will either be a much lower purchase price or lease agreement negotiated(?) and a tax break or TIF to boot. No developer in their right mind wouldn’t go after this opportunity WITHOUT asking for the full reach around from the city, and they will quickly oblige, heck it is even mentioned in the proposal online;

For property that is being considered for sale, the value of the property is established by a market value appraisal prepared by an independent appraiser hired and compensated by the City. Projects that will provide tangible public benefits may be eligible for various forms of financial assistance, such as tax increment financing (TIF) and property tax reduction. Consideration of the purchase/lease price, incentive request, or other request of the proposer will be weighed to determine the best project and offer to the City

In other words ‘just ask’ and you may get what you want.

Go Vote!

Keeping track of all the noise leading up until Tuesday’s election has been overwhelming, so I am going to just concentrate on the big ones with my predictions.

Some of the issues are easy to predict;

• Slaughterhouse ordinance will pass with 60-70% of the vote (this of course doesn’t really matter since it ultimately will be decided in court).

• Medicare expansion will pass with 55-65% of the vote (I think it is a pretty big no brainer when the Feds are supplying 90% of the funding – a tax pool we pay into – that it makes sense to take them up on the offer.

The next two issues are a little sticky;

• IM 27 will pass with 58% of the STATEWIDE vote. I believe that once again the urban areas will carry the measure. (I have felt for awhile that this race would be a wider margin of victory than originally predicted. With the failure of Amendment C in June it showed me that when it comes to personal freedoms being voted on in the ballot box, South Dakotans will vote to protect them. I think the anger and frustration over Amendment C and the kangaroo court that overturned the original constitutional measure, voters are coming back in full force to show the governor, the supreme court and the legislature that yes, we are adult enough to know what recreational MJ is, and we want it).

• Kristi Noem will be re-elected to another term by at least 55% of the vote. (Trust me, I would love to be wrong, and I encourage everyone to vote for Jamie Smith, but the stars don’t align. Besides name recognition and the lack of funding, Smith needed these 3 things to happen tomorrow to win;

  1. Almost all of SD registered Indies need to vote for Smith, and ALL dems need to vote for him.
  2. Libertarian candidate Tracey Quint needs to garner at least 3-4% of the Republican vote
  3. A large percentage of Republicans need to ‘undervote’ in the governor’s race (not place a vote at all for governor.)

Those stars will probably not align.

I really cannot say much about the local races except in my very own District 10, I encourage you to vote for Erin Healy and send MAGA Sutton and her placeholder husband Tom packing. I also encourage everyone to NOT fill out the judgeship portion of the ballot. There is NO choice, just a confirmation. I left it blank to protest our very broken judicial system in South Dakota.

It is supposed to be 43 degrees tomorrow at 7 AM and 53 degrees at 7 PM with light rain after 11 AM. A perfect day to spend 10 minutes voting.

Denver voters to decide if city pays for sidewalk maintenance

This isn’t something new. When councilor Staggers was still alive we had many discussions about doing a local ballot initiative to force the city to trim the trees in the parking strip and maintain city owned sidewalks abutting private property;

They will get to decide whether to shift the responsibility of maintaining sidewalks from individual property owners to the city. The proposal on next week’s ballot would also impose a tax on property owners, to help maintain the city’s current sidewalks and add them in the many parts of town where they’re missing.

The initiative we discussed was similar. If passed, it would be up to the city council and public works to decide on an additional front assessment fee based on the square footage of your sidewalk and boulevard.

The ballot measure would charge property owners based on how much of their land runs along a street, and what type of street it faces. The measure would include discounts for owners in poorer neighborhoods. Proponents say that a typical family living in a single-family house would pay about $9 a month for the improvements. Of course, people with corner lots, or businesses located downtown, could pay more.

Sioux Falls is littered with bad public sidewalks. I think a better approach is to just have the city fix it and we reimburse the costs through our front assessment.

Marshall surveyed 16 cities last year to see how much information they had about their streets and sidewalks. All of the cities kept meticulous records on where potholes appeared, and they reported being able to fill those within days. But most had no comprehensive information about the conditions of their sidewalks. Washington was the only city that provided an average response time for fixing sidewalks, and it was 270 days, Marshall said.

Kind of sounds familiar. While our pedestrian and biking infrastructure crumbles the city is busy filling potholes that have to be refilled multiple times (instead of just building better roads).

“It’s not sidewalks as the target. It’s improving walkability,” Kraft said. “It’s increasing active transportation. Sidewalks and connected sidewalk networks are a means for getting there.”


I also think new retail businesses in Sioux Falls should be required to put a small bike rack in front of their business. If businesses are required to have so many parking spaces they should also be required to provide bicycle parking.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Soehl sends out text to vote NO on Slaughterhouse ordinance

I still think this is too little too late and most voters have had their mind made up for months. But you also have to question a sitting councilor(s) sharing his opinion on a ballot measure. I remember when that backfired when councilors and the sitting mayor were against the Drake Springs outdoor pool vote.

I also laugh when people talk about WF not smelling. Oh, it will smell. I grew up on a hog farm. Hogs stink. Ironically though, we will never know if WF smells or not, since Smithfield’s stink will always be waffling in the air above and beyond anything coming from WF.

Wholestone, Video Lottery, Ticket fees and Data Harvesting

There has been a lot of talk about the upcoming election. One of the topics is Mayor TenHaken’s participation in the Anti IM 27 campaign and if it is it is legal. I have been warning people for years that PTH’s former job was being a political partisan marketing hack, and little has changed. He continues to ignore the ethics of being a politician while setting precedents when unchallenged. Paul not only is betting the farm on his input to the opponents but I also think he is doing this to harvest statewide voter data for an eventual run for Governor or Senator. It makes me laugh when Paul says he hates politics and doesn’t like being a politician, but he has done it his entire professional life and now is using PAC money from a PAC he runs to make a political stance. We will see how this plays out. I think the race is in a dead heat, but if Paul is successful in getting his SF mayoral supporters in line with his feelings on MJ he will set another precedent right in front of our faces. Even if IM 27 passes and foils his ambitions (he will still have secured the voter data), I still encourage members of the IM 27 campaign to file ethics violations against him for his political stunt as a sitting (lying) mayor.

Even if the Wholestone Slaughterhouse ordinance fails or passes (I think it will get between 70-80%) it will ultimately be decided in a court of law and NOT by voters. Why is this? For the same reason I voted NO. It is a poorly written measure that doesn’t address property rights and current zoning. Liking the concept or not doesn’t matter here, it is about law and city ordinances, and since the city council didn’t have the courage to do something about this in January here we are. Thousands of disenfranchised voters and a very nervous judge.

Speaking of the ordinance, council chair, Curt Soehl, decided it was a good idea to write a letter to the editor in support of the NO vote. I was told the entire council was advised to publicly keep quiet about the ordinance until after the election, Soehl obviously ignored them. Funny how this guy likes to tell councilors how to conduct themselves during meetings but does whatever he wants to on the side. Not just an authoritarian, but a hypocrite.

The Events Center Campus is a dump and always will be, that isn’t coming from me, that is straight from councilors yesterday at the informational meeting;

Neitzert called the proposal to spend more at the events center complex a “sunk-cost fallacy,” and unless the plan includes overhauling the entire neighborhood and creating a walkable road network, he doesn’t anticipate much success.

“We’ve been proven wrong twice,” he said. “It’s just a tough area. It just is.”

Maybe Greg learned something from his Bunker Ramp vote. The 3rd time isn’t always a charm.

Speaking of Greg, last night with the support of the mayor at the council meeting found ways to limit video lottery at a handful of casinos but did argue that it will take some stronger ordinance changes in the near future to affect change. I can guarantee lobbyists for the VL industry in SD are already nagging lawmakers to make changes to state law so they can have these mega casinos that hand out free beer. Like Wholestone, this will also be decided by a court, and also like Wholestone the City Council acted too little and too late. The city council should have been working on this for the past two decades.

A few weeks ago I addressed the city council about having a $5 dollar bond payment ticket fee at the Denty to help pay down the mortgage. This week they turned around and gave a ticket fee to the general fund of the Sports Authority for ‘Marketing’ with NO oversight. Of course this is the same city council that continues to subsidize the operations of the Pavilion while spending millions on building repairs while the Pavilion sits on a $5 million dollar savings fund. Yet some how the city may have to scrounge the money together for an additional warming shelter this winter.

The screenshot below is from the last Audit Committee meeting Councilor Jensen chaired. It was so nice of the taxpayers of Sioux Falls to fund City of Sioux Falls logo wear for councilors (instead of a simple $10 lapel nametag magnet) so that when they actually show up to a live streamed public meeting they could be promoting their Dr. Oz and Alex Jones vitamins. #justrolledoutofbed