Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls' ↓

Will Amazon actually drive wages down?

Remember the promise of the economic impact we were promised from the Events Center? It has actually been a drain on taxpayers and most of the profits made at the facility go straight out of town to the performers and promoters.

Will Amazon have the same effect on wages in a town already with low wages in unskilled labor and very little unions;

A Bloomberg analysis of government labor statistics reveals that in community after community where Amazon sets up shop, warehouse wages tend to fall.  In 68 counties where Amazon has opened one of its largest facilities, average industry compensation slips by more than 6% during the facility’s first two years, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In many cases, Amazon quickly becomes the largest logistics player in these counties, so its size and lower pay likely pull down the average. Among economists, there’s a debate about whether the company is creating a kind of monopsony, where there’s only one buyer—or in this case one employer.

While Amazon’s arrival coincides with rising pay in some southern and low-wage precincts, the opposite is true in wealthier parts of the country, including the northeast and Midwest. Six years ago, before the company opened a giant fulfillment center in Robbinsville, New Jersey, warehouse workers made $24 an hour on average, according to BLS data. Last year the average hourly wage slipped to $17.50.

I have warned people that once Amazon opens it’s warehouse in Sioux Falls you will see the job market turn upside down, overnight. We should be careful what we wish for.

I warned about lack of plowing on residential streets

Well, if you think the residential streets are bad tonight, wait until the mess 24 hours from now.

I have been gradually seeing the past 3 years how the public works/street department in some weird effort to save money, has been neglecting to plow residential streets claiming ‘mother nature’ will do the job for them.

Sorry, that’s not the case in late December McFly.

Last Wednesday we had a blizzard that left about 3-4 inches and massive drifts on residential streets, none of it was plowed or removed. Yesterday we had another 2-3 inches added on top of that with little to no snow melt. The residential street I live on has well over 4 inches of half sloppy have compacted snow with several drift piles.

Oh, but it gets better, we are getting another 4-6 inches or more tomorrow on top of what is already making residential streets dangerous.

The main roads and emergency snow routes have been clean for a long time. Couldn’t the street department at least hit the troubled residential streets before we get hit in the morning?

I will remind people the main reason we pay taxes is for essential services, fire, police, street maintenance, you get the picture, unfortunately city hall thinks we need to save money on these things while we bail out non-profit private movie theaters, pay the salaries of management for closed entertainment facilities and give massive tax rebates to developers.

I’m still surprised I didn’t see volunteer church groups out scooping side streets yesterday. Don’t laugh, we are getting to that point with Prophet Stoneless running this city.

Is the City of Sioux Falls looking for an Insurance Policy against Ethics Legal Corruption?

I’m hearing rumors today that the Public Assurance Alliance that insures Sioux Falls and other SD municipalities is looking to add a policy that would secure legal expenditures for elected officials who may have legal expenses due to ethics complaints.

The Alliance already covers city employees (non-elected officials) for these things, but would make an extension to those elected by the public.

You already may know my opinion on the matter.

If this is true, stay tuned for further commentary on how I oppose this taxpayer expense.

City of Sioux Falls to hire Police Recruiter

The city is going to add a person to the already crowded HR department and pay them between $63-70K a year to read police officer applications. Since the rules have changed and the city can now train it’s own officers it makes sense to have someone who can recruit and retain officers.

But I have some concerns. First the obvious, while most jobs listed on employment sites for the city pay around $12 an hour (seasonal part-time) I’m curious about paying someone this much especially when starting pay for officers is around $50K a year. Secondly, while the HR department should have someone specializing in this, I hardly think this will take up 40 hours a week. They could easily have another person in the office handling this. Also remember this person is essentially a screener, I’m sure applicants that make it thru the process will be interviewed by the Police Chief before being hired. It would probably be cheaper to hire a consultant to find applicants than having a full-time person. This is how the city has operated for a very long time, throwing pennies to the union minions and big time salaries to mid-management to work from their basements.

The city does need to recruit officers, but seriously, use the overpaid staff you already have in HR.

More transparency for Sioux Falls in 2021

Hopefully we will have Covid under control or at least manageable early summer. I have a feeling once the vaccine is available to the general public we will turn the corner very quickly. I also look forward to hopefully having a full season of The Levitt concert series. Heck even a half-season would be fine with me.

But my biggest concern in the city is the continuing decline of transparency in government. This is what happens when you put partisan hack authoritarian fascists in charge of local NON-PARTISAN government. Power goes straight to their heads and the way to control that power is thru secrecy. I also think these very un-democratic measures by our local government and state government may quell a bit when the orange menace in Washington is finally shown the door. The next 30 days is going to be the scariest and most embarrassing Trump circus we have ever seen.

I could certainly go on a very long rant about Mayor TenHaken’s lack of leadership and absence of intelligent decisions but where I really get worked up is his deep hatred for transparency. I really think his hatred comes from his years of being a partisan hack in the political advertising world. Keeping strategies from your opponent is essential to beating them. Unfortunately, Paul has carried that philosophy over to actually serving in office. He is also very keen on trying to punish his political enemies and it shows in his extreme paranoia he uses to justify his secrecy. I know he won’t make these changes on his own, so we may need to force his hand on a couple of these things in 2021;

• Hold weekly mayoral press conferences. This could be something as simple as 15 minutes of presentation and 15 minutes of questions from the press, at NOON on Tuesdays, live stream on YouTube and FB and replay in YouTube. This could be an essential step towards transparency. It would also require the mayor to educate himself with what is really going on in the city.

• Settle the Bunker Ramp lawsuit. This fiasco has been going on for far too long, this needs to be mopped up so we can try to promote a new development on the site. The bunker ramp is a prime example of the ultimate failure of local government on so many levels. City employees, dubious developers, two mayors and around 10 city councilors royally screwed us on this deal. I would really like to see a formal apology sometime in 2021 from those involved in this fraud against taxpayers. But like most authoritarians who love secrets, no one will ever come clean on this. The denial so pathetic I have often said everyone involved should either resign or be fired.

• Revoke Sioux Steel’s TIF. We still have no idea where this project is going, and since it has already been delayed for a year, it is time to revoke the original TIF. If they still do the project, it is obvious it will change from the original intentions, which means they must apply for a new, down scaled TIF, or better yet, NO TIF at all. This is another example of the highly secretive planning department that works quietly behind the scenes with developers to ‘recommend approval’ (ironically, something else that needs to be revoked in 2021 also).

• Overhaul the TIF program. As I have suggested for over a decade, the TIF program should be moved into the community development office and short term property tax rebates should be given to individual home owners and small rental properties for cleaning up properties in Central and Proper Sioux Falls. I actually believe cleaning up the core of our city (private properties, sidewalks, streets, curb and gutter, street lights, etc.) would have an enormous impact on the local economy. In fact studies done across the nation have shown that cleaning up cities from the inside out and creating strong density in the core boosts the local economy. Instead of dumping millions into new infrastructure in cornfields in Lincoln county we need to concentrate on cleaning up our core.

• Eliminate SIRE for good. This POS City Council online agenda reference service has been broken for as long as I can remember. If the software was an employee it would have been fired 15 years ago. The city continues to dump money into this joke of a system, and with all the technological advances you would think the city would have replaced it by now. But see, the city likes it this way, it gives them an excuse for hiding agenda items from us. The city’s legal department has also been titling agenda items with no direct references to what the agenda item is about. This is also an attack on open government and needs to end.

• City Council Ethics rules overhaul. There are no clear ethics rules. Every time the council gets tried for a possible violation, they slither out of it by claiming it is too vague or broad. And even if there is proof a councilor or mayor violated ethics, as did Neitzert and TenHaken, the majority of the council dismisses the charges. The ethics board isn’t much better, often claiming ‘law’ permits councilors to violate ethics, though they have nothing to do with each other. I also have the right to say ‘F’ck’ a thousand times a day in public, but ethically know that is probably not such a good idea.

• Public input needs to be moved to the beginning of the meetings again. Of course we will probably have to wait until the next municipal election in 2 years to overturn this moronic and authoritarian move, but in the meantime we plan to have a little fun with the move and some possible 1st Amendment ‘challenges’.

• A major overhaul of the Home Rule Charter. This was attempted with ‘Triple Check the Charter’ but the Rat Finks prevailed. Next time around we will take on a new approach and when the smoke clears, they will wish the last attempt passed because the 2nd attempt isn’t going to be pretty and if it passes, there won’t be a lot of people standing.

We need to return transparency to City Hall in 2021 and not only get it back, but make it more open than it has ever been and put the changes permanently in place. Open government not only saves taxpayers money but makes government more efficient. Also, a well informed public functions better and gets more involved with important decisions in our community.

Here’s hoping for a better 2021, one with more information and less viruses and orange people.

My Covid Experience

Before I tell you about what I went thru (which isn’t that great of a story) I want to make it clear that I still support mask mandates (when shopping in public) and social distancing if eating out. I also think that the bars should limit patrons, because right now, it seems like they are a free for all. I also support vaccinations as soon as we can all get them. While my case wasn’t serious enough to hospitalize me and cause any long term effects (that I know of) it is very serious for people with underlying health conditions and other issues such as lack of health coverage, food security or employment.

While my illness probably wasn’t as dire as it is for other people, I can tell you one thing IT IS NOT THE SEASONAL FLU. All symptoms are much worse, and it lasts much longer. I was sick for around two weeks. Bad dry cough and headaches were my main symptoms. I also lost my smell and taste, and still only have partial back at this point. It is also hard to sleep when you have Covid due to chills or sweats, weird dreams and coughing/breathing. Like I said, I was fortunate to not have any serious breathing or lung issues, but I will say the worst part of the illness is the horrible headaches that last for days. I also did not receive any prescriptions. I basically battled through the symptoms with nasal spray, cough drops, lots of hydration, rest and Ibuprofen.

I was fortunate to have insurance and an employer who covered test costs and wages while I was sick.

The one thing I learned is that Covid could have been manageable not just nationally, or statewide but locally. We probably would not have had to close down a lot of things if we would have implemented a long term plan back in March so that businesses could stay open. I don’t know where I got the illness, but likely at work, but I do go out shopping so who really knows. The infection rate is so high right now I could have gotten it anywhere. I firmly believe that if Smithfield’s would not have had that large outbreak, we would have contained it pretty easily in Sioux Falls.

The most frustrating part about the pandemic is how we got to this place. If the Trump administration would have followed the pandemic plans left by the Obama administration and not disbanded the office we may have been in better shape than we are today. It also doesn’t help our country and state are led by lying idiots.

A part of me is relieved I got it once to experience and at least have short term immunity, hopefully long enough until I can get a vaccination. But I am also not naïve, I do realize I still am vulnerable and will practice all the same precautions I did before I got it. The way I look at it, I have been working in the office since it’s inception and it took this long to contract the virus, so the precautions I was taking at home, shopping or at work seemed to have mitigated it quite well and are a testament to mitigation efforts working if you apply them early and often as I did at work and while out in the community.

There is one important lesson I have learned from Covid, you have to take matters in your own hands if you want to keep yourself safe. No one else is going to save you. Leaders across the nation and locally have this enormous unwillingness to do anything, they call if ‘freedom’ I call it ‘incompetence’. This incompetence doesn’t have much affect on someone like me who has managed to stay safe, stay working and a roof over my head, but it does affect the vulnerable in the community. Leadership is not something I need either, I can easily make my way out of a wet paper bag. But government is not only for those who can fend for themselves, it is for those who need that extra help, that is what makes our Republic so remarkable, we help those in need and less fortunate. During this pandemic, we have failed these folks. While I count my blessings everyday since this started, even when I was in the middle of the floor coughing my brains out, I still felt awful for those who were not going to get thru this. Our supposed leaders failed us on this pandemic, and we all should be truly ashamed.

It is time for the City of Sioux Falls to stream meetings on YouTube

What has often baffled me about Mayor TenHaken being this supposed tech geek is that he hasn’t embraced the simplest of technologies, that are ironically free. Cities across the nation have been using the FREE service of YouTube to stream their meetings (and keep a FREE record of them) for a long time. The South Dakota cities of Rapid City and Mitchell use the service. Locally the Minnehaha County Commission and the Sioux Falls School Board use it. Even the City of Sioux Falls has it’s own channel but only posts a handful of CityLink propaganda shows and a few press conferences preferring to stream only on Facebook (which you have to subscribe to).

Besides the fact that there is NO subscription required to watch the meetings on YouTube and the service is essentially FREE to the city and taxpayers, it helps with access and transparency. Also, increasingly, the service the city uses to stream official city council meetings, SIRE, is failing us, it has for over a decade and it is getting worse and worse. Last week only half of the informational was streamed live in SIRE and there was another meeting where only audio was working (I think it was the planning meeting).

Is YouTube perfect? No. But it has a good track record and seems to work just fine for thousands of other local governments across the country.

I told someone that the city has probably chosen to NOT use YouTube streaming because they can’t waste money on it and it wasn’t one of their new fangled ideas. In fact the former mayor had the media department purge hundreds of YouTube videos on their site before he left office. To this day we don’t know why.

But the real reason this mayor and his administration refuse to do this is because THEY HATE TRANSPARENCY AND OPEN GOVERNMENT.

Bottling up all that Hate Paul isn’t good for you . . . or us.

Is the City of Sioux Falls leasing ambulances that we are not using?

If you watch the testimony last night at the Sioux Falls City Council Meeting (FF: 4:20) from a division fire chief about our leases with Paramedics Logistics you get some questions answered, and have even more when it concludes.

Apparently we do get reimbursed for rides we give with the leased ambulances. Paramedics Logistics bills the client, than we bill them. So how much has that reimbursement been? $0.

Why? Because according to this division chief we have never used the leased ambulances yet for transports. So why are we leasing them? Good question.

But I have also heard through the grapevine that SFFR are in fact transporting patients, but are using OUR ambulances that we already have.

So a few questions here, if the city doesn’t have an ambulance license how can we responsibly be transferring patients when it comes to liability issues using our ambulances instead of the ones we are leasing? Also, if we are using our ambulances, how are we billing for these rides? My guess is we are not, and if we are, how does that work? Who gets the money? General fund or SFFD?

There are still many holes in this lease agreement for two stationary ambulances.

I’m not sure if the division chief was either partially lying, partially telling the truth, or just leaving out huge swaths of what is really going on? Hopefully Councilor Starr who was questioning him last night will ask for the data.

UPDATE: Experience Sioux Falls ‘Covid Tourism’ still rolling

Looks like they are still promoting covid tourism in Sioux Falls using $250K of our taxdollars that were funneled thru the CVB to Mayor TenHaken’s former(?) ad agency, Click Rain. Not only is promoting tourism during a raging pandemic completely idiotic and stupid, you question the recipients of this contract.

So it seems councilor Erickson’s casual plea to the CVB to put the promotion on hold went no where, as I suspected.

Maybe people should ask Paul tomorrow night on his FB live feed if he is benefitting in anyway from this dubious transfer of money?

UPDATE: During Paul’s fireside chat tonight he talked about political division in our community and blamed Facebook and told people they should spend less time on Facebook. Ironically, he was telling us this while rolling a live video on Facebook. I know, the guy enjoys tripping over himself. I have often suggested that the mayor, any mayor of Sioux Falls, should have a weekly press conference, stream it on YouTube and take questions from the press, just talking about the weekly business of the city. 15 minutes of agenda, 15 minutes of questions (and give the media a microphone so we can hear their questions). I agree, stop playing FB games and take your job seriously.

In other news, I see that the South Dakota Fascist Republican Party’s chair, Iowa Dan will be replacing Noem as a presidential elector, it seems Noem is in Washington at some dumbass Trump rallies (someone should really tell these children he lost the election 5 weeks ago)

UPDATE: I guess this is untrue, not sure where she is? The rumor going around is that she is quarantining due to her exposure to Covid this past week. If Noem has Covid or is just simply playing it safe by quarantining I wonder if she will ever tell the public?

I wonder if they have to meet in Jason Ravnsborg’s basement on Monday to vote? Can a Iowa businessman even be a South Dakota Elector? Oh, nevermind, SD Republicans are not real big on rules, ethics, morality, truthfulness, open government or high IQ’s.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Dec 15, 2020

City Council Informational Meeting • 4 PM

• November 2020 Financial Statements by Shawn Pritchett, Director of Finance (No supporting documents yet)

City Council Regular Meeting • 6 PM

Item #6, Approval of Contracts (Seems the mayor’s office has been busy spending money in some mysterious ways);

Sub Item #5, Great Bear Chairlift Replacement, $1.379 Million. (While we are fussing about a $95K remodel of a historic house in Tuthill park we are paying this amount to replace a chair lift in the middle of a pandemic. Makes sense.)

Sub Item #10, Extending Lease Agreement for two ambulances with equipment for use by Fire/Rescue to provide for surge capacity ambulance service on a limited capacity for an additional term of 90 days ending 2/21/2021. Paramedics Logistics South Dakota, LLC dba PatientCare EMS. $1.00 per month, per vehicle. (I would really like to know the details of this agreement, like how many rides the SFFR is giving and if we are getting reimbursed?)

Sub Item #17, Centralized Facilities Improvements – Central Fire Station Kitchen Remodel; Ronning Enterprises, $220K (Wow, that’s quite the remodel job! Like I said, anytime the city does anything it always costs 3 to 4 times more than what you and I would pay.)

Sub Item #23, Human Resources, Customized education program designed to enhance participant’s ability to collaboratively lead change and foster a servant leadership attitude. University of South Dakota, on behalf of its Beacom School of Business, $40K (So now we are giving business training to city employees to have a ‘servant’ attitude. Weird sh*t.)

Sub Item #24, Human Resources, Professional Services including but not limited to Strategic Planning, Mentoring and Coaching, Intersections Consulting (more training, not sure what for????)

Sub Item #29, Belbas Theater Projection System Upgrade; $68K+ (I may be mistaken, but I thought this was just upgraded a few years ago?)

Sub Item #32, Engagement Agreement for Foundation Park TIF Provide legal services relating to Foundation Park TIF Project, Davenport, Evans, Hurwitz & Smith, L.L.P. $6k (So why are taxpayers paying for a TIF agreement? I have a feeling this TIF is going to cost us quite a bit . . .)

Item #18, 2nd Reading, Mask Mandate extension.

Item #23, 1st Reading, Re-Zone, (I guess the neighborhood is opposed to this because it was zoned office just a couple of years ago and when the developer couldn’t move it for that he changed his mind and wants to put up apartments. Here is a comment from a neighbor that was emailed to the council;

I am writing this letter with the concerns of the proposed rezoning of the corner of 22nd and S. MARY Beth Ave. I purchased my home a little over a year ago, 1604 S. Mary Beth, before I purchased the home the corner was zoned O and west of Mary Beth single family homes. With that taken in to consideration we made the purchase of our new home. I would have never bought this home with the understanding that there would be an apartment complex going on that parcel of ground. With apartments come more traffic and with the main entrance onto MaryBeth our once quite street will have traffic none stop. The value of our homes will decrease and crime will go up. These are proven facts. We will have a towering apartment complex with renters peering in our back yards, all for only the good of the City, MORE TAXES THAT the City will collect from the Developer. It is so unfortunate that the City does not realize this and NOT Approve the rezoning of this ground.

I always find these rezones interesting. I will just warn the neighborhood, you will probably lose this one, the developer in Sioux Falls usually wins 99.999% of the time (unless they are immigrant or a minority). Good Luck.

Item #24, 1st Reading. You can only get Papa John’s Pizza at the Aquatic Center, maybe that is why attendance is down?

Item #27, Resolution, City Council Legislative Priorities, looks like they are still pushing TIF’s;

The Sioux Falls City Council supports tax increment financing (TIF), an economic development tool that has led to millions of dollars in increased property value, benefitting both the state as a whole and the local entities sponsoring the districts, while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the process.

This statement is the biggest line of B.S. I have ever heard. It says nothing about good paying jobs or benefits to the community as a whole, that’s because TIFs are just a ruse. The last line made me laugh. What does that even mean? Integrity would be doing a study showing us the benefits of TIFs, there have been none. And when it is brought up, all you hear is cricketts.