Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls' ↓

The Sioux Falls City Council should pass a Alert Siren ordinance

Last I checked the charter says the Council is the policy body of the city. In other words, it is not up to the Emergency Manager or even the Mayor to determine how that siren is used, and it is pretty obvious the administration doesn’t want to make any changes. If the city council passes a new emergency siren ordinance that dictates when it should be used, the administration and city employees must follow it.

Last night the city had a severe storm blow thru with large hail. Not only were the sirens not used (4 AM) I never received an alert on my phone and other people told me their weather radio didn’t not go off either. I thought we were told to depend on other alert systems? But they were NOT used? Why?

I think it is time for the city council to model an ordinance similar to what Pennington County does (multiple emergencies and weather events). The problem is it is hard for a bunch of sheep to cry wolf.


Of course, this should not surprise anyone. The word on the street was he was asked again to read the proclamation in person and said he has scheduling conflicts. I guess it went a step further and they asked him to video record it in advance if he couldn’t make it. Not sure what the answer was to that? Either way, it has become pretty obvious that the mayor isn’t big on the gays. But if you really feel a certain way about the lifestyle, why not just tell them that you personally do not approve and would feel uncomfortable with doing the proclamation instead of making excuses every year? Surprised he just didn’t contract it out to 211 like he did with his mentorship program.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls Developers want to use trickle down economics to build affordable housing

It didn’t work when Reagan proposed it, and it won’t work now. IRAB (INFRASTRUCTURE REVIEW ADVISORY BOARD) is proposing waving platting fees for new housing developments;



1.     Approve June 1, 2022 Agenda

2.     Approve May 4, 2022 Meeting Minutes

3.     Light and Power Update – Developer Procured Street Light Materials

4.     Proposed Revisions to 96.220 – Arterial Street Platting Fee

5.     Proposed Revisions to 51.065 – Water Distribution Platting Fee

6.     Proposed Revisions to 51.118 – Recovery of Cost of Storm Water Drainage System

It seems developers want tax breaks for building new homes, and they will supposedly pass those savings on to homeowners. That will NEVER happen. The demand for housing is at such a high level right now developers have ZERO reason to pass on those savings, they will likely pocket the savings.

DOCS: Agenda, Distribution, Drainage, Streets, Minutes of last meeting.

UPDATE: This story lays out why housing is so expensive. WAGES!

Sioux Falls Levitt has yet to release 2021 financials

While they prepare to start their season next Friday, the Levitt has yet to release their financials, tax return or annual report from last year.

A couple of weeks ago a city official told me that the Levitt has NOT completed the tax filings and audit yet. Kind of odd how you can budget for another season without knowing how you did in 2021?

These financial statements are important because the Levitt receives public funding through the parks department, they also manage the booking of the stage for non-Levitt concerts (mostly church services) and they are a non-profit.

I am also curious what kind of money the Levitt raises through donations and other fees. There have been some wild claims made that if it were not for the private sale of alcoholic beverages at the concerts the Levitt couldn’t survive financially. Hogwash.

The Levitt has multiple funding sources. In fact they could probably raise even more money by charging a wrist band fee and cooler fee for people who wanted to bring their own adult beverages while still maintaining liquor sales from the private provider (you would only allow beer and wine in cans or plastic bottles to those who bring their own).

We will see if their annual report magically appears next Thursday 🙂

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.


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?