Entries Tagged 'Sioux Falls' ↓

How Strong Towns Principles Relate to Sioux Falls — Municipal Ponzi Scheme

I was sent this article, that I found very interesting relating to the urban sprawl of our city;

Since 2010 the City of Sioux Falls has annexed 3996 acres of land into the city. That is almost 400 acres per year. How much tax revenue did that additional property bring in? How much did it cost to annex those areas? How much will it cost to replace all the associated infrastructure when it needs replacement? The answers to those questions are hard to piece together (maybe a good use of tax dollars would be to hire a company specializing in this kind of data to pull it together for us). In the meantime, we have some anecdotal data to look at.

So Detroit is a cautionary tale for cities caught up in a municipal Ponzi scheme. Here in River City things look pretty good . Sales tax revenue is floating our boat right now. We have money in the budget. Marohn refers to this as the illusion of wealth. It looks like we have money but the residential developments on the edge of town — which don’t generate sales tax directly — are new and don’t require replacement. When that infrastructure requires replacement the property tax revenue collected in those areas probably isn’t going to be enough to pay for it. Other areas of the city that are generating revenue will have to subsidize those areas — until they can’t. It happens slowly then all at once. Welcome to Detroit.

Ironically, several years ago when I got into Strongtowns, one of the main reasons I was drawn to it’s message was what they were saying about Urban Sprawl. It soon will be very expensive to live in Sioux Falls, if we are not already there.

Did Sioux Falls Mayor TenHaken’s Deputy COS get demoted?

It is pretty unclear.

After T.J. Nelson receives a massive raise this year, he gets a different title, yet, as you notice from the graphic, continues to receive the same pay scale.

So why the title change? But not the pay scale change? Not sure. Some would argue that it wasn’t a demotion because his pay remained the same. But many do not know how the games of city hall are played.

The very unofficial rumor going around City Hall and from my various moles there is that T.J. torqued off the wrong person, so this was a little slap on the wrist. Not sure if I believe that, because as I understand it, he has evenly spread his urine to various bowls of Wheaties at city hall.

If he is still receiving the same pay with the same massive raise, was he really punished or was he rewarded for taking a lump for the mayor? Common sense would tell you that there is no good reason to change someone’s title if you are not changing their pay or role. This is all about politics folks.

As I warned you, in a time of crisis, this is the time we must watch government the closest, because they will pull these little hat tricks behind closed doors, while we are watching the distraction of the shiny ball or the latest virus closing down our telephone booth casinos.

Oh, the drama of a small prairie town. I sometimes feel like I still live in Parkston.

Count Jensen violating campaign signage rules

I don’t get too upset about this, because almost every city election cycle this happens. You are not supposed to place signs in the boulevard (parking strip) because it is city owned property. My argument is that anything the city owns, I own, but rules are rules.

While some would argue that if a candidate hands out signs to supporters, they really can’t control where the supporter puts the sign. Which is true. But you can tell the supporter to not post in the boulevard.

But what makes this case interesting is that the yard these signs are in, are a supposedly a close family member of Jensen. Rules be damned for the Chosen One!

Probably stuck there in the middle of the night.

Real leaders make tough decisions in times of crisis

While I cold certainly go on several rants about how our president and governor are handling this situation by not being proactive, even now with the data they have, I have to admit my disapointment in our mayor.

The mayor does have the power to shut down businesses that are encouraging the spread of the virus, as Cory has pointed out in our charter;

§ 92.070 PROHIBITED.

No person shall create, commit, maintain or permit to be created, committed or maintained any nuisance within the city.


Whatever is or imminently may become hazardous or dangerous to human health, whatever renders the ground, the water, the air, or food a hazard or an injury to human health, or whatever annoys, injures, orendangers the health, comfort, or safety of others… are, each and all of them, hereby declared to constitute nuisances….


When there exists on private property a condition which has been determined a nuisance by a city enforcement employee, a notice will be served in the matter specified in § 92.072. The notice will describe the matter to be removed or corrected and require removal or correction thereof within 14 days. The city health officer may shorten the timeframe for removal or correction if the health officer determines the nuisance item(s) presents a significant risk to the public health if not removed or corrected in less than 14 days. If the city health officer determines a shortened timeframe is appropriate in a particular case, the shortened timeframe shall be set forth in the notice. Any additional nuisance conditions not previously observed, or that may have been added to the property after the city’s inspection(s), must also be removed or corrected within the timeframe specified in the notice of violation.If at the end of the 14 days, or less as set forth in the notice, the nuisance has not been removed or corrected, the city shall have authority to cause the correction or removal and disposition. All costs incurred by the city for the removal and disposition of the nuisance or for correcting the nuisance shall be assessed, levied and collected as a special assessment payable in one sum or by up to five equal annual installments as the city council may provide against the premises from which it was removed, in the manner provided by law for the levy and collection of other special assessments [emphasis added; Sioux Falls City Code, retrieved 2020.03.22].

Who does the City’s Health Officer, Jill Fraken, report to? Mayor Paul TenHaken. Paul could easily ask Jill to shut down the businesses for violating code. He has this authority without the consent of the health board or the city council. An appointed city employee or an appointed volunteer city board cannot do these things on their own.

Further more in the charter, the mayor has the authority to manage the city, NOT the city council or appointed boards or employees. The charter grants him this awesome power and authority.

Don’t let Paul fool you by telling you he has to leave it up to a volunteer board, city employees or the city council. HE CAN DO IT!

So why doesn’t he? It’s really a simple answer, he doesn’t want to take the heat from businesses that will lose their shirts in this crisis. I can almost guarantee that 30% or more of small hospitality related businesses will go out of business after this (if they haven’t already). How easy will it be for PTH to wash his hands of this decision when he can point his finger at city employees, volunteer boards and the eight member, part-time city council.

Guess what Paul, it isn’t your fault either, it’s the fault of an invisible virus that got out of control. But you can do the right thing and help prevent it from causing more damage. Economies will come and go, life cannot be replaced so easily.

Paul, it is your job to handle emergency situations and crisis in this city, the council’s job is to make sure the laws and ordinances are in place to back up those decisions and the funds in place to fight this and recover. I advise you to make this decision by Tuesday morning before any meetings take place and stop this insanity. The directive is clearly in your hands.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Stehly once again has the vision of a true leader

Whether it was a misguided administration building, parking ramp, secretive task force meetings or potholes, Stehly was the first, once again;

But the safety of doing so is in question amid the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why Mayor Paul TenHaken, all eight city councilors and the City Clerk are urging Gov. Kristi Noem and Secretary of State Steve Barnett to take emergency action to postpone the April 14 election.

Theresa had been asking for at least a couple of weeks to postpone the city elections across the state while her colleagues on the council (not Starr or Brekke who have bee supportive of Stehly’s idea) have been ignoring her.

So after Starr and Cameraman Bruce organize a drive-thru absentee ballot sign up over the past two days (as I understand was very safe, with no crowded lines with people remaining in their cars) all of a sudden the rest of the council has a change of heart.

Once again Stehly was ahead of the curve on this and the rest of the city council had no choice but to follow suit. Which proves once again why she needs to be reelected.

What makes this even more egregious is that this letter wasn’t supposed to go out until after Tuesday’s Health Board decision comes out, but somehow got leaked onto FB by Erickson and then to her little slimeball friend up north. Funny how that works?

Speaking of the health board, now our great leader of the city is leaving it up to them and ultimately the city council to make the difficult decision to mandate restaurants and bars be closed, which will only domino into most non-essential businesses being closed.

While I have argued for a long time that the city council doesn’t really do squat, thank GOD we have them now to make the critical decisions that the mayor’s office cannot apparently make, or willing to make.

Mayor TenHaken could make a solid legal case for shutting down the public health threat those barhoppers pose to all of us.

This will give him more time to hand out board games to the quarantined and drive around SF taking pictures of bars’ parking lots. Sorry Paul, while being ‘Positive’ during a crisis is a good suggestion and all, it doesn’t pay the rent or cure the sick. We used to have this saying in the restaurant business when a customer would give you a glowing compliment than leave NO tip; You can’t buy groceries with a compliment.

But one more thing, the City Council also needs to mandate that the Events Center, Convention Center and Arena’s floor space be dedicated for a temporary health care facility/shelter if needed. They DO have the power to do that considering the taxpayers own those facilities. We may just make the Denty useful after all.

We also need to work with the local grocers and food banks to have a safe system to hand out food to those who need it. People soon will be unable to safely go in person to the grocery stores, even if they have the money. This hysteria could lead to looting, we don’t want to go there. We need a plan NOW on how we are going to handle food shortages.

Mayor TenHaken asking housing providers to embrace socialism

Don’t get me wrong, it is a nice sentiment on his official stationery, but there are a few issues with it. First off, while the bigger housing providers can probably float people for a few months, the little guys certainly cannot, and are in the same boat as the rest of us.

But what is even more glaring is the obvious hypocrisy. Isn’t it tragically funny how all these supposed free market conservatives are embracing socialism? Unlimited unemployment benefits, free virus testing and healthcare, deferred income taxes, deferred student loans, and sending checks to Americans (who might not even need them). Funny how socialism all of a sudden is the answer, while Dems vote for Biden over Sanders as the guy to beat Trump. What an incredible missed opportunity, TWICE! Sanders whole platform that NO ONE said he could accomplish as president is playing out before us in a matter of weeks! I watch this sometimes while imagining pig blood being splattered on me in the poor seats of the Globe Theatre.

The representation of private interests … abolishes all natural and spiritual distinctions by enthroning in their stead the immoral, irrational and soulless abstraction of a particular material object and a particular consciousness which is slavishly subordinated to this object.

Marx, On the Thefts of Wood, in Rheinische Zeitung (1842)

Like I said, I support helping my fellow brothers and sisters, but we would probably not be in this predicament if it weren’t for the greed of the few at the top. While the rich will argue they did not cause the virus or it’s spread, they are gravely mistaken. Global warming has caused disease and viruses to spread more rapidly. There is also the argument that by destroying the middle class (basically starting in 1980 by electing Ronald Reagan) most Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and cannot weather an economic crisis with savings. It’s not the virus that will kill us, it’s greed folks.

I have been suggesting since 2016 that City of Sioux Falls administrative staff work from home

One of my biggest arguments against building a new administrative building was that many city employees who do administrative duties could work from home and would probably save the city millions of dollars a year.

Many of my friends have worked from home for years. In 2009 I used to work for a financial company as the Creative Director, before we closed due to asset selloff, I was preparing to work from home 3 days a week, and was excited about the possibility.

Even farther back than that, when Governor Rounds was being ribbed about having a state airline fleet, it was suggested to him to do more teleconferencing instead of flying places for meetings.

I also find it ironic that the mayor has been urging employers to have employees to work from home when he has done similar to Rounds and has flown all over the country and even the world for ‘meetings’ he could have done via Skype from the comfort of his office, also saving tax dollars.

I hope if something good comes from this pandemic, it is that employers invest in having their employees work from home. Not only is it less stressful and makes employees happier, it would save millions in capital expenses such as large facilities to house these people. It would also save the employees money because many would not have to get expensive childcare. And happier employees have less health problems.

Working from home is a great idea that has been going on for decades in this country, it’s time to expand this option to more workers in our community. It will keep people safer, it will save money and more importantly it will save jobs. It’s too bad it took a horrible pandemic to get employers to look at this option.

RIP Former State Legislator Patrick A. Kirschman

Pat passed away this week of natural causes. I have known Pat over the past few years meeting him at the ‘Anti-Forum’ Friday lunches at the former Lil Colinga. Pat had a big heart and would help anyone. One of his pastimes was delivering absentee ballots to shut-ins and the elderly who couldn’t get out to vote in person. From Pat’s WIKI page;

  • 2008 When District 15 incumbent Democratic Representatives Kathy Miles ran for South Dakota Senate and Mary Glenski was term limited and both seats were left open, Kirschman ran in the three-way June 3, 2008 Democratic Primary and placed second with 682 votes (27.3%);[3] in the three-way November 4, 2008 General election Kirschman took the first seat with 3,132 votes (36.8%) ahead of Republican nominee Tamara Weis,[4] who had run for Senate in 2006.
  • 2010 Kirschman and incumbent Republican Representative Vanderlinde were unopposed for the June 8, 2010 Democratic Primary,[5]but were challenged in the three-way November 2, 2010 General election, where Independent candidate Jenna Haggar took the first seat and Kirschman took the second seat with 1,858 votes (31.6%) ahead of incumbent Representative Vanderlinde.[6]
  • 2012 With District 15 incumbent Representative Jenna Haggar redistricted to District 10, and incumbent Democratic RepresentativeMitch Fargen redistricted from District 8, Kirschman ran in the three-way June 5, 2012 Democratic Primary, and placed second with 361 votes (34.0%);[7] Kirschman and fellow Democratic nominee Karen Soli were unopposed for the November 6, 2012 General election, where Soli took the first seat and Kirschman took the second seat with 2,498 votes (45.22%).[8]
  • 2014 With District 15 incumbent Representative Kirschman ran unopposed in the June 3, 2014 Democratic Primary, Kirschman and fellow Democratic nominee Karen Soli were unopposed for the November 4, 2014 General election, where Soli took the first seat and Kirschman took the second seat with 1,476 votes.[9]
  • 2016 District 15 term limited incumbent Representative Kirschman ran in the June 7, 2016 two way Democratic Primary for State Senate, losing to Reynold F. Nesiba 697 votes to Kirschman’s 533 votes[10].

Democracy Dies in Darkness

Guest Post, Bruce Danielson

Martial Law? Panic? Hysteria? Summed up, we are experiencing lack of leadership. Winner takes all, is not leadership. It is authoritarianism and right in the middle of our elections? Democracy dies in darkness.

We are experiencing a strange time for our country and we the people who own it are left in confusion. We are people who live in and love our country. It is based on deist and socialist philosophies of our founding “fathers”. We share this country with our neighbors but elect people to help with governing through leadership. Our country is a shared ownership of the people of this country. No corporation or church or potentate own us or the government.

It is only through collective laziness do we let things happen to us and our government.

Our founding fathers gave us the power through tools to be responsible for the country’s survival. At its core is the accidental 1st Amendment (it was actually the 3rd Amendment) which we hold sacred. Our lives revolve around what we have grown comfortably used to with this belief in our media, religions and our rights to assemble in any form we wish.

We have a local government currently run / lead by people who have this idea it is their government to tell us what to do by edicts. The mayor’s office can issue any Executive Order they want to but they have no force of law. The Mayor can issue orders to shut down city offices and buildings but the Mayor cannot tell the City Council office building and members to shut down. It is simple separation of powers. We do not give up our democratic principles and processes because someone shouts panic.

The sparse Sioux Falls City Council meeting of March 17th, 2020.

It was interesting to attend and just watch the panic look of some of the dais members as they had to listen to the minimal information and public comments presented. Some of the pontificating bluster of a few dais members seemed to show their collective fear. A few of the blustering members showed their ignorance and fear by the way they pontificated and then voted.

Fear of the unknown is present when there are no plans to get through the crisis.

In fact there was no end date for the ordinances recently passed giving extraordinary powers to the sovereign. Why were there no sunset or renewal dates put into the ordinance? This is how authoritarian power is gained, by accident or design, it happened. Now it must be fixed.

The nastiness shown by some Councilors toward proposals presented during a time of legitimate questioning was staggering to the mind. Democracy dies in darkness meant something at that moment. We had councilmembers trying to shut down discussion just because they were afraid to think on their own. It was harsh and disgusting how the situations were handled.

Underlying it all was the developing COVID-19 issues.

The Council members showed panic and hysteria during their meeting. It was based on lackadaisical attitudes toward their leadership responsibilities. We are a representative democracy where we hire people to plan and lead us through supposedly uncharted waters to prevent fear and hysteria. What we are now watching from our national leaders, is their concerns on how they can personally make money through this hysteria. We are watching the stock market crash to the basement, we are watching the ethics of our leaders drop right along with. It has been announced in the national news how members of Congress, using inside information, sold millions of dollars of stocks just before the government announced the severity of this COVID issue. Just because it could be legal for them to buy stocks on inside information, does it make it ethical? And then to sell it on insider information?  

It does not take much historical study to see how the panics of 9/11, anthrax, stock market crash of 2008, SARS and other hysterias of the recent two decades to how see the greed of our national leaders allows these “panics” to happen and how it then makes it easier to declare. Panics allow people to gain power never before granted, to later make behaviors look more suspicious. The institutionalized lack of planning, causes panics and the power players gain more power, it is simple and historical. If we distrust our leaders for their actions or lack of sufficient actions, it is for good reason.

We have pain now because we have not stood up for Democracy.

Locally, we recently had a glad-handing mayor who promised forever pie-in-the-sky promises of good times if he “gave” entertainment palaces without any regard for the necessities required for modern, safe life. We now have a hysterical national panic even clearing the streets and stores of Sioux Falls. This panic caused in large part to pollution, sanitation and hygiene is now shutting down much of what we know. When our City Council was tasked with approving a monster sized sewer debt, the Council did not look at what the real root causes for this sudden panic requiring the spending of $265 million. Our previous mayor simply ignored the unsexy, unfun necessities of life like sewers, so he could claim boom time fun. Why burden the public with unsexy things like sewers when he could offer us PBR and singing cowboys? So during panics, reactionary votes are held encumbering society for decades to come.

Insider connections grow in panics.

We, as a people, must now bow to the corrupt practices in the darkness created by panics and hysteria? We must correct the stupid by replacing with smart.

The COVID-19 is serious. We, including the hired leaders, don’t know all the ramifications of it yet. As the news comes out, as a result this panic period, the public becomes even more disappointed in our leaders. Saying you are “Proven, Positive” does not make a leader. Being the follower of a glad-handed potentate does not make a leader. Being a power hungry authoritarian does not make a leader, it creates a dictatorship.

Build consensus through leadership, not force.

This is not a time to drop to our knees and pray just because we did not force our duly elected leaders to do the jobs they were hired to do. We are a secular society we are the owners of. We attend city meetings to try and make the voted on leaders of our government finally understand we did not vote them into office so they could just collect a paycheck. We voted them into office to actually ask question and not just pontificate.

We have seen little to no leadership so far. We have had months and years of warnings to the prepare for sewer plant upgrades, disease prevention, food safety, tree bugs, invasive species and more. What does our “leadership” do? Build play palaces on land they do not own, needlessly borrow money to complete the  play palace projects put on public agenda before most of us were born and then decide after the playthings are built incorrectly be forced to borrow even more money so the sewage works right.

Democracy does not work in darkness.

Democracy, nevertheless must not be disgraced. Democracy must not be despised. Democracy must be respected. Democracy must be honoured. Democracy must be cherished. Democracy must be an essential, an integral part of the Souvereignty, and have a controul over the whole Government, or moral Liberty cannot exist, or any other Liberty.
—John Adams, Letter to John Taylor, 12 De. 1814

Are Sioux Falls businesses heeding the Warnings of Social Distancing?

Found on FB

Yesterday during the mayor’s FB press conference he mentioned that a person asked him to call the place they worked and ask them to close entirely or work from home where possible. Paul reminded them he can certainly ‘suggest’ they close but does not have the authority to close them, which is true. This person mentioned they worked at a call center setting of around 400 people. I think know the place this person is talking about, because I have heard from other employees about how this call center’s management is virtually ignoring the warnings.

This business could certainly afford to have their employees work from home. They of course would have to set them all up with the equipment, but even after the virus passes, they could continue to have people work from home – it’s a call center for God’s sake! The sad part is when you work in a call center like that, and that close together, once one person gets sick, they all will get sick, and if they are worried about people not showing up to work now, just wait until the virus hits them. It’s extremely irresponsible and really lacks business sense.

I got word today that the governor’s office has had officials calling businesses throughout the state and asking them to close if they are non-essential. I think it is a good step, but I think eventually Noem will simply have to mandate it.

Odd how all these Republicans across the country are embracing socialism. It isn’t so bad after all? Is it?

What I find frustrating about all the mandatory government agency shutdowns (school, county and city) is while the rest of us are risking our health by going to work with very little help from the government so far, our tax dollars are paying many public employees to sit at home. The roles should be reversed, government should be working overtime right now making sure we are safe while the rest of us can work from home and self-quarantine. They could be assisting with setting up temporary hospitals and triage, helping to process tests or just delivering food to the elderly and poor.

I will defend the closing of schools, that is where it would spread the fastest. But I think all other local government employees should be pitching in. How can you take this time off, while we still head to work and pay taxes to pay your salaries while you are couch surfing? I’m not opposed to it, because we should all be working from home, but the hypocrisy is pretty stark.

I also think a better plan besides sending us checks would be a payroll tax of 0% over the next 6-12 months for those making under $100K a year and a drastic increase in income taxes for millionaires and billionaires, I would love to see at least a 40-60% income tax on them over the same time period. These people have become extremely wealthy off the backs of hard working middle class Americans, it’s time for them to step up and help us for once. That is not socialism folks, that’s just fairness.