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UPDATE: School District doesn’t want to release information that will show open enrollment has caused segregation

UPDATE: On September 4, the SFSD did a ‘partial’ presentation ABOVE on demographics. When it was asked if Super Maher has further numbers about open enrollment affects, he claimed that they have never put those numbers together, but could discuss doing it in the future. How convenient.

Shocker! A little over a month before a $300 million dollar bond vote and the School District doesn’t want to tell us their dirty little secret;

The Argus Leader submitted an open records request to the Sioux Falls School District for a demographic and socioeconomic breakdown of students by campus for the last 20 years — since the last bond election — to see how those numbers might have changed over time.

But the district said it will cost more than $1,200 to release the public information, stored in an electronic database. The Argus Leader had not pursued the request further as of Thursday.

I find it hard to believe it would cost $1,200 to email a data base. If that is the case, the school district needs to immediately fire their IT director for incredible incompetence.

I have said all along the School District needs to end open enrollment, redistrict and draw new boundaries BEFORE building new schools.

I have been told by several parents that they open enroll their kids in other schools besides the ones in their districts because they don’t want their kids going to ‘certain schools’ with ‘certain students’. While I would hope they are not talking about race, I do know they don’t want their kids going to the ‘poor schools.’

The Argus needs to shell out the $1,200 and demand the information before the vote, and they need to do it NOW before they have a chance to ‘fudge’ the numbers, because that is what they really mean by the $1,200 price tag.

This bond vote will go down in history as an incredible travesty, and I just hope at least 41% of the voters have the brains to see through this sham.

Even with record building permits, why can’t the school district trust capital outlay to fund new school construction?

First, the puzzling news today that the school district doesn’t have a Plan ‘B’ if the bond fails. I would think if it fails on September 18, they would quickly go back to the drawing board and present another bond to be on the ballot in November. Makes you wonder if they are just assuming they have it in the bag. Things that make you go ‘Hmm.’

But what is even more puzzling to me is that they don’t want to pay for these schools through the capital outlay by raising levees when we have had close to a decade of record building permits. With all this new commercial tax revenue coming in (and housing prices going through the roof) you would think it would be a cake walk to just borrow half now and pay down the rest through the levees?

This whole thing stinks to high heaven.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Council to Dissolve TWO TIF’s on Tuesday

UPDATE: It seems they are moving forward with a ‘Market Rate’ apartment project and this is why the TIF is being dissolved. Funny how a TIF is now not needed since they are going to build apartments that they can charge whatever for rent. Further proof all TIFs are is developer welfare.

Many people have been asking about a supposed project North of Sunshine Grocery Downtown that received a TIF and why it hasn’t proceeded.

It seems that TenHaken administration is taking action by asking through resolution to have the council dissolve that TIF and the TIF that COSTCO never accepted. As I understand it, Norm Drake from Legacy is somehow involved with the Downtown TIF (part of it is where the current temporary dog park is located) and COSTCO opposed their TIF from the beginning because they don’t like how TIFs take from public education funding.

As I have been saying about the $190 million dollar bond issue, why are we borrowing so much on the backs of homeowners while wealthy developers are getting tax rebates? Just another reason why the Bond issue AND TIFs are flawed.

Council Agenda Items #46-47

Details Below;

Should the Sioux Falls School District have an independent audit before they borrow money?

A SouthDaCola foot soldier informed me today that my letter made the dead tree version of our local paper (but I can’t find it online) so I have it below. But he told me that after working for the SFSD that their is incredible administrative waste and there should be an audit.

I wonder when the last time the School District was externally audited?

My letter;

We have NO choice but to build new schools. But if we borrow the entire $190 million we will pay up to $110 million in interest over the life of the loan. That is $110 Million to bond investors, NOT education.

The school district has presented NO plan on early payoff and no fiscal plan on staffing the new schools. They also have NO plan to end open enrollment which has created segregation, NO plan for redistricting until after the new facilities are built and NO idea where the new schools will be located.

Some members of the Envision task force that organized this bond vote have significant conflicts of interest in financial and technical contracts with the District.

The District has already spent thousands on a push poll survey postcard and Ignite Newsletter. It is a possible violation of state campaign rules using tax dollars to promote a bond issue.

The 13 precinct vote centers election mostly in the southern part of the district is also troublesome. The election should be held with the general in November. Not only would it make it more convenient, cost less, have a higher voter turnout and use all the precincts it would also be electronically documented. The E-Poll books being used for the vote center special election failed during the statewide primaries. If not working properly there could be repeat votes and NO way of tracking them since we are hand tabulating the vote.

There is a better way.

I suggest we borrow only $100 million and pay for the future facilities through the capital outlay over time. The District’s finance department said they couldn’t ‘trust’ Pierre regulating levees. The Sioux Falls School district spends thousands lobbying our State Legislature. They need to do a better job. Either plan will raise our taxes, but I believe this alternative plan will put more of our tax dollars towards the projects and less to bond investors. VOTE NO on September 18 and tell the school district to go back to the drawing board with a fiscally responsible plan.

Vote NO on School Bond ‘Mystery’ group making Robocalls

I have been trying to figure out who the group is behind a ‘VOTE NO’ robocalls on the school bond issue.

I have no idea.

My guess is it is a anti-tax group with possible ties to Americans for Prosperity.

If anyone can put me in touch with them that would be great. I would like to help them anyway possible (unless of course they are an anti-public education group).

Two Sioux Falls City Councilors supporting troublesome school bond issue

Councilors Kiley and Erickson have joined the drum beat of public officials who are encouraging people to vote yes for the school bond issue. It is well within their 1st Amendment rights to voice their opinions. What is troublesome though is that we have elected officials who support not only a dubious election but a very wasteful bond loan. For every $3 we put towards this in tax dollars over $1 goes towards interest and bond investors. Over a $100 million of tax dollars that will never be spent on education.

Another city councilor has worked behind the scenes to try to get the election to use ALL of the precincts, no E-Poll books and have the vote be electronically counted by the Minnehaha County Auditor. Their request fell on deaf ears.

The E-Poll books failed in the primaries because the company that created them no longer services them (Hart Interactiv) and another company, B-Pro has stepped in to try to get them to work. If the E-Poll books don’t work properly there is no way of knowing if people voted multiple times, and if they are hand counted, there is no way of knowing if ballots have been tampered with.

While the election process and extreme waste of tax dollars is troubling in itself, it upsets me even more that we have two public officials promoting this.

Talk about a lack of fiscal responsibility and democratic principles.

Sioux Falls School Bond issue incredible waste of education tax dollars

I’m not naïve, I can see the writing on the wall. This special election with a small number of precincts will probably only get supporters out to support the bond issue. In other words my opinion is starting to change, they may just have a good chance of getting this bond passed by the 60% + 1 threshold.

But let’s face reality here.

One argument I hear a lot from my friends who support these bonds is that we need to spend MORE on public education. I couldn’t agree more. But where we fail on this bond issue is the incredible waste involved. Basically for every $3 of tax dollars expended, only $2 of it goes towards education. We are borrowing $190 million with $110 million in interest. The $110 doesn’t get spent on education, it goes straight from our wallets in the form of property taxes to bond investors. Not one single penny of it will be spent on education. What makes it even worse is that the bond investors live all over the country and possibly world, so that money won’t even get recirculated in our economy.

So you ask what the solution is? Well, I think we should take out smaller bonds that can be paid off faster using the capital outlay. While our taxes most likely will go up (there is No escaping that fact), this allows MORE money to go towards the actual projects instead of bond interest. It also stretches out the debt and tax increases. This is something Public Works Director Mark Cotter suggested during the task force meetings and was told they couldn’t trust Pierre. A horrible excuse to blow $110 million of tax dollars on bond investors instead of education.

The other sad reality is that this $190 million is only being spent on brick and mortar. There is no long term plan to staff the schools and where that money will come from.

I hope people wake up before September 18 and come out in droves to vote down this incredibly dubious bond proposal that only lines the pockets of banksters and does very little in helping education in our community.


UPDATE: Sioux Falls School District continues to crank out propaganda while possibly breaking state election/campaign laws

UPDATE: Super Maher was at Dem Forum today and we should have video up soon. I asked him about the super precincts and why they did it that way. He said he ‘struggled’ with doing it with the General which would have saved money and made it more convenient, though he argued the super precincts would make it more convenient. NOT AT ALL. I appreciate his honesty though by admitting it is NOT as convenient. I’m not sure how this bodes for a 60% passage. I still think they would have had a better chance in the general. I still think this will fail with a 55% approval.

Missteps by the School District continue to mount.

The story going around is that the district mailed out around 60k of the ‘Ignite’ flyer. Or as a foot soldier said to me last night, “Have you seen the ‘G-nite’ flyer.”

As someone who has worked in printing and design for over 25 years, I will hold back on my critique of the poorly designed piece and only focus on how our tax dollars are being spent. (they put the important budget information in 4 point type)

First, the entire piece seems to be in violation of state campaign laws by expending tax dollars to promote passing the school bond. They pretty much say everything besides ‘Vote Yes’. Ding. Ding. Ding. You lost.

NOTE: Super Maher will be at Dem Forum Friday at NOON spreading the love.

Click to enlarge images


But the best piece was by School Board President, Alberty;


You know, I have met Kent a few times, I didn’t know he was a comedian. Isn’t it ironic he points out that when you have ‘joint’ elections with all the precincts, voter numbers go up AND in another ironic move claims he is ‘saving us money’ by having a stand alone super-precinct election.

Hey Kent, I heard they offer remedial math classes at SE Tech. You may be able to get a discount. Not sure? But worth looking into.

You would save us thousands of dollars by having it with the general election AND you would get a larger voter turnout. But what makes his article ‘comedy hour’ is bragging about saving us a couple of grand while asking for a $300 million dollar tax increase. That’s gold Kent! Gold!

So let’s look at the 13 precincts, and obvious attempt to circumvent the YES vote. I circled the wide swaths of areas in red that will not have ‘vote centers’. Notice the NORTH end again is ignored. The central poorer area is ignored. But for some strange reason, the ‘nice school’ districts have vote centers AND all of sudden the school district has recinded their NO precincts at schools rule that they have during other elections. Interesting.

As I have mentioned in the past, this is possible violation of Federal Law. But hey, when we are breaking state campaign laws, why not break Federal ones too.

This entire election is a SHAM, and I encourage everyone to VOTE on September 18 a resounding NO and make our school board and administration go back to the drawing board.

We can educate our kids better, we can END segregation through ENDING open enrollment and we can do it fiscally prudent. Let’s make it a priority that the education of our kids come before the profits of banksters, bond salesman and contractors. We deserve better and the School Board and Administration should be ashamed of this plan, it is disgraceful.

Anti-Citizen (Municipal) League continues to lobby against our best interests

The taxpayer funded legislative lobbyist Muni-League decided to rear their head again with the city council’s supposed ‘legislative’ priorities (Item #15). But some councilors weren’t buying it. Stehly had an issue with TIFs, some wondered how the county’s priorities got mixed in with it, and councilor Brekke was curious when they even talked about it.

The rumor going around is that a couple of councilors met with Minnehaha County Chair, Heiberger and cooked this up with the help of the Muni-League.

And let’s talk about them. We pay them to lobby for higher taxes (they continually try to sucker the legislature into letting cities raise an extra penny tax for ‘special projects’ with a sunset clause. NO taxes ever ‘sunset’. Once implemented, they are there forever. Look at the 3rd penny entertainment tax in SF for paying off Pavilion bonds. That tax was supposed to sunset after the bonds were paid off. That was 4-5 years ago. Still exists. They also support TIF’s which are nothing more than a tax rebate/welfare program for developers. Most times they have little to NO economic impact except raising property taxes on the rest of us.

It’s time the city cuts ties with the Muni-League. The Sioux Falls city council already has a legislative director/operations manager that makes close to $100K a year. The council praises his hard work, and he is very capable of lobbying for the city. As taxpayers we don’t need to pay another lobbyist to lobby against our interests.