Entries Tagged 'Unemployment' ↓

Mayor TenHaken is running out of employee options

He is now having directors double up on their duties;

Shawn Pritchett, who has served in the role of finance director since late 2018, will now also be the director of innovation and technology for the city, following the council’s unanimous approval of TenHaken’s appointment.

It is getting pretty obvious that PTH is struggling to recruit people to work for him, which he even admits;

TenHaken called Pritchett an “obvious choice” for the role, and candidly noted that he was “0 for 3” in directors of the department during his administration, which he said was one thing that made him want to look inside for a new director.

He is actually ‘0 for 12+’ when it comes to directors. I have lost count. Why is it that people either don’t want to work for Paul’s administration or only last a short time?

Maybe he needs to start merging other department heads? Like Fire and Police? Parks and Rec with Entertainment facilities? If we can’t find people to work for this mayor maybe we could just consolidate?

UPDATE: Gannett Employees set up Go Fund Me

Well, yah gotta know employees are NOT happy about a holiday furlough when they blatantly set up a Go Fund me page;

Gannett, which owns the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, the Watertown Public Opinion and the Aberdeen American News, is requiring all of its employees to take a week unpaid over the holidays. This decision affects 15 journalists.

The funds raised will be distributed evenly to help cover the lost income during the furlough week. Many of the journalists affected are young and not from the area. They are worried about not being able to pay rent and their bills while still being able to go home and see their family. This fundraiser aims to help them enjoy the holidays without stressing about rent payments.

Gannett has been doing this for several years now and it should be NO surprise to the employees. I guess over the years I have personally just gotten used to NOT getting vacation, insurance benefits or holiday pay from several of my employers (mostly hospitality). While I agree it sucks, one week unpaid is not the end of the world. If you can’t afford to miss one week’s pay out of the year, you really need to take a closer look at your finances.

UPDATE: I was informed that this page was setup by a NON employee for the employees of Gannett

UPDATE II: Is Mayor TenHaken considering City Employee Retention Bonuses?

UPDATE II: Today I heard chatter that the city employees have been openly talking about the bonus they may receive and many are happy with it. One employee mentioned this recently happened in Rapid City;

After two failed motions by the Rapid City Council Monday, 430 city employees will receive $500 in COVID-19 bonuses.

The Rapid City Council voted 6-4 to approve the bonuses for non-public safety employees who worked during the pandemic in 2020. 

Notice they are calling this a Covid bonus. I can see why it almost didn’t pass. While Sioux Falls virtually had NO shut down in the private sector a large portion of Sioux Falls city employees were allowed to work from home.

I also find it ironic that Mayor Poops is considering such a bonus (like Rapid City) after receiving this endorsement;

In the police briefing today it was mentioned that new recruits would get a hiring bonus. I am not opposed to this, because it is a normal practice for the private and public sector to offer hiring bonuses.

But it got me thinking. I thought I heard TenHaken talk about this recently;

“Our city employees are seeing the bonuses and incentives and work-from-home opportunities and every kitchen sink being thrown at employees … so we have to continue looking at how we’re being aggressive in retaining our people and making us an employer of choice,” he said. “We have to get serious about how to compete with the private sector. I have a lot of unfilled positions causing stress for the city.”

First off, besides the corner of 8th & Indiana and a couple dozen panhandlers, the city is running just fine. If we are short on city staff, it certainly isn’t being seen. Day to day operations are not any different then pre-covid.

I don’t know how the city could possibly give retention bonuses. I don’t think it has ever been done before. It would also be a troubling move for the city union(s) to accept a bonus instead of a raise. A bonus is a one time payment that really doesn’t do much to advance your salary. Every year the city council rubber stamps a property tax increase by a certain percentage, and based on their argument this is good because that compounds over the years. Raises also work that way. It would be much better for city employees to negotiate a permanent pay increase instead of a lousy stimulus check from the city and signed by Poops.

I also don’t think it is appropriate to give retention bonuses to current city employees. Studies have shown that current city employees are already some of the best paid in the region AND further more, the city is not a for-profit institution. What would this bonus be based on? Tax collection? Which is also concerning because that means we are collecting too much if we have money to throw around for bonuses to employees who are only measured by their service instead of profits. Also consider around 30% of city employees don’t even live in Sioux Falls or contribute to the tax base.

Further more, where are we at with tax collection last year? Does the mayor have some kind of inside information he is not sharing with the public and a bucket of money he can just throw at the city employees. Why not spend the money on fixing more infrastructure?

But the biggest red flag is the ethics of giving out bonuses right before a city election. It is nothing else but a huge bribe for the city employees who are eligible to vote in April. I’m not even sure that is legal?

If any of this is true (who knows with all the babbling Paul does in the interview), I encourage the Unions to reject the bonus and ask to go back into negotiations for a percentage increase instead and throw this bribe back in Poops face.

UPDATE: This was just posted on the SF City Council agenda for Tuesday informational. So there must be something going on? Bonus or Raise? We will see.

*Some of my city hall moles have told me there is something else brewing. I guess there was some secretive meetings held this week with (some select) councilors and directors in Poops Quarters about some kind private/public partnership with developers and a possible higher education institution. Probably to assist TenHaken’s Tool Team at DSU? 🙂

Living Wage in South Dakota should be at $22.50 per hour

I have been advocating for a long time that living wage in South Dakota, especially Sioux Falls should probably be nipping the heels of $20.00 per hour, imagine my surprise when this report came out;

This means that of the 50 states, (Puerto Rico and D.C. are not included) South Dakota is one which costs the least to survive in. But how does a $9.95 minimum wage match up to a $45,000 living wage?

Assuming a 40-hour work week, and 50 working weeks per year, a $9.95 wage comes to $19,900 per year. To match the living wage for South Dakota, the minimum wage would need to rise to $22.50/hour.

Our cost of living adjustments are also very high (notice housing);

While we have a governor who blabs about liberty and freedom and a mayor who decries ‘wage inflation’ you can tell the reality is that we lag very far behind and don’t look to their supposed leadership to help the situation. It’s time to start electing representation that wants to make changes instead of coddle the business elites, hospital industrial complex, and welfare developers.

South Dakota Retailers Association’s Bonehead idea

What a great idea! NOT!

Move to South Dakota, work at a designated retail business, and receive $1,000 cash.
That’s the premise of a new incentive from the South Dakota Retailers Association designed to address the workforce shortage in retail, restaurants, hospitality, grocery, trades and many other businesses.
Individuals from out of state who come to work in South Dakota can qualify to receive a $1,000 cash payment that would supplement any hiring bonuses or other incentives offered by an individual business.


It’s been awhile since I have taken a swipe at the SDRA, but this one is almost too easy. Who would move to South Dakota at the beginning of winter to take a no benefits part-time job that pays half of minimum wage (if you are a server) for a $1,000 bonus you don’t get for another 6 months? WTF? When I first read this, I thought maybe it was some kind of joke.

I have argued for a long time that the hospitality industry in South Dakota and across the country should offer at least a buy in to health benefits even if you are part-time. They should also offer PTO and compensate ALL tipped employees the full minimum wage. Minnesota did this several years ago and it hasn’t hurt the industry one bit, some would argue it has improved it.

As I told an elected official yesterday, “The problem isn’t that we don’t have enough hospitality workers in Sioux Falls, the problem is we have to many mediocre restaurants.” You know as well as I do that 99% of eating establishments in Sioux Falls are below average, not just on food quality, but service and price point. Maybe the solution to our problem is to have restaurants that pay their workers well ALL YEAR LONG, offer benefits and in return we will get a better experience as a consumer. But like most things in good old Sodak, it is about the greed of the business owner while the employee and the consumer are left in the dust.

We need to stop incentivizing businesses with TIF’s and Tax rebates in Sioux Falls

As I said a few months ago, it was baffling to me why we would give a $94 million dollar TIF to incentivize businesses to come here. First off, it is pretty obvious we don’t need anymore job creators currently;

To find out more about what might be going on, I reached out to Secretary Marcia Hultman, who leads the South Dakota Department of Labor.

“What you are seeing and what we’re hearing anecdotally, the numbers really support,” she said.

They definitely do. The most current number she could pull for me Friday was 23,500 active job openings in the state’s database. Nearly 10,000 of those are in the city of Sioux Falls.

You read it correct, 10,000 available jobs in Sioux Falls, and we want to incentivize business to come here? It’s ludicrous. Factor in our schools are over crowded, affordable housing is a rarity (where we should be investing tax rebates) and building permits are through the roof. If anything we should be giving the tax rebates to the citizens to create more affordable housing and propping up our current infrastructure instead throwing it at Egg Roll factories owned by Koreans.

I also found this interesting in the article;

Another tip: You should list a wage with your opening.

“Statistically, if the wage is posted, even if it’s not the best, those job orders get more activity. If nothing is listed, the assumption is that it’s low,” Hultman said.

Nearly every business I talk to has increased pay, some significantly. Frankly, that’s not a bad thing, to me, in a state that has struggled with persistently low wages in some sectors.

I have often said the city council should pass a city ordinance that any job listed within city limits should have the minimum and maximum pay listed in the ad.

It’s time to end most if not all TIF’s in the city and tax rebates for the supposed (low wage) job creators and start helping the people who live and work in this city with more affordable housing and propping up infrastructure, and we can do it without welfare to big business. This is what happens when you have a partisan greedy mayor on cruise control and a former developer executive running the city as Chief of Staff.

Ironically, when she left the city the first time she met me for coffee. She told me the deciding factor to leave the city, besides the last mayor being a total jackass was that she was forced to write the Sanford Sports Complex TIF which she felt set a bad precedent for TIFs because of it’s size and that it was NOT for housing or blighted property. Funny how her feelings have changed on the Tifiliciousness of TIFs and doesn’t seem to bothered by the bad precedent she set.

The $15 an hour Minimum Wage is a Joke!

While some may be surprised that I do not support it, it is for other reasons. It should be $18-20 an hour and it should take affect within two years with four 6-month steps. There should also be an automatic inflationary COLA every year.

If they pass a Federal $15 an hour minimum wage, it won’t take fully affect until 2025. What’s the point?!

There is also a lot of misinformation out there about how this will kill businesses and cause mass unemployment. Not the case, when states have raised their minimum wages they did see an initial hike in unemployment, but in low wage jobs, after a year they actually saw economic growth and the GDP in the state rising. Believe it or not, when you pay people more, they spend more, and it helps the economy. What an amazing concept!

You also need to understand that this only affects large businesses who participate in interstate and international commerce. Like Walmart or Amazon. Ma an Pa’s Ice Cream Parlor in Bumf’ck Indiana won’t have to pay those wages.

And now for the obvious reasons this is the right thing to do. The large corporations who can afford an $18 an hour minimum wage, CAN AFFORD THE WAGE. They make Billions while paying very little Federal income taxes then turnaround and expect the very taxpayers who do pay their taxes (us) to subsidize their low-wage workers in the form of Medicade, SNAP and and housing. It was once estimated that because of the low wages Walmart pays its workers, EACH store costs taxpayers $1 million a year in worker subsidies. Why not just pay workers a living wage?

The upside is a boon in economic growth because instead of the top 1% sitting on all the wealth in our country, the workers would be spending it!

I guess I have never understood the argument that we need to starve workers while the top 1% sit on loads of money they will never be able to spend. It’s NOT a socialistic concept, it’s just good economics.

Is it time for the City of Sioux Falls to cut some fat?

I have noticed something over the last few weeks. Seems the city is running just fine with all the city’s pencil pushers (working?) from home. Why is that? We all know why.

Don’t get me wrong, I have seen the police, fire, landfill, council staff, water, streets, parks and public works employees still hard at it. There was even a pothole crew on my street last week. They have to work to help maintain the city’s infrastructure. Thank You!

But what about all the pencil pushers and mostly the mid management? Not a peep. Yet somehow magically our city is still running just fine.

Even at the city council meeting (I think it was Stehly) asked how we could get the furloughed city employees doing something during this crisis. You could have heard a pin drop.

I have argued for years that the city has too many of ‘these’ people. But it’s hard to layoff civil service employees and mid management. But there is a tool they can use to do it effectively and legally; the budget. If the money doesn’t exist to pay salaries, employees have to be cut. It happens all the time in the private sector.

If the city is facing uncertain tax collection they do have the authority to lay off city employees. If the 1st penny (where salaries come from) is significantly less, the council has the power to cut the operations budget which would force the mayor to cut employees.

The first place I would start is mid management. I think our city has way to many of these folks. We pay our directors 6 figures a year, why can’t they be management? Why do they need all of these in between people? I would also start with non resident employees. I have stated for years, if you don’t contribute to Sioux Falls tax base, why should the residents of this city pay your salary, especially if you are management? We have several directors that don’t live in our city or even in our state. It’s ludicrous.

I think once we cut a majority of unneeded management, we may not have to cut the lower end pencil pushers in the city, but I still think many of them need to go to.

I had a guy a couple of years ago who worked in one of these positions for the city, but told me he quit after a few months. He told me that management told him he was too efficient and over achieving too much and basically making his manager look bad.

While I don’t want to see anyone lose their job, the city may be in some dire straits in the next couple of years, and we may have no choice but to cut jobs and we can do it pretty painlessly. But like I said, I would start at the top and work down. The irony is while saving us millions, we may never even see the difference in service. I have argued for a long time that government should only use our taxes for ‘needs’ and not ‘wants’. They may have no choice but to do that.

Thom Hartmann; How billionaires’ short-term greed could upend America and destroy their own wealth

This is an amazing article written during this crisis about the disgusting greed and economic inequality in our country;

The right-wing billionaire definition of “freedom” includes the right to poverty, the right to die without health care, the right to be uneducated and illiterate, and the right to be hungry and homeless. Red states seem to like this, since they repeatedly vote for it; we should let them have it.

In the article Hartman talks about economic recovery from this pandemic will come much faster in blue states than in red (federal welfare) states. This is why our governor, mayor and city council are hesitant to keep people from working, because we are a state where approximately 70% of the work force lives paycheck to paycheck.

Just read this FB rant from Sioux Falls City Councilor Greg Neitzert;

The place where I go to get my hair cut has laid off all of its employees, and they had multiple locations in Sioux Falls.  They may not reopen.  We are talking about dozens of employees, no longer with a job.  They made something like $12-$15 an hour.  They are working class citizens.  Right now moonlighting or starting their own gig is near impossible because the message is to keep social distance, so the client base has dried up.  Behind these statistics are individuals, and families, and children.  All who now have an uncertain future, many of which probably never dreamed to be in this position.  Maybe they qualify for unemployment, maybe they don’t.  Regardless, they are now living with the uncertainty and stress, not knowing when this will end and what their future will be.  I know some of them are single, or divorced, with a child or children.  There is a massive human toll to this, and consequences to their health, both mental and physical, that cannot be understated.  Multiply that thousands of times just in the city of Sioux Falls.  Their careers may have been put on pause (by force), but their needs, for housing, for food, to pay their utilities, to pay car loans, student loans, the needs just to survive, have not.  Imagine the toll on someone who has lost their job, and has no idea when they will get one again, with commitments and needs.  It has to be frightening to say the least.  Maybe some are lucky enough that they have another income in the family and they are still secure.  Maybe some are lucky enough that their jobs can be done at home and they are still secure.  But for thousands in Sioux Falls, that just isn’t the case.  And they are by and large some of our most vulnerable, some who are on edge, without a large emergency fund, who may be living paycheck to paycheck.  They are who are getting demolished.  It is these citizens I also think about, who call me stressed out, sometimes in tears, pleading for help and some assurance of when this will end.  It is on their behalf that I will not simply dismiss the consequences of our virtual shutdown as “just the economy”.  Lives are being destroyed and lost, no matter what we do.  There will be loss of life indirectly from draconian measures, if they continue for an extended period.  Many may be necessary to combat the virus, but we cannot dismiss the collateral damage.  Our policy decisions must balance the health, safety, and well being of all citizens, from the threat of this virus, the loss of livelihood, and the loss of liberty if a government goes too far.  All are important.  Remember again, we cannot stop this virus.  We cannot stop people from getting infected.  Tragically we cannot prevent people from dying.  From the beginning, at all levels of government that sad reality has been something we have had to accept.  The goal and the one thing we can control to some extent is preventing our hospitals from being overloaded when we hit the peak surge of infections.  The goal from the beginning from the federal level all the way down to the city level is to keep that surge from overloading our bed, staff, and ventilator capacity.  We cannot prevent all fatalities, but we can prevent unnecessary ones from lack of resources if we mitigate the spread enough to keep the surge manageable.  That’s been the goal.  We are accomplishing that because citizens have stepped up and made sacrifices to help each other.  In most cases we’ve simply had to ask, without a law or penalty attached.  Without a vaccine, simply locking everyone in their homes for weeks or months on end will not stop the spread, or prevent fatalities, it will only delay the inevitable spread, at the immeasurable cost of destroying our economy and the lives of the people who make it up.  That’s why our response has to be dynamic, proportional, and measured.  Finally, remember there are countless variables in modeling and projecting this.  Our epidemiologists at Sanford and Avera concede this, there are a number of variables you have to plug in, and its based on educated guesses and averages.  None of us knows what the right decision is with certainty.  We are all doing our absolute best, with the weight of the fact that lives could be in our hands with every decision we make.  Perhaps some years down the road looking back, with the benefit of hindsight, we might know if at each point we got it right or wrong.  Unfortunately that knowledge and certainty in real time is beyond our pay grade as humans with imperfect knowledge and an inability to see into the future.  We’re doing our best, and we feel the weight of our decisions daily.  I certainly do.

If we actually paid people living wages in our city, a few weeks off, even a month, would be just a hiccup in the road. So I ask Greg, and all of our local leadership(?) what have you done during your elected term to bring better wages and affordable housing to our city. I’ll give you the short answer; NOT A DAMN THING! He should of titled his post ‘Crocodile Tears’.

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.