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?

Does the City of Sioux Falls have a plan to solve the housing issue?

I found it strange before the election that all of sudden after 4 years of doing very little to simultaneously solve the affordable housing problem while cleaning up the core and building density the city pulled a plan from their behinds.

As you know, you have heard very little about it except when the Pettigrew Heights Neighborhood Association busted the city trying to plop 14 houses from the Whittier Neighborhood school expansion project in their neighborhood (not select empty lots and condemned home lots but on their green space).

While the city and school district says they have no plans I do know that the association has plenty of evidence otherwise.

I ask if the city has a plan because just a few days ago they posted these two very important positions with the city when it comes to housing. So if there is a plan, who was going to implement it? Who was going to manage it?

Apparently two people who haven’t even been hired yet.

The plan presented before the election was just smoke and mirrors. As I have suggested several times, the administration and 8 councilors had 4 years to come up with something, but now it appears we are back to square one.

Someone yesterday complained to me that they called the city asking when tree damage was going to be picked up in their neighborhood and they would not. Yet many people have reported to me that the city did pick up tree damage in the McKennan park neighborhood. The city did state they would pick up the waste 6-8″ in diameter but you have to call 211.

I told this person, “If the city can’t even pickup tree damage after a major wind storm, don’t expect them to solve the housing crisis.”

While I will cheer them on and applaud them if they do tackle this issue, it’s going to be a heavy lift.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda May 17, 2022

During the meetings this week on Tuesday there will be an installation ceremony at 2 PM, the informational at 4 PM and the Regular at 6 PM.


At the informational they will discuss April’s Finances and the 2035 Downtown Plan.

At the regular meeting there are several items on the consent agenda that need explanation, hopefully they will be pulled.

Item #6, Approval of Contracts,

Sub Item #2, Provide the City of Sioux Falls a network monitoring service for cyber security; Amendment to add addition of services: Expertise on Demand by Mandient and M365 Assessment, Effective upon full execution, Paragon Development Systems, $104K+ (Not sure if this is an evaluation or something else. But I find it interesting that PDS mostly serves the healthcare industry. There have been several councilors ask the administration over the past couple of years if our city is secure from cyber attacks with NO response. Apparently they are finally noodling around on the idea.

Sub Item #9, Water Reclamation Facility Improvements; Amendment to design agreement Carollo Engineers, Inc., $12 Million + (That’s quite the amendment! You could buy 3 new Pavilion roofs with that kind of money!)

Sub Item #16, Bishop Dudley Hospitality House, $120K (While I support funding the shelter, it would be nice to get a presentation as to what has been happening at the place and surrounding area the past year).

Item #52, RECONSIDERATION OF THE DEFERRAL OF A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS APPROVING DIAGONAL PARKING ON S. GRANGE AVE. (This item was originally considered at the meeting of May 10, 2022 where the Council voted (8-0) to defer the item to June 7, 2022. If the motion to reconsider the deferral passes, then the motion to defer to June 7, 2022, will be considered again. The Council may vote to again approve the deferral, amend it, or vote it down. If voted down, the resolution itself will be considered by the Council.)

As I predicted, the diagonal parking is back for reconsideration for the 9th and Grange coffee shop. I was told that the property owner will be paying for the city to build the space. Hopefully we will get an answer at the meeting.

Tornado Sirens are not just for Tornados

Just read the history of tornado sirens or better known as Civil defense siren;

A civil defense siren (also known as an air-raid siren or tornado siren) is a siren used to provide an emergency population warning to the general population of approaching danger. It is sometimes sounded again to indicate the danger has passed. Some sirens (especially within small towns) are also used to call the volunteer fire department when needed. Initially designed to warn city dwellers of air raids in World War II, they were later used to warn of nuclear attack and natural destructive weather patterns such as tornadoes. The generalized nature of sirens led to many of them being replaced with more specific warnings, such as the broadcast-based Emergency Alert System and the Cell Broadcast-based Wireless Emergency Alerts and EU-Alert mobile technologies.

Well if that wasn’t a natural destructive weather pattern Thursday night I don’t know what it was? I did get alerts on my phone (which was good because my electricity went out) but does it really hurt to sound them even if it is not a tornado? That’s crying wolf according to Mayor TenHaken;

When asked Friday by reporters if the city should re-evaluate its policy, TenHaken, responded: “Will we look at the policy? Sure. But you can see where they start to lose their effectiveness when you cry wolf too often and use the sirens for multiple purposes,” he said.

That is probably why they don’t plow the streets much anymore, they wouldn’t want citizens to expect safe streets in the winter 🙂

Let’s be clear, the sirens ARE for weather and other emergencies. I don’t think anyone would have been upset if they sounded the alarm. They act like turning them on is like launching a nuclear weapon. They act like every time the train blows its whistle while crossing an intersection is just crying wolf, wonder why people haven’t just stopped ignoring them? This is what happens when you have cruise control government.

Besides, who is in charge of flipping the switch? Sounds like this guy, who had an excuse also;

Sioux Falls Emergency Manager Regan Smith said activating the sirens too often could lead to complacency and confusion, adding that the policy not to sound them during non-tornado weather events is supported by commonly-supported best practices in the emergency management and meteorology industries.

Uh, no it is NOT, it varies from community to community;

1. What does it mean when I hear the outdoor warning sirens? 

In short, it means that something life-threatening is happening and you should go indoors and get more information.   The specific guidelines (tornado, hail ,wind, etc.) for sounding sirens varies by jurisdiction, so check with your local community to find out the specifics if you are interested.

In other words, more excuses.

With a wink and a Nod

Jamie Smith Meet & Greet

Proposed Coffee Shop at 9th & Grange is becoming quite the city welfare project

The property owned by Alex Halbach (who just happened to be the Campaign treasurer for Central District Councilor Curt Soehl) may get a FREE parking lot. Item #32. (FF:55:30)

Mr. Halbach decided to skip the meeting last night, but his neighbors did not, and they said they have been trying to meet with him but he ignores them. The council deferred it 30 days. Rumor has it that Halbach made threats about stopping the project if he didn’t get this to go thru so there may be a re-consideration vote on the matter next week.

Interesting that Curt Soehl did not recuse himself from the vote because of his conflicts. So far Soehl has re-instated the facade easement program (so Halbach could apply for it).

Getting him a free parking lot (Halbach says he doesn’t want to ruin the greenspace in his backyard) and when he applies for the facade easement that will likely pass also.

This is how councilors pay back supporters with YOUR tax money.

Amendment C proponents new slogans

Pettigrew & Cathedral Neighborhood Associations Body Check the City & School District

I attended the almost 90 minute meeting tonight (I will have a YT video up soon if you don’t have FB) and it was pretty clear what the neighborhood wanted, GREENSPACE! There was a standing vote, and besides the reporters and city/school staff, everyone was standing in approval of leaving it a park.

The most interesting part was that it seems now the staff from the city and the school district said they have NO PLANS for it. Kevin Smith from the city further pointed out that they don’t own the property but help maintain it.

Funny how transparency works, SUNSHINE WINS THE DAY!