Well it’s week II of someone running a council meeting (Item #24) without having a clue what is on the agenda.

As you know, last week, the chair of the council meeting (Mayor TenHaken) couldn’t explain a simple agenda item that referred to a grant at the landfill.

He continued his ignorance of the agenda this week.

As you know, the chair engages in unconstitutional activity by cutting off public inputers by saying they are off topic. As I have argued in the past, there are several Supreme Court rulings that defend public inputers being able to discuss anything at the podium as long as it has to do with government, community, etc. In other words, you can discuss anything you want to at the podium as long as you are not threatening the public or the government body.

So when it came to the rental registration ordinance in the agenda tonight (which has been talked about publicly extensively) the mayor decided he would start cutting people off.

His fist attempt was with a gentleman who is a realtor. He suggested that the city council adds diversity and inclusion training for landlords (an 8 hour course on the Federal guidelines). The mayor apparently didn’t like the suggestion and told the inputer he couldn’t talk about it. The inputer, George, just kind of swatted the chair off like a fly and basically said he was addressing the landlord training in the ordinance and would like it to cover these Federal guidelines).

The next person came up to address the deplorable (her words) conditions of some rental properties in town. The mayor proceeded to try to cut her off saying ‘This only has to do with short term rentals.’ to which councilor Merkouris who is sponsoring the item says, ‘It is for short-term and long-term rentals’ to which the mayor allowed her to proceed after chewing up a minute of her time.

While I don’t expect the mayor to memorize the agenda, he should have general knowledge of each agenda item because 1) he is chairing the meeting and 2) he has to break ties.

So what if this would have come to a tie vote? The mayor would have to vote based on having zero knowledge of what the ordinance does.

Somebody told me the other day ‘The mayor has checked out.’

Yeah, he checked out 6 years ago when he was inaugurated.

I would suggest the two public inputers who were interrupted practicing their 1st Amendment rights file a formal complaint against the chair for 1st Amendment violations.


During the city council discussion tonight on hiring outside counsel for investigating implied trusts, councilor Starr pulled it from the consent agenda;

The city attorney said they are investigating the trust in reference to the Delbridge Museum animals. What could this mean? If I had to make an educated guess the city is looking for legal loopholes so IF they dispose the animals they wouldn’t have to worry about being sued by the family (trust) but I am sure the plan is something more sinister knowing how badly the mayor wants to throw these animals in a wood chipper. If I was a part of the group trying to save the animals, I would encourage the family to also seek legal counsel before it is to late.

UPDATE: The city council told the administration during the presentation today that they would like to approve the park’s bonds before the new councilors get installed next Spring. As I said below, I would go a step further and put the bonds on the Spring ballot. The time couldn’t be better and it takes the responsibility off the backs of councilors who are walking out the door. I do believe they would pass with over 70% of the vote, but what makes the public vote even more enticing is it would show that the council cares about open government.

The city council is getting a presentation today on the possibility of parks department bonds for new aquatic facilities and a rec center.

I support a new public rec center, but once again, the location is questionable. I think the perfect location for the rec center is the Riverline District. It would be next to an existing outdoor pool and skate park, and centrally located, ironically the same location of the original proposal.

I also think these bonds should go to a public vote. With interest payments we are probably looking at being well over $80 million in taxpayer funds and that decision really should lie in the taxpayer’s hands.

I think the city council has the power to move the bonding decision to the voters and could put it on the Spring ballot and it would be wise of them to kick that can to the voters.

Also by state law, it would have to garner 60% of the vote to be approved. I think it would pass by at least 70% of the vote. I think most people in our community support the rec center.

UPDATE: The new rating is up in the 90’s now, so we are gaining steam. I’m glad to see that the site is performing better! But they need to work on the search engines.

I didn’t have high expectations for the new city website, siouxfalls.gov. Even if they chose a good vendor and spent (I think $250K) on the redesign, I knew there would be all kinds of ways they would make it difficult for citizens to access the site.

It’s overall performance rating is 37%. A web developer told me with the kind of money the taxpayers spent on this redesign, and the use of actual coders, the website should have an overall rating of 90% or higher.

Besides it’s awful performance, they have hidden the agenda page. When you first click on the link all you get is a calendar with no reference to where the agendas are (you have to scroll all the way to the bottom, and it uses very useless and frustrating double scroll bars instead of direct links to the meetings.)

There is also NO livestream on the main page (something I suggested they do). Citylink should just be constantly streaming at the top of the page when you open up the site, or at least a quick link to it. As you can see, it is NOT working at all (once you find the page, which took me multiple searches). Some have said that I should give a few more weeks while they tweak it, but I am sorry, they should NOT have launched a site that is NOT working yet.

The search engine is almost non-functioning. I did 10 different searches for common public documents and got ZERO results.

Like I said above, I am not surprised the website turned out like this, they are just making things harder for citizens to access our government, and this website is a shining example of their lack of transparency and open government.

City websites should not be a graphic show pony, it should be a functioning, searchable site with access to vids, agendas and most importantly DATA!

It amazes me that the mayor, who ran a web development company would except this new format as a success. Just more of our money in a burn barrel.

UPDATE: It was confirmed to me that the Chamber did stop sponsoring the event and a new (existing) group will take it over. There will be an official announcement with all the details SOON!

I was told today by a source that the Sioux Falls Chamber sent out an email to members saying they will no longer sponsor the Legislative Coffees in Sioux Falls (or maybe just this year) and that the legislature has been notified.

Not sure if it is true, but I have been contacting other sources in hopes I can get a clearer understanding.

I’m cool with this as long as The League of Women Voters takes it over. I have never approved of the Chamber running the coffees. They represent their membership and little else, while the LWV is a non-profit that promotes civic engagement and voter registration.

I have also heard the venue is moving. Which is also good. The SE Tech location was horrible and extremely out of the way. It should be somewhere central again like Augie, USF, Hilton or Holiday Inn Downtown.

If anyone knows more deets, drop me a line and I will update the post accordingly.