Travis Betsworth, general manager of the Original Pancake House in Sioux Falls, categorically denies an accusation that it fired an employee for praying with customers.

Mr. Betsworth said this afternoon, "We would never fire anybody for praying." Quite the contrary, Betsworth says he himself has taken time to pray with customers at their tables during regular business hours. Many church groups come to his restaurant; Betsworth estimates some sort of Bible study or other church-related activity is taking place in his restaurant five days out of each week. Many religious customers leave church cards in the store tip jar.

Betsworth was responding to an accusation leveled by a paid political spokesman for failed Senate candidate Annette Bosworth. The spokesman claims that waitress Shauna Rose was fired for praying with Bosworth and her spokesman just before the primary:

The first time I met Shauna was just before the June election. She was working as a waitress at the Original Pancake House in Sioux Falls. I went in with my friend Dr. Annette Bosworth when we were on our way to a press conference. We prayed at the table before breakfast and Shauna, who knew Dr. Bosworth, bowed her head with us.

Shauna was fired by the Original Pancake House a couple of days later. She was told by a co-worker that it was for praying with us.

Guess where I’m not going to eat pancakes again? [paid spokesman for Annette Bosworth, "Update on Dakota Reporter and RIP Shauna Rose," "Dakota" Reporter, 2014.07.25]

Betsworth says he has no knowledge of the alleged interaction between Bosworth, her spokesman, and Rose. Betsworth says that if he had witnessed such a prayerful interaction on the job, he would have praised Rose for treating customers so well. He would not give further details on managerial decisions affecting Rose's employment at Original Pancake House, but Betsworth flatly denied that Rose would have been fired for praying with a customer. Betsworth says he and the restaurant's two other managers make staffing decisions cooperatively, and no such decision to fire any employee for praying has taken place on his watch.

Rose died in a motorcycle accident on July 16. Betsworth says Rose was "very loved" at the restaurant. Many employees attended Rose's funeral, says Betsworth, and he believes the owners of the restaurant sent flowers.

Independent candidate for lieutenant governor Lora Hubbel made a public statement online yesterday citing the Christian discrimination accusation to discourage people from eating at the Original Pancake House, whose Sioux Falls shop on West 41st is the Oregon-based company's only South Dakota franchise. Betsworth says that prior to his interview with the Madville Times, he was not aware of any calls for boycott, complaints made to the store, or the original accusation of religious discrimination. Betsworth says no other bloggers or reporters had contacted him to inquire about Rose's employment at Original Pancake House prior to this Sunday interview.

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The latest Madville Times poll calls into question the thesis advanced by Team Rounds last week that Larry Pressler is taking more votes away from Democrat Rick Weiland than from Republican Mike Rounds. I asked Wednesday, "Who gets your vote for U.S. Senate?" You, dear readers, like Rick Weiland a lot:

  • Rick Weiland: 66% (116 votes)
  • Mike Rounds: 12% (21)
  • Larry Pressler: 11% (20)
  • Gordon Howie: 11% (20)

Now the margin of error in any Madville Times poll is the size of the broad side of Mike Rounds's private airplane hangar. But this poll tests the wishful GOP hypothesis that, among a bunch of Democrats, you'll find a big chunk of Pressler voters. The memo Team Rounds handed to Roll Call for propaganda purposes puts the ratio at 5 Pressler Democrats for every 8 Weiland voters. If you accept the notion that this blog mostly draws Democrats as readers (and that's open for debate), then the results above find the Pressler–Weiland ratio among Dems more like 1 to 6. If readers of this blog represent Democratic sentiment statewide, Democrats won't propel Pressler back to office the way they did forty years ago when they deserted Democratic Rep. Frank Denholm.

If anything, the poll results suggest Team Weiland should be more worried about really confused Dems voting for the smiley but gubernatorially feckless Rounds, who edges Pressler by one vote here. Holy cow! Someone needs to shout EB-5! a little harder.

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The Sun is our friend: vitamin D, solar power, and photosynthesis, the basis of life as we know it.

But Black Hills science writer Stan Gibilisco points out that the Sun is dangerous. He's not talking about wrinkles; he's talking about coronal mass ejections:

Quick correction: the solar storm to which Gibilisco refers was reported on this month, but it appears to have taken place in July 2012.

I'd call coronal mass ejections star farts—NASA refers to them as "giant bubbles of gas... ejected from the Sun"—but that appellation might trivialize the civilization-busting power of such storms. International insurer Lloyd's takes coronal mass ejections seriously; so should we all. Gibilisco thinks we ought to harden our electronic infrastructure to prevent a coronal mass ejection from shutting down GPS, satellites, the Internet, and the national power grid for weeks or months:

Among other preparations, we could brace for coronal mass ejections by stockpiling large power transformers to replace those that a strong solar storm would fry. Large power transformers cost $2.5 million to $7 million to manufacture, plus maybe 30% overhead to ship and install. Multiply by 2100, and you have a cost of $15 billion. That's no small expenditure... but during the last decade, were spending that much defending American interests in Iraq every 21 days.

But the electric utilities don't have a CME-response stockpile of large power transformers, because free-market competition stops them from preparing for disaster:

A major problem with protecting the national power grid is that it consists of 2100 high voltage transformers run by an assortment of 5000 or so independent entities. One speaker (Dr. Michael Gregg) estimated that it would require a relatively few million dollars to protect some valuable components of the electric power system. However, following these remarks, it came to light during the discussion session that such a measure has lacked support owing to legal and business constraints by these 5000 entities in competition with one another. It probably goes without saying that politicians are not going to enter that fray. Nor would they be willing to budget the much greater expense of acquiring and storing backup high voltage transformers. The threat to nuclear power plants (see: Are nuclear reactors vulnerable to solar storms?) was hardly mentioned [Steve Tracton, "Are We Ready for Potentially Disastrous Impacts of Space Weather?" Washington Post: Capital Weather Gang, 2012.07.11].

Our failure thus far to respond to Gibilisco's call for sensible solar storm preparation is one of the impacts of partisan gridlock and anti-science sentiment in Congress. Dust-ups about EPA efforts to regulate carbon emissions have tangled passage of the NASA budget. Members of Congress don't go on Fox to rail against the Sun, because science-based warnings that the Sun will wreck modern civilization don't raise nearly as much campaign money as Limbaugh-parroting cries that Candidate X is a Barack Obama Marxist waging war on coal.

If the next big coronal mass ejection hits the earth, who made the most profit on utility stocks and who raised the most campaign donations will instantly become irrelevant. Power companies and Congress need to think a bit more on the cosmic scale and protect our modern civilization from the threats Old Sol throws at us.

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We all fled here from somewhere.

According to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the federal government placed 30,340 immigrant children who entered the United States without adult companions with sponsors around the country between January 1 and July 7 of this year. 21 of those children were placed with parents, relatives, or other legitimate sponsors in South Dakota. Governor Dennis Daugaard expresses concern—not for the children, but for the natives' health and welfare:

“It is disappointing that, despite assurances from federal officials, these children have been placed in South Dakota without notification to the state,” said the Governor. “Although federal officials indicate that these 21 children have been screened and vaccinated, we will be asking for more information so that the state can be sure that these children pose no risk to South Dakotans” [South Dakota state government, press release, 2014.07.25].

Governor Daugaard has touted South Dakota's relatively high vaccination rate, but between 1% and 2% of our kindergartners are still running exempt from shots. Governor Daugaard has raised no alarm about the ability of a parent to skip vaccinating her kids by signing a piece of paper saying Jesus told her not to get those shots (see SDCL 13-28-7.1). Let's see... 13,280 kindergartners, multiply by 1%... that's 133 kids running around without shots. And that's just one grade. If we're running a 1% vaccine-skipping rate through all of our 144,000-strong K-12 population, we can estimate about 1,440 South Dakota kids posing a risk to South Dakota's herd immunity.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement gives children shots and medical screenings, and it does not release children with contagious conditions. These new children boost South Dakota's herd immunity. They're probably so relieved to be safe with family and friends in a quiet, safe state like ours that they aren't thinking of posing a risk to anyone. South Dakota should be proud to provide these children safe haven and invite more of them and their families to make our great state their home.

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In the midst of the open season Sioux Falls motorists have apparently declared on bicyclists, the City of Sturgis® announces an odd choice for grand marshal of the Mayor's Ride during the Sturgis® Motorcycle Rally™:

The City of Sturgis is very excited to name Lance Armstrong as the official Grand Marshall of the 12th Annual Mayors Ride at the 74th Annual Sturgis® Motorcycle Rally™.

The annual Sturgis® Rally Mayors ride is on Monday, August 4th, 2014, and is a fund-raiser for the Sturgis Volunteer Fire Department. Join Lance Armstrong, Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen, state and local legislators, industry professionals, motorcycle enthusiasts, other celebrities and legends on a motorcycle ride through the Black Hills of South Dakota. Space is limited. To join the Mayors ride, visit www.sturgismotorcyclerally.com

“There is a large cross-over of cyclists that ride both motorcycles and bicycles. Teaming up with Lance was a natural fit, as he is also an avid motorcyclist.” said Brenda Vasknetz, Sturgis® Motorcycle Rally™ Director [SturgisBuzz, Facebook post, 2014.07.22].

I'm glad Armstrong enjoys both forms of two-wheeled activity. But hold on: a large cross-over between motorcycles and bicycles? Neighbors, when's the last time your rode through the rally and saw a conclave of pedalers amidst the Harleys and body-paint peddlers?

The City of Sturgis chose Lance as our Grand Marshall because he represents the American spirit. Lance represents the business owners who have lost it all and are fighting to make a comeback. Lance represents the single mother who works 16 hours a day and has to keep pushing when she has nothing left to give. Lance represents the cancer patient that wants to beat the diagnosis. We understand the controversy that surrounds Lance, but we are willing to meet it head on. The City of Sturgis is about second chances.

Lance will also be making guest appearances at many of the Official Sturgis® Rally Sponsors, the BozBros Lot at Exit 32 and at local businesses such as Sturgis Coffee, Easy Riders Saloon, The Knuckle, Loud American Roadhouse, and Mid-States Campers [SturgisBuzz, 2014.07.22].

Sturgis is about second chances—I haven't heard that town slogan before. But I will look forward to the South Dakota business owners who step forward to say, "Yeah, we cheated, used drugs, and lost it all, but now we're rebuilding our businesses, just like Lance!"

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After two weeks of hiding behind his paid spokesman from Texas, Chad Haber is finally speaking publicly about his bid for the Libertarian nomination for attorney general. The husband of troubled Sioux Falls doctor and former Senate candidate Annette Bosworth is posting a variety of campaign statements on the South Dakota Libertarian Party convention page on Facebook.

On Wednesday, Haber announced a campaign pizza party:

I'm planning to host an informal Meet-Up for libertarians, potential candidates and other interested parties next weekend in Sioux Falls. That's the weekend before the convention. Probably just a pizza event next Saturday. Who's up for it?

Chad Haber, Facebook post, 2014.07.23

Haber has not yet specified when or where this gathering will take place.

In another post, Haber responds to one of the numerous concerns about his inability to carry out the duties of attorney general, his lack of a law degree, by invoking the Founding Fathers:

The reason there is no requirement that the attorney general has to be an attorney is because our founding fathers wanted to protect against us becoming a legalistic society. We are now a legalistic society. As Attorney General, I'll make sure laws work for the people, not the political class in Pierre.

Chad Haber, Facebook post, 2014.07.24

I offered myself as an alternative AG nominee to spare the Libertarians the humiliation and exploitation that Haber would bring them. Interested citizen Russ Stedman posed the following questions, to which both Haber and I responded:

Russ Stedman, question for possible SDLP AG nominees, 2014.07.24

Russ Stedman, questions for possible SDLP AG nominees, 2014.07.24

CAH responses to Stedman policy questions 20140724Chad Haber reeponses to Stedman policy questions 2014.07.24Haber adopts the Madville Times agenda and says he will use the attorney general's office to stop no-bid contracts and crony-capitalist tax breaks:

Chad Haber on crony capitalism FB 20140724

Haber has not yet followed up on whether his avid consumer protection will also include prosecution of fraudulent raffles or whether he will also go after Medicaid fraud, perjury and false oaths, and employers who withhold paychecks. Haber does, however, respond to charges that his campaign is a ridiculous distraction by shooting this messenger:

Chad Haber, Facebook post, 2014.07.25

Chad Haber, Facebook post, 2014.07.25

For the record, liberal and liberty have the same root. Liberty and I are best friends.

The South Dakota Libertarian Party convenes two weeks from today, on Saturday, August 9, to consider whom if anyone to nominate for attorney general and five other statewide offices.

Update 11:06 CDT: Haber tells KSOO's Dan Peters that his business acumen will help him make the Libertarian Party a viable opposition party. I invite candidate Haber to point to the successful businesses his acumen has built.

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Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Mike Rounds is telling the press that federal stimulus dollars made South Dakota highways better. Rounds is emphasizing that South Dakota needs big government because it depends on nearly $300 million dollars every year to maintain its roads. And the Republican is saying he wants more big government help for South Dakota in the form of replenishing the Highway Trust Fund... because when he was governor, he knew darn well that depletion of the Highway Trust Fund would mean South Dakota would have to spend more of its own money, and Rounds never supported that kind of self-reliance.

Alas, Rounds says, Congress is struggling to pass that vital legislation because "nobody" trusts President Obama:

You can't give 'em more money until you know how they're going to spend it, and I think that's the biggest problem we've got in D.C. is, is nobody trusts that the Administration will spend the money the way they say that they will [Marion Michael Rounds, audio interview, "Rounds Supports Highway Funding Bill," KJAM Radio, 2014.07.24].

Hold on, Mike—I think you're projecting. You don't trust President Obama. You took stimulus dollars that President Obama and Congress intended for education and then spent those dollars on other budget items.

But hey, suppose Rounds is right. Suppose the problem with highway funding is that Senators don't trust President Obama.

Since President Obama isn't on the 2014 ballot, there's one obvious solution: elect Senators who trust President Obama. Elect Rick Weiland.

Thanks for the advice, Mike!

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I don't always reprint press releases, but when I do, it's because they're useful.

South Dakota Democratic Party exec Zach Crago offers—with more evidence and hyperlinks than we ever get from the dreary stream of GOP dreckfive good reasons to vote for Initiated Measure 18, South Dakota's minimum-wage increase:

It’s been 5 years since the last increase in the federal minimum wage - but now South Dakotans have a choice on Initiated Measure 18 to raise the minimum wage on November 4th.

In recognition of this anniversary, here are 5 reasons to vote Yes on 18:

1) States that raised the minimum wage saw faster job growth. According to state by state hiring data released by the Department of Labor, states that raised the minimum wage at the beginning of this year actually saw faster job growth than states that didn’t raise the minimum wage – contrary to the scare tactics of special interest critics.

Everyday South Dakotans get it: Put money in the pockets of hard working people, and they’ll send it on the things their families need everyday. That boosts consumer demand at small businesses and grows the economy.

2) Small business owners support raising the minimum wage. According to a recent scientific telephone survey, 61% of small business owners support raising the minimum wage. Why? The report says,

“Small business owners believe that a higher minimum wage would benefit business in important ways: 58% say raising the minimum wage would increase consumer purchasing power. 56% say raising the minimum wage would help the economy. In addition, 53% agree that with a higher minimum wage, businesses would benefit from lower employee turnover and increased productivity and customer satisfaction.”

Small businesses get it too: Workers are customers. When workers earn more, they spend more at small businesses and boost the economy.

3) Prices for everyday goods continue to rise, but the minimum wage has stayed the same. That means a South Dakotan’s hard earned dollar actually buys less and less for her family. Since the last increase in the minimum wage:

  • The price of milk has increased 21.2%
  • The price of eggs has increased 30.3%
  • The price of cheddar cheese has increased 21.9%
  • The price of gas has increased 44.6%
  • The price of electricity has increased 9.2%
  • The minimum wage has increased 0%. 

Too often, South Dakotans are working harder and harder just to make ends meet. Raising the minimum wage will help working moms and dads support their families in the face of higher and higher prices at the pump and in the supermarket.

4) 62,000 South Dakotans will earn more if Initiated Measure 18 passes. According to preliminary data from Economic Policy Institute, raising the minimum wage will give 62,000 South Dakotans a raise. Who are they?

  • 78% are older than 20. These aren’t high school students like special interests will tell you.
  • 55% are women – many of whom are supporting families.

5) Raising the minimum wage lifts people out of poverty – and off of government assistance. A full time worker earning the minimum wage makes $14,500 a year, which qualifies many working families for government assistance. Raising the minimum wage will lift many working families out of poverty and reduce the demand for government assistance. It’s a win win for working families and the taxpayers: working families make ends meet, and the public cost of low wages decreases for taxpayers [South Dakota Democratic Party, press release, 2014.07.24].

Susan WismerPaula Hawks, Robin Page, Mark Remily, all you Democratic candidates, if you're looking for stump speech material, this is it. Every speech you make from now until November should borrow at least some of Crago's text. Telling people why they should vote for the minimum-wage increase also tells them how we Democrats support South Dakota's best interests better than Republicans. Vote for Dems, and vote for 18!

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