I make plenty of editorial decisions about which stories deserve blog attention. But to determine the most interesting stories of 2014, I like to look at what you readers spend your time reading and discussing.

Below is a table of the 30 most-clicked stories on the Madville Times in 2014. Note that this table isn't a perfect measure of which stories got read. Lots of people come to the blog and just read the front page every day; compare the nearly 14,000 hits for the top story below with the over 935,000 hits the home page got throughout the year. But this table does represent the relative popularity of specific stories accessed by people hitting the story link on Facebook or Twitter or clicking on the comment link to join the discussion.

Title Views
Watertown Students Dress up as Indians for Homecoming 13853
Bosworth Petition Challenged: 40% Invalid Signatures, 281 Shy of Required 1,955 10343
SB 67 Allows Religious Folks to Refuse Service to Objectionable Marriages 5430
Arrest Warrant Issued for Annette Bosworth 3904
SB 128: South Dakota Secedes: “No Fags! No Feds! No Judicial Autonomy!” 3633
Bosworth Nominating Petition: Look Legit to You? 2933
Dist. 8 Dem Skoglund Busted in Sex Sting; Party Chair Demands Withdrawal from Race 2696
Bosworth Admits Breaking Law on Petitions, But Jackley and I Hate Women 2661
Original Pancake House Rejects Accusation of Religious Discrimination 2377
South Dakota Medical Board, 2012: Annette Bosworth Histrionic, Narcissistic 2369
Powers Follows Leaders, Finds Bogus Bosworth Signatures… 2353
Hildebrand: Bosworth Pro-Choice, Pro-ACA, Pro-Gay Marriage Pre-GOP Run 2242
Court Orders DCI Agent: Stop Harassing Wife, Turn in Gun 2182
Chad Haber Announces Impossible Candidacy for Attorney General 1997
God Under Attack! Use Church for Political Ads! Jump Around! Vote for Gordon! 1973
Bosworth: Did Not Seek Legal Counsel Before Submitting Invalid Petition 1924
Phil Jensen Opposes Civil Rights Laws, Laughs About Drug-Test Hypocrisy 1886
Chad Haber Takes $200K Loan, Argues He Never Has to Pay It Back 1884
Worst Campaign Video of 2014: Annette Bosworth 1833
Bosworth Announces Press Conference… or Strip Club? 1827
SB 75: Lederman Ignores Science, Army, Local Control on Dog Breed Laws 1789
Daugaard to Future Philosophers, Historians, Teachers: Drop Dead 1740
Jensen Offers SB 128 to Protect Religious Zealots from “Anti-Straight” Bullying 1669
Bosworth Lawyer: Bosworth Campaign a Waste of Time 1618
Facing Trial November 13-14, Bosworth Axes Spokesman; Haber Calls Libs About AG Bid 1600
Bosworth Breaks Law Again, Solicits Campaign Donations from Foreigner 1595
Gay Christian Athlete Keeps Job at Catholic School 1587
When Does Life Begin? Before Conception, Says Howie 1557
National and Local Media Call South Dakota Races Before All Polls Close 1540
Huether Botches First Amendment Response to Snowplows for Jesus 1538

The most viewed story was my relatively brief note on Watertown High School's Ki-Yi Homecoming royalty, plus related reading on co-opting American Indian culture. The comment section here and on Facebook went ape the top irony of year: Arrow partisans shouting that people who don't belong to their culture have no business discussing their culture.

Perhaps to our collective blogospheric shame, sixteen of these thirty stories dealt with fake U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworth and her husband, fake Libertarian candidate for Attorney General Chad Haber. Perhaps to our credit, the most popular story in that subset, and the second-most clicked post of the year, was the April 1 posting of one of the most fact-based and rigorously researched posts to appear in the South Dakota blogosphere, the challenge to Bosworth's nominating petition. That challenge did not succeed, but it led to Bosworth's arrest and indictment for perjury (trial coming February!) and may lead to petition reform proposals from incoming Secretary of State Krebs.

That petition challenge post also has an unusual staying power. Most good blog posts grab eyeballs for a day or two, maybe a week if other blogs link and respond, and then fade from view. The petition challenge announcement drew 3,091 views in April, dropped to 359 in May, then climbed back over a thousand hits in August, September, October, and December (1,209 hits!). That post has apparently proven a useful reference for folks researching Bosworth and nominating petitions.

Religion remains a big draw for this liberal, atheist blogger's audience, with six of the top thirty stories touching notably on religious issues. I had to beat up on Tea Party Senator Ernie Otten (R/6-Tea) for his sloppily drafted and doomed religious discrimination bill (i.e., if you've got religion, you get to discriminate!). Senator Phil Jensen (R-32/Rapid City) also came under fire for his fundamentalist fear and loathing of homosexuals and other folks he wants to keep outside of his America. But I came to the defense of the very religious management of the Sioux Falls Original Pancake House, which was falsely accused of firing a worker for praying (with Annette Bosworth!). Both stories drew vigorous discussion.

Moving from a count of views to voices, we see more strongly the interest in stories relating to God and gays, as well as a more diverse array of topics that you deemed discussion-worthy:

Title Comments
Watertown Students Dress up as Indians for Homecoming 401
God Under Attack! Use Church for Political Ads! Jump Around! Vote for Gordon! 341
SB 75: Lederman Ignores Science, Army, Local Control on Dog Breed Laws 295
When Does Life Begin? Before Conception, Says Howie 294
Original Pancake House Rejects Accusation of Religious Discrimination 273
ACLU Writes Letter, Miller School Board Boots Gideon Bibles 249
Gay Christian Athlete Keeps Job at Catholic School 247
Minnesota Survives One Year of Legal Gay Marriage 237
Nathan Alfson: Baseball Coach, Augie Grad, Gay Neighbor 234
SB 128: South Dakota Secedes: “No Fags! No Feds! No Judicial Autonomy!” 212
Huether Botches First Amendment Response to Snowplows for Jesus 201
South Dakota Hog Farmer “Almost Going to Have to” Hire Illegal Immigrants 194
Ebola Kills One Person in America, Thune Goes Big Government 193
State Democratic Party Reviewing Midterm Failure, Building 2016 Plan 192
Hubbel-Myers Press Conference: Nothing New But Nullification 191
Rounds Touts Rationing Panels While Making His Living Rationing Health Care 187
Debbie Martines Gone 20 Years; Killer Seeks Parole Today 186
Can SD Dems Find a Leader Like Warren? 173
Phil Jensen Opposes Civil Rights Laws, Laughs About Drug-Test Hypocrisy 166
Powers Follows Leaders, Finds Bogus Bosworth Signatures… 164
Noem Votes to Sue President, Desires Coup by Judiciary 160
Kurt Evans Running for Senate in 2016 as Independent 159
SDDP Ad in Brookings Paper: What’s Tidemann Hiding? 153
Let’s Do Lunch! Moderate McClure Seeks District 14 House Seat 152
Letter to the Editor: Rep. Betty Olson Should Resign over Muslim Insults 148
Libertarian Convention Speaker, Libertarian Blogger Oppose Haber AG Nomination 147
Weiland Airs “Auction” Ad, Showing Rounds Selling Citizenship and Senate Seat 147
National and Local Media Call South Dakota Races Before All Polls Close 144
Regents Exec Warner, EB-5 Czar Bollen to Answer GOAC Questions Next Week 144
Barth Campaigning for State Democratic Chair Job 142

Ten out of these top thirty most-commented articles related directly to matters of religion and/or LGBT rights. Four of these most popular conversation topics dealt with Democratic politics, candidates, and the route to electoral victory (which we are still avidly seeking!). Only one dealt directly with the Bosworth-Haber circus. Overall, the most-commented list shows a bit more interest in policy matters that will persist beyond the the 2014 cycle, a tendency I find encouraging.

One notable feature of both of these most-viewed and most-commented lists is the relative absence of stories on the South Dakota political scandal of 2013 and 2014, the EB-5 affair. Out of 1570 blog posts published on this blog this year (and I have a couple more coming!), I tagged 172 "EB-5" (good grief! That's 11% of my output! Compare that to my 2014 Bosworth tag count of 107). None of them made the top 30 on views; three made the top 30 on comments. These numbers may suggest that the Republican narrative prevails: EB-5 was just a Democratic smokescreen that no one was interested in. It may also suggest that EB-5 was simply a much more complicated topic, daunting to read about, even more daunting to attempt to discuss... and that I didn't do a good enough job of making it simple. More on that later today....

I have my disagreements with you, dear readers, about which stories in 2014 deserved the most attention and discussion (pit bulls? really? get a grip!). But that disagreement only seasons the great pleasure I take in offering you these hundreds of stories a year and learning what you think. Whichever stories you dig, I am honored that you take the time to read, share, and discuss these posts. Thank you for another great year of mostly civil discourse on the Madville Times!

27 comments


Ring the tip jar for more good South Dakota blog journalism!

If I'm going to ask for your money, I'm at least going to try to get the facts straight.

Pat Powers commits two more key errors in his Christmas funding pitch:

  1. Powers calls his blog, Dakota War College, an "independent news web site."
    • "Independent" ≠ sponsored by the SDGOP
    • "News" ≠ constant stream of unedited, unanalyzed SDGOP press releases
  2. Powers repeats his claim to be "South Dakota's #1 political web site," claiming "over 650,000 visitors, we served up over 1.6 million page views" in his ninth year of blogging.
    1. In 2014, the Madville Times has logged over 919,000 unique visits. Update 2015.01.02: 2014 total: 934,000+ unique visits
    2. In 2014, the Madville Times has logged over 1.73 million page views. Update 2015.01.02: 2014 total: 1,764,000+ page views.

In news and numbers, the Madville Times beats Dakota War College. Who's #1? You're looking at #1.

Readers, you have made the Madville Times the best blog in the state by reading, sharing, and commenting (on 1,500+ original posts this year, you have submitted over 40,000 comments—and that's not counting my responses!). You readers have also boosted the blog with your donations and sponsorships. Dozens of you have put up real money for technical costs (I know, more work still to be done!), research, and travel that turned into what I thought was a pretty good batch of journalism in the August 2014 Blog Tour.

I don't blog for cash any more than I teach for the money. I blog because I love South Dakota, I love writing, I love helping people, and I love the truth.

But the more you kind folks ring that tip jar (there it is! the jar with Honest Abe! click it with your mouse! tap it with your finger!), the more time I can afford to spend at the computer, researching, writing, and producing some useful blog journalism.

And for the next several weeks, every dollar you pitch into that tip jar will support a very important journalistic project. South Dakota has lost David Montgomery, one of its experienced legislative reporters. That cuts the full-time reporting corps covering the Legislature in Pierre in half.

I propose to fill some of that gap. From now until the end of session, I will view every dollar in the tip jar as time I don't need to spend working part-time jobs elsewhere and time that I can spend covering the 2015 session of the South Dakota Legislature. With your financial support, I can afford to take the day off work and listen to and analyze the Governor's State of the State Address. I can tune in to more committee hearings to summarize and fact-check testimony. I can get on the phone during business hours and get information from bill sponsors, state officials, and other experts. I can give you South Dakota Legislative journalism, advocacy, and B.S.-flagging that you won't find anywhere else.

The Legislative session really is the most wonderful time of the year. I love covering our Legislature. With your support, I can cover it even more.

Thank you, South Dakota, for making this blog our state's best political blog. Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing. And thank you for ringing that tip jar!

12 comments

I give Attorney General Marty Jackley a hard time about his qualifications, but he doesn't so much as snark at me by name, never mind sic his investigators on me.

Ann-erika White Bird is not as lucky. The Lakota Voice blogger has been riding Rosebud Sioux Tribe Attorney General Aisha Uwais-Savage Concha's case since Concha came to town. Last March, Concha announced that local law enforcement was investigating White Bird for misappropriation of official tribal letterhead for use in blog-research on Concha. Nothing appears to have come of those charges.

White Bird's early challenges to Concha's qualifications—including that Concha lied to the tribal council about her tribal status to get the job in 2013—have been disputed by tribal officials and Concha herself. But after a year of blogging, White Bird continues her battle against Concha, contending that Concha has displayed a racist attitude about the Indians she serves and is not doing her job.

Tribal member Troy (Luke) Lunderman tells White Bird he has heard Concha making fun of Indian names:

She kept talking, saying – we deal with a lot. I look in the court records, like the name Kills Plenty, they had to have been serial killers.... Then she goes on to hit some of the Council Reps on their last names. At the time, she said the last name Kills In Sight, that must have been a woman with PMS. That was upsetting, that’s a real sacred name and my daughter is related to them. I thought you really don’t have a clue who you just insulted.... Then she went on to address the name Eagle Bear. She basically called him a mutant [Troy (Luke) Lunderman, quoted in Ann-erika White Bird, "Attorney General Concha Lies about being Indian, Makes Racist Comments Against Indians," Lakota Voice, 2014.11.25].

White Bird then lists instances in which she alleges Concha has failed to offer legal services to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, requiring the tribe to hire other counsel:

Unwilling to work against the KXL Pipeline: AG Concha failed to appear on April 14, when Acting Chief of Police Iver Crow Eagle III contacted her regarding turning KXL trucks around at Rosebud Casino. Due to her failure to work, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe contracted Attorney Matt Rappold to work with Tribal Attorney Eric Antoine.

Unwilling to stand against Indian Health Service’s substandard healthcare: AG Concha failed to draft or help draft the Complaint against IHS. Due to her failure to work, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe contracted Attorney Terry Pachota to represent the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in a lawsuit against I.H.S.

Opposition to following Council instruction to represent the Tribe in the case against Cherry-Todd Electric Cooperative: AG Concha failed to appear in RST Court to represent the Tribe on Friday September 12, as required by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. AG Concha also failed to appear at Cherry-Todd Electric Cooperative’s annual meeting Saturday, September 13, as requested. It is unknown what remedy the Rosebud Sioux Tribe has taken.

Opposition to meeting with Sicangu Veterans regarding Indian Health Services Breach of information: Due to AG Concha’s failure to meet with Sicangu Veterans, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, directed by the Tribal Council, provided funding. On September 22, the Sicangu Veterans hired Attorney Matt Rappold.

Jeopardizing the lives of Sicangu Lakota Children: AG Concha instructed Attorney Lloyd Guy to drop the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) cases in Nebraska after an e-mail from Bureau of Indian Affairs Awarding Official Andrea Waln. “(T)he Agency recommends that the Prosecutor refrain from presenting any further ICWA cases in Nebraska until further notice…” On October 17, Guy presented Concha’s directive to the Judiciary Committee. Due to AG Concha’s failure to understand the Tribe’s role with the BIA, to monitor the funding situation or know the gravity of what it means to “drop” a case, the Council set aside a full day to obtain the knowledge necessary to make a decision in protecting the Tribe’s children. Yesterday, November 25, Council passed a motion to contract two attorneys to appear in S.D. state courts on the children’s behalf.

Opposition to working on updating Tribal Code: a Tribal Member who passed the SOBA stepped forward to do the work. Due to AG Concha’s failure to work, this month the Rosebud Sioux Tribe contracted Maria Lambert to perform the work [White Bird, 2014.11.25].

The scenario White Bird describes sounds like what the whole state would have gone through had we gone insane and elected Chad Haber our attorney general.

At last check, White Bird was still free to roam the Rosebud in search of blog stories. Keep your eyes open, Ann-erika!

3 comments

Pat Powers really doesn't like looking in the mirror.

Larry Kurtz announces a new blogging venture, the Dakota Progressive, a forum "affiliated" with the South Dakota Democratic Party and intended to "compete with the SDGOP blog, Dakota War College."

I'm not clear what either of those phrases mean. If they mean doing what Dakota War College does but for Democrats, expect a regular stream of party press releases shortly.

Whatever the mission, Powers evidently feels threatened, since he immediately turns up his tired "I hate Larry" rhetoric, accusing Kurtz of hate speech and bigotry. Ah, yes, whenever South Dakota Republicans start complaining about "hate speech" and "bigotry," you can bet they aren't defending other groups; they are defending themselves. Powers pans and bans Kurtz because Kurtz insults Powers and his fellow Catholics.

Powers's attack on Kurtz isn't much different from his attack on blogger Scott Ehrisman, whom Powers loathes because Ehrisman exposed the conflict of interest that pushed Powers out of his cushy patronage job in Secretary of State Jason Gant's office in 2012. Powers's attack isn't much different from the baseless insults he throws at me. Kurtz, Ehrisman, and I all disagree with and effectively challenge the party line Powers fawningly regurgitates. Rather than offering good faith rebuttals, Powers plays at personal destruction... which sounds at least as hateful and bigoted as anything Kurtz writes.

I will monitor Dakota Progressive's progress. I'll link to and expand on readworthy posts, and, as with other blogs, if Kurtz can sustain the effort, I'll consider adding it to the sidebar blog feed. But if it really just is a left-wing version of Dakota War College, a mouthpiece for party propaganda, why would I bother?

59 comments

Fellow South Dakota blogger Scott Ehrisman is seeking appointment to the Minnehaha County Commission. Commissioner John Pekas won election as Second Circuit judge this month, so the county needs someone to fill his term through 2016.

Ehrisman offers the commission a diverse blue-collar and creative work experience (and he grew up on a sheep and hog farm!) that would bring a healthy new perspective to county government. I whole-heartedly endorse his candidacy.

Whoops—make that 95%-heartedly. Ehrisman makes one promise that I can't back:

I know you have concerns. I maintain a controversial website about local government. It is my child. It’s premise is simple, to inform and to entertain through political satire and activism. I often tell people, “If you can’t laugh at politicians, you will only end up hating them.” I am not a hater. I have often tried to use the blog as a catalyst for change and activism. Sometimes it achieves those goals, sometimes it falls on it’s face. It has given me a very thick skin, but it has also made me aware of the public’s sensitivities. If appointed to this commission, I would stop the blog or pass on the reigns to another author. I HATE conflicts of interest with public officials, and I would find it necessary to eliminate them by ending my authorship. I believe it is difficult to stop ALL conflicts as a public official, but also believe we have clear choices, and unlike other candidates applying for this position, I would CHOOSE to eliminate as many conflicts as possible [Scott Ehrisman, "I Announced Today My Intent to Be Considered for Appointment to the Minnehaha County Commission," South Dacola, 2014.11.18].

I agree that Ehrisman's engagement with the public through his blog has enhanced his skills as a politician (I'm using the word in its best sense, Scott, meaning a practitioner of civic discourse and policy-making, an engineer of the polis). Blogging done right (i.e., reading, interviewing, thinking, and writing your own material, not regurgitating the press releases of one's patrons) improves one's understanding of the community. It improves one's ability to speak and to listen. Blogging has made Ehrisman a better public servant.

For those reasons, I disagree with Ehrisman's feeling that he must stop blogging if appointed as a potential conflict of interest. His interest as a commissioner would be to stay connected with his constituents, to hear their concerns, and to lead useful public conversations. Ehrisman's blog could play a vital rile in serving the public interest.

I recognize that Ehrisman would find himself unable to blog about confidential county business. Decorum would require caution in criticizing fellow commission members, commission decisions, and county employees. Some subjects might well be better handled by guest blog authors.

However, Ehrisman's blog would be a perfect forum for informing his constituents about issues before the commission, for soliciting public input outside the strictures of official meetings, and for developing and explaining his own thinking on county policy.

State Rep. (now State Senator-Elect) Bernie Hunhoff wrote and edited South Dakota Magazine during his tenure in the State House. He avoided any conflict of interest while still using his forum to connect with his constituents. Rep.-Elect Fred Deutsch has blogged as a Watertown school board member; we can only hope he will carry on the practice of Rep. Kathy Tyler, whom he unseated this month and who regularly and informatively blogged during her tenure in the State House.

Bloggers can serve in political office. Politicians can serve the public by blogging. Minnehaha County, put Ehrisman to work for the people. Scott, keep working for the people by blogging!

8 comments

Whoo-hoo! Scott Meyer and friends are beginning to post videos from last month's TEDxBrookings event! Here's my talk on blogging, identity, and community in South Dakota:

I know many of you love text as much as I do, so here's my prepared text (not a transcript, mind you, since my speeches always morph in the moment):

I'm Cory Heidelberger. I'm a South Dakotan. I write the Madville Times, a political blog about South Dakota.

But I haven't been in South Dakota, not regularly, not as much as I'd like. A year ago, I had to leave. I didn't want to leave South Dakota, but I had to.

How many of you have heard someone say that: I don't want to leave South Dakota. I don't want to leave my hometown. But I have to.

During a blog tour this summer, I was chatting in a café when another friend comes in. We spot each other, say hi, talk a while. I mention how thrilled I am to be back and see friends like this.

“Be back? What do you mean?”

“Well, I've been gone for a year.”

And this friend looks at me and says, “I had no idea. It seemed like you never left South Dakota.”

That comment meant a lot to me. It said I'd succeeded. When we left South Dakota last year, I told myself I wanted to maintain my identity as a South Dakotan. I wanted to stay engaged with my community in South Dakota. And I was able to do that with my blog.

I've been blogging seriously about South Dakota life and culture and politics for about eight years. I called my blog the Madville Times, because Madison was my hometown. When I started, I thought I'd write mostly about Madison.

As I blogged, I found myself drawn into conversations with other South Dakota blogs. I found myself writing about other South Dakota towns and about South Dakota issues affecting the entire state. You see, blogs are just like South Dakota towns and South Dakota people. We don't exist in isolation. We interact; we respond; we challenge each other. In competition and in collaboration, we build an evolving narrative about our state.

Then in 2011, I had to move from Madison to Spearfish for a job. I actually thought, for a moment, “Gee, maybe I shouldn't take this job. I mean, how can I write the Madville Times if I'm not in Madison?” As I said, that was just for a moment.

My identity was strongly attached to my hometown. I wondered how it would affect me to move from the place I'd called home for all my life.

But when I got to Spearfish, I realized the effect my blogging had had on my sense of “home.” When I got to Spearfish, I kept researching and writing about South Dakota issues. I kept talking with and cultivating a circle of South Dakota friends and neighbors and sources. I kept debating and joking with the same bloggers and commenters. I didn't get homesick in Spearfish because I was still home... in South Dakota.

Then came Spokane. My wife had a year-long internship there, her entry into her profession as a pastor. I didn't want to leave South Dakota, but we couldn't pass that up. Leaving was professionally necessary.

My blog had survived the move from East River to West River. But could the blog survive Spokane? Could my identity as a South Dakotan survive? Could I keep participating in the community that I considered my home, even if I wasn't home?

I committed myself to trying. When we moved last year, we did our necessary work and went out and enjoyed the parks around Spokane, but I focused my attention on what was happening back in South Dakota. Every morning I maintained my discipline of going straight to the computer, checking the South Dakota blogs and news sites, and writing about South Dakota. I fostered existing relationships and forged new connections with South Dakota sources.

I even organized some political activism from afar. Last March, some blog readers expressed an interest in challenging a nominating petition. I'll avoid the politics, but I'll tell you that it was a logistically challenging project. We had a document with over 2,800 handwritten names, signatures, dates, and addresses. We had to convert that data to spreadsheet, cross-check those data points with themselves and a few data collections, research election law, follow up on hunches, and prepare a formal report of our findings within a week. I had to coordinate the activities of team members, many of whom desired anonymity, working in several different places.

And I had to direct their efforts without working with any of them face to face. I was 1,200 miles away, in Spokane, navigating a complicated and rushed legal process with an aggregation of South Dakotans whose only common point of contact was me.

Believe it or not, the project worked. The petition challenge itself failed—our research did not identify enough signatures to disqualify the petition. But I was able to use the knowledge and the trust I had built up through the blog to assemble and manage a team and to produce a collaborative document and evidence file that laid the groundwork for a criminal investigation.

That experience taught me that, thanks to the Internet, the choice between South Dakota and opportunities elsewhere is not as binary as it used to be.

The Internet's solvent effect on geographical boundaries is not news. Many of you live and work in South Dakota and use our wondrous digital technology to tap talent and markets and resources around the country, just as I was able to sit in Washington State and tap local talent here to help the folks I call my neighbors and influence the political process in the state I choose to call home.

Wait: wind that back. I'm not in South Dakota. But I choose “South Dakotan” as my identity. I choose South Dakota as my community in which I exert my political will. Does that make me the Koch Brothers? Does that make me George Soros? Do I have any more right to participate in this community than the RVers who rent a mailbox and register to vote in Madison so they can dodge their home-state income taxes?

That moral question is news. Do I really get to choose my identity and exercise it in your community, just because I say so, and just because I blog a lot?

I know I can use the Internet to sustain my presence in my community even when I'm not present. But should I?

I won't try on this stage to work out a complicated Habermasian/Wendell Berryan/Steve Jobsian philosophical framework of the morality of online presence. (Besides, our governor says philosophy is a waste of time, right?)

The question deserves much deeper and more interactive analysis than one ten-minute lecture. But I'll posit a starting point... and a raison d'être for my continued blogging.

Love.

I love South Dakota. I love South Dakotans. I want to be here with you. And when I can't be here with you, I will find a way to be here with you, in head and heart if not hand in hand.

I don't think the Koch brothers will say that.

We can sustain connection to the community we love through buttons and screens if we have to. It's not easy. It does not replace being there... or being here, with you, today, in Brookings, South Dakota, having dinner with Judy and joking with Scott and hearing Stephanie's stories about Zachary Lars.

But those buttons and screens are better than saying goodbye. It takes effort—it takes being on fire for the people you call neighbors and for the place you call home. But when you have that fire, you can still find ways to reach out to those screens and be useful to the community you love.

This summer I got to break out of those screens. I went on a blog tour of South Dakota. In eight days, I visited Rapid City, Edgemont, Manderson, Mission, Eureka, Mitchell, Brookings, and Sioux Falls. I interviewed 19 people in person, made one public speech and one radio appearance, covered two political debates, went fourwheeling with a legislator and a scientist, posted 23 articles with two videos and 64 pictures, and put 1,300 miles on my car, all in South Dakota. It was like a vacation... at home.

The blog tour allowed me to reconnect with friends and events and the prairie itself in ways we cannot do online. The friend I happened to meet at that café said it felt like I'd been here the entire time, but I still needed to refill my bottle with South Dakota air and water and chat and dirt (plus that layer of grasshopper guts on my bumper). Like the boyfriend back from college for a weekend, or the soldier on leave before her next deployment, I recharged on home to remind myself of who I am, whom I love, and what I'm fighting for.

I recharged for another temporary absence, this time in St. Paul, as my wife finishes her last semester of seminary.

And when we get back, when my wife gets her first call at a South Dakota church and we settle back into South Dakota, I'll feel as if I never left. I hope you'll agree... and I hope you'll have me back [Cory Allen Heidelberger, prepared remarks, "Always South Dakota: Blogging, Identity, and Community," TEDxBrookings, 2014.10.04].

Stay tuned for more great South Dakota speeches from the October event on the TEDxBrookings Facebook page!

46 comments

CNN correspondent Dana Bash noted how cordial—heck, downright friendly—Rick Weiland, Larry Pressler, and Gordon Howie are to each other as they compete for the U.S. Senate seat. During breaks in a KSOO radio forum last week, the candidates chatted about poetry, hunting, and the weather.

Another sign of comity in South Dakota politics is this profile of Democratic candidate for state treasurer Denny Pierson written by Libertarian blogger and opposing candidate Ken Santema.

Yes, Santema's name appears on the ballot against Pierson. Santema uses his blog to broadcast his opponent's ideas on engaging county officials in helping citizens reclaim unclaimed property, restoring the state's unclaimed property holding period from three to five years, and making more public service announcements to let people know about unclaimed property.

Santema waits for the end to editorialize:

Pierson is an interesting entry into this race. His idea of expanding the Unclaimed Property area of the State Treasurers office to County Treasurers is interesting. I haven’t looked deep enough into to see whether it is a workable idea yet, but I will admit it is something worth discussing. I think the Democrats may have chosen well when putting Pierson on the ballot for State Treasurer [Ken Santema, "Democrat State Treasurer Candidate Denny Pierson Talking about His Top Priority," SoDakLiberty, 2014.10.19].

Find me one other candidate anywhere on the South Dakota's ballot who blogs so generously, civilly, and honestly about his opponent and his opponent's platform. Ken Santema, you are a credit to blogging, to Libertarians, and to South Dakota politics.

12 comments

Pat Powers is having as bad a week as Mike Rounds. First he fouls the leverage his party minders could have gained with the Wismer plagiarism story by implicating his favorite flatteree Rounds in his fabricated fuss over Wismer's stock photos. And now real journalist Seth Tupper finds Powers flat wrong in his rumor-mongering about Brendan Johnson's house sale.

Powers had tried to Febreze his musty press releases by posting information about the U.S. Attorney selling his house, offering unsubstantiated anonymous hints that the Heidepriem law firm was rearranging partners, and concluding (behind the shield of blog-headline question marks, of course) that Johnson was quitting his job and heading to private practice in preparation to run for office in 2016.

Tupper, who now works for the paper that Powers criticized Wednesday for not maintaining a political reporter, reported yesterday that Powers is wrong:

It turns out the reality isn’t as buzzworthy as the gossip, according to Brendan Johnson. In an interview, Johnson said he has no plans to leave the U.S. attorney’s office in the immediate future and simply sold his former house in Minnehaha County and bought a different one in neighboring Lincoln County.

A check of records in Lincoln County confirms that the Johnsons bought a house there Aug. 18. A county fee of 50 cents per $500 was charged, and that fee came to $1,500, which means the purchase price was likely around $1.5 million.

“Just wanted to be closer to my wife’s office and have more garage space for our two teen drivers,” Johnson said [Seth Tupper, "Tongues Wagging Prematurely about U.S. Attorney," Rapid City Journal, 2014.09.26].

Jeepers! If Pat Powers were reporting on the Governor's Office of Economic Development/Northern Beef Packers/EB-5 scandal, Pat Powers-of-Deduction would be "reporting" that Richard Benda was abducted by aliens who sucked all the blood out of his body through a single small hole in his abdomen. Gee—that might actually be more fun than his endless and error-riddled obsession with Brendan Johnson.

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