Among the victims of the multiple shooting in Sisseton Saturday was Vernon Renville, Jr., also known as Vernon Redday. Lake Traverse Reservation newspaper Sota Iya Ye Yapi reports that Renville advocated for LGBT rights in Indian Country:

Vernon was a gentle giant of a young man, physically large and with an equally big heart. He was known for a sense of humor. And he’d volunteer for any walk or campaign to bring awareness to some of the most important problems on the Lake Traverse Reservation. Whether it was awareness of domestic violence, child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, prejudice/racism, you-name-it. And he was a strong voice for the LGBT community. His brothers and sisters of the Two Spirit movement are mourning along with Vernon’s family and lots of other friends. We remember him during last winter’s Idle No More walk through snow-covered streets of Sisseton [CD Floro, "Tragedy in Sisseton: Young Oyate Lives Lost in Shooting," Sota Iya Ye Yapi Online, accessed 2014.11.24].

Two Spirit is an Anishinabe term. This social work sheet elaborates:

Two-Spirit is a Native American term that is usually used to indicate a person whose body simultaneously houses a masculine spirit and a feminine spirit. Two-Spirit is a Native concept: Will Roscoe writes that Two-Spirit people have been "documented in over 130 tribes, in every region of North America, among every type of native culture.” Different words are used for Two-Spirit people in different tribes, and the word Two-Spirit may have different meanings in different Native languages. Some tribes may not have a commonly known and used word for Two-Spirit people at this point in time.

Historically and culturally, Two-Spirit people were respected and honored by their tribes. Their gender roles in the community included protecting children; being parental/partners; helping in ceremonies; gathering food and medicine; caretaking; and serving as peacekeepers, name givers, and spiritual leaders. Due to oppression (including homophobia/transphobia) and historical and intergenerational trauma there are issues that may disproportionately impact Two-Spirit/Native LGBTQ people today [Tom Lidot and Lenny Hayes, "Sharing Our Lived Experiences," National Resource Center for Tribes and Tribal STAR, 2014].

Renville had to learn that history to understand his Two Spirit identity:

Renville struggled to find his place as a Two Spirit in his tribal community, but through prayer and asking his elders about the place they held in Dakota culture, he has found some wisdom. “I discovered that we weren't actually outcasts. We weren't shunned or anything, that we were actually highly-revered people and we were assassinated – I guess you could say – by the Europeans” [Alfred Walking Bull, "First S.D. Two Spirit Society Honors and Educates on the Reservation," The Circle, 2014.10.11].

Renville co-founded the new Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Two Spirit Society, the first such LGBT advocacy group in South Dakota's nine reservations:

Members of the newly-formed Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Two Spirit Society gathered on Sept. 26 to educate members of the tribe on LGBTQ Native issues while honoring one of their own who was killed earlier in the month.

The group – the first Two Spirit society in any of the nine reservations in South Dakota – began its mission in June of this year. A testament to the growing power of social media on the reservation, the event “Gay is OK” was the impetus for forming the society. “We all went out to the corner, stood outside and held signs. And while we were standing there, we talked about forming a society, so we set a meeting date and from then on, it's been going ever since,” Vernon Renville, society co-founder said [Walking Bull, 2014.10.11].

In Renville, the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate has lost an organizer and a fighter for equality.

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South Dakota law enforcement alarmed the state into a manhunt yesterday morning following a multiple shooting in Sisseton:

State and local Law Enforcement are searching for Colter Richard Arbach, 22, Sissteton, the subject in a quadruple homicide. The shooting incident occurred in a Sisseton residence early this morning. Four individuals are dead and one is critically injured. The names of the victims are not being released at this time.

Arbach is armed and dangerous and should not be approached. Anyone who has seen Arbach or knows of his whereabouts is asked to contact the Sisseton Police Department at 605-698-7667 [South Dakota Attorney General's office, press release #1, 2014.11.22, approx. 6 a.m.].

About three and a half hours later, law enforcement found their suspect... dead at the scene of the crime:

The Division of Criminal Investigation has located and identified Colter Richard Arbach, 22, Sisseton, as one of the deceased individuals at the scene of the shooting incident that occurred at a Sisseton residence early this morning. Preliminary investigation results identify Arbach as the shooter, before taking his own life. Investigators are continuing to locate other individuals who may have been at the scene at the time of the shooting for their involvement or their eyewitness account. Law Enforcement does not feel that the public is in danger at this time.

The investigation is still ongoing. Agencies assisting in this investigation are the Sisseton Police Department, Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribal Police, Roberts County Sheriff’s Office, South Dakota Highway Patrol, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks and the Division of Criminal Investigation [South Dakota Attorney General's office, press release #2, 2014.11.22, tweeted 9:32 a.m.].

Before whipping the public into a panic, maybe law enforcement should check IDs on the bodies one more time. If investigators knew enough to peg Arbach as the shooter, if they had a description and a photo, then whoever they were talking to at the scene probably would have known enough to ID the perp at the scene.

Keep calm, and carry on.

54 comments

At the Dakotafest debate in August, Independent candidate Larry Pressler advanced the thesis that electing Mike Rounds would leave South Dakota with a "wounded Senator." Lincoln County Democrat Ryan Casey takes that thesis a step further, asking if an indictment against Rounds for malfeasance in his EB-5 program would leave South Dakota with no junior Senator:

Article I, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution and the 17th Amendment give states the ability to fill U.S. Senate vacancies due to death, expulsion or resignation. In South Dakota, the governor makes an appointment to fill a vacancy until the next general election.

If Rounds is elected, indicted, and resigns, the governor can appoint his replacement almost immediately, preserving South Dakota's crucial representation in the Senate. If Rounds insists on remaining in office throughout his criminal proceedings, however, constituents will be left to question his effectiveness as a senator and his ability to serve their interests.

Luckily, there is still time on the clock. South Dakota voters can determine the outcome of this election [Ryan Casey, "Would Rounds Indictment Leave South Dakota Without a Senator?" Huffington Post, 2014.10.21].

Rep. Bill Janklow put us in that situation in 2003, not resigning until he was found guilty of manslaughter and not making that resignation effective until his sentencing, a month and a half after conviction.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves: Mike Rounds hasn't caused anyone's death that we know of, and we're still nailing what if any crime Rounds may have committed. (Remember: sloppy management and dishonesty aren't crimes.)

But voters, consider the odds: you have three Senate candidates who are not under any known federal investigation. You have one candidate who is at the center of a scandal under ongoing federal investigation, and that candidate has been spinning flexible and doubtful tales about his involvement in that scandal all year. Rick Weiland, Larry Pressler, and Gordon Howie are more likely to be ready to serve on day one and not require any litigious sabbatical, let alone replacement by the Governor.

Dump Rounds, and focus on your viable Senate candidates.

14 comments

Dakota War College has tried to brand itself as the main outlet for all news "SDSenate2014," yet DWC author Powers has doggedly avoided discussing any of the big news that has made South Dakota's U.S. Senate race nationally newsworthy. Powers's alternatively sparse and spinfully selective coverage of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, Northern Beef Packers, EB-5, Joop Bollen, and Richard Benda puts the lie to any claim Powers makes to journalism or your attention. Someone's got to seek the whole truth on GOED/NBP/EB-5/Bollen/Benda, and it's not going to be Dakota War College.

Attorney General Marty Jackley has shown a similarly irresponsible selectivity in his approach to the GOED/NBP/EB-5 scandal. Recall that last summer, AG Jackley signaled a change in the official narrative about the $550,000 in Mike Rounds Future Fund money that outgoing GOED chief Richard Benda redirected from NBP to EB-5 money laundry SDRC Inc. and (mostly) his own loan-monitoring salary. At the July 29, 2014 Government Operations and Audit Committee hearing, Jackley unbidden released a never-before-hinted arrest warrant for grand theft and embezzlement that Jackley said he had been planning to file against Benda before Benda's suspicious death on October 20, 2013.

Whether Richard Benda committed a crime when he shook down NBP for that half-million-plus remains unanswered. But if Benda did commit a crime—and AG Jackley's unprecedented release of an unexecuted arrest warrant can only be read as an attempt to hang that noose around a dead man's neck—he did not commit it alone. Every news report on that $550,000 transaction in January 2011 has said Benda carried the money from NBP to SDRC Inc. Benda did not put the money into his pocket. He carried the money to his new boss, Joop Bollen, who then wrote Benda checks on the SDRC Inc. account for $450,000.

If Richard Benda committed a crime, he did so at the behest of his employer, Joop Bollen. Bollen's company, SDRC Inc. knowingly received these ill-gotten funds, disbursed most of them to Benda, but kept another $100,000 for... well, for who knows what.

Benda is dead, but Bollen is not. Benda has been branded a crook by a never-executed arrest warrant, but Bollen roams free, shielded from arrest and scrutiny by the most powerful Republicans in the state.

Forget subpoenaing Joop Bollen. If Attorney General Marty Jackley believes his own pronouncements against Richard Benda, he should be making the same pronouncements against Benda's partner in crime Joop Bollen and executing an arrest warrant on the SDRC Inc. boss right now.

61 comments

At an 11 a.m. press conference in Rapid City today, South Dakota Democratic Party attorney Patrick Duffy accused Republican Senate candidate Mike Rounds of committing a felony and called on the former governor to withdraw from the race.

On September 22, 2014, in response to questions from the Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee, Rounds declared, "The governor's office 'was not served'" in the Darley v. SDIBI litigation.

On October 2, 2014, this blog and other media published proof of service of the governor's office in Darley v SDIBI on July 14, 2009, contradicting Rounds's testimony.

Duffy says that false statement violates SDCL 22-12A-16:

Falsification of evidence. Any person who prepares any false book, paper, record, instrument in writing, or other matter or thing with intent to produce it or allow it to be produced as genuine in any trial, proceeding, inquiry, or investigation authorized by law, is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

Duffy then points to SDCL 22-12A-10 for consequences of such felonious action:

Forfeiture of public office for violation--Disqualification from holding other office. The public office of any public officer or employee who is convicted of violating any provision contained in this chapter is forfeit. Moreover, such public officer or employee is forever disqualified from holding any public office in this state.

Duffy says that Mike Rounds and members of his campaign team prepared false evidence for GOAC's legally authorized inquiry. Duffy says that action disqualifies Rounds from holding public office in this state.

Committing a felony does not disqualify one from holding a seat in Congress; however, like the South Dakota Legislature, the Senate and House have the authority to refuse to seat members they deem unqualified to serve.

Duffy contends Rounds's guilt is so certain that he should do South Dakota a favor and withdraw immediately from the U.S. Senate race. Duffy says South Dakotans deserve a candidate who is qualified to hold office and who does not misrepresent facts before a legislative committee.

Given the content of the South Dakota Republican Party press conference in Sioux Falls earlier this morning, expect SDGOP chairman Craig Lawrence to call Duffy a coward and threaten to sue Duffy for saying mean things about Mike Rounds.

51 comments

Just when you thought the Libertarian brand could suffer no greater damage, police arrest Emmett Reistroffer for raising hell at Eastgate Towing:

When officers arrived they found Emmett Reistroffer, a Libertarian candidate for Secretary of State.

His car was towed to the lot because of unpaid parking tickets; police say Reistroffer insisted the company had no right to tow it.

He's charged with a misdemeanor charge of unlawful occupancy ["Candidate Charged with Misdemeanor," KELOLand.com, 2014.09.10].

Don't worry, Emmett. I'm sure your fellow "Libertarian" Chad Haber will be happy to lend you a car. Maybe he can use his awesome political fundraising skills to guilt some gullible Christians to buy you a campaign car.

But maybe Reistroffer has done us all a favor. His arrest puts the lie to the candidate immunity theory that arose last May when Attorney General Marty Jackley said would not arrest or prosecute anyone who is on the ballot, for fear of interfering in an election. Reistroffer is on the ballot. Are Sioux Falls police interfering with an election by arresting him and subjecting him to bad press? If it's o.k. for Sioux Falls police to arrest a Secretary of State candidate for getting hot when his car gets towed, is it o.k. for the U.S. Attorney or the state Attorney General to perp walk a Senatorial candidate for aiding and abetting fraud and violations of state law?

Or maybe Reistroffer has shown us that the "standard practice though not an ironclad rule" of prosecutorial non-interference in elections only applies to the rich, big-name candidates and the candidates whom the powers that be think serve their agenda.

38 comments

When her son Brady Alan Folkens died in state custody, Dawn Van Ballegooyen of Brookings accused the state of South Dakota of murder. So did Larry Kurtz.

Here are the facts placed on the record by the state of South Dakota. First, the state press release on Folkens's death:

A 17-year old male resident of the State Treatment and Rehabilitation (STAR) Academy in Custer has died from an apparent medical condition.

Brady Folkens developed symptoms and was seen by on-site medical staff before being taken to the Custer Regional Hospital on Dec 21. After being placed in the care of the Custer Regional Hospital, the decision was made to airlift Brady to Sioux Falls so that he could be seen by a specialist. Brady passed away Saturday night at a Sioux Falls hospital.

The family was notified and was present at the hospital at the time Brady died.

Per Department of Corrections (DOC) policy, the Juvenile Corrections Monitor (JCM) was also notified of the death. The JCM serves as an independent advocate for the youth placed at STAR Academy.

An autopsy will be conducted. The DOC has requested that the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation investigate the death, which is standard procedure for all deaths that occur while someone is in DOC custody.

There is no indication at this time that any of STAR Academy’s youth or staff members need any special medical treatment as a result of this illness. However, test results are still pending regarding the cause of his illness and if further follow-up is indicated appropriate measures will be taken.

Brady’s name is being released with the approval of his family.

STAR Academy is home to the state-run juvenile corrections programs. The Patrick Henry Brady Academy and Youth Challenge Center programs for males are located on the main campus south of Custer, while programs for female offenders are located in Custer State Park. The youth that are served by STAR Academy have all been placed in the custody of the DOC by the court system [South Dakota Department of Corrections, press release, 2013.12.22].

DOC issued this statement on the autopsy in February:

A death certificate shows a 17-year-old resident of the State Treatment and Rehabilitation (STAR) Academy in Custer died from lymphocytic myocarditis associated with Parvovirus B19.

Brady Folkens developed symptoms and was seen by on-site medical staff before being taken to the Custer Regional Hospital on Dec 21. After being placed in the care of the Custer Regional Hospital, the decision was made to airlift Brady to Sioux Falls so that he could be seen by a specialist. Brady passed away that night at a Sioux Falls hospital.

Parvovirus B19 is a common viral infection in children also known as erythema infectiosum or Fifth disease. This has been called Fifth disease because it is one of five common viral rash illnesses in children, along with measles, rubella, chicken pox and roseola. This infection is usually associated with runny nose and fever (most often thought of as a common cold) and then often followed by a bright red rash of the cheeks. There is no treatment for this virus and symptoms usually resolve spontaneously. However, when the infection invades the cells of the heart it can cause muscle dysfunction in the heart.

The Division of Criminal Investigation investigated the death and determined that no foul play was involved.

The juvenile corrections monitor (JCM) has submitted a report that shows no evidence of abuse or neglect and had no further recommendations in this case. The JCM serves as an independent advocate for the youth placed at STAR Academy [State of South Dakota, press release, 2014.02.05].

A commenter claiming to be Dawn Van Ballegooyen has alternated between saying that Brady Folkens died because of the state's neglect and saying that the state committed murder. I await confirmation of that commenter's identity, but either claim provokes sufficiently to warrant discussion in a thread of its own.

I invite discussion of Van Ballegooyen's charge. However, I will moderate to keep the discussion focused on available and relevant facts. This discussion does not branch off into discussion of other child welfare cases or campaign advocacy. Our questions here:

  1. Did the state of South Dakota murder Brady Folkens?
  2. Did the state of South Dakota neglect Brady Folkens when he needed medical assistance?
  3. Are any of the facts as laid out by the state in the press releases above incorrect?
100 comments

Remember how they nailed Al Capone?

One of the trickiest parts the EB-5/Northern Beef Packers/Governor's Office of Economic Development scandal is figuring out whether anyone broke the law. We've gotten mixed signals from the Governor and the Attorney General about Richard Benda's culpability, but since Benda is dead, we'll never get a verdict on whether he committed any outright crimes. Who's left to perp walk, and for what?

How about Joop Bollen, for tax evasion?

Joop Bollen's private company, SDRC Inc., makes loans and mortgages through subsidiary paper corporations. SDRC Inc. took $550,000 from Northern Beef Packers to pay Richard Benda monitor SDRC Inc's loans to Northern Beef Packers. As I reported last November, one would think this activity would make SDRC Inc. a bank.

SDRC Inc's lawyer Jeff Sveen thinks so. In a May 11, 2011 letter pertaining to litigation in California, Sveen says pretty much what I'm saying, that SDRC Inc., like a bank, lends money:

SDIBI is primarily involved in export promotions and facilitating direct investment for the State of South Dakota. It involves many components, including seminars and workshops, export finance, international trade resources, assisting companies with the South Dakota Foreign Trade Zone, Trade Lead Generators, and South Dakota Exporter's Directory.... It promotes economic development in South Dakota. EB-5 is just one component of the foreign direct investment activities offered by SDIBI. Under that EB-5 component, only equity projects are promoted. In contrast, SDRC, Inc. is completely different in its functions. It is not a facilitator in any equity programs. SDRC, Inc. does not promote economic development, but simply obtains funding through EB-5 and functions similar to a bank by lending those same funds to projects in South Dakota" [Jeffrey T. Sveen, letter to Jennifer S. Elkayam, 2011.05.11].

SDRC Inc. lends money, like a bank, says SDRC Inc's lawyer.

Why does this matter? Because South Dakota imposes an income tax on banks. We call it the bank franchise tax. If you make money lending money—and SDRC Inc. did—then you pay taxes on that money to South Dakota—and SDRC Inc. did not.

Look at the list of money lender licenses issued by the South Dakota Banking Commission. The economic development corporations in Aberdeen, Huron, Webster, and Eureka have had to get lending licenses. The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod had to get one for who knows what. But SDRC Inc. doesn't have a money lender license.

Now lending money without a license is only a misdemeanor. But not paying bank franchise tax to the state... that will hit players in the pocketbook. If SDRC has avoided getting a lender license, it has likely avoided paying the 6% on its net income required by the bank franchise tax. It's hard to know how much Bollen, Sveen, Benda, and friends have skimmed from the millions in EB-5 investment, but if they're loans, they owe South Dakota some bank franchise tax, plus penalties and interest.

So if Bollen and Sveen and Mike Rounds and Dennis Daugaard will appear before the Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee on September 24, or heck, maybe at Friday's State Fair debates, we should open with these questions:

  1. Was Joop Bollen running a bank?
  2. Did Joop Bollen license his bank?
  3. Did Joop Bollen pay bank franchise taxes?
  4. On #3, if not, why not, and when will he?

Richard Benda is dead. Saying we would have arrested him or fired him is unprovable hindsight fall-guyism. We have Joop Bollen right there, sitting in his nice house in Aberdeen, quite possibly still collecting interest on loans floated to EB-5-backed enterprises and sitting on money that lawfully belongsto the State of South Dakota.

Attorney General Jackley, Governor Daugaard, are going to collect that bank franchise tax? Or are we o.k. with tax evasion?

Update 09:32 CDT:P&R says he'd get rid of EB-5 even if there were no illegal or unethical activities in South Dakota's exploitation of that program. But the point here is that there may well be illegal activities. That's what makes the EB-5/Northern Beef Packers/GOED/Benda/Bollen story so complicated: we have at least two levels of critique, with bad actors abusing bad policy.

30 comments

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