Senator Jason Frerichs (D-1/Wilmot) got the Senate to advance his watershed management plan yesterday. Senate Bill 2, while significantly watered down, is a positive step toward dealing with drainage and other water quality issues in South Dakota. In its baby-steps form, SB 2 will map nine new "river basin natural resource districts," for South Dakota's major watersheds, then dispatch a task force to work with local governments to create a pilot water management plan for the Vermillion River watershed. Senator Frerichs tells me he likes that step, since the Vermillion River is the only watershed that lies entirely in South Dakota. Starting there will give local lawmakers, water consumers, and conservationists a good framework for applying plans to other districts which will inevitably have cross-border conversations about water quality.

The Senate vote wasn't a slam dunk: SB 2 drew 12 nays from Republicans who either don't like government, cooperation on water issues, or bills by Democrats (although the latter shouldn't play too large in opponents' sentiments, since the prime sponsor in the House is Republican Majority Leader Brian Gosch (R-32/Rapid City).

Technically, Senator Frerichs offered some debate on his bill the day before it came up in the Senate. On Wednesday, during debate on throwing another pot of money at pine beetles in the Black Hills, Senator Frerichs drew the following comparison:

I applaud the efforts of the folks that are dealing with this Mother Nature problem out there, truly management at its finest. In our Ag committee we've had a little discussion about this and I've talked with my friends who represent those areas.

You know, this pine beetle issue is very similar to what we deal with on the eastern side as far as some water issues, especially surface water, and so I just ask the body's support. Even though I'm probably about as far away from this issue as could be anyone else, we're duly elected as 35 senators to represent this state. I think it's a good issue, and I appreciate the efforts for management on a Mother Nature problem [Senator Jason Frerichs, floor debate on SB 152, South Dakota Senate, Pierre, South Dakota, 2015.02.18, timestamp 32:45].

Translation: I'll vote to spend money on you guys' problem, even though pine beetles aren't eating trees in my back yard; how about you guys vote to help solve some water issues that are more prevalent in my bailiwick?

Four Black Hills senators (Haverly, Rampelberg, Solano, and Tieszen) took Frerichs up on that pitch (because you know, water does run through the Black Hills, too!). Three Black Hills senators (Cammack, Ewing, and Jensen) said no while happily taking tax dollars for their beetles.

Also voting no was the senator towards who sees darn near all of that water flow through his back yard, Senator Dan Lederman (R-16/Dakota Dunes). Of course, when all that run-off comes burbling over the dikes at his golf course, Senator Lederman will climb on his McMansion roof and shout for more big government management of his water problems.

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Perry Groten asked Senator Dan Lederman on last night's Inside KELOLand to discuss the significance of the transportation bills before the South Dakota Legislature.

The flauntingly conservative Republican PACker from Dakota Dunes proceeded to destroy every anti-tax, anti-stimulus argument ever:

This is the first time in sixteen years that we've addressed transportation funding, so it's a conversation that's been long in the running, that we need to have. It's a tough decision, because when you're talking about increasing taxes, people's pocketbooks are going to be affected and it's a very serious discussion.

But it also has some good upsides, because we're looking at being able to improve those roads. Even though the tax dollars come out of the economy, they do go back in when we start talking about the contractors, the materials, and the work that will be done over the next few years.

So it's actually a pretty big impact for the economy, and it's a great impact for our farms and for our businesses that need to use those infrastructures to be able to get their product to market [Senator Dan Lederman, Inside KELOLand, 2015.02.15, timestamp 8:30].

Translation: taxes don't make money disappear from the economy. They go right back into the economy to buy things, boost the economy, and invest in the public goods the free market needs to survive.

Barack Obama, Robert Reich, and I couldn't have said it better ourselves. Thanks, Dan! We'll keep that lucid defense of the upsides of increasing taxes for public investment handy for the next time Grover Norquist comes peddling his pledge.

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Democratic candidate for District 16 Senate Ann Tornberg keeps eating incumbent Republican Senator Dan Lederman's lunch. Tornberg posts two more endorsements from local Republicans:

Karen Kirkebak, registered Republican, endorses Democrat Ann Tornberg for District 16 Senate. From Facebook, 2014.11.03.

Karen Kirkebak, registered Republican, endorses Democrat Ann Tornberg for District 16 Senate. From Facebook, 2014.11.03.

Bill and Fern Vermillion, registered Republicans, endorse Democrat Ann Tornberg for District 16 Senate. From Facebook, 2014.11.02.

Bill and Fern Vermillion, registered Republicans, endorse Democrat Ann Tornberg for District 16 Senate. From Facebook, 2014.11.02.

Ladies and gentlemen, old and young—Tornberg's hustling for the bipartisan vote in District 16! Meanwhile, Dan Lederman rips off SDPB's flyover special and puts his base to sleep with this geography lesson about District 16:

"When you first enter District 16 from the south, you know that you are leaving the states of Iowa and Nebraska..."—thank you, Professor Obvious. And the first thing he mentions: warehouses. Warehouses. Yes, warehouses are what make District 16 special.

It's time to put Lederman in storage (in Iowa) and elect Ann Tornberg to really represent District 16 and South Dakota.

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It's not just Mike Rounds who shouts "Obama!" to get votes. The South Dakota Republican Party is fanning anti-Obama sentiment in the District 16 Senate race to protect Senator Dan Lederman from strong Democratic challenger Ann Tornberg.

The desperate measure of trying to nationalize a state legislative contest may not be working. Tornberg is posting endorsements from registered Republicans:

Roark for Tornberg

Tony Roark, Republican, Jefferson City Council

I serve on the Jefferson City Council. I believe in local control and as far as possible, for those in Pierre to leave local decisions to local city officials. I was disappointed in Dan Lederman when he sponsored Senate Bill 75 which prevents local governments from regulating certain dog breeds like pit bulls. Jefferson and North Sioux City had local ordinances which banned certain dog breeds. What really bothered me was that when I spoke to Sen. Lederman, he said he wasn’t even aware that we had these laws in Jefferson. I’d like to think that my Senator would at least know what the local laws are in the communities he represents. I’m a registered Republican, and I’ll be supporting Ann Tornberg. I sincerely believe she’ll listen to us, and will advocate for local control.

—Tony Roark, Jefferson [Ann Tornberg for District 16 South Dakota State Senate, Facebook post, 2014.10.30]

Unlike Pat Powers, when I use the plural in my headlines, I mean it. Here's Republican for Tornberg #2:

Melstad for Tornberg

Dennis Melstad, Republican, Dakota Dunes

I look at the candidate and vote for who I believe will be best for District 16 and South Dakota. I will vote for Ann Tornberg for the District 16 Senate race.

—Dennis Melstad, Dakota Dunes, Registered Republican [Ann Tornberg for District 16 South Dakota State Senate, Facebook post, 2014.10.27]

Tornberg draws an endorsement from another of Lederman's Dakota Dunes neighbors:

After talking to Ann several times during the 2013 Legislative Session as a legislative assistant and many times during this campaign season as she travels the District, I'm thoroughly convinced she has an in-depth understanding of the issues facing our District and the State. She approaches all issues the same way - from understanding the facts and fundamentals of an issue to reaching out to those affected by it - she is methodical in her approach. I look forward to working with her in the future.

—Jeff Dooley, Dakota Dunes Resident [Ann Tornberg for District 16 South Dakota State Senate, Facebook post, 2014.10.28]

While the SDGOP and Lederman fret about our President, Lederman's neighbors, Republicans included, are voting more on the candidates' engagement in District 16 and their knowledge of local District 16 issues. "Blame Obama!" has its limits, and Dan Lederman may be about to bump into those limits against Ann Tornberg.

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Michael Larson makes the case that District 16 voters should replace Senator Dan Lederman with Ann Tornberg, a real South Dakotan who will spend less time currying favor with Iowa pols and more time representing all of District 16, not just the section south of Exit 4. Larson hammers Lederman's association with Iowa's chief yahoo, Congressman Steve King, then gets on to Lederman's local minuses and Tornberg's pluses:

[Lederman] is a candidate that doesn't believe there is a teacher shortage, supports discrimination of LGBT, and loves having the state pay for him to attend ALEC events that allow him to write laws to support his business.

You can instead vote for a person that has lived in Union County for more than 40 years. Her husband in a third generation dairy farmer living in Union County. She attends and travels to communities in the entire District 16 (instead of only staying in North Sioux City). She works to protect the family farmer, education, and all of the people that live in the district. She is not going to use a win to discriminate, she is not going to support tax payers money going to partisan trips, she is not going to support the continued attack on South Dakota education. Ann Tornberg deserves your vote District 16 [Michael Larson, "Dan Lederman Representing Iowa," Taking a Left Turn in South Dakota, 2014.07.05].

Full disclosure: Michael Larson coaches debate. Ann Tornberg coached debate. So did I. Lederman prefers cage fighting. My preference should be clear. So should District 16's.

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As reported here first over the weekend, Tea Party organizer Ken Crow said he was leaving the Jason Ravnsborg campaign and endorsing Stace Nelson for South Dakota's GOP Senate nomination.

Ravnsborg appears to have responded via Twitter that he actually fired Crow last week. (Whether Ravnsborg himself tweeted that tidbit is in question, as someone besides Jason appears to have posting access.)

Crow rejects that claim in a comment here this morning and in a new press release. Crow says he has e-mails that show Ravnsborg welcomed Crow's further participation in the campaign. Crow says he left because he saw a candidate who does not want to win.

And why doesn't Ravnsborg want to win? Based six weeks on the trail with the candidate, Crow concludes that Ravnsborg is running to do a favor for his friends Dan Lederman and Joel Arends:

...After several conversations late at night while driving back from Lincoln Day Dinners, he had mentioned this fellow named Lederman at several different times. It had never registered with me for I was not familiar with the inner workings of South Dakota politics.

Of course now I am being told that it was Lederman who had convinced Jason Ravnsborg to run in the first place. In retrospect, Ravnsborg had mentioned to me on several occasions that he had been talked into running by several State Legislators and Lederman’s name was in the same breath when this was said to me. To be candid I cannot recall if he explicitly stated that Lederman was the only one, but I can state categorically that Lederman was mentioned several times in these conversations along with a fellow by the name of Joel Arends and several other state officials. Again; it did not mean much to me at the time because I did not understand the gravity of what he was saying. But the fact is that he did admit that it was his old college friends that are now in the Legislature that had convinced him to run. Of course I have subsequently learned that Arends is the Attorney for Annette Bosworth [Ken Crow, press release, 2014.05.27].

Crow's mention of Joel Arends deserves attention. Arends has been Bosworth's attorney since at 2012. He's been helping her with her Senate campaign. She started campaigning in June 2013. After taking a pounding on this blog, she began to face mainstream media scrutiny in November 2013, when KDLT picked up the story about her raffle scam and forced her to spout nonsense on the evening news. Ravnsborg entered the race in mid-December 2013.

The possible Arends connection to Ravnsborg becomes all the more discussion-worthy when Crow tells us what Ravnsborg proposed doing with the Rounds-EB-5 ad that Ravnsborg felt was too strong for him to run:

Jason had sent me an email on Monday after this altercation and I am in possession of these emails. I was offered 3 different options in which one involved selling the advertisement (Mike Rounds EB-5 video) to the Dr. Annette Bosworth campaign [Crow, 2014.05.27].

Logic spins:

  1. If the ad is really bad, you don't let it see the light of day.
  2. If the ad is a lemon, only a used-car salesman would think of selling it to someone else
  3. If the ad hits a mark that you don't want to hit, you hand it to a poor marksman who can make everyone else think, "Don't use that gun; only crazy people pick up that gun."

The immediate story here is that Jason Ravnsborg's campaign staff has issued a vote of no confidence in their candidate. Ken Crow, the campaigner who spent six weeks at Ravnsborg's side, says that Ravnsborg doesn't want to win. Crow says that Stace Nelson is the serious conservative alternative to Mike Rounds.

The bigger story we need to get at is why Jason Ravnsborg doesn't want to win, and why (and when, and how much) Dan Lederman and Joel Arends encouraged Ravnsborg to nominally wage a losing battle.Ravnsborg

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Snow falls. Snow melts. Rivers flood. It happened in 2011. It may happen again in 2014.

If you're smart, you pay attention to flood plain maps and build on higher ground. If you're rich, powerful, and arrogant, you build in the flood plain and expect the governor to send Joe Lowe and the National Guard to build a levee to spare your big house.

And then you sue.

Dakota Dunes Republican Senator Dan Lederman is among four pages of plaintiffs suing the Army Corps of Engineers for getting their land wet. I count five South Dakota litigants, four from Union County, one from Stanley.

The lawsuit contends that the plaintiffs have seen flooding on their riverside land for five of the last seven years. This flooding, the lawsuit argues, is not natural but results from changes in Army Corps flood management policy. The plaintiffs argue that the government encouraged them to build in the flood plain with its flood control policies, then illegally took their land for the benefit of fish and wildlife.

I suggest the plaintiffs appeal to history for precedent for settlement of their claims. The federal government made a major change to its flood control policy on the Missouri River in 1944, building a string of dams to favor exactly these litigants at the expense of tribal residents and farmers along the river. The Oahe, Big Bend, Fort Randall, and Gavins Point dams flooded great stretches of productive tribal lands. The government's remedy? Forced relocation and Congressionally authorized payments well below what the tribes said their land was worth.

How does it feel to be Indian, Dan?

Related Reading: An eager reader shares this August 2010 Vermillion Plain Talk article in which a Yankton Sioux woman describes how the dams disrupted her family's livelihood. Senator Dan Lederman is not quoted in the article.

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Senator Dan Lederman says that his Senate Bill 75, to prohibit dog breed-specific local ordinances, will prevent "media hysteria" from driving "feel-good, knee-jerk reactions" against adorable pit bulls.

Medical experts disagree:

Attacks by pit bulls are associated with higher morbidity rates, higher hospital charges, and a higher risk of death than are attacks by other breeds of dogs. Strict regulation of pit bulls may substantially reduce the US mortality rates related to dog bites [J.K. Bini et al., abstract, "Mortality, Mauling, and Maiming by Vicious Dogs," Annals of Surgery, April 2011].

It is not hysteria to note that certain breeds account for higher percentage of dog-bite injuries:

The objective of this study was to characterize the nature of dog bite injuries treated over a 5-year period at a large tertiary pediatric hospital and to identify relevant parameters for public education and injury prevention.

...More than 30 different offending breeds were documented in the medical records. The most common breeds included pit bull terriers (50.9 percent), Rottweilers (8.9 percent), and mixed breeds of the two aforementioned breeds (6 percent).

Pediatric dog bites are preventable injuries, yet they persist as a prevalent public health problem. Evaluation of data from high-volume tertiary pediatric health care institutions identifies predictable patterns of injury with respect to patient age and gender, animal breed, provocation, and seasonality [A.E. Kaye et al., abstract, "Pediatric Dog Bite Injuries: A 5-Year Review of the Experience at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia," Plastic Reconstructive Surgery, August 2009].

Senator Lederman must think the U.S. Army is hysterical. Fort Benning bans pit bulls. U.S. Army Garrison Policy Memorandum 08-10 declares pit bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans, chows, and wolf hybrids "aggressive or potentially aggressive" and bans those breeds unless they are certified military working dogs boarded by their trainers or handlers.

Senator Lederman is fighting to protect pit bulls from justifiable discrimination even as he advocates a marriage discrimination bill that imperils his own family members' civil rights (just imagine a Christian baker refusing to sell a wedding cake to Lederman's kids because the baker thinks the Bible tells him not to serve Jews). Senator Lederman is also fighting to deny local control to elected officials who would act on scientific evidence to reduce injuries to children from an identifiable risk.

Senator Lederman's ignorance and pandering to a manly-man constituency seems very Republican; Senator Lederman's attack on local control does not.

Update 10:50 CST: An eager reader reminds me that Dan Lederman used to love local control. Recall Lederman's defense of last year's school gunslinger bill:

Allow schools the ability to make their own decisions on how to best keep students safe, and give them the tools to do so at their discretion. Most won’t use it, and that’s up to them. If only one District chooses to exercise local control in this manner, then it was still the right decision [Dan Lederman, "Allow Local Control for School Safety - School Sentinel Bill," blog, 2013.02.22].

I'm also reminded that in December 2012, the Aberdeen City Council rejected a pit bull ban, even though their own study of local violent animal incidents showed pit bulls are responsible for a disproportionate number of serious dog attacks.

295 comments

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