Governor Dennis Daugaard likes to view himself as the state's top cheerleader. Everything in South Dakota is awesome, the Governor will say... at least when he's trying to recruit corporations to come prey on our workers and build his donor base.

But bring up our public schools, and Governor Daugaard puts away the pom-poms and says private schools are better:

In an interview last week with 100 Eyes Daugaard said: "You can't say that you won't obtain quality without high compensation. I was just at O'Gorman (High School). The teachers at O'Gorman are paid, as a group, less than the Sioux Falls School District. Their students achieve better" [Patrick Anderson, "Daugaard's Teacher Pay Comments Spark Response from Educators," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.10.27].

Them's fightin' words for Lennox teacher and debate coach Michael Larson, who recognizes the willful ignorance and deceit in Governor Daugaard's bogus comparison of public apples and private oranges:

The ignorance that Daugaard shows is that he thinks that the population at a private school like O'Gorman is the same as the population at Sioux Falls Washington.

At the private school that I taught many years ago, there was no special education department.  We didn't have IEPs.  Students whose needs that could not be met went to the public school in the town.  These students came from mostly stable homes.  The majority of them would be considered middle class families or high income families.  The overwhelming majority of the students were Caucasian.  That could not be said for the public school in Storm Lake, Iowa.  It is ridiculous to even think that the challenges faced by teachers in that school were the same as the ones I faced in the private school [Michael Larson, "Only Daugaard Could Pull Me Back In," Taking a Left Turn in South Dakota, 2014.10.27].

The South Dakota School Superintendents' Association responds a bit more gently, pointing out that better wages for teachers, just like better wages in other fields, allow us to compete for higher-quality applicants:

We agree that the goal of education is student achievement, not expenditure. However, as research clearly shows, the role of the teacher is crucial to high student achievement, and, if we want higher student achievement, we need to expend a little more to recruit and retain more quality teachers. As with other areas of workforce development in our state, low wages have impacted the number of available workers in general, and specifically, a shortage of teachers in our schools.

We agree that compensation does attract quality. As with all workforce development, on average, higher wages tend to attract a higher quality of worker—see healthcare, corporate America, Main Street South Dakota, and education. We recognize that internal motivation, a positive workplace environment, job satisfaction, and being appreciated for the job one does, all add to an entities’ ability to attract quality employees, but we all understand that higher wages attract quality candidates [Dan Leikvold, South Dakota School Superintendents Association, open letter, 2014.10.27].

Governor Daugaard, you know full well that public schools labor under very different circumstances from private schools. They have a different mission and require more inputs to achieve that mission. And you know full well that higher wages attract a larger pool of better-qualified candidates. Picking up the pom-poms and honestly cheering our public schools for once would be nice. But picking up your pen and writing a better budget for K-12 education would bring even more cheer.


Yesterday was the deadline for South Dakota candidates to submit their pre-general campaign finance reports to the Secretary of State. Governor Dennis Daugaard and his running mate Lt. Gov. Matt Michels both have their reports in; so do Democrat Rep. Susan Wismer and Independent Mike Myers. (Myers's running mate Lora Hubbel has also reported, but her filing shows no money in or out.) Here are the totals that have flowed in an out of the gubernatorial campaigns over the last four months:

Raised Spent Cash on Hand
Dennis Daugaard (R) $702,918.35 $878,672.73 $1,460,323.18
Matt Michels (R) $70,616.26 $46,165.02 $24,951.24
Susan Wismer (D) $207,852.50 $238,716.93 $18,391.64
Mike Myers (I) $325.00 $3,688.10 $156.07

Note that Myers has contributed a few thousand out of his own pocket to his own campaign. The Raised numbers here reflect the dollar votes of confidence from others.

As one would expect, Team Daugaard is moneywise untouchable. Daugaard and Michels have $1.5 million on hand to paint every Interstate billboard with Dennis's checked shirt and Matt's manly mustache... or, more likely, to shore up fellow Republicans. Since June, Daugaard's campaign has poured over $143,000 into other GOP campaigns, including $100K to the South Dakota Republican Party, $10K for Shantel Krebs's Secretary of State campaign, and $18.5K for Republican Legislative candidates. (He also gave $250 to the Colton Volunteer Fire Department... perhaps to help put out the fire around Mike Rounds's EB-5 barn?) Michels has greased the state GOP with another $40K, plus a grand for Rounds for Senate.

The Wismer campaign, by contrast, has not been able to spread any such largesse to other Democratic candidates. Before building love with folks down-ticket, Wismer will need to pay off her dad: the $18K Wismer has on hand is less than the $25K loan Maurice Jones loaned the campaign. Dems, better turn on the spigot now to get Wismer out of debt and make that last get-out-the-vote push!

As for Myers... well, I hate to make this comparison, but financially speaking, in the last four months, this blog has outperformed the Myers campaign in numbers of dollars and donors. (Thank you, dear readers, for ringing that tip jar!) In other words, if fundraising means anything, this blog could mount a more effective statewide campaign than the Independent gubernatorial candidate.


Mr. Ehrisman wonders why we haven't seen a big Governor Dennis Daugaard endorsement ad for Mike Rounds for Senate.

Well, Senator John Thune is on the air telling folks to send him Rounds to join him for No Theater:

Be patient: I suspect a Daugaard endorsement ad is in the chute, ready to go after the Thune ad tires the viewers out.

But if the absence of a Daugaard ad for Rounds catches our attention, so should the absence of an ad from Senator Tim Johnson for Rick Weiland. John Tsitrian senses what he calls tepidity from Senator Johnson and other South Dakota elder Democratic statesmen. Tsitrian also links to this milquetoastery from Senator Johnson:

Of course I'm in favor of Rick Weiland, but they're all good candidates and I'll stay away from the politics [Sen. Tim Johnson, in Tessa Thomas, "Senator Stops in Rapid City for His 'Tour of Thanks'," KEVN-TV, 2014.10.20].

Senator Johnson, I appreciate the Lutheran equanimity, but don't give Mike Rounds a grace he doesn't deserve. Now is not the time to call Mike Rounds a "good candidate" or to stay away from politics. You can use this crucial last moment of your political career to make this the last moment of Mike Rounds's political career. You can use you last hurrah  to give South Dakota the great hurrah of a candidate as honest and hard-working as you have been.

Senator Johnson, break out the camera. Leverage your gravitas and pathos. Shoot this ad:

I'm Tim Johnson. You've trusted me to work for you for 35 years. I've worked through challenges to live up to that trust and get things done for South Dakota.

Now I ask you to trust Rick Weiland. He'll pick up right where I'm leaving off, fighting for every one of us in South Dakota.

I will miss serving you. But Barb and I can rest easy with Rick Weiland as our next Senator. Thank you, South Dakota [fantasy ad, hopefully airing October 29, 2014].

Say those words to the camera. Play some "Morning in America" music. Push Weiland over 40%.


If Larry Pressler can get mojo back, why can't Susan Wismer?

Susan Wismer has touted her gubernatorial bid as South Dakotans' chance to elect their first female governor. She doubled the female fun by naming Susy Blake as her running mate.

Yet both of the big SurveyUSA polls have shown no advantage for Wismer among the ladies. The September poll showed 55% of men and 53% of women going for Dennis Daugaard; the October poll shows Daugaard winning 58% of men and 60% of women. Ladies, why aren't you flocking to Wismer?

We can ask the same of a big chunk of Democrats. From September to October, the number of Democrats voting for Daugaard has risen from 23% to 32%. A third of my fellow travelers are voting for the Republican incumbent, the leader of the corrupt one-part regime in Pierre and part owner of the EB-5 scandal.

Fellow Democrats, fill me in. What possible reason does a Democrat have to vote for Dennis Daugaard instead of a Democratic challenger who could upset the balance of power and challenge the Legislature to create a better budget?


Dennis Daugaard had absolutely nothing to do with the flood of corruption that took place in the Governor's Office of Economic Development and Mike Rounds's EB-5 program. Absolutely nothing whatsoever.

But when it comes to real floods on the Missouri, you'd think Governor Daugaard was Moses parting the waters:

The Governor really did a hell of a job. He was always there, he was always... around. I was glad that he was able to get out on the dike and look it over and see what everybody was going through [Zay Norman, campaign video for Dennis Daugaard, 2014.09.19].

Just what job did the Governor do during the floods? This ad talks about the flooding in the Fort Pierre area in 2011. But let's go downriver and look at the Incident Action Plan Organization Assessment List for June 13, 2011:

Dakota Dunes Flood Org Asgn List 2011Incident commander Joe Lowe, deputy Gregg Smith... hmmm, I don't see Dennis Daugaard's job on there anywhere. The chart doesn't list "walking on dike and seeing what's going on" as a job.

I know, I know, "captain of the ship." But South Dakota Republicans seem awfully selective these days about the ships they claim to have captained.


Friend of the blog Lanny Stricherz offers this guest column to explain that GOP Senate candidate Mike Rounds and Governor Dennis Daugaard own a record of economic development failure and corruption much larger than the EB-5 scandal.

*   *   *

We had a chance to remove the Rounds–Daugaard team from South Dakota politics during the primary in June, but passed on that opportunity. So now we are faced with the option of doing so in November. Will we take that opportunity this time, or are we still going to give them a pass on their utter disregard for the citizens of South Dakota?

The list of failed economic development projects, which wasted our tax dollars, goes much further than the EB-5 Northern Beef Packers bankruptcy, which cost more than a 160 million dollars, as well as more than 400 jobs lost. Among the failed economic development projects in which these two Governors invested state dollars and state employee working hours, are:

  1. CAFO dairy operations, two of which went bankrupt and at least one of which employed illegal immigrants not locals for the jobs as mandated by EB-5, and the others continue to pollute our lakes and streams, and only hurt the small dairy farmers in our state.
  2. The Big Stone II coal burner power plant, which after being fought for by our governor for years, was dumped by Minnesota's PUC as damaging the air and water surrounding it.
  3. The Basin Electric coal burning power plant in Selby failed for the same reason.
  4. The Keystone Pipeline, environmentally damaging, and bleeding 38 million dollars from South Dakota taxpayers.
  5. The Keystone XL pipeline which was originally approved by the Public Utilities Commission, but whose permits from South Dakota have now expired. This was caused by the delays in approval because of awareness of its potential to damage the Ogallala aquifer, the largest aquifer in the US and which serves the southwestern quarter of our state.
  6. Anderson Seeds, which cheated South Dakota farmers out of millions of dollars when it went bankrupt.
  7. The Hyperion oil refinery and coal burning power plant which the Governor was promoting as the Gorilla Project for a couple of years.
  8. South Dakota Children's Home Society, which siphoned off millions of taxpayer dollars while Dennis Daugaard was Lieutenant Governor and still employed by SDCH, in no-bid contracts and in violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.
  9. Another no-bid contract of 5 million dollars to Manpower to recruit 1000 new employees in 3 years. It only got 83 in the first year.
  10. State funding of a jobs training program, which trains workers at area vo-techs. Many of the welders trained at Mitchell then fled the State to work in North Dakota in the oil fields at double the pay. (Jobs training used to be and in most cases is the responsibility of the employer, certainly not government.)

While All of this waste was/is happening Governor Rounds cut education funding 5%, and then after not answering questions about education funding during the 2010 campaign, Dennis Daugaard cut it by 6 1/2% in the 2011 legislative session. Now, Governor Daugaard is turning down tens if not hundreds of millions of federal dollars by not expanding medicaid to cover those who are working but make too much to be below the poverty level but not enough to get a subsidy to purchase their own health insurance, simply because he is opposed to Obamacare which his friend Mike Rounds helped establish.

Speaking to the Pennington County Republican Ambassadors Luncheon on the day after the 2010 election, Dennis Daugaard is quoted by Kevin Woster in the Rapid City Journal, "In their hearts, South Dakotans usually do what's right," he said. "And they don't need the government to tell them what's right."

Including Mike Rounds there are four choices for US Senator. Including Dennis Daugaard, there are three choices for Governor.

Let's hope that the voters do what is right on November 4th.

—Lanny Stricherz, guest column, submitted 2014.10.05


It took Mike Rounds five months to come up with answers to the questions Bob Mercer submitted to him in May concerning Joop Bollen's EB-5 visa investment scam. Amidst repeating eight times that he was not involved in the "transactional details" of a program that was crucial to his legacy-building Northern Beef Packers project, Rounds throws this grenade into his own foxhole:

[Bob Mercer]: In March 2013, Gov. Daugaard's office received a federal grand jury subpoena. Were you the target of any part of that subpoena? If so, for what purpose?

[Mike Rounds]: No. And, I believe the federal subpoena should be made public. So Attorney General Marty Jackley has repeatedly stated that I was [not] a target of the investigation. Eight separate law enforcement and investigatory agencies have reviewed various aspects of this case. Local, state and federal authorities have worked cooperatively. And yet, the U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson maintains his silence. The federal subpoena was delivered to the state in March or April of 2013, Governor Daugaard notified SD Attorney General Marty Jackley a short time later, the SD attorney general concluded his investigation in October 2013 — almost a year ago. The U.S. Attorney, Brendan Johnson, has had this file longer than anyone — despite the SD Attorney General concluding his investigation almost a year ago. The U.S. Attorney should release the federal subpoena [emphasis mine; Bob Mercer, "Rounds Answers Reporter's Questions on EB-5 Scandal," Black Hills Pioneer, 2014.10.02].

Notice that if Rounds were just answering the question, he could have stopped at "No." But Rounds then returns to this strange SDGOP obsession with a U.S. Attorney who is not on the ballot. Rounds and the GOP are like the bullies shooting spitwads at the smart kid in study hall who's just sitting quietly at his desk doing his homework, trying to goad the smart kid into doing something stupid that gets him in trouble and keeps the teacher from noticing what the smirking bullies are up to.

Round also misses one key fact. A subpoena involves at least two parties. Brendan Johnson is the subpoena-er. The state is the subpeona-ee. Governor Daugaard or Nila Novotny or somebody in the Capitol received that subpoena on our behalf last March. Now I know Mike says folks in the Governor's office are kind of bad at keeping the boss up to speed on such legal matters, but I'm sure someone in the Capitol has the subpoena says should be made public.

I agree wholeheartedly with Mike Rounds that the federal subpoena that Governor Daugaard announced last year should be made public. I think all eight of the subpoenas relating to the federal investigation of Rounds and Daugaard's EB-5 program and who knows what else should be made public. And Rounds's buddy and ticketmate Governor Daugaard could make that happen right now.

("Thanks, Mike," Governor Daugaard is muttering under his breath.)


Governor Dennis Daugaard has declared October "Archives Month" in South Dakota:

“Archival institutions have a responsibility to collect, organize, preserve and make available records that document the history of the state of South Dakota and the plains region for the education and appreciation of present and future generations,” Gov. Daugaard noted in the proclamation.

“October is a chance for South Dakotans to recognize the importance of archives and historical records,” noted Chelle Somsen, state archivist for the South Dakota State Historical Society at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. “There are county, municipal, university and private archives as well as the State Archives and each of these organizations contain historical records that document the rich history of our state” [State of South Dakota, press release, 2014.10.01].

However, the state will delete all record of Archives Month 30 days after its conclusion.


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