Gordon Howie says House Bill 1030, which would require passing motorists to give cyclists three to six feet of space, is a stupid idea. To boost his point, Howie misrepresents the text of the bill:

The South Dakota Department of Transportation wants to force drivers into the lane of oncoming traffic, to accommodate bicycle riders. The SD House transportation committee unanimously agrees [Gordon Howie, "Move Over Stupid," The Right Side, 2015.02.12].

Read the bill, Gordon:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction may partially cross the highway centerline or the dividing line between two lanes of travel in the same direction if it can be performed safely [House Bill 1030, as amended and approved by House Transportation, 2015.02.10].

HB 1030 says may, not shall. It allows drivers to cross the center line if said crossing "can be performed safely"—i.e., if there is no oncoming traffic. HB 1030 does not force anyone to play chicken.

Howie hollers thus to take the anti-liberty position that South Dakota should ban bicycles from some of its finest scenic roads for cycling:

Ask drivers on South Dakota’s Lower Spring Creek Road. They will tell you that sightseeing bicyclists already create an extreme hazard. They will also tell you this proposed law would make matters exponentially worse.

A BETTER SOLUTION would be to prohibit bicycle traffic on roads that do not meet specifications that allow safe travel for BOTH motor vehicles and bicycles [Howie, 2015.02.12].

Gordon, you're not allowing safe travel for bicyclists if you aren't allowing bicyclists to travel.

The solution is not to ban people from getting around under their own power and enjoying their freedom from car payments and petro-tyranny. The solution is to accommodate alternative transportation with sensible rules of the road like HB 1030 and infrastructure accommodations like bike paths and big shoulders.

Gordon Howie the conservative wants to limit your freedom to travel. I the liberal want to expand your liberty and let all travelers enjoy the safe mode of travel of their choice.

p.s.: Wisconsin estimated that the bicycle industry—manufacturing, retail, etc.—contributed $556 million and over 2,000 direct ongoing jobs to its economy. Bicycle tourism may contribute over $900 million to Wisconsin's economy, plus another $400 million in health benefits.

56 comments

The Pennington County Republicans send me their list of committee chairs for the 2015–2016 term:

  • Membership: Burton Sly
  • Events: David Fisk
  • Media: David Johnson
  • Bylaws and Ethics: David Johnson
  • Technical Director: Doug Dlugosz
  • Fundraising: Perry and Gretchen Strombeck
  • Hill City Coordinator: SD Rep. Mike Verchio
  • E. Pennington County Coordinator: Ted Hustead
  • Office Coordinator: Shannon Royer
  • Outreach: Ken Davis, JP Duniphan, Craig Ericks, Jessica Holt, MaryVee Knauer, and Tom Udager

Curious: are any of those committee chairs leading lights in the hard-core Napoli-Howie arch-conservative wing of the party? Or does the make-up of the Pennington County GOP reflect the failure of Howie-ites to form any viable political movement?

103 comments

I'm not sure what sector of the electorate Gordon Howie thinks he's targeting by investing so much of his blog energy in blowing smoke for Annette Bosworth. Continually stumping for an admitted lawbreaker and fake conservative who showed no ability to build a viable campaign in South Dakota serves neither Howie's objective of building an effective opposition voting bloc nor the higher aims of justice. Neither will defending Bosworth with errors of fact and law.

In his latest excuse for Bosworth's petition circulation felonies, the re-energized conservative blogger Howie repeats the charge that the Attorney General's prosecution of Bosworth is unfair given all the other alleged violations of petition rules that go unpunished or lightly punished:

Many petitions circulators have violated this “oath” by not “personally witnessing” every signature. In South Dakota, just a few years ago, six Republicans were found guilty in a case that involved as many as 1,400 signatures. Their penalty… a $200.00 fine. Now, for an alleged violation involving 37 signatures, Annette Bosworth is facing 24 years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines and the loss of her license to practice medicine. Seem fair to you?? [Gordon Howie, "Is Your Legislator Guilty?" The Right Side, 2015.01.22]

Howie refers to a ballot probe in 2004 that found six Republican get-out-the-vote operatives, including future state legislator Todd Schlekeway, notarized absentee voter applications without personally witnessing the applicants' signatures. Note that Schlekeway et al. were not circulating petitions; they were soliciting absentee voting applications, thus invoking charges under different law. As I explained in July, Schlekeway's violation of his notary seal was a misdemeanor. He pled guilty and received a misdemeanor penalty.

In the Schlekeway case as in the Bosworth case, the Attorneys General (Long then, Jackley now) have acted to uphold the letter and spirit of the law while protecting voters from disenfranchisement. If Howie wants to invoke the Schlekeway precedent, then the fair outcome would be that Bosworth would plead guilty to her felony and receive her felony penalty.

Trying to fabricate a defense for Bosworth out of thin air and grade-school excuses, Howie accuses a majority of South Dakota legislators of committing the same crime and challenges them to deny it:

Actually, the practice of “not personally witnessing” petition signatures is widespread, but rarely challenged. Certainly not to the level of felony charges.

Here is the question for every Legislator in South Dakota, both past and present:

Will you swear that you personally witnessed every single signature on every petition you have circulated?

There are, no doubt, some who can respond in the positive. They will be in the minority.

Howie made this same baseless and cowardly charge for the same Boz-crush purpose at the beginning of the month. His charge is logically, legally, and factually wrong because...

  1. Howie cannot name a single guilty party.
  2. Howie produces no example of a petition with evidence of a false circulator's oath.
  3. Howie confuses a rhetorical question for logical proof.
  4. Howie shifts the burden of proof from prosecutors (who can slam-dunk meet that burden against Bosworth in court) to the unnamed defendants under his blanket accusation.
  5. Howie forgets that every legislator who circulated a nominating petition has already answered Howie's rhetorical challenge by signing the circulator's oath.

Howie's last resort may be the appeal for mercy. Note his inclusion in the list of consequences for Bosworth the fact that a felony conviction could cause her to lose her medical license.

Commit one felony, get kicked out of your profession? Welcome to my world. State law says South Dakota teachers can lose their teaching licenses for committing any crime involving moral turpitude or drugs. The Professional Teachers Code of Ethics puts my teaching license at risk if I engage in any act the results in a conviction. I suspect other licensed professions have similar rules. Professional status carries special burdens.

If Howie wants to propose revoking all professional licensure requirements in South Dakota and declare that criminal records should bear no weight on allowing people to teach or practice medicine, I invite him to lay out that case. If Howie can produce evidence of petition fraud by other candidates, I invite him to lay out the evidence. So far in his fresh Boz-crush, he has done neither... and even if he does, such arguments and evidence will have no bearing in front of Bosworth's judge next month.

124 comments

Gordon Howie says the face of tyranny is right here in South Dakota, with one-party rule corrupting the South Dakota Republican Party and state government. Yet like Cardinal Raymond Burke blaming feminists for pedophile priests, Howie blames Democrats for Republican tyranny:

In South Dakota, the Republican Party has simply moved to the left, thanks to the efforts of political power brokers with lots of money and liberal perspectives. Infiltration of the Republican Party might have been the Democrats response to one party rule by the Republicans. They did, indeed gain some ground with regard to policy, but at what ultimate cost? Democrats are now so weak statewide that they have trouble finding credible candidates for most political races, thereby simply giving the offices to Republicans [Gordon Howie, "The Face of Tyranny," The Right Side, 2015.01.11].

Democrats infiltrated the SDGOP. Right.

Howie hopes for a revitalized Democratic Party (yes!) and says the key lies in re-recruiting Republicans:

If there is any hope for accountability to return to this state, it may be in a revitalized Democrat Party. That will only happen if they can entice their own to shed the costumes, leave the Republican Party and come home. That would leave conservatives to manage the Republican Party and once again, give South Dakota voters a real choice [Howie, 2015.01.11].

I agree with Howie that part of the recipe for Democratic rebuilding is finding candidates and issues who can win votes from some moderate Republicans. But I cannot adopt the Howie narrative that the SDGOP is filled with leftists. Howie and his Republican purists need to stop labeling folks like Mike Rounds as leftists and call them what they are: opportunists. Folks like Larry Rhoden don't switch their registration from Democrat to Republican as some plot to infiltrate the SDGOP and promote leftist ideology. They switch parties to get their names on ballots, win elections, and gain power. By Howie's own thinking, those opportunists have weakened the Republican Party; why would Democrats fare any better by drawing such self-serving opportunists "back"?

Instead of trying to get Democrats to lure other people our of the SDGOP, Howie challenge tyranny by a more direct route: forming his own True Conservative Party. His pal Gary Coe already has a PAC with that name; it shouldn't be hard to turn that mechanism into a party. Get the 8,474 people who voted for Howie for Senate in 2014 to petition a True Conservative Party into existence. (Forming a new party will require 6,936 signatures.) Line up True Conservative Party candidates for at least ten Legislative districts (including every Black Hills district, an easy task for a party centered around Howie's new world headquarters east of Rapid City). Abandon the SDGOP to its soulless, self-serving opportunists, cooperate with Democrats to fire on the depleted SDGOP from both sides, and upset the balance of power.

Even conservatives recognize that South Dakota needs a real liberal party to bring balance to Pierre and check the tyranny of Republican opportunists. But the solution is not for Democrats to catch the disease Howie says debilitates the Republicans.

30 comments

Right-wing politician and blogger Gordon Howie is up to something. He's opening a new base of operations in the hinterlands east of Rapid City, overlooking the Rapid Creek floodplain. Howie has built a new studio so he and Ed Randazzo and Sam Kephart and Tonchi Weaver and can start making crazy videos again. He's built a meeting facility for conservative groups—a convenient sixteen-mile drive from the heart of Rapid City and all that liberal urban corruption, and close to the airport so he can monitor the comings and goings of Cristo ni Iglesia members headed for Scenic.

And next Saturday, Howie's holding an open house at his new International Headquarters:

While the “International Headquarters” title is somewhat tongue in cheek, the impact of activities from this unique facility will no doubt have far-reaching impact.

You are invited to the open house…

  • Where: 15372 Antelope Creek Road, Rapid City SD. 57703
    3.8 miles east of the RC Regional Airport turnoff on Hwy 44 to Antelope Creek Rd, turn south… 2.3 miles to the driveway (on the right)
  • When: Saturday, Jan 17th 10:00 am to 3:00 pm

There won’t be any formal ceremony. It’s just a day for you to drop in for a cup of coffee and see our new facility.

You might even learn something about Gordon’s new “secret mission” [Gordon Howie, "World Wide Grand Opening," The Right Side, 2015.01.10].

Bob Ellis of the American Clarion says he'll be there; this open house will be a chance for progressive operatives to infiltrate the compound and surveil the machinations of two arch-conservative Black Hills bloggers! Liberals, bring cameras and back-up, and go visit Gordon next Saturday!

15 comments

Gordon Howie wakes this morning to draft a pardon letter for Annette Bosworth. To excuse the fake Senate candidate and multi-million-dollar fundraiser of 24 counts of felony perjury, Howie does not offer Bosworth any alibi. Instead, he accuses "many"—excuse me, "MANY"—South Dakota politicians of committing the same felony:

Let me tell you that these “serious and deliberate” ”crimes” are COMMONPLACE in South Dakota politics. During the frenzy of political seasons, MANY (and I do mean MANY) South Dakota politicians circulate petitions and sign as circulators when they are not “in the room”. At Lincoln Day dinners across the state, Republicans routinely send their petitions around the room. They do not personally witness each signature, but sign the “oath” that they did. I would venture to say that even our Attorney General may be guilty of this practice. PLEASE, Marty, say it isn’t so… not even ONE? [Gordon Howie, "That Evil Annette Bosworth," The Right Side, 2015.01.05]

Well, at least Gordon got the headline right.

Annette Bosworth broke South Dakota law in order to access the ballot and support her lucrative and exploitative fundraising scheme. The evidence is plain, undisputed, and in fact confirmed by Bosworth herself. Gordon Howie is making a claim without naming names or providing evidence. If Howie wants to expose perjury committed by other candidates, I invite him to do so. And if he can produce evidence of other violations of petition law, I will happily join him in calling for the arrest and prosecution of every one of those felonious candidates.

But not one word he says this morning changes the facts and justification for convicting and punishing Annette Bosworth for her cynical, narcissistic, and, most importantly, documented disregard for the law.

Laxity and corruption in the enforcement of election law does not excuse ongoing laxity and corruption.

109 comments

With less than 24 hours until the polls open, Rick Weiland's race for Senate comes right back to where it started. With the two largest papers in South Dakota saying Mike Rounds doesn't deserve a Senate seat, with Larry Pressler hanging tough and even Gordon Howie surging (yes, laugh, but now every point counts), Democrats find themselves right where I said they ten months ago when Larry Pressler entered the race: unite and win!

But Job #1 in this three-way for Weiland is party unity. Assuming Pressler can run a credible campaign, Weiland watches with glee as Pressler and the GOP nominee divide both the GOP and the Indy vote. Weiland reminds every Democrat that Republicans have nothing to offer them. Democrats currently make up 35% of the electorate. Get them all to come vote Dem, add those GOP defectors mentioned above, draw some Indies, Weiland cracks 40%, and Weiland-Rounds/Nelson-Pressler becomes Clinton-Bush-Perot [Cory Allen Heidelberger, "Pressler Enters Race; Can Weiland Unify Dems for Victory?" Madville Times, 2013.12.27].

Let's update that thinking with Rick's performance, Mike's EB-5 stumbles, and voter numbers in this wild four-man race:

  1. A chunk of Democrats (26%, according to the last SurveyUSA poll) are still saying they'll vote for Pressler.
  2. Rick Weiland has given Democrats lots of reasons to vote for him and no reason to vote against him. He hasn't riled the base the way Herseth Sandlin did with a string of votes against the President (culminating in her vote against the Affordable Care Act). He hasn't said anything dumb about gay marriage the way Matt Varilek did in 2012. Rick has run a nearly perfect campaign, based on progressive policies, populism, show leather, and good music.
  3. The only good reason Dems might still be voting for Pressler is that they latched onto Pressler last December when the former Senator announced his Independent bid. A combination of surprise, nostalgia, and nervousness that Weiland hadn't proved himself as a candidate yet maybe induced some Dems to think Pressler had a better chance of upsetting Mike Rounds. (Yes, we Dems do get some crazy ideas.)
  4. If those Pressler Dems will groundhog up, they'll realize things have changed. Rick has proven himself.
  5. Weiland can win; Pressler cannot. Only one poll showed Pressler closer to Rounds than Weiland. That poll is a month old; every poll since has refuted it and restored the expected order, showing Weiland (most recently) 11 points from Rounds compared to Pressler's 24.
  6. Weiland has a natural base on top of which undecideds and re-decideds can pile their power. Pressler does not.
  7. Come home, Democrats, and you can lift Weiland all on your own. If 26% of Dems are still backing Pressler, and if Secretary Gant's 60% turnout holds, fast math on voter registration totals shows that if we can get a majority of those Dems to come to their senses, we put over 5 percentage points back in Rick's column. (Make some calls, give a Dem friend a ride, and we can push that number higher.)
  8. Meanwhile, Mike Rounds has given his base plenty of reason not to vote for him. To mark Rounds on their ballot, GOP voters have to hold their noses, convince themselves nothing bad happened in EB-5. There was no corruption. Mike never lied. Joop Bollen and Richard Benda never scammed the taxpayers. There are Republicans who will find the mental effort to check their conscience and let Mike have a Senate seat just too much to take.
  9. Let the Rapid City Journal's anti-Rounds argument sink in, and another 5 percentage points fall out of Rounds's column.
  10. More than five, another more than five... holy cow! Where'd Mike's 11 go?

Just count, Democrats. There are 176,000 of you. If you will all get up and mark the one Democrat on your ballot (a good Democrat, an awesome Democrat, a Democrat who has in every way earned your vote) while Republicans and Independents split, you can send Rick Weiland to the Senate. You can keep Tim Johnson's seat and maybe the whole darn Senate in the best, sanest hands. Seize your moment. Dems!

Or boil it down this way: Pressler can't win. Weiland can. A vote for Pressler is a vote for Rounds. A vote for Weiland is a vote to win.

Bob Mercer says Weiland-backer concerns about leakage to Pressler make it sound like Team Weiland is "more worried about finishing third rather than second." Ha! We Dems are still playing for first... and we can make it happen on our own with good old-fashioned party unity.

111 comments

Last night's KELO Senate debate was an example of substandard political journalism by South Dakota's broadcast media. Moderators Ben Dunsmoor and Don Jorgensen failed to live up to their own promised format, to manage the debate fairly, or to ask any probing follow-up questions of the candidates.

Jorgensen and Dunsmoor opened the show by promising something different from the usual debate format. They promised a free-flowing conversation, with time limits only on the opening and closing statements. They said they would intervene if candidates got off track. They said they would jump in to move the conversation along and ask follow-up questions.

No such forum happened. We got the usual debate format: question, responses and rebuttals in pre-determined order. The conversation never flowed freely. On one occasion when Howie tried to challenge Rounds out after the usual rebuttal cycle, Dunsmoor cut him off and moved mechanically to the next question on his list. There were no follow-up questions.

Jorgensen engaged in no watchdoggery of "off-track" answers. Amidst a sea of evasion from Rounds, Dunsmoor remained silent and reserved his interruptions for Howie. Consider the EB-5 question. Rounds mentioned EB-5 specifically for maybe the first ten seconds of his response, then went off on a complete tangent about needing to review every federal program. He reverted to his standard rants about ObamaCare and Keystone XL, programs that have nothing to do with the merits of EB-5. Dunsmoor, who has been KELO's EB-5 hawk, made not one peep and let the Governor ramble unleashed away from the question.

But on the next question about Keystone XL, Dunsmoor jumped all over Howie. Our friend Gordon gave a concise answer: he believes the pipeline will be a net gain for the state. He then tried to invoke the "free-flowing" spirit of the conversation with a smart segue: he said we're having trouble passing Keystone XL because we have trouble believing our leaders on the pipeline details. Howie then tried to turn back to Rounds's dismissal of his EB-5 attacks as mere falsehoods. I believe Howie tried to invoke the stunning revelation that Rounds's campaign manager, Rob Skjonsberg, used his government position to send government to a corporation in his investment portfolio. Dunsmoor interrupted Howie and said the question was about Keystone XL.

That moment demonstrated a clear bias on the part of the moderators. Dunsmoor didn't dare interrupt the frontrunner Republican on a clear evasion, but he stopped the Independent Howie from trying to follow the stated format of the program.

In a violation of common debate protocol, KELO gave the candidates a heads-up on the hardest question of the night. As they headed into the first commercial break, Dunsmoor said they'd be asking about EB-5 next. Dunsmoor at least was fair in giving all four candidates a minute or so of prep time for the question, but the point of a debate is to see the candidates thinking on their feet, not giving them time to rehearse their talking points off-camera. Dunsmoor ignored that debate protocol and instead played standard "stay tuned!" showmanship.

Dunsmoor and Jorgensen also chose and framed their questions poorly. The EB-5 question—whether candidates would support the federal-level review called for by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley—avoided prbing for answers to questions about South Dakota's EB-5 program. KELO biased the Keystone XL question by phrasing it in terms of a poll showing 60% of South Dakotans say they support the pipeline. In the biggest journalistic error, Dunsmoor floated a question on restrictions on assault weapons and large magazine. Guns have not floated to the surface as a pressing issue in this Senate campaign. Compared to EB-5, Keystone XL, the Affordable Care Act, or the Farm Bill, gun issues have little impact on South Dakota's daily well-being or our ability to distinguish the candidates' trustworthiness. Yet Dunsmoor wasted precious minutes on this question, crowding out time for more relevant discussion. When Dunsmoor squeezed in that last question about the ACA, he cut candidates off at 30 seconds and allowed no rebuttals.

This forum was better than nothing. We should appreciate KELO for giving up this smidgeon of prime-time ad revenue (although programming against Game 7 of the World Series, how much did KELO really lose?). And Don Jorgensen is cute to look at. But KELO failed to deliver the unique format, journalistic inquiry, and fairness that they promised with this forum.

33 comments

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