Governor Dennis Daugaard's State of the State Address can be boiled down to this family anecdote, delivered at the end of his lengthy opening discussion of his first policy priority, fixing South Dakota's roads:

You know, just last week Linda and I welcomed the birth of our fourth grandchild, Greta.

It reminded me of when our first grandchild, Henry was born. Some of you have heard this before. I asked Henry's dad how they planned to distinguish between me and Henry's other grandfather. I thought maybe "grandpa" and "papa." He said, "Well, we are going to call the other grandfather, 'Grandpa Fat.'" "Oh," I said. "What will you call me – 'Grandpa Thin'?" "No," he replied. "We are going to call you 'Grandpa Cheap'" [link added; Governor Dennis Daugaard, State of the State Address, as transcribed by that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.01.13].

[Insert the only editorial comment from legislators during the State of the State Address: hearty laughter.]

I suppose that's about right, but I would really prefer, "Grandpa Frugal." You know me. No one wants to raise taxes less than I do. But as I've said before, there is a difference between being "frugal" and being "cheap." A cheap person refuses to spend money even when it would be wise to do so. A frugal person is careful with money, but understands that sometimes spending in the short term can pay bigger dividends in the long term.

That is today's situation. Maintaining our roads and bridges is one of the most basic functions of government and it is vital – for this year and for decades to come. I don't want to leave this problem to future governors, future legislators, and future generations [Daugaard, 2015.01.13].

A cheap person refuses to spend money even when it would be wise to do so. Raising teacher pay to competitive rates would be wise. Expanding Medicaid would be wise. Promoting renewable energy and efficiency would be wise. But Governor Daugaard refuses to spend money on those policies.

South Dakota, brace yourself for four more years of Grandpa Cheap.

P.S.: Credit where credit is due: the originator of this phrase is the Governor's chief of staff and son-in-law Tony Venhuizen.

16 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!

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Jason Gant is sleeping in today... which may not be different from most of the last four years when he had to drive to Pierre to be Secretary of State. Working the impression out of his office chair is Shantel Krebs, South Dakota's new chief of elections, keeper of seals, and only female besides Public Utilities Commissioner Kristie Fiegen* in a statewide elected office in the Capitol.

Job 1: fix the branding! Team Krebs is already hard at work scrubbing her predecessor's name and replacing it with hers:

Top of SDSOS.gov, 2015.01.02, 08:30 CST

Top of SDSOS.gov, 2015.01.02, 08:30 CST

Hmm, better work on that style sheet a bit. That thin white font floating inconspicuously in the corner seems entirely unlike the dynamic Secretary Krebs we all expect to make a deep impression on the office.

Team Krebs has launched the new @SOSKrebs Twitter account:

Screen cap from midpage, SDSOS.gov, 08:44 CST

Screen cap from midpage, SDSOS.gov, 08:44 CST

New PIO Jason Williams must not be in the office yet. Hop to it, Jason!

Secretary Krebs does have her smiling face up on the SOS homepage, with an image so big I have to switch to full-screen view to take it all in:

Screen cap from bottom of homepage, SDSOS.gov, 08:46 CST

Screen cap from bottom of homepage, SDSOS.gov, 08:46 CST

That image file is 361 KB, and it's on the template for every page. Holy cow, Team Krebs! Free up some bandwidth! Move that image to the top and shrink:

Modified SDSOS.gov banner

Modified SDSOS.gov banner

And if you can get Secretary Krebs to jump 3-D over my browser tab, that would be really cool. Carry on, SOS Web team! (And remember: don't call Pat for Web advice!)

Update 09:03 CST: We can spend the day watching the SOS website evolve before our eyes. Team Krebs has already changed some of the subsections to reflect my suggested change, shrinking that splendiferous image file and copying it to the banner:

SDSOS.gov banner, screen cap, 2014.01.02.09:03 CST

SDSOS.gov banner, screen cap, 2014.01.02.09:03 CST

I think that's now three distinct fonts in the banner—Bill Fleming may have issues. And as expected, Krebs's name didn't stay that small ghostly floater in the corner; it's now all caps, in gold, and a couple pixels larger than the name of the office. That's the SHANTEL KREBS we expect to own the room!

Correction 10:09 CST: In my original post, I forgot PUC Fiegen! Shameful! With Keystone XL bubbling, it is inexcusable that I forget one of the three state officials who can save us from the great black snake from the north. Commissioner Fiegen, I apologize for my oversight.

41 comments

Some of my faithful readers think we liberals are backwards anyway, so let's start the Madville Times year in review series with the traditional year in preview. Every year, I prepare a wishlist of the stories I'd love to blog in the coming year. So here are my Top Ten South Dakota Blog Stories for 2015:

1. Wessington Springs, SD, October 16, 2015: Independent candidate for U.S. Senate Kurt Evans reported over $212,000 in campaign funds raised during the third quarter. The former Libertarian attributes his fundraising success so far to starting early, engaging voters online, and seeking common ground with Democrats, Independents, and disaffected Republicans. Evans spoke at a press conference in Wessington Springs with former Senator Larry Pressler, who announced the inclusion of Evans in a growing crop of candidates whom the Centrist Project will support in the 2016 election. "Like me, Evans has conservative principles," said Pressler, "but he has shown the commitment to practical solutions that the Centrist Project says America wants."

2. Pierre, SD, November 30, 2015: Secretary of State Shantel Krebs today certified petitions for eight initiated measures. The 2016 statewide ballot will include measures to cap interest rates, expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, implement a corporate income tax, increase teacher pay, and place the Governor's Future Fund under the direct control of a new non-partisan board. "As Secretary of State, I am always happy to see citizens actively participating in government," said an exhausted Krebs, whose office put hundreds of overtime hours subjecting the petitions to an unprecedented level of scrutiny. An outraged Governor Dennis Daugaard vowed to back legislation to quintuple the signature requirements for ballot measures and to require all initiative organizers to pay for fiscal analyses of their proposals prior to circulation of petitions.

3. Pierre, SD, March 5, 2015: Education groups reacted with cautious optimism to passage today of HB 1235, which repeals the all state-mandated standards and testing in South Dakota's public K-12 schools. "It's time for us in Pierre to get out of our schools' way and trust our professional teachers to do what they do best," said HB 1235 Senate sponsor Betty Olson (R-29/Prairie City). "This bill will liberate local districts to innovate and educate," said ASBSD exec Wade Pogany. "Now if we can just keep anyone from getting hurt in the big Common Core binder bonfires."

4. Sioux Falls, SD, December 31, 2015: Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and Brendan Johnson put to rest months of speculation and announced that they will campaign for the Democratic nominations in 2016. Herseth Sandlin will run for Senate; Johnson will run for House. "I'm ready to bring common sense and practical problem-solving back to Washington," said Herseth Sandlin told Todd Epp in a joint appearance with Johnson on KSOO's Viewpoint University. "We couldn't wait any longer," said Johnson. "We heard that if we didn't get in the race, Kevin Weiland and Cory Heidelberger were going to run, and that would have been a liberal train wreck!"

5. Washington, DC, September 30, 2015: Senator Rick Knobe announced he is caucusing with Democrats. "The Republicans here can't get their act together," said Knobe. "It was the Democrats and Independents who offered a practical spending bill and built the coalition to keep the government working. If being Republican means making government fail, I can't be a Republican." Knobe is the fourth Republican this year to defect, bringing the Senate to a 50-50 balance. Knobe was appointed to the Senate on July 24 by South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard following the indictment and resignation of Mike Rounds.

6. Rapid City, SD, July 2, 2015: Gasoline prices are swinging upward this holiday weekend. Prices at the pump are topping $2.40 a gallon after six months at or below $2.25 around the Black Hills. "We thought the cancellation of Keystone XL and the slowdown in Bakken production would cause prices to rebound," said AAA spokeswoman Marilyn Buskohl, "but demand keeps going down as Americans drive more efficient vehicles."

7. Scotland, SD, December 12, 2015: The South Dakota Democratic Party has reported a 15% increase in registered voters over the past year. SDDP voter registration czar Frank Kloucek says the party has registered over 30,000 new Democratic voters since January 1. "The party needed some hustle in this area," said SDDP vice-chair Joe Lowe, "and Frank's record of success in retail politics made him the right man to lead this effort." Democratic registration cracked 200,000 last month for the first time since 2009.

8. Mitchell, SD, July 8, 2015South Dakota Progress met in Mitchell today for a mid-year progress assessment. SDP chair Katrina Wilke said the group's first foray into local candidate recruitment was a success. "As a trial run, we recruited four candidates for local school board elections and two for city elections this spring," said Wilke. "Five of those candidates faced opponents; all five won!" SDP members agreed to expand operations. Their meeting was disrupted briefly when police had to remove two local citizens, one who kept shouting, "Free Annette!" and another who chanted "New Age Theocracy!"

9. Rapid City, SD, April 24, 2015: Nancy and Jennie Rosenbrahn will celebrate their first wedding anniversary as a legally wedded couple in South Dakota. Last month, Judge Karen Schreier ruled in favor of the Rosenbrahns and five other South Dakota couples who sued to overturn South Dakota's ban on same-sex marriage. Thursday, Attorney General Marty Jackley announced the state will not appeal the decision. "We have bigger fish to fry," said Jackley, who was on his way to pre-trial hearings in his office's prosecution of EB-5 kingpin Joop Bollen.

10. Grand Junction, CO, April 2, 2015: Colorado State Police tracked down and arrested fugitives Annette Bosworth and Chad Haber in an RV parked near a creek south of Grand Junction yesterday. Bosworth and Haber moved to Colorado in January to set up a clinic in Boulder to sell marijuana. The couple disappeared in February after Bosworth failed to appear in a South Dakota courtroom to face perjury charges related to her unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate in 2014. Bosworth and Haber face charges of failing to pay workers and state taxes at their Boulder clinic, as well as FEC and IRS investigations for misuse of campaign and non-profit funds.

Feel free to add to the wishlist, readers! If these stories do break, you'll hear about them in great detail here on the Madville Times. Happy new year!

26 comments

Pat Powers presents the perfect Christmas card from South Dakota's next Senator, M. Michael Rounds:

Mike Rounds Christmas card, December 2014, posted by Dakota War College.

Mike Rounds Christmas card, December 2014, posted by Dakota War College.

A shady snow job: Mike Rounds and the South Dakota Republican Party to a T.

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O, that we might fly back to 1960s South Dakota, when gentle chirpy music played behind our pheasant hunts and stag parties at the Plains Motel.

South Dakota Tourism tweets this splendid promotional video, Pheasantland USA, produced in the 1960s by South Dakota Game Fish & Parks, the University of South Dakota, and the Conservation Department of Winchester-Western.

At 1:10, a couple of guys hop out their airplane, ready to hunt in their coonskin caps. The narrator says they've flown a thousand miles just to shoot a "wild chicken."

At 3:45, our state scriptsmiths craft the compelling narrative of young Tim, "taking his place in the company of MEN." Wise old Els hands Tim a booklet on hunting and tells him to pay close attention to the section on gun safety to get ready for tomorrow.

Tomorrow is a long time away when you're fifteen and waiting to go on your first pheasant hunt. This isn't just another rabbit hunt. This is a real bird hunt, a man's game played by men's rules. What's going to happen? Will we see pheasants? Will I get a chance to shoot? And will I be able to hit one of those roosters? If I can get a bird or two, what will Dad say? Well, Tim, we'll see. you never know what's going to happen out pheasant hunting [SDGF&P, Pheasantland USA, promotional video, circa 1960s].

The finest French cinematography comes at 6:10, the morning of the big hunt, as the camera opens from the night and lingers on a single frying egg, clearly a symbol of Tim's youthful existential isolation, as well as a subtle homage to the sustaining feminine id.

At 7:45, the film offers a conservation lesson that Governor Daugaard needed eight meetings and workgroup to figure out: pheasants need cover. The film attests to the farmer's conservation mission and the need to keep grassland for nesting cover and shelterbelts for winter habitat. "You don't get something for nothing," says the narrator, "and you can't raise game without cover" [9:20]. A bit later, the film turns a fine phrase, saying that if we "protect[] a few places from the cow, the plow, and the match" [12:22] we'll have pheasant hunting in the fall.

From there on, the film is mostly hunting wisdom and joy. After the "first action of the day" at 11:40, MEN sit on the ground by the tailgate of their International pickup truck and make white-bread sandwiches of ring bologna and longhorn cheese sliced by their own knives in the field. Never do men live as well as at this moment.

Around 16:00, the men deploy in a cornfield, with the dog crew driving the birds through the golden rows toward the stealthy blockers out by the fence. "It doesn't make much difference if the birds know that the drivers are there, but the presence of blockers should be a military secret."

And at 17:23, we get the sign Lee Schoenbeck has on his new desk in Pierre: "Those two retrievers can be the equal of several men."

This film is mirthfully dated, yet entirely up to date. This fifty-year-old film is exactly the reel playing in every South Dakotan's mind as we head out to the field to blast our state bird.

Related Viewing: Compare that 1960s entry with this amped-up, slo-mo rock-themed 30-second spot on South Dakota pheasant hunting:

As thanks to the country that sent us the wily pheasant, here's an official South Dakota Tourism video promoting our fair state... with Chinese subtitles.

21 comments

Maybe Dennis Daugaard is right: getting a liberal arts degree dooms graduates to crappy jobs... in the Daugaard Administration.

A friend of the blog sifted through public records for information about the educational background of various officials in South Dakota state government. The analysis found a dangerously high number of suspicious characters who studied liberal artsy fields instead of good, solid, breadwinning technical subjects like welding. Among these nefarious scholars of the humanities:

First Name Last Name Title Initial Degree Major
Dennis Daugaard Governor Government
Tony Venhuizen Chief of Staff History
Political Science
Kim Malsam-Rysdon Senior Advisor Political Science
Nathan Sanderson Director of Policy & Operations Agriculture Education
Jim Seward General Counsel Political Science
Jim Soyer Legislative Director English Education
Laura Ringling Policy Analyst English
Kelsey Pritchard Assistant Director of Communications Politics
Grace Kessler Director of Constituent Services Politics
Jim Hagen Tourism Political Science
Melody Schopp Education Elementary Education
Doneen Hollingsworth Health Political Science

An English major analyzing policy! Education majors advising (who'd'a thunk that?)! Political scientists, veritable Aristotles, running Health and Tourism! Is that all the opportunity their liberal arts studies could get these poor souls?

Let that be a lesson to all your Girls Staters as you consider your careers in welding.

23 comments

Hey, that's my neighbor Charlie Johnson on the YouTube!

Actually, it's an ad from the Organic Farmers' Agency for Relationship Marketing. But it's also a great nutshell explanation of the Organic farming philosophy Charlie inherited from his dad Bernard: "What goes on this land has to go on our tongue first." (I invite you to take up with Charlie what that means about his use of manure as fertilizer.)

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