Showing posts with label Kristi Noem. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kristi Noem. Show all posts

16 May 2024

From the Annals of Unforced Errors: RFK Jr and Kristi Noem

But this is not an unforced error.  RFK Jr. didn't go out and actively seek a brain worm, and he hasn't been bragging about it:  his undisclosed health issues, from the brain worm to the mercury poisoning (10 times the recommended limit in his blood),  - all of these were in a legal deposition and had been available for quite a while to the earnest researcher.  

Why in a legal deposition? Because he was getting a divorce from his second wife, and wanted to show that memory loss and cognitive decline meant his earnings were going to go down, meaning he shouldn't have to pay as much alimony.  

What may turn out to be an unforced error is the article he did for Inside Edition, in which he talked about his daily "fistful of supplements" and testosterone replacement therapy - but don't call them steroids around RFK Jr., because steroids are bad (LINK) - while providing hunky pictures of himself doing pushups and going as shirtless as Putin (all that was missing is the crocodile).  

Why would this be an unforced error?  Because men who take testosterone replacement, a/k/a anabolic steroids, often get "mood swings, runaway irritability, and a general inability to listen to anyone else, but they also tend to find their mental functioning—especially their memories—going through a certain Swiss-cheese transformation. The holes in what they recall keep getting bigger."  (LINK)  Testosterone supplements can also cause heart trouble, heart attacks, and strokes, but details, details... 

Okay I can't resist:  The irony of a man who is 1000% anti-vaccination putting anabolic steroids as well as "a fistful of supplements" in his body on a daily basis...  

But the worst unforced error is the diary that RFK Jr. kept in the early 2000s, with a file called Cash Accounts, "where he recorded the date of the infidelity, the name of the woman involved, and a code of numbers, ranging from 1 to 10, representing the performance of certain sex acts."  And there were a lot of them.  His second wife read them during the divorce proceedings, and it sent her into a literally suicidal depression, but not before she shared them with others. You can read some of the grotty details here:  (LINK)

Look, even Samuel Pepys knew enough to use code to record his philandering.  Granted, it would be better to never have an affair, but today that seems to be impossible for politicians and entertainers.  

 Of course, the Queen of Unforced Errors has been Governor Kristi Noem who has kept the fire hose going at full force:

  • Killing the puppy in the gravel pit. 
  • Killing the male goat in the same gravel pit because it was smelly.
  • Claiming to meet Kim Jong Un and staring him down.  
    • My favorite part of that one is "I'm sure he underestimated me, having no clue about my experience staring down little tyrants (I'd been a children's pastor, after all)."  Since when are Sunday School teachers called "children's pastors"?  And isn't calling your students "little tyrants" just adding more mud to the pile?  Or is it gravel to the pit? 
  • Claiming to have cancelled a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron because of his "pro-Hamas / anti-Israeli comments."
  • Promising that if she got to the White House, she would say "Commander, say hello to Cricket."
  • Going on news media all over the country and blaming the puppy (by the time she was done, Cricket sounded like another Cujo), the he-goat, the "woke" mob who don't have the guts to shoot a puppy in the face, the unnamed ghost writer who wrote it all and got it published without her ever knowing, despite the fact that she posted a publicity still of her reading the audio version.  (How do you record something you don't read?)  

Well, after a number of media interviews, almost all of them scathing (when Newsmax tells you you're not on the VP list anymore, you're in trouble), she did a classic runaway, worthy of Monty Python:  cancelling her appearances on Fox News and CNN because of snow back in South Dakota.  LINK 

 (NOTE:  Some snow fell in the Black Hills May 6-8; they're used to it, and some folks went snowmobiling. By May 12, the weather was in the 60s, and the streets were clear.) 

Oh, and Fox News host Greg Gutfeld responded to her cancellation with a brutal interview of her anyway, with Dana Perino taking Kristi's role.  I think she's toast at Fox, too. (LINK)


And finally - yes, Governor Noem has now managed to get banned from seven out of the nine Native American reservations in this state. Crow Creek, Sisseton-Wahpeton Lake Traverse Indian Reservation and the Yankton Sioux Tribe are the latest three to get thoroughly fed up with interviews like this one:  (LINK)

Kristi Noem and Elizabeth Vargas on News Nation, May 8th, 2024:

“But we have the cartels set up in South Dakota,” said Noem.

“They are set up?” asked Vargas.

“They are set up in South Dakota,” said Noem.

“How do you know that?” asked Vargas.

“Because I’ve seen the pictures, and our investigators have interacted with them,” said Noem. “In fact, we had a cartel member kidnap an FBI officer just last week. You know it is well known, and they are able to operate on those tribal reservations because they are protected.”

Now, granted, it may be top secret and all that (and if so, what is she doing talking about it on national news?), but nobody up here has heard anything about an FBI officer being kidnapped in the last two weeks.  But two weeks before that, a Rapid City judge did sentence three people to federal prison for carjacking/kidnapping an FBI agent (not knowing that he was an FBI agent) in 2022.  Does that count?  (LINK)  Yet another unforced error… 

No, you can't make this stuff up, but I wish you could.


When you have a nice little political career going,
don't take it to the gravel pit.


My latest new story, "At the Dig" is in Black Cat Weekly #138. (HERE)

And let's not forget the wonderful anthologies, Murder Neat, and Paranoia Blues, both available on which have, respectively, my "Bad Influence" and "Cool Papa Bell" in them:



02 May 2024

Where's the Documentary?: RFK Jr. Edition - and Kristi Noem

It's amazing how many people here in South Dakota do not know that on September 28, 1983, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. was arrested in Rapid City, South Dakota for possession and ingestion of heroin.

Some backstory: After being sworn in in 1982 as assistant district attorney in Manhattan, RFK Jr. failed the bar exam and resigned in July 1983, saying he needed a rest. Apparently he hadn't shared with anyone, including his employers, the fact that he'd been doing heroin since at least 1969, when he was 15 years old. (He later told the New Yorker (July 7, 2023), “I was a heroin addict for fourteen years. I’m lucky to be alive. People have plenty of reason to write me off forever because of the way I conducted my life during that fourteen-year period.")

Anyway, in September, he ended up on a Republic flight to Rapid City, where he either

  1. got into a spat with another traveler on the flight, and went to the toilet where he did some heroin, OR
  2. fell sick on an airplane (most likely from doing heroin in the toilet) on the way out there.

In any case, when the plane arrived in the airport, the Rapid City police met the plane at the airport and arrested him for possession of a small amount of heroin. Who also met him at the airport was Bill Walsh, the prior owner of the Franklin Hotel in Deadwood a state congressman, ex-priest, now in the SD Hall of Fame, and strong Democrat, allegedly to help Robert Jr to a rehab center. (Anonymous source)

"Heroin possession is a Class 4 felony with a penalty that may include a fine of up to $20,000, up to 10 years in prison, or both.
The maximum penalty for the unlawful ingestion of a Schedule I or II controlled drug or substance is 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine." (South Dakota Law Code)

Being from a famous, wealthy, and white family, RFK Jr. did not get either of those sentences. It probably also helped that his defense attorney was John Fitzpatrick Sr, who'd moved from Boston to Rapid City after the mob injured his leg with a car bomb. (At the time, he was representing a mob hitman who the mob feared was about to become an informant. He later became a SD judge.)

Now I admit, this steams me up: For one thing, instead of jail time pending trial and sentencing, RFK Jr. got to go to a drug treatment center. (I have no idea which one.) That doesn't happen for poor folk. Or even "middle class" folk. For one thing, inpatient drug treatment centers cost a lot of money. Try between $10,000 and $30,000 on average for a 30 day program, and not all health insurance will cover it. (Source) And I know far too many people who have been sentenced to the full 10 years plus 5 years, and been slapped with the $30,000 fine, which they can only afford to pay off if deal drugs as soon as they get out to raise the cash. That or win the lottery.

Anyway, finally, at the last moment, RFK pled guilty to a single felony charge of possession of heroin in February 1984, and got two years' probation and community service. Kennedy did his community service working as a volunteer for Riverkeeper, an environmental organization in the Hudson Valley (not in Rapid City) founded by Robert H. Boyle (SPOILER ALERT: This will be very important in a few moments!) and was required to attend regular drug-rehabilitation sessions. His probation ended a year early. Chances are, his record has been expunged as well. (Wikipedia, UPI.)

First of all, good for RFK, Jr., that he got clean and stayed clean.

Secondly, this is not the story that would make a great documentary.


A while back, Washington Post did a story on Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s tenure at Riverkeeper, from his volunteer year of commnity service (see above) to becoming their senior attorney in 1985, to his dramatic resignation in 2017 where he said (completely falsely) “It is extraordinarily difficult to leave the organization which I co-founded thirty-three years ago, built from the ground up and to which I’ve devoted most of my career."

As I said before, Riverkeeper was founded by Robert H. Boyle, a renowned environmentalist, was the founder of the original organization, Hudson River Fisherman's Association (HRFA) in 1966, which later changed its name to Riverkeeper. HRFA and Riverkeeper's purpose was to clean up the Hudson River, and to continue to fight environmental pollution in the Hudson River Valley. They were very successful. (Wikipedia)

So what happened?

Well, RFK Jr. had risen through the ranks to become Riverkeeper's primary attorney and a very important fundraiser for the organization. He also co-founded an environmental litigation clinic at Pace Law School in 1987 that worked primarily on cases for Riverkeeper. John Humbach, a former Pace law professor and associate dean, said Kennedy quickly became famous among students as a dazzling instructor. And he had, as they say, connections with the rich, famous, and politically active.

But not everyone was dazzled:

Alex Boyle, son of Robert H. Boyle, became wary of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. following an incident when they were collecting samples from Quassaick Creek. “I said to my father, ‘You have a pet rattlesnake. Eventually he’s going to bite you.’” (Jeenah Moon for The Washington Post)

And then in 1999, he hired William Wegner. "Kennedy described him as a skilled scientist, but Riverkeeper had not been looking for a scientist. As Boyle later described it, he became suspicious — and then horrified — as he began digging into Wegner’s background. Wegner, then 49, had been released from federal prison just a few months earlier, after serving about 3½ years of a five-year sentence for tax fraud, perjury and conspiracy to violate wildlife protection laws. The charges all sprang from his roughly decade-long run as the alleged kingpin of a smuggling ring that trafficked in Australian cockatoos.

Richard.Fisher derivative work: Snowmanradio,
originally posted to flickr at Major Mitchell's Cockatoo
at Australia Zoo
and uploaded to commons at

"According to prosecutors, Wegner recruited a team of at least 10 “mules” who raided tree hollows in Australia to steal the birds’ eggs. The mules incubated the eggs using Styrofoam and hair dryers and then hid their contraband in special vests as they flew back to the United States. If the eggs hatched en route, Wegner’s couriers had instructions to flush the chicks down the airplane toilet."

"Boyle was livid when he learned about Wegner’s past and ordered that he be fired. Kennedy objected, taking his case to the board. Among other things, he argued that Wegner was an experienced scientist who would come cheap because of his inability to find other work and that his crimes had involved birds so common in Australia they were considered agricultural pests. 'Every species that he smuggled was a vermin species that the Australian government was paying people to destroy,' RFK Jr. said. But that was a lie: Today at least three of the species targeted by Wegner’s ring are listed as endangered by the Australian government.'

RFK Jr. also said that Wagner had been working for "environmental consulting firms" in the Hudson River Valley for years. That also was a lie.

What RFK Jr. didn't say was that he and Wagner had an old bond, an obsession with raptors: “We weren’t friends,” he said in an interview. “I mean, we’re friends in terms of — you know, I’m kind of a friend with anyone who’s flying a hawk. You have an instant basis for friendship.”

But the two did share a close mutual friend and fellow Hudson Valley falconer, Thomas Cullen III. Cullen, whom Kennedy described to The Post as “one of my best friends,” appears in a November 2023 campaign video about the presidential candidate’s love of falconry.

Now this is interesting: Cullen himself was also involved in bird smuggling: in 1984, he was arrested by Australian authorities, who alleged he had been climbing a tree with a hatchet in a wildlife sanctuary in Western Australia, trying to steal eggs from a cockatoo’s nesting hollow. He pleaded guilty to charges in Australia and paid a fine. Cullen was never charged by U.S. officials in connection with Wegner’s smuggling conspiracy, which according to federal records involved several falconers from the Hudson Valley. But in 2006, Cullen was sentenced to four months in prison and a $1,000 fine for importing black sparrow hawks in violation of the Wild Bird Conservation Act and making false statements to the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Anyway, there was a board meeting over the whole Wagner hullabaloo, and RFK, Jr. managed to turn enough people to his side that he won by 13 to 8. Boyle, and his supporters, quit immediately.

With Boyle gone, RFK Jr. was President of Riverkeeper, until 2017, when he resigned for two reasons: "the toll on his family by his cross-country commute from California and the demands of his work with World Mercury Project, the anti-vaccine group that would soon become Children’s Health Defense. Under Kennedy’s leadership, the annual revenue of Children’s Health Defense would balloon from a half-million dollars to more than $23 million, placing it in the vanguard of anti-vaccination advocacy groups."

The man who had discovered an already successful environmental group while doing court-imposed community service now falsely claimed to have founded Riverkeeper, which he said had “a budget of zero” before he arrived. “It is extraordinarily difficult to leave the organization which I co-founded thirty-three years ago, built from the ground up and to which I’ve devoted most of my career,” Kennedy wrote.

In an interview with The Post, Kennedy said his resignation letter “was certainly accurate as to what I believed at that time.” He added, “I have no memory of writing that letter, and I have no memory of anybody disputing anything that I said about my role at Riverkeeper.”

The Boyles did.

(The full source article from Washington Post is HERE: WaPO)

So, when is the Netflix or Hulu documentary coming out?


Congratulations to everyone who managed to NOT spend the weekend killing a pet dog, or a smelly billy goat, or reading about any of this. (All you have to do is look up "Kristi Noem Killed Dog" and you will be flooded with websites and memes, saying everything more eloquently, sarcastically, and profanely than even I can.)

What I will say is that many people did not realize that our Governor has done other peculiar things:

On April 6, 2019, she gathered her family around a caged raccoon and they proceeded to kill it as good family fun. She posted the pictures on her very public Governor Kristi Noem Facebook page, which you can find easily, and the date, as I said, is April 6, 2019. The pictures are still there as is this blurb:

"Love seeing kids this excited about being outside!! Our nest predator bounty program launched this week, and we’re seeing great results. Let’s get kids away from the X-box and out with the live box!"

Scared raccoon, live in a box.   Dead raccoon out of the box.
Scared raccoon, live in a box.   Dead raccoon out of the box.

This was all part of her Predator Bounty project, which pays people $10 per tail to kill animals that (could) eat pheasant eggs. It has become a habit up here for locals to stop when they see roadkill of a possum or raccoon to stop and cut off the tail. It's an easy $10. If you have a hatchet or a sharp enough knife.

She asked for a flamethrower for as a Christmas gift the next year, and her staff gave it to her. So of course she made an Instagram photo with it: (LINK)

Also, she's been the centerpiece of a national workforce recruitment campaign, with herself in various job uniforms saying, basically, come to South Dakota and find jobs and freedom (the ad company was paid $2.9 million for this is out of Minnesota, not South Dakota, so ironically, there's no ad jobs here, at least not for state government). Hilariously, Sen. Michael Rohl, R-Aberdeen said, “I certainly hope the next phase isn’t highlighting a need for veterinarians."

I can see it now: Kristi dressed as a veterinarian, while a wire-haired pointer tries frantically to scrabble its way off the examination table... Jobs and freedom, people.


My brand new story, "At the Dig" is in Black Cat Weekly #138. (HERE)

And let's not forget the wonderful anthologies, Murder Neat and Paranoia Blues, both available on which have, respectively, my "Bad Influence" and "Cool Papa Bell" in them:


07 June 2018

The Horse-Off

"Baseball is something like a war."  - Ty Cobb (1886-1961)
And so is politics.  That or the most dysfunctional family reunion ever.  Certainly that's the way the Republican Primary has been here in South Dakota.  In case you didn't know, South Dakota is red, red, red, red, and more red.  We have Democratic candidates, but there are never any Democratic primaries, because rounding up just one per position is pretty much all we can do.  Anyway, the primary had two huge sections:


Attorney General Marty Jackley v. US House Representative Kristi Noem

US District Attorney Marty Jackley.pngImage result for kristi noem on horseback
(Notice the horse.  This is going to be


Dusty Johnson v.              Shantel Krebs v.                          Neil Tapio

Johnson and Krebs     Neal Tapio in Watertown, South Dakota.jpg 

a/k/a the nerdy Chief of Staff to the governor, the beauty queen SD Secretary of State, and the State Senator/South Dakota Trump Presidential Campaign Director.
(Others, not so kind, have referred to them as Howdy Doody, Clarabelle, and Phineas T. Bluster.)

Now before I get started, you need to remember that all of these people know each other, have worked together, have gone to the Governor's Annual Pheasant Hunt ("if you're not there, you're nowhere", and it's invitation only, my dears, invitation only) together, attended Republican conventions and fundraisers, annual ALEC meetings, etc., etc., etc.  South Dakota is one big small town, and there aren't six degrees of separation between anyone - more like two.  Three at the most.

So the campaign started off slow and respectful.  Dignified, even.  The first political ads were exclusively for Jackley, Noem, and Krebs, and I swear each and every single one of them all showed the same words: "Experienced.  Conservative.  Tested."   And then someone would ride a horse.  And load / carry a gun.  Also lot of shots of cattle, hay, farms, and rolling hills.

Now Kristi Noem has always made her horse riding central to her campaigns and she does look damn good on one.  Marty Jackley stuck with just having almost every sheriff in the state sing his praises, after which he'd go pheasant hunting, and then lead his daughter around on a horse.

And then, the local newspaper came out with a poll that said Jackley and Noem were neck and neck, and things got nasty.

Kristi Noem launched ads about the EB-5 scandal (which yours truly has spoken of at length in these blogs).  No mention of my favorite question, "Who killed Richard Benda?" but she did raise the missing $5 million.  (The reason why the United States Customs and Immigration Service letter of September 28, 2015, found South Dakota too unreliable and incompetent, if not downright corrupt, to handle EB-5 visa investments any more. Thanks Dakota Free Press!)

Marty Jackley, who talks about EB-5, the missing millions, Richard Benda, or the missing Gear Up! millions about as often as I request a colonoscopy for fun, ignored all questions of corruption and fired back with ads about how Ms. Noem hadn't kept any of the promises she made on going to Washington.  Even more shocking he appeared in the ad below, talking about balancing the budget.  Locked and loaded indeed!

(My first reaction was, "First they had to drug the horse, right?")

And then Kristi hammered away with ads about Jackley holding up a $1.5 million settlement payment for a DCI employee (sexual harassment; and I can assure you that it was serious, and seriously well-documented, for her to actually win in this state) after Jackley saw said ex-employee sitting with Noem at a Republican fundraiser.  (Argus Leader)
So Jackley retaliated with photos of Noem shaking hands with (gasp!) then-President Obama back in 2015...

Back to our candidates running for our sole House seat.  Dusty Johnson was the odd one out, with quiet ads illustrating fiscal responsibility at dinner out with the kids.  Shantel Krebs ran pheasant hunting ads (it's a theme up here) and urged South Dakota to send her to Washington to help Donald Trump make America great again.  Neal Tapio's ads were a combination of lies about his opponents (Shantel Krebs, for all her faults, certainly did not make South Dakota the 3rd most Obamacare-compliant state in the nation - for one thing, our Governor never expanded Medicaid) and his passionate loyalty to Donald Trump.

Then the aforementioned poll also said that Dusty Johnson was leading (which surprised almost everyone, including, perhaps, Dusty), and things got nasty:  Shantel approved ads that claimed Dusty flew on private planes on government expense to the tune of almost $10,000.  A private Ohio group accused Shantel of raising taxes - and her salary - whenever possible.  Johnson swore he wasn't behind the ads, and I believed him.

Remember, all these people worked together for years.  I see them cousins at a 4th of July reunion, who smile at each other and then hiss gossip about the others to everyone as they load up on baked beans and potato salad.  And Mr. Tapio, who is the crazy Alex Jones fan at the picnic.  You think I'm kidding?  Back in January Tapio gave a speech and said that "one more terrorist attack between now and then [the election] and I will be the … just by the ‘Trump effect,’ I will be the candidate. That’s the way I look at it.”  (Listen here.)  But then Tapio is an anti-Muslim zealot.  He accused South Dakota Lutheran Bishop Zellmer of aiding and abetting terrorism, and "taking away the Christian fabric of our nation" by holding an Interfaith Day at the Capitol in Pierre (Argus Leader).  Above all, Mr. Tapio ran on Trump.  110% pro-Trump.  Send him to Washington, so he can help Trump.  Period.  And then he decided to up the ante by calling for an end to tribal sovereignty, and to rewrite all the treaties between the United States and Native American populations.  (Argus)
And another SD Representative, Michael Clark, applauded the recent SCOTUS decision about cake-baking by saying that business owners should be able to discriminate based on race.  (Argus)

So it was a Republican Primary, and all the dogs were howling.  Literally.

So what were the results?

Kristi Noem is our new Republican candidate for Governor, 57%-43% over Marty Jackley.  (Proof that negative ads work, especially if they're 100% true.  And the question has already been raised of who's going to run against Jackley for AG in November – the sharks smell blood.)
Dusty Johnson is our new Republican candidate for United States House of Representatives, with 47% of the vote (Krebs got 29%, Tapio 24%).

Who'll win in November?  Danged if I know.  But I can guarantee you we'll see a lot of horses.

Anyway, that's all from South Dakota, where we talk like Mayberry, act like Goodfellas, and the crazy just keeps on coming.


PS:  Oh, there was also one non-partisan item on the ballot, an Amendment to modify Marsy's Law.  I went and voted, and even the polling people agreed that this was ridiculous:  any amendment should be on the November ballot, not a Republican-only primary, where as few Democrats and Independents would vote as possible.  As a friend of mine said, "they did it as dirty as they could."  It passed.

08 June 2017

Of Safes and Smoke

by Eve Fisher

Do you remember the South Dakota GEAR UP! scandal?  The one that got started when, early in the morning of September 17, 2015, a fire destroyed the home of Scott and Nicole Westerhuis and their four children in Platte, South Dakota?  And they were all later found to be shot to death?
Quick Note:  (GEAR UP! is a federal grant program to get financial assistance to low-income students; here in SD it's primary aim was supposed to be helping Native American students.)  
Image result
SD AG Marty Jackley
Now, my regular readers may remember that South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley determined that Scott Westerhuis shot his wife and children, torched the house, and then shot himself, all because he was about to be caught for embezzling enough funds to build a $1.3 million rural home, a $900,000 gym complete with basketball court, etc., etc., etc., on an official combined salary (his and his wife's) from Mid Central Educational Co-Op of $130,000.  Later, it turned out that the Westerhuises had set up a number of shell organizations, and given themselves hefty salaries from them all.

Well, I'm happy to announce that the General Audit of Mid Central and GEAR UP! has finally been released and it shows:

(1) Scott and Nicole Westerhuis took nearly $8 million out of Mid Central's bank account without authorization to cover the salaries of their non-profit organizations. Supposedly most of that money was returned to Mid Central (how, when, where?), but $1.4 million was still missing at the time of the Westerhuis family's deaths.

(2) The Mid Central Board and its director, Dan Guericke, didn't have enough oversight and never addressed the risks created by Scott and Nicole Westerhuis having roles in the non-profits they set up to take the GEAR UP! grant money.

(3) Guericke didn't get approval by the board for 17 contracts and a number of payments made without contracts with the Westerhuises.

Naturally, the blame game has begun:
  • Mid Central's board is blaming the South Dakota Department of Education ("lead partner" in the GEAR UP! grant and responsible for ensuring the project was carried out in accordance to federal rules and regulations).  
  • The SD DOE says it did its job of conducting reviews of grant expenses and tightened up its controls when it began noticing issues in 2014, which is why it cancelled its contract with Mid Central right before the Westerhuis tragedy.  
  • The Mid Central board's responded that, "no amount of reasonable oversight would have detected the complex scheme of fraudulent and illegal activities conducted by Scott and Nicole Westerhuis."  (Angela Kennecke, KELO TV)  
  • NOTE:  I once put together five years of an organization's accounts from a checking account register.  You can figure out a lot if you just follow the money...
  • Also, Cory's blog Dakota Free Press has all the facts and figures that we have so far, and all the excuses piled up so far.
So, June 30, 2017, Mid Central will shut down. 12 of its 13 members have formed Core Educational Cooperative.  The same staff of Mid Central (those who are not going to trial) are now going to work for Core (at least half of them had to have conflict-of-interest waivers to work for Mid Central, and will now have to have conflict-of-interest waivers to be able to work for Core); the Mid Central Board is liquidating their assets (even though $1.4 million in tax-payer money is still owed to our long-suffering public).  Please see Cory Heidelberger's article at Dakota Free Press for a fuller experience of how deep it's getting piled.  Again...

Meanwhile, no one's come forward yet to untangle the following mysteries:
(1) Who called Nicole's cell phone in the middle of the night, right before the fire?
(2) Why did Mid Central Educational Co-op, which owned the Westerhuis cell phones, cancel them and wipe the records the next morning, before the ashes from the arson had even cooled?
(3) What did Mid Central Educational Co-op Director Dan Guericke talk about with Scott Westerhuis for an hour on the evening before the tragedy?  (Guericke told the board the two really didn't talk about much at all.)
(4) What happened to the Westerhuis safe, which trotted out of the house like a trained pig right before the house was torched?

Yes, there's going to be a trial of 3 Mid Central employees, including Director Guericke.  Maybe the questions will be answered then...  But I'm not holding my breath.  Will keep you posted.

Cannabis Plant.jpgThe other big news of the week hearkens back to last year, when the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe reversed course on opening America's first Tribal Marijuana Coffee Shop, and burned the whole crop in November.  (They had been warned that they were going to be raided by federal officials.)  AG Jackley was suspicious that they hadn't burned it all, and talked about charges.  And he did.  He charged Colorado marijuana industry consultants Eric Hagen and Jonathan Hunt for helping the tribe set up their grow room, etc.  (BTW, State AGs can’t prosecute non-Indians for crimes on reservations, but Jackley argued that his office had jurisdiction to prosecute victimless crimes committed by non-Indians.) Hunt rolled over and pled guilty but Hagen went to trial: and was acquitted by a jury. (Hagen testified that he was simply a consultant with experience in the industry who had been hired by the tribe, and apparently the jury agreed with him.) Marty Jackley was restrained, saying that he respected the jury's verdict.  (See the Argus Leader article for more details.)

Many people believe that the reason Jackley pursued this lawsuit was because he and current SD Rep. Kristi Noem (R) are going to duke it out for the South Dakota Governor's Office next year, and he's trying to get out front on the law & order issue. (Most of us think taxes and health care would be more salient...) But, as we move into yet another election year, the questions pile up:
Will GEAR UP! come up?
Will crop insurance?
Will marijuana?
Will riding horses?
Will let you know.

Meanwhile, a friend just told me that a forrmer public works director (no names were named) said that South Dakota doesn't really need federal money for infrastructure, because driving on bumpy roads isn't all that much of an inconvenience. My friend pointed out that tourists might disagree & he said tourism doesn't impact the state economy that much...

Crazy Horse Memorial - Photo by TBennert on Wikipedia
Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore - Wikipedia
Badlands National Park - Wikipedia
Black Hills -Needles-31.jpg
The Needles - photo courtesy of
Doug Knuth -

Bear Butte - photo courtesy of
Jsoo1, as English Wikipedia image: en:Image:Bearbutte4.jpg

Main Street Sturgis South Dakota Bike Week.jpg
Sturgis motorcycle rally - Photo courtesy of
Cumulus Clouds, Wikipedia
Are our public officials TRYING to run our economy into the ground, or are they just stupid?

More later, from South Dakota, where we talk like Mayberry, act like Goodfellas, and the crazy just keeps on coming.


08 December 2016

Updates and Repercussions: South Dakota Edition

Back in December, 2005, the Zip Feed Tower in Sioux Falls, SD, was demolished to make room for retail and office space.  Things didn't go that well:

It's still a running joke up here, and they show it semi-regularly on TV.  Eventually they took a crane and wrecking ball to it, which worked a treat.

However, last week we had a tragedy in Sioux Falls, when a building came down that wasn't supposed to:  December 2, 2016, the Copper Lounge building collapsed out of the clear blue sky while a lot of people were having coffee across the street.  A Mercedes parked right outside the building was crushed; a woman who lived in an apartment was trapped with her dogs, all were eventually rescued; but a man who was working construction in the building was killed.  (The Copper Lounge Collapse.)

Now, before it got tragic, I admit, my first thought was to blame HGTV, because all anyone can talk about on those shows these days is an "open floor plan".  Obviously, someone took out a supporting wall. And - sadly - I was right. This was an old building - built in 1916 - and "Sioux Falls City Building Services approved a limited permit authorizing Hultgren Construction to remove interior finishes such as furnishings, floor coverings, ceiling tiles, and an existing bar area." But the permit did NOT authorize removing walls, as you can see they did in the photo to the left. (Hultgren Construction removed that photo from their website, but local news, and others, posted it on Facebook sites time and again.)

Then, two days later, a hole in an adjacent (and now exposed) wall opened up (belonging to an entirely different business). Emergency Management had put up shoring to protect the first responders and to keep more walls from collapsing, but "The weight was eventually going to take it [down]... That area was heavily compromised." Basically, a lot of businesses are closed. And at some point, a lot of lawsuits are going to be started.

So, lesson of the day:  if you must have an open floor plan, remember that old buildings, like people, don't care to have large chunks removed, and make sure that you leave important supporting walls where they are.  And get all the necessary permits.

On to more fun things, like elections.  South Dakota stayed Republican, and if this shocks you, remind me tell you that "The Wizard of Oz" is a work of fiction.  Donald Trump got 227,701 votes, Hillary Clinton got 117,442 votes, and Gary Johnson got 20,845 votes, with 69.6% of the electorate voting, which isn't bad.  We also had a slew of ballot measures, of which 4 passed:

(1) Amendment R, which transfers control of tech schools from local school boards to a new... something. It's now up to the SD legislature to decide what kind of supervision/board and how much funding to give them. (Note to tech schools: our SD legislature is notoriously cheap about everything but EB-5 and Gear Up. Don't hold your breath.)

(2) Initiated Measure 21, which caps payday loans at 36%, no exceptions. I am happy to say that Chuck Brennan, a former rock concert promoter and CitiBank collections professional, the mastermind behind the multi-million dollar Dollar Loan Center, is indeed doing what he promised, which is that if Measure 21 passed, he'd pick up his toys and go back home to Vegas. (Hint: He's not as popular in SD as he thinks he is.) He's selling the recently purchased Huset's Speedway (bought it for $1 million, wants to $9.5 million), and we're all waiting to see what he'll do with Badlands Pawn and Badlands Radio.

Image result for kelsey grammer marsy's law south dakota
They pulled out the star power for Mary's Law ads...
(3) Amendment S, "Marsy's Law", "creating constitutionally protected rights for crime victims" although they already had them under the SD constitution. This one passed in a landslide, because there were so many ads (with and without star power) that there were barely any fast food commercials on TV for October and November.

That was because Marsy's Law is bankrolled by California billionaire Henry Nicholas III, whose sister was murdered in 1983. Her killer was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole, and he and his family attended all the parole hearings, in which the killer was always denied parole.  But apparently that wasn't enough. Mr. Nicholas wants "Marsy's Law" to be not only law nationally, but to become an Amendment to the United States Constitution - see's_Law), and is willing to shell out big bucks to do it. (He passes laws, the Hunt boys tried to buy up all the silver in the world, everywhere you look, billionaires have hobbies.)

Anyway, now we have Marsy's Law, and like the dog catching the car, nobody knows what to do with it. The police already aren't giving out address of crime sites anymore – what if there's a victim there? Supposedly, now, a crime victim does not have to be deposed by a defense lawyer (even though that's in the US Constitution.) And everyone agrees that costs will go up, as notifications now have to go to victims of ANY kind of crime (not just felonies) and sentences will probably get longer, as notifications have to be sent to every crime victim and their families.  More later.

(4) Initiated Measure 22, on campaign finance reform. This is the really fun one: It requires more disclosures and reporting; lowers contribution amounts to AND from PACs, parties, and candidates at all levels. It also creates a publicly funded campaign finance program for statewide and legislative candidates who choose to participate and agree to limits on campaign contributions and expenditures. (Under the program, two $50 'credits' are issued to each registered voter, who assigns them to participating candidates. The credits are redeemed from the program, which is funded by an annual State general-fund appropriation of $9 per registered voter. The program fund may not exceed $12 million at any time.) And it creates an appointed ethics commission to administer the credit program and to enforce campaign finance and lobbying laws. It also prohibits certain State officials and high-level employees from lobbying until two years after leaving State government. It also limits lobbyists' gifts to certain state officials and staff members.

Image result for family heritage alliance actionIn case you're wondering, IM 22 is being fought tooth and nail by the GOP Legislature. Now I understand totally why no one wants to come up with those $50 per-tax-payer-credits.  (HINT: with no income tax, our only revenue is sales tax, and sales have gone down; WAY down.  We don't have money for much of anything in SD.) But that's not the reason our Legislature is already talking about nullifying the will of the people, either by hook (lawsuit) or crook (repeal).  It's about money, honey, and jobs: So far, 12 legislators and 1 organization are filing a Lawsuit HERE, because the legislators are claiming they would need to quit the Legislature or quit their jobs, or their spouses would need to quit their jobs because of conflict of interest. (Makes you wonder who's doing the hiring, doesn't it?)  And the Family Heritage Alliance group ("protecting and promoting faith, family, and freedom", and they only mean conservative Christian), which lobbies our Legislature with considerable success every year, is suing because... well, obviously, they spend some money to get their views... enabled. And our fearless leader, Gov. Dennis Daugaard has (1) said that he'll support repeal if the measure isn't struck down in court and (2) NO MATTER WHAT, he will not fund IM 22.

Meanwhile, going back to Marsy's Law, fear not:  after a month of confusion, our Attorney General, Marty Jackley, has just announced that crime victims have to opt-in for their rights under Marsy's Law, and names, addresses, etc., may continue to be given to news media, insurance companies, etc. (In an interesting twist, he said that crime victims have to opt-in the same way perpetrators do...)  And, although Marsy's Law also increases costs (extra hearings, longer jail times, more contacting victims and victims' families), it will be fully funded, one way or another.

Anyway, one good thing that came out of this is that we know who's running for governor in 2018: South Dakota United States Representative Kristi Noem (who looks great on a horse, and whose family makes their living off of crop insurance, both receiving - 18th largest recipient in the state! - and selling it)

Image result for kristi noem on horseback

and our Attorney General, Marty Jackley (who still can't find the Westerhuis safe, but does have good Anderson Cooper hair).

Image result for marty jackley

They both opened campaign accounts and transferred money in a couple of days before the IM 22 became law (remember, it limits campaign contributions).  So we also know that Noem has $1.6 million and Jackley has $730,000 in their treasure chests.  This should be fun.  This should be epic. Bring popcorn.

Well, that's it for now.  More later, from South Dakota, where we talk like Mayberry, act like Goodfellas, and the crazy just keeps on coming.