Sunday, December 31, 2006

Setting Priorities

I have been spending much of the past few weeks away from blogging in order to catch up on work and family time but with a new year and new legislative session on the horizon I thought it would be a good idea to throw out some priorities that we all should consider for the upcoming year. With the upcoming legislative session almost upon us and a possible scandal to deal with regarding Dan Sutton it is time again for everyone to wonder if our legislators will actually focus on the needs of our state.

Last year the prime targets included telling residents how they live with and what they should do with their bodies and pretty much ignored our education system. Voters decided that a higher tax on cigarettes would protect our young from smoking but ignored a bigger problem facing young people. Alcohol was directly involved in the deaths of 13 young South Dakotan's this year but no-one is calling for higher taxes on that vice. 10's of thousands in our state have either inadequate or lack any heath care coverage at all, our teachers are 51st in the nation in pay and our state has the highest percentage of families with both parents working outside the home in the country.

These are only some of the many issues that have been all but ignored in the past few years so here is hoping that our legislators make a New Year's resolution to focus on the real needs of our state this year and leave the moral issues to individuals and their respective beliefs and personal choices.

Finally I wanted to thank those of you that have been regulars here in my very small part of the blogosphere these past few months and I hope to see you all here again next year. Have a safe and happy new year!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Somebody Call The Waaambulance

Governor Rounds is still mad about getting his hand slapped by South Dakota voters and he wants everybody to know it.

We all remember Initiated Measure 5, which sought to restrict the use of the government owned aircraft and even though supporters spent almost no money during the campaign, it still passed easily.

Well Rounds continues his complaining in an op-ed piece in yesterday's RCJ.
For me personally, it complicates the scheduling of many events that governors are requested and expected to attend. Being on duty 24 hours a day, including many night and weekend events, it becomes even more difficult.

Because there are no exceptions to the state law, I cannot go to church if I use the state airplane for government business in another town on the weekend. I cannot swing by the hospital on the way back to the airport to visit a friend who is sick. I cannot attend a charity event unless it is official state business only. Simple conversations about family become illegal because I am on state business.

Unfortunately, the biggest impact is not on me. It will be on any state employee who uses any kind of state vehicle.

If a state employee does something of a personal nature on a trip, even if it is unintentional, they are in violation of the new law. If they stop at a drug store for aspirin, that is a violation. If they missed lunch and stop at a grocery store for a late snack, that is a violation.
Nowhere to be found in his rant is the fact that the new law basically only changes the penalties and changes the wording so that state owned aircraft (which was previously not specifically mentioned) is now included. This would make his claims on how it affects other state employees nothing more than a scare tactic as they were already required to follow these restrictions.

From the Secretary of State's explanation: (underlined portions are the only changes to the current law)
For purposes of this section, any aircraft owned or leased by the state may be used only in the conduct of state business. None of the exceptions listed above are applicable regarding the use of any aircraft owned or leased by the state or any of its agencies.

A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor. The violator is also subject to a civil action by the State of South Dakota in circuit court for the recovery of a civil penalty of not more than one thousand ($1,000) dollars plus ten times the cost incurred by the state for misuse of the vehicle. An action for the recovery of a civil penalty or compensatory damages shall, upon demand, be tried by a jury.
Here is the rest of the state law which remains unchanged:
5-25-1.1. Vehicles owned or leased by the state may be used only in the conduct of state business. No state officer or employee, except the Governor, law enforcement officers of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, law enforcement officers of the Division of Criminal Investigation, and conservation officers may use, or permit the use of, any state-owned motor vehicle other than in the conduct of state business. Nothing in this section prohibits any use of any state vehicle, if, in order to provide for the most efficient use of state equipment or personnel, supervisory personnel issue written instructions to any state employee to use a state vehicle for transportation:

(1) Between the employee’s permanent residence and work station; or

(2) Between the employee’s temporary residence or eating place and work station if assigned to a locality other than the employee’s permanent residence.
Not being a lawyer, it sure sounds to me like Governor Rounds is just blowing smoke up our you know what in an effort to conceal the fact that he got his hand slapped by the Argus and others in our state who were fed up with his unfettered use of government owned aircraft. But if any lawyers out there can show me where in the above voter approved changes in the state law supports his claims, I'd be happy to be corrected.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Totally Ridiculous

More conservative wingnuts drooling over Tim Johnson's condition including his bouts in and out of consciousness and this time they are drawing a parallel to Terry Shiavo.
I can't help but notice that Johnson's minor interaction with the world is enough to keep him in the Senate, but such wasn't enough to keep Terry Schiavo alive.
So now they think that the situation with our esteemed Senator whom is in a drug induced coma due to his life saving brain surgery is somehow related to a completely brain dead woman and are openly wondering why he should be allowed to retain his seat. And liberals are heartless?

I for one am wondering how all these folks would feel if their employers let them go after undergoing major surgery even before any long term prognosis on their ability to perform their job had been determined. But then again common sense and compassion are traits that aren't necessarily things that are used when it comes to politics.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Definition of Irony

It seems that one of the companies hired by our government to build the useless border fence on our southern border with Mexico has their own illegal alien problem.
A fence-building company in Southern California agrees to pay nearly $5 million in fines for hiring illegal immigrants. Two executives from the company may also serve jail time. The Golden State Fence Company's work includes some of the border fence between San Diego and Mexico.

As Alanis Morissette would say, "Isn't it Ironic".

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sorry Ajay

I guess Stephanie Herseth's former Chief of Staff (wink, wink) Ajay Bruno has blown his chance to woo the South Dakota Congresswoman.

The fictitious character that tried to stir up controversy during the elections by saying that Herseth was pregnant and waiting to announce the pregnancy until after the election, was almost right, she did announce something after the election. Herseth and former Texas Congressman Max Sandlin have announced their engagement at Herseth's birthday party last week in Rapid City.

Congratulations Stephanie!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dispelling The Myths

The Associated Schools Boards of South Dakota has released a paper which dispels many of the myths being forwarded by many in Pierre when it comes to education funding.
Historically, South Dakota has funded education on a what-is-available basis – which mirrors a pre-No Child Left Behind mentality to public education where school districts used funds to provide educational opportunities to South Dakota’s children. No Child Left Behind, though, changed the role of public education from an opportunities-based operation to an outcomes-based system. In public education today, states set high standards for yearly progress, and schools are expected to deliver results.

South Dakota’s school finance system, however, has failed to recognize this dramatic shift in philosophy. In order to achieve the ever-rising expectations, the debate on education funding must shift focus to allocating resources needed to meet the needs of every student. Doing so sets public schools up for success and delivers a brighter future for South Dakota’s students.
Some of the more interesting low-lights from the report include the fact that even though the state is devoting more money to education than they have before, the actual share of state revenue dedicated to education is on the decline especially when it comes to K-12 education.

Almost half of South Dakota's 167 districts (77) have had to opt out of the state's property tax limitation which results in over 21 million in local funding towards education that the state doesn't match.

No state in the nation contributes less per student than South Dakota even though South Dakotans pay approximately the same share percentage wise in property taxes as the surrounding states.

For South Dakota to just come close to the average in teacher salaries of our surrounding states, we would have to invest over $46 million. Even when using South Dakota's adequacy study which takes into account cost of living we would still need to invest over $32 million just be be on par with our neighbors.

After seeing the total waste of time and money spent on the research done by the State Aid Study Task Force and then seeing Gov. Round's annual education band-aid funding recommendation, this report finally gives some perspective to the crisis we have in our schools. Now the question is what will our legislators do about it next month? Given their recent history, I am not holding my breath...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Prayers Go Out To Senator Johnson

Just got in from work and saw the story on Senator Tim Johnson and his health problems on "Countdown" so I just wanted to post something in the middle of my self-imposed blogging break to express my sincere hope for a complete and speedy recovery for our Senior Senator.

First reports were that Johsnon has a stroke but his office is now saying he didn't. No matter what the issue, my thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

GOP Darling?

South Dakota Senator John Thune seems to be a favorite son of the DC GOP. First he was urged, but turned down a run at the chairmanship of the NRSC and now he has been tabbed as the chief deputy whip under Senate Whip Trent Lott.
In his first term in the Senate, John has demonstrated outstanding leadership skills, and I want to put his clout to work in developing the whip strategy to get the votes for our priorities," Lott said in a news release. "John will be actively engaged in our leadership team."

Thune will be the chief whipping boy over the other regional whips whom were also named by Lott and they include Sen. John Sununu of New Hampshire, Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Rounds' Favorite Word For Education Funding

One Time...

Looking over the slides provided on the state website, one thing comes to mind. I doubt very seriously that the districts suing the state will have much hope for calling off their lawsuit anytime soon.

On the heals of the totally useless State Aid Study Task Force, Governor Rounds outlined his plans for the FY2008 budget and it again is filled with his favorite term when talking about education funding, "one time".

Rounds did bring up his DOA proposal from last year that seeks to make available $4 million in state matching funds for districts to use to to compensate educators involved in what he terms as "education improvement projects". This is the same project he proposed last year to a group of 400 educators that died because the districts believed that it would take away their control.

The only extra school funding proposed again this year is the mandatory 3 percent increase plus a few dollars for technology and special education programs.

One interesting side note from the governor that is a member of the "small government" GOP is that the discretionary spending increases budgeted for next FY includes 2.5 times more money for state employee compensation (10.4 Mil) than it does for K-12 teacher compensation (4.0 Mil) and remember that 4 million is contingent on the teacher being involved in one of those "education improvement projects".

Now that Rounds has put his budget cards on the table, it will be interesting to see if the state legislature will do anything to change that "one time" label that is so prevalent in our school funding agenda these days. 3 percent a year funding increases barely cover inflation costs and funding new programs and teacher salary increases is hard to do with "one time" money.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Weekend Chaff

Blogging here over the weekend was pretty light as I spent my time working on a couple of new sites but the news didn't stop happening.

It looks like former South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle's exploration into running for President has ended with a whimper as he has decided not to run. Daschle joins another prominent Democrat, John Kerry whom has also decided that a run at the White House is not in the cards. Not that Daschle or Kerry stood much of a chance but their announcements leave only Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack active in the very early stages for the Democratic nominee.

Former Rapid City Journal reporter and Mt. Blogmore contributor Denise Ross has joined the blogosphere with her blog titled Hog House Blog which is in reference to the term used in South Dakota politics to describe what happens to orphaned legislation.

Finally a small but ominous milestone for this site. My regular readers may be far and few between but the spammers are here in force as over the weekend I reached 3000 spam comments caught by Akismet, the Worpress spam plugin I use. So if anyone wants to know where to go to buy Viagra or for some reason needs information on the latest porn, just ask as I am sure there will be a comment related to those and many other topics in my morning spam parsing routine.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

I Suspect He Won't Be Getting A Christmas Card

From President Bush that is.

Eric Foner opines in today's Washington Post that Bush just might go down as the worst President in history.
Changes in presidential rankings reflect shifts in how we view history. When the first poll was taken, the Reconstruction era that followed the Civil War was regarded as a time of corruption and misgovernment caused by granting black men the right to vote. As a result, President Andrew Johnson, a fervent white supremacist who opposed efforts to extend basic rights to former slaves, was rated "near great." Today, by contrast, scholars consider Reconstruction a flawed but noble attempt to build an interracial democracy from the ashes of slavery -- and Johnson a flat failure.

More often, however, the rankings display a remarkable year-to-year uniformity. Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt always figure in the "great" category. Most presidents are ranked "average" or, to put it less charitably, mediocre. Johnson, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Richard M. Nixon occupy the bottom rung, and now President Bush is a leading contender to join them. A look at history, as well as Bush's policies, explains why.
And here's where I think Foner gets his name taken of the Bush Christmas card list.
Historians are loath to predict the future. It is impossible to say with certainty how Bush will be ranked in, say, 2050. But somehow, in his first six years in office he has managed to combine the lapses of leadership, misguided policies and abuse of power of his failed predecessors. I think there is no alternative but to rank him as the worst president in U.S. history.

Exposed

Carrying on with the airport security theme that is somewhat near and dear to me, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is getting ready to be the test bed for the newest in security equipment and it might be a bit unsettling for the modest among us.


backscatterThe new backscatter technology is similar to the x-ray technology already used in all airports across the country but with a twist. Passengers will pass through the machine just like they do now with the metal detectors and the unit will x-ray the body looking for weapons and explosives.


For the exceptionally modest, the TSA has had the software modified so that the "sensitive" areas of the body will be blurred out and the viewing station will be placed in a remote location so that only a security officer will be able to view the image.


What makes this unit more advanced than what is currently installed is that it can also test for and detect plastic and liquid explosives that have been in the news a lot lately. The unit which is already being used in prisons and by drug enforcement agencies is schedule to be expanded to more airports in 2007 but if you are wondering about when it could make its debut in Sioux Falls, I wouldn’t hold your breathe waiting for it to happen anytime soon.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Worth The Wait?

The supposed reason why our legislators failed to provide long term funding for our schools was that they were waiting for the report, 18 months in the making, from the State Aid Study Task Force. Well the wait is over and the 70 page report is now finished. What does this "magic report" that we have all been waiting for contain? The self described "toolkit for legislators" contains pretty much a whole lot of nothing.
  • Is there any recommendations for changing the aid formula? No.

  • Is there anything to help address appropriate use of existing funds? No.

  • Is there any enhancement ideas to make the way we currently dole out state aid more equitable? No.

So now we are back to square one and the highly anticipated report that our legislators were using as an excuse for not addressing school funding is finished. What will our fearless leaders use as an their reason for not addressing funding this January? Dan Sutton? Abortion? I could go on and on but don't you think that a long term funding plan should come out of this upcoming session?

If it doesn't, I sure hope that everyone in South Dakota takes their legislators to task. No more excuses...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Circular Logic?

According to Brendan Minter from the WSJ, same sex marriage is behind the increase in out-of-wedlock births in the US.
Although advocates of same-sex marriage will deny there is any connection to extending the institution to gay couples, a recent report released by the National Center for Health Statistics reveals why this debate is worth having now. The study found that although teen pregnancy rates are dropping, the number of out-of-wedlock births in America has been steadily rising since the 1990s. It seems women in their 20s and 30s are having children without getting married first. Last year the proportion of births that are illegitimate reached an all time high of 37%, or 1.5 million children.

So let me get this straight (no pun intended), couples of the same sex who are physically unable to procreate are responsible for the increase in the number of out-of-wedlock births? I always thought it was caused by heterosexual couples that had children without getting married, silly me...

Legislators Meet With Sutton Investigator

Legislators now know exactly what the Attorney General knows in regards to the sexual misconduct investigation of State Senator Dan Sutton.
Sen. Ed Olson, R-Mitchell, chairman of the Legislature’s Executive Board, said Sioux Falls lawyer Jim McMahon told the committee what he has learned from criminal-investigation records that were subpoenaed from the attorney general’s office. The panel also talked about what direction the probe will take in the future, Olson said.
Now that everybody knows everything (except the residents of South Dakota) it will be interesting to see how the legislators decide to proceed. Given the time the Attorney General has had to investigate and the fact that no charges have been filed, it appears that they don't have enough to prosecute Sutton in Criminal court.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

For Your Flying Pleasure

ct80Readers here may or may not remember that I had gone to Boston for a week last month for training on a new piece of screening equipment. In this mornings Argus there is a story on this new piece of baggage screening equipment that will be installed in the next few weeks at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport.


The CT-80 is a CT imaging scanner similar to what is used in the medical field that will be used to scan your checked baggage for explosives and will replace many of the current Explosive Trace Detection units that the TSA currently uses.


What will this mean for the flying public? If you’ve ever flown and found one of those nice little notes from the TSA letting you know they had opened and inspected your luggage you would have discovered that your bag was one of the as many as 60 percent of the bags that receive closer inspection by the TSA. This machine will make that unnecessary. With the TSA not having to perform that many open bag inspections, your wait in the check-in line should be significantly shortened.


What does this mean to me and why am I writing about it? Well as someone that has worked in the electronics field for almost 25 years, it is still cool to get a chance to work on the latest technology out there and this unit definitely fits into that category.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Chalk One Up For Separation Of Church And State

The Supreme Court has dealt a blow to the religious conservatives when it refused to hear a Maine case filed on the behalf of 8 Maine families by the Institute for Justice. The case seeked to overturn a law that prevents the use of state funds to send students to private religious schools.
Last April, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled that restrictions on tuition vouchers are a valid, constitutional enactment. The court said the state attorney general and the legislature were motivated by a desire to respect and comply with the Constitution rather than any religious hostility.
Also taking a hit was President Bush's brother Jeb and Bush's home state of Texas which both filed papers in the case saying that the Maine law is unconstitutionally discriminating against religion.

I would suspect we will see more cases like this being refused or upheld by the SCOTUS especially now that President Bush's attempt to stack the court with conservative judges took a big hit when the Democrats took control of the House.

Exercise In Futility

Mike Mills of Sioux Falls has had enough of the Bush Administration and he wants everybody to know.

He is collecting signatures on a petition that calls for President Bush to be impeached.
"I don't expect anything to come of it," he acknowledged. "I just feel compelled to make these people know they don't speak for me," he said of the president and vice president.
I know how you feel Mike, but maybe you should consider doing what I did instead, start your own blog, it would have the same effect (none) but it does make you feel better...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Johnson Looks Tough To Beat

The latest SurveyUSA job approval rankings have been release and Tim Johnson continues to hover around the top 10 of all US Senators coming in at number 10 this month. John Thune by the way came in at 61 percent which was good for 42nd place.

Knowing what it's like to be around 70 percent, Governor Rounds might want to think real hard about leaving the cushy new Governor's mansion for a run at Johnson in 2008 if in fact the rumors are correct. Just ask Jack Billion and Bruce Whalen what it's like to run against a popular incumbent in this state (Sorry Tom, I said popular).

On a similar note to being popular, Chad over at CCK has a piece on the Stephanie Herseth article in Esquire that highlights something the extremely popular Herseth might want to re-consider if she wishes to stay that way.
[Herseth is] part of the small group of conservative Democrats who continue to support the war in Iraq. "This is one of those things where I've made myself available to work with the administration," she says. "I'm just not looking to make this partisan. Not only will I lose support among my constituency if I do that, but I just don't think it's going to get us where we need to be."
I'm sorry, partisanship has nothing to do with this Ms. Herseth, it's called being on the wrong side of the issue all together. Have you looked at the polls? Your current position could give whomever decides to run against you next time around more ammunition than the just the "pro-life" issue that Whalen continually zeroed in on exclusively this time, especially if things continue to worsen in the next couple of years which seems likely considering Bush's current stance.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Turkey Day And Football Drive By

Just a quick drive by today to wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately one of the things the sdmoderate household won't be able to give thanks for is watching tonights game since Mediacom doesn't carry the NFL network, though you couldn't tell by what they charge, so I will have plenty of time this evening to do the dishes and let my dinner digest. Those whom are lucky enough to see the game, enjoy...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Would Herseth Actually Consider This?

Dave Kranz begins the speculation for the upcoming 2008 and 2010 elections in a piece in this mornings Argus Leader.

Much of Kranz' speculation in the article revolves around the Governor's chair and includes possible candidates and situations including the idea that Mike Rounds might run against Tim Johnson in 2008. That idea has been floating around for months and had even been publicized during the just completed election cycle.

Rounds has tried to downplay this speculation going as far as saying he has just participated in his last run for public office but many in South Dakota's GOP are already floating the idea of Dennis Daugaard, the current Lt. Governor, taking over for Rounds and then running as the incumbent in 2010. This scenario has been debated at length but what is really interesting is the names being floated around on the Democratic side.

The obvious name is Scott Heidepriem, whose party switch and meteoric rise to Democratic Senate leader has many thinking his next major task would be a run for governor. The other name which would surprise me is Stephanie Herseth. Kranz plays up the 3 generational card noting that her grandfather was governor and her father came close to winning that job and believes that she would be willing to be the next Herseth to make a run in 2010.

I have no doubt that Herseth would be an excellent candidate for the Democrats but I have a hard time believing she would be willing to give up a so far very successful US House career to take a stab at a state job. Most politicians aspire to move up the political ladder and I would think if Herseth wished to change job titles, US Senator would be more her style.

Bill Janklow went that route and the speculation is that Mike Rounds is looking to make that move as well. Would family history be enough to steer Herseth towards Pierre in the not to distant future? I wouldn't think so but there must be something to the rumor as her name keeps popping up. Is it a possibility, or is it just wishful thinking on the part of South Dakota Democrats who haven't seen anyone from the party in the governor's mansion in quite awhile? I guess time will tell.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Worst Newspaper

With the recent grumblings by Mike Rounds over his treatment by the Argus Leader which has now gotten to the point of being almost childish on both sides, former South Dakotan John Hinderaker over at Powerline is asking his readers which US newspaper is America's worst.

Is Rounds a Poweline reader? If so I would be willing to bet that the Argus would get his nomination.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Your Liberal Media

This can only be from that bastion of liberalness, Faux News, brought to you as always by Mr. Olberman.



Sour Grapes

I saw Mike Rounds on the news last night whining about Initiated Measure 5 which passed on November 7th. The measure requires that state aircraft be used only for state business.

Immediately after the passage, Rounds stated that he would just stop using the state planes and rent one on his own and have the state reimburse him, stating that it would end up costing taxpayers more.

Now he is using the scare tactic that it not only involves state aircraft but all state owned vehicles which could cause undue hardship on state employees and subject them to the same civil penalties under this new law.

Prefacing this with the fact that I am not a lawyer, it does though seem funny that this concern was never raised during campaign season nor did the ballot explanation from Larry Long express this newest concern. Current state law already had provisions preventing state employees from using state vehicles for personal business, with the notable exception of the governor, and this new law does nothing to change this provision.

Along these lines, Rounds' favorite newspaper is also calling him out on the lastest rant calling it "a petty way of striking back at voters who approved the law - at the expense of state employees".

Adding my 2 cents to the Argus beat down, I believe Rounds is just unhappy that he now has to follow the same rules that all other state employees have had to follow for years and if he doesn't think that separating state business from personal business when traveling is something he can do than maybe he is in the wrong job.

Please just stop whining and get on with the job South Dakotans gave you...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Here Is An Idea, Enforce The Law

There has been a lot of debate lately about the weak campaign finance laws here in South Dakota especially in the wake of Roger Hunt's anonymous $750,000 donor through his shell corporation to the "Yes on 6" campaign.

Hunt at first failed to file a finance report saying he wasn't required to and then when Secretary of State Chris Nelson disagreed, Hunt filed it but refused to identify the sole donor. It is now almost 2 weeks later and as of yet there has been no steps taken to resolve this.

If you thought that this was just an isolated incident you would be wrong. This morning's Argus details numerous candidates that either filed their finance reports late or in a few cases, never filed at all.
The deadline for filing campaign finance reports for legislative candidates in contested June primaries was 5 p.m. on July 3. Secretary of State Chris Nelson says these candidates missed that deadline. After their names is the date they filed.

Sen. Gene Abdallah, R- Sioux Falls 7-6
Sen. Julie Bartling, D- Burke 7-20
Sen. J.P. Duniphan, R- Rapid City 7-18
Rep. Burt Elliott, D- Aberdeen 7-28
Steve Emery, McLaughlin, Democrat 8-2
Robert Gleich, Utica, Democrat 7-12
Richard Gourley, Sioux Falls, Republican, 7-13
John Graham, Mansfield, Democrat 7-19
Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark 7-5
Dale Gunderson, Rapid City, Republican 7-10
Rep. Jeff Haverly, R-Rapid City 7-5
Richard Henkle, Edgemont, Democrat 8-2
Paul Joseph, Wood, Democrat 7-28
Diane Kastner, Kennebec, Democrat 7-11
Rep. Ted Klaudt, R-Walker 7-7
Maurice LaRue, Sturgis, Republican 7-12
Gary Loudner, Black Hawk, Democrat 7-18
Leah Lutheran, Rapid City, Democrat 8-1
Sen. Garry Moore, D-Yankton, 8-7
Sen. Bill Napoli, R- Rapid City, 7-5
Paul Nielson, Sioux Falls, Democrat 7-24
Mahylen Niles, Chamberlain, Democrat 7-5
Kristi Noem, Castlewood, Republican 7-7
David Reis, Oacoma Democrat 7-20
John Simpson, Hamill, Democrat 7-10
Duane Spader, Sioux Falls, Democrat 7-24
Faith Spotted Eagle, Lake Andes, Democrat 9-8
Theresa Spry, Rapid City, Democrat 7-12
Sherman Wright, Mission, Democrat 8-21
Jessica Nathanson, Sioux Falls Democrat 7-31
Craig Steensland, Sioux Falls Democrat 7-10
Paula Long Fox, Rapid City, Democrat Not filed yet
Source: S.D. Secretary of State
Also mentioned was State Senator Garry Moore whom this past summer ran and eventually won his bid for the State House. Moore intentionally failed to file his finance report just to see what would happen.
"I wanted to see what would happen,'' Moore said. "They never enforce that filing law. There are people from two years ago who haven't filed yet. I did it on purpose.''
Many do believe that the laws we have in place are weak and most also think that the public needs to have access to these reports in order to know where the money is coming from. This includes Nelson.
"My observation is that there have been a large number of candidates who don't take the deadline very seriously,'' Nelson said. He said Moore told him about deliberately withholding his report.

"In order for the public to know where campaign finances are coming from, those deadlines need to be met,'' Nelson said.
So it seems everyone is in agreement, we need this information. Considering this is the case, even though the misdemeanor charge that accompanies failing to file is just a slap on the wrist, why aren't any of the numerous candidates that have broken the law been facing theses penalties?

The laws are weak and they need to be strengthened but why have a law on the books in the first place if no one is willing to enforce it?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

End Of An Era?

"We lost a special designation," said Bob Meister, Minnehaha County highway superintendent.

I'm not sure it was so special but South Dakota was the only state that still had an interstate the went from 4 lane concrete to a two lane gravel road. That distinction recently came to end when the northern end of I229 was paved but what is so special about that? Showing how backwoods our road system is?

Now if the state would stop chip-sealing many of our roads I might actually go longer than a month or two without getting another chip in my windshield. It might be good for the auto glass companies in our state but it sure sucks for those of us that have to get our windshields fixed or replaced several times a year.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Your Tax Dollars At Work

As if you needed more proof that the government shouldn't be involved in morality based programs.

From a pamphlet distrubted by federally funded abstinence program.
an abstinence program distributed pamphlets that suggested that the HIV virus can pass through condoms because latex is porous.
And from a federally funded pregnancy center.
A report says there were three major topics of misinformation: first, the purported relationship between abortion and breast cancer; second, the purported relationship between abortion and infertility; and third, the purported relationship between abortion and mental illness.

According to the investigators, in one instance, a center compared the post-traumatic stress of an abortion to that seen in soldiers returning from Vietnam and said that it "is something that anyone who's had an abortion is sure to suffer from."
It's not like the people seeking this advice don't have enough to worry about already, they now have to deal with outright false information, all coming from programs American taxpayers are funding.

Must See TV

buckflag As some of you may or not know, I spent my formative years growing up in the heart of Buckeye country in Northern Ohio. Many of my friends attended "The Ohio State University" and I have been a diehard fan from the day I could sit up and see a television.


Tomorrow the Buckeyes face the hated Michigan Wolverines in what many are calling the game of the decade. For the first time in the 102 year history of the rivalry, these 2 undefeated teams meet ranked 1 and 2 with the winner securing their slot in Arizona for the national championship game.


So for anyone that is a college football fan, get that big screen fired up, a six pack of your favorite beverage in the refrigerator, and be prepared for the game of the year and after the Buckeyes whip the Wolverines you can start the debate on whom they will face in the National Championship game.


P.S. I couldn’t overlook the fact that the greatest coach in Michigan history passed away today. Goodbye Bo, you will be missed but now you and your mentor Woody Hayes can watch the game together.

Passing The Torch

Now that Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton is retiring, you might think that John Thune's DM&E project would have smoother sailing, but you would be wrong. Minnesota's other Senator is taking over where Dayton left off.
WASHINGTON - Sen. Norm Coleman said Thursday that he will oppose an expansion plan by the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad unless the Department of Transportation comes up with a plan to address the concerns of the Mayo Clinic.

"I need to soon see a mitigation plan," Coleman, R-Minn., said in a conference call with reporters. "If there isn't a plan, then I'll do everything in my prerogatives as senator to stop this project, either through the appropriation process or the legislation process."

Coleman said he wants to see a plan by the end of the year.
On a related note South Dakota's esteemed Senator, John Thune, who is leading the effort for the DM&E expansion project has been awarded the "Porker of the Month" award by Citizens Against Government Waste.
Washington, D.C. Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) Porker of the Month for helping to secure a record $2.3 billion federal loan for a railroad company.

The loan guarantee from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) would allow the Dakota, Minnesota, and Eastern Railroad (DM&E) to expand and improve a rail line that is used primarily to transport coal from Wyoming to Minnesota. In apparent anticipation of the loan, Sen. Thune was instrumental in increasing the FRA’s loan guarantee authority from $3.5 billion to $35 billion in the 2005 Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act. DM&E paid Thune $220,000 in 2003 and 2004 to lobby for the loan before his election to the Senate.
Somehow I don't think Senator Thune will be at the awards ceremony to pick up this "honor".

(h/t - CCK)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

To Wait Or Not To Wait

Some seem to think the Democrats are not aware of what they are getting themselves into because of South Dakota Senator Dan Sutton's decision to resign his current seat and then assume his newly elected seat next January.
And I can't tell you how much that the Democrats commenting in this matter have no idea how much they DON'T want to deal with it this next session. Why?

Because while the questions in the open session won't be of the exact nature as the editorial cartoon I drew above - it will be ugly. The discussion will be lurid. The nature of the debate will be scandalous. And this will all be at the same time they're trying to pass laws.

But, that's the path that Senator Sutton has set them on. Good luck. You're going to need it.
And this would be any different than the special session which was already set to be open to the public? This would be any different than last session when they spent way too much time debating issues such as abortion instead of what is should have been discussed?

If Sutton has done something so bad why has Larry Long had this matter on his desk since last winter without bringing any charges?

At worst all I can see coming out of this is Sutton being hit with rules violations which still could lead to his being kicked out of the Senate but his chances are much better in January than they would have been in November and why should his Democratic collegues be unhappy that this will be thrown in their laps? That is part of the job they asked for when they ran for the position in the first place.

Why has Sutton refused to not cave in? Well maybe he feels like he has done nothing wrong and if you go by Larry Long's lack of action on the matter it would seem he is correct. If infact Sutton has broken the law why are we still waiting almost 10 months later for some criminal action towards Sutton?

It appears Sutton wants his day in the court of public opinion because it looks like he has nothing waiting for him in a court of law and whether it happens now or next session, he is set on it happening.

If South Dakotans want this issue to go away just urge Larry Long to come out and either charge Sutton or clear him. The voters in his district want him to get his day as they felt strongly enough about it to re-elect him even after these allegations came out so don't blame Sutton for wanting to clear his name as in politics, it's just about all you have.

Pelosi Loses Her First Fight Before Even Taking Power

It seems that Nancy Pelosi can't even get a break from those in her own party as CNN is now reporting that the Democrats in the House have chose Steny Hoyer as the new House Majority Leader.

Pelosi, who is the women that Republicans "love to hate" isn't getting any love on her side of the isle as her endorsed candidate for the job, John Murtha didn't even come close in his bid for the 2nd in command in the House losing 149-86.

So much for party unity, is this a sign of how her leadership will be once the Democrats actually take power?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Posting And New Toys

Sirius StilettoPosting will be light for a few days as I am again on the road in Rapid City but I thought I would do a quick post regarding a new toy I just got.


Many I am sure have heard that Sony has just released their new Playstation 3 though they seem to be having a problem producing them in large enough numbers to meet the demand.


Along those same lines, my job requires me to spend many hours on the road and I had been patiently waiting for Sirius Radio's new portable system to finally be released as it was also having production problems. The radio called the Stiletto is the company's first self contained unit that allows you to listen to their offerings from just about anywhere.


To my surprise I noticed yesterday while in Watertown that the radio finally had come out. I plunked down my hard earned cash on the SL100 which includes 2 gigs of storage to allow you to save up to 100 hours of Sirius programming and to upload your own MP3's and use it as an MP3 player. What's also cool about the SL100 is that it is Wi-Fi capable which allows you to hook up to the Sirius service via the internet from anywhere there is a Wi-Fi hotspot.


Well for the past 2 days I've had some time to play with it and I must say that I am now ready to dump my Ipod. The Wi-fi works like a charm as I was able to hook into the network at the Watertown airport while sitting in my truck out in the parking lot and this morning I converted all my Ipod files to MP3's and loaded them on the unit and used it all the way to Rapid City today. As soon as I can get the home and car kit this unit makes regular radio a thing of the past.


Truly awesome!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Silly Me

I write about the procedures of the special session scheduled for the week after Thanksgiving, hit the road for work and when I get back I find out that there will no longer be one.

Dan Sutton pulled what can be termed a fast one this morning when he resigned from the Senate which made the special session no longer necessary. What was a bit sneaky was the fact that Sutton, who won re-election last week, only resigned from his current term and plans to keep newly won seat for the next session.

What this effectively means is that this issue will be put on hold until the next legislative session starts in January and when it convenes it will include 5 more Democrats than there would have been if it was held during the current lame duck Senate.

PP over at the South Dakota War College thinks this puts his fellow Democrats in a tough position but from Sutton's point of view I believe this is his best chance at saving his political neck. Depending on what actually happened in that hotel room in Pierre , the 5 seat increase could mean the difference between a censure and expulsion.

One thing can be said of Sutton, he sure knows how to play the game of politics...

The Sutton Special Session

Details are now emerging on the special session called to investigate Senator Dan Sutton on November 27th.

A nine member committee will ask questions to the involved parties and then present the results of their questioning to the full Senate which will then vote on the findings.

One of three things will happen: Sutton could get expelled with a two-thirds vote. He could get censored or disciplined with a 60-percent vote. Or the senate could clear his name with a majority vote.

There is no timetable as to how long the proceedings will last but it was announced that they will be open to the public.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Long Is On The Case

South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long looks to be just as busy on post election finance irregularities as he was on pre-election ballot explanations. From KELO:
A complaint about an anonymous $750,000 donation to the unsuccessful campaign to ban most abortions in South Dakota is being reviewed by Attorney General Larry Long.

Long is also reviewing a complaint about anonymous donations of $471,000 to the unsuccessful campaign to outlaw video lottery. Long says complaints were filed with his office and with Secretary of State Chris Nelson.

The $750,000 donation in the abortion campaign was made to a private corporation set up by state Representative Roger Hunt of Brandon. Hunt says the donor doesn't want to be identified because of fear about possible violence.

Nelson insists that state law is clear and the donor must be revealed.
Maybe Long can finish up before the November 27th start of the special legislative session so that they can look into Roger Hunt's shenanigans after they finish up with the Dan Sutton investigation...

Let The Speculation Begin

Even while Mike Rounds begins preparation for his second term in the South Dakota Governors mansion, speculation continues as to what is next for him. During the election Rounds stated several times that he has no plans beyond serving his full term in Pierre and after he won, he stated that he was finished seeking political office. Does anyone believe this?

Apparently others are having a hard time believing this as well. Speculation continues as to what Rounds will do in the not too distant future.
Remember, the public seems to have a built-in acceptance for a politician's right to change his mind. And legislators and constituents know by now that consistency is not one of Rounds' strong points.

It's possible that after Tuesday's GOP losses, Rounds will be pushed hard to challenge Johnson. That started well before last week's voting. The national GOP talent hunters have Rounds at the top of their list.

I personally would not be surprised if Rounds does a 180 and decides to run against Tim Johnson in 2008 as right now he is the only Republican with enough name recognition to give the popular Democrat much of a fight. Dave Kranz also mentions other possible Johnson challengers including Steve Kirby who has already lost one run at Governor and cowboy hat wearing newly elected commissioner for School and Public Lands Jarrod Johnson but neither would carry the weight on the Republican ticket as Mike Rounds would.

Speaking of name recognition, Dave Kranz furthers the speculation in his article into La-La Land when he talks about possible challengers for Stephanie Herseth next time around.
This might surprise you, but influential Republicans say they are enamored with Leslee Unruh, leader of the Vote Yes For Life campaign. They consider her knowledgeable and lacking in fear of anyone - qualities that make her ready for the prime time in the political arena and the right person to challenge Herseth.

Surprise me? How about floors me! Does anyone actually think that Leslee Unruh would even get as many votes as Herseth's latest challenger Bruce Whalen? I can see it now, she loses by 70 points but refuses to admit defeat because she has God on her side so she must have won.

He is right about one thing, when one is mired deeply in their own alternative reality, the lack of fear is not unheard of but in her case is that a good thing?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Reality And Leslie Unruh

Leslie and reality would be a perfect example of an oxymoron in the next publication of Webster’s and here is further proof from a KELO interview on election night long after the vote on the Abortion Ban had been decided.





(h/t Todd over at South Dakota Watch)

Launch

I got this photo from an emailer and thought I would share it as it is way cool.

launch.png

What is it? Well it’s not one of North Korea’s missile test launches but instead it is a picture of the September shuttle launch taken from the International Space Station.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Post Election Bump?

As long as that bump is downward. President Bush's job approval has fallen to 31 percent in the latest newsweek poll.
Bill Clinton’s lowest rating during his presidency was 36 percent; Bush’s father’s was 29 percent, and Ronald Reagan’s was 35 percent. Jimmy Carter’s and Richard Nixon’s lows were 28 and 23 percent, respectively. (Just 24 approve of outgoing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s job performance; and 31 percent approve of Vice President Dick Cheney’s.)

Worst of all, most Americans are writing off the rest of Bush’s presidency; two-thirds (66 percent) believe he will be unable to get much done, up from 56 percent in a mid-October poll; only 32 percent believe he can be effective. That’s unfortunate since 63 percent of Americans say they’re dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country; just 29 percent are satisfied, reports the poll of 1,006 adults conducted Thursday and Friday nights.

Be careful George, lame ducks are easy targets and we all know how good Dick Cheney's aim is.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Suggestion For A Ballot Initiative In 2008

I have a suggestion for an initiative for the 2008 ballot. Christmas displays cannot be brought out until after Thanksgiving! Each year businesses start the Christmas season earlier and earlier and this year is no exception.

And for all those houses I saw on my trip to Aberdeen yesterday, I am all for putting up your Christmas lights early while the weather is a bit warmer, as I do that myself, but please refrain from turning them on until after your Thanksgiving turkey has had a chance to digest!

Bill Just Doesn't Get It

The South Dakota Jailer-In-Chief Bill Stegmeier just refuses to face reality after his ill-written, ill-conceived, and just plain ridiculous Amendment E went down in a ball of flames on Tuesday.

He is now commissioning a statewide poll to test just how legitimate the 89-11 percent drubbing his Amendment took in the election actually was.

"It will be the type of polling used when there's a possibility or suspicion of voter fraud, and evidently this type of polling is going on all over the country," Stegmeier said.

And guess what? If he see's any ray of hope from his polling, he promises to be back with similar legislation.

"We'd turn it into a citizens oversight commission, instead of two judges, three lawyers, and other politically connected people appointed by the governor," Stegmeier said. "That could go a long way in addressing judicial misconduct, but that's just a possibility under consideration."

Let's hope he uses a different polling company than he did during the campaign as their results showed Amendment E passing by a decent majority and then on election day almost 295,000 people voted against it out of over 330,000 votes cast. But then again if you listen to him there must have been voter fraud in each and every district.

It's called paranoia Bill, just get over it...

Thursday, November 9, 2006

A Morning-After Pill for Referred Law 6

Election Opinion Piece from Sam Kephart via the email inbox:

The people of South Dakota have spoken. Referred Law 6 (aka HB1215) has gone down to defeat 56% to 44%. The final statewide vote tally was 185,948 vs. 148,666 *, a decisive victory for the ‘No’s’. However, if we parse the results a little more closely, something else becomes very clear. The moderates, who are as a group, a non-entity in South Dakota, decided this particular election. Voters cast 334,614 total votes regarding Referred Law 6. I think we can safely say at least 50,192 (15%) of those voters are independents or moderates from either major party. Had just 20,000 of those citizens said “Yes”, Referred Law 6 would have passed, albeit with a small margin. So, what was missing?

First, despite the extensive efforts of Representative Larry Rhoden, Speaker of the State House, and the South Dakota Task Force to Study Abortion (I wonder how many moderates were on that panel), HB 1215, was not well drafted, unless you are an arch-conservative Christian Republican or Democrat. Supporters adamantly insisted the law already had sufficient language to provide relief for instances of rape, incest, and the health of the mother. Obviously the folks in the middle disagreed. Over the last three months, I’ve received dozens of e-mails and have had many conversations with moderates of all flavors across the state. Many told me they were “pro-life”, yet they perceived the new law as being too restrictive and not inclusive of enough clearly stated, as opposed to imputed, “trap doors” for the exceptions already mentioned.

Second, whether true or not, there were a significant number of people I spoke with who perceived the Yes on 6 campaign to be an attempt at a moral cram down on South Dakota. Since most of reality is perception, this was also very damaging and likely gave pause to soft R’s and Independent voters.

Third, some of the tactics used by certain supporters of Yes on 6, like parking a truck, with billboard images of aborted fetuses, in the quadrangle of Black Hills State University on the day of their on-campus absentee vote, just don’t make sense. They hark back to the aggressive politics of Operation Rescue and just plain create a lot of ill will and voter blow-back. Definitely not a smart way to court moderates (or anyone with a sense of taste or public comportment), but I doubt that was even a consideration.

Fourth, it is extremely curious to me that Governor Mike Rounds received 207,000 votes, 58,334 more than Yes on 6. Here’s the man who proudly signed HB1215 into law, with the hopes that it would precipitate a major test of Roe v. Wade at the U.S. Supreme Court, beating his own endorsed legislation by a 39% margin. What’s that about? Obviously, there was a major disconnect with the voters somewhere. I wonder if it had anything to do with the fact that the Republican Party publicly and emphatically put down any possible outreach to moderates in the platform and resolutions it adopted during last June’s state convention.

On the evening of the day that occurred, Friday, June 23rd, I had a private moment with our Governor. He had heard about the party’s refusal to adopt any moderating language into their resolution endorsing HB1215... and he winced just a little when I told him how harshly and vehemently the matter had been treated on the floor. He told me he was sorry that that had occurred and that he thought it was a mistake. He went on to say that he felt moderates needed to be brought into the political dialogue on this subject. Obviously, that message never got to the Yes on 6 leaders in any meaningful way.

Last, it is interesting to note that all of the Mike Rounds’ campaign ads that I viewed on TV were upbeat, positive, reflective, and expectant. I must admit they left me with a warm fuzzy feeling for our Governor and his stated accomplishments. I wish I could say the same about the commercials for Yes on 6. They left me feeling carpet bombed and emotionally shell-shocked.

* All election data came from the South Dakota Secretary of State’s official election results.

Sam Kephart is CEO of Virtual Acumen Corp., a Spearfish-based creative agency specializing in digital media and marketing.

What's Next For The Pro-Life Movement?

The common belief among many is that the Abortion Ban failed because it lacked exceptions for rape and incest and that if it included those exceptions, South Dakotans would have passed the legislation with around the same 55-45 margin that it eventually failed by. That might have been the case, and if so the pro-life movement might have missed their last best golden opportunity to forward their attempt at overturning Roe. Why? Well several things happened on the way to November 7th that could make their fight much more difficult the next time around.

First off here in South Dakota, several tactics by the Vote Yes for Life campaign might have turned off some of their supporters and angered those that might have been sitting on the fence. When first passed last February, supporters heralded the bill for not having any exceptions and then when they discovered that the fact that a lack of rape and incest exceptions would cause problems, they changed direction and tried to show that it did. Finally their insistance on using graphic images and symbols at polling places and delivering newspapers wrapped in "Vote Yes" bags have many believing that the movement to get voters on their side had become too radical.

After it became apparent that their attempt to ban abortions was going to be defeated, the faces of the Vote Yes campaign refused to accept the results and still haven’t conceded. South Dakota may be a "red state" and as Roger Hunt continues to proclaim, "a pro-life state" but even if that is true, we also know how to face reality. Admit you lost and move on!

Speaking of Roger Hunt, the Senator that introduced this legislation last session, he is still undecided as to whether he will introduce this legislation again in February when the legislature next convenes. According to the KELO story though, his supporters are again pushing for the no-exceptions version which has already been proven to be a lost cause.


Hunt’s influence in Pierre might have also taken a bit of a hit. He is currently involved in a campaign financing scandal that has a shell company he setup being used to funnel $750,000 to the Vote Yes campaign and then not filing a campaign finance report. Once the donation came to light, Hunt finally filed a report but refuses to name the one and only donor as is required by state law. Adding to Hunt’s legal issues, voters decided to change the makeup of the Senate which could make getting another abortion bill through the legislature more difficult.


Finally national politics might make the pro-life cause more difficult. The main hope of the supporters of the South Dakota ban was that HB1215 would pass here and then be fought in the courts eventually leading to the Supreme Court, where the current make-up would have changed enough to make overturning Roe a possibility. Up until Tuesday, SCOTUS had already picked up one conservative judge that might have been sympathetic to their cause and with a GOP controlled Congress and White House plus a least one current judge probably getting ready to retire, adding another seemed like a real possibility.


Then a funny thing happened. Voters nationwide passed a stem cell bill in Missouri, voted down a marriage amendment in Arizona, and put the Democrats in charge of both the House and the Senate. Now all of a sudden, the prospects of getting another conservative judge on to the Supreme Court have been seriously hurt, and voters across the country are starting to move back towards the center.


What this means to the pro-life movement still remains to be seen but it appears that the 12 year drift to the far right in America has all of a sudden taken a left turn towards the middle. If that trend continues, the pro-life agenda might be replaced in state and national politics with other issues like heath care and education and all I can say to that is it’s about time!

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

AP Projects Webb Winner In Virginia

The AP via MSNBC has projected that Democrat James Webb has defeated Incumbent George "Macaca" Allen which would give the Democrats full control in Congress. Of course Allen has yet to concede even thought many are calling him to do so.

So the "thumpin" as President Bush so eloquently described it yesterday is complete. I guess now he will be forced to work with the Democrats instead of against them if he has any aspirations of preserving any kind of legacy in his final 2 years.

Jerauld County Democrat Wins Even Though She Died 2 Months Ago

How do you know that it might be time to re-think your political aspirations? Maybe losing to someone that passed away 2 months earlier would be a sign.
PIERRE, South Dakota - A woman who died two months ago won a county commissioner's race in Jerauld County on Tuesday.

Democrat Marie Steichen, of Woonsocket, got 100 votes, defeating incumbent Republican Merlin Feistner, of Woonsocket, who had 64 votes.

Jerauld County Auditor Cindy Peterson said she believes the county board will have to meet to appoint a replacement for Steichen. Peterson said she'll check with the state's attorney to be sure that's the process.

Lost In The Shuffle?

Pretty much going under the radar during yesterdays election results was the fact that Dan Sutton, whom is headed for an investigation by his counterparts in the Senate during a special session of the South Dakota legislature on November 27th, won his re-election bid for the District 8 Senate seat.

Even with allegations that he groped an 18 year old page still as yet to be resolved, Sutton received 57 percent of the vote and unless something comes out of the special session later this month, he will begin his fourth term next February.

So much for my earlier comments that no matter what the outcome, his political career was over. Thankfully we can chalk one up to the "innocent until proven guilty" provision in our Constitution.

Heads Are Starting To Roll

Well it only took several years, numerous calls from from just about everybody outside of the White House, and a Democratic landslide in the mid-terms.

CNN is reporting that embattled Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is "quitting".
"Don Rumsfeld has been a superb leader during a time of change," Bush said Wednesday. "Yet he also appreciates the value of bringing in a fresh perspective during a critical period in this war."

Geez, like no one has said that a fresh perspective is needed over at the DOD lately... Maybe the GOP could have done a little better yesterday if Rummy had done this a bit sooner as he has been a lightning rod for the problems in Iraq for months. Does anyone else think that the Bush White House should work a bit on their timing?

Deja Vu All Over Again

Remember 1994? Apparently the GOP didn’t and as the old saying goes, those that don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it. The groundswell of discontent that led to the Republican take over in 1994 has again re-appeared and this time the Republicans were on the other side.

Say what you will about what you think is next in our government which now has the Democrats squarely in control of the house and even possibly the Senate, the doom and gloom being brought forth by the right after their election night massacre can be traced back to one issue. The GOP lost sight of what put them in control in the first place with their refusal to be honest to the American public. When they decided that the few in control of the party i.e. George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove were always right and the majority of Americans were either wrong or just didn’t get it, they left themselves wide open when all their lies and mistakes finally came to light. Both constructive dialog and compromise became four letter words.

They campaigned on honesty and family values even while numerous scandals came to light, they campaigned on being tough on terror while getting the country involved in a war that had nothing to do with fighting terrorism and by some accounts has even made that fight tougher. The one conflict they did get us into that actually was being fought for the right reasons was terribly planned and even 4 years later is still in question.

You had a once extremely popular President that by the time this year’s mid-terms rolled around had become so unpopular that even the most endangered Republicans ran away in fear when he offered to campaign on their behalf.

Speaker Pelosi might not be something you want to deal with, but now that you do, don’t blame the Democrats. The GOP had control of both Houses of Congress and the White House but yet you still let it get to this point. Will the Democrats do any better? Time will tell but the GOP had plenty of chances and as the American public showed with their votes last night, they just didn’t do a good job.

The Aftermath

Here is the final results from yesterdays election. Some interesting races and what could be called upsets including the current scourge of the GOP, Republican Stan Adelstein winning again even though he wasn't running as his chosen and funded Democrat, Tom Katus, beat Republican and outspoken abortion ban supporter Elli Schwiesow. Katus' victory was just one of the victories for Democrats, whom though still aren't a force in South Dakota politics, are getting closer to becoming one in Pierre as they did manage to win a few they weren't expected to get.

As I mentioned last night the J.A.I.L.er's are already starting up with the conspiracy charges.
Does South Dakota 's government expect the people to believe that 90% of them approve of the ongoing fraudulent, destructive, unlawful, and unconstitutional judicial opinions? Nonsense!

South Dakota government has a much more effective and sinister way to steal the peoples election than that which they have already used, (by defrauding the people of the true meaning and intent of Amendment E, all done with the illegal use of public funds), and that is to change the tally at public expense, after the individual votes have been cast--either by adding ballots en masse (ballot box "stuffing"), or by reporting a false count.

Ballot stuffing? Sounds like reality is a concept that these folks just haven't figured out yet!

An the survey says...

US House
100% Reporting
Herseth - 69%
Whalen - 29%
Rudebusch - 2%

Governor
100% Reporting
Rounds - 62%
Billion - 36%
Gerber - 1%
Willis - 1%

Referred Law 6 Abortion Ban
100% Reporting
Yes - 44%
No - 56%

Measure 7 Video Lottery
100% Reporting
No - 67%
Yes - 33%

Amendment C Define Marriage
100% Reporting
Yes - 52%
No - 48%

Amendment D Property Tax
100% Reporting
No - 80%
Yes - 20%

Amendment E Judicial Accountability
100% Reporting
No - 89%
Yes - 11%

And here's some results from several Senate races of interest

District 13
92% Reporting
Heidepriem - 54%
Kelly - 46%

District 30
100% Reporting
Linz - 61%
Ratlif - 39%

District 32
100% Reporting
Katus - 53%
Schwiesow - 47%

District 35
100% Reporting
Napoli - 53%
Spry - 47%

The abortion ban may have been voted down but out of all the Senate Democrats that voted to pass the ban only Michael Kroger, D-Dell Rapids lost last night while Dan Sutton, D-Flandreau, Frank Kloucek, D-Scotland, Julie Bartling, D-Burke, Jim Peterson, D-Revillo, and Gil Koetzle, D-Sioux Falls all won.

Finally, I was sorry to see that friend of the site Catherine Ratliff was unsuccessful in her bid for the District 30 seat but I do want to congratulate her on a great run. And it is also a shame to see that South Dakotans decided that discrimination is ok when they voted to add it to our constitution in the form of the Marriage Amendment.

Will video lottery opponents try for a fifth time next year as they seem to have a hard time getting around that meaning of "no" concept? I am also taking odds on whether we'll be voting on the abortion ban again as soon as next year as most of the major supporters are still around. But I bet that their next attempt will include rape and incest exceptions. So what are your thoughts? Surprises?

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Political Quote Of The Day

Jon Schaff from South Dakota Politics had this one.

Random thought: If you are Bruce Whalen, do you call Stephanie Herseth to concede? I mean, won't she pick up the phone and say, "Bruce who?"

I will close this evenings festivities on that note but if you wish to keep up with the results overnight KELO has the feed from the Secretary of State.

One more note, Planned Parenthood seems confident that the abortion ban has been overturned as they have sent out a text message to their subscribers calling it a victory.

More thoughts tomorrow.

I Think We Can Safely Say Amendment D Is Dead

The proposed plan to overhaul the way South Dakota collects property taxes can pretty much be considered DOA. The latest numbers have it down 83 percent to 17 percent. Maybe the fact that the legislature would have had to fix numerous holes in the initial legislation or maybe South Dakotan's whom are already some of the lowest taxed in the nation didn't see a need for this legislation.

Morality Watch Part 2

Referred Law 6 Abortion Ban
31% Reporting
Yes - 44%
No - 56%

Amendment C Define Marriage
31% Reporting
Yes - 51%
No - 49%

It appears that Roger Hunt needed to illegally funnel a few hundred thousand more into the Vote Yes for Life campaign as the abortion ban looks like it will be overturned though it isn't quite a done deal. On the other morality front, the amendment to add discrimination to our constitution in the form of the Gay Marriage Amendment is still too close to call.

4th Time Not A Charm

Though only 24 percent of the precincts have reported so far, it appears likely that the video lottery opponents will fail to get it overturned again. Currently the totals stand at 68 percent in favor of keeping it versus 32 percent wanting to outlaw it.

In an even worse landslide, Amendment E is shooting for the record for the most one sided loss in South Dakota history losing with 90 percent of the voters realizing just how bad of an amendment it actually is.

I wonder what is going through Bonnie Russell and Bill Stegmier's mind now, maybe another lawsuit because as SD Watch reported earlier today, one of their supporters had a hard time voting.

The sister of an attorney friend of ours went to her Sioux Fall polling place only to be told she already voted. Fortunately, she was allowed to vote after much hassle but then election officials said 'well your brother already voted.'

Brother lives in another state and has for Years. The woman will contact officials tomorrow. Contact us for details.

Who knows because when your only down by a 70 percent margin, that one vote would really make a difference...Surely a conspiracy.

Races Called

The AP has called the US House race for Stephanie Herseth and the Governors race in favor of Mike Rounds.

US House
12% Reporting
X Herseth - 72%
Whalen - 26%
Rudebusch - 1%

Governor
12% Reporting
X Rounds - 61%
Billion - 37%
Gerber - 1%
Willis - 1%

Morality Watch

The latest from the morality watch this evening

Referred Law 6 Abortion Ban
6% Reporting
Yes - 44%
No - 56%

Amendment C Define Marriage
6% Reporting
Yes - 51%
No - 49%

Early Results

Latest Results with 1 - 3% of the precincts reporting. (Check mark next to name means projected winner)

US House
Herseth - 70%
Whalen - 29%
Rudebusch - 1%

Governor
Rounds - 68%
Billion - 31%
Gerber - 1%
Willis - 1%

Referred Law 6 Abortion Ban
Yes - 51%
No - 49%

Measure 7 Video Lottery
No - 68%
Yes - 32%

Amendment C Define Marriage
Yes - 57%
No - 43%

Amendment D Property Tax
No - 85%
Yes - 15%

Amendment E Judicial Accountability
No - 78%
Yes - 22%

Still early yet but it appears Amendment D is in trouble as is Amendment E

Let The Counting Begin

8 pm has come and gone so now the polls are officially closed statewide. Stay tuned for results as they come in.

A Slap At The Party

Part of Ron Volesky's concession speech contained a slap at the South Dakota Democratic Party which when I read it sort of sounded more like sour grapes than anything else.

The difference in the outcome of the campaign was due to the fact that Mr. Long had a Republican Party behind him that was willing to help finance his campaign while I received no financial support from the Democratic Party.

But after I read more on this from Todd Epp over at South Dakota Watch who knows much more about this subject than I ever will, it is sounding like this problem is the norm for the Democratic leadership in our state.

My party, the S.D. Democratic Party, needs to look hard at its leadership and its approach. I'm not sure what else Jack Billion received from the party after my departure, but prior to mid-September, it was a pittance. You can't win if you don't fund your candidates and provide meaningful support. I can't blame Ron for being bitter.

I had some real concerns at least when it came to the Billion campaign as I had asked several times for a yard sign to break up the monotony of all the Rounds signs I have in my neighborhood and each request went unanswered even with a donation forwarded their way. At first I chalked it up to the Billion campaign not being too concerned with my little neck of the woods but as time went by, the stories of the campaign funding crunch became more widespread.

I, like Todd, never felt that Jack was the problem as I met and talked to him early in his campaign and got the feeling that he could do the impossible if he ever got the support needed to run a campaign against Rounds and his money machine. Don't get me wrong I am still holding out a glimmer of hope that somehow Billion can win, but if he did, it wouldn't be because of any support from the party.

If Volesky's run at Attorney General is any indication of how the SDDP runs things, we have nothing more to look forward to than business as usual and that is a shame.

A Little National News

The National Review has some early exit polling results and if they pan out, it could be a long night for the GOP.
War
Approve 41
Disapprove 57Democrats leading:

Virginia (52-47)
Rhode Island (53-46)
Pennsylvania (57-42)
Ohio (57-43)
New Jersey (52-45)
Montana (53-46)
Missouri (50-48)
Maryland (53-46)

Republicans leading:

Tennessee (51-48)
Arizona (50-46)

How's This For An Early Concession

At 5 pm, 2 hours before the polls even closed, Democratic challenger for South Dakota Attorney General Ron Volesky conceded to incumbent Larry Long.

“I want to congratulate Larry Long on his victory. He ran a brilliant campaign and I was told Mr. Long had a some really nice TV ads. The difference in the outcome of the campaign was due to the fact that Mr. Long had a Republican Party behind him that was willing to help finance his campaign while I received no financial support from the Democratic Party.

Not that there was ever any doubt but don't you think at least waiting until the polls had closed would have been better?

Evening Plans And Election Silly Season Wrap Up

As I mentioned in my post this morning I am planning on doing some limited live blogging this evening once the election results start coming in. I am mainly going to concentrate on several of the ballot initiatives and the state wide seats including the Billion-Rounds race and the Herseth-Whalen contest.

The main ballot initiatives I will be focusing on are of course the abortion ban and Amendment C which seeks to place discrimination into our state constitution plus I am also tracking the ridiculous Amendment E and also the property tax rollback, Amendment D. It should be a very interesting evening and overnight as I am sure some of the final results on some of these initiatives won't become official until late tonight or tomorrow.

In regards to the governors race, Jack Billion has again won the Moderate from South Dakota very unofficial poll 57-36 percent which is in total opposition to the latest so-called official polls that were recently released. Any guess as to the party affiliation of the majority my 2 or 3 readers?

As I am writing this we are still 30 minutes away from the polls closing here East River and an hour and a half from them closing out west. I am predicting a Rounds win, Herseth win, Referred Law 6 being voted down, Amendment C losing, Amendment E losing and Amendment D passing. What are your thoughts?

D-Day

All the polling is over, all the commercials have run. Today is the day we as South Dakotan's get the chance to determine who will represent us and which issues should become law. No matter what your party, no matter what your views, please exercise your right and vote. The weather could be record breaking so that will not be an excuse.

After you have voted, consider coming back here this evening as I will be semi-live blogging the election results, at least for part of the evening, for some of the races and issues that have statewide interest.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Lock Your Doors and And Stay Away From Your Windows

Especially if you live in the Pierre area. Dick Cheney is coming to South Dakota for his first hunting trip since he "accidentally" shot his hunting companion. Cheney will be flying into Pierre tomorrow (election day?) for several days of target practice, oops hunting, at a local private lodge.

Discrimination

Do we really want to put discrimination into our constitution? Amendment C will do just that. What's next painting large "A's" on the foreheads of adulterers, or maybe burning witches at the stake? Sound silly? Well these are all instances from the past that at the time seemed like good ideas brought forward based on religious beliefs. Amendment C is no different, it's just the latest incarnation of these policies.

Vote no on discrimination...

Politics And Business

Of course this is a topic that won't have much effect of tomorrows election but it has been rolling around in my head for months. One thing that has really bothered me about several of the initiatives and amendments on this years ballot has to do with changing something just for the sake of change without any included plans for the voids caused by these changes.

Amendment D for instance seeks to totally revamp the way South Dakota collects property taxes. I am sure most readers have heard all the rhetoric coming from both sides of the issue including how our current system is confusing and needs changing or how it could hurt young first time house buyers. I assume most voters will decide on how to vote based mainly on their situation and how it might affect them but one thing regarding this issue that is rarely mentioned is how it will require our legislature to have to fix up to a dozen holes that will be created if it passes.

Even more concerning is initiated measure 7 which seeks to outlaw video lottery. Video lottery currently generates over $100 million for the state and if passed would require some sort of tax or other way to replace the lost revenue. Again, voter's positions on video lottery will be probably be determined by their personal beliefs or experiences. You can choose to believe that it will reduce crime or get rid of an enabling factor for problem gamblers (not that they still could go to one of the several Native American casinos). The proponents of initiated measure 7 did not provide an alternative source of revenue to replace what the state will lose which like Amendment D, would require that the legislature find alternatives after the fact.

Now you may be asking where the business part of my post title comes into play? Being someone that spends my day in the business world, I deal with changes in policies on an almost daily basis. Most successful companies encourage suggestions from employees that would change how the company does business, but what is different between the business world and the political world is that most businesses, while encouraging change, also require that you give alternatives to the procedure or policy your are looking to change.

Again, it is too late for this years election but I have an idea for a ballot initiative for a future election. How about a law that states any ballot measure or amendement to the constitution that seeks to change the way the state conducts business or collects revenue must include an alternative to replace what has been changed? When I vote on such issues it sure would be nice to know what the alternative to the change would be instead of leaving it up to our legislators at some later date.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

More Calls For The Secret Donor To Be Revealed

Not that this is a surprise but the Argus editorial board has come out calling for the secret "donor" that funneled $750,000 to the Vote Yes for Life campaign to be identified by Roger Hunt.
Hunt must follow the law and disclose who donated the money. It's a matter of openness. Democracy. And honesty.

Voters have a right to know who's trying to influence them. Hunt has no right to keep that secret.

Echoing the opinion of South Dakota's Secretary of state, the members of the Argus' editorial board are just the latest in a growing number to call for the identity of the shell company Promising Future's secret donor/proprietor.

It seems pretty obvious from this debacle that attorney Roger Hunt's legal knowledge doesn't quite extend into the realm of campaign finance laws.

Friday, November 3, 2006

South Dakotans Against Discrimination Press Release

South Dakotans Against Discrimination Press Release from the email bag:

POLL RESULTS SHOW SOUTH DAKOTANS READING SECOND SENTENCE OF AMENDMENT C

SIOUX FALLS--Today, South Dakotans Against Discrimination issued the following statement in response to the release of a Mason-Dixon poll that revealed that 47% of South Dakota voters oppose amendment C. The poll reflects the momentum to defeat Amendment C that have been seen in other, private, polls in the state.

"This poll is a reflection of reality. South Dakotans know that similar poorly worded amendments are now crippling domestic violence laws in other states and jeopardizing basic legal protections for families and their children. Gay marriage is already banned under South Dakota law, which has routinely been upheld by the courts. What
Amendment C actually does is take away existing protections that currently cover families in South Dakota."

"South Dakota law already bans gay marriage. Voting no on Amendment C doesn't change that, but it will hurt families. Only a no vote on Amendment C keeps South Dakota law the way it is right now." - Jon Hoadley, Campaign Manger, South Dakotans Against Discrimination

Voters Realizing the Consequences of "Quasi-Marital" Language

Legal experts and legislators warn that the Amendment C confuses South Dakota law and jeopardizes existing legal protections such as health care, hospital visitation rights, long term care insurance and domestic violence protections. Although supporters of Amendment C incorrectly claim that the amendment would only ban gay marriage
(which is already banned under South Dakota law) an examination of recent actions in other states provide clear examples of how made-up language like "quasi-marital" hurts families.

In Ohio - Supporters of an amendment similar to Amendment C told voters that passing the measure in 2004 would only ban gay marriage. In 2006, a man charged with domestic violence for assaulting his girlfriend had his charges successfully dismissed after his lawyer argued that under the new amendment domestic violence charges cannot apply to "quasi-marital relationships." There are now more than 20 such cases pending before Ohio courts. (Columbus Dispatch, 09/06/2005).

In Virginia - Supporters of a law similar to Amendment C convinced legislators to pass a "gay marriage" ban that included wording similar to "quasi-marital." It is considered one of the worst blunders in Virginia legal history. In 2005, Governor Mark Warner had to call the state assembly into session to pass emergency legislation to correct the unintended consequences of the "gay marriage" ban, which had large businesses threatening to move jobs out of the state because of its language.

In Michigan - Organizers of an amendment similar to Amendment C told voters that the measure was only about "defining marriage." After the measure became law, the same organizers used the amendment to issue a lawsuit blocking the state university system from offering health care insurance to the children of domestic partners in the state. (Detroit Free Press, 06/06/2006)

In Louisiana - The campaign to pass an amendment similar to Amendment C told voters in 2004 that the measure had nothing to do with blocking private contracts or living arrangements. The chief sponsor of the measure said that it "had nothing to do with prohibiting contracts." Soon after the measure was passed, the same campaign moved to overturn a domestic partnership registry in New Orleans which provided basic
legal protections for private contracts. (Associated Press, 09/22/2005)

"When voters realize the consequences of Amendment C, they are deciding to vote no. That is why churches and community leaders are now speaking out against this bad amendment. It threatens women and children and just goes too far," said Hoadley.

Mason-Dixon found that 47% of South Dakota voters would vote "NO" on Amendment C. 46% would vote "YES" and 7% remain undecided. The poll was commissioned by the Argus Leader newspaper. It maintains a sample size of 800 individual voters with a 3.5% margin of error.

South Dakota law already bans gay marriage. In 1996, South Dakota became one of the first states to pass a "Defense of Marriage Act" that clearly defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Since then, courts have routinely upheld the law. Amendment C would strip existing protections from South Dakota families.

--30--

South Dakotans Against Discrimination is the ballot question committee formed to educate and organize the majority of the voters in South Dakota to vote no on Amendment C, the ban on civil unions, domestic partnerships, "quasi-marital" relationships, and marriage for gays and lesbians. Amending South Dakota's Constitution to discriminate against both straight and gay families is wrong for our state, will have unintended consequences, and highlights the least caring behavior
of any community towards it neighbors.

Thursday, November 2, 2006

South Dakota Donors?

How do you forward the claim that the majority of your donations are from in state donors and not have to prove it? Todd Epp over at SD Watch explains how, at least if you are Roger Hunt, the author and one of the biggest supporters of the abortion ban.
FACT: On September 14, 2006 Roger Hunt forms “Promising Future, Inc.”

According to their official filing with the Secretary of State’s Office, “Promising Future, Inc.” was founded on September 14, 2006. State Representative Roger Hunt is listed as the sole director. No telephone number is provided.

FACT: “Promising Future, Inc.” is not listed in the telephone book, and has no listing with directory assistance.

Attempts to reach “Promising Future, Inc.” via the telephone book, and via directory assistance yielded no listing for “Promising Future, Inc.”

FACT: “Promising Future, Inc.” does not have a place of business.

There is no business listing for “Promising Future, Inc” in South Dakota. The address listed on Representative Hunt’s filing is actually Roger Hunt’s law office (1320 Rushmore Dr # 108 Brandon, SD)

FACT: “Promising Future, Inc.” generates $750,000 in less than seven weeks which it donates to Vote Yes for Life

Vote Yes for Life reported three $250,000 contributions (totaling three quarters of a million dollars) from the sham “company” in their filing to the South Dakota Secretary of State. Two of those contributions were listed on the pre-general filing, and one was listed on the November 2, 2006 supplemental report. [Vote Yes for Life Campaign Filings].
Somehow these so-called in state donations never were explained when Leslie Unruh got on TV and proclaimed how the Vote Yes For Life campaign was being funded mainly by the generosity of South Dakotans. Any chance Mr. Hunt will be forthcoming on the details of how a company with no product or service can generate that much money in 6 weeks because I am sure there are quite a few business schools that would be interested in knowing his secret.

More to come on this story tonight at 10 on KSFY.