The claws are out at the Pennington County Commission

I'm taking a day off to be in Brookings and get some chores done. But before I get the paintbrush out, I had to blog on the big hissy fit occurring at the Pennington County Commission.

A while back, I had mentioned that Commissioner Gale Holbrook, whom I worked with back when I was Pennington Co. GOP ED, was getting a hard time from the rest of the Commission because he used petty cash to buy pizza for a few noon meetings of a group studying ways to prevent sexual predatory violence.

But in reading the Rapid City Journal on-line this morning, the gloves came off and the claws were bared when this whole battle reared it's ugly head once again:
Commission chairman Ken Davis recently sent a letter to the commission expressing concern about spending down the petty-cash fund to buy lunch every time that committee meets.

Commissioner Delores Coffing recommended discontinuing the petty-cash fund. Holbrook said that move was a "clever way of avoiding the issue of the petty cash fund, and emphasis on the word 'petty.'"

An irked Holbrook said he had been accused of wasting taxpayers' money and wanted to defend himself.

Davis then interrupted Holbrook, sparking a testy exchange. Davis said Holbrook's comments weren't related to the motion on the floor, to which Holbrook responded, "That's a clever way of shutting me up."

The commission then suspended Roberts Rules of Order to allow Holbrook to continue.

Holbrook said the sexual-predator committee did not schedule noon meetings so they could get a free lunch. He said they are hardworking, honest people who have an interest in keeping children out of harm's way.

But now, Holbrook said, he is being told the committee is taking too much time to finish its work, is not providing written reports and is wasting taxpayers' money. Lunches for the committee average about $52 per month, he said.

"If this committee can keep one child from being raped and murdered and thrown into a ditch like a piece of garbage, I think this money is well-spent," Holbrook said.

Holbrook then criticized Davis for trips Davis makes to Pierre on behalf of the county commission.

"I'm being told I'm wasting taxpayers' money. I think that gives me the right to compare the way our chairman uses taxpayers' money."

Holbrook said one trip to Pierre costs nearly $220, nearly $300 if Davis stays two consecutive nights. He also said Davis is not a registered lobbyist and has never testified in front of a legislative committee on behalf of the county.

"To be a good spokesperson for Pennington County on legislative issues, you really should be registered as a lobbyist. To be effective, you should testify at hearings. He's not done either one," Holbrook said. "Are the interests of Pennington County being looked after this way? I don't think so. If I'm spending taxpayers' money foolishly, maybe we should do some comparing."

An angry Davis responded that elected officials are not required to be registered lobbyists and that he seldom testifies because he would be repeating what other people have already said, including statements made by Ron Buskerud, the county's administrative assistant who is a registered lobbyist.
Read all of this sordid tale here. Actually it's not sordid, but I find it kind of funny. People living in glass houses throwing stones all over the darn place.

I had blogged previously that I had heard that Ethan Schmidt was considering taking on Delores Coffing for a seat on the Pennington County Commission. I'd ask him "Are you sure you want to join this group? It's like a dysfunctional family at Thanksgiving when the wine has been flowing a little too freely."

Stay tuned for more crabby commissioners.


Anonymous said…
There are good reasons why Pennington County:

1. Historically has 2/3 of the property tax appeals for the whole state--think about this when they (people from Pennington County) ask you to change the whole state's property tax system this fall

2. Failed to kick the state's Unified Judicial System (courts) out of their Courthouse because they didn't pay rent. Note to Pennington Co Commissioners: it's called COURThouse for a reason.

3. Haven't got nickel a drink figured out yet. That proposal has been around for almost ten years and they still can't get it done.

Pennington Co. Government is a mess. Face it.
Anonymous said…
anonymous; Could you direct me to the source of your info in item #1.
Anonymous said…
The pennington county commission is a derailed train. When the combined age of any 5 member board is 400 years old, you know you have problems.
Anonymous said…
Good observation about the average age,,lol

I would add that the mechanics of the county government dictates that only retiree's can serve. What percentage of your average jobs can give up every Tuesday all day. At least the City council and school Board meet at 7 pm and 5:30 pm respectivly. County commision meetings start at 9 am every Tuesday, that eliminates alot of people. It also makes it hard for working folks to deal with the commision on issues that require an appearance at a commision meeting. Maybe if the format was a little more "working person friendly" a more diverse commision would exist, with a lower average age,,haha
Anonymous said…
I agree with the comments about times of meetings. It's easier for the good old boys clubs to maintain their stranglehold on power when they hold meetings in the middle of the day so the average person can't attend.
Anonymous said…
but at least they aren't getting plowed like Bob Hurlbut on the city council.

and at least the county commissioners attend meetings.
Anonymous said…
Maybe if the city council met at 9 am hurlbut wouldnt have time to be to drunk to attend

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