That Was Quick. Billion Campaign responds to Pelly Concerns

I literally hadn't had much time since I posted the story on the Democrats and the Rapid City Library to do more than eat and respond to a few e-mails, and as I get back to it, I see that my friend Todd Epp over at the Billion campaign has provided an initial response:

Please find below and attached Eric Abrahamson's responses to Mike Pelly regarding the RC Library Foundation. You'll note that Eric's responses are very reasonable and in a cooperative and non-partisan vein. He was and is looking for consensus with board members to solve the issue.

As to other aspects of the story, are you saying that public libraries or other public faciliteis cannot provide meeting space for any group connected with politics or public issues? This strikes us as extreme. We also used a Sioux Falls public library to announce Eric's selection as Lt. Gov. later that day. We picked the library because it was free, available, and an easily accessible location. Politicians of various stripes use the Sioux Falls library meeting rooms for news conferences and meetings all the time. It's never been an issue.

I hope this additional information is useful to you and your readers. Let me know if you have any other questions. This is for attribution to me as campaign press secretary.

Best regards,

Todd Epp
Press Secretary
Billion for Governor

From: Eric Abrahamson []
Sent: Wednesday, June 21, 2006 9:51 PM
To: 'Michael D. Pelly'
Cc: 'Ruth'; 'Eric Abrahamson'; 'Judy Duhamel'; 'Kathy Conlon '; 'Pat Lawlor'; 'Mike Wilson '; 'Greta Chapman'
Subject: RE: Resignation


Thanks for including me on this email. Your resignation is disheartening to me for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it comes as a surprise because your concerns had not been shared with me before. Although you may have voiced them to other board members individually, we had no opportunity to address them collectively. And since many of the points that you raise deserve serious discussion and perhaps changes in the way the Foundation works, I am doubly disappointed.

On the issue of whether the Foundation has become captive to Democratic politics, your letter makes a good point about appearances. From the conversations that we have had in the past, I thought we shared a sense that the Library is an important place to promote serious discussions of public policy issues. I would have and would still welcome suggestions to bring authors in from a Republican or other partisan backgrounds. As far as I can recall neither you nor anyone else on the Board suggested potential Republican authors for consideration.

The proposal for the Adelstein program was not intended as a partisan forum. As one of a handful of Federal Communications Commissioners Adelstein has a unique insight into the role that federal policies play in shaping economic development in a rural state like South Dakota. As my earlier emails suggested, the intent of the program was to focus on Information Age technologies and services. When I offered this program, I solicited comments and suggestions. I don't believe you responded.

For the record, I attach the minutes from two meetings in January which you were unable to attend. You'll note that in the first meeting (January 5), the idea of having McGovern as the guest speaker is approved, but since there was no quorum, the vote was delayed until the January 26 meeting. At that meeting, the minutes note, all decisions at the January 5th meeting were ratified by the quorum in attendance.

Personally, I would hope that you would retract your resignation so that the board has the opportunity to discuss and perhaps address some of your concerns. I am convinced that though we may hold different views on some public policy issues, we share a common commitment to the importance of libraries, and I would welcome the opportunity to make that central commitment clearer to all members of our community. Whatever your final decision, I appreciate the work that you have done on behalf of the library in the past and hope that we will have the opportunity to work together in the future.

All the best,
Clearly, there's a difference of opinion, to say the least.

Now, aside from providing me with the information, Eric's letter as above (as well as supplementary background material) Todd does query me as to if I'm saying that "public libraries or other public facilities cannot provide meeting space for any group connected with politics or public issues?"

Well, of course not. As I mentioned in the prior post "There's certainly no law against it. Maybe this is all much ado about nothing." My opinion hasn't changed. It might be much about nothing. I myself held a Pierre Young Republican organizational meeting in our local library here in Pierre many years ago, and no one thought I was turning it into a bastion of conservative thought.

But the issue that Mike Pelly brought up was not one of legality. It was one of propriety because of a perception of it happening again, and again, and again. He found that the public at large he was trying to raise money from viewed the library organization as strictly Democratic, and they refused to participate in funding it.

As I alluded to before, if the public is closing their pocketbook because of it, they should consider that there could potentially be a problem.

So, you have Mike's side of things, and thanks to Todd, you have Eric's in this post. Now, its up to you, the reader, to form your opinion, and to the Rapid City Common Council to sit in judgement (if it chooses to).


Anonymous said…
The pettiness and petulance over this issue add to the "perception" that few adults seem to live and work in the state.
Anonymous said…
Can you even HAVE a cup of coffee in the library?
Anonymous said…
You have to give Todd credit as his response is right away to anything. It would be nice if other campains would do the same without calling people names.
Anonymous said…

Please tell me you are going to post something about Governor Rounds outstanding plan to combat drought in SD. Pray for rain! Now why didn't the farmers, ranchers and clergy of the state think of this earlier? We would have been saved months ago.
Anonymous said…
It seems to me that the most important point of all of this is being missed. The Library Foundation supposedly serves the community at large by supporting library services for all. There are many, many speakers available that have neutral political overtones that would be appealing to community members of any political preference. The idea of fundraising should be to gain as many supporters as possible, not to alienate or limit the effort to any one sector. Considering the goal of the fundraising by the Library Foundation and the context of the Foundation's mission, Mr. Abrahamson's comments seem to reinforce a lack of judgement as to what events would likely be the most successful for general fundraising and what events would be most appropriate to showcase political policy issues.
Anonymous said…
Not on topic, but in response to another comment - I think those of you who criticize the governor's call for prayer for rain are pretty funny. The governor has taken a variety of steps to try to help farmers and ranchers who are hurting as a result of the drought, and has declared an emergency so that the state can help fund firefighting. In addition, the governor is working with the congressional delegation to get federal relief. But in the end, neither the governor nor any other politician can make it rain. Hence, the week of prayer for rain. If you don't believe in prayer, fine - it certainly can't hurt!
Anonymous said…
Petty concerns, or Pelly's petty concerns. Explain this to me like I was six years old - how do three demos on a public board of ten comprise a takeover? Why would any self-respecting newspaper publish such a fairy tale without a response. [The media still owe us the story on Bob Sahr.] If a membership of a public body has 30% from one group, then it follows that the South Dakota legislature must also be overrun by radicals - oops - that hit a nerve.
Anonymous said…
Anon 11:30 AM.

You schmuck. They are all dems. Have you not been paying attention to anything?

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