Hypocrisy in the Capitol City *updated*

Catchy title, huh? (as you know, if it bleeds, it leads). And it's true - oh so true.

But as a departure, this post doesn't involve high government officials offices, or constitutional officers, or even legislators. This is a little tale of something brewing among the doors of the Hughes County Commission and the Hughes County Planning and Zoning board. And as opposed to an elected official committing the act, it looks as if they're actually the victims in this matter.

I'd heard rumblings about it earlier, but it's really hitting the press for the first time with the KCCR story by Tony Mangan about Hughes County Commissioner Brad Scott resigning from the County Planning and Zoning Board:
Commissioner Brad Scott, who served as the commission’s liaison to that board, decided to resign after a meeting last month of the joint county and city planning and zoning board. He and fellow county board member Ross Sperry exchanged words about Scott’s job as manager of Oahe Electric Cooperative.


Sperry, in telling his side of the story to the county commission Tuesday, said that he questioned the role of zoning board members Scott and Chris Hipple, who serves on Oahe Electric’s board of directors. Scott and Hipple both supported the proposal and Sperry said he did not. Then Sperry says he suggested there was a conflict of interest by Scott, especially because of his job.


Sperry met with the commission Tuesday morning and was told that Scott had resigned. While admitting that he could have stated his case differently, Sperry rejected a suggestion that he resigned as well in a good faith effort.

Hughes County State’s Attorney Tim Maher said he had found no basis of a conflict of interest on Scott’s part. He also said that some board members had told him that they would no longer serve if there continued to a personality conflict between Sperry and Scott. Maher says the goal is to make sure the board can do its duty.
Read it all from KCCR here. The Capitol Journal also reported on the story here (By new political reporter Kate Turnbow):
"At the meeting, (Hughes County) Commissioner (Brad) Scott claimed that I am not pro-development, as I think he put it," said Sperry. Sperry alleged that a very heated discussion began soon after.

"I think I said something along the lines of 'Well, I know how an REA manager and director are going to vote (on the trailer park development).'"

According to Sperry, planning commissioner Chris Hipple is also the board president for the Rural Electric Association, and commissioner Scott is the general manager for Oahe Electric.

"I thought there was a possible conflict of interest there," said Sperry.
Read it all here. One detail this omitted from both versions, is that because of prior outbursts by Sperry, when he went to the County Commission, they had the Sheriff and a Sheriff's Deupty in the room. And with good reason.

Because as it was related to me, when commisisoners suggested that he "resign as well in a good faith effort" the reply was screaming on Sperry's part saying "NO! I will not resign!" I'm told that a request for his removal by the Deputy was contemplated at that point, but it would have taken more time than calming him down.

Sperry has been critical of Commissioner Scott and Planning Board Member Chris Hipple (disclaimer, yes both are friends) because of their association with Oahe Electric Cooperative. Apparently, this animosity towards them has led to several problems on the board as recently expressed by the County Commission writing Sperry a letter about his conduct. From the letter of July 7th:
At our July 6, 2006 Hughes County Commission meeting the Commissioners addressed your allegations of conflict of interest towards Commissioner Scott and Planning Commissioner Chris Hipple. We also discussed your conduct at the last Joint Planning Commission meeting.

On the conflict of interest allegations, the Hughes County Commission along with the States Attorney addressed this approximately two months ago, shortly after Commissioner Scott was appointed to the Hughes County Planning Commission. Our States Attorney and the Hughes County Commission have found that there are no conflict of interest with Commissioner Scott and Planning Commissioner Chris Hipple serving on the Hughes County Planning Commission. It was also pointed out by our States Attorney that when Commissioner Scott was running for office that one of the main issues in his campaign was that he was pro-development and the people of Hughes County elected him.

Now on your conduct at the last Joint Planning Commission meeting, the Hughes County Commission expects all of their representatives to act with a high degree of professionalism and this includes our Planning Commissioners. We have also addressed this with Commissioner Scott. If this type of action occurs in the future, the Hughes County Commission will be forced to take appropriate action.
Ouch. It's not often a Commission publicly reprimands a citizen board member in this manner.

Where's the hypocrisy in all of this? As noted above, Sperry has been critical of Scott and Hipple because of their association with Oahe Electric Cooperative, Brad as it's Manager, and Chris as it's board President, because he perceives it as a conflict of interest, despite the State's Attorney stating there is none. It seems to be the locus of his entire dispute. But what's Sperry not saying in the midst of all of this? Herein lies the rest of the tale.

Because what he's not mentioning is that Sperry has petitions out, and is currently running for a board position on the Oahe Electric Cooperative to be elected next month.

Yes. At the same time he's railing on Brad Scott and Chris Hipple for thier involvement in both the planning commission and Oahe Electric, Ross Sperry is neglecting to mention that HE'S RUNNING FOR THE SAME POSITION. At least the same position that Chris has (and Brad's an employee).

So, as I'm hearing one news report will relate, it's a case of do as I say, not as I do.

And people wonder why nobody wants to take on a position in public service.

*Stay tuned for updates on all of this as they come.*


Anonymous said…
yes yes and blah blah blah....where is the analysis on the Herseth/What's his name poll that came out today
mjb said…
Uh, anon - I think he works for a living, so posting hourly isn't going to do anything.
Todd Epp said…
Yes, a bit of a yawner for those of us not fortunate enough to live in the Capitol City (yet, anyway!). However, PP has covered other Pierre related stories. To folks in Pierre, it's probably big news. And you know what else? It's PP's blog and he'll cry--or blog--if (and on whatever) he wants to.

Todd Epp
Future Pierre Resident, say January 2007
Anonymous said…
removing comments?
Todd Epp said…

My defense of you doesn't make sense with the other comments removed. It loses its context. What's up?

PP said…
You'll notice I cleaned up most of the stuff that was off topic. And that's because I can.

I will get to the Herseth/Whalen poll when I get to it. It just came out today. So did this, and as I understand, it's going to be in the local media again tomorrow.

As MJB commented, I do have to work. When I'm blogging before, at lunch, and after, I'm doing pretty good.

So for crying out loud, give me a little time... I'm watching this, the poll, and the Olson/Hargens debate as emerging stories.

I have some t-shirts to print tonight, so it will still be a while. Either that, or I'll catch the article in tomorrow's paper.

(and thanks Todd for the props. I read your Harrisburg stuff too)
PP said…
Sorry Todd, I cleaned it up because I'm finding myself less willing to indulge Mr. Anonymous as time goes by, although I would hate to require registration or screen them.
Anonymous said…
Was my comment about the article being boring off topic?

I don't question your right to do whatever the heck you want with comments, Pat. But it seems a little extreme to just purge the critical ones.

Not to mention, you left the first supposedly off topic comment in the thread.

My suggestion is, unless a comment is perpetuating unsubstantiated rumors or the like, just let it go. I thought there was some interesting and frankly, funny, comments on the post. Even if they were off topic.

But do what you want.
Todd Epp said…
Hey PP:

Sold your house in Pierre yet? Think you can keep it on the market until January? Poll numbers be darned, I'm guessing I'm going to be in the market.

Anonymous said…
Hey, PP, did you talk to anyone at the "blowup" other than your friends? If you did, you might tell a different story. Bad blogging unless you are just a hack.
Anonymous said…
Other than being irrational, your comments are really arrogant about needing a house in Pierre. That's not something campaign staffers ever should joke about... usually not received well by the public... even if you are just joking. It's like talking about the furniture or curtains you'll buy for the mansion.
Anonymous said…
(re: anon 8:14)

Yeah PP, those two news accounts and the letter from the county commission just don't tell the tale.
Anonymous said…
I was personally at the Joint Planning and Zoning meeting that this occured and if anybody is reporting it incorrectly it would be Mr Sperry. What Mr Sperry didn't report is that Scott called him on a vote where he had a conflict of interest and Mr. Sperry got mad and threatened him. You two need to get the facts before you accuse PP of bad blogging.
Anonymous said…
"Bad blogging unless you are just a hack."

This guy IS a hack. Hasn't everyone figured that out yet?
Steffie said…
Yes, PP. You’re a bad blogger.

A bad, bad blogger. A naughty blogger who ought to be punished. And punished with a spanking. Yes, yes! A firm spanking administered to the naughty, naughty blogger.

And I will spank you again and again in someplace far removed from your wife and six kids. And there you shall be punished in an appropriate manner for your transgressions.

And after the spankings, THEN I’ll get the riding crop and the leather gag…
PP said…
Only if you buy me a shrubbery.
mhs said…
Frankly, I think, based on Todd's comment about him being a "future Pierre resident, he should resign his campaign position at once. Clearly, it's a much more heinous conflict of interest to count on a state job while being a paid political campaigner. . .

(p.s., Todd, you should eschew the government job and become a paid "policy consultant" ala Karen Hughes. That's where the big bucks are, dummy . . .)

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