Showing posts from December 3, 2006

Closed Caucus Criticism Immunity

SD Dems -

I'm glad to see that your compatriots in the US Senate have now agreed with the GOP legislators in the South Dakota House and Senate that there are benefits in having intra-party discussions where differences can be hashed out privately as noted in this article by the Associated Press:
The first thing the new, Democratic-led Senate will do next year is meet in a closed "bipartisan caucus" to help set a more pleasant tone than the relentless backbiting of the Congress now heading home, party leaders said Friday.

Far from lawmakers conducting business in secret — as open-government advocates warn — the meeting would serve only to sweep away grudges and smooth the way for more action, the leaders said.


The gathering could establish a precedent expanding the kinds of "executive sessions" that up to now have been relatively rare.

Still, McConnell spokesman Don Stewart likened the proposal to closed weekly policy lunches that the Republican and Democratic c…

NY Times notes that Tim Johnson is building his warchest

The New York Times is reporting today that in light of the new political party in charge of Congress, just like most other Democrats, Tim Johnson held a fundraiser to commemerate the occasion.
Time to Party in the Capital. Just Bring the Checkbook.


WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 — Lights glowed late in the Capitol dome on Wednesday night, indicating that the House and the Senate were in session. But the real action was taking place elsewhere on Capitol Hill, in wine bars, restaurants and town houses where lobbyists paid for the opportunity to meet and greet lawmakers.

Some politicians had just won election, or re-election, and needed to pay off campaign debts. Others were raising money for 2008, hoping that a fat campaign war chest would discourage serious challengers.

The Sonoma wine bar was particularly popular. No sooner had lobbyists left a reception there for Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois , newly elected chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, than another platoon of the…

Tribe seeking Thune's help. Interesting...

The Argus Leader is reporting that members of one camp in the OST election mess are meeting with Thune staffers to try to fgure things out:
Two sets of tribal members are claiming to be the elected officials who govern the tribe.

Supporters of Alex White Plume, who became president in summer, met Thursday with members of Sen. John Thune’s staff. They say millions of dollars in federal funding is at stake if the issue is not cleared up soon.

John Yellow Bird Steele said he won the November election and is president of the tribe.Read it here.

It's interesting that they are looking to Thune to try to negotiate this, as opposed to going to Senator Tim Johnson or Congresswoman Herseth. Even moreso in light of the fact that both Johnson and Herseth are attorneys, and Thune is not.

Me? I'd explain it by the efforts John has made at reaching out to the tribal communities in South Dakota, and the fact that he showed great leadership in leading negotiations with the feds in order to save Ell…

Support Public Television as part of their drive today

SD Blog Readers asked to Support SDPB.ORG Dec 8, 2006

Some bloggers in SD have agreed to cooperate with each other without regard to ideology or perspective and request that their Blog readers contribute to SD Public TV on the evening of
Friday, December 8, 2006 fund drive. This is the evening of the Williams and Ree special.

When you call in your contribution to SD Public Broadcasting, we SD bloggers request you please mention on which blog you saw the contribution request or at least that you saw a SD blog public service ad Then we will have some idea if we should try this again with a bit better organization and planning..

Blogs have communities of their own and varying degrees of journalistic rigor; but let's see what the SD blog community can do on just one night without regard to our political or other differences..

Please call SDPB at 1-800-777--0789
Friday, December 8. Evening 7pm-9pm CST; 6pm to 8pm MST

He still hasn't gone away....

Bill Stegmeier still hasn't blended back into the woodwork. If you check out this link to the Gene Chapman for President Blog (the anti-communist act dude), you can see that Bill's revving up his engine to bring more silliness and bad legislation to South Dakota:
Round Table Talk 1) Everything is on for the meeting in Denver on Saturday to vote on the Colorado Anti-Communist Act, Phase One. Bill Stegmeier is trying to fit the event into his schedule.

2) Bill also tells me that he is doing a poll of the voters in South Dakota and is finding a 50/50 split on the votes for and against his Amendment E that supposedly lost 90/10 in November. He's smelling computer voting machine tampering/ fraud.Read it all here. What is Bill smelling? Something he probably should have had for lunch, because it's causing hallucinations.…

Denise Ross has her blog... but what else?

If I've been asked the question once this week, I've had it asked twenty times. "What's the deal with Denise Ross?"

The deal? I have no idea. What do I know? She had been with the Rapid City Journal, and left to pursue filming a documentary. But aside from that, there's a lot of rumor and conjecture.

Some of the raised eyebrows are coming from her showing up at the budgetary press conference that the Gov did the other day, where she was running around like a reporter. Except she's reporting for her blog.

What the rumor mill is churning on is that (allegedly) she's working on a documentary on HB 1215, and that some sources are reporting her over at Stan Adelstein's office constantly. They even suggest that he's paying for the documentary. Which, I suppose would make sense if she's doing a documentary on HB1215.

One person was asking me if she's being bankrolled by Johnson or Herseth, since her website went on the attack the other day at t…

Awwww..... Herseth's Chief of Staff and his homepage.

Obviously this was done before they were married.


In all fairness, I have heard from several readers that supposedly the story behind Chris Hesla being zinged for possession of unlawfully taken game is that he self-reported himself to GFP after accidentally shooting a hen while hunting.

Aside from the fact that people are taking the tale as posted waaaayyyyy more seriously than it was intended, I don't think anyone would begrudge him the fact that he more than likely did the right thing.

When is proposing an income tax, not proposing an income tax? When Tom Katus tries to do it.

The story in today's Rapid City Journal was laughable.

One of Democrat Tom Katus' first acts as he approaches taking office next month? Trying to stir up interest in a state income tax. Except he's adamant that he's not proposing an income tax. Really. He just wants a non-politicized commission who wouldn't start with it.

"Start" being the operative word. And he says nothing about what they'd end up with.
Democratic state senator-elect Tom Katus of Rapid City will start his legislative career with a bold proposal to totally revamp South Dakota’s tax system. “It would be a type of BRAC process,” Katus said, referring to the Base Realignment and Closure commissions that have been created to close military bases.

Katus is calling for a “comprehensive tax reform commission.” He described his proposal during a during an interview Tuesday on the floor of the state House of Representatives, minutes after Gov. Mike Rounds had given his annual budget addr…

And we thought the Senate Leadership was the only exciting power struggle this week

The Rapid City Journal is reporting tonight that OST Tribal President Alex White Plume isn't ready to give up the ghost yet... Or his tribal presidency:
Oglala Sioux Tribe President John Yellow Bird Steele didn’t oust President Alex White Plume from his office at the tribal building in Pine Ridge on Wednesday. Instead, he worked from his own office in the tribal building, while White Plume remained in his office.

Steele, who has been serving as director of revenue affairs in the tribal building, quietly walked into his second-floor office just after 11 a.m. without stopping at White Plume’s first-floor office.

It wasn’t clear whether Steele’s appearance was an official claim to the presidency or just another day at his regular job, as he walked in without acknowledging White Plume or talking to reporters at the scene.

Both men are still claiming the OST presidency, with White Plume insisting he shouldn’t have been left off the ballot in the tribe’s Nov. 7 general election — in …

Well, that was quick. Bill Peterson is taking his name out of consideration for State GOP Chair

I just got word this evening that Bill Peterson is withdrawing his name from consideration for the South Dakota Republican Party Chairmanship.

That's too bad, because Bill would have been very good.

At the moment, that leaves a wide open field with nobody confirmed officially, and former chair Joel Rosenthal heads the list of people said to be exploring it.

I think I'd like to hear some others get involved, and at least a race for the office, to offer some some new blood to the chairmanship. Why do the Democrats, who perennially take it in the rear in most elections have a plethora of candidates for the office, and the GOP only has one or two?

Who would you encourage to run for chair?

Right about 30 days left..

If what I've been hearing since the legislators were in town in true, Dan Sutton is not going to last until session. Legislators were openly chatting around town that "Sutton is done, and won't make it until session." I've even heard that the leadership of the D's might have issued an ultimatum.

Why? In their campaigns, all they talked about was getting back to work. They desperately don't want to deal with allegations of sexual molestation against one of their own. Because it will devolve from there.

My prediction? If this holds true, watch for Sutton to resign, and his likely replacement will be Russell Olson.

Kranz Preaching Doom and Gloom for the GOP based on the Caucus elections

In his Argus Leader column today, Dave Kranz talks rather gloomy about the GOP's prospects for the Senate caucus elections. He even managed to quote a blogger:
Republicans might be in for some trouble because of their selections, said former state Sen. George Shanard, R-Mitchell, who served as both majority and minority leader in the Senate."It's not the type of leadership that I would have proposed. I think they are leading themselves into more trouble. I hate to see that," Shanard said.

Shanard is not privy to details on how the decision came about but says Republicans must now get themselves on the same page."We have to make sure they can hold everything together and avoid a split in the coalition. Right now, that (split) is exactly what they are doing," Shanard said. "All I do know is, they are walking in a dangerous direction."

What happened Monday in Pierre is just the beginning of a wave of concern within the party, said Ken Blanchard, politic…

J-Ro is allegedly working the phones

I had a note tonight that the word out of Sioux Falls is that, allegedly, former GOP chair Joel Rosenthal, lately of the SD Straight Talk website, is working the phones trying to drum up support for a GOP State Chairmanship. Or at least support from someone other than Dave Kranz who endorsed him earlier this week.

It's a reliable source, so I'm taking it seriously. But as I noted earlier, I've yet to see a groundswell of support for Joel making a third run as chair. It's entirely possible that I might be wrong, and the county people I haven't talked to are all lining up for him. But it's also a long time until the February chairman elections.

And the SDACO picks... Eric Erickson?

I heard tonight that the South Dakota Association of County Officials has chosen a new Executive Director.

After receiving qualified applicants from both sides of the aisle - and I know of at least two experienced politicos who applied (who had existing relationships with many of the legislators), they picked some dude from Florida.


Apparently, they've chosen a gentleman by the name of Eric Erickson, originally from South Dakota who lives in Florida and wanted to come home.

So, let's give it a year, and find out some more. And maybe we'll see if the door on the SDACO stabilizes, or continues to revolve around and around.

Maybe there's two of them....

Well, there could be two Chris Hesla's from Pierre, couldn't there?

There could be the good Chris Hesla, executive director of the South Dakota Wildlife Federation, who leads "a group of concerned outdoor enthusiasts who cared about wildlife and were willing to do something about protecting the wildlife and the State’s natural resources."

And then there could be the bad one, who gets zinged in Magistrate Court in Winner for possessing unlawfully taken game.

If anyone sees the bad one, tell him that was a naughty thing to do.

Yesterday got many of us wound up. Now it's time for the pitch.

I was having dinner with several elected officials last night, many of them State Senators. And apparently today at caucus I'm told that Hugh Weber of the Bokorney group will be making a pitch to the GOP Senators to handle some publicity or campaign functions for them - stuff that the State GOP should be doing.

Why does this sound familiar to me? If it's what I think it is, I did the exact same thing myself when the party practically abandoned the legislators to their own devices back in 1993.

Oddly enough, the party just had come off of a few losses that year as well. What did their hiring me do? Well, it was a wake up call to the State GOP to pay more attention to the legislators during session.

It remains to be seen whether the Bokorney proposal will have them working in concert with the party, or if their purpose is to supplant what the state GOP does during the session.

And the AP screwed it up.

Initial reports yesterday had the Associated Press noting that someone won one of the caucus races over Jerry Apa.

Beeep! Wrong answer.

Jerry wasn't in the running for any of the positions.

The Crossroads…

This summer, GOP conservatives were not just exuberant – they were giddy - over their prospects coming out of the June election. Several members of the MAINstream coalition, who had divided the party by deriding party conservatives as extremists, found themselves out in the street.

A conservative surge of energy had continued and seemingly swept up the GOP at convention, culminating in a platform plank endorsing the anti-abortion measure HB 1215. While that was not entirely unexpected, another measure endorsing the teaching of creationism as an alternative theory to evolution also flew through the chamber with little opposition – a measure which I believe has not been included on the platform before (at least not since the 50's)

This wave of energy continued through much of the fall elections, and many Republicans were excited with the prospect of the shape a leadership coalition would take next session.

But it all came to a crashing halt on election day.

On election night, conservati…

majority leaders

Dave Knudson is majority Leader and Tom Dempster is his Assistant.

(PP gave me his codes to post this - he'll provide more detail later after work - MRX)

You read it here first - Gray elected President Pro Tempore, Majority Leader Race Deadlocked

Here's the scoop coming out of Pierre at 11:30.

Bob Gray was elected to be President Pro-Tempore over Orv Smidt.

Jim Lintz and Cooper Garnos were elected Majority Whips..

And as for Majority Leader? It's deadlocked 10-10 between McNenny and Knudson.

Right now they've broken for lunch. There's hope of something breaking free over the Lunch hour, so there's sure to be plenty of wheeling and dealing. Will there be a third alternative offered? Doubtful, but not impossible.

Watch for the Asst position to be decided after they put the majority decision behind them.

Today's Legislative elections

After talking with one of the Senators last night, the only thing that's firm is the lack of agreement going into the home stretch.

As of last night, it appears that the President Pro Tempore race is going to be between Pierre State Senator Bob Gray and Brookings State Senator Orv Smidt.

One interesting tidbit - with the group of most senior Senators, those termed out of office after this election (Ed Olson, Mac McCracken, Jerry Apa, and Brock Greenfield) it looks like none of them are seeking one of the top positions.

On another note, Dave Kranz is writing today in the Argus on how the talk he hears in the race for State GOP Chair is how some want to bring back Joel Rosenthal. My question? Who in the heck is he talking to?

Nothing against Joel (who writes over at SD Straight talk) but aside from hearing word that he might be able to be talked into it, the word among party activists, county chairs, legislative leaders, and those out of the Thune and Rounds camp is a loud and resoundin…

Denise Ross tries her hand at blogging on her own

(Hat tip to SD watch)

Denise Ross formerly of the Rapid City Journal has opened up shop at her own website at, using a play on the uniquely South Dakota term of "hog housing a bill."

I'll even get it added to the feeds tonight. What can you expect over on Denise's website:
House Rules

We don’t have many, but what we’ve got are firm.

No libel. No obscenities. You can do better. Besides, my mom reads this blog. Go ahead and post comments under a pseudonym. Personally, I think that makes life more interesting. When commenting, leave a valid e-mail address. It won’t show up on the site, but sometimes we need to check things out, ask questions, whatnot. Comments deemed insipid, trite, petty or generally non-substantive are as likely to be killed as not, depending on the mood of the moderator. (Much like politics and life in the real world, life in the hoghouse isn’t fair.) In accordance with barnyard lore, if you fall down in the hoghouse, the pig…

Are those guys still around? Amendment E's Gary Zerman says it's time to make a video

Yes, those guys are still around.

In a posting on a Yahoo discussion group, California Attorney Gary Zerman writes as if they never meant for the amendment to pass. It apparently was just a big expensive line in the sand:
South Dakota Government Acted In Concert Against The People
By Attorney Gary Zerman,
gzerman@hotmail. com


You are kidding yourselves if you think you can draft a perfect amendment. The process re putting Amendment E on the ballot, and then to a vote, proved here the government does not serve the People, will ignore them and the law, the constitution and simply do as they please. How are you going to stop them?


Our purpose with JAIL or Amendment E, or at least MINE, was simply to draw a line in the sand, engage the battle (WE in fact fought the good fight and I thank everyone who aided and participated with us) to put People on NOTICE regarding how we (our government and big business) no longer have, or follow, the Rule of Law, our Constitution. What we need to do …

And as we go into the home stretch of the Senate Leadership race

From reports going into the last hours of the Senate Leadership race (the caucus dinner started at 7:30) everything was still up in the air. I hope to have a report tonight as to where things might stand going into the caucus elections tomorrow after the dinner.

It seemed firm last week, but with a member or two jockeying, it was all thrown into chaos, and no agreements for shared leadership between the caucus factions had been pre-arranged.

Watch and see how this popularity contest goes down tomorrow.

Daschle to South Dakota: I'm Not Running.
South Dakota to Daschle: And this shocks us because.....?

Before he got on stage to talk about outgoing SDSU President Peggy Miller at her retirement party, Peter Harriman at the Argus Leader is reporting that Daschle confirmed that he's not running for the office of President:
Daschle confirmed that he decided not to seek the Democratic nomination for
the U.S. presidency in 2008, shortly before taking the stage as the keynote
speaker in a program honoring retiring SDSU president Peggy Gordon Miller.

"I had an opportunity to talk to a lot of friends and supporters around the
country. I was deeply gratified by the level of support.

"But I concluded this is not the time for me to consider running for
the presidency," Daschle said."In large measure it is because I enjoy what I am
doing now. I enjoy private life."
Read the whole story here. What, was this the biggest "no kidding" story of the year? Daschle just came off of a loss, and some of his top strategists (such as Steve Hildebrand) are schmoozing with nationa…

Is Mayor Oberlitner facing Total recall for acting badly?

If you recall a while back, I featured Hot Springs Mayor Carl Oberlitner as one of the mayors whse gotten himself into a bit of trouble lately. I picked on some mayors for stupid (or blatant) criminality, but Carl's sin in the eyes of the public was closer to a sin of hubris regarding how bids for the Hot Springs Golf Course were awarded, and issues related to that as detailed by Legislative Audit out of Pierre.

The latest out of Hot Springs after the council demanded his recent resignation and he refused? (and followed up by Carl filing an open meetings complaint against the city council). It looks like he's going to be facing total recall:

A petition, aimed at garnering sufficient signature to force an election to oust Mayor Carl Oberlitner is still in the works, although circulation has not yet begun.While the core interest is the same, past information concerning the petition has been misleading.

The petition is being brought by members of the city council who asked for Oberl…