The Legislature might consider a little vetting for their employees' sake

I've been so restless this early morning. Up at 3:30, haven't been able to sleep since.

It could be the boneless buffalo wings I ate last night, as my wife and I went out for a couple of hours. Or it could be the fact as I got up, I couldn't come up with a decent topic to blog on to put my mind at ease.

Got a couple of irons in the fire, but nothing that's ripe yet. GOP Chair has progress, but still isn't set in stone. Waiting on a few campaign finance reports to be filed before I can confirm whether or not someone fudged a report. There isn't anything in the papers that's worth an early morning effort. I need something that's good.

I tried to go back to sleep, as I tossed and turned. And then it hit me. Something I don't think I'd commented much before on. And it's somewhat timely, given the Sutton hearing coming up the second week of session.

Anyway... Here's a good one for you.

We've heard much ado about the Senate revisiting rules regarding employees because of the Sutton matter. And the fact that they may actually have to spell out what conduct and contact between legislators and employees is improper. It's being done for the protection of the employees.

And it came up that as far as the lodging of those employees, such as pages and interns, the LRC maintains a list of people in the Pierre area that agree to host these people if they care to use it. It's been that way for years. Some people will rent a private apartment, and others will rent a room in an occupied house, such as a basement.

I've known pages and interns who do it either way. Same goes for legislators. Some get a hotel room, others rent part of a house. Or they buy one if they're Stan Adelstein.

But for the sake of this discussion, let's focus on the lodging 'list' that's gathered by LRC. Why does this come up? Well, in this time of talk of changing rules and procedures to protect high school and college-aged employees, I question how well they're vetting those lists.

What brings this into question?

I think at one point or two in the past, I might have mentioned that it didn't break my heart that I was moving to Brookings, because I discovered that my next door neighbor in Pierre was listed on the sex offender registry. Regardless of the history of the offense, it's not something that gives the parent of 6 kids, much less 5 girls, a warm and fuzzy feeling.

Fast forward 6 or 7 months after my family relocated and I was still stuck in Pierre. It just so happened that literally on the last day of session, I noticed that one of the legislative interns was staying next door to me. In a house. In the same house as the person who has to register as a sex offender for the rest of their lives.


Now, other than it eliciting a big "Hmmmm.... " on my part, I didn't (and still don't) give it much thought. It could have been a relative of his. It could be a family friend. He might not have arranged the placement through the LRC list at all. The intern could have been there with the full knowledge of the situation, and not given it a second thought.

I mean, why stir up trouble when there probably wasn't any?

But now, we're 6 months past that. There is debate as to measures that the Legislature is going to take to protect it's young charges in light of allegations of the sexual abuse of a young employee.

And it makes one take stock. If it was an open offer and not something personally arranged, was the legislative intern lodging with one of Pierre's registered sex offenders possibly.. just possibly.. a bad idea? Especially in light of this past session's allegations of the problem with a page's temporary residence.

And if so, what is the incoming Legislature's Executive Board going to do about it? Are they actually going to start some nominal vetting of the offers of room and board, as to preclude offers of that nature? I don't think anyone would begrudge them from declining room and board listings from those on the sex offender registry.

Imagine the uproar if there had been a problem. Is such a risk worth taking in the future?

It might be something to consider for their employees sake.

Author's note:

For those who will ask, no I'm not going to publicly note the name of the intern, nor the name of the sex offender. They are private citizens, and I'm not sure publicizing a sex offender's name on my blogsite is entirely legal under state law.

So sorry, I'm not going to name names. Unless it's to someone who would maintain the information as private, and in such a position that they can make sure it doesn't happen again (i.e., a member of the exec board), it's going to remain confidential.

But trust me. It's the honest to god truth.


Anonymous said…

You don't need an affirmative grant of state law in order to publish a sex offender's name.

The second that a sex offender's name is published in the public domain via a goverment you as a private citizen are allowed by the 1st amendment to republish that material.

Of course, libel laws still apply but not to any of the words or acts published by the government agency regarding the sex offender.

Sex offenders deserve to have their names posted everywhere so we know who they are and where they live.

Hell, I could reprint your name and address on my website if you got a speeding ticket or if you were convicted of robbery, or fondling. It's public information and republishing such is not prohibited speech.
Anonymous said…

Publishing this, as you admit, without knowing the entire set of circumstances is a big Argosian, isn't it?

Maybe it was a relative, or acquaintence of the page.

Making accusations like that really challenges the integrity of the Legislative Research Council, who does the job of finding places for these kids to stay. I'm certain they do a better background check than you suggest.

If the Sutton deal didn't scare pages away, I'm sure your claims here will.
PP said…
"Maybe it was a relative, or acquaintence of the page..."

I said that. And it wasn't a page, it was an intern (A legal adult), so it wasn't something that caused me alarm.

But it does bring the question of vetting the offers for lodging.

Trust me, there isn't much of a process.
Anonymous said…
PP, you are stooping to nearly argus levels. You really need to move to Brookings to be closer to your liberal cores.

To put your little disclaimer out there is just a way to weasle out of your vague insinuations.

A little checking on where PP lives...A quick check of the sex offender registry...and prestobingo!
Anonymous said…

"Integrity of the Legislative Research Council"?

Please explain.
Anonymous said…
The LRC is in charge of finding host families...

PP's accusations would suggest that they will send kids to stay with anyone who offers.

I thought my new word would draw more comment... Argosian - as in Argus-osian ... I was pretty proud of that one!
Anonymous said…
3:59 pm - If you are so proud of that, why don't you use your own name so we know who came up with it?
Anonymous said…
Thanks a H_ _ _ of a lot poster 2:19. I live in Brookings County and I happen to be a Republican you know not everyone in Brookings is liberal. Guess there is nothing like lumping people together. What a smart move.
Anonymous said…
why didn't you use your last name "joan" or isn't that your real name either???
Anonymous said…
Joan appeared about the time K disappeared, and K appeared about the time Kelsey disappeared. Is it you, Kelsey? Always making liberal Wise cracks....
Anonymous said…
I'm not sure, but I believe when pages or interns say that they have found their own housing, they're allowed to stay there without the LRC doing background checks. That might be what happened with your neighbor, pp.

Nonetheless, that's even something that should be checked into. Is the legislature still responsible for their well-being if they report that they have a place to stay, that they found on their own.

Remember, that's what happened in the Sutton deal...

I wonder if "joan" works for the Argus??
Anonymous said…
PP's musing are much like the cowardly lion from the wizard of Oz.

The most frightening being this man has an influence over children.
Anonymous said…
How did "If you are so proud of that, why don't you use your own name so we know who came up with it?" end up being a liberal wise crack? Wise crack, maybe. But liberal? How? Why?

No, I'm not Kelsey, and I'm also not giving out my last name. But then I'm not going on about how proud I am of something either.

Does that make sense to you to read about someone saying they are so proud of how clever they are and then signing his or her name as Anonymous. How many people sign on here as Anonymous anyway? Quite a lot, don't you think?

You can just refer to me as Joan of Arc since I managed to fire some of you up. (For those of you who are humor-impaired, that's a joke.)
Anonymous said…
Geez, Joan - you're referring to people who are humor impaired. Obviously, that's you. The writer who claimed to be proud of his new word was obviously just making light of it, but it seemed to get you really fired up... Wonder who might be humor-impaired?

Then again, in your last diatribe, you never did deny the accusation of working for the Argus Liar, so maybe the new word hit a little too close to home for you.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous 9:05 - I wasn't fired up, only curious.
And, no, I don't work for the Argus. I guess I didn't think that question even deserved an answer. But you want to know, so the answer is no.
Anonymous said…
So what's the latest buzz on the GOP chairman? I haven't heard much over the last couple of weeks.

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