Showing posts from April 8, 2007

The Schumacher/Hamilton contract matter keeps rolling along

The matter of Sam Kooiker disputing the truthfulness of the Hamilton/Schumacher contract has hit the Rapid City Journal newspaper this Saturday morning:
Alderman and Rapid City mayoral candidate Sam Kooiker cried foul Friday over a local political action committee’s amended campaign finance report that he believes is an attempt to smear his reputation.


Included in a letter from Barker & Little, Hamilton’s company, to the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office is a copy of Schumacher’s contract dated and signed May 31, 2006, just a week before the June 6 election, guaranteeing Schumacher a base pay of $7,000 for 350 hours of work and bonuses based on the percentage of the vote Kooiker received.

Kooiker said he was not aware of Schumacher’s contract and questions its authenticity considering there weren’t 350 hours available between the date of the contract and the election.

“Mike has helped me on all of my campaigns, and my campaign never paid him anything,” Kooiker said. “The …

Quote of the day

One of the readers sent in this quote in regards to the recent spate of nanny-isms that the legislature was trying to pass this past legislative session:
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its
victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber
barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may
sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who
torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the
approval of their own conscience."

C.S. Lewis

Wise words indeed.

Is Thune the Republican Obama? One pundit thinks so.

In South Dakota as well as in Washington, it's easy to see that South Dakota Senator John Thune is looked at as a Rock Star. Now one pundit is saying he's much more than that - he's saying that Senator Thune is presidential timber:
After serving as an advisor to the Nixon White House and working on four other Presidential Campaigns, the university professor from Rapid City has another hunch these days. This time, about a young Senator from the upper midwest. A man Quinn believes holds all the star power, conviction and appeal to make a similar run for the G.O.P.-- South Dakota U.S. Senator John Thune.

"He is young. He is articulate. He is tall, slender and well spoken," Quinn says, laying out a description of Thune that is intentionally and eerily familiar to that of another player on the political scene.

"Thune could very well be the Republican counterpoint to Barack Obama," Quinn says.


While the star quality may ring the same, their campaign wa…

Congratulations Tony on your award.

I'm sure Sibby is going to give me the business about this one, but I'd like to congratulate Tony Dean on his well deserved nomination to the South Dakota Sports hall of fame:
Tony Dean, who has been on the cutting edge of outdoor and conservation issues for more than 30 years, makes more history this weekend.

Dean, the long-time Pierre resident, is being inducted into the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame. Dean is thought to be the first outdoor writer and commentator inducted into the Hall and that is something he is proud of.

Dean has spent his career promoting fishing, hunting and conservation. He says his induction indicates that outdoors sports are important to this state.Read it all here at KCCR News. Tony, who served as press Secretary to Governor Frank Farrar, has long been devoted to the promotion of South Dakota hunting and fishing. While you may or may not agree with him, you have to acknowledge his commitment.


Good Catch - Commenter points out a fatal discrepancy which brings document's authenticity into question.

I should slap myself for missing this one.

If you read about the controversy over a document mysteriously surfacing 10 months after it was written (and 6 months after it was supposed to be disclosed) in which Rapid City Businessman Doug Hamilton had allegedly hired city councilman Mike Schumacher to help Sam Kooiker - which Kooiker says is false - there are a few things which don't add up in the story.

First, no consultant or PAC I've ever seen files a contract with the Secretary of State. This raised a red flag for me. But a commenter on the previous post deserves the blue ribbon for bringing up an even bigger red flag as to it's authenticity. Here's what they had to say:
Note the date of the supposed contract - 5-31-06. Schumacher was going to do 350 hours of work for $20 per hour? Hmmm. At the time Hamilton and Schumacher reached this "agreement" there were only 144 hours left before the election.
Read that here. So the contract was for 350 hours, yet at the …

Bill Napoli's on a roll again. This time, he's dishing it out on wimpy cars.

Bill Napoli, State Senator and owner of the Motion Unlimited Museum and Antique car lot has comments in yet another newspaper today - the Rapid City Journal. And who is his target?

Spendthrift government agencies? Nope. Out of state media? Wrong. It's not even Stan Adelstein. Today he's giving heck to our culture of wimpy cars in today's Rapid City Journal Good, Bad and the Ugly:
The Ugly:

"These big beautiful American cars have been replaced with skinny, anemic, rounded, homely looking communist cars with names like Yugo (huh?) ...."Yeah! As a former Dodge Dart owner (and as someone who would kill for a Galaxie Convertible) go read it all in the dead tree edition of the Rapid City Journal, or on-line (if they ever get it posted). I had a perfect AMC Matador too once, but it had the distinction of being the first car I ever wrecked. *sigh*

And don't forget to check out Bill Napoli's business website where the politics are invisible but American iron is the…

Breaking News:
Kooiker cries foul at Hamilton financial filing claiming Schumacher was paid to help him

The Rapid City Mayoral race is heating up tonight.

As I understand it, after Sam Kooiker openly refused to take money offered to him by Rapid City businessman Doug Hamilton, an amendment was filed to Hamilton's PAC report (6 months after the fact) claiming that Mike Schumacher was paid over $7,000 to help Sam campaign. Check out this release from the Kooiker campaign:
On March 22, 2007, Sam Kooiker was quoted in the Rapid City Weekly News
declaring that he had no intention of taking any of Rapid City businessman Doug Hamilton’s money. On the same day, Mr. Hamilton filed with the Secretary of State an amendment to his 11/01/2006 Elect Better Government 2005 PAC financial report. The amendment states that Kooiker was the beneficiary of a $7,700 campaign contribution to Michael Schumacher in 2006.

(See Elect Better Government 2005.)

“This is a deliberate attempt to smear my good name,” Kooiker said. “The fact that the amendment was filed on the same day that my statement declaring I didn…

When cities run utility companies.

I had been critical at one point in the past couple of years over the City of Pierre running it's own electrical utility (and balancing general budget shortfalls on the utility customers.) But here's a municipality that makes them look like amateurs.
An accounting mistake by the City of Freeman has caused a dispute between it and the Freeman Public School.

On Feb. 19, city officials discovered that, due to the utilization of an incorrect formula, the school was one of 19 natural gas customers that had been overcharged since 1997. The error was discovered after NorthWestern Energy bought the municipal gas operation Feb. 1.

While the school has been issued a refund check for $98,561.65, the issue of how much interest should be added to the refund has created a disagreement between the two organizations. The other overcharged customers signed waivers and were issued refunds without interest.

The school figures it may be justified in asking for 15 percent interest on the nearly $100,0…

Glad to see there's no sensationalism in the reporting of this trial....

From New Zealand TV:
The South Dakota Lesbian Chainsaw Massacre
Fri-13-Apr-2007 8:30am

In South Dakota a lesbian love triangle has ended with one woman dead, and another convicted of murdering her and cutting up the body with a chainsaw.

43-year-old Daphne Wright cried as the verdict was read.

She stands to become the state's first female defendant to face the death penalty. Prosecutors said Wright developed a jealous obsession with the victim because of her friendship with Wright's former lover. Read it here. I think the farther you go "down under," the more sensationalized the story is getting. Although, they left out "Black" and "Deaf" in this story. Although, this one managed to mention it. At least twice.

Herseth-Sandlin is coming to town

According to Tony Mangan over at KCCR Radio, Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin is coming to Pierre for a series of meetings:
Health care is one of the major themes for Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin when she stops in Pierre tomorrow. Herseth-Sandlin will visit the Oahe Valley Rural Health Clinic in Fort Pierre to talk health care issues. Among the topics will be the re-authorization and possible expansion of the state Children’s Health Insurance program and physician reimbursement.


Herseth Sandlin also will speak at the Pierre Chamber of Commerce luncheon and she expects the Dakota Minnesota and Eastern Railroad issue to be a topic of discussion. The Congresswoman supports the proposed expansion, but says she has heard several individual concerns from South Dakotans, including many from Pierre.Read it all here.

More internet thoughts from Representative Kristi Noem.
How do you discuss your faith in a campaign setting?

I had noted a week or so ago that Representative Kristi Noem is writing and blogging regularly for the "everyday woman" website. Today's clips from that website are from one of her most recent contributions, specifically to their on-line magazine:
God always brings me back to a very small, yet key, moment in my past. When I was a young girl, I struggled with finding a purpose for my life—not just the perfect purpose, but any purpose! I was chubby, not-so-cute (at least in my eyes), and had suffered through bouts of teasing that sometimes occur in the lives of grade-school children.

But one day my whole perspective changed. My mother had become very concerned for my welfare and asked me to sit at the kitchen table with her one afternoon after a tough day at school. She shared with me Deuteronomy 28:13 which told God’s view of my life and what He had in store for me. Then she shared her vision of me and how she saw me as someone that God did not place at the bottom or in la…

Bill Napoli sounds off. This time, on the Tobacco tax

Bill Napoli has a few things to say about the recently enacted Tobacco Tax in this week's edition of the Rapid City Weekly News:
Mercer’s recent column about the wonderful new tobacco tax was a great article written only as Mercer could write. But, it fell far short of explaining the rest of the story, something Mr. Mercer is becoming famous for. Ms. Stalley and the rest of the “Tobacco Nazis” gave a gift of $40 million to the Legislature all right, but she and her organization also committed a huge political blunder. Mercer never mentions the mission of the $40 million tobacco tax was to force people to quit smoking and using tobacco products. In effect, it made the tax a self-abolishing tax, “No Smokers or Chewers, No Tax Money to Spend.”However, the recently passed tobacco tax increase was written to use the new tax for ongoing government programs such as education and property tax relief. Which means, the tobacco tax must be an ongoing tax, or else the Legislature will be faci…

A cell phone ban? What's Rapid City going to ban next, left turns?
Oops. Too late.

The headline in today's Rapid City Journal talks about how the City Council was asked to be nanny to everyone using cell phones in cars:
Alderman Bob Hurlbut questioned how far an ordinance could go.

“Are we going to say cell phone use is illegal? Is it going to be cell phone possession? We can put in any number of distracting factors and try to outlaw them, but the bottom line is, there will be distracted drivers whether we have this ordinance or not,” he said.

City attorney Jason Green isn’t sure the city has the authority to adopt an ordinance banning drivers from using cell phones.

“It seems to me there’s a potential for enforcement difficulties with an ordinance like this. I think that’s why you’ve seen state legislatures struggle with this issue also,” he said.(Read that here.) But at the same time they reject that as problematic to enforce, another article talks about how the public is coming uncorked over people turning left. As if that isn't equally problematic to enforce…

Former School and Lands official has a new job

Congratulations to Barry Jennings, Office of School and Public Lands deputy to Bryce Healy. It was announced yesterday that he's the new Executive Director for the SD Beef Council.

Read all about it here at

And former Legislator Maury LaRue is the new mayor of Sturgis according to the Rapid City Weekly News:
Former City Council member and state legislator Maurice “Maury” LaRue was elected mayor of Sturgis, getting 832 votes to best Richard Deaver, who received 762 votes. Joseph Bryant, 18, got 424 votes.Read about that and the Meade Co School Bond here.

On a sad note, AP is noting that Senator Johnson's office is being made wheelchair accessible

In an Associated Press story tonight at the Argus Leader, Senator Tim Johnson's staff is noting that the Senator's office facilities are being made wheelchair-accessible, as the Senator is unable to walk and suffers from partial paralysis on his right side:
Johnson, D.-S.D., has been in a private, undisclosed rehabilitation facility since February, when he was released from the George Washington University Hospital in Washington. He is not able to walk and has limited use of his right side.


When he does return, Fisher said, Johnson is expected to use an electric scooter to get around. Staff and Capitol workers are widening aisles and doorways in his office, as well as the area around his desk, and Johnson’s personal bathroom will be refurbished to make it easier for the senator to use.Read it all here at the Argus Leader.

We (or at least me) at the SDWC wishes Senator Johnson the best in his continued recovery and his return to active status in the United States Senate.

On a…

More on the Education Lawsuit

While on some websites they're celebrating the judge's motion on the educational lawsuits, it's leaving others scratching their heads. Here's what was said about the motion at
Tuesday, the judge ruled the courts cannot determine the amount of money lawmakers can allocate toward education.

"She essentially said I'm not going to order the legislature to pay any money, so I'm going to grant that part of your motion so what I will retain the power to do so is interpret what the constitution means as it related to education," South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long said.

Long says they'd hoped the judge would dismiss the case all together. He says you can't fix what isn't broken.

"In 1994, this same lawsuit essentially was brought and judge Zinter decided that South Dakota students were receiving an adequate education and a constitutional education in South Dakota. I don't think that has changed," Long said.So, a decisio…

Cartoonist Don Stroot on the Herseth Nuptuals

As has been appearing in newspapers across South Dakota, Cartoonist Don Stroot takes on the Herseth-Sandlin Wedding.

Read him in newspapers across South Dakota (and I wish he had a website).

We're the last in line

A recent story in the Mitchell Daily Republic discusses the fact that the GOP Presidential primary will likely be over and done with at the time we hold ours:
South Dakota’s presidential primary election next year apparently will be the last one in the nation.By the time the state’s voters cast their ballots June 3, 2008, the candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties will probably already be chosen.“Conventional wisdom says the likelihood is, it’ll be decided by then,” said Chris Nelson, who as secretary of state is South Dakota’s top elections official. “There’s a one-in-a-million shot that will not occur.”


Nelson, referring to Super-Duper Tuesday, said “a de facto single national primary day is being created.”, a public service group that publishes stories on states’ issues, said last week that the 2008 primaries and caucuses are shaping up as “the earliest start to a presidential election in history.”Read it all here.

Yes, I had earlier argued against …

Someone isn't wasting any time on re-branding.

From the "Herseth for Congress" website. And, you can check out her appropriately re-branded congressional website (with new URL) at

And the big news of the day - the school lawsuit proceeds on

According to an Associated Press article appearing on the Rapid City Journal's website, the School Lawsuit is proceeding full steam ahead (at taxpayer expense, I might add).
A circuit judge agreed Tuesday to consider whether the state's system for funding school districts violates the South Dakota Constitution, but she said she has no authority to order the Legislature to spend more money on education.

After a brief hearing in Pierre, Circuit Judge Lori Wilbur said the case will continue and a trial will eventually be held in the lawsuit, which alleges that the state is falling far short of providing the money school districts need. The trial in the case is now set to start in June 2008.Read it all here.

Here's a thought to ponder - how many school districts involved in the lawsuit have members up for election this year? And how are they faring in their re-election efforts.

Because it should be a factor for their voters to consider. Do they support the actions of their boards …

CQ/NY Times speculate on Johnson race

Congressional Quarterly is speculating on the Johnson race in today's edition along with the help of Argus Leader columnist Dave Kranz:
Given Johnson’s long recovery and his uncertain political status, Republicans are finding it uncomfortable to fight back. “It’s an awkward thing for the Republicans strategically,” Kranz said.The top Republican Senate candidate would be Gov. Mike Rounds, who has strong approval ratings. But political observers are unsure Rounds will run: The governor has repeatedly skirted questions about his national political ambitions by saying he loves his current job.and...If Johnson declines to seek re-election, Republicans who would consider a Senate race include former Lt. Gov. Steve Kirby, who is personally wealthy and who lost to Rounds in the 2002 primary for governor. Also mentioned are Jarrod Johnson, the state School and Public Lands Commissioner, and Dusty Johnson, the chairman of the state Public Utilities Commission. Neither man is related to Sen. …

What's the buzz in Pierre? (Early April edition)

I finally got back to Pierre today after my early AM flight back from Brookings took a detour to the Denver International Airport where I wasted most of my morning. Ugh. But it did give me a few minutes to catch up on what some of the hot topics of gossip are running around.

*I keep hearing that we should look for State Representative Joel Dykstra to appear as a strong potential to be on the ballot in 2008. Except, not for his current position. The rumor is that we might see him take on one of our 2 Democrats in Washington this next election. We'll just have to wait and see if the rumors turn out to be true.

*I'm also hearing that the State GOP office may have a key staff member departing in the near future. More on that as it develops.

*In case you missed it, Governor Rounds is a grandfather for the first time. Congrats to Chris Rounds and his wife. You only have 6 more to catch up to me.

*Americans for Prosperity have a hard hitting fundraising letter that's going to be in m…

Does this mean Republicans get to boycott ABC, NBC, CBS and PBS?

What is it about FOX news that makes Democrats so nervous?Why would I bring this up? Why would candidates who are desperately seeking media attention otherwise shun a national news network. The International Herald Tribune had a story recently on how Obama (along with Hillary and Edwards) are shunning the network's offer for hosting a debate because....
Well simply because they don't like them.
A full year and a half ahead of the presidential election, the Fox News Channel has suddenly become an issue in the campaign, even as the network tries to cover that campaign.A Democratic candidates' debate sponsored by Fox News set for August from Reno, Nev., was abruptly canceled Friday night with a statement from the Nevada Democratic Party and Harry Reid, the majority leader in the Senate.But the reasons given for the cancellation — anger over comments about Barack Obama made the night before by Fox News chairman Roger Ailes — give short shrift to an ongoing online campaign by ac…

I wonder what they think about STEVE CUTLER's proposal on the FSA offices.


Flying Imams up at blogspot

One of the readers pointed out a website that was recently featured at Power line called the Flying Imams. This website is devoted to "possible terrorist threats, probes, dry-runs and just plain stupidity from the skies," and spends a bit of time talking about the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

As noted on one post:
The producer of a tax-financed documentary on Islamic extremism claims his film has been dropped for political reasons from a television series that airs next week on more than 300 PBS stations nationwide.

Key portions of the documentary focus on Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser of Phoenix and his American Islamic Forum for Democracy, a non-profit organization of Muslim Americans who advocate patriotism, constitutional democracy and a separation of church and state.

Martyn Burke says that the Public Broadcasting Service and project managers at station WETA in Washington, D.C., excluded his documentary, Islam vs. Islamists, from the series America at a Crossroads ..…

Is that a special session lurking in the background?

I'm kind of surprised no one except South Dakota political columnist Bob Mercer is catching the important news on the insurance company tax case that's starting in court next week. From his story (which you won't find on the Internet):
Companies with a principal office or regional home office are allowed to reduce their state insurance taxes up to 70%.

They are charged only half of their normal amount of their insurance taxes and also are allowed to deduct the costs for their local real estate taxes.

The case will focus on whether South Dakota's system is unconstitutional.What does that mean in hard dollars? Try a considerable portion of a $60 million income source for the state. Granted, it's not at the level of video lottery, but it's still a very sizable portion of revenues for the state. As Bob notes, it's the 4th largest revenue source for the state of South Dakota.

So what happens if we'd lose most of our 4th largest revenue source?

I'm not sure, …

I think they put it a little more delicately here.

The Sydney Australia newspaper "The Sydney Morning Herald" doesn't mince many words in writing about the lurid Sioux Falls murder trial of Daphne White. Here's the headline:
Deaf black lesbian accused of chainsaw murderRead it all here. Well...... That kind of sums it up, doesn't it? (I think they put it a little more delicately in S. Falls media.)

Back to posting.....

The family crisis I buzzed over to Brookings for last week seems to have subsided. So, I anticipate I'll be back to Pierre on the "O"-dark-thirty morning flight, after experiencing my weekly acquaintance rape by the Brookings Airport screeners tomorrow morning.

Ugh. I'm not going to go into detail, but suffice it to say that I need a holiday weekend to recover from my holiday weekend. But, that's not going to happen, so onwards and upwards.

Leslee Unruh in LA times: There are some kids who don't want to know how to put on a condom.

The Los Angeles Timeshad an article recently that's being printed across the country with regards to how states are eschewing federal abstinence funding in a so-called revolt against abstinence education.

In the article, South Dakota's own Leslee Unruh of the National Abstinence Clearinghouse is quoted with regards to how this is denying the people who don't want to have sex equal treatment:
States have used the money to help public and private schools start and run educational programs, develop classroom instruction for nonprofit groups, and pay for advertising and other media campaigns. "There are kids who don't want to know how to put on a condom, because they don't want to have sex,'' said Leslee Unruh, president and chief executive of the South Dakota-based National Abstinence Clearinghouse, the nation's largest network of abstinence educators. "So why can't kids who want to abstain have equal time, funding and education in the classro…

Even the politicos want in on the Hollywood action

Okay, I'll admit it.

I kind of envy the people who are going out for the casting call for the National Treasure movie. I had my own brush with celebrity when Kevin Costner was filming. I was working for my dad's security company (god knows I'd do anything for an extra buck) down at the Pierre Ramkota one night when he was wrapping an edit session. He was as close as I'd get with any other person.

And I'm totally lame, since I tell that story before I tell my story of having Lunch with Vice President George Bush.

So, yes. It could be kind of cool. But for those of you seeking Hollywood glory, forget Nicolas Cage, you're out there with Harvey Keitel. He's Mr. White. He's "The Wolf." He's worked with Scorsese and he was even in a couple of episodes of the original "Dark Shadows" series. Tres cool. So, I can't blame anyone that wants to do it.

Speaking of which, you might be wondering how this relates to politics.

KCCR News just did a…