Novstrup Sensitive to Facts, Raps Aberdeen Paper for Op-Ed on Amusement Park Self-Interest

Two weeks into the 2017 Session, my State Senator, Senator Al Novstrup, finally provides District 3 with his first update from Pierre.

But wait: Novstrup’s letter isn’t really an update on the 2017 Session. In Trumpist fashion, Novstrup dedicates his first major public statement of his eighth term in Pierre to criticizing the media for criticizing him:

Al demonstrates the posture he expects of the media in the Novstrump America.
Al demonstrates the posture he expects of the press in the Novstrump era.

The American News re-printed an editorial from the Rapid City Journal which suggested my actions in the Legislature have been self-serving….

The Journal seem to be basing their claim on the following logic: I agreed to assist Rep. Hickey, the prime sponsor, with a bill in the South Dakota Legislature in the 2014 session that improved safety in the amusement industry, and I own stock in Thunder Road, a family fun park in the amusement industry. The legislation mandated daily inspections of all amusement rides and yearly inspections by certified inspectors of all traveling amusement rides. The bill also mandated that amusement operators carry insurance and suggested riders should not be intoxicated or disengage their safety equipment.

This bill is not revolutionary and, in fact, similar laws exist in 43 other states. Of the 105 South Dakota legislators, 98 of my colleagues believed this bill was an improvement to amusement riders safety and voted to approve the bill. Seven legislators voted against the bill because they believed the regulations went too far.

Despite these facts, the Rapid City Journal felt the bill did not accomplish enough. Why the Journal criticized me for being self-serving because they believed the regulations in the bill did not go far enough is beyond me. The bill we passed was in line with standards set by similar states.

All South Dakotans that utilize amusement rides are safer because of this legislation. We went from having no regulation to providing reasonable safety regulation and that’s good for everyone, including me. Nothing in this safety legislation provide any benefit to me or my company [Senator Al Novstrup, letter to the editor, Aberdeen American News, 2017.01.22].

The offending editorial appeared in Thursday’s AAN and first appeared on RCJ on January 12. The main thesis of RCJ’s editorial is that the state should do more to ensure the safety of amusement park rides. The editorial responds primarily to the pending House Bill 1007, which would remove the state from responsibility for documenting inspections of amusement parks like Novstrup’s. RCJ offers background on the issue by mentioning Novstrup’s conflict of interest in past lawmaking concerning his industry:

The bill will be considered by the Legislature just four years after an industry-friendly measure pushed through by Sen. Al Novstrup, a Republican from Aberdeen, was overwhelmingly approved by lawmakers and signed into law by Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

The measure exempted fixed parks like Thunder Road, which Novstrup owns stock in and is managed by his son, David, also a lawmaker and the general manager and co-owner of the Thunder Road park in Aberdeen. The legislation does require minimal state reporting standards for the traveling amusement parks but includes a ten-point list of rider prohibitions that makes it more difficult to successfully sue them.

In September [2016], Journal reporter Seth Tupper wrote an investigative piece that detailed how Novstrup, who had a clear conflict of interest, shepherded the bill through the Legislature [link added; editorial board, “Amusement Park Rides Need Regulation,” Rapid City Journal, 2017.01.12].

Tupper’s September article cited Novstrup’s own words in the Legislature to show that Novstrup offered to “assist” Hickey with his 2014 bill because Novstrup “saw some things in it that were over-regulation.” To forge a workable “compromise” (indicating he’d have fought the bill otherwise), Novstrup brought in amusement park reps, including his own legislating son David, to make the bill more palatable to industry.

The Rapid City Journal did not contend that South Dakota amusement parks are not safer because of the watered-down 2014 legislation. RCJ did not contend that the compromised 2014 measure gave Novstrup new benefits. RCJ did point out that (1) the daily inspections required by the 2014 law merely codified inspections Novstrup and other amusement parkers already had to do for their insurers, and (2) the new law did Novstrup a favor by exempting his businesses from new inspection requirements, an exemption a certified ride inspector called “stupid” and a sign of “purely somebody’s palm being greased.”

Novstrup slides around those two facts in his letter, because those two facts show he’s blowing smoke. If a legislator uses his power to exempt his business from new regulations that will apply to some of his competitors, that legislator has served himself.

Like Trump, Novstrup is brittle and defensive. Like Trump, Novstrup doesn’t like the media reporting his own words. And like Trump, Novstrup uses power to serve his own interests.

19 Responses to Novstrup Sensitive to Facts, Raps Aberdeen Paper for Op-Ed on Amusement Park Self-Interest

  1. grudznick prediction: Mr. H’s bitterness towards Mr. Novstrup, the elder, will grow and fester until next session.

  2. Why, Grudz, do you and others try deflecting so many of my critiques of Novstrup and other corrupt elected officials by turning the discussion to little old me? My motivations and foibles are small potatoes compared to the big guys using their elected power for personal benefit, twisting the truth, and not addressing real problems.

    Bitterness does not fester. This critique of Novstrup’s brittleness and self-service stands independent of whatever motives you impute to me.

  3. Mike Boswell

    Cory made it is because you don’t like to get your butt handed to you by the local populous. So you use this blog to get even. Have you considered that.

  4. Mike Boswell

    Cory Maybe it is

  5. mike from iowa

    You’ll have to get up a bit earlier and pack a big lunch if you figure on handing Master’s butt to him. OTOH. Powers might let you scratch his.

  6. Wow, really, Mike B? Because I lost an election, any critique I offer of the winner of the election is no longer valid?

    Knock off the amateur psychoanalysis and teasing and tell me what parts of the reporting by Seth Tupper, the commentary by RCJ, and my statements above are false. Tell me how Al Novstrup’s hasty and defensive missive doesn’t distract from the real point of the original editorial. Tell me how Al’s watering-down of the amusement park regs isn’t self-serving.

    I know talking real policy and politics, with supporting documents, is harder than throwing barroom insults, but I do it every day. I encourage my commenters to do the same.

  7. mike from iowa

    Dakota Free Press where posers come to debate Cory and die.

  8. Mike Boswell

    Cory I wouldn’t put it past you to take DFP and attempt to over critique a former foe. Sorry, but after my private conversation on FB with you, I wouldn’t put it past you.

  9. Mike Boswell

    Let’s say you have an axe to grind against Conservatism and South Dakota Conservatives.

  10. Darin Larson

    Hey Mike, here’s an idea: examine Cory’s critique of Novstrup and debate the issues. You seem to want to attack people rather than ideas. You haven’t addressed the substance of Cory’s critique at all.

    News flash: Cory’s critiques are often from a liberal point of view. Did you happen to notice “South Dakota’s True Liberal Media” pasted on the home page of this blog? You act like Cory is trying to hide his intellectual pedigree.

    But saying he has an axe to grind against conservatives is just another lazy personal attack. Cory talks about ideas and actions. Cory doesn’t say Al Novstrup should be dismissed because he is conservative. Cory does raise the issue of whether Novstrup should be writing and voting on legislation that directly affects his personal business interests. Did Novstrup essentially regulate his competition while exempting his own business?

    If you want to have a substantive conversation on the issues, I welcome and respect your discussion. If it is just a name calling session for you, it is quite hypocritical to talk about taking the high road.

  11. Mike Boswell

    Well Darin Let’s say Cory made some very pointed remarks about conservatives and South Dakota Conservatives that make me question his objectivity. You can trust it, but after seeing his personal remarks to me, I will not.

  12. Steve Peterson

    Cory’s blog with continued “articles” towards Novstrup just show the sore loser personality that is Cory’s true self hidden behind supposed critique stories. He’s really good at demeaning people behind big words and “knowledge.”

  13. Sorry Mike, but if you aren’t here to debate the actual issue then why are you here? Sounds a lot like trolling.

    I, for one, appreciate Cory’s research and reporting which continually puts the conflicts of interest of our elected officials on public display. Left, right, or anywhere in between you should appreciate that type of analysis. It shows us true motivations, and at the very least serves to highlight the appearance of a conflict. In this case, Novstrup should have recused himself from ever voting on any legislation which impacts his personal business – yet he has not. That should be concerning.

  14. Darin Larson

    Mike, Cory says at the top of his home page every time you load up DFP that he is the true liberal media in SD. He is up front and honest about the perspective that he brings to the table.

    He can speak for himself, but his job as I view it is not to be a neutral party on the political scene in SD. His job is to be a muckraker and bring intelligent discussion of issues facing SD and our country from his perspective. That he does very well.

    You don’t have to trust Cory. But you should find some compelling arguments for discussion here from which you can do further research to verify or disprove Cory’s positions.

    IMO, Cory’s blog is the equivalent of the opinion page in any respected newspaper across the country. You don’t have to agree with his opinion, but you can’t just say he has it out for conservatives so therefore everything he says is without merit or biased to the point that it is not true.

    You must find his articles interesting, because you are here often enough. :-)

  15. If you do not want to be criticized then the answer is really simple. Do not do thinks like Al did with this self serving legislation.

  16. Amazing the ad hominem Trumpist line: refer to “articles” and “knowledge” as if they are not what they are, and make personal attacks that do not in the slightest negate the facts presented.

    Small words for you, “Steve”: What facts do I get wrong? What lies do I tell in the above post? Would the truth of this blog post be affected at all if someone else had written the same words?

  17. Again, I don’t see anyone here debating the facts about Al’s letter or his self-serving legislation.

  18. Vance Feyereisen


    You will never convince repubs and cons that sunlight is a good things.

  19. Permit me to illustrate a key difference between Al, the corporate press, and me.

    Before I wrote this post, I thought, “Gee, if I criticize Al, folks like Mike and Steve will just use that as ammo to tease me about the election and dismiss my commentary as sour grapes. Maybe it would serve my self-interest better if I didn’t write this.”

    If I were more worried about my self-interest, I’d have censored this story, or maybe I’d have farmed it out for someone else to publish under their name. Knowing full well how angry people like Mike and Steve and other excusemakers of Al’s self-interested policy will use it to attack me personally, I still publish the story, because it’s true and it is of public importance.

    Vance, I don’t need to convince guys like Mike and Steve of that. I just need to keep letting that sunlight shine.

    And hey, I’m still waiting for Al’s first Legislative update. I’ve reported more about what’s happening in Pierre this Session than Al has, and he’s getting paid to be there.