Damgaard Briefs State-Tribal Relations Cmte on GEAR UP Scandal Map Monday

You know that big map of the GEAR UP/Mid-Central scandal that Marshall Damgaard’s political science students put together in spring 2016? It appears that anyone who’s willing to crowd into the Dakota Hall second floor conference room Monday morning can get a guided look at all those pins and strings.

The Legislature’s interim committee on state and tribal relations meets Monday, October 23, in Vermillion, and they will start their meeting with an 8 a.m. briefing from Damgaard himself on the GEAR UP map. The agenda notes that “the location for the briefing has limited space and is not handicap accessible,” but since it is a meeting of a Legislative committee, the briefing should be open to the public. Committee chairman Senator Troy Heinert (D-26/Mission) should be willing to accommodate as many interested viewers as the room will fit and leave the door (and windows?) for those who’d like to listen from outside.

And if we can’t all fit, then, committee, members, serve your constituents and tweet lots of pictures.

15 Responses to Damgaard Briefs State-Tribal Relations Cmte on GEAR UP Scandal Map Monday

  1. There’s no evil intent here, I’m sure. I’ve been in the room in Dakota Hall where the famous GEAR UP wall is located, and the room will have trouble accommodating more than a small handful of people in addition to the committee members. It has the potential to be especially uncomfortable since Damgaard’s presentation could take up to four hours, according to the committee’s agenda.

    The afternoon portion of the meeting will be held in a larger room in the Student Center, where additional testimony will be taken and the committee members will hold discussions.

    BTW, for those who have not seen it, the “GEAR UP wall” is a large and complex graphical depiction of the players and relationships involved or related to the scandal. The wall features papers of multiple sizes and a bewildering array of yarn of all colors literally pinned to the wall. Relocating the wall’s contents would be a logistical nightmare, even if there were a better place for it.

    I’m honored that one of my NPQ articles was printed out and affixed to the wall last year.

  2. I experienced the ‘presentation’ myself with a small group of people over a month ago. Cameraman Bruce filmed the presentation, I think we were there over 3 hours. We haven’t released the footage yet because we were asked NOT to. Hopefully after this meeting on Monday we can. We have explored on how we could edit the session and narrate it to get the finer points. The most amazing part is all these shananigans were going on in plain site AND the students uncovered all of the information using google on their smart phones. Once you see the big board in person it will make you sick, millions wasted while a small group of consultants were cashing in (estimated $62 million). It is probably one of the biggest state corruption cases in the entire country and (most) of our lawmakers pretend like it is no big deal.

  3. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr.

    Quite frankly, I am surprised that the Republicans are going to allow for the promotion and display of this board at a legislative interim committee meeting – where it can gain further attention:


    And why does the interim committee need to see this board? Doesn’t the DCI and or the AG’s office naturally have a similar or more sophisticated board for them to see? Have Gogglers become now the new and true investigators of criminal activity in the absence of true government checks and balances?

    Can anyone imagine the special counsel, Robert Mueller, asking the government department at Georgetown or Harvard if he could see their board concerning Russian collusion? It is my understanding that the DCI and AG’s office have taken a look at the USD board and photographed it…. Don’t they at least have Goggle too?

  4. grudznick believes the legislatures should have their staff create duplicates of this board, miniature ones that could fit in a U-Haul truck perhaps, and drive them around the state like the traveling Vietnam Wall. This would benefit those people who cannot travel to Vermillion and fit in this tiny, stuffy room.

  5. Lee Schoenbeck

    The real story is one posters comment on the volume of taxpayer funds wasted on a do-nothing federal program. Damgaard has much to say about the terrible waste of funds at the root of this. Liberals won’t like it, but I hope the Committee asks him if this program ever made any sense

  6. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr.

    Yep, some think that “Liberals” good intentions are as bad as conservatives’ greed…. But me, not so much…

    Grudz, I like your idea. But I would prefer putting the duplicates behind upright glass on a flatbed trailer/truck…..More like David Letterman’s once “Worldwide Pants Across America” tour…. Because with this scandal, we are all confident that some are trying to cover their you know what, but to compare it to the Vietnam Wall would be wrong. Because the Vietnam Wall lists those who were heroes…..But where are the heroes in the Gear-Up scandal?

  7. Lee:

    I believe the federal GEAR UP program makes sense – help poor kids get to college and afford college after they get there. Without a waiver, at least 50% of the expenses must go to college scholarships, and 75% is preferred. Half the money is federal and half (with more being preferred) is state match. The federal money is all cash, and the state match can be either cash, in-kind, or a combination of the two.

    South Dakota was never “invested” in GEAR UP, except as an alternate means to fund the technology summer program for Native American students in Rapid City. In previous years, that program was funded using a grant from NASA, but that funding stream was ending. South Dakota was contacted by a DC-based large nonprofit that offered to assist in drafting a last-minute GEAR UP application, presumably in exchange for performing the evaluation activities. An application was prepared – hastily and, in my opinion, poorly – less that two weeks prior to the federal deadline. That was the 2005 application I found and gave to Angela Kennecke after her state and Federal FOIA requests were unsuccessful because the document was too old for either the feds or the state to retain.

    In the application, a paltry sum not compliant with the federal requirements (all federal dollars, as I remember) was set aside for scholarships, and the state matching requirement was proposed to be satisfied exclusively by in-kind contributions from participating local school districts and for-profit corporations. The state had no dollars invested and no employees hired using grant funds. The program’s execution was contracted out to OSEC. Oversight was assigned to the state’s Director of Indian Education, but that office was a revolving door with no staff and no staff support.

    There’s a lot more to say, but I’ll stop here for now. The main point is that SD would never have applied unless it was offered a free shot and unless people outside state government thought it was a good idea. SD was never financially or programmatically in GEAR UP as designed by the federal government.

  8. Lee, we “liberals” (actually centrists, compared to where your party has taken us, but o.k.) would love to hear that question asked on Monday and answered by the conservative Republicans (Rounds, Daugaard) who applied for that money.

    But as Michael says, sure, GEAR UP as designed makes all sorts of good sense, providing education that the free market and even the state of South Dakota apparently cannot provide on its own… and which, even when handed a tub of federal money, South Dakota’s Republican cronies still find a way to screw up, as if they can’t stand allowing a “liberal” (again, centrist, Adam-Smithian, sensible, but call it what you will) government program to work the way its intended, lest it disprove the Republican mantra.

  9. I am more of a centrist, Mr. H. I am a past president of the Conservatives with Common Sense. You are so left you cross the clock to sit in Mr. Nelson’s lap. You and he are the fringes of insanity. I an the bulk of South Dakotans represent the saner majority. (disclaimer: some of the saner majority are stupid and can have measures initiated foisted upon their tiny brains, which combined with the group of insaner than most from your end and the overgodder end results in the destruction of functional government.)

  10. Donald Pay

    GEAR UP was based on several previous initiatives piloted by various states, non-profits and business groups. The program was so successful that it was suggested for federal support in 1998, and it has been considered fairly successful in many states through Democratic and Republican administrations and congresses. The GEAR UP program works well in states whose legislatures and governors care about making education better. In states that don’t care, it becomes just another avenue for waste and corruption. I’ll leave you to guess where South Dakota fits in.

  11. Judas priest. If we, SD, only had a legislature. Only had a media. Why in the wide, wide world of sports isn’t this catastrophe paraded through every meaningful community?! Why is anyone ‘sitting on’ a 3 hour tape of a presentation about this?! Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

    No wonder millennials hate us. We earned it. No matter how “South Dakota nice” these people pretended to be. They apparently acted criminally and should be held accountable in criminal, civil, or the court of public opinion.

  12. Aren’t the criminals, except for the 3 still being charged in the courts, dead? Crank up the hunting of witches dial!

  13. Mr. Claussen, your idea is indeed better. We can only hope that the partisan Council of Research has already started on this project.

  14. Donald I appreciate your very thought out and intelligent post. It’s true that any money that comes into SD soon becomes embroiled in scandal because there is no transparency to prevent corrupt politicians from misusing it.

  15. truthteller

    I think the bigger picture with the poor practices, poor accounting, and flagrant incompetence from the dept of education secretary and her appointees is that its PAR FOR THE COURSE with sd government programs from what I can see.

    the DAY TO DAY incompetent, politically appointed dept secretaries and their misguided, incompetent and “just good enough to meet minimal requirement” level of functioning (even on their best day); their keep your mouth shut and don’t question how things could be improved is the bigger problem. From the dept secretaries down – there is cronyism, nepotism and disregard for what should be the mission of these programs and depts.

    the corruption and failures in Pierre have eroded into all these areas and whittled away at DSS (Yankton HSC), DHS (SDDC), DOE , DOC ….etc,

    Actually this guy blatantly taking money is questionably no worse than the waste of daily dysfunctional government and obviously poorly run programs – even if they don’t actively embezzle money.