Wait a minute: Kevin Woster floats the possibility of Rapid City journalist and filmmaker Sam Hurst running for U.S. Senate, and Pat Powers derisively dismisses Hurst as “a LA filmmaker,” apparently because Hurst used to work in Los Angeles.
But some dentist moves here from Portlandia just four years ago and decides to run for District 30 House, and since he’s a fellow conservative Catholic, Powers gives him softball press. If we’re going to pursue Powers’s usual politics of exclusion, Rich Mounce is far less South Dakotan than Sam Hurst… but real South Dakota-ness is only an issue for the GOP spin machine when it needs to avoid talking issues and demonize a Democrat.
Rich Mounce promises to bring “a new and fresh voice” to Pierre. Come on, Rich: saying you’re “anchored in Christian values,” dedicating yourself to “Preserving cherished Second Amendment rights,” and using “Aiding the global efforts of our military services, especially those at Ellsworth AFB” as code for skewing the military mission to sustain your district’s dependence on corporate welfare for the military-industrial complex is anything but new and fresh in Pierre.
Unlike the South Dakota Republican Party, whose members fear folks from the West Coast who might change our culture, I welcome folks who want to move to South Dakota, participate in civic life, and share their ideas for improving our fair state. But sheesh, at least bring some new ideas… not to mention some philosophical consistency.
On top of everything else, the South Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors will give second reading tomorrow to a new policy on drones—i.e., you can’t have them at state events:
The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), also known as drones, is prohibited for any purpose by any person at any SDHSAA post-season tournament venues.
For purposes of this policy, a UAV is any aircraft without a human pilot aboard the device. This prohibition applies to all fields of play, courts, arena, mats, gym floor or pool, and includes a ban on the entire facility being used as part of the SDHSAA event, including the spectator areas and parking areas.
Tournament management shall refuse admission or entry to anyone attempting to use a UAV; and if necessary, tournament management shall remove anyone attempting to use a UAV and/or confiscate the UAV.
An exception to this policy, in writing, may be made in specific cases for SDHSAA broadcast partners, provided the management of the tournament facility permits the presence of UAV’s for broadcast purposes under the control of the SDHSAA [SDHSAA, proposed “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (Drone) Policy,” first read and approved 2015.06.10, scheduled for second reading 2015.08.27; SDHSAA Board of Directors Agenda Packet, Item #9].
Rep. Roger Hunt (R-25/Brandon) wants transgender students to drop trou and show their genitalia so officials may overrule the students’ gender identification with their apparent biological sex.
The South Dakota High School Activities Association doesn’t want to get into anyone’s pants. However, in their meeting tomorrow in Pierre, the SDHSAA Board of Directors will consider revisions to the transgender participation policy they adopted last year to expand the information gathered to establish the sincerity and consistency of a student athlete’s gender identification and expression.
The current policy requires that transgender students seeking approval to play on the gender teams that match their gender identity must submit a current transcript with declared gender, documentation from people who know them affirming their gender identification, documentation of accommodations already made by the school for their gender identification, and written verification of gender identification from a health care professional. The proposed revision drafted by SDHSAA legal counsel this summer adds the following to the documentation requirements:
“A written statement from the student and the student’s parent(s)/legal guardian(s) affirming the consistent gender identity and expression to which the student self-relates”
“Any other evidence as may be determined appropriate by the school or the SDHSAA office relative to the eligibility determination which may reflect upon whether the gender identity is sincerely held as part of the person’s core identity”
The existing participation policy already requires transgender students to jump through far more hoops to play basketball than other students. The first additional document requires students and their parents to write another document, albeit one that they could keep short to obey the letter of the rule: “Dear SDHSAA: We certify that our daughter Jane consistently identifies and expresses herself as female. Sincerely, signed, Parents and Jane.” The second revision doesn’t mandate more paperwork—a school that trusts and respects its transgender students can apparently choose not to determine any further information necessary—but the vague “any other evidence” does open the door for balky schools to delay applications and harass students with additional invasive demands. I’d tread carefully there.
The other major revision is the replacement of the Gender Identification Eligibility Committee with an Independent Hearing Officer. Right now, the GIEC, made up of a physician, a mental health professional, and an “advocate familiar with gender identity and expression issues” reviews and rules on transgender participation applications. The physician and mental health professional are to be familiar with the World Professional Association for Transgender Health Standards of Care, which some legislators have alleged are overly advocative. SDHSAA decides not to fight that fight and drops the WPATH language, but it also takes decisions out of the hands of professionals familiar with transgender issues and hands them to one lawyer. If conservatives can’t stand five lawyers interpreting law, they should go ape over one lawyer deciding a child’s gender. It is possible that moving the decision from a committee to one Independent Hearing Officer will speed the process, but while the proposed revision strikes the fourteen-day deadline for GIEC decisions, it does not appear to impose a deadline on the IHO. Come on, SDHSAA: if a committee can decide in fourteen days, an individual should be able to decide in seven.
Of course, the SDHSAA is just talking about tweaking the bits and pieces of their transgender policy. Rep. Roger Hunt wants to see kids kibbles and bits, and his culture warriors will likely bombard the Board of Directors tomorrow with their calls to stop the scourge of kids trying to be themselves and play ball. SDHSAA, consider your revisions carefully, but stand your ground. Remember that you, SDHSAA, are working to provide all students with safe, healthy opportunities to participate in learning activities, while Roger Hunt, the Family Policy Council, and the other people shouting at you are the bullies blaming the victims and trying to get you to join in the bullying.
Among the sticky wickets the South Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors confronts in its meeting tomorrow is Freeman’s request to form an emergency football co-op with Canistota. Only ten boys showed up for practice this month, so Freeman initially decided to cancel its season.
Canistota is willing to play ball by adding Freeman’s boys to its 9A football roster. But Canistota’s fellow 9A schools are saying no way… or at least not to Canistota’s way. Every 9A school but Canistota has signed onto a letter penned by Gayville-Volin principal Tom Rice saying that they’re fine with the co-op, but only if Canistota follows the rules and moves up to 11B or 9AA, as the additional enrollment from Freeman would require them to do. Here’s Mr. Rice’s argument against Canistota’s request:
It has come to my attention that Freeman and Canistota are considering a Co-op due to Freeman’s inability or unwillingness to have a team. I am in favor of this as are other schools in Class 9A. The male ADM puts this Co-op at 58. While the number escapes me at this time, I believe the 58 boys would classify them for the 11B ranks. I want to be very clear that I have great respect for both Canistota and Freeman. We have competed against them in other sports and would look forward to the opportunity in FB as well. I admire Canistota’s willingness to take in the Freeman program, but that would also create an unfair advantage for all other schools in Class 9A including Gayville-Volin. At the bare minimum, Canistota should play their regular schedule and if they qualify for the playoffs (which I believe they will), they should move to 9AA.
…I have discussed this subject with many schools today and will send them a copy of the letter as well. If the Canistota District balks at this due to our request for them to move up, I understand. I also understand that 9AA schools could have their feathers ruffled as well. Who wants to have their island blown up? We all want what is best for our school districts. To me, I know this is the best course of action.
The Freeman boys would have to drive 44 miles to take Mr. Rice up on his generous offer, versus 24 miles to get to practice in Canistota.
Lemmon athletic director and coach Brent Dirk agrees that a Canistota-Freeman co-op should bump up:
All kids should have the opportunity to participate, but if an emergency coop is formed then the new coop should have to follow the same rules as the rest of the current football coops when it comes to classification. In this instance of a Canistota/Freeman coop (ADM above 56) I believe the coop would get the opportunity to compete in the playoffs as 11B this year or they could chose to use their two year “grace period” to make the adjustment to 11 man, which would have them classified as 9AA for post season play this season [Brent Dirk, e-mail to Tom Rice, 2015.08.24, in SDHSAA Board of Directors August 2015 agenda packet].
Menno-Marion head football coach Todd G. Obele musters his Master of Science (yes, he signs his e-mail with “M.S.”) to oppose the Freeman-Canistota proposal:
The football situation in Freeman is NOT an emergency. An emergency is defined as the following; “An unforeseen combination of circumstances or resulting state that calls for immediate action” (Merriam Webster.com). Participation numbers for Freeman football have been declining for at least three years, this cannot be considered unforeseen. Should the lack of their efforts or action be rewarded by a last minute decision to partner with a pre season #1 in 9A classification?
My understanding is that Canistota will take Freeeman players as long as they can stay 9A. Canistota has played this game before, as long as they do not have to give anything up, they are willing to accommodate. I am sure a lot of teams would enjoy ten more players and stay in their current classification. I have heard from many community members and other coaches that are very upset at this last minute coop scenario.
In 2011/12, I coached a team that only had 10 players, we did not quit or forfeit any games, we played our schedule!
I am asking that you do not allow this last minute coop and at the very least for the fairness of all other teams, if you should decide to grant this coop, they be moved to 9AA classification [Todd G. Obele, M.S., e-mail to SDHSAA exec Wayne Carney, 2015.08.24, in SDHSAA Board of Directors August 2015 agenda packet].
Erroneous semicolon aside (what, really? who gets through graduate school still thinking that a semicolon introduces a list?), Obele is right, as are Dirk, Rice, and the rest of Class 9A. Rules are rules. Contrary to our Junior Senator’s thinking, we make rules for good reason, and we all agree to follow them. If Canistota is able to access a larger pool of players, it should play schools with player pools of similar sizes, per the rules endorsed by Canistota and every other member school of the SDHSAA. Moving up in class won’t stop the Canistota and Freeman boys from playing, and playing is what every party involved here says matters.
Seeing all those angry Americans cheering for Donald Trump’s empty shouting, Senator Mike Rounds is working on his impression of the billionaire Presidential candidate. South Dakota’s junior Senator whined to the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce yesterday about just how bad politicians (which he is) in Washington (where he works) are:
Rounds says politicians make the wrong calls for individuals and business leaders in states that are operating prudently.
“And I think we ought to be mad about it. It’s broken. It is dysfunctional. It is worse that I ever thought it was. But a lot of the folks that are there right now, as good as they are? They’ve never seen it working correctly. So, yeah. For me, it’s been kind of frustrating…” [Kealey Bultena, “Rounds: Washington Worse Than I Thought,” SDPB Radio, 2015.08.25].
And what harm do politicians (which Mike Rounds is) do in Washington (where he works)? They make lots of rules to govern a really complicated society:
“Here’s the problem: the founding fathers never expected that Congress would give up its ability to legislation to the executive branch in the rule-making process. Today right now we pass 16 federal rules for every single law that we pass,” Rounds says. “That’s 3,500 to 3,600 more rules written every single year. You live right now with one million You couldn’t comply with all of them even if you could read them” [Bultena, 2015.08.25].
Rounds implies that (1) we shouldn’t have so many rules and (2) what rules we do have should be made by politicians (which he is) in Congress (where he works).
But the South Dakota government that the former Legislator and Governor touts as an exemplar of the common sense to which Washington is impervious does the same thing. South Dakota has all sorts of administrative rules created by executive branch agencies. The Legislature authorizes them to make all those rules under the sensible premise that legislators have neither the time nor the expertise to create useful rules for all the different realms of South Dakota life that require governance.
Right now in Washington, D.C., administrators of government agencies are drafting, discussing, and enforcing the rules that help keep America running smoothly and cleanly. Alas, their efforts allow Washington politicians like Senator Mike Rounds to spend the August recess making silly speeches… but hey, every process generates some inefficiency.
I suppose the good news is Karla Pfeifer didn’t die. But for the third time in four years, the Brown County Fair manager has been removed by a higher power:
After five months on the job, Karla Pfeifer has been fired as manager of the Brown County Fair.
Brown County commissioners took the action this morning after Pfeifer refused to resign, saying it was against her principles [Shannon Marvel, “Fired Fair Manager Says She Did Nothing Wrong,” Aberdeen American News, 2015.08.25].
I don’t have past Brown County Fairs to compare, but I went to the fair five days this year and had a fine time. Whose sheep did Pfeifer kick?
After the meeting, she said she was given three reasons for being fired, none of them seeming particularly grievous. One that she forgot to order two trophies out of more than 100, she said. She said a commissioner also told her she didn’t submit two grant applications, but Pfeifer contends she turned in the applications.
“Quite frankly, I don’t remember the third one,” she said.
“I didn’t do anything wrong, so I’m not going to put my character and reputation on the line to accept the resignation offer when I feel that I did the best that I could,” Pfeifer said.
I’m just guessing, but #3 could have had something to do with the Tuesday night ticket snafu, in which the grandstand box office ran out of $12 single-entry tickets and required folks in line to buy $55 all-event passes to attend that night’s rodeo. Of course, Brown County Commission chairman said back in May that it looked like county IT manager Paul Sivertsen’s new online ticket-vending website looked like it was “progressing nicely and things will work this year,” and neither Sutton nor Sivertsen have tendered resignations over the ticket snafu.
Whatever Pfeifer did to get fired, isn’t wasn’t a lack of trying. She busted her chops running her first fair on maybe four hours of sleep each night on an air mattress in her fair office. Of course, we all know there can be a difference between working up a sweat and working smart.
Cool! The LRC is running just like my blog office: drop the paper and do everything online!
The bad news is that the merciless advance of innovation imperils our access to live audio from the Legislature. South Dakota Public Broadcasting, bless their hearts, is still using software based on Windows XP to stream audio from the Legislature and the Public Utilities Commission:
The root problem is the present system relies on the Windows XP operating system that isn’t being supported any longer. [SDPB exec Julie] Overgaard said SDPB’s system “probably” could last through the 2016 legislative session, but she couldn’t guarantee it.
“Should we run into a hiccup, there’s not necessarily anybody to call for a spare part or to fix it,” she said.
Overgaard said the new system would come from Haivision, an international firm based in Montreal and Chicago.
A hiccup in audio from Pierre during Session? Noooooo!
Heck, I say we just use eminent domain to acquire the rights to Windows XP and the existing software and pay some techies to keep it running forever. (I’ll bet there are some geeks out there who would revel in that challenge.)
Or instead of spending $10,950 a month on new software, perhaps we should just recruit a few more pages and interns, hand them juiced up smartphones, and stream audio and video via Periscope or Google Hangouts.
But whatever it takes, the Legislature should take immediate action to ensure that South Dakotans across the state can still listen live to their Legislature at work and review the audio archive online at any time.
Speaking of Presidential politics, the current Commander-in-Chief isn’t just keeping the seat warm until the next Democrat takes over leadership of the free world in 2017. Far from lame-ducking, President Barack Obama is out defining the legacy on which his Democratic successor will campaign. Mother Jones picks out a dozen big things President Obama is has gotten done since the 2014 mid-term elections:
Normalized relations with Cuba.
Signed a climate deal with China.
Issued new EPA ozone rules.
Successfully argued in favor of same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court.
Put in place economic sanctions on Russia that have Vladimir Putin reeling.
Pressured the FCC to approve net neutrality rules.
Issued new EPA coal regulations.
Issued an executive order on immigration.
Got fast-track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and seems poised to pass it.
Signed a nuclear deal with Iran and appears on track to get it passed.
Won yet another Supreme Court case keeping Obamacare intact.
South Dakota Democrats, I know you could use the money. But review Article 11, Section 1 of the SDDP Constitution:
Neither the State Central Committee, the State Executive Board nor any County Central Committee shall finance or endorse the candidacy of any person seeking the nomination of the Party in a contested Primary Election [South Dakota Democratic Party Constitution, Article 11, Section 1, downloaded 2015.08.25].
Perhaps one could make a semantic argument that agreeing to collaborate with a candidate to raise money does not technically constitute an endorsement. Perhaps one could further argue that a joint fundraising agreement is not the same as financing the candidate, it’s just South Dakota Democrats passing the hat and promising to split the cash with Clinton.
But that sounds like thin ice to me. If the South Dakota Democratic Party wants to help the Democratic nominee for President raise money, the party had better wait until we have a nominee.
South Dakota also trails every adjoining state in the percentage of the state’s total income spent on K-12 education:
If dollars measure the value we place on various public functions, our overall spending on K-12 education, including teacher salaries, show that South Dakotans value public education less than all of their neighbors do. Out of a $1,000 paycheck, we South Dakotans won’t even give $30 to our public schools. Minnesotans would give over $36; Nebraskans, almost $40; Wyomingians, $47.
When looking at revenue rather than spending, South Dakota is last nationally for the proportion of revenue coming from the state as related to personal income. For every $1,000 in personal income, the state of South Dakota sent $10.49 to schools compared to first place Vermont, which sent $50.23. The national average was $19.29 [“Education Data: South Dakota Last in Region for K-12 Spending in Relation to Personal Income,” South Dakota Dashboard, 2015.08.05].
We try to make up for the Legislature’s miserliness with higher-than-average local and federal funding, but that’s not enough to lift ourselves off the floor.
And for those of you who keep shouting, “You don’t make education better just by throwing money at it,” please, knock it off. Less money means fewer opportunities for kids. Ask Spearfish superintendent Dave Peters:
“The more resources you have, the more you can offer kids,” Peters said. “When I first started in this district, we cut $2 million out of the budget. In a school district this size, when you cut a staff member, you cut a program … and the vast majority of that still hasn’t been added back today.”
…Programs that were eliminated or reduced at the elementary level include: the gifted and talented program, the swimming program, the parallel block scheduling, and planning time and staff development.
…Middle school programs that have been eliminated or reduced include: foreign language, home economics, conflict resolution/peer mediation, industrial technology, alternative education, creative expressions (drama, art, writing), library, band lessons, staff development, and all sixth-grade extracurricular activities.
…[N]early 30 high school courses have been eliminated, including: advanced speech, American cultural studies, auto mechanics I, auto mechanics II, auto mechanics III, child development, clothing and textiles, creative writing II, drama II, electronics, family living, foods I, housing, independent living, industrial technology, jazz band, life skills, multi media art history, marriage and family, mixed mediums, music theory, mythology, nutrition and foods, power mechanics, survival cooking, swing choir, and journalism.
Nearly a dozen high school activities have been eliminated, and several others have been impacted by cuts in salaries, supplies, meals, travel, dues/fees, and professional services [Jaci Conrad Pearson, “SD Last in Region for K-12 Spending vs. Income,” Black Hills Pioneer, 2015.08.14].
How do we meaningfully fund K-12 education, the Governor’s Blue Ribbon K-12 panel asks? Once again, the answer is obvious, and the answer is in Pierre: South Dakota Legislature, stop blaming local districts and stop cheating schools of dollars and kids of opportunities. Find the political will that our local districts and every state around us are able to find and fund K-12 education as if it matters.