And seriously, can you name anyone who can explain five amendments, three initiated laws, and two referenda better than Dr. Burns, possibly SDSU’s greatest living political scientist? Especially interesting should be Dr. Burns’s observations on the ballot measures directly impacting the political process: Referred Law 19, Initiated Measure 22, and Amendments T and V.
Dr. Burns will speak (and field questions, surely) Monday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Brookings Public Library. Brookings County Democrats are hosting Monday’s event, which is free and open to the public. And Brookings neighbors, do the rest of us a favor and post clips of Dr. Burns’s presentation to YouTube!
If police officers constituted an aggrieved class disempowered by systematic, institutional bias, appropriating the Black Lives Matter slogan to express one’s concerns about police safety might be a valid act of protest. However, despite the sensational events of the last couple weeks, police are still safer in the United States today than they were during the last three decades. They also have lots of power, funding, and public support. There is little if any sign that police lives are not valued in America’s power structure.
“Black Lives Matter” is a political statement that black lives are not valued in America’s power structure. To appropriate their slogan to protest the killing of police officers by thugs on the street (yup, I said thugs, and I mean it) is not just as pointless as putting up a sign reading “Property Rights Matter” to protest sporadic thefts around the country. It is a direct rebuke to those fighting to rectify genuine imbalances in America’s power structure.
And if that sign and that sheriff’s vehicle belong to the same person, that rebuke is coming from a member of the agents of the state whose actions are at the core of the Black Lives Matter critique. Rather than signaling a willingness to engage in a discussion about racial bias on policing, that member of the police would essentially be saying to any people of color in Brookings, buzz off.
On Friday, investigators began showing up on the doorsteps of individuals who circulated petitions for Initiated Measure 21, the 36% rate cap on payday loans. Two Rapid City circulators reported to me that Michael Napier, Rapid City-based bail bondsman for Dan Lederman’s Speedy Release, questioned their circulating activities on behalf of South Dakotans for Responsible Lending, the South Dakota group sponsoring the ballot question.
On Saturday, another Rapid City circulator reported that a different individual appeared on his doorstep with the same questions. On Sunday, readers in Brookings and Sioux Falls reported that Napier visited them with questions about their 36%-rate-cap petitioning. Napier showed up at Robert Klein’s house Sunday morning. By mid-afternoon he was in Sioux Falls visiting Cathy Brechtelsbauer and other circulators. Brechtelsbauer said that Napier wouldn’t give his last name (the photo makes pretty clear he’s the same guy as I reported Friday) but claimed that he “is doing us a favor in that he had already talked to about 60 people (18 to go) and he has not found any irregularities.”
Circulators, keep your information about the payday lenders’ intimidation tactics coming. And if accosted by Napier or other minions of the poverty industry, remember: you do have the right to remain silent to this non-judicial investigator, and anything you say can and will be used against you by the payday lenders in a court of law and maybe campaign advertisements. The simplest response circulators may offer Napier and his colleagues is, “Asked and answered”—you signed an oath on your petitions saying you witnessed every signature and complied with other petition rules. Everything Napier and the payday lenders’ other hired guns need to know is already written and sworn and thus far more valid than any hearsay evidence they may be gathering in their door-to-door intimidation campaign.
Tuesday’s primary candidates aren’t the only folks knocking on doors and asking for South Dakotans’ support today. (Reynold, Patrick, Joan, Darrell, Carmen, Deb, Lora, Stace, Caleb, Dan, Drew, Todd—you are out knocking and not reading the blogs today, right?) NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota is launching a door-to-door campaign in Sioux Falls and Brookings this month to mobilize voters to counter the suppression of women’s rights peddled by South Dakota’s anti-abortion lobby.
NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota, together with NARAL Pro-Choice America and staff from five states across the country, is descending on Sioux Falls this weekend for its first-ever activist training. Dozens of reproductive freedom advocates will be going door-to-door in the city of Sioux Falls June 4 and 5, to identify supporters and incite pro-choice activism in South Dakota.
The summit is integral to NARAL’s aggressive, state-centric plan to build a new base of power, made up of diverse constituencies who are primed to be vocally supportive of reproductive rights. To achieve this vision for nationwide power, NARAL has strategically invested in key states to directly confront anti-choice policies and actors.
“We know that seven in 10 Americans support legal access to abortion – even in states where anti-choice politicians hold super-majorities,” says Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “That’s why we have made strategic investments in important states across the country like South Dakota to train the network of activists who will help defend and expand our reproductive freedom.”
This initiative is part of a $2 million investment to combat the dangerous implications of TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws across the country in the wake of the Supreme Court case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a challenge to theTexas TRAP Law HB2.
“This is a critical moment for women and families our state,” says Susan Krger, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota states. “Because the decision released by the Supreme Court may have enough of an impact to close the lone abortion clinic in South Dakota, this summit is an opportunity to give a visual presence to what we believe is the silent majority in our state. South Dakotans have voted twice to keep abortion safe and legal, and that liberty continues to be chipped away.”
The canvass summit is the launch of NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota’s first door-to-door voter engagement effort, and will continue in Sioux Falls and Brookings during the month of June [NARAL Pro-Choice South Dakota, press release, 2016.06.03].
One voter (one, out of 65 doors I knocked the other night) asked me if I was pro-life or pro-choice. The correct answer is, “Both.” Life is precious, but so is choice. We should respect human life and its inherent dignity… but respecting the dignity of our fellow human beings means respecting the right of women to choose what happens inside their bodies. Some choices, like pregnancy, are not for the government to make.
The Human Rights Campaign has released its 2015 Municipal Equality Index, a measure of how well city policies and ordinances respect the LGBT residents. Since I last reported on the MEI in 2013, Brookings has made significant progress, raising its score from 34 out of 100 to 52. Brookings keeps its spot as the leader in South Dakota for LGBT-tolerant policy… but that’s not saying a lot:
The average score for cities in South Dakota is 23 out of 100 points, which falls below the national average of 56. Aberdeen: 18, Brookings: 52, Pierre: 12, Rapid City: 22, Sioux Falls: 28, Vermillion: 15, Watertown: 18.
…“The MEI shows that overall South Dakota is not an inviting place for LGBTQ+ to live except for Brookings which has been proactive in creating a welcoming environment,” said Lawrence Novotny, board chair of Equality South Dakota. “Equality South Dakota is attempting to improve the situation in South Dakota” [Human Rights Campaign, press release, 2015.12.17].
Sioux Falls and Brookings leaders then need to take a roadtrip to the Twin Cities. Minneapolis and St. Paul are among the 47 cities out of 408 surveyed that got perfect scores. Only three other cities in adjoining states made that perfect list: Davenport, Iowa City, and Missoula.
The Human Rights Campaign groups the 41 criteria for its MEI into five categories:
Municipality’s employment policies, including transgender-inclusive insurance coverage, contracting nondiscrimination requirements, and other policies relating to equal treatment of LGBT city employees;
The sad thing is, we’re talking about Brookings, a county that is better positioned than most in South Dakota to grow. Meyer has long recognized this potential in Brookings, but even he and his wife can’t find the job opportunities to keep them here. Even Brookings loses good talent… and this time, we really, truly can blame the Legislature.
Petitioners collecting signatures for the fake 18% rate cap at SDSU yesterday appeared unable to give signers accurate information about the proposed constitutional amendment they are circulating.
SDSU student Cully Williams found at least three circulators working the fake 18% rate cap and Marsy’s Law petitions (again, that shady association reported by Matt Hildreth Tuesday) outside the SDSU Student Union yesterday. He stopped at their table to ask some questions. As this video shows, he got some wildly misleading answers:
Here’s my transcript of the relevant dialogue:
[Circulator 1, seated, in the “Proud to Be an American” shirt]: The second one is regarding payday loans. It’s to make the companies more transparent with their interest rates. They can’t just charge whatever they feel like it. After it gets up to 18%, they have to notify the customers. Every time they raise the interest rate, they have to notify the customers [petition circulator, recorded by Cully Williams, Brookings, SD, 2015.09.17].
No lender may charge interest for the loan or use of money in excess of eighteen per cent per annum unless the borrower agrees to another rate in writing. No law fixing an annual percentage rate of interest for the loan or use of money is valid unless the law provides borrowers the right to contract at inteerst rates as may be agreed to by the parties.
No law fixing a rate of interest or return for the loan or use of money, or fixing the service or any other charge that may be made or imposed for the loan or use of money, for any particular group or class engaged in lending money is valid. Any rate of interest or charge fixed by law shall apply generally and to all lenders without regard to the type or classification of the lender’s business [decoy amendment, submitted by Lisa Furlong, South Dakotans for Fair Lending, first published on Dakota Free Press, 2015.07.13].
Nothing in that text says what the circulator just said about notifying customers of increases in interest rates.
Now, does the 18% amendment really cap interest rates at 18%?
[Williams]: So they can’t put the interest rate over 18%?
[C1]: Right. Well, they can do it over 18%, but the customer has to be notified that that’s happening.
[W]: So… I think I’m missing something here. So this doesn’t cap the rate?
[W]: So what’s it do then, if it doesn’t cap the rate?
So this doesn’t cap the rate? No.Boom—there you have it, one of petition sponsor Lisa Furlong’s own circulators telling you what I’ve reported consistently since Furlong’s proposal went public: it is a fake rate cap.
[W]: Does it also ban the one that actually does cap the rate at 36%?
[C1]: No, these two are not exclusive. You can vote for both of them.
[W]: O.K., but this one doesn’t have text that would explicitly ban a statutory cap of 36%?
[C1]: No, there’s two of them out now.
[W]: I know, but… if I read this one here, it says… “This amendment eliminates the ability to set statutory interest rates that are inconsistent with this amendment” which would not allow a 36% interest rate, since the 18% only applies to verbal, so that would actually ban a cap on that, is what this would do, unless I’m reading that wrong.
Williams reads Attorney General Marty Jackley’s explanation of the fake 18% rate cap pretty accurately. Confronted with the text in her own hand, this circulator has to eject. So bring on the help—a pregnant lady! She wouldn’t try to mislead us, would she?
[Circulator 2, standing, in yellow t-shirt]: It’s basically so that when your interest rate goes up above 18%, the lenders contact you and make sure that you know that your interest rate is increasing, so they have to like let you know, because it goes up to like 300% interest and things like that really fast, based virtually without people even noticing…. It’s about like having more disclosure [Williams video, 2015.09.17].
Oh, she would! Her response is a strange mix of fantasy—again, the proposed amendment says nothing about notifications or disclosure or increasing rates—and ugly fact. I’m surprised she’s allowed to even mention the triple-digit interest rates that payday lenders charge.
Back to the next big question: does this amendment really cap interest rates?
Fascinating! We now have a second circulator confirming that the 18% petition is a fake rate cap! As a bonus, this fake 18-percenter acknowledges that “the other one,” the 36% rate cap petition brought to us by Steve Hildebrand and Steve Hickey, is the real one. She even says she wishes she had that one. (Ma’am, click here to contact the real 36-percenters… and save your mortal soul!)
Now the big legal question: is the fake 18% rate cap really just a trick to abolish the real 36% rate cap?
[W]: Does this one ban capping interest rates by statutory law, because there’s a clause in there that does say that, so this would actually ban an actual cap, because it’s a constitutional amendment.
[C2]: I don’t know. I know there’s like a few of them out there. That’s a great question. I don’t know.
[W]: Because it kinda does, so I was just seeing if I’m misreading that.
[C2]: There was a plebiscite that was out there before that I believe is the one that you are talking about, and then they came out with a new one. But I… I don’t know, I’m going to be honest with you [Williams video, 2015.09.17].
I’m going to be honest with you—I don’t know where anyone on the street in South Dakota comes up with the phrase “There was a plebiscite.” (As a weekend diversion, I invite readers to find any instance of the word plebiscite being used in the South Dakota press and blogosphere.)
[W]: I mean like when I read it, with signatures on it, it actually said that it would ban statutory caps—
[C2]: Oh really?
[C2]: O.K., good to know.
[W]: I just didn’t know if I’m misreading it or—
[C2]: Um, no, I don’t know. That’s good to know. I should go over it, too. Have a good day.
So instead of explaining the amendment, as the first circulator said she could, the second circulator ends up admitting she hasn’t really gone over the petition she’s urging people to sign. Sigh.
Williams figures he’s had enough, but on his way (to her credit! Always Be Closing!), the first circulator takes another shot for his signature. Williams learns that this gal has been watching the news:
[Circulator 1]: Did you… sign it?
[Williams]: Let me read that one more time. Maybe I’m just off base here…. “This amendment eliminates the ability to set statutory interest rates that are inconsistent with this amendment.” Hey, are the guys that were on KELOLand?
[W]: You were?
[W]: Are you from South Dakota?
[C1]: Yes, I am. I can show you my ID—
[W]: No, I’ll take your word for it.
[C1]: Yeah, they… I think they even took a picture of him [pointing to other circulator on sidewalk] but his person was with him and they just left the person out… they didn’t take a picture of the person. So it really messed us up [Williams video, 2015.09.17].
This circulator and her partners may not have to run from Angela Kennecke’s blue dress for breaking petition law, but they prove that the petitioners carrying the fake 18% rate cap are either unable or unwilling to tell signers the truth about this decoy petition.
I was just approached by this guy outside the post office in Brookings. He has a bait and switch strategy to get people to sign the decoy pay day lending petition.
He’s asking for signatures on two petitions . The first one is for victims of abuse to be notified when their assailant is released from prison but he quickly pivots to the decoy petition for caping payday loads at 18%.
These pay day lenders are shady! Unethical business practices like this are why they need to get out town.
Seriously, who uses victims of abuse to con people for monetary gain? [Matt Hildreth, Facebook post, 2015.09.15]
One commenter under Hildreth’s post says he saw this same circulator in Sioux Falls last night. The same source says this circulator said he is from Los Angeles. If that is true, and if the circulator has not established formal residency in South Dakota, any petition sheets he circulates are invalid under SDCL 12-1-3, which requires that petition circulators be residents of South Dakota.
Other commenters indicate the Marsy/fake-18-percenters may have been circulating on the SDSU campus, outside the Brookings Hy-Vee, and at Sam’s Club in Rapid City, all places where petitioners must obtain permission to circulate.
Other sources have spoken with Marsy/fake-18-percenters and heard the names of three different out-of-state petition companies carrying this deceptive tandem of petitions. Companies I’ve heard named include National Ballot Access of Georgia, which circulated the shady and doomed South Dakota Clean and Open Government Act for the 2008 ballot, circulated some of Ward Connerly’s deceptive anti-affirmative action petitions, and caught heck for shoddy signature gathering.
Drivers/Petitioners to Help Cap Payday Loans Needed (10 positions) (Rapid City)
compensation: $15/hr + production bonus incentives
employment type: employee’s choice
Encore Political Services, LLC is looking for 10 motivated workers to help get signatures for two ballot initiatives from South Dakota voters.
One initiative is to cap Payday Lending loans at 18% maximum.
The other is Marsy’s law, which requires victims to be notified when offenders of those same victims are released from prison.
Pay starts at $15/hr, and bonus incentives are provided.
Interviews start Weds, 9/2/15, at 10:00am. This is a time sensitive job, as our deadline for signatures is November 9th. Work same day as interview is available.
Experience preferred, but not necessary.
A check of Craigslist this evening finds six ads posted today seeking petitioners in Pierre and the surrounding area. None refer to specific petitions, but all direct calls to Ron at 262-883-5075, a New Berlin, Wisconsin, number. Another pair of ads appeared last week seeking circulators in the Sioux Falls area and directing callers to 310-483-2750, a Torrance, California, number.
The association of the Marsy’s Law petition with the fake 18% rate cap petition calls into question the intent and integrity of the Marsy’s Law petition, its circulators, and its sponsor, SDGOP operative Jason Glodt. A circulator like the purple-shirter in Brookings who tries to establish false ethos with a plea for “victims’ rights” only to trick people into signing a fake 18% rate cap deserves neither our trust nor our signatures. A ballot question committee that allows its measure to be intermingled with something as nefarious as the fake 18% rate cap should be viewed with suspicion, if not denied a place on the ballot.
If you see anyone circulating a petition, you should ask right away, “Are you carrying the 18% rate cap petition?” If the answer is yes, you should refuse to sign any document that petitioner is carrying.
But before walking away, do get a name and take pictures. We should all know what deceitful circulators are in our midst so we can avoid them and prevent them from tricking others into abusing our ballot with their lies.
CAFOs and biochar headline two educational social events near Brookings this weekend.
First up, Dakota Rural Action is hosting “Beyond the Barn,” a combination potluck and lecture program featuring two speakers on confined animal feeding operations—i.e., the giant feedlots that imperil our water, air, and property values. John Ikerd, professor emeritus of ag economics at University of Missouri–Columbia, will discuss his research on and experience with the harms CAFOs do to rural communities. (For a preview, check out Professor Ikerd’s 2007 manifesto on factory farms.) Then local lawyer Mitch Peterson will talk about laws surrounding CAFOs and the ways citizens may challenge CAFO permits and operations. “Beyond the Barn takes place at Twila Eggers’s barn, 21609 469 Ave., southwest of Brookings.
If you aren’t too stuffed with potato salad and CAFO knowledge, you can head up Medary to Bill and Julie Ross’s Good Roots Farm and Gardens, 40 acres of unfactory-like farm north of Brookings at 3712 Medary Ave., at 8 p.m. to see your public university research dollars at work and learn about how biochar can boost your garden soil quality:
The free event includes a fireside explanation of how to make biochar, including indicators of its quality, and how to apply it. Free biochar (mixed with compost) will be given away to those who bring containers (suggested size: gallon ice cream bucket.)
Biochar is a special kind of charcoal; it’s ideal for enhancing the soil ecosystem. Biochar provides a perfect physical matrix for soil microbiota to thrive – it’s like a party house for the soil! Dr. Trish Jackson of SDSU has led the South Dakota Board of Regent’s funded research project, “Farming with Biochar: Quantifying Gains in Natural and Financial Capital”….
…At the biochar party, Dr. Jackson and her team will demonstrate how to make biochar in a burn pit using wood from the farm. This process requires no prior know-how and no special equipment. It’s a simple, straightforward method developed by Pacific Biochar’s Josiah Hunt, to make large or small quantities of biochar in a just a few hours. The biochar can then be mixed with soil for the garden, for potting mix; it can be directly applied as a top dressing to established plants or placed in a manure spreader for larger scale applications [press release, South Dakota State University, 2015.07.13].
Keep CAFOs from fouling your soil, then make you dirt better with biochar—how much more education could you ask for on a summer Saturday?
There’s just Mayor Reed showing us the nice things around Brookings while the videographers do their best to make Brookings look good before amidst bare pre-spring trees. The video could have used more Brookingsians (the SDSU students cheering “Hobo Days!” were a nice break from what Pat Powers at any moment should be deriding as his mayor’s Huetheresque vanity and self-promotion). But blessedly, Koch & Reed avoid the kamikaze marketing of Lawrence & Schiller. Unlike the state’s high-priced marketers, they believe their town’s assets—industry, education, recreation, Nick’s Hamburgers, and beer—are good enough to sell Brookings without desperate attempts to fabricate Internet memes.
And Team Brookings put together this positive video without a three-year, three-million-dollar contract from the Governor’s slush fund. Imagine the videos we could get if that Future Fund money were diverted from the slick advertisers in Sioux Falls to local boosters who simply love their towns. Videos like Koch & Reed’s may not get the President to come for a photo opp, but they can do more to educate and recruit potential residents and entrepreneurs than Lawrence & Schiller’s marketing ploys.
P.S.: Mayor Reed refers to Nick’s hamburgers as “sliders.” I’m wondering: when did the term “slider” enter the local culinary vernacular? And does anyone walk into Nick’s and order a “slider“?