Rep. Kristi Noem today met with Vice President Mike Pence to discuss the upcoming congressional agenda, including Obamacare’s repeal and replacement as well as tax reform.
“There’s no shortage of work to do when it comes to getting our country back on track, so it was good to talk more about how we can continue to collaborate and move this country forward,” said Noem. “Whether it’s repealing Obamacare or tackling tax reform for the first time in three decades, it was made clear that both the Vice President and I are committed to getting things done” [Rep. Kristi Noem, press release, 2017.06.13].
That’s the whole press release. No specifics about agriculture or other issues of keen interest to South Dakota, no explanation of why Pence’s boss has changed his mind about Noem’s vote to repeal Obamacare and now says the plan she voted for is “mean”, just vague hand-waving about moving forward, which this Congress hasn’t done yet.
Tables more empty than full get the foreground, while the milling crowd that might fill those seats is tucked away in the background. I love those white shoes, but come one—reverse that angle! Shoot where the people are!
As I hit the last gravel stretch of Highway 1806 on the way to the Sutton Ranch Wednesday, eating the dust of a fellow nick-0f-timer from Lincoln County who was a bit less eager than I to punch along those gravelly curves, I questioned, as an eager reader did, the wisdom of announcing a statewide campaign out in what one may accurately deem several miles south of the boonies.
Then I saw the view from the Sutton Ranch gate:
The Sutton Ranch sits on the west bank of the Missouri River, straight across from the mouth of the Platte Creek, 30 miles upstream from the Fort Randall Dam, 75 miles downstream from the Big Bend Dam, 150 miles downstream from Pierre. First bill I want from Billie Sutton’s Governor’s office: appropriations to build locks around the four Missouri River dams in our state. Imagine the Governor boating from the ranch to the Capitol, or down to Yankton and Dakota Dunes. Steamboat Billie….
Visitors pass the working part of the ranch first, past the big barn and cattle lots, then drive another 500 feet to the big house in the clearing.
That big covered porch looks out at the valley of what my map calls the North Fork of the Whetstone Creek. Forget the Governor’s mansion: picture Governor Billie Sutton bringing legislators, fellow governors, CEOs, and other dignitaries to that porch, looking out at the grass and trees and uninterrupted sky and saying, “All right, let’s talk about what matters.”
A view like that helps one think… and think big.
It also makes one feel very small, as all of us mere mortals ought before the vastness of the prairie and a great green globe curving slowly away to the horizon.
I took no food selfies, but I can tell you the beef* sandwiches, baked beans with Sutton beef, potato salad (you were expecting greens? where do you think are, Minerva’s?), and pie served by the ranch ladies in the chow line at the big garage and eaten by the 130 guests in the sunshine beat whatever Il Duce’s servants dish at Mar-a-Lago.
A man launches his first campaign for Governor only once in his lifetime. He’s entitled to do it his way, how he wants, when he wants, where he wants. Billie Sutton announced his first bid for Governor in a place he rightly loves, the place that says who he is, what he’s about, what he sees when he looks around at South Dakota and wonders what’s on our big, big horizon. He spoke to us in a place that most of us have to drive a long way to get to, which reminds us how far Sutton and anyone else who wants to serve this state has to drive to meet and listen to people and learn what’s happening around our sprawling state.
A man is entitled to begin a momentous journey at home, with his family. So is a woman, like Billie’s wife Kelsea, who will be at Billie’s side throughout this campaign.
The Suttons staged a better campaign launch than they could have at any rented conference room (“ballroom” really exaggerates the grandeurless rectangularity of nearly every event facility in this state). Wednesday’s campaign launch at the Sutton Ranch showed just who Billie Sutton is and what kind of Governor he could be. It was most certainly worth the drive.
* * *
Of course, several miles south of the boonies, one would expect to see some open carry…
And when we town folk come out to the country in our Volkswagen Beetles, some of the locals still look at us a bit suspiciously:
Maybe we don’t need to build locks on the River; maybe the Suttons will ditch the Governor’s Hunt and organize a week-long trail ride from the ranch to the Capitol.
*Correction 2017.06.04 09:04 CDT: I have been contacted by two sources who point out that the sandwiches served were beef, not pork as I erroneously reported. I evidently was focusing on my ears rather than my mouth at those picnic tables. I regret the error.
Feven Goitom didn’t speak much English when she started at Whittier Middle School six years ago.
Goitom, who was born in Eritrea, spent six years in a refugee camp in Ethiopia before coming to the United States at age 13.
…The 19-year-old will graduate Sunday with some early college credits, which she’ll take with her to Regis University in Denver where she has a full-ride scholarship for the fall.
She hopes to study biology and go on to medical school, a passion stemming from her time in Ethiopia.
…As she prepares to leave high school, Goitom has nothing but good things to say about Washington and how welcomed she’s been by students in the Sioux Falls community, a community she hopes to return to someday as a physician.
Get out the wrecking ball! While an interim committee gets ready to discuss how to expand workforce housing, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development plans to knock down a few thousand crummy houses:
Scott Stern, the governor’s commissioner of economic development, told the board that his office has identified about 3,800 dilapidated houses throughout South Dakota.
GOED would spend about $2 million per year taking down houses, based on a 50-50 split between federal funds and local funds, according to Stern.
He said South Dakota has preliminary approval from the federal housing program for $1 million annually in aid. State government won’t have any money in the project, according to Stern [Bob Mercer, “Plan to Study Workforce Housing in Small Communities,” Rapid City Journal, 2017.05.16].
If you see Scott Stern coming toward your place with a sledgehammer and a wrecking crew, tell him to hold his horses, that you’re on your way to get some paint and lumber right now!
So for the five of you readers who care about this tiff, let us turn to Powers’s Wednesday post (the only thing he wrote that day) responding to my analysis of the McGovern Day muddle and my recommendation that South Dakota Democrats focus on grassroots activism rather than further internal power struggles. What you’ll find, if you bother (and I really don’t recommend bothering, even though I’m about to), is that, much like what happens when Trump opens his mouth, Powers’s critiques of me are really exercises in Republican projection of their own insecurity and shame.
First, pictures. Powers keeps running a picture of me borrowed from KELO-TV in 2001. Powers seems to find this photo unflattering. He could more accurately portray my fall from youthful beauty by updating his photo box with any number of recent, publicly available photos:
Heck, even the fall 2016 photo he ran of me on my campaign bike to great chortlage and mockery more accurately depicts me in my current state than his old TV file photo:
But old photos are par for the course for Pat and his GOP pals. How old is Senator Mike Rounds’s Twitter profile photo?
Now to the headline: “Democrat Mouthpiece Finally Breaks News Blackout on Failed Democrat Party Revolt.”
The adjective is Democratic. Responsible writers do not write Democrat Party any more than they would Republic Party.
“News Blackout”? This from a Republican political blogger who, according to his own search engine, hasn’t mentioned the Republican President since March 20. When information about the snap election push became public, I discussed it a fair amount on these pages, because I wanted to offer analysis that people on all sides of the tussle could use to make their decisions. When that push failed, I took eleven days to talk to Democrats who attended McGovern Day, to read other responses, and to think about the next best course of action for the party. That’s not a news blackout; that’s thoughtful deliberation.
For someone who pretends to understand me, Pat Powers really doesn’t know me at all. Ann Tornberg has known me for 30 years. If she has an “inner circle”, she has yet to place me in it. But Ann can tell you, as can anyone else who knows me, that I have never really given a hoot about getting into anyone’s “inner circle”. Unlike Pat Powers, whose entire blogging career reads like one long fawning to atone for his past political gaffes and get back into the good graces of the Republican rich and powerful, I am my own man. I appreciate my friends, I respect their trust, but I do not chase favor. I report facts, I analyze and opine, and I let others throw whichever chips, poker or buffalo, they see fit.
Their new postcard shows a fuzzy image of the Brown County Courthouse. Now I agree that the Brown County Courthouse is one of the most photogenic buildings in Aberdeen. But (a) it doesn’t make sense to take a building that impressive and blur it out, and (b) Prater and Weis are running for City Council, which meets in City Hall, a block south of the courthouse.
Perhaps the card is meant to represent the view one gets from City Hall, looking north to our grand courthouse (and blotting out the blocky, characterless annexes that have accreted like barnacles around the classic architecture). But even if we reach for that graphic assumption, we must conclude that our candidates have weak vision and aren’t paying attention to what they’re being elected to attend.
I don’t mind aspirations to higher office; I just have a thing for integrity in graphic messaging.
Speaker of the House G. Mark Mickelson (R-13/Sioux Falls) is a funny guy. The Legislature’s 2017 Interim Study Survey included a comment section where Speaker Mickelson submitted this important guidance for his colleagues’ consideration:
The non-meandered waters issue will take some serious thinking… or maybe just a new survey and a big round of eminent domain (because ultimately, that’s what the fishing advocates are after, the state finishing the taking that the rain gods started). But workforce housing? Come on, G. Mark—that’s just another issue where Republicans and business owners are going to ignore the obvious solution: raise wages, and workers can afford to fix up or buy houses. (There, done, saved you three meetings.)
76 of our 105 legislators* responded to the interim study survey by April 12. Summing their rankings produces this list of preferred topics:
Legislators came nowhere near taking my dare to put refugees on the interim agenda: the three refugee-related topics finished 14th, 19th, and dead-last 22nd. Adding those three topics’ rank points still wouldn’t have beat non-meandered waters or workforce housing (or #3, issues facing the new Government Accountability Task Force). The least popular of those three refugee study proposals, Study “K”, came from Democratic Senator Reynold Nesiba, whose District 15 includes a lot of refugees have settled in Sioux Falls. His proposal was phrased favorably toward refugees, immigrants, and religious minorities, seeking study of these questions:
How do we ameliorate differences and better facilitate cross-cultural understanding to more quickly and effectively integrate new South Dakotans into our workplaces?
What is already working at firms with diverse workforces?
What obstacles exist to further integration? How do we overcome these?
What? Senator Nesiba wanted to get rid of obstacles to making new people part of South Dakota? No wonder it came in last: the only other legislator to express interest in Senator Nesiba’s positive refugee proposal was fellow freshman Rep. Bob Glanzer, Republican from Huron, where a number of Karen refugees have settled to work at the turkey plant.
*p.s.:Legislators not responding by April 12 and not listed on survey tally:
Reps. Anderson, Bartling, Bordeaux, Brunner, Conzet, DiSanto (no guns on topic list, so boring!), Frye-Mueller, Goodwin, Hunhoff, Johns, Kaiser, Latterell, Marty, McCleery, McPherson, Kent Peterson (hey! Mr. Assistant Majority Leader! How about leading?), Qualm (hey! Mr. Majority Leader! Ditto!), Ring, Rozum, Smith, Wiese, and York;
Secretary of State Shantel Krebs is raising money for her U.S. House campaign with an e-mail spotlighting her 22-point lead over fellow Republican Dusty Johnson in an online survey conducted by my local paper. “Can you believe the results?” reads the subject line of her e-mail:
Of course you can’t believe it, because the poll isn’t just “unofficial,” as the teeny-tiny print below Shantel’s pie says, but unscientific, as the Aberdeen American News points out in its March 18 report. We must assign to such casual online polls a margin of error at least the size of the broad side of Shantel’s horse barn. This open online poll had just 98 respondents… which makes me want to believe that thousands of AAN online readers are just waiting for a brave Democrat to declare her intentions to go to Washington and stand up to Trump!
I do like Shantel’s font perspective, making her name larger, emphasizing her big red Ms. Pac-Man gobbling up Dusty’s poor blue pie. The Aberdeen American News graphic is not quite as flashy: