Alas, Jason Ravnsborg continues to peddle Islamophobia to get local Republican delegates to overlook his lack of qualifications and nominate him for Attorney General. An eager reader submits this flyer advertising Ravnsborg’s next great slideshow to stoke Pennington County Republican women’s fears of Sharia Law:
Whatever those sneaky Muslims are up to, Ravnsborg doesn’t appear to bagging many of them in his job as assistant to the state’s attorney in Union County. That county’s state’s attorney’s press releases list a lot of prosecutions, but none of Muslim-sounding dudes or sympathizers engaging in terrorism or civil rights violations, just the usual assortment of mostly Euro-names committing the usual assortment of small-town mischief. The lack of excitement must be why Ravnsborg can step away so often from his part-time job to affirm the fears of Republicans around the state of things that aren’t happening.
Lt. Mark Eisenbraun is with the Rapid City Police Department. He says video evidence is more powerful if an incident makes its way to court.
“The hope there is that this is one additional tool that police, law enforcement, can use to try and increase our effectiveness in prosecution and hopefully hold offenders accountable and protect victims,” Eisenbraun says [Lee Strubinger, “RCPD and PCSO to Implement Body Camera Program in January,” SDPB Radio, 2017.10.19].
That’s the conclusion of a study performed as Washington, D.C., rolled out its huge camera program. The city has one of the largest forces in the country, with some 2,600 officers now wearing cameras on their collars or shirts.
“We found essentially that we could not detect any statistically significant effect of the body-worn cameras,” says Anita Ravishankar, a researcher with the Metropolitan Police Department and a group in the city government called the Lab @ DC.
“I think we’re surprised by the result. I think a lot of people were suggesting that the body-worn cameras would change behavior,” says Chief of Police Peter Newsham. “There was no indication that the cameras changed behavior at all.”
Perhaps, he says, that is because his officers “were doing the right thing in the first place.”
In the wake of high-profile shootings, many police departments have been rapidly adopting body-worn cameras, despite a dearth of solid research on how the technology can change policing.
Think about it, Rapid City: you have $300,000 of your own money to spend on public safety. Are you sure you want to spend that money in an effort to get different results from the statistical shrug the D.C. evidence shows? Or might there be some other, less costly activities in which you could invest that money to improve law enforcement outcomes?
Sistak doesn’t mention his party affiliation in his announcement, but he hits some proper progressive notes about the need to raise South Dakota’s workforce-repelling lowest wages in the nation and protecting South Dakota’s natural treasures for generations to come. He speaks of protecting services for veterans and protecting health care and the insurance exchange (if it survives the Cassidy-Graham chain saw) for all South Dakotans.
Folks, I want to represent you not only to make change, but to bring the dignity and character back to Pierre that South Dakota’s constituents deserve in an elected official. I want to give you a voice that we can all be proud of. I want to continue being your friend and neighbor, and to have a relationship with each and every constituent in my district. I want to be a legislator that you can call, write, email, or just have a cup of coffee with to ensure that I am hearing from you first-hand. And with these relationships, I hope that I will be so privileged as to earn your trust. I want each and every one of you to know that I will work tirelessly for you, whether we agree on every issue or not.
To make this happen, I need your support. In 2018, I’m asking you to vote for me for District 35 House, and together we can make South Dakota shine once more [Bo Sistak, Facebook post, 2017.09.20].
Make South Dakota Shine Once More—that’s how we Democrats translate Trump’s successful campaign slogan, right?
Update 2017.09.21 05:10 CDT: Candidate Sistak checks in below to update his employment status: he worked for Sallyport in Qatar for nine months back in 2012 but has been at Furniture Row (on Eglin, out by Sam’s Club) in Rapid City for the last five years. Sistak’s active and updated LinkedIn profile is here.
Rep. Lynne DiSanto was supposed to speak next Wednesday at the second annual “Power of Purple,” an event hosted by Working Against Violence, Inc., at the Dahl Fine Art Center to “bring community support, awareness, and education on the topic of domestic violence.”
We are aware of the posting by Representative Lynne DiSanto and are meeting as a staff tomorrow to discuss the situation and seek another speaker. WAVI doesn’t condone violence of any kind. Thank you for your comments and concerns [Working Against Violence, Inc., Facebook post, 2017.09.19].
A Republican legislator is being held accountable for her inappropriate statements. How remarkable!
Party HQ says the new field organizer will start ideally on October 16, which ideally means there’d finally be an SDDP field office operating day to day by that date. It also means some skilled go-getter would have the pleasure of living in the Black Hills for at least a full year… not that there’s be much time for savoring the trails, streams, and other fruits of Black Hills living, since a truly effective West River organizer would be on the phone half the time recruiting donors and on the road the rest to Pine Ridge, Wanblee, Rosebud, Eagle Butte, Timber Lake, and other great West River sights recruiting candidates, volunteers, and voters. But hey, just plan extra events in District 31 (a winnable district!) in September and October so you can detour through the Canyon to see the fall colors. Those drives by themselves could make the job worth taking.
While Powers remains mired in inside baseball, the story of real public interest is still the secretive nature of Rep. Johnson’s meeting with chosen and unnamed Black Hills bigwigs:
Johnson said 107 invitations to the event were distributed to community leaders, and the 40 attendees included Republicans, Democrats and independents who hold local or area leadership positions in realms including business, education, city government, public safety, law enforcement and health care. Johnson declined to release the list of invitees, saying he would rather allow the invitees to identify themselves if they wish. He said the event was funded by the legislators out of their own private funds [Seth Tupper, “Invite-Only Event Exposes Local Republican Rift,” Rapid City Journal, 2017.09.12].
Come on, Rep. Johnson: it’s not like you guys discussed secret plots or criminal activity. You tell Tupper that you discussed “poverty and its impact on early childhood education and the workforce; infrastructure problems related to airports, highways and railroads; and taxation.” I’m having a hard time thinking of any good reason for a public official to keep secret the names of forty prominent local leaders gathered in a room to give that public official and his colleagues ideas for those important areas of public policy.
Rep. Johnson’s exclusion of ultra-conservative legislators from the event reinforces the image of elitism:
Johnson said the seven legislators who organized the event wanted to hear nonpartisan ideas from local leaders about community and economic development. Johnson said the organizing legislators also wanted to set aside — for one evening — heated arguments about controversial social issues including transgender bathroom use and gun rights, which have been frequent topics of debate in recent legislative sessions.
…Inviting certain other legislators to participate, Johnson said, might have caused the event to veer into a discussion of those social issues and taken the focus off the intended topics [Tupper, 2017.09.12].
Rep. Johnson breaches protocol here, suggesting that only he and his chosen GOP friends are capable of staying on topic and that other duly elected representatives of the people are incapable of sticking to a meeting agenda. I hate to cite Rep. Lynne DiSanto as a credible source, but she seems to get the elitist slight:
“I would say I think the concept of having a cracker barrel specifically related to ideas around business and economic development is a fantastic idea,” DiSanto said. “And I believe that if it would’ve been presented to us that way, everybody would’ve been respectful of keeping it within those parameters.”
DiSanto said it was wrong for seven legislators to host a meeting similar to a cracker barrel while excluding other legislators and the general public [Tupper, 2017.09.12].
Johnson’s secret meeting was disrespectful to fellow legislators and, more importantly, to the public at large and representative democracy. No more star chambers, Rep. Johnson—if you think your party and your voters need to spend less time discussing guns, gays, and God and more time discussing community and economic development, don’t hide the latter conversations. Hold them in public, invite everyone, and model in the spotlight the kind of discussion of bread-and-butter policy issues of which you think we need more.
One of the event organizers is state Rep. David Johnson, R-Rapid City. In an interview with the Journal, he said the “reverse cracker-barrel” concept arose from a desire for calm and nonpartisan discussions of issues, rather than heated political arguments.
“Our purpose is to get ideas from community leaders and business leaders in the Rapid City area,” Johnson said. “It’s not to debate social issues or hot-button issues or firecracker issues. We want to talk about things like economic and community development.”
…The other six legislators who are participating in the event are also Republicans from Rapid City: Reps. Sean McPherson, Craig Tieszen and Kristin Conzet, and Sens. Alan Solano, Terri Haverly and Jeff Partridge.
Legislators have the right to host private events. But in casting this invitation-only event as a form of legislator-constituent interaction superior to the free and open crackerbarrels we get during Session, Rep. Johnson is showing the South Dakota establishment Republican aversion to being held accountable by the people who elect and pay them.
Yet just a couple weeks after his swing through South Dakota, Guandolo’s anti-Muslim hysteria apparently drove him to take a swing at Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek:
Confidential court records sent to the Center for New Community (CNC) by an anonymous source indicate Guandolo was involved in an altercation with Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek on June 28, 2017….
The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) also confirmed the validity of the court documents to CNC staff on August 10 and provided a statement. “On June 28, 2017, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek was physically assaulted while attending the National Sheriffs’ Association Annual Conference in Reno, Nevada,” the statement reads. “John Guandolo, of Dallas Texas, was cited for battery. Guandolo was presenting at the conference on behalf of the ‘Understanding the Threat’ organization.”
“The conversation became contentious” following Guandolo’s allegation and he began repeatedly stating he was a combat veteran, court records reveal. Stanek accordingly “stood up and announced that the meeting was over,” to which Guandolo responded by calling Stanek a “f[——] a[——]” before physically confronting the sheriff.
“[Guandolo] put the palms of his hands onto [Stanek’s] chest and forcibly pushed [Stanek] causing his head to snap backwards and fall into the wall behind him,” records also reveal. Guandolo then proceeded to throw “two closed-fist punches at [Stanek] striking him once in the area of [Stanek’s] left face/chin.” The court records indicate Washoe County, Nevada Sheriff’s deputies obtained surveillance video of Guandolo punching the sheriff [Imagine 2050, 2017.08.11].
“The sheriff physically roughed up Mr. Guandolo after his demands for removal of critical comments from the UTT website were declined,” wrote John Andrews, a former Colorado state senator who describes himself as the chairman of UTT’s National Advisory board.
We’ve seen right here in Aberdeen how quickly people swallowing this racist, fact-free conspiracy-theory hysteria will leap up and threaten violence. Imagine 2050 recognizes that danger posed by Guandolo and the madness he peddles:
The incident is a disturbing example of the threat Guandolo’s conspiracy-laden anti-Muslim zeal poses. If someone like Guandolo, who UTT-produced materials identify as “a Special Deputy Sheriff in Culpeper County, Virginia,” can be so consumed with anti-Muslim fervor that he would attack a law enforcement officer he perceives as collaborating with his enemies, it raises concerns about all those participating in training courses led by him and his UTT colleagues [Imagine 2050, 2017.08.11].
When you’re preaching to fearful people that they are part of an all-out war for civilization and survival, the kind of apocalyptic conflict “that movies are written about,” you can slip into justifying almost any words and actions. Civility, law, and truth matter less than the all-consuming fear of total destruction on which you’ve built your identity (not to mention your income stream).
Whether Aberdeen’s and Rapid City anti-Muslim paranoiacs will bring Guandolo back to South Dakota is unknown. According to a flyer floating around town, Aberdeen’s anonymous fearmongers are bringing New Zealand witch hunter Trevor Loudon back on September 19 to recycle the dreary litany of Muslim/communist/socialist threats he offered here in May. Aberdeen High School Democrats are organizing a suitable non-violent protest. (Review the photos and video of their positive April action for appropriate signs and statements by civilized citizens who recognize that solutions to America’s real problems do not rely on fear, hate, or punching sheriffs.)
One of the advantages of living in town over living in the country is that folks should be able to walk to the grocery store. But with SpartanNash closing three grocery stores in Rapid City, that advantage is fading for a lot of Rapid City residents, particularly lower-income residents with limited transportation downtown and on the north side.
SDPB’s Lee Strubinger gets this cool map from Rapid City Collective Impact and Feeding South Dakota to show the gaps that will be left in walkable access to grocery stores by the closing of Prairie Market at 11 New York Street, Family Thrift Center at 855 Omaha St., and Family Thrift Express at 3464 Sturgis Road. I add those three stores and the walkable half-mile radii around them.
Note that none of these three closing stores overlap with the half-mile radius of any other major grocery store on the map. I’d be curious to learn what market forces dictated these closures… and whether any other operators could do better amidst those market forces.
Rapid City should encourage other grocers to give it a try. As expressed in a July 30 editorial in the Rapid City Journal, economic development means developing the whole city. Grocery stores are one of the most basic components of a whole city. The ability to walk to the grocery store is good not just for low-income folks but for anyone who lives and works downtown. Rapid City leaders recruit new grocers to fill these empty stores and the looming gaps in walkable shopping for basic provisions in the center of the city.
All hail Kevin Woster and South Dakota Public Broadcasting for their defense of long-form blogging! Woster cranks out over 2,600 words of the most thorough description of Rep. Kristi Noem’s contentious July 5 Rapid City town hall, burying the lede, weaving direct reporting with cultural observations and political critique, and SDPB lets the whole thing on their website. Ah, the Internet and public media, freeing Woster and all of us of the constraints of ink, paper, and commercial breaks for Sanford.)
Permit me to spotlight just one of Woster’s observations about Noem town hall. Evidently someone lied to Woster about restrictions on press accommodations at the event:
Reporters for TV, newspaper and public radio were squeezed into a spot along the wall 20 or 30 feet from Noem. I complained about that to Noem staffers, who said it was a Pennington County Sheriff’s Office mandate. I then complained to Pennington County Sheriff’s Office deputies, who said Noem staffers wanted the restriction.
Who penned the press? Noem says it was the sheriff; the sheriff says it was Noem. Both can’t be true, so someone was fibbing. Whoever those fibsters are, those public officials need to figure out that it’s not a good idea to fib to folks like Woster who have pens and cameras and websites where they can publish 2,600 words and much more.