Pat Powers hates anything that challenges his Republican sponsors’ absolute control of South Dakota politics. Thus, Pat Powers hates ballot measures, in which the voters of South Dakota have frequently demonstrated their ability to see past party labels and put the kaibosh on bad Republican policy.
Thus, unsurprisingly, Powers trumpets ballot question sponsor extraordinaire Melissa Mentele’s mention on Facebook that she has caught some of her hired circulators forging petition signatures as a sign that every petition she’s circulating is bogus:
I mean dang… there are people who want to do illegal things who might be doing something illegal? Perish the thought.
Powers snidely dismisses ballot measures and popular democracy as an effort to “do illegal things.” But more importantly, he misses the point of Mentele’s transparency. Rather than hiding problems, the New Approach organizer exposes them upfront and makes clear to her circulators and potential signers that she won’t stand for misconduct. If anything, Mentele’s Facebook post is a sign that she is absolutely committed to not doing illegal things and insists on running her petition drives by the book.
We invite ALL of the volunteers to come in & potluck with us this Sunday as we finish up the last day of counting, signing & packing up.
We will provide Pulled Pork Sandwiches, BBQs & some sides. We invite you all to bring a salad or dessert to share.
This is a great time to share stories, take photos and plan your trip to Pierre Monday.
This is an informal, very low key time to spend together before we all start our “Post petition season” lives [New Approach SD, Facebook event post, retrieved 2017.10.31].
Sunday is the last full day that anyone can sign an initiative petition; all petitions are due Monday, November 6, by the end of business at the Secretary of State’s office. Current forecast is partly sunny, no apparent precip to make the roads slick.
Leading the speakers at the Diversity and Inclusion Summit in Sioux Falls Thursday is Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Jason Ball. The big-city Chamber chief made the following comments about the need for creating inclusive communities last week on KELO-TV:
“We want to be the hub where people feel like they can come and get connected,” Ball said.
For that to happen, Ball says we must value diversity. That is why the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce is trying to help the city become a more inclusive and welcoming place.
“We’ve expanded that when it comes to a workforce dialogue to include new Americans, other new demographic groups, religious groups, gender and LGBT types of issues,” Ball said.
Sioux Falls business leaders appear to recognize this Diversity and Inclusion Summit as an opportunity to underscore their stated commitment to countering the ugly anti-immigrant sentiment that they see threatening South Dakota’s economic health. Check out the summit program:
Opening speech from the president of the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, panel discussion with the Chamber President and the boss at First Premier Bankcard right next to civil rights advocate Taneeza Islam, and a panel discussion led by Jack Marsh with eight Sioux Falls mayoral candidates—that’s a noteworthy array of Sioux Falls business and political figures standing with civil rights campaigners to say diversity and inclusion aren’t just warm fuzzy liberal lullabies but practical values essential to our economic survival.
Conscious Youth Solutions CEO Moses Tut tells me registration for the event is “looking great,” leading him to expect maybe 190 attendees. Tut says that, as a member of the Sioux Falls Diversity Council, he’s been involved with similar events for eight years. This year, CYS is organizing the summit to, in Tut’s words, “provide the community with a focused theme that emphasizes the importance of our emerging workforce. We must come together as a unified front to tackle the issues of workforce development from business leaders, city government, the private sector, the education sector, and city stakeholders to truly come up with a community driven solution.”
CYS has been working since 2015 to help young people connect with jobs and education opportunities. Tut describes his non-profit’s mission:
Conscious Youth Solutions Research & Development Council is a non profit organization that aims to empower and connect underserved communities and millennials to advanced workforce training and career exploration. One of our programs, the Youth League Apprenticeship is a 2 month youth-based educational and experiential program. The primary goals of this project is to educate youth on various skills of entrepreneurship, business development, and professional advancement by way of on-site lesson plans and facilitated mentorships & support. The lessons/curriculum will be administered by our program coordinators in 8-week intervals, 2 days a week for a total of 16 weeks [Moses Tut, CEO of Conscious Youth Solutions, e-mail to Dakota Free Press, 2017.10.26].
CYS activities include teaching young people “marketing knowledge, attracting and retaining quality employee traits, and key communication skills” plus skills for getting and keeping jobs, like professionalism, interview preparation, team work, confidence, budgeting, and experience pitching to potential investors. CYS also works on keeping young talent in the community and arranging mentorship opportunities.
Tut’s primary partners for CYS are vice-president Tolcha Melese and treasurer Terry Liggins:
I first met Tolcha and Terry back in 2013 when I was a board member of the Sioux Falls Diversity Council and reached out to both of them to help me run the Youth Initiative Committee under the Sioux Falls Diversity Council. Since our relationship formed in 2013 we’ve always have stayed connected and in 2015 continued to work together on the formation of Conscious Youth Solutions. After running a 3 month feasibility study sponsored by First Premier Bank, we surveyed 239 individuals and had enough data to prove there was a need for workforce training for young adults and underserved communities. We all do work outside of CYS, I currently live in Minneapolis, MN where I’m the VP of Strategic Partnerships of Running Tap – a Minneapolis-based startup that sells beer online and delivers directly to customers from local taprooms. Tolcha works at Smithfield Foods as the Production Scheduler and Terry works at Lutheran Social Services [Tut, 2017.10.26].
CYS gets no small boost from hosting this event. Note that the programs concludes at 5 p.m. Thursday with a Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting for Conscious Youth Solutions.
The Diversity and Inclusion Summit does cost money. Tickets (available online) are $50 for individuals, $40 a head for professionals signing up groups of three or more, $30 a head for big groups, and $25 for students. Tickets include lunch and the Chamber ribbon cutting.
The Sioux Falls History Club somehow fell for Branstner’s nonsense and invied him to speak to their group this evening. Branstner used the m.o. of other national alt-right white supremacist dog whistlers, claiming that he was coming to hold a “free speech rally“:
Paige Carda, the group’s president, said the club booked the event with the understanding that Branstner would hold a book signing and discussion on the erosion of free speech.
“We looked into the event and learned that what they wanted to do was not what they had told us they were going to do,” Carda said. “We made a decision to rescind the contract because those messages do not match up with our positions or with our mission to promote diversity” [Dana Ferguson, “Sioux Falls History Club Says It Won’t Host Anti-Islam Speaker,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.10.26].
Anti-Muslim rumor-peddler Senator Neal Tapio calls the cancellation “fascism.” Senator Tapio, who’s just mad he lost a chance to recruit more brownshirts for his U.S. House campaign, is in error: the cancellation is the free market at work, with the private History Club operating its private hall as it sees fit and choosing not to host the real fascists who would violate the History Club’s own commitment to factual history.
Branstner recently said to an audience in St. Cloud, MN that United Nations sends Muslim refugees to the United States, “to divide and conquer, get rid of our Constitution, get rid of our way of life and implement it with another way of life….Sharia law.” Tonight’s speaker was also in Aberdeen, SD on August 11, 2016 where he gave completely incorrect information about refugees and the refugee resettlement process. He even associated refugee resettlement as “modern day slavery” where nonprofit agencies resettling refugees are making money off of people, a wholly inaccurate premise.
“South Dakota Voices for Peace applauds and thanks the History Club of Sioux Falls for taking a stand against the spread of fear and hate in our community,” said Taneeza Islam, executive director. “Our role is to provide accurate information based on reports, and speaker videos to venues and the community on who these speakers really are and what they are trying to preach. It is up to the community to decide what they will think about the message and if they will allow for a stage for these ideas.”
Since February 2017, SDVP has known about and kept record of Islamophobic and anti-refugee/immigrant events throughout SD. “Fear is being imported into SD at an alarming rate. Over 22 such events have been identified, and there may be many more,” said policy and communication director Samantha Spawn. “We are looking to our neighbors to help identify these events across our state by contacting us at email@example.com or leave a message at 605.610.8174” [South Dakota Voices for Peace, press release, 2017.10.26].
Branstner loses a chance to spread more lies and hate in South Dakota—I’ll sleep even better tonight.
I hope you fancy Sioux Falls lawyers got your RSVPs in—Marty needs a headcount now so he can bring enough hors d’oeuvres and Hy-Vee wine to the big fundraiser this evening:
This copy comes from a lawyer not registered as a Republican who has received multiple solicitations from the Attorney General at this lawyer’s office address. This source draws the same conclusion that commenter Laurisa has, that Jackley is working the South Dakota Bar membership list and other connections with the legal community to harvest big campaign dollars to crsuh Kristi Noem in the primary.
$500 a head—there better be some good ham-cream-cheese-wrapped pickles!
For the most part, South Dakota remains a hard place to live and love as one sees fit.
Equality South Dakota lists the policies that earned seven of our cities any points on the Municipal Equality Index:
Brookings was scored for having a human rights commission with enforcement mechanism; non-discrimination in city employment; trans-inclusive heathcare benefits; LGBTQ liaison in city executive’s office and the police department; anti-bullying school policies; city provided services to LGBTQ youth; hate crimes reporting; openly appointed LGBTQ leaders; and leadership on LGBTQ equality efforts.
Sioux Falls was scored for having a human rights commission with enforcement mechanism; non-discrimination in city employment; trans-inclusive heathcare benefits; LGBTQ liaison in city executive’s office and the police department; city provided services to people living with HIV or AIDS; hate crimes reporting; openly appointed LGBTQ leaders; and leadership on LGBTQ equality efforts.
Vermillion was scored for having non-discrimination in city employment; anti-bullying school policies; hate crimes reporting; and leadership on LGBTQ equality efforts.
Spearfish was scored for having non-discrimination in city employment; anti-bullying school policies; and hate crimes reporting..
Rapid City was scored for a human rights commission with enforcement mechanism; and hate crimes reporting.
Aberdeen was scored for anti-school bullying policies and hate crimes reporting.
The low scores in most South Dakota towns reflects low support for LGBTQ inclusivity in state law. However, HRC lists a number of cities that, despite a lack of supportive state laws, still score perfect 100s on the MEI:
HRC lists Minnesota, Iowa, and Colorado among seventeen states with comprehensive LGBTQ protections. MEI 2017 scores in the eight listed Minnesota cities range from 47 in Bloomington to 100 in Minneapolis. The nine listed Iowa cities range from 67 in Waterloo to 100 in Cedar Rapids, Davenport, and Iowa City. (Sioux City scores 91.) Colorado’s nine listed cities range from 48 in Littleton to 100 in Denver.
South Dakota isn’t the worst place to be gay: Arkansas, Hawaii, Maine, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming have highest-scoring cities scoring below our high-score town of Brookings. Oklahoma and Wyoming have no place scoring above 50.
Sioux Falls! We are open today from 10:30am-5pm stop down and see us to sign the petitions!! We have all the petitions currently circulating so this is your one stop get them all signed location for the next 3 weeks.
Death with Dignity
Vote at Home
Out of state money ban
We can also register you to VOTE, update your voter registration & help you find out your elected representatives.
We are open Mon-Fri and by appointment on the weekends. Get your friends and family together and stop down & see us.
2007 S. Minnesota Ave
28th & Minnesota between Blown Away & Liberty Tax
Call with questions 605-299-6982 [New Approach SD Facebook post, 2017.10.18]
Imagine that: all nine petitions, all in one place! Talk about one-stop political shopping!
It seems worth noting that, a couple weeks ago when TakeItBack.org announced it is partnering with New Approach to get signatures for its three initiatives (redistricting, voting by mail, and prescription drug price caps), the SDGOP spin blog went ape painting TakeItBack.org’s leader and good Democrat Rick Weiland as a dope fiend and granny-killer. Now New Approach is helping the open primaries people, who include good Republicans like Joe Kirby and De Knudson, and the petitions for banning out-of-state money on ballot questions and raising cigarette taxes for vo-techs, which are sponsored by really good Republican Speaker G. Mark Mickelson.
Hmm… if I’m to believe SDGOP spin blog logic, is everyone still circulating petitions smoking dope and swinging axes at Grandma? Or is it more likely that, with less than three weeks left to gather tens of thousands of signatures, other pragmatic ballot question sponsors are recognizing that New Approach South Dakota, which ran an unsuccessful statewide petition drive in 2015, has been training circulators to do better work this time since February, and which put up the best-organized petition booth at State Fair this year, might have people and skills worth putting to work for their good causes?
2007 South Minnesota—if you’re in Sioux Falls, that’s the place to go to sign petitions. Call ahead, 605-299-6982, to check their office hours for the day.
We need you there to show the whole state – and especially the political establishment – that the people are committed to putting an end to self-serving politics-as-usual.
It is time to say “Enough is enough!” No more personal gain from public office. No more foreign money in our elections. No more overturning initiated measures. The voters should always have the final say.
Join us next week as we gather to submit those signatures and make a statement that South Dakota still lives up to its motto: “Under God, the People Rule.”
We will gather at the smaller set steps on the sidewalk on Capitol Ave (pictured above) across from the Military & Veterans Affairs Building before heading inside with our boxes. If you are coming into town, plug 425 E Capitol Ave into your GPS for an accurate set of directions [Represent SD, Facebook event details, retrieved 2017.10.15].
Recall that the Voter Protection and Anti-Corruption Amendment essentially writes major provisions of Initiated Measure 22 into the state constitution, where Republican legislators will not be able to repeal it the way they voter-face-slappingly repealed IM22 last winter. The VPACA omits public campaign finance (the “Democracy Credits” that drew heavy fire in the 2016 campaign). The VPACA does enshrine in our constitution many of IM22’s campaign finance limits and lobbying rules and replaces the new State Government Accountability Board with IM22’s toothier state ethics commission. The VPACA adds provisions protecting ballot questions from Legislative interference, like requiring changes to voter-approved initiatives or the initiative/referendum process to be approved by public vote.
Represent SD’s submission comes almost three weeks before the initiative petition deadline of November 6. That could mean many of Represent SD’s circulators will be freed up to work for other petition drives. Nine measures are still seriously circulating:
If the Voter Protection and Anti-Corruption Act is the first measure submitted and certified, it should appear as Amendment W on the 2018 statewide ballot.
* * *
Speaker G. Mark Mickelson, the Koch Brothers, and other opponents of serious anti-corruption reforms may want to scrutinize signatures collected in Sioux Falls for Represent SD over the past week. Patrick Anderson reported Friday that Batman was circulating the VPACA petition on Philips Avenue:
His audience: An older couple wearing sweaters for the fall weather. They strolled by Coffea when the Caped Crusader approached with clipboards and a pitch for reforming campaign finance in South Dakota.
Batman declined an interview. He asked Argus Leader Media get permission from his supervisor. Batman’s supervisor objected to the interview, then called Batman’s cell phone as a reporter continued to take photos.
Away from the rooftops and down on solid ground, Batman wasn’t fighting super villains or even crime. His goal Friday was to gather signatures in support of a constitutional amendment that would introduce more restrictions to the state’s election and ethics laws [Patrick Anderson, “Batman Visits Downtown Sioux Falls, Carries Clipboard for Election Reform,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.10.13].
If that was Batman, any signatures he collected are illegal. Only South Dakota residents may circulate petitions, and if Bruce Wayne is registered to vote anywhere, it’s Gotham City… or maybe Newton, Iowa.
But that couldn’t have been Batman—Batman answers to no supervisor! He takes the law into his own hands!
But seriously, running around in a cape and mask may be great for fighting crime and cheering up sick kids. However, if you are circulating a petition to create a new law, and if you are asking people for their names and addresses, you have a moral obligation to operate cognito. As we suspect dark money in politics, so ought we suspect Dark Knights.