In the backfire department, Sioux Falls businesswoman Tove Hoff Bormes is hanging out at Josiah’s Coffeehouse and Café this morning collecting signatures on the petition to put a 36% interest rate cap on South Dakota’s 2016 ballot. Payday lenders appear to be behind an attempt to shake down coffeehouse owner Steve Hildebrand by busing local homeless people to his coffeehouse to disrupt his business.
Tove Hoff Bormes reported on Facebook that she had collected 100 new petition signatures this morning at Josiah’s by 8 a.m. If you’d like to avoid the downtown crowd, Father Timothy Fountain invites signers to contact him at Church of the Good Shepherd at 2707 West 33rd. And if you’re in Aberdeen, I’ve got give me a shout, and I can take your signature. Keep up the good work, Tove and Tim!
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In blogospheric small-ball, I feel compelled to comment on the insufferable smallness of Pat Powers. The Republican blogger posted twice on the coffeehouse shakedown yesterday. Powers swallowed the payday-lender line all the way to the reel, essentially accusing Hildebrand of classism and racism:
It seems more than a bit elitist and snobbish to complain that these paying customers are being hauled in by his political opponents who are buying them food there.
…would you turn people away from your business if they weren’t of your economic class? [Pat Powers, ”Hildebrand Holding Presser to Complain That Homeless People Are Spending Money at His Coffee House,” Dakota War College, 2015.07.28]
Apparently, you have to have to be a hipster with a full beard, skinny jeans and a Mac Book to be the right kind of people for it to be “your coffeehouse” [Pat Powers, “‘You Should Be Able to Go Anywhere You Want and Drink Coffee’—Lamont Banks,” Dakota War College, 2015.07.28].
Let’s look at what’s really happening: Floyd Pickett, a man from Atlanta with documented financial connections with the payday lending industry, shows up in Sioux Falls claiming to be a missionary seeking to help the homeless. Explicitly refusing to coordinate with local homeless advocates, he hands poor people a little money, loads them on a bus and takes them not to a grocery store, not to the courthouse to apply for public assistance, not to job interviews, not to Kmart to get an affordable button-down shirt and necktie for a job interview, not to a church to get some Jesus or a mosque to get some Allah, but to a coffeehouse, the seat of First-World Problems, to sit around drinking over-priced coffee. (Nothing personal against Steve: I’m just that cheap.)
The simplest, most rational explanation for what’s happening here is that Floyd Pickett is exploiting the poor, not helping them, in order to make trouble for a South Dakota petition organizer who is trying to protect the poor from the exploitation of payday lenders. Hildebrand is using the democratic process. Pickett is abusing it with dirty tricks.
The payday lenders’ subterfuge transcends partisan disagreements. Every South Dakota blogger, petitioner, and voter should be appalled by such dirty tricks. Every one of us should be writing blog posts, raising picket signs, or just walking up to Floyd Pickett and saying, “Get the heck out of our politics. This is our state, this is our vote.” Every one of us should march down to Josiah’s or Father Tim’s or my place to sign the 36% rate-cap petition to assert South Dakota’s popular sovereignty.
But Powers abandons South Dakota and takes the side of rich carpetbaggers’ dirty tricks, mostly because it gives him a chance to throw smirking insults at Steve Hildebrand, Democrat, and other South Dakotans who don’t conform to his prejudices or vote for his patrons. Gordon Howie and Bob Ellis are wingnuts in the South Dakota blogosphere, but at least they blog from their principles. Pat Powers is just being a jerk, stroking his sponsors (oooooo! “There’s a nice profile of first lady Linda Daugaard in today’s Pierre Capitol [sic] Journal“! gleeeeee!) and insulting the rest of his fellow South Dakotans.
Of course, Pat’s the least of our problems. Tell Powers, Pickett, and the payday lenders to take a flying leap: go sign Hildebrand’s petition.