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36% Rate Cap Petition Steaming Along, Carpetbagger Sabotage Effort Be Darned

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.


  1. Spencer 2015-07-29

    Assuming that this really is some sort of hoax to punish or intimidate HIldebrand, why would they employ such a method on a seemingly tolerant liberal? That would be like hiring a bunch of rednecks to sit in on a café owned by a member of the KKK. They must know him pretty well to know that sending people of a different skin color and socioeconomic class to his café would set him off. I think Hildebrand likes the idea of diversity until it shows up at his doorstep. I doubt that this would have even been a story if it had happened at a Subway or Taco Johns. Who would have noticed a slight uptick in business unless one is only catering to a very narrow clientele?

  2. Bill Fleming 2015-07-29

    “That would be like hiring a bunch of rednecks to sit in on a café owned by a member of the KKK.”

    LOL. More like getting Donald Trump to run for POTUS and blow all the real candidates out of consideration. All orchestrated by Fox news who gets everyone who would have otherwise been spending money in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina media to buy ads on their national channel instead.

    It is a clever tactic. Also interesting to see who lines up behind it being a good idea. (aka, the usual suspects. ;-)

  3. Chris S. 2015-07-29

    They’re doing it this way because it’s turning the tables on the “libs,” and if there’s one thing that unifies modern conservatives, it’s “pissing off liberals.” (h/t Atrios) The reasons don’t matter so much so long as you can “Haw, Haw, Haw!” about sticking it to the libs.

    Plus, they’re using a warped version of Civil Rights-era protest to accomplish their dirty work, which is another right-wing modus operandi: About three decades after-the-fact (give or take), start using progressive tactics that you found so offensive before — only be sure to use them in a really offensive way, for nefarious purposes.

  4. rwb 2015-07-29

    Spencer, you provide a narrow sliver of your own constipated view in a forest of context. That doesn’t (and shouldn’t) surprise anyone here.

    The great news about this is that many of us who weren’t particularly pissed about the payday parasites are now pissed off at their slimy tactics. You can see a very noticeable uptick in engagement today because people have had enough with slimeball politics.

    While the effort had my vote earlier, it just gained my effort, my voice and my money to help push it through. Nice work, payday parasites. You just gave thousands of people who were on the sidelines a perfect opportunity to get out there and rein you in.

  5. Porter Lansing 2015-07-29

    If my real estate agent was promoting pay-day lending I’d question his dedication to finding me the lowest interest rate for my home purchase.
    ps … That’s a good one – “constipated view in a forest of context” (great use of emotional word pictures)

  6. Spencer 2015-07-29

    It would have been more instructive if they sat in on both Hildebrand’s café and Hickey’s church. Then we could draw some apples to apples comparisons between yuppie liberalism and compassionate conservatism.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-29

    So Spencer, you’re calling Hildebrand a racist?

    Why go to such contortions to give these tactics a gloss of respectability. Here’s a simpler explanation: Hand some street people some cash on the condition that they flood the line at the coffeeshop and make it hard for the place to conduct normal business. Tell them go ahead, provoke confrontations, knowing that in a world where the customer should be right, the business owner takes most of the rsik of bad publicity. Dude on the street has nothing to lose; owner has everything to lose. Owner thus has to put up with daily harassment (and this has been going on all month, as I am given to understand from prior Tweets). Hildebrand apparently finally got fed up.

    And Spencer, explain to us the missionary purpose of rounding up homeless people and taking them to sit around at the same coffeeshop every day.

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-07-29

    Porter, good try at getting Powers to respond to that question in his comment section. Alas, open conversation is impossible at DWC. Insufferable smallness.

  9. Flipper 2015-07-29


    You must be willfully blind or intentionally ignorant about what’s really going on at Josiah’s. Either that or you’re just trying to stir up some s**t.

    If a well-meaning customer of any race, creed, color or sexual orientation showed up at Steve’s doorstep, he or she would be welcomed with open arms.

  10. mike from iowa 2015-07-29

    Cumpassionate conservatism-the biggest freaking joke perpetrated on Americans ever. Cater to the wealthiest while stealing resources from the rest.

  11. grudznick 2015-07-29

    I like the cut of your jib on this, Mr. H. I agree with you and I, too, often say “Get the heck out of our politics. This is our state, this is our vote.”

    I still think it is a devious and nefarious tactic by these loan sharks and some might suspect they have even more interesting moves lined up.

  12. Roger Cornelius 2015-07-29

    The people that have been burned by “knuckles” need to picket in front of these Payday stores.

  13. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-07-30

    I sometimes wonder if people like PP, Spencer, and other far righties have really been able to convince themselves that what they choose to say is actually true. I hope not, but I don’t know. Either is pretty scary and a little pathetic too.

Comments are closed.