After less than a year on the job, Herb Jones is leaving his post as Governor Kristi Noem’s chief of staff. Saying he intended all along just to get Noem’s ball rolling (although his appointment last year didn’t sound temporary), the old SDGOP hand marquee-splashes Noem’s magnificent first-year achievements:
“We had some big wins in the first year like improving broadband, expanding pheasant habitat, and ramping up efforts to address the meth crisis” [Herb Jones, quoted in Governor’s Office, press release, 2019.10.01].
Indeed, Herb’s boss has disbursed money for broadband, but she’s relying on federal dollars to get the job done. There’s no evidence yet that she has effectively improved pheasant habitat (and her CAFO bribe program promises to foul other fowl habitat). She’s talking a lot about meth, but I wish her outgoing chief of staff would give us examples of concrete action taken to reduce meth use or provide more addiction treatment.
Maybe the new chiefs of staff—yes, Herb was so good, it takes two people to replace him—will get the chance to give us more details about Kristi’s smashing successes in those areas. Joshua Shields moves up from chief of policy and communications to chief of staff, while Beth Hollatz moves from senior advisor to deputy chief of staff.
And somewhere in the midst of this moving, Kennedy Noem is enjoying a raise.
No, really, the Governor’s daughter has apparently gotten a raise. Recall that Kennedy Noem started drawing a $40,716 salary as a member of her mom’s transition team last November, before she had her SDSU degree in hand. By the time Mom took office, Kennedy was promoted to policy analyst and a $50,000 salary. Just like every other good state government employee, Kennedy received a 2.5% raise on July 1, bringing her to $51,250. Over the last three months of hard policy analysis, Kennedy’s salary has risen exactly 13%, to $57,912.50:
The Governor’s son-in-law, Kyle Peters, has also gotten a raise on top of his July boost. The budgeted 2.5% hike brought the junior GOED CAFO booster to $56,375. Sometime since July 1, Peters has gotten another 5% raise, to $59,193.75:
Both Kyle and Kennedy are making more than state government’s big Number Two, Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden, who only makes $56,375. Of course, we all know the LG doesn’t do that much, so no big deal, right? But dang—Rhoden’s son and state employee Reggie has barely gotten a 3.1% raise since April,from $17.45 an hour to $17.99 an hour:
Reggie must be slacking. Come on, son! Pick up the pace!
These family raises appear to predate today’s shake-up; while Herb is already gone and replaced by Joshua and Beth on the Governor’s staff bio page, Open.SD.Gov still lists Herb Jones’s salary at $140,375 a year. If Noem can manage to leave Shields’s and Hollatz’s previous positions unfilled, she could divvy up the pay budgeted for Herb and have Kennedy and Kyle up to six figures by Christmastime! That would clearly be Governor Noem’s greatest achievement of her first year in office.
Note: the other Noem daughter, Kyle’s spouse Kassidy, appears to continue to make a living in the private sector, working for Dakota Plains Appraisal in Pierre.