Realizing the unseemliness of her attempt to assassinate Sherry Bren’s character to obscure her own nepotism, Governor Kristi Noem has evidently dispatched a Republican crony to do her dirty work for her.
Former Republican legislator, former Rapid City mayor, and former real estate appraiser Alan Hanks (note: Hanks does not appear on the current state roster of certified appraisers) writes a column for the Rapid City Journal declaring that Sherry Bren was a crappy chief of South Dakota’s real estate appraiser certification program who screwed him the same way she screwed the Governor’s daughter Kassidy Peters in the appraiser certification process:
And a few weeks before the election in 2018, I told that directly to then Congresswoman Kristi Noem, before she became our Governor. I followed that up by telling her that my strong recommendation would be to in her early days as Governor, address the issues in the Appraiser Certification Program that were creating hardship for SD Citizens to complete the purchase of homes. My first and most important recommendation was for new leadership for the Appraiser Certification Program. The Executive Director for past 30 years was Sherry Bren, and from my experience as Mayor, I couldn’t’ see how a 30-year career bureaucrat would be willing or able to implement the type of changes needed.
What led me to make this unsolicited recommendation to now Governor Noem? It was my personal experience dealing with the state’s broken Appraiser Certification Program and watching the Governor’s Daughter experiencing the same issues I had. This program had become a major obstacle for qualified South Dakotans from entering a career as a Professional Appraiser, a career with an average salary nearly double the median individual income in South Dakota [Alan Hanks, “South Dakota Appraisal Certificate Program Broken,” Rapid City Journal, 2021.12.26].
Hanks accuses Bren of a lack of industry experience that leaves her incapable of reviewing individual applications or envisioning and implementing systemwide reforms:
During the process of upgrading my appraisers license from State Licensed to a higher-level State-Certified Residential Appraiser, I was contacted by the Executive Director of the Appraiser Certification Program and told that one of my appraisals that was being reviewed for my upgrade had deficiencies. Pressing for an explanation as to what the deficiencies were, as it had been reviewed by industry reviewers with no issues, I was quite surprised when Sherry Bren, the Executive Director of the South Dakota Appraiser Certification Program, told me she could not address what the deficiencies were as she was not an appraiser.
This response from a government regulator will likely come as no surprise to any South Dakotan who works in a specialty field such as the trades, as all too often career governments bureaucrats who are put in place to create and enforce rules, all too often have little or no experience in the field themselves.
Further, a government regulator that has never practiced in the profession that they are regulating, such was the case of the South Dakota Appraiser Certification Program, can only see the system through the eyes of a regulator looking down from “on high.” It is my opinion they do not have the perspective to see the broad reforms needed nor the desire to implement the changes needed in the system [Hanks, 2021.12.26].
Notice that Hanks bases his attack on partisan slogans (Bureaucrats! Government regulation! Booo!) and not on any facts about the Appraiser Certification Program’s performance.
Hanks’s vituperative attack on Bren’s professional abilities runs counter to Watertown appraiser Brad Johnson’s statement back in October that Bren is “well respected statewide and nationally” and that the “time-consuming and difficult” nature of the certification process arises from federal banking regulations and national appraisal standards, not any bureaucratic or professional failings on Bren’s part. It also runs counter to the public statement of the Professional Appraisers Association of South Dakota that the state appraiser certification program was running far more effectively and with stronger adherence to the rule of law under Bren’s 30-year management than it has this year under the chief Governor Noem installed after pushing Bren out of the job after requiring her daughter to fulfill all necessary standards to do such important work.
Hanks also denigrates the Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee’s investigation of Governor Noem’s nepotism as a “circus… around Kassidy Peters” that “some of the committee members” are “trying so hard to make… political” and are “clearly overreaching the committee’s purpose and authority.”
Hanks doesn’t say anything to refute the facts that GOAC and the press have unearthed about Governor Noem’s heavy-handed intervention on her daughter’s behalf in the appraisal process. Hanks doesn’t say the Governor’s summoning Bren to be intimidated at the Governor’s mansion in front of Peters, the Governor, the Secretary of Labor, and four lawyers was appropriate. Hanks doesn’t refute that Governor Noem took no apparent action to change the appraiser certification program until her own daughter needed special treatment to overcome her own struggle to meet the standards for the profession. And Hanks doesn’t refute that Governor Noem’s ouster of Bren was so wrong that she had to pay a $219K settlement to keep the state from getting sued.
It’s Team Noem that’s orchestrating the political circus, and it’s Hanks who is trotting out as the new dancing elephant to keep the Legislature and the public from focusing on the facts of this case of Governor Noem’s abuse of her power to benefit her family members.