South Dakota state government is surrendering to inflation. The Department of Transportation is giving its railroad lawyer a retroactive 18% raise to $450 an hour:
The Washington, D.C. law firm of Slover & Loftus is getting a raise of $70 per hour to work on railroad matters for the South Dakota Department of Transportation.
The state Railroad Board approved the increase Wednesday. The new $450 rate applies to legal work performed as of February 11 of this year.
One of the department’s lawyers, Karla Engle, recommended the raise for the law firm’s John LeSeur. “He is an essential part of the DOT team, frankly,” she said.
The rate had been $380 for nearly a decade, according to Engle.
Other state contracts with South Dakota law firms currently pay $195 per hour [Bob Mercer, “SDDOT to Pay Rail Lawyer $450 per Hour,” KELO-TV, 2022.04.20].
It’s nice to see that, occasionally, South Dakota can pay some workers a competitive market wage. Now if only the state could extend that generosity from its Beltway contractors to local South Dakotans.
Gardeners probably don’t deserve $450 an hour, but whatever wage the state is offering is not enough to get anyone to sign on to plant flowers around the State Fairgrounds… so Fair manager Peggy Besch trying to get people to do the work for free:
Besch said there’s been no luck trying to hire a gardener or an assistant to work full-time during the growing season leading up to this year’s September 1-5 fair. So she’s trying an adopt-a-garden program at five sites on the grounds.
“Help us plant them. We’ll take care of the watering,” Besch said. “Just to help weed every couple weeks and TLC” [Bob Mercer, “Mild Opposition to Higher S.D. State Fair Admission,” KELO-TV, 2022.04.19].
Maybe the Fair will have the cash to recruit a paid gardener next year: the Fair plans to raise ticket prices this year:
Besch said Tuesday that the Legislature’s Rules Review Committee will hold a hearing on the higher fees June 7 at the Capitol.
“We’ll just continue to go through the process,” she said.
The proposal calls for raising the daily entrance price for a person age 16 and older to $10 from the current $6. Children ages 6 to 15 would see the daily fee rise to $5 from $4. Kids younger than 6 would still get in free.
People wishing to comment can write to South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 523 East Capitol, Pierre, South Dakota 57501-1234. Emails can be sent to email@example.com. Written comments must be received by April 29, 2022, to be considered [Mercer, 2022.04.19].
That Rules Review meeting will begin at 10 a.m. on primary day. The only Rules Review member on the primary ballot that day is Rep. Kevin Jensen (R-16/Canton). In case Jensen votes to support this inflationary move, his primary opponents, Republicans Karla Lems and Richard Vasgaard should cue up a social media blast to get out the afternoon primary voters to vote out a Republican who votes to take more money out of South Dakotans’ pockets (kids’ pockets! kids’ pockets!!!) at the State Fair.
If the 2022 State Fair does raise ticket prices, the additional revenue from 181,000 attendees (and let’s spitball: half adults, three-eighths kids 6 to 15, one eighth under 6 and getting in free), the new ticket revenue would equal about $430,000. At that rate, the State Fair should be able to hire eight permanent gardeners. Or it could cover about 960 hours of the DOT’s lawyer’s time.