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SDDOT to Pay DC Lawyer $450/Hour; State Fair to Raise Admission Price from $6 to $10 for Adults, from $4 to $5 for Youth

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 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.


  1. Arlo Blundt 2022-04-21

    Well…the State Fair is an acquired taste. If the admission price drives away first time fairgoers, they are likely to never attend. It’s bad strategy.

  2. sx123 2022-04-21

    A 67% increase for adult tickets is a very large percentage jump.

  3. Mark Anderson 2022-04-21

    I believe they will have a blue band for Democrats, either that or a beating charge so they can get in for less and Republicans can pay 15 dollars for two shots at them. If they fight back its jail time.

  4. grudznick 2022-04-21

    Mr. H, do you really believe all Republicans should be charged more than libbies to attend the state fair?

  5. P. Aitch 2022-04-22

    – Local governments risk squandering their shares of the trillions in public works money coming their way under the landmark Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
    – Each state needs a centralized and highly coordinated effort to manage the massive amount of money headed its way — and to grab as much of the unassigned pie as possible.
    – While 60% of the funds will be allotted to states through set formulas, the rest will come through competitive grants, loans and federal programs.
    – President Biden’s infrastructure czar (Mitch Landrieu) sent letters in January to all 50 governors imploring them to name dedicated task forces that would include a chief point person.
    – South Dakota’s Noem administration hasn’t responded or taken action.

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