Today, South Dakota Department of Health Secretary Joan Adam announced her retirement.
“My time with the Department of Health has been very rewarding. The dedication of the Department’s employees is impressive and will continue to serve the state well. I am looking forward to focusing on family and personal commitments,” said Joan Adam.
…Joan has served at the South Dakota Department of Health for a combined 20 years, including as Division Director for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention, Division Director for Administration, and Secretary of Health. In between her division director roles, Joan returned home to raise her growing family [Office of the Governor, press release, 2022.12.19].
That’s an early retirement; various Googling indicates Adam is only four years older than our 51-year-old Governor. And with almost everybody accepting coronavirus deaths and disability as inevitable, Adam’s Secretary work has surely been much easier than it was for her pandemic predecessor Kim Malsam-Rysdon, so it’s not like Adam should already be all worn out circumlocuting her department’s mission in terms friendly to her boss’s anti-science fury.
Adam’s resignation comes just days after a report by the Daily Signal that the DOH signed a $136,000 contract in June with The Transformation Project. According to their website, The Transformation Project works “to support and empower transgender individuals and their families while educating communities in South Dakota and the surrounding region about gender identity and expression.”
Noem’s office told the media that the contract was signed without her knowledge. On Saturday, Noem’s spokesperson Ian Fury told Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory “the Governor and Secretary Joan Adam had a very frank conversation tonight” [Austin Goss, “South Dakota Secretary of Health Joan Adam Retires,” KSFY, 2022.12.19].
Note the sequence in Goss’s tweets: he asks the Governor’s office if DOH staffing changes would result from the TP contract issue, and the Governor’s office responds to that question by stating the Governor and the Secretary “had a very frank discussion tonight.” And we all know “frank” is the word we use in public discourse to describe any serious ass-chewing.