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Schoenbeck: Noem Fired Polak to Further Delay $200M for Housing Development in Turf Feud

Senator Lee Schoenbeck (R-5/Lake Kampeska) says the abrupt departure of Lorraine Polak from her position as executive director of the South Dakota Housing Development Authority was no resignation. He says Governor Kristi Noem fired Polak to further delay a $200-million investment in housing infrastructure:

Several lawmakers say Polak’s resignation was not voluntary. They worry the move will delay getting infrastructure grants and loans out to communities.

State Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, R-Watertown, called Polak’s departure a firing and says it “absolutely” has to do with differences over the housing program lawmakers approved.

“Governor’s office held up rules being submitted to rules review. That should have happened already and they missed it by a month. So, they’re delaying the housing projects in every community in South Dakota,” Schoenbeck said.

“Now, the head of the program—who is extremely talented and would have been the perfect person to administer it—they fired her. So, it doesn’t matter who they put in there, it’s going to slow down creating housing in communities in South Dakota,” Schoenbeck added. “I have no ability to understand why a governor would do that kind of damage to our state” [Lee Strubinger, “Polak Resignation Comes as SDHDA Prepares $200 Million Fund,” SDPB, 2023.03.30].

Why would Noem kick up any kind of fuss over spending this money on a keen market need? Perhaps because Schoenbeck and his Senate pals took that money out of Noem’s cronies hands and put it under Polak’s direction:

Initially, the money was earmarked for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, which is headed by former state lawmaker Steve Westra.

Westra is also the vice-president of Sioux Falls developer Hegg Companies.

Instead, Senate lawmakers heavily amended a companion bill to place that money within South Dakota Housing Authority.

“It has been simplified so that it is really clear that this is for housing infrastructure,” said Sen. Casey Crabtree, R-Madison, during a floor debate on March 7, 2022. “It’s not unusual for us to focus on an infrastructure project. We have done that in the past, including with rural access infrastructure funds as recently as last year.”

However, the governor opposed the move.

“The proposal that appropriators brought to us… puts all the money in Housing Authority, which is less accountable to taxpayers,” Noem said on March 8, 2022 [Strubinger, 2023.03.30].

GOED is more accountable to taxpayers? GOED, the agency that helped Joop Bollen get rich by selling EB-5 visas to Chinese investors and promoted Chinese Communist investment in South Dakota agricultural operations? Har-de-har-har.


  1. Richard Schriever 2023-03-31

    Noem lives in an alternative world, with an alternative version of truth. Maybe Rudy has been clandestinely schooling her on the whole “Truth isn’t truth” perspective of life??

  2. Donald Pay 2023-03-31

    GOED should have never been created. It was a big fad across the United States in the 1980s for states to centralize these socialist business efforts into one Governor-dominated entity. The sooner the Legislature abolishes or defunds GOED the better.

  3. grudznick 2023-03-31

    They should put the money back in the bank and invest it.

  4. 96Tears 2023-03-31

    Circumventing the lawful appropriations power of the Legislature and martyring a perfectly loyal and competent member of the Cabinet should be grounds for impeachment hearings. Lorraine Polak was a shining star in the septic tank we call the Noem Administration. Making her pay the price of firing because she followed the law and the legal intent of the funding draws a red line with the legislative branch. Worse, it punishes families and potential homeowners during a time when home prices are beyond the reach of working families. It could have been a huge boost to the state’s economy with good jobs and more secure futures.

    But no.

    Kristi didn’t get her way (whatever the hell that is). She wants to hoard the money and spend it how she wants, which is a constitutional overreach. And she made a great public servant Lorraine Polak the victim of Noem’s insatiable and petty narcissism.

    Too bad Lee and the GOP legislators didn’t put the hammer to Noem last summer over the illegal state airplane abuse, the political interference with the House impeachment committee and the wrongful firing in the Sherry Bren/Kristi Noem nepotism scandal. The legislators nailed killer/liar Ravnsborg and let the bigger problem child get away.

  5. leslie 2023-03-31

    Looks like Lee wants to be governor.

    In more important news (while getting rid of Noem internally is a good thing, Lee’s mild competency, dwarfed by his true Republican nature must be scrutinized):

    There is substantial evidence of the “Russian military to carry out large-scale covert disinformation operations on social media and across the internet, through the creation of accounts that resemble real people online, or avatars. The avatars have names and stolen personal photos, which are then cultivated over months to curate a realistic digital footprint…[and of]

    …fake Twitter accounts and hashtags used by the Russian military from 2014 until earlier this year. They spread disinformation, including a conspiracy theory about Hillary Clinton and a denial that Russia’s bombing of Syria killed civilians. Following the invasion of Ukraine, one Vulkan-linked fake Twitter account posted: “Excellent leader #Putin”.”

    I personally know a red/neck rancher, college educated, Army combat medic in the Vietnam War, and is a mass consumer of Murdoch’s Fox “news” who HATES the government, and also all things left-leaning, and he conveniently, sincerely believes Trump will be held up as our greatest president eventually. Predictably, he now prefaces his Republicanism with “although I don’t like the guy (Trump)”.

    In what world would any rationsl, ethical person have casted a vote for Donald Trump, a billionaire who is “all hat and no cattle” in ranch parlance, and has been the butt of the joke in American media for decades? Putin’s world. (sigh)

    Limbaugh said “hate the main stream media” and the American right has accordingly shunned any fact-based news to their miseducation.

    We see this here, especially around election times. Posters like ‘Old Sarge’ and likely even now with the gun nut who Bearcreek engaged extensively. LCJ may be one as well.

    Thanks to naive SD Republican Representatives in Congress like Noem and the Dusty Johnson, Putin has embedded operatives in SD through its NRA portal.

    Corrupt Republican power proclivity is viewed by Putin and other global actors as a weakness to exploit. No question, it IS a weakness. Sara Palin, Marjorie Green, Kevin McCarthy, are examples of incompetency, while Mitch McConnell and Bill Barr and Mike Pompeo are examples of shrewd, corrupt power players who ally with Putin over the best welfare of ordinary American people.

    Koch, Musk, Mercer, and Murdoch are current examples of billionaires who delight in the generally corrupted Republican Party as a handy tool that will take their money in exchange for corrupt policy.

    Soros and Buffet are not. An “indicated” Trump is always a fool.

  6. All Mammal 2023-03-31

    Leslie- I also see Putin’s smarmy trademarks all over the place and try warning people about being played like Russian fiddles. Every time a train derails and we point fingers, every school shooting, every contentious debate online or on the news channels makes me just picture Putin sitting back, laughing at us and admiring his handiwork. For some people, usually the ones who think they are so smart and are superior to their fellow Americans, this is not blatant and they have no inkling what tools they are for our enemies. I have an old buddy who having access to social media and the internet is downright hazardous. He gets pumped full of hate towards his own people and I cannot set him straight. I wish I could hide all their phone chargers from them. But who am I to dare think I know better than my elders? We are told over and over how America is going to hell in a bike basket, when in actuality, we are doing quite well. If we could just focus on right and wrong. I also have yet to get a competent answer when I ask white male Americans in mid-rant, “What has anyone tried to take away from you? Who is oppressing you? What are others getting that you are not?” Seems they are disgruntled because they are told to be. We all need to go off the summer camp and bond. Hold hands and sing kumbaya, do some trust falls and crap because the next best thing to bring us together is war.

  7. leslie 2023-03-31

    this meshes:

    “Elon Musk tried engaging with the FTC as the agency intensified an investigation into Twitter’s privacy and data practices, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times, but the agency declined.” twttr

    AM-thx. i know some elders very well, too, as STRONG dems on the rez who are very savvy but the disinformation aspect of facebook is so powerful, even for them.

    the fine line between entertainment and hard news. Seth Meyers is an example :)

  8. O 2023-03-31

    Leslie writes: “Looks like Lee wants to be governor.”
    It’s good to see SOMEBODY wants to do the job of Governor.

  9. grudznick 2023-03-31

    Perhaps Ms. Polack was canned to get her out of the way so they can build some houses and the young woman was hindering and buggering up the process.

  10. Arlo Blundt 2023-03-31

    Grudznick–I think the exact opposite was true. Polack had to go because she was a very efficient administrator who had established efficient and effective communication with local housing agencies and was facilitating their applications for single family housing. Noem wants large apartment projects for renters. She wants to allocate the money to her favorite developers. Money is power and Governor Noem would like to have 200 million in her pocket for a power play and to reward her most loyal campaign funders. Home Ownership be damned.

  11. grudznick 2023-03-31

    Mr. Blundt, it should not be lost on most that Ms. Polack reported to an independent board of 7 swell fellows. Perhaps the problem here lies with the insaner bills the legislatures gurge out.

  12. Sarah 2023-03-31

    It’s genuinely the most exhausting state to wake up in every day. She’s our own personal Trump, completely and in every way. I seriously can’t stand it, and I’m a mentally strong person, so that makes me wonder about those who aren’t and the trans kids and how they must struggle to cope.

  13. larry kurtz 2023-03-31

    Sarah gets it.

    Mrs. Noem’s freedom means government gets to choose what’s best for the very children it says it’s sworn to protect born or not so those kids can grow up and escape South Dakota as fast as they can while a chosen few legislators forbid adults from seeking some relief for another seven month winter.

    It’s brain breaking and crazy making.

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