What issue is most important to you in the upcoming election?
The economy
Abortion access
Vaccine mandates
School Choice
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Dakota Leader
Subscribe for Free Email Updates
Search Articles

Your donations help to keep The Dakota Leader free for all to read and enjoy! Please consider a monthly donation.

Post an Event

View All Calendar Events

South Dakota Furries Gather in Falls Park
Who are the people behind the animal masks?

South Dakota Furs held a potluck in Falls Park on August 14th, and hosts monthly events for furries located throughout the Midwest. The furries who attended were well aware of the stigma surrounding their hobby, but still love to gather with each other to bond over their shared interest in anthropomorphic art.

In recent months, there have been claims by some concerned parents that school children are identifying as and acting like animals, and that schools have responded by putting
litter boxes in school bathrooms. Although that rumor has been debunked, an air of mistrust still surrounds the furry fandom.

Furries describe their own subculture in very simple terms: a celebration of anthropomorphic art in various forms, such as visual art, costumes, performance art, and interactive virtual reality spaces. As an art subject, anthropomorphism dates back at least 35,000 years to
the Lion-human of Hohlstein-Stadel, an ivory carving with the body of a human and the head of a lion. Anthropomorphic characters have been a literary subject for thousands of years, from Classical mythology to the short stories of Beatrix Potter, before gaining popularity in cartoons and video games. Many furries cite cartoons such as Disney’s “Robin Hood” or “Zootopia” as the catalyst for their interest in anthropomorphic art, and have surprisingly wholesome ways that they view their hobby.

“Kids can enjoy the furry fandom. It’s just an enjoyment of anthropomorphism,” says David, who is one of the event organizers for South Dakota Fur. “I like to draw anthropomorphic characters because they have more variation than human characters. I can be more creative.”

Miggs, who traveled from Edgerton, MN for South Dakota Fur’s August gathering, believes that “The litter box rumor is related to transphobia.” Miggs runs an online business designing and building custom fursuits that start at $4,000 each, and is familiar with the cultural backlash against furries. “It’s easier to hate someone with a weird hobby than to hate trans people,” she explained, noting that the furries are adjacent to the LGBTQ+ community, and that events like the potluck in Falls Park are a welcoming place for self-expression.

Most of Miggs’ fursuits take about two months to construct and are one-of-a-kind creations, although most of the requests are for wolves or other canines. Some of her custom built furry masks feature bendable ears, magnetic antlers, LED eyes, or squeaky noses. Each costume is built individually based on sketches of what the client wants the front, back, and side to look like. Her most time-intensive request yet has been a porcupine costume that took five months to construct. Some of the costumes require a special cooling vest and can reach 107 degrees inside, so many of the wearers take frequent breaks at events.



Although Miggs loves running her own business and is happy to be so successful at age 20, she feels that the stigma around being a furry can be hurtful at times. “The rumors about the litter boxes started with twelve and thirteen-year-old boys on Tik Tok saying that we think we’re really animals. We do not actually believe that. We all work normal jobs.” When not in costume, she says, some furries are IT specialists, doctors, lawyers, scientists, and even members of the military. “Two furries have been to space,” Miggs explained to illustrate how highly educated many of them are. “The inventor of the Moderna vaccine is a a furry” Miggs said. [Editorial Note- according to an Input magazine article, published 6/2/21, Dr Chise helped to develop mRNA technology and always wanted to be a Disney Character]

Shiloh, 22, who lives in Sioux Falls, says that the “after dark” aspect of furry culture has been exaggerated, and that not all furries partake in those activities. Online content creators are careful to tag certain pieces as “18+” and block minors from seeing them, and furry conventions are strict about carding and checking the ages of participants for their “after dark” activities.

Shiloh sees that “there’s a confirmation bias,” to what people believe about the furry fandom because “dressing in animal costumes seems surreal in concept”, and people are sometimes disturbed by that disruption of the status-quo. For some people, the unmoving eyes on the masks create an uncanny valley effect– kigu masks and mascot suits can have a similar effect, although they are intended to look cheerful and cute. Playing peek-a-boo while in costume can almost create the effect of the eyes blinking, but many people still find the uncanny valley effect of kigurumi masks and furry costumes unnerving.

All masks, whether a full animal head built over a bucket foundation or a simple piece of cloth, disrupt the ability of the person interacting with the wearer to fully grasp their emotions, expressions, and intentions. The inability to tell if there’s a threat behind the mask or not can cause people to intuitively assume that there is a threat.

For people wearing them, however, masks can be liberating. “I turn into a completely different person and feel more comfortable being silly,” Shiloh says, describing how fursuits can pull people who feel insecure and socially awkward out of their shells and help them grow more comfortable and expressive over time.

Jacob, 25, of Sioux Falls, also feels that costumes and masks can be socially liberating. “I’ve gotten compliments on my dancing, and I didn’t even know I could dance!”

He also credits the furry fandom with introducing him to his partner, because they initially met online. “I found Deviantart and met a lady who had a dragon drawing tutorial on there, and then found a community through that. Relationships can grow in virtual reality spaces because VR can close geographical gaps.”

Online experiences such as Furality grew in popularity during the covid-related closing of conventions as an alternative to in-person events, and the virtual worlds for furries became more immersive and convincing during that time. Even with in-person furry events resuming, Fureality is still a popular option because the graphics can close the gap between fantasy and reality in a way that the costumes cannot, such as making the eyes on the characters move. To be as inclusive as possible, the furry community helps people who are interested in participating in Fureality gain access to virtual reality spaces so that they can feel a sense of belonging even if they aren’t located near other furries or don’t have the financial means to travel to conventions.

“The furry fandom spreads positivity and acceptance. I didn’t have that growing up,” says Chibby, 19, who traveled from St Paul, MN and stayed with friends to attend the furry gathering in Falls Park.

“At first I was skeptical because of the rumors,” Jacob says. “But they’re wholesome, inclusive, and connected. Never once have I felt excluded or hated, and I have great memories of furry conventions. Hatred stems from not understanding, and not wanting to understand.”

Editorial Note: The term Furry refers to an individual who knows they are human, but likes to dress-up as an animal, similar to cosplay. An Otherkin refers to an individual who actually identifies as non-human, believing they are an animal, or another mythical creature trapped in the wrong body.

Help Support The Dakota Leader... DONATE TODAY!

--Anna Cole, Associate Editor

Post Date: 2022-08-17 19:00:00Last Update: 2022-08-18 16:54:15


Just The Facts- Media Kit Sent From South Dakota Canvassing Group

"Based on findings from canvassing and independent analysis by WE THE PEOPLE of South Dakota, it is imperative that before the November 8, 2022 general election the Secretary of State and the County Auditors update the voter rolls by removing voters that are deceased, have moved to another location, or have been inactive for two general elections."

November 3, 2020 Election Certified on November 10, 2020

SD Secretary of State website shows the following- During the 2020 election The Voter rolls dated 9/22/2021 show the following;

o 163 voters registered to vote AFTER 11/3/2020

o 552 voters registered on 11/3/2020 of which 49 voted

o 260 voters registered between 10/20/2020 and 11/3/2020

o 11 voters voted twice

o 256 voters over 120 years old

Voter rolls dated 12/29/2021 compared to voter rolls dated 9/22/2021

- 146 new voters voting on 11/3/2020, not previously recorded

- 601 voter records removed

- 36 new voters registered between 9/22/2021 and 12/21/2021, that voted in the November 3, 2020 election - 18 blank records that voted November 3, 2020

Voter Registration – SDCL 12-1-4 states, "For the purposes of this title (Title 12), the term, residence, means the place in which a person has fixed his or her habitation and to which the person, whenever absent, intends to return."... However, Door to door canvassing took place in Minnehaha, Lincoln and Pennington counties on February 5, 2022 and March 15, 2022.

The Brownstone Institute “They Thought They Were Free”
By Joshua Styles July 28, 2022

It’s been more than seventy-five years since the Nazis were defeated and Auschwitz was liberated. Seventy-five years is a long time—so long, in fact, that while many still learn of the horrors of the Holocaust, far fewer understand how the murder of the Jews happened. How were millions of people systematically exterminated in an advanced Western nation—a constitutional republic? How did such respectable and intelligent citizens become complicit in the murder of their countrymen? These are the questions Milton Mayer sought to answer in his book They Thought They Were Free.

In 1952, Mayer moved his family to a small German town to live among ten ordinary men, hoping to understand not only how the Nazis came to power but how ordinary Germans—ordinary people—became unwitting participants in one of history’s greatest genocides. The men Mayer lived among came from all walks of life: a tailor, a cabinetmaker, a bill-collector, a salesman, a student, a teacher, a bank clerk, a baker, a soldier, and a police officer.

Significantly, Mayer did not simply conduct formal interviews in order to “study” these men; rather, Mayer had dinner in these men’s homes, befriended their families, and lived as one of them for nearly a year. His own children went to the same school as their children. And by the end of his time in Germany, Mayer could genuinely call them friends. They Thought They Were Free is Mayer’s account of their stories, and the title of the book is his thesis. Mayer explains:

“Only one of my ten Nazi friends saw Nazism as we—you and I—saw it in any respect. This was Hildebrandt, the teacher. And even he then believed, and still believes, in part of its program and practice, ‘the democratic part.’ The other nine, decent, hard-working, ordinarily intelligent and honest men, did not know before 1933 that Nazism was evil. They did not know between 1933 and 1945 that it was evil. And they do not know it now. None of them ever knew, or now knows, Nazism as we knew and know it; and they lived under it, served it, and, indeed, made it” (47).

Until reading this book, I thought of what happened in Germany with a bit of arrogance. How could they not know Nazism was evil? And how could they see what was happening and not speak out? Cowards. All of them. But as I read Mayer’s book, I felt a knot in my stomach, a growing fear that what happened in Germany was not a result of some defect in the German people of this era.

The men and women of Germany in the 1930s and 40s were not unlike Americans in the 2010s and 20s—or the people of any nation at any time throughout history. They are human, just as we are human. And as humans, we have a great tendency to harshly judge the evils of other societies but fail to recognize our own moral failures—failures that have been on full display the past two years during the covid panic.

Mayer’s book is frighteningly prescient; reading his words is like staring into our own souls. The following paragraphs will show just how similar the world’s response to covid has been to the German response to the “threat” of the Jews. If we can truly understand the parallels between our response to covid and the situation in Hitler’s Germany, if we can see what lies at the end of “two weeks to flatten the curve,” perhaps we can prevent the greatest atrocities from being fully realized in our own day. But to stop our bent toward tyranny, we must first be willing to grapple with the darkest parts of our nature, including our tendency to dehumanize others and to treat our neighbors as enemies. Overcoming Decency

“Ordinary people—and ordinary Germans—cannot be expected to tolerate activities which outrage the ordinary sense of ordinary decency unless the victims are, in advance, successfully stigmatized as enemies of the people, of the nation, the race, the religion. Or, if they are not enemies (that comes later), they must be an element within the community somehow extrinsic to the common bond, a decompositive ferment (be it only by the way they part their hair or tie their necktie) in the uniformity which is everywhere the condition of common quiet. The Germans’ innocuous acceptance and practice of social anti-Semitism before Hitlerism had undermined the resistance of their ordinary decency to the stigmatization and persecution to come” (55).

Others have explained the link between totalitarian impulses and “institutionalized dehumanization” and have discussed the “othering” of unvaccinated persons in nations across the world. Mayer shows that such dehumanization does not necessarily begin with prejudice:

“National Socialism was anti-Semitism. Apart from anti-Semitism, its character was that of a thousand tyrannies before it, with modern conveniences. Traditional anti-Semitism . . . played an important role in softening the Germans as a whole to Nazi doctrine, but it was separation, not prejudice as such, that made Nazism possible, the mere separation of Jews and non-Jews” (116-117).

Even if many Germans did not harbor anti-Semitic prejudices (at least not initially), the forced separation of Jews and non-Jews created a devastating rift in German society, tearing the social fabric and paving the way for tyranny. In our day, the separation of the masked and unmasked, the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, has divided populations around the world like nothing we’ve experienced in our lifetimes. And the global scale of this separation has perhaps not happened in recorded history.

How has this separation been made possible? The immense power of propaganda, and particularly propaganda in the digital age. We think we understand how propaganda affects us, but we often don’t realize the truly insidious effects on how we view others until it is too late. Mayer’s friends explained this in great depth. On one occasion, Mayer asked the former bank clerk about one of his Jewish friends. “Did your memory of the peddler make you anti-Semitic?” “No—not until I heard anti-Semitic propaganda. Jews were supposed to do terrible things that the peddler had never done. . . . The propaganda didn’t make me think of him as I knew him but of him as a Jew” (124; emphasis added).



Is there anything we can do to mitigate the dehumanizing effects of propaganda? Mayer describes the power of Nazi propaganda as so intense that all of his friends were affected by it—changed by it—including the teacher who was more aware of such tactics. Nearly seven years after the war, his friends still could not be persuaded that they had been deceived:

“Nobody has proved to my friends that the Nazis were wrong about the Jews. Nobody can. The truth or falsity of what the Nazis said, and of what my extremist friends believed, was immaterial, marvelously so. There simply was no way to reach it, no way, at least, that employed the procedures of logic and evidence” (142).

Mayer’s conclusion is depressing. If we cannot persuade others with logic and evidence, how can we persuade them? How many of us have shared indisputable data that the vaccines carry risks? How many of us have shown videos where public health officials openly admit that the vaccines do not stop transmission and that cloth masks don’t work (and are in fact little more than “facial decorations”)? Yet the evidence does not persuade those who have been captured by propaganda; indeed, it cannot persuade them. This is because the very nature of propaganda does not appeal to logic or reason; it does not appeal to evidence. Propaganda appeals to our emotions, and in a world where many people are led by emotions, propaganda becomes deeply rooted in the hearts of those who consume it.

So what are we to do? Mayer relays a frustrating reality. But understanding how propaganda worked in Nazi Germany and how it works today is essential if we are to have any chance of persuading those who have been shaped by it. Moreover, understanding why many people tend to be led by emotions and to outsource or suspend their critical thinking is perhaps even more essential to forestalling greater tragedies. We cannot expect others to escape the tyranny of propaganda if they do not have time to think or are motivated not to think. Our Own Lives

Even without the dehumanization of those who were a “threat” to the community, most Germans were too focused on their own lives to consider the plight of their neighbors:

“Men think first of the lives they lead and the things they see; and not, among the things they see, of the extraordinary sights, but of the sights which meet them in their daily rounds. The lives of my nine friends—and even of the tenth, the teacher—were lightened and brightened by National Socialism as they knew it. And they look back at it now—nine of them, certainly—as the best time of their lives; for what are men’s lives? There were jobs and job security, summer camps for the children and the Hitler Jugend to keep them off the streets. What does a mother want to know? She wants to know where her children are, and with whom, and what they are doing. In those days she knew or thought she did; what difference does it make? So things went better at home, and when things go better at home, and on the job, what more does a husband and father want to know?” (48)

--With Express Permission to Re-Publish From Jeffery Tucker of The Brownstone Institute

Post Date: 2022-08-16 12:32:17Last Update: 2022-08-16 12:54:20


South Dakota Leads Nation With Newly Drafted Social Studies Standards
Politically Driven Pushback Begins....Updated 8/22/22

After months of collaboration, facilitated by former Hillsdale College professor William Morrisey, a team of state historians and Tribal Leaders have released a draft of proposed Social Studies Standards for South Dakota public schools.

The new standards are being hailed by Tribal communities, as the curriculum is the most expansive in the country, focused on the true story of Indigenous peoples.
The standards feature expanded South Dakota and Native American history and civics, representing the most robust emphasis on Native American history and civics of any draft standards to-date.

“I am glad that Native American heritage and culture will be well represented in these standards,” said Joe Circle Bear, member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and member of the Commission. “Governor Noem promised to tell our story as part of American history, and these standards do that.”

"I am very proud of the work we as a committee have put into the new Social Studies Standards,” said Stephanie Hiatt, doctorate in education, member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and member of the Commission. “The new standards offer a chronological history of the founding of America. With these new standards, I am confident South Dakota students will develop a historical appreciation that will foster hopeful and prosperous communities.”

In preparing the draft standards, the Commission focused on the four following goals: “I couldn’t be more thrilled with the new social studies standards. They are substantial and straightforward standards that emphasize our founding documents, our pursuit of freedom, and treat our nation’s history honestly,” said Representative Sue Peterson, Vice Chair of the House Education Committee.

The proposed standards provide many notable changes, and a new approach to American History. Rather than the current model which jumps around chronologically, a new spiraled sequence would allow students to build upon what they have learned previously. The content has been enhanced as to challenge familial units, and expand knowledge in every home as parents become a integral part of the learning process. Perhaps most important to many families, "streamlined identification," which allows students, teachers and parents to have full transparency and access to the content itself.

In addition, the standards return to an economic framework, beginning in high school. Prior to graduation, students will fully understand supply and demand, contract law, macro - micro-economic security through private ownership, the free market, trade and more.
[pg 84]



The committee was assembled in response to growing parental concerns related to Critical Race Theory, and various new curricula that are said to be replacing traditional academics in the classroom. Nation-wide un-enrollment rates have spiked this year, as families pull their children from public schools.

States like California are currently experiencing record high un-enrollment rates due to medical/genetic discrimination, public distrust, Critical Race Theory, and frustrations related to limited academics.

Even in the red state of Tennessee, core academic classes have been cut down to thirty minutes, accounting for a total of two-hours per day allotted for math, science, reading, and social studies.

Many believe that South Dakota, on the other hand, is now leading the way forward toward enrollment retention within K-12 public schools.

Not everyone agrees with the new Social Studies Standards however.
The South Dakota Education Association has recently stated its concerns for the age appropriateness of the new standards. The SDEA, is the South Dakota chapter of the NEA, the largest teacher's union in the country, which recently adopted Critical Race Theory into its platform.

Taneeza Islam, the former mayoral candidate for Sioux Falls, is the Executive Director of South Dakota Voices For Justice. Islam recently announced on social media that the group will be busing people to Pierre, to testify against the "CRT Ban."

Islam's post was shared by the South Dakota Democratic Party, South Dakota Teacher's Union, Healing Racism, Minnehaha Democratic Party, and more. The meeting was later postponed by the Board of Education.

Critical Race is a theoretical curriculum, spawned from Pulitzer Prize winning book The 1619 Project- A New Origin Story, authored by New York Time's Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. Despite reservations from historians regarding factual inaccuracies, the National Education Association (the largest teacher's union in America), instituted CRT by adding the curriculum to its platform (2021-2022 Agenda Item 39). In states where the teacher's union dictates policy, CRT has become interwoven into every aspect of the classroom experience, placing a focus on slavery as the origin of the United States.

Critics of CRT, say that parents and families are being left out of the process, and have limited access to what their child is learning. Others contend that traditional academics are slipping away, and being replaced by Social Emotional Learning, which places a focus on emotion over facts. However, the most compelling arguments against CRT have come from Black and Latin families themselves, as they say that CRT actually perpetuates systemic racism rather than providing solutions to it.

Oregon's Department of Education implemented Critical Race Theory curriculum, and "ethnomathmatics," last year. Public outrage was sparked, when
Oregon school districts began segregating graduation ceremonies for "BIPOC" students. The state of Oregon, then moved to completely drop all graduation requirements, starting last year.

In this 82 page document, handed out to Oregon teachers
, by the ODE and NEA (National Teachers Association) it is now considered racist to teach Black, Latin and Indigenous students the correct answers to math, science and reading. In addition, the new curriculum prohibits teachers from requiring BIPOC students to show their work, because doing so "perpetuates systemic racism."

Updated 08/22/2022 to reflect correct meeting dates. A previous version of this article shared meeting times that have since been postponed.

Help Support The Dakota Leader... DONATE TODAY!

--Breeauna Sagdal- Editor and Health Policy Journalist for The Dakota Leader

Post Date: 2022-08-16 10:18:33Last Update: 2022-08-27 18:16:42


City of Sioux Falls Considers Aggressive Hiring Plan For FY 2023
Federal Grant Money Could Create New Police Powers- Council Focused on Employment Retention and Diversity Instead.

The city council held its second budget hearing this past week to discuss the proposed budget of $646,200,000 million dollars. The focus of council-members seemed to relate to the future needs of the city, population growth, the diversity needs of representing the total population, and how to retain employees - as to avoid currently high rates of turn-over.

The City of Sioux Falls has full-time staff equal to 66 persons per every 10,000 residents of the city. With that large of a staff, the ability of the city to maintain, and retain full-time employees over-time remains a dedicated focus of the Human Resources Department. The city is seeing a 9.8% rate in turn-over ratio however, which includes recent retirees or those soon to be retired.

According to Bill O'Toole, the city's HR Director, over the next five years (between 2021-2027), the city is expected to see 86 full-time employees become eligible for retirement. In an effort to prevent staffing deficits, the city is now considering a budget proposal to replace retirees, by hiring 30 new full-time employees this year.



However, many on the city council have voiced reservations due to high turn-over rates (about 6% over the last four years), the impacts of inflation on retirement pensions, and the economy. Many say they're concerned with the financial commitment of new hires, in light of these issues, and question if it's sustainable.

"My concern is maybe not specific positions," Councilman Curt Soehl said during the meeting. "But the overall general economy that the city is going into in the future, now starting a recession. I think we're going to take a close, hard look at all the positions and see where they're necessary."

Councilman Pat Starr stated during the meeting, "give me something." "Give me something to take back that says we're making progress somewhere in this budget."

Councilor Greg Nietzert has sat on the city council for six years (2016-present day), and also believes this is a big ask in uncertain times.

Of the thirty new full-time positions, the city is requesting between two-to-four new full-time staff members per year, and the Mayor is requesting to hire four new police offers. Initially, the new officer positions could be funded by a one-time federal grant, rather than local residents. It's unclear however, which exact grant will be utilized.

Police Chief John Thum told the council, the four new police officers will be paid for over the next few years by utilizing a federal block grant. However, when questioned by Councilman Pat Starr about the grant, Thum could not remember the name of the particular grant.

Oddly enough, the city council seems unbothered by the lack of clarity regarding funding sources, or what obligations they're potentially committing to by accepting particular grants.

Back in 2021, The Department of Justice announced more than $139 million in grant funding through the department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), COPS Hiring Program (CHP). Those awards provided direct funding to 183 law enforcement agencies across the nation, allowing those agencies to hire 1,066 additional full-time law enforcement professionals. The description can be found here on Justice Department's website.

“We are committed to providing police departments with the resources needed to help ensure community safety and build community trust,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The grants we are announcing today will enable law enforcement agencies across the country to hire more than 1,000 additional officers to support vitally important community oriented policing programs,” Garland stated in a press release.

That program has already ended for FY2022, and while President Biden allocated an additional 300 million to the program last year, nothing has been mentioned for FY 2023, as of yet. Additionally, the city of
Sioux Falls is not listed as an award recipient of the grant, nor is the city currently listed as an applicant.

However, there is a specific federal grant that was approved in 2021 called the "Mental Health Awareness Training Grant."

"The purpose of this program is to (1) train individuals (e.g., school personnel, emergency first responders, law enforcement, veterans, armed services members and their families) to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental disorders, particularly serious mental illness (SMI) and/or serious emotional disturbances (SED). (2) establish linkages with school- and/or community-based mental health agencies to refer individuals with the signs or symptoms of mental illness to appropriate services. (3) train emergency services personnel, law enforcement, fire department personnel, veterans, and others to identify persons with a mental disorder and employ crisis de-escalation techniques.(4) educate individuals about resources that are available in the community for individuals with a mental disorder. It is expected that this program will prepare and train others on how to appropriately and safely respond to individuals with mental disorders, particularly individuals with SMI and/or SED."

This "Grant" clearly sets a mandate for local units of government to hire and fund police enforcement positions that manage the mental health, and substance us disorders of the community, as well as fellow law enforcement officers.

Under the Grant, applicants (the city) can apply for a grant to fund a Mental Health and Behavioral Program for up to five years, providing cities a revenue stream of $625,000 thousand dollars, or $125,000 per year for new staff members, as long as the city meets requirements of the grant. That being said,
the grant also requires cost matching, which specifically states that the funds cannot come from another federal revenue source, meaning the city would be required to match whatever funds come from this grant.

While accepting federal grant money is certainly appealing, it's not a long-term revenue source for the city. Eventually the taxpayers of Sioux Falls will see these increases added to their property, gas and sales tax. Every new hire is also entered into the PERS (Public Employee Retirement System) fund, potentially making life-time recipients of taxpayer dollars out of every new hire. Meanwhile, the city will have instituted new programs, required by the federal government, as a condition of receiving certain grants.

The city will move forward with discussion on
the Mayor's recommended budget, to determine if an aggressive hiring strategy is needed, and if so, what type of federal obligations the city might be bound to if funded via grants.

The next budget meeting will be held tomorrow, Tuesday August 16, 2022 at 3pm.
The full schedule can be viewed here for meeting times, dates and public comment periods. If you have any questions please contact the City Clerk at (605) 367-8080 or email at clerks@siouxfalls.org.

--Mike Zitterich

Post Date: 2022-08-15 08:32:10Last Update: 2022-08-13 15:38:35


Essay From Pierre- “Is Medicaid Expansion Right For South Dakota?”
We Can Do Better!

Medicaid and Medicare were established in 1965 under President Lyndon B. Johnson’s massive government expansion called the “Great Society.” Medicare was intended to be health insurance for the elderly who were not adequately covered by employee-based programs, and Medicaid was to be health insurance for the poor. Medicare is an actual health insurance program for the elderly. Medicaid, however, is a social welfare program.

In 2010, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as “Obamacare.” That act required Medicaid to take on childless, able-bodied adults with income up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). According to the US Department of Health and Human Services website, the federal poverty level for a single adult is $12,880, which means those making under $17,774 per year, now qualify. In 2012, the Supreme Court found that mandatory Medicaid expansion was unconstitutional and would be left up to the states. Since then, only four states west of the Mississippi, out of 12 total, have resisted the siren song of federal money- South Dakota, Wyoming, Kansas, and Texas. Those four states have some of the lowest Medicaid enrollment numbers of all the states, and the 12 that have not expanded Medicaid have below average enrollment numbers.

The Medicaid.gov website says Medicaid covers “…eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities. Medicaid is administered by states, according to FEDERAL requirements. The program is funded jointly by states and the federal government.” Medicaid is the “SINGLE LARGEST source of health coverage in the United States.” [Emphasis added]

To receive federal Medicaid funds, certain groups and services MUST be covered in addition to OPTIONAL ones. South Dakota already goes beyond mandatory requirements by covering home and community-based services, organ transplant services, adult dental services, child dental services, Healthy Homes, transportation assurance, and more.



In my first year as a legislator assigned to the Appropriations Committee and Joint Committee on Appropriations, I came to picture Medicaid as a three-legged stool; Eligibles (those who qualify for Medicaid), Providers (those who give Medicaid services), and Benefits (what the state covers under Medicaid for eligible persons). That year we expanded two of the three legs by adding more providers and more benefits, which expanded the overall Medicaid program in our state.

Breaking traditional protocol, I spoke against the expansion of Medicaid in the general appropriation bill. More votes were cast against the ‘g-bill’ that year than probably ever in South Dakota's history. The bill still passed, and my speech didn’t win me any fans in the Daugaard administration, or in the South Dakota healthcare industry. Still, I will never forget the legislators and staff who thanked me afterwards for having the courage to speak the truth. Being a rookie, I didn't realize how rare that was, it was my first year after all. It’s simply not politically correct to criticize anyone for expanding government in our supposed “conservative” state.

So, what changes with Medicaid expansion? Single, childless, able-bodied adults who are not currently eligible will be added to the rolls. At present, a young adult receiving Medicaid must meet income guidelines and have dependent children, or be disabled and receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Medicaid is funded jointly by the state and federal government. The state’s share is determined by the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) rate, which changes every year according to that state’s per capita income compared with other states. The higher a state’s per capita income, the larger the state share of the payment, but the fed’s share can never fall below 50%. South Dakota’s current FMAP rate is about 57% federal (which does not include a 6.2% bump during the “public health emergency,” which was just extended another three months out to the middle of October), with the state picking up roughly 43% of Medicaid costs. In FY22, (the fiscal year that just ended) over $1.1B of our $5B state budget was spent on Medicaid. Almost 22 percent of our entire state budget was spent on this one welfare program - BEFORE expansion!

South Dakota had over 127,000 Medicaid enrollees by July 1, 2022, meaning that well over 14% of our population is already receiving Medicaid. If we add in the 18K on CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), that goes up to over 16% of our population receiving taxpayer-funded medical services in South Dakota.

In contrast, 25-37% of the population is enrolled in Medicaid, in many of the states that have already expanded. I should note that 47% of South Dakota medical service enrollees received some sort of covered medical service in the month of June. The total cost of those services was a whopping $110 million or just over $1,600 per recipient, in June alone. Now, we're expected to believe that by expanding services to 33 percent more people (42,500), we will only see an increased annual cost of $308 million dollars, after we just spent one-third of that, last month, on those currently enrolled?

The fiscal note on Amendment D (Medicaid expansion) shows the federal government would pay their regular FMAP rate for current enrollees plus an additional 5% for two years after expansion. For the added enrollees, the federal government would pay 90% and the state would pay 10%. Care for the incarcerated breaks down the same way, 90% federal/10% state. Any savings would be minimal, and by the end of the second year any savings we would still be receiving would be outstripped by a 3 to 1 ratio, due to the additional expenditures we would have, and it would only get worse from there.

The federal government is broke and can’t meet Social Security obligations beyond 2034 without drastic changes to the program. Our country is more than $30 Trillion dollars in debt, which averages to $243,000 PER TAXPAYER. Why would we believe that Medicaid obligations will be met?

Medicaid harms the poor, the Physicians and the Taxpayers according to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. According to a study published in the Annals of Surgery, Medicaid recipients had higher post-operative fatality rates compared to those on private insurance. And perhaps most damning, Medicaid is responsible for the worst health outcomes in Americans, with disparate and disproportionate impacts upon minority, and disadvantaged communities.

"Many politicians sell this as government compassion. However, it really means minorities disproportionately receive the worst healthcare, and have the worst health outcomes, in America," Study by Physicians For Reform.

Oregon has been considered the model for Medicaid expansion, after the legislature voted to expand it in 2008. However, Oregon is now leading the nation in overdose and deaths,
due to a lack of services. In 2015, the Oregon Health Plan (charged with overseeing Medicaid), decided to cut costs by removing opioid treatment from the list of covered services through contracted CCOs (Coordinated Care Organizations). Instead, the state moved Medicaid recipients to state-run methadone clinics, and daily dosing regiments. Stable patients went from 28 day prescriptions, to daily check-ins. With work obligations, and normal life, many relapsed. Just last year, the state decriminalized the use of all street drugs like heroine, methamphetamine, cocaine and more. In addition, the state reallocated 400 million dollars of marijuana taxes, from public education to fund treatment centers. At the last minute, Governor Kate Brown announced she would delay the funding of treatment centers. This directly resulted in the current surge of opioid related deaths, as facilities became over burdened and services became scarce.

There are better policy-based solutions that we should be considering. South Dakota currently has some of the lowest-priced private health insurance plans in the nation, the issue is out-of-pocket costs. If we instead, focused on solutions that actually help the people who need it, like moving to a premium-support or cash-assistance model, we could lead the nation in fiscal responsibility and better health outcomes for all.



By migrating the state's share of Medicaid expenses, we can start to think outside-the-box and re-imagine the entire concept of Medicaid as we know it—we can do better. Rather than placing more people into a broken system, we should be focused on creating ways to help people get the private insurance and better care we know is possible.

Currently, a patient who needs financial assistance must apply for insolvency through their county. The medical establishment then eats that cost, once an application for financial assistance is approved. However, the state could instead create a fund to reimburse health systems that waive patient balances. Thus we help people when they need it, rather than breed complacency through constant hand-outs.

For example, a business owner in my district hires ex-convicts and teaches them skills that would normally cost several thousand-dollars to learn at any technical school, saving them that cost via hands-on learning. Sadly, He told me that most of them do not stay past a few weeks, because "it’s easier for them to stay home and collect welfare." That’s just one anecdotal story, but an unfortunate reality. As our government seizes more collective wealth, to incentivize complacency and essentially pick winners and losers, the more harm it does to our state and nation.

Despite popular belief, socialism is not about workers getting together and starting their own companies. Socialism is when the government seizes the means of production, and in the case of Medicaid expansion, the means of production is our health. In light of an aging population, and chronically ill new generations, why would we pay more money for less services, and sub-standard care? If people truly want socialized medicine, they're free to create a cooperative in a laissez-faire capitalist constitutional republic. Conversely, once we give un-elected bureaucracies more power over our health choices, and means of producing health care, there's no going back. Socialism is coerced injustice by pseudo-intellectuals, thinly veiled as humanitarian policy.

Do we need a safety net? Yes, but, who is responsible for that safety net? Throughout history, family relied on family. When that wasn’t possible, the Church provided help. Today, the Department of Social Services has replaced family and faith communities, as a primary source of assistance. Government was always the last resort. After decades of expanding reliance upon the welfare state, government assistance has now become the first option, instead of the last. “Free government money” is never free…it’s always the product of someone’s labor. To return to the strong work ethic and independent spirit that made this nation great, we must find ways to decrease our reliance upon our failing federal-run systems, rather than expanding them. We can do better!

--Representative Taffy Howard served as an officer in the United States Air Force, and was elected to the South Dakota House of Representatives in November 2016. Howard serves as vice-chair of the Appropriations Committee

Post Date: 2022-08-15 08:10:07Last Update: 2022-08-15 10:18:33


DSS Listening Sessions Scheduled For Day Care Dollars
$38 million can be used, but must meet federal requirements...

DSS has $38 million in discretionary funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to support child care. Funds can be used for any allowable use of federal Child Care Development Funds and must meet all federal requirements.

The Department of Social Services (DSS) is planning several opportunities for child care providers, community members, and families to give their input on how one-time funding for South Dakota’s child care system is spent. However,
as previously reported by The Dakota Leader, these funds could alter the way that state day care facilities are run.

The Department of Social Services will continue to host listening sessions through the end of August, in an effort to hear from families, and care providers across the state. Sessions will be hosted in-person and remotely in Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Aberdeen.

Privately run day care facilities will not have access to the one time funds, per the ARPA guidelines. State licensed day care facilities, that registered through an online portal last year, were initially allocated the first $30 million dollars. Now the state is seeking input from the community, prior to allocating the second round of funds.



During legislative testimony last session, DSS disclosed to lawmakers that out of nearly 3,000 state-wide day care facilities, less than 800 were licensed with the state. Representative Liz May (R-Kyle) asked of Secretary Lorie Gill, why day care facilities would choose to be private versus state licensed? Gill responded that she was unsure at that point.

Since then, The Dakota Leader has spoken with various day care providers to understand the issues better. One individual was willing to be quoted, but only if we kept her identity anonymous.

X runs a day care facility from her home farm, and told The Dakota Leader that staying licensed with the state only increased her costs, and anxiety level. She says that parents just can't afford cost increases today, and the anxiety became more trouble than it was worth.

"I stopped keeping up with the state license because it just wasn't worth it," X stated. "The state tends to get super picky, and wouldn't have allowed me to continue serving certain kids. The state wanted me to remove the outside play sets we have, which the kids love, and they showed up unannounced from time to time, it just became more trouble than it was worth. But my line in the sand was due to the kids here that have had vaccine reactions. These parents have been told by doctors not to proceed with the childhood schedule, while others have high needs," she trailed off. "I'm just not going to kick kids out, they all belong, and it's just not worth the federal money to have to run my home like the state wants."

In addition, she tells The Dakota Leader that keeping up with state guidelines increases her costs, and those costs end up getting passed onto to parents. "I have to make money, and while I don't make a ton, pretty much every dime I make goes right back into the day care, I also can't afford to do this for free either. So if it comes between a state license and keeping costs low, well, clearly you know my answer."

While the state of South Dakota currently allows for religious and philosophical exemptions to the childhood vaccination schedule for K-12, licensed day care facilities, "must require all age-appropriate immunizations, not including hepatitis B," according to state regulations.

In addition, everything from masking rules to play structure equipment, vaccination requirements etc. vary from county to county and town to town, across the state. Currently, mandatory masking is not being implemented for example, but some argue that might change after federal dollars are accepted. Buried within the federal requirements for acceptance of the funds, are guidelines to strictly adhere to CDC guidelines.
As previously reported, failure to abide by these guidelines would prompt a repayment process.

Mya Olson of South Dakota Health Freedom, says parents are concerned about what will happen this coming year, especially in light of the constantly changing guidelines from regulatory agencies, and a lack of clear local law.

"The parents of children in South Dakota, who choose to exercise their right to an exemption, are currently protected by state law. However, as we have seen over the last eighteen-months, that state law has not gone far enough in protecting South Dakota citizens. The federal regulations, although never legally enforced, caused businesses across the state to enforce guidelines that were created by the CDC and OSHA," Olson says. "This directly contributed to the loss of jobs and coerced vaccinations."

"We are already seeing this in South Dakota, where state-run agencies like the Oglala school district, are currently telling their parents and students they need the full series of COVID-19 vaccines to return to school. While the directive from Oglala is patently false, and contrary to state exemption laws, it's precisely this type of legal grey area that's causing concerns."

Olson tells The Dakota Leader, that many would rather remain private and forgo federal funds, than face the unknowns of future and ever-changing guidelines dictating how people are allowed to run their businesses.

"If these ambiguous, and ever-changing rules aren't followed after receiving ARPA funds, it could result in financial hardship, repayment, and the loss of state licensing. Especially as state and federal agencies continue to alter guidance, I can understand the concern from the owners of child care facilities. When you aren't sure what you're agreeing to, it makes sense that child care providers would opt-out, rather than unknowingly submit to loosely handled regulations and seemingly politically motivated indecisiveness. In light of the lack of local protections, or firm ground, being licensed with the state could mean handing over control of your business, and at times common sense."

There are only a few listening sessions left. Tomorrow, August 12th at the Ramkota Hotel in Aberdeen, and Monday August 15, 2022 at the Rapid City Convention Center. Sessions will be available for virtual attendance, and the link to register can be found here

Help Support The Dakota Leader... DONATE TODAY!

--Breeauna Sagdal- Editor and Health Policy Journalist for The Dakota Leader

Post Date: 2022-08-11 21:19:11Last Update: 2022-08-11 12:27:22


Live Interview With The Dakota Leader’s Editor at Large, Breeauna Sagdal
COUNTERSPEECH with Constitutional Law Professor Deana Sacks

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has been characterized as a "RINO" (Republican In Name Only), by her opponents. Journalist and Editor of The Dakota Leader Breeauna Sagdal, and Law Professor Deana Sacks, dig into these allegations and the events that set it all into motion.

Join us as we discuss South Dakota political dynamics, Governor Kristi Noem's recent behavior, events and potential motives which are addressed within the broader context of a discussion concerning the loss of Americans' constitutional rights, including property rights, and rights to bodily autonomy.



Help Support The Dakota Leader... DONATE TODAY!

--Deana Sacks is the host of Counterspeech on Revolution Radio, a Constitutional Law Professor and Attorney in California and Texas

Post Date: 2022-08-11 08:02:03Last Update: 2022-08-10 21:19:11


Letter To The Editor “RE- Scorecard Warning”
Submitted by Ken Delfino of Keystone

Lee Schoenbeck’s concern over an organization’s “scorecard,” that ranks him where he belongs, based on its beliefs is quite interesting. The South Dakota Citizens for Liberty (CFL) was created in 2011, along with hundreds of other Tea Party organizations to counter the actions of the Obama administration and keep an eye on government at all levels.

Schoenbeck’s inference that the CFL scorecard is tantamount to “voter fraud,” is a fraudulent statement in of itself.

The CFL scorecard was created to show the voting constituents (plus the pathetic 68% who don’t vote) how their lawmakers vote on issues that match the Mission Statement of South Dakota Citizens for Liberty. Contrary to the belief of many, it is not a popularity contest. If that’s called ‘cherry-picking’ then so be it. The bills change, but CFL’s Mission Statement has not.

If one does not like the CFL scores, then I suggest that you check the American Conservative Union scorecard, which grades all elected officials in every state.

Schoenbeck closes with credit to the governor. However, when will she publicly credit the 50 House representatives who trounced HB 1297 in 2020 in which SHE wanted state closure authority passed off to the HSS secretary...an unelected official?

--Ken Delfino

Post Date: 2022-08-11 00:34:18Last Update: 2022-08-11 00:48:29


How The City of Sioux Falls Came To Be

By Mike Zitterich

Once upon a time, the City Of Sioux Falls had two major islands within the main business district of the Town. The first, largest, and more famous of the two, was Brookings Island. Known today as Seney Island, which stands today below the Sioux Steel Property being developed into commercial real-estate. The second, and lesser known island was appropriately named, "Second Island".

Second Island, which received its name primarily because it was the second largest of the two islands on the river, as it passed through Sioux Falls proper, was located at the junction of where 9th Street and Second Avenue come together in Downtown Sioux Falls. It may have been the smaller island, but it was large enough to hold citywide events on it, and for more than eighty years, it did just that.

First, let us review the history of how the city came to be. Two companies came to the area between 1840 and 1850 to explore, settle, and search for land to build their commercial power house. The falls, on the Big Sioux River, became the center attraction. Western Town Company, which was a group of land surveyors from Dubuque, Iowa, would purchase roughly 160 acres of land under the 1841 Preemption Act. The Preemption Act allowed settlers to seek out and squat on a piece of land, with the intent to claim it, patent it, and develop it. By 1856, the company was able to purchase the rights to the land just south of the Falls, from 3rd Street south to 7th Street. For those who know this area, this is the same property which held Sioux Steel, Pitts Steel, Ravens Industries, and the Railroad Yard. This group of settlers would eventually occupy, and hold the land rights to Seney Island.



By 1862 a second group of investors, the Dakota Land Company, would come to the area with similar intentions. This became the second group of settlers to move to Sioux Falls with the intent to form a city. Eventually, The Dakota Land Company would claim the land between 7th Street, going south to 12th Street. For those familiar with a city map, this area would later be known as Downtown Sioux Falls, as the city grew in population. In addition, Dakota Land Company would occupy what became known as "Second Island." A fitting title, for the second company, or group of settlers to explore, and "settle" the area.

While the Western Town Company established it's town-site known as Sioux Falls in 1856, during the 1860's the two groups would work together to form Sioux Falls City. Combining their two settlements in order to form one big city, the Dakota Land Company agreed to build "Fort Sod," in an effort to protect the residents from the area's original inhabitants. That fort, is now a parking lot for the Great Western Bank building, directly southwest of Second Island.

Between 1881 and 1920, Second Island like its sister island to the south, was fast becoming a popular destination for residents, who oftentimes held picnics on the island. Second island, modeled after iconic boardwalks and Coney island, held a small building that doubled as a Dance Hall, Concert Venue, Roller-skating Rink, and Mess Hall.

The island itself had a small 'western channel' that went around its western boundary. The "west bank" of the Sioux River, as it passed through what quickly became Downtown Sioux Falls, was often times the lowest point along the river. It often flooded, which led to some desperate times for local businesses, homeowners, and all who claimed properties in that area of town. By the 1930's, plans were being put into motion to quickly re-develop and completely change this area for the future.

By 1936, work began on building the massive stone flood walls which you can see today. This would bring in with it tons and tons of dirt, gravel, and fill in order to fill in the land behind the wall. Yes, this meant the plan was to raise the land behind the wall, which would then usher in the newly adopted "Urban Development" of the 1940's. New buildings were erected, and in 1965 the river ramp was replaced. Gone was the island, but in its place now stands the 9th street extension, allowing traffic to connect to 2nd Avenue, heading southbound to 14th.

The picture below, is what Second Island appears like today. As you can see, a remnant of the Island is still there, if you know where to look. Located between the two Flood Gates in the wall, one located behind the former Western Bank building, and the other gate next to the Rock Island Railroad Bridge. The two gates mark the points of which the former western channel connected to the river, on both sides of the island.

From 1965 to 2009, the River Ramp which stood over the island itself, was again redeveloped to build the River Greenway Project. The ramp was removed, and once again the former island showed some signs of life, despite the fact it is 10 feet beneath the surface. But if you look closely, you can still see the island beneath the flood wall, a glimpse into the past. Behind the wall, however, you see the higher filled in embankment due to the Urban Development of the 1940's.

Although both islands are all but gone today, a well planned out Metropolis has come together around the Falls, the center attraction to the City of Sioux Falls. Today this area is a thriving financial commercial hub for the State of South Dakota.

Western Town Company (Company A)

"Wilmot W. Brookings. Brookings set out for Dakota Territory in June of 1857. He arrived at Sioux Falls on August 27, 1857, and became one of the first settlers there. He and his group represented the Western Town Company quickly formed and established the Sioux Falls City, along with many investors of the Dakota Land Company, quickly with the help of both groups, despite a small hiccup between 1866-1871, With the help of his dear friend Richard F. Pettigrew, Sioux Falls quickly became, the commercial hub of what became the State of South Dakota."

Dakota Land Company (Company B)

"Governor Samuel Medary approved the charter on 23 May 1857. Contemporaries portrayed the Dakota Land Company as a "company of gentlemen, principally residents of St. Paul,"' who "represented some of the leading capitalists of New England."* Listed among the incorporators were Samuel A. Medary, William H. Nobles, Joseph R. Brown, Alpheus G. Fuller, Jefferson P. Kidder, Samuel J. Albright, Byron M. Smith, Judge Charles E. Flandrau, James M. Allen, Franklin J. DeWitt, N. R. Brown, and James W. Lynd. Most were professional politicians active in Minnesota Territorial affairs, and several were destined to play roles in the development of Dakota Territory. All original incorporators of the Dakota Land Company professed strong Democratic convictions....The Dakota Land Company was quick to realize the profits available. With their political ties to the Democratic administration in Washington, company promoters thought territorial status could be achieved for this western area. Judge Charles E. Flandrau explained that the speculators hoped to "avail themselves of the advantages of being proprietors of the capital city and several lesser ones, that might become the seats of the university, penitentiary, and other public institutions."" There was also the matter of a host of appointive jobs that accompanied any new territory. The capitalists envisioned a monopoly, not just of land but of governmental offices as well, if they secured an organic act for Dakota Territory." From the book "The Politics of Land in Dakota Territory" [Early Skirmishes—1857-1861] written by Grant K. Anderson.

Together, Wilmont W. Brookings, Richard Pettigrew, Samuel Medary, all became the early leaders of what has become one of America's fastest growing "Cities' in the upper Midwest. And two uniquely positioned islands, Seney Island near Falls Park, and Second Island near 9th Street and Second Avenue, both played a huge role in the early development of the City of Sioux Falls today.

Help Support The Dakota Leader... DONATE TODAY!

--Mike Zitterich

Post Date: 2022-08-10 09:44:21Last Update: 2022-08-10 11:29:28


South Dakota Hires Outside Counsel to Fight Citizens For Public Records
Your Tax Dollars Hard at Work...

In January of 2022, the Federalist and Just The News released a report regarding Georgia's missing video surveillance. Starting in February of 2022, three South Dakota women began filing Freedom of Information Act requests with their respective county auditors, to request the video footage of absentee ballot boxes, amongst other things.

On May 11, 2022, Therasa Pesce received a denial letter to her Freedom of Information Act request, from Minnehaha County. In response to her request for information, pertaining to the video surveillance and audit logs during the 2020 and 2022 elections, county auditor Bennet Kyte contacted ESS (Elections Systems and Software), the manufacturer of South Dakota's contracted voting machines. Kyte was
appointed to the position of Auditor after former Auditor, Bob Litz was accused of wearing his mask improperly during the 2020 general election. Litz tested positive for COVID-19 two days after the election, and later resigned. Kyte took over the office effective January 1, 2021.

According to ESS, release of the logs could compromise the cyber-integrity of their machines, and potentially disclose "proprietary information," listed under South Dakota state law as an exemption to public records. In addition,
Auditor Bennett Kyte wrote to the Office of Hearing Examiners to "respectfully request," the Hearing Examiners "deny the petitioner’s request for disclosure," of the public records.

On July 12, 2022 Linda Montgomery received a similar response from Aurora County State's Attorney Rachel Mairose, to a separate Freedom Of Information Act filed in February. Montgomery requested information pertaining to the government contracts and purchase agreements with ESS, as well as the audit logs. This request was also denied, citing the denial from Minnehaha county, in addition to stating that election materials may be destroyed within 60 days of a non-federal election, and 22 months after a federal election.

Upon receiving similar denials to their public records requests, the women filed an administrative appeal with the South Dakota Office of Hearing Examiners. In response to these appeals,
The Hearing Examiners consolidated the separate requests for information, into one response. According to the OHE, due to the fact that the requests were similar in nature, "a consolidation was appropriate and allowed."

In addition, the OHE determined that "pursuant to
SDCL 1-27-40, no good cause was offered or shown necessitating a hearing." Ultimately, OHE sided with the county auditors, and ordered the non-disclosure of public records to be upheld, arguing that the ESS machine logs and database materials are not to be considered public record. Meanwhile, the request for video surveillance went ignored.



The lack of evidence provided from the Office of Hearing Examiners, other than quoting ES&S (Elections Systems and Software out of Omaha NE) as the basis of their denial, emboldened residents from every county across South Dakota to file their own round of FOIAs. The second round of public records requests included a much broader list of records being requested, but especially record of video surveillance at the ballot drop box sites.

However, shortly thereafter every response became uniform, and cited the OHE denial, while ignoring the expanded list of records being requested, as seen here; Deuel county response, Hutchinson County response, and Codington County's response. Each county admittedly unable to reproduce the video footage of absentee ballot boxes, required to be kept for 22 months by federal law. Each county citing absurd dollar amounts for copies, and each county responding with the exact same, rubber stamped response.

Then the end of June rolled around, and with it came the
disclosure of privately hired legal counsel, on the taxpayer's dime. Each county is now lawyering up, with Minnehaha and Pennington County Auditors having hired the President of the South Dakota Bar Association, Lisa Hansen Marso, and her colleague at Boyce Law Firm, David Hieb.

While President of The South Dakota Bar Association, Marso has
represented large corporations like Avera Health. Last year, Marso and her colleague David Hieb, both now retained to represent Minnehaha and Pennington counties, fought a Doctor in a wrongful termination lawsuit against their client, Avera Health. In fact, when calling the Boyce Law Firm, the first thing mentioned is an internal conflict of interest report, to ensure the firm doesn't currently represent the opposition. Interestingly enough, many companies will retain larger firms, such as Boyce, so their tenants, employees and anyone seeking to sue them cannot access the legal services of such firms, due to a conflict interest.

Most notable, is the disproportionate political advantage of having the President of the Bar Association on retainer. The Bar Association creates the curriculum for law schools, and a Bar card is the difference between being able to practice law or not. Every judge in the state of South Dakota, is still answerable to the Bar Association. Many say that the Bar is so powerful, no lawyer in their right mind would oppose its officers.

Should the citizens of South Dakota persist in trying to get public records from County Auditors, they will now be faced with the full opposition force of the state, and the Bar Association. The question remains, why is the state using South Dakota taxpayer money, to fight the disclosure of records that belong to the people of South Dakota?

Public disclosure and transparency appears to be an important aspect of free and fair elections to many individuals, across the political spectrum. While the 2020 election has left many Republicans feeling uneasy or mistrusting of election integrity,
the 2016 Presidential election had similar impacts upon Democratic voters.

Regardless of where people stand on the issue of the 2016 and 2020 federal elections, in South Dakota there is bipartisan support for cleaning up voter rolls, and not having more than one precinct voting at any given polling place after the hiccups that occurred during the 2022 primary. Due in part to redistricting, the issues that occurred across the state during the last primary have resulted in trans-partisan unity and a recognized need for election integrity.

Help Support The Dakota Leader... DONATE TODAY!

--Breeauna Sagdal- Editor At Large

Post Date: 2022-08-09 11:11:32Last Update: 2022-09-07 10:19:12


An Opinion Editorial From Pierre

On July 18th, Governor Noem announced that South Dakota finished fiscal year 2022 with a surplus of $115.5 million, while claiming that “South Dakota operates conservatively.”

With $422.6 million of state reserves and the last four years of surplus being spent on pet projects, this is just simply over taxation of South Dakota citizens, it’s not being conservative or frugal.

Even with this excess, we must ask why many in the 2022 legislature refused to pass a food tax repeal, a sales tax reduction or even a gas tax holiday bill? By killing any proposed tax breaks like, Senate Bill 117 a bill to "revise the gross receipts tax on certain food," we missed the opportunity to save South Dakotans between $82 and $103 million dollars, when they needed it most.

HB 1327C is another prime example that would have reduced all sales tax by a half-cent, which is actually required by state law SDCL 10-64-9. Current law, as written in SDCL 10-64-9 states "the additional net revenue from such obligation shall be used to reduce the rate of certain taxes."[emphasis added]

Passing HB 1327C would have satisfied current state law, and saved the taxpayers $147 million dollars. Even if we had only reduced the sales tax by just a quarter-cent, we could have still saved taxpayers $74 million dollars, while still leaving a surplus of $41 million dollars at the end of fiscal year 2022.

In addition, a gas tax holiday was proposed for the three months of tourist season, that would have given a break on gas taxes of $54 million dollars, lowering the price at the pump for South Dakotans. Again, that bill never made it off the House floor.

Even worse,
Governor Noem stated on July 22, 2022,

“While this surplus may lead individuals to call for a reduction in our state’s tax structure. I offer a word of caution. We must be prepared to weather any economic storm that may come our way.”

Even if that were true, just last year, Governor Noem’s legislative allies killed
HB 1255. HB 1255 was brought forward, and authored by committee members on Appropriations as a ‘rainy day’ fund. Even though the state was being flooded with federal money at that time, this was an attempt at responsible, and long-term economic storm preparation for the state, that would have simultaneously provided South Dakotans the same luxury.

Instead of preparation, that proposed $200 million dollars in HB 1255 was spent as one-time monies instead of being saved. The reason given, according to the Assistant Majority Leader, “we can’t give future legislators more money than they need.” Which roughly translates to, "we can't give South Dakotans back, more money than they need," as evidenced by hoarding $422.6 million dollars of your money, rather than settling for the ample sum of $200 million.



Even if South Dakota's economy is better than the rest of the country, we still have the lowest wages nationally, while also dealing with inflation and supply-chain issues, like everyone else. That is what I would call an "economic storm."

The state needs to tighten its belt on spending and learn to live within its means. Especially when those who pay the bills are already strapped tight, with soaring housing prices and the Biden administration’s disastrous economic policies. South Dakotans know how to tighten their belt, and we have, but now it’s time that the bureaucrats in Pierre do the same.

It's time to stop over taxing the citizens of South Dakota! For this reason, I stand firmly with The South Dakota Freedom Caucus in urging our colleagues to provide fiscally-responsible tax relief to the people of South Dakota. Be it federal or state taxes, this money belongs to the people, and it's time to give it back!

Rep. Tina L. Mulally

Help Support The Dakota Leader... DONATE TODAY!

--Rep. Tina L. Mulally

Post Date: 2022-08-08 08:22:19Last Update: 2022-08-06 11:11:32


Read More Articles