Mar 19

Mayor whacks board that resisted giving money to indoor tennis facility

A Sioux Falls board that oversees more than $1.6 million in revenue will see a dramatic change in membership after Mayor Mike Huether declined to reappoint six of its nine members.

The Sioux Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau Business Improvement District oversees a $2 per night hotel fee that is used to promote Sioux Falls and bring visitors to the city. The City Council created the board in 2010 after hotel owners petitioned for its creation. The mayor appoints its members, which include hotel and industry representatives.

The board generated controversy last year when emails revealed that the mayor’s wife, Cindy Huether, was trying to find out if, legally, the Community Indoor Tennis Center, of which she’s a board member, could access BID money in its push for a new indoor tennis facility. Most BID board members and the founders of the BID argued the money could only be used to promote the city, and not for capital projects that included a new tennis facility.

But in an email obtained by the Argus Leader, Cindy Huether told members of the Community Indoor Tennis Center that: “I know three BID Board members that would be totally in favor of using money for these types of projects.”

The three members reappointed to the board were: Lee Howell, Shailesh Patel and Mark Wahlstrom.

Cindy Huether did not immediately reply to an email asking if those were the three BID members she referenced.

Mar 17

Robinson campaign to file signatures

Corinna Robinson, the Democratic Army veteran who is challenging Rep. Kristi Noem, is on her way to Pierre to file the signatures necessary to make the ballot, according to her manager, Tom Katus.

"We need 1,250. We’re over 1,500," Katus said.

If that 1,500 number appears a little too close for comfort — inevitably some signatures are thrown out — Katus said the campaign has a “backup” plan to get more signature.

Robinson was in Sioux Falls over the weekend, where she attended a fundraiser and the St. Patrick’s Day parade. The West River native is scheduled to be back in the state’s largest city later this week.

Mar 08

Walmart comes to a mailbox near you. 

As far as direct mail pieces go, this one is good. It uses a faux quiz to press the concept that Walmart will generate more taxes, jobs and that Walmart is a good corporate citizen with charitable giving.

This was an expensive mailer. That $250,000 Walmart put into the campaign for Referred Law Four is being used.

Walmart comes to a mailbox near you.

As far as direct mail pieces go, this one is good. It uses a faux quiz to press the concept that Walmart will generate more taxes, jobs and that Walmart is a good corporate citizen with charitable giving.

This was an expensive mailer. That $250,000 Walmart put into the campaign for Referred Law Four is being used.

Feb 28

Bosworth campaign looking for volunteers; asks the wrong person

In my Sunday story about the Bosworth campaign, you’ll recall that the campaign’s first advertising firm, SSC, says that it is owed more than $20,000 for commercials and graphics it produced. The firm has refused to release several commercials to the campaign until the debt is settled.

The campaign acknowledges the debt on campaign finance filings, but Bosworth said they won’t pay until the firm completes its work.

So there you have the dispute.

SSC’s Douglas Brown is understandably not happy to have received an email from the campaign asking him to “volunteer.” Obviously, it was a mass email sent out to the Bosworth email list.

Hello friends!

My name is Daniel and I am working with the Bosworth Campaign to help spread the good word.

Thank you for registering to volunteer on our campaign website. We are looking for engaged volunteers to help us spread the word about Dr. Bosworth’s  inspiring campaign.

If you are interested in volunteering please respond to this e-mail.

Looking forward to working with you!


Thank you!

Daniel Freeman

Annette Bosworth, MD for U.S. Senate

(605) 838-8797

Here is Brown’s response:


This is my second notice to you!  Please take my name off of your list and do not contact me unless you plan to pay your outstanding debt to SSC.  I personally want nothing to do with the Bosworth Campaign.  

The Bosworth campaign owes my company SSC over 20K for ad work.  To date, we have not received any payment for our work.  The campaign continues to use our images, logo design and intellectual property agains our demands.  

Please remove all images, graphic design and intellectual property from the campaign website.  This include the logo design, photography and any intellectual content provided by SSC to the campaign.

All of this comes as Madville Times reports that DCI is interviewing people about the raffles that were never held, and Dakota War College is reporting about income tax liens filed against Bosworth in Utah.

Feb 27

Heat wave closes ice rinks

The fine people over at the parks and rec department sent out a press release this morning that says the city’s six ice rinks are shutting down for the season on Sunday because of “warm weather.”

Maybe the parks and rec department is vacationing in Palm Springs right now. It’s currently -4 right now, according to my trusty Weather Channel app. It’s going to be really warm tomorrow, at 24. Then Saturday a high of 0, followed by another high of 0 on Sunday, the day the ice rinks close because of warm weather.

Indeed, in the entire 10-day outlook, the high temperature doesn’t break the freezing mark once.

Is it warm weather? Or is it an unwillingness to spend money to keep the ice rinks open?

UPDATE: The city has sent out another press release announcing the season-ending closures. This time the release doesn’t give a reason. Must not have been in the park and rec budget to go beyond the first weekend of March.

Feb 25

A reader responds

Here’s an entertaining email I received last night regarding my Sunday profile of Dr. Annette Bosworth and the financial controversies surrounding her Senate campaign:

My Dear fellow American,

why why why the dirt on Anatte Bosworth? Why the shit slinging, why do you choose her as your target? Are you jealous of her, thats what the article in the Sunday paper reminded me of, shit slinging jealousy. 

You make me want to get drunk, but waite I dont drink anymore, thanks to Dr. Anatte Bosworth!! So I will have to do some thing else to get my mind of of your stupidity.I’m telling you dude pick a different target, cause Anatte has the Good Lord on her side, so you wont get far with your war your trying to start.!! Very Truly Yours,

Feb 24

Wine-by-mail bill moves to House

The long strange trip of Senate Bill 114 continued today as the Senate passed the bill by a 23-11 vote. The bill would establish a license that would enable in-state and out-of-state wineries to mail wine into the state. Currently, South Dakota is one of 10 states that doesn’t permit wine to be delivered by mail.

The bill started out in Senate Commerce and Energy, where it deadlocked on a 3-3 vote on Feb. 11 because Sen. Dan Lederman was not present. So the committee voted 4-2 to send it to the full Senate without a recommendation.

The Senate sent it back to the committee, and with Sen. Lederman back, it appeared that it was doomed. The bill failed 3-4 on a motion to do-pass. That meant it was one motion away from being killed, but Sen. Ryan Maher made a motion to send the bill over to the Appropriations Committee. Maher’s motion passed 4-3.

The bill emerged from Appropriations on a 5-3 vote on Friday.

It’s had an unorthodox journey through the process so far. Now it’s off to the House.

Feb 19

Robocall attacks Rep. Bolin over firearms and the mentally ill

I got a message this morning from a reliable politico who told me he received a robocall this morning attacking Rep. Jim Bolin, a third-term Republican from Canton.

The robocall took issue with Bolin for “standing with Obama” and supporting a measure that would strip gun rights from those deemed mentally ill.

I emailed Bolin to find out what he knew about it. Here’s his response:

I am a co-sponsor of a bill that is supported by the NRA and would have the state report to a federal registry those who are judged by a court to be criminally insane and a potential harm to themselves.  They would then not be able to get a firearm.  Some folks think this is a bad thing and because I am a co-sponsor of the bill, I am being attacked.  The only reason I signed on was because Gosch, Don Kopp and Charlie Hoffman, all big A +++++ guys with the NRA.  That is all I know.

Here’s a link to the bill.

Feb 17

Walmart is not screwing around

If you live in Sioux Falls and you’re registered to vote, you probably got a letter from an organization called Building a Better Sioux Falls Inc. over the weekend The group is supporting a ballot measure to have a new Walmart built at 85th and Minnesota, which is going to be on the April ballot because residents near the site don’t want the Walmart and collected enough signatures to force a vote.

Building a Better Sioux Falls is a ballot question committee. It has reported receiving two donations in its first campaign finance report. One, an unitemized donation of $100. The other comes from Walmart. For $250,000.

That would be a lot of money for a statewide race in South Dakota. I bet the Democratic candidate for governor raises less.

For a citywide race, $250,000 is lavish. It’s going to be huge in what it will buy.

In other words, that mailer that went out last week, that’s going to be the first of many.

I’m guessing Walmart could have won without spending a cent. But this shows that the retailing giant is leaving nothing to chance.

Feb 12

Tim Begalka emerges from Mayberry

During yesterday’s debate on whether South Dakotans should be allowed to order wine by mail, Sen. Tim Begalka had an interesting riff on why he was voting against the measure. Begalka, a Republican from Clear Lake, came across as utterly flabbergasted by recent trips to a couple of liquor stores as he researched the issue.

From Begalka:

“I’ve visited two liquor stores in the last couple of weeks, specifically to see – one in Pierre and one in Huron on my way home. And I was amazed – because I don’t visit liquor stores that often – the hundreds of different brands of wines that are available on the shelf. It was the whole isle, both sides, top to bottom. Hundreds of different varieties of wine.

“I don’t know why in the world anybody would want to order one online and get something else, anyway. I mean, have you tried all those already? I don’t think we need to promote any more wine consumption in South Dakota. I think we have plenty of opportunities already, so I really don’t think this is necessary.”

A couple of observations here. First, Begalka won a controversial Republican primary in 2012 as the Tea Party candidate. The Tea Party is a different animal, depending on where you go. I’ve long maintained that self-identified Tea Party types from South Dakota are interested in limiting government in some areas, and expanding it in other areas. In some places, the Tea Party is more interested in economic issues. Here, many Tea Party advocates focus on social issues.

Begalka is more interested in keeping a government sponsored monopoly in place than he is in expanding the freedom of individuals to buy a bottle of wine.

Now, imagine if the subject was firearms. During recent gun control debates, we’ve heard the same argument Begalka makes to limit wine purchases that gun control supporters make: Why would you need to buy an AR-15 when you can buy a shotgun or another type of rifle?

I wonder how Begalka would feel if there was a proposal to further limit the ability of South Dakotans to purchase firearms on the Internet? After all, you can go down to the local gun shop and choose from hundreds of different firearms. Why would you need to order one?

It’s a reminder that those who preach for limited government aren’t always interested in limited government.