South Dakota Legislative Reporter explains why they are quitting (Pierre)

While there are many fine points in Dana’s editorial, none of it surprises me one bit. When I started doing editorial cartoons in 2006 the legislature was a very easy target. And while some may argue that target has gotten easier over the years, I just think in Pierre it depends on which way the wind is blowing. Take the transgender bathroom issue;

I just couldn’t take the crazy any longer. I couldn’t take the effort wasted on legislation that’s designed to bully and hurt.

I have always looked at this issue in two ways, 1) Someone’s sexual identity is not your G—— F—— Business and 2) who does it affect? Is this an issue in South Dakota? Are biological boys identifying as girls storming bathrooms and high school gyms across the state? In fact when some journalists and other legislators have asked this question nobody can actually identify more than a handful of transgender youth in our state and only 1 or 2 have made an issue about sports.

It goes along with this argument;

Each year the largely Republican Legislature seems to have its priorities in the wrong place. Bills that pick on the transgendered pass easily while last year members of the GOP said, “There’s nothing to see here” as they killed bills that would have shed light on state airplane usage and the governor’s security costs.

They really don’t want to take on the ‘REAL ISSUES’ this has not changed in the 16 years I have been watching the circus called the legislative session. All and any real reform has come thru the initiative/referendum process which now they are trying to kill in the courts and their own ballot measures. And they are becoming successful.

Often, when lawmakers want to make it safe for the rest of us to go to the bathroom or make abortions impossible to get or guns easier to get, they are getting their marching orders from outside the state.

Which also baffles me. If you do google searches on these three issues, while the poll numbers fluctuate, none drop below 50% (These are nationwide averages based on several polls);

• Support keeping Abortion Legal and Safe: 60% Support

• Federal legalization of Adult use recreational cannabis: 60% Support

• Stricter gun laws and other gun control measures: 53% Support

I kind of scratch my head when the peeps in Pierre act like South Dakota is some island when it comes to how the rest of the country thinks (even though over HALF of our funding comes from Federal taxpayers), I would remind you that when it comes to legal abortion and Rec MJ, voters have supported it in this state.

In journalism circles in South Dakota, we often bemoan the fact that there are fewer and fewer reporters writing about the Legislature. Now there’s one less and I feel bad about that. But not bad enough to force myself back into the press box and try to write objectively about legislation and resolutions that I know are by turns silly, symbolic, wrong-headed and cruel.

. . . and don’t forget destructively moronic.

I also see these same wingnuts taking over our city government (they already have) and the next election probably will only exacerbate the problem since many of the candidates running have NO challengers and were hand picked by the Mayor and his minions.

What can we do? I often tell people to spread the truth about the lies and corruption. Tell anyone you know (especially the 10% who vote in city elections about it).

I know it seems I have been kind of quiet about the upcoming city elections, trust me the silence will be broken soon and my spreadsheet of misdeeds on some of the candidates is filling up fast. I encourage others to run, especially in my Central District which has been given a total overhaul and leans pretty left to center. As of right now the incumbent (who has done nothing for the district) has no challengers or anybody on the horizon. This needs to change.


#1 John Kennedy Claussen, Sr., on 01.01.22 at 8:26 pm

When I first began my personal project last year to monitor and testify about the redistricting process of our state legislature over the course of six months and in seven cities, I was voluntarily assured by an old friend during my first visit to Pierre last June, who I had not seen in years, who is now a lobbyist, that the moderate Republicans were planning to get rid of the crazies through this redistricting process.

Now, when I first heard this, I had mix feelings, because, although, I too wanted to get rid of the crazies, I wanted to get rid of the crazy more, and if you get rid of the crazies are you not gerrymandering, and is that right?

Well, the interesting thing is that the final legislative redistricting map, which passed the state Senate and state House and was signed into law by the Governor, was dubbed the Sparrow Plan, but this so called plan was a hybrid of a plan that was initially called the Blackbird Plan.

Now, the original Blackbird Plan was devised by Republican moderates in the state Senate and initially had District 4, State Representative Fred Deutsch’s district – the same state representative who often authors anti-transgender legislation – reconfigured so that his district was not all all rural, and thus more conservative, but so that it also included half of Watertown with the thinking that it would be harder for Deutsch to then be re-elected.

In fact, at the Watertown meeting of the Joint State Senate and State House Committee on Legislative Redistricting, Representative Deutsch argued with the help of others, who testified on his behalf as well, of the need to maintain the current boundaries for Legislative District 4, or at least its rural qualities, and to not split up Watertown, a more urban vote, to influence the potentially new Legislative District 4 that Deutsch resided in.

Now, the great irony here is that I heard moderate Republicans at this Watertown meeting no longer embracing the idea of respecting urban and rural districts, but rather supporting the joining of the two, urban and rural, or having Watertown split-up and thus influencing two other rural districts, to create a legislative district that might then silence a rural, or in this case, a suggested crazy voice, or the politics of one who is anti-transgender like State Rep. Deutsch.

But let us now speed forward and ask what happen. Well, what happen is that the the final map, which was approved, the “Blackbird/Sparrow Plan”, passed the state Senate easily, but then passed in the state House 37 to 31.

Now, who were these 37 who said: “Yea”? Well, they were all seven Democrats who were present in the state House at the time and 30 Republicans. And one of those Republicans was State Rep. Deutsch, who found that in the final map, the Sparrow map, that his old legislative district was actually preserved in a rural sense, thus preserving his political survivability. Yes, it was the moderate Republicans and all of the Democrats who preserved the voice of the most anti-transgender politician in Pierre with the help of apparent political dealmaking. So, when we talk about reporting and Pierre, and crazies and crazy bills, we need to ask us ourselves why weren’t these facts, which I have just presented, ever reported on and why did the Democrats vote to save, intentionally or not, a state representative who is anti-transgender?

Apparently, reporting on or identifying the crazies is not as easy as one would think. In some ways, it is in the eye of the beholder. But what do you call moderates and liberals who allow a “crazy” to slip through, merely a product of the making of legislative sausage, or should we say gerrymandering, or more importantly are they a part of the problem, too? And with one less reporter now in Pierre, will it really matter if the reporting appears to be, especially with the transgender issue, more about the result than the cause of the issue, or better yet the initial true problem makers?

#2 "Woodstock" on 01.01.22 at 8:45 pm

“I would just like to wish everyone a Happy New Year!”…. “It should be quite a new year with a chicken sandwich getting re-elected with 73% of the vote, the Republicans regaining control of the US House and Senate, Biden beginning to rely totally on executive orders to get anything done, and with the Republicans positioning themselves to re-open the Benghazi investigation”…. “But the real good news for ’22 is that Taco Bell is bring back the Mexican Pizza in April and Dua is currently working on a third album for the new year”…. #DuaDua!

#3 LJL on 01.01.22 at 10:54 pm

She’s clearly not a journalist if she cannot report what’s going on without her opinion.

She needs to learn the difference between journalist and op-ed contributor, which could be said of most “reporters” today.

10 channels of 24 hour opinion news has ruined the news and those who are suppose to report it.

#4 David Z for Mayor on 01.02.22 at 11:04 am

Expensive elections cause politicians to sell out for campaign contributions and then work to make their sponsors richer. They also distract us with divisive rhetoric so we don’t notice systemic corruption and violations of civil rights. It’s very difficult to see this day by day and report on it regularly. It’s distressing and disgusting. Hopefully we will get honest candidates who care about the people and work for justice. Candidates who want to reduce addiction and crime, who believe in efficient transparent government, and who just plain care.

#5 "Woodstock" on 01.02.22 at 2:15 pm

“I miss the good old days, long before MSNBC, CNN, or FOX, when all we had was Eric Sevareid or David Brinkley to tell us how to think”…. (….”Wait a minute, did I just agree with LJL?”…. )

#6 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 01.02.22 at 2:26 pm

If a taco shop can have a pizza, then why can’t a pizza place have a burger? #BurgerBattle’22! #AMcDonaldsTaco?

#7 Scott D Hudson on 01.02.22 at 8:14 pm

Hey Fear, speaking of the #burgerbattle’22 I saw an argus tweet last week that claimed last year’s burger battle was the talk of the town, and you couldn’t escape conversations about it on FB.

Weirdly I never heard ANYBODY talking about it, unless they were rolling their eyes over the idiocy of it.

#8 l3wis on 01.02.22 at 8:31 pm

Here is my biggest ‘Beef’ with the burger battle, no bun intended. While some contestants do combine other meets with their ground beef concoction, I wonder if we should change this to allowing restaurants to create the patty from whatever? For instance I am a huge fan of lamb burgers and black bean burgers. Why should a restaurant have to be BEEF? I think next year they should allow burgers of ANY protein, and keep that rule as PROTEIN. I think it would open up the competition.

#9 Further Fear & Loathing on 01.02.22 at 8:56 pm

It’s the media that talks about the Burger Battle. It’s a fictitious success. It’s like a successful politician whose “accomplishments” are limited to the image that his social media accounts suggest. Gee, who could that be?

#10 Fearing the Fuhrer & More on 01.02.22 at 9:06 pm

What about a pinto bean burger? Speaking of that, what about a horse meat burger? I know the French would like that. It could be served with freedom fries. But why beef? Because this is South Dakota, where beef reigns… (….and the sheep are scared?).

#11 "Workin' at the Car Wash, Yeah!" on 01.02.22 at 9:26 pm

What if we had a bunch of nerds line-up, and then they simultaneously picked their noses? Now, that would be a true booger battle. #SizeMatters

#12 Theocratic Republic of SD on 01.03.22 at 8:00 am

Capitol legislative session reporter quitting writing about nutty legislators and bills distracting from corruption? Nothin to see here folks. The continual dumbing down of Sodaks talking about the Cold snap, football, and other shallow subjects. 2022 Pierre Circus begins soon. Bring out the clowns.

#13 The Guy From Guernsey on 01.04.22 at 7:27 am

There is certainly merit in that which she has written and which you highlight.
However, the real reason this reporter will discontinue reporting on the legislative session is that there is lacking a commitment from a financial patron to support her work.
Can’t blame her. No one should do for no compensation work which they don’t like.