Posts Tagged ‘Sioux Falls’

South Dakota Counter-Protests Westboro Hatemongers

Posted: Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 9:38 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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It’s a cold and gray November day in Sioux Falls, but dozens of real South Dakotans are on the scene to protest the handful of whackos from Fred Phelps’s “church” who’ve come to tell us we’re all going to hell because we’re not as pious (or obnoxious) as they are. Thea Miller Ryan submits this photo via Twitpic from outside First Congregational Church in Sioux Falls:

photo credit: Thea Miller Ryan, Sioux Falls, Twitpic, 2010.11.21

Remember, kids: we only win with love. Keep showing the love. Someone bring those good people some hot chocolate… and hey, maybe even offer some to our guests from Kansas.

Sham PAC, Fake Flyer Boost Haggar

Posted: Friday, November 5, 2010 at 7:28 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Congresswoman-Elect Kristi Noem wasn’t the only South Dakota Republican lying her way to victory with deceptive mailings. District 15 Representative-Elect Jenna Haggar, a Republican masquerading as an Independent, enjoyed a bump Tuesday from a last-minute lie from her friends in the Unruh-abstinence camp.

As documented by Mr. Powers on Monday, the “District 15 PAC” sent out a flyer “endorsing” incumbent Democratic Representative Martha Vanderlinde. I’ve been tuning out Mr. Powers’s propaganda too often lately. Had I paid attention, I’d have noticed the following statements on this flyer:

  1. “We are proud that Martha is among the most liberal-left politicians in Pierre.”
  2. “Celebrated the passage of Obamacare”
  3. “Proudly assisted a 3rd-trimester abortion”
  4. “Supports gay marriage and endorsed by gay/lesbian/transgendered lobbists” [sic]

I also would have noticed the statement of organization for the District 15 PAC, filed four days before the election. PAC chair Christina Espenscheid declared the purpose of the PAC to be “Support Distric [sic] 15 candidates.”

Christina Espenscheid, 2004Christina Espenscheid (left), pictured at International Leadership Conference, Nashville 2004

Espenscheid, Espenscheid… where have I heard that name before?

Two new studies released Tuesday provided evidence that abstinence for youth is “healthy and effective.” The reports for both of these studies were released at the Welfare Research and Evaluation Conference by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), according to Christina Espenscheid, the education program director of the Abstinence Clearinghouse [press release, 2005.06.17].

Ah, Christina Dena Espenscheid, veteran of Leslee Unruh’s Abstinence Clearinghouse, an organization well-accustomed to denying reality. Espenscheid, event and volunteer coordinator for the failed abortion ban campaign in 2006. Espenscheid, paid lobbyist in Pierre for the Abstinence Clearinghouse in 2006, the year before Jenna Haggar did the same job for SD Right to Life. Espenscheid, who went on to coordinate for another failed ballot measure in 2008, Initiated Measure 10, on behalf of the shady “South Dakotans for Clean and Open Government.” (Dang, Pat: I wish your server hadn’t deleted all your great posts on why Espenscheid’s IM 10 was bogus.)

I guess it’s nice that political operative Espenscheid could finally coordinate a campaign that succeeded. It’s too bad that, to help her colleague in abstinence-crusading Jenna Haggar win, Espenscheid stooped to deceit, pretending to be an organization supporting Vanderlinde and mailing out this lie on the eve of the election.

I’ve been told by a mostly reasonable Christian neighbor that Muslim fundamentalists are authorized by the Qu’ran itself to lie to advance their religious and political beliefs. Espenscheid appears to demonstrate that taqiyya works for South Dakota Christians as well.

Mayor Huether: My Ambivalence

Posted: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 6:39 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Mike Huether won the Sioux Falls mayoral race yesterday. After finishing less than a percentage point behind Kermit Staggers in the main election two weeks ago, Huether beat Staggers 57% to 43% on a wave of higher than expected voter turnout (more Sioux Fallsians came out to vote in the runoff than in the first vote—what voter fatigue?). No word yet from Camp Huether on when the new mayor will conduct his first gay wedding ceremony….

I could get excited about Huether’s victory. Sioux Falls friends told me that Huether appreciates the role of the city in supporting the arts and cultural events that make Sioux Falls a relatively attractive place to live, unlike Staggers, whom my friends portrayed as a cultural neanderthal.

Politically, I could look at a Democrat governing the biggest city in South Dakota as a plus. Yes, I know the mayoralty is a non-partisan office, but let’s change out of our Mayberry pants: Mayor-elect Huether will directly govern a fifth of our state’s population in our biggest media market. Having a Democrat in that visible position helps the party and puts one more heavy hitter in the chute for future races. Republicans do the same calculus. Deal with it.

I could also get excited about Huether’s practical repudiation of local Teabagger power. His stunning Epp factor of 2.5 showed that Teabaggers don’t yet have the organizational power to form a winning local majority. Staggers espoused the sort of low-tax, minimal-government positions that should have gotten the Glenn Beck masses excited. So much for “We surround them!” The tricorner hat crowd stands a chance of lucking out against multiple opponents who divide other constituencies, but they can’t win a straight up, mono e mono campaign.

Now I left a few comments on some other blogs (including, which had already deleted its comment before I hit the sack last night) that could have been construed as support for Huether. But I never came out and advocated for Huether… because for all the reasons I might be glad he won, I still can’t trust him. Not yet.

Huether is the kind of politician I wish my Teabagger neighbors could beat. He’s the Sioux Falls version of a Wall Street fat cat, the corporate big shot who buys an election with the fortune he made in South Dakota’s usury industry. Huether comes from First Premier Bank, which has the gall to assert that charging people 79.9% interest wasn’t their choice but something forced on them by credit card reform. Huether comes from an industry that thrives on deceit and wage- and labor-crushing anarcho-capitalist deregulation (see also South Dakota, Russia).

Had I the pleasure of voting in Sioux Falls yesterday, I might have had to think long an hard about where to put my graphite smudge. Kermit Staggers represents a lot of things I disagree with… but so does Mike Huether. I can often trust a Republican political science professor like Staggers (I’m thinking of you, Ken!) more than I can trust a rich corporate Democrat like Huether.

South Dakota’s financial status quo stinks (more on that later). A poli-sci prof arguably has less interest in preserving that status quo than an elite product of that corporate system. Sioux Falls just elected the latter.

That’s why I can’t greet Huether’s victory with three cheers. I hope his practical actions in office will prove me wrong… and will get those potholes filled!

Crazy Talk: Dr. No’s Supporters’ “Illuminati” Attack on Mike Huether

Posted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 9:10 am
By: Todd Epp
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While some Republicans try to smear Sioux Falls mayoral candidate Mike Huether for being–horror of horrors–a Democrat and using Democrats to help him get elected–another group has gone completely cukoo for Cocoa Puffs.  Their charge?  Mike Huether is a member of the “Illuminati” and using “Illuminati” symbols in his campaign, whatever those might be.

We start with Exhibit A, from none other than anti-abortion queen Leslee Unruh from her Facebook page:

And then we proceed to Exhibit B, from a recent commenter on an early post here on the MBS announcing Mike’s run for mayor:

Let me just come right out and say it.  This is the stupidest attack on a candidate in the history of South Dakota elections.  You might not like Mike because you disagree with his vision for the city, that he’s a banker, that he’s a Democrat, that he plays tennis, or that he’s from Yankton.  But a believer in the New World Order and the Jewish Banking Conspiracy and the Trilateral Commission and all that debunked b.s. from America’s past?  That’s just crazy talk.

I hope Dr. No will denounce these supporters and address real concerns facing Sioux Falls.  Or will Kermit Staggers’ first order of business as mayor be to ban all Proctor and Gamble products because they might have the old “man in the moon” logo on them?

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Watch Out Dr. No! The Heat Is On for Sioux Falls Mayor!

Posted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 9:25 pm
By: Todd Epp
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I’m not surprised that Dr. No, Kermit Staggers, was the top vote getter in tonight’s Sioux Falls mayoralprimary.” He’s been running for office for over two decades.  People ought to know who Dr. No is by now.

Based on the earlier polling, I was afraid my buddy Mike Huether was going to be left out and Downtown Vernon Brown would be running against Dr. No in two weeks.

But The Heat turned on the heat in the last few weeks and apparently captured most of the approximately 1/3 of the electorate that was undecided.

The choice facing Sioux Falls voters in two weeks couldn’t be starker.  A career politician who has never been able to build consensus and opposes every single innovation for Sioux Falls (Dr. No) versus a political newcomer who has actually run businesses, managed multi-million dollar budgets, knows how to bring people together, and is still a nice guy (The Heat).

So, Sioux Falls, what will it be? A return to a sleepy, 1953 Sioux Falls with Dr. No as mayor or a look ahead to a prosperous, progressive Sioux Falls in 2023 made possible by The Heat?

I think the choice is obvious.

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Suffering from pothole perspective

Posted: Monday, March 1, 2010 at 12:02 pm
By: Tim Gebhart
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Local news items and letters to the editor over the last few weeks crystallized something for me. Too many of my fellow Sioux Falls residents suffer from pothole perspective. And it’s pernicious.

Every year the prospect of spring is associated with potholes, problems that are perennial and inevitable. Yet while our potholes get patched every year, some say potholes show our tax dollars are misspent and we need to forget about “unnecessary” items. That perspective spends too much time staring at the ground and worrying about the inexorable effect of nature. If people took their eyes off the ground and thought about holes that are preventable, it would greatly enrich the city and its residents.

For example, a significant portion of voters saw an indoor swimming pool as “unnecessary.” As one of the leading opponents recently said, swimming outdoors makes far more sense that swimming in an air-conditioned heated pool in the summer. That’s a pothole perspective. Lifting our eyes off the ground we’d see the indisputable fact that at least half of the year it makes no sense to swim outdoors. Perhaps that might suggest that providing a lifetime recreational opportunity to our residents without the necessity of joining a private gym or going to a motel for a night or weekend might be of benefit. Yes there is an initial outlay but, at the same time, there will be user fees, rental fees and the additional sales tax and other income generated by hosting local, state or regional swim meets.

While weather may be problematic for outdoor pools, the pothole perspective says that when you can’t use the outdoor pools at least there’s plenty of ice for skating or hockey. If anyone wants more indoor ice, it must be private groups who would benefit because the “public” has all the sheets of ice it needs. Seems, though, that the ice rink in the Expo Building on the fairgrounds closed for the season last week for repairs. That means hockey practices must be moved — to Iowa. That means the girl’s state varsity hockey tournament must be moved — to Sioux Center, Iowa. Yes, it would cost local government money to help build and maintain an ice facility. At the same time, even if all you worry about is economics, there are again user fees, rental fees and the like. Not only is that money going to Iowa, the sales tax and revenue from various tournaments is heading to that state also, along with Rapid City, Huron or Brookings. Does the state’s largest city really want to provide less recreational opportunity to their residents than those other communities?

Yet naysayers aren’t the only ones affected by a pothole perspective. Mainline pothole visionaries say there’s no need for an events center because we’ve already got the Arena. Borderline pothole visionaries say the lack of an events center is a cultural and economic pothole and the way to fix it is to allow cities to levy an additional sales tax. Yet when the several-ton truck known as the Legislature says the city can’t have its preferred patching material, there’s no Plan B. Now while opponents are complaining about real and imaginary potholes, supporters stare at the events center pothole and complain. Meanwhile, the cultural and economic potholes get deeper and wider and the city is outclassed by other cities in the region and state.

This pothole fixation keeps far too many from seeing the growing gaps and fissures in our culture and recreation and our revenue sources. I’m not saying local government is solely responsible to fix those gaps or to fully fund these and other facilities in Sioux Falls. There needs to be public-private partnerships and private investment to get such facilities built and help make them as self-sustaining as possible. But simply staring at a pothole doesn’t fix it.

Thinking the inescapable pothole plague is more important than our future quality of life truly is staring at the ground. Anyone who tries to move forward while fixated on the ground takes great risk. Unfortunately, a pothole perspective that seems almost endemic is bringing Sioux Falls far too close to falling off a cliff.

Lardapalooza: We MUST Drop A 50 Pound Cube Of Snow Cap Lard Off A Six Story Tower!

Posted: Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 9:03 pm
By: Todd Epp
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Everyone needs an obsession.

Galahad had his Grail.   Ahab had his whale.  Willard had his Kurtz.  And I have my lard.

Not just any lard.  A fifty pound cube of John Morrell Snow Cap Lard.  And I want to toss it off a six story tower ala David Letterman in his prime and then watch the whole mess go SPLAT!

I find it strangely comforting that there is such a thing as a 50 pound cube of lard.  And even more comforting and exceedingly cool if I could watch it explode in slow motion when it hits the ground.

I am calling the event “Lardapalooza.”

I am seriously planning to make this work.  I have John Morrell employees, a scientist, a radio broadcaster, a former journalist, a fire fighter, a fund raising consultant, a makeup artist and several others who are joining me in my quest for splatter.

Or rather, OUR quest for splatter.

When I told my wife I had a new obsession, she didn’t guess it was this.  But she did add that I should turn it into a fundraiser so some good comes from so much silliness and stupidity.  Kind of like the non-falling of the Zip Feed Tower in Sioux Falls a few years ago.

We can sell chances to drop massive cubes of lard, t-shirts, buttons, and all sort of junk then donate the proceeds to worthy community groups.

This HAS to be done.  Will you join me?  I’ve included my artist’s concept of what the event will look like.

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Ask Not For Whom The Hog Squeals; It Squeals For Thee, Sioux Falls

Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 11:47 pm
By: Todd Epp
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John Morrell meat packing plant in Sioux Falls...

Thursday’s Sioux Falls Argus Leader divines that the closure of the John Morrell hog plant in Sioux City will be good for Sioux Falls and its own, even far older “The Jungle” era plant.

The Sioux Falls plant stands to benefit not only by remaining operational, but also by using its capacity to absorb some of the hogs processed in Sioux City. Those hogs also will be handled by Smithfield’s Farmland plants in Denison, Iowa, and Crete, Neb. This partial transfer will not result in additional jobs, however.

In a statement, the company said it “will honor all production contracts at Sioux City, and that Smithfield has no further plans for plant closures in the foreseeable future.”

john morrell hardwood smoked 12 oz

Sure thing Sioux Falls, Go ahead and believe a bunch of heartless hog butchers who until a few months ago were leading Sioux City leaders on about possibly moving their Sioux City and Sioux Falls operations to a site near Sioux Gateway Airport.

How soon we forget, Sioux Falls.

South Dakota spilled actual blood to get John Morrell’s recalcitrant owners in 1993 to keep the Sioux Falls plant open and modernize it.  Governor George S. Mickelson and seven other state officials and business leader lost their lives, ironically, in a plane crash in Iowa while flying back from Cincinnati, Ohio.  The group had just met with Chaquita Brands, the then owner of John Morrell.

E-Z- Serve Liver Loaf, John Morrell & Co. .

Does anyone really believe anything Smithfield says?  They say and do anything to keep the hog line moving and their employees in check. They don’t have the reputation of a Microsoft or a Target or many other public spirited corporations that believe in investing in their people and their communities.

Smithfield is in the money extracting business.  They mine hogs and unskilled laborers.

Sioux Falls has just seen its older brother, Sioux City, lose a limb to Smithfieldosis.  Sioux Falls is relieved it wasn’t the brother that lost the limb and is now suffering from denial.

Sioux Falls has much the same genetic matter as Sioux City.  And an even older plant.

Ask not for whom the hog squeals; it squeals for thee, Sioux Falls.

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My Monday Mosque Meal

Posted: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 12:14 pm
By: Todd Epp
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Monday I had lunch at the Islamic Center of Sioux Falls, one of two mosques in the city.

A client of mine what me to have lunch with some of the members, tour the mosque, have lunch, then observe a call to prayer.

I have been to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, but more as a tourist.  And in visits to Palestine, Syria, and Jordan, I’ve seen a lot of mosques.

Dome of the RockImage by loremipsum via Flickr

I joined my friend Mohammed, from Palestine, and his friend, also named Mohammed, from Libya, as well as my client Abdul from Libya and several other gentlemen for a wonderful lunch of chaukba soup (a Libyan vegetable lamb soup that was exquisite), upside down platter (lamb, rice, and vegetables served together on a huge platter), salad, and sweet, honey drenched Middle Eastern cakes.

As soon as my dish or bowl was empty, someone would fill it up again.  I love Arab hospitality!

I learned that the mosque has separate entrances for men and women and they worship in separate rooms  Mohammed from Libya, an electrical engineer and one of the founders of the mosque, told me that when Muslims pray, they believe there should be no distractions.  And being with the opposite sex can be a distraction or you’re trying to impress them.  And in many Muslim cultures, men and women are very shy around each other.

In the men’s worship area, diagonal lines on the floor indicate where Mecca is and to provide for an orderly way to line everyone up when the 40′ by 40′ room is full of worshippers.

Interestingly, while most American equate Arab with Muslim, in their mosque, the majority of members are from Bosnia and East Africa.  In fact, the imam or minister is from Ethiopia.

I stayed for noon-time prayers, which I observed, with permission, from the back of the prayer hall.  It was conducted in Arabic (I probably know about eight words in the language) but found the prayers, kneeling, supplicating, and standing very peaceful.

Afterward, we talked about how the mosque gets along with the neighbors in this older Sioux Falls neighborhood (very well), how the mosque was first a church then a Jaycee’s club, plans for a new, larger mosque (all it takes is money), and a little bit about Rumi, the Sufi Islamic writer and mystic who, I discovered, is controversial within Islam (and one of my favorite writers.)

Mohammed from Libya asked what religion I was and I said Buddhist.  He joked that for some reason, many Americans who turn to Buddhism later turn to Islam.  We laughed and he gave me a Qur’an and said it was not recruiting but that it was a great book that everyone should read.  He did invite me back for a Friday service, which is like their Sunday church service.

Other lawyers and judges visit on occasion as do church groups, Sunday school, and college classes.  Mohammed from Libya said that one of the greatest attributes of American is their curiosity about others.

It was a lovely meal and a wonderful time together with interesting and caring people.

What’s Up With CAP’s Sioux Falls Composite Squadron This December?

Posted: Friday, December 11, 2009 at 10:33 am
By: Todd Epp
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December 12, 2009 (11 a.m. to Noon)—Wreaths Across America: The Sioux Falls Composite Squadron’s Color Guard will participate at this event at Hills of Rest Cemetery along with members of the military and veteran service organizations. They will lay wreaths on veterans’ graves. This is part of a national activity and is a very moving and visual ceremony. Location: 300 North Chapel Hill Road at the mausoleum. More Information: Click and

The Civil Air Patrol corporate seal is control...
Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

December 12, 2009 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)—Photography SAREX:
A “SAREX” is military shorthand for “Search And Rescue EXercise.” Aerial photography and processing those images so they are suitable for use by the U.S. Air Force and local, state, tribal, and the federal governments is an important part of the CAP’s mission. CAP photos missions have included flooding in the Dakotas and showing where new radio and cell phone towers might conflict with the flight paths of the S.D. Air National Guard’s 114th Fighter Wing’s F-16s. The Sioux Falls Composite Squadron will host the South Dakota Wing’s training on aerial photography and the use of various imaging software to process those photos. The S.D. Wing is one of the test sites in the North Central Region for ARGUS geologgers and data processing. Location: SFCS HQ, 3401 Aviation Ave.

December 13, 2009 (6-9 p.m.)—SFCS Christmas Party:
Senior Members, Cadets, and their families celebrate the holidays. Location: S.D. Air National Guard NCO Club.

December 18, 2009 (5-5:30 p.m.)–We’re on the radio!:
After their successful appearance December 6th on Inside KELOLAND, Deputy Commander 1Lt. Jerry Foy and Cadet Commander C/2Lt. Kendra Lauer will appear on KSOO-AM’s VPU with Ruth and Rick to talk about CAP and the SFCS. If you’d like to book Jerry, Kendra or other members of the SFCS for your public affairs or talk show, contact Capt. Todd Epp at 605.351.5021 or at

All Month–68th Anniversary of the Founding of the CAP:
The Civil Air Patrol was founded just days before the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 1, 1941.

All Month—Newly Revamped SFCS Website:
The squadron website at is newly revamped with lots of active content. Check it out!

Promotions and Assignments—Cadets: Mark Huntington,
promoted to Cadet Second Lieutenant; Zachary Erickson, promoted to Cadet Senior Airman; and Katie Dwire, promoted to Cadet Airman.

Other Awards—Cadets:
The SFCS had sevenCadets earn their Rocketry Badge and Patch, the most in recent Squadron history. The Cadets earned their badges by learning about rockets and then making and launching a progressively more complicated series of launch vehicles. Cadets earning their Rocketry Badge and Patch, which they can wear on their uniforms include: Mark Huntington, Sam Huntington, Seth Huntington, Kendra Lauer, Eric Menholt, Christopher Madsen, and Jacob Thom.

December 17, 2009 (6:45-9 p.m.)—
SFCS meets most Thursdays at 6:45 p.m. at Landmark Aviation’s Hangar 2 at 3401 Aviation Avenue just north of Joe Foss Field. Visitors are welcome. No meetings on December 24 and December 31, 2009.

The Civil Air Patrol is a Congressionally chartered private, non-profit corporation that is the auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. Its primary missions are emergency services, cadet programs and aerospace education. There are approximately 350 cadets and senior members in the S.D. Wing and 85 members in the SFCS. For more information about the SFCS or CAP, browse,, or

Citizens Serving Communities Above And Beyond

For more information contact: Capt. Todd Epp, 605.351.5021 or via email.

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