Reflections On A Watchdog

Posted: Friday, November 4, 2011 at 7:52 am
By: Doug Lund
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I know of some writers who, when they get stumped for something to say, just start banging away on the keyboard until something worthwhile eventually pops up on the screen. I have been facing that dilemma all week; a self-imposed deadline has come and gone without a subject or topic to share with you good folks. Oh, I could put in my two cents worth on the Events Center vote next Tuesday but I’ve already done that in past posts and don’t want to run the risk of becoming Sioux Falls’ next Al Brown.

Al who? You say.

15_1216Well, Al was an outspoken community watchdog who kept very close tabs on the city’s purse strings and when he figured those in charge were squandering our tax money on unnecessary projects, he’d make his feelings known to them in person or through the media..especially the Argus Leader where his letters to the editor became legendary. Sadly, his public tirades against excessive spending became so familiar that after a while, few…  other than really hard core conservatives.. paid much attention or took him seriously. Eventually, we heard less and less from Al Brown and he slipped into obscurity perhaps passing the torch of frugality to former city council member, Kermit Staggers, who was dubbed by many as “Dr. No” because he regularly stood in solo opposition to what he considered to be extravagant spending on frills.

I got curious about what happened to Al Brown so I Googled him and discovered that he passed away five years ago at the age of 85. I also learned that he was a World War II veteran who served aboard a submarine in the Pacific Theater which must have been incredibly challenging and confining to a Sioux Falls kid who loved the wide open spaces and whose achievements in Washington High School track and field as well as on the softball diamonds are well documented. After his discharge from the Navy, Al returned home to complete a 40 career with John Morrell..back when employees of that company were the envy of most working stiffs in town.

I first got to know Al Brown through a community watchdog group he and radio station owner and Norwegian humorist extraordinaire, Red Stangland, formed called TACCO.  For the life of me I can’t recall what the letters stand for but I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with Mexican food.

Some will say Al was an anti progressive nut job who did everything within his power to hold the city back.

 I’m not so sure.

Perhaps we need people like Al Brown and Kermit Staggers if for no other reason than to keep reminding community leaders that it’s OUR money they’re playing with and maybe..just maybe..we should think twice about blowing so much of it on things we really don’t need and can’t afford.

But I don’t want to be that guy; don’t have the stomach for it.

All I’ll say here is that Linda and I will be at the polls to vote on Tuesday and hope you’ll do the same.

Oh, and thanks to the veterans like Al Brown who fought to preserve our right to do so.


  1. Marlys says:

    I remember Al Brown. I don’t live in Sioux Falls anymore but enjoy reading/hearing about city/county government news. I haven’t attended a concert for many years. I don’t want to travel out of state to attend one. Since the citizens of Sioux Falls don’t want big concerts & events then I won’t for sure be attending any in Sioux Falls. If now is not the right time. When is the right time? Sioux Falls has been debating this for so long that the time to do it has probably passed.

  2. LeAnn says:

    Our econemy is in the worst shape in my life time. There are so many things that we NEED and there are things that we WANT… WE NEED TO GET OUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT!!

  3. JD says:

    Doug – You mentioned Red Stangland. Does he have a Brookings connection?

  4. Per Pål P says:

    JD….Yes….at one time, Red was a co-owner of KBRK Radio in Brookings….and his nephew Wally was one of the sales people. Red was one of the greatest promoters of ALL TIME… What a super guy..
    Red, Bob Reimers and Gene Platek were owners of KBRK….Red sold out to Gene and Bob and then headed to Sheldon, Iowa…. Per Pål

  5. Mark Millage says:

    TACCO was “Taxpayers Against the Convention Center Obligation”. Given the make up of the group, I always thought an acronym like LEFSE for have been more fitting! Enjoy your blogs, Doug.

  6. Michael says:

    If the nay-sayers had their way, Sioux Falls would be nothing but gravel roads and pole barns. Thankfully, there were enough Sioux Falls voters with the vision to see all the benefits that will result from building the event center. My only question is why it will take two years to build. Most NFL stadiums don’t take that long.

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