News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Oh, how South Dakota loved the Kremlin

I don't write much about open government these days. What's the point? In a state that admires and cherishes secret deals and covert crimes against honesty and freedom and openness as much as South Dakota does, any discussion of open government is a verbal exercise that has no relationship to the intentions and purposes of the majority. If the people gave a rat's ass, a tinker's dam, or rusty dog turd about openness and honesty in government, they would not elect people to high office time and again who have such sterling records for keeping government closed, secret, and the exclusive province of those who model governance after costa nostra godfathers, not any reputable figure who ever operated in democratic government.

I speak, of course, of Bill Janklow and Mike Rounds. Janklow's regime had secret bank accounts planted throughout the state and refused to let the state treasurer know where they were and how much was in them. The state treasurer was a nice man, but he was not very assertive. He was a pussy in the old, military sense of the word.

When some state officials knew of investigations of what appeared to be shady dealings between state government and business corporations, Bill Janklow got Mike Rounds, then in the legislature, to lead the charge to implement a gag law that would put any state officer in jail who revealed to the public that investigations were going on or that there were reasons for such investigations.

The majority of people in South Dakota like and admire officials who are not afraid to screw over other officials and the people of the state. They think it is an attribute of leadership.

And so they elect people who run the state like Kremlin ran things--secret deals, threats of imprisonment, and nefarious doings in general.

We have secret government because the people like it and want it.

There is no question that in a democracy, people have the right to know every detail of what takes place in government. Some matters that might require secrecy for security reasons might be kept confidential for a time, but eventually the record of the proceedings must be released for public scrutiny.

In Aberdeen a few years back, there was an outcry because the names of people who were transported in the fire department ambulance were published. We are not sure why it is embarrassing to be given emergency transportation in an ambulance when required, but some folks thought it was an invasion of their privacy. So the mayor got the commission (that's what it was then) to pass a rule against publishing the names of people who got rides in the tax-paid ambulance service.

Let us put this in good South Dakotaese, if we can. We ain't got no openness or oversight of government in this state because people just don't like it. So, we get Bill Janklow and Mike Rounds.

You want to live in a real democracy?


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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States