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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Protecting kids from a political party that runs on nothing but malice

A few weeks ago we received a post card from the  South Dakota GOP in behalf of the Al Novstrup campaign that was malicious, dishonest, and utterly debased in its defamation of Novstrup's opponent.  Novstrup is the incumbent senator for South Dakota District 3 running against challenger Cory Heidelberger.. 

Among Cory's many activities is his teaching of math, French, and language arts.  His most recent full-time teaching job was in Spearfish.  When his spouse, a Lutheran pastor, accepted a call to Zion Lutheran Church in Aberdeen, the family moved here.  Cory has been an active presence in civic and political affairs in Aberdeen, and writes and edits the most literate and intelligent political blog in South Dakota, the Dakota Free Press.   He is also on the Aberdeen School District roster of substitute teachers, which can often be full time work.  He has been a debate coach and is a strong advocate for that activity in building informed, critical minds.  He backs up his political beliefs by running for political office as the Democratic candidate for the District 3 seat in the State Senate. 

Novstrup's post card tactic was to make a strident and malicious defamation of Cory's background.  It screamed: PROTECT KIDS NOW! VOTE NO TO CORY HEIDELBERGER ON NOV. 6.”
Its premise is that Heidelberger poses a danger to kids.
It is suggesting that he has been a menace to students in his work and would extend the danger as a state senator.

The postcard is an unmitigated libel clearly intended to damage Heidelberger's reputation.  It attempts to use an incident from Cory's past teaching and amplify into a definitive statement of character.

Cory has been open and honest about the incident cited in the postcard.  When he was a teacher at  Madison High School, he encountered a bullying situation.  He did what a responsible teacher does and accosted the misbehaver.  He used a mild expletive in remonstrating the kid about his behavior.  When the offender tried to walk away from the confrontation about his behavior, Cory grabbed him by the collar to stop him.  The Madison school districted fired Cory.

In recounting the situation, Cory says, "When I found I was not getting through to the bully, instead of trying to play cowboy, I should have called for assistance and escorted the bully to the principal’s office for proper punishment."  Al Novstrup and his GOP goons try to portray Cory as a menace while he was in fact protecting students against some bad behavior on the part of another student.

The Madison High School administration and school board sent a strong message to students and teachers that bad behavior by students is protected and woe be to any teacher who interferes with it.  Cory's response to the situation might have needed some corrective comment, but the Madison administration reacted with incredible stupidity and cowardice.  This kind of action in which a teacher is condemned for trying to deal with a misbehaving student is what Al Novstrup endorses.  Although Novstrup's dishonest representation of the facts of the matter exposes his own malicious character.

When Cory says he should have called for assistance, the question arises, who would he call and how would such a call be made?

Aberdeen had a similar case come up.  When a student acted out during a middle school science class, the teacher grasped him in a bear hug and hauled him out of class.  The teacher was fired, but the teacher and the union took the case to court.  The court ordered the teacher to be reinstated.  The teacher's lawyers brought the testimony of students in the class into court, and they testified that the teacher took the drastic action with the student to prevent him from harming the other students.  The court faulted the administration and the school board for failing to investigate and gather accurate information about the incident and for acting without knowledge of what, in fact, had taken place.

This is the kind of situation that Al Novstrup contorts into a lie about the experience and character of Cory Heidelberger.  In this age of Donald Trump and the constant outpouring of lies and malice coming out of the White House, GOP voters seem to think this is the way political business gets done. GOP operatives in South Dakota were using malice and false accusations before Trump entered politics.  The successful campaigns of John Thune and Kristi Noem were largely devoted to false and deleterious portrayals of their opponents.  Both of those candidates have earned reputations as feckless purveyors of party lines with puny legislative accomplishments.

Al Novstrup's own legislative record shows that he has a peculiar obsession with the sexual orientation of students.  In his claims to be concerned about the welfare of children, he exhibits a menacing desire to inflict punishment on some.  He has been particularly obsessed with where transgender kids may go to the bathroom.  Vote Smart has compiled his legislative record on the matter:

Feb. 22, 2017
Bill Passed - Senate
(22 - 12)
March 8, 2016
Bill Failed - House
(25 - 43)
March 3, 2016
Veto Override Failed - House
(36 - 29)
Feb. 9, 2016
Bill Passed - House
(45 - 23)
Jan. 27, 2016
Bill Passed - House
(58 - 10)
Jan. 26, 2016
Jan. 12, 2016
March 3, 2015
Bill Failed - House
(30 - 37)
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity


His record shows an obsession with how kids may relieve themselves or who may participate in sports, but does not care if the schools have safety plans in place to protect students from active shooters or similar menaces.  

The Novstrup family operates amusement parks for children for its livelihood.  In Aberdeen, their Thunder Road is operated in conjunction with the city's Wylie Park.  Some of us who know of Novstrup's perverse obsession with gender issues and his malicious streak of character in maligning other people simply do not chance exposing children in our charge to it.  

We can eliminate Novstrup's pernicious influence in the State Senate by voting for Cory Heidelberger.  And we can keep our children away from Thunder Road in Wylie Park.  

That is how children can best be protected.


Porter Lansing said...

Had Cory been a member of the teacher's union during the Madison School District's unlawful dismissal, he'd no doubt have been found innocent of any wrong decisions, been fully reinstated and been awarded back pay and possibly punitive damages. Cory's now a member of the teacher's union.

Michelle Kalehzan said...

I have been wondering when someone would ask Al Novstrup whether he had participated on the Aberdeen American News online discussion in and/or around 2004. I was informed by multiple sources at that time that he was participating using one or more alternate screen names. The postings attributed to these screen names were highly offensive and degrading to various individuals and demographic groups. I still have hard copies of these postings. Given Al Novstrup’s letter to the editor which appears in today’s edition of the Aberdeen American News in which he claims to have never been insulting to others, I felt compelled to ask:

Al Novstrup, Did you participate in the Aberdeen American News online discussion
forum in and/or around 2004? Which screen names do you use? Was “Fair” one of them?

This 5th generation South Dakotan from Brown County would like to hear your answer.

Michelle Kalehzan, Ph.D.

caheidelberger said...

Correction, Porter: I'm not a member of a teacher's union. I am also not convinced that, if SDEA rather than I had been paying for my lawyer, the legal outcome would have been any different.

larry kurtz said...

The only prayer atheist Heidelberger has of winning a seat in South Dakota's extremist legislature is the one his pastor wife says to get him the hell out of the house and out of her hair.

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