An intermezzo is an interlude between two major musical pieces. It seems an appropriate title for this post after attending the “town hall meeting” on the Judicial Accountability Initiative Law (J.A.I.L.) in Brandon Saturday afternoon. Instead of giving a full report on it, this post will just give an overview and an indication of what will be forthcoming here as a result of that meeting.
Not counting the “panelists” there were about 16 people there, counting me and a person I think was the reporter from the Brandon Valley Challenger. State Sen. Gene Abdallah (R-Sioux Falls), State Rep. Roger Hunt (R-Brandon) and State Sen. Clarence Kooistra (R-Garretson) attended for the “opposition.” Bill Stegmeier was there along with an individual who did not say anything and was not introduced until the very end. It was Jake Hanes, who said he was there for “moral support.”
Although very few people actually asked questions, I would say at least a dozen of those in attendance were people who evidently had been contacted by e-mail about the meeting. It seemed pretty clear that, for the most part, Stegmeier was preaching to the choir and the opposition was talking to a wall. If the goal was to educate the public, I don’t believe it was met just based on how many attended and who. On the “pro” side, most of the questions (and debate) came from Gene Lodermeier, who was there to talk about how he believes he was wrongfully convicted and the system won’t do anything about it.
Lodermeier and Stegmeier accused the legislators of violating the law by unanimously passing a resolution opposing J.A.I.L. Stegmeier specifically accused the Legislature of violating SDCL 12-13-16, which says:
Any person knowingly printing, publishing, or delivering to any voter of this state a document containing any purported constitutional amendment . . . to be submitted to the voters at any election, in which such constitutional amendment . . . is misstated, erroneously printed, or by which false or misleading information is given to the voters, is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Why is this interesting? Because, in addition to water, coffee and cookies, the J.A.I.L.ers also made available a brochure I had not seen before. That brochure will not only give rise to additional installments in the “J.A.I.L. Lies” series (demonstrating how the brochure violates the law Stegmeier cited) but at least an additional post in the “J.A.I.L. Shell Game” series and further posts examining — using J.A.I.L.’s own words — the ramifications of the amendment.
The peculiar office of a demagogue is to advance his own interests, by affecting a deep devotion to the interests of the people.
James Fenimore Cooper, The American Democrat