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My two cents on the JAIL vote

My initial reaction to the election results? KELO might want to think about evaluating what polling firm it uses. (For what it’s worth, a quick review shows its also missed on the outcome of both the “gay marriage amendment” and the property tax initiative, with the error on the latter being almost as large as the error on the final results on JAIL. In contrast, the Watertown Public Opinion’s totally unscientific straw ballot was almost identical to the actual JAIL results.)

I certainly hoped JAIL would be rejected. The final result, though, reflects why I think many of us stay here. While my liberal political views do, in fact, leave me vastly outnumbered, I credit my fellow South Dakotans with their ability to recognize true lunacy. The last thing South Dakotans want or need is some out-of-state kooks hooking up with a few local extremists to turn the South Dakota Constitution into their test rat. That is fully evidenced by yesterday’s vote.

As expected, we read in the paper today South Dakota JAILer-in-chief Bill Stegmeier said there might be voter fraud. BS and crew have been laying the groundwork for that approach for a while now and the drumbeats have been louder the last few days. I actually hope they challenge the election. It will be yet more proof to the voters of JAIL’s utter lack of credibility, that campaign’s disrespect for voters and democracy, and one more opportunity to hopefully stick another nail in its coffin. Yet there are things to be learned from the election.

First and foremost, the judiciary needs to recognize there is a level of public uneasiness if not outright distrust. It needs to strive toward achieving more transparency. Education and openness are keys to helping kill viruses like JAIL.

Likewise, the judiciary and those of us who opposed JAIL can’t just ignore those voters who cast ballots for JAIL out of a sincere and true belief that change may be necessary. Anyone who thinks the system is infallible is either nuts or lying. I encourage those with concerns about openness or judicial oversight to not let the lunatic fringe sacrifice those issues on the JAIL altar of anti-government hatred. Have problems with the Judicial Qualifications Commission, its membership or how it operates? Don’t think there’s enough information to enable fully informed votes in judicial elections? Talk to your state legislators, the governor and the court system about ideas to improve the shortcomings you see. Believe a judge or attorney has acted improperly? File a complaint. In other words, use the system to improve the system. Don’t simply try to decimate it.

By the same token, JAIL opponents cannot shut the door on critics of judicial and political accountability. Politicians and the judiciary not only need to be open and responsive to legitimate concerns, they need to stand ready to work with critics to address deficiencies. There was plenty of unity in working to defeat JAIL. We need to stress working together with them to help improve our judiciary, our court system and our government. The citizens of South Dakota deserve no less.

What role did my this blog and my participation in the No on E blog play in the defeat of JAIL? Little or none. This blog is an extremely insignificant speck in the blogosphere and an even smaller mote in the eye of the internet. I would wager 99 percent of those who voted Tuesday never heard of this blog or the No on E blog, let alone visited them. I would be surprised if it swayed more than a handful of voters, if that.

Still, the fact BS and Bonnie “Shriek” Russell spent so much time focusing on and obsessing about blogs, the less time they spent on the things that matter to a campaign. Likewise, the more time they spent trying to respond to our documentation of their continuing misrepresentations and often manic “strategies,” the less time they had to come up with new ones. I will admit, though, that I was a bit concerned near the end that this might backfire, given the fact BS and crew often tended to be the best spokesmen against JAIL that you could want.

I would like to thank PP for inviting me to participate on the No on E blog. In case you haven’t figured it out from our personal blogs, PP and I probably don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things. I think that reinforced the lunacy of JAIL and helped our credibility on both sides of the political aisle.

A final note to the JAIL conspiracy theorists who are undoubtedly convinced my blogging on JAIL is part of some grand overarching plot. I began blogging about the lunacy of JAIL before there was a No on E committee. I contributed to but played no role in the No on E committee or any of its decisions. In fact, I’ve met Bob Miller, the committee’s treasurer, once in my life. PP set up the No on E blog, then asked me to participate. No one at the State Bar, the No on E Committee or even my law firm knew beforehand of my participation in that blog or intent to continue blogging on JAIL and, as far as I know, learned of the No on E blog only when it launched.

In fact, PP and I have never met. I wouldn’t know him if we were in the same waiting room or if he passed me on the street. We have talked on the phone twice — once when NPR was trying to set up interviews and then during the joint interview with Nina Totenberg. That said, regardless of our divergent political views, I have nothing but respect for PP as a result of this experience. I wish he and his family only the best in the future. Thanks, PP, for allowing me to be part of the No on E blog fun.

This blog will now hopefully resume normal programming. To ease the transition a bit, the first book review forthcoming is on a political work. To those who visited only because of JAIL, thanks for dropping by and I hope you’ll stay tuned in. If not, I am more than happy for this blog speck to go back to virtually anything but politics.


Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

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1 comment to My two cents on the JAIL vote

  • Anonymous

    Tim, it’s nice to see that you’re not a total moron, your personal attacks on people really made me think of you as a weenie, however, I’m glad that you acknowledged those voters for Amendment E and the general distrust people have for the judiciary. Maybe now the legislature will take the hint and do something about it. On another note, thank God it’s finally over. It’s been interisting.
    A local Extremist