The following editorial appeared in several So. Dak. periodicals and newspapers in the spring of 1999, including the editorial page of the Rapid City Journal, on 13 March, 1999. No one replied to the Journal with a dispute over the facts.
All events depicted in this account
occurred. Attributed quotations are accurate. I saw and heard all the events narrated below. As we review the events of the 2014 So. Dak. legislative session, we can reflect on the hammer-handed regime of the craziest sumbich ever to have settled his mean, fat, ass in the So. Dak. governor's chair.
by Bob Newland
stormed into town, angry and red-faced. It stomped around the capitol,
terrorizing children and the faint of conviction, and coughing up
kuchen. A month later, it slunk out, humiliated and red-faced. It was...
Senate Bill 210.
Governor Janklow asked the Senate
State Affairs Committee to introduce SB210: "Any person who has been
convicted of possession, use, or distribution of a controlled substance
or marijuana or who has received a suspended imposition of sentence for
such possession, use, or distribution, shall, in addition to any other
penalties, serve thirty days in the state penitentiary, no part of which
may be waived or suspended."
Thirty days in the Pen for a hempseed in your trunk, presuming the court or jury decided you knew it was there.
State Affairs heard testimony from judges and prosecutors that 210
would clog the system. So Senate State Affairs drafted a kinder,
gentler, 210 -- reducing the mandatory minimum from 30 to ten days in
the custody of the Department of Corrections (instead of specifically
the state penitentiary), and allowing judges to depart from the
mandatory ten-day sentence if they filed a written explanation.
Apparently for balance, though, it set a $1000 bounty on the heads of
misdemeanor drug offenders and an open-ended price on felony offenders,
appropriating a million dollars for the snitch fund.
Having undergone group therapy, equipped with an attitude adjustment, 210 went to the Senate floor. The
whole Senate debated SB210, amended it to make the ten days mandatory
for a second offense, removed the $1000 bounty, and sent 210 Lite to the
House State Affairs Committee with a disclaimer written under the
title; "This bill has been extensively amended (hoghoused) and may no
longer be consistent with the original intention of the sponsors."
this time, some citizens of German extraction from Eureka came to
Pierre serving kuchen, in expectation that the legislature would
resurrect Eureka from ignominy by declaring kuchen the official State
Dessert. Governor Janklow happened by the kuchen table in the capitol
rotunda, and sampled. "This is wonderful!" he said. "Let's make Eureka
South Dakota's first entirely drug-free town. When the legislature sets
up my $1000 bounty, let's make sure the first snitch payment goes to a
citizen of Eureka."
The Eurekans looked at each other,
then at the floor, and shuffled their feet. The mayor of Eureka offered
Janklow another helping of kuchen, having noticed the governor sometimes
stopped speaking when his mouth was full.
anticipation of 210's appearance in House State Affairs, the governor
took the House Republicans to the woodshed, threatening dire
consequences if they didn't restore the first-offense provision and the
bounty. He threatened not to sign the bill in its Senate-amended form.
He also threatened to take an active role in defeating Republican
defectors in the next election.
The only proponents of
210 to testify were Governor Janklow and his chief-of-staff, Dave
Knudson. Janklow said, "I don't have many moral principles, but I get a
visceral anger when I think about people giving drugs to young girls and
then USING these young girls. That's why we need this bill.
when I drive over the speed limit, which I do a lot, I take a
calculated risk. I know it's gonna cost me $167 if I get caught. I don't
mind that. But if I knew I'd go to jail for two days, I wouldn't speed.
That's why we need this bill. Everybody knows they've got one free time
getting caught with drugs. We've gotta change that."
said, "We're losing the war on drugs. That's why we need this bill."
When asked the goal of the war on drugs, Knudson said, "To eliminate
wrecking of lives due to drugs."
First to testify in
opposition to 210, I pointed out that no prohibition law has ever
worked, and, in fact, has always resulted in an effect exactly opposite
the stated goals. Curt Mortenson, the eloquent Stanley County State's
Attorney, said, "This bill is the biggest pile of crap I've ever seen."
Mike Buenger, speaking for the Unified Judicial System, said, "Enactment
of this bill will create a backlog of jury trials which will gridlock
Tom Barnett, brother of South Dakota
Attorney-General Mark Barnett, and lobbyist for the South Dakota State
Bar, opposed the bill. Barnett told me, "Alcohol accounts for the vast
majority of prematurely-lost virginity in this state, not drugs."
Braune, lobbyist for the South Dakota Peace and Justice Center, opposed
the bill, too, as did state senator Frank Kloucek, who, in a moment of
weirdness hardly noticed in the context, accused Governor Janklow of
making an offensive phone call to Kloucek's daughter last year. Janklow
denied the charge.
Janklow then figuratively sank to
his knees, "Just give me the bill," he said. "What we're doing isn't
working. Just give me the bill. Heck, it won't even go into effect until
July 1. You people are all going to be back here in January. You can
repeal it then, if you don't like it. Heck, you can even put a sunset on
it. Just give me the bill. You can't let these monsters be giving
14-year-old girls drugs and then violating them." He blinked back a
tear, staggering a little under the weight of his convictions as he
Representative Dick Brown, member of the State
Affairs committee, questioned the governor. "This bill gives judges the
option to depart from the minimum sentence as long as they send a note
to the clerk, right?" "Yes," said Janklow. "So it really doesn't change
anything, right?" continued Brown. "That's right," replied Janklow.
Janklow said, "it just says we're gonna remand 'em to the custody of
the Department of Corrections. They don't have to go to Sioux Falls.
They might go to Redfield, or Springfield. They might just clean up the
grounds at the State Fair.
"Heck, it won't even cost us
much. They're not a threat to escape, so we won't need many more
guards. We'll feed 'em a few meals, that's about it. Then we'll send 'em
back home with a new, drug-avoiding, outlook."
had begun as a get-tough, take no prisoners..., uh..., no, a get-tough,
take EVERYBODY prisoner, shock'em straight, no-nonsense thirty days in
the Pen was now being touted as a "not really changing anything" bill.
And the governor was begging for it.
Affairs, swayed by the governor's impeccable logic, and apparently
invigorated with new knowledge of their moral righteousness, reinstated
the $1000 bounty and the first-offense provision and sent the bill to
the House floor.
On Day 37 of the 74th South Dakota
Legislature, the House as a whole agreed with Rapid City Senator Mike
Wilson that SB210 was ugly, regardless of Dave Knudson's articulate
explication of the goal of the war on drugs, and tabled it 40-29, thus
killing it. One might extrapolate that dinner in the governor's mansion
the evening of March 4, 1999, was punctuated by the sound of plates
breaking against the walls.
Oh, the kuchen bill failed
also. South Dakota is still without a State Dessert, and Eureka still
stands the same chance as it did two months ago of being South Dakota's
first drug-free, but snitch-replete, community.
Author's note. I ran into Dick Brown a few months later. He was still picking Janklow's pubic hair out of his teeth.
were several newspaper reporters in the committee room. None reported
Janklow's statements. That's passive fellatio, I guess.