Monthly Archives: December 2012

New veterans affairs secretary is appointed

It’s now official. Command Sergeant Major Larry Zimmerman of Rapid City has received the governor’s appointment as the first secretary of veterans affairs in the Daugaard administration. The governor announced Zimmerman’s selection 15 months ago but said the appointment would be delayed until 2013. Now the governor has filed the official paperwork for Zimmerman to take office Jan. 8. The veterans responsibilities will thereafter be severed from the Department of Military, which is headed by Major General Tim Reisch.

Burdette Solum, 1927-2012

Burdette Solum, who passed away Friday at his Watertown home at age 85, served a total of nine years in the state House of Representatives. He had spent one term in the House (1991-92) and was retired (or at least as much as he could ever be) when then-Gov. Bill Janklow tapped him to return five years later. Solum, R-Watertown, came back to the Capitol when he accepted a Janklow appointment to the House to fill a vacancy. The vacancy was triggered by Sen. Jim Thompson, R-Watertown, who resigned midway of his second term. Janklow named Rep. Don Brosz, R-Watertown, to fill the Thompson seat and brought Solum back to take the Brosz seat, all effective Jan. 1, 1998. The irony was that neither Thompson nor Brosz was much of a Janklow ally, but Burdette Solum certainly seemed to. Janklow respected Solum and that benefited Watertown and Codington County throughout Janklow’s final years as governor.

After his first term in the House, Solum ran for the Senate seat from his district and lost by three votes in the initial count to Democrat Dale Howlett of Watertown. A recount put the final results at Howlett 4,652 and Solum 4,646. That tiny margin was one reason that Democrats were able to take a 18-17 majority in the Senate for the 1993-94 term.

Two years later, Thompson rolled past Howlett. In their 1996 rematch, Thompson crushed Howlett. Meanwhile Thompson was going through some changes in his personal life and stepped down on Dec. 31, 1998. Brosz, who had won twice in House contests, had the upper hand in wanting the Senate seat. Janklow turned to Solum for the House seat that would become empty. Solum ran for election again in 1998, finishing on top in a three-way Republican primary and was the top vote-getter in the general election contest for the district’s two House seats. He won re-election in 2000 and 2002, retiring for good in 2004.

He was born in Watertown, graduated high school from Florence, served in the U.S. Army and the National Guard and made his career in banking, retiring professionally in 1989 as  president of Norwest Bank at Watertown. He was tremendously active in the community’s affairs, starting in 1960 when he was recognized as Watertown’s young man of the year, and he likewise gave considerable time and treasure to South Dakota State University. His resume carried such involvements as Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Boy Scouts, conservancy district, Codington County historical society and Prairie Lakes Health foundation. He always seemed upbeat during his years at the Capitol. His good nature helped make good things happen for his people. Once during his final term as governor Janklow went to Watertown for a tour of Lake Area Technical Institute. When Burdette and Janklow crossed paths in the parking lot, they embraced like two old allies. The Solum family currently has a second member in the House, Rep. Roger Solum, R-Watertown. Burdette was his father.

Frank Henderson, 1928-2012

The significance of Frank Henderson in South Dakota government and politics was large. He was a lawyer and two-term Republican state senator from Rapid City (1965-66 and 1969-70) when he decided to challenge incumbent Gov. Frank Farrar in the 1970 Republican primary. Farrar, a lawyer from Britton and previously the state attorney general, had cruised to a 50,000-vote win in 1968 over Democrat Robert Chamberlin. But Farrar ran into trouble over a variety of property-tax and electricity issues during his first term (terms were two years in that era). Henderson won a smattering of counties but Farrar prevailed statewide for the Republican nomination with 48,250 votes to Henderson’s 34,893. Waiting on the other side of the ballot was Democrat Dick Kneip, a state senator from Salem who went on to oust Farrar in the November general election by about 13,000 votes. Kneip went on to serve three terms as governor after the state constitution was changed for a four-year term effective in 1975 (he resigned in 1978 to accept a post as ambassador to Singapore). For Frank Henderson, his run for statewide office was the start of a new stage in his career. Henderson, who received a Bronze Star for his valor in the Korean War, ran for circuit judge in the Seventh Circuit and, in a contest to elect five judges, he finished fifth of 10 candidates. In 1978 he ran for election to the South Dakota Supreme Court from what was then the First District. The voting in the district’s counties resulted in Henderson defeating John Wagner, with Henderson receiving 26,240 votes to Wagner’s 13,862. As one of five Supreme Court members, Justice Henderson often was a dissenting voice. He took pride in writing his opinions. He was one of 15 former territorial or state legislators to serve on the court, and no legislator has been appointed or elected to the state’s high court since Henderson. The man popularly known in legal and political circles as simply “Rudy” was something of a bear of a man physically, drove a big Lincoln and didn’t hide his emotions about his work and responsibility with which he had been entrusted. He and his wife, Norma, raised eight children. He wasn’t shy in standing for what he thought was right. Five justices were chosen as chief justice during his 16 years there but he wasn’t.  He retired in 1994. Then-Gov. Walter Dale Miller appointed John Konenkamp of Rapid City as his successor. In his later years the retired justice Henderson lived in the Hill City area. He was in care of the Veterans Administration in Sheridan, Wyoming, at the time of his passing Friday. He was 84.

Judge clears House speaker-elect

After three months of twists, today Rep. Brian Gosch was cleared by Circuit Judge Kathleen Trandahl of any wrongdoing when he notarized a petition circulator’s signature on his own nomination petition. According to Gosch’s lawyer, Sara Frankenstein of Rapid City, Judge Trandahl said nothing in state law prohibits a candidate from doing that. Trandahl in turn ruled that Secretary of State Jason Gant therefore wasn’t prohibited from accepting Gosch’s petition. Gosch, R-Rapid City, will be the House speaker for the 2013 legislative session that opens Jan. 8. Judge Trandahl also found that nothing in state rules prohibited Gant from accepting the petition. Stephanie Strong of Rapid City had sued Gant in an attempt to get Gosch ruled ineligible to stand for election. Trandahl was the third judge to handle the case. According to Frankenstein, Trandahl said Strong brought the case too late and such a challenge needed to be filed before the June primary election. Gant was represented in the matter by Rich Williams of the state Attorney General office.

Legislative news that shouldn’t need to be

During the 2012 legislative session, House Speaker Val Rausch decided he needed to move Rep. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, to a different desk for disciplinary reasons. Nelson wound up truly front and center, directly beneath the speaker’s spot. For 2013, under new Speaker Brian Gosch, Nelson has been placed near the back, in row 3, on the aisle closest to the Democrats. He also gets a seatmate  again — this time it’s Rep. Melissa Magstadt, R-Watertown — rather than being in a solo row. To his left will be Democrats Scott Parsley of Madison, Julie Bartling of Gregory and Susan Wismer of Britton. To his rear will be Republicans Jacqueline Sly of Rapid City and Jon Hansen of Dell Rapids. To his front will be Republicans Jim Bolin of Canton and Nancy Rasmussen of Hurley. In 2011, Nelson was in the center of the Republicans’ 50 desks, and his seatmate was Fred Romkema, R-Spearfish. That’s how Nelson began 2012, until he was told to trade places with Betty Olson, R-Prairie City, and be down front where Rausch — and for that matter, every other member of the House — could keep an eye on him.

Guess who got a marriage license?

Sen. Angie Buhl, that’s who! She and Jacob O’Donnell exchanged vows Dec. 21, according to the marriage index for Minnehaha County.

Word slipped about her plans last week as a legislative committee was trying to schedule a meeting date yet this month. At the time Buhl, D-Sioux Falls, didn’t divulge the groom’s name.

We heard unofficially today that she let the Legislative Research Council office know that she’ll continue to use Buhl as her last name.

The legend of the finback whale

Just a stray thought on a snowy December morning before the longest moonlight of the year tonight…

What if the finback whale that beached itself at Queens, and evidently now has stopped breathing, according to news reports, was the victim of some evolutionary urge, and was just trying to become like most mammals, and wanted just once to walk on land?

Auld lang syne for 10 in ’12

Term limits mean 10 legislators leave the Capitol’s halls as this year ends. Seven go voluntarily, including senators Bob Gray, R-Pierre; Tom Hansen, R-Huron; and Jim Hundstad, D-Bath; and representatives Jamie Boomgarden, R-Chancellor; Thomas Brunner, R-Nisland; Roger Hunt, R-Brandon; and Chuck Turbiville, R-Deadwood. Three House members ran for Senate seats, rather than retire, and all three lost: Val Rausch, R-Big Stone City, to Sen. Tim Begalka, R-Clear Lake, in a June primary; Steve Street, D-Milbank, to Begalka in the November general; and Paul Dennert, D-Aberdeen, to Sen. Al Novstrup, R-Aberdeen.

Eight returning legislators face term limits in 2014. They are senators Jean Hunhoff, R-Yankton; and Ryan Maher, R-Isabel; and representatives Lance Carson, R-Mitchell; Marc Feinstein, D-Sioux Falls; David Lust, R-Rapid City; David Novstrup, R-Aberdeen;  Betty Olson, R-Prairie City; and Manny Steele, R-Sioux Falls. Two other representatives beat the rush and switched to the Senate in the 2012 election: Larry Lucas, D-Mission, and Mark Kirkeby, R-Rapid City. Meanwhile Rep. Kim Vanneman, R-Ideal, didn’t seek re-election.

Mt. Rushmore Road parking can continue — for now

The state Department of Transportation has withdrawn its proposed ban on parking along Mt. Rushmore Road (U.S. 16) in Rapid City until after the construction project is completed. The ban is planned for both sides of the segment between Tower Road and Omaha Street.