Friday, May 8, 2015

Still Waiting For Mayoral Candidate Allender To Show Me Why He Thinks Rapid City's Economy Has Flatlined Under Kooiker. Meanwhile, A Whole Slew Of Nasty Stuff Is Surfacing. What About It, Steve? What Say You?

     At yesterday's Rotary Club luncheon challenger Steve Allender and incumbent Sam
Do I Dare Ask What The Joke Was?
(photo from
Kooiker went at it.  
Each took his turn and made a decent case for himself, though I keep wondering how Allender can go on claiming that Rapid City's economy has been "flat" during Kooiker's tenure, not even able to keep up with the general statewide economy in South Dakota.  I did a fairly thorough job of exposing that delusion a few days ago by searching through statistical data provided by the South Dakota Department of Revenue that showed gross sales receipts in Rapid City have far outpaced the rate of inflation by a factor of 3.  That's growth folks, that's not "flat."  For his part, Kooiker has been calling attention to building permit numbers that have remained at record to near-record levels for the past few years.  I think the data speak for themselves, but Allender remains unconvinced, telling the Rotarians "sales tax and building permit numbers" don't tell the whole story about the economy.  
     So okay.  If Allender insists that two of the most reliable conventional indicators out there won't convince him that Rapid City's economy has been growing at a snappy pace during Kooiker's tenure, I'd like to know what data he uses to support his pessimistic conclusion that this town's economy hasn't grown during the past few years.  I challenged him to share his metrics and indicators with me, told him I'd be bringing it up here in the blog, and am waiting for the information, which I will share here, posthaste.  It's only been 24 hours.  You'd think somebody who was so certain about the flaccid condition of the local economy would have some facts to back himself up, facts that should be at fingertip proximity, but Allender apparently needs some more time to think about it.  No sweat.  I'm a patient man.  
     Meantime, another issue regarding Allender has suddenly welled up, both through the blogosphere and the conventional media.  An atmosphere of racist jocularity apparently characterized Allender's tenure as both cop and police chief. Cory Heidelberger over at Dakota Free Press produced a long account of it in his blog this morning, noting differing views about the situation from two former Rapid City cops, both Indians, one (Glenn Yellow Robe) from Rosebud, one (Ken James) a Santee Sioux from Nebraska.  Yellow Robe, who sued police chief Allender, Allender's predecessor Craig Tieszen, and the City of Rapid City for racial discrimination and harassment, claims in a section of the lawsuit titled "Undisputed Material Facts" that Allender tolerated a work environment at which Yellow Robe, during daily briefing sessions, "was subjected to demeaning and derogatory comments about Native Americans,"  generally in the guise of humor. Though Yellow Robe (who participated in the jocularity, according to the text of the lawsuit) ultimately lost the case on a summary judgement, the "undisputed facts" paint a nasty picture of offensive and insensitive levels of immaturity and meanness that were common to the department. This was racism by locker-room mirthiness.
     Yesterday's Native Sun News provides a more detailed recap of some of the utterances that
Yellow Robe (2nd from right) And Family
The Jokes Really Weren't All That Funny
(photo from
Yellow Robe says came out of Allender's mouth.
In NSN, Yellow Robe claims that he had "years of putting up with Allender's racist comments and jokes," including Allender asking at mealtime, "what's on the menu, today, a bowl of guts?" or "a slab of lab?"  Yellow Robe says that Allender once asked a Jewish officer if his lunch consisted of "foreskin kabobs."  This is pretty repulsive stuff, stomach turning in its imagery and intent.  While Allender is preparing his indictment of Rapid City's economy, I hope he takes the time to address this by now widely circulated litany of racism by humor.

     In the meantime, there is that supporter of Allender from inside the Indian ranks of the RCPD, Ken James, who, according to a link (the content of which is "currently unavailable" according to facebook)  in Cory's blog is unrestrained in his admiration for the former chief.  
As quoted by Cory, James says:  "I am supporting Rapid City Mayoral candidate Mr. Steve Allender in the June 2nd election. As a former Native officer serving the fine citizen’s (sic) of Rapid City over a decade, it was a (sic) honor to work side by side with a dedicated public servant." James recounts how Allender was personally helpful in defusing a potentially dangerous situation involving a female tribal officer.   
     There's no way I can reconcile this difference of opinion, but I know Rapid City well enough to be certain that the issue won't fade away.  Just on the basis of what has been documented and left uncontested in Yellow Robe's lawsuit, there's truth to some of this.  On the basis of that we need to consider how Rapid City would look with a mayor who as a public official thought some of this stuff was pretty funny.  

1 comment:

  1. Best talk with any number of officers that served with Glen Yellow Robe before assuming that there was a credible complaint. I wore a badge of a different Dept during much of Allender's service and had contact with Mr. Yellow Robe on rare occasion. I was never impressed with his performance or his attitude. Some of his colleagues with whom I was better acquainted stated on numerous occasions that Yellow Robe was guilty of making his own racist jokes and denigrating remarks. Perhaps you missed Steve's statements admitting that, as a young officer, he made what could be considered racist comments but he also indicated that we learn and we grow out of youthful errors and gain a new understanding. Which one of us has not allowed an alligator mouth to overload a humming bird backside. There is a temporal aspect to this that is being ignored. Me thinks that you're trying to make a sows ear out of silk purse while failing to recognize the obvious..... Maturation and understanding are daily processes that everybody is exposed to. Its a matter of paying attention. Some pay attention. Others don't. Others pay attention once in a while. Under who's watch has the most serious challenges to Native American/White relations occurred in the past 10 years? And while we're at it, we might take a little closer look at the job/economic growth picture. I think we might learn that the growth has been in the largest sector of the WR economy which is tourism........ Meanwhile, growth in tech industry and mid level jobs remains in the tank......... A record of building more motels, hotels, restaurants, and swim theme parks doesn't strike a good chord with those folks graduating from SDSM&T or other universities that really aren't suited to be bar tenders, motel maids, or maintenance men at water parks. Then we might look at the cattle industry which is western SD's largest industry. To suggest that cattle prices haven't stimulated growth in Rapid City would be a major oversight. And even with that, that industry doesn't create the type of jobs and economic growth that comes from advanced education. Its a beer tent searching for brick and mortar.