Politics and Dakota Days


So, I was working on a post to highlight the upcoming Dakota Days Homecoming events here in Vermillion, and came across something that made me more than a bit uncomfortable.

This year’s USD All Alumni Reunion Dinner and Awards Banquet is being held at Masaba Mining Equipment here in Vermillion.  Even on the surface, it seems a little strange to have a university homecoming event at a mining equipment plant, but look a little deeper and see that the president of Masaba Mining Equipment is Jerad Higman, and Jerad Higman is trying to unseat our Democratic District 17 Senator Ben Nesselhuf in this election.

I called up the USD Foundation to get directions to the dinner and make reservations for H. and I, and asked why the dinner was being held there (and if we should wear hard hats).  The response was that they’d had the dinner outside under a tent for the past two years, and all of a sudden they got very worried that it might rain.

According to Julia at the Foundation, there was “nowhere else in Vermillion” to have the event (that’s tough to believe–pre-planning, anyone?), so they contacted Mr. Higman, who very graciously offered a part of his building.   Of course he did–he’s on the USD Board of Trustees–has been since last year–probably about the time he decided to run for State Senate.

Now maybe I’m getting my panties in a bunch about nothing–but it sure does smell wrong that a big University event that is planned almost a year in advance would suddenly find itself out in the cold, begging for space in a manufacturing plant on the outskirts of town.  This smells more like a not-so-subtle political endorsement than a last-minute change of plans.

What say you, ‘Yotes?

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Claire on October 7, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    I think the Foundation and Mr. Higman have lost the concept of “avoiding even the appearance of impropriety”. That is a concept that I find pretty important in preserving the public trust. The power company had a lunch for the whole town in their warehouse and it had room to spare. Since the foundation isn’t looking for glitz, I think there are options in Vermillion other than Mesaba.

  2. Posted by flyingtomato on October 7, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Yes, I like that line–“the appearance of impropriety is often worse than impropriety itself.”

    I did talk to B.J. (oops–I mean Ben!), and he said he wasn’t too concerned–let Higman hob-nob with the out-of-town alumni while he does some real campaigning in rural areas.

    –re.

  3. This is why we must elect Senator Toast and end political corruption! 🙂 Hi from Lennox.

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