Scrounge will be appearing on SELECT newstands sometime this week, here’s a peak at the stories I either wrote or contributed to:


 Leslee Unruh, making her “dead babies bad, live babies good” concession speech after Referred Law 6 was unanimously rejected, isn’t just fighting to outlaw abortion; she wants to make sure that sex is legal only if you’re married.
 Well, maybe that’s stretching it a bit. Her campaign is for public schools to exclusively teach her cash cow, abstinence-only-until-marriage education.
 “Abstinence only” programs, which have sprouted up in schools across the nation, cannot offer information about birth control and must promote the social and health benefits of abstaining from sex until marriage.
 Since Bush took office, almost $1 billion in federal funds has been committed to abstinence-only education. Currently, the federal government champions the abstinence-only approach, giving around $170 million each year to states and community groups to teach “just say no” sex education. This funding mentions birth control and condoms only to emphasize their failure rates.
 The National Abstinence Clearinghouse is a non-profit educational organization in Sioux Falls that advocates abstinence-only education. The President of the NAC is Sioux Falls’ own Leslee Unruh.
 The National Abstinence Clearinghouse, whose budget has increased more than 500% since 2001, has received $2.7 million in government funding to develop abstinence-only curricula.i In 2003 Leslee Unruh paid herself a salary of $57,547ii, and $109,920ii in 2004. Her 52% raise came after the role of “Educational Programs Director changed. Whereas in the past, affiliates
needed only information, in 2004, I felt like the cheerleader for the community. If they called with hopeless problems and could not go on, I quizzed them, helped restore their hope, and gave them pep-talks they needed to confront the demons and move into the light”.iii
 Wow, with that kind of earning potential I should have become an exorcist/cheerleader. Most Americans, regardless of their political leanings, favor comprehensive sex education in schools over abstinence-only programs.iv However, earlier this year, eight parents in Sioux Falls succeeded in getting textbooks that promote condom-based sex education programs removed from area middle school classes. They attempted to push Unruh’s abstinence-only education into Sioux Falls public schools, but were challenged by many opposed to the limited teachings. Leslee Unruh has pledged “never to stop fighting” for what she believes in, and as long as taxpayers fund her crusade, why should she?

i MotherJones, December 2006, Recon
ii 2003 & 2004 National Abstinence Clearinghouse
IRS 990 Non-profit tax filings
iii National Abstinence Clearinghouse
“Year 2004 Goals and Progress” IRS tax filing.
iv Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, November 2006.



 There are a lot of things you can say about Mike Rounds’ recent victory, but one thing I’ll for sure give him credit for: He’s good at the bull. Even after Rounds signed an abortion law that was severely flawed, flew on state airplanes for personal use, and botched an execution, he still handily tromped his opponent. Like I told a couple of my Republican friends, Rounds would’ve had to’ve been caught cheating on his wife and running over a transient, all while driving under the influence, in order to have lost this past election. To his benefit, He had a few things going for him.
 It didn’t hurt that . . .
 . . . he was an incumbent.
 . . . he was a pro-life Republican and a Catholic.
 . . . he had a bank account twice the size of his opponent’s.
 . . . he ‘appears’ to be more moderate than conservative.
 All those points aside, there is only one real reason Rounds retained his throne: He’s a great liar. You have to realize, Mikey was a successful insurance salesman before he was governor, and if there is one thing an insurance salesman is good at, it is laying the bull deep, especially to seniors.
 If South Dakotans wouldn’t have been busy working three jobs to make ends meet (SD ranks last in the nation for W-2 wages), they might have had time to research Rounds’ statistics. Mike is great at twisting numbers to make them look good. Ever watch an insurance or investments agent in action? For instance, in his last debate, when Jack Billion discussed the underfunding of education and gave the per-student-increase dollar amount (which was about half of what it should have been), Mikey was quick to use the “per classroom” amount, in essence throwing out the bigger dollar amount while confusing the viewer. In fact, Mikey throws numbers out so fast you would have had trouble getting a stenographer to keep up. He pulled this trick the first time around, and it worked so well that time that he reached into the hat again, and it paid off. He had Jack off in so many directions that he looked to be trying to stop a bleeding patient full of bullet holes.
 If you have time to dissect all his statistics, you will see that SD isn’t any better off than we were four years ago. In fact, the drought has worsened the economy, and fewer people have health care. Rounds has rubber-stamped everything the extremist legislation has bounced his way, and when he had a chance to stand up to them on the minimum wage increase, he cowered.
 Oh, and that smile. You gotta give Mike credit, with his Republican-styled ‘do and his big-ass white teeth, you could have put him on a billboard with the word “Bastard” next to him, and he still would have looked great. The dookie obviously carries over in Mike’s appearance. Jack, with his reading glasses and bald, age-spotted, wrinkled head, didn’t have a chance against the ‘model’ in the image department. I even got a good laugh when the Billion campaign airbrushed Jack’s photos to make him look better on his website and in his ads. He had so much makeup on in his last television commercial, I thought he was applying for a job with the Shrine Circus. Never trust a pretty face. I think the Billion campaign flubbed with this approach. They should have dolled him up from the beginning, or not at all. I think Jack’s personality exceeds his looks, and like I told my mother, if you have ever talked to the guy, you like him instantly.
 Democrats in state politics should realize that you can’t beat the SD GOP by playing their game. I think Jack realized at the end of his campaign that he needed to separate himself from Mike, but it was too late. Mike had already broken Jack’s calculator and stolen his teeth-whitening strips.
 Apparently South Dakotans prefer liars over leaders.
 Was Jack the better candidate? It doesn’t really matter; He didn’t have a chance.


Sioux Falls SculptureWalk
 Art is a free flow of ideas, imagination and creativity. There’re no wrong or right ideas. Art can, and should, be easily criticized.  As an artist, once people have stopped being critical of what I do, that’s when I have failed. Constructive and even destructive criticism is the cornerstone of art. Once we shut out the dissenters, we’ve stopped growing as artists.
 This is the trend in Sioux Falls—shut out all dissenting, critical voices. I’m not sure when or why it started. But it’s grown to epidemic proportions.
SculptureWalk has graced our city for three years now. It’s a wonderful idea borrowed from Grand Junction, Colorado. The entire concept is modeled after Grand Junction’s program; the two cities share prospective artists.
 SculptureWalk’s benefits are numerous. It encourages tourism and downtown business development. And it beautifies our city. How could anyone oppose such a concept? Although I preferred SculptureWalk in Fawick Park, I‘m not opposed to its current arrangement.
 I’m a strong supporter of the arts in Sioux Falls, especially individual artists. I’m also critical of local art organizations and their tendency to close out the public in decision-making. This is the case with SculptureWalk.
 SculptureWalk is mostly privately funded: my guess is 70 to 80 percent. But that’s just a guess since the organization has never released any hard numbers. When questioned about it, they’re foggy and secretive about just how much taxpayer money goes toward the program. Apparently they’re just guessing in regards to exact figures, too, since “approximately” $70,000 comes from private donations and $25,000 comes from public funds.
 SculptureWalk uses municipal funds in three ways: The city provides the space and the exhibits’ quartzite mounts, the city covers liability insurance on the pieces, and the city helps market the program through the Sioux Empire Arts Council and other arts organizations that receive private and public money.
 Since SculptureWalk receives public funds, you’d think the public could add suggestions to the project’s committee without repercussions. That’s not the case. I found out that the SculptureWalk committee kills outside criticism like Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge killed the educated: cruel and unusual.
 The committee is made up of elitists, business owners, and specially-selected artists and teachers. Jim Clark, the executive director, runs the organization with an iron fist. The company Clark works for, Xcel Energy, is one of SculptureWalk’s largest contributors.
 In a closed-door meeting with Clark, he said he has the right to run SculptureWalk as he sees fit because his company is the largest contributor, even though Jim is only an employee and not an actual contributor.
My history with Clark, which led to our meeting, is interesting. He tried his best to get me fired from my job after I had a letter to the editor published in the Argus Leader that was critical of some SculptureWalk aspects. He made it very clear to my employer that he would no longer do business with a company that employs a SculptureWalk critic.
 So I set up a meeting with the almighty Mr. Clark. I wanted an apology for his child-like behavior. Being his usual arrogant self, he still has yet to offer any sort of apology. Instead of a rational, respected professional, he behaved more like South Park’s Eric Cartman: spoiled, mean and with an insatiable need to assert authority. I expressed concerns from a city employee who works closely with SculptureWalk, and his response was, “Artists are whiners.”
 Since Clark has no respect for artists, the very folks who create the subject matter for SculptureWalk and give him an excuse to run a dictatorship, here’s what I feel is wrong with SculptureWalk. If you agree with any of my arguments, feel free to express them to Clark. But only if you’re not an artist yourself, because he’ll just write you off as a “whiner.”
What’s Wrong With SculptureWalk:
• Diversity: SculptureWalk is littered with the same old nostalgic pieces ever year.  Public art should challenge the viewer and provoke discussion. A constipated old man holding a bucket of potatoes isn’t worth an intellectual debate about art. Don’t get me wrong–light-hearted pieces such as dancing penguins should be included in the exhibit, but there should be a balance of all art disciplines and subjects.
• Funding: SculptureWalk should distinctly clarify how they want to be funded. If they want to remain both privately and publicly funded, they should disclose all finances to the public. Otherwise it should be one hundred percent either way. I’m opposed to mixing private and public funds in public art programs, unless private money is given anonymously and with no strings attached. Obviously SculptureWalk has managed the exact opposite of this.
• Artist Selection: SculptureWalk is fair in their call for entries. But I disagree with their selections. The same kind of art and artists are picked every year: hokey and pointless.
• Religious Connotations: Religious art, or should I say Christian art, should be displayed only at churches and on private property. The city shouldn’t promote certain religions. Since SculptureWalk is on public property, a strict rule should forbid religion-themed art. Examples include “Weeping Rachel” and “Morning Spirits.”
• Committee Members: The committee members are self-serving elitists who could care less about public input. Most members would have trouble picking out the best birthday card for a friend, let alone public art for our city. Fund raising is their main objective, not selecting art. This needs to change.
• Public Input: This is my biggest complaint. The city of Sioux Falls has no problem with taking tax money from taxpayers to help fund the exhibit, but the program doesn’t want any input from those who helped fund the program.
 SculptureWalk is un-American. It goes against the very essence of our great nation: balance, diversity and fair play for all. The public should select public art. The committee should consist of taxpayers from all economic backgrounds and interests.
 Great art comes from great struggles and criticism. Great art is revolutionary and challenging. Arrogance and secrecy have never contributed to great art, but openness and dissent have. Stop the secrecy and elitism. SculptureWalk to public input without repercussions. It’s too late for an apology, but it’s never too late to do the right thing.