We wrote earlier this year about how our state legislators got so irate with the South Dakota High School Activities that they passed a law making the state-founded association subject to open records laws.
Lawmakers did so after it was revealed the association was keeping secret the criteria for shutting out smaller communities from hosting statewide sports events. Oh, and the fact that the association gets free cars to use and extra compensation didn't paint them in the best light, either.
Well, to the manner born, the activities association tried to keep some documents secret today from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.
Writes David Montgomery in a story online today:
Hours after denying a request for the results of a recent vote, the South Dakota High School Activities Association reversed itself and agreed to allow partial access to school district ballots.
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But executive director Wayne Carney said SDHSAA wouldn't release that information digitally. Instead, he said anyone interested in reviewing the election would need to come to the SDHSAA office in Pierre and examine the ballots themselves.
This is not an unknown tactic, and it doesn't help with South Dakota's secrecy problem. Since we're a big state with towns and cities dispersed far and wide, offices sometimes insist you drive two or three or four hours one-way to inspect public documents. Working citizens rarely have the time to do that. And newsrooms nowadays rarely have the staffing to cut a reporter loose for a full day just to check on documents at the end of the state. And so documents that are legally public record become effectively made unavailable.
Want another recent example the "let them drive" scenario? How about how about attorney Steven Sandven being told by the state Board of Regents he'd have to drive 400 miles round-trip to pick up EB-5 documents located at Northern State University.
Sandven was told the documents couldn't be sent electronically because of "security reasons."
I'm sure this won't be the last time muckety-mucks use South Dakota's geography against its own people.