Sanford and the Son He Never Had (That I Know of)

This past Saturday, almost every powerful person in the state gathered at the Washington Pavilion for a very special event. Our Governor was there, as were two of our three national representatives. Somehow even our mush-mouthed Mayor snuck into the building, although his incredibly-disappearing six-figure assistant was (as usual) nowhere to be found. Real estate barons, doctors, bankers, TV personalities, and hoity-toity society types all shared space with a few token “regular” people.
What could possibly bring all of these people together? Is it possible somebody booked a surprise Replacements reunion? Obviously that was not the case, as I wasn’t there. Or maybe Simon, Paula, and the black dude came to town to audition Cable Boy? No, he’s still reeling from his award-winning performance as the flamboyant Midwestern boy on The Price Is Right.
Instead, it was an old-fashioned press conference-slash-pep rally. Sioux Valley head honcho Kelby Krabenhoft set up this party, and in this city when Kelby calls you show up.
Little information leaked out before the beginning of this party, but it was well-known that he had an announcement regarding a large donation. While no name was initially connected with this donation, in this state you immediately know it has something to do with credit-card tycoon T. Denny Sanford.
I’ve got to admit, these men know how to create a stir. Sanford and Krabbenhoft announced a donation of almost a half billion dollars, and Kelby surely must have had to back up a few inches from the podium as he babbled endlessly about his visions of domed buildings, underground garages, and climate-controlled walkways. By the time he was finished, the signs all over the city were already changed from Sioux Valley to Sanford Health, which was quite a feat when you consider how much money the hospital had invested in signage all over this community. (In fact, is there any money left after the production and installation?)
Before you people deluge me with hate mail, nasty phone calls, and death threats, let me make it clear that I have no problems with Sanford’s generous gift. He’s got a ton of money, and if he wants to let other people play with it more power to him. I’m just playing the part here I was born to play – devil’s advocate. With that in mind, I must add that he made his fortune on the backs of a lot of clems with little-to-no credit in a state that changed its laws just for people like him. I doubt if the hospital would be quite so pleased to accept a similar gift from the payday loan people, and there’s not that big of a difference between the two types of businesses.
But Sanford made his money legally, and can obviously do what he wants with it. What I object to is the continued hype. This is certainly a big deal that deserved to dominate the newspaper and TV crews for the first day or two. Four days later, all of our media outlets act like there is nothing else to cover. It’s still the same story, but we have to hear about it over and over. Our local news has become nothing more than an infomercial for Sioux Valley (in my mind, the name of this company will always be Sioux Valley, just as a certain Indiana-based singer-songwriter will always be Johnny Cougar).
If they must continue to cover this story, why not wipe the smirks off their face and actually address some potential issues surrounding the expansion of the hospital. For example, there are many people who claim that the drainage problems in the area surrounding the hospital are due to the continued expansion of the hospital campus in recent years. Now that construction is going to be expanded by many blocks, along with the plans for underground garages and walkways, will flooded basements become an even bigger problem?
There’s also an issue in my mind with too much local power being in the hands of too few players. This has already been a problem, particularly in the Munson era, and Kelby is one of those players who have tried to dictate the direction of this community. How soon will Munson attempt to rush our city into another of his lame-brain ideas with the blessing of a hand-picked task force? How quickly will we hear the rhetoric that we have to follow the lead of Sioux Valley? Even worse, when will local schools and other community buildings bear the names of either of our fearless leaders? Do we really want our kids to go to Krabbenhoft High School or play at Sanford Field?


Anonymous said…
When is Keloland changing its name to Sanfordland? How about Sanford Dakota? I hear there are going to be two larger than life statues of the man. Maybe one will be placed at the entrance to the Thunderdome. Press his hand and he greets you with, "Two men enter, only one man leaves."
Anonymous said…
Grow up scott!
Join the REAL world!
When you make your first million you can decide what to do with it.
Until then leave those who are sucessful alone--and if you don't want someone making money from a credit card--don't carry one.
Anonymous said…
How come no one in the local media has gotten McKennan's reaction? Oh yeah, because T-Den bought off the media too.
Anonymous said…
Actually, KDLT talked to Avera's marketing manager - that was funny.

He said "It's positive for us too. We also have many capital improvement projects planned for the next decade." You could tell the guy was fuming.

As for Anon #2. Settle down, I think Scott was trying to point out not everything will be positive. Eventually some little guys are gonna get trampled by Kelby and crew. Trust me, Kelby will be trying to shape our city, he has already attempted to get the city to pay for a Vikings training camp.

Detroit Lewis
Anonymous said…
Actually KSFY talked to Fred Slunecka the CEO at Avera-McKennan.

You must be watching KCPO for news.
Anonymous said…
He can do anything he wants with his money blah blah blah. What I want to know, is this donation tax deductible? If so, all he did was give (what he will write off) to a huge RICH corporation and paid for his name and likeness to be displayed all over the town.
It would have been more admirable (IMHO) to give to a charity that is actually needy. "Charity" does not include making a rich company richer. This is VANITY.
Anonymous said…
There is also a very creepy full page ad in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Who is the marketing demo there? Vacationers planning to get sick in SD?
Any word if Sanford is the anonymous donor to Roger Hunt?
Anonymous said…
First off, Sioux Valley or Sanford Health, just like any other hospital is for non-profit. Second, T Denny gave those credit who wouldn't have otherwise been able to get it. he took the initiative, he took the gamble, he did very well for himself. Providing health care and improvements is not going to trample people, its going to provide for them, for everyone. I can't believe all the sarcasm and negativism this has gotten. This is an incredible opportunity for Sioux Falls and South Dakota. I'm sorry life didn't give you lemons!
Anonymous said…
MY question is will this "gift" make health care more affordable to those that can't otherwise afford it? It's not looking like it as they intend to spend the money building a glass dome over buildings that already have an underground tunnel system in place and building a castle for children. I never had a castle to go to when I got sick when I was little and I've survived just fine. The specialized doctors I agree with. But as for some on the rest of the money how about using that to lower what they will charge or start a low income/ middle class health care program. I guess all of that wouldn't pad Ol' Kelby's pocketbook as much.

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