This name change poses an interesting question for folks circulating referendum petitions. The last piece of information requested on each petition signature line is “County of Registration.” If a Pine Ridge resident signs a petition today, the legally correct answer is “Shannon.” But when Secretary of State Shantel Krebs reviews that petition on June 30, the correct answer will be “Oglala Lakota.” Uh oh—will Shannon/Oglala Lakota signatories be SOL?
No, says Deputy Secretary of State Kea Warne:
As long as everything else is correct on the signature line and the petition, we will accept either Oglala Lakota County or Shannon County as the name of the county of voter registration for that voter. We do urge the petition circulators to stress to the signers to list Shannon prior to May 1st and list Oglala Lakota after May 1st, but we will not throw out a signature line if they list Shannon after May 1st or Oglala Lakota prior to May 1st [Kea Warne, e-mail, 2015.04.27].
Petition signers, when in doubt, just tell the simple truth. If you are a registered voter in Manderson, Red Shirt, or Wounded Knee, write the official name of your county at the time you sign. For two more days, that’s Shannon. Starting Friday, that’s Oglala Lakota. But if you refuse to use the white colonizer’s name today, or if you balk at reconciliation and can’t bring yourself to write the Indian name on May 1, well, the Secretary of State won’t make a fuss for now.
Across South Dakota, manly hearts beat faster upon hearing Chris Nelson say he’s “anxious… to wrestle“:
[Public Utilities Commission] Chairman Chris Nelson warned parties that they’ll have to be ready for the hearing later this summer.
“I was so mentally ready to do this next week,” Nelson said. “I’m anxious to get at this. I’m anxious to hear the arguments of both sides and to wrestle with that and make the proper decision, and so from a personal perspective, I wish this wasn’t happening, but I think in the interests of justice and due process, I’m going to need to support the motion” [Victoria Wicks, “Keystone XL Pipeline Hearings Delayed; New Date TBA,” SDPB Radio, 2015.04.27]
Commissioner Nelson was referring, of course, to the PUC’s decision to delay its hearings on Keystone XL until later this summer to allow pipeline opponents time to review the massive pile of documents dumped on them by TransCanada.
Remember that every day we can delay Keystone XL is a good day for South Dakota. Every day TransCanada must wait is another day that West River landowners don’t have foreign-paid tractors tearing up their land. It’s another day ranchers and water drinkers from Buffalo to Murdo to Colome don’t have an ecological disaster burbling in their backyards. It’s another day TransCanada doesn’t get to raise gasoline prices in South Dakota by sending its product out to the global market.
The only downside to this delay is that we have to wait a few more months to watch Chris Nelson wrestle. But even there, every day we must wait is another day Commissioner Nelson could grow back his mustache and extend it to Hulk Hogan proportions for some serious Wrestlemania. Ah, sweet anticipation…
I thought I had dealt with my grief in anticipation of the demolition of the old Masonic Temple in Madison. Owners DeLon Mork and Randy Schaefer announced last September that they would take the wrecking ball to the derelict building. The Masons’ building had stood idle and unmaintained since its brief stint as the finest (some said too fine) restaurant in Madison in the mid-1990s. I had accepted the coming loss of this downtown landmark and prepared to move on.
But Monday, as dawn brought death to the Madison landmark, Mayor Roy Lindsay just had to say something stupid:
Mayor Roy Lindsay said that it was “history in the making,” adding that there was a time and a place for the structure, but today it was “time to move forward” [Jane Utecht, “Masons Comes Down,” Madison Daily Leader, 2015.04.27].
No, Roy, this was not history in the making. This was Madison unmaking history, smashing and burying history. The building did not somehow naturally outlive its rightful time and place all on its own. Madison failed to find the creativity and the resources and the will to say that this building could still have a place at the heart of the community. We had something historic, something impressive, something useful, and we let it go to waste.
Go ahead, “move forward.” But remember: contrary to Mayor Lindsay’s implication, this destruction was not fate. It was failure. Remember this failure, so other Lake County treasures are not neglected and left to die unnecessarily the way the Masonic Temple did on Monday.
On Wednesday (that’s tomorrow already!), I’ll be petitioning outside the Alexander Mitchell Public Library at 519 S. Kline St., from 11:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m. The forecast says light southerly breeze and heading for the 70s, so it should be a beautiful day for signing a petition, not to mention taking a lunchtime walk, checking out a book, sitting under a tree and reading…. Swing by the library on your lunch break and sign the petitions to refer SB 69 and SB 177.
Then Thursday evening, I’ll be at the Eagles Club at 316 S. 2nd St. from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. I’m attending (and speaking at!) the Brown County Democrats meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. I’ll happily collect signatures before and after the meeting. Democratic neighbors, tomorrow’s a great chance for a democracy two-fer: come sign the petitions to protect the people’s right to vote, then join the Dems’ meeting to see what else you can do for democracy. But these petitions are non-partisan: SB 69 and SB 177 threaten everyone’s ability to participate in governing this state, Independent, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, what have you. Even if you’re not interested in party politics, Thursday night at the Eagles Club will be a good chance to sign these petitions.
And you know, if you’re fired up about the third big referendum drive, started by some Aberdeen veterans to challenge the state’s redefinition of their ranks (and reported first here on Dakota Free Press), I will have a couple of those sheets in my folder as well. Bring your friends, and come sign some petitions!
Writing large its pro-corporate, anti-small-farm bias, the GOP spin blog remains silent about the hazards of bird flu until it can pin the danger on one of its preferred whipping boys, backyard chickens:
I know I’ve mentioned this every time I’ve written about it, but KELOland news is the first Mainstream Media source who is also noting that those cute chickens in your backyard who give you eggs could be bird-flu vectors [Pat Powers, “Backyard Chickens Confirmed by KELO as Bird-Flu Vectors,” Dakota War College, 2015.04.28].
Powers has a long record of opposing backyard agriculture because of his perception that increasing one’s food self-sufficiency is just some liberal fad. He dangles this KELO story—which, beyond Pat’s selective snippage, emphasizes that the threat comes from migratory birds, talks to a backyard chickeneer who suggests he can keep his birds healthy through good feeding and watering, and says turkeys are more susceptible to bird flu than chickens—as a reason to oppose backyard poultry. But as usual, Powers fails to cross-apply his logic and call for a ban on the giant turkey farms where all of the bird flu in South Dakota is taking place.
To put the problem in perspective with evidence (a phrase you’ll never hear used properly by Powers), let’s review the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service list of avian influenza outbreaks. The Pacific Northwest had a bird flu outbreak over the winter reported mostly among backyard flocks ranging in size from 30 birds to 5,830. Excluding that largest “backyard” operation, the average size of the backyard flocks affected was about 160. Urban chicken advocates in Brookings were talking about having six hens.
In the current outbreak in the Central and Mississippi regions, 69 out of 73 confirmed occurrences of bird flu have been on commercial poultry farms, almost entirely among turkeys. USDA-APHIS reports 285,900 bird flu vectors in South Dakota, all at those six commercial turkey plants. The nearest backyard outbreak confirmed so far came at a Pipestone backyard operation with 150 “mixed poultry.” The 233 backyard birds involved in this region’s current avian flu outbreak constitute 0.0026% of the 8.9 million birds affected, or 1 out of 38,000 birds.
If Powers is worried about six bird flu vectors in his neighbor’s backyard, he should be positively apoplectic at the prospect of six million bird flu vectors in the giant egg factory Peter Sonstegaard wants to build in the City of Parker’s backyard. But you won’t hear that from Pat. You won’t hear an honest discussion of animal epidemiology, sanitation on crowded corporate farms, or the fact that amidst these millions of suspect birds, not one human has caught bird flu. No, you’ll just hear hysterical misreadings of the popular press used to reassure himself and his cackling readers that their virulent hatred of things they’ve labeled liberal is perfectly healthy.
A delegation representing county commissioners and sheriffs, including several members of the Minnehaha County Commission, appeared before the board. Ken McFarland, the administrative officer for Minnehaha County, said the combination of rising costs for law enforcement and the decline in bank tax revenue point to “a train wreck coming for us.”
Property taxes aren’t keeping pace, and allowing county governments to have some sales tax revenue and some alcohol tax revenue are possible steps, McFarland said.
County funding affects every taxpayer across the state, from wealthy Minnehaha County, where the sheriff has to deal with the closest thing to big-city problems South Dakota can offer, to broke Bennett County, where the fragmented tax base can hardly pay to grade the gravel and keep the courthouse open.
Apparently the Legislature can’t address one serious problem without also taking up one fake problem bubbling up from its own warped and fetid prejudice. The Executive Board voted yesterday to conduct a study of the South Dakota High School Activities Association’s rule-making authority.
There is no profound problem with the SDHSAA’s rule-making authority. Our K-12 schools form an organization, governed by school administrators and school board members, that sets the rules for sports and fine arts activities. Our schools manage their own extracurricular activities with little difficulty or intrusion of the Legislature’s partisan politics.
That’s what’s happening with this summer study. The Legislature isn’t studying a major problem. The Legislature is practicing procedural extortion: Repeal the transgender policy, or we’ll propose all sorts of legislation to take away your control over your own activities. The Legislature will grab the last annual audit of the SDHSAA and blow the errors found out of proportion into proposals that far exceed any changes the Legislature felt necessary in the wake of the far larger sins discovered in the 2014 audit of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
The Legislature already commits serial abuse against our schools by throttling their funding. Now the Legislature wants to kick around our schools’ authority to govern their own extracurriculars. The Legislature makes time for this enhanced abuse by ignoring other genuine problems to which it could dedicate some problem-solving energy like…
studying the immediate impacts of its new $85-million road tax bill and the 80-mph speed limit;
looking for legislative policies that could support workforce development (Senators Sutton and Parsley advocated for exactly that, but the Republican majority said workforce issues don’t warrant their attention);
conducting formal Legislative hearings on each Indian reservation to talk about serious proposals to support white-tribal reconciliation.
I look forward to the formal interim hearings on county funding and the practical solutions that may arise. I dread the repetition of uninformed paranoia and ill-disguised prejudice and bullying that will come from the SDHSAA rule-making summer study.
“I was initially very attracted to DSU because of the university’s strength in high-tech and informatics programs, combined with depth and breadth in business, education, liberal arts, math and the sciences. DSU is a dynamic and innovative institution, well positioned for leadership in this 21st Century era of remarkable change,” she said.
While the university’s strength was a draw for Griffiths, it was on the community tour that “I fell in love with the place.”
Griffiths and husband Donald King were shown the new hospital and area businesses. They loved the wide streets and the lovely prairie, she said, but having always lived near water, “It was the lakes that did it” [Jane Utecht, “Griffiths Will Be Next DSU President,” Madison Daily Leader, 2015.04.27].
Keep those lakes clean—they are Madison’s strongest recruitment tool.
And in a sign of the coming matriarchy, Jane Utecht writes the local press celebrating Griffiths’s (drat! Another name ending in s, confounding my possessives!) hiring, the first three people quoted—DSU facility worker Roxie Draper, DSU physics prof Barbara Szczerbinska, and local economic development chief Julie Gross—are all women. A couple guys get to talk in the bottom half of the article.
A group calling itself South Dakota Veterans for Veterans has filed the papers necessary to begin a petition drive to refer House Bill 1179 to a public vote. Here’s the header of their referendum petition:
House Bill 1179, proposed by freshman District 8 Representative and Marine Corps veteran Mathew Wollmann, expands South Dakota’s legal definition of veteran for the purpose of determining eligibility for certain state benefits. Here is the bill’s full text (remember: overstrike marks language deleted from current statute; underline marks language added)
Section 1. That § 33A-2-1 be amended to read as follows:
33A-2-1. For the purposes of all statutes relating to rights, privileges, ceremonial recognition, exemptions, and benefits (except a state bonus) of veterans and their dependents, the term, veteran, means any person who:
Has served on continuous federalized active military duty for a period of at least ninety days for reasons other than trainingthe full obligation for active duty, reserve, or National Guard service in the military, or received an early discharge for a medical condition, hardship, reduction in force, or at the convenience of the military; and
Has been separated or discharged from such service honorably or under honorable conditions.
For purposes of this section, the term, benefits, includes veterans designation on a driver license or identification card, veterans license plates, veterans job preference, and burial benefits pursuant to §§ 33A-5-2 and 33A-5-3. [House Bill 1179, signed by Governor Dennis Daugaard 2015.03.10]
One Aberdeen veteran I have spoken to says he’s not as bent out of shape about admitting contemporary National Guard members to veterans’ club in South Dakota. He’s more concerned that HB 1179 opens the door for Vietnam-era Guardsmen who, unlike today’s Guards, enlisted in the Guard specifically to avoid the draft and the prospect of overseas deployment.
A fact sheet prepared by South Dakota Veterans for Veterans further argues that Rep. Wollmann’s bill entails costs to taxpayers that went unmentioned during the Legislature’s consideration of HB 1179:
We do not know what the cost will be yet because the legislature did not look into what the cost would be. We do know that there will be costs associated with the bill though since the state burial benefit was provided to the new veterans. Larry Zimmerman the SD Secretary of Veterans Affairs… went on record saying “This bill is not gonna cost your state anything.” Does Secretary Zimmerman really think that there will be no cost by making 25,000 eligible for benefits? [South Dakota Veterans for Veterans, information sheet, obtained by Dakota Free Press 2015.04.27]
Among the potential costs, South Dakota Veterans for Veterans cites the cost of supporting members of this new group of veterans who seek admission to the State Veterans’ Home. This year’s Senate Bill 34 changed the law to reduce eligibility requirements for admission to the Hot Springs facility to satisfaction of the state’s definition of veteran in SDCL 33A-2-1, the statute changed by HB 1179. South Dakota Veterans for Veterans contends the state will face more costs from admitting these new veterans.
Theodore Fowler, a Vietnam-era U.S. Army veteran and one of the organizers of this referendum drive, made news recently by participating in the April 9 protest against HB 1179 at a Northern State University event where Governor Daugaard was speaking. Governor Daugaard dodged Fowler and his fellow veterans. Fowler told the press at the time that he and several other veterans wanted to put HB 1179 to a vote. I visited with Fowler and explained the tight timeframe for referring legislation. Fowler and his veteran friends mobilized, and today Fowler announced that the Secretary of State has approved the HB 1179 petition and greenlighted circulation. Counting tonight, South Dakota Veterans for Veterans thus have 64 days to collect 13,871 signatures.
Fowler and friends are working to make up for lost circulation time. If you are interested in helping circulate this petition and put the definition of veteran to a public vote, call Fowler at 605-229-4757.
The Public Utilities Commission just did opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline a favor. At the request of Dakota Rural Action and four South Dakota tribes (you know, real South Dakotans, the ones who elect the PUC, the folks who will have to live with the consequences of a tar sands oil pipeline in their backyard), the PUC has postponed its evidentiary hearing on reauthorizing Transcanada’s permit to build the pipeline across western South Dakota. Originally scheduled to start on next week Tuesday, May 5, the Keystone XL hearing will take place later this summer, perhaps sometime in late July.
One opponent says that this delay is vital, since Transcanada is up to its usual tactics of withholding requested discovery documents until the last possible moment, then dumping huge quantities of documents on opponents to sift through on deadline. This extension gives intervenors a chance to separate the oil from the grit and fully prepare their case for the PUC
Here’s the press release from Dakota Rural Action:
The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission has granted a request to delay the Keystone XL Pipeline certification hearings until later this summer.
Late last week several parties, including Dakota Rural Action and all four intervening South Dakota tribes, filed a joint motion to continue the hearing, originally scheduled to begin next week. The parties argued the schedule set by the Public Utilities Commission was too tight and did not allow for due process.
John Harter, Dakota Rural Action member and landowner crossed by Keystone XL:
“I pointed out the issues with the hearing timeline back when they set the schedule. I’m out working my cattle 16 hours a day; May was the worst time for a hearing. Later this summer is what the schedule should have been in the first place. It was a judicious decision to move the hearing back so that the poeple can have their day in court against Keystone XL” [Dakota Rural Action, press release, 2015.04.27].
Intervenors, you’ve got your extension; now make the most of it. Protesters, keep recruiting and rallying, and get ready to fill the seats and streets in Pierre this summer.
According to mad (and I use that in both senses of the word) man McCarthy, Lynch is “an Attorney General who won’t uphold the Constitution.” This, of course, is the completely crazed ranting of a committed ideologue who reads the Constitution as a document suited to his peculiar predilections, whatever they are, not as an organic body of ideas and principles that needs constant re-interpretation by a society that persists in the process of becoming. McCarthy’s inflexible obsession with a document that must be adhered to as he sees fit makes his fist-shaking rage against the Republican machine predictable and cloying. I suppose there are some self-styled committed Constitutionalists in South Dakota who go along with this solipsistic nuttiness, but for the most part, Republicans that I know here tend to be pragmatically, not ideologically, driven [John Tsitrian, “This Is Rich. The National Review Just Called Thune and Rounds Supporters ‘Saps’,” The Constant Commoner, 2015.04.26].
On pure parliamentary grounds, I can see the daylight between voting to end debate and voting on the issue at hand. Responsible lawmakers should be able to recognize when debate should end and an issue should receive a vote.
However, I am willing to let stand McCarthy’s criticism of Thune and Rounds supporters as “saps.” Thune and Rounds run on conservative Republican slogans about smaller government and individual liberty that disappear in their support for the military-industrial complex and other favors to their corporate pals that degrade our individual liberties.