The Mitchell City Council last night turned down an ordinance that would have allowed Cassandra Bundy to keep her six pet miniature pigs, because for Pete’s sake, even if you’re making bacon for the whole block, we don’t want pigs getting lose and eating the Corn Palace!
Rural residents are told that CAFOs are the future of farming. If they oppose CAFOs they are not only threatening the economic future of American farmers but are destroying the economic foundation for rural communities. In truth, CAFOs are the end of real farming in America. They are factories, not farms. They drive real farmers out of business, not because they are more economically efficient but because they have more economic and political power. They are able to manipulate market prices and garner government subsidies to mask their actual lack of ability to compete with independent family farms. There is no future for farmers in an industry dominated by CAFOs [Professor John Ikerd, “The Hidden Costs of Factory Farming,” October 2011].
As a result, Minnehaha County officials are indeed locking up fewer kids… fewer white kids:
According to Walker, in a 14-county region with a 90% white population, white kids made up 49% of the inmates at Minnehaha County’s Juvenile Detention Center in 2012. Thanks to our reforms, the white JDC population was down to 35% in 2016. But as you can see in Walker’s chart, while the number of white juvenile inmates has dropped by half, the number of American Indian juvenile inmates has bounced back to 2012 levels after some decline.
If we want to reduce incarceration equitably, it looks like we have to intervene well before we get to juvenile corrections. We need to invest in education, job opportunities, and anti-racism efforts to give every kid the same chance of having zero interaction with JDC.
Captain Jason Gearman says a witness describes the suspect as a female. Gearman says she’s 5′-11” to 6′ tall, wearing all dark clothing, carrying a milk crate with what Gearman says could have torches and she was picked up by what looked like a silver, Ford Taurus with Iowa plates.
Gearman says a hole was cut into the fence surrounding that section of pipeline but there was no damage to the pipeline itself.
I won’t cover for pseudo-enviro anarchists any more than I’ll cover for pseudo-Nazi smart alecs. Casual vandals have far easier targets to attack than isolated rural pipeline facilities. Multiple incidents along the pipeline route further support the notion that Dakota Access is the target.
But does the scant evidence support singling out environmental activists as the only group named as possible suspects? Let’s consider other plausible suspects:
ISIS: They’re everywhere, right? Isn’t it about time they figure out that the Midwest is full of soft targets?
Saudi ISIS sympathizers: Wouldn’t the Saudis have a stake in hamstringing their North American competitors?
Dakota Access: The Minnehaha County incident involved nothing but fence cut in broad daylight (1:30 p.m., according to the sheriff’s office). Another incident in Wapello County, Iowa, left a cut fence and burn marks on the pipeline but no real damage to put the public or the flow of oil at risk. Serious enviro-nuts, terrorists, or industrial saboteurs would have brought the right tools (e.g., explosives, or a big wrench) at the right time (i.e., night) to do the job right without blowing themselves up (e.g., shooting a blow torch into flammable pressurized petroleum). Cosmetic damage that gins up law enforcement surveillance serves the corporate-police complex, not the activist world.
A six-foot-tall lady carrying a milk crate of tools toward a pipeline is certainly unusual and probably up to no good. But if police are going to ascribe her actions to any possible group with motive, they should be equal-opportunity finger pointers and discuss all of the possibilities.
Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline is in full swing here in East River. The pipeline crosses Highway 19 just south of the Montrose corner. Saturday, the pipe had been laid under the road and was awaiting connection with the line on both sides of the road.
My dad looked at that standing water and said that won’t hurt that pipe any. What that pipe and its eventual 450,000 to 570,000 daily barrels of Bakken oil may do to our water is a separate question.
This section of the pipeline was Made in the USA, so surely nothing will go wrong. Of course, that burger was also Made in the USA, and it still left someone on the Michels crew dissatisfied.
Those barriers will keep the excavated dirt from washing away, but they won’t replace the corn that’s been buried.
North and west from the 19 crossing, just a couple miles west of Buffalo Trading Post on 248th Street, Michels has connected some sections of the pipeline.
Just over the hill from that crossing, folks were out boating and fishing on Island Lake. In sight of the northeastern shore is the pipeline construction route.
Up in Lake County, Dakota Access crosses 451st Avenue just north of Orland. Here Michels had to pump water out of the trench to get some work done. The water appears to have spread out beyond the construction easement onto the surrounding cropland.
Orland farmer Charlie Johnson tells me he met with Dakota Access public liaison Eric Munz to review the layout of drainage tile lines in the Orland township farmland that Dakota Access traverses. Johnson said Michels Construction had already severed one tile line and had left it unrepaired and spilling water for several weeks. Johnsons says Munz granted him and his contractor permission to review the final repairs will eventually make to severed tile lines. The next morning, public liaison Munz sent Johnson this message:
I just want to clarify a couple things about our conversation yesterday. I had explained to you that DAPL is required to restore the tile to pre-construction condition including taking measures so it does not sag or settle. I also stated they will use a tile bridge (Mad Dog Foam Bridge) and will run a scope to inspect as well as following the Aggicultural Impact Mitigation Plan which you stated you are familiar with. You and Alan questioned several times why DAPL was not willing to go beyond their legal responsibilities to “do the right thing” or be ethical in regards to the letter your attorney sent and the request to have your tile contractor approve their methods of repair. I suggested part of the reason may be due to the fact they do not agree with or believe some things to be true that you have put on social media and the fact that you oppose the pipeline. I offered to alert you as much in advance as I can of when the tile repairs will be performed and to be present at that time to document conversations between you, your tile repair contractor and the people involved in tile repair [Dakota Access Pipeline public liaison Eric Munz, e-mail to Charlie Johnson, 2016.06.21].
Translation: Dakota Access may favor some landowners with better treatment than others based on whether they support the pipeline and keep their mouths shut.
On Wednesday, June 22, Michels Construction severed Charlie Johnson’s six-inch tile line. The next morning, water was still spilling out of the cut tile line, filling the pipeline trench and inundating adjoining farmland where Johnson is trying to grow oats and alfalfa.
When Johnson heads to town, perhaps he will imagine an alternative route for Dakota Access:
As Jonathan Ellis reported last week, Marlin Schlenker is running for Minnehaha County Treasurer. His candidacy is noteworthy for multiple reasons:
Schlenker’s running against his aunt-in-law and boss, incumbent treasurer Pam Nelson.
Schlenker and his wife Sondee filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy last May to get out of $195,765.74, most of that associated with Sondee’s business, consignment shop Resale Living. Hmm… Minnehaha County, do you want a guy who couldn’t keep his own books balanced managing your public treasury?
Schlenker lives in Lincoln County—not by much, just a block south of 57th Street, the in-town county line between Lincoln and Minnehaha.
Now Schlenker’s residency doesn’t create a legal problem with running for office: no law requires the county treasurer to live in the county she or he treasures. But Minnehaha County resident Debra Elofson raised an issue to Minnehaha County Auditor Bob Litz about Schlenker’s nominating petition, on which he says he lives in Minnehaha County:
Schlenker says on his petition that he is a resident of Minnehaha County, even though neither his apartment nor his voter registration are in Minnehaha County.
In her March 29 letter to Auditor Litz, Elofson does not ask for Schlenker to be thrown off the ballot; she merely contends that Schlenker misrepresented himself to the voters and petition signers and asks Auditor Litz “how you may proceed in resolving” that misrepresentation. In an April 4 letter, Auditor Litz responds that his office cannot act on that issue with regard to the petition, because (1) the South Dakota Supreme Court has never ruled on “whether an erroneous designation of a county of current residence in the heading of an otherwise sufficient petition renders the petitions invalid, and (2) substantiating the error requires the auditor to look up from the petition and check a map:
Auditor Litz thus takes the opposite position of the Watertown City Council, which Monday rejected a petition after taking under advisement extrinsic evidence which is not apparent on the face of the petition.
But even if any interested Minnehaha County voter took the petition to court, the argument would be harder to win than, say, the convictions of Annette Bosworth and Chad Haber for false statements on petitions. Technically, Schlenker’s misrepresentation of residence does not occur in his sworn Declaration of Candidacy; it occurs above, in the nominating statement the voters are endorsing. That statement bears no notary stamp, so Schlenker can’t be busted for perjury.
But let’s back up to an election integrity position. Marlin Schlenker made a false statement on a petition to gain access to the ballot. He told voters he lives in Minnehaha County, when in fact he does not live or vote in Minnehaha County. Now sure, the very next line of the petition heading gives his actual address, and any connected petition signer could look that address up and see that it lies in Lincoln County. Interested voters can now also read the Ellis article and see Schlenker explaining that, yes, he lives in Lincoln County but he plans to move back across the border into Minnehaha Sioux Falls within the next six months. But without taking under advisement extrinsic evidence, petition signers must take the petition at face value, and on face, Marlin Schlenker’s petition opens with a false statement, made knowingly by the petitioner.
And when petitioners lie to us, we ought to be skeptical.
A lady at the Brown County Republicans’ booth at the Brown County Fair this week told me Democrats are “selling all of our rights to the government.” (Don’t ask me what that phrase literally means; it seems to translate as, “I vote R on image and emotion, but I need to pile some words together to make me sound thoughtful.”)
A Lincoln County judge is denying the Dakota Access pipeline to enter private property to conduct surveys for the proposed 1,100-mile pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois. About 270 miles of the pipeline would be in eastern South Dakota.
A dozen Lincoln County landowners opposing the project asked the court to stop the company from going onto their land to survey it for the pipeline. Judge Brad Zell agreed with the landowners under South Dakota’s eminent domain laws, saying a permit would be required [Angela Kennecke, “Legal Victory for Landowners Opposed Oil Pipeline,” KELO-TV, 2015.08.13].
But Dakota Rural Action celebrates this defense of our neighbors’ property rights:
This is a great win for landowners in Lincoln County. DRA member, Lori Kunzelman had this to share about today’s hearing. “My family and I are extremely happy with Judge Zell’s ruling that South Dakota law does not allow Dakota Access, LLC access to our land before the PUC grants approval, if they even get the permit. This land was homesteaded by my great-grandfather and we are going to preserve it for future generations. We now hope the PUC understands and agrees with our concerns to protect air, water, and land of South Dakota and doesn’t allow this pipeline to destroy it” [Dakota Rural Action, press release, 2015.08.13].
Judge Zell’s ruling runs opposite Judge Mark Salter’s ruling in Minnehaha County last month in favor of Dakota Access in an identical lawsuit:
Brett Koene[c]ke, the Pierre lawyer representing Dakota Access, said the pipeline is clearly a common carrier engaged in commodity sales.
…Koene[c]ke said… the pipeline can’t even get to a place where its status could be defined as a public good or a common carrier unless it submits a route to the [Public Utilities Commission]. That could change if land surveys turn up environmental or archeological impediments to construction.
Some states have laws that specifically require a pipeline to be permitted prior to condemnation, he said, but “there is no law in this state that says you need to have a permit to use eminent domain,” Koene[c]ke said.
Salter sided with the pipeline company. The rights of landowners are important, but the PUC can’t make any further determinations about whether the project will provide a public good unless it has a complete set of facts. Those facts would include survey and route data.
The Salter–Zell disagreement reveals an interesting conundrum: Judge Salter says Dakota Access has to tromp across private land to produce the map necessary to win common carrier status and its permit, but Judge Zell says Dakota Access has to get the permit before it can use eminent domain to tromp across our land. Why conservatives would accept any private entity co-opting eminent domain escapes me, but even we accept the notion that one private actor can force another private actor to surrender property, conservatives ought to expect the government to conduct substantial due process, including a formal permit hearing from the agency with the expertise in and regulatory authority over the taking actor’s industrial activities.
Dakota Access should have to earn its PUC permit before taking our property rights through eminent domain. If they must produce a map, they should have to do so from the roadside, without infringing on the rights of landowners who refuse to surrender to Big Oil’s predations.
Rep. Mark Mickelson (R-13/Sioux Falls) thinks South Dakota needs more confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). He pushed legislation, HB 1201, that took effect yesterday making it easier for CAFOs to get approval from county commissions. Mickelson’s HB 1201 supports his GOP leadership’s agenda of promoting more big corporate farming. The Minnehaha County Commission just last week approved a 999-head CAFO three miles from Hartford and maybe ten miles from the Big Sioux River.
Meanwhile, Sioux Falls is planning to spend over a million dollars to pay farmers to keep their livestock from pooping in the river while School of Mines researchers study just how much of the E. coli in the Big Sioux is bad for humans. In its latest round of water testing, Dakota Water Watch found E. coli levels exceeding safety standards in the water at four state recreation areas in the Big Sioux watershed: Palisades State Park near Garretson, Big Sioux Rec Area near Brandon, Newton Hills State Park near Canton, and Good Earth State Park near Canton.
Ag United wants you to know that the Minnehaha County Commission is hearing appeals on two Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) tomorrow, Tuesday, June 16:
The Minnehaha County Commissioners will be hearing two appeals on CAFO permits next Tuesday, June 16th. Both CAFOs were approved unanimously by the Minnehaha County Planning & Zoning board on May 18, 2015 under the recommendation of the Minnehaha County Planning & Zoning staff.
Both of these CAFOs are being appealed by neighbors who are concerned about the impact these facilities will have on their neighborhoods. The location of both facilities are in an ag zoned area of Minnehaha County.
The first appeal will be a Class C CAFO (up to 499 Animal Units) was granted to Wyatt Sunvold. This facility is a calf raising barn located north of Brandon.The second appeal is a Class B CAFO (up to 1,250 AU) was granted to Seldon and Brenda Lacey. This facility is also a calf raising facility.
Both farms are currently raising calves. Their new facilities will be designed by professional engineers to the standards set forth by the South Dakota DENR.
The appeal will be heard at 9:00 am on Tuesday, June 16th at the Minnehaha County Administration Building. It is important for stakeholders in South Dakota animal agriculture show up at the hearing to support these two families. We realize that everyone is busy, but please take a few hours to come out and support these two families next Tuesday.
Also, the Minnehaha County Commissioner are expected to hear an appeal on a 500 cow dairy that was granted a permit in April on June 23rd [Ag United, e-mail, 2015.06.12].
Ag United would like to stack the audience with supporters of industrial agriculture. But I’m sure as good neighbors, they won’t mind if South Dakotans with a different view of the respectful and healthy use of our natural resources come occupy a few seats.