South Dakota’s last quarter was a slowdown from our year-long pace. Throughout 2016, our GDP grew at 1.7%, tops among our adjoining states and slightly better than the flaccid national rate of 1.5%:
Industries driving the most growth were information services; professional, scientific, and technical services, and health care and social assistance. The big sinkers—North Dakota, Alaska, and Wyoming—went negative largely because of weakness in mining; however, mining grew 5.2% in the fourth quarter, explaining North Dakota’s year-end rebound over South Dakota.
Interestingly, agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting provided the single largest chunk of 2016 GDP growth for South Dakota, followed by health care and construction. Our sandbags for the year were manufacturing and mining:
With the forum overseen by Trinity Episcopal Church Rev. Portia Corbin and First Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC) Rev. Carl Kline and attended by about two dozen members of the public, Fathi Halaweish, a representative from the Brookings Islamic Center and a 20-year chemistry and biochemistry instructor at South Dakota State University who originates from Egypt, led a 75-minute discussion about his faith and sought to dispel negative perceptions surrounding it.
…Kline also maintained that Christian-majority societies could seek better understanding with the Islamic faith by extending invitations to Muslims within their communities and allow them to share their experiences and beliefs.
Student: With Gov. Daugaard’s time coming to a close, who do you think is most likely to be the next governor of South Dakota?
Thune: The next governor of South Dakota? Well, I don’t want to jinx anyone by saying who I predict will win. There are a lot of good candidates out there. There are already a few good Republicans who have put their name out there. I don’t know if there is a Democrat out there yet. I am sure there will be. It is kind of a year where with the open seat it will be a very competitive race. I don’t think that anyone at this point has the inside track. I think you have to assume in our state, that unless something goes terribly wrong, the Republican nominee has a built in advantage. That said, good Democrats in South Dakota can get elected. That has been proven in the past, particularly in the federal races. If a good Democrat is nominated it will be a competitive race. In terms of the Republican primary, we have a couple of top tier candidates, and I assume there will be a few more who put their name in the ring [Senator John Thune, transcript, Q&A with Yankton High School students, 2017.05.12].
I’m sure there’s some trick there in Thune’s use of the words good and Democrat in the same sentence. But for now, let’s take our senior Senator at his word and keep an eye out for that competitive nominee.
Let’s also be patient. The primary is more than a year away. Let Thune and everyone else wonder….
So for the five of you readers who care about this tiff, let us turn to Powers’s Wednesday post (the only thing he wrote that day) responding to my analysis of the McGovern Day muddle and my recommendation that South Dakota Democrats focus on grassroots activism rather than further internal power struggles. What you’ll find, if you bother (and I really don’t recommend bothering, even though I’m about to), is that, much like what happens when Trump opens his mouth, Powers’s critiques of me are really exercises in Republican projection of their own insecurity and shame.
First, pictures. Powers keeps running a picture of me borrowed from KELO-TV in 2001. Powers seems to find this photo unflattering. He could more accurately portray my fall from youthful beauty by updating his photo box with any number of recent, publicly available photos:
Heck, even the fall 2016 photo he ran of me on my campaign bike to great chortlage and mockery more accurately depicts me in my current state than his old TV file photo:
But old photos are par for the course for Pat and his GOP pals. How old is Senator Mike Rounds’s Twitter profile photo?
Now to the headline: “Democrat Mouthpiece Finally Breaks News Blackout on Failed Democrat Party Revolt.”
The adjective is Democratic. Responsible writers do not write Democrat Party any more than they would Republic Party.
“News Blackout”? This from a Republican political blogger who, according to his own search engine, hasn’t mentioned the Republican President since March 20. When information about the snap election push became public, I discussed it a fair amount on these pages, because I wanted to offer analysis that people on all sides of the tussle could use to make their decisions. When that push failed, I took eleven days to talk to Democrats who attended McGovern Day, to read other responses, and to think about the next best course of action for the party. That’s not a news blackout; that’s thoughtful deliberation.
For someone who pretends to understand me, Pat Powers really doesn’t know me at all. Ann Tornberg has known me for 30 years. If she has an “inner circle”, she has yet to place me in it. But Ann can tell you, as can anyone else who knows me, that I have never really given a hoot about getting into anyone’s “inner circle”. Unlike Pat Powers, whose entire blogging career reads like one long fawning to atone for his past political gaffes and get back into the good graces of the Republican rich and powerful, I am my own man. I appreciate my friends, I respect their trust, but I do not chase favor. I report facts, I analyze and opine, and I let others throw whichever chips, poker or buffalo, they see fit.
That Article VII of the Constitution of South Dakota be amended by adding thereto NEW SECTION to read as follows:
§ 4. Open Primaries. An open primary election shall be held prior to the general election to nominate candidates for all members of the legislature, members of either house of Congress and the office of Governor. The primary election shall be open to all registered voters. A registered voter may vote in the primary election for any candidate. The two candidates who receive the most votes in the open primary are the nominees for each office. If more than one candidate is to be elected to an office, the number of nominees shall be twice the number to be elected [Open Primaries South Dakota, draft amendment text, submitted to LRC 2017.04.27].
As we can see, this new amendment is not Amendment V, the open non-partisan primary proposal that failed to pass muster with voters in 2016. Kirby tells me his coalition, which includes many figures involved in the V campaign, are going for transparency, both in sharing the text with the press and in the mechanics of the amendment itself. Opponents of Amendment V portrayed its removal of party labels from the ballot as an attempt to hide information from the public. That portrayal was wrong, but Kirby and friends decided to drop that less popular element of V and focus on ensuring that every voter can participate in the primary.
Like Amendment C, this open primary amendment does require that all candidates for the specified offices face each other on a single primary ballot. Independent candidates would no longer be able to petition their way directly to the general election ballot. Each recognized political party would no longer be guaranteed a place on the general election ballot. Independents, Libertarians, Constitutionists, Democrats, and Republicans would all have to have their nominating petitions in by the same date (one would assume last Tuesday in March, no longer last Tuesday in April for Independents) and take their best shot at placing second on the first Tuesday in June.
Kirby says he has talked to at least one Republican who says he opposed V but can get behind this new amendment to open the primaries now that it doesn’t strip party labels from the ballot. Kirby looks forward to talking to more voters and recruiting voters and petition circulators at informational meetings around the state, one of which is scheduled for Monday, May 15, at noon at the Rapid City Public Library.
If the LRC takes its full 15 days to respond to Kirby’s group (hey! 15 days from April 27 is tomorrow, May 12!) and if the Attorney General then takes his fullest sweet time reviewing the amendment and writing his explanation, the open-primary amendment petition could be available for circulation on July 11.
Walsh said all the crude oil was recovered through absorbent materials and was contained in drums, then put back into the line. Dakota Access was responsible for cleaning up the spill, which it has done, he said.
The state will not fine or issue a citation against the company since the spill was reported and cleaned up within the required time frame, Walsh said.
The spilled crude oil, which is roughly equal to two barrels, is a very small amount compared to the 470,000 barrels of crude oil the pipeline is designed to carry in a day.
Two barrels isn’t much, but apparently this leak comes before Texas pipeliner Energy Transfer Partners fills the line starts pumping 470,000 barrels a day by June 1. Two barrels is also a trickle compared to the 4,800 barrels Energy Transfer Partners and its Dakota Access collaborators have spilled in the last couple years on other projects:
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade, which is fighting a sister pipeline to Dakota Access there, together with Disastermap.net, studied 2015 and 2016 data from the National Response Center, the federal agency that tracks the discharge of oil, chemicals, and other pollutants into the environment.
Energy Transfer and Sunoco were involved in 69 incidents — including 35 pipeline accidents — over the two-year period, the analysis found. The accidents caused eight injuries and $300,000 in damage, the report found.
“It is a pretty sobering experience to go through these spreadsheets,” said Anne Rolfes, founding director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, an environmental group. “To sift through all these pages really gives you an idea of the destruction” [Kevin Hardy, “Spills Plague Dakota Access Pipeline Builders, Environmental Groups Find,” Des Moines Register, 2017.02.06].
A December report from third-party inspector Keitu Engineers and Consultants Inc. identified 83 sites along the 380-mile (610-kilometer) pipeline corridor in North Dakota where trees might have been cleared in violation of the commission’s orders. The report by analyst Dean Mostad doesn’t estimate the number of trees involved.
Granado insisted to The Associated Press that ETP didn’t violate terms of its permit. Mike Futch, ETP’s pipeline project manager in North Dakota, said in a letter to commission attorney John Schuh in March that it’s possible the company cleared the disputed areas of trees before the company and commission agreed in June 2016 how large an area could be cleared. The company submitted its tree replacement plan in April.
That plan calls for two trees to be planted for every one that was removed — a total of about 94,000 trees — and for the company to inspect them annually for three years to monitor survival rates. The PSC must approve the plan.
A law firm representing numerous landowners on Monday filed a consultant’s report that contends ETP’s tree replacement plan includes far fewer species than were removed and that a “flawed approach” to soil work could result in trees “being planted and growing well for five or ten years, then dying” [Blake Nicholson, “Dakota Access Pipeline Developer Involved in Tree Dispute,” AP via Bismarck Tribune, 2017.05.05].
Condition #23: “If trees are to be removed that have commercial or other value to affected landowners, Dakota Access shall compensate the landowner for the fair market value of the trees to be cleared and/or allow the landowner the right to retain ownership of the felled trees.
Condition #37: “To facilitate periodic aerial patrol pipeline leak surveys during operation of the facilities: in wetland and riparian areas, a minimum corridor of 30 feet centered on the pipeline centerline (15 feet on either side), shall be maintained in an herbaceous state. Trees within the corridor greater than 15 feet in height may be selectively cut and removed from the permanent right-of-way.”
Joe Kirby and De Knudson are telling the press about their intention to bring another open primaries amendment to a public vote in 2018:
Joe Kirby, chairman of the group proposing the constitutional amendment, said it would apply to primaries including those for the state Legislature, governor and congressional offices.
For example, in a gubernatorial race under the plan, there would be an open primary in which the top two vote-getters would advance to the general election.
…“It’s awful simple. It’s all about fairness,” said Kirby, who lives in Sioux Falls. “Our slogan is: ‘Let all voters vote.’”
…Knudson, a former Sioux Falls City Council member, said that she thinks more and more people are becoming so disenchanted with bickering between political parties that the concept of open primaries is appealing to many across the country [James Nord, “South Dakota Voters May See Open Primaries Amendment in 2018,” AP via Pierre Capital Journal, 2017.05.09].
Text of the new amendment is not available yet on the Secretary of State’s ballot question page, but Nord’s report suggests the differences between Amendment V and this version 2.0 would be not including county offices in the open primary (which would seem odd, given that county races are usually less partisan than the higher races) and not stripping party labels from the ballot (although Knudson’s commentary suggests a continued animus toward party activities, so I won’t count out the non-partisan plank until I see the amendment text).
I maintain my position that, from a purely democratic perspective, open primaries are fine, since they give more voters more opportunities to vote. I recognize that political parties can serve useful purposes, but I believe that parties can still perform their functions within the framework of an open primary. I also continue to believe that open primaries are useful in guaranteeing a run-off election and a winner by majority.
I endorse nothing until I see the fine print, but I welcome another discussion of the merits of open primaries.
One Democrat present for the show tells me that the folks seeking to oust Tornberg had the votes but were foiled by mere procedural tricks by Tornberg and her supporters. That sounds like a weak excuse for failure to execute. “Having the votes” means having the votes to overcome an opposing minority in everything leading to the final vote, including any filibuster, motion to table, or any other foreseeable parliamentary maneuver.
Contrary to the baldly false assertion of former Democratic legislator Larry Lucas, there were plenty of Democrats in the room who felt a “shotgun election” would have been entirely appropriate. As I said to my local party leaders before McGovern Day, if someone has a plan to produce better election results for Democrats in 2018, and if the current party leadership is unwilling or unable to carry out that plan, then get out that shotgun. No personal niceties should stand in the way of good plan for doing what the party should be doing.
But the failure of the snap election push is evidence that the agitators had no such plan. One observer says one roll call vote that Saturday morning was less than 90. Two thirds—60 votes—should insulate any move from parliamentary tricks. If you can’t round up 60 Democrats to ram an agenda through a party meeting, you aren’t equipped to rally the 200,000 votes you need to win a statewide election. If you argue Ann Tornberg is ineffective and then you lose to Ann Tornberg, you lose your argument.
To whoever is circulating the petition to recall the party chair, I say, stop and redirect. A continued, extended effort to replace the party chair is at best substitutive, if not subtractive. Drop the recall and try an additive approach. Instead of directing all that energy inward, toward Democratic Central Committee members for one limited internal action, aim outward. Make recruiting calls. Go to protest marches to register voters, seek donations, and spread the Democratic message that we are on the people’s side. Take over your local county party, organize four fundraising picnics and potlucks, and get candidates in the chute for every legislative and local office on your 2018 ballot.
Forget the party chair. You don’t need a party chair to organize locally. Nobody in the Sioux Falls office is going to stop eager, earnest Democrats from raising money and running good people for office. If you really want to be state party chair, go win an election. Put some Democrats in office in 2018. Then come to the first Central Committee meeting in 2019, say, “This is how it’s done,” and the world (or at least the party) will be yours.
Like Todd Epp, I am disappointed with the outcome of McGovern Day. The party needs to make progress. Individuals promising progress showed no ability to make progress, at least not in that internal setting.
So let’s drop the internal effort. Look outward. Look to voters. Look to the 549,000 registered voters whose attention we need in 2018, not the maybe 500 wonky neighbors who care about or can even name the chairs of our state political parties.
The major conflict here is that water, established by the public trust doctrine as a public resource, has submerged private property. The public cannot use its water resources without infringing on private property. The thirteen legislators and roughly 100 citizens gathered in this NSU lecture hall are trying to figure out how to balance those competing rights.
Some speakers have referred to fair compensation for landowners. Local landowner and conservationist Bill Antonides said he’s heard $5 to $7 per acre bandied about as a range of compensation for the rights landowners lose when nature (and increased drainage) dump record-high waters on land that used to stay dry and fishers and boaters come floating above their land to play.
I wonder—is the compensation we’re talking about really a disaster payment for land taken out of production? Or is it more than that? In a way, nature through rains and floods acts as an agent of the state, of the constitution, seizing private property in a way that renders it public domain. Practical private ownership rights disappear under public water. If owners can’t practically exercise their rights, they don’t really own the property. If owners don’t own property, they shouldn’t have to pay tax on it.
So there’s our solution: When water renders land unusable, when it submerges land with publicly accessible water, government cannot levy property tax on that submerged land. We can allow flooded landowners to retain a nominal title that recognizes the owners’ right to sell their land but no right to control access. If the land dries out, landowners can block public access and resume grazing or cultivating it. The state can offer to buy flooded lands and adjoining riparian zones that appear to be staying wet forever.
Nominal title and 100% tax abatement likely would not make up for the complete loss of yearly production value. There is no way to quantify the loss of the ability to control access and not have strangers in boats floating by one’s old silo and barn.
But the public faces a loss as well. Waters are public. When geography and agriculture cause water to collect over private land, that water remains public. I can’t think of the proper price tag for ceding that public ownership to an abstract notion of property over land that is practically useless for anything other than the public’s exercise of its right to use water.
A speaker at the hearing just said there’s no way to separate the land from the water; if you control the water, you control the land. I’ll grant that point. The floods take land. The flood waters that remain are for public use. The state should pay its fair price for that taking, by no longer taxing land that over which the landowner no longer enjoys control or use. The state should perhaps creep right up to the edge of eminent domain, offering to buy out every flooded farmer for whose wetlands there now is justifiable demand for public use but allowing the diehards counting on drier decades to retain a nominal title limited to selling rights.
Whoo-hoo—the newest Dakota Free Press podcast heads to the farm to interview school board member Brian Sharp, who is running for reëlection. Sharp is the only active farmer on the school board, and he says that unique ag perspective is important in a school district that serves a large ag community outside of Aberdeen city limits and that will offer vocational agriculture classes for the first time at its A-TEC Academy next fall.
But first, Spencer and I talk about bad abortion politics causing more women to die in Texas, a Chinese company applying to dig for uranium and dump toxic water in the Black Hills, and Republicans pretending to be “inclusive.” We also talk about what we’ve learned (and what Donald Trump hasn’t) from Trump’s first 100 days in office.
Below are resources for this week’s conversation. If you like what you hear, ring that Blog Tip Jar and help us fill the Internet with more great South Dakota podcasts!