Press "Enter" to skip to content

Top Ten Stories of 2017: The Dakota Free Press Wish List!

Ah, memories! Here are my past Top Ten Wish Lists:

2016 2011
2015 2010
2014  2009
2013: no list! Distracted by trip to France! 2008
2012  2007

Every year, I make a Top Ten List of stories I’d like to blog in the coming year. Every now and then, one or two come close to true, like 5/8 of my wish on the ballot measures (dang! remind me to have that 2018 Election Night party at Red Rooster!) and to see Chuck Brennan abandon Sioux Falls in a fit of pique (16 minutes after 2016—worth the wait!). But Schreck for Senate? Hawks for House? Chaos in the SDGOP? Alas, no such luck.

But hope springs eternal—that’s how we liberals survive South Dakota winters… and South Dakota! So here’s my tenth great blog wish list: the Top Ten Stories of 2017!

1. Public Outcry Deters Legislature from Restricting Ballot Measures (Pierre, February 16, 2017): In a packed committee room, Senators today killed three measures aimed at limiting the people’s power to put measures on the ballot. 21 South Dakotans testified against each bill. Over two hundred more activists filled the hearing room and the hall outside, sporting bright red pins with white letters reading, “…the People Rule!” “Legislators are finally figuring it out,” said Senator Stace Nelson (R-19/Fulton), who spoke to the pro-democracy protestors in the Rotunda before the hearing. “We work for the people, and we must respect their will.”

Dakota Free Press Wish List 20172. Governor Daugaard Calls off Special Session as Acting President Pence Raises Debt Ceiling (Pierre, March 27, 2017): Lawmakers enjoyed a relatively quiet Veto Day in Pierre as Governor Daugaard called off the special session he had planned to fix the state budget. Last week, the Governor had announced that he would reconvene the legislators immediately after they gaveled out after considering vetoes in order to take up emergency appropriations and contingency plans for the FY2018 budget after President Trump refused to sign debt ceiling legislation, bringing all federally funded activities to a halt. After invoking the 25th Amendment last Wednesday, Acting President Pence immediately signed the debt ceiling increase and the continuing spending resolution for the remainder of the federal fiscal year. “Federal funding makes up 36% of our state budget,” Governor Daugaard said. “We’re counting on Acting President Pence to remain in the White House and avert any further fiscal chaos.”

3. Aberdeen Book Store Expanding (Aberdeen, May 11, 2017): The Corner Book Shoppe owner Elizabeth Svensen announced she is doubling the size of her State Street store. “We’ve been saving for 14 years for this expansion,” said Svensen. “And that whole debacle in Washington has inspired people to start thinking and reading again. Books are back in style!” Svensen says two new rooms and a twelve-slot parking lot will be built on the lot south of the current store and ready for use by November 1.

4. Mercer Surfaces in Cuba, Begins Tell-All Political Memoir Online (Havana, June 6, 2017): After a reported health scare and disappearance from public view last December, veteran political reporter Bob Mercer has surfaced in Havana. “I saw the writing on the wall… and the wall on the writing,” said Mercer in an interview at La Bodeguita del Medio. “I didn’t want to take my chances with a Trump White House undoing the First Amendment. I faked that illness, went underground for a few weeks, and found my way here to Havana. Now I can finally write everything I know about EB-5, GEAR UP, and the rest of South Dakota’s scandals on my blog!”

5. EB-5 Meets Trumpgate (Aberdeen, July 5, 2017): In a trial-stopping bombshell, South Dakota’s former EB-5 czar Joop Bollen has released documents showing EB-5 visa investments may have been illegally transferred to Donald Trump. A December 3, 2007, letter in the Bollen document dump shows Trump instructing South Dakota economic development officials to “wire my money to UH,” which appears to be an abbreviation for Ultracare Holdings, a Cyprus-based, Russian-owned firm that received $1.7 million from EB-5 financed Northern Beef Packers in December 2007, January 2008, and April 2008. Other Trump firms in Cyprus are among the entities implicated in charges of money-laundering and tax evasion against the former President and several former Cabinet members.

6. Dakota Access Pipe Transferred to Borehole Research Site (Philip, August 1, 2017): Thirty rail cars carrying reclaimed steel sections of the canceled Dakota Access Pipeline rolled into Philip today. Last spring, the federal government seized the buried pipe amid claims of environmental violations and fraud by Energy Transfer Partners. As part of its bankruptcy settlement, ETP was required to liquidate remaining assets to fund removal of the almost completed pipeline and restoration of land along the pipeline route. The 450 sections of pipe delivered to Philip will be used to stabilize boreholes being drilled in Haakon County to test nuclear-waste disposal technology.

7. Transgender Initiative Sponsor Abandons Petition Drive After Bathroom Boo-Boo (Rapid City, August 23, 2017): Jack Heyd has ended his effort to place a transgender bathroom bill on the 2018 ballot. A video of Heyd emerging from a women’s bathroom at the Central States Fair went viral Monday. The video shows two little girls chasing Heyd out of the clearly marked bathroom and whacking him with pink and blue balloon animals. “I didn’t see the sign!” said Heyd. “It was that darned eclipse!” Excuses notwithstanding, the negative publicity appears to have been too much for Heyd, whose proposal to stop schools from allowing transgender students to use the appropriate bathrooms and locker rooms has drawn little support and vigorous opposition from civil rights groups. A similar measure has failed in the Legislature two years in a row.

8. Governor Taps Hart to Recruit New Americans (Sioux Falls, October 1, 2017): Governor Dennis Daugaard appointed Clara Hart to lead his new foreign worker recruitment initiative. “Certain members of my own party are afraid of immigrants,” said the Governor. “Clara Hart is the perfect person to dispel those fears and show the world South Dakota is a great place to live and work.” “We are all immigrants,” said Hart, who came to America as a refugee in 1988. “If we want our economy to grow, we must attract more immigrants. With Trump gone, now is the perfect time to open our doors to the world and welcome our fellow women and men.”

9. SHS Waves off Gov Bid, Pledges to Help Primary Winner (Sioux Falls, December 15, 2017): Stephanie Herseth Sandlin told the Sioux Falls Democratic Forum today that she will not run for Governor in 2018. “I’m having the time of my life with my son, my husband, and my job,” said the former Congresswoman. “I don’t need a new challenge right now. Besides, the Democrats have already fielded three great candidates. Max and I will throw in big behind the primary winner and help take back Pierre in 2018.” 

10. Huether Staying Home (Sioux Falls, December 29, 2017): Mike Huether will not be on any ballot in 2018. Reversing signals he sent last year, the Sioux Falls mayor announced at a press conference this afternoon that he will not run for higher, statewide office. “The Governor’s field has all the candidates it needs,” said a downcast Huether, “and Congress? Holy cow, I don’t know what change they need, but after roasting Trump, the last thing America wants is another businessman in Washington. Now who wants to play some tennis?”


  1. Porter Lansing 2017-01-02 09:17

    five stars ✮✮✮✮✮

  2. Porter Lansing 2017-01-02 09:23

    As An Aside … in the little box with previous years “wish lists”, click on the highlighted “trip to France” and recall, relive and reimagine how far the blog has moved in four years and how little growth has been realized by some. Still the same cast with still the same negativity, positivity and disdain. he heh Pretty funny … unless you’re among the “terminally contrary”.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2017-01-02 11:24

    Thanks, Porter! Indeed, much has changed in the last four years. But my hope remains undimmed.

  4. Robert McTaggart 2017-01-02 12:06

    Jerry has already reserved the pipes in #6 for his trains. Doesn’t matter that pipes and tracks are different…he’ll make it work.

  5. Don Coyote 2017-01-02 12:49

    ““We are all immigrants,” said Hart.”

    No, not really. Many of us aren’t even descendants of immigrants. About half of the US population is descended from colonists (2/3 English and Scot colonist here) and colonists are different from immigrants. What’s the difference? For one, a colonist travels to his new land but remains a citizen of the country from which he left. The immigrant comes to an already established country with a different governmental jurisdiction from the country he left. He may even seek to become a citizen of the new country. For another, the colonist comes to the new land bringing his government, language, culture to his new home while an immigrant comes and adopts the new government, language, culture. If my English and Scot descendants were truly “immigrants”, we would most likely be speaking North American Indian languages and adopted more NA Indian culture. My wish for 2017 is that the “we are all immigrants” cliche be put to rest.

  6. jerry 2017-01-02 13:20

    Coyote nails it as the proof that we are all immigrants by shinning the light on the fact that we continually move from location to location. This is in close adaptation to Native American culture. Native American cultures moved to different locations because of sanitary and health needs as well as following food sources (jobs). Native American cultures also were keen about trade deals with other Native American territories, boundaries and people (jobs). Yes, we are all immigrants going into 2017 from eons before. Welcome all of you immigrants and thanks for your input into society. The most important “we are all immigrants” scenario is our ability to communicate across linguistic lines through a common dialect, capitalism.

  7. Clara Hart 2017-01-02 13:23

    Don Coyote
    I would like for us to have this discussion to either a college or public setting to clarify what entails as Immigrant and Colonist. Thank you for your thoughts!

  8. Porter Lansing 2017-01-02 13:27

    “We Are All Immigrants”. Even the above poster’s “colonist” ancestors were immigrants, to the Indians. His statement reeks of white privilege and ignores the valid views of others. Walk a mile in some else’s shoes, whitey.

  9. Don Coyote 2017-01-02 13:48

    @Jerry: North American Indians moving about was a characteristic of a hunter/gatherer or nomadic culture repeated countless times in the evolution of human societies. Colonists settled the land and farmed it making the transition to an intensive agricultural culture vs the rudimentary subsistence farming of a few Indian tribes. The evolution of the colonist’s society continued with the Industrial Revolution while North American tribal failed to evolve much past subsistence agriculture. While trading occurred between tribes, it too was only rudimentary bartering, not the more sophisticated trading associated with money and economic systems such as mercantilism.

    You fail. You should have paid better attention during your history classes Jerry.

  10. Porter Lansing 2017-01-02 14:07

    Don’t ever change, Coy-One. You’re a specimen, now. When young people ask about white privilege, it’s details and if it’s really real, one can simply reprint so much of what you believe. You are proof that not always are pictures better than words.

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2017-01-02 14:30

    Leave it to Coyote to stretch himself out of joint trying to refute an irrefutable fact of the American people: we are all immigrants, the descendants of people not native to this land, tenants who cannot without hypocrisy turn to newcomers and try to deny them the same opportunity our forebears had. It’s not a cliché, Coyote; it’s the truth, a fundamental truth to the nature of this nation.

    Even if I wade around in Coyote’s word game, we can argue that by revolting, the “colonists” repudiated their status as colonists. They became rebels, insurrectionists, land thieves, terrorists, something other than the semantic distinction Coyote thinks he can use to win a hair-split when he can’t win the main point.

    We all came from somewhere else. We all had our origins in leaving our homes and coming to a new, strange place. And, as my future visions of Clara Hart and Dennis Daugaard agree, our continued prosperity depends on bringing in more such adventurous strangers. (Our workers have to come from somewhere; we’re not making enough babies, and we have no motherland to send more colonists, so the Republic now really does depend on immigrants.)

  12. jerry 2017-01-02 14:32

    You know coyote, I see where you are coming from by not calling yourself an immigrant, you are really an alien. There, that takes care of that.

    In what little historical events documented by Norsemen, Portuguese and then Spanish seems to indicate a kind of surprise by the way agriculture was done by Native Americans on the Eastern seaboard (which is really not a wooden board). The facts that your immigrant folks would have starved to death without agriculture practices that are still utilized today, is a sad state of your lack of history coyote. Here is a clue for you, The American holiday, Thanksgiving. This was not about a couple of English Scott mixes making a buffet dinner for their crew.

    Regarding trading, by nomadic tribes, I would point out the Nez Perce for an intellectual breeding program that was every bit as sophisticated as was found in Western Europe. The trading was much more than rudimentary coyote, it was thriving. Turquoise, silver and gold were traded for many other valuable items for the times. Food stocks from indigenous crops grown by the Mandan were traded for other items of necessity. Where do you think corn came from? Squash and beans, the same?

    BTW, have you ever eaten English food? How about Haggis? No wonder your people wanted to get out of a place that boils everything and then boil it again. Do you know what they call an English/Scottish restaurant? Non existent

  13. Darin Larson 2017-01-02 14:53

    Coyote, if you are only 2/3 colonist, then you owe your very existence to immigrants. Thanks for illustrating the importance of immigration on a personal level!

  14. Donald Pay 2017-01-02 17:29

    Re #6: The elite haven’t deigned to let the peons know anything specific about how the borehole is going to be constructed. That is supposed to be disclosed in the proposal, which, of course, you and I are not allowed to see. I attempted to obtain this information from the Department of Energy under the Freedom of Information Act, but they refused to release any information. Just based on what is in past schematic drawings, there are some casings shown only in the upper portions of the borehole. Once the drilling hits crystalline rock, the schematics would suggest there is no casing, but that could be wrong. Clearly they want to do various testing on the crystalline rock, so casing would not be a great thing at those points. Just skimming the information, it doesn’t say what the casing is to be made of other than providing some dimensions. I expect it would be just standard casing used for any sort of drilling. It is unlikely that the steel pipes for an oil pipeline would be adequate.

    I know you were trying to be semi-witty with your post, but this is serious stuff. None of us have access to the information provided to the DOE, yet we have DENR, the Governor and local governments signing off on the project as if they actually knew anything about it. Do they have all this information? Why haven’t they released it? Why not let the peons in on it? Or have they given “consent” without knowing exactly what they have given “consent” to? Either way, this is a piss poor way of treating citizens.

  15. mike from iowa 2017-01-02 18:04

    Well, Donald- if Drumpf can claim to be well versed in hacking, Dakota’s wingnuts can claim to be well versed in boring. To the point of exhaustion.

  16. grudznick 2017-01-02 18:14

    Mr. Pay, isn’t it likely that the Governor and the Department of Environments already has that information? It is bad that the Energy Department thumbs their nose at you but gives it to the Governor when he asks. You should try to do one of those freedom requests to your old friends at the state, or find an inside mole who could leak it to you.

  17. Donald Pay 2017-01-02 20:59


    It will all come out eventually. If DOE chooses the SD proposal, I assume there will be opportunities for discovery and having DENR officials testify at hearings, assuming they don’t try ignore state law. DENR is already on record indicating they made an initial determination regarding what permits were required based on oral communication between Kenner at RESPEC. That’s an unprofessional and an illegal way to go about regulating, and I’m inclined to think what DENR provided to RESPEC was just some public relations document ordered by the Governor, but official determinations. So, if they have information, they could simply provide some notice that it is available. There is no need to make citizens engage in some kabuki dance. Honesty is the best policy.

  18. grudznick 2017-01-02 21:41

    There has to be a disgruntled employee or two that knows and could be convinced to blab the beans. If you called the Department of Environments and just asked to talk to the personnel office you could probably ask for a list of the most recently fired. Then contact those people. They will know who is still inside who has access to the data you seek.

  19. Donald Pay 2017-01-02 21:55


    I delegate this job to you.

  20. grudznick 2017-01-02 21:57

    You are a good leader, Mr. Pay. I will let you know what I find out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.