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Top Ten Stories of 2018: The Wish List from Dakota Free Press!

Past DFP/MT Wish Lists:
Ten years of jump-off points for alternative South Dakota futures!

2013: no list! Distracted by trip to France!

We have the Top Ten original blog stories and the Top Ten (plus 66!) most viewed DFP posts for 2017; now let’s look ahead to 2018 and the Top Ten stories I’d love to be able to report in this shiny new year!

1. Women Seize Majority in Legislature (Pierre, November 14, 2018): With the arduous Brown County recount confirming the defeat of veteran District 3 Senator Al Novstrup, women now hold majorities in both chambers of the South Dakota Legislature. Women will hold 56 of 105 seats in the 2018 Legislature, 18 in the Senate and 38 in the House.

“45 of the 51 candidates we trained won their races,” said Susan Kroger, co-organizer of LEAD South Dakota. “Our work has ushered in a new era of equality and justice in Pierre.”

Following Jenna Netherton’s resignation from the Senate to move to Crimea in July, the number of women in the Legislature was down to 20 out of 105 seats, 4 in the Senate and 16 in the House.

2. Troopers Arrest Brawlers in Capitol; Anti-Immigrant Legislation Abandoned (Pierre, February 6, 2018): Six Aberdeen residents were arrested in the State Capitol today on charges of assault and disorderly conduct. State troopers were called to the Senate State Affairs committee meeting Tuesday morning when anti-immigrant protestors attempted to storm the committee dais. The protestors had previously disrupted the hearing by shouting racial epithets and threatening witnesses and legislators, who were discussing Senate Bill 222, Senate Neal Tapio’s (R-5/Watertown) proposed state immigrant registry.

DFP Wishlist 2018

“It came to a head when Taneeza Islam stepped forward to testify against the bill,” said Senator Troy Heinert (D-26/Mission). “The contingent from Aberdeen began shouting ‘Sharia!’ and ‘Traitor!’ and worse. When the chair told them to leave, they started shoving and advancing toward us. I jumped out of my chair to protect Ms. Islam. Billie [Senator Sutton] rolled out grabbed one angry old guy who was coming toward us with his fists in the air and shouting, “Muslims go home!” The guy pulled Billie out of his wheelchair, but Billie hauled him down and made sure he didn’t get any closer.”

After troopers arrived and removed the violent protestors, the committee immediately reconvened. “Senator Tapio, shame on you,” said Senator Billie Sutton (D-21/Burke) when he moved to kill SB 222. “The disgrace that happened here today shows the dangerous hatred and violence you’ve been fomenting with this bill and your little anti-Muslim rallies around the state. This bill and this violence are un-South Dakotan. They are un-American. They are un-Christian.” Without further discussion, the committee unanimously killed SB 222.

3. China and Mexico Save Molded Fiber Glass (Aberdeen, August 2, 2018): In the latest turn in a roller-coaster year, Molded Fiber Glass announced that China Energy Investment Corp. has ordered 3,000 wind turbine blades from the Aberdeen manufacturer. The blades will head south to Mexico, where China is investing heavily in energy and manufacturing to fill the vacuum left in the chaos of U.S. withdrawal from NAFTA.

Molded Fiber Glass was expected to shut down on August 15 after fulfilling its final contract with NextEra and General Electric. Now not only will 420 workers remain on the job, but the influx of Chinese funds will require doubling the workforce and assembly line capacity.

4. Primary Drains GOP Campaign Coffers (Pierre, July 18, 2018): Bruising primary battles left South Dakota’s Republican nominees for U.S. House and governor and their challengers broke. The latest FEC reports show that primary winner Dusty Johnson and his main opponent Shantel Krebs together spent over $6 million; state campaign finance reports show Marty Jackley spent over $4 million to beat down Kristi Noem, who burned through a $5 million war chest. Johnson reported less than $5,000 cash on hand as of June 30; Jackley reported $550,000 in debt.

The last-place finisher in the Republican House primary, Neal Tapio, has not yet filed his Q2 report with the FEC. Tapio went silent on primary night and is reported to have left the country for Crimea.

5. Senate Rejects Abdallah Nomination (Pierre, January 23, 2018): The South Dakota Senate rebuffed a former member by voting 18–17 against the nomination of Gene Abdallah to the state Board of Pardons and Paroles. Abdallah’s nomination was dogged by accusations if sexual harassment and other improper behavior. However, in floor debate, more Senators cited Abdallah’s brutish public response to those allegations as evidence of a temperament ill-suited to the board.

6. Russian Money Backing Rural Islamophobic Speaker Circuit (Aberdeen, September 16, 2018): E-mails and bank statements show that Russian oligarchs closely tied to the Putin regime have poured $650 million into a shadowy network of white-supremacist organizations supporting anti-Muslim speakers and programs in rural communities around the United States, including events in Aberdeen, Sioux Falls, and Rapid City. Obtained from the newly released trove of documents from the Paul Manafort files, the evidence shows coordination between Russian billionaires and Russian intelligence operatives to sow fear and racism in rural America, with the intent of sowing discontent in the U.S. and driving U.S. foreign policy toward support for expanded Russian police and military action against Muslim populations to its south.

“This Russian connection is another example of right-wing projection,” noted Senator Amy Klobuchar. “While these groups claimed George Soros was plotting against America, they were part of a genuine Russian plot to influence American opinion and policy.”

Funding for this Islamophobic speaking circuit was a small portion of billions of Russian dollars laundered by Manafort, who is believed to be under Russian protection in Crimea.

7. Counties Form Rural Economic Diversification Coalition (Chamberlain, April 28, 2018): Thirty rural counties announced a partnership with Dakota Rural Action to promote economic diversification and revitalization. “Mark Mickelson barked up the wrong tree when he threatened to block our funding if we didn’t build his CAFOs,” said one Deuel County commissioner. “The ongoing slump in agriculture shows that we have to build our economic future on a variety of smart, sustainable enterprises.” The Rural Economic Diversification Coalition will share staff to support and recruit small businesses and promote tourism and cultural activities in rural communities. REDCo will also share staff to help county commissions and community members better understand zoning and TIF laws and resist efforts by corporate raiders to abuse those processes.

8. Governor-Elect Promises Protection of Ballot Measures (Burke, December 21, 2018): Working on the transition from his family ranch in Gregory County, Governor-Elect Billie Sutton vowed to include initiative and referendum in his busy agenda for his first Session as Governor. “We shouldn’t have to worry about this from our Democratic Senate, but I guarantee that if anyone offers a bill trying to weaken your right to vote on ballot measures, I will veto it.”

The Governor-Elect also reiterated his support for Amendment W. “The sore Republican losers are suing to overturn W, even though 58% of South Dakotans approved it. I’ve talked with Attorney General McGowan, and he assures me he will vigorously and successfully defend W from this frivolous lawsuit.”

9. Democrats Open Aberdeen Field Office (Aberdeen, August 10, 2018): Democrats celebrated the opening of their new campaign office downtown in Aberdeen this evening. “Our West River organizing office has been a great success,” said state Democratic Party exec Sam Parkinson, “providing great support and visibility for our candidates around the Black Hills and Badlands. We think we’ll enjoy similar success here, rallying lots of northeast South Dakota Democrats who’ve sat out recent elections to come back and write letters, knock on doors, and help us beat back what’s left of Trumpism.”

10. Ukrainian Border Patrol Captures Trump (Kiev, December 31, 2018): The Ukrainian foreign minister announced that Ukrainian customs and immigration officials have captured American fugitive billionaire Donald Trump. According to a Ukrainian foreign ministry release, “Customs officials noticed suspicious activity around an unflagged private yacht docked in Odessa. Upon investigating, customs agents found the fugitive Trump and a handful of his advisors and former American government officials. Many of the individuals on the yacht, including Trump, were carrying falsified immigration documents.”

Ukraine is detaining Trump and his coterie on multiple customs and immigration violations. Officials suspect Trump was attemptin to travel to Sevastopol to join other Republican allies who have fled to Russian Crimea since Trump’s resignation on July 3.


  1. bearcreekbat 2018-01-01

    What an optimist! Especially in story #10.

    I would also like to see a 2018 story on how our state legislature created and funded a mental health program for hostile and angry bloggers who come on DFP to name call, insult, spread false claims and demonize other folks. These poor bloggers really could benefit from professional counseling to help them experience happiness, enjoy life, and the psychological benefits that flow from liking and believing in fellow human beings rather continually attempting to deal with their irrational self hatred by engaging in harmful acts in the hope of convincing themselves that they are at least better than the folks they attack.

    ¡Feliz año nuevo!

  2. mike from iowa 2018-01-01

    I’d like to see a story where new Guv Sutton appoints iowa’s AG Tom Miller to actually investigate rethuglican crimes in EB-5 and the Mette case, and MCEC missing millions. And any others I’d like to see actually investigated.

  3. mike from iowa 2018-01-01

    For story 7, maybe enterprising farmers can train several hundred pigs to dig for truffles in Mickelson’s yard every day that ends in Y.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-01

    Bear, I admire your humanitarianism. Let’s start with the expansion of mental health services for the at-risk populations Tim Bjorkman identifies as a way to lower crime and incarceration. Then we can see about investing state dollars in hopes of curing the less functional members of the blogosphere. ;-)

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-01

    Mike, an outside counsel and a pig protest? Both novel concepts! Hauling a truckload of hunters to Mickelson’s swanky Sioux Falls digs could be tricky….

  6. grudznick 2018-01-01

    Mr. H, if the elder Mr. Novstrup is beaten in the races by a woman, that means this woman bested you in the primary. That would be a sad year for you, indeed.

  7. Tiffany Campbell 2018-01-01

    I love #5, but let’s hope his nomination fails in committee and never makes it to the Senate floor.

  8. Bob Newland 2018-01-01

    Suggestion for #1 story. Grudznick strangles on stupid attempt to satirize something.

  9. Debbo 2018-01-01


    I like them all. Very well done Cory.

  10. o 2018-01-01

    The headline I wake up hoping to see every morning: Private (including corporate) money banned from political campaigns, and all campaigns are equally publicly funded. As a nice addition, both political parties are dissolved. INDIVIDUALS would be forced to run on THEIR specific positions on issues While I’m at it, election seasons are limited to four weeks.

  11. Steve Hickey 2018-01-01

    The number one challenge facing the state is not harassment and gender politics in pierre, not is it GOP corruption or cronyism, or money or tech ed, school funding or factory farms or outnumbered democrats.

    The #1 challenge, nay crisis, is in the third world conditions and hopelessness within our borders.

    Surely a top ten wish list for 2018 would include one mention of something related to our number one challenge.

    Until we champion these concerns like a broken record they will continue to be ignored.

  12. Anne 2018-01-01

    Those third world conditions emanate from the same traditional attitude that lauds corruption as an entrepreneurial enterprise and sexual harassment as cronies indulging in patriotic Grand Old Partying. The single party system is the reason for shared hopelessness,

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-02

    Grudz, I write under the assumption there will be no Democratic primary in District 3.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-02

    Steve Hickey, on solving poverty and hopelessness, see DFP Bill #2018-1. And as Anne notes, getting GOP corruption and cronyism out of the way is a key part of creating a political environment in which we will see much more sincere discussion and action on the problems you say should be our #1 priority.

  15. Jenny 2018-01-02

    Well we know number one would never happen, nice to dream though. (But MN welcomes its 2nd DFL female Congressional Senator – Tina Smith! Smith also has a good shot at winning next Nov also. Go MN Senators Klobuchar and Smith) (and of course how about those Vikings winning a Super Bowl at home!)

  16. Jenny 2018-01-02

    In such a male dominated GOP party state with cowboy chauvinistic thinking and Southern style racism, the chances of Pierre ever becoming majority female is about nil. :(

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-02

    Oh ye of little faith! It could happen, Jenny… although if it happens in 2018, it won’t be a majority of progressive women. We could get 40+ eager anti-Trumpist Women’s Marchers, but we’d also have a dozen or so Lynne Disanto/Betty Olson yahoo types plus some Deb Peters establishment apologists. But give us time. South Dakota can’t stay stuck in this regressive vortex forever.

  18. Eve Fisher 2018-01-02

    All excellent – and I also really like o’s suggestion – all private money banned from political campaigns! Forever! All political campaigns equally funded by public funds, $1.00 per voting adult.

  19. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-02

    $1 per voting adult: here in District 3, that would mean $14,907 per Legislative candidate. That’s significantly less than the $19,676.79 I spent and the $28,142.76 Al Novstrup spent in 2016. Is $14.9K enough?

    And if we did all public financing, promising every candidate the same amount, would you want tougher criteria for qualifying for the ballot?

  20. Roger Cornelius 2018-01-03

    Leave it to that lunatic failed blogger from Mitchell to believe Cory’s Wish List is real.

  21. Roger Cornelius 2018-01-03

    He sure did, Cory, his reality is as bad, if not worse, than Trump.

  22. mike from iowa 2018-01-03

    Sibby tied every group in with BLM except the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Lone Ranger’s Fan Club- so far.

  23. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-03

    Well, anyone manufacturer such fantasy to make an argument he can’t make with fact is not worth my time. My joy in creating a yearly blog wishlist remains undimmed!

  24. Roger Cornelius 2018-01-04

    Sibson responds to my comments by admitting that he is a failed blogger and lunatic.

Comments are closed.