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SD Democrats Offer Reasonable Policy Solutions; Trumps Shouts for National Suicide

While Donald Trump proves his psychopathy by shouting at states to stop taking sensible precautions to protect public health (and his followers are taking his cue and putting all Americans at risk, demonstrating that even life itself isn’t as important to them about feeling like they can whatever the hell they want, just like Donald), the South Dakota Democratic Party calmly suggests policy improvements to protect South Dakotans against coronavirus and the concomitant recession. I quote their Friday afternoon press release in full, just because it’s nice to hear reasonable policy discussion instead of all-caps calls to suicide from the White House:

In the wake of nearly 650 confirmed cases of COVID-19 surrounding Sioux Falls-based Smithfield meat processing plant, state Democratic leaders request stronger mitigating measures to be taken by Governor Kristi Noem.

Over 1/2 of South Dakota’s total confirmed cases of the virus to date—now hovering at 1,311—stem from the lack of health and safety precautions revealed at the plant. And, the numbers are rising.

Sioux Falls mayor Paul TenHaken has repeatedly asked for local oversight, but Governor Noem’s executive orders have fallen short. Shelter-in-place orders currently cover only those over 65, and those with underlying health conditions living only in Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties. The order also allows these vulnerable individuals to still work in essential jobs, which could put them at further risk.

“Local control is best, and would have allowed the mayor and the county to protect our citizens locally. Rules should be in place to ensure businesses provide essential workers the safety equipment they need to do their job and stay healthy.” – Nikki Gronli, Vice Chair, SDDP

The Republican-majority state legislature was also provided the opportunity to allow counties and municipalities the ability to increase their decision-making power as early as March 30th, Legislative Veto Day. The bill didn’t receive the 2/3 number of votes needed to prevail.

Minority House leader Representative Jamie Smith states, “Democratic caucus leaders offered suggestions in a letter to the governor, to assist and minimize the effects of the virus on our state’s citizens. Although inroads were made by the governor and legislature in accepting many of the ideas, we need them to go the distance.”

Late last week, TenHaken and Noem sent Smithfield CEO Kenneth Sullivan a letter, urging him to close the plant for two weeks. Sullivan did not respond, but instead made a surprise announcement to close the plant indefinitely. The South Dakota Democratic Party hopes proactive recovery plans may be coordinated by state and local authorities.

“Moving forward, we should take more cues from union leaders, who have stepped up to not only bring the Smithfield situation to light, but also to offer protection to our valuable workforce.” – Randy Seiler, Chair, SDDP

Kooper Caraway, President of Sioux Falls AFL-CIO, oversees union representatives that assist 36 unions with 20,000 members statewide.

He states, “Governmental imposed shutdowns of facilities wouldn’t cause so much anxiety if our workers had guaranteed sick leave and paid family leave. Right now, South Dakota workers don’t have these protections; they have no guarantee other than minimum wage. Governor Noem could set an example by supporting these ‘pro-worker’ solutions.”

Many wonder what will happen to the 3700 Smithfield workers and their families, now left in turmoil. Smithfield will provide employees with two weeks of pay, and if the shutdown continues, they will need to apply for unemployment. Unfortunately, they won’t be eligible for CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) funds since Smithfield employs over 500 people.

Representative Linda Duba, District 15 Sioux Falls, raised concerns with SD Department of Labor Secretary Marcia Hultman over large company shutdowns. The Secretary ensures they have the tools needed to support employees, including those whose primary language is not English.

“This is not a partisan issue; it is a responsibility issue. We are all responsible for not only ourselves both those impacted by this virus. We can and will work with all who come ready with ideas and a positive approach to slowing the spread and lifting up our fellow South Dakotans,” states Linda.

There are thousands of South Dakotans whose lives will be forever changed by this virus, whether it be physical, mental or financial. Governor Noem can help remedy the situation by issuing shelter-in-place orders for all in the Sioux Falls area, and offer strict guidelines to businesses and industries serving in essential capacities.

Taking her authority one step further, Governor Noem should consider an Executive Order to expand Medicaid in the state of South Dakota. She can also suggest tapping into state budget reserves to expand mental health services, educate or re-train workers, and create new sustainably-based jobs.

Medicaid expansion would provide health care not only for the estimated 55,000 individuals prior to COVID-19, but also for individuals and their families now put in precarious situations due to the virus. South Dakota is one of only 14 states that haven’t taken advantage of Medicaid expansion.

The framework for South Dakota’s economy has been weakened the last many months. Everyone will struggle, at their level of vulnerability. Unemployment payments, Medicaid expansion, and use of South Dakota’s state budget reserves would go a long way toward a concerted recovery effort.

“Working in a non-partisan way, we must utilize all the tools and resources in our toolbox to help in South Dakota’s recovery. We need all levels of leadership to work together, blurring the lines of partisanship, to create a tide that lifts all boats.” – Jamie Smith, SD House Minority Leader [South Dakota Democratic Party, press release, 2020.04.17].

America wants to be open,” whined the misleader of the free world yesterday. You know what, Donald? So do I. I want my daughter’s school to be open she and her friends don’t have struggle alone to learn all their subjects through twelve-inch screens. I want Red Rooster to be open so I can sit with friends and talk and blog in a different, bustling space for an hour or two. I want my campus to be open so students can study and play soccer and so faculty and staff can answer their questions in person. I want offices to be open so I can walk in and get information without all of us fearing that we’re going to make someone’s kids sick.

But we don’t get what we want. We have to put aside want we want and do what we need to do to save two million lives and save every hospital in the state from collapse.

Trump is talking about what he wants. South Dakota Democrats are talking about what we need.

Choose your leaders carefully. Your life literally depends on it.


  1. Debbo 2020-04-17 18:46

    The protests are astroturf publicity stunts financed by the usual GOP suspects. Per the GOP’s normal priorities, it’s $ before people every time, especially when the people are not them.

  2. Loren 2020-04-17 18:59

    And what’s with the trucker hat and blue jeans for a serious press conference? She looks like she just came from the barn. Maybe that’s what S. Dakotans like in a governor. Just like Twump, it’s all about HER image… I guess.

  3. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr., 2020-04-17 19:22

    Ten Haken already has “local control” rights, but he’s not using them.

    In fact, now he’s opposed to a shelter-in-place order and a “local control” mentality is why we have a president allowing 50 states to go in 50 directions:

    Notwithstanding the provisions of state law, upon the declaration of an emergency by the mayor, ordinances or resolutions may be adopted and become effective upon one reading and adoption. 1992 Code, § 2-82; Ord. 75-99, passed 7-6-1999 (2/3)

  4. jerry 2020-04-17 19:34

    Ten Haken is a goof ball that is goofing on the rest of us. He has no intention of closing down Sioux Falls. The dude is just another trumpian republican, so you know where he is coming from. Ten Haken just hopes it will all disappear like his boy trump said it would do in April.

  5. Obeserver 2020-04-17 21:20

    Is Trump “Riot Boosting?”

  6. o 2020-04-17 22:01

    Debbo, AlterNet had a wonderful piece about giving the billionaires what they want. Start by abolishing the federal income tax which really is nothing more than wealth redistribution from blue states to red state takers. Let blue sites make compacts for insurance and union/labor rights . . . Let blue be blue and red be red. How will GOP governance focused on worship of the wealthy and disdain for their population play out?

  7. Debbo 2020-04-18 01:22

    Visual Capitalist has charts that let us see what the US job losses look like. I found them very helpful.

  8. Debbo 2020-04-18 01:22

    O, I’m about ready to say, okay let’s do it. Then we can really say, if you don’t like it, leave. The self-centered, non-discerning idiots who protested in Minnesota today can trade places with you smart South Dakotans. You’ll be welcomed.

  9. Richard Schriever 2020-04-18 07:59

    Any of those states have the anti “riot boosting” laws in place? If so, Trump and the organizations he is using to PAY and otherwise “support” these folks to “protest” should be headed for jail and a big fine. No?

  10. Richard Schriever 2020-04-18 08:07

    o – I like it. Reminds me of how my mother taught me to NOT like whisky.

  11. jerry 2020-04-18 08:34

    Good point Mr. Schriever, who would’ve thunk it that that rule could be a money maker to shut down the right wing danger.

  12. jerry 2020-04-18 08:49

    Debbo, the president just incited a revolution. The republican party has slipped into the medically induced coma that normally comes from the Covid-19, there’s is self induced.
    A very good read.

    “President Donald Trump incited insurrection Friday against the duly-elected governors of the states of Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia. Just a day after issuing guidance for reopening America that clearly deferred decision-making to state officials – as it must under our constitutional order – the president undercut his own guidance by calling for criminal acts against the governors for not opening fast enough.

    Trump tweeted “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” followed immediately by “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and then “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!” This follows Wednesday’s demonstration in Michigan, in which armed protesters surrounded the state Capitol in Lansing chanting “Lock her up!” in reference to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and “We will not comply,” in reference to her extension of the state’s coronavirus-related stay-at-home order. Much smaller and less-armed groups had on Thursday protested on the state Capitol grounds in Richmond, Virginia, and outside the governor’s mansion in St. Paul, Minnesota.”

    This is treason. “the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.” GNOem is a willing participant as well.

  13. o 2020-04-18 09:57

    I think I see the GOP playbook up and running again. These re-open protesters seem to be a mix of two groups/philosophies: 1) the practical — people wanting to see local businesses survive and 2) the dogmatic — people protesting against big government overreach. This all feels like Tea Party 2.0. Just like that group, the GOP is jumping on coopting their energy (ignoring the hypocrisy of the GOP’s role in creating the very circumstance being protested) and making it a partisan bludgeon to weird against Democrats.

  14. jerry 2020-04-18 10:20

    That is trump 1.0, find a scapegoat to escape your involvement.

  15. jerry 2020-04-18 10:35

    I’m trying to wrap my head around what we’re gonna be buying and selling. How is that gonna work now? We still have tariffs and trade wars with China, the European Union, etc., along with all of the rest of the nonsense that probably got us more into this mess than was needed. Who will we sell our ag products to? Restaurants? Nope, they will be thinned out like the rest of us. Cruise ships? We have all seen how that petri dish works, it had outbreaks on them before, but this kinda makes them obsolete. Gymnasiums?, right, sports stadiums? sure, just what you need, coughing along with 50,000 other drunks.

    Without vaccines (that you force all to take) and tests (that you make everyone take) we got nothing. Those paid protesters probably have the only sure employment around and even they will have to be tested and vaccinated and neutered to keep getting their pay from the oligarchs.

  16. Buckobear 2020-04-18 12:11

    Yep. No one to make the products or supply the services and no one to buy them. Perfect.

  17. John 2020-04-18 13:37

    Exactly. If demand and supply drop by 30%, who cares? Humanity is able to get by with less production and a lower GDP.

    3 major economic crashes in less than 25 years – each leading to a socialized bailout of the either guilty or many of the complicit. (The exception being that in 2020 the small & mid-sized businesses were not complicit.)

    Here’s what’s wrong. No surprise it dates to Raygun. Private equity. PE. With socialized losses. Socialized losses on the backs of the middle and lower classes.
    Since Raygun, both political parties became different sides of the same coin. In other words electing corporate democrats and expecting a different result is insane. This is why the CARES Act provided little to no recession relief to most – politicians from both parties cared for their donors first and foremost. Note, aside, how our business schools systemically contribute to the problem or do nothing to alleviate it.

    From Professor Scott Galloway, Stern School of Business:

  18. John 2020-04-18 14:07

    On the topic of national suicide . . . consider that the Eurasia Group, Ian Bremmer, and economist Nouriel Roubini, independently claim that trump surrogates acting out threats to “good order and discipline” are leading threats to the US during and after the election if trump loses or if the election is “close”.

    See #1:

    beginning at 34:05 (both sides of the break-about 10 min):

  19. Moses6 2020-04-18 14:57

    My fellow citizens.If capitalism is so great, why do they need socialism to keep bailing them out.If you were true a true conservative ( pretend )you would take no bailouts, you would balance your state budgets with out any help from the Government.Since we are a cheap state and unable to balance the budget, low wages and really no benefits to speak of .we will be in a world of hurt with no tourism money this year .So tell me how many years it will take to get it back to normal .Of course socialism will run rampant for the next three years or so.

  20. o 2020-04-18 16:08

    John, a drop of the magnitude you raise – 30% – still allows plenty on average. I think I agree mostly with that thesis. That’s the key: that the dip can be absorbed and with a bit of belt tightening most will be OK given the enormity of total productivity. BUT, those on the lower side of prosperity cannot do with less; any just society cannot take from them. The 30% HAS to come from the top. That has to be terrifying for the billionaire class (and their stooges); their excesses may no longer be tolerated at the levels pre-pandemic.

    I would also point out that none of this rhetoric is unique from the GOP. The economy (and by this they mean the investor class profitability) has been put above preserving the environment, providing living wages and health care, access to public education . . . Even the glorification of the Second Amendment comes at the cost of people’s lives. Hypocrisy from the “pro-life” party is nothing new.

  21. mike from iowa 2020-04-18 16:14

    Seems patently obvious to little old me drumpf’s calls for open rebellion against blue state governors is an impeachable offense no one, except S fer brains wingnuts could possibly ignore.

    There is no way his words could be taken out of context. He is urging his magats to get sick, infect others and die for the cause, drumpf’s re-election and egotism.

    This is all on wingnuts, especially number 2 Marlboro Barbie and his ghoulish POS boss McCTurtlefartface. ( I use a much harder f-word to describe McCTurtle’s face on less discerning blogs.)

  22. moses6 2020-04-18 16:50

    Trumpies need ak47sat the Michigan state houseGov going up in the poles like mn

  23. o 2020-04-20 09:54

    Another piece about the problem of conservative policy: when you DO drown government in the bathtub, people die. I had posted earlier that this “Liberate (insert Democratic state here)” movement felt like Tea Party 2.0. But the more truly harmful effect of the Tea Party movement (and conservative co-opt) was steering the US on a path of inevitable harm — to be COMPLETELY unequipped to deal with disasters we KNOW will come. Albeit the worst, the covid pandemic is only the most recent in a line of catastrophes to brutalize a dogmatically unprepared US with lethal effect.

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