A couple weeks ago, the Governor’s Office said the issue of building a second slaughterhouse in Sioux Falls “will be decided at the local level.” But now Noem is actively denigrating the ballot question fellow Republicans have put to Sioux Falls voters to block the Wholestone Farms slaughterhouse as a “sad” anti-business measure:
Noem said other projects have pulled out of the state because of the opposition to Wholestone’s facility, which has been in the works for several years. Wholestone followed the process and got all the permits, she said.
“I think that it’s sad,” the governor said during an interview on KELO-AM radio. “You pass a ballot measure like that down here, that puts every single project we do in South Dakota in jeopardy in the future. That means every company in the state from now on knows that it can meet all the requirements, I can plan, I can do everything right, and at the last minute, one person can get mad, do a ballot petition, and end my investment and my business” [Patrick Lalley, “Noem: Vote on Future Sioux Falls Slaughterhouses Puts Projects in ‘Jeopardy’ Statewide,” Mitchell Republic, 2022.08.31].
Um, Kristi? One person doesn’t do a ballot petition. Thousands of people had to sign the petition to put the in-town slaughterhouse ban on the November ballot. And when one person—i.e., Kristi Noem—took Amendment A to court and overturned the will of the people on marijuana law, Kristi Noem expressed no sadness whatsoever.
A couple of the many people who expressed opposition to the Wholestone Farms slaughterhouse this spring have changed their minds. Noem’s campaign chairman Steve Kirby withdrew his opposition to the Wholestone Farms’ slaughterhouse last week for “confidential… personal” reasons:
Steve Kirby, a former lieutenant governor of South Dakota, Republican gubernatorial candidate and co-founder of a major private equity firm, says he “backed off” from a group that wants city officials to pause the planned construction of a pork processing plant in northeast Sioux Falls.
“I have some confidential reasons, personal to me, that caused me to revisit my support,” Kirby said in an interview Wednesday, Aug. 24, with Forum News Service. “That’s why I’m no longer part of it.”
He declined to elaborate further or comment on the broader issue of slaughterhouses in the city limits, a question that Sioux Falls voters will decide in November.
“I’ve actually stopped thinking about it since I became neutral,” he said [Patrick Lalley, “Steve Kirby, an Early Opponent, Now Says He’s Neutral on Sioux Falls Pork Plant,” Jamestown Sun, 2022.08.25].
Stopped thinking—yes, that’s a helpful feature for Noem supporters.
Kirby at least doesn’t make baseless claims about unnamed businesses choosing not to come to South Dakota. Noem’s claim on that score sounds like scapegoating to distract from the fact that her administration may be struggling to recruit top employers because of her administration’s inattention to the chronic economic stagnation that has plagued South Dakota under decades of myopic and inbred one-party rule.
Now perhaps Kirby can get reliable Noem donor and Poet Ethanol CEO Jeff Broin to go neutral on the slaughterhouse that would stink up his office and his home in northeast Sioux Falls. Perhaps Noem could work on persuading Poet’s senior VP for government affairs and communications, Joshua Shields, who was Governor Noem’s first chief of staff.
Perhaps not caught between rich friends, Special Olympics CEO Darryl Nordquist has also withdrawn his organization’s opposition, although he’s passing neutral and moving directly to yes:
In a Mitchell Republic article, the local organization reversed is position and now supports the project. Darryl Nordquist, the group’s CEO admitted, “I screwed up.”
Along with nearly 60 other businesses and nonprofits, the Special Olympics of South Dakota had signed an open letter opposing the plant. However, since that time, a local farmer has since convinced him it won’t be that smelly.
Nordquist claims that the proposed pork plant will be better for farmers [Jennifer Shike, “Special Olympics Reverses Position, Now Supports S.D. Pork Plant,” Pork Business, 2022.08.25].
The Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce is endorsing the Governor’s line that banning slaughterhouses is bad for business. It announced last week its formal opposition to the slaughterhouse initiative:
The Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce opposes the slaughterhouse zoning ordinance for the following reasons:
- Primarily, this ordinance would change the rules in the middle of the game for a business that has followed all the rules set forth in city ordinance.
- When a small group of citizens can prohibit a proposed development by submitting a question to the voters to block said business, serious concerns arise. It creates uncertainty for any future business who may consider locating in Sioux Falls. In short, this is bad for the economic future of our city.
- There was no opposition to rezoning the land:
- Wholestone purchased the land three years after the site was rezoned. In 2017, the landowner submitted an application, which was approved by the city council, requesting the land be rezoned from agriculture to an I-2 Heavy Industrial District. The rezone had two hearings before the city council. There was no public opposition to the rezones in 2017.
- The people of Sioux Falls approved our city’s current zoning ordinances by 65% in April of 2014.
- The Shape Sioux Falls zoning ordinance was developed by the City’s Planning and Zoning team based on input from a survey of 1,500 citizens, followed by approximately 60 public meetings over a three-year period.
- It was referred to a public vote and was approved by 65% in April of 2014. It became effective that same month [Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, position statement on slaughterhouse zoning ordinance, 2022.08.26].
Early voting begins September 23.