Thursday, July 12, 2018

Stuefen leaves governor's economic post


Randy Stuefen is also a St. Mary's alumnus and was a senior when I was a freshman at Elkton High School.

As many young Elkton men did he went into the US Air Force after graduation during the Vietnam era then returned home to enroll at South Dakota State University on the GI Bill. In those days returning service members brought Sansui and Pioneer stereo equipment back to the States. He turned me on to Mason Proffit, Commander Cody, Dr. Hook, Thai stick, Panama Red and Michoacán.

Around 1972 he and his brother, my boyhood friend Roger, left their folks' house and rented a space in the Hawrysh Apartments in Brookings and I moved to Minneapolis for a year. Roger dropped out during his first semester at SDSU right after their mother died and moved to Mitchell for technical school. In '73 Randy introduced me to Mark (Spiro) Speirs, Paul Anderson and Gary (Hairy) Ellingson when they lived in the Sugar Shack near downtown Brookings after I enrolled at SDSU.

When Paul got married in the mid-80s Spiro, Art Young and i enlisted Spearditch pilot Mark Farrier to fly us to Madison for the wedding and during our return flight a tornadic thunderstorm forced us to land at the Pierre Airport. By sheer coincidence as we were walking out to get something to eat Randy and his wife, Betty just happened to be driving by, took us to dinner then put us up for the night.

After graduate school Randy moved to Vermillion, joined the University of South Dakota faculty then developed a theory of South Dakota’s dual rural and urban economies. Last we met was at the Bay Leaf Cafe in Spearditch somewhere around 1997.

Stuefen joined SD Governor Denny Daugaard's Council of Economic Advisers in 2012 and was just succeeded by former SDSU president David Chicoine.

Randy must be exceedingly disappointed he's leaving while South Dakota’s economy is in the shitter.

Previously posted at The Dakota Progressive.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Industrial cannabis is 'lateral violence' in Indian County

Recall officials of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Nation advanced their cannabis initiative after an Iowa casino on the border cut into the tribe's gaming business.

Washington's Suquamish Tribe was a pioneer in the cannabis industry signing the first cannabis compact with any state. Governed by tribal law and by conditions in the compact they operate a retail cannabis shop just across Puget Sound from Seattle on the Port Madison Indian Reservation.
A response to May 9th's feature "Native American Talks Hemp Regulation and Genocide" is in order. In the article, reporter Harmony Birch quotes visiting Lakota Alex White Plume stating ""On the East Coast here there's no more natural Indians. They were wiped out because they have 511 years [of colonization] we've only had 200 years of contact so we're still real," he said of the Lakota. "Our language is real, our ceremonies are real. We're still alive; we still remember." White Plume was in town as an invited speaker, along with scholar Norman Finkelstein, at an event organized by Brattleboro Common Sense, a local organization. The event was an exploration "about the similarities between the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and Native Americans." In the case of White Plume, this is known as lateral violence. [Brattleboro (Vermont) Reformer]
American Indians are subject to at least four overlapping jurisdictions making tribes the most regulated people in the US without representatives serving in Congress. Every federal department and agency already recognize Native America as the 51st State. While the Palestinian homeland looks like holes in the slice of Swiss cheese analogous to the illegal Israeli state, progress toward resolutions of Native trust disputes would have far more political traction after tribes secede from the States in which they reside and then be ratified to form one State, the 51st, sans contiguous borders with two Senators and two House members as there are an estimated 2.5 million indigenous living on reservations.
"It’s time to reform American’s outdated marijuana policies," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts). The STATES Act, she added, would "let states, territories and tribes decide for themselves how best to regulate marijuana – without federal interference." The STATES Act doesn't just address marijuana. It removes federal restrictions on industrial hemp, ones that have kept tribes like the Menominee Nation and people like Alex White Plume, a citizen of the Oglala Sioux Tribe from using their lands to grow a plant that does not carry the same drug characteristics as cannabis. After a decade-long fight, White Plume secured a major victory two years ago when a federal judge lifted an injunction against his hemp farm on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. [Indianz]
For the record, this blog can't support widespread growing of industrial cannabis (hemp), especially on tribal lands: it is an invasive species capable of overgrowing native grasses. Why anyone would want to buy genetically engineered seed from Bayer Crop Science/Monsanto or some other earth hater every year remains a mystery.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Peltier supporters petition Trump Organization for executive clemency

Aggravated under the fog of war on this day in 1975 Leonard Peltier and others defending a sovereign nation returned fire from hostile FBI forces.
He has denied being involved in the execution-style killing of the FBI Special Agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams. But his accounts have varied and in his 1999 memoir, admits he shot his rifle during the shoot-out with the FBI agents while saying he didn't hit them. His son, Chauncey Peltier, said there is no evidence his father killed anyone. He has been exhibiting his father's paintings around the country to raise awareness about his father's attempt to gain a presidential pardon. [Pierre Capital Journal]
No one was convicted of killing an American Indian man killed during the battle. Calls of executive clemency for Peltier had been getting louder and a plea for his release sat at the tip of President Obama's pen.
Through 6 former Presidents and President Obama's 1st term in Office, Millions of Individuals world-wide (including Judges, Attorneys, Statesmen & Dignitaries) have rallied in support of Clemency for Wrongly Incarcerated Native American Human Rights/Environmental Rights Activist Leonard Peltier. [petition]
President Obama didn’t release him because he knows Peltier’s life is at risk on the outside. Only one American Indian was pardoned under Bush 43.
A letter written to the president by Peltier attorney David Frankel says Peltier "has been subjected to a vicious campaign of fake news by the FBI." The letter also says Peltier is in "very poor health" and says Peltier's only desire is to go home to the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation to be with his family. [Supporters formally ask Trump to pardon Leonard Peltier]
If he is released Canada might be a sanctuary in his final days.

Is Peltier a prisoner of war, a criminal or an enemy combatant doomed to live out the consequences of being caught on the battlefield?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Heartland Expressway gets infrastructure grant while Amtrak scrambles

Construction on the estimated half-billion dollar Heartland Expressway connecting Rapid City with I-80 in Nebraska and I-25 in Wyoming or Colorado is not completely stalled but it is glacial.

The Nebraska Department of Transportation will receive some $18.3 million from a federal infrastructure grant to convert about 14.6 miles of US 385 between Chadron and Alliance from an existing two-lane into a four-lane divided highway.

The speed limit on Nebraska 71 is 60 miles per hour on the 75 miles of bone-dry high prairie grassland south of Hot Springs between Crawford and Scottsbluff. It's potentially deadly during a blizzard. US18/US85 between Maverick Junction, South Dakota and Lusk, Wyoming is no better; besides, I-25, especially through the Denver metro, sucks at biblical proportions so does flying through DIA with its likelihood of a strip or body cavity search.

In 1921 my maternal grandparents honeymooned in Hot Springs riding the train from Humphrey, Nebraska and my grandfather was a career conductor for the Union Pacific Railroad. I have at least one vague memory from my toddlerhood going over the Continental Divide in Colorado while riding the California Zephyr between Omaha and Emeryville, California near Castle AFB where my dad was stationed and the place of my birth.

Now, growth on the Front Range is driving planners to pick up the pace on passenger rail.
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, there have been many ideas to connect Cheyenne all the way down to Albuquerque, New Mexico with a commuter rail line. But getting the public, local and state governments all on the same page with the details has proved difficult. In December, the commission also requested nearly $9 million dollars from the state to conduct a 2-year public engagement campaign on the premise of a Front Range passenger rail along I-25. It was granted that money in this year’s Senate Bill 1, a large transportation funding measure. [KUNC]
Meanwhile the Trump Organization is pledging to kill passenger rail service while traffic between the Black Hills and Denver continues to increase as does the volume between Denver and Santa Fe.
The group, the local chapter for Americans for Prosperity, which is financed by the oil billionaires Charles G. and David H. Koch to advance conservative causes, fanned out and began strategically knocking on doors. Their targets: voters most likely to oppose a local plan to build light-rail trains, a traffic-easing tunnel and new bus routes. [How the Koch Brothers Are Killing Public Transit Projects Around the Country]
Legal cannabis for New Mexico's adults could help foot the bill for Positive Train Control. Equip the Rail Runner to connect with Amtrak farther south in New Mexico and to El Paso. Put the Rail Runner into downtown Denver to connect with the California Zephyr, maybe even into Cheyenne, Wyoming.

I get the idea of a future I-25E but now is the time to connect the Southwest Chief to the Empire Builder at Shelby, Montana through Denver, too.