Wednesday, September 17, 2014

GAO clears Corps; Rounds knew about Lake Sharpe silt

US Senators called for testimony from the attorney general of the State of South Dakota. It's suing the US Army Corps of Engineers to determine ownership of so-called 'surplus water.'
Fort Pierre and Pierre, South Dakota, sit at the head of Lake Sharpe. The Army formed Lake Sharpe after the closure of Big Bend Dam in 1963. The capital of South Dakota and its sister city now face a flood of epic proportions because of a combination of high water releases from Oahe Dam and the presence of a silty delta at the head of Lake Sharpe, which begins just southeast of Fort Pierre. [Muddy Mo: Reservoir Siltation and the Flood of 2011]

Missouri River discharge from Oahe Dam at Pierre in 2011
photo courtesy Bruce Venner
A report released Sept. 12, 2014, by the Government Accountability Office said a number of factors were behind the flood and there were no forecasting tools available to the Corps that could have prevented the event. “By June 2011, the volume of water coming into the reservoirs from the extreme rains and melting snow was so great that the Corps had no choice in June and July but to release water to accommodate the inflow and prevent damage to dam infrastructure, such as spillways in danger of being overtopped,” the report says. [Joel Ebert, Pierre Capital Journal]
Hardly coincidentally, a former earth hater governor of South Dakota after having built a house in a swamp that flooded received a generous self-reimbursement from insurance coverage underwritten by his own company. He's the same US Senate candidate under federal investigation for his role in the EB-5 Bendagate scandal. He also lavished $75 million of state money on political cronies and donors and flagrantly violated the Indian Child Welfare Act.

A sleazeball earth hater state senator who also built a house in a swamp sued the Corps.

Recall this intersection at interested party in June, 2011?
The Corps sells 24% of US hydropower capacity. The Corps enjoys sovereign immunity; expect a political powerplay directed at them from Marty Jackley.
South Dakota's earth hater junior US senator is leading a crusade to block the US Environmental Protection Agency from identifying non-point sources of pollution deposited by his GOP donors.

With federal investigators crawling up every GOP asshole in the state with microscopes there may be justice served yet.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lakota seek changes for mal-named Black Hills features

Harney Peak is not South Dakota's highest natural point, Odakota Mountain is. It is not the highest US point east of the Rocky Mountains, either: Guadalupe Peak in Texas is.

The tower erected on top of a mal-named feature in The Hills That Are Black making it the state's tallest geomorph was just more scorn heaped on the Lakota People.
A Native American man says the name of South Dakota’s tallest mountain is offensive and should be changed. Basil Brave Heart, who is from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and describes himself as an Oglala Lakota elder, wants the name Harney Peak changed to Black Elk Peak. Brave Heart’s motivation is Harney’s role in the 1855 Battle of Ash Hollow, also known as the Battle of Blue Water Creek, which occurred in present-day Nebraska during a period called the First Sioux War. 
A force of 600 soldiers under Harney’s command attacked 250 Sioux and killed 86 of them, including some women and children. The same Lt. Warren who later named South Dakota’s highest point for Gen. Harney wrote about the battle in a journal. “The sight on the top of the hill was heart rending — wounded women and children crying and moaning, horribly mangled by the bullets,” Warren wrote, in part. “Wars carry a shadow,” Brave Heart said, “and the U.S. is carrying a shadow for all the atrocities it committed.” Jay Vogt, a member of the board and the director of the South Dakota State Historical Society, said any interested party could formally apply to change the name of Harney Peak. [excerpt, from Seth Tupper, Rapid City Journal]
This blog has hammered on the absence of Lakota in South Dakota high schools and on language equivalents for geographical features on SDDoT highway maps.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pueblo likely new stop for Southwest Chief

A former South Dakota governor now running an embattled race for the US Senate blew Amtrak funding on an airplane for his own personal use.

The Southwest Chief received nearly $12.5 million in federal aid this week after reporting about 356,000 riders in 2013.
In May, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill creating a commission to work with officials in Kansas and New Mexico, who also could have had stations affected, to try to keep the current route. It also proposed an additional stop in Pueblo. A 2014 report by two professors from Colorado State University at Pueblo said a station in Pueblo could increase tourism and add close to $3 million in visitor spending, and an estimated $175,000 in state and local tax revenue based on 2013 fiscal year numbers. [Stephen Hobbs, Colorado Springs Gazette]
Until a serious mass transit system happens on the rez industrializing the land makes little sense. Put the old Milwaukee rail bed back into passenger service between Sioux Falls and Rapid City with stops in Kadoka, Belvidere and Murdo. After upgrades the new Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern spur from RC to Dakota Junction could handle passenger service, too.

The Rail Runner between south of ABQ and Santa Fe goes through several pueblos and is well-supported with stops in each community: it has brought at least access to prosperity in an historically poor state.

South Dakota recently secured some $12 million in rail funding to pay political favors to grain shippers while junkets by the state's GOP legislators have come under question.

New Mexico's governor says she wants to maintain the state's share of the line but her party is saying no:
Discussions centered on a five-way share of the estimated $200 million price to maintain the tracks for the next decade. New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Amtrak and BNSF each considered contributing $4 million annually for 10 years to prevent rerouting the Southwest Chief. A proposal to that effect died in the New Mexico Legislature this year, while Colorado lawmakers and the Kansas Department of Transportation advanced funding plans, including pursuing federal transportation grants. [Patrick Malone, Steve Terrell, Santa Fe New Mexican]
Republicans haul commodities while Democrats also choose to move social capital: more reasons midterm elections are important to American Indians and young voters.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Farrar/Rounds photo captions contest

Two earth hater former South Dakota governors met for a photo op and it didn't go well.

Compare and contrast the two photos. Winner gets coffee or cocktail at your favorite watering hole in the US.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

World, US leaders calling for end of war on cannabis

On Monday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said he would sign a bill that would make Philadelphia the largest city in the country to decriminalize marijuana possession. Just two weeks ago, the City Council in Santa Fe voted to decriminalize marijuana. Earlier this year, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill to decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana in the U.S. capital. Ballot initiatives on legalization of marijuana will go before voters in Oregon, Florida and Alaska in November. Meanwhile, a group of former presidents and United Nations leaders gathered in New York Tuesday to call for an end to the criminalization and incarceration of drug users. [Democracy Now!]
It would be interesting to know the results of drug tests on red state governors and their staffs after this little taxpayer-funded soiree. Nerdling Dusty Johnson works for South Dakota's embattled executive. He's been tweeting some profound stuff lately: make him pee in a cup.

The Netherlands and Uruguay are watching cannabis progress in Colorful Colorado:
For the first time in Colorado’s legal marijuana market, recreational cannabis outsold medical pot in the month of July, according to numbers from the state’s Department of Revenue. In July 2014, customers purchased more than $29.7 million in recreational marijuana — up from $24.7 million in June. Medical marijuana patients spent more than $28.9 million on marijuana in July — comparable to June’s $28.6 million in sales. Since Jan. 1, Colorado has brought in more than $37.5 million in taxes, licenses and fees for recreational and medical marijuana. [Ricardo Baca, The Cannabist]
Be sure to vote on new poll!