Bandelier view sheds opened by fires

South Dakota-based Wildfire Today posted a story on the Thompson Ridge Fire: map above.

Bandelier National Monument has bermed the visitor center with sandbags to defend the facility from both flooding and wildfires. Managers of public lands in the Black Hills could learn from Bandelier's lessons.

Macaw petroglyph

Elk petroglyph

Long House

Cavate with sunlight

From the Albuquerque Journal Online:
Amid the thousands of acres of vaporized trees and blackened vegetation sat an island of green — a 5,000-plant marijuana plantation that survived both this summer’s massive Las Conchas Fire and catastrophic flooding that followed. The 6- to 10-foot-tall marijuana plants were grown in Bandelier National Monument by unknown growers, who remain at large and who officials believe battled the fire to protect their plants. The 5,000 marijuana plants, which survived a fire that burned more than 150,000 acres of New Mexico wildland, were pulled from their roots Thursday and taken by Black Hawk helicopter to an undisclosed area and burned.
From the New York Times Green Blog:
According to Craig Allen, a research ecologist with the United States Geological Survey in Los Alamos, N.M., forests in the region have not been regenerating after the vast wildfires that have been raging for the last decade and a half. Dr. Allen, who runs the Jemez Mountains Field Station at Bandelier National Monument, says those forests are burning into oblivion and grasslands and shrub lands are taking their place. “Rising temperature is going to drive our forests off the mountains,” he said. Seeking to preserve existing systems is futile, he said.

Mixed pine, fir and aspen stand after Las Conchas Fire


Ortiz Mountains from burn


Portrait of W constructed of photos of dead Iraq War GIs

From History in Pictures: "This remarkable work of art is made from faces of 670 soldiers who died in the Iraq War."

Senator Mark Udall is being urged to read the Central Intelligence Agency torture memos into the Congressional Record.
Sen. Udall has been persistent in trying to elicit the truth about CIA torture, but has failed. Now that he has lost his Senate seat in the November elections, he has the opportunity to do what Sen. Feinstein is too afraid to do – invoke a senator’s Constitutional right to immunity by taking advantage of the “speech or debate clause” to read the torture report findings into the record, a tactic used most famously by Sen. Mike Gravel in 1971 when he publicly read portions of the Pentagon Papers. [Truthout]

Hunhoff, Dems prep for 2015 session

Senator-elect Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton says he thinks health care for low income people has to be a priority in the 2015 South Dakota Legislative session. He says a major road funding proposal will take a lot of time and that there will be debate over a task force recommendation on new water drainage guidelines.

An interview with Hunhoff can be heard here.
Keep alive the stories of all the people who paid for our freedom. That was the challenge that the guest speaker, District 18 State Rep. Bernie Hunhoff, gave to students, faculty and other community members at Mount Marty College’s Veterans Day prayer service Monday. The newly elected District 18 state senator, local journalist and MMC alum spoke of the huge price South Dakota has had to pay for freedom throughout its history. Hunhoff told the Press and Dakotan in an interview that sometimes people take this freedom we have for granted. [Jordynne Hart] 
South Dakota's GOP governor will deliver his party's budget address on Tuesday of next week. His Wyoming counterpart wants to expand Medicaid under President Obama's signature health care reform law but that state's Republican-dominated legislature is balking on passage of medical access to the working class and the poor.

Photo: Kelly Hertz


Pierre scholar named to Native American Political Leadership Program

Black Hills State University student Michaela Stroup is fueling her passion for politics and knack for leadership into a prestigious political program in the nation’s capital. Stroup, a political science major from Pierre, was accepted to attend The George Washington University’s Semester in Washington Politics (SIWP), as a participant in the Native American Political Leadership Program (NAPLP) for the spring semester. Stroup, who is a member of the Lower Brule Sioux tribe, was chosen for her academic abilities, leadership potential and passion for politics. She has been part of the Gay Straight Alliance, Student Senate, and debate team. This past summer Stroup interned with the South Dakota Democratic Party and went door to door advocating for the raise in minimum wage. [BHSU Communications]
Stroup was named by BHSU's Office of Academic Affairs to the spring 2014 dean's list.

In other news from college Democrats, South Dakota State University's club is working hard:
During the 2014 Midterm elections, the College Democrats volunteered with the Brookings Democrats in helping to promote several local, state and federal candidates. They organized a group to walk at the Hobo Day parade and made several phone calls to promote candidates. The College Democrats have started a new strategy on campus to promote participation in politics, said Carter Christensen. “My personal goal is to get people talking and to get people educated about politics,” Christensen said. [SDSU Collegian]
And from Yankton's Drinking Liberally:
First, this year's Drinking Liberally Holiday Party has been scheduled for Tuesday, December 9, at 7pm (our regular time). We'll have it downstairs at Ben's where we regularly meet, so there won't be any stairs for anyone to climb. It will be low-key — no speechifying or door prizes or anything like that — just good conversation and good fun. Bring friends, and bring potluck or treats if you want to share. We'll have a great time! [Chris Sonne]
Club contacts linked here.


SDGFP announces annual cougar killing derby

The removal of apex predators has triggered trophic cascades in numerous biomes throughout the US and the Bureau of Land Management has stopped at least one killing derby in the Mountain West.

A multi-year study tracking North Dakota’s mountain lion population indicates the number of big cats is trending downward. In August 2011, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, in conjunction with South Dakota State University, embarked on a $218,000 study funded by Pittman-Roberston excise tax money. [Bismarck Tribune]
It's widely acknowledged that the Black Hills cougar population has been strong because of the absence of a viable wolf population. South Dakota's GOP-owned Game, Fish and Parks apparently wants to increase a wolf presence.
Black Hills residents have a love-hate relationship with livestock predators — for ranchers, it's mostly hate — and a South Dakota School of Mines & Technology professor is studying how those historic attitudes toward wolves, mountain lions and coyotes have evolved. Frank Van Nuys, a history professor speaking in both a Tuesday lecture and an interview, said the relationship between humans and such animals had been largely antagonistic right up to the late 20th century. [Rapid City Journal]
President Obama, it's time to rewild the West: tear out the main stem dams, extend the CM Russell Wildlife Refuge to Oacoma, South Dakota along the Missouri River and to Yellowstone then to the Yukon.

Sir, please move the US Forest Service and its associated lands into the Park Service under tribal management and protect public properties from the destructive forces that just bought the recent midterm election.

It’s time for cougars to enjoy Endangered Species protection and for you, Mr. President, to dissolve the Black Hills National Forest; and, in cooperation with BIA Forestry and Wildfire Management and the US Park Service, rename it Okawita Paha National Monument then make it part of the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge.


Parsley defeats GOP legislator in District 8

Republican Chuck Jones lost his bid for the State Senate by a very small margin throughout the district but have the majority of Moody County voters on his side. Jones took 1,290 local votes compared to Scott Parsley’s 1,055. [Moody County Enterprise]
Winning Lake County put Parsley over the top by 355 votes.

Democrats Jim Peterson of Revillo, Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton, Ray Ring of Vermillion, Julie Bartling of Burke, and Peggy Gibson of Huron also won in Republican fields.

Reporter Bob Mercer told readers of the Pierre Cap Journal that Democratic legislators returned contributions from a GOP PAC built for nefarious purposes:
Ben Nesselhuf called on Republicans to likewise divest their campaigns of what he called “scam money” from the PAC. Nesselhuf said the Democrats – Senate leader Jason Frerichs of Wilmot $350, Sen. Bill Sutton of Burke $250 and Rep. Scott Parsley of Madison $200 – returned their amounts Monday. Nesselhuf said Free Conferencing abuses rural-telephone subsidies and called the matter a “pay to play scandal.”
Parsley and the author of The Dakota Progressive have cousins in common: his mom and my uncle by marriage were siblings. His brother Steve has been a life-long friend of this blogger.

Scott Parsley, Bernie Hunhoff, Pat Garrity


Hawks wins in a squeaker

Representative Paula Hawks is an advocate for clean sustainable energy in South Dakota's legislature.
Hawks came away from the election with an eight-vote advantage in District Nine over former Rep. Bob Deelstra, a Republican who was making a bid to recapture the seat he lost in 2012. Monday's recount confirmed Hawks' victory over Deelstra, 2,662 to 2,654. Hawks said she looks forward to the next legislative session, and she plans to introduce bills dealing with public safety and education. She will be one of only a dozen Democrats in the next legislative session, down from 18 in the current Legislature. "We're small but we're mighty, and we'll make our voices heard as best as we can," she said. [Jonathan Ellis, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
Hawks' legislature entry linked here, Ballotpedia entry linked here.

Save Black Hills bat; timber industry strong

While it won't win any cutest animal contests, the northern long-eared bat deserves the same chance as any critter to continue to exist. We urge anyone who shares that concern to use the official commenting process. And if such a listing does occur — we certainly support trying to save the bats and preserve them as a species — we hope wildlife officials will use common sense while balancing the protection that would be offered against the potentially devastating economic impacts that could result. [editorial, Rapid City Journal, hyperlinks mine.]
South Dakota's Republican blog hates the Rapid City Journal except when an editorial serves up a political dish it likes.

Logging out the basin for the Grizzly Gulch Tailings Disposal Project above Pluma and Deadwood in 1977 helped to launch this blogger's love of the Black Hills. Homestake Mining Company that also operated the sawmill near Spearfish, hired a local contractor who gave a farm boy and School of Mines dropout a skidder job.

Now, that sawmill is owned by Neiman Enterprises of Hulett, Wyoming.

Neiman owns three mills in the Black Hills operating a virtual monopoly and lobbying heavily in Pierre to pump the handle(s). They also own a mill in Colorado.
The Earth Partners LP, a land restoration and bioenergy development company, announced that it has acquired Deadwood Biofuels LLC, a company based in the Black Hills of South Dakota that produces wood pellets for heating and industrial markets. The Black Hills, where Deadwood’s raw material is sourced, is a historically fire-maintained conifer ecosystem. Fire suppression over the past century has allowed the forest to become overstocked and characterized by unbroken stands of old trees, fueling the risk of catastrophic wildfire, insect infestation, and habitat loss. This is fertile ground for the mountain pine beetle epidemic, which has caused trees to rot on hundreds of thousands of acres of Black Hills National Forest and private land. The Earth Partners and Deadwood are using these forest residues, thinnings, and low-grade timber resources to improve forest health. [Rapid City, SD (PRWEB) September 29, 2014]
The mountain pine beetle is successfully returning water supplies to depleted Black Hills aquifer recharges while the timber industry would rather just take the oldest trees.

At least one Wyoming mill operator gets it:
Clint Georg, one of the partner-owners of the sawmill in Saratoga, said burning wood to produce steam, in turn spinning turbines to create electricity, is currently being done on a somewhat limited scale. Another potential bioenergy application for wood byproducts is to turn wood chips into biofuel. According to Forisk Consulting, there are three general techniques to convert wood biomass into transportation fuels. [David Lewis, Casper Star-Tribune]
The Feds are offering grants to develop alternative and renewable fuels: Republicans take the money even when they say they hate big government.

South Dakota Progress gaining momentum

Tasiyagnunpa Livermont is the editor of the Eagle Butte-based West River Eagle: she is acting as steering director of South Dakota Progress, a group seeking to energize the SD Democratic Party.

An interview with Livermont can be heard on WNAX Radio. She says, "the 2020 plan will focus solely on electing Democratic candidates to local offices in SD."

Bajun Mavalwalla, an Army veteran who moved to South Dakota to guide Corinna Robinson's US House campaign, says actions are gaining strength: the group is using the hashtag #sdprogress on twitter.
Part of the inspiration for the outside group is the “Colorado Plan,” a successful effort by Colorado Democrats to rebuild the party there. That plan also focused on recruiting and training candidates for local races — though it had the advantage of millions of dollars in funding from four of the state’s wealthiest people. Mavalwalla said his plan doesn’t necessarily need any buy-in from the formal party. But he’d like to have it. “The best way to do this is to work alongside and cooperate with the state party,” he said. [David Montgomery, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
Madville Times has a story on the group linked here.


SDDP affiliated forum begun

It's too bad South Dakota doesn't have an effective Democratic blog presence.

When Republican Pat Powers removed his content from public view to take a job in the South Dakota Secretary of State's office his blog continued to run with little outcry except from us - the disaffected. In the interest of transparency this blogger has engaged Cory Heidelberger to make Madville Times a party-affiliated forum: he has refused. PP was ruled a member of 'The Fourth Estate' by a judge while Heidelberger seems to believe his independence will be compromised. Furthermore, Madville's hosting space for a Republican whose fortune is being spent on that party's candidates is an embarrassment.

When this blog asked Susan Wismer to run for governor she told me Cory and Madville Times were just too radical for her, hence Cory supported Joe Lowe in the primary so that weblog never really got behind Rep. Wismer as a gubernatorial candidate.

Although Mr. Heidelberger has been a thorough investigator, a persuasive voice for liberals in South Dakota and deserving of praise, Madville Times hasn't delivered for Democratic voters.

While the author of interested party is a staunch Democrat and has been 100% correct on how to run a credible political campaign ip is far too radical to represent South Dakota Democrats in the party's present deflated context.

The Dakota Progressive intends to be a temperate but unwavering voice and will be a SDDP affiliated forum after it can raise enough money to compete with the SDGOP blog, Dakota War College.

Guest contributors can contact the creator of The Dakota Progressive through interested party or at my twitter account.

Kevin Killer face of tribal representation in SD Legislature

South Dakota’s Native vote generated a lot of media attention in the run-up to Election 2014. State legislator Kevin Killer, of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, ticked off the successes: On November 4, Jim Bradford, of Pine Ridge, was re-elected to the state Senate, where he will be joined by Troy Heinert, from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, who had been in the House. Shawn Bordeaux, of Rosebud, will take over Heinert’s House seat. Meanwhile Rex Conroy, of Pine Ridge, earned the sheriff’s badge for newly renamed Oglala Lakota County, and Oglalas were re-elected county commissioners. “All politics is local,” said Killer, who held onto his House seat. “These results show voters what’s possible when they assert their rights as citizens.” [Stephanie Woodard, Indian Country Today Media]
Now that Kevin Killer has won another term in the South Dakota Legislature, the Pine Ridge representative hopes expand Medicaid and to repeal a statute passed in 2011 that limits the amount of time victims of horrific crimes committed at the hands of clergy can sue their attackers. Brandon Ecoffey of Native Sun News reported from indianz:
To many South Dakota constituents, the bill seemed to directly target Native Americans, who were victims of abuse during their time in church- and state-run boarding schools. Killer — who voted against the bill — told Native Sun News: “I am definitely in favor of repealing the bill. Here is a bill that doesn’t really explore the history of the abuse that was going on. If you are going to think about any type of bill that pertains to any type of tragedy you would think that there would be a conversation with the aggrieved party — and that conversation never happened at all with this.”


Barth announces for SD Democratic chair

Jeff Barth visits with media in Rapid City

During the South Dakota Democratic Convention in Yankton Jeff Barth and the Minnehaha County people took a straggler into their ranks while pressing the caucus on strict adherence to the rules with vigorous confidence.
Minnehaha County Democratic Party chair Jeff Barth is running for chair of the state Democratic Party, he said Thursday. Barth said he didn't have a particular agenda to take the party in a different direction, but wants to "energize young people, Native Americans, teachers (and) the other entities that are normally part of our party. Our theme is that we can't win as individuals or factions, we can only win as a team," Barth said. Barth is notably outspoken. In just recent months, he filed a lawsuit against Mike Rounds and others about EB-5 and has excoriated the county auditor for vote-counting delays. [David Montgomery, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
In Rapid City during his run for US House Barth stuck his hand out after greeting the couple before me and after introducing myself he said, "you're a little bigger than I am." My 6'2" 173 pound frame and his 6'1" likely-more-than-that laughed simultaneously. "Last month I supported your opponent in the primary: good to know I can still evolve," I blurted. He responded with a kind thank you. I didn't hesitate: "where you at on the so-called War on Drugs?" It fell right out of my mouth. "It's crazy," he replied. He described a future where, as long as law enforcement can easily test drivers stopped for some other infraction, cannabis law should look just like alcohol law.

Barth greeted the warm, enthusiastic gaggle, gave a thumbnail sketch of his campaign, and described the proposed Ryan budget that enjoys the support of incumbent Kristi Noem as "the final solution." That banks are too big to fail suggests that banks are too big, he said. Corporations look like people to some; yet, British Petroleum killed 13 people in the Gulf of Mexico and nobody has gone to jail.

In response to a question from a self-described federal employee Barth said that public service should be celebrated rather than denigrated; and, "I have no problem that public employees have collective bargaining rights." The biggest applause from the gathering came after he repeated his support for marriage equality: he revisited the topic several times in follow-up questions. Barth cited Minnehaha County's responsibility to prosecute a capital offense in the death of a prison guard at the State Penitentiary as a necessary function of government.

Johnson calls for end to Fannie, Freddie conservatorship

Senator Tim Johnson addresses the South Dakota Democratic Convention
Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Melvin Watt said during a hearing of the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday that overhauling the housing-finance system should be left to Congress. Mr. Watt’s comments came after Sen. Tim Johnson (D., S.D.) in his opening remarks called on him to “engage with the Treasury Department in talks to end the conservatorship” of Fannie and Freddie if Congress doesn’t proceed. Mr. Johnson, who chairs the banking committee, sponsored legislation that would overhaul the housing-finance system. That bipartisan bill passed the committee in May but garnered only limited support and didn’t proceed to the Senate floor. Sen. Johnson’s comments come as the likelihood of Congress tackling housing-finance reform dwindles, despite calls from the Obama administration and others for Congress to act. [Wall Street Journal]
Denise Ross has a look at Senator Johnson's legacy posted at the Mitchell Daily Republic: subscription required.

Donate to Senator Johnson's South Dakota First PAC.


Sutton future of SDDP

The Planning Committee of the South Dakota Legislature meets Monday in Pierre: member Senator Billie Sutton of Burke is looking ahead to the January session. Sutton says the committee will work through different proposals and ideas to compromise on education funding.

 Read full story here.

Cowboy Caucus: Jason Frerichs and Billie Sutton rehearse for their skit at the state Democratic convention in Yankton earlier this year.

Lead clinging to survival, might live if she listens to me

Lead’s Alco store will close sometime in the coming months along with the Kansas-based national discount retail company’s 197 other stores scattered across 23 states. [Black Hills Pioneer]
Clambering up a slippery, groaning sheet of ice is not necessarily for the faint of heart. But it’s also not as inaccessible as it might seem, said Cody-based professional ice climber Aaron Mulkey. [Casper Star-Trib]

Not long after Homestake Mining Company announced its intent to close operations in Lead, we were listening to this NPR story about an ice climbing park in Ouray, Colorado, a former mining town that has remade itself by farming ice. My daughters' mother turned to me and said: "Wow, they should do that in the Open Cut."

It was if she had spoken with the Voice of God.  The very next day I made an appointment and met with Bruce Breid, the general manager charged with the mine's mothballing, an aerial photo of the pit displayed on the wall behind his desk.

"What a brilliant idea, Mr. Kurtz, we have water here, here, and here," Mr. Breid said, pointing to locations at the rim near the Homestake Visitor Center. "Can you provide a legal instrument holding Homestake harmless?"

Right. There was that.

Though not a climber myself, more research led me to locals, some of whom had actually climbed some of the natural seeps deep in the pit while working for subcontract miners.

The horseshoe-shaped bowl directly under the Visitors Center is geologically sound, anchors for top roping easy to place. I have spoken to every Lead mayor since; the desired property is in the city limits. Barrick, the current owner has resisted any discussion of the concept. The Sanford Lab is apparently uninterested.

The Open Cut contributes about 11% of the water to the mine being pumped for the Lab, the ice climbing park would add another 5000 gallons or so. If a clay liner would be applied to the floor of the pit, the resulting reservoir (yes, acidic mine runoff mostly) could be tapped for emergency fire-fighting or diverted to the treatment facility for water from Sawpit Gulch in Central City: some of that is already happening.

Barrick returned some Wyoming holdings to the tribes; and, after it takes responsibility for its complicity in the destruction of the Missouri River Basin it should divest of its remaining holdings in the sacred Black Hills remanding them to the owners by treaty.

Lead has a long wait before the Lab starts producing the number of jobs needed to sustain the community now. Hope they hang on.


Final Indian war underway; sage grouse doomed to PRTC, KXL

What is even worse South Dakota’s media has also buried its collective heads in the sand even though Native Sun News has been reporting on the Keystone XL Pipeline since 2006. Award winning Health and Environment Editor for Native Sun News, Talli Nauman, has been at the journalistic forefront of this environmental disaster about to happen from day one and she has been rewarded by the South Dakota Newspaper Association with many awards for her yearly series of articles on this most important topic. Until this issue became a political football, the rest of South Dakota’s media had been silent. The Keystone XL Pipeline that is being pushed by TransCanada may well be the beginning of the final war between the United States government and the Indian Nations. [Tim Giago, The final Indian war in America is about to begin]

The expansion will quadruple the size of the existing airspace to an area of about 20 million acres lying northwest of Rapid City and spanning parts of South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota. The lowest allowable altitude would be 500 feet, with higher minimums in some areas. [Seth Tupper, Rapid City Journal]

As hundreds of welfare ranchers reap windfall benefits for their negligence during a late fall blizzard, the Anthropocene is wiping out thousands of native species.

The extirpation of bison from the American West has led to the introduction of European cattle now doing untold damage to prairies, the sage steppe and to the high plains and deserts.
As sage grouse have been listed as a species worthy of protection under the Endangered Species Act, but precluded by higher priorities for now, western farmers and ranchers have been concerned about what the implications of such a decision might mean to the way they use the land. “They’re real worried that if that bird gets listed, the federal government will come in and tell them how to manage that ground,” said Melissa Foster, an FWP biologist who was the lead author of a four-year study in Powder and Carter counties. Scientists and conservationists are trying to piece together the best way to preserve sage grouse on their traditional sagebrush steppe environment, which is seeing greater pressures from oil and gas development, loss of habitat to wildland fires and even conifer encroachment. The study area included a land mix of about 54 percent private, 36 percent BLM and 10 percent state, spreading east from the Powder River to the South Dakota border and south from the Powderville Road to the Wyoming border. [Brett French, Billings Gazette]

It's not like we haven't seen it coming.

South Dakota's junior US Senator is betting his career on ramming the expansion of the Powder River Training Complex and the Keystone XL pipeline down American Indian throats.

His actions to defeat tribal sovereignty are putting natives peoples' rights at risk.

Verily, South Dakota's At-large US Representative wails that the US Environmental Protection Agency is employing a land grab to regulate water pollution yet heralds TransCanada's efforts to condemn land for a diluted bitumen pipeline. Recall that Tim Giago supported Kristi Noem's candidacy.
If [municipal solid waste] were to be used as a fuel in [waste to energy] power plants, it could replace all the coal imported by states such as New York, California, Idaho, New Jersey and Maine. Use of MSW fuel in place of coal could reduce the U.S. state-to-state transportation of coal by 22%. [American Chemistry Council, pdf.]
The emergence of warrior societies led by veterans of the Gulf Wars, Afghanistan, and Kosovo has unified young people in North America's tribal regions. Movements are growing from the Mohawk Nation in Quebec and New York to the Lakota strongholds in South Dakota, among the descendants of the Arapaho in the Mountain West, south to the Navajo Nation and into the border regions of the Tohono O'odham.

From Al Jazeera English:
In recent years in particular, Canada's indigenous communities have shown the will and potential to grind the country's economic lifelines to a halt through strategically placed blockades on the major highways and rail lines that run through native reserves well outside of Canada's urban landscape. There are more than 800 outstanding native land claims held against the Canadian government. And in many First Nations communities there is deep crisis, with poverty, unemployment and overcrowding the norm. According to figures from the Assembly of First Nations, more than 118 First Nations lack safe drinking water and some 5,500 houses do not have sewage systems. Almost one half of homes on native reserves are in need of "major repairs", compared with 7 per cent of non-native homes. Natives suffer a violent crime rate that is more than 300 times higher than Canada's non-native population, while natives represent 18.5 per cent of the male prison population and one-quarter of the female population, although natives only constitute 4 per cent of the total population.
In the US, where sovereignty rights, culture and language resurgence and growing capital resources from burgeoning black markets are building alternatives to hopelessness, suicide, and repression in Indian Country, deaths from firearm violence are higher than in any ethnic group.

South Dakota, New Mexico, Wyoming and Montana are in the cross hairs.


SDSM&T president denies being a crook

A former New Mexico US Representative, now South Dakota college president, ran a political campaign for a Southwest Republican governor reeling from the Albuquerque Police Department scandal.
After a Department of Energy report published Wednesday said Sandia National Laboratories used taxpayer dollars to influence Congress and federal officials on a contract extension, former New Mexico Representative Heather Wilson, whose consulting firm is named in the report, took issue with it. Wilson is named on the first page of the report, as follows: "Prompted by an Office of Inspector General inspection report on Concerns with Consulting Contract Administration at Various Department Sites … the NNSA's Sandia Field Office conducted a preliminary review of documentation from 2009 through 2011 regarding consultant activities between Heather Wilson, LLC (the principal of which is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives) and SNL. On March 27, 2013, the Sandia Field Office alleged that SNL impermissibly attempted to influence an extension to the Sandia Corporation contract and engaged Ms. Wilson in these activities."[Dan Mayfield, Heather Wilson refutes DOE report on her involvement in Sandia contract]
Steve Terrell writes in the Santa Fe New Mexican:
Jay McCleskey, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez’s political adviser, is probably the best known political consultant in the state. So it might not be surprising that, according to the most recent batch of campaign finance reports filed this week, he’s also the best paid consultant in New Mexico’s gubernatorial race this year. [Terrell, Governor’s adviser McCleskey is top-paid consultant in race]
The Albuquerque Journal reports that the Martinez campaign staff includes at least one member of the scrum Heather Wilson used in her failed US Senate bid. Wilson, now President of South Dakota School of Mines, wants to bury radioactive waste in South Dakota:
The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology announced Thursday a partnership with RESPEC, a local mining and energy company, to conduct experiments in the Pierre shale formation east of Rapid City to better understand how the rock formation behaves during mining. The research would examine how the formation might work for storage of energy products and disposal of waste. The waste disposal could be used for byproducts of fracking operations like flowback water or slurries from drilling, which can pick up radioactive elements that are naturally occurring in the ground, said Lance Roberts, RESPEC senior vice president. He said it could also be used for radioactive waste like from nuclear energy operations. School of Mines President Heather Wilson said the next step is to begin developing initial experiments as well as working to leverage the investment from the state to increase funding from other sources, like the federal government and private industry. [Jennifer Naylor Gesick, Rapid City Journal]
Gesick also told readers of the Rapid City Journal about the mysterious "unattended death" of a School of Mines researcher.

Qo'noS: where old white Republicans go to die.

So, South Dakotans all knew that the School of Mines and Technology was having "a tough time," right?

Even the Daily Caller panned Heather Wilson, the earth hater former New Mexico Representative for District 1:
Wilson is everything Americans despise about politicians, regardless of party. A cursory look at her career reveals profligacy, cronyism, abuse of power, lies, cover-ups and a sex scandal. She’s seldom crossed an earmark she hasn’t liked, including the infamous $398 million Bridge to Nowhere. She is a crony of the first order, landing a cushy state job with a $93,000 base salary for her husband Jay Hone.--conservative activist, Yates Walker, The Daily Caller.
Did someone connected with the lab in the former Homestake turn the screws to get her hired?
According to an October 16, 2012 Santa Fe Reporter article she has had numerous consulting contracts with defense contractors, including Sandia Labs beginning in 2009 and up to her Senate campaign in 2012. Moreover, in the past her congressional staff has included Sandia Labs personnel.--Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch
Hello. Who got the stimulus funds in New Mexico? Homestake Mining Co. got $10.4 million smackers.

After hiring Wilson on a one-year contract, the South Dakota Board of Regents was exposed as a corrupt political body in the ongoing Bendagate affair.


Public lands at risk to earth haters

Wind Cave National Park is holding a series of meetings after results of midterm elections could put public ground on the block. Above photo was shot there. Seeing the nearly incomprehensible Interstellar was at least entertaining even as it doomed our planet at risk to the Republican Party.
Similar to former President Bill Clinton before him, President Barack Obama now faces a Republican-controlled Congress, one that will almost certainly be implacably hostile toward progressive governance and determined to put a conservative stamp on the statute books. Measures such as these pose a grave threat to the nation’s parks, forests, and other public lands. Moreover, they fly in the face of a broad national consensus that public lands should be managed for conservation and the enjoyment of the American people, not for short-term economic gain. To protect those values, President Obama needs to ready his veto pen and prepare to show the new Congress that he is willing and able to stand and fight for the nation’s public lands. [Tom Kenworthy, Center for American Progress]
The Republican Party uses the image of crushing national debt burdening our children and grandchildren as some bizarre inverse Marion 5960-M Power Shovel while simultaneously ensuring the planet will be uninhabitable for them.

More than 80 laws govern the Forest Service’s land management, but the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Forest Management Act (NFMA) are most often cited as the basis for litigation, according to a 2014 study published in the journal of the Society of American Foresters. The Farm Bill categorically excludes certain timber projects in forests heavily impacted by insects and disease from full analysis under NEPA, and includes other regulations that require fewer alternatives to speed up forestry work. [Tom Kuglin, Law of the land: How litigation has shaped the Forest Service]
A post at A New Century of Forest Planning scared the spit out of me because it signaled how at risk public lands are to the newly emboldened earth haters in Congress.

The post links to some GOP blog frightened by the a proposal by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to extend endangered species protection for the northern long-eared bat in the Black Hills.

ThinkProgress is concerned as this blog is that federal properties could go to red states:
In the run-up to Tuesday’s elections, each week seemed to bring a new Republican candidate for federal and state office advocating for America’s national forests, wildlife areas and other public lands to be seized by the states or auctioned off to the highest bidder. Even the Republican National Committee (RNC) passed a resolution endorsing these extreme proposals earlier this year. With the debate escalating over whether public lands should be seized or sold, candidates who dodged the issue but won on Tuesday will likely soon have to say whether they are with the party of Teddy Roosevelt or Cliven Bundy. [Claire Moser, Election Divides GOP On Whether To Seize And Sell America’s Public Lands]
President Obama, it's time to rewild the West: tear out the main stem dams, extend the CM Russell Wildlife Refuge to Oacoma, South Dakota along the Missouri River and to Yellowstone then to the Yukon.

Sir, please move the US Forest Service and its associated lands into the Park Service under tribal management and protect public properties from the destructive forces that just bought the recent midterm election.

It’s time for cougars to enjoy Endangered Species protection and for you, Mr. President, to dissolve the Black Hills National Forest; and, in cooperation with BIA Forestry and Wildfire Management and the US Park Service, rename it Okawita Paha National Monument then make it part of the Greater Missouri Basin National Wildlife Refuge.


Montana cannabis industry evolving

There are some bright green spots for progressive politics in the midterm results:
Another five states are expected to introduce ballot measures to legalize recreational pot in 2016, including California, Massachusetts, and Nevada. And by the end of the following year, pot activists expect five more states will vote on legalization bills in their state legislatures. But that's not all: six other states are looking at creating or expanding medical-marijuana programs, or are vastly scaling back penalties for small-time possession. With a slew of polls now showing that most Americans think pot should be taxed and regulated like alcohol, it's probably only a matter of time before legalization sweeps the nation. [Mother Jones]
How many losing Democratic congressional or gubernatorial candidates talked about cannabis? Not a fucking one.

In an interview with this blog, Democratic US Senate candidate from South Dakota, Rick Weiland, said that although he supports a medical marijuana program similar to Minnesota's he does not support legal casual cannabis for his state.
The Marijuana Policy Project, the nation’s largest organization working solely on marijuana policy reform from its headquarters in D.C., announced earlier this year that it would help fund a voter initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana for Montana adults in 2016, but only if local supporters were able to raise roughly $200,000. Instead, attention is focused on the state’s medical marijuana industry, which is quietly – and cautiously – making a slow comeback in Big Sky Country. In October, there were 9,352 registered medical marijuana patients in Montana, including 1,120 in Flathead County, the second most of any county in the state behind Gallatin (1,789). There are 361 providers statewide and 49 in Flathead County, also the second most in Montana, again behind Gallatin (89). [Dillon Tabish, Flathead Beacon]

Montana Senator John Walsh, having withdrawn from the 2014 race, has exactly zero to lose by advancing legislation that would legalize cannabis.
In many ways, Democrats have missed a real opportunity to make electoral gains—or limit losses—by pushing legalization initiatives. Some credit President Bush’s reelection in 2004 to the push for same sex marriage initiatives on statewide ballots by spurring social conservative turnout. Democrats could have received a similar boost by pushing legalization initiatives that would alter the electorate in a year when Democrats need it for structural and political reasons. [John Hudak, Brookings Institution]
Warnings from interested party have led to fewer arrests for cannabis in South Dakota.
Major Svendsen says arrests for possession of drug paraphernalia in the state are also down from this time last year. He reminds residents that buying, selling, and/or possessing marijuana is still illegal in South Dakota and those that do get caught with it can face penalties of up to fifteen years in prison and a thirty-thousand dollar fine. [Bill Janklow's idea of public radio]

As it turns out, there is big money in marijuana prohibition: Alcohol and Beer Companies. Police Unions. Private Prison Corporations. Prison Guard Unions. Pharmaceutical Corporations. [Open Secrets]
Colorado is being sued: one complaint states that buyers incriminate themselves under federal law. Senator Mark Udall is seeking clarification of his state's cannabis law from the White House: he is in a hotly contested race for reelection.
The enactment of medicinal marijuana laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates, according to data published online today by the Journal of the American Medical Association. [Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director]
Want to energize young voters, Dems? Evolve.