12/31/14

Measles cases spread among unvaccinated family members

According to health officials, the six people that have been diagnosed with the virus are in Davison County, and are made up of three adults and three children. The children range from under the age of five all the way to teenagers. Health officials say they are all part of an extended family that came together for a holiday celebration. None of them are vaccinated against the measles. [KDLT teevee]
If untreated, measles is deadly. Recall that South Dakota Senator don Juan Thune wanted to block travel to non-white Africa during the Ebola hysteria: think he'll call for a Davison County travel ban?

Yeah, right.

Idaho toddler guns down mom at Walmart

The parade of horribles marches on: a two-year-old takes out a well-regulated militia member.
“Unfortunately she left a concealed weapon that was readily accessible to the child. It’s a tragedy. Accidental," says Lt. Stu Miller. "[It] Probably could have been prevented through some safety and security measures.” Walmart will remain closed until Wednesday morning at 6. [Boise Public Radio]
Guns kill 32,000 Americans every year: sometimes guns even kill Republicans.

An unvaccinated South Dakota child has presented with measles: the state's first case in seventeen years but did Senator John Thune call for a quarantine like he wanted to do to non-white Africa because of the Ebola hysteria? Puleeze.

12/30/14

Mayor: Hot Springs on a roll




Hot Springs could be something someday if it wanted to be: the town has recently expanded its social media platform and the Mammoth Site is at the focus of scientific research on a 9300-year-old mummified bison uncovered there.

Nearby Wind Cave National Park is a perennial favorite destination for ecotourists and is within biking distance of the Mickelson Trail. There is a movement to bring a mountain bike race to the area that would rival the Black Hills Fat Tire Festival. Real estate is affordable and historic properties abound.

If passenger rail ever happens nearby Maverick Junction will no doubt be a stop. My maternal grandparents honeymooned in Hot Springs where Evans Plunge became the Black Hills' first commercial tourist attraction.

A planning and development class at Black Hills State University recently delivered to Hill City a packet of concepts to improve access to tourism-related activities.
Students focused on promoting three of Hill City’s strengths – culture and heritage, outdoors, and wine and craft beer. These three market niches are already established in the community and provide the best options for growth, students said. The group brainstormed events that fit into these niche markets, including a history scavenger hunt, dinner tour of local restaurants and a public art walk. The group also identified several challenges Hill City faces, such as budget issues, the seasonality of businesses and website presentation to visitors. Many Hill City businesses close in October and reopen in May. Students suggested that the town support more off-season events, enticing locals or community members from the surrounding area to visit Hill City. [BHSU Communications]
This blogger passed BHSU's article on community organizing to a Hot Springs official.

The South Dakota Democratic Party should book their 2016 state convention in Hot Springs.

12/29/14

Dakotas, Prairie pothole region at risk to GOP


The woman in Harvey Dunn’s masterpiece holds a piece of climate change in her hand – and maybe even a key to understanding a proposed new name for an epoch in Earth’s history. But the woman is a product of the industrial revolution, and that scissors she holds for cutting flowers is made of steel from a plant in the East that’s fired by coal; so with the stove pipe jutting from the house. The dress she wears, the clothing her children wear, that’s made of cotton in a mill that may be powered by coal. South Dakota State Climatologist Dennis Todey Looking backward to see ahead added that it is more than just climate change that is wrapped up in that discussion of whether to call a new age the Anthropocene. “I think this even includes human issues with climate change, but land use changes and conversion of wild lands to agricultural and a much more ‘managed’ state,” Todey said. [Lance Nixon, Pierre Capital Journal]
And:
SDSU scientists Bruce Millett and W. Carter Johnson, working with Glenn Guntenspergen of the U.S. Geological Survey, tracked 95 years of weather data from 18 weather stations throughout the region. They published that far-reaching study, “Climate trends in the North American prairie pothole region 1906-2000” in 2009 in the journal Climatic Change and have continued to research the topic since then. They chose the 18 weather stations for the completeness of the weather records available at those locations and because the 18 sites are well distributed across smaller ecoregions within the Prairie Pothole Region, or PPR. “Drainage of wetlands in the wetter, eastern PPR has lowered the potential of the PPR to produce waterfowl in a warmer greenhouse climate,” the scientists wrote in their study. [Nixon, SDSU scientists: Climate change may limit size of nation’s “duck factory”]
South Dakota's legislature is dominated by Republicans who ignore the effects of the Anthropocene and lobbyists are lining up to stuff their pockets with cash.

South Dakota Democrats are concerned about climate change and debated language at the state convention in Yankton.

12/28/14

Bosque birds delight visitors

Click on any image to get a better look.


Titmouse;



Roadrunner;





Sharp-shinned or ferruginous hawk;



Heron;





Golden eagle feasting on snow goose;



Adult and juvenile bald eagles;



Sandhill cranes;



Sandhills cranes front, snow geese at back of image;





Ducks; 



Golden or immature bald eagle;



Shovelbill;




Canada geese.

12/27/14

Shannon County name as offensive as negro or squaw

South Dakota's GOP governor has little choice but to accept a county name change after voters sanctioned it even if some state Republicans are resisting because of SDGOP's long history of racism.
In the November general election, voters in Shannon County overwhelmingly approved changing the name to Oglala Lakota County, but the new name cannot go into effect without legislative action. But in the past few years, a state panel has been replacing names considered insensitive, such as Negro and Squaw from creeks and formations, and this year a proposal surfaced to replace Harney Peak in the Black Hills with Black Elk Peak. [Rapid City Journal], links mine.
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 blogger has hammered on the absence of Lakota in South Dakota high schools and on language equivalents for geographical features on SDDoT highway maps.

12/26/14

RCJ editorial: Schieffer screwed Sue, South Dakota



Patrick Duffy v. Kevin Schieffer:
If you haven't had a chance to watch the amazing documentary Dinosaur 13 on CNN or elsewhere, you're missing out on an in-depth look at one of the most compelling but also agonizing incidents in Black Hills history. Despite the fact we benefit from a major federal military base, and are a recipient state when it comes to taking in federal money, and we benefit from several national parks, forests and monuments, many South Dakotans would rather that "the feds" keep their hands out of our business. [editorial, Rapid City Journal]
No shit, right?

In 1990, Mike Verchio still owned the Continental Cafe in Hill City before it burned to the ground and Bush 41 was wimping out by not marching on Baghdad.

In a related story:


12/24/14

Ellsworth bomber range expansion going down in heavy flak

Montana Governor Steve Bullock and the state's congressional delegation are calling on federal officials to stop or make changes to the proposed expansion of the Powder River Training Complex over the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming.
Bullock said in a letter dated Monday to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx that the proposal should be dropped. And if it moves forward, the Democratic governor asked for changes, including more measures to protect civilian aircraft from harm. The Air Force acknowledged in a study released Nov. 28 that the low-altitude flights and loud sonic booms have the potential to startle ranchers, recreationists and those living on four reservations in the region. [Associated Press]
Senator don Juan Thune (earth hater-SD) needs to land a major policy achievement to maintain any credibility among his party's faithful: he is failing to do that.

PRTC is to Montana as the Keystone XL pipeline to the US: only politicians win anything. No deposit, no return.

Thank you, Montana. Peace on Earth, good will to sage grouse, tribal nations and general aviation.

Climate change deniers dominate South Dakota Legislature

A Capital Journal survey of South Dakota state lawmakers done before the 2014 general election showed that of those lawmakers who responded, only one-third believed human-induced climate change is occurring. In contrast, half of those who responded do not believe that humans are causing climate change. Though some South Dakota lawmakers from both parties believe that human-induced climate change is occurring, there’s no bipartisan support for the idea that human-induced climate change is not occurring. That side of the issue is driven entirely by one party – Republicans – giving the discussion of climate change a distinctly partisan flavor. 
When asked whether human-induced climate change is currently occurring:
• 3 percent said yes (6 Republicans, 13 Democrats)
 
• 48 percent said no (27 Republicans, 0 Democrats) [Joel Ebert, Pierre Capital Journal]
In stark contrast:
We, the South Dakota Democratic Party:
• Recognize that the effects of Climate Change are and will continue to negatively impact South Dakota, and urge Federal, State, and local governments to adopt policies that manage those effects.
• Support Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) new carbon standards for coal fire power plants
• Enforcement of our state and federal environmental laws must be strictly enforced. Those responsible for polluting and/or degrading the quality of South Dakota land, air, or water must be held responsible for their actions. Prompt clean-up must be conducted at the expense of the responsible parties.
A reader of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader knows why the GOP-dominated legislature chooses cluelessness:
Furthermore, all 34 GOP-solid states will soon be pressured by ALEC, the well-known S.D. legislative crony/lobbyist, who will want state-level obstruction to EPA and nullification of the Fed Clean Power Plan. Proof abounds that we are already in the Earth’s sixth extinction period. Climate disruption is more than a potential threat. Global warming is an absolute certainty. Therefore, climate disruption will continue to plague the planet. Climate disruption has already played its hand in recent years and in various ways. Therefore, the heating of our planet will continue for many decades regardless of what we do. We simply want to slow the process down. [David L. Wegner, Congress’ budget jeopardizes life on Earth]

SDDP delegates debate the platform during the state convention in Yankton.

12/23/14

Racist Rapid City ready to rupture

Daniel Tiger chose to take out two enemy police personnel with him rather than be gunned down in cold blood like Christopher Capps was.

Lakota Country Times editor and Native Sun News reporter, Karin Eagle is speaking out after another American Indian is killed in Rapid City.
"There's a lot of antagonizing factors that people aren't taking into consideration, that this isn't the first death by police," Eagle said. From Eagle's prospective, the mayor and city council are blatantly ignoring the issue. "At the city level no acknowledgement of the problem even exists. There can be no change unless somebody addresses it. The people in power need to address it," Eagle said. [KOTA teevee]
State officials are scrambling to address a problem that they created at Statehood.

The South Dakota GOP thrives on violence.

Under the Rounds and Daugaard administrations the rates of violent crime in the failed red state have increased dramatically. GOP leadership in the state, especially in Rapid City, has fostered conditions where reported aggravated assaults have increased 100%.

South Dakota's red state legislature loves violence but believes cannabis is evil. As the failed red state concentrates on cannabis interdiction and the incarceration of non-whites rather than on violent crime, the state's residents are falling through the cracks.

A heartbreaking plea from Pine Ridge appeared in the rez blogosphere recently:

"Far more harm than good has been done by the presence of Christian groups and non-profits on the reservation (non-profits are modern era heirs to the legacy of early Christian groups). Christianity and non-profits on reservations have mostly been about profiteering, exploitation, religious indoctrination, and culture subversion."

The GOP has failed: it's time for real leaders.

Bill Moyers reports on "Savage Anxieties:"






Klein: GOP governors using ObamaCare denial to rip states off

South Dakota is bribing attorneys to practice in the state.
Most states won't want to rip themselves off that badly, at least not for long. And all a state would need to do to receive full benefits under the law is say yes to some form of the Medicaid expansion and build their own exchange. But Obamacare is powerfully politicized, and some Republican governors or legislatures might hate the law enough to hold their state back. That leaves 15 states who haven't accepted the Medicaid expansion and haven't built their own exchange: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin. Those states, according to 2013 Census numbers, had about 103 million residents — or roughly a third of the country's population. Ripping yourself off out of political spite is not an obvious electoral winner, of course. [Ezra Klein, Red states are using Obamacare to rip themselves off]
The state's GOP senators are pledging to stop coverage for the uninsurable.



12/22/14

South Dakota Progress going forward with candidate training



Leaders in South Dakota Progress, plus long-time members of the South Dakota Democratic Party, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community and representatives of tribal nations, are investing in the future of SDDP.
Following a meeting of State Democratic Party officials with South Dakota Progress founders earlier this month, newly elected state Democratic Party Chairwoman Ann Tornberg said her understanding is that South Dakota Progress will recruit candidates for local-level positions like school boards and township boards. Joe Lowe, the state party’s newly elected vice chairman, expressed a similar view that South Dakota Progress will focus on city council and other local races. Mike Wilson, chairman of the Pennington County Democratic Party, has met with the group and thinks it will be complementary. “They didn’t split off from the party,” Wilson said. “They kind of emerged from frustration with the existing process. They weren’t part of the existing process, but they’re trying to join and they want their own voice.” [Seth Tupper, Rapid City Journal]

Editorial: South Dakota foolish to ignore global warming

Chemist Jihong Cole-Dai keeps a winter coat in his office at South Dakota State University in Brookings even in the hottest part of summer. He needs it every time he brings another section of ice out of a university deep freeze storage unit in order to melt it down and study the chemical make-up of the ice. “The question on climate change is whether it is happening and whether it is related to human activity. The clear answer to both questions from a scientific perspective is yes,” Cole-Dai said. “Essentially, humans have the ability to influence our environment in a big way, especially starting in the 19th century with the start of the industrial revolution.” Cole-Dai said burning of fossil fuels such as coal had side effects that are apparent in ice core samples from Greenland. “Starting from the 1850s, there is this clear tend of increasing sulfate amounts in snow samples,” Cole-Dai said. “That timing is clearly tied to the start of the industrial revolution.” [Lance Nixon, Mysteries in Fire and Ice]
The Industrial Revolution and European settlement in the New World took hardwoods for charcoal then humans allowed fast-growing conifers to replace lost forests.
If climate change is real, then South Dakota would be utterly foolish to ignore it. Without a doubt politics has been involved on both sides of the global warming discussion. But doubtless if Svante Arrhenius were alive today, that great believer in the power of humans to alter climate for the better would doubtless want his idea to be considered on its merits, not for his politics. [editorial, Pierre Capital Journal], links mine.
In the Mountain West vast tracts of land have been cleared by bark beetles where aquifers are being recharged: a practice well known to pre-Columbian cultures who burned forests to increase ungulate populations.

South Dakota's junior senator is waffling on climate change:
Notice something different about Sen. John Thune? “Climate change is occurring, it’s always occurring,” Thune said. “There are a number of factors that contribute to that, including human activity. The question is, what are we going to do about it and at what cost?” Thune now clearly comes down on the side of the vast majority of scientists when he acknowledges climate change. He even notes that man does contribute, in some measure, to climate change, and that it is something that lawmakers can affect. [editorial, Aberdeen American News]
Instead of science, politics determines how public lands are managed: the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming are prime examples. Ponderosa pine is extremely high in concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) yet it is routinely replanted because the timber lobby owns the Black Hills National Forest.


12/20/14

Bonner: Thune, Noem, Rounds the 3 Stooges


Even this writer is disappointed in the actions of one of our Congressional delegation, whom she has labelled the three stooges. They are "Tune", "No," and "Robot." Two call themselves senators, one of whom is the senator-elect. "Tune" has said outrageous things as part of the regressive leadership team. Leading us where? Destruction, perhaps? Could it be that the feds care more about our planet, our wildlife, and our health than do the three stooges, Kristi "No" Noem, John "Tune" Thune, and Mike "Mikey Robot" Rounds? This writer believes that to be the case. [Hazel Bonner, Thune's actions against EPA aren't 'sportsmanlike']

12/19/14

Betty Olson: global warming bunk because it's cold

Betty Olson is an earth hater South Dakota legislator defending the Bundyists in Nevada.
Winter wasn’t supposed to start until the Dec. 20, but it arrived a little early. The United Nations is holding a Climate Change conference in Lima, Peru, to combat global warming and they want the United States to pony up billions of dollars to control our energy use while China and third world countries can pollute all they want. What a waste of money! Remember back in the seventies when the alarmists were predicting that we were all going to die in the next ice age? I don’t know about you, but I loved the “global warming” we had this week and I wish it would have lasted until April. [Betty Olson, take a right at the beach]
Hello, Betty? The solstice is the 21st and begins the new year for us pagans.
The latest word from scientists studying the Arctic is that the polar region is warming twice as fast as the average rise on the rest of the planet. And researchers say the trend isn't letting up. That's the latest from the 2014 Arctic Report Card — a compilation of recent research from more than 60 scientists in 13 countries. The report was released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. [Christopher Joyce, NPR]
Betty hates non-whites, too: because she can; and was reelected in a mudslide.



12/18/14

Johnson casts last Senate vote


Photo: Senator Johnson listens to US Senate candidate Rick Weiland during the South Dakota Democratic Convention in Yankton.
The marathon voting session that kept Sen. Tim Johnson and other lawmakers working through the weekend finally came to an end late Tuesday night. Johnson's late night ended with the retiring South Dakota Democrat casting his final vote – a "yes" to confirm Stephen Bough as a U.S. district judge for western Missouri. Last week, Johnson said goodbye to the Senate in a 13-minute speech that at times criticized how Washington has changed during his time in office. Johnson went to great lengths to underscore the need to compromise and bemoaned a growing lack of bipartisanship in Congress, at times referencing final speeches from lawmakers such as former Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle. "Each party, rather than work cooperatively for the American people, is more and more focused on winning the next election. Mr. President, we have lost our way," Johnson said during his farewell remarks. [Christopher Doering, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
Read Vermillion Plain Talk coverage linked here.

It's time to move LNI out of Rapid City

A police department known to be 'a bunch of racists' recently passed over a person of color for a leadership position and upheld its history of white supremacy.
Rapid City’s police chief has denied a permit request for a “police brutality awareness walk” that was planned for Friday. In a news release, the department said Chief Karl Jegeris decided against approval because of the timing coinciding with the Lakota Nation Invitational, a sporting event that is expected to draw 2,500 youths and their families to the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. [Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
When Garrison Keillor opened A Prairie Home Campanion in the Rapid City Civic Center Theatre on November 20, 1999 he cited a statistic that Pennington County has the highest per capita gun ownership in the United States. A nervous chuckle rolled through the audience.

The number of experiences that i have had in gun and pawn shops in Rapid City that have taken me aback are too numerous to count. Two are vivid: a fifteen year old with mother in tow pointing at a Glock in a case saying: "that one" and a man buying five AK-47s with cash.
Christopher J. Capps, 22, who died of multiple gunshot wounds on Sunday night at Rapid City Regional Hospital, had been accepted by the University of South Dakota – Vermillion. Described as a “very outgoing” young man, Capps was well known around the neighborhood where was shot in a hail of bullets that may have ranged as high as five or six shots from Sheriff Department deputy David Olson, a nearly five-year veteran of the department. [Native Times]
The people involved in this skirmish are not the first casualties of this war; nor are they the last.
Most, and we do mean most, Native Americans believe that the Rapid City Police and Pennington County Sheriffs still profile Indians in traffic stops and in other arrests. Profiling means looking at people of a different race much more closely than at people of the white race. This means stopping them more frequently for traffic violations real or imagined or just for being an Indian walking down Main Street and looking suspicious.
Every time we see that the police department has hired a bunch of new officers and their pictures are published in the local daily, all the Indian community sees are a bunch of new, white faces. And we wonder why there are no Indians represented in the new hires. Whose fault is that? Who does the hiring?
It’s like the situation in Ferguson, Missouri where the community is almost 60 percent black and yet of the 53 police officers on the force only 3 are African American. So look at the mess that city is in now and it is not beyond imagination that the same thing could happen in Rapid City given the right or wrong set of circumstances. The writing is on the wall and it is high time that the Rapid City Police Department wake up and smell the coffee. Forewarned is forearmed and we don’t want to be the ones to say “I told you so” should violence erupt between the Indian community and the Rapid City Police Department. [excerpt, Tim Giago, posted at Indianz]
Here is another look at Rapid City's failure to serve and protect: Racist City, SD, (Rapid City), Where Life is Violent, and Often Deadly.

Black Hills State University is aptly suited to host LNI: Rapid City has blown it.


12/17/14

BHEP part of Chaco encroachment



Even as prices plummet, Rapid City-based Black Hills Corp. remains focused on its substantial oil and natural gas holdings in the Mancos Shale within the San Juan and Piceance basins. The firm is bankrolling water diversions, too.

Now, fracking is adding to the methane bubble over the Four Corners area from leaks and flaring escalating a serious threat to Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
In the first installment of KUNM’s new series Drilling Deep, we explore northwestern New Mexico – and the Chacoan landscape. “I get an overwhelming feeling of, I'm coming back to a wonderful ancient place," says Paul Reed, an archaeologist with the nonprofit Archaeology Southwest. “It might sound a little corny, but a lot of people have that quasi-religious experience driving into Chaco.” The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s plan for the area is more than ten years old. Now, this federal agency, which is in charge of leases and regulations, is trying to catch up. A new plan would open more land to oil drilling. And that has people like archaeologist Paul Reed worried development will press further south. And even closer to Chaco. But just recently, oil prices started coming down. Way down. So, what does that mean for the Chaco and the San Juan Basin? Right now, nobody really knows for sure. [Laura Paskus, KUNM]
The sign for Black Hills Exploration and Production in Bloomfield, New Mexico was head-snapping on the recent drive to Chaco Wash.
Susana Martinez may also be acting out to a national audience as she is always mentioned on the “short list” of Republican VP candidates for 2016, but behind the scenes she and NMED Secretary Ryan Flynn are quietly fighting New Mexico citizens by supporting polluting industries, going against EPA guidelines and passing their own version of “The Copper Rule,” which allows mining, oil, gas and dairy industries to continue to pollute groundwater on their property as long as it doesn’t leave the property. [Alex Jacobs, Indian Country Today]
Note that the oil and gas industry creates mountains of radioactive waste like filter socks looking for disposal sites even as New Mexico's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) recovers from breaches.

When Black Hills Corp. greases candidates like Heather Wilson while South Dakota's Board of Minerals and Environment makes conflicts of interest harder to find and the Public Utilities Commission is stacked with Republicans, the blur of the revolving door is vertiginous .

Alaska Natives are applauding President Obama for stopping new leases for drilling in Bristol Bay: he can stop it at Chaco, too.

12/16/14

Daugaard chucks $56M at rail industry

Crony capitalism lives large in South Dakota. TIGER grants were trimmed in the Cromnibus but there's nothing quite like greasing the GOP path to a chemical toilet.

From State News: links mine.
The first project is the reconstruction of the Mitchell to Rapid City (MRC) Rail Line. The $29.9 million project between Chamberlain and Presho will upgrade 42.6 miles of rail line to handle modern rail traffic.
The MRC project is being funded by $12.7 million in federal TIGER funds; $7.2 million appropriated by the Legislature during the 2014 session; $7 million in grants and loans from the Railroad Trust Fund; $1 million from the farmers and private investors of Rails to the Future; $1 million from Dakota Southern Railroad; and $1 from a Future fund grant.
The second project is an agreement with the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern Railroad (RCP&E) to construct two new railroad sidings along the old DM&E line. The $7.5 million project includes a 10,000-foot siding in the Huron area and a 7,500-foot siding near Aurora. RCP&E has committed to giving $3.75 million for the project, which the state will match with Future Funds.
For the third project, the state will partner with Dakota & Iowa Railroad to invest $7.3 million to upgrade the Sioux Valley Line in southeast South Dakota. The project will include upgrading nine bridges on the line, which will allow the line to handle 286,000-pound rail cars. In addition, a section of track that is currently in an area subject to landslides will be moved.
The last project, an upgrade of the Britton Line in northeast South Dakota, will include $5.25 million in funds from the Dakota Missouri Valley & Western, as well as $5.25 million in loans from the state Rail Board and $1 million in Future Funds. The $11.5 million project includes constructing the south leg of a wye at Jarrett Junction and replacing 29 miles of light rail with heavy rail to enable the railroad to handle heavy modern traffic.
Of course, Future Fund recipients were donors to Governor Daugaard's reelection war chest. $4 million in Future Funds will be doled out to interested SDGOP parties writing proposals on the backs of $100-dollar bills and putting them into the pockets of apparatchiks at the state Department of Transportation.

12/15/14

Richards: GOP using South Dakota as waste dump


Reed Richards is an attorney practicing in Deadwood and Spearfish: he is also Treasurer for the Lawrence County Democrats.
The Rapid City Journal recently applauded the EPA for its actions on the Gilt Edge Mine disaster. Why don’t South Dakota newspapers do some reporting on why the EPA has had to declare the area a Super Fund Site?
The record is clear. In the 1980’s, Gov. Bill Janklow and his Republican toadies forced through the approval of the Brohm Mining permit (it’s good for business, you know) even though knowledgeable opponents clearly pointed out that the bond was inadequate (so far, by about $90 million tax dollars and still counting).
So, what’s the moral of this story? Have you heard of the Trans Canadian Pipeline? Good for business, the Republican politicians say. They don’t need a big bond because their pipeline will never leak (really?). Besides, if it does leak, they will clean it up (sure they will). They won’t go bankrupt like Brohm, (we have their word on that) and leave the taxpayers holding the bag.
This bullroar is South Dakota’s very own Groundhog Day. When will the citizens stand up and tell the South Dakota Republican politicians to stop using South Dakota as a waste dump so their business supporters can make millions at the expense of South Dakota’s clean air and water. [Reed Richards, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, links mine.]
Photo: Rapid City Journal.

South Dakota media have no Democrat to speak on background

When media in South Dakota need a Democrat in the state to speak about actions in Congress they have nobody to call. It won't be Rick Weiland or Pat Duffy or Bernie Hunhoff or even Bob Burns and it certainly won't be South Dakota Democratic Party's new chair, Ann Tornberg or vice-chair, Joe Lowe.

KELO teevee chooses to quote Al Franken (D-MN) when it needs a statement.

So, who will it be? Cory Heidelberger? Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether? Anyone? Bueller?

When there are Democratic Party chairs in Harding, Butte, Ziebach, Corson, Clark, Douglas, Faulk, Haakon, Hutchinson, Jackson, Jones, Potter, Sully, and Todd Counties i will think about sending another fucking cent to a South Dakota Democrat.

12/14/14

Tornberg, Lowe will lead South Dakota Dems

Ann Tornberg, of Beresford, has been selected by the party's state central committee as the new chairwoman. Joe Lowe, of Piedmont, will serve as the party's vice chairman. [KSFY]
Opinions are mixed. Here are some comments lifted from Madville Times:
Epidemic civic illiteracy in both parties fuels this largely pointless political combat that has raged for decades. Whether the head of a state political party supports or resists Roe and its progeny means nothing in jurisprudential reality, but almost everything in political reality. -- Patrick Duffy.
Now that Tornberg has won she has the pressure on her now to do what she has promised to do. Which is to get down to the county level, find candidates for local and legislative offices, and build up from there. We'll find good people that can move up to challenge for the national offices. I wish there could have been more time given for question and answers of the Tornberg and Barth but Nick Nemic did a good job of running the election. -- Owen.
As a Democrat, I feel betrayed by the SDDP. How do we expect the party to raise funds when we elect someone who does not believe in the rights of women to choose what happens to their own bodies. Yes, abortion is not a legal issue at this time, but it is a WOMAN's issue. If the woman at the head of our party is against a woman's right to choose, how do we expect women to financially or morally support the party. -- Robin Page.
So glad to see these supportive comments about our new chair. i agree completely. I voted for Ann and Joe. Both will lead our party into the next years and help us get ready for 2016. We are in good hands and I am excited about the new energy in the party. -- Mary Perpich
I leveraged quite a bit of what I felt to be constructive criticism at the party and Zach Crago and Deb Knecht were nothing but gracious and as far as I know SD Progress was listened to with full attention. I have found many of those in the party to be adults who may not like much what some of us muckrakers say, but they are listening and are not holding hard feelings. While I'm not longer with SD Progress, I still believe that to be true. -- Tasiyagnunpa Livermont.

12/13/14

Yankton Taco Johns sold after gay slur incident

The story broke during the South Dakota Democratic Party convention as Yankton went under the national civil rights microscope for an incident that should have shamed the entire state and not just one town.

Chris is a delegate from Yankton County: he represented the LGBTQ community at a convention largely devoid of West River participation (ip photo).
The Yankton franchise came under fire in June when Tyler Brandt, a former employee, alleged the store’s manager forced him to wear a nametag that read “GAYTARD.” Management at the restaurant claimed Brandt wore the nametag on his own accord. In September, the South Dakota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and co-counsel Stephanie E. Pochop filed a lawsuit in Sioux Falls with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Taco John’s of Yankton, Inc., and Taco John’s International, Inc. The Yankton store has seen an Internet backlash since the June incident was made public. On Google, the restaurant currently pulls a 1.4 star rating with a number of negative reviews referencing the incident. [Rob Nielsen, Yankton Press and Dakotan]
Read Tyler Brandt's story here.


12/12/14

Guns, cannabis collide in Colorado, Montana

Still believe the Second Amendment is absolute? Think again.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) will make sure you lose your Second Amendment rights if you admit to ingesting cannabis or even if you are a patient being treated under the care of a doctor.

From Brian Doherty's piece at Reason:
Merely having a state medical marijuana card, BATFE insists, means that you fall afoul of Sect. 922(g) of the federal criminal code (from the 1968 federal Gun Control Act), which says that anyone “who is an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance” is basically barred from possessing or receiving guns or ammo (with the bogus assertion that such possession implicates interstate commerce, which courts will pretty much always claim it does). While the BATFE has not yet announced any concerted program to go after people who may have had legally purchased weapons before getting a marijuana card, Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project says that it’s common practice in medical marijuana-related busts that “if weapons are present, there will be gun charges added on as well.”
A Colorado organization wants to change the law in that state:
A pro-gun group is pushing a ballot initiative for 2015 that would allow users of marijuana to obtain a concealed handgun permit in Colorado. “Our goal is to have Colorado’s concealed handgun permit law sync with Colorado’s marijuana laws,” said Edgar Antillon, co-founder of Guns for Everyone. “Typically, pro-marijuana legislators are not pro-gun, and vice versa,” he said. “I trust the people more than I do the lawmakers.” [Durango Herald]
Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, another state where cannabis has been legalized, has teamed up with Colorado congress member, Jared Polis: they have introduced legislation that would end the federal prohibition.

As tribal nations mull the Justice Department's memorandum on legal cannabis within reservation boundaries and BATFE remains free to pop anybody in Indian Country more clashes and lawsuits seem inevitable.

In a related story, the so-called 'Castle Doctrine' is being tested in a Missoula, Montana trial where a shooter, allegedly under the influence of cannabis, fatally blasted a German exchange student in the face during a 'garage-hopping' incident. Gun advocate groups have bankrolled experts to testify for the defense in the case: one has been paid $44,000 thus far.


12/11/14

Senator Johnson delivers farewell address



Read coverage at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader linked here. WNAX Radio story linked here. Tom Lawrence has a perspective linked here.

Justice Department won't interfere with tribal cannabis

In another nod to tribes as the 51st State, Attorney General Eric Holder signaled to American Indian nations that they could begin building cannabis industries.
The new guidance, released in a memorandum (pdf), will be implemented on a case-by-case basis and tribes must still follow federal guidelines, said Timothy Purdon, the U.S. attorney for North Dakota and the chairman of the Attorney General's Subcommittee on Native American Issues. "The tribes have the sovereign right to set the code on their reservations," Purdon said. The policy is likely to be criticized in states opposed to marijuana sales, particularly those with Native American reservations. [Timothy M. Phelps, LA Times,] links mine.
Cherished reader and contributor, Bill Dithmer, believes cannabis could bring needed revenue to tribes trapped in South Dakota:
Legalizing the growing of hemp and the industries that would come as a result of that one act would make huge strides on the Pine Ridge Reservation. What we are doing is not working, hasn’t worked in the past, and history is a guarantee that it wont work in the future so why not perpetuate change now?
Deadwood and tribal gaming are inextricably linked: revenue from the sales of cannabis would require a change in the state's constitution then be directed to raise teacher salaries and fix a crumbling infrastructure.

12/10/14

Amtrak, BNSF urged to connect Empire Builder with Southwest Chief


Amtrak is still struggling with service on the Empire Builder through Montana and the Bakken boom.
Passenger rail advocates have blamed the delays on an increase in freight rail traffic across the northern part of the country, particularly oil trains coming out of North Dakota. However, freight and passenger congestion in Chicago – the crossroads of North America’s rail lines – is another contributing factor. In October, the westbound Empire Builder, No. 7, was on time just 6.5 percent of the time. The eastbound train, No. 8, was on time 19.4 percent – a big improvement when compared to June of this year when it had a zero percent on time rate. According to data from the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana, 15,143 fewer passengers have taken the train to Whitefish in 2014 versus 2013; a 27 percent decrease from last year. [Justin Franz, Flathead Beacon]
Santa Fe has joined other New Mexico communities to support the Southwest Chief.
The City of Santa Fe could take a financial hit in tourism revenue if service stops to nearby Lamy. A loss of passenger service along the current route would cost New Mexico about $3 million annually and 56 jobs, the AP reports, citing a state-commissioned study. [Justin Horwath, Santa Fe Reporter]
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.

Coal drives the traffic between the Southwest Chief depot in Trinidad, Colorado and Denver: easy money for Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

There is a rich history of rail travel between Denver and Cheyenne, Wyoming even on to Deadwood.
The E9 locomotive is a living relic of the 1950’s - iconic high-speed diesel electric engines just like it hauled famous passenger trains including the City of Denver, the City of San Francisco and the City of St. Louis during the waning years of the golden age of passenger rail travel. All along the Union Pacific line from Denver to Cheyenne, thousands stood next to the tracks to watch the train cruise by. [Nathan Heffel, KUNC]
Wyoming highway 59 between Douglas and Gillette is killing people and strangling traffic: passenger rail would bring some order to that chaos. BNSF Railway's Burlington Route connects Cheyenne with Laurel, Montana just west of Billings where it intersects with Montana Rail Link.

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe has strong rail connecting Laurel and Great Falls with the Empire Builder at Shelby.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) wants to restore the Hiawatha Line and a Montana legislator wants BNSF to rebuild that track, too.

Building two east-west rail systems exclusively for freight in South Dakota is lunacy.

Build track and bed good enough to offer passenger service from Minneapolis through Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Cheyenne with stops near tribal communities to link with the proposed line between the Empire Builder at Shelby and the Southwest Chief at Pueblo. Sioux Falls should get behind passenger service between Omaha and the Empire Builder at Fargo, too.

12/9/14

Eberhard: torture is the moral hypocrisy of the religious right

Whose Anus Would Jesus Penetrate?

From Patheos' what would JT do? Links mine.
The United States defied every principle for which we claimed to stand and we did, in fact, torture people. And I can tell you right now which demographic largely won’t feel a tinge of remorse. It will be the ones who voted for George W. Bush. It will be those wrapping themselves in the American flag and still announcing their superior patriotism. It will be those who believed god was, and still is, at their backs. It will be those who conflated waterboarding prisoners with supporting the troops. It will be the ones perpetually worked up into a frothing rage at the idea of same-sex marriage, but who will shrug off waterboarding as not that big of a deal. It will be the fundamentalist Christians who can’t stomach the prospect of two men having consensual, pleasurable anal sex who will look at a brutal, sick, flagrantly immoral practice like forced rectal feeding and, with the sense of moral superiority that only seems available through unflinching faith in Jesus, say it was for the greater good – they had it coming.
Read more from the essay by JT Eberhard at Patheos.

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]