*****This is the last post on the Madville Times, because...

Dakota Free Press screen cap

Click to read more!

I am now blogging at Dakota Free Press. I invite you to update your bookmarks, RSS feeds, Twitter and Facebook follows, and subscriptions accordingly.

27 comments

I might find South Dakota's religious right wing more tolerable if they'd stop bullying our LGBT neighbors and kids and get back to saying crazy stuff about sustainability and Agenda 21.

Here, wingnut friends, look at the Green Aberdeen project that Ipswich United Church of Christ Pastor Enno Limvere is promoting:

Green Aberdeen will concentrate on community action, education and advocacy, he said.

The group plans to take on projects, such as cleaning up along Moccasin Creek, Limvere said. It will also look to educate people about climate change and what they can do to help. As for advocacy, he said, Green Aberdeen will check into things, such as why the present city recycling program doesn’t accept glass.

The goal, he said, is to make Aberdeen a more sustainable community.

“Burlington, Vt., is now 100 percent renewable energy,” he said. “We could come up with 25-50 percent” [Elisa Sand, "Green Aberdeen Advocates Increased Sustainability," Aberdeen American News, 2015.03.03].

Hear hear on the glass recycling! There are practical economic reasons cities may decline to collect glass, but nothing that separate bins can't solve!

Limvere's plan sounds good, but then he tips his globalist hand:

Limvere said global change will require the support of the United Nations, but individual communities are already rising up to make a difference.

“There are communities that are bagless,” Limvere said, explaining that customers at stores bring their own reusable shopping bags.

On a much smaller scale, he said, people can simply make a conscious effort to use less energy. And that can start with simply unplugging charger cords from outlets. Because those chargers, even when a phone isn’t plugged in, will still use electricity.

“We’re making goals for 2030,” he said. “It’s about sustainability. How can we live as a community so we’re not just adding to the dump site” [Sand, 2015.03.03].

United Nations?!? Aaaaaahhh! Pastor Enno is calling in the UN to take away our plastic bags and ration our phone time!

Pastor Enno's plans sound much more fun than picking on transgender kids. Come to Green Aberdeen's next meeting—Monday, March 16, 7 p.m., downtown at the Red Rooster here in Aberdeen—and see what you can do to make Aberdeen greener. Blue helmets are optional.

4 comments

Speaking of religion and bullying, House State Affairs showed a modicum of decency last week and killed House Bill 1220, certain conservatives' continued attempt to disguise anti-LGBT legislation in freedom of religion.

Eight committee Republicans joined two Democrats in deferring HB 1220 to the 41st day, leading right-wing blogger Bob Ellis to shout that Republicans hate religion. (At least South Dakota Republicans; Indiana Senate Republicans voted unanimously for a similar pro-discrimination bill last week.)

Ellis notes that Equality South Dakota did not testify against HB 1220. Curtis Price explains EqSD's absence from House State Affairs last week:

Equality South Dakota and many of our allies strongly opposed this bill, and, in coordination with others, encouraged our members to track it through our Facebook group.

Equality South Dakota did not testify on HB 1220 since the way it was written the bill did not directly address LGBT issues. It was felt if EqSD would testify, this would bring attention that this is a LGBT related bill and thereby hinder the possibility of killing it [Curtis Price, "HB 1220 Killed," Equality South Dakota blog, 2015.02.28].

I understand the tactical decision, though I cringe at the fact that LGBT is such a dirty acronym in South Dakota that an equal rights organization's best tactic on vile legislation is silence. Bob Ellis views EqSD's tactics as more of the nefarious gay agenda luring unsuspecting dupes into something like political rape:

The homosexual movement has learned that if it can get “useful idiots” in more mainstream organizations to do its dirty work for it, the odds of success for their agenda are much better than if people actually realize the investment of the homosexual agenda in the issue [Bob Ellis, "Religious Freedom Again Treated with Contempt by South Dakota ‘Republicans’," American Clarion, 2015.03.02].

The "useful idiots" in this case are the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, the South Dakota Association of County Commissioners, the Board of Regents, and the Department of Corrections, all of whom testified that HB 1220 is not just unnecessary but harmful to basic governmental functions, not to mention civil rights.

I suppose I'm just another useful idiot who hasn't noticed the gay-agendeers pulling his strings, but as a member of the atheist minority in South Dakota, permit me to remind Bob that "decent, law-abiding God fearing people" are not under any "withering attack." Christianity is not about to disappear. Neither, alas, is Bob's hateful theology.

8 comments

House Bill 1201, which Dakota Rural Action has deemed the worst of the CAFO bills in this year's Legislative Session, heads to Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources this morning at 10:00. HB 1201, the only bill on the committee's agenda, would make it harder for citizens concerned about stink, water contamination, and other damage caused by big livestock feedlots to block such harmful ag-industrial developments in their neighborhoods.

Dakota Rural Action's excellent legislative blog notes that the state, which views farming as nothing but economic development, not land stewardship or community building, goes to great lengths to promote big CAFOs. This post from Meghan Thoreau describes the state's County Site Analysis Program and its focus on Big Ag:

The Program has been under development for the past several years and involves several key players, such as the South Dakota Department of Agriculture, First District Association of Local government, Planning and Development District III, Turner County Landowner Value Added Finance Authority Board Member and a few others. As it stands today the program is attempting to grow AG related industries through pre-qualifying sites for Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) or Agriculturally Related Industrial Development (ARID), such as ethanol plants, cheese plants, granaries, and agricultural manufactures alike. The current methodology and analysis applied is very landowner and CAFO-ARID-operator centric, involving the landowners of pre-qualifying sites and operators of CAFO and ARID industries, with no great effort to secure public participation in the selection of sites, nor communities’ or the environment’s interests. (The only environmental factor taken into account is the area within the protected aquifer zone.) [Meghan Thoreau, "South Dakota's County Site Analysis Program," Dakota Rural Action legislative blog, 2015.02.25]

The County Site Analysis Program isn't about helping counties identify good locations for community gardens, farmers markets, or other small-scale agricultural projects that would promote sustainability and local self-sufficiency. The state wants factory farms. The County Site Analysis Program flags land for such development, and now House Bill 1201 seeks to weaken the review process that allows citizens to weigh the pros and cons of dedicating their land and water to meat and milk factories.

The state already gives factory farms numerous advantages. Let's not take away the few remaining advantages citizens have to protect their counties from over-industrialization. Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources, vote no today on HB 1201.

34 comments

There goes P&R Miscellany again, riding his Tolerance sled down his slippery slope. As he did last year when South Dakotans rejected anti-gay legislation, P&R contends that opposition to legislative efforts to repeal the SDHSAA's transgender athlete policy (HB 1161 and 1195 come before Senate Education this morning) is but the thin edge of the wedge the intolerant gay lobby will use to force things down Christians' throats:

We are fast coming to a time in this country, largely because of the offensive intolerance of the homosexual rights community, when it will be both illegal and a "hate crime" to hold to biblical morality on questions of sexuality and marriage. There is a concerted effort to demand the church cave to the immorality, vulgarity, and yes, hate of our present age. The church's schools, both Protestant and Catholic, will be the first major target.

It will start, as it is in South Dakota, with obscene regulations as a condition for participation in sports leagues. It will seem a small thing to many parents for whom athletics are the dominant purpose of a school. Once the schools give on this, though, they will find it harder to gin up the necessary will to resist further incursions and, as they will have already given some ground, the law will not support them when they try to say some other point is a line they cannot cross. Yes, presently the proposed regulation in South Dakota makes an exemption for religious schools—added only after protests. How long will that last? The "exemption" addition itself almost invites lawsuits against religious schools on this issue and the courts have indicated a rather glaring weakness in this area of religious liberty. Before it even gets to that point, we must ask what these regulations will mean when a Christian school hosts a visiting "girls" volleyball team that includes a young man who cannot deal with biological reality? What good will this "exemption" do them then? What will the Christian school do when a couple guys start making out in the stands?

Teenagers making out at basketball games! Dogs and cats living together—mass hysteria!

Accommodate transgender students in high school sports, and boys will start making out with each other? The logic escapes me, as does the challenge for crowd control. If two young people start necking in the stands, the coach or the principal or the janitor breaks them up and says such intimate physical contact is inappropriate. That simple discipline works regardless of who's kissing whom and whether they are flaunting their hormonality at Central or Roncalli.

P&R's logic remains elusive in the slippery-slope argument. He cites the willingness of the high school activities association to make an exception to its transgender policy for religious institutions as a sign that the unnamed gay lobby will get rid of exceptions for religious institutions. The status quo demonstrates its responsiveness to religious concerns, but P&R dismisses that tolerance by crying, "How long will that last?" I suspect it will last as long as the First Amendment lasts (which may not be long, since P&R's conservative compatriots in Pierre have called for an Article V Convention that increases the opportunity for the "gay lobby" and other special interests to rewrite the Constitution in ways P&R and I both might find objectionable).

Not escaping me is the high insult the often otherwise civil P&R heaps on transgender students. Young people whose brains and bodies disagree on their gender are "obscene" and "cannot deal with biological reality." P&R shouts these insults as he calls his fellow Christians to "resist" rather than "cower," but he sounds like he is rallying his discomfited majority to bully a very small minority of vulnerable youth who would just like to play basketball. Are these kids really such an abomination in the Lord's eyes that they deserve such treatment?

I hope Senate Education will eschew both insult and slippery slope this morning and shut down the bills blocking the SDHSAA's respectful and realistic transgender policy.

14 comments

When I visited Charlie Hoffman last August, the outgoing state representative and passionate prairie grasser said that the current agricultural land tax formula discourages grassland restoration and preservation and drives turning prairie grassland to row crops. Hoffman suggested our property tax system should look at actual use of ag land instead of potential use.

Toward that end, the interim committee that studied ag land assessment recommended Senate Bill 4, which would have funded research by SDSU economists on the impact of switching to an actual-use formula. SB 4 wouldn't change the tax system; it would just study a possible change.

Landowners, the Farm Bureau, the Cattlemen's Association, Ducks Unlimited, and the Izaak Walton League thought a study on actual-use assessment sounded like a good idea. The Corn Growers did not, and neither did the full Senate. Last Wednesday, the Senate killed SB 4 16–18. That may sound close, but remember that, as a bill planning to spend money (and Senate Appropriations had already one-bucked the original $151K price tag to keep the bill moving), SB 4 required a two-thirds vote, or 24 Senators. All 18 nays came from Republicans, who apparently not only won't implement a better tax system but won't even let us study possible improvements in our tax system.

15 comments

Rep. Jim Bolin (R-16/Canton) took the House floor last Tuesday and argued against the proposal from "our fine Governor" to create captive insurance companies—i.e., state-run, state-funded pools to insure a variety of state facilities. House Bills 1185, 1186, and 1187 appropriate a total of six million dollars for this purpose. All three passed the House last week with their funding intact, unlike a host of other bills that have limped out of the House with their appropriations dropped to a placeholder buck pending the resolution of economic forecasts and budget priorities.

Rep. Bolin doesn't need to wait; he already has his budget priorities in order. In a stemwinder against HB 1185, the incandescent Cantonian made a brilliant and specific case against funding a state insurance pool over other more pressing fiscal needs. He listed several of the Governor's requests for one-time money that he supports: funding Ross Shaft upgrades at the Lead science facilities, replenishing emergency funds spent in this fiscal year, helping low-income seniors make their tax payments, and recruiting medical students for rural areas. But he said the Governor's captive insurance company doesn't make his cut:

But on this program, I must draw the line. In a year when revenue increases appear to be minimal, and in age of fiscal uncertainty, we're planning to spend four million dollars on a very questionable and unneeded program that we have not deemed necesary for the last 125 years. Now I want to emphasize again, this state has survived the Great Depression of the 1930s, repeated forest fires in the Black Hills, grasshopper plagues, the farm crisis of the 1980s, and the recent Missouri River floods without captive insurance companies.

Furthermore, we're making this financial decision at the same time that we as a state, we're proposing to change our financial responsibilities by pushing the sparsity programs for rural schools, among other items, onto the local taxpayers [Rep. Jim Bolin, remarks on House Bill 1185, South Dakota House, 2015.02.24, timestamp 49:25].

Rep. Bolin refers here to a budget trick the Governor is using to inflate the state's increase in K-12 school funding from 1.5% to 2%. The state is "saving" $2.6 million by making a portion of funding for the sparsity adjustment, technology, and assessment programs to local school districts. Expect to hear more about this issue as the Legislature finally rushes toward discussion and passage of the state budget.

Showing he's not just a naysayer, Rep. Bolin lists a number of other programs that are more worth the six-millio-dollar investment:

People, this is not so much about captive insurance companies or even if I may say emancipated insurance companies so much as about our financial priorities as a state and as an elected Legislature.

There is no need to go down the captive insurance road. The four million dollars mentioned in this bill and the two million in the companion pieces of legislation can be better spent in a wide variety of areas or... in terms of our current financial situation, maybe we should just let it fall to the bottom line.

The choices we might make with this money might include fighting the pine beetle plague in the Black Hills with extra funds, buying down tuition for in-state students in our Regental universities, funding needed programs at tech schools, or helping community support providers who do much for those less fortunate in our state for a pittance. Community support providers face tremendous problems because of high turnover in their workforce because of low wages.

The bottom line is this: that this expenditure of one-time money for this purpose should not be a priority for this Legislature [Bolin, 2015.02.24, 50:23].

Pine beetle, tuition relief, tech schools, social services—those are all areas where various advocates have identified real, current harms that increased funding would immediately ameliorate. Self-insuring state buildings responds to potential, future harms that have not happened; HBs 1185, 1186, and 1187 spend money that does no immediate, tangible good for the state.

Rep. Bolin didn't win the day—the House voted 50–20 for HB 1185 and by bigger margins for the other two bills—probably because he again reminded his fellow Republicans that low wages lead to high turnover and difficulty filling jobs, something legislators don't want to think about as they take no serious steps to address South Dakota's rock-bottom teacher pay and the resultant teacher shortage.

Or maybe Rep. Bolin lost because he cited the Steve Miller Band and his colleagues are all Lynyrd Skynyrd fans. Rep. Bolin crescendoed to this impassioned plea: "In the name of Billy Joe and Bobby Sue, don't let 'em take the money and run, vote red!"

Some Republican legislators challenge the party line by saying outlandish things. Rep. Jim Bolin challenges the Governor with passion, fun, and grown-up budget priorities. I've got to respect that.

9 comments

Mr. Kurtz alerts us that our Lakota people may translate their dissatisfaction over Rapid City's response to an alleged racist attack on 57 American Horse School kids at a Rush hockey game in January into boycotts. An anonymous source tells the press the Oglala Sioux Tribe may be asking tribal schools not to hold events in Rapid City. That boycott would include the Lakota Nation Invitational, a massive athletic, academic, and arts event that brings $5 million to $6 million to Rapid City's economy. The Oglala Sioux Tribe will press an LNI boycott if tournament organizers don't move LNI to another city.

Comparing the proposed LNI boycott to the 1955–1956 Montgomery bus boycott may be instructive. The Montgomery bus boycott worked because it exerted economic pressure directly on the entity exercising discrimination, the public transit system that segregated buses. It was tolerable to the city's black residents because boycott organizers were able to organize viable alternatives to the boycotted service. Even this effective boycott ended not because the city relented but because the Supreme Court ruled that segregating buses was unconstitutional.

Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker says an LNI boycott would unfairly target Rapid City for a crime perpetrated by one guy from out of town. Indians could boycott Philip, the hometown of the man charged with throwing beer at the American Horse School kids, but who from Pine Ridge ever shops in Philip?

Boycotting LNI and other events in Rapid City does not directly target the police or the state's attorney responsible for the criminal charge that Indians perceive as insufficient. The indirect pressure on city and county officials may not outweigh the direct negative impacts on kids and families denied an opportunity to enjoy big events in Rapid City.

Boycotting communities will need to offer alternative venues and events. Moving LNI this year would be tough; it's not until December, but the contracts are already signed, and finding another West River town with enough lodging and contest space not already booked may be impossible. Alternative events may have to be part of a long-term strategy: Pine Ridge leaders may have to look at investing in larger event facilities, hotels, and restaurants that could handle LNI for one week, but making such facilities financially viable would require a broader marketing strategy that would bring other big events to town throughout the year. Turning Pine Ridge into a tournament/conference/tourism destination would be great for tribal economic self-sufficiency, but it would require far more sustained planning, investment, and collaboration than simply telling people not to go to Rapid City.

Boycotting Rapid City may register anger, but it won't convict Trace O'Connell of any stiffer charges. A boycott may comfort racists in Rapid City—Ah, fewer Indians stinking up our town! The goal can't simply be to reinforce segregation and let Whitopia stand. The goal must be to engage all parties—including us white folks—in making Rapid City a place where everyone is welcome.

p.s.: Speaking of white folks, where is the state's Tribal Relations Office? One would think that the state would take a keen interest in mediating the most prominent current white-tribal dispute in the state. But last week, the Tribal Relations Office's priority was flacking for the Department of Agribusiness and promoting CAFOs on the rez.

22 comments

Support Your Local Blogger!

  • Click the Tip Jar to send your donation to the Madville Times via PayPal, and support local alternative news and commentary!

RSS Dakota Free Press

  • SD Dems Website Pending Renewal; Sanders Promises Renewal for Red-State Democrats 2015.07.05
    Mr. Kurtz notices that the South Dakota Democratic Party website, sddp.org, isn’t working this morning, although the handsome dude in the domain-parking photo reminds me of Brendan Johnson. The party website appears to be parked, pending renewal. Not parked is the South Dakota Democratic Party Facebook page, where I find photos from an apparently well-attended speech […]
  • Aberdeen Paper Digs Referenda, Gets Vote Predictions Backwards 2015.07.05
    The Aberdeen American News weighs in with an editorial seemingly cheering the referral of the youth minimum wage and the incumbent protection plan to the November 2016 ballot. The paper seems pleased that voters will have a chance to make their voices heard. However, the paper weighs in with fuzzy predictions that seem to differ from my own assessment of […]
  • America Celebrates Fourth of July in Police State 2015.07.05
    …seven, eight, nine, ten… yup, all fingers and toes still attached. Head, too! America celebrated the Fourth of July with increased security. There was no specific plot, and no ISIS attacks happened here on our greatest national holiday. (Why strain yourselves, ISIS? We do more damage to ourselves with our fireworks with about 7,000 holiday fireworks injuries? […]
  • Guru Slaps MN Blogger for Challenging Energy-Cure Claims and Biz Practices 2015.07.05
    Mahendra Trivedi makes the outlandish claim that he can cure cancer and make cattle and crops grow better with energy from his body. If your immediate response is “Hogwash!” and you blog that response, Trivedi may sue you for defamation. Ask Minnesota blogger Dennis Lang: According to a lawsuit, the success of the “Trivedi Effect” has […]
  • Update: Post-Minimum Wage Hike, South Dakota Beats 2014 Job Growth in Five Months 2015.07.04
    Quick update on my June 24 post on job growth post-minimum wage—we can now add South Dakota’s May figures for labor force, jobs, and unemployment, plus revised figures from April, from the Department of Labor: Year Month Labor Force Jobs Unemployed Unemp% 2014 Jan 447,080 431,355 15,723 3.5% 2014 Feb 447,345 431,780 15,565 3.5% 2014 […]
  • State Government Employs 922 Veterans; Count to Rise with New Definition? 2015.07.04
    On the 239th anniversary of our country’s Declaration of Independence, I find South Dakota’s Bureau of Human Resources flying the flag and stating that our state government proudly employs 922 veterans. State government employs about 8,040 full-time equivalents, so 922 veterans represent about 11.5% of state employees. Take the Census count of 67,886 veterans in South Dakota and divide by our current workforce […]
  • Mercer: Voters Split on Referenda, Reject Partisan Laws 2015.07.04
    Inspired by our success this week in putting two new laws to a public vote, Bob Mercer looks at the recent history of the referendum in South Dakota and finds that voters have supported the Legislature on four of those votes and reversed the Legislature on five. Mercer notes that in three of those five reversal situations, […]
  • AG Jackley Wrong: County Employees Have No First Amendment Right to Refuse Marriage License 2015.07.03
    Dang: I should have run against Marty Jackley. South Dakota’s Attorney General apparently does not understand the Constitution, the separation of church and state, and need to do one’s job: Attorney General Marty Jackley says if a county employee in South Dakota has religious objections to gay marriage they can have another employee issue a marriage license […]
  • Prairie Country PAC Fighting War Against Imaginary Liberals 2015.07.03
    Prairie Country PAC is fighting civil society, or the Civil War, or something: Our values, rights, and way of life are right in the crosshairs of a left leaning press and an ever increasing liberalized Democrat state party. We need to stand united to defeat common core, stop any new tax hikes, and stand up to a Federal Government ever so […]
  • South Dakota GOP Putting Big Beef over Clean Water 2015.07.02
    Rep. Mark Mickelson (R-13/Sioux Falls) thinks South Dakota needs more confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). He pushed legislation, HB 1201, that took effect yesterday making it easier for CAFOs to get approval from county commissions. Mickelson’s HB 1201 supports his GOP leadership’s agenda of promoting more big corporate farming. The Minnehaha County Commission just last week approved a […]

South Dakota Political Blogs

Greater SD Blogosphere

SD Mostly Political Blogroll

South Dakota Media

Hot Topics

  • None found

Madville Monthly

Meta