Scott Waltman offers this breakdown of all the help we taxpayers have given the now-bankrupt Northern Beef Packers in Aberdeen. Depending on how you count the dollars, Waltman's report shows that Pierre has given almost $5.8 million either directly to NBP or to other entities performing work on behalf of NBP. The state Board of Economic Development has offered another $5 million in the form of a loan commitment made in 2010 and extended last February, but NBP has never met the financial milestones necessary to qualify for that loan. The Economic Development Finance Authority has offered another $20 million loan commitment backed by USDA Rural Development. By my read of Waltman's report, the actual amount of state dollars that have disappeared into NBP is $2.9 million.

Now expand the view. The now-notorious Chinese and Korean EB-5 visa investors, the wealthy folks South Dakota helped to buy green cards for themselves and their families, have plunged $80 million into NBP. In 2010, NBP had to secure an additional $30 million short-term construction loan from secret investors in the British Virgin Islands. White Oak Global Advisors loaned NBP another $35 million last September. NBP managed to sell just about $7 million in TIF bonds last year. That's about $152 million of investment capital that NBP has made disappear.

On top of those burned-up investments, NBP has 277 creditors lined up for as-yet untotaled millions, not to mention 260 workers who apparently worked for free in July.

But we all know money doesn't just disappear. It always lands in someone's pocket. So who are those someones? Where'd the money go? Was it all lost in delays and mistakes? How did a $40-million slaughterhouse turn into a $115-million project? Taxpayers, investors, and workers deserve to know.