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.

Local news drives Web traffic!

Traffic spikes from HB 1237 and Madison bond election. Who says local news doesn't drive Web traffic?

The Madison 9-12 Project meets tonight at 6 p.m. at the VFW. "Rodeo Clown in Charge" Jason Bjorklund says "public education" is on tonight's agenda. How could public education not be on the agenda? Everyone in town is talking about Tuesday's failed bond election. My Wednesday post on Plan C drew lots of local Web traffic, beating even the spike from Monday's discussion of Hal Wick's silly gun mandate legislation. Perhaps the 9-12ers will finally direct their political attentions toward vital local issues of taxation and representation. Maybe tonight's meeting will even rouse some local "throw the bums out!" spirit and produce some candidates seeking to purge the local school board that brought us the soundly rejected gold-plated new gym plan.

My current Madville Times poll on Plan C suggests that not everyone has gotten the message that a new gym masquerading as a renovation plan won't fly with the voters. "Same plan" is neck-and-neck with "Renovate, but no gym" as top vote-getter so far. (Poll remains open until breakfast Monday: if you haven't already, vote now, and send your friends!)

Also not getting the message: Madison Central school board member Ryan Hegg, who appears on the front page of last night's Madison Daily Leader to advocate taking another swing at "renovation efforts." Hegg openly swallows the "domino effect," the thesis promoted by the district that the new gym and renovation combo plan is the only way to solve the school's problems:

"So a plan that involves staying in the footprint of the building is not a practical one," Hegg said. "You just cannot get the required wheelchair access in bathrooms, etc., within the current footprint of the rooms."

He explained that fixing the building's problems with the Americans with Disabilities Act means moving walls "and when you move one wall, it encroaches into another room, making it too small, and so on and so on" [Chuck Clement, "Hegg: Retry Renovation Efforts," Madison Daily Leader, 2011.02.03].

...and so on, and so on, until you reach the inescapable logical conclusion of a new 2500-seat gym.

Of course, you might miss the fact that there was a gym involved in the plan just from reading the paper. MDL's Chuck Clement doesn't mention the word gym until 78% of the way into the article. Even then, board member Hegg refers only to "physical education," not extracurricular sports. This is the same manipulative soft-pedaling of the biggest, most expensive, and most unnecessary part of the "renovation" plan that the school and local media have been perpetrating since day one, a spin that I would suggest played no small role in inspiring the lack of public confidence that resulted in a 50% No vote on Tuesday.

Hegg's statements are the first public comment I've heard from current board members on what might come next. I hope his statements are his own and not a trial balloon approved by the entire board. If it's just Hegg who's wrong, we can make progress. But if the entire board is rejecting the clearly expressed will of the people and clinging to the extremist position that building a new gym is the only way to fix the high school, we're in for another spin-filled, futile bond campaign and more delay of the repairs the high school really needs.


p.s.: In a smart PR move, Doug Knowlton is off to Washington, D.C., where he will likely be too busy to alientate any more potential Yes voters.


Some strange part of me is pleased to see Jason Bjorklund has recovered from his fourth-place finish and called a meeting of the local Glenn Beck club.

Now would be an ideal time for the Madison 9-12 Project to direct its anti-government attentions to practical local issues. We have a school bond election on February 1 that would raise their local taxes and increase the local public debt by $16.98 million. We have a school district engaged in abuses of the sanctity of the ballot box arguably as shady as anything the Glenn Beckers think ACORN did. We have petitions circulating to put to public vote a revised zoning ordinance that raises interesting questions of property rights and access of government officials to private land. And by the end of the month, individuals will be able to take out petitions for two seats on the Madison City Commission and the Madison Central School Board.

I appreciated the public service the Madison 9-12 Project performed last year, bringing more candidates for statewide office to Madison for public discussions than did either of the local political parties. Unfortunately, the group fell back into its usual abstract discussions of "legislation, taxation, and regulation" without digging into the practical application of those issues to state and local politics.

Bjorklund gained valuable campaign experience in the District 8 House race. Will he learn from his mistakes and help his group translate its energy into practical local action that could directly benefit the loal community and rein in possible overreach by local government? Or will the 9-12 Project remain a mostly harmless pitchfork Toastmasters, making speeches but not having much impact on politics?

Mr. Bjorklund has yet to take me up on my offer to come lead a discussion with the 9-12ers about the application of their principles to local politics. Nonetheless, I offer a dream list of outcomes for Friday's meeting:

  1. The group nominates at least two candidates for city commission and two for school board and plans signature-gathering and door-knocking teams for both races.
  2. The group gets petitions from Charlie Scholl and organizes a signature drive on the zoning ordinance comparable to the push they made in April on health reform repeal.
  3. The group issues press releases on both the school bond election and the possible zoning ordinance referendum.
  4. The group resolves to write a formal complaint to Secretary of State Gant (who attended their May 2010 meeting) about irregularities in the conduct of early voting the school bond election.

A Twitter friend sighs that the 9-12ers will probably just keep talking "tyranny." I hope the Glenn Beck club will not let hyperbolic fantasies about "tyranny" in Washington distract them from real political needs here in our own community.

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Glenn Beck exhorts his little 9-12 clubs to shout "We surround them!" In Iowa, once a month, the Glenn Beck clubs will get to shout, "We surround the governor!" WingNUTT Mike Studer of the Spencer Tea Party reports that Governor-Elect Terry Branstad will keep his campaign promise to have monthly meetings with an "advisory group consisting of 912ers,tea partiers.minutemen etc." (Minutemen... wow! Since when was it cool to openly associate with thugs and racists?)

Studer is inviting members of the Sioux Falls Glenn Beck club to attend... which make complete sense, since the Sioux Falls Glenn Beckers are as in tune with real Iowa political issues as the Iowa Teabags probably are. If the Iowa Glenn Beck clubs are anything like South Dakota's 9-12ers, Governor Branstad will find himself wasting a good hour each month talking about talk-radio bogeyman issues that have little to no bearing on the daily practical governance of his state. But I guess part of the job as an elected official is to listen to every citizen... even the ones with no clue about how the social contract works.

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