Friend of the blog Lanny Stricherz offers this guest column to explain that GOP Senate candidate Mike Rounds and Governor Dennis Daugaard own a record of economic development failure and corruption much larger than the EB-5 scandal.
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We had a chance to remove the Rounds–Daugaard team from South Dakota politics during the primary in June, but passed on that opportunity. So now we are faced with the option of doing so in November. Will we take that opportunity this time, or are we still going to give them a pass on their utter disregard for the citizens of South Dakota?
The list of failed economic development projects, which wasted our tax dollars, goes much further than the EB-5 Northern Beef Packers bankruptcy, which cost more than a 160 million dollars, as well as more than 400 jobs lost. Among the failed economic development projects in which these two Governors invested state dollars and state employee working hours, are:
- CAFO dairy operations, two of which went bankrupt and at least one of which employed illegal immigrants not locals for the jobs as mandated by EB-5, and the others continue to pollute our lakes and streams, and only hurt the small dairy farmers in our state.
- The Big Stone II coal burner power plant, which after being fought for by our governor for years, was dumped by Minnesota's PUC as damaging the air and water surrounding it.
- The Basin Electric coal burning power plant in Selby failed for the same reason.
- The Keystone Pipeline, environmentally damaging, and bleeding 38 million dollars from South Dakota taxpayers.
- The Keystone XL pipeline which was originally approved by the Public Utilities Commission, but whose permits from South Dakota have now expired. This was caused by the delays in approval because of awareness of its potential to damage the Ogallala aquifer, the largest aquifer in the US and which serves the southwestern quarter of our state.
- Anderson Seeds, which cheated South Dakota farmers out of millions of dollars when it went bankrupt.
- The Hyperion oil refinery and coal burning power plant which the Governor was promoting as the Gorilla Project for a couple of years.
- South Dakota Children's Home Society, which siphoned off millions of taxpayer dollars while Dennis Daugaard was Lieutenant Governor and still employed by SDCH, in no-bid contracts and in violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978.
- Another no-bid contract of 5 million dollars to Manpower to recruit 1000 new employees in 3 years. It only got 83 in the first year.
- State funding of a jobs training program, which trains workers at area vo-techs. Many of the welders trained at Mitchell then fled the State to work in North Dakota in the oil fields at double the pay. (Jobs training used to be and in most cases is the responsibility of the employer, certainly not government.)
While All of this waste was/is happening Governor Rounds cut education funding 5%, and then after not answering questions about education funding during the 2010 campaign, Dennis Daugaard cut it by 6 1/2% in the 2011 legislative session. Now, Governor Daugaard is turning down tens if not hundreds of millions of federal dollars by not expanding medicaid to cover those who are working but make too much to be below the poverty level but not enough to get a subsidy to purchase their own health insurance, simply because he is opposed to Obamacare which his friend Mike Rounds helped establish.
Speaking to the Pennington County Republican Ambassadors Luncheon on the day after the 2010 election, Dennis Daugaard is quoted by Kevin Woster in the Rapid City Journal, "In their hearts, South Dakotans usually do what's right," he said. "And they don't need the government to tell them what's right."
Including Mike Rounds there are four choices for US Senator. Including Dennis Daugaard, there are three choices for Governor.
Let's hope that the voters do what is right on November 4th.
—Lanny Stricherz, guest column, submitted 2014.10.05