Last Real Indians reports an ugly racial incident at last Saturday's Rapid City Rush hockey match. 57 Lakota kids from the American Horse School came up from Allen Saturday to see the game at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center as a reward for participation in an after-school program. Alas, according to dad and chaperone some yahoos in the VIP box above them started "talking crap to our kids and throwing beer on some of the staff and the students" during the third period. Poor Bear says one of the VIP thugs invited him up to the VIP box to fight. The parents and chaperones chose to leave the game.

KOTA gets confirmation that there was a fracas Saturday:

Craig Baltzer, executive director of the civic center, says “I’ve never seen anything like this before. Some of the things being said to the children were racially charged. I don’t know how to perceive people would behave that way.”

For the last five years, the Rush – according to Baltzer – has invited the students to a game. Until Saturday, the students have had good experiences.

“I’m very disappointed in how people behaved,” Batlzer said. “We have to bring these kids back to have a good experience” [Jack Siebold, "Bad Behavior at Rush Game Targeted Native Americans," KOTA-TV, 2015.01.26].

The Rushmore Plaza Civic Center has posted an apology on Facebook. The businessman who provided the VIP box and probably the beer also expresses his regrets:

Tom Helland, president of Eagle Sales, a beer wholesaler, said his company rents the suite and allowed guests from out-of-town to use it. No one from the distributor was involved.

Helland says he is sorry about the incident and that his company is already working with the Rush to invite the kids back so they can have a better experience at a Rush game [Siebold, 2015.01.26].

So some guys get invited to enjoy some of the best seats in the arena to watch a friendly hockey game, and instead of just having fun and cheering for their team, they decide to throw their beverages and pick on children. Thank you, hockey fans, for demonstrating the opposite of manhood.

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Did you know Governor Dennis Daugaard and billionaire Denny Sanford aren't the only guys proposing a vo-tech scholarship? A month prior to the big announcement of the Build Dakota Scholarship, the Rapid City Economic Development Partnership and other interested Black Hills parties applied for one of those workforce development grants from the state. They asked for $220,000 from the state to support their $440,000 three-year plan; they got $70,000.

The Black Hills plan included all sorts of leveraging and marketing (after two years of top-secret prep, the Black Hills economic developers last year launched "a new economic development branding and marketing effort, unified as Rushmore Region"), career coaching at the K-12 level, metalwork training and certification, and more.

The Black Hills plan also included a scholarship proposal:

We are proposing to create a regional skills-based training scholarship fund, that when matched by the employers seeking the trained employees, would make possible the opportunity for many of these unemployed and often underemployed job candidates to round out their skills/certifications and thus qualify for these attractive job opportunities. This would supplement our recruitment strategy by helping our employers locate employees who are almost ready, but who lack one or two critical skills prerequisite to being hired [Rapid City Economic Development Partnership, Community Incentives Matching Program grant application, November 2014].

Great minds think alike, I guess.

Ben Snow, president of the RCEDP, tells me he and Blaise Emerson of the Black Hills Council of Local Governments are still working on details of the scholarship component of their plan:

We are... encouraged that coincidental to the day we were delivering our presentation to the workforce board, the announcement of the Sanford gift for skilled-trades scholarships was taking place in Sioux Falls and that it is very close in concept to what our proposal included, except on a statewide basis and at a much higher funding level [Ben Snow, e-mail to Madville Times, 2015.01.20].

The Build Dakota Scholarship workforce fields are to be determined within the next couple weeks. If they align with the needs our Black Hills boosters see in their workforce, the state and RCEDP should be able to pool resources and train even more workers for the Black Hills labor pool.

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When Bob Mercer calls something a "must-read," I usually believe him. But this time, when he urgently directs us to read Rep. Jacqueline Sly's (R-33/Rapid City) "wise words" on the challenges of funding education, he wastes my time. The House Education chair offers thirty sentences of no useful informational content and one sentence of unsupported blame. Here's the only sentence that matters:

In the past, actions to address the fiscal situation of the district have been delayed by the school board, administration, staff and the community because tough decisions have been derailed by emotional pleas [Rep. Jacqueline Sly, "Many Responsible for Schools' Budget Woes," Raid City Journal, 2015.01.17].

The rest of the essay is a vague meander through admin-speak about leaders proposing plans and irresponsible "public, media and staff" asking questions and attacking the leader instead of getting on board and being part of the solution. Rep. Sly uses no names, gives no examples, does nothing to tie the blame she wants to level on everyone but herself and her Legislative colleagues to any specific leader, any specific plan, any specific funding amounts, or any specific public discussions that have turned into tar-and-feather sessions. Rep. Sly simply fabricates a world that makes her feel better for serving a Governor who sets budget parameters in which the teacher shortage gets worse and school boards struggle to meet their basic needs.

Rep. Sly's vague rhetoric aligns with the standard South Dakota Republican blame deflection in its war on public education. Republicans pretend that 2012's House Bill 1234 was a good plan for education, that we mean and selfish teachers destroyed that plan by referring it to a public vote and never proposed a viable plan of our own, and that the Governor and the Republican Legislature are thus excused from making any further effort to raise teacher salaries and save our public schools. Blame teachers, blame the schools, and let them sink.

Instead of sly insults, I eagerly await real wise words on education from our Legislature this session.

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Right-wing politician and blogger Gordon Howie is up to something. He's opening a new base of operations in the hinterlands east of Rapid City, overlooking the Rapid Creek floodplain. Howie has built a new studio so he and Ed Randazzo and Sam Kephart and Tonchi Weaver and can start making crazy videos again. He's built a meeting facility for conservative groups—a convenient sixteen-mile drive from the heart of Rapid City and all that liberal urban corruption, and close to the airport so he can monitor the comings and goings of Cristo ni Iglesia members headed for Scenic.

And next Saturday, Howie's holding an open house at his new International Headquarters:

While the “International Headquarters” title is somewhat tongue in cheek, the impact of activities from this unique facility will no doubt have far-reaching impact.

You are invited to the open house…

  • Where:  15372 Antelope Creek Road, Rapid City SD.  57703
    3.8 miles east of the RC Regional Airport turnoff on Hwy 44 to Antelope Creek Rd, turn south… 2.3 miles to the driveway (on the right)
  • When:  Saturday, Jan 17th   10:00 am to 3:00 pm

There won’t be any formal ceremony. It’s just a day for you to drop in for a cup of coffee and see our new facility.

You might even learn something about Gordon’s new “secret mission” [Gordon Howie, "World Wide Grand Opening," The Right Side, 2015.01.10].

Bob Ellis of the American Clarion says he'll be there; this open house will be a chance for progressive operatives to infiltrate the compound and surveil the machinations of two arch-conservative Black Hills bloggers! Liberals, bring cameras and back-up, and go visit Gordon next Saturday!

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Public votes always get a cheer from this small-d democrat. The latest outbreak of direct democracy happens in Rapid City, where petitioners say they have gathered over 2,700 signatures, nearly 700 more than necessary, to put the city's financing of an expansion of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center to a vote.

Petitioner Pro Tip #8: Paste your issue in big letters on the back of your clipboard! Excellent idea, Don! (Screen cap from Jack Caudill, "Organizer Says Civic Center Petition Drive off to Good Start," KEVN, 2014.12.11.)

Petitioner Pro Tip #8: Paste your issue in big letters on the back of your clipboard! Excellent idea, Don! (Screen cap from Jack Caudill, "Organizer Says Civic Center Petition Drive off to Good Start," KEVN, 2014.12.11.) 

Referendum petitions usually come from opponents of government decisions. But the Civic Center petitioners include some of the biggest supporters of Rapid City's Rushmore Plaza expansion plan. Civic Center board member Don Frankenfeld (shall we emphasize Don?) spearheaded the petition drive, distributing the first petitions the same night that the city council approved the expansion. Mayor Sam Kooiker voted for the expansion in council on December 1, then gathered about 400 signatures:

Kooiker said he found it easy to gather signatures because just about everyone he encountered thought a public vote would be in Rapid City's best interest.

"Everyone on both sides wants this vote," he said.

"People have asked me if I think this project is too big," he said. "I tell them, 'Yes, it's too big for today, but it's not too big for tomorrow.' This is an investment in the future" [Scott Feldman, "Mayor: Petition Collects Enough Signatures, Civic Center Will Be Voted On," Rapid City Journal, 2014.12.26].

Former councilman Jordan Mason was taking the city to court over alleged technical violations of law in passage of the expansion plan, but Mason withdrew that court challenge earlier this month, apparently to make way for the referendum.

Former councilman Ron Sasso agrees that the $180-million project should be put to a public vote. However, Sasso has written that Rapid City should spend five years catching up on improving roads before investing in a Civic Center upgrade.

Whether the expansion plan survives referendum or not, Rapid City has to do something. The Barnett Arena in the Civic Center violates the Americans with Disabilities Act; in October, the city signed an agreement with the Justice Department to rectify those 402 ADA violations within 30 months. So, Rapid City, you can vote against the expansion plan, but you can't vote to do nothing.

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Oh, fuss and feathers! We got all hot and bothered here on the blog about the Rapid City Police Department's denial of a permit to American Indian activists who want to stage a protest against police brutality during the Lakota Nation Invitational. But Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris was serious when he said he was working with organizers to accommodate their First Amendment rights. The protest is on for this afternoon!

Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris has authorized a special event permit for this march and rally from 1 to 3 p.m., Friday, Dec. 19, in Memorial Park, Legacy Commons and the Promenade.

“I am thankful that we came to an agreement to address the public safety concerns,” Jegeris said.

The Rapid City Police Department will be present during the event to ensure the public safety of all residents and visitors ["Rapid City Police Chief Approves Protest Rally for Friday," KOTA-TV, 2014.12.18].

Kevin Woster explains that a big part of Chief Jegeris's initial rejection of the permit was timing:

Protesters had wanted to have the protest rally and March from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. They would have marched from the east parking lot of the civic center south a few blocks to Main Street, then west on Main for three blocks to Mount Rushmore. From there they were to march back to the west parking lot of the civic center.

Those are some of the busiest streets in Rapid City, especially when there’s an event at the civic center and Rapid City Central – just across the street – is releasing students for the day.

Add in approaching darkness and the protest plan was an unacceptable danger to LNI attendee, Central students, the general public and protesters and the police, Jegeris said.

“The time frame would be just about dark and getting dark,” he said. “And there’s just so many safety considerations that I just have to put safety first” [Kevin Woster, "RC Chief Approves Permit After Initial Rejection," KELOLand.com, 2014.12.18].

See? Chief Jegeris is no brute; he's actually helping the protesters shine more daylight on their message.

So Larry, still want to move LNI out of Rapid City?

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Uh oh, Chief—looks like we got a case of speaking while Indian.

Cody Hall, Anthony Bordeaux, and other American Indian activists want to hold a march against police brutality in Rapid City Friday in conjunction with the Lakota Nation Invitational, a big basketball (and knowledge bowl, business plan, archery, language...) tournament that will bring lots of Natives and maybe some wasicu to town. Organizers want to march from the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center (site of LNI) to Main Street and back. Seems like a good opportunity to reach a larger audience and do some organizing, right?

Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris has denied a permit for this march, saying these organizers couldn't keep their crowd under control the last time they raised a ruckus in Rapid:

The event was proposed to take place on Friday December 19th, beginning at 3pm. Since that time, the event has been advertised as a March/Rally on social media and indicators show that well over 100 people plan to attend. This was proposed to occur during the Lakota Nation Invitational (LNI), an event that is expected to draw approximately 2500 youth and their families to the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

The same event organizers were involved in the May 2012 March/Rally involving Rapid City Regional Hospital. That event drew hundreds of demonstrators. Although the event was promoted as peaceful, numerous public safety issues arose including; disruption of traffic, obstruction of police, threat to occupy the hospital, threat of arson to the hospital, and other issues that placed the demonstrators, law enforcement, and the general public at risk. This demonstrates the organizers' lack of ability to provide adequate supervision to the event, and demonstrates the great risk that would be posed to the LNI.

"The LNI is a positive youth event, and the public safety of our youth and families is the number one priority. The City of Rapid City and the Rapid City Police Department have worked hard over the past 38 years to support and ensure the highest degree of Public Safety possible for the LNI," said Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris. It is for this reason that the March/Rally/Walk be kept separate from the LNI [Rapid City Police Department, press release, 2014.12.16].

Safety first—yup, that's the recipe for authoritarianism that our country has embraced too willingly since September 11, 2001.

Chief Jegeris hasn't completely shut the door on the protesters' exercise of the First Amendment:

The Rapid City Police Department is committed to protecting all Constitutional Rights of residents and visitors, including the Right to Assemble and Freedom of Speech," said Chief Jegeris. It is for that reason that Chief Jegeris has offered to meet with the event organizers to make arrangements to accommodate an alternative date and/or location [RCPD, 2014.12.16].

I'm pleased the chief is still offering an alternative, but will he end up offering organizers some out-of-the-way "free speech zone" like we've seen at national political conventions?

Refresh me on this question: why do we need a permit system for public assembly and protest? Why do the police get any check over the exercise of First Amendment rights? Assembling to speak is not a prosecutable crime; should you or I or an Indian in Rapid City have to ask the government's permission to do so?

If the police see a crowd of people making noise, they should certainly mosey over to see what's the hubbub, but should they have the authority to exercise any restraint before the crowd even assemble, let alone before anyone in the crowd commits a crime?

Organizers, in Rapid City, it's time to rebrand from "We Can't Breathe" to "We Can't Speak."

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Rapid City—Land of Climatological Adventure!

So says Nate Silver, who now that the election is over has time to crunch meteorological data to determine what parts of the United States have the most unpredictable weather. Silver and FiveThirtyEight.com colleague Reuben Fischer-Baum calculate how much temperature, precipitation, and severe weather vary from climatological averages for major cities in each of the 120 National Weather Service forecast office areas. Silver and Fischer-Baum find the greatest daily deviations (from 2011 to 2013) from averages in Rapid City:

The ICAO code for Rapid City Regional Airport is KRAP. That’s also a good description of Rapid City’s weather. Its temperature might be 30 degrees in January — or just as easily -12. It’s snowy and windy and prone to big, unexpected winter storms. And it has a thunderstorm on almost 25 percent of days from July through September, more than the national average [Nate Silver and Reuben Fischer-Baum, "Which City Has The Most Unpredictable Weather?" FiveThirtyEight.com, 2014.12.04].

Sioux Falls comes in fourth for weather unpredictability; Aberdeen comes in eighth. The places with the most boring weather include Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and, most boring of all, Honolulu. (Yeah, but one eruption, one tsunami, and Honolulu's all gone!)

Here are the top fifteen (there's a six-way tie for tenth) and the bottom ten... which "top" and "bottom" should probably be reworded for those of you preferring boring weather:

Unpredictability Indices
City Temp Precip Storms Overall
Rapid City, SD 95 66 88 84
Great Falls, MT 103 65 81 83
Houghton, MI 73 107 69 82
Sioux Falls, SD 90 74 79 81
Fargo, ND 94 79 70 80
Duluth, MN 83 85 73 80
Bismarck, ND 96 73 73 80
Aberdeen, SD 94 72 75 80
Grand Island, NE 87 67 82 79
Glasgow, MT 98 65 71 77
Cheyenne, WY 81 64 85 77
La Crosse, WI 83 82 68 77
Dodge City, KS 82 58 88 77
Omaha, NE 85 70 77 77
Capser, WY 87 64 80 77
---
Key West, FL 20 66 46 44
Sacramento, CA 42 35 51 43
Las Vegas, NV 48 26 52 43
Tuscon, AZ 45 37 40 41
San Francisco, CA 23 46 49 40
Fresno, CA 43 36 38 39
Phoenix, AZ 41 29 41 38
Los Angeles, CA 23 35 44 35
San Diego, CA 18 33 38 31
Honolulu, HI 1 62 27 30

Silver and Fischer-Baum cite landlockedness as the primary factor in weather unpredictability. Big lakes and oceans moderate temperatures and make stormy weather more predictable.

But hey! Who wants the same old weather day after day after day? Sunshine and 70 degrees one day, snow flurries the next—that's living!

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