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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The District 33 Senate race should not even be close. Sane, civil, and compassionate Robin Page should be beating the paranoid, xenophobic, and Klannish Republican Senator Phil Jensen by a Daugaard–Hubbel or Jackley-Haber margin. But factor in the power of "R" and the disturbing extent to which South Dakotans share Jensen's unhealthy views, and just the fact that a female Native American Democrat can run a competitive race in the Black Hills.

Contrary to a previous report, Jensen has been able to raise some money for his camapign. Jensen's pre-general campaign finance report shows $3,720 from individual donors (including $200 from District 5 Senator Ried Holien—Schoenbeck! get your caucus in line!), $950 from utilities and the state physical therapists group, $100 from the Pennington County Republican Women, and $3,950 from state and national PACs (including $200 Dan Lederman's Rushmore PAC, which apparently is fine with racism, homophobia, and anti-Muslim bigotry). On top of that $8,720, Jensen has put up $9,083.91 of his own money.

Meanwhile, Page has drawn $2,548 from individual donors, $200 from the local party, $2,700 from South Dakota PACs, and $900 in free labor from Bajun Mavalwalla's Nebula Group. That's still a good chunk less than Jensen has poured into his campaign, but it's enough that Page has been able to mail and knock and get out the word that she is a viable alternative to Jensen.

Page has also benefited from some third-party mailings. One card sent around town reminds voters of Senator Jensen's 2011 effort to legalize the murder of abortion doctors. Jensen's bill provoked nationwide disgust and sent South Dakota Republicans, including Governor Dennis Daugaard, running for cover. The mailer duly reminds voters that Jensen regularly humiliates South Dakota and distracts from bread-and-butter policymaking.

Jensen spins now as he did in 2011 to say his bill didn't say what is said:

“This bill pertained to illegal acts, such as assault or manslaughter,” wrote Jensen, who would only correspond with the Rapid City Journal in writing. “This bill had nothing to do with abortion or abortion doctors because abortion is a legal act. Upon assurance from Attorney General (Marty) Jackley that this protection was already provided for by South Dakota law, I voluntarily withdrew the bill” [Seth Tupper, "Phil Jensen Versus Robin Page for State Senate a Clash of Opposites," Rapid City Journal, 2014.10.31].

Page responds with one of the most grown-up things you'll hear from a candidate:

“I guess I don’t have a problem with it, because I’m sure I’ll be held accountable for the things I say or do, as well,” Page said. “That’s just part of the job” [Tupper, 2014.10.31].

Robin Page won't have to make excuses for her bills; because she won't propose stupid, hateful, dangerous bills. District 33, put Phil Jensen out of our misery. Vote for Robin Page today!

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The push to get out the Indian vote continues:

RockLakotaVoteNov2014Rock the Lakota Vote comes to Sinte Gleska University in Mission next Saturday afternoon, November 1, Little Wound School in Kyle next Saturday evening, and United Tribes Technical College in Rapid City next Sunday afternoon, November 2.

Sheriff Jim Daggett, greeting Indian voters at Shannon County's early voting station, October 2014.

Sheriff Jim Daggett, greeting Indian voters at Shannon County's early voting station, October 2014.

The program features the 1491s, the comedy troupe who appeared in the famous September Daily Show segment on the racially offensive football team from our nation's capital. Also appearing is Frank Waln, Sicangu Lakota hip-hop artist from Rosebud.

No word yet on whether Shannon County Sheriff Jim Daggett will be joining his constituents for the Kyle performance. Sheriff Daggett was called twice to the Shannon County early voting station in Pine Ridge this month when supervising auditor Sue Ganje got antsy about how many politically active Indians were showing up at the tiny office to exercise their Constitutional rights. Perhaps the sheriff should come to Kyle for some good music and a good laugh... not to mention his constituents' healthy and legal exercise of their First Amendment rights.

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Here's one sign that Democrat Robin Page may beat Phil Jensen out of his District 33 Senate seat:

Campaign signs, one block west of Pennington County GOP HQ, West Main St., Rapid City, SD, 2014.10.22.

Campaign signs, one block west of Pennington County GOP HQ, West Main St., Rapid City, SD, 2014.10.22.

This photo comes from one block west of Pennington County Republican headquarters on West Main Street in Rapid City. We see the expected Republican signs for Daugaard, Rounds, Krebs, and Gosch. But we see no sign from the GOP incumbent Senator Jensen. Representing District 33 is Democratic challenger Page.

Remember that Senator Jensen drew disdain from his own party last spring for his hangup on social issues and his awkward commenters on racism. Senator Jensen only narrowly survived a primary challenge. Page is now working hard with direct mail and door-knocking to put Jensen out of a part-time job.

This vacant green hosts a couple other non-Republicans amidst the usual conservative suspects. District 34's GOP Rep. Dan Dryden has his sign up, but instead of fellow Republican Jeff Partridge, we find Democratic candidate Steve Stenson advertised. And from District 35, we get the strange mix of Tea-flavored spokesmodel Lynne Hix-DiSanto and Democrat Dave Freytag, with no visible sign from incumbent GOP Rep. Blaine "Chip" Campbell.

One would think every Republican in the neighborhood would want to get his or her name up next to the party leaders on that street and crowd out those pesky Democratic interlopers. But it could be that the Republican sign-minders down the street are sending a message to Jensen in tolerating Page's challenge.

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