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Madville Times Top Ten Stories of 2011

Last updated on 2012.12.22

Holy cow—it's a new year! What happened?

Here's my list, in no particular order, of the most important stories I covered here on the Madville Times:

1. I kept on yelling about the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline and how it would not be good for South Dakota or America. A whole bunch of other people started yelling, too. And then we won our argument... or did we?

2. After winning the 2010 election in part by telling people there was no budget crisis, Governor Dennis Daugaard proposed a state budget that cut state government by 10%. The Republican supermajority in the Legislature mostly went along with that plan, steadfastly ignoring the economically preferable option to raise taxes instead of permanently hobbling K-12 education.

3. The Madison Central School District tried twice to pass multi-million dollar bond issues to build a new gym and renovate the high school. The February vote failed; the November vote succeeded. Alas, the school district and athletic supporters refused to consider the option of putting academics first and renovating the high school before building another temple to varsity athletics. But at least we all learned that gym class is as important as science.

4. Rick Millner finally lost his mismanaged, polluting Veblen dairies to Riverview Farms. And then, after I spent three years chronicling Millner's abuses of the environment, zoning regulations, and local economies, Millner came to Lake County to manage the Ramona dairy that his business partners acquired for him.

5. Despite endangering women, privacy, liberty, and the budget, the Legislature and the Governor let lies rule the day and demeaned my daughter by passing HB 1217, South Dakota's latest attempt to ban abortion... or at least to make it awfully hard to obtain. Fortunately, the bill miserably failed its first court challenge.

6. Congresswoman Kristi Noem spent the year working on her bachelor's degree. She's not sure she's done yet. But that's o.k.: she didn't accomplish anything in Congress, either. She spent so much time kissing up to Speaker Boehner and high rollers of the Washington establishment that she lost the affection of the Tea Party.

7. Ben Nesselhuf racked up significant accomplishments in his first year at the helm of the state Democratic Party. His biggest achievement: orchestrating a successful campaign to refer HB 1230, Governor Daugaard's corporate welfare bill, to a public vote. Placing this measure on the ballot provides Democrats across the state an easy issue to expose the hypocrisy of Republicans who oppose big government spending and handouts... except when those handouts go to their big-business cronies who already have lots of money.

8. Madison continued to practice crony capitalism on the local level. The Madison City Commission agreed to a one-million-dollar sales tax kickback to Custom Touch Homes that rips off other communities and adds a hidden 1% of pure profit to customers' bills... all to encourage hiring that Custom Touch would have done even without this "incentive." In related news, after rejecting suggestions to contribute city funds to the high school new gym and renovation project, the Madison City Commission is giving serious consideration to a request from the Madison Country Club for a $250,000 zero-interest loan to renovate its clubhouse three miles west of Madison.

9. The Lake Area Improvement Corporation failed to demonstrate any results from its five-year, $2.3-million Forward Madison economic development campaign. Those wasted expenditures included around $600,000 in taxpayer funds from the city and county commission. As expected, the LAIC portrayed its complete failure as great success and rejected community efforts to discuss and enact better solutions. If the LAIC were interesed in truth, it would change its name to the Losing Industry And Retail Society.

10. Publisher's Privilege: I am generally not the story on this blog (well, except when I do crazy things like run for school board). But I took a whirlwind trip to Washington, D.C., on the hottest two days of the year last summer. In the midst of visiting Senator Johnson's office and the White House on behalf of Dakota Rural Action, I managed to write up a photo essay of my walk across the National Mall for my little girl to let her know why I was missing from the breakfast table. These things are important, too.

Important, thought-provoking, just plain funny... which stories were your favorites? I welcome your reviews of the year in news and blogging! Happy New Year, dear readers!


  1. Kelly Fuller 2012.01.01

    Cory, thank you for your continued coverage of pipeline, dairy, and forest issues (those darn bark beetles).

  2. larry kurtz 2012.01.01

    Liberty apparently means having the right to pollute the ground you own and God determines if it drains into the next guy's property.

    You know a nerve has been struck when Bob Ellis emerges from his hibernaculum to comment on the Noem dust bill likely drafted, as Don Pay suggests, by the Koch wing of the cave.

  3. Bill Fleming 2012.01.01

    That looks like an important editorial, Larry. I can't imagine anyone on either side of the Keystone issue not wanting to see those concerns addressed.

  4. hmr59 2012.01.01

    I'm going to go with that abomination of a budget cooked up by the governor and the GOP majority. After going through the campaign with an Alfred E. Neuman "What, me worry?" look for every question about the budget, Gov. Daugaard had to bite the bullet for the 8 free spending years of the Rounds administration. Unfortunately, many of those bites were at the expense of people/programs that could least afford it.

    I think the most potentially interesting subplot of 2012 may come when Bill Janklow passes (a pause to give condolences and prayers to his family). He pretty much pulled the strings in this state for years (even when out of office) and there will be a vacuum in the Republican power structure. Who will fill it - Thune,Rounds, Noem?? There may be political infighting like we haven't see since the 1986 Senate primary. Stay tuned...

  5. Steve Sibson 2012.01.03

    "After winning the 2010 election in part by telling people there was no budget crisis, Governor Dennis Daugaard proposed a state budget that cut state government by 10%."

    There was no 10% in state government last year. Thanks to Obama, the DC Democrats, and the SDGOP, South Dakota's state 2012 budget grew by about 25%. Need to look into were all the "increases" went. So your number 2 top story is a lie.

    And based on Medicaid's actual spending for the year ending June 30, 2011, their 2012 budget is way over what they need. That should be the top 2012 story.

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