John Tsitrian writes the most interesting Republican blog in South Dakota. Instead of recycling the handouts from party uppity-ups, Tsitrian provides original content, the kind of home-grown research and analysis that makes the South Dakota Blogosphere worth reading and discussing. Consider Tsitrian's this-week œuvre:
Monday Tsitrian follows up on my look at vo-tech in-state placement rates, synthesizes it with the latest Dakota Poll data from his neighbor Sam Hurst, and concludes that South Dakota doesn't have a worker shortage; it has a wage shortage:
More concerning to me is the way I've seen so many outstanding young people take off as soon as they finish high school or college. Anecdotal as it may be, I think there's some confirmation about it being a common aspect of growing up South Dakotan. Certainly the fact that a quarter of last year's Vo-Tech grads left the state is a telling example. A Dakota Poll that came out yesterday gives some confirmation about young people and their attitudes toward remaining in South Dakota. Dakota Poll board member Sam Hurst said in a KOTA television interview that the economy could force those with higher education to leave the state. Hurst notes that "having economic security, that's their greatest fear. That they can't get that in South Dakota."
We'll see if Governor Daugaard's "workforce summits" will address this situation head on. Leading up to the election they could be more show than tell, but at some point the low wage issue has to be addressed. It's either that or continue to complain about what should be labelled a wage--not a labor--shortage [John Tsitrian, "25% Of South Dakota's Vo-Tech Grads Leave The State. I Wonder Why. The Latest Dakota Poll Gives A Clue," The Constant Commoner, 2014.03.24].
On Wednesday, Tsitrian puts his businessman's beanie over his Republican hat and asks why on earth his party won't accept the ACA Medicaid expansion:
From my Republican perspective this leaves much to be desired in the way of ideological purity, but from my businessman's point of view, it's how the world is. I'm much more the pragmatist than the ideologue when it comes to matters of public money. And on that basis I think turning down the Medicaid expansion deal is just plain bad business.
...Given that the Daugaard administration has an acute fixation on economic development, it seems odd--strange, maybe--that the governor isn't enthusiastically endorsing this opportunity. We're talking about a $2 billion windfall, which I have no doubt will rollover a few times and create much more than that over the next several years. I really think our elected leadership is doing a disservice to South Dakota by turning down this kind of money. [John Tsitrian, "Medicaid, Shmedicaid. I'm Looking At The Bucks Involved--And We're Nuts Not To Take This Expansion Deal From The Feds," The Constant Commoner, 2014.03.26].
On Friday, hotelier Tsitrian, still smarting from Congresswoman Kristi Noem's punishing kamikaze politics on the budget last fall when she shut down the federal government and Mount Rushmore, takes Rep. Noem to task for voting against the public interest, his own tourism business interest, and her own ideological interest in opposing environmental regulations by voting to restrict the creation of National Monuments:
...That she still hasn't grasped the connection between parks and their economic value was made quite evident in her vote a few days ago for a bill titled "Ensuring Public Involvement In The Creation Of National Monuments Act," which passed the House on pretty much party line voting. Basically the act limits the president to creating one national monument per state during each four year term and requires environmental reviews for each proposed monument over 5,000 acres in size.
...Thankfully for those of us who make a living from and enjoy the wonders of South Dakota's national parks, nothing like this law was in place when Mt. Rushmore was created or the Badlands were turned into one of the great, protected geological wonders on the planet. Could you imagine an environmental review process being imposed on Mt. Rushmore? Might just as well assume it would never have come into being. Given that the state she represents is virtually identified by Mt. Rushmore, why Congresswoman Noem would put barriers against future generations enjoying yet-to-be-designated monuments and parks is mystifying [John Tsitrian, "The Antiquities Act Of 1906 Has Been A Bonanza For South Dakota. Congresswoman Noem's Attitude: So, What?" The Constant Commoner, 2014.03.28].
Sure, I'm biased in my assessment of the quality of Tsitrian's blog by the fact that he's a Republican agreeing with my Democratic view on South Dakota's need for higher wages, expanded Medicaid, and federal protection of public lands and other treasures. My Republican neighbors may find Tsitrian's statements more unprincipled or appalling than interesting.
But I find interest in Tsitrian's works specifically because they challenge partisan assumptions. He is no raving liberal. He takes issues that you'll hear sloganized by the Daugaard, Rounds, and Noem and reframes them in bread-and-butter South Dakota terms. He shows smart Democrats practical issues around which they can wrap the Democratic brand and win centrist South Dakotan votes. That's good reason for Republicans and Democrats to read Tsitrian's blog.