Monthly Archives: April 2010

More evidence complicates mountain lion situation

One needs to read the facts reported by the Hot Springs Star (you can find the story today at www.rapidcityjournal.com) about the latest mountain lion incident in a Hot Springs subdivision. The story forms a baseline for next week, when the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission receives a summary of the public meetings held on mountain lions by GFP staff. The commission meets at Custer State Park’s Sylvan Lake Auditorium on Thursday and Friday.

The commission has been under annual criticism from opponents of a hunting season. And each year hunters filled the lion-kill quota long before the season was due to expire. The Hot Springs story raises the anew the question of whether there are too many lions. A female lion weighing 83 pounds and her 55-pound male kitten, estimated to be seven to eight months old, had to be killed because they killed a deer in a subdivision area and then went into a homeowner’s fenced back yard to kill a goat.

This incident steers debate in a different direction than just whether lions should be hunted for outdoors recreation. The question that grows bigger each year is whether a standard hunting season is sufficient to keep the lion population in balance. As the Black Hills see more and more rural development, and as the lion population seems to grow, we seem closer and closer to a human tragedy. If that day comes, state Wildlife Division officials shouldn’t be surprised to have to deal with people taking matters into their own hands in a vigilante-style response,  because they feel the government hasn’t sufficiently protected them.

It would be helpful if the lion preservationists would come up with a formal, written management plan that puts public safety as a priority if they indeed want to stop or reduce hunting of lions.

Sen. Howie forms five new PACs

State campaign finance records show that state Sen. Gordon Howie of Rapid City filed the organization papers for five new political action committees on April 21 with the South Dakota Secretary of State’s election office. Howie is one of five Republicans seeking their party’s nomination for governor in the June 8 primary.

Howie is the chairman and treasurer on each one of the five PACs. They all list the same purpose: “To support limited, responsible government and the principles of conservative fiscal and family values.”

The five are: Taxpayer Defense PAC; Conservative Values PAC; Faith and Family PAC; Life and Liberty PAC; and South Dakota Freedom PAC. It will be interesting to watch and see whether any money is flowing into these PACS and from whom, and then where the money is re-distributed.

Months ago the Democratic candidate for governor, state Sen. Scott Heidepriem, set up a similar group of shell PACs to accept contributions from one of his major supporters in amounts much larger than the supporter could have given directly to Heidepriem. PACs can give unlimited amounts to candidates for state office in South Dakota.

Two other Republican candidates, state Sen. Dave Knudson of Sioux Falls and Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard, have also received large contributions from single-donor PACs. Howie’s five-PAC network is the most extensive among the 2010 gubernatorial field. His PACs are the only new ones registered since February.

The current limits on contributions by a person are $4,000 to a statewide candidate and $10,000 to a PAC. Previously there was no limit on the amount a person could give a PAC.

State Historical Society conference has a great agenda

Can I say that? Why not! The South Dakota State Historical Society has two days of great lineups of speakers and presenters Friday and Saturday in Pierre (April 30-May1). The keynote address on Friday morning is by Tom Isern, whose topic is titled “Ungovernable: The Political Culture of the Northern Plains.” You can see the whole agenda by visiting http://history.sd.gov/aboutus/historyconference/Program.aspx on the Internet, but let me draw your attention to one of the likely highlights, in part because some wonderful people will be involved. That’s the “First Families” panel discussion that starts at 8 a.m. Saturday. The presenters include former First Lady Pat Miller, two daughters of governors in Connie Herseth Jacobs and Pat Adam (Pat does double duty as daughter of George T. Mickelson and big sister of George S. Mickelson), and two sons of governors in David Mickelson and Paul Kneip. Presiding over the packed two-day schedule are state Public Utilities Commissioner Dusty Johnson and state House Democratic leader Bernie Hunhoff. It’s at the Ramkota convention center in Pierre and full registration for both days is now $95 for SDSHS members, $105 for non-members and $35 for students. There also is one-day registration available at partial prices. The full registration includes two luncheons and the Friday reception at the state Cultural Heritage Center for a viewing of the Capitol centennial display, “The People’s House: Celebrating the Century” exhibit.

South Dakota student wins $10,000 — for poetry

That’s the truth. Ruth Haile of Sioux Falls Lincoln High School took second place of 53 contestants in the Poetry Out Loud national recitation competition. She won $10,000. Haile (pronounced HY-lay) is the fifth South Dakota student to appear in the national finals in the past five years. South Dakota is the only state to have achieved that distinction, according to information from the South Dakota Arts Council. The next governor might want think about inviting her to speak at his inauguration or his first State of the State address to the Legislature in 2011.

Knudson does take-down on Rounds/Daugaard budgeting

Senate Republican leader Dave Knudson’s news conference used his news conference this afternoon to draw the line between his role and Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s role regarding state government’s budget deficit. Knudson also strongly disagreed today with a statement in a Daugaard fundraising letter that says there isn’t a state budget crisis. Knudson points out that Daugaard issued a news release hours ahead of the governor’s budget speech, endorsing the governor’s plan, and that Daugaard later aligned with the Republican legislators’ plan. “At no time did we receive any suggestions from the lieutentant governor,” Knudson said, adding that basically the Republican legislators received no help from the executive branch under the governor. Knudson is walking reporters through the behind-the-scenes steps taken by the legislators to get to their final budget plan, which avoided the governor’s proposal to use budget reserves. Knudson and Daugaard are two of the five candidates for the Republican nomination to succeed Gov. Mike Rounds, who’s term-limited and supports Daugaard’s candidacy. Nearly every daily newspaper has a reporter covering the news conference, along with Associated Press, Watertown radio reporter David J. Law, and KSFY television, so watch for full reports and responses in the hours and day ahead. This marks the first big dividing line in the June 8 primary campaign.

Animal cloning, human disease and South Dakota

Gov. Mike Rounds announced this morning there will be a South Dakota delegation at a Chicago conference on biotechnology next month. One company will be represented among the South Dakota group. It is Exemplar Genetics, which is based in Sioux Center, Iowa. Exemplar produces pigs through gene targeting and cloning to serve as human disease models. The company has operations at Sioux City and Iowa City and at Flandreau in South Dakota.

Others in the South Dakota delegation will rrepresent Sanford Health, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, South Dakota State University, SDSU’s Innovation Campus, and the communities of Sioux Falls, Spearfish, Sturgis, Watertown and Yankton. The governor described the 2010 BIO International Convention, scheduled for May 3-6, as the premier trade show for biotechnology. Exemplar Genetics is a BIO member. The company began as an offshoot of pig-model research at the University of Iowa and originally partnered with Trans-Ova Genetics, which is also located at Sioux Center. Exemplar filed its Iowa corporate papers one year ago this month and filed as a foreign LLC in South Dakota last fall.

Open Meetings Commission gathers

The South Dakota Open Meetings Commission will assemble Friday, May 7, in Deadwood. The agenda items include a legislative update and a briefing on an open-meeting complaint filed against the Groton school district, according to state Attorney General Marty Jackley. The commission’s gathering will start at 1 p.m. MT at The Lodge and is scheduled in coordination with a meeting of South Dakota state’s attorneys. Significant changes were passed by the Legislature that take effect July 1, including new requirements for the public availability of meeting minutes and meeting documents.

Knudson calls a news conference… for?

His camp isn’t disclosing the specific topic, but Senate Republican leader Dave Knudson has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday afternoon at his Sioux Falls campaign headquarters. With early voting having started today, and the latest Rasmussen numbers showing Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard in the most favorable position among the Republican candidates for governor when matched against Senate Democratic leader Scott Heidepriem (see Rasmussen poll post below), you have to wonder if and when Knudson will start drawing contrasts between Daugaard and himself. The coffee conversation of late seems to focus on whether Knudson will start attacking Daugaard with six weeks to go before the June 8 Republican primary. The concern among Republicans in those conversations is whether the race could turn nasty enough to open the way for Sen. Gordon Howie to ride his Tea Party support to the Republican nomination, and whether that in turn gives the governor’s office to Heidepriem in November. Democrats would rub their hands in glee at that possibility. Daugaard is up on Heidepriem by double digits, Knudson is in a tie with Heidepriem, and Howie clearly trails Heidepriem in the match-up polling run by Rasmussen earlier this month.

Three Dog Night, Oak Ridge Boys and three little pigs…

Yeah, those pigs make a grand banner (seriously) for the South Dakota State Fair web site. I noticed them today when I went to check the grandstand entertainment calendar for this year’s fair, which is marking its 125th anniversary and runs Thursday, Sept. 2, through the traditional closing date of Labor Day on Monday, Sept. 6. The Friday night music act is the Oak Ridge Boys, and on Sunday night it’s Three Dog Night. When I was a kid, I hadn’t heard of Three Dog Night until I was at some relative’s wedding dance at a hall in my mom’s hometown. I had some pocket change for the juke box, and some of my cousins kept telling me to play “Joy to the World.” I kept expecting the Christmas song and concluded the juke box didn’t work right. When I told an aunt about the problem, she started singing the first verse to me, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog…”