Monthly Archives: July 2010

Is that smoke I smell?

Two new political committees have formed in connection with the medical marijuana and expanded smoking-ban questions on South Dakota’s general-election ballot. One is called Yes for Compassion, Yes on 13!. It’s run by Emmett Riestoffer and Jennifer Patzwald of Sioux Falls in support of legalizing marijuana for medical usage, and it’s affiliated with an organization known as South Dakota Coalition for Compassion. At the same time they want to expand one kind of smoking, another group wants to ban a different more traditional kind of smoking. The anti-tobacco committee calling itself It’s Time — A Smoke Free South Dakota is being run by Jennifer Stalley of the American Cancer Society and Dr. Allen Nord of Rapid City. The group wants voters to support the expanded smoking ban passed by the Legislature last year that would prohibit smoking in bars, casinos and restaurants with alcohol licenses.

Gambling has long been about “border wars”

When the South Dakota Lottery began offering video gambling two decades ago, the rules were written to generate the maximum potential revenue from Sioux City, Iowa. The 10-machine limit per establishment was bent in such a way that North Sioux City businesses could be multiple establishments on the same building footprint. Sioux City had a “riverboat” casino that was moored in one place, but video lottery in North Sioux City was the popular favorite, by far.

This comes to mind as we watch the debate in Sioux Falls over Democratic governor candidate Scott Heidepriem’s push to bring a tribal casino into Sioux Falls. Heidepriem’s reasons include the casino being built over the border at Larchwood, Iowa, and his law firm’s representation of the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe in its lawsuit against the Rounds administration seeking more slot machines at its Royal River Casino at Flandreau.

Heidepriem’s approach would end the long-standing South Dakota policy of allowing tribal casinos only within reservations or established tribal areas, such as Flandreau, when there isn’t a formal reservation. This reservation-casion policy is legal under federal Indian gaming laws and regulations.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe located its casino as close to the Nebraska border as physically possible. Likewise, the Oglala Sioux Tribe placed its latest casino as far west as possible, even though it meant moving the business far away from most of the Pine Ridge Reservation’s population and workforce. In both cases, the tribal governments wanted to reduce the drive time for casino customers coming from outside the reservations. This was also why the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has pushed, unsuccessfully, for legal permission to build casinos at Pluma near Deadwood and at Fort Pierre. And it’s why the Sisseton Wahpeton Tribe built its North Dakota casino just north of the South Dakota border and its Watertown casino as close to Watertown as possible. And why the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe built its casino just across the Missouri River from Mobridge.

Heidepriem’s effort to open the door to a Sioux Falls casino is being tied to new Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether’s push for a new Sioux Falls events center.  Whether that is a match made in political heaven remains to be seen among Sioux Falls voters. It’s doubtful that the rest of South Dakota wants to see Sioux Falls become an even stronger magnet for conventions especially if it’s at the expense of other cities’ convention bureaus, the video lottery businesses, other tribal casinos and Deadwood gambling houses. And there remains a strong anti-gambling position among roughly 40 percent-plus of the voting public, based on past statewide ballot measures. Heidepriem has long trailed Republican nominee Dennis Daugaard, the lieutenant governor, in the campaign polls, and Heidepriem has been weaker than normal for a South Dakota Democrat among Democrats and independents. It will be worth watching the next round of polling to see whether this casino issue helps or hurts him.

A government real estate deal taking shape

You don’t need to be a checkers player to see the moves lining up. The state Department of Agriculture needs to move its forest-fire unit out of the Rapid City airport space it’s been using since the Janklow administration. The main road to the airport is S.D. 44. That’s also the main road to Western Dakota Technical Institute. WDTI wants to get out of the Rushmore building it uses across the highway from its main campus.

The state Board of Education gave the nod this week to a $3.5 million revision to WDTI’s previously approved $9.5 million student-center project. The extra money would allow WDTI to add lab space and connect the existing Mickelson building to the new student center. That gets WDTI out of the Rushmore building, which is on the south side of the highway, and allows WDTI to be consolidated on a single campus on the north side of the road.

The WDTI project could be completed in July 2012, according to documents presented to the state board. That timeline would mesh with the forest-fire unit’s need to be in different space in 2013.

Trivial pursuit? Goodwin backed Herseth early

Does this mean anything? The political money-tracking machine at www.opensecrets.org carried a post earlier this month regarding West Virginia’s new U.S. senator, Carte Goodwin. Turns out he was an early supporter of another young Democrat, Stephanie Herseth of South Dakota.

Goodwin, now 36, gave $450 to Herseth’s 2002 campaign for South Dakota’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He contributed $250 to her successful 2004 election — and nothing since then.

Each of their fortunes improved since then. Stephanie married former U.S. Rep. Max Sandlin of Texas, whose portfolio as a congressional lobbyist has blossomed, and they’ve been blessed with a son, Lars. Carte meanwhile was appointed this summer by West Virginia’s Democratic governor, Joe Manchin, to their state’s vacant seat in the U.S. Senate.

Goodwin replaces the late Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd. Making the Herseth contributions somewhat notable is that Goodwin’s past political giving was limited to only a handful of candidates and the total was $2,700, according to the Center for Responsive Politics analysis of his past involvement in federal campaigns.

It appears his donations to Herseth’s 2002 and 2004 races were his first in federal contests. He gave $500 to Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark in 2004 and $1,000 later that year to the Democrats’ presidential nominee, U.S. Sen. John Kerry. He gave $250 to a Democratic congressional candidate in West Virginia in 2006 and $250 to a Democratic congressional candidate in New York in 2009.

Goodwin was Manchin’s legal counsel for four years and previously worked in the Goodwin & Goodwin family law firm in Charleston, West Virginia. His wife, Rochelle, is state director for West Virginia U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, according to the opensecrets report, which also noted that Manchin is expected to eventually  run for the Byrd seat.

Glenna’s sweet little secret

Remember a few weeks ago when various Republican and Democratic bloggers were flaying South Dakota news organizations for not covering the Republican and Democratic state party conventions? Various ideas were suggested here, which only led to further flaying. Well, never one shy to be flayed yet again, here’s another observation.

They should steal an idea from Glenna Fouberg. The retired Aberdeen teacher routinely bestows upon the other members of the state Board of Education (and any sweet-toothed audience members, including reporters) her homemade chocolate-on-a-pretzel treats. Always in season, today’s version had butterflies of chocolate winging atop the pretzel.

Sometimes, you just gotta have fun.

Dave Kranz: Riding into a well-deserved sunset

The word  circulating through South Dakota newspapering circles is that Dave Kranz, long-time reporter and former local editor for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, will officially retire. His work has been absent from the paper for some months as he dealt with diabetes and other health issues, and his name no longer appears on the website under a listing of columnists. Argus Leader publisher Randell Beck made a formal announcement Monday of Dave’s retirement set for this fall. A recognition event for Dave will be held within the newspaper for employees to share their appreciation of Dave on Sept. 24.

Two candidate deadlines to watch

Under South Dakota law, Aug. 3 is the last day this year for candidates in the November general election to withdraw nominating petitions. And Aug. 10 is the last day for party central committees to fill vacancies caused by those withdrawals.

Democrats have withdrawal vacancies so far in Senate District 4 against Republican Tim Begalka of Clear Lake; in House District 5 against Democrat of Watertown and two Republicans, incumbent Roger Solum of Watertown and Melissa Magstadt of Watertown; and in House District 35, where there’s no Democratic candidate any more and one independent, Jay Pond of Rapid City, and two Republican incumbents, Mark Kirkeby of Rapid City and Don Kopp of Rapid City. Look for at least one more Democratic candidate to withdraw, Mary Ann Giebink of Sioux Falls, who was running for House in District 10 until her troubles with the law recently.

The Constitution Party had one of its few legislative candidates pull out in Senate District 12 of Sioux Falls against Democratic incumbent Sandy Jerstad and Republican Mark Johnston.

Obama’s internal struggle over TransCanada

What’s a U.S. president to do when one of his Cabinet agencies criticizes the work of another? That’s the spot where President Barack Obama stands regarding the second crude-oil pipeline which TransCanada wants to build from Alberta through the central United States including South Dakota. The U.S. Department of State is overseeing the environmental impact statement process. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has identified what its reviewers see as shortcomings in the EIS work.

TransCanada has already received the necessary permit from the U.S. Secretary of State to pierce the U.S. border for its first pipeline known as Keystone. That permit was approved in 2008 under President George W. Bush’s administration. The current EIS process under way is for the second pipeline, known as Keystone XL, which seeks its border permit from the Obama administration. The draft version of the enviornmental impact statement for the XL project was released by the State Department in April and the period for comments on whether the project is in the national interest has now been extended to a date unknown. Specifically, the comments will be taken for 90 days after the final EIS is issued and a date for issuance hasn’t been announced by State.

The key point regarding the XL environmental review is that it was conducted under the Obama administration and is now under under criticism by the Obama administration. What this signals isn’t clear. It could simply be EPA’s watchdogs doing what they see as their legal and natural duty. It also could be the Obama administration’s way of acknowledging the opposition to XL by the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Plains Justice and other affiliated groups, by slowing down the permit while still intending to issue the permit. It could be paying deference to U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, who wants to stop XL. It could be that the Obama administration has decided to slow down XL in response to anti-oil sentiment stirred by the BP fiasco in the Gulf of Mexico. Or it could signal that the Obama administration plans to turn against Canada oil production, which is seen as a partial and more secure substitute for other sources of oil overseas.

I missed the resignation letter

 

Democratic gubernatorial candidate has taken to referring to the “Daugaard Administration” on his campaign web site. He means Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard, the Republican candidate for governor. The reference to Gov. Mike Rounds, who has five-plus months left in office, has been dropped completely. For quite a while, opponents referred to the Rounds-Daugaard administration. Evidently they’ve finally started paying attention to the polling that shows Rounds remains highly popular after seven-plus years in office. Unable to tar Daugaard with Rounds, Heidepriem now is simply shortcutting to the Daugaard administration.

Supreme Court rejects unions’ appeal on ballot issue

The South Dakota Supreme Court today released its decision that state Attorney General Marty Jackley objectively described the proposed constitutional amendment stating, “The rights of individuals to vote by secret ballot is fundamental. If any state or federal law requires or permits an election for public office, for any initiative or referendum, or for any designation or authorization of employee representation, the right of any individual to vote by secret ballot shall be guaranteed.”

The AFL-CIO went to state court to try to block Jackley’s ballot explanation, which is made available to voters, and to get the entire measure, known as Constitutional Amendment K, thrown off the November ballot. Republican legislators put the pro-business measure on the ballot. The Supreme Court refused to answer the question of the amendment’s constitutionality, saying that issue isn’t ripe yet because it hasn’t been enacted by voters.

State law charges the attorney general with the responsibility to write ballot-measure explanations. The amendment is aimed at pre-empting federal law that would take away businesses’ right to have secret elections regarding unionization.