Sunday, March 28, 2010

Who;s Got the Hammer

March 31st, 2010

Who has the hammer?

That heading might have a strange meaning, but in reality it is a very powerful statement with all the turmoil in Washington. As a result of swinging the Hammer, the State of South Dakota is joining with many other states to sue the United States Government for violation of States Rights. (Sounds like a history lesson coming on doesn’t it?)

First of all, let me explain what the Hammer is. Now don’t get me wrong here. I am putting the blame equally on the Republicans and the Democrats. This is a biased article, but not about them. (I’ll get to that in a minute.) Back to the Hammer. It is my firm belief that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats give two hoots and a holler about health care. What they do care about is who controls the leadership in the House and the Senate because whoever controls that controls the hammer. THEY will decide what is good for the people of America. I said in my letter in the Argus Leader this week that Power corrupts; Absolute Power corrupts absolutely.

It is a funny thing about power. Even at the lowest levels of government there is power. Some say that the lower you get on the food chain the more corrupt one becomes. Anyway, once you have this power, what do you do with it? People that have had the hammer know the feeling that comes with it. They feel invincible. They can do anything they want because they have the Hammer.

In the first case you use it to wield a program that you say will help the people. Hence the health care reform bill. The Democrats are for it, and the Republicans are against it so now we have a meeting of the minds, and Nancy Pelosi has the Hammer. She knows if she gets this through, other legislation that follows will be hers to decide if it is good or bad, whether it will give her more power or less. Whichever was she decides to go, she wields the Hammer and that is the way it is going to go. It sounds like I’m making this up, but this is exactly what happens inside the Beltway in Washington.

Let me regress for a minute. Do you remember in your history books, one of the reasons for the American Revolution? It was a tax levied by King George against stamps, and tea. The revolutionaries declared this taxation without representation and this was the beginning of the Revolutionary war. Well Guess what? The Republicans are viewing the health care issue as not whether or not it will be good or bad for us but the federal government is taking away a states right by declaring that everyone in the United States MUST have health care. This is taxation without representation and a violation of the 1st Article of the Constitution. The Attorneys General in 38 states agreed and filed a lawsuit in federal court that this mandate is unconstitutional because it is in fact a tax and we have no option to decline it. That is case number one

Case number 2 is that South Dakota has joined with 14 other states saying that the standards set down by the Environmental Protection Agency concerning carbon emissions are too strict and will cause 1000’s of business’s money because they will exceed the carbon standard. Let me give you a big FLASH! The biggest violator of these standards will be the Hyperion Oil Refinery. When Hyperion received their air permit last August, it was based on the fact that the air in South Dakota is so pristine that they can run at an amok and still not reach the standards set by the Clean Air Act of 1994. Well guess what? When they reach that level, which was permitted by the state DENR by the way, nobody else can emit any pollutants because they will then exceed the standard. I tried and several other people tried to warn the authorities that this would happen but nobody would listen. I had a letter printed in the SCJ to be careful because if Hyperion does come here, there will be no growth in Sioux City so far as manufacturing industries are concerned. I was pooh poohed about this and accused of being ‘chicken little,’ and the sky was falling. Now the states are suing the EPA because their standards are too strict. Be careful what you ask for because you might get it. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that when the big bear has an itch it will scratch it, and you had better move away. So who is going to get the blame when and IF this refinery comes for companies not to be able to build because they will exceed the standards? You can bet your bottom dollar that it won’t be the refinery, it will be the EPA. Sometimes one cannot see the forest for the trees can we? The very pollutants that they will be releasing; carbon dioxide (19 million tons), nitrous oxide, methane and HFC’s are the biggest concerns for the EPA. If only people would look at the long range plan once in awhile. I just read the paper on Friday and the SCJ was touting that the population was at 144,000 and the future is really looking rosy. A dead rose maybe.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Let's call a spade a spade

<$BlogMetaData$>March 24th, 2010

Let’s call a spade a spade!

I must apologize to the people that wrote UCC ordinance 2007-003 on guidelines and rules for getting a liquor license in Union County. I made fun of the business plan submitted by Sean Brady for getting his liquor license for the Exit 31 Grille. He followed the law to the letter. I even checked with the State of South Dakota to see what the minimum requirements were to get a license. Are you ready for this? You cannot be a convicted felon! That’s it. They don’t even require a background check. If the county wants to do one that is fine, but so far as the state is concerned, they don’t require one. Now you might be a drug user, a sex offender or an alcoholic, but as long as you aren’t a convicted felon, you’re home free. Yakoff Smerinoff says it best. Is this a great country or what? If the business plan ordinance is so relaxed, it is no wonder that the planning and zoning acts like it does. They have a free reign to do what they want and the devil take the hindmost. At least the treasurer and the register of deeds have somewhat stringent laws they must adhere to.

I’m getting a fast education lately in how this county operates. As an example, if you want to get on the agenda for the county commissioners, the auditor will ask you for a synopsis about what you are going to talk about. She says this is just a courtesy to the commissioners. They must think we are totally stupid or they only do it to certain people, but the reason she is asking is that she can give a heads up to the States Attorney so he can look it up in the codified law and the commissioners can have an answer for you immediately when you are finished speaking.

Let me give you a an example. I submitted a complaint against the land use administrator to the county commissioners, I was asked what the topic was about when I asked to be on the agenda and I told her. I read my complaint to the commissioners and immediately (within 5 seconds give or take a few), Mr. Karpen pulled out the exact law in the zoning ordinance that says they have no jurisdiction over the LUA and that I must take complaints about the LUA to the board of adjustment. Now if you think he knew the answer to that one and exactly where to look and have the ordinance marked, I have some oceanfront property in Arizona for sale.

Anyway, when I was finished with the presentation, I made a statement to the BOA that Dennis was the most powerful man in Union County. I was mistaken. It is Jerry Miller, the States Attorney. He is ultimately the one responsible to ensure that the laws and ordinances that are passed will stand up to a lawsuit and that they are lawful orders. Now he was the SA (States Attorney) when this law (UCC 2007-003) was passed, so he must have given it his blessing to put it into law. After all, the only thing the state requires is that he not be a convicted felon.

Now to give you an update on what to expect if and when Hyperion comes to town, a Texas based oil pipeline company was fined $450,000 in civil penalties to the United States to settle allegations that it failed to prepare and maintain proper facility response plans to deal with spills and environmental accidents at eight of its oil storage terminal facilities in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. Now what gets me about all this is that the fines are paid to the government. Why not pay the fine to the people who are inconvenienced or damaged by these spills. This is just another example of the utter disregard the United States Government has for its people or is it acting as their sovereign? Individual states create the laws for their states regarding pollution hazards, but the government gets the reward if there is a spill or catastrophe. HM-M-M-M… in the case of the oil spill it was a violation of the clean water act, so I guess the government is the party who was grieved. (Getting a bit cynical aren’t I?)

There is a law sitting at the Governor’s desk that I don’t think the county commissioners or any government body for that matter wants to get signed. SB 104 says that any agency of the government state, county, city or any convening body must make information that it receives prior to the meeting available to the public at least 24 hours in advance, or have it available for viewing. Not only that, all government agencies must take minutes and have them published in the paper within 10 days or it is a misdemeanor. I have been an advocate of this for at least 3 years. I testified in Pierre about this 3 years ago but it never made it out of committee. The government moves at a snail’s pace, but at least it moves. Maybe it doesn’t move as fast as we want it to sometimes, but it does move. “Hoo-Rah!”

Monday, March 15, 2010


<$BlogMetaData$>March 17th, 2009


Happy St. Patrick’s Day Everyone. Only 90 days to Sytten Mai.

I am in total awe of the ‘county commissioners.’ Last week at the commissioners meeting they auctioned off the one remaining liquor license for Union County. It went to the only bidder, Sean Brady from Vermillion for $25,000. Now here is where it gets fun. He had to put down a $5,000 certified check as a retainer, which would be returned if he is unsuccessful in the bidding. If he wins the bid that $5,000 goes towards the amount of the bid. The caveat here is the winning bidder must also submit a business plan. (I’m getting ahead of myself here). After he won the bid and was leaving the room he asked who he had to give the check to. Carol said he could just pay at the auditor’s office on his way out. He asked if he could just give them a personal check for the $20,000 or if it had to be a certified check? He was holding up a personal check for the $20,000. The commissioners and the states attorney looked around at each other and shrugged their shoulders, and finally Carol said it has to be a certified check, so he said okay, he would bring one back in the afternoon, and he left. Remember folks, I don’t make this up; I just tell it like it happens.

Do you remember where I said one of the requirements for getting the successful bid was to submit a business plan? Oh, before I list his plan, here is a brief description of what the Small Business Administration says a business plan should contain (taken from the SBA website)

1) Description of the business

2) Marketing

3) Finances

4) Management

Agenda should include an executive summary, supporting documents, and financial projections. Although there is no single formula for developing a business plan, some elements are common to all business plans. They are summarized in the following outline:

Elements of a Business Plan

I. The Business

A. Description of business

B. Marketing

C. Competition

D. Operating procedures

E. Personnel

F. Business insurance

II. Financial Data

A. Loan applications

B. Capital equipment and supply list

C. Balance sheet

D. Breakeven analysis

E. Pro-forma income projections (profit & loss statements)

F. Three-year summary

G. Detail by month, first year

H. Detail by quarters, second and third years

I. Assumptions upon which projections were based

J. Pro-forma cash flow

III. Supporting Documents

A. Tax returns of principals for last three years Personal financial

statement (all banks have these forms)

B. For franchised businesses, a copy of franchise contract and all

supporting documents provided by the franchisor

C. Copy of proposed lease or purchase agreement for building space

D. Copy of licenses and other legal documents

E. Copy of resumes of all principals

F. Copies of letters of intent from suppliers, etc.

OK, now that we’ve seen what a plan should look like, here is what Mr. Brady submitted. (Remember that we are not a sophisticated business city, just a small country community so keep that in mind.)

Mission: to provide a pleasant and affordable place for travelers, residents of Union County and the surrounding communities to socialize while enjoying a drink and a meal.

Exit 31 Grille will initially offer Midwest Pub style food and beverages in a comfortable environment and allow the local residents to drive the business in the future.

Our customers will always be treated with importance and warmth. When it comes time for our customers to decide where to spend their entertainment dollars, we will strive to become their first destination of choice. Our staff will be cheerful, courteous, and focused on pleasing our customers.

Our staff will be offered a workplace where they can prosper and grow in a dignified, fun and rewarding manner.

Our vendors will be treated with loyalty, and they will find their future with us to be fruitful.

We will be a good neighbor to the businesses in our area, and we will be a contributing and supportive member of our community.

Keys to Success:

1. Our policy of having a manager visit with each and every customer that has a question, or if the customer has positive or negative feedback. The manager is required to use every means possible to satisfy our customers.

2. Our commitment to the success and happiness of our staff.

3. Our commitment to providing excellent quality food and beverages at all times.

This property is currently zoned Commercial and there are no applicable covenants. The proposed square footage is between 3000-5000.

The commissioners should return Mr. Brady’s business plan to him and tell Mr. Brady when he has a REAL business plan to submit he can come back. But then, maybe there are no requirements for a business plan. Come to think of it, the zoning ordinance says they must submit a business plan, but there is no definition of what a business plan is or what it needs to contain. Maybe the commissioners just say ‘aw he’s a good guy that will do.’ Even the states attorney stated at the meeting that the plan is not extensive. Is that an understatement or what?

I just don’t understand what is going on with the government in this county. I’ve only lived here for 22 years so I’m not really up to speed yet. Is this how things have always been? If it is, then things have to change, and THAT is why I’m running for commissioner. I think pretty soon, I’m going to come out with Doug Maurstad’s top ten list on why I want to be a commissioner.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Blog Part 2

<$BlogMetaData$>to those of you who choose to post comments on my blog. thank you for reading my blog.don't be afraid to leave your name and/or an email address so that i may respond to your comments. please do not be offended if i do not post anonymous snide comments.

My Blog!

<$BlogMetaData$> To those of you who respond to articles that are in my blog let me remind you that this blog represents  MY viewpoints. much like a newspaper represents their views. Viewpoints are biased and mine just happens to be against Hyperion. i will publish comments that are argumentative and present an opposing view IF I think it will promote an active discussion among others who read this. if you don't like what i say in MY blog you are more than welcome to start your own, and i will gladly read it however, i will reserve snide comments to myself as they are not productive to good dialogue.
I happen to think that making it mandatory to teach both sides of climate warming and/or global warming in schools is not a duty of the state legislature. we have a board of regents and individual schools for that. this is not a rehash of the Scopes Monkey trial. you have your thoughts and i have mine. it is unfortunate that you disagree with my views, however such is life.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Your State Representatives at Work

<$BlogMetaData$>March 10th, 2010

Your State Representatives at Work

For those of you that read this column living in Iowa, consider yourselves lucky. For the rest of us, we have state representatives in our district of the state that have lost their minds. Representatives Jim Bolin (Canton) and Dan Lederman (Dakota Dunes) sponsored a joint resolution in the Legislature that is absolutely the dumbest thing ever brought before the legislative body. They probably spent more time on this piece of paper than they spent on the budget cuts for the state. This was a joint resolution for both the house and Senate. Thank Goodness MaggieGillespie could see through the smoke screen. I sent Jim an email asking if he lost his mind. He hasn’t responded yet, and probably won’t. (Both Lederman and Bolin are Pro Hyperion by the way.)Ok enough suspense, here it is in a nutshell. Teaching balanced opinions of global warming and climate change in schools.

State of South Dakota





Introduced by: Representatives Kopp, Bolin, Brunner, Cronin, Curd, Feickert, Gosch,

Greenfield, Hamiel, Hoffman, Hunt, Iron Cloud III, Jensen, Juhnke, Kirkeby,

Lange, Lederman, Moser, Novstrup (David), Olson (Betty), Olson (Ryan),

Pitts, Putnam, Rausch, Russell, Schlekeway, Sly, Steele, Tidemann,

Turbiville, Van Gerpen, Verchio, and Wink and Senators Brown, Abdallah,

Bradford, Haverly, Maher, and Schmidt

1 A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION, Calling for balanced teaching of global warming in the

2 public schools of South Dakota.

3 WHEREAS, the earth has been cooling for the last eight years despite small increases in

4 anthropogenic carbon dioxide; and

5 WHEREAS, there is no evidence of atmospheric warming in the troposphere where the

6 majority of warming would be taking place; and

7 WHEREAS, historical climatological data shows without question the earth has gone

8 through trends where the climate was much warmer than in our present age. The Climatic

9 Optimum and Little Climatic Optimum are two examples. During the Little Climatic Optimum,

10 Erik the Red settled Greenland where they farmed and raised dairy cattle. Today, ninety percent

11 of Greenland is covered by massive ice sheets, in many places more than two miles thick; and

12 WHEREAS, the polar ice cap is subject to shifting warm water currents and the break-up

13 of ice by high wind events. Many oceanographers believe this to be the major cause of melting

1 polar ice, not atmospheric warming; and

2 WHEREAS, carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but rather a highly beneficial ingredient for

3 all plant life on earth. Many scientists refer to carbon dioxide as "the gas of life"; and

4 WHEREAS, more than 31,000 American scientists collectively signed a petition to

5 President Obama stating: "There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of

6 carbon dioxide, or methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable

7 future, cause catastrophic heating of the earth's atmosphere and disruption of the earth's

8 climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon

9 dioxide will produce many beneficial effects on the natural plant and animal environments of

10 the earth":

11 NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the House of Representatives of the Eighty12

fifth Legislature of the State of South Dakota, the Senate concurring therein, that the South

13 Dakota Legislature urges that instruction in the public schools relating to global warming

14 include the following:

15 (1) That global warming is a scientific theory rather than a proven fact;

16 (2) That there are a variety of climatological, meteorological, astrological, thermological,

17 cosmological, and ecological dynamics that can effect world weather phenomena and

18 that the significance and interrelativity of these factors is largely speculative; and

19 (3) That the debate on global warming has subsumed political and philosophical

20 viewpoints which have complicated and prejudiced the scientific investigation of

21 global warming phenomena; and

22 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Legislature urges that all instruction on the theory

23 of global warming be appropriate to the age and academic development of the student and to

24 the prevailing classroom circumstances.

Now either these legislators really believe this or somebody or someone is laying the groundwork to a statement to come out that 19 million tons of carbon dioxide coming out of the Hyperion refinery is good for us because of all the beneficial effects on the natural plant and animal environments of the earth. Don’t forget that carbon dioxide isn’t harmful and they want this taught in the schools to balance the comments about climate change being caused by manmade sources, like the wind causing large chunks of ice to break away from glaciers. OH COME ON NOW. SURELY THEY DON’T BELIEVE THIS!

I believe climate change is cyclical and that it evolves over time, but this is about as radical as one can get. If one looks at museums in the state of South Dakota you will see sea shells, remains of dinosaurs, fossilized plant life from seas and jungles. But this evolved over millions of years and it may happen again. The problem is that with all the pollution that is manmade, we are rushing natures natural process. That my friend is the problem! We were put on this earth to be stewards of the land not destroyers. That is enough from my soap box, please please write to Mr. Bolin and Mr. Lederman and ask them what were they thinking .

Monday, March 1, 2010

To option or not to option, that is the question

<$BlogMetaData$>March 3rd, 2010

To option or not to option, that is the question:

If you have been following my column closely, you will see that the refinery is in a predicament. I think it was in my last article that I mentioned Governor Rounds said he was told by the developer that it would be shovels in the ground in 2012. I even got a letter from the governor confirming this date and he said in the letter that the developer was Hyperion. Now - -Hyperion’s options run out on August 31, 2010 so that means that Hyperion has a problem. If they contact all the people that have optioned their land and ask them to re-option again what do you suppose their answer will be. What would your answer be now that you know what is proposed to be built on the land. I think the proverbial answer is - - they have Hyperion over the oil barrel.

Here is an idea that hasn’t been broached for awhile. We all know that Hyperion is brokering the deal for the refinery and they hold the options. They can’t get investors because the big guys want in and if the big guys wait till the options run out, they can come in and buy this and not have to pay Hyperion a finder’s fee. Instead of paying $20,000 an acre to Hyperion they can buy it outright for let’s say $10,000 an acre and still come out ahead. Does that make sense to you? I’ll bet it does to Hyperion.

I know that if I were in that situation I would be asking Randy Golden prices. ‘Sure Al, for $50,000.00 an acre I’ll option this to you’. You see, before some of the people weren’t sure what was coming, but now they do and they would be crazy not to ask for the moon. Now, Hyperion either has to buy the land or let it go. Let’s all hope they let it go back. Course if Hyperion gets backed into a corner they will just up and auction it off, because they can’t find a buyer. I think the average going price for land in this area is around $7200. So Hyperion still comes out, but if they need help to find buyers, I’m sure they would get plenty of help. Oh what a shame. This certainly is a dilemma isn’t it?

Hyperion is really starting to feel between a rock and a hard place. I wouldn’t doubt that we might even see ‘Big Al’ himself up here talking to folks. After all he has a vested interest to protect and the governor is right there with him. Just to be on the safe side, let me give you some facts to back this all up.

An article appeared recently in the Wall Street Journal. In the article, Chevron is quoted as telling employees they are going to cut jobs because production is down. Chevron stopped supplying gas and oil to over 1000 independent owned stations. Conoco Phillips is facing the same issue. Exxon Mobil is also reporting losses. Valero shut down a 220,000 b/d operation in Delaware.

Now in the midst of all this is the United States ambassador to Canada speaking in Toronto saying the U.S. needs tar sands oil. He said ‘if we’re looking for long term safe and secure sources of energy, Canada and therefore the oil sands need to be a part of it.’ This guy needs to talk to Obama cause if the President intends to cut back on carbon emissions, tar sands are the first to go.

There is an environmental group called ForestEthics that is getting large corporations in the United States to boycott any company that uses tar sands and more are on the books. Whole Foods Markets Ltd., and Bed Bath and Beyond have started the boycott. They have told fuel suppliers they will not used them if they try to sell tars sands processed gasoline. Hurray!

Here is another bill in the state legislature you might want to follow. HB 1153 repeals the requirement that the railroad obtain authority from the Governor or the Transportation Commission before the railroad may exercise the power of eminent domain. What the heck is going on out there in Pierre? Last week it was the townships and this week it is eminent domain. Somebody forgot to tell the legislature that this ain’t gonna happen. Good thing our representatives aren’t sponsoring these whacky bills. Do you think they will vote against this when it comes to the full floor of the legislature? They will if you tell them to.

Trivia Question: Why did Huddleston contributed $5,000 to John Thune’s PAC back in January of 2006? There is a long chain between South Dakota and Huddleston. Back in January of 2006 Huddleston contributed $5,000 to Thune’s (Heartland Values PAC campaign). No link says Thune..right!

Here is an interesting happening with the commissioners. The SD DOT held a bid letting for replacing a bridge and culvert in Prairie Township and the commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the contract. This bridge is in Prairie Township, and they don’t even want it replaced because it is a ‘bridge to nowhere’. Nobody lives on the road and it is hardly ever used. But they voted to do it anyway. The county’s portion of the bill is 20% of $247,000. This - for a bridge they don’t even want. This is another reason I’m running for commissioner.