Sunday, November 28, 2010

Top ten reasons not to be a Republican in South Dakota

<$BlogMetaData$>December 1st, 2010

Top Ten reasons not to be a Republican in

South Dakota!

#10 Dennis Dugaard (a clone of Rounds) was elected governor

#9 Eldon Nygard switches to being a Republican State Senator after being elected as a Democrat

#8 Ben Nesselhuf gets defeated for Secretary of State

#7 Governor Rounds practices Nepotism by appointing his son-in-law to a $75,000 a year job in Pierre

#6 Governor Elect Dugaard appoints his son to a job in Pierre continuing the practice of nepotism by rounds

#5 Dusty Johnson gets re-elected to a 6 year term to the PUC

#4 Dusty Johnson resigns after 2 weeks to become Dugaard’s Chief-of-Staff

#3 Chris Nelson gets appointed to the PUC to fill the vacancy of Dusty Johnson thus keeping being gainfully employed by the state

#2 nothing has changed in Pierre, it will be business as normal.

And the #1 reason not to be a Republican in South Dakota.....This really, really TICK’S ME OFF!!!!!

Governor-elect Dugaard said: “people who oppose Hyperion are environmental extremists.
Since when is it a crime to protest a stupid government decision (is that an oxymoron or what?) many people in this area and around the state are almost to the point they are fearful of their lives and the lives of their families because of the threat of Hyperion to build a refinery in Southern Union County. The last time I looked, we still had freedom of speech and the right to assemble as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America.

Hyperion has yet to prove they will be the “green” refinery they are touting. Hyperion cannot disprove statements that this will be harmful to the environment or to the people in this area. Hyperion refuses to submit an environmental impact statement to prove who and what they intend to do is safe. Hyperion is a joke

If this makes us environmental extremists, I am so honored and Oh so proud to be a part of it!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Detour 2 1/2

<$BlogMetaData$>Chapter 2 ½ - Detour

Detour there’s a muddy road ahead. Detour, pay no mind to what it said. Detour there’s a muddy road ahead, I should have read that detour sign. (An old Hank Thompson song) Now I suppose you are shaking your head and wondering if I’ve lost mine. Well, I said a couple of weeks ago that I was going to concentrate on Hyperion. Well, the county commissioners have put up a detour sign that I just have to write about. I mean this is important. I believe it is a disaster waiting to happen.

The commissioners are in a quandary what to do about county road 17. It has flooded three times this year on the Sioux River and every time it floods, it wipes out county road 17. It is costing the county money to keep this road repaired even though they are getting money from FEMA. This has been going on for quite a few years. At the commissioners meeting last week, they discussed several options about what to do about the road.

Let’s close the road, no – let’s leave it open. Make it a minimum maintenance road, no – keep it as a viable road. Rebuild the dike, no – don’t rebuild the dike. Raise the road above the flood level of the river. No – do something else like rebuild the road but put in culverts. Back and forth, back and forth. In the end, no decision was made. It was like watching a tennis match. Never one time did they talk about consulting with an expert about this; it was 5 guys sitting around playing tiddely winks. They didn’t even say anything about talking to long time residents to get the history of this area and why the dike was left into disrepair or how long has the flooding been going on or even asking for their advice. They did table the issue though. I wonder if they have even gone out to look at the potential for solving the severe flooding problems. I think they are worried about the road, and they should be worried about the people who live in this area.

After the meeting I called a good friend of mine who is a geologist and worked for the South Dakota geological survey at USD before going into business (Hammond Wetmore Drilling) for himself drilling wells and working with things like water. Dick Hammond is from Spink and is very familiar and very knowledgeable about the problems along the Sioux River. Besides that, he just happens to be smart, (didn’t I just say that?) which is a BIG plus. He conducted a symposium several years ago about this very problem. (I hate the word symposium; it’s a hoity toity word)

Anyway, Dick said that first of all if you make a dike you choke the flow of the river which raises the crest and will flood out the Iowa side of the river. Second of all it will create a faster moving current and cause more problems than if you leave it alone. When the water is spread out over a mile or mile and a half you are dealing with nature. When man gets involved, the formula changes.

People might say that they didn’t have this problem in the past, but Dick said that the problems we have now are caused by people living along the river, and is only going to get worse. South Dakota and Iowa are allowing farmers to make ditches to alleviate the drainage problems in low land fields. Or, they are tiling the fields to direct the flow of the water towards a creek or waterway that is going to the river. What this is doing is decreasing the amount of time it takes the water to get to the major artery, which in this case is the Big Sioux. When this happens during a heavy rainfall or melting snow in the spring, the river doesn’t have time to react and dissipate the water, so we get floods. This is happening along the entire length of the river on the border, not just in this area. Water flows downhill. Duh!

We talked about the options that the commissioners talked about and he said abandoning the road is not going to solve the problem nor is making it a minimum maintenance road. Raising the level of the road is going to create the choke in the flow which is going to raise the crest making Akron add to the level of the dike on the Iowa side to keep the river from flooding Akron. Raising the level of County road 17 is in effect making a dike. So what do we do? My question is why are we taking so long to look for a solution? Are the commissioners looking for a solution because it is costing the county money or are they finally looking out for the residents of the area? I hope it is the latter and not the former. (right!)

I drove the road the other day and took a close look at what the damage is. Virtually all the gravel is washed into the ditches. The dike has a gap about the length of two football fields in it. This flooding also affects the roads that feed into county road 17. In simple words, it is a big big mess.

So what would you do? We cannot keep repairing this road every year and if it is only going to get worse what is it going to be like? Before the commissioners do something foolish, I sure hope they check into this and get an authoritative and knowledgeable (are those words the same?) answer. I guess it boils down to some farmers are going to get flooded out every year unless we do something, but where do we get the money? Whatever we do, let’s hope they think this thing through and not do something stupid. (To be continued :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pete and Repeat

<$BlogMetaData$>Chapter 2

Pete and Repeat

I re-read last week’s article and discovered an amazing thing. I have been saying for over 3 years everything that was in last week’s article, except saying what is on everyone else’s mind. The skids have been greased ($$). I wonder why it is that I keep writing things like that over and over and over. It brings me back to when I was instructing new radio operators in the service. “You’re going to do this until you get it right.”

That is the way things were done back then. Today they call it ‘rote’. For the life of me I do not understand why I don’t adapt to change. Could it be because it is harmful to my health and well being? Could it be I believe green is not fresh air and good health, but that the only thing that some people believe in is that the green is in money. Could it be that I care about the future of our children wherein after many years of pollution we will be like China? Can’t we rise above greed and money and learn from others mistakes? Could it be I believe there are “other options”? As my mom always said: “after the horse is out of the barn there is no need to shut the gate.” There I go repeating myself again.

After last week’s article, I went back over many of the articles I’ve written over the last 3 years, and it is amazing how many times I repeated myself about many, many things about Hyperion and the people intimately involved in the process have done. At what point do I just chuck the whole mess and resign myself to the fact that this is going to happen regardless of my efforts to stop this. My answer to this is comparable to what Charlton Heston said when he was elected President of the NRA and was asked when he was going to admit that gun control is going to happen. Holding up a frontier long rifle he said: “when they pry this gun from my cold, cold hands.”

Those words are my sentiments exactly. I will quit opposing this refinery when they put my cold, cold body in the ground. (Hope it doesn’t take that long) I’m tired of being the one who compromises. We were here first and if Hyperion wants to come and screw things up, then they must be the one who compromises. My first demand is they pick up their papers and go back to Texas, and then we can talk about it. What is it about NO DIRTY REFINERY don’t they understand? There I go repeating myself again. The second thing is that our state and local government THOROUGHLY examine both the good and the bad about refineries and hopefully admit they made a tragic error to allow this to happen. The onus is on Hyperion to submit a study showing the impact this is going to cause on the community. For once in their (state) life make a decision and force Hyperion to do something instead of being so condescending.

This isn’t a broad based opposition to many issues; this is very narrow in concept and one issue, NO Refinery! Now I may not be a rocket scientist, but I do understand plain English. So it will be my mission that until Hyperion packs up their bags and goes home, I will continue to Pete and repeat this simple request. I don’t think that is being unreasonable do you? Even if you don’t agree with me, it is my simple mission to bring the truth to light and then for you to decide whether or not my mission has validity.

I cannot repeat often enough that facts have been presented that cannot be dismissed by rational people; however, the people in power have dismissed or for some strange reason, ignored these facts. The reason we are where we are today is the almighty Texas dollar is speaking. Whether or not it is good for us and the state of South Dakota has been ignored to the point that those of us opposed to this intrusion are Ogres and stupid for not recognizing the facts. People often come up to me and accuse me of being a chronic complainer and a cynic and why don’t I try to be constructive rather than destructive. Why don’t I try to be positive instead of negative? (My God, how can you be positive about pollution?) (I’m positive Hyperion isn’t coming.)My answer to them is that this is the only way I can get their attention. I have the attitude that I cannot go to sleep at night asking myself “what’s wrong with this picture?” Once you cross the line you cannot have ‘do over’s’ to correct the mistake you made in the first place. Ten years down the line is not the time to say oops. If one needs someone to blame for this opposition, I’m more than willing to be the blame. (To be continued (:0)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Separating Fact From Fiction

<$BlogMetaData$>Chapter One

Separating fact from fiction,

I’m going to do something different with this column. I am going to run several (more than one) chapters reviewing my thoughts about why this itch that you can’t scratch is never going to come about and further disrupt the lives of the people in this area. I will fervently try to be comprehensive (maybe a little disjointed) about this because my mind tends to wander (old age) when I get the fingers tapping on the keyboard. It is kind of like I started carrying out the garbage, but by the time I get outside I’m mowing the lawn and the garbage is still sitting in the garage.

It has been over 4 years since we first heard the name ‘Gorilla’ and wondered what the heck was going on around here. let’s take a look at what has been happening and then you can be reassured that not only is the refinery never going to happen, it was never intended to happen. That last statement might set some of you to wondering what I’m talking about, but if you stop and think about it, the logistics of this whole façade points overwhelmingly to a dream scheme that somebody with too much money on their hands decided would test the waters to see if they could pull enough ‘oil’ money into this deal to make it actually happen.

I’ll be the first to admit that there are so many stories going around that it is hard to separate fact from fiction. The fact is that a project of this magnitude is far beyond the capabilities of a company from Dallas, Texas called Hyperion Resources. Hyperion Resources is a real estate investment company. They dabble in real estate ventures in the Dallas Texas vicinity. Granted the CEO’s wife is from one of the biggest oil families in the world. The fiction is that they actually think we believe they can do it.

It would take 10 years at the minimum just to draw up the plans for the biggest oil refinery in the United States in 35 years, and that is putting it mildly. I can speak from experience. When I was in the service, I worked on a project for the Air Force to put 747 aircraft into service to replace an aging fleet of airplanes in the airborne command post. I spent the better part of 4 years going back and forth to Seattle Washington helping to design and test just the communications portion of the system. We spent months just talking and researching the best companies in the world to provide us with equipment to enable us to provide the ‘state of the art’ communications platform for the world wide airborne command post. Each component had to interface with our design concept. Granted this was just a 747 but then compare this to the planning that has to go into building an oil refinery covering almost 4,000 acres with ‘state of the art’, ‘never been done before’, ‘green refinery’ that will be refining the dirtiest oil in the world under the most difficult conditions to generate 400,000 barrels of oil and gasoline products each day 24/7 365 for people to consume. To say that this is a $10 Billion dollar undertaking is an understatement. To say that this is reaching an unreachable star is more like it.

Do you think any banking institution in their right mind is going to lend money without an absolute concrete plan how this is going to work? this proposal would take hundreds if not thousands of people researching and planning every angle, down to the size of the nuts and bolts, on how this is going to happen so they can present to the lending institution and/or investors how this is going to come off. Do you know any people that would be willing to risk millions of dollars into a venture with absolutely NO return on their investment for at least 10-15 years? I don’t.

It will take a lot of engineers a lot of time to pull this off, and Hyperion was just in the talking stages. Everything was ‘hush-hush’, that is why they came up with the ‘Gorilla’ project. They come up with this harebrained idea and come up to Dakota Dunes and play a little golf with the governor and says ‘hey guv… I’m an oilman from Texas and I want to build an oil refinery in South Dakota, what da ya think? The governor is all for it and the Texas guy chokes and says to himself. ‘I’ve got me a live one.’ The governor thinks this will be his legacy to his time in the big house in Pierre; thinks this is the answer to his prayers and jumps. He forgot one thing; not everybody is gung ho about this deal, but Hyperion starts taking out land options and promising people the moon and who could resist? Initially they had over 30,000 acres under option as they worked to get contiguous land that would be big enough to hold a ‘refinery’.

One of the first things they had to do was convince influential people in Union County this was going to happen and to work out arrangements to zone the land (Hyperion wrote its own zoning ordinance) so they didn’t have any problems when it came down to the final act. Getting the p&z to go along was a piece of cake ($$). The opposition to the refinery presented hours of expert and convincing arguments as to why this should not be built here. After more than 5 hours of public testimony, it took the p&z less than 2 minutes to approve the application. (Did they go back and talk to each other discussing the pros and cons of what just happened?) They slam dunked this thing faster than they could get the words out of their mouth. Somebody greased the skids. ($$) To be continued:

Monday, November 1, 2010

We are a bunch of Hypocrites

<$BlogMetaData$>We and the county are Hypocrites!

One thing about writing articles about things happening in Union County is that you don’t have to look very far to find stuff to write about. I’m not sure what I’m about to write about is funny or sad.

The county commissioners have suddenly found out that the by-laws adopted by the Union County Fair Board way way back in the 1950’s,is taking money improperly. It seems that the fair board has been renting out the buildings during the time the fair is not in session and using the money to fund the fair for the next year. They have been doing this for 50 years and there has never been a word said about how they raise their money for the fair each year. The way they are going about it seems okay to me. They have a board and the board decides how to spend the money. No big deal. I think the budget from the county is somewhere around $16000.00, which is not nearly enough to do anything with and the board, relies on funds from renting the buildings and donations. Seems as though the county just found out about this and told the board they need to rewrite the bylaws to give all money to the county since the buildings and grounds belong to the county. (You can see what’s coming can’t you?) The commissioners never give anything back to the departments that I know of. It all goes in the coffers to be spent at THEIR discretion.

Some of the buildings are already being rented and have equipment, hay, corn and beans stored in them. Well, the county has decided that people must bid on the buildings and the winning bid will get to rent the building for the next year. The money of course, goes to the county. Now we are going into malfunction junction with questions that haven’t been asked therefore the county hasn’t answered. Since the budget has already been approved for 2011 I don’t think they can change it without a public hearing.

If the lease is for more than 120 days and $500 they have to have a hearing and after the leases are accepted they have to pass a resolution. (SDCL 7-18-32) if they don’t collect enough to make up the difference the board would normally receive for renting these buildings, will the county kick in some money or does the fair board have to make it on their own? If they get more than what they would get normally, does this go to the fair board or the county general fund? Do the people who secure the bids have to be bonded? Do they have to provide proof of insurance etc? Are there default clauses in the contracts? Since some farmers already have grain and equipment stored, are they grandfathered for this year or do they have to move stuff out if they lose their bid on the buildings. Do you see where this is headed, and this is just for the fair board. GOOFEY! Why don’t the commissioners just leave well enough alone? The county just has to step in doo-doo every time they turn around. This could go on forever. If you think the nation government is too invasive, look what the county government is doing.

Now we get to one of my favorite concerns. We repealed the zoning ordinance in 2007 and a new one was passed in 2008. One of the biggest items of contention was the statement by the planning and zoning that in order to preserve ag land and keep ag land there can only be one house per 40 acres. That is unless it is rezoned commercial, rural residential, light industrial etc. it seems that the popular thing to do now is to have land rezoned as rural residential. Ignoring the statement to keep as much land as possible as agriculture, the p&z is more than happy to rezone it otherwise. They also approved the Izaak Walton League to replat 119 acres to acreages. Uh-h-h-h-h, Uh-h-h-h-h, Uh-h-h-h-h-h. I’ll bet you that the Izaak Walton league will buy another acre to make it an even 120 acres. I think they are trying to work the system.

The intent of the zoning ordinance to have only one house per 40 acres was to induce people to move into incorporated areas and leave ag land to be farmable. I guess they can ignore their statements and rulings to suit their purposes. I wonder why this doesn’t surprise me.

The Dakota Dunes CID voted on a tax abatement for new businesses and commercial property in the dunes area in accordance with SDCL 10-6-35 to give tax breaks of 80% the first year, 60% the second, %40 the third and 20% the fourth year. Oh please Lord, give me a break! The rest of the county just had their assessments raised 20-25% last year and the CID is giving tax abatements. What’s wrong with this picture? Not only that, this procedure was first instituted in 2000 and renewed in 2005. This period covers 2011 thru 2015. What else is going on that we don’t know about?

I saved my personal comments for last. The election on Tuesday, November 2nd had a proposition 12 on it to ban smoking statewide. This proposition is an attempt to keep people from getting lung cancer etc. from smoking. I think the state is being Hypocritical about this whole deal since they think it would be great to have an oil refinery spewing 19 million TONS of carbon dioxide and almost 8,000 TONS of particulate matter which will give people terminal illnesses such as cancer and emphysema. I think the state has developed a NIMBY attitude and is more than willing to sacrifice the lives of people in this area just for the sake of economic development. That is just plain Stupid.