Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Up Jumps the Snakes

<$BlogMetaData$>“Up jump the snakes!”

I was really going to be good this week and write a nice, sweet informative article about the beautiful tar sands up in Canada and suddenly up jumps a snake, in fact, up jump two snakes, and I’m turning into the “Mad Hatter.”

The first part of my article concerns the subject Julie Madden wrote in the Hometowner last week about redistricting. (One of the nice things about my articles is that Julie reports the news and I get to pontificate.)

As you well know, I mentioned several times last year that the commissioners election was critical because 2010 was a census year and district boundary lines within the state and county are going to be set according to population density. Now, the mouse is coming out of the woodwork. If it happens like I think it will happen, (I haven’t been wrong lately,) I would like to call this redistricting “Taxation without representation.” We will have absolutely no vote in how it’s done, and won’t like it when it is finished.

The main portion of Julie’s article concerned a statement made by Representative James Bolin (16th District) when he met with the commissioners about slicing up Union County, and his state district. He offered several scenarios that could come into play that is appealing depending on your governing interests. (i.e. Commissioner’s and Representative Districts) This covered slicing up the north half of the county and combining with Lincoln County. Combining with Vermillion is another possibility. - AND – they would probably leave it up to SECOG (Southeast Council of Governments) a “non-profit” (government) organization out of Sioux Falls to draw the lines. Now you have to understand here, that SECOG could give a rip as to our wants and needs in the county. (You saw what happened with the zoning ordinance rewrite.) They are the government, we are just one slice in their pie, and they are here to help us. The last time SECOG performed its magic with redistricting, we lost two good commissioners, Roger Boldenow and Dale Harkness.

Whenever you hear someone from the government come in and say “Hi I’m from the government and I’m here to help you,” you better pack your bags and head for the hills cause it ain’t gonna be a good deal. You’re about to get the shaft, because they got the goldmine. Political posturing is going to weigh heavily on drawing the district lines. You can bet your bottom dollar that Dakota Dunes will want 2 commissioners just for the dunes.

Why on earth would we leave it up to SECOG to set the lines? I’m pretty sure the state law says the commissioners are responsible to set the district lines. (It is called gerrymandering.) Are people scared to make decisions anymore? (I could re-e-e-ly say something nasty here but I won’t)

Union county is unique in that it might have something that everybody wants a piece of. It is called HYPERION. This is the golden cow. Anyway, back to my story. The one thing that has only been mentioned once that I know of is that it was suggested that the far southern end of the county could end up with 3 commissioners. Now you had better read this closely because it is going to kill Union County if we only have 5 commissioners and 3 of them are in the Dakota Dunes, McCook Lake, Wynstone and North Sioux City area. That leaves the entire rest of the county with only 2 commissioners to represent us because of the population shift. The only fair solution I can see to this is to increase the number of commissioners from 5 to 7. And don’t be foolish enough to think this discussion hasn’t taken place, because it most certainly has. The commissioners aren’t stupid.

Not only will this affect the commissioners, but each commissioner appoints one member to the planning and zoning board from their district. Now if you don’t think that will screw things up and create a mess, holy mackerel dere Andy!

The other issue is also from Representative Jim Bolin. He mentioned in his weekly press release that this is going to be a tough year as far as the budget is concerned because we aren’t getting any money from the feds, and some tough decisions are going to have to be made because there isn’t enough money to go around. 1) We have to balance our budget. 2) There is no appetite for general tax increase. 3) Sources of revenue declining. 4) No more stimulus funds. I would like to remind Mr. Bolin that he was elected to make tough decisions. I mean, I can make the easy ones, “Yes, Mr. Governor.”

Mr. Bolin has said repeatedly he supports Hyperion. Governor Rounds and Governor Daugaard have both supported Hyperion. Hyperion has said many times lately that they will have shovels in the ground in 2011. Now, is it time for Hyperion to put its money where their mouth is? And is it time to put up or shut up? That first shovelful of dirt is going to be expensive. Woo-Hoo! C’mon South Dakota let’s give it up for Hyperion!

That would mean a minimum of $200 million in excise taxes just to start. Think of that folks, $200 million. That would solve everyone’s problems. OOPS I forgot, Hyperion asked to be treated like all other new businesses in the state and 90% or $182 million of that $200 million in excise tax will be forgiven.(page 18 of variance for Conditional Use Permit or Planned Development section of the zoning ordinance) so the state gets a whopping $18 million dollars. Darn! And just to ensure they get that tax break, they have it written into the Union County zoning ordinance and of course the commissioners signed off on it. What a deal. So Mr. Bolin, there is your solution to number 3 of the states problems, repeal that portion of the excise tax law. Slam dunk Huh? How about a quick phone call to Dallas?


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