When State Legislatures Fail to Act, Due Process is Left Open to Interpretation and “Rational Review” of Liability.
This issue of mandatory medical intervention is being called into question, as is the way COVID-19 has been handled by U.S regulatory agencies. On September 12, 2022 researchers at Harvard, University of San Fransisco, Oxford, Edinburgh, John's Hopkins et al Medical Schools published a study in which researchers assert that the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters are 98 percent worse than the virus itself, for young adults. In addition, the authors challenge coercive policies, making five arguments against "ethically unjustifiable" mandates on campus.
"No formal risk-benefit assessment exists for this age group;
"Vaccine mandates may result in a net expected harm to individual young people;
"Mandates are not proportionate: expected harms are not outweighed by public health benefits given the modest and transient effectiveness of vaccines against transmission;
"US mandates violate the reciprocity principle because rare serious vaccine-related harms will not be reliably compensated due to gaps in current vaccine injury schemes; and
"Mandates create wider social harms. We consider counter-arguments such as a desire for socialisation and safety and show that such arguments lack scientific and/or ethical support. Finally, we discuss the relevance of our analysis for current 2-dose Covid-19 vaccine mandates in North America." - quoted from the study's abstract.
Challenges have come on the heels of full disclosure, compelled by a court ruling last year. A group of highly qualified and credentialed scientists and doctors filed a Freedom of Information Act with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), to release the documents they received prior to granting EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) for Pfizer's BioNTech biologics. Although the FDA had promised complete transparency through their licensing period of the COVID-19 biologics, the FDA refused to release the documents, initially stating they would need 75 years to produce the clinical trial data, or about 500 pages per month.
Now, a group called Nations in Action, has filed an Amicus Brief in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals citing the Liberty Clause. Plaintiffs Katie Sczesny, Jamie Rumfield, Debra Hagen, and Mariette Vitti allege the state of New Jersey via Governor Philip Murphy, violated their due process, fourth and fourteenth amendment rights, by conditioning the benefit of employment upon the relinquishment of a constitutional right.
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"The fact that the government in this case conditioned the benefit of
employment on the relinquishment of a constitutional right does not alter the
Liberty Clause analysis. Pursuant to the doctrine of unconstitutional conditions,
the extraordinary level of coercion involved in the COVID-19 injection mandates
render them presumptively unconstitutional and subject to the same judicial
scrutiny as laws of general applicability," the Amicus Brief states.
Law Professor and lead author of the Amicus Brief, Deana Sacks, says she is frustrated that other attorneys have failed to argue these cases, or practice the law on the basis of "strict review."
Sacks asserts that the burden of proof falls upon each attorney, and up until this point, the history of bodily autonomy has yet to be laid out or shown to be a constitutional right through proper pleadings, and arguments.
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Hay does not feed Americans in the way that other crops do like potatoes, wheat, corn, beans, and other commodity crops. Even though we don’t have hay at our dinner table, its production is vital because it feeds livestock, and that livestock in turn feeds us. Without hay, we find ourselves with a break in the food security supply chain.
Farmers and ranchers across the United States are currently facing a hay shortage due to extreme drought and inflation. These issues have led to increased costs of fuel, fertilizer, and other inputs. The general population may not notice this issue right now, but the shortage of hay will impact our food security in America as it becomes more apparent in the colder months.
The hay shortage will have a three-fold effect. It will first hit the bank accounts of farmers and ranchers who grow and sell hay. Then the shortage and subsequent high prices of hay will impact those who feed hay to their livestock. Already there have been reports across the country of long lines at sale yards where ranchers are selling their herds because they do not have feed available at affordable prices. Lastly, the hay shortage will impact the general population that enjoys a glass of milk or a hamburger. The scarcity and skyrocketing cost to feed livestock will ultimately result in a higher cost at the grocery store.
While some American consumers may be able to absorb these price increases, many will not. Those unable to afford these products will be pushed into purchasing food items that may not be as nutritionally dense as animal protein.
Food insecurity is not new. In 2013, roughly 14% of our nation’s families were facing it at some point. In 2019, the number of families experiencing food insecurity had dropped by 3%, down to roughly 11%. Unfortunately, in 2022, due to inflation and policy, food insecurity for families across the country has spiked. As of this spring, 64% of American families were struggling to afford the cost of living. Crop shortages causing food insecurity are not new either.
While this may just be another hot summer for some, for farmers and ranchers who grow hay, it has been devastating. Many regions across the country have experienced severe drought this spring and summer. The drought has impacted crop yields because many people who farm rely on regular rainfall to water their crops. To make matters worse, a select few states rely on irrigation, but many of those areas have had their water use cut by governmental policy.
During a typical year, the United States on average (excluding Hawaii and Alaska), gets about 30.21 inches of moisture. This year (2022) we are approaching record lows after the long hot summer across the nation. This lack of precipitation has caused farmers and ranchers to grow less hay because there is simply not enough water. Additionally, hay crops are dying much earlier than they would during an average crop cycle. Ultimately, this leads to a lower yield for farmers and ranchers who have planted and harvested hay this season.
Hay production this year has decreased by 17.9% in Oklahoma and 22.5% in Texas. Overall hay production this year has decreased by 10.1% when looking at the past ten-year average (2011-2021).
HIGH COST OF INPUT
In terms of man-made factors affecting hay production in 2022, inflation caused by policy and the rising cost of fuel can be listed as the biggest. Not only does the high cost of petroleum products affect the cost to run equipment, but it also raises the prices of goods across the board, including fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. This year alone, the cost of fuel has risen nearly 60%. Despite news stories reporting that the cost of fuel has decreased in recent months, the price is still more than double what it was last year.
When prices for inputs rise sharply, like herbicides and fertilizer, many farmers and ranchers simply cannot afford to utilize them to maximize crop yield per acre. The high cost of fuel to run planting and harvesting equipment has also caused some farmers and ranchers to leave fields fallow.
According to a study done by John Baffes and Wee Chian Koh for the World Bank, fertilizer prices have gone up nearly 30% since the start of 2022, putting them at a record high. This rise in cost has made it nearly impossible for the average hay farmer to afford fertilizer in order to maximize crop production per acre and yield.
Pesticides that keep crops from being consumed by insects (like the locusts and grasshoppers ripping through nearly every field in the Eastern South Dakota currently), have also spiked upwards in 2022. It appears there is a battle on all fronts for farmers and ranchers as they try to scrape by without losing their livelihoods.
HOW HAY IMPACTS FOOD SECURITY
In 2020, the meat and dairy industries took large hits from Covid-19 shutdowns. Since then, food industries have worked hard to recover and start on an upward trend.
However, due to drought and inflation, this year the crop yield for hay is critically low. The hay shortage is impacting the dairy industry and the meat industry (specifically beef) which rely on hay as a food source for livestock.
Meanwhile, the need for hay grows as more food is needed to be produced. Agricultural experts across the country have expressed concern that farmers and ranchers will not have enough hay to sustain livestock this winter. The early sell-off of cattle by many farmers and ranchers and the coming winter will ultimately mean shortages in grocery stores as well as rising prices. Shortages of food products will directly impact foods that make it to dinner tables across America.
Consumers are already starting to see a rise in the cost of beef products. In 2020, a pound of ground beef cost $4.12 on average. In 2022 that number is roughly $4.78 and much higher in many areas. The price hikes have brought us past a $0.50 increase in under two years. At the current rate of increase, the average American family may not be able afford to buy steaks or even ground beef for dinner on a regular basis. Other staple products have also risen dramatically in price.
"Investigators with the South Dakota attorney general’s Division of Criminal Investigation obtained a search warrant as part of the probe, according to two of the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. They said the case was referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for further investigation." Denny Sanford, according to open secrets has been one of Gov. Noem's largest campaign donors.
On September 12, 2020, fifteen days after the story broke of Denny Sanford's alleged child pornography probe, then Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg was heading home, when he hit something outside of Highmore. It was confirmed the next day that he had hit and killed Joseph Boever, a Highmore resident who was found to have been highly intoxicated in an autopsy report.
On September 28, 2021, a year and 16 days after Jason Ravnsborg had fatally hit Joseph Boever, a complaint was filed with the GAB (Government Accountability Board), regarding allegations of malfeasance and misconduct associated with the Governor's daughter Kassidy Peters.
In a letter that accompanied the complaint, dated September 28, 2021, Ravnsborg turned over the investigation of Gov. Noem and suggested using out-of-state legal counsel in an attempt to avoid any impropriety on his behalf, or that of his department.
Within the released records, is a motion to dismiss the case dated April 15, 2022, from Gov. Noem's attorney Lisa Prostrollo. Prostrollo argues in the motion that the Board should not proceed further with a contested case hearing, citing that the A.G did not have proper standing to file, nor does the Board have proper statutory or Constitutional authority to provide relief.
"The Attorney General has filed his complaint in bad faith while acting in his official capacity without the requisite authority, and he is seeking relief from this Board that is well beyond its statutory and Constitutional power to provide. Therefore the complaint should be dismissed outright without a contested case hearing," Prostrollo states, who has also claimed that turning over the investigation was a "political attack."
The Government Accountability Board was created in 2017 by the legislature in order to investigate statewide office holders, and members of the legislature after various scandals emerged, like EB-5 and Gear-Up. The Board is codified in state law under SDCL-3-24-1 through 3-24-11. According to the SDCL, the only requirement stipulated to file a complaint, is being a citizen or resident of South Dakota.
The Government Accountability Board has dismissed one charge related to Noem's daughter, Kassidy Peters. It was alleged that Noem had misused state funds to settle a $200,000 dollar age discrimination case with former director of South Dakota’s Appraiser Certification Program, Sherry Bren.
The Board has moved forward on other charges however, including "malfeasance" as outlined in SDCL 3-24-3(4). Sources close to the investigation tell The Dakota Leader that Gov. Noem has been given the option to take a type of plea deal or go to a contested case hearing. Sources also indicate that Gov. Noem has been given until next week to decide how she intends to proceed.
(0:00-1:16) The defeat of the substitute motion (by Anne Beal) has been just been confirmed and discussion returns to the
Marilyn Oakes restates the original motion, but there seems to be some confusion over the actual wording of the original
motion and some discussion occurs away from the microphone in regard to that.
1:16- 1:31 - Dan Lederman takes the microphone and says they will re-state the original motion so everyone can hear it.
1:31- 2:00- "To direct the Bylaws committee to explore options to set election times for PCPs to allow time for
training and familiarization prior to the convention, and then the report will be brought back [from the Bylaws
committee] by the winter meeting."
2:00- 2:50 - Mary Fitzgerald (elected rep from Lawrence County) states that she would like to amend the current motion,
and she is then asked how she wants to amend it, and is asked to go to the microphone so that everyone present can
actually hear what she is saying. There is also cross-talk from someone (possibly Fitzgerald) about just having the Bylaws
committee look into the duties of a precinct committee person and make recommendations to the executive board prior to
the winter meeting.
2:50 - 3:20 - At this juncture, Mary Fitzgerald is heard to say:
"They [newly elected precinct people] want to participate in our county meetings, they want to try to take
control of our convention, take control of our county [central committees], and I think it's really important that we
have people who work hard and are rewarded by actually doing things. And now we have these people who
come in and go to the convention and vote and we never see them again... until maybe when we have a county
election and they try to take over [in] a coup and take over our central committee."
3:20 -3:40- She goes on to say "I know that [the suggestion for an amendment to the motion] it's really vague, so maybe
someone else can change it or whatever. So vote it up or vote it down, whatever..."
3:45- 4:15 - There is some unintelligible discussion, and then a remark is made that Fitzgerald's motion to amend
requires a second, and the motion to amend is seconded by Roger Meyer.
4:15-5:15 - Dan Lederman takes the microphone to say that he'll repeat what was suggested. "The motion (to amend)
is to direct the Bylaws committee to rewrite precinct committee (PC) duties, responsibilities, privileges, and
timing of service (timing of term) and come to the state central committee winter meeting with a proposal for
5:45- 7:10 - The "friendly" amendment proposed by Fitzgerald and seconded by Meyer is approved on a voice vote, and
Lederman then makes an off-handed remark about the "Word Salad" they're creating. There is some small talk and
discussion about giving Marilyn Oakes [secretary] time to catch up with the meeting notes in regard to the current
7:10 - 8:10 - Marilyn restates what is being proposed in terms of a friendly amendment to the original motion.
Lederman remarks that they are now back to discussing the original motion as currently amended.
8:15- 9:35 Jefferey Church takes the microphone to suggest that they direst the Bylaws committee to explore options for removing Precinct People who do not participate in their county duties (as yet undefined) . Someone in the
group suggests that should actually be made as its own separate motion. Church then retracts his motion and says he'll
bring it after the current motion is voted upon.
9:50 -11:35 Charlie Hoffman of McPherson County (District 23 representative) takes the microphone and says:
"The inside baseball everyone needs to be aware of. We're at a pinnacle in this party where we can't allow
disenfranchised people [to sever] the party statewide. If we don't do something- this is a very important meeting-
and the meeting in January will be of utmost importance for this reason"
"I know for a FACT there will be legislation brought that will GUT our conference [convention], GUT our summer
celebrations, that will do things to this party that we don't like... and there isn't much we're gonna be able do
about it... [except] maybe get the Governor on our side to veto it."
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"But there's a lot of power pushing back against the things that happened at convention. Now just to say this,
because I've got the microphone and I won't speak again- My thoughts of the previous [proposal] is there has to
be skin in the game for you to be able to vote at convention and here [central committee].
All of us have skin in the game, okay? The constitutional offices... when you come to a convention and you've
done your homework and you want to be the best Secretary of State, or the best Treasurer, the best Auditor, or
the best School and Public Lands Commissioner- that's fantastic- you're running for a position-not so much
running against someone else.
"BUT...when you come to our convention, and you run against the Lt. Governor... you are not running to be the
best Lt. Governor, you're running to SPITE the governor. There is no way in hell".... (Scattered applause from
11:40-12:45 Hoffman continues his remarks- "I was at both last conventions where there were two people running to
'take out the Lt. Governor.' Now here's the deal... think about this: We all think we have the expertise and knowledge to
elect the best person in our party to be the governor of this state, and whoever that is, that person ends up being the most
powerful political person in the state.
"Yet by convention we don't think that person has the audacity, intelligence or drive to pick their own Lt. Governor. Let's
have a discussion on that [the Lt. Governor nominating process], leave the [other] constitutional offices alone. That gets
the grass-roots [involved], we don't want to screw up the grassroots in this.
We're moving in the right direction- I'm not sure we can go all the way to 105 [seats in the legislature] - if it happens, that's
fantastic...[then] all the constitutional offices are all held by us- let's keep that preserved.
"Let's work on making sure we don't get some Nut Bags from the other party - especially in the PUC (Public Utility
Commissioner) race. But otherwise, that's all I've got. Thank you very much for your time." (end of Hoffman remarks)
(applause from some of the meeting attendees)
The Dakota Leader has launched its very own radio show broadcast, which will air live every Friday at noon central time. Our first guest, Speaker of The House Representative Spencer Gosch, joins TDL Editor Breeauna Sagdal, to discuss South Dakota politics and headlines in the news. Join us live every Friday at Revolution.Radio, Apple Podcasts, on your ROKU device, or catch us later on our YouTube Channel.
This Friday at noon, we will feature special guest Senator-elect Tom Pischke (R-Dell Rapids)
The Dakota Leader Radio is Member Supported. If You Like The Information We Bring To You Each Week, Please Consider a Monthly Donation!
A look at the correlation between property taxes and housing affordability
By Mike Zitterich *UPDATED 09/08/22 By Editor Breeauna Sagdal*
Each year, beginning the first of August through the end of September, the Sioux Falls City Council holds public meetings to discuss the Annual tax revenues, expenses, future projects, programs, and projected plans of the city government. Part of that process includes the City Finance Officer seeking approval of the residents to take its allotted increase from the State Property Tax Assessments.
This allotted increase, in addition to the increases of the Sioux Falls School District budget, could mean higher property taxes for residents in the 2023 fiscal year. Property taxes, aside from impacting home-owners, also impact renters and access to housing affordability according to researchers.
"Nationwide, renter households are more than twice as likely to be housing cost-burdened as owner households," the authors state.
While South Dakota has some of the highest property taxes in the nation, the cost of living is is offset by a small sales tax, and no income tax. In 2016, Sioux Falls, South Dakota ranked amongst the lowest cost-burdened cities.
However, according to the SmartAsset study, "no city is perfect." In 2016 4% of households across all income levels within Sioux Falls were still paying 50% or more of their incomes on housing costs, while 10% were spending between 30-50% of their income on housing. In the five years since then, property taxes in Sioux Falls have increased by another 14.2 million dollars. It's important to note that the max tax rate is set by the state legislature, but each city, and county have separate agreements and operating expenses that fluctuate budgets and property taxes.
Over the past five years, the City Council has steadily approved property-tax increases by $14.2 million dollars. $60,129,933 (2017); $62,523,959 (2018); 66,576,460 (2019); $70,288,580 (2020); and $74,349,770 (2021). Per the "2022 Request for Property Tax Dollars", the City Finance Officer has assessed, and confirmed that the City may be entitled to increase property-tax evaluations again, by another $2.2 million dollars ($78,572,716) for F.Y. 2023.
The 2.2 million dollar property tax increase is on par with the last five years, and in fact Mayor Paul Tenhaken's budget proposal for 2023 is below forecasted revenues for the year. With the costs of inflation, living costs for many are increasing, but some are feeling the squeeze more acutely. According to Derek Lobo of SVN Rock Advisors, these cost increases disproportionately impact renters.
"It’s widely believed that only property owners pay property tax, but it’s actually not true, and in fact renters sometimes pay more property tax than those in single-family dwellings. They just pay it in their rent," Lobo said in an article for Real Estate News EXchange.
Renter occupied properties, be it single-family or multi-family such as apartment buildings, are taxed at higher rates because they are considered income properties for the owner. However, these costs get passed along to the renter in the form of rent, as do higher interest rates, increases in water, sewer, electric costs and more. In addition, renters share the same, or higher, tax burden for school districts, regardless of use.
The total property value assessed in Sioux Falls, according to the state's Department of Revenue is $16,800,000,000 billion dollars. The tax rate for Sioux Falls is currently set at 1.42% of assessed value, meaning the average home valued at $250,000 will pay about $3,550 dollars per year for owner-occupied properties, slightly over more than the national average.
Lloyd Companies, is a rental property company that owns approximately $212,113,800 dollars worth of assessed property value in Sioux Falls. Renters of Llyod property's, such as those living at Philip Ave Lofts, The Cascade and so on, pay an annual combined $3.02 million of the property tax burden to the city. Similarly, Ronning Rental Properties owns $45,521,500 million in assessed value, with their renters currently paying an estimated tax of $650,000 per year to the city.
The City Council will discuss the 2023 fiscal year's budget at the next meeting, September 13th.
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*Editor's Note:We have retracted a former version of this article, and we apologize for the mistake made by our team. The current version accurately reflects the author's intended story and corrected math.
The U.S. and the Holocaust is a three-part, six hour series that examines America’s response to one of the greatest humanitarian crises of the twentieth century. Americans consider themselves a “nation of immigrants,” but as the catastrophe of the Holocaust unfolded in Europe, the United States proved unwilling to open its doors to more than a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of desperate people seeking refuge. Through riveting firsthand testimony of witnesses and survivors who as children endured persecution, violence and flight as their families tried to escape Hitler, this series delves deeply into the tragic human consequences of public indifference, bureaucratic red tape and restrictive quota laws in America. Did the nation fail to live up to its ideals? This is a history to be reckoned with.
Essilor International, Essilor of America Inc., Essilor Laboratories of America Inc., and Essilor Instruments USA (Essilor), headquartered in Dallas, Texas has settled a case of alleged Medicaid fraud. The company manufactures, markets, and distributes optical lenses and equipment used to produce optical lenses. Pursuant to the settlement, Essilor will pay the United States and 35 states a total of $22 million plus interest.
The settlement resolves allegations that between Jan. 1, 2011, and Dec. 31, 2016, Essilor knowingly and willfully offered or paid kick-backs to eye care providers to bribe providers into exclusively ordering and purchasing Essilor products for their patients, including Medicaid beneficiaries. The government alleges that the Essilor’s conduct violated the Federal False Claims Statute and South Dakota statutes, and resulted in the submission of false claims to the South Dakota Medicaid program.
The total settlement amount recovered by South Dakota is $56,009.03, of which $31,286.18 will be retained by the federal government for the federal Medicaid share. The remaining $24,722.85 will go to the state general fund to offset alleged Medicaid damages in this case.
This settlement came after two whistleblowers filed lawsuits in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. A team from the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units (“NAMFCU”) participated in the settlement negotiations on behalf of the states. The South Dakota Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and the South Dakota Department of Social Services assisted in recovering the settlement money.
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--Breeauna Sagdal- Health and Policy Journalist for The Dakota Leader
Bi-partisan effort calls on A.G Mark Vargo to recuse himself
As previously reported by The Dakota Leader, the Government Accountability Board has turned over the case of Gov. Kristi Noem's "nepotism" allegations to interim A.G Mark Vargo.
As of August 23, 2022, three state lawmakers, from across the political spectrum, are now calling on Vargo to recuse himself from the investigation into Noem. State Representative Jamie Smith (D-Sioux Falls), is joined by Speaker of The House Rep. Spencer Gosch (R-Mobridge), and Rep. Scott Odenbach (R-Spearfish) in calling upon the interim Attorney General who was appointed by Gov. Noem this June, following the impeachment of Jason Ravnsborg.
About two weeks ago, I asked Attorney General Mark Vargo's office if he intended to recuse himself from investigation into Governor Kristi Noem's potential misuse of the state airplane. https://t.co/nnesHssmHe
Rep. Smith, who is running for the Governor's office this November, told Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory, “I am asking that we have a special prosecutor assigned this,” Smith said. “As honorable as the appointed Attorney General is, this puts him in a bad spot, there is going to be an impropriety because he was appointed by the current governor who is being investigated.”
“I think in order to show the people of South Dakota that we take ethical violations and complaints seriously, then it is only appropriate that the Governor appointed Attorney General in Vargo steps aside, to allow for a third party investigator to look into the ethics violations by Governor Noem,” Gosch said.
“It is only appropriate for him (Vargo) to immediately recuse himself and appoint a special counsel so that there is a continued faith and trust in the process, that you are held accountable no matter who you are,” Odenbach said in a statement.
Vargo contends that no decisions have been made yet.
SPECIAL REPORT - Republics Defend The Minority, Yet in The Republican State of South Dakota, Multiple Non-partisan NGOs Fight For Election Reforms, Ahead of November.
September 07, 2022 By Breeauna Sagdal
The state of South Dakota has been embroiled in one of the longest-standing legal challenges to its election process. In 2002, the ACLU filed, "The Largest-Ever Voting Rights Lawsuit on Behalf of Native Americans in South Dakota." According to the ACLU, South Dakota state officials have ignored federal law meant to protect minorities from voting discrimination for nearly 50 years, as the Justice Department has approved more than 600 statutes and regulations that affect voting and elections in the state, without proper preclearance.
The ACLU has long since contended that South Dakota flouts elections laws. In August of this year, Federal Chief Judge Roberto A. Lange agreed, ordering the state, and specifically Lyman County to come up with a new redistricting plan that will provide for two County Commissioner seats by this November's 2022 election.
September 6, 2022, another lawsuit filed recently, was just settled yesterday. Filed by plaintiffs; Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Lakota People’s Law Project, and voters Kimberly Dillon and Hoksila White Mountain, was settled against Secretary of State Steve Barnett, Department of Social Services Cabinet Secretary Laurie Gill, Department of Labor and Regulations Cabinet Secretary Marcia Hultman, and Department of Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Craig Price.
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“This agreement requires South Dakota establish training and accountability mechanisms so voters, including Native voters, actually receive the legally required opportunities to register to vote,” said Oglala Sioux Tribe President Kevin Killer, regarding the case.
Secretary Of State Steve Barnett, however, is currently seeking employment in Minnesota, as the Benson City Manager. Barnett, who recently lost his party's nomination at the SDGOP Convention to Monae Johnson, now appears to be entertaining job opportunities out-of-state. Barnett will not leave his office until the new Secretary of State takes office after November's election. With a family to care for, some have expressed concerns that Barnett might be understandably, occupied with where he will land. Meanwhile, trainings and collaboration between agencies must occur before the next election to satisfy the state's agreement with the Rosebud and Ogala Tribes.
Conversely, state officials have claimed that South Dakota has "the gold standard" of elections. During the 2020 federal election, Donald Trump won the state of South Dakota by a significant margin, while still losing his bid for re-election. Following the election, however, another group of voters have been in hot-pursuit of election materials, in an effort to audit South Dakota's so-called "gold standard." Some media sources, outside of The Dakota Leader, have conflated SD Canvassing with Trump sycophants, still angry about the loss of the 2020 election. The logical fallacy of this stigma caught the attention of TDL, and we began to investigate after republican counties started to hire top attorneys, and fight back against full disclosure.
Jessica Pollema of SD Canvassing tells The Dakota Leader, "South Dakota is one of only four states in the entire nation, that do not conduct a post-election audit process." Post-election audits are vital to transparency as the integrity of any election safeguards minority thoughts, ideas, and candidates seeking to reform the status quo.
These samplings ensure that ballots match what the computer is registering as the voter's preferred selection. The ability to access these drives was a highlighted selling point, after the contested election of Al Gore vs George W. Bush in 2000, which resulted in a very long process of hand-counting ballots.
The group tells TDL, auditors across the state have been told these records do not exist, or have never received training on how to access them. Several have reported feeling frustrated that they are expected to certify the results of the election, when they themselves cannot verify each ballot actually matches what the computer software has registered as the vote.
Now it has come to light that this information came directly from the Secretary Of State's office, and Steve Barnett himself. An email dated August 24, 2022 from Kea Warne, who works for Steve Barnett, states "a CVR doesn't exist."
On Friday September 1, 2022, the South Dakota Freedom Caucus hosted a public meeting for County Auditors and the public to try and facilitate trainings, and get to the bottom of varied information.
During the meeting, Lyman County Auditor Deb Halverson confirmed that she had been notified by the Secretary Of State that the Cast Vote Record did not exist, and due to the determination by the Office of Hearing Examiners, third-party documents could not be shared.
"It has been our understanding that the ruling that came from the Office of Hearing Examiners, called the ES&S data proprietary information. Um Past that, I understand the Office Of hearing Examiners if not a court order, but it is close to it, and it is not my responsibility to violate any sort of ruling that has been made. Whether or not that is, that is not something that I can determine. But we have been told that, due to the Office of Hearing Examiners' determination, third party documents are not ours to share."
In a follow-up question related to being told auditors could not share third-party documents, Senator-Elect Tom Pischke (R-Dell Rapids) asked, "who has directed you to that conclusion?" Deb Halverson responded, "to the exact person who told us that information, we, the Secretary Of State has very clearly told us that a CVR does not exist in the counties that do not have an ERM."
As previously reported from last week; Lincoln, Minnehaha, and Pennington Counties are currently in litigation with SD Canvassing over public records requests made in order to obtain the CVR data. Those documents are legally allowed to be destroyed 22 months following the federal election. On August 31, 2022, Circuit Court Judge John Pekas ordered these three counties to preserve all election materials from the 2020 election, until the case for public records and access to records could be heard.
On the following day, September 1, 2022, Judge John Pekas then ordered all counties across the state to preserve their election materials.
However, in an unprecedented move, Judge Pekas vacated his own order within 24 hours "ex-parte," meaning without the presence of both legal sides. The order was issued as legislators met at the Capitol with the public and county auditors Friday afternoon.
The Dakota Leader was able to verify that Judge Pekas vacated the "all counties" order, but according to the attorney for SD Canvassing, the order for Lincoln, Minnehaha and Pennington Counties is still in effect.
Lincoln County Auditor, Sheri Lund, told Kelo News in a recent interview that she has no intention of destroying the data being requested. The Dakota Leader reached out to Lund to ask if she or her legal counsel were present as the Judge vacated his order. Lund replied that due to current litigation she is unable to answer questions at this time. Lund also notified TDL that the meeting County Auditors are hosting on the 8th, will in fact be open to the public.
The public records requests were made in an attempt to help provide expert training for auditors and agencies alike, according to SD Canvassing. With the potential destruction of that material in 63 counties, and the turn-over of the current Secretary Of State, Pollema tells The Dakota Leader, "the amount of time before November's 2022 election is dwindling, I worry for the Native American vote, down ballot candidates, and the over-all level of public trust for the democratic process, if the state can't get training and collaboration organized ahead of time. As we witnessed in 2016, and in 2020, concerns exist all the way around. It's time to address these concerns for everybody and ensure that the will of the people is being done."
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The Sioux Falls Planning Commission Will Discuss Amendments to Plan for Solar Energy Next Wednesday
On September 7, 2022, the Planning Commission will meet at the Carnegie Town Hall to discuss a number of planning related issues of the City of Sioux Falls. One of the agenda items popping-up, is an Amendment to the Shape Place Zoning Ordinance (2013), adopting language to initiate, establish, regulate, and to plan for Solar Farm developments in the future.
Solar farms are usually built on retired farmlands or warehouse roofs, essentially anywhere that plentiful amounts of unused open space can house them. Solar farms are also known as "solar parks" or "solar power stations," as they create massive amounts of energy, just like any other power plant.
As part of the new Shape Places 2040 Comprehensive Plan, the City of Sioux Falls is hoping to incentivize, and give developers the ability to develop these new-age energy concepts. Their stated goal is to use energy from the sun in order to "sustain, and provide renewable energy to the residents of the city," while helping to shape the city's future growth.
"For the global community, universal sustainable energy must be a top priority. We owe it to the 1.1 billion people still living without electricity and the 2.9 billion people still using polluting biomass fuels for cooking and heating. Energy is fundamental to ending poverty as it underpins economic growth and progress in all areas of development—from food security to clean water, education, jobs and health care."
As part of the City's Shape 2040 Comprehensive Plan, city staff are currently developing the following initiatives, and goals:
Overall Intent: Conserve and protect important environmental, human, and economic resources through sustainable practices;
Strategy: Protect the environment through the identification of resources, protection through land use ordinances and land purchases, and develop other sustainable implementation strategies;
Through environmental stewardship practices, the City of Sioux Falls has plans that take a more proactive approach to environmental stewardship, including the Greenway Plan, the Parks and Recreation System Plan, and the Sioux Falls Master Plan for Storm-water Best Management Practices (this approach is to address both water quality and flood control). In the future, the City might also look at other master plans to further the environmental stewardship objective, including a Sustainability Master Plan.
Sustainability Programs utilize local governing policies in an attempt to convince residents to conserve resources, and alter consumer behavior through the use of taxpayer funded subsidies and incentives. These environmental policies for sustainability and biodiversity have been a mainstay-policy, first developed by the United Nations in the early 90's. Through newer global initiatives and goals such as Agenda 2021, and now the new goalposts set forth in Agenda 2030.
The United Nations has set about altering public policies at the local-level, in order to create a “world (by 2030) free of poverty, hunger, disease and want … free of fear and violence … with equitable and universal access to quality education, health care and social protection … to safe drinking water and sanitation … where food is sufficient, safe, affordable and nutritious … where habits are safe, resilient and sustainable … and where there is universal access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy.” According to the U.N Agenda 2030's Human Securities, "this results in development that is more inclusive and sustainable."
Developers and Planners in Sioux Falls are now drafting amendments to the current city zoning, with the intent to create new regulations regarding the development of solar farms. Regulations for solar farm facilities would be subjected to reasonable conditions which will protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public, while also maintaining the aesthetic integrity of the community. These regulations would govern the placement, construction, and modification of solar farms, while helping to encourage the the use of alternative energy sources.
Solar Energy is considered any type of energy generated by the sun. Solar energy is created by a process known as "nuclear fusion," which takes place inside the sun. Fusion occurs when protons of hydrogen atoms violently collide in the sun's core, and then fuse to create a helium atom. According to the United Nations, "solar energy is the most abundant of all energy resources and can even be harnessed in cloudy weather. The rate at which solar energy is intercepted by the Earth is about 10,000 times greater-than, the rate at which humankind consumes energy."
Solar technologies convert sunlight into electrical energy, either through photovoltaic panels or through mirrors that concentrate solar radiation, and can reportedly deliver; heat, cooling, natural lighting, electricity, and fuels for a veritable host of applications.
While the authors of the Shape Sioux Falls 2040 Comprehensive Plan have stated, "The environment should not only be considered as a constraint, and as something to mitigate, but also as an opportunity to enhance and to improve the quality of life of the citizens, of which, the focus of the plan titled Shape Community, addresses objectives within that goal of improving the sustainability of the community itself." However, per the Sciencing news article, "Effects of Solar Power Farms on the Environment," in order to provide comparable amounts of electrical energy used today, solar farms would require large tracts of land.
Solar farms can also have devastating impacts upon entire ecosystems. The destruction of an individual species can send ripples throughout these ecosystems. Animals like burrowing owls in California’s Mojave Desert, rely on burrows dug by desert tortoises for shelter. As solar farms displace species within a habitat, they also remove the valuable ecosystem services that certain species provide to that habitat. Resulting in entire habitats becoming less livable for plants and wildlife who have adapted to specific conditions.
While the transition seems like a logical and profitable venture, especially as payments made by contractors are much greater than revenue which is received from farmland rentals. City planners must also consider that the transfer of land from agricultural use may result in additional tax liability, greater insurance requirements, personal injury/liability issues, potential future environmental mitigation, and even the inability to transfer lands into other uses such as the Farmland Preservation Programs.
In Craven County, North Carolina - "agricultural farm sales since 2007 (field crop and livestock production only) ranged from $40-$70 million annually, depending upon price of commodities and yield." According to an economic study by NCSU in 2008, "jobs and services supporting this industry added over $312 million to the local economy. However, the number of farmlands converted to other uses over the past 15 years have exceeded a twenty square mile area. This directly affects farmers and the local economy. Thus, any additional loss of farmland will adversely affect the agricultural economy." With food prices and the costs of inflation skyrocketing, some residents of Sioux Falls fear the risk of losing such vast tracts of farmland.
Other landowners are supportive of the plan to develop their lands into solar farms. As lands are transitioned from farmland to commercial property, it will also increase the amount of property-tax-dollars that counties can generate from the land use. Considering the total life expectancy of solar farms, which is anywhere from 15 to 20 years in length, the future income and tax revenues could ultimately add values to both the landowners, and the counties.
In particular, abandoned solar farms that have any type of wetland hydrology, would then be regulated by the EPA, the Corps of Engineers and the Coastal Area Management Act, leading to more involvement by the federal government. Chinese solar expert Tian Min, general manager of Nanjing Fangrun Materials, a recycling company in Jiangsu province that collects retired solar panels, has called his country’s solar power industry “a ticking time bomb.”
If Adopted by the residents of Sioux Falls, through the City Council, or by a petition drive, 'developers' will be able to apply for, and zone private lands with the intent to finance, provide for, and build out solar farms. Solar farms can provide renewable energy services to the many residents within a growing community, but how much energy, at what costs to the environment itself?
The Shape Sioux Falls 2040 Comprehensive Development Plan is seen, just as previous developmental plans, as citywide policies adopted by the people, to set aside specific plans, goals, and concepts for the upcoming decades. It will set a vision for how the people wish future generations to govern the city, and if adopted:
"The Shape Sioux Falls 2040 Comprehensive Development Plan marks a continuation of the progressive planning tradition in the Sioux Falls area."
The Planning Commission will meet next Wednesday September 7, 2022 at Carnegie Town Hall to discuss the plans further.
Located North of E. Arrowhead Parkway, East of Six Mile Road @ 7400 E. Grove Trail (New Development).
On the Agenda for the September 7th Sioux Falls Planning Commission, is a petition request made by Johnson Properties to establish a new Bar, Casino, Restaurant, Lounge, on the east side of the city.
Part of a proposed new development, the project would be built on the old Arndt's Auto Wrecking Site. The plan is to build a new building on 1.98 acres of land. However, this must first be approved by the City Council, based upon the Sensitive Land Use zoning, due to the proposed site being within 500ft of residential housing.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Project Name: "Alibi Bar, Restaurant, & Casino Type of Application: Conditional Use Permit Owner: Johnson Properties – Justin Johnson Applicant: Reynolds Construction Management – Paul Reynolds Request: CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT to allow an on-sale alcoholic beverage establishment within 500’ of a sensitive land use. Purpose: Allow on-sale alcoholic beverages for video lottery terminals."
CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT STANDARD: 160.616 – Conditional Use Standards - On-sale alcoholic beverage establishments
The on-sale alcohol establishment must have all parking spaces within the onsite parking lot in close proximity and facing the entrance;
Lighting may be considered to provide illumination for security and safety of parking access areas.
On-site lighting plans shall be submitted for review and approval;
Soundproofing may be considered to prevent noise and vibrations from penetrating into surrounding properties or lease space;
A security management plan shall be provided to the police department.
SENSITIVE LAND USES are land uses that need to be separated by a reasonable distance or incorporate buffer yards and landscaping to alleviate land use conflicts. Sensitive land uses are located not adjacent to, but within 500’ to the north of the proposed use. Uses will be buffer via drainage way.
Existing Corridor Development Pattern: E. Oak Grove Trail is classified as Residential;
Proximity to parks, open space or schools within a quarter mile: .10 miles from Willow Run Golf Course ;
Physical Characteristics: The site is undeveloped and gradually slopes to the north
LAND USE AND COMPREHENSIVE PLAN ANALYSIS:
The proposed bar and restaurant with video lottery terminals, supplemental to on-sale alcohol, meets the criteria and intent of the comprehensive plan. The site is located near a heavy commercial corridor with other commercial and industrial businesses. Specifically, along the south of Arrowhead Parkway but new development along the north will contain other C-4 zoned allowed uses. Required parking will be located on site. Buffer Yards are not required for the proposed use. A security management plan has been submitted and approved by the Police Department.