Category Archives: Uncategorized

Non-meandered waters legislative committee meeting will be on Fri June 2

Lake

Earlier this week I noted the fourth meeting of the Regulation of Access to and Use of Non-Meandered Waters on Public and Private Property Study legislative committee would likely be on June 2. It can now be confirmed the meeting will be on June 2 as the agenda has been posted on the LRC website.  Here is the full agenda:

  • 9:00 AM
    • Call to order
    • Determination of Quorum
    • Approval of Minutes – May 24, 2017
    • Comments from the Chair
  • 9:10 AM
    • Proposed Legislation
  • 10:00 AM
    • Public Testimony on Proposed Legislation
  • 11:15 AM
    • Committee Discussion and Final Action
  • 1:00 PM
    • Adjourn

There isn’t any updated proposed legislation on the LRC website yet. If there will be proposed legislation ahead of time it will be posted here on the LRC website. My look at the current draft of the proposed legislation can be viewed here. I plan to attend the meeting and possibly live-tweet during the proceedings. The audio from this meeting can be listened to on the LRC interim meetings website or on SD.net.

Non-meandered summer study will reconvene June 2 and possible special session on June 12

Non-meandered lakes will be THE topic to keep an eye on!

Today the Regulation of Access to and Use of Non-Meandered Waters on Public and Private Property Study legislative committee met in Pierre. I will be blogging about portions of the meeting later. But for now I thought I would note the committee has decided to wait at least another week to allow legislation to be written that can actually pass both houses with a 2/3 majority. The current draft legislation is unlikely to do so.

The committee will reconvene on Friday, June 2nd. The special session likely to follow that committee meeting will probably begin on June 12. This timeline will give committee members another week to work on legislation and then a full ten days after committee action for the rest of the legislature to get caught up on the issue.

This is an issue I will continue to blog about…

Video: Non-meandered water informational meeting in Watertown featuring GFP

Last night I attended an informational meeting at the Watertown Event Center  hosted by Dakota Sportsman Inc. and the South Dakota Wildlife Federation. The purpose of this meeting was to provide information to the public about the impact of the recent SD Supreme Court ruling regarding non-meandered waters. I attended and recorded the meeting for all to view. The two main speakers for the event were from GPF; which is good because a LOT of people want to hear from them as to why public access was cut off by them to over twenty lakes.

This meeting was hosted by two sportsmen groups, but speakers did mention landowner rights have to be balanced. I hope in the future to attend and record a similar event from a landowners group.

Here is the list of speakers and/or people who helped answer questions:

Below is the video of this event. It is just over an hour and quarter long. The video can alternatively be viewed directly on YouTube.

Tomorrow I should have the video uploaded for Day 2 of public testimony before the SD legislative interim committee on  the Regulation of Non-Meandered Waters. The testimony from Day 1 can be viewed here.

Test post of new SoDakLiberty

This is just a test to ensure the upgrades I’ve been making to SoDakLiberty.com over the last week didn’t break my ability to actually blog. Actually, long story short, the upgrades did break my ability to blog for the last five days, but I think those problems are fixed now!

To the visitor there should be no noticeable difference from the old site. But, with these new upgrades in place I should now be able to implement some cool multimedia events in the future! Expect there to be more pictures and videos relating to South Dakota politics forthcoming!

Blogging to resume and other quick notes

After a few months off blogging will resume on SoDakLiberty.com. I appreciate all the messages I received asking if everything was OK. This break from blogging had to do with working massive hours at the office and trying to complete some sections for a book. Now that tax season is basically done I will have time for some blogging once again.

On that note…

Earlier this week I attended the Americans First, Task Force meeting featuring Clare Lopez speaking about refugees. Before the meeting I was able to take some pictures of the protesters of this event and record a video with the young man who organized the event. I will have that post up later today. Additionally I was able to record the event with Clare Lopez. I will share that as well later today so the community of Aberdeen can hear what she has to say.

Going forward I am likely to do only a post or two a week on SoDakLiberty. There simply isn’t enough time to keep up with the amount of posting I used to do. 2018 already has a couple of races lining up that might be interesting. Additionally some of the possible ballot questions deserve a lot of blog space.

One final note. I am currently running for school board in Aberdeen. If you live in the Aberdeen school district I would appreciate your vote in June. As the campaign moves along I will post more information about that on my campaign Facebook page.

PS. It feels odd, yet satisfying, to be blogging again!

Blogging will be light on SoDakLiberty for a while, no coverage of all bills in the 2017 legislative session

Business itemsFor the last couple of years I have been trying to provide coverage of every legislative committee meeting, every legislative bill, plus anything else I think the voters of SD should know about. I am very happy with the way my blogging has been received while covering the South Dakota legislature. Now, I must put this blog on the back-burner as a new writing opportunity has arisen which will keep me quite busy for the next year. Between this new project and my other two businesses I simply won’t have time devote to the legislature.

SoDakLiberty will continue, and I will do the occasional post for political matters I find interesting. This most likely won’t happen more than once or twice per week. I also plan to record various public events and posting them for people to see. My biggest objective on this blog has always to get more information out to people; and I believe recording certain events and sharing them on this blog is a great medium for doing so. If anyone in the Aberdeen area has a politically related event they want recorded and shared online let me know. It doesn’t even matter if I agree with you politically, I will share the event so people can discuss issues and know what others in the community believe.

Believe it or not I will very much miss covering every aspect of the legislative session. I do plan on once again covering the SD legislature, but that won’t happen for the 2017 session and likely won’t happen for the 2018 session either. I want to thank the readers of this blog for their support and look forward to continuing to blog about South Dakota politics, even if it is greatly reduced from what it was.

Over 100,000 absentee ballots requested in SD so far

Earlier today the SD Secretary of State Office sent out a press release stating 103,425 absentee ballots have been requested as of November 7 (today). That would not include the many people who will continue to do their early voting up until 5 pm this evening. It should also be noted this is in regards to the number of absentee ballots requested, and the actuall number of ballots cast will be somewhat smaller than that number.

The absentee ballots cast this year may end up blowing away the three previous presidential elections. Here is the numbers sent by the SOS office for absentee ballots cast in three previous presidential elections:

  • 2012: 91,145
  • 2008: 100,780 (All-Time high for Absentee Ballots Cast)
  • 2004: 94,643

Until the actual ballots are counted it is hard with any certainty to state 2016 will beat the absentee ballots cast record set in 2008; but at this point it appears as if that may happen. It will be interesting to see if this increase in early voting has any impact on number of people actually voting on November 8.

Pictures of law enforcement and fire damage in the hills around Sacred Stone Camp

Throughout the week I’ve been posting pictures and videos related to the Standing Rock standoff with Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in North Dakota. Now I’m up to the last of my pictures to post. This time I am going to post some pictures of the hills around the Sacred Stone Camp. First there are some pictures of law enforcement vehicles deployed in the hills around the camp. Then I’ll have a few pictures of charred hills from the Saturday night grass fire on the hills west of the camp. Pictures can be clicked on to make them bigger.

These first pictures are of various hills around the Sacred Stone Camp with law enforcement deployed on them. I have received a lot of questions from people asking just how much of a presence there is from law enforcement. Well, I think these pictures at least give part of the answer.

Hill near Sacred Stone Camp with law enforcement deployed. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Hill near Sacred Stone Camp with law enforcement deployed. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Hill near Sacred Stone Camp with law enforcement deployed. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Hill near Sacred Stone Camp with law enforcement deployed. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Hill near Sacred Stone Camp with law enforcement deployed. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Hill near Sacred Stone Camp with law enforcement deployed. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.

And of course this picture looking north on the state highway shows just how many law enforcement vehicles are out there; including the vehicles which can be seen on the hill above.

Hill near Sacred Stone Camp with law enforcement deployed. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Hill near Sacred Stone Camp with law enforcement deployed. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.

Some of the water protectors I spoke with mentioned this particular hill is considered sacred ground. It really upsets some of the protesters to see law enforcement on top of the hill.

Hill near Sacred Stone Camp with law enforcement deployed. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Hill near Sacred Stone Camp with law enforcement deployed. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.

The picture below is just north of the picture from above. The large nest seen in the tree on the right is apparently an eagle nest. That’s not something you get to see every day.

Hill near Sacred Stone Camp with law enforcement deployed. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Hill near Sacred Stone Camp with law enforcement deployed. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.

These last few pictures are of the hills west of the camp. The night before I took these pictures there was a grass fire in these hills. This is directly on the other side of the state highway from the Sacred Stone Camp. I have yet to hear any confirmed report of how the fire started. Luckily for the inhabitants of the camp the wind was blowing in a direction that prevented the fire from going towards the camp. As I was approaching the camp Sunday morning I saw two helicopters in the area with large buckets. I am not sure if they were firefighters; they had left just as I was arriving.

Fire charred hill west of Sacred Stone Camp with law enforcement deployed. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Fire charred hill west of Sacred Stone Camp with law enforcement deployed. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Fire charred hill west of Sacred Stone Camp. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Fire charred hill west of Sacred Stone Camp. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Fire charred hill west of Sacred Stone Camp. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Fire charred hill west of Sacred Stone Camp. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Fire charred hill west of Sacred Stone Camp. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Fire charred hill west of Sacred Stone Camp. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.

The good side of the Standing Rock protests: Prayer Circles

This week I’ve been sharing pictures taken near the Sacred Stone Camp near Cannon Ball, ND. Just after taking pictures of the bridge north of the camp I witnessed a prayer circle.  This prayer circle was held on the state highway between the camp and the bridge. Here are a few pictures of that prayer circle, along with some takeaways I kept in mind. The next post in this series will look at the bad side of the Standing Rock protests: the people on both sides who want violence.

This first picture shows the beginning of the prayer circle. It started with a small group, but grew as time went on.

Prayer Circle North of Sacred Stone Camp. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Prayer Circle North of Sacred Stone Camp. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.

The prayer circle progressed with various members of the circle giving their prayers for the water protectors. Some shared stories of what they have experienced and/or hoped would happen in the future.

Prayer Circle North of Sacred Stone Camp. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Prayer Circle North of Sacred Stone Camp. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.

As shown below, the prayer circle kept expanding as more people came to participate. One of the participants was an elder woman who happened to have been arrested last week. She shared her story of being arrested and made to lay on the cold ground for a long time. Also she shared how she was being kept away from her diabetic medicine for a long time. I would think people on both sides of this standoff could agree an elderly lady should have been allowed access to her medicine much sooner.

Prayer Circle North of Sacred Stone Camp. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Prayer Circle North of Sacred Stone Camp. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.

There was a lot of focus on being a water protector in this prayer circle. I spoke with someone after the circle who confirmed tribal leadership is trying hard to keep people at the camps focused on being water protectors and keeping activities peaceful. Prayer circles in particular allow many of the protesters to remain calm while also reinforcing their resolve to stop DAPL.

I will admit to being pretty agnostic on the whole Standing Rock standoff. On the one hand I am very sympathetic with the water protectors and what they are trying to stop; but on the other hand too many of the claims made by protesters have been proven either false or highly exaggerated. But I think if the water protectors can focus on peaceful protest methods, such as prayer circles, they can continue to gain support without risking the public backlash that could come from inciting more confrontational protest methods.

Prayer Circle North of Sacred Stone Camp. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.
Prayer Circle North of Sacred Stone Camp. Photo by Ken Santema 10/30/16.

The prayer ended with what I believe was called the Women’s Warrior Song. Below is the video footage of this song being sung by the ladies organizing the prayer. The video is just over a minute long. It was very windy when I shot this video, as you will hear in the video.

Legislative Executive Board approved $145,960 for LEAN implementation in BIT

Earlier this year I noted the SD Legislative Executive Board wanted to implement a LEAN audit of the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications (BIT). The Executive Board then asked the Appropriations Committee for permission to spend money on this venture. Appropriations authorized up to $200,000 to be used from the Legislative Priority Pilot Program Fund back in July. Now I’ve finally had time to review the September 29 Executive Board minutes and notice a vendor has been chosen for this LEAN implementation.

There were four proposals submitted to the LRC in reply to RFP for this project. The scoring matrix below shows the names of these four companies. This scoring matrix comes out a document updating the Executive Board on the BIT LEAN process update.

Scoring Matrix for BIT LEAN implementation RFPs
Scoring Matrix for BIT LEAN implementation RFPs

Re-Engine Consulting out of Austin, TX, was clearly the winning proposal. The Executive Board approved for the LRC to use $145,960 from the Legislative Priority Pilot Program Contingency Fund “for the purpose of contracting for LEAN training and implementation in the bureau of telecommunications”. This will be important to keep an eye on, because any success gained here will likely be replicated in other state departments.

I still think the Executive Board should have looked at what the Board of Internal Control (BIC) is doing and decided if this LEAN project should have been coordinated with BIC. Yes I realize the new BIC has a different focus, but its scope is so large it actually encompasses programs such as LEAN.  Either way perhaps BIT moving ahead with LEAN will alleviate many of the problems legislators have had with the technology department in Pierre (and I’ve heard of many problems in conversations with legislators).