Janklow (Yes, That Janklow) Gets Speeding Ticket In Clay County

My friend Travis Gulbrandson at the Vermillion Plaintalk sent this over today to run in Saturday’s Press & Dakotan. Everyone I’ve mentioned this news item to responds in the same way: “What the f***??? How is he still able to drive??? What the f*** is wrong with him???”

I’m just reporting the facts here.

What do you think of this?


By Travis Gulbrandson


Former South Dakota governor and state representative William Janklow was cited on June 27 for speeding on a state highway, for which he was required to pay a fine of $59, plus court costs. The South Dakota Highway Patrol made the traffic stop.
The charge was filed with the First Judicial Circuit Court of Clay County. The case was disposed of July 25.
In August 2003, a vehicle driven by Janklow struck a motorcyclist near Flandreau. The man – Randy Scott – crashed into the side of Janklow’s car and was killed.
Prosecutors later alleged Janklow’s vehicle was traveling at least 70 mph in a 55 mph zone.
Janklow resigned his House seat in 2004 as a result of the incident, soon after he was convicted by a Moody County jury of second-degree manslaughter.

Corps Announces Major Release Drawdown To Begin In Mid-August

The Corps issued the following this morning:

Omaha, Neb. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announces its strategy for evacuating floodwaters from its six mainstem dams along the Missouri River today.

“This plan allows the Corps to evacuate flood water from the reservoir system in a responsible way to prepare for the 2012 runoff season, while reducing the risk of further damages and gets affected homeowners, farmers and businesses back on their properties to begin repair and recovery as quickly as possible,” said Brig. Gen. John McMahon, Northwestern Division commander.

The Corps will execute a gradual drawdown , in which releases out of Gavins Point Dam, the southernmost reservoir in the system, will decrease to 150,000 cubic feet per second on Aug. 1 and will remain at that rate until approximately Aug. 16 when they will be stepped down 5,000 cfs daily until reaching 90,000 cfs around Aug. 27. The Gavins Point Dam releases will stay at 90,000 cfs for approximately 2 weeks and then will drop 5,000 cfs every two days, until reaching 40,000 cfs, which is slightly above the typical fall release rate, on or about Sept. 30.

Releases from Garrison and Oahe dams are scheduled to reach 85,000 cfs on Aug. 17 and 24, respectively. This is the estimated release to get the water back within the river channel and to begin floodplain drainage along the river at Bismarck, N.D. and Pierre, S.D.

This plan provides the opportunity for the Corps to begin inspection and repair of levees and other critical infrastructure and ensures adequate storage for the 2012 runoff season.

For the corresponding detailed three week release forecast for the other mainstem dams, go to: http://www.nwd-mr.usace.army.mil/rcc/reports/twout.html.

“We meticulously reviewed each of eight drawdown options with technical experts and leadership within  the Northwestern Division, Omaha and Kansas City Districts,” said Jody Farhat, chief of Missouri River Basin Water Management Division. “This release schedule puts us in the best position to drawdown the water as quickly and as responsibly as possible, while allowing us time to inspect, assess and repair damages.”

In making the decision, the Corps considered criteria such as the potential impacts to homes, farms  and businesses within the floodplain, weather forecasts through 2012, acceptable release rate reductions from the dams, water levels on the temporary and downstream levees, getting the reservoirs out of the exclusive flood control zones, impacts to other critical infrastructure (tributary reservoirs, roads, facilities, etc.) and whether to increase the amount of flood control storage for the 2012 runoff season.

The current 2012 weather forecast predicts a 66.6 percent chance of normal or below normal precipitation, and a 33.3 percent chance of wetter than normal conditions.  However, fall 2011 is forecasted to be wetter than normal;  both of these predications contributed to the drawdown decision.  Further consideration was given to the low probability of the re-occurrence of this 2011 500-year event again in 2012.

Holding releases from Gavins Point steady at 150,000 cfs starting through mid-August will enable Fort Peck, Garrison and Oahe Dams to move out of exclusive flood control storage around Aug. 6 while Fort Randall will reach this zone around Aug. 12. This will provide operational flexibility for the Corps to respond if significant rainfall events occur.

The Gavins Point two-week release pause at 90,000 cfs will allow for preliminary inspection and assessment of infrastructure and levees before the final drawdown. Eventually, this steady drawdown from the reservoirs, and respective floodplains, will bring water levels low enough for contractors (weather and funding permitting) to begin repairs as early as Dec. 1.

“It’s important that we drawdown these releases with full consideration of the many risks that remain,” said Brig. Gen. McMahon. “A rapid drawdown with high flows could cause extensive bank erosion and slumping in the levees, while too slow of a drawdown could leave high water on temporary and permanent levees, dams and other critical infrastructure, further increasing risks for overtoppings and breaches.”  We assess these risks to be unacceptable in the context of the weather forecast a nd the low probability of re-occurrence.

“The goal is to evacuate these historic and unprecedented floodwaters responsibly and bring the entire system back to its full annual flood control capacity of 16.3 million acre feet  by March 1, which is generally the start of the spring 2012 runoff season,” said Farhat.  This will put the flood control pool to a system storage level of 56.8 million acre feet.  Prior to the Flood of 2011, and since 1881, this amount has been adequate to capture spring runoff and manage water flow through the system.

“We have already seen water inflows to the system decline and empty system flood control space increase in the past three weeks” said Brig. Gen. McMahon. “We are confident that this plan will best prepare us for the 2012 runoff season.”

All dates provided above are best approximations, based on current forecast conditions and the best available information at the time. Adjustments to the release schedule may be necessary if conditions change.  View daily and forecasted reservoir and river information on the Water Management section of the Northwestern Division homepage at: http://www.nwd-mr.usace.army.mil/rcc .

Bring Out Your Dead! (90s Style)

MTV2 has announced that “120 Minutes” is back.

Couple that with the return of “Beavis and Butthead,” and there’s a small 90s revival going on at MTV.

What is “120 Minutes?” It was THE music video show of the 1990s for those interested in the “alternative” music scene. For myself, it was must-see TV every week. It’s where you saw performances by The Cure, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins and any number of other bands that shaped my musical tastes in high school and college. I would always record it in case I needed to put a cool new video in heavy rotation. (Remember, this was before YouTube!)

Matt Pinfield (who is returning as the host) is a soft-spoken music encyclopedia. He was always my favorite of the hosts they had during the show’s run.

I’m looking forward to the debut of it’s new reincarnation at midnight Saturday.

Learn more here.

Here is a clip of Matt interviewing Blur in 1997 (the year I graduated from high school …)

… And here is Radiohead performing “Just” on “120 Minutes” in 1995:

Gov. Dennis Daugaard Fires Away In Yankton

Gov. Dennis Daugaard was in Yankton Wednesday to celebrate the expansion of the NFAA/Easton/Yankton Archery Complex. He took up a bow and arrow in the process after NFAA president Bruce Cull asked him to have a shoot off with Greg Easton (who is on the right in the photos below).

Neither of them managed to hit the targets, but they weren’t alone. Out of about 10 seasoned archers who each got 10 shots, only one managed to get a hit.

Here’s a story I wrote about the big expansion, which, according to officials on hand, will feature the first dedicated 70-meter indoor archery range in the world.


As part of an expansion announcement Wednesday evening that was heralded by
 Gov. Dennis Daugaard, it was revealed that the NFAA/Easton/Yankton Archery
 Complex will get a $1.5 million addition that will include the world's first
 dedicated 70-meter indoor archery range.
 National Field Archery Association (NFAA) president Bruce Cull broke the
 news during a muggy late July barbecue held to mark the opening the USAA
 National Target Championship, one of a handful of major archery competitions
 happening at the complex this week. The tournaments have attracted more than
 800 archers from all 50 states, as well as other countries.
 The existing NFAA/Easton/Yankton Archery Complex, which serves as the NFAA's
 headquarters and has archery training space, is 21,600 square feet. The
 addition will be 29,500 square feet, more than doubling the size of the
 facility. Besides the indoor range, the expansion will include a warehouse
 to store equipment and office space.
 "We started thinking about this when we built the original building," Cull
 said. "It's one of those things that I've had in the back of my mind but
 have never had the ability to put together. The whole idea behind the
 addition, really, is to be able to have athlete training year round and big
 indoor tournaments. Because of our weather here, we can't be out on the
 field in the winter."
 Daugaard noted that this was his third visit to mark important developments
 at the archery complex in recent years. The last time was when it was
 announced that an effort is under way to get the facility designated as a
 Community Olympic Development Program. The United States Olympic Committee
 has partnered with sport groups across the nation to create programs that
 provide training in fencing, weightlifting, judo and a variety of other
 activities. Only one other archery program exists.
 Cull said he believes the designation could be announced for Yankton in the
 next three to six months.
 "I can't think of what is going to make that more likely than this addition
 that is going to more than double the size of this facility and provide the
 first indoor 70-meter range in the world," Daugaard said.
 On behalf of all South Dakotans, the governor also took the opportunity to
 welcome the many archers on hand for the event.
 "We hope you have a great time with great success," Daugaard said. "I'm also
 grateful that this is the home of the NFAA. They have an excellent campus
 here ... and one of the best Olympic field archery fields in the United
 States. I am also grateful for all the partners that came together to make
 that possible — the City of Yankton, Yankton County, Yankton Area
 Progressive Growth, the Archery Trade Association and the fantastic support
 of the Easton Foundation."
 The Easton foundations will be providing up to $1 million toward the
 expansion project, according to Greg Easton, who serves on the board of the
 two organizations.
 The goal of Easton is to help provide training opportunities around the
 nation in the hopes of producing an Olympic gold medalist in archery. Easton
 has provided support for the Yankton archery complex from its infancy
 "It's really the partnership between the Easton foundations, the NFAA and
 Bruce Cull (that has gotten us involved in Yankton)," Easton said. "Yankton
 is not a big population base, as are some of the places where we are
 building centers, so it's maybe not ideal from that aspect. But with the
 partnership Bruce has been able to develop with the City of Yankton, the
 Yankton Office of Economic Development, Yankton County and the state ‹ that
 support is important to us. These centers are a lot to build and a lot to
 operate. To have those partners to keep it operating is really important to
 us in the long term."
 Yankton Area Progressive Growth and XYZ, Inc., have also been partners in
 the ongoing development of the complex.
 During the ceremony, Daugaard took the opportunity to gently rib Easton for
 not attending the Governor¹s Pheasant Hunt, despite past invitations from
 himself and former Gov. Mike Rounds. The governor read a fake extradition
 request asking Utah¹s governor to give up Easton so he can attend this
 year's hunt.
 When the two men were asked to participate in an archery shoot-off against
 each other, the crowd was left with the impression that they probably should
 stick to using guns for the upcoming hunt. Neither Daugaard nor Easton were
 able to hit a target lofted up into the air by a machine.
 But they weren't alone. Out of 20 attempts by seasoned archers at the event,
 only one was able to hit a target.
 Cull said the current plan is to have the 29,500-square-foot addition
 enclosed by this winter.
 "I think it will significantly change the number of people coming to use the
 facility, especially during the off months when the weather is bad," he

Raising S.D. Sales Tax Creates Unfair Burden

In yesterday’s Press & Dakotan, I wrote an editorial stating why I think a proposal to raise South Dakota’s sales tax by 1 percent is a bad idea. If that sentence alone doesn’t bore you, please read on. 🙂


Last week, a group of advocates for health care providers and public schools announced that they will attempt to get an initiated measure on the ballot that would permanently raise South Dakota’s sales tax by 1 percent.
According to The Associated Press, the proposed language for the measure will be submitted to the Legislative Research Council for review this week.
If such a measure were approved by voters in 2012, the sales tax increase from 4 to 5 percent would raise state revenues by approximately $175 million annually, according to its proponents.
While there was no word on how the advocates would like to see this new revenue distributed, it is fair to assume they would like to see it go toward education and healthcare. In the 2011 Legislature, education was cut by 6.6 percent, while Medicare providers saw decreases of 4.5 percent to 11.5 percent.
We, too, would like to see funding restored to these essential areas, but we question the wisdom of using the sales tax mechanism to raise revenue. The problem is, it is a regressive tax that would unfairly burden the state’s poorest citizens.
We believe a fair tax system is one in which the cost of government services is based on the ability to pay. As a society, we think it is prudent to work together to raise the tide for everyone. Part of that equation is the understanding that those to whom much is given, much is expected.
South Dakota’s tax system is currently structured so that is not even close to the reality. In fact, South Dakota turns that expectation on its head.
According to a 2009 study by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), the poorest 20 percent of non-elderly taxpayers in the state contributed 11 percent of their income to the state’s sales, excise and property taxes in 2007. The top 1 percent of that same category of taxpayers — those making $423,000 or more — contributed 1.9 percent.
It seems that, in South Dakota, those to whom much is given, little is expected. It is not a fair tax system.
Approving a 1 percent increase to the state’s sales tax would only increase this immoral imbalance. It would hit those with the least ability to pay the hardest.
ITEP sums up our beliefs in a report entitled, “Tax Fairness Fundamentals”: “Because sales taxes are levied at a flat rate, and because low-income families spend more of their income on items subject to the sales tax than do wealthier taxpayers, sales taxes inevitably take a larger share of income from low- and middle-income families than they take from the wealthy. Excise taxes on cigarettes, gasoline and alcohol are also quite regressive, and property taxes are generally somewhat regressive.”
What are the fairest taxes, according to ITEP — taxes which can be scaled based upon ability to pay? Personal income taxes.
South Dakota is one of a minority of states without a broad-based personal income tax.
Even in these economically difficult times, when South Dakota needs revenue to support essential services, that’s not a tax solution you hear in serious conversations by Republicans, Democrats or independents in the state.
But for discussion purposes, we’d like to provide some food for thought. According to United for a Fair Economy, if you restructured and inverted South Dakota’s tax system so that the wealthiest 20 percent — those making more than $84,000 — paid 11 percent of their income in taxes as the poorest 20 percent currently do, and those poorest citizens, who make less than $18,000, paid 3.9 percent of their income as the wealthiest 20 percent currently do, you would solve the state’s current budget problem. In fact, it would nearly double South Dakota’s annual revenue.
That sounds like a solution. A fair solution.
Unfortunately, a 1 percent sales tax increase does not.


Area Post Offices On Possible Closure List

Here is some breaking news from the U.S. Postal Service. See the complete lists of sites being reviewed in Nebraska and South Dakota.

My breaking news story is below.
Several area post offices will be studied for possible closure, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) announced Tuesday.
They are part of a list of 3,700 retail locations across the country that the USPS is reviewing for possible closure.
In this area, post offices in Davis, Dimock, Lesterville, Mission Hill, Olivet, Utica and Volin are on the list. Also up for review are post offices in Magnet, Neb.; Royal, Neb.; and St. Helena, Neb.
The list represents about one tenth of the USPS’s nearly 32,000 retail offices across the country.
“Today, more than 35 percent of the Postal Service’s retail revenue comes from expanded access locations such as grocery stores, drug stores, office supply stores, retail chains, self-service kiosks, ATMs and usps.com, open 24/7,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in a media release. “Our customer’s habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business.”
According to the USPS, communities currently without a postal retail office and for communities affected by these retail optimization efforts, the Postal Service has introduced the Village Post Office as a potential replacement option. Village Post Offices would be operated by local businesses, such as pharmacies, grocery stores and other appropriate retailers, and would offer popular postal products and services such as stamps and flat-rate packaging.

City Commission Candidate Deaths — A Strange Coincidence

If you’re an observer of Yankton politics, two recent — and untimely — deaths within two weeks of each other may have raised a red flag with you.

On July 12, Jeffrey D. Swedeen, 41, Yankton, died at his residence after a massive heart attack.

On July 22, Patrick Michael Bohlmann, 43, Yankton, was killed after being thrown from the 1993 Ford Explorer he was driving about five miles north of Irene.

How did they those two men tie into city politics? Both ran for the City Commission in April, along with Lola Harens, Jake Hoffner, Craig Sommer and Nancy Wenande. Hoffner, Sommer and Wenande won the three open seats.

My sympathies go out to the families of Bohlmann and Swedeen. I didn’t know either of them well, but they were always nice to me when I spoke with them and seemed like they had a genuine interest in the future of Yankton.

Because I knew each of them only in the sense that they had both run for the City Commission, it struck me as a bit of a strange coincidence today when I put the dots together.

Life is full of those, isn’t it?

Wealth Accumulation A Game Of Chance

First of all, sorry for the light blogging this week. A new business venture and deadlines at my day job (as well as good friends) have kept me from writing the things I had hoped to. If you’re someone who faithfully checks on this page, I appreciate it and apologize for the lack of stimulation you’ve found here recently.

I did come across this fascinating study yesterday and wanted to share it, as it plays into the wealth inequality discussion we’ve been having on this blog. Chance does not favor a level playing field in an investment-based society. Instead, it favors the concentration of wealth.

So without checks and balances, you essentially end up with a monarchical system where the selected few control most of the wealth. Is that our ideal?

The following press release came from the University of Minnesota:

Most of our society’s wealth is invested in businesses or other ventures that may or may not pan out. Thus, chance plays a role in where the wealth of a society will end up.

But does chance favor the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, or does it tend to level the playing field? Three University of Minnesota researchers have built a simplified model that isolates the effects of chance and found that it consistently pushes wealth into the hands of a few, ever-richer people.

The study, “Entrepreneurs, chance, and the deterministic concentration of wealth,” is published in the July 20 issue of the journal PLoS ONE.

The researchers simulated the performance of a large number of investors who started out with equal amounts of capital and who realized returns annually over a number of years. But wealth did not remain equal, because each year an entrepreneur’s return was a random draw taken from a pool of possible return rates. Thus, a high return did not guarantee continuing high returns, nor did early low returns mean continuing bad luck.

Even though all investors had an equal chance of success, the simulations consistently resulted in dramatic concentration of wealth over time. The reason: With compounding capital returns, some individuals will have a string of high returns and, given enough time, will accumulate an overwhelming share of the wealth.

This appears to be a fundamental feature of economies where wealth is primarily generated from returns on investment (for example, through business ownership and growth), the researchers said.

“Predictions from this model about how wealth is distributed were more accurate than predictions from classic economic models,” said first author Joseph Fargione, an adjunct professor of ecology, evolution and behavior in the university’s College of Biological Sciences.

The model predicts that the rate at which wealth concentrates depends on the variation among individual return rates. For example, when variation is high, it would take only 100 years for the top 1 percent to increase their share of total wealth from 40 percent—a recent level in the United States—to 90 percent.

Healthy economies support diverse entrepreneurial efforts, leading to high economic growth. But concentration of wealth reduces diversity, and with it the most likely growth rate for a country’s economy, according to the researchers.

“The implication is that nations with diverse economies should tend to outcompete on the world stage those with large concentrations of wealth, such as monarchies, or established democracies that have allowed their wealth to concentrate,” said author Clarence Lehman, associate dean for research in the College of Biological Sciences.

But while the rate of wealth concentration was increased by high variation among individual investors’ returns, it bore no relation to the average economic growth.

“This leads to the surprising finding that wealth will concentrate due to chance alone in growing, stagnant or shrinking economies,” said author Steve Polasky, professor of applied economics in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.

The simulation results showed wealth concentrating regardless of economic cycles of growth and recession and regardless of whether wealth is split between two offspring every generation. As wealth concentrates with a few individuals, the growth of the economy will depend more and more on the returns of those few, making the economy less resilient to disruptions in their investments, the researchers said.

“The irony is that the economic diversity that helps ensure the presence of some successful enterprises and spurs economic growth could be lost if the success of these enterprises undermines economic diversity,” said Fargione. “To retain the benefits of a diverse capitalist economy, we need economic policies that counter what seems to be the innate tendency for economies to concentrate wealth and become less diverse.”

The simulations showed that a tax (or other mandatory donation to the public good) on the largest inherited fortunes would short-circuit the over-concentration of wealth. But the researchers stress that their point is to advocate not a particular policy, but a policy that accomplishes the goal of protecting long-term economic stability.

Lady Gaga Sighting In Nebraska

I’m not a big Lady Gaga fan, but I do appreciate her art. I find her music videos interesting, and I also like that she’s become so popular while promoting LBGT rights. I think she really deserves some credit for the work she has done in that area.

I also like the fact that she keeps coming back to Nebraska, where — even in Omaha — she would seem like a fish out of water (and may even be dressed like one given her propensity for strange costumes). I don’t know if she is still dating a guy from Nebraska (the tabloids have reported they are no longer together, but there are conflicting reports, apparently), or whether she’s just developed a soft spot for my native Cornhusker state, but she is apparently in the Omaha area shooting a new video of some sort.

The Omaha World-Herald has the story:

It hasn’t been a long time since she came around. But Lady Gaga is back in town.
According to people with knowledge of the project, the singing superstar arrived on a private jet at Eppley Airfield on Tuesday night and spent part of Wednesday filming something in Sarpy County, possibly a music video. Roads surrounding the filming site at 108th Street and Capehart Road, in Richfield, Neb., were closed and onlookers were kept out of the area.
Angela Lewis, a teacher at Springfield Elementary School, saw road closure signs go up Tuesday near her home and thought crews may be preparing to pave the gravel road.
But to her dismay, she got Lady Gaga instead.
“She’s kind of weird,” Lewis said.
Sarpy County Sheriff’s Capt. Dan Williamson confirmed that the Gaga crew had gotten permits to close several roads around the perimeter of the set.

Read the rest of the story here.

Flood Money

What does a county bill look like after a flooding disaster? Well, the Yankton County Commission paid the bills above (excuse my scribbles) totaling $104,000 today. More are still on the way, and the county auditor expects the price tag to reach about $170,000.

Costs included sand, machine rentals and — as you can tell from a majority of the expenditures — food for volunteers. You can’t fill sandbags on an empty stomach, after all.