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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Read the Latest South Dakota News at DakotaFreePress.com!

Hello, South Dakota friends and neighbors! You've found the original Madville Times, a blog dedicated to providing South Dakota with some real liberal media. I posted here on Blogger from August 2005 through December 2010. I blogged at MadvilleTimes.com from January 2011 through February 2015.

On March 4, 2015, I moved blog operations to DakotaFreePress.com, where you can find the best blogging on South Dakota politics.

I maintain this site as an archive of my first five-plus years of blogging, a personal history file on South Dakota, and a backup blog in case of server disasters on my own domain. Come on over, read, comment, and learn what's really happening in South Dakota at DakotaFreePress.com.

—Cory Allen Heidelberger
Aberdeen, South Dakota

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mayor Boke Fighting Booth Hatchery Closure; Noem Strangely Noncommital

Spearfish Mayor Dana Boke understands that we need to save the D.C Booth Fish Hatchery:
“This is part of our culture,” Boke said. “My 10-year-old daughter read about it in the paper, and it brought her to tears. That’s how all the kids feel. There are memories all across South Dakota and beyond of this place and the family memories it’s created over time. It’s tied to who we are.

“We need to champion the cause and assist in any way we can to get this thing turned around,” the mayor added [Tom Griffith, "Spearfish's D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery Helped Change South Dakota History," Rapid City Journal, 2013.08.25].
Senator Tim Johnson seems to get it, too:
“I am very disturbed about the rumors that the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery in Spearfish might be closed by the Fish & Wildlife Service,” Johnson said. “The D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery is a tremendous asset of the Black Hills. I have fought hard for funding to invest in the restoration of the hatchery and to make it an informational and educational showcase of fish hatchery operations in the Black Hills and the U.S.” [Griffith, 2013.08.25]
I think Congresswoman Kristi Noem gets it, although as usual, Noem's aloof, self-absorbed talking-point detachment makes it hard to tell. Rep. Noem told a packed Spearfish town hall Friday that she'll "push to get more information and ask the right questions." But after hearing such vociferous feedback from so many Spearfish residents and even visiting the hatchery herself Friday, our Congresswoman's only social media reaction to the town hall is to thank "interested parties" for the "info" and to post photos of herself while cheering the great turnout at "my townhall".

Kristi, get with the program. You go to a town hall during working hours in Spearfish. Concerned citizens pack the hall to express concern about an obviously bad decision from Washington that will kill jobs and hurt tourism and tax revenue. The mayor's daughter is in tears! Politically, the D.C. Booth Hatchery issue is a no-brainer. You tell those eager constituents on the spot, "The Hatchery rocks. It stays open. I'll call the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and read them the riot act." You use your social media presence to send the message immediately that you listened and you're doggedly on the case. "Thx for the info" doesn't rally the troops or make a memorable impression on voters who want to know you'll fight for them and for the Hatchery.

I understand Rep. Noem may have difficulty getting passionate about an issue that doesn't appear in the weekly briefing points from Speaker Boehner. But South Dakota's lone Representative needs to get off script and join Mayor Boke in representing her constituents and fighting to save the D.C. Booth Hatchery from the thoughtless Washington budget axe.

Jury Selection in Willard Robocall Trial Favors Russ Olson's Wentworth Neighbors

A group of randomly selected Lake County citizens will troop to the courthouse tomorrow to see if they win a seat on the jury for Daniel Willard's robocall trial, which will treat them to lengthy discourses on South Dakota campaign finance law, the First Amendment, and the conflicts therebetween.

Oh, wait, did I say randomly?

As I understand the process, the state and Willard both get to strike three jurors. That means the first 18 names on the jury list are probably all the further down we need to go to see who's likely to hear the case.

This case is happening in Lake County because resigning Senator Russell Olson is claiming the harm (remember, Olson, calls it terrorism) from Willard's robocalls. Olson lives in the Wentworth ZIP, 57075, as do 892 other Lake County residents. Wentworth/57075 makes up 7.97% of Lake County's 11,200-person population (I'm using 2010 Census data). Those percentages would shift a bit if we were talking just legal adults eligible for jury duty, but let's roll with what we have.

Given those numbers, one would expect a list of 18 people randomly drawn from Lake County to include maybe one or two of Russ's Wentworth neighbors. Do some math, and you discover that there's a 95% chance that an 18-person random sample of Lake County residents should include no more than three Wentworthers.

The first 18 names on the Willard trial jury list include nine people from Wentworth.

Run this experiment one million times, and you should get that many 57075 residents in your jury pool three times.

In an infinite universe, anything can happen. In Lake County, anything includes a jury pool with a highly unlikely geographical bias toward the influential aggrieved party.

Tangentially Related Judicial Trivia: Did you know that it is a Class 2 misdemeanor to ask the sheriff or deputy sheriff to place yourself or anyone else on a jury? See SDCL 16-13-44. Lawyer friends, can you explain to me where that statute came from? And has anyone ever been prosecuted under it?

Powers Seeks Judicial Activism, Claims Journalist's Shield to Dodge Subpoena

Dan Willard goes to court in Lake County tomorrow for making Russ Olson feel bad with some critical anonymous robocalls last year. It is worth noting that the statute under which the state is prosecuting Willard no longer exists, and Olson will no longer be a Senator by the end of next month. But no matter: as our Oglala Sioux neighbors can attest, when you make the South Dakota GOP mad, they will come after you.

In response, Dan Willard is coming after SDGOP mouthpiece-blogger Pat Powers, subpoenaing him to testify at his trial this week. What Willard thinks he can learn from Powers in court is a mystery (one could say the same about what anyone thinks they can learn from Powers on his blog).

Whatever Willard's intent, Powers doesn't want to talk. In an affidavit submitted yesterday, Powers asks the judge to quash the subpoena, issue a protection order, and sanction Willard for being mean.

Perhaps of interest to readers of the South Dakota blogosphere is Powers's appeal to the journalistic shield principle. South Dakota has no shield law for journalists, but Powers angles for some legislation from the Lake County bench. Here are the relevant points from his affidavit [along with some editing we would expect of a journalist]:
7. Your affiant considers himself a journalist who competes with other journalists for news stories primarily focused on South Dakota state government, politics, and news stories. [News stories focused on... news stories.]

...9. Your affiant has cultivated relationships with confidential sources that provide me [sic: shift from third person to first person] information on the basis of their anonymity.

...20. If your affiant is forced to reveal any privileged information gathered as a result of my [sic] reporting and journalistic efforts, it will chill the relationship between myself [sic] and confidential news sources and critically impede the ability to report news.

21. Your affiant believes that Daniel Willard has subpoenaed me [sic] in this case in order to gather information protected by the Reporter's First Amendment Privilege [Pat Powers, affidavit, State of South Dakota vs. Daniel Willard, 2013.08.24].
Keep in mind, this is the same Pat Powers who has made false and defamatory hay of wanting to know the sources for my information. But hey, if the judge wants to extend journalist's shield protection to South Dakota bloggers, I'm game!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Indian Vote Suppressors Frankenstein and Gant Can't Agree

Rapid City lawyer Sara Frankenstein and the SDGOP are vindictive bullies for using the courts to shake down Oglala Sioux Tribe members who dare fight for their voting rights. Secretary of State Jason Gant uses specious obfuscation to further suppress the Indian vote.

But Frankenstein undermines Gant's contention that he can't use HAVA funds to help tribal members vote with satellite voting stations:
Frankenstein said that in negotiations on her side, she persuaded the secretary of state to change what she termed “internal policies” and release South Dakota’s HAVA money for the satellite office in Shannon County, which overlaps much of Pine Ridge. He could do this, she said, because in May 2008, South Dakota had completed HAVA’s initial requirement to modernize elections with up-to-date voting machines and the like.

From then on, Frankenstein said, the state was free to spend its federal HAVA appropriation on additional ways to improve elections, including satellite offices. Brooks v. Gant testimony and court documents confirm this. In Judge Schreier’s opinion, she noted that Shannon County residents had “minimal” early-voting access until Brooks v. Gant was filed [Stephanie Woodard, "'They Caved': Tribe Claims Win in SD Voting-Rights Suit," Indian Country Today, 2013.08.13].
Internal policies—that's code for "Jason didn't want to."

Republicans Frankenstein and Gant are both enemies of Indian voting rights. But even Frankenstein can't run with Gant's resistance to using federal money to carry out federal law to help Indians vote.

Republicans Want Indians to Pay for Fighting for Voting Rights

So much for Indian-White reconciliation.

Earlier this month Judge Karen Schreier dismissed Brooks v. Gant, an Indian voting-rights lawsuit brought by residents of the Pine Ridge reservation. The dismissal came only because the filing of the lawsuit forced Secretary of State Jason Gant to open a satellite voting station in Shannon County, thus fulfilling the demands of the plaintiffs.

The state claimed victory, and Rapid City lawyer Sara Frankenstein (who also happens to be treasurer of the state Republican Party) threatened the state might use that "victory" as grounds for demanding that the "losers" pay the counties' and state's court costs. Representatives of the plaintiffs said the threat to force poverty-stricken Indians to pay rich white folks' lawyers was so morally politically repugnant that it was probably just bluster:
“That’s breathtaking,” said Bret Healy, Four Directions consultant. “They have the insurance public officials typically hold to cover lawsuits. We all met the plaintiffs via their depositions—single parents, one with an epileptic child, others caring for infirm elders, from one of the poorest counties in the nation. The state of South Dakota and the counties are really going to do this? God have pity on their souls.”

“Won’t happen,” said [Four Directions co-director OJ] Semans. “It’s just a way to scare off Natives who might want to ask for equal rights in the future.”

“Granting costs would discourage plaintiffs from bringing suits to enforce the Voting Rights Act and would be contrary to the fundamental purpose of the Act,” agreed Laughlin McDonald, director emeritus of the ACLU Voting Rights Project. He also doubted it would happen.

McDonald, who has litigated Native enfranchisement cases since 1983, explained that a prevailing party in a federal case is ordinarily entitled to recover costs, but not when it comes to voting rights. “Federal courts have denied or severely limited recovery in those cases,” said McDonald.

What about recovering attorney’s fees? “I think such a motion would be filed in bad faith and even subject to sanctions,” said McDonald [Stephanie Woodard, "'They Caved': Tribe Claims Win in SD Voting-Rights Suit," Indian Country Today, 2013.08.13].
But Frankenstein wasn't bluffing. She has filed a motion to take over $6,000 in court costs from 25 Oglala Sioux Tribe members. Frankenstein says golly gee, she's not doing this "to be vindictive or send a message"; it's just what winners do in federal cases.

Four Directions calls that B.S. and has sent a letter of protest to various state officials, including Governor Dennis Daugaard. Here's a chance for the Governor to expand on his newly found reconciliatory spirit, admit that the counties and state "won" Brooks v. Gant only in technical terms, and tell Frankenstein to back off.

Instead, he kicks the Four Directions protest letter to Attorney General Marty Jackley, who flips Indians another finger:
In an emailed statement, Jackley said: “Under federal law, a prevailing party is permitted to request the court for certain allowable costs. The county defendants have made a request, and if there is an objection the federal court will determine whether and to what extent costs may be assessed” [Jonathan Ellis, "Voting Rights Case Settled, But Legal Costs Questions Isn't," that Sioux Falls paper, 2013.08.24].
Translation: Don't bother me. You uppity Injuns will get what's coming to you from the court.

Governor Daugaard seems happy to play the benevolent friend of the tribes when they humble themselves by asking for help and give him a chance to exercise the power of the state. But when they challenge the power of the state, when they have the gall to ask for protection of voting rights that they will likely use to vote for Republicans' opponents, Governor Daugaard lets his friends bully our tribal neighbors.

Governor Daugaard, you have lawyer Frankenstein's number. Give her a call, and tell her to let Brooks v. Gant go.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Reconciliation at Work: Crow Creek Sioux Invite Highway Patrol to Help at Pow-Wow

Governor Dennis Daugaard tells a good story about tribal and state government taking a positive step toward building trust (I was going to say rebuilding, but has that trust ever existed?) between our two peoples at last weekend's Crow Creek Sioux Tribe pow-wow:
This year’s pow-wow marked the 150th anniversary of the founding of Fort Thompson, the headquarters of the tribe. Anticipating a large crowd for the event, Chairman Brandon Sazue and the Tribal Council reached out to the South Dakota Highway Patrol to lend a hand with law enforcement and crowd control.

State authority of any kind on tribal land has long been a sensitive issue, so the council and the chairman knew they were taking a risk. They did it for the safety of their citizens. The Highway Patrol responded enthusiastically, offering five troopers and two police service dogs with handlers for the weekend [Governor, Dennis Daugaard, "A Small, Important Step at the Crow Creek Pow-Wow," press release, 2013.08.23].
Daugaard says the tribal–HP collaboration went well: troopers interacted with tribal members with respect and cultural sensitivity. Some troopers have volunteered to help at next year's pow-wow if invited.

Our governor, however, labors under no illusion that one weekend scores all the reconciliation points he needs for 2014... or for the good of all South Dakotans:
None of us is naïve enough to think one event on one weekend will change decades of distrust. Improving race relations is an ongoing, difficult task. It requires persistence, by all involved. It also requires some risk, reaching out and getting to know each other and beginning to trust each other. At the Crow Creek pow-wow last weekend, a group of good-hearted people did reach out. It’s a small step yet an important one. We can be hopeful [Daugaard, 2013.08.23].
(Daugaard also gets HTML-special character points: that umlaut on naïve is in his original text!)

I don't like to mingle reconciliation and score-keeping. But the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe took the harder step here, setting aside their mistrust to admit they needed help and ask for help from The Man. Now it's The Man's turn to reciprocate: what can the Governor and the Highway Patrol do to reach across their mistrust and offer the Crow Creek Sioux an empowering opportunity?

Weiland Campaign: 123 Towns in 36 Days

Unlike Marion Michael Rounds, who seems to be focusing his Senate campaign on big fundraising events that give him an excuse to fuel up his private plane with campaign donations, Rick Weiland has caféstormed over 100 South Dakota towns in less than 40 days. And unlike Annette Bosworth, who wails à la Bernhardt that campaigning is "a huge grieving process for me," Weiland finds inspiration on the campaign trail. From Thursday's presser:
“People tell me I should be tired, but I’m in fact, drawing energy from the people I meet and the communities I travel to,” Weiland said. Weiland has been talking to South Dakotans about how everyday citizens can “take back” their country from the big money special interests that have high-jacked government and put it on the sides of big corporations and billionaires.

...“We start each trip early and end late,” Weiland said. “I feel like that classic Johnny Cash song – ‘I’ve Been Everywhere’. What a great way to experience and connect with the people of our state,” he added [Weiland Senate campaign, press release, 2013.08.22].
The best candidates, the best speakers, the best workers get energy from doing their jobs. That Weiland  is tapping such energy amidst a grueling early campaign schedule shows that, contrary to some wishful thinking and bored Wikipedia "journalism", Weiland can indeed keep South Dakota's Senate seat "in play" for Democrats.

Here's Weiland's list of the 123 towns he's visited over the past five weeks:
  • July 16: Dell Rapids, Flandreau, Madison, Egan, Trent, Chester, Colman & Wentworth
  • July 18: Worthing, Canton, Beresford, Vermillion, Yankton, Irene, Alcester, Centerville & Meckling
  • July 30: De Smet, Wessington Springs, Huron, Volga, Arlington, Lake Preston, Iroquois, Cavour, Lane, Woonsocket, Artesian, Fedora, Roswell, Forestburg, Vilas & Howard
  • August 1: Hartford, Humboldt, Salem, Mitchell, Montrose & Alexandria
  • August 3: Watertown, Kranzburg, Goodwin, Altamont, Clear Lake, Brandt, Toronto, White, Bushnell & Aurora
  • August 7: Baltic, Sherman, Garretson, Corson, Brandon, Valley Springs, Alcester, Big Springs, Spink, Elk Point & Centerville
  • August 8: Davis, Hurley, Menno, Olivet, Turkey Ridge, Scotland, Tyndall, Springfield, Avon, Dante, Wagner, Armour, Corsica, Stickney, Chamberlain, Oacama, Kimball & Pukwana
  • August 11: Parker
  • August 14: Henry, Clark, Raymond, Doland, Frankfort, Redfield, Ashton, Northville, Mellette, Warner & Aberdeen
  • August 15: Bath, Groton, Claremont, Amherst, Britton, Langford, Pierpont, Bristol, Holmquist, Webster, Waubay, Ortley, Summit, Marvin & Milbank
  • August 17: Rapid City
  • August 19: Blackhawk, Piedmont, Sturgis, Whitewood, Central City, Deadwood, Lead, Belle Fourche & Spearfish
  • August 20-21: Keystone, Hill City, Custer, Pringle, Edgemont, Buffalo Gap, Hot Springs & Hermosa
Professor Schaff will criticize Weiland for the absence of Pierre on that early itinerary; Pat Powers surely will not. But all four declared Republican candidates need to look at Weiland's list and start playing catch-up.

Atheist Billboards, Commitment to Ethics, and Personal Choice

We missed the South Dakota Coalition of Reason's new non-believers billboards in Rapid City and Spearfish on our trip west this week. However, I did hear Southern Baptist theologian (wait: they have those?) Russell Moore promulgate the American Christian persecution complex with the absurd claim that being a Christian is no longer "culturally helpful" in our country.

As a South Dakota atheist, let me say that if Moore's contention were true, there'd be no such billboards, or at least no news reports about them. We also would not see "Christian" in the first sentence of any Senate candidate's bio. (Rhoden waits until paragraph 4 to establish his Baptist cred; Rounds doesn't mention his Catholicism in his current Web bio).

The Coalition of Reason makes a declaration of moral intent that should be culturally helpful for any candidate or citizen of any religious persuasion:
Members of our community and student organizations self identify as atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinker, secular, skeptic, non-religious, rationalist, empiricist, and more. Like everyone else, we also benefit from a supportive community of friends and family. South Dakota CoR strives to foster a better understanding of our secular values with our neighbors, and to promote and defend those values in our government. No matter how you self identify, we affirm that all have the ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity [emphasis mine; South Dakota Coalition of Reason, "Welcome," downloaded 2013.08.23].
I can hear my theist friends and even my own skeptical soul asking, "But where does that responsibility come from? Why bother with the 'greater good of humanity' if there is no God?"

I lost little sleep over that question when I was younger; I lose no sleep over that question now. If I didn't behave ethically, my daughter would be sad and my wife would be mad. If no one behaved ethically, life would suck. That response is selfish, sentimental, and sloppily utilitarian, but it works.

Some Christians I know will still declare the Coalition of Reason's commitment to ethical living empty and flimsy: how can we rely on a secularist's professed principles when they are rooted in nothing more than personal choice?

I do not doubt that atheists may make mistakes and fall away from their principles. But in that fallibility, do atheists differ at all from Christians? My Christian friends choose, with the same faculty of free will exercised by me and my secular friends, to follow the teachings of an ancient tribe that caught heck from Pharaoh and walked around the desert a lot, with amendments by a carpenter and convicted criminal from Nazareth. Prominent in those teachings is the idea that all people are fallible. We all suffer weakness. We all make mistakes. Are Christians not by definition as prone to waver and err in their convictions as everyone else we meet in the street?

I'm not big on joining clubs. I've never gotten the sense that joining a Christian club would help me make wiser, more humane, more effective decisions. I don't think joining an atheist club will bolster my decision-making ability.

But I do hope that the South Dakota Coalition of Reason can build on these new billboards to open lengthy conversations between people of all faiths—in God, in Wakan Tanka, in human dignity—that will help us all understand our common abilities and responsibilities to build a better world for all of our relations.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Medicaid Stimulus Provides South Dakota over $19M to Promote Electronic Health Records

We're still having trouble persuading Governor Dennis Daugaard to expand Medicaid to help South Dakota's working poor. All that Obamacare money is just too unreliable to dirty South Dakotans' hands.

But Governor Daugaard has had no problem handing out an extra $19,340,218.57 in extra Medicaid money from President Obama to South Dakota hospitals, doctors, and other caregivers. That's the amount of federal money, as of August 7, that the South Dakota Department of Social Services disbursed through its Electronic Health Record Incentive Payment Program. This money comes to South Dakota courtesy of the HITECH Act of 2009, which Congress folded into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—yes, our friend the 2009 stimulus.

So far 29 of South Dakota's 50 hospitals have received EHR incentive payments as a reward for adopting, implementing, and/or upgrading computerized record-keeping methods. Such rewards are money well-spent: electronic health records are good medicine, as demonstrated by the pioneering Veterans Health Administration.

The spreadsheet I received yesterday from DSS also shows 216 individual health care providers who have received EHR incentive payments. They include:
  • 76 physicians
  • 68 pediatricians
  • 37 nurse practitioners
  • 5 certified nurse midwives
  • 7 dentists
  • 24 physician assistants.
The first payments DSS lists went out on March 23, 2012, to the Mobridge hospital ($646,400), two physicians, ten pediatricians, and two NPs. A steady stream of disbursements has followed, including, on May 2, 2013, a payment of $21,250 to Annette Marie Bosworth.

Yes, the Annette Marie Bosworth who, one month and one day later, let leak her first public mention of her intent to run for Senate as a Republican determined to fight government involvement in health care.

Republicans from Governor Daugaard to candidate Bosworth understand the GOP drill: fulminate against federal money, but take all the money Uncle Sam offers.

Lake County to Extend Bike Trail, Save Trees!

The Lake County Commission went on the road Tuesday to "research" (I giggle just a little) their bike trail extension plans. Real research would have included riding their bikes out to Lake Madison.

Connecting the current spur of the bike trail that ends at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service entrance (hey! FWS! Close that facility before you close the Booth Hatchery!) to the county's public access area on the southwest shore of Lake Madison. To get there, the county needs to lay about one and a quarter miles of new trail south along Highway 19, then east parallel to 236th Street, along the south edge of the remaining county poor farm land. That eastward stretch has a shelterbelt on it. The commissioners and highway superintendent Scott Mathison had the good gosh-darn sense to suggest that the county save the trees:
Once on site, the commissioners and Lake County Highway Superintendent Scott Mathison seemed to feel the north side of the trees was best. They seemed to agree that putting the trail along the road or going through the shelterbelt would likely require taking out several trees, which would be an expensive proposition.

Mathison seemed confident that the trail would work on the north side by taking out the volunteer bushes and trimming up trees. The commissioners did not take any formal vote on the matter [Jane Utecht, "County Takes Research Road Trip," Madison Daily Leader, 2013.08.21].
Yay for trees! Madison's bike trail currently runs through mostly open country. After a mile or two of leaning into the sun and stiff south wind, all pedalers will enjoy that quarter mile of shade and shelter. Keep those trees!

The county could save a little concrete by continuing the southeasterly diagonal of the first part of this trail extension right on through the Sunset Harbor development right to the public access area beach. Residents there would enjoy quick and easy bicycle access, and cyclists from town could get to the beach faster with less time spent alongside the noisy highway. Developer Dan Lemme might be interested in such a trail proposal. He met with commissioners on their road trip at Sunset Harbor and proposed that the county swap him some of its poor-farm land for the squiggly, woodsy strip of land he owns on the south shore of Herkimer Pond. Utecht's text is fuzzy here, but she reports that Lemme suggested continuing the bike path through that area for beach access. Perhaps Lemme would also support the mountain-bike loops that Tony and I think would be a great idea!

Connecting the current Madison bike path to the county's beach is a good idea. But remember: if you really want bicycle bliss, you've got to build a loop. I have my plan for a loop around Lake Herman; our county commissioners should think big and extend their current trail in a long figure out around Lake Madison and Brant Lake down to Chester and back!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fish and Wildlife Service Wants to Close Booth Hatchery in Spearfish

Holy cow... er, trout! Contrary to my usual experiences in Spearfish, I stop in the Queen City of the Black Hills, and the first thing I hear about is a really stupid idea. It comes not from Spearfishers, but from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which thinks it would be a good idea to close the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery:
For a number of years, the National Fish Hatchery System, a branch of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has struggled with declining funding and annual increases in the costs. In addition to rising operating costs, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Directorate in Washington, D.C., has emphasized and prioritized other programs over those of the National Fisheries Program.  As a result, the agency has made the decision to permanently shut down multiple fish hatcheries nationwide, including the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery ["D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery to Close," Black Hills Pioneer, 2013.08.20].
Closing the D.C. Booth Hatchery provides a spectacular example of budget-cutting gone nuts. The hatchery is a Spearfish gem. It draws visitors from all over the place. Every time I've walked down there, I've found locals and travelers enjoying the well-kept grounds, feeding the fish, watching the ducks, and climbing the canyon trails. The hatchery provides an excellent educational experience for visitors about fish, wildlife, and the Black Hills, thus supporting the mission of USFWS.

The hatchery also provides a great boost to the local and state economy. Consider just their summer workforce. The hatchery recruits RVers from all over the country to come serve as interpretive guides and do other work on the grounds. These folks draw no paycheck. In return for their service, the city of Spearfish provides them free camping spots in the beautiful adjacent city campground, listening to the shushing waters of Spearfish Creek. These RVers live in Spearfish all summer, spending their disposable retirement income on groceries and entertainment. Everybody wins!

The D.C. Booth Society is riled up, and so should you be! Here's the Booth Society's run-down of all the benefits the hatchery provides to the community:
The Booth Society is against wasteful spending and supports a fiscally sound government. However, the national fisheries program and a facility like D.C. Booth are excellent examples of good government spending. They provide an economic impact that the public should be proud of. For example a 2011 economic impact study indicates that:
  • Each taxpayer dollar budgeted for the National Fisheries Program generates $28 in economic returns ($28 : $1). The revenue generated can be seen at sporting goods stores, marinas, boat dealerships, guides and outfitter services, bait shops, gas stations, restaurants, and hotels.
  • 68,000 American jobs are attributable to the economic contribution of the National Fisheries Program.
  • The National Fisheries Program contributes $3.6 billion in annual contributions to the U.S. economy. That equates to $70 million a week or $10 million a day. In fact, a company with $3.6 billion in annual profits would rank No. 41 on the Fortune 500 List of America’s Most Profitable Corporations – behind Verizon but in front of Kraft Foods. 
  • $903 million in industrial output results from angling for fish originating in National Fish Hatcheries. 
On the local level, a 2007 economic impact study on D.C. Booth Historic NFH conducted by Black Hills State University revealed:
  • The operations at D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery results in $2.1 million dollars in annual business revenues.
  • An estimated $1 million is spent by nonresident visitors in Spearfish each year who attributed their visit ONLY to the existence of the hatchery.
  • $141,393 in local and state tax and fee revenues are collected indirectly from the visitation at D.C. Booth.
  • Nearly 30 jobs are created locally as a result of the operations at D.C. Booth.
  • Over 14,000 volunteer hours are donated annually to D.C. Booth. This is equivalent to seven full-time employees [D.C. Booth Society, "Save Our Hatchery from Closure," 2013.08.20].

Rep. Noem, Senator Thune, Senator Johnson, get on the horn to the Fish and Wildlife Service, and tell them these budget cuts will cost Spearfish and South Dakota far more than they will save.