Thursday, April 2, 2009

The grass roots fight back!

The State Legislature and some county officials have been greasing the wheels for a new pipeline from Alaska to the US, smoothing the way for taking of land from rural landowners. The voices of ordinary citizens and landowners have been pretty much ignored... which has driven people crazy of all political stripes. For example, the environmental risks even concern Sibby!

This issue is stirring up Meade County -- maybe it will even help fix their issues with a arrogant, paternalistic, and often short-sighted county commission...

This came in the email today from Nancy Kile's "Rural Report":

Ranchers who will be effected by the Phase II TransCanada Keystone pipeline have great concern about the thin pipeline material. (Pdf attachment shows where the pipeline goes through Meade County). There is little faith out in the county regarding the monitoring of the pipeline and subsequent contamination of farm and ranch land by tar sands. Meade landowners are trying to get the Board of County Commissioners through Ordinance 35 to require that the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline build responsibly. Burying the pipeline a shallow 4 feet deep is irresponsible, furthermore TransCanada modifying the pipeline material to be thinner than what was initially proposed should be considered reckless negligence.

Farmers and ranchers are deeply concerned that agricultural cartage used in their operations will be to heavy to traverse the shallowly laid pipeline. This will certainly cause a negative impact to agricultural operations on Meade county’s ranches and farms. During the time period between first and second reading the language of Ordinance 35 was changed to exempt Phase II TransCanada Keystone. The whole purpose of Ordinance 35 was an attempt by Meade Ag. producers to ask that the Board of County Commissioners draft definitive measures that will protect agriculture in Meade County. There is concern that a single commissioner evoked purposeful intention to hide the change of language within the ordinance draft readings. Second reading of Ordinance 35 will take place during the regular monthly Meade County Commission meeting, Wednesday, April 8 at 3pm at the Meade County Courthouse. Meade County landowners would appreciate resident attendance in support of responsible land management.

The issue of Nancy Hilding vs. Meade County Commission is an appeal to determine if the Meade County Commission followed the correct procedure to appointment of the vacated District 1 seat (subsequent to Dean Wink being elected to the State House). Hilding contends the process used by the Meade County commission to fill the seat by appointment was not correctly done in reference to state statute. At the pre-trial hearing, Deputy States Attorney Ken Chleborad on behalf of the Meade County Commission sited four reasons Hilding had no standing for trial. Meade County Commission contends that Hilding has no standing because she; 1) filed the appeal on behalf of herself, 2) Hilding is not a resident of Dist. 1, 3) Hilding is not a voting member in Dist. 1, and 4) Hilding did not run for county commission.

This situation recalls the memory of a 2006 May 4- decision by the Meade County Commission to refuse 885 legal county referendum petition signatures. Meade residents were refused the opportunity to vote on County Commission land use decisions. 747 signatures or 5% of Meade County’s population are required to bring an issue to a county vote. Petitioners for three 2006 petition drives collected 885+ 669+ 492=2046 signatures. Two months later on a Friday, July 7 at 4pm Fourth Circuit Court Judge Jerome A. Eckrich, III on appeal affirmed that Meade County residents do not deserve a chance to vote on County Commission decisions. It appears the Meade County commission through our own courts want it all ways, just as long as they as a body do not have to be held accountable.

Land use decisions in Meade County are voted at large, every single commissioner's vote impacts every county resident. The issue of TransCanada and Ordinance 35 readings help illustrate how one County Commissioner’s action can affect every taxpaying resident of Meade County. The Meade County Commission as land managers may compromise the economic viability of Meade county in deference to a mismanaged pipeline and they as a body will denounce a basic democratic plea by the Meade county taxpayer. If one of us is expendable, all of us are expendable. Rural and urban taxpayers alike are finding this to be a true statement in Meade County.


Meade County intersects the proposed "Phase 2" pipeline route

1 comment:

  1. Progress is not the middle name of Meade County...if there's any place along the pipeline route that could find a way to screw up the process, it's Meade County. Their commissioners closed a gay bar with signatures from people in Pierre that the noise at the bar was too loud...when the bar was in Black Hawk. A woman was shot along a highway by people shooting from a building flying the "stars and bars."
    Long rumored to be the center of the KKK in South Dakota, Meade County might as well be in the 1800's South...rather than South Dakota.