Former 1st Lady Pat Farrar passes away

Former First Lady Patricia Farrar Passes Away;
Gov. Daugaard Requests Flags At Half-Staff

PIERRE, S.D. – Patricia Farrar, the wife of former Gov. Frank Farrar, died earlier today in Aberdeen. Mrs. Farrar, 84, was South Dakota’s First Lady from 1969 to 1971.

The former Patricia Henley was born in Claremont on Aug. 13, 1931. She graduated with honors from the University of South Dakota, where she met Frank Farrar. The couple was married in on June 5, 1953, in Fort Benning, Georgia, where Farrar was stationed in the U.S. Army.

“Mrs. Farrar is still remembered for her graciousness during her time as our First Lady,” said Gov. Daugaard. “Linda and I extend our sympathies to Gov. Farrar and to the Farrar family.”

Arrangements are pending for funeral services on Saturday, Nov. 7, in Britton. Gov. Daugaard is asking that flags throughout South Dakota fly at half-staff on that day in honor of Mrs. Farrar.

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Bolin – Three Jockeying for Governor (You know their names).

From the Sioux City Journal, State Representative Jim Bolin was talking about 2018 recently, and made note of some stuff he probably read here at DWC:

He said Republicans are already jockeying to line up support in order to become candidates in 2018 for the governor post, since Daugaard won a second term in 2014.

Since the state is so heavily Republican, winning the party’s primary in late spring almost guarantees winning the governor spot in November, Bolin said.

SDCONTENDERS

Bolin said three Republicans have a strong interest in being governor in 2018. He said the list includes Attorney General Marty Jackley, Sioux Falls lawmaker Mark Mickelson, a son and grandson of two former governors, and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem. That latter name caught my attention, as Noem would be making a big move to leave the House for a state executive position.

Read it all here.

All this 2018 gubernatorial speculation will certainly guarantee one thing – we’ll continue to see all three of them attending Lincoln Day Dinners across the state!  🙂

 

Is it fair to damn Gant for progress? Not unless we punish trying in America.

I was reading the Argus this morning, regarding the aftermath of the Government Operations and Audit Committee (GOAC) as they looked into the Audit that the incoming Secretary of State ordered upon her election. And in this morning’s article at the Argus Leader web site, it surprisingly seemed as if it was criticizing Gant’s development of a voting system created to make voting easier for overseas voters.

The Secretary of State’s office under former secretary Jason Gant used more than $500,000 in federal grant money to help 27 active military members vote last year.

The news came during a state Government Audit and Operations Committee meeting Friday in which Gant testified about a report that found he misused federal grant money, overspent the office’s annual budget and couldn’t account for $43,000 in state funds. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs has said the discrepancy has since been resolved.

“I know that 27 doesn’t sound like a wonderful number, but it was a program that 27 people took advantage of,” Gant said.

The testimony comes a day after Gant disputed some of the report requested by Krebs, accepted responsibility for some of its findings and characterized some other findings as accounting or coding errors.

Read it here.

What? That’s what they chose to complain about? Sorry, but criticism should not be leveled on trying to find a better way, especially when we were given a grant for it. Unless we’ve started to punish trying in America.

I was in the SOS office when the federal grant was being discussed in it’s earliest stages, but it wasn’t my area, so I only heard anecdotal information on it. But, I recall it was a competitive grant awarded by the Department of Defense and the Federal Voting Assistance Program to develop a new, more efficient system for overseas military voting.

What we had (and still have) is passable, but there are still flaws, and problems with getting things back on time.

Several states competed for this grant, and South Dakota won funding for a small portion of it. What were the goals of this grant?

As part of the grant application, applicants for the grant proposal were asked to explain how they would:

• Establish and operate successful, sustainable and affordable electronic tools that will improve voting systems for voters protected by Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).

• Increase the percentage of ballots successfully returned by UOCAVA voters to be either equal to, or greater than, the percentage of ballots returned by the general absentee voting population.

• Reduce the failure rates for UOCAVA voters experienced in each of the various stages of the absentee voting process (such as voter registration, absentee ballot request, blank absentee ballot delivery, absentee ballot marking, absentee ballot tabulation, and absentee ballot return verification). The standard for such reductions is to reduce these failure rates to be equivalent to the level of the general electorate for similar stages in the voting process, and for similar demographic populations.

• Establish and maintain a pipeline of ideas, techniques and best practices of election officials and their services for UOCAVA voters.

Gant said, “South Dakota’s portion of this grant is directly related to how such a system would maintain the security of the electronically marked ballot.”

Read that here.   And on that basis, they developed the iOASIS system for military voting.  Now, voting using the internet had been attempted before. But, as noted in an article that came out about the time the system was being developed:

The Department of Defense abandoned an online voting project 10 years ago amid concerns that the Internet is not secure enough to build voting systems.

“Election information is subject to change, modification, tampering, loss, whatever, when it’s traveling through communication channels,” said Pamela Smith, the president of Verified Voting, a national group that supports voting systems that can be verified.

Read that here.

The system created under Gant’s direction was developed, tested extensively, and actually used for an election at a time where there weren’t as many people eligible to use it. So, there were about 27 people who used it in an election, where it worked well, by all reports. In fact, the system was up for an innovation award, as well as many other accolades.

The critics of the program are focusing on the numbers and dollar signs, but is that an entirely fair thing?  The system developed was by any sense of the word an “experimental” system to see if it could be done, and whether there was an effective method to “maintain the security of the electronically marked ballot.”  And despite grousing, no one seems to deny that this experiment – paid for through an outside grant of federal funds – appeared to work.

Innovation in election systems might seem to be an alien concept here in South Dakota, where as recently as twenty or fewer years ago there were areas where people still checked a box on a paper ballot and they were counted by hand.

Somehow, we’ve managed to move from paper ballot, to punch ballot, to optical scan. And in each of those cases, SOMEONE had to figure out a way to do it first. And as it’s been adopted and refined, of course the costs come down. The system developed in South Dakota had as one of it’s top requirements, that it maintain the security of the ballot in an electronic environment. Such innovation isn’t going to come cheap, and I don’t think that was lost on the DOD and others as they laid out money to create the system.

And as explained by “Everyone Counts,” a company in the business of electronic elections solutions, who partnered with the State on the project, the project laid the groundwork for future innovation:

Although the new system streamlines the process on the front-end, it currently still does require the voter to mail their marked ballot back, but according to Lori Steele, CEOO of Everyone Counts, the system provides flexibility and could include electronic return.

“The program in South Dakota does require the voter to mail back the ballot,” Steele said. “In the case of other jurisdictions, the ballots could be returned securely electronically or the voters could even securely return a full ballot package with signature electronically.”

Because the system uses the CAC cards, it is currently only available to members of the military, but Steele suspects that won’t always be the case.

“This will likely, though, be expanded with time.  Other jurisdictions could use CAC authentication for any federal government employee working overseas.  And the same technology could be used to authenticate civilians with things like driver’s licenses,” Steele said. “Really, this innovation opens up secure remote voting to any voter, anywhere!”

Read that here.

His successor decided to roll back the experimental program in the state, which is certainly her right. But that shouldn’t mean we should damn Jason Gant for trying.  Unless, as noted, we don’t try anymore in this country.

If his detractors are going to bash Jason Gant for his time as Secretary of State, I’m sure they’ll have no trouble pointing out his faults. He’s well aware of and openly holds himself accountable for his shortcomings.

But, don’t bash Gant because he accepted a challenge to innovate to help create a system better than the flawed one currently in use. Not everyone cares to be stuck in the past, with a system where in some elections, over 40% of military ballots have to be discarded because they arrive late or suffer other problems.

In many cases, we can curse the darkness, or light a candle.

And in this case, South Dakota lit a candle, and that was a good thing.

Shouldn’t the subject line instead ask “Who are we?”

Hawks_videoPaula Hawks is out hawking for cash this weekend, claiming that she has a powerful grassroots movement. She does? Where are they?  (I’m not sure where that boast is coming from.)

Someone at the campaign might be having a movement, but I’m not going to venture into further speculation. Otherwise, there are few signs of life from one of the worst campaigns in recent state history:

From: “South Dakotans for Paula” <[email protected]>
Date: October 30, 2015 at 1:37:22 PM CDT
To:
Subject: who we are
Reply-To: [email protected]

Progressive voters in South Dakota have united behind Democrat Paula Hawks for Congress. As a State Legislator for the 9th district, Paula has proven her commitment to bottom-up solutions to our most pressing problems, like our state’s massive teacher shortage. Now she’s ready to advocate for us in Washington.

Across South Dakota, working families, teachers and parents of public school students, and concerned citizens know that the culture of dysfunction and gridlock in Washington must end.

If you’re with us, please donate to Paula’s campaign before her HUGE October deadline tomorrow at midnight!

DONATE $5 NOW!

DONATE $25 NOW!

DONATE $75 NOW!

DONATE $150 NOW!

DONATE $300 NOW!

We’ve formed a powerful grassroots movement, and our numbers are swelling by the day. But we’re working against a Republican establishment in South Dakota funded by big money outsiders who don’t know the first thing about our state.

We need Paula to go to Congress to fight for us and our progressive ideals.

This is BIG: Click here to send a contribution to Paula before time runs out!

South Dakotans for Paula

 

Obama claiming pumpkins contribute to global warming?

Stolen from facebook:

kristi_pumpkin

Yes, really. They really said this:

Most of the 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins produced in the U.S. end up in the trash, says the Energy Department’s website, becoming part of the “more than 254 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) produced in the United States every year.”

Municipal solid waste decomposes into methane, “a harmful greenhouse gas that plays a part in climate change, with more than 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide,” Energy says.

Read it here.   And read the original website here.

pumpkinWaste_2015-update

How much energy does it take to be a scold?

Souvenir of the original State Capitol

old_cap

The SD Retailers building now stands where the old State Capitol once stood, but I managed to return a souvenir of it that had been in Minnesota back to home state soil. This piece of custard glass is decorated with old state capitol which stood across the street from the current one around 126-130 years ago.

I had never seen one of these before, and managed to snag it on eBay for about $22, which I thought was a pretty good price.

Get ready for a better coyote, Currently exploding in population in the eastern US.

We have enough trouble with coyotes here in the great wide-open spaces. Imagine my surprise to hear that a better one has been created, and is numbering in the millions already as it’s territory spreads:

Interbreeding between animal species usually leads to offspring less vigorous than either parent—if they survive at all. But the combination of wolf, coyote and dog DNA that resulted from this reproductive necessity generated an exception. The consequence has been booming numbers of an extraordinarily fit new animal (see picture) spreading through the eastern part of North America. Some call this creature the eastern coyote. Others, though, have dubbed it the “coywolf”. Whatever name it goes by, Roland Kays of North Carolina State University, in Raleigh, reckons it now numbers in the millions.

The mixing of genes that has created the coywolf has been more rapid, pervasive and transformational than many once thought. Javier Monzón, who worked until recently at Stony Brook University in New York state (he is now at Pepperdine University, in California) studied the genetic make-up of 437 of the animals, in ten north-eastern states plus Ontario. He worked out that, though coyote DNA dominates, a tenth of the average coywolf’s genetic material is dog and a quarter is wolf.

The DNA from both wolves and dogs (the latter mostly large breeds, like Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds), brings big advantages, says Dr Kays. At 25kg or more, many coywolves have twice the heft of purebred coyotes. With larger jaws, more muscle and faster legs, individual coywolves can take down small deer. A pack of them can even kill a moose.

and…

The animal’s range has encompassed America’s entire north-east, urban areas included, for at least a decade, and is continuing to expand in the south-east following coywolves’ arrival there half a century ago. This is astonishing. Purebred coyotes never managed to establish themselves east of the prairies. Wolves were killed off in eastern forests long ago. But by combining their DNA, the two have given rise to an animal that is able to spread into a vast and otherwise uninhabitable territory.

and…

Having versatile tastes is handy for city living. Coywolves eat pumpkins, watermelons and other garden produce, as well as discarded food. They also eat rodents and other smallish mammals. Many lawns and parks are kept clear of thick underbrush, so catching squirrels and pets is easy. Cats are typically eaten skull and all, with clues left only in the droppings.

Read it all here.

Press Conference Regarding September 17th Platte House Fire and Death Investigation

Press Conference Regarding September 17th Platte House Fire and Death Investigation

Marty JackleyPIERRE S.D. – Attorney General Marty Jackley will conduct a press conference on November 3, 2015, at 1:00 p.m., at the Community Center adjacent to the Platte City Hall building, Platte, S.D. The purpose of the press conference is to discuss the law enforcement investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the September 17th house fire and death investigation, which claimed the lives of the Westerhuis family.

The press conference is open to the public.