EAS Funding Side Effects

I know the cut, cut, cut, mentality is all the rage these days in Washington and one of the programs being looked at is the Essential Air Service funding that provides subsidies to allow commercial air service out of smaller cities across the country. The program provides approximately $200 million (or about $182 per passenger) at 140 airports including Watertown ($1.3 Million) and Huron ($1.7 Million) here in South Dakota. These subsidies are often the only thing allowing these smaller cities to provide commercial air service.

Looking at just the numbers there is some obvious problems with how the program is being run. When you see airports like Ely, Nevada getting $5,223 per passenger it is no wonder that the suddenly cost conscious are looking to trim the fat. What you aren’t hearing though is some of the possible side effects of completely gutting the program.

If we just look at South Dakota for example. Huron is served by Great Lakes Airlines, and Watertown by Mesaba Airlines, companies whose business model relies on providing small aircraft to service rural airports, most of which rely on EAS funding. Shuttering the EAS program would likely put Great Lakes out of business and possibly Mesaba as well. As our local tea partiers would say, no big deal, if they can’t make it without government help then they don’t deserve to be in business anyways right?

Of course there is one small problem with that logic. With no Mesaba or Great Lakes Airlines, Aberdeen and Pierre also lose as those carriers are the only ones serving those cities meaning that while EAS funding only directly subsidizes Huron and Watertown, South Dakota could lose so much more. How many state capitols do you know of that don’t have commercial air service and how hard will it be to sell our cheap slave labor to out of state businesses when they have to fly into Sioux Falls or Rapid City and then drive 200 miles to get to the top secret Governors hunt?

Our economy is in a world of hurt highlighted by loads of wasteful spending and the EAS program is no exception. Cutting it out completely and saving $200 million right off the bat might look good now, but remember every action usually comes with a reaction and in South Dakota it could be more than we bargained for.

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EPA's Latest Promotion Of The Ethanol Boondoogle Appealed

Back in October the EPA gave it’s blessing for the use of 15% blend of highly subsidized ethanol gasoline in cars and trucks manufactured after 2007 despite the concerns of just about every company that makes products that would use the fuel. In response to the EPA’s actions, those groups have now fired back by appealing the EPA ruling claiming that they have overstepped their authority under the Clean Air Act.

A collective of automakers and engine manufacturers today filled a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, requesting judicial oversight and review over whether EPA’s “partial waiver” approval for E-15 fuels violates the federal Clean Air Act provisions. The petition states the Clean Air Act limits the circumstances under which EPA can approve applications for new fuels and fuel additives.

Critics of E-15 say the 50 percent increase in ethanol could damage catalytic converters in older vehicles, as well as engines of boats, motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, chainsaws, lawnmowers, and other gas-powered lawn equipment.

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Live Blogging The Early Results

All Times CDT

The polls have closed and the results are coming in. I will be commenting on some of the bigger races as the numbers come in so feel free to stop by throughout the evening.

8:00pm – First off, you got to hand it to John McSame, he ensured that his speech went through the top of the hour to steal some of the thunder of Barack Obama being declared as the presumptive nominee (by NBC/MSNBC at least).

8:10pm – Early results have Hillary up on Barack 56-44%, Joel Dykstra way up on both Sam Kephardt and Charles Gonyo 66-24-10% in the race to get beat by Tim Johnson, The Union County Hyperion zoning referendum is also going down early 76-24% and of interest to those familiar with the blogosphere, Pat Powers of SDWC fame is down big 82-18% in his attempt to get the GOP nod for District 7 State Senate.

8:22PM – With 19% of the vote counted, MSNBC is calling South Dakota for Hillary Clinton

8:30pm – While not the huge landslide that the ARG poll suggested (26%), Hillary is going to get a pretty huge victory here as she is currently at +12% with almost a quarter of the votes counted.

Hillary is getting ready to speak, I am sure she will focus on her win here but will she reveal anything about her future?

8:45pm – 15 minutes in to her speech, Hillary still clinging to her I am the strongest candidate theme as well as the 18 million votes cast for her during the primaries. What’s missing? So far nothing even coming close to acknowledging the fact that Obama has reached 2118 and is now the presumptive nominee.

Pat Powers is still way down 78-22% with almost 25% of the precincts counted in District 7.

8:50pm – Hillary: “Where do we go from here?” Sorry, no news on that tonight.

9:00pm – The Hyperion re-zoning referendum is coming back, it is now up 50-49% with just under 50% reporting.

9:18pm – Barack Obama is now just getting started on his presumptive nominee victory speech in Minnesota. Most networks are calling Montana for Obama, and Hillary is maintaining her 12% gap.

The fat lady is singing on Pat Powers run for the state senate, he is down over 40 points to Orv Smidt with 50% counted and the Hyperion re-zoning is going to go down to the wire, as of now it back down 53-47%.

As far as the GOP sacrificial lamb nomination for the Senate, I think it is safe to say that Joel Dykstra has it pretty much in hand with a huge lead at the halfway point.

9:55pm – Closing things out for the evening, Hillary wins by double digits, Dykstra earns the right to get beat in November though mysteriously 10% of the GOP voters voted for the myopic isolationist Charles Gonyo, Pat Powers can safely go back to blogging, and the Hyperion oil refinery re-zoning referendum is still too close to call thought at this moment it is winning (UPDATE 6/4: It won going away 58-42%).

More tomorrow.

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Randell Beck Comments On Clinton Remarks

I haven’t been able to find this on the Argus Leader site but Washington Post political blog The Fix provides us with Argus Leader executive editor Mr. Satire’s (aka Randell Beck) statement regarding Hillary’s comments.

Here’s Beck’s statement:

“The context of the question and answer with Sen. Clinton was whether her continued candidacy jeopardized party unity this close to the Democratic convention. Her reference to Mr. Kennedy’s assassination appeared to focus on the timeline of his primary candidacy and not the assassination itself.”

And this isn’t the first time that Hillary has brought up the RFK assassination. Back in March she said this:

TIME: Can you envision a point at which–if the race stays this close–Democratic Party elders would step in and say, “This is now hurting the party and whoever will be the nominee in the fall”?
CLINTON: No, I really can’t. I think people have short memories. Primary contests used to last a lot longer. We all remember the great tragedy of Bobby Kennedy being assassinated in June in L.A. My husband didn’t wrap up the nomination in 1992 until June. Having a primary contest go through June is nothing particularly unusual.

As the Time article points out, Hillary mis-speaks in her apology given today where she said that the Kennedy reference was because of Ted’s recent health issues being on her mind which wasn’t the case back when she first said this in March. Also the whole preface of her argument of her husband’s campaign being in doubt in June is also wrong, he had it wrapped up by March.

Maybe she was still upset over her infamous Bosnia sniper fire incident

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Obama Draws 75,000

So how many donut shops would Hillary have to visit to get the number of supporters Barack Obama drew in one event in Oregon yesterday?

Sen. Barack Obama has seen his share of large crowds over the last 15 months, but his campaign said they have not approached the numbers gathered along the waterfront here right now.

The campaign, citing figures from Duane Bray, battalion chief of Portland Fire & Rescue, estimated that 75,000 people are watching him speak.

UPDATE: Here is a video mix of the news reports detailing the event:

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Dan Scott V. The Argus Moves Forward

The libel suit brought by Dan Scott over Argus Leader editor Randell Beck’s column is set to move forward. PP over at the War College has the ruling.

UPDATE: KELO has more:

In Wednesday’s ruling, Judge Kathleen Caldwell said there’s no clear law that says that a reader would have been able to figure out if the column was actual news or a parody. So, she’ll let a jury decide.

A trial date has not been set.

Something else that makes this case unique is that if there are an appeals, this would be the first time South Dakota’s Supreme Court has heard a case involving the First Amendment and parody. It could end up setting a precedent for future cases and could affect what you read in the paper and see on TV.

And on blogs?

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Clean Cut Kid Is Charged

Updated Below

Chad Schuldt, of Clean Cut Kid fame, was charged with Grand Theft for stealing $200,000 from Obama campaign political consultant Hildebrand Tewes Consulting Inc.

Chad Schuldt, 37, stole nearly $200,000 from his former employer by overpaying himself, misusing a company credit card and causing federal tax penalties, according to a Sioux Falls Police affidavit for an arrest warrant.

Schuldt pleaded not guilty earlier this month to a two-count information charging him with grand theft. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The old adage that the wheels of justice turn slowly surely hold true here as this story first broke 9 months ago and was all the buzz in the blogosphere but pretty much no where else until now.

UPDATE: This morning’s Argus has more details on what Schuldt has been accused of that up until now had only been speculated on and the possible reason why charges have now been filed 9 months after the fact.

According to the affidavit, the accountant found that from April 2005 to June 2007:
Schuldt overpaid himself $28,750;

issued $30,560 in cash advances;

# made $9,988 in unauthorized purchases at hotels, restaurants and retailers using the firm’s credit card.

Schuldt is accused of embezzling $69,298, but the total loss to Hildebrand Tewes Consulting is calculated at $198,146, including IRS penalties, professional fees and other costs.

Schuldt admitted to the thefts in e-mails with Hildebrand and said he would cooperate with the investigation. But police said Schuldt did not respond to their interview requests as of Dec. 17 and he had made no attempt to repay.

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The Evil Empire And Their SD Olympic Ties

During my childhood, the Soviet Union was the evil empire, the bastion of communism, and our hated opponent during the 35 plus year cold war that saw bomb shelters being built in peoples back yards, ballistic missiles being deployed in Cuba, and unknown near misses that could have resulted in all out nuclear war. The late 80’s saw the downfall of communism in most of Eastern Europe and now the new century is seeing US citizens representing the former Soviet Union in the Olympic Games.

Rapid City’s own Becky Hammon becomes the latest athlete to represent a country that they are not a citizen of when she suits up for the Russian women’s basketball team for the Beijing Olympics this summer. I know this is nothing new and in fact I remember several instances of this happening in past competitions including the World Baseball Classic a few years ago but Ms Hammon is taking quite a beating in the comments section of the RCJ story documenting her decision.

Hammon doesn’t see a problem

“It will be special, and it will be different, but I have never let myself be defined by the name on the front of my jersey,” she said. “I think people’s reaction is ironic because I look at our country as the best and most giving. I bleed red, white and blue.”

But others do.

Regret wrote on Apr 10, 2008 11:30 AM:
” The only thing she’ll be remembered for, is that she couldn’t cut the mustard and couldn’t accept the fact she wasn’t good enough to play for team USA so she settled for second class. All the so called great things she did before will be overshadowed by this…just lide Barry Bonds, Lyle Alzado, Clemens. They won’t be known for breaking records, but for the one stupid thing they did in their life.

BTW, how will she explain to her children or grandchildren why she played for a different country during the Olympics? Hard to explain why you supported another country instead of your own.

But then again, she always was for herself. “

Is the fact that she is representing the Russians an issue for anyone and if so would you feel differently if it was say Jamaica? (had to add a “Cool Runnings” reference) Or is this much ado about nothing?

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Continue To Submit Your George Bush Acronyms

I guess State Motor Vehicles Director Debra Hillmer will have to better keep up with acronyms and word plays as her request to have the state stop allowing vanity plates was shot down in committee this morning.

State Motor Vehicles Director Debra Hillmer told legislators Tuesday that it has become very difficult to decipher all the terms that motorists want to put on their plates.

Hillmer says many combinations of letters and numbers may be offensive, and the state is going to be sued at some point by those who are offended by personalized plates or those who argue that free speech allows them to have the plates of their choice.

However, legislators refused to pass the repeal bill, saying personalized plates are wildly popular with many motorists.

MPEACHW might be taken but I am sure there are many more out there that she will have to continue looking for. Maybe reading the plate would help before approving? Just wondering…

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Apparently The Judge Couldn't Find The Column Either

The Argus Leader lost another round in the Dan Scott libel case brought against the paper by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation president over a column published last July.

A Minnehaha County judge Friday denied a motion by the Argus Leader to dismiss a libel lawsuit brought against it by Dan Scott, president of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

The lawyers for the Argus thought that once the judge read the Randell Beck column, she would dismiss the lawsuit. But just as is the case with the Argus’ website where we can no longer view the column in question, the article wasn’t attached to the complaint so she refused to consider it stating it was outside the civil complaint. (I have posted the Beck column in it’s entirety here)

A quick question for any lawyers out there. Who files a libel lawsuit but doesn’t include the alleged libelous material as part of the lawsuit or am I missing something?

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