At the risk of sounding the like the “back in my day” guy….
Back in the 1980s when I was in college, people of my generation could drink legally. It was only 3.2 beer but that was enough. Now, we can debate the merits of the 18 versus 21 drinking age all we want but the truth is that college students living in a college town are going to drink.
The question is how do we react to it, manage it, try to prevent it or curb the clear consequences? That’s underlying the story that reporter Steve Young wrote for the Sunday paper.
I was student at USD and can attest to the atmosphere at the time. Drinking was a huge part of life there as one might imagine. Raising the drinking age changed that to the degree that there weren’t bars next to campus open to 18 year olds.
But did raising the drinking age change the overall culture of alcohol in Vermillion? Probably not as much as we think. Today there are large “house” parties, which inevitably get broken up by police. In those instances, the participants — often under the influence — try to flee and all sorts of bad things can and do happen.
Which is not to argue for a lowered drinking age or a return to the debauchery of early 80s. That would be stupid.
But we can’t ignore it either. What’s happening in Vermillion, where local authorities have established a pilot program to help those 18-21 year olds clear their records, is at least an effort to deal with the consequences.
I’m not sure what it’s like in the other college communities in South Dakota. I’m sure Brookings has all kinds of the same issues. But it’s probably not the same issue in the smaller schools, where the concentration of like-minded young adults is much less dense. Will this work and is there a lesson for other communities?
It’s been a controversial topic in the city ever since a series of “cage matches” were held back in the early 2000’s. That led to passage of the ban — because that’s about all they could do — on events in public buildings.
What that effectively did, though, is prevent having larger scale, legitimate events in the city as the sport matured. Today, MMA is pretty mainstream. The state will regulate it more heavily beginning this summer so maybe it’s time to reconsider.
We’ll talk about that today on 100 Eyes live at 3 p.m.
Argus Leader reporter Terry Vandrovec did a series on MMA in the region last summer. That series detailed some of the successes that local fighters are having on the regional and national stage. But it’s not widely known because there aren’t any events here.
Today I’m launching a new feature on 100 Eyes called “People I Know.” This will be primarily a Monday feature unless breaking or bigger news pushes it off. I talked to people all the time and think, “hey, you should be on my show sometime.”
But there’s usually not a driving news reason to have that person on immediately. This gives me a reason to do that. I was making a mental list in my head this weekend and came up with a pretty good start. Now, that doesn’t mean they’ll all agree but I like the idea just the same.
So today it’s Brian Allen, the anchor at KSFY-TV here in the Best Little City in America.
Now, I know you’re probably saying, “What? A TV guy?” I know, I know. I’m hard on my friends in the broadcast arts. I don’t watch much local TV — really I don’t, who has time when you have Netflix — but when I do, I watch KSFY.
And Brian and I go way back. We first met as young reporters back in Sioux City about 20 years ago and we’ve crossed paths several times since. I always tell people that the Brian you see on TV is basically Brian. He’s a sincere guy who likes chasing news and it shows. He’s often on the road tracking down a story in person, not just sitting behind a desk.
We’ll try and hit a variety of news topics today, as well as pertinent questions about the TV biz, such as “Are you wearing pants?”
As you may have read on the Argus Leader website this afternoon, we received what we see as a favorable ruling from the 8th Circuit Court of appeals on our lawsuit at against the USDA over information on Food Stamps.
My guest on the show at 3 will be Jon Arneson, our lawyer who argued the food stamp case, first at the district court level and then in the appeal to the 8th Circuit.
This whole process started about three years ago when we started talking about doing a story on food deserts, essentially trying to figure out where in South Dakota people don’t have access to full service grocery stores and rely on gas stations and convenience stores.
We asked for Food Stamp data and we’re turned down.
One thing led to another and pretty soon you’re in federal appeals court fighting against the United States government over what we believe should be public information.
Frankly, we don’t really know what the data says.
But it seems like we should be able to find out, and this is all we’ve been asking for awhile, how much tax money is spent in any given location. We’ve long since given up on finding out just what is purchased (bananas and milk or Doritos and Gatorade?).
Anyway, we found out today that we received a favorable ruling. It’s not done yet. We don’t really know what’s next. In part, that’s up the USDA.
To be clear, my intention in having Jon on the show is not so much to talk about how right we are, but to talk about what exactly the issue is and why it’s important in the bigger picture. Jon’s spent his career as a First Amendment lawyer so he’s got some thoughts on that issue.
Please join us. You can chat now or stop by at 3.
Below is the opinion that was released by the court today.
Remember, you can always use the #100Eyes hashtag on Twitter and it will drop right into our chat.
There are plenty of other issues, of course, but in my mind the challenge of building a work force that is able to meet the challenges of the modern business environment has the potential to affect many others. I think the governor knows this.
The good people at the governor’s office were kind enough to forward to me a passage from the State of the State that nicely summarizes the actions he has already taken and proposals he wants to tackle in this regard. I’ve pasted that in below. It’s detailed and thorough.
They are all viable and potentially valuable ideas. But is it enough? The contention in my column is change the perception of our state to the wider world as well as our self-image. That’s going to take more than a series of modest, prudent proposals.
What do you think?
Here’s that passage from the State of the State:
Whenever we face a challenge, South Dakotans roll up our sleeves and work together to find a solution.
Two years ago, I used my State of the State Address to speak to you about workforce. I announced the South Dakota Workforce Initiatives, or “South Dakota WINS,” a twenty-point plan to get more South Dakotans trained and ready to work in a rapidly growing and changing South Dakota economy.
South Dakota WINS included four categories of effort. I’d like to briefly update you on some of the progress we’ve made in each of these areas over the past couple years and share new proposals to continue our progress.
The first area of SouthDakota WINS is “preparing our youth.” We need to prepare our young people to live and work in the 21st Century, and we need to give them the information they need to make wise decisions about career choices and academic programs. Students need to know that if they enter a high-need field, they will find a job in South Dakota, and they will make good money in that job.
Over the last two years, the state has continued to strengthen SDMyLife, an online portal for students and parents to research career and academic options. We have piloted new programs to remediation, both in high school and at the universities, to help more students succeed in post-secondary programs. We have organized and promoted career camps in engineering, information technology,healthcare, and the skilled trades to expose students to these high-need career fields.
Over the past year, I have focused my attention on the need to offer high quality CTE – Career and Technical Education – in our K-12 schools. CTE is at the intersection of education and economic development. While many of our schools offer good CTE programs, these expensive programs can be difficult to offer and maintain especially for our smaller school districts.
I can’t overstate the importance of these programs. CTE programs are very closely aligned with our state’s workforce needs from welding and machining, to healthcare and information technology, to engineering andbiosciences. These programs give students experiences so they understand these aren’t “dirty jobs,” but opportunities to work with the latest technology hands-on. Even higher education opportunities are available right here in South Dakota at our universities and technical institutes.
After session ended last year, I asked staff from my office and from the Department of Education to reach out to those who are engaged in CTE programs. Over the spring, summer, and fall, they visited all four technical institutes, as well as high school CTE programs. They held a series of meetings to listen to over 40 high school administrators and educators – large school and small schools. They learned about innovation already occurring in our state.
Fortunately, working together to provide CTE is not a new idea for South Dakota’s schools. Northeast Technical High School has provided CTE programs for Watertown area school districts for decades. In northwestern South Dakota, a consortium ofeight districts uses a fleet of portable CTE labs in semi-truck trailers toshare programs and equipment. In Sioux Falls, the new CTE Academy is providing cutting-edge programs to students from all districts in that area.
We need even more innovation like this, and today, I am announcing that I will use at least $5 million in Future Funds this year to support a series of Governor’s Grants for CTE. These grants will help schools join together to strengthen their current CTE offerings.
The Department of Education issued a Request for Information to schools last fall, and we received proposals from 26 districts totaling $20 million in requests. We are working now to narrow down the requests we received and to sharpen the applications. We can’t do it all this year, but I believe these grants are a big step toward creating new opportunities for our youngpeople to learn, work, and live right here in South Dakota.
This year we will also help finance more high school students to take dual credit courses. More and more high school CTE programs are partnering with our technical institutes to provide courses that award bothhigh school credit and post-secondary credit. Our state universities have also partnered for years with high schools to make dual credit opportunities available. Schools can’t typically pay for university or technical institute credit. In some cases, the cost of the higher education credits makes these opportunities cost prohibitive for a student’s family.
Right now, college or tech school credit can be obtained for some courses provided by the high school, if the high school course and instructor are approved by the college or tech school. For example, in college dual credit cases, students who pass their approved high school course can pay $40 per credit hour and get college credit in addition to their high school credit. However, if that high school student takes a course directly from the college, such as Composition online for dual credit, that student pays $300 per credit hour for that distance class.
The FY15 budget I proposed last December proposes funds to help make these opportunities more affordable. Using a combination of state funds and discounts from the Regents and the Technical Institutes, we propose to buy down the cost of entry-level university and technical institute courses. That way students can take these dual credit courses from the universities and tech schools directly at the low $40 per credit hour.
Dual credit opportunities are a win-win-win-win. Students who start college or tech schools with some credits already earned are more likely tocomplete on time and at less cost. Universities and technical institutes get the opportunity to make themselves known to prospective students and to help prepare them for success when they graduate. High schools gain flexibility to offer more opportunities to students at no cost to the district, and the state gets more young people who are ready to succeed, live, and work here in South Dakota.
Offering training for skilled jobs is the second major area of South Dakota WINS, and over the past two years, we have made major strides in this area. We created a new welding and manufacturing program at Mitchell Tech. As of this fall, 23 of the 24 slots are full. We also expanded the welding program at Mike Durfee State Prison, so that more inmates can learn this skill and prepare for a productive life after prison. The tech schools have created innovative distance-based machining and welding courses that combine online and hands-on elements. These distance-based programs have already served students in seven different South Dakota communities.
Our technical institutes strive to teach using cutting-edge, up-to-date equipment, but that can be very expensive. Last month, I asked the four technical institutes to let me know their highest-need equipment upgrades. Earlier this month, I awarded $3.8 million in Future Fund grants to the technical institutes to fund many of the needed upgrades in our workforce priority areas. From hemodynamic monitors used in cardiovascular procedures, to computer numerically controlled press brakes and robotics trainers used in manufacturing, to telecaster production switches used in satellite communications, just to name a few. These are just a few of the funded upgrades which will offer significant improvements to our technical institute programs.
In addition, today I am announcing I will be awarding the technical institutes another $1.5 million. That’s $500,000 a year for the next threeyears for scholarships in 20 high-need program areas. These scholarships of up to $5000 for two-year programs will be awarded to students who agree to stay in South Dakota and work in a high-need field for three years.
Another important workforce need in our state is rural health care. That is the third area of South Dakota WINS. Between 2010 and 2020, South Dakota will need over 8,000 new healthcare workers. This is going to be a challenge because our elderly population is expected to double by 2025.
Most of our state’s health professionals are concentrated in the more populated areas. Rural areas have been struggling to recruit and retain providers. Fifty- three of the state’s sixty-six counties are federally designated as health professional shortage areas either partially or completely.
Health care providers who were raised in South Dakota, educated in South Dakota, and on-the-job trained in South Dakota are more likely to stay in South Dakota. We have to work even harder to make that happen for rural areas. That’s where we’ve been focusing our efforts.
We’ve already made important strides.
Two years ago, we expanded the rural healthcare facilities recruitment program for fields such as registered nurses and physical therapists. As a result of this expansion, we have 120 health care professionals that were successfully recruited to 49 rural communities, including communities like Faulkton, Scotland, Mission, and Timber Lake.
We also needed more capacity in our educational programs. In FY13, we increased the class size at the med school by 4 students. In my budget this year, I am proposing that we add still another 11 students per class. That means in five years we will have 60 more med students being trained in our state than we did before the expansion began. In the future, we must work to add residencies to keep these additional med school graduates during their residency training right here in South Dakota.
We have also increased the capacity of the physician assistant program at USD from 20 to 25 students and reserved 20 of those spots for South Dakotans. For the first time, we are now paying preceptors who provide practice experiences for physician assistants’ graduates. This has increased the number of willing preceptors in South Dakota. In my budget proposal for FY15, I am encouraging you to provide the same financial incentive for nurse practitioner preceptors. Again, if we can keep these graduates doing their on the job training after school in South Dakota, it’s more likely we can keep them working in South Dakota.
To encourage practice in rural areas, the FY13 budget included funding to establish the Frontier andRural Medicine, or FARM program, to give third-year medical students a nine-month experience in rural communities. These programs are important because we find that students who have good rural experiences are more likely to then practice in rural areas.
The fourth and final area of South Dakota WINS is our effort to attract more workers to South Dakota. I mentioned in my Budget Address last month that the New South Dakotans program designed to recruit workers from other states has worked more slowly than we had hoped.
Conversely, we have seen great success with the Dakota Roots program, which focuses recruiting efforts on inviting former South Dakotans to come back home. Since it began, in 2006, more than 3,000 people have returned to South Dakota to accept employment thanks to Dakota Roots. A small investment of marketing dollars two years ago has led to an 89 percent increase in annual Dakota Roots registrations and a 66 percent increase in annual job placements in that two-year period.
My budget proposal reverts $4 million of the $5 million that was initially appropriated for New South Dakotans, but it also proposes to appropriate $500,000 in one-time funds tocontinue to strengthen the successful Dakota Roots program and to wind down the New South Dakotans program.
The issue of workforce continues to be a major challenge for our state. Our low unemployment rate is a sign of our economic strength, but it also means it’s difficult for employers to add more jobs even if they have the business to justify it.
Over the next several weeks, I will be going on the road to carry this message to several communities around the state. I will address chamber of commerce groups, visit with editorial boards, and meet with employers abouttheir workforce needs. Then after session ends, in the spring and summer, we will organize larger workforce summits around the state. I’ll invite you so that business and community leaders can come together to review our current efforts, learn about demographic and workforce trends, and so we can learn from them and discuss what we need to do next.
Two years ago, South Dakota WINS initiated some important efforts to address this challenge by strengthening K-12 and tech ed, addressing healthcare shortages, trying to bring more workers to our state, and other efforts. Some of these initiatives have been immediately successful, while a few haven’t worked out as we had hoped. We need to recognize that the challenge of workforce will not be overcome easily, and it won’t be overcome in one year. I hope we will continue to focus on this issue during this legislative session and during the years to come.
Sharing the couch today will be Dan Haugen, who wrote that story. Dan is a freelance journalist currently living in Sioux Falls.
Dan is also a former Argus Leader reporter who is back in Sioux Falls after a tour of duty up in the greater Twin Cities area. In the interim, he’s spent a of time reporting on energy issues, including a recent trip to the Netherlands where he explored the world of European alternative energy.
For reasons I’m not completely in touch with, I have an inordinate interest in how cities are planned and executed.
It’s not like I want to got to public planning school or anything. It’s not an obsession. I just think we can do a better, smarter job of controlling our growth.
My experience over the years is that the people who do this for a living, are pretty smart. They get it. However, they’re trying to get actual people to adapt their lifestyles a bit to make it work. That’s where it often goes wrong.
My guest on today’s show can shed some light on all these things.
Jeff Schmitt is the city’s top planning official. He’s a whip smart dude who has been guiding Sioux Falls growth for quite awhile now.
Our discussion at 3 today will start with a package of stories we ran on Sunday.
I want to talk about how we overcome the suburban mentality that says keep building houses further and further from the core and just drive in. How do we build a city that is more sustainable in the long term?
The old model of suburbanization that drove development for the better part of the 20th century has problems. First, all those roads cost a lot of money. At the same time, people are actually driving less because of the cost of the gas and because young people don’t see it as a necessity.
Mass transit is huge. It has to get better in Sioux Falls.
Other alternative forms — yes, bicycling — must be included in the formula, encouraged, and funded.
I’ll put all those topics to Jeff and see what he has to say about it.
Mr. Lalley, I hold no connection to Mr. T. Denny Sanford, and that’s ok by me. I’m old-fashioned and miss the name of Sioux Valley Hospital. Having written just that pretty much dates me.
Much of what you opined I can agree with, but I have one nagging question which I wish could be posed to the great Mr. S, and that is, with all the wealth, ill-gotten or not, despite all the growth which I must say “enough is enough”, why haven’t you, Mr. S., established an endowment fund which could be ear-marked for folks who need help with costs of treatments; in other words, “pay part of the bills”?
Perhaps another question which is on my mind, considering my affection for a place I support with meager funds, Augustana College, why can’t you, Mr. Sanford, donate some of the millions to the department of science and the department of nursing at that college? The effects of that gift would be far-reaching. When my husband was alive and active as an old-fashioned family doctor in Yankton, earning well enough to donate to Augie, we started two scholarships, one in honor of his parents, and after his death one ear-marked for pre-med, pre-seminary and nursing.
And here’s one from Susan:
I enjoyed your article and find it to be gutsy and truthful.
I hate when people refer to Sioux Falls as Sanford Fall (here in Minneapolis) because it is embarrassing. For some reason, the Minnesotans cant’s stand the man.
Right now I don’t have a guest. It’s a difficult thing to get somebody to come in and take a stand on or talk about it. I’m a columnist so I don’t have those issues. If you want to be that person, let me know at email@example.com.
It’s OK. I can do it by myself and take your questions if I have to.
Here’s a couple of my emails. More to come:
My wife and I grew up in Sioux Falls but for most of the past 40 years have lived in Oklahoma—a sorry state for the progressive-minded. We returned, for good, last summer. Over the course of those 40 years we’ve seen the transition of our hometown from “a nice little town” in which to grow up to “The Best Little City in America”.
Unfortunately, there are some folks here who are envious of Mr. Sanford’s wealth while blindly accepting his overwhelming gifts and the resulting boom. To us, it is the pure trickle-down economics which has resulted from these unsolicited gifts that has directly led to a transformation of this city.
My wife and I wish to say “thank you” to Mr. Sanford and his overwhelming gifts to the people of our hometown.
You hit the nail on the head, especially his making MONEY on the poor. The best donors are those named, A. Nonymous.
But right now I’ll likely shut it down for the rest of the week and come back with the Very Special New Year’s Edition of 100 Eyes.
If there’s some actual news between now and Thursday maybe I’ll reconsider. I’ll certainly let you know if that happens through all the usual channels.
But the likelihood of actual news breaking out over Christmas is pretty remote. And isn’t that just the way it’s supposed to be? Unless of course, like me, you’re in the news business. Come on people, throw me a bone here.
Until then, you’ll just have to make due watching past episodes.
I think it could be an interesting way to talk about the news and issues of the day outside that one hour slot in the day. It’s been a mixed bag in terms of reaction. A few times it’s really taken off. Others not.
One issue is that our live chat software has moderation which means I have to approve all the comments.
Starting today, however, I began approving selected readers for unmoderated chatting. I can approve up to 25 people at any given time. Hoping this allows for more spontaneous conversation even if I’m away from the computer for awhile.
If you want to be approved for this feature you have to pick a handle. I’m still looking around in the software to see if I can more broadly turn off moderation. You’re all good people. I trust you.
I’ve launched the chat for today’s 100 Eyes on this subject and welcome your input. Click here for the livechat. Working on guest who can speak more knowledgeably on the subject.
Also a fifth person was charged in connection with the homicide. That was Austin Hogan of Hartford. He’s 21 years old and his perp walk shot was unusual in that he was displaying emotion.
You don’t see that very often. But then perhaps that’s an indication of how messed up this case is turning out to be. What is going on out there that these young people, just starting their lives, can go so wrong? Nobody’s been convicted of anything but the circumstances we do know suggest a disconnect with mainstream life in Sioux Falls.
However it ends up this is disturbing event. I wrote a column a couple weeks ago on this subject.
Of course, we can also chat about my column in today’s paper about Mayor Mike Huether’s real estate investments. Read that here.
You’ll see some of the same themes from my blog post yesterday on the subject, just developed a little further as I had more time to think about it. But in the end what I’m most concerned about here isn’t so much the individual investments but the threat of a broader breakdown in trust.
There’s already way too much cynicism about our self-government these days. It’s harmful enough when people have lost faith in the governance of the broader republic but if citizens begin to doubt the integrity of their local government you have serious problems.
I’m not saying that has happened in the Best Little City in America. What I am saying is those are the stakes on the table. It’s why we make such a big deal out of stories such as these.
I have maybe a more-than-healthy obsession with what is essentially an artificial, man-made construct of self government. I say artificial not to somehow degrade the beauty of what we’ve created but human history suggest that peaceful coexistence over the long term is an elusive state.
We have a tendency to conflict.
It’s these institutions that we’ve created — the mayor, the governor, the Congress — are what stitch us together in something approaching a civilized manner. We create rules and then enforce them. The underlying thread, however, is that the rules apply to everyone equally.
And not to turn this into class warfare but plainly when the underclasses begin to feel they have no stake in the broader purpose, if they begin to feel the deck is eternally stacked against them they no longer feel beholden to follow the rules.
That’s why I worry about a mayor with financial ties to the movers and shakers in our city. Even the appearance that money buys influence shakes the confidence in self governance.
We need movers and shakers, don’t get me wrong. These are the people who take the risks and push our economic machine forward.
There is a lingering truth, however, that large segments of our community have long believed that the real estate developers and business moguls have enjoyed special treatment from City Hall since long before Mike Huether was even a Sioux Falls resident. There’s no question there are elements of envy or conspiracy in this line of thinking but it’s there.
Ignoring that point of view, pretending that it doesn’t exist, only feeds it and further deepens the perception of a class divide in our community.
Yes, I’m a little bit obsessed with this notion of the fragility of democracy.