Posts Tagged ‘agriculture

10
Jan
14

Jackley to release Benda info to auditor general

PIERRE, S.D – Attorney General Jackley announces that the Attorney General and the Auditor General today filed a joint motion with the Sixth Circuit Court. This joint motion requested a court order authorizing the Attorney General to lawfully release criminal investigative and state grand jury information in the custody of the Attorney General to the Department of Legislative Audit.

“The Legislature and our courts have set limitations on a prosecutor’s ability to release criminal justice information, and I do believe that privacy protections provided by our laws are important and worthy considerations,” stated Attorney General Jackley. “Disclosure of the Benda criminal investigation matters to our State’s Auditor General for a lawful purpose is and should be occurring through proper procedures, not as some suggest by dangerously giving prosecutors unlimited authority to release criminal investigations that may involve innocent witnesses or suspects.”

The release of the documents and information is for the purpose of assisting the Auditor General in completing the Department of Legislative Audit’s financial and compliance audit of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) for the period of FY2010 through FY2013. Under South Dakota law, the Department of Legislative Audit has authority to obtain access to financial records that are in the custody of state agencies in order to perform its auditing activities. The Auditors for the Department of Legislative Audit have determined that the Attorney General may have financial records and information pertinent to the GOED audit in the following areas:

  •   Reimbursements to former Department of Tourism and State Development Secretary Richard Benda regarding trips to China that were paid from state funds and from the Expense Fund maintained by South Dakota Regional Center, Inc. (SDRC), which under the agreement between GOED and SDRC are state funds.
  •   The flow of the $1,000,000 Future Fund Grant monies from the Office of Governor to Northern Beef Packers Limited Partnership (“Northern Beef”); the flow of $550,000 of those monies subsequently transferred by Northern Beef to SDRC; and how the $550,000 was used by SDRC.
  •   Other grants, loans or payments made to Northern Beef by the GOED or any other state agency, directly or through the South Dakota Development Corporation (a nonprofit corporation affiliated with GOED and staffed by GOED employees).
 The Auditor General anticipated that some of the financial documentation and information contained in the investigation file and obtained by agents in the course of their investigation are not available from other state agencies or third parties, and that the release of such documentation would also eliminate duplication.

The Court has issued an Order allowing the Attorney General to release the Division of Criminal Investigation Reports reasonably necessary for completion of the Department of Legislative Audit’s financial and compliance audit of GOED, consistent with the Attorney General and Auditor General’s joint motion. The Court noted “This Order neither increases nor decreases any statutory requirements of confidentiality; all such provisions remain in effect. The Order simply allows these two agencies to share information in the exercise of their respective duties.” The Court further made clear that “except to the extent any information is necessary for inclusion in the Department of Legislative Audit’s public audit document, all documents and information obtained under this Order shall be held confidential and only accessed by the Auditor General and those members of his staff that are part of the GOED audit.”

12
Dec
13

Rep. Kathy Tyler Renews Request for an Independent Forensic Audit from Executive Board

Sioux Falls, SD (December 11) – Rep. Kathy Tyler (D-Big Stone City) plans to ask the state legislature’s executive board to authorize an independent forensic audit of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) overseeing the controversial EB-5 program after her call for a special session did not garner enough signatures.

Tyler released the following statement today:

“While I’m disappointed that two-thirds of the state legislators did not want a special session to follow the money associated with the EB-5 program, Northern Beef Packers, and the GOED, I am pleased at the amount of bipartisan support that there is for an investigation of the EB-5 program and the GOED.

“Many legislators told me they too want answers to the many questions raised about the EB-5 program  but that a special session wasn’t the right venue, and I understand that. They pointed to an article by South Dakota government reporter Bob Mercer, which laid out how the state legislature’s executive board, which has subpoena and summons powers, can authorize an investigation.

“ I had, in fact, already followed Mr. Mercer’s advice. I asked to be placed on the agenda of the November 18th executive board meeting; however, the board rejected my request because of ongoing state investigations. With state investigations closed, we’re now left with more questions than answers.

“Because of continuing bipartisan support for an investigation of the South Dakota’s EB-5 program and its projects, I’m renewing my request for an independent forensic audit at the next executive board meeting on Monday, December 16.

“The more I research the issues and the more people I visit, the more I see the necessity of an independent forensic audit of the entire program and its projects. The $550,000 stolen from the state Future Funds program is just the tip of the iceberg; South Dakota citizens have lost millions of dollars and deserve to know where their money went. It’s our responsibility to find the answers; let’s get to the bottom of this once and for all.”

Kathy Tyler

State Representative

48170 144th St

Big Stone City, SD 57216

605.237.0228

rep.tyler@state.sd.us

www.facebook.com/tylerfordistrict4

27
Nov
13

Death certificate: Benda used stick to push trigger

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The death certificate for former state economic development director Richard Benda says he shot himself by pushing the trigger with a stick.

The Argus Leader obtained the document Wednesday (http://argusne.ws/1gjA6yy ).

The certificate says Benda secured the shotgun against a tree and used a stick to press the trigger and shoot himself in the abdomen.

Benda was found Oct. 22 in a grove of trees near Lake Andes, in southeast South Dakota.

Attorney General Marty Jackley announced autopsy results last week indicating it was suicide.

Benda served as secretary of Tourism and State Development from 2006 to 2010 under former Gov. Mike Rounds.

State investigators say that during that time, Benda double-billed the state for three flights, valued at about $5,500.

He also was the loan monitor for Northern Beef Packers.

___

Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

10
Oct
13

Enough misery to go around

Aircraft of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) took to the skies earlier this week to resume their survey over the highways in western South Dakota that were hard hit by last weekend’s snowstorm. CAP aircrews are pinpointing locations where dead livestock are obstructing state highways or are in highway right-of-ways. This information is relayed to the state’s Department of Public Safety so that crews can be sent to remove the carcasses. This mission, which began Tuesday, Oct. 9, continued through Oct. 10 and may be extended depending on the extent of the area the SDWG aircrews can cover and the weather conditions. In addition, South Dakota Wing has received a mission from Pennington County’s Office of Emergency Management to survey the county’s roads and rights-of-way in the northern part of the county for deceased livestock so that crews can be sent to remove those carcasses. This is one of several photos taken during the CAP aerial survey of state highway rights-of-way. (Courtesy of South Dakota Department of Public Safety)

Aircraft of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) took to the skies earlier this week to resume their survey over the highways in western South Dakota that were hard hit by last weekend’s snowstorm.
CAP aircrews are pinpointing locations where dead livestock are obstructing state highways or are in highway right-of-ways. This information is relayed to the state’s Department of Public Safety so that crews can be sent to remove the carcasses. This mission, which began Tuesday, Oct. 9, continued through Oct. 10 and may be extended depending on the extent of the area the SDWG aircrews can cover and the weather conditions.
In addition, South Dakota Wing has received a mission from Pennington County’s Office of Emergency Management to survey the county’s roads and rights-of-way in the northern part of the county for deceased livestock so that crews can be sent to remove those carcasses. This is one of several photos taken during the CAP aerial survey of state highway rights-of-way. (Courtesy of South Dakota Department of Public Safety)

By David Lias

It’s been a tough week in South Dakota.

A freak blizzard that moved into western South Dakota dumped up to four feet of snow in some areas of our state. It was followed by the unusually mild weather our part of the Midwest continues to enjoy this autumn, and the scene that is emerging is not pretty.

Some producers lost up to half of their herds and early estimates listed herd losses in western South Dakota to be five percent of the total cattle supply.

New reports Tuesday list cattle losses at 60,000 head. That was the first of a one-two punch ranchers and other ag producers have received recently thanks to Washington’s inability to pass a new farm bill. The Livestock Indemnity Program in place to limit the losses cattle producers incur from natural disasters expired with the 2008 farm bill on Oct.1, the first day of the government shutdown.

I mention this out of fear that South Dakota cattlemen may be forgotten as the nation focuses most of its attention on what it perceives to be a much greater problem: The Badlands (gasp) are closed.

How will we survive, not only as a state, but also as a nation, as this travesty unfolds?

I urge everyone to keep those cattlemen in mind, for they can provide a vital role during these tough times.

You’ve probably seen the photo of a vacationer hurling a traffic cone in the air at the Badlands in an act of great defiance to Ted Cruz John Boehner the mainstream media Fox News President Obama.

I mean, it must be Obama’s fault, right? After all, he signed the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, during his first term in office after Congress passed it. His signature turned the proposal he introduced and Congress approved for health care reform in the United States from an idea into a law that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld as constitutional.

A major provision of the law kicked in on Oct. 1. In great preparation for this day that will live in infamy, the Republican-run House, in late September, ignored a White House veto threat and used a near party-line 230-189 vote to approve legislation denying money for much of the health care law while keeping the government open through Dec. 15. That measure then moved to the Democratic-led Senate.

That inspired tea party Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and other conservatives to speak on the chamber’s floor for more than 21 consecutive hours against Obamacare. It didn’t really stop what everyone was predicting all along – the Senate voted 79-19 to end conservative efforts to derail the bill preventing a shutdown, with all Democrats and most Republicans opposing the conservatives. The Senate used a party-line 54-44 vote to remove the House-approved provision defunding Obamacare, and an identical 54-44 vote to approve the overall bill. The bill, financing agencies through Nov. 15, went back to the House.

Just after midnight on Sunday morning Sept. 29, the House used a rare and lengthy weekend session to shift its demands for restricting Obamacare. By a near party-line 231-192 vote, the House voted to delay implementation of the health care law by a year. It also voted 248-174 to repeal a tax on many medical devices that helps pay for the health care overhaul. The votes sent the revamped shutdown bill back to the Senate.

On the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 30, the Senate removed the House provisions postponing Obamacare and erasing the medical device tax. The shutdown bill moved back to the House. That night, the House approves a new shutdown bill with different demands on Obamacare. It would delay for a year the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance, and require members of Congress and their staff to pay the full cost of health insurance, without the government paying part of the costs. The measure bounced to the Senate.

Later Monday night, the Senate voted 54-46 to strip the House provisions on individual health insurance and federal health coverage subsidies for lawmakers and staff. The bill returned to the House.

On Tuesday, Oct. 1, the federal government’s new fiscal year began. With no spending legislation enacted, a partial federal shutdown begins to take effect. Early Tuesday morning, the House voted to stand by its earlier decision, and requests formal negotiations with the Senate. Even later that morning, the Senate rejected the House effort for formal bargaining.

And that’s why the national parks are closed.

To review, the House tried to defund Obamacare. When that measure went to the Senate, it was rejected, and replaced with a bill that would fund all government agencies through Nov. 15. That prompted the House to try to delay Obamacare for a year. Which caused the Senate to remove those provisions. The House reacted by approving a new shutdown bill with different demands on Obamacare, those demands were rejected by the Senate, so no new legislation that authorizes spending for this fiscal year is approved by Congress.

I guess that’s why the traffic cones put in place to block access to the Badlands are all Obama’s fault.

I hope the vacationer who smugly threw the traffic cone continued his journey in West River to visit ranch country, and help a livestock producer count his dead cattle and calves as their bodies emerge from the melting snow. I’m certain the rancher, in his friendly South Dakota manner, would commiserate as he hears the vacationer’s tale of woe of being denied access to a park.

Oh, and The Hill, a newspaper that reports on the happenings in Washington, is reporting that a private gym used exclusively by members of the U.S. House is still open, but because of the shutdown, members of Congress have to pick up their own towels. In fact, members not only have to pick up their towels – they have to reuse them for their showers, because there is no more laundering service.

Such hardship. I’m sure West River South Dakotans will provide wide shoulders for House members to cry on.




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