Can you believe the first decade of the 21st century is over?
Before moving on to 2011, let's recall some of the memorable moments of 2010.
- The Journal's top story for 2010 was Republican Kristi Noem's defeat of incumbent Stephanie Herseth Sandlin for South Dakota's lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives. It was a big story all right, but it was only a piece of the larger story, in President Barack Obama's words, of the "shellacking" Democrats across the country endured.
The Dems reached too far with all their takeovers, bailouts, failed economic stimulus, high unemployment while threatening job creators (i.e., small business) with higher taxes and more regulations, and so on. Their deafness to what was important to the American people - economy, economy, economy - swept many incumbent politicians aside, including Herseth Sandlin, whose moderate Blue Dog politics couldn't save her from defeat.
y The cancellation of the Fourth of July fireworks at Mount Rushmore National Memorial was another big story that reminded everyone of how great an impact the pine beetle infestation is having on the Black Hills forest. Because of the fear of possible wildfires among dead timber due to the fireworks, a major tourism event may be gone for good.
A few years ago I came across a busload of Japanese tourists at the Mule Creek Junction (Wyo.) rest area, one of whom told me they were on their way to Mount Rushmore to see the fireworks. Fourth of July at Mount Rushmore had gone international -- and is irreplaceable.
y A harbinger of things to come was the Public Utilities Commission OK'ing a 12.7 percent rate increase after the utility asked for a 26.6 percent increase to cover anticipated rising electricity demand and higher generation costs. Energy is only going to get more expensive as personal electronic devices become more numerous.
Despite public perception, renewable energy is more expensive than coal or natural gas power plants, and utilities like BH Power will be required by the federal government to develop more costly renewable energy projects in the future. On Christmas Eve -- do you think they're trying to keep this quiet? -- the EPA announced it would ignore Congress and implement tougher regulations on industries that discharge greenhouse gases as a threat to human health -- such as carbon dioxide that trees and plants crave and humans exhale. Of course, that will further increase the cost of energy.
y One of the most bizarre events last year was the censure of Ward 2 Alderman Sam Kooiker by his Rapid City council colleagues. His "crime"? Asking too many questions of city employees about city operations. The action incensed many residents who see nothing wrong with their elected representatives digging into how city departments are using taxpayer money. The aldermen who voted for censure and faced re-election either decided not to run or lost to challengers.
y Adding to farcical nature of 2010, John Tyner of San Diego was on his way to hunt pheasants in South Dakota in November when the Transportation Safety Administration implemented another layer of airline security procedures that included a full body scan or a pat-down by TSA agents. Tyner opted for the search and told the TSA agent: "Don't touch my junk." Tyner didn't make it to South Dakota.
Let's hope 2011 has more highlights than lowlights.
Happy New Year!
Contact Randall Rasmussen at email@example.com.