I think this is more sucked in by a black hole than shooting by us as a rising star.

Today as I sit at my computer in Brookings doing laundry, I had a comment placed under the recent post I did on rising stars in politics noting that we have "a new rising star." And apparently he's so new that no one has ever heard of him:
Charlie Johnson is a grassroots rising star!
Monday, November 20, 2006

Charlie Johnson of the Alliance for Our Future today challenged the governor's Constitutional Commission to themselves collect signatures to put their proposals on the ballot.

"I dare any of the commission members to take any of their predetermined measures and personally stand in front of courthouses and post offices to collect the required amount of signatures rather than having a governor-led legislature put their measure on the ballot for them."

Johnson has co-chaired several statement initiatives and referendums relating to preserving family farming and rural democracy. He accused the Constitutional Commission meeting Monday in Sioux Falls of trying to put up roadblocks to the referendum and initiative.

"One of the recommendations is that before an initiative can be started and circulated, it must be brought before a public hearing. This commission seeks to cover up inaction by a governor-led legislature to tackle important issues for this state by throwing up bigger and bigger hurdles for the initiative and referral process."

"To throw up bigger roadblocks for the referral and initiative process will not prevent well financed out-of-state special interests from getting issues on the ballot. Only grass roots efforts led by average South Dakotans will be the issues that suffer."

"Some say there were too many issues on the ballot last election." Johnson notes that three of the issues were placed on the ballot by the governor-led legislature, two issues were placed by out-of-state interest (Amendment E and cell phone tax), and the abortion ban was a measure passed by the legislature and then referred. Out of 11 issues on the ballot, only 5 were put on the ballot a least in part by South Dakotans. Voting on five South Dakota measures is not
asking too much of the process."

"Any commission member or legislator who thinks the signatures of 5% of the voters is easy to get should try it themselves. We'll gladly hand them all the clipboards they want."
So aside from the fact that Charlie doesn't like a couple of the proposals this bi-partisan commission came up with, somebody fancies Charlie a rising grassroots star? Like I said, I'd never heard of him, and I don't suspect many others had as well. So I did a little research on him and the Alliance for Our Future. And what did I find?
Groups and individuals are invited to join the network if they pledge to support four goals:
(1) The right of local citizens to refer a controversial livestock permit to a vote
(2). to oppose Industrial Agriculture
(3) to protect our natural resources
(4) to promote authentic family farming
Okay, so Charlie is part of the anti-large farm operation movement. And who has he hitched his rising star to?

groups and individuals who have joined

Charlie Johnson (I notice that he put his name first)
Clean Water Action Alliance
South Dakota Resources Coalition
I-29ers for Quality of Life
South Dakota Peace & Justice
Citizens for a Cleaner Lincoln County
Wolf Creek Coalition (Hutchinson County)
Jerry Munson, former mayor of Rapid City
Senator Clarence Kooistra
Senator Frank Kloucek
Representative Gerry Lange
former legislator Bob Weber
former U.S. Senator James Abourezk

You know, looking at the list, with Clarence Kooistra, Gerry Lange, Bob Weber, and the South Dakota Peace and Justice Center, I think it's less that he'd be considered a rising star, as much as being considered an activist about to be sucked into a black hole of mediocrity.



Charlie Johnson is not a rising start but a well estbablished star in the state's grassroots progressive movement. Those of us on the left who have been involved in environmental and farm issues well know Charlie and his hard work. He is no crank but a true believer in empowering all South Dakotans.

I think you have dismissed Charlie out of hand without doing enough research on him or his causes. He is a "player."

Also, I don't agree with the "bi-partisan" commission's recommendatinos either on initiative and referrendum. Bad ideas don't suddenly become good just because you stick the "bi-partisan" label on them. Sounds like we have another issue to debate on http://ldrdsd.blogstpot.com!

Charlie is someone you and the rest of the state should know, whether you agree with him or not.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and our fellow Collegians.

Todd Epp
Anonymous said…
Charlie was largely responsible for the passage of Amendment E in the late 90's, and the defeat of Amendment A in 2002 - even though the Legislature hurried the issue on to the June ballot in an effort to hinder the No on A's campaign to defeat the thing.

So, in the last 10 years Charlie and company have persuaded SD voters to "override" the will of the legislature, 2 Governors, the Sec. of Ag, the Assoc. of Investor Owned Utilities, FB, COTEL, and a few more organizations. While raising and spending a fraction of the groups on the other side of the issues.

I wouldn't be so glib about not knowing who is he.
Um "star," not "start." And "recommendations" not recommendatinos," which must be some Italian version of the word. Vacation typing strikes again!
PP said…
I might have been a little harsh, but saying someone is a star accompanied by their press release will have a tendency to do that, if just to balance the hype.

And I wouldn't brag about the 90's amendment E - you know, the measure found unconstitutional.
Nicholas Nemec said…
I've known about Charlie Johnson for at least 14 years. He is a farmer from Lake County.

I doubt he has any interest in running for statewide office but he is the kind of grassroots player you want on your team. While he may be guiet and underspoken, he is whip smart with the tenacity of a pitbull and the memory of an elephant. Charlie is willing to fight hard til the end for a cause he belives in.

PP, you really should know Charlie. While he is no showboat he is a true workhorse who is unafraid to work hard to make South Dakota a better place.
Douglas said…
Judge Kornman's logic for overturning amendment E was more than passing strange. It appears if the rich and powerful want something it is possible to find some rag of law to hang any kind of decision on.

Turning over monitoring of stink and gases from factory farm animal prisons is absurd if they have no tools for monitoring the stench. Other states try to tie measurements to some objective standards and tests.

And, opposing something the Farm Bureaus supports doesn't automagically make that opposition wrong.

All those in favor of stench, water and air pollution and economic devastation of family farms stand up now for corporate farms.
Anonymous said…
When I saw the list of "groups or individuals who have joined," I thought I was reading the cast of Looney Toons, and I swear I could even hear the jingle. "Goofy" and "Daffy" are accounted for on the list....and then some!
Anonymous said…
I think it is worth noting that the Constitutional Revision Commission was created by the Legislature, not the governor.

I also think it is bizarre for criticizing them for not collecting signetures. No, they PASS IT THROUGH THE LEGISLATURE. I can't believe anyone thinks that is a somehow illegitimate way to pass laws!
Anonymous said…
Shame on you PP and yes you were a little too harsh - you should have signed it PU. Half the people slobbered about on that thread could skewered on any number of points - including your GOP darlings. People expect you to be partisian but with some measure of balance - not reationary and paranoid. Your readers expect better.
VJ said…
Clarence Kooistra, Gerry Lange, Bob Weber, and the South Dakota Peace and Justice Center.

Enough said!
Anonymous said…
It's sad that you can't oppose his ideas without insulting he and a lot of other hard-working, committed individuals. If their results are mediocre, it is partly because the rest of the state is so apathetic. Their ideas are at the forefront in many areas, and they work harder than most of us for public service.
PP said…
Anon 8:21, are you serious? Because if you are, you're on crack.

It isn't that the ideas of Clarence Kooistra, Gerry Lange, and Bob Weber can't succeed because people are apathetic. It's because they're goofy.

If we were the type of that would elect them, SD would have two colleges. On for Agriculture and one for alchemy.
Anonymous said…
"Your readers expect better."

No we don't. We expect low quality writing and extreme Republican party hackery.

And PP never fails to deliver.
PP said…
And anon 9:16, thanks for your continued patronage, despite your distaste for reasonable conservative politics.
Anonymous said…
The rising star from Dis. 5 has to be Nancy Turbak. She has been doing her home work before going to Pierre. She met with the Codington County Commissioners to find out what the problem is with the 150% rule and property taxes. Big article in the Watertown rag, making the headlines. Watch this gal go to work!
Anonymous said…
Wow! She met with the commissioners! What a novel idea for a legislator! I bet Arnold or Konold would have never thought of that! Watch her like you watch Hillary, in fear of what she'll do next!
Anonymous said…
11:54 Life is terrible when you live in constant fear of the boogie(wo)man. Maybe you should take some prozac to ease your mind. Or move to Canada.

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