Monday, December 7, 2009

Bear Butte

Well, this should get really interesting. See my emails below to the Meade County Commissioners. It appears I maybe correct in the fact that they have no formal guidelines in their policy making.


FORMAL REQUEST: Documentation on Meade County Regulations for "Not a Suitable Location"
Importance: High

Commissioner Aker,

I realize that you are a new Commissioner as of this last year. I am concerned that you could make your ruling on approving these licenses surrounding Bear Butte without fully being aware of what the guidelines and basis for approval or denial even are.

Here is the info as per South Dakota Legislative Research Council’s Memo 94-32 “A SUMMARY OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE LICENSING PROVISIONS”
"depending on whether" the secretary or governing board "deems the applicant a suitable person to hold such license and whether" the secretary or governing board "considers the proposed location suitable.
" SDCL 35-2-1.1 and 35-2-1.2.

35-2-1.2. Applications submitted to local governing board--Fee--Approval or disapproval. Any application for a retail license, except as set forth in § 35-2-1.1, shall be submitted to the governing board of the municipality within which the applicant intends to operate, or if outside the corporate limits of a municipality, to the board of county commissioners of the county in which the applicant seeks to operate. The application shall be accompanied by the required fee. The governing board may approve or disapprove the application depending on whether the governing board deems the applicant a suitable person to hold the license and whether the governing board considers the proposed location suitable.
Source: SDC 1939, §§ 5.0206, 5.0305; SL 1945, ch 21, § 1; SL 1951, ch 11; SDC Supp 1960, § 5.0204 (14); SL 1961, ch 14; SL 1964, ch 9; SL 1965, ch 12; SDCL §§ 35-4-32, 35-4-33, 35-6-15; SL 1971, ch 211, § 13; SL 2008, ch 37, § 140.
So what you are stating is that MCC does NOT have a written policy on what classifies as “not a suitable location?”

Chairman Mallow very clearly stated in the hearing in June 2008 that if the location was next to a church or school, the location could potentially be denied a license.

If there is no written factors for this stipulation, then what basis has the Commissioners been using all this time in their determinations? There has to be some legal guidelines used in rulings.

Again, I am requesting the documentation on this provision.

I do not feel that I need to make an appointment to be on an agenda to discuss this issue. It should be something that the Commissioners have upon request of the voters, since they have been ruling on it for five years!

Tamra Brennan
Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation

Hello Tamra,

I'm sure others can correct anything incorrect in the following reply:

* Meade County has not adopted formal criteria for "suitable location" for a liquor or been license.
* Meade County has not adopted a policy that proximity to churches shall be considered in issuing such licenses.
* Meade County has not adopted a definition of "church" for alcohol licensing purposes.

It has been our practice that any Meade County resident can have a scheduled block of time on an upcoming agenda to discuss issues pertinent to county government. I cannot guarantee that our chairman would allow this topic on our agenda. Our practice has been that those desiring time on our agenda make that request to Joell Romick, and I have added her to the cc line of this message. There is no guarantee that the commission would adopt any particular policy or any policy at all, even if the matter were taken up as an agenda item. The vast majority of South Dakota counties make decisions on the suitability of the location of liquor licenses without such formal policies. If you choose to ask for agenda time, I recommend you have a written proposal for the commission to consider.


Alan Aker
Meade County Commissioner
District 4

On Dec 3, 2009, at 10:29 PM, wrote:

December 3, 2009

Meade County Commissioners
1425 Sherman St.
Sturgis, SD 57785

To: Meade County Commissioners Cammack, Creed, Hammock, Aker and Mallow, States Attorney Ken Chleborad, Auditor Lisa Schieffer:
CC: via online web contact forms: Governor Rounds, US Senator Tim Johnson, US Senator John Thune, State Senator Bradford, SD Legislator Representative’s Wink, Rhoden, Brunner, Hereseth, Adelstein, Killer, Iron Cloud

On Wednesday, December 2nd Meade County Commissioners held a hearing for the retail on-sale liquor/package liquor licenses renewals for venues surrounding Bear Butte, including Glencoe, Full Throttle, Monkey Rock, Buffalo Chip and Broken Spoke Campground. All five locations renewals were ultimately approved.

As we have clearly stated over the past four years of opposition, Bear Butte is a sacred site and we oppose any liquor licenses being approved surrounding the mountain.

During my testimony of opposition to the renewal of these licenses, I again requested further clarification in which licenses would be denied based upon “location,” in addition to defining the classification for a location being within the boundaries of a church or school.

The Meade County Commissioners distinct stipulation, “not a suitable location” is one of two stipulations that would disqualify a location or person from approval of an alcohol or liquor license in Meade County.

Instead of a response, I received blank stares and NO RESPONSE or acknowledgement from any of the five Commissioners. I repeated my request again, after a few moments Commissioner Aker stated he would respond to my request after all the testimony was completed.My request was NEVER answered by the Commissioners during the hearing.

This complete disregard, non response or acknowledgment of this question was extremely disrespectful and unacceptable. Residents and voters are entitled to a responsible response from the Commissioners, when we are questioning the clarification of your policies.

In June 2008 at the Meade County Commissioners meeting, I questioned the Commission regarding the clarification on the “location” classification, and how they determined this qualification.

Commissioner Mallow responded that if the location was near a church or school, the application would potentially be denied.

My response was these locations are near a church, Bear Butte has been considered a church by Native people for thousands of years. Our church is the mountain and mother earth. It is where we go to pray and to seek guidance from the Creator. Our church is not in a building on a street corner, it is the mountain. It is a church, just as much as yours.

Commissioner Mallow’s only response was, “I will not debate religion with you, Bear Butte or this location does not qualify within the County guidelines of a church.” End of discussion. Refusing to continue the conversation or provide a reasonable explanation for this ludicrous and insulting statement.

If the Commissioners are going to uphold these two distinct stipulations, they are required to clearly define with specific documented legal details, WHY Bear Butte does not qualify for “not a suitable location.” This question has yet to be answered in four years of questioning.

For clarification, I am formally requesting in writing as a local resident and voter, the Meade County Commissioners address the following points in detail with codes, ordinance info or applicable legal documentation to back up the stipulation. The because we say so, is no longer acceptable, legal documentation to back up your decision is hereby requested.

Clearly define:

“not a suitable location”

What basis a license would be denied based upon the criteria of “not a suitable location”

If within a distance of a church or school is in fact a basis of denial for location, clarify the distance of this requirement. Also clarify the definition of church within the ordinance or code.

Please respond in writing via email to by close of business Tuesday, December 15, 2009.

Tamra Brennan
Protect Sacred Sites Indigenous People, One Nation

Whereas traditional American Indian ceremonies have been intruded upon, interfered with, and in a few instances banned;…………… "Joint Resolution American Indian Religious Freedom", approved August 11, 1978 (42 U.S.C. 1996),
Whereas the United States has traditionally rejected the concept of a government denying individuals the right to practice their religion, and as a result, has benefited from a rich variety of religious heritages in this country; ;……… “Joint Resolution American Indian Religious Freedom”, approved August 11, 1978 (42 U.S.C. 1996),

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