Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials

8/19/2015 11:30 AM
By Associated Press

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Editors: Please note that The Associated Press welcomes editorial contributions from members for the weekly Editorial Roundup. Three editorials are selected every week. Contributions can be made by email at apsiouxfalls@ap.org.

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Watertown Public Opinion, Watertown, Aug. 19, 2015

Why is Trump leading the GOP field?

You can call Donald Trump anything you want. He's a successful businessman and yet in the eyes of many is seen as a buffoon. He's been a TV personality and entertainer for years and yet is dismissed by many as a blowhard not worth taking seriously. He's a real estate mogul worth billions and laughed at for a comb-over hairstyle that is more comical than practical.

There are more labels that can be applied to Donald Trump than perhaps any other presidential candidate regardless of party affiliation. And the latest is GOP front-runner; a solid front-runner who is still gaining momentum.

Donald Trump has won the trust of many voters on top issues more than any other Republican presidential candidate. Because of that he now stands as the clear leader in the race for the GOP nomination, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. And all this while making one wildly inflammatory statement after another like building a wall to seal off the country's southwestern border and making Mexico pay for it. He also wants to deport the children of illegal immigrants even if those children were born in the United States and are guaranteed citizenship by the U.S. Constitution.

The latest survey finds Trump with the support of 24 percent of Republican registered voters. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is his nearest competitor with 13%. Just behind Bush are retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 9 percent, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with 8 percent each, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 6 percent, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former tech CEO Carly Fiorina and Ohio Gov. John Kasich all at 5 percent, with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee rounding out the top 10 at 4 percent.

Trump's standing jumped 6 points since July according to the first nationwide CNN/ORC poll since the top candidates debated in Cleveland on Aug. 6. Carson gained 5 points and Fiorina 4 points. Trump has also boosted his favorability numbers among Republicans and Republican-leaning voters with 58 percent now having a favorable view of Trump. That figure stood at 50 percent in the July survey.

So why with all of his bombast, lack of specifics or any real vision other than to say whatever pops into his head, is Trump drawing such strong numbers? Why do so many people seem to believe he should be the next president of the United States?

Because he's different and not worried about offending people or being politically correct. Plus, he has plenty of money of his own to fund his campaign and doesn't need to be beholding to outside political or special interest groups. In other words, he's not for sale; at least he says he's not. He clearly dances to his own tune.

Americans have been frustrated with our political system for years because nothing ever seems to get done. The people we send to Capitol Hill seem more interested in raising money to get re-elected than solving the nation's problems. And many people believe that, regardless of party affiliation, we keep sending the same type of people back to Washington and yet somehow expect different results.

Chances are Trump's bluster will eventually wear out. As the field starts narrowing support for other candidates will grow and sooner or later Trump will have to start providing specifics about how he's going to do what he says he's going to do and how he's going to pay for it. Whether or not he has a plan that makes sense is open for debate.

Until then, however, a man made famous by his TV catch phrase "You're fired" and a bad comb-over hair style is leading the Republican presidential field. Only in politics could a man considered by many as a blowhard and buffoon also be seen as a breath of fresh air.

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Aberdeen American News, Aberdeen, Aug. 19, 2015

Fair ticket fixes still needed

Why do grandstand tickets continue to vex the Brown County Fair?

Last year, an outside vendor was used for fair ticketing, and some people ended up with fraudulent charges on their credit cards.

While sales this year through an in-house system seem to have worked well enough, now the distribution of tickets has irked some fairgoers.

At issue is the ticket allotment for the Dacotah Stampede Rodeo. One of two rodeo nights is included with weeklong passes to grandstand entertainment.

When buying package tickets, customers are not prompted to pick the Monday or Tuesday rodeo session, even though only one is included in the package. They can go to whichever night of rodeo is convenient or preferred.

You can see where this is going.

History tells us that Tuesday night is more popular than the Monday night rodeo.

So, on Tuesday, people looking to buy single-night $12 tickets were turned away, though weeklong general admission passes were still available for $55.

"The single-night tickets go on sale at the same time as the other tickets," county commission Chairman Duane Sutton told us during fair week. "You have a certain amount of uncertainty. You're rolling the dice those two nights" as to how many people show up.

This seems like a problem that could be avoided.

Fair manager Karla Pfeifer had it right when she told reporter Kelda Pharris: "I understand people were frustrated, and I apologize for that . I encourage people to purchase their rodeo tickets in advance."

But it goes beyond that simple, common sense suggestion.

The fair really does need to make ticketing a breeze.

Success in purchasing tickets or ticket packages seems to demand knowledge of Monday and Tuesday rodeo attendance; knowledge that the Wednesday night concert is not included in a weeklong ticket pack; and knowledge of the fair's "that's how we've always done it" mentality.

There are some simple options the fair should explore:

— Formalize rodeo ticket nights in all packages. At the time of purchase, patrons should pick Monday or Tuesday, no matter the package. Once ticket packs for one night are gone, they're gone.

— It could be time to build the Wednesday night performance into fair ticket packages (and adjust prices accordingly), at least if the fair board is going to oversee the event.

— Stop selling package tickets once the fair starts. Pre-sale is just that: pre-sale. At the time of the event — in this case, the start of the fair — it should be single-ticket purchases only.

This could allow the fair time to print enough single tickets for the remaining seats at the grandstand events. It would also encourage folks to buy their tickets in advance for the maximum savings.

— While it may be unpopular, do not sell tickets at any vendor that does not take credit cards or cannot accurately sell the all different ticket options.

This is the biggest fair in the region, with tens of thousands of visitors, and business is still being conducted in a cash-consignment fashion? That's got to stop.

— Finally, the fair should test its online ticketing system. See about getting outside consultants to walk through every step of the process, find any friction points for customers and eliminate them. Make this simple.

We won't suggest selling fair tickets through Ticketmaster, but if this event is as big as everyone thinks it is, it's time to quit shortchanging the way tickets are sold.

Some of the particulars of Brown County Fair ticket sales are weird, but are considered tradition. Unfortunately, clumsy ticketing problems could become the new tradition if care isn't taken now.

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The Capital Journal, Pierre, Aug. 18, 2015

4-H is a great program, but county is right to ask for justification

What are we to make of the Hughes County Commission's discussion this week of possibly cutting county spending for the 4-H program?

Hughes County pays about $75,000 of the $94,000 it takes to operate the 4-H office in Fort Pierre, with the rest coming from Stanley and Sully counties. 4-H, of course, is a youth program that gets young people involved in everything from raising livestock and competing in rodeo to practicing archery, shooting rockets and learning how to speak in public. It's one of the few strong ties our cities still have to agriculture.

On one hand, to cut that program would be a blow to a tradition that is deeply rooted in the heartland and enthusiastically supported by families — some of whom have been 4-H participants for generations now. The 4-H program began with youth clubs in Clark County, Ohio, in 1902, though Douglas County, Minnesota was forming agricultural clubs that same year. The clover pin logo with an "H'' on each leaf dates from 1910, a 4-H website says, and the term "4-H club" was in use by 1912. The clubs became part of the Cooperative Extension Service soon after that organization was created by Congress in 1914.

On the other hand, a rich history doesn't mean a lavish future. There is simply less public money to go around, and Hughes County commissioners have made, we think, a reasonable request. 4-H leaders in Hughes County need to provide "justification" about why 4-H is a good way to spend county dollars.

The sad thing is, we think the voters of Hughes County — by refusing to do what American citizens traditionally have done and tax themselves to pay for the public goods they need — have made it harder for Hughes County to pay for the extras such as 4-H.

Consider that in 2012, the Hughes County Commission proposed an increase in the county wheel tax to raise an additional $175,000 for the county roads we all drive on; but we voted it down. That's not completely unrelated to Hughes County commissioners' concern about how to spend $75,000 now. Given the new patriotism of some Americans — no taxation with or without representation — elected boards such as the Hughes County Commission are forced to make cuts to valuable programs because their finances are spread thinner and thinner. Could it be that the effects of telling ourselves for the past 25 years that we were paying too much in taxes and the government is the enemy is coming home to roost? Is that why we have nothing extra to spend on our kids?

You would look long and hard to find someone who doesn't see the value of 4-H. But maybe we're wrong to think of it as exclusively a public responsibility. Maybe private industry should help foot the bill. Could a company or companies sponsor Hughes County's 4-H program? Certainly there are some industries that have profited from tax dollars over the years. Maybe it's time they give back to the public by supporting this program that will help groom the next generation of good citizens. As some thoughtful souls have observed from time to time, the real sophistication of a society is shown by how we treat other people's children. It's more of an investment than a cost.


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