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Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan, Yankton, Sept. 30, 2014
Secret Service falls down?on job
Most of us can only imagine how difficult it must be for the U.S. Secret Service to protect the president and his family.
Whenever a president appears in public, the precautions have to be exhaustive and the preparations meticulous. Every threat has to be treated as real. It is an exercise in constant, unblinking, unrelenting vigilance in an atmosphere that is constantly in flux and in locales that present new challenges with every stop.
But the White House should be different. It's home turf, a stable environment, and it should be an impregnable fortress, with every square inch of the place under tight scrutiny.
However, that is apparently not the case.
On Sept. 19, a man jumped the fence at the White House, and the Secret Service reported that an unarmed intruder made it inside the building before he was apprehended...
Except, we learned the next day that the accused intruder was actually carrying a knife...
And now, it was reported Monday that the intruder made it into the East Room, located deep inside the mansion, and near the Green Room before he was apprehended.
So, this individual was able to jump the fence and seriously breach what should have been one of the most secure places in Washington.
The Secret Service should be ashamed and needs to be held accountable not only for its poor security measures but its efforts to sanitize the facts.
Unfortunately, Monday's revelation came on the heels of a Washington Post report over the weekend about a 2011 incident in which shots were fired at the White House. It was reported that the Secret Service did not immediately respond to the report of the incident; the evidence was found four days later when it was discovered that at least one shot broke some glass on the third floor of the White House. Worse, one of the Obamas' children was at the White House at the time of the incident. According to reports, the Obamas were outraged by the incident, as any parent could certainly understand.
But as Americans, we don't understand — and cannot accept — such lapses in the safeguarding of this nation's commander in chief.
The fact that someone would and could take pot shots at the White House is disturbing, but the apparently sloppy way it was handled is unforgivable.
As for the fence-jumper incident last month, this matter is arguably even worse. After all, the Secret Service has one job when it comes to White House security: Don't let anybody in. Unlike coping with teeming crowds and new venues, the White House should be a stronghold. The fact that it apparently is not is damning and alarming.
This must be fixed. And it if means heads must roll within the Secret Service, so be it.
Aberdeen American News, Aberdeen, Oct. 1, 2014
Accusations of plagiarism against candidate Susan Wismer made worse by response
We said it last week about a Republican candidate, now we repeat it this week about a Democratic candidate.
It is foolish to expect a person to follow your advice and ignore your example.
U.S. Senate candidate and former Gov. Mike Rounds recently seemed to be ignoring and backing away from the fact that the Richard Benda and EB-5 foreign investment program issues and problems happened under his watch.
Last week faced with accusations of plagiarism by her campaign, Democratic South Dakota governor candidate Susan Wismer initially told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, "This isn't academia. This is politics. We all do what we can to save time."
She later issued a statement emphasizing the "seriousness of these allegations" and saying she was "disappointed in this situation."
Well, we are disappointed in Wismer and Rounds.
True leaders take responsibility in times of trouble. To us, both of these candidates have laid out a pretty clear road map of how they plan to lead us.
We don't like the looks of either path.
You learn the most about people when they are under distress. That is when a person's true character surfaces.
It is pretty easy to put on a smile and be friendly when we are having a great day. But what about the days when everything seems to be going wrong? Those are the days when people really get to know us.
When confronted by the accusation that was published on BuzzFeed last week, Wismer's first instinct was to play glib. It didn't play well.
Plagiarism is a serious charge and, in a more heated race, would doom a candidate who did everything else right.
Wismer missed a chance to own up to an error, and quickly outline the corrective steps she would take.
Instead, somehow, in a news release hours after her initial statement to the Argus Leader, the candidate from Britton tried to tie the slip to her Republican opponents: "From New Hampshire to Oregon, and Minnesota to New Mexico, Democratic candidates are fighting against the same conservative script, it only makes sense that many candidates will campaign on the same issues."
Wrong answer. Right answer is that someone on your staff screwed up, that's not how you do business, and that staffer is gone.
We are no different than Rounds and Wismer in that we all make mistakes. Those who come around in a few hours with: "My initial reaction was not right ... I made a mistake and I need to take responsibility for that mistake" are the people who minimize their mistakes.
Those who make excuses, say nothing or use words to get around saying "I was wrong" maximize their mistakes.
Wismer made a rookie mistake, and compounded it by shifting blame or blowing the concern off.
We want smart, financially responsible leaders who are quick on their feet, lead by example and who are not afraid to simply say, "I made a mistake."
The Daily Republic, Mitchell, Sept. 24, 2014
EB-5 not a total bust
We're not experts on EB-5.
EB-5, a federal program that lets foreign investors seek United States residency in exchange for at least $500,000 invested in an approved rural project that creates at least 10 jobs, has come under a lot of scrutiny in the past few months. More accurately, it's become South Dakota's biggest political scandal of the last couple years, and it's still unfolding through investigations and legal proceedings.
But despite the reams of copy written about this program and its subsequent fallout, EB-5 and what it actually did still seemed vague and obscured with jargon. Foreign investors spend at least $500,000 on what? American business? OK, what business?
We realize where the money went is part of the ongoing scandal. But a story that started on A1 of Wednesday's edition caught our attention, because it showed just what exactly we and others mean by "investment." Rodney and Dorothy Elliott, dairy farmers from Northern Ireland, were lured to South Dakota by a newspaper ad, The Associated Press reported. The Elliotts moved to South Dakota in 2006.
One of the incentives for them to come here was the money: four foreign investors put up $500,000 each through the EB-5 program. That gave the Elliotts $2 million to expand and grow their operation, Drumgood Dairy, near Lake Norden in rural Hamlin County, on the northeastern side of the state.
"I can honestly say we've had no regrets," Dorothy Elliott told the AP.
Again, we're not experts on EB-5, and it sure seems like the more transparency the better with programs like that. But we do know a little something about how important agriculture is to South Dakota, and dairy is part of that. There were only 273 dairy farms in South Dakota in 2013, according to the South Dakota Department of Agriculture. There were 4,650 in 1981. That's a 94 percent decrease in the number of dairy farms in about 34 years.
Agriculture is still South Dakota's No. 1 industry, but many of the state's smaller rural areas are experiencing painful population decline. That affects every aspect of business.
With the former Northern Beef Packers plant in Aberdeen getting most of the attention in conjunction with EB-5, it's good to hear a different perspective on the program. The AP story reported that most of the 26 businesses identified as EB-5 programs are still open, including the Elliotts' dairy. It's hard to say a program like EB-5 is all bad when there's still a family owned dairy farm near Lake Norden, at least in part because of EB-5 funding. And, still according to the AP, since the dairy created the required number of jobs to qualify for the program, the business' four investors are now U.S. citizens.
If you agree or disagree with the philosophy behind the program, that's one thing. But to say it never worked — meaning it accomplished what it was created to do — doesn't seem quite right.