Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials

6/20/2014 6:15 AM
By Associated Press

Aberdeen American News, Aberdeen, June 19, 2014

Pheasants Forever welcomed in S.D.

When we say "pheasants," you say... "Brookings?"

While we would like to think of the Aberdeen area as ground zero for pheasant hunting, our whole state — yes, even Brookings — has an interest in the sport.

That's why we were so pleased to learn that the Minnesota-based Pheasants Forever organization will be opening a regional headquarters in Brookings.

Well, our first thought was "Pheasants Forever hasn't been in South Dakota before?"

The brand name of the group, which promotes habitat conservation, is synonymous with the birds and the sport. Many South Dakotans participate in Pheasants Forever or at least wear the gear with the distinctive Pheasants Forever logo.

Their brick-and-mortar presence in South Dakota is important.

Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever's vice president of government affairs, will be the point person in Brookings. Nomsen has worked on the Farm Bill for several years and is keenly interested in the Conservation Reserve Program.

Now his ties to South Dakota — which he describes as "the premier destination for pheasant hunting... for 100 years" — are even stronger.

The Pheasants Forever move comes at an interesting time.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard's South Dakota Pheasant Habitat Workgroup has been tasked with improving pheasant habitat in ways that are compatible with ag production. The task force was formed in response to declining pheasant numbers in the state. The 2013 numbers showed the pheasant population down by 64 percent from the previous year.

That task force is to make recommendations to Daugaard this summer.

We are pleased that this region is well-represented on both the task force and in Pheasants Forever by Aberdeen's Tim Kessler, who spoke of the urgency of getting a Pheasants Forever presence in South Dakota.

"The whole process of a regional site here in South Dakota started over a year ago," Kessler said in a recent story. "It just so happened that the big drop in pheasants last year really put a rush on things to get it done, and the move also seemed to go hand in hand with the new Farm Bill."

We are surprised to be saying it, but glad to do so: Welcome Pheasants Forever to South Dakota.

___

Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, June 18, 2014

Police chief review process failed

Monday night's refusal by the Rapid City Council to confirm Mayor Sam Kooiker's pick for police chief could become a defining moment for the mayor. The council voted 8-2 against affirming Lt. Elias Diaz to lead the Rapid City Police Department as even some of Kooiker's allies on the council voted no.

What happened?

Council members told the Journal before and after Monday's meeting that they didn't think Diaz had the experience needed to lead a department with 153 employees and a budget of $12.5 million. Diaz currently serves as the department's accreditation official.

Council members also objected to the process used to review the 26 applicants to replace Chief Steve Allender. The five-person panel that was formed by the mayor did not include anyone from the council, most of whom complained that they did not learn about Kooiker's choice until hours before Diaz was introduced at a news conference. The panel also included two members who were not city residents and none who had recent law enforcement experience.

Allender's Assistant Chief Karl Jegeris has been serving as interim police chief but was passed over by the mayor's review committee.

Even former Rapid City Police Chief Craig Teiszen said Diaz wasn't ready for the job as police chief.

In many ways, the chief of police has a greater impact on Rapid City's quality of life than anyone else in city government. Mayors come and go; council members come and go. Police chiefs have an immediate impact through their role to preserve the peace, protect the public and enforce the law. Moreover, Rapid City residents need someone who will serve them first, not the mayor.

In deciding who should serve in this high-profile, high-impact position, Mayor Kooiker made a mistake, in our view, in the process he created to choose a police chief.

Since the chief of police needs to be confirmed by the city council, why was there no representative from the council on the review board? It would have been better to know the council's concerns before naming a candidate.

We also question why nonresidents were on the committee and why a well-known and respected law enforcement representative — perhaps a former or retired police chief — wasn't included.

It's unfortunate for Lt. Diaz and his family that his nomination was so publicly rejected. That could have been avoided if the process had been more inclusive.

Kooiker needs to start over, with a different applicant review process that is more inclusive, less secretive and places the interests of Rapid City residents first.

___

Mitchell Daily Republic, Mitchell, June 17, 2014

Staying out of Iraq doesn't demean service of dead soldiers

In a piece we published Monday, Cal Thomas, a syndicated columnist, quoted the portion of the Gettysburg Address in which Abraham Lincoln called for increased devotion to winning the Civil War so that "these dead shall not have died in vain."

Thomas used the Lincoln quotation to assert that if the United States does not somehow fix the worsening situation in Iraq, the American soldiers who died during and after the recent war in Iraq will have died in vain.

We don't agree with a strictly literal interpretation of Lincoln's statement. Surely Lincoln realized, notwithstanding his need to make an inspiring speech, that if the Union had lost the Civil War, the deaths of Union soldiers would not have been entirely in vain. The preservation of the Union and the abolition of slavery were worth fighting and dying for, win or lose. There was honor not just in winning but also in the effort.

Thomas did a disservice to Lincoln and the country by applying Lincoln's 151-year-old words about the American Civil War to what could be called a modern civil war in the Middle East.

"No life is more wasted than one lost in vain," Thomas wrote.

Soldiers and veterans alike should be offended by that statement. It implies that a dead soldier's service only has value if it occurs on the winning side.

Unlike Thomas, we do not believe that if Iraq falls further into chaos, the service of the 4,480 Americans who recently perished there will have been in vain or wasted. They volunteered to serve their country and paid the ultimate price, and that's a sacrifice that should always be valued no matter the outcome of the conflict or the aftermath.

Of course, this all boils down to a fundamental disagreement about America's role in the world. We support President Obama's decisions to keep the United States out of further military entanglements in the Middle East. Our nation cannot solve Afghanistan's or Iraq's problems, any more than a foreign country could have solved the United States' problems during our own Civil War. We must be on guard against terrorists who could launch strikes against us, but aggressive U.S. military intervention in the internal struggles of the Middle East will only encourage, not prevent, terrorism against us.

If we really want to honor the sacrifices of those Americans who've already died in Iraq, we should do everything we can to avoid sending more Americans to die on foreign soil.


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