To the Editor:

At a recent County Commissioners meeting, I presented 224 signatures of Fall River residents, all urging that Commission meetings be audio/visually recorded and broadcast. The signers crossed political/socio-economic categories. Only five or six people refused to sign, some of those county employees. I did not try hard to get the signatures, gathering most while sitting at the coffee shop or buying groceries. Many signers were shocked that meetings were not already recorded.

I reminded Commissioners that in January States Attorney Sword and then-Mayor Donnell said the time had come. Even Commissioner Allen acknowledged that it might be time to follow the national trend toward recording local government meetings—only to change his mind a few minutes later.

I urged Commissioners to spare the public the effort and expense of a forced vote and simply do what we all know is the right thing: agree to begin recording and broadcasting. Only Commissioner Nabholz supported recording, as he has in the past.

I am grateful to those who signed the informal petition and wish it had changed the minds of commissioners. I don’t want to force a vote. Far better would be for you take a moment to contact your commissioners and tell them to protect citizens of Fall River County by video-recording County Commission meetings: Joe Falkenberg, 459-2608; Joe Allen, 745-1890, allenranch@gwtc.net; Ann Abbott, 424-2013; Deborah Russell, 424-2135, deb.debkrussell@gmail.com; Paul Nabholz, 745-3749, pnabholz@gwtc.net.

You may also contact me at 890-1515 or pencedusty@me.com.

This is about government transparency; it is long overdue.

Dusty Pence

Hot Springs, SD

Dear Editor,

Recently Senator John Thune wrote an article about making good on America’s commitment to our veterans. While I commend him for making progress on this prominent issue, I believe the term “Forever GI Bill” is misleading.

Next year these changes will go in effect only for veterans discharged after 2013. A veteran that joined in 1991, served during Operations Desert Storm, Southern and Northern Watch, Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom then retired after 20 years of honorable service in 2011 is not eligible. By contrast a veteran that graduated from high school in 2012, joined, and served only one term is now eligible for lifetime benefits. It is a “forever” GI Bill, but not a “for everyone” GI Bill.

Congress did not need to budget for this new benefit. If a military veteran separated in 2013, they currently have benefits until 2028. The only time this new benefit would apply is in eleven years.

Additionally, the Senator mentions that every Purple Heart recipient will be eligible for lifetime educational benefits. The reality is, more than likely, if a Purple Heart for was awarded for injuries, a disability benefit is already being received, and any veteran that is receiving at least a 10% service connected disability is eligible for vocational rehabilitation benefits (free education).

These are examples of our elected representatives trying to deceive the people they serve. They are not fulfilling their “commitment to veterans”. Congress and Sen. Thune have disappointed this veteran.

James (Jim) Powers

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Hot Springs, SD

To the Editor,

To quote George Washington, “If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”

In the early days of our country when the British were running things, if you spoke your mind and it upset the wrong people, you’d probably find yourself in jail for offending the King of England. Now, in our country we are told we must be politically correct. In other words, we cannot say things even if they are true about certain types of people, you can be assured that these are the ones we should fear.

The Supreme Court has held that it is “a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment…that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable.”

Along with the constitutional right to peacefully (and that means non-violently) assemble, the right to free speech allows us to challenge the government through protests and demonstrations. This allows us to attempt to change the world around us for the better through protest and counter protests.

If there ever was a time to stand up for the right to speak freely, it is now.

Anton J. Wika

Webster, SD

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