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Letters: March 20, 2011

  • Updated

Don’t waste gas driving to preschool

In this day and age, it’s necessary for both parents to work outside the home to make ends meet. Also, consider the price of gas it takes to drive those little ones to  preschool.

I raised three girls and they never spent one day in kindergarten or preschool, yet two of them were valedictorians. The other was salutatorian, and went on to finish college and nurses training, ending up with two degrees.

The two valedictorians finished only three years of college, and married before completing the fourth year.

Now just think of the gas I saved not driving them to preschool because it was necessary for me to work as a registered nurse to make ends meet — same as people do today.

I’ve always thought it was a total waste of taxpayers money to be funding anything below first grade, so my thanks go to the thoughtful legislators who voted yes on education funding cuts.


Rapid City

Public needs more information on TIFs

On behalf of tax paying citizens of Rapid City, this request is addressed to our current and future city government administration relative to the credibility (or not) of transparency in government —    specifically, the genesis and subsequent history of TIF funds; i. e., a state audited accounting of funds — to whom, date and amount, payment history, are payments current? If not, interest rate for late payment, etc.

This is business. Our business.  How many TIF loans are currently active? Are the mayor and city council routinely advised how many dollars of these incremental (as in TIF) payments are available on a fiscal basis for capital investment, maintenance and operation? They have a responsibility to know.


Rapid City

Time to bring troops home from Mideast

Legislatures in South Dakota and many other states are busy  cutting funding sharply for programs such as education and health care. Many in the U.S. Congress are working to try to seriously reduce federal funding for many domestic programs including education and health care.

Meanwhile our country still spends untold billions of  scarce taxpayer dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We continue to put our brave troops at risk in those countries. One can only wonder why.  Nearly a decade later, those costly and bloody wars still haven’t caught those behind the 9/11 attacks. 

It’s long past time to bring all of our brave troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. The people in Egypt and other countries have recently worked to bring more democracy on their own without American help. Let’s have our troops at home to defend us.  Let’s spend our tax money in America to help Americans get education, health care, and jobs. Let’s bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan now.




Abortion bill will trigger lawsuits

The state bill requiring a 72- hour waiting period for women seeking abortions is an insult to women and a waste of state time and resources. 

Women seeking abortion have already thought about it. No woman finds  out she’s pregnant and then knocks people over in some willy-nilly rush to abortion.

It’s a painful decision in nearly every sense of the word and the punitive treatment of women as if they’re hysterical children is an insult to them and the intelligence of South Dakotans that seeks to protect against imaginary coercion into abortion by coercing and shaming into something else.

Signing this bill into law will also cost the state a lot of  money in lawsuits when legislators are already whining about having to cut education funding to the kids we already have. Pierre needs to quit bothering South Dakota with stupid and wasteful ideological posturing and work on  substantive issues that impact the quality of real life for all South Dakotans now.



Socialist-capitalist mix has served us well

I saw a bumper sticker stating “Just say no to socialism,” with the usual juvenile caricature of Obama attached. This not only displays the ignorance of the car owner, but shows how far conservatives are from reality.

Obama is a middle-of-the-road president who has bent much further to the right than we on the left had wanted. Even so, he’s done a pretty good job of ameliorating the Republican-caused recession he inherited. And what’s wrong with a healthy socialist-capitalist mix anyway?

Few Americans would discard Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare, minimum wage, child labor, environmental protection laws and many other socialistic benefits to return to a 1930s unbridled capitalistic economy.  But that’s what the tea party wants—and will probably get in 2012.



Rapid City

Failed immigration bill aided enforcement

Rep. Brian Gosch, Dist. 32, and Rep. Dan Dryden, Dist. 34, voted against a bill that would penalize employers for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants when it was heard in the House on March 8.

Legal immigrants entering the U.S. and registering with Immigration Services have earned the right to live and work in our state. Illegal immigrants and employers who hire them are in violation of the law. Illegal immigration costs  South Dakota taxpayers approximately $39 million a year in funding for education, health care and judicial programs; while contributing very little because they do not have valid taxpayer IDs or they use fraudulent IDs.

SB156 would have added some teeth to enforcement of the federal laws that have been ineffective in dealing with the growing illegal  immigration problem in our state.

Unfortunately, SB156 failed to pass the House in a 33 to 35 vote. Incidentally, the other eight Rapid City area representatives voted in support of SB156.



Rapid City


Legislature suckered into license fee hike

The Legislature overrode Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s veto of doubling license plate fees ($30 million a year). For a dozen years, county officials begged, whined and tried everything to get the legislature to increase license fees. We always said no.

The counties currently have the option to opt out of the tax freeze and increase taxes at anytime, to any amount.

Pennington County is so broke, it never tried opting out of the tax freeze since its 1996 enactment.

The counties have tax raising authority right now. If they had the guts to raise taxes they claim they desperately needed, they would not have had to sucker the legislature into raising taxes for them. They used this recession as an excuse to raise taxes and let the legislators take the beating. How smart is that?

The real surprise is that many conservatives fell for it: Mike Verchio, Jeff Haverly and others. Elizabeth Kraus lied to us at a wing nut luncheon. She told us she would not vote for any tax increases. Kraus defeated her opponent J.P. Duniphan on the pretext she was a conservative and Duniphan wasn’t.

I guess we now know. Thanks to those conservatives who voted no on HB1192.


Rapid City

Local Autism Society  thanks supporters

On behalf of the Autism Society of the Black Hills, I would like to thank all of our local sponsors, donors, board members, volunteers and guests for making our Fourth Annual Mardi Gras Event such a huge success.

We had a packed house this year with amazing “Krewes,”  costumes and auction items. Our celebration was made even more fantastic with a special performance by Tony DeBlois, a blind autistic savant musical prodigy.

We couldn’t do this fundraiser without the support of the Rapid City community. Thank you for making it possible for us to continue to provide programs and support to families of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in the Black Hills.



Autism Society of the Black Hills

Bettelyoun good choice for Native youths

My compliments to the Rapid City Area school board for appointing Junior Bettelyoun as director of Indian Education. I cannot imagine a more qualified candidate. Having spent most of my working life living and working among Native American people in Alaska, New Mexico and Canada, I know the importance of cultural knowledge and sensitivity in the position of director of Indian Education.

Bettelyoun’s rich experience as a statewide leader in Indian Education, along with his roots on the Pine Ridge Reservation, better suit him for this position than any candidate that might have resulted from an expensive national search. No one knows better than Junior Bettelyoun the differences and the similarities of the challenges faced by Lakota children growing up in Rapid City and on the Pine Ridge reservation.

Rapid City’s Indian youth will be better served as a result of this appointment.


Chair of Education

Black Hills State University

Uranium acceptable only to industry 

The uranium industry keeps telling us the risks of uranium mining and nuclear power are “acceptable.” The question is: Acceptable to who? Are they acceptable to frightened Japanese mothers holding their babies as they’re tested for radiation exposure? To the Texas rancher whose water has been contaminated by uranium mining? To the Native American woman who watched her family decimated by cancer after companies left piles of radioactive uranium wastes on the edge of her community?

The risks of uranium mining and nuclear power are only “acceptable” to the individuals and companies profiting from nuclear power and uranium mining — and to the government officials who buy their lies.

Our South Dakota legislators just passed a law making it easier for uranium companies to mine.  Those who voted for it should be ashamed of their lack of research and ignoring of facts. They obviously didn’t have the well-being of citizens in mind. Legislators with blatant personal interest in the bill passing should resign. 

In light of what’s happening in Japan’s nuclear reactors  — “four disabled and spreading radiation at least 175 miles away” — it is clearer than ever that the uranium industry has no place in the Black Hills.


Rapid City

Remember censure, then vote for Sam

I am writing to encourage everyone to vote for Sam Kooiker for mayor of Rapid City. 

A little more than a year ago, I attended a city council meeting that was an embarrassment to the residents of Rapid City.  In this meeting, there was an orchestrated effort to discredit Sam Kooiker as a public servant.

Our present mayor, Alan Hanks, was a willing party to the effort to destroy Sam as a voice for the citizens of Rapid City. The mayor may deny he was part of this farce, but he signed the letter of censure.

Sam Kooiker has been a strong voice for all of the residents of Rapid City. One of his strengths is that he listens to the people he represents. He takes time to talk to whoever wants to talk to him about an issue.

When issues come up that will impact our city, he takes the initiative to contact people who will be affected and get their opinion of the issue before he acts on it.

This is what a good representative of the city should do. Please help me in electing Sam Kooiker to be mayor of Rapid City.


Rapid City

Unions keep workers from being exploited

Most of  the editorial reprinted from the Watertown Public Opinion regarding unions can be dismissed as run-of-the-mill corporate boilerplate. But one paragraph  provoked dismay: “Unions came into vogue during a period of unbridled management corruption which eclipsed the visions of the original company founders and their concerns for workers.” 

Sounds like the Disney version of history. “Unions came into vogue?” Like Hula Hoops and pet rocks? Working people have been trying to struggle out of peonage for centuries through the only means  available: organizing. Generations  of workers braved beatings, evictions, prison and killing to gain the right to bargain with employers for a decent share of the prosperity their toil  produced.

“A period of unbridled management corruption?” That would be  from  the beginning of history right up to the FDR administration, which managed to  rein in corporate greed enough so we could organize and bargain over wages and working conditions.

Since the Reagan administration, we again have unbridled management corruption.

“Original company founders and their concerns for workers?”  Their only concern for workers was how quickly and cheaply they could replace them after they’d been discarded. Now it’s how  they can ship their jobs to some Third World, slave-labor hellhole.


Rapid City

Youth & Family Services thanks supporters

Bravo! The lights are dim and the stage is silent but the sights and sounds of the recent Youth & Family Services Dinner Theatre play on in our memories. A heartfelt thanks to all of the individuals and businesses who helped make our Diamonds & Denim fundraiser a rousing success.

We would also like to thank everyone who attended this event and generously showed their support for YFS and all of the services we provide for more than 11,000 children and families each year in Rapid City and 24 counties in western South Dakota.

We couldn’t do it without you!


YFS Dinner Theatre Chair

Rapid City

Judge Fuller tends to shoot from the lip

Allow me to put in a word for the beleaguered judge, Pete Fuller. He is not my friend and, in fact, in business dealings, we have been on opposing sides of the fence and I have been the uncomfortable object of his colorful harangues.  But maybe we should look at his courtroom  misbehavior from the vantage point of our cultural history.

Think of the judge as a throwback to a circuit riding territorial magistrate who shoots from the lip.

His courtroom demeanor is that of a rascal, but, near as I can tell, his judgments are sound.

Maybe we have grown too civilized to tolerate highly individualistic expressions in our judicial officials, but why throw the baby out with the bath water?

Why don’t we give Judge Fuller a break and see if he can bring his behavior up to date? I’ll bet a dollar to a donut he can. But, to tell the truth, if he does, I’ll miss the old rascal.


Rapid City

Give babies choice to live

I read Helen Raschke’s recent comments about how “pro-life advocates force their belief on others.”

I have to ask: Isn’t killing a child in the womb  forcing one’s belief on the baby? Is that not “suffering horrendously,” as Raschke states?

If our country was founded on freedom of choice — which it wasn’t — what happens to the choice of the child to be aborted? 

When we talk of women’s rights, what about the rights of the female babies that are aborted? Tell me again how abortion moves the world forward?

I am sure of the suffering of unwanted and unplanned pregnancies cited by Raschke. But the child is not the scandal, the problem or the scapegoat. They are worth suffering for.


Belle Fourche

Rapid City loaded with eyesores

A few weeks ago we had the privilege of driving through several states en route to Fort Hood, Texas, to welcome our youngest son home from Afghanistan and visit our oldest son and his family in Oklahoma.

During this time I made several observations. Cities and most rural towns along the way seemed to be doing quite well, especially if they had good railroad service, agriculture or oil. Everywhere folks were warm and friendly as could be.

The sales taxes once we left South Dakota ranged from 9 percent to 11.5 percent.

What they did not have was a video casino on every corner, check cashing loan sharks, pawn shops, multitudes of billboards or giraffe fences along the interstate. Giraffe fences are a series of 12 foot tall fences along I-90 between Rapid City and Wall put up at great expense and little thought to keep cattle and giraffes from wandering on to the interstate in a blizzard.

We had a great time on our trip always telling folks about our beautiful area.

I just shrink from the thought of having to explain to our visitors video casinos, loan sharks, pawnshops, billboards and especially giraffe fences.


Rapid City

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