Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor Applauds downtown revival

To the editor:

I am delighted to see the renovation work on the south side of Main Street in Downtown Vermillion. It is exciting to see all of the metal facing off and the gradual return of these great old buildings to their former glory.

As an architect and long time advocate for historic preservation, I know the monumental effort involved in a cooperative undertaking of this magnitude. I applaud everyone involved. Keep up the great work. Vermillion deserves the best.

Sandra Lea Dickenson, A.I.A


Support of gag law 'indefensible'

To the editor:

Newspapers across South Dakota recently printed an Associated Press article shared by the South Dakota Newspaper Association about statewide candidates' views on the state's so-called "gag" law, which prohibits state officials from discussing investigations of individuals and corporations.

My opponent in the governor's race, Mike Rounds, and I differ on many issues, but on this issue we are miles apart.

Mike Rounds supports and defends the gag law � indeed, as a state senator he played a critical role in its creation in 1996. I find his support indefensible. Trying to scare public officials so they don't reveal to the public what should be revealed is chilling.

The accounting scandals at WorldCom and Enron, which have cost innocent employees, retirees and investors billions of dollars, are a disturbing example of the consequences of hiding vital information from the public.

I believe that, with few exceptions, providing the public with more information is better than less. I would have vetoed the gag law when it reached my desk had I been governor when it was enacted. If elected governor in November, I will work to repeal this dangerous law and strengthen our state's open meetings law.

South Dakotans expect and deserve open government.

Jim Abbott, Democratic candidate for governor


Plain Talk is unfair to Johnson

To the editor:

In the July 19 Plain Talk, you announced that "negativity" had "inspired a change in your letter policy." Of 17 letters you had published on the U.S. Senate race, seven, you said, "criticized candidates," most of them Republican John Thune. What really seemed to irritate you was that all 10 "supportive" letters were from citizens who like Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson.

So in the future, you announced, most of the letters you received would go into the trash.

Amazingly, that same editorial page featured two letters. One implied that Johnson supporters are thieves. The other, much longer than your stated word limit, was from Jim Larsen, a Republican supporting Thune and criticizing both Sen. Johnson and Sen. Daschle.

The next week your editorial was about people stealing campaign signs. You implied that this was a Democrat-only activity; your sources were a Republican candidate for the state House and a Republican party official.

On Aug. 9 your editorial was negative, complaining that Sen. Johnson has been "hammering us" with campaign ads about prescription drug prices, and questioning his sincerity. The only letter that week was once again from Jim Larsen, again well over the word limit. Larsen again attacked Johnson and Daschle and praised Thune.

Your solution to the problem of people writing in support of our native son, Sen. Tim Johnson, is really quite simple. You run letters from Republicans and not from Democrats. "Negativity" has nothing to do with it.

You might do well to recall advice from Thomas Jefferson. "When the press is free and every man able to read," he said, "all is safe."

Jefferson, of course, was concerned about government censorship of the press � not about press censorship of the people. If he could have foreseen the latter, I'm sure he would agree with famed newspaper publisher Arthur Sulzberger, who added that "the publisher is not granted the privilege of independence simply to provide him with a more favored position in the community than is accorded to other citizens."

Jerry Wilson


Thune lying about Johnson

To the editor:

I would like to submit a very strong, simple complaint to John Thune and his campaign. John Thune is lying about Senator Johnson and his stance on Social Security privatization.

Thune recently began airing another negative attack against Johnson in which he accuses Senator Johnson of supporting plans to privatize Social Security. I've looked into this issue, and was astonished when I found out that Thune's ad is a flat out lie. Tim Johnson has always opposed plans to privatize Social Security. Accusing him of anything else is either fantasy or blatant, calculated political strategy. Apparently the latter is the explanation as it isn't difficult to see through the smokescreen Thune is trying to construct on privatization.

John Thune has in the past supported plans to privatize Social Security, and even though he says he doesn't support privatization, this is a political calculation. The plans Thune says he currently supports are plans to privatize Social Security. He apparently just chooses not to call them what they are for political reasons. Talk about "values!" John Thune's shameless attempts to deceive voters and distort his opponent's record should be written about in political science textbooks.

James A. Sanden

Sioux Falls

Vermillion firemen's help commended

To the editor:

This summer has been hot and dry through much of the western United States but especially hitting South Dakota very hard. In addition to hurting our farmers and ranchers, the hot, dry conditions have caused a serious threat of fire danger, both in the Black Hills and on much of the grasslands in the western part of our state.

Grass fires have burned thousands of acres of pasture land and several fires in the Black Hills have been tough for our local fire departments. The South Dakota volunteer fire fighters and community fire departments have done a superb job under very difficult circumstances to keep the property damage to a minimum.

Thankfully, there has been no loss of life thanks to the courage and hard work of these dedicated professionals.

During the Grizzly Gulch fire in the Black Hills, the city of Vermillion sent a fire crew to help stop that serious blaze. I congratulate the members of that crew and the community that sent them to help stop that serious fire. They deserve all of our thanks.

Tim Johnson, U.S. Senate

Washington, D.C.

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