Letters City obligated to respect rights

To the editor:

I believe it is important for government agencies to respect the constitutional rights of its citizens. When citizens submit a valid petition to refer a city council decision to a vote, I believe it is the obligation of the city council to respect that constitutional right. This is an issue larger than whether or not you supported the Chestnut Street project.

The court records in South Dakota contain several cases where local governments have ignored the constitutional rights of its citizens to refer controversial decisions to a public vote. Those local governments commonly offered a shaky pretext for denying valid petitions, including such excuses as the petition was too late, the petition was too early, or there was some tiny flaw that invalidated the entire petition. In almost all cases, the South Dakota Supreme Court has protected the right of citizens to refer seek a public vote.

Some may think the recent election on Chestnut Street was a waste of money, even though the vote was taken at a regularly scheduled election. I think the real waste was the time and money lost by the city council in court, trying with futility to prevent a public vote. Are you serious when you imply that the city council was right because it felt the popular vote would be positive? Or, might it be more realistic to recognize that the council fought the vote because they were fearful the vote might have gone the other way? The right of citizen petition should never be based upon how the city council feels a public vote may turn out.

While you may feel that fighting for the constitutional rights of citizens is histrionics, I believe it is crucial for citizens to guard their constitutional rights whenever they are jeopardized. Citizens have died in defense of your constitutional rights of free speech and free press. Do you think that the citizens' constitutional right to seek a public vote should be held in less regard?

I remain gratified that the court sided with the citizens on the Chestnut Street vote. I suspect that the city council will tread cautiously the next time citizens submit a valid petition to refer a controversial decision to a public vote. And that is how it should be.

Frank Slagle


Videoland degrades family values

To the editor:

I would like to make our community aware of the background of a new business owner in Vermillion. Videoland is now run by Movie Gallery, the nation's third largest video rental outlet. Movie Gallery is being boycotted by many pro-family groups, including American Family Association, based in Tupelo, MS.

Movie Gallery has repeatedly refused to respond to groups that asked it to stop renting hard-core pornography. Some of its outlets that have these "back rooms" are even in states where obscenity laws ban its distribution.

My personal experience at the store since this takeover has solidified my decision to stop patronizing Movie Gallery. When my 2-year-old son needed to use the bathroom, the counter staff told me we probably wouldn't want to go back there because they had some materials stored there inappropriate for children's eyes. I urge the citizens of Vermillion to consider taking their entertainment dollars to businesses that do not degrade our family values and threaten our children with obscene material, such as Hollywood Video on Main Street.


Shauna Perez


Ethanol is clean, renewable

To the editor:

Contrary to Benno Wymar's editorial, ethanol revolves around renewability, both as a fuel source, and as a growing market for corn growers. In the past 10 years, bushels of corn consumed by the ethanol market have grown by nearly 300 million annually to a total of 680 million bushels in 2001.

Ethanol is a clean-burning renewable fuel that helps reduce emissions of carbon monoxide and smog-forming volatile organic compounds. As a water-soluble, ethanol is non-toxic and is the most harmless and biodegradable component of gasoline. The environment benefits are the primary reasons that the American Lung Association supports the incorporation of ethanol into our nation's fuel supply and is why the Clean Air Act requires the use of oxygenated gasoline to improve air quality in the nation's most polluted cities.

Moreover, ethanol production is a net energy winner. Analysis by the U.S. Department of Energy and the USDA shows that, for every 100 BTUs of energy used to make ethanol, 135 BTUs of ethanol is produced resulting in a positive net energy balance of 1:1.35. The study takes into account the entire life cycle of ethanol production � from the energy used to produce and transport corn, to the energy used to produce ethanol, to the energy used in the distribution of ethanol in gasoline.

For these reasons and others, South Dakotans continue to support and use a renewable, fuel grown and processed in their own communities that helps add value to agriculture.

Reid Jensen


Remember who started mud-slinging

To the editor:

Do you remember how we all moaned and groaned about the extreme negativity of the Republican Governor's race and the Tim Johnson and John Thune Senate campaigns?

Each day, I see a new gaggle of letters to the editor expressing their fake outrage of Tom Daschle for expressing his concern that do-no-wrong President Bush managed to isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. People are apparently "appalled," "outraged," or even "flabbergasted" about it.

Please. I have never seen such an orchestrated GOP attack operation in my life. There were letters from as far away as Florida and Virginia for God's sake. When the election is almost two years away and the Republicans are pulling this kind of stunt, I can only imagine the bile to come.

Let's make a mental note of who started slinging the mud first.

Allen Johnson


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