Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials
The Associated Press
Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, Dec. 23, 2013
Commission should regulate gaming
The South Dakota Lottery Commission has a problem.
Its members, all appointed by the governor, lack the authority to make relatively minor changes while managing the state’s interests in an industry that moves much faster than the speed of state government.
As more competition emerges statewide and nationwide in the high-stakes gambling industry, Lottery Commission members recently adopted a 20-point plan to bolster the video lottery industry.
The proposals include raising the top prize from $1,000 to $2,500 and the bet limit from $2 to $5, allowing businesses to have 15 machines per license rather than the current ten, and allowing multiple licenses in a single room.
These modest proposals, however, can’t be implemented without the approval of the state legislature and the signature of Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
As such, Lottery Director Norm Lingle has scheduled a meeting with the governor with the hope that lawmakers can consider the changes in the next legislative session, which begins on Jan. 14.
As part of that discussion, the commission will be asking for more authority to implement decisions, a position that seems reasonable for important reasons.
The Lottery Commission is closer to the industry than part-time lawmakers and thus in a better position to make decisions to help those small businesses that pumped $87.8 million into state coffers in 2012.
Secondly, state lawmakers will only be meeting for 37 days in 2014. They should be discussing more pressing issues like the budget, education priorities, economic development and Medicaid expansion. There is no doubt they will be considering hundreds of bills.
While it is important the Legislature maintain oversight of the Lottery Commission and establish what percentage of income the state should get from video lottery proceeds, it does not need to micromanage the affairs of the commission.
Lawmakers should set policy, debate legislation, provide oversight and empower commissioners to implement minor rule changes in a timely manner.
Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, Dec. 21, 2013
Disclose investments before elections
For local elected officials, the ethical line can seem pretty thin.
Many of them come to office from outside of government, and often they are making their first foray into public service. It’s understandable that they bring with them the common practices and strategies of their private industry endeavors.
But public service is different, and it demands certain commitments from the elected. Most importantly, taxpayers expect their leaders to be free of conflicts that could raise questions about their priorities and actions.
The best advice is to work hard to avoid the perception of any conflict of interest. That means sometimes steering clear of an investment you were welcome or even encouraged to be part of as a private business person.
For example, if you’re the mayor of Sioux Falls, you should not be an investor in a real estate development in the city while you’re in office.
It’s not illegal. It’s simply not a good governing practice, and it does not instill trust in your leadership.
If the mayor invests in a project with a prominent city developer, citizens might assume that developer will get special treatment from the various city officials who will deal with that project and his or her other projects. Why? Because those officials answer to the mayor, and they might think he wants it that way.
The actions of the mayor have to avoid even the appearance of favoritism or unfair advantage.
The revelation recently that Mayor Mike Huether is an investor in The Villas at Canyon Creek, an apartment complex on East 54th Street, prompted a discussion on such endeavors.
To be clear, there is no evidence that anyone benefited unfairly from Huether’s investment in this project. The mayor defends his involvement. We must take him at his word that he’s not using his position to pursue an unfair advantage for himself, his family, friends or business associates.
In the future, however, it might be wise to provide even more assurance for the public about future leaders’ activities.
One way to do that is to require candidates for city offices to complete a detailed disclosure statement. The statement could be similar to those required of federal office holders. City candidates currently fill out a brief disclosure form. But it asks only for basic information.
If we require our local candidates to detail the types of investments in which they are involved as well as the value of those investments, that important information will be made public.
When a mayor or a council person is elected, he or she most probably has an existing investment portfolio. If those investments are made public as a requirement of running for office, the voters will be able to track any potential favoritism. The scope of the disclosure could be narrowed to only those involvements with companies that are not publicly traded.
Right now, that level of transparency doesn’t exist at the local — or state level.
We certainly want accomplished, successful individuals to seek public office. They have much to offer our city. But we also want to ensure that they don’t gain unfairly from their service. And, for their protection, we should try to ensure they are not unjustly accused of currying favor because of a perceived involvement.
The open disclosure of a candidate’s financial entanglements will help make things easier for the candidate and for the voting public.
We urge our city’s leaders to study the possibility of adding a more detailed disclosure statement to our election requirements.
Madison Daily Leader, Madison, Dec. 20, 2013
Target’s data breach shows DSU is on target
The nation’s second-largest discount store chain, Target Stores, was a victim of more than just shoplifting over the Thanksgiving weekend. Information on about 40 million credit and debit cards was stolen, and there are reports of that information being used to make purchases by the thieves.
Credit and debit card fraud is on the rise. Industry consultant The Nilson Report estimates losses at more than $11 billion annually. Even though that accounts for less than 6 cents on every $100 purchased, it’s still an enormous number.
Which brings us to the growing Information Assurance programs at Dakota State University in Madison, especially the financial infrastructure emphasis dealing with banks and credit cards.
Dr. Kevin Streff, Director of the Center for Information Assurance at DSU, points out that Target has not yet announced, or probably determined, how the breach occurred.
Whether it was a sophisticated outside hack, an internal theft, or simply a careless mistake, is unknown. Dakota State’s programs consider all these possibilities.
While the perception of DSU’s information assurance program is that it involves only complex information technology, the curriculum is more comprehensive.
In addition to the technical side, DSU teaches non-technical issues like developing policies, establishing audit procedures, as well as the human resources side of information security, such as security awareness, training and ethics.
Target’s situation is complex. As a publicly traded company, it is subject to Sarbanes-Oxley regulations. As a credit card issuer, it needs to abide by Payment Card Industry standards. DSU programs, especially at the graduate degree level, recognize this complexity, and works to teach students to understand such situations.
Streff states that part of the advantage of DSU’s programs are that they are part of the College of Business and Information Systems. Some other universities, like Carnegie-Mellon or Mississippi State, run their programs through a computer science department, emphasizing the technical aspects. Other programs are under a college of business only, which may not cover enough technical issues.
We’re proud of the work Dakota State is doing to address a growing problem, and we’re confident that its graduates are already making a difference in this field.
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