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Excerpts from recent South Dakota editorials

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Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, April , 2014

Good luck with quieting rally

The most common complaint from area residents to the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally is the noise. For one week in August, loud motorcycles and loud music disturb the normally peaceful Black Hills.

The Sturgis City Council took stab at curbing the noise by passing an ordinance that aims at turning down the volume during the rally and all the other weeks of the year.

The ordinance would prohibit:

— Disruptive noise or use of sound equipment in public or outside between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m.

— Operating construction equipment between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

— Operating sound equipment in a vehicle causing any disruptive noise or a vibration 20 feet from the vehicle.

If the rest of us complain about the noise of the motorcycle rally, imagine what it's like for yearlong Sturgis residents. The proposed ordinance is in response to Sturgis residents who want the party that is the rally to tone it down in the early morning hours.

We wonder how such an ordinance would be enforced. The Sturgis council did not include a decibel threshold since because the entire rally is so loud, detecting a noise source would be difficult.

Chad Jagow, manager of Easyriders Saloon, noted that motorcycles can register from 95 to 105 decibels just on the street. "It would be almost impossible to police this," he said.

The downtown bar owners cooperated with the city in writing the noise ordinance, so there is reason to hope that they will make an effort to keep the volume turned down on loud music, at least in the pre-dawn hours when many people are trying to get some sleep.

We hope the downtown bars cooperate further by obeying the noise ordinance.

We like the Sturgis rally, and during that one week in the year, the noise is something we have gotten used to.

Is the rally noisy? Sure it is. Thousands of motorcycles literally rumbling through the Black Hills is part of rally week. So are outdoor concerts every night and bands playing in bars.

Good luck with trying to quiet it down.


Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, March 29, 2014

South Dakota needs more candidates for Legislature

In 10 days, Sioux Falls voters will choose the people they want to lead the city for the next four years.

It's encouraging to see the number of quality candidates who have stepped forward to run for mayor and City Council.

In each race, there is a distinct difference in candidate philosophies, and voters get a real choice.

That is how the system is supposed to work. In Sioux Falls, at least, we're lucky to have such interest in city government.

If only the same enthusiasm was evident for state government service.

Unfortunately, in too many legislative districts across the state, voters have no choice.

The deadline to file petitions to run for state offices was last week. While independents still can get on the ballot, the candidate numbers so far are not stellar:

— Democrats are contesting 27 of 35 Senate districts and 28 of 35 House districts

— Republicans have candidates in 30 of 35 Senate districts and 31 of 35 House districts

In some House races, the parties haven't fielded a full slate of candidate, limiting voters' choices.

Why don't more people choose to run for public office?

The reasons are wide ranging. For some, it's difficult to take time away from job and family. For others, there's a frustration that nothing can be accomplished. And some simply can't see themselves being effective in those positions.

The state parties try to recruit candidates with varying degrees of success. Too often, there just aren't enough candidates for the open seats.

There are no easy answers to this problem, but it should concern voters of both parties. Good government does not rely on decisions made by small groups of like-minded individuals.

If there is no free exchange of ideas in Pierre, how can we know that we have achieved the best possible solution to a problem? Are the best ideas for our state's future being advanced?

We must encourage more people to run for state office. It's too late for this election, but starting now, we could make a difference in future elections.

We need to take potential candidates aside and encourage them to run. We can help those who choose to run by volunteering for their campaigns. And we have to teach our young people the values of public service.

Democratic and Republican Party officials are eager to provide information, as are state agencies and local groups such as the League of Women Voters.

It's a tall order, and we won't change things overnight. But if public service becomes a common topic of discussion at home and in the community, it can make a difference. Taxpayers will benefit.

What can you do?


Daily Leader, Madison, April 1, 2014

Why are we asking about skin color?

A recent study by The Wall Street Journal analyzed loans made by the Small Business Administration over the last ten years. Its principal conclusion was that businesses owned by blacks received only 1.7 percent of the loans last year, compared to 8.2 percent in 2008.

The study also showed that Asian-Americans and Hispanics received about the same percentage of overall loans last year compared to the year before the recession started.

The Wall Street Journal could analyze this data only because the Small Business Administration has collected it. In fact, it is an application requirement to describe whether the loan applicant is white, black, Asian, Native American or Hispanic.

Which leads us to the question "Is race a factor in determining who receives SBA loans or loan guarantees?"

If race is a factor — that it makes a positive or negative difference in the application — we then have to ask "Should it?"

For a nation that is trying to eradicate racism, it seems completely wrong that business loans from the government are partly based on race. Is it fair to tell an applicant that they didn't receive a loan because of their skin color?

If race isn't a factor in determining the viability of the loan, then why do we ask the question on the application? It seems to only further divide us based on something that shouldn't matter.

This may be getting worse. New federal regulations that went in effect last week require for the first time that federal contractors ask their employees if they have a disability. Contractors who don't employ a minimum of 7 percent disabled workers or can't prove they are taking steps to achieve that goal could face penalties and possibly the loss of their contracts.

So job applicants face a dilemma: Should you check the "disabled" box to improve your chances of getting a job? Applicants aren't required to disclose their specific impairment.

We're getting mixed messages. The Americans with Disabilities Act forbids companies to gather information on a worker's disability status.

We'd like to see race and disability questions removed from loan applications and federal contracts. Race should not be a factor at all, and disability status should only be considered in order to provide reasonable accommodations to allow the person to work effectively.

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