Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, May 19, 2013
What was going on at the library?
For the second time in three months, the Rapid City Public Library is reviewing its security policy. On Monday, the library's Board of Trustees voted to add a police liaison officer.
After a Feb. 21 shooting of a man with a knife outside the downtown library, the library added full-time private security. The man who was shot had just been escorted out of the library when he advanced on police while waving a knife.
Now the library is supplementing private security with a Rapid City Police Department liaison.
Why? Neither the library board nor city officials will provide details.
There are hints that there were concerns about security at the library.
Rod Pettigrew, chair of the Library Board, said an arrest had been made at the library earlier this month by U.S. Marshals of a man with a child pornography conviction.
The private security company, Black Hills Patrol, reported observing a pattern of "suspicious activity" that could have involved drug dealing.
Mayor Sam Kooiker said he had "serious concerns" about public safety at the library, and told the Journal that all of the library's security guidelines were insufficient.
On the same day that the board voted to add a police liaison, library director Greta Chapman submitted her resignation to work for the South Dakota Hall of Fame.
What was going on at the library that prompted a second change to its security policies?
The city's library system sees 1,500 users every day, many of whom are children, whose parents entrust the library staff for their safety. Yet we learned after the Feb. 21 shooting that library staff had called police 184 times in 2012, or about once every other day.
We are concerned that the security problems at the library are being swept under the rug by the city and police department that expect the public to trust them with their safety without providing information about what the problems were.
We applaud the library board and city government for responding to a potential threat to public safety by taking action to increase security at the downtown library.
However, the public has a right to know what activities were going on at the library that prompted the security change, and if the activities were illegal.
We believe Rapid City residents — and parents whose children use the public library system — deserve a full accounting of the safety issues that resulted in the addition of a police liaison at the downtown library.
Capital Journal, Pierre, May 19, 2013
Texting ban makes sense for Pierre, too
Mitchell has become the latest in a growing number of South Dakota cities that have now enacted bans on texting while driving. That 4-3 decision by its city council last week puts Mitchell in the company of Sioux Falls, Brookings, Watertown, Vermillion and Huron in implementing local bans.
Pierre should do likewise.
As we have already seen in the letters people have written to the Capital Journal over the past year, texting is a safety issue that affects people in our city as well. There have been near misses in our city in which people or their pets were nearly injured by drivers who were apparently texting while driving.
As we have said before, to ban texting while driving is common sense and might save lives. It doesn't impose on anyone's freedom - drivers can text as much, when they like, if they just pull off the road. Or they can simply wait a few minutes until they get to a destination to send those messages or fire off replies.
They should know that texting is dangerous without having to have the obvious spelled out for them in city law. But good sense is not enough to make good people do the right thing sometimes. A city ordinance similar to those that other cities in the state are enacting would have the effect of making those who know better stop this dangerous practice.
The Daily Republic, Mitchell, May 15, 2013
A missed chance at fairness in Chamberlain
The Chamberlain school board has decided that the school's graduation ceremony will not include a traditional American Indian honor song as part of the day's events.
That's a tough call, and one that obviously has generated plenty of interest in the Brule County town along the Missouri River.
Chamberlain isn't on an American Indian reservation, but Indians still comprise about one-third of the district's enrollment. Geographically, the district is bordered on its northern edges by reservation land.
The issue came to the school board after some students, including senior Chris Rodriguez, circulated a petition. Rodriguez told the school board that he isn't just trying to get an honor song for this year's graduation, but for years to come.
That's a noble fight, and we appreciate that Rodriguez and others are taking a stand. It's not easy for kids to get up before a panel of adults and seek change.
Should the board have decided differently? We think so.
Part of the board's rationale behind the decision was that a separate "feathering ceremony" honoring seniors of American Indian heritage was already scheduled ahead of the graduation.
We are glad the feathering ceremony will happen, but since it's not part of the actual graduation ceremony, we can understand why Indian students also requested the honor song. They don't want their culture relegated to a separate ceremony. They want it included as a proud part of the district's makeup.
The board also expressed concern that other students with varying heritages will seek special treatment at graduation ceremonies.
Here in South Dakota, and especially in rural South Dakota, it's pretty much an issue of whites and American Indians. We really don't have other ethnic groups represented with such large numbers.
An honor song would only take a few minutes, and considering the vast number of students it would affect, we think it would be an appropriate nod toward an ethnic group that has great numbers in South Dakota and, especially, in the Chamberlain area. Not every school in South Dakota should consider an American Indian honor song during graduation ceremonies, but a school that is one-third Indian should consider it.
Change isn't easy, and we understand that. But this could have been a change backed by sound reasoning, fairness and, maybe, even a bit of reconciliation.