Letters to the Editor for August 4:
My four kids and I have been to pools at least 30 times this summer without an incident other than a "hey sweetie" or a "walk buddy" floating over the loud chatter of joy and splashing.
I love going to all the pools and we have settled on a few favorites, but I love knowing that wherever we go my kids are safe. Over the summer months and the 15 bottles of sunscreen, I became immune to the clockwork rotation of the lifeguards while I updated my status, caught some rays or called up with an old friend. Somehow the trip to the pool became routine and an every other day experience.
Fast forward to a hot, sunny Saturday in July and the pool is packed. There seems to be five kids for every adult and a small army of lifeguards on their clockwork rotation. My kids are slathered in SPF 50 and I found a shady spot, when rapid whistles sounded the alarm. Enter Hollywood slow-motion effects as the lifeguard leaps from her stand and through a sea of children, reaches and grabs a little boy who emerges coughing, shaken and scared now sitting on the edge of the pool.
It was that fast. In that moment everything seemed to go mute and the swimsuit troops swooped in. Within a few moments that boy was okay and it was back to the clockwork rotation.
But I was in awe, my heart was racing and I felt nauseous. What if that was my little boy? I mean, I had a front row seat to the event so it stained my brain and all I can think about is saying thank you. Not for me specifically, but for every single family and child that has entered the pool gate in anticipation of a summertime memory and walked tired, wet and sun-kissed. All because of the swimsuit troops in black and red that brought back fanny packs and keep our pools safe.
So thank you to lifeguards everywhere. You may have a wicked tan, but your job is hella hard and I appreciate you.
Amityshay Neff, Sioux Falls
Kudos to the Sioux Falls Police for holding a town hall this week in response to the recent startling increase in gun violence. The community clearly appreciated being able to access information from the police in this forum.
From my perspective, as a member of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, there were a few gaping holes in the conversation, though:
1. Lock up your guns. Many of these guns were stolen or “found” by teenagers in a friend’s home and taken without permission. We need our gun owners to take seriously the responsibility that comes with gun ownership. Children and teenagers should NEVER be able to access guns, unless under direct adult supervision (while hunting, e.g.). Responsible storage of firearms will prevent tragedies.
2. South Dakota has ridiculously LOOSE gun laws. We need to address how easily firearms can be acquired without a background check. We need to hold our lawmakers accountable for voting for permitless carry -- against the wishes of the majority of South Dakotans. If our representatives in Pierre will not listen to us on this matter, we need to replace them in 2020. Gun violence is on the rise in South Dakota, and smarter, common sense gun laws are crucial to reversing this trend.
Shannon Hoime, Brandon
As South Dakotans, our ability to petition to pass new state laws, or refer laws passed by our legislature, is a time-honored tradition. Our initiative and referendum process is designed by South Dakotans, for South Dakotans. It’s supposed to be local grassroots in its purest form.
That’s why it's illegal for non-South Dakota residents to circulate our petitions. But we have a problem: lawless, out-of-state petition circulators have been coming to South Dakota and circulating petitions in direct violation of South Dakota law. This has really happened in South Dakota, and it gets worse when we discover that they committed fraud or broke the law but the out-of-state circulators have already fled the state.
I sponsored House Bill 1094 to ensure that our initiative and referendum process will remain a grassroots process for South Dakotans. Protecting South Dakotans from law breaking out-of-state political hacks and special interests shouldn’t be controversial.
I have personally seen the complete disregard of our laws and the manipulation of our South Dakota ballot measure process by circulators from out of state. To try to “prove” residency, out-of-state circulators have fraudulently used hotel addresses to get South Dakota drivers licenses, and others with lengthy and disturbing criminal records have been flown in from Massachusetts and Washington to stand on our street corners and ask for our personal information for their petition.
HB 1094 brings needed transparency and accountability to the petition circulation process. Petition circulators are part of the South Dakota law making process; we need to know that they are South Dakota residents. And when South Dakota voters sign a petition, every signer deserves to know that the petition circulator is not a sex offender panning for personal information and our home addresses. The transparency provided by HB 1094 helps keep these bad actors out of our petition process.
We need to end the stream of lawless, out-of-state special interests trying to use our state as a guinea pig for their political agendas. We need transparency—very basic information—to protect the public’s personal information from lawless, criminal circulators. HB 1094 helps accomplish these goals. That’s why the legislature supported the bill and the Governor signed it. That’s why a recent effort to refer HB 1094 to the ballot failed. And that’s why the court should ensure the legitimacy and integrity of our time-honored initiative and referendum tradition by upholding HB 1094.
Rep. Jon Hansen, Dell Rapids
My name is Tim Schultz and I am a born and raised Sioux Falls resident. Over my 57 years of living in this great community, I have spent many days and nights enjoying our namesake park. For many years I have felt the beauty of the falls was to be enjoyed but respected, as the dangers are clearly understood by a person that grew up around it.
I am writing this heart-felt thank you to all the people that have been involved in the most recent safety measures, and new viewing platforms. Too many people have lost their lives in the lower bend area, and it has taken way too many years to make it safer. While I know there will always be individuals that will not respect this area, or the falls in general, I still want to commend the group that finally put citizens and visitors safety at the forefront.
Thank you all, and I hope people see the beauty but respect the power and danger of such a breath-taking natural area.
Timothy Schultz, Sioux Falls
Thank you for your editorial on July 26 asking our elected representatives where they draw the line with the actions of the President. I've been writing and calling and waiting, asking the same question for months. There has only been silence when it comes to the behavior of the President. How long must we wait before they help Republicans return some small amount of courtesy and civility to the Oval Office?
I've lived in South Dakota most of my life and, although the state is generally a Republican stronghold, South Dakotans are not generally a crass, abusive, bullying and divisive people. Our Congressmen should get some courage and show some moral stamina.
Rev. Carl Kline, Brookings
Right now, more than 17,000 South Dakotans, our friends, family and neighbors are living with Alzheimer’s disease. That’s roughly the population of Mitchell. For them, a cure for this disease can’t come soon enough.
As the State Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association in South Dakota, I know how important this research is to improving the quality of life of people living with the disease and to someday finding a cure or treatment.
Someone new develops Alzheimer’s every 65 seconds. Barring the development of medical breakthroughs, the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s is projected to rise to nearly 14 million by 2050.
In recent years, Congress has made funding Alzheimer’s and dementia research a priority. When we invest in research we gain valuable insights. That’s why the investment must continue.
Please ask Senators Thune and Rounds, and Congressman Johnson, to support a $350 million increase in Alzheimer’s research funding at the National Institutes of Health in fiscal year 2020.
Leslie Morrow, Sioux Falls