- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Editors: Please note that The Associated Press welcomes editorial contributions from members for the weekly Editorial Roundup. Three editorials are selected every week. Contributions can be made by email at [email protected]


Capital Journal, Pierre, Dec. 14, 2014

SD was right to jerk that ad campaign off the road

We begin to suspect there’s an alternative version of Peter Pan: He ran away from home when he was a high school sophomore because he didn’t want to grow up, and he didn’t - he now works for the state office of Highway Safety, using all his juvenile cleverness on behalf of the state of South Dakota.

That’s about the only way we can explain the sophomoric humor at work in South Dakota’s “Don’t Jerk and Drive” campaign.

Although that might be a disservice to high school sophomores, many of whom certainly have a greater sense of decency than the state employees who approved this ad campaign with its double entendre.

For those of us who weren’t that clever, a word of explanation is in order. “Don’t jerk and drive” - intended to underscore the importance of not jerking the steering wheel on icy roads - also can be interpreted as a slangy reference to masturbation. South Dakota worked with Sioux Falls ad agency Lawrence & Schiller to come up with the campaign.

Here at the Capital Journal, we felt that the humor was so risqué and potentially offensive that we wouldn’t let that story run on our front page. We still felt obligated to carry the story elsewhere within our newspaper, however, because it is part of the way state government is spending our money - to the tune of $100,000, according to reports.

Usually Gov. Dennis Daugaard has more class that this.

About the only thing we can say for the campaign is that it definitely got the message across. Anyone who has seen any part of the ad campaign or even simply heard about it will retain the message. That’s worth something.

But the state is right to pull the ad, and state Rep. Mike Verchio, R-Hill City, is right that this was a terrible error in judgment. State government should be able to do its job without giving needless offense to people.

Yes, by all means, jerk this ad campaign off the road. And take Peter’s car keys away while you’re at it, or at least don’t let him steer anything as important as an advertising campaign - it’s clear that some state employees have some growing up to do.


Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan, Yankton, Dec. 15, 2014

A Step Backward With Big Banks?

We just don’t seem to learn.

We still struggle the wounds and the losses of the Great Recession that began in 2008 - a freefall that was due in no small part to large banking institutions being torched after gambling with depositors’ money in the murky derivative markets. As a result, if those institutions had gone down, a lot of people would have been hurt … hence, the mantra “too big to fail” was born.

That’s a rather broad explanation of what happened to the global economy in 2008, and it serves as a reason why the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill was enacted in 2010. One key provision of that bill required those large institutions to “push out” their risky derivatives investments to entities that are not protected by federal insurance - meaning they wouldn’t be covered by bailout protection. (Bailouts, as you may recall, became notoriously common during the 2008 crash.)

But, thanks to the new $1.1 trillion spending bill passed by Congress late last week, the soul of that law, which was born of hard economic facts, has been compromised.

A provision attached to the spending bill once again allows big banks “to use insured deposits and other taxpayer subsidies and guarantees to gamble in the derivatives markets,” noted journalist Steve Denning of the Forbes website. “(It’s) the very type of business that drove the 2008 financial crisis and the economic devastation that followed.”

The provision was allegedly written - or as least very closely mirrors a talking point - by Citigroup, according to the American Banker website. Several banking institutions lobbied Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike to enact the provision. Thus, its passage amounts to a triumph by the big banks, which have been fighting the Dodd-Frank legislation before the ink on the bill was even dry.

And with that, we are seemingly back where we were before the Great Recession. We are setting up history to potentially repeat itself.

Alas, there is precedent for such short-sightedness. The terrible 1929 crash the ushered in the Great Depression led to the enactment of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1933 that limited how much banks could speculate with the money of its investors - a major reason why the ‘29 crash took so many people down and much of society. The act was chipped away at for years until it was effectively gutted in 1999. It’s been argued that this helped form the groundwork for the 2008 debacle.

What may be more interesting to watch is what happens next with Dodd-Frank. Emboldened by this victory, Wall Street institutions figure to chip away at the bill next year, with a more pro-business, pro-bank Republican majority in place.

However, that new makeup is no guarantee of success, especially with the memories of the reviled bailouts still lurking across the wounded American landscape.

As Forbes noted, the “big, bad banks are back.” But this time, they must bear - and warrant - much closer scrutiny.


Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, Dec. 14, 2014

Lions attacking pets proves need for hunting season

Few, if any, hunting-related topics are as controversial in South Dakota as the annual mountain lion harvest.

Questions arise frequently: How many should be taken each year? Should dogs be allowed in the hunts? Should the hunt exist at all?

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission just last week allowed a proposal to move forward that would legalize the use of hounds on the hunts outside the Black Hills. Dogs are currently allowed only in restricted hunts in Custer State Park.

Opponents of the hunt question whether the pursuit and killing process upholds the spirit of fair chase. Often, the lions are tracked on foot until driven up a tree, where they are shot at fairly close range. Some of the most fervent opponents also argue the hunt is driven solely by blood lust since the lion meat is not great table fare.

Finally, they worry that the population is too low to justify a hunt, and they use recent data showing lower kill numbers the past two years as proof that too few lions are prowling the hills. State officials have a management goal of a population of 150 to 200 lions, and estimate there are now about 240 in the hills.

Hunters took 77 lions in 2012; 61 in 2013 when a record 4,351 licenses were issued; and only 53 in the 2014 season. The quota for the upcoming 2015 season that runs from late December to early March is 75 lions overall, or 50 females. So it does appear the hunt is slowing and becoming more difficult.

Backers, meanwhile, point to the difficulty in taking a lion as part of the thrill, and note that hunting is an engrained part of our culture in South Dakota.

While our editorial board has in the past internally debated the merits of the lion hunt, the events of this month have solidified our position that the mountain lion hunt is not only acceptable, but completely necessary.

Earlier this month in Custer, a business owner called game officers because a lion had killed a deer and stashed it not far from a store where employees or customers might congregate. After a stake-out, the lion was killed and no one was hurt.

And last week, a lion or lions killed a pet dog and cat in the Carriage Hills residential neighborhood in southwest Rapid City. Residents there are being careful, and authorities said no people appeared to have been endangered. The lion was shot by officials on Thursday night.

But those close calls bring home the real danger that lions can cause. While it would be exceedingly rare that a lion would attack a human, once that interplay is created, no one can predict what might happen.

Allowing the hunting of lions is one way to keep their numbers in check, and create revenue for outdoors business, and provide one more outlet for hunters who are passionate about their hobby.

We urge the state to keep a close eye on lion numbers, and never let hunters take too many. But given the mingling of humans and wildlife in our mostly rural region, continuing the lion hunt makes good sense on several fronts.

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