- Associated Press - Thursday, May 26, 2016

Argus Leader, Sioux Falls, May 21, 2016

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before:

A crisis of heath care strikes South Dakota reservations, resulting in deaths. Deaths and crisis beget public outrage and political promises of solutions. Promises of solutions are followed by years of ambivalence, avoidance and neglect. A crisis of health care strikes South Dakota reservations, resulting in deaths…

The decades-long health care crisis in Indian Country, where underfunded and understaffed hospitals and emergency rooms struggle to provide adequate services, is back in the outrage and promises portion of the cycle, and hopefully this time we can make meaningful progress.

After the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services flagged hospitals on two South Dakota reservations last fall, conditions got so bad the federal government closed down the emergency room in Rosebud in December. That resulted in patients being diverted to emergency rooms some 50 miles away. Since then, six people have died in the back of ambulances on the way to treatment.

Mary Smith, the now two-months-in head of Indian Health Services (IHS), has called these failings “unacceptable,” and has contracted with a private company to reopen the Rosebud emergency room, as well as run the same on Pine Ridge and Winnebago, Neb. South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem says she intends to bring legislation aimed at “real solutions, not just a fix.” Her opponent in this fall’s upcoming election, Paula Hawks, echoes that sentiment, but questions what, if any, progress can be made without addressing the funding gap for Native health care.

So we have attention on the problem, and the collective intention to solve it. And again, this is not new. We have been here before.

But with some stability of service provided by temporary privatization, and the political will on both sides of the aisle, now is the opportune time for progress, and to not lose sight of the unacceptable, deadly conditions of our fellow South Dakotans.

And this is not just a Rosebud problem, it’s not just an IHS problem, and it’s not just a Bureau of Indian Affairs problem.

We can’t waste this momentum with the insanity of doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. And as Rep. Noem recently pointed out, to find a long-term solution, we’ll need partners with a strong connection to our state. And at some level, the answer is money. IHS successfully lobbied Congress for $2 million to upgrade the Rosebud facility and two others in the region. Money is also needed to help with recruitment of staff, another major problem on reservations.

It’s good these issues have our attention. Let’s not shirk our responsibility this time. Or we’ll be doomed to continue the death/promise/failure cycle.


The Daily Republic, Mitchell, May 23, 2016

Signing up to be a law enforcement officer means signing up for a job filled with stress.

Well documented are police brutality and officer-involved shootings around the country that draw national attention. These incidents cause racial tension and can raise questions as to why one would even desire to pursue a career in law enforcement.

Officers hold one of the few jobs in the country that, in some places, require wearing a camera to record their every move to ensure safety of themselves and those around them.

The impact of stress on law enforcement is massive.

While on duty, officers always need to be ready for anything: a crash, an injury, a crime. Aside from the physical harm officers potentially face each day, verbal abuse from the public can be just as apparent.

When officers are off duty, it’s likely they’re thinking about work and the frustrations that come with it.

In the past, police culture didn’t do a good enough job recognizing stress as a problem that affects officers. Through research, there is now significant evidence showing that unmanaged stress can lead to a number of factors for officers, such as anxiety, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder, according to inpublicsafety.com, a website that features analysis on law enforcement.

More research should be conducted to help avoid the problems that come with being a law enforcement officer. These people protect us, keep us safe and are the first people we call when dealing with an emergency. Their jobs and services are invaluable.

But beyond research needs to be training on how to cope with the stresses of being a law enforcement officer. Last week, a two-day seminar was held at Mitchell Technical Institute for more than 60 officers from South Dakota and Minnesota agencies.

At the seminar, attendees learned that between 125 and 200 police officers commit suicide annually. According to stats from the seminar, the average age of police officers who committed suicide in 2012 was 42.

Some officers are also having heart attacks at alarmingly young ages and others are being dependent on drug and alcohol to cope with their stress.

Officers need to be made aware of these facts, which are undoubtedly concerning. But these suicide rates and other problems that come with being an officer need to be discussed and addressed.

We need good officers to protect and serve us. And as much as we need their help, someone needs to help them. Coping mechanism training should be a requirement for officers. The job is too stressful to ignore.


Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan, Yankton, May 24, 2016

Well, of course, Donald Trump went there. It might even be perversely disappointing if he hadn’t.

To the surprise of absolutely no one who even remotely follows politics, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee this week is ratcheting up his assault on likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by attacking the scandal-plagued legacy of former President Bill Clinton, specifically the aspects of infidelity that have become part of Mr. Clinton’s historic caricature.

Trump’s latest forays into this topic aren’t his first - he made references to it earlier in the primary season. But now, he’s setting the tone for the next six months (just ponder that for a moment) by accusing Ms. Clinton of being an “enabler” for her husband’s philandering behavior because she helped attacked the integrity of some of Mr. Clinton’s female accusers.

He’s also dredging up the death of former Clinton White House aide Vince Foster, whose 1993 passing became the pre-Internet fuel for conspiracy theories throughout the ‘90s and beyond.

Naturally, none of this has much to do with issues such as foreign policy, the economy, the climate, gun violence, national security and so on. But that may be the point of Trump’s barrage, since his record in most of those areas is either murky or wildly inconsistent. But this has been his style - prioritizing personal attacks over policy arguments - since entering the race last summer, and it’s gotten him pretty far.

However, the observation that these attacks don’t address more pressing issues isn’t new: It’s also an echo from the 1990s. That’s what Americans wound up saying back in those frantic days when Republicans tried mightily to make Mr. Clinton’s sexual escapades into politic fodder, which led to the impeachment of the president. It backfired miserably: Not only was Mr. Clinton acquitted, his public approval rating also soared. While Americans didn’t approve of Mr. Clinton’s actions, they were decidedly put off by the attempts to use them as an excuse to concoct a constitutional crisis. In other words, the general public reaction seemed to be: You want to do this because of THAT?

But Trump is unafraid to try it all once more. Everything old is new again to a younger generation, and this is probably seen as a way of re-painting the Clintons in the wearying tones of scandal and skullduggery. It’s a perception that the Clintons themselves tend to clumsily and unwittingly reinforce from time to time.

However, there is some doubt about whether the dusting off of this old playbook will work.

“We’ve been here before, and for most it’s probably old news that people get a little squeamish about,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y) said in a Washington Post story. “Especially (if) he brings it up in the abstract, he risks making the same mistake that Republicans made in 1998 when we got caught up in this stuff.”

What’s more, if this line of attack is meant to make an issue out of personal character … well, that brings Trump’s own highly publicized character and history to the center stage. And that will likely add even more gasoline to an uncomfortably tawdry political fire that may well bake us for the next half-year.

No, Trump doesn’t disappoint.

And that can be awfully discouraging.

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