Argus Leader letters to the editor: Noem’s response has been underwhelming

Argus Leader letters to the editor for May 8:

Noem’s response has been underwhelming

Kudos to the Argus Leader for the editorial last Sunday responding to Governor Noem’s “Back to Normal” plan for South Dakota’s Covid 19 response. As stated, that response has been underwhelming, particularly regarding testing, and potentially underplaying our state’s long-term challenges to this virus but congruent with our state’s virus data to date. Would the aggressiveness of the response be the same if SD’s death rate was proportional to that of Minnesota or Iowa? Who knows?

In some ways, Noem deserves high marks for her personal presence and leadership during this crisis. The ever-present PSA’s in the media are one solid example raising awareness to all of us across the state. But the gist of her leadership rests on two principles: 1) Appeal first and continually to people’s sense of personal responsibility and prudence to voluntarily do the right thing – social distance, self-quarantine, etc; and 2) an aversion to government mandates that are equated with red tape. As the editorial rightly pointed out, that only gets you so far and only as long as our state numbers are what they are.

Noem receives low marks, in my opinion, for invoking the ultimate right of personal responsibility which also allows as collateral impact the right of individuals to ignore and to knowingly or unknowingly be “typhoid Mary”. That places all of us, in the face of re-opening strategies, in the default position of discerning when and to what extent to play Russian Roulette, especially in the absence of comprehensive testing. Interestingly, it’s deemed important to invoke putting power in the hands of the people when it comes to social distancing and Covid 19 mitigation but not with plastic grocery bags. That one, we needed to decide in Pierre.

Equally troubling was the politicization of this public health crisis to pander to President Trump in the form of the hydrochloroquine clinical trial, in which South Dakota health care providers seemingly were complicit.

To Noem’s credit, her personal leadership has been substantially better than President Trump’s. South Dakota’s response, arguably less than desired, has been coordinated and on-message because of Governor Noem; the Federal government’s has been such in spite of President Trump or hampered because of him and his inconsistent messaging while international leadership has been zero. As one commentator noted, “at a time of national crisis, America is led by a whiny, childlike man whose ego knows no bounds and is too fragile to let him concede ever having made any kind of error.”

— Bill Kubat, Sioux Falls

Vote for the best hire I ever made

Fifteen years ago, I hired Crystal Johnson as a Deputy State’s Attorney; it was the best hire I ever made. She quickly became a leader in the office and was soon handling some of our biggest cases. Several years later, she was appointed Magistrate Judge, but left that position to return to the State’s Attorney’s Office because she missed the work. Crystal is dedicated to the office.

Earlier this year, Judge Houwman appointed Crystal to be Acting State’s Attorney when the office needed a breath of fresh air. Two weeks later, the County Commission appointed her Interim State’s Attorney in a unanimous vote of confidence. Crystal has the support of law enforcement, her staff works hard for her, the judges like her, and the defense lawyers respect her. She’s tough, fair, smart, and is a natural leader. She’s doing a great job as our State’s Attorney.

Crystal has been working hard for us every day as our State’s Attorney, and she’s earned my vote to stay on the job. I hope you think she’s earned yours too, and encourage you to vote for her, absentee or otherwise, in the June 2 Republican primary.

— Dave Nelson, Former Minnehaha County State’s Attorney

Trump can learn a lesson from Cuomo

When I returned from Vietnam, I found out that my father would watch the news everyday, something he rarely did. Why? Concern for me being there. Now 52 years later I am doing the same thing. We have more major news networks now and being retired I have more time to watch them. Why?

Concern for my family, friends and acquaintances.

Science and politics do not mix. As the leader of our country, the Commander in Chief, President Trump, should follow the science. For all his press conferences and Covid-19 briefings, I do not feel secure nor safe as to what he says. Politics aside, for a truly informed Covid-19 Pandemic Daily Report, tune in CNN around 11:00 a.m. and listen to Governor Cuomo of New York State. It is very informative as to what is occurring there, both good and bad.

— Martin Blath, Jr., Dell Rapids

Missteps in coronavirus response

Gov. Kristi Noem has badly handled the Covid-19 outbreak in South Dakota. Why didn’t she order all Smithfield employees to self-quarantine at home when the virus was first detected and the packing plant was first shut down? That shortcoming resulted in thousands of furloughed Smithfield employees mixing among Minnehaha and Lincoln County residents and further spreading the disease. Noem ordered all state employees in Pierre to work from home, and that undoubtedly lessened the number of cases there. She should have used the same tactic to require idled Smithfield workers to stay home. It would have just been “common sense”, governor. Instead, many more people are being infected, resulting in unnecessary hospitalizations and deaths in our state’s largest city.

— Rita Robinson, Sioux Falls

Requesting a bike lane in Sioux Falls

I am requesting the city seriously consider creating a bike lane around Minnesota Avenue to 69th St, east to Cliff Ave then south to 85th St. then west to Minnesota Ave. Also, the possibility of connecting to the bike trail without having to go down the steep inclines on Minnesota or Cliff (connecting over near the 57th and Western Avenue area). There is a large population in this area of people over 55 years of age who would like a safe area to bike without having to travel to the bike path. This could include using bridges or tunnels to cross major intersections.

The current designated bike lane in this area is the small shoulder area of these streets. This area is often littered with small rocks, which has led to people riding their bikes on the sidewalks. Also, these roadways have a higher speed limit and I do not feel safe riding my bike in this designated area. I know you feel the health and safety of your citizens is a priority.

My suggestion is to make a safe bike lane off the street, between the sidewalk and the actual street. Going into the future, it would be nice to have a bike lane that would connect southern Sioux Falls to Harrisburg to give even more riding options. As examples you can look how the administration of some major cities have made safe bike lanes: Bogota, Colombia; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Amsterdam and many more cities and towns.

Many people in our area would greatly appreciate a designated, safe bike lane to allow us the opportunity for this type of physical exercise without having to load our bikes onto vehicles to travel to a location to get on the bike path around the city. As stated previously, the speed limits in our area are 35-40 mph with many people exceeding those limits.

With all the road construction and road improvements going on, now would be a good time to consider addressing this issue.

— Linda Ermuk, Sioux Falls

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