Sanford puts golf, profits above public health: Your Letters to the Editor for Sept. 13

Golfers play a pro-am game ahead of the Sanford International on Thursday, September 10, at the Minnehaha Country Club in Sioux Falls.

Letters to the Editor for Sept. 13: 

Sanford puts golf, profits above public health

It’s been six months since COVID-19 hit our community, changing how we live our lives and shifting our perspective on public health. And while I’m proud of the front line staff and health care workers who show up each day and risk their personal health to care for others, I am deeply ashamed and embarrassed that our largest health care system, Sanford Health, has decided to place partnerships and profit over community health.

This week marks the beginning of the Sanford International golf tournament. And while Sanford promises they are committed to the safety of the players and spectators, they fail to mandate masks and have already shown little effort to ensure social distancing. Tuesday evening, more than 400 people piled inside another Sanford owned facility, Great Shots, for the “Celebration of Champions.” Masks were uncommon, spacing was limited and COVID-19 seemed like a thing of the past. Has Sanford forgotten their role as a healthcare leader? Have they forgotten that our community is actually a hot spot for COVID?

As each day passes, more and more people will pile together both inside the country club and on the golf course to witness PGA champions play. But while Sanford is eager to promote this “incredible partnership” that is “great for the community,” I stand here wondering when Sanford will care more about the health of its community versus the profits it can collect? Within two weeks it is likely we will see our county COVID numbers rise as a direct result of this super spreader event. If Sturgis was any indication, we are certain to see COVID spread as a result of this PGA event.

But worry not – there are plenty of beds in our hospitals! We are totally able to care for those who get sick. Surely our vulnerable populations are happy to take one for the team so Sanford’s leadership can enjoy cocktails with washed up golf champions.

Jane Erickson, Sioux Falls

Freedom, Kristi Noem-style

Congratulations to Gov. Noem! She has put our great state in the limelight by promoting unrestricted mass gatherings—including fireworks for Donald Trump and the Sturgis biker binge—which have boosted South Dakota to second in the nation in per capita COVID infections. Now she is spending $5 million in federal virus relief money on a Fox commercial, featuring her, promoting South Dakota as a restriction-free tourist zone. In short, she invites people to exercise freedom without the burden of responsibility.

But the governor is not finished. Having disregarded public health and safety in her fealty to the reality-denying president and to her immature version of freedom, she has now turned her sights on South Dakota’s environment and natural resources. She has announced that she will expunge the very word “environment” from state government by collapsing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) into the Agriculture Department.

DENR exists to protect the environment and natural resources we all share. That includes science-based regulation of polluting industrial-grade livestock confinements. Noem pushed a bill through the Legislature to curb local control over such industries, arguing that the state should be in charge. And now, by executive fiat, she aims to stifle state oversight as well.

That is of course consistent with her devotion to “freedom without responsibility.” Why should corporate profits be hindered by old-fashioned notions of protecting public resources like water and air, values shared by true family farmers and other South Dakotans who drink the water and breathe the air?

The only question is, will she get away with it? Will our legislators, who supposedly represent us all, bow to her perversion of “freedom,” or will they stand up for responsibility?

Jerry Wilson, Vermillion

Survived, not recovered from, COVID

I read every day in the Argus how many people in South Dakota have “recovered” from covid-19. This makes it sound as if once you get over it, you’re fine. That is not the truth. Just because you don’t die from Covid doesn’t mean you’ve recovered.

Many, of not most, people who survive covid have long term debilitating after-effects. Many have damage to their bodies that is irreversible.

Let me suggest that instead of “recoveries,” the Argus use “survivals” instead. It’s much more accurate.

Randee Huber, Sioux Falls

In support of legal marijuana

You don’t have to be ‘pro-marijuana’ to believe that cannabis prohibition doesn’t work, just like you don’t have to be ‘pro-alcohol’ to realize that prohibition of beer, liquor and wine doesn’t work, either! People who want it will find it, the question is who profits from it: illegal dealers and drug cartels, or our public schools and our general fund, thus lowering our taxes. It’s an easy choice for me–I’m voting for Amendment A!. Let’s get rid of a criminal element in South Dakota – the dealers of pot. With Amendment A, SD can have a highly regulated and controlled system for dispensing marijuana.

My philosophy is decriminalizing marijuana use and offering treatment for addiction is the healthy approach to not only giving a person an opportunity for a healthy life, but creates a healthier society.

South Dakota has the harshest marijuana laws in the country, which means our taxpayers have had to pay untold millions to chase and imprison people who pose no real threat to anyone. On November 3, let’s vote “yes” on Amendment A to end all of this wasteful spending. Amendment A includes a 15% tax on marijuana users, so we can use that new revenue to strengthen our South Dakota communities.

It’s time, South Dakota. Vote “yes” on both Amendment A and Measure 26.

Charlene Lund, Pierre

Mayor wrong to not allow voting boxes

When there was an ice storm, the city opened the landfill to citizens without fees. It did the same after three tornadoes in one night, too.

Due to the pandemic, the city waved utility late fees for six months as well.

In fact, in a recent piece on KELO, our mayor encouraged those who are contemplating suicide to call his office for help.

But unfortunately in the middle of a pandemic, our city leaders currently show no interest in facilitating voters with voting boxes at city locations.

But why? Well, the mayor worries about the integrity of the election process supposedly. He quotes the Iowa Secretary of State to make that claim, but don’t city locations have security and or cameras?

And then again, how safe is a mailbox on a street corner, based on the mayor’s concerns, which has always been allowed to take mail-in ballots, if voting boxes – which are built with same integrity as a USPS mail box – cannot be used for this election?

It’s clear to me, the city’s opposition to helping with voting boxes is not about the integrity of an election, rather it is just plain old voter suppression, because the mayor’s opposition to voting boxes on city properties walks like a duck, acts like a duck, and sounds like a duck to me.

John Kennedy Claussen, Sr., former chr. and current v-chr. of the Minnehaha County Democratic Party

Merging Ag and Environment departments a bad decision

“Under God, the People rule.” This is supposed to be South Dakota’s state motto. Given recent events, perhaps that motto should be changed to “Kristi Noem and Big Ag rule.” I doubt that God would applaud any of the actions designed to further pollute and ruin his sublime creation.

I am referring to the recent announcement by the governor to merge the Department of Agriculture with the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), to create a new agency, the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Somehow the word “Environment” got left out of the equation.

It would be nice if the Department of Agriculture and the DENR would work together to bring about more sustainable farming practices in South Dakota; then, such a merger might make more sense. Instead, the Department of Agriculture seems to turn a blind eye to the farming methods that do the most harm to our environment: big animal confinement operations, monoculture, and use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, to name just a few. The DENR is charged with protecting South Dakota’s environment and natural resources. How is it supposed to do that if it is swallowed up into an agency that has little interest in conservation and, per the governor’s words, “will serve our producers better than before”?

Agriculture may be South Dakota’s number one industry, but unless we work to protect the land and the water with sustainable practices, the soil will be too exhausted and the water too polluted to carry on any kind of farming or ranching. Not to mention the effects downstream that are happening from our poisoning the environment here. Think of the huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that grows larger every year, due to agricultural runoff into our rivers and streams.

I believe that the people of South Dakota are more concerned about our environment than the governor gives us credit for. She may be able to implement the merger of the two departments, but the Legislature can reverse this with a majority vote. Give the rule back to the people: contact your legislators and urge them to overturn this foolish merger.

Susanne Skyrm, Vermillion

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