Argus Leader, Sioux Falls. Nov. 26, 2012
Wind energy credit vital for S.D.
South Dakota has at least one constant: wind.
It can pack a punch no matter the season with a drying spring wind that allows farmers to head to the fields, a summer blast of hot air that does little to cool us, fall winds that strip a tree naked in a day and howling winds of winter that ignite a blizzard or just make our homes feel more drafty.
Those breezes blow enough for our state to rank fifth in the nation in potential for wind energy development.
But a tax credit that is crucial to the wind energy industry expires at the end of the year with nothing yet to replace it. That leaves an uncertainty in the industry — an unknown that slows any wind development. This year, zero megawatts of new wind power have gone online in the state.
The tax credit waits for a lame-duck Congress to make it a priority and fund the Production Tax Credit. South Dakota's congressional delegation approves extending the tax credit but has work to do and faces budget challenges when it comes to any subsidy.
It's a pricey expense at an estimated $5 billion for one year, but it also generates private investments that far exceed that amount.
It's time for all three of our lawmakers — Sen. Tim Johnson, Sen. John Thune and Rep. Kristi Noem — to work together to help get approval for the tax credit and put aside potential political differences to help an industry that has growth potential in a state where the wind rarely stops blowing. Jobs depend on it, and it's the right thing to do.
We can't change the wind, but we can change the direction of wind development by extending the tax credit, at least temporarily, to help the industry continue to develop this renewable energy source.
Rapid City Journal. Nov. 28, 2012
Preserving Lakota language important
Bryan Brewer knows that he faces a challenge when he is sworn in next month as president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Brewer, who is retired after 30 years as an educator, told the annual Lakota Language Summit held at Rapid City that preserving the language and passing it on to future generations can be a turning point for the Sioux tribes.
"It affects our culture, it affects our children. A lot of them don't know who they are or where they came from," Brewer said. "Through our language and our culture, they're going to know where they came from, and hopefully, that will help. Somehow, it will be intertwined."
Brewer told the group that he intended to lead a Lakota Language Revitalization Initiative when he becomes tribal president that will focus on creating Lakota language immersion schools and identifying fluent Lakota speakers.
A year ago, the Lakota language was declared to be in a state of emergency by state and national groups trying to save Native American languages and an action plan was suggested to the Oglala tribe. Brewer said the OST tribal council ignored the action plan and did nothing.
"We're going step it up and take it before our council and find the funding for it," Brewer said.
According to the nonprofit Lakota Language Consortium, the average age of a Lakota speaker is about 65 years old, and only about 14 percent of residents of the various Sioux reservations can speak their Native language. Without a Lakota language program in Oglala Sioux and other tribal schools, the language could become extinct someday.
That's not too far of an exaggeration. Of the estimated 500 Native American tribes that existed in North America when Christopher Columbus landed in the New World, fewer than 50 Native languages have more than 1,000 speakers today.
We applaud Brewer's commitment to create a Lakota language program in OST schools. Preserving the Sioux culture includes preserving the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota languages.
The Daily Republic, Mitchell. Nov. 27, 2012
Uniforms are too revealing
The Daily Republic recently published a story that made us a bit uncomfortable and may have caused discomfort among some readers, too. The report was about spandex shorts, how those form-fitting bottoms may be too revealing and how they may actually keep some girls from playing interscholastic volleyball. Most high school programs in South Dakota have those shorts as a standard part of their game uniforms.
Turns out, administrators in some South Dakota school districts — including a few in our coverage area — do not feel spandex is appropriate attire for teenage girls. And we wonder if the shorts inhibit participation, since some girls may be too embarrassed to wear the hip-hugging garments in public.
It certainly is an uncomfortable subject. At least one source for that story told us that this subject "isn't interesting." That's closed-minded, since some school districts outright ban spandex shorts, while another just down the road may be entirely OK with them. Obviously, it's an issue schools have been forced to confront.
We feel that in many cases, form-fitting volleyball uniforms have gone too far, for several reasons.
First, we feel the shorts may keep some players from participating. Many school districts offer non-spandex alternatives, but that isn't always an ideal solution. Teenagers generally strive to be part of the crowd and not set themselves apart, especially over concerns about their own bodies or for being too conservative.
It's very possible that tight-fitting uniforms are discriminatory, although it's equally possible that no girl wants to put herself in the kind of spotlight that surely would accompany such a case.
Second, there may be some merit to the argument that the uniforms provide freedom of movement, but we wonder how far we must go to achieve it. Although we have no great argument about the tight-fitting attire worn by gymnasts and wrestlers (except that the dynamic movements of gymnasts and wrestlers seem to require less clothing to get in the way), we do note that girls' basketball players wear loose-fitting tops and baggy shorts down to their knees. If girls' basketball players can move freely in baggy uniforms, why do volleyball players need skin-tight apparel?
Third, we know some parents of volleyball players out there feel the form-hugging gear has gone too far.
Every so often, The Daily Republic quietly receives a complaint about a volleyball photograph being too revealing. Each case is taken seriously, and we strive to publish only pictures that are tasteful and respectful to the young women playing the game.
But think about it: Our photographers are simply sitting in the same crowd that's already there watching the action. If something appears inappropriate in print, doesn't that raise a red flag about the uniforms themselves?
Would girls be allowed to wear spandex shorts to class? We don't know the policy of all area schools, but if not, why are tight-fitting uniforms allowed in the gymnasium in front of hundreds of fans?
We're not crazy. We know it's unlikely schools will go back to more conservative uniforms. To call for such a thing is probably not realistic, though stranger things have happened (think of the evolution of basketball uniforms, from short-shorts to shorts so long they're nearly pants).
So today, we commend the area school districts that have remained conservative. We feel they are the districts that are providing the best opportunities for all of their girls.
Meanwhile, we urge all school districts to consider a conservative approach — or to at least not succumb to more liberal ideas — when considering future uniform options.