Northern Valley Beacon

Information, observations, and analysis from the James River valley on the Northern Plains----- E-Mail: Enter 'Beacon' in subject box. Send to: Minnekota@Referencedesk.org

Saturday, October 01, 2005

 

You want dumb? The Aberdeen American News will give you dumb.

In its latest effort at insuring that it is not dislodged from its position as one of the worst journalistic enterprises in the upper Midwest and as a citadel of South Dakota party-line hackdom, the Aberdeen American News extended its lackey-licks to the sports page today.

Clean Cut Kid already commented on a column in the sports pages of the Aberdeen Assinine News-perversion. Although it is our policy not to duplicate the efforts of other blogs or get into any suck-buddy exchanges with them, we think the journalistic incompetence in today's verbal groveling in behalf of the Kremlin in Pierre requires some comment.

The column does cite the work of the Argus Leader in assembling the facts and doing the story on Gov. Mike Rounds' use of state aircraft for travel that is not related directly to the discharge of his duties. Then the columnist dismisses that work and says it is his turn to give his take on the matter. There is a huge difference. Many of us in the state have been asking for the records on the use of state aircraft to be public for many, many months. The Argus Leader based its stories and its conclusions on documents and facts. It did the basic journalistic job of assembling the facts and citing the sources of information. That is something that is absolutely beyond the ken of the Aberdeen Affront to American Sensibility. They do not know the difference between reporting facts and presenting personal prejudices and judgments as facts. That is why political reports are so often laced with the squeezings from the puny minds of the reporters. We've said it before. The editorial staff of the Aberdeen news-thing could not grasp a journalistic concept if it were emulsified and pumped up the collective colon. Which seems to be what the staff uses as its organ of editorial discernment.

Pappendick (that's the the name of the columnist, not an STD) further says that he believes Gov. Rounds' version for his use of the airplanes because he has sat in editorial meetings and found him to be a pleasant fellow. We assume that the last such meeting is when the Gov. told him what to put in his ridiculous column.

Ironically, the state has a gag law, somewhat but insignificantly modified from its original version, that prohibits state officials from reporting on any financial hanky-panky going on with corporations that the state might have occasion to investigate. That law was put into force when questions were raised about some funds that Citi Bank had obtained during an acquisition of other firms, and the executives and their suck-buddies in state government did not want any information on the transactions bandied about. So, a state law prohibiting government officials from telling the public, who mistakenly think state government operates under their authority, was rushed through the legislature to prevent any such information from being released. Mike Rounds was the point man on getting that law put into place.

Yeah, Mike Rounds is a nice guy and we must trust what he tells us.

We also have a former Brown County legislative leader who said that in his dealings in the legislature, Mike Rounds is the only leader from the opposition who out-and-out lied to him.

As a former state employee who operated university and Game, Fish, and Parks vehicles, I can tell you that this law is applied with rigor and without leniency in most cases:

5-25-1.1. State-owned or leased vehicles to be used for state business only--Exceptions-- Violation as misdemeanor. Vehicles owned or leased by the state shall be used only in the conduct of state business. No state officer or employee, except the Governor, law enforcement officers of the South Dakota Highway Patrol, law enforcement officers of the Division of Criminal Investigation, and conservation officers shall use, or permit the use of, any state-owned motor vehicle other than in the conduct of state business. Nothing in this section shall prohibit any use of any state vehicle, if, in order to provide for the most efficient use of state equipment or personnel, supervisory personnel issue written instructions to any state employee to use a state vehicle for transportation:
(1) Between his permanent residence and his work station; or
(2) Between his temporary residence or eating place and his work station if assigned to a locality other than his permanent residence.
Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Source: SL 1977, ch 56, ยง 1.

Note that the law gives the governor special powers. But it also states the principle about when state vehicles may be used.

The Anal Aberration News claims that the governor should receive special dispensation because he uses the state choo-choo-plane to go to his son's high school athletic events. Being a good father and attending the high school ball games is an excuse. I wish I had known that when I had a state van or pickup truck signed out.

The governor, says the columist, is on duty at all times. His job is not 40 hours a week. Letting him use the state choo-choo-plane is just compensation for those occasions when his time in the wienie line is compromised. He states that if the Gov. takes a break during a ballgame and goes to get himself a wienie, some constituent might ask him for moment of his time and intrude on the good Gov.'s wienie-line time.

As for who is paying for the operation of the state airplanes in the service of the Gov.'s wienie time, that is obscured. The Argus Leader, which understands something about the nature of news and honest government, found that not all trips were by any means to wienie lines. Some were political events of various times to which parties of family and friends were transported. It looks as if the state has footed the bill on some occasions. And others are covered by something called the Governor's Club, which we assume must be subsidized by the wienie concession.

But it turns out that the real shame of this story is the Aberdeen American News, which refuses to admit to its readers that it is a partisan rag that does little to serve its readers or monitor the quality of our government and our democracy.

Columnists have the right to express opinions. Readers, and other journalists, have the right to say, "Jesus Christ, that column is dumb."

Jesus Christ, that column is dumb.

But no dumber than the people who let their local news monopoly get away with a performance on this level.


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