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OUR VIEW: Hisses and Cheers

CHEERS to Avera Queen of Peace for the progressive spirit exhibited in its long-term plan to relocate its campus to a location near Cabela's south of Interstate 90. Debates can be had about what location is best for the hospital and its affiliated facilities, and we are concerned about the effect that Mitchell's south-bound exodus continues to have on the downtown district. But we cannot fault, and really should praise, Avera for being forward-thinking and proactive. If relocating the campus is the best way to maintain and grow a quality health care system for Mitchell and the region, so be it.

HISSES to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, segments of which continue to be disgraced. This week, it was reported that records of dead veterans were altered to hide the number of people who died while awaiting care at the Phoenix VA hospital. Of course, the blame doesn't lie solely with the VA. Congress and the president also are to blame for being quick to send troops into harm's way but slow to adequately fund the VA. Our veterans deserve better and, as U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, wisely said this week, "If we are not prepared to take care of those men and women who went to war, then we shouldn't send them to war in the first place. Taking care of veterans is a cost of war, period."

CHEERS to Gov. Dennis Daugaard and his administration for continuing to make more government information available online. Many politicians give lip service to transparency, but Daugaard has delivered with his Better Government Initiative. The effort's most recent accomplishment is the placement online of dashboard measurements on state finances and economics generated by the Bureau of Finance and Management. The initiative's other accomplishments include opening the Governor's Mansion and the state-owned Black Hills retreat called "Valhalla" for tours, releasing previously sealed invitation lists for government-hosted events, convening an Open Government Task Force, launching an administrative rules website, and creating a new webpage for the public to view budget transfers for past, current and upcoming fiscal years.

HISSES to Johnny Rhoda, who was chairman of the Republican Party in the Second Congressional District in Arkansas when he said of Hillary Clinton, "She'd probably get shot at the state line." He resigned when he began to take heat for the comment, but also complained that the comment was taken out of context and was not intended to be threatening. Anyone involved in politics at a level as high as Rhoda should know there is no joking when it comes to politicians and shootings. It's like joking about terrorists in an airport; there have been too many actual cases for the joke to be funny anymore. If Rhoda still thinks, even after his dumb comment, that it's OK to joke about politicians getting shot, maybe he needs to have a conversation with Gabby Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who nearly lost her life to a gunman's bullet in 2011.

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