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ROD HALL: Graves needs to join ranks of accurate, truthful

  Thinking about Joe Graves' last article, readers of The Daily Republic would assume Graves would consider Tara Volesky and Rod Hall as "nattering nabobs of negativism." Disgrace, convicted and imprisoned former Vice President Spiro Agnew coined that expression for anyone who had a different idea. Graves explains that "such unfounded and unhelpful criticism -- some of which might be best described as denigration and malice disguised as constructive criticism -- gives a community a black eye and suggests to others that Mitchell is not a good place to move to or bring business to."

Would comments such as putting the classified workers on South Dakota Retirement System, having board meetings when patrons could attend, televising board meetings or even having a clear understanding before granting more tax abatement districts keep reliable businesses and citizens from locating in Mitchell? Future citizens and businesses might want to have the right to know and speak.

But buried near the end of Graves' article is one concept of tremendous importance: "One should always seek accuracy and truth." This brings into question a statement made by Volesky and Hall. They stated the terrazzo flooring at the new Longfellow School was defective and would have to be replaced. The Daily Republic published a letter from Dan Beukelman on June 8, long before the election, that stated "although there were some initial problems with the pouring of the floor, those problems have long since been corrected by the contractor."

What does Graves mean when he writes: "One should always seek accuracy and truth"? Doug Baltzer of the Puetz Corporation wrote Hawkeye Flooring Company on Jan. 29 that there were problems with the terrazzo flooring. The letter was copied to Graves and Morgan/Theeler.

Yes, technically, there were problems with the pouring of the floor, which were improperly patched. Yet the terrazzo, which was improperly installed on the patched poured floor, was delaminating. Beukelman was technically correct when he wrote, "the initial problems with the pouring of the floor have long since been remedied by the contractor."

Where did Beukelman get his information? Did he get it from Graves? Volesky and Hall were talking about the terrazzo. Beukelman was writing about the patching of the cracks in the sub floor. Graves should have known the difference. He had the letter from Puetz Corporation.

If Graves believes one should always seek accuracy and truth, then he, Graves, has been missing in action on this issue.

The people have a right to know, and Graves must answer their questions rather than obscure the issue with partial truth. What Beukelman wrote was true. The poured sub floor had cracks that were improperly repaired by the contractor. Hall and Volesky were concerned about the finished terrazzo floor that was delaminating. That is the truth.

Seeking accuracy would involve all the details. Were there improperly repaired cracks that had to be corrected? The old terrazzo had to be removed, the entire surface had to be resurfaced and the new terrazzo had to be installed in a timely and correct manner.

Are local businesses concerned about the Mitchell schools? When Graves explained that new terrazzo would be installed at no expense to the school district, one local contractor asked: "Does the contractor furnish his electricity, water and air conditioning? Do district employees remove and replace the furniture?" What are those answers?

This, Superintendent Graves, is part of being accurate and truthful.

- Rod Hall, of Mitchell, is a former legislator and school board member.