Near the end of the 1970 session of the South Dakota Legislature, a guy asked if I'd manage his campaign for a statewide office. Think of that. Some would-be candidate saw me in the press box in the Capitol, scribbling away in one of those pocket-sized reporter's notebooks and thought, "Aha. That 26-year-old farm boy with the wacky necktie and the saddle shoes looks like he could run a successful campaign.''
My kids, adults now, grew up with "Sesame Street,'' which meant that Nancy and I did, too. The show first aired on Public Television in the fall of 1969, when we had a daughter almost 2 years old and a son just eight months. I remember thinking it was kind of a goofy show. As the kids grew a bit older, it was clear that they found many of the program's characters and features fascinating. They were learning a thing or two about numbers and letters and communication and how to treat people, too.
Today, or rather this date, almost always has me feeling disappointed in myself.
I'm going to try to apply an experience from my freshman year of college to Sunshine Week, the annual time set aside in the news world to remind citizens of the importance of open government and a free press. This is the final day of this year's Sunshine Week, although open government must be nurtured, encouraged and applauded every day of the year. Citizens in a democracy need to know what their government is doing if they are to make reasoned judgments on issues, programs and policies. Citizens deserve to know. They have a right to know. And so, Sunshine Week is a reminder.
Back in 1973, when the South Dakota Legislature changed rules and procedures to make it easier for citizens to follow along, a Democrat leader in the Senate said they were "throwing open the windows of the Capitol and letting the sun shine in.'' Harvey Wollman, of Hitchcock, said that or something very close. He was talking about opening the legislative process, anyway, and it was a significant step forward in open government. It made bills and votes and committee hearings much easier to track. It was a user-friendly change that benefited citizens.
When I was growing up, a few teachers thought peer pressure could bring discipline to a group of grade-school or junior-high boys. Actually, I guess it was mostly coaches and gym teachers who thought the old "punish everyone until they pressure the culprit into confessing'' technique would bring positive results. In my experience, it often failed, although the one time it was used on me, it worked quickly.
It's the last week of the South Dakota Legislature's annual session, and I can't be the only person wondering how many bills will be vetoed.
Back in the fall of 1974, early November it was, I stood shoulder to shoulder with the Godfather, actor Marlon Brando, on the south steps of the South Dakota Capitol building.
I listened recently to the audio of a legislative committee hearing on a bill to let people with enhanced permits bring concealed weapons into the state Capitol, and I thought of George Temple and Vinnie Harold.
I saw a thing on Facebook awhile back that asked people to name a development, discovery or invention from their early life that younger folks take for granted. It was something like that, anyway. It made me think, and I came up — no surprise to those who know me — with the Rural Electrification Administration and more specifically, the arrival of electricity on our farm when I was no more than 6 or 7.