Sunday, October 5, 2008

Rounds disappointed with tone of opposition

Rounds disappointed with tone of opposition
Seth Tupper , The Daily Republic
Published: 10/04/2008

Gov. Mike Rounds thinks antipathy toward American Indians may be complicating efforts to secure a protective easement near Bear Butte.

Rounds said in a recent phone interview with The Daily Republic that he has been disappointed by the tone of some of the opposition to the proposal.

“I don’t mind a good discussion about the economies or a discussion about the budget on a program or a discussion that’s based on whether or not it’s a good idea to protect parkland,” Rounds said. “But it really boiled down to, ‘You’re doing this for the Indians.’ And you know what? That kind of turns my stomach to have that become part of the debate.

“We shouldn’t be having a debate like that. We should be having a debate about whether or not this is good for South Dakotans in general, regardless of their race, and sometimes I think this has kind of turned a little bit in that respect.”

Rounds declined to identify the specific people or groups to which he attributed those attitudes.

Last winter, Rounds proposed spending $250,000 in state money to help fund an easement that would prevent development on land near Bear Butte, some of which already is protected by a state park designation. Legislators rejected the proposal, and some restated their opposition last week during a meeting of the Legislature’s Department of Game, Fish and Parks Review Committee.

When asked if he thinks racism is derailing the easement proposal, Rounds said “I don’t think there’s anybody in South Dakota that wouldn’t agree with the fact that racism still exists in South Dakota, and if we try to walk away and suggest that racism does not exist, we’re just hiding from it.”

“But once again, just because someone might disagree with my approach does not mean that they are a racist,” he continued. “There are folks that truly just believe the state shouldn’t buy more land, and I respect that. I disagree with it, but I respect it.”

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