Seriously — do I have to remind you all….don't put it in writing if you don't want to see it in the Argus

When I used to work as a Press Secretary I held dear to the “Argus” test which was this — If I didn’t want to see it printed in the Argus — then don’t put it in writing. That was of course prior to Facebook and the explosion of the blogs and other alternative media — which makes the rule all that more important.   Of course the spirit of the rule was — don’t be stupid or chances are you’ll see it in print… people videotape themselves being stupid (or take phone photos — ahem former Congressman) and willing post them.  I don’t get that — even a little.

Jill Callison at the ARGUS (see rule above) has an article demonstrating that some lawmakers in Pierre should learn the Argus rule.  (Hat tip to Greg Belfrage on his Facebook post) In my less than humble opinion, it’s embarrassing to their position as legislators and to their party to have sent those snarky emails and to have been called out….it’s an honor to be elected and serve.  You should act like it….even when you don’t want to — that’s part of the responsibility that goes with being elected to represent us.  Trust me….I understand getting all the crappy emails, letters and comments….I’ve been there (working for a Senator after all engenders the whole range of feelings) and sure I’ve wanted to snap back and I’ve probably done it more than once.  But it’s never won the discussion or the day.

Oh and the second part of the rule — the Argus will not be likely to print your retraction or apology — so get it right the first time.

We can respectfully disagree.

33 Replies to “Seriously — do I have to remind you all….don't put it in writing if you don't want to see it in the Argus”

  1. mhs

    Well said. Also practical political advice that seems to always have to be learned by some politicians the hard way. My dad preached that when he worked for Sen. Case in the 50’s, for crying out loud.

  2. Mr. Obvious

    Great advice Kristi, and I hope both sides of this ugly debate understand that civility goes both ways. Jill Callison called out the legislators for the their rude responses (rightfully so) but neglected to show how rude the Prof was in his letter. Incivility breeds incivility, and while I understand that elected oficals should rise above it, I suspect the three responses printed were the aggregate effect of getting hundreds, if not thousands of similar bitchy notes from the pro-education supporters. I’d encourage legislators to start sending in some of the nasty-grams they get to this site for publication. Those letter writers don’t play nice, If you slipped some sodium penathol into the cocktaills of most legislators, they would admit that a small part of them wants to stick it to these jack-wagons for being so unreasonable. Best example: the queen bee Dr. Spam Homan calls the gov hallf-assed and no one throws a flag. Imagine if the roles were reversed. Do unto others…

  3. Steve Hickey

    I just dropped the following in the comment string at the Argus…

    Jill – I also got the original email from Dr. Bucklin also and I’m glad I didn’t take the bait and respond in kind. He sent me back a reply thanking me for the way I answered – I’d be happy to forward both to you. Please don’t miss the fact that he is a state employee. You could do a similar story on how our mail boxes are being filled up by teachers, a few of whom use no restraint in calling us idiots, morons, half-assed and more. The remarkable thing is they use their state email address. They should be held to the same standard. Rep. Steve Hickey – District 9

    1. Kristi Golden

      I totally agree — everyone should be more civil — no matter who is paying their wages. Again I get the frustration and anger…..but people when did that ever win a point?

    2. Brad S

      While I’m glad to hear that you showed more discipline than what I would have shown toward Dr. Bucklin, I at least hope you gently told Dr. Bucklin that not more than a few constituents in District 9 have lost more “purchasing power” in their salaries than he did.

      Having said that: Frankly, Kristi, why should anyone in Rapid City pay one lick of attention to anything the Gannett-owned Argus Liar has to say in this day and age? Especially since the places where one can pick up a copy of the Argus Liar in RC are very few and very far between, and ESPECIALLY since it’s a lot easier to go online to get validation of your viewpoints in ways the Argus Liar will never supply? Brian Gosch’s response to Dr. Bucklin was a no-lose proposition for him, even if he has to deal with a certain Sen. Adelstein in his own district.

      1. Kristi Golden

        So let me get this straight….it’s okay to be rude to someone if 1. They aren’t in your district, 2. They live on the other side of the state. Seriously?

      2. Mark

        I don’t know if it was a “no-lose” proposition. Such things are a distraction to what Gov. Daugaard is attempting to do. This may not hurt the re-election prospects of these represenatives, but it could hurt the larger image of Gov. Daugaard’s efforts. It could even hurt the larger image of the SD Republican Party.

        Obviously, this is, by itself, a minor distraction. These things, however, can add up to a bigger picture, and this pretty much gives free material to anybody willing to print the negative lit.

        I support the Republican Party, but this actually does communicate to me that the legislature needs to get some stuff sorted out on proper ettiquette – even if it’s in response to a rude email from a state employee.

  4. Name

    I find Hickey’s comments disingenuous at best. He is one of the worst offenders of civility in the legislature. Just proir to one of his bills being unanimously rejected by a committee of his peers he made the statement that the opposing lobbyists were “unchristian vultures”. Apparently name calling is part of his peculiar theology. He needs to remember that every word he utters in a committee is archived for all to hear. I suspect when he made these distasteful comments he lost what ever support he may have had for his bill.

  5. Don

    In this digital age, the billboard test applies today more than ever and not just for public officials. If your actions or words appeared on a billboard, would you be okay with what they said or portrayed? Good advice for public officials, children, spouses, etc, etc, etc.

  6. R. Shawn Tornow

    Kristi, Please understand that I have been actively involved in politics on a number of levels for over 20 years. I need no reminder of how the other side will almost always try to demonize conservative-based responses in the political arena. That having been said, please further note that I stand firmly behind every word that I offered by way of a response to this professor/state employee’s threats to Republican legislators. In addition, I would expect that you would not be so quick to fall for the leftist spin which Mr. Bucklin’s self-proclaimed “BFF” attempted to paint within her “story.” That is, please note that Jill C. included only approx. 1/3 of my actual response to Bucklin. I also said – and very much continue to believe – the following:

    …Suffice it to say, having graduated a number of years ago from the University of South Dakota Business School and, later, from the USD School of Law, I’m disheartened to be considered an alum from an instituition where this type of hollow and self-centered thought process would be not only contemplated as any type of logical communication but actually sent to state policymakers for legislative consideration…

    Again, as both an alum of such a publicly funded institution as well as a legislator, I whole-heartily stand behind those responses. Furthermore, on both a state and national level, I believe the most recent election clearly demonstrated that the overwhelming majority of voters (sometimes referred to as the proverbial ‘silent majority’) appreciates more candor in our political discourse as opposed to the all-too-common disingenuous platitudes offered by the other side. RST

      1. J Rae

        That is possibly the best 2 word response I have ever read! Thanks Kristi!

        Oh yeah, RST, am I reading your comment correctly in that you seem to think that as a legislator, you have a position that is above reproach by the people you serve?

        But let’s look a little closer at your comments. “…the other side will almost always try to demonize conservative-based responses in the political arena.” Seriously…that’s a little paranoid in a state that is totally dominated by conservatives.

        It’s good that you appreciate candor..,it’s unfortunate that you don’t understand the positive and negative components of candor and when candor needs to be tempered with…maybe maturity!

        But I do understand your frustration with the Argus given how they reported the facts around your either resignation or firing from the City of Sioux Falls. Since you seem to be a fan of candor…here’s the link to the story if anyone missed it:

        1. J Rae

          Oh shoot RST, that was probably a good example of candor gone beyond what should be expected in a civil discourse. Let’s try this:

          Shawn, I sure appreciate the stress that the legislators are under while they try and get a grip on the mess that we have with our budget. I know that once in a while there will be those that want to share their frustration with you and how it would be easy to just dismiss them out of hand and maybe even be tempted to toss them under the proverbial bus, but heck let’s be above that. Wouldn’t that be a better way to lead?

          Of course you can probably sense their frustration at having had their wages frozen for a couple of years and now you are wanting to not just freeze their salaries, but maybe even cut them a little bit. Really, who can blame them for being tempted to think of themselves and their families for just a moment.

          You just stay strong and forget that they are people too…just like you. Heck, they may even have families…but that’s not your concern.

          Hopefully, state employees, schools and those that are vulnerable enough to rely on medicaid and state help are the only ones that will send you nasty letters in this whole process. Think of the blow back you would get if you were to tell some businesses that the tax break generosity of the legislature just couldn’t happen any more due to our current fiscal crisis. While it looks like you won’t make them suffer that same sacrifice of the others, that could also send some nasty mail your way.

          Hang in there and let’s all hope that no one will question what you are doing in Pierre for all of us regular people. Above all, you just stay classy!

          1. J Rae

            Sorry, that was probably not right either. Let’s try this.

            Shawn, you told us that people like candor, so here’s candor.

            You are a public servant. Think for just a minute as to what being a public servant means and how a public servant should act. Empathize, sympathize, apologize if you need to… and then grow up!

            Was that enough candor?

  7. Cliff Hadley

    The lawmakers’ responses to Prof. Bucklin were perfectly clear and, and the same time, perfectly civil. That’s how life is in the public arena. No apologies or retractions were needed.

    Having lived most of my adult life in public — as a teacher, a newspaper editor and now a retailer — I always assumed everything I said and did was a matter of record. Have I slipped up? You bet. That’s what Holy Communion is for.

  8. wow

    Many times when we do not get the feedback we want, we get upset. Most of us just get bitter but deal with it. The Argus is there to be a place of refuge for all of the wounded misunderstood “patriots” to crawl to and to plead their cases KNOWING GOOD AND WELL that their cries of injustice will be shared with the reading audience, which in my area has gotten considerably smaller. Regarding Representatives and Senators of this state, the amount of crap they takein the district should be in direct proportion to their salaries…so that amounts to 6,000.00, which should then be very minimal. From now on, I am guessing that few will even respond to lunatics like Bucklin…he has closed the dialogue.

  9. grudznick

    This young Mr. Bucklin fellow seems to be a bit of a hothead for one who is so learned and makes a quite nice salary. I was shown how to look it up on line, and Mr.Bucklin could easily afford to sponor the Conservatives with Common Sense breakfasts for a long period of time. I hope he considers that .

  10. J Rae

    Personally, I don’t care if the letter to our elected public servants was rude or not…it’s wrong to respond in that manner. As elected public servants, they represent and are a reflection of the entire state and I would hope that they would work to present themselves at a higher level that would dignify the position and the state.

    Think of it this way, if you owned a store or restaurant and a member that represented your company popped off to a customer like the elected individuals did, no matter how deserving that customer was, you would probably either fire the service person, or at the least reprimand them. Either way, I would expect my managers to act with class and decorum.

    The representatives in the story have shown none.

    I think the thing that is a more than a little disconcerting, is that these representatives, and some of the comments here, seem to show a disdain for state employees. Not one of them started their letter with “I can empathize with your frustration at you watch costs go higher and higher and that as a valued employee of the state you have seen your wages stay flat and now see the potential of a cut in pay in the future.”

    Maybe the next time we go to recruit the best and the brightest of our youth to stay and work in SD, we’ll tell them how we really feel right up front so that there are no expectations and that it’s just that they should be glad to have a job and if they don’t like it – tough – go elsewhere.

    Why is it seeming more like our attitude toward employees in general is that they can leave any dream of opportunity at the door, just be damn happy you have a job and shut up…interesting long term management strategy.

    That leads me to believe that they have very little respect for the people who have chosen to serve the people of our state and in the elected officials eyes they have stopped being people, many with families, that you view as commodities that serve at your pleasure.

    One last thing to the representatives…you are public servants as well and not above anyone anyone else in this state, including state employees. Please remember that. We don’t work for you…you work for all of us. Got that RST?

    1. Ted-9

      J Rae: “…you are public servants as well and not above anyone anyone else in this state, including state employees. Please remember that. We don?t work for you?you work for all of us…if you owned a store or restaurant and a member that represented your company popped off to a customer like the elected individuals did, no matter how deserving that customer was, you would probably either fire the service person, or at the least reprimand them.”

      Your previous use of the business owner and his/her employee treating a customer poorly is a good one.

      First, South Dakota is the business; the governor is the CEO; the legislators, as a whole, are a co-equal Board of Directors. They are all employed by and work for South Dakota.
      In addition, all public school teachers, professors, snow-plow drivers, corrections officers, etc., are state employees, and they, too, are paid by, and work for, the taxpayers of South Dakota–ultimately their “customers”.

      Second, like or not, some state employees (legislators and governor) have a very substantial say as to whether other state employees (teachers, professors, etc.) get pay raises. Just like the restaurant owner, their fiduciary duty is to act in the best interests of their business (the State) and it’s ability to serve its customers (taxpayers). Hopefully, the employees of the business will understand that if the business has had a rough patch economically, the likelihood of their getting a raise (or keeping their job) is diminished.

      Third, taxpayers are the customers. Treating customers poorly (bad behavior, bad service, etc.) always is bad for any business. It’s also bad for business to raise prices (taxes).

      Using this framework, I hope you can appreciate Rep. Tornow’s (and other legislators’)perspective(s) and strong feelings expressed in this and previous threads. Professor Bucklin is like your bad restaurant employee: he smarts off to his boss (the person who decides his salary) he threatens to punish/boycott the restaurants’ customers (local gas station owners, tax preparers, grocers, etc.–all taxpaying customers) all the while complaining he deserves to be paid more. Really? At the end of the day, good legislators/governors must run the State of South Dakota like any business would–in its best interests and the best interests of its customers (taxpayers)–not by responding to poorly-behaved peevish employees like Bucklin.

      Just like any poorly run business, it will lose customers, and either go broke or come under new management. Taxpayers=customers=voters. These people decide whether Rep. Tornow, Gosch, et al get fired every 2 years. Whom do you think they will listen to and defend? And whom do you think they will “reprimand” (your word)?

    2. Les

      Not that I enjoy doing it J Rae, but in a calm manner I fire customers that do not treat me or my help well enough to treat them as guest. I have had other customers view the situation and to a tee, tell me they appreciated what I had done.

  11. John

    Shawn do you suppose your attitude had anything to do with why Huether fired you? Or Munson didn’t have the backbone to do it? Good luck with your appeal. You know that liberal policy to help employees that may have wrongly fired!

  12. mhs

    Shawn, look to the past to learn a few things about how to be a legislator. I once saw Joe Barnett take the head off of a senior state official during a summer study hearing. It was civil, professional, dignified and utterly devastating. I had the unique opportunity to sit through a malpractice jury trial between Joe and Charlie Thompson, a couple heavyweights duking it out in front of a jury in the most civil, professional way imaginable, yet, with neither of them giving the other an inch.

    You can be a nobody back-bencher or treat your public service with dignity and aspire to be a leader people remember 25 years after his death like Joe. The choice is yours.

  13. wow

    Remember that Rep. Tornow does represent HIS DISTRICT. When someone out of district writes to everyone, mouthing off, maybe he should be put in his place. Maybe also you could do a little checking on the professor..just sayin’. Choose whom you damn and whom you defend wisely, my friends.

  14. wow

    By the way, what would be the worst thing to come from not e-mailing people back…oh, I guess it would be that: not e-mailing people back. That is what I would suggest when a 6,000 dollar representative gets fire from the enemy.

  15. anymouse

    Here’s an idea, stop responding to people who aren’t in your district or respond to them that you have referred their letter to their representative. How hard is that? Liberals are great at mass mailings, don’t fall for the trap and avoid being baited by the Angus Liberal.

  16. Mike Quinlivan

    Mr. Tornow “represents” my district in the legislature. He can believe in the so called “silent majority” or whatever else he wishes to call his base of support, but it would probably do him well to remember in this last election, with the republicans making massive gains, District 14 was basically spilt evenly four ways. Jeff Winters could have just as easily been in Mr. Tornow’s seat. After getting whupped in, if I remember correctly, 2006, perhaps he should remember to reel it in a bit, lest we kick him to the proverbial curb, AGAIN.

  17. Stop-All-the-Whining

    Mike, I used to go to church with our Rep. here in District 14. Seemed to be a good enough guy. I don’t know that I agree with all of his votes, but he does represent a good majority of my beliefs.

    Since this is my district to, I watched this race last November and I believe our Rep. won his seat by something less than 100 votes. In fact, I think I remember seeing that he missed being the top vote getter by just over 100 votes. The union’s guy, Winters, finished 4th out of 4 candidates (losing out by about 300 votes or so). I’m not sure what politically correct world you might be living in but last place in an election really is last place! To say the votes were “basically split evenly” is really a stretch – even for staunch union sympathizers. Is your thought kind of like there shouldn’t be winners and losers in kids sporting events but the kids were all pretty “evenly matched.” Here in the real grown-up world it doesn’t work like that – some win and some lose. I think it’s time to face it, your union blood-brother lost. Hopefully, though, you and your union/firemen friends will put up more leftwinger candidates in future legislative races – and they too can continue to come in last on “basically evenly split” ballots and Republicans can then increase their numbers on the majority side both in Pierre and out in DC!

    1. Mike

      To Annonynous Guy,

      First and foremost, I am not in a union. I hate unions to tell you the truth. My point, which if you look at the returns, and I am certain that you did, is that everyone got roughly 25% of the vote. Yes, Fienstein and Tornow won, by a smidge. Wow, great for them! Yes, there are winners and losers; just look at your post, you have obviously lost in the DNA sweepstakes. However obnoxious, and however a huge jackass you wish to be, numbers don’t lie, and anyway you look at it, it was a fairly close race statistically. Four guys each getting 25% of the vote is not a landslide win, nor a crushing loss for any of them. It could have easily gone anyway. So, go back to fourth grade and learn your fractions you obnoxius prick.

  18. ExDirector

    First of all I agree with Mr. Schoenbeck, Rep. Gosch’s response was witty and not uncivil at all. Seriously though are we not all adults? So a couple of Legislators responded in a “not so” nice manner, WAH! Grow up if you don’t want a direct and candor response than don’t send the emails to begin with. Prof. Bucklin acted like a child when he wrote his email to the Representatives and thus he should have gotten a chlid like response, however I don’t think that is what he got, he got some very direct, factual and ADULT responses. Prof. Bucklin made a comment that appeared to say if I don’t get my way I am going to take my toys and leave the sandbox…really? Well then go ahead and take those toys and leave, you prove nothing by making those kinds of statements. I laughed out loud when I read Gosch’s response….


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