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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

From ABC KOTA TV in Rapid City, South Dakota:

Remark sparks controversy
4:15:30 PM
Shad Olson

A slip of the tongue incites a racial controversy in Pennington County government.

Comments made by Pennington County Commissioner Ken Davis ...about Native Americans and alcohol ... stirred several people to demand his resignation. "I think he should resign or be removed and immediate action should be taken," Mary Wright said today.

Today's confrontation between Davis and several members of the public follows a comment he made at last week's county board meeting. During a discussion on the proposed jail expansion project, Davis blamed Native Americans for expensive overcrowding at the Pennington County Jail. He said, "The problem is the Native American population off the reservation. They're Federal property and the U.S. government should pay $42 a day when they are drunk or commit crimes."

The statement appeared in a Rapid City newspaper, prompting the angry response from Wright. "For him to make such a comment in the journal publicly, then I think something's wrong with our country," she said.

Davis takes responsibility for making the comment. "I made that statement, and I will take responsibility for any statement that I make and any action that I do," he said. But Davis offers no remorse for what he said. "I would invite anyone who as a problem with that to meet with me one on one or in a group at their convenience."

Wright believes that lack of regret is evidence that Davis doesn't understand his constituents. "When he runs for public office he is serving all of us, including Indians," Wright explained.

Pennington County Commission Chair Mark Kirkeby says the courthouse received numerous phone calls about the statement so he issued an apology on behalf of the rest of the county board, calling Davis' words "a very unfortunate and inappropriate statement." But Kirkeby also points out that the apology does not speak for Davis.

Ironically, minutes after the confrontation over Davis' comment, another county official made a remark in passing that might also be considered racially inappropriate.

Don Phillips, the county 911 dispatch center director, talked to the commission about the need for new computers. During the conversation, Phillips said that he was trying to negotiate a lower price for the machines, saying that he had "Jewed them down."


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