Thursday, March 29, 2012

It blows away coal

Posted on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 4:00 AM

Montana voters have spoken, and they are overwhelmingly in favor of renewable energy.

Two impartial polls, one conducted in Montana and another in six Western states, illustrate the extent to which Western voters support renewable energy development and policies. Both polls were conducted by a bipartisan team that includes Republican pollster Lori Weigel, of Public Opinion Strategies, and Democratic pollster Dave Metz, of Fairbanks, Maslin, Maulin, Metz and Associates.

The Montana poll found that three out of four Montana voters support increasing the amount of electricity we get from clean, renewable wind, solar and geothermal resources. Over 75 percent of voters support expanding and extending the state’s renewable energy standard from a 15 percent renewable energy target by 2015 to a 25 percent renewable energy target by 2025.

The poll, conducted in Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana and Utah, found that Western voters view renewable energy as a job creator and a way to improve their states' economic situation. An overwhelming majority of Montana voters also view renewable energy as an important part of our energy future. Eighty-six percent of respondents supported increasing the use of wind and solar energy, compared to only 32 percent that would like to see the state increase its use of coal.

It only makes sense that our state and national policies should reflect public support for renewable energy. As a Montana Public Service Commissioner, I have personally seen how strong policies can catalyze renewable energy development in Montana.

Take Montana’s renewable energy standard. Since it was enacted in 2005, renewable energy companies and utilities have brought over 300 megawatts of clean wind energy online. Just this month, the PSC approved the new 40-megawatt Spion Kop wind facility in central Montana, which puts Northwestern Energy on track to meet its 15 percent renewable energy target by 2015, while providing affordable, clean and reliable electricity for its customers. And, electricity from Spion Kop will cost less than NWE’s share of electricity from the coal-burning facility at Colstrip. In addition, the cost of electricity produced at Spion Kop is lower than the average cost of electricity available on the market since 2000.

Aligning policy with the views of the voters and expanding the renewable energy standard would lead to development of more projects like Spion Kop and would help Montana further tap into its abundant supply of wind energy. At least one study shows Montana tied for second with Kansas in wind-capacity potential.

The benefits of developing our wind and solar resources are many. Throughout the U.S., renewable industries have brought thousands of new U.S.-based manufacturing jobs, at a time when numerous other industries have shipped jobs overseas. Also, renewable energy projects delivered needed construction work and tax revenues to rural counties throughout the recession, something Americans of all walks of life can support. Plus, we can all appreciate a source of energy that never runs out, is emission-free and helps keep our water and air clean.

If you agree that wind and other renewable energy sources are good for Montana and for Montanans, please let the many candidates running for office this spring and fall know where you stand. Urge them to enact policies that expand renewable energy development and the economic and environmental benefits it brings.

Gail Gutsche

Montana Public Service Commission

Missoula

I’m gay and Christian

Posted on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 4:00 AM

When reading the article in the Independent “Hamilton School Board debates LGBT protection” (March 15), I found the words of Pastor Kevin Horton of Crossroads Christian Fellowship in Victor very rude, disrespectful and hurtful. I am of Christian faith and believe in the Bible. Because I am a homosexual does not mean that I can’t be Christian. God said to love everyone equally. I think that passing the proposal to prohibit discrimination and bullying against LGBT students and teachers would make a lot of people who are LGBT feel safer, and teens wouldn’t have to worry about being teased.

Courtney Baxter

Missoula

Don’t deny it

Posted on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 4:00 AM

The Independent article “Playing catch-up” (March 22) sort of took my breath away. Not really, but it did expose the ignorance of the history of how the white man got on the reservation. The Blackfeet Indians today are subject to the “slow-death measures” of genocide, compared to the genocide of massacre, starvation, smallpox, whiskey trade and Indian removal. The Piegans (Blackfeet) went from a population of approximately 7,800 in 1850 to 1,811 by 1890 due to the genocide of frontier Montana, and their land base was reduced by 17 million acres by 1886 and millions more by 1896, the year of the last Blackfeet land cession.

Confederate soldiers were sent up the Missouri River by the Union Army in 1862, and the Texas cattle kings brought vast cattle herds to Blackfeet Confederacy lands by 1860. The Blackfeet lands were reduced to 1.5 million acres by the 1896 agreement, and allotment land frauds reduced the land base by 500,000 acres more. The immigrants took the water holes, gold mines, oil fields, hay meadows, water rights, timber, tourism businesses and retail and government contracts, leaving the Indians in poverty.

It is hard to see what is left for the state and white men to take from the Indians. The Crow, Salish, Fort Belknap, Northern Cheyenne and Blackfeet Indian allottees have pending land claims to recover their family allotments that were taken in state courts during the allotment period between 1887 and 1934. The tourism lands produce $168 million, and the white ranchers and farmers in Glacier County make a profit of $67 million in cows and crops on the stolen Blackfeet allotments. Eighty percent of Glacier County is the Blackfeet Reservation, and the county taxes the railroad, Glacier Park, retail, crops, cows and landowners, including the Blackfeet Tribe. All of this was done over the protests of Indians in Congress and the federal courts.

What about enforcing the Indian treaties in Montana as a reservation economic development initiative?

We have a Blackfoot history book that was banned in Montana Public Schools. That could account for the ignorance of the media and the legislature—unless it is willful ignorance, like the holocaust deniers.

Bob Juneau

Missoula

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Live and let live

Posted on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 4:00 AM

In his recent letter to the Independent (see “Let ’em trap,” Feb. 23), Angelo Pecora of Seeley Lake expresses the opinion that the trapping debate—especially the part of it carried on by trapping’s critics—has gone on long enough. For the most part, Pecora makes his case with admirable civility, although he drifts toward undue disparagement when he resorts to using a term like “anti-trapping rhetoric” to describe the writings of those who genuinely, and in a heartfelt way, abhor trapping’s implicit cruelty.

Moreover, Pecora displays a misunderstanding of anti-trapping sentiment when he says “Enough propaganda on how they die” when referring to what non-trappers have to say about the ordeals that animals caught in leg-hold traps endure before they’re clubbed or drowned: “propagandizing” is not the primary intention of those who graphically allude to the suffering and misery that trapped animals experience; the primary intention is to engender awareness of the terrible unkindness that trapping really is, in hopes of convincing us to stop doing it.

Judging by what he says in his letter, Pecora would seem to be a live-and-let-live kind of guy. But I wonder what his limits are in that regard. Evidently, he’s willing to countenance his neighbors’ trapping for “sport” when the “season” for it arrives. But he’s also a guy who loves his dogs and his mule. I’m just wondering whether he’d be okay with a dog-owning, mule-owning neighbor who badly mistreated those animals. Would he be upset by his neighbor’s behavior? Would he try to interfere with his neighbor’s “right” to be an abuser of animals?

What Pecora and other trapping apologists need to realize is that anti-trapping “types” perceive animal trapping as animal abuse, a perception that’s hardly inaccurate, really, given what a trapped animal actually goes through once the muscles, nerves, blood vessels and bones of its foot or leg are hard-clamped between the jaws of a steel trap, typically for hours on end. This is not to say that it is trapping’s purpose or trappers’ intention to torment wild animals; and yet, animal torment is an all too frequent outcome of animal trapping. And for what? So that trophy wives and the nouveau riche can relish a vainglorious exhibitionism? Frankly, I find it hard to imagine a true woodsman being willing to cater to that kind of human idiocy. I’m grateful to our local papers, the Indy and the Missoulian, for their willingness to make room for the trapping-adverse viewpoint.

Thomas A. Azzara

Missoula

Biggest story ever

Posted on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 4:00 AM

I pen this letter with a heavy heart. I’m afraid the United States of America that we know and love just may be in her last days. Right is wrong, up is down, and there seems to be no common sense left anywhere.

Earlier this month, after a six-month forensic investigation by a team of law enforcement professionals, Joe Arpaio, a sheriff in Arizona, called a news conference to announce the findings of that investigation. He found there was definite probable cause that both the birth certificate and the Selective Service registration card released by the White House as being that of President Barack Obama were forgeries.

What?

If a duly sworn officer of the law says the evidence he’s uncovered has revealed probable cause that a crime has been committed, that means that any reasonable person would come to the same conclusion when presented with the evidence at hand. If any reasonable person in this audience of readers would like to see the evidence for themselves, the video of the press conference and the evidence presented can be easily found on the internet. Unfortunately, most folks on both sides of this issue have a preconceived opinion based upon their political leanings, rather than bothering with messy little things like the facts.

Here we have a sitting president who has released documents that a duly elected officer of the law says are forgeries. If that’s not news, I don’t know what is. That should have made four-inch headlines on the front page of every newspaper in America. But it was nowhere. Instead, countless gallons of ink were spilled across the pages of our fair state’s newspapers day after day, with countless angry people calling for a judge to resign over a stupid off-color joke.

Wait a minute. Let me get this straight. A judge with a dirty joke on his rap sheet is newsworthy and the president presenting forged documents is not? The free press in our country must all be on a lunch break.

It’s patently obvious that either Arpaio or Obama is lying, and nobody even seems to care. I suppose many people must think that Arpaio is just some sort of a right-wing nut job. That’s usually the first derogatory accusation that’s directed toward anyone that dares question anything about our president. If that happens to be your stance, I challenge you to see the facts for yourself.

This is far bigger than politics. If the sheriff is indeed a nut job, and he has no probable cause, then he needs to be exposed for a fraud and his badge should be ripped from his chest. But, if the opposite is true, then we need to deal with the facts and proceed out of the horrible mess it creates the best we can. Unfortunately, ignoring the elephant in the room is not going to make him go away.

I’ve written to our senators, our representative and our state attorney general, as well as countless other officials, and to date have only received the courtesy of one reply, from a member of the Montana Legislature.

It’s inconceivable that anyone holding the highest office in our land could actually have the audacity to engage in fraud, forgery and the willful deception of the American people to this degree. If proven, this is the biggest story since July 4, 1776—and folks on both sides of the aisle just can’t believe it could possibly be true.

If we don’t have the rule of law, our country is over. The result is total anarchy. If the White House is above the law, why should anyone else bother to obey it?

All of us—Democrats, Republicans, independents and everyone in between—need to stand tall and make our voices heard loud and clear in the halls of Congress. We need to contact our representatives and demand a Congressional hearing to get to the bottom of this sordid mess. Let’s forget our political posturing and worry concerning the coming elections and get the facts on the table, so we can deal with them. The very survival of our country depends upon it.

Ken Overcast

Chinook

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Free Cody

Posted on Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 4:00 AM

The story of Cody Marble is a sad case study in Missoula County’s investment in crime (see “Did Cody do it?” Dec. 15, 2011). Instead of supporting a kid, grieving for the loss of his mother by suicide, Cody was reportedly brutalized by a Missoula city police officer, placed in the new juvenile detention facility and left unsupervised except for occasional “cell checks” that allowed the smaller, younger boys to be bullied and left those in charge wondering what went on. Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Giffin, a very successful Democratic candidate for sheriff in the last election, led the child he was questioning in a very unprofessional manner, literally putting words into the youngster’s mouth. You have the judge sentencing a kid to a long adult prison sentence. The most revealing statement in this sad story is that every kid that was in the Juvenile Detention Center with Cody is either in prison or dead. And then you have Fred Van Valkenburg threatening to charge R.T. (who threw an apple at his brother and swore at a police officer to be incarcerated) with perjury if he recants his original testimony! Then Van Valkenburg takes the opportunity to smear the Innocence Project! Where is the accountability? Cody is one of the nearly 13,000 people Montana has under correctional supervision, a number that has quadrupled since the 1980s and the beginning of the war on drugs. It is nice to see the Missoula Independent peeping open its sleepy media-watchdog eyes. The only way tyranny of the kind that has been wrought on this community ends is when industrious journalists write the truth.

Rena Wetherelt

Stevensville

We’re already rich

Posted on Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 4:00 AM

Recently, the Leadership Institute at MSU Bozeman brought Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.) to speak and participate in a student panel discussion. Clark’s focus was on economic growth and what Montanans should do to improve it. Fracking shale, digging and liquefying coal and building pipelines and power lines were the jobs he identified for us and for our landscape. When he looked at Montana, he saw a smorgasbord of riches to be gobbled up.

He didn’t realize that our unique spot on the map already has a rich, job-providing habitat for humans and wildlife. Or important ecosystem services, such as clean air, water and soils, and abundant recreational and economic opportunities associated with our healthy, sustainable landscape and lifestyles. He was unable to recognize that for most Montanans, being close to wild landscapes is intentional. We are here for a reason: We value our reciprocal relationship with these relatively intact mountains, rivers, forests and prairies. We are already rich.

Some Montana communities learned too late that extractive industries take a huge toll. Once the resources have been exported to global markets, what’s left is a useless, degraded landscape and the enormous social problems that accompany it.

The continued existence of our chosen home as we know it depends upon our cooperation with the natural world. Our community is long overdue for dialogue and a plan as to how to protect this “last best place” from a dominant world view intent upon its exploitation. We are the last vestige of sanity in an increasingly insane world that is headed our way.

Let’s behave powerfully and deliberately to define and defend our riches. Or we can sit back and let others treat us like a goody bag. Our choice. Thanks for the heads up, Gen. Clark.

Marilyn Olsen

Emigrant

Dr. Seuss inspires

Posted on Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 4:00 AM

Here are some of the inane lies people have told me and apparently tell themselves:

Humans are not animals. Animals can’t think, reason or feel pain. Trapping is a sport. Only humans have autism. Cancer is not caused by pesticides. Herbicides are safe. All developmental malformations are genetic. Saving newborns, including children, would damage the economy. A male deer born with no scrotum will grow a scrotum when it matures. Goats are born with an underbite because they are Nubians. Llamas are born with an underbite because they are llamas. You can’t fix underbite with a pill. Foals are born with underbite or overbite because they are inbred. There are too many white-tailed deer, so they are inbred. Inbreeding causes the deer to be born with an underbite and reproductive malformations. We are not seeing any underbite on big game animals. When beef calves are born with underbite, it is because of the bull.

Now that is a lot of bull!

Judy Hoy

Stevensville

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Keeping my change

Posted on Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 4:00 AM

A recent parking ticket I received will be the last I pay to the city of Missoula. My wife and I will no longer park in the Missoula downtown area prior to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. If Missoula’s intent with the new parking violation fees is to keep us from spending our hard-earned money at downtown Missoula businesses, it has succeeded. We will no longer give the downtown our business during meter hours.

It needs to be made clear to the city that parking meter fees are viewed by the public as nothing more than a tax to park—analogous to a sales tax—for spending money to keep downtown businesses afloat. That tax is predominantly levied against poor people who work minimum-wage jobs. Thus, the city of Missoula steals from the poor to give to the rich.

Perhaps Missoula needs to look to the city of Kalispell, which removed all of its parking meters in the early ’80s. Since then, its downtown businesses have thrived.

As far as the “free” first-hour parking in Central Park—who cares? This is just another scam by the city to somehow give you a “deal” that will then require money for an hour and a minute. Money, I might add, that I will not give to the Missoula Parking Commission under any circumstances.

It is truly a sad state of affairs when elected officials inflict additional grief on an already struggling populace with such fees and fines.

Shame on the city of Missoula.

Michael Jarnevic

Milltown

You forgot my bid

Posted on Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 4:00 AM

I enjoyed the article in the Independent about the Bitterroot Resort and Tom Maclay (see “Why is this guy smiling?” March 1), but I need to add something to the story about the auction of Maclay’s property on the steps of the Missoula Courthouse.

I arrived early on Feb. 22 to prepare for bidding and was the first person to place a bid. It was low and I knew I didn’t have a chance but I wanted to try. Contrary to your article, a million-dollar bid was not the first bid.

My bid was not mentioned in the article. I guess it was too low, but it was sincere. The sheriff’s deputy asked for an opening bid several times and I spoke up first, bidding $1,000. I was prepared to go to $5,000.

Prior to the bidding I was calling groups that in the past have purchased such land to set aside for public management. I was disappointed that none of those organizations attended the auction.

I hope that in the future, a conservation group such as Five Valleys Land Trust or Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will purchase the Maclay ranch from Metropolitan Life Insurance so this property can be added to the national forest or the state land system.

Susan Reneau

Missoula

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