Thursday, March 8, 2012

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


No faith in Lake County

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

I am confused following all the articles in all of the local newspapers about the misconduct in the Lake County Sheriff’s Office (see “Good cops, bad cops,” Feb. 23).

It is my understanding that the primary job description for law enforcement is to “serve and protect.” It seems to me that the primary job requirements for these personnel are “honesty and integrity,” beyond necessary technical training. If we can’t trust them, how can we be expected to believe they will perform their function properly, and that we can support them in that endeavor? When these individuals break the public trust, through obvious and admitted lack of personal integrity, why should they be treated any differently than any of us civilians?

Forget criminal offenses and statutes of limitations on punishable infractions, let’s just focus on officers’ integrity in performing their work.

A sheriff’s deputy claims to have knowledge and experience (that he doesn’t possess) and is promoted to a special position, receives more pay and special consideration, and then later admits (after his untruth is discovered) that he “misrepresented” himself and was not actually qualified for that work. Where I come from, that’s called lying (and stealing); it displays a total lack of integrity, and he should be fired. Law enforcement officers should be held to a higher standard, not lower. He carries a gun. How safe does that make me feel?

I don’t want him tried in court for being a liar and a thief. I want him removed from the public payroll and replaced with someone who actually holds and displays a better sense of character and honor. The entire saga, as printed in the Independent and elsewhere, reads like a bad children’s bedtime story. The Lake County attorney and sheriff (past and present) appear bent on sweeping it all under the rug. Man up and hold this department to a standard we can all respect. Simply do what’s right.

Michael Gale


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Trapping not a “sport”

Posted on Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 4:00 AM

Angelo Pecora, in his Feb. 23 letter defending trappers, misses several points. He equates trapping with walking one’s dog and believes if someone wants to do an activity, so be it, and mind your own business. Unfortunately for this line of reasoning, wildlife are a public resource and as such, everyone has a say in how they are managed. Fur-bearers are not the exclusive property of the trapping industry and unlike Pecora, I would argue this commercial endeavor is not a “sport.”

I agree, however, that society should allow people to choose their activities as long as they do not infringe on everyone else or are morally repugnant or cruel. Trapping, however, is one of those “sports” that does infringe. First of all, trappers are a very small minority of people in Montana, less than one-half of one percent. Yet they basically take over the woods from Thanksgiving until the spring. Why is this? Well, while trappers are fond of saying their industry is “highly regulated,” the lack of rules in several areas allows a small minority to have a large impact.

Two of these lapses are no mandatory check period and no limit to the number of trapping devices. This allows trappers to place as many traps as they can, with traplines up to hundreds of miles long. The ability to take as long as necessary to check these traps also contributes to this large number. If there was a three-day check period, as in Idaho, a trapper could manage only so many traps and snares. On the other hand, putting a specified trap limit on each individual would more effectively cut down the impact to the rest of the public.

What unrestricted trap numbers mean is that traps are everywhere, and encountering them is commonplace. It would be different if it was rare occurrence. It would also help if FWP would require traps to be placed much farther away from trails than currently.

Finally, Pecora generally dismisses animal cruelty, which requires trapping to be specifically exempted from Montana statute. In his letter, he mentions only one trap, the “body gripper” or conibear, but conveniently leaves out other trap types. Just because someone is making money “doing what he wants” doesn’t require that everyone else make accommodations, nor does it make it any less cruel.

Mike Koeppen


On coal, state biased

Posted on Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 4:00 AM

The recent district court ruling on the Otter Creek coal tracts lease expressed faith in the capacity of state agencies to effectively and objectively go through the permitting and regulatory process for that proposed mine. I fear that the court’s faith may be misplaced.

The state of Montana is Arch Coal’s business partner and the Land Board’s lease was just the first step in that business relationship. Frankly, the state’s strong financial interest in seeing that the Otter Creek coal is mined creates a conflict of interest.

It’s naïve of the court to assume that the Land Board could say “no” to a permit for the mine if it ever moves forward. Having leased the coal, the Land Board has started the wheels in motion for bringing money into state coffers. There’s little chance the Land Board would refuse a permit or even put restrictive conditions onto it. Montanans would be left dealing with the impacts when most of the coal will be sold to Asian customers.

Experience has taught us that getting state agencies to enforce safeguards can be a big enough challenge. How can we seriously expect the state to also be an effective enforcer of the laws protecting our land and water and air when it is exercising oversight over its own business partner?

Janet McMillan


Don’t believe “Dan”

Posted on Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 4:00 AM

An anonymous commentator stated in a post that appeared in the online version of the Missoula Independent on Feb. 23 that I am a lobbyist for Arch Coal. I am not, nor have I ever been, nor does anyone in my Helena firm lobby for Arch. I want to thank the Independent for quickly removing this comment when it was brought to the editor’s attention. The poster, calling himself “Dan,” posted this comment on other newspaper web sites as well, using a different name, in an apparent attempt to discredit Jesse Laslovich behind a cloak of anonymity. Had “Dan” taken two minutes to check the Secretary of State’s web site, “Dan” would have realized that his information about me was wrong, and thus his theory regarding my donation was wrong. But that would have taken two minutes; apparently far too long for “Dan” to wait. For the record, my contribution to Jesse’s campaign was a personal one, made with my money because I like and respect Jesse, and consider him a personal friend. Not that it’s any of your business...“Dan.”

John MacDonald


Jesus doesn’t save taxes

Posted on Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 4:00 AM

I have lived in the state of Montana for 42 years and have been luckier than most. I have never found myself between jobs. I have worked in many occupations, including home health care, nurse’s aid work, aerobics instruction, ranch work, dog grooming, auto detailing, food service, bartending, snow plowing, janitor work and contract driving for the U.S. Postal Service. I have held this contract driving job for the USPS for the past 12 years. I have never had to accept any government handouts such as farm subsidies, food stamps, or any program Rep. Denny Rehberg labels as welfare. I have been paying approximately 35 cents on the dollar in taxes.

I have been following stories in the newspapers about Rehberg’s attempt to save the Jesus statue on the ski hill. I would appreciate any information Rehberg could give me regarding how much the plane rides to Washington, the lawyers and the man hours spent saving this statue has cost me, a Montana tax payer, so far. I am sure the veterans that this statue is meant to honor would be ashamed and embarrassed about the amount of money spent saving a memorial to veterans. I think that they would want this money spent helping our veterans recently returning from war.

Rehberg is running for political office on a platform that includes the desire to keep big government out of our daily lives, while simultaneously hard at work to allow Homeland Security the right to trample every environmental law created in this state 100 miles south of the Canadian border. I am not sure whether he is trying to save this memorial for political or religious reasons, but common sense tells me he is wasting my money as a tax payer.

Tonya Marshall


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