Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Feb 15, 2017 at 4:18 PM

Oh that card again...

Your snarky, sarcastic article ("Better dumb than sorry?" Feb. 9) only demonstrates your failure to be a well-read and informed citizen, not just of the United States but of the world.

A proactive legislative body is, in my opinion, frequently more helpful than a reactive one.

This bill might not have been necessary if Missoula hadn't decided to play the phony "we're all so caring and loving here" card so a few people could pat themselves on the back for their good deeds and wait for the resettlement money to roll in.

Linda Sauer

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Aquiver in our bubble

One city block in Dearborn Heights, Michigan, probably has more resident Muslims than all of Montana ("Better dumb than sorry?" Feb. 8). All those guns, and "Big Sky" is afraid of a crescent moon and stars?

Randy Bassett

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Free the pigs!

I am writing in regard to the University of Montana's proposed research facility using live pigs to test spinal cord injuries. I suffer with PTSD, and how dare you use my disability as an excuse to cause severe trauma to these pigs! Especially knowing that this is a completely unnecessary and outdated research method! All 202 accredited osteopathic and allopathic medical schools in the United States and Canada have terminated the use of live animals to teach medical students. This includes the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (the U.S. military medical school). In addition, 47 hospitals and colleges teach first responders crucial life-saving methods using human-based methods after abandoning outdated live animal use.

Under the Animal Welfare Act, no experiments—including those that inflict pain without relief—are outlawed. The Animal Welfare Act is the only federal law that applies to animals used for research.

Each species has a unique spinal orientation, movement kinetics and neural anatomy. Non-invasive imaging techniques such as PET, SPECT and fMRI can be used to visualize neural pathology at various timepoints after injury. In Miami, researchers are collaborating on the Human Spinal Cord Injury Model project.

You can read more about ethical research and education using non-animal testing methods at You can also find grants for non-animal testing research at

Montanans do not want this facility, as proven by the failure of I-181, which was due, in part, to the possibility of live animals being used as test subjects. Bringing this lab to the University of Montana would take the university backward, in addition to tarnishing the image of Missoula. UM can join other universities and medical schools in rejecting outdated live animal labs and using more advanced and humane methods for research.

Jennifer Nitz



I am shocked that we still allow flaring, venting and leaking methane into our atmosphere. These practices threaten our health, waste our resources and—perhaps most concerning—accelerate the threat of climate change. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas; it heats the planet at a far faster rate than carbon dioxide.

We can no longer afford to continue releasing these lethal emissions. Especially when they are emissions that, in most cases, can be avoided. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has something they call the "Doomsday Clock" used to illustrate how close the world stands to "midnight," or doomsday. During the Cold War, the clock stood at 2 minutes to midnight. Right now? 2.5 minutes to midnight. According to these scientists, we face an existential threat the size of the nuclear-arms race: climate change.

The Bureau of Land Management responsibly created protections requiring that more oil- and gas-field emissions be captured. This agency spent years traveling our country, listening to affected people, and creating rules that took all sides into account. However, Congress and the new administration are putting these protections on their chopping block. Congress is slated to vote on the rules next week, and they are gunning to entirely eliminate those protections.

The time to take action is now. Montana's senators need to hear from you: Protect the climate, fight for the methane rules and stand up for the West.

Cindy Webber

Big Timber

You want a list?

What is it about religion that just drives you leftists crazy ("A teen and a prayer," Feb. 9)? You want your rights the way you want them, but those that don't agree with you, well that's where your "love everyone" comes to an end. You want any speech you don't agree with shut down.

Ed Kugler

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Has he no shame?

Twice in one day, Sen. Steve Daines disgraced Montana.

"School choice" does not help the budgets of public schools in our cities and towns, and it offers nothing whatsoever for education in our rural areas, where there will never be charter schools to offer "choice." But Daines chose to back out-of-state campaign contributions over the interests of Montanans when he voted for Betsy DeVos.

Later the same day, he played toady to authoritarian party powers, helping to muzzle open, honest debate with the party-line vote to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Her "out of bounds" testimony? Reading letters written by Sen. Ted Kennedy and Coretta Scott King, which had been considered earlier as Senate committee testimony.

If Steve Daines and the party in power are so genuine in their adherence to Senate rules, why didn't those same rules compel them to allow Supreme Court nomination hearings last year, as provided for by the Constitution?

This is a sad day for Montana's representation in our nation's capital. Steve Daines has disgraced our state by putting wealthy campaign donors ahead of Montana's school children, and by taking part in ham-fisted authoritarian practices more at home in the Kremlin than in a 21st-century democracy.

Tod Trimble


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 3:11 PM

Renters rights

Protecting Montana renters should be a priority for all lawmakers this legislative session. However, for Roger and Peggy Webb, a couple that has split their influence across Senate and the House, respectively, the 2017 session has provided a means for pushing an unfair and sometimes unlawful pro-landlord agenda. At first glance, the changes brought forward by the legislature seem to be simply cosmetic clarifications. Senate Bill 175, for instance, has a large section devoted to specifying a landlord's right to enter and make repairs. In addition to "clarifying" this section, it also cuts in half the time a renter has to respond to a maintenance issue, gives the landlord "immediate" access to the residence, and allows the landlord to perform an impromptu inspection without notice. Furthermore, if this impromptu inspection finds a new issue in need of maintenance, the landlord can fix the problem and bill the renter with no notice and no opportunity to rectify the issue.

House Bill 348 requires that renters notify their landlord every time they plan to be gone from their residence for longer than 24 hours, while landlords may currently require only that tenants inform them of absences longer than seven days. Changes like this, requiring that tenants notify their landlord before leaving town for something as simple as an overnight shopping trip or a basketball game, are not just unduly burdensome, but indicative of the tenant-averse laws that are being proposed this legislative session. Senate Bill 176, another example, removes all ability of a renter to refuse entry to their landlord, and goes further by forbidding tenants from adding locks to any portion of a residence, irreparably hindering renters' right to privacy and safety.

The most egregious of these bills is Senate Bill 174, from Sen. Roger Webb, which seeks to shift the legal and financial burden from landlord to renter by holding tenants liable for legal fees if they lose a case against their landlord. Its banality does nothing to change the fact that it presents a gross overreach of a landlord and a legislature by attempting to dictate how judges should rule. This renter-averse legislation from landlord-legislators like the Webbs presents a great danger to the balanced relationship of Montana renters and landlords. The bills currently introduced undermine tenant protections and call into question the fair and equal treatment that's been at the heart of Montana law for 40 years.

Our elected officials in Helena must make sure to also represent the voices of the one in three Montanans who rent their homes, and prove that our landlord-tenant laws are here to serve and protect everyone.

Mary O'Malley

Director, ASUM Off-Campus Renter Center


Blood in the water

Lemme get this straight—we took the water company on the notion that "corporations are bad," but now we're going to get a toxic loan from an overseas multinational investment bank ("Slow drip," Feb. 2)? How does us hemorrhaging interest overseas benefit Missoula?

Benjamin A. Hart

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Kitties cornered

This is the cost of living in the wildland interface ("FWP removals draw ire," Feb. 2). Everybody seems to want to live in the Montana woods—it's the trendy thing to do these days.

Lions are different from bears, they don't relocate or change their habits well.

The human population is growing and consuming the habitat of wild creatures.

As lions populations grow, they need to find new territory. They move with their prey, and young lions often get in trouble with humans as they try to find a place to set up a home range. Seven billion people on this planet and counting—human growth has many consequences.

People with pets and children should always have a close eye on them, whether in the big city or in or near the woods. A bump in the road is just a bump in the road to a car, and meat is meat to a lion.

We, as the animals with the bigger brains, should consider what our impacts are, and how we can limit them, what kind of place we want to live in, and what kind of life we want for the generations to come—human and animal.

Joe Bear

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Run, dog, run!

Do not give that lunatic a dog ("Top dog?" Jan. 26). He doesn't deserve one and would have no interest in it unless he could pose with it to boost his ego. As he has narcissistic personality disorder, it would be terrible for the dog because he would never get his needs for love, play, exercise, food and vet visits met. Do not give that sicko a dog!

Patricia Bowers

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Re-routing progress

Move over, working-class Missoulians ("Mary Avenue freeze-out," Feb. 2). Our "progressive" overlords are here to hit you with a big dose of gentrification, or "progress," as they like to call it.

Adam Hertz

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We see what you did there...

"Critics call on Sen. Daines and others to recuse themselves over campaign donations." And I call on all feral dogs to refrain from snapping at raw pieces of meat.

Lee Conway

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Dinging Daines

I'm a veteran. Sen. Daines does not represent me on health care. His support for repealing the Affordable Care Act will be disastrous for Montana veterans. Since passage of the ACA, the number of uninsured veterans has declined to less than 10 percent. Repealing the ACA will force veterans who currently have coverage to attempt to meet their health-care needs through an already overburdened Veterans Administration. Trump's freeze on federal hiring (which Sen. Daines also supports) means that new doctors, nurses and technicians cannot be hired by the VA to meet our increased numbers and needs. Sen. Daines needs to think more clearly about his positions and how they will affect the veterans of our state.

Pat Tucker


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Feb 1, 2017 at 2:30 PM

Love it, but...

I always look forward to reading a Dan Brooks column. Almost always thought provoking, as well as being in my basket of non-deplorables. So I was cruising right along with both thumbs up and a smile on my face as Dan gnawed on the idiocy of Rep. Usher's so-called bike safety bill, also known as the "don't make us slow down to keep us from killing cyclists" bill ("A wheelie bad bill," Jan. 26).

So I was grooving on Dan's riff until I got to the second-to-last paragraph, where my brain did a locked front wheel fly-over. I quote: "We should not condemn drivers for their irrational anger at cyclists, because people aren't rational, especially behind the wheel." Wait, what? Well, yes, folks are often irrational behind the wheel. Just Google and enjoy the '50s Disney animation "Motor Mania," starring Goofy. But anyone who values life and rational thought should condemn (deplore, hold accountable) drivers who operate a machine with deadly potential while being in an irrational and even malicious frame of mind. If an irrational friend tells me she wants to put brothel-style wallpaper in her bathroom, I'd say "Hey, whatever." If she says anyone stupid enough to ride their bike on a rural Montana road deserves to get hit, I'd say "Whoa, that's messed up!"

But thank you, Dan, for an excellent closing paragraph to go with a very good overall column.

Eugene Schmitz


Training in short supply

I am a domestic violence survivor. I also had the misfortune of witnessing my next-door neighbor be assaulted by her boyfriend in broad daylight last June. I called the police immediately, but by the time they arrived, the man had fled. The police spoke with my neighbor but informed me there was nothing they could do if she denied he'd hit her. They informed me that they told her they knew she was lying. I understood that they were trying to get her to help them make the arrest, but as a survivor myself I also realized that they did not have adequate training in handling the situation. Victims of domestic violence often will not admit the truth because they fear for their ongoing safety and, often, for their lives.

Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the STOP grant is one source of funding that police departments like Missoula's can apply for to provide their officers with adequate training in responding to domestic violence calls. According to a spreadsheet on their website, three officers out of Missoula's police force receive 28-30 hours of training for responding to violence against women. And although the full police force is trained in responding to sexual assault, the three-hour training is arguably insufficient, even paired with a few other brief trainings. If the Missoula police department wanted to offer comprehensive domestic violence response training to all of its police force, the department could apply for a STOP grant from VAWA. I urge them to consider it. However, given the likelihood that the U.S. Attorney General will be Jeff Sessions, it is probable that VAWA will be eliminated entirely. Jeff Sessions has a record of voting against bills and provisions that would help the most vulnerable and oppressed populations in the U.S., and this includes his repeated votes against VAWA. That Sen. Steve Daines supports Jeff Sessions' nomination for U.S. Attorney General speaks volumes about his lack of support for Montana women. Though I don't hold out any hope that Daines will reverse course on his support for Sessions, I do hope that with or without VAWA grant funding, the Missoula police force can find ways to provide comprehensive training to more officers responding to intimate partner violence.

Emily Withnall


Oppose Tom Price

On Tuesday, Jan. 24, I and a group of Missoula constituents were turned away from a scheduled meeting with Sen. Steve Daines' staff. What follows is the statement I would have given to the senator, had our scheduled meeting been honored:

As a mother and small business owner, I am deeply concerned about Sen. Steve Daines apparent opposition to expanded Medicaid and CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides insurance for thousands of Montana children, including my daughter. On Jan. 12, 2017, Sen. Daines voted yes on a senate budget resolution that will cut federal funding for the CHIP program. Now the senator has another opportunity to stand up for Montana families by opposing the nomination of Tom Price for Director of Health and Human Services. In his senate hearings, Tom Price has refused to commit to ensuring that Montana families who depend on Medicaid for health care will not lose their coverage. However, Sen. Daines has stated that he plans to vote in favor of Price's nomination—a decision that will have grave consequences for Montana families like mine.

In addition to being parents of a 1.5-year-old daughter, my husband and I own Tandem Bakery in Missoula. We started our business four years ago as a stand at the Clark Fork Farmers market with $1,000 of our own money. We reinvested all of our profit back into the business and now we are a year-round wholesale bakery with five employees. We are entrepreneurs, building a business for ourselves, providing jobs and contributing to the local economy. But this is a new venture, and we are trying to grow without taking on debt, so we still pour all of our profit back into the bakery. This means that in addition to raising our daughter and running the business, my husband also works a day job—which does not offer health insurance. Medicaid and CHIP have allowed us to take the risk of starting a new business. Without these programs, my family would not be able to afford health insurance, and because we cannot allow our young daughter to go without coverage, we would have to close our business and fire our employees.

If Sen. Daines is truly pro-family and pro-small-business, he will support CHIP and expanded Medicaid, and he will vote no on Tom Price.

Beth Gherlein


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 2:48 PM

Betrayed by Zinke

There are many reasons why Rep. Ryan Zinke does not represent Montanans. Just a few days back in Washington, D.C., he not only voted, contrary to campaign promises, to make it easier to dispose of public lands, he voted to undermine essential public health protections and put Montana kids and families at risk.

Federal agencies including EPA and FDA set safeguards under the law to protect the public from air pollution and kids from tobacco. Thanks to their work, the nation has made huge progress in improving public health. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA has issued air pollution safeguards that have dramatically improved the quality of our air. And under the Tobacco Control Act, FDA has imposed new requirements on tobacco products to keep them from being marketed to children and protect the public.

But Zinke voted in favor of H.R. 26, a bill that would in effect strip the ability of these and other agencies to establish life-saving public health protections and eliminate the oversight system that protects the public's safety and health. The proposal is a sweeping attack on federal safeguards that would require all new economically significant regulations to be approved within a narrow window of time by both chambers of Congress before taking effect.

Clearly, this bill is a giveaway to polluters and the tobacco industry that would undermine lifesaving protections for our lungs and mean more air pollution and fewer restrictions on tobacco products being marketed to kids. How is that good for Montana kids and families? My adult daughter suffers from asthma and I have a 10-year-old granddaughter and 11-year-old grandson. I am concerned about their futures. As they grow older, their chances of being exposed to tobacco and air pollution increase.

Now more than ever, our elected officials must stand up for Montanans and prevent the rollback of public health protections.

DeAndria Gutzmer


Hacking distraction

The "hacking" language distracts us from the bigger case for charging Trump with illegitimacy (in my opinion) as president, which is the question of conflicts of interest and the fact that he won't release his tax returns nor divest himself from his business enterprises ("All too legit," Jan. 19). This may very well dovetail with the fact of Russian hacking and subsequent leaks. We may find that Trump is uniquely qualified to be blackmailed. But I don't think we need to wait for that to come to light to call him an illegitimate president.

Megan McNamer


Don't blame voters

The thing is Dan, Trump lost by 3 million votes ("All too legit," Jan. 19). Now if you say gerrymandering in the Rust Belt got Trump elected, or that Trump received more votes than anticipated, fine, but Americans overall did not vote for Trump. This country had 16 years to fix the electoral college issue, and especially Democrats failed to take the problem seriously. Blame it on a number of things, but not the majority of American voters.

Sandy Johns

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It's not him, it's you

I can actually deal with Trump, because no one will take him seriously ("All too legit," Jan. 19). It's that 25 percent of our neighbors that voted for him that I am disgusted with and worry about.

Ellen Holland

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Unsatisfied customer

My experience has not been good ("UM's other (other) problem"). It feels as if the school is doing everything in its power to convolute the registration process and create needless obstacles that delay graduation in order to milk their students financially.

I know it's a business, but at least pretend like you care about your students!

Robert Sullivan

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Unclear on the concept

Last week my girlfriend and I wrote Sen. Daines a letter expressing our concern about Scott Pruitt's appointment to head the Environmental Protection Agency. While I was pleased to get a quick response from his office, what it said was most troubling and pointed to the misguided understanding that Mr. Daines has with the concept of regulation.

In his response, our Senator wrote that he acknowledges "how special our environment is to our way of life," but then continued that "Mr. Pruitt will bring balance to the agency, ensuring it protects jobs."

Since when is protecting jobs a responsibility of the EPA? It is my understanding that the EPA exists as a counterbalance to industry run amuck. Any effort to "balance" outside concerns within a regulatory agency can and should be seen as binding its hands and diluting its effectiveness.

Our country was founded on checks and balances, and an effective independent EPA is just that. Yes, regulations can often hurt short-term financial goals, but I would hope that most of the American public and the citizens of Montana are wise enough to know that sometimes you need to make sacrifices in the short term to protect a way of life in the long term.

We are resourceful people. We can endure regulations and adapt while still keeping our Western values. But without any regulation, we risk losing the very environment that sustains us and the wild places that define us.

Jamie Drysdale


It's a theory...

God Bless America! Congratulations to the people of planet Earth. America, sovereign under God, is once again sanctified in Godly leadership. A united America is the goal. New alliances and strengthened existing alliances to rid the planet of the destructive Islamic radical terrorists is the promise! Heavenly father, by Your will and loving grace, may President Donald John Trump deliver Your will by truth, courage and your loving care. May the veil of wickedness continue to lift for all people to know Your will. I am grateful to Your only begotten son Christ Jesus, and thru Him I pray, amen.

David Passieri

Saint Ignatius

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Letters to the Editor 01-12-17

Posted on Wed, Jan 11, 2017 at 2:11 PM

41 isn't the new 50

Dan—Your assertion that Amanda Curtis is a good candidate because she received 41 percent of the vote during a much abbreviated U.S. Senate run really needs to be rolled back ("Dem for the win?" Jan. 5). Your logic would have us believe that return is a remarkable achievement and given the chance at a longer effort, Amanda would surely top 50 percent, as if the political climate in Montana is somehow akin to the Tortoise and Hair parable.

To be clear, I believe that Amanda is probably well liked by the Democratic base. However, a vote for a candidate who is well liked by the base counts exactly the same as a vote for someone who is just mostly liked by the base. You can look no further than Ryan Zinke's recent victory as a good example of how this works.

It's likely that what Curtis received in 2014 represents just the base Democratic vote, with the addition of a few Independents who didn't want to vote for Steve Daines for whatever reason. That is a long way from winning. I have not read any compelling reason to believe that the Independents and moderate Republican voters needed to secure a statewide election in Montana will warm up to Amanda.

Don't get me wrong, Amanda Curtis most surely has a role to play in Montana Democratic politics for some time to come. We desperately need all that energy, and Amanda seems to have a lot to offer.

Still, Curtis emerging as the early Democratic favorite might have more to do with the jockeying of the statewide teachers organization that funds a large percentage of the Montana Democratic Party effort than any careful consideration of Curtis as a truly viable candidate. Just ask yourself if you think that Curtis can match the broad appeal that Pat Williams had when he beat Ron Marlenee by 51 percent, or Cy Jamison with just 49 percent. Because that's exactly the kind of appeal it's going to take for a Democrat to win this seat in the foreseeable future. Is your answer no? Then let's keep looking.

Bruce Dickinson

posted at

What the Travel Plan leaves out

Motorized users combined with a mountain bike group have filed a lawsuit over the Bitterroot National Forest Travel Plan. They're unhappy that some areas are off limits to their machinery. It's interesting that mountain bikers now aligned themselves with motorized users.

I went to many Travel Plan meetings. Periods were extended and record numbers of comments were taken. In no meeting that I attended did a motorized user/mountain biker discuss the impacts their recreation have on plants and animals. It was typically about their "rights."

Approximately 2.7 percent of the contiguous U.S. is protected Wilderness. Not even 3 percent of what once was remains in a "natural" state. Wanting to protect what little is left outside of Wilderness hardly seems extreme. Wanting to ensure the integrity of a few Wilderness Study Areas doesn't seem extreme. It's wise.

According to the BNF, the forest has about 837,851 acres of non-Wilderness. There are also 2,246 miles of roads. There are 543,840 acres open to snowmobile use.

The harmful effects to wildlife and wild places from motorized use are well documented in peer-reviewed science. The same is beginning for mountain biking. All recreationalists, myself included, have impacts. We could all exercise a little humility. We can go other places. The plants and animals who live there are about out of room. It's not just about us.

Consider a typical meeting with extractive representatives wanting more timber and roads, motorized users/mountain bikers wanting more areas open and environmentalists wanting more protections. Now imagine seats at the table for elk, bear, bighorn sheep, golden eagle, pica, bull trout, red squirrel, lynx, black-backed woodpecker, Douglas fir and sage. Also imagine a seat reserved for the sacredness and integrity of the Earth. The plants and animals might start out by stating many of their kind are no longer alive due to recreational pursuits, development and forest "management." They might mention that a very small percentage of their original homeland remains and ask how much more should they give. They could mention the many benefits to humans of saving what's left, such as clean water and spirituality. They may voice genuine concern for the future of their children. They might remind those in attendance that their ancestors used to co-exist in a sustainable manner with the people who originally lived here. They might make a final plea that humans alone have the capacity to make it possible for all species to live and thrive.

That would be a great meeting, and a start toward real collaboration. It would be a truer representation of all the stakeholders regarding the Travel Plan. One has to ask: How much more should plants and animals give up for our weekend warrior pursuits?

Gary Milner


Thanks, Obama

During the eight years before Obama, Bush squandered the Clinton surplus by passing a major tax cut for the richest folks, fostering deregulation and starting two wars that went on the national credit card and killed 5,000 Americans and countless foreigners (none of whom were named Bin Laden). Bush bequeathed to Obama an American economy that was losing 750,000 jobs per month and $4 per gallon gasoline. He was also torturing prisoners and overseeing a collapse of the banking and auto industries. This tsunami all washed ashore in Obama's first year in office.

I for one am proud of the Obama presidency. He regularly answers reporter's most difficult questions with dignity and aplomb. He and Michelle managed to raise a beautiful family in the middle of it all. Thank you, Obama.

John Heffernan


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Jan 4, 2017 at 1:55 PM

Welcome in Whitefish

In a rapidly changing world, I have once again witnessed the essence of Whitefish. We are a close-knit community that rolls up its sleeves, gets things done, and takes care of each other. We may not always agree on issues, but we respect one another.

While I was dismayed by the recent media frenzy and hate language I have received by those outside of our town trying to intimidate members of our community, I have been inspired once again by the Whitefish I know and how we rally to help others, respectfully stand up for our beliefs, spread kindness, and support our neighbors. I feel confident in our local police force to keep our community safe.

Our city government listened to citizen concerns about Whitefish being identified as the headquarters of a white nationalist institute, and acted with a formal proclamation on Dec. 5, 2016. We wanted to go on the record: "The City of Whitefish rejects racism and bigotry in all its forms and expressions. The City of Whitefish reiterates its commitment to the values... honoring the inherent worth of all people regardless of race, creed, national origin, sex or sexual orientation. The City of Whitefish will continue to honor its responsibility to promote tolerance, non-discrimination and diversity within our community." Everyone is welcome in Whitefish.

Similar statements have followed by Montana's governor, Montana elected officials, the Whitefish School District, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, faith leaders of Montana, and the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau. Their statements clearly denounce discrimination and acts of hate.

As our world keeps changing around us and challenges continue to present themselves, I ask for special attention to civil dialogue and respectful discourse as we move forward into the New Year. Please practice compassion, open-mindedness, acceptance, tolerance and kindness toward all people. A very happy New Year to everyone, and thanks for keeping me inspired.

John Muhlfeld

Mayor, City of Whitefish

Regrets? A few.

At the end of a tumultuous and uncertain time, students, faculty, and the community built around the university must forge ahead bravely to determine what might make the University of Montana successful again. Engstrom must be given credit for trying, however. He did his part to trim the fat of many programs that were seeing declining enrollment, and, like a good businessman, he worked toward downsizing the less productive branches. The decision to prioritize certain programs with transparency over the process was a stroke of genius. Because no good business can expect to compete in a tense market unless its employees are also competing with each other. Besides, studies show that people are much happier to work for a boss that isn't the bad guy. It wasn't a passing of the buck or a cowardly transfer of responsibility. Rather it was a bold and brave attempt to let the programs decide among themselves who should have places in the life raft. Engstrom's shortcomings were much more to do with an inability to read the market quickly enough. Can we hold a businessman responsible for not being able to tell the future? No. The accountability should not be given to the man in charge or the investors, because it is the workers who are ultimately in charge of the product. I only hope that Engstrom's replacement possesses enough business acumen to deftly manage the corporate image of this storied institution. And my only regret during his tenure is that there were not more athletic facilities built over parking spaces across the campus.

Tait Vigesaa


Lessons from Princess

This past week I have been watching our cat die slowly. There is little to be done for her as she is 17 and is dying of old age, which must claim us all if we last long enough.

Our goal, that of my wife and I, is to keep her comfortable. Warm, some water. She has stopped eating.

Her name is Princess and we love her very much. We have no children and, perhaps, this makes her going harder. But I have no measure. I know a woman with six grown children who was recently deeply devastated by the loss of her small dog. Perhaps because they are so dependent upon us, we gather so much love and compassion into their time with us that their going leaves a huge hole.

Children, after all, do grow up and become independent. Our small pets—some not so small—are forever children. Our love pours out.

There are people on missions to kill other people, those they perceive as enemies, as the cause of their own inadequacy. This happened very recently in Germany, and in Turkey. This has happened in France and in our own country, and in so many places. There are people who foment anger and hatred, who dehumanize others, even though they themselves keep "clean hands" when it comes to actual physical violence. We are seeing this in Montana, and the voices that cry out against such callousness are noble voices.

But I understand those fomenters of bigotry and hatred. Though I would inflict now no misery even on an animal, I was not always this way.

I, too, was a fanatic after my own fashion, filled with purpose, rage, immense ego and an inner ruthlessness. I understand the rage of the fanatic. But it takes a person who learns nothing from life to preserve such single-minded craziness into old age.

They must be stopped, those who are fanatics, those who are as I was. They must be punished severely when they move beyond legal bounds. Still, they need to be understood, because they are always as we, perhaps, once were, or as we might have been.

Anyone who puts an idea above humanity ceases to be fully human.

Now, this Christmas season, as I watch Princess' life slowly go, I know life is simply richer in love than it could ever be in hate.

That is why God came to earth to live among us, and to die by the hand of people who placed ideas and rules above love and compassion.

Ed Chaberek


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Dec 28, 2016 at 2:00 PM

Same as the old boss

The mindset of those in charge (all men) up and down the chain, is so similar to other industries ("How the National Park Service fails women," Dec. 22). They truly believe that these incidents really aren't that big of a deal, and that women are the ones who are going to be the "real" problem, with the drama they will "cause" when they speak about what happened.

Cristi Folz

posted at


The fact that this article downplayed the harassment of Mrs. Spencer is sickening ("Richard Spencer's 15 minutes are just about up," Dec. 22). The real estate agent firmly suggested that she sell her business and donate money to the Montana Human Rights Network, or else. Sad.

Tiffany Hyde

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Trump? Not a chance.

I think that we need to recognize that we are now facing an unprecedented Constitutional crisis with the nation plunged into a state of emergency, divided as deeply as during the Revolutionary and Civil War eras and facing unprecedented threats from both without and—with the elevation of the loathsome beast Donald Trump—from within.

With every passing day, Trump demonstrates his unworthiness, unfitness and untrustworthiness again and again. His cabinet picks are guaranteed to divide the nation more deeply, and his team's relationship(s) with Russia and disdain for our institutions and the free press are a clear and present danger that cannot be "given a chance" in any respect.

We are standing on the threshold of open rebellion.

Sean Cruz

posted at

Follow the money

Missoula is the most taxed city in the state ("City crowd—sources tax relief with 'Betty's Fund', Dec. 15). I'm not sure where that money is going. The City Council isn't either—that's why they just called for more transparency in the budgeting process.

This feel-good Band-aid the City Council is trying isn't even a short-term solution. It's clear the city's tax politics are terrible, and hurting people terribly.

Municipal elections are next year. Vote these bums out. Remember, not a single incumbent ran for reelection last time, so terrible of a job they all did. Now if the mayor would do the same.

Greg Strandberg

posted at

Rhetorical questions

Dr. Shearer—I disapprove of the idea of any such watchlist, and I'm sorry to hear that you've been inconvenienced or harassed by this ("Watchlisted," Dec. 15).

But I think you have it easier than, say, conservative white students who have been told point blank to shut up and only listen in some classes; or the white students who were told, nonchalantly, by black students at an Ivy League school recently that the solution to their problem of white privilege was suicide. Like it or not, the crazy (I use the word carefully) fringe of Left academia is engaged in regular, dangerous and stupid assaults on free speech, free assembly and free thought. Is it really so impossible to believe that this watchlist has been created, when well-meaning parents are sending their kids off to schools that are, to a frightening degree, telling them that they are evil and dangerous, and this solely because of the color of their (white) skin?

Here are a few questions I'd like to put to you, and I'm sorry if this seems arrogant. It is not intended to be. But the answers may shed some light on how you are perceived. Please note that this is not a request for you to answer in this or any other public forum. I would have no right to make such a request. Rather these are intended as a thought-provoking exercise, from a well-meaning Montana native who hopes to reveal some of your "blind spots" to you, and from someone who also hopes to be shown the blind spots in my own political and cultural outlook on life in the USA.

1. Do you know about, and have you spoken out against, so-called hate crimes or incidents of police brutality that have been perpetrated by whites against blacks, or other minority groups? Do you know who Freddie Gray was, and what happened to him?

2. Do you know about, and have you spoken out against, so-called hate crimes or incidents of police brutality that have been perpetrated by minorities against whites, or do you acknowledge the possibility that a minority can commit a hate crime against a white or group of whites? Do you know who Christopher Newsom was, and what happened to him? Do you who Gilbert Collar was?

3. Do you think that racism is a phenomenon that is comprised only of white actions or thoughts taken against minorities, or do you acknowledge that racism can be perpetrated against any race by any other race?

4. As you have taught your students that all institutions in the United States were created by whites to serve whites, how do you explain the NAACP, the Negro College Fund, the institution of affirmative action, the national day of recognition for the great man that was Martin Luther King, Jr.?

5. Do you condone the public statements by large numbers of Black Lives Matter members that all white cops are fair targets for murder? If not, have you spoken out against it? If you have not spoken out against it, and feel that this is an unfair question, do you think that you might be selective in which illegal and immoral statements and acts you regularly think about and criticize? If so, might this be based on flaws in the ideological nature of your thoughts on race?

6. Have you given thought to the plight of poor whites in America, of which there have always been plenty? Seen Winter's Bone? Do you consider the whites in that film to be privileged over their poor black counterparts in any way? Why?

Thanks for your attention.

John Brandt

posted at

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Letters to the editor

Posted on Wed, Dec 21, 2016 at 3:21 PM

Watch me!

Dear Turning Point USA: As a socialist filmmaker who advocates for women of color and attacks the dominant white corporate culture of the USA, I feel you are unfairly excluding filmmakers like me from your watchlist ("Watchlisted," Dec. 15). Why list only college professors, who are relatively harmless? Please consider me for your watchlist, as I am fully qualified. You can check my Watchlist bonafides at my website, My new film, Seattle Death Trains, currently rejected at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, streams immediately at the website. Please watch the film and add me to your watchlist. It will be obvious within the first two minutes of the film that I qualify for your watchlist. Thank you!

Gene Bernofsky


Covering all the angles

I have never met Tobin Miller Shearer, though I stand beside, behind and before him.

Robert Capriccio


Be bad soldiers

If the good folks among the Germans had stood up against Hitler when he had all Jewish professors dismissed, maybe the Holocaust would not have occurred. We must resist the Trump agenda on all fronts without civility and despite our fear.

Barbara Lyons

posted at

Defending the list

I am a UM alum, and while I never had the pleasure of a class with him, I don't believe Dr. Shearer was added to this watchlist merely for his opinions, but because he institutionalized those opinions in an academic setting. University should be a place of rigorous fact, critical inquiry, and diversity of opinion. We cannot afford—intellectually or ethically—to base entire coursework on particular ideological narratives. There exist locations where it is to some extent desirable to have people accept the same beliefs without question, to simply "transmit" convictions: church, for example. University is not one of these. So when Dr. Shearer says "I really do believe that every institution in this country was created to serve white people. I am a self-declared feminist. I am convinced that men need to take responsibility for dealing with our sexism," those are his personal opinions and convictions. If his goal is to transmit those to students whose grades depend on "getting it," then this is an exercise in indoctrination, not education. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, not so much to use a position of influence to pass those opinions off as fact. That is why he is on such a list.

Michael Covel

posted at

Being the beacon

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it." But the darkness doesn't relent. Doing justice requires sacrifice and risk. And it makes it so clear: We need each other. We need to stand with each other. Thanks for being a light, and a gathering point.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes

posted at

Badge of honor

Tobin, I've asked to be put on the list, but probably won't make it. I see it as a badge of honor. Brother to a Dragonfly and The Glad River are both powerful books that changed my life, and I've been thinking a lot lately about Will Campbell's willingness to sit with those who hated his life's work. It's always challenged me how he was able to sit down with those who were glad that Jonathan Daniels was killed, but it's helped me put aside judgment and understand that oppression is more insidious than we think. It affects those who do the oppressing as well as those who are oppressed. Campbell's influence is deeper than many, possibly even he, realized.

Jeffrey C. Pugh

posted at

Truth to power

Tobin, thanks so much for this wonderful, thoughtful and important response. I'm grateful for this article and will be using it next year when I—another white Mennonite guy—teach my African-American history course. Your statements on white privilege are spot-on, which is why you've been targeted. Speaking truth to power, especially when you yourself are part of that power, is always a tricky business, but it's the essential work I believe we are called to do. Thanks for doing so, and for doing it with such clarity, compassion and wit. It's bastards like you that give bastards like me hope.

Mark Metzler Sawin

posted at

Rocky road

Tobin, it sounds like you have chosen to be on the right side of history. I applaud your stand and wish you all the best. There is likely a rocky road ahead for progressives.

James Miller

posted at

Maybe next time?

I am disappointed that I did not make the list. Maybe it's because I retired last year. But here are a few more facts about the list. A quarter of the professors on the list are either black or teach black studies. This is four times the proportion of black professors in higher education. Second, professors like my friend Tobin make the list based on one or two sentences out of millions of words that they have spoken or written. This distinguishes the list from those published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which looks at a long track record of not just words, but actions. As Tobin noted, the Professor Watchlist is arbitrary. Some professors are on the list not because they tried to indoctrinate some poor helpless college student. Read the sins that resulted in the listing and you discover that the key sin is speaking against gun rights or in favor of gun regulation. Overwhelmingly, professors have been listed for what they said or published outside the classroom. One can see some score-settling in the listing, too, including listing those who have spoken out against the website's owner, Turning Point USA.

Jeff Renz

posted at

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Dec 14, 2016 at 2:10 PM

Fix it now

Thank you for the in-depth article pertaining to the situation in Warm Springs Hospital by Kate Whittle ("Ill Treatment," Dec. 1). I have been waiting for this story to come out for some time. This timing is perfect, as we are soon entering the Montana legislative session.

It appears to me that there are several issues to address in the ongoing problems at Warm Springs State Mental Hospital. These issues were explained well in your article. May I now make some suggestions for correction?

Primarily: Commission an outside professional review of the entire hospital with a report made to the appropriate legislative committee for action. Gov. Bullock could order that immediately and have it available for the session.

Second: Settle the current grievances immediately without the expenditure of limited funds for high-cost lawyers. This action would mitigate the suffering of the four individuals cited in the current complaint. Since this has been dragging on at least since September, I believe that would be an appropriate action.

Vera McCurley


Wishing well

Fantastic that this man was wise enough to realize his problem and get help ("Etc.," Dec. 1)! A real hero! Wish there were more like him! I'm proud of him and his accomplishment. HOOORAY John!

Patrica Bowers


Public over private

I don't want to disrespect the private landowners' issues in this lawsuit, which as far as I can tell are legitimate ("Westside project barrels ahead," Dec. 1). However, from my work, which involved writing comments and the objection to the Westside timber sale, there are more profound issues that relate to the direct damage to National Forest land from logging and road construction. And, of course, the fact that taxpayers are subsidizing timber mills based upon fraudulent agency and industry "science." This pseudoscience is based on the false proposition that nature can't heal the forests, if humans just get out of the way. And that somehow these fire-prone ecosystems can be made safe for homeowners by logging miles away from homes. In other words, they want to "make the forests great again!"

This is the exact same propaganda the Forest Service is using to justify logging all over the National Forest system. And that should be of concern to all of us National Forest "landowners"the American public.

These issues get left behind when the media focus on more narrow private interests.

Jeff Juel


Ode to dead geese

I read my poem "Not Water" at the Snow Geese Memorial event in Butte after the 1995 loss of 342 migrating snow geese.

White birds get our attention because they are so highly visible on the dark red surface. Darker birds have surely suffered the same fate, unnoticed.

I submit it as a letter to the editor. It still speaks to the problem.

And I am still mad after all these years.

Can we stop calling it water?
Water brews tea,
cooks carrots, grows roses.
We baptize babies with water
The liquid in question is a dead headwater.
Could baptize us yet,
could be our Lourdes,
bottled and sold at Pit viewing stand
in bitter brown vile
child-proof cap with appropriate warning label:
“If swallowed, induce vomiting.
Call a doctor.”

Call it what you will, what it is, is not water.
Water falls on mountaintop, holy, frozen
melts to feed fir and pine where birds hatch hungry
melts to feed swollen stream where lunkers hide
melts on windshields coming home
with a load of standing dead cut before snow geese fly.

We need the moisture.

We think we know all
about this so-called water.
We know next to nothing.
Don’t be surprised
When it rolls across the driveway in a red brown wave,
flood irrigates the lawn to a sudden death,
delaminates linoleum,
rots carpets, stains dust ruffles.
Leaves a nasty ring around the lampshade.
Don’t be surprised when the lemonade tastes funny.
Call a doctor.

When we call it what it is,
we are all called
to name our poison
and change it back into

Kristi Hager


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Better Westside Project

Posted on Wed, Dec 7, 2016 at 3:18 PM

I am disappointed by the Forest Service's decision to continue full speed ahead on the Westside Project without taking the time to consider easy and economical compromises that would generate agreement among a broader range of stakeholders and embrace the tenet of collaboration supported by the Western Governors' Association and Gov. Steve Bullock.

The project began five years ago, with the recognition that the area around Ward Mountain required thinning to reduce the possibility of crown fires that could threaten nearby homes. Had the Forest Service proceeded with that original recommendation, the thinning might have been completed one or two years before the outbreak of the Roaring Lion fire. The hand-thinning project would have been small enough to eliminate the long process required by the Westside Project.

Instead of going ahead with the recommended project, the Forest Service added thousands of acres of logging and road construction, including a permanent bridge across Camas Creek. The size and scope of the larger project and the addition of extensive road-building at taxpayer expense required a different and much longer procedure. The Forest Service's rationale was that this would help pay for the hand-thinning. Considering the cost of fighting the Roaring Lion fire, the losses incurred, and the Forest Service man-hours involved in five years of planning, that hand-thinning project might have more than paid for itself.

All of the stakeholders involved in the public input stage of the Westside Project process agreed with the need for thinning in the Roaring Lion area. But most were opposed to roads crisscrossing the Coyote Coulee trail, logging with no buffer to protect the integrity of the trail, a permanent bridge across Camas Creek, and running hundreds of fully loaded logging trucks down narrow, winding, residential roads. These stakeholders offered a number of compromises, but the Forest Service continued full steam ahead regardless of these concerns.

Now that the original hand-thinning project area has burned, it seems the perfect time to compromise with local stakeholders and hand-thin in Unit 2 (the Coyote Coulee area), thus ending the need for the contested roads and permanent bridge, protecting the Coyote Coulee trail, and supporting the recreation industry. The roads and bridge will cost taxpayers half a million dollars. Why not save that expenditure and allow the remainder of the project to pay for the thinning in the Coulee area? Why not collaborate with the stakeholders rather than disregard them so that their only recourse is a lawsuit?

The Forest Service admitted that it did not collaborate well with local stakeholders on the Westside Project at the Western Governors' Association meeting. They said they would do it differently if they had to do it again. But why not correct this mistake now? They can still collaborate by compromising and hand-thinning in Unit 2, thus eliminating the controversial road-building, logging trucks on residential roads, and damage to the locally built, maintained, and loved trail.

Michele Dieterich


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