Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 1:33 PM

The union solution

The April determination by the Montana Department of Labor and Industry to enforce Montana's tip-sharing law is a complicated ruling for both service industry workers and restaurant owners ("A tip-splitting case at Missoula's The Keep could change the way restaurants do business," June 8). The truth is, most restaurant workers rely on tip-sharing to get them from paycheck to paycheck (and let's be real, if the dishwasher did a bad job or the food is nasty, nobody's going to be getting a tip).

With the formation of an employee union, the workers enter into a collective bargaining agreement with their employer—because collective bargaining agreements are determined and voted upon by the workers, it wouldn't violate Montana's labor laws to include a fair tip-sharing structure as part of the agreement. A restaurant workers' union would help ensure that the back of the house is fairly compensated for their significant "[contribution] to a good meal and experience."

Unionizing is a simple solution to a complicated ruling for restaurant employees and owners alike. Absolutely anyone can start a union at their workplace, and Good Jobs Missoula can help you navigate the process.

Emily Likins

Good Jobs Missoula


Sarcasm alert

Let's see if I have this right ("Engstrom to earn $119K next year as UM professor," June 16 ). UM fires Engstrom, who drove UM into the ground in less than 5 years. They hire him back to teach entry level classes when he has not been in the classroom for more than 25 years. At the same time UM is laying off faculty and staff. Makes perfect sense!

Will Carr

Google an answer

As usual, federal and state taxpayers provide 90 percent of the funding ("Why getting rural schools up to internet speed is such an incredibly slow go," June 15). Then CenturyLink owns it? Why should private companies own and monetize publicly funded infrastructure? Existing fiber in Montana came from the evisceration of Montana Power under Racicot-era privatization and the Touch America debacle/boondoggle and subsequent bankruptcy and destruction of hundreds (if not thousands) of Montanans' retirement savings. So why are we repeating this insanity?

Doug Murray

Full-time job

As the designated driver of the '70s, I was happy to drive Jay and other friends home safe ("Twenty years after his death, artist Jay Rummel still haunts Missoula," June 15). It was a crazy time. The first time I saw him he was on the tiny stage at the Top Hat. Shirley Juhl was one of the Gilded Lily owners then. My mother was scandalized by the Rummel print on the wall behind our couch. Kids never minded it. "Girl from the North Country," I think. Thumbtacks, yes.

Hannah Johns

Man of many talents

Most all the people in Rummel's art work are locals. I recognize some of them. Some have also passed along as Jay has. I have a River City Bad Girls T-shirt that has his artwork on it. The shirt does not fit me anymore but I would never get rid of it. Jay told some good stories, too. He was a storyteller as well as an artist.

Diana Sanchez


I am one of those pickleballers, though not one who was there for this ("A pickleball rebellion at Playfair Park," June 15). I agree, there is no excuse for the impoliteness of crossing the court while the ball was in play. Perhaps they were newbies. None of the people I play with would do such a thing.

The reason that Playfair has been inundated with pickleballers is that the city is refurbishing the usual courts at the Fort and building six dedicated pickleball courts. This is not nearly enough. Bend, Oregon, has 16 beautiful courts. You should complain to the city that Missoula needs more pickleball courts. But we'll probably be off of Playfair later this summer.

More and more young people are picking it up, and there are many more pickleball tournaments than there are tennis tournaments in this region. You should try it.

Phil Carlos

A bird's life

That is very unfortunate ("The world is watching Missoula's osprey drama," June 15). On a brighter side, there are three thriving Osprey chicks in the Bitterroot Valley that have nested on a moving crane(!) There's a live YouTube feed for them as well at

Ryan Newhouse

Regulate responsibly

Thank you, Kate Cholewa, for a thoughtful and informative response to Mr. Brooks' piece from the other week ("Correcting the record on Montana's marijuana tax," June 15.) It is refreshing to see Montana moving forward with common sense, transparent and accountable legislation and beginning the process of responsibly regulating Montana's budding medical cannabis industry.

Tayln Lang

Man on the inside

Many Republican and all Democratic senators are being kept in the dark while a cabal of old white men develop a top secret "health care plan." But Sen. Daines brags that he's being consulted. This is not a compliment. If he is privy to what the cabal is up to, it's because they know he will not break ranks. He can be counted on to march in lockstep with whatever the group comes up with. The fact that a bill of this magnitude is being developed behind closed doors with no input from most Republicans and none from Democrats, to be followed by a full vote with little time for discussion or debate, tells me that this is a bill, like the one the House passed, won't be good for most Montanans. But, to his credit, Daines is a loyal guy. Loyal to his party. But not to the people of Montana. I'd love for Daines to prove me wrong.

Pat Tucker


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Jun 14, 2017 at 2:59 PM

Allowed! Persecution!

I read with amusement the featured story about why the Democrats keep losing elections ("Montana Democrats just got their ass handed to them. What will it take to get this party started?" June 8). At the heart of the matter is a need to take a more moderate stance on some issues. As a former Democrat, I have noticed how rude and unreasonable the left can be, not to mention insulting to the more mature, working and business-owner party. I see the news almost daily showing rallies that remind me of Earth First tactics. Sure, we are allowed freedom of speech, but these reckless radicals are not winning over any rational converts. Regarding social justice, the liberals seem to only support causes that will further their percentage of voters at the ballot box. When was the last time you saw a leftist group protesting the persecution of Christians? Conservatives tend to support their ideas of social justice through their local church, or by donations of time or money, without much fanfare. Social justice would be increased if more people would buy local American products so our citizens could be productive workers. To loosely quote an old environmentalist, Edward Abbey: "Instead of complaining and talking about saving the West, get out there and clean it up, enjoy it, donate, do something!"

Joe Petrusaitis


It's reigning men

After reading "Montana Democrats just got their ass handed to them. What will it take to get this party started?" by Michael Siebert and Alex Sakariassen, two reporters I read and respect, I am compelled to respond with an unqualified WTF! I am not reeling at the content of the article. As an unapologetic voice of the progressive flank of the Montana Democratic Party, and your Missoula representative in the Montana Legislature for the past four terms, I am certainly not above criticizing the establishment ranks of the party. My feathers are ruffled by the literal faces the authors provided of the "Democratic bench" of state legislative leaders whose "opinions" were featured about the party's future. Five state reps were interviewed in the piece and that bench was 100 percent male. The percentage of women in the Montana legislature is 28.7 percent, but we are the vast majority of your Democratic representatives. Your omission of the majority of your Democratic representatives in an analysis of the future of the Democratic party is beyond disappointing. It's irresponsible to the reader and the voter. The centrality of gender to our understanding of American democracy is a part of the conversation and, in my humble but qualified opinion, it is the direction this state and this nation is headed. Despite accounting for half the population, we women make up roughly 20 percent of Congress, state legislators and mayors. Yes, women are underrepresented in politics at every level of government, and yet, in response to our current science-denying state officials and our pussy-grabbing federal leadership, women have mobilized in larger numbers to run for office than ever before. In January of this year, 10,000 Montana women grabbed their Patagonia jackets and donned them with pink pussy hats, huddling together, fists and protests signs in air. The Washington, D.C. "Women's March" drew 500,000. A woman's place is in the resistance, indeed. Gender matters in communication, media portrayals and citizens' attitudes toward their government, and no article about the future of the Montana Democratic Party—or any party—should so wildly omit our leadership or our opinion. As a longtime Indy reader and supporter, I demand better.

Rep. Ellie Hill Smith



I think Gianforte should invite the same reporter to ask the same question and answer it honestly ("Conservatives aren't going to be thrilled about Gianforte's $50,000 donation to press freedom group," June 8). Then I would maybe consider it a "sincere" apology.

Brooke Jones


Funny, I'm conservative and I'm thrilled. Thanks for judging. Your Missoulian/Lee Enterprises bias is already shining through. How 'bout you go back to just reporting the news?

Patti Earling

Not her representative

Gianforte is a violent man whose morals are questionable. He said he takes "full responsibility" for attacking the reporter on election eve, but he won't explain why his staff made false statements as to what happened. He had plenty of time to file for re-election, however. If the House of Representatives has any integrity left they will not seat him. Even if the Republicans cave to their party over what is ethical and admit him to Congress, Gianforte will never represent me!

Mari von Hoffmann



I thought the tree thingy said it was "The Arm" transitioning and there's a second that is its evil doppelganger, a replacement for the dwarf that we first met 25 years ago ("Talking creamed corn, Agent Cooper and Twin Peaks after 25 years," June 8). Did I just make that up in my head?

Carrie Ann Mallino

Here's a tip...

As a former dishwasher, cook and server, I've never experienced money voluntarily rolling downhill, but I have experienced the assumption that one job is harder or more worthy than another ("A tip-splitting case at Missoula's The Keep could change the way Montana restaurants do business," June 8). We can bemoan wage equity in restaurants—until you unionize each and every one, it ain't gonna happen. Litigation like this only harms fellow workers, but I suppose she thought she deserved that money more than they did.

Julie Janj


Suicide needs mental health care, not disarmament ("Too hot to handle?" June 8). In fact, making it all about guns does a huge disservice to those in need of mental health care.

"Oh I'm sorry you're depressed. Let me take that gun away. Now you're all better."

This author should be ashamed for politicizing his friend's illness.

Matthew Neer

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Jun 7, 2017 at 3:56 PM

That's your example?

I reach for an Independent because I'm interested in excursions exploring our beautiful state and find nearly every article laced with vitriolic liberal bias. Being a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, maybe I'm overly sensitive to not so subtle attempts at indoctrination, but one doesn't have to be to be offended by drivel. "61 Ways To While Away Your Summer" (June 1) is an example of piss-poor journalism, where the president is reviled and one is invited to join the Communist Party, i.e., Industrial Workers of the World, etc. Your logo exclaims "Free Thinking Since 1991," when it should say "Bias For Bubbleheads," and I'm being kind. I've reached the last time for this rag unless I'm out of privy paper. Free is way too expensive in this instance. And the press wonders why the country is turning away.

Larry Martin



Barbara, I cannot tell you how much you have influenced my life and reading ("With founder Barbara Theroux retiring, Fact & Fiction turns a page," June 1). I think you are amazing, in every sense of the word, and it is my honor to know someone so smart, so respectable, so influential!

I only have one question: Will you show up for book club now and then?

Also, your "replacement" (no such thing) is completely adorbs. I've talked to her on several occasions, and I know she can carry the torch!

Dawn Jackson

Best of Missoula

Barbara, thank you for all of your years in the biz. You are one of the best things about Missoula!

Richard Fifield

A history of milk

If you want to learn more about the history of milk, a good place to start is the book The Raw Truth about Milk by William Campbell Douglass II ("The raw deal: in search of Missoula's black-market milk," June 1). You can buy it at Amazon or download it for free from a number of sites.

When you study the history of the dramatic health improvements in the late 1800s to early 1900s you find that they're due to improvements in city water and sewer systems.

It's disturbing when I see intelligent, capable people credit improvements in infant mortality to pasteurized milk and credit the decline of polio to the polio vaccine. These are convenient stories and they validate government involvement, but they are not based on the facts.

It's true that improvements in city water and sewer systems and pasteurized milk and vaccines were happening in the same time frame, but when you look at the timeline you see: first, improvements in city water and sewer systems; second, dramatic health improvements; third, pasteurized milk and vaccines.

Bob Lambert

Where to start...

It is a stretch to compare the scuffle between Gianforte and the rude reporter to the other tragedies mentioned in your article ("If our politicians can't model nonviolence, who will?" June 1). When will the news media be respectful in their interviews, and when will they print the truth? Instead, letters and articles are edited, comments are no longer allowed in the Missoulian (your other newspaper) and reporting has become skewed to reflect a progressive agenda. The outcomes of elections are determined by your articles in many instances. You are only insulting yourself when you think that readers cannot think or research the facts in order to arrive at the truth. The reporter you are describing as a victim is really the perpetrator, a bully, and criminal charges should be brought against him. Hitler silenced the truth, too, and look at the results. By discrediting Gianforte, you are only discrediting your reporting.

Gloria Roark

Room = improvement

It's great for the donors, too ("An embiggened food bank moves into new digs," June 1). As a volunteer, I pick up weekly donations from Orange Street Food Farm (thanks!) and deliver them to the donation entrance in the back. The new building has a wide "alley" on the Catlin side that's clearly marked "One Way" and a spacious drop-off area inside next to a scale to weigh and log in each donation load.

Kathleen Kimble

Keep on trudgin'

Living in a town where it seems there is a growing population of those that think working hard, taking risks and rewarding oneself occasionally is a dirty thing to do, I do still see the humor in this article, and thank you! ("Now that I'm rich, I can give till it really hurts," June 1).

In the meantime, I will continue to merrily trudge along, working hard, creating jobs and paying it forward in the community the way I know how.

Left or right, we are American, and we all have a choice to either go out there and make the best of our lives, or simply exist. As J.F.K said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." I believe that can be considered for our town, community, neighborhoods and home, too.

Fred Van de Perre

Hometeam talent

Perfectly said, Erika! ("Home field advantage: the rich terrain of Caroline Keys' Mean to Stay," June 1). It was an amazing show, and I so look forward to listening to both this album and Izaak Opatz's new album. Probably will have to listen to them both on repeat to hear all the subtle complexities that you only get with musicians of this talent level. Missoula is so lucky to have musicians of this caliber at local venues.

Deborah Joyce

Correction: "The raw deal: in search of Missoula's black-market milk," June 1, stated that farm-to-consumer raw milk sales are legal in 11 states. In fact, retail sales of raw milk are legal in 11 states. Raw milk sales in non-retail contexts are legal in an additional 31 states. The Independent regrets the error.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, May 31, 2017 at 4:54 PM

Step outside

The sun is back, the snow has melted and the birds are about to begin fledging ("A seemingly endless election cycle finally comes to an end," May 25). It sounds like you could use some wilderness time.

Brandon Wasser

Oh god no...

Time to start gearing up for 2018, lol!

Lynne Marie Duncan

This too shall pass

Thank you for the good work you have done. Take a deep breath. Storms and darkness never last forever.

Wendy L. Cohan

With luck like that...

With any luck, Trump will hire Gianforte to be press secretary and get him to return to where he came from ("House race takes its most bizarre turn yet with Gianforte's alleged assault of a reporter," May 25). Get the special election going again. Alas, a tyrantosaurus does live amongst us, and now represents our great state.

Larry Campbell

Stuck in the past

Recently you published a communication from a person who had attended the creationist conference at the University of Montana featuring Ken Ham. Ken Ham is originally from Australia, and is one of the original persons pushing the creationist doctrine. It was disappointing to read the comments by the participant because they reveal that the Creationist movement has not improved its arguments. For the record, the U.S. Supreme Court and several state supreme courts have ruled repeatedly that creationism is not a science, but only a religious belief.

The leading spokesperson, Duane Gish, who used to tour the U.S. debating biologists, admitted in his writings that there was no scientific test for creation because creation beliefs are not based on natural laws of science, but on revelation. I was asked to debate Gish at Idaho State University and I said I would be happy to on the condition that he present the scientific evidence that supports creation. He declined to do so.

The participant quoted in the Independent used old arguments, all of which have been refuted hundreds of times. The sad thing is that she was pointing to supposed problems with evolutionary studies, as though such difficulties support creation science, or as if creationism wins by default. Your long article on Ken Ham and his ilk ("Muddy the waters: Ken Ham, Greg Gianforte, and the creationist assault on science in Montana," May 11) reveals their true ethic: Make public schools look bad and depict scientists as suspect and evil. Frankly, trying to make a religious belief a legitimate science is clearly more wicked than anything else. We should not demean Christianity by such awful tactics.

Edwin W. House


Fired up

It is refreshing to hear the media realize the threat of the alt-right ("Arming the left," May 18). Liberals of all areas need to radicalize in these times and be ready for these fascists, who have no coyness toward violence. "Leftist gun culture" needs to lose its oxymoronic connotation.

Mikej Dittrich

Cooler heads

I have said this before and I say it again: People need to learn and understand gun responsibility, because just owning a gun will not protect you from a determined criminal. I'm all for gun ownership, but not when the gun owner does little more than put it in a corner, or is doing so because someone made them angry and they think getting a gun will solve their problem. Toting guns about, when you have no idea when or if you should use it, or facing some idiot who also has no idea, means one or more people will either get shot or just barely avoid being shot.

Kevin Lessley


Saving for the future

The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (NREPA) was recently reintroduced into Congress. The act would protect 23 million roadless acres as designated wilderness in five states, including Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington and Oregon under the 1964 Wilderness Act.

Enactment of NREPA would have several major effects. It would preserve some of the last best wildlands in the country. These wildlands are crucial for many species, from bull trout to lynx to grizzly bears. This would include such wildlands near Missoula as the Great Burn, Sapphire Mountains/Stony Mountain, Allan Mountain and Blue Joint, as well as additions to the Selway Bitterroot, Mission Mountains and Bob Marshall wildernesses.

The protection of these wildlands would enhance the quality-of-life attributes of the five states that are fueling economic growth and opportunity. Economists have shown that people living in counties with significant amounts of protected wildlands, on the whole, possess higher incomes.

Protection of these lands would also save taxpayers significant money. Currently, nearly all logging sales in the region are money-losing affairs. Taking these lands out of the timber base would reduce the losses from below-cost timber sales.

In addition, recent research has found that protected lands have a lower percentage of high-severity fires compared to "managed" lands—i.e., lands under active timber management. So, this would again save money we currently expend on firefighting.

Finally, in the age of global warming, protection of these lands would help to store carbon. Unlogged lands hold far more carbon than logged lands. Just the carbon value of these protected lands is worth billions to Americans in terms of carbon storage.

Protecting these wildlands is a gift for the future and part of our collective national patrimony.

George Wuerthner


More, please!

I absolutely loved this production ("Good theater and the meaning of life in Between the Lines' production of Stupid Fucking Bird," May 20). The casting was perfect. I could hear. I could see. I could laugh. I could cry. I could relate. The time flew.

Congratulations to Mason Wagner for taking a risk and making this year's series happen. All the seats were full, so he is tapping into an audience that wants more new work. Keep it coming, Mason!

Sandy Sheppard

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 3:03 PM

Welcome words

I'm one of your longtime admiring readers and am very, very happy that you intend to continue the top-flight publishing of your top-flight newspaper. I think the May 11 issue is especially praiseworthy, from the genius of the "Muddy the Waters" cover to the ever-faithful Rockin Rudy's ad on the back. I'm many years beyond the average age of your readers, so I know something: The Missoula Independent stands out as a model of intelligent, straightforward, clear-thinking journalism, and of precise usage of our mother tongue (which, I have to say, is crumbling in published material everywhere, leaving us readers to guess what might have happened and who might have done it). I hope your younger readers are learning from the Independent to expect high standards of reporting and opinion writing and to value what I think of as the Independent's good will and best wishes for Missoula. You have my gratitude and admiration for keeping on in spite of the upset that has fallen upon you.

Marylor Wilson


Thanks for watching

Your rationale and conclusion is far more understandable than that offered by the Missoulian ("The Missoulian's Gianforte endorsement? We beg to differ," May 18). You know all of us are worried about your future, and so we will all be watching for signs of coercion and disregard for the stances and positions you have worked so hard to maintain.

Mike Jakupcak

Party animals

You're spot-on about party platforms. Nobody agrees with everything on either platform, but voting for someone from a party that you mostly agree with is infinitely preferable to voting for someone from a party you mostly disagree with and that consistently does things you disagree with.

Not voting because a candidate doesn't appeal to you? Hardly any elected person gets things done as an individual. Party candidates who take office generally vote with the party, and generally based on the party's platform.

Rob Quist will vote with Democrats. I voted for him.

Ed Childers

Busted. Or something.

The Missoula Independent is the banner-waving liberal think tank of the area ("Task force fears cuts," May 18). Its readers are made up of folks often wondering why America is wasting so much money in a war on drugs. I'm speculating past editorials supporting the same subject, ending the war on drugs, now come out against the president who may, might, is rumored to cut funding on the war on drugs. Very smelly fish wrap.

Chuck Haynes


Take it from this old UM Missoula hippie: This article is fear-mongering ("Gunning up," May 18). Who are the fascist thugs shutting down freedom of speech? Not conservative Americans. You haven't done your research if you're going to lump conservative Americans and Montanans with the ridiculous and minuscule Klan goons. We're your grannies who show up at the T-ball field and feed you dinner afterward and read you bedtime stories. We're the only glue holding this state and nation together. I expect better reporting from the Independent.

Virginia Leinart

Quist 'r' us

My name is Sam Orr, I'm from Missoula and I, like a lot of Montanans, have a pre-existing condition. It's not that noticeable, but I am on the autistic spectrum and have struggled with high-functioning Asperger syndrome my whole life. Some of the things I struggle with are minor. I have some small social anxiety and I talk fast sometimes when I'm nervous. I have been fortunate, though, with the education I have received, as well as being a part of my community through political activism, theater and music. However, I was appalled when I heard that current U.S. Congress candidate Greg Gianforte was "thankful" for "Trump Care" getting passed in the House of Representatives because it gives millionaires like him another tax break, while kicking Montanans with pre-existing conditions off Medicaid. I stand with Rob Quist because he, too, has a pre-existing condition due to a botched gallbladder surgery that put him deep into debt with medical bills. He's just like us, and would fight for us in Washington, D.C. The whole country will be looking at Montana this week, and we shouldn't disappoint. Vote Rob Quist on May 25.

Sam Orr



Some people will do, say, exploit or kill anything for the next fix of petrodollars ("Right of the dial," May 18). It gets easier when the message is tightly controlled by fomenters/profiteers of America's biggest monkey on the back of the world.

Jay Toups

Pod people

Let me see if I understand this correctly. Montana is the fourth-largest state (146,000-plus square miles) with a population of slightly more than 1 million people represented by three members in Congress.

Now we are asked to consider one candidate who was previously the employer of one of the current members representing us in Congress. Not only did the two of them retire as multimillionaires from their firm when it was sold, but they live in the same town and they share skepticism regarding established science regarding the Earth's age. It comes as no surprise they are both climate change doubters.

The point is, given Montana's vast size, population scarcity, and the diversity of its people, is it really in our best interest to have two peas from the same pod casting two of our three votes in Congress on issues of great significance to all our people? It is my suggestion that separate and independent views are preferable to an echo.

Bob Hendricks


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 2:49 PM

The real issue...

A more important issue for Montanans than whether hunting deer or elk makes for a true "Montanan" ("If hunting is such a core 'Montana value,' how come most Montanans don't hunt?" May 11) is whether that individual treasures and respects Montana's public lands wildlife, and wants to keep public lands in public hands.

Mary Costello public lands

I know that Rob Quist had tax liens and $20,000 in debts, and that he struggled financially for years. I also know that he paid his debts, which were due to medical expenses following a botched surgery. I personally know what it's like to spend years paying medical-related debt caused by circumstances, not by a character defect. I won't fault Quist for this.

Neither will I judge Greg Gianforte for not being from Montana. I won't assume that multimillionaire status makes him out of touch with ordinary Montanans. I admire his financial success.

I only care about these questions: What does each man each stand for? Most importantly, who will fight to conserve our public lands? The only answer is Quist. He has spoken continuously about his passion and commitment to preserve our public lands, whereas Gianforte has not. Gianforte openly supports candidates and funds organizations that want to sell Montana's public lands. He also petitioned FWP and sued Montana in an effort to eliminate public stream access near his property.

Let's put aside our political divides and unite to safeguard the majestic beauty of our state. Let's elect Rob Quist.

Heidi McCormick


Thanks for sharing

Grew up in Montana. Still visit regularly and own land there. Still hunt at 69, butcher and eat the venison I take. Wouldn't vote for a carpetbagging rich jerk from the East on a bet. Wish I could vote for Quist.

Ken Robertson

Sins of omission

This article ("Muddy the waters," May 11) missed commenting on the science that was clearly presented at the conference. As usual, the evolutionist-leaning journalist ignored commenting on the scientific facts that are presented that clearly contradict the evolutionary storyline. There is no recognition of the worldview basis Ken Ham addresses that each scientist starts from informing their presuppositions that they use to interpret the facts. All science has this basis—can't get out of it by claiming to be completely objective. No such person exists. I would really like to see evolutionists make their case with true science, not ad hominem attacks or innuendo. They need to address the scientific mechanisms (or lack thereof) that allow naturally occurring chemicals to form life in natural conditions (all scientific studies show these to be hostile to life molecules). What mechanism allows chemicals in their natural state to defy the second law of thermodynamics? How can life molecules form and begin chemical processes without the enzymatic catalysts needed to speed up chemical reactions to the point life can be sustained while waiting for the next evolutionary change? Please address the mathematics that show the chance of life molecules forming by chance is so miniscule no amount of time will allow it to happen. Please show how natural selection adds information at the genetic level; all observations and empirical testing show genetic loss with natural selection, not additions. Evolutionists continue to shout aloud that evolution is a fact, but fail to address the science to prove it. It is time for a broader look at the facts rather than automaton allegiance to a 150-year-old hypothesis. Science can only advance as robust challenges are aired, examined and addressed.

Esther Fishbaugh

Ixnay on the Gianforte

Greg Gianforte is always blowing hot air. Now he has already reached the point where he no longer feels he has to be truthful with us Montana peasants ("What a tool believes," May 11). Apparently, Greg believes his love of money makes him a Christian and he has a great chance of getting into heaven. Obviously, Greg believes his lying doesn't violate any commandments, and that he can fool anybody or any being. Undeniably, Greg thinks taking food from the poor is "what Jesus would do," and says that the accumulation of wealth is his only value (greed).

Incredibly, Greg thinks supporting state-sponsored executions and illegal wars is being pro-life. Greg thinks it is his place, not God's, to pass judgment. Treacherously, Greg believes that outsourcing American jobs to dictators and oligarchs who hate our country is OK. He cites capitalism and the Bible as his guiding force here. Greg says the 30 pieces of silver he gets for betraying American workers has precedent in the Bible, and that the ends always justify the means.

The worst kind of people are the ones who violate their own stated values. Greg Gianforte violates every value Christianity stands for and exemplifies selfishness, hypocrisy and, above all, greed. He tells lies, worships money, has no respect for life, does business with our enemies and is an economic traitor. Let's put Greg on the dinosaur express and send this New Jersey-educated Californian back to the coastal swamp.

Alex Gray

Save the EPA

Some of you may not have had the opportunity to visit Butte, Anaconda, Libby, Great Falls and other communities impacted by industry in Montana's past. With the elimination of the EPA promised by Washington, D.C., in the name of job creation, I have to wonder what effect this might have on this "last, best place" we call home. Montana's streams, rivers, forests, air and land are all critical to the primary industries we hold dear. Ranching, farming and recreation are part of our heritage. Extraction industries, while promising good jobs for today, have often left us with poisoned water (read Berkeley Pit) and poisoned citizens (read Libby). Cut Bank native Rob Quist's cowboy boots are firmly planted in Montana's soil. On May 25, please join me in sending him to Washington to be our representative. We need his voice to help preserve our Big Sky Country for the next generations.

Helen McLeavy

Great Falls

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, May 10, 2017 at 2:30 PM

Well not just like..

Religion is like old news! ("Church split on gay bishop, May 4). When are we going to wake up and begin treating churches just like we treat corporations? As long as Citizens United stands, churches of all religions should pay taxes! After all, they support political causes, just like any corporation buying votes!

Tim Leifer

Shades of Green

Most Berniecrats I know are now proud Independents ("Berniecrats gone Green," May 4). They are affiliating with, and other groups working to restore democracy for our country. Greens in the U.S. have not had a winning philosophy since Ralph Nader left. They do not have a positive image, while European Greens have done reasonably well. Until we have open primaries, open debates, ranked choice voting and automatic registration, no third party can succeed. Forty-four percent of Americans are now independent/unaffiliated rather than choosing to belong to any political party.

Charlotte Scot

Maybe gun up?

For an article that basically calls both these candidates "basic AF," there is no mention of the third candidate, Mark Wicks ("Rube tube," May 4). By ignoring the "other guy" you are doing a huge disservice to democracy. I expect more of a supposedly "independent" paper. You are not showing the full picture, but then again, what media outlet does?

Brandon Wasser

Pack the suit

Montanans have a rare opportunity to turn the tide by electing Rob Quist. Greg Gianforte is a wealthy suit from New Jersey. Send him packing. He could care less about the average Montanan.

Mary Costello


Respectfully: The biggest issue of the Montana special election is the Montana mail-in ballot. Risking defeat by doing the right thing is the very definition of courageous. And in this case what's right was profoundly clear, unequivocal, and laid squarely in the hands of one Republican candidate, Greg Gianforte—a failure in this test of courage.

Montana sawyers show courage when we fall that six-ton widow maker. Montana farmers show courage when we lay down hard cash for fuel and seed and fertilizer on a bet that we'll get a fair price for the crop. Montana truck drivers show courage when we take that mountainside switchback and feel our load of logs shift for the third time that day. Montana ranchers know courage when we doctor and tag the 20th spring calf in front of three-quarter tons of protective mama cow. Montana mothers show courage when they forego spring fashion to put a better meal on the table for their family or face the scorn of a deeply loved but errant teenager.

Rob Quist showed courage by doing the honest thing and calling for a mail-in ballot. He was told that any one of those mail-in votes could be cast while a love-Trump and hate-Democrats commercial was blasting on a TV or radio, and he had the guts to ask for a money-saving mail-in ballot anyway. Rob Quist has the courage to drive all across our state dodging animals and potholes on slick two-lane roads to ask for votes in counties that are openly hostile to Democrats. Those same counties that will now be taxed extra by a so-called conservative Montana Legislature gaming the system for its hand-picked candidate. Rob Quist has the guts to show up in front of neighbors and naysayers to explain how he worked his way back from financial embarrassment—an issue that has been exaggerated by dirty politics and a complicit newspaper.

And what do you see from Greg Gianforte? Threatening commercials bombarding the airwaves. Backdoor electioneering with blacked-out money. And now he hopes to win by bringing a Trump kid in to close a deal that Greg can't manage by himself.

Politics has a lot to do with money and power and promises of the future. But representing Montana is all about courage. In this campaign we got a good look at courage. On Election Day, you can show some courage and vote for Rob Quist. Because what future do we have if we are represented by someone who's failed a Montana-style test of courage?

Jerry McDonald

Thompson Falls

Who you calling cheap?

It's cheap to buy Montana. Our media market is small. Big money from out of state can afford to buy lots of negative ads and think they can get a wannabe Montanan from New Jersey misrepresenting Montana in Washington, D.C.

If you are making your choice of candidate based on TV, you are being bought. Think again. Back in D.C., the crony political insiders are cheering. The wealthy wonks want one of their own, who will let your interests down and stand with them instead.

Fortunately, Montana often shows the country we aren't for sale. I hope that will be the case May 25.

Carolyn Beecher


Probably just shy

Greg Gianforte is employing a bizarre avoidance strategy to win the special election. Hiding at private events, with an endless budget for attack ads, he has curiously managed to avoid meeting with the public he aspires to represent.

Gianforte has held so few events open and promoted to the public that if one did not watch local television, one might be surprised he was running for public office at all. He clearly believes that meeting with the public either comes with too high a risk of saying something out of touch or he simply does not care what you and I think. It is both amazing and disturbing that Montana is even considering electing Gianforte to be our sole representative when he has such a revulsion to meeting with us.

Montana needs a representative who will meet with us, listen to our voices, and stand with us. Gianforte has proven he is not that person. This is why Montana needs to reject him a second time.

Jake Dolan


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, May 3, 2017 at 2:12 PM

Merc? Meh.

I'm looking forward to seeing a new building on the block and the business it will bring to downtown ("Missoula is dead. Long Live Missoula," April 27). The Merc was hobbled together over the years, and although the brick was nice, the architecture of the building was—meh. Downtown Missoula has more charm and is more exciting a place to be than any downtown in Montana. Seriously. I celebrate the new hotel and am happy the old part of the building will be saved. Out with the old and in with the new! Progress.

Susie Orr

Multiple choice

Sometimes profit and progress deceive us into thinking destruction of old things is necessary and good. Sometimes it's just a lie that that people profiting the most tell to excuse their greed.

Julie Beers

Time to die

I personally know many Broadway business owners and off the record, they supported the demolition. History is one thing, and everyone wanted to save the Merc, but nobody seemed to offer any solution or funds to do so. History is amazing, but if you talk to those who had worked in the building the last few years, it was poorly maintained. That building had a shelf life, and unfortunately it expired.

Eric Dunn

He thinks we're young!

Some people's idea of a "vibrant" city... If only you knew Missoula before it was put on the map, and the kind of people it attracted. Most of you guys aren't old enough to know or understand what we have lost. Missoula was so much more than a playground for rich tourists and an ever-growing transient population. Missoula had a very unique soul. Those of us who have been around long enough, we see and feel the loss.

If the kind of "vibrancy" that a transient tourist destination produces is the kind of home you want, that is what we're getting. It's sad to lose the Merc, but what it is being replaced with is even worse.

Joe Bear

What won't Quist do?

Rob Quist has been a hunter longer than his Republican opponent has lived in Montana. He supports Second Amendment rights. Dark money TV ads contend that he supports a "gun registry." Quist's statement referred to fully automatic assault rifles—guns designed to kill humans. The ads omit that fact.

Quist will protect our public lands. He'll stand up for farmers, ranchers, small business owners and the timber industry. He'll fight for affordable health care and will defend Social Security and Medicare.

Rob Quist will strengthen public schools. He will advocate for Montana veterans, tribal sovereignty, equality and women's right to choose. He supports equal pay for equal work. He believes we must overturn Citizens United and close tax loopholes for corporations. He believes in science.

He has been a spokesman for the Montana Food Bank and a three-term member of the Montana Arts Council. Rob Quist supports Montana values. Please join me in voting for Rob Quist on May 25.

Karen Buley


Fight for our right

Montana's Constitution gives citizens the right to meaningfully participate in our state government's decision-making. There's a bill headed to Governor Bullock's desk that would undermine that right. Montana Senate Bill 337 would abolish the Board of Environmental Review, which serves as an important layer of citizen oversight for state decisions about our land, air, water and health.

Gov. Bullock should veto this damaging bill. Citizen participation in our government is a Montana value and our Constitutional right.

Beth Costigan


Not at any price

Now that winter is ending, we Montanans are putting away our skis and snowshoes. We're preparing to kayak, camp and hike in our public lands. Our summer recreation plans could change. The assault on our public lands continues.

This session, the Republican-controlled Montana Legislature passed a destructive resolution. It aims to open wilderness study areas to grazing, timber harvesting and mineral development. House Joint Resolution 9 asks the president and Congress to develop plans to manage some of our most valuable public lands for natural resource development. HJ 9 undoes decades of public land protection.

In 1977, Montanans, recognizing how important these lands are to our recreational heritage and to our clean and healthful environment, petitioned Congress to preserve them. Although these study areas were never designated wilderness, they have been managed as wilderness, and we have worked hard to develop bipartisan cooperation to protect their pristine status.

Our wild, public lands create many jobs for Montanans, in the woods and in our local communities. Asked why new businesses want to locate in Montana, owners credit the culture of hard work and the opportunities to recreate on public lands. Opening these lands to development will destroy jobs, hurt local economies and weaken working families. Development requires roads, motorized vehicles and heavy equipment. Land now home to wildlife, wild streams and natural vegetation would be damaged irreparably.

HJ 9 proponents want to invest millions of taxpayer dollars in road and bridge development in our wild public lands. They say pristine lands are a waste of money because they are prone to fire and taxpayers have to foot the bill. The cost will be much higher if we lose the environmental and recreational value of these lands.

I voted against this resolution. Help me defend our wild lands. Contact Sens. Tester and Daines and tell our candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives that our public lands are our lands, and they are not for sale.

Sen. Sue Malek


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 1:49 PM

What's good for vets

I have accessed health care through Veterans Affairs since 2002. Greg Gianforte's obvious disdain for the VA troubles me. Within the first day of his nomination for Montana's House seat he bashed it as the poster child for poor health care that should be privatized. I am aware of its shortcomings but the last thing I and the majority of veterans want is to see it privatized.

Sen. Tester works tirelessly to make the system function better for veterans. The solution is a blend of VA and private providers made possible through the Veteran's Choice program. It continues to improve, thanks in large part to Tester, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin and the many professional and dedicated VA employees. My recent experience with the Choice program proved excellent.

Sen. Tester needs a partner in the House of Representatives who will work with him, not against him, to strengthen veterans' health care. Gianforte, a member of the rich elite, does not understand working Montanans' needs or our lives. Candidate Rob Quist, on the other hand, has had his own direct experiences with the difficulty of accessing health care, and will provide Tester with the partner he needs to continue improving veterans' health care.

Pat Tucker


Keep it clean

Montana Public Radio KUFM reported on April 18 that Missoula and Bozeman rank nationally 9th and 12th, respectively, for new business creation. A panel of start-up businesses at the recent Missoula gathering of the Montana High Tech Business Alliance said that "a big reason they're thriving is because of the great quality of life here."

Not all Montanans will remember the condition of our natural environment in the early 1970s. Air and water quality around the state had been degraded by industries employing no environmental controls. Montana citizen activists heightened awareness of environmental issues, and now our Constitution says: "The state and each person shall maintain and improve a clean and healthful environment in Montana for present and future generations."

An important citizen oversight body tasked with maintaining our environment is in danger of being eliminated. SB 337 would abolish the Board of Environmental Review. As an example of what would be lost, the Board "has authority and duty to adopt all rules to implement the Clean Air Act of Montana." Please contact Gov. Bullock and urge him to veto this bill that would degrade our Montana quality of life.

Gary Matson


Socialism again, huh?

We have a job opening for the person best qualified to represent Montana in the hugely important position of U.S. Congressman. As such, the candidate must speak for all Americans, not just Montanans. The applicant must have insight into state and national issues as well as international. This election is of particular importance with our congressional seat essential to retaining Republican party advantage. Therefore our candidate's priority must be far above that of personal aspirations or financial gain. This is not simply a "popularity contest." We seek competency, knowledge, values and dedication for the huge responsibilities of this key office.

Montana's average wage is at the bottom. Rob Quist's ability to manage a business or money is lacking. We have major financial problems in Congress such as costly social issues with health care, education, the handicapped and elderly, crime and drug afflictions to name a few.

Greg Gianforte has a proven track record of being a highly successful businessman bringing modern technology, opportunity, wealth and jobs to Montana. His objectives are to further help people better their lives and increase economic security. He recognizes the need to change policies in Washington, D.C., especially those of rogue agencies overreaching their authority, bypassing Congress and inflicting intrusive rules and regulations. We need to restore our resource industries of timber, mining and energy, which were destroyed by unwarranted rules and restrictions. Our abundant water supply must be available for agriculture. It is the private sector with profitable production (not government) that provides for education, health care, roads and other services. It even finances our government, but over-dependency on that ultimately leads to socialistic Third World status. Greg Gianforte is applying for the job of making government more efficient and citizen-friendly. Let's hire Greg Gianforte, promoting him from successful businessman to U.S. Congressman, where he can help lead our country back to prosperity and security.

Clarice Ryan


Ignore the résumés

I urge all Montanans to remain politically involved. Are you happy with Trump's cabinet appointees? Do you want a new congressman who will support his agenda? Our land and water are so much cleaner than before the passage of the clean air and water acts and the creation of the EPA in 1970. Why would we want to return to smog-filled skies and toxic rivers? Family planning and legal abortion help decrease poverty, improve education and improve public health. Do we really want to vote for someone who wants to intrude in our personal lives and take away a couple's ability to decide how many children they have? If you voted for Trump, evaluate what he is doing and don't defend his actions merely because you previously voted for him. Do we want a congressman who will support Trump's tax reductions for the rich while the middle class struggles? Many recent letters are contrasting the resumes of our two candidates in the special election. I think it is more important to look at the candidate's values and what policies they will support or resist. That is why my vote will be for Rob Quist.

Susan Morgan


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 3:20 PM

We love you too

I loved you. I never loved or trusted Lee Enterprises. My heart goes out to all you workers, but as a brand, put a fork in it. It's done. Everyone but your officers that made this decision should start another (truly) independent publication with the original intent.

Hoyt Smith

posted at

Maybe we will...

Sellout to Lee Enterprises. The Independent should change its name to The Missoulian: Lifestyle edition.

David M. Holder

posted at

Voice of experience

I was an editor with the Flathead newspapers—including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Hungry Horse News—when Lee bought us in 1999. We were lied to from start to finish as they cut staff, damaged the products, shed readers, angered the communities and finally dumped the badly degraded newspapers to Hagadone. Don't believe a word you are told. And be aware that people might lose vacations—we all did.

Tom Lawrence

posted at

Keep Missoula weird

Ouch. That independent feeling must remain. I rely on you being against the curve and the norm, now more than ever. Best of luck on keeping that cool edge. Always thankful for your stories and viewpoint.

Robert Eckert

posted at

'When I was a boy...'

When you sell to a big company, even a well meaning one, you destroy the very reason people seek alternative and independent journalism. OK, so they stay separate for now. What about in 10 years when an even bigger company buys the Missoulian? You can't guarantee that level of independence, unless you retain control over it yourself. If you had done a vote by your readers, I have no doubt the answer would have been a resounding no to selling the paper. If the paper is for the public, they should have had a say. Disappointing. I've been bragging about this paper for years. I'm so tired of everything small getting absorbed into everything big. Whatever happened to the entrepreneurial spirit in this country? People used to see things through to the end and make sure it was kept in generations to come. We used to compete, not buy the competition all the time.

Curtis Medina

posted at

Beacon in the darkness

I worked for the Missoulian in the early '90s, around the time the Lee stooges bought the Messenger and killed it That is what they do: buy and kill. It is time for a new newspaper. Cancel your subscription to the Missoulian. Support the Flathead Beacon.

Bill Turner

posted on

Message received

I helped move the Indy into its original offices because Eric, the original editor, asked for a hand. The Indy is no longer precisely because it is no longer independent, and if you cannot get the message of that defacement, then you probably never saw the peace sign painted over again and again. Staff of the Indy, I'm sorry this has occurred, good luck, but edit your CVs.

Shawn Farrell

posted at

You're welcome

Thank you, Indy. Hearing from you is important ("So, about that sale...," April 23). Hope you don't ever have to "hand over the reins," as you say.

Kathleen Kimble

posted on

Credit where due

Finally! I have been waiting for someone to write an article about the injustices perpetrated on the water protectors, the Standing Rock Sioux and Wind River Cheyenne ("Standing Rock and the lessons of Andrew Jackson," March 23). Gundars Rudzitis did an excellent job. I would like to add my two cents' worth. There was no reason for the police presence. The ensuing events started with the pipeline bigwigs ordering their hired security forces to harass the Sioux and Cheyenne for their peaceful protest. It escalated from there when the Bismarck mayor and governor of North Dakota brought in police from neighboring states. Then came razor wire and barricades. Now the governor of North Dakota is crying about $30 million paid out to said police. He has nobody to blame but himself. All he had to do was leave them alone. The Native Americans who were arrested were treated very badly, thus, heaping more indignities upon them. Again, through no fault of their own. I am a proud member of the Blackfeet tribe. I thank all the people who stood with us against this fiasco.

Ken Haugen


Sign of the times

Sad that people have such little respect for private property. ("Indy sign (inevitably vandalized," April 17). In my experience, the Indy has a great staff with a lot of integrity. We don't always (or really ever) agree on issues, but if any news organization has leadership capable of pushing back against Lee's corporate machine, I think it's the Indy. Good luck!

Adam Hertz

posted at

Missing in inaction

People in my town are offended that Greg Gianforte's health-care op-ed, which we saw in the major Montana newspapers, supports preserving rural access without a single mention of how impossible it is to access health care in rural Montana. That is what happens when an engineer gets into your business without making effort to understand the problem. And why would he? After all, when has anyone seen this fella in Libby or Malta or Culbertson or Broadus or Darby or Dillon? Maybe Gianforte would have a deeper respect for how far away affordable health care is from rural Americans if he got out of the television studio and into his SUV to visit those little towns that don't have a pharmacy or a doctor, much less a hospital bed.

Jerry McDonald

Thompson Falls

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