Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 at 3:07 PM

He didn't vote

So City Councilman Jon Wilkins gets to vote on a no-bid $250,000 city contract with Missoula Correctional Services (MCS), which employs his wife as CEO at a $120,000 annual salary ("Personal conflict shadows city's jail diversion impasse," July 27). MCS a nonprofit? Certainly not for Wilkins' wife, whose salary eats up almost half the the cost of the contract. What is wrong with this picture? Are there no anti-nepotism laws at the local level? Or is everyone involved, including Judge Jenks, just ethically challenged? Vote them out!

Mark Taishoff


Grade on a curve?

They should all walk out. The budget increase is horrible. A big grade F to all of them.

Robert Dunlop

Easier said than done

They all need to get over their own egos, which is a huge problem in Missoula politics, and do what's right for the people of the city.

Mike McNamara

Oh good, banning...

Interesting article ("Are you ready for the Democratic Socialists of America?" Aug. 10). Truth is, the Democratic Socialists of America should be banned in this country. In other times it would have been deemed a treasonous organization.

Ed Kugler

In other news

There was also a cookout hosted by the IWW Missoula branch that around 40 people attended ("Wobbly like me?" Aug. 7). At 7 there was a dinner hosted by Amanda Curtis at the Carpenters Hall with a folk singer for entertainment. It was broadcasted by the radio station located in the same building. But yeah, it was just a bunch of old people hanging out at a cemetery. Maybe you should hire journalists who actually do better research, Missoula Independent. Another thing, that woman singing the extra verses to "Solidarity Forever"? That was Amanda Curtis. The writer of this article is attempting to be a journalist in Montana and can't even recognize well-known figures in state politics. The lack of professionalism displayed through the obvious failure of journalistic effort is astounding.

Tristan Hodgson

Clean the slate

God, let there be a way for us to get rid of every single regent we have now and just start over ("University regents retreat and self-assess after a leadership rift," Aug. 10). The UM system can afford no less.

Greg Strandberg

Daines' anatomy

Our only hope is for Bullock to run against Daines in 2020 ("Steve Daines takes the easy way out—again—on health care," July 27). Until then, it will be amazing if Daines does anything but give lip service to his constituents while voting for the interests of the wealthy. He is spineless, which explains how his head got where it is.

Bob Skogley

Meth on the brain

I asked Steve Daines about his responsibility in protecting thousands of Montanans who are on medical cannabis (since, you know, we voted in support of it twice now) when the confirmation for Jeff Sessions was being debated, and his staffers just rambled on about meth like that had anything to do with my question.

Jason Murrin

Follow the money

Follow the Citizens United money and you will find Daines at the trough with the rest of the greedy pigs.

Bob Dannic

Some show

He will vote for any bill that takes health care away from the less fortunate. Any discussion with constituents is for show.

Jay Sinnott

Tools of a feather

I keep trying to stifle it and chalk it up to a biased opinion, but I just can't help thinking that every white male Republican politician looks like a complete tool.

Holly Hjelmsted

Personality contest

The doldrums—yawn ("What stands between Steve Bullock and the presidency?" July 27). Come on Dems. The only Montanan who has the personality to win the presidency is former Gov. Schweitzer.

Miranda Avery

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Aug 9, 2017 at 1:42 PM

Cuts across the board

This is terrible ("Western Montana Mental Health Center braces for big cuts," Aug. 3). Many programs are facing cuts. I work for Opportunity Resources Inc. and our agency, along with the Developmental Disabilities Program, are facing cuts. Everyone needs to push back and push back hard. If people are not receiving services, many will end up homeless, in the ER, in jail. That all costs money.

Rebecca Loren Merfeld

Drumpf Tower? Really?

Disagreeing with the author of the article here ("Looking a TIF horse in the mouth: Is the MRA getting our money's worth at the Marriott?" July 20).

I see no real downside to the now-demolished Merc property ending up as a vacant lot. That $3.6 million of taxpayer money could do a lot of interesting things there. A park, a market, a community garden, a rentable/leasable venue, a food cart farm, etc. Missoula sure doesn't need another Drumpf Tower.

Jess Dafax

More fake news

So here you are again, Siebert! My god, with the Kaimin not staffed over the summer, I've been languishing without essays to write. But here is a little ray of sunshine in my otherwise less-than-typeful days.

Now first of all, Siebert, you should have linked to the video to which you are referring so your audience can see and hear for themselves what your account is referring to ("A reporter runs afoul of the Red Pill brigade," Aug. 3). This is supposed to be "news" after all.

Your argumentation sounds eerily similar to your colleague Derek Brouwer, claiming that you are not "inaccurate" while excusing your piece's grievous bias and clear manipulation as simply caused by word-limit. I've written plenty of letters to the editor constrained to 300 words, Siebert, and that is plenty of room to be balanced if you so wish. We both know that you are being deceptive to the wider audience, who believes "being accurate" means "being relevant and true to the overall picture."

"Fake News" is not the accusation merely that some unethical journalists make up falsehoods and call them facts. That can be part of it, but since that is easily provable and exposes their companies to libel suits it is generally cautioned against. No, Fake News refers to the deceptive practices: Gatekeeping, wherein you admit or omit factual details in a way that bolsters your overarching bias; Definition Play, where you use a specially defined word in journalism like "accuracy" that has a common connotation of "truth" to mislead readers into thinking your claim is something other than it is; Framing, where your report has an overarching narrative that denotes judgment on the subject ... The list goes on. These are all deceptive, manipulative practices designed not to inform readers but to guide them into your pre-constructed conclusion.

You call this "news"? Bullshit. You call the video a bunch of "conspiratorial musings," which I am sure carries no such context of dis-credibility in your journalistic definitions of "accurate," right? Save that kind of bias for the opinion sections. And yet lo and behold, what is this article labeled? And the last one? "News." This is Fake News, Siebert.

Garret Morrill

Phantom bikes?

Just read By the Numbers in the July 6 Independent. According to the City Bicycle Facilities Master Plan, Missoulians bike 19 million miles a year. Really? Let's do some simple math: 19 million divided by Missoula's population, 72,364, would mean every man, woman and child bikes 263 miles per year or 22 miles per month, actually more like 44 miles a month since the town isn't bikeable for half of the year.

In addition to that fantastical claim, the Bicycle Master Plan tells us more than 50 percent of Missoulians, or 36,182 people, have ridden a bike in the last 30 days.

So where are they hiding all the bikes—about one for every vehicle in town? There must be a huge parking lot somewhere filled with bikes as far as the eye can see, just not ours. What these numbers really add up to is a justification to narrow city streets and arterials to build yet more bike lanes, even in Linda Vista, where they want to give half the road to phantom bikes.

Does anyone ever question this stuff? Does the City Council own a calculator? The city does better when it deals in vague generalities than when it gets mixed up with numbers. It's like the fabled $400,000 that Mayor Engen projected for legal fees on the water acquisition battle. That, in fact, turned into $7.7 million.

As a general rule, it always becomes a problem when our city government starts dealing in millions. Five million dollars for the bike bridge over Reserve, a $3 million incentive for an outside corporation to build a new downtown hotel, $5 million for the "blighted" Southgate Mall to build an additional exit onto Reserve Street, and $30 million for the new library.

The millions spent annually by the city divide into uncomfortably large amounts for members of an ever-shrinking tax base. And then there are those smaller amounts which find their way into the annual budget, just two of which include more money for Missoula parks right after they spent the largest figure ever on Missoula Parks: $39 million for the soccer park and $3 million for other city parks, and a 5 percent annual increase for city salaries. Sounds reasonable until you find out the Social Security cost-of-living annual increase for many Missoula taxpayers last year was just .03 percent.

I have a suggestion: How about the Mayor and his crony City Council manage business and get out of social engineering? And how about they roll back the budget to pre-Engen times and use it to pay for the retrograde utopia they dream about and imagine for us?

Vicky Gordon


Friday, August 4, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Fri, Aug 4, 2017 at 10:16 AM

Fanning the flames
Irresponsible and uninformed reporting (“What Roaring Lion revealed about climate change and wildfire,” July 27). The statement, “but legal challenges prevented logging,” is false. The reporter either wanted to add some conflict to the story to add drama or swallowed some disinformation that is easily disprovable with some due diligence. The Forest supervisor has denied that the litigation caused delay of logging on several occasions. Even a correction [see below] at this point will not have the legs that this fake news will have. There is plenty drama built into this story without needing to feed the fire of controversy over timber sale litigation.

Larry Campbell

Late to the party
It would’ve been nice to see a little more balanced perspective in the cover story about the Roaring Lion fire. Plenty of scientists who are actually studying/researching wildfires would have taken exception to lots of what [Mark] Finney said. But the article requires a correction for stating: “The day the Roaring Lion fire started, the weather was exceptionally hot, with strong winds blowing down the canyon. The forest was dry. The Forest Service had proposed thinning the area, but legal challenges prevented logging, so the forest was dense with fuel.” This false statement [see below] was reported a bunch last summer as well, and all the media outlets, like Montana Public Radio, were forced to run a correction. The USFS said logging wasn’t set to begin until winter 2016 (after the July 2016 fire) and that it would take 5 to 10 years to complete. Matthew Koehler

Ha-ha comical?
The thought of Bullock aspiring to the White House is comical at best and at the least, absurd (“What stands between Steve Bullock and the presidency?”). He hasn’t expressed an original thought since he’s been in public life.

Ed Kugler

Centrist will not hold
No one running as a self-proclaimed centrist has a snowball’s chance in hell.

John Kevin Hunt

Small ambitions

When it’s all said and done and 2020 is over (and if a Dem is elected), all Bullock can really hope for is a cabinet-level position. To think otherwise is silly.

Greg Strandberg

It’s the Little things
Good article, but a few errors (“Remembering Frank Little 100 years after his murder,” July 27): “While the organization lived on, it never again reached its pre-war prominence.” The highest membership numbers of the IWW were in 1923, after the war and Palmer Raids. “Montana’s chapter limped along until last year, when a new generation of labor activists reorganized in the wake of the presidential election and resurgent white nationalism in the Flathead.” The current Missoula GMB was chartered in February 2016, before the election and the fizzled Nazi march on Whitefish. We were not organized in response to either. “Botkin says that, based on her research, Little’s ideology lined up best with libertarian socialism, an anti-authoritarian strain of Marxism.” Much of libertarian socialism developed separately from Marxism, and not as a tendency within it.

C.W. Copeland

Missoula IWW GMB branch delegate

Unintended expenses
On July 12, the Missoulian reported that four captains in the Missoula County Sheriff’s office were paid almost $180K in overtime during 2015-2017, twice as much as the office had budgeted. The office’s excuse for the overspending is: It was necessary to pay non-union captains extra, because they didn’t receive a pay raise at the same time as their unionized lieutenants and officers. So, the sheriff took this as an excuse to provide de-facto raises to just four employees to maintain a vague notion of wage “fairness” for already highly paid employees, bypassing any public process to do so. This action shows disregard for the public process, other employees in the law enforcement community and the taxpayer.

The Montana Public Employee Retirement System provides retirement benefits for most public employees in Montana, including law enforcement. Retirement benefits are calculated based on the number of years of service (law enforcement officials can retire with 50 percent benefits after 20 years, vs. 30 years for most public employees) and how much they were paid during their highest-earning three years as an employee. None of the reporting on this issue has touched on how much money the public (and other members of the retirement system) will have to pay over the next 20-30 years to cover increased retirement costs for these four captains.

Although I recognize the important role that sherriff’s captains play in attending to deaths, training officers and overseeing evidence, I believe this spending is irresponsible. If the office is understaffed, hire more officers! Train a lieutenant in coroner’s duties! I’m not sure what the labor issues are here, but it is unfair to other law enforcement officers, and the public, to spend this sum of money outside of the publicly adopted budget.

Chris Carlson


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Jul 26, 2017 at 1:06 PM

Warm regards

Incredible venue and everything was so well orchestrated ("First impressions of the new KettleHouse Amphitheater: It Rocks," July 20). Only negative was that the new Bonner Logger beer, sold in cans, was lukewarm, especially disappointing on a 95-degree evening. But overall, it was a unique and memorable concert experience. Can't wait for future visits.

Carol Van Valkenburg

Sound critique

I was only in attendance at Ween, but I feel like the sound could/should have been a lot better. I'm sure there are myriad details that need to be dialed in, and over time things should be approaching perfection, but I don't feel the sound was close on Sunday.

Other than that, I'm amazed and so happy that we have the KHAMP (is that a thing yet?) as a resource. Everyone I know who's been there has raved about the layout, the aesthetics, the sight lines, the comfort, etc.

I doubt the feeling that everything's perfect exists in any profession, and I hope they are working out the kinks to make the sound as dynamic as the rest of the atmosphere.

Dave Francis

Be prepared

Beautiful venue, pretty good layout, and the sound was on point. There was a pretty bad traffic bottleneck with one road in and out. I felt forced to leave early to avoid traffic since I had to drive from out of town. It's already tough driving from Polson for a show, but add the extra half-hour commute, and traffic.

I'll be thinking hard about the time investment from now on. Overall the lines were long and slow for entry and concessions as well. I'd like to think it could get better, but with the location, and most shows sold out, I think people will just have to plan for it.

Chawn DuBack

Bear necessities

A similar drive-through "bear park" existed in West Glacier ("In Idaho, a hunter finds a sad state of affairs for bears," July 20). It did not end well for the bears, the owner, or the neighbors. An ugly deal. When will people learn?

Jill Munson


When I lived in Idaho Falls I would drive by this place. They used to have a sign that said "Feel the Freedom"I hated everything about it. It's bad enough it was a tourist trap disguised as a zoo, but the animals would look very depressed.

John Taylor

Worth the wait

I thought the venue was great. Sound was great. Vibe, atmosphere, and overall experience were great. Honestly, I'll wait in a line (which didn't seem bad to me) and walk the extra 20 feet to a garbage can if it means this caliber of artist will be this accessible to me. Excited for Tedeschi Trucks Band!

Jordan Lane

Ennui 101

How depressing ("French professor Michel Valentin, a leader of la résistance, takes a buyout at UM," July 20). Part of me is embarrassed that I went to a school with such misguided priorities, and the rest is just grateful I finished before the liberal arts were completely gutted.

Autumn Goodman

Poor Corey

We all know he is singling out Missoula County because we are staunchly Democrat and proud of it ("Fake views: Corey Stapleton thinks something's fishy about Missoula elections. Something's fishy about Corey Stapleton," July 20). We have been a monkey-wrench in a complete Republican takeover of the state for a long time. The whiny buttercup Republicans can't stand that. As the second-largest city in the state, we swing elections. Bullock and Tester are good examples.

Mike McNamara

The other water protector

Thank you, Mayor Engen, for protecting our water! I have been meaning to thank you for a long time. It is prescient and strategically wise to buy our water system—at any cost. You are keeping Missoula's water for Missoula at a reasonable cost.

The worldwide trend is not avoidable in our country. In fact, California and Maine are prime examples of the corporate takeover of water. Water is already at crucial depletion in arid countries where corporations reap huge profits from bottled water. Bottling water is not a solution to drought, but that's another issue.

Nestle is buying water rights in many small communities, offering them money for 99-year leases. Poland Springs water in Maine is a subsidiary of Nestle, and Fryeburg, Maine, lost its water rights to Nestle. 630,000 gallons a day is trucked away to be bottled into plastic jugs for sale at stores. Or the example of Nestle bottling 36 million gallons of water in California while Californians had to limit their own use of water for home and agricultural use due to drought.

Water is in some places already a commodity. The writing is on the wall, and the large corporations pretending to be doing good for humanity know this, and they are making plans behind closed doors and devoid of democratic processes to purchase as many municipal water rights as possible.

Municipal water plans are for our community at large. I have heard over and over how great our aquifer is here. We are lucky. Nothing like an earthquake and record high temperatures in July to remind us how quickly things can change. Water changes have been going on quietly for decades, whether it is pollution into our water systems from chemicals, fracking, drugs poured down the toilet, or drought due to high temperatures and the global effects of loss of massive areas of forestation. Water may not always be abundant here where we live.

So many of us really thank you, Mayor Engen, for saying no to corporate water. Looks like somebody learned a lesson from Montana Power selling to Northwestern Energy!

Sarah Lane


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Jul 19, 2017 at 2:16 PM

Locker room talk

Priority #1, the Griz players comforts. As we say in Iowa: "pig shit" ("At UM, the future is in cherry wood lockers," July 13). The number of salaries and lower costs for all students that would have been affected by that amount of money is staggering. By the way, I don't care who paid for it, it is a slap in the face to those educators and staff laid off by budget issues.

Julie Morris Howard

Academic champions

Do any of you realize the family that donated $7 million of this has donated tens of millions of dollars to UM that went to academics? Ever heard of the Phyllis J. Washington College of Education & Human Services? Try educating yourselves a little. By the way, what have you done for UM lately?

Peter Aklestad


The rogue county commission hired Valerie Stamey for about $50,000 per year (plus health insurance!) and almost simultaneously shut down the valley's family planning clinic by refusing $50,000 in Title X funding ("The strange and continuing saga of former Ravalli County Treasurer Valerie Stamey," July 13). That was in September of 2013, and Stamey was a known far-right crony to the likes of extremist commissioners Burrows, Foss, Stoltz and their Republican Central Committee boss, Terry Nelson (who is still collecting $50,000/year plus health insurance as the county's unqualified "planning office manager," even after he's perpetrated such debacles on the county as the failed and costly Legacy subdivision). It was bad enough in September 2013 when these ideologues threw 400 low-income women under the bus in favor of an unqualified crony, and then it got worse. And worse, and worse. And these people are still in charge. Surprised about Trump being prez? Not in Ravalli County. By God.

Bill LaCroix

And more Trump?

Dan Brooks is a master at satire, given that he is able to ice this cake of uber-irony provided by not-fake news. It is Trumpian-scale projection that Stamey blames somebody else for making her look incompetent. To see the three-ring circus continue, tune in to the disciplinary hearing for serial frivolous-litigation lawyer Robert Myers at 3:30 p.m. July 20 at the Missoula downtown Holiday Inn. That could provide some less consequential comic relief from the presidential tweet fest.

Larry Campbell

The silent majority

In 1974, two years after Nixon won the White House in the biggest landslide in history, it was nearly impossible to find anyone who would admit having voted for him ("Lynsey G. has seen the good, the bad and the weird of pornography. Let's talk about it," July 13).

Similarly, with porn tying up a third of the internet's bandwidth and surveys showing that at least nine of 10 Americans watch porn, it is nonetheless difficult finding those who admit doing so.

John Kevin Hunt

Neighborhood watch

We live close to there now, and it definitely has gotten worse since we were kids ("Concerned neighbors press for change at the Hollywood Mobile Home Park," June 29). I talked to my mom about it. Used to just be a normal trailer court. The one next to it is bad too. There are always cops patrolling the area.

Rachel Michelle

The way we were

When I lived there almost 20 years ago it was a safe and clean place. Sad to see it now.

Sarah Elizabeth

The eye knows

I'm in the neighborhood daily, and my past profession allows me the gift of sight. It needs to go. It's a breeding ground for dangerous drug use and theft.

Cliff Stacy

Lawyered up

KEI failed to keep proper records and is trying to evict rent-paying residents ("Tracking a mobile home park's decades-long decline," July 13). This is not the first time either—it happens every six months or so.

I've lived here for almost 10 years, had very few minor issues throughout the years until KEI bought it and claimed we aren't paying rent. They are difficult to contact, impossible to meet, and have now gotten their lawyer to run their business.

They claimed that we have not been paying rent for three years. Yes, three years. And owe them $6,600. Now we have to prove otherwise.

Chris Skinner

Keep trailers cheap

Sad thing is they will probably evict everyone and [build] fancy condos. It would be a nice change to see the owners do what is right and clean it up. Missoula needs affordable housing, not more rich getting rich.

Kristina Wasson

The canoe view

Thank you. Your description of the Arctic Refuge and why Americans need to keep these spaces wild and free was wonderful ("Zinke's Interior agenda isn't good for vets or land," July 13). Thank you for your service!

Patricia Kouris

Who you calling 'rag'?

Admittedly well after the fact, I only learn today from an April 2017 article in the Lee Enterprises-owned Missoulian that even this rag, the Independent (ha!) is now being published under the corporate media omniscience of freaking Lee Enterprises. Given the direction that any number of issues specific to Montana are heading, as well as with respect to the history of corporate monopolization of public-interest affairs here, I would ask that your readers take this gross mischaracterization seriously, as personified by the actual title of your paper. Again, "Independent." Ha!

Fine time for a legitimately autonomous—as in independent—journalist to take this issue into the popular press realm. You folks should be ashamed.

PJ Reed

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Jul 12, 2017 at 1:59 PM

Write the other thing!

Why don't you try covering the rampant, known corruption and injustices carried out every day by the so called "justice" system in this state, from "police" to judges, prosecutors and "LP officers." ("For a columnist and a president, it's the 'Best Of' times," July 6). The number of horror stories is more far-reaching and life-changing than some dumb old voting scandal.

Philip Weiser

Save the granny

MRA would declare your grandmother blighted if it meant they could shovel more money at developers ("Merc/Marriott developer asks for and receives a helping tax hand," July 6).

Brian O'Leary

Notta lotta blight left

Blight (noun): accessible and affordable to anyone not making six figures.

Charles Copeland

Pick your poison

Corruption. Not only do we have a $3 billion bank signing off on this TIF money after they got $1.5 million in TIF money themselves three months ago, but we also have these new developers getting $3 million ... and for what? So they don't feel "stressed"?

The city is $250 million in debt, our taxes have gone up 95 percent over the past 12 years, and there's no end in sight.

Incompetence or corruption ... take your pick. Both are equally bad for your family.

Greg Strandberg

Cuts could hurt

The House and Senate bills repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act include deep cuts to the federal-state Medicaid program. These cuts jeopardize critical care for older adults and affect their caregivers. If the Senate adopts these changes, it could have devastating consequences for older adults and families.

People think of Medicaid as a safety-net health care program that only serves low-income children, mothers, and working adults. For older adults and their caregivers, Medicaid is the country's only guaranteed provider of the critical long-term care services that most of us will need as we age. Nearly two thirds of the long-term care provided in nursing homes is paid for by Medicaid.

For over 30 years, states have moved toward providing "waiver" services that allow Medicaid-eligible older adults to get the care they need in their homes instead of in institutions. Several Medicaid programs have successfully moved tens of thousands of people from institutions back into their homes, offering consumers more independence while saving taxpayer dollars.

Unfortunately, the House and Senate bills would slash long-term Medicaid funding by $834 billion over 10 years, by capping the federal government's share and pushing these costs onto states. Older adults could lose the amount of in-home care they receive or be required to pay for services, despite being poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. Families seeking care for a loved one will encounter long wait lists for services, and cuts to provider rates will harm the long-term-care workforce.

We encourage senators Daines and Tester to reject the House and Senate bills' cuts to Medicaid and start over in a bipartisan, collaborative process to address the real health care challenges we face. You can help by contacting Daines and Tester and telling them to reject any Medicaid cuts that will be devastating to Montana's older adults and families.

Lawrence L. White, Jr.

Missoula Aging Services Governing Board Chair


Picture worth words

It isn't so much this article that bothers me, but the stupid little picture supporting it ("Choteau is the latest Montana town to consider a municipal ban on marijuana dispensaries," July 6). Calling a populace "uninformed" is the exact same bullshit I hear from bubble-minded kiddos on the college campus, lamenting with great and pity-laced sighs, "Ohhhh, those poor, poor people who disagree with me. If only they were more educated, like me!"

That dismissive "better-than-thou" attitude bothers me. There are good reasons not to allow marijuana into your city, namely to avoid many of the behaviors and individuals it attracts. There are medical applications of marijuana, sure, but let's cut the bullshit—medical marijuana is simply a foot in the door for recreational marijuana. Everyone knows where it is going on both sides and all this disingenuous "Dooohhh, they just want to hurt old people" rhetoric is just a bait and switch. Real cases for treatment do exist, but there are far more cases of teens and young adults treating their bad backs and glaucoma with a few ounces of weed every week. Some people don't want that, and so oppose the establishment of dispensaries.

Trying to frame the town as ignorant just because they oppose "helping those poor old folks" is the kind of disdainful insult that comes only from an elitist attitude. Those who oppose legal marijuana are not morons or rednecks just because they lack your attitude and perspective. If an article fully and honestly explores the merits of marijuana legalization, give your opposition some credit and let them form and voice their own arguments in turn. They do exist, and many of them are as well thought-out, if not more thoughtful, than those presented by the "educated."

Garret Morrill

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Jul 5, 2017 at 4:00 PM

Point, pickleballer

As one of the many "old guys and gals" who have embraced pickleball, gosh, I am so sorry the "old tennis guys" were politely asked to move to another court ("A pickleball rebellion at Playfair Park," June 15). Goodness, there are only eight other courts available to tennis players at all times. And those courts are generally sparsely populated.

The Zootown Pickleball community is one of the most welcoming groups in town. Parks and Rec teaches lessons twice each week at no charge. It is a sport particularly popular with the senior group for the "open play" concept of everyone welcome. We even have purchased quiet balls to reduce the noise level.

Nearly every time we are on the pickleball courts, we apologize politely, sometimes even beg to ask the tennis folks if they could go to another court since we only have the four tennis courts that are lined for pickleball. Courts were built for us all to enjoy and share. Times are changing and sports are changing.

As far as noise, these "old tennis players" object to the lovely joyful sounds of fun coming from our courts. Do they object to the joyful sounds of children playing at Splash Montana?

As I tell anyone who will listen: Who would have thought at age 65 I would learn a new sport and meet so many wonderful people who have become true friends.

Ruth Havican

USA Pickleball

Association Ambassador


The bathroom agenda

This group is attempting to impose its agenda in Montana in many ways ("The Montana Family Foundation wants to see your kid's bathroom pass. You should wonder why," June 29). Many of our elected representatives, including Daines, Gianforte, Fox, Arntzen and many state legislators, were backed by them. The criteria they use to decide to back a candidate are incredibly narrow and bigoted. Not only are they anti-LGBT, they also advocate for charter schools because they want the taxpayers to pay for their children's private Christian school education. They have a right to their religious beliefs, but I don't want them to impose them on me and my children.

Traci Rasmusson

Not 'ha-ha' funny

I just want to know how they plan to enforce this rule? Are they going to install fingerprint scanners in front of every bathroom in Montana? This just seems like a waste of time to me. It's funny, with all the talk of passing bills like this around the country, you would think we would see more articles regarding people being assaulted in restrooms...

Denzel Allen

Wolf reward

Thank you for mentioning the reward fund that my organization, National Wolfwatcher Coalition, contributed to ("One wolf's journey from survivor to star, and what her death says about our appetite for the wild," June 29). Let's hope the reward is large enough to get someone to come forward with information. Poachers, the "shoot, shovel and shut up" kinds, need to be caught and punished. They are taking from all of us. Thanks for keeping this in the news reminding people of the reward fund.

Candy Copeland

At what price?

I would title the story "At What Price?" ("City cuts a check, takes ownership of Missoula's water system," June 22). The mayor was either an idiot or pretended to be an idiot (when it comes to his cost prediction). Missoula is famous for being so expensive by Montana standards that most take for granted that when their children become adults they will need to move some place they can afford, with a job that pays enough to live well. It starts with a premise that Missoula has to grow. Add all the other costs piled onto the water company takeover. Seems pretty crazy for a city of our size to be obligated to so much debt, and mostly getting money from property taxes.

Glen Bumgardner

No excuses

Save our trailer courts! ("Concerned neighbors press for change at the Hollywood Mobile Home Park," June 29.) They were our affordable housing before government decided to put everyone in HUD apartments. Don't let them use this as an excuse to raze the place.

Carol Minjares

Moved on up

We lived a block from there about 10 years ago. I lost count of how many times our cars were broken into at night. The apartment complex had this nice laundry area with coin-op machines. One day we got in there and the change machine had been pried off the wall. The TV in there was stolen twice. It was a crappy area to live, for sure.

William C. Riley

Protect the water

Here in Montana, summertime always reminds us why we care about clean water. Thanks to the Clean Water Act, many of the places we go swimming, fishing or paddling—like the Clark Fork river—are now cleaner.

That's why I was so appalled to learn that the EPA is proposing to repeal key protections for Montana's waterways. Finalized in 2015 with widespread public and scientific support, the Clean Water Rule restored federal protections to 63 percent of Montana's streams, which feed waterways like the Clark Fork and help provide drinking water to 234,219 Montanans. The rule also protects wetlands, which help filter out pollutants and provide wildlife habitat.

More than 800,000 Americans—including doctors and nurses, businesses, mayors, farmers and local organization—surged the EPA to adopt the Clean Water Rule. Yet the new EPA is now proposing to dismantle it.

Repealing this rule turns the mission of the EPA on its head: Instead of protecting our rivers, lakes, and streams, the Trump administration would leave them open to pollution. It defies common sense, sound science and the will of the people of Montana. EPA should reconsider this reckless repeal and stand up for Montana's waterways.

Skye Borden

Director, Environment Montana


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Jun 28, 2017 at 3:29 PM

Set the music free

Much thanks to Paul Simon for kicking off the official start of summer with a quintessential Missoula concert! A perfect night indeed, except for the folks that were removed from the rail tracks and hills enjoying the concert from outside the fences—a common practice at most Osprey Field events. I think I can state for most Missoulians that we as a community do not mind paying over $50 for tickets, which can then provide free music to other members of our community, to help offset steep ticket prices. Shame on the security guards and/or police to deprive members of our community from enjoying some of the wonderful music that comes to our beautiful home. But back to Paul: Thank you, good sir!

Chris Henderson


Bear necessities

I heard the Trump boys were wanting a couple of griz heads for their walls ("Zinke announces final delisting rule for Yellowstone grizzlies," June 22). Nice of Zinke to arrange for them to be delisted so Donald Junior and his brother Eric can now go kill a couple and maybe a spare, just in case Barron wants one, too. It's so hard to find something to give guys that have everything. Good job, Zinke! Remember to get one for yourself so you can brag at the next Boone and Crockett Club meeting.

Mari von Hoffmann


The great divide

I'm a "liberal," and like many liberals in Montana I am for the right to bear arms and protect yourself ("Shooting back is just as violent as shooting first," June 22). It is the same neoliberal regime that runs both parties at the top that pushes the divide amid the populace with false control, racism (historical classist division struggle), etc. When people fail to see beyond that and label each other, they have nothing to blame but their own nihilistic greed, apathy, and idiotic grade-school intelligence, with consistent name calling to blame.

Naomi Odermann

Griz bait

Dang, that's probably the dumbest thing I've ever heard! ("Shooting back is just as violent as shooting first," June 22.) You'd probably just lie down and let a grizzly or mountain lion eat you.

Richard Brodwy

Guns not needed

I think an important point is the difference between in-town among humans and the backcountry, where the predator animals are ("Shooting back is just as violent as shooting first," June 22.) Human animals are advantaged with pre-frontal lobes and opposable thumbs, the places in our brains and hands where we are capable of a kind of creativity that other animals don't have. If you go into the backcountry, it's dumb not to have a gun, and there are certain types of guns that make good sense out there (clue: not AK-47s). It is in fact the height of stupidity to have a lot of undisciplined blowhards walking around town with pistols feeling like the Big Sheriff. Much cooler, much better living environment for everyone and everything when people are most interested in getting together and being creative with our planetary problems. There's plenty to do. Figuring out how not to waste beautiful children to accidental gun deaths, making it very difficult for criminals to get guns, choosing and training cops who don't shit their pants and shoot every black person they see, building a human economy where no one is so desperately poor that crime is attractive for "survival." I mean, there's plenty to get done, and sitting back saying, "Impossible—humans will never do that" is literally the only thing in the way of it actually happening. We don't "need" guns. We choose guns because we are lazy and afraid.

Nancy Dunne

Eyes wide open

You stepped up to bring the matter to their attention ("At the Sunrise Saloon, a painting sparks debate," June 22.) It's up to them now. So many of us are blind to the images with which we are bombarded every day. Thank you for being mindful and aware—a lesson for us all.

Wendy L. Cohan

No gun left behind

Robbie [Liben] would be a lot more credible in his piece if he stated that when he hears the noise of someone breaking into his home at 3 in the morning he will demand of the 9-1-1 operator that the police leave their guns at the station house before they come to investigate.

Jack Burton

Cause for concern?

[Yolanda] Garcia "has been a Sunrise Saloon patron for years" as the article states ("At the Sunrise Saloon, a painting sparks debate," June 22). She never encountered racism from the staff, owners or its patrons during all that time. She didn't even notice the painting in question until it was pointed out to her. Yet she and affiliates now claim that the establishment, employees and patrons are suddenly racist and violent. I believe this is just a child crying for attention and creating a problem when there wasn't one.

The organization boasted how it "strategically chose a night when a band would be playing" to host their protest. Yet they renamed their protest as a celebration of diversity and moved the location of the event away from the Sunrise Saloon. They claim one reason for this is that they feared violent confrontations and had received threats. The truth is that the cause is not highly supported. Instead, the community has chosen to support the establishment and recognize it for what it contributes to the community: paying jobs for staff, bands, entertainment companies, fundraising and a friendly place to gather. If, in fact, threats were actually made against Garcia or her affiliates, they certainly do not represent the nature of this community, this establishment or its supporters. I would suggest reporting threats to the police and refrain from slandering businesses and their customers.

Lastly, I would warn that protesting just for the sake of attention is irresponsible. It dilutes the effort to bring attention to larger-scale concerns. A more worthy cause would be to advocate fair wages for minorities and women. This is a cause that could improve lives, as opposed to removing a painting because it made someone sad.

Frances Fitzgerald

The next whiskey bar

I don't think I want to drink with people that are OK with a painting of a lynching on the wall ("At the Sunrise Saloon, a painting sparks debate," June 22.) Plenty of other bars in town pouring the same drinks.

Chauncey Means

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
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