Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 1:32 PM


I was excited to see a fresh face on the ballot this year. I read this at lunch yesterday to learn more about this candidate's agenda ("Meet Lisa Triepke, the candidate who wants to unseat John Engen," Oct. 12). I was completely underwhelmed. I didn't find anything she said in the interview to be exciting or even of much substance. Disappointed. Plenty of complaints about current administration and policies but no semblance of any sort of clear goals or new ideas. Not sure why everyone thinks this lady would make a great mayor. Maybe because her last name is not Engen? Does not seem to me that Triepke has the capacity or the experience/knowledge for the job. Please don't let my comments influence your opinion as that is not my aim. Read this and decide for yourself!

Charlie Buchman

... and disturbed...

I find it disturbing that [Triepke] wasn't able to understand the reporter's questions about the issue of homelessness, poverty, the sluggish wages and high rents in this town. I also find it troubling she wouldn't give specifics on infrastructure and partnerships. Hmmm.

Rebecca Loren Merfeld

... and pained

Reading this article (mainly Triepke's quotes) was painful and exhausting. It was kind of like re-living a Trump debate. Hollow, uninformed, confusing, scattered, full of mistruths and broad-stroke garbage. I am glad somebody is challenging the mayor. It is good for democracy. But she seems wildly unqualified. My advice would be for her to go back to serving wings at Desperado and calling people "fucking liars" in school board meetings.

Adam York

Free to disagree

Missoulians have rarely disagreed more in recent years. But to say "I disagree, you're wrong, you should leave town" are the words that define our individuality today. The freedom to vent online without identifying ourselves in most cases, makes our democracy weak, especially when led by leaders of our local and state governments who should know better. As I stated in my earlier letter to the editor [in the Missoulian], you go off script in Missoula, you open yourself up to bullying, threats to your health and your business. Intelligent disagreement is the lifeblood of any thriving society. Yet we in Missoula are raising a generation who has never been taught either the hows or the whys of civil disagreement, and who seem to think that free speech is a one-way right. Namely, their right to shout down or abuse anyone they dislike due to their opinions, whether they are led by a government leader or not. Very disappointing for a city like Missoula that prides itself on being an educated and progressive community. Free speech must ultimately be free, whether or not it's fair or exactly what you want to hear coming from someone with a different idea than yours. Every idea is really just a disagreement with some other idea. I was raised in the time of sticks and stones could break my bones but words would never hurt me. And they don't. I know who I am, I know my strengths and weaknesses, and I'm old enough to care less what people say or think about me. But others might not feel as secure as I do, and it would be a shame to lose out on sharing or hearing out their ideas because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing and being attacked. Despite the attacks of late, I'm still supporting Lisa Triepke for the mayor of Missoula and I encourage you to do the same. It's time for new ideas and transparency in the way our city government is run.

Wes Spiker

Spiker Communications


Two Missoulas

There's all types of multi-family units and two utilitarian houses where one used to be—which look a lot like the new Bonner Park house—going up in Ward 6, and no one bats an eye ("City council considers a zoning change for the University District," Oct. 12). Soon as this single-family house gets built, the town freaks out and takes up arms against it. [It's] just confirmation that there's two Missoulas: the Missoula with money, which can afford to write the rules, and the rest of us, who have little choice but to live within their rules.

Jubal Watson

Re-elect Jenks

I have known Kathleen Jenks in excess of 20 years and have observed her work ethic in everything she participates in, and her experience in Municipal Court is no exception. She works with the Missoula City Court Clerk and her colleague on the Municipal Court Bench to bring an efficiency rating that is unsurpassed in the history of the city of Missoula.

Judge Jenks does this with a sense of compassion and understanding of the parties that come before her. She knows that perhaps the only experience that a citizen will have with our court system is before a court of limited jurisdiction, and she attempts to make it an understandable and memorable experience. One will not have to suffer again in the future because of the lesson learned in front of her. She dispenses justice without "an axe to grind" in an efficient manner.

I wholeheartedly endorse Kathleen Jenks in her quest for re-election and encourage the citizen of Missoula to do the same.

Ed McLean

District Court Judge (retired)


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 3:44 PM

Fair turnabout?

I don't agree with private travel being used ("Expense-ive error: Would Ryan Zinke make the same mistake twice?," Oct. 5), but that being said, why didn't the liberals cry foul when the Democrats were doing it in excess under Obama time and time again? Examples: Nancy Pelosi spending hundreds of thousands on private air travel instead of commercial, or Michelle Obama and her girls costing the taxpayers tens of millions for their private vacations. I realize Michelle couldn't travel commercial, but her excess in expensive vacations paid for by taxpayers was mind blowing. [This is] more one-sided reporting and outrage.

Jay Banks

It's up in the air

The first paragraph gives a major clue as to the motives at work here: Taxpayers footed the bill for Zinke to fly on a private jet co-owned, through a holding company, by Jay Nielson, who is an executive vice-president of the oil and gas exploration firm Nielson & Associates. Follow the money.

Kesa Hopkins

Shady grove

Why shouldn't he do that? He is allowed to get away with it and only rise higher in politics. Seems to fit in the current presidential administration well. All of them seem shady.

JoAnn Collins

Specialty studies

One of the problems in Montana is that it has more institutions of higher learning than the state's population can support ("UM releases fall enrollment numbers showing another overall drop," Sept. 27). Drawing students from out of state is a solution, but the question is, how does a degree from UM offer an edge in the job market after graduation? What special expertise can one come away with that sets this institution apart from other, more progressive [institutions]? Could be specialization in studies that support natural resources: forestry, wildlife protections, clean water, maintenance of the national parks like Yellowstone and Glacier.

Jerry Hopkins

Such a waste

Our U.S. Congress is out to give the oil and gas industry a pass, all on the taxpayer's dime. Earlier this year, the U.S. House attached a pro-waste amendment onto a must-pass bill. Our congressmen are currently attempting to skirt the rules that would require the oil and gas industry to take responsibility for what they owe the American people. The rule they are trying to cheat is called the BLM Methane and Waste Prevention rule.

The Methane and Waste Prevention rule finalized last November required energy companies to capture methane from flaring, venting and gas leaks when they drill on public lands. Right now, the industry wastes an estimated $300 million worth of taxpayer-owned natural gas per year. By limiting waste, the BLM rule boosts revenue for the American people. That revenue is money much needed by our local economies.

The waste prevention rule also protects our health. Methane pollution is a direct health threat. Many of the co-pollutants that leak alongside methane have been shown to cause cancer. We need common sense clean-air rules and common sense resource use.

Tell our Montana representatives that cheating this rule is not in the interest of their constituents. It is only in the interest of the oil and gas industry.

Cindy Webber

Big Timber

Rare John

Mayor John Engen is a rare kind of public servant. He has a vision for the future of our city, but he's not opposed to working with others that have different opinions. He strives for consensus when possible, but he's also not afraid to move forward and address the real problems facing our community.

John showed real courage and skill in negotiating the successful purchase of our local water supply, putting our most precious resource back in the hands of our citizens, instead of a private company. Prior to his actions, Missoula was the only city in the entire state that did not own its water.

John showed real leadership in making the investments in our infrastructure. Sure, it's a pain driving downtown right now, but that inconvenience is temporary, and the growth and benefit to the city will be long-term.

John always listens carefully and respectfully to members of the public, and I have never seen him cut a person off who is giving public comment. Even when the comment in question is offensive in nature or just factually wrong, he always lets people speak their mind.

Engen's style of leadership is rare in our current political climate, when liberals and conservatives increasingly see each other as combatants, and the middle ground is constantly shrinking. I don't always agree with him on every policy issue, but Engen is exactly the kind of leader that we need and deserve, and he deserves our vote in November.

Denver Henderson


Why McQuillan?

These are the reasons Brendan McQuillan needs to be our new Municipal Court Judge:

The incumbent, Kathleen Jenks is keeping people in jail for being poor, addicts, or because of mental health issues. She has created a court that sets up poor people to fail.

Clients have to show up too many times before a case is resolved. This makes it nearly impossible for someone with a job to have a jury trial.

Jenks issues warrants when clients miss a court appearance because they are incarcerated or in treatment. This results in their license being suspended.

She sets a bond on nonviolent and traffic misdemeanor offenses to prevent defendants from being transferred on their felony warrants. This results in us paying for people to be held in Missoula rather than letting them go to prison, an out-of-county jail, or treatment.

Brendan McQuillan is principled, compassionate and ready to serve.

Sue Orr


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Oct 4, 2017 at 3:32 PM

No confidence

Lisa Triepke and I served together on our local school board for many years. During that time I have been a friend and supporter of hers, and I have been the target of her anger and hostility. These are some of my observations during the years that we served together:

Mrs. Triepke did not understand the important line that separates the role of the administrators that run a school and the proper role of a school's Board of Trustees. As a result she frequently came across as critical, unsupportive and someone who tried to micromanage others.

When Mrs. Triepke was critical of work performed by other trustees, administration or staff, she often spoke about the lack of transparency in things that she did not fully understand, yet rarely could she suggest constructive ways of improvement.

I witnessed multiple meetings where Mrs. Triepke became so angry that she left before the meeting was concluded, and at one of the meetings she issued an inappropriate expletive at a person when she left.

Mrs. Triepke did not take responsibility for her actions. When she made procedural mistakes, errors or made accusations that were incorrect, she moved on and pretended they never happened.

During board meetings, I observed other behaviors of Mrs. Triepke that were discourteous and unprofessional, especially when she came to a meeting seemingly unprepared. For example, rather than notify the school administration prior to a meeting that she had specific concerns about a topic, she would ask questions whose answers required research and/or were very complicated. It seemed to me like they were "gotcha" moments rather than productive critique. These uncomfortable and unproductive episodes could have been easily mitigated with a little forethought, understanding of process and respect for her peers.

I have been a longtime supporter of strong women in our community, in politics, the workplace and especially in the field of education. Having the right person in the right position is important in any organization, and I feel it is necessary for everyone to step up and do their best to contribute to the community in which we live.

As someone who has worked with Lisa Triepke for many years, I have observed her temper, lack of leadership skills, poor decision-making ability, even cronyism. These are some very basic requirements we expect from our civic leaders. While she did have moments of quiet listening and insightful questions during her tenure as a school board member, Mrs. Triepke is certainly not qualified to run an organization of any size, much less a great place like Missoula.

Robert Carter


Friendly advice

I have had wonderful positive encounters with employees at UM ("UM releases fall enrollment numbers showing another overall drop," Sept. 27). As a parent of a sophomore who is thriving both socially and academically, I applaud UM! It is an accepting community of helpful people.

However, I'm from California. You need to get out and advertise, recruit, sell your high points! We from California will come. The Western Undergraduate Exchange scholarship makes attendance affordable. Enrollment will climb, without a doubt.

Patricia Gallagher Guidetti

Unwilding America

The Bob Marshall, Scapegoat, Selway-Bitterroot, Absaroka-Beartooth and our other protected wildernesses are sacred to Montanans of all stripes.

Except, apparently, Congressmen Greg Gianforte, who just voted to effectively repeal the Wilderness Act.

This stealth attack on the Wilderness Act comes in the form of H.R. 3668, the Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina. It would affect every wilderness in the nation, including all of Montana's wilderness gems.

The SHARE Act would turn the Wilderness Act on its head, allowing endless habitat manipulation and modification, including logging, chaining, herbicide spraying and myriad other offenses under the guise of "wildlife conservation," or for providing hunting, fishing and recreational shooting experiences.

The SHARE Act would also allow the construction of "temporary" roads, dams and other structures in Wilderness, again under the guise of benefiting hunting, angling, recreational shooting, or wildlife conservation. And all such projects would be exempt from any environmental review or public scrutiny under the National Environmental Policy Act—in essence making Wildernesses some of the least-protected of all public lands.

The bill is being pushed at the behest of the Safari Club International and a few like-minded groups that are upset that Wildernesses around the country aren't managed like game farms—an approach Montanans roundly rejected at the ballot box not long ago. Not satisfied with the rich diversity of life our wildernesses hold, or with the special experiences that wilderness provides, these groups want wilderness managed solely to benefit their idea of hunting and to favor the species they want to shoot. Even if it means building a road or a dam, clearcutting a forest, or wiping out native predators to meet their hunting or angling goals.

Montanans who love our wildest, best places and don't want them degraded for a selfish few should contact Rep. Gianforte and urge him to remove the wilderness-gutting provisions from the SHARE Act before it's too late.

George Nickas

Conservation Director

Wilderness Watch


Racism redux

The reason racism was (sort of) forced under a slimy rock for the past 40 or 50 years was because educated, compassionate, liberal people actually stood up and said, "Enough!" ("Racism hasn't gone anywhere. It's everywhere," Sept. 28.) Somewhere we let the other side get their voice back. The side that glories in ignorance and disdains education.

A very sad and frightening time for our country.

Louise McMillin

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Sep 27, 2017 at 2:57 PM

Bum steer

Having this asshat in her wheelhouse is not going to get her my vote ("Lisa Triepke campaign surrogate Wes Spiker goes off script," Sept. 21). Not by a long shot.

Kelly Shank

Lost in translation

"No, no, oh God, no. I'm not getting paid." Translation: "Yes, Yes, Oh God yes, I'm getting paid."

Julie Madsen

Speaking for the tribe

The removal of Montana's Confederate monument is nothing more than political opportunism ("The real history lesson behind Helena's Confederate monument," Sept. 21). For the tribe or anyone else to claim offense to this monument is total nonsense. It's opportunism, victimology at its finest. And the City Council violated all consideration of, as they say today, transparency. What do you tell your kids about things you have to do under cover of darkness? They should be ashamed. Quit rewriting history, Montana!

Ed Kugler


The city is to be commended. The perfect opportunity to erect a monument which recognizes racism and promotes equality.

Jay Sinnott


After reading some of the comments in the Independent a week ago, I am prompted to write that Dan Brooks does not deserve the kind of negative threats that were printed. Brooks is my absolute favorite reporter in Missoula. His columns are always informative, sometimes humorous, and virtually always right on target. Keep it up, Dan, the political scene needs your analysis.

L. Jack Lyon


Defending Engstrom

While I agree with much of what you have written regarding the administration's approach to lecturers and budget cuts, I think it would have been better to avoid the cheap and ill-informed shot at Dr. Engstrom ("Cutting teachers for dummies: How to maximize pain and minimize profit at UM," Sept. 21). He is actually teaching two courses this semester, and will teach more next semester. The course in chemistry is 4 credits, has an enrollment of 50+ students, and includes 3 additional contact hours per week in recitations (meaning that contact hours are equivalent to two 3-credit lecture courses). Dr. Engstrom is teaching this course for the first time and putting a great deal of effort into developing it such that it will give students a greater chance of success in introductory science courses and advanced courses in science. So he is helping UM to address real challenges.

Christopher Palmer

Rebrand thyself

With academics—the essence of any university—no longer its priority, perhaps the institution should rebrand itself as Administration and Sportsball of Montana.

Rebecca Schmitz

You listening, Engen?

I wonder if Montana has more institutions of higher education than the population of the state requires. What I see is the success of a football team that is kind of keeping academia afloat. How would the city of Missoula manage if it lost UM, which is on the brink of financial disaster. Shouldn't city fathers step in and lend a helping hand?

Jerry Hopkins


I've been saying exactly this for years. Robert Stubblefield, for one example, is one of the hardest-working people on campus. I've heard professors complain when they are forced to teach two courses per semester. It appears that LEAN principles should be implemented on campus to determine what is actually going on here. The university system in this state is inefficiently managed. The regents look down from their ivory towers and have no foothold in reality.

Janis Terwilliger Schmier

The Zinke formula

They build their houses made of cards, lies, alternative realities and the silliness will never stop with today's career-, fame- and fortune-driven Republican politicians ("Zinke gets Interior staff into the '#sportsmen' spirit," Sept. 21). They use a similar formula for "success" as pop country. Play the fools for fools.

Joe Bear

Seeking judgment

Missoula voters have an opportunity to elect a new municipal court judge this November. Brendan McQuillan will promote justice, create a culture of safety, and treat all who appear before him with dignity and respect in a court that processes more than 18,000 charges each year. He embraces bipartisan-supported criminal justice reform implemented by our Legislature. McQuillan's Missoula roots, coupled with his experience as a prosecutor, defense attorney and legal director of the Montana Innocence Project, have instilled commitments to compassion, equity and restorative justice.

McQuillan will apply the law in a safe, equitable, and fiscally responsible manner which will benefit both individuals and our community. For example, he will work to interrupt the cycle of poverty that incarceration—at taxpayers' expense—of people that cannot afford unpaid traffic fines perpetuates. Allowing these nonviolent offenders to complete community service to offset fines, rather than removing them from families and jobs during a jail sentence, is both humane and economically prudent. As states, "The people of Missoula need a judge who will be tough on crime and gentle on people."

Please join me Nov. 7 in voting for Brendan McQuillan for municipal court judge.

Karen Buley


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Sep 20, 2017 at 2:06 PM

Another take

In last week's review of Mother! ("Mother! only masquerades as feminism," Sept. 13), MaryAnn Johanson begins: "I cannot recall the last time a film made me as angry as Darren Aronofsky's Mother! has." I can relate to that, because never before has a film review made me so mad!

Johanson's complaints are as follows. 1) The characters are one-dimensional. 2) The story is misogynistic. 3) The film makes no sense. 4) The director is bad at making movies and/or hates women? (This one is purely my conjecture, based on the otherwise unsupported, ad hominem claim that "Aronofsky's head wended further and further up his own cinematic ass..."

It's true that Mother! isn't easily pinned down. Read 50 reviews and you will find 50 interpretations. Instead of pat lessons, Aronofsky has given us the messy unfolding of an archetypal woman's psychological nightmare. To unlock its secrets demands repeated viewing. Is Mother's subservient relationship to her older, poet husband a critique of traditional gender roles? A cautionary comment on the sin of co-dependency? Does the blood seeping from the floorboards constitute a Lady MacBeth-esque breakdown or a literal event? Perhaps it's a biblical allegory, but careful with that: If anybody's giving away their rib in this picture, it's Eve. Not understanding a film does not mean the film has no meaning.

I think Johanson incorrectly assumes that Aronofsky believes he's making a feminist movie. I see Mother! as apolitical, if anything. The film shows humanity at its worst, and neither gender escapes that judgment.

It's true that Mother never leaves the house, and of course women should be allowed to do that. What I don't understand is why Johanson is so scandalized to find a horror film filled with horrible things. What is art for but to exorcise our demons, in lieu of tearing each other apart? Again, I must insist: Putting bad things on screen and condoning bad things is not the same thing. Conflate the two, and you risk missing out on a modern masterpiece.

Molly Laich

Mirroring life

At the heart of it, this movie is really about an abusive relationship. All your points are accurate and the movie is horribly misogynistic, but perhaps where we differ is in our interpretation of the meaning behind it.

Perhaps I perceived it wrong, but this movie in many ways acts as a mirror of our society and its casual mistreatment of women. The film is uncomfortable, and I think that's why I liked it. You feel tension. You feel anger. It's an intense roller-coaster acid trip of a film, and you're along for the ride with Jennifer Lawrence's character the whole way. I will not say it was a satisfying film, but I'm glad I saw it once, though I will probably not be watching it again any time soon.

Kyle Fordham

Move on, Daines

By the time I finish writing this letter, the rains may have arrived, bringing relief to western Montana from record-breaking dryness, fires and smoke. We all need a break, especially those individuals and families who may have suffered losses this fire season.

There's been talk about "the need for forest management reform," especially from Sen. Steve Daines. Part of the senator's pitch is blaming "extreme environmentalists" for the severity of this fire season. While blaming other Montanans may feel good, it's actually incorrect and unproductive.

If we as a society are going to address the risk of fire to our homes and communities, we need to focus on the facts. Montana's largest fire, the Lodgepole Complex Fire, burned more than 270,723 acres of mostly grassland in eastern Montana, and large wildfires raged in British Columbia with no pesky federal laws standing in the way of "management." Leadership requires real solutions, not scapegoating.

University of Montana forest scientist Andrew Larson said recently, "climate and weather drive fire." Sen. Daines has said nothing about how climate may have contributed to this year's fire season. However, most people know what they have seen: an extremely hot, dry and long summer that is at least in part due to climate change. It's that obvious.

A Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation forester told me just yesterday that forest fuels are drier than ever. Large fuels (downed trees) may have 10 percent moisture content. Smaller fuels (twigs and branches) may be at 4 percent. That's really dry.

Over the last 10 to 15 years, Montana's national forests have authorized numerous timber sales in the wildland urban interface. Millions of board feet of timber have flowed to Montana mills as a result of these sales that have simultaneously reduced fire risk to private property lying next to public forests.

In addition, the 2014 Farm Bill provided new authority for the Forest Service and Montana to work together to identify priority treatment areas of our national forests.

In addition, localized and specific forest thinning can help protect private homes or structures. The North Fork Landowners Association has promoted a very successful "Fire Wise" program that has helped North Fork Flathead landowners reduce the risk to their property. Their progress serves as a model for other communities and neighborhoods.

But no amount of timber cutting or lawsuits would have stopped this year's fires, driven by extreme dryness, wind and other local factors.

Let there be no doubt, we have a long-term fire problem on our hands, and it's driven by climate and weather. Summers will be hotter and longer on average. That's what climate scientists have been saying and predicting for years. Now we know that those predictions—based on sound science—have been accurate.

Most Montanans get it. The climate is changing. Bigger fires are here to stay. It's past time to plan for this reality—for our kids' sake. Blaming others is so yesterday. The people are ahead of the politicians, and it's time for Montana's junior senator to move on too, and deal with the reality of climate change.

Dave Hadden

Director, Headwaters Montana


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Sep 13, 2017 at 3:17 PM

Mugging for a cause

I thought maybe the coward Gianforte was using the pen name Dan Brooks and wrote this article himself ("Keep a promise? Hasn't Greg Gianforte suffered enough?" Sept. 7). Can't wait to buy a Gianforte mugshot T-shirt to support whoever runs against him.

Chuck Schulthies

Half right?

Let me guess, Dan Brooks ... you're a white male in this country who is freaking out because your power is slipping away. Just like all the other white males in this country who continue to use violence and acts of terror to try to retain some sense of being in control. So glad your voice and those of the like are not accepted as gospel by a growing number of people. And my sympathies to those stupid enough to believe the BS you spew.

Marie Piccola

Poor hypocrite

This past week in Missoula a group of up to six young men around age 18, beat another young man up with a baseball bat and a hammer. Twenty staples in the kid's head and his fingers broken. These kids had some sort of legitimate beef that needed to be sorted out, but they chose violence.

I saw a bumper sticker last week that said "My congressman can beat up your congressman." Supports violence.

A few weeks ago a young couple in Missoula murdered and dismembered and melted in acid another young couple like it was a scene out of a show that everyone watched together. Supports violence.

Our middle-aged congressman threw another human to the ground and punched him numerous times. He lied about it, then told a little more of the truth when it was clear there was an audio recording and multiple eyewitnesses. He lied to the court and to the judge and the public about his intentions toward reparation. This congressman is a Christianist, a member of a group of people who claim to be better than non-Christianists. But supports violence. A quite typical Christian role model. Hypocrite.

Poor guy.

Erin O'Doherty


I voted for Gianforte and will vote for him again in the next election. He is a good man and has done a lot for Montana and will continue to work hard to represent all of us. The news media is doing a lot of harm not only to themselves but to the people. The truth should always be the goal, and not ideologies at any cost.

Gloria Roark

Troll model

Picking on the poor downtrodden multi-millionaire thug again. He's in Washington to drain the swamp by knowing no shame like his inspiration Donald Drumpfsterfire.

Jay Sinnott

First and second...

Gianforte's first impulse was to lie and lie some more. Unfortunately for him there were witnesses and also audio. Otherwise, this liar and zero-to-60 nutcase might have gotten away with it.

Michelle Nielsen

Let 'em run wild

You know, I feel like what they and all these yokels deserve is to let them have their head ("Breaking the rules: Zinke and Trump go to war on regulation," Aug. 31). I mean, we have regulations in the first place because people/companies/corporations cannot be trusted to regulate themselves.

Just let them run wild until the rivers can be lit on fire again. That's really all that will stop them. Because people never learn.

Louise McMillin

Esther Chessin Way

One of my favorite true Missoulians ever ("Remembering Esther Chessin," Sept. 8). She has been a positive force in this community for decades, and in my life since day one of meeting her, way back in 1992. We should rename one of our streets for this great woman. This exceptional human being should never leave our hearts and thoughts. Goodbye, Esther. We love you!

Andre Floyd

Chopping block

There hasn't been one single lawsuit against a timber sale on the National Forest lands near the Lolo Peak Fire in at least 20 years ("Dear Sen. Daines: Natural variability isn't the last word on climate science," Sept. 7).

Also, the U.S. Forest Service's Northern Region (which includes all National Forests in Montana) has met 89 percent of its timber sale volume target over the past 15 years. That target is based on funding from Congress. It's also worth noting that the timber volume target has increased 72 percent from 2002 to 2015.

Also, it must be pointed out that right now, the U.S. Forest Service is able to conduct an unlimited number of 3,000-acre timber sales, which would be categorically excluded from the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), on 46.7 million acres nationwide and nearly 5 million acres of National Forest land here in Montana. In addition to having "fast-track" status by being categorically excluded from NEPA, these timber sales would have no citizen appeal/objection process.

Keep these facts in mind in the coming weeks and months and certainly folks like Daines, Gianforte and others in the GOP will be using wildfires as an excuse to dramatically increase public lands logging. Some people may remember the infamous "Logging Without Laws" Salvage Rider of 1995, which followed the 1994 wildfire season. That 1995 Salvage Rider resulted in tens of thousands of acres of ancient, old-growth forests and previously unlogged National Forest lands being chopped down and sent to the timber mills.

Matthew Koehler

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Sep 6, 2017 at 2:31 PM

Missoula, beered

Awesome article ("Griz Lager vs. Bonner Logger—an Indy taste test," Aug. 31). Haven't tried the Griz Lager yet, but the Bonner Logger tasted like any generic domestic lager. Not a fan of lagers in general. I had a Corona with lime phase early this summer, but that is probably just a result of too many trips to Vegas.

Chawn DuBack

'Close to water'

As a college capstone project, I constructed a survey for a local craft beer brewery. The results were interesting, because the majority chose the popular Missoula brewery beers as their favorites. Although, when asked about specifics—alcohol content, bitterness, color and hoppiness—the majority chose characteristics aligned with the Millers and Buds of the world. After trying both beers, I was reminded of those survey results. People like beer they can drink all day and still feel trendy. Personally, these two beers remind me of the Monty Python skit about American beers, "like making love in a canoe..." I'll take a Moose Drool or a Fresh Bongwater over the Griz and Bonner.

Jimmy Ray O'Neill

Bit of research

I'm a truck driver, and five minutes of research and everyone here would be smarter on this subject than me, yet every comment here is stupid ("Why did a Bonner bitcoin company decline a $416,000 state grant?" Aug. 31).

[The article] said—and I'm not kidding at all—the only reason they can figure out why location anonymity for a service called crypto-currency (duh) is that competitors might figure out where "cheap energy" is. Not a word about ISPs, hackers, tracing or interception of server data or the law enforcement issues involved in protecting the only location that may even know about both parties of an intentionally blind transaction. This irresponsible piece of trash writing actually has the ability to undermine faith in the entire currency.

R.J. Dieken

His own horn

He used to park his campaign tour bus at a mini storage facility near my workplace ("Daunted courage: Is Ryan Zinke losing touch with Montana?" Aug. 31). The gold stars, the SEAL logos, the patriotic colors, "Commander Zinke" in zillion-point font—the paint job on that thing would make even the most egotistical rock star blush.

Rebecca Schmitz

Mountain man

Missoula is a wonderful place to live. It is home to a wealth of natural beauty with a river, streams and mountains within the city limits. It is no accident, but rather it is the result of the values and ethics of many of our citizens, including Mayor John Engen.

Engen is an outspoken supporter of maintaining these resources as essential to the quality of life for all Missoulians. John has long been a champion of our open spaces and the management of these community treasures, to preserve our vistas, create and maintain hiking and running trails, preserve wildlife habitat and maintain our agricultural heritage for future generations to enjoy.

John has endeavored to make Missoula a leader in sustainability. He has supported community efforts toward Zero Waste, increased biking and walking infrastructure, supported innovations in wastewater management (like the poplar plantation that has diverted more than a million gallons of treated wastewater from the Clark Fork river). John was the first mayor in Montana to support the Paris Climate Agreement, when the federal government failed to uphold its commitment. This action demonstrated our community's interest, concern and commitment to addressing the profound consequences of human-caused climate change. I admired his unwavering leadership as we purchased the local water system, and he is committed to rebuilding the wasteful, costly and inefficient infrastructure.

Mayor Engen's leadership reflects our conservation values. The trails, mountains, streams and open space are not just amenities, they are valuable community assets that contribute greatly to our identity, our quality of life and our local economy. Please join me in re-electing John Engen.

David Schmetterling


The fire line

Our industry-serving politicians came to Lolo to fan the wildfire flames with lies promoting logging (see "Smoke and mirrors," pg. 10). They ignored that this summer is again setting records for heat and lack of rain as the climate warms. They also ignored the fact that logging increases the rate of fire spread.

According to the Forest Service's "Living with Fire" publication, fire spreads at 15 acres per hour in the dense conifer forests so demonized by the timber industry and our politicians. Thin those forests into an open pine forest and fire spreads at 150 acres per hour. Clearcuts with young trees spread fire at 650 acres per hour. Brush and grass spread fire at over 3,000 acres per hour.

Cut down trees and you get more brush and grass that dries out faster due to less shade and more exposure to wind. Research shows most of the carbon released by fire is from brush and the forest floor. Only 5 percent of large-tree carbon is released because only the needles, bark and limbs burn. The tree trunks remain, continuing to store their carbon and providing absolutely essential habitats for wildlife—unless the same lying politicians force the Forest Service to log the dead trees.

Logging removes trees, their carbon and nutrients from the forest. Fire releases only a fraction of the trees' carbon and returns nutrient-rich ash to the soil.

We have longer and more severe fire seasons due to global warming, not environmentalists. As a former logger and Forest Service firefighter, I think the politicians are putting up a smoke screen so their buddies can steal carbon-storing trees from our public forests.

Keith Hammer


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Aug 30, 2017 at 1:54 PM

The way of the dodo

We should be rebuilding and funding rail travel, like all other Western countries, rather than de-funding the system which remains ("Albert Maysle's Empire Builder and the end of Amtrak in Montana?" Aug. 24). All transportation systems depend on public subsidies, above all highways and airports. All rural service will disappear if anti-government trends continue.

Jay Sinnott

They knew

As someone who lobbied extensively this last session, let's be very clear about our legislature ("Mental health care providers struggle with cuts," Aug. 24), especially the Republican majority that put us in this dreadful situation. They knew damn well what they were doing when they pushed this budget through.

Megan Bailey

No glory

It is absolutely important that we never forget our history, even the dark, ugly corners of it, like the era that saw an entire race of people enslaved and treated worse than animals, and their owners start a war against their nation under the guise of "states rights" simply so they could continue their way of life ("Everywhere a sign: Helena removes a reminder of slavery," Aug. 24). But remembering our history doesn't include glorifying those dark, ugly corners of it with memorials and statuary.

Sarah Reynolds Johnson

Read up

The Daughters of the Confederacy explain what [the Helena memorial] symbolizes on their website. I believe hearing/reading a point of view different from your own may enlighten you on what the fountain they erected means. If you have the guts to do it. Or the sycophants can continue blindly following the hysteria.

Chuck Haynes

No two ways

Oh, a bunch of women who want to memorialize their families and glorify them want us to listen to how they don't mean it in "that way" as they name themselves "Daughters of the Confederacy." *Eye roll*

Naomi Odermann

You got it

All those prospecting ex-Confederate soldiers would have most assuredly bought slaves and brought them to live here in Montana if they could have. If they had struck it rich. They were nothing like the folks who hired people to work the mines for pathetic wages who we seem to name streets after. The difference they seem to demonstrate is they did not have money or power. So we make monuments to reward people who seem to have money and power and say to hell with the rest. What a wonderful country, what a great history! I hope we all remember this crap, there could be a quiz.

Dan Hutchinson

Afeared of flakes

Snowflakes is a pretty inaccurate description—it's more like hailstones. I did notice in the news that a few inebriated conservatives tried to prevent the removal. One, a middle aged woman, was arrested. A lot of big talk from those who defend the ill-begotten monument to Jim Crow, but only about a dozen of them had the balls to show up and protest, and the majority were drunken women! So keep calling the liberals names from your keyboards, at least you're not out mowing down pedestrians with your cars.

Willow Bumpus

Don't resist

I am all for free speech, but I found Andrea Grimes over-the-top offensive ("Resistance Kitchen: How scared are you right now pickles," Aug. 17). Crude, not funny, and the recipe wasn't even her own. Blech! I'd can her and leave the pickles alone!

Pattie Fialcowitz


Blame game

Facts are out of style, I know. That is not new regarding forest fires. Smokey Bear started saying "only you can prevent forest fires" more than 50 years ago, and it's always been a lie. Also, the enduring, widely marketed, taxpayer-funded Smokey ad campaign incites the misdirected finger-pointing blame game.

So, when Montana-made politicos Steve Daines, Greg Gianforte and Ryan Zinke stood in front of the Lolo Peak fire pointing their finger of blame outwards at appeals and litigation of timber sales, they were just twisting a long campaign to their own purposes.

The Lolo Peak fire was lightning-caused, and neither "you" or anyone else could have prevented that, but the lie still works.

The fact that there have been no appeals or litigation of timber sales in the burned area is irrelevant to their purposes. They did not leave the Beltway to help brave firefighters fight fires. The incendiary purpose of the cowardly lyin' politicos is to fire up their voter base by fanning flames of hate. This shameless behavior serves to polarize, not unite or uplift Montana.

The fake news contagion is endemic with feckless politicos from the D.C. swamp, but is not limited to the national arena. It corrupts informed public debate locally as well. And it distracts from real issues, like the role of climate change on increasingly long fire seasons and fire intensity.

Even Daines, Zinke and Gianforte cannot prevent forest fires, but there is much real work they could be doing, like tackling the climate change challenge, which could help with forest fires, agriculture, fish and wildlife, as well as other economic and quality-of-life issues we all face.

Larry Campbell


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Letters to the Editor

Posted on Wed, Aug 23, 2017 at 2:37 PM

Can't be both

Regarding Trump's comments on Charlottesville: I did some serious processing over this situation and I have listened to differing points of view. I understand that there were many factors to consider and that there was culpability on both sides. And I am aware that these far-right extremists had a permit and the other group didn't. Nevertheless, if a number of white supremacists are going to march with Ku Klux Klan garb or wear Nazi swastikas, give Nazi salutes and yell racial slurs, of course there is going to be violence. It is also an emotional trigger for people seeing these images on the news. These powerful symbols open the wounds of our country's psyche: burning crosses and Klan brutality. The Nazi insignia is an insult to the soldiers who fought and died in World War II. These records are deeply embedded in our collective unconscious.

Not only should the president have condemned this protest immediately, he should have specifically addressed these issues. If he had boldly stated that the Klan robes are a stark reminder of our racist past, and if he had honored the valiant men and women who served in World War II, he would have commanded respect. President Trump's inflammatory rhetoric at this rally has fueled the fires of hatred and rage on both sides. This protest is about more than a statue being torn down, as these white nationalists, energized by a Trump presidency, are planning more rallies. It is time for the president to take a strong stand against these groups and begin to reach out to the people who do not support him and attempt to bridge the gap. Choices are being made. Are we going to devolve and erase the progress our country has made thus far, or are we going to evolve into a more humane, enlightened culture where we treat each other with understanding, compassion and mutual respect regardless of skin color?

Nancy Hufnagel


The right thing

So, on Aug. 15, President Trump said this about the recent protests in Charlottesville: "This week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?"

Really. He asked that.

I can answer the question.

Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee led an armed insurrection against our country. They did so in defense of slavery. Period. These men do not deserve to have statues erected in their memory. What does it say to our children, our citizens of color, visitors to our country, when we revere the memory of people who were willing to use violence in order to protect the "right" of one person to own another?

The confederates may have been brave people, but they served a terrible cause. It's analogous to the Germans who served in the world wars. They may have been brave, but it would have been more courageous to stand against the cause their army was serving.

So, I can answer the president's attempt to invoke the "slippery slope" argument. People will stop protesting the display of Confederate symbols when they are removed from public spaces. That's where it stops: when we do the right thing.

Rep. Tom Woods


Coulda woulda

I believe the mayor and commissioners blew it ("Helena to remove country's northernmost confederate monument," Aug. 17). This subject came up a couple of years ago and the administration said it would make a new plaque for the fountain, putting it in a better historical context and denouncing slavery, racism, etc. The fountain could have been repurposed as a symbol of peace and tolerance. Well, that didn't happen, and in the wake of the Charlottesville violence, it is being removed, which I certainly understand. It could have been saved, though.

Pete Talbot

So sensitive!

This is a sad moment. Any memorial should be viewed in the context that it is. A reminder of where we have been lest we forget. I visited Dachau concentration camp in Germany. I was appalled at the atrocities committed. There were people visiting from all over the world, including a lot of Jews. They weren't offended, they were there as a remembrance, as it should be. I know there are memorials all over that memorialize something in history that didn't have to happen. It's not about offending people, it's about history. People have gotten too easily offended rather than seeing it for what it is and moving forward. Open this door and it can lead to some pretty scary things, if offending someone can lead to this. Also, I'm wondering how many of those offended by things related to the Confederate war are wearing cotton T-shirts?

Carmen Gregory

Good point

Yeah, but there isn't a giant statue glorifying Heinrich Himmler outside of the gates of Dachau constructed 50-plus years after the events unfolded there. It's like visiting Gettysburg. Yes, we can visit the location where the battle took place and remember the men who lost their lives. But we don't need to be building statues glorifying the people fighting to maintain the right to enslave a race of people for profit.

Steven McClain

Take it all down

To think Americans think destroying monuments is OK, and will end racism, in my opinion is absolute mindlessness! If we are to remove Confederate monuments then we should remove all governmental monuments as well, seeing it was the government that wiped out the majority of indigenous peoples. So if you're only OK with black and white racial differences, when do you think you all will fight for the indigenous people and give us and them the right to live freely on healthy land and not behind a fence?

Kachina Rice

Look it up

Why on earth was a Confederate monument erected in the state of Montana in the first place? It didn't become a state until 25 years after the end of the Civil War and wasn't anywhere close to any of the main Civil War battlefields.

Michael Brown

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

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