The Montana Standard publishes letters from readers in the Opinion section. Here are this week's letters.
To submit a letter to the editor, go here.
FD hiring process
I am writing in regards to the current controversy over Chief Exec. Palmer’s proposed new hiring to the Butte-Silver Bow Fire Deptartment.
I am a retired Battalion Chief with over thirty-nine years of service with the B-SB Fire Dept. During that time I served on the fire department applicant screening committee.
Through the efforts of the Montana Fire Fighters Testing Consortium, the B-SB Fire Dept. and applicant screening committee, and the B-SB Fire Commission, an impartial and efficient process has been established to advance to the Chief Exec. a list of qualified candidates ranked from highest qualified to lowest.
Each candidates ranking is based on their history of service in fire fighting, career and/or volunteer, structural and/or wildland; service as an Emergency Medical Service provider; college degrees; advanced fire fighting and/ E.M.S certifications; military service; and an oral interview by the B-SB Fire Commission. Past practice has seen the higher-ranked candidates offered positions in the fire department.
Chief Exec. Palmer has publicly stated he is breaking from the norm in this instance although he has followed the norm with the last three hires. He now proposes to hire candidates who are lower on the list than all others.
He has eliminated two higher-ranked candidates simply because they are not Butte residents. The application for the B-SB Fire Department does not require an applicant to be a resident nor does it state a candidate can be excluded from consideration for not being a B-SB resident. Further these candidates incurred travel expenses to come to Butte for their interview believing their ranking would be fairly evaluated by the Chief Exec. Since Palmer had no intention of considering them, I think Palmer should personally reimburse their expenses.
Two higher-ranked Butte candidates were dropped. One for being employed and one for undisclosed personal reasons.
I am angry and frustrated that Palmer has corrupted this process. He disregards and disrespects those working to provide all candidates a fair process. A process designed to evaluate and rank candidates based on their merits. A process that identifies the best people to serve our county.
The real damage is that in the future how will any candidate, local or non resident, believe in this process and fair consideration?
Chief Exec. Palmer, what you propose to do may be legal, but it certainly is not right.
Joe McCarthy, Butte
Bad Interior choice
Sportsmen and sportswomen have the responsibility of being stewards of the land, not only for the fish and game we chase, but for all species and the habitat that they rely on. That’s why it baffles me that any sportsman or sportswoman would ever support the confirmation of David Bernhardt as the Secretary of Interior.
When former Secretary Ryan Zinke was confirmed, there was some confidence in the sporting community that he would work in good faith to promote conservation through the policies that manage our public lands. He did exactly the opposite, attacking national monuments, attempting to roll back conservation policies that protect critical wildlife habitat, and promoting a reckless “energy dominance” policy that completely reduced the opportunity for the public to weigh in on agency decisions.
It is now clear that the man working behind the scenes to drive these policies forward was none other than David Bernhardt. As a former oil and gas lobbyist, it makes sense that Bernhardt has been dead-set on promoting anti conservation agendas on our public lands. This is not somebody who represents sportsmen’s interests and we should all be paying attention to how he influences the Interior Department’s decisions.
Evan Rindal, Missoula
Hope and help for kids
I’m writing about the April 21-23 Acadia facility articles. It appeared to me that the news articles swerved recklessly between opinion and fact in the use of the term “chemical restraint”. The most authoritative definition of chemical restraint is the 2014 federal CMS definition that states a chemical restraint “is defined as any drug that is used for discipline or convenience and not required to treat medical symptoms.”
Also, the article failed to address the real fact that the suicide rate for children in Montana is double the national average. Parents are scared, and I believe that the Acadia articles feed that fear and add to mental health stigma. We want to encourage parents to get help for their children.
Any parent who has a child with depression or suicidal thoughts should immediately contact their pediatrician or other primary care provider for assistance or referral to a trusted mental health provider. There are many excellent therapists, psychologists, psychiatric physicians and psychiatric nurse practitioners and physician assistants who provide quality mental health treatment in Montana. If you are worried about a loved one, there is hope and there is help.
Leonard Lantz, Helena
As a lifelong rural Montana resident, I know how important it is to remain connected. In today’s world, the internet is many times what brings us together.
Technologies that once we only saw in the movies are now part of our every-day life. I frequently stream movies on demand, talk to my grandchildren live over FaceTime, keep up on the news of the day by reading it on my iPad, and as a former farmer, I check the weather daily through an app.
But living in rural Montana means that we have many unique challenges in ensuring that all of our citizens have access to the type of speeds we need from our internet infrastructure. Fiber is the broadband infrastructure Montana needs. A single fiber, approximately the diameter of a human hair, offers virtually unlimited bandwidth capabilities and is less susceptible than other transmission methods to electromagnetic interference.
Only 27% of rural Montana homes and businesses are currently served by fiber. Luckily, there was bipartisan legislation passed in the Montana legislature to help companies build more fiber infrastructure. SB 239 will provide a 10-year property tax moratorium on new fiber builds. I urge the Governor to sign this important bill into law.
Judy Shannon, Fairfield
I know you just paid your Federal and State taxes. You have always been a good citizen. But you remember before the elections all politicians say, "vote for me I will lower your taxes." "Don't vote for the other person they will raise your taxes."
Well did you know that 60% of the large corporations paid no Federal tax taxes at all? A big fat zero in taxes. Here are just a few. General Electric, made a profit of $27.5 billion and paid no taxes but got a refund of $3.1 billion. What a great deal!
John Deere Corporation made a profit of $2.5 billion, paid no taxes and got a refund of $268 million. Another great deal! Amazon Corporation made profits of $11.2 billion and got a refund of $129 million. Are you going crazy yet? Boeing, Verizon paid no taxes, but got refunds! Wow!
President Trump said before he was elected he would eliminate the $19.9 trillion National debt, but he has already added over a trillion dollars to the National debt. Plus he cut many of the programs that benefit education, the middle class and the working poor.
It is a fact twice as many corporations pay nothing, zero, taxes under President Trump's tax plan. How much has President Trump paid in taxes over the years? Who knows? Maybe nothing! Go ahead, cry, swear, jump up and down. The middle class and the working poor got cheated again. Sure, "Vote for me, I will lower your taxes!"
LaVon Brillhart, Dillon
The internet has shattered traditional models of education. What once took years of college course work to master can now be learned in a few afternoons on YouTube. Today, sites like Udemy and Skillshare offer affordable classes in everything from astrophysics to graphic design. It’s never been easier for individuals to invest in improving themselves and their communities.
The only thing required to access this new world of on-demand learning is a high-speed broadband connection. Unfortunately, that’s something too many Montanans lack. Broadbandnow.com rates our state 48th- third from the bottom- in terms of connectivity and the Federal Communications Commission reports that nearly 50 percent of Montanans don’t have access to a basic 25 MB connection.
That’s why I support current legislation to help boost business investment in high-speed fiber technologies. SB 239 would create a sustained incentive for internet providers to expand their digital networks by offering a five-year break on property taxes for new broadband investment.
However, unlike other tax breaks these companies will be required to plow their tax savings back into new infrastructure to serve customers.
Harnessing the economic potential of each citizen in our state requires better broadband, which SB 239 provides. Governor Bullock should support individuals who are taking steps to better themselves by signing this important bill into law.
Kyle Mack, Belgrade