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.
Rules on the Madison
I’m writing about the Madison River Negotiated Rulemaking Committee.
I’m grateful the rule-making committee established by the Fish and Wildlife Commission has members representing a variety of viewpoints, but I take issue with comments made by the representative of the Madison River Foundation.
For Lauren Wittorp, executive director of the Madison River Foundation and member of the committee, to state she doesn’t believe outfitters care about the river is a ridiculous, unconscionable accusation.
I’ve never met more invested stewards of the Madison River than the guides and outfitters who spend time on its waters. Outfitters, who make their livings safely and ethically showing others the beauty of the Madison River and its fish, have every incentive to ensure the river is biologically healthy for generations to come.
I find much of what the Madison River Foundation is promoting for the new river rules to be deeply troubling. By proposing to limit commercial use on a section of the lower river, as well as stop all boat traffic in a section of the upper river, the foundation is essentially advocating for the privatization of huge swaths of the river, which would greatly limit public access.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists have stated time and time again that fish populations in the Madison River are healthy. For Wittorp to continually try to use the health of the fishery as a bargaining chip for reducing public access is unacceptable.
It is becoming clear the Madison River Foundation should not be viewed as “the voice of the river,” as Wittorp put it. They are, of course, entitled to an opinion, a stance, and a seat at the table, but they should not be regaled as the primary source for what is best for the river and surrounding communities. They should be viewed as what they are: An interest group advocating for rules that would benefit the few, not the many.
Abigail Dennis, Ennis
I was told that the purpose of the Montana Legislature is to debate and pass legislation on taxes and budget, so why then do representatives and senators even consider bills on policies for state agencies. Shouldn’t agencies like Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, BLM, Forest Service, etc. come to the legislature with their own budgets and ask for the money they need to implement policies, for instance on wolf management? Instead we are watching a slew of bills concerning wolf eradication work their way around the legislature: aerial hunting, hunting at night, killing wildlife with vehicles, and a bill to guarantee wildlife killing contests, to name a few.
Jennifer Fielder, the chair of the Fish and Game committee is an avowed proponent of wolf eradication. Why are her blatant views of this and other white nationalist doctrine concerning natural resources the avenue for wolf management policies in the legislature? Where is the wildlife biology and game management research that should be the foundation for management? Taking agency policies out of the legislative process and returning the legislature back to taxes and budget debates is essential for 2021.
Linda Helding, Arlee
Disturbed by vote
I was deeply disturbed by Senator Jon Tester’s recent vote against Senate Bill 311 that would give a child born ALIVE medical attention. I contacted his office before in hopes that he could think independently of wrong minded other democrats, but that was not the case. I then wrote to Sen. Tester and, of course, received a form letter explaining that “he believes that decisions about abortion are between a woman and her doctor. Politicians are not qualified to create a medical standard of care that may not apply in all circumstances.”
First of all, when a child is born alive he/she is no longer part of the woman’s body. They are their own person, therefore, entitled to all rights given to all persons. The woman is no longer in this picture, it is totally about the child. I pointed out to Sen. Tester that all ranchers I know, try to help a baby calf that is struggling at birth, but he would not give a living, breathing child the same consideration? I find it hard to imagine that we have become so callused as human beings that this is even being discussed – and yet we are right back at the beginning when pagans did the same exact thing. The Greco/Roman pagans would put “unwanted” babies out in the field to die because they didn’t warrant the effort of using the sword to kill them. How far have we come? Now we just let them die in a room by themselves. Secondly, I am baffled how NOT giving a child life saving measures, can be called “healthcare”.
Our forefathers saw a nation that would protect the rights of all human beings, not just the chosen ones. Without life, nothing else matters. I am sure they would be disgusted with what we have done to the meaning of life guaranteed in our Constitution.
Christine Wagner, Harrison
Thanks for plowing
Thanks to the friendly and efficient Butte public works plow truck driver who came all the way down to Melrose to plow our streets and unclog the corners. Our personal parking area is wide, and more than a car length from the street., and he also helped plow that area for us. I am grateful that someone remembered Melrose and the 2 feet of snow we have.
Return for our BSB taxes.
Andrea Schussler, Melrose
Every winter it seems to be the same thing in Butte. The same old thing every year, and never gets better, snow removal. I do understand but, you can never be ready for the unknown. Yes, main streets are priority one and then ? It's just mind-boggling to me that every time I see a county truck with a plow on it, it should be serving the taxpayers more effectively and efficiently. Parks are not a priority, they should be last and so on. Parks and Recreation, Planning Department etc., should be cleaning intersections and side streets and intersections along with Public Works Department when the streets are plowed and side streets are blocked and causing more people to get stuck. It's ludicrous the way they don't plow the whole street and areas where no cars are parked.
BSB has too many different departments which was brought to their attention by a study BSB taxpayers paid for.
Why would the Planning Department have a truck with a plow? I would think the Priorities would be, emergency routes first, streets and roads including side streets or at least secondary main side streets next? People need to travel on these streets also.
Eldon Beall, Butte
Out of step on abortion
On Monday the US Senate voted on a bill that would require doctors to administer life-saving medical care to any baby who is born, including abortion survivors.
It is hard to believe but due to a loophole in current law which has been exploited by abortionists, if a baby survives an abortion procedure, doctors are not obligated to provide lifesaving medical care, even if the child is alive and viable.
The question these Senators answered was simple: Do you think that medical care should be provided to a baby who has been born alive but will die on the table without it? Our own Senator Jon Tester shockingly joined 43 Democrat Senators voting no.It’s been suggested some of these Senators are currently playing politics. You should NEVER play politics with the life of a child. This is infanticide. Tester claims he is supporting a woman's right to make her own health care decisions. What about the baby's rights? In his world they are marginalized.
A new survey found that 80 percent of Americans now say they support limiting abortion to the first three months of pregnancy, compared to 75 percent who said the same in the Marist poll last month, taken before these events began. A recent YouGov/AUL survey, meanwhile, found that nearly 80 percent of Americans oppose abortion in the last three months of pregnancy. Jon is out of step with women and Montanans. Let him know.
Gary Wold, Butte
Bad Colstrip idea
Saving the town of Colstrip from ruin as the coal industry declines is a conversation worth having. Not all the ideas being proposed are good, however.
A prime example is Senate Bill 278 (sponsored by Sen. Tom Richmond, R-Billings). Richmond’s plan is to allow NorthWestern Energy to buy Colstrip plants 3 and 4 for one dollar, and shift responsibility for all cleanup costs – now estimated at $700 million, maybe more – onto the backs of NorthWestern’s customers.
Really? Orchestrate a deal like this for NorthWestern Energy and then lay all the costs onto ratepayers?
To top it off, SB 278 would exempt this cost-shifting from any oversight by the Public Service Commission. Ratepayers would have no recourse against anything that NorthWestern – a monopoly utility company – decides to charge them for all the liabilities associated with the aging coal plants.
This is exactly why the PSC exists, to protect consumers from unfair practices by monopolies. And yet this is the very protection that SB 278 seeks to overturn.
It’s no different than a giant tax increase, only you’ll be paying it on your NorthWestern Energy bill.
Contact your legislators and tell them to vote against SB 278.
Becky Mitchell, Billings
The real question
When it comes to the U.S. Constitution I consider myself an originalist and a purist. That is why Antonin Scalia was my hero when he was on the high court. Anthony Kennedy, my Con law professor in law school in 1985 to 1986, was neither a constitutionalist nor a purist.
I find it interesting that the politicians who are opposing President Trump's declaration of an emergency so that he can construct the border are declaring only that this problem is not an emergency . The real question they should be asking is that if it is constitutional for the president to do this. The really germane question is was it constitutional for congress to allow a president to do this by legislation they passed over 40 years ago?
The problem with asking this question is that you may end with an answer that essentially declares that any time a president has declared an emergency under this legislation that his act was unconstitutional and that his declaration of an emergency was null and void. I understand that there are still presidential declarations under this legislation that are still in effect. Apparently there are over 30 of them. A number of these declarations involved Democratic presidents. We all know that Democratic presidents cannot violate something they really do not believe in (i.e. our constitution).
W. David Herbert, Billings
The nick of time
Fat Donald Trump is a real downer. The Presidential Palace's landlord seems to hate pretty much everything and everyone. The rare exceptions invite scrutiny for their bizarre extremeness.
The Donald of Nuremberg rallies and bathroom tweets comes across as a glass-half-empty sort of bloke in the sense that this strange man pushes up to the bar, belts down half your drink and slaps the glass down not only dirty but also visibly cracked.
In Donald's cockeyed bonhomie, the US of A before Trump was circling the drain and had been for god knows how long until his arrival in the nick of time blocked the final flush.
Here's America in the years before Trump:
A nation devoid of Good Roads and Good Government movements, Hoover dams and Marshall plans. The economy, having received extreme unction, surviving for decades on life support. The United Nations sucked royally. So did the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, European Union and international alliances in general;
S-holes, S-heels and S-shows stretching from sea to unguarded sea. California, El Paso, Africa — all screwed up good. Plagues of caravans invading from the tropics, dispatched by unfriendly governments for the purpose of releasing pestilence, disease and brown bodies into hamlets and towns;
The previous 44 presidential administrations composed of slackers with barely a legislative accomplishment between them. Nothing but unfair deals, not-square deals and bad new deals. Utopian Socialists as far back as Andrew Jackson's cabinet strangling business ingenuity and initiative. Every treaty since Versailles dumb, dumber and dumbest;
Congress handcuffed for its entire existence. The military-intelligence axis in ruins and commanded by simpletons. Industry shackled to job-killing regulations and the worst tax laws since Samuel Gompers invented the skyscraper. The wealthy unable to profit in any measure.
I mean, who could resist such an incredible magnet of a human being?
If I had Donald's vision, I wouldn't bother to vote, I'd slash my wrists like Frankie Five Angels.
Craig Schmidt, Anaconda