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.
Thanks from TSA
Thanks from TSA
On behalf of TSA employees statewide, I want to express my appreciation to people in communities across Montana who showed incredible generosity and concern during the recent partial government shutdown. Your kind words supplemented by donations motivated our workforce and allowed us to stay focused on our mission to keep the traveling public safe and secure during this uncertain time.
I cannot overstate the impact of the community’s donations. You delivered food and refreshments, provided gift cards to help defray the cost of day-to-day needs and worked with the airport community in Butte to ensure that our employees were well taken care of. Perhaps most importantly, through your words and actions, you recognized the critical role TSA plays in securing our nation’s transportation system.
Looking ahead, we will always remember the encouragement and support we received from you. Thank you for coming together to support the Montana TSA team in Butte.
Dan Fevold, Federal Security Director for Montana
Transportation Security Administration
In light of the election of Greg DeVries for HD75, representing Jefferson County, including parts of southern Helena, I find myself contemplating the Montana voter and how he or she makes decisions.
As a Jefferson County voter, I attended two forums at which DeVries and his opponent spoke. He made it very clear that he does not believe in public education nor will he vote to fund it. His extreme views were published in the Boulder Monitor and in letters in the Independent Record. But does the average voter study the local newspapers and go to forums?
To date, Rep. DeVries is one of only three representatives who voted against HB 159, the School Funding Bill, which adjusts current funding to more accurately reflect inflationary increases. He introduced HB 303, which eliminates compulsory education, amending the Montana Code to do away with attendance regulations and make enrollment voluntary. Since a quality public school education is one of the privileges — and responsibilities — of American citizenship, it is astonishing that someone would seek to defund and weaken it. Most voters didn’t know DeVries held such dangerous views. So, how can we more effectively share information about candidates so this doesn’t happen again?
Melissa Kwasny, Jefferson City
Wireless and cancer
Wireless and cancer
For $2,899.00 you can buy the cell phone Michael Douglas used in the 1987 film Wall Street. If you are curious it's called the Motorola 8000X Dynatac Vintage Brick. We have seen cell phone and wireless technology come a long way in the last 20 or 30 years. First we had wireless phones in our homes, then the giant cell phones in our cars, and eventually what we have now. If you look up the download speed for 5G (the next iteration of this technology) it is about 10 Gigabytes a second. To give you an idea that's over 3 hours of video a second. That may sound like a dream come true but is it too good to be true?
In the Guardian's article "The inconvenient truth about cancer and mobile phones" they reference a 2018 study that showed " “clear evidence” that radiation from mobile phones causes cancer." When you start looking at the stories from people living at the base of the cell towers you'll think twice about living under one. Doctors are warning of an increase in tumors by people's ears and women's breasts from storing the phones in their bras. Fertility rates are also suffering. Already it seems like we are paying an unadvertised cost for this technology and convenience. Like any addiction we are paying the cost.
In 2012 I made the mistake of getting myself and 3 friends lost skiing after work. Without that cell phone call I probably wouldn't be sitting here so I am first to admit the necessity and value of this technology. But can we do it safely? When cars first came out safety wasn't a concern. Seat belts took time. Same with cigarettes and their warning labels. Is it time for cell phone safety? or total Microwave? Personally I think we should try to find a balance. Unopposed industry has shown through history to have significant consequences for people. Often making money takes lead and people's safety is left in the dust.
Where can we start making compromises so we don't get cancer? Should we interview more people living under those towers? What are their stories? Do we need all that wireless in the schools? Is that ethical? Can these be used more as emergency devices like they were intended or are we totally addicted and dependent on them? What would it take to break that habit?
Isaac Swan, Kalispell
The Standard regularly prints its “IS THIS REAL NEWS?” page assuring readers to “use your trusted news source, the Montana Standard”. Case in point, Monday Jan 28, columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. column titled “Nation at a breaking point”. Pitts focuses on the widely publicized weekend of Jan 19 on the mall in Washington DC. There, a group of high school boys from Covington, Kentucky wait for buses for the trip home. There they find themselves in the middle of a manufactured media firestorm. Pundits and activists pummeled the students after posting of a few minutes of video. Within hours, extended video initially ignored by all but the most diligent showed a different version of events.
Pitts evidently was more satisfied with the initial misleading video (“a picture” he says), filtered thru his ‘learned’ perspective. Pitts contends a high school boy confronts and disrespects the elder Native American named Nathan Phillips by smirking when Phillips and his group walk toward the boys group. There are numerous miss-characterizations by Pitts in the column. He conveniently minimizes the 5 man group of black men called “Black Hebrew Israelites” who he says were “using their First Amendment rights”. In my viewing the entire 106+ minute video this group dominated the entire mall area hurtling every conceivable type of racial and ethnic epitaph, curse words, insults, harassment and threats.
Pitts ignores their hate and turns his focus on the high school boys, who remarkably stayed rather civil and well controlled under the verbal barrage. Mr. Phillips moving toward the boys and chanting probably, as he later claimed, helped to diffuse the tension. The single student Nick Sandmann from Covington found himself motionless, eye to eye with Phillips surrounded by his classmates and the Native American group. But he is the unfortunate foil for Pitts. Why? Because according to Pitts he smirked. He could have frowned, or laughed out loud. But to Pitts that smirk reveals his true heart. Worse yet, he was white, Catholic and wore a MAGA hat. Pitts continues his agenda noting the devious and sacrilegious character of the smirk, comparing Sandmann’s smirk to “the eternal expression of the bully at the head of the mob”, and he wrote “near the spot where he (Martin Luther King) said “I have a dream”. I think Pitts thumbnail photo is smirking.
Does this highly skewed opinion piece meet the Standard’s “trusted news source” standards?
John Schlegelmilch, Divide
Yes, walls work
Yes, walls work
In response to people who say walls don't work:
Then why put them around prisons and other secure areas? But theirs is just a political approach that attempts to divert attention from their real agenda of "open borders." I also suspect that many who say walls don't work live behind walls (and yard fences) in gated communities.
Walls and fences do work, depending on who builds and maintains them and for what purpose. Ask any farmer or rancher who depends on them. Ask the border patrol who is on the front lines of "border security." They agree that a border wall would improve their jobs tremendously. Ask the people in Hungary and Israel about high border fences that have reduced illegal immigration 99-100 percent! Ask the Vatican, which has had high walls in place for hundreds of years.
The weak argument that illegals will just tunnel under walls proves that they work. They will find other ways to enter this country illegally, but we don't need to encourage illegal immigration by being ineffective in defending our border. Illegal aliens cost the U.S. taxpayer billions of dollars every year. Not to mention the crime, illegal drugs, human trafficking and other problems associated with open borders.
C.T. Ripley, Huntley
On Friday, I was delighted the state House of Representatives passed HB 175, the State and University Employee Pay Plan Bill, by a vote of 91 to 9. Despite my excitement about the terrific bipartisan support for passage of the State Pay Plan, I was disappointed that our very own Representative Greg Devries was an outlier. Amazingly, he was one of the 9 legislators who voted against HB 475. The long-overdue pay increase in HB 475 is well-deserved by the hard-working and dedicated state employees. Rough calculations indicate that approximately 10% of Jefferson County’s workforce are state employees. State employees are family, neighbors and friends. They plow our roads, provide health care and keep our communities safe. They are an important part of our community … and significant contributors to Jefferson County’s economy. Greg Devies’ vote is, in my estimation, a disservice to his many state-employee constituents and their families and to Jefferson County voters. I urge voters of House District 75 to be vigilant in monitoring the voting performance of Mr. Devries. So far, I’m not impressed.
Drew Dawson, Boulder
Use Montana's wind
Use Montana's wind
The eastern half of Montana has consistently high wind speeds, and Montana is ranked No. 5 of the lower 48 states in terms of capacity for wind energy generation. Other states with similar wind capacities have been rapidly developing wind farms in the past couple of years, to great success. Oklahoma has over 17 percent of its total electricity coming from wind, and Iowa has over 25 percent wind.
Though Montana has the same capacity, we only get about 7 percent of our electricity from wind energy. Many of the coal plants that supply a good chunk of Montana’s energy will need to be decommissioned in the next couple of years, and there’s no smarter business move than investing in more wind energy right now.
The wind we have installed right now is the cheapest per megawatt hour, less than half the price of coal-fired electricity. After initial infrastructure costs, the “fuel” for wind is free and thus, over the course of its lifetime, wind energy is now significantly cheaper than coal.
It’s time for Montana to take advantage of this abundant natural resource, and we should encourage Northwestern Energy to include more wind in its 20-year plan.
Recent press stated “Some Republican lawmakers have said they are reluctant to go into debt to pay for infrastructure … .” Traditionally, local, state and national governments have used borrowing to cover critical needs greater than their annual revenues can meet. Whether through issuing bonds or through government loans, governments have incurred debt over time to meet long-term infrastructure needs. We use longer-term debt to make needed purchases affordable. The key consideration is whether the repayment period is consistent with the expected life of the asset we are borrowing for and whether the financing cost is reasonable.
By those standards, the investment in infrastructure proposed by Gov. Bullock is more than reasonable. The governor’s infrastructure budget provides an opportunity for Montanans to invest in themselves and their communities, schools, the university system, our historical society and other needed public facilities. These investments would enhance the quality of life in our communities and increase our economic competitiveness in a national and world economy. Rejecting affordable debt that would allow us to address critical long-term infrastructure needs would be truly “penny wise and pound foolish.” Those needs are not going away and will only be more costly tomorrow.
David Cole, Helena