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Wednesday October 20, 2010

Opinion & Editorial

Guest Comment

FOB: to blame or not to blame for end of logging

by Craig E. Thomas, Stevensville

In its response to an advertisement that blames Friends of the Bitterroot for shutting down the timber industry, FOB mentions a 60 million negotiated harvest. It actually was a litigated forced reduction court action, not a negotiated harvest, and almost all of the public were locked out of the courtroom, me included. Over 1.5 billion feet burned on the BNF in 2000 and the USFS proposed a small 280 million foot salvage so the 60 million number which is big was about 20% of the USFS proposal, and very small comparatively. Slightly more than 20 million was actually harvested, or about 1.2 % of the burn area. Was their litigation to stop the harvest successful??

FOB points out that there is a surplus of standing timber unwanted in the forest and there is. Mainly because there are four pages of mitigation factors attached to any harvest operation. Most of these are the result of previous litigations so it is standing unconstrained by any current appeals or litigation. Previous litigation has been so successful that further litigation is unnecessary! Besides current market conditions are in a very strong downturn. My last USFS timber sale contract was 7-? inches thick at the start of the sale. Enough already!!

I have sat through hundreds and hundreds of meetings with the USFS, FOB, and others. These meetings take time, and time is the backbreaker of anyone who has equipment payments or production schedules because payments go on 24/7/365. Actually time talking is as effective a method of eliminating industry as winning in court, maybe more effective. It gives the impression that everybody is trying to get together on the issues. That is why the State reacted so quickly to harvest the Sula burned forested area which, by the way, was very profitable and valuable to our school trust fund.

Time also results in the timber rotting or decaying in various ways. That is the reason a successful salvage harvest is completed quickly (don’t have meetings and studies--cut trees) as most of the wood products deteriorate rapidly. Several articles have appeared in the papers lately showing how the forest is recovering from fire, and no mention is made of the fact if harvest was properly conducted and the forest was maintained it would not be necessary to start completely over because of burning it up in the first place. Burning it up is poor management, at its best forcing foresters into making the best of a bad situation which was avoidable in the first place.

Ever leave a container of milk out of the fridge? How long does it last? Spoiled, is it a total loss or maybe you use it? Same thing happens to burnt trees.

Now sitting in all these meetings next to these other folks, I have come to the realization that we are: mostly alike. In fact at one meeting introduction when I was sitting next to Larry Campbell, I said that I was about 80% Larry and I meant it because I am. We both love the forest, built our own home, and have many other common likes, breathe air, drink water, etc. Sat across from John Grove and Gary Milner in many meetings, too. Again we have many more things in common than differences, but we did agree to simply disagree on some issues. I prefer aggressive timber management, and access to the forest.

When the fires of 2000 got close to Larry’s house, Craig Bobzien, the Darby district ranger, rushed to the rescue and diverted the fire, saving Larry’s home. If I’d been in Craig’s position, I would have done the same thing. Larry and I have differences but I certainly don’t wish that his home be burnt. So whatever it cost as a taxpayer I’m fine with that. I really wish Larry would have allowed me to harvest some of the burnt timber, though.

The FOB disputes the $700 million figure in the ad which I haven’t seen and I don’t know where the number comes from, but I do know that each timber dollar goes through the local economy 5 times as reported by the Bureau of Economics at the U of M. Isn’t Chase Reynolds something? Yeah, Chase.

So the FOB opinion comes down to blame defense. It basically says FOB didn’t do it – cause all this stuff.

Well, congratulations FOB, you did. I think you are a very intelligent, dedicated, and successful group. You have outsmarted the timber industry, the USFS, the public, and me with your crude court actions, unique scientific data, and implementation of mitigation factors (carry a big stick and use it lots). Those actions have altered the management of the BNF until it is doing what you want. It is time for the FOB to accept credit and the responsibilities for their actions, good, bad or otherwise. I now look to the FOB for leadership out of this mess. What are we going to do?

Does the FOB want to buy some logging and forestry equipment? Mine is cheap now.

I am accepting responsibility for being a forester. 30 years ago a good friend and fellow forester Russ Gates (killed falling timber for a salvage logger) and I got in trouble by industry for standing up for the forest—again. We concluded that if we kept doing this poor paying and misunderstood forestry job we would have to “work till we die, build the casket, dig the hole, and die close to it so our wives could push us in.”

I wish Gates was alive to see me live this out.

Letters to the Editor

Support for Driscoll

Dear Editor,

During these turbulent times exercising your right to vote and making sure you have done your best to cast your vote for the most qualified candidates is paramount. That is why I feel compelled to share with you some of what I know about Kathleen Driscoll and the important work she performs as a Ravalli County Commissioner.

Commissioner Driscoll plays a vital role on the Transportation Policy Coordinating Committee (TPCC). Kathleen is a strong advocate for a bus line that would travel round trip from Hamilton to Missoula. Through the TPCC she is advocating to get a trail built that will connect Missoula to Lolo which is the missing link to connect with the trail all the way down the Bitterroot - this trail will enhance recreational and tourist opportunities. Both the bus line and the trail are exciting projects that will create safe, reliable, inexpensive transportation for many Bitterroot residents who work, shop and see their doctors in Missoula.

Commissioner Driscoll also makes time to meet with seven other Western Montana county commissioners and economic development organizations as an avenue to improve the local economy. The emphasis of these collaborative meetings is to identify and encourage businesses to create jobs in our communities.

I know there are numerous other committees that Kathleen serves on, from the Veterans Center Board to the Council on Aging and more.

My point is that Kathleen Driscoll works hard for you, the people she serves. She has a proven record of being reasonable, resourceful and responsible. Commissioner Driscoll is proud to serve the independent thinkers of Ravalli County. I urge you to make your vote count by re-electing Kathleen Driscoll as your Commissioner. This is one candidate you want to hang on to during these tough times. However, if you’re still feeling doubtful, give her a call for yourself or check out her web site at:

Michele Landquist
Missoula County Commissioner

Fulbright not forthcoming

Dear Editor,

I like Bill Fulbright. I have turned to Bill for help a couple of times and found him friendly and responsive. I am, therefore, extremely disappointed to see Bill's disingenuous responses about his 2003 bankruptcy. After reviewing Bill's email to "Friends and Supporters" of 8-02-2010, his comments in Ravalli Republic articles of 8-04-2010 and 9-06-2010, Bill's bankruptcy filings, and a small mountain of California Superior Court documents, one must conclude that Bill is not up to managing a staff of eleven and a $780,000 budget in the Ravalli County Attorney's Office.

Bill first says his decision to file bankruptcy was a battle over his student loans. In his email to supporters, he says his law practice was not involved in the bankruptcy - law practice bills were paid in full. In his Ravalli Republic interview of 9-06-2010, Bill says he decided filing bankruptcy was his only option when Delia Gomez filed her malpractice suit against him. So, Bill's failed law practice was what he was escaping when he moved to Montana and the primary reason for his bankruptcy. Of the $474,000 in unsecured obligations Bill tried to sidestep in his bankruptcy, $305,000 (64%) was for malpractice judgments against him.

In his Ravalli Republic interviews, Bill said he did not specifically remember the Gomez case, and he was never served in the Larkin case. Gomez got a $250,000 judgment against Bill for professional negligence which Bill remembered to discharge in bankruptcy. Bill was personally served in the Larkin case in Hamilton on l0-l7-200l. Bill never mentions the Cheney case for which his malpractice insurer paid out policy limits on a $l,000,000 claim.

The record of Bill's California law practice is replete with professional negligence, malpractice and sanctions. Does any of this describe what you wish to see in the Ravalli County Attorney's Office come November?

Ken Bell

Support for Foss

Dear Editor,

I met Suzy Foss about three years ago. What drew me to Suzy was her vast understanding of the issues that face Ravalli County, her passionate love for her fellow citizens, her servant heart and her desire to see each and every person treated with equal protection under the law and with respect.

I was one of the people who encouraged Suzy to run for the position of County Commissioner against Carlotta Grandstaff. The differences between the two women is stark. Where Suzy always has a smile on her face and a kind word for everyone she encounters, her opponent appears to be always angry. What really alarms me is that Ms. Grandstaff will make snide remarks under her breath or be downright rude to those citizens brave enough to speak up during commission meetings when in disagreement with the position she and the other liberals have taken. My gosh, she has even publicly called a fellow commissioner names in the heat of the moment.

I know Suzy to be even tempered, with a great and infectious sense of humor. She has traveled the world. She has raised four children into adulthood here in the county. She has been a soccer Mom, experienced the sore hind end that comes from living on hard benches supporting her kids in competitions around the state. Suzy has been a rancher's wife for 28 years. She is a grandma of soon-to-be eight grandchildren. Suzy Foss has started several businesses from scratch, employed people here in the Bitterroot and in six cities around the state, managing them all very successfully. She has served on more boards than there is room to share. She has volunteered in countless ways and never sought glory. Be an informed voter and check out the details at

Most of all, Suzy is an honest, hard working "get 'er done" gal. I am very proud to call Suzy Foss my friend!

Judy Kline

Support for Stanford is ‘no brainer’

Dear Editor,

The voters from Stevensville, Florence, Lone Rock, and all of House District 90 have an excellent candidate in the race to represent them in Helena for the next two years--Wayne Stanford. If you’ve been home at all this summer, you’ve probably had the good fortune to meet and visit with Wayne at your front door. Stanford is comfortable talking and listening to Bitterrooters because he was born and raised in the Bitterroot Valley and has taught many of your children.

Not only has Wayne demonstrated his real commitment to the community through 39 years of teaching here (social studies, language arts and shop), including four years as Principal; serving as a 4-H leader for 16 years; teaching Hunters Education for 32 years; coaching flag football, basketball, baseball, and track; serving on the school board; volunteering with the rural fire department; but he brings voters the added bonus of also knowing his way around Helena. Wayne Stanford was elected from our district and served in the State House of Representatives from 1993 to 1994 under Governor Racicot. A commitment to his students drew Stanford back to the classroom, but while there he gained a strong appreciation for the process of legislation in Montana, and planned to run again when he retired from teaching.

In making your decision of whom to vote for in HD 90, ask yourself who brings to this race the deeper understanding of the valley, its people, its history, its strengths and its needs? Who has a long record and well-earned reputation for intelligence and involvement in dealing with important issues in our communities? And who has demonstrated a genuine belief in and an investment in the future citizens of the Bitterroot?

It’s a no brainer. We all win with Wayne Stanford.

Yvonne Gastineau Gritzner

Secret meetings, hidden agendas, planning and scheming

Dear Editor,

Many people have suspected for a long time that secret meetings with hidden agendas were ongoing between three County Commissioners, Planning Board members, Bitterrooters For Planning, (BFP) (aka Friends of the Bitterroot, FOB - mostly the same people) led by Stewart Brandborg.

A meeting for Bitterrooters For Planning was scheduled on July 28, 2010 at 7 p.m. at the Hamilton Library, a public building. Three uninvited non-members decided to attend, Jan Wisniewski, a long time member of the Planning Board, his nephew, Nick Wieniewski and myself, Jim Canton. We arrived at the Library at 6:30 p.m., spoke briefly with the Librarian, and went to the door of the meeting room to wait. Jan had his camcorder and tripod in his hand.

At approximately 6:45 p.m., Stewart Brandborg showed up. He said, “How ya doin?” After the exchange of hellos, Stewart said, "Whatcha doin’ here?” To which was replied, "We came to go to the meeting.” Stewart saw Jan’s camcorder and said, “You can’t record this meeting. We let you record that other meeting and it was a mistake!” Jan replied, “O.K., Stewart, I’ll put my camcorder back in the truck.”

By now several others were coming and entering the meeting room. Among them was Skip Kowalski, a member of the Planning Board, Lee Tickell, Chairman of the Planning Board, Carlotta Grandstaff, County Commissioner, Jim Rokosch, County Commissioner, and others presumed to be Bitterrooters for Planning members. Other cars were coming by, slowing down to park but upon seeing us and what was going on, sped off. One of the cars fit the description of Kathleen Driscoll’s car.

Stewart, instead of going in, stood there hemming and hawing and acting rather nervous. Kind of like someone caught doing something they shouldn’t be doing. Jan finally said, “Stewart are you trying to tell us we can’t go into this meeting?” Stewart replied, “Uh, uh, yes that’s right, you can’t come in. This meeting is for members only, so you can’t come in!” Jan and I replied, “Well, Stewart, we’re here to join.” Stewart replied, “That’s not up to me.” We said, “Stewart, go on in and take a vote or whatever you need to do so we can join.” Stewart finally went into the meeting room. As other people came we talked to them, asking if they were members and asking them to vote for us so we could join. However, most of these people replied that they were not members!

Shortly, Lee Tickell, Chairman of the Planning Board, came out and said, “I checked with the Librarian and we can’t keep you out, but I’m asking you not to come in. You know, Jan, I’ve been fair running the Planning Board meetings and when people have attacked you, I’ve put a stop to it.” Jan agreed with him and told Lee that he did a good job as Chairman. Lee said, “Well I’m asking you not to come in and I want you to honor my request.” Other conversation occurred and Lee repeated his request to not come in, asking us to “honor” it at least three times.

Jan, Nick, and I saw through the window that everyone inside was putting their chairs away. By now it was shortly after 7:15-7:20. People came out, got in their cars and started leaving. Jan, Nick and I got in Jan’s truck and followed them. Many went to 647 Foley Lane in Hamilton, which is Stewart Brandborg’s private residence, to finish their meeting. We saw about 15 or so cars parked around Stewart’s house, but of course did not try to go into his home.

My question is, why was Jan Wieniewski, a long standing member of the Ravalli County Planning Board, refused entrance to a meeting in a public building with two County Commissioners, the Planning Board Chairman, another Planning Board member, Stewart Brandborg and members of Bitterrooters For Planning? As said on Fox News, Marty Essen, ‘I report, you decide!’ You decide the answer to that question or any other question that may pop into your mind!

In order to stop this “shadow government,” secret meetings, corruption, rotten politics, we must vote out Brandborg’s puppet Commissioners, Carlotta Grandstaff, Jim Rokosch, and Kathleen Driscoll, and the County Attorney, George Corn, on November 2nd. Vote for Suzy Foss, Ron Stoltz, Matt Kanenwisher for Ravalli County Commissioners and Bill Fulbright for County Attorney.

Jan Wisniewski
Nick Wisniewski
Jim Canton

Forget about ‘the greater good’

Dear Editor,

This is in response to “Planning is necessary.” Parsons lacks the true understanding of what is meant by the words “the greater good.” If the greater good is to happen, someone else has to sacrifice in order for this to be effective. Research reveals that this statement refers back to the fact that it is, to quote, “the corner stone of progressive morals and socialist societies.” Those who believe in the greater good only strive to impose their ideas on those who disagree with them. They want to impose their standards on others. We have the right to shape our own lives the way we want to, not forced to comply with what others set as standards.

Our local government has rules and regulations as to what we can and can’t do or have on our properties. It is not a free for all that threatens the health, soil or water of those around us as you have ridiculously stated. We have more than enough rules and regulations now for our valley.

Forcing the greater good and imposing your will on others has nothing to do with showing respect for diverse backgrounds and values, as you put it. In fact it is just the opposite. I lived in a community where a certain ethnic group were not as clean as others. Should you have told this group that they had to clean up their persons and yards for the greater good? It, sir, would have been an insult to their heritage. You have the right to have a meticulous and pristine property if you choose, but you do not have the right to force that on another. If your neighbor chooses to have cows, horses, pigs or junk cars on his, then that is his right also. Should he force you for the greater good to have livestock on yours? After all, it would be for the greater good so we can feed the masses. Who sets the standards as to what should be or not be, everyone has a different idea as to what fits their needs best.

I don’t feel I need to reach out to my neighbor, as you have put it, to find a way to balance our individual rights. Somewhere in that one or two persons has to give up part of what they believe is right for them. Why should we have to compromise? No one should compromise on what they feel is right! My neighbor has the right to live the way that is best for him and his family. If you want strict covenants then go to where they have them.

I never heard the words “for the greater good” growing up, but I did hear them in connection with communism, and socialist countries. Just how far do you carry the greater good idea? Should old people for the greater good starve themselves to death, after all we need to make room for the silly notion that we are over populated? Should we get rid of those who are not as fortunate as others for the greater good, after all they are a drain on society? Should we get rid of certain people because they are a different religion for the greater good? Who sets these standards? Just remember, Nazi Germany did just that for the greater good.

And yes, in November we have an opportunity to elect those who support the Constitution and choose who will be a better candidate to work for our valley and reject those who are now in office.

Dee Gibney

Libertarians more liberal than most Democrats

Dear Editor,

A lot of people have been asking questions about the differences between the Libertarian and Republican parties. I want to point out that aside from the issues of smaller government (no government), lower taxes (no taxes) and local control on issues (no government), the similarities end.

When the Libertarians stop supporting Republican issues they immediately go to the other end of the spectrum by advocating on behalf of same sex couples; why should the government have a say on who can marry whom? The Libertarian party also advocates the use and distribution of drugs “for medicinal or recreational use.” When Montana is in the grip of a major debate on Drunk Driving laws and the repeal of the “medicinal marijuana” law, how would a liberal Democrat vote? How would a Libertarian vote?

On the issue of immigration, Libertarians support free trade, not laissez faire, but rather the free trade brought about by NAFTA. “Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders” and that “…individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries.” What would the point be to create jobs here in Montana only to have cheap, foreign labor be imported to log our timber, mine our natural resources and harvest our crops? This type of globalism would offer the last nail in the coffin for the American economy. How would a liberal Democrat vote? How would a Libertarian vote?

Finally, on the issue of abortion and the right to life, the Libertarian Party takes no position other than the government should keep out of the decision to terminate an unwanted pregnancy and leaving freedom to choose in the hands of the mother.

Again, I ask: What is the difference between the Libertarian Party and the Republican Party? I believe that there are many and that once the Libertarians back away from the Republican concepts I mentioned before, smaller government, less taxes and local control, they, the Libertarians, begin to sound more like the liberal Democrats that they agree with on all of their other issues: unrestricted immigration and naturalization, legalized marijuana and other narcotics, pro choice on everything.

Many of the Libertarian candidates in this valley hope to pull away votes from real Republicans who support conservative issues and American values. If they are successful then they will be successful in getting Democrats elected to the Legislature and other offices, which may very well be the goal of the very liberal Libertarian Party.

Rep. Ron Stoker

Noses are growing

Dear Editor,

In July I read the new revised Subdivision Regulations and attended meetings of the Planning Board and County Commissioners. I have heard over and over by the Planning Board members, County Commissioners and members of Bitterrooters for Planning (aka Friends of the Bitterroot) that the changes in the new Subdivision Regulation Revisions are what is required by the new state laws, that they have been simplified, streamlined, easy to follow, etc., etc. Do not believe it!

State Law required only 20 changes, seven of which have already been done in the old Subdivision Regulations, leaving only 13 changes to be made to meet the new state requirements that were passed by the State Legislature. Ravalli County Planning with Bitterrooters for Planning and Brandborg’s input have made hundreds of changes – most of which are more restrictive and negatively impact your property. I will give only one example:

State Law allows you to gift a piece of property one time per county to family members defined as son, daughter or parents without going through subdivision review. But Ravalli County has put into the revised Subdivision Regulations a whole chapter of requirements beyond the State law requirements. To sum up the chapter, if you gift a parcel to a family member, you are a crook, “presumed to be evading the Subdivision Regulations.” If the County Commissioners approve your “gift,” you will probably not be able to sell the property for three years! But the one making the gift cannot sell the “Remainder” property either!

For example if you own 20 acres and you gift 5 acres to your son and his family to build a home, he cannot sell his home for three years, but you also cannot sell your 15 remaining acres for three years without the sale being subject to refusal by the Clerk and Recorder!

With ever changing market conditions, financial difficulties, tragedies, divorce, loss of job, accidents, sickness, etc., restrictions on the sale or transfer of a real property asset such as this cannot and must not be imposed.

These new Subdivision Regulation revisions have many bad and ugly restrictions that negatively impact private property rights. So folks, you are not getting the true picture. Your private property rights are being stolen! The only way to stop this attack on your property is to vote out the anti-Property Rights Commissioners, Carlotta Grandstaff, Kathleen Driscoll, Jim Rokosch, and their legal arm, the County Attorney, George Corn. We must put a stop to the “agenda” of the small, radical, activist, extreme, environmental “friends” and Bitterooters for Planning under the leadership of Stewart Brandborg. Don’t forget these are the same ones who tried to steamroll the County Wide Zoning down everyone’s throats in 2008, when “We the People” voted and repealed their “Growth Policy” which stopped that madness for two years. In November vote for Suzy Foss, Ron Stoltz and Matt Kanenwisher for County Commissioners and Bill Fulbright for County Attorney. Win one for Liberty and Property Rights!

Vicki Greathouse

Support for Lake

Dear Editor,

There is a clear choice for Senate District 44 in the Bitterroot Valley.

Bob Lake is a Republican and the only Senate candidate with a proven small business and legislative record. Bob has served as State Representative for the past eight years. He is currently Chair of the House Taxation Committee and is a well known and respected local businessman. He has the honesty and integrity to clearly state his positions on the "Political Courage Profile" of the "Project Vote Smart” web site.

Bob Lake, the Republican, a Democrat and a Libertarian are running for the State Senate in District 44. I encourage each voter to review the responses of Bob Lake and the Democrat on the Project Vote Smart web site. The Democrat’s position is that "gun owners should be licensed." The Libertarian did not respond to Project Vote Smart, but according to the "Missoulian Profile" believes there should be "no restrictions on drugs."

I urge you to vote "Bob Lake” for Senate District 44.

Forest E. Hayes

Support for Johnson

Dear Editor,

It is indisputable that JoAnne Johnson should, for the sake of the people of Ravalli County, retain the office of Ravalli County Treasurer.

Her abilities and experience of many years far outweigh those of anyone who would have the desire to assume differently. Joanne Johnson, as County Treasurer, consistently watches out for the people of Ravalli County. Her concern and kindness extends to her employees as well and this in turn works to benefit the people of Ravalli County. It will be to your advantage to re-elect JoAnne Johnson as County Treasurer.

Earla Johnson

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