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Wednesday March 9, 2011

Opinion & Editorial

Guest Comment

Star free speech policy called into question

by Stan Ginther, Stevensville

Once again, in the Bitterroot Star I read a letter filled with bigotry and hate, this time placing gay people in the same category as the Unibomber, Hitler, and Nero and placing blame on lesbians for all the murders of babies (abortions)! Once again I wonder how much longer is the Star going to print letters filed with vile hatred! In discussing this with the editors, I was told that they felt that every person should be allowed to express their feelings in the letters to the editor, apparently with no regard to how much hatred, vulgarity and slander it may contain. Do people who desire to spread hate and slander really deserve this venue? We have laws and social mores against inflicting physical pain on others ... Psychological pain is often worse and its effects often last much longer.

My feeling is that an editor, as with a responsible mediator in a public debate, should draw a line with regard to certain types of language. Are we not able to carry on a civil discourse without slander and name calling? When a person spews out poison to those around them, it is at least somewhat contained, but when it is published in the paper, it goes into the public domain, throughout the county and beyond, and no longer does anyone have control of where it goes, what it causes, or whom it hurts. It goes on to justify and encourage others with those beliefs to abuse their victims. There are a large number of vulnerable members of our society who are shaken by this slander. Studies show, the most common cause of suicide in teenage males is a result of our society's attitude and treatment of gay people, and our state is a leader in teenage suicides. Those victims do not choose suicide; they are pushed off the bridge by a society that tolerates and accepts the attitudes as those relayed in letters such as the Star prints ... and the noose is put around their neck by newspapers that print those letters!

How many lives are we going to destroy in the name of free speech? Was this truly the intention of our founding fathers ... to protect the aggressors? In most other countries, freedoms and rights come with certain responsibilities, thus there are laws against spreading hatred in Mexico, Canada, and most of Europe. Must we make laws to force people to respect one another? Then again, I must remind myself that we live in a country where the Supreme Court protects those who demonstrate with hate filled signs at the funerals of service men (as the father of one fallen Marine said "We can no longer bury our dead in this country with dignity"). I remind myself that the United States has become a leading protector of groups that set up web sites that promote hate. And, again, I remind myself that we live in a state where the government is currently putting forth a law to prevent cities like Missoula and Bozeman to protect their minorities from discrimination.

Once again, I wonder ... what kind of society do we live in???

Letters to the Editor

Thanks for great response

Dear Editor,

Re: Electrical Blackout

I would like to commend the residents and Town of Stevensville employees for their actions during the power outage on Wednesday, March 2, 2011, and to publicly acknowledge the efforts they made on behalf of the citizens. I commend them for the extra hours and extra mile they went to ensure the safety and welfare of our community. I acknowledge the following:

Denise Philley, Susan Gibson, Chief James Marble, Mike Sunderland, Aaron Henderson, City Councilpersons Dan Mullan, Desera Towle, Robin Holcomb, Pat Groninger, Chris Burgett, Joyce Mikesell, Sarah Monroe, Ed Sutherlin and George Thomas.

The following businesses either donated or loaned food and equipment: Cenex, Super 1 Foods, and Stevensville Hardware.

NorthWestern Energy for their quick response to restoring emergency lines to the Town of Stevensville. Town of Victor for the use of their electricity.

To those who are not mentioned our sincere gratitude to you for your behind the scenes efforts.

Their dedication to this town and citizens is greatly appreciated. The efforts of our citizens are a reflection of their sincere sense of caring and community spirit.

Lewis Barnett
Mayor of Stevensville

Thanks from Burnt Fork Manor

Dear Editor,

The residents of the Burnt Fork Manor would like to extend our warmest thanks to the town of Stevensville, its mayor, police, city workers and local businesses which came to our aid in the recent blackout. There are so many people we would like to thank: the local businesses, which assisted the elderly by provided food, drink and flashlights and necessities, to those in need; the mayor for opening up city hall for those who needed to get out of the cold apartments or simply get a hot cup of coffee; the city staff was marvelous; the police force worked overtime to check on the elderly and handicapped, to make sure they had their oxygen, medicine or any special needs.

While we appreciate the efforts of all, we certainly want to mention Mike Sunderland of our police force who went from apartment to apartment making sure no one was forgotten. He was so thoughtful and considerate. His concern was expressed in his words and actions which are a reflection on all the good people of Stevensville and their willingness to help their neighbors in such a time of crisis.

Bobbie Brown & Diane Johnson (for)
the residents of the Burnt Fork Manor

Risky decision

Dear Editor,

Like many citizens of Ravalli County, I've followed the recent county treasurer drama with interest.

My experience in leadership positions in the Navy and private education makes me a believer in a strong executive and absolute accountability. Our County Commissioners are the executive in the local government system and are responsible for policy matters. In my opinion, electing the County Treasurer dilutes their authority and unnecessarily weakens fiscal and fiduciary accountability. The County Treasurer should be appointed by the County Commissioners and accountable to them. Ultimately then, the County Commissioners are accountable to the people of Ravalli County for county financial matters.

Circumstances have produced such a result. The County Commissioners have appointed a County Treasurer. I attended most of the meetings which led to the appointment of Marie Keeton. The process and conduct of the interviews were well thought-out and professional. However, the decision made was unnecessarily risky. Rather than appoint JoAnne Johnson, the previous County Treasurer, who was strongly supported by veteran Commissioners Iman and Chilcott on the basis of her experience and proven exemplary performance, the three members of the "Class of 2010" chose a less-proven candidate. They are now directly accountable for the activities of the Treasurer's office.

Later this year, there will be an audit of Ravalli County's finances. Hopefully, they will, by that time, have been returned to their prior state of excellence. If not, those who took this unnecessarily risky decision should be held strictly accountable.

One final observation: Commissioner J.R. Iman deserves my respect for his wisdom and courage of convictions in this matter.

Howard Eldredge

Solution for lowering deficit

Dear Editor,

Are you a tea party patriot? Maybe a libertarian or devout Republican? Are you tired of our government meddling in social issues? Do you hate the government’s runaway social spending and the tsunami of public debt that’s drowning us and smothering our dreams?  …Wow, I can hear the booming echoes of “Yes!” bouncing off the nearby canyon walls.

Now I must ask: Do you get any of the following? Medicare? Social Security? Medicaid? Veterans’ benefits? Disability? Unemployment? Do ya get any of those government tax breaks like a mortgage deduction, child tax credit, or pre-taxed employer health insurance? …Yes, I can see the silent, reflective nods now.

So, how much do you love our great country? Are you ready to stand up and take ownership of your values, principles, and beliefs? Well patriots, it’s time for you who despise the endless array of social government programs to take action. The action is simple. The result thoroughly effective. Simply put, you must reject those very same government benefits and programs I named above (It’s a short list.).

Can you imagine how fast we’d balance the budget and erase our crushing federal deficit and national debt? If you hate our government and don’t believe in social spending, how could you possibly accept what you abhor? So…don’t use it! Refuse it! No excuses. You must, otherwise you’d be a hypocrite. And I’m sure your integrity to principles is uncompromising. And once you’ve purged yourself of this government welfare, your anger and our debt will melt away. Problem solved.

Van P. Keele

Patriotism is complicated

Dear Editor,

Why is there so much hate for government? Should every sovereign citizen have to build his own road? Perhaps we could do without roads by inventing hovercraft. But without government-funded education, could we learn enough math and physics to make a personal flying machine? How many of you could home school your children well enough for them to become proficient engineers?

Perhaps we don’t need police enforcing all these laws imposed by government. Laws are the real problem. There are ever more laws telling me how fast I can drive, that I must have insurance, where I can ride my motor toys. Why do we need to pay for police, when we have all you brave patriots armed and eager to lethally defend us from some nutcase with a gun?

Especially onerous and stupid are the zillions of game laws. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is worst of all, always issuing more regulations on what I can shoot when. Getting rid of all those biologists would help balance the budget and take us back to the good old days of robust deer and elk populations, like we had in the 1950s.

Do we really need Border Patrol, air traffic controllers, and the skilled people to manage our rangelands, forests, and parks? —Oh, right, I forgot, we should turn all public land over to the private sector. You say government shouldn’t own land, and that private citizens (patriots like us) can best manage the land. Shouldn’t every person in a true democracy have the right to own any land that he, or she, can buy or inherit, and to graze it down to the dirt, if that’s what they want.

At a fund raising rally during his campaign for re-election, I heard a fellow loudly proclaim his intention to reduce government. He wanted me to live under less laws, so he could do more of what he wanted (like ride his motor toys anywhere, carry any kind of weapon anywhere, build anything anywhere, dig a mine anywhere, etc.). However, he wasn’t entirely consistent. He also wanted more regulation on women’s reproductive rights, what I can smoke, and whom I can marry.

Before we can have less government, we must learn to live responsibly, and we have proven incapable of that. We don’t deserve the freedom we already have. We can’t be allowed to ride motorbikes in the mountains anywhere that looks like fun. We can’t drive fast in a school zone. We can’t build a casino next to a school; but without laws, folks would do all those things. Until everyone drives within the speed limit and stops poaching game, we will need cops and wardens, and taxes to pay for them.

By the way, wasn’t there some early gun control in the American wild west, when a town marshal (and the citizens) got fed up with all the shooting by patriots packing guns into the bars? Weren’t those patriots? How can we tell the difference between a true patriot and a gun nut?

William H. Thompson

You get what you vote for

Dear Editor,

Now that it has been reported in the newspapers of the inability of some of the elected officials to perform the duties of the office that they ran for, here is my Election Day Story. I was standing in line to vote last November. There was a young couple ahead of me. The young man walked up to the table and brought back a sample ballot. He gave it to his wife and told her "all you have to do is vote for everyone who has a 'R' after their name." You get what you vote for!

Douglas Deppel

Where is county leadership?

Dear Editor,

Ravalli Country voters need to do some serious soul searching. Last November, an unqualified candidate for county treasurer received more votes than an incumbent treasurer. The incumbent treasurer, Jo Anne Johnson, had performed the job professionally and without regard for party for the past eight years.

However, as disturbing as it is that voters chose candidates strictly by party (in this case Republican) without any knowledge of the candidate’s qualifications, the real question arises: Where was the political leadership in our county?

According to Earla Johnson’s letter to editor, most Republicans voted for Johnson. Of course this can’t be true: Republican Hudson-Smith won, not Democrat Johnson. But the fact remains that Johnson came very close to winning. This plainly demonstrates that many Republicans informed themselves, crossed party lines, and voted for the candidate who could perform the job. Which begs the question: why didn’t these Republicans come forward before the election and vocally support Johnson so those less “in the know” would have heard from someone they trust that they should not vote Republican in the county treasurer race?

I am especially curious why Republican candidates for other offices and Republican elected officials did not step forward. They all knew Hudson-Smith was unqualified for the job. It was certainly discussed. Yet, there was nary a word from any of them publicly advising voters that an unqualified Republican was running for an office that administers taxpayer money. If they did not know the situation, they were not engaged enough in the running of this county to hold elected office.  

The Republican leadership lacked courage. In a future election it could easily be Democratic leadership. Those “in the know” have a responsibility to “out” a candidate of their own party who is unqualified to do the job they campaign for. Those in leadership positions owe it to the voting citizenry to inform them if “one of their own” cannot perform the job. It takes courage to publicly renounce a candidate of your own party. But, when millions of dollars of taxpayer money are in danger of falling into the hands of a person who does not have the skills to manage and invest it, leaders with integrity will come forward. Unfortunately, the county’s Republican “leadership” failed the test last November.

Pat Tucker

Proposal has no safeguards

Dear Editor,

I respectfully take issue with Celia Grohmann’s letter to the editor of 2-23-11. She perhaps unknowingly proclaims the marketing rhetoric of the Hemlock Society’s prodigy, “This is a simple issue ….”. Perhaps she did not read the details of SB 167 to legalize state sanctioned suicide.

Senator Blewett’s SB 167 hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 9th revealed on the record that as Senator Essmann stated, “Senator Blewett, I see the safe harbor for the doctor, but where is the safe harbor for the patient [individual]?”  

All of the proponent’s proclamations of “My Rights, My choice and My Control” were revealed to be deceptive statements that are intended to entice our unsuspecting citizenry to cut their lives short. There is no safe harbor (choice or control) for the individual in this bill, SB 167, that if in acted would cede our individual rights to the over-reaching bureaucracy of State Sanctioned Suicide.

The details in SB 167 revealed the double speak that ordinary citizens can understand to be a deception.

- Two doctors required…first doctor may waive the second…What?

- Family notification not required. Really?

- Patient must be competent…someone else can speak for you and could over-ride your Living Will and the person you gave your medical-power-of-attorney to. Hard to believe? See Section 2 line 3 of SB 167: “Competent means…the patient has the ability to make and communicate an informed decision…including communicating through a person familiar with the patient’s manner of communicating if that person is available”.

The 12 years of Oregon statistics reveal that only about half of the individuals that requested a lethal dose actually used it. And most of the individuals that died from ingesting the lethal dose were white males with higher education and had private insurance (likely had assets). These Oregon statistics are consistent with ongoing abuse of elders and people with disabilities.

- The lethal dose must be “Self Administered” …self administered is defined as “ingesting”.

So after the lethal dose is in the room there is no individual choice and no individual control. There is no witness required and no consent required. Who would know if the individual struggles?

There is no recourse even after death - Senator Blewett’s SB 167 would establish the legal definition that if the individual “ingested” the lethal dose, the coroner and prosecutors are required to treat the death as natural, no questioned can be legally asked.

We must defend our individual rights from an over-reaching bureaucracy of state sanctioned suicide. See for the details.

Bradley Williams

Opposed to Angel Ln wrecking yard

Dear Editor,

Open letter to Commissioners

This is to request your denial of an application for motor vehicle wrecking facility license at 36 Angel Lane, Hamilton, MT. We own a single family residence at 50 Angel Lane.

Quality of life would significantly diminish with an auto wrecking facility at end of Angel Lane on Old Corvallis Road one mile north of Ravalli County Fairgrounds, immediately adjacent to duplex homes on Angel Lane and April Lane, also adjacent to Ravalli County Council on Aging property where elderly residents may find homes in the near future. Multiple and single family residential property values would significantly decrease if an auto wrecking facility is located in Angel Lane residential neighborhood.

Farmers State Bank branch on Highway 93 north of Hamilton, owns the former single family residence across from Angel Lane intersection with Old Corvallis Road. We would guess Farmers State Bank would not appreciate an auto wrecking yard in that area.

Bitterroot National Forest Supervisors Office on Highway 93 north of Hamilton is walking distance of our home, where Bob worked 30 years while we raised our family at 50 Angel Lane. People working for the Bitterroot Forest do not want this wrecking yard.

Our children and grandchildren brought us to Seattle, and we have rented our Hamilton Angel Lane home to a family with three young children, the father working at Corvallis School as Vice Principal and Athletic Director, and the mother working at Daly School teaching special education. Certainly our 50 Angel Lane tenants do not want a junk yard.

Kathy Hammer worked for Ravalli County as extension agent for 4H youth. The Ravalli County Fairground with its great 4H programs ongoing through the year as well as at the well attended annual fair held one mile south of Angel Lane cannot benefit from an auto wrecking yard along Old Corvallis Road. People living and working between Corvallis and Hamilton would have their quality of life diminished by an auto wrecking facility.

Please deny the motor vehicle wrecking facility license application.

Robert G. and Katherine A. Hammer
Seattle & Hamilton

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