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Wednesday, May 31, 2007

Opinion & Editorial

Guest Comment

How valley develops is cause of great concern

by Ann Marie and John Carbin, Stevensville

Development of the Bitterroot Valley is of great concern to all of the residents of Ravalli County. A few residents (and non-residents) will profit greatly from development. Some residents will benefit from the development that occurs, and many residents stand to lose a great deal.

The developers investing in our county will realize tremendous profits from their projects, particularly if they pay little or no impact fees to help defray the costs of the services and infrastructure required to support a growing population. And, if these same developers are not local, it is not likely that their profits will remain in the valley.

Local businesses and service providers may benefit from population growth - realtors, the building industry, restaurants, gas stations, even perhaps entertainment venues. But other residents and groups will lose if we permit unplanned growth and rampant, haphazard development. Property owners will be burdened with ever-increasing taxes, schools will be overcrowded and understaffed, water and air quality will suffer, and so will the quality of our lives.

Why doesn't the experience of driving along Reserve Street or Brooks, or Broadway in Missoula bring us to our senses? Why doesn't the report from the American Lung Association concerning Montana's growing air pollution problems give us pause? And why don't developers pause in their rush to cover the valley floor with houses, concrete, strip malls, and big box stores as far as the eye can see? Is it because we have all chosen today's profits rather than tomorrow's clean air, blue skies, pure water, and healthy communities? And what about our children's tomorrows?

Six people are running for Ravalli County commissioner in the June 5th general election. In forums held throughout the valley each man and woman has stated clearly his or her position on planning, zoning, development, and impact fees. Please let us vote for intelligent leaders, without regard for party affiliation, who will protect our valley by demanding fair and adequate impact fees from developers. Let us choose men and women of integrity - public servants who will support practical, reasonable, and effective zoning. Let us have commissioners without conflicts of interest who will treat developers fairly while protecting our quality of life.

"We cannot simply think of our survival; each new generation is responsible to ensure the survival of the seventh generation." (International Institute for Sustainable Development, Winnipeg, 1992) Let us choose commissioners who will protect the interests of the "Seventh Generation."

Letters to the Editor

We are at a crossroad

Dear Editor,

Coleman Pape's essay in the May 23rd issue of the Bitterroot Star entitled, "Where the Heart Resides" is a beautiful commentary concerning his relationship with nature and the Bitterroot Valley. I urge you to read it. He describes his innermost feelings and thoughts with almost a poetic flair, composed of descriptive phrases and idealisms way beyond his youthful years. As I read it, I felt sad to think there is a chance in the future that other youth like Coleman may not have the opportunity to enjoy what we now have in this beautiful Bitterroot.

This is why I feel compelled to write this letter. On June 5th the voters in Ravalli County will be making the most important and monumental choice regarding those who will represent us as commissioners for the next several years. Will it be commissioners who represent the developers and real estate interests or will it be commissioners who are responsive to the will of the people and want to promote sensible growth? Will it be those who serve because of selfish ambition or will it be those who are concerned about conservation, sensible economic growth, while still preserving our natural resources?

I am a life-long Republican. I intend to cross party lines and vote the slate that best represents my beliefs. This valley is too precious a place to hand it over to those whose sole philosophy is that of, "doing whatever it takes to promote the bottom-line dollar." I urge everyone to make an effort to cast your vote for Jim Rokosch, Kathleen Driscoll and Carlotta Grandstaff. Those who stay at home or do not make it their business to know the candidates and the issues will "repent at leisure."

We are at a crossroad. I challenge every Republican who loves this valley to put aside party affiliation and vote your conscience. Let our future generations, like Coleman Pape, have the experience of "counting deer in the field, constructing forts, feeling the trickle of water from the ditch, and fishing from the clean waters of the Bitterroot." Let's leave our youth a legacy for a good life.

Rachel Bartlett

Vote to preserve quality of life

Dear Editor,

Many of us have children graduating from high school on Saturday. Wouldn’t it be great if their first act, after this important rite of passage, was to vote in the upcoming election for county commissioners? Late registration is still possible, even on election day, but these new voters will have to travel to Hamilton to register and fill out their ballot (they need to bring their drivers licenses). The election office is open eight to five, except Monday, June 4. They will reopen again at eight on election day. My first hope is that kids will caravan down after school this week, get registered, and vote. My second hope is that they will choose to preserve the quality of life they have known and cherished growing up in the Bitterroot Valley.

Marnie Prange

You can't make a difference if you don't vote

Dear Editor,

The great number of references to voter apathy in recent elections has spurred me to write this letter in the hope of inspiring those who didn’t make the time to vote previously. I have long been active and informed in community issues and hold the belief that, “if you don’t use your right to vote, you can’t use your right to complain.” Voting in every election is important, but I realized that my single vote was especially critical in the primary for the Ravalli County Commissioner’s offices. So, despite overwhelming hardship, I made my way to the ballot box.

I started the year 2007 on the wrong foot - literally! On December 31st, I fell down a flight of stairs, shattering my left leg and destroying my knee. After radical reconstructive surgery, six weeks in traction in the hospital and six more weeks of total bed rest at home, I began intensive physical therapy to regain the use of my leg. If you did the math, you’ve concluded that this process brought me to April. When I realized that I had neglected to file for an absentee ballot in time, I committed to making my first steps “in public” be those that took me to the voting booth. With the help of my mother and son, I exercised the greatest step of all: making my opinion count!

I have strong convictions about the kind of future I want for the Bitter Root Valley and faith that my elected officials will act honestly in my best interest. Now, in fact, I have already voted by absentee ballot for the County Commissioners that I want to lead our community in the appropriate direction. I invite all citizens to join me in electing Driscoll, Grandstaff and Rokosch. They are principled people who will protect our environment and our assets.

Ours is a participatory democracy. More than a hard-earned right, consider that voting is your solemn responsibility and make the effort to cast your ballot. Otherwise, if you don’t like the way things are, you can’t just say that you got a “bad break!”

Denelle Pappier

Support for obscenity petition

Dear Editor,

I read the most deceiving letter I have seen in quite sometime, "Reasons not to sign the obscenity petition," signed by Marty Essen. I am amazed that a businessman would go out of his way and spend so much time to speak in favor of pornography and obscenity. What does Essen expect to lose? Would he like to see people running around with no clothes on and uttering obscenities?

There are so many pleasant things to observe and enjoy in life, without being forced by surprise to observe or hear tell of someone's private parts.

We just have too many increasingly sick perverts in the world, who are victimizing and mutilating young children, after viewing and possessing pornography. Like John Couey, Jeffery Dahlmer and the list goes on. Just read the headlines of the Ravalli Republic, it seems like there is a new child molestation case every week.

Even our courts are starting to recognize the correlation between sex offenders and pornography. They are stricter than any obscenity ordinance with their pre-release restrictions for sex offenders, which are as follows: "The defendant will not use or possess pornography, erotica, X-rated videos, adult books or magazines such as Playboy or Penthouse, frequent adult book stores, topless bars, massage parlors or use the services of prostitutes."

What if these sexual predators would have been restricted by a pornography ordinance, would this have saved innocent children? If it saved just one, would it not be worth it?

And for Essen to say "the obscenity ordinance is un-American" is a slap in the face to our forefathers and also quite disturbing. Pro-American is to combat all growing epidemics including pornography. Which is nothing less than a perverted image that locks into the human mind and according to history has destroyed many civilizations, and is even now bringing our world into moral destruction. Get your head out of the sand and remember Sodom and Gomorrah.

Marty, I would challenge you to look up to people like John Welch and Chris Hansen of Dateline. Then put your energy in combating the forthcoming perverts who are attacking our children, after being overcome by the very porn you are protecting.

For you to use the Bible to promote and deceive is an ancient trick, you will find it throughout the scriptures and used by the devil himself when deceiving his admirers. (Oops! We best first read the warning about handling the word of God deceitfully.)

Anyone who has children or cares for them should sign the obscenity petition, and question the reasoning behind those who object or make excuses. We are not living in San Francisco, yet!

Larry Rose

Puppets in Commissioners' office

Dear Editor,

Remember to vote on June 5th for "real" county commissioners, and not just puppets. It is quite clear from the complaints against Howard Lyons that he is just another puppet for big development in Ravalli County. If he was a regular county employee with five months on the job he could be immediately terminated while on probation. Unfortunately, because he is an elected official, it will be more difficult to terminate his employment. There is a solution, though, and it can be done through your votes for his opponent on June 5th.

Why eliminate Howard Lyons? Because of his clear and direct ties to the Board of Realtors, and supporting mega-development in the valley; because he is abusing his position by carrying out the requests of special interests; because he is clearly demonstrating a conflict of interest which is contrary to his position. These special interests are all pulling his strings.

The last "why" is that he is incompetent to come up with his own answers while participating in commissioner meetings. I actually feel sorry for the guy, as he seems unable to foster his own thoughts or ideas. Truly, we do not need another puppet for County Commissioner.

Shaen McElravy

Montana info wanted

Dear Editor,

Each member of my fifth grade class is working on a project called "Parade of States." We are responsible for gathering as much information as we possibly can to help "sell" the state. This project is due in the beginning of June 2007.

I have chosen your state, Montana, for my presentation. If any of your readers could help me by sending pictures, postcards, used license plates, facts, products, etc., from your state, it would be greatly appreciated.

Send to: Carson Jennings, c/o Foothills Elementary, 10621 234th Ave. E., Buckley WA 98321.

Carson Jennings
Buckley, Washington

Support for Grandstaff, Rokosch and Driscoll

Dear Editor,

It's not often I'll admit that a Ravalli Republic article has "said it all" so I'd like to take the opportunity when the chance occurs.

On May 2, Anthony Quirini reported that current Commissioner Howard Lyons, whose wife is executive director of the Bitterroot Valley Board of Realtors and who was elected into office last November with formidable financial help from that organization as well as from 23 other entities directly tied to development interests, threatened a county employee he accused of interfering with real estate development, telling "him/her‚ to "watch his/her back." In the same article, Quirini reminded readers that Lyons was the "Wal-Mart candidate in last year's primaries - the only one of four Republican candidates backing Wal-Mart's well-funded bid to force their will on our community."

Notwithstanding that we should have seen such in-depth coverage of Mr. Lyons' financial backers and intimate ties with development interests on the front page BEFORE the November elections, I'd like to thank the Republic in this particular case and ask Ravalli County voters what more do you need to know in order to motivate you to vote June 7?

As voters, you overwhelmingly passed an interim-zoning ordinance that mandated our officials to seriously address zoning and planning. You also voted for 5 commissioners and a fresh chance at ALL FIVE seats. These weren't requests from you. They were hard-won, democratically-sound mandates. In response to your express wishes, the commissioners – including Mr. Lyons – have made their intentions to slice the interim-zoning ordinance to death by a thousand cuts quite clear, including the latest insult of appointing local realtor and U.N. conspiracy theorist Lee Foss to the board that grants "variances" to zoning regulations. As another of a string of bad examples, two sitting commissioners, with the backing of other local reactionaries, have reneged on your directive that they make their case to you as to why they should continue to be your commissioners. In other words, these mandates that you voted for are enforceable only if we have either ethical public officials to enforce them or if we display the will to force the ethically-challenged or woefully uninformed ones to do their jobs.

Unfortunately, your apathy, as expressed by the dismal turnout in last month's primaries, says it all to those who believe in growth for the sake of growth (the philosophy of a cancer cell) and who do not respect democratic processes. As a result of that dismal turnout, a Republican candidate who stands up at public meetings spouting irrelevant "moral" dogma in place of serious discussion while erecting mildly profane and divisive billboards throughout the valley (Dave Hurtt) is now well-positioned to become one of your new commissioners, needing only one more poor turnout from you in June. Howard Lyons can also use your non-vote.

Is that what you really want? Is anyone paying attention? I know people are very busy and the less-affluent among us are struggling just to get by, but it's also hard to overstate how profoundly the make-up of our county commission in the coming 2-4 years is going to have on our quality of life in the coming years and decades.

You have 3 commissioner candidates in next month's election who are committed to reversing the above-mentioned trends. They are Carlotta Grandstaff (running against Howard Lyons in District 5), Jim Rokosch (running against Dave Hurtt in District 1) and Kathleen Driscoll (District 4). They, along with a large, committed group of well-informed and extremely concerned citizens, have worked unbelievably hard to create this opportunity for you. But they can't march you down to the polls to stick up for yourselves.

You either need to vote, or quit complaining about the consequences of your own non-involvement.

Bill LaCroix

Shaw wrong on all counts

Dear Editor,

I have noticed an attempt to demonize and denigrate conservatives and developers and builders. A recent letter by Jerry E. Shaw (Star, 5-16) is a prime example.

He accused the voters of making a "mistake" by voting in Howard Lyons. Like a typical liberal, Shaw doesn't think much of the public's ability to vote. He wrote, referring to Lyons, "... the man is clueless ... (he) is an embarrassment to the county commission, the public, and one can only assume, to himself." Wow, that reminds me of the name callers at school who thought they were better than someone else. The only thing that was missing is the pointed finger and the tongue sticking out. I would rather have a farmer type county commissioner who has a moral foundation than an immoral "Slick Willie" type of liberal any day. (Moses was also slow of speech but he was still a good man).

Remember that Carlotta Grandstaff has championed all the most liberal positions possible including abortion and homosexual rights. (Check her writings).

Shaw indicates he thinks he was informed and says he, "... voted for the initiative proposing to change the number of county commissioners from three to five." He also claimed the "initiative" "... explained that if it passed, the incumbent commissioners, who still had time left to serve on their current terms, would have to run for office again." His information was wrong on all counts. There was no initiative thus there was no such wording. I wonder if he even voted!

Not only were the commissioners and the public not aware of the results of a vote on the five commissioner ballot issue, as the judge found in his research, but it is very plain to see that the information was deliberately kept from the voters to allow the replacement of commissioners the liberals on the Study Commission did not like.

Jenny L. Erickson

Community in Ravalli County

Dear Editor,

In Ravalli County we find ourselves at the crossroads of building real community. County history tells us that the valley has been at this point many times before. Outside business influences have challenged the wit and patience of those who govern, and the people who have elected them. Successful leaders, in exchange for the position of influence, empower their constituency through vision, legislation and firm enforcement of the law: Using a spiritual or ranching metaphor, they are shepherds. Real leaders firmly guide us into something that each of us long for at the base of our spiritual core, community.

The Bitterroot Valley has always been desired for its beauty and bounty. A look into the history will reveal that life for the inhabitants has been turbulent. The early residents were the peaceful Salish Native Americans; they frequently found themselves victims of Blackfeet raiding parties. A few decades after the Lewis & Clark expedition of 1805, their beloved valley was under siege again, this time by white settlers interested in the fertile soil for farming, later for timber, and more recently residential development. The whole valley has endured one wave of development after another, each exploiting its beauty and natural resources with little or no regard for the overall well being.

We should not lose heart at these tumultuous political times. The necessary steps for enduring community involve multiple phases which lead to personal accountability in choosing good stewards of the public trust. In chaotic times differences are expressed often resulting in fighting and despair. It is in this crucible of fire that intentions are purified, where leaders are forged and they emerge to serve the public interest with honesty and transparency. We call this democratic process, it is one way we can rid ourselves of selfish interest and find the higher ground of serving the interests of all valley residents and not just certain business enterprises.

A few visionaries of the past could foresee the potential of Ravalli County but also warned of potential mismanagement by profiteers. We currently find ourselves at this crossroad again. At this juncture will county residents make prudent choices to preserve what is so precious to us all or, will we allow a devious pro-development cartel to make those choices for us? This is our time to make our own decisions and appoint guardians of our well being in the form of county commissioners. Choose wisely!

Who will shepherd us into this “promised land”? It is apparent that the current county commissioners are incapable and unwilling to implement the wishes of the voters for comprehensive planning. Adding three new commissioners with a similar disregard for the public’s safety and well-being will only produce similar results. The definition of insanity is to continue to do things the same way, but to expect different results. For the sake of our valley we cannot continue to travel the road of “business as usual.” It is time for us to start down a new path, leaving the things which are behind, let us press on to a brighter future. Let us pursue a future where the interests of all are considered and where we have true leaders with a real vision for community..

Lyle Pilon

Response to McGrady

Dear Editor,

I am sorry that my letter upset Timothy McGrady to the point where he had to resort to name calling.

I guess my letter must have been a home run. Oh, by the way, how did he get to the Bitterroot without using any "dirty oil"?

Rosemarie Neuman

Time for diversity on County Commission

Dear Editor,

On June 5th, Ravalli County has a chance to elect three county commissioners. In the last twenty-four years Republicans have dominated the county commission. During that time development has proceeded without making sure there is sufficient infrastructure to handle it. We're at a critical juncture. The commissioners need to begin figuring out whether neighbors' wells will be impacted by the water needs of new subdivisions. If there are impacts in quality or quantity, development should be denied or restitution made. Equally important are adequate roads to handle more traffic, law enforcement to deal with increased crime and the list goes on. If, on June 6th, we awake to find we have five Republican commissioners, we can expect more of the same: an inability, or lack of desire, to properly prepare for a growing population. Last November the county voted to increase the number of commissioners from three to five. If we don't inject some healthy diversity into the commission on June 5th, what's the point?

Terry Parke

It's your valley too

Dear Editor,

On June 5th we, the voters of Ravalli County, have the opportunity to make a much needed change in the county commissioners' office. We can have a real zoning plan that will benefit everyone in the county and not just the developers. We even have the chance for stream setbacks to become a reality and not merely rhetoric. This can happen without strangling the building industry and the economy... it is called planning.

At the county commissioners' candidates debate in Florence on May 17th, Jim Rokosch pointed out that unrestricted and uncontained growth is defined as a cancer, which if allowed to continue will destroy everything about our valley that we cherish.

Dave Hurtt favors minimum zoning. I don't think a bare bones approach is the solution to the problems we are facing. He says he will listen to the people and represent everyone and that the will of the people is important. This is the same man who was involved in overturning the will of the people following the election in November of '06. During the question/answer session at the Florence meeting he asked "just who are the people?"

Carolyn Weisbecker thinks one house per two acres means density. I think when we voted for "one house per two acres," that is precisely what we intended. I don't recall any language in the initiative saying "let the commissioners interpret this however they wish."

The bumbling Howard Lyons, who is in way over his head, seems to think that all we have to do is be nice to each other and everything will somehow magically fall into place. He also believes that stream setbacks entails taking people's property away and that they must be compensated for their loss. Stream setbacks would limit the distance one is allowed to build next to a stream and would not deprive them of their property. Kathleen Driscoll. Carlotta Grandstaff and Jim Rokosch are intelligent, articulate people who have a vision for our valley that involves all of us.

Kathleen Driscoll, Carlotta Grandstaff and Jim Rokosch are intelligent, articulate people who have a vision for our valley that involves all of us. Kathleen has already given much of her personal time and effort to make this vision a reality, only to see her efforts be ignored, gutted and dismissed by the incumbent county commissioners who are supposed to be representing all the people, but seem to be more interested in pursuing their own agenda.

If Dave Hurtt, Howard Lyons and Carolyn Weisbecker are elected, I fear there will be no change in the county commissioners' office. It will be business as usual, so if you are not happy with their type of business get out and vote and make a change. I urge you to go to one of the remaining candidate forums and listen to what each of them has to say. Don't vote for someone just because he/she is a friend or a member of your church or club or because you recognize their name from a poster. Go listen to them all and see who inspires your confidence.

Jerry E. Shaw

What's in a name?

Dear Editor,

The "Ravalli County Local Government Review Study Commission" was a long title for four of our local citizens. Three were elected by the county voters and one was appointed by our Commissioners to keep an eye on their deliberations. They were a "study group" and would do their work, make recommendations, and then, after receiving the thanks of the community, fade from the public scene. Sure enough, they worked for about two years, recommended five changes in county government, and had two of the five passed in the November 2006 elections. As a result of their efforts, we are to have five County Commissioners instead of three, and they will serve four years instead of six. That's about it, right?

Wrong! All of us trusting and naive nabobs got a real education in how not paying attention to the details can get you in a real pickle. The "Study Commission" was not the benign group as the name suggested. We found out the hard way that they had more power than the Governor of Montana or its Supreme Court. They had the power to do something that I didn't think was possible in a democracy - they could remove from office three public officials that had been elected by the voters in three separate general elections. Now I would ask you to read that over and then pause to think about it a moment. They had the power nice and legal and they used it!

For those of you who want to see how the three elected Commissioners were given the boot, you need to read every word of the law that established the study group. The critical part as I read it focused on something called a "transition statement." As it turned out, if you failed to include language that stated that the currently serving Commissioners would serve out their terms of office, then they were effectively terminated. Yes folks, just omit those few words and you have removed three Commissioners.

Now we have read that the voting public was fully aware that when they voted for the two changes mentioned above, they were also voting to get rid of Alan Thompson, Greg Chilcott, and Howard Lyons. I have no way of knowing who had that knowledge but can only speak for myself - I didn't have the slightest hint that such a dramatic change was in the wind. After the election I talked to others and found out I wasn't alone. I had heard all three Commissioners speak about the anticipated result if one or more of the "Study Group" recommendations passed and none were aware of their own impending demise. The newspapers were reread and no blaring headlines told us what was in the wind. The "Study Group" had sent out a "Summary of Recommendations" to the county voters and in over 2300 words, there wasn't a mention.

But wait a minute, there was a "Minority Report" on the last page, written by the non voting member. In her report, after over two hundred words, we get to the bombshell that lies ticking away. Here is what was written: "I urge the voters to carefully consider the proposed changes, as some of the proposed changes will trigger a special election in April 2007. Present Commissioners and the newly elected Commissioner will be required to run for office again in the April election." Now I realize that some of you will clearly understand what she was saying. You will know which of the proposed changes will trigger a special election and what law exists that would provide for such a convulsion in our county government. This four-page pamphlet was their great opportunity to tell the voting public in clear language what would result if their recommendations were accepted. Instead, a less than clear statement in the 'Minority Report' was supposed to inform us of the greatest potential change in county government in the past 100 years.

Now what you read is my take on this and why I am a member of the "Gang of Ten." Be forewarned that I may be completely wrong, that I am partisan as the dickens, and that all my instincts may be deficient. With that disclaimer, I think that the "Study Group" was composed of three voting members, two Democrats and one Republican. Despite their declarations that they are non-partisan and it is a false accusation to state otherwise, I think that the appearance of their actions suggests a high grade of partisanship. I also think that the lack of a clear message as to the intent of the "Study Group" to clear the decks of the current Commissioners was calculated, malignant, and deceitful. The only other acceptable explanation is that they were unaware of the effect of their actions and will at some future date apologize to the voters. The only thing that saved the whole situation was the determination by a judge that heard the lawsuit brought by the "Gang." In his opinion, he nullified the termination of Commissioners Chilcott and Thompson and thus supported the contention that the voters were not adequately informed prior to the election.

Finally, is this all a tempest in a teapot and just beating a dead horse? Well folks, we are a few weeks from an election and I suspect that the whole purpose of the "Study Group" was to clean out the Republicans and make possible a Democrat-controlled county government. Now some of you will cheer that and others will say that it doesn't make any difference which party is in power. My take on this is that any group that tried to nullify the results of three elections shouldn't be trusted to clean the streets after a parade, and that if you don't think your vote REALLY counts, just see what happens if you stay home and don't vote on June 5.

Bill Hester

Support for Driscoll

Dear Editor,

Do you know that Kathleen Driscoll (county commissioner candidate) has attended the commissioner budgeting sessions for the past four yeas? This says important things about Kathleen. It says she's not a one-issue candidate. It says her interest in county government is not a passing fancy. It says she understands the process and will step into office ready to productively participate in commission decisions. I know Kathleen will listen to everyone and makes decisions based on strong value and information, not special interest influence. I know her chief motivation for becoming a commissioner is to participate in creating a county government that serves the needs of our valley's families, not just to obtain a job. Kathleen's childhood was spent in the valley. She traveled extensively as a young adult and now, like many of us, she's come home to stay. Help me elect Kathleen Driscoll to the county commission on June 5th.

Katie Lethenstrom

Cheap insurance for water quality

Dear Editor,

On June 5th, the citizens of Ravalli County have the opportunity to vote to protect one of our most precious resources – our clean water. Voter approval to create a Ravalli County Water Quality District will enable the County to hire a professional water quality specialist to compile and monitor water quality data. The Water Quality District will be a resource for County residents concerned about protecting the quality of their drinking water. The cost will only be $9 per year for each household. That’s only 75¢ per month! That is very cheap insurance to protect one of our most critical necessities of life.  

A Water Quality District will not meter your well, restrict your water usage, or enforce any regulation. It will only act as a source of information and a sentinel to look for problems before they become too big to easily fix.

Ravalli County currently has approximately 15,000 septic systems with about 500 new systems added every year. How are those septic systems affecting your well water? There is currently no one looking for the answer. It is time we spent a few pennies a month to hire a professional to answer those questions – don’t you think?

On June 5th, please vote and support the creation of a Ravalli County Water Quality District. Vote YES for clean water.    

Doug Nation

Support for Water Quality District

Dear Editor,

We are health care professionals with sincere interests in environmental health issues in our community. We want to alert you about the Water Quality District (WQD) referendum that will appear on the June 5th Ravalli County ballot. We believe this issue is crucial to local community health as well as area growth and planning, and is of special importance to health care professionals. As doctors, we fully appreciate the critical importance of quality drinking water in maintaining health, well-being and avoidance of many diseases. Unfortunately, as it now stands Ravalli County ground water quality monitoring is left to chance. The responsibility for this important issue resides with each individual well owner and accessible support services are not coordinated or readily available.

We, and many of our colleagues, support the Water Quality District referendum and furthermore support Bitterrooters for Clean Water. This Registered Political Committee is a thoughtful group of concerned Ravalli County residents that includes Theresa Blazicevich, the recently retired Ravalli County Environmental Health Director. Bitterrooters for Clean Water are committed to creating a WQD in order to help protect local drinking water and the quality of Bitterroot Valley rivers and streams for the long-term benefit of our community.

The upcoming county WQD ballot issue proposes a small annual fee for each resident homeowner and business to fund and support a hydrology professional and programs to assist our community in understanding, monitoring and maintaining Ravalli County water quality. By establishing a scientifically sound, inexpensive, water quality monitoring and information system, we all will be in a much better position to safeguard our precious aquifer and our community health.

For example, a WQD will provide early warning of health threats, like arsenic contamination of ground water. It will also develop local knowledge and expertise about our Bitterroot aquifer, and will publicize information about water quality and quantity. Unfortunately, there has been a distressing amount of misinformation about this resolution. A WQD will not meter wells, regulate you or your water usage, or enforce any regulations.

Additional information about the WQD resolution and benefits of a local WQD are available at

We hope that all community members will inform themselves about local water quality and please vote "YES" for a Water Quality District on June 5th.

Frank M. Reed, MD
Marshall E. Bloom, MD

Support for Water Quality District

Dear Editor,

Why do we need a local Water Quality District in Ravalli County? When asked why you should vote to support a water quality district, do you know the answer? Do you drink water? Where does that water come from? What are you doing to make sure your water supply remains clean and not polluted? Do you know what your neighbors are dumping down their drain? Do you know how the chemicals you use everyday, household detergents, cleaners, paints, oils, gasoline, fertilizers and pesticides, can impact your drinking water? Do you know where chemical spills have occurred near your water supply?

If you are interested in answers to these questions, you need a water quality district. Each aquifer in the state of Montana and worldwide is a little bit or a lot different than every other aquifer. We happen to know just enough to know our aquifer is sands and gravels that are very porous. What we pour on the ground or down our drain will end up in our drinking water. We need a water quality district to help us determine how to keep pollutants out of our drinking water. We need to educate ourselves about where our water comes from and how we can keep it clean.

A local water quality district will not only help us answer many questions about our aquifer, it will help us learn how to keep our drinking water clean.

Some people believe that $9 a year is too much to pay to prevent pollution of our aquifer. What would your house be worth if you did not have clean drinking water? What would your business be worth if the Bitterroot River was polluted and no one wanted to live here? What would you do if you could not drink the water, irrigate your yard, swim or float the river, due to contamination?

Preventing pollution is inexpensive. Cleaning up pollution, especially in water, is real expensive. That is why $9 a year for a local Water Quality District is a bargain, a bargain to help protect, preserve and improve the quality of local groundwater and surface water resources.

We already have areas with polluted water in the Bitterroot Valley. Do you know where they are? A local Water Quality District would let you know and help you understand what the threat to your drinking water would be.

If you have any questions about the water quality district, please find the answers before you vote. We all need to work together to keep our water clean. Vote for a local Water Quality District on June 5th.

Theresa Blazicevich

Now it's up to you

Dear Editor,

Well, it is now up to you, the voters of Ravalli County. Will you vote to stop the moral and ethical corruption that has dominated this county for so long? Or will you simply ignore your opportunity, your responsibility to determine the future health, safety and welfare of your children and their children? Imagine, 15 minutes of your time to secure your future and the future of all valley residents. The last election had a 19% voter turnout. That tells me that most of you don't care about your future, that you really don't care what lies in store for your children and that you've chosen to live for the moment and to hell with what lies ahead. In my opinion, voting should be a requirement mandated by law, but those in high places don't want that, nor do organizations that have special interests at heart. In this valley, the truth has a difficult time surfacing, there's too much flotsam keeping it from surfacing. As a result, a person doesn't know what or who to believe. The uninformed continue to gossip and distort the facts and the self interest groups and individuals fan those flames of untruths in the hope that those distortions will influence you to ignore good common sense and reason.

To simplify things, I remind you that there are truly only two issues at stake relative to development here. On the one hand you have a select group (not all) of developers and realtors wanting the status quo left alone. They want to continue the past practices of unimpeded development of this county. They want to do so without any controls on how, when, where and what they build or develop. Given the opportunity they would blacktop the entire valley. It's all about money!

On the other hand, the people who really care about you and your future, the ones who care and value the aesthetic values of the valley, simply want safeguards to be applied to any development that occurs here. We are not opposed to development, but we want each of you to be able to participate in and influence the way this valley will be developed. We have no financial interests and nothing to gain other than quality of life for our efforts. You are the valley! You are the lifeblood of this community. You deserve better than you are getting, the pollution of ground and surface water, the air pollution, the traffic congestion, the overcrowded schools, overburdened judicial system, the high and rising crime rates, the lack of law enforcement protection and the list goes on.

So how do you as individuals sort out the truth? A starting point is to ask the questions, who will gain financially by not controlling development. Who is opposed to zoning regulations and why? The answer is, select members of the Board of Realtors, the Bitterroot Building Industry Association and a number of affiliates of those groups. In October of 2006, the Board of Realtors filed suit to take the issue of Interim Zoning off the ballot, but we prevailed. Then the Building Association and the Board of Realtors spent over $40,000 in their attempt to defeat the Interim Zoning ballot proposition, but the people voted overwhelmingly for it. And now there have been several additional lawsuits filed by developers and a group of political parasites to negate the zoning issue and the study commission initiatives which also passed in the November 2006 election.

There are common threads between the players in these lawsuits and your county government. Practically all of the plaintiffs in the "Gang of 10" lawsuit as well as the plaintiffs in the other lawsuits have fed at the public trough. The feeding trough is continuously filled with taxpayer's money, lots of taxpayer's money, for these plaintiffs have an insatiable appetite. The selfishness and self indulgence of these individuals is beyond anything permissible in our federal and state constitutions, but they and others in this state have weakened the laws to the point where your safety and mine are jeopardized. This election will be your opportunity to change this digression from true democracy. It's time to rid this county of the narrow minded, incompetent leadership that has been entrenched here for so long. Your family's future depends on your vote and who you vote for.

So the reality is there are only three candidates in this election that deserve your support. They are Carlotta Grandstaff, Kathleen Driscoll and Jim Rokosch. To vote for any other candidate is a vote to continue the rape of this county and its values once so proudly held by all. The issues are not Republican or Democrat driven. They are human rights issues that go far beyond partisan politics and you can't afford not to participate in them.

Phil Taylor

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