The Helena Independent Record publishes letters from readers in the Opinion section. Here are this week's letters.
To submit a letter to the editor, go here.
Choose wisely in primary elections
Rep. David Dunn's Guest View chastises those who do not "toe the party line." His view is like a horse wearing blinders, only seeing the straight and narrow. The strident "my way or the highway" divisiveness in our country can be traced to many sources: 30-second distortion political ads, dark money and last-minute false attacks on an opponent's character, for example.
Also, Pogo might be right: "We have met the enemy and he is us."
In 2018, the turnout of Montana registered voters statewide in the primary election was 41.61%, while in the general, it was 71.53%. It's the few primary voters in the spring who determine our options for the general election in November. If you don't like your choices, vote in primary elections, as that is where the table is set for the general.
I thank the "Solutions Caucus" for working with the Democratic minority in pursuit of bipartisan legislation; often more resilient to the whims of future legislative sessions.
Nothing worse than a .38 Special, going off half-cocked.
NorthWestern's solar plan raises policy issues
Tom Lutey’s May 10 article explains NorthWestern Energy’s demand charge for new residential solar power customers. I served as the Public Service Commission’s chief economist from the mid-1980s until 2010. I also have an agreement with NWE to exchange energy and donate our annual excess solar energy to NWE.
NWE’s plan before the PSC raises serious public policy issues.
During my PSC career I helped implement federal and state statutes. My experience was that NWE, and Montana Power Company previously, did their utmost to impede renewable energy development. A pattern evolved whereby the utility would seek to recover costs for its resources that greatly exceeded the rates it sought to pay its competitors. This is expected monopoly/monopsony behavior that, if left unchecked by the PSC, is discriminatory.
As an existing solar power producer, the NWE letter sent us indicates we can choose to not be impacted by NWE’s demand charge proposal. That we may choose to avoid this charge is little consolation. The number of residential customers who bypass NWE by means of substitute fuels (wood, gas, efficient LED lights, etc.) surely dwarfs the 2,100 who use solar electric panels.
To impose demand charges based on a solar customer’s peak demand vis-a-vis the system peak demand totally ignores the importance of economic cost-based pricing. Even if it was premised on the correlation to the system peak demand, it is discriminatory vis-a-vis other residential customers whose coincident-peak demand is not demand metered.
Democrats ignore issues, push impeachment
You don’t have to be a fan of President Trump’s to see that House Democrats are playing into his hands — assuring his 2020 reelection.
The mantra “Congress has a duty to the American people to get the facts” (Boston Globe editorial a month ago) sounds noble. But Trump’s weep of unfair treatment will grow stronger in all the red states so long as House Dems waste time and money seeking “the little man who wasn’t … isn’t … there.”
You would think Democrats could make a case for replacing Trump based on their big issues: national health care, living wage for all, improved international relations and (not theirs, but should be) cleaning up the inner cities by providing increased youth job training and opportunity.
Let’s beat the impeachment drum, though it leaves a sound akin to “one hand clapping.”
In sum, the Dems might as well be campaigning for Trump.
Certainly, their behavior makes a strong case for congressional term limits.
Helena must protect wildland gems
At Helena’s backdoor are two wildland gems: the Lazyman and the Jericho Inventoried Roadless Areas (IRAs).
The city of Helena has been asked by the Helena National Forest:
• to oppose Helena Hunters and Anglers and Montana Wildlife Federation efforts to retain the roadless character of these areas, and
• to support logging in the IRAs as part of the Tenmile-South Helena (TSH) Project.
Roads that have naturally reclaimed themselves would be reconstructed then administratively closed, but new road beds would remain.
HHAA and MWF have filed suit to protect these roadless areas in the face of the enormous TSH logging project, and in the wake of many other projects that have already occurred in this area.
Within the IRAs we support creating private land buffers and burning that does not require heavy equipment. Of the more than 17,000 acres of treatments in the 60,000-acre project area, we oppose the planned use of heavy equipment on 3,200 acres within the IRAs.
In 1988, the Lazyman IRA was awarded wilderness status by Congress, but the bill was pocket-vetoed by President Reagan. However, its wild character still remains.
Please Helena, keep these wild diamonds in the rough, for all of us.
Governor's failure to protect free speech is heartbreaking
In response to recent reports that Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed a bill meant to protect free speech and peaceful demonstrations in outdoor areas on college campuses, I am outraged! House Bill 735 would have ended free speech zones on college campuses, which restrict students' expression to small, often secluded areas.
I testified alongside several young people from various colleges across Montana in favor of this bill. These individuals and the students they represent deserve to be able to freely express themselves and their views on campus. It is heartbreaking to see that the governor neglected to consider the injustices these students have experienced on their campuses. I volunteer for Americans for Prosperity -- Montana, an advocacy group that supported this bill.
All welcome at free community event
Free event in Helena, Montana. Come for lunch, check out local resources, watch the movie "Resilience," or just stop and say hi. A healthy community includes everyone. Block Party on the 100 block of North Rodney, May 25th, noon to 4. We would love to see you there!!
Have you ever heard, "It takes a village to raise a child?" I would bet even if you have, you might wonder how that is actually possible since we are our own individual, and do not see the place in imposing ourselves in the lives of others. The reality is, when we do nothing, the ripple effect of lost connection becomes our worry whether we want it or not. Montana leads the nation in suicides, and children entering the foster care system. Please consider how you might give a hand up to the generations that surround you. Mental health plays a role in all of us, and we can improve our community by being a caring person to those around us. We do not need to be the judge, we do not need to sacrifice our boundaries, we only need to be present, and kind! May is Mental Health Month. Practice kindness!
Bullock should step down and chase his folly
Montana Governor Steve Bullock becomes Mr. 22 in the race for the Democratic presidential sweepstakes. Since he’ll be spending most of his time out of state, he should do the honorable thing and immediately resign as governor. A politician cannot serve two masters, so he should put down his veto pen and chase his folly. Resign now, governor. Let the rest of us get on with taking care of the Treasure State.
Colorado school ignored signs of impending shooting
The minimal coverage the IR gave the school shooting in the Denver area STEM school (on page 3!) left out many details about the event.
For example, NBC.com reports: “Documents obtained by NBC affiliate KUSA show that a parent warned school officials of 'a repeat of Columbine' months before shots were fired Tuesday afternoon.” This parent expressed concerns about the “extremely high drug culture” and “student violence” and bullying. This parent called it a “perfect storm” and was worried that students who are prone to “copy-catting” would repeat Columbine.
The school had more direct evidence that something was about to happened, as the 18-year-old who opened fire at the school had a history of bullying younger kids and joking about shooting up the school.
Undoubtedly, there will be many loud calls for gun control in the wake of this tragedy, but the real tragedy is that school officials ignored the culture in the school that fermented these attitudes, ignored obvious signs of impending violence, and ignored the fact that once again a shooting has occurred in a “gun-free” zone where no one was armed and able to defend the students.
Helena traffic layout is outdated
Helena is holding to outdated regulations that do not apply to its unique layout, constricted by mountains. It routes east/west traffic on only a few streets to and from the west exit, Highway 12 West. It allows semis and belly dumps on residential streets. It should direct semi traffic that is not making delivery over arterials only.
These are observations, surmises, guesses.
Let Cedar and Main to Euclid carry commercial large truck traffic. Let Henderson carry the sand/construction.
Large truck right turning lanes at the top of Henderson. Left turning lanes at both ends.
Route Fort Harrison, emergency traffic to Henderson or Brady.
Peosta was built for through traffic. Two blocks of construction for a feeder off Henderson to Country Club Lane. Possibly make it a two-lane, one-way and pair it with Leslie or Wilder.
Let one-way street pairs north of Euclid funnel traffic through to Highway 12.
Build out near beginning of Franklin Mine road, to point at Fort Harrison where Birdseye turns west. A wide turning point for military and construction traffic coming from areas north of Franklin Mine.
An enormous amount of traffic gone from Green Meadow, McHugh, and Custer, on down the line.
Kathleen Curd Rau
Surprised by veto of campus free speech bill
The Montana legislative session is over for 2019. The Montana House and Senate had a grand ol’ time hashin’ and passin’ and rejectin’ bills. One that surprised me was campus free speech. Campuses have been limiting where you can discuss things. God forbid if somebody has to listen to something they don't agree with. The free speech bill would ensure your First Amendment rights on campus. It passed the House and Senate. But it seems our governor feels the First Amendment is enough. If that were so, then why do universities have limited zones to speak in?