Voice of the reader

2000-12-16T23:00:00Z Voice of the reader The Billings Gazette
December 16, 2000 11:00 pm

Our readers speak out

Fund-raiser contributors thanked for hard work, help

letterpolicy Letters to the editor must contain the signature of the author, the writer’s street address and work and/or home phone numbers. Maximum length is 300 words. The Gazette reserves the right to edit letters for clarity, conciseness, taste, and to prevent libel. Signed editorial columns appearing on the Opinion page and letters appearing in the Voice of the Reader columns do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Billings Gazette. Send your letters By mail to: P.O. Box 36300 Billings, MT 59107-6300 By fax to: (406) 657-1208 Or by e-mail to: speakup@billingsgazette.com

Jerry Williams, Law Enforcement Torch Run director, and Hootie Platt, Special Olympics Montana special events coordinator and I would like to acknowledge the generous spirit of the Billings and Red Lodge law enforcement and friends during the Red Lodge Law Enforcement Torch Run Holiday Dip polar plunge in Red Lodge on Dec. 2. Winston Church said, “We make a living by what we get, and we make a life by what we give.”

Billings Police Sergeant Ken Dove and Red Lodge Police Chief Richard Pringle accompanied by Carbon County Sheriff Luke Schroeder shared their time and energy to organize the Holiday Dip Parade and Holiday Dip polar plunge to benefit Special Olympics Montana (SOMT) athletes. The results of their efforts raised over $7,000 in cash and in-kind services to support year-round sports training and competition for Montana's athletes. The event fulfilled the mission of the Law Enforcement Torch Run to raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics.

Our thanks to each Holiday Dipper: Pringle and Sheriff Luke Schroeder from Red Lodge; Dove, Bill Kennedy, Deputy Tanna Skillen, Deputy John Smith, Alice Carpenter Stacy James, and officers Scott Hicks and Joe Kirland from the DEA and Anna Rau from KTVQ 2 from Billings; Officer Jerry Williams from Butte; Misty Rains and Cindy Torbert from Laurel; John Tompkins from Tire-Rama in Bozeman; Julie Pietroske from ShopKo Corporate headquarters in Green Bay, Wis.; Dala Steward from Oregon law enforcement and Bob Norbie and Hootie Platt from SOMT in Great Falls.

A special thanks to the following for their support and assistance: Red Lodge Fire Department, Montana Hot Springs Spa, Dawn Patrol from FM 99 the Mountain, KTVQ 2, Sylvan Peak Mountain Shop, Rocky Fork Graphics, diver Richard Millard, B104, K Bear 98.1, Cat Country, Fichtner Chevrolet, Three Rivers Wireless, MP&E Rental, Shipton's Big R, Perkins of Billings, Pierce Mobile Homes, Red Lodge Chamber of Commerce, Carbon County News, Billings Gazette, Beartooth Wagon Rides, Tire-Rama/Cooper Tires, Artist David McGee, Paige Ochenrider, Donna Oftedahl, Lazy E L Ranch, AT&T Broadband, Episcopal Church of Red Lodge, ShopKo Stores and Tidyman's/County Market Stores.

Stacy James Yellowstone Area director Billings

State’s mining companies should clean up own mess

Re: cleaning up old mine sites, whatever they were, precious metals or plain old gravel. The DEQ requires far too little for the bonding of these businesses. It seems no matter the bond amount, the companies don’t want to let loose of a penny. Example: The CR Kendall Mine. They took millions out of the ground, destroyed downstream water and now don’t think they should be responsible for a complete clean up. They say they can do it for less than DEQ. What are their standards of cleanup?

Even around Billings you can see where the gravel pits have been. Companies come in and rape the ground and, in many cases, leave behind an unusable piece of property. A big hole in the side of a hill or a pond of water for children to drown in. The ponds they call a wetland area. Well, we have plenty of wetland in this country – the Yellowstone River. Mining companies can change the flow of groundwater, create cones of depression thus dewatering neighboring wells and take a beautiful piece of ground and leave behind ugliness.

I wonder how many cases there are like Kendall – where the taxpayers end up paying to clean up these messes the mining company says they can’t afford to clean up? What were the profits they took out of the ground?

In the next 10 years, I can see that happening in several areas in Yellowstone County – the Lockwood area to be exact.

Take a drive around the county and see the ugliness and sometimes the pollution left behind for you and me to enjoy.

Sandy Weiss Billings

Science shouldn’t be hostage to superstitions

With all due respect to the wit, humor and intelligence of John Potter's Saturday morning column, his Oct. 28 piece on the Kennewick Man begs for a response.

The remains of this man should be studied by scientists. That there is some elite group of scientists, deeming themselves “close to God,” pushing some political agenda in this affair is ridiculous.

The notion that the Siberian land bridge is a “crock of hooey” or that the definition of “Native Americans” is part of a scientific conspiracy to degrade the indigenous peoples of this continent reek of the same kind of contemporary myth – one often touted by Potter – that would portray Europeans as the sole authors of cruelty and exploitation on an otherwise placid America.

The genocidal butchery of rival societies in the central valley of Mexico, where high priests would cut out hearts of live victims in lines miles long, day and night, to the point of exhaustion, as a means of subjugation and control, rival anything conjured up by the Europeans, who hadn't yet arrived on the continent.

No one is to blame for the failures of our ancestors. The primitive world was harsh and barbaric. Brute power and exploitation is what politics once consisted of, whether in Europe or in America. It was with the application of reason and logic that we devised constitutional contracts that protect us from one another.

Science has given us far more than it has taken away – by any measure. Most of us, whether we admit it or not, are alive today because of scientific progress, not in spite of it. An unbiased pursuit of truth is something all people can benefit from.

Must we forever be held hostage to the superstitions of our ancestors? It's just plain silly to think that these 9,000-year-old bones need additional rest. Personally, I'm curious about who this man was and where his people came from, and I don't think he would care if we now examine him to find out.

Lee Kern Red Lodge

Gore’s getting what he deserves

During the recent campaign, Al Gore used armed police to keep Ralph Nader from even sitting in the audience in the engineered “debates.” It was a cowardly act and a totalitarian slap in the face.

Now Gore is on the receiving end of the slap – George Bush and company are stealing the presidency from him as we watch incredulously. Can this be happening? Can no one stop it? The Miami Herald estimates that Gore probably won Florida by 23,000 votes, but those are votes will not be counted. It’s a coup d état.

I’m getting e-mails now asking me to help to rally for poor Al, now that he is on the receiving end of the totalitarian slap. This from people who cared not a whit when their guy Gore stiffed Nader. Sorry, folks. It’s a corrupt system, but it’s the one you chose for yourselves. I’ll think I’ll pass on the save-Al rallies and stuff, but thanks for the invite.

Mark Tokarski Billings

Deadline not as important as the right to vote

It seems to me that one main issue is being overlooked in this election controversy, i.e. does this all boil down to an infringement on the right to vote (guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution)? In order to vote, an individual must cast a vote and the vote must be tabulated. Opposition to either is an infringement on the right to vote.

In Florida, it seems to me that antiquated equipment made accurate tabulation of votes impossible. If the courts would see this debacle as a “right to vote” issue, it seems to me that deadlines (which also could be construed as infringing on the right to vote) would pale in importance to guaranteeing one of our most sacred institutions.

Sam V. Boor Wolf Point

Business owner thankful tax is up for a vote

I know it is early, but the citizens will get to vote on the regressive 4 percent sales tax Mayor Tooley and the City Council enacted on our phone, gas and electric service.

Many thanks to the Chamber, Realtors, homebuilders, Montana Taxpayers Association and all the others for the outstanding effort in getting thousands of signatures to put this issue on the ballot.

I live outside the city, but our family business is in the city; therefore I will be subject to paying this tax as well.

I’m glad the taxpayer will have the last word on whether they can afford another tax hike after all the other tax and fee increases we have recently experienced.

Sandy Graham Billings

Echoes of 1960 election in current political problems

A memo for aged and aging political junkies:

In the current mess, do you remember the 1960 election when John Kennedy beat Richard Nixon in another cliff-hanger?

As I write this, some deep thinkers among today’s pundits do. Stalling for something to happen, they even rehash the old story that voting hanky-panky in Illinois may have had something to do with it.

It didn’t. In 1960 the trigger-happy networks had begun playing around with exit polling and projections, eager to be the first to tell us who won.

But in 1960 they didn’t. America woke up the next morning still wondering. Kennedy was ahead, but didn’t have quite enough electoral college votes.

Enter my employer, The Associated Press. I was AP bureau chief in Minneapolis, where we were still counting Minnesota votes, like other too-close-to-call states.

Minnesota’s nine electoral votes would be enough to elect Kennedy. Shortly before noon we had rounded up enough straggling numbers to convince us Kennedy was in.

So at a moment I’ve not forgotten – 11:23 a.m. our time – we filed a bulletin from Minneapolis saying Kennedy had won Minnesota and the presidency.

It was like touching off a row of dominos. Within 10 minutes Nixon conceded gracefully. President Eisenhower went on the air to congratulate Kennedy. And minutes later Kennedy thanked the country.

I know it was the AP bulletin that convinced Nixon. Years later he told me so in person.

I just remembered another domino. After we cleared the story, a couple of us slipped out to a nearby reporters’ hangout for a quick shot of nerve medicine. When we came back, Newsweek was on the phone. Who made the call, the reporter asked.

We did, I said, a few of us close to the figures. Yes, the reporter insisted, but who actually decided? “If it turns out to be wrong, you’re talking to him,” I said. I still have the Newsweek piece.

George Moses Nye

Stream access law infringes on property rights

The person confused about the stream access issue is Sen. Al Bishop (Nov. 28 letter). Prior to the stream access law, the access that had always been available for public use was public lands, navigable streams and private land when permission was requested and given. The stream access law granted access to non-navigable streams, “private land,” that had never been available for public use without the landowner’s permission. Yes, some landowners put up “No Trespassing” signs, but in most cases permission to fish was given when requested.

Non-navigable streambeds on private property are included in the legal land description, and taxes are still being paid on that property by the landowner. People should not expect rights without responsibility. The right to the enjoyment and privacy of private property comes along with the responsibility to pay for the land, pay the taxes, spray for noxious weeds and other unknown liabilities.

I will always defend the sportsman’s right to hunt and fish in the state of Montana, but not without permission on private land. The sportsmen of Montana are on shaky ground when they deny the landowner’s rights given under Article V of the Constitution that states “ … nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation” when at the same time they are defending their right to own guns given to them under Article II that states “… the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Which way do we want it? Should the Constitution be upheld or should we allow it to be eroded until none of us have any rights? I vote that the entire Constitution be defended.

Carol Willis Billings

Facts vs. myths on right-of-way fee

Myth: The Alternative Revenue Committee (ARC) voted for the right of way fee.

Fact: The written record of the ARC, at the City Clerk’s office, was for a “public relations” position created from within the city of Billings’ current staff

Myth: We need this to manage our right of ways.

Fact: The city of Billings has a permitting process already in place to monitor construction, expansion, and replacement.

Myth: This is a rental fee.

Fact: This is a sales tax. “Sales tax” as defined by Merriam Webster’s collegiate dictionary: “a tax levied on the sale of goods and services that is usually calculated as a percentage of the purchase price and collected by the seller.” The city’s calculation is based on 4 percent of gross revenues of the utility company to be collected by the utility and remitted to the city of Billings general fund.

Myth: Other states charge right of way fees.

Fact: Yes, other states do charge right of way fees; however, the fee appears to be 1 to 2 percent versus the city of Billings’ 4 percent. Some of the other states do not have personal and corporate income taxes versus Montana’s already high tax rates. The other states also have a statewide general sales tax to spread the tax base.

Myth: The city of Billings needs more revenue.

Fact: The city of Billings should not sign contracts with the police and fire departments, which are unfunded the day they are negotiated. The city of Billings needs to get a handle on its expenditures – just like the citizens and businesses need to when times get tough and arbitrary sales taxes are placed on the people without a vote.

Please hold the mayor accountable for his words. The citizens of Billings are not liars and spreading untruths.

Jeffrey D. Leuthold Billings

Taxes siphon off hard-earned cash

With the new utility and phone sales tax I realized we have enough taxes to spell PIGS twice:

1. (P) Personal Property Tax, (I) Income Tax, (G) Gas Tax, (5) Sales Tax on our Utilities and Phone Service. That spells PIGS once.

2. (P) Property Tax, (I) Inheritance Tax, (G) Gambling Tax, (5) Severance Taxes. That spells PIGS Twice.

It is no wonder we are broke all the time with all our money going into the trough.

Vincent Fiscus Billings

Thief ruins Christmas for this Montana family

Merry Christmas to the low-life, scum-sucking bottom-dwellers who broke into my mother-in-law’s vehicle at the Target parking lot. You no doubt felt you were justified in stealing the recently purchased collection of gifts for which she had scrimped and saved all year.

Please do enjoy the various electronics she purchased at Costco, and I’m sure you will particularly like the intricate collection of knick-knacks and crafts we spent the better part of a morning hand-picking at Michaels (I know her grandchildren certainly would have).

Oh, and let’s not forget the rear-side window you shattered to gain access to the things that still do not belong to you. At this point, I only hope that others in this area do not fall victim to your irresponsible, cowardly actions. As for us, we will get by, but our holiday season is already over. May you sleep in heavenly peace.

Kathie Jewell Billings

Columnist wrong about chiropractors

I had a problem with Dr. Peter Gott's column. I work in a chiropractor's office and I have read many articles from medical doctors and chiropractors. I don't have a problem bringing my own child in to see the chiropractor when she is sick. He knows exactly what to do. We have many families who bring their children in and, let me tell you, these kids do not get as sick or stay sick as long as other children who do not come to a chiropractor’s office.

Gott had no right to say the things that he did. So he talked to a former ACA president. The ACA only makes up 15 percent of all chiropractors in the country. Not real good statistics. Maybe he should have talked to a few others. Gott needs to check into things a little better before he starts in on other healthcare professions. He also should have asked or checked to see if the past president ever had his children given a chiropractic adjustment at any time in their lives or if he knows anyone who had their children adjusted. If he has ever had a chiropractic adjustment, he would not call them dumb. I used to go to medical doctors, and all they did was give me something to mask the pain instead of helping me find the cause. My chiropractor has helped me by teaching me a healthier lifestyle.

My daughter had a temperature of over 101 degrees and the chiropractor gave her an adjustment and within hours it had went down to 99.4 degrees and I had not given her any Tylenol that we are told by doctors to give. She was 100 percent better in just six hours.

For me, that is wonderful. My daughter does not like to be sick and neither do I. So when she or I get sick again, I know where I will be taking her, and that is to my chiropractor.

Brenda Powell Glendive

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