The Billings Gazette publishes letters from readers in the Opinion section. Here are this week's letters.
To submit a letter to the editor, go here.
Trump fuels demand for gas guzzlers
When I read my Billings Gazette on Wednesday I had to check the mast head to see if the date wasn’t April 1 and not Aug. 1.
In their latest insult to the intelligence of the average citizen, the Trump administration is seeking to justify the roll back of the vehicle fuel efficiency standards put in place by the previous administration with a curious argument: If cars and trucks are more efficient, people will drive more and there will be more traffic accidents!
Really? If they were really concerned with the welfare of the motoring public in that regard, the president should be cheering the increase in oil prices, not something we’ve heard him do. They could also increase the federal gasoline tax, but I don’t think we’ll see any motion in that direction either. I don’t know what’s worse about the grifters and clowns in this administration — their cynicism, dishonesty or incompetence.
Tester has accomplished much
After being deluged by negative ads targeting Sen. Jon Tester, I felt it was time to speak up. On two occasions I have contacted Tester's office. Once, regarding a problem I experienced at the senior housing project I managed, and the other was more personal. Social Security would not release my disability payments even though I had been granted this benefit I earned. Within three days I had my funds after waiting for two-plus years.
Also, I know firsthand the positive changes Tester has brought to VA during his time in office. My husband's care is great at the VA in Billings.
Perhaps Rosendale should quit bashing and pay attention to a man with true grit that accomplishes much because he cares. A millionaire mansion in D.C.? Nope. Not buying. Come on, November.
Pay attention, fellow U.S. citizens
While the world witnessed the incredible rescue of 12 young boys and their coach, and rejoiced with the parents when they were brought out of that cave in Thailand, our own government separated several thousand children from their parents, saying that this was to stop people from coming to the U.S. border to seek asylum. We know now that there was never a plan to reunite these parents and children, hundreds of whom are imprisoned in sites all across the country. Is this who we are now?
As if there weren't enough awful news coming out of D.C., there was Helsinki. Trump met for two hours with Putin in private, meaning that an experienced KGB officer had Trump to himself to plant ideas, to try to forge covert agreements on subjects probably serving the Soviets more than our country. When some members of Congress tried to subpoena the lone American translator in that room to share her notes so that America has some notion of what went on in that meeting, Rep. Nunes and others immediately blocked the recommendation. Now Trump promises to shut down the government if he doesn't get big money to build that stupid wall.
Pay attention, fellow citizens. We are in grave danger. Insist that our elected officials let Trump know that he cannot operate as a dictator as long as the majority of us value our country. Right now, Congress is doing nothing to even try to protect our upcoming election from Soviet hackers. Why? Fairly simple. If we can't stop them, they'll make a mockery of our mid-terms. Do we want Putin as our unelected leader, or are we going to stand against our long-time adversary?
Thanks to motorists who share road with cyclists
Thanks to Bike Net for providing the bike paths in Billings.
Thanks, too, to the considerate motorists who move slightly to the passing lane while I am biking on Rimrock Road. Today, however, one driver obviously thought he/she was being friendly and honked loudly as his/her car was coming up behind me. I was startled; fortunately, nothing serious happened but it could have. That behavior is dangerous!
Williams wants to get things done
So much of the time the loud noise of our politics is so annoying and deafening that we can’t hear anything at all. And then sometimes we get so caught up in the unproductive and aggravating name-calling that we resort to the same and just add to the discord, rather than helping or escaping from it.
How refreshing to go to a local fundraiser for Kathleen Williams and listen to a dedicated lady discussing her priorities and ideas for government with no silly jabs at the opposition, rather, emphasis on getting things done. She did not come off as a Democrat or a Republican, but rather, a lady that really does want to make our government function for the common good. I am going to send her a few bucks for her campaign and then vote for Kathleen Williams.
And if we want to escape from the unnerving noise of politics in the media, we can keep trying to find opportunities to hear the candidates in person. If we can’t see them in person, we can at least look for the articles and speeches they personally author, rather than reading what someone else wants to tell us the candidates really think.
That is how I will make the election season a lot more enjoyable and informative. It will make my one little vote more accurate.
Tester has a track record
On Nov. 6, 2018, voters will have a chance to pick the next senator for Montana. We will have a choice between the two main parties.
The Republican candidate, Rosdendale, won’t say what he will do if elected, but he can tell you what Sen. Tester is doing. I guess Rosendale, the president and vice president don’t know what Rosendale is going to do if elected. Do we want a senator who doesn’t know what he is going to do if elected?
Some of the bills Sen. Tester has authored and have been passed into law:
1. Government accountability Office Access and Oversight Act
2. VA Accountability and Whistle Blower Protection Act
3. Veterans Choice Program Improvement Act
4. VA Choice and Quality Employment Act
5. Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act
Sen. Tester also secured money for mental health services at Fort Harrison.
These are just a few of the things Sen. Tester has done for veterans. He also helped seniors with Medicare and Social Security.
Sen. Tester brought forward the allegations against Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson for his ethics by more than 20 current and former colleagues. This seems to be the type of person that Trump wants to run the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs.
Protect Montana tweens for life with HPV vaccine
For parents with school-age children, back-to-school often means a sports physical or trip to the doctor. You can safeguard your children from some types of cancer by talking to your health care provider about the HPV vaccine.
HPV is short for human papilloma virus. About four out of five people will get an HPV infection at some point in their lives. While most HPV infections go away on their own, there is no way to know which infections will turn into cancer.
You can give your son or daughter safe, effective and long-lasting protection from cancers caused by HPV with two doses of HPV vaccine at ages 11 to 12. If your child hasn’t started or finished the HPV vaccine series yet, it’s not too late. Since the vaccine was introduced, more than 100 million doses have been given in the United States with no serious safety concerns linked to the vaccination.
Each year, 32,500 women and men are affected by HPV cancers. In both women and men, HPV can cause anal cancer and mouth/throat (oropharyngeal) cancer. It can also cause cancers of the cervix, vulva and vagina in women, and cancer of the penis in men. Vaccination can help prevent these cancers from ever developing.
If you need financial assistance to pay for the HPV vaccination, ask about the federal Vaccines for Children program, which provides vaccines to children under age 18 who are uninsured or underinsured.
Mary P. Helgeson
Montana politics and geography
New York Donald has come to help Maryland Matt become a Montana senator. Montana Jon (a farmer) is our beloved senator.
Thomas Van Dyk, MD
Looking at porn in library is wrong
I was at the library today and noticed a man looking at pornography on one of the covered public computers. He proceeded to take pictures of the extremely graphic images using his cellphone. Disturbing. I also noticed a security guard walked by twice and didn’t say anything. I chalked it up to him perhaps not being able to see the screen due to the angle.
Upon leaving, I approached the security guard and told him the situation. He responded that he knew who the individual was and what he was doing. Apparently, this creep is a regular and he couldn’t stop him. His superiors told him that it was his right to use the public computer in that manner.
He told me that last week a 13-year-old girl had complained about the same thing and they could not and did not do anything about it. Is this not a law-breaking offense? Here you have a 13-year-old girl who has the courage to report this terrible behavior, in a public place, and nothing is done. Sad that this person’s right to view porn is more important than the rights of minors.
I am sickened that our public spaces are allowing this type of behavior. According to the rules, as long as the user is not in a teen/children’s area, they can look at this material. Your child has the potential of being exposed to this in all other areas of the library, with little to no consequences to the user.
Tester stands up for rural Montana
Jon Tester, the only working farmer in the Senate, has my full support for several reasons. First of all, for our agricultural state, this is significant because Jon knows firsthand the challenges farmers and ranchers face. He takes our concerns to Washington and submits them to those working on the Farm Bill.
Another time, when Verizon threatened to pull their cell phone service from eastern Montana, leaving all of the rural residents without any other cell phone options, Sen. Tester went to the executives of Verizon and secured continued cell phone service. For farmers, ranchers and their families, cell phones are more than a mere convenience. When farmers are out in their tractors, sprayers, or combines, they need a way to communicate immediately should an emergency arise, and we know that happens — whether it's a fire in the field, a flat tire, or someone needing directions to the field.
In another concern crucial to those who live miles away from larger, medical facilities, Jon works tirelessly to keep our rural hospitals open. He also is relentless and passionate in his support for veterans and their health care.
I especially appreciate the fact that Tester does not always support the president. Our whole country is based on diversity, and it is imperative that we maintain that same element in our democracy, lest we become a nation ruled by one man. No two people agree on everything. Why in the world do we want everyone in Washington to say yes to the president's agenda? It has gotten to the point where too many in Congress are afraid to voice their opinions against anything Donald Trump says for fear of retaliation. Tester is always ready and willing to work across party lines, and he is not afraid to ask the tough questions. Keep in mind that 16 of Tester's bills (including the recent veteran legislation) have been signed by the president.
One of the most effective senators of the minority party, Tester stands out and makes a positive difference. Why not keep such an influential senator who supports all of Montana's citizens as well as all of America?
Beware the 3 stooges
Stooge No. 3 Matt Rosendale: best remembered for his stupid smirk while shooting drones from the sky during his last campaign.
Stooge No. 2 Senator Daines: suggesting that farmers will be great under tariffs in their next generation (most farmers won't own their land then).
Stooge No. 1 Trump: North Korea, Russia (Putin's No. 1 Stooge), and now Iran.
I would go on, but it’s not really funny. The bottom line is that if you are a veteran or know a veteran, or if you have a pre-existing medical condition (who doesn't?), then you had better get out to vote for Sen. Jon Tester. Please don't be fooled by Rosendale's dark-money-sponsored political ad retorts about Tester having a million-dollar house. I'm sure Rosendale has one also. That's probably his caretaker's house he's standing in front of in his last political ad.
Morris W. Hall
Rosendale ignorant of legislative process
In the Sunday, July 22, 2018, edition of The Billings Gazette, there was a lengthy article in the Local & State section about problems in the VA and what our senior Sen. Jon Tester has done so far to address them. Tester’s challenger, Matt Rosendale, offers only lip service that he would get the VA operating more efficiently.
Rosendale obviously is ignorant of the congressional mechanics necessary to put a bill into law. Sen. Jon Tester has sponsored or co-sponsored 16 bills that Trump has signed to improve veterans care. The next step, that Rosendale fails to understand, is that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives needs to fund the bills. This is a time-consuming process over which Sen. Tester has no control and neither would Rosendale despite his blustering. A recent example is the tax cut. It was funded by more deficit spending.
A large part of the understaffing of the VA is the low pay scale. The primary care physicians at the Billings VA Clinic that I’ve spoken with have signed on for a 40-hour, 8-to-5 job to be able to spend more time with their families and avoid being “on call” and “shift work.” Rosendale points to the Glendive VA Clinic being without a primary care physician for over one-and-a-half years. What salary is the VA offering in that case?
GOP used to be responsible
Rumor has it that Republicans in Congress are preparing for another round of tax reform that will take from the poor and give to the rich. Last December, Republicans passed a tax bill that added more than $2 trillion to the national debt. And to what end? Corporations got a fat tax break, which was supposed to lead to increased wages and benefits for workers. Instead, a large proportion of corporate tax relief went toward stock buybacks and dividends to shareholders.
As Donald Trump said to his Mar-a-Lago cronies when the bill passed, “You just got a lot richer.” How sweet it is: Seventy percent of tax relief accrued to those in the top fifth of taxpayers economically, with a whopping 34 percent of tax savings benefiting the top 1 percent. In contrast, on average, taxpayers saw an extra $17/month added to their incomes. That adds up to $204 annually — that our children will have to pay for.
Remember when Republicans used to care about fiscal responsibility? I don’t know what happened to their vaunted principles, but they seem to have been utterly co-opted in fealty to a president whose principal concerns are for himself and for his rich cronies, particularly real estate developers. Rosendale is a wealthy East Coast real estate developer; Gianforte is the richest guy in Congress. They literally are the 1 percent. They must love this Republican tax reform.
Vote for Sen. Jon Tester and Kathleen Williams, who know the value of a dollar and will advocate for all Montanans.
Billings should be more prudent with legal expenses
I would like to thank The Billings Gazette for your opinion of July 23, “Billings’ City Council needs better legal counsel,” and your accurate coverage of the franchise fee lawsuit.
I am one of the plaintiffs filing to stop the city from charging its residents what we consider to be an illegal sales tax off our water, sewer and garbage bills. We had to hire attorneys because the city was ignoring our complaints and requests.
During negotiations, we the plaintiffs asked for no personal damages, only that the city stop the unlawful franchise fees, agree not to impose them in the future, and reimburse our attorneys. We did not want to financially hurt our city and only wanted it to follow established rules and not take advantage of ratepayers.
However, now that the city has brought in private legal counsel, this clear-cut case which could have been easily settled, is morphing into a more complex case with delay and intimidation tactics, such as the recent motion to substitute another judge to their liking.
This private counsel now appears to be fighting against the residents, but on our dime. The fact that the city had decided to discontinue the franchise fees indicates that this fee was acknowledged to be inappropriate.
I ask the mayor and city council members to direct their attorneys to be more prudent with city monies and to settle this case ASAP with the plaintiffs so that more valuable city funds and resources may not be wasted.
GOP tax cuts burden future generations
Republicans passed a tax bill claiming it would give a break to America's backbone, back-breaking working families — those who do the work and manage paycheck to paycheck. Months later, the truth is clear: Big corporations and billionaires take the money for themselves, buying back stock (to drive the stock price higher) and increasing dividends to shareholders. Their employees get modest one-time bonuses or meager raises.
The cost to productive, working Americans? More than $1.5 trillion up front, and $9 trillion when the fiscal impacts are calculated.
Instead of building highways and taking care of schools, your government voted to cut taxes for those with the most money. Your government voted to reduce opportunities and help for working Americans.
That's wrong. And that's why Sen. Jon Tester voted against it. Our kids and grandkids just can't afford to spoil the rich.
Matt Rosendale supported a bill that will burden future generations with enormous debt so that the rich can live better.
Vote for yourself: Vote for Jon Tester.
Willliams too moderate for Democratic base
When Kathleen Williams came to Ekalaka on one of her earliest primary campaign stops, she confessed to me and three other Democratic listeners that she strove to work across the aisle in Montana's legislature. So successful in doing so, she claimed, that Taylor Brown, eastern Montana's Paul Harvey, gave her a big hug at the end of the legislative session. Moreover, she informed us that some Republican stalwarts placed candy sweets on her desk daily.
Flash to today's news, we learn that she has metaphorically blown a kiss to the likes of Fox's Sean Hannity (Donald Trump's confessor) by running a campaign spot dissing one of the Democratic Party's most beloved heroines, Nancy Pelosi. (This explosive piece could become as memorable as the 2017 imprudent commercial of Rob Quist executing a TV set.)
Given that 56 percent of the Democrats in our primary chose to cast votes for bona fide Democratic progressive candidates (Heenan, Kier and Moss) rather than mugwump (google it) centrist Williams, it behooves her to share a wee bit of love for our party's progressive base and Democrats in general — soon.
Proud veteran thankful to Trump
Thank you to President Donald J. Trump for being instrumental in bringing home the first 55 veterans’ remains from the Korean War. I pray that all others in North Korea will ultimately be returned.
As a retired United States Army veteran, I salute Trump for accomplishing this feat. And to do so within 18 short months — remarkable. I want the American public to know that closure for these families cannot be measured. Trump has given them a gift that surpasses anything anyone can imagine.
I also want the American public to know the following presidents failed to do what Trump has accomplished: Barack Obama, Democrat; George W. Bush, Republican; Bill Clinton, Democrat; George H.W. Bush, Republican; Ronald Reagan, Republican; Jimmy Carter, Democrat; Gerald Ford, Republican; Richard M. Nixon, Republican; Lyndon B. Johnson, Democrat; and John F. Kennedy, Democrat.
That’s 10 presidents, spanning 60-plus years with no results. One can ask, why?
Again, Mr. President, I salute you. I remain a proud veteran.
Church opposes planned casino
The neighbors of the church shared a letter with us, notifying our church that the city is considering a zoning exclusion. It is City Special Review #967, Project No. 18-00110. We ask next time that in the future the city send us the letter as well.
The review would allow a casino to be built within 600 feet of our church, in violation of current city zoning. Our church is committed to creating a healthy neighborhood, and gambling is shown to have detrimental effect on neighborhoods. In a 2016 article, the Great Falls Tribune noted that Montana ranked fourth on a list for gambling addiction.
Organized and commercial gambling is a threat to business, breeds crime and poverty, and is destructive to the interests of good government. It encourages the belief that work is unimportant, that money can solve all our problems, and that greed is the norm for achievement. It serves as a regressive tax on those with lower income. In summary, gambling is bad economics, gambling is bad public policy and gambling does not improve the quality of life. (http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/gambling)
I invite you to write the mayor, city council and the zoning commission, or join in protesting this action at the city zoning commission meeting at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7, in the city conference room, on the first floor of the Miller Building, or at the city council meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 27.
The Rev. Tyler Amundson
Shiloh United Methodist Church
Mayor Cole helps with parks
It was my pleasure to attend a presentation today by our new mayor, Bill Cole. It was excellent and he is certainly working hard for our city. I was reminded of a prior visit to Cole's office (before he was running for mayor) in which I expressed concerns about the Yellowstone Kelly initiative as related to access, vandalism, crime, etc. Mayor Cole and a park board member, Tom Rupsis, both listened to my concerns and thoroughly addressed them about some of the negative things that were occurring in Swords Park and at Kelly's monument.
Through their efforts, Swords Park and the monument have become much less littered, vandalism has decreased and the whole area feels much safer and friendlier to everyday use.
Please take time to thank these gentlemen, our law enforcement officers, who are seen much more frequently in the area, and the Billings city parks workers. I urge those of you that may have had a bad experience, in the past, to come back to this beautiful area.
As Mayor Cole reminded me today, the more good people use such facilities, the less the negative elements are able to flourish. Good job, Billings!
Tester fights to rein in campaign spending
As fall elections approach, it is in Montana’s best interest to consider influences that may affect the outcome of said elections. The biggest influence is the influx of money, especially the money of outside interest groups. The donors, thanks to the U.S. Treasury, are hidden from view. The word “outside” suggests their interest is not in Montana, but rather in their own interest. Sen. Jon Tester has never faltered in his fight to remove money from politics, and we need his steadfast leadership in D.C.
The swamp has not been drained. Washington bureaucrats have set the rules to their advantage in allowing rich donors to flood our elections with cash. In other words, wealthy corporations and super PACs have bought them. Tester has relentlessly pushed to improve transparency, hold government accountable, and reduce the influence of money in politics.
He has been nationally recognized for his work to make sure that money spent on politics in Montana, we know who’s spending it. Tester also strongly opposes the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that gave big corporations free rein to spend money on political activity and has worked hard to overturn it. It is worth noting that his opponent, East Coast developer Matt Rosendale, has been endorsed by Citizens United this campaign cycle.
Because Tester won’t bow down to big donors or corporate interest, I will be supporting him with my ballot. I know he is willing to fight on behalf of the people.
Donna M. Moore
Ghostly gathering after Helsinki
It is “reported” that George Orwell arranged for a high tea with Joseph Goebbels and Yuri Andropov after the press conference in Helsinki. The event took place in Hades after Orwell provided an appropriate diversion to Cerberus, the meaty remains of truth, allowing him to join the master propagandist and the Soviet spy master for tea and crumpets. The ghostly, cynical laughter could be heard well beyond the River Styx.
Trust Tester, Williams to work for Montanans
We read about an employee embezzling for years before they get caught. Just clever enough, know how to "cook the books" and, apparently, without a guilty conscience. Seems our state auditor, Matt Rosendale, has proven that he is a clever employee and along with his out-of-state buddies has figured out how to perform some pretty fancy accounting. Campaign financial laws only apply when convenient? Technically legal, ethically questionable, and I know how I'm going to vote with regards to that particular employee. Please see article titled “Rosendale dodged donation limits” (The Billings Gazette, July 13, 2018).
I am enthused about the choices we have this November. We have two good people we can elect. Sen. Jon Tester is a proven entity. He knows what his job is and is not confused by the flash and manufactured chaos of D.C. Kathleen Williams is an experienced legislator who first listens then uses a common sense approach to work with others for a solution. I believe both can be trusted to work for our great state.
Norma J. Sherman
Williams is not 'extremist'
There are plenty of ridiculous campaign ads on the airwaves these days, but the one calling Kathleen Williams a “Nancy Pelosi extremist” takes the cake. I knew it would be a challenge for Rep. Greg Gianforte’s campaign, or the dark-money PACs that support him, to come up with something negative about Kathleen — that is, if it was something true. That charge is not.
Kathleen served three terms in the Montana Legislature. Like the current U.S. Congress, the Montana House was bitterly divided on party lines. Unlike our current U.S. “representative,” Williams did not blindly follow party leaders. Instead, focusing on the needs of her constituents and other Montanans, she forged relationships on both sides of the aisle in order to get things done. She served as the vice chair of two committees crucial to all Montanans — Agriculture and Taxation. The resume on her website (Kathleen Williams for Montana) details the many pieces of legislation she worked on during that period, including bills to support small businesses, bring film industry jobs to Montana, and stop insurers from denying payment for routine cancer care to patients in clinical trials.
We need to send a representative to Washington who can work with Republicans and Democrats alike. Kathleen Williams has shown that she is able to do so. Please read about Williams, go to see her if she comes to your area, and vote in November to send a representative to Washington who cares deeply about Montana and about you.
Trump's next 'deal'
I'm so happy to see our favorite president is taking on Iran as his next negotiation. After instantly disarming Kim Jong-Un and North Korea's nuclear arsenal, and showing us how Putin is just putty in his hands, the leaders of Iran must be excited to negotiate with Trump. How do you say, "Oh, please don't throw me in the briar patch" in Farsi?
Listen to Colstrip's side of things
I would like to know why all of the media in Billings, including The Gazette, refuse to hear Colstrip's side of things. I have talked to many people who have written letters, called the news agencies and it falls on deaf ears. I myself have written several letters to The Gazette and they have not made the letters page, yet they will print every anti-coal, anti-power-plant letter written. I find this paper very one-sided as I do with a majority of the news channels as well. Five dollars says this one doesn't make print either, and I will happily send my five bucks to our favorite writer.
Editor's note: The Gazette previously printed a letter from Richard Nielsen of Colstrip on July 3.
Always be alert for scams
On July 28 and 29, I received emails and voice mails that purported to be from The Billings Gazette, telling me that the credit card used for paying the monthly subscription fee was rejected and that I needed to either go online or call to update information so I would not miss a paper. I used the number that was included in the voice mail message to make the call and very foolishly provided my credit card number and expiration date.
Less than two hours later, I got a message from my credit card company that there appeared to be a fraudulent attempt on that card and that it was being shut down. The lesson for me and for all of us: Don't give out trusted information, and always be on alert for scammers.
CHS values community
We proudly live and work in Yellowstone County. Our refinery is what it is because of our great employees and community. We take great pride as one of the area’s largest employers and understand the impact our tax dollars have on the community.
We thank Yellowstone County and the Montana Department of Revenue. Appealing property assessment values in Montana is complex and requires significant time and effort by everyone. We appreciate the opportunity to come to an agreement.
In 2017, our refinery was valued at $973 million. When you compare that to a similar-sized refinery, we’re valued nearly three times higher, and it’s why we asked officials to review our taxes.
We aren’t alone in our request; three of the four Montana refineries have appealed their assessments. This underscores the important work the Montana Petroleum Association is doing to evaluate the refinery assessment system and enable predictable and reliable budgeting for school districts and refineries.
CHS is a farmer-owned cooperative that exists to ensure owners and customers have what they need to grow and market their crops, including a reliable source of refined fuels products. Everything we do is driven by five core values: integrity, people, mutually rewarding relationships, partnerships and community stewardship. These values have fueled our promise to owners and our commitment to the rural communities in which we live and work for generations. And that will continue for decades to come.
senior vice president