Subscribe for 17¢ / day

Our readers speak out

Some ‘garage sales’ go beyond limitsAs a small, in-home, business owner who must pay a city license fee every year, plus extra fire-hydrant fees, I am wondering why the city of Billings does not come down on all the many persons who are doing business under the guise of “garage sale.”

This is not aimed the persons holding an authentic sale. This is for those persons who hold “sales” on an ongoing weekend basis. They are often set up with shelves, display cases, etc., on a permanent basis. They are selling items that they have acquired specifically for resale. Also, several are operating as “antique stores.”

Solution: Each Monday morning, the city assigns a clerk to enter into a special computer program, all sale addresses listed in the local papers for the immediately preceding weekend. When these persons hit their limit, the computer program red-flags that address. Then these persons can be fined or forced to purchase a license.

These home business licenses are not very expensive, but why should some businesses have to pay and others get away with not paying their fair share?

Dianna Bugard Hinkle BillingsTaxpayers subsidizing sprawl-for-profit spreesThe taxpayers of the older parts of Billings are subsidizing even more sprawl in the West End, even though three inner-city schools in Billings have just been closed in a classic move of abandonment of inner city infrastructure — a typical trademark of sprawl.

The new Billings city budget generously provides for extension of water facilities and wastewater facilities to 56th Street West and to the Yellowstone Country Club area to the tune of at least $3 million.

The construction fee-for-service doesn’t begin to cover it. Even if it did cover the new water and wastewater services that the home builders need in order to ply their trade, it will certainly not cover the costs of extended police service, very costly fire protection and the huge expense of the new schools needed for continued sprawl-for-profit sprees. The taxpayers will generously pay for all of that.

If anyone thought the new West End Plan would put a stop to this continued sprawl, forget it. The homebuilders and developers got to that, too. And why stop sprawl if public works is so willing to continually extend services at taxpayers’ expense? Those million-dollar homes in the middle of nowhere bring a lot of profit, and all the homeless people usually hang out near downtown anyway.

I am one central city taxpayer who is tired of subsidizing homebuilders while the downtown depopulates. We don’t need new homes where there are no services until we have used the spots where services already exist.

Joan Hurdle BillingsPublic use restricted at Fort Peck trout pondLast year, Fish, Wildlife and Parks made Fort Peck Trout Pond into day use only. I was riding by on the 4th of July and thought I would ride in and see how many people were there. Any 4th of July, 50 or 60 people would be there, swimming, camping and fishing. Well, this 4th there were only four people there. One of the best spots around and no one there. What a shame. What a waste. Our government won’t let us camp and use it. Who are they saving it for? They have taken any good spots with trees already. Do they want to make it a pay camp? Do they want to sell it? What is wrong with letting people of northeastern Montana use that area? It is public land. That’s ours, not Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Mike Crater GlasgowPlanned Parenthood indeed leaves a legacyA Sunday Gazette carried an ad by Planned Parenthood extolling the “legacy” left by its recently retired leaders. Those leaders did, indeed, carry on the legacy of Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood.

Margaret Sanger, in her book “Women and the New Race,” made the outrageous statement, “The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” Planned Parenthood has never distanced itself from her or condemned her writings. Rather, they continue to honor her. Her grandson now heads up Planned Parenthood. The legacy left by the local Planned Parenthood leadership includes aborting thousands of unborn Montana children from their mothers’ wombs.

As my mother’s eighth child, I’m glad she didn’t practice Margaret Sanger’s version of “mercy” by killing me.

Don Ryan BillingsStillwater Mine story revealingThanks to The Gazette for the article on the Stillwater Mine that appeared on July 1. What struck me the most was the attitude of the workers themselves, namely their willingness to sacrifice their own safety for a paycheck. Are good jobs in Montana so scarce that we all turn a blind eye to basic safety precautions?

I find it interesting that the CEO was “stunned” at the number of deaths happening in his own mine. Perhaps he should work a few 14 to 18 hour days underground himself to investigate the situation —now that would be stunning. What is truly disturbing about the report is the way the company seems to discourage the reporting of safety violations. Wouldn’t you expect the opposite to be true on a high-risk job site?

If unsafe employee conditions are hush-hushed, it makes me wonder if the environmental safety practices are equally unacceptable. I would love to see this caliber of reporting applied to the ecological concerns that may be pressing in the Stillwater Valley as a result of the mining activity. What else might the citizens of Stillwater County be trading for a nice paycheck? Thanks for the great reporting.

Eric Ramsey BillingsEditor’s note: The Stillwater Mining Co. has been cited for exemplary environmental performance for working with mine area neighbors to address concerns.