Lack of trust in officials
Like everyone else, I have grown accustomed to fatuous and patently false statements from public officials, but seldom if ever have I read one more foolish and dishonest than that made by Eric Sell, director of communications for the Montana Department of Justice, quoted in The Inter Lake May 8. Not only does Sell say that the plea agreement between his office and Flathead County Commissioner Phil Mitchell has the approval of the Flathead County Parks Department and that it is consistent with Montana law — both true statements but beside the point — but he personally attacks Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry, inferring motives nowhere indicated in the sheriff’s explicit comment about the plea deal: “I thought the state would hold [Mitchell] more accountable for his actions. The public expects transparency, and resolutions in this case may deter the public trust in their officials.”
Then — ironically and with incredible chutzpah — Sell asserts that his office does not involve itself in personal disputes, nor let itself be affected by politics. Anyone with an ounce of sense can spot at once what malarkey, what hogwash, what drivel those two assertions are. Our county sheriff’s observation stands: to the public the plea deal appears as exactly what it is, special treatment for a county official who has long demonstrated his notion that his office endows him with privileged status that puts him above the law; and both in appearance and in fact such special treatment undermines the public’s trust in their officials. Sell’s defense of the plea agreement further undermines that trust, confirming for the public once again that we are correct in the low regard we have for most government officials. —Lee W. Smith, Somers
Mitchell is good man
I met Mr. Mitchell shortly after he’d moved to Whitefish as he was doing furniture refinishing. The antique table was done beautifully, and the fee was modest for us.
Phil and his wife have been an asset to our community. They’ve raised two children to be good citizens and can be proud of their family.
Phil dedicated years of service to Whitefish as an active member of our City Council. He was always open to consider all options and offered good ideas on financial issues as well as other topics which were important to citizens in our community.
When he was charged with severely damaging trees in the county park, he promptly acknowledged the crime. He admitted he had made a mistake and offered a generous amount of money to cover replacement.
The sentence proposed to Judge Robert Olson seems reasonable — fine and $16,000 restitution. Sheriff Chuck Curry expressed his disappointment over it; however, he need not worry the public trust of officials may be deterred by this.
Many people in our county know Phil through his service as our commissioner. We can count on him to search out the facts, then his willingness to express his opinion. You may or may not agree with him, but you can appreciate his honesty.
I would like to meet the person who has never made a mistake that affected others. I’m sure Phil will accept the consequences. Then, I hope all can be forgiven. —Janet Collins, Whitefish
Mitchell should resign
How discouraging and disappointing to read the story of the slap on the wrist being given to Flathead County Commissioner Phil Mitchell.
Not only did he willingly and wittingly destroy public property but managed to cut a deal for a fine of $16,000.
It will cost the taxpayers $30,000 to clean up his mess. If Mitchell had even a modicum of decency, he would do the following:
1. Resign immediately so we taxpayers aren’t further burdened by paying his salary and benefits.
2. Pay the $30,000 clean up fee as well as the mere $16,000 fine.
3. Plant 10 cottonwoods to replace the ones he killed and volunteer to tend to the trees on a daily basis until he realizes the hundreds of years of tree growth he purposely destroyed.
Talk about draining the swamp in Washington; how about the one in Flathead County? —Jane Nelson Ott, Kalispell
Hold Mitchell accountable
More questions and comments for Phil Mitchell.
If the trees were such a hazard, why did you not call the parks department to have them take care of them? You state the cottonwood trees as a “substantial nuisance,” citing your career in landscaping. So you take it upon yourself to girdle the trees, probably at dark of night when no one could see you do it. All for your personal gain.
I have no political stake in this as it has been suggested with Sheriff Chuck Curry. I do not believe there is with him either. Headline in Tuesday’s paper: “Parks Board OK’d plea deal with Mitchell.” So that makes it right? The plea deal has not been OK’d by this taxpayer and I am sure many others agree, no deal. Phil abused his power. Apology unacceptable.
I voted for Phil to do the right thing for the county. Now is the time for Phil to do the right thing and resign. Once again I am asking The Honorable Judge Robert Olson to reject this plea agreement. Hold Phil accountable. —Cary Weyrauch, Kalispell