Letters to the editor for July 8, 2018

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We can do more to prevent shootings; now what about DUI deaths?

The Florida school shooting could have been prevented if time had been taken to help this boy. He was telling everyone what his plans were, and I feel this was an outcry for help and no one listened until it was too late. I feel the protests now are all political.

No one wants to focus on the number of people that die each year from alcohol impaired drivers. There is one death every 51 minutes in this country.

Great Britain wants to weigh in on our school shootings but average of 940 people were killed in drunk-driving related accidents each year. An average of 3,681 people were seriously injured in drunk-driving related accidents in Great Britain each year.

The fat cats in Hollywood are protected by armed guards. Why should any less be done for our children? —Pat Arnone, Kalispell

Fifty-five is fine

Just gotta love the good ol’ boys. Don’t like your neighbor’s trees? Girdle em. Don’t like the speed limit? Go faster.

I for one am against the increased speed limit on the bypass. One person has already lost their life on the bypass in a car accident. I was going to work the other day and a car full of high school kids spun across four lanes of traffic and ended up on the shoulder going the wrong way facing traffic.

Fifty-five is fast enough for me, especially on an undivided four-lane highway that has multiple on ramps, off ramps and curves. The only place that I could see increasing the speed limit would be on the south half of the bypass where it is straight with no on ramps or curves. —Randy Bloom, Kalispell

What will happen to wilderness study areas?

Montana Congressmen Greg Gianforte and Sen. Steve Daines have recently proposed the roll back of some 700,000 protected acres of wilderness study lands in in Montana. Some of these lands have been proposed by BLM as worthy of wilderness designation.

It is the belief of these congressional proponents of change that the current use is restrictive and wasteful. As citizens of Montana, should we, as the voting public, not be well informed of this top down change? Have these acres not always been ”public use lands”? Should these legislators not be meeting eye to eye with their constituents in well-publicized town meetings from Dillon to Plentywood, from Libby to Ekalaka? Are there not citizens who live in this state other than a handful of county commissioners?

Should they not be showing the public a state map with the lands to be rolled back clearly marked in every newspaper in the state? Lands composed of pristine timber are affected as well as lands composed of colorful badlands formations. East to west, north to south. Do we as citizens and current users of this land not have a say?

Where are our open and public meetings seeking input from those who are represented by these men we have sent to Washington D.C.?

May we not ask, what is the new proposed purpose of these lands which have had a protected status in the past? It is unclear. Logging? Cattle grazing? Oil and gas development? Fracking? Subdivisions? Large ranches for the wealthy? Hazardous waste burial sites? Pipelines? Hot dog stands? Again it is unclear. Are there legal and accountable uses written down for the public to see and judge? Certainly with BLM and the Forest Service out of the picture, there will no longer be any oversight.

Finally, it has always been a part of the Montana character to value our wild lands, to see worth in nature and something precious beyond just making a buck. Most of us marvel at a bald eagle, a sage grouse, a snowy owl, Ponderosa pine, a grove of golden aspen, moose and elk, meadowlarks and western bluebirds, yellow bells and shooting stars, native trout and pristine water bubbling up from the ground. In cities, one must go to a zoo or a museum. In Montana it is free. Can we have a say in our destiny? Is our state for sale without our even knowing it?

It is easy to look up the phone numbers, addresses, and e-mail addresses of Greg Gianforte, Steve Daines, and Ryan Zinke in faraway Washington, D.C. Let us be a state of educated citizens. Let us question. —Jill Weiser, Kalispell

Tariffs may be weapon against our own people

A 25 percent increase in the price of imported steel? For every four steelworkers we have in America, there are 400 workers in factories that require reasonably priced steel to survive. Many of those workers and companies (auto parts, appliance parts, and many others) are not likely to survive and that with doubtful benefit to the four steelworkers. Go figure. Maybe there are people who do not know that.

Can newsprint tariffs be a weapon? Of course. Aimed at whom? If we are going to govern ourselves, nothing is more important than the free speech of our newspapers. So if there is someone who wants to govern us without interference from newspapers, nothing would be nicer than to find a way to eliminate these instruments of free speech and government by the people

Here in the Flathead Valley of Montana we have community newspapers that have excellent, well-informed reporters who are open to all points of view. We would be politically blind without them, and Montana would be as corrupt as Kentucky or the days of the robber barons. The mere presence of a reporter at a council or commission meeting helps significantly to keep the members in line.

However, across the country today, money is the soft spot of newspapers; they are beset by competition from nationally based radio stations, TV, especially social media, and others. There are those papers that can be done in by a 25 percent increase in the price of newsprint and more that can be damaged. Fortunately for us, our local papers belong with the majority in the country, although 70 percent of the papers that have gone under in the past few years were in cities of over 100,000, and only 20 percent in towns under 30,000. Smaller town papers attract dedicated employees, are experimenting with imaginative fundraising, and smaller townspeople back their papers.

So now, we have a 25 percent tariff on Canadian newsprint. Bankrupting newspapers would mean less interference with the version of the news coming out of the White House.

In the past U.S. and Canadian newsprint companies (like other Canadians and Americans) have worked back forth. An American newsprint company does not place itself across the border from a Canadian company and vice versa for mutual advantage. —Robert O’Neil, Kalispell

A local treasure

One of the many cultural treasures of the Mission Valley is Clarence Woodcock. Clarence is now deceased but was a member of the 1992 Salish Culture Committee. My favorite quote from him was the following: “The People strongly believed in the power of prayer. So they continued going to the mission, continued learning about God. And they learned about this new man named Jesus. And they identified with him because he done many of the things our people done when they pray. He fasted and he suffered and he healed people. So our People strongly believed in him.” —John Lavin, Kalispell

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