Letters to the Editor from Oct. 4 Madisonian

Military members deserve to receive their ballots

Dear Editor,

I am hearing reports that our military service members serving in foreign lands are not receiving absentee ballots in time to vote in this November’s election. Is this a Pentagon problem or something more? Either way this is clearly wrong and a gross injustice for our fighting men and women yet I hear nothing from our members of Congress on this atrocity, but especially those who are on military-related committees. Please contact them as I have and let them know of our outrage.

Robert Kennedy


Straightening out the record on the Montana PSC

Dear Editor,

It’s political silly season, and voters have to listen to a lot of people bending the truth. But at least one claim I’ve heard this election cycle—that utility rates are dropping in other states, while they go up in Montana—is flat-out false.

As a member of the Public Service Commission, I feel it’s my responsibility to call out this falsehood.

It’s true that NorthWestern rates have increased. A typical residential customer has seen his electric bills increase 3.81 percent in the last five years.

But by comparison to NorthWestern, rates in other states are skyrocketing upwards, not going down.

Idaho Power’s rates have gone up 18.84 percent. Puget Sound Energy, in Washington: an 11.13 percent increase. For Otter Tail Power in North Dakota, it’s even larger, a whopping 28.65 percent. Avista’s rates for its Idaho and Washington customers have increased 22.88 percent and 13.23 percent, respectively. The list goes on and on.

Bottom line: Rates have gone up for NorthWestern customers, but customers of nearby utilities are seeing their rates go up three to seven times faster.

Rates are going up everywhere because utilities are replacing aging infrastructure, funding retiring employees’ pensions, and upgrading power plants. In that environment, Montana’s Public Service Commission has been more aggressive than other states’ utility watchdogs in acting to keep utility costs under control and to reverse the disaster of deregulation (which caused a huge spike in prices well before any member of the PSC was in office).

If someone tries to tell you otherwise, they’re fibbing.

Travis Kavulla

Montana Public Service Commission

Great Falls

Voter ID laws actually work to suppress votes

Dear Editor,

Abraham Lincoln gave a speech warning the people about corporations having too much influence over our federal and state government. Now in 2012 that has come true.

“True The Vote” an organization affiliated with the Koch brothers’ super Pac, American for Prosperity. True the Vote has pushed for voter- ID laws, and voter roll purges and other controversial voting related measures. If you’re going to require a photo ID, make it fair for all. A lot of people have photo ID, but the voter law require you to have an expiration date on them, military, anyone working in a hospital, students, Fed, and state workers, and many companies have photo ID, to get them in their doors, but they don’t have an expiration date on then so they can’t be used to get your voter ID card. The American Legislative Exchange Council also funded in part by the Koch brothers, has helped corporate America propose and even draft legislation for states across the country (even in Montana). They crafted the Voter ID Bill, or what it really is the Voter Suppression Bill, because it targets students, any person of color and senior citizens, who vote Democrat.

The fraud is in registering voters, going back to the 2004 election. Where a political party pays someone to register voters, but shreds the opponent party registration forms, and the people don’t know until they go to vote, and can’t.

Read last week paper about fraud in registering voters? The justice department is now involved in voter suppression. The first case the Supreme Court is taking is the Voter ID Law to see if it violates the Voter Act of 1965. The Supreme Court gave us Citizen United that has gotten us in “Buy the Vote” mess were in, so I’m going to hope for the best.

Social Security would never go broke if Nixon had not changed the rules and took it out of its’ S.S trust account, and put in the general fund. To date, Social Security would have gone broke in 2075, or never. Remember when Al Gore wanted to lock the Social Security box? It didn’t get locked, it really got robbed!

If you really care about this country you should read every thing you can fine about ALEC, and the Koch Brothers, start with “The Billionaire Koch Brothers” or “Koch brothers’ Driving Anti- Obama Hate Machine” from the Chicago Tribune, (they will keep you up all night), you don’t even have to go to the Library to find it.

Vote Smart!

Judith M. Wiancko


Koopman levels more criticism at PSC commissioner Vincent

Dear Editor,

In the race for Public Service Commission, party affiliation is largely irrelevant. What is relevant is the unresponsiveness of a PSC that dances to its own political agendas and allows our utility rates to go through the roof.

Incumbent John Vincent is especially guilty of this, and also has the worst attendance of any commissioner on record. District 3 is being “represented” by someone who is present only 35 percent of the time.

Rather than confronting the question of his absenteeism head-on, John assumes a posture of denial, and tries to persuade us that calling in from home two-thirds of the time amounts to a “98 percent attendance record.” Nobody but John could twist the meaning of “attendance” that badly! Doubters can check the record for themselves. Through late July, the PSC website shows Vincent physically attending only 125 of 353 official sessions.

John may try to deny this during the election season, but at other times, he has joked to his colleagues about being “The Ghost Commissioner.” Rate payers aren’t laughing, John. And the PSC staff itself often refers to “taking a Vincent” when they leave the building. As fellow commissioner Gallagher recently stated, “It’s a shame that Southwest Montana has no real voice on the commission.”

Vincent asserts that he can do his job in his bedroom slippers from home. Absent from his fellow commissioners, PSC staff, hearing witnesses and the general public. I couldn’t disagree more. Imagine, if you will, all the PSC commissioners reflecting John’s attitude and staying home. PSC meetings and hearings would all be conference calls from commissioners’ living rooms and kitchen tables.

Voters should honestly appraise John Vincent’s absenteeism, and his lock-step advocacy of rate-busting environmental politics. I will be a very different kind of commissioner, and would greatly appreciate your support.

Roger Koopman


We all watch what we want to see

Dear Editor,

If Judith Wiancko of Ennis watches CSPAN as she claims, she wouldn’t be cheering for Jon Tester or Max Baucus.

Let me remind her of two CSPAN shows: The first is when the interior department was testifying for and against Jon Tester’s “Forest’s Job Bill” which he has been crowing about for his six years in office. The representative from the interior department told Tester (on CSPAN) that there would be no tree harvesting in his bill. That was almost three years ago and Tester is still putting that bill out as his great contribution and he couldn’t get it past his own Senate for four years! Like Obama, he wants another term in office, “to finish the job.”

All of Congress left Washington, D.C. at the same time and all for the same reason – campaigning.

The Republicans are the majority in the House; the Democrats have that majority in the Senate. There are 38 House bills that the Senate will not allow to be read on the floor of the Senate, therefore the House will not act on the Senate bills unless it is to keep the country running – past that $16 trillion dollar debt!

The other CSPAN show was when Baucus was the man behind Obama to get the Obama Care medical takeover by a federal government that doesn’t have a working profitable program to it’s credit. Can Wiancko name one government program that is not in debt, has not been robbed of its “trust fund” by the feds and has even a hope of survival past 2020?

This “war” over the Farm Bill is because of the control of the two – House and Senate. Dennis Rehberg has officially chided his own party for its refusal to call up the Farm Bill but then why did the Senate attach an enormous increase for food stamps into the Farm Bill?

Just as they do with their pork barrel, they add these amendments onto the bills they feel have to be passed so nobody (they don’t read those bills anyway) will question all the stuff that has been added that don’t have a thing to do with the original Farm Bill.

We cannot afford to spend this much and Lord help us when we have borrowed so much from China and Japan; and then they have deep financial problems.

She missed the CSPAN shows that show the reason, (childbirth, working for tips, sharing jobs, childcare) and other reasons why the women’s pay is different then the men’s. Not a smart move or smart vote. We all watch what we want to see.

Bill Hanley

Twin Bridges

Our constitution – A framework for quality education

Dear Editor,

Is defending the status quo really in the best interest of our children, or has our current public school system become a union controlled monopoly that consumes as much as half the state’s revenue? Article X, Section 1 of the Montana Constitution states clearly “it is the goal of the people to establish a system of education that will develop the full potential of each person.”

Equality of educational opportunity is guaranteed to each person of the state. To suggest that a voucher system, or charter school opportunity would “destroy our public education system and sense of community that surrounds our rural schools” seems to me a vote of no confidence in the quality of our teachers and the character of our communities. Do you really think most rural schools would change much? Probably not – we are blessed with some very good teachers and fairly small class size. Possibly some schools in the larger cities would benefit because they would compete for students on the quality of education, and wouldn’t this be a good thing consistent with our constitutional mandates?

Article X, Section 3, states that “the Legislature may provide such other educational institutions, public libraries, and educational programs it deems desirable. Wouldn’t it be desirable to have choices that give greater opportunity to develop the full potential of each person? Voucher systems and charter schools have reported much success and some failure, just as home schooling and public schooling have. Montana is one of only nine states that currently do not offer such choices.

As a responsible voter, is it not important to secure representation that is consistent with the goals of the people described in the constitution, or is protecting the status quo the answer? I would think we would want a representative who was at least open to looking at facts and able to discern if there was a better way of doing things.

In a recent poll funded by the Family Foundation of Montana 54 percent of Montanans believe there is a need to provide more choices in educational opportunities, while a mere 21 percent disagree. Wouldn’t it seem prudent to be open to change when there is so much at stake?

Rep. Bob Wagner

House District 71


Give me a break

Dear Editor,

Election day will be here soon and how quickly we forget about the past. I see signs all over that say, “Vote Republican, less government, more jobs.” The last time we voted for a Republican president, who said he was a “compassionate conservative” it was a disaster. The Republicans voted to give tax breaks to American companies that moved overseas. The Republican government was the largest of any president.

Then during his first eight months in office this is what the compassionate conservative did:

Cut $39 million dollars from libraries.

Cut $35 million in funding for advanced pediatric training for doctors.

Delayed rules that would reduce acceptable levels of arsenic in drinking water.

Revoked rules so companies that violate federal laws, environmental laws, and workplace safety standards could do government jobs.

Cut $200 million from work force training programs for dislocated workers.

Cut $15.7 million from programs dealing with child abuse and child neglect.

Proposed elimination of the “Reading is Fundamental” program, which would give free books to poor children.

Canceled a deadline for automakers to develop prototype high mileage cars.

Signed a bill making it harder for poor and middle-class Americans to file for bankruptcy, even when facing overwhelming medical bills.

Pushed through a tax cut which gave a 43 percent tax cut going to the wealthiest one percent of Americans.

This is just a smattering of what the last Republican president did to the middle class. Not to mention starting an illegal war that cost thousands of lives and thousands wounded.

A war that cost over a trillion dollars; a president who left us in the worst recession in decades. Now we should elect another Republican president who has said he hates the middle class and the working poor? Give me a break!

LaVon D. Brillhart


Welch off base with criticism of Republican

Dear Editor,

I have listened to Jerry Welch voice his opinion for I don’t know how long and his last opinion piece finally hit a nerve. Really, Jerry, most Republicans are extreme? I am a Republican and take offense to that statement.

Unlike you, I believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and I think people and government should be guided by these principles. Most Republicans are just normal people living their life, going to work every day; not asking for a handout but maybe a help up when needed. They want government to not hinder their pursuit of life, liberty and freedom to personal happiness. They do not think that government is the answer to everything. This country was built on individualism and the government should not dictate everything in your life.

If you think that the road we are on under Obama is a good one, you are misguided. Our dollar is devalued, business is stopped because of regulation, people are out of work, our country has lost respect in the world and worst of all we are becoming more and more socialist.

When 45 – 47 percent of people pay no taxes, we have a problem. With that said, both parties are to blame – we let this happen. What are we going to do about it? This will most likely be the most serious election of my life. What road will we take? Do you want to continue down the path we are currently on or let a proven businessman put our country back on track. He may not be as articulate a speaker as Obama but he has good moral character and his charity and generosity in giving back to society is unmatched as a candidate. This man has a will to lead and will get things done.

I feel that for this election we need people with dignity, vision, character, stamina and most of all a business head. The government is a business and should be run as such. Please vote but vote wisely – we the voters can make a difference in electing people to public office who will work for us and fix the mess we are in.

I have traveled around the world a little, have friends that have worked in foreign countries and have talked to many veterans about what is going on around the world. I know this for sure; the United States is still the light on the hill for people worldwide. They want the freedoms we have – life, liberty, happiness and religious freedom – not the government dictating their lives.

Bob Sitz



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