Ravalli County budget crisis
Ravalli County needs five Commissioners like Michael Moore needs a supreme pizza.
Ravalli is the only one of the 56 Montana counties with a five-member Board of Commissioners. Half dozen other counties with populations 2 to 3 times larger operate with three. Yellowstone has 140,000 citizens, compared to 40,000 in the Bitterroot.
Stewart Brandborg led his disciples of FOB and BFP organizations in a successful 2007 ballot issue to add two more seats to the commission while also electing their slate of candidates to fill those new seats.
The election of 2010 soundly replaced that slate, but the five-member Commission remains in place, along with the extra expense. In the current economic crisis, budgets from family to national levels are strained. Ravalli County government is no exception. All departments are in need of more funding.
Democrats are known for their affinity for larger government, so their objective was accomplished. The other party, however, espouses smaller government. Now, the all-Republican five-member Commission is faced with budget issues on a weekly basis. Latest suggestion is that there are justice court staff cuts. This, of course, did not sit well with the judges. The wheels of justice turn slowly enough already, without a staff reduction.
So, here’s a suggestion. “Charity begins at home.” How about reducing the composition of the Ravalli County Board of Commissioners back to the original/sensible number of three seats. Annual savings would be well over $100,000. Voters will still be able to elect their preference, regardless of party affiliation.
The Return to Three, will be, and must be, implemented as soon as possible, if the party of conservative government, in the Bitterroot, is serious and honest about their political belief. Intelligent citizens will see the advantage and make that change.
David S. Hurtt
What are our Ravalli County commissioners thinking? Less than ten months have passed since the last expensive environmental assessment (EA) of the county airport was released. Now the current commissioners have applied for yet another EA that’ll cost us taxpayers $75,000. Most of it federal money. Whatever shreds of credibility this set of commissioners had is lost. Kaput. Everyone but the commissioners are tightening their financial belts. Do they think this money grows in our hayfields?
The three new “Republican” commissioners ran on a fiscally conservative platform. They even promised to reject any federal funding. When lives were on the line with the family planning clinic Commissioners Kanenwisher and Stoltz voted “No” on funding it; not because of fiscal conservatism, but because they want to impose their “values” on us. Four of the five commissioners have promised to refuse federal funding and shut the clinic down next year, forsaking the sacred principle of preserving life. Saving lives and preserving life is what the clinic does through cancer screenings, prenatal care, STD testing, and nutritional counseling. This isn’t important enough for them to accept federal money, but a redundant, wasteful, duplicative EA is? Where are their priorities? What are their principles? Are they diligent conservatives with like-minded values, or are they unpredictable, uncaring hypocrites willing to spend our hard earned money willy-nilly?
We should all despise and reject wasteful government spending. The duplicative airport study is a glaring example. Tell our commissioners to stop busting budgets and digging our debt hole ever deeper. Tell them to fund Family Planning and save lives in years to come instead. Now is not the time to do another wasteful airport assessment that’ll only serve the special interests of the ultra rich jet setters of the valley who funded the campaigns of the three new commissioners and who are the only ones flying high in these hard times.
Sad day in Stevi
I am so saddened by the resignation of Lew Barnett as mayor and of Desera Towle as council member. I was also disappointed when Clayton Floyd resigned. I don’t know Mr. Floyd personally, but my husband, John Carbin, holds him in the highest esteem.
My disappointment is not in the choices these folks have made to resign, but in the reason: Mr. Groninger. I don’t know him and, unless he goes through some behavior modification, I don’t want to know him.
I am also saddened to learn that Desera is planning to leave town. I do know her, and I consider her departure a grave loss to the community. Like many of us, she came from someplace else, but she threw herself into the civic life of the community and made many contributions to enhancing our quality of life. She has been an active member of the Civic Club. She was elected to the town council by a write-in vote. That means that enough people knew her and appreciated her talents to write her name on the ballot and vote for her, even though she wasn’t listed as a candidate.
Desera has been extremely generous in community activities and events; so many of us know her from Creamery Picnic, First Fridays, Civic Club, SASS, and from her realty business. I personally am most indebted to her because during a recent, long-term power outage in the dead of winter, as a council person, she went to my 99-year-old mother’s house to check on her and to offer assistance.
I was in education for many years and so I’ve had training in dealing with bullies. However, I don’t live in town anymore, so I can’t offer to serve on the town council. However, my mother does live in town. She is slowing down a bit but her cognitive powers and her verbal skills seem to be intact. I am tempted to ask if she’ll run for a position on the town council and lay the matter of Mr. Groninger to rest once and for all.
As Leonard Pitts, Jr., said in his opinion piece in the August 31st Missoulian, when you “have reasoned with the bully, bargained with the bully, tried to appease the bully, sometimes the only remaining option is to punch the bully in the nose.” Mother would do that.
Ann Marie Carbin
Of, for and by the people
Almost every seeker for elected office sets forth that their office will be transparent so the voters will always know how decisions were reached and why money was spent. They nearly all claim there will be transparency in their duties as an elected official of the people.
I wanted to be sure I knew what TRANSPARENCY was so I looked it up in a recent Webster’s College Dictionary and was a little taken back at how it was defined. i.e. “Something transparent, esp. a picture or design on glass or some translucent substance, made visible by light shining through from behind.” This didn’t seem to fill the bill so I went to the root word.
TRANSPARENT. It also mentions light shining through so bodies situated beyond or behind can be distinctly seen. However, the 4th definition read, easily seen through, recognized, or detected: transparent excuses. The 5th definition read, easily understood; manifest; obvious. The 6th definition read, candid, frank, open.
The commissioners are cutting county jobs in all departments in a desperate attempt to put the county on a balanced financial structure. They are refusing to accept money from the federal government that provides the funding for some necessary services. How can they provide a GOLDEN PARACHUTE to the tune of $180,000 to a disgruntled assistant county attorney, and not explain why to the people who pay the bills?
Let’s assume the article in the Ravalli Republic was carefully constructed and truthfully written. I don’t think you can say it is a personal matter and we are not going to explain how an assistant county attorney will be on the payroll for two years but will not be required to do any work for his wages. It could set an example for the many other assistant county attorneys to leap out of office and obtain a GOLDEN PARACHUTE to ease their fall.
Personal or no, when money is so tight the county is firing ten percent of the workforce, there should be full disclosure of such a vast expenditure.
John W. Robinson
Clarification on nurses’ contract
There have been several opinions submitted to the Editor about the Nurse’s contract at Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital, including the recent “Marcus Daly Hospital: Look beyond smokescreen picketers”. As Staff Nurses with over thirty years combined experience at MDMH, we would like to share our perspective and address a few problematic items in the letter.
Eleven years ago, a majority of RNs at Marcus Daly Hospital voted for Montana Nurses Association representation/collective bargaining. This year, a large majority (forty of the fifty Nurses at the hospital are Montana Nurses Association members), joined together because there are problems with our contract and therefore, problems at our workplace that affect patient care and our working conditions.
What we’re asking for is not just the will of those represented by MNA but rather we want a fair workplace for all RNs at MDMH. We surveyed our peers, learned what was important to them and created a bargaining platform from their input.
There is nothing in our proposals that will “curtail” services at the hospital.
We have made reasonable proposals on wages, Grievance procedure changes and Agency shop language.
To clarify the role of the National Labor Relations Board: It was actually the Hospital Administration that put forth the notion of having the NLRB make final decisions on grievances. The NLRB is not a dispute resolution service. Their mission is to defend the National Labor Relations Act, not to hear grievances.
It is unfortunate that some folks prefer to vilify unions instead of educating themselves on the value and benefits of collective bargaining.
In closing, we simply want to have some meaningful input into how we care for our patients and have a fair, impartial review of contract disputes. As Labor Day approaches, please think of the nurses who have cared for you and your family members and support us in our efforts to work in a safe, productive and healthy environment.
Betsy Saylor, RN, Hamilton
Angel Davis, RN, Florence
Re: big trees
Having just read the apology of Kent Kultgen for cutting the six trees in front of the new school, I feel I need to add some information to this scenario. First of all, the trees in question were not American elm, they were Siberian elm. It is baffling to me what people have against big trees. Those six trees to my knowledge were not decadent but were in fact healthy trees. Granted, Siberian elm is more prone to wind damage than American elm but it certainly is not as susceptible as cottonwood or willow that everyone is so paranoid about nowadays. They certainly were not a threat to the children nor were they in the way of the parking lot.
I was greatly relieved to see that the American elm was protected. That tree is currently listed on the Montana Big Tree Register as the largest American elm in Montana. I nominated it to the Register in 2001 along with the co champion elm located at the May House just up the street after the former champion in Hamilton succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease. Both of these trees need to be known and protected as champion big trees. If the school says they are taking care of these trees then they should erect a sign, similar to the ones around town that are listed in the Stevensville Arboretum, so that people will know the story.
The Bitter Root grows big trees. Currently sixteen out of the seventy-three trees on the Big Tree Register reside in Ravalli County. Seven of these are located in the Stevensville area including the largest Siberian elm in the state over on Middle Burnt Fork at Lowell Smith’s place.
Big trees have been a hobby of mine for many years and I have found a number of trees that will be nominated to the Register again this year but it seems people have a habit of cutting them or topping them which destroys their character and quality. I have had several cases lately where trees that I planned to measure or had on the Register already have turned up dead or destroyed by topping (I thought that was outlawed years ago) before I could get in contact with their owners. Please quit doing that. I realize it costs more to prune a tree correctly but do it right like Terry Nobles did years ago for his Norway maple just north of Corvallis. It is still a magnificent tree and darned if it isn’t the biggest Norway in Montana and, in fact, only missed being national champion by eight points.
Thanks from ‘fair family’
I am writing to thank you for the very fine article concerning our family being chosen as the “fair family.” We especially thank Jean Schurman. She came and interviewed us, Larry and Peggy, and called the other kids. She recounted many activities and history. The article was factual and accurate with a touch of personal input.
All this in contrast to the other valley paper that merely called on the phone, asked a couple questions, misquoted, and cut Jane off the picture. So again our sincere thanks to you, the fair board, and all the wonderful comments from friends and neighbors in our beautiful valley.
Cliff and Jane Trexler and Family