Letters to the editor Oct. 28

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Switch it up, go reverse diagonal

The Kalispell City Council recently accepted comments on converting two on-street parking locations within the downtown Business Improvement District from parallel to diagonal parking. The move begins to add new parking spaces for customers’ convenience, generating greater economic return for area businesses. A goal of The Downtown Plan.

There are difficulties and dangers associated with diagonal parking, limited visibility for drivers and perceived lack of room to exit the space, that make parallel parking a safer and more popular choice. However, there is a way to address public safety concerns while still permitting diagonal parking. That is reverse diagonal parking.

Instead of pulling into the parking spot, drivers back into their spots. This allows them to make eye contact with oncoming traffic – cars/trucks, pedestrians, bicycles – when exiting the parking spot. Parking in reverse is a simple way to reduce the risk of accidents.

Reverse diagonal parking has many safety and operational benefits for vehicles. For pedestrians and bicyclists too. Drivers have a better view of traffic as they exit a parking space and enter into the travel lane. It eliminates the difficulty that drivers, particularly older drivers, have when backing into moving traffic. It positions the trunk or back of vehicle to the sidewalk, for safer loading/unloading of items. And it positions the driver and passengers, including children, to enter/exit the vehicle towards the sidewalk instead of into moving traffic.

Reverse parking can disrupt traffic, but it’s no different than the movements one uses in parallel parking. Signal a right turn to warn other drivers. Pull past the parking spot and stop. Reverse into the parking spot. In fact, it’s easier to back into an angled space than a parallel space.

Reverse diagonal parking is an inexpensive, pedestrian-oriented option encouraging greater public safety in our downtown parking areas.

— Richard Turbiak, Kalispell

Above the law

“Commissioner Phil Mitchell admitted he routinely exceeds the speed limit on the bypass, going 65 and even 70 mph.” [March 22 Inter Lake]

The speed limit is 55 mph. The rules and laws just don’t apply to Phil Mitchell.

I guess being a “commissioner” puts him above the law. Kills trees that don’t belong to him, putting others at risk by exceeding speed limits. What is next? I am scared to find out. — Cary Weyrauch, Kalispell

Time to go meatless

Right on the heels of utter devastation wrought by Hurricanes Florence and Michael, comes an alarming report in the prestigious journal Nature that mitigation of global climate change will require a massive switch to plant-based eating.

The report concludes that global warming threatens the world’s very food supply, in addition to generating scorching heat, raging wildfires, devastating hurricanes, massive flooding, and rising sea levels. It was compiled by an international panel of 23 climate experts and follows the latest warning about rising temperatures by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

A 2010 United Nations report blamed animal agriculture for 19 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, 70 percent of freshwater use, and 38 percent of land use. Carbon dioxide is emitted by burning forests to create animal pastures and by operating factory farms. The more damaging methane and nitrous oxide are released from digestive tracts of cattle and from animal waste cesspools, respectively.

In an environmentally sustainable world, just as we replace fossil fuels by wind, solar, and other pollution-free energy sources, we must also replace meat and dairy products in our diet by vegetables, fruits, and grains.

Our next supermarket visit offers a superb opportunity to get started.

— Kobe Berkell, Kalispell

Impacts of e-commerce

While having lunch with a local merchant the topic of the coming holiday shopping season came up and the impact of the large e-commerce vendors like Amazon would have on it. The discussion soon changed to what local merchants face and why it is important to support them. They pay a large amount of taxes which in turn provides for police and fire protection and supports our school system for everyone. The on line vendors don’t. Local merchants provide jobs and salaries which cycle back through the local economy. They donate goods and services to the many civic functions and organizations. The on line vendors don’t. Ever try and get a donation from Amazon?

If something you purchased doesn’t work, fit or is somehow defective you can return it to a local store. Ever try that with an online vendor? Some local businesses provide public rooms for various group functions even if it is not store related. You don’t need to wait for shipping or find your merchandise is back ordered for months shopping locally. What you see is what you get. No false advertising gimmicks.

So the next time your at a home game and see all those banners from local merchants on the outfield fence supporting your teams, maybe you should consider supporting them with your next purchase.

— William Boehme, Kalispell

Money for nothing

Marijuana is a gateway drug. A gateway to spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to find, prosecute, and imprison Montanans. A gateway to losing tens of millions in revenue to neighboring states (and all of Canada). Moreover, we’re probably not preventing anyone from consuming the drug. A thriving black market ensures easy assess and that billions in revenue goes into the wrong pockets.

In other words, we are spending a lot of money to do nothing.

Not smart from a budgetary perspective.

Not smart from a human perspective. We are saddling people with criminal records -- hampering their ability to contribute to society and to our economy. We are imprisoning Native Americans at 250 percent higher rates. All for using a plant widely used by our presidents, entertainers, industry titans, neighbors, and friends.

Prohibition is not freedom. And not smart from the perspective of people who love freedom. Few of us would want government to tell us what to read or eat or whom to pick as friend — even if we read trash, eat Twinkies, and have lame friends. America was founded on an inherent skepticism of concentrated power. Free people do not want government protecting us from ourselves. Morally, when we replace our own values with authoritative law, we erode the significance of both.

I am running to represent the Whitefish area in the Montana state house. I support the full legalization of cannabis -- to reduce your tax burdens and because I trust in freedom.

— Cindy Dyson, Whitefish

Flathead Audubon

If you’re going to make a mistake, you might as well make it a GREAT BIG ONE. Wonderful story, great photos of the Wild Wings birds in Sept. 24 paper. Eye-catching, and even a teaser on the front page. Beth and Bob Watne do a good job with their birds.

Unfortunately, the story writer called the event the “Wild Wings Birds of Prey Festival.” Major correction: That Festival is presented to the community every year by Flathead Audubon, a local organization with approximately 400 members. Wild Wings was one of our invited presenters.

Apparently, the story writer missed noticing the booths of Forest Service, Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Citizens for a Better Flathead, Flathead Audubon, the “make your own” hawk and owl mask tables, kids dressed up in owl costumes and the face painter, with all of the kids running around painted like authentic little hawks and owls. This year, we were grateful for the help of donations from Whitefish Credit Union and the Maki Family Foundation.

At the same time, inside the Lone Pine Visitor Center, there were presentations by Denver Holt of the Owl Research Institute, training for Hawk Watch observers, and an edutaining visit by Professor Avian Guano.

Birds of Prey Festival is Flathead Audubon’s largest public event of the year. Attendance this year was close to 800 people. I’m guessing that one or two of them learned about the Festival from the several hundred dollars of advertising we did with the Daily Inter Lake. Flathead Audubon also supplies the Bird of the Month feature that runs in the Outdoors section of the Daily Inter Lake. We provide the only free conservation education program for schools in the Flathead Valley.

Flathead Audubon is a nonprofit, science-based organization of local people. A part time contracted conservation educator oversees our education program, and all other activities are run by volunteers. Our members conduct several Christmas Bird Counts, teach at FVCC’s Senior Institute, sponsor numerous free field trips around northwest Montana, manage the Owen Sowerwine Natural Area east of Kalispell, conduct migratory bird surveys at the Jewel Basin Hawk Watch site and teach at Flathead Forestry Expo. All of our meetings and events are free of charge and open to the public.

I’m glad that the Inter Lake writer was so swept off his feet by our Birds of Prey. I hope that next year, he will be able to enjoy the whole festival.

— Kay Mitchell, President, Flathead Audubon

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