Thursday, June 30, 2022

Letters to the editor June 5

| June 5, 2022 12:00 AM

Tax relief for seniors

I was disgusted to read the editorial recently that had the AARP Montana Executive Council members pleading with the upcoming Legislature to seek some help for Social Security tax relief for seniors.

I proposed SB76 in the 2017 session to eliminate taxes on Social Security. We were then only one of 13 states that still had this law. There were 135,000 seniors over 65 in Montana — definitely more now.

Did AARP show up to testify in favor? Heck, no! There were only opponents to SB76 — the director of revenue, the Montana taxpayer lobbyist, a lobbyist for the Montana Budget & Policy Center and Eric Feaver, representing MEA/AFT. He felt we all should pay in a “progressive” way.

The $75 million fiscal note was the reason it didn’t get through the Senate Finance Committee, but it did begin a conversation.

My seatmate, David Howard, proposed SB217 in 2019. His bill revised the taxation on Social Security to relieve the marriage penalty. The fiscal note was $15 million though still opposed by the revenue director and the policy center. The Montana taxpayer lobbyist supported this bill. Did AARP weight in? No!

Senator Howard’s bill made it through the Senate and the House with Republican support and very few Democrat votes. It was later vetoed by Governor Bullock.

It is well known in legislative hallways that AARP does not show up in support of bills with Republican sponsors. I even called out one of the lobbyists for not showing up to support bills for seniors. Excuses, excuses.

Bills and votes, along with hearings can be seen/heard on the site. Don’t let AARP blow smoke without holding them accountable. Seniors deserve better representation than they have given historically.

Where were you when we needed you, AARP? Start talking to your side of the aisle. The Rs have been on the side of the seniors all along!

— Dee Brown, Hungry Horse

Unsafe prom location

I was going to write this right after the prom but now it seems so much more relevant that I have to say something.

The location of the Flathead prom was potentially a huge disaster. Not only was it difficult to find and on the end of a rough dirt road but people had to park in a field. If it had rained it would have been a huge mess if not inaccessible.

But my biggest concern was the open access to the public and the time it would have taken for first responders to get there in an emergency.

Call me paranoid but how easy would it have been for gunmen to come in from across one of those fields loaded with weapons and opened fire on the kids? There were no police in site. I drove my kids and waited in the field/ parking lot so I know.

Last year it was at the high school and if there had been an emergency police could have been there in minutes. Who in the hell thought it was okay to have prom at the end of a rough dirt road in the middle of nowhere?

— April Harrington, Kalispell

Second Amendment thoughts

I own guns. I can also read, and I know what “a well regulated militia” doesn’t mean.

An 18-year-old boy in Texas should not be able to walk into a store and buy not one, but two short barrel ArmaLites with virtually no checks in place.

In 1787, at a time when there were just 13 states, the U.S. Constitution was drafted and signed. Four years later in 1791, as a result of changing times, those states made 10 changes to update that Constitution. Those changes, which include our 2nd amendment, were called The Bill of Rights.

Those great men, who helped forge this great nation, knew that as society and technology developed certain adjustments must be made. The fundamental rules, that were signed into law 235 years ago, were writted for a fledgling nation called the United States. However, the United States of 2022, both figuratively and literally, is simply not the United States of 1787.

I believe in the right to bear arms. Our Second Amendment calls for “a well regulated militia.” It’s time we revisit America’s regulations.

— Benjamin Spencer, Plains

Student debt and snowflakes

Biden’s latest scheme to cancel $10,000 of student debt for those attending a four-year college or graduate school would cost taxpayers $450 billion and demonstrates how Democrats continuously come up with new ways to buy elections.

Liberals supporting this action need to answer this: How is this fair to those of us who paid back our student loans (in my case for medical school after going to an inexpensive in-state college), those who worked while going to school to pay for their own education, those who went from high school into the military to qualify for the GI bill or those who entered the work force after high school? Why should we be paying the tab for those who signed a contract to repay a loan, just as one signs for a car loan or mortgage?

No, once again Democrats will alienate many of the 87% of Americans who do not currently have a student loan in an attempt to buy the votes of one of their favored demographics — under 30 snowflakes who don’t accept responsibility.

— David Myerowitz, Columbia Falls

Fallon is no conservative

Another election year is upon us and to my disappointment some of the same tactics are being used as we have seen before.

The liberals cannot win elections in this county without lying to the voters. They have found a candidate in Jack Fallon who they are backing for county commissioner on the Republican ticket. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fallon is not a conservative Republican.

While on the school board, he backed the transgender movement. This is not something we would want in our schools. The smear campaign brought to us from Jack Fallon against Pam Holmquist is nothing more than a liberal movement to gain a county commissioner seat that they cannot get by running on a Democrat ticket.

There has been tens of thousands of dollars donated by known liberals to a PAC being used against Pan Holmquist. This should be enough for all Republicans to see that the liberals are at it again, the same as they did to get Gary Hall and Gary Krueger elected on a Republican ticket. It took six years of discourse in the commissioner’s office to get rid of them. Let’s not let this happen again. These two liberal commissioners were beaten badly in the next election.

We do not need liberal Jack Fallon in the commissioner’s office. He will not bring conservative values as Flathead County wants.

Pam Holmquist has had to make some difficult decisions to follow our conservative values. She will continue to work in this manner for Flathead County. We certainly do not want these liberals to buy this election.

Please join us and vote for Pam Holmquist as you have in the past as loyal Republicans.

— Robert Spoklie, Kalispell

Skees is a leader

I support Ronalee Skees as a leader in our community and believe that she will lead well in Helena. She has supported families in crisis, with her work at Hope Pregnancy Crisis Center. Ronalee also raised funds to bring a memory care garden and the Music and Memory program to help seniors with Alzheimer’s. I know her to be a leader with integrity and unmistakable character.

It is upsetting to see her opponent spread lies and misinformation about her. In March 2020 it was Gov. Bullock with the power of an emergency order initiated by President Trump that brought a lockdown to the state of Montana. Flathead County resisted many of the mandates, as a result, Flathead County had the freedom to make personal decisions on how to navigate 2020.

The members of the Health Board have the obligation to protect public health, and they did that duty with honor and integrity for this whole community. It was through that challenging time of leadership I believe Ronalee Skees has earned my support and my vote.

— Marianna Gilbert, Kila

Holmquist’s questionable record

A recent letter endorsing Pam Holmquist as “a master of fiscal responsibility” just about knocked me over. Let’s take a quick look at how she has ignored the will of the citizens of this county and has squandered our taxpayer money.

First, we only have to look at how she and her fellow commissioners refused to act on the Egan Slough Zoning initiative vote passed by 70% of the voters in this county.

Can you imagine how critical this issue was to the residents of this county that 70% of us agreed to this measure in order to preserve our precious water resources and our agricultural land. Holmquist and her two partners dragged their feet in spite of a court ruling ordering them to implement the measures required by the court. Instead they dug in and hired an outside firm from Missoula to defend them which ended up costing the county tens of thousands of dollars just in legal fees. The Supreme Court ultimately upheld the legality of the water bottling zoning initiative thereby showing the folly in Holmquist’s judgment.

Then there was the Lake Five development fiasco which she and the commission approved costing more in legal fees as well as tens of thousands in settlement costs. Another loss for the taxpayers and another example of bad judgment on Holmquist’s part. Before that there was the bridge to nowhere decision costing more and more wasted resources.

Holmquist’s record is a clear sign that she needs to go. Not only for her irresponsible decision making but her unwillingness to listen to “we the people” who depend on her and our other commissioners to make sound reasonable decisions. To call her a master of conservative fiscal responsibility is laughable.

— David Eychner, Kalispell

Fire in her belly

Our great country’s Founding Fathers had the God-given foresight to design our U.S. government to embrace federalism and states’ rights to counter-balance the over-reach and failure of our federal government. (Research “Tenth Amendment” to the US Constitution: “Reserved Powers” and “Concurrent Powers”.)

Two years ago who would have believed the sky-rocketing fuel prices? Inflation? That Montana would be one of the states hit hardest by the baby formula shortages? The list is much too breath-takingly long to enumerate.

Voting smart, honest, “get ‘r done” kind of people into office is our responsibility. Yes, elections DO have consequences. It starts with our local and state governments. I see one candidate for District 9 of our state legislature who stands out with all those qualities--and more. Constance Neumann is legal savvy, articulate, has personal integrity, and has the “fire in her belly” to accomplish great things for our area and state. Montana must continue to stand with states like Florida and Texas who are putting freedom and what’s good for their citizens first rather than promoting the woke globalist agenda.

Please vote Constance Neumann into office as our representative for District 9 She will unceasingly fight for our conservative values and to uphold our constitutional rights such as: parental decision-making in their children’s education, freedom of speech, freedom from big tech censorship, less regulations to stifle our economy, etc. You will not regret that vote. She will “do us proud”!

— Bethany Potts, Columbia Falls

Time for a change

It is my perception and my understanding that Pam Holmquist’s apparent wild popularity stems from her willingness to grant anybody anything just to extend the bottom line and to insure her popularity, with no regard to the long term effects and general well-being of this precious and endangered land.

As I said before, if I could single-handedly vote her out of office the way she is single-handedly ruining our valley, I would.

There is too much power in the hands of too few, especially in the hands of people governed by self-interest. This power is evidenced in the extravagance of Ms. Holmquist’s campaign; “The Lady doth protest too much, methinks.” (Shakespeare) Twelve years is too long. It’s time for a change. Holmquist should go.

— Kathryn Berg, Bigfork

Tranel will protect our freedoms

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, as it appears poised to do, they will stike a devastating blow to the most vulnerable in our country. Roughly half of the pregnant people in our nation seeking abortion will be forced to bear children they aren’t prepared for. Many, disproportionately poor, black and brown, will be forced to have children and asked to rely on a social safety net that is dangerously thin–decimated by the very same politicians that claim to be fighting for the lives of children.

To be able to choose if and when and with whom to parent are basic human rights. Those rights are under threat and will be severely eroded with the overturn of Roe.

I am an abortion provider and run a clinic in Whitefish, which is the only abortion provider for miles in any direction. We need to step up and work hard in this state to keep abortion accessible for those who most need it.

There is only one candidate for the U.S. House that I trust 100% to protect our freedoms. I am voting for Monica Tranel for Congress. She is a fighter. She is unequivocally committed to reproductive freedoms. And as a lawyer, she knows actually what can be done and how. She has the experience and knowledge to be able to make a difference in Congress.

On her campaign website, Monica has written two op-eds and identified specific proposed laws that will protect abortion access. No other candidate has the specificity and knowledge she does.

Please join me in voting for Monica.

— Helen Weems, Whitefish

Liberal commissioners

The last couple of times Flathead County experimented electing liberal commissioners, it cost the taxpayers over $3,000,000. That was the North Shore subdivision where Commissioners Brenneman and Hall thought they were above the law and the taxpayers had to foot the bill.

Flathead voters are at the same commissioner crossroads this election. Pam Holmquist has a proven record for her respect of the law and the process. On the other hand, her opponent has shown his flagrant disrespect for honesty and open discussion. He led the committee to enact the transgender policy that the students of SD 5 are now subject to and he did it behind a consent agenda item where board member’s voting record is hidden from the public. He has no respect for transparency or the process.

If you really want to experience how Pam Holmquist’s opponent operates, I invite you on a trial run with a project through the Evergreen Water and Sewer Board. For me, that is enough of a portend of the future to sour any support for Pam’s opponent.

Please vote for Pam Holmquist for County Commissioner.

— Rick Breckenridge, Kalispell

Not backing the blue

Why did Pam favor professional recreators with a path in Lawrence Park, over safe sidewalks for Evergreen school kids to walk to and from their schools? Why doesn’t Pam support the cannabis tax dollars for Flathead County that could fund more law enforcement?

We seem to have lots of money for lawsuits since Holmquist was elected 12 years ago. To name a few are: Creston water-bottling plant, (selling off Flathead water.), Lake Five Development in West Glacier and in Bigfork the notorious “bridge to nowhere.”

Meanwhile, our Sheriff’s Office is some 10 years behind in staffing while we have experienced both increased population growth of some 15%, and increased crime. From the May 4 Flathead Beacon: “To keep up with the calls, Heino is requesting five more deputies, two additional ICAC deputies, two more court staff and a fifth judge for the 2023 fiscal year. For 2024, Heino is requesting four more deputies.”

As Flathead County officials review the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which will be approved in June, Commissioner Pam Holmquist and County Administrator Pete Melnick say, “it’s too early in the budget process to tell if the department will receive more funding.”

Additionally, “The commissioners do want to support the sheriff as best we can, understanding we are under fiscal constraints.”

Overbudget by $2 million for the old dilapidated Centurytel building, but we don’t have funds to support the Sheriff’s Office due to “budget constraints?”

Politics isn’t meant to be a career and 12 years of Pam Holmquist is enough. She has no answers, no solutions, and her actions/votes on the commission don’t reflect that she will “Back the Blue” and allocate funding to support our Sheriff’s Office. Holmquist must go.

Vote Jack Fallon for Commissioner!

— Dee Kirk-Boon, Kalispell

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