Letters to the editor Feb. 7
Flathead County Attorney Travis Ahner just won a second term to lead the prosecutorial arm of our county justice system. The fact that he ran unopposed is a sad commentary on our two-party system. If he had faced an opponent, perhaps we would have a better idea of his punishment philosophies. As it is, we can only guess.
Recent high-profile cases raise serious questions about his commitment to prosecuting serious crimes, such as the following examples:
A man who confessed to rape: 20-year sentence suspended.
A woman who defrauded donors in a fake cancer scam: sentence suspended.
A man who confessed to attempted murder of his domestic partner by electrocution: sentence suspended.
In the plea bargains, his office records a conviction, but the convicted seldom serve time. Does his office ever take anything to trial, or just plea bargain?
In fact, it may. His office recently pursued an arrest warrant for a neighbor who allegedly picked up a gun to deter an enraged man who was attempting to enter the gate of his property and threatening bodily injury. The neighbor — now charged with class 2 felony — was not informed of the warrant, was arrested six weeks later at his home on a Friday (just before the November election) and spent the weekend in jail (a judicial bail hearing is not possible on weekends). He is set to stand trial this spring.
So, it seems that in Mr. Ahner’s county, defending yourself on your own property is a crime worthy of prosecution — while rape, fraud, and attempted murder are given a penalty pass. Perhaps we should have asked more questions last November.
— Dan Diamond, Columbia Falls
Okay, enough is enough. An article in the Jan. 29 Inter Lake describes what the employees of the Kalispell library are having to endure because of homeless people causing disruption in our library.
No employee should have to be put through training on how to manage these people disrupting the ambiance of the library and frightening patrons and library staff.
We have a real problem with the homeless occupying our parks and public spaces. We have attended City Council meetings and made our voices clear to our county commissioners that the few are ruining things for the many. And that is just not OK.
Law enforcement is stretched paper thin and when businesses are contemplating having to bear the expense of private security, well then the time has come to move this group of folks along. If services are not available here then let’s find a juristiction that has the needed services and make the necessary arrangements.
Veterans can be put in touch with veteran services and those not wishing to avail themselves of drug treatment can be locked up (if space permits) or moved along. Some homeless are chronically so by their own choice. When offered resources many addicts refuse the help.
Are people mentally ill because of their drug use or visa versa? Without the community resources to delve into each person’s psychological profile and tailor a long-range plan for everyone, there are resourceful folks in the community who endlessly lobby for them.
While this is admirable, the community at large has the absolute right to expect a safe and clean community. The Chamber of Commerce shouldn’t have to clean up human waste or librarians take personal safety courses.
Kalispell famously works to preserve it’s “historical flavor.” Is this what you had in mind? Enough is enough!
— Jill Williams, Kalispell
Rebuttal to commissioners
Dear Flathead County Commissioners,
I am concerned about your recent letter about homelessness in the Flathead Valley. I think you presented an illogical argument about why there are now more homeless people in our community.
I am a fourth-grader at Kalispell Montessori and at school, we are currently working on our science fair projects. One of the things I have learned in science is that you need evidence to back up your claims. In your letter, you did not provide any evidence that having services available for the homeless actually increases their numbers. When a homeless shelter opens, people aren’t going to give up their homes to go to a shelter. There is no evidence that people move here because there are homeless services.
It is absolutely and utterly heartbreaking to see the number of homeless people in our community increase. Many of those are families with kids like me. You suggested in your letter that our community should turn against the homeless population and not support the organizations who are helping those in need. I feel the exact opposite is true.
As elected officials, your job is to support all residents, rich or poor, young or old, housed or unhoused. I hope you will take a visit to the Warming Center, meet the people that use those services, and learn more about their stories. You may find that they are not homeless by choice and that they rely on the center to take care of their basic needs.
I want the adults in leadership to step up to their position and collaborate with community organizations to help those in need, not turn your backs to them.
— Mia Lengacher, Whitefish
Thanks Commissioners Abell, Brodehl and Holmquist.
If it wasn’t for your letter in the Daily Inter Lake, we would have forgotten that it as our intention to send a check to the Flathead Warming Center to support the unhoused. We’ll stop by and drop the check off today.
Oh, and by the way, Shame on all of you!
— Vera Smith, Kalispell
Perhaps the Lakeshore Hills couple whose zoning change was denied might consider fronting their home with a sturdy and fast-growing hedge. As it grew higher and higher, they and their neighbors would see each other less and less. Win-win.
— Andy Palchak, Kalispell