The Billings Outpost

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Reform towing practices

I would like to express my concern regarding the towing business in Billings.

The officer asks if one has a preference and if one has no preference for a company, when a collision is experienced, then the reporting officer calls in and a revolving call list is used to get the next tow/flatbed to remove the damaged vehicle. In the stress of the moment, the vehicle may be loaded on one of the flat beds, which would all be fine and well until it was time of offload.

I was involved in one of these fender benders on the Aug. 6 by MetraPark and the corner going to Main Street, about four miles from my home in Lockwood. I had to ride with the tow truck as I had no other option.

When it was time to offload the vehicle I asked how much was the bill, and the driver said with a straight face $525. I asked him if he were serious and he said yes. He came down to $485. He only took credit cards and he charged a $10 surcharge for using the card.

It seems to me that it is about time for the Public Service Commission to look into this industry and regulate the price structure and remove the arbitrary billing method. I had a vehicle towed from Columbus a few years ago for $90 and one towed from 10th and Grand for $65, but that was several years ago. At this incident the charge was $100 per mile, which is exorbitant, not to mention most insurers pay only $50 for a tow.

Something really needs to be done about this sad state of affairs.

Keith Babcock


Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 20:01

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Good stuff

The article, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for Cecil” [Outpost, Aug. 27] was great, although I’m not sure why David [Crisp] would listen to the conservative talk shows.

His analysis of why so many in this country got so upset about the senseless killing of Cecil was, as usual, very perceptive - as were his comments about the conservative response. Empathy, David notes, “seems to me to be a perfectly natural human response, and a healthy one. ... They [animals] remind us of our humanity in ways that mere humans cannot... nothing makes us more human than suffering with our fellow sufferers.”  Good stuff, David. Thanks.

Cal Cumin


Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 19:58

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EPA blocked

Carbon County elected a solid core of county commissioners in John Prinkki, Doug Tucker and John Grewell. Carbon County is one of the 56 counties that make up the Montana Association of Counties. MACo’s job is to advocate for local communities. 

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has attempted to take away private property rights via Waters of the United States (WOTUS) new rules. MACo, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox and 13 western states challenged the EPA. Carbon County Commissioner John Prinkki was called upon to develop an affidavit as an expert in private property rights and that of a county road supervisor.

On Friday, Sept. 4, U.S. District Court Judge Erickson of North Dakota ruled in our favor, blocking WOTUS implementation in those 13 states.  The local government won this round. 

Thank you, Commissioner John Prinkki and the citizens of Carbon County for the strong group of commissioners you’ve elected.

Jim Reno

Yellowstone County commissioner


Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 19:57

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Primary should be open

The Montana Republican Party claims a First Amendment right to associate in a closed primary election where only registered Republican voters are allowed to cast a ballot. The Republicans can holler all they want, but if they don’t put it in writing – they have no such right. The U.S. Supreme Court said that political parties have a constitutionally protected right of political association under the First Amendment when the party states its associative rights in its rules [450 U.S. 107, 122(1981)].

So what do the Republican Party Rules say? Right off the bat, the second sentence says that party rules “govern when not in conflict with state law.” State law requires an open primary conducted by the secretary of state and paid for by Montana taxpayers. The primary election does not belong to the political parties. Montana voters created the Open Primary in 1912 and next year, the primary will be open to all registered voters.

Why am I so sure? Because the 2015 Legislature didn’t pass a bill to close the primary. They didn’t even do something easy like letting political parties choose whether or not to participate in the Open Primary. The Republican-controlled legislature did nothing to implement a closed primary.  In fact, it passed a law making it very clear that Republican County Central Committee members can be elected in an open primary.

So, what happens if Republicans actually win their lawsuit? Will legislators squander tax dollars on a special session? And what if a special session fails to pass a closed primary law?

The fall-back position is a last-minute scramble to call county and statewide Republican Conventions. (The Republican Party platform actually endorses this method to select candidates and choose their favorite for president.)  It’ll be like déjà vu, all over again.

It was the blatant corruption of corporate-controlled party conventions that spurred 79 percent of Montana voters to pass the Open Primary Initiative over 100 years ago.

Carole Mackin


Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 19:56

Hits: 205

Thanks to Daines

Thank you to Sen. Steve Daines for being a strong champion for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Sen. Daines has pressed Appropriations Committees in both the House, when he was Montana’s representative, and also in the Senate, for the most robust funding solution possible.  Recently he offered an amendment, adopted in the Senate Appropriations Committee, to ensure LWCF did not lose out — and restored funding to enacted levels.

Additionally, Sen. Daines recently cosponsored S. 338, a bill sponsored by Senator Burr, R.-N.C., and co-sponsored by Jon Tester and others on both sides of the aisle, to make permanent the authorization of the LWCF and to ensure portions of the Fund are reserved for public access to existing public lands — a provision especially important to Montana sportsmen. This isn’t about politics; it’s about what’s best for Montana.

Simply put, LWCF impacts every Montanan, it’s good for business, and it improves our quality of life here – whether you’re an outfitter, hunter, hiker, a kid or cowboy.  Montana benefits from LWCF more than any other state, and uses that funding to secure access or preserve critical winter range. Reauthorizing and funding LWCF is a no-brainer - it’s fitting that the Montana delegation leads on this issue and we’re very grateful that they do. With less than 80 days left until this program expires, we urge the Montana delegation to work together, build consensus across the aisle and in both Chambers of Congress to ensure this program is reauthorized.

Mac Minard

Outfitters and Guides Association

Montana City


Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 19:55

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What’s right with Billings

When I speak to groups I often ask, “What do you like about Billings?”

This takes some people off-guard as they came to voice complaints. But in a few seconds I begin to hear some of what they like. Then I begin to relate many of the things that I have learned by being on the City Council and visiting with each department.

The finance department has refinanced our bonds and saved us $6.8 million. We have installed new lighting and received $538,000 in rebates.

Parks and Rec took all of the seats from the old baseball stadium and built 100 gray picnic tables that we see in our various parks.

I have visited our treatment court for drug addicts and DUIs. Those who are there because of felonies have graduated with less than 7 percent recidivism.

Twenty-five people work around the clock to provide us the best drinking water in the state.

Each department has a board of citizen volunteers. Working together, they bring plans and ideas to the council.

The new Billings Public Library is another jewel to be proud of with an increasing volume of users.

Have you visited the new water conservation park south of King Avenue and west of Shiloh Road? One of the few in the Northwest.

The Downtown Business Alliance is working closely with the city to place three men on the downtown streets to help get homeless men and women into treatment instead of jail.

Our police department has over 100 volunteers who have saved the department over $330,000 in one year.

Each department must maintain a reserve for replacement purchases. When the fire department needed a million dollar truck, since it had the cash, $100,000 was saved!

Most of the work of the city is done by our nine departments of 850 employees, their volunteer boards and the hundreds of volunteers who give of their time and energy to get things done. We are not perfect, but there are so many people and things for which to be thankful.

Kenneth Crouch

City Council, Ward 5

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 September 2015 22:44

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