The Billings Outpost

Don’t close primary

Gaming the system is the focus of the party insiders, not popular policy. My Party is suing in federal court to overturn a statue passed by the Legislature providing for an “open” primary.

I am opposed to a closed primary and the Montana Republican Party joining this federal lawsuit asking the court to order Montana to close the Republican primary, i.e., only Republicans can vote in the party primary.

A closed primary bill has failed many times in the Legislature. The plaintiffs want a federal judge, appointed for life, to override the elected Legislature – not very Republican.

These party insiders are confirming that they do not want a party about the people. They want a party about the party. That is a recipe for failure. Polls show Montana is about 37 percent Republican; the Legislature is 58.6 percent. Why not stick with a winner?

These insiders are the ones who brought us the ill-conceived “Republican Presidential Caucus” in 2008. The winner of the caucus was to receive our delegates to the National Convention, regardless of the winner of the primary. This alienated voters and was rescinded.

Closing primaries will not prove wise now. It tells the voters of Montana that we care more for our party than the people, and trust a federal court more than our Legislature.

The court recently denied a partial summary judgment motion by the plaintiffs and asked how the plaintiffs even knew who was a Republican? Montanans do not register by party.

However, it matters not because we have same day registration and a person can change their registration before every primary. Montana is made up of independent people who do not like to be labeled. If we deny them the chance to vote in our primary they will pay us back.

Jim Shockley


Last Updated on Thursday, 26 February 2015 16:41

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The audacity to care

On Jan. 27, an astute employee at the 3G’s store on State Avenue and Jackson Street saw something happening on the side of the store. I told her it may be just an accident because an older man was out of his truck and on his phone.  There was a woman in a small white car just sitting there. Then the employee said someone was on the ground.

I walked over to the sidewalk and saw the older man still on his phone and a man lying on the ground. I still had a pair of rubber gloves on because I wear them on the buses so I won’t catch the flu. I saw the man on the ground was still breathing and had asked the older man who was still on his phone if he had called the ambulance. He said he had called 9-1-1 about 20 minutes ago. 

So I touched the man on the ground and woke him. What was his name? He told me, then he said he had had a seizure. I saw a bottle in his front pocket and identified it as seizure medication.

About 10 minutes later a sheriff’s deputy came and I told him about the man had a seizure and that he had been drinking. I asked the man on the ground if he was hurt. He said he hit his head. So with gloved hands I searched his head for any bleeding. There was a bump but no bleeding. 

The deputy watched me a minute or two and then called for help on his phone.  I remained with the man and about 10 minutes later three or four police officers had shown up. They all gathered around about five feet away talking about the man on the ground - how they knew him, his having a history of being drunk and having seizures. They were laughing and joking about this man. 

Never once did they ever try to help him by checking him out. One officer called in for wanted notices and warrants, but that’s as far as it went. The deputy had a few words to say to the man but that was it.

The only reason the deputy talked to this man was because he asked the sheriff to “Just cap me and put me out of my misery.” The officer said he “couldn’t do that.”

About 10 minutes later the fire truck pulled up. Then about seven minutes later an ambulance showed up. Still at this point no one had paid any attention to this man except me. I asked if they (sheriff. police and ambulance crew) could handle this now. Someone said yes, so I was leaving the area and taking off my gloves to throw them away.

Then as I got to the trash can an officer said, “Ma’am, you want to be careful. This man has AIDS.” You can’t get AIDS by touching someone! It took an hour for police, fire and ambulance to finally take him to the hospital.

What bothered me about this whole thing is that no one cared about this man.  Yes, he was drunk, homeless and, yes, he has repeated his behavior over and again. That’s all anyone of them could talk about. It wasn’t about how they could take him to the hospital because of his seizure.

I do not care. He is still a human being and deserved better services than he got. Shame on the local PD, Fire Department and Ambulance Service. I hope I never need their services.

Wonder what Police Chief Rich St. John has to say about this behavior.

Teri Hill


Last Updated on Thursday, 26 February 2015 16:40

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Water compact needs to pass

The looming deadline for the state to ratify the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) Water Compact should have farmers and rancher squirming. This legislative session is the last chance for the compact to be approved. Sixteen tribal compacts have been signed in our state – and the CSKT Water Compact needs to be one of them.

Should the state fail to approve a compact, the water rights of water users across Montana will be uncertain. If the compact isn’t finalized, the cost of litigation fees alone will bring many farm and ranch operations to a halt. Montana’s agriculture industry can’t afford to have uncertain water rights and then wait in line with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other farmers to determine how much water I can or can’t use.

Martha D. Humphreys



Last Updated on Thursday, 26 February 2015 16:39

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Sales tax would hurt

I read with interest the article on the proposed local sales tax in the Outpost on Jan. 22. I wonder if the merchants in Billings will be as enthusiastic about the sales tax as Jani McCall and Dave Nielsen after northern Wyoming reduces their shopping in Billings if the tax is enacted.

I know the draw to Billings by many northern Wyoming people is the lack of sales tax (saving 5 percent to 6 percent). Many make a “buy” list just for regular trips and many make their large-item purchases and building supplies purchases up there to save money. Most of the time the savings pays for the trip to there.

If the tax is enacted, there will be less incentive to go to Billings for purchases. We in Sheridan have a Home Depot, Walmart, Shipton’s, Tractor Supply, Sears, Kmart and other local stores, so why buy in Billings when it will cost the same plus the extra cost of gas?

As McCall said, “It could be a game changer” especially for northern Wyoming residents and some Billings merchants. Also, Dave Nielsen should be informed that a “tax” by any other name is still a tax. I hope the supporters don’t whine when they have to dig into their own pockets to pay higher prices for things.

For the local people, I would like to add that I have never seen any tax that is to offset another tax actually do anything but add to the tax burden with no offsets materializing. Would the offset in property tax match or be more than what will be paid out in sales tax by the local people? If things go as normal, no property tax relief would materialize and the extra burden of the sales tax would be added to the local people.

Terry Wittmer

Sheridan, Wyo.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 February 2015 13:28

Hits: 322

Time for cookies

It’s the 40th birthday of the Samoa cookie, and Girl Scout cookie season is here! Girl Scouts will be knocking on doors through Feb. 22 to take cookie orders and will set up their cookie booths around the community from March 27 to April19.

Of course, we will have all your favorites: Thin Mints, Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-si-dos, Trefoils and Savannah Smiles – and this year we are introducing two new cookie flavors, the Rah-Rah Raisin and the Toffee-tastic (which is gluten free and only available at booth sales).

Everyone knows how tasty Girl Scout cookies are, but did you know what Girl Scouts learn when they sell cookies? By creating a plan, interacting with customers, and working as part of a team, girls learn five skills –  goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics – to help them succeed in everyday life.

This year, for the first time in Girl Scout history, customers will be able to order from Girl Scouts online with “Digital Cookie” – a groundbreaking addition to the Cookie Program.

As we launch into this exciting new cookie season, we thank you for supporting your local Girl Scouts as they develop into tomorrow’s leaders. Your investment today helps us continue to deliver the best leadership experiences for our girls and make good on our mission to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.

Sally J. Leep, CEO

Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 February 2015 13:27

Hits: 334

Support net metering bill

As the installed cost of renewable energy systems continues to fall, small- and medium-scale solar and wind-powered electrical systems become increasingly cost efficient. Montana law currently limits how and how much power can be used to offset power usage by a homeowner, business, or farm or ranch when an installed system generates more electricity than can be used and is put into the distribution system.

This is unfair. Individuals and businesses should be free to make their own energy choices to offset their own energy needs. To address these inequities a package of bi-partisan legislative bills has been introduced and hearings are being conducted in both the Montana House and Senate.

The bills in aggregate will increase both the amount of power for which credit can be given and how it is done which will make aggregate solar systems and larger individual systems economically feasible.

As to the contention by the utilities industry that solar and wind power distribution would be subsidized by the rest of the ratepayers, public service commissions across the country have studied the costs and benefits of net metering and have all determined that net metering results in more net benefits than costs to other customers and the grid. Contact your legislators and urge them to support HB 188, HB 192, HB 294, SB 134, and SB 182. They are good for Montana and for Montanans.

Tom Tully


Last Updated on Thursday, 12 February 2015 13:54

Hits: 438

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