The Billings Outpost

Welcome home

To our Yellowstone County state representatives and senators - welcome home!

I’d like to thank you for serving us in Helena. I know you took valuable time away from your family, business, children’s basketball games, PTA meetings, etc. Not all of you agreed on every issue nor should you have. We are all different people and you did your job to represent us. From my perspective, you did well.

James E. Reno

Yellowstone County commissioner

Last Updated on Thursday, 09 May 2013 00:50

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What Christian values?

The lives of many of our fellow Montanans will end unnecessarily before their time if the plans of some Republican Legislators are successful in killing Medicaid expansion. Best estimates put the number of dead at 300 per year.

Have these elected Republicans forgotten doctors and hospitals do save lives? No, they see the facts, but their callous disregard for the lives of those who cannot afford health insurance is breathtaking.

The governor wants to get health insurance to people who can’t afford it. Most of the cost will be paid by the return of our taxes we sent to Washington. Hundreds of high paid jobs would be created as well.

Sen. Jason Priest of Red Lodge says of the governor, “He wants to grow government.” A good place to cut government is for Sen. Priest, and some of his colleagues, to give up their tax payer-funded health insurance. Where are the Montana Christian values these Republicans told us about when they were running to lead the government they seem to so hate?

Mike Penfold

Billings

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 April 2013 17:13

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Women’s prison problems

Don’t be fooled by the good press you read. Or write. The Montana Women’s Prison is a rotten apple dipped in gold paint.

The population of prisoners is NOT down 25 percent as reported in the news media. Department of Corrections apparently counts differently from regular people. Their method of counting amounts to hiding the true recidivism rate.

Programming is ineffective. Kim Gillan now has another grant. Her last grant, “New Path/New Life,” was a bust. Maybe this one will have better results. Nevertheless, grant money is flowing into Montana Women’s Prison from many sources.

The programs funded by the grant monies are ridiculous and ineffective. For example, women are not treated equal to men. CP&R is for male sex offenders and Tamar is for sexually abused women. However, staff commonly uses these two obviously different programs for all the inmates. And participating in the programs is required for release.

In Tamar, women learn coping skills like “take a bubble bath, walk in the park, drink hot cocoa with whipped cream, and light candles.” None applies, obviously.

All this affects the recidivism rate Gillan is chasing. She should spend more time helping inmates be protected from felony crimes and victimization by inmates and, unfortunately, staff as well.

The good she hopes to accomplish is overshadowed by targeting, harassment, bullying and gender/sexual orientation discrimination.

Big Jay was 100 percent on-target last year. He highlighted the abuse. Eventually Manny Zuniga was removed from MWP. However, media contact was punished by warden action. Really good people do work here, but are overshadowed by a few scumbags. Such scumbags should be the subject of an inquiry by a federal grand jury.

An emerging scandal is drug smuggling into MWP. Inmates, highly placed in the therapeutic community, have been smuggling dope via visiting and the dog yard. Of the many involved, one committed felony forgery last year on MWP computers. She was never charged.

I doubt MWP will do much about the alleged felony forgery – the prison covers everything up. The dogs are well-attended to, but the rest means nothing. If it did, this letter wouldn’t be necessary.

May Simmons

Billings

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 April 2013 17:12

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Disappointed in Legislature

We are extremely disappointed with our state legislators’ rejection of family planning funding (Title X) for 25 Montana health clinics. Sen. Jason Priest of Red Lodge has singled out Planned Parenthood of Montana, which operates five of these clinics, as the reason he and his fellow legislators will not support family planning funding. To make a political point they are prepared to punish all 26,000 Montanans who receive family planning and preventative health care services at these clinics.

Their allegation that federal family planning funds could possibly be used to lobby and to provide abortions is patently false. As members of the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood Montana, it is our fiduciary duty to make sure that all funds are audited and that none are misused.

Sen. Priest knows this; we have met with him to discuss our auditing process and have offered to go through our audits with him. Yet he and his partners in Helena continue to play politics with healthcare and family planning for Montana citizens. It’s not just disappointing; it’s tragic.

Susan Bury

and Mitzi Vorachek

Red Lodge

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 April 2013 17:08

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Founders on guns

Of late there has been much discussion regarding the reason the Founding Fathers wrote the Second Amendment. Some are even saying it was to maintain slavery only. To clarify one needs to hear from these very men. A caution must be offered as there are a number of groups who are attributing erroneous quotes to the Founding Fathers.

Samuel Adams: “And that the said Constitution be never be construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”

Patrick Henry: “The great object is that every man be armed and “Everyone who is able may have a gun.” And “are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? Where is the difference between having our arms in possession and under our direction and having them under the management of Congress?”

The greatest danger to American freedom is a government that ignores the Constitution” and “Those who hammer their guns into plowshares will plow for those who do not.” And, “What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit if resistance. Let them take arms.” This statement was attributed to Thomas Jefferson but was apparently false. Whoever wrote it is right on, I believe.

Adolph Hitler is given credit for the gun control/confiscation aimed at the Jewish population. He encouraged arms possession by his “loyal” associates and the armed forces, which were later used against the Jewish people and against his political opponents. It is true that Sen. [Thomas] Dodd went to Germany and studied Hitler’s gun laws and returned and presented his Gun Control Act of 1968.

The society that Hitler made was anything but safe, and what he said sounds so familiar in the debate toward more gun control. The opposite is true: gun confiscation leads to mayhem on the streets by any number of groups from the government through the criminal gangs and will bring in the enemies of the United States and of liberty and individual freedoms.

In the formation of the Second Amendment there was much debate regarding the “well formed militia” and the “rights of the people.” History has taught that the defense of freedom rests in the hands of the people and the people make up the militia.

There is an excellent treatise, “The Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights” that can be found at www.guncite.com/journals/hardh and that originated with the University of Virginia’s Journal of Law and Politics.

Keith Babcock

Lockwood

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 April 2013 17:07

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Legislators wrong on Medicaid

As someone who was in Helena on Monday for the rally for Medicaid expansion and spoke for the bill, I am highly disgusted that House Bill 590 was shot down on party lines. HB 590 would have affected my life in four good ways. I would have had insurance, my husband and son still would have had Medicaid, my husband’s spend down would have disappeared, and I could have gone back to work. Idiots killed the bill based on the thought that somebody making $15,000 should be able to make $700 a month insurance payments. That would leave us with $552 to live on a year. I was very upset last night. I had hopes of returning to work. It is just not possible.

I can’t afford the 20 percent Medicare doesn’t cover. I wouldn’t be able to afford $52,580, which is 20 percent of the kidney transplant, and they would want that in advance. If I went back to work without Medicaid expansion everything I made and more would go to my husband’s medical.

There would be nothing left to go to basic living needs for a family of three. And of course I wouldn’t qualify for any extra help with any of this due to my working income. So somebody else tell me to get a job; yeah, that’ll help.

Jenn Caves

Butte

Last Updated on Thursday, 04 April 2013 17:06

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