The Billings Outpost

Coal to China

Amidst all of the enthusiasm spewing forth in favor of the Otter creek coal development – The University of Montana’s economics department, in an industry-financed study, being the latest – I wonder if there is any entity, agricultural organization, candidate for office, political party or public official in Montana who is the least bit concerned about Tongue River landowners facing federal condemnation of their land for a railroad that will facilitate shipping coal to China?

Wallace D. McRae

Rocker Six Cattle Co.



Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:29

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Stop micro unions

Imagine a workplace where each department is represented by a unique and independent union which each individually negotiates collective bargaining agreements separate from the others. It’s a workplace filled with conflict between departments, and an employer wrapped up in reams of red tape as he tries to negotiate with multiple unions. Not only does this situation sound wholly inefficient, it’s just plain ludicrous.

But this very situation can now exist on account of a new regulatory action by the National Labor Relations Board. Ignoring decades of thoughtful, bipartisan precedent, the Democratic-leaning board rammed through these new rules, which do not benefit the workers or employees, only Big Labor.

A regional NLRB director in New York City recently approved a micro-union application for employees at an NY retailer allowing the formation of separate unions for employees in the second floor Designer Shoe Department and in the fifth floor Contemporary Shoe Department. It may sound ridiculous, but this department store now has two separate unions representing employees doing nearly identical tasks.

Imagine the detrimental impact this could have on Montana employers if they suddenly are forced to negotiate with numerous bargaining units within one workplace. It will divide the workplace and add miles of new red tape which will further stunt job growth.

We can still fix this mistake, as recently new legislation to repeal the regulation was brought in the U.S. Senate, although Sen. Jon Tester, despite the obvious harm caused to Montana, has remained silent. Clearly, the millions he received from Big Labor have bought his allegiance.

This November we’ve got to send someone to D.C. who will stand up for Montana’s best interests.

Ervin Hanks



Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:28

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Women’s rights slipping

Not just women should be concerned that Republican legislators are proposing bills that take away their rights. Republicans, who rail against government interference with individual freedom, want to legislate our bodies.

Many bills concern Viagra. A flood of anti-woman legislation has hit the states and Congress. In rape cases, women are supposed to prove they were forced. How, pray tell, does one “prove” that when like being confronted by a bear, one tries to freeze or get out of the situation without causing worse consequences?

In Idaho state, Chuck Winder’s bill says that not even rape justifies getting an abortion. Rights are also being gutted in the work place. Vicious, sexual verbal abuse is trivialized. Police ignore victims of domestic violence.

A bill sponsor declares there is no pay gap between men and women’s salaries, and even if there was, men need money more because they have families to support. Yet if a man abandons his wife and child(ren), another bill equates single parenthood with child abuse and neglect — all the woman’s fault, not the man’s. In 1991 the Violence Against Women Act was passed as a bipartisan effort. It was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005.  Now it is up for reauthorization and has become a political football — a disgrace.

Women’s rights are fragile; they must be vigilantly protected.

What has President Obama done? He created the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to enforce equal pay; he’s promoted workplace flexibility; he’s gotten rights for those who take care of the elderly and infirm; he promotes attracting women and girls to high-paying, high-skilled jobs; he supports women who breastfeed; his health care bill offers many provisions for women; he supports women business owners and veterans. The choice should be clear.

Valerie Harms



Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:28

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Thanks for publicity

On behalf of the Golden “K” Kiwanis Club, I want to thank you for your continued support of our activities, particularly our sourdough Pancake Breakfast, held April 14. It was a huge success and we served more pancakes than ever before!

As you know, all of the money we raise from the breakfast is used to support our many youth projects in Billings and the surrounding area. The breakfast is one of our annual fund-raisers and your help in getting the message out in The Billings Outpost is greatly appreciated!

Thanks again!

Robert Miller



Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:27

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Coal an outlier

A recent letter extolling coal exports mentioned that “[t]echnology has greatly improved the ability of coal miners and other developers to adhere to environmentally sound methods of harvesting natural resources.”

The coal industry has been a steadfast opponent of limiting its environmental impacts. Why just last legislative session, the coal industry successfully lobbied to make Montana’s “look before you leap” environmental law (the Montana Environmental Policy Act) effectively unenforceable and to prevent anyone from looking at large scale environmental impacts, i.e., anything “regional, national, or global in nature” (Senate Bill 233).

Currently, the coal industry is an opponent of any law that requires it to account for its greenhouse gas pollution. And just last session the coal industry opposed increasing renewable energy in Montana.

Contrary to the letter, coal has long been an environmental outlier. And currently there is no economically viable method to control the most pressing pollution from coal – greenhouse gas pollution, which is altering the climate.

Charyn Ayoub


Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:26

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Not a proud record

To senators and editors:

I want to express my disgust with the biased nature of your representation of Montana in Washington, D.C. It makes no sense to me that you chastise the Postal Service for making a business decision in an effort to consolidate rural post offices for fiscal reasons, yet the Senate has yet to pass a budget in more than 1,080 days. The budget to operate the federal government is the PRIMARY responsibility of the Senate, yet under the leadership (or lack thereof) of Harry Reid, the Senate has done nothing of merit in nearly three years. Is that a record to be proud of?

The Postal Service, to its credit, needs to make some tough decisions and cut costs to meet fiscal budgets. These business decisions are needed to maintain the health of a business, which the Postal Service has been expected to do as outlined by Congress. Postal Service executives have (no doubt) performed studies where best to make cost cutting measures to meet their fiscal budgets; yet you two fail to understand the bigger picture.  Either supplement the Postal Service with additional taxpayer dollars (which I am not in favor of) or allow the Postal Service to meet the goals and objectives outlined in its mission and serve the public as a business. You can’t have it both ways.

The Senate was more than happy to bail out the auto industry and Wall Street at the expense of the stockholders, bond holders, taxpayers and political correctness, and not allow the existing bankruptcy laws to be followed. Now the Senate does not wants to enable the Postal Service to do what legislation directs it to do, act fiscally responsible. The Postal Service is attempting to make prudent business decisions in efforts to decreased the hemorrhaging of costs; yet you two fail to understand how managers with fiscal responsibility to operate a business need to make sacrifices where necessary for the health of their organization.

The failure of the federal government to carry through with commitments seems to run deep. My wife and kids began to collect the newly minted President $1 coins and 25 cent state coins for their collections. We now learn the Treasury Department is not completing this program and banks can’t get the newly minted dollar coins. These coins are now only available at inflated costs beyond the face value from the U.S. Mint.

This is another example of where the government is failing to fulfill its commitments with a program it began. With the Postal Service there is an objective based of fiscal need; this is not true with the Treasury Department and the $1 coin.

Sam Miller



Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:26

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