Commentary

Commentary from a variety of Montana citizens expressing a range of viewpoints.

Views expressed by our commentators do not necessarily reflect the views of this station.

Once again, for the third time, the Montana GOP has trotted out a plan to break and cap the Coal Tax Trust Fund that has been one of Montana’s biggest financial and policy success stories. In this attempt to steal your savings, they have demonstrated their lack of prudent money management skills and their propensity for trying to turn your savings account into their political slush fund, with no respect for the visionaries of the past who figured out how to protect our children and grandchildren's future.

Commentary: Politics Or Prudent Money Management?

Mar 3, 2015

Here are some givens, some just plain facts. Public infrastructure investments are for the long-term, they serve both now and future generations. Also, public infrastructure is public: Montana’s citizens (and businesses) enjoy the benefits of having backbone infrastructure in place that is not the obligation of private companies. And because of those facts, public infrastructure is normally funded (totally or partially) through long-term bonding (borrowing) so that those folks who use infrastructure into the future help pay for the infrastructure they are using.

Martin Luther King And Montana Medicaid Expansion

Feb 11, 2015

As we recently celebrated Martin Luther King, we were not just celebrating the actual impact of the man but also his inspiring vision of an equal America. That vision was an America of racial equality but also an America of economic justice. Martin Luther King saw the two as inextricably intertwined.

Consider his emphasis in the weeks before he was assassinated in 1968, when he spoke eloquently of two Americas.

Speaking Up

Nov 14, 2014

This is my last commentary for Montana Public Radio. I know they need this time for news, but I’ll miss being one of the public voices on Montana Public Radio.

So what’s on my mind as I sing my radio swan song? The election is over, thank heavens. I’m moving on to focus on the upcoming legislative sessions, both in Helena and in DC.

Honoring Mike Mansfield’s Legacy of Leadership

Nov 13, 2014

Hello, I’m Deena Mansour, Associate Director of the Mansfield Center at the University of Montana. For several years, we’ve had the honor and the pleasure of engaging directly with you through our monthly commentaries.  As I deliver this final commentary on behalf of our Center, I reflect on who we are, and how we can best serve the people of Montana.

Going Forward

Nov 7, 2014

Montanans love rivers.  We float them, fish them; we hike and drive next to them.  We just watch them go by.  And sometimes we toss stones into them.

Imparted Montana Values And The Election

Oct 23, 2014

Yesterday would've been my father's 95th birthday. On Monday, my mother will be celebrating her 95th with all six of her sons and some of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren with her.

Last month seven former Montana Supreme Court justices had an opinion piece published in the Missoulian. The title of the piece was Will Montana Judges Be For Sale?

Twenty five years ago Senator Mike Mansfield said, “We are living in a fast changing world.

You are living in a world that is shrinking, the globe is becoming a neighborhood. It’s going to shrink further still. We’re going to become closer neighbors still. We are going to have to understand each other better.”

Suggestions for Civility

Oct 15, 2014

Lately I’ve been thinking about civility.  Or the lack of it.  I know – what a quaint notion in the 21st Century; the thought that – even in an election year – we can discuss important, provocative and even divisive issues with civility and mutual respect.  It sounds so…archaic.

Montana’s Forest Products Week

Oct 14, 2014

October 17 through the 24 marks the fourth annual Montana “Forest Products Week”.  In 2011, the state legislature set aside a week, every October, to recognize the importance of Montana’s forest products industry, their contribution to the management of our forest lands, to Montana’s economy, and to the stability of our timber-dependent communities.

Put Montana on Your Plate this October

Oct 10, 2014

Delicious! The lasagna I am enjoying for lunch is excellent. Homemade noodles with local beef are complimented by saucy cheesy goodness. I also had the option of a colorful build-your-own salad or a homemade vegetable beef soup, so fitting for this drizzly day. The restaurant? Park High School cafeteria in Livingston, Montana. That’s right. I am eating school lunch with quality local ingredients made and served with love by the school food service staff.

Our Attitude Toward Government

Oct 10, 2014

The upcoming election brings into clear view two of the strongest and most contradictory features of our American tradition.  First is the democratic character of our politics—the fact that we, in principle if not wholly in fact, govern ourselves through the consent of the people.  In doing so, we express faith that democracy brings justice.  The second feature is the strength of self-interest, the insistent tendency within people to seek through political power not what is good for all but best for themselves.

Calling Out Daines And Zinke

Oct 7, 2014

In what must be their PR people’s worst nightmares, both Steve Daines (R. candidate for US Senate) and Ryan Zinke (R. candidate for US House) have recently shown their true characters, and it ain’t pretty, folks.  

Kudos to Governor Bullock and the MT DEQ for their work on carbon pollution at power plants.

Retirement Planning

Oct 2, 2014

Good evening.  I’m Susan Kohler, CEO of Missoula Aging Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Missoula and Ravalli counties.  Tonight I want to emphasize again the importance of retirement planning, especially for women.

Benefits of Governor Bullock’s Trade Mission

Sep 30, 2014

Reflecting on U.S.-China relations, many Montanans may have mixed feelings and a variety of views.  On the one hand, China is a distant foreign country with a different values system, a proportionately large grip on U.S. foreign debt, a growing military menace and a challenge to U.S. leadership in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Montana Birds and Climate

Sep 29, 2014

While you’re out enjoying the beautiful days of fall, keep your ears open for the sounds of our local birds. With most of our summer migrants gone, it’s the familiar nuthatches, siskins and chickadees whose calls ring through Western Montana’s forests as the larches begin their slow fade to gold. These year-round residents, the ones we see in the hills and at our bird feeders through the winter, carry us through the dark months. We take their subtle calls and quick-moving flocks for granted, but they’re a big part of what sustains this landscape. How would it feel if they disappeared?

Backsliding into Corporate Dominance?

Sep 25, 2014

I recently dropped in on the annual gathering of the remaining delegates to Montana’s 1972 Constitutional Convention.  The Constitution these heroic Montanans crafted made Montana the envy of other states.  As time takes its natural toll and we lose more of these champions of the people, we also are in danger of losing much of what they accomplished as today’s power elites seek to reverse the progress these great Montanans helped make.

Gun Safety - Get Your Remington Repaired

Sep 24, 2014

It happens every year for me, those crisp early mornings, the angle of the light, even the smell, tell me, in a way that no calendar can, that hunting season is upon us. Hunting is a family tradition in Montana, a higher percentage of our population hunts than in any other state, and it is common to see hunting parties of two or three generations in the woods and on the prairies throughout Montana. In my experience, the stories from hunting trips are not primarily about the kill, but rather about the experience of being with family and friends in Montana's wild country.

Montana coal boosters, including the coal companies themselves, have been warning Montanans that if they do not embrace unlimited coal exports to Asia, Montana will lose thousands of coal mining jobs while gaining nothing in the form of environmental protection.

Driving Mrs. Roosevelt

Sep 18, 2014

Have you ever had the opportunity to sit and converse with greatness, and to be enveloped in their aura?

For five days, in June of 1955, I was afforded that incredible experience as the driver for Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt. Permit me to expand.

In the 50's one could still work their way through college. One of my jobs was as a campus guide for the PR department of my school, Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. The annual Board meeting and Arts Festival were held each June.

Five Tips for Effective Philanthropy

Sep 16, 2014

The lake cabin is closed up; the boat’s in dry dock; the kids are back at school – all signs that fall is here.  And so is the beginning of the fall fundraising season.  Our mailboxes – both electronic and old-fashioned – are filling up with charitable appeals. 

So, let’s talk about how to be an effective philanthropist, whether you’re giving away 50 bucks or 50 grand.

Megafire Trends

Sep 15, 2014

This week, the Montana Wood Products Association holds its annual convention marking 42 years as a trade association dedicated to preserving and promoting Montana’s wood products industry. 

Women Are People

Sep 12, 2014

When I was in college I had the good fortune to land a work study job at the Women’s Resource Center on campus.  It was there that I got introduced to feminism.

Energy Choice For Montanans

Sep 12, 2014

Renewable energy is helping Montana families and businesses take charge of their power supply like never before.  There are now more than 1,000 solar arrays, small scale wind turbines and micro-hydro generators producing clean energy in the state. The wholesale cost of solar panels has dropped by two-thirds since 2008. Production from on-site energy systems in Montana has nearly tripled in that time.

Capital Punishment And Our Character

Sep 12, 2014

About a week ago, Henry McCollum walked out of a prison where he had been on death row for 30 years. DNA evidence showed him to be innocent of the crime for which he had been convicted. Also recently, botched executions in Arizona, Ohio, and Oklahoma made headlines as prisoners experienced torturous deaths.

Suicide And Older Adults

Sep 4, 2014

Good evening. I’m Susan Kohler, CEO of Missoula Aging Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Missoula and Ravalli counties. Tonight my commentary is about suicide, a tragedy that has touched many of us personally. Although some find this topic uncomfortable, I hope to raise awareness of the importance of taking action and finding solutions. I’ll also tell you about an important summit on suicide prevention being held here next week.   

Political Debates Strengthen Our Democracy

Aug 28, 2014

In the United States and in Montana, the proper functioning of our democratic form of government requires an active and informed participation by the electorate.

Broad “participation” is essential to the American democratic election formula.  That is why GOP efforts at suppressing the vote across the nation, the subject of my commentary last month, is not just reprehensible, but also detrimental to the proper functioning of our system.

An Open Letter to Steve Daines:

Aug 28, 2014

Mark Twain once observed: ”A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  Our American Sage wasn’t wrong on that matter.  A recent example of Twain’s words was the wham-bam, thank you, ma’am destruction of one of Montana’s finest people — a man who had spent thirty-three years in service to  his country and this state.  Not once in the rush to judgment about this man, did someone of note stop to say, “Wait! Let’s look at the facts.”   

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