MTPR

Opinion

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

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

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.”   

Justice At Risk

Aug 27, 2014

When we think of America's legal system, it seems we most often think of our criminal justice system and the protections it offers to hold criminals accountable while also shielding innocent citizens from governmental abuses. In some ways, the more remarkable part of our legal system may be our civil justice system and the contributions it and our constitutional right to trial by jury have made to consumer health and safety.

Green-Washing Coal Mining And Coal Exports

Aug 27, 2014

The Oregon Department of State Lands recently denied a permit to Ambre Energy for its proposed coal shipping port on the Columbia River at Boardman. That proposed Morrow Pacific coal port is the smallest of the three coal ports still under consideration in the Pacific Northwest to move Powder River Basin coal from Montana and Wyoming to Asian markets.

Repower MT Road Trip

Aug 26, 2014

 A gold flash of lightning struck the valley and for just a moment the sky was the richest hue of purple. The thunder surrounded me. In the most peculiar way I was reminded of my childhood. Often, I drove down Las Vegas Boulevard seeing bright lights and flashes of gold.  On the road in Montana, things are much different though.
 

Preventing Suicide Is Everybody’s Business

Aug 20, 2014

Robin Williams’ suicide has rocked the nation.  How could someone with such talent, so universally beloved, not see life as worth living? 

Closer to home, too many of us in western Montana have lost family, friends and colleagues to suicide.  Their deaths leave a hole in our hearts and in the fabric of our community.  As we grieve the loss of a loved one to suicide, we agonize over whether we missed warning signs, and ask ourselves what more we could have done. 

The Need For Comprehensive Federal Forest Reforms

Aug 19, 2014

There has been quite a bit of opinion writing lately about whether members of congress should focus on place-based federal forestland pilots, or whether they should work to pass comprehensive federal forest reforms.

On the one hand, place-based efforts are homegrown initiatives that carve out temporary solutions to meet local needs, while a comprehensive reform package offers sweeping changes that land managers, timber companies and timber-dependent communities can rely on for the long-term.

I want to tell you a familiar story. A young man, we’ll call him Joe, he doesn't make a lot of money, has a toothache and needs to see a dentist, but doesn’t have dental insurance. In a lot of communities this guy is going to land in the emergency room, get some pain meds, maybe antibiotics, and then he’ll call all over town trying to find a dentist he can afford.

Word-Play As A Solution To Western Wildfires

Aug 15, 2014

The 2014 Western wildfire season got an early start with large fires in Washington and Oregon that left those living in Western Montana gagging on the resulting smoke that seemed to be continuously recycled through our valleys. As the summer progresses, we all have our fingers crossed that our own home-grown wildfires will not re-create the “nuclear winter” of thick smoke blocking out the sun at mid-day that we have had to live through in summers past.

Wilderness And Who We Are

Aug 13, 2014

Late July in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness area:  a sweeping cloak of flowers still silently blooms on a high alpine meadow.  Some are rare; all are beautiful.  There are few places like it, even in Montana.

Good Jobs Missoula

Aug 8, 2014

Everyone would like to see Missoula get more good jobs – jobs that pay well, offer good benefits, provide access to quality health care and a secure retirement.

Most people will say that the particular good jobs Missoula needs are in the high tech, manufacturing, natural resource extraction and construction sectors. Indeed, jobs in these sectors tend to offer workers most of the very things that define a “good job.”

All Of Montana’s Waters Need Protection

Aug 7, 2014

Montana’s rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands are an unmatched natural resource.  Our clean, cool waters support an abundance of fish and wildlife, they provide us with clean drinking water, and they give us a place to escape the heat on these August afternoons.

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