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.

Fraud

Aug 7, 2014

Good evening. I’m Susan Kohler, CEO of Missoula Aging Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Missoula and Ravalli counties.  Do you know what is considered the “crime of the 21st century?” It is the scam—any scam—that targets people age 60 and older. Because we’re seeing a recent upsurge of reports about financial scams from older adults, their families and retirement facilities, tonight’s commentary is focused on one prevalent type, the telemarketing scam.  I hope the story and tips I share will help you to not fall victim to this crime.   

Montanans Should Be Grateful For The EPA

Aug 4, 2014

In today’s partisan climate it has become predictable sport to rail on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Montana legislators, industries, local government, chambers of commerce and, recently, Congressman Steve Daines, constantly pummel EPA. All because the agency is simply doing its job.

Democracy A Casualty Of Voter-Suppression Politics

Aug 1, 2014

If there's one thing that Americans and Montanans are proud of it's the fact that our form of government is a democracy.

We brag about that around the world and to ourselves.  Our whole belief in American exceptionalism is based substantially upon the fact that we are the oldest continually functioning democratic constitutional governmental structure in the world.

The fact that we have those free elections in our country is something we hold up as a model for the rest of the world to emulate.

Losing Carl

Jul 30, 2014

The men and women who fought in Viet Nam had an expression: “There’s no use talking about Viet Nam because if you weren’t there, you could never understand; and if you were there, there’s no need to talk about it.”  When I heard that said recently, the thought struck me that what was being said about Viet Nam could also be said about losing one’s life partner.  Only those who have suffered the loss can come close to understanding, Robert Frost’s narrator in “Home Burial says: “The nearest friends can go/ With anyone to death, comes so far short /They might as well not try to go at all.”    

Vilification Of The Comp Claimant

Jul 29, 2014

How often have you heard someone say something nasty about an injured worker? Was she accused of fraud? Did they suggest that she was faking her injury?

Those are some of the insults facing injured workers in Montana.

Hi, I’m Tom Murphy.

I’m an attorney from Great Falls, and I represent injured workers against insurance companies.

Worker's compensation is not a government program.

Worker’s compensation is insurance, and there are over 600 companies licensed to provide it in Montana.

The Voice Of The Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative 2014

Jul 25, 2014

Hello everyone! We five participants represent the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, which is usually called YSEALI. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and hosted by the Mansfield Center at the University of Montana.  It is an undergraduate program for student leaders from Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, held over five weeks in Montana, Louisiana, and Washington, D.C.

Rural Call Completion Problems Persist

Jul 24, 2014

Have family and friends told you that they cannot get ahold of you on your phone? Did they say the phone rang and rang and rang, and no one answered?  Or maybe they said they heard a series of beeps or just dead air.  Yet you know you were home all evening and the telephone never rang.

Maybe you are a business owner experiencing an unusual drop in the number of incoming long distance calls. Perhaps you notice odd numbers on your caller ID or a pattern of malfunctioning faxes.

Well, it looks like the Forest Service has done it to themselves again.  By this I mean the recent Federal Register notice announcing the agency is undertaking the writing of national Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Water Quality Protection on National Forest System lands.

Kids Count – And They Need Our Help

Jul 24, 2014

It’s summer in Montana – that means so much to celebrate about living in beautiful Big Sky country:  our lakes and rivers, mountains and trails; glorious national parks, a festival a week to enjoy.  Montana is a great place to live.  So I feel almost guilty in dropping a wet-blanket fact:  Montana is a great place to live, depending on who you are.

Genes And Politics

Jul 16, 2014

Why do people vote the way they do?  If we are supposedly rational, self-interested beings, why, for example, do so many people dependent on government programs vote for Republican politicians so bent on eliminating their benefits?

Dear SCOTUS: Women Are People, Too

Jul 11, 2014

This week the Supreme Court ruled, again, that corporations are people – and essentially that women are not. In an impressive misuse of legal theory, a fundamental misunderstanding of science and anatomy, and a blatant disregard for the rights of women, the Supreme Court decided in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that “closely held” for-profit corporations have religious rights and can use them to prevent employees from getting the health care they need.

Wind, Wildlife and Weeds

Jul 11, 2014

Montanans have tremendous, untapped opportunity to produce clean and valuable wind energy from the windswept, wide-open spaces of eastern Montana. At the same time, growing concern about the long-term survival of sage grouse in Montana and across the West raises the potential for conflict between energy development and habitat protection.

Stream Access Primer

Jul 11, 2014
Man fishing in the Yellowstone River.
Flickr user: Mirrur Image (CC-BY-NC)

Now that the rivers have fallen, summer is heating up and recreationists are hitting the state’s streams and rivers in force, it’s not a bad time to review exactly what is legal and what isn’t regarding recreational access to the state’s waters. When the public hews to the law it better ensures that inevitable and tiresome attacks on Montana’s stream access laws by legislators, non-resident landowners and so-called free-market think tanks will continue to fail miserably.

The Honorable John Q. Corporation

Jul 3, 2014

Happy 4th of July – Independence Day – tomorrow.

But the old red, white and blue looks a little more tattered this year compared to the past.

For today, thanks in great part to the US Supreme Court, John Q. Citizen, the human being citizen who is the bedrock our unique experiment in self-governance, is being replaced by John Q. Corporation.

Corporate Religion

Jul 2, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court ended its term yesterday with a bang, again. We've just seen the Hobby Lobby case that grants some corporate entities the right to religious freedom under the First Amendment. I'm not sure the many people who decried the Court's granting personhood rights to corporate entities for political campaign spending in Citizens United saw this one coming – you could kind of understand a corporation speaking through its wallet, but a corporation gaining personhood to express a religious tenet based on the beliefs of its majority owners?

Hello, I’m Don Sterhan with the Montana Business Leadership Council, a non-profit organization aimed at educating Montanans about the importance of a healthy climate for business and industry to create more jobs, higher wages, and new opportunities.

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Last week, my family hosted a gathering at our home for friends both old and new.  I hadn’t seen our friend Joe in a while, and he asked how things were at the Mansfield Center.  Ironically, on that day, we were welcoming home two Missoula professionals returning from working with youth in Cambodia, and sending off 20 Montana high school students and two teachers for a program in Cambodia.  Things could not be better, on a day when we had such tangible expressions of our work to promote global understanding.

Lessons from Cambodia

Jun 25, 2014

I recently returned from a trip to Cambodia through an economic empowerment program hosted by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at The University of Montana.   Congress created this international exchange in 1961, the same year the Berlin Wall was built.  The Cold War was entering the deep freeze and the Vietnam conflict was ramping up.  Montana’s great statesman Mike Mansfield hoped that an economic and cultural exchange program would build bridges between the U.S. and Southeast Asia.

Art Ortenberg

Jun 25, 2014

This past winter, Art Ortenberg passed away at the age of 87, some 7 years after his longtime partner, wife and friend Liz Claiborne passed.  Although they were very wealthy New Yorkers and could live anywhere in total seclusion, they chose a far more visible path-engaged and active in their communities.  They loved Montana and the folks that live, work and play here.

On the Ownership of Public Lands

Jun 25, 2014

Few topics in the West stir up controversy more quickly than public lands—those places all Americans own together.  The latest headline involves some Utah county commissioner planning an ATV rally on public lands of archeological importance.  While some people see public lands management as federal land grabs and liberty restrictions, others value public ownership as protection for places from private exploitation.  But what does it really mean to own these lands?

A Glimpse into Modern Day Slavery in Montana

Jun 20, 2014

It is an all too familiar story: A young girl with hopes for a better life and a brighter future; a girl desperately trying to escape the poverty she has experienced her whole life, the violence and abuse that surrounds her day in and day out; The girl is introduced to a man who promises her that he can turn her dreams into reality. A man who appears to truly care for her, who tells her he loves her, and that all she needs to do is trust him and everything will be alright… and so she does…she obeys when he takes half-naked pictures of her and posts them online.

School Gardens: Digging into Healthy Habits

Jun 19, 2014

How many times have you heard a parent say, “I can’t get my kids to eat vegetables!” While this is, unfortunately, sometimes true, over the last two years as a FoodCorps Service Member at Hyalite Elementary School in Bozeman, I’ve heard AND experienced the exact opposite. Just last week, I had to ask a kindergartner to STOP eating spinach. He was picking it from the school gardens and shoving it into his mouth so fast that I feared he would strip every plant of its leaves, leaving none for others to try. What a quandary—having to ask a child to stop eating his vegetables!

Veteran's Viewpoint

Jun 18, 2014

This is Dan Gallagher with Veteran’s Viewpoint.

There’s a lot to talk about in the veterans’ world these days.  For example, on May 30th VA Secretary Shinseki resigned that position--but I find neither pleasure nor optimism in that action, mostly because of the way it came to be.

Elder Abuse Awareness

Jun 12, 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 raise the unpleasant but important topic of elder abuse in recognition that June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. I hope to increase your awareness of this growing “silent epidemic” and suggest ways we can all help stop its spread.

Last week the federal Environmental Protection Agency released a proposal it is calling the Clean Power Plan.  If enacted, it would cut carbon pollution nationally by 30 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2030.   Because Montana has already taken steps since 2005 to promote renewable energy and invest in energy efficiency, our state would only need to reduce our carbon pollution by 21 percent from existing levels.  Under this new proposal, Montana would be afforded enormous flexibility to craft regulations that fit our economy, our natural resources, and our power needs.

The Insidious "Cost-of-Living" Raise

Jun 11, 2014

Once a year, for most employers and employees, the issue of cost-of-living raises comes up.  As currently practiced, they are more accurately labeled "Cost-of-maintaining-current-lifestyle" or "Cost-of-Maintaining-Poverty" raises.

Fixing the Student Loan Mess

Jun 5, 2014

I do not accept, carte blanche, the reigning conservative belief that higher taxes directly shrink the economy and reduce economic growth.  However, that macro-economic premise drives decisions in Congress that have made it virtually impossible to approach our economic challenges in a balanced manner.  As a result, the only balancing that has been occurring is the balancing of our economic solutions on the backs of middle and lower income families.  Meanwhile, money is allowed and even encouraged to continue to “trickle-up” to the wealthy, increasing income and wealth disparity --

Court Secrecy Kills, Again

Jun 5, 2014

Al Smith, Montana Trial Lawyers Association.

In April I spoke about GM, its problem ignition switches and the lax federal regulatory system. GM hid dangerous defects from the public and federal regulators, and as a result Americans have needlessly died. Last month, federal regulators fined GM and further investigations are underway.

A Call to Action

Jun 4, 2014

In Fire and Brimstone: The North Butte Mining Disaster of 1917, author Michael Punke describes a time in Montana when the “Copper Kings,” William Clark and Marcus Daly, reigned supreme through graft, corruption, bribery, and greed.  Even Mark Twain who knew William Clark personally commented about Clark, “by his example he has so excused and so sweetened corruption that in Montana it no longer has an offensive smell.”  As the sordid story of Clark’s purchase of a Senate seat unfolded, however, a group of people did find the smell of his dealings offensive, and they set out to make

A Path Forward for Energy Production

May 29, 2014

I’m Shelby DeMars with Count on Coal Montana, a coalition advocating for increasing Montana’s coal production to provide new jobs and opportunity for our state, and to supply the world with affordable energy.

I’d like to talk about two of the most serious problems facing us today: climate change and energy poverty.   Both are big, difficult challenges, and they’re so inextricably intertwined that we can’t discuss one without the other.

First, what are the facts?

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