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.

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.


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?

Five-Minute Commencement Speech

May 28, 2014



This is the time of year for commencement speeches.  You know, that onerous tradition of making graduates suffer through a speech before handing them their diplomas. 

Few commencement speeches are memorable – my high-school one was, because the speaker was the actress Margaret Hamilton, the Wicked Witch in “The Wizard of Oz.”  Nobody really listened to the speech; we were all just waiting for her to say, “I’ll get you, my pretty” – which, of course, she did. 

Prior to winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, John Steinbeck decided he was out of touch with America.  He took his French poodle Charley on a cross-country road trip, documenting his adventures in his book, Travels with Charley in Search of America. Steinbeck wrote rapturously of Montana, saying, “…I am in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection, but with Montana it is love….Montana has a spell on me. It is grandeur and warmth….Of all the states, it is my favorite, and my love….”


Farms Have So Much More to Offer

May 22, 2014

I love the change of the seasons. In the Flathead we see the farm fields change from white to brown to black to green; and eventually to many colors of bounty before we go back to brown and start again.

Dealing with a “Speculative and Uncertain” Future

When Planning Electric Supply Acquisitions

Pragmatic Conservation Bills

May 16, 2014

Last fall, my wife and I quit working.  We turned off our cell phones and closed our laptops.  We assembled a stack of good books, a pile of knitting, and packed every piece of wool clothing in the house.  Then, we skipped town. 

We pulled off the interstate at the first opportunity and cruised along the Blackfoot River, running low, cold, and sluggish between its banks in mid-November. We climbed over the Continental Divide and descended onto the high plains that stretch eastward for an eternity. 

Our Public Lands - Not From Our Cold, Dead Hands

May 16, 2014
U.S. Forest Service Northern Region

“This land is your land, this land is my land.” In 1944 Woody Guthrie made this song famous as the US struggled to lift itself out of the Great Depression and the Second World War. Today those words epitomize a new battle occurring in the American West...one where misguided lawmakers are embroiled in a bitter battle over the future of our public lands. This is land they see fit to exploit and sell to the highest bidder and, sadly enough, Montana is no exception.

U.S. Forest Service Northern Region

The most recent report from the International Panel on Climate Change indicates that the greenhouse gases continue to accumulate in the atmosphere at an alarming rate, with concentrations the highest they have been in at least 800,000 years.  The thousands of international scientists comprising the panel warn that resulting global warming will severely reduce sea ice and continental ice masses, producing rising sea levels, dramatic changes in ocean alkalinity and modifications of the dominant ocean currents that produce weather.

Mental Health & Older Adults

May 15, 2014

Good evening.  I’m Susan Kohler, CEO of Missoula Aging Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Missoula and Ravalli Counties.  Because May is Mental Health Month, tonight I want to talk about the importance of maintaining good mental health and seeking appropriate treatment if your mental health is suffering, especially as this subject pertains to older adults.

Medicaid Expansion – Good Jobs, Good Health

May 8, 2014

Seldom, if ever, has such a big win-win proposal been put before the Montana Legislature as the opportunity in 2013 to enact an expansion of Medicaid coverage to thousands of Montanans under the Affordable Care Act.

Producing more than 10,000 jobs while at the same time making Montana and Montanans healthier, the bill was a policy bonanza that should have easily passed the Legislature, but was narrowly defeated based upon political dogma, not facts.

Pride In Our Legal System

May 7, 2014

May 1st was Law Day, America's yearly recognition of and reflection upon the unique role our legal system plays in our democracy. Law Day was first proposed by ABA president Charles S. Rhyne in 1957. It was envisioned as a day to honor our strong heritage of liberty, justice and equality under law. A heritage traced back to the English noblemen who met in May 1215 to prepare the Magna Carta, signed by King John in June 1215.

Coping with a New Cold War in Central Europe: Ukraine and Russia

          Our aging old and bellicose new young cold warriors are rattling their rhetorical sabers and urging that the American military machine rattle loudly some real military equipment to chase the Russians out of Ukraine and end the Russian intimidation of the Ukrainian people.

When people talk about hunger and hunger issues, they often picture a homeless man begging on street corner, and while that’s one face of hunger, it’s not completely representative of everyone hunger impacts.  Hunger and food insecurity impact people of all ages, from all walks of life. Our customers at the Gallatin Valley Food Bank are working families, seniors, college students, and people living on fixed incomes that don’t allow them to meet their basic needs, these are people that are your neighbors, your friends, and fellow community members.

Responsible Coal Development

May 2, 2014

This year’s frigid temperatures have been a stark reminder of the importance of reliable and affordable electricity for families in Montana and across the nation.  For many, the electricity that heats homes and keeps the lights on comes from coal produced in southeast Montana.

Building Bridges from the West to the East

Apr 30, 2014


Innovation. It is a concept that is promoted from the world of business and technology to education.