Friday, October 19, 2018

Good old boy system in Sheriff’s Office needs to go


Following up with recent forum reporting in Livingston, I believe it is fair media reporting and supportive of our first amendment right of freedom of speech and of the press; to keep our community informed with accurate descriptions of news as it occurs.

A point suggested during the forum, I suggested citizens not get hung up on qualifications. That suggestion was made because both candidates are qualified. As a matter of fact, we both have 12 years of law enforcement experience. I see that a candidate has embellished years of service. I know this because I have a copy of all employment files for both of us. As for a list of certificates, we both have many; and have held multiple positions. One of the candidates has a more humble approach to campaigning. I did not consider it amazing to the public to list all my one week cop school course certificates, awards acquired; or Army Infantry training that trumps all cop SWAT schools out there. I also think budget and business management experience along with education are very important attributes for the position of Sheriff. I do find it interesting that employment at MSU Police Department in Bozeman for a short time in 2013 has not been mentioned by a candidate.

I am, however, in possession of an employment file for Mr. Bichler from St. John’s Sheriff’s Office stating that he was sued by previous employment for improper use of a company credit card. With a $2.7 million operating budget this fiscal year here in Park County, factual data showing county tax money has been misused by the Sheriff’s Office recently fiscal year 2016 and this past year with false reporting data to acquire a Mill Levy passed on the ballot; I believe County residents are in no position to gamble with this election.

Another point made during forum, I believe there is a good ole boy system in the Park County Sheriff’s Office that needs a proper goodbye. During my tenure at the Park County Sheriff’s Office, I observed more poor leadership than any agency I’ve worked for or been privileged to work with. There’s a reason there is such a high turnover rate for Deputies here; and that (4) Deputies left in the last year. A specific example of this good ole boy system was a promotional process with a pal system. I observed three different Deputies desire to become promoted to Sergeant. Two of the Deputies had many years of experience at the Park County Sheriff’s Office. The third Deputy was a pal of the Under Sheriff with less years invested. Deputies then observed criteria of years at the Department used in past practice to be changed to less time required to enter the promotional process.

During my tenure, I observed multiple personnel taking lunch daily together at locations in the city while (1) deputy was left to take all the calls during that time frame; uninvited to lunch. Not only is that tactically unsound, that is an example of the good ole boy mentality present at the Sheriff’s Office where all personnel are not required to pull equal team-based workload. During my tenure at the Sheriff’s Office, I documented the Sheriff driving past me on his way home several times when I was on traffic stops; not asking if I needed any assistance. That behavior is poor example of leadership, tactically unsound, and direct violation of the oath to protect and serve.

During my tenure at the Park County Sheriff’s Office, I observed multiple supervisors hand off calls in a repetitive manner to subordinates stating they were too busy. During my tenure I also repeatedly observed certain individuals allowed to come onto shift after their scheduled times and leave early before their scheduled end of the shift. I compared payroll report sheets to those documented observations that reflected those occurrences which were not reported. This particular allowable behavior is a direct example of the good ole boy mentality. I aim to close the doors to the good ole boy club we have present; and lead an effective law enforcement agency by example. Past performance and accountability are the best determining factors for what you would see from someone in the future.

A final point made in the forum, was that I would be making a budget cut effecting take home vehicles for Deputies. That’s not an idea I pulled out of the air. Our Sheriff informed us in May 2018 that he did not know where else he could cut budget.

The Sheriff took away Deputies 2-hour call out pay. Deputies can be called, but are not required to answer their phones. I saw what occurred when this call out pay was taken away.

Overlapping shifts and already on shift personnel will handle calls all the same. Agencies that have personnel sharing vehicles; response times are not affected; and it is practiced across our nation. I believe this budget cut is absolutely necessary at this time, to acquire public trust that responsible budget decisions are being made; so that when our time actually comes for growth our community will be supportive; and budget issues on the board are alleviated.

This election was a win-win for me. If I do not get elected, I still accomplished getting into a position of informing the public and County Commissioners of misuse of our tax payer money; and the majority of us will be more powerful voters in the future when data presented to us does not add up.

Dean DuVall
Candidate for Sheriff 2018
Northeast of Livingston
City needs to start construction of new railroad crossing


I think it is long past time for the city to start on the new railroad crossing.

I would vote for the overpass.

For those of you who are in favor of the underpass, I would suggest you walk through the existing one. Go through at different times of day and vary the days. You will find it home to dozens of dirty, stinky pigeons. You will have to step around the bird poop and dog poop. It seems to be a favorite place to stop with your dog. Also after it rains or snows there is about 2 inches of mud on the walkway.

I am definitely against the special improvement tax for people on the north side. The crossing will benefit the entire town and schools. Also why is the entire town paying for that new 9th Street Bridge that is no use except to the people who live on the island?

Why wasn’t there a special improvement tax for that?

Patricia Brandon
Election season gives new meaning to ‘door-to-door campaigning’


“Door-to-door campaigning” has taken on new meaning for my husband and me. We returned from a trip to town one day recently and found a small note pad hanging on our door — a pad with the name and contact information of a candidate running for State Senate on it. Our first reaction was mild annoyance, as this is a candidate we are not supporting, but we didn’t give it much thought.

Upon entering our home, we discovered another pad hanging on the door which leads to our upstairs. My immediate reaction, upon finding that one, was to feel violated. I looked around in disbelief, wondering if someone might actually be inside! I called this candidate’s office and left a message, asking to know exactly who had been going door to door in Pray that day.

Not long after, the candidate himself called me back and admitted that he was the one who had visited. I asked why he had come up a road that has “private” and “no trespassing” signs on it as well as a neighbor’s name, and his response was that he had thought it was the road leading to an acquaintance’s house and that he was going to drop in there for a visit. He confessed to seeing a sign with our name up near the end of the road but decided that since he was already here, he would stop in anyway, even knowing that he was at the wrong house. He also said that he figured we were home because there was a car in the driveway. He then put the little pad on our door, looked through the window and somehow decided that we were definitely home (??!!) and that he would simply come on in and look for us!

Not finding anyone, he went through the downstairs and attached another pad to that inside door. If I had been home alone and had found a strange man wandering around our downstairs, I would have immediately called 911. Believe me, that was the last time we left our door unlocked!

He did apologize to us on the phone, but this candidate had made incredibly bold and poor decisions and had acted irresponsibly. His name is prominently displayed on yard signs around our rural community. Many of our neighbors are supporting a candidate who, in our opinion, should not be making decisions in our state senate. He showed poor judgment when he came on and into private property.

That is not acceptable.

Please support the candidate for Montana Senate District 30 who will make intelligent, thoughtful, responsible decisions for us all: Dan Vermillion.

Dan’s opponent, our uninvited visitor, is not the candidate with our best interests in mind.

June Doolittle

Candidate John Esp stoop up for Montana and is a man of character


In regard to the upcoming election for Senate District 30, I offer this letter to voice support for electing John Esp. It is not his political experience I am writing about, but his personal character that I am familiar with.

The Dark Money documentary focuses on the state of Montana and how dark money damaged our elections. It ends with the trial of a politician for campaign finance violations. The case was prosecuted by Gene Jarussi. What’s not widely known is that John Esp served as the inspiration for Jarussi’s closing argument. Jarussi was moved by Esp’s testimony about how his life was impacted after he was the subject of a dark money smear campaign as a 2010 legislative candidate. When the case was appealed and subsequently affirmed in 2017 by the Montana Supreme Court, Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan said “Thanks to the thoughtful persistence of Montana citizens Debra Bonogofsky, John Esp, and Karolin Rockvoy, Montana campaign finance and disclosure laws remain a strong and powerful ally for openness and transparency in Montana’s election process.”

As an aside, the defining moment of the AAUW candidate forum was when John Esp held up the Democratic Party attack mailer that accuses him of being bad for rural hospitals.

It features a picture of the Pioneer Medical Center in Big Timber. With raw emotion, Esp told the crowd he was on the board that helped build that little hospital. As someone who follows the money, his Democratic opponent and other committees have collectively provided, raised, and spent nearly $100,000, a third of which has been used to attack Esp. This amount of money is unprecedented in Senate District 30, which is in the running for being one of the most expensive for state legislative office in 2018.

Money in politics is one of the biggest threats to democracy. Esp stood up for Montana and for the integrity of free and fair elections. John Esp is a candidate with character.

Sheila Royston

Rex Renk has the experience needed for clerk of Supreme Court


During my 38 years as your Clerk of District Court, I have had the great opportunity to work with Clerks of the Supreme Court going back to Ethel Harrison in 1980 and the current Clerk of Supreme Court, Ed Smith who appointed Rex Renk as his Deputy in 1991. Ed Smith now is retiring and along with myself and numerous State Clerks of District Court are endorsing Rex Renk for Clerk of the Supreme Court.

I have worked directly with Rex Renk for the last 23 years and am strongly recommending him for this position. My office, like the Supreme Court Clerk are not partisan positions and I feel that Rex is the only independent choice for Clerk of the Supreme Court. Rex knows politics have no place in our court system, and has acted as a nonpartisan check and balance on our Supreme Court for all of those years. Rex has the experience to hit the ground on day one ensuring Montanans have access and transparency in our court system.

As Deputy Clerk, Rex revolutionized the way Montanans interact with the Supreme Court.

Rex established the Montana Supreme Court’s first ever case management system;

Rex led the digitization of all Montana Supreme Court case pleadings and the creation of a public view court docket.

Most recently, Rex directed the implementation of statewide E-filing at the Montana Supreme Court – the first state court in Montana to do so.

Montanans and judicial experts agree that Rex is the right choice for Clerk of the Supreme Court.

Rex’s 23 years experience will also be used as a check and balance on the judiciary, and how he’ll keep the Office of the Clerk free from partisan politics.

I hope you will join me in voting for and supporting Rex Renks as the clerk of the Supreme Court.

June Little
Clerk of the District Court

Please examine your candidates prudently


Although our apprehensions of today may no longer be focused on mutually assured destruction, as they were in the Cold War, for those willing to navigate the political process, there is good reason to sound the alarm.

Never in American history has so much dark money been funneled through covert channels to agreeable politicians in exchange for political favor. It’s a sad day when any public servant colludes with deep pocket special interest groups, in effect removing the constituents’ democratic right to govern. Since Citizens United, a 501(c)(4) organization, won a U.S. Supreme Court case against the Federal Election Commission, corporations have been allowed to make unlimited donations to candidates of choice. Political commentator Keith Olbermann spoke in January 2010, “In short, there are now no checks on the ability of corporations or unions or any giant aggregations of power to decide our elections. None. They can spend all the money they want.” Case in point, in 2017 the Montana Supreme Court unanimously upheld a decision finding former Bozeman legislator Art Wittich (R) guilty of violating campaign finance laws. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, “Wittich had violated campaign laws by failing to maintain and preserve records of his campaign contributions and expenditures, by accepting or receiving corporate contributions and by failing to report all contributions.” Recovered evidence presented in Wittich’s trial indicated donations were largely funneled through a circuitous route including Western Traditions, also a 501(c)(4). This may seem of little concern until one fully realizes the extent of harm to our democratic process that those soiled politicians, willing to sell our votes to corporate America, have reeked upon the transparency that once existed in our democracy.

Is it coincidence that recent tax laws, which have expanded the deficit to 779 billion dollars, have significantly benefited corporate America and the very wealthy?

Does it seem happenstance that the Trump campaign enlisted Citizens United president David Bossie as deputy campaign manager in 2016? Why is our POTUS more gracious to Vladimir Putin than our own intelligence agencies? More recently, does it seem a fluke that the Supreme Court of the United States and the FBI appear to take orders from the current administration? Citing Keith Olbermann once again, “The next nine men and women on the Supreme Court will not get there because of their judgment, nor even their politics. They will get there because they were appointed by purchased presidents and confirmed by purchased senators.”

With regard to dark money in politics today, not since Dred Scott sued for his freedom in 1857 has there been more damage to our democratic freedoms.

Although we may not need to take to the bomb shelters, we do need to reign in a political nightmare to safeguard our democratic process and our children’s future. Please, vote to restore transparency in our democracy on November 6.

Gerald D. Cole
Paradise Valley

Local leaders should ask themselves who benefits from their actions


I’ve noticed numerous letters about sign regulations for the Paradise Valley (U.S. Highway 89 South) with nearly all having mentioned about damages to the beauty of the valley. May I suggest that they look at all the grand homes up on the hillsides that cost $500,000 to millions. However, a billboard is a no, no!?

Another subject is the underpass or overpass of the railroad. I have some first hand experience in this regard and Livingston has and is upholding its tradition of way too many who want to be the chief and so nothing gets done.

I would suggest that the commissioners of both the city and the county take a deep breath, sit back and ask themselves if our action is good for all the people or just the dogs that are barking the loudest.

Kirk Walton

Purpose of draft sign regulation is to preserve Paradise Valley


Recently two meetings were held in Livingston, one of Community Awareness, and an official one, of County Commissioners and County Planner Mike Inman. The topic is the zoning district and draft sign regulation. Mr. Inman has extensively explained the process leading to the present signage draft. The draft has undergone multiple legal reviews.

I have heard concerns that this is Communism and a conspiracy, which often comes out of the UN’s sustainability document.

Here are definitions:

Communism is a political and economic system in which the major productive resources in a society — such as mines, factories, and farms — are owned by the public or the state, and wealth is divided among citizens equally or according to individual need.

Does this draft sign regulation accomplish this? No. Agenda 21 is a global action plan for sustainable development into the 21st century. Sustainable development is a process that aims to meets the needs of the present generation without harming the ability of future generations to meet their needs, as adopted by the world leaders at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992.

Does this draft sign regulation accomplish this? No, but perhaps the regulation is a step toward our valley’s sustainability.

That is the whole purpose! To sustain what we have now. This is not a conspiracy to take over private property and have the government dictate how we live. Does the conspiracy notion emanate from fear, and distrust of government?

Long-term residents feel “ownership” of their valley, and these feelings run deep. “Newcomers” may bring fresh ideas, want to work with the existing infrastructure, and feel an equal sense of ownership.

Regarding the draft sign regulation, we are deciding as a community to protect our open space, visual resource and road safety via established guidelines for future signage. Remember, in the word community are the terms “co-” and “unity.”

This means working together to enact this regulation for the near and far future of Paradise Valley.

Jerry Ladewig