The Billings Outpost

Money talks

In almost every department of our city, county, state, federal, college, and school district offices, at the end of every fiscal year, any money that is left over, in most cases, is spent on things that are not needed (luxury items). Department heads are not required to return the unused money back to the general fund so don’t do it.

Let us say that one half of that amount could be given to the employees as a bonus (if they qualify). the other half goes back to the federal government to help retire the national debt. Only next year’s budget could be cut, making each department more efficient.

All the employees in each department would then become a watchdog for their department. then they could all say, “Hey, guy, put that pencil/pen back. You are walking out with part of my bonus.”

For instance, if there were 50 million employees walking out with a 5 cent pen or pencil (a small item), this would amount to $1.25 million. Perhaps this could go a long way in retiring the national debt and reduce our high taxes to maintain our schools, city, county, federal and state branches.

W.T. George



Last Updated on Thursday, 05 April 2012 19:51

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Double realities approaching

I just came from seeing Mark Mathis’ film “SpOILed: The Movie,” about the coming reality of peak oil.

Mr. Mathis makes clear that Americans are “spOILed” as he illustrates the benefits of our oil economy: sanitation, extraordinary mobility of people and goods, plentiful global food, computers, toys, entertainment and amenities galore, all dependent on liquid fuel.

Peak oil means that we have a few decades to prepare for life without the huge quantities of energy we currently consume. This is the best case scenario, sans geopolitical or natural disaster shocks, disregarding the rapidly growing global demands for oil. The actual end of the oil party, when we have to face the new reality, could come in 10 years, or next week.

Mathis advocates drilling as much as possible to buy time to develop alternatives to petroleum liquid fuel. Strange that he completely neglects the other reality: American waste of such a precious commodity.  We wallow in the trivial, pour oil into landfills in the form of plastic packaging and doodads and burn oil in pursuit of fun and thrills. Mr. Mathis says we are “spOILed” but fails to draw the obvious conclusion: In an oil-constrained world we will be making choices between the unnecessary and life’s essentials.

He says it will take decades to develop alternative liquid fuels. He fails to acknowledge they will never support our wasteful lifestyle.   Why doesn’t Mr. Mathis recommend that we develop NOW efficiencies, conservation habits, and lifestyles to stretch our oil supplies AND build a less energy-intensive civilization? Doing so now is difficult; waiting until it is forced on us will bring economic and social cataclysm. Will we prepare ourselves for the double realities approaching us, we know not when?

Mary E. Fitzpatrick



Last Updated on Thursday, 05 April 2012 19:50

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Cebull should study history

The predicament of Chief District Judge Richard Cebull caused by blind hatred is not going to go away and it is not a simple mistake. I have no doubt that Judge Cebull has had an excellent education in law but it appears that he may have slept through his American history classes.

I believe that after he resigns or is impeached that it would be prudent for him to use his new leisure time to go back to school and have another round of United States history. He may gain the knowledge that there are millions of United States citizens who have mixed blood caused by the practice of slavery.

Also he may learn that there was a Civil War ending in 1865 with a half-million casualties and the emancipation of the slaves. However, their freedom has been jeopardized for almost 150 years by the Ku Klux Klan, unjust laws and prejudice.

As a former teacher, I would also suggest besides the regular study of United States history, that he read and be inspired by the biographies of Frederick Douglass, American abolitionist, orator and author, and also American reformer and educator Booker T. Washington, who started the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and was honored with degrees from Harvard University and Dartmouth College. They can be found in all encyclopedias and public libraries.

Judge Cebull has stepped on a lot of toes!

June Trees



Last Updated on Thursday, 05 April 2012 19:48

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We all make mistakes

The other day I was in a business and walked past the owner and an officer. I overheard the owner say, “Parents will tell him, ‘My child would never do anything like that.’”

I would have to say, “I would hope my child knows better than to do that.” Being realistic, what we hope our children do and what a child does are two different things. I have done several things I have known better than to do and I am sure I will do more things about which I should know better.

Several reasons come to mind: carelessness, not thinking, some routine chore you forget a step from, or showing off to friends. All these things do not make it right or ok, but hopefully someone learned from it.

The old saying, “Show me someone who never made a mistake and I will show you someone who has never done anything,” is still true. But I would hope people would learn. We were not infallible and neither will our children be. We can just teach them to know better, or learn from our mistakes.

Lauris Byxbe

Pompeys Pillar


Last Updated on Thursday, 05 April 2012 19:46

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Schools deserve better

Few things are more important to a community than well-run and locally controlled schools. Virtually all school districts, along with teachers, parents, and community leaders, strive to provide the education and training our children deserve with less money than in times past. While local communities band together, however, State Superintendent Denise Juneau and the Office of Public Instruction have proven themselves to be unreliable partners.

Building a new school is no small decision. Responsible and engaged communities rightly consider whether a new building is necessary and financially justified. Until recently, schools have benefitted from a longstanding practice enabling greater flexibility to direct budgets to areas of local concern.

A little over a year ago, Denise Juneau’s staff formally confirmed this practice and school districts took them at their word. Now, after years of planning and consideration, local schools learn that the Office of Public Instruction has informed the attorney general this practice, the very practice they advocated as recently as last school year, is illegal.

This level of chaos for our schools cannot be tolerated. The Montana School Boards Association and Montana Rural Education Association summarize the situation with the following words of caution: “relying upon opinions issued by OPI and acting in reliance upon such advice only to find that there are fundamental disagreements among OPI staff could very well place your district in jeopardy.”

As superintendent of Public Instruction, I will provide schools across Montana with a stable and predictable set of rules and guidelines.  Consistency in application and an emphasis on local control of public education will be provided. The Office of Public Instruction will be a partner and resource for our schools. It will work to strengthen our education system based on local needs and goals.

With over two decades working in public education, I understand the importance of making policy changes in collaboration with local stakeholders across the state in order to reduce negative unintended consequences. Education and community leaders must be able to rely on official opinion from the Office of Public Instruction in order to set plans that make the most use of tight budgets and best serve students now and in the future.

Montana is home to great diversity of schools, most of which do well but need greater decision making power at the local level. In my administration, our schools will be able to rely on the Office of Public Instruction to further their plans by encouraging local control, best practices, and consistent access to resources.

Sandy Welch



Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 10:27

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