The following is a letter-to-the-editor I sent to the Ravalli Republic and Bitterroot Star regarding Ravalli County officials' bizarre and inflammatory statements aimed at Bittrerroot National Forest Service employees over the course of the last couple weeks.
“We’ve got no choice but to push back because nothing is left for us. We are being driven from our homes and now they want to take our guns…At some point we have to stop, and that’s why we are here today.”
Thus spoke Suzie Foss during an ambush of hotheads and low-information malcontents against local Forest Service folks she apparently engineered under the guise of a public meeting. The meeting, in turn, was the commissioners’ anti-government soapbox meant to justify why they’re taking it upon themselves to waste county time and money to advance a county-supremacy scheme by attempting to turn a water agreement between the state and the Forest Service on its head. At a following meeting, planning board chair Jan Wisniewski referred to an agency employee who wasn’t present—a woman--by name, as a “liar”, while commission chair Burrows labeled the agency’s scientific methods of water measurement “bogus”.
To state the obvious, the government employees to whom these coded threats were made are our friends and neighbors. They live in our communities, shop in our stores, send their kids to our schools. They are us, and in fact any one of us who disagrees with the weird path our “patriot” commissioners want to send us down may well be the next target of their clumsy attempts at the clumsy art of demagoguery (A shout-out to all you moderate Republicans who have been “outed” as “socialists” by these Ever-Vigilant Ones).
To simply dismiss the commissioners’ statements and tactics as inflammatory is not enough. After all, Suzie brought up a good point, and with due diligence we should examine it.
Why, exactly, are we “here today”? Is it to do the county’s REAL business? No. Is it to better pursue Good Government? No. Is it to defend our freedoms? Of course not.
Rather, it’s exactly because this rogue commission feels entitled to stuff YOUR tax-funded time and money down into their developer-benefactors’ deep pockets. Look at their Hamilton jetport scheme. Look at Flatiron. Look at Legacy Ranch. Look at the rich who have a penchant for building IN the very rivers their pet commission purports to “protect” with such grandstanding as protesting Forest Service water rights. All are unapologetically benefitting from their political pets’ utter craziness. That’s really the game here.
Since selective interpretations of world history are all the rage now, let’s go there and let’s acknowledge that this isn’t the first time venal obfuscators and their reckless incompetents have run whole communities into the ground for the sake of demonstrably-corrupt agendas. I’d just add that while you’re considering the current N.R.A.-ginned talking points coming out of the mouths of national, state and local iterations of today’s Republican Party (Lincoln’s party, my God!), consider what Commissioner Foss so candidly admitted as to “why we are here today”.