NOTE: THIS LETTER TO THE EDITOR WAS SENT TO THE PHILLIPSBURG MAIL ON 09/21/12 IN REFERENCE TO A MEETING HELD WITH THE P’BURG COUNTY COMMISSIONERS ON 09/18/12.
I’m writing in reference to a recent experience with the Granite county commissioners.
First some background. I’m one of many who are very concerned about the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) reserved water rights compact currently being negotiated by the state of Montana, the federal government, and the tribes on the Flathead Indian Reservation.
This compact is far reaching and unprecedented, and has the potential to negatively impact the economic engine and property values throughout western Montana. Although the compact has been in negotiations for more than a decade, it’s flown under the radar of most people for far too long. Many in our region have no idea that this compact reaches well beyond reservation boundaries into all of western Montana, an area where 350,000 people reside. This compact is in the home stretch, and is expected to go to the Montana legislature in 2013.
For these reasons, myself and a group of other concerned individuals from Lake and Flathead counties plan to visit the commissioners in all 11 counties impacted to make sure they’re fully aware of the compact and its implications to the people they represent. Keeping this goal in mind, a September 18th appointment was made with the Granite County commissioner’s office to present information about the compact to them.
We were on time and ready to talk. The county commissioners were not. Ms. Connor was the only commissioner there, and when asked if the other two were coming, we were told one had a previous engagement, and the other was getting his haircut and would be a few minutes late (he never came).
We quickly discovered we’d been set up by someone from the commissioner’s office. Mr. Bill Schultz from the state compact commission was contacted to attend. This is surprising considering the fact that the commission has already been to Granite County on numerous occasions to explain the compact. It’s interesting to wonder why the State was willing to dispatch someone to take notes and keep track of a handful of Montana residents at a simple meeting with county commissioners.
All of this gave us the distinct message that the commissioners weren’t interested in hearing what we came to talk about, so an open discussion about the compact never took place.
Never before have I come across such rudeness and arrogance from local elected representatives. Granted, we are not Granite county residents, but we were on the agenda, and drove more than 260 miles for a meeting that someone in your county commissioner’s office clearly did not want to take place.
We thought the people of Granite County might be interested in knowing that at least two, perhaps all three of your commissioners chose not to hear a differing point of view on the reserved water rights compact.
Please take some time to learn more about the compact before it becomes a reality. Check out the Western Montana Water Rights Blog at: https://westernmtwaterrights.wordpress.com/ or call us at 406-626-3353 for more information.