© 2014 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana
Lake County Commissioner Gale Decker responded to our recent blog post THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION. For someone who wants the public to believe that they have done their due diligence on the issue, we say it is about time he visited our blog. Does anyone want to bet that the only article he chose to read was the one that was critical of the recent action of the commissioners to endorse the compact? It’s too bad that the bar these commissioners set for themselves is far lower than the expectations set by the public.
Read his comments and our response to him below:
COMMENTS FROM COMMISSIONER DECKER:
Name: gale decker
Comment: This is my first visit to your website and will say that there is important information included. I would like to comment on the comments that were posted following the meeting in the Commissioner’s office on Jan. 2nd. The meeting that was held did not meet the requirements of legal noticing. The proposed action that was the topic of discussion carried with it no ramifications for county residents. The meeting and the action (letter of support or non-support) was simply to voice an opinion held by the commissioners. The letter had been drafted, primarily by myself, the day before, but several changes were made on Friday morning before the letter was signed by the three commissioners. I do value our relations with tribal government, but how our decision to support or not support the compact would effect the Kerr Dam purchase was not a factor in my decision. I cannot speak for the other two commissioners. I think a positive relationship with tribal government is important. The reservation is here to stay and we, in my opinion, need to find ways to co-exist. I was upset over those who have repeatedly told me that I haven’t done my homework, or don’t know the facts. I have read and studied all relevant documents. I attended two community meetings, in Ronan and Polson. I read every letter to the editor and column that was published in local papers. Certainly, I could do more, but I was, and am, comfortable in my decision to support the compact. I also have a stake in this debate from a personal standpoint. I live here, and pay property taxes. I have children, grandchildren and a great grandchild living on the reservation like many of the anti-compact foes. It has been an extremely devisive issue and only time will finally determine the consequences of our actions.
OUR RESPONSE TO COMMISSIONER DECKER:
Thank you for taking the time to comment concerning our article on the blog about your decision to endorse the compact. We are very disappointed in the commissioners, but sadly we are not surprised. We believe that your decision to support the compact gives far more deference to your desire for good tribal relations than to the property and constitutional rights of ALL OF YOUR CONSTITUENTS. The plain and simple truth is the compact commission has not provided enough information for decision makers and leaders to make an informed decision about it, and you should have abstained from making any statement.
The compact impacts 360,000 Montanans in 11 counties, and is nothing like any of the other “negotiated settlements” for the rest of Montana. It is mind boggling to think that anyone could endorse this compact without knowing more about what its impacts will be. In this day and age, when environmental and economic impact statements are required for many, many things, all insignificant compared to this agreement, we have to ask why the compact commission has not provided such studies as part of their “due diligence”. After all, this compact is a forever document and we only get one chance to get it right. Instead they tell us we should pass the compact and find out what is in it later.
Contrary to what you might think, we believe the tribe has water rights like anyone else, but they do not have water rights for all the water in western Montana. Ask the compact commission how much water is in the compact. They will not tell you.
Are you aware that the abstracts for every drop of water in Flathead Lake give the federal government / CSKT time immemorial ownership of 19 million acre feet of water? The Kootenai River abstract is another 7 million acre feet of water! That does not take into consideration all of the water of the Flathead Irrigation Project or claims far too numerous to mention. Did you know that the most water awarded to any other tribe in our country has been 1,000,000 acre feet? We estimate the abstracts in the compact are for 52 million acre feet of water!!!
Are you really okay with the forced relinquishment of water rights for every drop of water in the Flathead Irrigation Project to the CSKT? In what universe is that constitutional or legal?
You stated that “The meeting that was held did not meet the requirements of legal noticing. The proposed action that was the topic of discussion carried with it no ramifications for county residents”. It absolutely does have ramifications, and it is either naïve or foolish to think otherwise. You seem to parse words in an attempt to rationalize giving the appearance of complying with Montana open meeting laws where the statute says in part:
2-3-201. Legislative intent — liberal construction. The legislature finds and declares that public boards, commissions, councils, and other public agencies in this state exist to aid in the conduct of the peoples’ business. It is the intent of this part that actions and deliberations of all public agencies shall be conducted openly. The people of the state do not wish to abdicate their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. Toward these ends, the provisions of the part shall be liberally construed.
It is too bad that our elected officials of Lake County choose not to comply with the spirit of the law and error on the side of wanting extensive public discourse on an issue so important to the people of Lake County and all of western Montana.
In closing, we’d like to say that the republican party of the sate of Montana includes the following in its platform:
We believe that governmental units should protect individual rights associated with property ownership that guarantee a property owner’s ability to use property as the owner wishes, as long as he or she causes no harm. And to support this believe, prohibit the state of Montana and its political subdivisions from adopting and developing environmental and developmental policies that, without due process, would infringe or restrict the private property rights of the property owners.
It also includes the following:
We adamantly oppose any attempts, whether direct or indirect, to destroy and/or undermine the Constitution of the United States and its Amendments
Aren’t you and the other two commissioners republican?
Have you taken the time to read our critical review of the CSKT compact? We have attached it for your reference and sincerely hope you take the time to review it.
Concerned Citizens of Western Montana