Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

Rocky Mountain Adventure Gear - For all Your Motorized and Non-Motorized Adventures!

By Bruce Hall
Seeley Lake, Mont. 

Don't Let the Debate Sink Lower than the Sewer (or Septic System)


August 10, 2017

SEELEY LAKE - I attend Seeley Lake Sewer District Board meetings when I am in residence and read about them when I’m away. The Board did a lackluster job of getting information out last year and the opposition did a great job of distributing misinformation. In this community, like many others, rumor travels swiftly and easily, often trampling facts along the way.

This year, the Board is providing facts professionally, while the opposition continues to present opinion as fact. Several other tactics are employed; distraction is a favorite. Claims that the real problems emanate from elsewhere – leased land, upstream lakes, Mars – abound.

Another tactic is denial. Whenever a professional or scientific effort produces facts unpopular with the opposition, they simply declare it “probably” wrong, flawed, misleading or of little value. If this were a much earlier era, they would probably declare the world flat. The most disturbing tactic is that of maligning those who serve—including their families.

The last tactic has reached a disturbing depth. It has progressed from innuendo, wherein it was implied Board members in business are serving themselves, to name-calling. The author of a letter to the editor of the Aug. 3, 2017 Pathfinder claimed the Board and the General Manager “conjured,” “connived,” and finally, with the question, “Would you say we were lied to?” implied just that.

I was at the same meeting and heard and understood the General Manager’s statement that business protest letters would be “weighted” twice as much as residential because businesses would be required to pay twice as much. So, no, we weren’t lied to. The author’s claim is false.

Giving the benefit of the doubt, it may be that she was talking to nearby audience members or was otherwise distracted and didn’t hear the General Manager’s statement. Still, the false claim is indefensible, one should be very sure before even implying someone “lied.” Her false claim calls into question the trustworthiness of her other claims, as it should.

I wonder if she will criticize her false statement as stridently as she criticizes each statement she has drawn out of the Board. We should all be wary of those who would resort to these tactics rather than engage in healthy debate.

I have a vested interest in Seeley Lake: the community, the lake itself and the prospect of a central sewer system. I don’t own a business, nor do I own more than the one Seeley Lake parcel where I reside. I’m the third-generation landowner of a lakefront property my grandparents purchased in 1956. I have no intention of selling my property and every intention of leaving it to the next generation.

I’ve experienced Seeley Lake through various life stages; as a boy visiting grandparents and hanging out with boys from the town, as a weekend visitor, as a permanent resident for a decade, and now as a retired summer resident.

This project will cost me money; it’s worth it. Everyone who lives, works or visits here will benefit.


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