- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Missoulian, Oct. 3, on informed voting:

It takes real guts to run for public office, whether that office is for the one and only president of the United States, or for one of 100 seats in the Montana House.

Running a successful campaign also requires time, money and sustained effort. It means taking pains to learn about a variety of issues, and holding difficult conversations with people of opposing views. It takes a willingness to withstand public scrutiny and an ability to deliver convincing arguments.

For all that, win or lose, every candidate who steps up to the plate performs a community service simply by running. By tossing their hats into the ring, candidates offer voters a choice - and in doing so, a reason to vote. Without an array of options on the ballot, elections would be a rote exercise rather than a direct reflection of the will of the electorate.

Thankfully, western Montanans rarely lack for candidates willing to go through the trial of a campaign for the opportunity to represent their neighbors in public office. That’s astounding, when you stop and think about it, and each and every candidate deserves sincere gratitude for this act of public service.

However, not all of them will earn enough votes to gain their sought-for seat. This November brings a new opportunity for voters to make those important choices.

Ballots will be mailed starting Oct. 14 and must be returned by Election Day, Nov. 8, when polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Same-day registration will once again be available to those not yet registered to vote at the local Elections Center on the Missoula County Fairgrounds - but those who wait until the last possible day to register may find themselves waiting for a long time in a long line.

Similarly, voters shouldn’t wait until the last minute to learn about the issues and the candidates, and the Missoulian has been working with candidates to ensure that voters have the information they need to cast an informed ballot. Unfortunately, not all the candidates have been willing to work with us. Despite repeated requests, some would not share their views on some important topics with the people they hope to represent.

Their names are listed below.

This lack of response from about two dozen candidates in western Montana, while disappointing, raises more important questions. What are their views on these issues, and why weren’t they willing to share them with readers? Will they continue to be unresponsive to news media should they win election? Are they equally unresponsive to the folks they are hoping to represent?

We encourage you to contact your candidates and find out for yourselves. Consider it a job interview of sorts, with voters in the role of the potential employer.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2drY0Px

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The Montana Standard, Oct. 2, on a cheating scandal at Montana Tech:

A spate of cheating at Montana Tech over the summer made headlines last week. It was certainly startling that some 46 students were reported for cheating, and that 15 were dismissed from the university. Even more startling were the methods used - earpieces, fake calculators, smuggled smart phones, smart watches, even mass bathroom breaks and a feigned fainting spell - and the belligerence of the students when confronted.

The students involved were apparently transfer students who attended neither the previous semester nor the current semester at Tech, but just came for the summer. And many were foreign students.

That last fact has produced predictable and depressing reactions of the knee-jerk variety.

Some context is needed.

While the scale of this event is concerning, we should not delude ourselves into thinking this is either an anomaly or the province of any one culture. Academic dishonesty is on the rise everywhere.

Surveys over the past few years have consistently shown that between 60 and 70 percent of college students admit cheating at least once. A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education pegs the number at 64 percent. Those transgressions range from peeking at the paper of the student at the next desk to plagiarism to paying princely sums for others to write papers and take exams.

It’s not a new problem, but as is obvious from this most recent incident, technology keeps escalating the war between cheaters and those trying to foil them.

And at Tech, while such a flood of cheating cases stands out, that flood comes against a backdrop of drip, drip, drip. Chancellor Don Blackketter estimates academic dishonesty cases - and they involve students of various backgrounds - average at least one per week all year long.

As distressing as this incident is, it’s important that we do not leap to cultural conclusions, or apply stereotypical judgments.

Tech has a long and proud history of educating engineers from across the globe. Indeed, it has the highest percentage of international students in the state university system. That fact is absolutely to the university’s benefit, and to Butte’s benefit.

As the world shrinks, and more students travel overseas in pursuit of knowledge and lifetime experiences, it’s important for us to treat our international visitors the way we would expect our children to be treated if they were studying abroad. And in Butte, a town with proud international roots, we need to redouble our efforts to make sure that visitors from elsewhere are welcomed, and not judged by their origins but by their individual character and behavior.

As for the professors and proctors at Tech who dealt with an onslaught of dishonesty and hostility this summer, they deserve our thanks for taking a stand to prevent Tech’s excellent reputation from being debased. And that insistence on integrity must be maintained as the Faculty Senate and the administration take steps to prevent a recurrence.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2dDS6Ls

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The Billings Gazette, Oct. 3, on Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte:

We have heard from Montana’s Republican candidate for governor, Greg Gianforte, a lot about jobs. In fact, that’s about all we’ve heard from his campaign.

By the campaign’s admission, it’s Gianforte’s top issue.

That’s why it surprised us that when pointed and specific questions about his job creation in Bozeman at the helm of RightNow Technologies started to arise, Gianforte went silent.

If his campaign is all about jobs, what about his record as a job creator and businessman?

When we’ve asked him other questions - about why he gave money to defeat a non-discrimination ordinance, or about funding a controversial creationism dinosaur museum, he deflected those questions, reminding us that his mission was jobs and wage growth. Yet his silence on some of those issues seems revealing.

Here’s what we mean: Gianforte has not answered questions about jobs that may have been eliminated through outsourcing when he was with RightNow, before it was bought by Oracle in 2012. Gianforte says an apology letter written by the Montana Democrats during Steve Daines’ election bid proves that Democrats’ criticism of him today has been decided.

Not so fast, Mr. Gianforte.

The apology, written by then state Democrat party chairman Jim Elliott is in reference to specific charges of outsourcing to India or using government funding to outsource jobs. It doesn’t specifically address jobs that left the company in 2001.

When asked about that, Gianforte wouldn’t comment, nor would his campaign spokesperson.

Meanwhile, a 2009 article in no less of a publication than Forbes, cited Gianforte and RightNow as “taking the concept of outsourcing to new levels.”

And this is the key point: Gianforte developed a company that helped businesses around the world eliminate jobs through technology. In other words, his success is tied directly to job elimination. While that’s not a new concept and hundreds - if not every company today - use technology to reduce labor costs, it’s important to understand that Gianforte’s success, as referenced by Forbes, is tied to reducing costs and reducing staff.

That leads us to the next part of Gianforte’s platform - wage growth. Gianforte has repeatedly hammered on his opponent, Democrat Steve Bullock for stagnant and lackluster wage growth, saying that Montana is 49th in wage growth. Besides that statistic being misleading, it appears that new reporting by Jayme Fraser reveals that Gianforte may have outsourced labor in his own company in order to reduce labor costs. In other words, he may not have wanted his own employees to experience wage growth.

Susan Carstensen, who worked as chief financial officer and vice president for RightNow for 12 years, confirmed that the company hired workers in Armenia and India for lower labor costs.

When faced with paying his employees more (read: wage growth) it appears that Gianforte shipped jobs to India and Armenia.

Speaking of wage growth, we’d also point out that Gianforte’s often-quoted wage growth statistic does not include farmers, ranchers or telecommuters. That’s a huge problem with that statistic. On Wednesday, the conservative Tax Foundation pointed out that Montana ranks No. 6 in the state business tax climate index.

Again, Gianforte and his spokesman refused to comment or answer questions on the issue of outsourcing, jobs at RightNow and wage growth there. And, they declined to speak about how his record as chief executive ties into his bid for governor.

Yet, voters have been told not to pay attention to Gianforte’s record on social issues because he’s running to create jobs.

Voters have been told not to pay attention to Gianforte’s legal spats on matters of public access and private property because he’s running to create jobs.

And yet when he’s asked about his job creation and wage growth, he remains silent.

If Greg Gianforte doesn’t really stand for jobs or wage growth, what does he stand for?

Editorial: https://bit.ly/2dVly0e

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