Monday, July 13, 2020

Letters to the editor June 29

| June 29, 2020 1:00 AM

Last Saturday a group of adults from Fresh Life Church’s Rock This City event came to Clear Choice Clinic. As a service project, they planned to wash the windows of our building, no small task. This group of energetic and fun adults accomplished their task quickly, and with pure joy as they worked. With such an ambitious crew, they finished long before their allotted time. They came to me asking if I knew who occupied the building next door (it was closed) and if I thought it would be OK for their group to wash the windows of that building as well! I heartily agreed with their suggestion, and added that they could also do some weeding there, as the property was quite overgrown.

The spirit with which this Fresh Life group accomplished their task was inspiring. For an unknown neighbor, they dug in and accomplished what I found out later was a task that had been neglected for years. They were cheerful, diligent and humble as they got dirty and sweaty; afterward, they gathered together and prayed for the unknown occupants of a building they will likely never enter, and people they will never meet. It was a beautiful and contrasting example of what we’ve seen so recently in our country.

While the pastor of this Fresh Life group specifically said that they didn’t want credit for their act of kindness, I feel compelled to do so anyway. Some reading this will automatically and unfairly assume something negative from this, solely because Fresh Life Church was involved. Others will be suspicious that church people (especially Fresh Life) would do something for nothing. And a few will find it untenable that a “religious” group would get any positive mention at all. This letter won’t change those minds. But maybe it will remind a few of what community still looks like, even today, and that “the Church” is filled with good people who contribute to our community in positive ways that most of us never see. In a world that is filled with so much negative today, this is a positive. Let’s not ignore it.

—Michelle Reimer, Whitefish

Crime risk scoring algorithms are supposed to remove some of the human subjectivity from high-stakes decisions, such as how harshly to sentence a person and whether to grant parole or bail. They compare a list of attributes to a database to predict the chance that a person will be re-arrested within two years of leaving custody.

They’re demonstrably unfit for purpose. Black men are twice as likely as white men to be given a high risk score but not get re-arrested. They are therefore sentenced to more time in prison, denied parole, and kept incarcerated before trial on the incorrect assumption that they pose a heightened risk to public safety.

Consider some of the questions that contribute to a person’s crime-risk score: Have you ever had a mental health problem? Did you finish high school? Did or do you live in a “high crime neighborhood”? Did your father go to prison?

Many of the questions used are completely out of a person’s control or have at least something to do with the environment in which a person grows up, including effects of overtly racist federal lending policies and exclusionary zoning rules.

In other words, the algorithms implicitly recognize deep and long-running racial injustices. But they are used to criminalize the victims.

—Walter Rowntree, Kalispell

Why are so many people ignoring the findings of doctors and scientists regarding the coronavirus? If they didn’t feel that the virus was a serious threat they wouldn’t bother warning people to wear masks and practice social distancing.

The number of people who have died from the virus and the number of people who have tested positive convinces us how serious the pandemic really is. There is no good reason to ignore the advice of doctors and scientists regarding this issue. The virus has caused a serious economic dilemma as well but finding a solution to the virus needs to take precedence over solving the economic issue.

The virus has definitely created a huge impact on everyone’s life. We are going to be dealing with a “new normal” for years to come. I would like to think that everyone would do what they can to protect themselves. There is no reason to make the virus a political issue.

The next time I have to travel to Kalispell for a doctor appointment or a necessary medical procedure I hope I see masks on everyone and much less traffic.

—Edd Blackler, Bigfork