Thursday, April 28, 2000 Missoulian Editorial NAY: About a dozen state employees are facing suspension for allegedly sending sexually explicit e-mails from computers at the Child Support Enforcement Division. State health officials are investigating who sent "inappropriate adult humor" from the state-owned computers.

This kind of news is baffling: Don't government employees know the special status they have while at work? Taxpayers expect, and should get, the absolute highest return for their money. The ethics of using state-owned telephones, computers and other equipment are clear: No personal use.

NAY: Here we go again: Missoula is just a contrary place at heart.

We're against a baseball park.

We're against a pizza parlor.

We're against concerts downtown.

Now, we're against concerts at Fort Missoula.

Is there something in the water?

YAY: An indoor skating rink in Missoula? Good idea.

Canadian businessman Fred Harbinson proposes building an ice arena in Missoula's Industrial Park. An outdoor covered rink at the fairgrounds has proved popular, and hundreds to thousands of Missoula youth are hooked on hockey and figure skating, thanks to the improved ice available there. It seems that Missoula is ready for a year-round, indoor facility.

NAY: Residents and roadway designers working on an expansion of U.S. 93 through Victor noted this week that there is substantial support from the community there to put a traffic light on the highway. People trying to cross the planned five-lane thoroughfare could then stop traffic to walk or ride bikes across the highway.

"We don't want this to be another Brooks Street, where you have to drive to get to the other side of the road safely," said Roger DeHaan, an engineer and a member of the Victor focus group trying to get the kind of highway Victor wants through its town.

What was unsettling was a suggestion from one of the designers of the highway that the traffic light might not be in place right from the start. If a traffic light is needed, wanted and approved, it should go in right away, not a year or two later.

YAY: On Tuesday, the Senate started to debate a victims' rights amendment to the Constitution. On Thursday, backers said they are pulling their measure from the Senate floor. They've done the right thing: The votes aren't there, and the time is running out to get other work done before senators' full attention is diverted toward fall elections.

The concept of giving victims rights - notice of court proceedings and of an offender's release or escape, for instance - is a good one, but state legislatures are already dealing with just such issues. Thirty-two have already enacted some form of victims' rights legislation. The Constitution is the wrong place to put such requirements.

YAY: Congratulations to Clarence Purdy of Columbia Falls, who this week was honored for his heroism by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission. On Nov. 3, 1998, Purdy pulled a semiconscious Jerry Pate of Lolo from the burning wreckage of his pickup truck outside of Polson.

The Carnegie commission, based in Pittsburgh, was founded in 1904 by industrialist Andrew Carnegie after he was inspired by tales of heroism in a mine disaster. The commission's ongoing work is much appreciated: It allows thankful communities and individuals a chance to say a very public thanks to people who unselfishly help others in times of great need.

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