Archive for November 6th, 2006

By Jay Stevens 

On the way home tonight, on my bike in the dark and light rain, I was struck by a car as I was crossing Russell street. I had lights, front and back, and the right-of-way, but I still felt like an idiot: never trust a car at an intersection turning left onto a busy street.

I’m fine. My bike…is…okay. My seat’s a little twisted maybe. I picked it up for sixty bucks a couple of years ago and hate it, so that’s not so bad.

The good news: the car was full of undecided voters. After we established that I was okay, exchanged phone numbers just in case the bike was trashed, I asked them who they were voting for. They didn’t know. “Jon Tester,” I said. “You just hit me on my bike: vote for Jon Tester.”

Who knows? Maybe after the adrenaline wears off, they’ll actually follow through.

I got my undecided voters! How about you? I do, however, recommend using different tactics.

Isn’t this fun?

By readbetween

It doesn’t strike me as too likely that people who spend their valuable net time visiting “A Journal of Montana politics and culture” are necessarily looking for a junior staffer of said site to tell them how to vote. That said, Jay is interested in some endorsin’ in the local races and, since most of my friends get sullen and withdrawn when I try to interest them in hearing my views on the bottom of the ballot obscuranta, here on 4&20, for just a couple minutes, I can stand as though I’m in the Rose Garden and say “I’m the Endorser.” hehe.

Let’s start with Missoula County, which offers voters two major elected positions and four ballot questions.

Missoula County Sheriff. I’ll get out with it early: vote for Don Morman. Mike McMeekin’s tenure as sheriff has been marked by complaints from within the ranks about his dictatorial style of management and marred by incidents in which prison abuse went unpunished while whistle-blowers got fired. It’s time for a change.

Missoula County Commissioner. Jean Curtiss is back up for election, running against Jim “Funky Font” Edwards. Curtiss sits on a whole slew of county boards and commissions, staying very involved in the nuts and bolts of the county’s services, particularly the health and welfare variety. Jim Edwards tried to run for mayor because of his anger about construction on SW Higgins Avenue but couldn’t because he lives in the county. So he’s running for county commissioner. His signs look funky, relying on an atypical political font and omitting his party affiliation (Republican), but he’s angered neighbors with a plan to put in a gravel mine on his river fronted ranch, a move whose zoning change required approval by the county commission and was timed for election season (since delayed). Overall, Curtiss has been a diligent public servant and Edwards’ motivation is off; government doesn’t need more malcontents. Advantage: Curtiss.

Open Space. There are two reasons not to like this and neither of them seems to be enough to keep me from voting for more of the stuff that makes Western Montana so stinkin’ spectacular. In case you’re wondering, the objections that could be levelled against this plan to spend $20 million–split 50/50 between county and city lands–to secure places, through easements and purchase, that have not been developed so that they won’t be developed are as follows:

1. The county does not have a very good plan for spending the money. When the city did its last open space bond, it had a detailed plan for how to spend the money, and it has just updated that plan this year. The county has a loose set of criteria so it’s not real clear just what we’ll be getting out in the far reaches of Missoula County for our money.

2. Open Space benefits some more than others. Living in the shadow of Mount Jumbo, I can testify to this. The Rattlesnake neighborhood is a terrific place to live and one reason is the huge swath of undeveloped mountain that looms over it. Everyone paid for that; property values in my neighborhood are the primary beneficiaries. Oh yeah, and the elk.

Still, who can say no to the best measure there is for preserving something integral to Missoula’s identity? It’s more property taxes–$20 per year for the average homeowner–but it’s also paying for the closest thing to a value that all of Missoula shares as there is. At least, that’s how I read the situation. I guess we’ll know Wednesday if that’s not so.

Missoula County Local Government Study Commission. Missoula County had its own study commission (even though the city’s got considerably more press), an elected body examining the forms and powers of county government. The LGSC recommended two questions for the ballot though their full report contains a good deal more that they found out while studying.

The first recommendation of the LGSC is that the county adopt a charter. The charter’s adoption would allow the county more leeway in deciding the sorts of laws it would like to pass. Not a lot more since zoning and taxation, the two most powerful things the county could do, are controlled by state statute, but more than it has right now when it can only pass resolutions already authorized by state law. Opponents charge it is a power grab and the dawning of tyranny in Missoula County. The danger seems less than that to me. I’m in favor of self-governing powers. For a more expansive take on the issues, read Mea Andrews’

One interesting note: the County LGSC was split 3-3 on recommending the charter (one member was derelict of duty for much of the process) and so the question only got on the ballot by way of a compromise that builds a 2010 referendum into the charter that would permit county residents to revoke the charter, just in case the County Commission starts setting up checkpoints on Highway 200 or otherwise abusing its new legislative powers under the charter.

The LGSC also proposes creating the position of Citizen Advocate. In my experience, county government is pretty accessible though not so much as city government. Some departments–elections comes to mind–are supremely helpful. Others seem more interested in doing their job than letting people know what they are doing at their job. If the Citizen Advocate conceives of the position as a way to get county residents involved in county government, I think it will be money well spent. Whether that is the case will depend on the person and whether the County Commission wants to make it so.

Make Missoula Safer aka “the marijuana initiative.” Is there any worse way for law enforcement to be spending its time than busting adults for possession of a plant? That’s the basic question posed by this ballot initiative, which easily made it through the petition process that the West Broadway revisionists couldn’t get through and probably has broader support than most think. The initiative wouldn’t make marijuana legal in Missoula but it would establish a citizen review board to supervise the sherrif’s department’s compliance with the recommendation of the initiative that marijuana be a very low priority for the cops. If you think the government has very little business peddling liquor but banning smoke, this one’s a no-brainer in so far as it pokes a little hole in prohibition. Say Yea.

Enough with the county-wide questions. Missoula City Council and Mayor get elected in odd years so there are no city posts on the ballot. There are, however, ballot questions that could considerably restructure city government.

Missoula City Local Government Study Commission. You can read my tales of the city LGSC as well as consider rather lengthy posts and discussion on their proposals to redraw the ward map and return to partisan elections for city posts. I’m opposed to both, for reasons in those posts.

Two judicial posts are contested on the ballot and here’s my take.

District Court Judge. Dusty Deschamps got the most votes in the primary election and Governor Schweitzer appointed him to the post, which was vacated midway through in accordance with tradition. Karen Townsend was the second place finisher in the primary and is still vying for the post. Both have been deputy county attorneys for decades.

I voted for one of the losers in the primary because I would like to see more judges come from the defense, rather than prosecution, side of the judicial system. That said, either of these folks would be fine judges. Townsend would be breaking ground as Missoula’s first female district court judge. I voted for her.

Justice of the Peace. Karen Orzech has been Justice of the Peace for two terms and no one, not even her opponent, is complaining about the job she’s done. She emphasizes discretion and forbearance as key attributes of her position as the person who sets bail or sets the arrested loose on the own recognizance. Her opponent Casey Gunter is well familiar with how the justice system works from his time with the Missoula Police Department, for which he now serves as a school resource officer. He got into that position by being one of Missoula’s founding officers for Drug Abuse Resistance Education, the program responsible for brightening the wardrobe of so many slack-ass stoners. Considering the number of drug cases the courts see, I would rather not have someone steeped in the hyperbolic propaganda of D.A.R.E. as the gatekeeper to detention. Vote to retain Orzech.

Finally, the state legislature. There are many good candidates on the ballot but I voted for a party and not a person in these races and the reason is simple. One of the very few things that could derail a second term for Beatle-rifically popular Gov. Schweitzer is an abominable legislative session in 2007. If you give the Republicans a majority in either house of the legislature, you can bet that’s what you’ll get. I would rather see something productive in the 2007 session. Electing Democrats isn’t a guarantee of that but electing Republicans virtually guarantees political posturing instead of policy-making.

That’s all I got. Go vote. Then go volunteer.

By Jay Stevens 

Fancy that. Recently the Great Falls Tribune published the results of a USA Today/Gallup poll that shows Jon Tester with a healthy lead over Conrad Burns in the state’s Senate race. You’ll never guess Burns’ campaign’s reaction.

They yanked the paper’s credentials.

A Burns spokesman dismissed the USA Today/Gallup poll as inaccurate and initially said the campaign was revoking one newspaper’s credentials to attend Burns’ election night event in Billings because it wrote about the poll.Jason Klindt first said Monday that the Great Falls Tribune would not be allowed to attend, before changing his mind later in the day.

“Running a bogus poll on the day before an election to try and suppress Republican voter turnout is irresponsible and in poor taste,” Klindt told The Associated Press on Monday.

The campaign decided to allow the paper’s reporters to attend “so as not to punish the readers,” Klindt said.

Hilarious. Apparently statistics have a liberal bias.

But on a more serious note, Burns’ camp’s initial reaction – punishing the paper for printing news not friendly to their candidate – should serve as a reminder to all good American citizens of what’s at stake here. They want to curtail your right to information if it counters their political beliefs. They did it with climate change, they’ve threatened to do it to bloggers, as well. They want to control the information you receive.

In the end, this little bit of hysterical over-reaction from Burns’ campaign hints that their GOTV ain’t going so hot… I mean, if they’re worried what effect this news will have on one of the most conservative areas of the state…well…that probably means they’re having trouble convincing people to go to the polls.


An example of GOP voter suppression in Virginia. Keep an eye out…

Nicole’s last plea for Jon Tester. “Just do it!”

Jason mulls over Montana’s newspaper endorsement sweep.

Kossak mcjoan is doubtful about the effectiveness of Burns’ GOTV efforts in MT. I have to agree, but only if it’s countered by an active Democratic citizens’ movement…

An excellent denunciation of Conrad Burns – “The Stealth Tax Man.” Debt is a tax.

“Big Daddy” Cheney swoops in to Montana to save the day. The man he’s saving isn’t allowed to say much.

Look out! East-cost insiders are noticing something’s afoot here in the West!

Indeed, why are some conservatives so obsessed with liberals’ sex lives?

Jeff Mangan has a suggestion of what to do with the budget surplus.

The man behind the tasteless gay-baiting “Brokeback Democrats” ads. Classy.

Clinton sums up the GOP talking points: “Because our opponents are no good. And they’ll tax you to the poorhouse. And on the way to the poorhouse, you’ll meet a terrorist on every street corner. And when you try to run away from the terrorist, you’ll trip over an illegal immigrant…”

The White House blames Congress for putting nuclear secrets on the web. Classy. As always.

Condi Rice breaks new ground for a US Secretary of State: she uses her office for partisan political purposes.

Glenn Greenwald in a breath-taking post on the GOP’s “ideology of lying.” Shorter version: you can’t handle the truth!

A retired CIA agents pens a book describing how the Bush administration manipulated WMD intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. A clear and authoritative account.

Oh, by the way…if you want to leave the country? Soon you may have to ask for permission. *Gulp.*

By Jay Stevens 

The excitement across Missoula is palpable today. The rally at the Children’s museum was raucous. Monica Lindeen, Max Baucus, Pat Williams, John Melcher, and Brian Schweitzer were all there to support Tester. Nearly everyone in the room – two hundred? – had already voted and had volunteered or is going to volunteer on Election Day. It’s safe to say that Missoula is firmly in Tester’s camp.

It’s not too late to volunteer. Tester’s blog has the numbers, addresses, and contacts for all the major Democratic headquarters throughout the state. If you’re shy about cold-calling or knocking on doors, there is plenty you can still do for Tester on Election Day. Transport people to the polls. Support the poll watchers. Paperwork, errand-running, anything.

You can also help out on your own. Proudly display a Tester button on your lapel, put up a sign in your window or on your lawn. Engage everybody who looks interested. If they’re unsure, tell them – honestly, but not condescendingly or with anger – why you’re backing Tester.

You can also call anybody you know who might not vote. An elderly neighbor. A single mom. Offer them a ride or babysitting in exchange for the few minutes it will take to vote. Call all your friends and remind them to go out and vote. Urge all your Tester-backing friends to do the same.

Both parties have organized machines to get out the vote. Give it the personal touch and start the landslide from your kitchen.

And you know what? Things look very good for the Democrats right now in Montana, based on anecdotal evidence. Here’s a comment from athene-owl here in Missoula:

I just voted early at the Missoula County courthouse, fifteen minutes before the cutoff for absentee ballots (noon) and there was a line out the door. It was a pretty charged environment. One guy said he hadn’t voted for ten years.

Does a guy come out of a ten-year hiatus to vote for Conrad Burns? No, I don’t think so, either.

Here’s part of an email from a Democratic activist in the Flathead involved in GOTV efforts there:

A friend of mine called me to go the Cheney event to scout the opposition. I said no, I would spend that time phone banking. (Which I did.) She went, and said it was a very low energy affair. They tried to get a chant going several times “Conrad”… and couldn’t… it just died. She said Burns didn’t work the crowd, he just appeared on stage for a few minutes and left. Dick Cheney spent his time talking about “Boogie men, Democrats.” She said the crowd did not appear to get energized by the affair.She then joined me at the Tester rally in Kalispell on Wednesday. She said the energy difference was very noticeable. We had over 500 people there. I grew up here, and I can’t remember seeing 500 Democrats together in the Flathead ever. And more importantly I saw traditional moderate conservatives excited about Tester. They have crossed over!

I spent about 5 hours house canvassing in Kalispell yesterday. We saw a rental car van, dropping college students with Burns campaign literature. People are getting tired of being called, and contacted.

I’m going to steal this next line of thought from the Governor, who gave a much more spirited rendition about an hour ago: A lot of people talk about the vaunted GOTV machine of the GOP. They’re shipping people in from all over the country. They’re sending in lawyers from Philadelphia and New Jersey to discourage voting in low-income areas and on the reservations across the state. And all we’ve got is you.

Advantage, ours.

One quick last note. Schweitzer mentioned in his speech today that Missoula was instrumental in his election. He got 31,000 and change votes from this county. If Tester wins a thousand more – 32,000 and change – he’ll go to the Griz-Cats football game and allow Monty to tackle him in the North End Zone.

Let’s let that bear loose on our governor!

The New York Times has a piece on the robo-push-poll telephone calls an Ohio group has unleashed on behalf of Conrad Burns.

The Ohio-based conservatives behind the new campaign, who include current and former Procter & Gamble managers, say the automated system can reach vast numbers of people at a fraction of the cost of traditional volunteer phone banks and is the most ambitious political use of the telemarketing technology ever undertaken.

But critics say the automated calls are a twist on push polls — a campaign tactic that is often criticized as deceptive because it involves calling potential voters under the guise of measuring public opinion, while the real intent is to change opinions with questions that push people in one direction or the other.

Fantastic. They’re using telemarketing techniques to “push” people towards a “product.” In this case, Boss Hogg Burns. It sort of makes sense in a twisted sort of way: Burns does have all the charisma of a cheap nose-hair trimmer.

Worse still, the group Common Sense is one of those Trevis-Butcher-Howie-Rich-like mysterious “nonprofits” that doesn’t have to reveal their backers, members, or funding. So what we’ve got here is another big-money out-of-state rat trying to buy an election.

Why can’t these people leave us alone?

Are we going to let them buy our votes?

Posted by touchstone

by Matt Singer

Alright, folks. Hopefully, you’re used to reading me over at Left in the West. Well, I screwed up and went with a lousy domain registrar and now I can’t renew my domain. I’ll get a new-and-improved shop set up after the election, but with all the work to be done, that’s a low priority.

So what’s happening?

  • Both the Republicans and the Democrats have unprecedented Get Out the Vote operations up-and-running in Montana. I’ve seen some folks trying to compare these two operations. Let me tell you, unless you’ve got a background in field organizing and have really had a chance to get inside info from the two side’s field operations, you’re probably not in a great position to judge which side is doing the better job. By all indications, though, both sides are running extremely strong.
  • Gallup is polling Tester way up: 50-41. My gut? I don’t believe it. We may be up. We ain’t up 9. I think we’re up 1 or 2. That’s more in line with other polling. A 1 or 2 point race is also one that will be determined by turnout.
  • Early voting is way, way up. This one is across the board. Yellowstone is looking at 20,000 early voters. Missoula County is looking at 15,000. Cascade has had 11,000 or so. County offices are also seeing walk-in voters (people who were unregistered). How many of these are there? As far as I know, no one has firm numbers on that. Who do they help? Good question. My gut says new voters help challengers, as few people get excited by incumbents, but we’ll see. Both sides are spinning hard on early voters. We’ll see which team actually delivered.

Alright, that’s it for now. My guess is that we’re probably out of new polls except for the one that matters. In spite of the recent surge for Burns, the consensus view is still that we’re in the driver’s seat in Montana. TradeSports has us up. Most folks are still predicting a Tester victory.

Missoula, this is your last chance to meet with and talk to Jon Tester, Democratic candidate for Senate. I’m going. It’s a tight race, and I’d like to spend some time in a frenzied pro-Tester crowd, because the next 30 hours or so will be completely nuts.

I’ve called, knocked on doors, written on post-cards, chatted with everyone I know about the race and let some undecideds know exactly why I am working my *ss off for Jon Tester.

Now’s the time for one last huzzah before settling down to a crazy Tuesday. I’ll be doing GOTV work all morning and into the afternoon, then heading to Great Falls for a little live blogging at Tester HQ.

So if you’re in Missoula, and you want one last rally, meet me down at the children’s museum at 12pm. The Governor will be there. Senator Max Baucus will be there.

What: A rally for change with Jon Tester.

Where: The Children’s Museum on Broadway.

When: Monday, November 6, at noon.

Who: Brian Schweitzer, Max Baucus, and Jon Tester.

Posted by touchstone

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