Archive for August 19th, 2008

by Pete Talbot

Recent news from two of the biggest players who do business in Montana gave me pause: are stockholders and boards of directors becoming enlightened?

First was the story that a group of Plum Creek stockholders was urging management to abandon the shady talks that Plum Creek has been holding with Ag Undersecretary Mark Rey. According to a letter sent from Trillium Asset Management to Plum Creek, the talks should stop, “to protect shareholder value and rehabilitate our company’s reputation.” Cool.

Unfortunately, Plum Creek Board Chairman Ian Davidson penned a guest column in today’s Missoulian saying that Trillium and another asset management company, “do not represent a majority of our shareholders and they are the only investors we have heard from on this matter.” Not cool.

So it’s back to business as usual for Plum Creek: selling off the most valuable lands for development purposes, selling back the lands it has cut the hell out of to land trusts and conservation groups, and holding back-room meetings with the feds and state government to get easements to the lands.

This was a bad P.R. move from Mr. Davidson. Not only does he brush aside criticism, he goes on to crow about the stock’s performance:

“Over the past 15 years, the company’s annualized total shareholder return was 15.2 percent, and last Tuesday, Plum Creek’s stock hit an all-time high of $50 per share. This performance is quite contrary to the Dow Jones being down more than 13 percent this year and the S&P 500 being down more than 12 percent.”

Mr. Davidson isn’t making any friends here (except maybe some of the more gluttonous stockholders) which is too bad. I didn’t even know that he was chairman of the board at Plum Creek. I do know him to be a philanthropist, and a strong supporter of education and entrepreneurs in Montana. He should have kept a lower profile on this issue.

(Sorry, no link to the Davidson guest column that I could find anywhere.)

On the other hand, Northwest Energy seems to be heading in the right (correct) direction. This came as quite a surprise to folks in Missoula and Helena, and really, most everybody in Montana involved in energy and energy politics: Bob Rowe replaced Mike Hansen as Northwestern Energy CEO.

My first thought was that maybe Mr. Rowe had gone over to the dark side.

But in the news stories I’ve read and an interview I heard on KUFM, it sounds as if Rowe is putting Montanan’s interests first. The utility, he said, “will do it better, more creatively, more responsibly, and (provide) real value to the communities in the state that we serve.”

And if you look at his background, I tend to believe his claims. Through the Montana Legal Services Association, he spent years in Missoula representing low to middle-income people with legal problems. He then went on to become a valued member of the Montana Public Service Commission in Helena.

So I’ll be cutting Northwestern Energy some slack here at 4&20, at least until I see how things shake out. Plum Creek? Not a chance.

by jhwygirl

The shame brought to us by the Bush Administration never ends, does it?

First, a review of some of my outrages – because this isn’t the type of stuff you “move forward” on:
More Shame From the Bush Administration

More Disrespect for the Troops from the Commander-in-Chief

Symbiotic Relationship of Bush Administration and Mainstream Media Has No Bounds

From the VA: Shhh, 1,000 Attempted Suicided Per Month

Before I go further, just imagine the stuff you don’t hear about….

James B. Peake, Secretary for Veteran’s Affairs, has issued a directive that bans non-partisan voter registration drives from federally-financed nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and shelters for homeless veterans.

Peake was nominated by the White House in 2007, and his job is described as “the principal advocate for veterans in the U.S. government.” He graduated from West Point, and served in the Army Infantry Division. He went on to get is medical doctorate degree in 1972, and retired as a Lieutenant General in 2004.

Why would a military guy oversee – in fact, facilitate – impediments to voting for the very veterans he has sworn an oath to protect? Why would he do something like this when voting is one of the very basic of rights the military is there to uphold for the United States? What kind of military guy does this?

Peake is citing the Hatch Act in his defense. The Hatch Act forbids federal workers from engaging in partisan political activity.

Registering voters is NOT a partisan political activity. No matter who is doing the registering.

Two Democratic lawmakers, Reps. Robert A. Brady (Pa.) and Bob Filner (Ca.), have sent a letter to Peake, asking him to halt the directive.

Meanwhile, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), along with Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY), John Kerry (D-MA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Barack Obama (D-IL), Harry Reid (D-NV), Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have introduced legislation to require the VA to facilitate voter registration for veterans. Since being introduced on July 22nd, Sens. Rick Durbin (D-IL), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) have signed on to S.3308.

I’ve asked this before – but someone please explain to me why something that is in the best interests of everyone, of all veterans – why aren’t there any Republicans signing on to this bill?

Or, put another way, why wouldn’t Republicans want to make sure that veterans can vote?

Please take a moment to contact Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester and ask them to support S.3308.

Oh – and don’t forget Representative Dennis Rehberg.

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