Archive for November 12th, 2008

by jhwygirl

Paulson has shifted the $700 billion bailout from shoring up financial institutions by purchasing bad deals to now purchasing stock instead. “Bolstering balance sheets,” is what he’s calling it.

AIG is still using its bailout cash to hit post resorts.

AND…they’re still asking for more.

Los Angeles is asking for a piece of the $400 billion that is left of the bailout money. So is California, New York City, Phoenix, Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

That’s due to shrinking tax revenues because homes are “underwater” – and here’s an interactive map which shows, state-by-state, what’s going on where and the debt-to-value ratios. And, yeah – Montana is there too.

Oh – wait – it gets worse….

American taxpayers, apparently, will be bailing out credit card companies.

update: just spoke with one of the organizers and it has been changed to the XXXXs on North Higgins. Mayor Engen will be present. The location was changed so it doesn’t appear that folks are upset with the City, which has been abundantly supportive of Missoula’s queer community.

by Jamee Greer

Saturday morning, cities across America will host actions in response to the passing of California’s Prop 8 which threw LGBT citizens back into the cruel world of “separate but equal” civil unions. Missoula’s takes place at 11:30 near the XXXXs on North Higgins Avenue.

Last Tuesday was a bittersweet night for members of the queer community: a painfully potent reminder of how important it is to keep hoping for, and working towards, a more just and equal society. It just happened to be juxtaposed with the election of the first African American president, an amazing victory.

I will be at Saturday’s rally, but not because of Prop 8. I’ll be there because it’s still legal to fire a gay Montanan because of who he is, or deny a lesbian Montanan housing because of who she loves. I will be there because it’s damn difficult for queer parents to adopt a child, and because if my partner ends up in the hospital and near death, I have no legal rights to even see him.

Missoula | Saturday, November 15th
11:30 am at the XXXXs on North Higgins

Billings | Saturday, November 15th
11:30 am in front of City Hall, 210 N 27th St

Bozeman | Saturday, November 15th
11:30 am in front of City Hall, 300 West Main St

by Pete Talbot


Keep Montana Beautiful. It’s one week past the election and time to take those signs down: small yard signs, big signs and really big signs (billboards). I realize that you buy billboards by the month, so Elaine Sollie Herman and the rest of Montana are stuck with those pink-and-black billboards that dot the Montana landscape until Dec. 1. But the rest of you can pull your signs — just save those wickets and that rebar for the next election.


I saw a couple of blogs, one left and one right, calling for a house cleaning of the Montana Republican Party. One comment said that state party chairman Erik Iverson should resign after the party took a drubbing in most of the big-ticket races.

Ain’t gonna happen.

IMHO Iverson did a decent job. Sure, he would have liked a couple of the “Tier B’s” and maybe another PSC seat. Considering the political climate and a fractured Montana Republican Party (Ron Paul, Roger Koopman, et al.) he did well to, basically, hold the Montana House and make significant gains in the Montana Senate.

There was a lot of head scratching over Montana’s mostly Democratic wins in the up-ticket races while handing the Montana Senate a Republican victory. In an interview with the Lee state Bureau, Iverson said Republicans spent $750,000 in targeting 21 legislative races they thought they could win, and “it paid off.”

There were a couple blemishes. One has to wonder just how involved Iverson was in the failed voter suppression ruse. He was also one of the main contributors to the sleazy “Obama will take your guns away” campaign. But that campaign worked and was partially responsible for the 12,000 vote deficit that cost Obama our three electoral votes.

If Iverson wants to stay around Montana, I’ll think we’ll continue to see his hand in state Republican politics.

Speaking of Iverson

It’s rude and juvenile to poke fun at candidates and their supporters when they lose. I’ll make an exception. One big mistake of Iverson’s was his claim that Obama would lose Montana by eight-to-ten points. Try 2.5 points, Erik. I even challenged him to a wager right here at 4&20 but the big scaredy-cat didn’t respond.

Messina on the move

It should be noted that former Missoula resident Jim Messina has an important role with the Obama transition team. Messina went to UM and actually worked on some local campaigns before moving on to the big leagues; first with Sen. Baucus and then with the Obama campaign as chief of staff.

According to Politico, ” … Messina, will serve in the influential role of personnel director … ”

Hey Jim, I’m probably a bit under-qualified for a cabinet post but would take an ambassadorship to, say, Fiji or Tahiti.

(UPDATE: Messina has received an even better job assignment: deputy chief of staff.  It’s the job that Josh had on the TV show West Wing.)

New to me

It’s been around a couple months but came to my attention last week. It’s a local, progressive political blog site called Bunk in the West. It’s main contributors are Binky Griptight (great name) and Megan. Binky has been a frequent commenter at this site. A belated welcome to the ‘spere.

by Jay Stevens

An old story has cropped up in the Missoulian today, the case of a mentally ill woman being mistreated at the Missoula County Detention Center. The incident happened back in 2006 — my regular, long-term readers might remember a few scathing posts I wrote, first lambasting reporter Tristan Scott, then Sherriff McMeekin for letting the detention center discipline and training degrade to allow the incident to take place, then some anger over the firing of the whistleblower, Mike Burch, for bringing the incident to the public’s attention.

The latest? A civil rights group representing people with disabilities that investigates “allegations of abuse or neglect” — Disability Rights Montana — released its report on the incident. It ain’t good:

According to the report’s findings, jail staff failed to screen Adele for mental illness when she arrived; violated its own policies, including one defining the circumstances in which nonlethal weapons such as a pepperball gun may be used; committed assault on an inmate; and violated the Montana Elder and Persons with Developmental Disabilities Abuse Prevention Act, which requires law enforcement and other public officials to report instances of abuse to one of several government agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services.

Worse still, Disability Rights Montana claims its report is over 20 months late because McMeekin’s office “consistently delayed or refused to provide information for over 18 months.”

So, why is this important?

Alexandra Volkerts, an attorney for Disability Rights Montana, said the report’s findings are important because jails and emergency rooms have become “default holding systems” for people with mental health issues due to a dearth of local services.

“People with serious mental illness do not belong in jails, particularly those people who have been picked up on minor crimes,” Volkerts said. “Those resources are inefficient, inappropriate and, sometimes, such as in this situation, inhumane. We had a detention officer who made some very bad choices, and those choices resulted in the abuse of a mentally ill woman.”

The worst part of this incident is that, as Volkerts noted, “[the Sherriff’s office] investigation exonerated the officer who was abusive and punished the officer who made the correct moral choice.”

Whistleblower Mike Burch was the true hero in all of this. He leaked the incident report to the press knowing he would be fired. I talked to him over the phone about it shortly after the story broke, before he was fired, and he told me his dismissal was inevitable. Sure enough, a few weeks later, he was fired.

But while the outcome and repercussions of the indicident are still in doubt — there’s federal litigation pending — Burch won’t see the effects of his actions. He died of a heart attack in 2007.

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