Archive for April, 2010

by Pete Talbot

Walls come and go. The sieve-like wall that separates Mexico from the U.S. is being fortified, and an additional “virtual fence” is in the works. The Berlin Wall is history. The Great Wall of China endures. Israelis are building walls to keep Palestinians out.

So how about a wall along the Missoula-Ravalli County line? I believe this would make folks on both sides of the wall happy. It would keep all the Communists and sexual deviates from corrupting Bitterroot youth. It would keep the right-wing nut jobs from stirring up trouble in Missoula. It’s a win-win.

I don’t have a lot of examples of Communist or sexual deviate infiltrators but I have plenty of right-wing nut job anecdotes.

Dallas Erickson. He keeps reminding Missoulians how morally bankrupt we are. He’s worried that perverts are lurking in our bathrooms. He’s also a big crusader for Wal-Mart.

Or this guy, Glenn Kimball of Corvallis. I’ll skip over his wacky Celebrating Conservatism street demonstrations and cut straight to this quote from a letter to the Missoulian:

Montana’s own Democratic U.S. Sen. Max Baucus is admittedly a socialist. He has served in Congress way too long, and his recent support of unconstitutional Obamacare unveiled his true colors.

Mr. Kimball might be right about Max serving “way too long,” but I missed Baucus admitting that he’s a socialist (must have been back in that tough 2008 race against Bob Kelleher). Christ, I wonder what that makes me?

And I didn’t realize that the watered-down health care bill, which, with the help of Max, is a minuscule change from the status quo, is also unconstitutional. Even Rob Natelson thinks the health care legislation is here to stay.

Then there are the kids packing (toy) heat and lining Highway 93 in support of the Second Amendment. I wasn’t aware it was in jeopardy, particularly in light of recent Supreme Court rulings.

The list goes on-and-on.

Of course, there’d be a toll booth in the wall. That way, both counties could garner some much needed revenue, but it would keep the general riffraff and obstructionists away — in both counties.

Now I know there are progressives in the Bitterroot, just like there are right-wingers in Missoula. Perhaps some sort of window sticker that would allow like-minded folks to travel between counties without being charged a toll; you know, Bitterroot progressives get free admission into Missoula and right-wing Missoulians get a free pass to Ravalli County.

Anyway, it’s a thought.

(Update: Here’s another reason to build that wall, courtesy of Jay over at LiTW.)

by jhwygirl

A Tar Sands Shipments Open House will be held Tuesday, April 27th, 6:30-7:30pm at the University of Montana Campus in the Third Floor of the UC, Room 330/331.

It is sponsored by Northern Rockies Rising Tide, UM Climate Action Now, and the entire No Shipments Network. It’s purpose is to look at the local, regional, and international impacts of the Mammoet Shipments of equipment and the Alberta Tar Sands.

The timing is appropriate – MDOT’s public meeting to present the (so-called) preferred alternative is Thursday, April 29th, with an Open House at 6:00 p.m. and a Public Hearing at 6:30 p.m. It will be held at Meadow Hill Middle School, Old Gymnasium, 4210 Reserve Street, Missoula, MT

NRRT, UM CAN and NSS included a summary with their email:

The Alberta Tar Sands have been called out in the international community as the worst industrial project on the face of the planet. Currently Exxon Mobil is planning to invest 26.1 million dollars to open up a new northwest corridor to ship Tar Sands mining equipment from South Korea to Alberta. The proposed route begins in international waters, comes up the Columbia and Snake Rivers to the Port of Lewiston, and from there moves along the Lochsa river, up over Lolo pass, through Missoula and up the Blackfoot River to the Port of Sweetgrass. The trucks carrying the equipment are, at their largest, 24 feet wide, 30 feet tall, and 262 feet long; the size of a three story building with the length of almost a football field.

The Environmental Assessment as required by Montana Department of Transportation regulations has just come out but does not adequately address the impacts these shipments will have on local communities, emergency vehicle passage, or environmental damage from road construction. Most importantly, the assessment does not even mention the impacts Tar Sands mining has on Climate Change even though Montana stands to be greatly affected by the continued use of such fuels.

As well, the scope of the Assessment is drastically limited and does not take into account the entire route through which these shipments will pass. By only completing the Montana Environmental Assessment Exxon Mobil is circumventing any federal process that would require them to look at the shipment route as a whole. We need to press the Montana DOT to submit to a federal Environmental Impact Statement to take into full account all the damages that Tar Sands mining generates.

by jhwygirl

Cowgirl took a hoof to my congressional candidate Tyler Gernant today, with a title that misguidedly uses the word “analysis” and a proof-positive that is pretty much pot-kettle-black. {Sigh}

So let’s do some analysis. Not like I hadn’t looked at the numbers – I made mention of that in a comment to a previous post. So I could of written this post up a week ago, but I didn’t really want to go there. But since MtC did, well as any lawyer would say, the door’s been opened.

So let’s look at the last quarter –
Dennis McDonald claims total contributions of $24,262 (link)
Tyler Gernant claims total contributions of $23,566 (link).

BUT, when you take out “In-kind: Campaign Services” donations from Dennis McDonald’s staffers (maximum $2,400 from three of them, and $2,300 from the other) – a total of $9.500 – well, that brings McDonald down to $14,762 in total contributions.

Gernant has some “In-kind” donations himself – $110 in office supplies from his dad, $120 in promotional pencils from someone in Billings, and $163 from Tyler (himself). That’s a total of $393, bringing Gernant down to $23,173.

Gernant $23,173 to McDonald’s $14,762?

Cowgirl’s making hay over the fact that Gernant got $362 more in out-of-state contributions than McDonald? And Gernant has family that now live out-of-state? While McDonald is from San Francisco? That’s the “nearly pot-kettle-black” part I mentioned above.

Let’s look at loans the candidates make to themselves: Gernant has loaned himself a total of $1,800 bucks the whole campaign. McDonald’s loaned himself a total of $10,835, with $9,835 coming just this last quarter.

Wouldn’t you think McDonald would be doing better at raising funds as we drill down to the primary?

Sure seems to me like Gernant has some momentum going….and maybe that’s why she’s going after Gernant instead of going after the other Dennis’ PAC money…something our own b’birder Pete points out in his comment to Cowgirl’s post.

Of course, Dennis Rehberg’s pulled in over $153,000 this quarter, with $53,000 of it coming from PAC’s (Gernant has $0 PAC, McDonald with $100).

Some of Rehberg’s PAC and industry money?

$1,000 from the Sugar Cane League PAC in Louisiana (and another $500 from the American Sugarbeet Grower’s Association in Washington DC).
$1,000 from the BP North America Employee PAC in Illinois.
ConocoPhillips Spirit PAC out of Oklahoma gave $1,000.
Another one out of Oaklahoma – Devon Energy Corporation PAC – gave $1,000.
Employees of Northrop Grumman Corp PAC of California gave $1,000 ($6,000 to date).
Chevron Employees PAC (of California, too) gave $1,000 ($2,000 to date).
EnergySolutions Inc Fund/Effective Govt (tea baggy sounding, no?) out of Washington DC gave $1,000 ($2,000 to date)
Florida Sugar Cane League PAC (of Washington DC) $1,000
Halliburton/Brown & Root PAC (Washington DC, of course) $1,000

The list goes one.

I didn’t know Montana grew sugar cane.

by jhwygirl

I shoulda’ checked my email first, before writing the post below.

This photo comes courtesy Missoula resident and transportation advocate John Wolverton:

by jhwygirl

The sheer disregard that this proposal has for what is one of the more scenic drives and accessible recreational and prime fishing corridors in western Montana blows my mind.

There are so many things wrong with this proposal as it is now – a weak environmental analysis, prepared by Exxon, without any scoping. You can count on hearing more about that as I attempt to delve into the nearly 200 page (plus 12 addendums) document….by May 14th!

That’s right – public comment, which opened April 8th – closes on May 14th on a proposal to establish a permanent “High and Wide Corridor” from Lewistown Idaho, over and across Lolo Pass and 300 miles of western Montana on to Canada and Exxon’s oil tar sands in Fort McMurray in Alberta.

You can access the full Kearl Module transportation Project here, from MDOT’s EIS and EA public notice page.

I think we got lucky last winter, but how many trucks and 18-wheelers end up in the drink down there on the Idaho side? Because that road is so narrow?

Are they going to have to blast some of those cliffs to widen the road? Along what is a pretty darn scenic corridor?

Two pieces of equipment are expected to move through Montana every day for a year. 24-feet wide, 30-feet high, 210-feet long, and weighing up to 334,568 pounds.

Do you recreate Lolo Pass? I do in the summer. Several times a week….and then with occasional weekends. Imagine the delays! They say 15 minutes? No frickin’ way – not with stuff as largw as what they’re proposing to move.

Of all choices, Lolo Pass was best? Well, guess what? We really don’t know – the environmental review done by Exxon included four alternatives: four Canandian highway routes and one US Interstate route. Those 4 alternatives? Dismissed in four paragraphs with no analysis of the so-called impassable barriers, while the Idaho/Montana route is extensive in the number of turnouts needing to be constructed, the number of small bridges needing crossed, and the extent of modifications needed to complete the route.

That was before Exxon tried to say that this project was “categorically excluded” from analysis.

In some circles, this is called a “pre-determined analysis of the preferred pre-chosen alternative.”

It’s bad enough when they don’t scope the thing to first see what types of alternatives come from the public…but when they don’t even bother to fully analyze the alternatives, well, folks, that’s just about bordering on violating some of our Montana Environmental Policy Act laws and rules.

ARM 18.2.251 requires a programmatic analysis “whenever the agency is contemplating a series of agency-initiated actions, programs, or policies which in part or in total may constitute a major state action significantly affecting the human environment,” and “whenever a series of actions under the jurisdiction of the agency warrant such an analysis as determined by the agency, or whenever prepared as a joint effort with a federal agency requiring a programmatic review.”

Did I mention that last July, MDOT Director Jim Lynch testified before the joint legislative Revenue and Transportation interim committee of the large impacts of this proposal? He said that the very nature of the project required an EIS..and yet, despite that testimony, MDOT chose to direct Exxon forward with an environmental review that didn’t even include scoping (a process in which initial outreach is made to the public for comments in an effort to determine alternatives and the scope and scale of analysis. Here is a link to Director Lynch’s presentation to the committee

You can watch the July committee hearing here. Lynch’s testimony starts about 18 minutes in. You can also review the minutes here.

What to do? Email MDOT public comment saying that the scope of this project requires a public scoping process to better assess alternatives; that all alternatives should be fully any thoroughly analyzed equally; that potential risk to important fisheries and other natural resources must be taken into consideration and weighed against other alternatives; that an assessment of risk to the public along what is a narrow secondary route used primarily for recreation should be considered; and that consideration of permanent impacts to scenic and historic corridors should be afforded the maximum protection necessary for future generations.

Just wait ’til I get to the economic impacts (or lack thereof) of having these things shipped nearly whole, after assembly in North Korea or China or wherever….

by Pete Talbot

Hey! Since corporations can now give unlimited amounts to federal campaigns, why not allow political parties the same latitude? At least that’s the Republican Party’s take on the recent Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court.

Special interests don’t have enough influence in national elections and policy, the GOP’s thinking goes. Now, not just corporations, but political parties can raise and spend unlimited dollars on federal campaigns. That is, if the Supremes rule in favor of the GOP request, and there’s no reason to think they won’t.

It’s called ‘soft money’ and the Republicans want to raise and spend big bucks to, “help elect GOP candidates to state offices, finance congressional redistricting efforts following the 2010 census, and fund lobbying efforts on federal legislation.”

As the AP reports, Democrats have opposed the Republican effort, even though they, too, would be allowed to collect unlimited contributions.

This is going to make for one long, sickening political season. You can now look forward to even bigger campaign war chests and more independent expenditures on TV, radio, direct mail, et al. Look for even more lobbying on behalf of corporations and parties, too, which is almost impossible to fathom.


Heads we win, tails you lose

By JC

Finance regulation is all over the media recently, and it seems that some legislation is finally moving in Congress. But what do we really know about all of this? For most people, health care reform was pretty arcane stuff, but we knew that somehow it had the potential to affect us, and we paid attention and learned as we went.

Finance and financial regulation is much more arcane, and it’s adherents speak a foreign language. And somehow we are all supposed to understand enough of this to figure out what our Wall Street money-soaked crony capitalist legislators are supposed to do in D.C. in order to fix it. And the less “we” know of it, the better “they” will make out.

I’m not going to bore all of you with a lecture on derivatives, CDOs, or default swaps. But I am going to leave you with some quotes from Goldman Sachs in emails released Saturday by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, via HuffPo.

Consider this an open thread on the future of our financial system.

goldman sacks america

The firm made money on the upside — originating, securitizing and selling subprime mortgage-based securities to investors — and on the downside, thanks to the insurance.

“Bad news [we lost $2.5 million],” a May 17, 2007, email began from one Goldman employee to another. A security the firm had underwritten and sold had just lost value, costing Goldman about $2.5 million.

Further down in the email, the employee, Deeb Salem, wrote “Good news…we own 10mm protection…we make $5mm.”

The firm made $5 million betting against the very securities it had underwritten and sold.

In a July 25 email that year, Gary Cohn, the firm’s chief operating officer, wrote Viniar to update him on the firm’s mortgage market activities. The firm lost about $322 million on residential mortgages — but it made $373 million on its bets against the market, bets that increased in value as the market tanked.

About 25 minutes later, Viniar wrote back, “Tells you what might be happening to people who don’t have the big short.” The firm made $51 million that day.

In a Nov. 17, 2007, email, Goldman’s chief executive officer, Lloyd Blankfein, wrote to his top lieutenants in response to an upcoming New York Times story about how the firm had profited off the souring subprime market:
“Of course we didn’t dodge the mortgage mess. We lost money, then made more than we lost because of shorts.”

You want to warn something about the whole mess? Head on over to The Baseline Scenario and start reading and following Simon Johnson. It doesn’t get much clearer than his rendition of what happened in “13 Bankers,” which is next up on my reading list.

by jhwygirl

Got mine the other day….and what is really neat is the Missoula County has created an online ballot tracking system that allows absentee voters to track their ballot online.

How cool is that?! First in the state, I hear.

County officials believe the online tracking system will also help reduce the call volume the Elections Office receives leading up to elections freeing up busy staff to focus on other Election Day related duties.

“The tracking system allows voters to participate in elections in a new way,” remarked Vickie Zeier, Elections Administrator. “The voters get to check on their ballot and make sure it’s moving through the process as it should be. It’s really exciting to give electors that option.”

Not registered absentee yet? Check this page out.

In other news, Missoulian Editor’s blog from Sherry Devlin reports that the Missoulian has created a k-12 schools beat – and have an assigned reporter, veteran Jamie Kelly.

That is great news. I hear very interesting things – good things – coming from both Big Sky and Hellgate High Schools, and it’d be good to hear more from these young citizens of Missoula. School board coverage should be more apparent too. Besides that – we’ve got the school trustee and levy requests on the ballot, and hell, I don’t even know the who what where (and I can’t find a sample ballot).

Anyways – looking forward to that school beat coverage.

by jhwygirl

In what is the first various-and-sundry-like post I’ve ever seen from one of Montana’s very best bloggers, Wulfgar! weighs in with his thoughts (and advice to Democrats and Republican’s alike) on the congressional primary races.

Interesting stuff he’s saying…and you know – and I am NOT saying this to be critical of anything – that kind of thinking is what makes Montana elections so unprecedented at times. Montana’s elections have pulled some whack results….and really, I know people who are considering doing pretty much what Wulfgar! kinda snarkily puts out there.

It’s an interesting perspective on the election.

I have some concern about this happening – there are a lot of serious legislative races that can not be left to such folly. I just hope people think carefully about the down-ballot races, too – because in a primary, you only get one party’s ballot.

“I challenge white male privilege in this election”

by JC

Well, that didn’t take long! Two days ago 4&20’s own Pete Talbot wrote up a quick profile of Montana’s Congressional race. And of course, by doing so, he had a few things to say about Melinda Gopher. First off, the platitudes:

“I really like Ms. Gopher. Her straightforward campaign is quite refreshing and her enthusiasm for progressive issues is contagious… The inspirational, refreshing and candid Ojibwe woman.”

Then the digs:

“A few things bother me, though: her late entry into the campaign leaves her way behind in fundraising and organizational staff, her ability to do outreach to constituencies outside of the human rights’ sphere is questionable, and the fact that she’s using Republican talking points against primary opponent Dennis McDonald. Please, Melinda, stick with the issues and leave the negative, policy-avoiding rhetoric to Rep. Rehberg.”

To all of which Gopher replied on her blog today:

“I got in this race, after failing to seeing an electable Democratic candidate step forward. My family has a long and proud tradition in the state of advancing equality. To attempt to pigeonhole me in a particular constituency is unfair, as Pete Talbot does in his post on 4& 20 Blackbird…

First, Talbot singles me out: no other candidate in this race has the track record I have in addressing Montana civil rights and environmental issues, and that includes the incumbent. Second, McDonald’s representation–that was detailed as, a friendship of sorts, by two different writers; of a crime family hit man are not Republican talking points–his electability is fair game and a valid consideration in this race. Certainly Montana voters I have spoken to, now too many to count–are alarmed. Third, accusing me of policy-avoiding rhetoric is just plain untrue. All one has to do is read my campaign blog right here, to see that I–unlike all of my other opponents, have been doing that very thing. Every forum, rather than play it safe, and deliver a canned five minutes, I put my skin out there and do just that–I talk about the issues. Of course, Talbot chooses to single me out and hold me to the high bar. And thats ok, I expect that, I was prepared for it, that is why I will win. Thank you Pete Talbot.”

Yes, thank you Pete Talbot! For once we get to see a candidate who isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo, and speak her mind, no matter whom gets in her cross hairs. And it is our very own Pete Talbot who gets to sharpen Ms. Gopher’s foil!

Much ado has been made about all of the regular political process for the democratic primary to pick a worthy opponent to try and unseat Denny Rehberg. And much of that primary already has consisted of three dems trying to garner some attention by trying to differentiate themselves from the other. But what it really comes down to is who has a chance to beat Rehberg in the fall.

Traditional politics would tell us that the candidate with the most money and name recognition will do best. But the 2008 campaign would tell us differently, when John Driscoll ran a campaign in which he did virtually nothing–didn’t raise any money, and didn’t run a traditional effort. And for that he won a third of the vote. Not a single candidate running against Rehberg in the last 4 elections has garnered more than 40% of the vote, two of which ran conventional campaigns fullof money, staff, and outreach: Velazquez in ’04 and Lindeen in ’06. So what’s a candidate to do?

If any democrat is going to have any success in unseating Denny, they’re going to have to take an unconventional approach. And Gopher seems to be settling into hers: grab the bull by the horns and twist them till they cry uncle. Speak truth to power.

One way I think about which of the candidates would have the most success is by looking at how Rehberg would respond to them. How will McDonald and Gernant campaign against Denny? How would Gopher? If Gopher were to take Rehberg head on like she went after Pete, then I think she has a fighting chance. After all, what is Rehberg going to do? Go negative on a Native American woman activist rising out of her HIll 57 roots? Ignore her? Answer her policy challenges? Most likely he would try and swat her aside, as he previously did with challengers Driscoll, Lindeen, Velasquez, and Kelly. McDonald and Gernant pose large targets for Rehberg. Gernant with his youth and inexperience. McDonald for his role as party insider and out-of-stater baggage.

Many people would like to make this an election about ideas and policies, where if we could have a rational debate, that reason would win, and Rehberg lose. But the national political climate is anything but attuned to that sort of rhetoric. Candidates bandy about policy points finely tuned to match a poll indicating where the wind blows.

I want a candidate who is willing to attack Rehberg for all they’re worth. A candidate who isn’t afraid to step on some toes as she guns for the jugular and rips the silver spoon out of Denny’s mouth. And the only candidate I see that seems willing to do what needs to be done in order to beat Rehberg seems to be Melinda Gopher.

Pete’s lamentations about his perceptions of Gopher’s downside can be addressed: money can be raised; staff built and organized; and outreach expanded beyond her traditional base. As to the “the negative, policy-avoiding rhetoric” he decried, well, that’s politics. I see plenty of policy meat in Gopher’s writings, indicating a keen mind willing to jump into the policy arena and debate: “I challenge any of my other opponents to delve as deeply into the issues as I have; they all lack the political courage to do so”. And that negative rhetoric, well, I have to agree that McDonald has some baggage that is just going to make him an easy target in the fall, and make for an ugly campaign.

People have lambasted me for wanting to make Rehberg’s character an issue in this election. But I think it is key, as the regular policy debates have become useless talking points dictated by polling and regulated by media megaphones. And no one seems concerned about Rehberg’s lack of achievement. In fact, many think his lack of achievement is a bonus, as it leaves him with little controversy over his accomplishments–there are none. I think that if voters were to look to the character of our candidates, they will see a clear difference between Gopher and Rehberg.

But the race has finally hit the first turn, and is heating up. This should be fun!

by Pete Talbot

(Before I get into the meat of this post, I must say this to all Democratic congressional candidates: Spend your campaign dollars in Montana. A quick look at Denny Rehberg’s campaign expenditures shows the majority of his money going to consultants in Virginia and Tennessee, a researcher in Philadelphia, a phone bank in Arizona, direct mail in Utah, etc. Granted, a chunk of Denny’s change goes to Missoula’s own Erik Iverson for political consulting and to Huntley, Montana’s Tyler Matthews, Rehberg’s campaign manager, but the bulk of his money is being spent out-of-state. And I don’t care what party you’re in, few things disappoint me more than Montana campaigns spending their dollars out-of-state when there are businesses right here that can do the same job.)

OK. One would hope that the 2010 race for Montana’s lone congressional seat would remain civil. Fat chance; this is, after all, politics.

I remember a political operative telling me, years ago: “if you’re trailing in the polls, go negative.” It left a bad taste in my mouth.

Now, Denny Rehberg is hardly trailing in the polls but he’s already gone negative. His “mafia ties” campaign against Democratic candidate Dennis McDonald is in high gear. That’s unfortunate, but I suppose it’s easier than mounting a campaign based on substance. Seriously, Denny, how about a discussion on how Wall Street should be regulated, or how to fix the health care crisis, or how climate change should be mitigated, or how to grow sustainable jobs and the Montana economy? Although, again, it’s easier to just follow the party line and vote “no” on any legislation offered up by Democrats than to work toward solutions.

There’s also A.J. Otjen, a moderate, and Mark French (who should have filed as a Constitutionalist), running in the Republican primary.

On the Democratic side, well, this is a tough one for me. I want the candidate who has the best chances of unseating Rehberg. Period. I’m not sure who that is yet.

Jhwygirl has a post up on Melinda Gopher that has generated a plethora of comments — a couple from one of Rehberg’s primary challengers, A.J. Otjen. I really like Ms. Gopher. Her straightforward campaign is quite refreshing and her enthusiasm for progressive issues is contagious. A few things bother me, though: her late entry into the campaign leaves her way behind in fundraising and organizational staff, her ability to do outreach to constituencies outside of the human rights’ sphere is questionable, and the fact that she’s using Republican talking points against primary opponent Dennis McDonald. Please, Melinda, stick with the issues and leave the negative, policy-avoiding rhetoric to Rep. Rehberg.

Then there’s Tyler Gernant. This sharp, young fellow has mounted a quality campaign and is only slightly behind McDonald in the fundraising category. As opposed to Gopher, though, and even McDonald, his campaign lacks the inspiration that would fire up an activist like me. He’s being tentative and I don’t think that serves a candidate well in the primary. Here’s a quote from Helena progressive Frank Kromkowski to Mr. Gernant in a recent email blast:

From what I can tell, your campaign platform has very little substance and nothing bold and progressive that will help Montana get beyond the superficial conservative Rehberg line … Say something significant, for example, about the illegal and disastrous US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and Pakistan — such as “Bring the troops home” and “no more money for war” — and use the dollars wasted on military adventures that have no real value to US security for jobs, housing, health care, protection and improvement of the aging water and wastewater systems in Montana’s cities and town. We need a progressive Democrat to replace Rehberg (not just another Baucus).
On the other hand, Tyler has been hitting the road and working the counties and the media. And underneath his rather soft message, I believe beats the heart of a progressive.
The third Democratic candidate, Melville rancher Dennis McDonald, is the one the party has been grooming for this race. That’s both good and bad. Having support of party leadership gets one lists and funding and organization. But it also proffers the title of “insider” or part of “the machine.” I’m not so sure that’s a good title to have these days. I’ll give McDonald credit, though, for bucking our Montana Senators and coming out early for single-payer, universal health care. It should also be noted that a frequent Republican commenter at 4&20, Pogo Possum, and other conservatives I’ve talked to believe that McDonald is the strongest Democratic candidate in the field. McDonald also has the Montana AFL-CIO endorsement.
There’s a fourth candidate, Sam Rankin, out of Billings. I like what I saw on his website but otherwise know nothing about this fellow. Better get your butt up to Missoula, the county with the most Democratic voters in the state, and get your message out if you expect to be a player at all. And feel free to get a hold of us at 4&20, we’d be glad to post your talking points.
So who gets the nod? The inspirational, refreshing and candid Ojibwe woman — who’s underfunded and not well-connected (outside of tribal politics) and is a party outsider? The other new face — the policy-smart, well-organized and politically savvy candidate with a potentially great future in Montana Democratic politics (but has a less than passionate campaign thus far)? Or the established, out front, Montana rancher who is the best known and may have the best demographic appeal but, is also considered a party insider (and has received the most press, both positive and negative)?
Consider this an open thread. What are your insights into this race, gentle reader? I haven’t made up my mind, yet, and there are only seven weeks left until the June 8 primary election.


by jhwygirl

Missoula County Transportation Planning Division will be doing a non-motorized traffic count in May, but it’s going to take some volunteers – and the more the better.

This flyer has more information on the count, along with the short 1-hour training schedule dates (which are April 29th and May 6th).

The traffic counts will occur two days, two different times: Tuesday, May 4th, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, May 8th, noon to 2 p.m.

The county has a sign-up sheet at the main transportation webpage….and get over there and sign up. Today’s what – the 20th? First training session is the 29th.

Anyways – this is certainly a worthy effort – all part of a needs assessment to determine what it is Missoula uses and how we use it, in terms of non-motorized transportation and its infrastructure. It’s hard to justify grants without raw data….and don’t you know, we’d all be wealthier with more grants and less tax $ for that infrastructure.

by jhwygirl

That, from Democratic primary candidate Melinda Gopher:

There is one intractable fact and I will hammer this home: Dennis McDonald is not electable. I am hearing it from Democrat, Republican and undecided voters alike. His advancement in the June primary will most assuredly guarantee another Rehberg win in the fall. A.J. Otjen is not convincing as a credible Republican challenger, she has not put the effort into it. Mark French is on the extreme right fringe. At the same time, long time Republican party veterans already concede this seat will fall in the Democratic aisle.

Melinda Gopher has some guts. She titled her post “Melinda Gets Tough with Montana,” and truly, she is saying what plenty of people have been pondering…but none have put in print.

(I don’t know that I’d write off A.J. Otjen as unconvincing or not credible, but I believe Gopher is being kind describing Mark French as being “on the extreme right fringe”)

Her most recent blog post, published yesterday morning, takes Dennis McDonald (and others) to task for a number of things…but mainly she “gets tough” with McDonald on a number of issues, including his AFL-CIO endorsements, his associations with mobster “Jimmy the Weasel”, and his handling of the 2008 congressional race (as head of the Montana Democratic Party).

While she somewhat unfairly blames the lack of support for Jim Hunt on McDonald’s leadership (Hunt lost the Democratic congressional primary in 2008, and the state party wouldn’t help a candidate until after they win the primary), she does allude to him having made decisions in the past that brought him to an advantage in this year’s race:

“I have another question,” she asks. “Did Mr. McDonald manipulate the state party strategy in 2008 to position himself for this race? I would have to say, based on his statements on the campaign trail; yes he did. As he likes to say; “this office is the only statewide race we (Democrats) did not win, so I wanted to come back and finish the job myself.””

Gopher doesn’t stop there – she then goes on to highlight Montana’s hugest disappointment – Representative Dennis Rehberg, Montana’s 10-year congressional do-nothing:

We cannot deny history, this is a pivotal race on the national stage. This race is where the tire meets the road for the Democratic electoral strategy in 2012. It is where–for too long; the person occupying the seat of this nation’s largest geographic district has been literally “drunk at the helm.” This is why Montana is at the bottom in disposable income, we cannot afford to educate our children, we cannot retain those fortunate to receive an education. We have a disjointed leadership in D.C., while passing three bills in his entire nine years–as Tyler Gernant points out—all to name federal buildings: Rehberg is the 12th wealthiest member of the U.S. House. His response to largely his own failure to lead, disguised as faux right wing earmark rage, just stated this past week: we are all on the Titanic.

Her piece is lengthy, so really – go read it. Melinda is a pretty straightforward speaker who I’ve yet to see mince words. Clearly, she does the same with her writing.

by jhwygirl

Well, boy – where to begin with this one (meaning I’m trying to quell the rant that lurks within)?

Nestled between what really was a big news week here in Missoula was The Indy’s Matthew Frank with an article exposing all the ugly details of DirecTV call center’s union busting activities.

And God bless Matt Frank – he actually does get to mentioning what I’m about to elaborate on below.

DirecTV is a tenant of Missoula County, leasing a building that was built for them by the county, using a combination of funding that included a low-cost 25-year loan from the state and a 20-year TIF district created by the county. Baucus also secured at least a half million more for the deal, for training.

DirecTV only has a 10-year lease. The package of incentives offered to them for 800 (anyone check and see if they’re actually employing that many) $9.50/hour jobs equaled an amount equivalent to $22,500 per year in tax subsidies for every $19,750/year job.

Looking back and re-reading those old Rob Struckman articles in the Missoulian – he was laying it all out there. Apparently, people were OK with this.

Unemployment at the time? 3.5% (considered healthy). Dick King, head of Missoula Area Economic Development – one of the many brokers of the deal (which included Schweitzer and Baucus) – said at the time “Our issue is not unemployment but underemployment. We need to get the right company to push up from the bottom. I think this is it.”

I wonder how much money DirecTV has sucked off in training subsidies ($4,000 per new employee)? Training subsidies that came via both federal and state dollars?

DirecTV is half-way through their 10-year lease…will they be recommitting? Or will taxpayers be left holding the bag on those loan repayments that stretch 10 and 15 years past their current lease?

I guess what I’m saying is don’t expect the county or MAEDC or the Governor or Baucus to be stepping up and speaking out against DirecTV’s anti-labor activities. Activities that are being done under a government tax dollar subsidized roof. They’re going to want that tenant around, otherwise, a whole bunch of taxpayers will be left holding the bag for a 34-acre facility.

On the other hand, with all the tech infrastructure that went into getting that building in there, perhaps its a good time to shop around for a new tenant and get someone lined up for when DirecTV’s lease expires. Frankly – with subsidy that is more than what an employee is actually costing them, I wouldn’t be banking on them sticking around – I’d be banking on them shopping around for another sweetheart tax-subsidy rich deal like the one they got here.

Talk about unsustainable!

DirecTV was a bad deal as it was. With low-wage jobs – and so many of ’em – they place more of a strain on our essential housing situation than they do to help it. If we’re going to give away subsidies, it should be for union-wage earning jobs or high tech jobs that allow people to live a little more than hand-to-mouth on $9.50/hour.

~~~~~
Addendum: Be sure to read the comments. DirecTV employees have a website – S.T.A.N.D., standing for Satellite Techs Allied for a New Direction. Another comment talks about how DirecTV is apparently going through employees. You mean despite (or is it because of) all that government subsidized $4,000/per new employee training, they’re having problems keeping good employees?

Abject Failure

by jhwygirl

It’s a weekend…what the hell – here’s one to start it off: Billings man skips bail on 5th DUI.

Bail? On a 5th DUI? How wasn’t mere arrest on that some sort of parole or probation violation on the 4th (which would have been a felony charge)?

We have a judicial system that repeatedly makes poor choices. At question is why. Why would a presumably reasonable learned wise judge allow a 60 yr-old, four time convicted DUI andfelony burglar be allowed a bail of $7,500? Why would he be allowed bail at all, with a conviction meaning certain jail term?

Do they make these choices because of some financial analysis? Is there short space at the jail? Does the local have to pick up the tab – how does that all work? Is that the source of this?

Is that at the root of multiple DUI’s? Eight DUI’s? ELEVEN DUI’s?

Whatever it is, we aren’t doing something right…and rather than do the old Montana thing and try to figure it out completely on our own, why don’t we look at the statistics on per capita DUI offenses. See who’s at the top of that list with the least per capita – and see what it is they do on the enforcement and education side that attributes to that level.

Then let’s ignore the lobbyists that have a monetary interest in alcohol, and do what is right for the citizens health and safety….and for our overall tax paying interests.

by jhwygirl

I certainly hope the Dems in Kalispell are paying attention to this.

Democratic candidate for HD8, Dane Clark, of Kalispell was handing out tea party pamphlets, packin’ heat (because rumors of agent provocateurs, it seemed prudent) and passing out campaign lit for Mark French, Republican primary congressional wingnut racist bigot from Sanders County.

~~~~
James Conner never writes enough for me. I wish he wrote more – but it looks like he’s done two pieces recently, both regarding Flathead County politics.

I did read his eulogy for friend Loren Kreck, back when he posted it a couple weeks ago. Loren Kreck is an environmental hero that I had never heard of, yet generations of Montanans – generations of people – will benefit from his diligent work to preserve the North Fork of the Flathead.

James? You did Loren righteous. It’s a beautiful piece of writing.

by jhwygirl

Teabaggers around the states today celebrated whatever it is they celebrated by getting out and protesting whatever it is they’re protesting. On Keith Olbermann’s show tonight, he reported on a senior citizen that was interviewed at one of these many protests who said she was on social security, did not want to see it dissolved, and didn’t know that the teabaggers wanted to get rid of social security.

They’re teabaggers, and they’re proud of it:

Jay has a great piece up at Left in the West pointing out many interesting facts about those that love tea.

I got a nominal refund from the feds. I like it that way. Big refunds mean a freebee loan to uncle, and why would anyone want to do that? I owed the state a few bucks, and I was happy to do it – it means that much less in coal porn profits for my share.

President Obama and his wife paid $1.8 million in taxes on the $5.5 million that he made. They donated $329.100 to charities – and none of those figures include the $1.4 million Nobel Peace prize the President won and then donated to a number of organizations, include Bozeman’s Greg Mortenson, who works building schools in Afghanistan.

I like my government. I like having police and schools. I like that someone builds and maintains roads and highways. I also like that someone regulates things like food and hospitals, and ensures that places like gas stations don’t present a hazard to the public.

The reality that these teabaggers create is interesting. In 2009? 47% of Americans did not pay federal income tax. 47%.

Interestingly, a preliminary table created by the Tax Policy Center estimated 45% of Americans would have no tax liability – but what is even more interesting is that under a “simplified tax system”, which many tea partyiers advocate for (including my brother), only 27% of people would have a no tax liability.

Who isn’t paying taxes? The lowest income folks – those on social security, families and single parents utilizing the earned-income credit. Who’s fault is that? Blame it on Ronald Reagan:

It is no accident, btw, that the number of people not paying income tax was so high in 2009. You may have noticed that we’ve had a recession lately. And here is a powerful insight: When people’s incomes decline so too does their income tax (at least most of the time). At the same time, many working families have benefited from temporary tax cuts aimed at boosting the economy, and as a result some did not pay income taxes last year. As the economy improves and those tax cuts expire, it should also be no surprise that the share of people who don’t pay income taxes will likely shrink from half last year to less than 40 percent by 2012.

There is, however, another reason why some people don’t pay. For decades, both Democratic and Republican governments have made conscious policy decisions to remove low-income working families from the income tax rolls. And, guess what, sometimes government policy works exactly as intended. That’s what happened this time.

Let’s take one of the biggest drivers: the Earned Income Tax Credit. Based on an idea (the negative income tax) originated by conservative icon Milton Friedman, the EITC is refundable, so that people who work for low wages can not only wipe out their income tax liability, they can even get a cash payment from the government. The EITC was enacted in 1975 under President Ford, greatly expanded in 1986 under President Reagan, and expanded again under presidents Clinton and Bush (both of them). It’s been the very model of bipartisan tax policy (which, I suppose, is why some dislike it so).

Both the EITC and the child care credit are explicitly designed to encourage people to work—a goal most of us (including Friedman and Ronald Reagan) thought was a very good thing.

Doesn’t make much sense to tax people that aren’t sitting on their cash – people living hand-to-mouth are only going to spend.

Which is something even that tea partyin’ senior citizen on social security realized as she was being interviewed, having used her social security check to put gas in the car to get her to the protest.

By CFS

While hundreds of people gathered in front of Missoula City Council Chambers for Monday night’s meeting a local homeless man died only a block from all the commotion.  The Missoulian reports that police found a 46-year-old man behind 130 W. Broadway, the location of La Parrilla and Fed Ex, at around 7:10 in the evening.  An autopsy concluded that the man died from injuries sustained from an assault and police are ruling this a homicide.

Any death like this is a tragedy, but given the situation and timing of the incident the man’s death seems even more tragic to me.

The irony bound in a member of Missoula’s most vulnerable population being killed only blocks away from where our generation’s civil rights issue just got resolved is amazing.  No time for the assault has been published, but the police found the man in the alley just an hour after City Council started up and with so many eyes on the streets it seems implausible that this incident went unnoticed.  If you happened to be downtown last night attending the rallies and might have seen something please come forward.

Is the contradictory dichotomy of our community’s laws towards these two different populations apparent to anyone else?    Have people already forgotten last years debate over the pedestrian interference ordinance when the council legislated moving the transient population off of downtown sidewalks so that people could got about shopping in downtown without being harassed (I over simplify).  We tossed a group of people who only a very small fragment of our population really cares about aside and out of public view.  Now here we are, patting ourselves on our backs for passing the anti-discrimination ordinance and proclaiming we are the bastion of minority rights in Montana.  Does anyone else see the contradictions apparent in the two city council resolutions?  We protect one group of people while purposefully marginalizing another group of people who already live on the fringes of society.

A 2007 survey of Missoula found that 551 homeless people lived in Missoula and that number has surely grown in the intervening three years as the economic collapse took hold.  Hell, in the thirty minutes I’ve spent writing this in Break Espresso I’ve seen more than a dozen transients wander aimlessly by.  And for a marginalized population do we really want to be pushing them out of public view?  I’ve noticed recently that large groups of homeless congregate in downtown alleyways where they won’t be harassed by cops and be out of public view.  Is this situation somehow safer than having them on city streets where multiple eyes can act as a regulation on behavior?

This assault happened away from the prying eyes of the public even with a large crowd near by.  Homelessness will continue to be an issue that Missoula must deal with or ignore at its own peril, just as discrimination against minority populations will continue to be a social ill that refuses to disappear regardless of our Constitutional rights or local laws.

by JC

Via TPM: “Our plan is not to shout them down… but to infiltrate them and push them farther from the mainstream.”

tea party


The scheme reads like a sequel to “Being John Malkovich”: Levin’s group of protesters plan to get in the heads of tea partiers at the Tax Day Tea Parties nationwide Thursday and manipulate them right out of relevance. They’ll dress like tea partiers, talk like tea partiers and carry signs like tea partiers. In fact, according to Levin they’ll be completely indistinguishable from tea partiers, except for one thing — they won’t be out-crazied by anyone.

This sounds like fun! Time for a Missoula Chapter of “Crash the Tea Party” anyone? Everybody’s favorite Rick Jore will be on hand at the Missoula Tax Day Rally, and the MIssoulian has other times and places in western Montana for rallies.

The Missoula rally, billed as a “nonpartisan, nondenominational rally of concerned Americans” by organizers, takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday in front of the federal building on Broadway.

And don’t forget to check out the Crash the Tea Party forums to see what events may be going on in your neighborhood!

by Pete Talbot

(UPDATE: City Council passes anti-discrimination ordinance on a 10-2 vote. Renee Mitchell and Lyn Hellegard were the two council members to vote against it. Jhwygirl blogged live from council chambers here and here. I went to the rally at Caras Park and then marched to council chambers with the masses.)

It’s been a half-dozen years, since George W.’s war in Iraq, that this many took to the streets of Missoula. City Council is voting on an anti-discrimination ordinance tonight that says people, despite their sexual orientation, still have rights. Amazing concept.

It’s a local issue but I believe it’s more. It’s also about what the Missoula community stands for, and that isn’t the fear and hate that the “Christian” right advances. It’s not the Tea Party rhetoric, either. It’s the opposite of that stuff. It’s about mutual respect and tolerance.

I was impressed by the number of Missoula clergymen and woman who spoke in favor of the ordinance; talking about real Christian values.

I will give the opposition credit, though. It showed up in the face of overwhelming numbers; I’d say 60 pro-discrimination folks to around 500 anti-discrimination folks.

The crowd at the rally and march was diverse, to say the least. Many, many younger people in attendance, which gives me hope.

But it’s late and jhwygirl is capturing the moment better than I so I’ll just leave you with some pictures.

by jhwygirl

Picking this up where Taryn Nash, daughter of Tei Nash speaks:

Hello members of the city council, the Missoula community and my friends. My name is Taryn Nash. I am a Missoula native and I’m currently in Spokane right now attending physicians assistant’s school, but will be coming back in 3 months.

I am also Tei Nash’s daughter. Tei Nash, if you don’t know already, is chairman of notmybathroom.com.

I am also a member of the LGBT community. I am here for two very important reasons tonight and I appreciate you listening to my short statements. The first is to address my father – he just left, I don’t know if you saw that, but it was because of my presence I believe he left.

Dad – I strongly disagree with the way you have been portraying the LGBT community who are my friends. You have gone too far. I will not sit back anylonger and be quiet. I love you because you are my dad, but I have lost respect for you. Your blanket judgements and irrational conclusions are ignorant and hurtful, and you need to realize that this crusade you are on is wrong, and it affects me personally.

It makes me sad to say this, but Dad? Right now I am ashamed to call you my father. I am asking you to stop your ridiculous agenda of battling the LGBT rights or you will lose me forever.

The second reason I am here tonight is to encourage the council members to pass this very important ordinance. I plan to practice medicine, with an emphasis in geriatric care in the Missoula community. And I hope to live in a community where I won’t be discriminated based upon my orientation.

I also encourage you to pass this ordinance because these wonderful people of the LGBT community deserve protection against discrimination in all areas. They are hard-working, trustworthy, loving and respectable people and I am proud to call them my family.

Thank you for your time.

{Wow. Hug.}

by jhwygirl

We’ll be giving this my best girl scout try…..

Good lord – we’ve not even gotten to the purpose of tonight, and Halverson is out there calling the city the Soviet Union.

Mayor Engen is saying that no one is going to applaud tonight – because what it does is ramps up emotions. He points out that there is going to be people on both sides of the aisle of this issue that have never spoken before in public, and he wants to make sure that everyone is able to be heard.

Amen to that, Mr. Mayor!

Mayor now reads the Diversity Day proclamation.

Hearing is now beginning. Presentations from sponsors of the ordinance will speak, along with certain opponents to start.

Councilperson Stacy Rye begins, and says that this is the most packed that she has ever seen it. Dave Strohmaier and her have sponsored this bill – it will extend protection to sexual orientation and gender identity and gender expression. Missoula will hopefully join 129 other cities and Washington DC. She goes on to dispell some myths. There is nothing in this ordinance about bathrooms – there are no laws governing who uses what bathroom – and she notes that despite this, there has not been chaos in Missoula bathrooms over the years.

She points out that in any of the 129 other cities, there has not been an outbreak of crime.

Housing would be protected for sexual orientation just as it is protected for race sex and religion. Businesses like Missoula like Walmart and Costco are but two that already have protections such as the ones proposed already in place. Who you are or who you love should have no effect on your employment and should not cause you to loose housing or services.

Dave Strohmaier begins – and notes what a historic steps this is for Missoula. He reviews the framework – there are two main sections – a new chapter being added which sets the legal framework for discrimination and non-discrimination. It contains an intent section, and other sections with deal with multiple aspects.

The City of Missoula will not be prosecuting the first through third offenses – people would have to obtain their own counsel. Only the 4th offense will be prosecuted as a misdemeanor. That is the first main chunk. The second part amends existing code that already contains language related to discrimination – and amends the protected classes.

He speaks to the origin – he says that there is a very real history of discrimination existing in Missoula. He says that last fall both he and Stacy Rye began looking at the issue individually, and found that many places were looking at doing the same and they joined forces with the MT Human Rights Network.

Why not do a referendum? Refer it to the voters? I think that we were elected as representatives – that we have a representative government and that we were elected to make hard choices. It is our responsibility to deal with it.

A few misconceptions: This ordinance will infringe upon rights to exercise religion – Dave says that the Montana Constitution does not allow this, as does the U.S. Constitution. We have – to make it clear – have amended language in the intent section to make it clear that this ordinance does to ensure on the free exercise of religion.

Churches are free to hire – and he cites ministers and day care workers – anyone they wish.

No local government has the authority to alter Montana’s Constitution.

Nicky Zupanic, public policy director for the ACLU. Has had a chance to speak with many of the council to address many of the concerns as the ordinance was drafted and redrafted. Is happy to respond to any other questions that come up, especially as they related to new amendments to clarify protections under the 1st Amendment.

She says that the ACLU has worked hard to ensure that people are not discriminated against. There are reasons that we protect against discrimination because certain traits are inherent – they can not be changed. There is a history of discrimination that certain people have been subject to. At the end of the day, the question is whether the LGBT community belongs in that class.

Passing this ordinance allows for people to come forth with complaints. She notes that many similar ordinances have been in place for 10, 15 years. For many that have been told that state laws do not include you – for these people, this ordinance is a big deal. For people that believe in fairness and equality – who believes is fostering and inclusive, welcoming community – for these citizens of Missoula, this is a very big deal.

Jamee Greer, of the Montana Human Rights Network speaks. He notes the strong support of the Missoula community. Following the kick-off of the campaign, the network organized a large group of supporters to support LGBT. He provides 3,200 petitions that he’s gathered. He is speeding through the huge numbers of organizations – Poverello, Jeanette Ranking, Blue Mountain Clinic…..

One of the newer groups that was created was FlushTheFear. He gives thanks to Quality Supply and her support offered as a business with multiple locations throughout Montana. He reads from her letter – calling for Missoula public policy to reflect values that ensure that everyone is treated with respect and humanity.

Jamee shares a personal story – and talks about coming out in the 8th grade. His father would classify himself as a conservative – a Baptist. When he told his dad, he said that his dad told him that he was proud of him, but that he was afraid for him – that Jamee’s life would face discrimination and an uphill battle.

Bob Lucino, a Missoula resident for 32 years. A former city council rep – says that what he is about to say is not easy. He risks friendships following his words. I don’t hate anybody. People that speak in opposition are not hateful – they are reasonable thoughtful citizens…we respect your office and we pray for you all on a regular basis. We respect your authority. I come tonight as a citizen to state my opposition to this ordinance. There is strong opposition for this ordinance. The latest count is that council has received 439 letters and emails in opposition.

What is there to discuss? By sheer coincidence, and proclamation is read, represented by students who were invited to Caras Park and they marched here. What’s really to discuss? This ordinance is artfully crafted and is very clearly sandwiched between civil rights images. What the vast majority of Montana’s think of as self-destructive, deviant and destructive behaviors. This has been cloaked behind race, creed, veterans – who can argue with that?

What would JFK say? LBJ? I don’t recall any of them ever talking about these groups? The ordinance language and the proclamation infers that it is our duty to protect these people. I don’t wish anyone harm – if people choose to have a dysfunctional lifestyle, that’s OK – but when you take it into this forum, and you cloak it in civil rights imagery, I have a problem with that.

Council reps Rye and Strohmaier is asking their colleagues to go where council has dared not go before. Legislating morality. Goes back to when he was finishing up his term 1991/92 – said that constituents came to him asking look into Mulligans and Fantasy for Adults – that people had family members dragged into a certain lifestyle…said that he didn’t want to deal with it, but he did. He said that from the first review committee – he said that people said that it is not the cities job to deal with moral issues. This discussion had a curious way of advancing until it got to a full public hearing – 350 people showed up. Spill over crowd. Council could have set a high moral standard regarding obscenity – precedent had allowed it, yet they voted 8-3 against it.

Now we come 18 years later, and he considers this as great an issue as hard-core porn and obscenity. He said that he doesn’t want to open up a slipper slope of legislating every little issue. Here we are tonight with a great moral issue and this time the council is considering setting another community standard. In the majority opinion, it is against the majority to get involved in this moral issue.

He turns to Strohmaier and Wiener and asks them about a bike path.

In conclusion, he wants council to take up all the other peoples issues in this town – and notes that we don’t need to go ths far.

Tei Nash gets up to speak. Resident of Missoula – 5 children, 2 businesses. This ordinance is purposely constructed to give no protections to rights of conscience. It will force a change in the moral compass of this community. The ACLU and the MHRN do not represent the will of a majority of Missoula citizens.

This ordinance is not simple. It is written purposely vague. Has consequences to business and encroaches upon the safety protections needed by the women and children of this county.

Under the non-government created 3rd sex, gender identity, the male experiencing this will be able to use any bathroom or services and if he is denied and if he perceives that his gender expression is discrimination, businesses are subject to penalties. Businesses are deemed guilty – there is no recourse except for expensive litigation. Given the absence of scientific or tangible proof of innate sense of one’s gender – it is impossible to protect people.

This ordinance is barbaric. It is irresponsible to expect to be told that increased opportunity for crimes to be committed by peeping Tom cross-dressing pedophiles and other sexual predators that use gender identity to gain access won’t be fully prosecuted until after the fact.

Should this ordinance pass, for every council member who votes for this ordinance, your aspirations will be severely impeded in the next election.

Reverend Hymes, of the Alliance Defense Fund – and wanted to address some legal concerns. It is fair to say that the old saying that one mans cup of tea is another’s draft of poison. There is a clash of two world views. As soon as we read this in the preamble – that there will be no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – when you give that, you automatically discrimination to those that have a religious view in opposition.

The fact that there is a newly added disclaimer reminds me of many of the promises coming out of Washington. Right now I see that disclaimer, it is simply stating the obvious, but it does not remove the poison that is in the words that follow. SCOTUS says that it will look at the words the law employs. The SCOTUS also says that we can not construe statutory phrases in isolation – that we have to look at the design of the ordnance in the whole.

He is concerned that one of the items that will be brought up is a judicial settlement is that the city of Missoula is going have to pay something – while many of you on this council will disagree with my world view, what I’m really talking about is the potential for many lawsuits – lawsuits of very many different natures. The ordinance infringes upon churches – because the very definition of a church has it dealing with non-members – and as such, we’d be subject to this ordinance.

Courts will look at how this law is applied. Under public accommodations, it says that anyone who sells food is a public accommodation – and that means that they can not discrimination. He notes that he has pastors in this audience that sells food. SHEC does – Youth for Christ sells food – those churches will be forced to hire people in strict disagreement with their religious principles.

Incidentally, 15A uses the word “bathroom.”

A public accommodation has to open up its services and activities. That means that the services that a church has to provide – nurseries, weddings – that means that they can not discriminate. That means that the Pastor of a church will be forced to conduct a homosexual marriage. Nonetheless, despite what Strohmaier says that this is not legal because of the Montana laws – this ordinance is illegal.

Let me describe to you what happens when a case happens under 1st Amendment expression – that will immediately go to Judge Molloy and then to the 9th Circuit. I want to talk to you about money and what it will cost the city of Missoula – and then what will happen when the city looses – and I don’t have to be a prophet to say that – it will cost a lot. Is this something you really want?

I do not want the epitaph of this city council to be the city council that bankrupted the City of Missoula. The first time a gender-identity man walks into a women’s restroom and does something that strikes psychological fear and apprehension in a child, that lawsuit will come against this city and you will know real litigation costs.

I beg you to remember – for the sake of your soul’s – this is a sin and you should not support it.

Public comment begins. Mayor will enforce the 3-minute rule.

Pastor Ron Theisen to stand in opposition. Doesn’t believe there are problems – but sees on minimal evidence and it does not warrant action. Says the ordinance is advancing a political agenda. It’s poorly written. Said he had to contact lawyers to see what certain phrases mean. Why is it so ambiguous? Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

The Missoulian and Keila Szpaller have been doing a great job of covering the city’s proposed anti-discrimination ordinance since it’s very inception. Today I noticed a story Myths and facts of Missoula’s proposed anti-discrimination ordinance, which takes down, amongst them, the whole “bathroom issue” craziness.

Keith McHenry writes writes an especially direct letter addressing the “bathroom issue” which really should embarass those who think that an ordinance is going to cause kids or women or people in general to be attacked in public restrooms.

As Szpaller points out in the Missoulian – there currently is no law in place preventing women from using mens bathrooms and vise-versa.

Frankly, this over-obsession with sex amongst these pro-discrimination people is a little creepy, if you ask me.

Wanna check out the reality these people create? The city website posts city council’s email, and you can read letters that came in through Thursday.

For really really offensive, start with one councilperson’s exchange with a Bob Pond, of unknown local, who begins with a crude picture of a moose and a statue. That email series is at 04/07/10 11:15:47 P.M.

If anything makes me sad about this ordinance it is that there is such a loud ugly group of people opposed to treating everyone equally. That this loud ugly group of people is willing to spread lies and fear – that they are advocating for the right to treat a particular group of people, based on perception in some cases, differently.

City council takes up the anti-discrimination ordinance Monday night. The meeting starts at 7 p.m.

In addition, Missoula will celebrate its first Diversity Day, beginning at 6 p.m. down at Caras Park. Here’s the scoop, from their Facebook page:

NCBI Respect Club students designate April 12 as Missoula’s 1st Annual Diversity Day! Join us at Caras Park April 12 at 6pm to celebrate and bring awareness to Missoula’s unique and diverse community. Rally will feature youth and community speakers & Mayor John Engen will make an official proclamation. Join our parade to the City Council Chambers where our city officials will be voting on the non-discrimination ordinance. One 7th grader from Meadow Hill said: “I want a diversity day because being different is important. Diversity Day could help bring our community together, and we all need to be recognized.” The students hope that the Diversity Day celebration will be a new Missoula tradition that will continue for years to come.

by JC

Pretty simple, really.
free market internet(Click on the image to see a blowup and read the fine print.)

What this list doesn’t show you would be what your ISP prevents you from seeing, or restricts access to viewing, or slows down the data for, or filters out due to bogus copyright claims. You know, all the things that China does to its internet, corporations would be allowed to do to ours.

by jhwygirl

My reading time has been limited lately, but I’ve not seen much about the federal appeals court ruling Tuesday that stopped the FCC from regulating or overseeing broadband internet.

PBS has a YouTube posted:

Obama has maintained that the internet should be ensured its neutrality. The FCC was working on regulation. This now places the task in legislator’s hands. The ruling wasn’t all that bad – it said our laws have not kept pace with technology – and broadband has yet to be addressed.

People of all persuasions – liberals and conservatives, progressives, libertarians, gays, lesbians, catch-and-release only, even Rehberg fans – all should have an interest in keeping the internet free from corporate control over what information you can and can’t access.

Wired breaks it down to some of the many situations that can occur.

by jhwygirl

Haven’t met Willis Curdy yet? Curdy came late to the HD100 race in 2008….and this time around, given his hard work last time, along with his very impressive resume, he’s clearly the winning candidate. We liked Curdy before, we like him even more now.

Curdy is a 4th generation Montana, small business owner, retired high school teach and retired smokejumper Willis has years of experience dealing with it takes to make Montana a strong state. His plans include working on Protecting Access to Public Lands,creating good paying jobs with benefits, assuring there is quality education at all levels, and supporting community organizations.

You can meet Willis Curdy at a fundraising reception for Willis Curdy at the MEA-MFT office, 1001 Southwest Higgins Ave, on Thursday, April 8th from 5:30 to 7:30pm. For more information, contact wcurdy@bridgemail.com.

If your unable to attend, but would like to support Willis in this important legislative race, please donate online or by sending a check to “Willis Curdy for HD100” 11280 Kona Ranch Road, Missoula, MT 59804.

Help Me Understand

by jhwygirl

How does allowing discrimination against a particular group of individuals help their freedom? How does it impinge yours?

What kind of religion actually promotes hate? Isn’t God and religion about love? How does a government and its citizens standing up against discrimination discriminate upon someone’s religion?:

One more – What I want to know is how does taking away someone’s freedom take away this person’s civil rights? Exactly what civil rights will this person lose by seeing that another gains theirs? Because I didn’t realize that we had a civil right to discriminate….although as I understand it, that question has indeed been asked by a councilperson who opposes the ordinance.

No, councilperson, you do not have a right to discriminate against another person…..

I ask these questions open and honestly. Maybe an opponent that holds some of these beliefs might take the time, in writing where then can fully articulate their point, answer those questions?

It seems that there is a whole lot of focus in these pictures on freedom, and I do honestly find that perplexing. How does someone else living freely hurt your freedom? Any clarity that an opponent can offer would be much appreciated.




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