Archive for April 19th, 2011

by jhwygirl

Proponents of HB198, the 62nd Legislature’s eminent domain bill, repeatedly admitted during debate on the Senate floor this afternoon (after a successful morning “blast” of the bill to get it to 2nd reading) that this bill was written and moved through the legislature to solve one issue, and one issue only – the Montana-Alberta Tie Line’s failure to negotiate in good faith with property owners along the line.

Not one proponent suggested that the bill was written to protect Montana citizens.

There was discussion about jobs – the 70 or so jobs (as put forth in the information provided by Tonbridge to the U.S. State Department and the State of Montana) as justification for handing over private property takings rights to private entities.

So now “jobs” is a sufficient public interest. Jobs. Economic development – all key words being lobbed around like crack candy on the floor today. Wasn’t that the case in Kelo v. City of New London?

At least one proponent of the bill tried to argue that Kelo wasn’t even related, but clearly he hadn’t read the case.

Amendments were offered and proponents argued that there wasn’t enough time to get ‘er done because they would have to go back to the House and so the bill needed to be passed as it was written.

One Democrat Senator said he knew the bill was bad and while there wasn’t time to fix it, he was going to vote for the bill because he was counting on Governor Schweitzer to fix it with amendatory vetoes.

These are your private property rights we’re talking about here, Montana! Hell be damned with them, I guess!

Debate was long, impassioned and respectful. It was – as gubernatorial candidate Senator Wanzenried pointed out – an excellent and fine example of good honest debate on a bill that had strong supporters from both sides of the aisle debating both sides of the issue.

An interesting example of that was proponent Sen. Wittich (R-Bozeman) who questioned Senate President Jim Peterson (R-Buffalo) for passing out what he identified as a “Fact Sheet” on HB198….a fact sheet that was prepared by a Tonbridge/MATL attorney.

A “fact” Peterson tried to deflect.

~~~~~~
A disappointing 28 – 22 vote puts HB198 to third reading tomorrow at 8 a.m.

I hope you have read previous postings here on HB198 – and if not, clicking through the links provided here will get you to most of it. If you’ve done that, you know that this is a dangerous bill – a lazy bill thrown together with little real analysis of the situation and written to resolve a big business issue (that arose out of Canada, in fact) instead of being written to address and protect private property interests.

In Texas they’re strengthening private property rights and here in Montana they’re giving them away to private companies out of Canada.

Please take the time to CONTACT A SENATOR or two or five…..in fact, I’d focus on any one of the 28 that voted in favor of HB198.

Of note, Senator Kendall Van Dyk switched his vote – switiching not only his committee vote to table this behemoth, but switching his vote of NO to blasting this thing into second reading.

Some other disappointments (on both sides of the aisle)?
Senator Mary Cafferro, normally someone whose vote I’ve never questioned.

Senator Brad Hamlett and Senator Bob Hawks both who – also – switched their vote from NO on the blast to YES for this ugly.

Senator Verdell Jackson? Isn’t he supposed to be conservative?

Same with Ravalli County Senators Bob Lake and Jim Schockley – Schockley notably a lawyer and one who, too, admitted that this bill was bad as written but there “wasn’t enough time to fix it.”

Tomorrow’s Senate floor session begins at 8 a.m. Take the time tonight to email these Senators….and if you are reading this in the morning, phone lines open up at 7:30..and often they start late because of caucus, so DO give a call at 406-444-4800 and leave a message for up to 5 senators telling them NO WAY on HB198.

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by jhwygirl

This is a press release from the Northern Plains Resource Council and the Northern Plains Pipeline Landowners Group regarding today’s Senate 2nd reading vote on HB198, the 62nd Legislature’s eminent domain bill.

Northern Plains Resource Council, a grassroots conservation and family agriculture group since 1972, strongly condemned actions by the Montana State Senate on Tuesday to pass HB 198, the session’s eminent domain reform bill, on a second reading floor vote. A majority of Democrats joined with Republicans to vote in favor of the bill. The bill had previously been stalled in committee on a 6-6 vote until it was blasted onto the Senate floor this morning on a 26-23 vote.

Northern Plains members, many of whom are landowners facing condemnation themselves, have fought HB 198 for most of the session. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ken Peterson (R-Billings), would clarify a public utility’s right to condemn private land for corporate use. Buried in the bill is a retroactivity clause that will set a dangerous precedent for landowners in Montana. Northern Plains calls this bill what it is – a corporate bailout.

“The members of the Montana Senate who voted in favor of this bill had a chance to stand up for landowners and the interests of rural Montana today; instead, they caved to the bottom line of one corporation, granting them the biggest corporate bailout of the session,” said Darrell Garoutte, Chair of the Northern Plains Pipeline Landowners Group. This group of landowners crossed by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline in eastern Montana has organized to negotiate with TransCanada an equitable contract which protects landowners and public safety.

“This bill is about one corporation, Tonbridge Power Inc., that treated landowners dishonestly, lost in district court, and, rather than going through the appellate court system like any other citizen of this state, came to the legislature with its hands wide open threatening legislators with alarmist claims and rhetoric. It certainly sets a dangerous precedent for landowners moving forward, and folks in rural Montana will remember this vote.”

HB 198 arose out of a district court decision issued in December in Glacier County where Tonbridge Power of Toronto is building the 214-mile Montana Alberta Tie Line. The judge halted construction of the power line, ruling that the project did not meet the public need test and therefore did not have the power of eminent domain. HB 198 effectively reverses the decision and puts the landowners in the project’s path in the crosshairs. Parties in the case filed arguments with the Montana Supreme Court last week, promising that a decision will be reached soon by the state’s highest court.

“We in the agricultural sector take this as a personal affront to our ability to do business in Montana, and the economic hardship of stealing our land. If you take something from me and give it to somebody else, it is stealing. This will put us in a position where we cannot deal fairly with anyone trying to use eminent domain. We are simply asking for respect and fairness. This bill sets a grave precedent for those of us that make a living on the land in this state,” said Garoutte.

By JC

“If you want to be a malleable politician, you campaign from the center. But if you want to be a leader, you define the center. You don’t rely on polls to tell you where to go. At best, polls tell you where people are, and it’s pointless to lead people where they already are. The essence of political leadership is focusing the public’s attention on the hard issues that most would rather avoid or dismiss.” — Robert Reich, Reason

With those words firmly planted in mind, I’m going to relate a story of how Jon Tester’s candidacy for the Senate was given a huge boost by a contingent of Montanans throwing their weight behind his candidacy in the 2006 primary against John Morrison and others.

And we start the story with a poll: John Morrison +1%.

That was the number that was staring at Democrats a few weeks before the June 6th, 2006 Democrat primary for Senate in Montana. Coupled with that number were other polls that showed Morrison at a serious disadvantage compared to Jon Tester in a one-to-one matchup against 3-time incumbent Republican Senator Conrad Burns.

Sitting back in the pack of Democrats running in the primary was Paul Richards, polling at about 2%. While 2% isn’t much, during the general election, almost 200,000 votes were cast Democrat. So around 4,000 people could have been said to support Paul. Not a large number, and not a particularly big political base from which to attempt to influence the statewide race. Or so it seems.

But let’s consider for a moment whom those 4,000 people may have been.
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The Obama Doctrine

by lizard

There have been two contrasting opinion pieces written in the last week about the “humanitarian intervention” in Libya that everyone should read. The first, penned by the triumvirate of Obama, Sarkozy, and Cameron, was put out on April 14th by the NYT. Its Orwellian title: Libya’s Pathway to Peace.

As far as propaganda goes, it hits all the right notes, like this:

We must never forget the reasons why the international community was obliged to act in the first place. As Libya descended into chaos with Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi attacking his own people, the Arab League called for action. The Libyan opposition called for help. And the people of Libya looked to the world in their hour of need. In an historic resolution, the United Nations Security Council authorized all necessary measures to protect the people of Libya from the attacks upon them. By responding immediately, our countries, together with an international coalition, halted the advance of Qaddafi’s forces and prevented the bloodbath that he had promised to inflict upon the citizens of the besieged city of Benghazi.

Tens of thousands of lives have been protected. But the people of Libya are still suffering terrible horrors at Qaddafi’s hands each and every day. His rockets and shells rained down on defenseless civilians in Ajdabiya. The city of Misurata is enduring a medieval siege, as Qaddafi tries to strangle its population into submission. The evidence of disappearances and abuses grows daily.

Our duty and our mandate under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 is to protect civilians, and we are doing that. It is not to remove Qaddafi by force. But it is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Qaddafi in power. The International Criminal Court is rightly investigating the crimes committed against civilians and the grievous violations of international law. It is unthinkable that someone who has tried to massacre his own people can play a part in their future government. The brave citizens of those towns that have held out against forces that have been mercilessly targeting them would face a fearful vengeance if the world accepted such an arrangement. It would be an unconscionable betrayal.

I must admit I don’t know how to approach the absolute vacuous moral reasoning of this “protecting civilians” bullshit when so much civilian suffering is deemed passable by omission. Like, oh, you know, the use of white phosphorous against Palestinians during Cast Lead? Meh. But the horrors America stopped with its (expensive) military power, yeah, tens of thousands of people were saved from a door by door slaughter by the monster Gaddafi (who once got screwed, apparently, by Trump).

Were they saved? Impossible to say now that the deed of intervening has been done. But there are doubts.

Obama insisted that prospects were grim without intervention. “If we waited one more day, Benghazi … could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.’’ Thus, the president concluded, “preventing genocide’’ justified US military action.

But intervention did not prevent genocide, because no such bloodbath was in the offing. To the contrary, by emboldening rebellion, US interference has prolonged Libya’s civil war and the resultant suffering of innocents.

The best evidence that Khadafy did not plan genocide in Benghazi is that he did not perpetrate it in the other cities he had recaptured either fully or partially — including Zawiya, Misurata, and Ajdabiya, which together have a population greater than Benghazi.

Regardless, a military intervention that of course is not about regime change, BUT… is now prolonging a military conflict that these armed rebels can’t win by themselves. Part of that is because Kaddafi is not without support. Worse, the rebels refused to even try diplomacy. And the CIA on the ground obviously wear sneakers because Obama said no boots. This german blogger is skeptical, and backs it up (scroll up for the post).

Finally, it might be good to listen to what others say about what this war humanitarian intervention is suppose to accomplish. Though some may think he’s jumped on the kook train, Paul Craig Roberts continues talking though marginalized from his once lofty positions. This conversation with him is worth reading.

And this is where my taxes are going while both parties fight over which pieces of the safety net to cut away next.




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