Archive for January 19th, 2012

by jhwygirl

It’s more than a bit shocking – regardless of your political persuasion, I’d like to think – when a state senator and a congressional primary candidate champions the short-term economic boom to the shops in downtown Billings that occurred when Exxon spilled crude from its pipeline into the Yellowstone River this past July.

That’s the kind of thing you’d expect our current Representative Denny Rehberg might say, given his love for oil & gas industry money – Representative Rehberg ranks 14th in receipts of oil & gas industry money of all recipients there in Washington.

Instead, it was state senator Kim Gillan (D-Billings) who made the remark at a forum for several of the candidates held by The Policy Institute this past weekend. I have tremendous respect for The Policy Institute. They’ve provided excellent policy testimony – especially on budget issues – to legislative committees. Frankly, it’s a bit surprising that Gillan would say such a thing given the audience.

During a Q&A moderated by former Representative Pat Williams, candidates were asked about the Keystone XL pipeline by TransCanada – whether they thought the pipeline was good or bad (or both) for the economy. Gillan was up first with her answer – and I wish I had some video or audio, but alas, audio and video were not permitted – and she said that “there are people in Billings that think the oil spill was a good thing, that it was good for business. They are looking at their watches and asking can we do this again next year?”

The room fell quite with shock. First murmurs…then low boos. What. Was. She. Thinking?

One also has to wonder the company she keeps. Where – even if she was attempting a joke – something like that were considered funny.

Somewhere along the line I read that Montana has the most EPA cleanup sites. The Milltown Dam to Anaconda cleanup is the largest cleanup site of all. Helena (her district) has a big old cleanup site they’re trying to figure out what to do with right now, doesn’t it?

I’m guessing Gillan thinks all that is good economic development too.

Her remarks have been bugging me since I heard about them – I’ve often pondered if there wasn’t a certain attitude in the legislature with regards to mining/oil/gas development that was a lot of “let it roll” combined with “it’ll be a big cleanup site in the future.” Her remarks lead me to believe that I just may not be completely cynical…that there’s actually some truth to what should be pure fiction.

Gillan ranks first in the Democratic field for pulling in cash ($124,145 this last Q), followed by Franke Wilmer ($107,117) and Dave Strohmaier ($49,078). By comparison, Republican Steve Daine’s collected $546,327.

Yeah. Over a half a million buckaroos, Montana.

~~~~~~~

Gillan’s out for me with this kind of news. At least this cleared up any lingering doubts I had about being open to persuasion.

Dave Strohmaier, for his part, has done quite well, picking up a number of endorsements. Strohmaier’s also been hard working and well received around the state. At this weekend forum he got glowing reviews. His answer to the Keystone XL question called for more thorough economic and environmental studies – and he questioned the moving target on the number of long-term jobs it would create.

Franke Wilmer is a strong candidate, having served 3 legislative sessions in the House, representing moderate Bozeman. She’s a scrapper, too – just read her biography).

On Keystone XL, Wilmer pointed out that if “you take the jobs out of the pipeline, no one likes the pipeline.” She went on to point out this is the reason we need to strengthen our unions. “If we had a stronger unions to negotiate for clean jobs,” said Wilmer, “this wouldn’t even be an issue.”

Thank Goddess these two got it right.

Hello Winter!

by lizard

This winter storm is phenomenal, and not just because of its humbling disruption to our daily routines. Extreme weather like this does something to a community, something encouraging. And because I’m a writer, I wrote something about it.

Stay safe, Missoula!

*

when snow won’t stop falling
when the world becomes whiteout
and the landscape, fused by fluff—
the town shuts down
and people do what they can for each other

by jhwygirl

Dave Gallik’s resignation as Commissioner of Political Practices was quick and fast – Great Falls Tribune reporter John S. Adams continues the scandal story this morning with news of events at the Capitol yesterday, which include Gallik repeatedly stating that the staff had called the police on him, despite that apparently not being true.

I have to say, to me, it almost comes off as him making light of the situation as he walked off to the Governor’s Mansion to discuss his resignation.

What is disturbing in Adams’ story is not the soap-opera scene (which the public seems to need as blame is apparently cast on vengeful women), but the apparent lack of any oversight on the Commissioner of Political Practices. Or the lack of anyone willing to step up. Adams goes through the three offices that the office staff apparently reported their allegations to:

Two staff members from the commissioner’s office told the Tribune they raised detailed concerns about Gallik’s behavior with Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s office and the Legislative Audit Division. They said they also reached out to Attorney General Steve Bullock’s office, but were told by an attorney who works on political practices complaints that the matter did not fall within the attorney general’s jurisdiction.

So they went to the three most logical choices and all three failed to address the situation? And right now the State Administration and Veterans Affairs Interim Committee is trying to determine who has the authority to oversee the office?

Don’t you think Montana should of had these things figured out? There’s so much to say about what is wrong with what Adams’ lays out in his article, I don’t know where to begin. Luckily, I’m tired as it’s been a long day and tomorrow’s another. I do love winter.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the soap opera scene of this situation. It’s also pretty childish to immediately start a defense by making accusations of political motivations against Adams. Given his history for accuracy, quite frankly, it be best for most of the parties involved that this die a quick death.

It’s a sad state of affairs when rather than address the issues of oversight of the chief political oversight office in this state, we’re more concerned with the motivations behind the whistleblowers who attempted to seek compliance with what is – afterall – state law.

When accusations are thrown against a reporter when none of the facts have been called into question.

And guess what? With some oversight of the office, Dave Gallik might have still been in office today. Had any one of the three offices that the office staff contacted with their allegations had then contacted Gallik and reminded him of state policies, he might have taken a different path.

One nagging question I have? Was Gallik told that he could do his private practice and rental property work from his state office? I’m guessing SAVA will eventually figure that out?

~~~~~~~

A number of people around the Montana blogosphere have also written this story up. Don Pogreba has a couple of posts now (I actually missed his first post), and here is Don’s piece on Gallik’s resignation.

James Conner – who, really, all of you should be reading – has two posts up, one on Improving Montana’s commission on political practices and another The Political Practices mess.

Jack the Blogger also kicks in with his analysis of the mess of the office, first having called on Gallik to resign, and today with his assessment of the ineffective mess that is the Office Of Political Practices.

ALSO, Gregg Smith over at Electric City Weblog had this analysis of the situation and how it correlates with past allegations by the GOP. He also has a quick take on the resignation that undoubtedly has some truth to it, even though he admits it to being entirely speculatory.

Finally, Montana Watchdog, a conservative newsource for state politics, has a few posts also. Here’s Phil Drake’s piece on Gallik’s resignation.




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