Archive for the ‘Bill Nooney’ Category

by Pete Talbot

Filing deadline isn’t until March 15 at 5 p.m. but there are already some interesting developments in Missoula area races.

First, a little flip-flop. Democratic Rep. Teresa Henry has filed for termed-out Democratic Sen. Carolyn Squires’ seat (SD 48). And Ms. Squires has filed for Ms. Henry’s house seat (HD 96). Teresa still had two years before she was termed out in her old house seat, so this is an unusual move. Adding to the mix is veteran Democratic legislator Tom Facey, who’s challenging Ms. Henry in the primary. No Republican has filed for SD 48 yet.

The only other senate seat up for grabs out of five in the Missoula area is SD 49. The incumbent Democrat, Sen. Dave Wanzenried, hasn’t filed, nor have any challengers.

Since they ran in 2008, SD 46’s Carol Williams, SD 47’s Ron Erickson and SD 50’s Cliff Larson — all Democrats — get a pass.

The Missoula area has ten Montana House districts, nine-out-of-ten are held by Democrats and they’re all on the 2010 ballot.

Democratic incumbent Tim Furey is the only one to file in HD 91. Same with Democratic incumbents Dick Barrett (HD 93), Diane Sands (HD 95), Michele Reinhart (HD 97) and Betsy Hands (HD 99).

There are some new faces on the landscape. Robin Hamilton, the incumbent in my district (HD 92) chose not to run again. Community organizer Bryce Bennett has filed and is actively campaigning. Another Democrat, Dean McGovern, head of UM’s Campus Compact, was vigorously exploring a run at this house seat earlier, but he hasn’t filed and I haven’t heard much from him lately. He does have a website up, though.

Then there’s Ellie Hill, a name synonymous with the Poverello Center and many other nonprofits. She’s the sole entry, and running as a Democrat, in HD 94. That’s Dave McAlpin’s old seat but he’s now the head of the state crime lab here in Missoula and he probably won’t get time off to run, or serve.

I’ve already mentioned Carolyn Squires in HD 96.

The only Republican to file in the Missoula area is Michael Sopuch in HD 98. This is incumbent Sue Malek’s seat but she hasn’t filed, yet. I couldn’t find a website for Sopuch. Indeed, the only reference I could find was testimony given by a Michael Sopuch of Cash King LTD, a title loan company. This was before the Montana Department of Administration about title loan company practices.

Finally, there’s HD 100. Democrat Willis Curdy has filed. He ran last time and lost to Incumbent Republican Bill Nooney by 79 votes. Nooney has yet to file but as Nooney’s arch-nemesis Bill Vaughn points out, Nooney has a lot on his plate these days (you’ll have to scroll down to the red sub-head that reads “Falling Down”).

By the way, here’s a map to show where these districts are. The primary election will be held Tuesday, June 8.

(I’m working on candidate website links.  Most are under construction or old, if I could find them at all.  Please contact me so I can update this and future posts with current website info.  Thanks.)

by jhwygirl

Alternate title: How Dangerous is the Montana GOP? Answer: Very

I don’t know how much people have heard or read about Wednesday’s vote on HR3 (I ever-so-briefly mentioned it here), but as a result of the party-line 50-50 vote, Democrats are receiving nasty emails and death threats for their “no” vote.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Michael More, of Gallatin Gateway. HB3 was a reintroduced version of HJ26 which failed in committee and a blast motion on to the floor.

HB3 was presented at a “state’s rights” bill, but had overtones of secession and asserted that Montana was not subjected to the United States Constitution. James Conner, of Flathead Memo has a great piece up, history lesson and all, titled Will Montana fire on Fort Sumter? that should not be missed.

He also took the initiative to find out who the “horsetrading Democrat” was that let this thing ooze out of committee for the House floor vote: Great Falls’ Rep. Deb Kottel, which, sadly, is of little surprise.

Another great piece on the HB3 bill and subsequent vote is the UM School of Journalism’s The Session ’09 piece, titled Montana ‘state’s rights’ resolution fails on tied vote. That post includes some great background information and links to the out-of-state organizations supporting similar types of legislation elsewhere in the United States.

More is unapologetic about the “right-wing extremism” nature of the bills. From Molly Priddy’s piece:

“This is a debate that has been a long time coming,” More said. The resolution may be labeled as “right wing extremism,” but it really deals with states’ rights versus federal laws, he said, adding that secession is not the goal, but neither is it out of the question.

Priddy get’s even better from Laurel’s Rep. Krayton Kerns:

Rep. Krayton Kerns, R-Laurel, said though the resolution does not imply that Montana will secede from the union, there is always the possibility.

“(Secession) is the big stick in the room that we have to occasionally display,” Kerns said. “This resolution is a shot over the bow.”

Krayton Kerns sure does love waving the saber, doesn’t he?


This is your Montana GOP, folks. Make no mistake – not one Republican broke ranks on this bill (including Missoula’s HD-100 Rep. Bill Nooney). Even now, not even one senate Republican has spoken out against this dangerous nonsense.

Nor has Montana’s representation in Washington, Rep. Denny Rehberg.

The death threats? Two days of them, now, and still {crickets} from the Republicans.

Even conservative bloggers have been silent.

This is dangerous stuff, and had this bill made it into the Senate (and I guess we should be thankful to Kottel for her “no” vote on the floor, right?), there is no telling what might of happen.

This type of persistent – remember, this bill was attempted twice, in two versions – unabashed and unapologetic “right-wing extremism” should not be welcomed. It should be drawn out, exposed, talked about and openly condemned.

Not just by Democrats, but by Republicans too.

by jhwygirl

Will the legislature meet its constitutionally imposed 90 day deadline to get the budget done? Today’s Missoulian story on that subject is basically a rehashed story a’la 2007 – no fault of their own…I think we expect the legislators in Helena to kick things into a second session.

Now, rumors have been circulating the halls of the Capitol for just over two weeks now – that the legislature was going to break early to allow the fires that have started some time to cool down so that all that crazy talk can rest and some common sense can overtake like that of the cooperative nature we saw in the beginning days of the session.

But, alas, it’s kind of hard to quell crazy talk when the Governor is threatening to call a special session. It’s unnecessary, no? I mean, if they don’t get the budget done – and they know they have to do it – it’s not a secret or anything – then they come back for a special session..but saying “I don’t have a problem calling a special session,” just seems, well…showboating, no?

Then the Good Gov has to throw into that “threat” that he’ll “pick the hottest five days in June.The temperature inside will be about 90 degrees. That will speed things along.”

He added that he’d cut off the air conditioning as a energy-saving matter.

Wow…Now there’s incentive for these guys and gals, huh?!

5 days in June when the rest of Montana is out enjoying the sun and the mountains and the rivers? Just the environment for hashing out the most important piece of work that they have to get done.

Hell, I bet some of them are absolutely fine with the proposition.


HB2 is in committee hearing today at 10 a.m. This is where Healthy Montana Kids will be discussed, and it is expected that both House and Senate Democrats will hold the line and insist on full funding as approved by the voters.

I stand in support with House and Senate Democrats- threat of a second session or not. Let your legislative representation know, whether they be Republican or Democrat Call the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800.

While your at it, Missoulians might want to leave a special message solely for Bill Nooney. As I mentioned in this previous post, Nooney might want to reconsider his vote against fully-funding Healthy Montana Kids, given the numbers. He won his election with a squeak of a margin, while I-155 (the bill that created Healthy Montana Kids) won Montana with a 76.6% majority.

You were elected to represent your entire district Nooney, and not your gravel-pit industry lovin’ you-know-what.

by jhwygirl

HB2, the general appropriations bill, is back on the House floor for vote Thursday.

Will the evenly split House concur the amendments added in the Senate – including the cutting of CHIP by 15,000 kids?

House Democrats, headed up by Speaker Bob Bergren of Havre, have promised to reject the amendments, so tomorrow’s vote could take quite a while.

Apparently, according to Montana Republicans up there in Helena, we voters don’t know what we approved.

Missoula’s Representative Bill Nooney might want to reconsider his previous “No” vote on this matter back earlier in the session when he called the funding of children’s health care “socialized medicine”. Because while Missoula County voters approved I-155 overwhelmingly – with 76.6% majority, Nooney only won his election with 53% of the vote.

Why would Nooney ignore those numbers? Will he ignore those numbers…because the numbers, after all, are really voters.

My suggestion, people – give Rep. Bill Nooney a call or shoot him an email and let him know that Missoulian’s voted for CHIP – it’s his job to make sure it is funded like we voted it. Do it now. Tonight. First thing in the morning. During your lunch.

House floor hearing starts at 1 p.m., Thursday.

Nooney’s phone number and email are listed here on his state legislative webpage.

by jhwygirl

What tangled web 4&20 weaves…..

First Pronghorn reminds us of Rep. Bill Nooney’s house bill proposing a state love song.

Then, in another post, klemz provides us with a link to the song that Nooney has proposed for the state love song.

Now, it’s a lovely song….

There’s a place out in the Rockies,
Where the sky just never ends.
I’d like to call it heaven,
And the people there my friends.
You can watch the treetops there touch the sky
As the tamaracks there stand tall.



Really? Tamaracks in Montana?

Western larch, yes, but tamaracks, no.

I mean – it sounds nice and it flows with the song, but I’d say that’s a big “oopsey” for a state song, woudn’t you say?

Rep. Bill Nooney, of Missoula has proposed HB184 which would give the state an official love song.

It is scheduled for next Tuesday, January 20th, in the House’s State Administration committee. Sheri Heffelfinger is the staffer – you can email her your public comments on Rep. Nooney’s proposal at

by jhwygirl

How the kids had the time to track everyone down and write so much great coverage is such a short amount of time, I’ll never know. I couldn’t even get out of bed on Wednesday until well after noon.

Missoula’s Choice 2008 has 3 pages of coverage of post-election day coverage that’s pretty darn good.

Not a reflection of the writing, but I sure hope they have to retract this one.

by Pete Talbot

Dear President-elect Obama,

I’m sorry we couldn’t deliver our three electoral votes to you. You worked hard for them. You visited the state and talked western policy. You set up offices and hired staff and had the best ground game I’ve ever seen. John McCain never set foot in Montana.

You came close — only 12,136 votes separated you from McCain. And compared to the 20-point win that George W. Bush had here four years ago, what you did was miraculous.

I’m still scratching my head, though. In almost every other statewide category, Montana went blue: senator, governor and all four tier b’s (unseating the sole Republican incumbent with a new secretary of state). And two-out-of-three newly-elected PSC commissioners are Democrats.

Another confusing example is Gallatin County. I hoped for better numbers from there. It did, after all, almost go for Sen. Tester in 2006 (Burns won by less than 200 votes). But this year, Obama goes down by over 1400. Perhaps Barack should work on a flattop haircut for 2012. Even Gallatin County voted for you, by a 1609 vote margin.

I don’t believe race was a factor. I think most Montanans who voted for McCain did so because of issues like taxes or defense or the “experience” card or some ingrained conservative Christian belief.

And guns played a role. Even though you came to Montana and assured us you wouldn’t take away our guns, ugly rumors persisted. Next time through, make sure to get that ubiquitous firearm photo op.

We wish you well, Mr. President, and may you bring people together to help solve the numerous problems facing our country. Godspeed.

An unpleasant aside

After saying race wasn’t a factor, well, you still run into this: On my way to Bozeman on election day, I stopped by the Cardwell Store, there between Whitehall and Three Forks, for a cup of coffee and a Slim Jim. Two good-old-boys were at the counter and one said, “I better go vote.” To which the other said, “Yeah, I’d hate to see this election get nigger-rigged.”

I’m not even sure what he meant but I left my merchandise on the counter and walked out. Came up with some really choice things I should have said about five miles down the road.

Now I’m sure that everyone in Cardwell isn’t an ignorant racist pig but I won’t be stopping by again, ever, to find out.

It’s a sad anecdote, but there’s one good thing about it; the guy was old and will soon be dead.

I love Missoula

On a more upbeat note: Missoula delivers. One or two flies in the ointment: that HD-100 race where Willis Curdy is losing by a measly 33 votes to Republican incumbent Bill Nooney (provisional votes still being counted, final results Monday). But that’s democracy; you can choose the anti-education, anti-senior, anti-young person, anti-environment candidate if you want.

Same with SD-7, which has a little bit of Missoula County in it and where veteran lawmaker Paul Clark lost to anti-government zealot Greg Hinkle.

Otherwise it was a sweep: Gutsche over Mood for the PSC, the improbable county commissioner outcome, nine-out-of-ten state reps, and two state senators.

The Emergency Operations Center Bond going down wasn’t really a surprise. With property taxes in the mail and it being a slow economy and all, folks are tightening their belts. In better times, I think it would have passed. It also wasn’t one of the strongest campaigns I’ve seen run in this town.

Ravalli County blues

Is it too harsh to recommend a toll booth at the Ravalli/Missoula County line? Those Bitterrooters should pay extra to come and visit an eclectic town that values education and planning. Maybe we could funnel the toll revenue into preserving Ravalli County open space, while there’s still some left.

I know that there are progressives in Ravalli County but time-and-time again their issues and candidates get hammered.

Both West Fork Blues and Rebecca have excellent comments on the results in the Bitterroot.

Statewide conundrum

Despite Democratic wins in most of the big-ticket races, the Montana House is tied and the senate losses seats (R’s 27-D’s 23). Throw in a Democratic governor and I smell gridlock. But maybe not, lots of talk from candidates of all stripes wanting to “reach across the aisle.” We’ll see.

I, like Jay and others, have to wonder about this split ticket voting. How can our Democratic governor win by an almost two-to-one margin and still have the Montana Senate lose its Democratic majority? Did the Republican Party focus on legislative races because it knew most of the others were hopeless? Any insights?

We’re a two party country

Third parties didn’t fare well. Libertarian Don Eisenmenger received about 7 percent in the OPI race, which I believe was the party’s best showing. Presidential candidate Bob Barr got 0.3 percent. In the U.S. House race, perennial candidate Mike Fellows got 3 percent, and Stan Jones got 2 percent in the governor’s race.

For Constitution Party candidates, Ron Paul got slightly over 2 percent in the presidential race. That party’s best showing was in Missoula County with Kandi Matthew-Jenkins getting a little better than one-third of the votes against Cliff Larson in SD 50 (there was no Republican in that contest). And in the SOS race, Sieglinde Sharbono received around 3.5 percent.

Nadar’s Independent ticket garnered slightly less than 1 percent.

And finally

Who ever thought we’d have a president with a name like Barack Obama? It pales in comparison, though, to the candidate from HD-15 — my favorite name on the ballot — Frosty Boss Calf Ribs. I’ve met some of the Boss Calf Ribs clan up in the Browning area but don’t know Frosty, who was unopposed. Kind of makes our Anglo names like John Smith and Jane Doe seem rather lame. Congratulations, Frosty.

by jhwygirl

Provisional ballots in HD-100’s race – Bill Nooney v Democrat Willis Curdy could bring the final count in that race (currently 2195 Nooney – 2162 Curdy) into Curdy’s favor. 868 provisional ballots, to be counted on Monday, may hold those votes.

In Laurel, HD-59 “Doc” Woerner is down by 22 votes to Krayton Kerns (Republican). The less-than-1%-spread there means a recount is likely. A bit of trivia here – which you will get out of that link – is that Kerns took his seat only after a recount in 2006.

by Pete Talbot

Contributors at 4&20, and a few other Montana political blogs, try to maintain some semblance of objectivity — either in the posts themselves or in the comments section. I believe allowing the opposition the opportunity to weigh in goes a long way toward site legitimacy and civil discourse. Otherwise, blogs are just personal rants.

The occasional personal rant, on the other hand, can be quite informative.

Some would call Bill Vaughn’s attacks on Rep. Bill Nooney (R-HD 100) personal. So what? If my representative gave the sand-and-gravel industry the wherewithal to put a gravel pit next to my house, I might get a little personal, too. Check out Vaughn’s latest, entitled, “Denials and Delusions” with the subhead, “The website of Montana Representative Bill Nooney is a place where something besides the truth has beaten out everything else for control.” That sort of says it all. It’s vintage Vaughn and vintage Nooney.

(You might have to scroll down a bit on Vaughn’s site to get to the story. It’s below a fine piece on author James Crumley.)

Remember the name Willis Curdy out there in West Missoula when you step into the ballot booth on Nov. 4.


Others have waxed more poetically than I about the death of James Crumley. (Here’s his obit in the Missoulian, L.A. Times, and N.Y. Times.)

You can still see him down at Charlie B’s, amid the legendary photographs taken by Lee Nye, during Eddie’s Club heyday. That same photo graces the dust covers of Crumley’s first few novels.

In my youth, I fancied myself a writer and Crumley had great influence on my prose. I’d sit on the periphery while the writers and poets like Crumley, Hugo, Ganz and Kittredge would shoot the shit at Eddie’s or East Gate.

Later in life, I’d join Crumley for the occasional drink, etc. Ran into him at the Depot one time and I ordered us a couple of shots of Glenlivet, which I thought at the time was exceptional Scotch.

“Swill,” he said and then proceeded to buy many rounds of Lagavulin, Oban, Glenmorangie, and other single-malts. I don’t recall what we talked about.

I dated his stepdaughter, Mary, for awhile. She had a wild soul, like Jim, and soon tired of me. In those days, she was a stunning redhead.

He was a father, grandfather and great-grandfather. This mellowed him, somewhat, in his later years. He was a friend to the down-and-out and a mentor to the up-and-coming. He was a good Democrat, too.

Crumley captured the ethos of Montana and the West like few other writers. His writing lives on but his presence at the workshops, watering holes and soirees will be greatly missed.  Condolences to Martha, Mary and the rest of the Crumley clan.

by Pete Talbot

Gov. Schweitzer: crazy like a fox?

At first I was shocked to see the Good Gov telling the NRA-loving gun crowd to vote for Libertarian Bob Barr in the presidential election. Has Schweitzer lost his marbles? But strategically, I guess it makes sense. If one assumes that the folks who make gun rights their number one issue would probably vote for McCain over Obama, then pushing those voters into the Barr camp is a shrewd move.

It’s a bit of a gamble but the governor isn’t known as much of a gambler when it comes to electoral politics. He might even have a poll out there that indicates how gun fanatics are going to vote in November. So, I’m with the governor on this one: if nothing is more important to you than gun rights, and you’re leaning McCain, you should really vote for Barr.

Curdy to run against Nooney in House District 100

Bill Vaughn, Dark Acres author and perhaps incumbent Bill Nooney’s biggest detractor, has the story on last night’s Missoula Democratic Central Committee vote.

Vaughn doesn’t mince words when it comes to describing Nooney. Here’s an excerpt:

“Nooney has proudly accepted campaign cash from the Montana Contractor’s Association, the wood products industry and the petroleum industry, among many other corporate special interests. Owner of Missoula-based Hi Noon Petroleum, and a string of non-union quicky-marts, he voted against increasing the fuel efficiency of Montana ’s state-owned vehicles during an era of rising prices at the pump.”

And that’s the nice stuff. You’ll have to scroll down past the first piece at Vaughn’s site to find the whole post on Curdy and Nooney.

And over in House District 98

A couple of folks emailed to say that Holly Raser’s letter to the Missoulian about Republican candidate Will Deschamps was right on. They hoped that everyone had read it. Maybe I can help. It’s reprinted below the fold.

Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Gary Brown, Democratic primary winner of HD-100’s race has made the tough decision to withdraw his candidacy due to health concerns. He and his family are in our thoughts and prayers.

As Pete noted in his most recent post, the Missoula County Democrats Central Committee will be meeting next Tuesday, August 12th (7:00 p.m., City Council Chambers on Pine Street) to select the replacement to run against Bill Nooney. And frequent readers of this site know that we really would love to show Nooney the door – the exit door – from the state legislature.

Curdy’s got the backing of Missoula’s Senators Dave Wanzenried and Carol Williams, along with Representatives Tim Furey and Robin Hamilton. Fine, get-‘er-done Democrats. In their letter to Jim Dayton, Chair of the Missoula County Democrats, they noted that August 19th is the deadline to name a replacement, and announcing Brown’s replacement is important to maintain momentum.

I also liked this (my emphasis added):

As a long-time resident and property-owner in the district who campaigned vigorously during the just-concluded primary, Mr. Curdy knows the district and understands the commitment and resources required to win in November.

Yep, living in your district should be a requirement…shouldn’t it?

I like Curdy – not that I didn’t like Brown – but I liked Curdy because of his wide background: a 30-year high school teacher (who could endure that long?!), a Bitterroot Hotshot and a Missoula Smokejumper (talk about demonstrating both teamwork and leadership!), and (and!) a USFS pilot (stress management, anyone?). There’s more – trustee on both the Missoula Rural Fire District and the Big Flat Irrigation District (ever had to work with irrigators?)…..Lot’s of great qualities in there to help bring the legislature closer to getting done the huge amounts of work it needs to do.

And voters sure need to consider electing candidates that can work together and get stuff done. We certainly don’t need a repeat of 2007, and it is important to ensure a Democratic majority in the state’s House of Representatives.

Don’t believe me? The 2007 legislature was a disaster for the stuff that never even made it out of committee, due to the roadblocks thrown up by the state’s republicans. The list is significantly longer for stuff that didn’t make it out of committee than stuff that did. And then there’s be the party-line vote for the stuff that did…Yoy, what a disaster.

And in reality, it’s sad. Because, in the end, it’s the citizens that suffer.

I mean – stuff like bills to study a problem (example: public access from county bridges) couldn’t even make it. Then there’s the stuff associated with some of my favorite subjects: water quality, water rights, zoning and subdivision, fire protection.

I won’t rehash all the gory details: Go search the 2007 legislative bills and see for yourself.

a guestpost by Gary Brown

Gary’s graciously given us a guestpost ~~Jason Wiener

Democrats in HD 100 have two options in the primary. I, Gary Brown, bring progressive social policy and hard-headed conservation positions formed by decades of service to the state and nation, both in the armed forces and managing Montana’s bountiful natural resources–commitments demonstrated by endorsements of my candidacy from NARAL Pro-Choice Montana and Montana Conservation Voters.

I discovered Missoula while attending the University of Montana, Missoula, where I received a Bachelor of Science in Forestry in 1960 and completed Administrative Leadership Training. I also served four years in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. After 20 years as a forester for the state of Montana, Gary (Garth) Moon, State Land Commissioner, and Governor Ted Schwinden appointed me as Montana’s State Forester (Chief Executive Officer) in 1981.

The State Forester’s position was directly responsible for planning and directing the development, use, protection, and conservation of the State’s forest and non-forest watershed resources. Products and services were provided statewide, and received by forest industry, forest and range landowners, government agencies (federal, state and local), and a large segment of the general public. The primary mission of this State Forestry organization is to provide revenues to the educational Trust Funds of Montana in perpetuity.

I retired from public office in 1992 after 31 years as a forester for the State of Montana, 11 years as its State Forester. My other public service has included a stint as chair of the Montana Association of Churches (MAC) Commission on Church and Society and a two-year term on MAC’s board of directors. I was also president of the National Museum of Forest Service History for 14 years and still participate as a member of the board of directors and as its treasurer.

Observing the Montana House of Representatives during the 2007 session was frustrating. I pledge to do everything within my power to bring a spirit of civility and constructive bipartisan engagement to this campaign and the up-coming legislative session.

I will work to make our state a better place for our kids to grow up, for working parents to support their families, and for elders to age with dignity. I will advance the progressive spirit at the state level, where so many decisions are made that affect our neighborhoods. I can be an effective champion on such issues such as health care, quality education, livable communities, concern for the environment, and social justice.

But my particular passion lies with addressing the threat of global warming. Here in Montana, across the country and around the world, our focus should now be to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Montana must do its part.

The Constitution of the State of Montana guarantees inalienable rights. These rights include the right to a clean and healthy environment and the right to pursue life’s basic necessities. With your vote and your trust, I can protect these rights during the next two years.

by jhwygirl

I guess this would be an official endorsement, folks.

I think E. Willis Curdy is the best candidate to oust Bill Nooney (who doesn’t even live in HD-100) from his seat as representative for HD-100.

House District 100

Curdy is also the best person to bring some logic back to the state house, with his 30 years of experience as a high school teacher (talk about herding cats!). He’s been a Bitterroot Hotshot and a Missoula Smokejumper – both jobs that require strong leadership and teamwork to work successfully, and he’s also been a USFS pilot (6 years) – again, another example of working well with leadership and teams.

For flat-out political experience, Curdy has served as trustee for the Missoula Rural Fire District for 4 years and also as a trustee for Big Flat Irrigation District for 6 years.

Nooney has voted against K-12 school funding, while Curdy not only has a background in education, but he also has a strong platform of supporting K-12 education. Education is important, and investing in Montana’s kids – our future – is part of that picture.

Curdy believes in small government – in the ability of local governments to control its local issues. Nooney, on the other hand, would prefer to have Helena regulating gravel pits and other development issues that arise in your back yard. Tell me – which perspective is smaller government?

Maybe Nooney’s support of gravel pits and less local control is due to his love for real estate $ to help support his last election bid. I also notice he’s taken some $ from self-professed lobbyists and the Montana Petroleum Marketers Association. Check it out.

I guess if you’re going to outspend your opponent 3-1, like he did in 2006, you’re going to have to take cash from developers and lobbyists.

Here’s Curdy’s top priorities:

My first priority is to increase funding for our public schools and freeze postsecondary tuition for Montana residents for the next two years. I will work to strengthen the role of county governments to work with property owners to protect their property, property values, and their health and livelihoods when developers seek to locate gravel pits and cement and asphalt plant operations in residential areas. I will work to protect property owners against higher property taxes resulting from increased value of their property brought by reappraisal.

How, think about Nooney’s, which are to weaken K-12 and weaken local government through heavier state regulation. Nooney’s against higher taxes – I’m sure he’d tell you that – but consider that he’s more supportive of state regulation of development issues than having local governments do it and I think you’ll understand that Nooney is a hypocrite. Nooney voted against the state’s CHIP program and he’s voted against funding Montana Aging Services.

Nooney’s got to go. Missoula needs someone in the legislature that can work with people and get stuff done. Curdy has the resume to do just that.

Vote E. Willis Curdy in the June 3rd primary for HD-100.

~~footnote: The Missoulian has a piece overviewing both Democratic candidates for HD-100. Check it out.

by Bill Vaughn

Bill Vaughn is a contributing editor to Outside Magazine, and has written articles for a number of national publications including Men’s Journal, Ski, and Salon. He has graciously allowed me to repost some of his political thoughts, including those on Rep. Bill Nooney. Nooney, a Republican, represents the Grass Valley/Mullan Road area of Missoula, and is challenged by Democrats Willis Curdy and Gary Brown. He aptly titled these thoughts “Dump Nooney.” ~Thanks Bill.

The main reason I want Nooney thrown out of office is because he voted for HB557. This scheme, which the Missoula County Attorney’s Office called “pernicious,” would have stripped Montana’s County Commissioners of the power to regulate where gravel pits, asphalt plants and cement factories could be sited. Nooney was the only one of eight Missoula County representatives to vote for this cynical piece of corporate welfare.

HB555 was written by the Montana Contractor’s Association after Riverside Contracting, one of its corporate members, failed to coerce the Missoula County Commissioners into rezoning a parcel of land on the Trout Meadows Ranch downstream from the city—and next door to Dark Acres. Riverside yearned to build a massive industrial park there that would ruin our rural residential neighborhood with at least a decade of air and water pollution, noise, and massive dump trucks clogging narrow country lanes. The values of our properties would plummet.

This land belongs to a local grocer, attempted real estate developer, and failed GOP candidate for Missoula County Commissioner named Jim Edwards. But people in HD100 organized against Riverside and Edwards. A petition with more than 2,000 names was submitted to the Commissioners, who ruled in December, 2006 against the scheme.

Nooney knew full well what was at stake, and voted for the bill anyway. Of course, he’d taken campaign money from the Montana Contractor’s Association (and the Montana Petroleum Association, as well). Although HB557 passed the House by a narrow margin, it died a lingering death in a Senate committee dominated by Missoula lawmakers.

After the Legislature adjourned I sent Nooney this message: “What do have to say in your defense after voting for HB557 against the wishes of the majority of your constituents? Did you push the wrong button? Did you misunderstand the bill?”

Here was his reply: “You seem to be looking at the dark side of HB557. As I remember Edwards was not allowed to continue with his idea based on a county commissioner actions. Is that correct?”


In another email to me Nooney responded again to charges that he ignored the wishes of his constituents. “Let me ask you a few questions,” he wrote back. “Do you believe that government should grow bigger or be reduced? Do you believe in individual property rights as is stated in our constitution? Why do you think that Mr. Edwards did not get his deal done? Do you think that the fact that the bill was tabled stopped Mr. Edwards or was it some other factor? Do you think that this bill would have affected others in Montana and not just your situation? What is your definition [of] ‘reasonably condition’? What do you think this part of the bill means ‘as defined by the board of county commissioners?’”


Like lots of Republicans, Nooney is fond of pontificating about the venality of “big government.” But what he really means is that he wants to strip local governments of their minimal power over corporations so corporations can prey on people who have no one except their local governments to defend them. In the case of HB557 Nooney believes the property rights of big landowners and contracting firms are more important than the property rights of the neighbors such as Dark Acres, where everything we own is tied up in our house and our ten acres of land.

But not everyone thinks Nooney’s job performance sucks. He was awarded an A+ by Montana Family Action, a marginal organization of religious extremists based in Laurel, Montana, that refuses to reveal the size of its membership. Among the eight bills they supported, only one of which became law, was HB597, a measure to toughen obscenity laws (although unconstitutional, maybe it would have put the muzzle on Mike Lang). HB312, the so-called “Parental Bill of Rights” would have made parents, and not the state’s schools, responsible for the education of children. And HB403 would have coerced the government into “recognizing” that human life begins at conception. (Nooney and the religious right like to complain about the intervention of government into the private affairs of citizens, unless it’s telling women what to do with their bodies, or couples what to do in the bedroom.

So in the end what did Bill Nooney think about his freshman term in the Montana Legislature? “I lose money being here,” he wrote me. “Maybe you should try it sometime.”

by Pete Talbot

(CLARIFICATION: The Miles City event on July 25 is the platform convention.  The delegate selection convention is on Sunday, June 8 in Helena.)

This summer, Montana Democrats will be holding their convention in Miles City. The Republican’s convention is here in Missoula. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Now, I appreciate doing outreach to the disenfranchised voters by holding conventions in disparate locations but with gas prices the way they are, there’s going to be some pricey cross-country driving for the GOP and Democratic faithful.

Anyway, each party will be picking delegates to go to the national conventions later in the summer. I don’t know about the Republicans but there’s going to be more competition than usual for the 16 Democratic delegate slots. First, the national convention is in Denver, which is close to home, for a change. Second, once we get this pesky little nominee situation settled, it should be a rockin’ good convention.

Which half?

Speaking of delegates, Clinton has a slight lead over Obama in the national super delegate category, 274.5-271. How do you get half a delegate? And which half is it — the left or right, or top or bottom?

Nooney, again

Republican candidate for HD 100, Bill Nooney, had a guest opinion piece in last Sunday’s Missoulian. He’s advocating for a Medicare/Medicaid program that helps seniors and others, and is about to be phased out. Funny, though, when Nooney was in the legislature last session he voted against setting up a trust fund for Montana’s Aging Services. He also voted against expanding CHIP, the children’s health insurance program.

Maybe he’s practicing a little of that compassionate conservatism that the Republicans are so famous for. Nooney needs to look better in the eyes of his constituency. His voting record on his district’s interests was horrendous. He’ll have some stiff competition from whichever Democrat makes it through the primary — both Gary Brown and Willis Curdy are raising money and hitting the doors.

by Pete Talbot

It takes a professional writer with some personal experience with Bill Nooney to really do justice to the representative from H.D. 100.

Bill Vaughn over at Dark Acres gives an excellent synopsis of Nooney’s infamous first term in the Montana House of Representatives.

My only complaint with the piece is this line: “Although I haven’t been in a voting booth in years, I’m going to enjoy casting a ballot again,” Vaughn writes. Sometimes it takes a horrendously bad candidate to get someone active in politics but still, shame on you Mr. Vaughn.

(Incidentally, on June 3, there will be a Democratic primary in House District 100 between Gary G. Brown and E. Willis Curdy. I couldn’t find a website for either candidate but 4&20 will keep you posted.)

by Pete Talbot

There are about a half-dozen contested races, so far, for the Montana Legislature. The filing began Tuesday and ends Thursday, March 20. The secretary of state’s office updates the list online, daily.

In our neck of the woods, there is a state senate primary, which Matt covered over at LiTW.

But the one that really caught my eye was HD 100. It is currently held by Republican Bill Nooney and he has filed to run again.

But good news! A fellow named Gary Brown has filed as a Democrat. I don’t know much about him; whether he was recruited by the party, by concerned constituents or that he signed on out of a sense of obligation to the district.

What I’ve learned is he’s retired from the U.S. Forest Service and on the board of the National Museum of Forest Service History. The museum is planned for Missoula, out by the airport.

A quick Google shows that Brown testified at the last legislature on HB 753, Rep. Betsy Hands’ bill to curb global warming. He was with the good guys (M.E.I.C., Montana Conservation Voters, Montana Water Trust, Montana Audubon, Northern Plains Resource Council, etc., etc.).

The other side was comprised of the Montana Coal Council, Montana Petroleum Association, Rio Tinto Energy, and their ilk.

The bill lost in a 46-46 tie. The entire Missoula delegation voted for the bill except Nooney.

The Republican Party needs Nooney and will put resources into this race, but he can be beat. Gary Brown needs our support. 4&20 will keep you updated.

by Pete Talbot

My very first piece here at 4&20 Blackbirds, almost seven months ago, was on Republican legislator Bill Nooney. He “represents” House District 100 on Missoula’s western edge. My post basically said that Nooney, who had painted himself as a moderate during his campaign, had voted lock step with the most right-wing element of the 2007 legislature.

It turns out that I’m not the only one following Nooney’s political career. One of his constituents, Bill Vaughn, has a blog site and Nooney is often the subject of his writings. Here’s the first paragraph from Vaughn’s latest piece on Rep. Nooney:

“Like the assassin who attends the funeral, far-right Republican politician Bill Nooney was among the 150 people crammed into Montana’s Lolo Community Center on Dec. 4. While most everyone else was there to ask questions about a heavy industrial scheme just outside town that will ruin their lives unless the government steps in to prevent it, Nooney—their representative to the Montana House and a fat cat who lives in a McMansion fifteen miles away—showed up for reasons we can only assume were perverse.”

You’ll have to go to Vaughn’s site to read the rest. It’s worth it. Once at the site, you’ll also have to scroll down a bit to find the piece. Vaughn’s site is called Dark Acres. As the name suggests, some of the writing can be a bit on the dark side. Vaughn is, however, a skilled writer. And his observations on Nooney are spot on.

by Pete Talbot

Writer John Adams has a side bar in the Missoula Independent (May 24-May 31 issue) on Missoula’s Republican Representative Bill Nooney. It paints him as a consensus building, moderate sort of fellow. If you look at his voting record, he definitely is not.

He voted lock step with the most radical elements of the Republican (and Constitution) Party – folks like Jore, Koopman and Sales. On the last day of the regular session, he voted against the Children’s Health Insurance Program and against a trust fund for Aging Services.

He voted against a bill that would have lessened Montana’s impact on global warming. He voted to recruit more conservative professors for Montana colleges. He voted not to go after tax cheats. He voted to strip money from mental health and at-risk student programs. And on and on and on…

Here’s another gem. The Independent article mentions Nooney as being one of the 13 Republicans invited to the famous “log cabin meeting,” held between the regular and special sessions, to meet with the governor’s staff and hammer out compromises. He went, he negotiated, then he voted against the compromise budget package (HB 2).

He basically voted the way the far right leadership told him to vote.

This is interesting because one of the reasons Nooney got to the legislature at all was because he was perceived as a moderate. John Balyeat was the incumbent legislator in Nooney’s district. John was a lot like his brother, Joe Balyeat, the Republican state senator out of Gallatin County – that is to say way, way to the right. Nooney handily beat John Balyeat in the 2006 Republican primary. He went on to defeat Democrat Marge Zaveta, by a smaller percentage, in the general election.

Before the election, folks I talked to in Missoula said Nooney was a reasonable guy. He’d represent business interests for sure, but wasn’t out in right field like his predecessor. I guess they were wrong. Missoula area legislators I’ve chatted with say the same thing. They went into the session thinking that Nooney was someone they might be able to work with. With a couple of minor exceptions, this just wasn’t the case.

In defense of Nooney, area legislators said he was civil and didn’t throw tantrums like others in his party.

“He wasn’t a jerk,” said one, “he just voted with the jerks.”

Bill Nooney did not serve his constituency well. In 2008, let’s hope voters in House District 100 do to Nooney what they did to John Balyeat in 2006. In the words of the Who, “we won’t get fooled again.”

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