Archive for the ‘Brian Schweitzer’ Category

by jhwygirl

Had a coworker say to me this morning as work begun “What’s with Jon Krakauer? Why does he hate UM?” Tone and history told me where they were on the University of Montana – City of Missoula – Mayor John Engen – President Engstrom rape “thing”: The “It’s over!” “Why bring this up again?” “Jordan Johnson was innocent!” “No one ever proved anything!” crowd.

Whatever. I’ll continue to call bs on the matter if anyone discusses to any great degree – and it’s likely they do so just to get a rise out of me. I’m OK with it. I have a decent memory, and I deal with facts. Google is easily accessible. The #truth was revealed in the Department of Justice report; the statutes of limitations haven’t expired; Montana’s current Attorney General Tim Fox has stated he feels the matter has been resolved; both the previous Governor Brian Schweitzer and the current Governor Steve Bullock have done nothing, either, to press for justice; and – the real kicker here that everyone seems to forget – the rapists walk free. Those are facts, but apparently there are many here that feel comfortable to ignore the reality.

It’s not like this isn’t free and open information – the Missoulian did fine reporting on the matter, and I still thank Gwen Florio for her fearless journalism, along with the editor and publisher that stood behind reporting on the matter while there was some huge advertising and Griz Nation backlash.

I wonder how the vicitims feel? I think of them. Do you think Freddie Van Valkenburg does? Or the ever-so-efficient, John Engen-endorsed Missoula County Attorney Kirsten B. Pabst? I doubt it.

Does Montana Attorney General Tim Fox – who was hot on the campaign pulpit on the issue of sexual predators – think about the gang rape that happened? That President Engstrom’s own “independent” investigator – a former Montana Supreme Court Justice – also found and placed in her report?

Does Fox think about the other sexual assaults? The 5 year old victim? I do.

Krakauer may be facing an unfriendly welcome here in Missoula when (and if) he comes to sign books. Or speak. But it sure isn’t going to be from me. I’m glad he took the rape issue on. I’m glad it’s the rape issue here. I hope he continues to push for the University papers. I hope he finds the alleged connections that are there between the former Governor’s office and his cronies and friends that came to the Board of Regents, and the weave of politics behind the whole sordid mess.

But getting back to my cowoker…..

I said that I wouldn’t be so sure that he hates the University of Montana – that maybe Krakauer loves Montana and just looks for any excuse to come here to write. (I was in a jolly mood this morning – and as I mentioned above, all parties know where I stand on the rape matter. Plus I added my own little sprinkle of sarcasm.)

The reply was that “Well, he hates the Two Cups of Tea guy too.”

And I love pink ponies and rainbows.

Addendum: One of my favorite posts from the University of Montana rape scandal is this from Patrick Duganz, as it epitomizes the head-in-the-sand Good-Ole-Boy’s Club and seemingly socially acceptable rape and sexual assault is (or was, depending on who you ask) here in Missoula: Rape is not “knuckleheaded,” Rape is a felony.

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by Pete Talbot

And here I thought Sen. Max Baucus was retiring from the U.S. Senate so he could spend more time in Montana with his lovely, young wife.  He’s even building a home in the Bozeman area.

It looks like I was wrong.  The blogs are awash with the news that Max will most likely be the next U.S. Ambassador to China.  I won’t link to them all — they range from kudos to criticism — and you’ve probably already read them.  Here’s the NY Times story, though.

Now China will be his legacy since tax reform is off the table and the Affordable Care Act isn’t exactly being warmly embraced.

The big question: who will be appointed by Gov. Bullock as Baucus’ place holder until the 2014 election?

Ahh, to be a fly on the wall in those smoke-filled back rooms (although not as smokey as they used to be thanks to anti-tobacco trends).  Who to pick: Lt. Gov. John Walsh, Brian Schweitzer, Pat or Carol Williams, one of our Tier-B women (Juneau, McCulloch, Lindeen)?

Now former Baucus/Obama staffer Jim Messina is being mentioned.  How the hell did he get in the mix?

And if Bullock appoints Walsh, who will he then appoint as lieutenant governor?  (Bohlinger?  That would be ironic, n’est pas?)

I’m sure all these questions were hashed out and answered many months ago by the powers that be.  The rest of us are just along for the ride.

UPDATE: It’s official.  Obama nominates Baucus for Ambassador to China position.  Max’s appointment should sail through Senate hearings.

by  JC

Hot on the heals of my post earlier this week  — which raised the call for my public lynching, and the ostracizing of 4&20, by dem party loyalists, apologists and hand-wringers for having the temerity to quote a source from World News Daily (there, I said it again, so you all can just quit reading now) — and Montana Superreporter John Adams’ great investigative report into Montana ex-Governor Brian Schweitzer’s dark money machine, I just felt that the dog days of summer were a good time to delve into the matter a little deeper.

Two seemingly unrelated pieces of information, when combined, escalate the gravity of the situation far beyond the simple politics with which most people want to whitewash this kerfuffle. The first piece from John Adams’ story:

“That group [Council for a Sustainable America] in 2009 received a $335,000 contribution from the Democratic Governors Association three months after Schweitzer was elected chairman of that organization.”

The second comes from writer Jerome Corsi:

“Allegations of fraud against Attorney General Eric Holder, other top Justice officials, several prominent Democratic operatives – including a major contributor to Hillary Clinton – and Credit Suisse Bank has been re-ignited by a federal bankruptcy judge’s decision that also apparently has derailed the U.S. Senate bid of a former Democrat governor.”

Why Jerome Corsi? Well, in case democrats need to be reminded, Corsi was one of the architects behind the Swift-boating of Senator John Kerry in 2004, and was co-author of the book Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry”Yes the book was full of untruths, as was his book about Obama in “The Obama Nation.” Obama’s campaign was successful in rebutting Corsi’s book, while Kerry’s was not, and he lost the election by many accounts to “Swift-Boating”.

It is no secret that Brian Schweitzer would rather be U.S. president than a U.S. Senator. So when the man who helped tank one Senator’s presidential bid (and tried again unsuccessfully with Obama) takes notice of what some people thought was a shoe-in for Senate, well then it is fair game to talk about, WND or not. Further investigation stemming from Adams’ and Corsi’s writings have taken a long and winding road. Continue Reading »

By JC,

Ok, I’m just going to repost this blog from deza4america. While most of the facts are verifiable, there is still much alleging going on, so I’m going to let the allegers do their thing (and he puts together the narrative so much more eloquently than could I) and hopefully some wonderful investigative journalist can pick up the pieces and move forward.

Holder faces fresh charges.. scandal is no stranger to these cronies!!
by deza4america in Today’s Outrage!!

Eric Holder, the king of scandal, now faces charges of fraud, along with other top justice officials, democratic operatives (including major contributors of Hillary Clinton), and Credit Suisse Bank after the judge dismissed a bankruptcy judgment against real estate developer, Tim Blixseth. The judgment of bankruptcy was allegedly a result of a fraudulent loan made by Credit Suisse, and stripped Blixseth of his ownership of Yellowstone Club, a luxury ski and golf resort in Montana.

Blixseth also alleges that the defrauding scheme was planned by his ex-wife and Ron Burkle, supermarket guru responsible for raising over $1 million for Hillary Clinton’s ’08 campaign. This decision has also derailed the former governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer (D), from seeking a bid for senate in 2014.

There are allegedly several hundreds of pages showing Holder and his assistant (criminal department), Lanny Breur, blocked the prosecution of disputes involving the Yellowstone Club, now owned by Burkle.

Further allegations show that Holder and Breuer also sought to shield the federal prosecution of Credit Suisse Group AG (client of law firm, Covington and Burling), and the Democratic Party operatives who played an alleged role in the fraudulent financing and bank lending practices. Holder and Breuer were partners for Covington and Burling before becoming an Obama staff members!

The decision by the judge dismissed a $40 million fraud claim against Blixseth, that had been enforced by… wait! another man with ties to the Clintons, Ralph Kirscher. It is further alleged that this decision by Kirscher was fraudulently influenced by Schweitzer. Which, led to Blixseth’s ex-wife and Sam Bryne, a Boston real estate investor with Democrat Party ties being able to purchase the Yellowstone Club at substantially under market value shortly after the bankruptcy had been declared.

Additionally, Burkle, Bryne, and Schweitzer funneled over $1.2 million to Schweitzer’s re-election campaign through various avenues trying to hide the ties between the various parties!!

I’ll append the comment I made (with some edits/additions) on Liz’s blog post from the other day, after the jump: Continue Reading »

by Pete Talbot

Or so says the Washington Post.

“Who’ll be your whipping boy now?” asked my wife.

Still Max.  But I have a lot of questions.  Was it the public outcry on his latest actions the led to his retirement?  You know, his no vote on the expanded background checks for gun buyers and his comments on the health care “train wreck.”  The pundits say he did these things because he’s up for re-election in 2014.  Now he says he’s not running.

I get an email from Max’s organization every other day asking for money.  And he already has something like $6.5 million in his war chest.

So either he took a poll recently that said his numbers were in the crapper or he’s been playing at this super-secret campaign strategy to hold the seat in Democratic hands.  I suspect the former.

I guess it could be something else, like his health, but they say the guy runs miles everyday, so that probably isn’t it.  Then there’s this, from a source at ABC News: He has recently been remarried and “is finally happy,” the friend said. “At 72, he can still have a life. It’s harder to do that at 79.”

And the most shocking thing of all: The likely Democratic candidate to succeed him would be former governor Brian Schweitzer, sources said.

Where the hell did this come from?  It’s been said that these two guys don’t like each other very much.  Again, from the Post: ” … Schweitzer, a popular figure who at times has feuded with Baucus over local political issues in the Big Sky state. In February, Schweitzer hinted at a potential run in a Facebook post.”

Since I don’t follow Schweitzer on Facebook, this is news to me.  I thought Brian was busy trying to take over the Stillwater palladium mine over there in Columbus.

So much subterfuge, so little time.

Was Baucus really grooming Schweitzer for the seat all the time? Was this to keep potential Republican (or Democratic) rivals at bay. It seems to have worked on the Republicans with the two candidates, so far, being no-names: Corey Stapleton and Champ Edmunds.

This political insider crap drives me crazy, if that’s what it is.  I’m sure details will emerge over the next few weeks.  Personally, I’d like to see Denise Juneau run for the seat.

by jhwygirl

Governor Brian Schweitzer had an op-ed in today’s New York Times today. I am reprinting it here in it’s entirety because (a) it’s an op-ed and (b) he’s our Governor.

Schweitzer is throwing his weight behind Stand With Montanans, a group working to ban corporate campaign spending here in Montana under Ballot Initiative 166. The national attention he can draw to this issue – transposed with Montana’s history’s role not only here in Montana, but nationally – is invaluable.

Make no mistake Montana – there are those out there here in this state (with funding from Canada and out-of-state) that are working to removal all barriers to corporate spending here in Montana. It’s a good thing that Schweitzer taking a leading role on this issue.

Mining for Influence in Montana

IN Montana’s frontier days, we learned a hard lesson about money in politics, one that’s shaped our campaign-finance laws for a century and made our political system one of the country’s most transparent.

Those laws, and our political way of life, are now being threatened by the Supreme Court — which is why I recently signed a petition for a federal constitutional amendment to ban corporate money from all elections.

Montana’s approach to campaign law began when a miner named William A. Clark came upon a massive copper vein near Butte. It was the largest deposit on earth, and overnight he became one of the wealthiest men in the world. He bought up half the state of Montana, and if he needed favors from politicians, he bought those as well.

In 1899 he decided he wanted to become a United States senator. The State Legislature appointed United States senators in those days, so Clark simply gave each corruptible state legislator $10,000 in cash, the equivalent of $250,000 today.

Clark “won” the “election,” but when the Senate learned about the bribes, it kicked him out. “I never bought a man who wasn’t for sale,” Clark complained as he headed back to Montana.

Nevertheless, this type of corruption continued until 1912, when the people of Montana approved a ballot initiative banning corporate money from campaigns (with limited exceptions). We later banned large individual donations, too. Candidates in Montana may not take more than a few hundred dollars from an individual donor per election; a state legislator can’t take more than $160. And everything must be disclosed.

These laws have nurtured a rare, pure form of democracy. There’s very little money in Montana politics. Legislators are basically volunteers: they are ranchers, teachers, carpenters and all else, who put their professions on hold to serve a 90-day session, every odd year, for $80 a day.

And since money can’t be used to gain access, public contact with politicians is expected and rarely denied. A person who wants to visit with a public official, even the governor, can pretty much just walk into the Capitol and say hello. All meetings with officials are open to the public. So are all documents — even my own handwritten notes and e-mails.

All this is in jeopardy, though, thanks to the Supreme Court and its infamous Citizens United ruling. In February the court notified the office of Montana’s commissioner of political practices, which oversees state campaigns, that until further notice, we may no longer enforce our anti-corruption statute, specifically our restriction on corporate money.

The court, which will make a formal ruling on the law soon, cited in the 2010 Citizens United case that corporations are people, too, and told us that our 110-year effort to prevent corruption in Montana had likely been unconstitutional. Who knew?

The effects of the court’s stay are already being felt here. The ink wasn’t even dry when corporate front groups started funneling lots of corporate cash into our legislative races. Many of the backers have remained anonymous by taking advantage of other loopholes in federal law.

But it’s easy to figure out who they are: every industry that wants to change the laws so that more profit can be made and more citizens can be shortchanged.

I know this because I’ve started receiving bills on my desk that have been ghostwritten by a host of industries looking to weaken state laws, including gold mining companies that want to overturn a state ban on the use of cyanide to mine gold, and developers who want to build condos right on the edge of our legendary trout streams.

In the absence of strict rules governing campaign money, these big players will eventually get what they seek. I vetoed these bills, but future governors might sign them if they have been bribed by the same type of money that is now corrupting our State Legislature.

This will mean, sadly, that the Washington model of corruption — where corporations legally bribe members of Congress by bankrolling their campaigns with so-called independent expenditures, and get whatever they need in return — will have infected Montana.

That’s why, in the event we don’t win in the court, I’m also supporting a federal constitutional amendment that would enshrine the right of a state to ban corporate money from political campaigns. I’m hoping the rest of Montana will join me — indeed, the petition will be presented to voters in November.

It’s not much, but it’s a start. If other states get into the act, maybe we can start a prairie fire that will burn all the way to Washington. In the meantime, we will see whether the court decides to blow the stink of Washington into Montana, or whether we can preserve our fresh mountain air.

by Pete Talbot

I’m on my quarterly visit to the Magic City, which always gives me pause for reflection.

Consider this a sort of stream of consciousness open thread.

Things are booming, relatively speaking, in Billings.  I tend to stay in the west end of town, with occasional visits to the Heights and Lockwood.  Construction, both commercial and residential, is on the upswing.  Miles-and-miles of ubiquitous six-foot-tall white plastic fence line 32nd Street West, separating the new subdivisions of apartments, condos and single-family homes.

The energy boom at the Bakken Play, and Wyoming coal and methane fields, is helping to fuel the Billings economy.  And when I tell the in-laws that I’m not all that excited about the Keystone XL Pipeline, well, I might as well be telling them I’m here for their guns.

I was told once that Billings got its nickname ‘Magic City’ because of its amazing economic growth from its early days as a little railroad town.  It was also mentioned, although not in the Chamber of Commerce brochures, that Billings has magically hung around through numerous boom-and-bust cycles, like the petroleum bust in the early 1960s.

We’ll see how the current boom treats Billings denizens in the not too distant future.

Since I’m a dead tree edition junkie, I read the Billings Gazette while I’m here.  It’s not that much larger than the Missoulian, which surprises me since Billings is about twice the size of Missoula.  As a matter of fact, the Sunday and Monday Billings papers had as many Missoulian bylines in them as Gazette bylines. Interesting.

A Sunday AP story that caught my eye was this one on Sen. Max Baucus gearing up for a 2014 re-election bid.  Good idea, Max, since you’re going to have a tough time raising any campaign money for this Senate race (snark).

To be honest, Max has done some good stuff lately: his work on the Rocky Mountain Front, his support of women’s health care and reproductive rights, his call for a quicker withdrawal from Afghanistan …

Not sure that cancels out the debacles of the deficit super committee he served on or health care committee he chaired, his earlier support of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, his sh*t-eating grin as he stood next to George W. Bush during the signing of the tax breaks for millionaires bill …

So it disappointed when I read this line in the story:

“Baucus continues to be the main funder of the state party and its candidates, making a primary challenge nearly impossible for anyone seeking institutional support.”

Way to further democracy, state party and its candidates.

Rumors abound that Gov. Schweitzer is the logical candidate to challenge Baucus, although Schweitzer adamantly denies this.  It’s also common knowledge that Baucus and Schweitzer aren’t the best of buddies.  I’m not sure who I’d support in a Baucus/”Coal Cowboy” primary, though I’m leaning Schweitzer.  I know where Montana Cowgirl stands.  The comments there weren’t particularly kind toward Max, either, but then again, it is a rather Schweitzer-centric site.

Schweitzer is definitely more of a maverick and Montana loves a maverick.  Still, what I’d really like to see is someone who will dramatically shift the paradigm — call for the public financing of elections, reign in lobbyist influence, promote economic and environmental sustainability — someone to really shake things up.

So it’s always good to take the pulse of the Magic City.  As I’ve said for the umpteenth time, as Billings goes, politically, so goes the state of Montana.  Maybe the 2012 elections will give me some indication as to where Billings is headed but I don’t believe it’s ready to embrace any radically shifting paradigms as yet.

by jhwygirl

Boy. What to say about Great Falls Tribune state reporter John S. Adams’ most recent investigative piece exposing misuse of state funds by Dave Gallik, Commissioner of Political Practices?

The evidence is pretty damning – considering it seems that the entire staff of the department is standing by the accusations.

Seems Gallik is utilizing his office to run his private practice, logging pay hours that weren’t worked (over half!) and increasing the contract outsourcing of legal work.

How’s that for stimulating the economy?

The Commissioner position is appointed. It’s a six-year term. During the past legislative session, Governor Brian Schweitzer appointed Jennifer Hensley to head up the empty seat – an appointment that was rejected in the last days of the session (if I recall correctly – feel free to interject) due to objections over Hensley’s political background.

Gallik was then appointed, leaving the post temporarily filled, where Gallik would surely be asked to resign should the chief executive post eventually go to Republicans.

Political shenanigans from both parties aside, it’s a disgrace to see this kind of activity out of the Political Practices Commissioner for multiple reasons – first and foremost for his misappropriation of state tax dollars. In this case – do read Adams’ story – Gallik is not only en flagrante over his use of the office for his own private enterprise, he’s downright self-righteous about his perceived ability to do so.

Further, Gallik is a lawyer. Isn’t this sort of activity an ethics violation by the pithy standards of the Montana State Bar? Gallik is giving all lawyers a bad name, and he’d doing it out of the Office of Poltiical Practices.

(Probably not) finally – We got an election year coming up. Is this the oversight the citizens of Montana are going to have over this upcoming election?

Sad.

I’m guessing with this last story, supermontananreporter John S. Adams won’t have a front seat at Schweitzer’s last State of the State address.

by jhwygirl

James at 2nd Grade Bike Rack has a fine piece up on the ‘Draft’ Long Range Restoration Priorities and Fund Allocation Guidance Plan out of the Montana Department of Justice Natural Resource Damage Program.

It’s a great write up, so I encourage you to go read all about it there – he’s plenty of links. James points out some pretty disheartening issues, if you ask me. When I read the draft final long-range plan, and there’s a list of projects – virtually all of which have been approved, I gotta ask what kind of draft long range whatever can it be when public opinion is being solicited for a long-range plan after-the-fact of allocating just about the whole kit-and-caboodle.

by jhwygirl

Got a press release from Northern Plains Resource Council yesterday announcing Forest Mars, Jr.’s buy-in to the Tongue River railroad, which is needed to transport the dirty filthy coal of Otter Creek from Montana to China.

Later, I went and read my favorite supermontanareporter John S. Adams’ blog MT Lowdown and found a thorough report – with handouts – on the Mars/Warren Buffett/Arch Coal purchase deal on the dirty coal railroad.

Seems Mars – who had been fighting the railroad across his lands in the Tongue River – has purchased 1/3 into the railroad with a deal that would re-route it across Montanans to the east.

Mars had been one of the highest profile landowners fighting the impending eminent domain proceedings to place that railroad.

Of course – and you have to read MT Lowdown – Forrest Mars, Jr. is framing himself the saviour of the Tongue River Valley and he’s notified Northern Plains Resource Council of his decision to cease funding of legal challenges to the railroad.

Nice.

What I find in life is that karma is hard to avoid. So while Mars thinks he’s bought his freedom from that railroad crossing his ranch, his ranch lies in the path of the connection Wyoming needs to cheaply take their coal to china. And as state Attorney General laid out in his “NAY” vote to Otter Creek, Wyoming is all too eager to move their coal through to Montana to get it on the main BN line on its way to China.

Read Bullock’s words carefully. Understand the poor economic decisions made by leasing Otter Creek at a hugely discounted pro-coal industry price. the corporate welfare give-away that it is. Wyoming producers are not going to let go of $100 million a year in savings by saying bye-bye to a railroad that would save them that much money. Each year.

~~~~
I’m going to have to start a new category here. Something like “Colonization of Montana”. I just went and looked at some of our previous posts on Otter Creek and eminent domain. Should make anyone sick to their stomach.

I said this back when the Governor signed that eminent domain bill into law back in May – It is the rise of the ghosts of the Copper Kings. It will be a turning point in our history, just as the sale of Montana Power..

Remember that Montanans. We appear to have forgotten our history. I assure you, the next few years and court battles will remind us how fateful that misstep was.

by jhwygirl

It isn’t like I didn’t know this was coming, but I was sickened by the front page headline on the Great Falls Tribune this morning:

33 landowners face condemnations

I won’t rehash the sordid mess, but I will say that with adequate media coverage of this matter, the effect it would have on the next legislature would be deafening. Guaranteed.

If it’s one thing that will wake up Montanans it’s when private property is condemned. Find out it is for a private company for private profit? That won’t be good either.

Find out it’s not even an American company? Probably even worse. Realize that the only people getting jobs are the attorneys and their paralegals?

Ummm. Yeah.

Tonbridge was granted direct eminent domain authority over private property here in Montana. The legislature got lazy and the Governor, quite frankly, demanded it. Now private citizens will have to hire lawyers and face down private companies with little protection, other than the judge, to ensure that personal and property rights that are guaranteed in our constitution are protected and equitably compensated when true public benefit can be demonstrated.

Given our history here in this state?

Most obscene is the fact that Tonbridge spent enough money in cigars and steaks and 75 year old scotch that they had a special clause inserted into the bill guaranteeing it would apply to them (other state law does not allow them to apply retroactively.)

Corporate porn.

by jhwygirl

‘Cause I’d find that real funny. Especially given that they titled the thing “An Act Establishing the Montana Marijuana Act” when it established nothing and instead destroyed the 2004 citizen’s initiative that brought medical marijuana to Montana.

Medical marijuana advocates have sued the state, challenging the new law as unconstitutional and without merit to state’s legitimate interests. The judge has said that he is having a problem with several provisions in the bill, and has suggested that may grant the full injunction rather than pick and strike problematic aspects.

This is just emblematic of the ineptitude that results when ideology takes over common sense and the real purpose of legislating, which is service to the public good.

We here at 4&20 have written about SB423 and medical marijuana (just use that nifty search there on the right), but Montanafesto really has taken the lead in the Montana blogosphere regarding medical marijuana – you can certainly read our in-the-moment calls on the lunacy as it happened, but I digress….

If our Attorney General and Governor were to have some service to the public in mind – keeping in mind that the public, in this case, includes people who are dying and could benefit immensely from medical marijuana – perhaps they would start directing the Department of Public Health and Human Services to get to work drafting some rules and policies for the law that was in place prior to this legislative masturbation ideological boondoggle.

Our legislature had THREE chances at writing laws to reign in what they really hated, which was the commercialization and industrialization of medical marijuana and its associated dispensaries. They ignored the pleadings of law enforcement and city and county governments, all the while the state government having the ability to introduce rules and policies directed at implement the intent of the original law.

Now’s the time to get at it. Medical marijuana advocates should be advocating for it, just like vote-seekers like Bullock and Bozeman’s Larry Jent.

I will not let this opportunity pass without mentioning that all this lawsuit stuff over an unconstitutional law is costing the taxpayers dearly – and if, indeed, this law is struck down as unconstitutional, the taxpayers will indeed pick up a huge tab in legal bills for the medical marijuana advocates.

And if this medical marijuana bill is having this kind of difficulty you can bet your next paycheck that there are a bevvy of other bills out there that became law that will meet the same future.

It’s starting look like the only jobs created out of the 2011 legislative session were those for attorneys, court reporters and paralegals.

(Addendum: Here’s an example of the repeal talk we’ve gotten from Attorney General Steve Bullock:

(Regarding the judge potentially incinerating the entirety of the 2011 legislature’s medical marijuana repeal law): If that occurs, “the commercial marijuana industry and all the problems associated with it would continue to exist in this state,” according to the legal document from Attorney General Steve Bullock, chief of consumer protection Jim Molloy and Assistant Attorneys General Mark Mattioli and Stuart Segrest.

This is simply not true. With all the supplier-end problems – capitalism gone wild, if you will – that have occurred in the last 3 years, no state agency (or even the Attorney General’s office) has stepped forward to write administrative rules to address the issue in a manner consistent and within the parameters of the original citizen’s initiative.

Repeal of this last legislative session’s bill leaves us with the citizen’s initiative law. There’s still plenty of ways to address the problems that have surfaced in recent years – none of which were the cause of cancer patients, and all of which were the result of the supply end of the situation.

Montana’s government failed its citizens. Time to fix that and do the right thing Steve Bullock.

by jhwygirl

Word is that Sen. Jeff Essmann is preparing to add his name to the pile – and I do mean pile – of Montana Republicans seeking to the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

His soon-to-be entry brings the number of candidates on the GOP side up to a 6-count: Rick Hill (who will quickly reduced to “Rick who?” after Essmann’s entry); former state senator Ken Miller (going for a second shot after losing to Bob Brown in a 2004 run for the GOP nomination); Cory Stapleton, another former state senator; Neil Livingstone, some sort of national security I-don’t-know-what; and Jim O’Hara, a Choteau County Commissioner.

Essmann’s fame of late is authoring the medical marijuana repeal bill that Governor Schweitzer allowed to lapse into law. He met recently with medical marijuana advocates, and apparently it didn’t go over too well.

Democrats have two declared candidates: Sen. Dave Wanzenried of Missoula and DINO Sen. Larry Jent of Bozeman. Jent was quite the advocate for repeal, and in fact much has been said behind closed doors of his and as-of-yet undeclared Attorney General Steve Bullock involvement in the state-wide raids that still remain without indictment (while leaving behind dozens of damaged commercial properties.)

I’ve got a number of reasons for why I don’t want Bullock to run, but one I’ll put out there is that the AG office is pretty important and Steve has worked towards seeking beneficial solutions for Montana consumers.

Incumbency has advantages and energy and funds should be funneled prudently.

In other words – wait until 2016.

For me, I’m going with Wanzenried. I’ve been a fan for some time. He’s fiscally prudent and practicle. Wanzenried knows how to work across the aisle, and he’s gained a tremendous amount of respect from all sides of everything up there in Helena.

Wanzenried is also one of the hardest-working senators this state has, and his experience on the legislative side could go a long way. One of the larger errors of Schweitzer’s administration is his lack of active productive participation in the legislative process, especially when it starts getting all haywire. This session could have used some guidance instead of showboating – which, while showy and great for the camera really did nothing more than throw more divisiveness into the already toxic mix.

You simply don’t see Wanzenried playing into that. He’ll discuss issues with analysis and a presentation of the issues. That’s the kind of leadership I want to see.

Most recently, Sen. Wanzenried has stepped up front-and-center rallying against HB198, this last session’s abomination “Eminent Domain Bill” which hands private property taking rights to private corporations. Wanzenried’s also successfully pushed through the senate a bill to abolish the death penalty the last two sessions, only to have it die in the House.

In fact, I’m still wanting to write up Wanzenried’s statement on that ugly bill – and I WILL get to it one day. Sen. Wanzenried was the only Senator of the Missoula delegation to vote against HB198. (As for the house delegation, Rep. Ellie Hill was the sole Missoula rep. to maintain a “NO” vote for HB198.)

Want to get an idea of the name recognition and early polling on Montana’s 2012 election? Jack the Blogger over at Western World has some stats on the 2012 races in a post from back in February.

Footnote: When is the SOS going to update for the 2012 election? The list of candidates is still from the 2010.The SOS office can’t register candidates until January 1st, which answers my question.

by jhwygirl

Oh, the places I could go with that….

The Missoulian has an Associated Press story reporting that Governor Brian Schweitzer is heading to China to tout Montana wheat, beer, tourism and coal.

That’s a good thing, and hopefully the Governor does well. Montana has its own special draw, and hopefully he’s taking a bunch of old cowboy boots and hats with him to hand out. They’ll love that stuff.

Let’s hope he leaves the bolo tie at home, though.

It’d be nice if Brian pushed on China for real investing here in Montana – something more than just building a railroad that required condemnation of private lands so that they can get their coal. Thing is – if Montana is going to strip mine the Tongue River Valley for China’s benefit, they should be giving us something more than a handful of jobs.

Butte has silicone recycling that has been doing quite well. That should pair up well with China’s forward thinking and growing solar cell industry. There’s just one example of investment potential for China.

MonTech, MSU and UM could probably benefit immensely with partnerships with China…as would Chinese universities. Let’s hope he goes there, too.

Last year, China bumped from ranking #5 in the world’s economy, to #2. That’s crazy growth, but I als think that it is a whole bunch of smoke-and-mirrors given the overall lack of quality in their infrastructure along with the manipulation of their currency and heavy subsidy of basic industries. Regardless, that kind of lead should not be ignored.

Nor should their their serious and thorough disregard for human rights.

I have a love-hate thing with China. Its culture is beautiful. They suck on human rights. Absolutely SUCK on human rights. They are growing and have the growth potential to blow the whole world out of the water. All of those are things that should not be ignored.

If Montana can have a role that is more than just immediately colonizing ourself for China’s eventual world take-over, then I’m all for it.

Good Luck Governor Brian. Please don’t take Jag with you.

by jhwygirl

HB198, the eminent domain bill, is ugly folks.

Governor Schweitzer knows it, having promised the day a majority in the Senate was fooled (having been heavily lobbied by not only NWE and Tonbridge, but by the Governor’s office) into voting for the thing.

This is a bill that was pushed through the legislature with the help of the thugs of NWE. A bill that was tabled in Senate committee.

On the floor of the Senate just 8 days before the close of the session the beast was blasted onto the floor with lobbyists having worked the Senators the night before with drinks and dinner. Amendments to HB198 were offered that even proponents of agreed were worthy and needed to protect private property right, but they failed because there wasn’t enough time to get the thing back through the House.

Apparently though Governor Schweitzer has forgotten the legislative process…or he’s telling us something over and over in the hopes that we will start to believe it (like I said in an earlier post on this subject)…..but when Schweitzer bloviated about his successes to the press on Thursday, he included his “amendment” to HB198, the eminent domain bill:

The Democratic governor also talked up successes like the passage of a business equipment tax cut, workers’ compensation reform and revisions to Montana’s eminent domain laws, which he called the most important “job creator” of the session.

Schweitzer said his recent amendment to House Bill 198, which addresses eminent domain, will terminate the law in two years. The amendment ensures the 2013 Legislature must take another look at landowner issues, while allowing job-related development to flourish in the meantime; without passage of HB198, Schweitzer said badly needed energy development projects would have been jeopardized.

“That energy bill did not consider the rights of landowners, and they were worked up. So it was a balancing act for legislators to say, ‘We need to develop Montana and we need to develop our resources,’ ” Schweitzer said, commending lawmakers for meeting in the middle.

Now – that’s not just Schweitzer saying something in passing about his successes – this is the Governor going on for quite a bit about how he fixed the bill and what it does and what it doesn’t do…along with his own version of the bill’s benefits that many dispute.

Trouble is, Schweitzer started complaining that the bill needed amended – as I pointed out at the top of this post – and that he was going to amendatory veto the thing before the sun had gone down the day of the vote’s successful second reading vote in the Senate which gave the bill the necessary approval in both houses.

So the Republicans, in control, decided to hold back on the thing, not handing it up to him until last Friday, April 29th. A tactical move on their part.

Governor Schweitzer can not amendatory veto the bill – the session is closed.

His choices are two: He has until Sunday to veto the thing or sign it into law. He can also let it lapse into law, but the effect is the same as approving the thing. Letting lapse into law is a choice of the Governor’s, and is equal to signing it into law.

And when it does become law, it will not have a sunset clause.

Look – I know this stuff is boring for you folks but realize this – the effects of handing over eminent domain authority to any private transmission business that comes into this state under the major facilities siting act should be utterly offensive to you.

It is the rise of the ghosts of the Copper Kings. It will be a turning point in our history, just as the sale of Montana Power.

If you have questions, I encourage you to ask – we’ve had some very informed people on this issue, including Kate Orr and John Vincent, who sits on the Montana Public Service Commission (so how’s that for expert, huh?). That’s me kinda openly soliciting his help there, too.

It’s that important.

Please stand up for your fellow Montanan ranchers and property owners out in the eastern and central part of this state that are fighting this thing and contact the governor by email governor@mt.gov and tell him that working solutions to this issue require full analysis which fully weighs the concerns of Montana’s citizens.

In the meantime, Tonbridge can play fairly. Is that asking too much?

 
Airing: Thursday April 28th, 7pm on Montana PBS

By JC

Our byline here at 4&20 references “politics and culture” and perhaps nowhere else is the clash between politics and culture better illuminated than in documentary.

High Plains Films, in its own words “dedicates itself to exploring issues about the relationship between nature and society.” With almost 30 films under its belt, and 35 national awards to its credit, High Plains Films newest feature–nearly 10 years in the making from inception to final cut–will air Thursday April 28th on Montana PBS at 7pm. The 78 minute documentary will be shown in its entirety.

The film is the result of the collaboration of diverse Montana talent, and is an ITVS/Montana PBS co-production.

High Plains Films is located in Missoula, Montana and has been producing documentaries for almost 20 years. You can learn all about them by visiting their recently redeveloped website, which is chock-full of video trailers, clips, deleted and extra scenes, interviews and accompanying information about their 30 films. Much of the footage shown is in spectacular HD! Spend some time wading through the material and exploring their window on the world, and you’ll see a whole ‘nother exposition of many, many issues.

There are several short documentaries shown in their entirety in addition to some sample scenes from works-in-progress like Two Rivers, a film about the confluence of the Blackfoot and Clark Fork Rivers, and the impact decades of mining and a dam had on its ecology and nearby residents.

There is an illuminating and articulate 20+ minute interview with Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer about the bison/brucellosis issue, as well as a tribute piece to Buffalo Field Campaign activist Brian “Frog” Gharst, and an amazing short clip showing a golden eagle harrassing a deer. Facing the Storm also includes original stop-motion animations from Missoula’s Andy Smetanka, and an original score from Ivan Rosenberg.

The new HPF site was designed by UM School of Media Arts professor Greg Twigg and constructed by a local developer. The HPF website also offers free music downloads from film scores and other original material from Ned Mudd, Aaron Parrett and Ivan Rosenberg. There is a stock-footage library being constructed where High Plains FIlms can showcase much of its thousands of hours of footage.

Check out the documentary this thursday, and spend some time exploring their new site when you have some free time!

hpf site

by jhwygirl

HB198 was passed on third reading this morning in the Senate. I won’t rehash the ugly mess of this bill that will enable private major facility businesses to take private property for private gain – you can just put HB198 into the search there on the right for that background.

That being said, the bill is heading to the Governor’s desk after a debate yesterday that had proponents of the bill push off amendments they felt were worthy because they had to ‘get this thing done for MATL.’

So we have a bill that’s bad, even by proponent’s standards.

What is probably not so shocking since he’s been demanding this bill, is that Governor Schweitzer is willing to sign off on this bill that he, too, admits does not protect private property rights.

Schweitzer is going to offer an amendatory veto to this bad bill that will have it sunset it in 2013. That means that Montanans will have a bill that has a special retroactive clause to capture up and (hopefully for them) cure MATL’s legal issues and its failure to negotiate in good faith with Montana property owners being signed by the Governor – even though he admits it’s a shitty bill. From the good Gov:

“The Legislature has got to spend the next two years putting together an eminent domain law that makes sense for developers and for landowners of Montana,” Schweitzer said at a Capitol news conference. “This bill is not right; it didn’t address landowner concerns.”

I’m not a landowner, but if I were in the path of anything that has a major facility line or pipeline anywhere near it, I’d be darn pissed off right now.

Voters can not point the blame of this horrible legislation at any one party – both sides of the aisle voted on both sides of the issue, and ardently defended their positions. Being the one signing it into law, though, is a different matter.

(Addendum)
Read the Billings Gazette edition of this story and the comments are interesting. Not many in support of the thing, and the only people being blamed are Democrats.

And that will be how it goes. A whole bunch of people that will never check the actual vote on that bill (that saw the likes of Verdell Jackson voting for the thing) will blame it on “Democrats” when in truth there were a whole lot of “Republicans” who voted for it, too.

by jhwygirl

Even the old timers I know can’t recall a more lunatic legislature. One of the most conservative on that list recently told me that they thought the Governor was right with his budget and they (the legislature) were “a bunch of idiots.”

I was floored.

Anyways….the Republican controlled 62nd Legislature took its unprecedented 2nd break of the session today, coming back on Tuesday.

These breaks aren’t saving any money – in fact, they’re costing the taxpayers and inconveniencing the legislative staff who still have to stick around.

The first break (April 14th) cost the taxpayers somewhere around $60,000. This current break will cost over $75,000.

Republicans are taking the break because they are waiting on the Governor’s veto of HB2, the main budget bill.

There are other components to the budget bill, though – and combined together they represent the “bottom dollar” and Governor Schweitzer is saying it’s impossible to be responsible with the budget without seeing the entire picture.

And I’ve yet to hear from anyone in the MTGOP as to why that doesn’t make sense.

Which, of course, they can’t say because The Governor Needs To See The Whole Budget!

Look – what I wonder is why someone in the media isn’t getting Senate President Jim Peterson or Speaker of the House Mike Milburn on camera and asking them how they expect the Governor to responsibly review a budget when he doesn’t have the entire thing.

This cat-and-mouse game being played up there in Helena is getting frustratingly boorish. By taking these breaks, the Republicans want to be able to pin the costs of the upcoming special session on the Democrats or on Governor Brian Schweitzer when the Democrats and Governor Brian Schweitzer have told them to put the federal funding back in the budget. They’ve tried to adequately fund the schools (and considering the state’s been sued for lack of adequate funding, their concerns are well-placed) and the Republicans have ignored those requests also.

Here’s a hint: The public aint’ buying it.

My view looking in says that people are getting sick of some of the obvious fights Republicans are picking this session – let’s not forget the attacks on gays and local governance – and if they think they are going to hand the Governor an incomplete budget and then expect to be able to blame him when they go into special session they are either up there smoking crack or…..

Or they are home in their districts smoking crack.

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.

by jhwygirl

The Senate Energy & Telecommunications tied 6-6 today in committee on HB198, and then subsequently voted to table the bill, effectively killing it.

Senate Legislative Rules allow for the committee to reconsider its votes providing the committee has not yet reported to the Secretary of the Senate.

Which is the likely explanation for why Sen. Olson, chair of Senate Energy & Telecommunications, called a special meeting of his committee for tomorrow at 3 p.m.

Reporter Mike Dennison the story on what happened today.

Despite continued reading of information concerning HB198, I still think it is a dangerous door to open. Eminent domain statutes are situation under Title 70, Chapter 30. Public uses are defined there under Part 102.

Only that isn’t where HB198 changes the law. It adds a more expansive definition of what a public utility is under Title 69 – a definition that was exclusive to that Title….and applies it to the not-that-narrow constraints of eminent domain in Title 70.

The key word there in Title 70 resting on public uses that are used by the public in Montana. Title 70 allows for condemnation of a long laundry list of things – including distribution lines for electricity. To suggest that some major crisis happens should pass-through lines owned by private companies be unable to condemn is hysterics.

What is different here with MATL is that those lines are passing on through Montana. They will not be regulated for Montana. There is simply no assurance that that these lines can be used by smaller users.

Nor is there any guarantee of fairness to those seeking accessibility to these lines.

Until such time that the state can guarantee a true fair and equitable public use of those transmission lines.

The current bill, as it stands, is lazy and inadequate to protect the citizens of Montana against unchecked private interests. If approved it will surely stand as yet another famous Montana give away to private interests.

By relying on the Major Facilities Siting Act, it allows major decisions to be made about private property large and small without any input whatsoever from the private property owners. Keep in mind, at least one county has sued for being left out of the loop – so involvement and scoping under the Major Facilities Siting Act is clearly flawed (to say the least).

So, like I wrote yesterday, please take the time to contact members of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee and let them know that HB198 has significant flaws and does NOT provide for public uses and as such should not allow for condemnation of private property for purely private purposes.

Information on contacting your legislators can be found here.

You can also contact the entire Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee by calling 406-444-4800 and leaving a message.

The legislative desk begins taking calls at 7:30 a.m.

Here are the members of Senate Energy and Telecommunications. The ones with a * voted NO today…and are being pressured to change their vote:
Chair: Alan Olson (R-Roundup)
Vice Chair: Verdell Jackson (R-Kalispell)
Vice Chair: Ron Erickson (D-Missoula)
*Shannon Augare (D-Browning)
*Jeff Essmann (R-Billings)
Bob Lake (R-Hamilton)
*Lynda Moss (D-Billings)
*Jason Priest (R-Red Lodge)
*Mitch Tropila (D-Great Falls)
*Kendall Van Dyk (D-Billings)
Chas Vincent (R-Libby)
Edward Walker (R-Billings)

by jhwygirl

Once again, Montana is at a crossroads of importance with regards to the amount of power our legislators will hand to a private company for private gain.

Oddly, you’d think that the concept of handing over condemnation rights for the private property of Montana citizens to a private corporations wouldn’t fly in a GOP-controlled legislature, but here we are with HB198, a bill requested by Democrat Governor Schweitzer. This ugly bill passed the House on a 69 – 30 vote on third reading (having gained a few from second reading where the vote was 56 – 44.

That’s quite a gain from second to third reading, over a period of 3 days. Clearly pressure is on.

Opposition to this bill, like support, is bi-partisan. Drum-beating House conservatives like Steve Fitzpatrick (R-Great Falls), Janna Taylor (R-Dayton), Wendy Warburton (R-Havre) and Wayne Stahl (R-Saco) voted in support of handing over condemnation rights to private corporations…..as did Democrats Robyn Driscoll (D-Billings), Carolyn Squires (D-Missoula), Betsy Hands (D-Missoula) and Mike Phillips (D-Bozeman).

So we have Republicans wanting to expand condemnation and eminent domain rights, and we have Dems handing the keys to private corporations. Both are doing so with Governor Schweitzer cheering from the sidelines.

Every hearing, along with the floor debate, has been pretty heated – rightfully so, I might add. Montana is taking its newest resource – wind – and leaving it largely unregulated (unlike coal oil gas gold silver timber and hell, even gravel and CO2 storage rights) in terms of ownership, development rights and taxation, and handing over condemnation rights for transport of this resource to private corporations.

Colonialism? Stupidity? Laziness?

It’s a disgrace of the 2011 legislature and any advocate for this bill that the solution here wasn’t to look for protections for the private property owner here in the state, but that the solution was to rewrite laws concerning eminent domain in the easiest laziest and most invasive way as possible, handing over the courts to private corporations.

A disgrace.

What’s even more disappointing is that two Missoula legislators are co-sponsors of HB198: Senators Ron Erickson and Tom Facey.

Senator Ron Erickson support is apparently unwavering. He recently told Concerned Citizens for Montana and the Northern Plains Resource Council that he intends to vote “Yes” on the bill on the “environmental promise of corporate wind.”

Really Senator Erickson? Disappointing doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt when I read that.

Maybe Erickson missed this editorial from PSC commissioner John Vincent.

Make no mistake – wheeling and dealing and some pretty serious horse trading is going on with regards to this bill. The Governor wants this bill, along with Northwestern Energy, one of Montana’s largest lobbying interests here in Montana. The money they dump into both state-level and federal-level elections is astounding. In fact, I recall a delicious steak-and-eggs breakfast in Denver 2008 that was paid for by Northwestern Energy. Don’t think that the Republicans didn’t get the same treatment at their own convention that year.

Rumor has it that this bill is such the objet d’affection of Schweitzer that he has agreed to trade his support of HB439 (a nice porky bonding bill that was fattened with an additional $7.9 million to MSU – which might explain the support coming out of the Bozeman Democrats) in order to get the votes for HB198.

The Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee is meeting tomorrow at 11 am to do executive action on HB198. The goal is to get this to the floor as quickly and with as little fanfare as possible. Chair Alan Olson (R-Roundup) believes he has has the votes necessary in his committee to move this forward. That means he believes he has the majority of these votes:
Vice Chair: Verdell Jackson (R-Kalispell)
Vice Chair: Ron Erickson (D-Missoula)
Shannon Augare (D-Browning)
Jeff Essmann (R-Billings)
Bob Lake (R-Hamilton)
Lynda Moss (D-Billings)
Jason Priest (R-Red Lodge)
Mitch Tropila (D-Great Falls)
Kendall Van Dyk (D-Billings)
Chas Vincent (R-Libby)
Edward Walker (R-Billings)

Well, boy – you’d think that looking at this, Verdell Jackson, Bob Lake and Chas Vincent would be difficult to get…and we already know that Ron Erickson has decided where he is going on this bill. Jason Priest? Isn’t he supposed to be some conservative?

And what about Democrats Linda Moss and Kendall Van Dyk?

This bill is such a mess and the politics behind it are ugly. If approved, Montanans will be talking about this bill much like we still talk about the dismantling of Montana Power into the hands of corporate ownership.

Democrats are betting on Montanans remembering this being done under the GOP controlled House and Senate, while the corporate-loving GOP is betting on being able to blame it all on Schweitzer, who will, it appears, gladly sign this bothersome behemoth into law.

In the end, it’s Montana private property owners that are on the losing end.

~~~~~
Information on contacting your legislators can be found here.

You can also contact the entire Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee by calling 406-444-4800 and leaving a message.

The legislative desk begins taking calls at 7:30 a.m.

by Pete Talbot

It was one of the broadest coalitions I’ve seen in years.

But it was hard to get crowd estimates in the rolling front yard of the Capitol — over a thousand for sure.  Folks kept pouring in from around Montana, connecting with friends and sharing the wrath.

The rally literally took off at the end: a march around the Capitol grounds with all the signs and fired-up people, just as the sun was breaking through the clouds, and to the PA playing “We’re Not Going to Take It” by Twisted Sister.

This followed the speeches which were many, but short and to the point: a Billings firefighter, a Bozeman pastor, a Missoula small business owner, a veteran, a Blackfeet Indian, to name a few.

The themes were “Courage, Not Cuts,” “These Cuts Hurt,”  “We Have the Money, Reverse the Cuts,” and “Work That Matters.”

It was an eclectic mix: ironworkers and teachers, environmentalists and health care activists, Crow and Blackfeet, emergency service workers and the disabled … and kids.

(More photos and copy below the fold.)

Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

The theme “Even MORE National Media Attention Courtesy MTGOP” is getting old, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to to anywhere.

If FOXnews is using “Bat-Crap” and “Montana” in the same headline – quoting Democratic Governor Schweitzer, nonetheless – honestly, you really should reconsider things.

Who’s running that ship? Will Deschamps? Yoy.

Not only that – if FOXnews is explaining one of your crazy bills – HB278 – this way, you should maybe go crawling back in the cave you came from:

Schweitzer did not mention Montana House Bill 278, which would authorize creating armed citizen militias able to repel invaders, presumably war-like Canadians.

Rep. Wendy Warburton, I’m sure, is proud.

by jhwygirl

Otter Creek is never going to get mined. All Arch Coal wants is to be able to run a railroad through it, to get it to the port it owns a third of. to export the stuff to China.

That is, please note, the second port agreement for Arch is less than a month.

If that isn’t colonialism, I don’t know what is.

We’re waving traffic flags for $10/hour for Korean-built drilling equipment for China….and we’re condemning state federal and private property for a railroad to get it there.

Nice.

State Attorney General Steve Bullock talked about the economics of the bonus payment in relation to the amount of money that Arch will save immediately by shipping its coal across Montana with the railroad it’d be building (via eminent domain) in the Tongue River Basin. His staff researched that information pretty thoroughly.

How is that for an example of fine government coal subsidy on the backs of the taxpayers of Montana?

And keep in mind that Montana’s coal isn’t the quality of stuff that Wyoming has. That’s fact.

That $80 million so-called “bonus bid”? Nothing more than shush money to members of both parties for paving the way to a situation that has brought about ridiculous destructive environmental legislation in the name of “jobs”.

What’s even more hilarious is that the feds are complicit in this – the federal Surface Transportation Board has already approved the route and has told Montana (translate, so no one misses it: State’s Rights) Fish Wildlife & Parks to figure things out over the route that crosses a federally-funded sturgeon fishery.

Someone’s getting rich. It won’t be Montanan’s, you can bet on it.

Follow the money.

by jhwygirl

And I know a whole lot of them were inside working…so just to make sure they don’t miss the bigger picture out there:

KGVO AM 1290 – conservative talk radio down here in Missoula – reported today that “less than a dozen protesters” were at the rally.

Reuters has even joined in, reporting that protesters were Outnumbered by the media and politicians in attendance”.

It was a gun-toting rally that had to have special permission to carry the guns on the Capital grounds.

Bring Your Gun to The Capitol Day? What is this? Show and yell? Or just a redo of Sen. Joe Balyeat riding a donkey into the rotunda during the 2009 session?

I’m going to suggest puppies and kittens next time. I’m thinking they’d draw more attention.

Which, speaking of, Reuters has a nice little slideshow (4 or 5 pics) of the freak show, including this nice pic of Tim Ravndal, Executive Director of Lewis & Clark County’s Conservative Tea Party:

Even former state representative Scott Sales, Montana director for Americans for Prosperity got into the mix.

Honestly? Maybe we should be giving the MTGOP credit for creating jobs – its practically bank now that out-of-state journalists are here to watch the show…which means they’re getting a hotel room, eating in restaurants and I’m sure enjoying some of Montana’s fine 8.75 microbrew in the 4000 foot elevation of the state capitol.

The “freak show” statement might sound harsh, but do put that in the context of the fact that there had been a rally in support of workers and middle class America held in conjunction with the freak show, yet there’s nary a mention of that protest, which drew hundreds.

And seriously – if Sarah Elliot isn’t inviting Stephen Colbert for a visit with the Governor and his buddy Jag, she isn’t thinking outside the box.

by JC

Nice! Now let’s see him put it to work.

by jhwygirl

I’ve ranted to a seemingly uninformed audience in support of Governor Schweitzer’s bill to change the way certain oil & gas revenues are distributed.

I’ve called it unfair. I’ve decried the conservatives lambasting of the proposal as further evidence of their hypocrisy towards government subsidies. I’ve complained about how it it shows an abandonment of the free market – and example of how this so-called great profitable high-paying and tons-of-jobs industry doesn’t truly support the communities from where it extracts it’s resources.

Because if there are all of these high-paying jobs, shouldn’t those high-paid employees be paying taxes that support the social infrastructure of the community?

Lee reporter Mike Dennison has a great article on the issue which includes a paragraph better summing up the message I may have failed to convey.

A handful of school districts – primarily in far eastern Montana – get millions of dollars in oil-and-gas revenue, have large financial reserves and levy zero or very few local property tax mills to support their schools.

What that oil & gas fund has done is bought the pockets of a whole bunch of legislators out east and a whole bunch of voters that don’t have to pay taxes to support their schools.

Imagine the perspective you might have if you in Missoula or in the Flathead or up in Lewis & Clark county didn’t have to pay taxes to support your schools?

Imagine the political perspective in the counties listed here if those citizens there actually had to pay “market” taxes for schools?

I’ve said a bunch of times and I’ll say it again – the mineral estate is the property of the citizens of Montana. If the state is taxing it, it belongs to everyone. It is not the property of a handful of counties with less than half of the state’s population so that they can have lower taxes and so they don’t have to support their schools.

HB136 was killed Wednesday in House Education.

It’s disgusting. It’s unfair. It’s wrong.

Governor Brian Schweitzer was correct.

On this one.




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