Archive for the ‘Gail Gutsche’ Category

by jhwygirl

Montana’s Public Service Commission voted 3-2 to keep hidden pricing information on two wind energy projects that Northwestern Energy (NWE) is considering to purchase.

The vote was a Republican/Democrat split with Bill Gallagher, Travis Kavulla and Northwestenergy tool Brad Molnar voting to keep the information from the public and Democratic commissioners Gail Gutsche of Missoula and John Vincent of Gallatin Gateway voting against the request.

NWE, located in South Dakota, is the largest utility provider in Montana. They’ve decided to buy a proposed 40-megawatt wind farm near Geyser that is being developed by Compass Wind of Denver. They had considered two other developer’s (Invenergy and Sagebrush Energy) projects.

So the PSC is going to review NWE’s purchase of Compass Wind’s project by comparing it to project information submitted by the losing developers on their losing projects? And it isn’t consumer’s right to know the costs of those projects that were in consideration.

That’s a big “Screw You” to Montanans from an agency who’s pure mission is to protect consumer interests when it comes to public utility services.

Gail Gutsche and John Vincent? Thanks.

I’ll remind everyone here that Gail Gutsche will be running for re-election in 2012 (I hope). Let’s keep her around, OK?

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by Pete Talbot

You get who you vote for

Montana’s PSC is one of the most important government bodies we have in this state. As the banner at its website reveals: energy, telecommunications, water/sewer, transportation and pipeline safety are all under its purview. Since last November’s elections and the new 3-2 Republican majority, the commission has been in turmoil. The latest dust up is being well chronicled by Pogie at Intelligent Discontent, and by the Great Falls Tribune, Lee Newspapers and the Associated Press.

But since the voters decided to return the incendiary “rogue commissioner”* Brad Molner to the commission, and replace utility expert and consumer advocate Ken Toole with utility owner Bill Gallagher, well, what do you expect?

The jury is still out on Travis Kavulla.

* Attributed to PSC Commissioner Gail Gutsche.

Denny’s going down

Rep. Denny Rehberg toed the Tea Party line when he voted against House Resolution 1473, the congressional compromise that cut $38 billion but kept the government up and running.

From the L.A. Tribune’s Washington Bureau:

The bill approved by the House and Senate Thursday will fund the government through the end of the 2011 fiscal year on Sept. 30, cutting $38 billion from environmental, health, education, job-training and other domestic programs. Despite the steep reductions, the measure didn’t go far enough for the House’s most conservative members, exposing divisions among Republicans. (Emphasis mine.)

It’s still early and anything could happen but if the Senate race isn’t already trending to Sen. Tester, I’d be surprised. Tester has been in the news a lot, lately: his wolf-delisting rider, veteran’s issues, and a wilderness bill (there are folks on both sides of the aisle upset with his wolf and wilderness stances, which indicate that they’re moderate positions). And Montanans, for the most part, are a moderate lot, which bodes well for Tester.

Rehberg has done nothing of note (besides casting Tea Party votes) and therefore hasn’t been getting much press, either good or bad, which goes to the old political axiom: I don’t care what you write about me, just spell my name right.

And I was so worried that Gadhafi would appear on the ballot

Some Montana legislators have offered up crazy stuff this session but most of the bills have died in committee, on the floor or have been vetoed by the governor. Not so in Arizona, where a bill promoted by the “birthers” is on the Arizona Governor’s desk awaiting her signature — and it’s possible the socially-conservative Republican governor will sign it. The bill demands proof of U.S citizenship before allowing presidential candidates on the ballot, and Arizona wants to see hospital records, baptismal certificates or circumcision records, along with other affidavits.

Always good to see that Montana’s legislature hasn’t cornered the market on wacky.

by Pete Talbot

Special session?

There are rumors in Helena that this session could end early.  It’s all coming down to the budget, now, and since the Republicans aren’t accepting any amendments or, really, compromising on anything, their budget proposal will head straight to the governor. Schweitzer will veto it.  That pretty much guarantees an early out — I’ve heard April 2 instead of the scheduled April 21 end date — and a special session.  Thanks, GOP, for not reaching across the aisle and getting the people’s business done in 90 days … and costing the state more money in a special session.

Champ is still a chump

They don’t mind spending money on a special session but are loathe to spend money on children, Montana college kids, seniors and the poor.  Republican Champ Edmunds (HD-100) has a letter to the editor today that plays fast-and-loose with the facts-and-figures in explaining the Republican budget.

A more accurate description comes from Democrat Carol Williams (SD-46):

“The Governor’s budget is balanced, funds critical services and maintains the second largest savings account in Montana history.  The Republican budget is balanced on the backs of women, children and seniors.  Republicans took an ax to the budget when we have money in the bank,” she said.  “I had hoped that we would be able to say to Montana’s families: we’re going to take care of your children if they get sick, make sure you put food on your table, and keep your homes warm.  But the Republican majority turned a deaf ear to the pleas of Montanans who came before the committee asking for services to be restored.”

Here are some of the facts:

* $206.2 million in cuts to the Montana families, kids, students, and seniors

* $49 million eliminated from Medicaid which would result in 4,084 babies losing coverage.

* $34.9 million cut from SNAP/Food Assistance impacting 53,000 kids, 30,000 seniors, and 42,000 adults who would go without food benefits for two months.

* $35 million rejected in healthcare information technology for 47 critical access hospitals in rural areas across the state.

* $26 million slashed from Healthy Montana Kids that would boot 5,000 children off of health insurance.

* $9.6 million removed from LIEAP that will force 12,000 families to go without heating assistance the next two winters.

* $4.7 million cut from family services eliminating services used by over 27,000 Montana families every year for healthcare, screenings and reproductive care.

* $32 million in cuts to higher education, which will result in a tuition increase of 26% over the next two years.

Williams added that with the $174.2 million in cuts to the Health and Human Services budget, Republicans turned back over $80 million in federal money, which could go to other states.  She also noted that the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana estimates that for every $10 million cut in healthcare, about 144 jobs are lost.  These cuts could result in a loss of over 2,508 healthcare jobs.

The tale of two headlines

I’ve been visiting the Magic City of Billings and reading the Billings Gazette. Here was the Front Page, above the fold, headline on Sunday:

Poll: Tightening up medical marijuana law preferable to repeal

When I checked my hometown paper, the Missoulian, here was its Front Page headline:

Most Favor Repeal

And it had a subhead that read: Lee Newspaper poll shows that 52 percent support dumping law.

Here’s the story, and while the Missoulian headline is technically correct, if you read the entire piece you’ll notice that if not given any other choice, yeah, Montanans would be in favor of a repeal. But, if given the option, 57 percent backed stricter regulations and licensing requirements, while 31 percent wanted to repeal the law and 11 percent favored keeping the current law intact.  So basically, 68 percent don’t favor repeal.

The Gazette got it right.  Missoulian: that’s lazy headline writing.

Molnar screws Missoula

I was pleasantly surprised when two of the three Republicans on the PSC voted to allow the Clark Fork Coalition “intervenor status” in the review of Mountain Water’s sale to the Carlyle Group, a private global investment firm.  Republicans Bill Gallagher and Travis Kavulla joined Democrats Gail Gutsche and John Vincent in the votes.  Volatile Republican Brad Molnar voted against CFC in intervening on behalf of Missoula water drinkers saying, “it’s a purchase issue and they don’t have standing.”  Thanks, four out of five, for voting (initially at least) in Missoula’s interest.  The Garden City needs all the friends it can get while battling this international conglomerate.

Some newspaper kudos

I’m one of the first to throw brickbats at our state’s newspapers. We are, however, extremely fortunate to have veteran Lee Newspaper reporters Mike Dennison and Chuck Johnson covering the state capitol.  An unscientific poll over at LiTW (you’ll have to scroll down a little) has blogs being the first source for information on the Montana Legislature — among bloggers, naturally.  That’s a nice ego stroke but I still continue to turn to seasoned reporters as my first source for news and analysis. Then I go to the blogs.  (I particularly respect anything Dennison writes on health care issues.  His Montana perspective on the effects of the national health care debate has been Pulitzer Prize calibre IMHO.)

John Adams of the Great Falls Tribune has done some outstanding legislative reporting although I don’t follow him as much.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day.  Same with Montana Public Radio.  Thank you, all, and keep up the good work.

by jhwygirl

Not exactly a classy way to go out the door, posting this:

o-shit
I guess if he doesn’t give a you-know-what, why should I?

Doug “woe-is-me” Mood fails to recognize that quite possibly his loss was tied to his lack of support for green and alternative energy or his infamous vote while in the legislature which led to deregulation of Montana Power – and what observers around the nation recognize as a massive catastrophic mistake for the citizens of Montana. Instead blames it on Missoulians:

I managed to put together a majority of the votes in every county of the PSC District,…except Missoula. Coming out of Missoula County I was 11,400 votes behind. In the rest of the district I was ahead by 8000 votes.

My opponent got 15,359 votes in the non-Missoula counties, and 32,616 in Missoula County (two thirds of her total vote).

I got 23,359 votes in the non-Missoula counties and 21,222 votes in Missoula county.

I want to thank all the voters of District who have so kindly given me their support over the past many years. Perhaps we’ll meet again.

Oh, those crazy Missoulians….

You know, maybe – just perhaps – the voters in PSC district 4 recognized that Gail Gutsche would use her time in the PSC to seek to expand development of renewable and clean energy sources while recovering low cost options and ensure that we have low energy prices while doing it?

In other words – maybe Gail Gutsche was the best candidate.

Mood also takes the time to post a full map of the United States, showing the winner of the presidential race, county by county, democrat v republican. How that correlates with his loss in the PSC, well, let’s just say that’s lost upon me. Be sure to check it out.

On the other hand, it looks like Bill Clinton has gotten a reprieve from being blamed for everything. I’m sure he’s relieved.

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 Pete Talbot

PSC candidate Doug Mood voted against Missoula’s Green Taxi. While this isn’t as big an issue as, say, his vote to deregulate Montana Power when he was in the legislature, it tells us a lot about his mindset.

The Montana Public Service Commission regulates a bunch of stuff, including public transportation: buses, taxis and the like. Along with fellow regressive Brad Molnar, incumbent Mood said “no” to granting a permit to Green Taxi. Fortunately, the other three commissioners said “yes.”

I spoke to a visitor who had just taken the Green Taxi. His name is David Payne and he was in town to speak about “sustainable venturing.” He’s a professor and consultant on sustainable business issues, and talks to folks in the organic food, green building and alternative energy industries. He was checking out some of Missoula’s green ventures.

He said that the taxi got 43 mpg around town, in stop-and-go traffic, with the air conditioning on.

Now this alone may not make us energy independent or reverse climate change, but it’s the kind of trend that will drive a new wave of entrepreneurs, and Lord knows, we could use a little innovative thinking in this stalled economy.

Of course, we’ll need some leadership, and some progressive legislation, to advance this sort of thinking. Doug Mood isn’t the guy for the job.

His opponent, Gail Gutsche, has the vision needed to navigate these new, rough energy, economic and envionmental waters. Remember her at the polls Nov. 4.




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