Archive for the ‘Missoula County Democrats’ Category

by jhwygirl

By now most of you are aware of Missoula County sheriff candidate Democrat TJ McDermott’s violation of Montana campaign finance laws.

It wasn’t until I read that Missoulian story that I realized how much breaking of the law that was occurring. Yikes. An officer of the law sheriff taking cash value favors and gifts like that from lawyers? If that doesn’t raise a few troubling questions…then there’s the matter of who the firm is: Shouldn’t Datsopoulos Macdonald & Lind know better?

KGVO has the morning radio talk show Talk Back from about 8:15 to 9 a.m. daily. I can’t always catch it, but I try. I usually do catch at least a few minutes of it each day. Today I caught most of it, and KGVO’s Peter Christian and John King had interim Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl on the show, from the airport he was preparing to fly out of.

Today’s (October 9th’s) podcast isn’t up yet, but check back, because I should think that anyone interested in campaign finance would want to hear what he had to say. Motl spoke specifically about his two decisions – one being Clark v. Datsopoulos Macdonald Lind PC and TJ McDermott and the other being Clark v. TJ McDermott.

One of the best take-away’s from that aspect of the show – and in regards, specifically, to Datsopoulos Macdonald and Lind’s role in campaign law violations – was his equation with what Datsopoulos Macdonald and Lind did to what Western Traditions Partnership did for a long list of state GOP legislative candidates a few years back.

The other aspect of the show went into what (I’m going to paraphrase here because the podcast isn’t up) he viewed as what was fairly uniquely Missoula’s less-than-thorough approach to political campaign finance laws. KGVO’s John King has that story up, and again – if you’re interested in Montana campaign finance (if not Missoula) – you should take the time to listen to October 9th’s podcast once it gets up.

KGVO must of caught up later with Molly Howard, a shareholder with Datsopoulos Macdonald and Lind – and Peter Christian posted the response from the law firm. And, you know, after having read the news stories and both findings from Motl (links above), I don’t think Datsopoulos recognizes the seriousness of their violation of state finance law. Howard frames the violation of campaign finance laws simple errors in the “reporting of in-kind contributions” – along with changes in how Motl is defining those in-kind campaign contributions.

Thing is, when I read Motl’s decision involving Datsopoulos, et.al.’s violations, he lays it out pretty clearly that it isn’t merely the failure to report the donations, but the fact that what they are doing requires them to register as a political committee, first.

During this whole investigation, TJ McDermott has already returned some cash back to Datsopoulos, Datsopoulos has yet to register as a political committee.

McDermott frames it as a bookkeeping error, while already having returned money (that’s more than just a failure to report) and Datsopoulos Macdonald and Lind calls it a “reporting error” when it really is a failure to register as a political committee and then, on top of that, error in reporting the donations that the currently non-existing political committee made.

Downplaying violations of state campaign finance laws isn’t a very honorable or responsible thing. All parties should be straight-up owning up to it. As I see it, both McDermott and Datsopoulos Macdonald and Lind seem to fail to recognize the severity of their violation of law.

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by Pete Talbot

[What’s an emptive?  Lizard says he’s posted a preemptive strike (below this post) to a piece I’ve been working on.  Well, here’s my postemptive.  I’m finishing something I’ve started; not my strong suit.  Damn you, lizard.]

No one really needs me to defend this site.  The contributors do a fine job of responding to comments and criticism, and they even show a little introspection from time-to-time.

But I found this in my inbox a few days ago from someone I respect. For my own reasons, I’ll keep it anonymous but here’s the gist:

I hope you’re following what is going on at 4 and 20 these days.

It seems that there isn’t a Democrat they “like” anymore. Literally, not one.

I’ve been a lurking b’birder from the beginning but I think I finally may let it go.

I mean they’re even going after Pat Williams. I think we’ve got Senator Essman and the Montana Republican party doing enough of that, don’t we?

He/she has a point. This site has made many twists and turns over the years.  It started Democratically-centric, particularly in Jon Tester’s successful bid to unseat Sen. Conrad Burns in 2006. 4&20 has had many contributors since then from all stripes left of center, but it belongs to no one. The opinions are those of the writers and I appreciate them all. There are sites that espouse party line — left, right and center — and I’m grateful for those, too.

Now, the 4&20 reins are in lizard’s hands.  It’s great to see jhwy.girl in the mix again and a post now-and-then from JC.  But this not the site to visit if you’re looking for party talking points. After our founding father, Jay Stevens, I’m the closest to a Democratic apologist and I seldom post anymore.

I enjoy the unbridled ideology this site brings to the ‘sphere.  I can’t always embrace it because of life’s realities.  Example: I’m against coal trains, tar sands, the rape of the Bakken and the Keystone XL Pipeline.  If this was my platform for an upcoming bid for statewide office, how would I fare?  Piss poor, and having just returned from the Magic City, Montana’s largest berg,  where I did some unscientific polling, I say this with conviction.

So, I’ll continue to straddle that line between idealism and pragmatism while  absorbing the musings from the blogs, and hoping we lean to the left as far as feasible in this great state of ours.

by jhwygirl

SB196 was heard on second reading today on the floor of the senate, having passed state senate judiciary on a 9-3 vote.

In a nutshell, the bill prohibits the use of drones by the government unless a warrant is issued or some other judicial process takes place. It also prohibits the use of information illegally obtained through the use of drones.

The bill, proposed by Glendive’s Sen. Matthew Rosendale, a Republican, received bipartisan support, passing second reading 29-19.

All of Missoula’s senators supported the bill – – except for Sue Malek – See her NO vote?

Who knew the Rattlesnake, East Missoula, Bonner and Clinton people were fine with warrantless government drones?

Crazy, huh?

by Pete Talbot

Consider this an open thread because I’d like others’ insights into this race.

Here’s my rather rambling take on Montana’s U.S. House race.  The candidates are Kim Gillan, a state senator out of Billings; Diane Smith, a newcomer from Whitefish; Dave Strohmaier, a Missoula City Councilor; Helena lawyer Rob Stutz; and Franke Wilmer, a state representative from Bozeman. Jason Ward of Hardin has also filed but doesn’t seem to be actively campaigning.  Melinda Gopher is also rumored to be a candidate but she hasn’t filed yet. The FEC has John Abarr filed as a Democrat but since the former Ku Klux Klan organizer has dropped out, I won’t go there.

First, the money side of the equation as of Dec. 31, date of the last filing report:

Name Total Contributions (from time announced running until Dec. 31, 2011) Fourth Quarter contributions (October – Dec. 31, 2011)
Steve Daines, R $953,505 $173,315.68
Kim Gillan, D $175,159 $52,014.76
Franke Wilmer, D $154,877 $55,260.93
Diane Smith, D $100,033 $100,033
Dave Strohmaier, D 72,151 $23,080.24
Robert Stutz, D $13,315 $3,265

Republican Steve Daines, the basically unopposed millionaire, has more campaign money than all the Democrats put together but that’s not the focus of this piece.

Democrat Diane Smith wasn’t at the ‘Pasty Party’ held in Missoula Sunday night and sponsored by the Missoula County Democrats. Gillan, Strohmaier, Stutz and Wilmer were, and they all spoke.

So I don’t have any personal experience with Smith but there’s this: she has about $75 grand in the bank (I like round numbers, so let’s say $100K raised and $25K spent).  She’s only been in the race since November so that’s a pretty good chunk of change she’s raised.  Smith touts her support of gay and choice issues but stresses her fiscally conservative business roots.  She received a few contributions from Whitefish and Bigfork but the majority of her money comes from the D.C. area, where she was in the telecommunications business.  The Flathead Memo has an interesting piece on the lack of transparency from Smith’s contributors.

The Memo also has stories on Smith’s past contributions to Republican candidates here and here.  It may not be a big problem in the general election but she has to get through the primary where the committed Democratic voters take a dimmer view of this.

Next up in the fundraising department is Kim Gillan with about $100 grand left in the bank.  She’s on top of the Democratic contribution heap with $176K raised.  She spoke at the ‘Pasty Party’ about her experience in the Montana Legislature and struck a moderate tone.  Lots of current and former legislators greeted her warmly.

Will Gillan split the moderate vote with Smith?  Maybe, somewhat. There are a lot more Democrats in Billings than there are in the Flathead, though, and name recognition will play a role.

The other aspect is that progressives tend to turn out for the primaries so maybe a moderate doesn’t have the leg up that they’d have in the general.

And there’s the Missoula factor: more registered Democratic voters in this county than any other Montana County.  Will Missoula Democrats turn out?  Will they vote for the hometown boy?

Which brings me to Dave Strohmaier, who has $15 grand in the bank.  He’s raised $72K.  The most passionate speaker at the ‘Pasty Party,’ he trotted out his local government credentials, his advocacy for a southern-tier passenger rail line and his strong support of GLBT issues.  Strohmeier was well received by the audience, the enthusiasm palpable, but it was his hometown crowd.

Rob Stutz spoke next.  His campaign isn’t taking any PAC money, which is admirable, and he advanced that.  Tough call, though, not taking the PAC money one might need to tell supporters he’s not taking PAC money.

Stutz has raised $13 grand and has about $6K left in the bank.

He also says his unique campaign has the best chance of beating Daines in November, although I’m sure the other candidates feel the same way.

Franke Wilmer spoke last, about international policy — which is refreshing because most congressional candidates gloss over this — but I’m not sure how this plays to the masses.  She also offered her blue-collar roots and experience in the Montana Legislature as references.  She’s the only candidate to come out publicly against the Keystone XL Pipeline (as opposed to our governor and congressional delegation) and that shows some chutzpah.  Wilmer received the second-most enthusiastic response from the crowd.

She’s raised a good amount of cash, $155 grand, and has $55K in the bank.

So it’s in play: a Missoula progressive, with less money but in a heavy Democratic county against a Bozeman progressive with more money but in a county with fewer Democratic voters.  The conventional wisdom is that being tagged ‘Missoula’ is harder to overcome in the rest of the state than being tagged ‘Bozeman.’

Then there are the moderates, Gillan and Smith, although Gillan has paid her dues in the legislature and with the party.  Both say that a moderate — someone who can work across the aisle — has the best chance of beating Daines in the general.

And then there’s Rob Stutz, who could peel away enough votes to be a spoiler in all four of the above-mentioned races.

In a primary like this, the most organized campaign with the best media and strongest ground game should come out on top. Moderation, money, passion and principles — and the candidates’ message — are important, too, but with this many in the field, it will be hard to get a message to resonate with anyone other than those who follow politics closely.

Any one of these candidates would be a vast improvement over either Rehberg or Daines, but you know that.

No primary endorsements from me here, just some info.  I await your comments with bated breath.  With your help, I’ll do more and better handicapping soon.

by jhwygirl

Missoula County Democrats will be hosting the city’s first candidate forum Tuesday night, 7 p.m., at City Council chambers on W. Pine, next to Sean Kelly’s pub.

Boy – they’ve done quite an update of their website and that link provides you with lots of information on the candidates – including links to a questionnaire that they were asked to return.

This is the first opportunity Missoulian have – and the candidates too – to meet and interact in a public forum. As new chair Starla Gade note on their website “ALL CANDIDATES were offered the opportunity to attend and to complete and turn in a Candidate Questionnaire. The candidates that stated they wern’t available were also offered an opportunity to speak at our September Central Committee Meeting.”

As of this posting, only Caitlin Copple (Ward 4) and Alex Taft (Ward 3) have accepted that offer at this time.

I look forward to seeing what the candidates have to say on all kinds of issues.

by jhwygirl

Congratulations are in order for Starla Gade, newly elected chair of the Missoula County Democrats. I happen to know Starla and she is a wonderful progressive and extremely effective organizer. I expect great things. In fact, I’m sure of them.

This month’s meeting – the Missoula County Democrats Central Committee Meeting – appears to be an example of new and great things. Moved from the normal city hall location, it is being held at the Union Club where they will be joined by members of the Labor Movement who will discuss the challenges facing working America.

The Missoula County Democrats Central Committee Meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Tonight’s meeting coincides with the return of Forward Montana’s Progressive Happy Hour, themed Weed Wacker: The Future of Medical Marijuana in Montana.

Progressive Happy Hour starts at 5 p.m. at The Central Bar & Grill on W. Broadway.

Democrats discussing labor at the Union Club? Sounds like fun times to me.

by Pete Talbot

Missoula County Democrats held the traditional transmittal potluck dinner Sunday evening at University Congregational Church, recognizing the work Missoula’s delegation has done at the halfway point of this legislative session. Our state representatives and senators updated the crowd and took questions.

Before my take on their message, here are some general impressions:

About 150 folks attended and the food flowed. The mood was upbeat — which is what everyone needed after a brutal first half. The mix — the usual suspects and the new, younger faces; the organizers, the party faithful, some newbies — were there to support the daunting work the delegation has done to date. Legislators were happy to look out over a sea of friendly faces, which has not been a common occurrence for them in Helena.

I counted ten Missoula area legislators. I didn’t go there to take notes, so these are rough observations.

One of the big concerns was the number of referendums that could appear on the 2012 ballot. You know, some of those wacky bills that didn’t make it out of the legislature or were vetoed by the governor: nullification, the assualts on the environment, land use, abortion rights, etc.

Just what Montana needs, a dozen unconstitutional, anti-voter and just plain silly referendums that will clutter the ballot. The far right will continue pushing regressive legislation long after this session is over.

And enough crazy bills have already been introduced that they’re getting national attention, something the Missoula delegation noted: most Montanans don’t like the negative publicity.

Also, legislators mentioned some of the bad bills that could cost the state millions in federal dollars; which doesn’t seem to upset the Teapublicans. Health, human services, and environmental programs that generate funding and jobs; all looking at cuts.

And then there’s education, especially higher education (when we need it the most). More cuts.

Our legislators noted they’d been able to kill some of the most heinous bills. The delegation has been holding together well. They’re not in lock step, though, as evidenced in their varying support on eminent domain bills.

Many Missoula ordiances are under attack, and legislators noted the irony of the anti-big governement forces that advocate for local control and then dismiss the will of Missoula voters.

Budget issues are coming up in the next 45 days. There’s the governor’s budget, the legislative analysist’s budget and the Republican budget; the Republican budget being the most pessimistic and least forward thinking, as usual.

I’m just scratching the surface but here’s what I came away with: Keep those Capitol visits, emails and phone calls coming. Write a letter to the editor. Get ready to work hard on the 2012 elections.

And from me: support your Missoula Area legislators — they’re doing as good a job as is humanly possible up there in Helena.

by Pete Talbot

I was hoping the pundits and polls were wrong, but they weren’t. What is even more depressing is that Montana followed the national trend of moving to the right. In some cases, moving to the far right.

Let’s start with the PSC races. The Republicans now have a majority on the commission that regulates most of the utilities in our state. Expect looser reins on industry, fewer renewables, a greater emphasis on coal and a short-sighted energy policy. Consumer protection will take a hit, too.

Two veterans, Democratic PSC incumbent Ken Toole and former Democratic State Senator Don Ryan, lost their bids to Republican newcomers Bill Gallagher and Travis Kavulla, respectively. Toole ran a strong campaign — raised money, bought media, worked the district — but it wasn’t enough to overcome the “radical” tag that Gallagher hung on him. And you can also thank Flathead County voters for helping to take Toole down. May their utility rates increase tenfold.

In the other PSC race, let’s face it, Kavulla campaigned harder and raised more money than Ryan in what is basically a Hi-Line district. Even Great falls went for Kavulla.

Democrats lost big in the Montana legislature. Keep on eye on Billings’ Senate District 25, though, where Democrat Kendall Van Dyk is trailing Republican Roy Brown by one vote. Update from Billings Girl: “Last night when the votes were counted. Van Dyk was leading Brown by one vote, not trailing. And after some provisionals were added he is now up by 16. He has stayed ahead the entire time.” Kudos to Kendall.

My math may be a little off but I have the Montana House at 69 68 Republicans to 31 32 Democrats and the senate at 28 Republicans to 21 22 Democrats (the 50th seat to be decided by the Van Dyk/Brown race).

There were a few bright spots but more disappointments. On the upside, in my house district (92), Democrat Bryce Bennett won a close race against Republican Don Harbaugh, 2201-2072.

Two big letdowns. Democrat Willis Curdy losing House District 100 to Republican Champ Edmunds, 1858-1606. Curdy had a great profile and worked his ass off. I don’t know if we’ll ever pick up that seat, which is too bad, because otherwise Missoula County would be an all Democratic delegation.

It was also sad to see Bozeman’s JP Pomnichowski (D) lose to Tom Burnett (R) in HD 63 by 2682-2618.

Glad to see Beth Baker win the Montana Supreme Court race against Nels Swandal.

Finally, after all the “kick out the incumbent bums” election rhetoric, one of the biggest bums had an easy win: Denny Rehberg (around 60% of the vote) against Dennis McDonald (about 34% of the vote). Libertarian Mike Fellows got about 6%.

My take on the elections is that voters are frustrated by the party in power for not fixing things and that trickled down to the Montana races. But what a mess the Democrats were handed, and the voters must be smoking a lot of medical marijuana because their short term memory is shot.

It could also be a disgust with party politics in general as witnessed by the election of an Independent as sheriff (Carl Ibsen) here in Democratic Missoula County. It should also be noted that McDonald even lost Missoula County. It was only by 198 votes out of 34,892 but WTF?

I’ll try to get a post up later on the Montana ballot initiatives (I went 50-50 on those).

But I won’t even get into the national stuff, and I have no further pithy analysis or keen insights into this mid-term disaster, but here are some links to a few Montana folks who do:

http://leftinthewest.com/diary/4450/it-still-hurts-in-the-morning

https://4and20blackbirds.wordpress.com/2010/11/02/how-did-it-all-go-so-wrong/

http://www.newwest.net/topic/article/gop_scores_big_in_west/C37/L37/


by Pete Talbot

No breaking news here. This is a short story about Missoula in the ’90s and an alternative party. It was called the New Party and I was a member.

Lately, there has been a lot of venting, some with good reason, over Democratic disappointments: from Obama to Baucus to Tester to Schweitzer. This talk inevitably leads to a call for a third party.

Here’s a very personal third party experience:

After watching a majority of Democrats on city council vote against sustainable land-use planning, affordable housing, a city-wide living wage and numerous other progressive measures, I heard about a third party being formed. I had attended a Missoula County Democratic Central Committee meeting; made up of mostly good old boys and girls whose main concern was where to hold the party’s summer picnic. Then I went to a New Party meeting. Energetic folks from all walks of life were talking strategy: how to recruit and win campaigns, what good policy was and how to achieve it, how to do outreach to the disenfranchised, and much more. I was hooked.

It worked well, for awhile. Missoula’s New Party had four-of-twelve seats on council. With sympathetic votes from two-or-three other councilors, and even the mayor, progressive legislation was enacted.

New Party Icon

A Fair Economy.
A Real Democracy.
A New Party.

We had, at the least, a half-a-dozen year run. Missoula was the better for it.

There were other New Party chapters in places like the Twin Cities and Madison, Wis.; Little Rock, Maryland, Chicago and New York.

I went to a few workshops and conventions. I bunked with Hispanic and African-American activists. I heard from some of the best of the left, folks from outside Montana’s typical political circles. I even met Barrack Obama at a Chicago meeting when he was running for the Illinois Legislature (he was endorsed by the New Party).

And what struck me was how connected we were, all hoping for the same things — things that the Democratic Party had promised: decent health care and a good education; peace; gender, social and economic equality for all. It was transforming.

New Party principles were basically stripped down Democratic principles.

The demise of the New Party started with a Supreme Court decision against fusion voting, in a 6-3 ruling that said folks couldn’t vote on more than one party line.

(Fusion voting wasn’t an easy sell — more complicated to explain than our ingrained two-party system — but it’s actually pretty straightforward. The State of New York does it successfully. Here’s how it would work.)

The SCOTUS decision and some other factors killed the New Party in Missoula. There were a couple of hard-fought contests that the NP lost by small margins, which took some wind out of our sails. And, of course, leadership in the two major parties vilified the New Party, occasionally joining ranks to defeat a New Party candidate. NP membership started drifting away toward other, more specific causes, such as smart growth, gay rights, economic justice, and labor and environmental issues.

I turned my attention to the Democratic Party in hopes of building coalitions and advancing progressive policy. At the time, the state Democratic Party was on the ropes: a Republican governor, and Republican majorities in both chambers. We fared a bit better on the congressional landscape with Pat Williams and Max Baucus, but they had their foils in Ron Marlenee, Rick Hill, Conrad Burns and Denny Rehberg.

Party conventions were sparsely attended. (I was actually elected to the state’s executive board because I was the only person running for the western district seat.) But Democrats made a comeback, picking up seats in both the state house and senate, some statewide offices and finally governor and our other U.S. Senate seat. Nothing like winning to help build the party. So now there’s a machine, and probably not a lot of room for questioning and dissension in the ranks, or for perceived interlopers such as myself.

After reading this account, one might think I have a great fondness for third parties. I do. But I’m not willing to give up on the Democrats, yet.

Montana’s perennial candidate Bob Kelleher (D,R,G) wanted a parliamentary system of government — with its multiple parties and coalition building inherent in that system. Perhaps not a bad idea. But since that isn’t likely to happen in my lifetime, I’ll keep working, and pushing reform when necessary, for the party that best represents the people.

Corporate domination of politics has to be reigned in. We need strong campaign finance reform and lobbyists need to be subservient to legislators, not vice-versa.

Then, maybe, citizens will have renewed faith in and accountability from their elected officials.

The populist movement of the late 1800s came about because the difference in the two major parties at that time was minuscule. Let’s hope that message hasn’t been lost on Democratic Party leadership. As should be obvious, the electorate really wants the change that was promised in 2008. Please, pay attention.

by Pete Talbot

Knowing nothing of Melinda Gopher before the forum, I was impressed by her depth, her knowledge of the issues and, mostly, her passion.

When asked why she hadn’t filed yet and why her campaign was, at this point, lower key than the other two candidates’ campaigns, she responded, “I’m building intrigue.”

I wouldn’t call her the “winner.” All three Democratic Congressional candidates showed their strengths but Gopher gets the inspiration award. And, of course, any one of the three would be so superior to our current Congressman.

Dennis McDonald talked about his credentials, his ranching experience, his support from organized labor and his ability to work across the aisle. He also emulates the Schweitzer/Montana populist style in his campaign persona.

Tyler Gernant billed himself as an outsider — a young newcomer who touts “life experience over political experience” and “represents everything that isn’t Washington.” He called himself “the anti-incumbent.”

This was the first forum to be held where all three candidates attended. It was sponsored by the Missoula County Democrats and about 75 people showed up for the 90 minute presentation.

Gernant seemed to me to have the tightest policy proposals, from taxation to trade to the deficit. A Republican fellow I ran into at the forum said the he was the most impressed by Gernant, for what that’s worth.

McDonald had a strong opening stump speech. He’s the party’s highest profile candidate and is adapting to his role. But he also wasn’t above questioning the party status quo — he had problems with the Tester wilderness bill and was aggressive on health care reform.

Gopher talked about growing up on Hill 57 in Great Falls (I’d never heard of it — doesn’t sound like one of the Electric City’s most prestigious neighborhoods). The sixth of seven children, she called herself a “scrapper.”

All three were strong pro-choice supporters. All three opened with jobs being a priority. All three expressed disappointment with our current energy policy.

And all three were gracious toward each other, although Gopher, sitting in the middle, said with a smile that she was ready to take on Rep. Rehberg, “as soon as I dispatch these two guys sitting next to me,” which got a chuckle.

Here’s some other info I gleaned: Gopher said she wanted to “steer the Democrats back on track.” McDonald made local references to the closing of Smurfit and Macy’s — always a good move. Gernant touted a pay-as-you-go policy to rein in debt.

Gernant spoke of this being a “transformational time” to change how business is conducted in Washington, and that he’s poised to take on the challenge. He said it’s time to “move away from divisive politics” and become actively involved in finding solutions.

McDonald mentioned that he’s visited all 56 counties in Montana, shaken a lot of hands, and his work effort and “lifetime commitment” to Democratic policies make him the best candidate to take on Rehberg. He also said his main platform would be “empowering people.”

Gopher advocated for single-payer health care, tackled immigration reform and disparaged our continued role in questionable wars. She also called herself “the most improbable candidate.”

A final note. As I’ve said time-and-time again, I am not a reporter. If you want more accurate quotes, a more objective view and more depth, tune into MCAT’s channel 11 on Sunday, March 14, at 8 p.m. for a replay of the event.

by jhwygirl

I’d been waiting….frankly, I was a little concerned that he might be recruited by some org in the private sector, and we’d loose a legislative superstar.

Senator Dave Wanzenried announced on Wednesday that he would be once again seeking the senate seat in senate district 49.

Wanzenried currently sits on several senate committees: Finance and Claims, Highways and Transportation, Natural Resources and Rules committees. He is also on the Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.

In 2007-2008, he chaired the Environmental Quality Council, a product of the Montana Environmental Protection Act in our state constitution. He’s now moved over to vice-chair the Water Policy interim committee.

Ya’all know how I feel about water and natural resource issues.

Which brings me to reference the Missoulian article on his announcement. The article points to two issues Wanzenried highlighted. One being the value of small business to Montana’s economy, and fostering an environment that both bolsters business and enhances expansion.

The other? Water. Wanzenried is committed to solving Montana’s water issues. Issues and events are bringing water issues to an apex or a disaster, depending on your perspective. Here’s the senator on the issue:

“As water flows decline while the demand for water increases, there will be tensions amongst a large number of users: agriculture; municipal, hydroelectric, recreationists, fisheries,” he said. “In our efforts to plan for a drier future, we must preserve the rights of senior water rights holders, the cornerstone of Montana water law.”

by jhwygirl

Looks like HD94 candidate goddess Ellie Hill has her campaign website up and running, and it sure looks nice.

She must know a fabulous photographer. The photographs are beautiful (as was her Christmas card photo).

Go check it out. While you’re there, drop her a Jackson….because you know Ellie Hill is a good investment.

She has an expansive working knowledge of veterans issues. So much so, that her work with the Pov was not only discussed in committee by Sen. Jon Tester (who was testifying in a Senate committee on proposed legislation), but members of that committee asked plenty of questions about how an org like the Pov functions. When a respected Senator like Jon Tester testifies on veterans issues and mentions the Missoula Poverello Center as a shining example of an underfunded and overcapacity service provider for veterans, other senators listen.

Montana has more veterans per capita than any other state. Her knowledge in that regards would substantially benefit veterans in terms of addressing legislation.

She also has quite an amount of expertise on social service issues. This is in direct relation to her understanding of veterans issues. She knows what works and what doesnt. What wastes money, and what is effective. With the limited funds available in those regards, it’s important that taxpayers get value for whatever they spend there. Again – Ellie Hill is an asset.

I don’t know all Ellie’s issues – I don’t need to.

What I do know is that veteran’s issues are important to me and they’re important to Montana. Homelessness goes hand in hand there with veteran’s issues, since statistics show nearly 30% can be veterans. Food, shelter, mental and physical health care is all important stuff in those regards. When the legislature is addressing these issues, I know that Ellie Hill is able to address those issues like the professional she is.

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

Missoula County Commissioners will be meeting Wednesday at 10:30 a.m, in room 201 at the County Courthouse to further discuss the revisions to the polling closure and precinct consolidation proposal.

As some may recall, the Missoula Board of County Commission met December 16th to a packed hearing of people concerned about the proposal to not only consolidate precincts, but to consolidate and close polling stations. Quite a number of state legislators attended, as I recall – Michele Reinhardt, Ron Erickson, Carol Squires, Dick Barrett (to name a few), voicing their concerns along with about 80 others.

48 hours later there was a new plan. The main page at the County’s Election webpage has both proposals, and is indicating that it will take comment through January 7.

In all fairness, it’s been posted (as indicated) since the Friday before Christmas, so I’m sorry I missed this (holidays and all).

Missoula County Democrats have submitted public comment to the county’s proposal, calling for a more thoughful analysis of what to close by looking at things like the demographics and public transportation and ADA accessibility.

Makes sense to me.

December 28, 2009

Commissioners Carey, Curtiss and Landquist and Clerk and Recorder Zeier,

Voting is a fundamental democratic right and you are the custodians of that right. The importance of accessible and open elections requires a higher level of scrutiny for decisions that change voting procedures than for other changes in county policy. We appreciate your recognition of this with the public hearing scheduled in December and the plan revised in response to public comment. We have some remaining questions, relevant to both the consolidations proposed this year and to any future moves toward all mail-in ballots for federal elections.

Any plan to close polling places should evaluate whose polling places are being closed. Closures prompted by the amount of floor space available or the quality of ADA facilities may—quite apart from whatever prompted them—disproportionally affect segments of the electorate already at a disadvantage. Specifically, we request mapping the poll closures against income and age data from the census as well as the Urban Fringe Development Area’s transportation suitability map. If data is available on the distribution of households headed by a single parent, this is another factor that should be mapped against proposed closures.

We need to be sure changes in election procedures don’t make voting more difficult for people who already have it rough and that we don’t push services into areas of the county where fewer people will be able to access them. The only way to do that is to be thorough in our analysis, incorporating available demographic data in service of informed and deliberate decision-making.

Because the decision to close polling places is really a series of decisions to close a number of polling places, an itemized list of savings by closure should also be part of molding the proposals into a plan. The initial proposal considered at the public hearing, and the revised proposal since released, each suggest an overall savings figure. We request a spreadsheet detailing the cost of keeping open each one of the polling places slated for closure, allocating the additional expenses between judges, ballot printing and other requirements. How much we save for the access we’re giving up ought to be clear.

Administering elections is not just any administrative task. We ask you to perform your duty by diligently considering those whose ability to give consent to be governed might be diminished by changing the way elections are conducted. Only then can we know whether the monetary savings expected are worth the potential costs.

Respectfully,

Missoula County Democrats Executive Board

by Pete Talbot

Zoning Rewrite

University-area homeowner Ian Lange had an erroneous op-ed in Sunday’s Missoulian. Fortunately, Ward 3’s Bob Jaffe debunks Lange’s misinformation, point-by-point.

The short version is that Lange thinks Missoula’s zoning rewrite will stifle economic growth by turning established neighborhoods into ghettos (by allowing more density). Lange suggests that ADUs — little apartments in backyards or over garages — will chase businesses away. He believes that more density in the urban core is a bad thing, and favors suburban sprawl and long commutes.

IMHO the zoning rewrite doesn’t go far enough in allowing infill in Missoula, but the majority on city council felt it had to compromise with the noisy zoning naysayers, and lawsuit-happy minority on council. Still, Lange and his cadre continue to spread half-truths and fear.

Endorsements

These endorsements have been out for awhile but I thought I’d recap. First, Montana Conservation Voters have endorsed the following candidates for Missoula City Council:

Mayor – John Engen

Ward 1 -Dave Strohmaeir

Ward 2 – Roy Houseman

Ward 3 – Bob Jaffe

Ward 5 – Mike O’Herron

Ward 6 – Marilyn Marler

The Missoula County Democrats also endorsed. Same as the list above, with two exceptions: the Dems didn’t endorse the mayor, which I’m assuming was just an oversight, but they did endorse Ward 4’s Jon Wilkins. The Wilkins’ endorsement surprised me because as often as not, he votes with the conservatives on council. I guess they figured that because he’s running unopposed, they might as well — no reason to go out of their way to piss him off. On the other hand, the mayor is running unopposed, too, so why not endorse him? Hmmm.


by JC

After last week’s tepid performance by Montana Senator Max Baucus during and after President Obama’s town hall in Belgrade, it seems that Montana Democrats have had it with his waffling ways.

According to Montana Maven:

It has been one week since 8 Montana Democratic Central Committees delivered their resolutions for single payer or a strong public option in a health care bill to President Obama and Senator Baucus at the Belgrade Town Hall Meeting in Montana on August 14…

Many chairs of the committees, like myself, had been frustrated much like our founding brothers because “our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury and neglect”. Yes we had all received the same form letter from the Baucus office even when we asked very specific questions. So we began to look for other ways to get Max’s attention. The letters to the President did the trick.

Seems like going to the top got Baucus’ attention, and he convened a conference call, wherein he got an earful:

…three days after the town meeting, the Chairs of the Central Committees were asked to a conference call with Senator Baucus. No one could remember anything like this every happening before.

The meeting was pretty raucous. Max came on to urge party unity, but county chairs, like myself, demanded substance for our support.

Time and time again we reminded the Senator that basically “when in the course of human events it becomes necessary for people to reform health care bonds,” principle and people must take precedence over process and politics. While Max emphasized Medicare costs or doctors’ costs that must be reined in, most chairs pointed to insurance company overhead as the culprit. While Max emphasized the needed 60 votes that had to include Republicans, we asked him to abandon that idea.

So it seems that some of Montana’s finest Dems have finally figured out that they’ve been getting played by max, and decided to get tough with him, and formed the “Alliance of Montana County Democratic Central Committees.” They put together a “Unified Statement… on Health Care Reform:”

We the Coalition of the United Montana Democratic Central Committees have established a position in support of a strong public option as part of any health care reform. The broader goal of a strong public option is to provide a high-quality, affordable insurance option to all Americans, and provide a means of cost containment. Although many central committees initially preferred a single payer plan, we all concluded that a strong public option was a feasible compromise that could meet these goals and provide Americans with a choice. In order to achieve these goals, a strong public option must contain the following core concepts:

• National Coverage
• Available to all Americans
• Portability, which includes maintaining coverage even if one loses his or her job
• No exclusions for preexisting conditions, denial of coverage if one gets ill, or develops catastrophic costs
• Publicly run and administered with full transparency and accountability to congress
• Emphasis on prevention, and primary care, and a reduction in administrative costs
• No triggers

By unifying our position, and our voices we hope to let the public, the media, and our representatives know where we solidly stand on this critical issue. We would like to encourage Senator Tester, and Representative Rehberg to support a strong public option, and private insurance reform, and to assure them that our Coalition is firmly behind them.

It seems that the tactic has gotten Baucus’ attention. In a press release the Coalition put out today, Max was quoted as saying last week: “I want a public option too!”

U.S. Senator Max Baucus has finally broken his silence regarding his personal position on including a public option in health care reform legislation. Last Monday night (8/17), in an unprecedented conference call to Montana Democratic central committee chairs, the powerful leader of the Senate Finance Committee told his strongest supporters that he supported a public option. While discussing the obstacles to getting a public option through the Senate, he assured his forty listeners, “I want a public option too!”

Great work, Montana Maven!

by jhwygirl

Yesterdays very good Missoulian story from reporter Keila Spzaller contained lots of interesting quotes from political observers and lawyers and stuff like that. Good read, if you haven’t hit it already.

What I found funny was this quote from one of Ward 5’s Lawsuiters, Dick Haines (Ward 5’s other Lawsuiter is Renee Mitchell). Haines is, apparently, already feeling a need to reply to challenger Mike O’Herron:

I don’t want people to think that we take this lightly. I don’t want people to think that we’re suing our employer.

Why would he say that? Because at last weeks candidate forum, Mike O’Herron was asked, specifically, what he thought about about the current lawsuit filed by council members – two of ’em being from Ward 5. O’Herron first pledged not to sue the city for his first term (which drew laughter) and then went on to say that he couldn’t understand why someone would want to sue their employer.

So Haines has, obviously, gotten some feedback on that – and clearly, it’s on his mind.

~~~~~
Mike O’Herron is an Independent – something he reiterated a couple of times during Tuesday’s forum. He said that he’d be glad to get the endorsement of the County Dems – and noted that he’d be equally pleased to get the endorsement of the local Republicans, too.

Red Tape notes that O’Herron did get the endorsement.

Several organizations give out endorsements in the cities non-partisan races. Next up will be the Missoula Building Industry Association’s forum, Tuesday, 3:30 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel.

Schedule is as follows (from their website):
3:30 – 4:00 Meet and greet
4:00 – 4:10 Overview of the importance of Business Development in Missoula and introduction of candidates with Dr. Patrick Barkey with the Bureau of Business and Economic Development – UM
4:10 – 5:00 Q&A to Present Their Goals for Business Development in Missoula
5:00 – 5:30 Networking with Candidates

Beer, Wine and Snacks provided
Cash Bar

There is no charge to attend!

by jhwygirl

Directly from the Missoula County Democrats website:

Candidates for Missoula City Council will participate in a forum sponsored by Missoula County Democrats at the regularly scheduled July Central Committee meeting, taking place at 7pm in City Council Chambers, 140 W. Pine St.

All candidates for City Council have been invited to participate in the forum, which will include questions from the audience. All candidates have also been asked to complete a written questionnaire by July 10. Members of Missoula County Democrats Central Committee and Executive Board will consider endorsing candidates who have requested an endorsement at the meeting.

Some – not all – of the candidates completed the questionnaire. Not completing the questions were two candidates from Ward 2 – Cynthia Wolken and incumbent John Hendrickson; Ward 3 challenger John Quandt; Ward 4’s Jon Wilkins (who was unchallenged) and Ward 5’s (incumbent) Dick Haines.

Click on each name to go to each candidates questionnaire answers:

Ward 1
Dave Strohmaier, incumbent
Ryan Morton

Ward 2
Roy Houseman

Ward 3
Bob Jaffe, incumbent

Ward 5
Mike O’Herron

Ward 6
Marilyn Marler, incumbent
Kathy Greathouse

See ya’all Tuesday, 7 p.m., in city council chambers.

by Pete Talbot

(Update: a memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 30, at the University Congregational Church, 405 University Avenue.  A reception will follow.)

Well into his eighties, Doug Campbell spoke truth to power.  He died on Tuesday at 93, on his own terms.

He and his wife Alice were progressive political icons in Missoula and Montana. Alice preceded him in death.    

I consider Doug a mentor. Although his fight was usually with right-wing regressives, he wasn’t above challenging his own party — Democrats — when he saw them selling out to corporate interests or political expediency.

When I would get discouraged pursuing progressive politics, all I had to do was look to Doug Campbell for inspiration. He fought more battles on behalf of the people than I could even consider. And at nearly 40 years my senior, he was still fighting them: labor, peace, social justice, health care … the list goes on and on. He continued to speak out for those who had no voice; the underdog ignored by the powers that be.

With Alice by his side  – what a wonderful couple — it was a force to be reckoned with.

He wasn’t a wealthy man, but he was the first to write a ten or twenty dollar check at fundraisers for progressive candidates and causes.

If we had more Doug Campbells in the world, it would certainly be a better place. Missoula and Montana are improved by the Campbells.

He was also an expert gardener; iris, I believe.  Beautiful, huge blossoms.

Doug will be missed but he left a legacy in the many people who will continue to advance progressive causes, in part because they knew Doug Campbell.

A memorial service is planned for May 30 at University Congregational Church — details forthcoming.  Look for an obit in the Missoulian and perhaps a story, too (as well there should be).  

 

by Pete Talbot

“Never get in a pissing match with someone who buys ink by the barrel,” my Momma said.

The idea of a Missoulian boycott was shot down but there was plenty of criticism of an editorial that ignored censorship at Big Sky High.

In the end, it was decided that at least three Democratic Party leaders would meet with the editorial board (publisher, editor, opinion page editor) and register their displeasure with the editorial.

I didn’t take a notebook to this meeting because, frankly, I wasn’t there to write about it. I just went because I’m a mighty precinct committeeman but the debate over this resolution was pretty interesting. Lacking some detail, here’s what went down:

One committee member was so pissed at the editorial’s support of a parent complaining about the film, “The Story of Stuff,” instead of supporting the teacher, he proposed a boycott of the paper. He said his wife had already canceled their subscription.

Another member was none too happy with the Tuesday guest editorial that denounced the zoning rewrite. He questioned the writer’s credentials and thought the Missoulian should have, too.

But consensus ran mostly against a boycott: hard to get the numbers to make an impact, could make the party look like whiners, no point in alienating the media …

A teacher in the crowd didn’t like the idea of bringing partisan politics into the debate. He said he knew conservatives who disagreed with the school board’s censorship of the film.

It was suggested that perhaps Democrats could reach out to some Republicans on this one – form a coalition. (A few folks didn’t think the Republicans seemed very receptive to coalition building, these days.)

And another person mentioned taking along a couple of high profile advertisers to the meeting, which got heads nodding.

There was plenty of sympathy for the boycott idea. But there was sympathy for the Missoulian, too: it’s reporters and other staff, the layoffs, the tough times. Democrats were just upset at a couple editorials that lacked vetting and, dare I say, balance.

They also wanted to see more political news and analysis, and in depth coverage of local issues, and the legislature; although again realizing that newspapers are on the ropes and budgets are strained. (There was mention of Missoulian profits being shipped off to headquarters in Davenport, Iowa.)

But there’ll be no boycott.

Having been around the newspaper biz, peripherally, since I was a kid, I understand the many pressures put on an opinion page editor. I personally support a strong, daily newspaper that publishes diverse views on its opinion page. I also hope that the editorial board will take into account the party leadership’s concerns.

by Pete Talbot

This is more than a promotion of the upcoming Missoula County Democrats monthly meeting.

What the heck is the Missoula School Board thinking? Here’s the skinny, from an email I just received:

Subject: Central Committee Meeting

Are we really back to banning media in our schools?…

Last Thursday The Missoula County School Board held a special meeting to discuss a film shown by a popular science teacher at Big Sky High School: The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard. The movie is about the impacts of consumerism and global warming on our planet.

A motion was passed by the School Board (4-3) that found the movie violated policy 2330 of MCPS. Essentailly claiming the film was biased and according to Lemm “full of untruths.”

Decide for yourself at The Missoula County Democrats next central Committee Meeting. We will show the film and discuss the School Board’s decision.

Who: You
What: Censorship and Science, Missoula Dems monthly meeting
Where: Missoula County Courthouse Room 210
When: 7 p.m., Tuesday, February 10

This is the first I’ve heard about the school board meeting or the board’s ruling. I’ll try to get details and update this post. Comments that fill in the gaps would be greatly appreciated.

Until then, I figure that high school students can decide for themselves if the movie is biased and “full of untruths.” I mean, these kids aren’t kindergardners.

by jhwygirl

Via Jim Dayton, Chair of the Missoula County Democrats:

Election Night Celebration for Missoula County Democrats

On Tuesday night, Election Night, Missoula County Democrats will be celebrating in a smoke free environment at the Elks Club 112 N. Pattee St.

After all of the “Get Out The Vote” calls have been made and all of the doors have been knocked, everyone is invited to join with other Democrats as the Missoula County Democrats celebrate the end of the election and watch the results come in.

We will be getting together at the Elks after 8:00 pm in a smoke free environment to celebrate. The bar will be offering both drink and beer specials to help us celebrate. And celebrate we should! Hundreds of people, if not thousands, in Missoula County have been volunteering and working hard to bring us change at the local, state, and national levels. We should be having lots to celebrate. Bring your friends, other volunteers, your whole campaign staff and anybody else who would like to join in the excitement.

Elks 112 N Pattee next to the Bon/Macy 8:00 pm Victory Celebration

by jhwygirl

Michele Reinhart is the incumbent candidate for HD-97, and has been a strong supporter of many good things, such as defending minimum wage, capping college tuition and going after predatory lenders. She currently serves in the interim Business Affairs Committee, and has been appointed to the very important Business & Labor Committee. She is a very strong advocate for environmental and conservation issues, safe drinking water and clean air, and is a champion for protecting and expanding hunting and fishing access for the public. Michele serves on the House Human Services Committee, where she has supported expanded access to healthcare for children (CHIP), fought hard for better mental health care as well as better access to healthcare services for lower income and disabled persons. She has been endorsed by Montana Conservation Voters.

In other words, Michele Reinhart – in only her freshman year in the legislature – has been a busy busy legislator for us Missoulians, providing us with the best representation in a wide variety of issues, from finance and business to healthcare and the environment. I could go on, really, but I need to get to the point of this post now, don’t I?

But before I do, let’s plug a donation to Michele’s ActBlue page. Elections cost money,and her opponent Carol Minjares has been out knocking doors – perhaps you’ve seen her lovely blue signs around town? – and we need to make sure that Michelle is able to get her name and information out to her voters in HD-97. Seriously, 10 bucks could go a long way.

Before I go on to Michele’s thoughts on the Montana Republican Party’s antics of the last two weeks, disrupting Montana’s election and sending courthouses around the state in to chaos (and extra costs), consider this – Michele’s opponent Carol Minjares has been silent to her party’s acts of voter suppression…which included my vote too, BTW.

From Michelle Reinhart:

The GOP wisely turned tail on its plot to intimidate eligible registered voters by filing indiscriminate challenge lists. That’s a good thing for Montanans but it’s no reason to stop questioning the motives of people who would embark on punishing any voters who filed change-of-address forms with the Post Office.

The list produced by the Montana GOP included friends of mine who moved in the last year and re-registered at their new address. One example that made the papers is former state representative and U.S. Army Lt. Kevin Furey, who was deployed overseas for military duty and forwarded his mail to his parents’ house. And the tactic is not limited to Montana; suppressing votes through spurious challenges continues in other states.

As the GOP’s retreat demonstrates, there was no voter fraud here—just discrimination based on “change of address.” The Republican challenge list sought to obstruct the voting rights of renters, college students, Native Americans, low-income folks, and our men and women in uniform. This challenge tactic is a low-blow directed at democracy, voting rights, and civil rights, harkening back to the darker days of America’s history when political participation was dishonorably denied to people of the “wrong” race, gender or level of wealth.

Trying to block eligible voters from completing their civic duty under a false pretense of voter fraud is shameful. I hope the Montana GOP’s aborted attempt at voter challenges has taught them that Montanans won’t stand for undemocratic tactics and this is the last we’ll see of bad behavior during this fall’s election. I’ll even dare to hope that word gets out to Republican Party operatives in the rest of the country about Montana’s success in stopping voter suppression in its tracks.

At any rate, you can also bet legislation will be introduced during the next legislative session to make sure consequences follow frivolous challenges to voting rights here in Montana.

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.

by jhwygirl

An email from a reliable friend tells me that Gary Brown, opponent to Bill Nooney in House District 100, has withdrawn due to medical issues.

I certainly wish the best to Gary and his family. Health should be foremost.

This means E. Willis Curdy will likely pick up the challenge. Curdy was Brown’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Brown besting Curdy by less than 70 votes.

More in the future – in the meantime, good, positive thoughts for Gary and his family.

by Pete Talbot

(Here are some tidbits gleaned from weekend newspapers, a magazine, some websites and emails. This post’s headline is to be sung to the tune of Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” as performed by Johnny Cash.)

First, a little humor from Sunday’s Pearls Before Swine comic strip. It’s for all of us bloggers who sometimes take ourselves a little too seriously.

Both Jay at LiTW and jhwygirl here at 4&20 are promoting an ActBlue site via this link. Your donations in these critical Montana House races can make all the difference. For example, I received this email from a progressive friend in Miles City (yes, there are progressives in Miles City): “We need to raise more money for Bill McChesney…his opponent is a wealthy ranch/real estater with ambitions akin to Taylor Brown.” This race in HD 40 pits incumbent Democrat McChesney against Republican Jeff Harding.

Missoula County Democrats are holding their summer picnic. Here’s the skinny: “Tuesday, July 15, 6:00 p.m. in Bonner Park in Missoula and all are invited. This is great opportunity to get together with your fellow Democrats over a burger and a beverage, hear some short political speeches and generally have a good time. Local and statewide candidates will all be taking part in the festivities. The Democrats are providing the main course of grilled meat or vegi. Wayne Fairchild of Lewis and Clark Trail Adventures (www.trailadventures.com) is providing the equipment and his guides will be doing the grilling. We are asking attendees to bring a side dish if their last name starts A – K. A salad if name starts with L – R and a desert for those whose names start with S – Z. We will be providing the rest. If you don’t have time to bring a dish to pass, come on anyway. We’ll have plenty of food. This is not a fundraiser although a donation of 5 – 10 dollars would be appreciated to cover the costs of food and beverages.”

Right below the pop-up food ad on the Missoulian’s website, there’s a story about Mayor John Engen, headlined: “Svelte mayor kisses 102 pounds goodbye.” I’m not sure if “svelte” is the word but congratulations, Mr. Mayor. Keep up the good work.

Harper’s magazine has a superb article called “The Wrecking Crew” with the subtitle “How a gang of right-wing con men destroyed Washington and made a killing.” It stars our old friend Jack Abramhoff and is a litany of malfeasance and corruption. Unfortunately, you’ll have to go to the library or buy a copy of Harper’s because you can’t read the story online, but it’s well worth the effort. Or, here’s a link if you want a subscription.

Sadly, there’s this news out of Afghanistan. The op-eds, letters and pundits say we’re winning the war in Iraq — that remains to be seen. For now, we’re losing ground in Afghanistan, which was our first mission. We have international support in Afghanistan yet there’s no solution in sight. The sooner we can disentangle from this mess, and let the locals decide their fate, the better. Our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who have given their all.

by Pete Talbot

One woman showed up sporting a newly inked Obama tattoo on her arm. She was one of many folks running for a delegate slot at the Missoula County Democratic Convention on Thursday night. Those who were elected at the county convention will be in Helena on Sunday to decide delegates for the national convention in Denver.

It used to be that Missoula couldn’t field enough delegates to go to the state convention. The local party could muster maybe nine or ten out of the twenty or so positions allocated to the county. Last night, roughly forty people battled for twenty spots to represent Barack Obama in Helena.

Hillary Clinton supporters were there, too. Ten delegates from Missoula will represent Clinton at the state convention.

Seventeen seats are up for grabs at the convention in Helena. (Montana will be sending a total of 25 delegates to Denver but eight are super delegates — folks like Schweitzer, Baucus, Melcher, etc.).

There wasn’t any media there last night that I noticed, which is too bad because it was a raucous caucus. All kinds of people were there pitching themselves for a chance to go to Helena and then, maybe, Denver.

I haven’t seen this kind of energy in the Montana Democratic Party in the nearly 20 years that I’ve been active in this state’s political scene.




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