Archive for the ‘Montana politics’ Category

by jhwygirl

Updated below.

First of all, a shout-out to the fabulous Helena bureau chief for CBS news (out of Great Falls) reporter Marnee Banks. I poached this pic right off of her yfrog account. Banks has been doing some great work, long before the session even began. I am a huge fan and have been trying to drum up a name for her, much as I’ve bestowed Supermontanareporter on John S. Adams. Goddess Bless her.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 show this evening featured a segment on birther bills, and grabbed up an interview with Montana’s Rep. Bob Wagner, a Republican out of Harrison.

Wagner’s SB205 was the bill he was bragging about.

I caught it on a tweet, “re-tweeted” it to make sure everyone knew..and guess what? Missed it. It was on within the first 25 minutes. So now I’ve set the Tivo and I’ll have to enjoy it later tonight or in the morning.

And we’ll definitely be checking back on CNN’s website to see what AC gets up on his site. Maybe someone will grab it up for YouTube.

In the meantime, one can only hope that Anderson Cooper comes back. He was talking about unconstitutional bills tonight – and SB254 would of fit the bill just fine – it provides for eminent domain authority over the federal government.

How’s that for both irony and hypocrisy from conservatives?

As for Anderson? Maybe he just didn’t want to dedicate the whole show to Montana. Arizona might get jealous.

But I’m sure we out-gun them in pro-gun laws. What do you want to bet?

~~~~
Oh. My. Goodness. Anderson Cooper 360 has video up.

Wagner hints enough at another lunacy bill – HB392, that “eliminates the misapplication of the 14th amendment to the US Constitution” by saying that you are only a citizen of Montana if you reside in Montana, are born in U.S. and at least one of your parents is a U.S. citizen – that Cooper points out to America that we’ve got that bill knocking around up in Helena too.

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by jhwygirl

State Representative James Knox (Billings) tweeting this morning from his state taxpayer-funded laptop, on the state internet network, and from the House floor this morning at approximately 9 a.m.:

Leaves little to the imagination for what he doesn’t say in public.

*Don Pogreba was a candidate in the 2008 democratic primary for Governor. He is also a superb political writer at Intelligent Discontent who has been doing an extremely fine job covering session activities up in Helena this year.

by jhwygirl

Capital reporter Mike Dennison is up with a story tonight on the Missoulian State Bureau’s request for a list of all legislators who have signed up for medical benefits – you know, those benefits paid for by state government?

For three weeks now he’s been waiting for a reply from Senate leadership (GOP) and Dennison is reporting that ” the Legislature has denied a request from the Missoulian State Bureau for the names, citing advice from its chief attorney that privacy rights overrule the public’s right to know the names of lawmakers signing up for the benefits.”

Them’s pretty strong words.

He goes on to write: “Jessica Sena, spokeswoman for Senate Republicans, said leadership had considered releasing the information, in response to the Missoulian State Bureau request, but that legal staff had advised that the disclosure would violate federal rules on privacy of medical information.”

I’m guessing that the legal staff he refers to there is not party-associated Republican legal staff.

And interwove in all there is a bill proposed by Sens. Anders Blewett of Great Falls and Kendall Van Dyk of Billings that would disclose which legislators who have signed up for medical benefits from the state.

128 of 150 legislators are signed up for medical benefits. 40 of which are using them to supplement their own benefits.

I’m far more interested in a legal opinion that is claiming some sort of medical confidentiality over the release of state expenditures? Where does the line stop there towards the right of the citizens to know?

Republicans in Helena want fuller micro-accounting transparency on the budget, yet they don’t want the citizens to know what they’re paying for?

No one’s asking for doctor bills or dental xrays.

Boy. Now, if I were Democratic leadership, I’d be releasing a list tomorrow morning of all the Democratic representatives that are taking health benefits. I’d include a huge thank you to the citizens of the state.

And in the meantime, maybe a citizen should appeal on the Attorney General on the whether there is some sort of privacy right involved here. While attorneys for all other agencies (and even county attorneys) work for the AG, the legislative side is an independent branch of government.

I’d sure like to know what Bullock has to say.

by Pete Talbot

Nothing like a trip to the Magic City of Billings to put things in perspective: where an in-law tells me about his buddy who’s making $2000 a week welding on a pipeline in the Williston Basin, where I meet a man who runs a big (I mean really big) shovel at Colstrip, where my sister-in-law’s new boyfriend is working maintenance at the Stillwater palladium mine south of Columbus. All these guys are bucking the recession.

They don’t give a sh*t about DADT or DREAM. “It’s the economy, stupid.” (A quote attributed to James Carville during Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign.) Which is why, even though at some point in their lives, the workers mentioned above belonged to a union, they voted Republican in the 2010 midterm election.

Shortsighted? Without a doubt. These guys aren’t millionaires and the Republican Party doesn’t represent them. But they think it does.

So, when my progressive cohorts rail against Sen. Jon Tester on the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, and DREAM, I have to do a little reality check. You see, I agree wholeheartedly with the progressives but after living in Montana for 45 years, I like to think I have some insight into the Montanan mind set. And Billings is about as Montanan as you can get.

At this point, these Billings workers aren’t going to vote for someone to the left of Jon Tester. Hell, Tester barely won his seat in 2006 against a corrupt incumbent who had insulted women, firefighters and most minorities. And you’d have been hard pressed to find a better candidate to go up against Republican Conrad Burns than that big Montana dry-land farmer with a flattop and missing fingers.

It isn’t about the lesser of two evils. It’s about pure evil versus a mainstream Democrat; like Denny Rehberg v. Jon Tester in the 2012 U.S. Senate election or any Democrat against Rick Hill/Cory Stapleton/Ken Miller for Montana Governor.

It isn’t easy for me to write this post. Having been called a Socialist, a Communist and a red scurvy dog, I figure I’ve earned my progressive credentials. But sometimes one has to step back and look at the world, the country and Montana the way it is.

I’m not going to quit pushing my elected Democratic officials to be as progressive as they can be. And I’ll continue to critique their bad votes as I’ve done in the past; particularly Sen. Max Baucus but also Sen. Tester and Gov. Schweitzer. And to quote Jim Hightower, “I’ll keep agitatin’.”

by jhwygirl

Pogie is the Master. Read it here.

I’m also flat-out saying this right now – I’ll be using that (R-Marbut) too. Poached.

Brilliant.

by jhwygirl

Senator Bruce Tutvedt (of Kalispell) is concerned about what language our driver’s test be administered.

by jhwygirl

…and make no mistake, Montana State Republican Party Chair has yet to master it.

Talk about representing.

by jhwygirl

Montana’s GOP is shoring up for a showdown for Speaker of the House. Every Tea Partier’s favorite Krayton Kerns – truly on the extreme edges of tea partyism – is expressing a desire to hold the seat.

Mike Milburn of Cascade was the favorite. Here’s his voting record.

Kerns, by comparison, is billing himself as “more conservative.”

~~~~~
Kerns is, of course, a puppet of another Tea Partier plus gun nut plus state’s rights advocate plus so-called constitutionalist Gary Marbut (president one-man chief lobbyist for the Montana Shooting Sports Association). Remember that crazy gun bill from last session? HB228?

Kerns’.

So how much influence will Missoula resident and right-wing loon Gary Marbut have with the Montana Legislature? Marbut, I assure you, is trying to figure out just the same.

So he’s getting started early this year, trying to score one of his mouthpieces into the Speaker of the House position.

Speaker is a pretty important position – as the Billings Gazette explains:

The speaker sets schedules, grants committee assignments, assigns legislation and controls much of the business of the chamber. The position is a key figure in negotiations with state Senate leaders and the governor’s office.

Who’s going to run the show? Marbut, Kerns and his merry band of Tea Party jesters, or the Montana GOP?

If anything, can I ask that someone consider that he’s got one of the most annoying nasally whining weaselly screechy sounding voices I’ve ever heard. Pitty all reporters that’ll have to deal with that. Do they really want Krayton out there on camera?

Come to think of it…that could be fun.

by jhwygirl

I’ve been hampered in my blogging since Tuesday when I (feebly) installed a new wireless router and ended up with a laptop that won’t connect. Tonight I cave and plug in the damned ethernet.

In between that time I got one of those neat ereaders. Fun.

All of that being said, Jay, the founder of this blog 4&20 blackbirds and principal blogger over at Left in the West, gave me a call Wednesday morning to tell me that he was moving on. It was a busy day for me and I have to admit I kinda didn’t think it was actually going to happen..I guess?

But then the post went up. Or I should say the emails started. Either way – whoa.

It was something that was briefly discussed when he moved to PA, but I guess I never saw a need for it…even though I knew that Jay was involving himself locally – which is a great thing.

But then the next day the other foot – Matt Singer – drops? Seriously, I was like WTH?

I have more admiration and regard for Matt Singer than I can put into words. Or if I did, I’d embarrass him or at least make his face all red. Though that hasn’t stopped me from trying every once in a while when he was extraordinarily newsworthy, and you can search our Matt Singer archives here for posts.

Here are two guys that have made an indelible foot-in-the-ass imprint on the politics of Montana. For more than half a decade.

Then tonight I find out that there is a going away party for Matt. So his heading to Oregon isn’t happening in a while, it’s happening soon – and all of this becomes so much more real.

For me personally, both Jay and Matt are the reason I blog – so ya’all can pretty much blame them both equally there – and for Jay’s part, when he headed on to take the helm as COO of Left in the West, he handed the reigns over here.

So the blame on Jay can be spread on a little thicker, I guess.

And Jay made it a point in our conversation on Wednesday to say how much he enjoyed the writers here….always the cheerleader for opinion and discussion. Always.

Wulfgar! wrote his own thoughts about Matt and Jay’s goodbye to Montana politics. Wulfgar! is another one who can whomp some darned fine progressive blogging out, and I have to say I am somewhat relieved by reading his posts that he doesn’t show any of the same indications.

Montana progressive politics will never be the same – but they also wouldn’t be what they are without the imprint of Matt Singer and Jay Stevens.

Go be famous elsewhere. The world deserves it.

by jhwygirl

…but are they all from the GOP?

I wrote a post the other day about HD63 GOP challenger Tom Burnett making robo calls in the Bozeman area. Thing is, not only are the calls automated and recorded, they’re recorded by Tom Burnett.

Pogo Possum had a comment in that post that suggested Bryce Bennett, Democratic candidate for HD92 was putting out robo calls – but when it gets down to it, he puts out that they weren’t actually recorded. Someone called him – probably read from a script – and that isn’t illegal. You can call from a fascimile machine – you just have to be a real person on the line.

I know Bryce, and I know he wasn’t doing robo calls. He has plenty of volunteers making calls, but they are all real people who are talking on the phone…and that is not a robo call, per state law.

Yesterday I came across a tweet from Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller a “re tweet” from Missoulian Reporter Keila Szpaller of something from Matt Hagengruber, a Billings Gazette city reporter that said this:

Got a Kendall Van Dyk robocall at my work #. Not a good idea to notify reporters that you’re breaking state campaign laws.

I got to thinking – and wanted to tweet/ask Ms. Szpaller, but didn’t – is her work number a Billings phone number? Because why would Kendall Van Dyke’s campaign – which is a senate seat for Billings – be calling a Missoula phone number? Automated at that?

That just plain doesn’t pass the smell test….

Ed note: see comment below from Keila – I overlooked the “re tweet” status of it. I have not heard any of the same speculating out of Billings, although I wonder if Hagengruber’s call sounded like what I describe…or if he got a number

Interrupting this post….

I’ll be – just got a call from the same number Pogo refers to in his comment on the Burnett robo-call post…406-258-0500. I said hello and it took a good 10 seconds for a person to talk back, saying hello and identifying herself as a person with the Willis Curdy for HD100 campaign. She launched into her speech – and she read from a script in spurts with a thick accent. I stopped her and said that I was confused – “who are you?” I asked. She stopped and identified herself as “Sarah” and I asked her again who she was with – she said slowly – again, as if reading from a script – “I’m with the Willis Curdy for House District 100 campaign.”

So I told her I was still confused because I didn’t live where I could vote for Curdy (which is unfortunate, really – I hope he wins) – and she then went back to her script and said “well I’m sorry and thank you very much for your time,” and then “good night.”

The person on the other line was clearly uncomfortable reading and had to take time to speak the stuff she was reading.

406-258-0500? That’s the same number that was allegedly calling for Bryce Bennett. And truth be told, that 258-0500 number has been calling me for some time. I just don’t like actual live calls much, so I haven’t picked up.

But when it did call me the first time – on the evening of the 21st – I reverse-looked up the number and it came up as an inactive number….and when it dialed me again and I didn’t pick up I called 411 on my Alltel phone and they, too, told me that they had it as an inactive number.

Well – clearly it isn’t inactive.

So after I got off the phone with “Sarah” at 258-0500 I called someone closely associated with the Curdy campaign to ask them about the call I had just gotten.

There is no Sarah working or volunteering for the Curdy campaign, as she had clearly stated twice for whom she was calling.

Curdy isn’t even making calls. He’s knocking doors and has been doing so for months.

Matt is conjecturing that there’s dirty tricks afoot. I say conjecture no more…clearly this is a sloppily organized mud job.

Laws are being broke here – we have one phone number making robo-calls for Tom Burnett 319-294-7021…and we have another one that is making false calls for campaigns they are not associated with.

Today, both the Bennett campaign and the Curdy campaign issued statements regarding these calls. They are below the fold. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Suing the City of Billings and its fire department isn’t enough, Dennis Rehberg’s gotta set to serving papers on his opponent for Montana’s lone congressional seat – Dennis McDonald.

First – You have to see the ad:

You know, I really have no problem with this ad – Rehberg did do “all of the above” – that and more.

Rehberg may not like that there is an ad that says these things, but truly, who’s fault is that? He’s the one who made an embarrassment out of himself and Montana when he was in Kazakhstan. That’s well-documented in a variety of news sources.

The ad doesn’t mention a 2008 expense account claim – which he later amended – that billed his campaign for a couch that he slept on in the basement of a Washington DC bar……

Keep that in mind when you think of the claim that he sleeps on a couch in his office in DC – all of the above of which are also well-documented.

Is his office the bar? Or is it the other way around?

Then there’s that pesky boat incident. His friend Greg Barkus has managed to keep the trial off until after election day. Convenient for Rehberg to not have to testify during a campaign.

McDonald’s ad, apparently, is a distraction from the campaign for Mr. Rehberg. Considering that it really isn’t untrue, Rehberg mighta been better to let the ad play itself out for whatever McDonald spent on it….but Rehberg and his darn staff of fools went out and are now trying to lawyer themselves out of a public embarrassment.

Making it, not-so-ironically, a public embarrassment.

by jhwygirl

This post has been corrected.

Political campaign robo-calls are illegal in Montana, per Montana Code Annotated 45-8-216. Maybe someone needs to tell Tom Burnett, Republican candidate for Bozeman House District 63…..or the marketing firm making the calls, Marketplace One, with a phone number of 319-294-7021.

That would be CHICAGO IOWA, folks.

Yep – Burnett’s even got himself an out-of-state marketing firm.

Chicago sure is making a lot of money off of Montana elections, isn’t it? (I’d strike this, but it’s still true. Guess I could add IOWA too, now.)

What makes this even most indefensible is that the robo-call sounds to have been recorded by Tom Burnett himself. He talks about “recent attacks from my opponents [plural] against my ‘record’.”

Record? Burnett has never held public office.

I haven’t much patience for breaking the law – especially from people seeking lawmaker status. Beyond that, breaking campaign law is pretty despicably low – what can Pomnichowski do? File a complaint? Political Practices has a backlog as it is. It’s two weeks before the election.

Burnett can’t even run a fair and legal campaign.

Tom Burnett can’t follow state law as a candidate – let’s hope Montanans don’t get stuck with him a legislator.

JP Pomnichowski is the incumbent for this seat, and Burnett’s opponent. I have a link to her campaign over there on the right. JP is a fine legislator, who has been endorsed by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. In fact, I’ve done quite a number of posts that have mentioned Pomnichowski. Check it out.

by problembear

thanks to the missoulian editorial board for recognizing the importance of capping the interest rate on payday lenders and for supporting citizen’s ballot  initiative 164 in the upcoming Nov 2 election.

it is so well written that i want to provide some excerpts….

“While Montana law does prohibit borrowers from taking out more than one loan at a time, borrowers often “flip” or “churn” their loans by taking one out right after another to keep caught up with their repayments. In fact, according to Montana Women Vote, the average borrower in the U.S. will “flip” their loans eight times in a year and pay a total of $800 for a $300 loan. These borrowers essentially remain perpetually in debt to payday lenders. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, a full 76 percent of the total annual volume of payday loans in this country is comprised of churned loans.”

and this….

” The Montana Division of Banking and Financial Institutions reports that last year, payday lenders issued nearly 150,000 loans and raked in $7.5 million in interest and fees from fewer than 35,000 borrowers. That’s an average of four loans per borrower.”

payday lenders prey on the most vulnerable of our working poor by keeping them in debt with onerous interest rates that should shame anyone with a conscience. thanks missoulian, for recognizing this and urging our support of CI -164.

 


by Pete Talbot

This is just FYI but I’m curious to see other bloggers’ opinions on this story from the Montana Associated Press.

Montana Cowgirl is receiving some attention on a post written about the Van Dyk/Brown Montana Senate race taking place in Billings. Ms. Cowgirl is taking heat from the right and the left for portraying Roy Brown in less than flattering light. The comments after her post are a good read and should elicit some introspection.

Reminds me of the Sen. Baucus TV spot showing Max’s opponent back in 2002, Mike Taylor in disco regalia, rubbing a man’s head.

Also, questions about using state computers and a possible cozy link to elected officials, is in the mix.

Your thoughts gentle reader?

by problembear

when you are writing a script it is imperative that characters are well drawn and understandable to the audience. but that is not enough. if there is no tension or if the opposing characters are not evenly matched it is boring and too predictable and people soon lose interest.

now that payday lenders are finding it difficult to argue that interest rates that average 400%  for our working poor are reasonable they are resorting to their worn out script ….

“but where will the poor credit challenged go without us?”

and their companion piece….  “it will put our employees out of work.”

these be dragons folks. in other words, they are a concoction of imagination by payday lenders to make you think that these concerns are real.

now, i think a little plot twist at the end is very important in fiction, but in real life, these two dragons are mythical. first. i have never seen a law stop anyone from making money. you can’t tell me that 36% interest is not profitable and reasonable. second. many states (19 so far) have enacted similar laws and people still seem to survive just fine without being charged 400% interest. and the employees simply move where the money goes.

the thing about payday loans that is never examined is the ease with which they are taken out. ten minutes and no credit check. why? because at 400% interest the payday lenders are making so much that the few people who slip through their formidable collection net are simply meaningless and statistically irrelevant.

but let me ask one question…. what does it say about a nation that allows this slip-knot of easy money which traps people who cannot easily pay the original loan amount into a cycle of debt in the first place? it says that it is ok to be irresponsible with money. it says go ahead and ruin your credit all you want. it says eat live and be merry for tomorrow you die. it says why be an ant who saves for the winter when you can be a grasshopper who dies at the first sign of frost. payday lending  is simply not a healthy thing for our kids working low-pay jobs and our seniors on social security to turn to. it further impoverishes them to the point that already overly burdened non-profits during this recession must step in and support them.

the arguments of the payday lenders are false. beware the dragon…..it sells people on a false fairy tale of easy money that turns into a fire-breathing dragon in the end.

by jhwygirl

The Daily Chronicle editorial boards’ endorsements focus on anti-partisanship as an ideal qualification – they use the word partisanship at least 4 times in the piece. When an editorial board says Pomnichowski’s opponent Burnett “is too ideologically rigid to be effective in the Legislature,” had to hurt. Burnett.

Ouch!

And I gotta give credit here, too, to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. How many papers actually endorse candidates anymore? The Missoula Independent does…who else?

Now…getting back: Burnett aside, the focus on why to re-elect JP Pomnichowski is the task at hand, and the Daily Chronicle concisely put together the reasoning:

“…Pomnichowski deserves a return trip to Helena. Her reasonableness and experience is needed, and she was successful in her last two terms in carrying legislation that has done good things for southwest Montana, particularly downtown Bozeman.”

JP Pomnichowski has been a legislative fan favorite for me for her last two sessions, and being that I’m sitting at a computer, I can easily prove the stuff I’m saying. For one, Pomnichowski is one hard working legislator. I’ve known that – but checking the legislative website, I find that she’s successfully carried seven bills forward this last legislative session. 7? That is nothing short of amazing.

I’d say that at least meets the definition of effective.

Lest the loonies come out and say she is anti-property rights – that seems to be a favorite substantiated talking point from the right – Pomnichowski worked hard to protect private property rights by working to revise laws related to gravel pit mining – and issue that was impacting fast-growing Gallatin county pretty hard. The revisions in law enhance the public information process for permits, helping to give both property owners the right to be informed from the beginning, and helping to ensure that the mining operators know all the rules from the get-go and helped move the backlog of permits.

Protecting private rights from too-much government oversight? Pomnichowski successfully carried a bill that required government agencies to protect private information.

And that’s just a partial rundown of 2009, folks.

I like JP because when she talks about her work, she talks about it in terms of the people she represents. It isn’t politics for her – it’s about the people.

And her record shows it.

by jhwygirl

IN A CASCADE COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY’S NEWSLETTER

Remember these type of “antics” as you all receive your mail-in ballots. Will you toss it aside?

These Cascade Republicans are idiots, for sure – but think about the other Republicans that (a) are smart enough to keep these ‘jokes’ private and (b) don’t speak out against those amongst them that incite such violence.

Your liberties are at stake.

While I’m at it – VOTE NO on convening a Constitutional Convention.

Read former GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Brown tell you why a Constitutional Convention is not needed.

by jhwygirl

Relatively speaking and not so relatively speaking.

Renewable Energy World released its state rankings of grades given by the solar energy. Where does Montana fall? 39th (or 40th if you count D.C.).

That’s a 2010 ranking by the industry. In calculating that ranking, 50% of Montana’s score (our score being a pithy 17 out of 100) depends upon “incentives”. Our grade in “incentives”? F.

Before ya’all go saying that solar doesn’t work here in Montana, check the maps out here, provided by National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Compare that to the states that top us in rank? Factor in size, too? So Illinois, ranking 8, blows us away. Pennsylvania, ranking 5th? Again – blowing us away.

Here is a burgeoning industry and we’re in a state with enormous solar potential and we have zilcho, comparatively speaking, to virtually all the other states in the union.

Stimson mill sits empty with railroad tracks running through it..they’re recycling silicon in Butte (a major component of photovoltaic cells), and Montana isn’t doing diddly squat to bring those kind of elements together to produce jobs.

But how about those flag-waving jobs to move Korean-built tar sands equipment? Jobs, jobs, jobs!

Moving on to wind…..

Here’s a 2009 ranking for wind energy production, state by state. Montana’s ranking? We do a bit better here (and should) – 18th.

But should we do better? Check the maps. Washington, California, Oregon? Top us on the list, yet our potential outshines them – by far. Colorado, New York, New Mexico….Indiana? Same there.

The Montana legislature squabble over the minutia of this stuff, often blaming it on MEPA and over-regulation. Anyone want to believe that looking at how places like California and New York out-rank us? Because, you know, California and New York are so regulation-free. Others put out there that the lack of powerlines to transmit the stuff doesn’t exist, which really isn’t true. It’s the lack of incentives to bring solar and wind energy here – and remember, that’s the industry talking.

Blaming MEPA is a bunch of crap. Any major transmission line has to go through NEPA, mainly because anything moving across Montana is going to be hitting federal lands…and NEPA is far more onerous.

~~~~~
This is where tax incentives should come in. I’m tired of hearing the GOP leaders talk about and advocate for blanket cuts in business taxes. We have business here. They pay taxes. They employ people. Do you honestly think the mere act of cutting their taxes is going to create jobs? The reality is that we’ve cut all sorts of business taxes and we’ve not seen any appreciable growth in the number of people employed by these businesses. We’ve seen new businesses..but not growth in existing business (which is the state purpose of the tax cuts, right?) If you are going to propose blanket business tax breaks, provide Montanans with some data showing how many jobs will be created by these existing businesses for whom you are cutting taxes.

That way we can confirm that you are wrong. Or correct.

Do you dare?

Every blanket break in taxes for existing businesses falls to someone else to pay – meaning….private property owners.

I’m not alone in thinking that…we just need good people to speak up. Everyone knows – thoughtful conservatives and liberals alike – that blanket tax breaks for existing businesses aren’t going to create enough new jobs (if any) to make up for the loss in tax revenue. Calling for tax cuts might get you elected..but if you defunct the government in doing so, you aren’t doing your job.

Montana needs targeted tax breaks for high paying industries that guarantee jobs and investment here in Montana. Guarantee jobs? Guaranteed tax incentives. Invest in Montana – help them with some incentives to get here. Tier these incentives based on the number of jobs and the taxable payroll. This isn’t rocket science – an increase in taxable payroll means more people paying taxes and supporting more businesses here in Montana.

We’re hounding down 2010..and the 2011 legislative season looms. There’s 28 days until election. Let’s hear some real tax policy talk from candidates on both sides of the aisle. Let’s talk substance, not talking points.

Specifics.

I don’t want to hear “cut taxes” and “cut business taxes” from GOP talking heads like Mat Stevenson and Champ Edmunds like I did the other night at the Target Range Homeowners Association meeting. Frankly, I ended up feeling kind of sorry for the poor fellas, and there’s really no other way to say it. While I sat and listened to the candidates from several legislative seats speak, both of these guys had it pretty tough from the crowd of mostly seniors in the audience when they started with their GOP talking points call to “cut taxes” and railing against “big government.”

So much so that when asked to be specific about what they would cut..they couldn’t answer. When begged to suggest anything that they would cut…they said they couldn’t answer until they “looked at what was proposed.”

When even that tactic of avoidance didn’t work as it was pointed out to them that they seemed ill-informed to be running for an office when they hadn’t even looked at the current year’s budget, Stevenson insisted that we (as in Republicans) would “find stuff to cut.” This angered an older fellow in the crowd who quickly took to giving him the hook (yep – it was as painful as it sounds), saying “You don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Here’s an idea: Targeted tax cuts tied to job creation. Tax cuts that don’t shoulder more upon property owners. Tax cuts that create new high paying jobs that increase tax overall tax revenue.

As Martha would say: That’s a good thing.

by jhwygirl

This past Saturday, The Indy’s award-winning supermontanacolumnist George Ochenski gave the keynote speech at the Flathead Democrat’s Annual Harvest Dinner. Never one to hold back on the truth, the big GO delivered a barn-burner, closing to a standing ovation and inspiring all who attended.

It’s no secret that I absolutely worship George Ochenski. He says he isn’t a political strategist, and he says he isn’t a political leader, but there isn’t a doubt in my mind that the Democrats would be a in a better place – the Montana Democrats would be in a better place – if he were.

Ochenski is an inspiration to me and many others. I say that without a doubt as to the truth of that statement.

I also doubt he’d been able to finish this speech if I were there – I’da been standing on my chair, fist raised, shouting as loud as I could “Hell yeah!” before he’da been half-way through. Jess Grennan knows what I’m talking about.

Want to know what it means to be a Democrat? Wonder, these days, what it should mean? His entire words are a must-read. I’m tempted to print out a few copies and send ’em to Washington. And Helena.

The Speech

Before I do my Rod Sterling imitation and welcome you to the Twilight Zone that is modern-day politics, I’d like to personally thank those folks who made it possible for me to be here tonight. First and foremost, the Flathead Democratic Women and the Flathead Democratic Party for their kind invitation to speak. I’d also like to thank Margie Gignac for all her work and extend special appreciation to JoLynne and Jerry Yenne for kindly allowing my wife and I to use their great cabin where we enjoyed a very peaceful evening last night.

But the sand is running through the hourglass, so let’s jump right into the Twilight Zone and try to make some sense of the strange and swirling maelstrom into which American politics have descended.

First, I’d like to talk about “Why the Right is Wrong”…the easy part of this speech.

As we all know, having lived through eight nightmare years of the George W. Bush and Dick Cheney cabal, the Republicans have nothing, I repeat, nothing to offer us in the way of a vision for a better future.

You all remember, as do I, the phony campaign promises by Republicans to “restore dignity” to Washington following the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency. Their first move, aided and abetted by Montana’s own Governor Marc Racicot, was to “restore dignity” by stealing the election through voter intimidation, hanging chads and a conservative Supreme Court that decided it was more important to “move on” than accurately tally the votes of the people. And so we wound up with George Bush in the White House.

Perhaps, were it not for the September 11 attacks, Mr. Bush would have been the incompetent one-term president so many predicted. But that was not to be. Instead, a shocked, paranoid and complicit Congress – both Democrats and Republicans – cranked the wheel hard to the right through a series of events from which we have not recovered to this day – and may never fully recover.

Instead of dignity, we got deception. Instead of transparency, we got obfuscation, secrecy and denial of access to formerly public information. Instead of the Republicans’ much-vaunted “fiscal conservatism,” we tipped off the edge of wildly out-of-control spending, launching two wars and vastly increasing the military and intelligence agency budgets while domestic needs took a back seat and civil liberties, freedom and privacy were sacrificed to the umbrella excuse of “national security.”

In a throwback to the Age of Imperialism, Bush launched two wars, neither of which was justifiable and both of which, sadly, are still ongoing.

The invasion of Afghanistan was cloaked in the “mission” to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. But Afghanistan, with its towering Hindu Kush Mountains, is a wild country that has never been successfully occupied by any foreign force. The bones of the British Empire still molder in the Khyber Pass more than a century after their failed attempts at domination. Likewise, the rusted remains of Soviet tanks and helicopter gunships still litter the countryside decades later, an all-too-grim reminder that modern superpowers have no more chance of success there than the horse-borne armies of the past.

And now, of course, American blood mixes with the dust of centuries on Afghanistan’s forbidding landscapes while Osama bin Laden, wherever he may be, laughs at America’s folly in thinking we, unlike all others, can somehow subdue Afghanistan’s wild tribes. He laughs, too, as our Treasury is sucked dry by the effort, a grim parallel to the fiscal crisis widely blamed for the collapse and subsequent fracturing of the Soviet Union that, in fact, is having the same effect on our nation.

Shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq fell into the Bush-Cheney crosshairs, despite the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. What it did and does have to do with is oil. The world of oil is the world of Dick Cheney, and as we heard time and again, “Iraq is floating on a sea of oil.”

So it was that Bush, Cheney and their military-industrial complex advisors and a complicit Congress launched another war at a cost vastly exceeding what it would have taken to simply buy the oil if we wanted it so badly.

But of course that doesn’t take into account the other costs. The dead men and women of our Armed Services, the fractured families, those who returned home broken or beset with the demons of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the uncounted casualties inflicted upon the people of Iraq. We still have 50,000 troops in Iraq today, suffering and dying while the debt burden for future generations continues to rocket skyward as the true price of this calamitous war becomes ever more clear.

Perhaps even worse than these unimaginable military and financial disasters is the policy and social detritus left in the wake of the failed Republicans. Warrantless search and seizure, extraordinary renditions, (more commonly called international kidnapping and torture), and a nation at war with itself.

Long after Bush’s infamous “you’re either with us or against us” rhetoric has faded, the reality of what that did to our country lives on. We are no longer a country united in our goals and holding high the torch of Liberty, but one in which, neighbor turns suspiciously against neighbor, where distortion and outright lies replace truth and open debate, and where our own government spies on us, puts us on “do not fly” lists without our knowledge, and even marks American citizens for assassination without the benefit of a trial or the opportunity to present defense…thus crumbling even the most basic foundation of our judicial system that, as a people, we are all “innocent till proven guilty.”

And this is where the Tea Party comes into the picture. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Via @dpogreba of Intelligent Discontent, news that Montana’s 9 term U.S. House of Representative Pat Williams is considering a run for Governor in 2012.

If we can’t have Carol, I’ll take Pat without reservation.

Like Pogie, all I need to know is “Where can I donate? Where do I sign up to volunteer?”

by jhwygirl

Montana’s resident gun nut and lunatic lobbyist had his lawsuit against the U.S. government dismissed this afternoon for what was basically a lack of standing.

See, Marbut and his Montana Shooting Sports Association tried to sue the federal government for relief from something that hadn’t happened. See, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had yet to stop Montana from NOT regulating something that it doesn’t regulate already.

Get this circular logic?

See, Marbut successfully (so note that, people – HB246 passed a majority in the evenly split state house (84-14) and a majority in the Republican-controlled senate…and Governor Schweitzer signed the thing into law) lobbied a bill through the last legislative session that exempted Montana built guns from federal regulation.

So Montana legislators passed a bill and our Governor Schweitzer signed that bill into law that said that guns made in the state of Montana were not subject to federal law.

Make sense? A state passing a law saying it isn’t subject to federal law?

Pretty soon, one of these Einstein’s are going to want to secede from the Union….history be damned.

How we’re going to ensure that these guns stay in Montana? Don’t think that’s of consequence to Montana and its taxpayers? It will be once some gun manufacturer sells a gun to someone out of state or sells it to someone who takes the thing out of Montana. So the taxpayers will be paying Bullock and his staff to defend the thing once the feds try and enforce their regulations.

Awesome, huh?

You wonder why all the escaped convicts run here? Wonder why we have all those crazy doomsday groups here? Nazis?

And you can damned well bet Marbut considers himself a conservative. Spending taxpayer money to defend his political agenda follies.

Consider, too, the irony of him having to file in federal court. Kinda makes me laugh – him filing a suit without standing in federal court, asking the feds to basically give him legitimacy.

Gotta love that.

~~~~~
Want to learn more about Marbut and Joel Boniek (the sponsor the bill mentioned above)? Check out this previous post which includes a YouTube video of Marbut and Boniek’s appearance on Fox News w/Glenn Beck.

Wonder if ol’ Glenn Beck and Fox News will cover this dismissal?

by jhwygirl

Supermontanareporter John S. Adams, of the Great Falls Tribune, reports that long-time director of the tourism bureau, housed under the Department of Commerce, was suddenly without employment Friday afternoon.

Was she fired? As Adams posts in his not-blogged-often-enough The Lowdown, Shirley Baumgart – who had been in her position since 2002 – had not told anyone of her plans to leave. Staff and tourist industry people throughout the state were shocked of the news.

Recently appointed director of the Department of Commerce, Dore Schwinden, confirmed on Friday that Ms. Baumgart had left her position, but would not confirm the circumstances.

Baumgart’s department is the third high-level departure from the Department of Commerce in recent months. Director Schwinden, in fact, is very newly appointed – the former director, Tony Preite, retired August 1st.

David Cole is the third sudden departure, who’s abrupt resignation made headlines in March when Cole told Lee Newspapers that he was forced out of his job by the Schweitzer administration. Cole said he was pushed out after he responded to a request from a GOP lawmaker regarding grants to local communities that Schweitzer had frozen. The governor’s office denied playing a role in Cole’s ouster.

I’m recalling sudden departures at the end of 2009 by the long-time director of Fish and Game, and also Health and Human Services – both on the same day. There were news articles….can’t seem to remember their names, though

by jhwygirl

Via The Clark Fork Chronicle comes news that Montana’s lone congressional representative Dennis Rehberg is in Montana holding seven listening sessions around the state.

His last stop is Missoula – tomorrow at 10 a.m. at the Continuing Education Center over at the University of Montana.

With so much going, I’m sure Montanans have a lot on their minds that Rehberg needs to listen too.

Me? He’s all over the deficit, but I’m wondering where he’s been for the last 10 years? Sleeping on a couch?

What about the state GOP’s platform which seems to have a problem with both the U.S. Constitution and the Montana Constitution? That sounds pretty unpatriotic to me…

Has he changed his position on tort reform? I’m thinking he might have….but maybe someone should ask.

How about some real regulation of the oil industry? Does he support some changes there? How’s about making them responsible for the clean-up and the jobs lost?

Just a few of the things off the top of my head.

So beat the heat – head on over to the U. (plenty of parking AND there’s a convenient bus stop less than 100 feet from the front door) and let Rehberg know what is on your mind.

by jhwygirl

I am beyond disgusted with this kind of stuff. If I’ve never written to the fact that the Constitution is the ultimate law of the land, I’ve written nothing.

Today I find that the MT GOP, at its most recent convention, re-affirmed its 2008 platform calling for making homosexual acts criminal.

And lest you think I’m making this up – mainly because the page link I provided has been removed today by the MT GOP – here is a cached version, courtesy of the google.

Now – these Einsteins of the MT GOP apparently have no respect for the Montana Constitution, nor the United State’s Constitution. See, both the Montana Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States of America have struck down “anti-sodomy” laws.

The Montana Supreme Court did so in Gryczan v. State, 942 P.2d 112 (1997). Not only that, Gryczan and the right of privacy it has conferred has been reaffirmed over and over again by both the Montana courts and other state and federal courts repeatedly since its rendering.

The United States Supreme Court struck down anti-sodomy laws in Lawrence et. al. V. Texas (02-102) 539 U.S. 558 (2003), finding a constitutional protection to sexuality. Only Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

In other words – it’s no government’s business what anyone does in their bedroom.

Where does it stop, MT GOP? What is it you want? Are there not enough problems out there facing Montanan’s? Have you no respect for the ultimate law of our land? Of our nation?

By Goddess, something is really failing us here, Montana – I am gosh darn sick and tired of politicians on both sides of the aisle proposing voting for passing and signing bills into law that violate the constitution (be it the Montana Constitution or the Constitution of the United States).

It’s beyond disrespectful that politicians think they can push the boundaries of these precious documents as if saying to The People “Go ahead and sue me – you can’t afford the fight.”

It’s pretty friggin’ simple – policies must obey rules; rules must obey laws; laws must obey the Constitution. It’s not a “sometimes” thing. It’s not something that should only followed when it’s convenient or when the “other party” is in charge

It’s all the time.

by jhwygirl

A little over a week ago I wrote about the Mineral County Sheriff’s race which was turning strange – in my opinion – with a candidate promising to sue the county in which he was seeking a job. He also promised not to enforce federal laws.

This kind of talk is dangerous. Frankly, it’s a little crazy.

Mineral County is facing a financial crisis (as are many government entities here and around the U.S.) – and along with the sheriff’s race, the primary election also includes a 3-year temporary 25-mill levy to ensure adequate staffing for the sheriff’s department. One candidate is against the levy, yet – of course – this teabagger state’s right fiscal conservative Constitutionalist would sue the county (with what $, I don’t know) in order to get the staffing that the county sheriff’s department so desperately needs.

Mineral County, though is facing a larger crisis of ideology. They’ve been through this before, and John Q. Murray reminds Mineral County residents – and the rest of us – with an interview with outgoing Sheriff Hopwood of the dangers Constitutionalists like Rand Paul and (while he doesn’t mention him by name), primary sheriff’s candidate Ernie Ornelas.

And he’s right – they’re not crazy – they’re dangerous.

If anyone has been up Fish Creek recently, they know that there is one of these lunatic Constitutionalists established up there, staking claim to parts of the Lolo National Forest. These people are scary, make no mistake.

Murray gives readers a history lesson in not only Mineral County’s not-too-terribly-recent past, but the Civil War and the dangers of these political ideologues that wage a verbal and ideological war against the U.S. Constitution. The take that foundation of our very government and twist its words to try and deflate its importance in an attempt to make not only states (but in this case) local sheriff’s supreme.

And while it may sound like crazy talk, and something that should be ignored, the reality is that turning the other way is more dangerous as this talk fertilizes the community as a haven for others to plant themselves.

Right here in Mineral County, Sheriff Hugh Hopwood has encountered self-professed “Constitutionalists” and “free white males” who claim they are not subject to taxes and motor vehicle laws. Elsewhere they have filed bogus tax liens against elected officials, convened their own grand juries, and issued bogus warrants to arrest judges and sheriffs.

“We worked very hard, for years, starting under Sheriff O’Brien, to get the White Supremacists and the Constitutionalists under check. We were the laughingstock of the nation when the Church of the Creator held their meetings here, and when the Church of the True Israel held their meeting up Highway 135,” Sheriff Hopwood said. “I’m worried that Mineral County will be seen as a place favorable to those extreme points of view. Once you open that door, then it is hard as hell to get it closed again.”

The danger isn’t from the people currently in Mineral County. They know their local and state candidates and their characters. The danger is from people outside who will interpret these statements as establishing a safe haven for racism and anti-government agitation. A very real danger is that they will misconstrue these remarks as suggesting a nice big welcome mat for white supremacists.

Mineral County needs the door not only shut tight, but locked, deadbolted, barred, and wired with live current to keep out the white supremacists and their twisted brand of evil.

Murray, former sheriff O’Brien, current Sheriff Hugh Hopwood and sheriff’s candidate Mike Johnson (who has directly challenged the notion of a Constitutionalist sheriff who won’t enforce federal laws) are bravely doing the job of true patriots – standing up to hate and dangerous ideology much like those that spoke out against the South as the dangerously brought this country to civil war.

I laud these guys for doing this – and I hope that the residents of Mineral County understand the dangers they face and turn out in droves to shut Ornela down.

~~~~~~
Further confirming that Ornelas is dangerous is the fact that he was endorsed by the one-man show, Missoula’s Gary Marbut/Montana Shooting Sport’s Association. Please note in this video that he calls himself president of the MSSA, and refers to it as political action group and touts the number of laws he has pushed through the Montana legislature.

Marbut has failed to register as a lobbyist for his work in Helena – where, during legislative sessions, he lives Monday-Friday. He’s also known for his intimidation tactics to those who won’t vote for his gun bills (and was pretty darn successful at it last session). Rep. Margie Campbell stood up and pleaded with the even split house and urged her fellow Democrats to not cave to the intimidation tactics of the gun lobby. Unfortunately, they did not listen to this wise woman (who is not anti-gun), and passed several horrible gun bills including HB228 and HB246.

Both were signed into law by Governor Brian Schweitzer.

By CFS

“We are the army out to free men!” – Sheriff Richard Mack

I just want to get back to building an army and preparing for a revolution.” – Schaeffer Cox

“While the State exists there can be no freedom; when there is freedom there will be no State. – Vladimir Lenin

That last quote by Lenin could have easily come from the mouth of your average American Libertarian.

This last weekend saw Ravalli County political group Celebrating Conservatism host the first ever Liberty Convention held at the Adams Center on The University of Montana campus.  While the Adams Center might have seemed a little hollow with so few people in attendance, that fact didn’t  seem to bother the convention organizers.  “This,” said Mona Docteur, the driving force behind much of Celebrating Conservatism’s activities, “was mainly a chance to network with like minded individuals.”  But while the numbers might have been small, the philosophical foundation from which the Liberty movement is building upon is not; it is bold, steeped Western anti-government sentiment and rugged individualism, and wants to radically change the relationship between the individual and the state.

The fact that Conservatism is in the name of the group is an insult to true Conservatives.  Conservatism as a political and social philosophy is one that respects traditional institutions that work to uphold the functioning of a society and rejects radical change.  Many of the people brought into speak at the Liberty Convention made a point to specifically call for a radical break from current political institutions and radically reshape American society.  On the surface of things, Celebrating Conservatism and many similar small groups around Montana and the West are pushing for many policies that many would associate with conservatism… gun rights,  states sovereignty, small government, and individual freedom.

Peel back the public veneer and what this movement wants is much more radical; a libertarian utopia devoid of any from of central government “tyranny,” and ultimate freedom for the individual.  When speaking about the “proper” role of government Gary Marbut – local Missoula gun rights advocate and author of the Firearms Freedom Act – questioned whether building highways was a legitimate use of government authority.  If a so called  “conservative” is questioning the building of roads you can imagine his opinion on the BLM, Forest Service, Social Security, DUI laws, etc.  To them, individuals should operate as they see fit without any regulation upon behavior… except for vigilante justice dispensed by local citizen militias and an armed populace.  I guess a clean gun is supposed to make for good neighbors.

Many of the speakers at the convention expressly stated such beliefs based not only upon political philosophy but also scripture.  2008 Constitution Party Presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin – whom spoke Friday night – in a May 19th 2010 article available on his website predicts the breakup of the United States and applauds the prospect of states succeeding from the union (in the same article he also claims that bringing women into the military is a globalist plot to make our military less efficient and weaken our national security to the point that wee can’t operate without UN support).

Red Beckman – perpetual tax protester and long time militia movement supporter – shared this same view that the tyrannical Federal Government will be brought down because we as a nation have forsaken God and that, just as the USSR was brought down by God, the Federal Government will disappear as part of God’s will.  He also stated that illegal immigration was God’s curse on this nation for the Roe v. Wade decision.  They don’t just see the fall of the American Empire… they actively want to push it over the edge.

This group sees themselves as being oppressed by a tyrannical and unjust government that time and again ignores the constitution and has usurped individual freedom.  How they propose to reshape the political landscape is truly nothing short of a revolution.  Red Beckman implored the audience to follow the example of Romanian soldiers whom in 1989 turned on and killed the dictator.

The one feature of language used throughout the convention that surprised me was the constant allusions to and mentioning of “building an army.”  Speakers referred to the audience as “foot soldiers” and Mona Docteur asked them to, “stand on the front lines.”  As much as they disparaged against socialism, communism, and specifically the Bolshevik Revolutionaries it seems that they share much in common with the Bolsheviks in their formative year.  The pattern of history the Liberty Movement sees themselves part of is awkwardly similar to how Marx and Lenin foretold the fall of the oppressive Tsarist regime.

Just as the Bolsheviks saw themselves as the awakened and enlightened vanguard that would lead Russia to a proletariat democratic utopia; the Liberty Movement’s professional revolutionaries  on display this last weekend talked of “leading the charge,” and “bringing enlightenment to the rest of America,” from this small base of people that can, “see the truth,” of how oppressive and tyrannical the government is.  Speaker Schaeffer Cox – Fairbanks, AK militia organizer – talked of, “being right on the edge of having to bloody our swords… revolutions are not instituted, they are provoked, and they are provoked by government.”  Sounds oddly like “a revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation,” declared by Vladimir Lenin.

The normal person involved in these meetings and the movement are just that… normal people that are simply fed-up with the current political atmosphere and I’m sure they wouldn’t consider themselves revolutionary.  A lot of the allusions to revolution might be hyperbole… but it seems to me that these luminaries, the professional revolutionaries of the Liberty Movement, believe what they are saying.  They are in no why cynical and actually quite optimistic in their assessment of what they can and will accomplish and are attempting to build a larger coalition across the West.

Groups like these feed off of troubling and uncertain times and today is full a many challenges and uncertainties about the future.  Just as in the 1930s this country, saw a large uptick in communist and fascist party membership people today are looking for a fresh political movement that will provide a clear way forward and a promising future to those that currently see only despair.  While this movement is small today no group that openly talks of revolution should be ignored.  Rather they should be studied to understand the mechanisms by which they operate and grow so that their very legitimate concerns may be addressed within society at large.

Vladimir Lenin established his first revolutionary group in 1895, it wasn’t until 1917 that the revolution came to fruition… jolted violently to life by the collapse of the Russian economy after WWI.  The Liberty Movement is predicting such a collapse… hoping for such a collapse… and biding their time until such a collapse happens.

by jhwygirl

Here you go, smokey – here’s some of that irony I was talking about.

Remember just a few months ago when the Good Gov was blocking payments to Sen. Greg Barkus’ friends – $600,000 in state money to clean up environmental contamination on a site that Swank bought at a discounted price knowing it had to clean it up?

The Good Gov was rounding up all kinds of cash, slashing money for remodeling of the state hospital, asking for money-saving ideas from citizens, and cutting funding for lots of obscure boards. Populists loved it….even when he took the school trust money $86 million from the Otter Creek coal leases and added it to the general budget to shore up slipping revenues.

Last month, Schweitzer approved a freeze on provider-rate increases as part of a $40 million cut in state spending. This cut will cost $2 million to Montana nursing homes, which care for about 3,000 people funded by Medicaid. That’s 60 percent of their patients.

These cuts can’t occur without rule changes – and public comment is due May 28th. A hearing was held Wednesday – this link takes you to the public notice from the Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS).

Rose Hughes, executive director of the Montana Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes, said Montana pays an average of $161 a day for nursing home patients covered by Medicaid, while the average cost for all patients is $179 a day.

Hughes argued Wednesday it’s not necessary to cancel the scheduled 2 percent increase in Medicaid rates, because the state’s budget picture has improved since earlier this year and Congress may approve additional Medicaid funding for all states.

She also said that as much as $1.6 million in state Medicaid nursing-home funds remain unspent, because of fewer “patient days” than expected this year.

Nursing-home administrators said they’re already operating on a very thin margin and that freezing Medicaid rates can’t help but affect care for all elderly residents.

“It’s going to result in diminished quality of care,” said Jackie Meyers, director of nursing at Laurel Health and Rehabilitation Center. “It will result in increased unemployment. … Nursing home care is a necessity. It’s not a luxury.”

DPHHS is facing serious cuts – and we’ve not even gotten into the 2011 legislative session where the legislature is going to have to make deeper cuts to make up for the last-minute budget deal in the ’09 session in which permanent cuts were made that were shored up with stimulus cash. If it was one agency where this shouldn’t have been done, it was DPHHS.

Check out the DPHHS public notice page – there are cuts proposed to Medicaid inpatient and outpatient hospital services, cuts proposed to Medicaid reimbursement for hearing aid services, outpatient drugs, and eyeglasses, early and periodic screening, diagnostic and treatment services.

Cuts to home and community-based services for adults with severe disabling mental illness. Cuts to psychiatric residential treatment facility services.

The list goes on.

Many of these things are part of that “an ounce of prevention goes a long way” type of things? Early screening? Psychiatric treatment? Long-term effects will be felt in communities throughout the state.

I’m glad our Governor is watching out for our budget and working hard to keep us flush….but is he consistent? I have trouble seeing it. And as a Democrat, you’d think he’d find other things to save cash – like, perhaps, the Department of Livestock and its hazing of Yellowstone bison? Especially when you consider that our own State Veterinarian has verified that every known transmission of brucellosis to livestock has been the result of interaction with elk, and not bison.

How much does that hazing cost?

But cutting DPHHS services for Medicaid patients? Yeah – irony abounds. This is one where I find that both irony and inconsistency.




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