Archive for the ‘Paul Clark’ Category

by Pete Talbot

Dear President-elect Obama,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An unpleasant aside

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

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

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

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

I love Missoula

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

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

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

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

Ravalli County blues

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

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

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

Statewide conundrum

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

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

We’re a two party country

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

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

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

And finally

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

by jhwygirl


So, when is negative campaigning not negative campaigning? When it’s the truth.

Republican candidate Greg Hinkle, during a candidate forum held in May, said:

I signed a taxpayer pledge not to vote for any increase in taxes, period, unless they’re revenue-neutral. So having said that, I will not vote for any increase in taxes and because of what I explained too and anybody can look at this later, I will not vote for any federal funding of state programs. That’s got to change. We have to wean ourself off of that.”

In seeking better clarity to the issue, the Clark Fork Chronicle sent the candidates further questions, due mainly to questions that arose from Judy Stang’s statement regarding Greg Hinkle when she withdrew from the state senate race in mid-October. When she withdrew from the race, Stang endorsed Hinkle’s opponent, Paul Clark.

The Clark Fork Chronicle sent clarifying questions – you can see them in this article – and Hinkle avoids answering the Chronicle’s question altogether (the Chroncle’s own words: “Greg Hinkle did not respond to the questions,”) instead sending a statement saying that he was taken out of context, and that he would take federal funds for “transportation, etc….,” but then goes on to say that “However, I do believe our state must end our dependence on these funds as much as possible. It’s vital we ensure that we have a local revenue safety net should those funds dry up.”

Hmmm, where exactly is he going to find funds for a local revenue safety net?

Further – let’s keep in mind here that Mineral County looking to go to essentially 90% federal ownership if and when Plum Creek lands are sold into the Legacy Project. So you have a county with a total population of less than 4,000 people, and a land area size of 1,220 square miles, and Hinkle wants the local population to stave off federal funds and find a local revenue safety net?

Like taxes, anyone?

Paul Clark, on the other hand, answered the Chronicle’s questions, showing a depth of knowledge about the fiscal role that the federal government plays in a rural area like SD-7, calling for more local control over natural resource management issues like logging, and citing a desire to look into a potential agreement between state and federal land managers that would put even more money into the state’s school trust fund.

Read it all for yourself.

So who, ultimately, is showing a better knowledge of the issues that face SD-7? Who has spoken consistently and avoided double-talk?

Vote Paul Clark for SD-7. Help avoid the cluster mess that the Montana Legislature experienced in 2007, and let’s move Montana forward.

Hell, why not throw the guy a couple of bucks, too? It’s darn hard to run a senate campaign in such a large senate district. Here’s a link to his ActBlue page.

by Pete Talbot

Stang out

Judy Stang (S.D. 7) is ending her write-in bid and throwing her support behind the Democratic candidate, Paul Clark. This is good news. Ms. Stang lost a tight primary race to Mr. Clark and then filed as a write in. She has since withdrawn her write-in campaign, which had the potential to peel away votes from Clark and help elect far-right Republican Greg Hinkle. Thanks, Judy. (Curse you, jhwygirl, you scooped me by 18 minutes.)

Pink eye

Driving across the state last weekend, I was assaulted, time-after-time, by huge, pink apparitions. Turned out they were Elaine Sollie Herman (Republican candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction) billboards. I’ve got to admit, they’re eye catching (in a Mary Kay sort of way) and she has a lot of them up. I’m not sure it will be enough to defeat Democrat Denise Juneau in this three-way race. Juneau has campaigned hard across the state and done well at fund raising, too.

Hightower in Helena

If you’ve never seen author, radio personailty and the former Texas Agriculture Commissioner in the flesh, it would be worth your while to head over to the Capital City this Friday evening. Jim Hightower (billed on his website as “America’s #1 Populist”) will be speaking at 7:30 p.m. on October 24 in the Oriental Room at the Great Northern Hotel (which is a little bit north of Last Chance Gulch). I saw him twice in Missoula in the 1990’s. He’s witty and thoughtful, and will speak to “what can be done to put things right in America after eight years of Bush.” The event is sponsored by the Progressive Democrats of Montana and it will cost you $20 at the door.

by jhwygirl

Judy Stang, a write-in candidate for SD-7 (Senator Jim Elliott’s termed-out seat) has withdrawn from the race, endorsing her Democratic opponent Paul Clark along the way.

SD-7 encompasses parts of Sanders, Missoula and most of Mineral County. HD-13 is located within Sanders County.

(Senator Jim Elliott is now a candidate for HD-13, and a mighty fine one at that. I’m hoping we get to keep Jim around.)

Here is Judy Stang’s statement:

After a considerable amount of thought I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for election to the Montana Senate and endorse Paul Clark for Senate District 7. I would like to thank the people and organizations that supported me over the last few months.

I am endorsing Paul Clark because his Republican opponent, Greg Hinkle has publicly announced that Montana should not accept any Federal funding. That seems too extreme to me and will cost Mineral, Missoula , and Sanders County too many jobs. Working in politics for 18 years I have seen the benefits of Federal funding and could not imagine local and state governments, schools and rural health care functioning without this funding.

Just in Mineral County the schools rely on Federal funding for many of their programs. The county has done numerous low-income housing projects that have allowed folks on fixed or low incomes to have homeownership, plus a better quality of housing. The revenues from highway construction have a huge impact on our local economy, and create good paying jobs for Montanans. Even counties have numerous services that have monies from the federal government that trickles down to our level.

My main reasons for running was to see this District represented in a non-partisan way. We need more candidates in politics that remember to represent the constituents of their districts and not become party clones. The last legislature was an indication of what happens when representatives do not have the courage to go outside of their party leaders issues and really give and take on solutions. It is going to take a lot of non-partisan work to bring this state around.

After talking with Paul, I am convinced that he will be a strong advocate for Mineral, Sanders, and the Frenchtown area of Missoula Counties. In fact, after numerous debates and questionnaires from newspapers, I have noticed our solutions to the issues are very similar. He has promised to work across ideological lines to find solutions to the problems important to all Montanans and to keep in touch with counties, schools, hospitals and local constituents during the legislative session. Paul will work hard to bring better paying jobs to rural Montana , support responsible development and work to increase access to affordable health care.

by Pete Talbot

(In computer parlance, they’re called emoticons, but I’ve hated smiley faces since they first appeared in the 1970’s. That being said, I can’t for the life of me figure out how to embed a ‘thumbs-up’ or ‘thumbs-down’ emoticon in a post, so you’ll have to put up with smiley faces in this week’s review of events.)

:( Judy Stang. In what was already considered a tight race in Senate District 7, with Democrat Paul Clark running against Republican Greg Hinkle, Ms. Stang filed as a write-in candidate. She’d lost a close primary battle with Clark earlier in the season — the key word here being “lost.” Now she has the potential to hand the race to the Republican candidate, thereby giving the state senate a Republican majority. Thanks a lot, Judy.

:) Missoula Red Tape. Missoulian city beat reporter Keila Szpaller and county beat reporter Chelsi Moy have teamed up on a new blog site (it’s new to me, anyway). It offers some insights into local government that might not make it into the daily dead tree edition. Welcome to the ‘sphere, you two. Missoulian blogs tend to ebb and flow. Here’s hoping that this one stays around.

:( Roy Brown. Gubernatorial candidate Brown has the same respect for the scientific community as VP candidate Sarah Palin, that is to say none. He vows increased coal mining and more coal-fired generating plants in Montana if elected. What part of human-caused global warming, much of it coming from the burning of coal, don’t these people fathom?

:) Barack Obama and Dave Stewart. This latest music video has been making the rounds but I haven’t seen it linked to on any of the blog sites I usually visit — so here it is. Enjoy.

:( Direct TV. Yes, I know, Direct TV employs a bunch of people at its call center here in Missoula. That still doesn’t make up for the fact that it shows no local programming (including Grizzly games!). I live in a place that gets a really poor local signal and I hooked up to Direct TV quite awhile ago. Guess I’m going to have to switch over to Dish or maybe even Bresnan. They both carry the local stations.

by Pete Talbot

Here’s a new election strategy: don’t campaign. It worked for John Driscoll, who raised no money and did no campaigning and beat odds-on favorite Jim Hunt in the Democratic primary for the U.S. House.

Then there’s the Bob Kelleher win in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Granted, Kelleher did some campaigning (I saw a couple newspaper ads) but still, that had to send shock waves through the Montana Republican establishment. Bob Kelleher! He has run for almost every elected office under almost every conceivable party banner. And check out those eyebrows.

Closer to home, the Missoula County Commissioner race isn’t over yet. Dennis Daneke is ahead by four votes. He campaigned hard. The third place finisher, Jeff Patterson, also campaigned. But I saw nothing from the second place finisher, Michele Landquist — and she could be the winner after the final canvass next Tuesday.

You can go here for Missoula County results and here for the statewide totals.

A couple of other surprises, for me anyway: I thought Mike Wheat would take the attorney general Democratic primary. But Steve Bullock won it with around 9000 more votes, statewide.

In Senate District 7, Democratic candidate Paul Clark went to bed trailing Judy Stang. In the morning, though, he was up by 166 votes and will face Greg Hinkle in the general.

Some folks were surprised that Willis Curdy, a high school teacher and Democratic candidate in House District 100, lost to Gary Brown. Brown did a serious get-out-the-vote effort in the final days of the campaign to win 722-654.

Not as surprising was Denise Juneau’s strong finish. She beat her closest rival, Holly Raser, in Raser’s home county of Missoula (by only 140 votes, but still … ). Statewide Juneau received 18,130 more votes than Raser.

The Republicans stayed away in droves. My unofficial statewide count is 181,906 Democrats casting ballots and 95,252 Republicans.

Did Republicans cross over to vote in the Democratic primary? Local blogger Andy Hammond, at Rush Limbaugh’s request, was urging Republicans to do just that and to vote to keep Hillary Clinton running as long as possible so the the Democratic Party would stay splintered and in disarray. Since Barack Obama beat Clinton 102,544 to 75,053 statewide (16,423 to 8084 in Missoula County), I guess that strategy didn’t work.

by Pete Talbot

For the June 3, primary election, the fledgling Progressive Democrats of Montana have endorsed candidates in eight legislative races and one PSC contest. The endorsed candidates, all Democrats, will also receive the maximum contribution of $160.

“Some very difficult choices had to be made between excellent candidates,” said Paul Edwards, PDM Chairman. “The endorsed candidates have a proven progressive track record” and “they bothered to return the PDM questionnaire,” he added.

PDM is a statewide membership organization founded in January, 2007. It works for social, economic, political and environmental justice. PDM is not a third party and has filed as a Political Action Committee with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices.

From a PDM press release, here are the endorsed candidates:










(Full disclosure: I’m a member of the Progressive Democrats of Montana and sit on its board. I was not, however, on the committee that pored over the questionnaires and narrowed the field to the above candidates. The committee did a good job and made some tough decisions. I imagine there are a few other races out there that could have used PDM endorsements. This is the organization’s first foray into the endorsement process and it will only get broader as the procedures are refined, and more candidates are willing to stick their necks out.)

Here is a post by 4&20’s own Jay Stevens which gives some background on PDM. Jay links to mainstream media stories and op-ed pieces. And in 4&20’s constant effort to remain objective, you’ll see some criticism of PDM in that post and in the comments. The last comment you’ll see is a superbly crafted response to the criticism, written by yours truly.

by Jay Stevens 

John Adams has a good summation of the hearing around Trudi Schmidt’s teen program licensure bill.

(If you haven’t seen my posts on this topic before, check them out.)

The interest in licensing teen programs was sparked by abuses that took place at Spring Creek Lodge Academy.

In 2005 the Legislature passed a bill creating the Montana Board of Private Alternative Adolescent Residential or Outdoor Programs (PAARP). Later that year the five-member board—which includes three industry representatives—went to work examining the benefits of licensing such schools. Last summer the panel released a 64-page report recommending that the Legislature grant it another two years to continue considering registration and licensure.

Schmidt wasn’t satisfied with the board’s recommendations, so she responded by introducing SB 288.

What Adams doesn’t mention, is that the 2005 bill was sponsored by Trout Creek Democrat Paul Clark, who himself runs a teen program. Considering that three of the five members of the board created in 2005 belong to the industry (and one seat belongs to a representative from Spring Creek), it’s no wonder they failed to accomplish anything.

A licensure program needs to be created and created now.

According to Adams’ piece, the hearing made evident the widespread support for Trudi Schmidt’s bill from former students, health professionals, and educators. Those that opposed the bill?

The only programs on the record opposing the legislation were Spring Creek Lodge Academy of Thompson Falls and Monarch School of Heron.
Only two people verbally testified in opposition to the bill. The first was Gary Spaeth, a lobbyist for the Montana Alternative Adolescent Private Programs (MAAPP), an organization Spaeth said represents “between 10 and 12” programs operating in Montana (Spaeth couldn’t recall which Montana schools were members of MAAPP, nor could Patrick McKenna, director of Monarch School and the organization’s president).

Spaeth wants the industry to be able to transfer licenses, like alcohol or solid waste. (Senator Kim Gillan: “I found that comment sort of a strange analogy given that we’re talking about children.”)

Spaeth is also against expanding the oversight board so that the industry is in the minority:

According to [Patrick] McKenna, having a lopsided number of board members who don’t represent the industry could stifle innovation at the expense of the teens in the programs.

But we’ve clearly seen the effects of an industry-dominated oversight board. Nothing got done.

Trudi Schmidt’s bill is popular and effective. Let’s get it done. Kids’ lives are at stake.

(There’s a link to the committee hearing audio. I haven’t listened to it yet, but I will and will bring you the highlights. Also, there’s a draft version of a modified version of Schmidt’s bill — LC 1003 — that’s sponsored by Democratic Senator Jim Elliot. I’ll be taking a look at that, too. So there’s more to come…)

by Jay Stevens 

Montana has a loads of “behavior modification programs” for at-risk teens. We’ve got the rugged terrain they thrive on, and a distinct lack of oversight.

The programs generally rely on a boot-camp-like atmosphere combined with an almost cultish message and style, especially the schools subscribing to the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs theory of behavior modification. The member, and former member schools, divide teens into “family” groups, use a points system, and demand complete obsequious to the program’s “message.” Oh, and the kids can’t leave.

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding these schools – some claim that it’s institutionalized child abuse – several have been shut down, and there are scads of lawsuits out against these schools. The most notorious incident involved the suffocating death of a fourteen-year old boy, Martin Lee Anderson, at the hands of “boot camp” guards – which was caught on film.

Montana’s most controversial program is at Spring Creek Lodge, where a girl recently committed suicide and a boy was savagely beaten by fellow inmates. The Independent’s John Adams has written extensively on the abuses at Spring Creek Lodge and other schools: I heartily recommend reading every word he’s written on the subject.

In the last state legislative session, responding to allegations of abuse, HB 628 put oversight of Montana teen programs into the hands of a five-person governor-appointed board under the Department of Labor and Industry – the brain child of Representative Paul Clark (D-Trout Creek), who also runs a teen program, and an intensive lobbying campaign on behalf of the teen program industry.

The problem with this solution is that it puts the foxes in charge of the hen house: three of the board’s members are representatives of the industry, and the bill ducks licensure of teen programs, as proposed by Senator Trudi Schmidt (D-Great Falls) in SB 101, which would also put regulation under the Department of Health and Human Services. That makes sense – the problem with the teen programs is with the mental and physical well-being of the program participants, not labor issues.

If Adams’ well-written and –researched stories don’t underscore the importance of decent licensing of the industry, check out Montana PBS’ documentary, “Who’s Watching the Kids?” which is a great summary of all the issues and provides video evidence of abuse.

Or check out the testimony on sites created by teen behavioral modification “survivors,” like the Community Alliance for the Fair and Ethical Treatment of Youth,” and the “Coalition Against Institutionalized Child Abuse.”

Bottom line is this: Maybe the programs work. Maybe they don’t. But kids have died, and it’s our responsibility to ensure that abuse isn’t occurring at these teen programs. We need real oversight. We need a real and effective licensing program.

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