Archive for the ‘Roy Brown’ Category

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?

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by Pete Talbot

We’ll deal with pot first, which is being assaulted by Republicans and the media. 2008 Republican gubernatorial candidate Roy Brown had this to say about current Montana medical marijuana laws:

“… and when their peers in junior high have (medical marijuana) cards, it just sends the absolutely wrong message.”

Show me one junior high kid who has an authentic medical marijuana card, Roy. But fear speaks louder than facts at the Republican convention in Billings, and Brown wants Montana voters to repeal the law that they passed by 60% in 2004. The final language adopted in the platform came from Victor Republican Jim Shockley, which urged that the law be repealed or amended.

At least Gov. Schweitzer, the guy who beat Brown for governor, did a little research before opening his mouth. While touring a marijuana caregiver’s facility in Missoula, he said that although the law needed some revision, he didn’t like the idea of taking the herb away from those in need.

Our hometown daily, however, feels differently. Sunday’s rabid Missoulian editorial took a page right out of the Republican play book of fear with peripheral horror stories and this rejoinder:

Until the state can straighten out the rampant problems with the Medical Marijuana Act, Missoula should order existing dispensaries to cease doing business and impose an immediate moratorium on new shops.

I can agree that the law needs some tweaking and a moratorium on new shops could be in order, but existing dispensaries should cease doing business? Missoulian editorials of late rarely take this strong a stand — not on the economy or health care or war or climate change — just on pot.

On to wolves.

Photo: Kurt Wilson/Missoulian

Wolves aren’t endangered, kids in camo and their folks told District Judge Don Molloy. Elk and other ungulates are the ones in danger from wolves, said the sign carriers in front of the Missoula Federal Courthouse.

At issue is the re-listing of wolves as an endangered species, being heard in Federal District Court.

A host of other factors like loss of access, private hunts and game farms are affecting hunters. Include climate change and habitat loss and other threats besides wolves, and the reduction in wildlife numbers becomes a more complicated debate.

But you don’t usually see this crowd at wilderness hearings, environmental rallies or public access meetings. No, it’s the federal government these folks are mad at, as usual. They’re the Tea Party of the hunting crowd.

by jhwygirl

There is a correction in this post, below, for HB75

This post is just for Monday and Tuesday. 105 committee hearings for just those two days. Keep in mind, too, that this is all on the downhill side, too – and I need to remember that also. Floor hearings are becoming all the more important, too. I will be making an effort to get up brief previews as stuff hits the floor. Those will be, please note, don’t-delay, email-or-call-today types of notices.

Last Thursday – and then Friday – were two disappointments – both SB425, the “Walleye Welfare” bill, and SB497, the “it protects protesters from people that are entering health care clinics” bill both passed 2nd and 3rd readings in the Senate – on a nearly party-line vote. These were no-go bills from my perspective – and others – so that they passed is a bad thing.

Is there any good to report out of that? Well, in committee, both bills passed unanamously out of committee – SB425 a 9-0 vote our of Senate Fish & Game, and SB497 a 12-0 vote out of Senate Judiciary. By the time they hit the floor, all of the Democratic committee members – save one on each of those bills – had changed their vote. So while the bills weren’t killed on the floor, clearly there was movement. Is there more good? There’s still another chance at these bills – they’re now in their respective House committees….which means ongoing public comment should continue, and may have an affect. So keep it up.

Now, onto the task at hand, shall we?

Monday has an interesting one – the topic of which we’ve blogged about here previously. Rep. Scott Sales has HB526, which would require the use of regular road salt and prohibit the use of magnesium chloride and calcium chloride on state and county roads. Now..boy. What do you say about this? The bill started out prohibiting salt – and I could see where that was too unspecific, so as originally proposed it has been amended. But amended to prohibit magnesium and calcium chloride? When both are more effective? And road salt is more corrosive? And worse for water quality? What are these people thinking? This is House Appropriations (another crazy place for it – it was originally in House Transportation – and me, I’d love to see this in House Natural Resources) – Samuel Speerschneider the secretary – sspeerschneider@mt.gov.

Here’s another one of those crazy unconstitutional ones: Rep. Joel Boniek has HB246 which would “Exempt(ing) from the federal regulation under the commerce clause of the constitution of the United States a firearm accessory, or ammunition manufactured and retained in Montana”. Honestly. The lunacy. And the waste of time. Boniek and the rest of the loonies that are proposing this kind of stuff should be embarrassed.

Sen. Jeff Essman has an interesting one: SB348, which would put forth a constitutional amendment to Montanan’s that would result in yearly legislative sessions that would alternate between regular and budgetary. This passed through the Senate overwhelmingly – 42-8. Now – I don’t know what I think about this: On one hand, if ridiculous legislation (like the one above, for example) weren’t getting proposed, maybe there wouldn’t be a need for annual sessions. On the other hand, 90 days has rarely been enough time to get stuff done. The cost of annual sessions – the fiscal note gets away from addressing it all together by basically saying nothing is going to happen until a time period out of our purview – would be significant. Further, we have interim sessions now where real analysis and attempts at bi-partisan agreement are worked out on significant issues. When would that stuff get done? If someone could explain that to me, maybe then I could support it – but as it stands now, we got a 90 day session that essentially focuses on the “regular” stuff like approving proposed bills that affect every day life, water quality, air quality, taxes, etc., and they have nominal hearings that are politically driven, with little substance given to true analysis, whether fiscal or scientific, of the effects. Would Essman’s proposal result in year-after-year of that? No analysis, just politically-driven decisions. If so, hell no. I wish the legislators would consider all that before they go putting forth a constitutional amendment to the voters that would result in a politically-driven decision that would then result in year-after-year of politically-driven decisions.

Sen. Carol C. Juneau wants to regulate the sale of alcoholic energy drinks with SB438. This one passed nicely out of the Senate, and hopefully finds the same support in the House. In House Business & Labor, Santella Baglivo the secretary – sbaglivo@mt.gov.

I’m going to have to split this post, people, so please click Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Perhaps some of you saw AP reporter Kahrin Deines’ story, today, in the Missoulian?

Glaring out to me in her reporting of Sen. Dan McGee’s foolish SB80 and SB81 bills that are working through the Senate was this statement:

No Democrats voted for either of the bills.

Now, while that statement, in and of itself, is accurate, it infers that it was a partisan vote and it deflects the truth – that there were Republicans that didn’t support the bills either.

Vote tabulations for SB80.
Vote tabulations for SB81.

What SB80 does is submit to the voters of the state an amendment to Article X, Section 9 of the Montana Constitution that have the members of the state board of regents of higher education elected instead of appointed by the governor, in overlapping terms.

SB81 does the same for the state board of education.

Which Republicans didn’t vote for the bills? Well, on SB81 (voted first) the following vote “Nay”: Sen. Rick Liable; Sen. Terry Murphy; Sen. Jim Peterson; Sen. Don Steinbesser; Sen. Bruce Tutvedt; and Sen. Ryan Zinke.

Not quite the partisan vote the Missoulian article would lead you to believe?

Then, on SB80, held a short 24 minutes later, former gubernatorial candidate Sen. Roy Brown, Sen. Jerry Black, and Sen. Rick Ripley were added to that list of “Nays” above.

Added.

Why newpaper reporters get lazy and don’t analyze the vote better before they make a blanket biased statement like Ms. Deines did, I don’t know.

SB80 and SB81 are bad bills. We shouldn’t be changing our constitution to suit a short-term whim or a certain agenda. My lord – we had Elaine Sollie Herman running for State Superintendent – and even more scarier, she got 201,091 votes. By contrast, Denise Juneau, who won, got 234,483 votes.

Scary.

A 2/3 vote of the entire legislature is needed to get this before the votes. Frankly, I doubt the voters would approve – and why waste the money?

Beyond that, what true conservative would propose, advocate or vote for a bill that works to amend the state’s constitution? That seems like a pretty unconservative type of thing to do, if you ask me.

A third reading in the Senate will occur on Monday at 1 p.m.. Take time to contact these Senators listed above and thank them for their “Nay” vote – and let them know that changing our constitution is not something that should be taken lightly, for the whim of political desires.

You may also call the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800 to leave a message for as many as five legislators per call. Your message will be delivered directly to the legislators. The TTY (Telephone Device for the Deaf) number is 406-444-4462.

The Session Information Desk is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 8 a.m. to adjournment on Saturdays.

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

Certainly regular readers will remember my outrage here last year regarding the bison slaughter in Montana, outside of Yellowstone National Park, all in the the name of managing brucellosis. There are 9 previous posts, which you can get to by simply putting “brucellosis” in the little nifty search we’ve got over there on the right.

An environmental impact statement (EIS) – the highest level of NEPA review – was issued by the USFS in July by Bridger-Teton National Forest Supervisor Kniffy Hamilton sanctioning, for 20 more years, elk feedgrounds within said National Forest. At the time, the Good Governor Schweitzer fired off a letter criticizing the decision, saying “Montana had done everything in its power to prevent the transmission of brucellosis to its cattle herd. Meanwhile, USDA has insisted upon application of antiquated herd-to-herd regulations for disease transmission in cattle that have nothing to do with transmission from wildlife. As a result, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming at best continue to experience a yo-yo effect with respect to brucellosis status. At worst, the net effect is a permanent loss of status.”

There were, apparently, two appeals to Hamilton’s decision – and in a news brief from Jackson Hole Radio’s Tom Ninnemann gives us the news that Schweitzer was one of the appellants to the EIS. From October 21st:

The Forest Service announced Friday its decision to uphold authorization of National Forest Land to be used for winter elk management activities by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission. Regional Forester Harv Forsgren upheld the decision made by Kniffy Hamilton, Bridger-Teton Forest Supervisor, after reviewing two appeals received on the issue. Among those speaking out against the activities was Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. The Forest Service decision is to issue a 20 year special use authorization at five of the seven locations. The decision did not include two of the feedground areas because further information is required. Supplemental feeding of elk has been conducted in northwestern Wyoming since the early 1900s.

Finally, some good common sense is prevailing in the issue.

Schweitzer addressed the issue during the Butte gubernatorial debate last month, with what the Montana Standard described as part of some spirited verbal jollys. (It was a good debate, btw – and the Montana Standards has the debate broken down to 3 audio files, the first which includes Brown’s answer to the brucellosis question, and the second, which includes Schweitzer’s thorough and knowledgeable answer.)

While Brown took to criticizing Schweitzer for his support of the split-state status, Schweizer “jollied” back that he understood “science” and that the science supports evidence that brucellosis is coming from elk, not bison, and that having the entire state’s cattle industry suffer because of it wasn’t reasonable. He went on to say that the previously approved joint-agency bison management plan was outdated given the science and current evidence.

Bravo, Governor Schweitzer.

Brown kinda stood there, obviously uneducated beyond talking points which he fumbled through (“hmmm, let’s see, where is it?” – which drew some laughter – “oh – yes, ‘segregate and slaughter’ policy.”) Even more perplexing is that after fumbling through his criticism of the “segregate and slaughter” comment, he went on to champion the two Department of Livestock members who quit because of their support of the “segregate and slaughter” policy. I mean – does Brown even understand what is going on? All it takes is some newspapers…..perhaps the use of any one of the state’s great newspaper’s search engines?

Schweitzer’s work on this issue began when he first took office 4 years ago – and the split-state status has taken hold with the federal government, who are crafting a new plan which will recognize that brucellosis is found in and around the park, and allow cattle ranchers outside of the “hot zone” to be spared the additional expenses of testing and vaccination. This link, here, will take you to the Department of Livestock’s webpage on the new Draft Brucellosis Action Plan. Comment period, btw, has been extended to November 1st, due to high public interest.

In other developments, the state is forming a 7-member brucellosis task force, which is to include 5 citizens, including two ranchers and one rancher/outfitter, along with 2 “wildlife enthusiast, sportsman or conservationists.”

I give the Governor a big kudos for keeping this issue moving along since the massive slaughter and the discovery of the state’s 2nd case of brucellosis, which resulted in the loss of our brucellosis-free classification by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He’s openly been critical of a key cause to brucellosis – Wyoming’s elk feedgrounds. That took some political mustering. All in all, there’s been a tremendous amount of work done since June….and hopefully it will have an impact this upcoming winter.

I want to mention here that The Missoula Independent’s Patrick Klemz did a fine piece on the brucellosis issue back in September, even daring to put the picture of an elk on the cover, along with the word “brucellosis” – something few media outlets, whether radio, television or print, have been pretty darn shy about doing. It stands as another fine example of The Indy’s fine, thorough and, well, independent report style.

by jhwygirl

Via dKos, and done by Research 2000.

McCain’s lost another point since the last Montana polling information, from NewWest just 10 days ago. It’s now McCain 49, Obama 45. Kos is now painting Montana blue.

Schweitzer is having a pleasant time this election season – Schweitzer 57, Brown 40. His approval rating sure looks great too – While Dems have him at 62/33, Republicans put the Good Guv’s approval at 52/41. Even Independents are loving’ the Good Gov – Brian gets a 66/31 approval with them.

Brown’s approval ratings are pretty dismal – overall he’s got a 41% approval 31% disapproval…women don’t seem to take a liking to him either – there he musters a 38, and even Independents give Brown a 37. Men give Brown a little better grade – a 44%.

Ouch

Rehberg sure isn’t skating by…..most recent polling has Rehberg polling at 52%, and John Driscoll with 38%.

And Driscoll isn’t even really campaigning! He’s not raised any funds, and he’s not traveling to do any campaigning. The only campaigning he’s doing is that travel which he had already planned. I haven’t heard – the guy lives in Helena – if he’s even door knockin’ there.

Man, I don’t know, but I’m thinking that’s gotta hurt.

Anyways, there you go – some numbers to mull over. But now is not the time to get complacent – write those letters to the editor, head down to the Obama campaign and make a few calls, knock a few doors…or, better yet, contact any of the local state races (links in this post) and do some door knocking for them.

Weather’s great – and it gives you a chance to meet some neighbors.

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

(The above headline is to be sung to the tune of “These Are a Few of My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music.)

I love it when someone actually researches the claims from the right that global warming isn’t happening. Dick Barrett shreds a recent global warming denier’s guest column.

Shane takes up the nuclear energy debate and also has a poll. The poll’s results don’t seem to match the comments. Maybe the nuclear industry lobby folks are also linking to Montana Netroots, and voting but not leaving their opinions.

Also over at NetRoots, Cece is pissed. Apparently, the backers of I-159 have removed the initiative from the ballot for some future political favors. I’m not sure how that works but I wasn’t even aware of the petition drive until just last week when someone thrust a clipboard in front of me at Rockin Rudy’s and asked me to sign.

Jay reviews the Montana Republican convention and I agree, Erik Iverson is one hell of a spin doctor. One of my favorite quotes was, “Our diversity in the Montana Republican Party is our strength.” It came from a Missoulian State Bureau story that was headlined, “Diversity, unity the themes at GOP convention.” Now when I think of diversity, I think about people of color, or gays and lesbians. I don’t think about a bunch of white folks that are right wing and far-right wing.

Another nugget from the convention that goes to the heart of Republican diversity was this. It’s a new plank in the party platform that advocates rounding up all the illegal immigrants in the U.S. and shipping them back to whence they came. First of all — good luck. Second of all — where does the budget for this round up come from? And finally, a few Republican critics of the plank said it sends the wrong message. You think?

Finally, most everybody thinks that 18 gubernatorial debates are overkill. While Jay thinks three is plenty, Lamnidae thinks that 174 is a good number (but I think he’s being facetious).  My belief is that one should suffice.  By the way, excuse my ignorance, but just what is a lamnidae?

by jhwygirl

We’ve got gubernatorial candidate Don Pogreba – who comments under the name Pogie in this post on education.

Pogreba’s a teacher – and he probably won’t be able to stop back until after the school day ends – but if you’ve got something you want to ask, 4&20 might be a good place to do it.

by jhwygirl

Yesterday, gubernatorial candidate Don Pogreba had a guest op-ed in the Billings Gazette, explaining what quality education means for Montana, and what it means to him. Shane Mason over at Montana Netroots does an excellent assessment of Pogreba’s piece, and along the way adds his own thought on what education means in in his own hometown of Helena.

It’s a good discussion to have – there’s lots of talk about it – education funding: more money? enough money? lawsuit? – but little talk of why additional funding might make sense and why it is sorely needed. Pogreba makes some excellent points in the Billings Gazette:

So it is with some dismay, but certainly no surprise, when I read about Sen. Roy Brown and members of the Montana Legislature talking about developing Montana’s resources while giving so little support to our most valuable resource: the students who will one day run our state, create new businesses and volunteer in our communities. Minerals and timber, agriculture and oil are all important for Montana’s economy, but their value is constrained by market forces often beyond our control. Montana certainly relies on its resource economy, and we should be proud of the food and power we’ve provided the nation and world, but that’s not all we can be.Far too many of our state’s political leaders are more concerned about resource extraction than resource development. We need to commit ourselves to developing the resource potential of our poorest students, who need stronger preschool programs to prepare themselves for school.

We need to develop the talent on our reservations, so that a new generation of leaders can ensure the future of Montana’s first peoples.

And we need to make sure that students in rural and high-poverty schools have access to the kind of technology that will ensure the kind of quality jobs that will let them stay in Montana. In short, we need to focus our energy on the one resource that is limitless, inexhaustible, and not bound by market forces: human potential.

Rather than acknowledge funding shortfalls, conservative critics of education would like you believe that Montana is already spending too much on its education programs. Despite laudable increases in the last few years, statistics demonstrate that Montana has failed to keep pace with the spending necessary for quality education. The conservative American Legislative Council just issued some troubling statistics about education spending in Montana. According to their research, we rank dead last in the nation in compensation for education professionals, and 42nd in the rate of growth in education expenditures, from 1986-2005. These figures demonstrate not only how much more remains to be done, but just how much damage 16 years of defunded education under the Stephens, Racicot, and Martz administrations has done.

What I like about that statement above is that he weaves a wealth of issues into that short portion of his guest op-ed: Montana’s youth, natural resources, priorities, and the failures of Montana Republican’s when it comes to addressing all of those issues. It’s not like education funding was a problem Schweitzer created.

I ask you (Big Swede, because I know it’s coming) – is this the voice of a pseudo-candidate?

I say that because all I’ve seen from Schweitzer on the issue of education funding is “no” – meaning ‘no more – you have enough’ – I’ve not seen any reason from him on why he thinks education has been funded adequately (other than the fact that he’s increased it) yet when I read Pogreba on the issue, I’d say he makes a pretty darn good case for increasing it more.

Pogreba, on the other hand, offers other reasons. Take this quote, for example, from today’s front page of the Missoulian:

Despite some additional spending, Montana hasn’t complied with the 2004 and 2005 District and Supreme Court decisions that declared the state funding unconstitutionally inadequate.

There were some increases, but it wasn’t enough to offset some years of underfunding and the difficulty of enrollment problems in small schools.

Or this:

I think more money for education will prevent the need for more money for corrections.

I’ve never understood why we want to send more money for jail cells and not for textbooks.

Sure makes sense to me. A short-term investment in education instead of a long-term investment in jail facilities along with all the other welfare-like amenities (for lack of a better term) that comes with it? Tell me how that doesn’t make sense.

And to be honest, the whole lack of focus on the “why” story behind educational funding has worked – up until now – a pretty successful smokescreen for me. Up until now I was pretty ho-hum about the issue, but Pogreba has me thinking that perhaps there’s a darn good reason for why, perhaps, there should be more.

That’s more than I’ve thought about it before – and disparities between the quality of education that are certainly obvious, across the state, makes me realize how wrong I’ve been to not look beyond the invisible wall I’ve put around Missoula and not look beyond to places like Glendive or Havre or Browning or Hardin. What potential are we, as a state, losing in places like those when we don’t invest in our kids?

I have decided that, for me and my primary vote – which will be for the Democratic ballot, thank you – is going to come down to a pretty large focus on natural resources. All of the candidates are going to say a whole lot of essentially the same stuff. The Democratic ballot is blessed with a wealth of qualified candidates, and in looking at their websites or the stuff you see in the news, it is hard to discern anything that sticks out.

So I will be searching for the differences, which will include their records, of course, but also a search of where they stand on natural resource issues.

In Montana, education – which is obviously important to both Pogreba and Neiffer, as both are teachers – is intrinsically intertwined with natural resources because of the trust lands that help fund any number of educational institutions in the state – all public K-12, the various universities, and all sorts of other things (I think some public buildings are funded as well).

And Pogreba recognizes that not only are natural resources in Montana intertwined with education funding – but that Montana’s children are part of our very basic natural resources.

by jhwygirl

Seems the Good Governor Brian found time to file both his state and federal returns while running the state, running a re-election campaign and meeting with two presidential candidates.

All Roy Brown did was file his extensions.

Doesn’t sound very “get ‘er done” to me.




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