Archive for the ‘Wal-Mart’ Category

by jhwygirl

The opening line to sentence to Ravalli Republic’s John Cramer’s latest reads “Dennis Unsworth, Montana’s commissioner of political practices, knows the term “engaged citizenry” takes on a whole new meaning in Ravalli County.”

Boy – he couldn’t be more accurate. And he sure knows how to grab a reader.

Not that Bitterrooters have a reputation for being laid back. I know many that use the term crazy when they say “Bitterooters” – the two kinda go together, going back to Battle of the Big Hole days…

In an ongoing soap opera-like saga – a story that would be amusing if it weren’t so pathetically ironic, Dan Floyd, Treasurer for Higher Ground Foundation, an anti-zoning, anti-streamside setback corporation classified as “public benefit with members” (as it is registered with the Secretary of State’s office), is calling on a host of federal, state and local agencies to take action to save his two guest houses from falling into the Bitterroot River.

The Bell Crossing bridge, he claims, is the cause.

Seriously – don’t miss the comments in that one. The Ravalli Republic has some of the best comment strings of all papers around the state. Next to, maybe the Billings Gazette. It’s a tough pick, that contest, I tell ya.

So Dan Floyd, self-described property rights advocate is calling on the government to save his property. Now, to be fair, Floyd didn’t build his house and the two guest houses – he just bought it, where it sits, next to the Bitterroot River and the Bell Crossing bridge. This is sounding a lot like the guy down in the Big Hole who bought property and is now trying to claim a hardship in order to get a variance to build a bridge. In the Big Hole case, he’s been denied – twice now, once on appeal.

You got laugh at the audacity of a person that buys property without access, with laws in place concerning bridges and streamside setbacks (the Anaconda-Deerlodge consolidated planning area has not only had effect regulations in place for years – they have a commitment to them), and then claims hardship.

More on Higher Ground: Higher Ground has been under investigation by Montana’s Office of Political Practices for violating campaign laws. There are at least 9 complaints filed over campaign issues in Ravalli County – and at least two of them are against Higher Ground.

Recently, Unsworth subpoenaed the Ravalli Republic for copies of all ads placed by Higher Ground. Less recently, Unsworth ruled that Ravalli County Citizens for Free Enterprise violated campaign laws and would face prosecution if a settlement isn’t reached.

Citizens for Free Enterprise were found to be, effectively, a front for Wal-Mart, who was seeking to reverse zoning regs which prohibited big box stores. They were successful in overturning the regulations – yet eventually withdrew their plans.

The whole situation down there is very unfortunate – collectively, Higher Ground, along with the Bitterroot Building Association and Residents for Responsible Land Use quite arguably had an impact on voters who recalled the county-wide zoning referendum. This, after significant hours and $ costs to taxpayers – not to mention public involvement.

What worse, is that each of these organizations has multiple charges filed against them. Hell, maybe someone should file RICO charges against them all if they’re found in violation.

The ugly side of what the situation in Ravalli County shows is that big money can buy lots of influence – the repercussions will be long in coming for the perpetrators, yet the sufferings of the electorate will be instantaneous.

How do you get justice out of that?

Floyd (& friends – you can bet Tom Robak is one of ’em) are under investigation for violating laws associated with his campaign against streamside setbacks, yet he seeks justice for the very issues under that which he campaigned against.

How completely ironic is that?

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Creep: Dallas Erickson

Congratulations to this week’s creep, Dallas Erickson! He’s managed to do something no other 4&20 blackbird creep has ever done! He’s a creep for two different reasons on the same issue!

Many of you are already no doubt familiar with this Stevensville resident and far-right fundamentalist Christian anti-gay activist. He was, after all, one of the sources behind Yellowstone Country’s recent voted-down obscenity ordinance, and has been working for years to eliminate pornography from the public sphere:

Erickson, of Stevensville, is the founder of Help Our Moral Environment, or HOME. The organization says it works to “significantly reduce sexual violence and the victimization of children, women, men and families by eliminating child pornography, regulating sexually oriented businesses and removing illegal pornography from the open market in Montana.”

[snip]

The Montana Human Rights Network has described Erickson as anti-gay, and his Web site formerly stated the organization’s opposition to “the homosexual agenda.”

Fine. So he’s a moral prude and crusader. For that alone, Erickson does not earn his 4&20 blackbirds “creep” label. I think he’s wrong, but I admit he has a right to pursue his agenda in our community. (An argument could be made to creepify him based on all the time and money Montana communities have spent on lawsuits overturning Ravalli County ordinances he spearheaded, but let’s let that slide for now.)

No, what has earned Erickson’s “creep” label is another matter entirely. And it has to do with Wal-Mart. You see, Ravalli County has passed a resolution limiting the size of big-box stores in their community (hurry! 154 may still pass!), ostensibly to keep Wal-Mart out, and Erickson doesn’t like it. In fact he started a “citizens’ group” to oppose it: “Citizens for Economic Opportunity.”

Why?

“…this is about free enterprise,” said Erickson….“This isn’t about Wal-Mart. It’s about the freedom to do business.”

I’ll let you digest that for a moment.

That’s right! Erickson is a free-market advocate! But only of business models he agrees with!

But before I say anything else, guess who Erickson’s biggest source of funding is? That’s right, Wal-Mart!

Citizens for Economic Opportunity, a group started by the conservative activist Dallas Erickson of Stevensville, collected $41,752.41 in its effort to defeat the resolution that would limit big-box stores to 60,000 square feet, documents show. Wal-Mart, which is seeking to build a supercenter in Hamilton, gave $41,000 of that amount in a check written in late May, just as the petition drive was getting under way.

Erickson said Wednesday that Wal-Mart had “contributed” to the drive to get 15 percent of Ravalli County voters to sign the petition – that drive succeeded – but he said he couldn’t be sure about the accuracy of the figure listed on the form filed with the state commissioner of political practices. The form was filed by Erickson’s group.

Erickson said his group used the company’s money to pay for several “major” mailings and to pay petitioners to gather signatures.

Don’t we already have enough big-money-sourced initiatives on our state ballots?

Yes, Erickson has hit a double creepdom. He’s a hypocrite of the worst sort and he’s a tool of a big out-of-state corporation looking to alter a Montana community in the name of a buck.

Double ugh.




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