A Hero To The End

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Yesterday, the Labor Movement didn’t just lose a hero, the entire state of Montana did. Firefighter Jason Baker of Great Falls died early Wednesday morning after a long battle with lung cancer.

Over the last few years, Baker’s struggle with cancer, which he developed as a result ofLKBL_1-JR[1] being exposed to dangerous toxins while on the job, came to symbolize the push for presumptive illness insurance – legislation that would cover fire fighters who develop cancers and other illnesses because of the dangerous nature of their work.

Montana is one of the last states to not have presumptive illness insurance for firefighters. We came close to righting that wrong in 2017, but the legislation died in committee thanks to two Great Falls legislators: Representatives Jeremy Trebas and Fred Anderson. The insulting fact that these legislators “represented” the city Jason Baker called home is not lost on us.

To make matters worse, Trebas and Anderson lied to Montana’s fire fighters and told them they would support the legislation. They were the deciding votes to kill the legislation in committee. In response, Baker’s wife wrote an open letter to Trebas and Anderson.

By voting NO on this bill today you have said to our family, including our 11 and 15 year old children, that his sacrifice doesn’t matter to you. That our family’s struggle doesn’t matter to you. I have listened to the hearings and heard your testimony. I heard you talk about how you “love” and “appreciate” firefighters, but your words are empty without action. Shame on you for putting politics before the lives of public servants.  

Instead of apologizing, Representative Trebas went on the offensive and began trolling Montana’s fire fighter organizations and other allies supporting presumptive illness insurance. Montana’s fire fighters didn’t take it laying down, of course. They skinned him alive at a town hall.

 Trebas, in large part due to his lies and dishonesty, was defeated in 2018 after serving only one term. His betrayal of Montana’s fire fighters and the Baker family will, undoubtedly, be his political legacy. We can only hope that Trebas feels some shame today.

And what about Representative Fred Anderson. His betrayal of Montana’s fire fighters may be overshadowed by his association with prolific sexual offender James Jensen.
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Fortunately, this legislative session has produced far better results on presumptive illness insurance legislation as Senate Bill 160 continues to work it’s way through both chambers.  It currently sits waiting for it’s next hearing in House Business and Labor where Fred Thomas will have to decide whether or not he can make eye contact with women and men who are far braver than he will ever be.

Jason Baker willingly shared his story of cancer, the pain suffered by his family and ultimately his death in hopes of protecting his fellow firefighters today and into the future.  As Montanans we should feel honored to have this kind of hero who ran into burning buildings for those of us who will not.  Godspeed Jason Baker.

TGTJ
‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’

 

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Trials, tribulations, and political aspirations…

Since his election in 2016, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton has suffered a number of trials and tribulations as a result of his political Dennis_Menaceasperations. The latest is just another hashmark in his “oh shit” column.

Let’s talk about voter fraud because we all know during the 2016 campaign Stapleton was a bulldog on the subject. Perhaps it helped him win by a landslide, or perhaps it was the lackluster campaign and character of his Democratic opponent Monica Lindeen. The end result was the same. Stapleton, without a shred of evidence, trumpeted voter fraud until he incurred the ire of county clerks and recorders statewide; he backed off the notion of statewide voter fraud and instead focused on Missoula County. And then he walked into the lion’s den that was the clerk and recorder convention at Fairmont, where county clerk’s took exception to his calling into question their ability to conduct fair elections. Perhaps he should have just grabbed a towel and went for a soak because once the clerks finished excoriating him there wasn’t enough of him left to soak.

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Then during the 2018 mid-term elections he hit a double boner! No not that kind, the bonehead kind. The Billings Gazette took a scrub brush to our diminutive SOS for the shoddy voter guide his office produced and then attempted to fix by puntingInkedannualreportofse1898mont_0003_LI a re-print to good buddy and former Montana GOP fixer Jake Eaton at a considerably higher cost than the lowest bid from a printing firm in Phoenix, AZ. In Corey’s defense though give him credit for trying to keep the work in Montana, but maybe he would have faired better if he had used a “union” printer.

Digging deeper into the voter guide story, the Gazette discovered that Stapleton’s office hired attorney Emily Jones – who just happens to be the wife of Jake Eaton – to defend his office in a lawsuit over a ballot issue. Now typically you call the home team attorney, Attorney General Tim Fox and fellow Republican. Instead Stapleton once again kicks money to one of his Republican cronies at the tax payers’ expense and loses the lawsuit. In this case the only one to see “green” was Emily Jones.

FoxSecretary of State Corey Stapleton has once again stepped on his own…. In his rush to announce his 2020 bid for governor of Montana, he pushed out a letter on his SOS letterhead, through his state email, to underlings in his office who then helped push it out to news outlets across the state. Sigh, what do you do with a man-child who just doesn’t seem to learn that public officials, public employees, have to play by a different set of rules to keep the playing field fair. Granted he probably wanted to be first out of the gate because he will have some much biGianfortegger competition. Tim Fox has announced and likely we will see Greg Gianforte enter the fray as well. One can only hope Stapleton has some ninja like skills because both men have demonstrated WWE skills. At least Fox wasn’t criminally charged with assault. As for the $4000 check Stapleton had to write for the Commissioner of Political Practices, maybe he can get Jake and Emily to kick a little of that state money back to cover the cost.

They say hindsight is 20/20. This should make it easy for Stapleton to look back and point to exactly where he came up short, so to speak, in his bid for the governor’s chair.

Stapleton

T-Bone Slim “Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack.”

Matt Rosendale’s Next Election

Is it for Governor? Nope. How about Congressman? Not this time. OK, Secretary of State? Wrong again. Hmmm, maybe Senator? Wait, he already  lost that one. Dog catcher? It’s kind of his style, but a hired position. Give up? Fine, it’s a UNION election!

That’s right!  After almost a year and a half of blocking by Matt, Kris Hansen and their loyal stooge attorney, Derek Oestreicher, the workers at the State Auditor’s office will finally get to decide if they want a union to back them up or continue to be used and abused by Rosendale and his party appointees. The MPEA, now part of Montana’s mega union, the Montana Federation of Public Employees, filed paperwork to hold a union election way back in October of 2017. According to emails received with a bevy of documents attached, the Rosendale team has spent a lot of time and even more money to shut down this uprising.

You’d probably have to be an attorney to understand half of this stuff, but in a nutshell the MPEA said a group of these workers should be in the union and believe it or not Rosendale wanted everyone at the Auditor’s in the union. He must have figured he had the votes, or could coerce the votes, to take away their seat at the table. After sifting through all the legalese and union speak it looks like the governing board that decides such things for public employees ordered an election in October of last year, that would be an election that is just now happening. What was the hold up? Hansen and Oestreicher asked the district court for a temporary restraining order on Black Friday claiming they would suffer ‘irreparable harm’ if workers got to vote. Huh? Haven’t workers and employers been working this very thing out for decades and in some cases, centuries?

It also looks like Rosendale, the self proclaimed fiscal conservative, has spent almost $100,000 in just two years to battle with his own employees. Grievances, wage claims, harassment claims, settlement payments and who knows what else. It’s no wonder folks aren’t happy there, at least the ones who’ve showed the fortitude to stick it out rather than seek greener grass elsewhere. Of course

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not everyone at the Auditor’s office is unhappy. Hansen has managed to hire her own kind to replace employees who have either quit or been fired. And then there’s her living situation in which she’s shacked up with one of her paralegals from the office. Nothing inappropriate here, move along.

To say the least, all is not well at the Auditor’s office and workers could use some help.  Despite all the promises from management, they won’t get it in house.  Voting yes for a union and then starting on the long battle to negotiate a contract will be nothing less than a long haul given Rosendale and Hansen’s hatred towards anything that does not represent what they want.  This administration is not concerned with good government and is instead focused on back scratching, ideology and in Matt’s case, which office he can get elected to next and exit stage right from the Auditor’s office.  And who’s left to mop up all the damage?  Those same workers who were there the day after November 8, 2016. 

So to the workers at the Auditor’s office, mark ‘YES’ on that ballot and take back your worth and your work!

 

TGTJ

‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’

Who’s on first?

The Billings Gazette, Lee Enterprise’s Montana flagship newspaper, just dropped trowel and it ain’t pretty.  For one thing, the grand old “rag” is showing her age and let’s face it who really wants to read a newspaper that isn’t “high and tight”.  Her only claim to fame is being the daily with the most-est not the best-est.

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The editorial board’s op-ed “Union membership bill would make unions prove their worth to members” demonstrates a glaring lack of research and basic understanding of public employee unions and how they have operated in Montana SINCE THE 1930s!  Instead, they trot out the tried, true, tired old saw that Representative Brad Tschida’s HB 323 is nothing more than a guarantee of the first amendment rights of the oppressed public employee union member.  In this case, the first amendment right of public sector workers to “opt-in” or “opt-out” of a union as they so chose.  Well duh!

With the SCOTUS 5-4 decision in favor of Mark Janus, free speech was upheld and public sector unions could no longer charge a representation fee as a condition of employment.  WINNER!  And now the age old mystery of “who’s on first” is answered – the 1st Amendment.  It’s good to be number 1.  But there are two more bases to cover before home plate.  Representative Tschida and the editorial board of the Gazette believe they know “what’s” on second.  It has to do with a public sector employee’s right to join or drop union membership at anytime.  Failure to allow this on the part of unions…wait for it…violates their right to free speech.  The hell you say!

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However, Tschida’s bill doesn’t guarantee anyone’s right to opt-in, they already have that right as well as the right to opt-out.  In Montana they had that right before Janus and now in the post-Janus world it is reaffirmed that public employees cannot be coerced into paying union dues or a representation fee as a condition of employment.  Now granted the whole representation fee precedent established by SCOTUS way back in 1977 clouded that somewhat but since Janus those who were “bullied” into union membership have been “free at last, free at last, thank Mark Janus, free at last!”

Representative Tschida and the Gazette both believe “unions [should] have to convince members that there’s enough value in the union membership to warrant the dues”.  In other words while they can already opt-in at will, members should have the right to opt-out at will too.  This suggests that they don’t but, given the testimony of Eric Feaver, president of MFPE, and Timm Twardoski, executive director of AFSCME Council 9, anyone can resign their union membership as long as they do it during the prescribed membership withdrawal period.  In other words as Twardoski pointed out, an employee can’t join during local contract negotiations so they have a seat at the table and then resign that membership as soon as bargaining is complete.  Or as the rotund labor boss put it “if you join the gym to lose 50 pounds don’t you think you ought to join for at least a year if you want to lose the pounds?”

Now neither Representative Tschida nor the Gazette say you have to give up your union card; they’re not even saying you can’t have a union card; they just don’t want to see your union card at work.  No silly!  I don’t mean in your wallet at work I mean “at work” on your behalf at work.   

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To be perfectly honest, this post does little more than muddy up the already murky waters of union membership, especially public employee union membership.  So as you read op-eds like the Gazette’s and blog posts such as this keep in mind that it can be quite tiring and if need be, you might be compelled to “take a knee” as you ponder the pros and cons, but don’t kneel too long in quiet reflection or someone may trample your first amendment right to free speech!

T-Bone Slim – “Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack.”

Socialist Tschida

Representative Brad Tschida of Missoula is bringing forward the first anti union bill since 2015.  His aim with HB 323 is to further cripple public employee unions by going a 5bec6fbaf07ec.image[1]few steps farther than the Janus case that Tschida and his kind were certain would be the death blow to unions across the country.  Most of what he’s packed into this poorly written and somewhat confusing bill is already the law of the land.  Seems like a waste of time.  Or maybe Tshida’s handlers have the forethought to see that some day the tide could turn back against them.

Of course his title seems harmless enough ‘An act providing for free association…’.  Free, yes it says ‘free’.  Now think about this for a minute.  Tschida and his ilk want the poor and disabled to work for their publicly funded health insurance, yet they have no issue article-0-1A48DBFE000005DC-786_634x619[1]at all with freeloaders reaping the benefits of the union without paying a dime and riding on the backs of those who believe in their union and pay dues.  Hardly makes any sense at all, but it’s important to keep in mind that he isn’t worried about you as a public worker, he’s more worried about those unions that he wants out of the way.  Once he’s killed the union, he’ll be coming after you because you’re a drain on the tax payer.

Dozens of labor leaders and even more union members will show up to testify against the Tschida right to work bill and all of it’s free stuff for those who simply don’t want to pay.  Both public and private sector unions will fill the room because an injury to one is an injury to all.  (Unless you’re the big purple machine and then an injury to one is an opportunity to be AWARE of.). The procession used to be a legislative tradition, but with back to back Democratic Governor’s there have been few attempts.  In fact the last was brought forward by the now convicted former legislator Art Wittich where he appeared as the only proponent.  No doubt Tschida will round up at least a couple of supporters.  What will be missing is that booming, gravelly voice of JD Lynch to conjure up his wise mother and imagines of lightening bolts.

Neither Janus or Tschida are giving you anything free here and in the long run you’ll pay and pay more.  And so will anyone who takes your job when you’re too old and too tired to work because you couldn’t afford to retire years ago.  That’s assuming there’s a job left for them to take when you’re gone.

TGTJ

‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’

 

Hijacked!

‘Captain, there’s a passenger who wants to speak to you.’   ‘Yes?’   ‘This is a highjack!!  Fly me to the Governor’s office and no funny business!  I got a pay plan and the 2020 Governor’s race in this backpack and I ain’t afraid to you use them!’

Two of four heavy armed Lebanese Chi'ite

That’s right state workers, your trip through the legislature for your meager pay increase no longer belongs to you or your unions.  Representative Julie Dooling (you know, the Dooling who could get elected) introduced her pay plan that was swiped word for word from Representative Moffie Funk.  The Republican’s have cleverly taken hold of that negotiated deal and made it their own.  And there isn’t anything your Governor or union bosses can do about it except try figure out how to say ‘well, we got it passed for the first time in a decade. So what’s the problem?’

The problem isn’t today, tomorrow or a few weeks from now when HB 175 has moved at warp speed through both houses and to the Governor’s desk for signing.  The problemhyper5 will be how you look back at this in November of 2020 when you have to decide who you want to be in that office for the next eight years.  This highjacking isn’t about what’s good for state workers and finally giving them the respect they have always been due.  It’s about votes and who signs the next pay plan, or for that matter, doesn’t.

In case you haven’t been paying attention for the last ten years Tuesday was the first time that what was House Bill 13 made it out of the House Appropriations Committee.  It’s also important to remind all of you that in those same ten years the Republicans have controlled both the House and Senate, meaning this could have happened all along.  But it didn’t.  This isn’t a freebie by any means and you should all beware of Greeks baring gifts, in a manner of speaking.

So enjoy this rare turbulence free flight of 66th legislature and count on those benevolent Republicans to bail out in the 67th legislature with the only parachute on the plane. the-pursuit-of-db-cooper-1TGTJ

‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’

When You’re In A Hole

A few weeks ago on New Year’s Eve the Montana Democratic Party announced it had hired its new executive director to head up the ‘people’s party’ and lead us all out of the vintage new yeardarkness of Rosendale, Stapleton, Arntzen and Trump.  New Year’s Eve, as though the message would create a flurry of resolutions to be a better democrat in 2019.  Certainly this wasn’t actually news since there really aren’t any secrets in Helena and the story had already circled its way back to Miller’s Crossing where it likely first slipped out.  Fast forward three dull weeks of the new year and you have arrived at the same Democratic Party you were at a year ago.

Monica Lindeen has settled into the same office where Nancy Keenan perched otzf8herself for a few years, that is when she was in state.  The squirrels outside took no notice.  The two have almost identical resumes.  Long time legislators, back to back terms in tier B offices, each did a stint heading up women’s advocacy groups and both were trounced by Denny Rehberg.  Of course Monica can add her loss to Cory Stapleton for an office she could barely explain,  with Keenan’s help of course.  So what?  It’s comfortable.  It’s what we all know.  Why change?

An opportunity has been lost in this non-transition.  Progressives in Montana and traditional democrats really only share the word ‘democrat’ and then the two part.  Progressives can rally a crowd in less than twenty four hours.  As for those old school democrats, well, in Keenan’s words ‘I can’t get them to get up out of their God damn rockers for anything!’  Lindeen won’t be lighting the fire of inspiration under them either.  And she certainly doesn’t carry the credibility to bring the two together under one roof to move what’s left of the party forward.  Need proof?  Drive by 303 Ewing to see staffers packing cars and heading for better opportunities rather than watch one more loop of Groundhog’s Day.groundhogday-phil

The old Dems have just sent Lindeen down a ladder and tossed in a few new shovels.  When you’re in a hole, why stop digging?

TGTJ

‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’

Daddy, Where Do Scabs Come From?

‘Scabs?  How do you know about scabs and why do you ask, son?’

‘Jimmy’s dad got kicked out of work last week and he said a scab took his daddy’s job.  Where do they find scabs?  Is a scab going to take your job, daddy?’

‘No son, a scab won’t take my job.  I don’t have a union where I work so the company would just fire me.’

With the lockout in Three Forks in week two and the Local D 239’s business agent telling the members to hunker down for a long siege you have to wonder, just where the hell would the company find a scab to take a middle class worker’s job in Montana? Surely it scabwouldn’t be a neighbor or some poor schmuck down the road from Bozeman or Whitehall?  Maybe over the hill in Butte?  Never!  OK, then where?

This may sound strange, but would you believe Minnesota?  Yep, that’s right.  Those scabs who are headed to help bust the union are coming your way from the good old Midwest.  It would seem that a company called Personnel Management Group will be ‘deploying’ a team of it’s technicians to run the plant in one of our tiny Montana towns.  Of course PMG doesn’t call their contract workers scabs, they are a supplier of a ‘crisis workforce‘.

Well, it looks like the town of Three Forks and Bozeman area are going to have 30 new faces walking around.  You have to wonder where they’ll sleep, eat, shop and have a beer after a long day of scabbing?  You also have to wonder how a small town like Three Forks could tolerate having scabs walking around while families who’ve planted their roots go hungry with no paycheck.  Seems like some businesses could exercise that right to refuse service.

On another note, the start of school is just around the corner and there are 29 families 0who are going to have a tough time buying pencils, notebooks and crayons this year.  From the looks of PMG’s website and Facebook page they do some charitable giving of school supplies, this year to the tune of around $10,000.  How about if all you readers give PMG a call at 1-855-522-6701?  Ask for David Jacobsen, he’s the President of Scabs-R-Us.  Maybe they’d do a school supply drive for the families of the Imery Talc plant.  Surely PMG would support the middle class family as they profit from the lockout?

TGTJ

‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’bodies’ a part of.’

Pistol Packin’ Mary

The stories are filtering out, Mary Caferro is getting asked about her YES vote  on HB 280,IMG_8596 sponsored by her good friend Representative Randy Brodehl.  You may not know much about Randy, but he collects a subsidy for a hog farm in Oregon and bellies up to the trough himself to collect his two public employee pensions on top of that tax dollar sponsored pay as a legislator.  Now why would Caferro, the great champion of kids and the disabled, feel the need to pack her 38 Special into the Senate chambers for a hard day of pushing the green button on Republican sponsored bills?  Ready?  Safety.

You see, Mary is explaining, with her best puppy dog eyes, that she didn’t  feel safe down there on the Senate floor with all those school kids parading through the gallery above her.  You know, those same school kids who’s parents had to console them over their fears and tears of a school shooting happening at their own school one day.  But to heck with them, it’s legislators first, women and children later.  Have you wandered into the Capitol IMG_8595 while the Legislature is in session?  There are no fewer than three HPD officers, as many MHP officers assigned to guard the Governor and a handful of security guards.  And then there’s all those pesky cameras in every corner out in the open for all to see, and probably a few hidden to boot.  It’s also a fair bet that if you gave Randy a tap in the small of his back his illegally carried piece would go off and shoot him in the ass.  You’re probably covered Mary, but it’s a good play on your innocent support of more guns in public places.

If you want to test safety Mary, go spend a day in a school secretary’s chair at the front door of any school in Montana to see what that feels like.  The door opens and you’re the first person anyone sees with nothing between you and that open door.  Or how about just about any government office in any town, county or state office in Montana?  Angry tax payers, hunters with suspended licenses, an injured worker at his wits end, or maybe even someone who should be institutionalized for their own safety and that of the  public who lost that safe space.  Again, open door and there’s someone sitting in range and plain sight.  Heck, had the Governor not undone your wrong with his pen, it could even be a legislator, like you, with one hand on the door knob and the other raising a 44 magnum hand cannon.  Politicians don’t seem too stable these days.

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Mary, here’s a bill suggestion if you manage to dredge what charm you have left to get out of this primary, how about another bill to protect legislators like yourself  and keep you plenty safe, before anyone else.  Instead of more guns in a public place, how about an infrastructure bill to put a bullet proof dome over the House and Senate chambers?  No doubt it’s a bill that your most paranoid Republican bed fellows can get behind, hell, you could even convince Tom Burnett to support this one.  It’s an absolute win!  Jobs to build it and jobs to clean it.  But above all else, you’ll be safe in your workplace where you’ve made your career once more.  We’ll deal with those teachers and school kids some other time.

TGTJ

‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’

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Cross Eyed Mary


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Cross eyed Mary goes jumping in again

This primary business is getting a little sticky in the Farris-Olsen/Caferro race. And well it should.  Olsen represents a demographic of future leaders and committed activists who have grown weary of the Boomers and their same old same old.  Meanwhile, cross eyed Mary has found her groove and is deep in it as she continues to present herself as the champion of those in need and the protector of all things related to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.  Well, all things Human Services that is, that whole Public Health part is just more letters.

She signs no contract

So what of cross eyed Mary?  What’s the big deal?  Well, first there’s this problem of her character and whether she’s really who she would have us all believe she is.  Single parent, up with her boots straps and champion of the poor and disabled.  Those are all very fine qualities and to be that person also would assume integrity.  Let’s go back to the 2015 legislative session when Mary teamed up with Disability Rights of Montana to wipe out a few hundred middle class union jobs by shutting down a much needed state facility where clients could actually feel safe.  At that very same time cross eyed Mary was collecting her pieces of silver from AWARE and proclaimed NO conflict of interest.  But who gets to make that call?  In the world we live in today,  Cross eyed Mary gets to make that call and we should all just be ok with it.

But she always plays the game

But what does the average Joe think about it?  Seems like if some career politician stands to gain personally or professionally from some law they are trying to get passed that the average Joe or Jane might think to themselves ‘Well that ain’t right and it smells kind of funny too.’  But heck, maybe Joe and Jane don’t live in her district so who cares?  Cross eyed Mary is banking on the good folks who live in HD 81 not to care either.  But if Joe and Jane do live in HD 81 they should be wondering how much she cares about them since she doesn’t live in their district either and just wants another shot at more work for AWARE. Word has it that this time it’ll be Warm Springs Hospital.

She dines in Hampstead village, On expense accounted gruel

And then there’s her PR problem after losing the support of organized labor with just a couple of small exceptions, you know the ones who stand to gain from her reach across the isle.  Cross eyed Mary made her rounds to Hialeah Park and 6th Streets to kiss the rings some time ago and beg forgiveness. She was instead, and rightfully so, banished to the ends of her district.  Farris-Olsen has scored two key endorsements recently from AFSCME and the newly birthed 10,000 pound gorilla, the Montana Federation of Public Employees.  There was never a doubt that those two would swing in that direction given that privatization of public services is an absolute no-no for public employee unions.  After all, an injury to one is an injury to all. Unless, of course, you’re bedazzled in purple. Should Olsen prevail, and let’s all hope he does, the Montana Democratic Party may want to take note of these endorsements considering the lights glow in their office because of organized labor.

Hey, cross eyed Mary finds it hard to get along

Now give this a little thought. Cross Eyed Mary touts her long history of experience as a legislator, her understanding of budgets, her knowledge of human services and those less fortunate and above all else, her ability to reach across the isle.  Then riddle us this Cross Eyed Mary, if that’s all true, why do you spend your time bemoaning the damage done by the recent budget crisis in Montana instead of coming to the rescue with all that power and clout?  But hey, AWARE is coming out OK, again.

Hey, cross eyed Mary, oh baby, oh cross eyed Mary

TGTJ

‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’