It’s a sad time for Larry Jent. Last week he was trounced by Attorney General Tim Fox in a debate on Face the State and then this week a recorded interview with Enhancing Montana’s Wildlife & Habitat was posted. Some thirteen or so minutes into that interview Jent accuses the Montana Public Employees Association and organized labor, the Montana AFL-CIO, of being the root cause for the lack of qualified game wardens in Montana.
It’s difficult to believe that someone with Jent’s intelligence and background could make a statement that accuses a labor organization of being too ‘…wedded to the collective bargaining process…’. Larry, collective bargaining is the very process for which unions exist. Perhaps reading this slowly would help- workers band together to form a collective bargaining unit (aka a union) and then workers collectively bargain. To say the two are wedded would somehow insinuate that one could ever exist without the other or that somewhere in time the two existed separately. Make no mistake, Jent has clearly been fuming for some time for not being endorsed by Montana’s labor unions. Jent managed to invite himself to speak to the excutive board of Montana AFL-CIO and left without an endorsement. And why should he have expected it? After all he did enter the race at the very last minute on the very last day and by his own admission, at the urging of former Governor Brian Schweitzer. To simplify again, running for the office wasn’t even his own idea.
Jent alludes to and refers to two legislative sessions in the interview. The 2005 session in which House Bill 35 was passed and created a new pay mechanism for Montana Highway Patrol officers. Some quick research showed that the bill had the blessing of the attorney general, governor and the union. By all accounts Jent championed the bill and followed his script well. In fact, his website touts the bill signing with all of the players pictured. He’s obviously proud of the work he did. Unfortunately, and much like his claims to have saved the public employee retirement system on Face the State, he believes he single handedly saved the Montana Highway Patrol from going out of business.
The ‘Stay At Home Attorney General’ candidate made a vague reference to House Bill 313 that was a stand alone pay increase just for game wardens and the MPEA during the 2011 session. What he doesn’t point out is that this bill had no support, was poorly planned and executed by Montana Game Warden’s Association. Apparently “Larry-Come-Lately” Jent missed the wild west days of every state agency bringing its own pay plan to the legislature before former Governor Marc Racicot put an end to the nonsense. The MPEA and MEA-MFT had already reached a pay agreement with the Schweitzer administration, that had overwhelmingly support from the members, and could not support a rogue pay bill. In the labor world this would be called an unfair labor practice. Maybe that’s just too wedded for Larry. The game wardens and the Montana Public Employees Association have since gone their separate ways and the game wardens have now joined the ranks of the esteemed Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). The same FOP that recently endorsed Donald Trump, that paragon of Gilded Age excess and anti-union rhetoric.
Larry was for many years considered a class act and a reliable legislator who was willing to carry bills. Like many legislators, he needed to be reminded of what he was working on and kept in a lane to get to the end of the process. He treated people with respect and was in turn treated with respect. Perhaps the strings that are directing him in this ill fated race for AG are too tight or perhaps not tight enough. You’re better than this Larry and it’s not too late to finish this race with dignity and your self-respect still intact.
‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’
It has to be impossible for Greg Gianforte to make this kind of Freudian slip again during his now spirally campaign, but we can all hope he will for the sake of entertainment. During an interview with Montana Public Radio at his latest campaign stunt Gianforte was asked what kind of gun he was using and responded ‘It’s a Marcus Daly over under’. In fact, Gianforte was shooting a Charles Daly over and under, his trusty all around gun. It’s hard to tell which model he’s trying to impress the average Montanan with, however, he may have wanted to opt for a different brand. Charles Daly shotguns are made in Turkey and probably have the finger prints of Muslims all over them. But that and the fact that it’s imported aren’t really the point.
Susan, be sure to thank the guy in the KC shirt for holding my beer so I wouldn’t drop my spiffy gun.
The idiocy here is the continued grasping of the vetoes by Governor Bullock relating to ‘pro gun’ legislation in the past two legislative sessions. While it would be important to understand the specifics of each bill it may be more valuable to understand just how some legislation passes ‘along party lines’. Particularly when there is a veto pen (or brand) waiting at the legislative factory doors when such garbage law is dumped. Seasoned and sensible legislators understand that they have to maintain some level of standing within their party to move their own bills when the time comes. Sticking to a party line on bills that are destined for the big V is a safe and logical way to do just that. To believe that all Republican legislators who voted in favor of bizarre ‘gun bills’ were actually in favor of such bills is pure ignorance of what actually takes place during those 90 days every other year.
House Bill 240 is a prime example and one of the six bills the Republican Party and Gianforte have been trotting out as Bullock is labeled as anti Second Amendment. HB 240 would have prohibited the Board of Regents and the Montana University System from ‘…regulating or restricting the possession of firearms on university property…’. Fortunately, and to date, Montana has not had to mourn the tragedy of a campus shooting and will hopefully continue to avoid the national spotlight thanks to Governor Bullock refusing to sign such a moronic bill. College freshman should leave their firearms back home and stick to keg stands, beer bongs and visits to the ER for alcohol poisoning. Perhaps there is a ‘liberal’ open carry policy at Gianforte’s Petra Acedemy.
Gianforte has aligned himself with the likes of Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association and enjoys his endorsement by the National Rifle Association. A rhetorical question here, how is an ‘A’ rating from the NRA possible without having done anything but engage in his usual promise of anything they ask? Sounds a bit like an NRA participation medal presented by Marbut himself.
To paraphrase: It’s been four years of Steve Bullock and all I got was to keep my guns and health care.’
‘Maybe all men got one big soul ever’body’s a part of.’
Labor unions across the United States celebrated today in a variety of fashions: parades, picnics, hosting endorsed candidates, and perhaps heaving a collective sigh of relief that another year has come and gone and unions in America still exist and have a purpose.
Montana has celebrated the first Monday in September as “Labors’ Day” since the early 1890s. In fact, Montana adopted the holiday several years before President Grover Cleveland signed it into existence on the federal level. Not surprising given the strength of unions in the Treasure State but also a bit deceiving. Elmer Mats, a self-proclaimed Daly Democrat, carried the Montana Labor Day bill through the legislature in 1891 not because he had a strong desire to honor the working class people of Montana but because it suited the agenda of his political benefactor, Copper King Marcus Daly. A small fraud we overlook today that helps mask an even larger fraud perpetrated at the expense of working class America, a fraud that stretches all the way back to Chicago and the Haymarket Square Riot of 1886.
In response to the injustice of the prosecution and execution of the Haymarket Martyrs, the Second International, those pesky commies, designated May 1st, May Day, as the International Workers Day. However, when it came time for the United States to acknowledge and adopt a Labor Day the conservative elements in the American labor movement colluded with corporate America and the political elite, selecting the first Monday in September. The fraud goes deeper because we don’t celebrate the working class, in the United States of Corporate America we democratically celebrate everyone: the worker and the boss, the poor and the 1% because we all work regardless of our financial status or social class.
And what has this benevolent attitude regarding Labor Day gotten us? A country where over half the states have unjust right to work laws; a country that no longer boasts a vibrant and progressive middle class; a country once again enjoying the inequities of a Second Gilded Age; a country that has embraced a law giving corporations the status of individuals. So as you wind up your 2016 Labor Day give yourself some time for reflection and introspection and if you don’t like what you see then roll up your sleeves and work to change it.
Rowan – “Wherever you find injustice, the proper form of politeness is attack.” T-Bone Slim