Guest post – You little rascals!

The MT GOP, aka the “he-man public employee haters club”, arrived in Helena on January 2 with one purpose to make sure state government spends the taxpayers’ money wisely over the next two years. IMG_1434On the flip side of this posturing, these same legislators in two months passed their own pay increase buried in the lump sum numbers of HB 1, which also funds the 2019 session.  Governor Steve Bullock drew a line in the sand and line-item vetoed their pay increase and sent it back.  The legislature rejected the Governor’s recommendation and passed their bill again.  Governor Bullock decided to ignore the bill this time until it became law without his signature.  Obviously the wind blew hard enough through the halls of the capital to erase his line.  Next time maybe spray paint it on the floor of the rotunda where the breeze is gentler.

Leap forward two months to the end of March and the MT GOP majority on the House Appropriations committee heard HB 13, the state and university employees pay raise. Union members played it cool this session with no outward expression regarding their pay raise until the hearing in House Appropriations on March 21. During the hearing the governor’s representatives answered a number of questions asked primarily by the Republican members of the committee.  “Why a percentage increase instead of something for the lower paid employees?”  Ms. Sessano, “because our managers and supervisors are well below market and they have not seen a significant pay increase over the last two years.”  Really!  Wasn’t the pay raise negotiated by union members for union members?  Well yes but we all know the negotiated pay raise goes to everyone in state government.  “Aw Gee”!

Seven days later on a straight party line vote the Republicans on the committee following the lead of Chair Nancy Ballance tabled HB 13. Why, because in good conscience they just couldn’t sign off on a pay raise for people who obviously care so little for the public good that they devote their careers to serving. Adding insult to injury, the future raise for public employees became a pawn in the political gamesmanship between the Governor’s budget office and the MT GOP.

Over the next several weeks the suggestion of a pay increase hung like a shade from legislative sessions past in the halls of power as IMG_1435Senator Llew “Spanky” Jones (R-SD 9) and his favorite side-kick Rob “Alfalfa” Cook (R-HD 18), held meetings between the two gangs (Republicans and Democrats) late at night in the office of Dan “Lil’ Bull” Villa and willing patsy Senator Minority Leader Jon “Uh-huh” Sesso (D-SD 37). Over thick steaks and expensive whiskey at the clubhouse they made a deal, for the greater good, to ignore the fact that at least one side had bargained in good faith.  In case you’re wondering, it was not the governor’s team, but this is how they make sausage and law.  “AND HOW”!

Now we reach the end game. On the penultimate day, House Speaker Austin “Butch” Knudsen finally held a 3rd reading on SB 294, which contained a modified version of a state and university employee pay raise.  The major change to the original bill is the implementation date of February for each year of the biennium rather than the negotiated November.  It passed and as one union boss quipped, “It’s better than a sharp poke in the eye”!

Not so fast there you little rascal! For three sessions state employees gave up their lunch hours to stand in the halls with signs claiming “a deal is a deal” and “honor the deal”.  While it’s true it hasn’t worked with the Republican majority the last thing they expected was getting two-stepped by the chief executive and his budget director.  No harm no foul, everyone knows state employees don’t work a full day anyhow and in the end who’s the real patsy…our gang of unionized state employees who show up at the bargaining table every two years breathlessly gushing, “is that a cowlick or are you just happy to see me?”IMG_1436

Eeyore “the ass sore” state employee

And She Does Word Math Too

What’s the difference between public speaking and public editorials?  Someone else can do your writing for you.  Dedicated staff indeed Elsie, indeed!  It’s far easier to read what Elsie has to say, or whoever does her writing for her has to say than it is to listen to her rambling Sarah Palin-isms.  So she took to the papers today to justify her unprecedented hiring of a high priced attorney out of Billings to handle her affairs on the Land Board.

You have to spend some time around elected officials to have an idea of what the term ‘personal staff’ really means.  In a nutshell, they are positions left for a newly elected official, such as the Governor, AG or in this case Superintendent of Public Instruction, to hand out to their former campaign staff, political operatives and hopefully people who'Meet the boss's son. The go-to guy whenever you need a piece of string or just a friendly wave.' truly understand how crucial operations work.  So in dear Elsie’s case, she has seven appointed positions.  What her editorial doesn’t say is that when she was elected she had no idea how many she could appoint and showed up in Helena for a transition meeting with an entourage and promises of cushy jobs to over twenty faithful followers across the state.  Word has it she was a bit taken aback to learn she had so few positions.  As to that fat $230,000 she plans to save: it’s called vacancy savings (insert hard working permanent staff work even harder to pick up the slack) and savings do to long term staff who flew the OPI coupe before Arntzen took office rather than work for her.

Back to that fancy smancy attorney.  As mentioned in a previous post, the Land Board members are staffed by people who understand the role of the people they work for.  And then there’s that state agency called the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation that employs a whole bunch of people who get this land stuff.  Two of the Land Board members are attorneys and the other three, umm, are, umm ahhh, Lamd Board members.  It’s understandable why Arntzen would blow the bankroll on someone who gets it no matter how ironic it might be that he’s a Billings attorney, you know, her home town.  In Elsie’s words ‘experience counts’, but it’s already there.  Such a shame that she can’t see that through the camouflage of her own justification.

Now about that dedicated staff.  Elsie, you really only mentioned your appointed cronies.  How about those two hundred or so dedicated workers who have put decades and careers into OPI?  Seems you missed the mark of who does the actual work there.  Or maybe you’re still trying to figure out why they come to work wearing life jackets as they ride out Hurricane Elsie and hope for the best in 2020.


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

Dissecting An Apology

worst_apology_ever[1]If you’re reading this you’ve probably already read the PEOPLE’S VOICE post calling out MEIC Executive Director Jim Jensen after he smugly chided a Montana AFL-CIO staffer when SB 338 went down.  Old news, OK.  Hit the link and scroll past the post to the comments and check out Jensen’s apology.  Now, let’s have a closer look.

‘I apologize for a late night, off-hand, frustrated post.’  Stop.  Apology accomplished and complete.  ‘The end of the legislative session sees tempers flare, and mine is no exception.’  What’s that smell coming in?  Could it be the proverbial excuses are like assholes wafting through?  ‘SB 338 has been the subject of much controversy and misinformation.  MEIC and our allies (read Talen), including conservation groups in Montana and the Pacific Northwest strongly oppose the bill.’  Yeah Jim, we got that when Anne Hedges and MEIC stood shoulder to shoulder with The Company in opposition of this bill and the families of Colstrip, Montana.  Add to that the families of any other Montana resource industry town that would have benefited from this bill that many referred to as a historic marker.

This anonymous web site has repeatedly claimed that most conservation groups support the bill.  The opposition to this bill is broad, deep and bi-partisan.  It claims MEIC has lied about its position.  That is simply not true.  MEIC staff put our names to what we post.’   First Jim, it’s a blog, not a website.  Second, with a tiny bit of diligence you can figure out who you might talk to if you really want to air out your hurt feelings.  Third, what you are reading is an anonymous blog.  The Ghost of Tom Joad is not affiliated with any organization and its ‘allies’ are the very people MEIC sought to and has harmed through lawsuits to shut down the plants in Colstrip and now through your lovefest with Talen by killing SB 338.

But I went too far last night in a short online comment.’  Again, stop.  Point made.  ‘My frustration got the best of me and I apologize.’  Point made, stop!  ‘MEIC supports worker’s rights.’ Worker’s rights aren’t worth much when those workers lose their jobs and are left staring at the foreclosure notices taped to their windows.  ‘When I served in the Montana in the Montana House of Representatives, I earned a 100% positive voting record with labor.’  Funny, so did Kim Gillan and look at her now, 30 pieces of silver in her pocket and the blood of injured workers on her hands.  You’re in fine company Jim.  ‘I object to the statements being posted online saying MEIC is the lone opponent of SB 338 and MEIC is “in bed” with polluters or is being paid off.’  Me thinks Jim doth protest too much.  ‘That’s a bridge too far but it still doesn’t excuse my reaction.’  You’re right Jim, it doesn’t.  But you can’t seem to just say that.

However, I do hope we can all agree that now, more than ever, we all need to return to fact-based arguments.’  Can’t we all just get along?  ‘(Finally, I must apologize to my late English-major mother for making a grammatical error.)’   Read ‘Look, I’m cute and funny so everyone should like me now because I denigrated myself for all to see.’  Well sort of.  What Jim is really saying is that whoever mocked him is small-minded. Kind of odd as part of an apology.  Heck Jim, everyone makes a mistake.  It’s OK.  But then you went on to butcher your  own apology.


How about one small piece of advice Jim?  If you’re going to apologize then just say ‘I’m sorry, that was really unprofessional.’ and stop at that.  And Jim, you clearly missed the point.  If anyone is owed an apology it’s every man, woman and child in the town of Colstrip.  How about if you, Anne and all of your ‘allies’ head east and make that apology?  Let us know how that works out for you.


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

$Up With El$ie’$ $taff?

Montana Cowgirl shocked us all this week with the news of El$ie’$ ridiculously paid attorney/advisor in support of her role on the Montana Land Board.  It might be easier just to say that after three and a half months of meetings,  Arnt$en has realized she has on idea what anyone is talking about regarding the board or what she’s supposed to do.  Never mind that the representatives to the land board have staffers who work the process and do the bulk of the work.

Now think back over her campaign and her tumultuous start as the head of OPI and it should occur to  you that she never did know what the office was about, isn’t figuring out now and, unfortunately, probably never will.  Once elected she made promises to multiple supporters that she’d be appointing them to cake jobs within OPI and without fc85f876ce35fbda6b594919091a802b[1]knowing she had a small number of positions that she could appoint.

But maybe she’s found a loophole for her cronies- hire them as contractors like Jim Kearns and CMS or maybe temps who can work short term and collect a fat check.  Could be worth looking into since El$ie seems to have abandoned those party values of ‘fiscal responsibility’.

One thing that is for sure, if El$ie is spending the OPI bankroll on her pals there won’t be anything left for the hard working staff who turn the cranks that make the wheels on the OPI bus go round and round.  They should be grateful, at least she’s implemented a dress code.


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