I Am Not That I am

When is a legislator not a legislator?  When that legislator takes the lead in a law suit rex-whistler-tinker-and-housewife[1]against the State to throw out a law passed while he was a sitting legislator.  The irony, a legislator can’t be sued for legislative action, but a legislator can sue as a result of legislative action.  That’s a lot of legislative action!

In this case that would be Representative Greg Hertz of Polson.  Hertz made no secret of his disagreement with SB 4, a bill to charge a management fee to certain portfolios managed by the Montana Board of Investments.  In fact, Hertz’s outspoken opposition appears to be earning him the designation as Montana State Fund’s new legislative lap dog.

The Fund’s exorbitantly paid high level managers have made no secret of their displeasure with the change of direction from a new board of directors.  In most cases ’employees’ with an inability to follow a directive would have been given their walking papers by now.  But this team has been around a long time and have figured out how to work a room and they live to collect yet another paycheck.

Of course there will be plenty more to see as this plays out and no doubt Hertz and crew will see this case all the way to the seven wizards in Helena.  However, the real show here is to watch Lanny Hubbard, State Fund President, drink water while Hertz talks.

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TGTJ

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

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Friends Don’t Let Friends Primary Friends

But first it’s important to figure out who your friends really are, or more aptly put, aren’t.

The Montana Post recently put out a general introduction to Robert Farris-Olsen.  Yeah, so?  Well, Farris-Olsen will be entering the Montana political world in a primary race against the fallen flower Mary Caferro.  From the outside looking in this may look like both a bold and dumb move on his part, however, there is a bit to know about dear Mary and how this has come to be.

Sometime back in late February of 2017 as the doldrums of the session dragged on and legislators had too much time on their hands because leadership wasn’t leading, some termed out legislators started talking about their future.  Enter Caferro, who for allstyx-too-much-time-on-my-hands-1981-5[1] intents and purposes, has made herself a career politician having been first elected in 2004, some 14 years ago, and now hopes to spend a little more time back in the House where she first started.  As the Helena political machine operates, Mary sought out a few local House members hoping they’d do a seat swap.

Mary’s first run was at the now veteran and much admired Representative Funk.  ‘Uptown’, as she jokingly refers to herself, is no fool and saw the game for what it was.  On to the next, House Appropriations Committee member Janet Ellis.  Keeping Ellis in that power position, minority or not, would have been a wise move by Democrats and leadership.  But what about poor Mary and her status in the world?  What about all that good work she’s been doing for Montanans?  What about her free health care?  Well damnit Janet, she said yes.

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And now come the complications.  Surrogate party leaders were looking for a spot for Melissa Romano after her narrow loss to the Sarah Palin of Montana.  The claim to Caferro’s soon to be vacated Senate seat was staked out for Romano with plenty of talk so no one could say they didn’t know.  Mary can say she just didn’t care.  To make a long story short, Ellis gives Caferro her word.  Party surrogate number 1, Eric Feaver, comes into play.  Ellis expresses anger that Feaver has abandoned her for Romano.  Feaver makes clear that Romano called ‘dibs’ first.  Ellis makes an angry face.  Feaver claims more innocence.  Tempers flare.  Talking stops.  Caferro knits in a corner smiling like the Cheshire Cat.

Fast forward several months and there is much wringing of hands as sides must be drawn in this Ellis vs Romano battle royale.  MEA-MFT has already made clear where they stand, and in turn so will follow the rest of organized labor in Helena.  Ellis has done no wrong, except for being duped by the Mata Hari of the Senate.  And then comes Ellis’s reprieve!  Romano is deluged with Teacher of the Year duties and must drop out of a race she had barely started.  While Ellis will still face a challenger, at least she has a record to stand on with labor for their support.  That is if she still wants it.  Caferro has o-OLD-MAN-CONFUSED-570[1]knitted an afghan to hide under while the sparks fly.

Sound convoluted?  Feel confused?  Mary likes it that way.

Isn’t this a post about Ferris-Olsen? Or is it a post about Caferro?  Let’s go with Caferro for the finish, because really, she should be finished.   Head back to 2013 when she proposed legislation to close a long standing public institution and decimate another of Montana’s small towns.  Due to a lot of very poor work by Mary and those backing her play, the bill was tanked, but with the warning, she’d be back.  And back she came in 2015, never mind the fact that her employer would benefit most from privatization.  This time with more backing to include the Governor and majorities in both houses.  Keep in mind that MDC is, well was, unionized by both AFSCME and MEA-MFT.  Union busting through legislation, a mortal sin.  Word has it that Mary spent a little time in 2017 skulking into various union headquarter offices in an attempt to recreate her Hari role and win favor with elected and hired union heads.  She remains exiled.

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And now the test.  Ferris-Olsen is a fresh face on the scene with a far more broad view of what needs to be done.  No doubt the Democratic Party will do it’s usual corner cowering and not back any one candidate while the work of drumming Caferro out will be left to folks who pay the bills for the party.  Which makes a fella wonder, why shell out that cash in the name of the party anymore?  With Mary as their darling girl and to claim we’re all ‘friends’, who needs enemies?

Best of luck to you Rob!  Caferro will make a fine lobbyist when this is all over.

TGTJ

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

City of Helena To Send Plow To Florida

Helena City Manager Ron Alles announced this morning that he would be sending the City’s lone plow to Florida today as a rare winter storm blasts the Southern United States.  “We are excited to have been asked to assist in this effort and to show the South how we handle snow up here every winter.”  Alles doesn’t believe this will create any hardships for Helena residents as they have completed their snow adjustment operations for the season.

Helena’s solitary plow has been in operation for sometime and, according to City officials, is in pristine condition given it’s low miles and time stored in the City shops.  While many Helena residents have expressed concerns, and at times, even anger overvintagesnowremoval2[1] the lack of plowing on local streets, Alles insists the City runs a model program.  “Helena runs an admirable plan to the adjustment of snow on the two streets we believe should be dealt with.  We move that snow from the driving lanes into driveways and walkways of local residents and then get that plow back into the shop to prevent rust on both the plow and the undercarriage.’

Alles also pointed out that the City approach will work well in Florida given the population of Florida and it’s image as a retirement state.  “Most of those elderly citizens of Florida really don’t have anywhere to go so having their driveways blocked by snow should be of no consequence.  And this should be a short lived event in Florida given that normal temperatures are expected to return to Florida soon.”

Alles anticipates that the plow will be returned to Helena sometime in early August in time for it’s annual showing in the Last Chance Stampede Parade.

TGTJ

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

In With The New, Out With The Old

And the infirm, the disabled, the poor, the at risk, the underprivileged, the….  As 2018 is welcomed with great hope for a better year than the last, there is also a great sense of despair as Montana’s state government continues to carry out the slashing offered up by the Governor and blessed by the Legislature during the November special session.  State workers have been feeling the pain since last summer.  And now it’s time for Mom, Pop and Jr to start suffering out in the hinterlands.

There wasn’t much in the way of lamenting as state employees received their pink slips late last summer and then through the fall. After all, Montana’s state government needs to live within it’s means.  Part of learning to live in a smaller budget world also means eliminating some long standing ‘contracted services‘ to private providers.  It’s important to remember that programs like case management as they existed before the cuts and for the last three decades were entirely publicly funded.  Yes, a government program carried out by the private sector with tax dollars. In this case, that’s not at all a bad thing.  Case management for the developmentally disabled carried out by the non profits who have successfully provided employment services is like a one stop shop and makes sense.  That is until the public money dries up. Truly a sad situation and those cracks that people like to lament about others less fortunate than themselves falling through are much larger than they’ve been in years, in fact, in decades.

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If that was all, if that was the only loss, the only scaling back, it would be one thing.  It’s not.  There’s the loss of mental health services, the closing of public assistance offices in rural counties, reading libraries for the blind, services to at risk youth.  The list goes on, and will grow longer given the course that’s been charted.  And on that course could be a return to the days of the county poorhouse and county poor-farm, institutions from days of old that no one ever envisioned coming back.  2018 brings a new round of campaigns and elections.  No doubt we’ll soon be asked ‘is this is what you voted for’ as the Montana Democratic Party tries to figure out a win in November.  Unfortunately Nancy, yes, this is what Montanan’s voted for, but didn’t believe it would happen to their neighbors.

So as the holiday season is ushered out and the doldrums of January begin, harken back to Christmas Eve and the three ghosts who visited Scrooge in hopes of his redemption.  In particular the Ghost of Christmas Present.  As he opened his robes, he revealed two1951-xmas-ignorance-want[1] malnourished and scared children.  ‘This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want.  Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom….’  Ignorance has grown up.  Ignorance is angry.  Ignorance hates his government, yet fiercely defends it’s flag.  Ignorance is barely getting by and in debt.  Ignorance believes it’s someone else’s fault, someone who snuck into the country to do the work he won’t.  Ignorance has the nation’s attention.  Ignorance has the Republican Party’s attention and the Democratic Party’s scorn.  And worst of all, Ignorance votes.

TGTJ

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