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.

poor farm

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.’

The Salt in His Tears

th0X183ESTThe whiskey has dried up, the thick steaks are all gone and the dust of a Special Session has settled.  The dramatic late nights of deal making have ended, even the scrambling of who gets all the glory for saving the day has waned.  But if you close your eyes and listen carefully during the dark of night, you’ll hear a whimper, perhaps the gentle weeping of some great hurt, some great loss.  If you’re feeling adventurous pull on your boots and venture out to follow the sound and find the origin of that sorrowful mouning.  Yes, it’s coming from the Montana State Fund building where a solitary light shines high up from a corner office on the third floor.

You see those tears belong to Lanny Hubbard and his well paid, highly dedicated and well scripted team of Vice Presidents at the Fund.  In case you missed out or were preoccupied with dread over another political family Thanksgiving, here’s what happened in cliffnote form.  65th Legislature leaves state in a shambles by not recognizing it needs money.  State budget becomes crisis.  Big Llew and Little Dan make deals.  Governor calls special session to enact said deals.  Senate Bill 4 becomes one of several revenue generating components of the Big and Little deal.  SB 4 establishes an investment management fee that charges for the ‘free’ investment services MSF has been receiving from the Board of Investments.  Hubbard sends in a crack team of lobbyist to wring hands and gnash teeth.  Crack team gives inaccurate information and dozes in the296223094_f1df82bef2_b[1] corner.  SB 4 becomes law.  Hubbard, who runs a quasi state agency and isn’t a team player, sues state.  Governor recognizes rogue MSF President and appoints new board members.  Board votes 5-2 to drop law suit.  Hubbard maintains composure and follows ‘wishes of the board’ (read ‘directive of the board’) and withdraws suit.  Management team gathers each night to wail and wallow the great mistreatment by both the Governor and Legislature.

Shouldn’t that be the end of the story?  Couldn’t it be? Please?  Not with good ol’ Lanny.  Nope.  Hubbard, the once deft player to the middle, may have finally overplayed his hand in covertly suggesting to the likes of Representative Greg Hertz that if he can’t sue, maybe some yet to be damaged policy holders could get their day in court.  Certainly this doesn’t play well to Hubbard’s ego given his penchant to be the front man, however, it could be salve to his wounds.  For the rest of us, we  can only hope he’s left his DNA on the legal documents to be filed.  Those fingerprints in anyone else’s world would be otherwise named ‘insubordination’- a big word for ‘Lanny isn’t carrying out the wishes of his employer and now it’s time to pack up his office’.

So what’s left?  Well, policy holders with State Fund, who have no where else to go, are wondering why there is over a BILLION dollars in reserves, a reserve filled by their high premiums.  Injured workers wonder why they have to fight for a decent benefit when there are over a BILLION dollars in reserves, yet their own bank accounts are empty.  The Governor and the Legislative body are wondering how much deeper they can get into that BILLION plus dollars without affecting policy holders or injured workers.  Montana citizens are Montana-State-Fund-2[1]wondering what kind of government agency can have over a BILLION dollars to brag about.  State Fund employees are wondering how soon the weight of over a BILLION dollars will bring the Taj MaHubbard Building down on their heads.  And Victory Insurance, with it’s own new lobbying firm, is wondering how much longer it will have to bide it’s time before it can get access to over a BILLION dollars through privatization of the Fund.

And maybe, just maybe, the Montana State Fund Board is wondering how quickly they can hand Hubbard his golden parachute and salvage what’s left of a severely damaged image.  Then again, if Hubbard goes where will the tears come from to fill the water feature in his legacy shrine in downtown Helena?

TGTJ

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

And the award goes to

Imagine the myriad of reactions recently when the Montana Professional Teaching MelissaRomano1HR[1]Foundation, aka MEA-MFT, named Melissa Romano the 2018 Teacher of the Year.  Say what?!?!  Melissa came closer than any other 2016 “tier b” Democratic candidate of winning her statewide race against now superintendent of public instruction Else Arntzen.  Admittedly with more than a fair amount of financial support from the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers and why not since she was the MEA-MFT heir apparent to the legacy of Nancy Keenan, Linda McCulloch, and Denise Juneau.

She is the  2012 recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, a contributor to Better Lesson where her math lessons are shared on a national platform, as well as running to represent the residents of Montana’s Senate District 41 in 2018.  Considering her teaching vitae it isn’t a stretch to see why she was named Teacher of the Year by the MPTF.  But dadgumit, there’s that little political tickler out there – Eric Feaver, president of MEA-MFT (aka “the teachers union”) as well as head of the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation.  Uh oh!  Hey Eric…you got some explaining to do!

Eric.imageIn the right circles Eric Feaver, we’ll call him “the tickler”, is responsible for everything from the death of Christ to global warming.  Not bad for a transplanted Okie who coincidently didn’t burn his draft card down at the courthouse ala Merle Haggard.  Anyone who sees machinations from “the tickler” behind Melissa’s award needs to stay away from the railroad tracks because “stupid is as stupid does.”  No one with any political savvy will claim this helps Melissa in her 2018 bid for the state senate or for a potential 2020 re-match with Elsie.elsie_200p

Yeah, there’s bad blood between Feaver (Elsie’s deplorable voting record) and Arntzen – “I’m taking back the TOY and making it great again‘ – but “the tickler” ain’t stupid.  However, given the current political climate in Montana and pending Trump Armageddon, it shall be shouted from the mountains to the prairie that “the tickler” is trying to “gild his lily” in the hopes of burnishing her reputation for future political office.  Is that a double entendre?  Sorry Melissa!

The interesting story will be listening to the “right” Republicans hammer on Feaver, Romano, Bullock, and MEA-MFT that this is proof positive of nepotism, cronyism, and cubism within the ranks of the Democratic Party.  So let’s not forget that Greg Gianforte kicked off his gubernatorial campaign by giving $8 million to Montana State University for the Gianforte School of Computing and wrapped it up with the body slam of a left leaning reporter. Now he’s Montana’s man in the House of Representatives poised with pick, shovel, and sump pump to drain the swamp.  Makes Melissa’s TOY award seem rather tame.  Maybe she can find a right leaning reporter to rough up…who knows “Governor” Romano?!?

What I hope doesn’t get lost in all the political scuffling is the fact that Melissa Romano is an excellent teacher and deserving of this award regardless if she has political aspirations or not.  After all this is ‘Merica and it’s your right to stand or take a knee.

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

Guest Post: Sit, Stand, Kneel

I don’t care what you do. I’m a veteran and I don’t care what you do during the national anthem at the beginning of an overpriced and over rated sports event. And here’s why.

Twenty five years ago I took an oath to defend the Constitution and the President from both foreign and domestic enemies. I raised my right hand and fumbled through the words k rockwith a platoon of 40 other freshly shaved heads. I understood the Constitution and I understood the First Amendment. My middle class high school had taught me well and I’d recited the pledge of allegiance to the wall more times than I’d been laid before heading off to boot camp.  I didn’t sign up for the love of country or the flag.  I signed up because there were no jobs, the factories were all gone.  College was too expensive, I wanted out of middle America for a while and I wanted adventure.  It was my escape.  I got out.  And I got far more than I ever imagined in the way of adventure, so much so I’d like to give a lot of it back for a decent night’s sleep.

So about that oath.  I took my oath and that oath says: ‘…that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;…’ Then the rest prattles on about the President american-flag-02[1]and officers, both of which most enlisted troops either despise or mock at every opportunity.  Regardless, that oath is sworn to the Constitution first.  Faith and allegiance are given before life and limb to the President or some butter bars, boot Lt. I learned quickly that by enlisting I had given up my right to freedom of expression for the next decade, but that I’d maintained my right to bear arms, day in and day out.  After 12 years I turned in my arms and picked up my freedom of speech again.  For my purposes here, my freedom of expression.

Back to football.  I’m insulted that my service and the life and death of many like me has become a shield of the phony patriots who either never took the oath or have forgotten it’s core purpose- the Constitution.  Not one of my brothers or sisters in arms died for a flag or a poorly written and hard to sing patriotic song.   My brothers and I didn’t stay on the line to fight for a flag. We stayed on the line for each other;  the guy on the right and the guy on the left. We would have stayed on the line for the woman on either side as well.   And get ready for this, we stayed on the line for that guy no one was really sure about but was a hell of soldier, even though he was transgender.  We didn’t and don’t care.  We lived and died for each other and that’s all we care about to this day.

So to say that putting your hand over your heart and singing along while you hope your beer doesn’t get spilled before the song is over is a sign of respect to me is bullshit.  If you want to respect me, if you want to respect us then take a knee in our honor and have faith in the Constitution and ‘freedom of speech’ that we defended.  Well, we weren’t really defending the Constitution.  Lately, I’m more convinced we were defending some corporation’s right to make a lot of money because war is profitable and when the trumpets sound, the poor boys must dance.  Sorry, sidetracked.  I don’t care if some overpaid brutes take a knee.  It’s their right and I do care about that.

They’re standing up, well in this case taking a knee, for what they believe in and that’s   pretty damned American to me.  And just as they have the right to express themselves, sotrump-flag[1] do you.  All I ask is that you don’t use me as your patriotic shield and rubber battle sword.  One of the many things I’ve learned over the years and from my time in the service is that those who yell the loudest about the flag are the last to the line and the first to piss themselves when the shit comes in.

If you want to be offended by something in my honor, be offended at an underfunded, poorly administered, and poorly staffed VA health care system.  Be offended by the fact that there is such a thing as a ‘homeless veteran’.  Channel that anger to stop 22 veterans from committing suicide each day.  Find a cause to show a vet you actually give a shit about us instead of showing us your warrior skills on Facebook.  Otherwise, and I mean this with all due respect for your rights, shut the fuck up.

Finally, when you’re claiming you’re honoring the troops who have both served and died by standing for the national anthem, take a trip to any military base and watch what happens during morning and evening colors.  You’ve never seen soldiers move so quickly as they do when they are trying to find cover during colors to avoid having to stand at attention for two minutes.

A Modern Day GI Joe

The Fat Man Has Sung

Image[1]We’ve all had the good fortune of reading Senator Llew Jones’s editorial as it’s traveled across Montana in the company rags.  Llew is all set to ‘tighten the government’s purse strings’ in the fashion he already started with his now executed SB 261.  And to read his words as he wrote them you would think this all just came to be in the last few months.  Jones seems to have a short view of history, not even back to 2005 when he first plopped down into a creaky wooden chair in the House chambers for the first time.  But it’s not uncommon for legislators to shrug off sessions they weren’t a part of when it suits their needs.  In this case, it was just one session before in 2003 that Jones should be taking into consideration.

If you were to believe his view of Montana you’d believe that most Montanan’s are out wrangling cattle, raising crops or pulling up the shades on the general store on Main Street.  Certainly, the commodities have suffered and there is no doubt the stability of those markets does have an impact on Montana’s economy.  It’s also important to remember that Montana has a diverse economy that is doing better than Jones would have you believe.  The majority of Montanan’s live in far more urban areas of the state than Conrad.  In fact, it’s safe to say that most Montanan’s primary contact with wheat and beef is when they take a bite out of a cheeseburger.

Those forms of revenue that Jones laid out do indeed matter.  However, there is another and more long term story playing out that Jones and his gang are casually ignoring.  A guest post in Montana Cowgirl spells out the history of what Jones neglects to mention or even acknowledge.  Reductions in business taxes and personal income taxes of the highest earners has finally come home to roost.  Back then in 2003 even former budget director and long time legislator Dave Lewis called it a ‘black hole’ and coming from a guy like Lewis, that’s saying something.

So back to Big Llew.  His last few sessions have been a good run for him with plenty of thick steaks and whiskey.  He’s built himself a fine perch in the political arena of

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I’m fuckin’ Llew!

Montana.  For the moderates, he’s in the lead and kept close by the far right.  For the not so far left he’s obviously gained their trust and confidence.  If you don’t believe that only have a look at the final House vote of his now famed and session ending SB 261.  But don’t be too harsh on the D’s, it was their way home.  And then there’s organized labor who see him as their ‘go to guy’ to help move legislation and carry a little water.  In some circles he’s even been called a ‘colossus’. The same colossus who now encourages the Governor to have union members pack up their desks and ultimately stop paying dues.

Jones’s SB 261 was merely a precursor to where we have landed today with far deeper budget cuts that will not just end the careers and livelihoods of state employees butwhite-pat-on-the-head-men-s-tees-men-s-t-shirt[1] campus, county and city workers as well.  When Jones talks about  a ‘…main street businessman who’s customers will have little money to spend…’ he is also referring to the spending power of those now out of work government folks.  But take heart you government workers, Jones and his ilk know you are ‘good people hired to do a job’.  Feel better?

If you’ve spent even a small amount of time around Big Llew during his now 12 years in the Legislature then you’ve heard him talk about ‘tightening our belts’ more than once.  Perhaps this helps redefine irony yet again: A 350 pound middle aged white man in suspenders lecturing about belt tightening.  Go figure.

King Henry VIII eating

TGTJ

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

Does This Ass Make My City Look Stupid?

The Billings mayoral race is generating some attention lately with ballots out in the mail to narrow the field down to the final two candidates on a November 7 ballot.  ‘Mayor of Billings’ may sound like a big deal with the title, an office and an annual salary of less than $10,000 year.  OK, so maybe it’s more presence than influence considering the City has a City Manager and a City Council.  It’s not like it’s Missoula and taking down Mountain Water or even Helena with Jim Smith who has…wait, what does Jim Smith do?  Back to Billings, it is Montana’s largest city after all.

One candidate in particular has big plans for the office and believes he’s got the assmanleadership experience to make that happen.  Termed out Representative Jeff Essmann is spending a lot of time and a lot of money in his efforts to land a new job in government, albeit elected, but still on the dole.  Essman has gone so far as to announce that he will ‘…get to work on infrastructure projects while avoiding new taxes.’  Think about that, which old taxes will be used and which services of the City of Billings will no longer be offered. Add to that Essmann’s failure to exert his ‘leadership’ to increase revenues or pass an infrastructure bill in not one session, but two.  Hell, let’s go all the way back to his entrance into the legislature in 2005.

So on that 2017 session that Essmann used his experience in, Essmann would proudly say the feather in his cap was blocking legislation that would have allowed counties to save tens of thousands of dollars by using a mail ballot in a special election.  A special election that ultimately sent his good friend, and now convicted body slammer, Greg Gianforte to Congress.  Aside from that, Essmann snuck away from his duties at the Capitol for a few days to watch his hero, Donald Trump, take the oath as President.  Oh and he spends a lot of time on twitter simply retweeting with the occasional snarky comment.  He’s very good at it.  The best.  Really.

FullSizeRender (1)If you were to believe Essmann’s own account of his leadership skills you would believe he not only kept his own party intact, but that he also reached across the isle constantly to move important legislation that positively impacts Montana.  If you were to believe that you would be wrong.  State Senator Jen Gross called Essmann out for his failures in the 2017 session with her recent letter in the Billings Gazette.  Then came an odd tweet exchange with former Representative Mike Miller who clearly shows no support or confidence in Essmann.  Then again, it’s a little dicey to take Miller’s word for it, given his conviction for campaign practices, to include being banned from running for office.

Gross didn’t come right out and say it, but come on Billings, you can do better than this.Essmann   appears to be one of those termed out legislators who desperately needs a place to land.  Given his career of being in the way, he doesn’t know the meaning of ‘get out of the way’ or how to make a graceful exit.  Then again, it could be that Essmann is in search of another government health plan now that he’ll get kicked off the state health insurance plan. At least he’ll get to keep his government pension with a defined benefit.  Wait!  Does that make Essmann a socialist?

mayberryTGTJ

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

 

While you were sleeping…

Or debating the civil war…or waiting for rain…or posting eclipse selfies…the Montana Department of Labor and Industry has been quietly sidling through rural Montana closing Job Service offices.  Tuesday of this week employees got the ax in Lewistown. closed-out-of-business[1] From there it was off to Anaconda, Dillon and Hamilton for the final blow.  Earlier this year DLI closed offices in Livingston, Shelby and Glasgow.  And while the Montana Historical Society and State Library have managed to keep the attention of the press with their ‘whining’, according to Representative Nancy Balance, there has yet to be a drop of ink for these closings, layoffs and loss of services to rural Montana.  Let alone a tear from the Governor or Commissioner of Labor.

So what of it?  Are the closures and loss of some 40 jobs the result of the session ending bipartisan Senate Bill 261 or girding for the cuts to come from the Throne of Trump?  It’s hard to say at this point given that there have been no press releases or official statements made by anyone, anywhere.  Not a peep.  For an administration that so enjoys touting Main Street Montana and Montana Values, there doesn’t seem to be much concern or much support for rural main street now or that Montana value of being open and honest about what’s happening.  You might just wonder if  something is hiding in all of this smoke.

‘Government should operate like private business.’ In this case, government is doing just that.  Swooping into small Montana towns with a crack team of well paid administrators BFPAN0[1]handing out pink slips then off to the next small town to do more of the same.  Of course driving the company car and dining on the company dime along the way.  Those folks appeared sad faced and empathetic then hit the road, tires spinning and gravel flying. And speaking of those managers, it would appear that these closures don’t involve a single top dollar administrator or any jobs in the beehives of Helena.  Life and paydays go on for the protected and imbedded in the Capitol City.

Speaking of life going on, it would seem that the closings come at a coincidental time withsave-yourself[1] Commissioner of Labor Pam Bucy leaving for a new opportunity with well know lobbyist and quiet voice of the Republican Party, Mark Taylor.  Could it be she checked the horizon, saw the iceberg and abandoned ship quickly?  Or is it just the universe in motion.  Either way she’s landed in a nice soft spot while her former employees head home to break the news to the family and plant a ‘For Sale’ sign in the front yard.

TGTJ

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