Laaadddiiieeesss and Geeenntttllleeemmmeeennn….

Hailing from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California with a record of 0 and 1, fighting in the red, white and blue trunks- Greg The Grappling GOPer!!!!

Nacho Libre (2006) Directed by Jared Hess Shown: Jack Black (as Nacho)

Tired of that pesky federal government overreach?  Greg The Grappling GOPer is here!


Ready for a new healthcare system that ignores the poor?  Greg The Grappling GOPer is here!


Want to see those public lands closed off and sold?  Greg The Grappling GOPer is here!


Had enough of the liberal media and the 1st Amendment?  Greg The Grappling GOPer is here!


How about some of those high paying jobs for Montana that can’t be explained?  Greg The Grappling GOPer is here!


What about all this transgender bathroom stuff?  Greg The Grappling GOPer is here!


And how about some publicly funded private education that will finally exclude the disabled?  Greg The Grappling GOPer is here!


Will Greg The Grappling GOPer continue on his losing streak to a record of 0 and 2 or will the Trump supporters rally for the body slam king and send him to Washington if he’s not convicted of a felony?  We’ll all be watching from the edge of our seats!



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







Gone Fishin’

May 25, 2017, 8pm.  Montana’s special election will be in the bag and we can all go fishing again.  And Memorial Day weekend is one day away: the unofficial start of summer.  It’s been a nonstop slog of campaigning for well over a year and we all deserve a break from yard signs, phone calls, mailings, door hangers and TV adds.  Fishing.  The river rolling by.   The water lapping up on the shores of the lake.  Feel calm already?IMG_6800

The special election campaign has been heavily peppered with public lands sound bites, the Montana tradition of getting out in the woods to hunt or on the water to wet a line.  Hell, even Greg Gianforte’s imported supporters took a break to enjoy all that Montana has to offer.  Donald Trump Jr took to the field to harvest a few prairie dogs and tried his ‘skills’ in the water.

Vice President Mike Pence took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy some fishing as well.  It’s got to be rough dodging every steaming pile your boss leaves behind.  No doubt he was much in need of a little R and R while pandering to the already Gianforte faithful.  Who could blame him?

‘He looked like every other fisherman who walks in the door’ said store owner Katy Martin when Pence stopped by.  Well, except for one thing.

Pence and Trump Jr both went fishing.   Only one of them bought a fishing license.  Can you guess which one?



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

The Art of Vetting: Strike 2

Campaigns are ugly.  Anyone who’s crazy enough to jump in one needs to know that and anyone who’s pushing them needs to learn the art of vetting.  Clearly the Montana November 7, 2012Democratic Party and its principals have forgotten this art.  Yet here we are with less than ten days until the polls close on a special congressional race and Rob Quist just grew a few more warts.  From way back East comes a story with plenty of foul smelling and years old garbage.  To Quist and his family, all apologies.  Someone should have locked you in a box for a week and picked you to pieces while doing some intensive record searching.  This isn’t entirely on you.  Meet up with John Walsh for a beer when it’s all said and done.

Is it really that bad?  Quist has herpes, so does two thirds of the world’s population.  Quist smoked pot.  Less than half the US population has smoked pot- liars! This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, he was living on a bus and traveling to play music. And maybe his music career was going to take off and maybe it wasn’t.  If only he could have been on ‘The Voice’ back then.

Back to the real problem.  Party principals have now shown us their incompetence and inability to properly vet potential candidates as they continue to ride that merry-go-round of ‘same as it ever was’ and ‘this is what we’ve always done’.  November has come and gone.  The legislative session is over with no bonding bill.  It’s time for fresh leadership to take control. It’s time for new blood.  It’s time for the bold and the brave.Stop-Doing-It-The-Same-Old-Way-To-Do-List-Photo1-300x200  Established party leadership has failed us and learned no lessons by the constant defeat.  But the loss of Montana’s tier B races last November is the greatest example of all.  Once you’ve finished Trump off with your torches and pitchforks be ready to turn them inward on the Democratic Party.  Then again, you may not need to given the gasping for air and the death rattle in its throat.

But take heart.  While you’re all wondering who will run for Governor in 2020 because there is no democratic bench of candidates and no grooming taking place, rumors are spreading.  Word has it that Anthony Weiner is planning to establish residence in Montana in time to file.  Weiner mentioned something about a call from Georgetown Lake.  What could go wrong?


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

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.’



They Get The Gold Mine, You Get The Shaft

how-to-not-ask-for-a-salary-increaseThis morning House Appropriations, led by Representative Nancy Ballance, tabled the state employee pay plan.  With only two days to move an appropriations bill it looks like that token 1% pay raise is dead, then again, it was probably dead on arrival to begin with.  This decade of legislative sessions and state worker pay has brought those on the earning end no love from the people they elect and send to Helena.  Ironic huh?  Maybe that’s just a cause and effect of a voter who works for the State of Montana and casts a ballot with ideology in mind instead of their paycheck.

Maybe the real irony lies in the fact that on January 5th the very same committee voted 21 to 1 to pass House Bill 1 which contained a 14% increase for legislators.  Pile that on top of  their free government health care, payment into the retirement plan, a fancy new laptop and you have plenty of salt for the wounds of state workers.  Never mind the fact that the head for state employees, Governor Bullock, sent the bill back with some amendatory vetoes and then two weeks later just let it become law as presented.   And pay no attention to those union bosses who are mumbling ‘but we’ve always done it this way’.  They’re dazed and confused by yet another kick in the crotch from the legislative and executive branches.

Certainly there’s time for the likes of Villa, Cook and Jones to concoct a plan that slides the 11017119_10153146765842910_4069452162657497198_nnecessary funds somewhere to give the maximum wing guard at the Montana State Prison a $312 a year raise, and that’s a job that starts out at fifteen bucks an hour.  Or maybe it’s just too much to ask to move a pay raise of $192 a year for the cooks in Lewistown at the Home for the Aging as they feed the disabled their last meals.

So you state workers can sit a while longer and see what magic can get worked up there on the second floor over some whiskey in the dark of night.  But you may want to remember they got theirs on day 4 of this session.


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


State Fund Lives One More Day

Two days ago the workers compensation industry was all abuzz with the news that they may finally get a piece of the injured worker action from Montana State Fund as the ThrillVictoryAgonyDefeat_280x280[1]insurer of last resort.  Earlier this week bill drafts were floating around the Capitol that either eliminated State Fund completely by the middle of this summer or turned it into a mutual fund by early 2019.  Folks lined up quickly with Victory Insurance putting all of its eggs in Senator Moore’s basket on one side and State Fund landing on the soft side to oppose either bill but sort of, kind of, well maybe support a study bill related to becoming a mutual fund.  Injured workers just wanted to know who was going to take care of them.

Both bills made their way to a hearing, one right after the other and of course both with all of the same players in the room.  Just a shift of positions from one bill to the next.  Well, except for Victory Insurance who didn’t pivot from the take over stance.  Victory got their time at the podium by filling the room with paid staff and paid lobbyists like Kim Gillan who sat silently and Scott Reichner who couldn’t seem to remember what year he last served in the Legislature.  Reichner has always been on the wrong side of the tracks from injured workers.  Gillan clearly collected her 30 pieces of silver and held the company banner high.

And despite all of those Victory suits, all of that Victory money and the vast knowledge of two former legislators, Victory’s grab for the State Fund pot of gold has failed.  Both bills were tabled after taking the entire morning and confusing, as well as annoying the committee.  Any annoyance was more than justified given the timing and the fact that legislators believe they can vacate the building by Good Friday.  No time, no energy, no consensus and no path.  Lanny Hubbard and the Montana State Fund have dodged ayoure-fired-15-5[1] bullet today, make that two bullets.  Hubbard has been the target of some powerful legislators like Jim Keane for a while now.  Lanny and his board have two years to either prepare to be privatized or dump some baggage and clean up their image.  But there’s a lot of ego in that shiny building in down town Helena, so we’ll see if one person goes or 300.


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

A Threesome: MEIC, Talon and PSE

Have you read the  blog posted over at Intelligent Discontent. The author argues in support of Senate Bill 338 which would obligate the utilities closing units 1 and 2 in Colstrip to help the workers and their families transition. The fact of the matter is that the mess in Colstrip is not the fault of workers, never has been. The responsibility belongs to massive out-of-state utilities who put more profit ahead of environmental standards and the interests of the people who labored to make them those huge profits.  A reasonable and responsible proposal.

Senate Bill 338 also seems like a pretty basic piece of legislation that should fly through the Montana Legislature. Unfortunately, that may not be the case.

So what’s the problem and who’s in the way?  MEIC, that’s who!  The Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) is lobbying hard to kill this legislation. MEIC is hoping to build a coalition of free market Republicans and corporate Democrats in order to destroy any hope for Colstrip workers. In the end and once again, workers are on the losing end of that relationship.

hedgesHow is MEIC doing this? They’re using a red herring. Anne Hedges, MEIC’s Lead Lobbyist writes, Senate Bill 338 “moves us in the direction of punishing businesses that have invested billions in the state and are ready to move to the new energy economy. The town of Colstrip needs help with transition, and that doesn’t include scaring away new business.”

MEIC’s argument is disingenuous at best and a corporate lie at worst.  And just plain confusing given its history of lawsuits.

The reason units 1 and 2 are closing is because of a successful lawsuit litigated by none other than  MEIC and the Sierra Club. It’s pretty rich that MEIC is now all of a sudden concerned about Montana’s business climate, particularly the resource extraction business. The fact of the matter is that corporate America uses these kind of scare tactics to keep their huge profits safe without taking any responsibility for their actions. It’s sad that MEIC is Talon’s mouthpiece and siding with corporations over people.

Additionally, the facts just don’t agree with the story MEIC is trying to sell. When Puget Sound Energy closed a coal plant in Washington state, they paid the community almost $50 million. Guess what? Puget Sound Energy is still operating in Washington and investing in Washington.

Don’t buy the lies and the corporate rhetoric. Senate Bill 338 is a simple bill that could be 5af3e46500b316f124a31c5889970162of tremendous help to the people of Colstrip. More than that, the community has earned the support of the utilities, even if the legislature has to be the one to hold Talon accountable.  It’s long past the time of leaving small town Montana high and dry when companies pull the shades on the head office and sneak out of town in the dark of night with groups like MEIC driving the getaway car.


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