Faux town hall


My wife came downstairs, wondering why I was yelling and cursing at my iPhone. It was Senator Daines on the other end holding one of his “tele-town hall” meetings. It’s focus was Montana fires. He couldn’t hear my rants but they were somewhat cathartic.

Calling it a town hall meeting would be a lie. There were no towns or halls involved. It was a choreographed phone-in Q and A with prescreened questions and canned answers.

You probably didn’t know this but the wildfires plaguing the West are caused by “activist judges” and “radical environmentalists.” That’s according to renowned fire ecologist and climate scientist, Steve Daines.

Those two adjectives, activist and radical, came up over-and-over again — no mention of the role of fire in forest ecosystems, of prescribed burns, of reforestation or Forest Service best practices — and definitely no discussion of climate change.

One deferential woman from Bozeman was able slip climate change into her question.

“We won’t have a debate on climate change tonight,” the Senator responded.

That was it.

All the other callers were toeing the line: we need more logging, fewer regulations and less litigation.

There is some real science Daines ignores. Two UM forest ecologists responded to a recent Daines’ guest column: Andrew Larson here and Philip Higuera here. Both talk about healthy forest ecosystems.

I was in the queue to ask a question but never got the chance. Had I given a bogus name, not mentioned Missoula as my hometown and posed a phony question to the woman screening the calls, I might have had a chance.

In real town hall meetings, lying isn’t a prerequisite to asking a question.



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About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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I work swing, so never get to go to his ersatz town halls. I find his idea of representing Montanans to be far beyond reprehensible. I am keeping all of his useless emails, and a list of his unrepresentation-arming for 2020

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