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A Much Better Look at the Montana Meth Project—And Real Disappointment about Mike McGrath

Kudos to Gazette reporter Ed Kemmick for an excellent set of stories about the Montana Meth Project in the Billings Gazette today.

In the stories, Kemmick does what should have been done in the past few years: critically examine the results of the Montana Meth Project, listening to and writing about the perspectives of both those who believe the Project is working and those who are skeptical.

I urge readers who have only heard one side of the debate to read the two pieces.

A couple of political notes rose from the piece as well.

I’m thankful that Montanans had the good sense to re-elect Governor Schweitzer this fall, because his pragmatic approach to state budgeting was clearly demonstrated in his decision to reduce state funding for the MMP:

"I’m a scientist, and I understand statistics and I understand studies," he said. Erceg-Hurn examined the Meth Project’s own reports and saw that "they weren’t laying their own data out," Schweitzer said, and it should have responded to his findings.

"I saw some quotes from Montana Meth Project people saying, ‘he doesn’t know what he’s talking about because he’s not from Montana.’ That was disappointing," Schweitzer added.

Contrasting Schweitzer’s approach with that of Mike McGrath illustrates the difference between a political figure driven by results and one driven by perception.

I always had a relatively positive impression about Mike McGrath while he served as County Attorney and Attorney General, despite some discomfort about the Barry Beach case, but it’s hard to feel terribly reassured when the state’s former Attorney General and current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court uses reasoning like this:

McGrath, who is still on the Montana Meth Project board, said he didn’t read Erceg-Hurn’s study. "I didn’t really feel I needed to," he said, calling Erceg-Hurn "just a guy from Australia."

That’s just incredibly disappointing.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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