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Montana Politics Quick Hits

I haven’t actually retired from writing on this site, but the combination of exhaustion stemming from AP test preparation and the lingering sour smell in Helena from the Legislature seemed to warrant a little break. A couple of stories in the news the past few days presented the opportunity to jump back into the fray.

The Worst Governor and Speaker of the House in Montana History Don’t Like Governor Schweitzer!

“I don’t even want my name in the same sentence with this guy,” said Martz. “The guy is so untruthful.”

House Speaker Mike Milburn, who though he had a budget deal with the governor, said the “pompous display” is too much.

“The feedback I received from people on the streets, in church, and elsewhere, from Democrats and Republicans, is that the governor’s theater and chasing the spotlight has lost its luster,” Milburn said.

It’s hard to know where to start in these quotes from a piece by Matt Gouras. Judy Martz, who covered up a homicide and who allowed her office to be used for fundraising as part of “regular daily business” is attacking Governor Schweitzer for his lack of honesty. I can understand Martz’s bitterness; if I were her, I certainly wouldn’t want people to compare me to a successful, popular governor, either. As much as Montanans enjoyed getting a preview of Bush-level incompetence and unpopularity before 2000, former Governor Martz should probably stick to talking about speed skating and garbage, the only two things she seems to know about.

If Mr. Milburn honestly left this session feeling like the Montana public was more upset at Governor Schweitzer than the Legislature, he needs to get out more and read some newspapers.

As for me, Schweitzer for Senate in 2014 sounds pretty good.

Dennis Rehberg Doesn’t Know How He’d Vote On Another Critical Issue!

There’s a bigger story about today’s false equivalency between Rehberg’s support of Big Oil and Tester’s support for small, rural banks and credit unions, but I have to say that the most telling part was that, once again, Representative Rehberg has no idea how he would vote on major legislation affecting thousands of Montanans. When asked for his position on delaying implementation of the swipe fee limit, Rehberg boldly led:

U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., who’s challenging Tester for Senate in 2012, says he hasn’t taken a position on the issue.

If I had dollar for every time Rehberg didn’t know how he would vote or what his position was on a critical issue, I could probably buy myself a huge subdivided former ranch.

I can only hope that one day the Montana media will hold Representative Rehberg accountable for what is quite clearly craven politics or pure ignorance. Odds are that won’t ever happen.

The Republican PSC Continues to Demonstrate Its Focus on Critical Issues

In a truly delightful third person piece, Former Chair Bill Gallagher and PSC member Brad Molnar offered a restrained, rational critique of Travis Kavulla, the current chair in the Laurel Outlook:

In a five-member commission, any three members can change the leadership at any time. There is no need to create offenses and pronounce guilt to acquire a title. The demagoguery, creation of falsehoods and character assassination used to accomplish this event were unnecessary, grossly unfair, and makes the acquired titles meaningless and without trust.

Why should you care? In general, because it will cost you money and harms our fragile economy. Investors and lenders shy away from controversy and uncertainty.

A 27-year-old staging two political coups in four months and enfranchising Democrat minority views that were soundly defeated by Republican voters in the last election, matches the definitions of controversy. That drives up interests rates and those appear in your utility bill. Those unnecessary costs are bad for families – bad for employers – bad for Montana.

Montanans are weary of back-stabbing and innuendo used to promote political ideals or candidates, let alone advance personal, political and power agendas. When does it end? Only when the press holds responsible those who think our government is their earned playground and we are but their personal stepping-stones and ATM machines.

I wonder if Montanans might not want to re-think their PSC votes now.

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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