Montana Politics The Media

Quick Hits: Rehberg Budget, Dustin Hurst, Jesus

1. Dennis Rehberg finally did release his labor, health and education spending bill from his Appropriations subcommittee–the last one released this year. It’s so late that it won’t receive discussion on the House floor.A couple of positives did emerge:  we should probably thank the Tester campaign for forcing Rehberg to fund community health centers, Pell Grants, and Head Start, though none of those would receive inflationary increases under the Rehberg proposal.

Otherwise, the proposed budget is a political and social disaster. Democrats won’t support it; TEA Party allies think it doesn’t cut enough, and Rehberg added a dozen riders to the bill without consulting with the rest of the committee.

It would cut over $2 billion from Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, as well “programs that improve our schools and combat child abuse, substance abuse, elder abuse, mental health issues, teen pregnancy and domestic violence,” according to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro.

2. I wrote a lengthy piece last night about the absurdity of the Missoulian devoting another 1,000 words to the Dennis Rehberg Jesus circus sideshow, but the one sure thing I’ve learned about blogging is that media criticism doesn’t accomplish anything. Suffice it to say that while newspapers are certainly correct to argue that new advertising paradigms do threaten their business model, they probably shouldn’t overlook the quality of their product and mission of their institutions. Mr. Scott, the author of at least five pieces on the Whitefish Jesus, is an excellent writer. Would it be too much to ask that he use that skill on something other than the politically manufactured controversy of “cerulean-blue epoxy Big Mountain Jesus”?

3. On the subject of media, Montana readers were treated to another example of Dustin Hurst’s complete disregard for the basic principle of journalism that news stories should cover factual events, not provide a platform for uninformed supposition. His latest piece about Jon Tester offers a number of assertions about health care that lack factual backing and defy logic. When did news reporting become parroting the parts of an AP story you like and then making up the rest?

4. Montana bloggers Gregg Smith and Dave Budge have launched the Montana Regulation Project, dedicating to “yank[ing] regulation back by the scruff of its neck for the benefit of citizens.” While I’m disinclined to believe that regulations are stifling the Montana economy, I’ll certainly follow their work, for no other reason than the fact that I have been asking conservatives for years to specifically identify the kind of regulations that Rick Hill keeps pretending are responsible for every economic ill the state faces.

5. While I certainly understand the impact cancer can have on family members, I’m entirely at a loss to understand Denny Rehberg’s bizarre response to Jon Tester’s hard-hitting ad about community health centers? Are we to believe that the mother of the 14th richest member of Congress needed government assistance at a community health center for her care?  Are we to assume that Rehberg couldn’t find anyone else willing to go on camera to defend him? It’s little wonder that national Republicans are concerned about the race the Rehberg team is running.

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.


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  • Watching you little confab with Hurst on twitter today, Proves your Point.

    1. He doesn’t like being called out. and asked to prove his point. Rather, he asks you a blogger to prove his. A real journalist can summon up his proof that that he had taken Reberg to task in less then 150characters. Why hasn’t he asked Rehberg to show proof he is for veterans, or Women cancer survivors. Or that he didn’t have a hand in trying to stop Miners from seeking medical help, because Black lung is on the rise again? We all know Rehberg doesn’t care. For god sake you would think Hurst would realize thats news for Montanans trying to make a decisions on who is better for the People population of this state( not corporations).

    GOP seeks to kill black lung reform:

    2. Anyone who fill out the proper pass applications can be obtain a press Pass. I did it for years, as a freelance photographer of celebrities for Ross Martin tennis tournaments …for years, It didn’t mean I was in the press. Ive gotten a lot of places most people don’t get to go by filling out those forms.

    But what Hurst did at that one Tester fundraiser, was try to buy himself in as a regular person with the intent of ambush Journalism. Real Reporters who do their jobs in a non partisan matter tell both sides, they work for accredited News Organizations who put their Finance reports in the public’s view. I can see by his twitter comments today, he couldn’t back up his non partisan bonafides with even press passes to Democratic events that mattered, cuz he was trying to sneak in.

    3. We know of at least 2 places he’s worked for that was Koch money backed. And the Koches are not in the Newspaper business, they are in the Citizens United business of being in an Organization who does not disclose their sponsors.

    The guys a Hack, and that’s too bad. He has a nice writing style when he occasionally stops worrying about how much more money Tester is raking in to Rehberg.

    I thought the guy would try to change, and be a real reporter after his Washington incident, he said he would at MT Cowgirls website. … but he lying again to his new state, Montana!

  • Don, I’ll try and take a crack at your inquiry about the regulatory environment.

    If a new business is to open in Great Falls (other cities are similar, but not identical), that business must obtain a building permit. This requires compliance with various building and mechanical codes. Often these are fine, but they often include absurd requirements. For example, a client of mine had to tear up 1,500′ of water service to his remodeled building, and replace 1 1/2″ line with 2″ inch line. There had never been trouble with water service before, and this cost thousands of dollars. “Has to meet code…”

    When a new business intends to open, or an existing business intends to move, of course there are zoning requirements that dictate where that business can and cannot operate. Of course, there is also the sign code that dictates the amount and location of the business’s on-site ability to ‘advertise’ itself. There are parking requirements. There is design review, whereby a bunch of individuals who have no interest in the land look over the plans and tell the owner where the trees should go, and what kind he should plant. There is the lighting review, and of course don’t forget the landscaping requirements (which are often, if not usually, at odds with the parking requirements). Of course, if the land is in the floodplain overlay district, or the airport overlay district or the neighborhood conservation overlay district, there is another level of review.

    Well, I think that finishes the CITY requirements.

    Of course, when he gets open, he gets to deal with the state and federal reporting requirements for his employees. I pay about $300.00 a month for my payroll and other reporting, and we have TWO EMPLOYEES. I laugh every quarter when my bookkeeper brings in the forms for me to sign, and sign, and sign…and sign…and sign…well, you get the point. I can hardly wait for the Affordable Care Act.

    That’s just the tip of the iceberg that I can think off the top of my head. Of course, you might justify each and every one of those requirements but please, please do not suggest that we are UNDER-regulated.

    • Geez, life is tough all over I guess! Sorry, Gregg, but it’s kinda NICE to have orderly development! Want a nice trailer park next to your residence?? The deal is that we ALL have to abide by codes. That’s just the way it is. And that’s fair. We don’t ALL see the beauty of gaudy ad signs.

    • I would use the term poorly regulated not under regulated. In fact, I would argue the same thing about laws. Yes, there are lots of regulations but many of them are outdated or plain contradictory. There are other areas where the regulations are vague or completely missing.

      I would point out the flap you guys had in Great Falls with the adult store. This is a perfect example of inconsistant regulation enforcement and vague regulations being taken advantage of.

      As with most things today, common sense does not exist. If you write less complicated regulations, someone will take advantage of it. If you write more complicated regulations people bitch about being “over-regulated” and you often end up with unenforcable regulations. Where is the happy medium? Sadly, this won’t be determined by common sense or even common people. It will be determined by who has the money.

    • “replace 1 1/2? line with 2? inch line.”

      Of course the cross sectional area of the pipe, which is important, is 1.77” for a 1.5 inch line and it is 3.14” for a 2 inch line. (pi*r^2 and all that). So, your client was installing pipe with double the capacity of what he or she had previously. I’m not an engineer, but in many cases that would be a hugely significant difference.

      More importantly, most of these regulations are pushed for or defended by businesses themselves. Parking and sign size are particularly difficult to self-regulate, because both available parking (even in supposedly private lots) and the public’s attention are common resources, so regulations generally mean businesses have to provide a minimum amount to the pool of parking as well as keep their signs of reasonable size.

      Obviously there need to be smarter regulations in some instances, and the purposes of them also need to be determined, but I fail to see how Rick Hill is going to accomplish that. Indeed, since the most onerous regulations you talk about are implemented at the city level, it would require a huge State gov’t overreach for the governor to have any real impact on them.

  • Ah, but there’s the rub, isn’t it, Larry? What you say is gaudy, I say is good. What I say is obstructive, you say is orderly.

    But that’s not the point. I am not saying (at least in this post) that there should be NO regulation…just that there’s plenty already.

  • “I would point out the flap you guys had in Great Falls with the adult store. This is a perfect example of inconsistant regulation enforcement and vague regulations being taken advantage of.”

    Moorcat, great point. The more regulations we have, the more power we give to the regulators. I don’t want people picking winners and losers based on subjective ‘policies’ or ‘interpretations.’ It happens all the time. It’s a function of the regulations…people being people and all…

  • Don, do you remember George McGovern’s awakening:

    Former Senator (and 1972 Democratic Presidential nominee) George McGovern of South Dakota (whom I once met, while touring the Winterthur Museum in Delaware back in the mid 1980s), had an eye-opening experience after he lost his 1980 bid for re-election. Uninterested in an idle retirement, in 1988 he bought, renovated and began managing a hotel in Connecticut, and was shocked at how onerous, costly and downright wrongheaded were so many of the federal, state and local regulations to which he had to adhere.

    A tireless proponent of big government and heavy business regulation while in the Senate, McGovern admitted that this was a chastening experience. By 1990, the hotel was bankrupt, and closed in 1991. McGovern attributed its failure not just to the recessionary economy of that period, but also to all those regulations, as well as to frivolous litigants. He wrote several op-ed pieces in which he lamented not having had firsthand business experience prior to taking office, and thus little appreciation for the real world impact of many measures that he supported as a legislator.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, 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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