Montana Politics

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Mountain Water settles with PSC

The $150,000 settlement is about what the lawyers billed their client for meals. That being said, Mountain Water agreed to the PSC’s terms, which included keeping a $1.1 million rate reduction in place. The $150,000 slap on the wrist was for the unauthorized sale and transfer of Mountain Water to Algonquin Power/Liberty Utilities from the international private equity firm, the Carlyle Group.

As litigious as Mountain Water seems to be, it was rather passive in this confrontation. With its big case pending before the Montana Supreme Court (whether Missoula’s condemnation of the utility was legal) perhaps it decided to cut its loses. It could also be that the PSC was right in its authority to regulate the sale and also require a rate reduction. Or it could be all of the above.

We appreciate the rate reduction.

And thank you, Missoula Current, for staying on top of this story.

Please pay attention to this race

The Montana Supreme Court is the last bastion against bad laws. It keeps the legislative and executive branch in check. It has ruled on everything from education, election and environmental issues to water, gay and criminal rights. To date, it has done so responsibly, for the most part. Let’s keep it that way.

The only contested election for the three open seats is between Kristen Juras and Dirk Sandefur. I’ve linked their names to their bios. Please take a look. Sandefur certainly seems the most qualified, being a three-term district judge and all. And I wrote about Juras back in 2009, when she was trying to censor the Kaimin, UM’s student newspaper. So, I have my biases.

An opinion piece in the Great falls Tribune sums up the race better than I can, though:

Though the race is supposed to be non-partisan, Juras’s backers are a who’s who in Republicanism. The Montana Gas and Oil PAC, the national GOP and the state GOP all hosted a fund-raiser for her recently. Sandefur’s backers seem more across the board, with contributions coming from 902 Montanans in 55 communities, with 136 identifying themselves as Republicans and 124 as Democrats …

…  One can not overestimate the importance of electing a person of Sandefur’s standing who, according to Dave Taylor, chairman of Montana Conservation Voters, “believes in the rule of law, evidenced by the way he approaches his work and decisions,” as opposed to the danger of electing extremist candidates such as Juras to this all-important Supreme Court seat.

We have to wonder how Juras beat Sandefur in the primary, by nearly ten points. We can not allow this to happen in the general.

Public lands: which Republican to believe?

Montana GOP Chair Jeff Essmann says the transfer of public lands to the state will never happen. Vice Chair Jennifer Fielder says she’s all for it.

Fielder is also CEO of the American Lands Council, the organization pushing for the transfer.

Fielder balks at the suggestion that taking control of 25 million federal acres would put Montana in the poorhouse. Developing tourism as well as natural resources would cover the cost, she said.

I find it difficult to believe you can open up public lands to natural resource development while promoting tourism on those same lands.

The Billings Gazette and other Lee papers have the story. Reporter Tom Lutey writes about how important the public lands are to most Montanans. It could be one of the bigger topics in Montana’s statewide races. Democrats appear better poised to take advantage of the issue as the Republican Party is speaking out of both sides of its mouth.

UPDATE: It’s official. At the national level, the Republican Party puts the sale of public lands into its platform. From that radical leftist publication, Outdoor Life:







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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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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