Best of the Montana Blogs, 2017

I’d like to say that this has been an annual feature at the blog, but the annual list of some of the best posts written on Montana blogs has largely depended on whether I am traveling over the holidays. Since I’m not this year—and because there has been some excellent work at Montana blogs this year—I thought I’d highlight some of the posts I found more interesting and useful this year. For this post, we left out some of the great work from professional organizations and the media unless they were posted on personal blogs. We’ll get to those professional outlets in another post.

If we missed something obvious, drop us a note here or on the Facebook page and we’ll make note of it.

In no particular order, our favorite 17 posts from other blogs writing in Montana in 2017.

Sex, Drugs And Hypocrisy: A Story Of A City Council by Alexis Bonogofsky at East of Billings

But this story is coming to a close boys and girls. In the end, seven out of the eleven council members determined it was in the best interest of the community not to allow medical marijuana shops within the city limits. And we were all saved, oops, I mean the people of this imaginary city were all saved from a smell of marijuana and most importantly, the horrendous impacts of people feeling better by smoking or eating pot if they have cancer or another disease.

Jeff was pleased. He could now focus all of his efforts on making people scared of transgender people. Don’t thank him though, he’s just doing his moral duty to the citizens of this state.

A Perfect Storm by Senator Dick Barrett at BarrettforSD47

In the end, of course, all this Republican nonsense about a “spending problem” is intended to rid them of any responsibility for going back to Helena and working on a reasonable solution to the current budget crisis. As they see it, if the problem is spending, the solution is cuts. And if it’s cuts we need, well then the governor has the power to make them and ought to get on with the job. All he has to do is fire some of those useless, unneeded state government employees, never mind the fact that the number of state employee positions funded has fallen since 2011

Even After Hot Mic Snafu, Psc Regulates Solar Out Of Business by Dan Brooks at Combat!

I applaud this bold act of regulatory capture and welcome the PSC to our long war against the sun. My only concern is that it will come up again somehow. Still, I praise Lake and his colleagues for sheer brazenness. Montana ratepayers could have no stauncher ally in the fight against cheap electricity from dubious sources.

An Open Letter To The Nation by Katie Mazurek at Katie Over Cancer

This is a place full of individuals who are inherently good, decent people. It’s a place where we’ve found our values and committed to preserving them. We work the land here, passing down the lessons of how to raise animals and cultivate crops through generations. We hunt and fish with integrity. The meat harvested from animals sustains families who have a gratitude for the circle of life in our great state. We have incredible public schools, colleges and universities where some of the most dedicated teachers care for and educate our youth. We encourage and support small businesses here that are patronized by our friends and neighbors and communities.

Billionaire Gianforte Can’t Be Bought? More Like: He Buys People by Josh Manning at Montana Cowgirl Blog

So if you intend to put a check next to his name in late May think about that. Think about all the special interests putting their hopes and desires behind one of them. Gianforte lost by four points in a GOP turnout election, let’s see what happens when he runs in a Resistance turnout election like what we saw in Kansas on Tuesday. Montanans can him send back to his private hideout for eternity.

Will Gianforte’s Story Be One Of Sin And Redemption, Or Just Of Sin? by James Conner at Flathead Memo

Whether Gianforte can rehabilitate himself and his political career depends not just on convincing Montanans that he knows he did wrong, and that he’s genuinely remorseful for his conduct, but on proving through his actions that his trial by fire has made him a better man and occupant of elective office. That will take time and conscious effort, and a genuine change of heart akin to a religious conversion.

Stapleton Rides Voter Fraud To Glory by Logicosity

Corey may be seeking to emulate Kris Kobach, the vice-chair of The Donald’s voter fraud outfit and former secretary of state in Kansas. Kobach secured significant prosecutorial powers from the Kansas legislature to ferret out voter fraud. While the results have been laughable, the rhetoric has nonetheless had a distinctly negative impact on voter registration and voting.

The Greatest Story Ever Told – The Saga Of SB 305 at Montana Cowgirl Blog

And again we see it in the 2017 legislative session as Republicans look to play politics with Montana taxpayer dollars. This time the issue is simple. The special election will be an unexpected cost to Montana counties so to alleviate costs to the state and counties an all mail-in ballot election was proposed. Everyone liked the idea. A $750,000 savings is not a small amount of money and everyone agreed, that is until the Essman Letter.

#STOPHB609 by D Gregory Smith

Please see this not as a safety issue- because it isn’t, but as a civil rights issue- which it is. This is not about “choosing” gender- we are born knowing our gender, it’s in our heads, not necessarily in our bodies. I have worked with hundreds of transgender persons in my career and I would like to help you understand that this is not about “switching” genders. It’s about being faithful to the person your brain tells you that you are. And many do so with a great deal of physical pain and discomfort- and with a great deal of emotional pain and social stigma.

The Wednesday Read: Devos, Daines & Warren, & Nutjob Bills by Jackie Brown at the Western Word

Ironically, Daines was the 50th “Yes” vote for DeVos which led me to guess that he might have been checking his campaign bank account to see how many more millions in donations had been received from the DeVos family before he headed in to cast his vote. Right afterward, the press releases were rolled out from Daines, Tester, and the Montana Democrats. In his press release, Daines used some quotes from Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen who I think said something about wanting DeVos to come to Montana to attend a school carnival fundraiser at a school where Arntzen was once a principal. (Just kiddin about that quote).

Demystifying Missoula’s Reserve Street Homeless Camp Clean-Up by William Skink at Reptile Dysfunction

A big part of that broken system is a lack of access to treatment for addiction. The camps around Reserve are not sober camps and that is one big reason why people choose to live out there, without the constraint of sobriety the shelter requires. Take that tearful picture the Missoulian splashed big to get an emotional response from its readers. If you look close you can see a glass pipe gripped in the woman’s hand. That’s my clue there are unstated motivations for this particular couple to be taking up residence at the homeless camps.

Montana Climate Assessment Says Dramatic Changes Are Coming; We Need To Be In Action by David Katz at Preserve the Beartooth Front

And unless we take action, it’s going to be much worse. Look at the temperature maps above — if we do nothing, we’re looking at temperature increases approaching 10°F. That means we’ve got to take dramatic action to reduce carbon emissions: convert the energy sector from fossil fuels to renewables as quickly as possible, shift the transportation sector from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles. It means we’ve got to stop subsidizing the oil industry and put a price on carbon to drive innovation.

Trump Will Sign A Healthcare Repeal Bill That Combines The Worst Of The Gop’s House And Senate Bills by James Conner at Flathead Memo

If you’re poor, or belong to the middle class, your life depends on your not getting sick. Do not expect help from your fellow Americans. They’re sick and tired of your weaknesses, of your feckless expectation that the government, that the New Deal and Great Society, will rescue you from the troubles you’ve brought upon yourself. They’re freeing you to stand on your own two feet, which they’re convinced God intended.

The Pot’s Calling The Kettle Black by The Ghost of Tom Joad at The Ghost of Tom Joad

In 2012 Sales’ wife, Sandra, was prosecuted for embezzlement from, in case you’ve been living in a cave, her elderly mother. Sales claims to not have noticed the additional $20,000 to $45,000 flowing through his household income. An honest oversight no doubt. And then there was his more recent admission of guilt in a case filed against him for his involvement with dark money group Western Tradition Partnership. Don’t think too harshly of him, he did say he regretted being involved…after he was caught.

Gianforte: Just Go Away by Jackie Brown at The Western Word

If he does hold on to win the seat, Gianforte should decline to take the seat. He should not be seated in Congress. It appears that Gianforte is not suited for the hectic and fast-paced life of running for or holding public office. He lacks the temperament to be a Congressman.

How Can a Sitting Judge Run for Political Office? at Montana Cowgirl Blog

But Judge Russell Fagg of Billings seems to think he’s above that. It seems he thinks those robes entitle him to skirt the ethical concerns that are designed to befoul judges trying to use the bench as a soapbox for political office turned.

Schooled by a Schoolgirl by Senator Dick Barrett at BarrettforSD47

Sen. Nels Swandal, a former district court judge, had a question for Isabelle. To start with, he didn’t remember her name, so he asked for the “young lady in pink” to come to the microphone. And then he asked her, tendentiously, why she thought government should require citizens to do something that’s in their own best interests. He didn’t insist or expect her to answer the question, in essence instructing her to run along and think about it some more. It was a gratuitous performance and a violation of the unwritten rules of decorum legislators are supposed to follow in dealing with the public.

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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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