This will probably be the last post of the month. There’s a good chance I’ll post less in May. I’m not expecting a lot of news to give you opinions on.
Still, I’ve said similar before and have ended up writing, so if you like this site, keep checking back.
Now, let’s cover a few bits and loose ends and smaller stories.
Here are some winners from the session:
- Ed Buttrey: This guy had the main Medicaid expansion bill, and Democrats and some Republicans supported it and it got passed. It’s a win, but during primary season, Buttrey might feel it as a loss, especially if out-of-state firms and the in-state operatives that hired them take out attack ads against Buttrey when he’s next up.
- Mike Hopkins: We haven’t had an infrastructure bonding bill get through the legislature in 4 sessions, which goes back to 2013. Hopkins got it done and the bill made a lot of people happy. It also made some mad, and I’m sure Hopkins will face some challenges from the whacko wing of his party.
- Jon Sesso: I’m not sure of the legislative accomplishments that Sesso had this session, but a lot of people on social media congratulated him for his years of service. He is one of many legislators that will not be coming back again.
I’m still waiting on Flathead Memo’s session wrap-up. I don’t know if Montana Free Press has one yet, but it’d probably be worth a read. Capitol Talk was quite good this week on MTPR.
If you want a more partisan kind of post-session analysis, Montana Post is probably the place to go.
They have four posts up talking about post-session results, rumors and other stuff.
The best of the bunch is Pete Talbot’s analysis. He keeps it short and spaces it out well, which is how internet users like it. Jason Manning should take note.
I can tell that Pete’s a little frustrated by how things went, and that he wants more progressive items getting to the governor.
That isn’t likely to happen after the 2020 elections. Republicans will likely take the governor’s office and both chambers of the legislature, and Democrats will be in a real pinch.
Many suspect Democrats in Montana will sit most of the 2020s out, though too much stuff could happen nationally for that to take place.
Talbot knows this 'sitting out' is a possibility, and that’s why he says of Republicans that, “It is imperative their party become the minority in the legislature. That, and a Democrat remain in the governor’s seat. Otherwise, what sort of state will we be handing our children and grandchildren?”
Well, not the kind of state that progressive Democrats want, that’s for sure.
I don’t think Democrats in Montana have a very good plan to keep the governor’s office, and I suspect they already know the legislature is lost to them for years, despite what their MDLCC is doing or how much money they’re raising.
If I had to bet, I’d say that Montana Dems in 2020 will focus on their base in the cities while making rural outreach missions to the Indian reservations. Then on election night they’ll wonder why they’re losing.
If you’d like more stories about progressives in Montana, here are a few:
The Riverbank Run
The YMCA had it’s 47th annual Riverbank Run races on Saturday in Missoula.
This race doesn’t get a lot of attention - fewer than 1,000 ran the 5K, though similar numbers run the Governor’s Cup race in Helena each June.
I was kind of surprised that Governor Bullock didn’t run it, considering he was in Missoula yesterday.
I saw him running the 5K in Helena last year. He’s in good enough shape that he was able to have a several-minute conversation with another runner while people around him were panting.
Thankfully the weather cooperated and the race went well. I came 39th overall and 4th in my age group, with a time of 25:32. That’s my best race ever. Quitting cigarettes back in November probably helped with that.
Boy, my legs are sure feeling it, though!
I’m going to make glass recycling a big issue in my city council campaign.
I think a lot of Missoulians support this idea, and would like to see tax dollars spent on it.
Currently in America we go through 10 million metric tons of glass each year, and only 33% of that is recycled.
We can do better. In Europe, many countries recycle 90% of their glass. And unlike plastic, glass is 100% recyclable and can be melted and reused unlimited times.
So why is America so far behind? An engineer in Chicago studied the problem for a year and figured that “the recycling rate discrepancies between the US and other countries result mainly from differences in government policy and consumer education and habits.”
All of Montana’s cities could use help with this. Right now we know that glass from Billing is being sent to a recycling center in Park City, Utah...which is 530 miles away.
That city in Utah has a $12 a month curbside pickup plan for glass, and it seems to be working.
I also told you about Monument Recycling in Colorado, which was built for $11 million and can recycle 80,000 tons a year. When that company began operating in Utah in 2017, the state’s recycling rate went from 5% to 15%.
The tiny town of Swink, Colorado, converted an old sugar factory into a recycling center that now serves three communities, It operates as a nonprofit and could serve as a model for Missoula.
Mostly, I think this is possible for Missoula. If we can spend $4 million to build a pedestrian bridge and $7 million to the mall owners, we can afford to build a glass recycling plant.
If we say it’s blight, we could even use TIF money for it.
Mostly, if the discussion gets started in Missoula it could latch on and people might support it. We see that happening with plastic bags now.
Dick Back in Favor in Helena
MT COPP has registered two 2020 ballot initiative groups.
One is Coalition 406 out of Helena, something former Dem exec. director Ted Dick is running. The other is Montanans for Sensible Drug Policy, a marijuana legalization effort out of Bozeman.
I wish I knew more on what Coalition 406 is, and what they’re up to. I’m also intrigued that Ted Dick is running the operation, or at least serving as the group’s treasurer.
Well, I’m not anymore - a couple days after writing this I saw Eric Whitney of Montana Public Radio send out a tweet identifying Coalition 406’s new website.
As you can see, it too is trying to legalize marijuana. I even got an email asking for money to help with that.
Wow...Montana Dems have come a long way since Dick was in charge. I doubt he would have supported this a decade ago.
Some might remember that he served as executive director of the Montana Democratic Party from 2010 to 2013.
It makes sense that Ted Dick is back from his stint as political director of SEIU in Iowa.
He’s close to Tester and Lindeen. In 2013 he left his position as executive director of the Montana Democratic Party to go work for Lindeen as director of government and state relations, though some speculated that he might have been fired by Jim Elliott, who was serving as the Chairman of the Montana Democratic Party at the time.
Confused? I’m sure most were then and still are now...if they even heard of the alleged spat in the first place.
Anyways, now that Lindeen is executive director of the Party, it seems that Dick is back in favor in Helena while Elliott is still living out his retirement in Trout Creek.
My how times change.
I’ll keep you posted if I hear anymore on what these folks are up to. Currently they’re raising as much money as they can, both to pay Dick’s salary as well as the $14-16 an hour they’ll pay to the signature gatherers that probably start appearing this summer.
If Dick wants some ideas to go along with that money, I’d encourage him to look at the efforts of the marijuana signature gatherers in 2016:
- 14 Awesome Events to Gather Signatures for the Marijuana Legalization Initiatives in Montana
- Gathering Signatures at the Missoula Anti-Hate Rally
- The Fundamental Flaw with the Montana Marijuana Movement
- What’s Next for the Montana Marijuana Movement?
Missoulians have been writing some good letters to the editor lately.
Here’s one that caught my eye today:
“General Electric made a profit of $27.5 billion and paid no taxes but got a refund of $3.1 billion. What a great deal."
The writer goes on to say this:
“Before he was elected, President Trump said he would eliminate the $19.9 trillion national debt, but he has already added over a trillion dollars to the national debt. Plus he cut many of the programs that benefit education, the middle class and the working poor.”
If Democrats can’t figure out how to beat Trump next year, it’s their own fault. It’s clear he’s not helping working Americans at all. The thing is, neither are Democrats. That’s why Trump won in the first place.
Another wonderful letter came out last week and talked about gentrification. It starts off like this:
“It was very appalling to read recent articles about the continued gentrification of Montana and Missoula by out-of-staters in the housing market. Yet Democrats’ response for the umpteenth time is again to “study” the issue. Is hiring more well-paid bureaucrats with huge benefit packages really the only possible answer to the crisis Montanans are facing trying to just put roofs over their heads?”
Then it goes on to say:
“I’m sure for Californians fleeing huge tax burdens, Montana’s homes, land and colleges are a great deal. But for the struggling poor and working classes, it appears we’ve been abandoned by our leaders for the deep pockets of the rich. This is your legacy, Baby Boomers.”
Finally, there’s the letter I wrote today:
“Our local government is out of control. It's unable to fulfill even the most basic of its duties, like picking up leaves, plowing our streets and fixing potholes.
Our police force is suffering as well, mostly from burnout. This is a big reason we're 10 officers short, and at a time when we have a monumental drug crisis in our town.”
It’s pretty much the same thing I said in my post on homelessness last week, and I’m sure I’ll get a response.
In fact, an hour or two after the letter went up, the Missoulian got a call from a woman that wanted my number so she could get ahold of me and tell me her thoughts.
I called the woman back, and we had a good, twenty minute talk about lots of issues. She was happy I wrote the letter, as she feels we do have lots of problems in Missoula.
If we’re lucky, we’ll have a spirited City Council race this year that’ll have lots of people talking about the issues.
Melissa Romano for OPI
Romano is running for Office of Public Instruction again.
This is smart - she came in second in total number of Democratic votes in 2016:
- Bullock: 255,000
- Romano: 237,000
- Laslovich: 224,000
- Juneau: 205,000
- Lindeen: 204,000
- Jent: 158,000
Currently she doesn’t have a candidate website, but she still has her Facebook candidate page.
It was inactive for a year until she put up a new post on April 20. Six days later, COPP filed her C1, which is the form you use if you want to start raising money for an election before filing for that election starts.
C1’s have another purpose, however - signaling to other, would-be candidates that you’re serious about this race, so back off.
Romano likely learned a lot from her 2016 loss. 2020 could be her year.