A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

Flathead Memo index page for 1–15 October 2016


15 October 2016

Flathead Memo did not post anything on 15 October 2016


14 October 2016

MT SecST McCulloch makes rare partisan misstep
with release of Corey Stapleton's voting records

Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch wanted to help fellow Democrat Monica Lindeen, who is locked in a tight election with Republican Corey Stapleton to become Montana’s next Secretary of State. Therefore, McCulloch, presumably on her own time, examined the publicly available voting records for Stapleton and Lindeen, discovered that Stapleton didn’t vote in several elections, decided to share that information with the voters, and wrote a letter with the dirty details to the editor of the Helena Independent Record.

Stapleton was outraged. He disputes the accuracy of McCulloch’s charges, reports Holly Michels of the Lee Newspapers.

Montana’s voter registration file, which reports whether currently registered voters cast ballots in the elections on record, is available to all Montanans — for a price. Stapleton’s record would be found in the $100 voter file for his legislative district. Presumably, McCulloch plunked down $100 for the information, same as every Joe or Jill Voter would have done.

Voter information is also available from private databases, such as i-360, the progressive oriented Catalist, and L2. These databases include official voter registration records, and much more. Here’s how i-360, used by Montana’s Republicans, describes its data product:

As a first-of-its-kind enterprise, i360 fully integrates and continually updates a database of all 250 million 18+ Americans, including the 190 million who are registered to vote. The information in the i360 database goes beyond voting data and includes hundreds of variables on every individual including survey response data, consumer demographic, lifestyle and behavioral data, census data and precinct level election returns, and more that can be used to determine and reach your targets.

i360’s comprehensive data is a unique combination of hard data points and predictive modeling. Our dataset incorporates extensive political identification, coalition and membership information collected by way of in-person, phone and online surveys, as well as through partner relationships. In addition, this data is enhanced by our team of data scientists who build and refine sophisticated predictive models (microtargeting) that predict how likely voters are to support issues, candidates and how likely they are to take an action, like voting.

Assuming that McCulloch, who has been a competent Secretary of State, didn’t abuse her official position while researching Stapleton’s and Lindeen’s voting history, she was within her rights as a citizen.

But she wasn’t within her right mind.

She did more than take a cheap shot at Stapleton. She cheapened her office by behaving as a political partisan instead of as an impartial professional, and may have undermined the public’s trust in herself, her office, her political party, and in Monica Lindeen, the person she was trying to help.



13 October 2016

Note to readers

 Updated at 11:07:30 MDT.  Flathead Memo is standing down for the rest of today and probably for tomorrow while our staff is on sick leave.

Bob Dylan wins Nobel Prize for literature

Throw these direct action pipeline vandals in the calaboose

They’re young, arrogant, impatient, self-righteous as an ISIS street preacher — and they’re determined to stop oil and gas pipelines by hook, crook, and monkey wrench, instead of by litigation and lawful political organizing. Two days ago, reports Democracy Now, ten of these direct action lost souls were arrested:

…for attempting to shut down all tar sands oil coming into the United States from Canada by manually turning off pipelines in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and Washington state. The group, which calls itself Climate Direct Action, includes five activists and five other supporters and videographers. They posted pictures and videos online that showed them cutting chains and turning the manual safety valves to stop the flow through the pipelines.

Is this nonviolent civil disobedience? Not in my book. It’s intellectually lazy vandalism. Arrest them. Try them. Convict them. Send them to jail for a few nights, then give them a bayonet and a rabbit’s foot and send them to clear land mines in the third world.



12 October 2016

It’s Trump's voters, not Trump, that “moderate” Republicans fear

Donald Trump is a groper, a kiss and tell lout, and a lot of other things that many Americans, especially college educated women, find repellent. He’s also the guy that millions of Republican voters chose as their nominee — and they chose him because they like his screw the establishment, bully boy style.

These are also the voters that down ticket Republicans, among them Ryan Zinke and Greg Gianforte, need to win their elections. Not only do these voters agree with trump, they prize party loyalty. They expect all Republican candidates to get behind all of the party’s nominees, and they will punish Republican politicians who do not.

Democrats should focus not on Trump’s vulgar remarks about women, but on his promise, delivered in the last debate, to use the power of the Presidency to throw Hillary Clinton in prison, to criminalize political differences. That’s how strongmen attempt to establish one-man rule. That, and not locker room crudity, is what disqualifies Trump for the Presidency.


Montana registered voters in 2016 could exceed total for 2012

Regular voter registration in Montana closed yesterday with the total of registered voters at 672,977. Late voter registration begins this morning and concludes at 2000 MST on 8 November. Montana’s Secretary of State updates the totals at the close of business each day.

The final tally of registered voters for the 2012 general election was 681,608. That included 20,003 late registrations, approximately 2.9 percent of the total. In 2008, late registrations accounted for 2.7 percent of all general election registrations.

I calculated the 2008/2012 average late registration fraction for each county and used that number to estimate late registrations for 2016. The total: 19,061, which would bring the totat at the end of 8 November to 692,178, an increase of 10,570 over 2012.

However, Montana’s voting eligible population has increased since 2012. If the proportion of the VEP that’s registered in 2016 is the same as in 2012, the final registration number for the 2016 general election should be 704,212.

Not all counties have more registered voters than in 2012. Flathead and Gallatin Counties, the fastest growing big counties in Montana, have thousands more registered voters. Yellowstone, Missoula, and Cascade Counties have thousands less.

Download Excel spreadsheet with county level detail and Flathead Memo’s late registration estimates. You can also download from Flathead Memo an Excel spreadsheet with turnout, VAP, and VEP, data for 1920–2016. The latter spreadsheet augments the data set available at MT SecST’s website.


PSC candidate Caron Cooper finally files C-5 finance report

Independent Public Service Commission District 3 Caron Cooper today filed — more than a week after it was due — her C-5 campaign finance report for the 23 June through 29 September reporting period.

A formal complaint that Cooper had failed to file the report as required by law was filed on 6 October by Mary Caffero of Helena. Caffero is a Democratic State Senator.

Caffero’s complaint is pending. Cooper may be sanctioned for filing late.

Cooper raised $10,027 during the reporting period, and spent $11,292, leaving her with $253 in the bank.

One expenditure, $1,410 to Markouture, Livingston, MT, was for “Jar openers Parade Toss.” An interesting way of reminding voters that she’s the one to keep the lid on utility expenditures.

Both of her opponents, Democrat Rep. Pat Noonan, and incumbent PSC Commissioner Republican Roger Koopman, filed their C-5s on time.

Noonan reported receipts of $8,139, expenditures of $12,883, and $3,559 in the bank. He’s contributed a bit over $3,000 of his own money to the campaign.

Koopman reported receipts of $16,870, expenditures of $6,733, and $10,137 in the bank.

Noonan and Koopman probably spent heavily during the first week of October.



11 October 2016

Democrats in the Flathead sing the red district blues

Only two of the nine Montana House of Representatives districts wholly or almost wholly (HD-10 is partly in Lake County) in Flathead County — HD-5 in Whitefish (map) and HD-3 in Columbia Falls (map) are represented by Democrats. The other districts are solidly Republican. Indeed, several are so profoundly Republican that Democratic candidate recruitment for them wastes resources.

…read the rest


10 October 2016

The Flathead's Eagle Transit is no substitute for owning a car

I traveled by shank’s mare last week while my automobile was in a repair shop. I walked miles to and from the drug and grocery stores, 3.5 miles from Costco, where my station wagon malfunctioned, and seven miles, five in the rain, to appointments with my physician.

Could I have spared my feet by traveling by bus? Not in any practical sense. I checked out Eagle Transit, the Flathead’s public bus system. The nearest bus stop is a mile from my home. Some of my destinations were not that far from the bus stop. Besides, I’ve never been on a bus that had seat belts. I will not use transportation that is not equipped with seat belts.

Was a taxi a possibility? Of course. But I don’t like the way taxi drivers drive, and I don’t like letting strangers know when my house will not be occupied. Moreover, taxies are expensive. Could I have called Uber? No. The sun never will rise on that day.

That left shank’s mare or my bicycle for getting from here to there. Most motorists hate bicyclists; I find bicycling downtown just too dangerous. Even in inclement weather I enjoy walking, so I’m not complaining about being on foot. But walking, which limits one to carrying what fits in a backpack, is not an efficient means of doing one’s routine shopping. For that, one needs an automobile. Which is why I’m glad I again have a roadworthy station wagon.

Public transportation has but a single virtue. It moves people from point A to point B efficiently.

But it has many vices. Someone else is driving. Buses do not have seat belts. Carrying two bags of groceries is an exasperating experience. Bad smelling people foul small, overheated spaces. People who sit next to you try to strike up a conversation. And public transportation’s sanctimonious advocates never stop trying to make decent people who own cars feel unclean.

That’s why Henry Ford is still one of my heros.



9 October 2016

Flathead Memo rates the Clinton-Trump debate a draw

Trump, sometimes appearing medicated, neither sizzled nor melted down. He got a bit hot under the collar and red in the face, but he didn’t lose control of himself. Hillary was her usual plodding self, reasonably well informed, reasonably assured. Each candidate’s partisans saw what they wanted and expect to see. I doubt many, if any, viewers changed their votes.

Because both Trump and Clinton escaped misfortune, the event was a draw. The “Resign, Donald,” howls will die down. He will stay on the ticket, but some of his worshippers may march with visibly less enthusiasm.

Winter storm could test safety of Two Mile Bridge

No, up to four inches of snow won’t crack the bridge’s beams. But the 3.5 percent grades east and west of the bridge could become icy and slick if not sanded by the Flathead County Maintenance Department.

I walked the bridge Thursday (photos below), spending a few minutes discussing the project with MTDOP engineer Jim Mitchell, who was most helpful. The bridge is fully paved (seal coating comes next year), the concrete sidewalks are poured and cured enough for foot traffic. Various markers and reflectors will be installed this week, then the flagmen will disappear and driving on the road will become routine, although different.

The bypass project is nearing completion. Although I’ve been a skeptic of the project, I’ve followed the construction closely. Insofar as I can determine, best practices have been followed, the workmanship is first rate, and there’s been a minimum of disruption to local traffic.

One plus of the project is the bicycle path along the east side of the bypass. It will be accessible from Two Mile Drive, and I’m looking forward to riding it.

Vandalized panels. As reported in the InterLake, vandals used metal stakes to gouge holes in a sound wall panel on the bypass side. Mitchell said that side of the panels is made from a sound deadening material — essentially foamed concrete — that has to be applied while the panel’s surface is horizontal. Although repairs are in theory possible, they might be so expensive that replacing the panel makes more sense. The panels do block the view from the houses nearby, so perhaps the midnight chiseling brigade intended to open a window in the sound wall.


Finishing the penultimate lifts on the east side of the bridge.


Rollers on a newly deposited lift.


There's a pleasant view from the Two Mile Bridge. I made this panorama standing just west of the bridge. The bypass stretches north to the Three Mile overpass. The bicycle path can be seen to the right of the roadway and offramp on the east. Much larger image.


The music facing Donald Trump

Shel Silverstein must have known in 1975 the Republicans would someday nominate Donald Trump for President. Why else would he have written Put Another Log on the Fire? Tompall Glaser made the song famous, and the Geezinslaw Brothers, performing on Austin City Limits made it, or at least themselves, infamous. But the Muppets and Candice Bergen did the best job of anticipating Mr. Rich White Trash, the dirty old man who wants to cock-a-doodle-doo in the oval office.



8 October 2016

Don’t demand Donald’s apology, Democrats — just vote for Hillary

Donald Trump is a grope and brag dirty old man. No one is surprised. Republicans and Democrats alike are denouncing his vulgar treatment of women, demanding that he apologize (which he did, sort of). Some demand that he resign as the Republican nominee for President, hoping to curry favor with the voters for saying so.

Republicans may sincerely want him to resign, reckoning that a ticket with Mike Pence for President and Sens. Kelly Ayotte or Susan Collins for Vice President just might beat Hillary. They know that with Trump at the top of the ticket, both he and the GOP will get thumped on 8 November.

Democrats who demand that he step aside are lying. They want to look and sound and feel righteous, but the last think they really want is a credible Republican running against Hillary, one of the weakest Democratic candidates in history.

Democrats should suppress their sanctimoniousness and concentrate on getting out the vote. That’s the best way to keep the king of Rich White Trash from becoming President.


Voter registration, missing Cooper C-5, young GOP guns

New voter registrations totaled 3,055 for the first week of October. Twenty-three percent of the new registrations were in Gallatin County, 15 percent in Missoula County, which suggests successful voter registration drives among college-age voters. Montana now has 671,713 registered voters. That’s an increase of 22,949 from the 2016 primary, but still 9,895 fewer than on election day in 2012. Regular voter registration closes at the end of business on Tuesday.

Independent PSC candidate Caron Cooper’s end of September C-5 campaign finance report is still missing from the MTCOPP’s website. I’ve searched for it several different ways, but without success. Her opponents, Democrat Pat Noonan and Republican Roger Koopman, filed their reports on time. It’s possible she filed on time, but the report was lost in the system. As time passes, however, that explanation seems less likely.

Flathead Beacon examines Taylor Rose’s right wing connections. Rose, the Republican nominee for House District 3, which now is represented by Democrat Zac Perry, has a colorful past that was not revealed by his answers to the Beacon’s issue questionnaire for legislative candidates. Scott’s report provides voters with useful information about Rose’s philosophy, accomplishments, and character.

Scott also profiled House District 5 teenage candidate, Republican Chet Billi, who’s running against sixtysomething Democrat David Fern in a district that leans Democratic. Unfortunately, Scott did not report that Billi gave a political speech at a 2nd Amendment rally while costumed in camouflage with a civilian genre assault rifle slung over his shoulder.



7 October 2016

Poll by Zinke’s campaign shows him leading by 11 points

Don’t start celebrating Denise Juneau’s victory over Ryan Zinke. She may be farther behind him than we thought. Yesterday, Juneau’s campaign announced that a Harstad poll found her trailing Zinke by just three points.

Today, reports Politico, Zinke’s campaign released an internal poll that shows him with a lead three times bigger:

An internal poll for GOP Rep. Ryan Zinke, Montana’s at-large member of Congress, shows him leading Democratic challenger Denise Juneau, with 49 percent of the vote to Juneau’s 38 percent, while 3 percent support the Libertarian candidate and 11 percent of voters are undecided. Three other GOP polls conducted for the campaign between June and early October have come back with similar results. The poll was conducted by Moore Information, which surveyed 400 likely voters from Oct. 2-3. The margin of error was plus or minus 5 percentage points.

It’s smart to be wary of internal polls. They’re almost always released only when the information helps the candidate, and often the crosstabs and other data are withheld.

Both polls put Zinke below 50 percent. Juneau can take some encouragement from that. But she can take no encouragement from being down 11 percent in the Moore survey.



6 October 2016

New poll reports Juneau just three points behind Zinke

Democrat Denise Juneau’s campaign announced today that according to a recent poll by Harstad Strategic Research (Boulder, CO), she’s trailing incumbent Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke by just three points, 42–45 percent, with the Libertarian candidate drawing three percent and nine percent undecided. The sample size was 403, and the margin of error, 4.9 percent.

The date or dates of the poll, how the poll was conducted (telephone, robocall, internet, etc.), and whether the sample is of registered or likely voters, were not divulged. Because we don’t know when the poll was conducted, we don’t know whether the Libertarian candidate was the late Mike Fellows or his replacement, Rick Breckenridge.

Although the difference is within the margin of error, the results should not be considered a statistical tie. According to the American Research Group’s Ballot Lead Calculator, the likelihood that Zinke is leading is 73 percent.

Still, Democrats should take cautious encouragement from this poll. If Trump starts tanking big time, and Zinke continues making foolish statements about Juneau, and continues leaving the impression he’s running for Secretary of Defense, or at least Secretary of Seal Team Six, he could find himself on the beach on 9 November. I wouldn’t bet on that outcome just yet, but I wouldn’t be flabbergasted by it.



Kalispell school bond turnout was under 50 percent

Slightly less than half of the registered voters in School District 5 cast ballots in Tuesday’s school bond elections. The table below displays the preliminary vote totals as reported in yesterday’s Daily InterLake (but not on the school district’s website).


Although the turnout was high for a special bond election, it was lower than the 52 percent turnout of registered voters in Flathead County in the 2014 general election, and the county’s 72 percent turnout in the general election of 2012.

Balloting for the 2016 general election begins next week and concludes on the evening of 8 November. The turnout of registered voters in Flathead County probably will be around 70 percent. If the school district had put the bond elections on the general election ballot, it’s highly probable that thousands more bond votes would have been cast, giving the election greater political legitimacy.

Approximately 46 percent of the Flathead’s registered voters live in School District 5.



5 October 2016

Pence won VP debate on style, Kaine won on points

Overall, the debate probably was a draw. The key question is whether any votes were changed. A CNN snap poll reported that viewers said the debate made them “more likely” to vote for Trump, but “more likely” is a vector, not a change of category.

Kaine had the facts, figures, and arguments, to run circles around Pence, and did. But his high pitched, hillbilly voice that was appropriate to a bluegrass festival but not a vice presidential debate negated his superior grasp of the issues, and he interrupted too much. He also completely dodged, to my continued and considerable annoyance, the question on North Korea.

Pence kept his cool, brushing away pesky issues of fact, instead relying on gravitas and the unshakeable avuncular self-confidence that typifies talk radio blowhards. He was counting on debate viewers replacing their self-doubt with his self-confidence. And he was campaigning for the 2020 GOP nomination as much as he was defending Trump.

The moderator tried to keep the men on track. She gets an A for effort, but a C for results. Next time, she should equip herself with, and use, a referee’s whistle and a Taser.


A constitutional ban on a sales tax is a bad idea

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, going for the electoral kill against his Republican challenger, Greg Gianforte, wants to amend Montana’s constitution to ban a sales tax, now, forever, and beyond eternity. Gianforte, whose 406 tax plan does not include a sales tax, once lobbied the legislature for a sales tax.

Whether a sales tax is a good idea is debatable. A sales tax that does not apply to food and medicine might be a way of providing relief on property taxes, but a sales tax that displaces a progressive income tax is regressive and a gift to the wealthy, such as Bozeman millionaire Gianforte.

Contrary to popular opinion, not all Democrats oppose sales taxes. Nor do all Democrats oppose value added taxes. Democrats are skeptical of these taxes, and rightly so, but not all are ideological hardliners on the subject.

A constitutional ban on sales and value added taxes is a bad idea. It robs future generations of a revenue tool they might need. Whether to adopt a tax is best left to the legislature, or to the voters through a statutory ballot issue.

As a matter of politics, Bullock’s proposed constitutional amendment makes sense. As a matter of policy, it does not.


School District 5’s website is not reporting bond vote totals

This morning, the district announced on its website that the elementary and high school bonds were approved by the voters. The vote totals were not announced. Neither was the sizes of the bonds that passed. But the sizes of bonds passed by other communities were reported.

The district’s failure to report the preliminary election returns is inexcusable.

The results of the general election will be reported starting a few minutes after 2000 MST on 8 November. We’ll know the number of registered voters, the number of ballots cast, the number of absentee ballots mail and the number returned, and who received how many votes. That information will be released in real time on the Montana Secretary of State’s website.

If MTSecST can do that for hundreds of elections, School District 5 can do it for two bond elections.

Here’s what must be disclosed:

  1. The number of registered voters in the elementary district.
  2. The number of registered voters in the high school district (a larger number).
  3. The number of elementary ballots mailed, and the number returned.
  4. The number of high school ballots mailed, and the number returned.
  5. The yeas and nays for each election.

Numbers count. So do voters. Educators know how to count. It’s time School District 5’s vote counters started sharing on the district’s website the detailed results of their counting.



4 October 2016

Note to MT candidates on campaign finance reports

I’ve reviewing the C-5s in key contests as they appear on MTCOPP’s website. If a report is late, or contains garbled information, I tend to cut candidates, especially first time candidates, some slack; not much, but some. The system isn’t perfect, and mistakes usually are not intentional.

Tonight’s Vice Presidential debate

If I have access to a computer this evening, I’ll live Tweet, sparingly, the debate between Vice Presidential candidates Mike Pence and Tim Kaine. Pence is extremely conservative, but unlike Donald Trump, he’s a serious student of policy. Tim Kaine is also a serious student of policy. At the debate’s conclusion, many, perhaps most, viewers will be convinced these men, and not Donald and Hillary, should be at the top of their party’s ticket.

National Republicans bankrolled ugly anti-Sandefur ad

The money behind Jake Eaton’s stopsetemfreesandefur.com political action committee comes from the Judicial Fairness Initiative project of the Republican State Leadership Committee, which is headed by former Florida attorney general and congressman Bill McCollum. The RSLC has ties to Bush 43 operative Karl Rove.

stopsetemfreesandefur’s C-6 financial disclosure form, received by Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices on 1 October, reports two contributions from RSLC: (1) a $43,000 inkind contribution for research and polling, and (2) $50,000 in cash. Eaton contributed $50, and Scott Aspenlieder of Laural, MT, chipped in with $35. That allows the PAC to claim some (0.09 percent) of its money comes from Montana.

Slightly more than half of the Eaton PAC’s $21,361 of expenditures went to the Rising Tide Media Group, LLC, in Alexandria, VA, to produce the the ad. Another $2,520 went to Acquire Digital, LLC, in Nashville, TN, for the PAC’s (overpriced) one-page website. The rest went to Strategic Media Services of Arlington, VA, for placing television ads.

As of 26 September, Eaton’s PAC had $28,724 in the bank, which means more mud may be slung at Sandefur.

Mud slinging wins judicial elections

Eaton’s ad essentially accuses Sandefur, a three-term sitting district judge who’s been endorsed by more than four dozen judges, of coddling child molesters. The charge is reminiscent of the scurrilous, and false, accusation that he had helped free a rapist that brought down sitting Wisconsin Supreme Court Judge Louis Butler in 2008:

In answer to a question about his qualifications in an online forum on The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Web site, [Gableman] acknowledged that he had no appellate court experience but said he had argued a case, concerning zoning, before the state Supreme Court.

In the recent election, Judge Gableman’s campaign ran a television advertisement juxtaposing the images of his opponent, Justice Louis B. Butler Jr., in judicial robes, with a photograph of Ruben Lee Mitchell, who had raped an 11-year-old girl. Both the judge and the rapist are black.

“Butler found a loophole,” the advertisement said. “Mitchell went on to molest another child. Can Wisconsin families feel safe with Louis Butler on the Supreme Court?”

Justice Butler had represented Mr. Mitchell as a lawyer 20 years before and had persuaded two appeals courts that his rape trial had been flawed. But the state Supreme Court ruled that the error was harmless, and it did not release the defendant, as the advertisement implied. Instead, Mr. Mitchell served out his full term and only then went on to commit another crime. New York Times.

Electing judges encourages this kind of campaigning. It also leads to sitting judges hanging them higher and higher as the election approaches to prove they’re tough on crime:

“Proximity to re-election makes judges more punitive — more likely to impose longer sentences, affirm death sentences and even override life sentences to impose death,” a report from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law concluded last year.

Sandefur is no coddler of criminals. He’s a former police officer and deputy county attorney as well as a sitting district judge. I don’t worry that supreme court justices with that kind of background will loose murderers and rapists upon our womenfolk. I worry that such justices might try to be so tough on crime that they trample civil liberties.



3 October 2016

Chet Billi knows beans about refugees — and very little more

Nineteen-year-old Chet Billi, the Republican candidate for Montana’s House District 5 (map), is misinformed about refugees. Badly misinformed.

False assertion A. In his platform, Billi claims “The United States harbors approximately 70% of the world’s refugees….” Wrong. According to the United Nations 2015 global trends report, the U.S. accepted approximately 66,500 (60 percent) of the world’s refugees for resettlement. That’s a very small subset of the world’s 21.3 million refugees. Billi apparently does not know the differences between refugees, refugees for resettlement, and displaced persons.

…read the rest

Caron Cooper inadvertently strengthens the
First Amendment rights of political bloggers

Seven days ago, exercised by an 18 August 2016 post at the Montana Cowgirl blog, independent Public Service Commission candidate Caron Cooper set out to teach Cowgirl a lesson in manners. She filed a complaint with Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices accusing Montana Cowgirl of violating MCA 13-35-225 Election materials not to be anonymous.

Five days later, Cooper’s complaint was dismissed in a powerful decision that cites McIntyre v. Ohio, and leaves no doubt that anonymous political blogging is constitutionally protected free speech. Why Cooper might have expected any other outcome is a head scratcher.

…read the rest

Sandefur must respond to substance of sleazy ad

stopsetemfreesandefur.com’s Jake Eaton was the subject of unflattering posts at Montana Cowgirl and Intelligent Discontent over the weekend for his Willy Horton genre ad accusing Supreme Court candidate District Judge Dirk Sandefur of coddling child molesters. Eaton has a history of conduct that coarsens politics, and seems proud of it.

But Eaton is not on the ballot. The ad makes serious allegations that Sandefur must rebut, and, in my judgment, rebut PDQ. Thus far, Sandefur has been silent. That’s a mistake. As Mike Brown noted at The Western Word, the ad is effective and helps Sandefur’s opponent, Kirsten Juras.



2 October 2016

Notice and warning to candidates

Especially to legislative candidates in northwest Montana. Beginning later this week, or early next week, Flathead Memo will begin posting profiles of key election contests.

The basis of each profile will be the platforms of the candidates. I expect serious candidates in competitive elections to have a dedicated domain name website — Facebook pages don’t count — with a main menu issues page that presents the candidate’s positions clearly in an orderly fashion. If serious candidates do not have a website with an issues page, I will conclude that:

  1. The candidate's positions on the issues are identical to the planks in the platforms of the candidate's state and national political parties.

  2. The candidate is deliberately withholding information from the general public, and is disposed to tell the voters as little as possible.

It’s October, but it’s not too late to register a domain name and put up a campaign website with a detailed issues page. It only takes a couple of hours and costs less than $50. There is no legitimate argument for serious candidates not having a dedicated domain name campaign website.

Meanwhile, candidates can, if they wish, use email — use Flathead Memo’s feedback link — to send me their official platform and other information.