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

Archives Index, 2017 November 16–30


30 November 2017 — 1647 mdt

Republican tax bill damage can’t be reversed before 2021

And maybe not even then. Some form of Reverse Robin Hood tax legislation will pass Congress, and President Trump will sign it into law. Democrats don’t have the votes to stop it — and even if they did, they’re so easily distracted by race and sex that they would have difficulty mustering effective opposition.

Further damage to the New Deal, Great Society, and progressive policy will occur next year. The soonest Democrats can stop the regression to Coolidge-Hoover government is 2019, and then only if they recapture a governing majority in at least one chamber of Congress in 2018. That’s possible, but not, in my judgement, likely.

…read the rest


29 November 2017 — 0649 mdt

Forty progressives rally against GOP tax bill


Updated. Forty Flathead progressives rallied yesterday in Kalispell, protesting the Republican tax cuts for the rich legislation that’s moving through Congress at the speed of a terrorist’s truck. A few more progressives met with representatives of Sen. Steve Daines in his office a half block east of the rally.

These activities boost the spirits of progressives, but have no effect on Daines. Progressives should continue making themselves visible and audible, but to prevail they must run for office themselves and help elect Democrats (the Flathead’s Democrats need a strong candidate to challenge GOP Rep. Frank Garner in HD-7, a district that Democrats have won and can win again).

Below, more images from the rally.

…read the rest


28 November 2017 — 0552 mdt

Progressives against the
tax scam rally today across Montana

Events are scheduled for Helena, Missoula, Bozeman, and Kalispell. The Montana Post has the times and places.

In Kalispell, the festivities begin at noon and last for an hour outside the office of Sen. Steve Daines, located in the KM Building (40 2nd St East, Suite 211). You can RSVP online, or just show up.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a seven-page summary of how the bill would hurt Americans with the lowest incomes, and help people with the highest incomes. It’s a classic case of punishing the needy and rewarding the greedy.

Sen. Daines, one of the wealthiest men in Congress, reportedly does not support the bill because he thinks it’s too generous with big corporations and too stingy with smaller businesses. If you’re a progressive, don’t cheer. He’s holding out for more tax breaks for a special class of high income people.



27 November 2017 — 0403 mdt

Note to readers

Flathead Memo is standing down today. Please read George Ochenski’s outstanding oped on the Flathead Basin Commission.


26 November 2017 — 0734 mdt

The DNRC’s heist of the FBC’s money may not be legal

Ideally, the Flathead Basin Commission should have been established as a stand alone agency. Instead, the FBC’s enabling act provides that:

The commission is attached to the department of natural resources and conservation for administrative purposes only. [The state employees who maintain the MCA apparently oppose capitalizing proper nouns.]

Attaching the FBC to the DNRC probably was not a cost saving measure. Instead, it may have been a way of working around a staggeringly stupid provision in Montana’s constitution:

…read the rest


25 November 2017 — 1743 mdt

A gas leak in the neighborhood

Around 1900 MST yesterday, a fire truck with lights flashing brightly enough to be seen in Seattle sped past my house, followed by an ambulance with lights just as bright. They stopped a few hundred feet to the north. There were no signs of fire. Eventually, word filtered back informally that there was a gas leak. A while later, there was a strong whiff of a mercaptan odorant.


Initially, I thought the gas was natural gas, methane, CH4, which is lighter than air, but later the gas was reported to be propane, C3H8, which is heavier than air. Which gas makes a difference. Methane dissipates fairly quickly once the leak is plugged, but propane can collect in low areas, such as basements, where it can ignite or asphyxiate. Which gas never was resolved.

…read the rest


23 November 2017 — 0352 mdt

Shame on Flathead Basin Commission
saboteurs Steve Bullock and John Tubbs

Sometimes in war, disputes within an army are settled on the battlefield during the chaos of combat, with the deaths attributed to the enemy or to friendly fire. It’s a way of getting away with murder.

That’s what’s happening with the Flathead Basin Commission. Using saving money during a budget crisis as his excuse, Montana Department of Natural Resources Director John Tubbs is defunding the FBC to settle his disputes with the commission and its executive director, and to get rid of the FBC’s de facto oversight of the DNRC’s conduct in the Flathead basin.

He’s getting away with this dirty bureaucratic power play because he has the support of Gov. Steve Bullock.

There’s a way to correct this mistake outrage without raising an additional cent of revenue: fire Tubbs and leave his position open. That would free up money to refund the FBC, redeem Bullock’s green credentials, and free the DNRC of a bad manager. That solution ought to find unanimous support in the Flathead County and Lake County legislative delegations.



21 November 2017 — 0754 mdt

John Frederick — the North Fork Flathead never had a better friend

The North Fork Flathead River has had many good friends — but none was better than Polebridge’s John Frederick, who died at 74 last week. Inkeeper, trail builder, environmental activist, outdoorsman, his tenacity and leadership helped keep Canadian coal in the ground, clean water in the river, and public officials on their toes and good behavior.


At the Kalispell hearing on the exploratory oil well that Cenex drilled a couple of miles south of Polebridge. Left to right, the MEIC’s Jim Jensen, John Frederick, and attorneys Jon Heberling and Roger Sullivan. The well was dry.

Outsiders meeting John for the first time sometimes mistook him for a simple rustic, good hearted but without sophistication. His friends knew better. He had a keen sense of showmanship. When in Toronto to shame Rio Tinto, the company intending to dig coal at Cabin Creek, at its stockholders meeting — he purchased stock so he could speak as a shareholder — he wore a black, western cut, suit, and black flat-brimmed hat, a sartorial choice that one associates with a circuit riding preacher in the 19th century west. By comparison, Brian Schweitzer’s shooting jackets and bolo ties were pure Savile Row. John’s costume helped him present himself as David fighting Goliath, and Toronto’s news media loved it. A three-piece suit and polkadot tie never would have led to coverage so favorable.

When the International Joint Commission held a hearing in Kalispell on the Cabin Creek mine, John’s showmanship again spiced his presentation. Not content to paint a picture of doom with words, an under-appreciated skill of this English major from Ohio, he stood at the microphone with a Mason jar two-thirds full of clear liquid. That, he informed the IJC, was water dipped from the North Fork at the international border. Then, holding the jar for all to see, he poured coal from Cabin Creek into the water, which of course turned black. That, he announced, is what would happen to the North Fork if the Cabin Creek mine was dug. A publicity stunt? Yep. Effective? You betcha. His only mistake was not tipping the local TV station to his demonstration, and Mark Holston almost tripped rushing to get the scene on video.

Because of John’s efforts, and the efforts of his friends, that coal remains in the ground. And because it remains in the ground, it will remain a dollar sign in the eyes of coal diggers everywhere. Consequently, it will stay in the ground only if John’s friends, and the North Fork’s friends, old and new, honor his memory and accomplishments by defending the North Fork with eternal vigilance and zeal. That they will do — and therefore, old friend, wherever you are now, rest easy, for the river will flow clear and clean forever.



19 November 2017 — 2125 mdt

Sunday roundup

Note to readers. Flathead Memo is not standing down for Thanksgiving week, but it is stepping back a bit to let the editor and janitor tend to mundane, but time consuming, duties, and to take a needed break from the stress resulting from a blogger's self-imposed deadlines.

Another candidate for Flathead County Sheriff

Brian Heino, a patrol commander in the Flathead Sheriff’s office, will run for Flathead County Sheriff next year, reports the Flathead Beacon. Keith Stahlberg and Calvin Beringer also seek the position. Stahlberg and Beringer have filed C-1 forms, which allow a candidate to start raising money, with Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices, but MTCOPP does not report a C-1 for Henio.

…read the rest


18 November 2017 — 0759 mdt

Medley — I Hear Them All and This Land Is Your Land

Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings, and Willie Watson perform a medley of Rawlings’ and Ketch Secor’s I Hear Them All and Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land at Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of Inside Llewyn Davis. Rawlings’ guitar is a restored 1935 Epiphone Olympic archtop.



17 November 2017 — 0432 mdt

Flathead Memo is standing down today

Our editor and janitor is so exasperated by pussyfooting politicians of every persuasion, predilection, and degree of poltroonery, that he’s taking a break, and perhaps restoring his equanimity by tossing down a triple medicinal shot of John Barleycorn’s best. Cheers.


16 November 2017 — 0707 mdt

Special legislative session takeaways


Montana’s special legislative session adjourned sine die early this morning. There was a strong case for recessing and finishing up after a good night’s sleep, but there was a stronger desire to say “we’re done’ and get out of town.

Not all of the bills that were considered passed. Not all that were passed should have been considered. Those that did pass must be signed or vetoed by Gov. Bullock, leaving the final outcome of the session not fully clear until the governor acts. But it’s already clear that vital services for the poor, the aged, the infirm, and the hungry, will be cut, and those people hurt, because the wealthiest Montanans were selfish.

…read the rest