After long delays for no apparent reason, the Public Service Commission (PSC) finally issued its ruling on NorthWestern Energy’s request for a 28% electricity rate increase for residential customers. No big surprise. . . they granted the request.
All five Commissioners supported the rate increase (including Great Falls’ own Randy Pinocci, who must have made bail on his felony witness tampering charge). All five Commissioners are Republicans. Unfortunately it appears the PSC has become a feather bed for Republican activists and politicians with its $100,000 plus salary and generous benefits package which includes health insurance and retirement. None of them will have any problem paying the increased rates.
We’re not going to rehash the details of the case here. But here are a couple of takeaways.
This rate increase falls heavily on residential ratepayers and lets other “customer classes” (that’s businesses and corporations) off the hook.
Despite NorthWestern’s claims, this is a 28% increase. Don’t be fooled by the wiggle words the Company is using to minimize the size of the increase.
This increase is not because of taxes.
For details of the case, readers can follow this link to an editorial which WTF406.com ran back in June. https://wtf406.com/2023/06/editors-choice-northwestern-rate-increase-unfair/
Pinocci’s second arrest came on Friday, Oct 13th when a tenant, who was also a witness in Pinocci’s existing disorderly conduct charge, asked Pinocci to mow the lawn on a rental property. The Daily Montana reports that Pinocci responded by text, “For us to continue this relationship, you need to recant your testimony with the Sheriff’s Office,” then continues, “none of these facts that you said happened are true,” and “you’re not allowed on my property until this problem is corrected.” Sheriff Jesse Slaughter said that another witness said that Pinocci said the same thing in a telephone conversation.
Pinocci’s attorney, Ben Reed, who is also a former attorney for the Public Service Commission, said Pinocci denies all charges.
“Stop Voter Suppression”
“Demand Election Integrity”
“Act Now to Protect Our Elections”
Concerned voters braved the gloomy Fall weather to demonstrate in front of the courthouse annex today. The demand? Remove election duties from the Clerk and Recorder.
Since her election, Sandra Merchant has created chaos in Cascade County. After making significant errors in multiple elections, Merchant is now being sued (in her official capacity as Clerk and Recorder). Aggrieved parties in both the Westside Flood District and Fort Shaw Irrigation District elections are taking Merchant to court, and Cascade County taxpayers are footing the bill for Merchant’s defense. After both the county attorney and the Montana Association of Counties (MACO) declined to represent Merchant, a private attorney out of Bozeman was hired to provide her defense. Merchant’s incompetence was even enough for a judge to order a monitor for the Library Levy to assure the election was run lawfully.
Whether through ignorance or intentional maleficence, Sandra Merchant has shown that she is incapable of running accurate, fair, and transparent elections. Luckily, a solution to the Merchant problem is available. The County Commission has the legal authority to remove election duties from the Clerk and Recorder. Joe Briggs has long supported this plan, even offering a provision that will assure a County Commissioner who is up for election will not be involved in the supervision of the Election Administrator. This forward-thinking approach removes partisanship from election administration while providing increased accountability by making the Election Administrator a county employee. This is the measure protestors were out supporting today.
Calls to remove election duties from Sandra Merchant are expected to grow in the coming weeks. With a city election on the horizon, it appears Merchant has again waited until the very last moment to get ballots in the mail- a move that likely disenfranchises military voters, among others.
The citizen group calling themselves the Election Protection Committee (EPC) has been monitoring Merchant’s errors and has endorsed Commissioner Brigg’s proposal to remove election administration from the Clerk and Recorder. EPC member, Jane Weber, attended the demonstration with about 25 other voters. Weber explained, “We’re out here today to defend our right to vote. If we don’t have fair, accurate, and transparent elections, we don’t have a Democracy.”
A small group of Pro-Merchant protestors were also present. One was heard to remark that she’s been “wanting election integrity since 2020” seemingly referring to the same conspiracy theory that led to the January 6, 2020, attack on the United States Capitol. Asked if she had any response to this claim, Weber stated, “It is near impossible to reason with unreasonable people.”
In previous elections, the EPC tracked and monitored ballot errors and discovered such mistakes as voters receiving duplicate ballots, ballots sent to incorrect addresses, and ballots whose outer envelope did not match the name on the inner security envelope. The Election Protection Committee is again asking voters to contact them to report errors on their ballot. Information regarding ballot errors can be sent to the group at [email protected] .
The group notes that they will continue to monitor such errors and hold Sandra Merchant accountable until safe and secure elections are restored in Cascade County.
Yesterday a group of NeoNazis demonstrated outside of the Chabad Jewish Center in Missoula. As usual, they carried signs with racist messages, preaching White supremacy and hatred towards refugees. Their clear intent was to intimidate and threaten the Jewish community in Missoula.
There are multiple NeoNazi organizations in the northwestern United States, and this particular demonstration brought in some out of town guests. (I use the term “guest” loosely. These assholes were certainly not invited, nor are they welcome in our state.) The small group of incels were soon outnumbered by counter protestors whose video documentation was quickly shared on Twitter. [We’re not gonna call it X. Fuck Elon Musk. But I digress.]
Citizens were quick to identify one Nazi who lives in Washington. Larkin McIntyre, a White man of below-average intelligence and terrible fashion sense, was seemingly arrested. Although booking information is not yet available, those in attendance note that the Nazis moved their protest from the Jewish Center to the courthouse. Larkin allegedly had a weapon, which, spoiler alert, is not allowed on courthouse property. Photos of Larkin’s arrest are included below.
Why, you ask? Because now that Larkin has visited Montana, we want to be sure that his employer knows what he’s been up to. Larkin works for the Shoreline School District. Although Larkin certainly has a right to free speech and protest, typically breaking the law is not a protected activity. Further, it is of grave concern to allow a White supremacist contact with students. Larkin potentially poses a safety risk to any student that falls within his wide umbrella of hate, to include: Jewish people, LGBTQ+ people, refugees, and all Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Basically, if you aren’t a straight, White guy who hates his neighbors, Larkin and his cohorts are a danger to your safety.
We’ve emailed the Shoreline School District to inquire how they’re assuring student safety while employing a known Neo-Nazi, and if there are any rules which prohibit staff from engaging in unlawful activity. Read our email below, and maybe consider sending one of your own to express your concerns.
The attached photos have been circulated widely on social media. They appear to show an employee of your school district, Larkin McIntyre, being arrested. McIntyre was participating in a Neo-Nazi rally in Missoula, Montana. Arrest information is not yet available, but counter protestors have reported that after harassing people at the Chabad Jewish Center of Missoula, Larkin and the NeoNazi group moved their demonstration to the courthouse. Some attendees claim that Larkin was seen with a weapon, which is illegal on courthouse property, and potentially prompted his arrest.
Our blog, which covers local happenings in Montana, is running a story about this Neo Nazi activity. As such, we have a few questions.
Firstly, what protections are in place for students and co-workers that interact with McIntyre?
Although employees certainly retain their right to free speech and protest, does the school district have any policies which preclude staff from engaging in unlawful behavior?
Are school district employees and parents aware of the potential safety risk McIntyre poses to any BIPOC, LGBTQ+ Jewish, or non-White students and staff?
Please note that we are not asking for any protected employee information regarding McIntyre. We have already received information (attached) showing the employment relationship between himself and the Shoreline School District. Rather we are asking what steps the district is taking to assure the safety of those affected by NeoNazi ideology, and what policies and procedures would apply to a situation in which a school district employee is arrested.
We are happy to answer any questions you may have as to this request. If there is a more appropriate party to provide this information to, we would request to be provided that contact information as well.
Thank you for your time.
What The Funk 406 Blog Team”
We received the following response from the Shoreline School District
“Hi Jasmine, Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. We take allegations of discrimination seriously, including thoroughly investigating the allegations and taking appropriate steps to ensure that the District is safe and welcoming for students, staff, and community members. While the District has a general policy of not commenting on particular personnel matters, the District is responding and taking appropriate action.
Response received by WTF406 from the Shoreline School District.
WTF406 sent this email to Shoreline School District.
In this photo shared across Twitter, it appears McIntyre is being handcuffed and detained by Missoula PD.
McIntyre was quickly identified by citizens who shared his photo across social media.