Voting for Abortion Rights in Montana?!

Voting for Abortion Rights in Montana?!

Featured photo, no, Austin Knudsen did not literally say that about freedom. He just says it indirectly by his actions.

Well, well, well, it looks like Montanans might get a chance to vote on ensuring abortion access this November.

Constitutional Initiative No. 128 (CI-128) has made it to the signature gathering stage after jumping through numerous obstacles Republican Attorney General Austin Knudsen, Republican Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen, and more threw in its way. The group behind the CI-128 effort, Montanans Securing Reproductive Rights (MSRR) are cleared for signature gathering. We should start seeing people working to collect signatures soon as the group has a sign up for signature gatherers on their website.

After a Montana Supreme Court ordered deadline, Secretary of State Jacobsen finally did her job and delivered the sample petition with the court-issued ballot language on April 5th.  You can see the language below.

CI-128 ballot language

Accuracy! Without biased, inflammatory language. What a little treat for us.

It’s nice to see a functioning judicial branch in Montana. Our Republican Attorney General Knudsen tried to block the ballot proposal as “legally insufficient” after a required review by his office. MSRR sued and the Montana Supreme Court found Austin Knudsen erred in finding the proposal for the 2024 ballot “legally insufficient.” Then Knudsen tried to push through some inflammatory pro-life language for the initiative. MSSR sued again asking the Court to certify its proposed ballot language and to invalidate Knudsen’s, which the group describes as “argumentative, prejudicial, and inaccurate.” And the Court agreed with MSRR! After some more legal wrangling (Thanks Austin! Thanks Christi! Eye rolling emoji), we have made it to the signature gathering stage.

We’ve seen the extremism that has gripped the Montana Republican Party that mirrors the extremism of the national Republican Party. We saw what the national Republican Party did with majorities in Congress. They held a Supreme Court Justice pick hostage. Installed an extremist conservative block on the Supreme Court. And overturned Roe v. Wade protections.

Republicans aren’t stopping at overturning Roe v. Wade. They want a national abortion ban. They are attacking access to IVF, contraceptives, and even no-fault divorce! Initiatives like this one help serve as a safeguard to protecting our rights. We’re keeping an eye on the signature gathering process. Abortion rights have won in every election since Roe v. Wade was overturned, will Montana follow the path we took in 2022 when the regressive anti-reproductive rights LR-131 was voted down?

Pinocci Dodges Two Felonies, Still A Corrupt Asshole

Pinocci Dodges Two Felonies, Still A Corrupt Asshole

We’ve talked about Randy Pinocci a lot on this blog. If you aren’t familiar, suffice it to say he’s Northwestern Energy’s bestest pal, and he really loves raising your utility bills. His greatest hits include napping during public meetings, acting like a slumlord, and most recently committing crimes via text message.

Montana Republicans get arrested a lot. So don’t be embarrassed if you need a refresher on Pinocci’s wrap sheet. Pinnoci initially had a dispute with a tenant, and he received disorderly conduct charges. Pinocci failed to appear in court, ultimately resulting in Pinocci being arrested at Home Depot due to an active warrant.  

In another keen display of believing he’s above the law, Pinocci then tried to compel a witness (who also appears to have been his tenant) to change their statements to police. Pinocci allegedly refused to refund the witnesses deposit, and even stated in writing that “you’re going to have to recant your testimony with the sheriff’s department.” He got two felony counts of witness tampering for that one, but maybe Pinocci’s onto something here. He can seemingly intimidate witnesses in writing, and the county will drop all but the smallest charges. Despite what appears to be literal written evidence of witness tampering, somehow the county was compelled to “take another look” at the case. Pinocci has to pay a mere $200, and he gets a six-month deferred prosecution agreement. As long as he behaves for six months, then the two felony charges will go away. Maybe being a Public Service Commissioner does come with perks? 

Read the full story and see the court documents here: https://dailymontanan.com/2024/04/12/randy-pinocci-pleads-no-contest-to-misdemeanor-felonies-dropped/

 

Candidate Rosales Wasting School District Time and Money

Candidate Rosales Wasting School District Time and Money

In a bid to promote his own campaign, School Board candidate Tony Rosales has been issuing a series of attacks on the administration of the Great Falls School District.  While it probably takes Tony a few minutes to come up with his phony accusations, the district has clearly spent a lot of time and effort to set the record straight.  And that’s too bad, because the staff has more important things to do than replying to weird accusations from a wanna-be politician.

Is This Really How We Want School Personnel Spending Their Time?

The Electric published a good story that takes Rosales’ accusations point by point and covers the district’s response.  What becomes clear from this most recent story is that Rosales either doesn’t know what he is talking about or doesn’t care what the facts are, as long as he throws dirt on dedicated public employees to further his own political campaign.  Probably a bit of  both. For the complete story, follow this link to the Electric’s article.  https://theelectricgf.com/2024/04/10/gfps-responds-to-concerns-from-board-candidate/

One of Rosales’ central accusations against the district is that a staff member, Lance Boyd, sits on the board of Peace Place, a local nonprofit dedicated to providing respite care for disabled children.   Peace Place is a great program that gives parents time to do shopping and other tasks that can be very difficult for parents of kids with special needs.  Rosales asserted that this was a conflict of interest since other providers of similar services in the community did not get that “business” from the district, with the implication  being that funding was being channeled unfairly to Peace Place.  

Hey Tony, Who’s Got a Conflict of Interest?

Responding to questions from the Electric, Rosales said that he discovered this “conflict of interest” at a local meeting on autism and decided to challenge the district.  Rosales posted that it was a conflict of interest for Boyd to serve on the board, as the district refers students to Peace Place and pays for those services. He said that he heard about the situation from another provider who was at the meeting.”

The other provider, who was apparently complaining that he was not getting referrals from the district, is Kevin Leatherbarrow, the owner of Go and Grow.  The district explained that it was not referring to them, because Leatherbarrow had previously told him they did not want to accept federal funding which the district receives.

Tony Rosales is the Chair of the local Libertarian Party.  Leatherbarrow ran as a Libertarian for the Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2020.  Leatherbarrow has filed to run for the legislature in this election cycle, again as a Libertarian.  Rosales also filed to run for the legislature as a Libertarian in this cycle but withdrew, apparently to run for school board.  Tony Rosales is currently serving as Kevin Leatherbarrow’s campaign treasurer.  

If you liked the controversy and paralysis which took over county government after electing aggressive anti-government conspiracy theorists Rae Grulkowski and Sandra Merchant, you might want to consider voting for Tony Rosales. But if you want the school district to remain focused on its job, educating our kids, vote for Marlee Sunchild.

U.S. Senate Candidate Tim Sheehy Caught Telling a Lie

U.S. Senate Candidate Tim Sheehy Caught Telling a Lie

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tim Sheehy has a bullet in his arm. The Washington Post broke a convoluted and confusing news story about how it got there.  The story is convoluted and confusing, because Tim Sheehy has been telling a couple of different stories about how it got there.

Story number 1 according to Tim Sheehy-  In 2015 he was in the parking lot at Logan Pass in Glacier Park.  While putting things in his car, his Colt .45 pistol slipped and fell to the ground, causing it to discharge and hit him in the arm.  He was ticketed by the Park Service and paid a fine.  Now Sheehy says this story was a lie.  

Story number 2 according to Tim Sheehy-  In 2012 while serving in Afghanistan, he was hit by a bullet in the arm.  He says that he doesn’t know where it came from.  He says that he did not report the wound, as is presumably required by the military, because he did not want to  prompt an investigation which could have drug his platoon mates through the mud.  Tim Sheehy says this is the real story.

Jackie Brown over at the Western Word Blog here in Great Falls put it this way when calling on Sheehy to withdraw from the Senate Race: “As I said yesterday, Sheehy should do the honorable thing and drop out of the U.S. Senate race this week. These are not the actions one would expect from a Naval Officer and Navy SEAL. These are not the actions Montanans would expect from a U.S. Senator. To say the least, it’s dishonorable.”

We can’t say it any better than conservative lawyer and Never Trumper, George Conway,  “Let those among you who have not lied about lying about shooting yourselves in the arm in a national park in order to cover up not faking a combat wound—or something like that, I can’t quite figure it out—cast the first stone.”

 

Another Bad Day For Shady Tim Sheehy

Another Bad Day For Shady Tim Sheehy

U.S. Senate candidate, Tim Sheehy, touts his experience as an entrepreneur as one of the major things that qualifies him for a seat in the Senate.  We’ve already pointed out the irony of the fact that his business, Bridger Aerospace, makes the vast majority of its money on government firefighting contracts.  Now The Montana Free Press is reporting that Bridger Aerospace is “deeply in the red” in a thorough story using Security Exchange Commission (SEC) reports.  https://montanafreepress.org/2024/04/09/u-s-senate-hopefuls-company-reported-losses-of-more-than-77-million-in-2023/ 

Sheehy Wearing Rose-Colored  Glasses While Pulling Wool Over Investors’ Eyes

While the filings with the SEC clearly show a company in deep financial trouble, with losses of $77 million last year, Bridger Aerospace Investor Relations issued a glowing report announcing record earnings of $67 million in 2023 (while bemoaning the lack of wildfires last year).  The report went on to say it had received record contract awards in 2023, including a $60 million exclusive contract with the Department of Interior. The report also asserts that the company is poised to grow over 80% in 2024.  

However, the disclaimer in the Investor Relations Report says in pertinent part, “Certain statements included in this press release are not historical facts but are forward-looking statements, including for purposes of the safe harbor provisions under the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.”  We’ll save you reading the whole thing because it is quite long containing lots of wiggle words.  Feel free to read it yourself at   https://ir.bridgeraerospace.com/news-events/press-releases/detail/37/bridger-aerospace-announces-record-2023-results-provides

Sheehy’s Filing With the SEC Tells a Different Story

The SEC filing begins with a note from the Bridger Aerospace’s own auditors which states, As discussed in Note 1 to the financial statements, the Company has suffered recurring losses from operations, operating cash flow deficits, debt covenant violations, and insufficient liquidity to fund its operations that raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern.”  

Montana Free Press quoted University of Montana  accounting professor Terri Herron who examined the financial reports as saying, “Management concluded that they may not be around in a year.”  

So Who Is On The Hook if Sheehy Goes Under?  You are! 

Well, actually people who live in Gallatin County. Of course stockholders stand to lose their investment but Sheehy is at risk of violating financial agreements resulting from a $160 million municipal bond agreement with Gallatin County which brought Bridger Aerospace’s long-term debt to $204.6 million.  The bond came with covenants that Bridger Aerospace must have the ability to cover debt with cash in the amount of at least $8 million.  If Sheehy defaults on the bond requirements, it appears Gallatin County could be on the hook.  

Bridger Aerospace said in the annual filing that it is out of compliance with the required debt service amount, and that it likely won’t be in compliance in the next 12 months. At the time of the report, the company apparently had the $8 million in cash but the report stated that it probably won’t in the future, because interest payments of $18.4 million are coming due soon. 

So, What Does It All Mean?

Of course all of this is complicated and confusing, so let us just boil it down a little for you.  Sheehy has a business in which 88% of his total income comes from the government in the form of firefighting contracts.  A big part of the way he has financed his operation comes from a Gallatin County bond offering.  We assume that means a lower interest rate, because they are government issued bonds.  Welcome to  “entrepreneurship” Tim Sheehy style. Step right up to the public trough and proclaim your commitment to private enterprise.  

Final Notes 

In the short time the public microscope has been on Tim Sheehy, he has not measured up.  In the last week he has admitted lying to law enforcement about an old bullet wound, and we have been treated to an inside glimpse of his business ethics. Unfortunately Montana voters don’t seem to care much about ethics, electing Ryan Zinke, Greg Gianforte, Matt Rosendale and Steve Daines, all coming from the cesspool the Republican Party has become. 

This post has been written largely with the information uncovered by the Montana Free Press and reporter Arren Kimbel-Sannit.  Though we did go through the SEC reports and Bridger Aerospace Investor Relations Report, the truth is we wouldn’t have understood most of it without Kimbel-Sannit’s reporting.