Last night, the City Commission meeting was HEATED. A packed room was there to discuss the appointments to the Library Board.
Why are people showing up about library board appointments?
If you’re not in the know, in August the City Commission decided to put their thumb on the scale about “rubber stamping” board appointments — but only for the library board. *Cough cough, bullshit.* You can read our earlier blog post about their political maneuvering here: (https://wtf406.com/2023/08/city-commission-changes-the-rules-for-library-board-appointments/).
In August, the City Commission questioned how the library board, and only the library board, did their appointment process. Then the City Commision asked the library board to go back and redo the process again. The library board was asked to put out a public notice for applicants, interview those applicants, and give recommendations to the commission. Well, the library board did all the tasks the commission placed on them and put forth their appointment recommendations for Anne Bulger and Jerry Hopkins. These appointments to the library board were on the City Commission Meeting Agenda last night.
Commissioners playing games
But the city commission wasn’t done fucking around with these volunteer board members. Commissioners Rick Tryon, Joe McKenny, and Eric Hinebauch (all well known to be Republicans) led the charge. Commissioner Rick Tryon made allegations that the library board is a rubber stamp based on their history of unanimous votes on motions. How many other boards have unanimous votes, Rick?? Wooo, conspiracy. “We need diversity,” and “we shouldn’t be a rubber stamp,” said Commissioner Joe McKenney. Okay that is completely unbelievable because why is the process only different for the library board, Joe?
Then to top it off, Commissioner Eric Hinebauch amended the appointment motion. Rather than accepting the motion that the City Commission follow the library board’s recommendations, Eric amended the motion to appoint Noelle Johnson instead of Jerry Hopkins to the board. WTF?
Who is Noelle Johnson and why did Commissioner Hinebauch amend the motion in order to appoint her? Her affiliations became rapidly clear when the support for Noelle in the room was solely from the far-right Pachyderm crowd. Former County Commissioner Jane Weber made public comments that Noelle is associated with Sandra Merchant and her election fraud conspiracy group. We checked and yep, she signed that insane petition to return to only hand counting ballots that we previously flagged here: (https://wtf406.com/2023/04/elections-update-things-just-got-worse/). Yikes. When pressed by Mayor Kelly on why he amended the motion to appoint Noelle in particular, Commissioner Eric Hinebauch didn’t have a good reason. He mumbled something about wanting “diversity” on the board. Okay that isn’t at all persuasive. Why is she a good choice for the library board??
In the end the conservative block on the City Commission did what they came to do. They picked a partisan hack to install on the library board. Noelle Johnson and Anne Bulger were appointed to the library board.
What can we do?
The silver lining is we get to vote on the makeup of our City Commission soon! That’s right, there’s a city election in November where you can vote for new City Commissioners. Remember in November. Vote!
Disclaimer: Although I am the current Chair of the Cascade County Democrats, all opinions expressed in this post are my own, and I am not speaking on behalf of the Cascade County Democrats.
It’s been a couple weeks since the dust has settled from the 4th of July parade in Great Falls. And do I have a story to tell you…
If State Representative Lola Sheldon-Galloway (R-Great Falls) and the other organizers of the City of Great Falls’ Fourth of July Parade had had their way, the Democrats would have been silenced. On the Tuesday before the parade, one of the officers of the Cascade County Democrats received this message from lead organizer Lola Sheldon-Galloway:
“Because of the Protesters that joined the entry last year, we are getting bad reviews and comments about the 4th of July Parade. We want to remind you that the parade is not the place for protesting or ‘pushing’ an alternate agenda. Protesting has its time and place and the 4th of July parade is not it. We will not allow protesting from anyone as a part of the parade this year. We would appreciate your help in making sure there won’t be an issue on Tuesday. If you have any questions please reach out.
Great Falls 4th of July parade committee”
That’s one hell of a position from an elected state representative whose campaign slogan is the sickeningly ironic “leave our liberties alone.”
What are they whining about?
With regards to the “protestors” of 2022, the Western Word blog wrote about the Cascade County Democrats participation in that year’s parade here. Emotions were extremely high after the fall of Roe v. Wade, and several pro-choice marchers walked in solidarity with the Democrats. Republicans and anti-choicers didn’t like that. And Lola and crew are apparently still holding a grudge.
What happened in the 2023 Parade?
After receiving Lola’s attempt at censorship, the Cascade County Democrats promptly disregarded it. As previously planned, the Democrats made sure to be in compliance with the parade participation rules on the application form and ensured there was no profanity or disturbing imagery on signs held in the parade. Political organizations, including Republican ones, often have signs of their organization’s platform. We are guaranteed a constitutional right to speech, and it would be quite the legally questionable decision if the City of Great Falls chose to enforce one set of standards upon Democrats while allowing all other entrants full and unabridged participation.
The parade went off without a hitch, with lots of energy from the Democratic participants. A video of the 2023 Democrats’ float and marchers can be seen here.
And that…made Lola big mad.
More Whining from Sheldon-Galloway
On July 5th, Lola complained to the City Commission during public comment that “there is an issue that’s coming up. This has been the second year it’s happened. We had protestors in our parade, and we feel, as a committee, that it’s the wrong place with the wrong message with wording that children should not be seeing on the parade route, and it spoils the day….I had asked in advance…that just not be a part of our parade.” (at the video here around minute 31).
How to talk to our children?
As a parent myself, what messages should children not be seeing?
- My body, my choice?
- Safe Abortions Save Lives?
- Bans off our Bodies?
Parents have the ability to talk to their children in an age-appropriate way. If I thought my children were too young to understand something, I would use my words and BE A PARENT. “It’s a medical procedure, and I’ll tell you more about it when you are older.” Furthermore, how is that more disturbing than the gruesome staged pro-life signs outside of Planned Parenthood that Lola regularly joins and bafflingly pushes an empty baby stroller?
Real Life Version of Wrong Place, Wrong Message
Representative Lola Sheldon-Galloway can stay mad
She and her Republican party have politicized our bodies, our medical procedures, and who we are to score political points. We’ve reported repeatedly on Rep. Sheldon-Galloway’s legislative hate here and here and here. People all over Montana and our country are needlessly suffering and some are dying because of legislators like Lola. How is that for a family friendly life?
All of us can appreciate standing up for our rights on Independence Day.
The Supreme Court of the United States, hijacked by an extreme right-wing majority, continues to attack our long-standing rights and laws. Just last week they overturned affirmative action, limited LGBTQ rights, and struck down Biden’s initial student loan relief plan.
The Court has been plagued by ethical issues, while GOP leaders scheme to steal more Supreme Court seats. But, conservatives say we shouldn’t question the Court’s decisions? Um, no.
Predatory Student Loans
You hear all these stupid arguments to the effect of “if you sign a contract, you have to follow the terms.” As if student loans aren’t predatory as fuck, and they CANNOT BE DISCHARGED IN BANKRUPTCY. That’s right, unlike almost all other business and consumer debt in this country, student loans aren’t typically eligible for discharge in bankruptcy. (You can thank a Republican for that). Let’s get real. Student loans are designed to trap people in a vicious debt cycle for decades if not a lifetime. We are saddling 18-year-olds with near lifetime debt. How is that fair? How is that just?
New York Times columnist, Tressie McMillan Cottom astutely stated on twitter, “Student loan debt cancellation is not righting the borrower’s wrong but admitting the State’s wrong.” Our country has permitted predatory financial practices against students who are simply working towards the American dream. This student loan forgiveness would have righted some of that injustice.
Meanwhile in Montana
On Friday, our dumbass governor tweeted this out after the student loan judgment was handed down:
Ok, cool, cool Mr. Hypocrite. You have a net worth of $205 million, but I’m sure you just work 2000 times harder than the average Montanan.
But we know there are two Americas. One for the ultra-rich like Gianforte and one for the rest of us. For example, when PPP loans came out, it quickly became apparent what it was — a massive wealth transfer to the rich. There was little oversight and up to three-quarters of the $800 billion disbursed of PPP went to business owners not workers.
Meanwhile hypocritical Republicans pretend they are somehow not stealing from working Montanans.
For example, we’ve got a new multi-millionaire in the U.S. Senate race attempting to unseat Senator Jon Tester. Tim Sheehy is the CEO and founder of Bridger Aerospace Group in Belgrade, MT. What does Tim think of PPP loan forgiveness?
Shocked Pikachu face, Bridger Aerospace had a $781,985 loan forgiven!
But we can’t forgive student loans? Give me a break.
Sounds like Biden is looking into alternative ways to get student’s relief. Help is still on the way.
This past week, I received a sickening postcard from Great Falls Republican Representative Lola Sheldon-Galloway. I’m assuming her message was in response to public comment I sent to the legislature about their continued attacks on LBGTQ+ Montanans. You can see an image of the bigoted, disturbing shit she is telling Montanans here:
In her postcard message, Lola stated, “In our confusing WOKE Culture defining sex is necessary to clarify GOD’S Truth – GOD created male + female in HIS IMAGE! I will continue to STAND for this ETERNAL TRUTH!”
Good grief, who are we letting create the laws in our state?
I’m not going to dive deeply into the logical fallacies of Lola’s statement. But I will point out that those are her personal religious beliefs, not eternal truths. “Christians” like Lola Sheldon-Galloway are openly comfortable claiming that they have a biblical mandate to occupy and control secular institutions. (Ironically, many evangelicals do not consider Lola Sheldon Galloway and her husband Steven to be Christian because they are Mormons. A fact that is apparently completely lost on the Galloways as they claim to represent the Christian perspective.)
Besides her evidenced lack of scientific knowledge, Lola apparently also lacks basic knowledge of our government’s founding principles. Because of their overt worship of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, I assume Republicans are also aware of our First Amendment.
The First Amendment prohibits the government from “establishing” a religion and protects citizens’ right to practice their religion as they please. The United States was founded as a SECULAR nation. That means the separation of church and state is fundamental to our nation.
But our GOP-majority State Legislature and Republican Governor Greg Gianforte don’t give a shit about your religious beliefs if they aren’t in line with their White Christian Nationalism.
How is the religious extremism of our GOP government impacting Montana?
One way is via the Republican majority’s attacks on LGBTQ+ Montanans. Our Republican “leaders” have pursued a slate of anti- LGBTQ+ bills throughout this legislative session. When their relentless, hate-filled bills were called out for the death sentence they are to LGBTQ+ children, Republicans silenced their colleague Representative Zooey Zephyr. The Republican Speaker of the House has refused to let Representative Zephyr speak on the floor until she apologizes for her correct assessment of the harmful impacts of their hate. Representative Zephyr is a trans woman, which is relevant because of how her bullies are acting. In their public comments, numerous Republicans have misgendered her just to emphasize their cruel bigotry.
What is up with the Montana GOP’s slate of hate-filled anti-LGBTQ+ bills?
Sadly, many of these bills are close to being signed into law by our equally extreme governor. Our Great Falls legislators are doing nothing to slow these attacks. Instead they are all voting FOR this hate over and over again. Several active bills attacking LGBTQ+ Montanans are listed below.
These are shameful days for our state. Goodbye Montanan attitude of “live and let live.” Not any more. Not when representatives like Lola Sheldon-Galloway feel emboldened to let their religious beliefs lead their legislative actions.
Update: This story is still in progress. There have been reports of a broad title strike amendment to HB 774 to bring this primary proposal back to life. Stay tuned for the next round of partisan power grabs from our GOP legislators.
Republicans shelved their proposal to alter the way the U.S. Senate primary is run in Montana. As of April 19th, SB 566 is tabled in the Montana House. That means it’s likely dead.
A couple of weeks ago, we told you about the particularly egregious efforts of the Montana GOP to keep Senator Jon Tester out of the general election in 2024. The cowardly way they attempted to silence Montana voters was by changing the rules of how candidates advance to the general.
SB 566 would have required that the two candidates who receive the most votes in a primary election for a U.S. Senate seat advance to the general election irrespective of party affiliation. That would mean that, if two Republican candidates got more votes than a Democrat or Libertarian in the primary elections, then whoops-a-daisy – no Democrat nor Libertarian can be on the ballot in the general election.
Just a reminder, EVERY GREAT FALLS SENATOR VOTED FOR THIS PARTISAN POWER GRAB: Emrich, Fitzpatrick, McKamey, and Trebas.
So why did the Montana House vote so decisively to table the bill, when every Great Falls senator was on board? One of the Republicans on the House committee who voted to table the bill, Rep. Gregory Frazer, spoke to the press. “I have had a lot of my folks from back home reach out to me and ask me to vote no on this – a lot more than what I thought.”
There you have it! Thank you, public backlash! Shaming people into doing the right thing can work.