School Board Candidate Attacks GFPS Employee in Tik Tok Video

School Board Candidate Attacks GFPS Employee in Tik Tok Video

School Board Candidate Tony Rosales recently released a Tik Tok  video making vague allegations against a school district employee. Rosales notes that the employee is also on the board of Peace Place. He then questions if the superintendent and school district know about this educator’s affiliation with the nonprofit organization. He concludes by seemingly implying a conflict of interest as the Peace Place has “employees,” and, therefore, the school district employee has some sort of “obligation.”  While Rosales tries to frame this video as some sort of “gotcha,” his arguments don’t hold up to even the slightest scrutiny.

Firstly, volunteering is a good thing. Many educators also give their time to the community through volunteering, and serving on a board is one way to do that. Peace Place provides respite care for parents of children with disabilities and other qualifying needs. It’s a fantastic resource for caregivers, and it’s worthy of your support. Learn about their services here: https://peaceplacegf.com/

Now, on to Rosales’ concerns. The educator under fire is on a volunteer board for an organization that helps children. Supporting such organizations is highly consistent with the work educators already do. If an educator is aware of resources that could help a family, it’s appropriate to share those resources. As a volunteer, the educator isn’t receiving any personal financial benefit for connecting people with resources (if this is even occurring. Rosales offers no evidence of such, but the implication is there.) 

What’s more telling than the vague and ambiguous nature of Rosales’ accusations is Rosales’ own conduct in relation to the school and his campaign. Rosales volunteers with a GFPS Speech and Debate team. Rosales is presently running for the school board. In a display of hypocrisy, Rosales found it appropriate to use his volunteer role as an opportunity to further his political career. Rosales emailed numerous candidates and elected officials on behalf of the Speech and Debate team. In the email, he asks the invitees to participate in a “debate” event with his students. 

So let’s recap. According to Rosales, it’s inappropriate for a school employee to volunteer on a nonprofit board on his own personal time. However, it’s somehow totally appropriate for Rosales to use his volunteer role at the school to recruit politicians to speak at his event. Rosales’ behavior looks far more like a conflict of interest than the conduct of the school employee Rosales targeted. 

A final but compelling comparator is Rosales’ response to the city commission’s coming safety committee. This group is essentially a list of the current commissioner’s closest pals. The most glaring cronyism is seen with the appointment of Jeni Dodd. Dodd and Commissioner Rick Tryon are close collaborators, with both writing for the hate blog, E-City Beat. E City Beat. Dodd is equally cozy with Commissioner Joe McKenney McKinney. Now, despite a total lack of expertise and any relevant qualifications, Dodd will be giving input on of possible future levies and even budget management. Dodd’s presence on the committee is a fantastic example of an actual and alarming conflict of interest. Rosales is surely aware of this issue, as he too is slated to be on the committee. 

Rosales is clearly willing to throw an educator under the bus in the hopes of gaining popularity for his campaign. Yet, he doesn’t apply the same standard of conduct for himself, or his friends on the city commission. 

Should Rosales somehow be elected to the school board, how could he expect any GFPS employee to trust him? 

 

Petition To Repeal Election Office Change Flops

Petition To Repeal Election Office Change Flops

Cascade County’s far right was mad as hell when the County Commissioners removed election duties from Sandra Merchant’s control.  Nevermind that Marchant had fouled up virtually everything she touched since taking office in January of 2023.  

When the County Commission held a hearing on Ordinance 23-65, which removed election duties from Merchant’s Clerk and Recorder’s office to the County Commission office, the hearing lasted 7 hours.  Cascade County was treated to a cavalcade of baseless allegations, bible quotes and challenges to Commissioner’s motivation and patriotism.  It was quite a show.  But in the end, Commissioner’s Joe Briggs and Jim Larson stood for competent election administration and placed election administration under the Commission office.  Here’s a summary of that meeting: https://wtf406.com/2023/12/the-grinch-in-great-falls/

In response, these folks organized a petition drive to place the issue on the ballot and give people the opportunity to express their opinion supporting their point of view.  But, alas, they failed.  Not only did the imagined vast majority of supporters not get to vote, signature gatherers couldn’t even get the required 15% of eligible voters to sign the petition to place the measure on the ballot. 

Read our prior coverage here: https://wtf406.com/2024/01/dont-sign-the-petition/

In order to place the measure before voters the organizers had to get approximately 5,500 signatures from registered voters in Cascade County.  But after 90 days signature gatherers only managed to gather 1,242 verified signatures. Less than a quarter of the required number.  So much for a wave of public support for the Merchant/Grulkowski crowd of conspiracy theorists.

Note:  Since starting this blog we have learned that getting public information from Cascade County is incredibly difficult and frustrating.  We found the new election administrator, Terry Thompson, to be an exception.  Our request for information about the signature gathering effort was responded to in a timely manner with complete and accurate information.

Daily Montanan On the Cascade County Commission Race

Daily Montanan On the Cascade County Commission Race

The online Montana newspaper The Daily Montanan published a really good analysis of the Cascade County Republican primary race between Eric Hinebauch and Rae Grulkowski. Below are excerpts from the article.

“In an interview with the Daily Montanan, Hinebauch described himself as a fiscal conservative but shied away from the label  ‘moderate,’  and so did Great Falls legislator and Senate Majority Leader Steve Fitzpatrick in describing Hinebauch. But others who work closely with him know him as a centrist looking to get things done.” 

“Grulkowski was a leader in the anti-Big Sky National Heritage Area movement, revolving around a conspiracy the federal government was targeting private property in the county, debunked in the New York Times in 2021.”

“In this June’s Republican primary, voters in Cascade County will choose whether to go with the middle-of-the-road conservative or a far-right conspiracist.”

Read the full article here.

https://dailymontanan.com/2024/03/22/national-republican-party-dynamics-at-play-in-cascade-county-commission-primary/

Grulkowski has the advantage of far-right base support which provides her with volunteers, funding and energy.  She jumped out of the campaign gates already having signs out all over the county. So far, Hinebauch is ahead in fundraising, reporting $12,085.70 for the reporting period ending March 15. Grulkowski has raised $7,125.00. 

Hinebauch stands to benefit from centrist Republicans who are tired of the drama Grulkowski has brought to county government.  There are also potential Democratic crossover votes in this election. The race for the Eastern District Congressional seat is the only Democratic primary race. And the truth is that a Democrat is highly unlikely to carry the general election in the Eastern District, no matter who wins.  At the same time there are numerous contested Republican primaries, which are bound to attract interest across the ballot.  

Grulkowski Plays Dirty– Did We Really Expect Anything Else?

Grulkowski Plays Dirty– Did We Really Expect Anything Else?

Most of us who were watching the selection process for the new election administrator for Cascade County, Terry Thompson, knew it was a rotten kettle of fish. We suspected that the cause of the putrid smell was Commissioner Rae Grulkowski.  Now we have the proof.

Rae Grulkowski’s biased scoring

Thanks to Ann Brust filing an information request with the county, we can see exactly what the scores of each of the county commissioners in the selection process were. It reveals a rogue county commissioner manipulating a government hiring process to hand the job to a person she worked alongside opposing the Big Sky Country National Heritage Area back in 2020. At that time Terry Thompson was CEO of the Great Falls Realtors Association and Grulkowski was one of the main organizers of the opposition, which was steeped in ridiculous conspiracy theories about people losing their property rights if the Heritage Area was established.

Where’s the oversight?

Perhaps even more disconcerting, the county entities which should be acting to curb the corrupt conduct of a local elected official have been sitting on their hands and even covering up for Grulkowski’s outrageous conduct as a county commissioner. We are referring to the county attorney’s office and the county human resource office. Even though they were both engaged in the selection process, they allowed Grulkowski to ignore the law and standard government personnel practices by manipulating her scores to guarantee that the most qualified applicant, former election administrator Democrat Rina Moore, was denied the position and gave it to her former, less qualified, political ally, Republican Terry Thompson.

We commend Commissioners Briggs and Larson for having the political courage to remove Grulkowski from the chair of the county commission and for passing County Ordinance 23-62, which took the election duties away from Grulkowski’s political crony and incompetent administrator Sandra Merchant. But we are baffled by their failure to enforce the provision of the ordinance which prohibited Grulkowski from participating in any decision dealing with the election office, which obviously included hiring new election administrator Terry Thompson. Larson has told people that the ordinance did not apply to Grulkowski, because she had not filed for re-election.  Maybe he thought that, but he was mistaken. (See the language of the ordinance below.)  

“WHEREAS, appointing an Election Administrator to serve at the direction of the Board of Cascade County Commissioners will eliminate the appearance of impropriety as any single Commissioner whose seat appears on the ballot in a given calendar years shall be required to abstain from all decisions concerning the operation and management of the election office during that calendar year until such time as the election for said office is finalized; and” 

We have to wonder why Deputy County Attorney Carrie Anne Haight and Human Resource Officer Jeff Mora, who sat through numerous commission meetings dealing with this hiring decision including the applicant interviews, did not insist that Grulkowski follow the law.  Perhaps we should not be surprised at the apparent dereliction of duties, since neither Haight nor Mora have raised objections as Sandra Merchant filled vacant positions in the Clerk and Recorder’s office with numerous individuals whose sole qualification appeared to be the fact that they had signed an election denier petition with bizarre demands that mail in balloting be eliminated, doing away with electronic vote counting machines, and requiring every Cascade County voter to come in and reregister to vote. Those who did not actually sign the petition were either in personal relationships with those who had or were family members of far right Republican officials like Randy Pinocci.

So, here we are now looking right at the smoking gun, the scoring of the individuals who applied to be the election administrator. There can be little doubt that Rae Grulkowski used this process to advance her own ally and subvert the competitive hiring process for the county which is  required by state law, professional personnel practices, and the county’s own ordinance. She has done so with impunity and those who should have, and could have, raised objections have apparently remained silent. 

Scoring Matrix for Hiring The Cascade County Election Administrator

Grulkowski was moving an agenda to help Terry Thompson and sink Rina Moore

For those readers who don’t like looking at tables, we point out that commissioners Larson and Briggs both ranked Rina Moore as the most qualified and Grulkowski rated her as the least qualified . . .by a large margin.  On the other hand, Larson and Briggs ranked Thompson third and fourth respectively and Grulkowski rated her number one. . .again by a large margin.  Obviously Grulkowski was moving an agenda which resulted in Terry Thompson getting the job.

But it is election season again!

We want to take this opportunity to remind the voters of Cascade County that it is election season. Former City Commissioner Eric Hinebauch is running against Grulkowski in the Republican primary, and Don Ryan is running on the Democratic ticket in the general election. If we can’t count on county officials to restrain this kind of impunity, we have to turn her out at the ballot box.  

Cascade Legislative Filings-  Republican Infighting Continues

Cascade Legislative Filings- Republican Infighting Continues

Let’s start with a little definition of terms used in this Post.  

Far-Right  Republicans– Republicans who advocate ideas and policies which are coming from extreme groups like the Freedom Caucus and local Pachyderm Club. They are driven by conspiracy theories including rhetoric about the “Deep State” and stolen elections. The Galloways, Public Service Commissioner Randy Pinocci, Sheriff Jesse Slaughter and County Commissioner  Rae Grulkowski are in this group. Also known as Tin Foil Hat Republicans

Corporate Republicans–  Republicans who generally fit into the more traditional frame of Republicanism. They promote privatization of public services and institutions, deregulation of industry, and cutting  taxes. Fitzpatrick, McKamey, Buttrey,  Nikolakos, Commissioners Briggs and Larson, Republican Central Committee Chair Eric Hinebauch are in this group.  Also known as Corporate  Lapdog Republicans.

If you follow local politics in Cascade County, you are probably aware of the feuds within the local Republican Party. We’re not going to go into in much detail here, but we provide this quote from Matthew Monforton, Republican activist, former legislator, and attorney who was representing the Far-Right  Republicans here in a lawsuit over control of the Republican Central Committee in 2019.  “What it comes down to is, there’s a group of fake Republicans in Cascade County that are really Democrats, but they know they can’t get elected to office as Democrats. Their goals are vastly different than those of the Republican Party.” 

https://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/2019/02/05/tensions-gop-threaten-boil-over-county-committee-fights-steve-fitzpatrick-sheridan-buck-monforton/2782214002/ 

A quick look at the filing for this election cycle indicates that the feud is still going. There is a contested Republican primary in every legislative district except one. Equally telling, only one current legislator and Corporate Republican, Steve Fitzpatrick, does not face a primary challenger.  Also interesting that four Libertarians have filed.  

To our readers who are gleefully rubbing their hands together over the discord within the Republican ranks, we have to say, “not so fast.”  The truth is that contested primaries make for stronger candidates in the general election cycle. They have already been raising money, meeting voters, buying materials and garnering media attention, and they bring those assets with them to the general election.  

So, we leave you with a little unverified gossip. Word is that Far-Right Republican  legislator Steven Galloway recruited James Whitaker to challenge incumbent George Nikolakos in House District 22.  Nikolakos was so angry that he got his wife to file against Steven Galloway at the last minute. We don’t know if this is the real story, but we do know that Melissa Nikolakos filed against Galloway on the last day to file at 3:38 p.m.  Hmmm.

 

HD 19
Jane Weber- D

Hannah Trebas – R

Darren Auger- R

 

HD 20

Rina Moore – D

Steven Galloway-R 

Melissa Nikolakos-R

 

HD 21

Lela Graham-D

ED  Buttrey-R 

James Osterman-R

Joshua Rosles-L

 

HD 22

Ronald Paulick- D

George Nikolakos-R 

James Whitaker- R

 

HD 23

Sandor Hopkins-D

Pete Anderson- R

John Proud-R 

Josh Denully- R

Kevin Leatherbarrow- L

HD 24

Steve Fitpatrick- R 

Annie Leatherbarrow- L

HD 25

James Rickley- D

Darren Auger- R

Steve Gist- R 

Loui Salinas- L

 

SD 13

Lola Galloway-R

Joshua Cashmier- R

What Has Christi Done?

What Has Christi Done?

In an unprecedented move, Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen weighed in on Cascade County’s hiring process to fill an open election administrator position.  The move by Jacobsen casts further doubt on the selection process in the County.  The action provides further evidence of the corruption and incompetence of Republicans in our state and county.

WTF406.com has written extensively on the mess in the Clerk and Recorder’s office after Sandra Merchant was elected.  Due to Merchant’s incompetence, the county commission removed election duties from her office and began the process of hiring a qualified employee to administer elections.  Four finalists were interviewed by the three commissioners, and Terry Thompson was selected.  Two other candidates, Rina Moore and Lynn Deroche, were passed over despite having much more experience and training for the position. Each had approximately 16 years of experience administering elections.  WTF406 and others objected to the process, because Merchant’s crony Commissioner Rea Grulkowski participated in the selection process despite being directed by county resolution not to participate in decisions affecting the election office.

Now, thanks to excellent reporting by The Electric, we find out that Republican Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen weighed in on the hiring decision. Specifically, in an email from a state email account dated February 14th to county commissioners, Jacobsen wrote, “please do not hire Ms. Moore or a member of her administration as Cascade County’s Election Administrator. Doing so would directly undermine the voters of Cascade County, among other reasons.”

The  Electric followed up on the story after observing Merchant and Grulkowski going into the Secretary of State’s office on March 1st.  The Electric requested information from Merchant and Grulkowski about the reason for the meeting and whether public funds were used in their trip to Helena.  They did not respond.

County Commissioners Joe Briggs and Jim Larson both said that they were surprised by Jacobsen’s email but both added that it did not affect their decision, because it was a scored “structured” hiring process.  That may or may not be true, but Grulkowski also scored the applicants and her score alone was likely enough to jimmy the system in favor of Terry Thompson. And if we know anything about Rea Grulkowski, it is that she does whatever she pleases without regard for the rules and law.

So the liability for the county (and us taxpayers) continues to mount thanks to the arrogance of Grulkowski and her far right allies in their effort to control elections in Cascade County.  Both Rina Moore and Lynn DeRoche would have had strong political belief discrimination complaints before the Jacobsen email.  Now those complaints would be even stronger, and the state of Montana can also be brought into any legal action.