Editor’s Choice: How the John Birch Society Bit Ravalli County

Editor’s Choice: How the John Birch Society Bit Ravalli County


A Tale of Cats, Cows and Anti-Vaxxers


How the John Birch Society Bit Ravalli County and Gave It Rabies

By: Bill Lacroix
First published: https://billlacroix.blogspot.com/

I don’t call my cat “Fatso” lightly. It’s not who she is, it’s where she likes to sit and when, which is on my lap when I’m using my laptop. Her body blobs onto my keyboard and, when I try to write, my minimal hand movements harsh her mellow, which prods her to give the back of my hand a nip of annoyance. That’s endearing, but, not too long ago, one of her love bites broke the skin and became infected, which recalled a ‘70s pop song that should have been killed at birth (“Cat Scratch Fever”) which, in turn, triggered a temporary bout of irrational cognitive dissonance (anger mixed with conspiracy theories), the sort of thing that short-circuits your brain and sends you to an emergency room for drugs because you never know WHO or WHAT is out to get you in Ravalli County. It could be your cat. Or Ted Nugent.

To point: Ravalli County has had a problem with science, for a while. During the Covid-19 pandemic, our local cops couldn’t possibly enforce humane safety protocols to keep other peoples’ grandparents from dying because of other peoples’ conspiracy theories. Alas—and as a direct result—more people died of Covid than in traffic accidents. Paradoxically, these same cops could and did enforce speed limits throughout the pandemic, including ticketing me for going 29 MPH in a 25 MPH zone. Paradoxically-squared: local paranoia over Nazi-nurses torturing transplanted retirees with freedom-smothering N-95 masks birthed the local “Breathe-Free Montana” group, a John Birch-flavored extremist outfit whose adherents recently succeeded in orchestrating a coup against the already-entrenched, already-hard-right-but-apparently-not-hard-right-enough Republican Central Committee that has had a stranglehold on our local politics since that black guy became president.

So there I sat in a Ravalli County examining room which, in a reality-based county, would be a “safe space,” but, remember, we’re talking Ravalli County. The nice nurse left to “get the doctor” and, less than two minutes later, a Hamilton Police officer barged in unannounced, in “full metal jacket,” demanding that I either surrender my cat to be quarantined for 10 days in kitty jail or that I sign an affidavit that I will do it myself and that, if my cat escaped during that time and caused damage to other peoples’ property, I would be liable. As an example, he cited the possibility that my cat could bite a cow and give the whole herd rabies.

His logic, of course, was impeccable but, as my hand throbbed in my lap, I also thought that maybe I had contracted rabies or some other hallucinatory microbe. I had to get rid of this guy so I could get drugs and, thankfully, cognitive dissonance is usually a passing thing, and so I told him that I would be glad to produce a record of her recent rabies shot. Never mind, he countered. I must either surrender Fatso or sign, which I did. The catch: the affidavit stipulated that, after her 10-day quarantine, I would bring her in to the station to prove she wasn’t a rabid John Bircher yet, which was beauty-cubed, since I thought a conversation with local law enforcement about cows being more important to them than people would be priceless. I have no intention of taking Fatso in for her parole hearing and, to date, we are still on the lam, awaiting a wonderful conversation. BTW: Anyone know a good lawyer who doesn’t have rabies yet?






EPC Urges County Commission To Follow Resolution

EPC Urges County Commission To Follow Resolution

Last Friday, the Election Protection Committee delivered the following letter to the Cascade County Commission.


We were surprised and disappointed to see that you offered the election administrator position to Terry Thompson. We have already notified you via a letter from Mike Meloy, this selection process is flawed and violates County Ordinance 23-62.  Specifically, the ordinance states, 

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

Clearly, this language applies to Commissioner Grulkowski. Despite the fact that we notified you and the County Attorney that Grulkowski’s continued involvement in the election decision violates Resolution 23-62, no action has been taken to enforce the above provisions of the resolution.  

Though it is disturbing enough that Commissioner Grulkowski seems to believe that the rules and law simply do not apply to her, the fact that the County has allowed her to operate with impunity is highly inappropriate. Frankly, it is hard to understand why the County Attorney’s office has allowed this situation to persist.  

Now it seems our greatest fears have been realized. Commissioner Grulkowski has not only participated in numerous discussions, debate, and decisions regarding operation of county elections, she also participated in the interview process and the hiring decision for the administration of elections in Cascade County.  Moreover, Commissioner Briggs admitted during yesterday’s recorded Zoom session where the candidates were evaluated, that he and Commissioner Larson both rated Rina Moore as their top candidate. We can only infer from his comment that Commissioner Grulkowski is the only Commissioner who ranked any candidate above Rina Moore.

Those of us who watched the interviews were shocked at the final decision to offer the position to Ms. Thompson. Rina Moore clearly had more experience and answered the interview questions more thoroughly and accurately than any other candidate. We also saw that Commissioner Grulkowski was allowed to leave the interview room carrying all of her notes immediately following Ms. Moore’s interview and before the other applicants were interviewed. This action clearly calls the integrity of the selection process into question. We have encouraged Ms. Moore to seek appropriate remedy through the legal system. We are confident she will prevail in that arena.  

Our primary concern is that Cascade County’s elections are run efficiently and effectively. Unfortunately, any legal remedy Ms. Moore, or any other applicant may be entitled to, is likely to occur after Ms.Thompson is instated as election administrator and would preclude an opportunity to offer the position to Ms. Moore.

We are writing to insist you retract your offer of employment to Terry Thompson, subtract Commissioner Grulkowski’s scores from the cumulative totals, and make the offer of employment to the applicant who scores the most points based on the ratings of Commissioners Larson and Briggs. Once Ms. Thompson is offered the position, the county will have crossed a line which is likely to result in significant time and expense.  We encourage you to act responsibly and avoid this unnecessary liability.”

Stay tuned for updates on this issue.


Don’t Sign The Petition

Don’t Sign The Petition

Election Deniers are gathering petition signatures to repeal the resolution which removed Sandra Merchant from election administration.  Pictured here is a sign at the local Republican Central Committee office on 10th Avenue South. Before getting to the petition effort of the election denier conspiracists, let’s remind ourselves that Sandra Merchant was failing at her responsibilities administering elections here in Cascade County.  The County Commission made its decision to remove those duties from Merchant based on poor job performance. . .nothing more.  For a detailed account follow this link  https://dailymontanan.com/2024/01/14/election-errors-forced-the-cascade-county-commission-to-act/.    Despite the facts, the local election conspiracy crowd, primarily housed in the Republican Pachyderm Club, argued that the decision was a power grab by Commissioners Larson and Briggs.  They have ranted and raved, pointed fingers and shaken their fists.  Now they are circulating a petition to repeal the county ordinance which removed election duties from Sandra Merchant. In order to place their repeal effort on the ballot the sponsors have 90 days from the date the resolution was effective. That date is December 12, 2023.  So they will have to turn in their signatures somewhere around March 10th.  They must have signatures from 15% of qualified electors in the county. That’s about 5,500 signatures, but that is the number of valid signatures required. They will need to gather many more than the minimum number to make up for invalid signatures that come into the process.  The law also requires “The form of the petition must be approved by the county election administrator.” Does that mean Devereaux Biddick, who is the acting election administrator appointed by the County Commissioners on a temporary basis, reviewed and approved the form of the petition?  Biddick is an election denier and close political ally of Sandra Merchant. In fact she was hired by Sandra Merchant to work in the elections office shortly after Merchant took office in January 2023.  We wonder if her direct supervisors, Commissioner Joe Briggs and Commission Chair Jim Larson had any idea she was working on approving this petition.

ETA: An earlier version of this post indicated the petitioners has 60 days to gather signature. This has been corrected. The petitioners have 90 days to gather signatures.