Vote In The Republican Primary?

Vote In The Republican Primary?

It seems like all of the old rules went out the window with the election of Donald Trump in 2016.  With the resources and energy of far-right groups like the Freedom Caucus, Moms for Liberty, American for Prosperity and others, the right flank of the Republican Party has taken over most of state and local government.  

Here in Cascade County there is a long standing feud between far-right Republicans, known as the Freedom Caucus, led by legislators like Steven Galloway and Lola Sheldon-Galloway, and more traditional pro-corporate Republicans like Ed Buttrey and Steve Fitzpatrick. This election almost all legislative seats have contested Republican primaries pitting these two factions against each other.  In addition, there is a hotly contested County Commission primary race between far-right incumbent Rae Grulkowski and local businessman Eric Hinebauch.

At the same time there is only one contested Democratic primary, the race for the Eastern Congressional District. The unfortunate fact is, no matter which Democratic candidate wins the primary, he will have virtually no chance of winning the seat in the general election. In short, there is not much reason to vote in the Democratic Primary here in Cascade County.

That brings us to the talk around town urging Democrats in Cascade County to vote in the Republican primary for the more reasonable of those candidates. Some folks are arguing that    a few votes could make the difference between more nuts and more reasonable people in public office. They may be right, and the fact is that there is really nothing to lose given the lack of contested Democratic primaries here.  Advocates of Democrats voting in the Republican primary, which is perfectly legal, say, “desperate times call for desperate measures|.”  

The following is a list of the contested primaries and who are the more far-right candidates.   

Cascade County Commission
Rea Grulkowski- Far Right
Eric Hinebauch

Senate District 13
Lola Sheldon-Galloway- Far Right
Josh Kassmier

House District 19
Hannah Trebas- Far Right
Darren Auger

House District 20
Steven Galloway- Far Right
Melisssa Nikolakkas

House District 21
Josh Osterman- Far Right
Ed Buttrey

House District 22
James Whitaker- Far Right
George Nikolakkas

House District 23
John Proud- Far Right
Pete Anderson- Far Right
Josh Denully
Eric Tillerman

“Go make us a f*cking sandwich Ken”

“Go make us a f*cking sandwich Ken”

Back in early April, we wrote a blog post pointing out that most of the Libertarians who filed to run for legislature were removed from the ballot by the Commissioner of Political Practices for failing to file the paperwork required by law.  We also pointed out that the current chair of the local Libertarian Party, Tony Rosales, was the treasurer for all of those candidates. The campaign treasurer’s main responsibility is to make sure the campaign is complying with legal filing and reporting requirements.  Obviously, Rosales fell short of meeting those pretty simple obligations. https://wtf406.com/2024/04/cascade-countys-loopy-libertarians/ 

Rosales then appeared as a school board candidate and, in a separate post, we pointed out that allegations he was making about school personnel and policies were a bunch of baloney. https://wtf406.com/2024/04/school-board-candidate-attacks-gfps-employee-in-tik-tok-video/ 

The local Libertarian Party posted a response on the platform formally known as Twitter.  The post said that the author of the post, Ken Toole, missed some “transmittal deadlines” 20 years ago when he served in the Montana Senate, implying that Toole should not criticize others for missing deadlines. The fact of the matter is that virtually all legislators have some bills that do not make the transmittal deadline.  Take Randy Pinocci for example.  In 2015,  when he served in the House of Representatives, he had four bills that failed to make the “transmittal deadline.” Unfortunately, if Tony Rosales’ School Board campaign is any indication, facts and accuracy are simply unimportant to Cascade County Libertarians.

We can’t be sure Rosales is the author of the post. It was submitted under the name of the Cascade County Libertarians without author attribution.  We assume that, since he is the chairperson,  he was aware of it and approved of its content. In a message to Jasmine Taylor, who also writes posts for WTF406.com, the Libertarians ask her to let Toole know their response is, “Go make us a fucking sandwich Ken.”  Wow!  Haven’t  heard anything quite that clever since 8th grade.  Do we really want Tony Rosales on the School Board?

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.

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.