A Far Right Republican and Cascade County’s Loopy Libertarians

A Far Right Republican and Cascade County’s Loopy Libertarians

Libertarians have been making a bit of a splash here in Cascade County. While Libertarians rarely get elected to public office, their presence in political races often detracts from serious public discourse thanks to their rather odd positions on many issues and philosophical view of extremely limited government. 

The Pseudointellectual, Tony Rosales

The Chair of the local Libertarian Party, Tony Rosales, is running for a “non-partisan” position on the school board.  Rosales attracted attention by accusing a school district employee of having a conflict of interest, because the person served on the board of a local non-profit.  See our post on Rosales’ spurious allegations, and his own conflict of interest as a volunteer on the school debate team.  https://wtf406.com/2024/04/school-board-candidate-attacks-gfps-employee-in-tik-tok-video/. 

Rosales is running an aggressive social media campaign consisting of technical looking columns of numbers to make the case that the school board is somehow violating the public trust.  Not surprising since he shoves his PHD in chemistry in everything he possibly can.  Problem is, a PHD in chemistry doesn’t mean he knows anything about school budgeting, finance or administration.

The Conspiracy Theorist, Randy Pinocci

Randy Pinocci has signed on as the Lieutenant Governor with Tanner Smith of Kalispell at the head of the ticket.  Pinocci has been active in the local Republican Party, getting elected to the state legislature and the Public Service Commission.  From those positions Pinocci has established himself as one of the most far right and intemperate people in public office.  Pinocci has a long history of attracting public attention with his conspiracy theories and promoting far-right events like the Red Pill Festival, an annual gathering of far-right activists. Most recently Pinocci was arrested for felony witness tampering related to a dispute he had with a tenant. He is currently scheduled to go to trial on those charges on April 30th here in Great Falls.  The county is bringing in Judge Jim Manley from Polson to hear the case.  As an aside, the facts of the case are well established since Pinocci threatened the witness via text message.  We can only hope the County Attorney doesn’t plead this one down because Pinocci is a local elected official.

 

All the King’s Men (And One Woman

If you looked at the candidate filings with the Secretary of State’s office the morning after the filing deadline, it looked like the Cascade County Libertarians were on the move.  But on closer inspection it seems to be a lot of smoke and mirrors, all arranged by Tony Rosales.  In addition to Tony Rosales and  Randy Pinocci, four Libertarians filed for local legislative seats.  These included House Dist 21- Joshua Rosales, House District 23- Kevin Leatherbarrow, House District 24- Annie Leatherbarrow and  House District 25- Lui Salina. In addition, Tony Rosales also filed to run in House District 24, but the Commissioner’s office now  shows his legislative campaign as “closed”.

If you look today you will see that all but Kevin Leatherbarrow have been removed from the ballot. They were removed for failing to file the proper paperwork with the Commissioner of Political Practices  The Commissioner’s office informed WTF406 that numerous attempts are made to make sure all candidates know about the filing requirements. It may not be surprising that Libertarian candidates wouldn’t follow the rules since they don’t believe most rules should exist.

The campaign treasurer for all of the Cascade County Libertarian candidates is Tony Rosales. It is highly unusual for numerous candidates to have the same treasurer. Though there is nothing wrong with filing for office then withdrawing, it makes one wonder what is going on to cause such a change of heart. Combined with Tony Rosales’ aggressive, unfounded attacks on Great Falls Public Schools, we are getting a glimpse at how he would perform in public office. . . .poorly.

Correction- Our original post misidentified the Tanner/Pinnocci ticket as Libertarian.  In fact it is Republican.  We have made the correction and we apologize for the error.

Thank You to Jeni Dodd!

Thank You to Jeni Dodd!

Jeni Dodd, our favorite cosplay patriot, also seems to be one of our most devoted readers. If I make a typo or forget a comma, Jeni is sure to let me know. As What The Funk is a volunteer-based project, it’s great to have a volunteer-editor like Jeni to let me know when I mess up. Today, I want to thank Jeni for pointing out an error I made in a previous article, and the error was certainly bigger than a misspelling. I incorrectly identified Beth Cummings as the latest hire at the elections office. My mistake, and my apologies to Beth Cummings.

I should have identified Beth Cummings as one of the lead plaintiffs in a failed lawsuit attacking the library levy. I’ve updated the article to reflect the correction: https://wtf406.com/2024/02/ecb-hatesphilanthropy/

To understand important context, we have to back up to last year. The library mill levy was on the ballot. Sandra Merchant’s numerous mistakes resulted in the court appointing an election monitor to ensure the election ran smoothly and lawfully. As we previously reported, “volunteers” working in the elections office during the library mill levy were allegedly distributing anti-library materials while volunteering. 

Well, the library levy passed, despite the misinformation campaign propagated by the far-right. Shortly after its passing, a lawsuit was filed attempting to keep the library from implementing those mills. One of the lead plaintiffs in that lawsuit? Beth Cummings. 

Just this week, a judge threw that lawsuit out. Importantly, the judge explicitly states that it appears the plaintiffs (ie Cummings) had no actual legal dispute, were aware of such, and were simply angry about the results.

Read The Electric article here: https://theelectricgf.com/2024/02/28/judge-dismisses-lawsuit-against-city-over-library-election/

The articles states,

In her order, issued Feb. 27, Perry dismissed the case, writing, ‘although their  filings are detailed and generally well organized, every one of their  legal arguments is wrong. They are consistently mistaken about which  sections of law actually apply to the instant matter, misread and  misapply controlling precedent, and generally find fault where no fault  actually exists or any error was clearly harmless. It is difficult to  read their filings and come away with any impression other than that  this action is a thinly veiled attempt to undo an election result they  dislike rather than a truly justified complaint about a mishandled or  otherwise legally problematic election.”

Huge thank you to Jeni for bringing this mistake to my attention. 

As to Jeni’s other arguments in her piece, we anticipated E City Beat’s lame defense of their story about the library levy campaign. In fact, we addressed it in our own article. As to Jeni’s other assertions about the levy, these claims were already addressed in court, as mentioned above.

Call To Action! Support GF Public Library

Call To Action! Support GF Public Library

As we previously reported, Commissioner Rick Tryon has been relentlessly attacking the library.  Read about those attacks here: https://wtf406.com/2024/01/tryon-ignores-voters-threatens-library-funding/

Funding our library benefits the entire community.  Let’s help protect our library and its vital services by doing one or more of the following action items:

 

The city commissioners have decided to begin negotiations regarding the City/Library management agreement.  The library currently receives city funding through 17 voted mills (passed by voters last June) and 7 mills by agreement (through the management agreement started 31 years ago).  Some commissioners feel the 7 mills would be better utilized for safety funding and are seeking to modify the terms of the agreement to reduce city funding for the library.
 
Should the city require the library to give up the 7 mills, the library will be right back where it started regarding funding. 
 
Voters spoke up for increased library services.  The library is working hard to implement this plan.  Should the library lose 7 mills, your library and your community will suffer.
2. The members of the public attending the Great Falls Public Library Board of Trustee meetings have become exponentially negative-focused and intimidating to the board trustees (volunteers). While it is absolutely everyone’s right and duty to attend public meetings and express their concerns, the opinions expressed do not accurately represent the general population. Our public library and its trustees NEED OUR SUPPORT!
 
Please commit to at least one of the following regularly:
 
1. Attend a GFPL Board Meeting Make comments of support/celebration/feedback OR be a friendly face in the audience.  
 
2Email the GFPL Trustees:.Email Library Director Susie McIntyre,  [email protected]  with the subject line “FOR THE BOARD”
 
3. Email the Great Falls City Commission:
 
4. Encourage your friends and family to attend meetings or email feedback.
5. Attend City Commission meetings and express your desire that they honor the long-standing library funding agreement
Board of Trustee information, meeting times, agendas, minutes and video links:  
 
Upcoming GFPL Board of Trustee Meetings: 
Tuesday, March 26th, 4:30 pm
Tuesday, April 23rd, 4:30 pm
Tuesday, May 28th, 4:30 pm
 
Upcoming City Commission Meetings: 
Tuesday, March 5th, 7:00 pm
Tuesday, March 19th, 7:00 pm
ECB Hates…Philanthropy?

ECB Hates…Philanthropy?

Just last Wednesday was Valentines Day’s, but the ghouls over at E City Beat ✅ seem stuck in the first act of The Grinch. Great Falls faces a lot of problems right now, from a housing crisis to a police force without mental health services support. Yet, “ECB Staff” which is typically code for “Commissioner Rick Tryon” decided they needed to release a hard-hitting report on two local philanthropists.

Keeping people angry and ignorant is a key Republican tactic. So, although dystopian, it should be no surprise that Republicans have turned their ire towards libraries. Free information, community space, help with things like taxes and legal paperwork, all of these services infuriate the right. Frankly, the less you read, the more likely you are to vote down ticket Republican. So while libraries are, undoubtedly, a-political entities simply serving the public good, they are now the #1 target for idiots like the staff at E City Beat. 

Enter the “Vote Yes” campaign. This privately-funded initiative worked to promote the library levy which passed last summer. Not a single taxpayer dollar was used for this initiative. The library levy passed, and Commissioner Tryon has been going after the library ever since.  

Most recently, ECB decided to drudge up the records of who donated to the “Vote Yes” initiative. This information is indeed public record, but what confounds this author is that ECB would attempt to shame local citizens for their philanthropy. Charitable giving to institutions like libraries and schools (and the groups that support them) should be the subject of praise and appreciation. In another journalistic faceplant, ECB even revealed that the two families donated to the Great Falls Public Schools Foundation and the United Way  of Cascade County respectively. The horror! The shame! The selfless sharing of wealth!

ECB’s ire towards these donors is particularly funny considering their vocal support of the failed safety levy. The media campaign for that levy was NOT based on private donors. Instead, Tryon spent tens-of-thousands of OUR tax dollars to try to sway the voters. He failed. You still paid the price. 

However, if ECB really wants us to start getting into who is donating to causes, it seems fitting we look at the ANTI-library campaign. You know the one. They had several billboards all around town. They falsely claimed that the library promoted pornography and drag queens. They also used the “No” symbol twice, grammatically negating their claims and reminding us of the importance of literacy. 

The main funders of the anti-library campaign, the group “Liberty and Values MT,” were the Duncans. They donated a total of $3987.00.  The Duncans are also the owners of Happy Tails Lodge. If you either support libraries or simply don’t believe in misinformation and homophobia, then consider NOT boarding your pets at Happy Tails. If you’re pulling your pet from their services, be sure to let them know that E City Beat’s article is the reason you’re taking your business elsewhere.

Also of note, Lola Sheldon Galloway donated $200 to the group. Considering the Galloways are millionaires, it appears they weren’t wholly committed to this project. Perhaps they considered it a bad investment?  Importantly, Beth Cummings ALSO donated to the campaign. Cummings is one of the lead plaintiffs in a failed lawsuit against the library levy.

I anticipate ECB will now claim this information is all “publicly available” and perhaps try to claim their article had no ill-intent. That’s bullshit. ECB wanted to make these donors uncomfortable, and likely wanted to turn public opinion against them. We trust that Great Falls citizens are smart enough to realize that philanthropy towards groups like United Way, the Great Falls Public School Foundation, and the library is a GOOD thing. The only time such donations are shameful is when they’re supporting groups that trying to cause harm and spread hate- groups like Liberty and Values MT. 

Since we can’t count on our actual Commissioners to say this, we will instead.

THANK YOU to the generous donors that supported our library. We appreciate your use of private funds to support this great cause. You saved the city money. In stark contrast to the safety levy, you didn’t rely on taxpayer dollars for your initiative. Our city is better when the library is fully funded. Our city is better when those with the means support fantastic organizations like the United Way. We appreciate that you care enough about others to help support these wonderful institutions. There is NO shame in philanthropy, and we sincerely hope that you won’t be dissuaded from future donations because of ECB’s pathetic attempts to shame you. Great Falls is better when we take care of each other. We appreciate you being part of that. 

Read about our prior interactions with this confederacy of dunces here: https://wtf406.com/2023/04/wtf406-forces-anti-library-group-to-change-its-name/

Read about Tryon and friend’s history of attacking the library here:

https://wtf406.com/2023/07/city-commissioners-mckenney-and-tryon-hypocrites/

https://wtf406.com/2024/01/tryon-ignores-voters-threatens-library-funding/

https://wtf406.com/2023/08/city-commission-changes-the-rules-for-library-board-appointments/

https://wtf406.com/2023/10/quit-playing-games-with-my-town/

Here’s verification of the donors to the anti-library campaign. This, too, is public record.

These screenshots show the donations discussed above.  You can also see the records for yourself by searching Liberty and Values MT here: Campaign Electronic Reporting System (dashboard) (mt.gov)

 

 

UPDATE: A previous version of this article incorrectly indicated Beth Cummings was the latest hire at the elections office. This was inaccurate. Our eternal thanks to Jeni Dodd for bringing this mistake to our attention. We value her continued readership.