Let’s Talk About Sluts


That got your attention, right? Everyone likes to talk about sluts.  But what about slut-shaming?

yoga pantsEarlier this week, my daughter, Dayah Dover, a junior in high school, addressed the Billings school board regarding changes to the dress code.  Reading the nasty comments made not only directed to her-but to all women- in the comments of the Billings Gazette inspired my return to blogging after a year-long hiatus.

Across the country, middle and high schools are walking a very fine line between dress code enforcement and slut-shaming and increasingly our young women are getting an entirely different sort of education than they one we intended for them.  Skyview High School in Billings recently amended the school’s dress code to address articles of clothing the administration believes are distracting to boys.  Leggings, yoga pants, and jeggings are now banned unless they are worn with skirts, shorts or pants.  I don’t deny that schools  have the right to regulate the attire of students, but the justification of this policy smacks of slut-shaming.  To suggest that the attire of high school girls is responsible for boys’ bad behavior is truly alarming.  That school administrators would treat girls’ bodies as inherently distracting is an attitude deeply-rooted in rape culture and it is truly sad that Skyview Principal Deb Black, a female, continues to perpetuate this.

If boys are indeed unduly distracted by the presence of female curves, why aren’t we having discussions with our boys about respecting women and not objectifying them? This is like asking a rape victim what she was wearing, as if it contributed to her rape. We teach our girls to not get raped rather than teaching our boys to not rape.  “Boys will be boys”, right? Let’s just ban the offending garments, sending the message to our young girls that the behavior of the boys is justified due to the girls’ clothing choices.   We put the onus on our young women to not only assist in educating the boys but to also prevent themselves from being objectified.  This is shameful.  And what message are we sending our boys?  That they are have no free will at all- they are all just latent rapists and girls should modify their behavior to avoid provoking their lust?  Be honest. The articles of clothing aren’t distracting, young women’s bodies are.  julie mccartney

The typically reasonable blogger, James Conners of Flathead Memo today wrote I’m no fan of dress codes, but I’m also no fan of students’ wearing costumes that are intended to win, well, the agitated attention of the opposite sex. There’s a place for that, but it’s not in school. And those leggings clad lasses and their defenders know it.”  What??  I don’t know any woman who ever puts on an article of clothing with the intention of winning the “agitated attention of the opposite sex”, I certainly don’t.  Don’t flatter yourself, guys.  I can assure you that the reason we are wearing leggings is much more likely because we have our period and are bloated and uncomfortable than because we are trying to impress you.

What is the problem here?  Does nobody in Montana understand how these policies and the negative discussion surrounding them harms our teenagers?  Our girls already face inordinate pressure to maintain impossible standards of beauty- teaching them their bodies are something to be ashamed of is permanently damaging to self-esteem.  The teenage years are tough enough, why are school administrators contributing to such inherently negative ideas?

I’m sure there are students pushing dress code limits every day, that is what kids do, and that is why we set limits.  But these limits should promote the education of all students, not just one gender or population.  This isn’t about yoga pants, leggings or jeggings.  This isn’t even about the dress code.  This controversy underscores a serious societal problem that is being bolstered by sexist policies like Skyview’s and eliminating wardrobe items deemed too provocative or distracting addresses only a symptom, not the underlying issue.  This is an affront to equality and panders to a culture of victim blaming and slut shaming.  And is appalling.   Dayah started a petition at change.org to “Unban Yoga Pants and Leggings” at Skyview.  You can sign it here.  

craig moorestripper comments

The Injunction is Back!


From the MTCIA website

 

In a decision handed down late today, the Judge Reynolds in MTCIA et al., v. State of Montana, ordered that a preliminary injunction should again be in place in order to protect medical marijuana patients from irreparable harm.

This means that medical marijuana providers may (1) have more than 3 patients and (2) receive compensation for their service. The specific parts of the current medical marijuana law that have been BLOCKED by the court order are as follows:

50-46-308, MCA
(3) (a) (i) A provider or marijuana-infused products provider may assist a maximum of three registered cardholders.
(ii) A person who is registered as both a provider and a marijuana-infused products provider may assist no more than three registered cardholders.
(b) If the provider or marijuana-infused products provider is a registered cardholder, the provider or marijuana-infused products provider may assist a maximum of two registered cardholders other than the provider or marijuana-infused products provider.
(4) A provider or marijuana-infused products provider may accept reimbursement from a cardholder only for the provider’s application or renewal fee for a registry identification card issued under this section.
(5) Marijuana for use pursuant to this part must be cultivated and manufactured in Montana.
(6) A provider or marijuana-infused products provider may not:
(a) accept anything of value, including monetary remuneration, for any services or products provided to a registered cardholder;
(b) buy or sell mature marijuana plants, seedlings, cuttings, clones, usable marijuana, or marijuana-infused products.

A link to a copy of the order is below.

Other portions were previously blocked and those continue in place, including the prohibition on advertising and the mandatory investigation of doctors who make more than 25 medical marijuana recommendations per year.

This is outstanding news. DPHHS will NOT be sending notice out to approximately 5500 patients that they need to grow their own. Our attorneys Jim Goetz and Devlin Geddes have, again, done an amazing job protecting the rights of Montana’s patients and those who provide to them.

THANK YOU to all the supporters out there who have made this possible through you donations. You have done the patients in our state an incredible service in your faith in the MTCIA, our attorney and the case against the state.

We would also like to thank, posthumously, Lori Burnham, who made the long journey to Helena to testify on our behalf. She brought the courtroom to tears, and I have no doubt her testimony made a big impression on the judge. I will say it again, thank you Lori.

Chris

Order on Preliminary Injunction

Green Envy


While prohibitionists in Montana were celebrating the elimination of access for medical marijuana patients, Colorado and Washington were making history by voting to end prohibition in their states. Marijuana activists in Montana were unsuccessful in the 2012 election in an attempt to overturn SB-423, state Senator Jeff Essmann‘s draconian measure that essentially eliminates medical cannabis providers and thus access for most medical marijuana patients.  Although the results were not as we hoped, we actually did win on several levels.

First of all, marijuana patients, providers and activists were incredibly successful in making marijuana reform a mainstream issue that Montana’s politicians can no longer ignore.  Now that American support for ending prohibition is greater than support for either political party, we know that it is only a matter of time before Montana’s prohibitionist politicians realize that legalizing marijuana is a winning proposition.  Besides creating jobs and improving our economy, virtually all data indicates we can make our communities safer through thoughtful regulation than through prohibition.  Colorado and Washington’s absolutely historic decisions further weaken the already failed  war on drugs.  We are confident that science and compassion will eventually prevail in our state as well.

Republicans were largely unsuccessful in the 2012 general elections.  If the party cannot produce a candidate capable of beating the unpopular and polarizing Obama, Republicans need to conduct some serious self-examination.  Unless the party can somehow attract younger and independent voters the GOP will continue to lose national and statewide elections.  Independents and young voters are generally repelled by bigoted, prohibitionist platforms reminiscent of policies from a century ago.  Disturbing references like “legitimate rapes”  or calling babies conceived in the act of rape “gifts from God” serve to only to alienate women as well as compassionate and thinking human beings and this was confirmed by election results.

All is not lost for Montana Republicans though. The 2011 GOP God Squad lineup remains largely intact (with several additions and the removal of Knox)  as Montana’s prohibitionist legislators were rather successful in their bids for reelection. Some of Montana’s best and brightest Republicans will again be representing us in the state legislature.  John “I’ll only vote for marijuana if it is to put it on the noxious weeds list” Brenden won in SD 18 by a wide margin, as did Sarah Laszloffy, Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry alumnus and daughter of gay-hater Jeff Laszloffy of Montana Family Foundation infamy.  Park City Rep. David Howard, who we all remember from his Facebook post claiming that one could “catch AIDS from sharing used marijuana” won his race for HD 60 in a landslide.  We cannot forget to mention Rep. Cary Smith, husband of co-founded of Safe Communities, Safe Kids Susan Smith who easily beat Democrat and (also) prohibitionist Bob Winger easily.  Other notable prohibitionist winners were Krayton Kerns, Joanne Blyton, Bruce Tutvedt, Dennis Lenz, Doug Kary, Taylor Brown, Janna Taylor, Keith Regier, Scott Reichner, Wendy Warburton, Liz Bangerter, and Champ Edmunds.  Let’s not forget about Scott Sales, whose wife embezzled thousands of dollars from her own mother; dog murderer Roger Webb, and accused rapist Nicholas Schwaderer, who will also each be proudly representing their districts in Helena in January.

Although I generally think that the Republicans need to embrace the party’s fiscally conservative roots and to utilize their brains more effectively than their bibles in creating legislation, this advice obviously doesn’t apply to Montana, where the GOP’s new lineup promises more (humiliating) entertainment than the disastrous 2011 legislative session.

Meanwhile, I’m perusing Denver real estate listings.

 

 

GOP’s Fork in the Road (updated with statement from Corey Stapleton)


Today our following post appears on Montana Cowgirl as a guest analysis. Update:  Includes statement from Corey Stapleton following post.

GOP Gubernatorial hopeful Corey Stapleton’s latest ad, by highlighting elderly opponent Rick Hill’s various policy failures, accuses him of having “too much baggage” to effectively govern Montana.  The direct “baggage” in question includes supporting a state sales tax, chairing a board that supports Obamacare, and receiving “sweetheart real estate deals”. Among the indirect baggage (displayed in the ad on various pieces of luggage) is Jack Abramoff (Hill received substantial campaign donations from Abramoff, a lobbyist convicted of bilking tens of millions of dollars from Native American tribes), Ponzi Scheme (Hill fell victim to a Ponzi scheme and lost millions), Vietnam (Hill is allegedly a draft dodger) and Worker’s Comp (the program Hill claims to have reformed boasts the highest rates in the nation).   Not only has Rick Hill failed to deny any of these allegations, the Democrats conducted a fact check of the points made in Stapleton’s ad and determined it was factual.  Hill has consistently been absent from primary season’s conservative debates… perhaps to avoid answering tough questions.

What does Stapleton have to lose by “going negative” in this ad?  Unfortunately for Hill, sometimes the truth is negative and when one files to run for political office, ALL past actions are fair fodder. Stapleton was smart to focus on Hill’s various political inadequacies.  If he had instead created an ad to hit Hill personally by further exposing his extramarital affair with a Sip N’ Dip cocktail waitress, or Hill’s ex-wife publicly stating that Hill had abused her emotionally and had criticized her appearance and lack of education,  perhaps such a piece would qualify as an attack ad, and one taken right from Hill’s own playbook.

From High Country News:

“Rick Hill was so far behind in the polls last winter that his two Republican primary opponents said Hill wasn’t even a contender for Montana’s one seat in the House of Representatives. So Hill tried something. He went negative.  He attacked his Republican opponents, who both complained he was being nasty and unfair when he called them tax-and-spend liberals in bad disguises. But the strategy worked. Hill rallied in the final weeks of the campaign and won the primary with 44 percent of the vote, eight points more than his closest opponent.”

Hill’s record is chock-full of relevant accomplishments, there is no need to attack him personally.   For instance,

  • Hill edged out 433 other competitors to win the dubious honor of runner-up in the Worst Boss in Congress contest, which took into consideration that Hill had once thrown a letter opener at an aide and screamed “I don’t eat deli” when a staffer brought him the wrong type of sandwich.
  • Hill’s infamous criticism of childless opponent Nancy Keenan- Keenan had no choice in the matter due to a hysterectomy, an experience she called “devastating”.
  • Hill’s abysmal voting record
  • Hill’s ties to Triad Management, Inc; a shadowy shell group accused of numerous campaign finance law violations. After Hill expressed to Triad a need for a third party to attack opponent Bill Yellowtail for “wife beating”, the management firm funded brutal campaign ad attacks on Yellowtail. Particularly hypocritical was Hill’s statement “I stood up for my kids, he left his.” considering Hill’s refusal to leave a seedy lounge after his wife discovered him carousing with his younger lover while his young children waited in the car.

Vilifying Hill by citing any of his aforementioned imperfections seems more like educating voters than attacking an opponent.  Montanans have a right to hear the good, bad and in this case, the ugly truth about our candidates.   Rick Hill represents the worst part of the Republican party- the lobbyist fourth branch of government and for decades has said one thing and done another–all the while profiting handsomely off the political system. When Rick Hill quit Congress, more Montanans viewed him unfavorably than favorably, Stapleton’s ad addressing Rick Hill’s “baggage” simply reminds them why.

UPDATE:  Corey Stapleton has released the following statement:

To all who are interested,We received some interest surrounding the different allegations in my
campaign’s latest ad “Baggage”, which highlights some of my opponent Rick
Hill’s public choices.  I hide behind no lawyers, no employees, no spokesmen
who can say whatever–and then recant the following day (as we just saw with
Brock Lowrance, Hill’s campaign manager, switching his narrative from “not
only false but entirely fabricated” to admitting Hill did own the Helena
properties referenced as “Sweetheart Real Estate Deals”.)And of course, Rick Hill has not made any statements denying the bags.  It’s
important to know, as governor, the contrast of my openness and Hill’s hiding
behind spokesmen and lawyers, is germane to the character and integrity issues
brought up in ‘Baggage’, and further underscores our argument of his
unelectability as Governor.  We think it’s important to have transparency and
openness in our political leaders.  I will be that kind of Governor.I strongly stand by the ‘bags’ in our ad:“Vietnam”:  Selective Service record enclosed.

“Obamacare”:  Actions, not words.  When you sit on a board of directors you
are accountable for the actions of the organization.  When a ship runs aground
the captain is accountable, regardless.  This is a big deal in leadership, and
I feel passionately about this bag because it displays Hill’s hypocrisy:  Blue
Cross Blue shield is one of the biggest financial beneficiaries of Obamacare.
They spent $9.7 million in 2009 alone, lobbying for Obamacare.  They currently
have filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court—supporting the
‘individual mandate’ which is the backbone of Obamacare!  It is what it
is–Blue Cross/Blue Shield supported and is supporting Obamacare.  And Rick
Hill bragged on two occasions of “chairing a board of directors for one of
the largest insurance companies in America” at Republican Lincoln Reagan
dinners that I attended in 2011.  I took his statement at his word.  If it is
untrue that he chaired, but was rather a director, that is because we based
our statement on his.  And all directors of the Board are accountable to Blue
Cross’s actions.

I copy and paste right off Google (Mar 26, 2012):
legitgov
ShareThis
Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Mass. filed amicus brief in support of Obama’s
health-care law –In SCOTUS case, Obamacare has industry allies 26 Mar 2012
Lawyers from the health insurance and hospital industries have petitioned the
Supreme Court to save President Obama’s health-care law from a constitutional
challenge by 26 states and a small-business group, while other big-business
lobbies have stayed neutral. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts filed an
amicus brief with the court in support of Obama’s Department of Health & Human
Services. The insurer writes that it played a central role in crafting Mitt
Romney’s Massachusetts health-care law that served as the prototype of
Obamacare… On the question of constitutionality, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of
Massachusetts argues that the individual mandate is “a valid exercise of the
Commerce Power because Congress had a rational basis for concluding that, in
the aggregate, the practice of self-insuring for the cost of health care
substantially affects interstate commerce.”

My plea to Montana:  Do not be fooled by the entities or politicians who hide
their actions behind confusing words and legal mumbo jumbo.  Blue Cross is a
good company, but their corporate structure allows them scalability when it
suits their purpose and deniability when it doesn’t.  We need leaders to hold
both our corporations, unions AND our government accountable.

“Sweetheart Real Estate Deals”:  Rick Hill admitted on Aaron Flint’s “Voices
of Montana” radio show last year to a caller’s question regarding such real
estate.  Hill responded that he hadn’t had that property “since 2002 or 2003″.

“$400 million tax”:  Hill lobbied for passage of former Gov. Marc Racicot’s
sales tax proposal.

“Workers Comp”:  Hill routinely takes credit for his role in the 1990′s
workers comp overhaul…fastforward: Montana’s Workers Comp was routinely
panned as one of the worst in the country in the 2011 Legislature.  If you
want credit for the fix you get credit for the failure, too.

“Jack Abramoff”:  Congressman Hill received donations from Jack Abramoff.

“Ponzi Scheme Lawsuit”:  Rick Hill constantly touts his success in business on
the campaign trail.  He made millions of dollars in the insurance business,
but then lost those millions in the investment business.  Victim or Baggage?
You decide..because I can’t—Hill’s pre-emptive lawsuit, and his role in the
investment scam, won’t be determined until sometime after the Primary
election–when it would be too late for Republicans to act (should they
nominate Hill).  Montanans deserve to know why Hill filed a lawsuit several
months after filing for office.  See enclosure

“Lobbyist”:  Rick Hill was a registered lobbyist for the past decade, since he
left Congress.

All of the bags in “Rick Hill’s Baggage” are tied to public records.  While
“Baggage” might be tough on Hill, it is fair.

Sincerely,

Corey Stapleton
Candidate for Montana Governor

 Click on the links below for more information:

2012 Montana Cannabis Voters Guide


The 2012 Montana Cannabis Voters Guide is out and we are asking readers, including candidates, for input.  Due to the high number of filings this year as well as space limitations, we didn’t list every contributing factor in our decision whether we rated the candidate as mixed record/unclear, friendly or unfriendly to our cause.  We took into consideration established voting records (especially votes in favor of HB-161, the repeal bill), legislative hearing testimony, public statements, and conversations with constituents and activists.  We also ensured that any statements candidates made about the issue were consistent with their votes.  In most cases, this was not the case.

Several candidates and activists have emailed us with additional information about themselves, their opponents, or others running for office in Montana and we have updated the guide to reflect the new information.Thank you to all who have contributed, we encourage you to continue contacting candidates. This issue is contentious and assessing the information has been rather difficult.  Many legislators who supported regulating medical marijuana in Montana actually voted to repeal its use entirely and the legislative hearings were rife with miscalculations, exaggerations, and blatant lies.  Sorting through all of this was quite a feat.

Among the helpful sources (in addition to Montana news media and political blogs) we used in making our determinations were the following:

Montana LAWS website      Project Vote Smart       Montana Drug Policy             MTConnect’s YouTube channel

Interestingly enough, yesterday montanafesto had the highest daily number of hits ever, which is quite an accomplishment considering the number of hits during the last legislative session- and nearly all of the hits were on the cannabis voting guide.  This is very encouraging to us as it suggests that our community is engaged and interested.  Please help prove, by voting in upcoming elections, that we are a powerful voting bloc.  We do not profess to be the definitive authority on the cannabis stance of candidates so please use this guide in addition to your own research. Continue checking this guide as we are adding new information everyday.

Attn candidates and readers:  Please comment on this post or email us at montanafesto@live.com (to maintain anonymity)  if you would like to add information about a candidate.  Thanks!

 

 

Pastimes of the Virtuous


                                                                                                                                             

Righteous David Howard, whose is apparently a minister of the Lord, enjoys very interesting videos in his spare time.

Screenshots like this don’t require further commentary.  Thankfully Rep. David Howard, of Montana’s GOP God Squad infamy, has a contested primary June 5.  Republicans may want to check out his conservative competition- Kathy Harman and Dale Milligan.  Democrat Jim Dickey will face the winner of the primary in November to battle for HD 60.

Other than that, I’m pretty speechless.

 

Montana’s Politicians… An Impotent Lot


We tell the feds to get lost when it comes to healthcare, wolves, and guns, but those we elected beg for help from the federal government to enforce marijuana laws? Please.

Today we learned that Montana medical marijuana advocate Tom Daubert was able to negotiate a plea deal with federal prosecutors. Daubert is the founder of Patients and Families United, a medical marijuana advocacy group. He was influential in the drafting of I-148, the initiative that Montana voters approved overwhelmingly to legalize medical marijuana in 2004.  Daubert was also a one of a handful of partners in Montana Cannabis, one of several caregivers who were raided in March of 2011.  Others involved in Montana Cannabis have not been quite so fortunate as they were recently indicted on multiple federal counts of conspiracy, cultivation, and gun charges.  According to news reports,  Daubert has agreed to plead guilty to a charge of “conspiracy to maintain a drug-involved premises”. Unlike the charges Daubert’s former partners are facing, his doesn’t carry a mandatory minimum sentence.  Recent federal cases have indicated that this is an increasingly common charge by the feds- especially when cases against the accused are relatively weak and built primarily on circumstantial evidence.

Montana’s indicted cannabis caregivers have accepted plea deals featuring significant charge and sentence reductions (most sentences range from 6 – 18 months in federal prison) although they were also subject to massive asset forfeitures and additional fines.  So far though, it appears nearly everyone has been negotiating with the feds, but what happens to those who refuse the plea deals?

Lindsey's legal practice is built upon helping clients adhere to state law. He now faces mandatory minimum sentences of 690 years as a result.

Take, for instance; Chris Lindsey.  He is a soft-spoken, educated, non-violent intellectual. He is a husband and a father to a young son.  Lindsey, a Missoula attorney, served as in-house legal counsel for Montana Cannabis (yes, Tom Daubert’s company) for less than a year.  He left the company a full fourteen months before the March 2011 raids that preceded these federal indictments.  He was indicted last week on a long list of federal conspiracy, drug, and gun charges.  The guns weren’t his. He wasn’t a drug dealer and as far as conspiracy goes, well, I suppose I’m breaking some of those federal statutes simply by writing this post.  Chris has built his legal practice around helping Montana’s medical marijuana patients adhere to state law.  He has not been accused of breaking any of Montana’s statutes and yet he is unable legally to use his clear compliance with state law in his federal defense.  He says he can’t accept a plea deal on something he believes in. So what does that mean for Chris?  Brace yourself.

Mandatory minimums on his charges amass sentences of 690 years in federal prison.  Maximum sentences are 25 consecutive life terms plus an additional 85 years.  What purpose do we serve by incarcerating a productive professional with no history of criminal activity- someone who has never been accused of any sort of violence?  This is a travesty of epic proportions.  Keep in mind that there is no parole in federal prison and that convicts must serve 85% of their sentences.  Doesn’t this make you wonder why those who make a deal (thus maintaining frightening and artificially high federal conviction rates ) are criminals who upon acceptance of a plea deal, are instantly benign enough to warrant sentences averaging one year yet those who value their principles enough to defend them in a court of law are scary enough for consecutive life sentences?

Our state government allows this injustice, without so much as a complaint. While politicians from other states protest the federal crackdown medical marijuana, those from Montana are silent. Montana politicians typically claim to exhibit a sort of libertarian-streak that is native to our people- people who just want to be left alone.  In reality however, our politicians are pussies.  Nearly every one of them.  They are too worried about being reelected to actually take a stand to protect the very people who elected them.  From our Congressional delegation to our local sheriffs, Montana politicians LOVE federal intervention on marijuana cases.  In fact, instead of actually working with our existing state law, state law enforcement often refused to prosecute those in defiance of the law in order to set up a repeal of I-148 in our last legislative session.  Rumor has it, to ensure a repeal, our elected officials even worked with federal agents to schedule a key legislative vote simultaneously with dramatic federal raids taking place in the state capital, as well as cities across the state.  On one Republican state representative’s Facebook page, he declared immediately after the raids  “Praise the Lord and Praise the Feds”.  I guess these faux Libertarian-minded Montanans believe they can deal with everything on the state level- healthcare, wolves, guns- everything but the “scourge of Montana” (yes, another state legislator called it that), marijuana.

Our governor, Brian Schweitzer, did absolutely nothing to protect Montanans from federal intervention.  Rep. Denny Rehberg and Sen. Jon Tester are fighting for Tester’s US Senate seat.  Conveniently, neither of them have stood up to federal medical marijuana intervention.  Max Baucus recently announced his intent to run for reelection in 2014- has he taken a stand?  Nope.  Our attorney general, Steve Bullock, who has continuously opposed legislation as well as legal maneuvers designed to protect patients, now wants to be our governor.  Nearly all of the prohibitionists in our state legislature are running for either reelection or election to yet another state office.  If our state governments refuse to protect us from the tyrannical federal government by use of the “supremacy clause” and a disgustingly broad interpretation of the commerce clause via Raich v Gonzales, what is the point of having state governments at all?
As we head farther into campaign season, let me remind you all that politicians are the biggest criminals alive.  We reward them with our votes and pay them healthy salaries with our taxes. We subsidize the failed war on drugs by allowing our government to perpetuate violent crime on our borders in the name of security. I am BEGGING you all, please do NOT disappoint me.  Get your asses out June 5 in primary elections and don’t you DARE neglect to vote in the general election November 6.   I do not feel safer with Chris Lindsey behind bars- or Tom Daubert, for that matter, do you?

Montana’s politicians are vacillating, submissive cowards and it is high time for some outrage from Montana’s citizens, this is embarrassing. 

Again, Please Update Your Bookmarks…..


We apologize for changing my mind….. again.  Late last year, we purchased the domain montanafesto.org in hopes that we could easily transition montanafesto’s readers to the new domain which would essentially be the same site, but with added features.  We urged followers to update their bookmarks and to subscribe to the new site instead, but few did.  No matter how much we promoted the new site on Facebook and Twitter, very few people visited the new site (they all continued to visit the original) so we felt obligated to post on both sites.  We finally just decided to go back to the old one, it continually receives countless more hits than the other.  If you were one of the few who did actually update your bookmarks, we apologize.

Common Sense Conservatives, Lobbyist Lovers, Rookies… Montana’s GOP Gubernatorial Crop


This year, Montana’s Republican Party has an opportunity to change the face of the GOP, to elect competent bright leaders who are unsullied by incestuous relationships with lobbyists.  Who will win the GOP Gubernatorial nomination and perhaps defeat Steve Bullock in the general election?

Stapleton/Keenan- Tonight via a teleconference town hall, GOP Gubernatorial candidate Corey Stapleton announced his selection of former Montana Senate President Bob Keenan as his running mate.  Stapleton and Keenan were both elected by their peers to lead the Montana Senate, Stapleton in 2007 as Minority Leader and Keenan as 2003 Senate President.   Stapleton bested all of the other candidates in the last fundraising quarter and will surely benefit from Senator Jeff Essmann bowing out of the race, especially considering they both hail from Yellowstone County.  Keenan lost the 2006 Senate Primary against scandal-plagued incumbent Conrad Burns who went on to lose the race to Jon Tester.

Ken Miller/Bill Gallagher- Ken Miller recently announced that Bill Gallagher of Public Service Commission infamy will be his running mate.  A political newcomer, Gallagher adds virtually nothing to Miller’s colorful resume of non-accomplishments (dairy farming, woodcrafter, construction worker, former furniture outlet owner, former GOP party chair).  Miller’s last run for governor resulted in a third-place finish in the four-way primary.

Rick Hill/Jon Sonju- Hill leads the other nominees in fundraising, but any support for his campaign seems reluctant at best and his “family values” are at the bottom of the pack.  I will excerpt Montana Cowgirl for this commentary as I’m frankly too bored and irritated by this sleazy ticket to come up with anything original:

“Sonju and Hill have both earned a huge portion of their wealth from Government spending. Some of this spending has provided good stimulus for Montana; others, like the giant payments to Hill’s landlord business, are wasteful and sleazy. These contracts were most likely over-market, sweetheart, inflated rent payments. They were put under Hill’s Christmas tree by his buddies Martz and Racicot, and Hill collected this easy cash for decades while he was a sitting Congressman and also while his wife was in the Governor’s office puling the strings. It’s not pure welfare, but it’s pretty close.”

Neil Livingstone/Ryan Zinke-  The Livingstone-Zinke ticket is having difficulties fundraising and there have been few, if any; sightings of their flashy campaign RV. Livingstone is known far-more for his international terrorist-hunting/negotiating escapades than for any activity in Montana.

Bob Fanning/Chuck Baldwin- This ticket frightens me.  I will leave it at that.

Antisocial conservatism: Jesus, please protect me from your followers


The socially conservative members of today’s Republican Party tout their moral superiority at every opportunity.  When one of them is caught violating those precious family values, they are quick with excuses like “God has forgiven me” or “Blame it on my undying patriotism.”  What exactly does “family values” mean to the GOP arbiters of virtue?

Marriage is sacred:  This means marriage between a man and a woman.  Cheat on your spouse, divorce, marry the mistress, that is your business. Pre-marital sex is taboo and allowing any access to contraception would lead to an epidemic of immoral sexual activity.  Extramarital sex is none of our business, though.  Shhh.  Gays should not have the right to marry because such acts endanger the sanctity of traditional marriage.  Marriage, you see, is an agreement with society.  It is easy to understand how such an agreement between two same-gendered humans who are committed to one another would threaten the very core of American families.  For this reason, much of our time and resources are spent fighting all attempts to legitimize state-supported legal “rights” for an unnatural and unhealthy lifestyle condemned by God.  Thankfully we have heroes like Dr. Marcus Bachmann whose “pray away the gay” clinics have given homosexuals opportunities to cleanse themselves of the demons that influenced their choice to be gay.   Note: This can all be explained

All human life is precious.  Stem cells, embryos, and fetuses cannot protect themselves so we have  a moral responsibility to legislate and regulate proper treatment of unborn life. After birth though, watch out.  If you need medical care and cannot afford it, ask your church, I’m sure they will provide.  If you would like to use cannabis to relieve pain, sorry; that would require violating the law, which is immoral.  (See War section). If you have a terminal illness and would like to die with dignity, our religious beliefs require you to suffer,  but we do promise to pray for your eternal salvation.  God works in mysterious ways and you never know when to expect a miracle.  If you commit a heinous crime- like selling marijuana- we believe the death penalty is justified.  All life is precious so we remain committed to eliminating access to abortion, abolishing stem cell research, preventing death with dignity/assisted suicides, and to ensuring that depraved criminals are rewarded with death.  If you happen to be a suspected terrorist, add torture to the list.  And don’t you dare bring science into our schools.  Note: Education enhances rational thinking and provides people with rational, non-mystical mechanisms for understanding the world. 

War, the price of Freedom. We never met a war we didn’t like, but if we are criticized, we will call you unpatriotic.  After all, our soldiers are giving their lives to ensure we remain free.  Speaking of free, did I mention we incarcerate more people per capita than any other nation on earth?  This is to keep you safe.  Speaking of safety, did I mention the Patriot Act?  We named it such to promote unconstitutional acts as essential to fighting the global War on Terror.  We generally only use the Patriot Act to spy on suspected drug dealers, but this is to keep your children safe.  You don’t want your kids addicted to drugs now, do you? Marijuana is only a stepping stone toward addiction to methamphetamine and heroin, culminating in near-certain death which in itself justifies the War on Drugs.  Note: Violence and herd mentalities reign supreme in a low-IQ idiocracy. 

Less government, more freedom. We believe in personal responsibility. We want the government out of our lives, but only after we have eliminated prostitution, pornography, homosexual sex, drugs and other sinful behaviors from our nation.  We owe it to our children to remove all temptation from our lives so we can remain free.  Just wait until you experience the sort of freedom we have after all choice is eliminated.  Note: religion helps people confront the terror of uncertainty in their lives. 

In time, education and evolution will hopefully bring upon the extinction of the Social Conservative Big Government Statist.  The ideology is simply too contradictory to endure.  Dedicated followers of peace-loving Jesus Christ,  these Americans are the staunchest supporters of every violent military intervention in my lifetime.  They defend the military use of torture.  They believe in criminalizing consensual sex acts. They oppose most programs to help the sick and poor, yet have no problem with the government interfering in the doctor-patient relationship to make personal healthcare decisions.  Social conservatives use the bible to support prohibition of cannabis use, ignoring science completely. Historically, this faction of Americans promoted slavery and alcohol prohibition, fought women’s suffrage, and justified Jim Crow laws.  Fail, fail, fail, and FAIL.

The Republican Party needs to publicly repudiate this uneducated and profoundly irrational segment of its population in favor of some moderation.  It is time that the GOP re-examine the tenets of its philosophy and to if nothing more, be honest about family “values”.  It is embarrassing to rational Republicans that social conservatives continue preaching less government while promoting intrusion into our bedrooms, homes and daily lives.  My Republican Party restricts government, not freedom.

Adios Assmann!


Essentially citing lackluster support, tax-loving prohibitionist Senator Jeff Essmann has decided to focus on electing Republicans rather than waste his coin losing the 2012 GOP Gubernatorial primary election. While I can hardly control my excitement, I must admit that some part of me  was looking forward to obtaining the inevitable and infinite fodder for critique at the Yellowstone Young Republicans Gubernatorial Debate scheduled for February 9 in Billings.  Anyone who has witnessed Jeff Essmann partake in an original soliloquy knows exactly what I’m talking about.  Considering that the questions asked in the debate will not be shared with the candidates prior, one can only imagine the panic Essmann must have been experiencing.

Judging from the comments on the Billings Gazette article announcing Essmann dropping from the race, this decision has elated many Montanans.

 

Although Essmann didn’t endorse another candidate, he implied that he will be supporting Rick Hill. Many are speculating that Essmann was forced from the race after the Hill campaign discovered a scandal.  The Senator mentioned that he plans to return campaign donations… I urge those of you who contributed to Essmann to donate those funds to the campaign of Corey Stapleton.  I look forward to seeing you all at the GOP Gubernatorial debate in Billings February 9, hosted by the Yellowstone Young Republicans.

I’d also like to see approximately five of the current (crowded) GOP field of 8, after Essmann’s departure; drop out to provide a clear contrast among the remaining candidates. The filing fee exceeds some of the entire campaign treasuries of candidates and any who are unable to raise enough cash to pay for the filing fee are likely not the over-achiever we need in Montana’s Capitol.

James Knox Not Running for Re-Election, Blames Others


Merry Christmas to Montana’s HD 47.  Hopefully in 2012, you will elect someone less embarrassing to our state.  James Knox has decided that living in Houston isn’t conducive to legislating in Montana.  It isn’t his fault though… don’t blame his lies, bizarre and dramatic stories (remember the marijuana addict brother), or non-denials (he can’t recall whether he’s ever been a drug dealer).  It is because he cannot find a job and he lost his home.  So many forces seemed to push him away……  I readily admit that I was one of those forces.   Montana, you are welcome.

War on Weed: Obama’s Department of Injustice


GUEST POST:

The Obama administration has been working very hard lately enforcing the letter of the federal law.  No, they aren’t considering prosecuting even a single person for the financial frauds which nearly collapsed the markets. Nope, not protecting our border either. Obama and his scandal-plagued Dept. of Justice, DEA, ATF & IRS are staging a crushing blow to legal and safe access to cannabis for America’s ill.

Four U.S. Attorneys from California–along with their respective counterparts  in Washington D.C. from the DEA and IRS declared that a statewide crackdown against large-scale medical cannabis cultivators and sellers with national implications is currently underway.

• Earlier this week, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a long-awaited $2.5 million ruling against a major medical cannabis dispensary in California. Citing an obscure part of the US tax code meant to target drug cartels, the federal agency is barring dispensaries, even those licensed under state law, from taking any business-related tax deductions and is seeking millions in dollars in back taxes.
This adverse ruling has the very real potential to stop the regulated sale of cannabis
currently underway in California, Colorado, Maine and New Mexico; and planned in
Arizona, Montana, Delaware, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C
• The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) issued a heavy-handed one-page memo to every gun and ammunition dealer nationwide informing them that they must, by law, deny sales to physician-recommended cardholding patients who use medical cannabis– effectively denying their Second Amendment rights to own a firearm for personal safety, hunting, or simply to avoid a tyrannous federal government.
• Federal regulators cracked down on banks in Colorado, California and Michigan that had
previously conducted business with medical cannabis dispensaries, barring these financial institutions from accepting cash deposits or processing credit/debit cards from state or locally approved canna-businesses.
• U.S. Attorneys in California sent warnings to local dispensaries in San Francisco, San Diego,and elsewhere warning that locally compliant facilities are still subject to federal
prosecution for violating federal ‘drug free school zones’ legislation — leaving these facilities with no choice but to either move or close.
• Federal attorneys in California have sent hundreds of legal warnings to the landlords of properties that rent to medical cannabis businesses (retail, delivery, cultivation and testing) warning that their properties and assets are subject to swift civil forfeiture proceedings, and that they personally could face decades in prison. In addition, the DOJ is assaulting our first amendment rights, also targeting all radio, TV, print and other media outlets that currently advertise  medical marijuana businesses.
• Rhode Island’s governor Lincoln Chafee pulled the plug on the state’s nascent medical
cannabis dispensary program, despite it having been previously approved 102 – 3 by the state legislature. Why? Governor Chafee cites recent memos from the Department of Justice threatening to federally prosecute employees involved in the state-licensed production or distribution of cannabis.
• Michigan courts, the legislature and the state’s Attorney General are steadily dissembling the state’s medical cannabis program, despite the law having passed with 63 percent public approval.

So why the about-face?  It could be simply a distraction from  Eric Holder & the ATF’s Fast & Furious scandal.  Perhaps to blame is fear that the cannabis industry is gaining strength & funds to fight this.  Is the Obama administration flexing its muscle or attempting to appeal to the tough-on-drugs Republicans?

Or, maybe…..the Obama administration is simply assisting GW Pharma & Novartis with eliminating the competition in preparation for the release of Sativex.  Essentially, under the guise of FDA safety, patients will be forced to buy an expensive pharmaceutical that they could grow themselves for pennies.   From GW’s website:

Q.

Does approval of Sativex by a national medicines regulatory authority mean that herbal cannabis will also be legal in that country?

No. Regulatory approvals from medicines regulatory authorities are specific to Sativex® – there is no change in the law relating to cannabis. Any changes in regulations to permit Sativex to be prescribed would apply only to such an approved product and would have no direct consequence for the legal status of herbal cannabis for recreational and medical use. This is true for all countries around the world, including the United States.

If the FDA approves Sativex, and it appears they will; how will they justify allowing Big Pharma the right to pursue the profitable medical marijuana market, while threatening thousands of patients using state-licensed cannabis with federal intervention, asset forfeiture and prison terms? And how will they ever explain all of the lies?

2011-10-08-imagecharts-Presidents_Medical_Marijuana_MPP.png


Senator Jeff Essmann’s Taxing History


Jeff Essmann announced tonight that he will GASP be running for Governor of Montana.  In an uncomfortably awkward conference call- townhall meeting, Essmann prosaically  listed his accomplishments, forgetting all about the legislation that provided him essential name-recognition. His fluffer, Senator Jason Priest; assisted with creating some faux passion for the candidate who is generally regarded as the epitome of dull.  As Essmann would launch into another list of accomplishments, occasionally Senator Priest would stop him, exclaiming “I’m sorry to interrupt you, Senator Essmann, but what you just said was pretty exciting! Perhaps you’d like to share more about that with callers.” Repeated themes throughout the “event” included:  resisting the Obama agenda, standing up to federal intrusion in our state, and “Essmann with 2 Ns”.  The callers seemed to be plants- although many cannabis patients and providers on the call tried to ask questions, none of them were able.

My favorite caller was Warren, from Lolo. He is a retired, older gentleman living on a fixed income.  Although he owns his home, he suspects he will soon be forced to sell it as the property taxes are very high.  It is interesting that Warren mentions this issue, actually; he certainly was talking to the appropriate person anyway.  You see, Essmann’s legislation, a re-write of HB 658, was an attempt to mitigate the financial sting of property reappraisals.  The attempt backfired and instead of lessening the blow, Montanans were slapped with the largest property tax increases in their lifetimes… during an economic recession.

So, Warren; does that answer your question? Essmann, a self described “conservative republican” is no stranger to funding government growth with tax proceeds-in fact, he proposed adding a local sales tax as well. As the unpopular candidate struggles to stand out in a like-minded crowd his insatiable appetite for taxes will set him almost certainly set him apart from the pack.  Currently, nine GOP candidates are vying for the position of Governor, all of whom happen to be more interesting and well-liked than Senator Essmann.

Rescinding Rights, Perpetuating a Lie: Propping up the Drug War to Justify Gun Control


The ATF will do anything to catch criminals, even create them. For years the Obama administration, with the assistance of the media has carefully fed us the falsity that 90% of all firearms seized from violent Mexican drug cartels originated in the United States.  Never questioning our porous borders or lack of immigration enforcement, many simply accepted the claim.  Recent revelations have unfortunately indicated that this narrative is indeed partially true, although not for the reasons one would think. According to investigations, the Obama administration used federal agencies armed with stimulus cash, primarily the BATFE,  to supply weapons to our Mexican enemies in the “war on drugs”, also exchanging information with the Sinaloa Cartel allowing them access to sell cocaine in our country.  Using the “logic” that tracking these weapons would lead to arrests of higher ranking criminals, the agency curiously failed to initiate any recognizable plan to actually track them. So, ATF agents supplied violent drug cartels with thousands of guns, many of which were later involved in heinous crimes, some resulting in deaths of Americans.  Failing to acknowledge the inconsistencies within the bureau’s plan, Obama instead issued an executive order calling for more gun control.  With evidence mounting, ATF director Kenneth Melson was eventually fired…. I mean transferred.  Former Minnesota US Attorney, B. Todd Jones was hired to replace him.  After crafting the rhetoric to sell the crisis they created, Jones promised to get the agency back on track.

“There are going to be some changes that happen, and there’ll be a refocusing on our primary mission, which is violent crime.”

Only twelve days later, the embattled agency issued a letter reiterating and clarifying an unenforceable policy prohibiting state-licensed medical marijuana patients from possessing or buying firearms or ammunition.So much for refocusing the ATF’s mission on violent crime. The information in the letter, sent to firearms dealers; is nothing new, in fact; the Gun Control Act of 1968 specifically prohibits firearms ownership and use from the following:

  • Persons under indictment for, or convicted of, any crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding on year;
  • Fugitives from justice;
  • Persons who are unlawful users of, or addicted to, any controlled substance;
  • Persons who have been declared by a court as mental defectives or have been committed to a mental institution;
  • Illegal aliens, or aliens who were admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa;
  • Persons who have been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces;
  • Persons who have renounced their United States citizenship;
  • Persons subject to certain types of restraining orders; and
  • Persons who have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

Because the federal government doesn’t recognize lawful marijuana use by anyone (not even the four patients who are supplied with marijuana by the federal government) this is no surprise. While the content is not new, with the sweep of a pen, an estimated 500,000+ otherwise law-abiding citizens had their second amendment rights rescinded. No mention of alcoholics, oxycontin snorters or gas huffers, the dangers posed by medical marijuana patients owning firearms far outweigh any potential benefits, right?

Careful analysis of the ATF’s Project Gunrunner and Fast and Furious, including resulting Department of Justice actions, suggests that the scandals were not so much botched law enforcement surveillance but Cloward-Piven style strategy, demonizing firearms dealers and American gun owners in hopes of obtaining the necessary political capital to enact sweeping gun reforms, including the UN Small Arms Treaty, which places the responsibility of regulating American’s firearms in the hands of United Nations.  The BATFE letter is perhaps a distraction from the corrupt and paradoxical realities in the agency.  More likely, however; the ATF is simply following orders from the White House.

Obama as well as many in his administration have records of hostility to medical marijuana rights as well as firearms rights.  In fact, after campaigning with promises to stop raiding medical marijuana facilities, Obama’s DEA has managed to rack up more raids in three years than agencies under Bush accomplished in eight. Americans for Safe Access gave Obama a failing grade for his marijuana policies.  During his campaign for the Presidency, Obama said “I have no intention of taking away folks’ guns” yet he appointed two Supreme Court justices who will do it for him. His anti-gun rights record is hard to argue.

Over 200 people are dead as a result of the US government’s new role as an arms dealer to our southern neighbors while also providing millions in foreign aid to Mexico for the expressed purpose of combating the cartels that we are also funding. If nothing else, we are wasting massive amounts of money funding both sides of a conflict we never intend to win. This war has no defined goals or targets… it was obviously meant to never end.  If the US isn’t able to enforce its own drug laws without first breaking them, perhaps we should utilize a new strategy.

Ron Paul 2012.

Houston, You Have our Problem


Rep Knox is now living in Texas. Their loss, our gain.

Montana’s favorite state representative James Knox now resides in West Houston although he is quick to remind his loyal Facebook friends again and again that the position is a temporary one. While he collects his healthy $733/month health benefits, compliments of Montana’s taxpayers, he is actually contributing to the Texas economy as opposed to the one in the state he was elected.  Claiming Montana Job Service was only able to offer him work as an independent Avon representative, he was forced to look for work out of state and thankfully was able to obtain a position with Peak Energy Systems on a “Dell/Exxon project”. After only two days on the job, he “was asked to take on more” and after only three days of training is already a “team lead” (sic).

He has settled in nicely to life in the Gulf, frequently enjoying his “favorite sticks” – “great Alex (sic) Bradley Black Market 6×60″ or a “JDR (sic)Titan Madiro” on his patio. For those of you who aren’t brothers of the leaf or true aficionados; “sticks” are cigars, one of Knox’s many legal, health-conscious and high-class habits. Cigar smoking, according the American Medical Association, contributes to myriad health problems including several forms of cancer and…. uh oh, heart disease. The risk of heart disease is 27% higher in cigar smokers than non-smokers and those smokers who also enjoy the occasional alcoholic beverage (Knox has been known to imbibe frequently and was often spotted wearing soiled wife-beater style tank tops at various Billings liquor stores while campaigning in 2010) are more than 8 times more likely than non-smokers to acquire mouth and throat cancers.  Hmm. Sounds like he might end up being very expensive.

Although Knox admittedly and proudly has several serious vices of his own, he is quick to criticize state-licensed medical marijuana patients and cannot remember if he has sold drugs in the past.  His wife once commented that she was actually excited that proposed legislation would take medical marijuana away from patients. One would think that a frugal TEA person type conservative like Mr. Knox would be doing everything in his power to avoid wasting our tax dollars, but from Knox’s photo, he and his wife both appear to be at high risk of extremely expensive health problems.  Thankfully, as long as he is a Montana State Representative, our tax dollars will provide the health insurance that will not only pay for his next heart attack, but also spread the liability across the group, effectively raising rates for everyone.

According to his Facebook posts, James Knox is well on the path to success. I suppose success means very different things to different people though, as James recently lost his business, KBS Computer Solutions, see reviews here. Maybe he feels he is so accomplished because he pulled off the ultimate caper, effectively fooling the voters of Montana House District 47 into electing him.  Barely able to form an intelligible sentence, he saddled the tea party wave to a 2010 victory.  He proudly served his 90 days in the legislature (minus the ones he spent in the hospital after suffering a major heart attack only days into the legislative session) making quite a name for himself, with testimony like this.

Knox also told a few of the biggest lies of the session, which was quite a feat considering the talent displayed by his competition.James Knox is also a big hypocrite, claiming he “practices what he preaches” while he essentially steals from his employees by neglecting to pay them.  When his four figure radio advertising bill was past due, the radio station attempted to negotiate the total with Knox, offering to write off 50% of the total. When Knox learned he wouldn’t be able to advertise with the station until the remaining bill was paid, he threw a glass of orange juice on the young female salesperson.  Knox was investigated for inappropriate conduct with the female pages during the legislative session. Mr Knox, I have heard that everything is bigger in Texas, now I know that is true.  We would like to wish Rep Knox the best of luck in his Texas endeavors.  If collecting health insurance compliments of Montana taxpayers while he abuses his body in Texas is the only additional price we pay due to this unfortunate choice by the uninformed electorate, we will consider ourselves truly blessed.  Perhaps now that Ron Paul isn’t running for reelection, Knox sees an opportunity in the Lone Star State.  He’s all yours.

The Knox family has been unsuccessful in locating a Christ-filled church in Houston. Perhaps Christ is afraid to be associated with someone so self-righteous.

Should Knox’s new position indeed be temporary and he runs for reelection, he will be happy to know that he is going to have some more moderate and reasonable competition in the Republican primary,  Stay tuned.

Mrs. Knox’s Under-Frocks


First of all, let me offer a pre-apology for this post.  You will understand after reading it.

Mr and Mrs Knox were getting ready for their big move to another state.  Apparently, Mrs. Knox forgot some key garments in her luggage and needed to borrow some from her hubby, our favorite tea person legislator, Rep. James Knox, who proudly represents the Billings Heights.  Shhhh…. don’t tell Alicia although I’m sure she won’t mind.  James Knox… always the gentleman.

Know Your Place, Shut Your Face.


Last week, in hopes of providing some much needed publicity for IR-124, I sent the following letter to the editor to 28 small town newspapers in Eastern Montana.  

During Montana’s 2011 legislative session, 113 of our elected representatives, in direct contradiction of the expressed will of 62% of the people, imposed their personal social agenda on the rest of Montana by approving a repeal of Montana’s medical marijuana law. The lawmakers, after neglecting in several sessions to draft thoughtful reform legislation, approved Sen Jeff Essmann’s 33 page repeal bill and proudly announced to the 276,042 Montana voters who approved the state’s original law (I-148) that they were simply fulfilling voter intent.  To combat this legislative action, the IR-124 campaign was launched. If successful, Montana voters will have the opportunity in 2012 to vote on this unpopular- and recently ruled unconstitutional- piece of legislation. 

What happened to the will of the people?  This is an opportunity to assert your rights as a Montana citizen.  A legislative repeal of a citizens initiative sets a dangerous precedent and regardless of how Montanans actually feel about medical marijuana, it is difficult to understand how ANY could argue against empowering voters by allowing them to choose the fate of the law.  Time will tell whether this was or wasn’t what Montanans voted for, but “voter intent” should be decided by voters. 

If you are interested in helping with our efforts, would like to sign the petition, or desire more information, we’d love to hear from you. Visit our website, patientsforreform.org,   call Randy or Darcy Warburton, (trained Sheridan County petitioners) at406.580.5046 or me at  406.208.0204

While some of the editors responded almost immediately to express their interest and willingness to print the letter, others, not surprisingly; said nothing. For those of you who may not know, I grew up in Sheridan County, Montana (where you can see both Canada and North Dakota from your porch) and earlier this week, I accepted a job offer and moved somewhat reluctantly to Plentywood.  While I’m happy to be closer to my family, I am not looking forward to the harsh realities of life up here- like the brutal winters and the ever-present small town ignorance.  Which takes me back to my letter….

I’ve written a few letters to the editor in my life and although mine have virtually always been printed, I’ve learned a bit about the process through the years… most newspapers have a few guidelines, many have a word limit- often 250 or less- and most require authentication of the letter- either via call, email, or letter.  I know most of the people who work for the local newspaper, The Sheridan County News, so it wasn’t surprising to hear that the newspaper had refused to sell ad space to a caregiver on several occasions.  Although I don’t necessarily approve of such policies, I gave the management the benefit of the doubt and attempted to convince myself that  their decisions were based on their ignorant self-righteousness, not a conscious desire to foster propaganda.  Yesterday, a couple of my friends asked Joe Nistler, the editor of the newspaper, if he planned to run the letter.  His response was that he was NOT going to run it because-and I QUOTE- “we already have enough potheads in this county”.   Although I admit that Nistler is HARDLY considered influential by anyone, his thinly veiled attempts to influence readers subtly with headlines- like “Big Rigger Writes Own Songs” and “Roads Here Tested by Big Rigs”… yes, I see a small pattern developing,  indicate that Mr Nistler is likely a spineless epitome of cowardice who occasionally gets an ego boost from wielding a bit of judgment those he considers immoral- or something. Perhaps his actions aren’t malicious.  Perhaps he genuinely desires to save us all from ourselves. I’m far more concerned about saving myself from our government and protecting my daughter from this sort of pervasive ignorance.  Most weeks,, the newspaper contains  at least one kitschy “Remember when….” post, a macro shot of some fetching young lentils, or a collection of boring  images from decades ago… in addition to the primary reason many current and former Sheridan County residents still subscribe to the weekly newspaper…. that’s right, the police blotter, where the accused are proven instantly guilty through the court of public opinion, whether or not they were convicted of their alleged crimes.  

I find it sad that some of the staff at the Sheridan County News, who by the very nature of their field, should be first amendment crusaders,  are not only unwilling to print opinion pieces contrasting their own, they apparently have no interest in allowing their readers to weigh the facts and decide for themselves. My letter to the editor wasn’t promoting drug use- I’m not a patient nor do I use marijuana recreationally.  I simply recognize tyranny when I see it and I have no problem calling out my own party.  Sheridan County, with the rest of Montana, deserves an opportunity to make an informed decision. It is disappointing that the morality enforcement division of the local newspaper doesn’t trust their own friends and family to vote properly after being armed with the facts.  The SCOTUS as well as state Supreme Courts recognize that there is no more purer form of free speech than gathering signatures, refusing to cover our campaign- regardless of personal opinions on cannabis- indicates a vacuum of journalistic integrity. 

*It is worth noting that although we certainly aren’t  in competition,  the weekly and often the DAILY circulation of  montanafesto (which is less than a year old) is higher than the weekly circulation of the Sheridan County News.  Perhaps I will start running obituaries and a police blotter on the blog, readership would certainly skyrocket as the self-righteous tend to feed on the tragedies of others.


Thwarting the Tyrannical Minority: IR-124


During Montana’s 2011 legislative session, 113 of our elected representatives, in direct contradiction of the expressed will of the people, imposed their self-righteous puritanical views on the rest of us by approving SB 423. The lawmakers, after refusing to draft thoughtful legislation,approved Sen Jeff Essmann’s 33 page medical marijuana repeal bill and proudly announced to the  276,042 Montana voters who approved the state’s original law (I-148) that they were fulfilling voter intent.  Voters, patients and growers, however; were not convinced and have launched an initiative referendum campaign to refer SB 423 to Montana voters for rejection or approval.  IR-124, depending on the number of signatures obtained; has the potential to suspend SB 423 until November of 2012.

GET INVOLVED! This is an opportunity to assert your rights as a Montana citizen.  Legislators need to be reminded that they work for us and that we the people decide their political futures.  Repealing a citizens initiative sets a dangerous precedent and regardless of how Montanans actually feel about medical marijuana, it is difficult to understand how ANY could argue against empowering voters by allowing them to choose.  If we had trusted the legislature to act on our wishes, we would have never had a medical marijuana program in Montana yet a resounding 62% voted to approve it.  Time will tell whether this was or wasn’t what Montanans voted for.

If you are interested in helping with the effort to place IR-124 on the ballot, we’d love to hear from you. Visit our website, Patients for Reform, Not Repeal.  Training is required prior to gathering signatures so contact a zone coordinator or trainer and we will reserve a spot for you in one of our training sessions.

CONTACT INFO FOR PETITION TRAINERS:

SW Zone, Missoula/BRoot: Gabe McMurray at Sweetwater Caregivers at gabertoothtiger@gmail.com , phone number: 541-0420, Sweetwater also on Facebook

 NW Zone, Flathead area: James Blair, at jimmy1@neverhaulwateragain.com​ , also on Facebook as Jimmy   NC Zone, Great Falls area: Jessica Johnson mylittlebuggaboo@hotmail.com , 564-2667, and Grant Grenfell, here2headbang69@hotmail.com

SE Zone, Billings area: Elizabeth Springman at Elizabeth_Springman@yahoo.com 697-1810, and James Haneyheavenscentcannabis@gmail.com 670-0143

SCentral, Livingston, Big Sky, or Bozeman: Monica Blanchard in Livingston at ccofmt@gmail.com, 333-2622, or Charles Gaillard in Big Sky atjoinergroup@aol.com386-931-9334 ,and Dante Bonanin in Bozeman at bonusattheboz@hotmail.com

Central, Helena/Butte: Barb Trego at BarbsGoats@aol.com, 459-6247, and in Butte: Tawnya LaFond at TKiliayaRose1@aol.com 490-4273

Eastern Zone, Havre, Plentywood, Miles City, Glendive, Terry, Jordan, Circle, Glasgow, Wolf Point, Sidney, Broadus: Nicole French at NicoleFrench88@gmail.com 208-0204 and on Facebook.

Please consider making a financial contribution or give us a few hours of your time….the September 30 deadline for obtaining the necessary signatures is looming.

Saint Essmann: The Innocence of Malignant Narcissism


Thanks to Montana Cowgirl for picking up my slack…. Senator Jeff Essmann stammered while attempting to answer a question on Aaron Flint’s Voices of Montana this morning.  That question?  “Senator Essmann, have you ever smoked marijuana?” reminded me of the time Rep James Knox (RWNJ-Billings Heights) was asked if he’d ever sold drugs.   Unfortunately, I’m far too busy coordinating the eastern side of the state in the Patients for Reform, Not Repeal quest to actually fulfill voter intent by allowing the actual voters to decide whether Jeff Essmann’s baby, SB 423 is a hot mess or a brilliant piece of legislation.  Hypocrisy reigns in the prohibition crowd….

I don’t really care if Essmann has smoked marijuana nor did I really care if President Clinton was receiving extra-curricular blowjobs, but I don’t appreciate liars- especially those who feed at the public trough. On the other hand, maybe Essmann is just that much of a dork. He could in fact be the only adult human being I’ve ever met who hasn’t tried marijuana… but I doubt it.

The Ascent of Propaganda


I found the Sidney Herald’s recent article about recent changes to laws governing Montana’s medical cannabis program factually inaccurate  and feel compelled to offer the following clarifications, which I also sent as a over-the-word-limit letter to the editor which we will never likely see in print: 

1. Montana’s Constitution allows for a process in which voters may place an act of the Legislature on the ballot as a referendum if interested parties submit a petition that is signed by at least 5% of the registered voters in at least 34 House districts and by 5% of the voters statewide.  To actually overturn the offending act of the legislature prior to the next general election, signatures from 15% of 51 house districts must be obtained.  Otherwise, the law stays in effect until voters weigh in on the ballot.  Patients for Reform, Not Repeal will not be seeking signatures from an additional 5% of registered voters as the article suggested.  

2.  Marijuana remains a  schedule I narcotic under federal law and cannot be legally dispensed by pharmacists.  Physicians cannot write a “prescription”, but can write a “recommendation”.  The statement by Sidney Health Center’s CEO about the hospital’s pharmacy having a policy of not carrying medical marijuana isn’t so much policy as it is law.  No pharmacies carry medical marijuana although a few receive it monthly to dispense to the limited number of patients enrolled in the federal government’s medical marijuana program.  `

 
3.  SB 423 limits a patient’s number of mature flowering plants to four while allowing twelve “seedlings”.  The ruling by Judge Reynolds did not overturn this provision.  I-148 allowed six plants/patient.  The new law differentiates between seedlings and mature plants using height, which is not at all indicative of maturity.  The article claimed that the plant limit provision was enjoined by Judge Reynolds.  This is not the case. 

4.  The statement “Medical marijuana providers, under the ruling, can continue to operate under many of the rules approved by voters in 2004 until a full case can be heard.” isn’t true.  In fact, nearly all of the draconian provisions of SB 423 remain, with the exception of the following which were enjoined in a temporary injunction issued by Judge Reynolds: provisions barring advertising and sale of medicine by providers, provisions limiting patients to a maximum of three, provisions subjecting providers and patients to random searches by law enforcement and requiring physicians who recommend cannabis for 25 or more patients to be investigated by the state medical board at their own expense.  

While much of the article involves some distant version of the truth, veracity shouldn’t have versions.  The media has a solemn responsibility to report facts and to accurately relay events as they happen, to do otherwise is to foster propaganda. 

Nicole French

Eastern Zone Coordinator

Patients for Reform Not Repeal Referendum Initiative

The Obama Administration’s Schizophrenic Marijuana Policy: Ogden, Haag, and Cole


Prior to his election, Obama had a reasonable outlook on medical marijuana

“I don’t think that should be a top priority of us, raiding people who are using … medical marijuana. With all the things we’ve got to worry about, and our Justice Department should be doing, that probably shouldn’t be a high priority.” — June 2, 2007, town hall meeting in Laconia, New Hampshire

“You know, it’s really not a good use of Justice Department resources.” — responding to whether the federal government should stop medical marijuana raids, August 13, 2007, town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire

Nearly year after Obama was elected President, his administration, with great fanfare; released the Ogden memo. The memo essentially informed US Attorneys that the US government wouldn’t be focusing federal resources on the prosecution of individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.  As a result of this policy shift, the number of legal medical marijuana patients increased substantially in states allowing the use of medical marijuana.

On February 1, 2011, US Attorney Melinda Haag sent what is now known as the “Haag Memo”, to John Russo, Oakland City Attorney in response to Russo’s request of clarification of the federal stance. From the memo:

We will enforce the CSA (Controlled Substances Act) vigorously against individuals and organizations that participate in unlawful manufacturing and distribution activity involving marijuana, even if such activities are permitted under state law…. . ….Others who knowingly facilitate the actions of the licensees, including property owners, landlords, and financiers should also know that their conduct violates federal law.

Although hardly publicized, the Haag memo is consistent with federal action the following month:

On Wednesday, for the second time in this year, the Obama administration released a memo on  medical marijuana, the text of which can be viewed here.  This memo purports to provide clarification of previous memos yet seems more like a warning to anyone involved in any level of cannabusiness.  The text of the memo seems to acknowledge that state-sanctioned use of medical cannabis is alright, but good luck obtaining it, because the federal government is waging a war against those who grow it.  This clarification certainly clears things up.

Americans were accustomed to raids under the Bush administration, but Obama promised a different approach, giving a very false sense of security to cannabis patients.  In reality, Obama is on target to in four years, double the number of raids under 8 years of the Bush administration.  At least Bush’s actions were consistent with his words.  Some are speculating that US Atty Holder or rogue US Attys are acting without authorization, but launching raids IS policy and the number, scope, and focus of these violent raids suggests that they are orchestrated from the top.

How’s your badass president now?  I’ve had enough “change”  Perhaps it is time for a President whose actions are consistent with his words, has a decades long history of consistent messages and dedication to individual liberties, constitutional government and sound monetary policy.  Or maybe not.  Maybe you prefer wondering if federal agents will gun down your children as well as your dogs in the next early morning raid.  H.R. 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act is currently in Congress.  To urge your Representatives and Senators to support this historic legislation, use this handy web form.

Montana Governor 2012: Social Media Contrasts


4&20 blackbirds  recently posted “Social Media and Montana’s Road to 2012…. or Your (sic) Doing it Wrong”. Although I disagreed with a few of the blogger’s liberal-leaning critiques, the bulk of the post was funny because it was so true.  The post suggests that successful use of social media includes the following:  engaging friends, eliminating staff posting (create your own posts), making posts personal yet using a filter(ask Weiner about this), utilizing creativity and wit (if available), and researching Montana’s candidates who have been successful in promoting themselves in today’s technological age (like Mike Miller and Ellie Hill) The blogger also discouraged candidates from following too many people and posting anything resembling something from the Facebook wall of James Knox.

Recent research has suggested that in predicting elections, social media presence is at least as important if not more than the amount of money raised by candidates. Now that the governor’s race in Montana has been elevated to Politico’s most competitive in the nation,  I decided to examine the use of social media by a few of the GOP’s Gubernatorial candidates. I’ve included promotional videos for each candidate, links to their social media accounts as well as an opinionated unbiased assessment of overall performance.

Rick Hill 

Viral ads: Hill’s campaign has been fraught with controversy thanks to a scandalous past brought to light by a concerned conservative friend of Ken Miller, prompting Mermaid-gate and our third most-viewed post of all time.   Hill’s Mr Rogers-esque promotional video betrays no signs of his wild side, so thank you to whoever was responsible for compiling the sleaze (yes, Nancy Davis, I’m talking to you), effectively making Mr UN seem just a little more electable/desirable than he likely is in reality.  I will leave the family values comments to the Miller camp.   Twitter: Hill has yet to master the art of the tweet and tends to primarily post links to his own campaign’s promotional posts, which is not a recommended course of action, especially because his promotional material is so uninteresting.  Facebook: Hill is off to a slow start, although this is his…. third start? His former Facebook group “A Lot of Folks for Rick Hill” peaked at well under a hundred folks and his handlers changed course a couple of times as a result.  Long-time lobbyist Hill earns an easy grade of Fail for his inability or unwillingness to engage his followers.  His posts are boring and receive very few, if any comments.  I can’t determine whether his posts are his own or from his staff, but let’s just hope they were written by staffers.  There would then be room for improvement.  Overall: Hill’s filter, if applicable; is far too fine to allow any effective engagement let alone posts that demonstrate any level of creativity or wit.  This campaign- even with the added excitement of the mermaid- is utterly soul-less. Verdict: Over the Hill.

Neil Livingstone:

I perused Livingstone’s website and was only able to find a number of national news interviews about terrorism and a dreadfully boring interview by Montana Shrugged so I decided it was in Mr Livingstone’s best interest that I not post a video at this time.  Should his campaign provide us with a promotional video, we’d be happy to post and assess it however. Twitter:  Neil’s tweets comprise an interesting combination of terrorism discussion, cooking/recipes, and political commentary- some of which even is relevant to Montana.  His filter appears to be working properly and his tweets are somewhat frequent.  His recipes offer a glimpse into his personal non-national-terrorism-expert life although many Montanans still may be unable to relate- Morel popcorn, anyone?  Facebook:  This account could use some work.  Livingstone should probably link his Facebook to his Twitter and blog to streamline posts among the outlets-  otherwise it appears that his Facebook account is more of a recipe repository than a Gubernatorial campaign page. I’d also suggest posting more links and statuses that relate specifically to our state. Livingstone’s personal wealth alone makes him a contender but he faces many obstacles in gaining name recognition beyond political junkies and terrorism buffs- if terrorism buffs actually exist, that is.  Nearly a year remains before primary elections in Montana.

Ken Miller:

Viral AdsThe only shocking- or even remotely energizing- component of Miller’s video is found within the youtube view counter-  there have been 1,217 views of this gouge-your-eyes-out-boring piece.  Miller’s overall presentation is dull as is the content.   Twitter: If the Miller campaign has a Twitter account, I’m not aware of it.  This is probably for the best as successful tweets require a level of spontaneity and authenticity that would be difficult for a fledgling Tweeter like Miller to pull off. Facebook: Staff/TEA people regularly post as Miller on his campaign site, as evidenced here.  He engages followers minimally and generally refers those who have questions or comments to his cell phone.  He seems to be doing a good job at physically traveling around Montana as evidenced by the plethora of photos posted from each location on the campaign trail but to me he seems a bit reluctant.  Miller’s supporters compensate for his lack of energy, however.  In fact, one of them sent out this ambitious campaign donation solicitation, complete with a conspiracy theory theme.  Overall: Before utilizing the above-mentioned filter, his campaign should instead employ the use of spell-check.  Considering his lengthy political history, I’m rather surprised by his selection of a rabid tea person as a campaign site administrator.  Engagement with voters is important, even when the issue at hand isn’t one Governor Jan Brewer supports- Miller failed to effectively respond to medical cannabis patients’ questions at a recent event at a gun shooting facility- his wife Peggy instead forcibly interfered with the video recording of his responses.  Miller has much to learn in the world of social media, but with God on his side, he should have no problems.

Corey Stapleton

Viral Ads: Stapleton’s piece is by far the best and I love that it isn’t bloated or ego-driven. This edgy promotional material is consistent with earlier photos released by his camp and it is apparent that he has employed a team of talented individuals to head up his marketing. This video was released last night, but already has over 100 views on youtube and more on Facebook. Twitter: Although Stapleton’s tweets are interesting-  like this one: “Gov Schweitzer wants to sell MT’s coal to China and solve their energy shortages. I want to sell MT’s coal to America, and solve our own.”, they are infrequent.  There is room for improvement here- more in numbers than content.  Facebook: Over 4000 people “like” his page compared to Hill’s paltry 345 and Miller’s 1017.  Little investigation is required to determine why he has 4 times the number of Facebook fans either-  his wall is a pleasant mix of thought-provoking questions and statements with a few personal touches here and there. Stapleton seems accessible and his friends appear engaged.  Stapleton isn’t afraid to make controversial statements and the ensuing debates with his friends are polite and rational.   Overall: Stapleton wins. He appears to handle his own social media (or he’d likely have far more tweets under his belt) and I thankfully wasn’t able to locate any post likely to be written by James Knox.  Friends are engaged, posts are witty, creative and a bit dangerous.

I See Dumb People


 

Montana’s GOP renounced the tea party in dramatic fashion earlier today.  Jennifer Olsen, Queen of the tea people was defeated in her quest to become Vice Chair of the Montana GOP.  Incumbent Chair Will Deschamps defeated his less moderate challenger Mark French as well (although I don’t necessarily consider French a tea person- certainly not the same flavor of tea as Olsen anyway).  Jennifer, from Billings; is the co-founder (with her father Eric Olsen) of Montana Shrugged, Tea Party Patriots.  Montana Shrugged is known for its divisive tactics and inconsistency in following the principles it espouses.

Pardon me while I laugh.  Upon viewing the preceding clip, I was initially certain it was a joke.  Seriously.  Never before have I encountered a more contentious person in the Republican party.  Not even A.J. Otjen…. although she often makes me laugh as well.  Representative Cary Smith, of medical marijuana GOP God Squad infamy, nominated Jennifer Olsen for Vice Chair of the MT GOP and in doing so mentioned that she is actively involved with the Young Republicans.  As someone who actually IS actively involved with the Young Republicans, I can attest that there isn’t much farther from the truth…. which isn’t surprising considering the source.

Audrey Walleser, newly elected Chairwoman of the Montana Young Republicans, and current Treasurer of the Yellowstone Young Republicans issued the following statement:

“Ms. Olsen on numerous occasions has slandered and libeled the Young Republicans.  She has shown nothing but contempt and disrespect for the Montana Young Republicans and their missions and goals.  She has also never attended a YR event nor paid dues to any YR club or organization, therefore is not a member of either the Yellowstone Young Republicans or the Montana Young Republicans.”

I offer the following screenshots as evidence of her loyalty to the Young Republicans, apparently fighting for our principles is easier than living up to them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contrast the preceding screenshots with this one:

 

 

 

I am a big fan of individual liberty and personal responsibility as well as fiscal constraint, all principles that are typically associated with the tea people.  I don’t abhor everything Tea, my problem is primarily with Montana Shrugged- more specifically its leaders. Although they claim to be a patriotic force- and one to be reckoned with- independent from the GOP, two of their three leaders are now members of the executive board of the Yellowstone County Republican Central Committee.  Yellowstone County is a bastion of RWNJ ideology- most members of the GOP God Squad call that area home- Representatives James Knox, Cary Smith, Tom McGillvray, and Ken Peterson as well as Senators Jeff Essmann, Ed Walker…. and those are off the top of my head.  Forgive me if I’ve forgotten any key prohibition players in Yellowstone County.

It is no secret that I’m disillusioned with both the tea people and the current hypocritical majority of the Montana Republican Party and I doubt anyone would accuse me of being a uniting force in the party these days.  However, I do believe we need to either expand our tent or distance ourselves from the uneducated extremists in the party or we will face blowing defeats in 2012 elections.

Mainstream Republicans have to know that the Tea “party” gave us a group of legislators responsible for the most ridiculous legislative session in recent history.  Some of their legislation was purely symbolic, many bills were blatantly unconstitutional and some of the profoundly flippant legislation bordered on obsessive…. all of which obscured any successes of the GOP in 2011.

Repealing the “Black Market” Bill: A Preliminary Guide to Process and Procedure


Confused about the status of SB 423, Senator Jeff Essmann’s bill to eliminate safe access to medical cannabis in Montana? The following provides background into Montana’s initiative, referendum, and repeal process.

SB 423 Monitoring: Montana Marijuana Act Initiative Referendum to Overturn Law Prepared for the Children, Families, Health, and Human Services Interim Committee

Background

Within days after the 2011 legislative session ended, opponents of a bill that repeals Montana’s Medical Marijuana Act and replaces it with new provisions announced that they would try to place the new law before the voters in November 2012. The effort centers on a little-used practice in which Montanans may try to gather enough signatures from registered voters to place a law enacted by the Legislature on the ballot. If they succeed, voters then decide whether to retain or reject the law. At issue in this case is Senate Bill 423, which replaces the existing Medical Marijuana Act with more stringent provisions for individuals who use marijuana for debilitating medical conditions, the physicians who provide written certifications involving such use, and the individuals who grow or manufacture marijuana and related products. The Montana Cannabis Industry Association (Association) is sponsoring the proposal. The group hopes to gather enough signatures to not only place the law on the ballot, but also to suspend its implementation until the November 2012 election. How the Process Works The Montana Constitution allows for both an initiative process and a referendum process. Most voters tend to think of an initiative as an idea generated by a private group, which then gathers signatures to place the proposed law on the ballot. For example, three initiatives qualified for the November 2010 ballot — one to reduce interest rates charged by so-called “pay-day lenders”, another to prevent the imposition of a real estate transfer tax, and a third to change how some hunting licenses are granted. On the other hand, voters tend to think of referendums as a law that the Legislature passes but puts before the voters before it goes into effect, to make sure voters agree with the law. But the Montana Constitution also allows for a process in which voters may place an act of the Legislature on the ballot as a referendum if interested parties submit a petition that is signed by at least 5% of the registered voters in at least 34 House districts and by 5% of the voters statewide. The total number required is based on the number of votes cast for governor statewide and by House district in 2008. The proposal must go through the review process required for all ballot measures, including:                                                                                                                                   • submission of the proposed ballot statements and text to the Secretary of State;                • review of the ballot statements and text by the Legislative Services Division;                      • rejection, acceptance, or modification of the Legislative Services Division recommendations by the sponsor;                                                                                          • the sponsor’s submission the final ballot statements and text to the Secretary of State;    • review of the proposed ballot language by the Attorney General’s Office, including an opportunity for public comment; and                                                                                       • final issuance of the petition by the Secretary of State after the Attorney General’s Office has completed its review and found that the petition is “legally sufficient”. After those steps are completed, the sponsor may begin collecting signatures. An act referred to the ballot through the initiative process remains in effect until the election is held unless enough signatures are obtained to suspend it. That would occur if the Secretary of State certifies that at least 15% of the registered voters in each of at least 51 House districts signed the petition.

Timeline for the SB 423 Petition

The Secretary of State accepted the petition from the Association on May 12, starting the clock ticking on the various timelines for review.

. To date, the following events have occurred:

• May 26: The Legislative Services Division completed its review of the ballot statements and text and provided the sponsor with suggested changes.                                                 • May 31: The sponsor responded to the Legislative Services Division comments.               • June 1: The sponsor submitted the revised ballot statements and text to the Secretary of State.                                                                                                                                        • June 2: The Attorney General’s Office received the ballot language and text for review.    • June 6: The Attorney General’s Office asked the Governor’s Office of Budget and Program Planning to estimate the fiscal impact of SB 423. The Budget Office has 10 days to prepare a fiscal note. The Attorney General’s Office must complete its review by July 5. If it approves the proposal, the proposed ballot issue will be returned to the Secretary of State. That office will then provide the approved petition to the sponsor, who may begin gathering signatures at that time. Signed petitions may be submitted to county election officials until September 30. The county officials must certify the signatures and file the signed petitions and certified totals with the Secretary of State no later than October 28. If enough verified signatures have been gathered, the Secretary of State will certify to the Governor that the initiative referendum will appear on the November 2012 ballot and/or has been suspended. Petition sponsors must gather and submit 24,337 verified signatures, including signatures representing 5% of the registered voters in each of at least 34 House districts, to place the measure on the ballot. If they meet that threshold, they may then attempt to gather additional signatures to suspend the law until the November 2012 vote. Anywhere from 31,238 to 43,247 signatures are needed to suspend the law, depending on the House districts in which the signatures are gathered. If sponsors meet the requirements for either step sooner than Sept. 30 and enough verified signatures are on file with the Secretary of State’s Office before October 28, the measure could be certified for the ballot or be suspended before those deadlines occur.

To read legal filings thus far, click here.

To donate to this endeavor, visit the MTCIA‘s website.  Funding is critical as our legal dream team isn’t cheap.

Become the change you want to see: Sign up to help here.  Whether you are interested in being a county or house district captain, a signature gatherer, a notary, even if you simply would like to sign the petition, we would appreciate your help.  Our board, zone coordinators and committees are donating their already scarce  time and could use assistance.

I’m coordinating the Eastern Zone and personally need some help in the following countes:  Valley, Carter, Powder River, Prairie, Dawson, Garfield, McCone, Petroleum, Phillips, Fallon and Carbon.  Also in House Districts: 30,32,35,38,39, and 41. Please contact me ASAP if you can assist.