Disclaimer: Discontinue reading if nausea or dizziness occurs.
If you are a first-time visitor, “Caught My Eye” is posted here every Friday morning! This is when I take a look at some of the stories I did not have time to write about during the week. Sometimes I throw in a touch of sarcasm to make you smile – or to irritate you just a little – or maybe both.
Today I provide valuable independent commentary about coal & copying, Commissioner of Political Practices, Secure Rural Schools, getting tased, the worst jobs of 2015, Britt McHenry & the tow company, plus we have a winner who is Making Montana Proud!
Coal & Copying:
If you follow me on Twitter (@TheWesternWord) then you were probably one of the first to see the 900-word story from the Billings Gazette titled “Carbon Copies: Elected officials pass coal industry letter off as their own” which was posted Wednesday evening.
Tom Lutey from the Gazette reported:
Last month, coal proponents scored a major victory by convincing the Department of Interior to hold off on its rule making for 60 days so that more people could respond. Members of the Montana Legislature, along with county commissioners and mayors from Montana and Wyoming communities put the weight of their political offices behind letters asking the DOI for more time. What they didn’t offer were their own words.
Consistently the letter elected officials signed as their own were copies of a 300-word form letter circulated by Cloud Peak Energy, a coal mining company.
According to the Gazette, the elected officials who used the form letter said there was nothing wrong with the practice, given that they agreed with what the letter said.
I guess that last line proves that some of our elected officials are a few fries short of a happy meal.
The Gazette also found:
U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., was credited in the press for leading the drive to get the comment period extended. His own letter, signed by 14 other congressmen, including Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., and Wyoming’s delegation, contained passages similar to the Cloud Peak letter, but wasn’t nearly verbatim like the other letters.
In other words, Daines’ staff was not quite as lazy as some on this issue, but they couldn’t put together a whole letter without some help. One would expect Senator Daines to employ someone who knows the issue better.
I guess the good news is that some elected officials do employ staffers who know enough about the issue that they did not need to copy and paste:
U.S. Sen Jon Tester, D-Mont, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock did both submit letters supporting the 60-day comment extension, however the letters didn’t share Cloud Peak’s language.
It is common for groups to lobby elected officials and provide information like talking points and sample letters to their staffers (not to mention gifts, food, drinks, etc.). No matter how much “spin” is placed on this important issue from the elected officials, it’s pretty lazy for them not to use their own words. If this were college or high school, they would get a failing grade for cheating on this paper…
MT Political Practices Commissioner:
Coming up Monday afternoon, the Montana Senate will hold a hearing for the confirmation of Jonathan Motl as the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices.
I have written about this office many times over the years. I don’t like the way a commissioner is selected for this position and the perception is always that the commissioner sides with the political party of the Governor who appointed him/her. The office needs more help/funding and the whole mission of the Political Practices office needs to be retooled for this century.
With that being said, Jonathan Motl has done a pretty good job. He should be confirmed.
The Great Falls Tribune editorial board feels the same way. You can read their editorial HERE. They contend that stats (provided by Motl) show he has been fair to Republicans during his tenure. The Tribune closes their editorial with:
Since the governor gets to appoint the commissioner, if Motl is sent packing, Republicans actually might end up with someone worse, from their point of view.
We think senators should stick with the horse they know, rather than take the torturous route to finding a replacement for Motl, who works hard and is anxious to be reappointed.
Let’s end the merry-go-round of political commissioners and give Motl another 20 months in office.
I might be dreaming here, but I hope the whole state senate will at least get to vote on Motl.
*Note: Earlier this morning, the Billings Gazette editorial board posted their opinion: “Senators, Keep Motl as Montana’s campaign watchdog”
Secure Rural Schools:
I applaud the members of the Montana’s Congressional Delegation for their work to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools program for two years. Back in February I wrote that Montana would lose $16,197,368 this year in funding if the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 (SRS) is not reauthorized by Congress.
Great Falls Tribune reporter Andrea Fisher-Nitschke was tased in police demonstration this week. She used the event to raise $500 for the Great Falls Police Protective Association (GFPPA), which is awesome.
That event got me thinking that it would be great if we could donate money to a charity and for every $500 or $1000 raised, we could select someone from the local community to be tased! The off-duty police would just drop by the person’s work or home and nail them right there. Sounds like fun, right?
I’m thinking some local elected officials would make my list along with a few local media personalities…
The Worst Jobs of 2015:
Speaking of reporting the news, the website CareerCast.com says that the worst job of 2015 is newspaper reporter. It was ranked #200. Broadcaster (reading & preparing the news) was #196.
Garbage collector was ranked #180.
What is the best job? #1 is Actuary, #2 is Audiologist.
I did not see “blogger” on the list, but Social Media Manager came in at #101.
Making ESPN Proud:
I’ve seen some people get angry at a tow company on some reality shows, but nothing as vicious as ESPN’s Britt McHenry. She was caught on video castigating a tow company employee. See the video HERE.
I bet McHenry’s family is so proud. According to Business Insider:
McHenry comments on the employee’s job, education, teeth, and weight while also bragging about being on TV and threatening to sue the company.
“I’m on the news, sweetheart, I will f****** sue this place,” she says.
Her bosses at ESPN should let Ms. McHenry know that she’s not “on the news” (at least with ESPN) from this point forward. All they did was suspend her for a week.
McHenry apologized, but her actions deserve termination from the ESPN.
Making Montana Proud:
This section is where I mention people or groups whose actions embarrass Montana in some way.
-From the Billings Gazette: Robert Lee Brooks, age 67, was sentenced to five years in the custody of the Montana Department of Corrections after picking up his 13th drunken driving conviction.
Wow. Just five years. Maybe it should be one year in prison for each conviction, or maybe if there was a law that says after your third DUI conviction, you can never drive again (in any state) that would deter the repeat offenders. If caught driving, punishment could be a minimum 10 years in prison. Are there any better ideas out there?
One More Thing:
A veteran is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America,” for an amount of “up to and including their life.” – Anonymous