Tuesday’s Quick Hits

Happy Tax Day 2023!

Here are the topics that caught my attention for today’s column:

  • Voting in Cascade County
  • Montana Public Service Commission
  • A Plea Deal?
  • One More Thing


The absentee ballots for the Great Falls Public Schools Trustee Election were supposed to be mailed to voters yesterday (Monday, April 17)

The headline from The Electric stated, “Ballots Not Mailed On April 17; County Staff, Volunteers Spent Week Stuffing Envelopes,” while the headline from KRTV in Great Falls stated, “Cascade County Elections Department confirms mailing of absentee ballots.”

If they were mailed I should get mine on Wednesday or Thursday.

The newly formed Election Protection Committee monitored the Cascade County Elections office Monday, and they recommend voters open their absentee ballots immediately when they arrive in the mailbox to ensure everything is in order.

The Election Protection Committee contends that they observed some envelopes that were not stuffed correctly. According to Jane Weber, a member of the committee:

“I personally observed some volunteers in the Election Office removing items from envelopes, flipping them over and re-inserting them into pre-stuffed envelopes, a clear sign that some envelopes were originally not stuffed correctly.”

Clerk and Recorder Sandra Merchant is in over her head in her new position.

You can read the press release from the Election Protection Committee HERE.


It looks like the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) may be getting a new map for their districts. To me, it looks like it will allow the Republicans to control the PSC for years to come. The Republicans currently control all five districts.

Lee Newspapers has the story HERE.

One part of the Lee Newspapers story made me giggle:

The PSC regulates monopolies, more specifically the state’s largest utilities NorthWestern Energy and Montana Dakota Utilities. In that capacity, the PSC affects the household budgets of more than 400,000 Montana utility customers. Those customers are legally recognized as “captive,” meaning they lack the free-market choice of shopping around for a better deal. The commission is charged with ensuring captive customers have reasonably priced, reliable electric and natural gas service, while utilities receive a fixed rate of return.

It seems to be that the Montana PSC is a rubber stamp of approval for rate increases. I don’t feel they really represent their constituency.

The Montana Free Press (MTFP) reported that NorthWestern Energy proposed a $120 million electricity and natural gas rate increase. It was called “historic.”

One thing is for sure, our electricity and natural gas bills are going up. It’s up to the all-Republican PSC to decide how much more we can take.

I used to think that Republicans were for fewer taxes and fees and that members of the PSC would look out for us. Not anymore.


I was amazed and pissed when I read the Federal Prosecutors were going to allow a plea deal in the case where a man from Kalispell threatened the life of U.S. Senator Jon Tester. I would feel the same way if it was U.S. Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) or our two Republican U.S. Representatives,

I worked in a U.S. Senate office and had threats made against me. It’s not fun. Threats against elected officials and their staffers and family need to be dealt with harshly.

According to the Daily Inter Lake:

Kevin Patrick Smith initially maintained his innocence at his Feb. 23 arraignment in U.S. District Court. On March 21, though, Smith agreed to plead guilty to one count of threats to murder a U.S. senator.
The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine and a $100 special assessment.

Smith won’t get close to any of the maximums. Shame on the U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana, Jesse Laslovich, for allowing this to happen. I am hopeful the Federal Judge will see the plea deal as weak and not accept it. The next hearing is on April 20.

You can read the Daily Inter Lake article HERE.


I saw that Great Falls City Commissioner Rick Tryon posted a meme about the 21-year-old Air National Guard guy getting caught posting classified documents on the internet. Here is the meme:

When I was 21 years old I couldn’t be trusted to not eat everyone’s fries in the car on the way home from McDonald’s, let alone having access to top military intelligence secrets.

I’m sure he meant to give his readers a laugh. Maybe he thinks classified documents are not a big deal, like his mentor Donald Trump.

One thing I did think of is I also can’t trust the commissioner to not raise my taxes.

I guess those of us who actually served probably see it differently. I had access to millions of classified documents when I was 21 and in the Air Force. Several people who served commented on his post saying something like that.

I like to see veterans run for public office.

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13 thoughts on “Tuesday’s Quick Hits

  1. Egad just crossed my mind,
    If a voter got two ballots by mail & then also went to vote in person could they then stuff 3 ballots into the box?

    • Hopefully not, but with what’s happening anything is possible. I wonder what the Clerk & Recorder is doing to ID the non-MAGA voters…
      Scary stuff. -JmB

  2. Why does the fact that tryon suffers from arrested maturation not surprise me? I turned twenty-one in Nam spending every night for a year outside the perimeter patrolling with a dog and a rifle, that’s it. If the bad guys got past us, it was bad news for everybody else. Guess that woulda been a little too much responsibility for Rick, but pretty much everybody my age was in the same boat. We had no choice. Apparently Rick was never forced to grow up. Ya learn sh*t from shinola real quick along with a good sense of cynicism, something Rick could use as he approves every budget increase the big boys throw at him.

  3. knee-jerk voting for a job that should not be politicized. Traitorous stupidity abounds. I wonder how this Trumpian Gianforte mess will correct itself. A little more thinking at the ballot box would help immensely.

  4. My Cascade County absentee ballot showed up in this morning’s mail, April 18. So they did that right.

    Looks like it was folded and stuffed by a 2nd grader, though. So the ballot would have to be totally refolded to fit into the secrecy envelope and the (white, with green stripe) return envelope, adding three more creases to the existing three. That should considerably assist tabulator accuracy.

    May skip this and go vote in person May 2 anyhow. Don’t trust/have confidence in this crew at all. At least if I put my own ballot in the box in front of other people I figure there’s a 50-50 chance it may eventually get processed.

    • Thanks for the update. This election should be more interesting than normal. -JmB

      • The fact that a school board election is interesting at all says a great deal for Merchant and crue.

      • KRTV is reporting tonight that one couple received six ballots today. -JmB

    • Oh no. Vote in person? That might totally gum up the works. You got a mail ballot & now might vote in person.

  5. I grew up in Great Falls, so it’s a pity to see such incompetence in the Elections Office. Here in Lewis & Clark County, I received my school election ballot on April 14 and dropped it off at the Elections Office on April 17.

    • It’s amazing how we get used to things working fine and then a person comes along and screws it up. Thanks, JmB

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