The Billings Outpost

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Beware of lawfare

Have you ever heard of the term lawfare? Lawfare is not a new word nor a new concept and is probably best defined as being the use of law as a weapon of war.

Lawfare is asserted by some to be the illegitimate use of domestic law with the intention of damaging an opponent. In other words, lawfare is the abuse of Western laws and judicial systems masterfully courted by propaganda (media warfare) to achieve political ends.

It commonly consists of negative manipulation of national human-rights laws to accomplish purposes other than, or contrary to, those lawful purposes for which they were enacted. The people of Montana (opponents) were witness to lawfare with the highly controversial Senate Bill 262 (water compact), signed into law on April 24.

The leaders of the Montana Legislature, namely the governor and the attorney general along with Department of Natural Resources and the Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission, led the charge. The compact declares federal jurisdiction over most of Western Montana’s future water uses among other unprecedented fundamentals.

The main compact sidebar selling points were “forever certainty” (yay) and the fear of forever and costly litigation (yuck). Forget about the common ground of historical and judicial facts found in the middle for the tribes and nontribal Montana residents.

Lawfare serves to silence and punish free speech, delegitimize the sovereignty of the United States of America and to hinder the ability of democracies to fight against federal encroachment. The ultimate goal of lawfare is to cause the participating public to no longer care! To no longer care is tantamount to accepting tyranny.

The people of Montana do care, will never forget and will never quit.   Lawfare exists and the only way to combat lawfare is head on, in the courts with a jury of your peers.

A big thank you to the Flathead Joint Board of Control for bringing forth a valid lawsuit in Lake County District Court challenging the validity of this compact.

David Passieri

St. Ignatius

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 November 2015 19:49

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Volunteers needed

In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words: “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations … .”

Many communities recognize our veterans every year on Veterans Day by holding parades or flag raising ceremonies. I would like to offer an opportunity to recognize and serve our nation’s veterans every day.

In Montana, the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) donate vehicles to the Veterans Health Administration (VA). These vehicles are used to transport veterans who have no other means of transportation to and from VA approved appointments. Volunteers from across the state of Montana drive through all conditions to help veterans receive the care they have earned. 

VA Montana, in conjunction with DAV, needs more volunteer drivers. Many of our volunteers are veterans, who want to give back to their brothers and sisters. We also have volunteers who haven’t served in the armed forces, but want to help those who gave so much to our country.

We welcome licensed drivers, over 18 years old, who are interested in this program to contact Voluntary Service, VA Montana Health Care, at (406) 447-7345 to receive more information.

Let us remember and serve our veterans not only on Veterans Day, but every day.

Terrie Casey

VA Montana Health Care

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 November 2015 19:48

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Talk about wacky

In the Oct. 29 Editor’s Notebook, David Crisp described Donald Trump’s plan to round up and deport 11 million border-ignoring, law-breaking criminals as “wacky.”

Fair enough.

In 1995 Sen. Dianne Feinstein said if she could have she would have banned guns, and said, “Mr. and Mrs. America, turn in your guns.”

Well, what if they didn’t?

The government would have to repeal the prohibition against ex-post facto laws and essentially suspend the Constitution to, today, round up 300 million guns from 100 million previously law-abiding and Constitution-abiding citizens. The idea must be that through this process they’ll get to the criminals eventually.

They would have to kill trees for search warrants. Oh right, they suspended the Constitution, my bad!

They would have to borrow billions of dollars to buy electric cars for the police so they wouldn’t pollute the environment while rounding up the 300 million guns, but, of course, the politicians would exempt themselves so they could ride around in their impressive, gas-guzzling limos.

If people are really sophisticated they’ve already spotted the reason behind the philosophy of politicians like Sen. Feinstein. The reason is they want the same procedures followed in any political corruption cases.

Instead of following clues and narrowing down the suspects to people in office and the people who want to influence them, they want to start the investigation with a waitress in Sandusky, Ohio, and then, through the process of elimination, check out all 330 million of us before finally getting to the politicians and other people involved.

Wacky! Thank you, Editor Crisp!

Jack MacKenzie


Last Updated on Thursday, 05 November 2015 11:54

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Best government money can buy

It recently came to light that Northwestern Energy charged customers at least $8.5 million after their coal-fired power plant at Colstrip broke down in 2013. The company passed along replacement power costs directly to us without going through the Public Service Commission.

Consumer protection groups are now objecting to this charge on the basis that it is unfair for ratepayers to bail out NWE for their poor decision-making. That’s sensible.

Why is it that the company bought a lemon for a plant yet ratepayers have to foot the bill? It’s not right, but I predict that Northwestern Energy is going to win this fight. This company gets the best government money can buy.

What most Montanans do not know is that NorthWestern Energy has legal guarantees in place that ensure that they will make the same profit whether their plants are running or not. The company also gets to bypass the regulatory process and transfer the entire cost of buying replacement power directly to customers while their plants are being repaired.

In other words, the company has little incentive to keeps its power generating facilities running and in fact it gets to “double dip” from customers when they break down.

You should be very concerned about this. In 2014 NWE purchased hydroelectric generating facilities from PPL for $900 million. The fact is, they’ve now bought very expensive generating facilities that ratepayers must assume the risk for repairing. How was this allowed to happen?

As many of us remember, Northwestern Energy bought the distribution sector of our power grid when the Montana Power Co. was broken up in the early ’90s.

Since NWE owned only poles and wires, it was not expected to bear any of the financial risk of power plants breaking down. A law was written such that NWE could pass outage costs directly to its customers. At that time, it kind of made sense.

Times have changed. Today, NorthWestern Energy owns many power plants yet is still allowed to utilize the same pass-through mechanism they had when they were just a distribution company. This is unfair. Plant outages are a risk that should impact a utility’s bottom line. Other states have developed cost-sharing mechanisms for when breakdowns occur, and even within our state Montana-Dakota Utilities shares outage costs because they are subject to different laws than Northwestern Energy.

Is it fair to have different laws for different companies? I don’t think so. We tried to do something about it.

During the last session, Rep. Randy Pinnoci and I (who rarely agreed on policy issues) introduced House Bill 189, which would have repealed the “special treatment” regulation regarding power outages that NWE employs to its advantage. The bill was vigorously opposed by the Northwestern Energy lobbyists and their voting bloc in the legislature. HB 189 was killed in committee and then stymied on the House floor when we attempted to bring it to a vote.

We all lost. Northwestern Energy won. Again.

Simply put, government in the U.S. should be by and for people, not by and for corporations.

Northwestern Energy has far, far too much influence on your legislature. Some of your elected officials are working for you on energy fairness issue, but we are still a minority. Keep that in mind when election season rolls around again. Make your voice heard.

Rep. Tom Woods


Last Updated on Thursday, 29 October 2015 22:15

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Schmitz for City Council

I am writing in support of Nathan Schmitz for Billings City Council. Nathan is the principal of Elder Grove School. He has shown how he can be an advocate for schools and solve problems they face.

As the principal of Elder Grove he has experience in dealing with politically funded budgets and he knows how to stretch resources to cover priority needs. As an administrator, Nathan has experience with hiring and managing staff, which the council will have to do after the current city administrator steps down. Nathan’s roots run deep, he was born and raised in Billings and he understands the values and priorities that are important to Billings families.

Nathan has the experience to effectively serve the public as a council member for Ward 4.

Lisa Larr


Last Updated on Thursday, 29 October 2015 22:15

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Candidates must return calls

I made 5 (five) calls to a lady who said she wanted to run for City Council. She came by my house and dropped off a flier with all her political points. On there was a phone number.

I called that number five times trying to speak with her since I was not at home when the flier was left. I don’t like to email a person who wants my vote when I really want to get to know them and see what they want to try to do at City council.

I did not get a return call so I feel like I do not matter to her. So why should I vote for her?

Ms. Kerry-Seekins-Crowe, I did not vote for you because you could not make a simple phone call to me.

Think, people. If she wouldn’t call me about my concerns, would she care about yours?

Terri Hill


Last Updated on Thursday, 22 October 2015 22:08

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