A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

1 July 2016

Sen. Tester votes against hedge fund slavery for Puerto Rico


Along with Senators Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders, and nine other Democrats, Jon Tester voted against the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act two days ago. Puerto Rico is in big financial trouble and needs help, but Tester and his colleagues considered PROMESA too harsh.

Sen. Steve Daines also voted against PROMESA, but I’ve found no evidence he considered the bill too draconian.

And draconian it is, reports Isaiah Poole at the Campaign for America’s future:

The legislation – which has the acronym PROMESA, Spanish for “promise” – imposes on the island’s approximately 3.5 million residents a financial control board that will determine how the government spends its money and how businesses on the island are regulated. That control board would have the power to slash government spending in order to ensure that Wall Street investors who purchased Puerto Rico bonds would be paid.

It also allows the federal minimum wage on the island to be lowered to $4.25 an hour for workers 24 and under. Plus, businesses in Puerto Rico would not have to comply with regulations that would increase the number of workers eligible for overtime pay that will go into effect December 1. That means workers earning as little as $24,000 a year could be asked to work 50, 60, 70 hours or more a week without earning an extra dime in pay.

The legislation sends an unmistakable message: If you are a financially struggling Puerto Rican – and that is most of the island’s residents – you will be expected to sacrifice more: fewer government services, lower wages and higher taxes. For the wealthy, it says, in so many words, “We got your back.”

Worse, reports Poole:

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton supported this legislation, calling it “imperfect” but nonetheless joining a number of House and Senate Democrats who felt pressured by the July 1 default deadline to agree to many of the demands of conservative Republicans and Wall Street lobbyists.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, was among the Democrats who voted against the bill, calling it on the Senate floor “legislation smacking of the worst form of colonialism, in the sense that it takes away all of the important democratic rights of the American citizens of Puerto Rico.”

A tip of the hat to you, Sen. Tester, for voting against this shameful hedge fund relief act.



30 June 2016

News reports of a man killed by a bear near Glacier National Park

A note to readers outside of Montana. Yesterday, as you may have heard, a man riding a mountain bicycle was killed by a bear on a trail near Glacier National Park, in the vicinity of West Glacier. It will be a while before we know for sure what happened.  Update at 13:49:55 MDT:   the Beacon now reports that although the bear was identified as a grizzly, authorities collected biological material for a DNA analysis to confirm the species.

If you’re following the story, I recommend starting with the Flathead Beacon newspaper. Other local and regional coverage will be available at the Daily InterLake in Kalispell, and the Missoulian, in Missoula.



29 June 2016

Will Weyerhaeuser’s closures remove “golden handcuffs” from workers?

Flathead Beacon business columnist Mark Riffey thinks that might be the case for some of the Weyerhaeuser mill workers who are losing their jobs. Trying to put a positive gloss on the situation, and to encourage positive thinking, Riffey, neither an uncaring man nor an unprincipled defender of corporate evil, writes:

…read the rest


28 June 2016

CSKT Compact implementation technical team & website

While the political dispute over the CSKT water compact, approved last year by Montana’s legislature, has moved to Congress, the practical steps needed to implement the compact are being made, quietly. One is the formation of the CSKT Compact Implementation Technical Team, which now has its own website where those interested can subscribe to announcements (I just did).

… read the rest


27 June 2016

Note to readers

Flathead Memo is standing down today.


26 June 2016

Petunia blanca


24 June 2016


23 June 2016

Shutdown of Weyerhaeuser wood products mills at C. Falls no surprise

No one who contemplated Weyerhaeuser’s acquisition of Plum Creek for more than five seconds was surprised by yesterday’s announcement that the lumber and plywood mills at Columbia Falls are closing, with a net loss of at least 100 jobs that pay well. If the operation were still profitable and its economic future bright, Plum Creek’s owners would not have cashed out.

…read the rest