Monday, January 31, 2011

State Employee Hires up 9% -- Average Pay Up 26%

Today’s Billings Gazette reports that State Government has hired nearly 1.000 new full-time employees since 2004. The report, derived from the Legislative Fiscal Division does not include additional hires for the state university system. In addition to the extra hires a related report shows an increase in average state employee salary of over 26%. Considering that the average state employee is paid $44,590 these 1,000 extra employees are costing us over 44 million dollars per year plus the $733 dollars per month the state pays for their healthcare plan and about $500 per month towards their retirement plan. Not small change by any means.

Also the average state employee salary has jumped over 26% in this same time frame or approximately $9,000 per head. Now forgive me if I am wrong as I took math at Havre High but it would seem that taking $9,000 times the total number of state employees added another 110 million or so to our already bloated budget, not to mention benefits.

The Republicans have been heartily bragging about working towards a state budget cut of 5% this session but it hardly seems enough in light of what some would say is prior excessive growth of our state government over the last 6 years or so.

Read the full story in the Billings Gazette

Another Tester "Unbelievable"

 Senator “No Earmarks Ever” Tester, who you may remember campaigned on “getting the boys home” and cutting military spending, apparently has had a change of heart. CBS News reports that Senators Levin, Reed and our own Senator Tester are pushing for president Obama to “quickly approve” a plan to increase funding to the Afghan National Army and the Afghan police force for around 70,000 new security force members compliments of you and I, the American Taxpayer.

This is just the kind of thing that happens every time these numb-skulls go on one of those campaign trips disguised as a “fact finding tour”. Just how is this a cut in military spending Senator Tester? It is obvious you can’t believe one dang thing this guy says.

Read the full report over at CBS News and don’t forget to take a look at the picture of these three stooges over at Newsday

Representative Hansen's take on HB334

We recieved this update from HD 33 Representative Kris Hansen on Worker's Compensation Reform on Saturday.  ...........thanks for keeping us informed


Since Workers' Compensation is such a big issue this time, I wanted to send you some information on HB 334 which will have a hearing in House Business & Labor Committee on January 31. HB 334 is an alternative to HB87 which came out of the Labor-Management Advisory Council. I think there is a growing general consensus that HB87 would not do enough to curb the extraordinary rates we pay in Montana. The numbers I heard, at best, would have reduced Work Comp costs by 1%, and might have even caused an increase of up to 4%.

Especially in smaller communities, there are many family-run businesses that operate on tight margins with slim profits. Workers’ comp costs can be the final straw that ends up closing down these local employers. For larger operations, it can mean the difference between doing business here in Montana or going several hundred miles across the border.

Take for instance a company that pays a coal miner $50,000 a year. Under the current system, the employer pays more than $3,000 in workers’ comp costs over 12 months. By comparison, a similar employer in Wyoming pays only $500 in workers’ comp costs for an employee who earns the same wage.

With that writing on the wall for HB87, Representative Scott Reichner of Big Fork, started working to see if something else could be done to more drastically reduce the Work Comp costs faster. Montana has by far the highest workers’ compensation rates in the country. Alaska is second-highest at #49, and Montana would have to come down 11% just to get to #49.

One of the things we talked about so much during the campaign was reducing these Work Comp cost and creating opportunities for more jobs in Montana. This is why I am supportive of HB334. It is likely this is going to be one of the biggest jobs bills of the session. It will allow more money to stay in employers' hands instead of going to pay the awful rates they currently have to pay to insure their employees. They can use that extra money to invest in or expand their businesses and to hire new employees. That makes for the possibility of reinvestment in local economies.

Before he introduced the bill, Rep. Reichner sent it to the NCCI, which reviews Work Comp laws to see what their impacts would have on rates. As I understand it, all the insurers use NCCI, so there is no partisan spin on it. NCCI’s assessment of HB334 says that in the first year after implementation, workers’ comp costs will decrease anywhere from 21% to 44%. Not "may" but "will." And that is just in the first year. It will get better after that. If we hit the 21% figure, we would move from 50th in the nation to about 45th. If we hit the 44% figure, we would move to about 23rd in the nation. Those are major savings that have an immediate impact on jobs in our community.

Some of the things that are proposed to change in HB334 include modifying the permanent partial disability component of workers’ compensation. PPD claims only represent 9% of claims, but they account for almost 70% of the total costs. Another major component of HB334 is that it provides for closure of medical benefits 5 years after the date of injury with a few exceptions for more serious cases or for prosthetics and things like that. In other words, a Work Comp claim won't stay open for a lifetime with employers never knowing if a closed case can be re-opened and paying higher rates because of it.

Another thing the bill will address is what is called "course and scope" problems. Right now, because of some court decisions, an employer's Work Comp insurer might have to pay Work Comp benefits to an employee for accidents that didn't happen "within the course and scope of the employer's business." For instance, if an employee leaves work on a break and goes home to let out the dog and falls down and breaks his arm, the employer's Work Comp insurance might have to cover that accident. But Work Comp is supposed to cover work-related injuries that were under the employer's control or at least within the scope of the employer's business, for instance, an employee of McDonald's slips on french-fry oil and breaks his arm. Work Comp should not cover accidents that happen while an employee is doing his own business on his own time. HB334 would clarify what "course and scope" can mean.

Anyway, hope this helps you get some good information out to our folks. There are some other, smaller Work Comp bills in the hopper also, but this is the big one. It has the potential to have the biggest impact fastest.


Note* --  HB 334 can be found here

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Honolulu Football with Mike Mariani

Interesting article in the Helena Independent Record yesterday featuring former Havre Football coach Troy Purcell, Havre’s own Gary Wagner who quarterbacks for the Carroll Saints, and Marc Mariani of the Tennessee Titans.  It seems all three will be in Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium this Sunday.  Read the story at the Independent Record.

One Unpitted Olive

Anyone remember Dennis Kucinich? He was one of the many Democrat candidates for President in 2008. Well you will be sad to learn that while eating at the Capital Food Service Congressman Kucinich bit into an unpitted olive that was inadvertently placed in his sandwich and “broke a tooth.”

The pain and suffering Mr. Kucinich has endured since this unfortunate accident has led him to file a lawsuit against the food service providers for $150,000 in district court. The cost of the dental repairs most likely won’t be a factor in the suit because Kucinich is covered by dental insurance in that “Cadillac” policy provided free of charge by we the taxpayers. What is interesting is the fact that this “accident” occurred back in April of 2008 yet Democrat Kucinich silently suffered for over 3 years before the dollar signs came on in his head and he filed suit. Perhaps he didn’t want something this ridiculous to be an issue during his presidential run. Just who is this idiot?

Kucinich’s former re-election website makes the claim that he is “America’s most courageous congressman.” Kucinich makes the claim on his congressional website that a “not-for-profit” healthcare system ran by our government would lower healthcare costs for everyone yet it is exactly actions like this lawsuit that drive up our liability costs.

No Mr. Kucinich, what would lower healthcare costs is sweeping tort reform that would include a mandate for a minimum number of days in jail for people filing frivolous lawsuits because they are opportunists seeking a lottery win. Lawyers taking these cases should also be mandated to join you in your jail cell.

Story sources: Cheeky? ----  Kucinich website

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bills to Cure the "Boozers"

I absolutely love the Flint Report that is found over on the Northern Ag Network website. The author, Aaron Flint, posts breaking news and comments throughout the day. Today Aaron pointed out HD 58 Representative Krayton Kerns very interesting take on why the Governor called all the incoming legislatures a “bunch of boozers” a couple of weeks ago. With over 15 legislative actions being formulated to cure the drunken driving problem in Montana Krayton asserts that every legislator will be afraid to vote against any of the Governors “solutions” for fear of being labeled pro-drunk driving. Krayton points out that one of the bills empowers a “police state” that would be in direct violation of our constitutional rights. I tend to agree and 15 more laws is the last thing we need.

Read the whole article on Krayton’s Website.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Havre’s HD 33 Representative Kris Hansen is making a splash in Helena

It seems that local Representative Kris Hansen has been making a bit of a splash in her first term in Helena. We have been hearing reports that she is one of the few that reads every bill before voting and she has taken a no nonsense approach to moving legislation along. Today the Rotunda Report said;

“Representative Kris Hansen, from Havre, is one of the most exciting new freshmen legislators in the 2011 session.”
Congratulations Ms. Hansen from one of your proud constituents back home in Havre. For once I have finally voted for someone that hasn’t embarrassed me with idiotic views that seem to pop into most winning politicians heads the day after the election

Read the full Rotunda Report here.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Don't you dare ask Commissioner Wendland about Oil and Gas Exploration in Hill County

The Hill County Commissioners held a county officials meeting Thursday morning where the Department heads were told things don’t look to rosy financially for this next year. Each was asked to tighten up where they could and was warned that there was no extra money to be had. Basically the meeting continued along the “gloom and doom” theme and the commissioners said they could find no extra money for this year.

What I find ironic is that when one of the Department Heads started asking about what the commissioners could do to expand oil and gas exploration and thus our local county revenue Commissioner Mike Wendland went into a wacky tirade about “crime and corruption” that follows the drilling industry. We were told Wendland said “We can’t have that in our community”

I find it very interesting that we still have a commissioner that doesn’t remember the “good old days” when oil and gas revenues provided the bulk of our county budget. What would the county currently do without the tax revenues generated by those “scourges of corruption” like Devon Energy, Klabzuba Oil, Ocean Energy and etc? Or for that matter even side-sector beneficiaries of the industry like Patrick Excavating and competitors or the building contractors that generate tens of thousands of dollars worth of business in the oil and gas field every year?

Leave it to Commissioner Mike Wendland to again spout off something bizarre like he is becoming noted for at most public meetings. This guy comes off as a very angry person that always looks at every topic with a negative outlook in every meeting we ever hear anything about. Instead of worrying about all this theoretical nonsense the Commissioners should have learned their lesson after we lost the new Prison to Shelby because of a few  nay-sayers like Wendland that thought the prison too would bring that “corruption" to Hill County. Funny thing is Shelby looks like a boom town to me and I am yet to find that “seedy” element when I visit their town.

It is readily apparent to me that now that Commissioner Anderson is gone I am going to have to dust off my Monkey Suit for the new Negative Mike Monkey.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

CTEP Funds Burning a Hole In Havre Council’s Pocket

It seems that the Community Transportation Enhancement Program (CTEP) funds are burning a hole in the pocket of the Havre Council. Monday the Havre City Council in all their glorious and infinite wisdom voted to give over $148,000 dollars of our taxpayer money to local businessmen Garret Edmonds, owner of Office Equipment, Dave Shaw, owner of the Atrium mall, and Debra Healy, owner of a portion of the Atrium parking lot This money is to be used for the replacement of the sidewalks around the Atrium and Shaw, Edmonds and Healy agreed to kick in the $20,000 the State of Montana requires for matching funds.

The Council also approved giving $56,000 to Lincoln-McKinley School for sidewalk replacement and an additional $18,000 to the Senior Center to cure sidewalk and drainage issues at the center. Before the Mayor could even finish reading the Bill detailing the information for the vote Councilman Vies is calling for the vote as he usually does to keep things speeding along so he can get home for Monday night football. Councilman Woodwick objected to lumping all three of these proposed projects together and wanted to vote on them separately which then required a council vote on that motion. Council person Pam Hillary and Vies vote to keep them together as one vote. Vies again just wanting to keep things moving along and Hillary voting no because “she was afraid some would vote against the Atrium project if “separated” The Lincoln-McKinley and Senior Citizens projects pass unanimously but Woodwick had some problems with using up most of Havre’s CTEP funding on a privately owned business like the Atrium. The only two councilmen that appear to have the greater good of the taxpayers at heart were Andrew Brekke and Woody Woodwick that had the courage to vote NO to this free mania from heaven for Edmonds, Shaw and Healy although Councilman Cal Long mentioned he also had concerns as he was casting his yes vote

Now that the Havre Council has pissed off most all of their CTEP budget into private businessman’s pockets I wonder what we will do when a needed project needs funded on one of our publically owned properties. While some people do think the Atrium project needs done because the public uses the sidewalks I would remind our readers that these sidewalks were in a state of disrepair when Shaw, Edmonds and Healy bought this property at fire sale prices. Are we now going to be in the habit of gifting repair money to business people wanting a free fix in other projects?

Where do we sign up?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

General “No Earmarks Ever” Tester taking Control of the Iraq Problem

You will be happy to know that self appointed General “No-Earmarks Ever” Tester is jetting off to Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen with two of his Democrat Capitol Hill bedfellows to take control of what is happening in our war time involvement in the mid-east. According to the Rhode Island Journal Tester will be traveling with Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Senator Carl Levin of Michigan. Interestingly this is Senator Reed’s 11th trip to Afghanistan and his 15th to Iraq. It appears if you don’t learn anything the first trip just keep bilking the taxpayers for more and more trips until you get some results.

Funny thing is I seem to recall that Tester campaigned on two things when he ran against Conrad Burns. First he was going to end the war by voting NO to war funding. In reality what he did was to vote for every war spending increase that the Messiah Obama brought to congress. Second he was going to be cleaning up the “culture of corruption” in Washington D.C. and he was going to start with eliminating all earmarks. We all know how that has been playing out. So what is this trip really all about? There is a suggestion over at The Hill that this trip may just “burnish” Tester’s tarnished image with the voters for his upcoming re-election campaign. Tester defends this trip by saying;
“The best way to get a picture of what’s happening in Iraq and Afghanistan is to go there myself and talk with the folks making the decisions and the folks with boots on the ground”
At this point Tester’s re-election prospects don’t look good and it seems other Democrats up for re-election in 2012 are simply jumping ship while they are still able to bow out with a little shred of dignity. Maybe Jon should bow out early also and save the taxpayers money spent campaigning under the guise of “fact finding” missions.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Salary Caps for State Employees?

We are going to be trying to keep everyone posted on some of the more interesting happenings occurring at the State legislature over the next week or so. This interesting suggestion was posted by Senator Dave Lewis over at the Rotunda Report.

Dave suggests that the legislature cap State employee salaries at a maximum of twice the median household income in the State of Montana. Dave says

"Setting the maximum salary at twice the median household income for the state comes out to around $85,000 for the cap. That may be seen as generous by some. One county in my Senate District had a median household income of $30,000 in 2008. Complaining that $85,000 isn’t enough probably will not play all that well in rural Montana."

What do you think of this idea?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Illegals and Montana Worker's Comp

Most everyone knows that businesses in Montana are strapped by an overly expensive Worker’s compensation program that has been consistently ranked 50th in the nation. Naturally our State Worker’s Compensation Insurance executives are not ranked as the poorest paid and most over worked in the nation.
In reality they should be if their pay was based on performance like it is in most private industry.  Just what is adequate compensation for a team of executives that systematically guides a company into last place year after year?
Various “fixes” are being proposed by the Montana Legislature this session and Representative Gordon Vance, R-Bozeman, submitted House Bill 71 which in essence said that illegal aliens would no longer qualify to collect worker’s compensation benefits. Probably not a huge savings but it’s a start – baby steps but still moving towards the lofty goal of reform. What happened when Vance’s bill went to hearing on Monday you ask? Surprise – surprise! A parade of folks from groups like the Montana Trial Lawyers’ Association, the American Civil Liberties Union and their ilk came scampering into the chambers to bemoan the “wisdom” of Vance’s Bill.

I am getting nauseous just thinking about these idiots. You can read a related story by Phil Drake over at the Montana Watchdog.

Friday, January 7, 2011

It’s All Bush’s Fault

Or is it?

Hill County -- Home of the Dumb and Stupid

Havre and Hill County have always seemed to have more than our share of dim-bulbs but the guy in this story takes the cake. Jonathan Ray Gonsalez from Box Elder was in a car that was pulled over by Great Falls police and when asked his name used a false name that just happened to belong to a guy with several active arrest warrants. A search of Gonsalez revealed illegal drugs resulting in additional charges. Nobody ever said that the criminal element is intelligent.

On the bright side tho I noticed when I Goggled “Jonathan Ray Gonsalez” that the Tribune story written by staff writer Kimball Bennion has been picked up by news organizations all over the world making Gonsalez instantly infamous.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Obama Appoints “Carp” Czar

According to the Corruption Chronicles President Obama appointed John Goss as a fish Czar to oversee a $78.5 million dollar program to battle against an Asian Carp invasion of the Great Lakes.

Apparently the President wasn’t paying attention to the voter’s message in November.

One Last Dastardly Despicable Deed from the Departing Hill County Commissioner

It appears that defeated Hill County Commissioner Mike Anderson couldn’t resist taking one last poke at his old courthouse rival retiring Superintendent of schools Shirley Isabel. In what was billed as a going away party at the courthouse Anderson went on and on about outgoing treasurer Carrie Dickson’s 20 years of service and presented her with a nice plaque as a memento of her time at the courthouse. It soon became painfully obvious to everyone in attendance that the retiring Isabel, who worked over 25 years in the courthouse as the superintendent of schools, was going to be ignored by Anderson. A person attending the party told us that most of the crowd became extremely uncomfortable and many were glowing crimson in the shame of the occasion. After a deafening silence fellow commissioner Mike Wendland finally asked Shirley Isabel if she wanted to say anything. Shirley, who was hurt and visibly shaken by the rudeness said a few words and scurried away from the embarrassing and uncomfortable occasion.

Interestingly, Commissioner Kathy Bessette who worked with Shirley all of her 25 years in the courthouse stood silently by looking at the floor. No matter the political differences the Commissioners had with Isabel this was another childish exhibit of just why we at the Corrector think they all need to be replaced. Shirley put her heart and soul into her job these past 25 years and deserved better than the kick in the pants she took from these idiots. I can hardly wait for next election so we can kiss one more of these unprofessional childish commissioners goodbye.

What I really find disgusting is the political payoff given to Anderson when he was anointed to a $60,000 per year management job in the insurance auditor’s office after he was stomped in the primary election. Supposedly he is going to oversee the investigations of the auditor’s office in Helena. He has no prior experience at this type of work, has no training other than his high school diploma received from Havre High in 1980 and is being hired simply as a spoils of a political system run amuck.

Bye Bye and good riddance
Please forgive us Mike if we fail to run by to kiss you goodbye and give you a plaque.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I Am Little Shell

The following is an artcle sent to the HDC by a Little Shell Tribal member.

Thank you for rec. my email,

I am Little Shell. I am one of many members of the Little Tribal Community who in 2009 asked for the State of Montana to investigate funding allocated to our tribal community. It was not that I knew of any misconduct by the tribal leadership, it was more of a hunch that if leadership misrepresents the trust of the community, that misrepresentation would take place with others. In this case, the State of Montana and Montana Citizens.

I liked the heading of the Havre Daily Corrector, “Little Shell Hideout”, regarding Mr. Sinclair’s moving the Little Shell offices to Havre. There are many who believe he is withholding financial records from the State of Montana auditors. And this may be so ….. however, there are records that have been created during Mr. Sinclair’s administration that would demonstrate an even greater violation toward the Little Shell Tribal Community.

In 2009 I called the Great Falls offices. I expressed an interest in finding a tribal member. My simple question was to find out if this person was still registered as a member. The response to my question was, YES. I have to admit, I was not surprised.

In 2000, I came into tribal leadership information, whereby an individual was interested in changing his tribal loyalty, and joining the Little Shell Tribe. At the time the individual was registered as a Metis. Metis are a Tribal Community recognized within Canada. There is no recognition of the Matis here as a result of Canadian Governments acknowledgement.

Within the context of that tribal leadership information from this individual, the lawyer had expressed his intent and further acknowledged his desire to become the tribal leader. The 2000 Little Shell Tribal Leadership dismissed this person, yet underestimated his desire to accomplish this intent. He made contact with several potential tribal leaders during a special election. Thus a partnership was forged and sealed with a weak link we know as “Sinclair” and the lawyer. Sinclair was unaware of our knowledge of this individuals intent. So we watched, listened, and reported what we knew to the respected tribal elder, the State of Montana and the BIA.

What ‘Sinclair” and the lawyer are hiding in Havre are records of hundreds of Metis that have been added to the Little Shell Tribal rolls. This alliance between Sinclair and the Lawyer was to ensure that the recognition did not take place and this would be insured with the continued registration of Metis. After all, the State of Montana already recognizes The Little Shell Tribe which is worth a couple hundred thousand dollars a year. If the BIA sees the truth of what is being registered, they will have to reject the Little Shell Tribe recognition.

We as Little Shell Tribal members are aware of these kinds of tactics by Lawyers. This has been attempted all over the United States. In point, the State of California and many others. What should be acknowledged is that had the Little Shell Tribal Community been a recognized tribe, Sinclair and Lawyer would be prosecuted under Federal Law, and in prison. There are many of us within the Little Shell Tribal Community who have presented the evidence. We thank the State of Montana and the Citizens of Montana for investigating this fraud.