Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sunday Gazette roundup and branding

Front page on Mike Lange: Montana Headlines has never met Lange, but is looking forward to an interview. So he's thinking of challenging Baucus? Now that might actually be fun. When you're running a race where you know you've got nothing to lose, your candidate had better be a pistol. We can just hear Lange debating Max "man of the people" Baucus in Butte: "So, Max, let's talk union cards. You show me yours and I'll show you mine."

The "divvying bill": Maybe Montana Headlines hasn't been paying attention, but this is the first report in the press, that we've noticed, telling us that dividing the spending megabill HB2 into multiple parts is the way the state did it until 1977. Listening to the squealing from the left side of the aisle, we had mistakenly thought that Mike Lange and the House Republicans were proposing to burn the Montana Constitution on the front steps of the State Capitol.

Montana Democrats weigh in on Iraq: Feeling shortchanged by only getting to be involved in water wars with Wyoming and Canada, a Butte state senator wants to put the Montana legislature's vast experience in waging overseas wars to use. Washington insiders have confided to Montana Headlines that the resolution, should it pass, will likely go straight to the desk of General Petraeus. He needs to know that Democrats in the Montana state Senate have studied the situation closely on the ground, and after their classified briefings are recommending that he not be sent more troops.

Selling federal lands: Montana Headlines understands that once the government has something, good luck trying to get it to part with it. Every April 15th is a reminder of that. No-one is going to allow the selling of public land. But if the federal government insists on holding onto the land, there has to be a provision for funding county governments when income from leases dries up. Private land is subject to property taxes, so selling it would solve funding issues. Max Baucus, however, apparently has a secret alternative plan for funding county governments.

Keeping teacher certification out of the hands of the riff-raff: Montana Headlines has never understood the rigidity of the teacher certification process, except as a sort of monopoly to exclude potential competition from people who know Chemistry or Latin cold but haven't taken courses like Educational Psychology. In May, high school seniors aren't allowed to learn from anyone but a certified teacher. In September, they find they can learn quite well from a faculty that contains none.

When a bill suggesting local control of the certification process was introduced on the House floor Saturday, public education advocates in the gallery responded by imitating the students in their classrooms. No reports yet on whether any Republicans were hit by spitballs.

Ed Kemmick's City Lights: You, sir, have no shame. What next, gondola rides in Billings canals?

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