Friday, February 29, 2008

Tussing to run for PSC 2

We always knew that Billings Mayor Ron Tussing's healthy sense of self-esteem was going to take him further into the political arena. The question was where, and now we know that his target -- for now, anyway -- is PSC District 2, which covers Billings and most of southeastern Montana.

Not that there isn't a bit of ego involved in all political activity -- including blogging (after all, isn't it a bit presumptuous to think that others might actually be interested in one's opinions?) -- but some exhibit a talent for being at the head of that particular class.

When the City of Billings came in on the losing end of a $1.3 million dollar lawsuit brought by a police officer, jurors interviewed by the Billings Gazette confirmed that the "smug and arrogant" attitude of Mayor Tussing and some other police department supervisors was a big reason that the City of Billings lost that case. Our own discreet inquiries confirmed that Ron Tussing was indeed the city's own worst enemy at that trial.

During the course of this PSC race, Montana Headlines will of course be reprising segments of "The House that Ron Tussing Built" -- our series of posts that dissected the Feuerstein lawsuit, one of the biggest financial disasters ever to befall the City of Billings. All courtesy of Ron Tussing's leadership, or rather lack thereof.

It is really amusing that when Tussing announced today that he is running as a Democrat for the District 2 PSC seat, he talked about the money that current Republican PSC Commissioner Brad Molnar had supposedly cost the consumer.

Never mind the fact that Molnar has consistently been someone who has fought for things to keep utility rates affordable. Never mind the fact that the only thing that Tussing could point to was Molnar's involvement in deregulation way back when he was a legislator. Never mind the fact that deregulation was a bipartisan project at the time.

But what exactly does Tussing have to lay at Molnar's feet in his performance as Commissioner? (Insert sound of e-crickets.) Certainly nothing on a par with the damage that Tussing has single-handedly done to the City of Billings, or the money he has cost the taxpayers of this city: the fat six-figure payoff that it took the city to get him to step down from his tumultuous tenure as police chief, and the $1.3 million dollar lawsuit (plus hefty legal costs.)

Deregulation of utilities may have been a mistake on the part of Republican and Democratic legislators alike. But if so, it was an honest mistake born of good intentions. By contrast, Tussing showed what can reasonably seen as personal dishonesty by taking a pay-off from the City of Billings and signing an agreement not to seek employment with the City (i.e. it was "get out of our hair" money that he voluntarily took) -- only to turn around and run for mayor.

We will ask the question we have asked repeatedly. If, while negotiating his buyout, Tussing had announced that he was planning to run for mayor, would the city have offered him such a sweet severance package? It is ridiculous even to ask the question -- but it needs to be answered: of course not.

We hope that Tussing loses the Democratic primary, but we are concerned about how fairly the race will be covered if he wins. Will the press has go easy on Tussing? Will reporters who cover the PSC treat Molnar fairly? We'll see.

This race may get ugly, but Montana Headlines can be counted on to have Molnar's back, now more than ever.


Anonymous said...

Brad Molnar wasted how much of our tax dollars with his ill-advised, ill-fated lawsuit against his own entity, the PSC? And over what? His own creation called Deregulation. He didn't just vote for it. He was an original sponsor. At least some good Republicans like John Harp have apologized for dereg. Where's Molnar's apology? His stupid lawsuit was recently dismissed by the Montana Supreme Court.

Justice Nelson wrote a concurring opinion in which he said the court should, on its own motion, assess attorney's fees against Molnar. Justice Nelson wrote,"There is no reason taxpayers and ratepayers should have to fund the fund the defense of this nonsense and there is no reason that the courts should have to deal with it."

Anonymous said...

The first thing a guy can do if elected to public office is show up for work. Commish Molnar has missed several meetings during his tenure. He's even misused the "company phone" to the point that the phone was taken away from him--a dubious distinction among his peers. Molnar's flim flam law suit against the PSC was a thinly veiled attempt to distract from his own orchestration of the debacle known as deregulation. Every Montanan on a fixed income who's paying double the energy bills thanks to Brad can remember this when they go to the polls in the November. It will be a pleasure to watch him go down in the flames of his own vitriol.

Anonymous said...

Billings gain, the state's loss.

Montana Headlines said...

If any commenter wishes to make a convincing case on Montana Headlines, citing Justice Nelson -- one of the most partisan Democratic sympathizers on the Montana Supreme Court, is not a great way to go about it. The MTLA knew just what they were getting when they lined up their superstars to each write 5 figure checks to support his campaign.

Regarding whether Molnar misses more work, etc. than other commissioners, we have no idea. We do know that Yellowstone County Commissioner Bill Kennedy missed lots of meetings campaigning first for Sec. State and then Congress -- ones that are held in his hometown (unlike PSC meetings) -- and Democrats never complained one bit.

Molnar is a feisty sort, who doesn't hesitate to mix it up and who seems to get under Democratic skin. He is not cut from the Montana Headlines mold when it comes to discourse -- but then we believe that everyone has the right to a unique style, and Molnar certainly has his.

The intricacies of his lawsuit against the PSC over deregulation, let alone the arcana of Russ Doty's vendetta lawsuit against Molnar since the last election (which he has predictably kept going through into this election,) are beyond the scope of what most people are interested in -- even in a political junkie kind of place like a blog.

Regardless, the last thing we need right now is a PSC controlled by the Democratic Party, which imposes environmental restrictions without telling the public just what they will cost them in increased rates.

We're all for clean air and water, as is every Montanan, but it is important that ratepayers understand what environmental benefits they are getting from this or that policy and exactly how much it is going to cost them.

Finally, if I'm not mistaken, at the heart of Molnar's lawsuit is the fact that when a public entity such as the PSC is going to take action that will have the binding effect of law, there have to be proper hearings with proper notice -- just as the legislature does.

We're sure that this will get plenty of press and discussion during the upcoming campaign, and we will all be enlightened.

Anonymous said...

Feisty sort? yeah, i'd say that's an understatement. He's already been convicted of assault and battery.

Anonymous said...

Several of Brad's political homies on the Supreme Court voted to throw out his suit along with Nelson. Details are a beyatch aren't they?Distract all you want but Molnar was the original sponsor of deregulation in the House. Whey did he vote against two special sessions to undo his mistake. And now he's opposed to wind energy? Is the guy just committed to be on the wrong side of everything?

Anonymous said...

I'm not a real partisan sort, and I'd be interested in knowing more about whether what the person is saying is true ... is Molnar missing a lot more meetings than his PSC colleagues? Did he have some phone privileges taken away? etc?

But as you noted, citing Judge Nelson isn't a real convincing argument, as he is a strident Democrat, and the press lets him get away with some highly partisan stuff on the court. I recall seeing a little news story that said Nelson spoke to a pro abortion rally a couple years ago. I also saw a short news item about how he attended a fundraiser for a gay/lesbian rights group as the featured guest.

The obvious question these things raised for me was: Doesn't this sort of thing violate the canons of judicial ethics? I can understand a judge doing educational speeches, but I don't remember a judge who has ever been so blatant about advocacy while on the bench. And the press has simply ignored his behavior. Of course it wouldn't if Nelson were taking the opposite positions.

Then all hell would be breaking loose.

Montana Headlines said...

Regarding Molnar being convicted of assault and battery -- Mr. Anonymous, please provide a link ASAP to a news report that documents this. A Google search reveals nothing, nor does a Gazette search.

On the other hand this episode about Ron Tussing was easy to find in the Gazette archives:

During the press conference, Tussing declined to answer questions from the Montana News Association, and ended the event when an MNA reporter continued to ask him questions. Cyphers was videotaping the event for the MNA.

As Tussing stepped away from the podium, Cyphers closed in on him with the video camera. Tussing reacted by putting his hand on Cyphers' chest and pushing him.

"Get out of my face, Cyphers, or you're going down," Tussing said.

As our good friend Ed Kemmick has documented in print, Mr. Cyphers has, shall we say, a most colorful pas of his own. Maybe he deserved the shove that Tussing gave him -- in an ontological sense if not a legal one.

But keep in mind that Tussing is a policeman by trade who should understand the power of the use of force, and was seeking to be mayor when he engaged in physically pushing someone around who annoyed him.

My point is that you'll have to do better than that on Molnar in order to use it in a race against Tussing.

Molnar has "political homies" on the Supreme Court of Montana? That would be news to him and to most conservatives.

You know, you can only use deregulation to beat people over the head politically for so long before the act grows old. The question is what we do now. Molnar has been hard at work for Montana -- Tussing has been hard at work in self-promotion and we doubt that what he knows about public utilities would fit into a letter to the editor.

Anonymous said...

Wishful thinking. Wishful thinking. Every ratepayer in Montana is still paying almost twice as much for their energy bill as they did prior to dereg. If you think that cash-strapped Montanans don't care about shelling out more dough than necessary for the basics, guess again. They do care. And they also will care that the guy who designed it also sued them over it. Now that's audacity. Suing the taxpayers/ratepayers over something of your own design.

Anonymous said...

Ask Brad Molnar about his assault record. If he's honest, he will own it.

Anonymous said...

If Montana put any more gloss on Brad Molnar, he might be mistaken for a tranny.

Montana Headlines said...

Wishful thinking is imagining that you're going to get Montanans to fall for the same old "deregulation" canard. Blaming every energy woe on deregulation in an era of $100/barrel oil, increasing energy demands, and a Democratic Party that won't allow the development of any kind of energy except the most expensive kind -- wind energy -- well, that's just plain dreaming.

The comments in response to this post indicate that there is a certain sort of Democrat out there who will stop at nothing to win -- including character assasination, distortion, and exaggeration.

And to the fellow (or gal) who is so insistent about spreading the story that Molnar has been convicted of assault and battery (yes, we saw it in the comments in the Gazette online) -- put up or shut up.

If you are correct in what you say, that would mean that Molnar has been convicted of a felony. Last we checked, if you are convicted of a felony, you can't vote, let alone hold office.

One would think that this would have made the news. The burden is on you to come up with the truth if you want to be spreading it around the internet.

And if there is a grain of truth beneath what you say, you'll have to demonstrate why it is more disqualifying for Molnar than is Tussing's well-documented case of publicly shoving someone who annoyed him.

You'll probably show up around here next claiming that Molnar has an illegitimate black child in a trailer court in South Carolina, sort of like the kind of rumor the Clinton minions were reportedly spreading about John Edwards earlier this year.

This should be quite a race.

Anonymous said...

Molnar was arrested for assaulting his daughter's boyfriend. Those are facts. Much more can be told, but it's not going to be wasted on an obscure website like yours. If you really cared about knowing, you could do your own work. It's not difficult. Your comparison to Tussing is lame. No arrest, no charges filed. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Oh, and a majority of Billings voters knew about, yet didn't care and elected Tussing mayor anyway. Your obvious bias toward Brad Molnar is entertaining. Move along people! Nothing to see here!

Montana Headlines said...

First you come onto this website saying that Molnar was convicted of assault and battery and expected people to be gullible enough to believe that a sitting PSC commissioner is a convicted felon -- without this somehow being brought to the attention of the press. And without anyone questioning you about your allegation.

Now you've downgraded your allegation to "arrested." And still, no proof that there was enough to the story to arouse the interest of the press. You've obviously not had any luck finding a single press report anywhere on the web to back you up.

Why it should be my job to prove the allegations that you are making on this site is beyond me. Even if they are true, it is your job to provide the evidence and explain why we should care.

And again, even if there is any truth behind what you say, it doesn't explain why there was never a story in the media about it during Molnar's last campaign. Maybe there wasn't enough to the story that an objective journalist would feel that it was fair to print anything about it.

Nor have you explained why, even if it is true, that it is somehow more relevant than Tussing shoving someone who annoyed him at a press conference.

Most Montanans are going to be more understanding of a father who loses his temper with his daughter's boyfriend (and what were the circumstances?) than they will of a police chief running for mayor who goes ballistic at a press conference and physically shoves and verbally threatens someone who annoys him. No-brainer.

I sense that you are a little irrational in your, shall we say, passion for Tussing. What's up with that? I wouldn't ask, except that you make a point of accusing me of bias in favor of Molnar.

I have made it clear that I support Molnar because he is a conservative Republican, and because of his politics. This is clearly a website that is pretty loyal to the Republican Party. Molnar, if you've ever spent any time talking to him, has probably forgotten more about utilities and consumer protection than Tussing could learn if he studied from now until election day.

And if Tussing has an identifiable political philosophy other than self-promotion, it has escaped notice.

This isn't "bias" toward Molnar -- it is a considered political opinion. Please take the time to learn the difference.

Now that you are coming up short on the debate front, you want to change the subject by saying that Montana Headlines is an "obscure blog." That's just fine.

But at the start of this little discussion you seemed to understand that this is a pretty widely read blog -- as Montana blogs go -- read by members of the press, politicians, and political junkies throughout Montana and in D.C.

Otherwise you wouldn't have taken the time to grace us with your presence and your spin.

Please drop by again anytime.

Anonymous said...

It's your job to verify information if you don't believe it and care enough. Why should I care if you don't believe it? It doesn't change reality. Email or call Brad and ask him. How difficult is that? Last time I checked, this is a blog, not a courtroom. Take a hike to the library or courthouse. Seek and ye shall find. I already know about Molnar's assault and am comfortable without having to prove anything to you, particularly since you appear to be a kool-aid drinking conservative who supports the likes of Molnar simply because of the (R) by his name. There couldn't be a more under-educated, ill-tempered, ill-equipped and ill suited PSC member than Brad Molnar. He makes it up as he goes along, just as he did back in the day of his raging against contractor registration. Your esteem for a college drop out like Molnar is curious. I'm fascinated by your, shall I call it, passion, for a guy who has already, and continues to do so much damage to Montana. What's the attraction, dude?

Anonymous said...

one more thing: assault isn't "spin" as you say. Though it appears you would like to avoid and even spin the truth another direction. It's your blog. Spin away!

Anonymous said...

One more thing. Convicted felons, if prosecuted under state law, can resume voting when their time has been served. If they are a federal convict, then they can never vote again. Molnar's assault was a crime under state law, not federal. Like I said, do your homework. I suppose you want me to trot out the Montana Code now to elucidate you on what Montana law says? No. Do your own homework.

Montana Headlines said...

You didn't stay away very long -- surprising, given what an obscure blog this is.

Let's get this straight -- we have to believe everything we read on the internet.

And if we choose to reserve judgment and be skeptical about something for which there is no further proof other than someone's word -- we ourselves have to come up with information that can prove a negative.

It is probably just easier to believe everything one reads on the internet -- which is, according to you, all true until actively proven false.

With logic like you are offering, it is a wonder that you have the nerve to call Molnar under-educated.

No, it is you who need to offer some proof to confirm what you are saying about Molnar being a convicted felon. Which jury convicted him? What court was it held in? Who was the judge who presided over the trial? What was the sentence?

If you want to use a felony conviction of Molnar as reason for his unfitness for being PSC Commissioner, you need not only to demonstrate that it is true, you also need to explain why it is relevant, and why this vitally important information failed to be reported on in the press during his last PSC election.

I suspect that all of this is just something to distract from Tussing's many negatives.

What a race this is going to be.

Anonymous said...

Montana "We got your back, Brad Molnar" Headlines reserving judgment? Funny. You've clearly made your preference known from the very first post. Just keep that head in the sand. It's the best way to support someone like Brad Molnar. In fact, it's the best way to be a Republican in Montana these days, isn't it? with the dwindling number of incumbents your party now has in state and federal offices. Carry on! And I do mean CARRY ON! PEACE! OUT!

Montana Headlines said...

My, my, but it is painful to have to deal with your logically challenged comments -- but someone has to do it.

The statement was that judgment was being reserved on whether Molnar had been convicted of assault and battery -- as you have repeatedly and persistently alleged on this site.

Until you provide proof for this, I will continue to reserve judgment.

And if you do provide proof for it, you will still need to explain why it makes Mayor Tussing more qualified to be a PSC Commissioner than Molnar is.

If it is a sign of his instability and ill-tempered nature, fine -- but we already have plenty of proof that Tussing is at least as ill-tempered and unstable. After all, Tussing lost his temper and shoved someone at a press conference in full view of everyone, not as part of a private dispute.

If it is a sign of Molnar not having respect for the law, fine -- but we have proof that Tussing was willing to make a cold, calculating decision to bilk the citizens of Billings of a 6-figure buyout by essentially lying to the City when he promised not to seek employment from the City.

If it supposed to have something to do with Molnar's decision-making ability, fine -- but Tussing's bad decisions and inability to manage the police department without getting the city into hot water was proven -- $1.3 million times over.

You aren't going to convince me to support Tussing over Molnar on the basis of your allegation -- even if you provide proof that it is true (which you haven't.)

Good luck with your campaign -- I hope you've learned something by dropping by.