I pen these words from Cut Bank, seat of Glacier County, Montana, pondering the 2020 POTUS race as I write. Glacier County has become a very blue island in a very red sea in the past few decades. Located in North Central Montana with the Canadian border on the North, the Rocky Mountain Front and Glacier National Park to the West. The city of Great Falls, my home town, straddles the Missouri and Sun Rivers to the South East. The Sweet Grass Hills dominate the Eastern sky opening up to the vast Great Plains beyond. This is the the Northern route of Lewis and Clark on their Voyage of Discovery. It is the great and majestic land of the Pikuni, the Blackfeet Nation, who once fiercely guarded these formidable mountain passes.
Having served in Alaska for 14 years, I've returned to serve the people here in my capacity as a Behavioral Health Clinician. I am familiar with the area, as many of my ancestors were born, lived and died here over many generations. One of my Metis grandmothers is buried among her people in a tranquil birch grove at the base of a great mountain just outside of East Glacier. My family has witnessed and participated in many changes here over time. They have struggled, overcome and contributed to the history and progress made. Now, I am here to see an accelerating spiral of decline. Am I to sit back silently, and watch it all unravel? I think not.
We have it all. The number one suicide rate in the nation. A plague of opiod, meth and alcohol addictions. Deep racial tensions. Rampant Domestic Violence, Rape, Sex Abuse and Human Trafficking. Sadly, many have grown strangely accustomed to the frequent disappearances and murders of our loved ones. They seem accustomed to the endemic poverty, despair and high unemployment. They accept the growing vandalism, and empty store fronts. They resign themselves to the elimination of Advanced Life Support response, and the elimination or reduction of other services. Our quality of life descends further by the day. Yet taxes keep rising. A creeping despair has set in among many inhabitants, a dark malaise of the soul. The people feel powerless, abandoned, hopeless and angry. Yes, they are very, very angry.
Blackfeet Agricultural Resource Management Plan
Blackfeet Reservation Community Food Security & Food Sovereignty Assessment
Blackfeet Reservation Montana Poverty Report Card
We are left dumbfounded with our reality. Who's in charge here? Where's the accountability? What is being done? Our Governor seems content to campaign across the country, subsidized by the people of Montana. While on his watch, Glacier County melts down and crumbles around us. Failed policies lead to failed communities and failed lives. They lead to death and bondage. We need something new, not more of the same. The Governors' callous neglect of Montana, while he vainly continues to grasp for the golden POTUS ring, seems like a load of pure Bullock to me.
Less than two years ago, the City of Browning, Capitol of the Blackfeet Nation, had to disincorporate after collapsing in the midst of troubled finances.
FLATHEAD BEACON: CITY OF BROWNING DISSOLVES
Now local governments are facing major lawsuits involving wrongful discharge, discrimination, retalion for being a whistle blower, malfeasance, police brutality and misconduct. These have the potential to stoke long simmering racial tensions. Further, these kinds of lawsuits can bankrupt local governments. I hope all the insurance policies are paid. Here are a just some of the lawsuits. Stay tuned.
Cut Bank Pioneer Press: Judge denies County’s motion to dismiss School’s lawsuit
Cut Bank Pioneer Press: Loan or Grant?
Cut Bank Pioneer Press: Sun Roads Farmory’s $368,000 is called ‘loan’ in public documents
Justia: Omsberg v. DeWitt et al
Glacier Reporter: Former EMS Director Amie Allison files lawsuit against Glacier County
Glacier County itself is in a freefall, a rapid meltdown. Isn't this a direct consequence of the cumulative incompetence and malfeasance of certain elected officials? The rot appears pervasive. Tragically, Glacier County appears to have become a failed government. It is an area of increasing lawlessness. The decay is visually, physically and spiritually self-evident. The State of Montana is now withholding fund transfers due to the counties inability to provide mandated financial reports to the State of Montana. Where are you Governor Bullock?
The local papers have been chronicling the multitude of mounting and egregious abuses and corruption plagueing our land. Still, little seems to be happening to alleviate the situation. Is it possible that the administration of Governor Bullock is too distracted by his Presidential campaign and not willing to address these issues head on due to a feared Democratic backlash? Wow, how cynical and selfish!
Cut Bank Pioneer Press: Treasurer’s Office holding up schools’ budgeting process
Glacier Reporter:Latest Glacier County Audit Report: ‘Substantial doubt about the County’s ability to continue’
Cut Bank Pioneer Press: County not responding to OPI’s requests for delinquent reports
Cut Bank Pioneer Press: School District No. 15 receives nearly $300,000 from county after email from state OPI official
Cut Bank Pioneer Press: Treasurer’s Office holding up schools’ budgeting process
Cut Bank Pioneer Press: State will now contract with firm to review and reconcile County’s cash balances . . . and County must pay for it
Cut Bank Pioneer Press: County officials must provide more specific audit responses by July 31
Glacier Reporter: State tells County Commissioners: ‘You have a cash problem.’
Is it incompetence, corruption, racism, isolation, willful ignorance? All of the above? A toxic brew at best. Whatever the reasons for our unfolding calamity, it is ultimately up to the citizens to take action and correct the problem. This will be accomplished through the ballot box, soon enough, as long as we also insist on secure oversight of the election process.
It is my hope that we all realize the full extent of the calamity and suffering as a result of this failed government. I contend it is a picture of our Nation's dismal near future, especially if the voters choose failed leadership again. If he really wants to do something, Governor Bullock would immediately end his Presidential campaign, return to Montana and address the catastrophe here and now! Or, is he content with Glacier County being labeled as a county, "Where the American Dream is dead"?
From USA Today 4/19/2019: Counties where the American dream may already be dead
8. Glacier County, Montana
• Avg. income loss per year of childhood residence: -$263
• Population: 13,677
• Household income per capita: $23,252
• Poverty rate: 33.1%
• Feb. 2019 unemployment rate: 9.8%
We need bold focused and visionary leaders who will take decisive action on the tough issues here in Montana! We need a Governor who is focused on the job he was elected to do. Lives are at stake.
Unfortunately, it looks like Glacier County will cross the event horizon of no return as a failed government before Bullock's Presidential poll numbers approach 1%. What a real shame! Glacier County is quickly melting away, as Bullock piddles away precious time on vain personal ambitions. The cause of this meltdown isn't global warming, it's political hot air, malfeasance and corruption.
Governor Bullock, it's time to refocus on being the Governor of Montana. As you speak in far distant places, we have a real human tragedy unfolding right now. There is real pain and suffering in your own backyard in Montana Indian Country and beyond. What will you do Governor? What Will You Do?
2020 Democratic Nomination Polls
And by the way Governor, when you return to Montana, we need to talk about election law reform. Why are the taxpayers still subsidizing private corporate meetings known as primaries? Why are there significant barriers in Montana laws to prevent real political competition?
How loudly you just complained about being blocked out of the first Democrat debate this season, yet you were happy to debate without the Libertarian candidate during the Montana Gubernatorial Debates in 2016. just you and the Republican then. So why now, when there are 20 Democratic contenders debating prior to the primaries, it's not too many to include you, but when there are 3 candidates from different parties debating prior to the general election it is too cumbersome?
Hypocrisy abounds. We don't need more BS! Failed policies, necessitate new ideas and ways to get things done. We need to open up competition in the public marketplace of ideas. I call upon you, Governor Bullock, to return to Montana immediately! Deal with the many pressing issues at hand in Glacier County and Indian Country, including meaningful election reform and debate inclusion of all candidates on the ballot.