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Uncommon Ground

Uncommon Ground

The Kindness of Giving

Over 1 million political television advertisements and the estimated $6 billion spent on nationwide elections produced no landmark changes. Advertisers undoubtedly benefited from the stimulus of secret money spending, but people were stung by a relentless barrage of undisclosed politics. In the end, all the money in the world was no match for an effective […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Recreation is Great for Youth, Education, and Economy

Open public lands and the great outdoors are enormous economic drivers for the Flathead Valley. The Daily Inter Lake in an editorial titled “Kidsports is a key city asset” wrote that securing the recreational easement in Kalispell “is an idea that deserves serious attention.” The newspaper wrote in part that, “It could be an entirely […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Trust in Service

The GOP and politicians like rep. Derek Skees and U.S. Rep. Dennis Rehberg share a common campaign theme of repealing “ObamaCare” at any cost. Pragmatically, that’s just silly. Real people deserve better health care. At a Kalispell debate, Rehberg advocated for more insurance pools and interstate mobility of insurance policies. Sen. Jon Tester patiently explained […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Voting and Leadership Matters

A conservative U.S. Supreme Court transformed Montana elections into spending sprees. Suddenly secret, corporate and unlimited dollars flooded Montana with negative political advertising. Sharla Tester wrote, in an email about her husband Sen. Jon Tester: “But in this election, he’s not only running against an opponent – he’s fighting against outside special interest spenders who […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Parks, Roads and Tax Relief

The Flathead deserves more active leaders in the next Montana Legislature who are willing to help build the local business and recreational climate of the valley. In 2009 former Rep. Dee Brown, R-Columbia Falls, proposed a pair of bills in the Legislature with potential consequences for Whitefish residents. Regarding House Bill 329, a state fiscal […]

By MIke Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Coming Together

Political figures must set aside differences, come together, and focus on issues that matter to our kids’ future. Montanans deserve leadership that gets along. Gov. Brian Schweitzer worked well with Republicans during his eight years serving Montana. During a prime-time slot and at the last night of the Democratic National Convention, Schweitzer said, “We’ve had […]

By MIke Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Central to Public Education

Well over $1 billion is annually generated in statewide property taxes, the vast bulk from homeowners and small business owners. Property that is physically connected by crossing a county or state boundary and property that is functionally operated as a single entity, but may not have a physical connection, is centrally assessed. One hundred-and-thirty corporations […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Legislative Duty

The Montana Supreme Court ruled that Legislative Referendum 123 was unconstitutional and could not be placed on the ballot. The Montana Legislature improperly delegated its constitutional authority to allocate taxpayer money for public services like education, fire protection or foster care, and enact tax cuts. The Tea Partiers of the last Legislature put the question […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Shifty Tax Plan

In the past, Montana Power Company lobbied a GOP-controlled state Legislature with the seemingly simple notion of deregulating the industry. The GOP signed deregulation into law, ridding Montana of the lowest electricity rates in the country while drastically cutting property taxes for major power and telecommunications industries. Big industry’s property taxes were cut in places […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Taxed Homeowners

For the 2011 Montana Legislature, Gov. Brian Schweitzer built $36 million in homeowner property tax cuts into his executive budget. It was promptly removed by a solidly GOP-controlled Legislature. Rep. Wayne Stahl, R-Saco, proposed $70 million in homeowner property tax refunds. His bill was tabled. Rep. Pat Ingraham, R-Thompson Falls, proposed taxing homes on the […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Replace How?

Tea Partiers are stunned that the Affordable Care Act passed the U.S. Supreme Court’s test of constitutionality. “Well it looks like what was sold on a lie was found constitutional on that lie,” State Auditor candidate Derek Skees wrote in a website release after the court’s judgment. During the 2011 Montana Legislature, Skees unsuccessfully sought […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Take the Money

When former President George W. Bush used tax rebates to stimulate the national economy, taxpayers received checks to spend at places like the downtown hardware store. One Bush rebate was $168 billion and termed economic stimulus to jumpstart a lagging 2008 economy. Nearly 130 million households took advantage of tax rebates that ranged from $300 […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Get to Work Congress

Unless Congress acts the existing Farm Bill sunsets this fall. If Congress refuses to pass a new Farm Bill, elected leaders essentially eliminate food stamps – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – for millions of Americans right before the general election in November. That is just silly. The Republican-controlled U.S. House may want to eliminate SNAP. […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

Vote Tuesday for Reason

Voter fatigue will soon take a strangle hold upon the electorate. With busloads of corporate and secret campaign cash being poured into Montana, citizens will simply tune out. Most statewide and national races will poll 46 percent to 46 percent from now until October. And then the 8 percent of undecided voters will choose the […]

By Mike Jopek
Uncommon Ground

One Person, One Vote

Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer joined Republican Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger and 93-year-old former Republican Secretary of State Verner Bertelsen in signing a citizens’ initiative to place on the November ballot a policy that states, “corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings.” The ballot initiative seeks Montana policy that charges […]

By Mike Jopek

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