Top Ten Notable Events at the Butte Economic Forum

Thanks to several tipsters who attended for supplying me with the dope.  Your tips make this blog possible.

1. Lotsa billionaires coming and going.  Including Warren Buffett, Barry Diller, Bob Iger, Steve Balmer.  Each sung Baucus’s praises before they spoke to the assembly.  Whether the presence of these magnates appeals to Montana voters, and what these big shots expect in return, are serious questions.  But, they probably filled up hotel rooms in Butte, and hopefully it got Montana some attention in corporate America.

2. Some fireworks.  Schweitzer mixed it up with the CEO of Travelocity for unpaid corporate taxes, at the same time Travelocity was announcing with Baucus that it has decided to spend money promoting Montana on its website.  As for Expedia, which also owes Montana money, it sounds like a much anticipated showdown predicted between Schweitzer and Expedia chief Barry Diller, who was also in attendance at the conference, did not materialize. Perhaps Diller ducked out the back door.

3.  Democrats being lauded by Warren Buffett.  Trillionaire Warren Buffett said Montana (and therefore Democrats, i.e. a Democratic Administration and Democrats in the legislature who fought for the Administration’s priorities, as well as four Democrats in the other state-wide offices) is “doing everything right” when it comes to managing the economy.  I wonder if Chamber of Commerce members were applauding.

4.  Me, selling my GE shares.  Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, arrived with not one but two corporate jets, one of which, according to a well-placed source, was a spare.  If it is true, I am selling my stock in GE (or rather, I would sell it if I owned any).  So should you.  So far, I have received no response from the GE public affairs department confirming or denying this outrage.*

5.  Disney Chief Bob Iger, revealing that he began his career as a weatherman.  Maybe that means a blogger has a chance, too.

6.  Tester, surprisingly absent from the proceedings.  Only a video appearance. No sightings of Jon at this event. Why?

7.  A notable lack of discussion of health-care.

8.  Tim Ravndal, roaming the crowd (no joke).  The Tea Party has an “axe Max” chapter, and evidently they sent Ravndal, the tough and seasoned political operative, to case the event in pursuit of this cause.  Or, perhaps he was dumpster diving for evidence of conspiracies. Plus there were free doughnuts and soda. Maybe he brought a sack and a thermos and loaded up.

9.  Recently ejected Schweitzer administration directors Tony Preite and Betsy Baumgart, greeting and gripping the crowd, seeming very much in their element and appearing to be already employed in some other capacity.

10.  Walt Schweitzer wearing a suit.

*UPDATE: Here is a tardy response, and seemingly “a non-denial denial”, from the GE spokesperson regarding Mr. Immelt’s travel arrangements, which have not gone unremarked upon by the media in the past:

Hello. Mr. Immelt manages 150,000 American workers, 300,000 workers worldwide, and the world’s most widely-held security. The GE board of directors thus requires that Mr. Immelt use corporate aircraft for safety and security purposes.
As for your other “fact[s]”…they aren’t.


Peter O’Toole
Director, Executive Communications

He doesn’t deny that there were two jets in Butte, but rather implies that Mr. Immelt used the extra jet in Butte for security, not convenience, and thus my “facts were wrong.”

Somehow, I suspect that most other CEOs of publicly traded Fortune 500 companies make do with one jet, and are perfectly safe.


27 Comments on "Top Ten Notable Events at the Butte Economic Forum"

  1. Did Ravndal have a suit on too?

    And what the F— is with the CEO of GE flying in with two planes? Is this guy living in an echo chamber?

  2. Are you sure? GE? The same GE who only made profits from its international interests (over $10B in profit!), while its US operations, I guess, lost some money (-$400M)… anyway, I hear they paid no taxes last year! ZERO. And that’s common for ’em.

  3. Maybe GE flew the teabagger to a nicer planet with fellow teabaggers

  4. montanans say 'woah' | September 15, 2010 10:42 PM at 10:42 PM |

    How is it that Baucus’ “giddyup” speech didn’t make the top 10? It’s sure interesting that your “tipsters” gave you so many inaccurate or at least partially inaccurate tips. I, for one, did attend the summit.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers! | September 15, 2010 10:49 PM at 10:49 PM |

      Mini Barfus is just being there. He sold his soul so long ago that with the current rate of exchange, he couldn’t buy coffee at Starbucks! Sad, so sad. He could have done so much good for Montana, but he chose not to.

  5. Thanks Montanans. I thought that was already out there, so I didn’t include it here. If others have suggestions or pics for top ten items I missed, please do email me or post them in the comments.

  6. Of course he’s not going to talk about health care. The whole mess polls at 35% in terms of approval for the so-called reform.

  7. Looks like the Summit was mostly cheer-leading for big corporations. Baucus and Schweitzer just bolstering their corporate creds.

  8. How is taking corporations to task for not paying taxes “bolstering corporate cred”?

  9. OK, except for that one little gesture.

    • This was Baucus’s summitt, he did invite Juneau and Bullock to speak and Schweitzer to interview a speaker (he didn’t speak) so I think you might have some bad intel.

  10. Governor Judy Martz used two airplanes when she flyed into Wolf Point Montana for the capitol for the day at Circle Montana back when she was Governor. Not only that she used a highway patrol car to transport her to and from the airport at Wolf Point to Circle approximently 50miles each way. So in conclusion talk all you want about fiscal conservatism but I dont see it practiced by Republicans and higher ups on Wall Street. Yet I see it down here in the hills and on main street small town Montana

  11. Recently ejected Schweitzer administration directors Tony Preite and Betsy Baumgart, greeting and gripping the crowd, seeming very much in their element and appearing to be already employed in some other capacity.

    Did you notice a white towel draped over their arms? That would likely be the other capacity.

    I heard a rumor down here that the net worth of Montana quadrupled, and then fell by three fourths in the course of one weekend.

  12. Once again, Governor Schweitzer has proven himself to be a rude, arrogant, blowhard who bullies the press to make points for himself whether he is right or wrong or whether he has all the facts. I read with interest his latest performance at the economic summit in Butte where he ambushed one of the speakers to make a point about taxes, sending the message that if someone is looking to do business in Montana, or promote Montana, we’re going to find a way to tax the hell out of you. All in the name of finding more money so that the Governor can continue to tout Montana as “in the black” with it’s budget. Of course, fueled by federal dollars. Funny, in all his speeches you never hear the good Gov say half his bank account comes from the feds

    The stories I read from the summit were positive based on what people like Warren Buffett said. From what I heard, the Governor showed up and handed out propaganda to the crowd about how great he is, and then went and ambushed the Travelocity guy, Sam Gilliland, who was there to announce a promotion campaign for Montana. Nice.

    I choose to post these comments on this blog because I know it will get to the Governor the fastest. And probably really early in the morning when he reads the blogs. It is no secret that this fake blog is a Schweitzer-backed attack machine that is used by his lackeys to attack his enemies. Being anonymous and shilling for Schweitzer are clearly the reasons that “Montana Cowgirl” was kicked off of Left in the West. It’s time to come clean “Montana Cowgirl” – because everyone knows who you are.

    As for the ambush at the summit, it was the latest in a long line of cowardly acts by this bully that was clearly picked on too much by his brothers when he was a kid. He does this all the time. Announces meetings – because we have to have “open meetings!” Invites press. And then puts on a scene. As for the Travelocity ambush, he announced the meeting and couldn’t even find the decency to get the guy’s name right. Again, stay classy.

    Oh, and while you’re at it taking shots at Tester, he actually was there – Sunday night. I saw him. The day when
    team Schweitzer wasn’t. So you – Montana Cowgirl – wouldn’t have known.

    Come clean.

    • OK, I’m Harry Morgan, Cowgirl is Garry Moore, and this is I’ve Got a Secret:

      Are you a prominent Montana politician?

      Have you had a run-in with Bryan Schweitzer?

      Was this run-in widely covered in the media?

      Did you come off looking very bad?

      OK, I’m only allowed for questions, and now have to guess your identity.

      Are you … Mike Lange?

    • Hilarious. Sorry, your conspiracy theories aren’t true. This blog is not written, backed, or paid for by George Soros, the Governor, Barack Obama, the UN, or the Federal Reserve bank. I wasn’t kicked off of left in the west, as you can verify by simply asking Matt or Jay, which I notice you didn’t do.

    • Yah! That BULLY gov. of montana AIN’T NO GOV OF MINE. He don’t do nothing right and have no bisness taxing corperatons. GOOD post b.s.. I see you at next tea party patriat meeting.

    • One more thing,…etc. If you know who I am, and I know that you don’t from your crazy rants here…call me up on the phone and prove it…..Didn’t think so. Yawn.

  13. Hey Mike Lange, welcome to this blog-george soros will be pleased to know you were here.

  14. BSisMTCowgirl:

    Why would you criticize Schweitzer for confronting someone who controls 8 billion dollars of assets, makes probably $10 million a year, and whose corporation owes Montana unpaid taxes? Are you by any chance Henry Kriegel, the Teapartier who hasn’t paid income taxes in a long time?

  15. Also bs-er anyone with a computer can see that you don’t know what you’re talking about. The forum didn’t even start until Monday, as can be easily seen here:

    • Clarkforker, I wasn’t criticizing Tester for making a video appearance, I was criticizing the conference organizers for not giving him a more prominent role. Montana has two Senators.

  16. (personal attacks/insults removed.)

    As for the ambush, the Montana Standard put it best today in their thumbs up/thumbs down section:

    Thumbs Down: We hate to “dis” Gov. Brian Schweitzer because he brought up a legitimate concern at the summit while addressing the CEO from Travelocity. It was over the payment of bad tax money that online businesses don’t pay to states, because they are not located in the state. Online business skirting state taxes is a huge issue and not one that would be settled in a day. As the firm’s CEO, Sam Gilliland, said, however, it would be better to have meetings with Schweitzer’s staff, off line, to discuss the issue. We agree. To blindside someone at the conference really put off many of those attending the summit. While we should never look at the world through rose-colored glasses, the theme of the summit was to work together and not be divisive.

    • Progressives tend to believe that it is better to go after out-of-state corporations who aren’t paying their fair share of taxes before asking Montanans who are struggling to make ends meet to pay more. As far as values go, this is more important to me than that some summit not appear divisive.

  17. And it shouldn’t have been an ambush – the Gov declared weeks ago that he was planning on going after these businesses. The Travelocity guy ought to have resolved that before going on a PR trip to Montana.

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