It looks like Billings Mayor Tom Hanel got into the gene pool when the lifeguard wasn’t looking.
How else to explain that Hanel cast the deciding vote to keep discrimination legal in Billings, Montana’s largest community. By doing so, Hanel put the crackpot ideology of certifiable nutjob Jeff Laszloffy over the views of most people in Billings–people Hanel is supposed to represent. Laszloffy is head of the “Montana Family Foundation.” He’s the guy who led the fight to allow discrimination against LGBT Montanans.
To be sure, readers may note that I have found it necessary to call people nutjobs fairly often, since I live in a state where elected lawmakers introduce bills to declare that global warming is good and plan to demand that the federal government prove in court that the National Parks were lawfully acquired. But even amongst these world-class minds, Jeff Laszloffy still appears to have been napping in the nutpile the day the man upstairs was cracking nuts.
So let’s take a look at the man whose views Mayor Hanel valued most when it came time to make city policy. This was certainly a very poor calculation on Hanel’s part.
Hanel listened to a proven liar
Earlier this summer, Laszloffy was the subject of a documentary exposé on influence peddling in the Montana legislature. He was caught lying on camera when he claimed that there was “no connection, absolutely none” between the public school privatization bill he backed last session and the corporate front group known as the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC, which was pushing this same bill nationwide.
The PBS documentary uncovered multiple connections between Laszloffy and ALEC, including how Laszloffy’s bill to force taxpayers to subsidize sectarian religious schools is almost a word for word copy of ALEC’s bill. Laszloffy claims in the documentary that charter schools aren’t for-profit corporations, and was caught in another lie. The exposé pointed out financial and investment news reports outlining the high profitability of these private charter schools. ALEC even funded the PR campaign Laszloffy used to push these private charter schools in Montana. And even though Laszloffy said he had nothing to do with ALEC, PBS also uncovered jointly funded surveys by ALEC and the Family Foundation–and jointly funded articles trumpeting the Family Foundation’s private school push, all of which appear in Laszloffy’s groups’ own legislative testimony. You can watch the entire expose online here.
Hanel listened to a birther
Laszloffy went live from Birtherstan in 2011, when he actually supported the infamous birther bill, Bob Wagner’s House Bill 205 which would have required all candidates to produce birth certificates–especially a certain black candidate. Laszloffy testified:
We’ve gone over 200 years without this being a problem and it just became a problem in the last election cycle. And I think the circumstances surrounding this are frankly bizarre. There is question as to whether the president was born in the United States, we all know that…The president could fix this by simply releasing his birth certificate and that would get us past this little road bump.
Hanel listened to a certified crackpot
Yep, the mayor of Billings chose to listen to a man who sent his daughter to a school which claims it can teach how to bring people back from the dead.
Hanel listened to a man who celebrates discrimination
Laszloffy also organized a small group in celebrating their hatred of gay people by throwing a Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. The day was marked by bringing gay-haters together to teach their kids that discrimination against others is something to celebrate–preferably with stale fast food from 1000 miles away. Just the kind of person you want to be playing a key role in making city policy right?
Hanel listened to a man who led the fight to allow religious boarding schools to operate without regulation despite terrible allegations of child abuse.
Laszloffy lead the fight to allow religious boarding schools in Montana like Pinehaven Ranch to remain unregulated. These religious schools, which have no licenses, no accreditation and employ teachers who are not certified, are now dealing with allegations that staff used violence to discipline students. And yet the Montana GOP has voted, under Laszloffy’s direction, to allow such schools to continue to go unregulated. CNN ran a big story about it on the Anderson Cooper 360 show. Rep. Ellie Hill’s HB 236 would have addressed the problem. Laszloffy lobbied hard against Hill’s bill, convincing the GOP majority to let these kids suffer free from protection.
So yeah, this is pretty bad policy making, and its pretty ridiculous that Billings Mayor Tom Hanel went so wrong by listening to this guy instead of his own constituents. He should be replaced at the earliest opportunity since he has demonstrated such poor judgement.