Give Me Your Crackpots, Your Liars, Your Befuddled Faction Yearning to Drink TEA

by Cowgirl

It looks like Billings Mayor Tom Hanel got into the gene pool when the lifeguard wasn’t looking.

Lee Newspapers photo

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.


28 Comments on "Give Me Your Crackpots, Your Liars, Your Befuddled Faction Yearning to Drink TEA"

  1. Jeebus! Tom must’a found JAYsus! When I knew him in the old days, he was a helluva nice guy and a good cop! Tommy, what the hell HAPPENED to you, dude?!

    I hate to see anyone “find” Jesus. Makes you a total futty nucker!

    But I gotta reiterate, thirty some odd years ago, Tom Hanel was a great guy. I’ve been gone from Billings for a long time now, but I find it real hard to believe what I’m hearing about Tom. The dude was salt of the earth!

  2. I think that often what you find when you encounter a politician at this level is that they are deeply deeply naive and clueless about politics and how all of this works and they end up being not savvy enough to distinguish between a small, angry and vocal group and electorate at large. They are afraid of the angry calls and they don’t know how to evaluate them in their proper context. It really speaks to lack of sophistication and perhaps for hope if he can wake up a bit, get to the 21st century, and not be so clueless about politics.

  3. My first thought is that I am glad my family does not live there anymore. Will the campaign continue as if that poor decision had not been made, or will there be a change of organizing strategies?

  4. Be honest Cowgirl. The MAJORITY of Billings residents are opposed to this NDO. Mayor Hanel saw the handwriting on the wall. They got over 80% responses from the public against it. The people don’t want to have their Religious and First Amendment Rights taken away from them.

    If one person’s “rights”, violates another person”s “rights”, then it is NOT a likely a legitimate right to begin with.

    If the Council had passed this NDO, then the people would have gotten signatures to put it on the ballot and the majority would vote against it.

    So please don’t call other people liars when you are not able to say the same thing about yourself.
    And the fact that the Mayor got so much hate mail and threats for voting this way just proves who the real “haters” are, especially when they don’t get their way because the public still doesn’t agree with their activities/lifestyle, which they would like to force on everyone else against the people’s free will.

    • Look, nowhere in the Constitution is it stated that your religious freedom includes the right to punish those whom your religious doctrine disapproves of. You shouldn’t have the right to evict a tenant whom you discover is gay. You shouldn’t have the right to deny a gay person access to your business because of his or her sexual orientation. You shouldn’t be allowed to fire someone when you discover he or she is gay.

      But under current Montana law you can do ALL of these things — unless you happen to live in Bozeman, Butte, Missoula, or Helena. The state legislature is dominated by Republican religious fundamentalists. They were forced by a legal opinion to repeal a so-called “sodomy” law — a law that made homosexuality a felony. But they refused to protect homosexuals from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. So cities with relatively enlightened populations acted to offer these protections.

      Remember, it was only in 2012 that the Montana Republican Party, the party in power in the legislature, finally removed a plank from their platform stating that homosexuality should remain a crime.

      What you call a First Amendment religious freedom looks an awful lot like bullying to me. Your freedom to worship has never been threatened. Your freedom to bully will eventually be threatened, and that’s a good thing.

    • You are so full of shit. Your 80% figure? Where did that come from the bogus Family Foundation unproven statistics? Tom Hanel is an asshole. Ask some of the people that worked political campaigns in Billings when he went out and through intimidation changed political signs on lawns because he was an “ex-cop” and he “knew the law”. The Family Foundation is largely made up of bible thumping knuckle dragging neanderthals and if you really looked, most were old white people that hijacked the political process.
      I do not care if you are pink, black, white, LGBT, etc., you have the same rights as anyone else.
      Keep your goddamn religion to yourselves just like it was intended to do. It does not belong in the city council, the county government or the state legislature.
      From what I have seen, the next council meeting it will be a prayer rug and genuflects to the dirty six.

    • From a guest editorial on “Last Best News”, written by Brent Cromley:
      “Though it may be uncomfortable to think about now, arguments for passing and keeping laws forbidding interracial marriage were largely based upon Biblical references advocating the separation of races. Christians almost universally have modified their interpretation of these biblical references, and embrace the concept of all races being placed on an equal plane. There are other references in the Bible to activities that, while considered sinful or abominations at the time, are now considered by most Christians to merely reflect the attitudes of the time. I am thinking of such matters as the consumption of pork, the wearing of pants by women, and the fact that slavery was condoned.

      I sense that more and more Christians today are coming to believe that biblical criticism of homosexuality was based upon the state of knowledge at the time, and perhaps on particular examples of sexual exploitation that, to all of us, would still seem reprehensible.”

      This country is evolving, with or without those of you in the minority cowering behind Jeff Laszloffy’s made-up stats. 80 percent…..LOLOLOLOL!!

  5. Personally I’m against discrimination- no matter what the pretense used to justify it. And I find those who discriminate to be disgusting-especially when they try to use the mantle of religion to disguise bigotry.

  6. Elect Pee Wee Daines and say good bye to your public lands!

    Jeebus, if the Dims can’t win by hammering the SNOT outta Pee Wee with this issue alone, than they don’t know how to make a decent commercial! I’m afraid that they’re too timid to make the hard hitting commercials that need to be made. I sus PECT that all commercials must pass the mealey paddy quitter Wms. civility test! For you know, we just CAN’T make the nazzis mad, even IF they want to steal OUR public lands! It’s for the best to have paddy pre-screen all the commercials, and take out anything that might offend the Kockh brothers!

  7. You need only listen to testimony before the House Judiciary Committee of the Montana legislature to better understand that nondiscrimination ordinances are critically needed in our communities (ever heard of Pastor Harris Himes?)

    Housing and employment discrimination against our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender friends is pervasive and harmful and it is very real. Hell, the Billings City Council meetings further established that.

    Mayor Hanel aligned himself with the most intolerant wing of the fringe right with Laszloffy and the Family Foundation and I wager he will not be reelected for it. Hanel and Laszloffy are on the wrong side of history and I have no doubt that the good people of Billings will not tolerate hate… it ain’t a Montana value.

    • Very well said, Representative Hill! I lift a good Montana brew in your honor.

    • It’s freakin’ BILLINGS, Ellie. Ever spent much time there? And hell, we used to laugh like hell about Laurel. We’d go to Laurel and it was like stepping back into the friggin’ FIFTIES! I kid not. Guys STILL wearin’ white t-shirts with Camels rolled up in the sleeves! Always been that way as long as I can remember. That’s just the way it is. MiZOOla and Billings are a clash of cultures! Where east meets west! Where OLD Montana meets HIPPIE Montana! Where cow town meets HOMO town! True story. Check it out some time. Billings is NOT Mizoola! And I doubt it ever will be! And thank God for that! It’s called diversity!

      But PLEASE, to all you fern bar liberals, stop calling Tom Hanel an asshole! He AIN’T Pastord Hairass Slimes, I assure you. He’s a good guy, a nice guy, and a decent man! We can’t all be Mizoola overnight! You don’t win converts by attacking good, decent people who are slow to warm to the homo rights agenda!

      Hell, I spent TWENTY FRIGGIN’ YEARS in Billings, and during that entire time, I never heard homo rights as being a big priority to ANY one! Sorry, it ain’t the end of the world that this thing didn’t pass. Just regroup, educate, and calmly advocate your position. First they came for the homos! Well, we ain’t quite there yet!

      That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it! Stop attacking Tom Hanel. If you don’t know him, you should. Billing is a hard scrabble, anti-union, minimum wage job town! That LAST thing people who are barely gettin’ by are concerned about are homo rights! They don’t have time for that, for it’s simply a diversion to them! And that’s the reality of the situation!

      ‘Sides, just how big is the homo population in Billings, and are they really persecuted? I thought they would have all migrated to MiZOOla by now!

      • p.s. And yes, for the record, I knew some dudes of the homo persuasion in Billings. Hell, EVERYONE knew them. They spent time down in the Crystal Lounge, the local gay bar, and a gay bath house downtown. And as near as I could tell, they were never discriminated against. People just left them alone. And I assure you, they were NOT interested in getting into a gay marriage! Maybe some were, but those dudes I never met! They liked the promiscuous lifestyle they led. OK, homo dudes, EDucate me as to where I’m wrong! I can take it.

  8. Sorry Larry, but Hanel IS AN ASSHOLE! I’ve lived here for over 40 years and your claim to know everything about this burg in your short 20 years of living here is just that a claim with no backup. I would suggest that you have a visit with your doctor and have your medications adjusted….

  9. The crackpot, nutjob, etc. etc. ad hominems get old. If there’s a real point to be made, it ought to be possible without relying on them, particularly so heavily. If the point can’t be made on the facts alone, perhaps it’s time to reexamine it.

    • Well, bill, WHAT would YOU like to know about Billings? And be specific. Include facts. I’ll do my best to answer!

      But here, billy, allow me. I happened to read the Billings Gazzoo after the tornado ripped off the roof of the Metra building. Well, they had a picture of three guys that I knew. There was Gov. Schweitzer, Bill Dutcher head of Metra, and Mayor Tom Hanel! I told my wife, geez, I know all THREE of them guys! Do you?

      Bill Dutcher and I used to run together in the old days. He was a great runner for U of M, and dated my sister in law. Schweitzer and I have been buddies for a long time. And Tom Hanel? He started on the PD about the same time lots of my buddies did. Terry Peterson, Steve Garcia, Billy Wong, Tom Hanel, etc. They were ALL good guys! And good cops. I liked them all!

      Now, if YOU think I don’t know Billings and its residents, please tell me why? Hell, I knew Billings very well back in them days! What do YOU know about Billings? I’m preparing a quiz for guys like you and miller! Let’s see what you know!

  10. …for the folks who don’t like big city government telling them where they can aim their bigotry, it seems the good people of Billings have come up with a private market solution:

    Looks like you shouldn’t be serving a side of hate with your nachos… even if it is legal.

    And Larry, even though Missoula is only thirty minutes from Montana, yes, I have been to Billings. Angry Hanks!

    • Ellie, slow down. IT’S BILLINGS! Again, them folks in Billings ain’t all bigots. It’s just that when you’re simply trying to survive from day to day, you don’t really GIVE two shits who puts their what’sit in whose whoseits! They have their priorities straight in other words. Can you BEGIN to understand that? The homo agenda does NOT put food on the table! Or get you HEALTH CARE! Or put GAS in your car! That you can’t afford to repair! To get to work! Or stave off the bill collectors! Or turn your gas and water back on! Yes, the homo agenda is all well and good, but it’s WAY down on the list of your average dude in Billings just trying to survive! Do you get that or not!

  11. Larry, sorry if you thought my comment was directed at you. It was directed at the author of the piece.

  12. What are you so angry at Larry? You come off like one of them nut jobs. You must not have a mirror in your house.

    • Easy answer, Pat. Why aren’t YOU outraged! If you’re not, you’re not paying attention. I come by my outrage honestly. I’m old, I’m a scholar, and I’ve lived everything I write about. I remember what this country once was, and I refuse to allow the fascists and crhistofascists to take it over without a fight. Hope this helps.

  13. I’m waiting to see what gain Hanel gets from throwing Billings under the bus. Gianforte is all involved in this, having funded the Montana Family Foundations efforts. Now that Tom has done his dirty work, let’s watch and see how Hanel is paid off.

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