Never did I think the Ravalli County Commission would be the place to call out extreme Republican views, but hey it’s 2017–things just keep getting weirder.
This week, Ravalli County Commissioners rejected a plan from land transfer advocate Rep. Theresa Manzella (R-Hamilton) to have Wyoming attorney and public lands enemy Karen Budd-Falen speak about “public land use plans” (read: transfer and sale).
After public comment on the matter, 100% of which was opposed to Budd-Falen being allowed to speak, commissioners voted not to proceed. You read that right: even in ruby-red Ravalli County, the land transfer agenda is seen as an extremist nonstarter.
Manzella’s proposal was strange enough, but it gets weirder. It turns out Budd-Falen has been travelling the state giving “workshops” on land use, and Manzella had funds to cover the travel. When pressed on the source of the money, however, she claimed it was from “citizens”, and declined to elaborate. Extremist pro-transfer speaker, undisclosed funding source… something here sure stinks, big time.
But not one to be swayed by unanimous feedback from the community she represents, Manzella is pressing on. She now plans to host a private event for Budd-Falen, in a private residence, to which she will invite only two county commissioners, in order to avoid a quorum and openly skirt public meeting laws.
Montanans have seen plenty of these land transfer extremists pushing their agenda in recent years, but this one seems even fishier than most. That’s because Budd-Falen is rumored to be in line for a position as the next BLM director in the Zinke Interior Department, which makes her little “educational” speaking tour seem a lot more like a (poorly-executed) attempt to drum up support for her extreme agenda.
But like we already know, Montanans won’t fall for this garbage heap of a policy idea. Transfer and sale of public lands is the electoral kiss of death for a politician in Montana, and clearly even conservative corners of the state are having none of the snake oil that Karen Budd-Falen is peddling.
If anyone can get into this closed door “workshop” with just enough public officials not to require an open public meeting, feel free to let us know how it goes!