©2013 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana

With the preliminary results posted last evening, Concerned Citizens would like to report that the Flathead Joint Board of Control won the referendum vote which asked irrigators if they would like to keep the Joint Board as the unified representative of fee land irrigators within the Flathead Irrigation District.  The results show a majority supports the FJBC with only 30% of project-wide acreage against the JBC.

Importantly, the Mission and Jocko Districts voted to support the FJBC and voted  against its Commissioners who decided to pull out of the JBC without asking their constituents.  We can see why they took it upon themselves to decide for everyone else, like those who believe they can dictate the lives of others,  because if they had asked their constituents, the votes show that irrigators in those two districts would not have allowed them to pull out of the Joint Board.

Remember, these commissioners of the Mission and Jocko Districts WANT TO GIVE AWAY YOUR WATER RIGHTS.  Let’s name them:  Jerry Johnson, Paul Wadsworth, Kerry Doney, and Roger Christopher.   They want to sign the flawed irrigator water use agreement which already has been ruled an unconstitutional taking of property without compensation.  What part of ‘unconstitutional taking’ do these commissioners not understand? Do they honestly expect that they will be allowed to give away their neighbors water rights without a serious fight in which they will lose on basic principles of unconstitutionality?

Here are the numbers for the referendum:

Flathead Jocko Mission Total
FOR retaining the FJBC as the united   representative of all fee land irrigators. 28,757 2,320 5,516 36,593
AGAINST retaining the FJBC as the   united representative of all fee land irrigators. 30,116 1,773 4,699 36,588
Grand total -1,359 547 817 5
Total District Acreage 87,088 7,038 15,112 109,238

The surprise is the Flathead District, which voted by a narrow margin to not support the FJBC.  We are unsure whether this vote reflects confusion over the wording of the referendum itself or intimidation of fellow irrigators by compact proponents.

Are Compact Proponents Proud of Themselves?

The vote does show a divided irrigation community, however, which is a sad result of the propaganda spread by compact proponents.  As in the Klamath Basin, a handful of people used by others, including by the federal government the Tribes, and by a state agency, have succeeded in dividing the irrigation community–a key element of trying to conquer a community into submission.  Compact proponents have used every trick in the book to misrepresent the truth about the Compact, to hide its contents, and to divert attention away from the very real dangers to the agricultural economy of western Montana that the water use agreement and Compact pose.  All these compact proponents have is threats and untruths.

The referendum vote is not a game changer.  If the Governor wants to stake his entire political career, and the fate of 360,000 Montanans who will be impacted by the proposed CSKT Compact, on a handful of individuals who neither understand nor care about the reality of the water use agreement,  then he can live with the consequences of dooming Montana to endless litigation.  No one gives up their property without a serious fight.

And what of these commissioners in the Mission and Jocko Districts?  Already they are facing a recall, are in arrears in their finances, and have jacked up their constituents fees by more than $6 an acre.  They have nothing to show for it but a few fancy lawyers and the reputation of throwing their constituents under the bus, all because they want to sign a water use agreement that gives their constituents’ water rights away.

These irrigation commissioners may have the legal right to withdraw from the Joint Board, but they have lost the moral authority and support of their constituents to do so.  Men of character would reconsider their hasty actions in light of this vote.  Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have the requisite courage or character to back off their mistakes and to truly represent their constituents.  They wreak unnecessary havoc on their neighbors.