© 2013 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana

Concerned Citizens of Western Montana is a grassroots organization consisting of people living throughout western Montana who are rightly concerned about the Flathead Water Compact and its implications to the economy, property values and its violations of law and the constitution. We also understand that if it is ratified as is, the federal government will have control and ownership over most if not all the water in western Montana.

Let us be clear, we believe the CSKT have water rights, but adamantly oppose the existing proposed compact that the governor, the compact commission and a small minority of uninformed people living within the reservation’s exterior boundaries continue to try to ram down the throats of 360,000 people.

We’ve worked very hard to provide factual information concerning this compact, including the Critical Review of the Proposed Compact and a Corrective Compact.  These documents were developed at the request of legislators, and are intended to show the flaws with the existing proposed compact, and what a compact should have looked like had the MONTANA RESERVED WATER RIGHTS COMPACT COMMISSION represented the interests of Montanans in their decade long “negotiations”.

This past week we were contacted by a “freelance reporter” out of Missoula / Sacramento wanting to write an article about the CSKT compact.

Of course we were curious about how this reporter got access to personal cell phone numbers, and were told that someone from the compact commission had steered him our way.  That made us curious about the questions this reporter wanted to ask of us, and the direction his article would likely take.  He kindly provided us with a list of questions.

We are not surprised to find that instead of focusing on the compact and the multitude of problems associated it, these are the questions that this “unbiased” reporter wanted to ask:

  1. There is some concern that many of the active members of CCWM are from out of state and/or do not rely on irrigation as their means of making a living, and thus have less of a stake in the outcome of the compact.
  2. Given the established legal precedent for negotiating compacts with tribes, the established legal authority of the compact commission, and the commission’s refutation of the points in your December memo, there is the feeling that CCWM has an agenda that is more concerned with ideology than legality.
  3. Your (removed personal information from the question) political views range far beyond water, and are in many cases outside of the political mainstream – both in Montana, and nationally.  There are concerns that these political views could be driving CCWM’s actions.
  4. More explicitly, there have been allegations of racism towards Indians.
  5. The source of CCWM’s funding is unclear, which can make it appear as if outside interests are driving the actions of the group (this concern is in the context of the “Dark Money” phenomenon that has been a fascination in national politics for the last few years).

So we ask, why might the compact commission be focusing a “freelance reporter” on doing a hit piece on opponents to the compact rather than on “addressing the issues with the compact” as the governor directed in his Veto Letter of Senate Bill 265?  Why haven’t they answered questions about the potential economic harm the compact represents and the substantive issues and concerns that have been brought up by Concerned Citizens on behalf of western Montanans?

Denigrate and ridicule, attack the messenger not the message. This is a page taken directly from the old Saul Alinsky book “Rules for Radicals”.

Pay attention to proponents of the compact.  Many of them have made the same arguments, attacking the messengers of opposition because they know there is nothing good to be said about the compact.  To add insult to injury, we know that most of them haven’t read  the documents they endorse.

The arguments of the compact commission and proponents concerning this compact are bankrupt.  The people of western Montana are not buying what they are selling. They have no intention of allowing the commission to relinquish the waters of western Montana to the federal government, allowing themselves to be removed from the legal and constitutional protections of the state of Montana with respect to their water. or allowing a handful of irrigators on the reservation to relinquish their water and property rights.

Oh and by the way. Concerned Citizens of Western Montana is a grassroots, volunteer organization.  Unlike compact proponents, we do not have the benefit of Montana taxpayer dollars, or the luxury of having an entourage of state employees, including the compact commission attorney, hydrologist, and other commission members traveling around the state to support OUR POSITION against the compact.

There is something truly unprofessional, distasteful and disgusting about the compact commission and their supporters using taxpayer dollars to sell a compact that was killed by the Montana legislature earlier this year.

We believe an investigation of the compact commission is in order.  Instead of “addressing the problems with the compact” as the governor suggested, the commission and compact proponents continue to beat the same dead horse.

If anyone’s activities should be questioned, it should be the commission’s, and not the efforts of a group of concerned citizens. We’ve looked at the Montana statutes that created the compact commission.  No where in them do we see it being the responsibility of the commission to participate in, or to orchestrate efforts to denigrate, personally attack or marginalize the public for paying attention to or disagreeing with the commission’s work, and wanting to hold them accountable when they step outside the legal boundaries that were established for them.