©2014 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana
Overheard: “Yes, we know there are a lot of legal and constitutional issues with this Compact. But, we also know that it will be very expensive to challenge it so we don’t expect anyone to sue”. ∼ from an unnamed high-ranking state official
As we wind down towards the 2015 legislative session, it is painfully obvious that the flawed CSKT Compact will be presented to the 2015 legislature exactly as it was in 2013: a 130 page bill in 2 point font, no appendices, and with the same water theft components only reworded to make it seem “just fine”. The Committees and special task forces have “done their work” giving the appearance of consideration to the public and legislators, but ultimately that “work” has failed to produce any substantive examination of legal, constitutional, or economic impacts, resulting in several weak ‘recommendations’ to the Compact Commission, which of course will be ignored.
As evidenced by the November 5 “negotiation session” held in Polson, at the ‘neutral forum’ of the Tribes’ Best Western Hotel franchise project, the ‘negotiators’ were rude and non-responsive, abruptly ending the meeting to prevent public comment, and changing the agenda at the last minute in violation of public meeting laws. What a shame that this is standard practice for the Compact Commission, and should be a lesson to all as to the disdain the CSKT has for the laws of the state of Montana.
What is good news in all of this fiasco and waste of taxpayers money is the following:
- The bare unconstitutionality of the Compact remains exposed for all to see…the Compact Commission, the Governor, the DNRC, and the Attorney General have failed to produce any “legal legs” that support the Compact. They cannot justify nor defend their decision to remove constitutional protections from citizens of Montana, cannot legally defend the claims that the Tribes own all the water, and most importantly, cannot justify the theft of water that will occur with the Compact. Instead they misstate, don’t answer, obfuscate, filibuster, and quote irrelevant legal theories.
- The bare, naked capitulation and pandering of the State of Montana to the supposed “claims” of the Tribes is also exposed. The Tribes gave up nothing, the State gave up everything, including its citizens’ water rights and legal protections.
- The complete ignorance of history and law is also exposed, and the State and Tribes can neither legally or historically defend themselves. It is simply preposterous that the Tribes get everything, including citizens land and water, as a part of this Compact.
- The State’s capitulation to the federal government is exposed for everyone to see–and Montana will become the laughing stock of western states for it.
- The illegal and illogical expansion of the federal reserved rights doctrine–which will ripple across the western States–is smugly seen by clever lawyers as entirely justifiable as they seek their cushy federal or state jobs.
You know that these ‘negotiators’ see us as dupes, right? But you also must see that the Tribes view the state negotiators as dupes too. Talked and walked them right into a trap from which the State of Montana will never recover.
Ultimately, the ‘three legs of the stool’ consist of politics, politics, and politics. And those three legs only support the patently clear theft of water in western Montana. Ok, let’s use other terms: the transfer of title in land and water to the CSKT is a taking under the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Support the Montana Land and Water Alliance, and give Montanans a fighting chance!