by William Skink
Right before Thanksgiving, the incoming Gianforte administration announced that Montana’s top Federal prosecutor, Kurt Alme, would be joining the Governor’s team as the budget director.
While the reports I read about this appointment referenced Alme’s claim that his tenure saw a reduction of violent crime related to meth, no media outlet that reported on this story said a thing about Alme’s work to bring Project Safe Neighborhood money into Montana, not even the Montana Free Press (emphasis mine)
Alme, 54, led the Montana Department of Revenue between 2001 and 2003 under the administration of Gov. Judy Martz, the most recent Republican to serve as Montana governor.
More recently, he has served as U.S. Attorney for Montana, the top prosecutor in Montana’s wing of the federal court system. Alme was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate to that role in 2017 after being nominated by President Donald Trump.
Alme announced Nov. 23 that he would resign as U.S. Attorney effective Dec. 2in a release that touted his efforts to reduce meth-related violent crime and improve how investigations of missing Native American residents are conducted.
Since the Montana Free Press and other Montana media outlets don’t seem all that curious about Project Safe Neighborhood and Alme’s role with this revived Federal initiative, I guess it will be up to a reluctant citizen journalist like myself to write about why I think this is important.
Around the same time Alme got tapped to be Gianforte’s budget director, a big chunk of money was announced to help study treatment options in Montana for meth. I wrote about this new placation plan being championed by United Way’s Susan Hay Patrick last month.
What could this mean for an incoming Republican administration? Allow me to speculate.
In recent years there has been a big Republican split between the nuttier extreme of the party and the more responsible members, dubbed by the media in 2019 as the solutions caucus. During the upcoming legislature, will the manifestation of this loose-nit caucus be taking on a LAW AND ORDER vibe?
Providing law and order is already a critical service that fosters bipartisan relationships. Let me provide an example to highlight what I am talking about.
When Missoula’s lead prosecuting attorney, Kristen Pabst, used the reasonable person standard to explain why Josh Paniagua would not be prosecuted for stabbing Ben Mousso to death in a drug deal gone bad, she deflected criticism for that decision by sending the case to Montana’s Attorney General, Tim Fox, for review, and Tim Fox, a Republican, backed up his Missoula attorney’s decision.
If law and order becomes a main focus of the Gianforte administration, it will be interesting to see how Missoula adapts.
The timing of United Way getting a $248,000 grant is pretty convenient. It strategically moves an influencer like Susan Hay Patrick into champion mode for meth treatment, and unofficially signals where bipartisan collaboration can happen (as long as there is money to do so, right Susan?).
Another factor that could influence law and order being a priority is the fact people in Missoula are being shot in the head and beaten to death in broad daylight. I doubt the useful idiots suggesting we DEFUND THE POLICE are going to get any traction in Missoula for their extreme approach to law and order now. Instead, a space is opening up for the prosecutor clique in Montana to further entrench their power.
With political changes afoot in Montana, I think it’s even MORE important to pay attention to a federal initiative like Project Safe Neighborhoods, so that’s what I’m going to do.
The improvements won’t be overnight.
It’ll take a while to repair the damage done to our State by Gov B.S.
Judy left office with a budget surplus, and the State was fully staffed.
Gov BS increased State spending by 25% and added 1000 additional jobs.
After Gov BS was gone, Gov Bullock, who is an inept bumbler, never accomplished anything.
Gov BS was tricky.
In case your memory is blurry, remember that Gov BS gave an unadvertised State job to a GOP legislator to switch parties, so he could push his agenda.
Remember Gov BS taking money from FW&P to buy a neighbors ranch at an inflated price.
And after the legislature made sure it wouldn’t happen again the Dems cried foul.
Do not worry – Montana’s future is promising now with the new Gov and veto-proof legislature.