This is a reminder to the people of Ravalli County. When you go to vote, please remember that Fred Thomas was one of the key legislators responsible for deregulating Montana Power in 1997. He sponsored SB 390 and helped rush this disaster through the Legislature without public input, spurred on by Governor Racicot, Enron, and Goldman Sachs, who all profited mightily from the breakup of Montana Power.
The people of Montana were much less fortunate. Largely because of Fred Thomas’s leadership, we went from having some of the lowest electricity rates in the region to having one of the highest. Workers lost jobs as businesses like the aluminum plant in Columbia Falls were hit by much higher and wildly fluctuating energy costs. Residential users saw their rates go up by 20%. Stockholders of Montana Power, including employees and retirees, were all relieved (fleeced, robbed) of a lot of money. Fred Thomas’s actions helped destroy Montana Power, which had been one of the most stable, profitable businesses in Montana.
Fred Thomas showed very poor judgment, downright stupidity, or a shocking level of corruption – I don’t know which. Whatever his reasons were for backing this fiasco, he certainly does not deserve another term in the Legislature, or another chance to promote a knee-jerk policy of deregulation because of some misguided, misinformed ideology which says that any deregulation of any business is always good. We came to have those regulations for definite reasons, usually very good reasons, involving greed, corruption, or dangerous incompetence in the businesses being regulated. Unfortunately, all those factors still crop up from time to time in our human and business activities. Our market economy needs sensible regulations. History repeats – our current economic troubles are directly due to the lack of appropriate regulation of our financial and mortgage industries.
Fred Thomas has no business being back in government, at any level. I don’t know much about his opponent, Dan Metully, but I’m going to vote for him. I hope you will too.