GUEST EDITORIAL: Do what’s right, Mr. Attorney General

All right, Attorney General Fox, your reputation depends on what you do now.

You could say that’s impossible — a previously distinguished career in public service can’t be defined by a single arbitrary decision about relocating 35 jobs.

But political careers have been made and lost on a lot less.

Here are the facts: Bureaucrats in the Department of Justice (which you, not the governor, control under a vagary of the Montana Constitution) made a decision to close the Title and Registration Bureau office in Deer Lodge.

When Department of Justice employees confirmed to The Montana Standard that the decision had been made, they reported that the building owner had demanded a significant rent increase (completely untrue). They further reported that they had searched Deer Lodge and Butte and failed to find a “suitable” building, necessitating the move to Helena.

Now we find out that the Department of Administration, which acts as the agent of the Department of Justice to find facility space, was asked only to look for space in Helena.

We also find out that no city officials in Deer Lodge, no county officials in Butte-Silver Bow and no local development officials in either community were asked about any alternate space available.

Your department has been caught lying to the public.

It is up to you to make this right.

Either negotiate a new deal with the current landlord or find space pronto in Deer Lodge or Butte. Both are eminently possible. We’d bet that in about an hour, we could find you several potentially suitable sites here in Butte. And if you actually tasked the Department of Administration with doing so, and they actually talked with local people, they could certainly do so in short order. At the governor’s order, they “stand ready” to do so.

It’s time to intervene, restore the integrity of your office and those who work for you, and settle this right. If somebody lied to you or the public, they should be gone. And those jobs should stay here in Southwest Montana without people having to commute 120 miles a day.

Do what’s right, Mr. Attorney General. We’re waiting and watching.

— (Butte) Montana Standard