Feelings Over Facts — Great Falls Far Left Rhetoric From Jasmine Taylor & Jake Sorich

Editors note, the following is an opinion piece by Jeni Dodd.

Jasmine Taylor of the blog WTF 406 apparently has issues with the facts. Taylor opined that E-City Beat✓’s recent article, Library Director And Library Board Chair Spouses/Partners Donated $130,000 To Levy Campaign Committee, was an attack on philanthropy and that it showed ire against the donors to ‘Yes for Libraries’.

The E-City Beat✓ article correctly identified the two folks who together donated the bulk of ‘Yes for Libraries’ PAC funding and their relationships to the library director and library board chair. Hard to argue with the truth, so Taylor tries to reframe it with hyperbolic attacks on E-City Beat✓.

Philanthropy? Why didn’t those donors give $130,000 directly to the library instead? That would have more than covered the $120,000 projected budget shortfall for FY2024. The library had no problem accepting $300,000 last fall from an anonymous donor through the Great Falls Library Foundation to cover a budget shortfall when the library director failed to account for increases in electrical and personnel costs. Increases she claims took her by surprise but there is evidence that she would have known about those costs. But instead of taking that under consideration and planning for those increased costs, she continued spending money with her hiring spree for new library personnel.

Seems to me that if pointed out to them, many folks in Great Falls would note the distinction between pure philanthropy and money spent to support a political agenda. It happens far too often that the side with the most money wields the political influence and that’s what happened in this library levy election. The two donors mentioned funded a ballot issue POLITICAL Action Committee to a push the pro-levy narrative and win an election. So don’t be fooled by Taylor’s attacking E-City Beat✓ as being anti-philanthropic— it’s simply obfuscation.

‘Yes for Libraries’ TV ads used the cuteness factor of children. One ad featured a cute child exclaiming, “learn me to read”— definitely an appeal to emotion. False reporting by local legacy media that the library would close its doors if the levy wasn’t passed undoubtedly duped some voters. I noticed that the library director, the library board and ‘Yes for Libraries’ didn’t step up to correct that misnomer. Of course not, it was a huge gift in their favor.

In fact, what many Great Falls voters failed to grasp, due to the spin by ‘Yes for Libraries’ and local media, is that levy was meant to fund a huge EXPANSION of the library’s mission and services.

The director and board were determined to tread into social services waters when the Montana Code Annotated defines a public library’s purpose as the following — “to give the people of Montana the fullest opportunity to enrich and inform themselves through reading.” Seems a venture into providing social services would therefore be unlawful under the MCA. I would also opine, given the library’s usage and patron numbers, an expansion appeared unwarranted.

So no, dear readers, I’m not going to stop beating the drum on the fact that voters were misled by pro-levy proponents, including the media, about the library levy. It is something we should NEVER forget.

For some time now, I’ve also noticed that Taylor repeatedly attacks the ‘Liberty and Values MT’ organization for their billboards against the library levy, which included both the word “no” and the red strike-through symbol — messaging that no doubt could be perceived as a double negative. But keeping her proper English theme, it seems a bit hypocritical of Taylor to criticize that when she’s used “canvas” and “canvass” interchangeably throughout several of her blog entries about elections. I’ve included a screen shot of one of her headlines as an example. Perhaps she’ll just blame the autocorrect.

Taylor appears to do little to no research or fact checking. Her latest error — incorrectly identifying a new hire at the elections office as Beth Cummings and tying this person, who isn’t Cummings, to one of her Election Protection Committee conspiratorial narratives. In particular, the conspiracy where she equates library levy opposition to being anti-library. It seems Taylor doesn’t have the discernment to understand that those two concepts aren’t the same and can actually co-exist. But not being able to grasp something like that is true of much of the leftist rhetoric these days.

Then there’s Jake Sorich, who is one of the newer hires for the Great Falls Public Library. He’s their communications person and he also has a Substack account where he posts his musings.

His recent effort, ‘Powerful people will start to listen if you raise your voice enough’, is an uninformed piece about local politics. In it, he writes, “Locally, we have seen elected officials repeatedly try to overturn the will of the people for what THEY want. And yes, I’m talking about the local levies. Certain officials have expressed their desire to take the money granted for one organization in a levy the people voted to approve, and dump it into other public entities that had their levy fail. (Even if they disagree, that’s essentially what would have happened no matter what anyone wants you to believe otherwise.)”

Pretty obtuse to not name names. Wonder who and what he’s referring to in his piece.

Could it be Sorich is referring to Great Falls City Commissioner Tryon as the elected official, and his efforts to reexamine the 1993 agreement between the city and the library board which granted the library 7 mills? If so, he needs to do some research before spouting off.

Get a clue — “the people” never voted for that 7 mills; it was never on a ballot. It was voted on by the city commission and the library board. That’s why it is called “7 mills by agreement” in nearly every city and library reference. So much for Sorich’s “overturn of the will of the people.”

Yet regarding the actual overturn of the will of the people that occurred when two county commissioners took election duties away from the Clerk/Recorder AND ELECTIONS ADMINISTRATOR less than a year after the will of the people elected someone to that combined position — crickets from Sorich.

Great Falls Public Library’s Partisan Political Agenda?

Opinion by Jeni Dodd

I grew up experiencing a local library as an enchanting place to discover literature, gather
information and explore ideas. A place for informing and educating but also a place
where parents could be assured that their children were safe in that exploration —
physically, mentally and spiritually.

I’ve since learned that although a local library may appear on the outside to be the same
one you spent time in as a child, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Now that we have instant access to books, magazines and other material online from the
comfort of our homes, libraries appear to be struggling for relevance. So libraries are
branching out and sadly, becoming biased, agenda-pushing institutions.

The Great Falls Public Library is no exception to this push toward woke agendas. The
latest examples were on display at the January 23 library board meeting. One agenda
item proposed by Library Director Suzie McIntyre, was a change to the library’s Code of
Ethics, adding the following language from the American Library Association.

We affirm the inherent dignity and rights of every person. We work to recognize and
dismantle systemic and individual biases; to confront inequity and oppression; to
enhance diversity and inclusion; and to advance racial and social justice in our libraries,
communities, profession, and associations through awareness, advocacy, education,
collaboration, services, and allocation of resources and spaces.

I don’t have a problem with that first sentence. But the rest sounds like a political agenda
commercial for the progressive left. The library board passed the addition by a 4-1 vote.
The Great Falls Public Library is a governmental division of the City of Great Falls and
sponsored by our tax dollars. As such it is subject to the provisions of Montana Code
Annotated Title 49, Chapter 3, Part 2 Duties of Government Agencies, Governmental

MCA 49-3-205 states:
49-3-205. Governmental services. (1) All services of every state or local governmental
agency must be performed without discrimination based upon race, color, religion, creed,
political ideas, sex, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, or national origin.
(2) A state or local facility may not be used in the furtherance of any discriminatory
practice, nor may a state or local governmental agency become a party to an
agreement, arrangement, or plan that has the effect of sanctioning discriminatory
(Emphasis added).

Dismantling systemic biases certainly sounds like a political agenda to me. Who decides
what defines systemic bias? The library director? The City of Great Falls? The American
Library Association? The library is also positioning itself to be the arbiter in defining
what is meant by inequity, oppression and diversity.

Will it be considered “oppressive” to not use someone’s pronouns of choice? Will
compelled speech by a government entity like the library, acting dictatorially, become
standard procedure?

The purposed changes to the Library Code of Ethics shows the library wishes to sanction
and promote political ideologies, an apparent violation of the above MCA statute.

Agendas are also introduced through library programing. One of the commenters at the
library board meeting mentioned a recent speaker who presented a Palestinian
perspective behind the long standing Israeli–Palestinian conflict. He asked the board
when the library would invite a speaker to present the opposite viewpoint on the conflict.
Library Director McIntyre answered that the speaker was originally from Great Falls.
Who knows why she thinks that matters? She went on the claim that she “couldn’t find
anyone” to speak on the opposite viewpoint, which I find preposterous. How hard did she
look, really?

Seems to me the library must either provide a public forum for any and all political views
or must refrain entirely from providing a forum for any political views.

But these examples aren’t the library’s first foray into woke world. We’ve also seen it
with Drag Queen Story Hour, which was posted online on the library’s YouTube kid’s

Despite Library Director McIntyre’s claim at a city commission meeting and other
meetings that the library “did not have Drag Queen Story Hour,” the fact is that one of
the “queens” in the video thanked the Great Falls Public Library for having them read for
the library. It seems to me that McIntyre was deceptive through her semantics in
answering the city commission and public’s questions about it.

Men dressed as women reading to children? Does anyone really believe that mockery of
women is an educational or informational activity?

Of course, the library gave no consideration to drags’ anti-female origins — from ancient
Greece where women weren’t allow on stage, so men dressed as women for female roles;
to white men dressed as females in blackface mocking black women; how that all became
the precursor to Drag; on to the present Drag Queen Story Hour and how it depicts
derisive characterizations of women, or worse, a goal to sexualize children.

More telling is that I haven’t seen the Great Falls Public Library celebrate Women’s
History Month during McIntyre’s tenure as library director. Why not? Perhaps honoring
historic females is out of the question if you believe there are as many genders as ice
cream flavors at Baskin-Robbins.

Despite McIntyre’s claim in an email to me that, “The Library is committed to being open
and transparent,”
I’m constantly finding transparency, accountability and truth lacking
from the library director and board.

Even though McIntyre revealed at the January 2 City Commission Work Session that the
library had to borrow $300,000 from the Great Falls Public Library Foundation due to a
budget shortfall, her explanation defies logic.

“We didn’t understand the cash flow issue as well as we should have. We also didn’t quite
understand, when we first did our budget, we didn’t know that electrical cost would triple
and that our union members would mostly get 8% raises,”
McIntyre claimed.

It seems she is implying that the electric rate increase was sprung on her and she was
taken by surprise. That is definitely not the case.

Though Library Director McIntyre might have been in the dark about a potential city
electric rates increase back in December 2023 when she presented her library levy and
budget proposal, she certainly knew by early February 2023.

McIntyre was present at the February 2023 commission meeting where the electrical rate
increases were discussed and voted on. In fact, it was the same meeting where she
presented her case for the library levy resolution. So she had ample time before the levy
passed in June to make necessary budget adjustments, like freezing hiring and budgeting
to cover the increased electric rates. I would argue a competent city department head,
such as library director, should be expected to cover existing expenses before creating
new ones. But she went ahead with her hiring spree.

Regarding union wage increases, according to city documents, McIntyre was also on the
negotiating team for the union agreement covering library workers in July 2023. Thus she
was aware of pay increases then, but still chose to hire more personnel for the library,
including a full-time community engagement director and a part time communication
specialist. Seems to me that if you know at the beginning of July you’d need funds to
cover union wage increases, you would hold off on adding new staff.

When I submitted a formal request to the city for information on the cost of salaries and
benefits for library positions hired since the library levy passed, I receive an email from
the city stating the following:

“HR staff has estimated an hour and a half to compile the requested information. Per the
Commission’s adopted policy there is no charge for the first 30 minutes. Therefore, the
estimate of fees is about $45.”

An hour and a half? The information I requested is something that should be easy and
readily accessible for a library director to find as it should be in her budget. Why would
HR staff, and not the library director, be tasked with fulfilling the request? Does McIntyre
even know what’s in the library’s budget? So much for open and transparent.

A mere 619 vote difference allowed the library levy to pass, a levy which, by the way,
was not for keeping the library doors open, despite reporting from at least one local
mainstream media outlet. Unfortunately, it’s the message most folks heard and some folks
were duped into believing it and, despite citizens like me calling for a correction, the
media took its own sweet time to do so. Not to mention, we all know that a correction
never gets the attention of the original report. The levy proponents certainly gained an
unfair advantage in the election, thanks to the media’s “mistake.” Seems a little bit like
election interference, doesn’t it?

So where was the library director during this? Did she try to correct it? No, McIntyre
stated to me in an email that she “wasn’t aware that he provided inaccurate information
until he contacted me about providing clarification.”

Well, maybe I’m just cynical, but like most of what McIntyre says, I find that impossible
to believe, especially since I’ve had Great Falls folks tell me that they contacted the
library and the library director shortly after the broadcast to complain about the

Curious to research the funding behind YES for libraries, the political committee that
promoted the library levy, I found a total of less than 100 individual donations to the
committee. Yet YES for Libraries raised, if my math is right from adding the numbers on
the Montana Commission of Political Practices database, approximately $151,000.
Here’s the information from the Montana Commission of Political Practices (MT COPP)
Campaign Electronic Reporting System (CERS):

Levy proponents tried to make it look like a grassroots effort with their marketing, but
again, you can’t judge a book by its cover. Minus the Library Foundation’s donation of
$23,195 during the first reporting period, the bulk of the remainder of YES for
Libraries funding of $128,692 came from just three people, as seen on a CERS pdf
screen shot.

The local mainstream media didn’t report that, did they? No, the appearance of a
grassroots effort was important to getting the levy passed. Instead, they aided and abetted
the library levy effort through their lack of investigative journalism and no sense of duty
to present both sides of this levy debate. No fair and balanced reporting to be found on
the library levy here in Great Falls, except for an independent voice or two.

Yes, looks are deceiving. The finest leather-bound, gold-leaf volume can contain lies and
deception, while a tattered and torn paperback can contain facts and truth. We must look
beyond the cover in every instance for facts and truth during these troubling times.

Let’s Talk Public Funding Facts, Great Falls

On January 16 at the Great Falls City Commission meeting I proposed an initiative to meet a process deadline which would have then given the City Commission, the library board, and the public three months time (90 days) to review and have a discussion about a 30-year-old agreement between the City and the Great Falls Public Library Board of Trustees. The agreement would have been discussed and reviewed in that three month period and could have been renewed as is, renewed with amendments, or terminated.

Some say the initiative was proposed too suddenly, that there wasn’t enough time given for the commission to vote on opening a 3-month window of opportunity to review the agreement. It seems to me the urgency of considering City budgets in light of the public safety funding for police, fire and courts was important enough to move quickly and open discussion on the library funding agreement.

There was an immediate deadline looming to open that discussion by Commission vote with no final decisions needed until the three month period of review concluded.

The 7 mills of funding in the agreement (current value of which is about $900,000) was not intended to provide taxpayer dollars for the library exclusively in perpetuity without any possibility for review or discussion.

The agreement is up for renewal each and every year and the funding is discretionary, as the library board, City finance personnel, and the city commission have all clearly understood every year during budget time.

My initiative was a request to publicly review that agreement before the FY25 budget is passed and before the automatic renewal of the agreement.

There is an argument that citizens were fully aware of the 7 mill funding agreement and its dollar amount and therefore this agreement should not be reviewed because it is ‘written in stone’ as only for library use, even though it has an annual renewal date and was never voted upon by the citizens of this community.

It follows that if citizens were fully aware and educated about the 7 mill funding agreement, then they also would be fully aware of its annual renewal and would therefore not have assumed it is 7 mills only for library expansion for ever and ever, amen.

The library currently receives 24 mills of City funding (15 more than they received prior to the levy vote in June of last year) 17 mills of which are voted mills, and 7 mills (those in the agreement) having never been voted on by Great Falls voters – they are general fund mills that can and should be used for ANY City priorities and which are not limited to library expansion projects.

Priorities can and do change, especially over a 30 year period.

I have been a regular GFPL patron, library card holder, frequent service user, and supporter of our library and its historical role in our community for many, many years. I value the role of our library and its staff and board.

My concerns are about funding priorities without regard to political or ideological considerations. Period.

I was reelected to the Great Falls City Commission a little over two months ago based on a clear, unambiguous, and repeated platform of public safety and public infrastructure being the top priorities for Great Falls. I will continue to hold those as my top priorities when considering budget issues going forward.

At the very least we should have a full, open and honest public discussion about this issue – and the sooner the better.