On February 26 the Standard printed an Op-ed authored by Blake Hempstead entitled “Who’s trying to do more for Anaconda?” In the piece he extolled the virtues of Rick Tabish and launched a personal attack on me. Let me respond by saying:

Rick Tabish has two big problems in Anaconda — an image problem and a credibility problem.

The image problem stems from Tabish’s criminal past.

Tabish’s credibility problem arises from his double-talk and exaggerations. While he has been telling the people of Anaconda that he’s going to build a slag smelter processing 5,000 tons per day and create 700 jobs, he went to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and permitted a plant for 86 tons a day with 30 jobs. On average, what Tabish tells Anaconda is 97 times greater than what he tells the regulators in Helena.

Tabish knows he’s got the image problem so he hired Matt Vincent to change people’s perceptions of him. That effort started with a series of well-publicized charitable contributions in Anaconda. The money went to worthy organizations and it’s nice for Anaconda to have a philanthropist. Anaconda has a number of non-profits and, I am sure they all need money. I encourage each and every one to contact Tabish or his company, FX Solutions, and get some help. So should all the non-profits in Butte.

One thing I appreciate about Tabish is that he’s an equal-opportunity philanthropist, seemingly with a concern for people from all social strata. At a public meeting at the Metcalf Center on November 8, 2017, Tabish mentioned building the county a fairground and riding arena. One simply cannot top that. We have a developer who will spend his company’s profits to insure that the citizens of Anaconda have a place to exercise their polo ponies.

Hempstead also reported that Tabish had created bitcoin mining jobs in Butte. He never said how many jobs but I’ve heard that the plant employs 25-30 people, few of whom actually work for Tabish. On December 6, 2017, Rick Tabish stood before the Anaconda School Board and told them that the bitcoin mine he was helping bring to Anaconda would create 300 jobs. How many have been created since then? Exactly ZERO.

About a month earlier in November, Tabish said, “The buck starts in Anaconda. I made a pledge to Anaconda and reinforced it numerous times. We’re really, really pro-Anaconda for employees”. Perhaps, Mr. Hempstead can explain to the people of Anaconda, how creating jobs in Butte fulfills that commitment. I think creating jobs in Butte is just fine but, if that is what Tabish was going to do, he should have said so. Creating a couple of jobs in the Mining City is not part of the economic miracle promised Anaconda.

Hempstead closed his Leader piece by asking “What has John Fitzpatrick ever done for Anaconda?”

I am of the belief that a person lists their accomplishments on their resume or in their obituary. Since, I am happily retired, not looking for a job, nor planning on making it to the graveyard any time soon, I won’t list them here.

As for “grandstanding”, a theme mentioned in Hempstead’s letter, I observe that the only “grandstanding” going on in Anaconda is being orchestrated by the Tabish Team with its grossly inflated claims about all the jobs it is going to create, how much property tax the proposed smelter is going to pay, and how financially successful it’s going to be. The operative phrase here is “going to,”  something Anacondans have been listening to now for over three years.

When I hear members of the Tabish Team talk, I am reminded of the guy one inevitably meets in the barber shop during hunting season. All the hunters know who I’m talking about. It’s the fellow who claims he shot a six point bull, on the run, in heavy timber, at 300 yards, with a single shot through the neck. Then, you find out he doesn’t own a rifle or have a hunting license. That wannabe hunter is a metaphor for the Tabish Team — long on talk, short on performance.

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