The article in question, "Gray says casinos want him out", strongly intimates that Dona Stebbins' is the favored candidate of the casino owners in Great Falls.
To my knowledge, this issue first came out in a comment on David's Greaterfalls blog on October 26. The commenter, Loran Keller, at that time intimated that Stebbins' was in the pocket of the city's gambling interests. Stebbins' response to Keller can be found immediately below Keller's comment.
To be frank, I think that Stebbins has to answer this charge. In particular, I found a few paragraphs of the article troubling:
Stebbins said she does not favor doubling gaming taxes to create treatment programs for problem gamblers, saying people also can be addicted to drinking, smoking and other things. She questioned whether gaming taxes should pay to treat gambling addicts.
"If people have no self-control, is that a problem of the state, or the city?" she asked.
I think that legal businesses have every right to go to market in any way they see fit. I don't think that the city, county or state should take away or water down the value of the liquor licenses that are the most significant assets of most taverns. However, I do not think that gaming interests pay a fair share of the costs that society has to bear as a result of the industry.
The state, city and county have to pay for increased police protection and suffer more unemployment and crime due to the existence of our gaming industry. It is only fair that the tax burden borne by casinos pay for that burden.
However, to get back to the issue at hand, I question the motives of the Tribune here. As I posted above (before the tangent), this issue came out before the mayoral forum on Wednesday. The Tribune hosted that forum, and I am fairly sure that they were aware of the issue. Why wasn't the question asked on Wednesday so that Stebbins could publicly answer the charge?
In fact, during the forum a question was asked of both candidates about how they would react to conflicts of interest that arise during their mayoral tenure. While the question was being asked, I was fairly sure that the Tribune was going to ask about Stebbins' ties, if any, to gaming interests. However, Gray was asked about his land deal for MacKenzie River Pizza's parking lot and Stebbins was asked about her husband's job with the city.
This feels like an eve of the election stunt by the Tribune. While the issue is legitimate, the Tribune's timing seems to be solely aimed at ensuring re-election for their favored candidate.
"Don't ever get in an argument with someone who buys ink by the barrel."