The rest of the story


October 20, 2022

Hello Pot! Meet Kettle.

Last week there was a letter to the Editor from Nick and Erika Lawyer regarding Commissioner candidate Dan Rowan. At first I was somewhat indifferent to the letter. Politics is politics is politics, but as time passed I couldn’t help but feel irked. The Lawyers’ letter seemed to be a pointed personal attack on Dan with very flawed reasoning being cited. Now I have no horse in the race for Commissioner, but one thing I can not stand aside for is injustice; and this letter seemed downright unfair.

The Lawyers are not wrong, actions speak louder than words. And the action of the mere writing of the letter published in the October 12 issue spoke volumes. Disingenuous is the word I would use. Let's go back a bit, January 2020. The Swansons, i.e. Erika Swanson Lawyer, sent an open letter to “voice their concern surrounding the… current infrastructure regarding sewage treatment.” The letter details the certain hardship that would face McGowan’s grocery and adjoining businesses if a solution was not forthcoming. It even paints a dismal picture of declining school enrollment and failed local businesses should the Town of Plains not address the “increasing probability of disaster.”

Sanders County Ledger canvas prints

So, a solution was found. The Lawyers owned a piece of land that fit the bill, gifted by Nick’s mother, and the Town made a fair market value offer. This offer was in line with the laws regarding eminent domain in the State of Montana, and the Town even added the 10% administrative enhancement? Incentive? Which was promptly declined by the Lawyers, but wait! I thought they were in support of an answer to the crumbling sewage infrastructure? Not, apparently, if it meant selling their property that they had “plans” for. Their desired price for the property was well over a million dollars (yes, MILLION), for a piece of property appraised at approximately $170,000. Montana doesn’t accommodate “future value,” property is appraised at current value, and so began mediation. By the time all was said and done, the Lawyers were paid around $480,000 including attorneys fees. Currently the only remaining obligation the Town holds is to relocate an irrigation well, directed to be completed by March of 2024.

As Paul Harvey would have said, now you know the rest of the story. So why a directed attack on Dan Rowan? Curiosity kills me I guess. Spiteful misinformation directed at one person who is not singularly responsible for the decisions of the Plains City Council seems like a childish public relations campaign. If you really want to question whether he is a good candidate for Commissioner, you’ll need something more than a personal opinion from a spurned landowner.

Amy McGraw Carey,



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