Coming Out Party

I started this blog as an anonymous venture. Anonymity gives one the freedom to vent and when I started a couple years ago, blowing off steam over news events was a primary reason to write here. I can appreciate those who suggest anonymous commenting is not useful in our political process, but I disagree. Believe it or not, there are those in the public and private sector who are petty enough to hold a person's opinions against him or her. Further, anonymous political chatter has a long history in our culture. In fact, the famous "Common Sense" was originally anonymous.

That's old news now. Last fall, as a corollary to a series of posts about a then-Justice of the Peace, the Tribune outed me. While I have maintained nominal anonymity since, the fact is that just about anyone who wants to know who I am, does.

So today, in anticipation of a new project I am working on, I make it official. I am Gregg Smith.

First, a couple quick notes on the moniker.

My mom originally added the second "g" to the shortened version of my name around 9th grade, owing largely to the fact, I think, that there were two other Greg Smiths in my high school class. It was a distinction that stuck and ever since I have been Gregg with two "g's" despite the lack of any real etymological basis for the change.

Second, the origin of my pseudonym will remain a mystery, having been bestowed upon me many years ago by Paul Horning, the most famous bartender in the world (or at least Great Falls) back when he worked at the old Minneapolis Bar and back when I still had a bar tab. Paul is still in town, now working at the Halftime Sports Bar, and he still calls me by my nickname on those too rare occasions when I get to see him.

I was born and raised in Great Falls. I graduated from CMR in 1981, undergrad from UM in accounting in 1985, and with a law degree in 1988. I practiced with a local firm, Smith, Walsh, Clarke & Gregoire, for 5 years until 1993, when I went out on my own to form my own firm. I now have two partners and practice law whenever I can find the time. Which is to say, pretty much full-time.

Back in the late 1990's, I was graciously offered an investment opportunity by one of my closest friends, and I took it. Since that time, I have been involved in a couple other local ventures with my friend and his brother and I remain eternally grateful to both of them for all they have done for me.

As I said earlier I started blogging as a way to vent, but now it has grown to a significant hobby. In response to questions by my wife in anticipation of writing this piece, I learned that I am not really sure why I do it. I am sure, though, that the regular disgorging of thoughts into this sort of online journal has become something that I really have to do.

In talking it over, I came up with two potential reasons why I feel compelled to do this. The first is positive, if a little self-aggrandizing, and the second, well, not so much.

My wife, who is fortunately prone to see me in a positive light, thinks that I tend to write this weblog out of some sort of internalized sense of fairness. For example, the reason I get so tied up in knots about the coal plant and the City's apparent refusal to be completely forthright is that is simply not fair to the average person that their resources are used by others in a way that in my opinion ignores important parts of the democratic process.

On the other hand, a more cynical person would simply label me a pot-stirrer or, perhaps more to the point, a troublemaker. One could suggest that, never quite happy with the status quo, I cause trouble for my own amusement.

Neither descriptions is exactly right. I do not live by some over-arching, self-centered code of what is good and just that I feel I must bestow on the world nor do I consciously take up these fights for my own amusement. I do, however, have deep seated feelings about these things, and I do find my self almost compelled to push forward once something catches my interest.

I guess the best way I can describe this compulsion is to say that I truly believe what I say. I truly believe that government belongs to the people on the outside, not on the inside. I truly believe that less government and more freedom inures to the benefit of the many in the long run, although not necessarily to the benefit of the few at any given time. I truly believe that the collective must always be respectful of the rights of the single, and that if left to its own devices it usually is not.

And on and on, blah, blah, blah. Am I really that egotistical, that conceited? Is it a crusade, do I think I will change the world? No, I don't think so. I write a small blog in a small town in a small state. Things catch my eye; I write. No more, no less.

One more thing. I think this comes from being a lawyer. I enjoy the discussion. We can disagree without being disagreeable, or even disliking each other. I have sat on boards before where a vote against the 'consensus' resulted in timid glances from the other board members..."Is he mad at us?"

No, we just disagree. It happens. It's called freedom. And we can still be friends afterward.

So there you have it. Me. Nice to meet you, the pleasure is all mine.


david said...

Way cool, Gregg with two "g"s! Good to have you "outed!"

Anonymous said...

Dear Gregg -

Here! Here!

Much good comes from those who discuss....The Federalist Papers, signed Publius, for example.



The Montana Misanthrope said...

Good Morning Gregg-
Well written, as usual, and interesting bio. Nothing quite like being out there on your own, in business or in blogging.


Anonymous said...

Morning Gregg,

I do know you (or did) after all!

Here I've been lurking around on your blog (and other GF blogs) all this time as a way to cure a little of my home-sickness, putting long ago faces from memory with real time blog names as a way to stay connected, and we actually graduated in the same class.
How funny is that. It will make it that much more fun to know who you really are.

So Gregg, has anyone ever told you that you are the KING of cliff-hangers?

“So today, in anticipation of a new project I am working on, I make it official. I am Gregg Smith.”

What new project? Sounds like some type of public office – but what? Don’t keep us hanging – out with it!

You’d have my vote –(but I’m afraid it wouldn’t count).

Sue Lembo-Schutz
CMR Class of 1981
Current Wisconsin resident

free thought said...

So you're not Batman?

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work! I have enjoyed reading every word. For some of us, who are shy and not very great at writing, you speak for us. Last night on the news, I heard the very last bit on Great Falls being #4 for clean air, but missed the part as to State, United States or what. And I failed to see it mentioned in the G.F. Tribune. I may have missed it. Keep up the hard work on the coal plant. Many of us DON'T WANT IT!

GeeGuy said...

Free Thought: Uh, think Clark Kent.

Anonymous said...

Mild Mannered REPORTER Clark Kent?


GeeGuy said...

Didn't Clark have a law degree?

free thought said...

It all would make more sense if you were from another planet.

GeeGuy said...

I'm not?

david said...

Here's the news about the clean air cities, with Great Falls ranked #4:


Anonymous said...

I know Paul Horning from the drunken/bee/golf cart/Neble incident that took place at Eagle Falls. I think he needed a lawyer friend then.

GeeGuy said...

He may have, but since I'm not sure what you're talking about, I can tell you it wasn't me.