Archive for January 10th, 2007

by Jay Stevens 

So what’s Rick Jore up to in the legislature these days? It’s a good question, because we crazed bloggers have predicted gloom and doom for the state of Montana in Jore’s appointment as chair of the House Education Committee.

So I check out the bills he’s sponsoring…and, man! Is this guy a fruitcake, or what? He certainly doesn’t mess around.

There’s a bill on hold rejecting the No Child Left Behind Act, which I could actually get behind. Of course, that’s one way to eliminate federal funding for state schools, isn’t it?

There’s another (also on hold) that would replace primary elections with a party caucus in selecting political party nominations for office. On the surface, not revolutionary, but certainly would take candidate selection out of the hands of those pesky voters. Probably would allow for real extremists to win party nominations. Still, there’s no text to this bill, so I’m making assumptions.

Then there’s his attempt to revise Montana’s same-day voter registration laws, pushing registration back to 14 days prior to elections. This is, of course, nuts. Same-day registration was wildly successful in the 2006 elections. A lot of Montanans charged the courthouse on election day, exercising their right to vote. This bill would deny some people the right to vote. Period.

And then there’s LC1171, which prohibits transferring jurisdiction to tribes of state-run lands on reservations. I’m not exactly sure what the intent of this bill is…but I suspect it’s influenced by the recent Bison Range dispute and seems to ensure that no such transfer agreement could ever happen to state lands.

The kicker bill is, of course, LC1173, which would “Constitutionally recognize life begins at conception.” Ugh. Great. Let’s hope this bill never makes it out of committee, because it’s a bald attempt to stir up a political hornet’s next.

All in all, just about what you’d expect from Jore. Let’s hope most of this stuff doesn’t even get out of committee, especially the voting changes and the whacky “life at conception” bill.

In light of the Bison Range fiasco, talking about jurisdiction changes on tribal lands isn’t a bad idea, although I’d probably be against it.

Other than that, may all of Jore’s bills die quiet deaths…

Spocko versus the Mouse

by Jay Stevens 

And you wonder why I dislike corporate power?

Take, for example, the case of Spocko the blogger. He objected to the violent ranting of a San-Francisco-based radio talk-show host broadcasting on a Disney-owned station. The blogger went on a one-man crusade and penned letters to sponsors of the station — AT&T, Netflix, Bank of America, eg — including snippets of the show’s rhetoric (on Pelosi, “we’ve got a bulleye painted on her big, wide laughing eyes”; on Indonesia, “Indonesia is just another enemy Muslim nation…You keep screwing around with stuff like this, we’re going to kill a bunch of you. Millions of you”).

Some of the sponsors dropped the show.

Disney-owned ABC took down Spocko’s site.

Read it all. Weep.

Firedoglake’s TRex urges us to get involved.

by Jay Stevens 

The latest report from the Bison Range brouhaha surfaced recently, this time telling the story from the USFWS employees’ perspective. And, as always, I found some interesting material.

In this story, the Missoulian shares some Department of the Interior documents released by PEER — the federal employees’ organization that is strongly opposed to tribal takeover of the wildlife refuge. The report alleges that tribal work members used vulgarity and took other actions to create a hostile workplace environment.

The rest of the piece centers on an interview with recently retired USFWS official and Bison Range project manager, Dave Wiseman. According to Wiseman, the root of the conflicts at the refuge is the CSKT’s desire for full control:

“I’d say it hasn’t worked because the tribe doesn’t want it to work,” says Wiseman, who managed the bison range from 1995-2004 and was involved in all negotiations between the federal government and the tribes concerning the refuge during that time.

“From the beginning of the negotiations they told us there was not going to be a partnership,” Wiseman says. “They always intended to get everything. What changed was they were willing to compromise in order to get a foot in the door. The tribes had a tremendous opportunity to be partners at the bison range, but they told us early on there was never going to be any partnership.”

Wiseman also cites the differences in regulations between federal and tribal hiring: nepotism laws don’t apply in tribal hires; federal agencies can’t hire former felons:

If the Fish and Wildlife Service objects to someone who’s been hired at the range, the tribes make it clear they get to decide who works for them.

I could see why that attitude would annoy government bureaucrats.

No mention in the story is made of the original allegations from the USFWS that tribal performance was the Bison Range was poor — either a telling omission by the USFWS and PEER, or an egregious mistake by the Missoulian’s Vince Devlin. Does that mean the original allegations against the tribal members false? Not important enough to warrant mention in the internal reports? Or just an oversight?

And with Wiseman’s account, we seem to be approaching the core of the story and the reason for the conflict. Both sides want the refuge. Both sides are (probably, IMHO) acting like toddlers fighting over a toy.

Again, I’m glad an independent ombudsman is on the way to oversee the transfer of the refuge into tribal hands. Considering that the refuge is on tribal lands, and that managing bison is part of the tribes’ heritage, I think the CSKT has the right to control the Bison Range. Hopefully someone dedicated to the transfer — instead of someone jealous of his bureaucratic turf — will be able to hammer out the compromises necessary to effect the change in management.

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