Archive for September 2nd, 2008

by jhwygirl

Keep updated with a nice, brief condensed version of the The Interim, the state’s legislative digest.

September’s issue: here.

Most committees are nearing their last hearings. Many have release final draft reports….and all (I’m pretty sure) are still taking public comment.

Some of the last round of meetings are next week.

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by Pete Talbot

Palin pregnancy

There are reasons to question John McCain’s VP pick but Sarah Palin’s daughter being pregnant isn’t one of them. And if McCain drops her from the ticket for this, then he is a neo-con shill, not a maverick.

Sure, there’s some hypocrisy involved: the VP candidate’s anti-sex-ed, abstinence-only, family-values rhetoric. But this is still personal stuff — it could happen to any family — and it’s pitiful that the media, Democrats or Republicans would make it an issue.

Let’s compare Sarah Palin to Joe Biden on experience. The differences are stark.

Betcha, Erik

Much has been written, lately, about Montana’s Republican Chair Erik Iverson. I happen to believe that he’s a damn good spin doctor — one of the finest mouthpieces Montana Republicans have ever had. I mean, you’ve got to be good when, in the face of your red state turning blue, you continually crank out positive spin. But this could be the best so far:

“I still believe at the end of the day, McCain wins Montana by eight to 10 points.” Iverson told Lee newspapers.

Now I’ve challenged him before (never heard a peep back from the guy) so I’ll try again. Anything less than eight points and you kick in $100 toward my favorite candidate in 2010. Eight points or over, and I’ll throw $100 toward your favorite Republican.

Prof. Craig Wilson is a downer

And just who is Craig Wilson, the oft-quoted pundit in various print and electronic news organs?

Well, he hails from Missoula, believe it or not, but currently resides in the Magic City and is a professor at MSU-Billings (formerly Eastern Montana Normal School — it was founded as a teachers’ college).

Wilson bums me out. Here are a couple of his quotes:

“Within the state, this may be one of the less interesting election years,” Wilson told Lee Newspapers.

He went on to say that the Obama-McCain race would bring voters out but he disparaged the down ticket races.

Here’s another:

“In my book, McCain still has to be the favorite in Montana,” Wilson said in July.

Craig, if you give me points, as I’m sure Iverson (above) will, let’s do a $100 wager on that race; proceeds going to one of our favorite charities, of course.

by jhwygirl

I ask that a lot lately, with all my writings on water rights and gravel pits.

So I came across an article on a joint effort of the Georgetown Lake Homeowners’ Association, the Granite Conservation District, Granite Headwaters Watershed Group and the Upper Clark Fork River Basin Steering Committee, which all joined together for a $109,000 grant from the Natural Resource Damage Program. The grant, coupled with $40,000 in matching funds from the DEQ, will allow a comprehensive study of water quality at Georgetown Lake.

In the article, it mentioned the state’s 303(d) list, officially named Montana’s List of Impaired Waters.

Never heard of that…so then I get to looking for the list, and through the information – the information doesn’t seem to be presented in a “list” form, so much as a database that you can search.

Depressing.

Seems here in Missoula, the rivers are doing a great job of supporting agriculture and industry, and not so much of a great job – or any job at all, in the case of the upper Clark Fork (and keep in mind the last data was 2006) – of supporting aquatic life, cold water fisheries, or, get this drinking water.

Some are partially supporting those things, and a whole bunch of others simply haven’t been assessed.

I won’t let my dog swim in the Clark Fork downtown. It’s filthy. I find it hard to believe that from Deerlodge to Missoula the Clark Fork is crap and from Missoula to the St.Regis it is in better shape. Or is it broken right there in Missoula so they can average out all the greater length with the 2 or 4 miles or so that weave through town? The part that is effectively a free-flowing nitrate river?

Remember the algae blooms of last year?

I wonder what the logic is that breaks up the stretches of rivers? Wouldn’t you think that the land uses, when they drastically change, play into it? As it is now, one section of the assessed Clark Fork runs from Deerlodge to the confluence of the Blackfoot and the Clark Fork. Then another from there to, basically, the Madison Street bridge. That makes sense (to me, at least). But then they take it from that point to about 3 river miles east of Tarkio. Huh? All the way through the City of Missoula, all the way through the zoned and well-developed area of the county – all the way past Smurfit Stone – and that is all one assessed area.

Does that make sense to you? Anyone?

I’m real curious what the water on paper water quality is of that stretch of the river from town to, oh, let’s say, Frenchtown. Shouldn’t that be something that it clearly makes sense to assess?

But then again – that might mean that Missoula would be forced to consider a far wider implementation of sewer for development, in the interest of protecting the state’s waterways. Instead of the overly-generous defacto rules currently in place that allow for one septic system per one acre of land.

Then again, there’s also that other overly-generous rule that exempts 35 gallon per minute wells from environmental review – one big SCREW YOU to senior water rights holders everywhere.

Wouldn’t want to impact developers, would we now?

I guess as long as you don’t have open sewage running off into the river, it all looks good. Now, seepage? That’s a whole other thing, but we can’t see that…

In all honestly – I find myself wondering what the 303(d) list does. Does it just make us aware? In a very unaware way? It is supposed to make us (don’t know who that “us” is, BTW) feel good? That we’ve “assessed” the rivers? Are we (the State of Montana) just doing that and walking away?

I mean – the State of Montana has been assessing waterways since 1996. Is that all we’ve been doing since 1996? It’s not like I’ve heard of any concerted efforts to remedy the issues.

Or is this one of those legislative feel-good things where some law was passed to assess the rivers, but no follow-up was done to see what we do once the assessments have identified issues?

Time’s a wastin’ on this stuff people. Consider asking your legislative candidate – whomever they may be – where they stand on water quality issues. Ask them specifics – ask them how they feel about exemptions for 35 gallon per minute wells. Ask them how they feel about septic seepage zones that lie outside of the lots which they serve. Ask them how they feel about having individual septic systems and 35 gpm wells exempted from environmental review.

Then vote accordingly.

by Jason Wiener

Food for thought, courtesy of Princeton political science professor Larry Bartels, by way of former Fed Vice-chair Alan Blinder:




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