Archive for October, 2008

studs terkel dies

by problembear

studs terkel, personal hero, voice of the working man and woman died today. iconoclast, enemy of the aristocracy and defender of the poor. rest easy studs- we’re on the job.

“i want people to talk to one another- no matter what their difference of opinion might be.”-Studs Terkel

by Pete Talbot


Please take these thoughtful endorsements from Planned Parenthood’s action committee into consideration when you vote:

… We are days away from an historic election here in Montana and we want to help you participate in that process.

Evaluating a candidate’s voting history, her PPAM (Planned Parenthood Activists of Montana) candidate questionnaire, or interviewing him personally, PPAM has endorsed and/or recommended 64 statewide and local candidates.

Check out our webpage at for the full listing by community.

A special shout-out to the following statewide and judicial candidates who are a top priority for Planned Parenthood:

Steve Bullock, Attorney General

Denise Juneau, Superintendent of Public Schools

Mike McGrath, Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court

Monica Lindeen, State Auditor

Linda McCulloch, Secretary of State

Kathy Seeley, First Judicial District Court Judge (Helena-area only)

Planned Parenthood is counting on you, the pro-choice voter, to make a difference in these races. Again, visit, share with friends, and vote.”

I’m going to use the ‘S’ word

Socialist. There you go, I said it. And I must be one, too, big time, if that’s what they’re calling Barack Obama. I see Obama’s policies as pretty moderate on: taxes, health care, defense, the economy, the environment …

Takes you back to the good old days of witch hunts and the Red Scare.

Just what are Socialists, anyway? People in Canada, Norway and Australia? Folks in England, France, Germany and our other NATO allies? They seem to be doing as well as anyone these days, economically. Is there something nasty, scary about these governments that I should know about?

A Canadian columnist for The Globe and Mail in Toronto is scratching his head. In a piece entitled, “An election on Socialism, without a Socialist in sight:”

” … Socialism is not defined by state intervention in an economy. All states intervene in the economy, the United States more than most. It busts open foreign markets, fights for global resources (such as oil), controls labour militancy, develops new products (such as the Internet), which it then hands off to business. Above all, its military spending fuels its economy, and has for generations. Bank bailouts fit like a hand in a glove.”

Barack Obama is not a Socialist, he just happens to have different policies than Bush/McCain.

Knock it off

Everybody. Please.

Most Montana campaigns start off pretty tame, with the candidates explaining why people should vote for them. But as we get closer to election day, the gloves come off and folks get nasty. Witness today’s flurry of accusations and counter charges:

Attorney general candidate Tim Fox being smeared by the Montana Democratic Party (granted, Fox’s opponent, Steve Bullock, got smeared earlier by the Republicans). Then there are the radio attack ads against Linda McCulloch, Democratic candidate for secretary of state. And, of course, supporters of Republican OPI candidate Elaine Sollie Herman and the campaign’s “professional Indian” and “young Indian” comments, directed at Democratic candidate Denise Juneau.

Who approves these ads and innuendo, anyway? Erik Iverson, Montana Republican Party Chairman; Dennis MacDonald, the Montana Democratic Party Chairman; someone higher up the food chain; or some boneheaded, overpaid, beltway consultant?

Montanans deserve better. It makes me want to puke slugs.

by jhwygirl

For those of you who don’t live in town and haven’t seen the recent Missoula Independent, they’ve put out their election picks for 2008.

Few surprises in there – but there is one that absolutely perplexes me (and I’ll leave it at that) – and it looks like I’m not the only one…check the comments out on the Indy’s piece…

by jhwygirl

So I figure I’m doing at least that by posting this here.

Forwarded to me by one of Missoula’s finest…..Thanks!

by problembear

it’s amazing to watch the republican party strangle itself by stepping into the coils of it’s most far right wing lunatic fringe. i am an independent who has almost always voted democrat, and i am usually not a very political bear but this year seemed to be too important to just stand on the sidelines and watch so i have thrown my two cents in once in awhile.

the discourse on the blogosphere has been interesting starting with my first feeble attempts to blog six months ago. first, i had to learn some basic blogomanners which wulfgar was happy to help me with. no better teacher is out there by the way. if you’ve gone claw to claw with master sergeant wulfgar then you have completed basic training and are ready to test your mettle against any conservablogger lunatic who lurks out there with their insanely irrelevant arguments all prompted by a far right propoganda machine which supplies their rhetoric. to be sure, there are some good thinkers on the far right who supply thoughtful comments and appear to even have an original thought or two, but the majority of them are much too predictable – pathetically so. it even makes me feel a little sorry for them. i find myself at times wondering if they really believe all the crap the rich bastards who run the far right shovel into their ears on the radio and into their eyeballs on the hate-fear-racist blogosphere.

i am equally turned off by the far left. but i find their opinions less sinister because they at least seem to  be motivated by a sincere desire to do good things and they seem to have some independent thinking in  their arguments however vehemently they may stray from reality.

what is my point? just this. if we continue doing what we are doing we will win- no matter what the far right wing of the republican party does. why? because they have lost all credibility with the majority of americans with their hateful tone, the slippery nature of their language and the stupidity of their arguments. in a word, the right wing of the republican party has finally met it’s match. they have run afoul of the great mass of americans who do not care about what they care about. what’s more, the majority of the electorate do not trust republican idealogy anymore. the majority of americans feel cheated and they are mad as hell. many, many good republicans this year are ashamed of their own party. they join all of us reasonable centrists who are in no mood to be lied to by bigots and fear-mongers or used as pawns by the rich and the politicians who do their bidding. America wants someone to listen to them when they ask politicians to do something about the mess this country is in. America trusts Obama because he is reasonable- like they are. he wants the same things they do- a fair future for our kids and a fair shake at a future with a level playing field. America is tired of the wealthy calling all the shots and getting all the breaks. We are not socialists. we want a fair chance – not handouts, and no more golden parachutes for morons who don’t care about what happens to america.

like our forefathers, the patriots, we simply will not cave to the might and power of the Bush/mccain aristocracy who use our kids for cannon fodder while their buddies get rich selling them bad equipment.

as a fairly centrist thinking independent i hereby declare the right wing lunatic fringe of the republican party completely irrelevant to most americans. we love our country and the freedom it stands for. what they have to say means nothing because they only speak for the 5% who are rich and their servile minions. we will win because we care about what happens to the other 95% of america. we fight for america’s future and the future of the majority of americans. we stand united with Obama.  whoever is foolish enough to try to stop us, come ahead and try- for i have been tested by the best.

united we stand, divided we fall- power to the polite people!

by jhwygirl

I just got polled by Rasumussen. I have a land line, but I use is almost exclusively for internet. Anyone who knows me that needs to reach me uses my cell phone. If that land line is ringing, I can darn well bet it’s someone I don’t know. That being said, the thing has been ringing all afternoon. I finally gave in this evening.

It was an automated call (“if yes, press 1, if no, press 2”) and was primarily for determining who I was voting for in the gubernatorial race (Schweitzer) and who I was voting for in the presidential race (Obama). It also wanted to know my favorability ratings for each of those candidates. Oddly, it didn’t ask what I thought of Brown, but it did ask about McCain (I gave him a “less favorable,” not the “unfavorable” rating. I gave Schweitzer the “good” and not the “excellent” grade.)

Anyways – if you are like me and don’t usually answer the phone, answer it. It could be Rasmussen calling.

Sorry. I don’t have caller ID.

by jhwygirl

When they’re Sarah Palin and the voters are your supporters.

Now, Ashville North Carolina isn’t exactly redneck country…which might explain the (not) obvious excitement over a live performance of Redneck Woman by country star Gretchen Wilson.

by Pete Talbot

It’s the water

For years, I’ve suspected there was something in Ravalli County water. Those wacky Bitterrooters have been voting down school bonds, opposing planning and zoning, and muttering death threats against those who believe ATV’s shouldn’t roam everywhere on God’s green earth.

Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices, Dennis Unsworth, confirms the funky water. He talked about the flurry of political complaints being filed at his office, half of them from Ravalli County:

“I don’t know if there’s something in the water here … ” he said, while visiting the county and adding that because of explosive growth in the valley, and the age-old Montana battle between private property rights and planning, complaints are flying.

The item on the ballot igniting this furor is the potential repeal of the county’s growth policy.

I thought that maybe they’d cleaned up the water after seeing a couple of sensible commissioners elected in the last go-around and then advancing a reasonable plan to mitigate growth. Guess I was wrong.


Are there really people out there who don’t know who they’re voting for, yet, for President? Maybe you’ve seen them interviewed on the TV news shows, and like me, shake your head in amazement.

Writer David Sedaris wonders about them, too, in this week’s New Yorker:

“I look at these people and can’t quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.”

The Gazette takes a stand

Jay over at LiTW has already noted the Billings Gazette editorial endorsing Obama. It got me wondering what the other newspapers in the state were doing, so I Googled them — except for Kalispell’s Daily Interlake, because I just don’t care. Helena did some statewide races. The Great Falls Tribune “went out on a limb” and endorsed Baucus and Rehberg. Otherwise, I can’t find a thing. I know the Missoulian quit doing endorsements nearly a decade ago and maybe the other papers are waiting until this Sunday or something.

The Missoula Independent will be endorsing in this Thursday’s edition but not the presidential race. Indy editor Skylar Browning explained that the paper likes to focus on statewide races, ballot initiatives, PSC, etc.

Any endorsements in the Montana press that you, faithful readers, are aware of? Please let me know. BTW, the Associated Press has a list, updated regularly, of what the national papers have been doing endorsement-wise.

(UPDATE: As of Tuesday, October 28, according to Editor and Publisher, 222 newspapers have endorsed Obama and 93 newspapers have endorsed McCain. Wow. No Ron Paul, Bob Barr or Ralph Nader endorsements that I could find.)

(UPDATE #2: Great Falls Tribune Managing Editor Gary Moseman called me back. He said the Trib won’t be endorsing in the presidential race but has been actively endorsing in statewide and local races. He said that the paper quit endorsing presidential candidates in 2000, mainly because it had little influence on how people voted but pissed off (I’m paraphrasing here) a lot of people. He added that the Trib only endorses in races where reporters and editors can interview the candidates.)

Via Missoula’s Choice 2008, the University of Montana School of Journalism online publication covering both local and statewide candidates.

by Will Melton

Michele Landquist is running for Missoula County commissioner because she has “witnessed citizens walking away after participating in the public process feeling distraught, as though their concerns, opinions and ideas were being heard by not listened to.”

She says that she will listen to the people of the county and feels that her experiences as a resident of Lolo, rather than Missoula, make her better attuned to the problems facing rural Montanans. She says her experiences as a farmer and her work on watershed and land-use planning issues will be a beneficial addition to the commission.

Her victory in the Democratic primary over much better-known candidate Dennis Daneke by 42 votes caught many political observers by surprise.

Landquist rejects the notion that her victory was a surprise and says she won by using her standing and popularity in Lolo and other rural areas along with a strong grassroots campaign to springboard her to victory.

Landquist said that her main priority is creating more affordable housing and that the key is to create more jobs that pay better.

In order to create more of these jobs, Landquist would create tax incentives for companies that pay more than the living wage and offer health care and other benefits.

Landuqist said now is not the time for the county to be asking for more bonds for anything, including the new 911 call center, a $16 million issue that is on the November ballot. While she doesn’t oppose the center, she doesn’t think taxpayers should have to pay more for it. When asked how she would pay for the center, she said that without delving into county budgets it’s difficult to say how to come up with the money.

Landquist also supports county-wide recycling, increased open space, improvements to watershed management and hiring an information officer for the county.

Landquist fits in a Schweitzer-esque mold of a rural famer with populist tendencies. Despite her insistence that she isn’t a political nobody, she knows how to play the outsider, populist card: “I don’t think you should try to be this well-known name out there to be a public servant and that you shouldn’t need to have some haughty-taughty education to serve the people.”

Via Missoula’s Choice 2008, the University of Montana School of Journalism online publication covering both local and statewide candidates.

by Collin Behan

It had been almost 20 years since Larry Anderson had lived in Missoula when he passed through on a road trip to visit in-laws in Butte. He stopped to visit an old college friend, who encouraged him to apply for a job as Missoula’s city administrator. That was in 1986 and the friend was the recently elected mayor of Missoula, Bob Lovegrove.

“I knew absolutely nothing about local government, so I thought I’d give it a try,” Anderson said. He got that job, served as city administrator for four years and has remained close to Missoula and local government ever since.

Anderson is now running for reelection after being appointed a Missoula County Commissioner in 2007. He was born in Omaha, Neb., and came to the University of Montana in 1963. After graduating with a degree in forestry and range management, Anderson entered the Army and served as an executive officer of an artillery unit in Vietnam. He received a master’s degree in business administration from Oregon State University in 1975.

In 1991, Anderson and his wife Linda, his college sweetheart, opened the Eastgate Rental and Party Center. They sold the company 11 years later and Anderson went to work as a Field Representative for former Sen. Conrad Burns and, later, Rep. Denny Rehberg.

County Commissioner Barbara Evens retired in 2007 after nearly 30 years as a county commissioner and Anderson was named to replace her for the final year of her term. Anderson said he has tried to maintain Evans’ policy of allowing people to drop in to visit with commissioners.

“Her motto, and I think it’s one that I carry on, was ‘Serve all the people,’” Anderson said.

Evans was well respected by the people of Missoula and replacing her was difficult, Anderson said. At the same time, Anderson thinks he brought a fresh perspective to the commissioner’s office as a former business owner and fiscal conservative. He was familiar with the people and workings of local government from his time as city administrator and having serving one term as a Missoula city councilman for Ward 4 in 1995.

As the only Republican on the board of commissioners, Anderson said he brings a crucial balance of perspectives to the county. His experience in city, county and federal government and business can help push Missoula through the current rough economic times, Anderson said.

If elected, he would like to continue working with outlying towns like Seeley Lake, Frenchtown and Bonner on their community plans.

“I think the majority of people (in those towns) want to see those communities maintain a personality and the uniqueness that they have,” Anderson said. Commissioners respond to a diverse range of needs, goals and opinions. The county’s constituents range from people living on country roads around Seeley Lake to students living in apartments in downtown Missoula to seniors in rapidly growing towns like Lolo or Frenchtown.

Land use planning and transportation are of key importance to the future of the county and his own plans for the commissioner’s office, Anderson said. Over a billion dollars in funding requests have been made for transportation projects in the next 20 years. Less than $480 million in federal and county funding is projected during that time, he said.

“So, as an elected official I’m going to have to try to find ways to compromise and get people to set aside their personal feelings and look at the larger picture,” he said.

posted by jhwygirl

Note: I supported Michele Landquist in the primary, and I will cast my ballot for her in the general. I believe our Board of County Commissioners needs change, and someone who will question the establishment. Michele Landquist will do that. Michele has billed herself as the non-partisan candidate. I believe her when she says that, and as an affirmation of that, she has spoken to issues, not her party affiliation.

From Michele Landquist:

I have just finished reading some of the recent 4&20 blogs about my race for the BCC. All I can say is I have been very humbled by the amount of support I have. It seems like everywhere I go folks are telling me that they voted for me. Plenty of people continue to email and telephone me on particular issues of concern to them to see where I stand on issues that are important to them and then afterwards they tell me I have their support.

I have also seen Larry’s supporter list and I am very concerned because of the amount of support he has from some developers and some large land owners (who are most likely protecting their own self-serving-interests). This is only natural of course because Larry boasts that he supports private property rights.

I support private property rights too but I do not subscribe to the always mentioned highest and best use philosophy. We all have an obligation to be respectful neighbors and most especially we have the responsibility to be good stewards of this earth and in essence we are only on this planet a very short period of time. In short it is called “land ethics” and it has been in short supply for too long in Western Montana. Therefore, I believe it is imperative to know and understand the difference between our Montana constitutional rights of “clean and healthy environment” and “reasonable use” verses “highest and best use” so that our decisions will stand the test of time-leaving us with clean air, clean and abundant water, local agriculture opportunities and decent employment options-not just for the here and now but for many future generations.

by jhwygirl

Nifty little tool.

by problembear

 this week i got angry by talking over coffee with Norma who owns a beauty shop in a small town in Montana. she tells me that the small business administration turned her down for a small loan to enable her to hire two more people to help with her work load. Norma is a single parent who struggles to keep the lights on in her shop because her back is going out on her after 23 years of stooping over a stylist chair. She has enough business but she needs a small boost to hire her oldest daughter and her daughter’s friend so that she can eventually get off her feet. right now, rent for the small shop, utilities and expenses leave Norma with just enough to get by each month. But, by increasing business twofold, Norma can afford to pay two stylists and herself. Norma spent the last six months trying to meet all the deadlines for loan applications, write business plans, and countless hours on the phone with the SBA. All for nothing. Now the beauty shop is closed, building empty. clients who counted on Norma have to travel 60 miles to the next good shop. Norma is filing for SSI because she was a sole proprietor without workers comp. Her savings is running out and she now needs to visit a food bank once a month to make ends meet. Norma was a successful businesswoman who reached out to her government for less than 10,000.00 to help her maintain a business that was expected to gross 112,550.00 per year. she could have given paychecks to two people who must leave town now. three weeks ago the government gave a blank check to wall street for screwing up so badly we may never fully recover. i am angry because people are being rewarded for bad behavior while people who try their best to build america’s future are punished.

funny how there always seems to be money to lend to rich white guys, while the rest of us are laid off.

by jhwygirl

Not where you want to be in the last days of a presidential campaign.

A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.

“She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone,” said this McCain adviser. “She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.


by problembear

my friends, in these turbulent times we desperately need more comedy and one of montana’a finest comedians Greg Keeler is going to be giving a reading at 1:00 pm today at the 2008 Montana Festival of The Book. He will be reading with Tim Sandlin and Luke Warm Water in ballroom D at the downtown holiday inn. if you can’t make it visit his site troutball for some solace.

Congratulations Noah Ginnings

by jhwygirl

Today’s Missoulian brings us the story of an amazing young man who has provided inspiration for a hell of a lot of people, making an amazing amount of friends along the way.

I’ve learned along my path that there are a tremendous amount of things in life that simply aren’t fair. When I read something like that, my thoughts are reset to that which is important and all the rest.

by jhwygirl

Google and the National Writing Project has put together a website which is a collection of letters written by students to our presidential candidates. The letters are a collection of thoughts and questions regarding issues that are important to our youth – our future. Pretty neat. It’s called Writing Our Future.

On that note, remember that post from about two weeks ago regarding Nickelodeon? Well, the kids have voted, and it’s Barack Obama.

Drinking alcohol shrinks your brain.

Note: Kids don’t drink.

Republicans are just happier people.

Joe the Plumber is contemplating a run for congress. There’s already a t-shirt….

The Montana Standard’s Question of the Week is “Officials are considering a policy banning all smoking on the grounds at the Montana State Hospital at Warm Springs. Would you support this?” My first reaction was ‘Don’t those people need to smoke?’ but a friend told me she’d say “no” because we’re paying their health care bills. Then we got to wondering the same thing about the prison.

I don’t know….

Hunting season is upon us. This month’s issue of Field and Stream has an article about the dangers of lead in game meat. The article isn’t online yet. It refers to a university study – perhaps a thesis project? But I found one in the Idaho Statesman. Actually – there’s a lot out there on it. Anyways, some food (or not) for thought.

by Pete Talbot

Check out this superbly produced video on voter suppression here in Missoula. Hat tip to Missoula Red Tape.

Friday Funny

by jhwygirl

Seriously? This is just plain funny.

OK….this one, as Lizard said, is ALSO just plain funny….

by Pete Talbot

I hate polls

“Charles Franklin, a University of Wisconsin political science professor and polling authority, said variation between polls occurs, in part, because pollsters interview random samples of people.”

That quote comes from an Associated Press story and poll that has McCain and Obama basically tied. But talk about “random,” the story continues with these stats:

Obama and McCain were essentially tied among likely voters in the latest George Washington University Battleground Poll, conducted by Republican strategist Ed Goeas and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. In other surveys focusing on likely voters, a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Obama up by 9 percentage points, while a poll by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center had Obama leading by 14. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, among the broader category of people registered to vote, found Obama ahead by 10 points.

That’s a 14 point spread. I think I’ll wait for Jimmy the Greek to give odds before really believing any of the numbers I’ve seen.

UPDATE: Latest MSU-Billings poll has Obama at 44% and McCain at 40% IN MONTANA! There’s a 5% margin of error, but still … maybe I’ll forego my cynicism about polls for the evening.

Bait and switch

The Missoula Independent had an interesting piece on the Ravalli Republic. Apparently, Ravalli County Democrats contracted with the paper to put those little sticky ads on the Republic that you see from time-to-time on the front page of many newspapers. These pro-Democrat ads riled up a herd of Ravalli County Republicans, who threatened to cancel their subscriptions. The Republic then moved the stickers to the inside of the paper. The publisher claimed this wasn’t done to placate Republicans but because of a corporate rule that says political ads can’t appear on front pages. Funny thing is, I remember getting my daily dead-tree edition delivered to me in a plastic bag with “Vote for Conrad Burns” printed on it about two days before the 2006 election. So, bags are OK but stickers aren’t?

Here’s hoping nice guys finish last

I’ve heard there are a few “Democrats” out there pushing County Commissioner Larry Anderson’s election bid. The Republican incumbent is running against Michele Landquist for the six-year position. Incumbent is a little misleading, though, as Anderson wasn’t elected to the seat but anointed by retiring Republican Commissioner Barbara Evans.

These folks are endorsing Larry for different reasons but the recurrent theme is, “he’s a nice guy.” That may well be but I want more than a “nice guy” as our third commissioner. I want someone who will be innovative and progressive. Considering Larry served on the staffs of both Rep. Denny Rehberg and Sen. Conrad Burns, I’m guessing he’s neither. And I remember his tenure on city council as being a conservative obstructionist, to say the least.


by problembear

as the recession advances into fall,  food banks accross America are struggling to find enough food to provide emergency relief to increasing crowds of clients. NPR covered this tonight on All Things Considered. as unemployment increases it will only get worse. wherever you live- do what you can.

ways to help:

donate food

if you can afford it, write a check even if it is only $ 5.00 and send it to your local food bank.

if you can donate time- volunteer. even two hours a month will enrich your life.

not sure where to help? this link will help you.

by jhwygirl

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has stepped in to put a halt to the golden parachute bonuses and other compensation by AIG to its executives and former executives. He has also hinted that he might take steps to recover payments that have already been made once they received federal bailout monies.

Paulson refused to do this. Our Congress added weak clauses that made it look like those executives won’t be getting cash, but in actuality, any payouts would be reviewed by Paulson and his cronies – most of which are former Goldman Sachs employees who had already cashed in those bonus checks (including Paulson himself, who make $18 million in bonuses in just 6 months in 2006!)

Cuomo said “Once a company accepts tax dollars, there are different rules. These are taxpayers who did not voluntarily make an investment in these companies. In many ways it was a forced investment.”

Good to know someone is out there looking out for our taxpayer dollars.

Thank you Andrew Cuomo.

by jhwygirl

Certainly regular readers will remember my outrage here last year regarding the bison slaughter in Montana, outside of Yellowstone National Park, all in the the name of managing brucellosis. There are 9 previous posts, which you can get to by simply putting “brucellosis” in the little nifty search we’ve got over there on the right.

An environmental impact statement (EIS) – the highest level of NEPA review – was issued by the USFS in July by Bridger-Teton National Forest Supervisor Kniffy Hamilton sanctioning, for 20 more years, elk feedgrounds within said National Forest. At the time, the Good Governor Schweitzer fired off a letter criticizing the decision, saying “Montana had done everything in its power to prevent the transmission of brucellosis to its cattle herd. Meanwhile, USDA has insisted upon application of antiquated herd-to-herd regulations for disease transmission in cattle that have nothing to do with transmission from wildlife. As a result, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming at best continue to experience a yo-yo effect with respect to brucellosis status. At worst, the net effect is a permanent loss of status.”

There were, apparently, two appeals to Hamilton’s decision – and in a news brief from Jackson Hole Radio’s Tom Ninnemann gives us the news that Schweitzer was one of the appellants to the EIS. From October 21st:

The Forest Service announced Friday its decision to uphold authorization of National Forest Land to be used for winter elk management activities by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission. Regional Forester Harv Forsgren upheld the decision made by Kniffy Hamilton, Bridger-Teton Forest Supervisor, after reviewing two appeals received on the issue. Among those speaking out against the activities was Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. The Forest Service decision is to issue a 20 year special use authorization at five of the seven locations. The decision did not include two of the feedground areas because further information is required. Supplemental feeding of elk has been conducted in northwestern Wyoming since the early 1900s.

Finally, some good common sense is prevailing in the issue.

Schweitzer addressed the issue during the Butte gubernatorial debate last month, with what the Montana Standard described as part of some spirited verbal jollys. (It was a good debate, btw – and the Montana Standards has the debate broken down to 3 audio files, the first which includes Brown’s answer to the brucellosis question, and the second, which includes Schweitzer’s thorough and knowledgeable answer.)

While Brown took to criticizing Schweitzer for his support of the split-state status, Schweizer “jollied” back that he understood “science” and that the science supports evidence that brucellosis is coming from elk, not bison, and that having the entire state’s cattle industry suffer because of it wasn’t reasonable. He went on to say that the previously approved joint-agency bison management plan was outdated given the science and current evidence.

Bravo, Governor Schweitzer.

Brown kinda stood there, obviously uneducated beyond talking points which he fumbled through (“hmmm, let’s see, where is it?” – which drew some laughter – “oh – yes, ‘segregate and slaughter’ policy.”) Even more perplexing is that after fumbling through his criticism of the “segregate and slaughter” comment, he went on to champion the two Department of Livestock members who quit because of their support of the “segregate and slaughter” policy. I mean – does Brown even understand what is going on? All it takes is some newspapers…..perhaps the use of any one of the state’s great newspaper’s search engines?

Schweitzer’s work on this issue began when he first took office 4 years ago – and the split-state status has taken hold with the federal government, who are crafting a new plan which will recognize that brucellosis is found in and around the park, and allow cattle ranchers outside of the “hot zone” to be spared the additional expenses of testing and vaccination. This link, here, will take you to the Department of Livestock’s webpage on the new Draft Brucellosis Action Plan. Comment period, btw, has been extended to November 1st, due to high public interest.

In other developments, the state is forming a 7-member brucellosis task force, which is to include 5 citizens, including two ranchers and one rancher/outfitter, along with 2 “wildlife enthusiast, sportsman or conservationists.”

I give the Governor a big kudos for keeping this issue moving along since the massive slaughter and the discovery of the state’s 2nd case of brucellosis, which resulted in the loss of our brucellosis-free classification by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He’s openly been critical of a key cause to brucellosis – Wyoming’s elk feedgrounds. That took some political mustering. All in all, there’s been a tremendous amount of work done since June….and hopefully it will have an impact this upcoming winter.

I want to mention here that The Missoula Independent’s Patrick Klemz did a fine piece on the brucellosis issue back in September, even daring to put the picture of an elk on the cover, along with the word “brucellosis” – something few media outlets, whether radio, television or print, have been pretty darn shy about doing. It stands as another fine example of The Indy’s fine, thorough and, well, independent report style.

by Jay Stevens

Whoo-whee! You just can’t make this stuff up!

A 61-year-old Silver Bow County woman got into a tussle with an aggressive deer after it attacked one of her poodles.

Carol Lince says it happened Monday at her home about 35 miles southeast of Butte.

She says she let her three poodles outside, and then heard one “screaming bloody murder.”

She went outside and saw a doe attacking the smallest dog.

Lince kicked at the deer’s hind legs to try to get the animal off her dog.

She says the doe rammed her with its head and pushed her into her fence. Lince started walloping the deer’s head with her fists until it eventually jumped her fence and ran off.

Lince says she sustained bruises where the deer rammed its head into her abdomen.

The dog was pronounced OK by a veterinarian.

by jhwygirl

As reported by Missoulian reporter Chelsie Moy.

Later hours (until 7 p.m.) begin today, and even one Saturday, with hours of 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. this upcoming Saturday.

Early voting is returning some crazy numbers, with nearly 1/3 of all currently registered voters having cast their ballots. That is just amazing.

Makes me want to cast my ballot early. I might have done that once…for me, there is something ‘community’ about heading down to the polls and casting that ballot. It’s also a bit of a chore to do it early. For myself, I won’t trust it to the USPS, so I have to hand-deliver my ballot. With the longer hours, I might just have to head on down to the courthouse and help make what is certainly going to be a long night for the county’s election officers that much easier.

by jhwygirl

I don’t know – this one kinda leaves me scratching my head.

If you see a green camouflaged Humvee driving around – this one has a green canvas top – give local law enforcement a call, will ya?

Seriously – Halliburton hasn’t stolen enough of the taxpayer’s money? If this one was armored up, it’s worth about $150,000.

by Pete Talbot

Stang out

Judy Stang (S.D. 7) is ending her write-in bid and throwing her support behind the Democratic candidate, Paul Clark. This is good news. Ms. Stang lost a tight primary race to Mr. Clark and then filed as a write in. She has since withdrawn her write-in campaign, which had the potential to peel away votes from Clark and help elect far-right Republican Greg Hinkle. Thanks, Judy. (Curse you, jhwygirl, you scooped me by 18 minutes.)

Pink eye

Driving across the state last weekend, I was assaulted, time-after-time, by huge, pink apparitions. Turned out they were Elaine Sollie Herman (Republican candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction) billboards. I’ve got to admit, they’re eye catching (in a Mary Kay sort of way) and she has a lot of them up. I’m not sure it will be enough to defeat Democrat Denise Juneau in this three-way race. Juneau has campaigned hard across the state and done well at fund raising, too.

Hightower in Helena

If you’ve never seen author, radio personailty and the former Texas Agriculture Commissioner in the flesh, it would be worth your while to head over to the Capital City this Friday evening. Jim Hightower (billed on his website as “America’s #1 Populist”) will be speaking at 7:30 p.m. on October 24 in the Oriental Room at the Great Northern Hotel (which is a little bit north of Last Chance Gulch). I saw him twice in Missoula in the 1990’s. He’s witty and thoughtful, and will speak to “what can be done to put things right in America after eight years of Bush.” The event is sponsored by the Progressive Democrats of Montana and it will cost you $20 at the door.

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