Archive for January, 2009


by problembear

maybe some of you experts and detail oriented eggheads can chime in on this open thread. i promise i won’t butt in today and share more of my ignorance….but just some thoughts that have been rattling around in my bear brain (it is great to be a dumb bear because i am too stupid to be afraid of any idea that occurs to me) ….instead of spending another  trillion bucks on a countrywide stimulus why don’t we…

dumb bearQ#1-why doesn’t congress rescind all the tax penalties for using retirement accounts to pay off our homes, credit cards, vehicles etc????.seems like that would be a much quicker way to get the economy rolling again, and it would put lots more money into circulation on the local level…

dumb bear Q#2. what with paying bills online and electronic check deposits it seems like mail snails don’t have anything worthwhile to pack around in those mail bags to residential customers anymore. 99.67% of the mail i receive at home is just junk mail and periodicals. Now i realize businesses still use the USPS to bill customers and receive payment but couldn’t UPS or Fedex do that more efficiently for the few customers who cannot get bills online? How much would it save to just shut the USPS down? it seems like a part of government that just doesn’t work anymore.

dumb bear Q#3.  if we closed down the USPS couldn’t we take some of that money we are wasting to deliver junk mail all over the country to convert the post office buildings into something worthwhile- like free wellness health clinics? or homeless shelters? or…?

I am declaring myself blocked from this thread…discuss…

by jhwygirl

I’m shameless pimping this blog and this post. Don’t like it, well, that’s life, isn’t it? It’s not like the Steelers don’t get to the Superbowl every year.

Only like every other year.

Getting back to the “don’t like it,” – Please consider this an open thread.

That means: Add your own stuff. And Big Swede? Spare us the Hannity/Rush porn, OK?

First we got this talented group of youngsters outta – appropriately I might add – Harmony, PA:

That 12-year old Courtney, once she gets going, can really belt it out.

A big THANKS to Chris LaTray on that one.

No Steeler fan can get excited about a Superbowl without thinking of their 12th man, famed sportscaster Myron Cope. You just know he’s up above, twirling that towel for the team. Cope was a class act – read about just one small aspect of this saint of a man in this recent New York Times article.myron-cope

President Obama picks…..oh, yeah…who else? THE STEELERS!

Some interesting picks here, towards the end.

Defense wins championships.

If 5 reasons weren’t enough, How’s about 10?

I had friends in college who ran books. The straight game bets were bor- ring…so amongst ourselves we used to do stuff like this. Funny.

On the number of “Big Ben” references from Michaels and Madden during the game? That’s over 7 1/2, easy!

OK…I’ll digress for just one – only because I saw it in a Pittsburgh paper – Complaints mount over city snow removal.

Discuss. I’m away for the day, so be nice. It’s not an “you’re either with us or you’re against us” world.

Unless you’re a Cardinals fan.



by problembear

because it’s about time.

by jhwygirl

I got a call from a friend in Kallispell, who’s mother lives here, who told her that Dillard’s is closing, and that Kohl’s is going in its place. My friend in Kallispell has a connection to Kohl’s, and she knows that they are delaying their new Kallispell store for at least a year.

Now, over the last couple months, this blog has had a number of searches (we have a stats summary page which includes incoming searches – and yes, don’t worry folks, we also have no way of tracking back to figure out who you all are) for “dillards closing missoula”. Now, I did a post a while back listing businesses that had stores closing, and it came from a news story that mentioned a number of Dillard’s closing after the holidays. So I thought those searches were merely hitting here because this is a blog that mentions Missoula a whole hell of a lot.

So – anyone else hear this? I know Dillard’s was pretty dead as a doornail in terms of Christmas traffic – at least every time I went driving by.

At least – if what I’ve heard is correct – something else is coming in its place. Perhaps they end up hiring most of the Dillard’s people?


by problembear

 rush and the extreme right wing lunatic fringe of the republican party have wasted no time in showing the american public that they don’t give a rat’s ass about america. they oppose every solution that obama proposes and then they duck behind a fence like cowards when the bail-out is voted on and passed by the democratic majority. that shows real leadership doesn’t it?

i do give rush some points for at least being honest about putting his career ahead of america’s future by declaring that he hopes america fails…but as an american who is willing to pitch in and help , i declare him and the rest of the extreme right wing conservatives lazycowards for standing on the sidelines and booing those of us, like obama who haven’t thrown in the towel. but as one football coach once told us….if you don’t have your heart in this game…if you aren’t willing to give your all to win…then you and your so-called bullshit talent can just sit on the bench and watch the rest of us do it for you…

Holy Moly

by jhwygirl


by jhwygirl

Today was the Senate Business, Labor & Economic Affairs committee hearing for SB254, and SB253, which would allow an employer tip credit against the minimum wage, both proposed by Sen. Donald J Steinbeisser.

SB254 would eliminate increases to minimum wage based on the cost of living index (normally around 2.5 to 3 percent per year), freezing it at the current $6.90 per hour. SB253 would allow employers a tip exemption for the hourly wage, allowing them to deduct tips from the hourly wage to an amount of the current $6.90 per hour.

Tipped employees wages would freeze at $6.90 an hour providing their tips made up any increases in minimum wage.

Adding further mess to Steinbeisser’s two proposed bills, in SB253, the minimum wage would be indexed to inflation. It just “sticks it” to tipped wage earners.

Montana is one of the few states that does not allow a tip credit – but I’ll also point out that Montana ranks at the bottom of the list of state’s in terms of median income.

Montana’s minimum wage was increased by inflation because of overwhelming support for Initiative 151. That initiative passed with a vote of 285,535 to 107,294. Sen. Donald J Steinbeisser wants to reverse that.

How’s them’s bananas?

SB254 was blogged about here. Please note that there was no executive action (i.e., vote) taken today, and it is not too late to contact the committee members, letting them know how you would like them to vote. Contact information is in that post.

But who was there to testify in favor of the tip credit SB253? Restaurant lobbyists and owners were apparently there in force: Brad Griffin of the Montana Restaurant Association; Blu Funk of Restaurant Showtime in Big Fork and Chairman of the Montana Restaurant Associaton; Jon Bennion of the Montana Chamber of Commerce; Hu Hot’s owner Linda Vap from Missoula, who owns 3 Hu Hot’s; Casey Ryan, owner of Famous Dave’s and Applebee’s in both Missoula and Bozeman; Rob Smith, of Outback Steakhouse’s; Bob Miller of the Bearclaw Bar & Grill in Mcallister. In general, restaurant owners testified that they can not meet these increases in wages – that tipped employees were taking home more in tips than their managers make, in amounts of more than $1,300 a month in the rural towns in central Montana, at places like Eddie’s Corner, a truck stop.

Opponent Keith Kelly, Commissioner of the Montana Department of Labor & Industry testified that this bill would apply to a huge swath of positions – not just waiters and waitresses – people like taxi drivers, hotel staff, and barbers and beauticians. He noted that while the committee had heard from restaurateurs that faced rising costs, but he questioned by the increase in costs to the employee weren’t being focused on – that the employees faced increase costs in gas and groceries and every day costs. That it is these people, in the lowest wage scales, that spend their money in the market – so cutting wages is contradictory to trying to help the economy. “It spirals the economy down quicker,” he said. Kelly questioned why people who leave tips should be leaving tips to help an employer meet minimum wage. Isn’t that the obligation of the employer? Kelly noted that few people make 20% tips, from surveys that they have conducted.

{{applause for Keith Kelly, please}}

Testimony for SB254 went essentially the same way with the same people.

All in all, I have to say, I don’t buy it. Cutting wages and holding back on wage increases simply is the wrong way to go in this economy. Virtually all economists agree with that. In congress, right now, they are working very hard – people like Senators Baucus and Tester – to get money back into the hands of regular people on Main Street.

by jhwygirl

Only 75 hearings between Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, folks! /snark

First off, on Thursday the House Fish, Wildlife & Parks committee will hear HB253, the Wild Buffalo Recovery and Conservation Act, propose by Rep. Mike Phillips and Rep. Ted Washburn, both of Bozeman.

Please take the time to read this post and contact the committee members, whether by email or phone call. Contact information is in that post.

Also on Thursday – Sen. Christine Kaufman has HB259 which would institute a state earned income credit equal to the federal earned income credit. Me likes. This is in Senate Taxation – Lee Heiman the staffer

On Friday: Can you believe we’ve got a law that forbids liquor stores from being adjacent to grocery stores? What if the liquor store was there first? Lord, the ridiculous laws we’ve got…Rep. Cheryl Steenson has HB352 that would change that. In House Business & Labor, Bart Campbell the staffer,

Rep. Michele Reinhart has HB279 that would prohibit MDOT from recovering indirect costs from local governments for certain programs financed by federal funds through MDOT. Local goverments think this one is important, folks – and so should you as a taxpayer. Why should MDOT charge local governments for services that they get from federal programs? Ludicrous. This one in House Transportation – Rachel Weiss the staffer,

Rep. Edie McClaferty is looking for funding for Head Start in HB369. This bill would provide for administrative oversight of state supplemental funding. Its in House Education, Jeremy Gersovitz the staffer,

Rep. Chuck Hunter has sponsored HB280 which would provide limited funding to nonfederally funded community health centers. This one is in House Appropriations, Jon Moe the staffer,

In the Senate on Friday we’ve got SB180 proposed by Sen. Ron Erickson. It established emission standards for vehicles. Now – consider that California is the 5th largest economy in the world and they have emission standards, and you’ll see that setting these would have no effect on the cost of vehicles. Let’s hope it can get some support, hint, hint. It’s in House Natural Resources, Joe Kolman the staffer

There you go folks…there’s plenty more, check it out. Write a letter, send an email – make a call. It’s your government.


by jhwygirl

You remember? The one that student project coordinator Christina came by to defend? Don’t miss the comments on that one….

There’s also this post and this post – that last one, too, with lots of comments.

Or, you could check out Binky’s post at Bunk the West.

The thing is – if DECA or its teacher/advisor Mark Hartman really wanted to teach these kids a lesson of how it happens in the real world – how business leaders really have to do business, Mr. Hartman and friends would submit themselves to the real world review process like any other (instead of hiding behind state law) and see how it flies.

I mean – their going through this forum without having to meet any of the criteria of the real world variance standards. Namely – as goof pointed out – a hardship.

There’s no lesson being learned here. No business lesson, no leadership lesson, no civics lesson. Unless it’s that of an AIG banker.

Yeah – maybe that’s it. How to behave badly and get a bailout!

Shame on them. Really. This isn’t good leadership – by Hartman or those students – not good leadership by the school district or the school board – and not good citizenship and community on any of those people’s part.

Meeting is 7 p.m., at City Hall.

by jhwygirl

On Thursday, January 29, the House Fish, Wildlife & Parks committee will hear HB253, the Wild Buffalo Recovery and Conservation Act, propose by Rep. Mike Phillips and Rep. Ted Washburn, both of Bozeman.

The House FWP committee meets at 3 p.m.

HB253 is a bipartisan bill which would essentially transfer management of bison from the Department of Livestock, where their method of slaughter-slaughter-slaughter has been both an embarrassment and a colosal failure, to Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and into the hands of wildlife professionals.

I have blogged about brucellosis and the horrible failings of the Department of Livestock (‘encouraged’ by the Montana Stockgrower’s Association) many times. Montana has lost its brucellosis-free status under the tutelage of the misguided management of bison by the DOI. It took two cases of brucellosis in the space of 2 years for Montana to lose its brucellosis-free status. Both cases of brucellosis were the result of transmission by elk to domesticated cattle.

Now, it’s been ludicrous to suggest that bison are a problem. The fact is that the only known cases of transmission of brucellosis to domesticated animals – be it cattle or horses – have come from elk. In the 12 years or more that I’ve been following this issue, I’ve yet to hear of bison being the cause of such transmission, yet while elk roam freely, bison are slaughtered in the name of “management.”

There are 3 goals to HB253:

1.Restore buffalo as “valued, native wildlife in the state of Montana.”

2.Restore Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ authority for management of wild bison including fair chase, public hunting

3.Ensure private property rights and livestock are protected, by maintaining cooperation with the Department of Livestock at MCA 81-2-121.

Bison are part of western heritage – and part of Montana’s heritage. We do our state a great service – and the nation – by recognizing this. Property rights must be protected. That means everyone’s – cattlegrowers – around the state.

Please take the time to contact the members of the House FWP committee, including chairman Kendall Van Dyke. Let them know that brucellosis management must both realistic and solution oriented; that bison are a valuable part of Montana and the west’s heritage, and that proper management can be an asset to all interested parties. This year-to-year slaughter endangers the genetic diversity of America’s largest, genetically pure and truly wild buffalo herd. It has to stop.

Kendall Van Dyk (Chair) –
Gordon Hendrick (Vice Chair) –
Dave McAlpin (Vice Chair) –
Dick Barrett =
Paul Beck – no email listed
Joel Boniek – no email listed
Frosty Boss
Mike Miller – no email listed
Jesse O’Hara – no email listed
Jeffrey Welborn – no email listed.

Doug Sternberg is the staffer – please copy him on any correspondence – his email is

You can also call. Call the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800 to leave a message for as many as five legislators or one legislative committee per call. Your message will be delivered directly to the legislators. The TTY (Telephone Device for the Deaf) number is 406-444-4462.

The Session Information Desk is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

You can also use the online message form.

Remember – this hearing is Thursday. Let these committee members know that sane bison management and a reasonable brucellosis management plan can be accomplished. Together and mutually.

Montana Netroots is Back!

by jhwygirl

Shane’s put the notice out – Montana Netroots is back!

MontanaNetroots is a collaborative blog – and has a new format which allows anyone to sign up and get an account and post diaries. Should be great stuff, as it always was – a mix of left and right.

So get over there, people, and start posting. Expect some of the old-timers to show up, too.

And Shane? Glad to have you back.

by jhwygirl

Note: There’s some problem with the House floor audio from today, folks. I’m sure the legislative staff will get that corrected. It’s a long day and those people are kicking ass doing a tremendous job.

First off – a Happy 29th Birthday to Rep. JP Pomnichowski, of Bozeman! The entire House sang a rousing Happy Birthday to her song. It was quite nice, actually.

While there were several bills on the agendas, for both 2nd and 3rd readings, there were two that were of interest (for me, at least.) In the House there was the 2nd reading is HB190, the bridge access bill.

In the Senate there was the 3rd reading of SB131, which would require the DNRC to produce a map of the wildland urban interface.

Both of these hearings began at 1 p.m. Unfortunately, I am only one person – and can only listen to one hearing at a time. I switched between channels until it it fell upon the House to start on HB190 first. By the sounds of it, I’m glad I listened.

This bill, if you all recall, was originally one of two dueling bridge access bills, with Rep. Ken Peterson’s HB26.

Now, Rep. Peterson apparently failed that part in kindergarten where you are supposed to play nice with others. Or perhaps he never played teams sports. Because the guy apparently has a real problem with accepting loss. He introduced an amendment to HB190 on the floor – basically his failed HB26 – much to what was apparently not only the chagrin of Rep. Van Dyke, sponsor of HB190, but what was quite apparently to the disdain of the Speaker and a couple of colleagues on his “side of the aisle.”

You can listen to the debate here, and starting at approximately 1:30 the floor discussion begins after Rep. Van Dyke’s presentation. Peterson introduces his amendment, the chair waves reading, and Peterson begins a long rambling of what his amendment is about. I listed to it and I was left wondering what he was talking about – are all bitter legislators like this, I was wondering? The Speaker cuts Peterson off, telling him he was out of time- and then Rep. Mike Milburn gains the floor and quickly states – showing no patience for Peterson’s antics – that he is opposing the bill.

OK…I’m not crazy, I thought.

Then Rep. Ron Stoker gains the floor and asks Peterson to explain exactly what he is proposing.

Clearly, Peterson wasn’t getting the message.

And you probably think these hearings are boring?

It went on for quite a while. Rep. Kendall Van Dyke clearly, also, has tremendous patience.

So stars for the day for Milburn, Stoker and Van Dyke.

Ultimately, HB190 passed 95-5. It’s now been referred to House Appropriations.

Moving on…

SB131 survived its 3rd reading in the Senate, with a 29 – 21 vote. It now moves to the House.

3rd readings are without debate…so not much to listen to there.

Anyways…there you go. If you think hearings are boring, go check out that House floor session. It isn’t the House of Commons, but it isn’t church either.

by jhwygirl

2006’s Initiative 151 raised Montana’s minimum wage and tied its increases, annually, to inflation.

Donald J Steinbeisser, of Sidney, has proposed SB254 that would remove the inflation indexing and stall minimum wage at $6.90 an hour.

I am shocked that a legislator would be working to subvert the will of the voters. I-151 passed with a huge majority – 285,535 to 107,294.

Also proposed by Steinbeisser – a real friend to the working guy, I have to say /snark – is SB253, which would allow an employer tip credit against the minimum wage.

This one is horrible in that it doesn’t even state a minimum of how low that wage would go.

Both of these are in Senate Business, Labor & Economic Affairs, on Wednesday. University kids working at minimum wage? Motivate here – tell your friends. Pat Murdo is the staffer for the committee, If sending comment, be sure to mention the bill by number and to note that you are submitting public comment.

Here is a list of committee members:

Balyeat, Joe (Ch)
Jackson, Verdell (V Ch)
Barkus, Gregory
Brown, Roy
Keane, Jim
Peterson, Jim
Squires, Carolyn
Steinbeisser, Donald
Stewart-Peregoy, Sharon
Tropila, Joseph
Windy Boy, Jonathan

You can find information on how to contact these legislators directly HERE.

by jhwygirl

Late Sunday evening.

From Bloomberg.

From Reuters.

Then there’s this, with links for the documents, but you gotta subscribe.

by jhwygirl

The House meets at 1 p.m. Scheduled for 2nd reading is HB190, the bridge access bill.

This is where things can really turn political, folk. HB190 must pass 2 more readings to move to the senate. I and many others will be watching this vote carefully. Now is the time to contact your representative – regardless of where you are in the state – and let them know that you want him to ensure consistent public access to Montana’s waterways from county bridges around the state. Do NOT let HB190 go the way of previous public bridge access legislation.

For more on HB190, check out these posts. If you don’t know who your legislator is, check out Project Vote Smart, then head here to find their contact information.

You can also call the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800 to leave a message for as many as five legislators or one legislative committee per call. Your message will be delivered directly to the legislators. The TTY (Telephone Device for the Deaf) number is 406-444-4462.

The Session Information Desk is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 8 a.m. to adjournment on Saturdays.

The Senate meets at 1 p.m. also. Of note there is SB131, which would require the DNRC to produce a map of the wildland urban interface, one that counties would use to help develop subdivision and land use regulations. It’s controversial, to say the least, but has survived a 2nd reading with a vote of 28-20. The Missoulian, in fact, has a story on the legislation.

This bill must survive a 3rd reading to be moved to the House. This is – if you care about this stuff – another action item. With a 28-20 vote, it wouldn’t take many votes to pluck this one off the pages.

Who voted against it? For some of these people, you really gotta wonder:

In Kalispell and Bozeman – areas smack dab in the middle of timber –
Joe Balyeat of Bozeman
Gary Perry, of Manhattan
Greg Barkus of Kalispell
Bruce Tutvedt of Kalispell
Verdell Jackson, of Kalispell
Aubyn Curtiss, of Fortine

Jim Shockley, of Victor? Really?

Or Debbie Barret of Dillon?

Out in the Great Falls area, where they had a big a** fire (the Ahorn Fire) in 2007, that went all summer long, there is Jerry Black of Shelby, Greg Hinkle, of Great Falls and Rick Ripley, of Wolf Creek

Billings? Haven’t they seen their share of sweeping fast moving fires in the area? One’s that cost the taxpayers 10’s of millions? Former gubernatorial candidate Roy Brown voted against this.
So did John Esp, of Big Timber, Bob Story, of Park City, Dan McGee, of Laurel, Taylor Brown of Huntley, and Kelly Gebhardta, of Roundup.

Maybe those legislators out there in the Billings area want to be able to develop however they want to and then let the taxpayers pick up the tab on their fast moving wind driven grassland fires….

Which, speaking of grasslands, here is the rest of the bunch:
Keith Bales of Otter
John Brenden of Scobey
Jim Peterson, of Buffalo

It’s do or die, folks for SB131. Call that phone number, above, and send a message to these legislators, tell them that you are watching their vote and that you don’t want to have your taxdollars to be spent defending more homes built out in the wildland urban interface that lack any land regulations.

This isn’t anti-development or anti-property rights legislation as opponents argue. It tells us that development needs to be done in such a way that it isn’t unnecessarily burdening the taxpayers at large – I mean – why would taxpayers in Scobey be OK with paying state taxes, significant amounts of which are thrown into fighting fires in Kalispell and Missoula and Victor? Don’t they need “stuff” up there? Wouldn’t taxpayer money be better spend preventing and mitigating wildland fires?

Go figure.

by jhwygirl

Another piece of proposed legislation that has received a lot of attention is SB212, proposed by Senator Verdell Jackson. It sits in the senate judiciary committee having had its hearing last Tuesday. It was well attended.

This, too, the chair of the judiciary committee gave indication that he would like to bring to a vote sometime this week. The committee meets every day, at 9 a.m., in room 303.

You can listen the testimony by going here to download it. You must have RealPlayer.

There’s some additional information in this previous post.

Again – in order to survive, it must pass this committee vote. If you care about this bill, it is crucial to contact the committee and let them know your thoughts. See this post for a list committee members, along with contact information.

by jhwygirl

Several items, while having had their hearings, have been awaiting executive action – i.e., the committee vote. Some of these are pretty important (I’d guess) to 4&20 readers.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has given indication, on Friday, that it would bring to committee vote SB223, the hate crimes legislation proposed by Sen. Carol Juneau, of Browning. It would revise hate crime laws to include enhanced penalties for harassment and crimes based on sexual orientation, gender and gender expression and disability.

The committee meets every day, at 9 a.m., in room 303.

You can listen to that hearing here. You’ll need to have RealAudio. Simply download the January 22nd meeting. The hearing on SB223 starts at 1:00:00. Proponents begin at 1:13:00, and opponents begin at 2:09:00.

Many opponents to this legislation spoke to how enacting it would impede upon their rightful expression of religion.

This committee vote is crucial. Members of the senate judiciary committee need to hear from you.
Gary Perry, Chair –
Jim Shockley, Vice-Chair – no email listed
Greg Hinkle – no email listed
Cliff Larsen – no email listed
Dan McGee – no email listed

Valencia Lane the staffer for this committee – Please copy her with any comments that you send.


by problembear

last time i lived out here milltown market was finky’s foods and diamond dave tended bar at harold’s club and presided over the local royal order of squid as their grand poo-bah…

the mill was in full swing with champion’s parking lot nearly crammed with every conceivable pickup truck and battleship sedan you could imagine. reagan was in his second term and things were pretty ok for a little forgotten town on the outskirts of missoula….

the hellgate winds are settling down to a mild frosty lash accross the face today as i pull into the gravel parking lot of harold’s club. i notice for sale signs on several rigs parked in front. a soft tail harley with low miles, toyota 4×4 with high miles and lots of hard stops, a pontiac sedan circa late 80’s for 450.00 or best offer…

the mayor of milltown is hunched over his cup of mid-day morning coffee at the bar..”never touch booz ’til 5″ he booms when he sees me come in.         i order a glass of bud and we settle into chairs arrayed around a round table which appears to have been made out of an old sign. it says:

Harold’s Club

we cheat the other guy and pass the savings on to you.

downtown Milltown MT

walter (not real name) is retired at 66 years old but he appears to look much younger. married to shirley (also not her real name) she is talking with the bartender while we conduct the press conference as they call it. Walter has a lot more color left in his greying beard than mine. he is a busy man so we get right to it:

  • Q. what do you think of the new president so far?   
  • A. dunno, wait and see what happens, i guess. i voted for mccain but shirley voted for obama. he’s ok so far.
  • Q. your office is by proclamation rather than by vote i gather?
  • A. every so often somebody gets the title of mayor of milltown. don’t really know how it happens.
  • Q. do you realize that mayor john engen is extremely jealous of your position as mayor of milltown?
  • A. laughs. i’ve heard that.
  • Q. seriously, how is the economy going for milltown?
  • A. bad. but we’re kind of used to bad around here. ever since champion closed down in ’93 it has only gotten worse. but we stack firewood. freeze game and berries, help each other out. we get by somehow.
  • Q. what do you feel about obama’s chances to turn things around?
  • A. don’t put much stock in politicians myself. look. i was a cat-skinner for a road construction outfit in juneau alaska back in the sixties. i was right near the bay the day the tidal wave hit after the eathquake. it feels like that. i was sitting in a crummy waiting for the other guys to park their rigs when i looked down and saw the water recede a couple of feet from the shoreline in just a couple of seconds time. i remember saying uh-oh…we started that crummy and drove up that mountainside so fast we broke some springs…watched the wave just wash all our bull-dozers and buckets out to sea. it was something to watch. that is what it looks like to me right now. kind of hopeful but the water just receded a little so waiting for the other shoe to drop.
  • Q. so lots more unemployment in store for montana?
  • A. kids around here have the survival skills of their parents so we’ll get by but yeah- hell yes. it is going to shock people when they see how many jobs we’re going to lose in the next several months.
  • Q. how are your kids doing?
  • A. Eric is married to a great woman who has a good job at the university with benefits and eric’s job at albertsons looks ok for now. David is a welder. divorced with two kids to support so he is getting worried. i suppose all the kids are on edge right now, though.

at mention of the kids shirley sidles up to the table. her eyes twinkle at the mention of the grandkids. she shows me photos.

  • Q. when did you move here to milltown?
  • A. right after the alaska earthquake. met shirley in ’66 while i was bumming around the woods catskinning. we met at a dance right here in Harold’s Club. used to have really nice bands here. she made an honest man out of me so i settled down and the mill hired me on and worked there for 32 years. retired in 96.
  • Q. how did they treat you?
  • A. champion was ok but stimson sure stuck it to us every way and in every opening they could find…then they left a mess here…
  • Q. any hope for some new beginnings here with the cleanup and the dam removal?
  • A. at first, i was against the dam removal but shirley eventually talked me into the good sides. the boys are excited about the whitewater park the state is building so yeah, i guess so. sure. it’s good to see folks save our bridge between west riverside and milltown. there used to be talk about a huge shopping center and lots of new houses which i wasn’t too crazy about. in some ways the economy might just slow things down enough to let us have something nice here.
  • Q. there is a special meeting this week called a roundtable put on by the Bonner/Milltown Community Council at Bonner school Wednesday night at 7:00pm. are you going?
  • A. sure we always go to local stuff if for nothing else but to get a chance to BS with the neighbors and catch up on the gossip.
  • Q how do you feel about the council’s job so far?
  • A. i think there have been some missteps for sure like not allowing the public to speak last spring but that is ironed out so i guess they are doing the best they can.
  • Q. well walter i sense that you need to get back to your shop welding that part on your snowplow blade so just one last question; are you hopeful about america’s future.
  • A. hell, yes.


empty parking lot of the bonner-stimson mill closed down permanently last may… 

by problembear


by jhwygirl

109 meetings from Monday through Wednesday, folks.

Monday: The previous hearing was canceled for HB202, proposed by Rep. Mike Miller. It would grant an income tax credit for long-term care insurance. Blogged about here, with contact info. Hearing is Monday in House Taxation.

In House Appropriations there is HB157, proposed by Rep. Chuck Hunter of Helena, for Public Health & Human Services. It implements the Healthy Kids Initiative, approved in the 2008 election. The fiscal note is out on this, too. Jon Moe the staffer:

Sen. John Brueggeman, of Flathead, has SB95 in Senate Natural Resources. It is being brought forth at the request of DEQ, and would allow establishment of numerical quantities for temporary nutrient discharge permits. Brueggman is also bringing forward, for DEQ, SB102, which would allow for implementation of rules to address defects in public water systems. Both very worthy of support. Sonja Nowakowski the staffer,

Sen. Bob Hawks, of Bozeman, wants to revise the laws on medium-speed electric vehicles with SB73. This one has been tooling along nicely in the Senate, already having passed a 2nd reading of its amended version, 48-2. Currently these vehicles can’t be licensed. This bill would allow it. It’s in Senate Finance & Claims, Taryn Purdy the staffer –

Tuesday: Jill Cohenour’s HB41 has been referred to House Appropriations after having passed its second floor reading in the House. This is because, I believe, it needs to be included in an appropriations bill. The fiscal note is out on this one. It is very supportable and has been blogged about here. Jon Moe the staffer:

Wednesday: I like this one. Rep. Dennis Himmelberger, of Billings, has HB323, which would revise the laws for uninsured motorists. Driving is a responsibility – insurance is part of it. People without insurance make my insurance costs higher. This in House Business & Labor, Bart Campbell the staffer –

SB243, proposed by Joe Balyeat, of Bozeman, could end up costing the taxpayers a bundle. It would require a majority vote in general elections – forcing run-offs in any election where there wasn’t a >50% result. Nuts. The fiscal note shows technical concerns and “significant local government impact.” Costs estimates are $1.6 million for a general election. It’s in Senate State Administration – staffer Dave Bohyer,

Remember – good government – GOOD GOVERNMENT – requires YOU. It’s more than pulling a lever/filling in that dot – or even knocking doors and making calls. It doesn’t all end on the 2nd Wednesday in November. Get involved. Write a letter, send an email.


by problembear

and by bad behavior i mean the greed of landlords holding security deposits from honest renters who leave their places clean and in good shape….this needs to stop. we should fine the b-jeezus out of ‘ the greedy bastards. let’s hope the montana legislature passes HB 188 which just passed the third reading in the house 71-28. this is just the beginning…

how about…

 health insurers who try to wear down their clients by denying coverage they are eligible for simply because it is more profitable and they know that a certain percentage of folks will simply give up from the relentless evil manipulation of our valuable time spent on endless call waiting queues..this needs to stop. i suggest rescinding the law which protects HMO’s from lawsuits by their clients.

telephone companies, internet service providers, and satellite companies who overcharge us and hope we don’t notice should be subject to fines of triple the size of the original bill in question….

payday loan businesses who rip off montanans at 650% interest…either close them down or regulate their obscene profits to more reasonable levels…

we need to send a message that america is tired of being fleeced by quick buck artists. we expect companies to conduct themselves with good old fashioned integrity and good ethical business practices. this is your official notice that the scam artist model of business that was encouraged and rewarded under bush’s regime has stopped being acceptable in america as of Jan 20, 2009. the ground has indeed shifted. pay attention CEO’s, Health insurance managers, loan sharks  and unethical landlords…

as  for the irrelevant gnats and mosquitos who spread venom on the change taking place in america- bring it on because you look ridiculous, mean-spirited and sadly pathetic. americans are through with the failed greed-first, trickle down mentality of the far right. all you do is paint yourselves further into corners of your own malicious and jealous venal vituperation. everything you do or say to try to stop the change sweeping accross this nation will only build further resentment for your efforts.

now is a good time for some serious quiet time and a long nap for spoiled little two year olds who fail to see that americans have spoken and it is now time to work together to rebuild this country. any more temper tantrums out of the overly spoiled extreme far right and the greedy people and companies they support will be met with punishment.  there’s a new sheriff in town now folks and he does intend to reward good behavior and punish bad…and the majority of americans intend to help him do just that.

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread.

Dave Crisp of the Billings Blog started the week off right (LOL) with a post regarding the perplexedly contradictory Professor Natelson of Electric City Weblog.

Then Matt at Left in the West ponders even more the lunacy libertarianism of Professor Natelson’s wish for private school education for the masses.

It’s all very funny, actually.

Pogie knocked out 4 posts this week on education, kicking it off with Education Week: Open Thread to Discuss Schools.

But my favorite was Pogie’s take on Gary Marbut’s classless judgement to use the sniper shooting tragedy in Glasgow this past week to try and further his guns-for-everyone agenda. It’s kinda funny – every single person that commented called him an ass.


Now, Moorcat stopped by earlier this week. For those of you who don’t this famous blogger, he is the former (?) author of Pragmatic Revolt. He’s been targeted for arrest by elected officials in Dillon, his writing is so fierce….and he is the brother of Wulfgar!. A while back – quite a while back – he fell off the pages. And when he stopped by recently and signed his comment “Montana Bullets and Blades” without leaving a link, I have to admit I did a google looking for what it meant and could find nothing. Well, Doug at The Montana Misanthrope was a better detective than I, and now Montana Bullets and Blades has been revealed to me and our readers of 4&20.

Echoing Doug’s words: Welcome back, friend!

Speaking of Wulfgar!

The real tell-em-like-it-is Professor of Reality brought us a number of wonderful in-your-face pieces this week. My favorite were his lamentations on the demise of the right-wing male. Part 1 and Part 2.

Meanwhile, elsewhere…..Wyoming is getting one of four new BLM offices specializing in “renewables”, meaning biomass, wind, solar and geothermal energy resources. The other 3 are located in Arizona, Nevada and California.

The Missoula Independent’s Skylar Browning did a piece on Roy Houseman, president of steelworkers union Local 885 and employee at Smurfit Stone. He’s 27, and fighting the good fight. Uphill.

We, as a community, as a state, should be asking this man what we can do for him. For them. Because the higher ups in Smurfit-Stone sure don’t seem to be giving a shit.

Last week I mentioned the Bush Administration losing a big one. Well, the lost another big one on their way out the door.

The Obama Administration, among the already long list of things it’s done since Tuesday, has restored a true working Freedom of Information Act.

The Atlantic Monthly looks at the fate of newspapers and the future of journalism.

Blagojevich’s lawyer quits.

The President gets a Barackberry – in case you missed it.

As if you could…

The journal Science looks at the massive mortality of conifer stands in the west.

Over at High Country News, executive director of the Wild West Institute and occasional 4&20 commenter Matt Koehler writes that Fire and Ancient Forests Belong Together.

Finally? Good news for those of you with money. The FEC just increased your campaign contribution limits.

Well, it’s been a long week for me – and hopefully a longer weekend. I’m gonna take some time to enjoy it. I hope you do too.


by jhwygirl

UPDATE: HB188 survived its 3rd reading, garnering a vote of 71-28. It actually gained 3 “nay” votes, while losing one – Rep. Bill Nooney, of Missoula. Good deal, Bill – you did the right thing.

Great Falls Rep. Deborah Kottel, looking out for all those military personnel in her district has proposed HB188 which would allow for double damages for wrongful withholding of security deposits.

Geez, who doesn’t support our armed forces, right?

This bill passed the House Business & Labor Committee with a 14 – 4 vote, and has also survived a 2nd reading in the House (today) with a 74 – 26 vote.

This bill has to survive the 3rd reading – which is tomorrow morning.

You gotta wonder why someone might vote against a bill like this. I mean, it would only apply if a landlord wrongfully withheld a security deposit. There’d have to be a small claims court trial. The landlord would have to be found guilty of holding the deposit unlawfully. So no harm, no foul, right?

No harm, no foul. But the bill does do good by protecting the consumer and putting a strong financial incentive into the lawbooks to prevent this type of unlawful activity – and that is key – keeping a security deposit is currently a violation of the law. HB188 would merely provide stronger incentive to prevent unlawful activity.

So who are the 26 voting against protecting renters? Renters not only like the people in their districts, but renters like those military folk up there in Great Falls?

Well, here in Missoula, we’ve got Bill Nooney

Renters in Dillon, including UM-Western students, aren’t getting any support from Jeffery Welborn.

Apparently the renters and students in MSU Bozeman aren’t of concern to:

Ted Washburn,
Scott Sales, and
Gordon Vance

Then there’s Joel Boniek, of Livingston and Bob Wagner, of Harrison.

What about renters and students in and around MSU-Billings?:

Dennis Himmelberger,
Don Roberts, and
Ken Peterson

In Laurel, there’s Krayton Kerns, and in Huntley there’s Bill Glaser.

Consumer protection in Kalispell – and think about all the jobs lost there, and renters that may have to move? – isn’t an issue, I guess:

Keith Regier, and
Jon Sonju

Then there’s Pat Ingraham, of Thompson Falls, Chas Vincent, of Libby, and Mark Blasdel, of Somers.

Ravalli County and the Bitterroot? No renters there needing protection?

Bob Lake, of Hamilton
Gary MacLaren, of Victor, and
Ron Stoker, of Darby

Near Great Falls, there’s Edward Butcher, of Winifred and
Llew Jones, of Conrad.

Who’s left?

Walter McNutt, of Sidney
Scott Mendenhall, of Clancy
Mike Miller, of Helmville
Wendy Warburton, of Havre

Shame. No harm, no foul – and only an added incentive to prevent activity that is already unlawful.

No excuse, people – no excuse.


by problembear

…that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply…”- excerpt from the inaugural address. 1-20-09

sometimes when the #&^holes get to me i visit my new house, and i feel much better.

you always expect the naysayers and the malcontents and the annoying catcalls from a few because that is what they do, but the people have spoken and he is our president, so don’t expect me to be complacent about unfounded mean-spirited criticisms designed to divert us from the goal of rebuilding america after the most corrupt bunch of liars, cowards and thieves tried their utmost to defeat us. america is us. obama is us. and we are on the train so people get ready, there’s a train a comin’….

by jhwygirl

Thought I’d look back on some of the bills I’ve posted on. This post goes through week 2.

Rep. Robin Hamilton’s HB62, which requires mandatory trappers education and safety courses has passed the three readings in the House (with a 51-48 final vote). It moves to the Senate.

Rep. JP Pomnichowski’s HB63, which provides for authority to revoke fur bearer licenses when there are violations in law went through second reading, and apparently there were some procedural questions. It’s been sent back to the House Fish and Wildlife Committee. The second reading vote was 50-49 – it was a 12-6 vote in committee. If you support this bill, now is the time to contact your legislator and let him know. Go to Project Vote Smart to figure out who your state house representative is, and then head to this page for contact information.

Rep. Arlene Becker’s HB151 which revises breast reconstruction mandates to comply with federal law has easily passed 3 readings in the House. It moves to the Senate, and looks like it should have no problem. Wondering who voted against it? Check out the 7 house representatives that voted against this, including Ray Hawk of Florence, Bob Lake, of Hamilton, Scott Sales of Bozeman, Joel Boniek, of Livingston, Scott Mendenhall of Clancy, Dave Kasten of Brockway, and Keith Regier of Kalispell.

Senator Ron Erickson’s SB9, which would authorize funding of transportation systems with revenue bonds has been tabled. This one is in the Senate Local Government committee. I had hoped that this had bi-partisan support, so I’m a bit surprised. Leanne Heisel is the staffer for the Local Government committee, and you can email her your public comment at

Rep. Franke Wilmer’s HB30 has yet to be updated – perhaps its hearing has been postponed? It’s currently nontabled. This one allowed for youth election judges of ages 16-18.

Rep. Walter McNutt’s HB52 apparently sits in the same fate of Rep. Wilmer’s bill, above.

SB93 and SB94, both proposed by Senator Larry Jent, and both important bills concerning water also sit in committee. Nontabled.

Being tabled is worse. Head to this post for contact information on both of those.

Jill Cohenour’s HB39, which would establish a water rights enforcement program, associated appropriations and provides for consideration and protection of senior water rights holders in enforcement actions has survived 3 readings in the House, with overwhelming support. Awesome. This one moves to the Senate.

Cohenour’s HB40 is having scheduling problems, but SB41 done extremely well in its second reading, garnering a 91-8 vote. HB41 requires discharge permits to be obtained for recharge or mitigation plans in closed basins. Another good deal, moving forward.

But who are the 8 in that teeny tiny minority of that 2nd reading vote on SB41? Ray Hawk of Florence, Ron Stoker of Darby, Bob Lake, of Hamilton, Scott Sales of Bozeman, Bob Wagner of Harrison, Krayton Kerns of Laurel, Scott Mendenhall of Clancy. Bill Glaser of Huntley’s vote is recorded as “A” (for absent.) If you live in these guy’s areas, folks, you might want to send ’em an email, let them know your watching this vote on water quality. Contact info is in the links for their names.

Scott Sales? He represents a closed basin area. Same with Bob Lake, Ron Stoker and Ray Hawk – where the Bitterroot has one or two closed sub-basins. sheesh.

Rep. Deborah Kottel’s HB188, which increases penalty for unlawful withholding of security deposits has survived committee nicely, 14-4 – and heads to its second reading in the House. HB189, which revises tenant-landlord laws and also requires a landlord to provide heat, is having scheduling difficulties. You might check out this previous post for contact information – let the House Business & Labor Committee know that it is important to keep this one moving. The legislative session is only 90 days, don’t ya’ know?

Rep. Mike Miller’s HB202, which would allow a tax credit for long-term healthcare insurance, is having scheduling problems.

Rep. Robin Hamilton’s HB195, which would revise the lottery system for liquor licenses, giving previously unsuccessful lottery participants preference, is sitting in committee, nontabled.

Julie French’s HB29, which would increase funding for senior and disabled transportation sits in committee, also, nontabled.

Senator Wanzenried’s SJ9 requests a study – a study, folks – of the state’s student loan system. Wanzenried has sponsored this bill out of concerns with availability of guaranteed student loan funds for Montana’s students due to failures in the U.S. financial systems. It too, sits in committee. Nontabled.

For contact information on the 4 bills above that are sitting in committee, go back to this post.

Thank you for reading. Go out and make a difference in your state and your world today, people. Write a letter, send an email, or call or legislator. Let ’em know what you want.


(photo looking east from madison street bridge)

by problembear

if you look closely at the center of this photo you will see blue sky…

when grey skies hover stubbornly( january-february) during inversions  trapping our car exhaust and other gaseous effluents in the valley i occasionally exercise an escape option of driving to east missoula or even further to bonner or even clinton. sometimes we simply take a cup of coffee and head out to the newly refurbished  pedestrian bridge spanning the blackfoot river near bonner and spend a much-appreciated 20 minutes or so just letting the sun warm our faces. it feels great and impoves the mood considerably.

the only problem is when we get in the truck and head back to missoula. it is daunting to see that big brown cloud ahead and we find reasons to linger- a drink at Harold’s Club, drive over to the shooting range to see if the rocky mountain sheep are out browsing through the exposed patches of grass, or stop by my old neighborhood and see what is up with the neighbors…

but that gossip is for another post. you all are free to join us during the next inversion…just don’t crowd me, ok. bears are very skittish around crowds…


by jhwygirl


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