Archive for March 9th, 2009

by Pete Talbot

First, the horrible news: the missing woman was found in the debris and has been identified. I was hoping that this was just a huge mistake and the authorities were wrong, but apparently most of the folks in Bozeman knew the score and were just waiting for the official announcement. Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Tara Bowman of Bozeman, a 36-year-old employee of Montana Trails Gallery.

But Bozeman emergency crews, elected officials, volunteers and, really, everyone deserves accolades for the way they responded to this emergency. The community came together in ways that communities do when tragedy strikes — although Bozeman did so in an exceptional way.

I want to thank those who contributed to the 4&20 original post on the explosion: news updates, personal accounts, historical insights — all added to what was a hastily written piece thrown together after a short phone call from a Bozeman relative.

Which brings me to an observation on the mainstream media v. the Internet. While I still have many reservations on the role of Google, Yahoo, YouTube, Twitter and blogs as news sources, the Internet rose to the occasion. Sure, lots of people turned on their TVs and radios to learn what happened but the traffic on net was incredible. There must have been close to 100 Twitter posts, with photos, within the first few hours. Our humble site had nearly 3000 visits that day, complete with comments full of information and some deep, personal stories.

It’s a brave, new world. Well, new, anyway.

Indeed, there’s still work to be done: healing, rebuilding and continued support of a vibrant downtown. But Bozeman, your response to this crisis to date? You did Montana proud.

by jhwygirl

This one has been flying a bit under radar. I have to admit I’ve been watching it, as I’ve received a few emails from friends. Friends who normally don’t pay attention to legislative stuff, and friends who are both opponents and proponents to the legislation.

I will also admit that at first, rather reluctantly, I had been convinced that this was a ‘good’ bill – but not enough to write about it. My lukewarm support was due to the respect I had for my friends that had contacted me, and my willingness to maintain an open mind to something that, on first instinct, I find abhorrent. Because of my open mind on the subject, I’ve read a tremendous amount about horse slaughter, and I’ve come to the conclusion – now – that HB418, which would allow and authorize investor owned livestock slaughter and processing plants, is a very very bad thing.

This bill has survived the House floor, and is now in the Senate. It is set for a March 12th hearing date in the Senate Agriculture, Livestock & Irrigation Committee. March 12th is this Thursday.

First off – and away from what many might describe as the emotional side of this issue – this bill contains some very offensive attacks on environmental laws and review, along with attempts at taking away citizen rights for judicial review. Let’s look at the title:

An act authorizing investor-owned equine slaughter or processing facilities; prohibiting a court from granting an injunction to stop or delay the construction of an equine slaughter or processing facility based on legal challenges or appeals of a permit, license, or certificate, or other approval issued in conjunction with environmental laws, (and the) setting (of) bonding requirements.

With regards to bonding – this law would require that anyone who files a judicial challenge to a facility put up 20% of the cost of the facility as surety bond.

This is the same type of clause being added into some of the other bad environmental legislation that many – bloggers, news reporters, news columnists, letters to the editor, and op-ed columnists are writing about.

Justice only for those with money. I guess that is what the sponsors of the bill – BUTCHER, ANKNEY, BALES, DE. BARRETT, BELCOURT, BERRY, T. BROWN, CAMPBELL, GEBHARDT, HINER, HINKLE, HOVEN, JONES, KERNS, KLOCK, MCCHESNEY, MILLER, MORE, MURPHY, J. PETERSON, RANDALL, REGIER, RIPLEY, ROBERTS, SMITH, STAHL, STEINBEISSER, TUTVEDT, VANCE, VINCENT, WAGNER, WARBURTON, WELBORN, WINDY BOY, ZINKE, REICHNER, BEAN, KASTEN – think that is all that Montanans are entitled to…and along the way, hell be damned to our constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment.

Arguments for the bill include the fact that the economy is suffering and many people can not afford to care for their horse so they are turning them loose and/or allowing them to starve. That this bill is a humane solution to the problem.

These kind of arguments anger me. First of all, owning an animal is a responsibility. That includes not only feeding and caring, but also dealing responsibly with the issue should we falter with those – meaning you find that animal a new home or, worse of worse, you humanely put that animal down. There are plenty of organizations out there – if not individuals – that will help feed horses. Not only that, you go to neighbors, you go to your church. There are horse rescue organizations, you can contact your veterinarian who might know people willing to help, 4-H clubs, equine therapeutic associations….a simple search of the internet unveils many options.

The humane solution is to make the effort and deal with the issue. The lazy solution is to send the animal to slaughter and wash your hands of the responsibility.

Starving cases are another. People who are doing this need help. In most cases, they’ve got mental health issues, just like the cat or dog hoarder. Having a horse slaughtering facility is not going to help those situations.

The fee for euthanasia of a horse is about $200. Then there is a county landfill charge. Sorry – I know this is rather graphic for some, and said rather matter-of-fact…but there it is. It’s a responsibility of ownership. Plain and simple. I had to do it for my pet. People do it every day for their pets. Horse owners, frankly, do not get a pass on this issue.

Why do we need a law that not only facilitates bad ownership behavior, but takes away the rights of the citizens of Montana along the way?

The truth is, horse slaughter is very inhumane. That this bill wants to facilitate it with “investor owned facilities” should be all the more alarming. Couple that with the fact that Montana’s regulatory capacity has shown serious problems – well, let’s just say that approval of this bill would not only certainly ensure and facilitate inhumane treatment, it would also bring with it complete disregard for our already weak regulatory environment and the understaffed departments that enforce them.

Paula Bacon, Former Mayor of Kaufman, Texas provided public comment to the House Agriculture Committee. You can view the content of her letter here.

This website, titled has more information than you’d ever want to know about horse slaughter.

OpEd News did a very thorough piece the other day detailing the truth and lies behind horse slaughter in the United States.

Think most horse are only the cheapest, sickest horses those who go to slaughter? Wrong. Most of the horses who go to slaughter are young and healthy – 92.3%. Horse rescue organizations report being routinely outbid by killer buyers at horse auctions in all regions of the country when they attempt to save horses. The presence of a legal horse slaughter industry is preventing horse rescue and driving up costs for horse rescue organizations.

Please take the time to contact all members of the Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Committee. I’ve taken the time to add the email address of each committee member, below.

Donald Steinbeisser (Chair)
Terry Murphy
Gary Branae
Taylor Brown
Bradley Maxon Hamlett
Ken Hansen
Verdell Jackson
Cliff Larsen
Rick Ripley You’ll need to use the online message form to contact Sen. Ripley

Other options for contact include using the online message form or calling the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800 to leave a message for the entire Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Committee per call. Your message will be delivered directly to the legislators. The TTY (Telephone Device for the Deaf) number is 406-444-4462.

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