Archive for August, 2010
by Pete Talbot
When newspapers start to merge, and there has been a lot of that lately, they usually start with the advertising, accounting and circulation departments, and keep the newsrooms separate.
So it was a bit of a surprise when the Missoulian announced that the Ravalli Republic and Missoulian were combining their newsrooms under Missoulian editor Sherry Devlin (although I should have seen the handwriting on the wall with all the Ravalli Republic reporter bylines showing up in the Missoulian’s pages).
So what’s the next step, one daily newspaper serving Missoula and the Bitterroot? This is not good news for any of the communities up and down the valley, Missoula included.
Montana’s resident gun nut and lunatic lobbyist had his lawsuit against the U.S. government dismissed this afternoon for what was basically a lack of standing.
See, Marbut and his Montana Shooting Sports Association tried to sue the federal government for relief from something that hadn’t happened. See, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had yet to stop Montana from NOT regulating something that it doesn’t regulate already.
Get this circular logic?
See, Marbut successfully (so note that, people – HB246 passed a majority in the evenly split state house (84-14) and a majority in the Republican-controlled senate…and Governor Schweitzer signed the thing into law) lobbied a bill through the last legislative session that exempted Montana built guns from federal regulation.
So Montana legislators passed a bill and our Governor Schweitzer signed that bill into law that said that guns made in the state of Montana were not subject to federal law.
Make sense? A state passing a law saying it isn’t subject to federal law?
Pretty soon, one of these Einstein’s are going to want to secede from the Union….history be damned.
How we’re going to ensure that these guns stay in Montana? Don’t think that’s of consequence to Montana and its taxpayers? It will be once some gun manufacturer sells a gun to someone out of state or sells it to someone who takes the thing out of Montana. So the taxpayers will be paying Bullock and his staff to defend the thing once the feds try and enforce their regulations.
You wonder why all the escaped convicts run here? Wonder why we have all those crazy doomsday groups here? Nazis?
And you can damned well bet Marbut considers himself a conservative. Spending taxpayer money to defend his political agenda follies.
Consider, too, the irony of him having to file in federal court. Kinda makes me laugh – him filing a suit without standing in federal court, asking the feds to basically give him legitimacy.
Gotta love that.
Want to learn more about Marbut and Joel Boniek (the sponsor the bill mentioned above)? Check out this previous post which includes a YouTube video of Marbut and Boniek’s appearance on Fox News w/Glenn Beck.
Wonder if ol’ Glenn Beck and Fox News will cover this dismissal?
this is the only thing i could find about the rally tomorrow Sept 1 at noon on the courthouse steps to kick off the campaign to vote for lowering the cap on payday lenders. Mayor John Engen and Sen Carol WIlliams will be there. i plan to as well. let’s get cracking on this (finally change a bear can believe in)
thank god for citizen’s initiatives. it’s practically the only reason i vote anymore. it is good to know that we the people can do something to alleviate the shameful way our state allows predatory lenders to charge the working poor 625% interest on payday loans and 300% interest on vehicle title loans.
Last week the Federal Reserve met at an economic summit held at the decidedly elitist Jackson Hole Resort where Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said he, “will do all that it can,” to right the economy. He’s correct… he’s doing everything thing he can – from holding the Federal Funds Rate at a historic low at or below .25% to Quantitative Easing (QE) in which the Fed buys Treasury Bills – for the BANKS! Fed policy is being used to SUSTAIN RECORD FINANCIAL SECTOR PROFITS even while the rest of the economy languishes and unemployment hovers at just under 10%. This is corporate rape and pillage… bait and switch… whatever you want to call it the rich are getting richer and the middle class is disappearing.
Why is Fed policy hurting you and me? Hit the jump for my take. And for more great insight into misguided economics check out Prophets Without Profit… my new favorite blog.
With Social Security celebrating its 75th anniversary, people here in Missoula have the opportunity to participate in a community forum designed to bring a myriad of state and community leaders – and the general public – together to discuss the issues facing Social Security.
On Monday, at 10:30 a.m. in city council chambers, located at 140 W. Pine Street, Mayor John Engen will join with former U.S. Senator John Melcher and U.S. Representative Pat Williams to lead a panel discussion on Social Security, along with a list of numerous community leaders, including:
State Senator Dave Wanzenried
Mike Mayer, Summit Independent Living
Paul Meyer, Western Montana Rehabilitation
Jack Chambers, Opportunity Resources
Susan Kohler, Missoula Aging Services
Mark Anderlik, Missoula Central Labor Council and
Cris Volinkaty, Child Development Center
The format will be a panel discussion with plenty of opportunity afterwards for a question and answer period to the panel participants.
I’m hoping to be able to make it, but my schedule is pretty tight – but the attendees on the tentative list are impressive and I know that organizers have been working to bring in those with conservative viewpoints.
Dave Budge, are you reading?
Because I doubt I’ll be able to make it, I really hope MCAT is able to cover it. It’s an important issue and as the Obama Administration begins the discussion to look for solutions, it’s important for communities around the U.S. to be involved in offering their viewpoints and suggestions.
For a primer on what Social Security means for Montana, read this report, titled Social Security Works for Montana.
Not even a month after this season’s first ‘incident’.
Maybe someone will fix that?
As for last night’s incident, Hauck mighta recruited Stuberg – a third year sophomore – but Pflugrad is apparently content to continue with this academic underachiever.
I point that out because the Grizz team may have criminals – but it also has enablers.
Because, right or wrong, it’s all “Win Win Win!”
Speaking of enablers, the state has yet to replace King George Dennison – he gave the opening address to the newest round of students last week.
Boy, what to say about this except that I’m apparently not the only fan of The Indy’s George Ochenski.
Check the comments.
What is it they say to reporters? If you’re pissin’ someone off you’re doing something right?
Keep on keeping on.
by Pete Talbot
From a news brief in the Montana section of the Missoulian:
A large prescribed fire on Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest created an impressive plume of smoke that drifted into the Missoula Valley Wednesday night.
So thick was the smoke and smell – and so many the calls from worried residents – that the Lolo National Forest and Missoula Rural Fire sent engines out in search of the smoke’s source.
Now I’m no forester but who does prescribed burns in August? I mean really, why do prescribed burns at all, ever? There has to be a better way to get rid of slash heaps and unwanted undergrowth.
But especially in August, when the air is already thick with smoke from naturally occurring fires. Thanks a lot, Idaho.
Slow day at the office… Enjoy!
As construction on the three block stretch of North Higgins grinds towards completion the final character the street will assume is slowly coming into view. The question is… “will this ultimately create a safer environment for everyone and help to promote business downtown?” I sure hope so… I personally think this is a great project, one that is much needed along this stretch of Higgins with the ever increasing popularity of the Farmer’s Markets. Saturday mornings in downtown are becoming almost unbearable with the number of people frequenting the Saturday Markets… maybe City Council should outlaw those ridiculously huge baby strollers to help alleviate foot traffic… I would hate to see the carnage caused by a three stroller pile-up.
Anyway, foot traffic downtown has certainly increased to the point where giving over more space along this stretch of road makes sense. A decade ago the Farmer’s Market was respectable, but I would venture to guess that visitors have increased by a factor of three or four over the last decade… especially with the success of the Clark Fork Market.
The North Higgins Streetscape is well ahead of schedule thanks to economic stimulus money. Originally the idea of downtown business owners and the BID, and first proposed in Greater Downtown Master Plan, the project is meant to create a more inviting, calm, and safe urban environment for pedestrians and cyclists along this often congested downtown corridor… encouraging people to spend more time – and thus money – downtown.
Pedestrians have already had ample opportunity to test out and benefit from the extra real-estate given over to them as the series of bulb-outs have been finished for some time.
While the curb-extensions work well at creating a safe pedestrian environment, at this moment I’m skeptical of the other half of the project… the new, integrated cycle-tracks seen below (in their unfinished state).
by Pete Talbot
Apparently, our President isn’t really that committed to combating climate change.
According to Environment and Energy Daily, the Obama administration is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to toss out an appeals court decision that would allow lawsuits against major greenhouse gas emitters for their contributions to global warming.
(Here’s a link to the publication but unfortunately you need to subscribe to read the story. Trial subscriptions are available. I’ve reproduced the story below the fold.)
The case centers on what’s known as “public nuisance” lawsuits and the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs — a coalition of states, environmental groups and New York City. The plaintiffs are filing a lawsuit that seeks to force several of the nation’s largest coal-fired utilities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Environmentalists were shocked with the administration siding with the big coal companies. From the story:
Matt Pawa, an attorney representing plaintiffs in the case, said he and his colleagues expected the White House to stay out of the matter. During a meeting with more than 30 administration lawyers at the solicitor general’s office on June 24, it seemed they had “a lot of friends in the room,” he said.
“We feel stabbed in the back,” Pawa said. “This was really a dastardly move by an administration that said it was a friend of the environment. With friends like this, who needs enemies?”
I’m feeling a little back-stabbed, too.
For those of you who might of missed it, CBS News’ Face the Nation has posted the video of Bob Schieffer’s interview with Bozeman native Greg Mortenson.
Don’t miss it. There’s lots to learn there.
Nicholas Kristof, one of NYTimes best, had a column recently where he lamented the war as it juxtaposed upon the wisdom of Mortenson’s best-selling book, Three Cups of Tea. It’s a must-read.
One thing that’s been stuck in my head from watching Mortenson’s interview this past Sunday?
The U.S. spends $1 million per soldier, per day, for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan
Imagine if we’da built schools over these last nearly 10 years? Imagine if we’d bring 246 our soldiers home today and build a higher education system for all of Afghanistan?
Last month, the Missoula County Public School District voted a 20% pay raise ($ + bonus’) for superintendent Alex Apostle, while holding teacher raises to one half of 1% and acknowledging that staff lay-offs were going to occur.
News is News:
Criticism reached a crescendo immediately as news of the pay raise made it out into the community – teachers, students and taxpayers alike weren’t very happy. Letters to the editor were plentiful…more than one school board trustee could take.
Trustee Nancy Pickhardt, an elected official, apparently didn’t like the criticism. She left a voice message for friends of hers who had written a letter criticizing the board’s pay raise decision amidst the current economic situation of giving the teachers only .5% – stating succinctly that Apostle works no harder than the rest of the MCPS system.
What Did Nancy Say?
Go fuck yourself.
What Happened Immediately?
The roar of the dirty masses (i.e., teachers, taxpayers, students and staff ) became louder. At the very next monthly school board meeting (August 10th) a standing-room only crowd protested the raise and scores of people – the dirty masses – spoke in public comment, many quite eloquently, of (1) the board’s misplaced decision regarding the raise (2) Nancy Pickhardt’s potty mouth and the poor example it set for the students, and (3) the need for Nancy Pickhardt to resign.
What Happened Today?
Nancy Pickhardt resigned today. When contacted by the Missoulian to confirm the authenticity of her emailed resignation, Mrs. Pickhardt screamed at the Missoulian reporter (unnamed in the story), saying sarcastically “No, it’s not real. You must be very happy. You’re the one who fomented this. Have a great life.”
Shame on you unnamed Missoulian reporter – you made baby Nancy Pickhardt cry.
I truly hope that is the last we ever hear of this undignified piece of a human being.
Supermontanareporter John S. Adams, of the Great Falls Tribune, reports that long-time director of the tourism bureau, housed under the Department of Commerce, was suddenly without employment Friday afternoon.
Was she fired? As Adams posts in his not-blogged-often-enough The Lowdown, Shirley Baumgart – who had been in her position since 2002 – had not told anyone of her plans to leave. Staff and tourist industry people throughout the state were shocked of the news.
Recently appointed director of the Department of Commerce, Dore Schwinden, confirmed on Friday that Ms. Baumgart had left her position, but would not confirm the circumstances.
Baumgart’s department is the third high-level departure from the Department of Commerce in recent months. Director Schwinden, in fact, is very newly appointed – the former director, Tony Preite, retired August 1st.
David Cole is the third sudden departure, who’s abrupt resignation made headlines in March when Cole told Lee Newspapers that he was forced out of his job by the Schweitzer administration. Cole said he was pushed out after he responded to a request from a GOP lawmaker regarding grants to local communities that Schweitzer had frozen. The governor’s office denied playing a role in Cole’s ouster.
I’m recalling sudden departures at the end of 2009 by the long-time director of Fish and Game, and also Health and Human Services – both on the same day. There were news articles….can’t seem to remember their names, though
Goddess Bless Vice President Biden, an everyperson’s working Joe. Such a regular guy, he commuted from Delaware – by train – to DC daily during his multiple terms as senator….while his wife worked and his kids went to public school.
I’m not happy with the current economic situation, but I’m old enough to remember how it was in the early 80’s. It was crap. For quite a while. And Reagan wasn’t handed the crap that Obama was before he even turned the keys on the White House.
THE FACTS ARE that George W. Bush took a $237 billion surplus and turned it into a $1.3 trillion deficit. George and his band of thieves left us bankrupt in every sense of the word. While, again, I have great concern over the current situation, my concern lies more with the everyperson, and not the top 2% that would benefit from extending the Bush tax cuts – which did not create jobs, btw.
Republicans, though can’t seem to keep to their contracts with America. Those tax cuts were set to expire because they were known to be creating a deficit when they were approved.
Let’s say that again: The Bush tax cuts were known to be creating a deficit when they were implemented.
Also again: The Bush tax cuts did not create jobs.
Now for the real poop behind those tax cuts that Boehner and his buddies – you know, guys like Dennis Rehberg? – are out there saying need to be extended: If you are married making less than $237,000 a year? Or single, making less than $200,000 a year? You will actually pay less in taxes. So small businesses? Benefit. Middle class? Benefit.
Tax payers? $1.45 billion less in deficit spending.
Yep – that’s right, extending the Bush tax cuts will double the U.S. deficit, while benefiting the very very top of the income earners in the U.S.
Today, Joe Biden told Boehner and his buddies what he thought of their economic ideas. You can read it here. It’s a damn good version of take-your-idea-of-economic-stimulation-for-the-rich-and-shove-it.
And Max? If you are out there, paying attention? I hope you read that link above – because if you really want to extend tax cuts to the middle class – and I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m betting a whole lot of us Montanans don’t make more than $250,000 – you’ll take your position as chair of the Finance Committee and quit the nonsense, spread the word, and END THE BUSH TAX CUTS.
The Missoula Independent took time to dig further into Ravalli County’s County Attorney candidate William Fulbright’s bankruptcy records.
This wasn’t some witch hunt – in the interest of full disclosure, William Fulbright had handed over his bankruptcy records to the Ravalli Republic a while back, as rumors swirled around his having filed bankruptcy to avoid payment of his student loan.
The Indy’s Alex Sakariassen took time to look at what was actually in Fulbright’s bankruptcy documents and found much more that should have Ravalli County residents questioning why he deserves their vote for County Attorney.
Good catch, Alex – that’s certainly news that’s fit to print, and news that voters have every right to know.
….by by baring their breasts along the Clark Fork River.
The group feels the double-standard that forces woman to cover their bodies, and not men, is a problem. They hope by bringing attention to the issue, woman will one day be allowed to go topless in public.
This makes me mad. And sad.
Crooks works. The work he does – for AmeriCorp Vista – isn’t easy; it helps the community and Montana; and is woefully underpaid, at that.
AmeriCorp Vista’s mission? VISTAs commit to work for a year at a nonprofit organization or local government agency with a focus on fighting illiteracy, improving health services or strengthening community groups to bring individuals out of poverty. The program provides him with a small paycheck every other week, but it’s not enough to pay for all necessities so he, and most VISTAs, qualifies for SNAP
More Montana citizens receive federal assistance to pay for their groceries than ever before.
The number of recipients has climbed steadily every month for the past two years, with 12 percent of the state population receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.
In May of this year, 116,368 Montanans received money for food. During May 2008, there were 80,911, according to Linda Snedigar, administrator for the Human and Community Services Division of the Montana Department of Health and Human Services.
I hope our Senator John Tester reads this – two months ago he proposed cutting $25 a week from the food stamp program.
give up? an unholy alliance between republicans, fox, and the saudis.
wag the dog republican style. that’s the way to regain power. spend a little cash to cause a controversy. report on it with your own personal news service. wait for the stupid democrats to start fighting each other over it, then cash in on tea baggers hurling racist ignorant garbage at the president…..
if you thought the so-called recovery was merely stalled a little, this economist is not reassuring ………..
“…..Celente pointed to a near-riot that took place last week in Atlanta when 30,000 people showed up to be put on a housing waiting list, saying that the event is a harbinger of what’s to come.
He also argued that the way unemployment is measured today masks a much larger joblessness crisis because “once you’re off the unemployment rolls, you’re no longer unemployed.”
Celente said the current unemployment rate, if it were measured as it was measured during the Great Depression, would be around 17.5 percent. And he expects that number to rise to around 22 percent in the coming years.
“One of the good businesses to get in to may be guillotines,” Celente quipped. “Because there’s a real off-with-their-heads fever going on. People are really fed up.”
Celente argued that the conditions needed for an economic recovery simply don’t exist. “Let’s go back to the 1990s. We’re in a recession. What got us out of it? The Internet. It wasn’t a government policy, and Al Gore didn’t invent it.”
But today, Celente argued, there are no new booming industries pushing towards economic expansion. And the US middle class may not have the right skills to take up the challenge.
“We went from a country that used to be merchants, craftspeople, manufacturers, to clerks and cashiers,” Celente said. “We have to bring manufacturing back to America.”
That’s their field of corn – one of what is usually 3 specialty varieties – with their yummy sweet carrots in the foreground.
They’ve got peppers galore – spicy, sweet, green, red and purple. Broccoli is D-lish, as is the zucchini, the cucumbers and the summer squash. Looks like the corn – which sells so fast in the 4 to 6 o’clock hour it has to be restocked constantly – is due in late August.
By late August, it looks like they mean next week…..
photo courtesy of http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Links/link2us.html
“payday lenders lost their appeal for me when they trapped my daughter at the age of 20 in an endless cycle of debt which destroyed her credit, sucked up all the money she made at wendy’s pulling double shifts and spit her out when she lost her car, her job and her self esteem. she borrowed about 300 dollars and ended up paying over 1400 over a 12 month period. before this happened i didn’t think anything like this was legal. she would have been better off being mugged. at least then she would have only been out the 300 dollars. yeah, i will sure as hell sign your petition” – Denise- a mother who signed a petition for me last may in front of Orange Street Food Farm.
“I am no more a fan of lending institutions that gouge consumers, especially those with lower incomes, than I am of people who charge for the ‘sport’ of shooting defenseless penned animals – indeed, the two compare favorably,” Nelson said, referring to the 2000 voter-passed initiative that banned game farms.
so apparently according to the above passage from justice Nelson, it appears that the business dealings of payday lenders do not appeal much to at least one of the two Montana Supreme Court justices who dissented on a technicality regarding language. the article by charles johnson is here http://missoulian.com/news/local/article_54cd02cc-ab4b-11df-aadf-001cc4c03286.html
by a 4 to 2 majority the supreme court of montana has ok’d ballot measure I-164 for this november’s election. seems like payday lenders are very fearful of allowing this citizen’s initiative to go to the voters. and with good reason.
if i were a payday lender i wouldn’t want denise voting against my evil enterprise this november either. that is one mad mother grizzly who doesn’t want any more of her cubs near those places.
i am predicting an 80% to 19% majority vote for I-164 this november even after these jerks start flooding our televisions and newspapers with millions of dollars of advertisements telling us all what a fine service they provide for our downtrodden low wage workers.
I’m not going to delve into the controversy surrounding Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s use of “the word that no white person should say for fear of having their career ended,” for lack of tact and not really caring about all the Mediawhores talking heads getting a chance to shout about something for five minutes before moving onto the next sensationalized story that’s not really a story. Rather I would like to take the opportunity to share a clip of my favorite comedian, Louis CK’s thoughts on the subject… Enjoi.
by Pete Talbot
Other Big Sky Conference schools made the Sierra Club’s list of the 100 greenest colleges, like Northern Arizona and Portland State.
No sign of UM or MSU, though, and I’d heard these campuses were supposed to be going green.
Did the Grizzlies and Bobcats forget to send in the Sierra Club surveys, or are they not stacking up (environmentally, that is)?
Being on this list is a good thing: not just for image, but it’s economically and socially responsible. Montana’s universities and colleges should be in the top ten.
Setting a fine example and a tone for the season, Coach Pflugrad allowed hoodlum Jimmy Wilson back to practice today after a one week suspension since his “not guilty” plea to biting a woman on the leg.
Wilson has been sitting in prison in California for the last two years awaiting a second trial on murder charges because the first one ended in a hung jury. The second trial acquitted him.
But why was Jimmy Wilson suspended? It was because of pending citations from the city for a late night incident August 5th. This, from the Missoulian’s fine court and crime reporter Tristan Scott:
According to court records obtained by the Missoulian, the alleged offense occurred on Aug. 6 at 2:15 a.m. near the intersection of Park Street and Southwest Higgins Avenue. The ticket alleges Wilson committed “assault by biting (name redacted) on the right leg, causing pain and visible injury.”
Ryan said the alleged offense occurred inside a vehicle occupied by Wilson and five other individuals, including the alleged victim. The woman did not report the incident to police until later.
“There were six people in the car and nobody else saw what happened. What occurred was either unintentional or it was playful,” Ryan said. “He’s pleaded not guilty, and he deserves a fair shake until all the facts are compiled and the investigation is completed. It’s a strange allegation.”
So Jimmy’s back in town, dancing and having fun on the field as I saw from KECI’s clips on tonight’s evening news.
Pflugrad, for his part, justified putting Wilson back on the field saying “we’ll let the legal system play out.”
I’m sure he’s just a misunderstood youth, just looking for a break…and all of these incidents are just a bunch of mistakes. All of ’em.
It’s a great discipline message sent to the gang of Grizzlies, no?
Coach Pflugrad is setting quite the tone there in his new haunts. City residents better buckle-up – this is just the beginning.