Archive for February 24th, 2012

Who Can Can Engstrom?

by lizard

A PR shit-storm will now descend on UM President Royce Engstrom. I’m sure some are already thinking Wow, this asshole was just making demands that the Forrester’s ball change OR ELSE, and now it looks like he tipped off an alleged rapist so the kid could flee the country.

Read the whole article. It’s dumbfounding. Obviously pay raises for top positions, like president of a University, doesn’t guarantee a quality product.

Engstrom should go. Would that be the Board of Regents job?

What’s going to make this shit-storm particularly brutal for those involved is the fact I’m sure they had no other choice. The punk-ass who allegedly committed two sexual assaults is even more untouchable than a football player; he’s a Saudi Arabian probably already soaking in the sun.

Which makes us, the Missoula community, safer, says Engstrom:

The campus is safer because of the man’s departure, Engstrom said at a news conference that he called to clarify the sequence of events involved in the incidents. He called the university’s actions “timely” and “appropriate.” Any impression “that we sat around for a week before we did anything” is untrue, he said.

Engstrom’s right, of course. They weren’t just sitting around. No, Gwen’s article makes it kind of sound like there was some aiding and abetting going on, but I ain’t a law guy, so what the hell do I know?

I know I was at a house party once, in the South Hills, and at this party I met a few Saudi exchange students. I got into an argument with one of ’em on the back deck, a real arrogant prick. I found myself in the somewhat unique position of defending America, because this Saudi’s sense of entitlement to brazenly sample the freedoms he then turned around and arrogantly sneered at demanded a response, so I asked him if he would be able to blow coke (they were) and drunkenly grope American chicks (they did) back in his lovely country, or if Daddy just sent him to the states to get it out of his system before he got his cloaked servant. It came close to blows.

That was four, maybe five years ago. And now that UM’s rape-tolerant culture is exploding into the headlines—AGAIN—ugly little secrets are surfacing, like an administration exposed as being MORE considerate and responsive to an alleged rapist from (ahem) Saudi Arabia than they were to the two possibly victimized women. I hope everyone responsible for reporting these alleged crimes enjoyed that LOOOONNNGG weekend. Can’t get around to reporting possible sexual assaults until the following business week, right?


by Pete Talbot

Can sustainability reduce crime?

The Bakken oil boom is drawing some less-than-desirable elements to Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota.  Of course, crime in boom towns is nothing new: think Henry Plummer, the vigilantes and Alder Gulch.

And apparently we haven’t evolved much from gold camps of the 1800s — environmentally or culturally.  One can still see the mountains of tailings from the dredges that plied Alder Creek over a hundred years ago.  Or visit the Virginia City Museum where Clubfoot George’s clubfoot, looking a bit like a standing rib roast, is on display (apparently he was dug up after being hanged by the vigilantes and his foot was removed for posterity).

And what have we learned, environmentally, since those days? Witness the Berkeley Pit, Colstrip, ASARCO, Basin, the Barker-Hughesville mining district … (and who really knows what all those chemicals pumped deep into the ground in the name of fracking will do to the water tables in the Bakken Play).

But it’s the cultural degradation that’s in the news these days: crime, infrastructure issues, housing shortages, Walmart parking lots filled to capacity with RVs, overcrowded schools and man camps.  And, according to Dennis Portra, the mayor of the metropolis of Bainville, Mont., on the North Dakota border, “Korean prostitutes parking their RV in Bainville for a summer.”

Now I’m pretty sure there’s no way you can sustainably drill for oil or gas but there has to be a more sensible approach.  A permit system that slows development comes to mind, more regulation of where, when and how.  A greater pay-to-play system so that the impacts on schools and neighborhoods and highways and, well, everything is at least somewhat mitigated.  Make sure that there is land, sacred land, that just isn’t touched.  And slow the development way down so that locals get first crack at the jobs to reduce the influx of alleged murderers like these two or this guy.

I realize that we aren’t going to go cold turkey on our oil addiction but really, this cyclical boom and bust is absurd.  How’s this helping to stabilize oil prices or getting us to look at alternatives to an ever dwindling supply of oil? What’s the Williston Basin going to look like when the boom plays out in 20 years?  This is one bad economic model.

And now they’re sinking test wells further west: Choteau, Lewistown, on the lands of the Blackfeet Nation:

“This entire region of the Rockies holds untapped potential that can contribute much needed supplies to help meet U.S. demand,” says Marathon spokesman Paul Weeditz.  The Rockies, apparently, were put here for oil, gas and mineral extraction to meet our never-ending needs.

We really need to get a handle on this, for the sake of a sustainable energy future, for our environment and for our way of life.  It could even put a dent in our homicide rate.

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