Archive for the ‘Blogs’ Category

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread.

The City of Billings is now publishing its city council’s emails.

Was the housing market stabilized or is it being propped up? That’s the gist of this NYTimes article:

“The choice we appear to be making is trying to modify our way out of this, which has the effect of lengthening the crisis,” said Kevin Katari, managing member of Watershed Asset Management, a San Francisco-based hedge fund. “We have simply slowed the foreclosure pipeline, with people staying in houses they are ultimately not going to be able to afford anyway.”

Mr. Katari contends that banks have been using temporary loan modifications under the Obama plan as justification to avoid an honest accounting of the mortgage losses still on their books. Only after banks are forced to acknowledge losses and the real estate market absorbs a now pent-up surge of foreclosed properties will housing prices drop to levels at which enough Americans can afford to buy, he argues.

The Missoulian’s Native people and news blog, The Buffalo Post puts out an amazing amount of information on issues that never make mainstream news. Recent snowstorms have caused tremendous strains on the poorest region in the United States – the Pine Ridge Reservation. People there live in abject poverty (I’ve been there). Housing conditions are horrible. With blown-in roads, there is great concern over meeting the basic necessities of heat and food. If you want to help, there are a variety of posts there with links to organizations coordinating relief efforts.

At some point this past week I got interested in just, exactly, what the penalties were in Montana for DUI. This site explained the difference in potential penalties for first offense, second, third…and so on. Repeat offenses really aren’t that harsh – factor in ysuspended sentences, pleas that allow work release, allowances during license suspensions for work – I mean, for many it’s probably not much more than a major inconvenience for a chunk of time. And that’s if they stick to the conditions.

There are currently 15 people in the Missoula County Detention Center on felony charges of 4th time DUI offense.

Your dog’s carbon footprint is that of two Toyota Land Cruisers. The cat? A small Volkswagen. Even a goldfish has one – equivalent to that of two cell phones.

On the other hand…

Button Valley directs us to this story in truthout, that expounds on the green sustainable hypocrisy that is Governor Schweitzer along with AG Steve Bullock, SoS Linda McCulloch and Auditor Monica Lindeen.

2.6 billions tons of CO2 in the Otter Creek coal, and, come to think of it, the Gov’s got two dogs, doesn’t he? Boy – that’s gonna take a lot of carbon credits.

And speaking of carbon footprints….

Rehberg kicked off the 2010 election season with a nice booklet mailing recently telling Montanans that he doesn’t work for big oil – that he works for us. Whatever. Just because he says it doesn’t make it true – between his top 20 industries that donated to his 2008 re-election, along with the PAC $$ he got, Montanans are keenly aware of just who Denny’s working for.

by jhwygirl

With seemingly little backlash from the tailgating Griz fans. Lauded at homecoming..and still packing them in.

Hauck doesn’t have to care. Clearly, Hauck can do whatever he wants, with little backlash from the University administration, from the fans, or from the Board of Regents.

At least some responsible journalists are stepping up to the plate. Indy editor and primary blog poster Skylar Browning hit Hauck on the eve of homecoming, reporting that the Kaimin had notified its readers that it no longer could effectively provide sports coverage for the Griz football team.

So 3 weeks after the Kaimin does some unflattering – but factually accurate – reporting on Hauck’s handling of an umpteenth violent criminal act involving the Griz team, Coach Hauck is still taking out hissy-fits on the University reporters who cover the team?

As Browing gets at the highlight of inadequacies surrounding Hauck:

Hauck’s killing himself here. Assuming he still aspires to coach at a FBS school, what’s a potential employer going to think of a coach who gets rattled by student reporters in Missoula? That’s not to mention his shady three-year-running record of having players caught in high-profile assault charges. If Hauck quit holding a grudge, held his players more accountable and faced the issue head-on, he could actually focus on what he sometimes appears to enjoy: coaching football.

Where’s the Missoulian? A full week after the Kaimin reporting that it could no longer effectively cover the Griz – after having its sports writer witness Hauck’s asshole-ish behavior (having repeated the question to Hauck that Hauck berated the Kaimin reporter for) – the Missoulian finally brings the story to the notice of Missoulian readers everywhere.

Other than that, the only noise emanating from the Missoulian concerning Hauck’s irresponsible and border-line criminal behavior has been a lone LTE, by Missoulian Donna Hall.

But check the comments on the Missoulian’s late-is-better-than-never article. Seems the public isn’t all slap-happy let’s-win-at-any-cost Hauck-is-a-Superstar happy with the the handling of the Griz football program issues.

Maybe they realize now how absolutely accurate Browing is? That if Hauck’s gonna get rattled by some student reporters (and that statement should not serve to reflect on the skills of the Kaimin’s reporters), how is he going to hit big time?

Yesterday, sports blog Deadspin got at the Hauck story, and it seems they’re looking at it the same way: If Hauck can’t handle the heat of a university paper, he might want to rethink his game plan. (That, too, came to 4&20 via the Indy’s blog.)

And now, college sports writer for the New York Times, Pete Thamel is taking notice of Hauck’s childish irresponsible behavior.

All of this, for me, comes down to what it is UM symbolizes, and what makes UM valuable. Is it the Griz? Or is it education and ethics and social responsibility?

Hauck is stomping on the latter – he may be the coach of the Griz, but he is also a leader both at UM, in Missoula, in Montana – and yep, to Griz fans all over. When he recruites poorly and then covers up the crimes of his proteges, he’s facilitating their behavior.

problembear is wondering the same.

I’ve asked, and I don’t remember if it was on these pages our in conversation, but what is it that Missoulians and the University and the Board of Regent’s needs? A shoot-out on the streets? Will it mean more or less if its downtown as opposed to the University District? Or maybe if it happens in the Rattlesnake it really isn’t OK?

I mean – the charges that came out 2 years ago were kidnapping, assault and weapons charges. That’s a home invasion, folks. Missoula Montana?! Then there was a murder arrest wrapped up there somewhere – but it was Hauck’s protege’s buddy up visiting from southern California, and he was extradited, so I guess that makes it OK?

Or maybe it’s the boys-will-be-boys mentality? Kind of a more sanguine version of the everybody-drinks-and-drives-here-in-Montana defense thrown up by Sen. Greg Barkus and Rep. Denny Rehberg fans?

Whatever it is, it needs to stop. The fans, the university administration and the Board of Regents need to take a hardline with Hauck – assist him in recruiting, because obviously he’s learned few lessons in those regards – and set some standards for grades and academic achievement and responsibility. Perhaps the team should be required to be involved in extra-curricular activities that are community-based?

Failure to expect better will continue to result in more of the same.

Other than that, I’m thinking some anger-management classes are in order for Senator Hauck, himself.

by jhwygirl

I find myself in the very disheartening position of having had to remove a post that I and many have found offensive. It’s not something I take lightly, nor something I relish.

People whom I’ve voted for (and people I haven’t) have voted contrary to my own private wishes many times. Some of these include my very favorite council people. Those same have made statements with which I’ve disagreed, just as they have proposed legislation or resolutions or ordinances with which I’ve opposed.

I can not imagine a vote or a proposal that deserves to draw the reaction that was posted today.

Frankly – I can’t fathom how it is any different from teabaggers standing with Hitleresque Obama signs and shouting down reformers.

I try and not take myself too seriously – but I will say that in the 5 1/2 years I’ve been at this (a neophyte by many standards), I have and continue to take pride in what I do. This stuff takes time. It’s rarely something that is slapped together in 5 minutes. It reflects personally on me, and frankly, progressives in generally. I have posted at Daily Kos, Left in the West and Montana Netroots (those of which, very sadly, were lost to hackers) – and there are 764 previous posts here. Some of them have bombed…and yep, I’ve even made some I’ve regretted along the way.

4&20 is a community-type of blog. There are a number of authors and a variety of opinions. We don’t always agree with each other, but I do respect everyone’s right to put out there what it is they have to say.

The situation here that precipitated this unprecedented removal of a post has crossed a line that of responsibility to the readers of this blog. I’m not naive enough to think that there aren’t people out there that will agree with this. In fact, I’m not naive enough to think that this might not bring on an attack or two against me. If that is the case, so be it.

There’s a certain amount of catharsis to writing…and and great amount of catharsis to writing stuff that is put out there for others to read. Blogging is selfish, in that sense. It serves for me as a way to vent and to articulate what, oddly, many never listened to when, in my pre-blogging days, I spoke publicly and privately to water quality, land use planning, affordable housing and other natural resources issues (to name a few).

I get that catharsis. It’s needed. To some degree, it’s what blogging is about. In this case, it crossed the line.

Back from the dead

by Jay Stevens

Left in the West is back!

by jhwygirl

Well, this guest post from Cynthia Wolken has garnered about half the attention it deserved…with a whole bunch of traffic incoming from resistnet.com/montanaresistance. There’s this link, too, and this one, also – so apparently, it’s quite the topic of discussion over there with them.

No – I’ve not dared to register, but if anyone does, please let us know what is being said behind those walls…

I never did a post on the local coverage – my one post on the event summed up the national coverage…but supermontanareporter John S. Adams, of the Great Falls Tribune, has offered some additional insight to what he saw on the ground in Belgrade during President Obama’s visit on Friday. He’s got a post up at The Lowdown, and this video:

Jay’s got some funny pics, too, up at Left in the West…oh, and he’s finally joined the world of Twitter.

by jhwygirl

Don’t know if any of you have noticed, but the Missoula Independent revamped its website – and I love it! – and it has also added a blog.

Love it love it love it love it!!

I believe many around town are also saying “Finally!” as there has been rumors of the revamp for months and months now.

While Skylar has done an introductory post, superlocalnowbloggerreporter Jesse Froehling, who did a damned fine cover story this week on Tester’s Wilderness Bill, has an accoutrement blog piece that adds some additional depth to the story. Alex Sakariassen gets after it, too, posting about the impending sale of downtown’s The Loft.

Anyways…and big welcome to the Indy to Missoula’s blogging world! I’m looking forward to more than just a weekly dose of most of the writers.

by jhywgirl

Anyone who peruses these pages or Left in the West is familiar with JC, one of the more frequent commenters at both sites. I know I’ve enjoyed his comments. Frankly, there are times when I’ve been unable to comment and seeing that JC was holdin’ down the floor, keeping things clear and concise, that I was grateful to know 4&20 was in good hands.

After some careful consideration on his part, JC has decided to take a jump into Montana’s blogsphere’s waters and take on the role as blogger here at 4&20 blackbirds.

I’m looking forward to his first post and all those thereafter. Please help me in welcoming him on board!

JC? Thanks!

by jhwygirl

Once it’s out there, it’s out there. Kinda hard to remove it.

by jhwygirl

For those of you who haven’t heard, Dick Cheney’s gotten an advance to write a biography. Who better to hear it from than someone in Wyoming? Michael Shay, of Wyoming’s premier progressive blog hummingbirds, has the news.

I love his suggested titles. Too funny.

by jhwygirl

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under the Clinton Administration has a blog, succinctly titled Robert Reich’s Blog. With that resume, he isn’t your stereotypical blogger, and well worthy of paying careful attention.

In his most recent piece, titled How Pharma and Insurance Intend to Kill the Public Option, And What Obama and the Rest of Us Must Do, he provides first hand information on what the public option means for Republicans, moderates and those opposed to national health care reform.

Disappointing stuff to read, I have to say. Very disappointing. If you are advocating for single-payer, or even willing to accept a strong public option – and especially if you are from Montana – you will find this post not only disappointing, but disturbing, to say the least:

So they’re pulling out all the stops — pushing Democrats and a handful of so-called “moderate” Republicans who say they’re in favor of a public option to support legislation that would include it in name only. One of their proposals is to break up the public option into small pieces under multiple regional third-party administrators that would have little or no bargaining leverage. A second is to give the public option to the states where Big Pharma and Big Insurance can easily buy off legislators and officials, as they’ve been doing for years. A third is bind the public plan to the same rules private insurers have already wangled, thereby making it impossible for the public plan to put competitive pressure on the insurers.

Max Baucus, Chair of Senate Finance (now exactly why does the Senate Finance Committee have so much say over health care?) hasn’t shown his cards but staffers tell me he’s more than happy to sign on to any one of these. But Baucus is waiting for more support from his colleagues, and none of the three proposals has emerged as the leading candidate for those who want to kill the public option without showing they’re killing it. Meanwhile, Ted Kennedy and his staff are still pushing for a full public option, but with Kennedy ailing, he might not be able to round up the votes. (Kennedy’s health committee released a draft of a bill today, which contains the full public option.)

A few days ago I came across this article in Bloomberg, titled Kennedy Health Plan Would Include Public Insurance. It was paragraph 7 that drew my ire:

Kennedy’s proposals might go further than another plan being drafted by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus. Baucus, a Montana Democrat, has said he is weighing whether to include a government-run program in a measure and, if so, how it might be structured to attract Republican votes and industry support.

Whaaaa?

I had to check the date on that article. “Is this thing a month old, or what?,” I thought. But nope – that was written just two Fridays ago. I let that one ride, thinking, possibly, that the article was overly-biased to its corporate-leaning audience…but with Reich’s post this past Friday, I’m not thinking that any more.

Baucus got away with Medicare Part D back in (what was it?) 2005. With little repercussions and plenty of kudos from the Republican side, looks like all he took out of it was encouragement. Which is rearing its ugly head once again.

Jon Tester campaigned for his senate seat mentioning the Medicare Part D fiasco at nearly every campaign stop he made. At some point, Senator Jon Tester needs to speak out and talk about meaningful public option, and he needs to let both Montanans and Baucus know that is where he stands, and that a strong and viable public option is what he expects.

Montanans want to know that we’re getting some representation over there in Washington, and it is becoming increasingly clear that Baucus is not only ignoring us, he’s obfuscating a public option plan.

From the looks of things, he’s trying to pull a Medicare Part D type ‘reform’ – in name only – again.

by jhwygirl

I’m sure many – probably all – 4&20 readers have noticed, Left in the West, Montana’s premier progressive blog, is down.

This is a temporary thing, I am told.

Usually it happens right in the heat of a general election, so I had to check my calendar and make sure I didn’t suffer a Rumpelstiltskin or something…

I’m sure it is just a coincidence that it’s down and that Jake Eaton happens to be back in Montana. Just a coincidence.

Until then, shop around on that list over there on the left – Mountain Blogs. Plenty of fine blogs to fill your intertubing pleasure.

Montana massacre

by Pete Talbot

“Ripped from today’s headlines,” as they like to say on those television teases for Law and Order.

I was cruising Left in the West when one of the ads on its home page caught my attention. I always thought I was immune to website advertising but I guess those ads really do work.

Anyway, the headline said, “Massacre in Montana,” so I had to click on it. Turns out it was a promo for a recently published book. The ad had a slick little trailer, too, that looked like a real TV news story.

The book is about a group of terrorists who take over an exclusive ski resort named the ‘Jefferson Club’ (gosh, I wonder where the author got the idea for that) and then hold AIG/Bernie Madoff-type executives hostage.

Not sure who the bad guys are. Guess I’ll have to buy the book.

by jhwygirl

Bunches of good stuff I’ve been reading through for some time now – – –

The Center for the Rocky Mountain West has just released its Spring newsletter. There’s an interesting piece in there on population migration within the U.S.

When Wulfgar! writes that he was thinking of wearing “a flower print dress and my best tea-party bonnet,” you know you better be paying attention. I immediately began planning my trip to Bozeman. Good thing I read the rest of it, otherwise I’da been highly disappointed.

Then he goes after his favorite (Not!) local conservative blogger Andy Hammond with a piece titled “Asplode!

Pogie over at Intelligent Discontent took a jab at Rep. Dennis Rehberg and his hypocritical schizophrenic behavior concerning earmarks. It’s always good to get more clarification on Rehberg.

He also made two strikes with one blow on both the Chair of the Montana Republican Party and Rep. Dennis Rehberg in Is Liane Pronounced Lyin’ – A Pathetic Defense of Dennis Rehberg’s Record.

Ouch!!!

Both Button Valley Press and Will Fish For Work brought Walleye Welfare bill SB425 to my attention. Stop over and give ’em both a thanks for helping to save an important warm water fishery, along with a move that will ensure our fishing licenses won’t be increasing anytime in the near future.

Also celebrating the death of SB498…The Editor had put one one last scary post on the ills and unanswered questions behind carbon sequestration on Friday morning, and by late morning – early afternoon the bill was effectively killed in committee.

One ugly ugly bill that is sitting on the Governor’s desk, waiting for his signature is SB95 which concerns water quality standards for local municipalities. Politics, Peaks, and Valleys has a great piece over there, SB 95: Bucking Feds & Water Quality Standards. Anyone say “Mmmm, I love nutrient discharge in my water?” What’s shocking about this bill is how it is in direct conflict with federal EPA regulations. Look – legislative audits this past summer demonstrated how woefully inadequate Montana DEQ is acting as the agency responsible for the state’s water quality…why would we sign a law into effect that just continues to perpetrate that which is in violation of federal law?

Although, maybe Montana is better off with the feds taking over DEQ’s water quality division?

The Dead are apparently back out on tour The New York Times has two nice little nostalgic pieces – that one there and this one which is a collection of photographs, including reader submitted.

Matt Kohler has a piece up at Clean Green Sustainable about mountaintop coal removal. It’s a major issue out east – in king coal country West Virginia…which reminded me of something someone brought up the other day: “If all these coal advocates want to tout jobs-jobs-jobs when talking about coal, what about West Virginia? Isn’t that one of the poorest states in the U.S.? What about jobs and money down there?”

James Conner of Flathead Memo is not happy about the state of the CHIP initiative – and the state GOP’s role in the situation. When Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy facilitated that budgetary decision, well…let’s just say James got even more incensed.

No one is, really – and the hypocrisy surrounding that vote to reduce a citizen-backed program is mystifying. Singer points out the hypocrisy of it when transposed on the issue of redistricting, while in another post he points out how there simply isn’t any logic to the way they are coming to this decision.

Me? I see it pretty hypocritical of the Montana GOP to jump out on the Capitol steps and lambaste Democrats on the downfall of society for their pro-choice votes while failing to ensure that an additional 15,000 kids get healthcare and while voting in support of state-sanctioned killing in the death penalty? What kind of respect for life is that?

This one really ticked me off: Army Vet Billed $3,000 for War Wounds. My friend, who was Army, said that the Army should be sued for malpractice.

Bridger Orthopedic and Sports Medicine, of Bozeman, is climbing Mt. Everest and they’ve got a blog up with fabulous stories and photographs. I’ve been following it for weeks.

by jhwygirl

I’ve gone and added 4 new links (including one blog) from three very fine organizations – and I’m sure you all are going to be just as interested in ’em. The blog is a collaborative effort that includes posters from all of these orgs, plus some others, including former State Senator Jim Elliot. All of them are going into the Citizen’s Info category.

The Montana Human Rights Network is a fine organization that has been doing great work in Montana, exposing hate crimes, racism and social injustice for decades. All-too-occasional blogger Jamee Greer is now a lobbyist for that MHRN.

See – some lobbyists are good!

The Montana Environmental Information Center has been hard at work railing against the wealth of bad environmental laws proposed this session, and speaking in support of the good ones.

The Policy Institute is a Helena-based organization that blends authoritative research and hands-on political engagement to create public policy based on economic justice, fair taxation, corporate accountability and environmental responsibility.

I’ve caught some of their testimony a while back in the House Taxation committee. That was when I first heard of The Policy Institute. It was during proponent testimony to Rep. Dave McAlpin’s HB395 (now stalled in committee). The bill wished to add a new top tax rate to those making $250,000 a year or more. During the hearing, the following exchange occurred – and it was then I knew that The Policy Institute people were both good people and smart people:

During the question-and-answer part of the hearing, Rep. Dick Barrett, D-Missoula, and a retired economics professor, asked one witness:

“If we pursue the logic of the argument that reducing taxes rates increases tax revenues, don’t we maximize tax revenues when we make the tax rate zero?” Barrett asked, tongue-in-cheek.

Replied Decker: “That’s where the logic leads.”

Finally – The Policy Institute has its own legislative session blog. I’m just finding out about this one, and it will be daily reading for me. Excellent stuff here – Session 61

by jhwygirl

Really, the above line is by Dave Crisp, of the Billings Blog.

Go read the rest.

by jhwygirl

I’m working on the committee hearings for Wednesday and Thursday, but I thought I’d give ya’all a few posts to chomp on while I’m hitting the keyboard:

Take a moment to check out J.S. Adams’ rant about the bevy of shitty environmental legislation this session, and the disparity between the Montana Democratic Party platform and the proposals and voting records coming out of Helena.

The Editor at the Button Valley Bugle gets at their own rant on crappy water quality and MEPA and air quality bills by offering a preview of some of the stuff coming up in the next week or so….

Will Fish For Work did a post I overlooked on Rep. Ed Butcher’s horseslaughter bill. Make sure to check out that view over there.

Finally – Matt Singer went into his own mini-rant on Montana GOP’s newest ridiculous tax measure: Cutting taxes on capital gains.

Oh, yeah…now Jay over at Left in the West jumped in and joined us all, with his thoughts on Butcher’s horse slaughter bill. He adds some information on former Senator Conrad Burns’ complicity in the whole sordid mess.

Is there anyone else I’m missing out there? If so, let me know…

by jhwygirl

There is a correction in this post, below, for HB75

This post is just for Monday and Tuesday. 105 committee hearings for just those two days. Keep in mind, too, that this is all on the downhill side, too – and I need to remember that also. Floor hearings are becoming all the more important, too. I will be making an effort to get up brief previews as stuff hits the floor. Those will be, please note, don’t-delay, email-or-call-today types of notices.

Last Thursday – and then Friday – were two disappointments – both SB425, the “Walleye Welfare” bill, and SB497, the “it protects protesters from people that are entering health care clinics” bill both passed 2nd and 3rd readings in the Senate – on a nearly party-line vote. These were no-go bills from my perspective – and others – so that they passed is a bad thing.

Is there any good to report out of that? Well, in committee, both bills passed unanamously out of committee – SB425 a 9-0 vote our of Senate Fish & Game, and SB497 a 12-0 vote out of Senate Judiciary. By the time they hit the floor, all of the Democratic committee members – save one on each of those bills – had changed their vote. So while the bills weren’t killed on the floor, clearly there was movement. Is there more good? There’s still another chance at these bills – they’re now in their respective House committees….which means ongoing public comment should continue, and may have an affect. So keep it up.

Now, onto the task at hand, shall we?

Monday has an interesting one – the topic of which we’ve blogged about here previously. Rep. Scott Sales has HB526, which would require the use of regular road salt and prohibit the use of magnesium chloride and calcium chloride on state and county roads. Now..boy. What do you say about this? The bill started out prohibiting salt – and I could see where that was too unspecific, so as originally proposed it has been amended. But amended to prohibit magnesium and calcium chloride? When both are more effective? And road salt is more corrosive? And worse for water quality? What are these people thinking? This is House Appropriations (another crazy place for it – it was originally in House Transportation – and me, I’d love to see this in House Natural Resources) – Samuel Speerschneider the secretary – sspeerschneider@mt.gov.

Here’s another one of those crazy unconstitutional ones: Rep. Joel Boniek has HB246 which would “Exempt(ing) from the federal regulation under the commerce clause of the constitution of the United States a firearm accessory, or ammunition manufactured and retained in Montana”. Honestly. The lunacy. And the waste of time. Boniek and the rest of the loonies that are proposing this kind of stuff should be embarrassed.

Sen. Jeff Essman has an interesting one: SB348, which would put forth a constitutional amendment to Montanan’s that would result in yearly legislative sessions that would alternate between regular and budgetary. This passed through the Senate overwhelmingly – 42-8. Now – I don’t know what I think about this: On one hand, if ridiculous legislation (like the one above, for example) weren’t getting proposed, maybe there wouldn’t be a need for annual sessions. On the other hand, 90 days has rarely been enough time to get stuff done. The cost of annual sessions – the fiscal note gets away from addressing it all together by basically saying nothing is going to happen until a time period out of our purview – would be significant. Further, we have interim sessions now where real analysis and attempts at bi-partisan agreement are worked out on significant issues. When would that stuff get done? If someone could explain that to me, maybe then I could support it – but as it stands now, we got a 90 day session that essentially focuses on the “regular” stuff like approving proposed bills that affect every day life, water quality, air quality, taxes, etc., and they have nominal hearings that are politically driven, with little substance given to true analysis, whether fiscal or scientific, of the effects. Would Essman’s proposal result in year-after-year of that? No analysis, just politically-driven decisions. If so, hell no. I wish the legislators would consider all that before they go putting forth a constitutional amendment to the voters that would result in a politically-driven decision that would then result in year-after-year of politically-driven decisions.

Sen. Carol C. Juneau wants to regulate the sale of alcoholic energy drinks with SB438. This one passed nicely out of the Senate, and hopefully finds the same support in the House. In House Business & Labor, Santella Baglivo the secretary – sbaglivo@mt.gov.

I’m going to have to split this post, people, so please click Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread

Well, a hell of a week, I’d say. Yesterday, especially, was really a WTF? With Bozeman still in major catastrophic mode, an early morning quake rocked the area – 4.2 – centered just south of Whitehall. Not good for a bunch of former buildings now laying like sticks. News reports used the words minor, and moved on…but my thought was “4.2? Hell, that’s enough to rattle some stuff off walls.” A short time later, downtown Whitehall was on fire. The Bozeman Chronicle reports this morning that at least 5 businesses are a loss.

Frequent 4&20 commenter goof hoolihan has added his observations and after-thoughts to Pete’s post – this morning was another.

The whole downtown Main Street will be suffering from the affects of this for quite a while. Don’t rule Bozeman out for a ski trip for the last few weekends here of ski season, folks – many of those businesses in that area – while vehicle traffic might not be possible – will be open for foot traffic. Many of the open businesses are going to help out and employ – in these tough economic times – their neighbors who are unemployed because they don’t have a building to go to. They’ll need some extra consumers. Keep that in mind.

And with that one woman still missing, rescue and recovery works? Safety first.

I actually started this V&S about two weeks ago? Maybe three? So picking up from there….

Back then, the Obama Administration is considering a lift of the ban on media coverage of returning fallen soldiers. A little over a week later, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced the ban would be lifted.

Also from the NY Times, a graphic presentation of 2008’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wherein I find out that my Britta water filter is fairly worthless. The Atlantic has the story.

Wulfgar! did a great piece on the Republican folly aftermath of President Obama’s State of the Union address.

The whole Michael Steele/Rush Limbaugh thing has been fascinating. I had happened to catch the interview that has initiated the whole most recent conservative firing squad – it was on the D.L. Hughley show on CNN. DL circled in – with a co-host – on Steele, pushing him on not only his party’s failure to address black issues, but on how Rush was really the leader of the party. How if Steele was really the leader of the party, wouldn’t he and the party want to marginalize someone who openly spoke of wanting our President to fail? How speaking that way is very contradictory to what Republican’s have been accusing Democrats of doing for the last 8 years?…

Steele mealy-mouthed his way through the interview, and finally gave Hughley what he was looking for – Steele saying Rush wasn’t leader. Neither statement there lasted long – Steele has been under attack form conservatives since then – he’s apologized to Limbaugh, and he’s had to take down his blog at the RNC because of the overwhelmingly critical posts coming from conservatives.

DL Hughley? His show was cancelled on Thursday in a release titled DL Hughley takes new role at CNN.

Guess Rush Limbaugh, an OxyContin and hydrocodone-loving buffoon, really is the head of the RNC.

Bunk the West takes on rural healthcare issues.

Pogie tells us about Sen. Bob Story’s pathetic defense of not funding CHIP in the state house. He also feigned some tears for the poor professionals who make more than $250,000 a year, who are belly-achin’ about Obama’s tax plan.

The Button Valley Bugle brings us a history of a house that had to be burned before it fell into the river – with a nifty picture, don’t miss it – and a call, again, for support of the Big Sky Rivers Act. This one is still in the House, folks…let’s give it a lift and tell that House Natural Resources Committee to get it moving!

Help out if you can for pancreatic cancer research? There is a 7-week challenge going on, that requires but a few seconds of your time at a keyboard. Karbon Kounty Moos tells you all about it. Small things really do make a difference. The keyboard can be mightier than the sword.

Robert Struckman is back, blogging for Montana Change That Works, a project of SEIU, the Service Employees International Union..a very very fine group of people. Don’t miss his stuff over at Left in the West

One more…

Politics, Peaks, and Valleys had a nice thorough analysis of the early pickin’s in Montana’s U.S. congressional race. Insider v. outsider: Who’ll bloody Rehberg? I’m very much enjoying that blog over there…

by jhwygirl

Ana J. Beard has agreed to join us here at 4&20blackbirds, and I, for one, can’t be more thrilled.

Pete, you might recall, first introduced us to Ana with this post: A student’s response to censorship.

Ana’s voice is one of many of the next generation that will run this nation. Too often youth is discounted as not having enough experience, I’ll tell you – as I watch the Matt Singers and Jamee Greers and Molly Moodys of the world, I know that thinking that way couldn’t be more wrong.

Ana is a senior at Hellgate itching to graduate and move on to “the big bad world”. She’s the copy editor for the yearbook and editorials editor of the Lance, the Hellgate school newspaper. Ana finds extreme happiness in publishing articles dealing with controversial topics, with questionable headlines, and questionable photos to go along with said articles. She likes to ruffle feathers and she loves to see the reactions. Aside from practically living in the journalism room at Hellgate and working on the yearbook or Lance (or simply sleeping on the couch) she enjoys going to Walmart at 2 in the morning to buy random arts and crafts supplies. :)

Please join me in welcoming Ana J. Beard to 4&20blackbirds.

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

Please consider this an open thread.

First some observations:

Supermontanareporter John S. Adams made his debut this week with The Lowdown, his blog for breaking news, notes and insights from the Capital City of Helena. This is one to watch, as he is the man up there on the marble, doing some fine legislative reporting. Professional-style, for the Great Falls Tribune.

Wulfgar! kept busy this week, but my favorite was this one. I love his football stuff – especially when he picks the Steelers.

Which reminds me: Go Steelers

The Polish Wolf and Liz were back at Intelligent Discontent…Pogie, too, of course – who was right about Brad Johnson being wrong – officially wrong, as it turns out.

The GO – George Ochenski – kicked ass this week.

And you know he’s right.

Moving on…

The Kootanai River is considered one of the 11 Places to See Before They Disappear. Montana DEQ? FWP? DNRC? Are you listening?

You read about this stuff, but rarely do you get the pictures. This guy’s got to be embarrassed: He shot, tagged and gutted llama, thinking it was an elk.

Bush/Cheney lost a big one in the courts last week. Barely a whimper was heard, what with all the Obamathon preparations under way. But will it be the last, or is it a first shot fired across the bow?

Let’s just say that I’m thinking it’s a first shot. With opinionators like this out there, the drums are beating. Bush might want to enjoy Camp David this weekend, because his rest might short-lived.

Mother Jones tells us that it takes less time to bake tuna casserole or apply for temporary assistance than it does to apply for a bailout. As they note in the end, the only thing that takes longer is a credit card application, which takes about 2 minutes.

Circuit City says bye-bye.

Googling may not be good for the environment.

Bored? Hallucinate.

What are Kansas citizens eating? Racooon meat.

Wow. Whadda ya say after that?

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread.

First off, Missoula went and had itself an earthquake yesterday. Thanks Freeranger!

Secondly, we’ve got some bloggers getting back in gear, and others shifting into second….

Pogie got a number of posts up this week, including one critical of the Billings Gazette’s decision to glorify a local white supremacist group, and another bringing us the news that Montana’s sole and only Representative Dennis Rehberg is explaining to us why women shouldn’t be expecting equal pay for equal work.

Wulfar! is back in fine form: Never afraid to take on anyone, he goes after Harry Reid in one post, Senator Diane Feinstein in another, and Israel in yet another. And that’s just three up from this week. In another post he shows my Steelers some love.

Which, BTW, GO STEELERS!

Politics, Peaks, and Valleys politicspeaksvalleys does up some news for us too – the Nobel Peace Prize nomination of Bozemanite Greg Mortenson. Another post, regarding Plum Creek and it’s withdrawal of plans to gain ‘clarified’ deeds from the USFS, contains some additional information that hasn’t been in just about all the other stuff that’s been in print about the issue.

Don’t know who politicspeaksvalleys is, but I’m reading. Nice double meaning there too – Politic Speaks Valleys.

NewWest’s Struckman is baaaack……….

Meanwhile, in other news..

I’m noticing that you can now check a box when you comment and get email notification of subsequent comments. Cool.

Oregon is among a number of states contemplating taxing mileage instead of gallons. They’re worried that hybrids and high-mileage vehicles could shrink their gas tax revenues, which largely pay for road upkeep.

Porn bailout.

Now, what do you even say about that? Seriously?

I’m seriously saying seriously too much.

Remember the earthquake swarms in Yellowstone? Well, a guy had done up a fake website warning people to evacuate a 100 mile radius immediately. He used some USGS information to make it look real, and faked himself out as a geologist in a YouTube video. I had seen in and thought “what an idiot” – well, the Feds apparently saw it too, and now he’s more than an idiot – he’s a criminal.

Looks like Ravalli County will be home to Montana’s first housing co-op.

Call this one When Pandas Attack.

Addicted to blogging, tweeting, facebook, or your RSS feed? Take the Polly Frost Reblocking Seminar!

Finally….

The Goat Blog of High Country News calls on Obama to pick Kemmis to run the Department of Interior or Agriculture. Bozemanite Ray Ring (who writes the piece) makes quite the case for Kemmis.

Whoops! One more, if you please….

GO STEELERS!

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread. You all know I’d pay you if I could!

Want to win a trip to the inauguration? Plane tickets, hotel, tickets to the swearing in ceremony and attendence to one of the balls can all be yours if your essay (it’s a writing contest) is picked. They want to know what the inauguration means to you. Contest closes January 8th.

Most GOP’rs, on the other hand, are taking a vacation

Chris LaTray cracks me up with his view of Griz zealousness and, let’s just say, other stuff. Must read.

Butte blogger EcoRover has a report and some great pics from a tribute held in Butte for Rep. George Groesbeck, Jr., who passed away last month.

For those of you interested in earthquake and volcanoes and such like that – and who may be following the recent swarms at Lake, Yellowstone – here are the last 9 days of webicorder (electronic seismogram) displays. The swarms began the afternoon of the 26th of December.

California is prepping up to pay its bills with IOU’s. That would include tax refunds and payments to vendors who provide services and products to the state. That will occur unless legislators can make a deficit busting deal with the Governator. Or, perhaps, is yet another bailout on the way for the world’s 5th largest economy?

The following story is both shocking and ironic. I promise.

Jennifer, an 88-year old woman was startled by a naked man who entered her home:

I thought it was someone I knew, but seeing him without clothing, you know it’s someone you don’t know

You have to watch the video. She had the fortitude to grab him by the balls and not let go until he (we’ll assume) ran out writhing in pain. Police found the guy (naked being easy to spot, perhaps?) The final irony? The guys name was Michael Dick.

Here’s another one where you have to click the link

Man arrested for farting at police officer. The picture, alone, is worth it. Somehow, I expect problembear to eventually work that into a post.

Speaking of bad air….

Missoula has some of the worse air in Montana. Only Lincoln County is worse. Gallatin and Ravalli aren’t much better.

And finally, in closing…..

Are bailouts for newspapers next? I heard a short blurb on Fox News Radio that led me to go and find those two stories.

by jhwygirl

The Center for Public Integrity (link there, over on the right, under Citizen’s Info), has listed NewWest Network as one of its Top 10 Websites for 2008.

So congratulations are in order, I’d say!

Congratulations Courtney, Jonathan, and Robert – and everyone else. Quite an accomplishment, I’d say. Not only has the Center for Public Integrity been a fav of mine for some time, they’ve put you all on a list with High Country News and Talking Points Memo. Mighty fine company.

Great start for a new year for NewWest!

by jhwygirl

A while back, I asked: How would you improve your local paper?

Today, former gubernatoral candidate and every liberal blogger’s favorite, Pogie, of Intelligent Discontent, puts forth a nicely detailed analysis of the general problems, as he sees it, with newspapers. He goes further and talks about what he sees in Helena with the Independent Record.

He hits on the lack of detail in local news. In our previous post here, the lack of local news was generally agreed upon. Pogie’s post goes one step further, citing the lack of detailed analysis. Perhaps a valid statement – which may be why us new junkies here pointed to the lack of local news as one of the Missoulian’s problems. Maybe it isn’t so much the lack of local news, but the lack of meat-and-potatoes to the local news. Issues don’t die after the vote – and beyond that – why are we only hearing about stuff within days of hearing. Isn’t the paper publishing legal notices? Don’t the get the heads-up weeks (if not months) ahead of time? A lot of stuff is moving through the process for a good deal of time.

In the end, all of us – even you readers, I dare say – love reading, love newspapers. We want survival, and change needs to be part of it.

A worthy and important conversation to have. Go join in.

by jhwygirl

On neither the county nor the city website could I find a “Missoula City-County Air Pollution Control Board,” but in last Thursday’s paper, tucked away in the legal notices on page C8 was this notice:

On December 18, 2008 at 12:15 p.m., the Missoula City-County Air Pollution Control Board will hold a public hearing concerning the Department’s decision to issue an air quality permit to T&T Contracting for a gravel crusher operation at the Monroe Pit near River Road and Reserve Street, Missoula County (at Section 17 Township 13N, Range 19W.) The hearing will be held in teh second floor conference room at 301 West Alder. Public comment will be accepted by the Board at the hearing. Interested persons may also submit written comments to the Board on or before December 16, 2008 at 301 W Alder St., Missoula, MT 59802 or by emailing Bob Schmidt at schmidth@ho.missoula.mt.us. A copy of the permit, administrative hearing proceedings and the department’s responses to public comment is available by contacting the Environmental Health Division, 258-4755 and at http://www.co.missoula.mt.us/EnvHealth.

The pit is located in a county inholding – an island of county-zoned land, surrounded by city zoned land. The city can’t annex industrial or agricultural land, so the operation – despite it’s affects on the surrounding residential neighbornood – isn’t subject to city laws.

There are currently no gravel crushing operations at the site – but this newly issued permit will allow one to operate. It will also add electrical generators. T&T is a new business that will be operating there.

Neighbors in the River Road neighborhood where the pit is located have dealt with numerous health issues for years. Overwhelming dust, trucks running 24/7. They’ve witnessed violations of heavy equipment incursions into the river. Pages 3 and 4 of the minutes from a previously held meeting detail the conundrums presented by this county inholding and its status in state law. Jim Carlson sums it up here:

The state of Montana does provide for public nuisance type lawsuits and individual lawsuits, even though the government may not be able to be involved in those. That’s something that you may want to talk to your own attorney’s about. I’m just trying to give an overview of the fact that there isn’t a holistic permitting process. I think we’re one of the only permits that provides for the ability to have public review and public comment on the permit. It’s unfortunate but this is the way it is. To that extent, you know, it’s important that you comment to your legislature that you would like to see some things changed. Certainly with regard to noise ordinances, that may be something that could be accomplished in this upcoming session.

Frankly, this pit is a nuisance on the mere existence of it and the danger it faces to the whole community. This past year’s high water event – nothing compared to what the Clark Fork will will eventually bring to town – threatened to capture this very gravel operation and make an end run around the Reserve Street Clark Fork bridge.

Think traffic is bad now?

Imagine the City severed by no Reserve Street bridge? Imagine the emergency issues…the traffic.

Consider this: This past year’s high water event really wasn’t atypical. Talk to old timers and they’ll tell you. And water came darned close to capturing that operation as it was.

That operation down there is not only a nuisance to the neighborhood, it’s a nuisance to MDOT, to the State of Montana. Think of the astronomical cost it would present should that bridge be effectively castrated. It’s a nuisance to the City, to the County and the taxpayers of the entire state.

Think of how communities around the state will feel when highway funds are redirected to build Missoula a new bridge when a major state highway – perhaps the state’s busiest? – is severed because of gravel pit next to the river where everyone with any common sense knew that the darned thing would be captured by a high water event one day.

So while the Director of Environmental Health Jim Carlson says that “The state of Montana does provide for public nuisance type lawsuits and individual lawsuits, even though the government may not be able to be involved in those,” I think he is slightly wrong there.

While I’m being critical here of Carlson’s statement, when you read through the minutes, it seems apparent to me that there is a certain level of frustration coming from the City-County Health Department with regards to the operations located there adjacent to the river.

I point out that this bridge is a nuisance because:
#1 – this neighborhood needs help.
#2 – this nuisance is more than just a neighborhood issue
#3 – waiting for the inevitable – the river will eventually capture this pit and make an end run around the bridge – is ridiculously foolish and cost.

Yee gads, someone: Do something before we’re without a bridge and stuck holding a multi-million dollar years long cluster of a mess to fix.

by Pete Talbot

After reading jhwygirl’s various and sundry for the weekend, I stumbled across a few stories that also deserve attention.

First, I get most of my information the old-fashioned way: newspapers. As a matter of fact, most of the nuggets in this post were gleaned from local, regional and national newspapers.

So, this news, that the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News are drastically cutting newspaper delivery was a downer. Of course, staffs and content will also be cut. And as the New York Times explains in the story, other papers around the country may follow suit.

Will the Internet pick up the slack? It seems unlikely since online revenue from websites is a fraction of the revenue generated by advertising in the old, dead tree editions.

What about our local newspapers? Well, one of the Missoula Independent’s cheap holiday gift ideas were shares of stock in Lee Enterprises (publisher of the Missoulian, Ravalli Republic, Billings Gazette, Helena Independent-Record and Butte’s Montana Standard). Shares in Lee are going for around 50 cents, down 98 percent from a year ago.

I was surprised that the Indy included this in their list as I can’t imagine its profits are soaring, either, although it does fill a bit different niche.

Despite our criticism of local newspapers, reporters and editors, the demise of our dailies would be a great loss.

I gotta get me one of them dolls

Here’s an example of a local story that had me wondering in amazement. Reporter Jamie Kelly must have had a hard time writing this piece with a straight face.

Any doll that says “Islam is the light” or “Satan is king” deserves a place under my Christmas tree. Please, K-Mart, put them back on the shelf.

The financial crisis explained

Another reason I love my paper is the comics. When I was a kid in Wisconsin, I’d read the Chicago Tribune’s comics at my grandfather’s knee: Dick Tracy, L’il Abner, Mark Trail (Dick Tracy had this cool two-way wrist radio — the predecessor to today’s cell phone).

I still read the comics everyday. Saturday’s Dilbert unravels the mysteries of the current financial meltdown.

A conundrum

So here I sit, writing about the glories of newspapers on this blog site — a format that probably doesn’t reinforce, for the most part, newspaper readership.

And old 4&20 Blackbirds is doing OK. Sometime on Friday, around 4 p.m., we got our 400,000th visit. While this isn’t huge in terms of Daily Kos or Huffington Post, it ain’t bad for a local blog.

Kudos to Jay Stevens, who started this blog; jhwygirl, the site’s current bread-and-butter writer; Rebecca Schmitz (best headlines); our newest contributor, problembear; Jamie, Jason, et al.

And thanks to our readers and especially those who contribute comments.





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