Archive for the ‘Bozeman’ Category

by jhwygirl

This all I got, and it’s minutes old.

It’s that big.

From D. Gregory Smith’s twitter feed:

@Dgsma: MT Democratic Party approves platform amendment supporting full marriage equality for gays and lesbians #MTPol #Equality #guts

UPDATE

It’s a beautiful thing, and I poached it from D. Gregory Smith’s From Here to Eternity. I really hope he doesn’t mind. He’s got it printed out over there, too – so go read it.

Missoula’s CBS KPAX news led the 10 o’clock with the story. They even interviewed Jamee Greer, spokesperson and lobbyist for the Montana Human Rights Network.

The Missoulian, too, got this piece up from Charles S. Johnson shortly after the news broke. It’s got some good background.

This will certainly make this year’s Montana Pride 2012 event even more celebratory next weekend in Bozeman.

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by jhwygirl

Lots of people have been asking me – today alone I had 3 people ask me about their ballots. There are only a handful of votes I’m certain about, and for Montana’s next U.S. Representative, Bozeman’s Franke Wilmer is my choice, hand’s down, as the best person to represent Montana’s interests in Washington D.C.

Wilmer’s been a favorite around this blog going back to at least 2009. In a politically schizophrenic town like Bozeman – who doesn’t seem to be either Republican or Democrat – Wilmer’s been elected to the state House 3 times, showing she knows how to represent her constituents who are clearly a mixed bag.

I mentioned the women’s gathering in Helena a few weeks back? Here’s Franke Wilmer speaking to the crowd of about 250 people that gathered that day.

I already know Wilmer’s record. I’ve watched her in 3 legislative sessions now, and I know Wilmer knows her issues. I also know she knows how to speak to them. What I like about this video is it shows the thoroughness with which Wilmer approaches the issues. It’s that kind of knowledge that gives her the voice of conviction needed for Montanan’s (and the rest of the U.S.) in Washington D.C. right now.

If I had signed up for absentee ballot, I’d show you a picture of her dot blackened…but for now I will continue to endorse Franke Wilmer to anyone who asks (and those of you reading here.)

(In a fuller disclosure, I’ll note that this last session, Franke departed from one very key issue I wrote extensively about, even before the session began: Eminent domain. That bill passed, and Schweitzer signed it into law. Still stings for me and many others. Regardless, I’m moving on.)

by jhwygirl

I’ve seen way more than just 40 coal trains heading west on the Burlington Northern to Seattle where the toxic mercury and arsenic laden coal will be exported to China…and that number is sure to increase with the impending approval of the Youngs Creek railroad which will move a significant amount of Wyoming’s more higher quality coal through Montana on it’s way to China.

Missoulians are concerned about this carcinogenic coal moving through their backyards. In March the Yellowstone Valley Citizens Council gathered over 100 people along with economists, government officials and railroad representative for a two-day conference which discussed the impacts of this coal traffic…while Yellowstone County Commissioners refused to discuss the impacts.

Tomorrow, the Northern Plains Resource Council will host a public meeting and panel to discuss the impacts of the increased coal train traffic traveling through Bozeman. At 7 p.m., in Bozeman’s gorgeous and recently remodeled Public Library’s large conference room, four Montana residents and energy experts will gather and offer their insight into the issue:
– Beth Kaeding, Northern Plains Resource Council: overview of the situation.
– Clint McRae, landowner near Colstrip: impacts to the land and agriculture.
– Dr. Richard Damon, retired physician: health issues and concerns.
– John Vincent, Public Service Commissioner: alternative energy options and solutions.

China has notoriously dangerous and dirty mines. Just as exploitation of workers here in the U.S. in the late 1800’s resulted in unionization and regulation of the industry, Chinese workers are demanding higher pay and greater regulation. Instead, what is China doing? Seeking their coal here, at a time that the market for coal has declined in the United States. U.S. coal companies are planning to export more coal to lucrative Asian markets from the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming. The most direct route is by rail to the West Coast. Across Montana.

From Beth Kaeding: “With up to 40 additional coal trains, full and empty, passing through Bozeman each day, it’s time for the community to come together to discuss what this will mean to our lives. There will be increased traffic congestion and noise as well as public safety and public health concerns that we need to understand.”

The Northern Plains Resource Council is a fine grassroots group that is comprised of ranchers and resource managers working to effectively balance economic resource development and the Montana natural resources that are the world’s treasures.

When I ask “What is Montana without i’s water?” I know that NPRC is working to ensure that none of us ever have to contemplate a Montana whose rivers aren’t something our children couldn’t enjoy.

by jhwygirl

Let me clarify that I mean Missoulians and Bozemanites are slacking, but not for lack of signature gatherers. People – you need to stop and sign these petitions (the eminent domain one too) when you see them!

Just about every b’birder here took the legislature to task on SB423 this past session – as did Montanafesto – the bill otherwise known as the Medical Marijuana reform Repeal bill.

The bill authored, incidentally, by Sen. Jeff Essmann who recently announced he will be entertaining a run for Governor…which had been written here back in early June.

Montanafesto carried on the cause, and has been working on signature gathering for a repeal of SB423 – Initiative Referendum 124.

On of the most obnoxious things about the so-called Marijuana Reform bill of the last legislative session was that it repealed a 2004 Citizen’s Initiative which assured medical marijuana for patients here in Montana.

Let’s be clear about how obnoxious this unconstitutional SB423 is – a judge has already placed an injunction halting implementation of most of it.

Collecting signatures for IR124 has been a bit harder than expected – though the training required for all signature gatherers has paid off with a high percentage of valid signatures. Intimidation and arrests of caregivers has cut down access for patients, which in turn has reduced the number of signatures gathered.

Who’s leading the pack on signatures? Yellowstone County. A bit shocking considering Missoula is supposedly filled with a bunch of pot-smoking hippy activists who will organize for anything.

Signature gathering ends September 30th.

The Montana Cannabis Industry Association is the lead group pursuing the lawsuit which has resulted in the injunction which has all but halted implementation of SB423….and they are in need of funding to continue to fight the appeal the State has made of that decision.

Shame on Bullock and Governor Schweitzer for wasting taxpayer money pursuing such an unconstitutional bill that has ignored a recent and overwhelmingly approved Citizen’s Initiative .

So if you can help out with a donation, hit this link or put a check in the mail to their address here.

You can also use that last link to contact MTCIA for information on where signatur gatherers will be across the state. I’m kinda hoping they might add to the comments here – Labor Day Weekend, I’m sure there’s lots of events where petition gatherers will be active.

by jhwygirl

Every year, the Montana Pride Network puts on a gathering somewhere in Montana to celebrate diversity and equality. This year’s celebration was held in Bozeman, which rolled out a gracious welcome to all who attended this state-level event held June 17th, 18th and 19th.

In the video below you’ll see starting around the 30 second mark our own fabulous b’birder (albeit infrequent, but we don’t hold it against him because he is doing really fabulous work with the Montana Human Rights Network) Jamee Greer. You’ll also see another person whom I respect, Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss, speaking on the important of equality. Most politicians here in Montana wouldn’t speaking so publicly on this issue – Krauss proposed Bozeman’s equality ordinance at the first public meeting after he took office.

“You Are Loved” is the title:

You Are Loved from Wet Paint Studios on Vimeo.

The video was done by Wet Paint Studios. It is a film partnership started by Vanessa Naive and Jeff Dougherty, and this is their first video documentary. You can also hit that link and go to their facebook…but I’m all yucky on facebook, so I’m not linking it here.

:)

I look forward to the day that equality for all is just the way it is. That we don’t even have to talk about equality or gay marriage as if gay marriage is different from marriage. I long for a day when government stays out of churches and churches stay out of government. How can one human being deny another human being his human right to express love?

The time is coming. Equality is coming. Let’s bring it here faster by speaking openly in support of equality, whether you are straight, gay, lesbian or queer. We are all brothers and sisters. It’s time to speak for each other.

by jhwygirl

Word is that Sen. Jeff Essmann is preparing to add his name to the pile – and I do mean pile – of Montana Republicans seeking to the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

His soon-to-be entry brings the number of candidates on the GOP side up to a 6-count: Rick Hill (who will quickly reduced to “Rick who?” after Essmann’s entry); former state senator Ken Miller (going for a second shot after losing to Bob Brown in a 2004 run for the GOP nomination); Cory Stapleton, another former state senator; Neil Livingstone, some sort of national security I-don’t-know-what; and Jim O’Hara, a Choteau County Commissioner.

Essmann’s fame of late is authoring the medical marijuana repeal bill that Governor Schweitzer allowed to lapse into law. He met recently with medical marijuana advocates, and apparently it didn’t go over too well.

Democrats have two declared candidates: Sen. Dave Wanzenried of Missoula and DINO Sen. Larry Jent of Bozeman. Jent was quite the advocate for repeal, and in fact much has been said behind closed doors of his and as-of-yet undeclared Attorney General Steve Bullock involvement in the state-wide raids that still remain without indictment (while leaving behind dozens of damaged commercial properties.)

I’ve got a number of reasons for why I don’t want Bullock to run, but one I’ll put out there is that the AG office is pretty important and Steve has worked towards seeking beneficial solutions for Montana consumers.

Incumbency has advantages and energy and funds should be funneled prudently.

In other words – wait until 2016.

For me, I’m going with Wanzenried. I’ve been a fan for some time. He’s fiscally prudent and practicle. Wanzenried knows how to work across the aisle, and he’s gained a tremendous amount of respect from all sides of everything up there in Helena.

Wanzenried is also one of the hardest-working senators this state has, and his experience on the legislative side could go a long way. One of the larger errors of Schweitzer’s administration is his lack of active productive participation in the legislative process, especially when it starts getting all haywire. This session could have used some guidance instead of showboating – which, while showy and great for the camera really did nothing more than throw more divisiveness into the already toxic mix.

You simply don’t see Wanzenried playing into that. He’ll discuss issues with analysis and a presentation of the issues. That’s the kind of leadership I want to see.

Most recently, Sen. Wanzenried has stepped up front-and-center rallying against HB198, this last session’s abomination “Eminent Domain Bill” which hands private property taking rights to private corporations. Wanzenried’s also successfully pushed through the senate a bill to abolish the death penalty the last two sessions, only to have it die in the House.

In fact, I’m still wanting to write up Wanzenried’s statement on that ugly bill – and I WILL get to it one day. Sen. Wanzenried was the only Senator of the Missoula delegation to vote against HB198. (As for the house delegation, Rep. Ellie Hill was the sole Missoula rep. to maintain a “NO” vote for HB198.)

Want to get an idea of the name recognition and early polling on Montana’s 2012 election? Jack the Blogger over at Western World has some stats on the 2012 races in a post from back in February.

Footnote: When is the SOS going to update for the 2012 election? The list of candidates is still from the 2010.The SOS office can’t register candidates until January 1st, which answers my question.

by jhwygirl

Oh boy…what? A new union? Those crazy liberals!

Yeah…no.

Dairgold Creamery in Bozeman is laying off 2/3 of its workforce – 35 to 40 people. It’s cheaper to send raw milk to Salt Lake City (which is, incidentally, hiring) for pasteurization and will save Dairgold trucking miles and costs.

My heart goes out to those workers and their families. Those were undoubtedly good stable jobs. Then there’s the tax base.

Well – I’m in for co-opting it. A dairy co-op. Buy the thing, Montana – just like the local co-op grocery store. Don’t let Dairgold dismantle the thing like Smurfit intended…or like Stimson who is letting its whole facility cave in and rot on stilts (as they are doing with dozens of historic homes in Bonner).

Montana needs to continue value-adding to its raw dairy products. Montana-made milk. Yogurt. Ice Cream. While I’m more of a soy-milk fan, I don’t see that about to break any trend here in Montana….so milk is a pretty stable commodity, I’d say.

It all starts with an idea. Sitting around and saying “oh well,” doesn’t work.

By Duganz

If you haven’t yet, take time this weekend to download and read through “Three Cups of Deceit” by Jon Krakauer. It’s free, well written, and will leave a terrible taste in your mouth.

If you have been living under a rock this last week let me summarize the week’s biggest scandal: Greg Mortenson, Bozeman resident, best selling author, and head of the Central Asia Institute, is a big fat liar covered in liar sauce.

Krakauer details each of the lies Mortenson told in his book “Three Cups of Tea,” which include: falsifying why he built a school in Korphe, Pakistan, misappropriating funds from the non-profit CAI (to the tune of over $7million), lying about a kidnapping, and not building schools he’s claimed to have built! There’s more, but I want to encourage you to read the small, free book rather than just watch the 60 Minutes episode that rehashes (poorly) Krakauer’s work.

People have been coming to Mortenson’s defense all week, with his biggest defense coming from Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times. Kristof has written about Mortenson before, and admits in his column that he’s a big fan, and tries to downplay Mortenson, in effect, stealing money from a non-profit.

I don’t know what to make of these accusations. Part of me wishes that all this journalistic energy had been directed instead to ferret out abuses by politicians who allocate government resources to campaign donors rather than to the neediest among us, but that’s not a real answer. The critics have raised serious questions that deserve better answers: we need to hold school-builders accountable as well as fat cats.

Kristof drops that nugget, along with others, to mount his defense of Mortenson based on this: sure he may have lied, but he did do good–the idea being that his works outweigh his sins. As Kristof says, “…even if all the allegations turn out to be true, Greg has still built more schools and transformed more children’s lives than you or I ever will.”

Fine. But that doesn’t excuse Greg Mortenson lying, and deceiving good people giving up their money to make the world a better place. Mortenson’s work, and his lies, are separate issues. Yes, he’s done good, but he’s also a lying shit. Those two facts can exist simultaneously. Education for Afghan girls: Good. Misusing charitable funds for personal gain: fucking evil.

Also, this is not only about good deeds vs lies. It comes down to the fact that Mortenson has been accused (and I think the evidence adds up) of misusing donated money for personal gain. As Krakauer points out in his book, Mortenson uses CAI funds to travel to speaking engagements where he recounts the lies in his books. Upon giving his talk he is reimbursed by the event promoters. But, Mortenson does not then reimburse CAI. (FYI, flying out of Bozeman, Montana costs a fair penny.)

Even Kristof takes a moment from his ham-fisted stroke job of a column to say, “I am deeply troubled that only 41 percent of the money raised in 2009 went to build schools…”

Lying is never good, and using good deeds to justify lies is immoral. I don’t know, nor do I understand, why Greg Mortenson felt he needed to lie to justify his good deeds. I only know that he was wrong to deceive people, and wrong to waste their money on his own frivolity.

Greg Mortenson is not a hero, he’s a lying shit who also did some good. Hopefully a better person will come along to pick up his cause, with honesty.

Mortenson, chilling with his "Taliban kidnappers," who were not Taliban, and also did not kidnap him.

by jhwygirl

Aside from my own personal feelings on texting-while-driving regulations (texting only being pretty much unenforceable) the Montana GOP sent quite a message in the legislature on Friday, such that Senate Minority Leader Carol Williams at the end of the day called it “Black Friday” and “the absolute worst day of the legislative session.”

HB516 moves forward out of Senate Judiciary to a floor vote probably Monday. Amendments were made on Friday that aim it at ordinances only, leaving intact Bozeman’s equality resolution. (Search HB516 here for more background.)

The conservative attack on the budget was in full mode in Senate Finance Friday morning, and among the leaders speaking out against unnecessary cuts and a lack of priorities were the governor’s budget director David Ewer and Health & Human Services Director Anna Whiting-Sorrel. The message was loud and clear from Schweitzer’s office – and even Bloomberg Businessweek picked up the story.

There was more, and to be honest, I am ill-informed on the entirety of it all. As for the topic at hand, though…..

HB241, a bill that would make texting-while-driving illegal, with a $100 fine was postponed indefinitely on the floor of the Senate after passing Senate Judiciary on an 8-4 vote. The bill was proposed by Sen. Christine Kaufmann.

Match that up with the House Judiciary tabling Senator Tom Facey’s bill which would have taken Montana’s laws which make intercourse between two consenting people of the same sex illegal.

SB276 cleared the Republican-controlled Senate with a 49-1 vote.

That law is, btw, unconstitutional under the Montana Constitution….and it is also proudly part of the Montana Republican Party platform.

The Montana GOP is an embarrassment.

I wonder if the House Republicans have the guts to allow it to a floor blast vote.

If they don’t allow a floor blast vote, they’re cowards.

by jhwygirl

The state’s Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked on HB161, the bill proposed by House Speaker Mike Milburn, that would repeal Montana’s Citizen Initiative 148, which passed in 2004

Sen. Milburn is a resident of Cascade, a member of the Grand Old Party and a man working on his 4th term in the House.

We can go on and on about the evils of repealing a citizen’s initiative that passed (I hear) by an pretty significant majority…and we can go on about the evils of the refusal of legislators to actually actively regulate marijuana since it having come into law (that would be 3 sessions, folks)…and we can go on about the hypocrisy of a bunch of so called conservatives creating more nanny state government…AND we can go on about the hypocrisy of a bunch of tea party anti-government types who embrace laws that tell the federal government that they can’t regulate Montana-made firearms yet don’t want to let sick people take proven medicine that has fewer side effects than Tylenol.

I’ll just link you to this article in the New York Times which quotes Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss on the job and investment-killing side effects of repealing medical marijuana in Montana:

Bozeman’s mayor, Jeff Krauss, a Republican, said he thought there was an element of economic fairness to be considered in the debate about medical marijuana’s future. “I don’t think anybody passed it thinking we were creating an industry,” he said, referring to the 2004 voter referendum. But like it or not, he said, it has become one, and legal investments in the millions of dollars have been made.

“Somewhere around 25 people have made anywhere from a $60,000 to a $100,000 bet on this industry,” Mr. Krauss said, referring to the local startups and their capital costs.

“Now the Legislature has got us saying, ‘Ha, too bad, you lose,’ ” Mr. Krauss added. “Boy is that a bad message to send when we’re in the doldrums.”

I could of worked “Even MORE National Media Attention for MTGOP” into the title!

HB161 stalled 6-6 in committee. I don’t know if they officially declared it dead, but Senate Judiciary committee chair Terry Murphy immediately named a three-member committee to come up with “a regulatory alternative” to a repeal bill.

That’s a large order on a short notice (how many days left in the session?) but a whole hell of a lot common sense. And frankly, the Senate Judiciary might just be one of the only places where common sense even has a fighting chance.

I always did think the GOP in the Senate were going to try and bring a little bit of common sense back to this session.

Murphy’s hearings have been far less inflammatory than the House Judiciary (chaired by Rep. Ken Peterson, of Billings). Sen. Murphy even got a thank-you from Senate Minority Leader Sen. Carol Williams (Missoula’s Senate Goddess) for his well-run hearing on HB516 just yesterday.

That being said, let’s get to the other part….

What’s with Senator Larry Jent, a Democrat representing Bozeman for quite a number of years – 3 terms in the House and he’s currently working on his 3rd term in the Senate.

Jent was the lone Democrat to vote for repeal of medical marijuana. What to say about that?

by jhwygirl

We’ve written a number of times about Havre Montana Representative Kristen Hansen’s pro-hate bill HB516.

In brief summary, the bill would nullify Bozeman and Missoula’s equality ordinances – Bozeman’s of which extended equal protections to all its employees and Missoula’s, a more extensive ordinance which extended equal protection to gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered individuals in the City of Missoula. It survived at least 3 attempts at recall petitions, and received overwhelming support from Missoula’s community when the hearing was held.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the Senate. More specifically, I don’t want to think about what’s going to happen in the Senate. The facts are that this is a hate bill and there is no overwhelming state interest at hand that requires the legislature to attack local government rule and authority.

It is also hate.

If the real issue were some conflict with the Montana Human Rights Act, then Hansen and the rest of the hate mongers out there that voted in approval of this thing in the house would be proposing a bill that added GBLT individuals to the protections under the Title 49.

That hypocrisy is exhibited by the fact that the same committee that approved HB516 also killed HB514 which would have extended equal protections under the Montana Human Rights Act.

In ridiculously transparent hypocrisy, House Judiciary members argued in favor for HB516 saying that GLBT individuals were already protected under Title 49’s Montana Human Rights Act while the very same people listed to testimony and voted against HB514.

HB514 also failed a blast motion on the floor.

Hypocrites.

Republican Representatives Steve Fitzpatrick (Great Falls),Steve Gibson (E. Helena), Brian Hoven (Great Falls), and Max Yates (Butte) split from their party – all voting against HB516 and in support of equality and local government control.

Fitzpatrick and Gibson stuck with their no votes on the blast motion for HB514.

The hearing for HB516 is Monday, March 14th at 3 p.m. in Room 405, Senate Local Government committee.

by jhwygirl

There is a bill geared at denying equality to certain people in Montana that will be heard in legislative committee today. It applies retroactively in an effort to quash Missoula and Bozeman’s equality ordinances which extended protections to gays, lesbians and transgendered persons (Bozeman’s not being as far reaching).

There was also some quick maneuvering of the schedule to bring this to hearing…and the committee moved up their start time to 7 a.m. to boot. This bill was introduced on the floor first reading just last Saturday. Special treatment, I’d say.

In addition, along with the quick schedule changes there has been an ongoing discussion about comments. This legislature, controlled by a majority GOP, so they’re holding every committee chair, has been quite disciplined about public comment to the point of a FOX news fair-and-balanced point of view. Equal time, regardless of the number of people.

Now-I understand the need to set some limits – but to just stop the public from comment? I would highly suggest that you take a moment, if you haven’t, to listen to or watch a committee session to see what I mean. I have it on channel 67.

Wisconsin is doing at least one thing right out there – they went overnight in testimony the other night to allow everyone who wanted to testify, testify.

Nothing like last year’s bridge access hearing, as an example, which went on to darn near midnight if not later. Just to allow testimony from everyone that wanted to testify.

In House Judiciary tomorrow (with the meeting starting at 7) HB516, a bill entitled “AN ACT PROHIBITING LOCAL GOVERNMENTS FROM ENACTING ORDINANCES, RESOLUTIONS, OR POLICIES THAT CONTAIN, AS A PROTECTED CLASS, ANY CLASSIFICATION NOT SPECIFICALLY INCLUDED AS A PROTECTED CLASS UNDER STATE LAW; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE AND A RETROACTIVE APPLICABILITY DAT

It is proposed by a legislator out of Havre, Rep. Kristin Hansen.

Because, you know, Havre doesn’t want all those crazy Missoulians coming up that way and expecting equality and stuff.

In a serendipitous counterbalance, HB514, from Rep. Edie McClafferty, of Butte will be heard, a bill with a short title of “Protect sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.”

So we have yet another nanny-state Republican proposed bill – this one geared at stopping a Missoula ordinance that failed multiple referendum attempts.

Oh – and you know what local politicians here support this nanny-state big government bill? Councilors Dick Haines, Lyn Hellegaard and Renee Mitchell. Haines at least had the guts to vote “no” in committee to the City of Missoula opposing the oridnance. Lyn and Renee? The merely abstained.

Ward 5? Ward 4? You got some real hate-filled people representing you on city council. Let’s hope you do better next time around.

I know Bozeman’s Mayor Krauss will be there to testify. I’ve not heard who from Missoula’s local government will be there to represent, but I’d love to update if anyone knows.

House Judiciary won’t likely take executive action today. They wouldn’t have the guts, as there will undoubtedly be an huge number of people in opposition to this bill in attended. Please take the time to contact legislators and them know that Montana should be a state that supports equality. That Helena should stay out of running local government…and instead of trying to run local government, perhaps they should start funding it instead of making all kinds of “unfunded mandates” up there every session while limiting local taxing capability to 1/2 the rate of inflation.

You can use this online messaging form and contact the whole committee at one time, or by choosing a legislator. It does not appear that they’ve got software in there that allows you to pick more than one legislator at a time. Hopefully they’ll add that in the future. Or at least “up to 5” or something like that.

by jhwygirl

In this episode we refer you to Rep. Kristin Hansen (R-Havre) who introduced her pro-discrimination bill HB516 to the House with a first reading on Saturday.

A woman. How refreshing.

Hansen’s bill is designed to prohibit local government ordinances geared at promoting equality. It applies retroactively.

How’s that for conservative small-government? Jobs Jobs Jobs?

Rep. Hansen’s bill would violate the Montana Constitution along with the federal government’s based on current multiple Supreme Court precedents.

Will the GOP speak out to this hateful legislation? Isn’t there anything in this legislation that some true small-government privacy loving conservative doesn’t find offensive?

I do honestly make an effort to try and not lump all GOP together. It is becoming increasingly hard for me to do that. This is one bill where I certainly have an expectation for someone anyone in the GOP to come forward and speak out against this kind of hateful horrible legislation.

Certainly there are a few of you Republicans that think this sort of thing is wrong?

Failing that, it makes it hard not to lump ’em all together. There are dangerous ideas here that need confronted. This is one of them.

As for Rep. Kristen Hansen? You can bet she’s no lawyer (but she’ll be able to play one here in the State of Montana if she wishes after this session, if the GOP get’s their wishes.)

Both Missoula and Bozeman have passed local ordinances geared at protecting and promoting equality in their respective communities. This bill is a direct slap at these communities…and it is also a slap at any other community that may want to embrace a message of acceptance for their citizens.

by Pete Talbot

I was worried sick.

With all the lawsuits and counter-suits and counter-counter suits, I was afraid the Yellowstone Club — the private ski club for the uber-rich south of Bozeman — might be failing.

The Bozeman Chronicle tells us otherwise. The story quotes CrossHarbor Capital Partners head honcho Sam Byrne who says business is booming. CrossHarbor picked up the club for pennies on the dollar after the club declared bankruptcy in 2008. The alleged mismanagement of funds, particularly a $375 million Credit Suisse loan, led to the club’s downfall. Also in play is the nasty divorce of club founders Tim and Edra Blixseth, and more lawsuits and motions than you can shake a stick at: bankruptcy hearings, ex-husband suing ex-wife and vice-versa, members suing the Yellowstone Club, Tim Blixseth filing a motion to disqualify the bankruptcy judge, banks suing holding companies, holding companies suing banks …

But not to worry, the club has added 40 new members and has sold $175 million in real estate.

It’s comforting to know that in the middle of the Great Recession, in an era of stagnant development and foreclosures, folks can still afford to build 20-thousand-square-foot homes. Some people can, anyway.

by jhwygirl

The Daily Chronicle editorial boards’ endorsements focus on anti-partisanship as an ideal qualification – they use the word partisanship at least 4 times in the piece. When an editorial board says Pomnichowski’s opponent Burnett “is too ideologically rigid to be effective in the Legislature,” had to hurt. Burnett.

Ouch!

And I gotta give credit here, too, to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. How many papers actually endorse candidates anymore? The Missoula Independent does…who else?

Now…getting back: Burnett aside, the focus on why to re-elect JP Pomnichowski is the task at hand, and the Daily Chronicle concisely put together the reasoning:

“…Pomnichowski deserves a return trip to Helena. Her reasonableness and experience is needed, and she was successful in her last two terms in carrying legislation that has done good things for southwest Montana, particularly downtown Bozeman.”

JP Pomnichowski has been a legislative fan favorite for me for her last two sessions, and being that I’m sitting at a computer, I can easily prove the stuff I’m saying. For one, Pomnichowski is one hard working legislator. I’ve known that – but checking the legislative website, I find that she’s successfully carried seven bills forward this last legislative session. 7? That is nothing short of amazing.

I’d say that at least meets the definition of effective.

Lest the loonies come out and say she is anti-property rights – that seems to be a favorite substantiated talking point from the right – Pomnichowski worked hard to protect private property rights by working to revise laws related to gravel pit mining – and issue that was impacting fast-growing Gallatin county pretty hard. The revisions in law enhance the public information process for permits, helping to give both property owners the right to be informed from the beginning, and helping to ensure that the mining operators know all the rules from the get-go and helped move the backlog of permits.

Protecting private rights from too-much government oversight? Pomnichowski successfully carried a bill that required government agencies to protect private information.

And that’s just a partial rundown of 2009, folks.

I like JP because when she talks about her work, she talks about it in terms of the people she represents. It isn’t politics for her – it’s about the people.

And her record shows it.

by jhwygirl

This is just a quick follow-up to last week’s post about the City of Bozeman’s resolution in support of Montana’s same sex couples and their lawsuit against the State of Montana for its Defense of Marriage Act.

With Montana in the national news spotlight for the Montana GOP’s platform criminalizing homosexuality, this resolution highlights some of the things I touched on in that previous post – namely that to have the State of Montana defend an unconstitutional law (unconstitutional by both Montana Constitutional and U.S. Constitutional standards) is sheer lunacy.

I’ve preached many a time on the pyramid of laws that we have – the Constitution is the ultimate law of the land, and all others must comply. Shame on any legislator (or administration or attorney general) that does anything less than defend against those guiding principles.

Bozeman’s resolution is unique in that it is the first resolution directed towards state government telling them to put an end to segregating and treating same sex couples differently under government sanctioned institutions like marriage.

Montana has far more important things to address in court than to try and rehash an issue that has been resolved in our highest courts already. Not only has Montana’s Supreme Court resolved the issue, the U.S. courts have utilized Montana’s Supreme Court decision as precedent in many federal cases confirming the right to privacy.

Conservatives everywhere should be in support. Nothing speaks more loudly against the principles of small government and intrusion than a law that defines marriage.

Please take time to read the Bozeman Chronicle’s article on last Monday’s resolution proposed by Mayor Jeff Krauss.

Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss wants his city to set an example for other cities across Montana by being the first to pass a resolution supporting the seven same-sex couples suing the state for the same rights as married couples.

“These couples are really walking out on a limb to put their faces forward, to put their stories forward, and I think they deserve the support,” Krauss told the Chronicle.

Jeff Krauss, btw, identifies as a Republican. The Mayor’s office and City Commission posts are non-partisan.

Montana’s GOP might be nuts, with “over two-thirds” of its membership voting in support of criminalizing homosexuality – but not all of Montana’s GOP agree. We that support equality should keep this in mind, and not create an environment where the GOP members that want to come out in support of equality – that want to speak out and tell their party that they are wrong – have exactly that environment which allows them to speak in support of small government and against its intrusion into private lives.

Montanans for equality should constructively embrace the national attention being thrust upon us now and leverage it to allow the state’s GOP members that do support equality to do so without fear of repercussion. That one-third out there need the breathing room to take care of the business at hand.

by jhwygirl

Via Helena’s CBS KXLH reporter Marnee Banks’ twitter feed, comes the sobering reminder that Montana National Guard Troops will be deploying Monday morning for (first) a six-week stop for training in Mississippi and then to their purposed assign in support of the Overseas Contingency Operation.

This is their second deploy, having already supported Operation Iraqi Freedom for 12 months in 2004-2005.

Montana’s soldiers leave from 5 major departure sites in the state – here are the times and locations:
Helena: Army Aviation Support Facility 2:40 pm
Great Falls: Great Falls International Airport 5:35 am
Belgrade: Gallatin Field Airport 6:00 am
Billings: Billings International Airport 3:40 pm
Missoula: Missoula International Airport 6:35 am

Today my thoughts are with them and their loved ones – their wives and husbands and children and fathers and mothers. Each of them take every drop of good will and wishes that I have in me.

by jhwygirl

On Monday at Bozeman’s City Commission meeting, Mayor Jeff Krauss put forth a resolution that formally supports equality rights for same sex couples in the State of Montana.

The resolution calls on the State of Montana and its Attorney General to support equality rights for gay and lesbian couples by supporting the couples which filed suit against the State of Montana back in July of this year for failing to offer legal protects to same sex couples as it does to other families in the state.

Bozeman’s Chronicle doesn’t put every story online – and the budget was certainly a big issue that caught the attention of the press, no doubt…but hopefully they’ll be covering this story soon.

And Bozeman’s City Commission? Good for them for seeking to speak in support of the same-sex couples of their community and the rest of the state.

Missoula City Council? Missoula Board of County Commissioners? Speak up – let Governor Schweitzer and Attorney General Steve Bullock know that they both need to speak up in support of equality rights for gay and lesbian couples in this state.

Bozeman leads on calling on Montana to do the right thing – let’s hope Missoula follows.

by jhwygirl

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?

by carfreestupidity

Carfreestupidity has graciously agreed to join us b’birders and share some of his postings here at 4&20. I’ve been reading his stuff over at Imagine No Cars: Thoughts on Alternative Transportation and Urban Design for some time. I love it. Good stuff. He’s got a a great thoughtful informative voice. I’m sure you will enjoy it too. Let’s give him a great welcome here – and take to the task of voicing support for more rail. Thanks carfreestupidity – and welcome aboard! – jhwygirl

An online version of the Restore the North Coast Hiawatha petition created by students at The University of Montana is now available on MontPIRG’s website. The petition was started in support of Amtrak’s passenger rail study and Senator Jon Tester’s push for reinstatement of the line. The original petition garnered over 1200 signatures in a matter of only a few weeks of gathering in Missoula. The first set of petitions will shortly be delivered to Senator Tester in Washington D.C.

It is the purpose of the online version to garner wider support for the rail line outside of Montana and to let our United States Senators know that the people demand more transportation options. The line connects many important cities in the region including Seattle, Spokane, Sandpoint, Missoula, Helena, Bozeman, Billings, Bismarck, Forgo, and many more. The restored line would be an important step in reducing green house gas emissions, providing transportation options, and offering vital economic infrastructure.

by jhwygirl

Today’s Bozeman Chronicle has a story up compiling city police statistics for 2009.

While most crime declined, DUI arrests were up 22% – from 491 in 2008 to 600 in 2009.

I point this out only as another bit of anecdotal evidence that Montana has a drinking problem.

I don’t know if Missoula City Police do this…or if our county Sheriff’s Department does it either…but I’m sure plenty of us would all find the numbers interesting. There’s always been a tendency to downplay violent crimes here, too. I’d say this might be a good way of assessing, overall, how the community is addressing any number of problems.

The solution isn’t purely tougher laws – Montana’s well beyond that when it’s regular media fare to have 4th and 5th DUI arrests and domestic violence crimes in the news. We need to start with solutions geared towards our children and our culture.

Bottom up solutions are often less costly in the long run than dealing with the issue on the tail end. Beyond the monetary concerns, think of the lives impacted by what publicly begins with an arrest. The tragedies are far reaching.

by jhwygirl

Highlighting the value of top-notch legislators, this past legislative session saw the passage of HB678, which revised gravel pit/opencut mining laws in a way that is getting some pretty good reviews in this Great Falls Tribune story.

Under a new public notice requirement included in House Bill 678, which was approved in 2009, gravel and sand mine operators have to put up signs near proposed sites and send basic descriptions of their plans to county commissioners. Letters also must go out to property owners living within a half mile of a project.

The public notice requirement was one of several provisions included in the bill to improve accountability, oversight and efficiency in the state’s regulation of open-cut mine permits, which was found lacking by a legislative audit in 2008, and challenged in lawsuits.

Who sponsored this bill? Rep. JP Pomnichowski, of Bozeman.

Pomnichowski sponsored a number of bills this past session, seeing seven make it for final passage. A number of the bills that didn’t make it were absorbed into other bills.

That is no small feat.

I’m a fan of JP. She’s strong and consistent on natural resource issues. Water issues? She is one of the best. Pomichowski’s shown that she’s able to balance industry concerns, property rights and issues brought forth from citizens and communities. Gravel pits were a growing concern statewide since the 2007 session – and to the Bozeman area (in particular). Passage of HB678 was a significant accomplishment that has benefited people in communities throughout Montana. Not only that, it has helped move along the backlog of permits that the industry was not happy with.

Good legislators deserve good support. I want to note that Pomnichowski’s seat was won by just 230 votes in 2008. Bozeman can be a tough area for Democrats. This is not a seat that should be tossed. A $10 donation to her campaign just may help ensure that we have her around next legislative session.

by jhwygirl

Boy, sure hope the Governor doesn’t read this Missoulian article, otherwise he’ll have to head to town to protest the expenditure.

Of course – Drudge hasn’t picked up on it yet. Neither has Fox News. So maybe we’re in the clear.

by jhwygirl

Well, the City of Bozeman didn’t waste any time did they? Just last Friday newspapers across the state brought us the news that the City of Bozeman was going to take up consideration of extending protections for sexual orientation and gender identity to its employees.

Well, tonight, amid the showdown in Big Sky (played out, notably, even on Missoula KECI late evening news), Bozeman city commission took up the matter of extending benefits and protections to…well….fellow citizens. People. Brothers and sisters, neighbors. Friends. Sons, daughters.

City Attorney did up a report that details quite a bit of information, not only locally, but nationally on how gays and transgendered people lack equal protections and access to the same types of benefits and services granted to their heterosexual counterparts.

by jhwygirl

The Montana Medical Grower’s Association, in conjunction with Montana Botanical Analysis is presenting a series of lectures January 11 and 12th which will feature noted medical marijuana scientist Dr. Arno Hazekamp from the University of Leiden, The Netherlands.

Beginning at noon on Monday, the Montana Medical Grower’s Association will offer presentations of various topics of interest to medicinal cannabis patients, caregivers, and the general public including small business practices, tax issues, and legal updates. Additionally, there will be an exhibition area for vendors of products and services supporting the medical cannabis industry.

Monday evening, Dr. Hazekamp, a a world renowned expert in cannabinoid chemistry and analysis who has published widely on the subject of marijuana chemistry, will be giving a public lecture on the most recent research developments regarding medicinal cannabis and the treatment of specific medical conditions beginning at 6 pm at The Emerson Theatre, 111 South Grand Avenue, Bozeman. There will be a public question and answer session as well as a reception following the lecture.

On Tuesday, January 12th, Montana Botanical Analysis will sponsor a guest lecture featuring Dr. Hazekamp in the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department of Montana State University. Dr. Hazekamp will be speaking on the “Chemistry of Cannabinoids” in Byker Hall at 2 pm.

For further information, please contact the Montana Medical Grower’s Association at (800) 518-9113.

~~~~~~
Medical marijuana hasn’t been getting a whole lot of respect around Montana lately, it seems. Odd, considering it was legalized in the 2004 legislature. The Missoula Independent’s Matthew Frank recently did a story regarding the controversy surrounding a medical marijuana providers shop here in Missoula.

In the last few months, I’ve read stories in the Billings Gazette, Helena’s Independent Record, the Missoulian and the Flathead Beacon (off the top of my head) regarding medical marijuana. This IR story went into great detail how the Montana Cannibus nursery business is operating.

Zoning – or where these businesses go – is apparently a big issue. Whitefish recently enacted emergency zoning banning medical marijuana stores in response to a in increase in dispensaries – one which was proposed near local middle school.

I’m sorry – that provider appears to have been lacking some common sense.

All of that being said, it seems to me that Whitefish and the other cities “wrestling” with the issue of medical marijuana stores are overthinking the issue. Montana regulates the stuff as medical….so where do we allow pharmacies? What regs do we impose on pharmacies? I don’t see a medical marijuana storefront any much different than a pharmacy.

Frankly, it seems to me that by banning medical marijuana stores, Whitefish is circumventing the will of the legislature which legalized medical marijuana and made provisions for providers to operate….but hey, I’m no lawyer, right?

At the state level, there’s also some talk of regulating them as nurseries under the Department of Agriculture. That makes sense. It’s a cash crop. Determining its true economic impact starts there.

This past session there was a foolhardy (IMHO) rush to write laws related to carbon sequestration – and while I won’t lecture on why I felt that was inappropriate, I can’t help but wonder why Montana wouldn’t get ahead of the curve on what is clearly a trend towards legalization. The feds appear to be working on true legalization of marijuana.

Hell – it might be the only thing that’ll help California’s economy recovery. California has approved a ballot initiative for 2010.

What is they say? As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation?

by jhwygirl

I don’t write about affordable housing enough, although some of you might disagree. It can’t be overstated, though, and having affordable housing in any community is key to facilitating economic growth and development.

Missoula is going to continue to have a hell of a time attracting good paying sustainable jobs until such time that it has entry level ownership opportunities for entry-level professionals. This is all the more important with the closure of Smurfit.

I mention this because the Gallatin County Commissioners will be deciding on Tuesday whether to accept a $7 million grant that would go to the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) for a housing development that will service those making 50% of the median income.

Now, apparently, the teabaggers have gotten wind of this grant – the application of which was approved by this very same county commission this past May in a 2-1 vote – and there is pressure on one of the commissioners (one who, by chance, happens to be up for election) to vote “no” on accepting the grant.

Blame it on – seriously, I’m not joking – the irrepressible (and apparently irresponsible) Scott Sales (who is hinting that running for said county commission seat just might be in his future).

It’s amazing to me how shortsighted these teabagger-types can be. Turning this grant down is going to put greater pressure on an already overpriced housing market. Not only that, it is going to make finding employees for the large number of service-related jobs harder and harder.

Because – and I know this is a hard concept for teabaggers to understand since they don’t do much more than soundbites – Montana isn’t dropping in median housing costs like a whole hell of a lot of the rest of America. We’ve been lucky – just ask any realtor – in that the housing market here in Montana (and even less so in places like Missoula and Bozeman) hasn’t been greatly affected by the downturn.

It’s pretty basic: Businesses can’t run without employees. Affordable employees. Simple concept, really.

So why does Scott Sales and his teabagger friends hate small business?

Having decent housing for these service-related jobs – jobs a community can’t do without – ensure that the market housing maintains as much semblance of affordability as is possible. This grant is for those making less than 50% of the median income.

The median income for a household in Bozeman is $45,000…which makes 50% of median a full-time $10.00/job.

Thing is – few will say that housing in Bozeman is affordable, right?

Which is probably where Scott sales comes in. It’s sheer lunacy – Scott Sales-type lunacy – to turn this money down. It’ll go somewhere (and I bet Missoula or Helena or Great Falls would be glad to take it) – and with it will go a more stable pro-business economy to whatever community gets it.

There are people and businesses in Bozeman and Gallatin County that are counting on the county commission – at least the 2 that had the pro-business common sense to approve the application – to have the pro-business common sense again to accept the grant.

That is, of course, unless everyone wants to start having to pay more for all those sorts of things that employee $10/hour employees – banks and universities and restaurants and conveniece stores and box stores and local main street stores. Hell – I’m betting the county itself employs quite a number of people that make around $10/hour.

But don’t worry Scott Sales and Gallatin County teabaggers – when the county has to hire another roadworker or police officer or office assistant, and they cost more because the cost of a basic need (housing) just went up, they’ll just pass that bill onto you – the taxpayer.

by jhwygirl

Late Friday I received an email from Bozeman’s current Deputy Mayor Jeff Krauss regarding a recent post here concerning Governor Schweitzer’s call to cut some stimulus funds from the City of Bozeman. Krauss, it appears – as he puts forth in his letter – won’t be catering to the Fox News crowd as he defends his city’s (and eleven other Montana cities, including Missoula’s) use of stimulus funds for park and recreational infrastructure.

Let me be clear here in my position: The law, HB645, specifically places “recreational facilities” into criteria for use of stimulus funds. This was approved by a majority in both houses. The Governor had veto power over this bill. He did not exercise it. If a Republican Governor were to come by after-the-fact and start slashing stuff out of legislatively approved budgets, Democrats would be in an uproar. We’ve got laws to follow, and less than that we’re working on anarchy.

From Bozeman Deputy Mayor Jeff Krauss:

Thank you for your entry in 4&20 blackbirds. I will be appearing on Fox & Friends at 6:20 5:30 am MST Monday morning to defend those people of Montana in the eleven cities and towns who are spending stimulus funds on parks and recreation, not just from the national critics but from their own Governor as well. Chinook’s putting in improvements to their baseball field, lights and an outfield fence, Helena’s spending $498k on two different parks, Livingston, Ryegate, Superior, Dutton, and others, including Missoula, are spending money on parks and recreation projects out of federal stimulus dollars. A Governor who was paying attention to the Executive branch would know this.

Bozeman’s general fund budget dedicates an average of about 9% each year to parks and recreation. We have two swimming pools, many parks, baseball and soccer fields, tennis courts, ice skating and hockey rinks and miles of trails and bike lanes. Opposing spending on parks and recreation is no different in my opinion than opposing spending on libraries –it’s a hallmark of ignorance. Who wants to live in a city without parks and recreation and libraries and trails? Well I can tell you, nobody that elected me does. Our spending of some portion of federal stimulus dollars on recreation is completely in line with our spending of the local taxpayer dollar, and the values of those Montana citizens who live in Bozeman.

Cities and towns all over the country, and not just in Montana, spend money on parks and recreation. Back in the middle of last century there was a six year old who learned to play tennis on the municipal tennis courts, the city funded tennis courts, of Richmond Virginia. That six year old grew up to be a champion, and an inspiration to hundreds of thousands. I’m inspired by his story, inspired enough to spend money on municipal recreation opportunities. I’ll bet you President Barack Obama is inspired by the story of that six year old and what he made of the opportunity that started with his city’s recreation facilities. It seems the only people NOT inspired by the story of Arthur Ashe is some jerk on Fox News from the Wall Street Journal, and the Governor of the State of Montana.

The Bozeman Commission approved projects that were specifically allowed by a bill passed by the legislature, signed by the Governor, specifically awarded by the governor in a letter with his face at the top and his name and title at the bottom, and supported by the people of the city of Bozeman. We picked these projects right out of the capital projects we knew we had to address with Bozeman taxpayer dollars. Cities and towns in Montana have to balance their budget every year. The day that the President and the Congress present a federal balanced budget amendment for ratification to the states, I’ll be out going door to door in support of that amendment. But, for now, we followed the federal and the state guidelines and the exact bill the governor signed. Nobody from Bozeman is stepping outside the rules or playing cheap partisan political games. I’m here to support Montanans, and our values, and our city, in response to a self serving political stunt. And I’m proud to say, we in Bozeman believe in healthy minds, healthy bodies, and a healthy democracy.

Jeff Krauss

Deputy Mayor, City of Bozeman




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