Archive for the ‘Bozeman’ Category

by jhwygirl

…or was it more a chance to cater to the Faux News crowd?

Now cities and towns across the state are now wondering about some of their stimulus funds – stimulus funds granted via HB645…stimulus funds approved by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Brian Schweitzer himself….a governor who vetoed and partially vetoed a number of bills but didn’t see fit to do anything about those park and recreational facility funding when he signed HB645 into law…and finally – stimulus funds appropriated through HB645, a bill which Governor Schweitzer line-item vetoed for certain objects as having been unconstitutional.

Let’s also take the time to point out that under section 47 of HB645, MCA 90-5-101 was amended to include recreational facilities as projects eligible for stimulus funds. Family service projects were included too, as were electric energy generation facilities (Smurfit-Stone, anyone?), and “any facilities that are used or considered necessary to create or produce any intangible item, as defined in section 197(d)(1)(C)(iii) of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. 197(d)(1)(C)(iii), including any patent, copyright, formula, process, design, pattern, knowledge, format, or other similar intangible item.”

That last one there is pretty broad, no?

Now let’s say here first – the Governor has been looking to cut and save money from the budget. That’s a good thing. He recently denied over a half-million bucks in funding to Swank Enterprises – a late insert into the state’s budget bill by Senator Barkus – the Barkus that sailed that boat up on the rocks on Flathead Lake, severely injuring himself and the rest of his drinking buddies, one of which was our own congressperson Representative Dennis Rehberg – based on political tomfoolery, if not the clever use of the word “may” instead of “shall.”

Stuff like that is great.

Now that we’ve gotten the pleasantries out of the way…

What towns are wondering about whether they’ll be next in the Governor’s scrutiny of legislatively-approved, signed-into-law-by-him stimulus money? Why, the Governor’s own current hometown of Helena should be one of them. They got a nice chunk of cash – nearly $500,000 – that will, in part, build an entirely new park. It’ll also get them a hand-painted mural and the installation of sound reflective tile. Drummond? Dutton? Fairview? The list goes on: Livingston, Ryegate Superior? All improvements to the local park infrastructure. Terry? Twin Bridges? Bainville?

Will these towns be losing their pathways? The park benches and shelters? What about those bathroom upgrades? Sprinkler systems?

How about that county ground fairground grandstand replacement in Prairie?

What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander. Why should Prairie get a new grandstand and Bozeman be begrudged the repair of its tennis courts?

Because if Schweitzer’s gonna ignore Section 57 of HB645, what’s next? There’s a whole bunch of stuff in there that was approved by both houses of the legislature. And signed into law by you.

Is it all up for game? Where does that line stop? Or is there a line at all?

In other words: This is not a monarchy, Brian. As Bozeman City Commissioner (and soon-to-be-Mayor) Jeff Krauss points out, “It’s not frivolous. When we introduced this in the fall, a bunch of citizens came in to say how much they supported repairing our recreational facilities. It’s all about getting these kids and prying them away from the video game controls. We’re having a big crisis over health care in this country. Every time you can get a kid away from the electronic entertainment and outside recreating, that’s a good thing.”

As for Faux News? Maybe they should look at what other states are spending their stimulus money on. I highly doubt Montana is unique…and not only that – maybe they should look at our laws and see who, ultimately, got the final say on what the stimulus funds would be used.

When it comes down to it, parks are infrastructure to any community. Infrastructure just like roads and street signs and police stations.

Infrastructure requires upkeep due not only to wear-and-tear, but population growth . Ignore that upkeep and it costs more in the long run because….infrastructure doesn’t really go away.

These cities and towns could say that they are using their stimulus funds for road repair and instead redirect the money that their own budget would have paid for in road repair and place it in the local ball fields that have been neglected for the last decade…..OR they could be more honest, keep their baseline budget intact for streets and roads and the bare minimum basics that they themselves have been scraping by on for the last 2 years while businesses are closing and houses are being foreclosed upon and building permits are down, and ask for stimulus funds to employ local people to keep the local infrastructure maintained.

Frankly, I’m a fan of the latter,but I’m not so sure about other state democrats – certain state democrats, trying to negotiate our own budget bill this last session (for example, folks) agreed to defund the Department of Public Health and Human Services and use supplemental stimulus funding to supplement DPHHS for the next two years. This was, at the time, called a “negotiating tactic,” meant to conceded ‘temporarily’ some funding of DPHHS (because you know how that GOP loves social services) in order to get that budget passed.

Well – tell me what is going to happen next legislative session? DPHHS and other socially conscience elected officials are going to be scrapping and scraping to bring DPHHS up to 2009 levels, yet along make adjustments that are normal for increases in population or service needs.

This isn’t about tennis courts. It’s about local governments being able to govern their local governments. It’s about laws and legislative powers of appropriation. It’s about separate branches of government. It’s about democracy, not a monarchy.

Give Bozeman its tennis courts. Give all the other towns their money. And bring us some sustainable, high-paying, low-impact technology and health industry jobs.

by jhwygirl

The world runs on software. That’s not going to change.

Coal mines eventually run out of coal.

RightNow currently employs 450 in Bozeman and will be hiring an addition 100 more people in Montana, at least 60 of them for the Bozeman area. Most of those jobs require a 4-year college degree, and all come with full medical, retirement and paid time off for community volunteer work.

The entire coal industry in the State of Montana employs 1,008 people.

People are always going to need software.

What happens when all the coal is gone? I guess we can ask Butte, see what they have to say.

There’s a $150 million figure in there for RightNow, and the state’s own coal council has its numbers, too – but again, I’ll repeat – those coal figures, those coal jobs, those coal taxes – all of it – goes away once the market drops out of it or the coal is out of the ground. Plus we get that mess those mines always always always leave behind.

And regardless of how you look at those numbers over there at the Montana coal council, RightNow compares quite nicely next to not just one coal mine, but several at once.

I guess Montana just wants to be West Virgina when it grows up. Who knew.

And funny thing, to note – The Great Berkley Copper Pit was taken out…not by them evil union folk, no sir….but by (drumroll please…) the collapsing world market for coal, driven by some other largest and biggest and greatest discovery of copper. Somewhere in South America. Where – ironically (talking about the evils of unions/snark) – the mines were nationalized.

What is they say? – what comes around, goes around?

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread.

I’m looking for craft shows around the area – and by area I mean Kalispell, Helena, Bozeman, Butte, Deerlodge, Billings, Great Falls. Know any? Let me know below. (Thanks.)

Goddess knows there are plenty of people upset about the County’s plan proposal to consolidate precincts and close polling stations. If you are concerned about the closing of polling stations, and want the county to take time to get community input on putting together a plan that is workable, why not sign Forward Montana’s petition?

Via Missoula’s Heavy Metal Hippy, we learn that Big Foot has been sighted. In Minnesota.


Montana’s lone congressman, Representative Denny Rehberg voted against reforming Wall Street in a vote on the floor of the House yesterday.

We’re making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty and who’s nice – congressional elections are coming, to town.

Missoula’s Poverello Center – like other homeless shelters across Montana – have been inundated this week due to sub-zero weather. The Pov has been overmaxed this week, sleeping over 100 on Thursday night. You can help by clicking that link above and dropping $5 or $15 or $50 bucks.

Sometimes you come across something on the intertubes that is unexpected and smart. This post did that for me, and it’s about the escalation of the war in Afghanistan. A superb arrangement of words which ignored all economy.

Couple of short interesting ones….

Out of Bozeman, a 140-year old Christmas cactus.

There’s a huge-ass iceburg floating off of Australia. Be sure to click through the pictures.

Global warming, schmobal warming, right?

In geekdome this week, I found a link on the state’s website for all the state’s online news sources.

I also found Google Scholar. This week it started offering federal and state opinions and patents….which is sure gonna hit up market sources like LexisNexis and Westlaw.

Still more – I am loving Google Scholar – here is a blog post which explains how to use the site. Which means I’ll be bookmarking that blog, too.

Out of Bozeman (again!), we’ve got gravel pits and zoning rising to the surface once again. Remember and the hullaboo about gravel pits about a year or so ago? Well, all that emergency zoning (in lots of places – we’ve the same emergency zoning that occurred here in Lolo) is coming due, placing pressure on local governments to get ‘er done.

Mainly because the legislature failed us, due to GOP amendment of what had been a darn good bill from Bozeman’s representative J.P. Pomnichowski.

I’m closing here with this one: I’ve not been over to Wulfgar!’s in a while, mainly because he’s been so sporadic and I end up getting out of pattern in my surfing. His beloved pooch Mara passed away more than a week ago, and I see he has a post up about her, which I am off to read. That kind of loss is so wrenching, so loyal or pets are. I still dream of my chessie Sadie, wonderful companion that she was.

by jhwygirl

We’ve blogged a number of times here about the Tongue River, coal and sequestration fallacies, and the state’s Otter Creek tracts – all of these are intertwined with a number of issues that are presenting themselves currently in the form of the state determining whether leasing of its own property for coal is a responsible decision.

As The State, the Land Board (comprised of the state’s 5 highest office holders) is beholden to the public. They have a responsibility to make the best decision for the long term of both the land and the public. Generating $ is a priority, but it has to be done responsibly.

The Bozeman office of the Sierra Club has been active with public outreach regarding the issues surrounding the Otter Creek tracts (picked up in trade-off for that failed gold mine near the east entrance of Yellowstone). Tuesday, at 6:30 p.m., the Sierra Club will be screening the movie Coal Country along with hosting a discussion regarding coal and its related issues (environment, jobs, school funding) and what it means for Montana. All this being held in that lovely new Bozeman Public Library at 626 E. Main.

So folks out Bozeman/Belgrade/Livingston way? Get thee to that public library, and maybe learn a little more about how it isn’t just about digging a little bit of coal out of the ground.

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 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.

(Cynthia, a Missoula resident, was on the ground for more than 5 hours at President Obama’s town hall meeting in Belgrade yesterday. Contrary to national media reports, events on the ground were downright hostile at times. I thank Cynthia for taking the time to write this post. – jhwygirl)

by Cynthia Wolken

I was one of the pro-reform protestors in the free-speech zone outside of President Obama’s town hall meeting yesterday on healthcare reform in Belgrade, Montana. I am shocked and disappointed at the mainstream media’s coverage of the protest and declarations that both sides acted ‘civilly’. Many of the anti-government protesters used violence, threats of violence, and intimidation to stifle the pro-reformists in the exercise of their first amendment right to assemble and protest.

In context, there were two groups with permits to protest on a few acres outside the Gallatin Field Airport that were set aside as a free-speech zone. The pro-reformist group was comprised of protesters supporting some form of healthcare reform – from those supporting the President’s proposal to those advocating for a single-payer system. The other group, organized by the Gallatin County Tea-baggers, was ostensibly there to oppose any legislation reforming the current healthcare system. I say ‘ostensibly’ because it was clear by their signage and rhetoric that most tea-baggers were merely using the forum to further an anti-government agenda by using violence and intimidation to stifle a true public debate. Their members included members of the Republican Party, right-wing extremists, and skinheads. Their messaging was on everything from abortion to second amendment and militia rights.
Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Yesterday was a good day, people. Montana was downright civil with the President coming to Bozeman, unlike some other places around the nation.Montana and the City of Bozeman and the Town of Belgrade should be proud – they showed Montana to be a bunch of civil folk who were for the large part able to express their differing opinions without hurling insults or silencing the opposite point of view.

I was interested in the national coverage of the event – of which there was quite a bit, but not enough controversy to have it hit every news show soundbite – and here’s links to some of it:

~Todd Wilkinson, this time for the Christian Science Monitor, covers quite a bit with three very excellent stories: Obama wins over a Montana crowd on healthcare, (with obligatory baby picture); this one Obama and Montana’s Baucus: Who needs whom?, which explores the Obama-Baucus relationship; and How’s Obama fairing in the Rocky Mountain West?, which gives a brief history of Democrats and Presidents here in Montana, and the west.

~This story from Politico took issue with Obama’s critique of nationwide town hall coverage.

~Dave Stout, of the NYTimes ‘Prescriptions’ blog, live-blogged the event.

~This CBS news video shows at least a Missoulian or two and interviews the two anti-reform questioners from the town hall meeting: insurance agent Marc Montgomery and retired welder and self-identified NRA member Randie Rathie.

~This one, from CNN.

~From CBS’ Political Hotsheet blog.

~From the Washington Post: Obama Pushes Insurance Reform

Finally – here is an earlier version of that WaPo story, via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which I wish I could send to Hannity who I heard spouting off sometime late last night about how the Montana audience was stacked by White House officials with pro-reformers:

At one point yesterday, Mr. Obama practically begged for something tougher. “And I want somebody who’s got a concern or is skeptical about health-care reform,” he said. “Here we go, there we go. I knew we could find a couple here.”

White House officials say they did not try to load the audience with sympathetic voters. They said tickets to Mr. Obama’s events have been given out much more broadly than in prior administrations. Former President George W. Bush often distributed tickets to his events through a state’s Republican Party.

In fact – the first person to get a pair of tickets after having waited 18 hours in line was Donna S. C. Kelley who told Bozeman Chroncle reporter and someone at KBZK, too, that she was “very frustrated with what the government is doing, angry with what they’re doing.”

If you have more links, by all means, add ’em in the thread. I’d be especially interested in getting links to some of the more conservative points of view.

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread…

Chances are that your dog is smarter than your toddler. Or your neighbors toddler…or your neighbor’s dog and your toddler.

I knew that. Hell…by last dog was smarter than me sometimes….

The Alaska Legislature had a final parting shot at their former Governor.

Remember Benson the Carp? There’s more to the story.

The BNSF Railroad is storing 3,000 cars on unused track in Butte. Because of the economic downturn, they’ve got 35,000 cars nationwide. I saw miles, double wide, of empty cars up near Plains last week….and on spurs all over the lower Clark Fork are empty cars that have been in storage since spring (at least).


Shameful miscarriage of justice.

The Livingston, MT anti-health care reformer in this story here, I’m sure, doesn’t see her own conundrum.

On that note – in case you missed the ruckus in Bozeman yesterday, that link’ll take you to a full video of President Obama’s visit. (I can never seem to be able to embed those msnbc videos, regardless of the link they provide.)

Remember I shouted Tax My Soda Pop, Please! a while back? This article answers the question of How Much That Can of Soda Really costs.

It seems that 10 cents per can is about right.

I have a question for ya’all which I woke up thinking about: If I’m looking forward to seeing a tribute band, does that make me old?

Looking forward in the ‘your-aunt-and-I-went-to-see-the-Elvis-show-when-we-were-there-and-it-was-fabulous’ sense, not the ‘let’s-go-see-what-happens-at-the-AC/DC-tribute-band-show’….

Well…that’s kinda it. What say you?

Peace, everyone.

by jhwygirl

Cat’s out of the bag…way out of the bag and running down the road like its tail is on fire, so what the hell.

4&20 hears, via 3,000 emails, tweets and phone calls that Obama’s coming to Bozeman on August 14th, with his lovely wife Michelle, to attend a town hall meeting at an airport hanger and then head down to Big Sky to meet with (at least) Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester for the weekend.

That’s all I got, but there it is.

by jhwygirl

Well…came across a National Journal article that links to a Great Falls Tribune – John S. Adams news article on Sen. Baucus’ annual Big Sky retreat for health care sector lobbyists.

That’s no joke, people – Montana’s senior Senator actually hosts an annual fling-ding in Big Sky specifically for lobbyists from the health care sector. Pretty unreal.

Nice to see, though, national media taking notice of Montana’s fine journalists.

Bozeman Chronicle had an article recently on the big Hebgan Lake earthquake of 1959. All that geology stuff fascinates me and I’ve read a good bit on that event, but I don’t ever recall hearing that a kid survived the boulder-smashed-a-tent story. The 50-year anniversary is coming up: August 17th.

In last V&S I mentioned ex-health insurance executive Wendell Potter – well, this week the UK’s Guardian did an interview with him. Fascinating view of our fabulously wonderful American real world health care system.

Bozeman’s spending $10,000 to hire a Missoula investigator to look into the who what why when of the City’s requirement that job applicants had to provide their facebook/social networking site passwords…and email and banking information, too, apparently. That really is an incredible situation. How could someone even dream that up, yet alone implement it?

So I guess it’s all good – The Lawsuiters hire a Bozeman attorney and the City of Bozeman hires a Missoula investigator.


I want to remind everyone that August 10th is the deadline for submitting public comment to FWP about their plans to electrify numerous state park campgrounds. Comments should be directed to Lee Bastian by phone to 406-542-5517 or emailed to Today’s the first of the month – get it done and tell a friend.

Oh – how about this one: NY’s Attorney General is looking into 9 banks that needed and took the most bailout money, and still handed out minimum $1,000,000 bonuses to 5 THOUSAND employees. When you read how much these guys lost to earn that kind of bonus, it makes you kind of sick.

Reform anyone? Pretty Please??

OK. One more.

Ward 1 Councilman Dave Strohmaier has invited everyone to the Greenough bridge restoration fundraiser. It’s today, from 3 – 5 p.m. at the picnic shelter.

by jhwygirl

Let me first say that this story can (and will) be applicable to any town, any place, any time in the future. It just happens to be being reported in Bozeman right now.

Bozeman School Board has about 500 employees, and is self-insured. The $62,000 increase in premiums is a back-up policy that they have to cover any employee that goes over $150,000 in claims in any given year.

That $62,000 increase is going to translate into some risk exposure for the School Board (increasing its threshold for the back-up policy to $175,00) and increase premium costs to its employees. From the Bozeman Daily Chronicle:

For employees choosing the medium plan and family coverage, their monthly share would increase from $175 to $211, while the school district pays $689 a month. For single employees choosing the least expensive, basic plan, their monthly cost would go from zero to $14, while the school district covers $420 a month.

That’s a 20% increase in cost to families, and I don’t even know what % increase something is when it goes from zero to something, for one year.

Now – if it were city council sitting around deciding to raise your taxes by $36 bucks a year, for, say, a “Everyone Loves Bozeman” media campaign, how do you think the residents of the City of Bozeman would respond?

Yet, PhRMA spent $6 million bucks lobbying against reform in the months of April, May and June of this year. They spent $6 million bucks lobbying senators and spending money on a media campaign geared towards telling us why we don’t need health care reform.

Pfizer spent $5.5 million. Amgen, Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline spent about $3 million each.

That all evens out to about $3 million a week.

Sweet! Here’s a government, having to provide health care to its employees. For now, they’re willing to pass the cost to the employees and increase their own exposure risk. How long before the next increase in cost? How long before that cost is passed on to taxpayers?

How long before it’s city employees? City police? County? State?

Because it’s coming folks. Not one of you out there can say costs are going down. Not without reform – and current proposals that were recently reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office were seriously lacking in any significant cost-savings. In other words, what the industry has so far lobbied for – and what they’ve successfully been able to avoid – is real cost-saving reform.

In more irony – who is the back-up insurer for Bozeman’s policy? Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

Why is that significant? Because Montana doesn’t have many choices…and lack of choices translates into higher costs because of the lack of competition. In fact, when one raises its costs, you can damned well bet the others are going to so also, proportionate to whatever it was that the other raised it by.

Business Week had an article about what competition means in the health care industry. Montana doesn’t rate very well – Blue Cross/Blue Shield has 75% market share

How much has Blue Cross/Blue Shield spent so far this year on lobbying? $5 million buckaroos.

So Bozeman School District employees are going to be paying $20 more out-of-pocket this coming year – and the school district itself is going to increase its risk by $25,000 for each employee – all because Blue Cross/Blue Shield had to spend $5 million bucks convincing Congress that it didn’t need to be reformed.

All because Blue Cross/Blue Shield had to spend $5 million for a media campaign telling everyone in Washington that would listen how great they are – its own “Everyone Loves Blue Cross/Blue Shield” campaign.

That is the free market. That is how it is operating. The health care industry can’t help itself – it is conglomeration of corporations. Corporations exists for one sole purpose. They will do whatever the law allows it to do as it seeks maximum profits.

It’s what corporations do.

It will not self-regulate. The only self-preservation that it knows is to stop reform. As I mentioned above, recent assessments by the Congressional Budge Office shows that whatever concessions they’ve given have been ineffective.

How can anyone say that is OK and that the U.S. doesn’t need heath care reform?

Have you written Sen. Tester, Sen. Baucus or Representative Rehberg lately? Let them know what you are thinking.

You know you need to – because the mere fact that I’ve provided that link means that Big Swede and all his friends are going to use it to diss on health care reform.

by jhwygirl

At a mid-morning news conference today, and only after a District Court had reviewed the findings of the investigation into the cause of the explosion, the City of Bozeman announced the cause of the explosion as having sourced from a Northwestern Energy gas utility line – not a line feeding directly to any one of the buildings that blew up.

This is an important discovery, as a fault or leak in the line after it leaves the gas meter is the responsibility of the property owner, whereas it is the utility’s responsibility to get it to the meter.

Here is the city’s press release – and here is the District Court order, which the city requested prior to releasing their findings.

The Bozeman Chronicle is seeking a copy of the investigation, but that is going to take a while – this is now a criminal matter.

A later story reported that the investigation into the cause of the explosion turned up a number of people who smelled gas at least a half-hour before the explosion. No one called 911.

by Pete Talbot

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

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

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

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

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

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

by jhwygirl

Wulfgar!, a resident of Bozeman, was 2 blocks from the explosion when it occurred. He’s got a well-written piece on the seconds, as they passed for him, when the explosion occurred. Don’t miss it.

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

Make sure to stay on Pete’s Bozeman Explosion post – goof hoolihan, who lives out there in Bozeman, has a first hand report on the situation, and reports that they did finally get the gas shut down (having to dig up frozen ground in the alley) sometime after midnight.

There’s more. Make sure to read it.

Appreciate goof’s report – I’m sure he was dog-ass tired when he did it.

Bozeman explosion

by Pete Talbot

(Final update: this post is still getting a lot of traffic.  4&20 has done some follow up but others are tracking this story better than we can.  At this point, I’d recommend the Chronicle.  If anybody else has leads, please nest them below the first comment  after this post.  Thanks, PT)

A relative in Bozeman called this morning to say that an explosion downtown had leveled a building and fire was threatening to spread to adjacent structures. On top of that, I hear there’s a serious snowstorm going on, hampering emergency crews’ efforts.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there was no loss of life or serious injuries.

The explosion was apparently caused by a gas leak and the building destroyed, I’ve been told, housed the well-known restaurant called Boodles.

There are few details yet. Here’s the link to the Bozeman Chronicle, which I assume will have updates.

Bozeman was my second home for awhile and I had an apartment across the street and down a block from Boodles. On occasion, I’d have a martini or two at that fine establishment. My sympathy goes out to the owners and workers in that area downtown.

(UPDATE: Apparently, windows were blown out in at least a one block radius. The famous Rocking R Bar (which also housed a Pickle Barrel sandwich shop) is also threatened by fire. The NBC affiliate in Bozeman’s website is down at this point but a “thank you” to those commenting below and adding other links.)

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.


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!


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….


by Pete Talbot

I didn’t see this in any Montana media outlets and just stumbled across it in Google news. Then I noticed jhwygirl had the story in her “Various and Sundry,” so I guess it’s old news.

Still, I’m toying with the idea of not paying any of my bills this month, and I’ve got a lot of them. If we’re facing Armageddon, though, my accounts payable can wait.

Here’s the story, as reported by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin (they’re into volcanoes over there).

You’d think this would be front page/lead story news around our state, especially in the Bozeman area, which sits about ninety miles due north of the caldera.

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread.

The City of Bozeman is just about ready to open its first homeless shelter. Sounds like it was a very worth labor of love amongst a number of community members. Congratulations on your success.

Great Falls nonprofits are using recycling as a method of raising funds. Pacific Recycling – which has a location here in Missoula, too – is partner in the process.

Eartha Kitt – who played Catwoman on the original Batman series – passed away from cancer at age 81. The daughter of a white farmer and a black Cherokee mother, Eartha rose from abject poverty to break barriers in the entertainment field. She gained much notoriety, but not without cost, as she made Richard Nixon’s enemies list for her outspoken anti-Vietnam War stance.

Hey! You people in Great Falls! Keep your dogs away from that river! Not one, but two rescues this week. Your firemen there are awesome!

Three out of four – 3 out of 4!are glad Bush is done.

Leonard Downie, Jr., of the Washington Post, ponders Could We Uncover Watergate Today?

This pic was too precious to pass up. It accompanied a New York Times article titled Bush’s Philosophy Stoked Mortgage Bonfire.


by jhwygirl

Lord knows we need it….

Hundreds of new ocean creatures, from some slick-lookin’ ocean slugs to soft corals to I-don’t-even-know-what-you-call-thems have been found off the coast of Australia. Make sure to check out the pretty pictures.

Palin’s favorable rating slips by 10 points in just 3 days.

It only took 111 years – but a rare New Zealand reptile has finally become a father. Seems a cancerous growth on his, ummm, genitals was the problem. Wonder how good that had to feel….

Apparently,the Japanese have more money than they know what to do with it. Happy for them, huh?.

Good news if you like peanut butter.

OK…now how about a little fun too?

ZOMBIE ALERT: The librarian at Wretched Oddments warns us about zombies and overdue books. Consider yourself warned.

What would your name be if you were born to Sarah Palin? With names like Track and Trig, Bristol, Willow and Piper, who knows, right?! Click here to find out what your name would be if you were born to Sarah Palin. Mine would be Chase Rooster Palin.

Bozeman! Akron! People – Please! Take care of your goats!

Finally, on a final note….

Gregg at Electric City Weblog has figured out nifty way to to deal with trolls. It’s kinda like the tactic some local businesses use when they post bounced checks behind the counter. Me likes.

by jhwygirl

Following a downright brutal Monday night city council meeting, and in what Keila Szpaller of the Missoulian called “a surprise move”, city council, approved a peer review of the Russell/3rd Street EIS during Wednesday’s Public Works committee. The EIS is currently out for review.

The Russell/3rd Street EIS was produced by HKM Engineering. Nearly all of the work HKM does is for MDOT road projects.

HKM unveiled the draft of the EIS back in April and it was not well received. Many thought it was an abrupt reversal of all information that had been both provided to the public and bythe public during the multiple neighborhood meetings held for the project.

Even in Bozeman, HKM’s work on Rouse Avenue has received much the same reception.

So horrible it was viewed, that Citizens Initiated Their Own Engineering Proposals, and Ward 3’s Councilman Bob Jaffe and Council Goddess Stacy Rye made a referral to the Public Works committee for a peer review of the project’s EIS.

What was “surprising” on Wednesday, is that Dick Haines brought forth a friendly amendment to the referral, requesting a peer review of the Miller Creek EIS. It was gladly accepted and approved on a voice vote.

The review should cost approximately $20,000.

Comments are due on the Russell/3rd Street EIS by October 20th. The thinking is that key components will be reviewed by another engineering firm to confirm (or dispute) HKM’s findings and resulting preferred alternatives. The peer review will be submitted as public comment to the document, as city council’s.

Meanwhile, don’t forget 3 Plus for Russell, which will be holding a presentation at the Rose Park neighborhood meeting on Wednesday Sept 17th at 7pm, St. Paul’s Church, 202 Brooks.

For more information on 3 Plus for Russell, email

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