Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

by jhwygirl

Had a coworker say to me this morning as work begun “What’s with Jon Krakauer? Why does he hate UM?” Tone and history told me where they were on the University of Montana – City of Missoula – Mayor John Engen – President Engstrom rape “thing”: The “It’s over!” “Why bring this up again?” “Jordan Johnson was innocent!” “No one ever proved anything!” crowd.

Whatever. I’ll continue to call bs on the matter if anyone discusses to any great degree – and it’s likely they do so just to get a rise out of me. I’m OK with it. I have a decent memory, and I deal with facts. Google is easily accessible. The #truth was revealed in the Department of Justice report; the statutes of limitations haven’t expired; Montana’s current Attorney General Tim Fox has stated he feels the matter has been resolved; both the previous Governor Brian Schweitzer and the current Governor Steve Bullock have done nothing, either, to press for justice; and – the real kicker here that everyone seems to forget – the rapists walk free. Those are facts, but apparently there are many here that feel comfortable to ignore the reality.

It’s not like this isn’t free and open information – the Missoulian did fine reporting on the matter, and I still thank Gwen Florio for her fearless journalism, along with the editor and publisher that stood behind reporting on the matter while there was some huge advertising and Griz Nation backlash.

I wonder how the vicitims feel? I think of them. Do you think Freddie Van Valkenburg does? Or the ever-so-efficient, John Engen-endorsed Missoula County Attorney Kirsten B. Pabst? I doubt it.

Does Montana Attorney General Tim Fox – who was hot on the campaign pulpit on the issue of sexual predators – think about the gang rape that happened? That President Engstrom’s own “independent” investigator – a former Montana Supreme Court Justice – also found and placed in her report?

Does Fox think about the other sexual assaults? The 5 year old victim? I do.

Krakauer may be facing an unfriendly welcome here in Missoula when (and if) he comes to sign books. Or speak. But it sure isn’t going to be from me. I’m glad he took the rape issue on. I’m glad it’s the rape issue here. I hope he continues to push for the University papers. I hope he finds the alleged connections that are there between the former Governor’s office and his cronies and friends that came to the Board of Regents, and the weave of politics behind the whole sordid mess.

But getting back to my cowoker…..

I said that I wouldn’t be so sure that he hates the University of Montana – that maybe Krakauer loves Montana and just looks for any excuse to come here to write. (I was in a jolly mood this morning – and as I mentioned above, all parties know where I stand on the rape matter. Plus I added my own little sprinkle of sarcasm.)

The reply was that “Well, he hates the Two Cups of Tea guy too.”

And I love pink ponies and rainbows.

Addendum: One of my favorite posts from the University of Montana rape scandal is this from Patrick Duganz, as it epitomizes the head-in-the-sand Good-Ole-Boy’s Club and seemingly socially acceptable rape and sexual assault is (or was, depending on who you ask) here in Missoula: Rape is not “knuckleheaded,” Rape is a felony.

by jhwygirl

By now most of you are aware of Missoula County sheriff candidate Democrat TJ McDermott’s violation of Montana campaign finance laws.

It wasn’t until I read that Missoulian story that I realized how much breaking of the law that was occurring. Yikes. An officer of the law sheriff taking cash value favors and gifts like that from lawyers? If that doesn’t raise a few troubling questions…then there’s the matter of who the firm is: Shouldn’t Datsopoulos Macdonald & Lind know better?

KGVO has the morning radio talk show Talk Back from about 8:15 to 9 a.m. daily. I can’t always catch it, but I try. I usually do catch at least a few minutes of it each day. Today I caught most of it, and KGVO’s Peter Christian and John King had interim Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl on the show, from the airport he was preparing to fly out of.

Today’s (October 9th’s) podcast isn’t up yet, but check back, because I should think that anyone interested in campaign finance would want to hear what he had to say. Motl spoke specifically about his two decisions – one being Clark v. Datsopoulos Macdonald Lind PC and TJ McDermott and the other being Clark v. TJ McDermott.

One of the best take-away’s from that aspect of the show – and in regards, specifically, to Datsopoulos Macdonald and Lind’s role in campaign law violations – was his equation with what Datsopoulos Macdonald and Lind did to what Western Traditions Partnership did for a long list of state GOP legislative candidates a few years back.

The other aspect of the show went into what (I’m going to paraphrase here because the podcast isn’t up) he viewed as what was fairly uniquely Missoula’s less-than-thorough approach to political campaign finance laws. KGVO’s John King has that story up, and again – if you’re interested in Montana campaign finance (if not Missoula) – you should take the time to listen to October 9th’s podcast once it gets up.

KGVO must of caught up later with Molly Howard, a shareholder with Datsopoulos Macdonald and Lind – and Peter Christian posted the response from the law firm. And, you know, after having read the news stories and both findings from Motl (links above), I don’t think Datsopoulos recognizes the seriousness of their violation of state finance law. Howard frames the violation of campaign finance laws simple errors in the “reporting of in-kind contributions” – along with changes in how Motl is defining those in-kind campaign contributions.

Thing is, when I read Motl’s decision involving Datsopoulos, et.al.’s violations, he lays it out pretty clearly that it isn’t merely the failure to report the donations, but the fact that what they are doing requires them to register as a political committee, first.

During this whole investigation, TJ McDermott has already returned some cash back to Datsopoulos, Datsopoulos has yet to register as a political committee.

McDermott frames it as a bookkeeping error, while already having returned money (that’s more than just a failure to report) and Datsopoulos Macdonald and Lind calls it a “reporting error” when it really is a failure to register as a political committee and then, on top of that, error in reporting the donations that the currently non-existing political committee made.

Downplaying violations of state campaign finance laws isn’t a very honorable or responsible thing. All parties should be straight-up owning up to it. As I see it, both McDermott and Datsopoulos Macdonald and Lind seem to fail to recognize the severity of their violation of law.

by jhwygirl

Lizard has had two posts now calling out local democrats – Thanks for Nothing, Democrats and Rape Culture, Missoula Democrats, and Criminalizing Poverty – on their lack of acting with principles most often associated with the Democratic Party.

Lizard points out in his first post that the overwhelmingly progressive city council (yeah, they run as nonpartisans but we all know they’re democrats) are working to criminalize homelessness. He points out that the Board of County Commissioners (all democrats) is suing the feds, saying they’ve no jurisdiction over our county attorney, the illustrious Fred Van Valkenburg, and then Liz points out that oVan Valkenburg – a democrat, himself – chose to not only ignore a county initiative that decriminalized marijuana, but that he actually notched up prosecutions of possession!

A comment from former Poverello Director and State Representative Ellie Hill (HD94 – Missoula) takes us to Lizard’s second post where he takes on former Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir’s recent editorial in support of Van Valkenburg and Missoula County’s lawsuit against the feds. Now, admittedly Muir’s politics are unknown since he wasn’t an elected official – but he is standing not only in support of the very Tea Partyesque lawsuit, he’s also referring to the USDOJ as “ultra-liberal.” Liz then continues on to call out Ms. Hill’s apparent change in positions on her advocacy for the homeless, citing quotes by Hill in Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller’s blog, Missoula Red Tape.

For good measure, Lizard closes out his post with reference to former US Representative Pat Williams’ ‘knucklehead” comment about rapists at the University of Montana, finely documented by the truly lustrous architect of words, Patrick Duganz.

Yes, it’s hard to find what many might refer to as “true progressives” or “good democrats” here in Missoula these days. Wagons are circled, that’s for sure. That “speak no ill” rule certainly applies in state democrat politics.

A few days ago a friend pointed out to me that Ravalli County – a conservative Tea Party bastion – sure knows how to address incompetence, even when it involves what is an elected office. That person was right. With unproven allegations of malfeasance, Ravalli Board of County Commissioners had County Treasurer Valerie Stamey escorted from the building by the county sheriff. They then hired an outside audit firm, brought in a interim treasurer and also a retired judge to independently oversee the investigation. Stamey remains on paid leave as the investigation continues.

Compare that to Missoula County Board of County Commissioners. With serious allegations made by the USDOJ who have quite clearly said that County Attorney Van Valkenburg has “put women’s safety at risk,” Van Valkenenburg apparently still has access to his office! There are not only allegations of violations of state and federal law, there is significant documentation by the USDOJ that civil rights were violated – that’s the kind of stuff that exposes the county to millions of dollars in lawsuits.

Instead, the county steams forward not by addressing the allegations, but on the hope of a now disgraced county attorney who thinks that the feds don’t have jurisdiction over civil rights violations.

This situation is no longer about who has jurisdiction over who – it’s over who violated civil rights and who is going to continue to maintain the status quo.

With documented allegations of civil rights violations and the failure of the Board of County Commissioners to act, it’s not going to be just Fred Van Valkenburg and Missoula County’s name on the lawsuits that have an easy in to being filed. His enablers will also be on the hook, should they fail to act.

And – dare I suggest – that may include the State of Montana, since there are documented allegations of state law in that 20 page document also. I’ve only heard crickets out of Helena, so far.

Missoula was worried about the cost of implementing the USDOJ’s recommendations? They might start to think about those civil rights lawsuits. That stuff can be real real expensive.

Look – Van Valkenburg poked at the dragon. The dragon bit back in a big way. In doing so, the dragon shined a big light on civil rights violations. If anyone things things are going to get easier, they’re dreaming.

Not only that – Van Valkenburg can’t defend himself or the county from these allegations. Consider that. Van Valkenburg had to hire outside council to sue the feds…he and the county sure can’t defend themselves against the civil rights violations that are now on their way down the pike.

by jhwygirl

The Missoula Police Department are investigating a sexual assault on campus. A 19-year old woman has apparently reported a rape, and an 18-year old, known to the woman, is being questioned.

The article is brief, I’m sure because so little is known. That’s not to denigrate the Missoulian, and I’m glad for their reporting, however brief.

What struck me was was last sentence:

Welsh wouldn’t identify whose dorm room it was and said he didn’t know if alcohol played a role in the assault.

I don’t know – it seemed out of place Did public information office offer the statement? Was he asked?

No does mean no.

So was that statement in the context of ‘maybe the guy was drunk, which is why it happened’ as if it were some degree of a mitigating factor? An excuse for why this happened?

Or was it more in the sense of ‘the female might of been drinking,’ so anything she says might not be true?

Perhaps alcohol played a factor because xanax or rohypnol was dropped in the drink?

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me – but if there isn’t much known about the case, maybe alcohol shouldn’t be mentioned until it’s known whether – indeed – alcohol did play a factor. And if it did, it should be mentioned in its full contact.

Because, you know, the mere presence of alcohol isn’t an excuse to rape someone.

And without context, mentioning alcohol perpetuates the myth that it is.

by jhwygirl

I am still stuck at page 17 of the damning USDOJ report serving as all but an indictment of Fred Van Valkenburg, pretty much because I can’t see fit to stomach more shirking of duties and violations of basic civil rights by Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg’s criminal department. More than a few things have stuck with me. I’ve also had some time to read the comments at the Missoulian, too, and feel like firing off on two items this rain-soaked evening.

First off, it appears from the comments to the Missoulian article there is still a large contingent of people out there that seem to hold on to Van Valkenburg’s dream that the USDOJ does not hold authority over his office. Many of these people don’t even address the veracity of the USDOJ report – confirming that rape nation and rape apologists and rape culture thrive here in Missoula.

Scary disgusting stuff, really.

Less disturbing in the comments – but still troubling – is the apparent lack of reading comprehension skills among this group of people. It’s not like they had to read to page 12 or anything. The USDOJ summarily dismisses Van Valkenburg’s whining about the USDOJ’s lack of authority over his office quite thoroughly beginning right there on page one. In the end, the mere fact that Van Valkenburg’s office has taken federal monies suffices here – which I might add illustrates yet another legal inadequacy of Fred Van Valkenburg: contractual law.

Oh, I may as well throw in one more legal inadequacy here – the ability to select competent counsel, since he’s dropped $50K into outside counsel to fight the feds on this point.

I look forward to the Federal District Court’s summary judgement here on this point. A summary judgement is, shall we say, a pretty embarrassing way to lose a case?

The second thing I want to take on this evening is what the title suggests – Van Valkenburg’s office’s role in the USDOJ’s investigation and subsequent settlement with the City of Missoula Police. Here, again, the USDOJ lays out repeated situations where the police investigated and documented only to have their work fall into the black cave that we now know is Van Valkenburg’s County Attorney’s Office.

City police apparently got so frustrated with their work going no where, that they created a summary sheet with a spot for the county attorney’s office to provide feedback. Frequently, these weren’t even returned – and when they were, they usually contained only two words: “insufficient evidence.”

That occurred, btw, on a case where the rapist confessed.

Missoula Police are well-trained. Many would say, too much so. This aspect does, though, bode well – or should – for victims of violent crime. Missoulians certainly are getting their tax dollar’s worth in this aspect. But if Van Valkenburg’s tutelage is failing victims of sexual assault, it’s surely failing us in prosecution of other victims of violent crimes as well.

Van Valkenburg has made much of his complaint that the feds want him to have his own staff investigator. Here, too, the USDOJ makes hay of Van Valkenburg’s claims, pointing out that his office fails to coordinate with the police. While they also fail to coordinate with the police, his office also fails to tell the police where further evidence might be obtained to make a case more easily prosecuted. They’re not telling him to hire his own investigator – they’re telling him he should work together with his law enforcement colleagues.

Which is kinda what the police were looking for when they created a summary sheet and a blank section looking for feedback.

City of Missoula Police referred 85 cases to to the county attorney’s office for prosecution between 2008 and 2012. Charges were only filed on 14. Now, think about that: In an unknown number of reported sexual assaults, the well-trained Missoula Police investigated and came to the conclusion that they had sufficient evidence to file charges on 85 cases, yet the county attorney’s office eliminated 83% of them, without even any feedback to police in 29 of those..

Would that shatter any police officer’s work ethic if 83% of your efforts on just sexual assault crimes were shot down by the county attorney’s office?

From page 9:

In addition, Missoula County Attorney’s Office’s approach to sexual violence in Missoula has had significant, detrimental impacts on the law enforcement community’s overall response to sexual assault. The work of Missoula Police detectives is compromised by the fact that, even if the expend the resources to conduct a comprehensive investigation, the County Attorney’s Office often will not even charge the case. One woman reported that the Missoula Police detective in her case informed her that because “no one had a limb cut off and there was no video of the incident,” prosecutors “wouldn’t see this [the rape} as anything more than a girl getting drunk at a party.” whether or not the detective’s characterization was correct, the County Attorney’s actions over time left this detective – and many others like him – with the understanding that non-stranger sexual assault of women, and especially drug-facilitated sexual assault, mut involve physical force or overwhelming and irrefutable evidence to be considered a crime worthy of prosecution.

Mother Jones reporter and Montana native Dana Liebelson quotes a statement emailed to her by Van Valkenburg: “I think that everything the DOJ is saying about our office is false. These people are as unethical as any I have ever seen. They obviously have a political agenda they want to push and the truth does not matter to them.”

Really Fred? you want to go down whining like an 8 year old? Everyone’s picking on you?

If we’re to believe Van Valkenburg, confessed rapists lie, rape victims lie, and yes, even the Missoula Police lie.

I’m not buying it, and I’m not sorry that I don’t. And neither should you.

by jhwygirl

Was anyone surprised to hear that former Griz football player Trumaine Johnson was arrested on a DUI last night? Probably not. The fact that he’s a NFL cornerback for the St. Louis Rams is whatt made it just a little out of the ordinary.

Only a little.

Reading the Missoulian report, it seems that Trumaine Johnson refused the breathalyzer.

Well now, I thought, “doesn’t he realize we get warrants now in this state when people do that?

But as I read through the Missoulian’s report, it appears the City of Missoula Police merely cited former Griz player Trumaine Johnson for refusing the breath test, along with another citation for driving without headlights and the DUI charge.

Awww, isn’t that nice?

So Johnson will get off with some minor traffic tickets. No evidence for the DUI will make that a tough conviction.

I’m sure it was jet lag.

He was caught at Front and Owen. Which is St. Patrick’s Hospital property, and about 3 blocks from the Emergency Room entrance where blood tests are, I suspect, pretty easy to obtain.

Not only is Johnson getting special treatment from the City of Missoula PD, it looks like the NFL has already decided his fate – they’re gonna hit him up with a little dent in his beer money.

Real leadership failure all the way around. You wonder why we have situations like we have here and in Steubenville and scores of other communities? It’s a systemic failure.

One of those “it takes a village” moments.

by jhwygirl

A little over two weeks ago, Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller brought us the story that the city of Missoula has wrongfully arrested and even jailed people on illegal warrants issued over the past 10 years.

That’s a pretty big deal – and you have to assume she didn’t get much love from anyone in the city for looking into to wrongful arrests. The issue stems in a large part from illegal warrants.

There’s also been the mistaken identity thing – and this past weekend, the Missoulian detailed just that in the arrest of a man 30 years older than the man they should have been arresting.

Which says something about the arresting officers, does it not? I mean – imagine trying to tell them they’ve got the wrong person and they’re not even looking over their paperwork? Good lord!

I know a lot of people don’t give a crap about stuff like this. I’ve been told – when discussing the death penalty and the possibility of killing an innocent person – that “well, they were doing something wrong if they were arrested,” as if the people that get wrongfully arrested somehow had it coming to them. Even if they aren’t guilty of the crime for which the state is putting them to death.

I was very disturbed by Keila’s story. I witnessed a situation just as she writes of last year….and while I considered then and even try now to write something about it, I know it is not in anyone’s best interests that I do it here. Which I why I have much respect for Ms. Spzaller for having written that article. She didn’t make any friends and I highly doubt anyone was overly helpful as she dug for information.

So for me there were layers of disturbing to that story. Aside from the somewhat personal connection to the topic, as a citizen of Missoula it’s pretty disturbing to know that civil rights violations are going on with people being jailed unlawfully. Understanding the lack of places to turn to for assistance makes it even worse. Small towns tend to protect themselves.

What I also found disturbing was the attitudes expressed by city officials concerning such illegal arrest warrants. Spzaller starts off her story with this statement:

City officials say the incidents are rare and that Municipal Court has revised its procedures so it no longer issues bad warrants. The matter is a concern, said Judge Kathleen Jenks, but she knows of only a couple of people wrongfully detained on the invalid warrants.

“Really, there aren’t that many people getting picked up on old, illegal warrants,” Jenks said.

I don’t know who the city officials are that she refers to, but “rare” incidents of illegal arrest are – I’m sorry – a pretty big friggin’ deal.

Now, it’s clear from the article that new Judge Jenks has taken steps to try and keep these illegal arrests from continuing, but to acknowledge “only a couple of people” have been illegally arrested and to be quoted saying that “there aren’t that many people” being arrested on illegal warrants seems a bit flippant to me.

Szpaller speaks with deputy city attorney Carrie Garber:

In the worst-case scenario, a person is arrested on the weekend and remains in custody for two days because they can’t bail out, Garber said. The illegal warrants affect the people who are least able to pay a $50 or $200 bond; many people may not even know their arrest was improper, she said.

Garber said the practice took place for years, and she would not be surprised to find that “hundreds” of people went to jail because of it. When Judge Marie Andersen worked in the court, she started the practice of reviewing files before signing warrants, Garber said.

Garber said she tried unsuccessfully to encourage Louden to change the procedure, and she’s pleased Judge Jenks has done so.

In a worst-case scenario??? The practice took place for years?? She would not be surprised to find hundreds went to jail on illegal arrest warrants?? Louden didn’t give a shit??

Gerber’s boss, apparently, wasn’t giving a crap.

One quote that has really stuck in my craw since reading it back on January 27th, and it was one that came from long time city attorney Jim Nugent:

He isn’t aware of any recent arrests, and no one has sued the city over the matter, Nugent said. People may seek legal recourse if they believe their rights have been violated, but they must show they’ve been harmed, he said.

“They’d have to show damages,” Nugent said. “I don’t think a lot of money would be at issue because what’s their damages?”

“Because what’s their damages?”??? That quote there hearkens back to the conversation I relay above on the death penalty. These illegal arrests don’t mean much because..at some point the person had done something wrong so it doesn’t matter?

They don’t mean anything because these people that we’re arresting illegally don’t have the means to come back and sue us and even if they did, they don’t make a lot of money so whatever damages they incur would be minor?

They don’t mean anything because no one is going to believe them?

If you haven’t read Keila’s article, please do. It’s a worthy read.

Good newspaper writing, at it’s best – serving the public’s best interests, even when it isn’t easy.

by jhwygirl

For nearly 20 years, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been authorized and reauthorized – twice – by Congress and signed by three different U.S. presidents into law. The latest reauthorization, though, has met some bumps. Guess where: House Republicans.

In late April, the Senate passed a reauthorization of the VAWA that included protections for LGBTQ and Native American survivors of violence – on a bipartisan vote. That reauthorization was not without it’s Tea Party attacks, though: Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Kay Bailey-Hutchinson (Texas) joined together for an amendment that modified or eliminated protections for female immigrants, Native women and those in same-sex relationships. It also would have eliminated the ability of tribal courts to prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence. It failed.

Iowa has a fast-growing Native American population. Texas, given that it borders Mexico, has an extremely large immigrant population. Native American women violent crime at a rate three and a half times greater than the national average, while Grassley charged that tribal courts were “unconstitutional.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) also offered an amendment – wishing to increase mandatory minimum sentences. Advocates for the VAWA, though, didn’t support that amendment due to the believe that it would result in survivors of violence becoming more reluctant to report incidents. This, too, failed. No big government hypocrisy there/snark.

Certainly you can see how Kay, Chuck & John were looking out for their constituencies.

Well, the House Tea Party crowd – including Montana’s own Denny “don’t let the door hit ya’ where the good Lord split ya” Rehberg passed its own version of the VAWA, pulling back in the Senate Tea Party amendments – on a largely party-line vote.

Denny never did look out for Montanans. ‘Nuf said about that.

TOMORROW, Save Wiyabi, the Salish-Kootenai College’s chapter of the Native Youth Leadership Alliance, and Montana’s very fabulous Western Native Voice are sponsoring an action day in Pablo to raise awareness on the importance of the VAWA, and its importance to the Native American community.

The action begins at 11, with everyone meeting at 11 a.m. at the bridge on campus. Lauren Chief Elk, founder of the Wiyabi Project, is one of the speakers, and information will be available for those looking for more information.

The VAWA is important. It’s disturbing that, after so many years of bipartisan support, that this act protecting women has become a political football. That Tea Party Republicans (like Denny Rehberg) thought to remove protections for Native Americans, immigrants and lgbtq is even more repulsive.

Lauren Chief Elk wrote an excellent piece detailing the importance of the VAWA, especially to the Native American communities. It includes numerous informative links along with case law on the VAWA – I highly recommend it, especially for any legislator here in Montana that might want to attempt protections for women here at the state level.

My headline, you can see, was poached from her piece. What else do you call it when Tea Party Republicans refuse to reauthorize an act that has successfully reduced violence towards women for nearly 2 decades?

Finally, I will note – the Senate version of the VAWA reduced program funding by 17%.

A thir

by jhwygirl

In case you missed it, supermontanareporter John S. Adams busted out in his blog this morning with a preview of tomorrow (Tuesday) night’s Frontline on PBS, titled Big Sky, Big Money.

It’s a political “BOOM” if I’ve ever seen one – pulling together a strange connection of a stolen car, a meth dealer, the Montana GOP and American Traditions Partnership, ProPublica paired up with Frontline, releasing their report this morning.

I’m still reading through it all, but all I can say right now is that I’m really disgusted. What the ProPublica/Frontline report lays out is NOT a group of one or two bad individuals, but really an institutionalized and flagrant disregard for Montana law.

For a party that attempts to Lord some sort of moral superiority over Democrats. Or liberals. Or progressives – it’s a pretty sickening case of hypocrisy. They like the salutation “Patriot”? More like “Traitor.”

What’s clear is this: The Montana GOP are running candidates that are flagrantly violating established Montana law. This isn’t some sort of Ed Butcher bloc of crazies. The ProPublica/Frontline reports on 23 Montana legislators? How many more are there that we don’t know?

These guys swear to uphold the Montana and the U.S. Constitution. Obviously, it means nothing – they’ve got their own interpretation of it, and that’s how they fly.

It’s disgraceful.

Set your DVR’s for 8:30 p.m. tomorrow. Go read What everyone’s talking about: Big Sky, Big Money” over at The Lowdown – he’s got tons of links.

By JC

“Thinking about Image and Truth.” With those words, last week the Missoula Independent in its “etc.” editorial column took the Jezebel article that has been making waves around the country, to task:

“Last week at the Indy, there were groans as staffers read the website Jezebel’s article “My weekend in America’s so-called rape capital.” It was the product of writer Katie J.M. Baker’s recent trip to Missoula…

Clearly, Baker came with an agenda, coupled with the belief that she was the only feminist to step foot in town, and she ignored the kinds of complexities that could have made her story interesting.”

Wow. So the Indy now believes that anyone who tries to come to Missoula to get an independent outsider’s view of what may be going on also gets tagged as distorting the truth about rape culture in Missoula. That they are unable to comprehend the “complexities” of this town that would make the story more interesting to them.

Instead of just letting the story stand on its own as adding to the body of information to be written about what is wrong in Missoula — the story contains extensive reporting from interviews Baker held with Missoulians — the writer of the Indy’s editorial decided to invoke “Image and Truth” in such a way as to discredit Baker. What an un-friggin’-believable ad hominem attack on Baker. And kudos to the Missoulian and our own jhwygirl for following the story wherever it may lead, and to expose whomever needs to get some light shone on them.

Then the Indy author had the temerity to attempt some back-handed hypocritical and censorial journalistic slap by telling Baker her work was useless, and instead suggest what should and shouldn’t be written about Missoula:

“And yet, to depict Missoula as a place overrun with dumb kids who condone rape is disingenuous and useless. A better story might have asked how a town with such a good reputation, one constantly spotlighted in outdoors and travel magazines, fell so far—and a better story would have asked what we’re going to do about it.”

Well, no… Baker did not depict Missoula as “a place overrun with dumb kids who condone rape”, that’s the Indy’s strawman at work. Baker simply let the words of Missoulians speak for themselves and reported them with some commentary and factual context. What is disingenuous and useless is for Missoula’s so-called liberal and progressive alternative weekly to lambast other journalists, when they have yet to do any useful reporting on the one topic that is roiling our community. So watch out all you journalists and bloggers out there. If you don’t write about rape in Missoula to the Indy’s standards, you’re going to get attacked. Must defend image, even at the expense of the truth.

Hey Indy, why don’t you write the stories you wish others would have (instead of writing the ones that got your staff groaning). Why don’t you write some articles about how far Missoula has fallen from its celebrated high-lights and what we are going to do about it? Isn’t that your job? Or is your job to criticize those who are attempting to put some outside perspective on our good-ole-boy network and tolerance of rape culture, because… maybe it hurts your bottom line somehow?

So yeah, you got me thinking about image and truth. About how our community gets so caught up in the fishbowl phenomena that we can’t even comprehend an outside perspective on our problems (and yeah, I’m talking about you too, Fred Van Valkenberg and your disbelief at being the subject of a federal investigation).

And you know what, I think the Indy’s editorial take on Baker’s story on rape in Missoula — let’s beat up on the messenger — is about as unproductive and damaging as can be, and will do nothing to bring the dialog and soul-searching needed in this community to address the issues and bring about change. It serves to stifle independent thought, investigation and debate. You are a part of the problem here, Missoula Independent. Try being a part of the solution, instead.

by jhwygirl

The disgusting underbelly of the good old boy’s club – ‘you cover our ass, we’ll cover yours’ mentality – has been pretty much laid bare over this weekend in a series of articles from the Missoulian’s Gwen Florio.

On Saturday we got Emails show UM, city accounts differ on Saudi rape suspect and UM dean implicated 4 football players in gang rape, emails reveal – a lowlight hightlight of that being U. Montana Vice President and thug Jim Foley’s great offense to the term “gang rape” and that the university’s own legal council David Aronofsky had been advised by the National Association of College and University Attorneys that hiding a felon behind the student code of conduct may violate state laws.

Geez – you have to go to law school to know that? Because that’s what many of us have been complaining about for months.

And just to repeat a salient point here – when you deny someone justice, you have violated their civil rights.

Just in case anyone is wondering why the U.S. Justice Department civil rights division is in town.

I also tend to think that Coach Pflugrad won’t be showing up to that office he still has over there at U. Montana.

This morning we get even nastier news that thug Foley sought to use the so-called Student Code of Conduct against the rape victim who had been speaking publicly about the handling of the rape and sexual assault cases at the U.

AT WHAT POINT IS FOLEY GONE? FOR THE SAKE OF THE UNIVERSITY AND ALL STUDENTS ON CAMPUS, I DON’T CARE WHAT IT COST – GET THIS THUG OUT OF THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM. PERIOD.

The fact that his questions were even friggin’ tolerated among university administration who were part of his emails on this tactic – the story naming then-Dean of Students Charles Coutur, chief council David Aranofsky, and UM’s director of equal opportunity and affirmative action Lucy France – is beyond comprehension.

At this point, if every parent in this state – if every parent of every out of state child – and if every alumni from everywhere hasn’t contacted the Montana Board of Regents to direct them to take a comprehensive investigation and correction of this malfeasance, then they should be now.

Even more disgusting for Missoulians, the every-so-pleasant Mayor John Engen was right in there with U Montana’s Vice President Tim Foley and President Royce Engstrom. Working feverishly to protect the University of Montana image (and those that had violated the rights of sexual assault victims), even after Engstrom & Co. had facilitated the escape of the Saudi rapist – while violating the civil rights of Missoula City Police officer Geoff Curtis.

Progressive Mayor Engen? Calling a cop out on the carpet and sending him to apologize to UM President Royce Engstrom for an email he send while off duty and from his private email account?

And just to repeat a salient point here – the First Amendment which protects free speech is a civil right.

How does an elected official send a police officer – who is charged with enforcing the law and protecting the rights of others – off to apologize for exercising his right to free speech? The pornographic assault on the constitution with just this one incident is simply astounding.

And sure – there will still be those out there defending our illustrious Mayor Engen, because after all, he’s a nice fun guy. Tells lots of great jokes at parties.

Katie J. M. Baker at Jezebel picked up an important piece of information (imo) in her weekend in the U.S.’s new Rape Capitol – and those of you still wishing to give the oh-so-nice Mayor John Engen a pass would do wise to take notice. Because things aren’t going to change here until all of the problem players are held in check.

Ms. Baker refers to Engen’s interview with CNN’s with Erin Burnett, which I had caught live. I was caught off guard with Burnett quizzing Engen on reports that the police were hading out pamphlets on false reporting penalties to rape and assault victims. Engen’s interview had left me upset not only for his inability – even with the justice department in town looking into civil rights violations – to grasp the seriousness of situation, but also his convoluted excuse-making for Chief Muir’s handing out of pamphlets.

Engen also falsely puts forth that Muir didn’t believe in the literature he was handing out. Now – anyone that pays attention here in Missoula knows that Muir did put forth that most rape reports were false until he was corrected by council woman Cynthia Wolken.

Ms. Baker went a digging on that one and spoke with the woman who had brought forth that allegation.

The next few weeks were even more frustrating for Kerry. The detective assigned to her case canceled meetings, failed to call her back, and told Kerry “not to expect much.” After interviewing a tearful Gabe, the detective concluded he was so distraught that he was possibly suicidal. “I was like, great, I’m glad you’re so concerned about his well-being,” Kerry said. When she asked Police Chief Muir why it mattered if she had a boyfriend, he told her that most rape reports are false. After she argued that, in fact, generally accepted data suggests only about six percent are indeed false, Muir emailed her a dubious 2009 report from The Forensic Examiner supporting his claims. “I guess I just didn’t want you to think I was just pulling stuff out of thin air,” he wrote.

Engen defending Police Chief Muir without having the full picture was just a glimpse into his draw-the-wagon’s-up-boys mentality…and it’s even uglier now to look at now that we know the exchange between him and Engstrom…and that he sent a police officer over to apologize for criticizing the university.

Jezebel took a beating in the comments on her post a little – Missoulians and/or UMontana connected people attaching her for coming into “my town” and “my university.” I read Jezebel with too irregularity (I admit) but I do know they don’t give a shit about being criticized. Goddess bless ’em, because this story needs all the attention it can garner.

Even today, in the comments of the Missoulian – with emails of Engen and Engstrom and Foley exposed – there are those that continue to defend the entire group of sycophantic administrators complicit in Missoula and the university’s rape and sexual assault problem.

I know that isn’t what Missoula is about. Goddess help us if it is.

by jhwygirl

County Attorney Fred Val Valkenburg was one of at least two Missoula officials who fired back at the U.S. Justice Department today with a denial of any wrong doing, saying that “we are deeply disturbed” by the allegations and current investigation into any wrongdoings by the county attorney, city police and the University of Montana of their handling of rape & sexual assault cases here in Missoula.

Van Valkenburg is only now “deeply disturbed”?

All I can say to that is “Finally.”

~~~
The U.S. Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for the civil rights division Thomas Perez answered back to Van Valkenburg:

We don’t know (what has gone wrong.) That is why we are conducting an investigation. Ahh – there are a lot of women in this community and there are a lot of other stakeholders in this community who have strong concerns right now about the manner in which sexual assaults have been handled.

The DOJ’s preliminary investigation says that there were over 80 rapes in Missoula over the last 3 years, and 11 reported in the last 18 months involving University of Montana students.

80 rapes here in the City of Missoula over the last 3 years, and only now are Chief Muir and Van Valkenburg “deeply disturbed.”

Join the club. I’ve been a bit disgusted myself over the last few months.

(A thanks to kpax news tonight – I couldn’t find the video they used for tonight’s 10 p.m. news, otherwise I’d of linked to it. Van Valkenburg and Perez’s statements were taken from that report.)

By JC

Just a quickie here today to tie together Jhwygirl’s recent uncovering of another of Missoula’s nanny state laws and the shrinking 4th Amendment with Lizard’s ongoing analysis of foreign policy American Imperialism and the democratic party, and Political Nihilism.

For those who pay attention to such things, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 last week to cement in place some foreign policy tactics in a withering of 4th Amendment protections. David Bromwich does an excellent job connecting the dots between democrats’ lilly-livered approach to both reigning in American Hegemony, and  protecting civil liberties in his recent article “Strip Search Nation (Including The Authoritarian Catechism):”

What might easily not be known about this case [Florence v. County of Burlington]… is that the Obama administration sided with the authoritarians on the court in supporting the right of prison officials to command a strip search. A Justice Department lawyer, Nicole A. Saharsky, offered these words to clarify the view shared by President Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder: “When you have a rule that treats everyone the same, you don’t have folks that are singled out. You don’t have any security gaps.” The Obama case for abrogation of the fourth amendment in prison thus turns on a lofty non-discriminatory aim: the safety and democracy of prisons. A level playing field of humiliation.

But is it true to say that no “folks” are “singled out” by such a procedure? Albert Florence [whom had been arrested for not paying a fine, which in fact he had already paid] is a black man. In 2009, blacks made up 13.6 percent of the U.S. population, but they were 39.4 percent of the prison population. So let us say it straight. The Obama-Holder view favors the universal application of the strip-search to a situation where some folks, after all, have been singled out as an observable pattern of the usual practice of the system.

Well, of course we all want to say this could never happen to any of us, but here is what the Obama Administration just acquiesced to for treatment of any of us being brought into custody for any reason–yes even a cell phone texting, non-fine paying warrant, in Missoula:

Petitioner [Florence] claims that he also had to open his mouth, lift his tongue, hold out his arms, turn around, and lift his genitals. At the second jail, petitioner, like other arriving detainees, had to remove his clothing while an officer looked for body markings, wounds, and contraband; had an officer look at his ears, nose, mouth, hair, scalp, fingers, hands, armpits, and other body openings; had a mandatory shower; and had his clothes examined. Petitioner claims that he was also required to lift his genitals, turn around, and cough while squatting.”

So think about that next time you get all cocky about thumbing your nose at Missoula’s nanny laws.

But to link this move with our country’s foreign policy escapades, Bromwich offers the following:

“Foreign policy has come home in the form of pepper spray, Tasers, and strip searches. But there is a practice closer to the Florence case. A mass experiment in the reduction of political self-respect occurs and is reinforced every day, in every airport in the country, in the body scans and pat-downs performed by the TSA. Some of the latter work is necessary, of course, while a strip search of a man with a parking ticket is not necessary. Still, the common experience and the exceptional one are clearly related. The government wore people down and achieved acceptance of the first practice, and that prepared the way for official endorsement of the second. Once again, a political and moral aberration has been redescribed and turned into an approved policy…

Justice Breyer wrote in his dissent: “such a search of an individual arrested for a minor offense that does not involve drugs or violence — say a traffic offense, a regulatory offense, an essentially civil matter, or any other such misdemeanor — is an ‘unreasonable search’ forbidden by the Fourth Amendment, unless prison authorities have reasonable suspicion to believe that the individual possesses drugs or other contraband.” You do not have to be an elaborately educated or refined reader of the Constitution to judge that such indeed is the meaning of the fourth amendment.

The words are great and they deserve to be remembered. Here is what the fourth amendment says:

~The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.~

How steep is the descent from these words to the new rule by which a majority of the Supreme Court, with a president and an attorney general at their side, have now elected to challenge the constitutional presumption against arbitrary searches and seizures? We will know for sure when we see the next in the series of anti-Constitutional experiments begun by Bush and Cheney and continued by Barack Obama.”

I’ll leave you all with this wonderful little ditty Bromwich included (after the jump), to remind you of your place in the democrat version of the New World Order: Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

University of Montana President Engstrom attended a forum this afternoon on the recent assaults at the university and continued to defend his actions, stating that the university “did everything right.”

You can read a re-hashing (along with links) of his malfeasance here.

This guy has had a couple of nights to sleep on it, and yet he’s still out there defending his actions, which led to the assailant’s escape back to his home country.

Unreal. Has he talked to the victim’s parents? What do they have to say about Engstrom’s self-perceived success?

Extremely annoying to me is that he’s continuing to whine about the media – like he did on Friday – regarding their 7-day lag time to notify the students of the assault. And to be clear here, there are many legitimate criticisms regarding whether they went far enough notifying students.

In tonight’s Montana Kaimin article, Engstrom more specifically defends this position by stating that the first assault wasn’t reported as a sexual assault (though the victim has stated to the paper that “the man grabbed her and forced her to kiss him after she was made to drink something which made her sick and caused her to have trouble moving.”) That he didn’t find out about the second assault until the 17th – that one being reported as rape.

Now, let’s state a few seemingly obvious things:
Assault is assault. Apparently Engstrom didn’t find anything too distressing about a woman reporting that someone held her against her will and poured alcohol down her throat, after which she threw up.

Second: Rohypnol anyone? Does that first “assault” not reek of rohypnol? Please.

Third: UMontana had the assailants name from date of the incident, albeit about 12 hours later, on February 10th. They had the assailants name.

Forth: Again, assault is assault. This is where, I think, Engstrom is trying to split hairs, justifying his 7-day delay in doing anything at all (except facilitate the rapist’s escape.) It doesn’t fly for me…

Which is where I come back to the headline: Engstrom? If the “media” has it wrong – if the Missoulian has it wrong, if the Kaimin has it wrong – call for a retraction. Because your lame excuses aren’t working.

Not only that – he’s gotten caught in his web of lies with his timeline during today’s press conference, someone having pointed out to him that President’s day was on the 20th, not the 13th (which is part of his excuse – that 3-day weekend – to the delay in getting news out of the assaults.)

His reply? That he’s going to have to “reexamine the timeline.”

Boy – you’d think he’d of had his story straight by now.

~~~~~
Wednesday brings another press conference, this one jointly held, at Missoula City Hall, with President Engstrom, ASUM President Gursky and Missoula Mayor John Engen. It begins at 11 a.m. Wednesday at City Hall and will speak to issues regarding campus and city responsibilities in sexual assault cases.

by jhwygirl

…because covering the tracks of rapists and enabling those that do the same isn’t something you “get a pass” on.

…because who investigates the investigators when they allow criminals to go free? And publicly defends their actions?

The ongoing, uninvestigated, unprosecuted assaults – including sexual assault and rape – at the University of Montana are enraging. First let’s review some of the recent facts:

1. The University of Montana Public Safety Office was made aware of a Feb. 10th assault on Feb. 10th. (read Montana Kaimen, Feb. 24) It appears that Public Safety was given the assailant’s name.

2. On the Tuesday 14th, UM’s Dean of Students Charles Couture called the victim, and set up a meeting for that Friday, Feb. 17. (No immediacy there, huh?)

3. Sometime after the 14th, the victim becomes aware of another similar assault, contacts that student (Student One).

4. Both students go to the Feb. 17th meeting with Couture – both students meeting each other at the meeting. It is clear that Couture was aware of the identify of the assailant and that he was here under a visa.

5. At 4:51 p.m., Friday Feb. 17th an email is sent to UMontana students warning of the two assaults: “It can be assumed that conditions continue to exist that may pose a threat to members and guests of the community.” (It can be assumed? Really? THEY HAD THE NAME OF THE ASSAILANT!)

6. At 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21, the Missoulian prints this story with the headline “Man suspected of sexually assaulting UM students known, but police not pursuing.” Missoula City Police could not, at this time, do anything as they did not yet have a complaint filed with them.

6. Sometime that same day, both women went to the Missoula City Police Department. Each spoke and gave a statement to a different detective and both picked the assailant’s picture out of a lineup.

7. Missoula City Police begin an investigation the next day, the women having contacted the police late on Tuesday.

8. That article hints at what, apparently, is justice for rape under the Student Code of Conduct: “Dean of Students Charles Couture also is investigating the reports. UM student code of conduct guidelines allow the university to expel students found to have committed the most egregious violations, such as sexual assault.” “Allows” being the key word.

9. Missoula finds out on Friday that the Saudi assailant has left the country.

Wow. Under a microscope for how they address sexual assault and this is what they do? There’s more….

President Engstrom held a Friday afternoon press conference (apparently even Foley won’t touch this one, which is too bad – he has plenty of experience in these types of issues) defending his interference with the Missoula City Police investigation. From the Missoulian:

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

“We can let people know we have dealt with these (alleged assaults) and that particular perpetrator is gone,” Engstrom said.

KPAX has this video of Engstrom’s press conference, where Engstrom (doesn’t) explain why they didn’t report the first assault (Student Two) and that they didn’t find out about the second assault until Friday the 17th., and since they didn’t know there were two until Friday, no one should be complaining.

What else do we find out in the Missoulian article? That the assailant had been contacted repeatedly by UM Dean of Students Charles Couture before fleeing the country.

The University had the name of the assailant. They knew he was a Saudi national and that he had a visa. From the get-go. They informed the guy – who conveniently had an attorney present – that he was being accused of sexual assault.

I’d really love to know when they met with the solidly-identified assailant/rapist. Because if they did it after Tuesday when both of those victims had gone to the police, then the University interfered with a felony investigation, and they should be prosecuted accordingly.

That Student Code of Conduct is pretty convenient for rapists and other persons prone to violent crimes – the University will give you a head’s up and not notify authorities when you are a foreigner so that you can escape with no accountability for your crimes.

I feel for the victims. I can’t fathom how they feel.

City of Missoula? Don’t you feel safe?

Parents, grandparents? How you feeling about your female family members attending the University of Montana?

Which brings me to our Board of Regents, which oversees the state university system, and its newly-hired Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian. Christian told the Missoulian that he is pleased with President Engstrom’s handling of this most recent situation:

“I’ve been extremely pleased with how President Engstrom and his staff are handling the situation and I’m confident they’re doing a good job managing these things.”

The paid chief administrator, Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian says this on Friday? Knowing all of this?

Commissioner Clayton, btw, is owner of Stewart Title Company here in Missoula.

We are talking RAPE here Montana. RAPE. Daughters, sisters… If that makes you uncomfortable, I strongly suggest you get over it. People do not get a pass on rape. Rapists don’t get a pass on committing it, and the University of Montana shouldn’t get a pass when they protect the criminals who commit RAPE.

If you are a student at the University of Montana, it is clear you can not call or contact the University Public Safety (or the Dean or the President or a Vice President) if you are a victim. It is also clear that if you witness a crime, you can not call or contact the University Public Safety (or the Dean or the President or a Vice President) either.

9-1-1 calls also get routed to the Public Safety.

Call 523-6300. Program that number into your phone. If you witness anything, if you are the victim of anything, contact the City of Missoula Police. Any delay only ensures that President Engstrom and his crew will send the criminals on their merry way.

by Pete Talbot

Can sustainability reduce crime?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by jhwygirl

It’s a pretty hefty charge to make, but as Missoula County resident, #OccupyMissoula participant and attorney Taryn Hart points out, it’s unsafe for not only the occupiers, but for the intoxicated people Missoula City Police are allegedly dropping off at the occupation, located on the Missoula County Courthouse lawn.

A tactic, she explains at her blog Plutocracy Files, used by police against Occupy movements across the nation.

Occupy Missoula is an alcohol and drug-free encampment. The agreed to this on day #1. To hear that city police are delivering intoxicated and belligerent people off at the encampment is troubling.

This is something that should be troubling to the community, too. These types of actions can leave the City exposed to any number of lawsuits should something occur which results in injury or death.

Hear it in Ms. Hart’s words:

I had heard from several of the 24/7 occupiers at Occupy Missoula that the police have dropped off drunken, belligerent people at the occupation. I happened to be there when just that happened. A woman who was extremely drunk and was belligerent was dropped off by Officer Kasey Williams of the Missoula Police Department, Badge #348. She headed directly into the occupation and was belligerent and threatening. This very small occupation was forced to handle this on their own (which, by the way, they did very well).

As soon as I left I called Sgt. Jerry Odlin to speak to him about it. I informed him of the situation and informed him that the occupation has rules prohibiting intoxication. He denied that anything had been done to create disruption at the Occupy Missoula occupation.

These are serious claims to make. Taryn Hart has put herself out there in her own words with specific allegations to this incident. She is calling on not only the community but the media to contact both the Missoulian and Missoula Mayor Engen to let them know that this type of behavior is unacceptable and dangerous and needs to stop.

~~~~
I’m also going to add this – I caught KECI NBC Montana’s report on Occupy Missoula either Wednesday or Thursday evening, with Steve Fetveit speaking of “feces in the bushes,” while Heidi Meili countered – with a distressed look on her face and concern in her voice – about the “health risks” exposed to the community.

Now – I don’t get downtown every day, and I don’t know if anyone’s ever noticed but we’ve got homeless people here in Missoula. In fact, there are homeless people everywhere across the nation. There has been – again, in fact – homeless people around on this earth since the beginning of time. Some of them have mental issues, and others have no other choice – it’s a mix of humanity, much as it is for those who sleep in beds under roofed structures.

Homeless people – and this is a factual reality – don’t have easy access to bathrooms. I am not saying that what occurs because of this reality is acceptable by any means, but I am saying this is a factor that, it appears, many people have chosen to push out of their mind as they turn their sight (and voice) to the plight of homeless people.

Having been to the Missoula County courthouse a few times, I can tell you that there was feces – and lots of other stuff – hanging out there in the bushes for a long long time. This spring – or was it last fall? – they were doing some renovations down there. Couldn’t enter in through the front door. Well, I had walked up to that front door not paying attention as I sipped my soy chai latte, no foam, from Broadway Bagels…which left me having to tramp to the west side door out by the parking lot on the side of the building.

I got to walk by all those bushes and squeeze through the line of them over there bordering the parking lot. It looked like people were living in there. There was clothing and bundles and garbage. All kinds of crap – and I do mean, literally, crap. I remember noting at the time how odd it was that the County Courthouse, such a visible public place, could house such an amount of humanity and its garbage behind the bushes and no one seemed to notice.

Maybe Steve Fetveit should do the gentlemanly thing and accompany Heidi Meili in her perfectly coiffed hair and 3 1/2″ heels down to the Missoula County Courthouse – in broad daylight so as to ensure their safety – and ask a few people down there how many bags of garbage and crap they carted out of the grounds of the courthouse in the first few days of #occupyMissoula?

Maybe Steve Febveit Heidi Meili should then take a short walk up to the Poverello Center during the lunch hour to see the unwashed homeless as they gather for one of the three warm meals a day they may be lucky to get – along with a chance to perhaps wash up and go to the restroom. Ask ’em where they go to the bathroom during the night.

The news may shock those news reporters.

There are insufficient services here for the homeless. Homelessness is a fact of humanity. Grow up and deal with it. Occupy Missoula is and has been since the first day. Hell – I stood on the courthouse lawn the first day and a homeless lady came up and, asking me if I was in charge, continued to berate me for not having anything more to eat than salad.

Does Occupy Missoula have a homeless problem? You bet ya. Its the same homeless problems that Missoula has had since this earth produced man on earth.

Appalled by feces as the Courthouse people? It didn’t magically show up with Occupy Missoula.

by jhwygirl

There’s been some pretty shocking video out of University of California-Davis over the last several days. 99% of the reaction has been that people were horrified and disgusted by the police actions.

For myself, I must be numb. The blatent disregard the UCDavis cops had for the students they are paid to protect – protect – has been played out all over the country in cities across America. Police beating with billy clubs and people beating them with fists and body slams? Police pepper spraying – pepper spraying randomly and with malice? Police firing guns with rubber pellets and tear gas and other various projectiles? It’s been played out in NYC, in Portland, in Phoenix, in Denver…Pittsburgh…LA..Oakland. Everywhere.

All of this directed at masses of peaceful protesters. People angry at the banking system and corporatization of America. An America that is making money on money – and leaving real America- the 99% – out floating in its wake.

And let’s make not mistake – peaceful protestors shouting angrily about their protest issues does not necessitate a need for mob control. We are not seeing mass vandalism, people. We are seeing mass protest and over reaction by police which incites mobs and results – sometimes and not all the time and you all know this to be true – some actual property destruction.

On Friday, UCDavis chancellor ordered the #occupy occupation tents removed. Cops come in with full riot gear, and..well…started beating on not only students, but also a poet laureate and Wordsworth scholar, along with their colleagues who had gone down to bear witness to the alleged violence of the students. Here is the first video that I saw of Friday’s removal:

It’s bizarre. It’s troubling – and again, remember my numbness to these scenes of violence. I see this stuff day in day out on twitter – regular network news doesn’t even have time in their 20-second sound bite rule to cover this stuff, yet alone fit it into their corporate-biased agenda. But did you watch to the end? At 8 minutes long, I wonder how many of you bailed about half-way through?

Sometime late Saturday someone posted the video below which shows the same situation from another angle, with a longer lead in – and it cuts out the events that occurred late in the video I posted above:

It was this second video that sickened even the numb jhwygirl. The vitrol the one lead officer directed at peaceful students – children for crying out loud! – is stomach-turning. I feel the pain of the woman you can hear in the background screaming (and later crying) “you are supposed to protect them!” as the cops, with determination and deliberation, pepper spray those kids at close range while they sit peacefully on the sidewalk of their campus.

Goddess, what has this nation come to?

My numbness though requires me to try and find something good – a sanity mechanism I’m learning ;) – and it is the end of that first video (and less so the second) which shows the police’s full retreat.

Those police stood there in full riot gear facing down peaceful protesting students sitting on a sidewalk. Hundreds stood there in witness – all of which included cameras and cell phones and video cameras. It wasn’t just students standing there – it was news media and university personnel. Yet those cops stood there as a handful pointed guns (likely loaded with pepper spray balls or rubber bullets) at eye and head level. Those cops stood there in bullet proof vests and masks and watched as a colleague stood like some sort of cattle master over those peaceful students and shook up that pepper spray – and at one point double-fisted himself with the stuff, having grabbed a fellow cops can – and marched up and down in attempts to intimidate peaceful students sitting on a sidewalk with that pepper spray.

For what? Control of the sidewalk?

And yet even after he emptied a can of pepper spray on those kids and only one or two ran after the pain was inflicted, those cops were safe. The only rush was to the safety of those students – and yet those cops who are sworn to protect left those students in bodily harm (pepper spray is NOT harmless folks…it can blind, and in this case it did cause bleeding) and beat back the people who attempted to protect and assist.

What is moving about those two videos is the safety of those disgusting officers who violated multiple laws and policies by doing what they did…

What is moving is the safety they had as they retreated from their failed attempt to clear a sidewalk. A friggin’ sidewalk.

What is moving is the obvious fear that the same officer who inflicted the pepper spray exhibited as he retreated – and his companion officers who continued to point those rifles at the heads of those peaceful protestors and their accompanying witnesses.

Did they cry when they shut the door of their office or their car after they completed their retreat? Do they look at this video and realize the complete shame of what they did? Do the ones that stood guard realize the sin of their complicity?

I have some understanding of mob mentality, I’d like to think – so I wonder what those cops thought after they exhaled that evening. After they saw themselves on film.

Finally – last night UC Davis’ Chancellor Katehi took a late night walk to her car. The campus is now filled with protesters. And Chancellor Katehi – who had said on Saturday that the police use of pepper spray was justified because her and the staff at the university felt threatened – walked in silence and shame to her car.

I bet she was shaking once her and her companion drove away. And I bet she cried too.

by jhwygirl

It’s not a violation of Montana’s election laws for a candidate to post a photograph of a marked absentee ballot on Facebook.

Good Goddess. I read the first sentence of this news article and wondered what idiot would think that posting your completed absentee ballot for people to see would be illegal.

Look no further than criminal and former state GOP executive director Jake Eaton and and tea party activist Jennifer Olsen

I’m no lawyer, nor do I play one on this blog, but how stupid do you have to be to see the law (“secret ballot“) and think that it means anything more than a person has the right to a secret ballot.

That if they don’t want it to be secret, it’s up to them and falls under free speech.

What is it with Eaton, reading things into laws that aren’t there (see those underlined links above and gosh darn it, when is a county attorney worth his salary going to file felony charges against Jake Eaton for (at minimum) swearing out a false affidavit and (at maximum) fraudulently interfered with a federal election? What is the statute of limitations on this crime.

Is there not one county attorney for any of the counties affected that respects the integrity of the electoral process enough to take steps that would send a message to political whore operatives like Jake Eaton that you can’t screw with elections?

{breath}

I am serious about that though.

{breath}

Back to Jake Eaton and his tea party activist cohort Jennifer Olsen: How much of a nanny-state government interference do they want? How “small-government” can these Einstein’s be if they’re going to file complaints based on their lack of reading comprehension or common sense.

Someone needs to teach these fools what a real election violation looks like.

by jhwygir

For up-to-the-moment news from an affected landowner, please read Alexis Bonogofsky’s twitter timeline.

Of greatest interest today, she reports that Exxon did not send out their specialized crews today.

Nice, huh?

While MSNBC reports that Exxon officials are now saying the spill could extend beyond the 10 miles they’ve originally reported.

You don’t say? And I’m loving those qualifiers (could? Really? We’re in flood!)

Please take notice of the wildlife photos on that MSNBC story.

On that note, Ms. Bonogofsky, ranch owner of Blue Creek Farms has also reported on the immediate loss of wildlife from her Yellowstone River ranch.

I cry for her loss. It is heartbreaking to hear of this devastation. I wish there was something I could do.

Watch Mike Scott, who is co-owner with Alexis of Blue Creek farms, question Exxon in this KTVQ-NBC Billings report and video.

And again – on that note – ranch owners Alexis and Mike were kicked out of the press conference and public officials did nothing to stop this banishment.

The agriculture industry is being ruined down there along the Yellowstone and public officials are allowing Exxon to clean up their image by keeping affected landowners out of press conferences? Shame to any and all who escorted Alexis and Mike out of that press conference.

by jhwygirl

The story develops – this from the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

Pruessing (Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co. president) also said that the 12-inch pipeline had been temporarily shut down in May because of concerns over the rising waters on the Yellowstone. He said the company decided to restart the line after examining its safety record and deciding the risk was low.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, which oversees pipelines, last year issued a warning letter to Exxon Mobil that cited seven safety violations along the ruptured Silvertip pipeline. Two of the warnings faulted the company for its emergency response and pipeline corrosion training.

And this…

The 20-year-old pipeline was last inspected in 2009 using a robotic device that travels through the line looking for corrosion, dents or other problems, Pruessing said. Tests to determine the pipeline’s depth were taken in December, and at the time, the line appeared to be 5 to 8 feet below the riverbed, he said.

So Exxon inspected the line and provided the report. These are guys with a history of safety violations – yes, here in Montana too.

Please notice the language “the line appeared to be 5 to 8 feet below the riverbed”. Did they inspect it or not? How could you be off by 5 to 8 feet? Or was that a guess?

Why the government hasn’t learned its lesson over self-regulation is beyond me. At minimum, the permitting process should included ongoing fees for inspections, and the government should be hiring 3rd party contractors to do these inspections.

by Pete Talbot

There’s a reason why we have two sets of laws for criminal activity: one for adults and one for kids. As I understand it, adults have a better understanding of right and wrong, and need to be held accountable for their actions. Kids, on the other hand, don’t have quite as developed a sense of the consequences of their actions.

That’s why we don’t straddle kids with the same sentences that are handed down to adults. It’s why, if a kid keeps his or her nose clean after committing a crime in their youth, we tend to expunge their records. That way, maybe the kid can grow up to have a productive life without the stigma of a criminal record.

Rep. Janna Taylor (R-Dayton) wants 16-and 17-year-olds convicted of vehicular homicide while under the influence to do hard time — say, 30 years in the state pen.

Granted, Montana has a serious DUI problem. The legislature has a number of bills in the hopper that will address this issue but this particular bill is as bad as it is ineffective:

“It is very questionable whether laws like these would have a deterrent effect,” said Niki Zupanic of the ACLU of Montana. “We are now piling on more and more crimes and pushing more and more juveniles into an adult corrections system.”

Just another example of compassionate conservatism: instead of educating our kids to the dangers of driving impaired, wait until they’ve killed somebody, send them to Deer Lodge and then throw away the key.


By Duganz

Just seven months after 9/11 I attempted to board a flight for Washington, D.C.

I was 17, a junior in high school. Oh, and I was this huge punk rock geek boy who had blue hair, wore (embarrassingly enough) several sets of studs and spikes, about three feet of chain on my wallet, and a Fat Wreck Chords hoodie every day.

So, to some degree, I get why I was held on the floor of the Missoula Airport by two armed National Guardsmen while I was patted down and my shoes were confiscated. I spent a great deal of time trying to look like trouble, and these guys bought the facade. Still, I remind you, I was 17 and a freaking kid from Anaconda, Montana. I had never once been arrested (not for lack of effort on the part of my hometown’s police force). I didn’t do drugs, or drink alcohol. Even more telling, I was on a school trip sponsored by Close Up Washington, which you had to apply to. I was for all intents and purposes a good kid–one with blue hair, but a good kid.

But that morning in April 2002 I was held as if I were a danger to America. Another guy I went to school with was held as well. He was a redneck, boot wearin’, big buckle kinda guy, so maybe my hopes that I was messed with for my hair is misplaced.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. The issue is that I was treated like a criminal because I did not know my Chuck’s were setting off the metal detector, and that lack of knowledge got me searched by two guys with guns.

The main point here is that I was scared shitless for absolutely no reason because I was never a threat, and the government had no right to assume I was.

The Transportation Safety Administration treated me poorly because they were afraid of planes blowing up, and the world ending. It was just a few months after we saw 3,000 people die on TV on a looping repeat of media pandering, and propagandist fear mongering. I get where they were coming from. That said, I am a firm believer in the following words:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

That’s the Fourth Amendment, and what a grand message it is. Coming right after amendments giving me right to words, guns, and keeping the Army out of my home, the Fourth means that police cannot just stop and search you without cause, or a warrant––one that is specific in what they will search.

The TSA ignores this of course by assuming one thing: You want to kill people. If they do not believe that, then they are violating your civil rights, as well as mine. And for what? What the hell does the TSA actually accomplish? Last time I checked one nutcase nearly blew up a plane with his shoe, and another (Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab) tried setting his crotch on fire. (Ironically the TSA isn’t sure these new scanners would detect the infamous crotch bomb, so that’s nice.)

Both made it through security, and onto airplanes–hell, Richard Reed did it the month after the TSA began. Imagine if within 30 days of starting a job you made that huge of a mistake. You’d be fired. But, luckily our government is slow, woefully inefficient, and all about look instead of effort, so everyone kept their jobs.

Here’s some numbers: the TSA has more than 56,000 employees, and a budget of $8.1 billion to accomplish jack. I mean, come on, you’d think with that amount of money and that many people watching it wouldn’t come down to people on flights stopping terrorism.

Well, the government felt that way too, so they’ve recently added a fresh indignity to the business of flight: the naked scanner.

There have been plenty of blog posts and articles written about just how awful these things are, but in case you haven’t seen evidence, this is straight from the government:

As you can see in the third picture (from the left) that’s a penis. Also, the woman, first picture, has some love handles and a flabby ass (image 2). The TSA says that they delete the images, but, um, they don’t. Honestly, does that matter that much after a stranger gets to see your crotch? Aren’t you exposed too much even if the image is deleted? And isn’t it unnerving that a government that won’t allow “profanity” on TV will do this to it’s citizens? (“Sorry, you can’t show Janet Jackson’s nipple, unless you’re checking it for weaponry.”)

But, after all of that I have on observation to make:

You’re only scanned at the security gate. That’s it. If a terrorist wants to make an impression this holiday season, Mr./Ms. Martyr only needs to get in the crowd, and detonate. Getting on a plane with a bomb would endanger between 30 and 200 people. Blowing up at the crowded security gates…well, that’d make for some dead infidels.

So how the hell is the TSA making us safe? It ain’t.

The TSA is the window dressing our government likes to put up to satiate the needs of frightened middle class white people. They do things like this so you can feel a bit safer, and feel is it. You only feel. It isn’t real. It’s like HCR, the “missile defense shield,” or Jell-O. It’s just something to make you feel better, but ultimately provides nothing. Even if it apparently makes some anti-liberty nutbags feel better (One, Two).

But there are things you can do: Opt out of the scanner, and while you’re being given a pat down help educate the government official stomping on your rights by showing them a handy copy of the Bill of Rights. I carry one with my ACLU membership card. And speaking of the ACLU, they are on our side, so feel free to help them by joining.

Also remember this: your liberties are not worth sacrificing for the idea of safety.

***

Update at 10pm, Monday:

My wife wishes to add two points:

  • She is sad that I will no longer be allowed to fly, and
  • Magician/libertarian Penn Jillette turned me on to the tiny Bill of Rights cards, so give credit where credit is due.

“It was an accident… I’ll leave it at that.”

–Montana State Senator Greg Barkus on his drunken and near fatal escapade last year
barkus drunken crash site
By JC

With his November 29th trial pending on three felony counts for “piloting” his boat with Denny Rehberg and staff to a near fatal crash on a rocky outcropping on Flathead Lake, outgoing Montana State Senator Greg Barkus decided that the cards were stacked against him, and filed for a plea agreement. And of course, his attorney waited until the day after the election to file the motion:

Glazier said the timing of his motion for a change-of-plea hearing – one day after the Nov. 2 election, which saw Rehberg re-elected to a sixth term – had nothing to do with politics. The date of the filing had only to do with the court’s scheduling docket and the fact that plea negotiations have wrapped up.

“Quite frankly, it didn’t even cross my mind,” Glazier said. “He’s termed out anyway, so the election wasn’t a concern.”

So… let’s get this straight. The lawyer for a prominent politician didn’t even think that filing a motion the day after the election had any political motive? And that the passenger on that boat was a U.S. Congressional Respresentative running for reelection, and whose name was on that ballot?

That flies in the face of all sensibilities. Of course, the real political move was done when the judge set the trial date for almost a month after the election. Just a minor detail so the defense could have a little plausible deniability.

And of course, the details of the plea bargain won’t be known for a while:

[Flathead County Attorney Ed] Corrigan was not available for comment on Monday, but Vickie Eggum, administrator for the Flathead County Attorney’s Office, said details of the agreement would not be released until the document had been signed and finalized.

Hmmm… That’s the same Ed Corrigan who endorsed Senator Barkus as being “tough on crime.”

Let’s just see how tough on crime big Ed turns out to be. Of course, in the era where some peeps have greater privileges than others, who you are dictates how you are charged, and how your crimes are settled in “plea agreements.”

Let’s not forget the case last summer where the Morgan Stanley Wealth Manager, Martin Erzinger, recently had his hit and run charges reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, because…well, he drove a Mercedes, and a felony might impact his job, and…blah, blah, blah.

Senator Barkus is term limited, and doesn’t have a job to worry about. But he has friends in high places. Some who boast about being tough on crime. Let’s just see how tough they are on Denny Rehberg’s friend, even when he almost killed Rehberg, and left Rehberg’s Chief of Staff with a brain injury and other disabilities that he’ll have to deal with the rest of his life.

And finally, I’ll leave you with a quote from commenter madderthanhell at the Great Falls Tribune who sums up my feelings rather well:

“No, Greg, it was not an accident, you were drunk off your rear”

Once more, a well-connected politician who believes the law does not apply to him commits a crime and seriously injures the people around him and will walk away with his get out of jail free card intact. How can someone with no code of ethics act ethically in the legislature? To say nothing of those who helped him skirt the law.

“It was an accident,” he said. “I’ll leave it at that.” No, Greg, it was not an accident, you were drunk off your rear and it was reckless endangerment at best, attempted manslaughter at worst. You deserve to wake up in a 6×8 cell next to Otis, the drunk. Oh wait, I forgot, you are Otis the drunk. Hey Greg, give us a preview of what your gonna do next year, be DUI and run over a hooker somewhere?

by jhwygirl

I know I’ve come across his name recently and I know he’s been back in the state for some time now – but when I read this comment from Left in the West’s Matt Singer, I got pretty pissed.

In a just world, election fraud of the sort perpetrated by Eaton wouldn’t result in termination. It would result in prison time.

This, by the way, is why I didn’t vote for Fred Van Valkenburg for prosecutor (without an alternate option, I left the race blank). When he decides to do his job, he’ll get my vote again.

Amen to that…

The Indy’s Alex Sakariassen got on the story first thing today…but I like Jay’s biased assessment just fine.

See – Jake Eaton committed fraud 2 years ago. Damned near exactly two years ago, actually. He fraudulently signed off on a document, swearing by affidavit that I had changed my address when I hadn’t. He had no information to support that, either.

I’m but one – but one should be enough to go looking at the rest of the 6,000 or so voter challenges he swore out by affidavit to counties around the state.

My opinion about this has not changed. Jake Eaton committed fraud. He disrupted an election. He cost taxpayers around the state quite a bit of money.

Far as I know, there’s no statute of limitations. Frankly, it should be an insult for any election officer in this state – and for any county attorney of any county that got these fraudulent voter challenges – to know that Jake Eaton is not only back in this state, but reinstated firmly with a working on Montana GOP election activity.

by jhwygirl

This post has been corrected.

Political campaign robo-calls are illegal in Montana, per Montana Code Annotated 45-8-216. Maybe someone needs to tell Tom Burnett, Republican candidate for Bozeman House District 63…..or the marketing firm making the calls, Marketplace One, with a phone number of 319-294-7021.

That would be CHICAGO IOWA, folks.

Yep – Burnett’s even got himself an out-of-state marketing firm.

Chicago sure is making a lot of money off of Montana elections, isn’t it? (I’d strike this, but it’s still true. Guess I could add IOWA too, now.)

What makes this even most indefensible is that the robo-call sounds to have been recorded by Tom Burnett himself. He talks about “recent attacks from my opponents [plural] against my ‘record’.”

Record? Burnett has never held public office.

I haven’t much patience for breaking the law – especially from people seeking lawmaker status. Beyond that, breaking campaign law is pretty despicably low – what can Pomnichowski do? File a complaint? Political Practices has a backlog as it is. It’s two weeks before the election.

Burnett can’t even run a fair and legal campaign.

Tom Burnett can’t follow state law as a candidate – let’s hope Montanans don’t get stuck with him a legislator.

JP Pomnichowski is the incumbent for this seat, and Burnett’s opponent. I have a link to her campaign over there on the right. JP is a fine legislator, who has been endorsed by the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. In fact, I’ve done quite a number of posts that have mentioned Pomnichowski. Check it out.

by jhwygirl

Here we go again.

Not even a month after this season’s first ‘incident’.

I guess we’re starting on year 3 of this kind of activity (odd that this link from this previous post doesn’t go to the article that the Kaimin did last year.

Maybe someone will fix that?

As for last night’s incident, Hauck mighta recruited Stuberg – a third year sophomore – but Pflugrad is apparently content to continue with this academic underachiever.

I point that out because the Grizz team may have criminals – but it also has enablers.

Because, right or wrong, it’s all “Win Win Win!”

~~~~~~
Speaking of enablers, the state has yet to replace King George Dennison – he gave the opening address to the newest round of students last week.




  • Pages

  • Recent Comments

    Miles on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    success rate for In… on Thirty years ago ARCO killed A…
    Warrior for the Lord on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Linda Kelley-Miller on The Dark Side of Colorado
    Dan on A New Shelter for Vets or an E…
    Former Prosecutor Se… on Former Chief Deputy County Att…
    JediPeaceFrog on Montana AG Tim Fox and US Rep.…
  • Recent Posts

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,673,230 hits
  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 2,736 other followers

  • December 2019
    S M T W T F S
    « Oct    
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • Categories