Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

by jhwygirl

Last month Director had told the Legislature’s Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee that their review of Exxon/Imperial Oil’s environmental analysis (yep, the applicant submitted the ea) would be completed by August 15th….while later he backtracked and said that he didn’t expect to have it by the end of August.

Well, here we are, middle-of-September, and the bad news continues to pile on. Forest Supervisors of both the Lolo and the Clearwater National Forests oppose the plans to move the rigs up and over Lolo Pass…and Oregon’s U.S. Representative Pete Fazio is >calling for an investigation into Exxon/Imperial Oil’s plans to ship giant equipment through Idaho and western Montana to an energy project in Canada.

Apparently the Helena National Forest is OK with the plans to move the Korean-built bohemaths up and over Roger’s Pass – yep, no potential there for major disruption…

Not only does the bad news continue to pile on, but Lynch had promised the EA “by early September.”

One does have to ponder the Lolo National Forest Supervisor’s current position – given that they had to rescind their decision to bury powerlines (the request the result of Exxon/Imperial Oil’s transport plans) given that they failed to consult with the tribes – Lolo Pass the site of the ancient native Nez Pierce tribe’s Nimi’ipuu trail.

Wonder because while they are taking comment on the proposal to bury the powerlines through September 24th and the scoping period is exactly (and only) 30 days. Rather odd considering both the controversy surrounding the project and the fact that the scoping is the result of them having overlooked even scoping the thing in the first place, don’t you think?

You can read the notice here and check the map out on the specifics here.

Let’s note, too, that the scoping notice does not mention the application is the result of Exxon/Imperial Oil’s need to have the lines buried so they can move their oil modules. It does, in fact, state the purpose of the initiation of the request by Missoula Electrical Cooperative is to “improve long-term service to local residences and businesses.”

Really?

Still, too, one has to ponder if MEC should really be the applicant? Isn’t Exxon/Imperial Oil paying for this burial? Or is it the customers of MEC? It does lay open the question, doesn’t it? Given that the stated purpose on the scoping notice is to improve long-term service to its customers?

Shame on the Lolo for misrepresenting that line burial project. Check out that map…there’s quite a bit of that line burial that is immediately adjact to Lolo Creek, endangered bull trout habitat.

Are lines being buried on the Clearwater National Forest? What permits are needed from both of these forests? Why doesn’t the fact that these transport plans affect at least 3 National Forests this thing isn’t being analyzed under a full NEPA environmental impact statement?

Why doesn’t the fact that this entire transport plan crosses multiple state jurisdictions and multiple countries warrant a full NEPA EIS by the Feds? Is our security that lax? Is the concern that little?

Hopefully the hypocrisy of the Lolo’s public notice for the burial of these powerlines won’t go un-noticed.

The public and our County Commissioners and City Council should provide comment asking the Lolo National Forest to ensure that it re-notice the application to note the full purpose of the project…and analyze the full effect of the connected actions of this proposal – the effects both here and in Canada on the Athabasca tribal peoples.

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.

by jhwygirl

So confirms Montana GOP Chairman Will Deschamps to Missoula Independent reporter Jessica Mayrer who took to trying to better understand (and report) the Montana GOP’s stance on homosexual acts.

Deschamps seems pretty nonplussed by all the stir:

As I recall there was very little discussion when that came to the floor,” he says. “It went through very rapidly.

I imagine him saying it with a nice calm smile.

I have friends that are gay and lesbian. I have one family member who is. Odds are, considering how large my extended family is, there are more. I recently found out that a very very good friend from high school is a lesbian. I met the news with some shock, in thinking of how she had felt the need to hid something so basic to her very soul.

How any human can think to criminalize sexuality – something so basic to nature – and not unique to the human race, either – is beyond comprehension.

I won’t look the other way. I won’t ignore it as if it isn’t important. These are people. Good people. Sons, daughters, brothers, sisters – fathers and mothers, frankly.

This aspect of the platform is advocating for something illegal. It is unconstitutional. It is inhumane. It’s ignorant.

Frankly – I think it’s a bit perverted, too.

Let me also say that I don’t believe that all Republicans think this way. This is a party platform, and I’ve presented this issue as such. Looking the other way, though, is not an option. It shouldn’t be. I’m obviously not a Republican (frankly, I don’t know that I’m going to call myself a Democrat anymore, either) – but if I were, I’d be making some phone calls and writing some letters and lord knows what else.

By JC

It seems that Montana’s junior Senator and Banking Committee member, Jon Tester, has been resorting to some two-stepping to add to his double-speak with his newest routine with Wall Street Lobbyists. Despite Jon’s contentions that he is doing what is best for his Montana constituents, it seems that a series of votes on the Financial Regulation package that just cleared the Senate speak volumes about his true intentions: preserving Wall Street campaign contributions.

Over at Left in the West, an OpEd written by “The Office of Sen. Jon Tester,” and published by the Huffington Post, seems to be designed to head off criticism of the Senator’s latest votes:

“The U.S. Senate made history on May 20. We passed a powerful bill that finally holds Wall Street accountable. It finally cleans up the schemes and abuses that nearly brought our entire economy to its knees.

Most importantly, the Wall Street reform bill once and for all ends taxpayer-funded bailouts of Wall Street banks and investment firms. It finally gets rid of the notion that one private company can somehow be ‘too big to fail.'”

Well, aside from the fact that our economy is still on its knees, having neatly “assumed the position” in many instances (Goldman and BP, I’m looking at you), once again our faux populist Senator would have us believe he’s doing the people’s business. As I wrote in my article a few weeks ago about Tester’s vote against the Brown-Kaufman amendment, which would have capped the size of big banks, relative to GDP, it seems that Jon’s actions spoke much louder than his words:

“The Brown-Kaufman amendment was the one strong point of regulation that would cut to the heart of why Wall Street has become immune to the will of the people. Crony capitalism, and corrupt corporatism are the guiding forces in Washington D.C. these days. It is no longer the will of the people–or the best intentions of once-innocent politicians–that governs our nation. It is corporate money and the influence it buys direct from Wall Street that has taken a stranglehold on our political and economic system.”

Well, after Tester’s latest attempt at foofaraw with his OpEd, I decided to take a look at what else is going on in the Senator’s world. It seems that he not only voted against Brown-Kaufman, he voted against Sen. Durbin’s bank card transaction fee amendment, which would have capped the fees we pay when we use our debit cards at the checkout counter. Those fees amount to a $19.71 billion dollar industry, with 80% being paid back to the issuing banks as profit. So your bank is profiting on you to the tune of 1.63% on each transaction. Which is more than your bank paid you for interest for a whole year of holding onto your money.

I guess Jon is OK with this. A little extra goodness for Wall Street to pay its lobbyists… so they can hold parties for, and give contributions to, senators who vote with them. Nothing like preserving almost $16 billion in profits for the big banks, after the regs were excluded from all the small community banks that Tester seemed to be protecting.

Senator Durbin designed this amendment to help small businesses and consumers–businesses because they lose 1.63% on each transaction they process with debit cards, and consumers, because those costs are taken directly out of their bank account and given to banks as a profit:

By early in the week Mr. Durbin’s staff was confident that a majority of senators would support the measure, particularly after he made changes to limit the impact on small banks, a powerful constituency that many senators are loath to cross.

The largest change limits the new price controls to cards issued only by the very largest banks, those with at least $10 billion in assets. As a result, the pricing controls will affect only about 65 percent of debit card transactions, staff members said.”

So Durbin tweaked the bill to attract senators who were worried by its impact on small banks, like Senator Tester claimed in a press release explaining why he voted against the Durbin amendment:

“My vote against this amendment was a vote to preserve the critical role community banks have in strengthening America’s small businesses and rural communities.

My vote against this amendment was a vote for Montana consumers, families, small businesses, farmers and ranchers and all who depend on their community banks. I stand with folks on Main Street as we reform Wall Street.”

I guess this is pretty much the definition of double-speak.

Now let’s get on with the two-step. It seems that on March 16th, our good Senator, who campaigned as a man of ethics and transparency, was the recipient of a “Pre-St. Patrick’s Day Reception” put on by a host of lobbyists–including bankers and Wall Street insiders. Now that couldn’t have had anything to do with any of his votes and attempts to sidestep any backlash from them, would it?

As the NY Times put it:

“And this was not an easy vote. Lobbyists for the wounded but formidable banking industry made clear to some senators that this decision would affect future campaign donations, according to people who participated in those conversations.”

Well, let’s just see who some of those lobbyists were that put on the party for Jon. According to the Sunlight Foundation:

“the fundraisers ranged from a “pre-St.Patrick’s Day” reception for Banking Committee member Jon Tester, D-Mont., on March 16 that asked for $100 to $1,000 in contributions, to a breakfast for Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, of the Agriculture Committee on March 10 that asked for contributions ranging from $500 to $2,000…

Tester’s fundraiser was hosted by 28 people, at least two of whom have disclosed lobbying on financial reform this year: Mitchell Feuer who represents Goldman Sachs, the Citigroup Management Corporation, Barclays PLC, Genworth Financial, Visa U.S.A., the Appraisal Institute, FX Alliance LLC, the Farm Credit Council and the LCH.Clearnet Group, and Thompson Reuters; and Shannon Finley who represents the Edison Electric Institute, Rent A Center and the Home Depot…

In addition to raising money for the beneficiaries, the lobbyists hosting the events also had a chance for face time with other influential lawmakers.”

Face time. Yeah… Just whose face was where??? And as I wrote over at LitW yesterday:

“Worse, he’s turned into a poser

At least that’s what this sort of PR over FinReg shows me. He thinks his constituents are too stupid to understand finance and its regulation, and he can speak out both sides of his mouth. All the while pocketing Wall Street lobbyist money.

So now that he’s bought and paid for by Wall Street lobbyists, they held a big “Pre-St. Patrick’s Day” party for him in his honor a while back. Look over the names of the lobbyists who put it on, and you’ll get the message. Here’s a sample:

Mitchell Feuer of the Rich Feuer Group. Mitchell lists Goldman Sachs and Citigroup among his Wall street clientele.

Niles Godes: lobbyist for Sallie Mae

Shannon Finley: Lobbyist fot The Americans Bankers Association

And there’s more. But I’m headed to the (real) “Farmer’s” market. A dirt farmer no longer, that Tester fella. He’s got real dirt on his hands now with his new circle of partying friends.

Sad. So sad. Another one bites the dust. No wonder he didn’t vote for Brown-Kaufman. Doing damage control for his new Wall Street buddies.

Signed, sealed, and delivered. ‘Two-step’ Tester.
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testerparty

by jhwygirl

That’s what many said to the State Land Board (and to 3 of its 5 members, Governor Schweitzer, Secretary of State Linda McDulloch and Auditor Monica Lindeen) before then went ahead anyway and approved the Otter Creek coal leases.

Not before – let’s not forget – a poorly orchestrated show between Governor Schweitzer and Linda McCulloch, who first added a bonus bid of 15 cents/ton. Four of ’em played along in that one (with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau casting the lone dissenting vote), but in the end, even Attorney General Steve Bullock changed his mind, seeing through the corporate welfare that was, eventually, approved – a 40% drop in price (and let’s not feign that this was in any way a “bid” given that only one entity could competitively bid on it, given the land-locked nature of the state lands involved and the fact that the bidder is the one that land-locks the land) along with a $57 million instant subsidy of the coal corporate giants.

Can’t forget, either, that a railroad that will also need to be condemned through Montana’s eminent domain laws – that’s condemnation of private land in the interest of a private corporate entity, folks – a railroad that will save that private corporate entity well in the range of $100 million a year in hauling costs from Wyoming’s extensive coal fields down south.

Don’t try and tell me that coal isn’t subsidized – a industry as old as the world is still gaining both federal and state subsidy to operate. Ridiculous.

Oh, yeah – there was more. The votes were disappointing (Schweitzer, McCulloch and Monica I-campaigned-on-a-biodiesel-bus Lindeen). Even Button Valley was getting an overload of it, as was I, as Governor Brian Schweitizer headed out around the state pushing on communities to sign a oath to coal in order to get their legislatively appropriated stimulus money.

An illegal transgression that was largely overlooked – as was the stashing of that Otter Creek bid money in this year’s general budget instead of going to schools as it is legally obligated to do (along with that whole the-legislature-is-the-only-lawful-appropriator-of-money thing). It’s something that is coming home to roost, those illegal transgressions, and quickly becoming a private joke amongst many of us who railed against both of these things when they were occurring.

But we’ll leave that for another post, and the real journalists who are already asking the questions. Enable once, shame on you..enable twice, shame again…but sure as hell don’t get indignant about it the third time around…

Enter now Northern Plains Resource Council, the Wildlife Federation, Montana Environmental Information Center and the Sierra Club, who collectively filed two lawsuits this week challenging the Otter Creek coal lease approval.

NPRC and WF said that the state land board failed to adequately analyze the environmental effects of the project. MEIC and SC challenged on the basis of the economic and global warming effects of the project.

There are a myriad of problems with Otter Creek. I’m mystified as to the embracing – in a state that seems to champion individual property rights – of a project that will railroad over the private property rights of individuals (pun intended).

I’m also mystified that a state – in a time of general budget distress not only internally, but nationwide – would dish out such corporate welfare to the detriment of our very own children’s education funding.

What’s the real shame is that Montana’s citizens – and its very worthy non-profits – have to sue to get the state to meet its constitutional obligations outlined in what is known in our state constitution as the Montana Environmental Policy Act.

This can not and should not be taken lightly. I don’t care how many laws that the legislature passes or tries to pass attacking it. This is a constitutional guarantee. Guarantee. And this word can not be overemphasized enough. This isn’t some old state constitution. It is a modern document, with words that were carefully chosen, discussed and debated in modern many-remember-them times. Guarantee was not a word chosen or placed lightly, and it leaves little room for discussion.

It is the law of the land. Our state agencies, our land board and our Governor all have the obligation to make sure that guarantee is met each and every day. Shame on them for having to be sued to comply with constitutional obligations.

by jhwygirl

No one is responsible for anything any more.

That’s from guest host on tonight’s Rachael Maddow Show Chris Hayes, Washington editor for The Nation. He listed off all kinds of ‘passing the buck’ blame games, from 9/11 (Bush passing the blame onto everyone but his own administration) to Katrina (Mayor Nagin blaming everyone but himself for any role in the disaster that unfolded) to the latest, the oil volcano spurting in the Gulf of Mexico – a deep-water well that was categorically excluded from the National Environmental Protection Act by the Mineral Management Bureau of the Department of the Interior.

Today BP, Halliburton and Transocean all were called on the floor of the Senate to answer questions as to who’s to fault for the disaster.

BP (who holds the categorically excluded oil lease) blamed Transocean, the owner of the rig that exploded….Transocean blamed Halliburton for a “failed cement” job, and Halliburton blamed BP, since they own the lease.

Three monkeys, all pointing at each other – and isn’t that just the way?

It’s getting old. This scene has played out in politics for far too long. Frankly, I’m a little sick and tired of government calling whomever up to the floor of congress – and I don’t care if it’s the head of FEMA, the head of the FBI, or bank or oil executives – to ask hard questions and then none of it goes anywhere.

Congress should be looking at themselves. Seriously. They’re as much to blame, frankly, as the BP/Halliburton/Transocean monkeys that were up there in D.C. today.

It’s not as if these events result in a review of government regulations as they exist….what continues is self-enforcement and self-policing of industries as important to the core of our economy as banking – and no solutions proposed with actual follow-through legislation to the problem as they laid it bare in front of America via C-Span and MSNBC.

Just one more bit of rant, if ya’all will indulge me – When WHEN are we going to rid ourselves of Halliburton?! How many gosh darn times do they have to be called up to the Senate before someone figures out a way to dissolve this piece of crap corporation that has ripped off Americans; disregarded our soldier’s safety so much so that sons and daughters have come home from Iraq and Afghanistan in body bags due to their negligence; the raping of civilians in foreign countries under the protection of government contracts; and now the latest environmental disaster laying out before us in the Gulf.

Was anyone surprised when they heard Halliburton was involved in this latest disaster? I know I wasn’t.

What is they say? Those that can’t learn from their history are doomed to repeat it?

by jhwygirl

First day of winter, it is – and longest day of the year. With winter formally upon us, and the holidays bearing down, its easy to forget that while this time of the year puts us indoors more than usual, there are people out there who eat and sleep and live outside, lacking a roof over their head, yet alone a soft bed to sleep in.

The National Coalition for the Homeless has organized National Homeless Person’s Memorial Day as a way to remind America that there are people that not only live but that die on our streets.

How many homeless die on the streets and roads of Missoula? How many this year? I admittedly don’t know. Because I don’t know doesn’t make those men and women not exist. They rarely get a mention in the news or elsewhere. It’s why homelessness is so difficult – it often lacks a face, a name. Two were mentioned in the paper this year – but without a name, there’s not much but a few sentences. Beyond that, the homeless were of little consequence in our day-to-day news, our day-to-day lives.

The homeless are to American what the untouchables are to India. Make no mistake – there’s little difference.

America the beautiful. America the great.

~~~~~~~
You can help out Missoula’s homeless assistance and crisis center, The Poverello Center by donating here.

by jhwygirl

Lacking an identifying tag, the thing’s illegal, right?

Publisher, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of NewWest Publishing Jonathan Weber was walking his pet in his families subdivision – in the open space area owned in common with all of the homeowners – along a trail used by many when his dog got snagged in an untagged trap placed 10 feet from the trail.

Fortunately, Weber’s Norwegian elk hound is fine, save for some bruises – and the trauma inflicted upon Weber and his son.

All the more shocking is that when Weber went back to check the situation out further – once boy and dogs were back home safe – the trap had already been reset.

His report on the Thanksgiving day incident, though, brought out all sorts of utterly shocking and senseless accusations against Weber as having staged the event. While it’s not shocking – it the same tactic trapping advocates and enthusiasts, some of them from out-of-state, have done around here when we’ve mentioned other irresponsible trapping behavior – the attacks have been taken to heart, understandably so, by the Weber family who have had to experience the trauma of their family pet (and it could easily have had far tragic results) being caught in the trap.

While I get that advocates of trapping would pay attention to the story – they are currently mounting a massive effort to defeating a ballot initiative by Footloose Montana that would halt trapping on public lands here in Montana – but to accuse an award-winning journalist of having staged the event does their cause no good that I can see.

Fact is, I suspect it’s the same out-of-state interests that have trolled this site when we’ve posted about trapping in the past…none of it positive. It’s amazing to me the money that is poured into this state by out-of-state interests on a variety of issues – guns, coal, trapping are a few examples – and our state legislators listen to these lobbyists who are doing nothing more than using Montana as its pawn for its national interests. A win here chalks one more up on the map for these folks…many who parrot talking points that include ‘facts’ not even applicable here in Montana.

And aside from all that, it really bugs me how trapping advocates seem to toss aside any animal, whether it be bald eagle or threatened Canada lynx or the neighbor’s golden retriever, as something that didn’t belong there or ‘that’s the way it goes sometimes,’ defense.

Point is folks – attacking a bona-fide nationally respected journalist on his home turf of an award-winning online news media site has little chance of bringing trapping advocates the positive press they are going to need so badly. Recognizing that there are jackasses out there doing what responsible trappers would never consider is one way to move forward a reasonable dialogue regarding laws and regulations that protect both the trapping public and the general recreating public.

But defending every documented negative trapping-related incident isn’t going to get those advocates anywhere.

by jhwygirl

I expect negative stuff from this crew during an election, but John Hendrickson has sunk to new lows with a radio spot done in such a way that most listeners would be left to believe Mayor John Engen has endorsed the guy. The Missoula Independent’s Skylar Browning was first on the story, in its must-read-daily blog.

Hendrickson has been so ineffective in his last 4 years on council that he can not find anyone or anything to say something positive about himself that he had to plagiarize Mayor John Engen’s endorsement of his opponent Roy Houseman?

How amazing low is that? Really?

And you know he was thinking he was being oh-so-smart…

As for trying to claim Engen’s endorsement? Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Roy Houseman 2009

See that paragraph up there on the top of the page? Now listen to that radio spot again. Unbelievable.

Ineffective has been my favorite word for both Hendrickson and Haines lately. Both of these guys are campaigning, essentially, on the same issues they campaigned on 4 years ago. Haines on his $50,000,000 bridge over the Bitterroot and Hendrickson with his not-quite-as-costly (unless you consider the rise in pedestrian and biker related deaths) recall of the W. Broadway diet.

I mean – even if you are on board with both or either of these issues, Hendrickson and Haines clearly aren’t your guys. Think about that. Not if you want to get something done.

Both of these guys claim to be fiscally conservative, yet both of their pet issues are costly costly changes to and issues that have been decided because of other factors beyond their control. Hell-be-damned, they want what they want regardless of what it’s going to cost – and in the meantime, neither one of them will work towards other solutions in the interim.

I can give Haines credit for at least admitting his involvement in suing the City – Hendrickson, on the other hand, didn’t have the guts to admit his involvement, even after Haines had ‘let ‘er slip.’

Haines compounds on his false claims to fiscal conservatism by deceptively suggesting that “(O’Herron) has said city council members should not sue their employers. Will he go along to get along?

First off – Haines has been chasing O’Herron since the start of this election on this “suing his employer” statement of O’Herron’s. I find that funny.

Secondly – and you gotta love darthvadardemocrat* Lee Clemenson’s word choice – “Will he go along to get along?” ??? What? Will O’Herron work together to make sure something gets done? Will O’Herron (the horror) cooperate? Is that a bad thing?

On the other end of that ridiculous (think Jaws music in the background) suggestion that O’Herron will “go along to get along” as if it is something absolutely sinister, Haines did go along to get along on the vote to fund the separate analysis of the MDOT draft EIS for Russell Street. That cost the city some $85,000 I believe – feel free, anyone to correct me – and Haines went along and provided a crucial vote to move that alternative study forward all because he eventually wanted the same votes in return when and if his bridge-over-the-Bitterroot ever surfaced again.

So when, exactly, Ms. Clemenson, Mr. Haines, is it OK to go along to get along? Apparently it’s OK some of the time.

Ahh…the drama that is these Haines and Hendrickson. Vote the bums out. Houseman and O’Herron will get things done.

For his part, Engen has now recorded his own radio spot endorsing Houseman. Funny. It uses the same words.

Missoula County Democrats have filed a complaint against Hendrickson with the Office of Political Practices. As Keila points out – don’t hold your breath, anyone….the players in this could be long on social security before OPP ever gets to it. Ward 6 Councilperson Ed Childers is still waiting out on his complaint against Lewie Schneller from the 2007 elections.

Which is another problem all unto itself now, isn’t it?

*With a wink to klemz on that one…

by jhwygirl

The Missoulian continues its coverage of Griz Coach Bobby Hauck’s asshole-ish behavior, with a report on UM’s crisis management of the situation, along with a synopsis of the nationwide attention being thrust upon the Griz football program – virtually all of it critical.

Hauck continues berating Kaimin reporters?! You have got to be kidding me?

Chelsi Moy’s story had some interesting WTH? tidbits, I thought – one of them being the reason offered up for UM President (King) George Dennison along with Vice-President Jim Foley’s excuse for being “unable to weigh in,” on the matter:

UM President George Dennison has been in Europe for the past two weeks working to expand student exchange programs in Italy and Ireland, and is attending the International Student Exchange Program’s annual convention in France, and therefore has been unable to weigh in on the issue.

Executive Vice President Jim Foley was traveling this week, attending a Big Sky Conference meeting in Salt Lake City and a meeting with the Collegiate Licensing Company in Atlanta. On Friday, he was in Sacramento, Calif., with the Grizzly football team.

Really? A two-week trip touring Italy, Ireland and France? How much is that costing? While UM has a $3.6 million budget shortfall?

Beyond that – the Hauck “situation” began publicly back on September 18th, when the Kaimin reported it. Now, of course it may be possible that Dennison and Foley were in South America or Australia or something. But at that point, King George and VP Jim Foley knew (at least) that Hauck was shutting out Kaimin reporters. They had an obligation then to step in. Hauck should be a role model, as should UM and any and all of its programs – and allowing that behavior to occur, yet alone to continue is disgraceful.

Sport’s Illustrated columnist Jeff Pearlman sums it up well:

Generally speaking, pinning behavioral stupidity on your players is an even worse move than, say, locking out the student newspaper in a town where – on a good day – you’re covered by three media outposts. And even if your athletes did decide to protest, it’s your job – as a presumed educator – to do the opposite; to pull the student writers aside, explain your gripe and try to work it out in a mature manner.

We also know now that the administration was complicit in silencing the Griz players physical attack on a UM student, as VP Jim Foley acknowledged to the Kaimin last month.

Honestly folks – It’s appalling that this criminal behavior is condoned at the highest levels of administration in the University.

Another thing that struck me was this statement, from UM athletic director Jim O’Day:

“I would prefer (Hauck) did talk, but I respect the decisions he’s made…..I’m against forcing someone to do something against their wishes and would prefer an amicable solution.”

Hauck’s behavior has brought unwelcome attention on the entire university. As an administrator, balancing an employee’s right not to talk to the media with protecting the university’s image is a tricky situation, O’Day admits(my emphasis added).

O’Day would prefer that he talks? “I’m against forcing someone to do something against their wishes?” – but then going on referring to “balancing the employee’s right not to talk to the media?

You have got to be kidding me, right?

Because UM tells all its other employees- and reminds them regularly – that they are to avoid talking to the press and they should refer all questions to the administration, blah, blah, blah…..so talking about an “employee’s right not to talk to the media” and “forcing someone to do something against their wishes,” are not really making sense when you put it in the context of their very own public information policy for employees.

That is, unless UM has changed its policy? Because it’s sounding like they prefer that their employee’s speak to the press when asked. I mean, I bet a whole lot of University employees might have a whole lot to say about the Griz football Bobby Hauck situation – and perhaps event the administration’s complicity in facilitating the behavior.

That 2-week trip to France and Italy and Ireland, too, I’m sure doesn’t pull a lot of sympathy either.

Lastly, Coach Hauck puts out a damned lame excuse (and I’m sure he thought he was oh-so-smart when he said it) for why he couldn’t answer questions from UM Kaimin reporters:

“My players have asked me not to participate in this. I had two seniors in my office this morning, and I apologize, but I’m not going to participate.”

So it’s the seniors on the Griz team are calling the shots? It’s not Hauck – it’s not King George Dennison, and it’s not VP Jim Foley – it’s the seniors on the Griz football team.

Shameless.

by Jay Stevens

Here’s an op-ed from last week, from Yukio Hatoyama, Japan’s Democratic Party candidate for Prime Minister, that’s worth taking a look at:

The economic order in any country is built up over long years and reflects the influence of traditions, habits and national lifestyles. But globalism has progressed without any regard for non-economic values, or for environmental issues or problems of resource restriction.

If we look back on the changes in Japanese society since the end of the Cold War, I believe it is no exaggeration to say that the global economy has damaged traditional economic activities and destroyed local communities.

In terms of market theory, people are simply personnel expenses. But in the real world people support the fabric of the local community and are the physical embodiment of its lifestyle, traditions and culture. An individual gains respect as a person by acquiring a job and a role within the local community and being able to maintain his family’s livelihood.

Under the principle of fraternity, we would not implement policies that leave areas relating to human lives and safety — such as agriculture, the environment and medicine — to the mercy of globalism.

Our responsibility as politicians is to refocus our attention on those non-economic values that have been thrown aside by the march of globalism. We must work on policies that regenerate the ties that bring people together, that take greater account of nature and the environment, that rebuild welfare and medical systems, that provide better education and child-rearing support, and that address wealth disparities.

Hatoyama’s concern is foreign policy, and urges the United States to abandon its recent desire to set itself up at the center of a “free market” capitalistic and global hegemony – and putting itself at odds with a multi-polar block of midsize countries looking to retain their own national identities and avoid getting crushed by runaway globalization. I like the advice, but whatever.

But what Hatoyama describes as conflicting forces – unbridled global corporate capitalism set against communities – seems spot on and vitally important. And it seems to me the real division in American politics, a division that spans political party – although offhand I can’t think of any national-level Republicans that oppose this destructive form of global greed – forms around the forces described by Hatoyama. Healthcare reform, climate change legislation, credit card reform, etc & co, are all issues that pit large corporate interests against the health and well-being of everyday citizens and the viability of our communities.

And pro-corporate unfettered market capitalism has subsumed the Republican party and its base, and stripped it of any meaning or usefulness. Check out this interview with Sam Tanenhaus on the death of conservatism as a “vital, contributive force.” Tanenhaus – quite rightly, IMHO – calls the contemporary conservative movement the “politics of resentment, anger, and revenge”; today’s dominant conservative force is one that has no notion of the use of government for the benefit of society. In short, it’s completely devoid of any positive vision and utilized solely as an opposition movement to block any meaningful policies that oppose corporate dominance. The only conservative intellectual basis for corporate control – fiscal libertarianism – is a kind of rhetorical moebius strip that views people – with all of their cultures and traditions and illogical nature of contentment – as inconvenient and unwanted contaminants in their otherwise perfect economic theories.

All that’s left for discourse from the right are Obama Hitler posters.

You object? Read this blog post from Eric Ethridge about the state of our “meritocracy.” Here’s a quote pulled from it that originated with the AmPro’s Adam Serwer:

Last week, Greg Mankiw wrote a post casually asserting that people with “good genes” make lots of money and pass their intelligence off to their kids who then get high SAT scores. John Sides and Brad DeLong demolished Mankiw’s argument, but I think Mankiw’s assumption is informative here: The right doesn’t mind privilege being retained, by whatever means, within those groups that already have it, because it proves their theories about meritocracy. But when someone like Sonia Sotomayor goes from the South Bronx to Princeton valedictorian to the Supreme Court, it forces the question of how much people of privilege depend on their circumstances — their financial and social advantages — to succeed rather than their ability or intelligence. That’s uncomfortable for some people to think about, and it’s part of why Sonia Sotomayor provokes outrage over “merit,” while glaring examples of preferential treatment for the privileged do not.

And it’s conservative rhetoric and activism that opposes any reforms that make our society more egalitarian, that batter down the economic and social obstacles to success, that protect communities from the unthinking love of profit.

Not that I think middle- and working-class supporters of conservatism view themselves as privileged or elite – nor are they. I think they see things like affirmative action or funding of the Indian Health Service or single-payer health insurance as a drag on their own fragile domestic economies and an unfair additional obstacle to their own well-being. Of course, they miss the holistic benefits of these policies – cheaper health insurance, say, or less taxpayer money spent on severe health problems endemic to reservations. I also think the years of civil rights struggles for women, racial minorities, gays, etc. have caused blue collar whites to believe (helpfully pushed by GOP politicos) that progressive policies are intended to benefit someone else, at their expense.

I ramble. The point here is that we are at a crucial period of American political history, and we need to seize this time to make crucial reform. Healthcare reform is the first – and it needs to affect everyone positively, or else it’ll reaffirm fears that progressives and liberals care only about someone else.

And, honestly? I’m not doing all this writing and advocacy and activism for someone else. I’m doing it for me. I need health insurance reform. I need cheaper bills, and I need my insurers to honor their obligations, and I need to know that, if my children have a medical emergency, it won’t bankrupt the family.

by jhwygirl

We’ll give the link to the Great Falls Tribune, which broke the story this past Sunday – State Auditor Monica Lindeen – “in an abundance of caution,” has ordered an independent investigation into allegations by fired/terminated/resigned state (who knows?) administrator Laura McGee that Walter Schweitzer, Deputy State Auditor, had harassed Ms. McGee and solicited political funds on the state’s dime.

From the GFT:

McGee also said Schweitzer on several occasions solicited campaign funds from his sub-ordinates. The federal Hatch Act forbids such political activity if the agency receives federal funding.

The auditor’s office Web site showed that more than half the agency’s funding was federal, but spokeswoman Jessica Rhoades said that information was outdated and has been corrected.

“That (federal) funding was also a pass-through to counties and doesn’t apply to any of our programs, so the Hatch Act would not apply anyway,” Rhoades added.

(Please note that GFT links are only live for about 2 weeks.)

That would explain why the original story’s reference to the Hatch Act disappeared….

Here’s another version of the same story on Lindeen ordering an internal investigation, this time from the Flathead Beacon:

Lindeen said she wants to make sure with the external investigation that staff followed state ethics policies and laws. The auditor said the agency already has determined with an internal investigation that similar federal laws don’t apply to the state office.

(cont.)Rhoades said that Lindeen is currently reviewing candidates to conduct the outside investigation. She said an internal investigation was made when McGee first made the allegations.

Rhoades said that she could not say any more on what that found, other than that federal law does not apply to the office.

Reading both of those stories, what I see is a focus by Lindeen’s office on the fact that the previous internal investigation focused on whether there was a violation of the federal Hatch Act.

Anyone find it strange that the apparent defense that ‘nothing was wrong’ was that whatever it was that occurred didn’t violate any federal laws? Not a defense that is rooted in ‘it didn’t occur’?

Enough of that…

I also see that the focus of the next internal investigation is going to be whether there was any violation of state policies or ethics laws.

Jessica Rhodes, spokesperson for Auditor Monica Lindeen, says that Lindeen also “wants to take this opportunity to conduct a review of agency policies and procedures to ensure that they are in compliance with state ethics laws.”

Good for Lindeen. This is a smart move. She can’t and shouldn’t allow the serious allegations out there just hang. If she had just handed this investigation over to Political Practices Commissioner (and Governor Schweitzer appointee) Dennis Unsworth, anything he came up with would have automatically have been dismissed by critics merely because of whom appointed him, even though Unsworth has proven himself to be a fair arbitrator. I think, ultimately, though, that she should hand whatever her investigation finds over to Unsworth for a final pass – as it is his office’s responsibility to determine what violates state ethics laws.

Further, her investigation – whether it finds a violation or not – could educate Montanans on what state ethics laws allow and what it doesn’t. That all rests, of course, on the truthfulness behind the allegations.

Anyone want to bet on how many senate or house bills that this spawns in the 62nd legislative session?

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.

Serendipity.

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 lbastian@mt.gov. 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

….from an article over at the Washington post. (with a hat tip to Jamee Greer)
.
That kind of information leaves me a bit speechless – so much could be said…

The hirings are part of a record-breaking influence campaign by the health-care industry, which is spending more than $1.4 million a day on lobbying in the current fight, according to disclosure records. And even in a city where lobbying is a part of life, the scale of the effort has drawn attention. For example, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) doubled its spending to nearly $7 million in the first quarter of 2009, followed by Pfizer, with more than $6 million.

So aside from all there is to say about that, I have a question or two for PhRMA:

#1 How much is that going to increase my premium or how much is my employer going to have to cut out to mitigate that impending increase? When can we expect the bill?

And….

#2 How many more jobs are going to be lost when you will be passing that cost onto large employers who don’t have the ability to make cuts in benefits?

I’m leaving now, before I say something obscene.

by jhwygirl

Disgusting. Shameful. Reprehensible.

Montana’s complicity in this is beyond any possible justification. I don’t know how to express more disgust.

Montana Department of Livestock officials are in full attack mode at Horse Butte this week, “managing” bison, and the Buffalo Field Campaign has several videos exposing the reprehensible activities of these state-paid officials harassing wild Yellowstone bison on conservation easement land near West Yellowstone.

If you or I or any rancher were to manage their livestock this way, we’d be arrested.

Watch this video as helicopters swoop low over bison with their young calves. Watch as a cow bison protects her calf, struggling with a broken leg – injured as a result of the Department of Livestock’s air and ground assault – from further harassment by a Department of Livestock official on horse.

Rob and Janae Galanis bought 800 acres on Horse Butte in 2007 with the intention of preserving as much open space for bison as financially possible. Horse Butte has always been a gathering area in the spring for bison, and Galanis was well aware of the history of the Montana Department of Livestock entering the area to harass bison. He sought to bring an end to that.

In 2007 Galanis told the Department of Livestock that he intends to file trespass charges against the department should they enter the property. I wish he would, on the grounds that the current plan is no plan at all – that overwhelming evidence both in Montana and Wyoming show that managing bison has no effect on halting brucellosis transmission and that until an effective plan is in place, entering onto his property under the guise of “management” is nothing more than fraud.

Fraud. Criminal.

Brucellosis has been found in both Montana and Wyoming in the last year – and Montana lost its brucellosis-free status last June after two cases were found in the space of one year.

Horse Butte is isolated, and no cattle graze there.

Brucellosis is transmitted by body fluids – and bison are hazed under an assumption that the afterbirth leaves brucellosis virus in areas where cattle graze. The problem with that “logic” (and I use that term facetiously) is that bison birth from mid-April through mid-May. Cattle can’t utilized public grazing lands until mid-June. By then the afterbirth has been returned back to nature by the activities of coyotes and ravens and eagles who feed on those remains.

Bulls can not transmit brucellosis

Governor Schweitzer? You threatened to pull out of the interagency bison management plan last July. The time is now. Stop the insanity. Stop the waste of state funds. Stop this cruel embarrassment now.

(There’s plenty more written on these pages about the insanity of the state’s brucellosis management. Start here.)

by jhwygirl

Montana Women For – a fabulous organization out there Livingston/Bozeman way, advocating for peace, justice and equality – has a heart wrenching piece up regarding the W.R. Grace verdict from Andrea Peacock, author of Libby, Montana: Asbestos and the Deadly Silence of an American Corporation .

From the piece:

It never was Gayla Benefield or Norita or Les Skramstad’s job to get justice for Libby. It was the job of the EPA and Department of Justice; it was the duty of Montana’s media; and it remains the responsibility of the Montana Attorney General.

Andrea is correct. I’m no lawyer – nor do I play one on the intertubes – but Montana can not allow W.R. Grace to get away with mass murder. If there is a law to be had – and as far as I know there is no statute of limitations on murder – then Bullock needs to take on this task. For Libby. For Montana. This can not and should not happen again. Standing by and allowing the EPA and Malloy to serve up this final bitter pill as the end-all to the asbestos poisoning of Montana citizens can not be allowed.

If there’s no more, then Bullock needs to tell us why.

You must read No Justice for Libby Montana. Call Attorney General Steve Bullock. And then take the appropriate action.

by jhwygirl

Missoula resident Janet Murdock, who is in her last painful stages of ovarian cancer, is being denied physician-assisted suicide despite a December Montana District Court ruling, Baxter v. Montana, by Judge Dorothy McCarter which said that Montana residents have a right to assistance when it comes to matters of the “right of a competent terminally (ill) patient to die with dignity.”

Then Attorney General Mike McGrath appealed McCarter’s decision, but the request was dismissed, which means that the current ruling which delineates a fundamental right for Montana citizens to die with dignity stands.

Baxter died the day of McCarter’s initial ruling.

Janet Murdock is 67, terminal, and in hospice care in a stage described by physicians as “actively dying.” Missoulian’s Tristan Scott had a thorough piece in yesterday’s paper detailing Murdock’s current situation.

Compassion & Choices, an organization which supports, advocates and educates on issues of the right to die with dignity, argued on behalf of Baxter in the December court hearing. Legal Director Kathryn Tucker, who argued the case with Montana litigator Mark Connell, spoke on behalf of Ms. Murdock:

“Physicians either have not heard about the decision or do not understand its implications for practice. We must remedy this. Surely in this context ‘justice delayed is justice denied,’ as patients who are currently confronting end-stage terminal illness will not live to see the Montana Supreme Court rule.”

Ms. Murdock had found some relief with the December ruling and subsequent dismissal of McGrath’s appeal, knowing that her right to die when the time came would come with dignity. In a press release from Compassion & Choices, she says that those feeling have turned to disappointment as her physician has denied her the access to the prescriptions she needs. From Scott’s piece in the Missoulian:

“I have suffered so much that I have considered throwing myself into a snowbank to die of hypothermia. Does Montana’s medical community care more about anti-choice extremists who may disapprove, or about people like me who may suffer, and be left to an unbearably painful end of life?”

I will pray for Janet Murdock today. I am sorry that her last days are being spent in horrible unbearable pain, seeking relief, and without the support of her physician. In these last moments, Janet is speaking out and advocating for those that will come after her. There are hearts and hands in this community that support you, Janet.

Godspeed to you, Janet Murdock. May peace come quickly.

As I write this, know that there is at least one other Montanan being denied the same assistance from their physician to help them die with dignity.

by jhwygirl

Subject: AIG

Some of the best:

AIG is not equipped to be able to balance the ethical considerations involved in paying huge executive bonuses. Although a “person” under the law, there’s no person called AIG who can undertake this type of a priori moralizing. Paying the bonuses was the only way this corporate “person” could get a sound night’s sleep. It could rest assured that it was satisfying its marching orders, its prime directive. It’s really a simple “life,” being a corporation-person. No complicated morality issues, no fear of death by natural causes, but certainly a fear of death by dissolution, or bankruptcy. Every part of those articles of incorporation and bylaws are designed to avoid this type of death. And it’s avoided by making shareholders happy, by maximizing profits. The only consideration running through the corporation’s “mind” is how can “I” do these things?

Over at Left in the West.

by jhwygirl

A reminder to all you folks out there that HB418, the proposed law that would authorize “investor-owned equine slaughter or processing facilities” is set for hearing today at 3 p.m.

You can read more about this vile piece of legislation here at 4&20 or here at Left in the West or here at Will Work For Fish. And in those posts are other informative links that give even more information.

If you haven’t called or emailed yet, please take the 2 minutes necessary to do so and let the entire Senate Agricultural Committee know – in one easy, quick phone call – that this legislation isn’t something that we want here in Montana. You can do that by calling the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800. Your message will be delivered directly to the entire committee. The TTY (Telephone Device for the Deaf) number is 406-444-4462.

Know that there are lobbyists up there – rumor has it Conrad Burns is chief cheerleader behind this whole sordid fiasco, and may even make an appearance today – lobbying away for this bill for outside corporate interests which include facilities in Canada and breeders who need somewhere to dispose of their “mistakes”. Burns has, in fact, had his heels dug in to promoting these facilities going back to 2004 when he slipped a clause into an appropriations bill that legalized the slaughter of wild horses on BLM grounds, and allowed the product to be shipped overseas. Now, all he wants is more facilities to do so.

And don’t you bet that isn’t true – otherwise, why do you think this bill is geared towards “investor-owned” facilities? Who else, frankly, would afford the old Senator Burns lobbying fees?

Somehow, I’m doubting Conrad’ll have the you-know-whats to show up backing this bill in person. I’m guessing he’ll probably send a friend.

by jhwygirl

This one has been flying a bit under radar. I have to admit I’ve been watching it, as I’ve received a few emails from friends. Friends who normally don’t pay attention to legislative stuff, and friends who are both opponents and proponents to the legislation.

I will also admit that at first, rather reluctantly, I had been convinced that this was a ‘good’ bill – but not enough to write about it. My lukewarm support was due to the respect I had for my friends that had contacted me, and my willingness to maintain an open mind to something that, on first instinct, I find abhorrent. Because of my open mind on the subject, I’ve read a tremendous amount about horse slaughter, and I’ve come to the conclusion – now – that HB418, which would allow and authorize investor owned livestock slaughter and processing plants, is a very very bad thing.

This bill has survived the House floor, and is now in the Senate. It is set for a March 12th hearing date in the Senate Agriculture, Livestock & Irrigation Committee. March 12th is this Thursday.

First off – and away from what many might describe as the emotional side of this issue – this bill contains some very offensive attacks on environmental laws and review, along with attempts at taking away citizen rights for judicial review. Let’s look at the title:

An act authorizing investor-owned equine slaughter or processing facilities; prohibiting a court from granting an injunction to stop or delay the construction of an equine slaughter or processing facility based on legal challenges or appeals of a permit, license, or certificate, or other approval issued in conjunction with environmental laws, (and the) setting (of) bonding requirements.

With regards to bonding – this law would require that anyone who files a judicial challenge to a facility put up 20% of the cost of the facility as surety bond.

This is the same type of clause being added into some of the other bad environmental legislation that many – bloggers, news reporters, news columnists, letters to the editor, and op-ed columnists are writing about.

Justice only for those with money. I guess that is what the sponsors of the bill – BUTCHER, ANKNEY, BALES, DE. BARRETT, BELCOURT, BERRY, T. BROWN, CAMPBELL, GEBHARDT, HINER, HINKLE, HOVEN, JONES, KERNS, KLOCK, MCCHESNEY, MILLER, MORE, MURPHY, J. PETERSON, RANDALL, REGIER, RIPLEY, ROBERTS, SMITH, STAHL, STEINBEISSER, TUTVEDT, VANCE, VINCENT, WAGNER, WARBURTON, WELBORN, WINDY BOY, ZINKE, REICHNER, BEAN, KASTEN – think that is all that Montanans are entitled to…and along the way, hell be damned to our constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment.

Arguments for the bill include the fact that the economy is suffering and many people can not afford to care for their horse so they are turning them loose and/or allowing them to starve. That this bill is a humane solution to the problem.

These kind of arguments anger me. First of all, owning an animal is a responsibility. That includes not only feeding and caring, but also dealing responsibly with the issue should we falter with those – meaning you find that animal a new home or, worse of worse, you humanely put that animal down. There are plenty of organizations out there – if not individuals – that will help feed horses. Not only that, you go to neighbors, you go to your church. There are horse rescue organizations, you can contact your veterinarian who might know people willing to help, 4-H clubs, equine therapeutic associations….a simple search of the internet unveils many options.

The humane solution is to make the effort and deal with the issue. The lazy solution is to send the animal to slaughter and wash your hands of the responsibility.

Starving cases are another. People who are doing this need help. In most cases, they’ve got mental health issues, just like the cat or dog hoarder. Having a horse slaughtering facility is not going to help those situations.

The fee for euthanasia of a horse is about $200. Then there is a county landfill charge. Sorry – I know this is rather graphic for some, and said rather matter-of-fact…but there it is. It’s a responsibility of ownership. Plain and simple. I had to do it for my pet. People do it every day for their pets. Horse owners, frankly, do not get a pass on this issue.

Why do we need a law that not only facilitates bad ownership behavior, but takes away the rights of the citizens of Montana along the way?

The truth is, horse slaughter is very inhumane. That this bill wants to facilitate it with “investor owned facilities” should be all the more alarming. Couple that with the fact that Montana’s regulatory capacity has shown serious problems – well, let’s just say that approval of this bill would not only certainly ensure and facilitate inhumane treatment, it would also bring with it complete disregard for our already weak regulatory environment and the understaffed departments that enforce them.

Paula Bacon, Former Mayor of Kaufman, Texas provided public comment to the House Agriculture Committee. You can view the content of her letter here.

This website, titled KaufmanZoning.net has more information than you’d ever want to know about horse slaughter.

OpEd News did a very thorough piece the other day detailing the truth and lies behind horse slaughter in the United States.

Think most horse are only the cheapest, sickest horses those who go to slaughter? Wrong. Most of the horses who go to slaughter are young and healthy – 92.3%. Horse rescue organizations report being routinely outbid by killer buyers at horse auctions in all regions of the country when they attempt to save horses. The presence of a legal horse slaughter industry is preventing horse rescue and driving up costs for horse rescue organizations.

Please take the time to contact all members of the Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Committee. I’ve taken the time to add the email address of each committee member, below.

Donald Steinbeisser (Chair) donstein@midrivers.com
Terry Murphy murphter5@yahoo.com
Gary Branae garybranae@gmail.com
Taylor Brown taylor@northernbroadcasting.com
Bradley Maxon Hamlett wranglergallery@hotmail.com
Ken Hansen hansen_kenneth@email.com
Verdell Jackson vjack@centurytel.net
Cliff Larsen cliff@larsenusa.com
Rick Ripley You’ll need to use the online message form to contact Sen. Ripley

Other options for contact include using the online message form or calling the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800 to leave a message for the entire Senate Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation Committee per call. Your message will be delivered directly to the legislators. The TTY (Telephone Device for the Deaf) number is 406-444-4462.

by jhwygirl

The opening line to sentence to Ravalli Republic’s John Cramer’s latest reads “Dennis Unsworth, Montana’s commissioner of political practices, knows the term “engaged citizenry” takes on a whole new meaning in Ravalli County.”

Boy – he couldn’t be more accurate. And he sure knows how to grab a reader.

Not that Bitterrooters have a reputation for being laid back. I know many that use the term crazy when they say “Bitterooters” – the two kinda go together, going back to Battle of the Big Hole days…

In an ongoing soap opera-like saga – a story that would be amusing if it weren’t so pathetically ironic, Dan Floyd, Treasurer for Higher Ground Foundation, an anti-zoning, anti-streamside setback corporation classified as “public benefit with members” (as it is registered with the Secretary of State’s office), is calling on a host of federal, state and local agencies to take action to save his two guest houses from falling into the Bitterroot River.

The Bell Crossing bridge, he claims, is the cause.

Seriously – don’t miss the comments in that one. The Ravalli Republic has some of the best comment strings of all papers around the state. Next to, maybe the Billings Gazette. It’s a tough pick, that contest, I tell ya.

So Dan Floyd, self-described property rights advocate is calling on the government to save his property. Now, to be fair, Floyd didn’t build his house and the two guest houses – he just bought it, where it sits, next to the Bitterroot River and the Bell Crossing bridge. This is sounding a lot like the guy down in the Big Hole who bought property and is now trying to claim a hardship in order to get a variance to build a bridge. In the Big Hole case, he’s been denied – twice now, once on appeal.

You got laugh at the audacity of a person that buys property without access, with laws in place concerning bridges and streamside setbacks (the Anaconda-Deerlodge consolidated planning area has not only had effect regulations in place for years – they have a commitment to them), and then claims hardship.

More on Higher Ground: Higher Ground has been under investigation by Montana’s Office of Political Practices for violating campaign laws. There are at least 9 complaints filed over campaign issues in Ravalli County – and at least two of them are against Higher Ground.

Recently, Unsworth subpoenaed the Ravalli Republic for copies of all ads placed by Higher Ground. Less recently, Unsworth ruled that Ravalli County Citizens for Free Enterprise violated campaign laws and would face prosecution if a settlement isn’t reached.

Citizens for Free Enterprise were found to be, effectively, a front for Wal-Mart, who was seeking to reverse zoning regs which prohibited big box stores. They were successful in overturning the regulations – yet eventually withdrew their plans.

The whole situation down there is very unfortunate – collectively, Higher Ground, along with the Bitterroot Building Association and Residents for Responsible Land Use quite arguably had an impact on voters who recalled the county-wide zoning referendum. This, after significant hours and $ costs to taxpayers – not to mention public involvement.

What worse, is that each of these organizations has multiple charges filed against them. Hell, maybe someone should file RICO charges against them all if they’re found in violation.

The ugly side of what the situation in Ravalli County shows is that big money can buy lots of influence – the repercussions will be long in coming for the perpetrators, yet the sufferings of the electorate will be instantaneous.

How do you get justice out of that?

Floyd (& friends – you can bet Tom Robak is one of ’em) are under investigation for violating laws associated with his campaign against streamside setbacks, yet he seeks justice for the very issues under that which he campaigned against.

How completely ironic is that?

by jhwygirl

I spoke of this fawn I came upon in early October here and here.

Here is the picture. The sheepherder trapper that did this never did report it, as I had followed up on about 2 weeks later. It should have had a quick release. Beyond that, in the particulars of this situation, he was breaking the law.

That fawn could just as easily had been my pet, my friend’s pet, or a neighbor’s pet.

october-fawn

Yeah. Keep that trapping tradition alive. NOT.

by jhwygirl

Otis, an adorable beagle mix – looking a little on the active senior-citizen side – got caught in two traps on Lost Horse Road last week. The traps were 30 feet from the road.

Lost Horse Road is located south of Hamilton, and heads eastward into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.

His owner, fortunately, was able to free him, but not without panic and several hours in the cold. Considering the severely low temperatures we’ve been experiencing, Otis and his owner are tremendously lucky.

Imagine the torture of an animal – any animal – as it lay caught in one of these traps. Dying, freezing to death. I’m not an overly religious person, but I can not imagine that our Creator would be OK with his creatures treated this way in the name of sport. There was a time and a place and a necessity for trapping. But those days are long past.

Footloose Montana is a local organization that has taken up the cause of educating the public about the dangers of trapping. They are also working to seek legislative and regulatory changes – and recently saw some minor successes late this summer when the FWP Board of Commissioners made some regulatory concessions with regards to setbacks for traps and eliminating trapping from a few high public use areas.

Footloose is still looking for donations to keep a weekly ad running that lists locations of these traps so that pet-owning recreationists know where to be extra cautious. Consider a small donation, as it only takes $80 a week to keep the ad running.

Here is a map of known locations of traps. Some locations:

Gold Creek north of Milltown
The Harris Ranch hunting access site near Victor (really? These guys are so lazy that they just place traps at hunting access sites?)
Nine Mile Creek has seen numerous traps (with two black labs caught in some recently)
Bass Creek
Butler Loop area of Nine Mile

There are so many problems, as I see it, with trapping. One easily cited reason is the fact that these traps easily trap non-target species. They can be bald eagles, the elusive wolverine, or lynx. A trapper isn’t even obligated to report it. Three eagles (two bald, one golden) have been caught in illegal traps in the Clinton area in the last two years.

This past fall I came across a fawn who’s neck had been caught in a snare. The beautiful creature – still with its white spots – clearly had been lying there for more than a day. Death was very quick, but those snares are supposed to release larger animals. This one didn’t. It was set by a sheepherder (who I had passed on the way), to trap coyotes. His gun and three dogs – along with the corral he had his sheep in – apparently weren’t deterrent enough.

The snare was less than one mile from a dozen or more homes. Imagine walking your pet and hearing a yelp, and before you could get to him, he’s gone.

Be safe out there folks. Keep your loved ones close.

by jhwygirl

This is easily one place where just a few bucks can go far, for a very worthy organization.

We’ve blogged here before about Footloose Montana, and it’s a mighty find organization focused on providing public education on issues surrounding trapping and its affects on pets and non-targeted species.

For the record, I believe trapping is a chicken shit way to hunt.

About 2 months ago I can across a fawn caught up in a snare. It still had spots, beautiful creature it was. Death came quickly as it choked the animal. That’s a good thing, I suppose. It was a non-targeted species. The guy had no permit to be trapping where he was – he was a sheepherder snaring for coyotes. It wasn’t trapping season, so he didn’t need a license, and he didn’t have to report his snaring of non-targeted species. His trap was within a mile of homes. This was in the Bitterroot, but still in Missoula County. Snares are supposed to have a quick release. I was told that they don’t often work.

It could easily have been my dog.

Footloose is looking for donations to keep a weekly ad running in Missoulian – and they hope to be able to expand it to the state’s 5 major dailies – and they have Kalispell and Billings ready to go. The ad would identify trap locations so that people would know where to be cautious with their pets, and it would serve to keep trapping issues in the forefront of Montanans.

Running the weekly ad in the Missoulian only costs $82.60 per week. That’s not a lot of Lincolns, people.

The current ad sends out warning of traps set in the following places:
Ninemile Creek near Butler Loop
Rock Creek
Bitterroot River
Bass Creek

If you can help out, donate here.

by Rebecca Schmitz

It looks like we’ve misjudged Jake Eaton. Poor baby.

The Montana Republican Party on Tuesday night announced it was abandoning its contested challenge of the legitimacy of thousands of Montana voter registrations. Eaton wrote that the party launched the challenges in “good faith,” but media reports have since suggested the challenges were an effort to suppress voter turnout.

No, Jake, it’s not the media’s fault your “good faith challenges” were misconstrued. The fault lies with you, and your heavy-handed attempt at voter suppression. You, and your party, owe everyone in Montana an apology today.

by jhwygirl

I am cautiously emerging from a 3-day fog of Dayquil/Nyquil (more Nyquil than Dayquil) to find that my right to vote is being challenged by the Montana Republican Party.

Found it out thanks to Forward Montana’s searchable database of challenged voters.

This is pure bullshit. I’ve lived at the same address for just about 5 years (only a few days shy).

As soon as I finish writing this, I’ll be figuring out what the Montana GOP’s grounds were to challenging my vote – because as far as I’m concerned, they’ve now filed a fraudulent challenge with the intent to disrupt my lawful right to vote.

I read back in my 4 days of emails and I find that the Montana Republican Party is challenging the votes of journalists, former legislators, veterans and Army Reservists called up to serve in Iraq.

Lt. Governor John Bohlinger wrote an op-ed for the Montana Standard this past Sunday, listing a few of the disgraceful challenges the Montana Republican Party put forth for this upcoming election:

Kevin Furey, former legislator who left the legislature to serve in Iraq
Cindie Kalan-Green, serving in Iraq
Mathew Robison, deployed to Fort Drum
Chelsi Moy, the Missoulian journalist broke the story
Babe Aspholm, an elderly man from Anaconda who merely moved across town to live in a senior living center
Tom Detonacour, a Deer Lodge County policeman
Frank St. Pierre, 86 – a 10 time Medal of Honor recipient for his service in WWII
Mrs. St. Pierre

Yep – this is the Republican Party, folks. Now we know what Karl Rove was doing in town a few months ago.

Look – these guys are proud of it. The Montana Republican Party has promised more voter challenges.

And lest anyone – any Republican – try and tell you that the Montana Republican Party’s vote suppression activities aren’t voter suppression – that it’s about (as Steve Dogiakos, Republican candidate for HD-93, and president of the UM Republicans) having “factual and actual voters,” know this: Forward Montana tried for over 3 hours to get a list of challenged voters from the Montana Republican Party. Jack Eaton, executive director of the Montana GOP said that he would refuse to share that list.

So clearly, for the Montana Republican Party, this isn’t about preventing some sort of voter fraud – of which their own man up there in Helena said there has been no evidence of – it is about suppressing votes, pure and simple.

~~~~~

Someone around here asked me “How many Republicans are you voting for/praising on your blog? Eh?”

That would be none. And don’t expect that to change any time in the near or far future. By throwing this kind of chaos into the election process, they don’t deserve anything less than complete and utter disdain. In fact, the Montana Republican Party should be held criminally liable for fraudulently disrupting the election process.

by jhwygirl

You can bet the Montana Republican Party is proud of it too.

I read it first this morning, about 6:30 a.m. over at Pogie’s Intelligent Discontent…and later found it on the Missoulian’s web page.

On Monday afternoon, state GOP officials delivered voter registration challenges to Missoula (3,422), Butte-Silverbow (714), Lewis & Clark, Glacier, Deerlodge, Hill, and Roosevelt counties.

So the Montana GOP is challenging 6,000 votes across the state – geared solely at Democratic-leaning and Native American voting areas. Jack Eaton, executive director of the Montana GOP is unapologetic:

The integrity of the voting process is something that has to be above reproach to have faith in the system. We aren’t trying to prevent anyone from voting. We want people to register properly.

Bullshit.

“The integrity of the voting process”? “We aren’t trying to prevent anyone from voting”? I’m sorry – what in the hell does he think is going to happen 30 or so days before a presidential election, when county election offices are extremely busy just getting the basic election stuff prepared?

Vicki Zeier, Missoula County election official tells us:

I’m not very happy, obviously,” said Zeier, who “about freaked” when the request appeared in her office on Monday afternoon.

Why? Because under state law, Ms. Zeier – and all counties facing these challenges – have 5 days to notify challenged voters.

Mary McMahon, Butte-Silverbow County election official said her office is short staffed, and the request comes just as her three (three) employees are getting ready to mail out more than 4,000 absentee ballots while still preparing for the Nov. 4 general election.

We’re slammed. We’ll get them all out, but it is just very frustrating right now to get this kind of reaction from either party and have to deal with it.

Missoula County Attorney’s Office is rejecting part of the Montana GOP challenges, saying that 2,200 of the allegations live in the county – and under state law, they get to vote at their old precinct once providing they update their information.

The Montana GOP is taking Missoula County to court on that rejection.

Timing could not come at a worse time. A record number of people have registered to vote, and small understaffed county offices are busy processing the 1,000’s of registrations.

Executive director of the Montana Democratic Party Art Noonan, too, is fighting mad about the situation. According to Ian Maurquand, of Montana’s News Station, “Art Noonan says this week’s challenges of voter residency by his Republican counterpart Jacob Eaton represent a direct attempt to intimidate and suppress Democratic and Native American voters. He also told me that his party recently conducted a 56-county survey of election supervisors and concluded that there are no concerns about voter lists, the registration process or anything else regarding Montana elections.”

Marquand goes on:

Noonan told me the party is reviewing legal options and might try to halt the challenges of some 6,000 voters in seven counties. However, time is running out since county election officials have until Monday to mail notification letters to affected voters. Noonan also said Democrats might offer to help voters cope with the challenges. In Missoula County, voters who have been challenged must fill out a residency affidavit, get it notarized (which some associates have told me is the most challenging part of the process) and send it back to the county. Then, voters who have changed their residence must re-register in the precinct, county, or state to which they’ve moved.

The Montana GOP is desperate. They see their numbers slipping – whether it is the gubernatoral race or the state senate or house races. They’re losing serious ground in rural areas of the state – the Montana League of Rural Voters recently took the rare step of endorsing not one, but two Democratic candidates for the state senate – Lane Larson (SD-22) and Shirley Baumgartner (SD-18). The state GOP made themselves laughing stocks during the 2007 legislature, and now their fighting to maintain.

This ain’t the way to do it.

My guess? This will only pull more Democratic voters out to vote and to register….and when they attempt to take away votes from the young and the Native American voters that have never voted in a presidential election and are excited about participating in the process, they do themselves more harm than any good that ever had a chance of befalling them.

Karma baby, karma.




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