Archive for the ‘Missoula’ Category

by jhwygirl

With the Clark’s Fork rising, search efforts on a 15 mile stretch of river were called off after efforts both last night and this morning and afternoon failed to turn up the body of a male 19 year old UM student.

The student had jumped into the river with a female companion early yesterday evening around 6:30. Response was instantaneous, as community member Mikal Anderson was on the trail adjacent to the Madison Street footbridge (where the jump was made.) Anderson – a certified EMT and lifeguard instructor – jumped into the river after the young man who had immediately showed signs of trouble once he surfaced briefly from the jump.

I hope he gets the public thanks that he deserves for his effort.

While the loss of a life under such a reckless act does leave me shaking my head wondering why anyone would jump into the flooding waters of a Montana river, what I heard on KECI on this evening’s news leaves me very disturbed. And concerned for the still-visibly shaken Danielle Chesley who witnessed the jump.

Ms. Chesley tells the the story of a young man who was goaded into jumping by a girl – even after having expressed a fear of the water and its temperature. here is the interview, but be warned that you might find it upsetting.

My heart goes out not only to the family of the victim, but also to Danielle – who expresses concern for the (as of yet) unnamed victim’s family. While the family will no doubt struggle with this loss, they will struggle more with the knowledge that some companion of their son prodded him to do something despite his clearly demonstrated misgivings over his ability to handle the situation.

A tragedy. In some ways, a tragedy multiple times over.

After watching the KECI interview, I can’t help but think of what bullying does. Hazing is another form of bullying – and whether the victims are 9 or 19, the results can be tragic. Undoubtedly there was no intent to cause harm, but there also appears to be a lack of concern for the personal safety of the victim.

I am leaning towards this having been a situation of bullying – and I am left wondering what we can do as a society to change the community standards that create an environment where this kind of behavior happens.

Life is never perfect and there will always be tragedies – but recognizing the factors that bring about situations like that which resulted in the tragedy witnessed by Danielle Chesley yesterday evening may be one step in ensuring that a life is saved the next time someone considers pushing someone too far. Or the next time someone considers “yes” to doing what the victim did when the jumped from the bridge.

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by jhwygirl

Still more rolling on the University of Montana rape scandal – the U.S. Department of Education is investigation the University of Montana over its handling of (at least) 11 rapes of UM students over the last 18 months.

Title IX violations would be devastating, and have a disastrous effect on federal funding availability. The U.S. Department of Education has already found violations in how UMontana handles criminal complaints.

They’ll be coordinating with the U.S. Justice Department’s investigation into civil rights violations by UMontana, the City of Missoula Police and County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg’s office.

Van Valkenburg – as a reminder folks – is an elected official, who is up for reelection in 2014.

We’re only getting started on this, Montana. I have little doubt an NCAA investigation is impending…and (just a reminder) UMontana president Royce Engstrom’s contract is up in June. You can speculate for yourself what that means.

In other news – I hope you all caught this editorial by the the UMontana Kaimin editorial board, published two Mondays ago, February 23rd: Go Back to D.C. Jim Foley.

Bold, and much respect in the face of the actions of other leaders within UMontana – such as outgoing ASUM president Jen Gursky who has publicly stood by the University’s handling of the rape and sexual assault scandal since December. A bit troubling, considering her political aspirations here within the City of Missoula – and under the Democratic Party banner.

Vice-president Jim Foley fired back on Friday – showing, quite frankly, his lack of understanding of how the UMontana presents its editorials (a theme they touched on in their call to have him removed) – by saying that he was “staying in Missoula.” While he continued to hid behind privacy concerns (for who, I ask: The victims or the criminals?), he did offer his perspective of the 1st Amendment:

An anonymous and poorly written editorial attacking one’s character is not the signal we should be looking for in print journalism in the 21st century. I like the idea of the Kaimin being the watchdog of UM; however, as the saying goes,the watchdog never barks at one of its own family members. The Kaimin can do better.

So Foley supports the The Kaimin’s right to watchdog journalism – they just shouldn’t watchdog the University.

One is left wondering exactly what kind of education Mr. Foley received in his past life given this lack of comprehension of the 1st Amendment and his understanding of watchdog journalism.

Maybe he should sit in on a constitutional law class. Might do everyone good.

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 jhwygirl

Boy – what to say about this lte in the Montana Kaimin from Ms. Clarissa Holmes, a freshman at University of Montana.

She steps in there to defend the Griz players – but it isn’t her specific defense of the football team that bothers me – it’s where she places the blame. Please….read it for yourself:

Three: Are we really to blame the Griz football players? I’m going to come out and say that the football players aren’t the main problem of this and we all know it. It’s the ladies. You know the ones I’m talking about; the ones at the parties who are drinking everything they’re handed and wearing far-too-short skirts. I’m not saying they’re the ones getting raped, or that the girls who experienced sexual assault fit this stereotype, but what these girls are doing is just opening the way for these guys to assault them. Whatever happened to some of the first rules we learned as children? Not getting in cars with strangers, not taking candy (ahem, alcohol) from strangers. These rules are common sense and the fact that the women of this school are breaking them is purely unsafe and naïve.

By going to parties, drinking all they can, and acting like they want some, these girls are practically serving the cake to these guys. Girls really need to learn to draw the line on what’s an appropriate image at parties. Also, they need to stand up for themselves. Who cares if he’s popular? Who cares if he’s a senior or a football player? If he’s doing something you don’t like, do what my mom taught me and kick him in the balls. That’s what they’re for.

So….boy…I’m sitting here shaking my head wondering how we – America – got to a point where a young woman – a freshman in college – believes that women are to blame for being sexually assaulted.

Then put that in the context of a university that has been (supposedly) working to address the problem? What, exactly, are they doing? And maybe they should consider doing something else?

But let this letter also serve as a bit of a notice to our high schools here in Montana – Ms. Holmes is a freshman. She didn’t get to blaming, essentially, her female peers by accident. In fact, her letter makes me realize something that I hadn’t thought about – that the University of Montana didn’t get to where it’s gotten in terms of this rape scandal by itself. They had help getting there along the way, and it started somewhere down the line.

Work to do? You betcha.

by jhwygirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by jhwygirl

For you non-Rapture types, Montana Women Vote is co-sponsoring a Congressional Candidate Forum in Missoula tomorrow night, April 12th. (And while I am loath to utilize facebook, MWV do update their page a lot – so here’s that link.)

Head on down to the University Center Theater, 6 p.m. I’m told Pat Williams (Montana’s former U.S. Representative) and Jen Gursky (President of ASUM) will be moderating.

Here’s a piece from Olivia Riutta:

Montana has just one Congressional seat in the US House of Representatives and you have to opportunity to hear directly from candidates where they stand on issues that affect Montana women and families. From education to reproductive health care to funding for programs and services that help Montana women and families, you won’t want to miss this opportunity to meet the candidates before the June 6th primary election. There will also be time at the end when we will take questions from the audience.

Republicans, it looks like, are once again passing up a non-partisan candidate forum. Is that 5 now? Or 6? Convenient for them, I guess, though I see their party spokespeople online lobbing attacks at the candidates. All this while 3 Republicans and one Libertarian get to hide from the main stream public unbiased forums which seek to get at issue positions.

Why, exactly, are they avoiding public non-partisan debates?

Montana Women Vote will also be at the event registering voters. It’s fine organization doing excellent work in the community educating people on meaningful participation in the democratic process through education and other information-based strategies. I have always been impressed by their presentations.

If you have questions, contact Montana Women Vote at 543-3550 x213

by jhwygirl

Tucked in last week’s story on councilman and Democratic congressional candidate Dave Strohmaier and his fellow councilman Jon Wilkins bringing back the cell phone ordinance for more discussion “based on successful work in other communities,” was a little sentence or two that made me wonder just how aggressive city cops were willing to go to enforce Missoula’s texting-while-driving law

You know – the story where Jon Wilkins was quoted as saying “I think the cellphone usage is out of control in Missoula,” and that it was “just going to get worse”?

Tucked in that story were these two paragraphs, with my emphasis added:

There have been a significant number of changes around the country and the state of Montana since Missoula has undertaken to pass our no-texting-while-driving ordinance,” said Muir, who noted that April happens to be National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

It’s hard to tell if someone is texting or dialing, and police have issued just 12 citations since the law took effect, Muir said. A motorcycle cop wrote half of those because from his vantage point on the bike, it was easier to look down at a driver and see that the motorist was, in fact, texting.

Goddess bless Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller, btw. She gets those details – and most of the time probably wonders why no one ever notices.

Of 12 citations written, one cop has written half of those citations because from his vantage point it was easier to look down on the driver and see that the motorist was texting?

Really? Is he doing this while riding his bike? Or while he is stopped at a light or sign next to or behind the driver?

I don’t want to sound theatrical or unreasonable, but what ever happened to reasonable cause? The right to…awww, let’s just go right to the U.S. Constitution, Fourth Amendment:

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.

I recognize that police have a dangerous job. I consider myself pretty well-informed of the risks they take every day when the put on that uniform and go to work. But that being said, I can’t not for the life of me imagine how one cop has managed to rack up 50% of the tickets for texting-while-driving on reasonable cause suspicions that led to him looking into the laps of drivers.

It also makes me wonder what other tickets he’s given out and under what circumstances.

Wilkins thinks cell phone use is “out of control”? I’m thinking we’ve got the cops using that cell phone ordinance for more that what it was intended.

And one cop who might be a little “out of control.”

4th Amendment be damned, Missoula! We might have someone texting-while-driving! Even while stopped at a light!

by jhwygirl

The University of Montana has released its rape investigation report. At least I can say that President Engstrom is finally sounding sincere:

“We have had a serious issue with sexual assault and we have to take bold and decisive measures to move toward the elimination of sexual assault,” he said in a telephone interview. “It is a new time for the university with respect to sexual assault. We are as serious as we can possibly be about this matter.”

The university’s legal counsel David Aronofsky had input to the university’s rape scandal report with a memo (which Engstrom makes reference to in the Engstrom’s 4-page report (which doesn’t appear to be online,) saying that the university shouldn’t be assisting athletes in finding legal council.

Not because it’s a conflict of interest or anything, given that the University oversees this fabulous Student Code of Conduct they repeatedly refer to – but because of the appearance of impropriety of treating one class of students (athletes) different from the rest.

Oh – and also because it might open the U to an NCAA violation.

Engstrom’s 4-page comprehensive report on UMontana’s ongoing rape and sexual assault scandals references the fact that 5 students are no longer with the University after they completed their investigations into reported assaults. He would not – because of that fabulous Student Code of Conduct – say whether they had graduated, dropped out or been expelled. Three more cases were dismissed for lack of evidence, while in 3 more cases, the students are appealing sanctions that resulted out of the investigation.

Missoulians and the victims probably feel oh-so-safe knowing that President Engstrom and his lawyers have investigated and sanctioned 3 students while 5 more are gone.

Gone where? From the registrars roles? Have they moved into my neighborhood? Are they here in the community?

Did they head down the road to MSU in Bozeman? Or perhaps Montana Tech over there in Butte?

And what about the University’s obligation to not obstruct the law. Pretty sure they can’t write a Code of Conduct for anyone – even President Engstrom – that says you can have knowledge of a crime such as assault and not have to report it (along with the evidence) to law enforcement officers.

Otherwise, that’s really pretty much a civil rights violation, regardless of whether the victim reported the crime to the proper (THE POLICE) authorities.

Which brings me again to say – If you are on campus, your 911 call is going to the university cops. Take that advice for what its worth.

City Police 24 hour number is 552-6300.

I’m not joking when I say this – but there needs to be an investigation. An investigation into the very (un)timely homeland return by a Saudi Arabian student accused of two incidents involving rape and sexual assault. An investigation into whether the University has knowledge of a crime or crimes and isn’t turning over that information to the City of Missoula police.

Will even ONE legislator speak up about the University system hiding behind this Student Code of Conduct? Do we need changes to the law?

Surely there’s a law that requires people with knowledge and or evidence (such as investigations) of criminal activity to report it?

I give Engstrom’s “report” a D+.

~~~~~
You know? There’s an ongoing pattern here of perpetrators of sexual assault being removed from campus, one way or another and clearly with the assistance of evidence of sexual assault or rape.

Who’s protecting whom here, I have to ask?

What kind of Student Code of Conduct does this University have that perpetrators of sexual assault are afforded protection from their crimes?

by jhwygirl

I’m going to admit something here that is going to date me quite a bit, so here goes: I remember the recession of the mid-70’s. I remember gas rationing, I remember the calls to eliminate the very new EPA. I remember the Cuyahoga River out in Ohio catching on fire. I remember strong pro-American anti-foreign anything sentiment surrounding the purchase of anything. Honda owners and dealerships were objects of criticism and picket lines.

No where in there – or any of the other 4 recessions since then (which doesn’t include this current one) – do I recall America pimping itself out as much as it is now.

And no – I’m not talking about the Keystone Pipeline or the MSTI line…or Otter Creek coal and the railroad that’s taking the stuff to China.

I’m talking about the idea of speed-tracking citizenship to rich foreigners in exchange for investment here in America.

The program is known as EB-5, or Greencard Through Investment program.

For one million buckaroos and the creation of 10 “permanent” full-time jobs, U.S. citizenship can be yours.

Half a million if you pull it off in a “high unemployment or rural area.”

I don’t begrudge anyone citizenship here in the United States. Our country was founded by immigrants – and more importantly, it was built by immigrants. All but war criminals (we’ve got our own) are welcome in my mind.

It is, though, patently unfair to grant U.S. citizenship to the richest of the poorest and worse of nations. The Missoulian story I link to above cites Missoula developers Ed Wetherbee and Kevin Mytty’s quest for a Chinese investor.

A Chinese investor that likely paid barely living wages to people who (between work and commute) pull 15 hour days in order to make that million. A Chinese investor who likely paid off government party officials in exchange for stolen public lands that resulting in the displacing of whole communities or any other number of beneficial arrangements. The Chinese economic system is not only notoriously corrupt, it’s a shell-game of fake investment.

Of course, that sort of corruption is just par the course for someone seeking U.S. citizenship, isn’t it?

I don’t like it. It isn’t fair. It’s ripe with the stench of corruption. U.S. citizenship should not be beholden to the highest bidder, on the easiest speediest path.

Leaving the poorest behind or at a disadvantage in what the U.S. should consider the most valued is not the right thing to be doing.

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 jhwygirl

I thought I had calmed down enough this morning to write about President Engstrom and the University of Montana’s utter malfeasance over the most recent assault and rape incidents, but I had to go read the paper this morning.

So until I can gather those thoughts cohesively, I do want to take the time to offer a public Thank You to the Missoulian’s crime and courts reporter Gwen Florio. An accompanying Thank You goes out to the editorial team that stood by Florio’s reporting, making what was probably a pretty hard decision to go forth and publish the first story that exposed the massive failure of the University of Montana in its treatment of rape and sexual assault.

Florio and the Missoulian took quite a bit of criticism from loyal Griz fans and University alumni when that first story went out – and some of it occurred here, also, in the comments on this blog’s pages.

Florio and her editors did this community, the students of the University and the taxpayers of Montana a huge service if you ask me, and I hope that Gwen and the Missoulian receive their due professional recognition for taking a story that many would have walked away from due to any number of perceived issues and putting it front page.

Especially when it involved so many sacred cows (like Griz football and the University of Montana – Missoula’s during-football-season $4 million-a-weekend cash cow.

Her excellent reporting continues, and I really hope that this story reaches the national attention it deserves. At this point now, it’s clear the University of Montana is protecting itself and itself only. There is no concern there for the victims of assault. None.

Engstrom’s acts are criminal – let’s be clear, his hands are all over this recent malfeasance which occurred while the University of Montana was under a microscope with regards to how it handles sexual assault. His hastily called late Friday afternoon press conference was only done to defend his and the University’s actions, with him explaining how he’d solved the issue (because the criminal has left the campus and the state.)

Really?

In addition to seeking extradition of the Saudi student who was identified by two victims as committing at least two assaults, including one criminal (and probably two acts of kidnapping or whatever it is called when you take someone and force alcohol and possibly drugs on them for the purposes of controlling and assaulting them,) Engstrom should be canned for facilitating this students escape back to his home country.

Gwen Florio and the news editors at the Missoulian? This reader and Montana taxpayer thanks you.

by jhwygirl

Oh don’t you know Pete’s correct – I’m going there. This is just one of probably several things I’ll have to say on the recent rape allegations against 3 Griz football players.

What a great headline to wake up to Missoula!

And don’t you know reporter Gwen Florio and the Missoulian were immediately attacked for writing such a story on a day the Griz were to play division championship football down in Sam Houston? Bad enough to criticize the Griz – we’ve done that here to some pretty thick skulls – but to do it on game day? During the championship run?

Montana sacrilege!! How dare they!!!

University Vice President Jim Foley is, of course, out front on this – and conveniently unavailable for interview and he’s with the team in Sam Houston. Foley, in short, is the biggest thug of all with regards to the Griz. He’s been there to defend each and every allegation over I don’t know how many years…and like he’s at work now making sure the University is fully CYA.

The Missoulian reports that the university has hired a private investigator – retired state Supreme Court Justice Diane Barz. Sounds all up-and-up?

I don’t know about that – from Silverstar, who left a comment on December 16, 2011, 3:46 am:

It seems unusual to me that the University of Montana hired an attorney to do an “outside investigation.” Montana’s statute regarding licensing of private investigators contains an exception to allow attorneys to conduct investigations “while performing duties as an attorney at law” just as it has exceptions for debt collectors to conduct investigations related to their duties and insurance adjusters to conduct investigations related to their duties.

Montana Codes Annotated 37-60-105 found at http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/mca/37/60/37-60-105.htm
does not suggest that attorneys can hire themselves out as private investigators unrelated to their duties as an attorney any more than debt collectors or insurance adjusters could. If she is representing the university as an attorney how it can be considered an outside investigation?

The reporter quoted Ray Murray as a representative of the Board of Private Security Officers and Investigators but didn’t mention that Murray is very closely connected with the University of Montana serving as vice president and professor of geology at the University of Montana from 1977 to 1996.

What does that mean? MCA 37-60-105 sure does pretty much say that the “investigator” that the University has hired can only act as an investigator if she is acting in her capacity as an attorney. So that means she has to have been hired by the University as an attorney – which means she is obligated to her client and her client only.

Do you see where this might be a pretty serious conflict of interest?

Not only that, but they couldn’t find someone to investigate that had something less than a 20 year association with the University???

Now – we know from past stories that the Griz team is well-represented when it comes to lawyers and things like a well-oiled CYA press machine (in the form of Jim Foley and pals) – what kind of support is the university giving to the two females involved in this issue?

Foley is pushing for a report by the beginning of the year. Nice. Kids are out of session today – the team is on the road, Foley included…holidays in the wings and he wants to know all he needs to know to protect the student’s University’s Griz’s best interests?

I wonder if the young ladies who the University’s so-called investigator will be speaking with will be fully aware of the ethical and legal obligations the University’s investigator has soley to the University of Montana?

Or was the investigator hired by the athletic department? Hell – considering how things go down there I have to wonder if the investigator was hired by some booster organization.

Not only all that – why is UM hiring an investigator? Katherine Redmond, founder of the Colorado-based National Coalition Against Violent Athletes points out: “If they’ve interviewed both sides, they don’t need a private investigator.”

Which is specifically accurate to Montana Code Annotated law.

Failure of this so-called investigator to disclose these entanglements completely to those that she interviews is, let’s just say, ethically challenged.

Given the possible implications of what she may discover when she interviews the victims, any truly impartial and ethical attorney/investigator would ensure that the victim had legal representation present.

Victim’s rights advocates have a right to be upset. This stinks to high heaven.

Florio and the Missoulian were right to cover this story. The University is in cover-up mode, with an ethically-challenged investigation that is been speed tracked over winter break during a championship run while the alleged victims are out of town.

Rape is one of the most under reported crimes – and here we have two females (at least) that quite possibly were drugged and raped…and no one advising them of their legal rights and counselling them with emotional support.

Meanwhile – the Griz fly to Sam Houston, they’ve got their attorneys…and Foley’s made sure they’ve got a private investigator keeping things all neat and tidy.

by jhwygirl

A little over two weeks ago we wrote about developments at the old Fox Theater site, including the developer’s request to get the city-owned riverfront property – valued at nearly $3 million I believe – for nothing and a grassroots citizen’s group comprised of labor, transportation and natural resource advocates who were seeking a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) from the developer in order to (a) ensure a true community benefit to the project given that it was city-owned land and (b) garner public support for their proposal.

There were some good reads at that last post on CBA’s, including this one from the Federal Reserve and this one from Cornell University.

Since then, this project is looking more like a potential boondoggle (read: O-s-p-r-e-y–S-t-a-d-i-u-m) given that the developers are asking for a right of first refusal agreement on the parcel in exchange for the $40,000 market study they’d need to do.

A right of first refusal for land they’ve already said they need to get for nothing in order to be viable?

The Farren Group & its investors propose a $37.6 million hotel and conference center and now they want to do a market study? And they want an exclusive agreement in exchange for a $40,000 market study that is 1/10th of 1% of the cost of the project they proposed?

In the real world, they’d be paying the owner of the property for such an exclusive deal. A private property owner would laugh at such a proposal.

And according to the Missoulian, last week’s report out of city council’s Administration & Finance committee indicates that council is prepared to hand that over to them, despite the well-attended appearance of the Community Benefits Coalition at the committee meeting, and the unwillingness of the developer to even discuss such an agreement.

If they’re doing a market study, shouldn’t it include all possible knowns and variables? Wouldn’t construction labor be a significant component?

In the previous post, there were three parts to the CBA agreement. So far, Pat Corrick of the Farren Group has been provided the card-check neutrality agreement and the project labor agreement. Given the speed at which this project has moved forward in the last two weeks (why the rush?), the final portion related to design issues such as pathways and parking has yet to be finalized.

Corrick’s response to the requests by the CBC to discuss the proposals? He told the CBC that he ‘wasn’t interested in negotiating on this right now,’ and that he might be ‘when the market study is done.’

Councilperson Bob Jaffe mentioned the CBC on his Missoula.gov listserv after Wednesday’s A&F committee meeting:

The CBC folks really wanted us to withhold the exclusivity agreement until they were able to negotiate with the developers but we weren’t really interested in that. I’m hoping we can come up with something by Monday that gives them some kind of seat at the table during the negotiation period. The development group is asking for a lot of public money in this project so I think it is reasonable for them to make some concessions for our community value and concerns. Based on their presentation I’m pretty sure we are all sharing a mostly common vision for this project. I’m pretty optimistic they can all work together to come up with something we are all happy with.

Might be nice if they gave the CBC more than a few days before Monday’s meeting to try and work things out. What’s the rush…or why the rush? Shouldn’t the public fully vet this project? Especially given the recent events surrounding the Osprey stadium site?

What is the “common vision” for this project? Did that all come out in this one public committee meeting and two news articles over the last 2 1/2 weeks?

Missoula economist and all-too-infrequent-4&20 contributor Ross Keogh offers on interesting concession that I’d think should be wholeheartedly considered – with some vetting with the council, the community and the CBC: The leasing of the site to the developer. That would garner quite a monetary incentive to the developer with the reduction in property tax rate which would have the development only taxed on improvements and not the publicly-owned land.

How can Missoula even see a community benefit to this project and why are we considering granting these guys a right of first refusal agreement when they refuse to even discuss the project with the members of the community and the CBC? What exactly are the “obvious benefits” to which city council refers?

Let’s take some time to define those and see that the community is on the same page.

Bozeman has a developer begging on them to sell them a $2.3 million property downtown that would require them to tear down a garage before they build their exclusive hotel…and Missoula’s racing to give away a rivefront parcel already scraped and ready to develop just a few short months after having bought back its own property on the opposite side of the riverbank.

All without even a guarantee of living wage paying jobs.

Conservatives and liberals alike should look very carefully at any development wishing free things – including this exclusive agreemen – when the only thing they’ve dangled out there is a market study that is a drivel of the price of the hotel they’ve somehow convince MRA they are capable of building.

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

Not sure how this is flying under the radar – and maybe there’s a reason, huh? – but Missoula Redevelopment Authority (MRA) has apparently set its sights on the Hotel Fox LLC for redevelopment of the old Fox Theater site.

Back in the spring, MRA put out the call for proposals on the site, proposals being due June 30. Only two applications were considered to be complete, and the favorite which immediately surfaced to the top was the 200 – 250 room hotel with conference center proposal from Hotel Fox LLC.

Hotel Fox LLC is partnered with the Farren Group, a housing developer that’s done projects here in Missoula, Lambros Realty, and the high-end The Lodge at Whitefish Lake LLC.

Dieter Huckestein, former VP and President of the Hilton Hotels..and former president and chief executive officer of Yellowstone Club World, the world’s premier private club, appears to be financially interested in the project. Which certainly gives this proposal credibility (unlike that ridiculous Bitterroot Resort proposal from a few years back.)

Let’s hope the City or MRA doesn’t get a wild hair in their head that starts telling them they need to give the land away. I’m too lazy to go digging for the 2006 or 2007 appraisal that was done down there for that property. MRA did two appraisals as I recall, one was an appraisal for each of the two lots and the other an appraisal for the two lots valued as being sold together. Maybe some astute reader remembers those figures?

I say that knowing that “developers” are involved and this community has placed a certain priority on development of that Fox Theater site. Given the economy, we’ll certainly hear excuses for why they “developers” should get the site and a sale price of $1 because “that’s the only way these projects get done,” and the ‘just think of the economic benefit’ cry.

Didn’t we hear that with the Osprey Stadium deal?

Here in Montana, we can certainly call hog-wash on that sort of argument, it seems to me: The City of Bozeman is getting ready to entertain offers on the sale of its downtown parking garage, valued at $1.5M, for a high-end downtown hotel.

Here in Missoula, extracting that economic and community benefit of any large scale or high profile project has always been a pretty nebulous thing if you ask me. I still ponder whether the Osprey Stadium, with it’s hefty public money influx, has given back that which went into it….and while a lot of people might groan on that, there’s a whole hell of a lot more imo that are with the cynics like me on that project.

And Safeway? Missoula got a great looking grocery story, I think (?) …but wasn’t something supposed to happen with the old Safeway site too? Wasn’t that a part of the discussion? And now it sits?

Who do we trust to extract a real economic and community benefit?

For a few months here in Missoula a group of labor, community, transportation and environmental activists – and concerned citizens – have begun a discussion on how to bring good jobs to Missoula. Jobs that are both clean and living-wage. The proposal for development on the MRA-owned Fox Theater site looks to be an opportunity for these groups to actually coalesce around forming what many communities have been doing for the last decade: a Community Benefits Coalition (CBC).

I’ve done a bit of background reading on this concept, and the cynic in me loves it – what a Community Benefits Coalition does is it forms a contractually binding agreement between the developer and the CBC that ensures completion of a project that meets the definition of what the community defines as a benefit.

Again – given the track record of the city on these deals…..

Here in Missoula, some of those groups discussing a CBC for this project are the Missoula Area Central Labor Council (AFL-CIO), UNITE HERE! Local 427, the Western Montana Building Trades and Labor Council, The Clark Fork Coalition and the local Sierra Club chapter. These orgs are meeting with other orgs this week in an effort to build the broadest coalition of partners.

Current goals are for a package of proposals which include a card-check neutrality agreement (which says the employer will be neutral in any union organizing campaign and will accept union representation should a majority of the employees decide to unionize), a project labor agreement (which ensures quality wages, benefits and working conditions for labor on the construction project) and a document which ensures meaningful input into the design, transportation, parking and public spaces that will be affected by the project.

Pretty soon here Hotel Fox LLC is going to want – is going to need – a more firm assurance from MRA and the City of Missoula that the old riverfront theater site will more assuredly be theirs should their project be truly economically viable. Most certainly that economic viability part will come from a marketing study, the cost being somewhere in the $25,000 range.

Hotel Fox and Dieter Huckestein have already told MRA that if they are to put out that $25,000, they need to have exclusive development rights.

Now – it sure seems to me that these guys are asking a whole hell of a lot from the City of Missoula for a $25,000 marketing study. If they want the right to a non-competitive exclusive development right, let’s hope there’s a real community benefit.

In other words, I’d love for someone to be smart about this, and my money is on a CBC.

I’m hopeful that we get a Community Benefits Coalition together here in this project…because I know that developers love to prey on communities in these scared economic times…and Missoula needs to tread carefully on any deal surrounding the Fox Theater site.

The community benefit must be clear, and must be real. It must include good jobs from design to construction to operation.

A Community Benefits Coalition is a more surer way to get there.

~~~~
Some information:
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis paper on Community Benefits Agreements
A handbook on Community Benefits Agreements from The Partnership for Working Families
Good Jobs First, a non-partisan accountability organization for corporations that seek local community subsidies
A Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy paper titled Community Benefits Agreements: Can Private Contracts Replace Public Responsibility?
September 30, 2011 minutes of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency

By Pete Talbot

Topsy-turvey city council election. Disappointed by the Ward 2 Walzer/Hertz results but I’ll wait for the recount.

More on the council races later. Right now, I’m celebrating the landslide referendum outcome. Seventy-five freakin’ percent! Reminds me why I live here.

by Pete Talbot

So utility companies can claim eminent domain over private property but citizens (i.e.: our local government) can’t claim eminent domain over utilities.

I’m talking about our water.  The stuff we drink, cook with, bath in and use to water our gardens.

This is a screwy deal.  Missoula’s privately-owned Mountain Water Company can sell our resource — the aquifer that sits beneath us and the streams that flow from our mountains — to a multi-billion dollar private equity firm.

Meanwhile, our vaunted state legislature passes a bill that allows utility companies to exert eminent domain on private property owners so these corporations can build pipe and power lines anywhere they please.

Our legislature didn’t see fit to grant these same powers to citizens so they could control their own resource destiny.

I know it’s more complicated than that.  A city can invoke eminent domain but it costs many thousands of dollars, takes years and the outcome is uncertain.  From the Missoulian:

It took the town of Felton, Calif., population 6,000, five years to gain public ownership of its water. Felton’s water had always been privately owned, bouncing from company to company. The final straw came when owner American Water requested a huge rate increase.

So the City, with assistance from the Clark Fork Coalition, has entered into negotiations to have the right of first refusal if and when the Carlyle Group sells.  I call this a fallback position.  I applaud the coalition’s and the city’s efforts, but it seems so after-the-fact because the sale to the city hinges on the “if and when,” and, of course, what sort of mark up Carlyle will want in the sale.  Carlyle isn’t known for its philanthropy.

Now the Montana Public Service Commission has a role in all this but it’s not clear how many legal teeth the PSC has for mitigating the sale — what sort of caveats in can impose — or could it, indeed, stop the sale (which is doubtful).

The Missoulian is doing a good job giving us background and following the story.  Start here and also take a look at the related stories.  I’m waiting for that hard-hitting editorial demanding public ownership of our water, though.

In the meantime, be thankful that air isn’t for sale.  If so, the Carlyle Group would be buying it up and under current statutes, there’d be little we could do about it.

It’s enough to make a mellow guy like me into a radical.


by jhwygirl

Missoula Independent photographer Chad Harder couldn’t have gotten a better shot if he had staged it with a producer, actor and lighting.

If he doesn’t win an award or two for this one, someone’s snoozing in the jury box.

by jhwygirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signature gathering ends September 30th.

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

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

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

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

by jhwygirl

Americans for Prosperity got some national attention on their “Drill Baby Drill” tour, but not exactly the kind that they probably wanted.

MSNBC has Billings NBC station KULR’s reportwith video – of Koch Industries-funded “Running on Empty” tour as it made its stop in Billings Montana championing maintaining tax subsidies and eliminating regulatory controls on big oil.

In watching the video what I wonder is how friggin’ selfish do you have to be to be protesting the price of a gallon of gasoline when the very places you are talking your tours to have homeless families and bankrupt food banks?

How ridiculous that that spectacle of a tour look in an economy like this? Really? The price of gasoline?

They found out. 50 supporters of big oil were overtaken by “hundreds” of anti-Koch Industries/Americans for Prosperity “Running on Empty” protesters.

I’m sure they think that’s unfair. No one stopped them from meeting, just as no one stopped those protesters. Simple numbers….but we all know how poorly the Tea Party is with numbers, don’t we?

American’s for Prosperity “Running on Empty” stops here in Missoula tomorrow – noon – at Bonner Park. Hopefully you are aware that Alice and her friend the Mad Hatter will be there – along with a band of friends. I hear it will be quite the show.

UPDATE: Apparently they got even less of a welcome in Helena today.

Honestly, I won’t be surprised if they just drive on by. Scott Sales and his buddies paid for by Koch Industries don’t have the guts to stand in here in Missoula after the welcome they received east of the divide.

Hilarious.

by jhwygirl

Well, since yesterday’s post on Koch Industries-funded Americans for Prosperity’s “Running on Empty” Tour coming to Missoula without a location, they’ve since announced they’ll be at Bonner Park.

I’m sure we can thank AFP’s Montana state director Scott Sales for finally getting that critical piece of information up for this very popular Tea Party event.

I don’t know what, precisely, the Missoula Area Central Labor Council, the Montana Organizing Project and others are planning, but I got an email yesterday saying they were “sponsoring a strongly humorous response to this tour that is “Running on Empty.” We will present an updated version of Lewis Carroll’s classic “Mad Tea Party” from Alice in Wonderland. And we will have other humorous activities. Please come ready to laugh AFP out of town!”

Hmmmmmmm….

So Friday folks, while Koch & Co. are serving up their Tea Party with the sole purpose of eliminating and and all impediments to domestic oil – while keeping those tax subsidies intact for Exxon and BP and…well… Koch Industries, there will be a group of Missoulians serving up their own Tea Party.

Don’t miss the show at Bonner Park – Friday, noon.

Let’s give American’s for Prosperity a better welcome than what they got when they kicked off their tour in Jacksonville. Seems like could use some company. Show ’em some Montana hospitality!

And don’t forget to wear your Mad Hat.

by jhwygirl

Koch Industries-funded Americans For Prosperity’s Running on Empty Tour is coming to town, and they’re clearly afraid of Missoula.

They’re so afraid of the liberals here in this little ol’ university town of Missoula Montana that they’ve removed Karl Tyler Chevrolet from its event’s calendar for the tour, replacing it with “TBD”.

Missoula is the only stop in Montana with a location yet to be determined.

The Running on Empty Tour stops here Friday at noon.

Supermontanareporter John S. Adams had a piece in Sunday’s Great Falls Tribune that provides some background on Americans For Prosperity and the main thrust of its Running on Empty Tour:

Kyla Wiens, an energy advocate for the Montana Environmental Information Center, said the driving force behind AFP is one of the nation’s wealthiest energy companies working to preserve its profits.

AFP was founded in 2004 by billionaire Charles Koch, of Koch Industries. Forbes magazine listed Koch Industries No. 2 on its list of America’s largest companies in 2009 with revenues toping $100 billion. The company made its fortune in diversified companies involved in oil refining, minerals, commodities trading, and others.

According to the New York Times, AFP’s budget surged from $7 million in 2007 to $40 million in 2010, an election year.

Wiens says AFP’s claim — that “illegal” offshore drilling moratoriums, the canceling of oil and gas leases on public lands and the Endangered Species Act are driving up gas prices — is false.

“They are just wrong and they are lying intentionally,” Wiens says. “This is just false rhetoric from the Koch brothers’ group that is funded by industry and is working to protect big oil’s profits.”

For the local connection, it’s good to find out that Scott Sales (a long-time favorite ’round these parts) is president of the Montana chapter of Americans For Prosperity Foundation. That shouldn’t be much of a surprise – Scott Sales has long been a corporate apologist who defended tax cheats while a state legislator.

What’s really surprising is that Scott Sales is apparently one of the last people on earth who will still champion the free market.

Yep – that’s right. Supermontanareporter John. S. Adams grabs a quote from Scott Sales championing the free market for the oil industry:

Sales says the free market, not government regulation, will bring energy prices down.

“That’s the beauty of the free market. If there’s a lot of something, it means you’re going to have fewer dollars chasing more product. Conversely, if you have supply restrictions, you have more dollars chasing fewer commodities,” Sales says.

Hilarious. Free market is impeded by regulation. Not subsidy.

Scott Sales, still the idiot we always knew he was.

~~~~~~~
I’m hearing rumours of a counter-protests for Koch & Co. when they hit Missoula.

I guess that’s if they hit Missoula, given that Americans For Prosperity and Scott Sales seem pretty scared to even let Missoula and Montana know where it is they’re going to be stopping.

And you know what, if I had to guess, maybe they’ll be stopping to refuel here at a Holiday Station. Why? Because Holiday Station gets its fuel from the Canadian Tar Sands, and it’s refined in Canada by Flint Hill Resources.

Who owns Flint Hill Resources?

Flint Hill Resources is wholly owned by Koch Industries.

When I get info on the Missoula welcoming party for Koch/Americans For Prosperity/Scott Sales Tour, I’ll let ya’all know.

(a hat tip to @KirsteninMT for the Holiday Station info – big THANKS to her for that!)

by jhwygirl

we can all come together for good causes. In this case, while I’m none-too-happy with the Osprey/City of Missoula/stadium boondoggle, it’s a no-brainer to help out Missoula resident and conserva-blogger Dave Budge when he asked if I could give a fundraiser for the Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre a plug.

This Saturday’s Osprey game has a block of seats reserved for RMBT patrons and benefactors, all for the regular $10/ticket price. Half of that ticket prices goes directly to RMBT…and you get some dance thrown in pre-game and for the 7th inning stretch.

I have to say, the image of ballet on a baseball field is pretty cool.

Here’s a link to buy the tickets online – Osprey Online Group Portal…or you can call the RMBT (2704 Brooks, Missoula (406) 549-5155) directly to get the tickets, which avoids the service charge on using the online portal.

Dave does, of course, explain this a little better. Plus there’s a picture of his daughter in her tutu and ballet slippers – something from the proud father who’s never understandably so let an opportunity slip to brag on his beautiful daughter.

By CFS

After attending the public meeting last night focusing on the future of Missoula’s Poverello Center I came away very impressed with the format of the meeting and the positive feeling that most people came away with.  The amount of information provided to attendees that had previously not entered into the debate was substantial.  Especially interesting was the limitation placed on the pov in choosing a new site due to local zoning codes, basically most of the possibilities are within the downtown core or along commercial corridors such as Broadway, Higgins, Russell, etc.  For more information on the process, stay tuned to the City’s neighborhoods website for updates including a map of possible sites from last night’s meeting and details on future public meetings and chances for public comment.

Of course this morning I read the Missoulian article on the event and that positive feeling went away when the first quote they chose to run came from a person in opposition throwing out inaccurate  facts about the pov.

Here is the offending quote:

Despite the Poverello’s efforts to track sexual offenders, “there are 10 offenders there right now” and 85 more within a five-square-block of Lowell School, said one parent, answering a question that each group answered on sheets later shared with the audience. “And that’s just too many for this neighbor.”

Did the Missoulian bother do any fact checking at all?

A quick search of the Montana Sexual Offender Registry shows that the figure of 85 was close… for the whole zip code of 59802, which includes the pov. Rather there were a total of 81 sexual offenders residing within the 59802 zip code.  There were even more within the 59801 zip code, with a total of 83 and an astonishing 93 within the 59808 zip code.  Does that mean that a sexual predation is positively correlated with income level?

59802… looks to cover about five square blocks

When searching by the address of Lowell School I came up with the grand total of 16 sexual offenders within a very generous five-block radius and a total of 6 that have listed the pov as their residents not the quoted 10.  Is it possible that my numbers are wrong? Yes, as the registry’s disclaimer states, “Users are cautioned that the information provided on this website is information of record that is reported to the unit and may not reflect the most recent residence, status or other information regarding an offender. The unit makes no express or implied guarantee concerning the accuracy of this data,” and that for offenders with more than one address the first address is the one that comes up in searches.  Does that mean the first address an offender may have ever listed upon release?  I’m not sure.  So are my number any more accurate than the person quoted? Maybe not but they certainly are different.

Its also disturbing to see a great many of the registered offenders flagged with this note… Non-Compliant/Address Verification Overdue. It really is in red.

Is it possible that the person quoted simply misspoke? Yes, and my guess is that when they stated the statistics for sexual offenders they also included violent offenders in their numbers.  I don’t mean this post as an attack on the people who are opposed to the poverello center or the person that was quoted in the Missoulian.  My beef is with a newspaper that doesn’t seem interested in doing its job properly.  It took me all of 10 minutes to put the above information together and I’m sure I could have gotten more accurate information if I had contacted local law enforcement… like maybe a local reporter might have done.  You think that a professional that is supposed to be interested in journalistic integrity and providing unbiased fact would have taken the time to conduct the same level of verification if they are going to quote statistics in their story.

By CFS

In the debate over finding a new home for Missoula’s Poverello Center, much of the community’s attention has been captured by concerns of simply moving the homeless “problem” into a different area of town and how any spill-over may affect people’s children and home value rather than how a new and modern facility can improve the quality of life for not only homeless people and families but for the community as a whole.

The NIMBYs have taken over the asylum and seem reluctant to give back the keys.  Many people who comment on this topic think that the best solution would be to simply move the Pov to the edge of town, preferably adjacent to the interstate, to allow the homeless to keep moving on once they have visited the Pov and to more the “problem” outside of downtown away from view and out of people’s minds.

Dallas has found a different solution – one that involves providing a new standard of best-practices – by providing  services that aim to get people off the streets and back into housing and steady employment. The Bridge Homeless Assistance Center, operated by a local Dallas non-profit, has received international recognition for its innovative approach to packaging transitional services together in a single facility.  The Bridge is located on the edge of downtown Dallas where it easily accessible to not only the homeless, but well situated to create lasting community partnerships that can have a profound affect on the success of transitional services.  Successful enough that in a three-year period The Bridge has transitioned 982 people in permanent housing and placed 1,588 into jobs.

Also since the opening of The Bridge in 2008, “chronic homeless has been reduced by 57%… the local crime rate has reduced by more than 20%,” while  The Bridge has  saved the City of Dallas $3 million dollars in emergency services costs.  That, to me, seem like a well placed investment of community resources.  Missoula isn’t Dallas when it comes to the amount of resources we have to spend, but one of the strengths of our community is that we like to punch above our weight class.

As long as the conversation is focused simply on the future location of the Pov we aren’t getting to the heart of what this debate should be about… what is best for Missoula and what will bring the most benefits to our community.  The Dallas model looks to be a better option than trying to hide the problem away in some undesirable corner of Missoula.

Mea Culpa

by Duganz

I posted a piece on Monday about the Missoula Independent that contained an error which put the piece in question. As such, I removed it. I apologize for the mistake.




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