Archive for the ‘Missoulian’ Category

by jhwygirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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by jhwygirl

The City of Missoula’s attempts to criminalize homelessness has reached a ridiculous crescendo. Downtown is a mess and don’t you know, it’s all the homeless’ fault. Not the drunks – served at downtown bars – who smash up downtown businesses. Not the drunks assaulting innocent pedestrians on their way home from the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival – nope..it’s those darn homeless.

Of latest debate is the ability of people to – yeah, get this – sit downtown. Because, you know, no one should be coming to Missoula Montana and have the audacity to sit. In downtown! Of all places!

Dan Cederberg, a member of Mayor Engen’s downtown advisory committee, is quoted in this Missoulian article covering today’s committee meetings as saying that ‘the council has heard plenty of testimony that many people who sit downtown also end up harassing and intimidating people, so the act is a “gateway” to poor behavior. He said the result is a public safety issue the city must address.’

Sitting is a “gateway” to poor behavior?

Liberals and Progressives? Please phone home because your city is lost.

I’ll tell you what is “gateway” behavior to a poor downtown lacking growth: Public officials and downtown businesses and commerce organizations standing by (because, you know, sitting is bad) with nary a whisper while one of the largest and most historic pieces of commerce real estate not only in Missoula but in western Montana is eyed as a viable site for the county public library.

Let that sink in: the county friggin’ library. A non-tax paying entity taking up one of the largest contiguous parcels of downtown Missoula. A block and a half off of riverfront, and on the main bridged street through downtown?

And before the Friends of the Library come out and whine about me hating all books, I’ll pray that ya’all believe me when I say I’m a big fan of libraries and book reading. Frankly, more people should do it. Newspapers too. Everyone should read and do it often. As often as possible.

And I’m even OK if you sit while doing it!

Yeah – downtown Missoula is turning into a tax-free haven – let’s not forget the University either.

Please grow the hell up and quit blaming everyone but yourselves people.

by jhwygirl

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

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

What struck me was was last sentence:

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

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

No does mean no.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By JC

I’m having a hard time letting this one go. After Liz’s recent post on the seeming opening up of the Missoulian’s editorial page to some forward-thinking words about beginning a community dialog on mental illness, now we have outright lies and opinion masquerading as fact to continue that discussion.

I guess a bone tossed to the left deserves a bone tossed to the right, eh? Such be “balance” on the Missoulian’s editorial page. So what’s got me so ruffled? Well State Sen. Fred Thomas from down the Bitterroot seems to have been parroting some rightwing blather about Medicaid.

I get all of the outrage against Obamacare. I’ve railed against it since it became clear that Max Baucus was going to give us one of his uniquely dysfunctional American “solutions” to the lack of access to health insurance that the poor, the lower middle class, and those with preexisting conditions have.

But I’ve always maintained that through all of the ideology and desire for a workable single payer system, that Obamacare could be considered a good thing when people actually got some insurance that could help them get access to health care. To the degree that it had a positive effect on people’s health and lives, it might a good thing. We could sort out all the ideology and politics and disinformation later. I guess it’s time to let the sorting-out begin.

So when the Missoulian opened the discussion about mental illness, of course, one of the topics has to be the impact of expanding Medicaid to impoverished and homeless populations. But when Sen. Thomas wrote up his opinion piece tirade justifying the Montana Legislature’s denial of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion using a bunch of lies instead of facts, well, I guess the Missoulian isn’t too concerned about fact-checking it’s “dialog” about mental illness.

Sen. Thomas goes off in two main directions justifying his and the Legislature’s actions: 1) using a study of Oregon’s recent Medicaid expansion and 2) the budgetary impact on Montana State’s fiscal status. I’m not going to get into the debate over the scientific study, as that is well trodden territory (dkos and wonkblog have both taken it on, as have right wingers).

There’s much to debate about Medicaid and how it could be improved, but there is no debate about the difference between being poor and not having any health insurance or Medicaid, or having Medicaid. Any who would suggest that poor people are better off without having some form of access to health care via either Medicaid or private insurance are just pissin’ in the wind.

Suffice it to say that the study’s positive findings (i.e. decreased incidence and severity of depression in those who were newly enrolled in Medicaid for 2 years) have a great impact on the mental illness conversation. If the study would have looked at other forms of mental illness, I’m sure it would have found that a poor and/or homeless person who had mental illness that received Medicaid coverage would have better outcomes, and decreased incidence of symptoms.

Afterall, if you are bipolar or schizophrenic, and living under a bridge not only will you not get diagnosed, you wouldn’t be able to pay for your meds anyways, and get ongoing treatment (and no, Partnership Health in Missoula County does not offer any form of robust mental health services for free, nor does a short stint in the Providence Center’s Mental Health Unit provide comprehensive ongoing care for those without insurance or Medicaid).

Untreated mental illness is one of the largest contributors to both addiction and homelessness in our communities. To the degree that poor individuals with mental illness and/or addiction get meaningful access to either health insurance or Medicaid, they can get treatment that will begin to lessen their burden on our community and their families and they can start contributing to society.

But it’s the point that Sen. Thomas made about the Medicaid expansion’s funding under Obamacare that is such a blatant lie. Here’s what he had to say:

Potentially a far larger problem with the Obamacare Medicaid expansion was the hole it would blow in our balanced budget. Currently the revenue of the state of Montana is estimated to grow by $318.8 million from the current biennium to the next. So we expect to have $318.8 million more in 2014-15 than 2012-13. This is what provided the revenue to increase our local school K-12 funding, university system and health and human service programs.

The Obamacare Medicaid expansion is expected to cost $179.3 million in the biennium of 2018-19 and $281.7 million the next.

If we were to have expanded Medicaid, we would have committed up to 88 percent of the current revenue growth to this Medicaid expansion cost. That would have eliminated the funding increases we were able to provide for our local schools, university system and health and human services.”

What Sen. Thomas ignores is the FACT that when a state expands its Medicaid services to people under the poverty line (or 138% of poverty at the highest level), the federal government picks up the entire tab for 3 years, and during the period from 2014 – 2022 picks up a total of 93% of the cost. After 2022, the states will be responsible for only 10% of the cost of Medicaid.

So his argument against the State’s expansion of Medicaid largely rests on either an inability to understand the basic facts surrounding Medicaid expansion costs, or a desire to just use lies to justify his and the Legislature’s actions and ideological biases. Neither of which gives him the credibility necessary for the Missoulian to offer him a bunch of space to offer up a pack of lies.

It will be interesting to see how this “conversation” about mental illness and Medicaid plays out in the Missoulian, given that they have set up ground rules where opinion masquerades as fact, and the role of the media is to let a discussion as important as one about mental illness, poverty and homelessness be conducted in a fact-free environment.

by jhwygirl

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

Only a little.

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

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

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

Awww, isn’t that nice?

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

I’m sure it was jet lag.

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

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

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

One of those “it takes a village” moments.

by jhwygirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Szpaller speaks with deputy city attorney Carrie Garber:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by jhwygirl

The Missoulian is reporting that County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg is requesting $100,000 to plan for the risk exposure from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into 518 rapes and sexual assaults here in Missoula over the last 4 years. From Dale Bicknell, Chief Administrative Officer for Missoula County:

“We may have some risk here and we’re trying to plan for it.”

Van Valkenburg, you might remember, is refusing to cooperate with the DOJ investigation. He’s also provided all of his correspondence with the DOJ, along with a reply to previous postings here at 4&20 on the matter.

For my part, I remain unconvinced and believe that his behaviour is unproductive. I want his cooperation. Van Valkenburg’s lack of cooperation is disconcerting, to say the least – and comments in the Missoulian do seem to indicate that concern (and more.)

Apparently, even Missoula County officials are feeling the same. From the Missoulian article

Bickell said Van Valkenburg’s stance leaves the county feeling that it might need to protect itself on two fronts.

“One is to cover any costs of outside counsel, should there be some sort of litigation,” he said. In late May, a Justice Department letter to Van Valkenburg said that “we remain hopeful that our offices can work cooperatively so that we can resolve our investigation promptly and, if our investigation leads to findings, avoid unnecessary litigation.”

I supposed the County Commissioners are in a bit of a hard place – Van Valkenburg is an elected official. But instead of just doling out $100K, perhaps they should ask why they should have to do that.

How does his position benefit the victims? Benefit Missoula?

In other words, is Van Valkenberg’s stubbornness going to be one huge taxpayer dollar money suck, and to what purpose? Wouldn’t it be more prudent for Van Valkenberg to cooperate?

Does anyone (but Fred) think that Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg is going to keep the DOJ from its investigation? The DOJ has had UMontana’s cooperation – and they’ve had the City of Missoula Police’s too. That along with interviews gives the DOJ a significant part of the puzzle already.

The interesting little tidbit in the Missoulian story is towards the end where Van Valkenburg referenced the Seattle Police Department as an example of how expensive dealing with the DOJ can become.

The Seattle Police Department? In December, the DOJ released a zillion page investigation which basically said that the Seattle PD violated civil rights by using excessive force 20% of the time. There was also a pattern of racial bias. And corruption.

Seattle is apparently still unwilling to cooperate with the DOJ towards resolution.

And – even without Seattle having been found to have violated civil rights, Van Valkenburg has more than just the commonality of having the DOJ wanting to look at records with the Seattle PD – the person leading the investigation? Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

The denial going around doesn’t stop with Van Valkenburg and his mysterious clan of email buddies cheering him on – Engstrom is continuing his happy-go-lucky ways, saying in the Missoulian article on the Penn State sanctions: “The situations (at Penn State and UM) are so totally different that it just doesn’t make any sense to compare them.”

“Totally”?

Yeah…well that’s another post.

Van Valkenburg should cooperate. It shows lack of concern for victims. It’s a losing proposition. And it’s costly.

by jhwygirl

I’m done trying to convince the Indy to take a high road. Hell, at this point, even a rocky muddy road would be something. On the other hand, lots of us need closure. So I’m closing it.

Here is the goodbye George column that the Indy should have written.

Dear Readers –

By now many of you have noticed – given the number of phone calls and emails that we’ve received – that 12 year award-winning political opinion columnist George Ochenski is no longer gracing the pages of the Missoula Independent. Montanans have benefited from reading his words on our pages for more than a decade – and from what we can discern, he’s gained a few fans along the way.  We’ve heard that George has moved on – grabbing a weekly gig with the Missoulian. We truly wish him well.

Sometimes in life you find yourself wishing for a do-over. Especially in hindsight. This situation is certainly one that finds us in that position, if only to have handled George’s departure in a different way. Alas, there are no do-overs here. But there is moving forward.

The Missoula Independent values both our staff and our readers immensely – and we recognize it is those relationships which we need to mend. Our choice to not address this situation reflects on the impressions our readers have on the very thing thing the Indy does – writing a weekly independent newspaper. It takes a village to do a lot of things, and the Independent is no different – from our sales and advertising staff, to our copy staff, editorial staff, contributors, and writers – all are integral to the very proud and award-winning work that our readers have come to enjoy over the last 21 years.

Ultimately things most often work out for the better. We certainly hope that is true for both George and us. And while we can’t change the past what we can say, moving forward, is that the Missoula Independent will continue striving to bring Missoula and Montanans and its readers elsewhere writing that is important and truthful and relevant.

Signed,
President Matt Gibson
Editor Robert Meyerowitz

Like I said – the column that never was.

Peace out, Indy.

By JC

STOP THE PRESSES! There’s been a coup in Zoo-Town!

Time to squeeze another opinion writer in on the Missoulian’s Editorial Page. The Lowdown’s superreporter John Adams has the, uh, lowdown:

“Where’s Ochenski?

Loyal readers of longtime Missoula Independent opinion columnist George Ochenski won’t have to wait much longer to find out.

It didn’t take long for the Indy’s chief rival in Missoula, Lee Newspaper’s Missoulian, to offer Ochenski a weekly space on their opinion pages.

According to an email I just received from Ochenski, Missoulian editor Sherry Devlin has offered to print his column each Monday. At about 750 words, Ochenski’s new space will be slightly smaller than the 1,000 words he regularly submitted to the Indy. But as Mark Twain was keenly aware when he said “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead,” longer does not necessarily mean better.”

Much more at The Lowdown, and thanks for unravelling the mystery for us, John!

by jhwygirl

Missoula Mayor John Engen apologized today in an email to all city employees…only, as Lizard points out, it was more likely born out of being caught than truly giving a shit about impinging on free speech.

And for evidence of that, I point to the last two paragraphs of Sunday’s Missoulian piece. It’s pretty clear that up until darn near press time, Engen was still justifying his position of trying to silence Officer Geoff Curtis:

On Friday, Engen termed Curtis “pretty passionate about his university. It was just one of those situations where it probably was not the most appropriate choice, given what his career choice is.”

While Engen said “there was an offer (to apologize) during a particular meeting. I don’t think we need to do it today.”

Later, he texted the Missoulian to say that “Curtis is a really good young officer and his was a minor mistake born of good intentions.”

Yeah. So he apologized. Only after what was probably a hundred phone calls and him trying to figure out how he could sit through the city council public meeting tonight.

A thanks to councilperson Adam Hertz for first bringing that letter to our attention. Mr. Hertz posted the entire contents of Mayor Engen’s comments here in this comment.

And once again I offer a super huge THANKS to reporter Gwen Florio and the Missoulian for the continued investigation into this sexual assault and rape scandal enveloping the City of Missoula, County Attorney Fred Van Valkenberg’s office and the University of Montana. And extra thanks to her for those last two paragraphs above. That’s attention to detail – and makes a difference even today, imo.

by jhwygirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by jhwygirl

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

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

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 Pete Talbot

Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis

Pearls Before Swine

This is in response to the Polish Wolf’s post over at Intelligent Discontent.  While some of his stats are interesting, his premise is flawed.  Basically he says that the 99% are responsible for their economic plight by shopping at WalMart, buying imported clothing and purchasing gasoline.  There’s a grain of truth to this, I suppose, but I’m thinking that the policies of the last few decades have more to do with wealth inequalities: economic policies that favor Wall Street over Main Street, Free Trade agreements that benefit corporations more than workers, and energy policies that promote carbon-based fuels over renewables and conservation.

Montana Supreme Court rules

Or maybe I should say the Montana Supreme Court rocks!  I certainly have more respect for the majority of Montana Supremes than the majority of SCOTUS justices.  In a 5-2 vote, the justices ruled against the kooky triumvirate of Western Tradition Partnership, Champion Painting Inc. and Gary Marbut’s Montana Shooting Sports Association Inc.  Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, Montana justices don’t believe corporations should be able to buy and sell elections.

Look up pompous ass in the dictionary

And you’ll see a picture of George Will.  In his latest column, he promotes the Keystone XL pipeline, the Canadian tar sands and fracking in general.  He pooh-poohs climate change, the EPA, the National Labor Relations Board and student loans.  He believes “conservatives should stride confidently into 2012” … “because progressivism exists to justify a few people bossing around most people … ”  He has that backwards, of course, but because he uses a lot of two-dollar words, people think he’s smart.  He’s not.

And locally

Usually reliable reporter Gwen Florio reports on a woman who’s attempting to disqualify Justice of the Peace John Odlin.  This stems from two misdemeanor charges against the woman for “community decay.”  What the hell does that mean?  Did she beat up on some curbs and gutters?  Forget to paint her porch?  Dump raw sewage into a neighborhood park?  I’m dying to know.  Anyway, the Montana Supremes call her case against Odlin “frivolous.”

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 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 jhwygirl

Dear Montana Legislators that voted for SB423:

You should be utterly embarassed by the court’s assessment of your ability to grasp the very documents you were sworn to uphold when you swore your oath of office. I’m talking about the U.S. Constitution and the Montana Constitution.

Frankly – this bodes quite well for progressive tree-hugging dirty hippies like me, given my own assessment of many of the bills that were passed.

…but I digress…..

District Judge James P. Reynolds hit ya’all on a whole list of things. I’ll just name a few:

1.) First Amendment, U.S. Constutition (right to free speech)

2.) Article II, section 7, Montana Constitution (right to free speech)

3.) Fourth Amendment, U.S. Constitution (the right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure)

4.) Article II, section 11, Montana Constitution (“the people shall be…secure from unreasonable searches and seizures)

5.) Article II, section 3, Montana Constitution (“the opportunity to pursue employment…is itself a fundamental right”)

6.) Article II, section 10, Montana Constitution (right to personal privacy)

Boy – that’s quite a laundry list of constitutional rights violated by a majority of both the Senate and the House

What you’ll hear from them – or some of them – will be that “we had to do something!” and “if I didn’t do that, they’d of repealed it!”

Hmph. It was one thing to participate in the shit scramble party to write something up – it was an entirely different thing to vote for it.

Shame on you all. Each and every one of you.

Voters will hopefully remember this, as those lists of legislators that vote for this bill that many many people had said was unconstitutional and violated basic rights didn’t have any concern for rights. All they were thinking of was political expediency and gain.

If they’ll violate these rights – and really, do we really have to school a Republican-controlled legislature on the basic rights of a person’s ability to make a living? To speak and advertise? To be protected from unreasonable search and seizure?

Obviously we do. I say we school them out of office.

(Thank you to the Missoulian for reporting the story and posting the judge’s injuction.)

BCFS

And the Fuax News Achievement Award goes to… The Missoulian.

I’m not sure if its possible for the Missoulian to have their collective heads farther up the ass of new Bresnan owner Cablevision.  I know the Missoulian is a loca paper, and as such carries some pretty worthless ‘news’ items from time to time, but did they just reprint a press release or something with this ‘informative’ story … er… advertisement?  As always Missoulian,  stay classy.

If you don’t already know, Bresnan Communications was bought out by Cablevision back in December and is now calling itself Optimum West (because its going to optimize its profits yo!).  So… an already annoying local monopoly with horrible customer service is now a local monopoly owned by a national corporation with monopolistic aspirations and most likely even worse customer service.

Optimum’s services are advertised as cheaper and more advanced than Bresnan’s.

Yeah, the introductory rate may be, but in cruising the whole of the Optimum site, the one .pdf that did not load properly was the document showing their regular prices after the promotional period ends.

Anyway, I never liked Bresnan service much, its customer service was horrible and its service expensive, but it was kinda the only game in town. You can’t really  shame a company into acting in a more socially responsible manner or treating their customers in a more respectful manner (they have no conscience after all) so this is just me complaining.

It would seem that customer service is already worse under the new owners.  In the last few months I have gotten at least one call per week badgering me to upgrade my current service, you see I didn’t have the optimum package for streamlining profit potential.  Needless to say i finally freaked out on a poor telemarketer that probably didn’t even work for Cablevision, but he seemed to understand my frustration.  Customer service shouldn’t be mainly about selling your customer more crap they don’t want.

Yeah for faux news.

by Pete Talbot

Special session?

There are rumors in Helena that this session could end early.  It’s all coming down to the budget, now, and since the Republicans aren’t accepting any amendments or, really, compromising on anything, their budget proposal will head straight to the governor. Schweitzer will veto it.  That pretty much guarantees an early out — I’ve heard April 2 instead of the scheduled April 21 end date — and a special session.  Thanks, GOP, for not reaching across the aisle and getting the people’s business done in 90 days … and costing the state more money in a special session.

Champ is still a chump

They don’t mind spending money on a special session but are loathe to spend money on children, Montana college kids, seniors and the poor.  Republican Champ Edmunds (HD-100) has a letter to the editor today that plays fast-and-loose with the facts-and-figures in explaining the Republican budget.

A more accurate description comes from Democrat Carol Williams (SD-46):

“The Governor’s budget is balanced, funds critical services and maintains the second largest savings account in Montana history.  The Republican budget is balanced on the backs of women, children and seniors.  Republicans took an ax to the budget when we have money in the bank,” she said.  “I had hoped that we would be able to say to Montana’s families: we’re going to take care of your children if they get sick, make sure you put food on your table, and keep your homes warm.  But the Republican majority turned a deaf ear to the pleas of Montanans who came before the committee asking for services to be restored.”

Here are some of the facts:

* $206.2 million in cuts to the Montana families, kids, students, and seniors

* $49 million eliminated from Medicaid which would result in 4,084 babies losing coverage.

* $34.9 million cut from SNAP/Food Assistance impacting 53,000 kids, 30,000 seniors, and 42,000 adults who would go without food benefits for two months.

* $35 million rejected in healthcare information technology for 47 critical access hospitals in rural areas across the state.

* $26 million slashed from Healthy Montana Kids that would boot 5,000 children off of health insurance.

* $9.6 million removed from LIEAP that will force 12,000 families to go without heating assistance the next two winters.

* $4.7 million cut from family services eliminating services used by over 27,000 Montana families every year for healthcare, screenings and reproductive care.

* $32 million in cuts to higher education, which will result in a tuition increase of 26% over the next two years.

Williams added that with the $174.2 million in cuts to the Health and Human Services budget, Republicans turned back over $80 million in federal money, which could go to other states.  She also noted that the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana estimates that for every $10 million cut in healthcare, about 144 jobs are lost.  These cuts could result in a loss of over 2,508 healthcare jobs.

The tale of two headlines

I’ve been visiting the Magic City of Billings and reading the Billings Gazette. Here was the Front Page, above the fold, headline on Sunday:

Poll: Tightening up medical marijuana law preferable to repeal

When I checked my hometown paper, the Missoulian, here was its Front Page headline:

Most Favor Repeal

And it had a subhead that read: Lee Newspaper poll shows that 52 percent support dumping law.

Here’s the story, and while the Missoulian headline is technically correct, if you read the entire piece you’ll notice that if not given any other choice, yeah, Montanans would be in favor of a repeal. But, if given the option, 57 percent backed stricter regulations and licensing requirements, while 31 percent wanted to repeal the law and 11 percent favored keeping the current law intact.  So basically, 68 percent don’t favor repeal.

The Gazette got it right.  Missoulian: that’s lazy headline writing.

Molnar screws Missoula

I was pleasantly surprised when two of the three Republicans on the PSC voted to allow the Clark Fork Coalition “intervenor status” in the review of Mountain Water’s sale to the Carlyle Group, a private global investment firm.  Republicans Bill Gallagher and Travis Kavulla joined Democrats Gail Gutsche and John Vincent in the votes.  Volatile Republican Brad Molnar voted against CFC in intervening on behalf of Missoula water drinkers saying, “it’s a purchase issue and they don’t have standing.”  Thanks, four out of five, for voting (initially at least) in Missoula’s interest.  The Garden City needs all the friends it can get while battling this international conglomerate.

Some newspaper kudos

I’m one of the first to throw brickbats at our state’s newspapers. We are, however, extremely fortunate to have veteran Lee Newspaper reporters Mike Dennison and Chuck Johnson covering the state capitol.  An unscientific poll over at LiTW (you’ll have to scroll down a little) has blogs being the first source for information on the Montana Legislature — among bloggers, naturally.  That’s a nice ego stroke but I still continue to turn to seasoned reporters as my first source for news and analysis. Then I go to the blogs.  (I particularly respect anything Dennison writes on health care issues.  His Montana perspective on the effects of the national health care debate has been Pulitzer Prize calibre IMHO.)

John Adams of the Great Falls Tribune has done some outstanding legislative reporting although I don’t follow him as much.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day.  Same with Montana Public Radio.  Thank you, all, and keep up the good work.

by jhwygirl

Boy – couldn’t have better weather for a fly-fishing competition and evening fundraiser, could you?

Missoula’s very hard-working homeless shelter, The Poverello’s Center will be hosting its 5th annual Double Haul Fly Fishing Fundraiser Saturday, with Kettlehouse Brewing providing adult beverages and Two Sisters of Montana helping out with the food.

Who’s doing the stand-up? Of course, Mayor John Engen…

There’s also Bob Wire – who not only does some mean stand-up, he is multi-talented with both voice and gee-tar.

So don’t miss it people. Even if you don’t do the fly-fishing part, the evening fundraiser starts at 5 p.m. downtown in the Governor’s Ballroom of the Florence Building.

P.S. – Hey Kettlehouse! Fix that webpage!

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 Duganz

I have a thing for wine. It’s not that I have good taste, because I cannot tell you the difference in grape by region or picking; I cannot describe wine by its “subtle hints of mint and apple.” No.  The thing I have for wine is that it gets me drunk.

Thus I found myself in Liquid Planet on an otherwise normal Sunday morning – before the rush – buying several bottles of wine––among them a plaintive white that upon finishing this evening I threw from my deck. When I sober up I will of course seek the remnants of the label and tell you its name, because I think it tasted okay, and it went down rather well. Continue Reading »

by Pete Talbot

When newspapers start to merge, and there has been a lot of that lately, they usually start with the advertising, accounting and circulation departments, and keep the newsrooms separate.

So it was a bit of a surprise when the Missoulian announced that the Ravalli Republic and Missoulian were combining their newsrooms under Missoulian editor Sherry Devlin (although I should have seen the handwriting on the wall with all the Ravalli Republic reporter bylines showing up in the Missoulian’s pages).

So what’s the next step, one daily newspaper serving Missoula and the Bitterroot? This is not good news for any of the communities up and down the valley, Missoula included.


by problembear

it is about time that the main stream media took these guys to task. congrats to sherry for telling it like it is. used to be a time when this country didn’t tolerate bad behavior. now we don’t just tolerate lying, we reward it.

in another state this lady takes on the fraudulent behavior of glenn beck. Carla is a pioneer of blogging, much like wulfgar. and it shows. enjoy.



by jhwygirl

Briefly:
Last month, the Missoula County Public School District voted a 20% pay raise ($ + bonus’) for superintendent Alex Apostle, while holding teacher raises to one half of 1% and acknowledging that staff lay-offs were going to occur.

News is News:
Criticism reached a crescendo immediately as news of the pay raise made it out into the community – teachers, students and taxpayers alike weren’t very happy. Letters to the editor were plentiful…more than one school board trustee could take.

Potty Mouth:
Trustee Nancy Pickhardt, an elected official, apparently didn’t like the criticism. She left a voice message for friends of hers who had written a letter criticizing the board’s pay raise decision amidst the current economic situation of giving the teachers only .5% – stating succinctly that Apostle works no harder than the rest of the MCPS system.

What Did Nancy Say?
Go fuck yourself.

What Happened Immediately?
The roar of the dirty masses (i.e., teachers, taxpayers, students and staff ) became louder. At the very next monthly school board meeting (August 10th) a standing-room only crowd protested the raise and scores of people – the dirty masses – spoke in public comment, many quite eloquently, of (1) the board’s misplaced decision regarding the raise (2) Nancy Pickhardt’s potty mouth and the poor example it set for the students, and (3) the need for Nancy Pickhardt to resign.

What Happened Today?
Nancy Pickhardt resigned today. When contacted by the Missoulian to confirm the authenticity of her emailed resignation, Mrs. Pickhardt screamed at the Missoulian reporter (unnamed in the story), saying sarcastically “No, it’s not real. You must be very happy. You’re the one who fomented this. Have a great life.”

Shame on you unnamed Missoulian reporter – you made baby Nancy Pickhardt cry.

I truly hope that is the last we ever hear of this undignified piece of a human being.

by jhwygirl

Setting a fine example and a tone for the season, Coach Pflugrad allowed hoodlum Jimmy Wilson back to practice today after a one week suspension since his “not guilty” plea to biting a woman on the leg.

Wilson has been sitting in prison in California for the last two years awaiting a second trial on murder charges because the first one ended in a hung jury. The second trial acquitted him.

But why was Jimmy Wilson suspended? It was because of pending citations from the city for a late night incident August 5th. This, from the Missoulian’s fine court and crime reporter Tristan Scott:

According to court records obtained by the Missoulian, the alleged offense occurred on Aug. 6 at 2:15 a.m. near the intersection of Park Street and Southwest Higgins Avenue. The ticket alleges Wilson committed “assault by biting (name redacted) on the right leg, causing pain and visible injury.”

Ryan said the alleged offense occurred inside a vehicle occupied by Wilson and five other individuals, including the alleged victim. The woman did not report the incident to police until later.

“There were six people in the car and nobody else saw what happened. What occurred was either unintentional or it was playful,” Ryan said. “He’s pleaded not guilty, and he deserves a fair shake until all the facts are compiled and the investigation is completed. It’s a strange allegation.”

So Jimmy’s back in town, dancing and having fun on the field as I saw from KECI’s clips on tonight’s evening news.

Pflugrad, for his part, justified putting Wilson back on the field saying “we’ll let the legal system play out.”

I’m sure he’s just a misunderstood youth, just looking for a break…and all of these incidents are just a bunch of mistakes. All of ’em.

It’s a great discipline message sent to the gang of Grizzlies, no?

Coach Pflugrad is setting quite the tone there in his new haunts. City residents better buckle-up – this is just the beginning.

Wh00t! Wh00t!




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