Archive for the ‘University of Montana’ Category

by jhwygirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But getting back to my cowoker…..

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

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

And I love pink ponies and rainbows.

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

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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

Oh my, what has Pat Williams gone and done now… besides upsetting the Montana Board of Regents with another gaffe?

“The university has recruited thugs for its football team, and this thuggery has got to stop.”

Well, I guess after the football player thugs all get thrown in jail, the city might be a better place, though I doubt all the thuggery will stop. Still seems to be a lot of institutionalized beatings, and looking the other way going on.

By JC

This just in:

“The Most Underperforming Colleges: US News And World Report”
underperfomer

Why?

“it could mean that the school’s reputation has yet to fully reflect negative trends that are taking place in the underlying academic indicators.”

Oh really? And what might those “negative trends be”?

by jhwygirl

Well-pedigreed sources are saying that University of Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson – who was accused of rape back in March – will be announcing his departure from the scandal-ridden Griz football team in the next few days.

Jordan was suspended briefly from the team until a temporary restraining order was replaced by a civil agreement between the victim and Jordan back in late March.

The victim was not pleased.

City of Missoula Police handed the case to County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg back in May. It appears it still sits with his office, unprosecuted at this time.

If rumours are true, Jordan Johnson was expelled back in May, the rumour started with a storm of twitter comments back on May 25th.

Other rumors have had the Jordan Johnson case as one in which he was appealing his expulsion to the University of Montana disciplinary system.

The student code of conduct and the disciplinary system remains cloaked due to privacy laws. That being said, if Johnson was indeed expelled, that would make it impossible to play for the Griz.

This will leave new coach Mike Delaney pretty shallow on qb’s – interim athletics director Jan Gee announced earlier this month that Gerald Kemp had been dismissed from the team – and Nate Montana left back in May.

Though the very next day after Gee announced Kemp’s dismissal, coach Delaney clarified that Kemp could be reinstated.

With today’s announcement – removing the “interim” label from Delaney’s coaching position – Delaney seemed darn happy. Engstrom, for all the Griz-hate he’s endured, did a good thing for the embattled team, making Delaney a permanent coach with a 2 year contract.

The team needs stability – and it needs a no-nonsense coach. While he’s already shown some waiver of his alleged no-nonsense style, Delaney will hopefully keep the team on the track that it should be on: A team with high moral standards, a commitment to education and community first, and a strong desire to win while maintaining those standards.

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

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

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 JC

Just thought I’d throw this up as an open thread. I’m sure everybody’s got a take, an anecdote and/or a link. Maybe it’s all just a bunch of CYA by Engstrom, I don’t know. Go for it.

Via the Missoulian:

“O’Day said he did not believe the firing was directly related to a recent decision to allow Grizzlies quarterback Jordan Johnson to practice with the team after a UM student filed a police report and received a civil no-contact order against Johnson. The women alleges she was sexually assaulted by Johnson; his lawyer has denied the allegation.
However, the firings do come on the heels of a university investigation into sexual assaults involving students, some of them allegedly UM athletes.”

Sure, not directly related. But when you add up about a hundred indirectly related bad calls…

by jhwygirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by jhwygirl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

City of Missoula? Don’t you feel safe?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Pete Talbot

Eating crow

First, an apology to our readers for a factual error.  We wrote that GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Miller was going to announce Billie Orr, from Bozeman, as his running mate.  It turns out that the PSC’s Bill Gallagher got the nod.

We got the Orr info from a reliable source.  The tip was originally emailed to jhwygirl but it bounced back because of an old address. It was then forwarded to me.  I passed it back to j-gal because: 1) I’m super busy right now and 2) I’m not really that interested in who the far right is recruiting for lieutenant governor.  But I figured the tip was worth a mention.

Now in real journalism, at least one more source should have confirmed this, and calls to both Miller and Orr would be made, to confirm or deny.  But hey, this isn’t the New York Times.  It isn’t even the Missoulian.  It’s a blog.  The contributors here all have real lives and do this in their spare time, with no remuneration.

But apologies are still due to jhwygirl for me passing the buck to her, to Pogie for giving him an erroneous tip, and to our readers.

Some interesting asides, though.  One is that I learned a little something about Ms. Orr — an education activist and tea party member.  Now that’s an oxymoron.  Also, the Miller campaign is doing some strange things — campaign insiders are either being very clever or haven’t a clue as to what’s going on.  I suspect the latter.  Finally, the PSC’s Gallagher is a right-wing ideologue who poorly represents Montana on the commission.  We can only hope he resigns to spend more time on the governor’s race but fat chance of that.  The PSC paycheck is just too good.

UM makeover

So the University of Montana is giving $160,000 to a Pittsburgh consulting firm to “rebrand” the school’s image.

From the Missoulian story:

“Tree-hugger school.”

That’s what a Missoula gas station attendant called the University of Montana when a Mind Over Media team member casually asked whether he knew anything about the university.

The university is redoing its image based on what a gas station attendant says.  It should be ashamed of its nationally recognized environmental studies program, its touring Montana Repertory Theatre, its creative writing program, its journalism, pharmacy, law, education, forestry and music schools …

Yo.  It’s a liberal arts college.  If someone wants to learn about mining, they go to Butte’s School of Mines (now known as Montana Tech).  Engineering or agriculture?  Go to MSU (also known as Moo U, but I don’t see them “rebranding”).  Another excerpt:

UM is still defined in some ways by the political rhetoric expressed in the 1960s. That, in addition to its liberal arts curriculum, has earned UM names over the years such as “The People’s Republic” and the “Dancing Academy.” It shows how slowly perceptions change, said Chris Comer, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Your campaign is going to have to be awesome,” he said.

Again, the university should shy away from its artistic, political and environmental activism.  That sure would be “awesome.”

Here’s a PR suggestion: take that $160K and put it toward faculty and staff raises, or a break on tuition, and be proud of what you are, UM.  I am.  That’s what I call “branding.”

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 Pete Talbot

Woke up this morning, put on my Grizzly hoodie and then opened up the daily fishwrap.

The alleged sexual assault by at least three UM football players is above the fold and the administration is stonewalling.  Roofies, the rape drug, may be involved.  Great.  Kind of takes the wind out of our sails just hours before kickoff of the semifinal FCS playoff game, not to mention the trauma visited on the two alleged women victims.

Here’s the skinny.  The comments after the story give some insight into the community’s reaction, that is until they deteriorate into Monday morning quarterback banter.  I have a feeling that jhwygirl will do a more in-depth piece here at 4&20. She’s been following Grizzly football antics for years.  Sometimes I think she’s a bit too harsh but in this case: go get ’em.

I realize that folks are presumed innocent until proven guilty but this reeks.  If the players who are potentially involved in this assault suit up for the game, and are later charged and convicted, the fallout could be, rightfully, disastrous (as in UM’s administrators and coaches suffering the same consequences as did Penn State’s).  I’ll wait for more facts to come out but if indeed an assault occurred, may those who committed it face the full brunt of the law.

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.

Guest post by Matthew Koehler, Ian Lange and John Snively (promoted by JC)

Last fall news broke that the University of Montana was planning to construct a $16 million wood-burning biomass plant on campus next to the Aber Hall dormitory. UM officials claimed the biomass plant would save UM $1 million annually and protect Missoula’s air quality by reducing emissions over the existing natural gas heating system.

As interested citizens, we attended the university’s biomass “poster presentation” last December, which, unfortunately, raised more serious questions than it answered. So we continued to ask questions and research the proposal. In March, we even conducted an “open records” search of UM’s biomass project file, pouring over hundreds of documents and emails between UM officials and representatives of Nexterra, a Canadian biomass boiler manufacturer, and McKinstry, a Seattle energy services company. Suffice to say, our records search turned up even more troubling questions, especially related to costs, maintenance and emissions.
Continue Reading »

by appalachianfreedom

There was some great news from the University of Montana’s Provost Website recently:

IMPORTANT NOTICE: At this time, the funds available for Student Enrichment Opportunities have been exhausted. This notice will be removed as soon as additional funding sources are identified. It is unlikely that any more proposals will be funded in fiscal year 2011.

This is great news because there is finally a disclaimer that tells prospective grant applicants that the Provost is broke, even though it is more than a year overdue, its nice to see some consideration there. I also like to think that I played a small part in this after my discussion with the Provost office earlier this Spring. The discussion centered around the disdain from me and my graduate ilk toward the office after we and our department faculty spent three weeks preparing and rewriting a grant proposal. We then waited a month and a half after submission until we contacted the office (as an ironic twist, the submission deadlines on the office’s website were also wrong). It took them a few minutes to retrieve our request from file, followed by an additional minute to explain that the office had been out of funds since before the previous semester. I took a few days to confirm this with other departments that I knew had submitted grants and I suggested another meeting with the Provost office to try to get them to put a notice on their website that they were broke. They did not grant us the pleasure of such a congress.

Please understand that I am not disgruntled because our grant did not get funded. I have written many unsuccessful grants in my tenure as a student. When writing a grant you have to make yourself believe that you have the largest non-zero probability of getting funded. I can honestly say, however, that this was the first grant that I have been a part of where the probability of funding was in fact, zero. I certainly wish I had not wasted three weeks writing and revising it, that is for sure.

So the Provost is out of money, that is certainly par for the collegiate course in our current economic environment. We researchers may just have to go a bit lean for a while, it is understandable. As long as our campus community at-large can also make some sacrifices, it may even bring us a higher sense of fraternity as we all weather the great recession together–Students, Faculty, Staff, and Administration alike. Wouldn’t that be something?

Instead, errors of excess continue. Had you walked into the Davidson Honors College lounge on a Friday evening when school was in session, you would have seen this:

The Friday night faculty and staff party. I am not going to tell you how much a cheese buffet and open bar form the University of Montana Catering Services costs for two reasons. Number one, you probably would not believe me, and number two, the cheese you see on the silver platter is in principle, wrong. It is wrong because these pictures were taken during the threat of a 34 million dollar cut in funding from the State Legislature. Three days prior to this party I stood in the cold rain with my fellow students to rally in hopes that the legislators would reconsider. One week prior to this party the University sent a mass email preparing students for “double-digit tuition increases” and a “dramatic decrease in student services.”

The cheese party went ahead as scheduled. Now we know that the budget scare is over. The University will actually receive about a 2.4 percent increase over the next two years. The question now becomes; will that money be used for more cheese, or perhaps to fund students by creating an environment that they deserve as scholars (paying scholars, that is). Perhaps it could be used to replace the carpet in the Mansfield library currently being held together by duct tape?

By JC

Well, let’s knock another $15 million out of the Montana economy, and beat up on the poor some more while doing it.

“You can go to school, collect your Pell Grants, get food stamps, low-income energy assistance, section 8 housing, and all of a sudden we find ourselves subsidizing people that don’t have to graduate from college. And there ought to be some kind of commitment and endgame”…

But in Montana, Rehberg has been taking some heat for voting for the House GOP budget resolution, which would reduce the maximum Pell Grant from $5,500 to $4,705 and narrow the eligibility of applicants. Financial aid officials at the University of Montana and Carroll College in Rehberg’s home state recently told reporters that they were disappointed in his vote and urged Montana’s two U.S. senators to preserve funding.

In Montana, 24,000 students are scheduled to receive a Pell Grant next year. If the House budget bill becomes law, the state would lose $15 million in funding for the program.”

Gotta pay for them tax breaks for himself, er, the rich somehow.

bozo the drunk

by Pete Talbot

Other Big Sky Conference schools made the Sierra Club’s list of the 100 greenest colleges, like Northern Arizona and Portland State.

No sign of UM or MSU, though, and I’d heard these campuses were supposed to be going green.

Did the Grizzlies and Bobcats forget to send in the Sierra Club surveys, or are they not stacking up (environmentally, that is)?

Being on this list is a good thing: not just for image, but it’s economically and socially responsible. Montana’s universities and colleges should be in the top ten.

By CFS

“We are the army out to free men!” – Sheriff Richard Mack

I just want to get back to building an army and preparing for a revolution.” – Schaeffer Cox

“While the State exists there can be no freedom; when there is freedom there will be no State. – Vladimir Lenin

That last quote by Lenin could have easily come from the mouth of your average American Libertarian.

This last weekend saw Ravalli County political group Celebrating Conservatism host the first ever Liberty Convention held at the Adams Center on The University of Montana campus.  While the Adams Center might have seemed a little hollow with so few people in attendance, that fact didn’t  seem to bother the convention organizers.  “This,” said Mona Docteur, the driving force behind much of Celebrating Conservatism’s activities, “was mainly a chance to network with like minded individuals.”  But while the numbers might have been small, the philosophical foundation from which the Liberty movement is building upon is not; it is bold, steeped Western anti-government sentiment and rugged individualism, and wants to radically change the relationship between the individual and the state.

The fact that Conservatism is in the name of the group is an insult to true Conservatives.  Conservatism as a political and social philosophy is one that respects traditional institutions that work to uphold the functioning of a society and rejects radical change.  Many of the people brought into speak at the Liberty Convention made a point to specifically call for a radical break from current political institutions and radically reshape American society.  On the surface of things, Celebrating Conservatism and many similar small groups around Montana and the West are pushing for many policies that many would associate with conservatism… gun rights,  states sovereignty, small government, and individual freedom.

Peel back the public veneer and what this movement wants is much more radical; a libertarian utopia devoid of any from of central government “tyranny,” and ultimate freedom for the individual.  When speaking about the “proper” role of government Gary Marbut – local Missoula gun rights advocate and author of the Firearms Freedom Act – questioned whether building highways was a legitimate use of government authority.  If a so called  “conservative” is questioning the building of roads you can imagine his opinion on the BLM, Forest Service, Social Security, DUI laws, etc.  To them, individuals should operate as they see fit without any regulation upon behavior… except for vigilante justice dispensed by local citizen militias and an armed populace.  I guess a clean gun is supposed to make for good neighbors.

Many of the speakers at the convention expressly stated such beliefs based not only upon political philosophy but also scripture.  2008 Constitution Party Presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin – whom spoke Friday night – in a May 19th 2010 article available on his website predicts the breakup of the United States and applauds the prospect of states succeeding from the union (in the same article he also claims that bringing women into the military is a globalist plot to make our military less efficient and weaken our national security to the point that wee can’t operate without UN support).

Red Beckman – perpetual tax protester and long time militia movement supporter – shared this same view that the tyrannical Federal Government will be brought down because we as a nation have forsaken God and that, just as the USSR was brought down by God, the Federal Government will disappear as part of God’s will.  He also stated that illegal immigration was God’s curse on this nation for the Roe v. Wade decision.  They don’t just see the fall of the American Empire… they actively want to push it over the edge.

This group sees themselves as being oppressed by a tyrannical and unjust government that time and again ignores the constitution and has usurped individual freedom.  How they propose to reshape the political landscape is truly nothing short of a revolution.  Red Beckman implored the audience to follow the example of Romanian soldiers whom in 1989 turned on and killed the dictator.

The one feature of language used throughout the convention that surprised me was the constant allusions to and mentioning of “building an army.”  Speakers referred to the audience as “foot soldiers” and Mona Docteur asked them to, “stand on the front lines.”  As much as they disparaged against socialism, communism, and specifically the Bolshevik Revolutionaries it seems that they share much in common with the Bolsheviks in their formative year.  The pattern of history the Liberty Movement sees themselves part of is awkwardly similar to how Marx and Lenin foretold the fall of the oppressive Tsarist regime.

Just as the Bolsheviks saw themselves as the awakened and enlightened vanguard that would lead Russia to a proletariat democratic utopia; the Liberty Movement’s professional revolutionaries  on display this last weekend talked of “leading the charge,” and “bringing enlightenment to the rest of America,” from this small base of people that can, “see the truth,” of how oppressive and tyrannical the government is.  Speaker Schaeffer Cox – Fairbanks, AK militia organizer – talked of, “being right on the edge of having to bloody our swords… revolutions are not instituted, they are provoked, and they are provoked by government.”  Sounds oddly like “a revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation,” declared by Vladimir Lenin.

The normal person involved in these meetings and the movement are just that… normal people that are simply fed-up with the current political atmosphere and I’m sure they wouldn’t consider themselves revolutionary.  A lot of the allusions to revolution might be hyperbole… but it seems to me that these luminaries, the professional revolutionaries of the Liberty Movement, believe what they are saying.  They are in no why cynical and actually quite optimistic in their assessment of what they can and will accomplish and are attempting to build a larger coalition across the West.

Groups like these feed off of troubling and uncertain times and today is full a many challenges and uncertainties about the future.  Just as in the 1930s this country, saw a large uptick in communist and fascist party membership people today are looking for a fresh political movement that will provide a clear way forward and a promising future to those that currently see only despair.  While this movement is small today no group that openly talks of revolution should be ignored.  Rather they should be studied to understand the mechanisms by which they operate and grow so that their very legitimate concerns may be addressed within society at large.

Vladimir Lenin established his first revolutionary group in 1895, it wasn’t until 1917 that the revolution came to fruition… jolted violently to life by the collapse of the Russian economy after WWI.  The Liberty Movement is predicting such a collapse… hoping for such a collapse… and biding their time until such a collapse happens.

by jhwygirl

A Tar Sands Shipments Open House will be held Tuesday, April 27th, 6:30-7:30pm at the University of Montana Campus in the Third Floor of the UC, Room 330/331.

It is sponsored by Northern Rockies Rising Tide, UM Climate Action Now, and the entire No Shipments Network. It’s purpose is to look at the local, regional, and international impacts of the Mammoet Shipments of equipment and the Alberta Tar Sands.

The timing is appropriate – MDOT’s public meeting to present the (so-called) preferred alternative is Thursday, April 29th, with an Open House at 6:00 p.m. and a Public Hearing at 6:30 p.m. It will be held at Meadow Hill Middle School, Old Gymnasium, 4210 Reserve Street, Missoula, MT

NRRT, UM CAN and NSS included a summary with their email:

The Alberta Tar Sands have been called out in the international community as the worst industrial project on the face of the planet. Currently Exxon Mobil is planning to invest 26.1 million dollars to open up a new northwest corridor to ship Tar Sands mining equipment from South Korea to Alberta. The proposed route begins in international waters, comes up the Columbia and Snake Rivers to the Port of Lewiston, and from there moves along the Lochsa river, up over Lolo pass, through Missoula and up the Blackfoot River to the Port of Sweetgrass. The trucks carrying the equipment are, at their largest, 24 feet wide, 30 feet tall, and 262 feet long; the size of a three story building with the length of almost a football field.

The Environmental Assessment as required by Montana Department of Transportation regulations has just come out but does not adequately address the impacts these shipments will have on local communities, emergency vehicle passage, or environmental damage from road construction. Most importantly, the assessment does not even mention the impacts Tar Sands mining has on Climate Change even though Montana stands to be greatly affected by the continued use of such fuels.

As well, the scope of the Assessment is drastically limited and does not take into account the entire route through which these shipments will pass. By only completing the Montana Environmental Assessment Exxon Mobil is circumventing any federal process that would require them to look at the shipment route as a whole. We need to press the Montana DOT to submit to a federal Environmental Impact Statement to take into full account all the damages that Tar Sands mining generates.

By CFS

Missoula is having a hard time of it lately and things are not going to be getting much better anytime soon.  Macy’s closed this week and several other local downtown businesses are set to shutter their doors.   And no, The University will not be able to bailout this community.  In fact, The University is likely to become a source of more pain as budgets are cut further and departments are forced to let positions stay unoccupied.

At a recent meeting discussing an infrastructure project to be built in the next few years someone made the comment that, “The University should just contribute more.” No… they really can’t.

According to NewWest.net, The University could be facing a $7.6 million budget cut in fiscal year 2011, or about 5%.  Thats a lot of money for our local economy and a lot of corresponding jobs.  Perhaps the worst thing coming out of The University for Missoula is not a budget cut but a lack of building projects.  Over the last decade hundreds of millions of dollars went into new buildings on campus.  Not only did this create new educational opportunities, but it also gave a substantial boost to the local building trade, helping to support many a contractor, architect, laborer, and even LEED supervisors.  Once built all those new buildings needed to be maintained by a legion of support staff and everyone’s favorite… administrators.

But now the building spree is over and future investments are now in question, especially with King George set to depart.  Dennison was a big supporter in recent years of reducing The University’s carbon emissions and energy use.  Retrofitting the campus to be sustainable would require a large amount of investment dollars.  Was this out of some altruistic sense?  Probably not… much more likely that he was thinking of the financial benefit such a program would reap five, ten, or twenty years down the road as well as the marketing pot-of-gold a sustainable campus would represent.  Previous policies initiatives could be up in the air with any new captain steering the ship.

Already projects that might have found funding in a different economic environment are on hold indefinitely, such as the COT expansion and a new coffee shop on campus that would have been LEED certified.  The pain is even creeping into student organizations such as the Office of Transportation which is facing an 8-12% budget cut because expected federal funding will most likely not show up on time.  An 8-12% budget cut for an organization that has a $700,000 annual budget means 3 or 4 part-time student positions disappear.

So while The University may seem like its own little world that some would like to ignore or marginalize, including the student body, it’s really an integral part of Missoula… and when Missoula suffers so does the U.

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread.

Wow. Didn’t know compliance with state laws was voluntary. Pretty convenient, huh?

Bitterroot foreclosures are skyrocketing.

I follow a number of foreign tweeters, including some chinese folk who continue to try and push stories out about the melamine-in-baby-food problem. One that I follow was arrested and then later released probably because he tweeted his own arrest. Now, that tweeter is tweeting that organizers for the families of the victims of the tainted milk have been arrested. There’s one guy who has posted pics of his tiny baby who is in kidney failure. It is heartbreaking. Their government is failing them, and the world needs to know.

Twitter is all very interesting. There is great potential there to influence and help promote democracy from what seems a silly tech site. When the Iranian guard cracked down recently most media and even those within Iran agreed that Twitter served as a tool to save lives from the harsh government crackdown. Another group that I’m aware of is trying to get 5 Cubans released, and wants the U.S. to intervene. Twitter makes the world larger for one of it’s most difficult issues: human rights.

Melinda Gopher, Democratic candidate for Montana’s lone House of Representative seat, has a website up. Ms. Gopher is OjibwekweOgemaw on twitter.

Forward Montana is hiring a managing director. No mail or phone calls, please. Deadline is December 7.

Facts are, apparently, a problem for former Republican Vice President candidate Sarah Palin

If you aren’t reading the Indy’s blog every day, you are missing out.

The Montana Kaimin reports on the woefully sad story of how the Board of Regents is going to have to have to give King George a $75,000 raise, all because the hired a new president out an MSU. The Missoulian covered the same story about a week ago…and it, too, had interviews with persons who were more than happy to frame it as a “oh, poor us, we have to give him a $75,000 raise.” Sorry. Not buying it. No where else in Montana is an entity hiring new people based on competitive wages and then giving a raise to every single other person of the same job a raise.

In more irony, these people are framing this as some sort of search for excellence. Let’s be clear here, with regards to George Dennison. He’s there already. What has he done to increase his excellence rating to a tune of $75,000? And lately, he’s not really shown any excellence in leadership towards education. Football maybe. Beyond that – isn’t he due to recycle his let’s-bulldoze-the-golf-course-and-build-condos plan again? I say let him prove his excellence to someone else if he wants $280,000 a year…and then let’s promote from within the walls of UM. I’m sure there’s someone down there not only capable, but more than willing to take the job on at less than $280,000.

Well now – that’s enough, isn’t it? What say you?

by jhwygirl

Roy Houseman, Jr., 28, filed for Ward 2’s City Council seat today. He is challenging sitting councilman John Hendrickson. Ward 2 is a 3-way race, with Cynthia Wolken also having filed

The name should be familiar to most – Houseman is President of United Steelworkers Local 885, the union shop for Smurfit-Stone. He’s a Great Falls native who moved to Missoula in 1999, attended and graduated from UM in 2003 with a degree in English Literature and Psychology.

Houseman is just the type of person we need on council: Young and energetic – full of ideas, and willing to work hard. I mean – how many 20-somethings do you know that would run for president of their union local? How many 20-somethings would run for council? Houseman certainly is no slacker – and I certainly look forward to someone with a vision towards a better future for Missoula.

Why is Houseman running?

“I love Missoula. It’s a great community that has given me a wonderful life. I met my wife here. We bought a house in October and the community has afforded me opportunities I would never have thought imaginable. If I can give back to a growing and changing city by assisting in the administration and oversight of Missoula, well I see no reason not to run.”

Sounds about right by me…

~~~~~
The other races?

In Ward 1, incumbent Dave Strohmaier is being challenged by Ryan Mortan, government affairs director for the Missoula Building Industry Association.

In Ward 3, incumbent Bob Jaffe is being challenged by John Quandt.

In Ward 4, Councilman Jon Wilkins goes unchallenged. That doesn’t surprise me much…even the great curmudgeon (me) has come to kinda like the guy. Not all the time, mind you – but clearly, Wilkins isn’t operating on his own personal agenda 100% of the time or even 50% of the time – and that is a good thing.

In Ward 5, incumbent Dick Haines is being challenged by Mike O’Herron.

In Ward 6, incumbent Marilyn Marler is being challenged by Kathy Greathouse.

by Pete Talbot

Where does the UM Law School get these folks?

When I first saw the Missoulian headline, I figured law professor Rob Natelson was at it again. But it turns out there’s another law professor who has issues with the First Amendment.

Adjunct professor Kristen Juras believes that the sex and relationship column in the student newspaper, the Montana Kaimin, written by student Bess Davis, is “inappropriate.”

Natelson weighed in earlier on the Electric City Blog calling the column “state-funded porn” and was concerned about the impact on UM students or as he called them, “post-pubescents.” Natelson teaches constitutional law at UM.

Then Juras chimed in:

“Freedom of speech is not absolute,” she said Wednesday in a telephone interview with the Missoulian. Try that “not absolute” argument on the Second Amendment here in Montana and see how far it gets you.

It’s bad enough the Missoula School Board is censoring environmental films for high schoolers. Now college students must be shielded from “sex” talk.

I’m not sure I’m familiar with Davis’ column and I read the Kaimin from time-to-time. I’ll start looking for that column now, for sure. Bess should thank Kristen and Rob. This is as good as marketing gets.

by Pete Talbot

Curse the Missoulian. I had a couple of pithy posts bouncing around in my brain this weekend and then opened the Sunday paper to see my ideas in print. Well, here’s my take:

Young Republicans on the move

H.D. 93 candidate Steve Dogiakos and H.D. 92 candidate Dan Stusek are featured in the Sunday dead-tree edition. I like it when youngsters get involved in politics, no matter what their stripe. I really do. And I like Steve’s gnarly Mohawk.

I have a few problems with them as candidates, though. First, neither bothered to fill out the Missoulian questionnaire on local legislative races. One has to wonder if this was on the advice of higher-ups or whether they just wanted to keep their constituents in the dark. Hardly what I’d call voter outreach.

Steve is running against retired UM economics professor Dick Barrett. Barrett has authored numerous papers on Montana economic trends and has done research on Northwest economic, employment and environmental policy. I’m thinking that Dick would be a better legislator in these uncertain times.

Dan is running against H.D. 92 stalwart Robin Hamilton. Dan’s number one political issue is family values. This would be fine if he defined family values as making sure that families don’t have their homes foreclosed on, that they can earn a decent wage, have decent health care, get a decent education, have a healthy environment … I imagine his family values have more to do with gay marriage, prayer in schools, abortion — issues that are about as relevant these days as horse-and-buggy legislation.

But you can read about them here

I stumbled across this website the other day. It’s written by UM journalism students and features interviews with many western Montana legislative candidates. There’s one with Mr. Dogiakos and a brief profile on Mr. Stusek. I suppose those two think that at least, maybe, they can snag a few student votes by filling out UM student journalist questionnaires. The site is called “Missoula’s Choice 2008” and is worth checking out.

Ignorance is bliss

And some more university news: twelve conservative groups are urging Montanans NOT to vote for Legislative Referendum 118, the six-mill levy that helps fund the Montana university system. The Missoulian’s Helena Bureau Chief, Chuck Johnson, takes an historic look at past foes of the six-mill levy. Those foes include the Anaconda Copper Company and the John Birch Society. Another opponent was an ROTC lieutenant colonel who didn’t like the language in an assigned English course essay. The colonel was later arrested in Salt Lake City for soliciting sex from an undercover meter maid.

So, it’s great company that the conservatives are keeping in their bid to continue underfunding the university system. I’ve never even heard of half the folks trying to block the funding but some of them, like the Montana Family Coalition, Roger Koopman and Gary “Bazookas for Eight-Year-Olds” Marbut, are well familiar to me.

I suppose by helping crush critical thinking and dissent at the university level, they’ll be able to recruit more idiots into their ranks.




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