Ready to get rolling into the weekend? Here's another installment of our Happiest Hour column—which we post every Friday afternoon to get you thinking about your great escape.
This week: The VFW Club
California's huge health insurance rate hikes may be hogging the headlines, but rates here in Montana are rising in some cases by just as much.
As we report this week, the state auditor's office has seen a surge this year in the number of Montanans complaining about big increases in their health insurance rates.
Just watch this video.
And know this: Local rock band Secret Powers plays sugar-filled pop that echoes The Beatles and The Beach Boys with unabashed enthusiasm. The members' style evokes a 1960s flower power cult. The lively group plays tonight at the Palace (with Volumen and Airstream Safari) at 9 PM. $5.
Walzer pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges during an initial appearance in Missoula Municipal Court Wednesday. When reached at home Thursday, the Ward 2 councilwoman told the Independent that she did comply with a breath test and is asking the results be made public. (A call to Walzer's lawyer, Lance P. Jasper, has yet to be returned.) She won’t immediately comment further, but will issue a statement within the next several days.
“They’ve advised me to stay mum for a little while,” she said. “On Monday, at the latest, you’ll hear what I have to say about it."
Perhaps it's not surprising to hear David Allen, RMEF president and CEO, speak out against a ballot initiative to ban trapping on public lands — but his reasons why caught our interest. In particular, we perked up when Allen called it "a backdoor anti-hunting measure backed by out-of-state financiers trying to change Montana values and lifestyles."
First off, calling I-160 an "anti-hunting" measure seems disingenuous and cheaply political. (Anything anti-hunting ain't gonna fly in Montana. Anti-trapping doesn't have the same general appeal.) Plus, Footloose Montana, the local and very vocal anti-trapping group behind I-160, has smartly put hunters front and center in its campaign for the initiative to make clear the distinction. From a recent release:
Dr. Tim Provow, a Footloose Montana board member, hunter, and member of the National Rifle Association, said that most trapping on public lands conflicts with hunting ethics. “The first rule of hunting is to ‘Be Sure of Your Target!,’” Provow said. “Trapping violates this rule by its indiscriminate killing of many species, including endangered, threatened and sensitive species, such as Canada lynx and American bald eagle,” he said.
Second, who are the out-of-state financiers Allen refers to? We left a message asking for clarification from RMEF and haven't heard back. That call, interestingly, was placed to the point of contact on the release: Steve Wagner of Blue Heron Communications ... in Norman, Oklahoma.
Then we called a Footloose Montana board member for comment. That call went to Connie Poten, who lives about five minutes away in the Rattlesnake.
"I think they're trying to imply we're getting huge amounts of money from PETA," says Poten, "but that's not true. We're not heavily funded by anybody. We're operating on a shoestring. The bulk of our money comes from small donations from people around the state."
Poten also took exception to Allen blurring the line between the initiative and hunting.
"We're not anti-hunting," she says. "We have hunters on our board and have support from many hunters. We're anti-trapping on public lands."
Lastly, Poten pointed out another issue with the RMEF release. It mentions the organization's "general opposition to policymaking via the initiative process," but Poten says RMEF was instrumental in helping to pass the state's Game Farm Initiative in 2000. A High Country News piece by Hal Herring (no direct link available, but it does appear here) explained how RMEF's backing swung the vote. To be fair, RMEF's support was unusual. But an organization spokesman also told Herring RMEF isn't in the practice of telling its members how to vote, which is what it sounds like Allen is trying to do now.
It's fine if you're against I-160. It's a controversial issue and trapping has a long history in the state. But at least be honest about your reasons for attacking it.
RMEF's full release appears here:
Nothing goes down as smooth on a Wednesday as a good old local beer blog, but I nearly coughed up a mouthful of coffee on my keyboard while reading Missoula-based malt-head Alan's lastest post on Growler Fills this morning. A Celtic festival in Caras Park this July? Sponsored by Highlander's Missoula Brewing Company? Sounds too good to be true, and maybe it is. No answer yet from Great Northern Brewing, where Highlander is produced. But the potential for haggis, ceilidh dances and a stiff Scottish Ale has my mouth watering a little earlier in the day than it should. Hopefully they find room for the traditional caber toss.
Montana NORML has announced a haiku contest (or is it high-ku?), and the winner will receive $100.
Here, Williams takes a sweet look back at Mark Twain's connection to Montana, and a trio of anniversaries that occur this month.
Williams' full column below:
Find Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology online, every Tuesday, two days before it hits the Indy's printed pages.
ARIES (March 21-April 19): “Everything is complicated,” wrote poet Wallace Stevens. “If that were not so, life and poetry and everything else would be a bore.” I hope you will choose his wisdom to serve as your guiding light in the coming weeks. It is high time, in my astrological opinion, for you to shed any resentment you might feel for the fact that life is a crazy tangle of mystifying and interesting stories. Celebrate it, Aries! Revel in it. Fall down on your knees and give holy thanks for it. And by the way, here's a big secret: To the extent that you do glory in the complications, the complications will enlighten you, amuse you, and enrich you.
Check this week's installment to learn more about fingerprint scanners in a Polish church and British police officers sledding on riot shields.
Curses, Foiled Again
After recognizing themselves in a surveillance video on TV, two women went to the police station in DeLand, Fla., and, according to sheriff’s official Brandon Haught, “wanted to know what is going on.” Investigators stepped in and determined from the video that the women were at a beauty store when it was robbed and one of them, Myesha Williams, 20, committed the robbery.
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