Monday, May 31, 2010

What's Missoula County think of Imperial Oil?

Posted by on Mon, May 31, 2010 at 5:55 PM

Over the past few weeks, nearly everyone in western Montana—except maybe those with a different ax to grind—has weighed in on Imperial Oil's proposed Kearl Module Transportation Project (KMTP). Some condemn the high-and-wide loads destined for Alberta's tar sands fields, others welcome them with open arms. Even we've panned the deal to some degree.

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One voice we haven't heard too loudly, however, is that of Missoula County Board of Commissioners. Commissioners sent a letter May 12 to Tom Martin, head of the Montana Department of Transportation (MDOT)'s environmental services bureau, outlying the 10 concerns floating at the tops of their heads. Here are a few highlights:

"The environmental assessment lacks adequate analysis of alternate routes. There is very little information provided explaining why no other route is feasible."

"The document fails to portray the true economic impact to local businesses, tourism and employment. Especially lacking are the effects to the transportation and timber products industry that are so important to our economy."

"The Environmental Assessment fails to address impacts to the sewer main running directly under the approach to the weigh station that will stage the modules. The sewer main serves Highway 12 as part of Rural Special Improvement District No. 901. Large boulders in the vicinity restricted the sewer main from being installed at an adequate depth."

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Extra, extra: In Other News, online

Posted by on Mon, May 31, 2010 at 12:35 PM

In this week's installment of odd news happenings: A well-hung TSA agent loses his mind, Camel Orbs (they're not what you think they area) and an unfortunate end to National Bike to Work Day.

Curses, Foiled Again
FBI investigators said Lois J. Harvey, 40, handed a hold-up note to a bank teller in Columbus, Ohio, who informed Harvey she couldn’t read it. While trying to explain the note, Harvey noticed an off-duty police officer in full uniform waiting in line behind her. She grabbed the note and hastily left. Informed by the teller what had happened, the officer went after Harvey, who, when caught, tried to eat the note. When the officer arrested her, she coughed it up.

Authorities identified Joshua Tell Warner, 23, as the man who robbed three Oregon banks after receiving calls pointing out that the suspect was a deckhand on a crab boat who appeared on the television reality show “Deadliest Catch.” Following his arrest at a traffic stop in East Peoria, Ill., Warner pleaded guilty.

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UPDATE: Cobell settlement deadline

Posted by on Mon, May 31, 2010 at 10:45 AM

Elouise Cobell, Browning resident and lead plaintiff in Cobell v. Salazar, issued a statement late Friday granting the U.S. Senate an 18-day extension to approve a $3.4 billion settlement. Cobell cited the U.S. House of Representative's recent passage of the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act—to which the settlement is attached—as a mark of confidence in the Senate's ability to do the same. The settlement is to be paid out to individual American Indians across the country who were impacted by the Department of the Interior's mismanagement of Individual Indian Money accounts over the course of several decades.

"In light of the flood of calls received by plaintiffs’ counsel from class members asking that we ensure finalization of this settlement," Cobell said in her statement, "the parties have agreed to extend the May deadline for enacting legislation authorizing the settlement to June 15, 2010."

This is the fifth deadline the plaintiffs have offered members of Congress, and the Senate's Memorial Day recess lasts until June 7, giving them only days to act. Attorneys with the case have stated that failure by Congress to pass the settlement could result in renewed litigation with the federal government.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Cobell settlement hangs by a thread

Posted by on Fri, May 28, 2010 at 3:45 PM

Congressional dilly-dallying over the $3.4 billion Cobell v. Salazar settlement reached a critical stage Thursday night when Senate Democrats announced they'd be unable to meet a May 28 deadline for approval. The news comes as a major blow to Indian Country, as the settlement has been hailed the largest victory in nearly a century of complaints against the Department of the Interior (DOI).

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, lead by Browning resident Elouise Cobell, had already granted the U.S. Senate three deadline extension for approving the settlement since it was drafted last December. Failure to meet the fourth—today—raises the possibility of renewed litigation between Individual Indian Money account holders and the DOI, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Dennis Gingold, told Indian Country Today. The lawsuit was originally filed in 1996, and came to an end after 14 years largely due to pressure placed on the DOI by President Barack Obama.

Rob Capriccioso of Indian Country Today has a detailed report of last night's Senate announcement here. Seems the major hitch came when legislators attached the agreement to the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010. There was some discussion over rushing the settlement portion of the bill through the Senate before its Memorial Day recess, but to no avail. The settlement itself recently came under attack from several camps, most notably Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who happens to be vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

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Happiest Hour: Stone of Accord

Posted by on Fri, May 28, 2010 at 3:30 PM

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We skipped last week's Happiest Hour blog post, and, judging from the flood of angry letters and the near-riots outside our office, we don't plan on ever letting that happen again. So, without further ado, we get you ready for the holiday weekend with a new installment featuring Stone of Accord.

Claim to fame: The North Reserve relative of popular downtown Irish pub Sean Kelly’s. This place is a bit more restaurant than bar, but still drinker-friendly.

Biggest difference from Sean Kelly’s: The illustrious Chef Dan Zachary. The former Sean Kelly’s chef—co-winner of our 2008 Best of Missoula poll for Best Chef—moved to the new location when it opened in May 2009. Stone of Accord offers the same menu as Sean Kelly’s, but the specials are all Chef Dan’s.

Okay, impress us with a Chef Dan special: The night we were there, the main special was baked tilapia topped with baked crab meat and a pineapple salsa, served with rice pilaf, veggies and soda bread. When the tilapia ran out, Chef Dan featured a 12-ounce chive horseradish Kobe steak.

This is a drinking column, so talk about the bar: You’re ordering Guinness, of course. Will MacKenzie, the sort of affable bartender who knows his customers by name, pours it appropriately slow. Plenty of local brews are also on tap

Happy Hour specials: None.

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Thursday, May 27, 2010

"Their convention fired a blank"

Posted by on Thu, May 27, 2010 at 4:30 PM

Former U.S. Congressman Pat Williams wrote a column about the recent Liberty Convention 2010, and the attendees' preoccupation with guns. It appears here in its entirety:

Those people who attended the Liberty Convention 2010 surely understand that Americans are wallowing in a free society. After all, their definition of freedom seems to be access to guns and we have guns galore: guns under our beds, under our pillows, on the back windows of our pickups. Guns, guns everywhere. Forty-four million Americans own 215 million guns. We have 65 million handguns, seemingly the wearing apparel of the day for more than a few who attended the Liberty Convention a week or so ago in Missoula, Mont.

Their convention fired a blank. At times it seemed there were more speakers than attendees. The convention promoters expected a crown of 5,000, but only 250 showed up in the cavernous Adams Center on the University of Montana campus. The promoter noted that the embarrassing turnout was because they only “had 98 days” to organize the convention. Ninety-eight days? Why one could randomly select a freshman student from the UM campus and that kid could get 250 people to a protest rally in 98 minutes.

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A reason to read San Fran's new online journal

Posted by on Thu, May 27, 2010 at 4:25 PM

This week marks the debut of The Bay Citizen, a San Francisco-based online-only publication edited by NewWest.net founder Jonathan Weber. Weber left the Missoula-based NewWest earlier this year to help launch the project, which hopes to challenge traditional media, like the San Francisco Chronicle.

Meanwhile, SF Weekly offers a few interesting tidbits on the creation of the thing, as well as some "reporting on the reporting."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Watch the BP oil leak in real time

Posted by on Wed, May 26, 2010 at 5:30 PM

George Ochenski's written about the BP oil disaster a few times, and it's obviously dominated the national news. Well, now you can cut straight to the source and watch the leak in real time via a live feed provided by BP.

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The footage is pretty shocking—just massive amounts of gunk shooting into the Gulf. That is, when the feed's working. We found the footage to be sporadic. BP also issued this disclaimer:

Please be aware, this is a live stream and may freeze or be unavailable from time to time.

Throughout the extended top kill procedure — which may take up to two days to complete - very significant changes in the appearance of the flows at the seabed may be expected. These will not provide a reliable indicator of the overall progress, or success or failure, of the top kill operation as a whole. BP will report on the progress of the operation as appropriate and on its outcome when complete.

Battle on the airwaves

Posted by on Wed, May 26, 2010 at 3:30 PM

Things are heating up a bit as candidates get ready for the June 8 primary. Tyler Gernant released his first television campaign ad, which does a marvelous job of circling the congressional hopeful as he cracks wise about his age (and talks about his experience).

Gernant's ad seems a little more appealing than Dennis McDonald's forced I'M A RANCHER spot, in which his horse practically runs over the camera during the opening shot.

In perhaps a more interesting development, the Republican Party sent out a statement about campaign spots pretending to be from the GOP, but actually from something called Main Street Advocacy. We haven't heard the spots, but found the depth of the Republican's statement interesting:

Also, it appears that when some individuals connected with this group were originally trying to form a Political Action Committee under Montana law, they worked with Lorna Kuney as treasurer. Lorna is well-known to many Montana Republicans as a professional bookkeeper who serves as treasurer to some of Montana's most prominent Republicans, like Denny Rehberg and Roy Brown. She is also the assistant treasurer of the Montana Republican Party, under the elected Treasurer Shirley Warehime.

However, that attempt to form a PAC did not materialize, no bank account was ever opened, and later on the individuals in question placed the ads using an out of state group. The Party has determined that Lorna has never participated in these ads. The group paying for them does not employ her.

Party Chairman Will Deschamps investigated the ads, and spoke to Senator Jon Brueggeman of Polson. Senator Brueggeman told Chairman Deschamps that he is involved with the group running the ads, and anyone with questions is welcome to contact him.

We remind the reader that the Montana Republican Party takes no position on any legislative primary, and does not endorse in contested primaries. We hope that by presenting all the information we have gathered, we can put to rest any questions about the MT GOP being associated with Main Street Advocacy.

And the winners are...

Posted by on Wed, May 26, 2010 at 9:30 AM

The Society of Professional Journalists, Region 10, held its awards ceremony on Saturday and the Indy somehow weaseled its way onto the winners' podium. We placed in five categories while going up against some esteemed alt weeklies from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska.

Our winners:

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