For months a handful of law enforcement officers in Lake County have been denying allegations of misconduct. Now they’ll be defending themselves in court.
Five current and former officers in the Lake County Sheriff’s Department filed a lawsuit in federal court today (PDF) alleging that four of their colleagues, including the sheriff and undersheriff, retaliated against them for bringing forward evidence of wrongdoing within the department, ranging from a deputy’s lies about serving as a U.S. Marine to several officers’ involvement in a poaching group known as the “Coyote Club.”
The plaintiffs—Detective Mike Gehl, Detective Steve Kendley, former Deputy Terry Leonard, Deputy Levi Read and Deputy Ben Woods—have been “reprimanded in their employment, have suffered demotions, have been denied promotions, and have been subjected to a hostile work environment by the leadership of the Lake County Sheriff’s Department because of the exercise of their First Amendment constitutional rights as well as the exercise of their duty as Montana Peace Officers,” the lawsuit states.
The plaintiffs claim that the defendants—Sheriff Jay Doyle, Undersheriff Dan Yonkin, and officers Mike Sargeant and Dan Duryee—“have formed and continue to operate an organization of officers the purpose of which is to engage in illegal activities and the covering up of such illegal activities by retaliation against officers who ‘don’t go along’ with this group.”
Top news links, courtesy of Headwaters News.
U.S. Supreme Court puts Montana campaign-finance ruling on hold
On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on a decision by the Montana Supreme Court that upheld the state's constitutional ban on corporate spending in political campaigns, while the high court considers the appeal of the Montana decision.
Wall Street Journal; Feb. 18
Everyone dreams of going into space. Richard Garriott is not at all like everyone else, but he did fulfill a dream to actually go into space.
As part of the Indy's Big Sky Documentary Film Festival coverage, read this review of Man on a Mission, which screens this afternoon at 4 p.m. at the Wilma.
Man on a Mission
As an avid space buff, I'm a little embarrassed I had never heard of Richard Garriott. His story is worth learning in Man on a Mission, if only for the strangely charming character study.
Richard's father was Owen Garriott, an astronaut in the '70s and '80s who spent more than two months aboard early space stations Skylab and Spacelab. Richard dreamed of becoming an astronaut but poor eyesight made it impossible. So instead, he developed video games, creating some of the first fantasy role-playing games, like Akalabeth and Ultima. The games make him rich enough to buy a $30 million ticket into space aboard a Russian rocket and 12 days on the International Space Station. Oh, and he commonly goes by his other name, Lord British, refuses to cut his braided ponytail and lives in a haunted house/museum adorned with various medieval items.
Yeah, that sounds worthy of a documentary.
Despite his many eccentricities, the surprise here is that Richard seems like a genuinely decent and interesting guy, and the proof is that we never sense a hint of resentment from his fellow astronauts and cosmonauts during a year of training and two weeks in space. What's more, his father appears to be legitimately excited for and proud of his son.
- Review by Dave Loos
In this week's installment, a reason to reconsider de-friending someone on Facebook.
Curses, Foiled Again
When police pulled over Walter Upshaw, 32, for failing to come to a complete stop before entering a roadway in Orlando, Fla., Upshaw apologized to Officer Shawn Overfield and explained, “My gun is digging in my hip.” Overfield found the loaded .380-caliber pistol, which Upshaw, as a convicted felon on probation, is prohibited from carrying. (Orlando Sentinel)
There are few better ways to spend your Saturday night than watching an intimate portrait of garage rock icon Jay Reatard.
As if this week's cover story wasn't enough, the Indy will be posting reviews, previews and interviews throughout the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. Here's a look at Better Than Something, a feature-length film directed by Alex Hammond and Ian Markiewicz, screening tonight at 9 p.m. at the Crystal.
You should listen to Jay Reatard. That is the resounding message of Better Than Something, the relentlessly compelling portrait of Jimmy Lee Lindsey, Jr., a musician prolific in both creation and destruction. The Memphis punk rock savant made dozens of records before he died at 29, and his work seemed inseparable from his habit of wrecking stuff. Often the connection was literal, as footage of early live performances indicates. Sometimes it was psychological, as the rest of the film suggests but does not seriously confront.
In their tributes to his artistry, the interview subjects in Better Than Something allude to a series of bad breakups, dissolved bands and alienated bookers. One of the better show videos ends with Lindsey running across the stage and kicking his bass player in the genitals. Lindsey himself admits that he cannot address a bad situation without destroying it entirely, and yet the film glances at this aspect of his life without looking it in the eye. It is a hint of gauze in what is otherwise a bracingly vivid document of a young talent who enjoyed the virtues of his faults. Everything Lindsey did seemed a little more real—his biopic just less so.
- Review by Dan Brooks
As if this week's cover story wasn't enough, the Indy will be posting reviews, previews and interviews throughout the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. First up: American Juggalo, a 23-minute film directed by Sean Dunne, playing Saturday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m., at the Crystal Theatre.
The series of Insane Clown Posse fans interviewed in American Juggalo have two things in common. They all cite unconditional acceptance as the thing they like best about being a Juggalo and, two, they all seem to suffer some sort of cognitive disability. To watch a pregnant woman smoke while the shirtless twentysomethings around her chant “family! family!” is to confront a fundamental human dilemma. People should do things that make them happy and increase camaraderie with their fellow people. Also, some people are hilariously awful and dumb.
The genius of American Juggalo is that it does not attempt to reconcile these two fundamental truths. It simply records them, in a series of minimally edited medium shots of weirdos explaining why they came to the Gathering of the Juggalos. They range from a young woman with obvious fetal alcohol syndrome rhapsodizing about Violent J to a kid who wants to be a doctor because what he really likes is helping people. Undeniably, these people are funny; they wear clown makeup, for chrissake. They are also amiable, proud, self-conscious, awkward, self-aggrandizing, often medically stupid—in other words, human and recognizably so, in a way that makes for gripping cinema.
- Review by Dan Brooks
It's that time of week again, where we tell you about our favorite watering holes and drinks. This time, we introduce you to an old familiar bar that's had a recent change of tune, so to speak.
Claim to fame: The VFW has long been the place for veterans of war to pull up a stool and drink a cold one. And its collection of historical guns and medals give it character. Now that the bar has opened its doors to live music—especially on Thursday night—there’s a whole new post-10 p.m. vibe.
Who you’re listening to: The free shows of mostly local musicians have been a big hit. The bar’s residency program allows one band to take over the venue each month, playing every Thursday night. They get to hone their sound with the help of soundman Joey Connell (of Hi-Tech Audio) each week, and select fellow bands—an eclectic combo of honky-tonk, metal, punk and experimental—to fill out the line-up. Bands play in the back room to a small crowd, while those patrons who want to chat without being blasted by the music can sit in the front room.
What you’re drinking: For the Thursday and weekend night crowd it’s all about $1.50 16 oz. cans of Miller High Life and Olympia (on a recent Thursday night show-goers cleaned out 30 cases of Oly). Also high profile: the “Man Can”—a 32 oz. (that’s a quart!) of beer for $3, for those who really just want two beers in one. For the record, on a recent Thursday plenty of ladies were seen hoisting the “Man Can.”
Who you’re drinking with: The bar’s happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. is a hit for the day crowd, which consists of Vietnam veterans and a small group of regulars drinking 50-cent-off drafts and well drinks. Between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. it’s quiet time—perfect for a game of pool—but after that you’re drinking with a sizable crowd of college kids, plus connoisseurs of rock ’n’ roll, some of whom have been enmeshed in the local music scene for a few decades.
Who’s pouring: On a recent Thursday night bartender Odessa Joseph pours for a two-deep crowd of thirsty show-goers. Joseph says she loves her day crowd, but she fits right in with the rock crowd, too, enthusiastically telling stories of seeing White Zombie and The Ramones back in the early 1990s. The bar used to close around 11 p.m. on dead Thursday nights. Now the madness goes until 2 a.m. “It’s working out awesomely,” she says. “I love it.”
How to find it: 245 W. Main next to Biga Pizza.
Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top news links, courtesy of Headwaters News.
EPA approves equine birth control drug developed by Montana nonprofit
The Science and Conservation Center, a nonprofit research laboratory in Montana, produced ZonaStat-H, the first contraceptive vaccine approved by the Environmental Protection Agency to be used to control reproduction rates of wild horses.
Billings Gazette; Feb. 17
When it comes to the 2012 Senate race between incumbent Sen. Jon Tester and his challenger, Congressman Denny Rehberg, there's been a lot of talk about where the campaign money is coming from. This week the Indy takes a look at where much of that money is going. Broadcast advertising remains a powerful medium in political campaigns, and with millions of dollars pouring into this race, a big year for television and radio is in the offing.
We caught up with both campaigns for a little extra intel on how large a role broadcast outlets will play in the coming months. It's clear both candidates intend to dominate the airwaves. Rehberg's campaign manager, Erik Iverson, says it's a good rule of thumb for a candidate to spend 80 to 85 percent of his or her campaign funds on voter outreach. "And the primary part of that is going to be television. That’s still the big mover in terms of reaching a large audience and being able to deliver a message that can shape voters’ perceptions and inform voters.”
Aaron Murphy, communications director for Tester's campaign, echoes that rule of thumb. Broadcast advertising will be a significant component in this race, Murphy says, and the Tester campaign will be spending "what we need to spend how and when we need to spend it." This promises to be an historic race for Montana. Tester has already been the target of third party attack ads, increasing his need to counter those messages early on. "Television is an effective way to set Jon's record straight," Murphy says. "To make sure voters know who he is and what he stands for."
Tester's campaign coffers are brimming at $6.2 million. Rehberg has raised roughly $2.6 million. And neither candidate plans to have much cash left after election day. "The last thing you want to do," Iverson says, "is wake up the day after the election realizing you've lost by a few thousand votes and you have a million dollars in the bank."
Pat Williams served nine terms as a U.S. representative from Montana. After his retirement, he returned to Montana and taught at the University of Montana. He occasionally writes op-ed columns, and recently submitted this one on the lack of humor in this year's presidential race.
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