Speculation that former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer will make a presidential bid in 2016 has officially taken on a life of its own. The latest addition to the rumor mill comes from the recently launched website The Run 2016, which has Schweitzer tied for fifth among the Democrats most likely to confess their White House aspirations. Schweitzer shares his spot at the top of the site's second-tier list with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. Patrick has stated publicly he won't be seeking another gubernatorial term in 2014.
The Run 2016 was established earlier this year by former Politico reporter David Catanese. Catanese spent much of last year covering the top senate races in the country, including the fierce battle in Montana between incumbent Democrat Sen. Jon Tester and Republican challenger Denny Rehberg. He caught flack last August for a tweet apparently defending Missouri Republican Todd Akin's on-air comment about "legitimate rape," and quickly apologized for his "imprecise wording," explaining he never intended to defend Akin's remarks and only sought to "evoke a discussion." Catanese's new web pursuit offers ongoing coverage of a host of suspected presidential candidates, and ranks Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley—in that order—as the top Democrat possibilities for 2016.
Schweitzer has repeatedly denied any interest in running for president, despite an endless string of public polls gauging his potential. He's also refuted claims that he'll challenge Sen. Max Baucus in the 2014 Democratic primary. So far, the only real news from Schweitzer's post-gubernatorial world is his partnership with the New York-based hedge fund Clinton Group and their intent to take over the Stillwater Mining Company.
Study tags precipitation, or lack thereof, to disappearing pika populations
Erik Beever, a U.S. Geological Survey research biologist from Bozeman, Mont., said decades of study now indicate that lack of snowpack or rainfall plays a role in the American pika's survival, as a new study published this week in the journal Ecology found that lack of moisture drove American pika away from otherwise suitable habitat.
Idaho Statesman; March 15
Montana senators introduce bill to let Congress approve KeystoneXL pipeline
On Thursday, Montana U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester introduced legislation that would approve TransCanada's construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, effectively removing approval of the project from the State Department.
Great Falls Tribune; March 15
Groups appeal bison ruling to Montana Supreme Court
On Monday, the Montana Farm Bureau Federation and the Park County Stockgrowers Association filed a notice of appeal to the state Supreme Court of Fergus County District Judge E. Wayne Phillips' decision earlier this year that dismissed a challenge of Montana's decision to allow bison that wander out of Yellowstone National Park to move farther north into the Park County.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle; March 14
Federal lawmakers fold permanent gun protections into appropriations bill
U.S. House and Senate committees have put four gun-related provisions into a bill to fund the federal government through Sept. 30, making permanent provisions that would prohibit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from requiring gun dealers to do annual inventories, from refusing to renew a gun dealer's license based on a lack of transactions, and require the ATF to attach a disclaimer to gun data that says it can't be used to "draw broad conclusions about firearms-related crimes."
New York Times; March 14
These days, he spends the academic year (the "off-season" to fishing guides) teaching creative writing at the Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. After a book tour this spring, he and his family plan on returning to Missoula for the summer (which to at least one creative writing professor is also called "fishing season").
Outside Online's Jonah Ogles recently caught up with Dombrowski to talk fishing, poetry and why they taste good together. Both the interview and the book are worth checking out.
Montana board pegs value of Beartooth Highway to Montana's economy
On Tuesday, the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana released results of its study on the revenue generated by tourists driving across the Beartooth All-American Road to the local economy, with the study finding that tourism provided 176 jobs and generated $13.6 million in spending from nonresident visitors to Red Lodge and Carbon County.
Billings Gazette; March 13
Wyoming board approves Encana's request to inject wastewater into aquifer
Despite a recommendation from the two state geologists on the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission that Encana not be allowed to inject wastewater from oil and gas drilling operations into the Madison aquifer, the board voted Tuesday to allow the company to do so.
Casper Star-Tribune; March 13
Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.
ARIES (March 21-April 19): "If it's stupid and it works, it's not stupid." That could turn out to be a useful mantra for you in the coming week. Being pragmatic should be near the top of your priority list, whereas being judgmental should be at the bottom. Here's another mantra that may serve you well: "Those who take history personally are condemned to repeat it." I hope you invoke that wisdom to help you escape an oppressive part of your past. Do you have room for one more inspirational motto, Aries? Here it is: "I am only as strong as my weakest delusion."
Pinehaven Christian Children’s Ranch in St. Ignatius is again drawing national scrutiny with "Anderson Cooper 360" reporting this week on the Montana Legislature’s refusal to regulate the embattled home for troubled youth.
The March 8 Anderson Cooper segment is a follow-up to three-part series that CNN ran last year, titled “Ungodly Discipline.” The Indy first reported in 2010 on the controversial ranch that aims to rehabilitate kids. Last month, we followed up on efforts by Missoula Democratic Rep. Ellie Hill to persuade the Montana Legislature to require private religious youth homes be licensed by the state.
Dave Bingham worked as a house parent at Pinehaven Christian Children's Ranch in St. Ignatius for five years. He still remembers the sounds that the kids made when they were restrained with what ranch staffers referred to as "pressure pointing."
"That really hurts, just to hear the kids screaming," says Bingham, who worked at the ranch with his wife, Denise. "I watched a 17-year-old boy, tough as nails, but somebody else was getting pressure pointed, and he was screaming he was so afraid of what was coming after him."
House Bill 236 would require private religious youth homes to report to the state how behavior is managed, whether regular communication with family members is allowed and if residents are receiving medication and psychological care.
On Feb. 28, House Judiciary Committee Republicans shot down HB 236 on a 12-8 party-line vote.
In the program that aired March 8, CNN asks House Judiciary Committee Chairman Krayton Kerns about his rationale for voting against Pinehaven being licensed. Kerns tells CNN that he doesn’t think that imposing new regulations would affect how Pinehaven's staff treats youth. "I don't think it would change it, I really don't," he says.
You watch the entire segment below:
Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.
Tribal leaders, conservationists and sportsmen are banding together under the Capitol Rotunda today to oppose a slate of proposals targeting bison conservation that actually survived the transmittal deadline. This isn't your run-of-the-mill legislative rally. Fort Belknap has supplied an entire bison—dead and served up in chili, of course—for a massive bison feed open to the public and legislators alike. The event lasts from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today.
"Bison have been at the center of a debate about whether wildlife can co-exist with Montana’s farms and ranches and what areas may be appropriate for future restoration efforts," Defenders of Wildlife spokesman Jonathan Procter wrote in a release announcing the event last week. "This session, the legislature has introduced 10 bills targeting bison—an attempt by a select few legislators to derail tribal and state-led restoration efforts. While tribes, sportsmen and conservationists have successfully worked together to defeat many of these bills, five bills remain active that would negatively impact current and future bison management and restoration efforts."
Several of the bison bills that failed to make it far this session would have rewritten the entire book on management of the ungulates, including Senate Bill 249, which sought to strengthen the legal right of landowners to shoot bison on sight if they feel private property is at risk. Defenders of Wildlife offered a run-down last week of the proposals that are still alive in the legislature; among them are House Bill 396, which gives county commissioners veto power over bison restoration in their counties, and SB 143, which orders Montana officials to kill any wild bison migrating into Montana from Yellowstone National park.
Procter, whose group played a key role in getting quarantined Yellowstone bison to Fort Peck last year, said today's event will also feature a drum circle and a host of guest speakers including Fort Peck Tribal Councilman Tom Christian. Christian led the welcoming ceremony for the bison last spring alongside then-governor Brian Schweitzer. After today's event in the rotunda, bison conservation proponents will attend committee meetings on two of the still-active bills in an attempt to see them defeated as well.
This post was updated Wednesday morning to correct an error.
Curses, Foiled Again
A woman was kneeling in prayer on the kitchen floor of her Seattle home when she felt someone grab her hair from behind. She later told police she thought it was her husband playing a joke on her, but when she turned around, she saw an unknown man. According to the police report, she yelled out, “Lord help me,” whereupon the intruder fell back, hitting his head on the refrigerator. The man then stumbled out of the house, taking only a $20 bill that had been sitting on the table, and drove off in a white Cadillac. (Seattle’s KOMO-TV)
A woman told police in Des Moines, Iowa, that she returned home one morning to find a strange vehicle in her driveway. She parked behind it and saw a man walk out of her front door. He told her two other men had broken in and that he was driving by, saw them and stopped to investigate. When the homeowner started to call police, however, the man grabbed a crowbar, smashed the window of her car, put it in neutral and rammed it with his pickup truck to push it into the street so he could drive off. Police officers spotted him and gave chase. After he crashed into a utility pole, he fled on foot but didn’t get far, according to police, who reported, “He would have been able to run faster if he wasn’t wearing snow pants.” Officers arrested Martin Thicklen, 49, on multiple charges. (Des Moines Register)
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