Friday, May 27, 2016

Ryan Payne’s counsel claims it's not getting enough face time with defendant

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2016 at 4:14 PM

A joint status report filed with the U.S. District Court in Oregon this week offers a glimpse into the issues Anaconda’s Ryan Payne is having inside the Multnomah County Inverness Jail in Portland. According to the document, Payne has been experiencing difficulty meeting with his defense counsel face-to-face due to a “keep separate” determination made by jail staff for the co-defendants involved in this year’s occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Apparently this wasn’t an issue prior to Payne’s April trip to Nevada for arraignment in another case stemming from his involvement in the armed April 2014 standoff at Cliven Bundy’s ranch. From the report:

Subsequent to defendants return to Portland, and being processed anew through the Justice Center and Inverness Jail, counsel are denied visitations when a co-defendant is already using a separate room for visitation. This includes both contact visits and non-contact/paper-pass visitation spaces. In other words, even when rooms are available, it limits all visitations to one co-defendant at a time. The first three attempts after Mr. Payne returned from Nevada, counsel for Ryan Payne was unable to meet with him due to “keep separate” co-defendants meeting with their respective counsel, meetings which often last hours.
Ryan Payne, pictured here at his Anaconda home in summer 2014, is currently incarcerated in Oregon pending trial for his alleged role in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation. - CATHRINE L. WALTERS
  • Cathrine L. Walters
  • Ryan Payne, pictured here at his Anaconda home in summer 2014, is currently incarcerated in Oregon pending trial for his alleged role in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation.
Payne’s counsel claims to have raised the issue with the higher-ups at the Inverness Jail but were still “denied a visit” recently until another visitation had concluded, “which took approximately two hours.”

Payne isn’t the only Malheur occupier unsatisfied with some of the conditions of incarceration. In the same joint status report, brothers Ammon and Ryan Bundy issued a host of complaints including monitoring of telephone calls with attorneys by a supervising deputy and inadequate access to the resources needed to “defend themselves in two complex prosecutions.” Ryan Bundy wrote his own account alleging a number of violations of his constitutional rights including freedom of assembly (“I am not allowed to see my brother”), freedom of religion (“I cannot participate in religious activities and temple covenants, and wear religious garments”) and the right to bear arms (“I never waived that right”). Here’s an excerpt:

I could argue that my right to life hasn’t been taken. But the FBI tried to take that right when they attempted to kill me. They missed on that one. I still have the bullet to prove that. And yet I still remain in custody. I am being treated worse than the inmates who have been convicted and are serving sentences.

Ammon and Ryan Bundy have jointly made a request for a list of items related to legal research and their personal needs, including general office supplies, working space in a cell, a computer, a cordless printer and scanner, and accommodations for their religious practice including permissions to wear temple garments and gather with other LDS adherents for blessings. Detention officials acquiesced to only a few of those requests.

An Oregon law firm has established a legal defense fund for Ammon Bundy, and is offering donors pocket Constitutions signed by Bundy.

How an Indy movie review led to a belated New York Times obituary

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2016 at 11:59 AM

Sir! No Sir!
  • Sir! No Sir!
Donald W. Duncan, a former Green Beret master sergeant and high-profile voice against the Vietnam War, died seven years ago.

The New York Times published his obituary earlier this month.

Without a movie review from the Missoula Independent, the Times may not have published the obituary at all. 

Obituaries editor William McDonald explains this odd turn of events in "Times Insider," a behind-the-scenes look at how The Gray Lady does its work. Years ago, McDonald decided Duncan was worthy of an "advance obituary," a common practice wherein a newspaper prepares for the day when someone of note dies. The assignment eventually went to Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Robert McDonald, who found plenty of material about Duncan's service and antiwar exploits. Details about Duncan's early life and later years, however, proved elusive. So McDonald decided to call the subject of the advance obituary directly. (Side note: Imagine that phone call.) 

Turns out, there are hundreds of Donald Duncans across the U.S. That's where the Indy comes in. 
Rolling up his sleeves, Mr. McFadden cold-called each one, but came up empty. So he enlisted help from the Times’s newsroom researchers, sleuths who use a computer screen as a magnifying glass. Doris Burke took on the task.

Ms. Burke soon found an item in The Missoula Independent in Montana concerning a 2005 documentary film about Mr. Duncan titled “Sir! No Sir!” She noticed the name of Jerry Lembcke, a fellow Vietnam veteran, who had been interviewed in the film and who is now an associate professor of sociology at Holy Cross College in Massachusetts. Mr. McFadden called him. Professor Lembcke obligingly gave him a contact number for the film’s director, David Zeiger. Mr. McFadden called Mr. Zeiger, who remembered that Mr. Duncan had been living in Indiana when the film was being made.
The story continues from there, and, even beyond Duncan's seven-years-prior death, it includes some surprising twists and turns that helped convince the Times to still run his obituary. That's an admirable choice and one that readers — including Duncan's two surviving daughters — appreciated, according to McDonald. 

The Indy is happy to have played a small part in the story. If you're curious about our original review, written by Jason Wiener, it's still in our archives. It screened as part of Missoula's Peace & Justice Film Series in 2007. 

(h/t Brad Tyer)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Rockies Today, May 26

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2016 at 11:03 AM

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit  

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Missoulian hires editor from The Seattle Times

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2016 at 4:10 PM

Kathy Best, the top editor at The Seattle Times, will become the Missoulian's new editor, the company announced Wednesday. 

Her hiring fills the vacancy left by Matthew Bunk, who resigned in April while suspended for bringing a handgun into the newsroom. Bunk replaced Sherry Devlin, who filed a lawsuit against the company for wrongful termination, as well as age and gender discrimination. 

Best's first day is June 27, the paper said.

Best has edited The Seattle Times since 2013, during which time the paper won three Pulitzer Prizes. Her career began with Lee Enterprises at its newspaper in Davenport, Iowa. Best later held editing positions at The Baltimore Sun, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer before joining the Times.

In December, Best announced a 6 percent reduction in that newsroom's budget, which led to the exit of 15 staffers through buyouts, the Stranger reported.
The Missoulian has named Seattle Times editor Kathy Best as the newsroom's new editor. - PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER
  • Photo by Chad Harder
  • The Missoulian has named Seattle Times editor Kathy Best as the newsroom's new editor.
In the Missoulian story announcing her hiring, Best said she wanted to return to her "first and deepest love—great community journalism."

Meanwhile, the Puget Sound Business Journal reports Best told the Seattle staff she is leaving the paper because it needs more aggressive leadership to become sustainable in the future.

"That's totally doable, but will require even more meetings and even more time working on business strategies and budgets than I already spend," she reportedly wrote in an internal memo. "That's not how I want to spend the last decade of my career in journalism."

Best has ties to another Lee editor in the state. Her husband, investigative journalist Andrew Schneider, wrote a book with Montana Standard editor David McCumber about asbestos contamination in Libby titled An Air that Kills.

Missoulian staff, who were nearing revolt against Bunk's leadership, quickly expressed enthusiasm about the announcement on Twitter. 

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Emails show city's early support of Merc demolition project

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2016 at 1:03 PM

Days before a developer's plan to tear down the Missoula Mercantile was to be publicly announced, city officials and HomeBase Montana developers were anxiously awaiting the 10 o'clock news. For the past three months, they had been talking about HomeBase's project to replace the dilapidated building with a Marriott hotel, with the city already seemingly signaling its intent to endorse the yet-to-be-submitted demolition application. The audience for the March 3 announcement was sure to be icy, so city communications staff suggested a strategy Andy Holloran could use to warm the crowd by coming across as "more genuine" and a "normal person doing a great project."

But a Facebook post by KPAX news earlier in the day promised a special report about the future of the Merc, and it looked like the cat was about to jump out of the bag. That wouldn’t happen until a few days later, on March 1, when a second KPAX story referenced a Missoula preservation group's warning that "plans are in the works" to demolish the building.

After the broadcast, Ellen Buchanan, director of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, sought to reassure Holloran, pointing out what she saw as the reputation of the preservation group whose leader would soon go on to launch the "Save the Merc" campaign.

"It is a nonprofit group that wants to save virtually everything, even if it is falling down," Buchanan wrote that night. "I don't believe that they have much credibility outside the extreme preservationists."

These are among the details to emerge from dozens of emails between city staff and the Merc's developers since December 2015 that were recently released to the Indy in response to a public records request.

Merc preservation advocates and members of the Historic Preservation Commission have appeared suspicious of Mayor John Engen's early vocal support for HomeBase's project and what they see as an effort by the city to minimize the commission's role. Early in their review, members resolved to request copies of city officials' correspondence, but the volunteer board has yet to follow up after city officials asked for the request in writing. The board's chair, Mike Monsos, is still unsure of its status.

No emails from Engen appear in the documents released to the Indy. However, they show close communication between HomeBase and Development Services in the months leading up to the public announcement.

By Feb. 24, more than a week before HomeBase submitted its application, Development Services Director Mike Haynes had fleshed out a "desired timeline" by which his office would ultimately "ask HPC to concur with issuance" of a demolition permit. "The staff report will describe the history of preservation efforts, HPC's limited purview and the proposed new project (based on your narrative)," he wrote.

Haynes tells the Indy it's common practice for would-be developers to approach city officials to feel out a project before submitting a full application and that he was under no pressure from the mayor's office to endorse HomeBase's proposal. Though he had received a "quite convincing presentation" on HomeBase's plans by the time of the email, Haynes says he never promised his support and adds that the eventual staff report was grounded in fact.

"I definitely could have worded it a bit better," he says of the email. "I certainly didn’t intend to suggest the recommendation was a foregone conclusion."

Click here to view annotated highlights from the released documents.

Review the Indy's earlier coverage of the Merc demolition debate:

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Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2016 at 9:00 AM

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): To convey the best strategy for you to employ in the coming weeks, I have drawn inspiration from a set of instructions composed by aphorist Alex Stein: Scribble, scribble, erase. Scribble, erase, scribble. Scribble, scribble, scribble, scribble. Erase, erase, erase. Scribble, erase. Keep what’s left. In other words, Aries, you have a mandate to be innocently empirical, robustly experimental, and cheerfully improvisational — with the understanding that you must also balance your fun with ruthless editing.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): “One must think like a hero to behave like a merely decent human being,” wrote Taurus memoirist May Sarton. That’s a dauntingly high standard to live up to, but for the foreseeable future it’s important that you try. In the coming weeks, you will need to maintain a heroic level of potency and excellence if you hope to keep your dreams on track and your integrity intact. Luckily, you will have an extraordinary potential to do just that. But you’ll have to work hard to fulfill the potential—as hard as a hero on a quest to find the real Holy Grail in the midst of all the fake Holy Grails.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): “Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now,” said novelist Doris Lessing. “The conditions are always impossible.” I hope you take her advice to heart, Gemini. In my astrological opinion, there is no good excuse for you to postpone your gratification or to procrastinate about moving to the next stage of a big dream. It’s senseless to tell yourself that you will finally get serious as soon as all the circumstances are perfect. Perfection does not and will never exist. The future is now. You’re as ready as you will ever be.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): French painter Henri Matisse didn’t mind being unmoored, befuddled, or in-between. In fact, he regarded these states as being potentially valuable to his creative process. Here’s his testimony: “In art, truth and reality begin when one no longer understands what one is doing or what one knows.” I’m recommending that you try out his attitude, Cancerian. In my astrological opinion, the time has come for you to drum up the inspirations and revelations that become available when you don’t know where the hell you are and what the hell you’re doing.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Proposed experiment: Imagine that all the lovers and would-be lovers you have ever adored are in your presence. Review in detail your memories of the times you felt thrillingly close to them. Fill yourself up with feelings of praise and gratitude for their mysteries. Sing the love songs you love best. Look into a mirror and rehearse your “I only have eyes for you” gaze until it is both luminous and smoldering. Cultivate facial expressions that are full of tender, focused affection. Got all that, Leo? My purpose in urging you to engage in these practices is that it’s the High Sexy Time of year for you. You have a license to be as erotically attractive and wisely intimate as you dare.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): “Consider how hard it is to change yourself and you’ll understand what little chance you have in trying to change others,” wrote editor Jacob M. Braude. Normally I would endorse his poignant counsel, but for the foreseeable future I am predicting that the first half of it won’t fully apply to you. Why? Because you are entering a phase that I regard as unusually favorable for the project of transforming yourself. It may not be easy to do so, but it’ll be easier than it has been in a long time. And I bet you will find the challenge to reimagine, reinvent, and reshape yourself at least as much fun as it is hard work.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Happiest Hour: Rumour

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2016 at 4:26 PM

  • Photo by Derek Brouwer
What it is: A new fine-dining restaurant and bar that opened this month in the former Elbow Room on Stephens.

What the vibe is like: An upscale blend of Western and modern décor. The restaurant has a mix of quiet and open dining areas, including a few tables with couches. On a recent afternoon, the check comes in a cowhide folio made by a man who happens to be sitting at the bar.

What to know: Haven't you heard? Rumour operates with "hospitality included," meaning there's no line on the check for tipping your server. The thinking is explained on an 8.5 x 11 sheet that comes with the menus, complete with a dis at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The gist is that owners, Colleen and John Powers, see tipping regulations as inequitable to cooks and other behind-the-scenes staff. "Not implementing tipping will allow us to compensate our employees more equitably, competitively, and professionally," they say, "and provide clear paths for professional advancement for every role on our team."

Who you know: The Powers are former owners of The Ranch Club off Mullan Road. The couple owned the club, including an 18-hole golf course, restaurant, pool and surrounding development, until 2012.

What to eat: It's hard at first to remember that the prices printed on the menu also include gratuity. The Rumour Burger costs $16 and comes with a side of fries, salad or soup. The burger is topped with fried onions, thick strips of bacon, avocado, cheese and a creamy house sauce—a combination that will leave you talking.

What to drink: The adult beverages menus (there's two) are nearly 20 pages in length. Draft beers are $6, with the exception of a $3 Pabst Blue Ribbon. The most expensive wines on the list cost $650. But hey, the tip’s included.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email

Rockies Today, May 24

Posted By on Tue, May 24, 2016 at 4:22 PM

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit

Monday, May 23, 2016

Rockies Today, May 23

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2016 at 12:03 PM

Mountain West News is a service of the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West — a regional studies and public education program at the University of Montana. The Center’s purpose is to serve as an important and credible resource for people in the state and region in understanding the region’s past, present, and future. For more, visit

The Canadian who got in a domestic dispute with his parrot (and more News of the Weird)

Posted By on Mon, May 23, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Medical Milestone
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced they had recently (a first, they claimed) transmitted high-speed digital data through slabs of pork loin and beef liver. The signal cleared the muscle and gristle so cleanly that it permitted streaming of high-definition video—enough to watch Netflix, said the lead researcher. (Actually, the advance is crucial in that it allows a patient to swallow a transmitter and for physicians to monitor inner workings of the body in real time and externally control implanted devices such as cranial sensors and defibrillators.)

Can’t Possibly Be True

Religious leaders associated with the “quiverfull” ministry announced intentions for a November retreat this year in Wichita, Kansas, at which parents will meet to plan “arranged” Christian marriages for their prepubescent daughters, to maximize the future couples’ childbearing potential—supposedly the No. 1 priority of all females. Quiverfull activist Vaughn Ohlman has written that female fertility is optimal during their teens (actually, just after age 12) and drops off in their 20s. The local district attorney, queried by The Wichita Eagle, said such marriages are legal as long as all parties consent—but Ohlman has maintained that the Bible does not require the bride’s consent if her father has given his.

Apparently, Japanese taste buds easily become bored, for manufacturers seem eager to create extravagant food combinations to satisfy them that might prove daunting to most Americans. The latest exhibit: the familiar Kit Kat chocolate-coated wafer—but with the taste of ripe melon and cheese (specifically, “Hokkaido Melon With Mascarpone Cheese”). As Japanese foodies know, Kit Kats in Japan come in at least 15 coatings, according to a 2013 review by, including Edamame Soybean, Purple Sweet Potato, Hot Japanese Chili, Matcha-Green Tea, Wasabi and Red Bean Sandwich.

The Daily Pakistan newspaper, covering the Anti-Terrorism Court in Karachi in April, reported that a judge in Courtroom III asked a constable if he knew how the grenade entered into evidence worked. Rather than assume that an explanation was requested, the constable pulled the pin to demonstrate, and the resulting explosion injured the constable, a court clerk and another police officer. The constable is said to be facing severe discipline as soon as he recovers.

Latest Religious Messages
Great Britain’s prisoners claiming to be adherents of the ancient Celtic pagan religion are allowed, under rules from the National Offender Management Services, to be excused from jailhouse routines to celebrate four festivals, including (of course) the Festival of the Lactating Sheep. Although “Skyclad,” or naked worship, is forbidden, prisoners can wear the silver pagan ring (to avoid “distress”) and are permitted their own chalices, crystals, “worry beads,” pentagram necklaces, hoodless robes and flexible twig-wands.

An Israeli man (unidentified in press reports) petitioned the Haifa Magistrate’s Court recently for a restraining order against God, pointing out that the Almighty has exhibited (according to a May Times of Israel report) “a seriously negative attitude toward him,” especially over the previous three years. The judge rejected the petition even though God was not present to argue against it (or at least His presence could not be detected).

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