Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New poll shows Montana loves Newt

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 6:15 PM

Public Policy Polling released data from a recent poll that shows 37% of Montana Republicans would vote for Newt Gingrich. His next closest rival would be Ron Paul with 12%. He's also polling strongly with both Tea Party voters (42%) and those who identify themselves as party moderates (37%).

While that sinks in, here's some more interesting information from the poll: GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill saw his numbers jumped to 37%, with Ken Miller second at just 10%. Worth noting is that 35% of those polled said they were either undecided or voting for someone else.

PPP called 700 Republican primary voters Nov. 28 - 30, and was not paid to conduct the poll. Full results can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

Oh, and then there's this: I took a polling call from PPP on Nov. 28 and answered about nine minutes worth of questions. I am not a registered Republican and I answered as many questions about Democratic candidates as I did Republican. For instance, I answered questions about Tester v. Rehberg, Steve Bullock v. Hill (and about 46 other iterations of the governor's race), and, interestingly, my opinion on a Brian Schweitzer presidential bid in 2016. I was also asked about my favorite baseball team, but that's beside the point, I think.

I emailed PPP about whether more data was coming and received a prompt response this evening:

Senate numbers tomorrow, Presidential numbers Friday, Governor numbers Monday, and everything else Tuesday.

That means you have to wait until next week to learn how many other Washington Nationals fans are in Big Sky Country.

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Familiar names honored on World AIDS Day

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 5:15 PM

In honor of tomorrow's World AIDS Day, five Montanans will receive Governors Recognition Awards for their efforts in helping their communities respond to HIV/AIDS. Indy readers will be familiar with two of the recipients.

Steven Barrios, from Browning, was featured in Jessica Mayrer's 2009 two spirit feature story. "Two spirit" refers to people of native cultures who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender/transsexual or queer. Barrios, shown here in a portrait by photographer Anne Medley, is known as the grand dame of Montana’s Two Spirit Society. Barrios talks in the story about erasing homophobia on the reservation. “We’re reclaiming our place in the circle,” he says. “Until the two-spirit people are brought back into that circle, that circle is never going to be completely mended.”

Another award recipient is Christa Weathers of the Missoula AIDS Council. Mayrer interviewed Weathers for a 2010 award-winning feature story titled "Running on Empty". The story followed outreach workers fighting to keep HIV and hepatitis C prevention programs from disappearing in Montana.

In addition to Barrios and Weathers, the following individuals will be honored at tomorrow's ceremony in Helena: Jon Freeland of Missoula, Debbie Brown of Billings, and Trisha Gardner of Great Falls.

“These nominees are indicative of the dedicated, hard-working, compassionate Montanans tirelessly striving to make changes in the lives of those who live with the effects of HIV every day,” says Department of Public Health and Human Services Director Anna Whiting Sorrell in a release. “They are key players in the fight to prevent HIV, and to remove the stigma and discrimination that keeps individuals from getting tested for HIV and determining their status. We honor their efforts, and are grateful for the energy and time they expend in service to others.”

The ceremony is tomorrow, Dec. 1, at 1 p.m. in the Capitol Rotunda in Helena.

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The Rockies Today, Nov. 30

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Headwaters News.

USFS proposes plan to protect grizzly bears in Idaho, Montana forests
In response to a nearly decade-old lawsuit, the U.S. Forest Service is proposing a new grizzly bear management policy that could close roads, either permanently or during "active bear season" in the Idaho Panhandle and Kootenai and Lolo national forests in northern Idaho and northwest Montana.
Missoulian and Associated Press; Nov. 30

Elk, bison carcasses in Wyoming park spark familial grizzly bear brawls
Grizzly 399 and Grizzly 610, 399's daughter from 2006 that is now full-grown and raising cubs of her own, thrilled visitors to Grand Teton National Park this summer as they raised this year's cubs by roads in the Wyoming park, but the two bear mothers have been squabbling of late over a bison carcass and elk carcasses left behind by hunters.
Jackson Hole News & Guide; Nov. 30

Montana DEQ, USFS hear from locals on Mike Horse cleanup plan
At a meeting Monday night in Lincoln, 100 or so residents of the Montana town that lies along Highway 200 just west of the Mike Horse mining complex, told officials of the state Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Forest Service that moving mining waste from the mine to the proposed Section 35 would put a dump truck full of waste on Highway 200 about every three minutes, traffic that would make hunters, tourists and other visitors to the town avoid the community.
Helena Independent Record; Nov. 30

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Those jobs are probably not coming back

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 9:30 AM

Politico has now picked apart every interesting angle of the latest attack ad aimed at Sen. Jon Tester. First of all, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce-sponsored ad goes after "John" Tester, a mistake that's made a few headlines in the last week.

Also of note is the ominous image of what's supposed to be an empty Main Street as the narrator says, "...almost 250,000 jobs could be lost, with small business taking the biggest hit." Politico credits "A Montana source" who points out "the town in the photo is of an actual Montana ghost town — and those jobs were lost more than a century ago. The town of Marysville, Montana, featured in the ad, was an old gold rush town that declined at the end of the 19th century."

You can see some screen shots of Marysville's big cameo. The actual video doesn't appear to exist online.

This is the third time an ad attacking Tester has had some sort of slip-up. As Politico sums up:

First there was the National Republican Senatorial Committee commercial that made it look like the Montana Democrat had five fingers.

Then there was the Crossroads GPS spot that a cable company pulled off the air due to a dispute over a charge leveled over Tester's record on regulating farm dust.

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Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2011 at 8:30 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): This would be an excellent week to head down to Pucon, Chile and hire a daredevil to fly you in a helicopter into the caldera of the active Villarrica volcano, whereupon you would bungee-jump out of the copter down to within 700 feet of the molten lava. If that’s too extreme or expensive for your tastes, I urge you to come up a milder adventure that will still bring you a close encounter with primal heat and light—and maybe even some divine fire.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

ESPN to air Griz game, at a price

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 5:20 PM

Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester are taking credit this afternoon for "securing a commitment from ESPN to allow broader TV distribution" of this weekend's Griz game.

The game will be available through ESPN GamePlan for a suggested retail price of $24.60, in addition to its previously announced broadcast on the online-only ESPN3 platform. A ticket to the game costs $26.

The GamePlan deal includes access to all eight Football Championship Subdivision games, including Montana State's. Many local sports bars already carry GamePlan.

“The Cats and the Griz bring such a strong tradition to our communities. I’m thrilled ESPN understands this is the right thing for Montana, and am proud of all the Montanans who came together in support of our Montana teams,” Baucus said in a statement. “ESPN made the right call for Montana, and I appreciate them listening to the thousands of fans who rallied in support of Montana football,” Tester said. “This is a victory that belongs to all Montanans, and it’s a testament to the power of uniting for a common goal.”

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Home sweet (motel room) home

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 4:00 PM

"60 Minutes" aired a powerful segment Sunday night about homeless families in Florida living in cars and, if they're lucky, motel rooms. Titled "Hard Times Generation," and reported by Scott Pelley, (you can watch it in its entirety here) it reminded me of two local stories that covered the same topic.

In July 2010, the Indy's Jessica Mayrer profiled a Missoula mom and her three kids living in a Kia Spectra. After nearly two months in the four-door sedan, the family was put into a local motel room thanks to the YWCA's Gateway program, the only local emergency-housing program that consistently shelters families.

In May of this year, Keila Szpaller at the Missoulian did a longer story that coincided with YWCA Missoula's 100th anniversary. The story started with the details of another homeless mom and her three kids (as well as their three pet turtles), all of whom had just been placed in a local motel room thanks to the YWCA. Szpaller reported that "an estimated 350 other families" had gone through the YWCA's emergency housing program within the last year.

Things haven't really changed since both stories were published. Patty Murphy, program director of Ada's Place, a transitional housing program affiliated with YWCA that specifically helps homeless women and children, says numbers were steady during the last fiscal year. From June 2010 to July 2011, 327 families came to the YWCA Gateway program for some form of support. According to Murphy, 89 families, including 156 kids, took advantage of the program's 50-day motel housing option. Another 179 families used the one-, two-, or three-day emergency motel vouchers.

"We're seeing a lot of families that have never been homeless before, and that's what's really different this year," says Murphy. "It's an embarrassing situation for them just to walk through the door and ask for help. There's a lot of adjustment. They don't know how to manipulate the system, where to go and what to do."

For more information on the Gateway program, visit the YWCA. The Joseph's Residence, run by the Pov, is another option but typically has a long waiting list — it's currently at three-to-nine months, depending on the type of unity needed. Also, Mountain Home Montana serves mothers ages 16—24 and has six bedrooms and five transitional housing apartments.

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The Rockies Today, Nov. 29

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 10:47 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Headwaters News.

Lack of transmission capacity hobbles Wyoming's wind-power industry
Development of Wyoming's world-class wind resources has been hindered by a lack of transmission lines to carry the power generated to markets, but there are several projects — mostly heading west and south out of the state, designed to break that bottleneck.
Casper Star-Tribune; Nov. 29

EPA groundwater probe nixes Wyoming gas lease deal
The Texas company that had planned to buy gas leases, a natural gas gathering system, a gas processing plant and related compression facilities near Pavilion from Alberta-based Encana Corp. backed out of the deal after learning more about the Environmental Protection Agency's investigation into groundwater contamination in that area of Wyoming.
Casper Star-Tribune; Nov. 29

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Lewis and Clark head to court

Posted By on Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 11:20 AM

Few things in Montana elicit more interest and debate than the stewardship of our rivers, and a case headed for the U.S. Supreme Court will decide just who owns the land below those treasured waterways.

In a new piece by Washington Post High Court reporter Robert Barnes, he examines how PPL Montana v. Montana will ultimately be decided by Lewis and Clark.

Here's the gist of it:

PPL Montana v. Montana asks the court to decide who owns the lands below three Montana rivers and pits the state against a company that operates three hydroelectric dams along the waterways. Both sides say the outcome could affect the control of riverbeds throughout the nation, especially in the West.

And both sides claim that the 1805 journals of the great expedition to the Northwest conducted by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark lend credence to their arguments.

The main question deals with the navigability of the rivers at the time Montana became a state in 1889. Montana says they were, and therefore PPL owes the state $53 million in back rent. PPL, of course, disagrees.

Barnes quotes specific passages from Lewis and Clark that support both sides of the argument, and digs into the legal particulars of the precedent-setting case. For instance, 26 states are supporting Montana because, as the state's lawyer writes, a PPL victory would “upset centuries-old expectations and call into question the navigability of rivers not just in Montana but throughout the United States.”

Read the whole story here.

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Extra, extra: In Other News, online

Posted By on Mon, Nov 28, 2011 at 9:00 AM

In this week's installment: how not to deal heroin, a stabbing over Halloween candy, and one judge's indecent penile system.

Curses, Foiled Again
Police in Portland, Ore., found it worth their while to raid a residence for suspected drug activity after they received fliers advertising “Heroin for sale” that listed the dealers’ names and address. Lt. Robert King said officers who searched the home found nearly 20 grams of marijuana, more than 10 grams of heroin, a sawed-off shotgun, thousands of dollars in cash and materials for a methamphetamine lab. They arrested six adults inside the home during the raid. (Portland’s KGW-TV)

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