Monday, April 30, 2012

Indy at 21: The cost of free thinking

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 11:50 AM


As we mentioned recently, the Independent is celebrating its 21st birthday this year and, as part of the festivities, we're re-printing a standout cover from the archives each week. The current print issue features a cover from Feb. 4, 1993, with stories on love without fear, unsafe homes, snowboarding at Snowbowl, and Suzanne Vega. There are two striking illustrations, but something smaller stands out in the upper right corner:

50 cents

Yes, during its early years each issue of the Indy would set you back 50 cents. After roughly two years of paid circulation, the paper briefly suspended publication and relaunched as you now know it — a free alternative weekly, available at hundreds of spots throughout western Montana.

As you continue to walk down memory lane with us, don't forget to run to your calendar and mark this important date:

We're celebrating our 21st with Indy Fest
Saturday, June 9, at Caras Park from 4 to 10 p.m.
Like the current Indy, it's FREE, and will feature music, food, drinks and family-friendly activities.

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The Rockies Today, April 30

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Montana ag families applaud Obama administration's decision on child workers
While child labor groups were dismayed by the Obama administration's decision to back off regulations that limited work children under the age of 18 could do on farms and ranchers, Montana's agricultural families applauded the decision because they said the regulations would have prevented younger family members from working on farms and ranches of aunts, uncles and grandparents.
Great Falls Tribune (AP); April 28

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Extra, extra: In Other News, online

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 9:00 AM

In this week's installment, the Republican Party welcomes pistols to its convention in Tampa this summer, but not water pistols.

Curses, Foiled Again
Investigators identified Thomas McMartin, 56, as the person who planted a motion-activated camera in a women’s locker room at New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute because he inadvertently photographed himself setting up the camera. “We have recovered numerous still photos which do indicate numerous female adults in various stages of undress, and we have recovered digital evidence which implicates the defendant,” Troy police Capt. John Cooney said. (Troy’s The Record)

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Montana beef, Obama and marriage equality: A week of ads

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 3:00 PM

The 2012 campaigns are picking up fast in Montana. This week saw the debut of three new political advertisements. First off, Sen. Jon Tester released his fourth official campaign ad of the season—and a particularly folksy one at that (for ad one, go here; for ads two and three, here). Next, the Karl Rove-backed Super PAC Crossroads GPS launched yet another attack ad tying Tester's voting record to President Barack Obama. And finally, U.S. House hopeful Dave Strohmaier appeared in his own ad officiating a wedding in Caras Park. The ad, titled "If You're A Progressive, Prove It!", firmly stakes out Strohmaier's stance on marriage equality and pulls no punches in baiting Republicans on the issue. A must see.

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Someone just paid $1,275 for a piece of branded wood and Jag's "pawtograph"

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 2:20 PM


I know it's for a fundraiser and all, but can you imagine hanging this in your house or office?

Well, someone can, and bid $1,275 in an eBay auction that ended this morning. The item, presented by the Flathead Democrats, is described as a "one-of-a-kind shadow box" that commemorates when Gov. Brian Schweitzer rejected a number of "bat crap crazy" bills by brandishing a "VETO" branding iron.

Now you can own the actual VETO seared plank on which one bill flamed out.

In a one-of-a-kind shadow box, we’ve included the headline newspaper report of the event, political memorabilia, and Schweitzer’s signature. Even the official state “pawtograph” from Montana’s First Dog Jag!

Gov. Schweitzer will also sign a second newspaper article and add a personalized message for the fortunate high bidder.

Bidding opened at 99 cents on April 17 and quickly jumped into four-figure range. The winning bid was placed a week ago. The winner's identity isn't released by eBay, but they do show a positive auction history.

And thus concludes, we hope, one of the odder Schweitzer-centric weeks of blogging to date.

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The Rockies Today, April 27

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 10:42 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Return of bison to Montana's prairies divides state
Members of the Fort Peck Tribe welcomed the return of bison to their lands in Montana, but ranchers in the area are less than enthusiastic about having the bison relocated from Yellowstone National Park to their region of the state, citing concerns about disease and the tribe's ability to keep them corralled.
New York Times; April 27

Montana FWP: Grizzly bears on the Rocky Mountain Front on the move
An aerial survey for radio-collared grizzly bears conducted last Saturday along Montana's Rocky Mountain Front tracked ten grizzly bears that had emerged from their dens, and nine of the bears were females.
Great Falls Tribune; April 27

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tester gets high praise in ethics review

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 5:00 PM

Former Montana supreme court justice William Leaphart lauded Sen. Jon Tester's ethical standards earlier this month in the third ethics examination of the senator and his staff since 2008. Tester, during his 2006 bid for the senate, said he would have Montana judges continually conduct ethics reviews of his office. The latest review, made available online today, called Tester "unique" in his level of transparency and ethical practice based on in-depth analysis of earmarks, campaign finance reports and political activity.

Leaphart made a point of highlighting the additional ethical restriction in place in Tester's office. While the Senate Rule on gifts allows senators and their employees to accept no more than $99 worth of gifts from a single source in one year, Tester's personalized rules forbid the acceptance of any gifts period. Leaphart states "I was impressed to see that Senator Tester is very meticulous about the gift policy—at one point directing his staff to write a check ($35.95) to be deposited in the U.S. Treasury to reduce the public debt in order to make up for the fact that, without the staff member realizing it, someone else had paid for their salmon entrée ($18.95), a basket of onion rings ($7) and some red wine ($10). Most gifts were valued at less than $25 and were donated. Two gifts were valued at $99.95 and were returned."

The latest poll in the race between Tester and Rep. Denny Rehberg, released by Rasmussen Reports April 3, shows Tester is still trailing Rehberg 44 percent to 47 percent.

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Facing the Storm makes national broadcast premiere

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 3:40 PM

Facing the Storm: Story of the American Bison, a documentary by Missoula director Doug Hawes-Davis, makes its national broadcast premiere tonight on Independent Lens on PBS. The film has been out since October 2010, but tonight's airing, hosted by Mary-Louise Parker, should deliver its largest audience yet.

If you haven't seen it, we recommend tuning in tonight. (KSPS has it airing at 11.)

Here's a sneak peek:

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Hey Obama. About those raids...What's up with that?

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 11:20 AM

This week's Rolling Stone cover story is a Q&A with President Obama, in which he defends the federal crackdown on medical marijuana operations in Montana and elsewhere. Jann S. Wenner asks...


You vowed in 2008, when you were running for election, that you would not "use Justice Department resources to try and circumvent state laws about medical marijuana." Yet we just ran a story that shows your administration is launching more raids on medical pot than the Bush administration did. What's up with that?

Here's what's up: What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana. I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana—and the reason is, because it's against federal law. I can't nullify congressional law. I can't ask the Justice Department to say, "Ignore completely a federal law that's on the books." What I can say is, "Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage." As a consequence, there haven't been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes.

The only tension that's come up—and this gets hyped up a lot—is a murky area where you have large-scale, commercial operations that may supply medical marijuana users, but in some cases may also be supplying recreational users. In that situation, we put the Justice Department in a very difficult place if we're telling them, "This is supposed to be against the law, but we want you to turn the other way." That's not something we're going to do. I do think it's important and useful to have a broader debate about our drug laws. One of the things we've done over the past three years was to make a sensible change when it came to the disparity in sentencing between crack cocaine and powder cocaine. We've had a discussion about how to focus on treatment, taking a public-health approach to drugs and lessening the overwhelming emphasis on criminal laws as a tool to deal with this issue. I think that's an appropriate debate that we should have.

Find the entire interview here.

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The Rockies Today, April 26

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 10:46 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Montana sets slate of May meetings on bison-management plan
The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will hold eight meetings to gather public input on a long-term bison-management plan for the state, with the first held on May 14 in Missoula; May 15 in Kalispell; May 16 in Glasgow; May 17 in Helena; May 21 in Billings; May 22 in Miles City; May 23 in Great Falls; and May 24 in Bozeman.
Helena Independent Record; April 26

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