Friday, May 17, 2013

Rockies Today, May 17

Posted By on Fri, May 17, 2013 at 11:01 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

U.S. Interior Department releases new version of hydraulic-fracturing regs
The new proposed federal regulations for hydraulic fracturing were released by the U.S. Interior Department on Thursday, and public comment will be taken for 30 days, but environmental groups already said the new rules, which allow companies to shield some chemicals used in the process from disclosure, are too lax, and the oil and gas industry are already saying the regulations are too onerous.
New York Times; May 17

Wyoming gets a head's up on federal fracking rules
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell called Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead to give him a brief description of federal rules on hydraulic fracturing, rules Mead said are not needed given the state's regulations on the drilling process.
Casper Star-Tribune; May 17

Annual survey in Montana's Bitterroot Valley finds more elk
The annual spring aerial survey of Montana's Bitterroot Valley found 7,373 elk, up from the 6,238 elk counted last year, and the fourth highest number since the survey began 48 years ago.
Ravalli Republic; May 17

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Rockies Today, May 16

Posted By on Thu, May 16, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Montana man arrested, charged with arson in wildfire starts near Helena
Lewis and Clark Sheriff Leo Dutton said a Helena man is in custody and will face multiple counts of arson for a series of wildfire starts near Montana's Capital City, including the 55-acre fire that started Tuesday near the historic McMaster ranch.
Helena Independent Record; May 16

Montana county commission wants to talk water with USFS, DNRC
After learning that Ravalli County's objection to the U.S. Forest Service's attempt to gain in-stream water rights on two streams had been denied by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, the county commission has invited Tom Tidwell, chief of the U.S. Forest Service, and the top officials of the DNRC to come and talk with them about the Forest Service's plan to pursue in-stream water rights on 11 streams in the Bitterroot National Forest.
Ravalli Republic; May 16

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Rockies Today, May 15

Posted By on Wed, May 15, 2013 at 11:01 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.


House panel begins digging into wind-power's pass on eagle deaths
On Tuesday, the House Natural Resources Committee announced it plans to find out why the wind energy industry has seemingly received a pass from the Obama administration for killing hundreds of thousands of birds, including eagles.
Denver Post (AP); May 15

USFWS plan for Idaho wildlife refuge sparks water fight with Canyon County
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working on its management plan for the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge that includes rules for the 9,000-acre Lake Lowell, but on Tuesday, the Canyon County Commission laid out its position that the lake belongs to the irrigators and the state, and the county will not enforce any federal rules on the lake, and will withdraw any aid provided to the refuge should federal agents be brought in to enforce on-water rules.
Idaho Statesman; May 15

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Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, May 15, 2013 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): In the alternate universe created by Marvel comic books, there is a mutant superhero called Squirrel Girl. She has the magic power to summon hordes of cute, furry squirrels. Under her guidance, they swarm all over the bad guy she's battling and disable him with their thousands of tiny chomps and thrashing tails. She and her rodent allies have defeated such arch-villains as Dr. Doom, Deadpool, Baron Mordo, and Ego the Living Planet. Let's make her your role model for the coming weeks, Aries. The cumulative force of many small things will be the key to your victories. As in Squirrel Girl's case, your adversaries' overconfidence may also be a factor.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

BREAKING: Montana Supreme Court reinstates Barry Beach conviction

Posted By on Tue, May 14, 2013 at 5:27 PM

The Montana Supreme Court ruled today in a 4-3 decision to reinstate Barry Beach’s 1984 conviction for murdering 17-year-old Kim Nees on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. Beach was released from prison in December 2011 while the Supreme Court considered his case, and has been living and working in Billings. He is now expected to return to prison to continue serving out his 100-year sentence.

The Independent has been chronicling Beach’s legal struggles and a tenuous freedom that he’s enjoyed this past year and half. When we broke the news to him this afternoon, there was a long silence. “I don’t understand,” he said. “I have to make some phone calls.”

Peter Camiel, Beach’s Seattle-based attorney, said he wasn’t sure how quickly Beach will be returned to prison. “It could be right away,” he said.

Beach has maintained his innocence for decades. He said that police pressured him into providing a false confession in 1983. In Dec. 2011, a Montana district court judge freed Beach after finding that new evidence introduced by his legal team during an evidentiary hearing could alter the verdict if presented to a jury during a new trial.

The Supreme Court in its decision today found that the lower court erred when it ordered Beach free and granted him a new trial. The court opined that “Beach’s new evidence was not reliable.”

Camiel has said that if the Supreme Court reinstated Beach’s conviction, they’d appeal to the federal court system.

The Indy will have more on this story.

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Staffers at Partnership Health Center in Missoula allege harassment, wrongful discharge

Posted By on Tue, May 14, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Since February, six Partnership Health Center staffers have filed lawsuits alleging a range of grievances against the Missoula clinic including harassment, wrongful discharge and that management required employees to perform tasks without pay.

“We consider this to be a serious and pervasive problem in this workplace and felt that we had a responsibility to file these lawsuits,” says Great Falls attorney Elizabeth Best, who represents the plaintiffs in six separate cases.

Partnership provides healthcare and dental services to roughly 10,000 repeat patients each year and more than half of those patients are uninsured. Missoula County helps facilitate Partnership services and is named as a codefendant in all six cases.

Among the most serious complaints against the clinic comes from Partnership dentist Adam Jensen, who alleges in his lawsuit that Executive Director Kim Mansch “has worked to establish and sanction a culture of fear and intimidation” by “screaming at employees, yelling obscenities, calling employees derogatory names.”

Mansch denies that she’s fostered a hostile workplace and declined to comment further about the lawsuits other than to say, “People at Partnership work really, really hard.”

Jensen also claims that the clinic is understaffed. That complaint is echoed by former Partnership receptionist Shawnel Trenary, who says she was required to carry a “crushing workload” and that management threatened her with discipline if she didn’t keep up. According to her lawsuit, “Almost 100 calls were being missed on a daily basis.”

One-time medical records coordinator Lisa Nelson and Partnership dental practice manager Patricia Morgan say in their respective lawsuits that the clinic forced them to work unpaid overtime. Both allege that they were subjected to a hostile work environment. Those complaints mirror ones brought by former Medical Director Alison Forney-Gorman and pharmacist Lorraine Rowe-Conlan, who also allege that they were unlawfully discharged from their positions.

Former Partnership Health Center Medical Director Alison Forney-Gorman in 2009.
  • Chad Harder
  • Former Partnership Health Center Medical Director Alison Forney-Gorman in 2009.

Missoula County Risk Manager Hal Luttschwager says the county hasn’t been served with the five most recent lawsuits, which were all filed May 3. (Rowe-Conlan filed suit February 27.) He adds that none of the claims have been substantiated. “It’s so easy to raise lots of allegations,” he says.

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Rockies Today, May 14

Posted By on Tue, May 14, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

BLM completes series of meetings on Montana Hi-Line management plan
Monday evening's meeting in Great Falls was the last of five the Bureau of Land Management hosted to gather public comment on its proposed management plan for 2.4 million acres of public land along Montana's Hi-Line, with 140 people in total attending the five meetings that addressed sage grouse habitat and energy development.
Great Falls Tribune; May 14

As Ag, Interior secretaries vow to find wildfire funds
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell were the bearers of bad news in Boise on Monday, where they said Bureau of Land Management funds for fuels reduction may have to be diverted to fight wildfires.
Idaho Statesman; May 14

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Rachel Maddow calls out white "nationalist" nonprofit in Flathead

Posted By on Mon, May 13, 2013 at 3:56 PM

Late last week, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow took a deep look at a white supremacist think tank in the Flathead Valley and its ties to the nation's ongoing debate over immigration reform. Her May 9 segment called out a Whitefish-based nonprofit known as the National Policy Institute, a group that bills itself as "an independent research and educational foundation" working for "the people that bears the unique heritage of Europe, Christianity, cultural excellence, and the scientific awakening"—or, more concisely, "White Americans." Maddow tied the group not only to an online white supremacist forum that shares NPI's Whitefish post office box, but to the high-profile conservative Heritage Foundation and a controversial new report criticizing the U.S. Senate's immigration reform bill. The video, posted below, is worth a watch. The Montana portion starts around the two-minute mark.


NPI migrated to Whitefish from Washington, D.C., several years ago, shortly after Richard B. Spencer took over as executive director. But Spencer didn't react to Maddow's scathing expose in the way one might imagine. On the NPI blog, Spencer brushed off the Maddow segment as "'point and sputter' journalism," concluding that "no doubt...many found our message attractive and inspiring."

"NPI has a real chance to become the organization we want and deserve," Spencer wrote. "No more proxies, no more compromises, no more piggy-backing on the so-called 'conservative' movement, which has proven itself, once again, to be a gaggle of weaklings and traitors."

Interesting fact: Back in 2006, the Southern Poverty Law Center named NPI one of the four leaders in the world of "academic racism."

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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Rockies Today, May 13

Posted By on Mon, May 13, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.


Water-rights issue snarls Montana town's project
Last Friday, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation put funding for the Conrad/Brady pipeline project, designed to provide Brady residents until the Pondera County Canal and Reservoir Co. (PCCRC) completes a change of use application for the rights to Conrad's municipal water source, which PCCRC now owns.
Great Falls Tribune; May 13

Two Alberta communities evacuated as high winds drive wildfires closer
Wildfires driven by high winds forced the evacuation of Nordbegg and Lodgepole on Sunday, nearly two years to the day that another Alberta wildfire destroyed the town of Slave Lake.
Edmonton Journal; May 13

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Why you shouldn't gamble at a carnival (and more from In Other News)

Posted By on Mon, May 13, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Curses, Foiled Again
A teller at a Washington, D.C., bank failed to comply with a robber’s demands because she didn’t understand them. The holdup note read simply “100s 50s 20s 10s.” Authorities said the teller handed the note back to the robber, who added “all mona.” Still not comprehending, she told him to leave. Three blocks away, the robber entered a second bank, where the teller was equally confused, until the man announced he wanted “what’s on that,” referring to the note. “Oh my God, are we getting robbed?” the teller said and alerted security, causing the man to flee. Police arrested suspect Maurice Fearwell, 20, a block away. (The Washington Post)

Marius Ionescue, 31, was burglarizing a home in Benesti, Romania, when he heard a noise. Fearing it might be another thief, he hid and called police. Officers showed up, searched the house and found no one but Ionescue, whom they arrested. The noise he heard, police official Mihaela Straub said, “was probably just the family cat.” (UK’s Metro)

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