On Friday, March 18, the Montana Supreme Court released what the Montana Republican Party has been clamoring for ever since the high court threw out seven double-marked ballots in House District 12: An explanation of the decision that ultimately gave Democrat Jeanne Windham victory over Constitution Party candidate Rick Jore—in the process locking the Montana House of Representatives at 50-50, thus negating a Republican counterbalance to the Democrat-controlled Senate.

A thorough reading of the 6-1 decision reveals a well-reasoned, nonpartisan conclusion, the essence of which is that Montana adheres to objective ballot-counting standards and that Lake County election officials and District Court Judge Kim Christopher originally engaged in too much “guesswork” in assigning the ballots to Jore.

The decision should be seen as proper to any reasonable person who’s actually looked at the double-marked ballots, but the result may leave a sour taste in the mouth of some HD-12 conservatives, who have argued that a majority of local voters cast ballots for one of two conservatives, either Jore or Republican candidate Jack Cross, not Windham, a Democrat. While such frustration is understandable, that’s not the way our system works. If it was, Al Gore would have been inaugurated as the 43rd president of the United States instead of George W. Bush. Come to think of it, maybe we oughtta change that…


Local band Ass-End Offend apparently lived up to its name last Saturday night at Area 5. Missoula police responded to a noise complaint at the art gallery/music venue during Ass-End’s set and then whipped out decibel meters during the soundcheck for headlining act R.A.M.B.O. Area 5 was issued a citation and the scare was enough to cause proprietor Victor Sheely-Morales to end the show early.

“We want to work with our neighbors and we have been working with our neighbors,” says Sheely-Morales, adding that Area 5 has cooperated with the Missoula Police Department and recently soundproofed the walls. “The frustration is that [the most recent complaints are] coming from just one person.”

Area 5 is not shutting down. Events already scheduled that don’t involve live music will proceed as planned. Punk or hardcore shows lined up over the next couple of weeks that may potentially cause problems have been relocated. (Check the calendar listings for specific changes, if available.)

“We’re going to remodel again,” Sheely-Morales says. “We’ll make some more improvements and I expect those to be done by April 13, if not sooner.”

In the meantime, Sheely-Morales pleaded not guilty to the noise citation and hopes to settle the dispute before a May court appearance. Either way, he’s committed to making Area 5 work: “Maybe this will be the spark that lights the fuse of one huge love bomb.”

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