Showing posts with label Montana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Montana. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bozeman High School to drop national lunch program

The Bozeman School Board has voted to discontinue the National School Lunch Program at the high school after deeming the nutrition rules too strict.
The 5-3 vote this past week came after the school’s food program lost $35,000 last year and officials predicted that losses would deepen as federal food rules tighten in the next few years.
While the high school will drop out of the program, the school Board trustees adopted Superintendent Rob Watson’s recommendation that Bozeman’s elementary and middle schools stay in the program.
The Bozeman Chronicle reports that the decision to drop out will mean losing a $117,000 federal subsidy. But officials say it will give the school more flexibility in local food offerings while still maintaining healthy menus.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Montana Justice Of The Peace Reads Riot Act To City Commissioners That Want Confederate Memorial Rededicated, Compares Arabic Writing In Civic Center To Writing On ISIS Flag…

Lewis & Clark County Justice of the Peace Mike Swingley weighed in last week on the future of Helena's Confederate Memorial Fountain, urging the two city commissioners who are pushing for rededication of the monument to "start focusing on your real job."
"Shame on you both," Swingley wrote in an email last week to Commissioners Katherine Haque-Hausrath and Andres Haladay.
He suggested that a logical extension of the move to rededicate or otherwise alter the fountain would be to also remove other potentially offensive items.
"If you want to cleanse Helena of of the items that offend the sensitive, I request that you remove the Arabic writing from inside the Civic Center," he wrote. "It reminds me of the Arabic writing on the flag of ISIS and as 99.9% of the terrorist (sic) in the world have turned out to be Islamic fundamentalist and Arab speaking, it offends me that Helena would allow such a symbol."
Reached Monday by telephone, Swingley said he had received numerous notes of support since his email was described on the Montana Cowgirl blog. He said the words had been taken out of context.
Haque-Hausrath says the comments are troubling even in context, and judges need to avoid even an appearance of bias.
"Judge Swingley's statements are deeply troubling because they exhibit such a clear bias toward Arabic and Muslim people that there is no way anyone who might even appear to be Arabic or Muslim could be confident about getting a fair trial in his courtroom," she wrote in an email to MTN News.
While Swingley may have been trying to make an absurd example of over-reaction to offensive materials, Haque-Hausrath says there's reason to believe he was serious in what he said about Arabs and Muslims.
"Even if Judge Swingley does not actually want to remove the Arabic writing from the Civic Center, he exhibited clear bias toward Arabic and Muslim people when he said that (he) considers them to be synonymous with terrorism," she wrote. "Regardless of whether Judge Swingley was trying to tell a joke, or he was under a lot of stress, or had a hard childhood, it is completely unacceptable for a sitting judge to espouse racist views in an official public record."
Swingley said any suggestion he's a racist is ridiculous and that he's always treated all people fairly in his court. He said that when he was a Montana Highway Patrol trooper based in Hardin for three years, he got along very well with the people of the Crow Indian Nation.
"I have a very diverse background working with native Americans and that blood runs through my veins," Swingley wrote in an email to Haladay. "I will always stand up for others, race is not a factor in my thinking, ever. Common sense is."
The low-key Confederate Monument, off Park Avenue in Hill Park, was given to the city by the Daughters of the Confederacy in 1916, in tribute to Confederate soldiers.
Haque-Hausrath likens the monument the to the Confederate flag and said it was installed as part of a nationwide propaganda effort to improve the reputation of the Confederacy. Swingley disagrees.
"Finally, I suggest you both learn more about the town you live in and the history of it," Swingley wrote in the email. "The truth is, Helena is a great place to live, with virtually no racism, and despite a beginning that was heavily influenced by confederates, old Helena had more than 2000 ex slaves who moved here, lived and worked successfully. That fountain is a symbol of success and a town that shaped itself as a melting pot of all, ex confederates and ex-union, plus Chinese, native Americans, ex-slaves and many more, including foreign nationals of Ireland, Germany, etc.,"
Swingley also said he the commission should focus instead on mental health issues, methamphetamine, sidewalks, streets, water lines, and police and fire resources.
"Your efforts are misguided," he wrote. "There is no issue with Helena Montana with race wars, no Nazi White fundamentalist, no problems that raise issue with this ridiculous idea. It is an attempt at getting in the spotlight with an idea to show how sensitive the commission is to the issues. I do not believe the commission has the power or position to be the political, ethical and moral think take of Helena. I suggest you start focusing on your real job."
Haladay responded to Swingley, discussing his about city issues one by one but not directly addressing Swingley's comments about Muslims or the Confederacy.
In his original email and again in his reply to Haladay, Swingley lamented the loss of Helena's historic character.
"I watched as a child while the Marlowe Theater was destroyed (and) the downtown area changed forever during urban renewal," he wrote to Haladay. "Few truly historic items remain in Helena that have not been destroyed, moved, changed or rewritten."
He also repeated his call for improvements in tackling the problems of mental illness and methamphetamine.
"As you are fully aware, the mental illness is not only uncontrolled, but intimately connected to the drug and alcohol issues er face," he wrote. "It is time to rethink and retool our approach."
The City Commission last week charged the City-County Heritage Tourism Council to come up with a proposal for a rededication and possible new signage for the fountain. It could be a few months before that seven-person council makes its recommendation.
Swingley's full email is below:
I have to say, I have been disappointed by the City Commission in the past. I spent my entire life in Helena and watched as the commission and Urban Renewal committee tore down buildings and reshaped Helena forever. Much of our history was lost in that debacle and Helena has never been the same.
Keep in mind that slavery was only one issue that caused the Civil War. The largest portion was economic based war as the southern states wanted to separate and begin printing their own currency, and detach from the banks of the United States.
Today I read of the Commission's issue with the fountain in Hill Park and I am, once again frustrated on many points. First, Dylan Roof was a mentally ill man who committed a heinous act in South Carolina and had obviously aligned his beliefs with the confederate flag and the race issues in the south. The key here is mental illness. The knee jerk reaction to this by the commission is unacceptable and misguided. If you want to tackle the issue at hand, start dealing with the rampant mental illness issues in Helena and the lack of resources to deal with them.
Further, Helena has a multitude of issues that the commission is not talking about. Streets are in disrepair, water lines breaking, Fire and Law Enforcement are in need of more resources, and a recent article focused on the lack of funds for basic maintenance issues in Helena. My own children have to walk in the street to school because there are no sidewalks on Hauser Blvd where we live and the City has allowed the residents to landscape the city right of way to the point that you can't even walk unless you are on the street. The meth issue is absolutely killing Helena. I have never heard the Commission even speaking the words "meth" or "mental Illness". Fix these things first before your non-issue.
Second, the fountain in Hill Park is a memorial placed by the daughters of the confederacy, in honor of their fathers. It is not possible to separate the history of Helena from the ex-confederate soldiers and their influence here. Helena was discovered by four individuals, at least two of whom were ex-confederates.
The four Georgians, D.J. Miller, Reginald Stanley, John Cowan and John Crabb, started the gold digs here and subsequently the town. Half or more of the miners were from the southern states. White's City, a ghost town east of Helena is located in Confederate Gulch. The fact is that
Helena was heavily influenced and started by them. If you want to cleanse Helena of all Confederate influence, you will need to rename several schools in Helena, including Four Georgians Elementary, several streets, tear down the Montana Club which was started by the wealthy ex-confederate gold miners and had black servants working there, and much more.
Your efforts are misguided. There is no issue in Helena Montana with race wars, no Nazi White fundamentalist, no problems that raise issue to this ridiculous idea. It is an attempt at getting in the spotlight with an idea to show how sensitive the commission is to the issues. I do not believe the commission has the power or position to be the political, ethical and moral think tank of Helena. I suggest you start focusing on your real job.
Third, if you want to cleanse Helena of the items that offend the sensitive, I request that you remove the Arabic writing from inside the Civic Center. It reminds me of the Arabic writing on the flag of ISIS and as 99.9% of the terrorist in the world have turned out to be Islamic fundamentalist and Arabic speaking, it offends me that Helena would allow such a symbol. I realize that the history of the Civic Center was that of a Masonic/Shriner's temple, that aligned themselves with the far east and had a large Arabic influenced theme.
But if we are going to rewrite and ignore the facts of history, we need to be fair and remove that symbolism as that conflict is still active and Christians like me are being killed daily by Arabic speaking fundamentalist who show those characters on their flag.
Finally, I suggest you both learn more about the town you live in and the history of it. The truth is, Helena is a great place to live, with virtually no racism, and despite a beginning that was heavily influenced by confederates, old Helena had more than 2000 ex slaves who moved here, lived and worked successfully.
That fountain is a symbol of success and a town that shaped itself as a melting pot of all, ex confederates and ex-union, plus Chinese, native Americans, ex-slaves and many more, including foreign nationals of Ireland, Germany, etc.
Shame on you both. And before you accuse me of being pro-confederate, I will inform you that my ancestors ALL served with the North in the Civil War and two of my ancestors served in Anderson Ville Prison. My family came to Montana in covered wagons and I have spent my entire adult life as a trooper and now judge defending and protecting all, regardless of their race, religion, political affiliation, etc.....

Friday, July 3, 2015

MONTANA: Gazette opinion: Take responsibility for terrible state budget

The State of Montana's finances aren't as rosy as we once imagined, and the same people who may have contributed to the mess may be the ones ultimately charged with cleaning it up.
Last week, the Legislative Audit Division told lawmakers that problems, misstatements and omissions are so common (more than 100 that have been discovered) in the state's finances that it could jeopardize Montana's bond ratings. 
This wasn't just a single accidental oversight. Instead, the problems are deep -- 125 errors and lack of internal controls. Sadly, those controls, had they been in place, according to the audit division, could have caught these problems earlier. In other words, there weren't even controls in place to catch problems.
Though Montana Budget Director Dan Villa might have you believe some of these were nothing more than just goofy spreadsheet errors, the truth is more sobering. There is approximately $1 billion overstated accumulated depreciation, and $62 million in bonds were omitted altogether, said Tori Hunthausen of the Legislative Audit Division. 

Let's pause. $62 million of bonds don't even show up on the books?
One billion dollars overstated? That's billion with a b. 
These don't just appear to be simple rounding errors. The amounts aren't insignificant. 
The question is: How do they simply disappear? How do those mistakes happen?
That's what remains unclear. 
It's obvious that the state (eventually) caught it, thanks to the Legislative Audit Division. What's a bit more troubling is that Villa and Department of Administration director Sheila Hogan had to put a team in place with a new accountant. 
The errors and omissions seems like basic accounting, but don't take our word for it.
Villa also told the committee that in a few cases zeroes had been left off figures.
Yikes. What kind of accountants are working for the state?
What still remains to be seen is what how will changes be implemented and how can we be certain this recent history won't repeat itself? How are the Montana leaders today ensuring that future leaders won't have to worry about the same problem?
It may seem like this is just a problem on paper. You know, change a few numbers on a spreadsheet and --viola!-- things get better. 
But, if bond ratings get lowered, it means that Montana, normally lauded for its tight fiscal management, may have to suffer higher interest rates when we borrow money. In other words, our dollars won't buy as much and not as much may get done. We'll pay more and get less.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

20,000 Montanans' health insurance 'discontinued' by 'Obamacare'

HELENA – In Montana, as many as 20,000 holders of individual health insurance are getting or will get letters from insurers saying their current policy doesn’t comply with "Obamacare" regulations, and is being “discontinued.“
But insurers say the letter is not a cancellation, and that they’re instructing those policyholders how to get comparable coverage, which may or may not cost more.
“It’s important to note that we are not dropping members from their coverage,” said John Doran, director of strategic marketing services for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana. “Our goal is to provide customers with as many options as possible.”
The letters, which are being sent by insurers not only in Montana, but also across the country, have sparked a national outcry from critics of the Affordable Care Act.
They say the letters contradict President Barack Obama’s earlier promise that the ACA, also known as Obamacare, would allow people to keep their current health coverage, if they wanted to.
“We told you Obama’s ‘If you like your health insurance, you can keep it’ promise was false,” Montana Republican Party Chairman Will Deschamps said Wednesday. “We told you Montanans would lose their insurance coverage.”
Under the ACA, virtually all health insurance policies must offer a set of “essential benefits,” starting next year.
Most current policies don’t meet these requirements, so insurers are discontinuing those policies and offering new, ACA-compliant policies for 2014. For some customers, the new policies will be more expensive because they have more generous coverage.
For example, the ACA prohibits policies with extremely high deductibles or high out-of-pocket costs. If a customer has to buy a plan with a lower deductible or lower out-of-pocket costs, the premium likely will be higher.

Montana Democrats: We Demand to See the Birth Certificate!

Remember when this sort of thing was ipso facto evidence that someone was a lunatic, a conspiracy theorist, a hate-monger, and unfit for public discourse?
The Montana Democratic Party today called on Congressman Steve Daines, who claims in his latest TV ad to be a “fifth-generation Montanan,” to clear up confusion about his roots by releasing his birth certificate.
Daines’ latest ad asserts he “grew up in Bozeman, a fifth-generation Montanan,” which directly contradicts earlier versions of his biography when he claimed: “I’m a third-generation Montanan, kind of that classic Montana kid.”
So the dispute is really whether Daines’s great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were Montanans, huh? Really? Does Daines need to dig up their birth certificates, too? Do we need to dig deep into his profile to get to the bottom of this?

Democrats insist Daines isn’t really a Montanan, because he was born in California and lived there . . . until he was two.

Everything in Montana’s going so hunky-dory that you guys have nothing else to worry about, huh? Anything else going on in that state?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bohlinger: Harry Reid told me not to run for U.S. Senate

HELENA - Former Montana Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) told him not to run for the U.S. Senate next year, saying he didn't want to see a Democratic primary in the race for the seat being vacated by Max Baucus (D-MT).
Bohlinger, now a Democrat after previously holding state office as a Republican, said that on November 6th, the day after he announced his candidacy, he received a phone call from Reid, saying current Lt. Gov. John Walsh was his choice for the ticket.
"And he said, you know, ‘John, you know, you're a nice guy, but we've chosen Walsh. We'd like you to drop out. We don't want to have a primary,'" Bohlinger said. "And I said, ‘Senator, we're going to have a primary in Montana. And it will be the people of Montana that choose the next Democratic Senatorial candidate.'"
Bohlinger said the pair visited on the phone for about 10 or 15 minutes. In the end, Reid wished him good luck and said to call him if he needed any help.
Reid's office did not respond to a request for comment on the matter Monday.
Bohlinger criticized similar such meddling involvement in the primary by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has voiced support for Walsh and has the ability to connect candidates with campaign funds.
He said former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer-the Democrat with whom Bohlinger served in the statehouse as Republican lieutenant governor from 2005 until this year-told him his first call should be to Guy Cecil, executive director of the DSCC, to see if there was support for his candidacy.
But the DSCC said it had already decided to support Walsh, according to Bohlinger.
"And I said, "It's inappropriate for the DSCC to involve themselves in primaries," Bohlinger said. "It's the people of the state of Montana who will choose the next Democratic Senatorial candidate, not the political insiders in Washington, D.C. I'm really surprised that they would do something like that."

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Montana: Blue Cross raising rates for thousands

HELENA — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, the state’s largest private health insurer, told thousands of customers this week it is raising premiums 3.5 percent in January because of “Obamacare” fees and taxes.
The notice, dated Thursday, went to nearly 3,000 holders of group policies, which insure tens of thousands of Montanans. Blue Cross said it didn’t have an exact count of how many people are covered by the affected plans.
Some of those policyholder signed year-long contracts earlier this year and are getting a mid-year increase, which Montana law generally forbids.
But the law has an exception that says an insurer can increase premiums in the middle of a contract year if costs are affected by a change in state or federal law.
Blue Cross linked the increase to fees taking effect Jan. 1 — although insurers have known for some time about the charges.
“We are following the law,” said John Doran, director of strategic marketing services for Blue Cross Montana. “We made that decision feeling it was in the best interest of our members. … We waited until the last available minute to assess these fees.”
Other major health insurers in Montana aren’t invoking the law, saying they already built any costs from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — also known as Obamacare — into their current premiums.
“We’re honoring our current rates,” said Todd Lovshin of PacificSource, which insures about 19,000 people in Montana. “We’ve known about the (fees) for a long time and we knew they were going to be collected.”
The Blue Cross notice referenced two ACA charges effective Jan. 1: A flat-rate federal tax on all health insurers, to raise $8 billion nationwide to help pay costs of the overall act, and an annual “reinsurance fee” of $63 per person insured.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

California Enacts Law Allowing Nurses to Perform Some Abortions

California's Democratic governor signed a law on Wednesday that will allow nurses and midwives to perform some abortions, a move aimed at increasing access to the procedure even as other states are tightening the rules.

Under the law, the most populous U.S. state would allow nurse-practitioners, nurse-midwives and physician assistants to perform a procedure known as aspiration, which uses suction to dislodge an embryo from the uterine wall during the first few weeks of pregnancy.

Four other states - Oregon, Montana, Vermont and New Hampshire - already allow non-physicians to perform early stage abortions, but California is the first to codify the practice into law.

"Timely access to reproductive health services is critical to women's health," the bill's author, California state Assemblywoman Toni Atkins said in a statement after Governor Jerry Brown announced the signing of the law.

The intent of the law, said Atkins' spokeswoman, Dale Kelly Bankhead, is to expand access to abortion in areas of the state where there are no providers.

"In more than half of the counties in California there is no abortion provider," Bankhead said. "Women have to travel long distances to access these services."

California Assemblyman Brian Jones, the Republican caucus leader, said he was disappointed in the governor, calling the new law "dangerous for women."

"It's truly disheartening and disingenuous that Governor Brown and legislative Democrats created a law to lower the standard of care for the women under the guise of creating access," Jones said.

The measure, the progress of which has been closely followed by activists on both sides of the abortion debate, comes as a handful of states, primarily in the country's South and middle, have passed or enacted laws restricting abortion

Via: Newsmax

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Park rangers accused of ‘Gestapo tactics’ to enforce shutdown

**FILE** Park Ranger Dennis Lenzendorf officially opens the gate to the East Entrance of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming for the start of the summer season on May 3, 2013. The entrance opened after a public-private effort to get the park's roads plowed despite federal budget cuts. (Associated Press/Elizabeth Quall, National Park Service)A guide who led a tour group through Yellowstone as the government shutdown began accused the National Park Service of “Gestapo tactics” in trying to prevent the visitors from viewing any of the park’s sites.

Tour director Gordon Hodgson told the Livingston Enterprise, a Montana newspaper, that park rangers allowed the group to stay at a lodge for the 48 hours they were allotted under shutdown rules, but refused to let them do anything else in the park — including walk on the boardwalk paths outside the lodge or visit any of the park’s geysers.

At one point he tried to take his tour out and pulled over to let them photograph bison, but a park ranger pulled up and ordered them to get back on the bus, telling them they could be charged with trespassing.

“She told me you need to return to your hotel and stay there,” Hodgsontold the Livington Enterprise. “This is just Gestapo tactics. We paid a lot to get in. All these people wanted to do was take some pictures.”

The Obama administration’s decision to close down national parks amid the shutdown has produced a feverish debate in Washington, where lawmakers are demanding an investigation, and around the country, where defying the park shutdown has become an act of civil disobedience for many.

The administration has made some exceptions. An immigrant-rights rally was allowed to take place on the National Mall in Washington on Tuesday, despite it being park property that is supposed to be closed to the public.

Via: Washington Times

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