By John S. Adams,
 MontanaFreePress.com

Multiple news outlets on May 6 reported on Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s release of three years’ worth of emails from his personal email account.

This latest inquiry into Bullock’s emails is in part related to Lt. Gov. Angela McClean’s abrupt departure from the governor’s office last fall.

McClean resigned her position on Nov. 30, 2015 to take a new job at office of the Commissioner of Higher Education. At the time Bullock and McClean deflected questions about why she left the job, though emails published in December indicate there was longstanding tension between the two.

The latest release of emails from Bullock’s personal emails account, which he sometimes uses to conduct state business, further demonstrate the strained relationship between Bullock and McClean prior to her departure.

MTFP obtained all 366-pages of emails and has published without commentary searchable versions of the documents here.

 

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Learn more about the work of “Montana Master” artist Harold Schlotzhauer as he leads museum visitors on a gallery talk of the Yellowstone Art Museum’s current exhibition Harold Schlotzhauer: The Shape of Motion. The talk takes place 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 19th.  The exhibition is the third in the YAM’s series of Montana Masters exhibitions, which focus on the work of a diverse selection of mature artists who have contributed significantly to Montana’s respected artistic reputation and traditions. The YAM is pleased to continue the series with the presentation of work by one of Montana’s most prolific and distinctive painters. With decades of experience behind him, Schlotzhauer continues to explore the intersection between the observable and the imagined, creating a vivid visual language that soars beyond the edges of the picture plane.  His brand of Modernism is bold and playful, but dazzlingly serious in its intent to create engaging images that make the intangible real.  Shapes, lines, and sweeping color dance together in choreographed movement to elicit a personal response from the viewer.  Schlotzhauer’s visual language is inspired by myriad sources, including traditional Asian arts, graffiti, children’s toys, and the rhythms of nature.

The exhibition surveys 50 years’ worth of Schlotzhauer’s art exploration, beginning with his art student days in California, where he graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree with high distinction in 1966 from California College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland, through his retirement from Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, after teaching there for 28 of his 41 years of teaching in higher education.  He was subsequently appointed Professor Emeritus by the University.  Since his retirement in 2008, Schlotzhauer has continued painting at his longtime Bozeman studio, which overlooks his home in the Gallatin Valley. This bold exhibition comprises colorful paintings, sculptures, kites, and various embellished skateboards, snowboards, balance boards, and surfboards.

A gifted educator and speaker, Schlotzhauer’s wisdom shines on the subject of Modernism, imparting knowledge that is accessible to art lovers at every level of their own art appreciation. This talk is part of the museum’s Distinguished Speakers series, which responds to current topics and issues addressed by museum exhibitions.

Admission to the museum is free to members.  Non-members can enjoy the talk and the other exhibition offerings for a modest admission. The Shape of Motion remains on view through July 3, 2016. Visit the museum’s website, artmuseum.org, to learn more about the museum’s other exhibitions and programs.


Sunday, May 1 rockin’ country music artist Colt Ford will be playing the Butte Depot. Doors open at 7:00 pm and tickets are $27.00 for all ages.


Some of Ford’s hits include “Crank It Up,” “Dirt Road Anthem,” and “Cut ‘Em All” featuring Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson. The show promises to be powerful and filled with high-energy.

Ford has had #1 hits, such as Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem,” which he wrote, and Brantley Gilbert’s “Country Must Be Country Wide.” 

Ford has sold over one million albums and millions of song downloads, his Facebook page has over sixteen million likes and has as many YouTube views. Ford was also featured in Wall Street Journal.

In addition to being a gifted songwriter and artist, Colt is also a former professional golfer, and resides with his family in Athens, GA.

Colt Ford is touring in support of his new album “Answer To No One; The Colt Ford Classics.”

 

 

By John S. Adams,  MontanaFreePress.com

Two Montana conservation groups are suing the federal government alleging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s plan to recover endangered bull trout is inadequate and threatens to drive the iconic Western fish to extinction.

The Helena-based Alliance for the Wild Rockies and the Bigfork-based Friends of the Wild Swan argued in a complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Oregon that the federal wildlife agency’s plan “fails to ensure the long-term survival and recovery” of bull trout.

Michael Garrity, executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, said Wednesday that bull trout have lost an estimated 60 percent of their historical habitat range before they were even listed as “threatened” on the federal endangered species list.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has dragged its feet on bull trout for over 20 years now and the sad truth is that the only actions the agency has taken to keep these iconic native fish from going extinct are those the court has mandated due to lawsuits by conservationists over the decades,” Garrity said.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service public affairs officer Brent Lawrence said Wednesday the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

An email to the U.S. Department of the Interior, which is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, was not immediately returned.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, bull trout are cold-water fish that require “pristine stream and lake habitats in western North America” to survive and reproduce.

Bull trout were once abundant in lakes and streams in Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, Idaho and Montana.

According to the agency, bull trout were once found in about 60 percent of the Columbia River Basin but now their populations occur in less than half of their historic range.

The lawsuit states that “human activities in bull trout habitat over the last century, such as logging, road construction, dams, mining, grazing and urban development, have negatively impacted bull trout habitat, causing widespread and significant population declines…”

Mike Garrity

Garrity said those impacts to bull trout habitat have been well-documented.

“Yet the recovery plan issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service fails to clearly identify and address those threats,” Garrity said. “The fact is the plan doesn’t even call for actually monitoring bull trout populations to see if they are recovering, continuing to decline, or even test for genetic inbreeding.”

The complaint alleges the agency’s plan to recovery the species and get it off the Endangered Species List doesn’t actually do anything to improve habitat for the fish, but rather lowers the bar for species recovery.

The plan allows 25 percent of the Coastal, Mid-Columbia, Upper Snake, and Columbia Headwaters Recovery Units to be extirpated, according to the complaint.

“This plan allows bull trout populations to decline even further and doesn’t address the looming threat of climate change,” said Arlene Montgomery, program director for Friends of the Wild Swan, one of the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit. “That’s not recovery. We sent the Service detailed comments that included relevant science and threats facing bull trout but it was totally ignored.”

Garrity said Tuesday’s lawsuit marks the seventh time in 20 years conservationists have sued the agency to require it to comply with the legal obligations under the Endangered Species Act to list bull trout, designate critical habitat, and establish a recovery plan for the species that will lead to the conservation, recovery and eventual de-listing of bull trout.

“We are certainly not thrilled to have to go to court again to force a recalcitrant government agency to do its job under the Endangered Species Act but the alternative is to simply let bull trout slide inexorably into inbreeding, extirpation and extinction,  and that we will not allow, ” Garrity said.

 

 

By John S. Adams, montanafreepress.com

(Editor’s Note: This is the second of two stories looking at the 2016 presidential primary race ahead of Montana’s June 7 primary election. On April 11 we looked at the Republican presidential race).

As the race for the Democratic presidential nomination heads deeper into spring, some Montana Democrats are wondering if lightning will strike twice.

That’s because for the second time in eight years their party may not have a clear-cut presidential nominee by the time Montana’s June 7 primary rolls around.

The last time that happened was in 2008, when former New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and first-term Sen. Barack Obama brought their campaigns to the Treasure State in the run-up to a historic primary showdown.

While the delegate math this time around heavily favors front-runner and former First Lady Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the scrappy self-described Democratic Socialist, isn’t throwing in the towel. Sanders has racked up victories in seven of the last primary contests, including recent wins in neighboring Idaho and Wyoming.

Sanders is also raising lots of money along the way. His campaign topped $44 million in receipts in March compared to $29.5 million Clinton’s campaign raised during that same period.

Sanders is showing no signs of slowing down, which could be a signal the Democratic nominating contest will return to big sky country between now and June 7.

Geoffrey Skelley, Associate Editor, Sabato's Crystal Ball University of Virginia Center for Politics. Courtesy photo.

Geoffrey Skelley, Associate Editor, Sabato’s Crystal Ball
University of Virginia Center for Politics. Courtesy photo.

“I think [Sanders] is going to take the race all the way to the convention,” said Geoffrey Skelley, an associate editor for Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Skelley said it will be difficult for Sanders to significantly cut into Clinton’s delegate lead, but that won’t stop him from campaigning in places like Montana as he takes his “political revolution” to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July.

Obama easily won Montana in 2008, topping Clinton with 57 percent of the Democratic vote here. Those 2008 numbers favor Sanders in states that divvy up their delegates on a proportional basis, Skelley said.

“Sanders has to win 58 percent of the delegates from here on out to keep up with [Clinton] in the pledged delegate count,” Skelley said. “Given his success in nearby states, there’s no reason to think Bernie wouldn’t win Montana.”

Skelley said he expect Sanders to campaign on the ground in Montana in an effort to “run up the score as much as possible.”

Clinton, meanwhile, will likely focus most of her time and energy on California, which also holds its primary election on June 7. That state will send 546 delegates to the national convention.

“I’m not poo-pooing Montana, but given the fact that Sanders is going to have substantial advantage in Montana, Clinton is probably making sure she locks down California,” Skelley said.

North Dakota, South Dakota, and New Mexico and New Jersey also hold primaries on June 7.

Emails to the presidential campaigns inquiring about Montana campaign stops were not immediately returned.

As of Tuesday Clinton has 1,287 pledged delegates to Sanders’ 1,037, but the margin widens when the so-called “super delegates” are factored in.

Those are delegates — usually elected Democratic party officials and other party elders or dignitaries — who can pledge their support at the Democratic National Convention to whichever candidate they choose, regardless of the outcome of their state’s primary.

Counting super delegates, Clinton leads with 1,756 total delegates to Sanders’ 1,068.

Montana Democrats will send 21 pledged delegates and six super delegates to Philadelphia.

Montana’s super delegates are Gov. Steve Bullock, Sen. Jon Tester, party Chairman Jim Larson, party Vice-Chair Jacquie Helt, National Committeewoman Jean Lemire Dahlman, and National Committeeman Jorge Quintana.

Montana Democratic Party rules require that the 21 pledged delegates be distributed to the candidates based on the proportion of the vote the candidates receive.

Nancy Keenan, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party, said Montana’s super delegates usually don’t pledge their allegiance to a candidate until after the state’s June primary.

“I think the tradition has been to let Montana Democratic voters speak and then decide,” Keenan said.

Keenan said even though the race for the Democratic nomination isn’t as tight as it was in 2008 she still expects high turnout among Democrats for the June 7 primary.

“I think that people still want their voices heard,” Keenan said.