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Wednesday, April 25, 2018, President Trump loses another round in court on immigrant “dreamers.” Also on today’s rundown: Environmentalists tell New York Gov. Cuomo to match words with action; California lawmakers wear jeans, taking a stand against sexual violence; and Airbnb is called out for “secret tax deals.”





Tuesday, April 24, 2018 - Trump’s Secretary of State nominee gets a narrow thumbs up, but his Veteran’s Affairs nominee is put on hold. Also on our rundown:

Protests against Wells Fargo set for Des Moines today, and cannabis advocates blame Florida officials for “reefer madness.”



The front entrance to the Billings Police Department offices in City Hall.

A District Court judge granted a temporary restraining order Monday barring the city of Billings from releasing the name of three police officers disciplined for having sex with a civilian employee on city property.

The city was set to release the names, along with other documents related to the case, at 3 p.m. Monday. Late Monday morning, however, Yellowstone County District Judge Michael Moses issued the restraining order at the request of lawyers representing the three patrolmen.

Moses, who set a hearing for May 3 on whether the injunction should be permanent, said the order itself is confidential, since it includes the names of the three officers who admitted having sex — two of them while on duty — with a Police Department clerk.

The injunction prohibited the city from releasing the names and other information requested by Last Best News and other news organizations.

Deputy City Attorney Thomas Pardy said on Thursday that he had determined that the information was public and would be released at 3 p.m. on Monday.

The information was not immediately released, he said, because as with any such release, he would have had to redact protected information like Social Security numbers, phone numbers and the names of third parties.

Public information requests generally take 10 days to two weeks to process, he said, and in this case he would have been scrambling on Friday and part of Monday to get the redactions done.

“Two days would have been a pretty fast turnaround,” he said.

Pardy said the three officers were represented by the Scheveck Law Firm, of Billings.

Gazette editor Darrell Ehrlick said he spoke briefly with KTVQ news director Jon Stepanek about the possibility of jointly intervening in the case to argue for the release of what should be public information.

As for the request for a permanent injunction barring release of the officers’ names, Erhlick said, “we definitely are going to try to challenge that in whatever way we can.”

The suspensions without pay for the three officers came to light last week, but only after Last Best News ask Police Chief Rich St. John to confirm rumors to that effect. St. John said two of the officers were suspended for two weeks without pay because they had sex with the female clerk while on duty and on city property — in the basement of City Hall, which is used for records storage.

The third officer was suspended without pay for one week because he was off duty but on city property at the time. St. John said that officer had sexual relations with the clerk in a police patrol car — “or close to or around it.”

However, St. John later told the Gazette that the officer accused of having sex in the patrol car was on duty and that the encounter took place in a private lot. That officer was suspended for two weeks, he told the Gazette.

He further told the Gazette that of the two officers who had a sexual encounter in the basement of City Hall, one was on-duty, which is why he was suspended for two weeks, while the other was off-duty and was suspended for one week. St. John could not be reached Monday to explain the discrepancies.



Monday, April 23, 2018 - The Waffle House shooter had an earlier weapons arrest near the White House. Also on our Monday

rundown: new eviction data underscores America’s affordable-housing crisis; plus we will take you to a state where one county

is putting juvenile justice under public health.


Big Sky Connection




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Eric Tegethoff

April 23, 2018

HELENA, Montana - This week is National Park Week, and one of the greatest attractions to parks is the wildlife. There's one animal, in particular, many park-goers would love to have the chance to see: the grizzly bear. But since they were taken off the Endangered Species list last year and Wyoming proposed allowing grizzly hunts, conservation groups are concerned the mammals are facing a grave threat. 

While there are many reasons groups want the bears protected from hunts, Stephanie Adams, Yellowstone program manager with the National Parks Conservation Association, says a bear shot in Wyoming could be a bear visitors to Yellowstone National Park in Montana never get to experience.

"It would be really short-sighted, especially of Wyoming, to allow someone to shoot a bear that could potentially be one that is seen by hundreds of thousands of people in the wild," she says. 

Wyoming's proposal would allow hunters to kill 24 grizzlies this fall. There are about 700 of the bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the species reproduces slowly, causing concern among wildlife groups that hunts could send grizzlies to the brink of extinction again. 

Idaho also is considering allowing grizzly hunts. Montana decided against this proposal earlier this year.

Adams says U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's decision to delist the species came with the understanding that the three states these grizzlies call home would work collectively to protect them.

"Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho all agreed to work together to manage this population," she adds. "However, Wyoming's really aggressive plan to harvest 24 bears this fall could impact the ability of the two other states to manage bears in the future."

The National Parks Conservation Association and other groups have sued over the federal government's delisting decision. Adams says people, including Montanans, can submit comments at to Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and the state's Game and Fish Commission on the hunting proposal through April 30.


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