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NDM Productions presenting "The Wizard Of Oz" in Great Falls

GREAT FALLS -- NDM Productions will be presenting "The Wizard Of Oz" in Great Falls.

Performance dates are September 4th, 5th, 6th, and 11th, 12th, 13th.

All shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Great Falls High School theatre.

The NDM website states:

It was not until 1987 that the iconic movie was fully realized on stage in a manner that most reflected the film. It is NDM's goal to reinvent and bring a fully realized production of this show to the Great Falls theatrical community--a feat that has not been done in over 10 years. From Dorothy to Munchkin number 5, it is our goal to utilize the talent found in town, to create an experience the likes of which Great Falls has not quite seen. In addition to reaching out to local businesses and chains for various aspects of theatrical production (from marketing to full character sponsorships), pushing the boundaries of theatrical performance through the use of unique technical aspects and talent through a safe creative space for all ages, stands as our main objective.

Performers include:

DOROTHY - Olivia Ercolano
HUNK/SCARECROW - Lindsey Jolliff (Glinda U/S, Dorothy Standby)
HICKORY/TINMAN - Zachary Dennis
ZEKE/COWARDLY LION - Kristi Hale
GLINDA THE GOOD - Heather Dayton
MS. GULTCH/WICKED WITCH - Aubrey Rearden
PROFESSOR MARVEL - Joel Corda

Student/Senior tickets are $15; Adult Tickets are $20.

Click here for tickets and more information.

 



Home Depot investigating security breach

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Home Depot is investigating a hack that possibly exposed its customer payment information.

The company on Tuesday confirmed it has partnered with banks and law enforcement to look into "some unusual activity" relating to customers.

Independent cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs was the first to report this, saying "a massive new batch of stolen credit and debit cards" went for sale Tuesday in the black market online.

In a statement, Home Depot spokeswoman Paula Drake said: "Protecting our customers' information is something we take extremely seriously, and we are aggressively gathering facts at this point while working to protect customers."

The company promised to alert customers as soon as it can ascertain a data breach has occurred.

This could turn out to be another giant hack like the ones that hit several brand name U.S. stores. Since late 2013, the list has gotten extensive: Albertson's, Target, Michaels, Neiman Marcus, P.F. Chang's and SuperValu.

So many companies have been hit, CNNMoney developed its own tool: What Hackers Know About You .


CNN's Devon Sayers contributed to this report.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.



Great Falls chiropractor's license revoked for "sexual" touching of employees

GREAT FALLS -- Reese Riggin, a chiropractor in Great Falls, has had his professional license revoked by the Board of Chiropractors of the Montana Department of Labor & Industry.

Documents filed in the case state that Riggin required employees to undergo chiropractic treatment periodically in order to understand the principles and benefits of chiropractic. Two of the female employees alleged that during their treatments, Riggin touched them inappropriately and sexually.

There are no reports that Riggin engaged in any unprofessional behavior with patients.

The revocation order states:

Engaged in unprofessional conduct by making comments of a sexual nature and touching buttocks, breasts and vagina under the guise of providing chiropractic care. Also, engaged in unprofessional conduct by failing to keep adequate patient records that are legible and meet the minimum requirements.

We do not yet know if criminal charges have been filed; we have contacted the Montana Department of Justice to find out, and will provide an update when we get more information.

This is not the first time that Riggin has had his license revoked. In 1997, the Idaho State Board of Chiropractic Physicians revoked his license to practice chiropractic medicine in the state of Idaho. Four years later, Riggin was denied for initial licensure in the State of Washington.

On October 12, 2001, the Montana Board of Chiropractors denied Riggin's initial application to sit for the Chiropractic Examination.

A judgment of conviction and order of probation in April 1999 in the District Court of the Seventh Judicial District of the State Of Idaho states that Riggin pleaded guilty to an amended charge of Sexual Exploitation by a Medica] Care Provider, and the District Judge Brent J. Moss ordered that Riggin was guilty of the crime as charged in the amended infonuation and ordered that Riggin be placed on probation to the court for a period of two years, with 90 days in jail with 80 days suspended, pay a $750 fine, and write a letter of apology to all victims.

Riggin completed the terms of his probation in 2001 and the criminal charges were dismissed on August 7, 2006.

On September 27, 2006, the Idaho State Board of Chiropractic Physicians denied Riggin's application to reinstate his chiropractor license based upon insufficient evidence to establish rehabilitation.

In 2007, the Montana Board of Chiropractic granted a license to practice to Riggin with the following conditions:

A. Mr. Riggin must submit proof of successful completion of the NBCE Ethics & boundaries exam to be taken at his own expense; and
B. Mr. Riggin must submit a letter detailing Mr. Riggin's practice situation, the 1] name of his peer supervisor, and the work schedule for Mr. Riggin and his peer supervisor, and such conditions must be approved by the Board.

Documents filed in 2008 show that the Montana Board of Chiropractors, in reviewing Riggin's Application for Licensure, referred Riggin for psychological and psychosexual evaluation.

The evaluator recommended the following: Riggin should complete a medical ethics or sexual boundaries course; Riggin should have peer supervision for at least a year; and Riggin should only see female patients in the presence of an assistant or aide.

Here are some excerpts from the documents:

Great Falls chiropractor has license revoked for sexual assault of employees

Great Falls chiropractor has license revoked for sexual assault of employees

Great Falls chiropractor has license revoked for sexual assault of employees



KRTV Evening Top News - Tue Sep 2

GREAT FALLS -- Top news on KRTV for the evening of Tuesday, September 2, 2014:

- One person is dead and three others were injured after a small plane went down near Kings Hill Pass in Cascade County on Tuesday. Click here to read more.

- Toney Couch of Cut Bank died when his motorcycle went off the road in Havre. Click here for more information.

- Reese Riggin, a chiropractor in Great Falls, had his professional license revoked by the Montana Department of Labor & Industry after two female employees alleged that Riggin touched them inappropriately and sexually. Click here for details.

- David Thomas Weisbarth II of Great Falls has been sentenced for the sexual abuse of a minor. Click here to read more.

- - Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman says crews have suspended the search George Baumann of Stevensville, who has been missing since last week. Dog teams, volunteers from Ravalli County Search and Rescue and Ravalli County Sheriff's Office deputies searched all day on Saturday and Sunday, but Hoffman says they found no signs of Baumann. Hoffman says they've searched almost 90 miles inside a more than ¾-mile circle centering on Ambrose Saddle. He says the investigation into Baumann's disappearance will continue until he is located.

- - Montana's appellate public defenders have had a massive increase in their duties over the last few years - and that has "serious consequences" for the rest of Montana's court system, according to Montana Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike McGrath. Click here for details.

 



Drowning victim identified as MSU student from Helena

ENNIS LAKE -- Search and recovery efforts ended at Ennis Lake on Tuesday after the body of Trevor Ball of Helena, 19 years old, was located.

Ball was swimming with friends on Monday when he went under the water and never came back up.

Scent dogs made a hit on a specific area - the same area where the young man was last seen. That's where divers focused most of their efforts.

Shortly before 12:30 p.m. they found Ball's body.

"This was our divers' first successful recovery," said Brent Taylor, vice president of the Gallatin County Tactical Dive Team. "He knew instantly."

Taylor explained the difficulties the team were up against in this recovery effort: "We had entanglement issues, where divers get caught in their lines. It was a little dangerous. There was zero visibility."

The recovery started as a rescue effort on Monday. Madison County Sheriff David Schenk says there were a lot of people swimming in the area and they are relying on witness testimony to determine what happened.

"He got at least half-way across before they noticed he went down," said Schenk. "He wasn't calling for help."

Divers say the young man was not caught up on any debris under the water when they found him.

"He was laying on the surface of the ground," said Taylor.

Schenk, along with rescue members, say this is a stark reminder for even the best swimmers.

"This water is for people who wish to enjoy it," Schenk said. "I just have to say you can be the best swimmer in the world, but a life jacket is the safest way. It's a lifesaver."

"Even if you are a good swimmer," Taylor added.

Ball's parents came from Helena and were at the site of the recovery.

Officials are calling it an accidental drowning but they do plan to perform a toxicology test.

 



Lone Peak high school basketball coach accused of having sex with two players

BOZEMAN -- Cyle Keith Kokot, the girl's basketball coach for Lone Peak High School in Big Sky, is behind bars in Gallatin County, accused of having a sexual relationship with two of his teenage players.

Kokot, 22, is charged with two felony counts of sexual intercourse without consent.

Kokot made his initial appearance in Gallatin County Justice Court on Tuesday morning, where his bond was set at $250,000.

Officers arrested the Lone Peak middle and high school girls basketball coach on Friday, August 29.

According to court documents, a teenage girl who played for Kokot told her parents that she had been engaged in an intimate relationship with her coach that started in January of 2014. She also said she was compelled to have sex with him despite telling him she didn't want to. The girl then gave officers the name of a teammate who she said also had a relationship with Kokat.

When authorities interviewed the second teenager, she told them that she started a sexual relationship with the coach in the summer of 2013. She also said Kokat knew her age.

During Tuesday's court hearing, Gallatin County attorney Marty Lambert asked Justice of the Peace Bryan Adams to set Kokot's bail at $500,000. He told the judge that the 22-year-old "abused his supervisory authority as a coach."

Bail was set at half that amount, but Justice Adams told Kokot that he was concerned that the crimes alleged were predatory in nature. He also gave him a list of restrictions that he must follow if bail is posted, including staying at least 1,000 away feet from any school.

"I don't want him anywhere near where minors might be," said Justice Adams.

Kokot's defense attorney said his client admits to having a sexual relationship with both of the teenage girls, but said the relationship was consensual.

Big Sky Schools superintendent Jerry House issued a statement Monday saying the school district is working with the Gallatin County Sheriff's office in their investigation.

"It is incomprehensible to us as a school and community that this alleged behavior could occur", said Superintendent Jerry House. "Please be assured that our staff and teachers are preparing for school opening as scheduled."

Kokot's next court appearance is scheduled for September 19.

 



Blog: Mountain snow, plains rain for Wednesday

Thanks for stopping by the STORMTracker Weather Blog.

It was difficult to head back to work on Tuesday with the sunshine and comfortable temperatures outside, but Mother Nature will have many running indoors on Wednesday. A cold front will sweep through the Treasure State overnight and much cooler air will arrive from Canada.

I'll be watching snow levels closely overnight, because rain will be falling in Glacier National Park. As that cooler air moves in, snow levels should drop to near 6000 feet by early Wednesday. 1-3" of snow is expected in the park's mountains, which may slow down travelers in the area.

Click here to read more about the Winter Weather Advisory in effect.

While GNP deals with snow, it's going to be all rain for the plains of north central Montana. I'm expecting scattered showers to move out into the plains by late Wednesday morning and continue into the evening hours. Fortunately, we're not looking at excessive rain amounts, which means we shouldn't have to worry about flooding. Most locations will receive less than .10" of rain through Wednesday evening.

Mike


Here's a look at the timing of the rain from our Tru Vu Forecast model:

Tru Vu Forecast



Weisbarth sentenced for sexual abuse of a minor

GREAT FALLS -- David Thomas Weisbarth II of Great Falls has been sentenced for the sexual abuse of a minor.

Weisbarth, 33 years old, was sentenced to 100 years in the Montana State Prison, with 50 of the years suspended.

Charges were first filed against Weisbarth in February of 2013, and he was later found guilty of sexually molesting a young girl.

Court documents indicate that Weisbarth admitted to having sexual fantasies about children but denied molesting the victim.

Judge Kenneth Neill addressed the court before handing down the sentence, saying that to betray the trust of a child was one of the most reprehensible crimes to commit.

Weisbarth was designated as a Tier 2 sex offender and will not be eligible for parole for 25 years.



Montana's Chief Justice says increased caseload of public defenders has serious consequences

HELENA -- Montana's appellate public defenders have had a massive increase in their duties over the last few years - and that has "serious consequences" for the rest of Montana's court system, according to Montana Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike McGrath.

In a letter last month to Governor Steve Bullock's budget director, McGrath notes that the caseload of the Office of the Appellate Defender - which is responsible for appeals from District Court for criminal defendants who cannot afford an attorney - rose to 265 criminal appeals in 2013 after staying around 200 in previous years.

Put another way, the office reported August 1st that it had experienced a 42% increase in its caseload over the previous three years.

While in the past the defenders would often ask the high court for two or three extensions before filing their opening briefs, "it now is not unusual for them to make a sixth or seventh request for an extension of time to file the opening brief on appeal," McGrath wrote in the letter to Office of Budget and Program Planning Director Dan Villa.

That's not because the lawyers want to file more appeals; McGrath says the increase in appeals is tied to an increase in the number of cases filed in District Court.

Fewer than 1% of all District Court cases involving public defenders are appealed to the Montana Supreme Court.

Wade Zolynski, the chief appellate public defender, said many of the defendants seeking appeals are sitting in prison, and victims seeking closure have to await the conclusions of the cases.

But also caught up in the delay are foster children seeking permanent homes and whose parents are appealing the termination of their parental rights.

Appeals on the termination of parental rights jumped from 38 in 2011 to 61 in 2013, according to McGrath's letter, with 51 already filed this year as of August 5.

"Those children cannot be adopted out to permanent homes until the appellate process is over," Zolynski said.

The defenders are required by law to file appeals when clients insist. Zolynski, in his August 1st update to the Montana Public Defender Commission, says his office is doing what it can to reduce caseload - by carefully screening clients for indigence and advising some clients to voluntarily withdraw appeals, for example.

The office also suffers high turnover - 36% annually among its attorneys, and 61% among support staff. McGrath notes in his letter that lawyers typically leave for other state jobs with salaries about $20,000 higher.

"The staff is overworked and underpaid," McGrath wrote.

The office has 10 attorneys including Zolynski.

In his letter, McGrath asks Villa to consider increasing the budget of the Office of Public Defender in the governor's budget proposal to the 2015 Legislature.

A spokesman for Bullock said the governor allocated $625,000 in discretionary funds to the office in the current biennium. He also said Villa is working with the defenders to cone up with a proposal for the Legislature.

The Legislative Law and Justice Interim Committee meets Wednesday to discuss some issues, including possible legislation, related to the Office of the Public Defender and Office of the Appellate Defender.

 



1 person dead, 3 injured in plane crash SE of Great Falls

GREAT FALLS -- One person is dead and three others were injured after a small plane went down near Kings Hill Pass in Cascade County on Tuesday afternoon.

Cascade County Sheriff Bob Edwards confirms that one person was killed in the crash; the victim's identity has not yet been released.

The plane took off from the Great Falls International Airport at around 1 p.m. on Tuesday and crashed near the parking lot of the Silver Crest Ski Area minutes later.

According to our reporter at the scene, debris from the plane is scattered over an area roughly 100 yards long.

We're told survivors of the crash flagged down someone driving down Highway 89 and directed them to call 911 for help.

Belt Ambulance was dispatched to take some of the victims to Benefis hospital in Great Falls and a Mercy Flight helicopter was called in for additional support. The nature and extent of their injuries has not been disclosed at this point.

The National Transportation Safety Board is handling the crash investigation and an agent is on the way to the crash scene.

Great Falls International Airport director John Faulkner says the plane was a single-engine Cardinal Cessna .

We are working to determine where the plane was headed.

According to STORMTracker meteorologist Mike Rawlins, adverse weather conditions were not present at the time of the crash.

Rawlins says the plane was flying with unlimited visibility and no ceiling, meaning a layer of clouds was not present.

At the time of the crash, wind speeds near Kings Hill Pass at and near ground level were around 10-15 mph, with gusts near 30 mph.

Rawlins says wind speeds weren't unusually strong in the area at the time, even at 10,000 feet above the surface. He says top wind speeds at that altitude were near 30-40 mph.

Stay with KRTV for continuous coverage of this breaking news.



2014 Predictions

As promised here are my 2014 mid-term election predictions. Just a reminder, I was 100% in 2012 predicting Obama’s re-election, Tester beating Rehberg, the GOP not gaining U.S. Senate control, Bullock winning the governorship and Daines winning the House seat. So without further adieu or a-don’t:

THE GOP WILL WIN THE U.S. SENATE taking at least 6 seats away from the Dems; Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa and Arkansas. The GOP could flip as many as 10 states adding Alaska, Louisiana, Colorado and New Hampshire to the mix. Oregon, Michigan and Minnesota are in play according to some but I doubt those will go red.

STATUS QUO IN THE HOUSE. No significant change in the U.S. House unless the GOP wins 8-12 Senate seats, then it’s a wave similar to 2010 and they’ll pick up an additional 10 or so House seats.

Daines will easily beat Curtis for the open Montana Senate seat by 10-20 percentage points or more. The Zinke-Lewis House race will be much tighter, though I think Zinke pulls it out by 3-5 points due to the big Republican voter enthusiasm advantage. The Dems have the President to thank for that.

The GOP will maintain it’s big majority in the Montana House and a slimmer majority in the state Senate, though it’s hard to predict due to this being the first election with new state legislative districts. The entrance of Amanda Curtis into the Senate race is likely to hurt down-ticket Democratic candidates statewide unless she crafts and communicates a much more middle-of-the-road, positive message. So far she is not inspiring independents and is angering conservatives who will take it out on Dems at the ballot box. The only constituency she is currently energizing is the far, far left who would turn out and vote anyway.

It looks like a very good year for the GOP statewide and nationally but things could change pretty quickly. There’s only about 9 weeks until Election Day and actually in MT folks will begin to vote in about 5 weeks. Not a lot of time to change the positive GOP trajectory but here are a few wild cards that could change things either way:

1.) Obama could take executive action on immigration that would anger and energize a bigger conservative turnout OR energize a bigger Dem turnout. I’m sure the White House is calculating and polling on that as we speak.

2.) When the GOP led House comes back next week they could form the circular firing squad they’re so famous for and decide to “shut down the government” in response to an Obama action like the one mentioned above. If they do that then they will not retake the Senate and will LOSE House seats.

3.) It’s possible that Louisiana will have a run-off election in December to determine which party will control the U.S. Senate. They have a weird set of procedures down there and if a candidate doesn’t get at least 50% in the general then it goes to a run-off. I don’t think this scenario is likely to determine Senate control but you never know…

4.) International problems could get very ugly and much, much worse in the coming days and weeks. If so, it will most likely make things much worse for Dems, but could benefit them if the President shows some exceptional leadership and courage.

There you have it friends, and delivered before Labor Day. Have a great holiday weekend!

Bloof Witzer & Walsh in a Sityourbuttdown Room interview

Recently Senator-By-Political-Crony-Appointment-Not-The-Will-Of-The-People John Walsh, Democrat from Montana, sat down with CNN’s Bloof Witzer on his show “The Sityourbuttdown Room” to discuss revelations that Walsh plagiarized a research paper required for his masters degree.

Bloof: Thank you for coming on the show Senator-By-Political-Crony-Appointment-Not-The-Will-Of-The-People Walsh.

Walsh: I want to thank you for letting me be myself again.

Bloof: Sure. Tell us a little about yourself.

Walsh: My home’s in Montana I wear a bandana my spurs are of silver my pony is gray While riding the ranges my luck never changes.

Bloof: Well, your luck may have changed a little here recently, but before we get into that please tell our viewers a little about your political beliefs.

Walsh: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

Bloof: Okay. Tell us a little about your philosophy on life and how it is that you have become a successful Senator-By-Political-Crony-Appointment-Not-The-Will-Of-The-People.

Walsh: Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. Never leave that till to-morrow which you can do to-day. Oh, and he that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing.

Bloof: A recent New York Times piece has revealed that you apparently plagiarized a large portion of a research paper required to get your masters degree. What do you say to those who criticize you for doing that?

Walsh: To err is human, to forgive divine and God helps them that help themselves. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.

Bloof: But some say that plagiarism is a dis-qualifier for a Senate candidate, what say you?

Walsh: It depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is.

Bloof: Okay, let’s talk about a few issues. Ukraine; what are your views concerning the rebel separatists there and their attempt to break from Ukraine.

Walsh: When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Bloof: How about the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel?

Walsh: Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.

Bloof: Wait a minute, are you saying that Palestine is actually the ancient homeland of the Jews and is their possession by birthright?

Walsh: It depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is.

Bloof: Hmmm…well, let’s talk about the crisis on our southern border, what would you do to solve the problems down there?

Walsh: You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas. God bless Texas. Ay carumba and uhm, er…out in the west Texas town of El Paso I fell in love with a Mexican girl.

Bloof: What? Okay, ahhh..what are your own personal thoughts about allegations that the President has overreached and is violating the Constitution through executive fiat?

Walsh: We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union,establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Bloof: Seems like I’ve heard that somewhere before. Oh well, wrapping things up now, how do you intend to handle these latest revelations that you plagiarized to earn a degree and what do you say to allegations coming from some that it proves that you’re either too dumb, lazy, dishonest or all three to be a U.S. Senator?

Walsh: Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead! I have not yet begun to fight! Give me liberty or give me death! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! If you like pina coladas and gettin’ caught in the rain! Hey macarena!

Bloof: Wow, sounds like you have some real deeply held convictions here, straight from the heart. Care to leave our viewers with a final word?

Walsh: You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time…er oops, I mean NO COMMENT.

Bloof: Thank you for joining us today on “The Sityourbuttdown Room” Senator-By-Political-Crony-Appointment-Not-The-Will-Of-The-People Walsh.

Walsh: I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal….

Bloof: Cut his microphone, cut it…

Fair questions about fairgrounds

Good observations and questions about Expo Park here in Cascade County from a listener to the radio show:

“The financial situation at the Fairgrounds is very concerning. It seems the most fundamental  accounting procedures to ensure employee accountability and prevent theft have not traditionally been in place. Since the Fairgrounds is a public entity, this is very surprising. Along with proper daily procedures of cash handling, an annual audit is the rule.

I applaud whoever “blew the horn” on the situation and brought these unfortunate circumstances to light. I can only hope that as we move forward, the County continues to remain transparent, and inform and reassure the public that the correct procedures are in place.

Will we see an annual audit from a private accounting firm, and will the audit be publicly noticed and available to voters? And has anyone estimated the total amount of loss to taxpayers from this situation?”

Worse than Nixon? Wow!

Obama is the worst President since WWII.
Worse than Bush.
Worse than Nixon.
According to FOX News? No, according to 1446 registered voters in a new Quinnipiac poll. And the numbers get worse and worse as you look further into the poll. It’s devastating for the President and his party.

The President could turn it around though if he would stop behaving like a third grader with the taunting, mocking, “so sue me” cocky attitude and start behaving like the adult in the room.

Democrats will start jumping ship pretty quickly now because the Presidents antics and woeful lack of anything remotely resembling leadership will not yield the intended results of sufficiently firing up the base for November. Captain Obama is steering the Titanic directly at the iceberg and will sink his party and this country if not checked. Apparently he’s too arrogant and confident in his golden lifeboat waiting in 2016 to give a rip.

Wednesday radio show featuring former GOP state senator Jerry Black

This Wednesday, June 25th live in the studio will be former GOP state senator and longtime north central Montana broadcaster Jerry Black. Topics will include state and local politics and issues, political polarization and the state of the Montana Republican Party.
As always the show features listener call-ins and emails. The call-in number is 452-1073 and the email is ricktryon@msn.com.

Two good reasons for war no more

We should all hope and pray that our great country is not sucked into another foreign war for two reasons:

First, we should have all learned the lesson that nation building and trying to solve ancient feuds when the people directly involved don’t want us to is impossible and not worth even one drop of American blood or one penny of American treasure. Thanks to the blindness and ignorance of neo-cons like Cheney and the inept prosecution of the war by the then CINC G.W. Bush that lesson was learned at the expense of our brave young soldiers and an economic debt we may never pay off.

Second, the notion of engaging in another war under the “leadership” of Obama should frighten the crap out of all of us. The weakness, indecision and incompetence of the current CINC would make W look like a military genius by comparison. Just imagine a war-time president like Obama who thinks global warming or climate change or whatever they’re calling it this week is the greatest threat facing us and who can’t even manage a web site…or his own State Department. Imagine a CINC who has no idea whats going on in the world, or his own administration for that matter, until he learns about it from the newspaper after it’s too late.

Yikes!

Let’s bake a bigger pie

It’s distressing to see this community being divided once again over a school levy vote. Political vendettas, personal attacks, name calling and disrespect on all sides. Folks who oppose the levy have legitimate reasons and aren’t trying to hurt the community and those who support the levy do so for noble reasons as well and aren’t trying to rip off taxpayers.

Instead of squabbling over how to divide up the crumbs and thin slices of a shrinking pie we should be WORKING TOGETHER TO GROW THE PIE. I want to hear the sound of hammer and saw building new homes, businesses and infrastructure. I want to see a thriving economy where lot’s of people have good full time jobs, where shops and restaurants are so busy they can barely keep up.

We can have a growing community where we don’t even think twice about paying a little more for public schools because we’re prosperous and student enrollment is expanding because people want to move here and live here and raise their kids here.

We CAN be that. Why not here? Let’s get to work!

GFPS levy issue: BOTH sides need to compromise

When it comes to funding our schools at the local district level we need to find common ground and make arguments based on facts rather than casting aspersions on those we disagree with. We have to come to some kind of a consensus on funding education so we can build and maintain a prosperous economy and attract and keep good jobs here. It’s not rocket science; unless we show we are able to agree and make a commitment to excellence in public education we have little chance of growing and developing a thriving economy in Cascade County. Unfortunately many levy proponents always make the same silly mistake: they just can’t seem to stop themselves from referring to levy opponents as “haters” and “gripers” etc. This kind of name-calling really hurts the pro-levy cause. I’m not sure why those who favor a levy don’t seem to understand that most of those who oppose a levy have good reasons for doing so and are not “against kids” or “cheapskates” or “selfish” or “vandals” or “naysayers” – all terms I’ve heard and read recently referring to the “anti-levy crowd” which recently has been the majority “crowd”. Instead of characterizing opponents negatively try understanding their point of view. Instead of putting all of the responsibility on local taxpayers to buck up and just “hand over the money because it’s for the kids”, why not suggest, no DEMAND, that administrators and teachers also make some sacrifices. Most levy opponents I’ve spoken with are FOR more transparency, FOR more accountability, FOR more frugality, FOR more shared responsibility between taxpayers and district employees.

The district is asking for about $500,000 of this levy request to pay for the increase in health insurance premiums for district employees which is largely due to ObamaCare mandates. A 2% raise was just approved for teachers. The GFPS Athletic Director makes $96,569 per year. Where are the sacrifices being made by district employees? Where is the compromise and attempt to find common ground? We’re still waiting for information on how much of our property and money was stolen from OUR school district by a district employee. How can we be expected to give more money to an administration that doesn’t do everything possible to account for the money we have already given?

I want to make sure we provide a world class education to our kids, my own daughters got that education here and I am proud of our community and school system. That’s why I am urging the pro-levy voices, along with their advocacy for good public education, to ask for some accountability, responsibility and shared sacrifice by the GFPS and employees. I believe this is the key. If we want to see the levy pass there has to be a GENUINE attempt by the school board, the administration and the teachers union to compromise, find solutions and work together, otherwise everyone will suffer the consequences. I stand ready to help in the effort in any way I can.

 

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