OK- don’t worry, I’ll get to the antelope story in a bit (or you can scroll down to the video below). But first, this is interesting: the Commissioner of Political Practices ruled against a group founded by The Billings Gazette, saying the group violated campaign finance laws.
Celebrate Billings, a civic organization founded by The Billings Gazette, violated state political-spending reporting laws by failing to report its activity, a state agency has ruled.
In a decision issued June 10, Commissioner of Political Practices David Gallik said there is enough evidence to support a civil penalty against the organization for failing to properly report its financial support of $22,344 related to a 2007 Billings School District mill levy.
Hmmm. Now, it’s one thing if your local newspaper publishes an editorial supporting a hike in your local mill levy. It’s quite another when they found an organization that actively lobbies to hike your local mill levy. Here’s what I find ironic: that same newspaper can spend unlimited, unreported numbers of funds speaking out in support of any given policy and nobody cares. Now, all of a sudden, they do the same thing, but through a group called “Celebrate Billings” and they have to report all spending to the proper government authorities. Free Speech is no longer so free once you are no longer part of a newspaper now is it? (Hint- remember this the next time your editorial board is considering running a piece on Citizens United.) And for “Celebrate Billings”…keep celebrating your city- no matter what the State Speech Police at the Commissioner of Political Practices Office has to say.
Speaking of Lee Newspapers (Billings Gazette)- some of you may recall the curious timeline of one Lee Newspaper reporter who left his reporting job in Helena before the 2010 elections. Martin Kidston (who by all accounts seems like a very nice guy) abruptly left his job with The Helena Independent Record to take a job with the Montana Democratic Party. Then, almost immediately after Democrats got routed in the 2010 midterm elections, Kidston was almost immediately let go from the Montana Democratic Party and hired back with Lee Newspapers. The paper noted that he is only covering Northern Wyoming.
Well, as they say, all politics is local- and as this letter to the editor points out- you can’t simply cover Northern Wyoming without also covering politics.
In response to Martin Kidston’s May 19 Gazette story regarding the BLM’s Big Horn Basin Resource Management Plan, I would like to address the charge that only 501 of 1,700 oil and gas leases are actively being developed in the Basin. Such a blanket statement is misleading. Leasing is essential to the long-term development of domestic resources. While opponents of domestic energy development point to industry not instantaneously developing leases, this reflects a misleading portrayal of the critical role leasing plays in long-term prospects for domestic energy development.
That was part of a letter to the editor from Monica Deromedi with the Bighorn Basin Resources Alliance as she responded to a piece written by Kidston.
How is this story political? Because the Democratic Party and President Barack Obama have repeatedly stressed that there are plenty of places available on federal lands for oil and gas companies to drill, they just aren’t drilling there. The problem is this: the areas with the most oil and gas development potential are continually targeted for drilling bans and monument designations. It’s like I said on the talk show, you can have all the access to the land to hunt you want. But if the antelope aren’t on those lands, you won’t shoot an antelope.
Speaking of antelope- In absence of food in Northeast Montana due to record levels of snow, the antelope made their way further south this year, and are now stranded due to the water. On top of that, 55% of antelope near Glasgow have been killed this year, that’s according to this piece in The USA Today. (Antelope Video below)
Nine feet of snow fell this winter in parts of central Montana, driving pronghorn antelope south from Canada sooner, and farther, than in past years. “Not only was there a lot of snow, it was freaking cold,” says wildlife biologist Kelvin Johnson of Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks office in Glasgow.
Pronghorn antelope range broadly across western states and Canada, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. This winter, Johnson says, about 55% of migrating antelope tagged in one survey were killed crossing rivers, fences, railroads and highways, as well as by cold and starvation. Even those that successfully migrated are now stuck on the south side of the Missouri River and Fort Peck Lake.