​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​              A daily digest of Montana news

Mar. 26, 2019


Yellowstone County Attorney Mike Linder announced Monday that authorities had determined who had killed Linda and Clifford Bernhardt in 1973 in Billings. Linder said DNA tests were critical in finding the killer, Cecil Stan Caldwell, who died in 2003. (AP)


THE COUNTRY is a whopping $22 trillion in debt, so some wags have suggested a reasonable solution: Sell Montana to Canada. 

It isn't a total solution, as they expect Canada to pay just $1 trillion for the Treasure State. But it's a start.

The idea came from Ian Hammond, a petitioner at Change.org, who's hoping to get 7,500 signatures for his idea.

“We have too much debt and Montana is useless,” Hammond wrote, with tongue planted in cheek, in support of his plan. “Just tell them it has beavers or something.”

Even some Montanans endorsed the idea. “I'm Montanan and hoping to join Canada without the moving costs,” CJ Williams wrote in support. “Let's do this. Please adopt us.”

"I'm a Montanan and really hope that becoming Canadian makes me a nicer person," said Steve Hammond.

UPDATE: Some Montana legislators have decided to weigh in on the "lets-sell-Montana-to-Canada" petition with a "let's don't" resolution of their own. 

Rep. Forrest Mandeville, R-Columbus, proposed the resolution so lawmakers could have a little fun amidst all the serious issues they wrestle with. 

​Rep. Jessica Karjala, D-Billings, objected, with tongue in cheek, saying: " "What about those of us who would like more maple syrup, better tea and free healthcare?"

"It's still an option to move to Canada," Mandeville replied, according to a report in the Great Falls Tribune.

IN WHAT Montana city can you feel the most safe and secure? It's Kalispell, according to a new study by the National Council for Home Safety and Security.

Next on the list is Bozeman, followed by Helena, Great Falls, and Missoula.

The study was completed primarily to highlight the cities that have had the least amount of violent and non-violent crimes per population, while also bringing awareness to the cities that are more likely to have crime on a per-capita basis, the council said.

The council based its ratings on FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting statistics and combining those with its internal population research. The study indicated that Montana has some of the highest rates of property crime on a per-capita basis. The violent crime rate also is significantly above the national average.

MANY MONTANANS may have never heard of Huawei, the Chinese tech and telecommunications giant, until one of its top executives was arrested in Vancouver, British Columbia, recently, sending stock markets crashing. Huawei plays a key role in China's ambitions to become a worldwide tech leader, but many analysts warn that it is a major security risk around the world.

Some Montanans also may recall that a Flathead County couple -- and many others -- contend that Huawei was involved in the murder over six years ago of their son, an electronics engineer who worked in Singapore.

Shane Todd, 31, was working for the Institute for Micro Electronics, part of a Singapore state agency, and headed a team that developed advanced technologies. Shane told his parents, Richard and Mary of Marion, Montana, that he worried his work could jeopardize US national security -- shortly before he was found dead in his apartment.

Singapore police declared the death a suicide, but his parents said evidence suggested their son was murdered. They also found a small hard drive at their son's apartment, evidence inadvertently left behind by police who confiscated Shane’s computers, cellphone and diary. The hard drive detailed plans for a project that involved the institute and Huawei.

Though the Todds have been frustrated by their inability to get anyone to take responsibility for their son's death, they are happy that there have been a number of media reports about what happened. While they now believe there is little likelihood that Shane’s death will ever be ruled anything other than a suicide, they are pleased his story will be told again.

“What we most want to see happen is attention brought to the illegal transfer of technology to China through my son’s work,” Mary Todd told the Daily Inter Lake earlier this year.

WELL, now that Montana's election results are in, we know how everyone fared, including the pollsters. 

And the interesting thing is, out-of-state pollsters came a lot closer to getting it right than their Montana counterparts. In fact, polls done by the University of Montana and MSU-Billings deserve failing grades for how much they missed the mark in some contests.

For example, a UM Big Sky poll released in early October (and conducted in August) showed Sen. Jon Tester with a 24-point lead over GOP challenger Matt Rosendale. Tester ended up defeating Rosendale 50-47. Libertarian Rick Breckenridge got 3 percent.

A Big Sky poll that came out closer to the election did show the race tightening, with Tester leading by 10 points.

An MSU-Billings poll, also from October, had Tester with a 47 to 38 lead.

By contrast, a polling firm new to Montana politics, Gravis Marketing, consistently showed a close race between Tester and Rosendale. Their September poll had Tester with a 49-45 lead; October's poll put Tester at 48, Rosendale at 45. Gold star to Gravis.

CBS News issued a September poll that had similar results: Tester 47, Rosendale 45. Also of note: A MTN/MSU poll of voters in late September and early October that head Tester leading 46-43. (Kudos to these pollsters as well, who had a good record this election cycle.)

Montanans who follow politics also were surprised by the first UM Big Sky poll that showed Democrat Kathleen Williams with a 52-38 lead over incumbent GOP Congressman Greg Gianforte. UM's later poll essentially showed them in a dead heat. So did the last Gravis poll.

Gianforte won 51-46. 

In this race, the MSU-Billings poll did much better, showing Gianforte with a 44-41 lead. A MTN/MSU poll gave Gianforte the edge, 48-40 after surveying voters in late September and early October.

Some of the biggest discrepancies between poll results and election results appeared in the initiative contests. 

The MSU-Billings poll had Montana voters approving Initiative 185 (Medicaid expansion) by a 52-39 margin (8 percent undecided). The ballot measure was defeated 53-47.

The same poll showed Montanans overwhelmingly behind Initiative 186, which would have added restrictions on mining. (44 for, 30 against, 26 undecided). The actual vote: 56-44 against.

An MTN/MSU poll on Initiative 185 was somewhat closer to the mark, showing a virtual dead heat.

The verdict from all this: The UM and MSU-Billings polls seem to be over-sampling Democrats.



DNA test solves 45-year-old double murder mystery in Billings

I-90 in eastern Montana still closed Monday by flooding

Flooding advisories issued as concerns grow across state

Judge upholds 2 death sentences for man who killed boy in Lolo forest

Ronan man who is waving toy gun struck, killed by vehicle

After border visit, Tester calls for comprehensive solution to immigration

GOP drops in public preschool bill right before legislative deadline

Panel tables Hanna's Act, which aimed to find missing Native women

MSU demolishes 2 gyms with collapsed roofs

Jean Price, former Great Falls lawmaker and teacher, dies at 75

Daines, Tester react to release of Mueller report

Bozeman names its new school Gallatin High

House endorses bill that aims to crack down on fake service animals

House votes to scrap tax credits, including one for alternative energy

Committee advances bill that would fund new historical museum

LGBTQ resource center opens in Billings

Flathead tribes once again seek to take over National Bison Range

CM Russell painting sells for $1.2 million at Great Falls auction

Man sentenced for raping woman he found in Missoula parking garage

Flooding closes I-90 from Hardin to Wyoming border

Flood watch in effect for streams along Front

State begins to prepare for 2020 US Census count

MSU begins to demolish gyms with collapsed roofs

MT Patrol warns of scams set up to take advantage of trooper's shooting

Warm weather brings warnings of danger of avalanches, flooding

2 men face kidnapping charges after shooting near GTF Walmart store

Sister says driver who died in head-on crash was diabetic, not suicidal

Legislature lays out ownership rights of fossils

Fox says Gianforte's decision won't affect his run for governor

Controversy surrounds bison bill, American Prairie Reserve resolution

Carroll College wants to find new homes for its anthrozoology dogs

Former Miles City student says he told school officials about abuse

Gov's office predicts big drop in Medicaid enrollment under GOP plan

Lawmakers hear arguments on so-called santuary cities bill

Senators complain about lack of decorum at hearing

Stunning photographs grab their share of attention at Western Art Week

Billings-area couple face homicide charges after daughter found dead

MT residents seek compensation for impact of Libby Dam, reservoir

Panel includes Social Security tax cut in state budget

Lawmaker aims to change education of dyslexic students

Former Cascade County undersheriff accused of stealing firearms


Plan to protect future of Colstrip plants advances

Bill would boost bed tax to fund new historical museum, and more

Legislation would give movie companies incentives to film in Montana

After leaving bankruptcy, Rosebud Mine stable until at least year's end

Report: State's tech sector growing 9 times faster than rest of economy

Lawmakers debate bill that aims to reduce gender pay gap in MT



Carroll College to tackle Lewis & Clark State in NAIA semifinals

Hunt begins for new MSU hoops coach

UM losing a lot as 4 seniors depart, but has much to look forward to

Ice-cold Grizzlies fall to Michigan in first round of NCAA tourney

A look at the players who should play big roles in MT, Michigan game

MT Western wins 1st national NAIA title with win over Oklahoma City

With 39 pts from Brianna King, MT Western reaches NAIA finals

Montana musher heartened by 3rd place finish in Alaska's Iditarod



Colstrip bill is a good deal for NorthWestern customers

State should reform its DUI laws to save lives

One of last holdouts, Flathead Beacon, eliminates public comments

Utility: Bill would give MT better ability to manage future of Colstrip

Legislature should derail bill allowing utility to buy more of Colstrip

Fans must KIO (knock it off) with the three-letter messages

Reforms are needed to protect youth in private treatment programs

Time to abolish the death penalty


Bad Rock Settlement Museum takes visitors on tour of MT's early days

Livingston archaeologist gives artifacts, records to Big Timber museum

The Outlaw and the movies

The search for the stories behind a Missoula photographer's portraits

Drag queens work to break into the Montana mainstream

Actor, MT landowner Bill Pullman narrates Yellowstone documentary

HM Kleinschmidt: The man who recorded 70 below zero one night in MT


Astronaut Scott Kelly to lecture April 4 at MSU

Beatles tribute band Bongwater to play at Bonner June 2

Whitefish festival will feature Dwight Yoakam, Band of Horses

Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson plan July 25 show in Billings

Grammy winner Norah Jones to play in Bozeman, Bonner in late July

Clint Black, LOCASH coming to Helena fair in late July

Mumford & Sons, Jackson Browne coming to Missoula in August

Steve Miller, Marty Stuart plan Missoula concert Aug. 17

'Weird Al' Yankovic plans Billings performance Aug. 25

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