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

Dec. 16, 2018


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.

SOME OF the most interesting -- and hilarious -- news you'll find in Montana's newspapers is featured in the police blotters. Consider this gem in the Nov. 7 edition of Kalispell's Daily Inter Lake:

"A noise complaint was validated when an officer arrived to check it out. The participants said they were wrapping up a game of strip poker and then quiet would resume."

HISTORICALLY, Montana's daily newspapers have given the majority of their endorsements to Democrats for the state's major offices. This year is different. So far all the endorsements have gone to Democrats.

For those on the right, in these polarized times, this is just confirmation of the media's liberal bias.

For those on the left, it underscores the media's reasoned resistance to the excesses of conservatives in general and President Trump in particular.

So far this fall, endorsements of Democratic Sen. Jon Tester have come from the Billings Gazette, Missoulian, Bozeman Chronicle, Helena Independent Record, and Montana Standard

The Chronicle, Missoulian, and Gazette also have endorsed Kathleen Williams, the Democratic challenger to incumbent GOP Congressman Greg Gianforte.




Missoula man admits he killed 2 people, put bodies in tubs of acid

Man sentenced for squatting in deployed soldier's home, selling goods

Officials recover remains on Blackfeet Reservation

Former athletic trainer arrested in Miles City on child porn charges

State prohibits hunters from filming their hunts with drones

States, green groups ask judge to derail coal leasing program

Killing of wolf north of Yellowstone raises concerns

Billings, Havre bomb threats deemed not credible

EPA finds contaminated water in Crow Agency water system

Court strikes down law giving tax credits for donations to private schools

Grizzly bear managers mull new course after court loss

Great Falls man dies while fleeing scene of crash

Fewer Montanans sign up for Obamacare, despite more options

Senate panel hears testimony on missing, killed indigenous women

As Gallatin Co home prices rise, so does number of surrendered pets

Senate OKs Tester bill that would overturn IRS 'dark money' rule

Supreme Court sides with governor in conservation easement case

Some 60 shots fired before officer's shot ends Deer Lodge rampage

Officials charge Madison Co man with tampering in suspected homicide

Montanans have mixed reactions to federal changes in water rules

Daines, Tester push bill that aims to help Vietnam War vets

MT food-truck workers say divine intervention saved them from semi

Heavy winter storm forecast for western Montana

Steamboat Geyser sets record for Yellowstone Park eruptions

Attorney general appeals Missoula gun ordinance to Supreme Court

Judge tosses lawsuit that aimed to block thinning project near Helena

State plan calls for 1,000 grizzly bears in northwestern Montana

Officials hope to raise $3.3M for new Montana psychiatry program

More than $70 million spent on MT's US Senate contest

Retired Great Falls priest being charged with having child porn

Advocates want to stiffen Montana's lenient drunk driving laws

UM faculty resists plan to eliminate Southeast Asia minor

Grizzly bear managers mull future after court setback


Jet Blue to offer direct flights to Long Beach from Bozeman

US House OKs $400B farm bill that funds farm and food programs

Daines, Tester both vote to pass $860B farm bill out of Senate

Outdoor recreation summit discusses value of public lands

Telecommuting helps bring some MT workers big-city wages

Colstrip power plant financial performance rated marginal

Feds to ease controls on oil drilling that aim to protect sage grouse


UM's Robby Hauck finishes 7th in voting for Jerry Rice Award

Billings West grad and ex-Jet Dylan Donahue reinstated to NFL

Tyler Hall breaks MSU scoring record as Cats upset Washington State

UM falls to UC Irvine on road despite return of Akoh

Lady Cats fall to Texas Christian 71-49

UM Western football player charged with rape of fellow student

Lady Griz topple Grand Canyon 69-47



The state should prohibit hunting of wolves near Yellowstone

Here's hoping the US House actually investigates MT's Ryan Zinke

Senate plan good step to improving handling of Native American victims

Making deep cuts at Montana Tech is the wrong approach

MSU should ban romantic relationships between faculty, students

Regents' pay raises for top managers raise a lot of questions

Legislature should seek a middle ground on Medicaid expansion


Whitefish flower shop busy after wreath featured in Martha Stewart mag

Biography of overlooked Copper King Augustus Heinze reissued

Montana Tech offers unique underground mining class 

Lewistown vet remembers Pearl Harbor attack: 'All hell broke loose'

HGTV unveils 'Dream House' in Whitefish it plans to give away

Kalispell man's auto salvage yard is a collection of memories

The Spanish Flu ravaged Montana a century ago, killing 2,654


Bob Seger reschedules Billings concert for January

Styx, Larry the Cable Guy performing in Billings March 23

Beatles tribute band Bongwater to play at Bonner June 2

'Weird Al' Yankovic plans Billings performance Aug. 25

Send tips to editor@montanabuzz.com

Justices of the Montana Supreme Court listen to arguments last week in a dispute between Attorney General Tim Fox and Governor Steve Bullock over handling of conservation easement. On Monday, the court sided with Bullock in ruling he acted legally in bypassing the Land Board in approving an eastern Montana conseration easement. (Helena IR)