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


April 26, 2019

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Search and rescue divers watch Monday as a truck is pulled from the Missouri River at Craig. A person and a dog were found inside the truck, which went into the river Sunday night. (Helena IR)

THE BUZZ

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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.

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2 dead after shooting in Kevin, standoff in Shelby

Person, dog found in truck submerged in Missouri River

Attorney General Fox invites Chick-fil-A to Montana after LGBT flap

New CEO of Butte treatment program faces wide range of challenges

Former Missoula day care worker must pay $461K in meth case

Where does most of the meth in MT come from? Mexico, says officer

Family doesn't blame Billings police ahead of inquest into shooting

Feds tell state it is now in compliance with ID law

Butte treatment center's patient injection practices draw scrutiny

State regulation of the center overseen by its former CEO

Old rail bed to West Yellowstone to be converted to tourist path

What's in play in the last days of the legislative session

Western Montana's population surges, Census figures show

Lawmakers want long look at compensation for wrongfully incarcerated

New evidence led to mistrial for man accused of killing Tester's nephew

Governor signs firefighters' work-comp measure

After settling one transgender-related lawsuit, MSU faces new one

Fire burns out of control on Lee Metcalf Wildlifre Refuge

Gianforte, Daines tell MSU students its OK to be conservative

Kalispell woman accused of trying to hire someone to commit a murder

Judge says feds should review resumption of coal sales

Yellowstone Park's wolf population drops

Lawmakers pass Medicaid expansion bill, send to governor

Legislators approve $80M bonding bill, revive history museum project

Governor vetoes 3 bills, including giving tax break on Social Security


BUSINESS / ECONOMY


NorthWestern to replace 43K streetlights with new LED lights

MT entrepreneurs hope to alleviate state's childcare shortage

Brewers making switch from bottles to cans due to cost, competition

State regulators OK expansion of coal mine that feeds Colstrip plants

Bear Paw Mountain ranchers say they produce 'craft beef'

Developer wants to place large solar farm north of Dillon


SPORTS / OUTDOORS 

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Ex-Griz Poehls lands w/ Colts after playing for 4 other NFL teams

Danny Sprinkle faces daunting task in returning Cats to league's elite

Jared Samuelson returning to Grizzlies for final year of eligibility

Poop tainting Beartooth's lakes and streams

Great Falls native Josh Huestis says he's back on free agent market

Griz coach DeCuire officially signs new 3-year deal with UM

UM's Cy Sirmon finishes spring practice by proposing to girlfriend


OPINION

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Reform of state's DUI laws a must

State must stop hiding settlements from taxpayers

Don't circumvent the PSC on Colstrip case

State parks need a $3 fee hike

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



FEATURES


Great Falls airport boasts impressive display of model airplanes

Tony Saracelli's last run in the Bridger Mountains

Bozeman car collector taking his rare Buick to shows across US

Forest Service studies changing landscape with 'retake' photo project

Christopher Paolini returns to Livingston library to promote latest book

Outfitter Roland Cheek reflects on a lifetime in the backcountry

Visitor center OK'd for Little Bighorn Battlefield, but funding uncertain


CALENDAR​​

An overall guide to Montana's concert scene this year

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

Red Ants Pants Festival includes several Grammy Awards winners

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

Send tips to editor@montanabuzz.com