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Local Issues Forum (c396)

Bozeman Braces for Another School Bond Vote

Here we go again. Cantankerous Bozeman seems poised to leap into another battle as mail ballots go out this week for a bond issue to supplement funds already voted to build a new Chief Joseph Middle School. Or maybe not. When you listen to the explanations of the need and look at the designs, it seems a slam dunk. If we don’t approve this bond issue, education for our sixth, seventh, and eighth graders will take a giant step backward and Bozeman will no longer lead the state of Montana in educational standards and accomplishments. But here’s what’s likely to set the talk radio crowd to jabbering: we just passed a $55 million bond issue in 2005. That was to renovate the high school, buy land for a future second high school, and buy land and build a new middle school (the current Chief Joseph Middle School.) Now the schools are coming back to the well because of mistakes made in that earlier bond issue. And some folks are grumbling about punishing someone for those mistakes.

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Montana Newspaper Editor Calls Bozeman ‘Butt Ugly’

Bozeman, Montana has always assumed an air of superiority when referencing Livingston— that smaller neighboring, bare-knuckled, blue-collar, railroad and river town on the eastern side of Bozeman Pass along Interstate 90. Back and forth across the Pass, the friendly civic jeering has gone on for years, like crowds at a high school football game heckling one another from opposite sides of the field. Now, in another act of attempted one upsmanship, a fresh barb has been cast at Bozeman in the form of an editorial hand grenade lobbed by Stephen Matlow, managing editor of the Livingston Enterprise. "Once a beautiful town in an ideal setting," Matlow wrote, "it has now turned into something butt-ugly where any Californian would feel comfortable."

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10 Commandments To Be Reinstated

Another chapter of the separation of church and state had its revival last night as Bozeman City Commissioners decided to replace the 10 Commandments in the downtown Soroptimist Park. For a in depth look at the dispute, take a look at NewWest contributor Marjorie Smith’s article on the park’s historic relationship with the 10 commandments. With 37 comments, the replacement or removal of the monument became one of the most publicly commented issues in front of the current City Commissioners, along with garbage transportation and affordable housing.

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Has Your Ville Come Of Age As A ‘Latte Town’?

Heaven knows that folks in the go-go West love their cups of morning java. We are as addicted to caffeine as we are adrenaline-lusted for feats of athletic hedonism. But is your community a "Latte Town"? Nine years ago, political commentator David Brooks penned a wonderfully sneering piece for The Weekly Standard in which he created a new social category for certain lifestyle communities. Like De Tocqueville, Brooks has a special fetish for traveling through the hinters of America identifying trends based upon patterns of conspicuous consumption that he believes translate into expressions of conservative or Liberal ideals. I'll get to the punch line later but meantime, read on:

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Ten Commandments Flap Warms Bozeman

While the Pope’s visit to Turkey focuses world attention on issues of religious tolerance, we’ve got a hot debate going on right here in beautiful (and downright chilly) Bozeman. This IS Bozeman after all, where everything is controversial. But the current flap over the Ten Commandments and whether they should be re-installed in a downtown park seems to have put us smackdab into a central national debate: Is this a Christian nation after all? Do we really believe in the separation of church and state?

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Praying to Ullr

Snow’s falling across much of northwest Montana today as a wet Pacific storm system passes through the region. In some areas total snow accumulations of up to 16 inches are expected above 4,000 feet. On the Montana-Idaho border, Lookout Pass – one of the few options Montana skiers and riders have right now – received 10 inches overnight with more on the way. (Their website says an “epic powder day” is in store.) Here in Missoula, with Thanksgiving behind us and a couple fluffy inches blanketing the valley floor, it finally feels like winter. Discovery Ski Area is set to open this weekend while Big Mountain, which was hoping to, has pushed back their opening until Dec. 2 for lack of snow. But you can help their cause by praying to Ullr at Big Mountain’s 34th annual Pray for Snow Party at the Bierstube Saturday night. Read more about it here. This week’s Missoula Independent features a story by Jessie McQuillan about what a few Montana ski areas are doing to “conserve, diversify and compensate” in the face of a changing climate that threatens the industry. McQuillan chats with the owners of Montana Snowbowl, Big Mountain, and the CEO of Bitterroot Resort. Have a look.

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Expulsion Of Three Students Causes Livingston, Montana To Ponder Its Quaint, Innocent Identity

"I've never felt in Livingston so harsh a reaction, that's been so vitriolic, downright venomous. It isn't the supportive response of a community. It's a negative chastisement of the schools in general and individuals in the school. It's almost like a feeding frenzy." —Livingston, Montana English teacher Roger Powalisz This Montana river town romanticized nationwide for its enclave of novelists, movie stars, trout anglers, and visual artists is today grappling with a recent outbreak of juvenile delinquency at the local high school. Over the past month, three students at Park High School in Livingston, Montana have been expelled. Two of the cases involved students bringing guns to campus and the latest stemmed from a teenager allegedly punching a teacher. "In addition to the expulsion," writes Bozeman Chronicle reporter Scott McMillion in a story titled Third expulsion at Park High raises questions, "Principal Eric Messerli drew shock and ridicule last month when he gave a male student a wedgie at a soccer match, an event that attracted press coverage and provided fodder for comedians as far away as England." These events happened on top of a recent homicide in the community and the discovery of a local teen's body who disappeared last winter after setting out on a long walk along the Yellowstone River drainage. The latter was ruled accidental and attributed to exposure to the cold elements. The recent events at the high school have everyone in the community talking.

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Like Many Counterparts, Bozeman’s Community Food Co-op Finds Strength In Numbers

The Community Food Co-op in Bozeman has, in many ways, become a flagship for the co-op movement inside the inner West. Thriving within an atmosphere of enormous competitive pressure exerted by national grocery chains, including Wal-Mart, Co-Op General Manager Kelly Dean Wiseman says that an emerging unified front among many different co-ops is leveraging buying power. It is resulting in lower prices, better and safer product choices, as well as giving individual stores a greater say in how organic and homegrown foods can change the way America eats and shops. In his essay which follows, Wiseman discuses the purchasing power of the National Co-op Grocers Association which ranks second only to Whole Foods in its ability to deliver healthy food to the marketplace every day.

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New Schools or New Flowers?

It will be a great day when the schools get the money and the city needs to hold a bake sale to pay for flower boxes on the sidewalk. Yes, I know that quote isn’t correct, but with the new urban renewal plan placed on the Seventh Avenue Corridor, the future tax funds from that area’s school district will be captured and redirected into improvements for that particular area only. These funds are geared towards increasing business in the area, or revitalizing the area. Interestingly enough, simultaneously in last night’s Bozeman City Commission meeting, they approved to hold a bond election for $5.75 million to cover the shortages in the money needed to build a new Chief Joseph Middle School.

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The Forgotten House Race: Lindeen vs. Rehberg

Missed the Lindeen/Rehberg debate last Friday night in Poplar (pop. 881)? You're not alone. No major media outlet covered it. That's the way under-the-radar Rehberg likes it. Because at two weeks out, the race for Montana's sole U.S. House seat has the potential to heat up. Blame it on other Congressmen's missteps but many once-secure Republican incumbents are starting to get nervous. The Monica Lindeen (D) and Dennis Rehberg (R) contest pits a grassroots candidate against an incumbent going for his fourth term. The polls have Rep. Rehberg ahead 20 points, so Rehberg's strategy of staying out of the limelight seems to be working.

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