Sunday, November 30, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
The Bureau of Land Management is in a tight spot. They’re saddled with oodles of wild horses from across the west and the price to hold the mustangs is mounting.
What’s a government bureaucracy to do?
The bulk of the wild horse appropriation - totaling millions of dollars - is spent putting the captured critters out to pasture in BLM-run facilities.
The BLM could legally euthanize the horses or send them to slaughter. But if they do, the public will scream bloody hell (Ed. note: one example).
Congress’ cops, the Government Accountability Office, is leaning on the BLM to fix the problem. But the answer is as elusive as a politician’s campaign pledge.
This is where the public comes in. If we, the taxpayers (remember, we’re the ones supposedly calling the shots) unearth a solution, we can make the BLM listen.
I know. Getting a federal bureaucracy to heed our advice is like fighting city hall on a colossal scale. However, I believe the BLM people want to do a good job, but money is tight and the answer demands some tough decisions.
Wild horses are the bomb. Watching mustangs dash across the prairie is a cool glimpse of nature’s choreography in action.
I don’t have the answer, but I know we must find a solution and convince the decision-makers in our nation’s capital to listen.
Dig the pic. My pal, Ken Martin, who takes folks on wild horse tours in the McCullough Peaks, snapped these mustangs wallowing in the mud at the water hole.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I think they're wildly off-base.
The Times, which advocates that all snowmobiles be removed from Yellowstone, says that Lewis' decision to allow 720 daily snowmobiles this season is a "distortion" of Wyoming District Court Judge Clarence Brimmer's Nov. 7 ruling on winter use.
In that decision, Brimmer largely deferred to District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District of Columbia. On Sept. 15, Sullivan had voided Yellowstone's proposed plans, ruling that 540 snowmobiles a day would cause undue environmental damage.
Brimmer said that if had it been up to him, he would have upheld the 540 rule. Not having that option available, he left the rule's vacation in place, and ordered that a temporary 2004 rule be reinstated until the Park Service crafts a new, long-term plan.
The New York Times contends that Lewis manipulated Brimmer's decision. They wrote:
"According to Judge Brimmer’s decision, 'The ruling of the D.C. District Court [shall] remain undisturbed here.'In speaking of "carefully quoting half-sentences," the Times may as well be reprimanding itself.
Judge Brimmer’s intentions are perfectly clear and explicitly stated. But by carefully quoting half-sentences from the decision, Suzanne Lewis, Yellowstone’s superintendent, claims just the opposite. She says that he is directing the Park Service to scrap the current plan and revert to the formula of several years ago, which allowed 720 snowmobiles a day into the park."
Anyone who's followed the issue knows exactly what Judge Brimmer's intentions have been in the past - keeping snowmobiles in the Park.
From Brimmer's decision:
"IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the D.C. District Court's invalidation of the final rule shall remain undisturbed by this Court."That's where the New York Times editorial board apparently stopped reading. But Brimmer continued.
"IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the NPS shall reinstate the 2004 temporary rule until such time as it can promulgate an acceptable rule to take its place."As per Brimmer's orders, that 2004 temporary rule permits up to 720 snowmobiles a day.
How following the judge's ruling to the letter is a distortion of his decision, we ignorant Westerners may never know.
There are serious, thoughtful arguments made on both sides of the snowmobiling issue. However, they are not being advanced by the New York Times.
Photo courtesy of Jim Peaco, NPS. Note: This version of the post removes a portion regarding Park County's borders.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Left out of that article were many of the side stories he shared over the course of the conversation. Fortunately, I had a microphone along for the trip.
Here's a roughly 7-minute clip in which Al talks about his relationship with the media - in particular, recounting a tussle with the late Charles Levendosky of the Casper Star Tribune.
We're thinking of making audio clips a regular (perhaps, weekly?) podcast thing, and before we make too many plans, it would sure help to know if it's something you (yes, you!) are interested in.
If you're so moved, weigh in with a comment below, drop by the office sometime, give us a ring, or shoot me an email. As usual, feedback in any form is more than welcome.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Rather than use a plain "This is a test" message, the Board of Commissioners decided to use the test to remind folks about the Bureau of Land Management resource planning meetings in Cody and Powell on Wednesday and Thursday.
In the test, around half of the County's phones weren't reached. If you were one of those unreached folks, and want to hear it for yourself, the audio message is playable below.
As a side note, the comment deadline on the BLM's resource management planning has been extended to Nov. 24.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
As you're hopefully aware, the Bureau of Land Management is putting together a new Resource Management Plan for the Big Horn Basin's federal lands. The Tribune's story on the process can be found here, and the BLM has a planning webpage loaded with info here.
Basically, a "Resource Management Plan" is a document that lays out everything that can or can't be done on federal land. That ranges from where you can hunt & fish, to what land is available for oil drilling, to which roads will be maintained.
The document will guide BLM actions for the next 15 to 20 years. It will take the BLM a couple years to put the plan together, but only until next Monday (the 17th) can you freely weigh in with your opinions.
Tomorrow (Thursday, Nov. 13), from 3 to 8 p.m. in the conference room of Americas Best Value Inn, the BLM is hosting an open house-type meeting. You can drop in and share your thoughts and fire away with questions at any time in there.
Comments collected at tomorrow's meeting - along with those collected from across the Basin - will largely determine what options the BLM will consider in their planning.
Commissioners have been doing their best to get raise awareness of the meetings. They've set up a blog (here), commissioned an environmental consultant to survey folks' land-use priorities (fill it out here), and even tried cold-calling just about everyone in the county who has a phone (see page five in tomorrow's Trib).
Residents apparently got the message one way or another - word has it that the meeting in Cody today was standing-room only. I'm hoping Powell will see a similarly massive turnout, but if you can't make it, you can send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to PO Box 119, Worland, WY, 82401-0119 until Monday.
If you have questions, you can contact Caleb Hiner, planning Project Manager, at the Worland Field Office, (307) 347-5171.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Throughout the campaign season, the Tribune’s coverage has centered on local politics. As a community newspaper, we have always been and always will be focused on local news.
Due to the historic nature of Obama’s win, the Tribune covered the presidential election in more depth than previous elections — a front page story with local comment, photo, column and editorial. As a newspaper that strives for fair and unbiased reporting, we would not have covered a McCain victory more prominently than Obama’s.
It’s also worth noting that the Tribune’s reporting paralleled or, in most cases, went beyond other Big Horn Basin newspapers’ coverage of Obama’s victory. Most Wyoming community newspapers didn’t include a story or photo of Obama on the front page.
For example, the Jackson Hole News and Guide didn’t include a front page story or photo of Obama’s victory in its Nov. 5 edition, and that was in Teton County, one of two Wyoming counties that voted Obama. Its page one stories fittingly focused on local elections — the hospital board, mayoral and House District 22 seat results.
By making local elections the priority, these Wyoming newspapers are not small-minded nor biased. Rather, they are fulfilling the role of a community newspaper by covering local politics, just as we are.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
11:17 Well, it looks like I missed the boat: despite early returns, the Cynthia Lummis-Gary Trauner contest just wasn't that close. Lummis took the race by 20,000 votes or so. Apologies for the unnecessary hype. Anyway, that's the end of this blogging, but the election breakdown continues in Thursday's Powell Tribune. We'll have stories on pretty much everything that happened tonight and what it means for you. Thanks for following along.
10:01 OK! Looks like we're pretty much final here. Looks like my below recap is holding true. If you want to look at the numbers, check them out at the county's site here. I think I'm calling it a night, though I may pop back on when I get home. Here's the most important number, in my opinion: Lummis carried Park County by 4,919 votes. According to the Secretary of State's web site right now, she's only up by 2,400 votes or so at the moment. Park County could give her perhaps a decisive boost.
9:42 Let's just do a recap:
-McCain handily wins Park County and Wyoming, but loses in the United States.
-John Barrasso and Mike Enzi win handily here and across the state.
-Cynthia Lummis trounced Gary Trauner here by more than 3,000 votes, but golly gee is it tight statewide.
-Scott Mangold looks like he's reclaiming his seat as Powell mayor.
-Floyd Young, Don Hillman, Jim Hillberry are winners of city council seats.
-Dave Bonner handily overcame a write-in campaign by Pat Slater for House District 25.
-Nancy Tia Brown looks to be the new Cody mayor.
-Amendment A, which modernizes Wyoming's oath of office, was approved by 75 percent of Park County voters. Amendment B, however, which changes how citizens can get initiatives and referenda on the ballots (arguably making it harder) only received 48 percent support. That means it failed in Park County.
-District Court Judge Steven Cranfill apparently received the support of a majority of voters to retain his seat on the bench.
-In Cody, voters said no to giving the Cody Conservation District a one mill levy from property taxes.
9:41 Just had a glitch that deleted what I had spent the last 10 minutes writing. Let's try that again.
9:18 Some race numbers with like 93 percent in. Very close to being done.
Cynthia Lummis: 6,655 votes (62 percent)
Gary Trauner: 3,239 votes (30 percent)
With the state race tight, that 3,400 vote difference could prove definitive. Park County's results aren't in yet.
House District 25
Dave Bonner: 2,759 votes (76 percent)
Write-ins: 396 votes (11 percent) NOTE: May not all be for write-in candidate Pat Slater
Scott Mangold: 1,412 (64 percent)
Tim Sapp: 645 (29 percent)
Nancy Tia Brown: 1,984 (57%)
Paul Rankin: 1,253 (36%)
Powell Hospital District:
Mark Kitchen: 2,526 (20%)
Kay Carlson: 2,270 (18%)
Deb Kleinfeldt: 2,200 (17%)
Doug Nissen: 1,681 (13%)
Powell City Council Ward 1
Jim Hillberry: 52%
Shea Reel: 32%
Powell City Council Ward 2
Mark Senn 22%
Floyd Young 68%
Powell City Council Ward 3
Don Hillman 57%
John Sides 31%
9:12 Here comes more numbers. 93 percent of precincts in. Don Hillman looks to have taken Powell City Council seat over John Sides. I'll start posting some numbers. And geez is that Trauner-Lummis race looking tight statewide. But there's still a lot of votes out there. Check it here.
9:03 We're almost there. 90 percent or so of the county's vote is in the books. McCain and Lummis are still holding strong (as are Barrasso and Enzi). Locally, Mayor Mangold, Jim Hillberry, Floyd Young are looking good. Still waiting on council race in ward 3 (Don Hillman and John Sides). Doug Nissen still trails in his bid to keep his Powell Hospital board seat, looks like Deb Kleinfeldt will be taking a seat there. Nancy Tia Brown looks to have all but locked up her spot as Cody mayor, too.
Just heard that national media called the race for Obama. State race between Trauner and Lummis looking tight. It sure isn't here.
8:52 We've got Powell numbers. 22 of 29 precincts are in. That's around three quarters of the county's voters. Looking good for Scott Mangold in the mayoral race and Jim Hillberry in Ward 1. Doug Nissen looks to be in real trouble in his bid for keeping his seat on the Powell Valley Hospital Board. The write-in votes for Pat Slater look like they will fall far short of beating Dave Bonner for House District 25.
Mangold: 468 votes (64 percent)
Tim Sapp: 192 votes (26 percent)
Hillberry: 381 (52 percent)
Shea Reel: 232 (32 percent)
Wards 2 and 3 not in yet.
Powell Hospital Board:
Mark Kitchen: 1,124 (19 percent)
Kay Carlson: 1,008 (17 percent)
Deb Kleinfeldt: 994 (17 percent)
Douglas V. Nissen: 669 (12 percent)
Dave Bonner: 1,124 votes (75 percent)
Write-in: 173 votes (12 percent) PLEASE NOTE: Write-in votes are not necessarily just for Slater
McCain: 6,243 (74 percent)
Obama: 1,976 (23 percent)
8:51 New results, coming in.
8:47 Whoops, slight mix-up with print-outs. 17 of 29 precincts are up over on the county's page. I'll try to track those down, but until then, you can check over there. A total of 4,217 absentee ballots have been received just so far, 3,278 was the previous record. Just heard from Clerk Kelly Jensen that they're hoping to wrap things up by 10:30 p.m. "After that, we'll get cranky," she said to the long-suffering janitorial staff.
8:38 Everything's going super smooth, but no Powell votes yet. Actually, as I type this, Powell's votes have just arrived. Hopefully, we'll get some tallies for Powell sometime soon. Still trying to pin down some kind of a turnout figure.
8:29 No Powell, but some more Cody numbers with some mayor race numbers. This is with 13 precincts of the 29, some 5,526 votes in (45 percent of the county)
Cody mayoral race:
Nancy Tia Brown: 1,669 (57 percent)
Paul E. Rankin: 1,062 (36 percent)
McCain: 4,148 (75 percent)
Obama: 1,245 (23 percent)
Lummis: 3,567 (65 percent)
Trauner: 1,551 (28 percent)
As I mentioned earlier, Enzi and Barrasso have been projected to win. No reason to doubt that here.
Barrasso: 4,448 (80 percent)
Carter: 938 (17 percent)
Enzi: 4,556 (82 percent)
Rothfuss: 850 (15 percent)
8:13 Still waiting for Powell, Ralston, etc. County Information Technology head Mike Conners says, "A lot of votes. More than I've ever seen here."
Since there's a break, I'll post some hard numbers. Remember, these represent the 4,025 Cody folks that are counted so far - roughly a third of all voters.
Barr, Baldwin, Nader, and write-ins: 81
8:10 No Powell numbers are in. Some Cody numbers are, however. 9 precincts of Park County's 29 are in (31 percent). That's 4,025 votes. Lummis is thumping Trauner - 64 percent to 29 percent so far. Herbert has 4 percent. McCain has 75 percent, Obama has 23 percent. Unopposed legislators Colin Simpson, Hank Coe, and Pat Childers are doing fine, as are the only commission candidates - Dave Burke and incumbent Bucky Hall. District Judge Steven Cranfill has 60 percent of voters backing him, with 30 percent opposed.
7:52 According to the major media outlets, things are looking grim for Wyoming's McCain nation-wide, as polling had previously indicated. However, the folks who flooded all of the Tribune's staff email addresses yesterday disagree. They've predicted a landslide victory for McCain. I'll write a fuller explanation of that weirdness sometime later tonight or tomorrow. Still waiting for results. I can hear election folks feeding ballots right now.
7:45 Starting a bit earlier than expected. No results for Park County just yet. But turnout's looking more than incredible. They ran out of ballots over at NWC. Seriously.
However, despite no Park County votes, here's some media projections I heard on Wyoming Public Radio: Sen. John McCain has been projected as the Wyoming winner in the presidential race. Further, Sen. Mike Enzi and Sen. John Barrasso have been projected as winners as well.
The McCain projection came at like 7:01, like, before a single ballot had been counted. Kinda silly if you ask me.
If all goes according to plan, the Trib blog will have Park County results online before anyone else - including the county. I'll try to keep an eye on state-wide results, too.
If you have any election predictions, or a particular race you want us to focus on, weigh in down in the comments section.
My first prediction: county voter turnout will surpass Clerk Kelly Jensen's 95% prediction. Help prove me right by getting out and voting, if you haven't already. You've got til 7 p.m.
At left, first-time voter Kayla Myer registers to cast a ballot.
Monday, November 3, 2008
For example, when I reference 'Pakr County,' the appropriate response is to shake your head at my incompetence and perhaps have a little chuckle - not tell all your friends.
However, some errors are unintentionally funny enough that they become necessary to share.
We ran across one of those the other day at the office. It comes from the League of Women Voters' Pro/Con pamphlet on Wyoming's proposed constitutional amendments.Laugh, then read the flyer all the way through and figure out how you're going to vote.