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Journal Archives

Rawlins Faces Civil Rights Suit Over Police Shooting

The City of Rawlins is facing a civil rights lawsuit after two of its police officers shot and killed a man in 2015. The suit claims the Rawlins Police Department’s decision not to discipline, retrain, or fire the two officers reveal policies that tolerate excessive force.

Police shot and killed John Randall Veach in a Rawlins gas station parking lot when he tried to drive away while being questioned for attempting to sell marijuana. The two officers said they fired their weapons because they feared being killed by Veach’s fleeing vehicle, but the suit alleges that dash cam footage shows neither officer faced any risk of being run over.

Qusair Mohamedbhai is an attorney for the plaintiff, which includes Veach’s ex-wife and two children. Mohamadbhai said the use of deadly force is a result of the Rawlins Police Department’s policies.

“The fact that these officers were not in any way disciplined or fired is very revealing of the systemic issues within Rawlins, that this is par for the course, this is A-OK, that officers will shoot through a side window and execute a man for simply selling a little marijuana,” said Mohamedbhai.

Read more: http://wyomingpublicmedia.org/post/rawlins-faces-civil-rights-suit-over-police-shooting

Barrasso investigates Russian deal with Wyoming uranium facility

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso yesterday requested documents related to the 2010 deal granting Russia control over some American uranium.

The Republican from Wyoming — the nation’s top uranium state — is conducting his own investigation into the Obama administration signing off on a Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corp. subsidiary taking control of Uranium One Inc., a Canadian firm with Wyoming operations.

Recent reporting revived the “scandal” that President Trump invokes to deflect criticism about his own Russian connections.

According to The Hill, Obama officials knew at the time of the deal that the FBI was probing a bribery racket that would lead to the 2015 conviction of a Kremlin-linked uranium executive (Greenwire, Oct. 26).

Read more: http://www.wyofile.com/barrasso-investigates-russian-deal-wyo-uranium-facility/

University of Montana Staff Senate - No more forced cuts

University of Montana staff are doing extra work as their numbers dwindle, but they're not always getting paid for it.

A recent survey noted 245 classified staff out of 354 have taken on duties outside their job descriptions, yet some 82 percent are not earning additional compensation as a result, according to the UM Staff Senate. The Staff Senate created the survey to gather staff perspectives.

Senators discussed the survey Wednesday at a special meeting to review a report for campus priorities. The Staff and Faculty Senates met Wednesday to review President Sheila Stearns' report on setting campus priorities.

Stearns has served as interim president since Royce Engstrom was asked to step down about a year ago. Former GE executive Seth Bodnar — who moved into the president's residence Wednesday — takes over.

Read more: http://missoulian.com/news/local/updated-university-of-montana-staff-senate---no-more/article_64f989f8-8b07-5553-989b-1d76f8bd65c0.html

Council discusses reducing size of Legislature to fund pay raises

Key state lawmakers convened in Bozeman on Wednesday to discuss reducing the number of state representatives and senators to help pay for raises.

The Legislative Council also considered two other options such as pursuing a third-party compensation commission that would set the pay rate for the Legislature. The other option was creating a mechanism like tying the pay to the average weekly wage in Montana.

The Legislative Council is one of four administrative committees within the state’s legislative branch. It is made up of members from both the state’s House and Senate chambers. The council gives direction to legislative services for the efficient operation and improvement of the legislative branch.

Executive Director for the Legislative Services Division Susan Fox presented the three options to the council. The conversation, though, seemed to focus around saving money by reducing the size of the state’s governing body.

Read more: https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/mtleg/council-discusses-reducing-size-of-legislature-to-fund-pay-raises/article_b7114fcd-39e6-5bd0-a6d0-acedf9c381c6.html

Developer scraps Montana wind farm over power price

A Calgary-based energy company said Wednesday it won't build a 21-megawatt wind farm in Montana because it won't be paid enough for the power it generates.

The Public Service Commission approved a price of $23.30 per megawatt hour.

TransAlta wanted $43.63 per megawatt hour for the power; Northwestern Energy, which would have purchased it, proposed paying $13.96.

The price discrepancy had gone to the PSC for mediation.

Stacey Hatcher, TransAlta communications manager, said Wednesday the company can't accept the terms of the power purchase agreement awarded for the New Colony wind farm near Martinsdale because the price makes it economically unfeasible.

Read more: http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/2017/12/13/developer-scraps-montana-wind-farm-over-power-price/948741001/

Montana legislative panel wants quick study of state tax structure

HELENA – The Legislative Finance Committee on Monday expressed interest in working with the Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee on reviewing the state’s tax structure, however members balked at waiting until 2019 to do a formal study, saying they want to put it on a faster track.

Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee members sent a letter Dec. 5 to the Legislative Finance Committee asking that they be included in any review of the state’s tax structure. They also said they expected that they would ask the Legislature in its 2019 session to approve a study.

Finance committee members said that wasn’t fast enough.

Sen. Jon Sesso, D-Butte, said spending 2018 to decide what to study in 2019 and 2020 “isn’t working for me.”

Read more: http://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/2017/12/11/montana-legislative-panel-wants-quick-study-state-tax-structure/942860001/

Montana ranks among the most dangerous states to work in, and officials don't know why

Montana ranks among the worst states in the country for workplace injuries and illnesses, for reasons that continue to elude state officials.

“We spend a lot of time considering and thinking about whether there’s uniqueness in Montana that contributes to us having this higher rate than other states,” said Eric Strauss, the administrator for the Employment Relations Division within the state Department of Labor and Industry. “Those efforts have not surfaced anything specifically. It’s not a specific industry. It’s not an age demographic.”

Montana has spent more than a decade atop the national rankings for its rate of workplace injuries in the private sector.

In 2016, 4.2 injuries were reported for every 100 full-time workers in Montana — a slight improvement over the rate of 4.3 reported in 2015, and the fourth straight year in which that number has decreased, according to a report released by the Department of Labor and Industry in November

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/montana-ranks-among-the-most-dangerous-states-to-work-in/article_851635f4-5bc2-533d-b2e8-a27d4da79303.html#tracking-source=home-top-story

University of Montana's program "prioritization" goes off the rails

Faculty groups of seemingly all stripes are questioning the legitimacy of the controversial prioritization process used to rank University of Montana programs as interim President Sheila Stearns prepares to decide what to cut and what to punt to her successor during her final few weeks in office.

The process, conducted on an expedited timeline, prompted members of the administration and the campus task force in charge of prioritization to acknowledge its limitations at the outset. In recent days, however, task force members have doubted whether the effort has achieved even its most modest ambitions. Other critics are hinting at a legal challenge that, if successful, would invalidate the entire eight-month process.

The task force’s final report all but called the process a failure, stating that its design prevented members from locating “the most basic of inefficiencies or opportunities to restructure existing programs in ways that make our university more cost effective and dynamic.”

In the eyes of Paul Haber, task force member and University Faculty Association president, the findings, which placed 400-plus programs into ranked categories, are not reliable enough to prescribe lasting budget decisions.

Read more: http://missoulanews.com/news/um-s-program-prioritization-goes-off-the-rails/article_2874562c-dadb-11e7-bc9b-83822f33bd6b.html

Dallas Fed CEO: Two big issues for U.S. and Texas: improve workforce development and early childhood

Two big issues for U.S. and Texas: improve workforce development and early childhood literacy

MCALLEN, RGV – A great way to improve workforce development is for business leaders to spend one lunch hour a week in school reading to kids.

That’s the view of Robert S. Kaplan, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Kaplan gave his views on improving literacy among students and the importance of workforce training at the recent Border Economic Development and Entrepreneurship Symposium. Hosted by the Dallas Fed, UT-Rio Grande Valley’s Robert C. Vackar College of Business & Entrepreneurship, and McAllen Chamber of Commerce, the event took place at the Embassy Suites in McAllen.

Kaplan took questions from Marie T. Mora, associate vice provost for faculty diversity at UTRGV, and from those in the audience. He also held a news conference with reporters.

Read more: http://riograndeguardian.com/kaplan-two-big-issues-for-u-s-and-texas-improve-workforce-development-and-early-childhood-literacy/

Dallas Fed CEO: We must be careful not to stoke anti-US fervor in Mexico

MCALLEN, RGV – Robert S. Kaplan, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, is concerned that some of the rhetoric coming out of the United States may result in Mexico electing an anti-American president next year.

Mexicans go to the polls on July 1, 2018. According to some polls, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who leads the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party, is the front-runner ahead of next year’s presidential election.

Kaplan gave his views on anti-Mexican rhetoric, trade with Mexico, immigration and the value of the peso at the Border Economic Development and Entrepreneurship Symposium hosted by the Dallas Fed, UT-Rio Grande Valley’s Robert C. Vackar College of Business & Entrepreneurship, and McAllen Chamber of Commerce. He took questions from Marie T. Mora, associate vice provost for faculty diversity at UTRGV, and from those in the audience. He also held a news conference with reporters.

Asked by Mora and renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Kaplan said: “My concern is, I think it is a constructive thing for us to be leveling the playing field and renegotiating trade agreements. I think some of these other issues and the rhetoric associated with them, my fear is, when you go to Mexico, they have an election coming up in July of 2018 and I would not want to see a situation where in order to get elected president of Mexico, you need to be anti-America, anti-American.”

Read more: http://riograndeguardian.com/dallas-fed-ceo-we-must-be-careful-not-to-stoke-anti-us-fervor-in-mexico/
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