Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Belgrade Fall Festival parade






This past Saturday, I marched (rode in my convertible campaign-mobile) in the Belgrade Fall Festival parade, as I have the past few years. Thought I'd post some pictures from the event! Haley, Jane, Kristen, and Polly were in JP t-shirts and gave away balloons and candy all along the route; Barb drove, and Joker, the parade dog, rode shotgun and gained, I hope, the dog vote! The Belgrade Fall Festival is a great small-town autumn event, with the parade, vendors in the park, and the baron-o'-beef dinner at the firehouse. Vote well, Belgrade festival-goers!



Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Week in Review, Aug 30-Sept 5, 2008

Everyone, it's been another busy week. Here's what I've been doing:

Saturday, August 30, I worked with the MSU Bobcat Football Stat Crew. I've been on the stat crew for 19 years, and I input all the plays into a program from which we print reports, feed stats to TV while they broadcast the game, and generate the data that's the NCAA record of the game. MSU beat Adams State in the home opener, 59-3. For more, see my post from Saturday, August 30.

After the game, I resumed my work of getting more details on a proposed land swap in Madison County of elk hunting habitat proposed by a landowner and the US Forest Service. I've been in contact with the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest rangers and staff, with our US Senators offices, with Montana Dept of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, the DNRC, and sporting groups. The first notices went out about a month ago, and public meetings will be held about the proposal; I've gotten more info on the parcel proposed in the Tobacco Root Mountains for the trade, and I've heard from hunters intent on keeping parcels with public access for hunting.

Sunday I attended the Bridger Canyon Property Owners Association annual picnic, where much of the conversation was about

proposed oil and gas leases on state land sections within or adjacent to Bridger Canyon Zoning District. I'm bird-dogging more information all the time about how tracts are nominated, why people weren't notified, how value is assessed, etc. For more, read my post from Tuesday, Sept 2.

On Monday, Labor Day, I wrote an article for the Bozeman Business and Professional Women newsletter and reviewed the packet for the Bozeman Planning Board meeting (I've served on the Planning Board for eight years, four as chair; also on the Zoning Commission, and on the Board of Adjustment, which hears applications for variances, deviations, and relaxations from Bozeman code). I also researched a project in the northern part of my district proposed near Bridger Creek Golf Course.

Tuesday began with work on the campaign, then included meetings with volunteers, phone conferences with state agency staff at the Capitol, and review of the proposed land use map for Wednesday's Planning Board meeting. I also wrote a letter of support for Montana Shakespeare in the Parks to the Montana Arts Council. I've been a long-time supporter of Shakespeare in the Parks; it's a respected and most appreciated cultural effort for Montanans statewide every summer, and there's nothing else like it that travels town-to-town offering free performances!

Wednesday started with a morning meeting with supporters. Afterward, I contacted Judge Bruce Loble at the Montana Water Court about language proposed in the revised Subdivision Review chapter of the Bozeman growth policy, the 2020 Plan. Montana law is very specific about abandonment of water rights

or water user facilities, and Judge Loble and the fine staff at the Water Court will help me formulate language for the growth policy that's compliant with state law. I'm known in certain circles as the "Water Wonk", and worked hard in the 2007 session on water law. I co-wrote and co-sponsored a bill with Republican representative Walt McNutt of Sidney to protect water quality and water quantity in closed basins like Gallatin Valley, and even in the contentious 2007 session, we got our bill passed. Later Wednesday, I corresponded with a group that wants to include language in the growth policy about mobile home parks, manufactured homes, and affordable housing; we met Friday. At 7 pm, I chaired the Planning Board meeting. We reviewed the chapters and land use map and made an appointment to the committee that's working with Prospera to write an economic development plan for Bozeman.

On Thursday, the day began with a meeting with supporters and volunteers, then a meeting with Montana Women Vote, an organization that focuses on registering voters and dispersing information to voters in the block least likely to vote: single working women. Thursday was Bob's birthday (my loved one) and so I took Bob to a birthday dinner!

Friday began with the proceedings of the Gallatin Valley Treatment Court, a program offered to people convicted of drug crimes. Over 18 months, Judge Salvagni, the Treatment Court team, and many supportive people teach participants how to lead sober, responsible lives. Friday was a special day; a participant graduated from the program, and a former member, now clean and sober for more than 1,500 days, returned to Treatment Court to tell members that he knows how difficult the program is, and how they feel, but that he's living proof of the success of the program. Treatment Court is a strict regimen, and at first, it feels punitive to participants, but it succeeds in giving members the tools by which to overcome their addictions, learn responsible behaviors, and become happy, healthy, and productive citizens. The program is a lot of work on the part of every member, but it truly enables them to change their lives and not be relegated to the Corrections system. The program and the work and dedication of its staff and members gives participants the discipline, guidance, and encouragement to truly change for the better. I couldn't be prouder to support Treatment Court, both as a Friend of Treatment Court and as a legislator; last session, the legislature budgeted money for courts all around Montana. It's leaps and bounds better to help people regain their footing through Treatment Court than to sentence and incarcerate, although I know that's needed, too; but the members of this program are those who've done dramatic work improving themselves, their lives, regaining the trust of family and employers, and recharting their courses.

Friday afternoon, another Planning Board member and I met with residents of mobile home parks to discuss how to include supportive language for mobile and manufactured homes in the Bozeman 2020 Growth Policy. Friday night, I met with campaign supporters and organizers.

More soon. I'm working hard all the time, and I love the work. If I can help you, email me: pomnicho@montanadsl.net

The Week in Review, Aug 30-Sept 6, 2008

Everyone, it's been another busy week. Here's what I've been working on:
Last Saturday, I worked on the MSU Bobcat Stat Crew for the home opener against Adams State. We had trouble printing our game reports, but the Bobcats prevailed, so all's well! Go, 'Cats!

On Sunday, I went to the Bridger Canyon Property Owners' Association picnic and talked about the proposed oil and gas leases on state lands in and adjacent to Bridger Canyon Zoning District. I'm bird-dogging more information all the time about how tracts are nominated, why people weren't notified, how value is assessed, etc.

Monday, I got caught up on emails and submitted an article for the Bozeman Business and Professional Women's newsletter, emailed neighbors of a development north of Bridger Road, and followed up on a proposed land swap in Madison County of some prime elk hunting lands. I also wrote a letter of support for Montana Shakespeare in the Parks to the Montana Arts Council. I've been a long-time supporter of Shakespeare in the Parks; it's a respected and most appreciated cultural effort for Montanans statewide every summer, and there's nothing else like it that travels town-to-town offering free performances!

Tuesday, I reviewed the packet for the Bozeman Planning Board meeting, met with constituents about tax refunds, and scheduled a meeting with residents of mobile home parks about language that should be included in Bozeman's growth policy update. Besides that, I ran a bunch of errands to the post office, printer, etc.

Wednesday began with a meeting with my fellow representative, Franke Wilmer, and fine supporters of ours. Later, I contacted Judge Bruce Loble at the Montana Water Court about language proposed for the Bozeman growth policy update. Montana law has clear regulations for abandoning water rights and water user facilities, and Judge Loble and all the fine people at the Water Court will help me formulate language in the growth policy that complies with state law. I've worked really hard on water law and water rights. Last session, I co-wrote and co-sponsored a bill with a Republican representative on water use in closed basins (like the Gallatin Valley) and wrote an article about the new water law for NewWest.net. My moniker in certain circles is the "Water Wonk"!

Wednesday night, I chaired the Planning Board meeting (I've served on the Planning Board for eight years, four as chair). For more than a year, the Planning Board has held public meetings, citizen panels, and land use sessions to update the growth policy; Wednesday, we reviewed the chapters on Subdivision Review and Land Use (with a revised land use map).

Thursday began with a meeting of supporters and Democratic staff; after that, I attended a Montana Women Vote meeting at the library. Montana Women Vote is a group that focuses on registering voters and getting information to voters. The emphasis is on an important but typically non-voting block of the population: single working women. The voter registration effort before the primary election was effective, registering more than 500 new voters; MWV is continuing voter registration, and making its voter guide for the November election. Also on Thursday, phone calls and phone conferences with state agencies in Helena.

Friday, I attended the Gallatin County Treatment Court proceedings in Judge Salvagni's courtroom. The Treatment Court offers its members an 18-month-long program of support, supervision, and methods by which to rehabilitate from their addictions, make restitution to the court, and stay out of the Corrections system. It's the most effective way to help people break their addictions, destructive behavior, and get back on course to be happy, healthy, productive citizens. I couldn't be prouder to support the Treatment Court program and its participants and staff. It's truly remarkable the dramatic changes that people make in their lives in the Treatment Court program. It is life-changing for the members, their families, and their fellow citizens. It's hard work, and at the beginning, it feels punitive to members, but the skills that they learn carry farther than the 18 month program; yesterday, a participant graduated--clean, sober, and grateful--and a former member visited the court with more than 1,500 days sober to tell participants he knows where they are, what they're going through, and that they can be successful. Unfortunately, not all members succeed in the program, but they're given the chance and the tools, and even those who revert back and are remanded to Corrections report later that they knew the tools to use to get through that experience.

Friday afternoon, I met with members of the mobile home community to discuss language that could be included in the growth policy for manufactured homes, mobile home parks, and affordable housing.

Later, I met with campaign supporters, caught up on email, etc. Sometime, I've got to find some time to do laundry...

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

SCHWAG! from the Democratic National Convention

Before I left Denver last Friday, I packed up a box of the wonderful convention memorabilia I'd collected over those four days. Wonderful stuff, and it arrived home today!


The campaign buttons are great; there's the one with Sox, the Clintons' cat, draped over the White House, with the caption, "Send Sox Clinton back to the White House 2008". Come on, everybody, Sox just wants to go home! And the button I bought for Bob, the rocker: Obama in the style of the AC/DC logo!


There's the commemorative Limited Convention Edition Kraft Macaroni and Cheese--jeez, I loved it before, but now that they've done a Democratic Convention edition, I love it even more--as well as great campaign buttons, t-shirts, an Obama "Time for a Change" watch for my dad, etc., etc.

All wonderful stuff by which to remember the Democratic National Convention. Nice.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Bridger Canyon annual picnic Sunday

Bridger Canyon, on the east side of the Bridger Mountain Range, is a pristine and beautiful area in my legislative district, and close to my heart: I served on the Bridger Canyon Volunteer Fire Dept. for ten years as a Firefighter/EMT.




On Sunday, the Bridger Canyon Property Owners Association had its annual picnic, and I saw lots of friends. It was a lovely late summer day; sunny, but the air was cool, and the leaves are starting to turn.

Talk centered mostly around the renewed proposition of oil and gas leases on state lands in Bridger Canyon. The State Lands Board deferred the auction of the leases from September 9 to December, but this area has fought oil, gas, and coalbed methane (CBM) drilling before, and the Bozeman Pass Zoning District formed and passed its zoning around the CBM threat two years ago (after a two-year process). (See my post from May 2006.)

Now, someone has nominated three sections of state lands in Bridger Canyon for oil and gas leases. I spoke with the head of the Dept. of Natural Resources and Conservation and also with the Governor's office two weeks ago when we first heard about the proposal. On some of the sections nominated for leases, people farm and ranch; other sections are sensitive lands or restricted from much activity at all because of slope or critical lands. Bridger Canyon residents, none of whom were notified--not even those living on the parcels in question--went to the State Lands Board meeting, and are working on language for their zoning district. I'm working on getting details of state lands leases, the nomination process, determining the value of a resource, notification to residents and adjacent landowners, etc.

In the 2007 Legislative session, I requested bills to address split estates (separate owners of surface land rights and underground mineral rights for the same parcel of land). I proposed legislation for oil and gas companies to post bonds for reclamation of surface lands and for polluting ground water, for required surface use agreements for access to and occupancy of drilling sites, for defined water rights for CBM development, and for compensation to landowners for loss of surface use to oil and gas operations. None of the bills passed, but the policies are right, and I'll bring the bills again.

I'm proud to protect Bridger Canyon residents from dangers to public health and safety. For most of my experience, that's been in service on the fire department. Now, it's protecting the land, water quality, and character of the canyon from what could be inappropriate exploration for and extraction of oil and gas.

Monday, September 01, 2008

More from Democratic National Convention

Friends, as I sort through photos and video from the Democratic National Convention in Denver, which wrapped up three days ago, I'll post some of the best.

On Wednesday night, the night of Joe Biden's acceptance speech, I was seated in the club level at the Pepsi Center. Michelle Obama was seated DIRECTLY below me! Here are some unique overhead shots. (How many Secret Service agents do you suppose had me tagged as Public Enemy Number One that night?!?)


The first photo is Michelle Obama with Barack's uncle, a World War II veteran who helped liberate the Jewish detainees at Buchenwald. Amazing.

And Michelle Obama with one of the Biden signs that we all held at the Pepsi Center. Biden's speech was amazing; a video with his family history and accomplishments in the US Senate preceded his talk, and his son, Attorney General Beau Biden, introduced Joe. (Beau is a reservist, about to be deployed to Iraq. He asked the crowd to take care of his dad while he's away.)

Here's a video that my fellow rep Julie French and I made the first night at the Pepsi Center: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4a7qpQgSM8

More soon!