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Gender: Male
Hometown: South Texas. most of my life I lived in Austin and Dallas
Home country: United States
Current location: Bryan, Texas
Member since: Sun Aug 14, 2011, 03:57 AM
Number of posts: 85,593

About Me

Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

U.S. government sues tiny town's water district over arsenic, radium

Just as the town of Jackson — population 28 — gets ready to fix its water quality problems, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the town’s water and sewer district for the years the unincorporated town has been out of compliance.

The U.S. Department of Justice sued the town’s water and sewer district Wednesday in federal court for 16 claims of contamination exceedances, failure to monitor and failure to provide public notice.

The contamination includes arsenic, radium and radioactive substances. The district has also failed to monitor for a host of contamination, including asbestos, according to the court document.

But Beaverhead County commissioner Mike McGinley said the suit comes just as Jackson is about to fix the issues. The town has received $588,000 in grant money within the last year to tackle the problem. Some of the money came from last year’s legislative session, McGinley said. Another grant came through a federal community development block grant. Work is to begin this summer to drill three new wells to get the town back into water quality compliance, he said.

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/government-and-politics/u-s-government-sues-tiny-town-s-water-district-over/article_db441c3c-352a-5165-9e7f-a65039c3706b.html

Montana Democrats Accuse Company of Illegal Signature Gathering

HELENA — The Montana Democratic Party is accusing a company of breaking state campaign laws by gathering signatures for a petition that qualified the Green Party for this year’s elections.

The complaint filed Thursday to the state commissioner of political practices against Advanced Micro Targeting Inc. says the Las Vegas-based company conducted electioneering work without the proper reporting or disclosures.

The Green Party turned in more than 10,000 signatures to the secretary of state’s office earlier this month to qualify for the ballot just before the candidate filing period ended.

Montana Democratic Party executive director Nancy Keenan called Advanced Micro Targeting “an out-of-state political firm with ties to the Republican Party.”

Read more: http://flatheadbeacon.com/2018/03/29/montana-democrats-accuse-company-illegal-signature-gathering/

US plant that destroys chemical weapons beset by troubles

DENVER (AP) — A highly automated, multibillion-dollar plant in Colorado that destroys U.S. chemical weapons is over budget, behind schedule and bedeviled by troubles that could worsen the danger to workers.

But when the Army said this month it wants to spend millions extra installing more traditional technology to help the beleaguered plant and reduce worker risk, public reaction was more resignation than anger.

“Yes, the process has been too slow and too expensive, but this is the price paid to protect the workers and neighbors of this site,” said Marco Kaltofen, a nuclear and civil engineering researcher at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts who has worked on chemical weapons destruction and testing methods.

Defense contractor Bechtel Inc. spent 12 years designing, building and testing the plant at the Pueblo Chemical Depot to disassemble and neutralize 780,000 decades-old shells filled with liquid mustard agent stored at the site.

Read more: https://www.apnews.com/c469fdb851194aaca6344d0513ec475e/US-plant-that-destroys-chemical-weapons-beset-by-troubles

Appeal set to begin for former Wyoming sheriff convicted of three felonies

PINEDALE – The Wyoming Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on April 17 for and against a former sheriff’s appeal of his 2016 felony convictions in Ninth District Court.

Stephen R. Haskell, of Big Piney, filed his appeal brief on Jan. 16 with the Wyoming Supreme Court. In it, his attorneys Michael Bennett and Timothy Newcomb argue his constitutional right to a fair trial was denied due to a biased jury.

In a previously unrevealed twist, it says a juror sent a “startling” note to the judge – after the prosecution rested and before Haskell’s defense began – saying he had “heard enough.”

The State Attorney General’s Office replied that it was too late to address potential juror bias. Also, it states, that juror’s bias could have just as easily been in favor of Haskell, the brief says, regardless of the jury’s oath to remain impartial through the trial.

Read more: http://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/appeal-set-to-begin-for-former-wyoming-sheriff-convicted-of/article_56627634-e614-57d7-bb39-412950f964d9.html

EPA head Scott Pruitt visits major Wyoming coal mine, preaches end of 'war on fossil fuels'

Two days after a crowd of 300 gathered in Gillette to debate the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate emissions at the cost of the coal industry, the head of that agency stood 20 miles away in one of the largest surface coal mines in the country: Black Thunder.

Scott Pruitt, the controversial leader of the EPA, came to Wyoming at the invitation of Sens. John Barrasso and Mike Enzi to see the coal industry first hand. The state provides about 40 percent of the thermal coal burned in the U.S. for power and would be uniquely affected by a carbon dioxide rule like the Clean Power Plan.

The rule’s goal of cutting carbon dioxide emissions in the electricity sector by about 30 percent compared to 2005 levels would have pressured utilities that buy Wyoming coal, wiping away customers that the coal industry around Wright and Gillette depend on.

Those in favor of the rule are largely concerned about emissions’ contribution to climate change. Those opposed see it as an attack on the coal industry.

Read more: http://trib.com/business/energy/epa-head-scott-pruitt-visits-major-wyoming-coal-mine-preaches/article_81c4e5f5-3cd9-569a-89fd-71cd4f9d91b1.html

Mead 'deliberate' with vetoes to check legislative overreach

Gov. Matt Mead has used his veto to check legislative overreach and to strike down poorly written laws, he said Monday.

Mead described his vetoes during the 2018 legislative session — the last he’ll oversee as governor — as consistent with this philosophy and his application of the executive prerogative throughout his eight-year tenure.

The process begins well before legislation reaches his desk, the governor told WyoFile in an interview. As legislative sessions began, Mead’s staff divided bills by subject matter and assigned them to the appropriate policy advisors for tracking.

“Some we have an idea are going to be big in the sense that they might be controversial,” Mead said. Others are less anticipated. Like many legislative observers, the governor was at times unaware of bills brought by individual lawmakers until they became public in the days or weeks before a session, he said.

Read more: http://www.wyofile.com/mead-deliberate-vetoes-check-legislative-overreach/

Legislature ends session with education cuts, again

Wyoming’s House of Representatives saved the state’s public schools this year by blocking Senate proposals to slash school funding, according to Speaker of the House Steve Harshman. But just like last year, education advocates watched a roller-coaster legislative session end with a cut to their budgets and no clear long-term funding solution.

“There’s no doubt that the 60 members in this House have single-handedly saved K-12 education in this state,” Harshman (R-Casper) declared in a speech from the House chair March 15.

Senators had at one point proposed legislation that would have cut schools by up to $76.2 million over the next two years, according to the Legislative Service Office. Instead, the House held senators down to a $27-million reduction.

Harshman’s claims may be bittersweet for education advocates and school district superintendents. While they avoided deeper cuts, they still feel pain from the reductions, particularly in the context of losing $77 million in 2017.

Read more: http://www.wyofile.com/legislature-ends-session-education-cuts/

State asks court to toss ex-A.G. John Swallow's claim for $1.5M in attorney fees

SALT LAKE CITY — The state has asked a 3rd District Court judge to toss out former Utah Attorney General John Swallow's claim for $1.5 million in attorney fees he racked up defending himself against public corruption charges last year.

Swallow was not an officer or employee of the attorney general's office when he was acquitted of the criminal charges against him so he isn't eligible for reimbursement under Utah law, state attorneys argue in a March 26 court filing.

And even if Swallow wins in court, the attorney general's office says it doesn't have the money to pay him.

Swallow, a Republican, contends that as a public official who was acquitted of a crime, he is entitled to be reimbursed for attorney fees and costs. He said because he was "erroneously" prosecuted he had to borrow money to defend himself.

Read more: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900014426/state-asks-court-to-toss-ex-ag-john-swallows-claim-for-dollar15m-in-attorney-fees.html

Faculty members of this Univ. of Utah dep't. dont speak to one another and students graduate late

A University of Utah report, commissioned after the apparent suicide of a graduate student, describes significant dysfunction within the school’s physics and astronomy department.

Overworked students are left aimless and their degree completion delayed, while “factionalized” faculty members prone to “temper flares” avoid contact with one another, according to a March 8 memorandum by outside attorneys Larry Perlman and Julie Lee.

“Currently, a number of faculty members refuse to speak with each other, pointing to issues with loyalty and trust,” the memorandum states. “The lack of communication amongst faculty members has had a negative impact on department morale.”

The attorneys, with the Florida law firm Foley and Lardner, were asked by U. administrators to review issues and concerns related to the experience of graduate students after the October death of an international doctoral degree candidate.

Read more: https://www.sltrib.com/news/education/2018/03/29/university-of-utah-revamping-its-physics-and-astronomy-department-in-the-wake-of-a-students-suicide/

Gov. Herbert comes out against medical marijuana initiative, warning it would open the door to ...

Gov. Herbert comes out against medical marijuana initiative, warning it would ‘open the door to recreational use’

Gov. Gary Herbert came out against a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana for a wide range of patients, saying in a statement Thursday the initiative was too broad and would open the door to recreational use.

He said Utah lawmakers got it right when they passed HB195 and HB197, which he signed, that will allow physicians to recommend marijuana for people who have an estimated six months or less left to live. The state would also contract with a grower and control dispensing of marijuana under rules the Department of Agriculture and Food will begin working on next month.

The ballot initiative would grant access to marijuana to a far longer list of patients. It would also allow for private growing and dispensing, similar to the framework in many of the 29 other states that allow the federally illegal plant for medicinal use.

Backers say the ballot initiative has nearly enough signatures to qualify for the Nov. 6 election.

Read more: https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2018/03/29/gov-herbert-comes-out-against-medical-marijuana-initiative-warning-it-would-open-the-door-to-recreational-use/
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