Thursday Numbers

The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do. – Kobe Bryant

Welcome to “Thursday Numbers!” In case you’re a first-time visitor, this is the weekly column where I take a look at the numbers that are in the news (in descending order) and provide commentary sometimes sprinkled with just a little bit of sarcasm.

This week’s topics include taxes & WalletHub, Montana State University & Rob O’Neill, unemployment, Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors, Kobe Bryant, Congress’ approval rating, Congressional Pig Book, Ethan Couch & drunk driving, and much more!

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Monday’s Odd & Ends

Hello Monday! It’s back to the grind after the Thanksgiving feast!

It’s time for another odds and ends edition from the past weekend! When there are several stories out there that I want to comment about, I combine them into one column and call it “Potpourri” or “Odds & Ends” or something catchy to get your attention.

Today’s topics include:

  • Tax Credits for Religious Schools
  • Making Montana Proud
  • Planned Parenthood Attack
  • Oh Christmas Tree
  • Be Vigilant
  • Charlie Brown Christmas

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Let’s Be Careful Out There…

Tuesday afternoon I was looking over my Associated Press news feed for Montana. Out of 10 headlines, these were four of them:

This morning, there’s another one:

There are several families hurting today because of these fatalities. Some accidents involved alcohol and some people were not wearing seatbelts.

Back in February 2014, the Missoulian newspaper had the following headline:

In that story, it was reported:

Traffic crashes in Montana have resulted in the loss of 1,053 lives between 2008 and 2012, for an average of 211 fatalities per year. The state’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.72 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2012 was third highest among the states.

A 2013 U.S. Department of Transportation Fact Sheet shows that Montana had 205 total driving fatalities in 2012 and 43% were alcohol-impaired. In 2013, there were 229 total driving fatalities and 40% were alcohol-impaired.

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Caught My Eye…

Welcome to the Big Show – which is also called “Caught My Eye!”

If you are a first-time visitor, “Caught My Eye” is posted here every Friday morning. This column is where I take a look at some of the stories I did not have time to write about during the week. Sometimes I throw in a touch of sarcasm to make you smile – or to irritate you just a little – maybe both.

Today I provide independent commentary about 348 jobs, Copper Commando & Montana Cowgirl, getting ready for 2016, tax relief bills, Jim Messina, Cleveland Cavaliers, the Worst Mother Selfies, plus we have a winner who is Making Montana Proud!

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MT Legislature: CB Radios & Polish Sausages

Are you feeling safer on Montana’s highways already? A bill (House Bill 297) to ban texting while driving passed the second reading in the Montana House 52-48. It has to pass a third reading before heading to the Montana Senate.

If this bill passed, you’ll still be able to play with your “navigation devices” or your radios, CD players, cassette decks, 8-track players, etc.

It looks like the bill is silent about EWD (Eating While Driving). That is when you are distracted behind the wheel because you’re eating a cheeseburger, hamburger, French fries, or maybe a polish sausage. By the way when you travel across the state, I highly recommend the polish sausages from Town Pump – get plenty of napkins – nom, nom, nom…

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Caught My Eye…

You’ve made it to Friday – and we’re halfway through January – so congratulations!

Now buckle your seatbelt for “Caught My Eye.”

If you are a first-time visitor, “Caught My Eye” is posted right here every Friday morning! This is when I take a look at some of the stories I did not have time to write about during the week. Sometimes I throw in a touch of sarcasm to make you smile – or to irritate you just a little – or maybe both.

Today I write about drunk driving in Montana, another Hail Mary from Tester & Daines, Republicans/Democrats retreat, a trained assassin, plus there’s a winner who is Making Montana Proud!

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MT Legislature: Speed is Freedom

On January 5, 2015, the 64th session of the Montana Legislature will convene.

For those of you not from Montana, the Montana Legislature is really pretty good entertainment to warm up Montanans in the dead of winter. The state legislature meets every two years for 90 days. There’s an old joke told that many Montanans believe the legislature should meet every 90 years for two days.

I’ve called the legislative sessions a three-ring circus, and I’ve called many of the legislators clowns from time to time.

It looks like the 2015 session will be the same old circus. They have already held at least one secret meeting, probably more. It seems that many of the legislators don’t feel the need to follow the open-meetings law in the Montana Constitution.

One thing for sure, it’s always interesting to see what bills are proposed leading up to the next legislative session. Over the weekend, I happened to read about a few legislators (state senators Scott Sales and Jonathan Windy Boy, and state representative Ken Miller, and state representative-elect Art Wittich) who want to raise the daytime speed limit on Montana’s interstate highways. The current speed limit is 75 and they want to raise it to 80 or 85.

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Montana: Drunk Driving Epidemic

Many years ago when I was a child living in the Midwest, my dad was working away from home on road construction one summer, so it was just me, my mom, and my 16 year old sister living at home. My sister was out late with her friends one night, so mom and I went to bed. Around 1:00 a.m. there was a very loud knock on our door. A family friend was at the door and told my mom that he was driving home and came upon a wreck – a wreck that involved my sister and her friends.

I heard my mom ask, “What happened?” The friend said a man was driving drunk and hit the car that my sister and her two friends were riding in head-on.

Just about every time I hear about a drunk driver having a wreck or getting arrested for DUI, I remember my sister and what she went through and what my mom and dad went through.

It seems that just about every day we read or hear about someone driving drunk and getting arrested or about a wreck that “speed and alcohol were both factors in the crash.” If you think DUIs are on the increase here in Montana, apparently they are.

Great Falls television station KRTV (CBS) aired a story on Tuesday about driving under the influence (DUI) arrests and fatalities increasing not only in Great Falls, but across Montana:

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A Tale of Two DUIs

It’s always enjoyable to watch the local governments in action – this is where the rubber meets the road! I am writing about the city of Great Falls and Cascade County governments in Montana. Great Falls is in Cascade County.

I served a term on the Neighborhood Council several years ago in Great Falls, and it was an enjoyable experience. Right after high school, and before I decided to join the military, I worked as a laborer and heavy equipment operator for a city in the Midwest. So I have seen the operation of the local government from several angles.

Almost every Friday I write about someone or some group that is Making Montana Proud. These people embarrass Montana in some way. I have also written extensively about drunk driving over the years.

Here’s an update on two people who made my Making Montana Proud list!

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McGrath: Judges Are Honest. Trust Us.

I had to do a double take when I read an Associated Press story that reported, “Montana Supreme Court justices should not have to publicly disclose their personal financial interests or those of their families because the high court already follows a strict code to avoid potential conflicts, the chief justice [Mike McGrath] said.”

His plan? The AP reported, “It’s the judge’s responsibility to disqualify himself or herself from presiding over a case in which he or she has a financial stake, McGrath said.”

Why does McGrath think this? He said it’s because Montana’s high court justices follow a strictly enforced Code of Judicial Conduct.

Seriously?

We’re supposed to take his word for it. It kind of reminds me of Reagan’s nine words, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

If Montanans actually believe every judge will be honest and forthright with their financial dealings, and “follow a strictly enforced Code of Judicial Conduct” then I have some ocean-front property to sell you near Geyser.

It was sunny and 85 degrees there last week, too.

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