Breakaway Utility Districts (No. 101)
In the premiere of this bi-monthly newsmagazine, host Gene Brodeur introduces us to "Breakaway Utility Districts." The city of Great Falls is proceeding with plans to create its own utility district, not unlike a rural electric cooperative, in hopes of avoiding a repeat of the 2001 freefall that saw energy rates hit all-time highs. The Op Ed segment features the Great Falls Tribune's Elaine Kohanek, and rounding out the program is a profile of Henry Lockwood, who was raised at the state orphanage in Twin Bridges in the 1920s and returned, at age 81, to live on the grounds of the abandoned facility.
Snowmobile Showdown In Yellowstone? (No. 102)
Environmentalists support a ban on snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park, but the town of West Yellowstone derives most of its annual tourism revenue from outfitters who lead such tours. Meanwhile, the decision on whether or not to implement President Clinton's ban on snowmobiles in Yellowstone is left to the district court. Bozeman Daily Chronicle reporter Scott Mc Million joins host Gene Brodeur to discuss the ongoing debate. And, we hear the opinions of viewers during the program's Op Ed segment.
BSL-4: Not In My Back Yard (No. 103)
The National Institutes of Health plans to construct a research facility, a BSL-4 lab (for Biosafety Level 4 ). at its Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Hamilton, Mont., where researchers will search for vaccines for such "hot zone" viruses as Lassa and Ebola--hemorrhagic viruses that bioterrorists might use in an attack. Residents of the picturesque southwest Montana town have their doubts about wisdom of creating such a lab. Host Gene Brodeur talks with Laboratory director Marshall Bloom about the proposed addition and his neighbors concerns, and current RML research projects. Then Ravalli Republic managing editor Wayne Adair joins Brodeur for the opinion segment of the show.
Teaching and the State Constitution (No. 104)
Montana Focus takes viewers to Helena where a court case over the funding of education is unfolding. At the heart of the case is the argument that state funding for Montana schools is depriving children of the quality education called for in the state constitution. Is Montana living up to its obligation to offer a quality education? District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock must decide.
Indian Sovereignty (No. 105)
Tribal leaders across the country are eagerly awaiting a decision in U.S. v. Lara, a case before the U.S. Supreme Court that derives from an incident on the Spirit Lake Reservation in North Dakota. How it is decided will surely affect issues of tribal sovereignty on reservations throughout the country. (According to the Grand Forks Herald, the U .S. government, the governments of 14 states, 18 Indian tribes and various other groups have filed briefs in the case.) Montana Focus talks with members of the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council about the matter. Then Mike Jetty, a Spirit Lake Dakota Sioux, takes us to the 2004 MSU American Indian Club Pow Wow.
Maintaining Respect In Billings (No. 106)
It's been more than ten years since Billings gained international recognition for taking a strong and public stand against racism. Mayor Chuck Tooley has created a nine-member Human Relations Commission to promote respect among racial, religious, and minority groups. Although community sensitivity to racism is high, tension over racial matters remains an issue. We talk with civic and religious leaders about what's being done to reduce the tension.
The Libby Clean Up: An Update (No. 107)
The Environmental Protection Agency's cleanup of the W.R. Grace Zonolite mine in Libby continues. In this show, we look at some people's efforts to expand the cleanup from Libby to the nearby town of Troy just as federal funding reductions have started to squeeze the cleanup.
Medicare In Montana (No. 108)
Although the first phase of the new federal $500-plus billion Medicare drug prescription bill kicked in just last month, some seniors are already concerned that it's not going to help them keep pace with runaway prescription prices. Gene Brodeur and guests consider several proposed state options; one is a hike in the cigarette tax with proceeds earmarked for prescriptions, another is allowing Montana seniors to import cheap pharmaceuticals from Canada.
Update: Utilties/School Funding (No. 109)
Since our last report, in February, there have been big developments in the Breakaway Utilities story. Here we focus on various entities' efforts to buy the transmission assets of bankrupt Northwestern Energy Corp. and what changes a successful purchase might mean. Also, in the school funding case we reported on in April, Columbia School District et al. v. the State of Montana, Judge Jeffrey Sherlock ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. Montana Focus looks at Governor Martz's decision to appeal that ruling to the state Supreme Court and the Legislative Finance Committee's struggles to come up with a budget for public education. Produced by Gene Brodeur and Scott Sterling for KUSM-MontanaPBS, MSU-Bozeman.
No Relief: Montana's Drought (No. 110)
In March 2002, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman declared the entire state of Montana a drought area. The rest of that year and all of 2003 brought little relief. Now, as the state enters its sixth year of drought, our rivers and reservoirs are low. Montana Focus visits with farmers, ranchers and meteorologists about consequences of the drought.
I-147: Overturning The Cyanide Ban In Montana (No. 201)
Montana Focus kicks off its new season with this look at the bare- knuckles fight over the proposed resumption of cyanide leach mining for gold and silver. I-147 seeks to repeal its predecessor, I-137, which voters passed in 1998. Although supporters of I-147 have gathered enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot, their initiative is tied up in court.
CI-96: The Constitutional Battle Over Same-Sex Marriages (No. 202)
Montana Focus continues its examination of 2004 ballot measures with this look at the constitutional initiative introduced by Rep. Jeff Laszloffy (R-Laurel), which would decree that only marriages between a man and a woman are valid in Montana. Opponents charge that CI-96 is an attempt to write discrimination into our Constitution. Produced by Gene Brodeur and Scott Sterling for KUSM/MontanaPBS, MSU- Bozeman.
Attack Ads: Doing The Dirty Work (No. 203)
The McCain-Feingold law put a stop to so-called "soft money" contributions to political campaigns. But "527" groups, which are independent of the parties, can flood the airwaves with attack ads. Critics say this loophole allows candidates to distance themselves from third party groups while distracting voters from more important campaign issues. We ask, "Yeah, but do they work?" Produced by Gene Brodeur and Scott Sterling for KUSM/MontanaPBS, MSU-Bozeman.
A Day in the Life (No. 204)
Host Gene Brodeur takes to the campaign trail with U.S. House of Representative candidates Denny Rehberg and Tracy Velazquez as they canvass for votes for Montana's one at-large representative.
Election 2004: New Faces in the Capitol (No. 205)
An analysis of the November 2 election and a look at key issues facing the governor-elect and members of the 2005 legislature.
Homeless In Montana (No. 206)
They might not be as visible as the homeless in Los Angeles or Seattle, but nearly 3,000 Montanans will face winter without shelter. Montana Focus examines the complex problem of providing housing and health care for people in extreme poverty. Produced by Gene Brodeur and Scott Sterling for KUSM/MontanaPBS, MSU-Bozeman.