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Smearl Fire burning in Leigh Lake area was human caused
Must stay as far right as safety allows not as far as possible
Implementing new law that took effect October first in Montana
Park could top 4,000,000 by year's end at the current pace
Who pays $8-$11 million for Colstrip 4 downtime is at issue
Executions not viable unless law changed or substitute found
Based on genetics to keep the purest at the wildlife refuge
Possible threat to killer of Osama bin Laden and his family
Will affect spruce and fir and lodgepole pines above 7,000 feet
Land grant MSU provides organization etc. thru extension office
Previously regulated by counties, home made foods can be sold
57% in English 41% in math and 36% in reading in ACT tests
Need to see relevance with impacts on neighborhoods
Wants automatic felony charge for asault on health providers
80 miles per hour limits authorized by Senate Bill 375 in 2015
State will use a Butte owned facility and not build a new one
Gets gov't ok from 2016 and ending at the end of 2019
In process of removing endangered species act protections
Up to 3% lost in 2016 for patient recitivism after discharge
Forces Dept. of Ag to intervene if grain inspections fail
Fort Harrison VA Office now has about a 3% error rate
9th in 10 years MSU in Bozeman has set an enrollment record
Wed. deadline = weekend guard training to continue or not
Mt has received $54 million over 50 year life of LWCF
Discussion focuses on growth, people mostly in urban areas
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“We continue to believe that we can accomplish more by working together on cost-effective, common-sense reform measures, rather than engaging in expensive and time-consuming litigation,” Cotter said.

Cotter wrote the commissioners on Feb. 26 – the same day the commissioners met with Van Valkenburg and expressed their concern that the “community has lost faith” in the office following a critical Feb. 14 report by the DOJ.

That document outlined deficiencies in Missoula County prosecutors’ handling of sexual assault cases, including a 17 percent prosecution rate of sexual assault cases.

In the letter, Cotter describes the success the DOJ has had with the University of Montana and the Missoula Police Department following similar reports on their work with victims of sexual assault.

The DOJ launched investigations into UM, the city and county in 2012. Both Missoula police and the UM Office of Public Safety entered into agreements with the Justice Department in May 2013, agreeing to changes in their handling of sexual assault reports.

“In contrast, the county attorney has refused to cooperate with our investigation from the outset,” Cotter wrote. “We have met with the county attorney several times and taken measures to address his expressed concerns regarding our investigation.”

The standoff between the DOJ and Van Valkenburg became even more entrenched at the beginning of the year, when Van Valkenburg sent a letter to the DOJ – rejecting their proposed settlement agreement and giving them two weeks to enter into “an amicable agreement” before he filed suit against the DOJ. When the Justice Department remained silent, Van Valkenburg filed for declaratory judgment in Missoula’s U.S. District Court, asking a federal judge to rule on whether the DOJ has jurisdiction over his office.

And the county commissioners furnished Van Valkenburg in his endeavors – releasing $50,000 of county funds for him to hire outside counsel to pursue the lawsuit.

Cotter wrote in his letter that the cost of litigation will “ultimately far outstrip the cost of reform.”

“We believe that the quickest and most effective way to protect women and improve the county attorney’s handling of sexual assault is a cooperative agreement,” Cotter wrote.


Commission Chair Jean Curtiss said Wednesday that her office is in the process of crafting a response to Cotter’s request, but said it’s not the commissioners’ responsibility to direct the affairs of another publicly elected official.

Instead, she said the DOJ should contact Montana Attorney General Tim Fox to work out an agreement, although that’s not likely.

“Between Fred and Mr. Cotter … I don’t think either one of them wants to settle,” Curtiss said.

In February, it also came to light the DOJ had entered into an agreement with former Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock, who is now governor, in 2012. Outlined in two letters, the agreement stipulated that the DOJ would share the findings of its investigations with the office.

During last week’s meeting with Van Valkenburg, Commissioner Michele Landquist said commissioners should have known about the agreement before releasing the funds Van Valkenburg requested to file suit against the DOJ.

“I can’t honestly say, knowing this, that I do support you going forward with any declaratory action,” she said at the meeting.

She said she saw the agreement as the attorney general giving the Justice Department the authority to investigate the County Attorney’s Office.

But Van Valkenburg, who has maintained that he has the support of both Bullock and Fox, said he didn’t see the letters as anything “of great consequence.”

Further, he denied attempting to mislead the commissioners by not providing them with copies of the agreement between

Landquist wouldn’t respond to questions Wednesday, but said in an email to the Missoulian that “this is a matter we take very seriously and we are working on our reply.



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