whitewater outfitters in limbo; gov mulls emergency

By Jim Stanford on May 18, 2011

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Update 8:40 p.m.: WyDOT is waiting for slide to stabilize naturally, then will work 24 hours a day to clear debris. More details after the jump.

(This time-lapse video captures 30 minutes of movement by the slide.)

As a mudslide closes the Snake River Canyon for a fourth day, business owners and local officials are appealing to Gov. Matt Mead to declare a state of emergency and perhaps call in the Wyoming National Guard to clear debris.

Whitewater outfitters are shut down, unable to reach boat ramps in the canyon even if willing to route clients on a lengthy return journey through Idaho. Although the weather isn’t yet conducive to running many trips, outfitters are worried the slide could drag on for weeks and cut into the busy season.

Gov. Matt Mead

“With the summer season approaching us fast, this slide has the potential to have a massive economic impact on this community and we are going to need all available state resources once a plan of action is determined by WyDOT,” Bud Chatham, owner of Dave Hansen Whitewater, wrote in a letter to the Jackson Town Council. Chatham has urged the town and county to call on the governor to marshal more resources.

Renny MacKay, spokesman for Gov. Mead, said any requests for emergency assistance must come from the local level, starting with Teton and Lincoln county commissioners and the Wyoming Department of Transportation, which has been working to clear the slide. The governor, who was raised in Teton County, is closely monitoring the situation and is aware that other roadways into Jackson Hole could be threatened by additional slides, MacKay said.

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Posted under Economy, Environment, Sports

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The Intolerance State

By Jim Stanford on February 10, 2011

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Republican lawmakers may drag the state's dubious civil rights record to a new low. They have spent inordinate time trying to restrict the rights of gay citizens, even though some of their colleagues are gay or have gay children.

On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that seeks to enshrine in the Wyoming Constitution discrimination against gays.

The so-called “Defense of Marriage” bill would let voters decide whether to amend the Constitution to define marriage as only between a man and woman.

The bill, which already has passed the Senate, is one of two lawmakers have been working on that would restrict the rights of gay citizens. The second, which passed the House, would prohibit Wyoming from recognizing gay marriages and civil unions performed in other states.

At the same time they are trying to prevent gay people who love each other from getting married, Republican legislators pushed another bill, since failed, to force straight people who don’t love each other to stay married.

What are these lawmakers afraid of? That our state will be infected by some sort of “pestiferous freelove doctrine?”

That’s precisely what critics said in the late 19th century when Wyoming first granted women the right to vote, earning itself the nickname “Equality State.” Perhaps it’s time to do away with that phony moniker.

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Posted under Economy, Politics, Religion, Republican Party, Wyoming, Wyoming Legislature

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election post-mortem

By Jim Stanford on November 5, 2010

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As much as I looked forward to hearing Matt Mead at the Rotary forum last month, he lost me at "Obamacare."

Step back from the edge. On a whole, the election results weren’t as bad as they could have been. Voters saw through what one friend described as a “fog of irrationality” to elect good candidates locally. The county, another friend said, will continue to have “cohesive, responsive, logical leadership.”

Nationally, Democrats still control the Senate by essentially a 53-47 margin, with 51 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party. No matter what wacko legislation comes out of the Republican-led House, the Senate will cool the wilder impulses.

How now, Tea Partiers? Ye wingnuts who have railed against government woke up this week to find out, guess what, you ARE the government! That means you bear the responsibility for getting things done, not just ranting angrily. Odds are these “outsiders” become just like everyone else elected to Washington, feel voters’ wrath and get tossed out next election.

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Posted under County Government, Democratic Party, Politics, Republican Party, Wyoming, Wyoming Legislature

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Mead vs. Petersen for Wyoming governor

By Jim Stanford on August 17, 2010

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Leslie Petersen is a former rodeo rider from Dubois turned realtor, while Matt Mead, an attorney and rancher, is the grandson of the late Wyoming Gov. and U.S. Sen. Cliff Hansen. Both have strong Jackson Hole ties.

There likely will be a recount, and who knows, perhaps there are some hanging chads in Meeteetse, but it appears attorney Matt Mead has won the Republican primary for Wyoming governor.

If the results hold, Mead will face Democratic stalwart Leslie Petersen, meaning two candidates with Teton County roots will square off for the state’s highest executive office.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports Mead ahead of State Auditor Rita Meyer by 714 votes with 100 percent of precincts reporting.

Ten of the 11 specific-purpose tax proposals on the ballot in Teton County passed, with voters rejecting only the Jackson Hole Museum by a slim margin.

Thank you to everyone who voted in favor of improving the Snake River access at Wilson. Someday we will have a great park there that does justice to the majesty of the river. The Snake won’t wait.

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Posted under Democratic Party, Politics, Republican Party, Wyoming, Wyoming Legislature

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which primary should we vote in?

By Jim Stanford on August 17, 2010

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Liberals voting in the GOP primary is "precisely what the right wing fears the most," says Capt. Bob.

Today is primary election day. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters may register at the polls; you need to have lived here only a minute to vote. Click here to find your polling place.

What’s at stake? The governor’s race, for starters. There’s an important contest for Wyoming Legislature. And the fate of 11 specific purpose tax projects hangs in the balance, including $1 million for improvement of the Wilson and South Park access points on the Snake River.

Adding intrigue is the possibility that many Democratic-leaning voters may switch party registration (temporarily, likely) to participate in the Republican primary, where more races are contested. This used to happen in Teton County all the time, before Dick Cheney made the GOP so toxic and sent voters to the Democratic rolls in droves.

The biggest champion of this strategy, of course, is Capt. Bob Morris, who again is seeking the Republican nomination for Teton County commissioner. “Joining a party does not strengthen it; neither does it signify your allegiance for it,” he says on his Facebook page. “One joins whichever party has the more significant primary — even if that is the party which is the more contemptible.”

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Posted under Democratic Party, Politics, Republican Party, Wyoming Legislature

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