Some call it pork, the 11,000 or so local
projects stuffed into the $388 billion spending bill just passed by
Congress. Others, such as the Democrats’ new minority leader,
Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, call it money well spent and brag about it.
Thanks to Reid’s clout, Nevada was awarded nearly $200
million for projects such as a $500,000 hospice unit and $100,000
for a domestic-violence safe house, reports the Las Vegas
Review-Journal. But it was a little grant — for a mere
$25,000 — that got Clark County schools onto the "pork
barrel" list compiled by Taxpayers for Common Sense. The $25,000
grant will fund mariachi band instruction as an alternative to
chorus and regular band.
Environmental opponents of the scanty-panty
company, Victoria’s Secret, have dogged the
firm’s nationwide promotional tour billed as Angels Across
America. In Los Angeles, critics from the nonprofit ForestEthics
donned angel wings and unfurled a banner reading, "Victoria’s
Secret: Their catalogs destroy endangered forests." The activists
said the company was responsible for logging old-growth trees,
particularly in Canada: Every year, it mails 395 million catalogs,
with the average customer receiving 24 of them annually.
A pizzeria owner and town
councilman from the two-block, western Colorado town of
Paonia, population 1,500, is going head-to-head against Starbucks.
After the king of caffeine (8,200 coffeehouses) announced it would
move into bars, restaurants and liquor stores to sell its brand-new
sweet and alcoholic Starbucks Coffee Liqueur, Zach Mann, the father
of a teenage girl, created his own Web site called Stardrunks.com.
Mann told the Rocky Mountain News that he and his supporters also
spent $5,000 to rent a vacant lot in Denver near a Starbucks. The
lot was crowded with over 2,000 crosses to represent young people
from 15 to 20 who’d been killed in car accidents that
involved underage drinking. "I have no problem with alcohol," said
Mann, who sells wine and beer at his pizzeria, Pizza My Heart. "I
have trouble with irresponsible use of alcohol and …
irresponsible marketing of alcohol."
Two preachers who should have known better got
nailed in Wyoming for a "poaching spree" that resulted in three
deer being killed secretly and then hidden on a rancher’s
property. The pastors — from Buhl, Idaho, and West Jordan,
Utah — recently pleaded guilty to violations that included
hunting without a license and trespassing, reports the Casper
Star-Tribune. "They should have hunted by the book," said Wyoming
Game and Fish Department spokesperson Lucy Wold. "Honesty is the
nabbed poachers in Colorado’s remote La Garita
Wilderness, ending bow-and-arrow elk-poaching careers that began
almost two decades ago. Division of Wildlife staffers did their
sleuthing the hard way — camping without fires and setting up
hidden video cameras and digital voice recorders during the
three-year investigation. "We’re not just driving around in
our trucks drinking coffee and whistling cowboy songs," said Brian
Bechaver, the district wildlife manager who led the investigation.
"This case was solved through a combination of old-time warden
woodsmen skills … and modern technology." In a plea bargain,
the three poachers from Kansas agreed to pay fines totaling
$45,000. They also lost their hunting privileges.
The "Blotter" of the Jackson
Hole News&Guide; likes to report solved crimes as well
as the latest infractions. So we note that the disappearance of a
homeowner’s outdoor chaise lounge was more of an
unintentional borrowing than a theft: Neighbors spotted a bull
moose wearing the wooden lounge on its impressive rack. The paper
also reported that a wallet thought stolen in the Rancher Bar was
found in the mouth of a rottweiler named Suzy, who was chewing on
it in a corner of the bar. Meanwhile, town police say it’s
time for Suzy and the estimated 5,200 other local dogs to be
leashed while out in public. The U.S. Forest Service says
it’s distressed by what’s been happening at two popular
areas near town: Dogs are depositing an estimated 80 pounds of
unscooped poop on trails every day.
Betsy Marston writes
Heard around the West and is also editor of Writers on the Range, a
service of High Country News in Paonia,