The Billings Outpost

Little to fault in ‘Assault’

By STEPHEN DOW - For the Outpost

Have you ever noticed that two chefs can use exactly the same ingredients, but prepare a meal in totally different ways? Leslie Budewitz’s new novel, “Assault and Pepper,” is kind of like that. The author utilizes many of the same ingredients as other mystery novels, but ends up creating something unique and surprisingly charming.

The novel follows Pepper Reece, an ex-law firm employee, who runs the Spice Shop (which sells various spice mixes and teas) in Seattle’s Pike Place market. However, Pepper’s blissful existence is threatened when a homeless man is found to be poisoned on her doorstep – by drinking tea from her shop. Even worse, one of Pepper’s best employees is sent to jail for the crime. Convinced that the young woman is innocent, Pepper starts her own investigation into the murder.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 March 2015 13:15

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Legislators debate open primary

By MICHAEL WRIGHT - Community News Service - UM School of Journalism

Rep. Steve Fitzpatrick, the tall, bespectacled Republican from Great Falls, stood up on the House floor in late February and explained his bill that would allow local political party officers to be appointed by the state party instead of elected in primary elections.

But the bill was about something bigger – Montana’s century-old open primary law.

“It’s really a fundamental question with this bill,” Fitzpatrick said. “Do you believe in open primaries or do you believe in closed primaries?”

Montana has had open primaries since 1912 when a ballot initiative won support from a vast majority of voters. That means anyone can vote in the primary elections for either party. A closed primary means only registered party members can vote in a primary for that party.

Fitzpatrick’s bill earned him a censure from his own Republican Central Committee, which voted unanimously to tell him he’s out of step with the party on this issue. That’s because the Republican Party and a number of local Republican central committees are plaintiffs in a lawsuit that aims to prove Montana’s open primary law unconstitutional. Rep. Matt Monforton, R-Bozeman, is the lead lawyer in the case.

Last Updated on Friday, 20 March 2015 12:41

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Sacrifice Cliff says, ‘Welcome to Montana’


A festival of 10 one-act plays was put together by the Sacrifice Cliff Theatre Company as the result of what amounted to a challenge.

“This year,” said company co-founder Patrick Wilson, “I’d been hearing a lot of people asking, ‘Are there even any writers left in Billings who want to get their plays on stage?’”

Wilson and co-founder Shad Allen Scott were convinced there were, and they came up with a list of 30 people who they thought might want to take part in a one-act festival. They approached 20 of those writers with their idea and soon selected 10.

Wilson and Matt Taggart, a local artist, came up with the theme, “Welcome to Montana.”

Wilson and Scott settled on the idea of 10-minute plays because that length was considered do-able for a collection of writers who are either busy in the theater scene already or, in the case of several of them, new to writing for the stage.

One of the plays was created by a pair of collaborators who aren’t even writers — Taggart, who normally does sound art, collages and mail art, and Krista Marshall, a dancer with the Terpsichore Dance Company.

Their piece is “All Together Now,” about a family coming back together for a Sunday dinner.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 March 2015 12:37

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Tumbleweed accused of inflating statistics


The board of directors of the Tumbleweed Runaway Program is investigating allegations that its executive director has inflated and in some cases fabricated statistics regarding the number of homeless young people in Billings.

The board’s investigation into the activities of Sheri Boelter was sparked by allegations raised by one former employee, but similar concerns have been raised by other current and former employees.

The allegations were contained in a letter to the board, dated Dec. 3, 2014, from Sabrina Currie, who was Tumbleweed’s development director for 15 months before resigning early last October.

Currie raised numerous issues of credibility and honesty in the six-page letter, saying she felt a moral obligation to inform the board of “deceptive and fraudulent things going on” within the organization.

Her claims were backed up by Carmen Price, who was the development director Currie replaced and who lasted only six months there. In her own letter to the Tumbleweed board, dated this Feb. 11, Price said she became “increasingly concerned that the organization’s director continually misrepresented the agency’s reporting protocol and acted deceptively by camouflaging the agency’s internal procedures as well as the number of youth it serves.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 March 2015 13:31

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