Montana Hotel Employees: Our Newest Drug War Soldiers


“….Hickman said signs hotel workers can look for include guests who pay in cash, give false vehicle information, and don’t let housekeeping into their rooms……”

Years of working all over Montana and Wyoming, staying in hotels for weeks on end taught me a few lessons.  Maids steal.  Not all of them, nor most of them, but many do.  I’ve had money, jewelry, cosmetics, flat irons, and clothing stolen while I was out of my room. None of it was particularly valuable, but the losses were extremely annoying and they certainly added up over the years, and none of the items ever turned up. I asked the housekeeping departments about my items, but most of the maids weren’t fluent in English, which further complicated the situation.  After my favorite necklace disappeared, I decided that I would no longer utilize housekeeping service.  Now, I’m considered suspicious.  I could be a drug dealer, user, or God forbid, a prostitute or one who enjoys their services.  I haven’t encountered any hotels that accepted cash payment, but if I had, I would have used cash.  It has been quite some time since a hotel required vehicle information from me, but I have never memorized my license plate number and I generally guessed- likely incorrectly.  I’m not a drug user or dealer, nor have I been or used a prostitute… although I do occasionally don some questionable boots.

From the Billings Gazette:

A two-month program to train hotel workers to keep an eye out for illegal drug sales or prostitution has resulted in arrests, law enforcement officials with the Central Montana Drug Task Force say.

Sgt. Chris Hickman of the Great Falls Police Department said workers are trained to recognize suspicious behavior, look for evidence of illegal drugs coming from rooms, and know who to call.

Hickman told the Great Falls Tribune that police are pursuing three active cases based on tips from lodging employees in Great Falls.

Hotels are trying to help in the effort, sometimes providing rooms to set up stings.

“A lot of the hotels in town are giving the complimentary space to get the bad guys,” said Sandi Thares, general manager of the O’Haire Motor Inn. “We’re not aiding, we’re trying to do what we can to help them.”

Hickman said signs hotel workers can look for include guests who pay in cash, give false vehicle information, and don’t let housekeeping into their rooms.

But Hickman noted that hotels and motels that cooperate with police can sometimes end up with bad publicity when arrests are made.

“It’s kind of like a double-edged sword,” Hickman said. “We’re not trying to pick on any hotels. We absolutely respect the heck out of these managers. They’re sending a message that we’re going to keep a sharp eye out for people.”

Last month police arrested a group of people authorities say were involved in drug sales. One of the buys, according to reports, took place in the O’Haire Motor Inn parking lot. Police said those arrests were made after getting a tip from an O’Haire employee who spotted the suspicious activity.

Thares said the benefits of stopping illegal activity outweigh the risk of the occasional bad publicity.

“Everyone wants to keep their community safe, and it’s a small way in which hoteliers can do that,” she said.

Hickman said criminal activity can show up at any motel or hotel.

“I couldn’t think of a hotel in town that hasn’t had some type of drug activity taking place,” he said.

Training ordinary people to become amateur sleuths is a frankly frightening concept for me.  While I can understand that hotel management and owners have concerns about illegal activities occurring on their property, the surveillance work should be left to the professionals- who already have access to a massive network of  government approved snitches in the form of informants. Digging through the luggage of guests presents massive security and privacy concerns as does investigating whether the sex partners of guests are paid. And what about the safety of the snitch?  Dangerous criminals tend to get even when they get mad. Our government already often punishes drug criminals more harshly than pedophiles and those who have committed violent crimes, and our tax dollars fund this war on our own people.  Involving ordinary people is dangerous on so many levels.

 

Pardon me, media…. your bias is showing


Thomas Jefferson once said,

“The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing, but newspapers.”

Jefferson’s assessment certainly rings true in Montana, especially when regarding the growing controversy of Montana’s medical marijuana industry and the 62nd legislature’s de facto repeal of a citizen’s initiative legalizing medical use of cannabis.  Irresponsible and disrespectful newspaper headlines continue to read “Medical pot industry group asks judge to halt law“, “Arguments to conclude in medical pot hearing“, We didn’t elect GOP to ax medical pot“, you get the hint.   Is it so difficult to call it “cannabis”? I can’t recall seeing headlines in the same publications crying “Mr. Smith arrested for slinging oxy/dillies/percs/80s/beans/ludes” or “Dr. Doe raided after shooting smack in surgery”.  Regardless of how the media FEELS about cannabis, their job is to report the news, not exhibit incredible bias.

The media also continues to mislead readers with posts like the following, which was taken from KULR8’s Twitter account.

 

 

 

 

State Senator Jeff Essmann, known for passing the biggest tax increases in Montana history; continues to assert that his legislation removed the profit from the industry, effectively portraying the medical cannabis industry as profit mongering.  Suggesting that the new law makes cannabis providers non-profit entities is a blatant misrepresentation.  The new law essentially eliminates all providers by economically crippling them.  Providers are unable to accept any sort of renumeration for their service.  This means that providers are forced to give away their product, wisdom, time, etc.  Growers cannot be reimbursed for costs incurred with growing (electricity, security, etc), supplies, or equipment. This isn’t a non-profit marijuana law, this is  compulsory NO PAY, medical cannabis donation legislation.This isn’t an attempt to remove the profit, it is a bid to entirely eliminate medical use of cannabis in the state.

From failure to report the actual amount of money seized in federal raids of cannabis providers (in one case, the total was $600 compared to the $1.2 million listed on the warrant) to using slang terms and outright lying to Montanans, our lawmakers and media are complicit and should be held accountable. Do your own research, always question and never blindly accept the media’s version of truth.

Humble Governor Schweitzer Continues Embarrassin’ the Big Sky State


Yesterday, Montana’s Governor Brian Schweitzer was quick to dismiss any truth in all of the rumors he started that are apparently flying around about his plans after his term is up.  Due to term limits, he is prevented from  making himself our king running for another term and according to him, the rumors have been circulating in democratic circles for WEEKS.  He would like Montanans to know that he has no plans to run for President and that a recent New Hampshire poll about such a bid by Schweitzer had nothing to do with him. Ever the boastful blowhard sheepish cowboy, Schweitzer pointed out that Obama will likely be interested in the job anyway and said “It’s kind of silly, really. I’m just learning how to be governor of Montana.”

Many in Montana would agree with that assertion considering bashful Brian’s recent embarrassing lawsuit against over a dozen online travel booking agencies over a dispute over how bed taxes in the state are assessed.  At the 2010 Montana Economic Development Summit, he very publicly attacked the leaders of Travelocity after they announced formal plans to promote tourism in the state.

To any of you who may think this isn’t worthy of a story, think again.  It has been the Billings Gazette headline for hours.  Don’t worry about Schweitzer though, according to him, he always gets a job.  Whether it will be doing some fencin’ on that land that the public no longer can access,  practicin’ his Arabic,  or vyin’ for higher office, we can expect to have him hanging around for years to come, embarrassin’ the Big Sky State.

Montana Democrats:Premature Yet Rampant 2012 Paranoia


 

Answer our questions, Tester.

The paranoid Montana Democrats have filed a complaint against Steve Daines, who they claim is running an illegal shadow campaign for the US Senate seat currently held by Jon Tester.

 

At issue is a youtube ad posted by Common Sense Issues PAC attacking Tester and Baucus and appearing to endorse Steve Daines for their jobs- although the ad never mentions Daines, nor does the group’s website.

In a telephone interview with the Billings Gazette today, Daines maintained that he isn’t currently a candidate and expressed concern that the Democratic Party had consulted with the media before filing with the FEC.  The Gazette also mentions the “Draft Steve Daines for US Senate” Facebook group but fails to note that it was created by College Republicans- not by Daines, the Montana Republican Party, or the Common Sense Values PAC.

While it is widely believed that Daines will be filing soon (rumored to be November 13), there is also some speculation that current US House Representative Denny Rehberg is also interested in the position  which has led many to wonder if Daines will instead run for Rehberg’s House seat.

Personally, I just think Jon Tester is unhappy with the new website the PAC created which pokes fun at the senator’s inability and unwillingness to answer questions from his constituents.