Eric Whitney

News Director

Eric is the news director for Montana Public Radio.

Ways To Connect

Missoula's North Hills and Mount Jumbo
Josh Burnham (All rights reserved)

The Missoula Rural Fire District has an extra fire engine on duty over the 4th of July weekend, in part because of what happened in 2006. District Chief Bill Colwell remembers sitting on his father’s deck that year, watching some local kids shoot off fireworks near Mount Jumbo.

Public Domain

A panel of prominent scientists are meeting in Bozeman to talk about controlling brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone area, It’s the start of a year-long process to evaluate options for trying to control the disease.

Anthony J. Preite retires as the USDA's state director of rural development.
Courtesy photo

A man who’s had a big role in growing Montana’s economy for nearly 50 years is stepping down. Anthony Preite has been involved in rural economic development here since 1968, and last week he retired as state director of rural development for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

BLM (CC-BY-2.0)

Montana fire officials are urging people to be extra careful with fire this weekend and over Fourth of July.

U.S. Supreme Court
Flickr user: Marty Stone (CC-BY-NC-2)

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies for people to buy health insurance means nothing really changes in Montana’s health insurance market. And that’s pretty big news.

A powerful Senate committee Thursday increased funding for a public lands access program, but Montana's senators disagreed on the amount.

Greg Gianforte speaking to the Conrad, Montana Chamber of Commerce
Eric Whitney

Not everybody's summer road trip around Montana generates headlines at every stop, but Greg Gianforte's does, and Gianforte is not just anybody. He's been meeting with local chambers of commerce, like a group of about 10 people at the Sport Club restaurant in Shelby recently.

Edward O'Brien

Montana’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has only had one executive director since it was established in 1988, Scott Crichton. And now Scott Crichton is stepping down. He stopped by MTPR’s studios recently to talk about his 27 years as Executive Director of the Montana ACLU.

Photo Courtesy CUNY Law School

The Montana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has hired a new executive director. That position has been held by only one person since Montana’s ACLU hired him in 1988, Scott Crichton. Crichton is now retiring. He says the new director is a Missoula native.

Senator Daines' office

In a speech on the Senate floor last week, Montana Senator Steve Daines lambasted President Obama for what he says are huge increases in the price of health insurance in Montana, but he didn't get the facts exactly right.

Montana’s insurance commissioner says she’s not surprised that health insurance companies are asking for rate increases next year of more than 20 to 30 percent. But, she says, those are just requests, and it’ll be at least a couple of months before the actual rates are known.

One of the authors of a new plan to save the threatened bull Trout in Montana says that’s not an easy task, nor is measuring what it will take to get the fish off of the endangered species list.

"Some folks think it’s a simple, you cross the finish line and you’re there. That’s never quite the way it is."

Bull trout in British Columbia’s Wigwam River drainage, the headwaters of the Kootenai River.
Joel Sartore National Geographic & Wade Fredenberg USFWS (CC-BY-2.0)

A Montana environmental group working on recovery of the threatened bull trout is critical of a new federal plan to save the fish.

"I guess I just don’t see this as being a holistic plan," says Arlene Montgomery.

Marianne Wiest - Courtesy photo

Bozeman technology entrepreneur Greg Gianforte is asking Montanans who live out of state to come home, and to bring their high paying jobs with them.

He launched what he’s calling his “Bring our Families Back tour,” Monday visiting economic development agencies in northwest Montana to promote telecommuting as a way to drive up Montana’s average income and improve the economy.

Poplar pipeline crack
Courtesy Bridger Pipeline

Last week we reported that state wildlife biologists have not found any evidence of damage to fish species in the Yellowstone River downstream of the oil spill in January near Glendive. But Ryan Moehring, a spokesperson for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service says that that doesn’t mean scientists are finished looking.

Eric Whitney

More than two hundred people gathered at the Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery in Missoula to mark Memorial day. It was one of dozens of ceremonies across the state.

American paddlefish
Timothy Knepp - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

One week into Montana’s paddlefish season on the the lower Yellowstone river, biologists say they’re not seeing any negative impacts from an oil spill on that stretch of river in January.

Jonathan Motl, Montana Commissioner of Political Practices speaks during a forum about the "Disclose Act" in Missoula, MT
Josh Burnham

Montana’s new campaign finance law still has at least one loophole that needs to be addressed. That’s according to state Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl.

New data says Montana does a good job at placing placing kids in its child welfare system with relatives or foster families, which is seen as preferable to placements in group homes.

Alexander Blewett III
Courtesy photo

A Great Falls trial lawyer is giving the University of Montana law school $10 million, and the school is one step away from being re-named in his honor.

Public Domain

The public is getting a chance to ask state and federal wildlife managers about bison management in and around Yellowstone National Park.

For the second time in two years, a Missoula hospital is entering a joint venture with a hospital in Billings. Last year, Billings Clinic and a for-profit partner bought Missoula Community Medical center. The new joint venture announced this week isn’t a merger, but it does have Missoula’s other hospital, St Patrick, joining with St. Vincent hospital in Billings.

Dartmouth College may be looking at a substantial fine for violating Montana’s campaign finance laws.

Today State Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl found that the school, along with Stanford University, broke state law last October, when the two mailed fliers to 100,000 people in Montana purporting to rank candidates for state supreme court on a liberal to conservative scale.

Author Jon Krakauer speaks as moderator Larry Abramson listens during about his book "Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town" during a community forum in Missoula, MT Wednesday May 6.
Cheri Trusler

This is a recording of the entire event with Author Jon Krakauer and Larry Abramson, dean of the University of Montana Journalism School, sponsored by Fact and Fiction bookstore, held at the Doubletree Inn in Missoula, May 6, 2015.

Author Jon Krakauer speaks during about his book "Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town" during a community forum in Missoula, MT Wednesday May 6.
Cheri Trusler

Author Jon Krakauer got a standing ovation at a forum last night about his new book: Missoula Rape and the Justice System in a College Town.

The capacity crowd of more than 500 people at the Doubletree Inn ballroom applauded Krakauer several times when he stood up for rape victims, and repeated the main point of his book.

“Rape is a serious crime that’s not being taken seriously,” he said.

Steve Jess, MTPR

    

Yesterday Governor Steve Bullock, a Democrat, signed a Medicaid expansion bill into law that was sponsored by a Republican senator, Ed Buttrey. Buttrey has long been opposed to Medicaid expansion as called for in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. So how did the businessman from Great Falls come to sponsor a Medicaid expansion bill? I asked him about that immediately after yesterday’s bill signing ceremony at the capitol.

Eric Whitney

Montana's U.S. Senators want Secure Rural Schools payments distributed in short order, now that President Obama has reauthorized the act. S.R.S  funds compensate rural counties with federal land that have experienced declining timber production.   

Gov. Bullock signs the Medicaid expansion plan into law on April 29 at the captiol. The bill's sponsor Sen. Ed Buttrey, and supporter Stephanie Wallace look on.
Steve Jess

Backers of Medicaid expansion celebrated in Helena today as Governor Bullock signed the bill extending the health coverage to an estimated 45,000 more Montanans.

Global energy leaders are meeting at the University of Montana today through Friday for the Asia-Montana Energy Summit.

Leaders in global energy issues from five different countries are converging at the University of Montana Wednesday through Friday for the Asia-Montana Energy Summit. Hosted by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center, the summit will highlight trends that are shaping the world’s energy future, and Montana’s role in it. I talked about the summit with the Mansfield Center’s director, Abraham Kim.

Eric Whitney

The book that author Jon Krakauer released Monday, "Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town," paints a very unflattering picture of Missoula County Attorney Kirsten Pabst.

Krakauer writes that when Pabst was a county prosecutor in 2011, she dismissed the allegations of at least one sexual assault victim, and that Pabst was, “simply wrong” in recounting what that victim said happened to her. The book is sharply critical of prosecutors’ decisions not to prosecute sexual assaults.

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