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Tuesday: Whitefish Budget, Wolf Case, Fugitive Speaks

By Beacon Staff

Good morning; on the Beacon today, the fire and police chiefs in Whitefish are bracing for layoffs after city officials released a fiscal year 2011 budget proposal calling for “major reductions in services and staffing.” Mary VanBuskirk has been hired to become Whitefish’s second in-house city attorney, replacing the retired John Phelps. A federal court hearing on Tuesday could decide how the federal Endangered Species Act is interpreted, and whether the government can use political considerations in choosing how and where a species can be listed under the act, according to people on both sides of the issue. And Chuck Curry wins the Flathead County sheriff’s race, while, Sen. Jon Tester is facing transparency questions in our weekly roundup of what’s up, down and in between.

In an exclusive jailhouse interview with The Associated Press, Frank Dryman, a notorious killer from Montana’s past, detailed how he invented a whole new life, with a new family, an Arizona wedding chapel business — and even volunteer work for local civic clubs. People attending a public hearing on a Yellowstone National Park plan to vaccinate bison to reduce the incidence of brucellosis want to know how it will benefit bison. The Montana Republican Party says Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, is scheduled to give the keynote address at the state party’s platform convention in Billings this weekend. A 31-year-old Missoula man is facing federal drug charges for allegedly supplying local medical marijuana dispensaries with pot bought on the black market in California. Groups representing schools and teachers, human service providers and local governments expressed grave concerns Monday over some options identified as potential ways to help balance the budget in the 2011 Legislature. The state’s legislative and executive branches’ projected revenue forecasts and potential budget deficit as of mid-2013 are about in the in the same range, officials told a legislative committee Friday. Attorneys for the Legislature say the state Land Board is overstepping its authority by deciding how to spend some $40 million in damages owed the state by PPL Montana – DASH – but lawmakers Monday took no steps to halt the board’s action. Hal Harper, a longtime Helena legislator and former House speaker, is retiring as Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s chief policy adviser on June 30.

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