Friday links! Ted Cruz in Cruisin’ edition

Ted Cruz had seen hard times, but nothing could prepare him for his hardest adventure yet.

Ted Cruz had seen some hard times, but nothing could prepare him for his hardest adventure yet.

Ted Cruz fingered his Bible nervously. He was only going to get one shot at this, and if he missed—well, he wouldn’t allow himself to think about that. Somewhere, floors above him, he heard the elevator doors shudder open. Somebody was bringing back the groceries, coming home to the dog, living the kind of normal life that Ted Cruz dimly remembered but no longer understood. He said a quick prayer for whatever poor schmuck lived on floor six. There wasn’t time for anything more, because the elevator had returned to the lobby, its doors opening, ready to take him to the penthouse and whatever awaited him there. Today was Friday, and Ted Cruz was going all the way to the top. Would a lifetime of hard luck and dark secrets come with him?

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Politicians pass off coal company form letter as their own

John Ostlund of the Yellowstone County Commission

John Ostlund of the Yellowstone County Commission

Don’t freak out, but the US Department of the Interior is considering raising its royalty rates for coal leases on federal land. I know—you’ll have to tell the kids you won’t be going to Disneyland this year, unless you get some kind of last-minute reprieve. Fortunately, a host of Montana politicians—including Steve Daines, Ryan Zinke, the Yellowstone County Commission and various chambers of commerce—have stuck up for the mom-and-pop strip mining operation by writing a letter to the Interior urging them to extend their public comment period before raising rates. You think I made a plural error when I said multiple people wrote a letter, but I didn’t. The commissioners and the chambers sent the same form letter written by Cloud Peak Energy, a large coal company out of Wyoming. Daines and Zinke borrowed a lot of language from the letter, but at least they rephrased it. The important thing is that our elected representatives are serving as mouthpieces for an enormous energy corporation. You can read all about it in this week’s column in the Missoula Independent. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!


People who say Krakauer’s book is unfair haven’t read it

A poster by Missoula artist Andy Smetanka, parodying the cover of Krakauer's book

A poster by Missoula artist Andy Smetanka parodies the cover of Krakauer’s book.

Perhaps you have not read about this issue in your hometown newspaper for the last month, but Jon Krakauer’s book Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town came out yesterday. I am about halfway through, and it is a gripping read. Plenty of local luminaries assured me it was garbage, including Griz correspondent Bill Speltz—who two months ago insinuated that Krakauer was biased and his book misleading, before adding that he would “hold judgment on Missoula until reading it”—and county attorney Kirsten Pabst, who criticized Krakauer for not interviewing her and wrote a memo to Doubleday calling the book “actionable libel.” I quote the Missoulian:

“Pabst did not appear to have obtained a copy before writing the memo; she appeared to be responding to information she had received about the publication, including questions she received from Krakauer in connection with his reporting for Missoula.

That makes it sound like he tried to interview her. Also, guys: I know you love Missoula, and I do too. But you have to read a book before you determine that it’s a hit job. So far, I find Missoula striking not just for its descriptions of how this town has mishandled rape, but also for its generosity.

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88,000 apply for 55 affordable units in building with “poor door”

50 Riverside Drive, aka 470 W 62nd—photo by Victor J. Blue

Luxury condos at 50 Riverside Drive/affordable housing at 470 W 62nd—photo by Victor J. Blue

A new high-rise building at Riverside Drive and West 62nd Street, excoriated for having one door for condominium owners and a separate entrance for residents of affordable housing, has attracted 88,000 applicants for its 55 low-priced units. Available to households whose income is between $30,000 and $50,000 a year, the affordable apartments rent at $1,082 for a two-bedroom and $833 for a studio. That’s a pretty sweet deal, even if you don’t get access to the gym, the pool, the private theater or the bowling alley, and even if you have to enter and exit the building through a designated “poor door.” You also don’t get to live at 50 Riverside Drive, with the quality. Instead, you live at 470 West 62nd Street—a distinction that will seem meaningless only to those who have not lived or worked on the Upper West Side.

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