Back from a week out on the east coast and catching up on the news:
– Has there been a more entertainingly bizarre story than what’s been happening in Hardin, Montana? The town builds a jail in 2007 believing that building the jail is the road towards economic prosperity and more jobs. The jail stays empty for the next year and a half as the bonds issued to pay for the jail go into default. As desperation sets in, the economic development arm who initially built the jail volunteer to house Guantanamo detainees, but aren’t successful. As desperation increases, they then sign an agreement with a con-man from California named Michael Hilton (who has a long criminal record mostly involving fraud) and his private security force – named the American Police Force – to run the jail. Hilton also intended to set up a military training facility and perform law enforcement duties in the town. Without any formal announcement, black Mercedes SUV’s start rolling through the town with official-looking City of Hardin Police insignias (based on a Serbian coat-of-arms) that no one seemed to be expecting. Then, the Billings Gazette reporter who’d been covering the jail saga is hired away by the American Police Force to be their spokesperson. As the story explodes and the Montana Attorney General ponders an investigation, Hilton (a native of Montenegro who refers to himself as “Captain”) claims that an executive with a security firm named Michael Cohen has accepted the job of running the operation. Cohen says there’s no such deal and calls Hilton a liar. Finally, the economic development arm is finally forced to scrap the whole deal after it fully dawns on them that they just signed an agreement with a career criminal with a bogus company to run their jail and patrol their town. Holy fucking shit.
– This Wednesday morning, the Massachusetts Legislature will debate a bill to fully regulate and tax marijuana. The fight to create more sensible laws for marijuana may still take some time, but when the Today Show can have level-headed segments like this on the topic, we’re getting there.
– Two men are trying to open up a medical marijuana dispensary in Mountlake Terrace. In Spokane, the Gonzaga chapter of the ACLU is planning a demonstration in support of the medical marijuana law after the recent arrests there have again made it difficult for authorized patients to obtain medicine.
Update [Darryl]: And here is some political multimedia fun for the weekend.