Should Billings ban sexual activity at massage parlors? Council considers ordinance.

About half of online ads for commercial sex in Montana are posted by massage parlors, an FBI agent said. Read more, like, share and comment below.

Should Billings ban sexual activity at massage parlors? Council considers ordinance

An upcoming proposed ordinance that will specifically prohibit sexual activity at Billings massage parlors took up the lion’s share of the Billings City Council’s work session Monday. Brandon Walter, a Billings-based special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, told the council there were nearly 20,000 ads posted online between October 2016 and October 2017 regarding the availability of commercial sex in Billings.

“An upcoming proposed ordinance that will specifically prohibit sexual activity at Billings massage parlors took up the lion’s share of the Billings City Council’s work session Monday.

Brandon Walter, a Billings-based special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, told the council there were nearly 20,000 ads posted online between October 2016 and October 2017 regarding the availability of commercial sex in Billings. Bozeman and Missoula had about one-fourth that number or less, he said.

“Go to those websites,” he suggested. “You will see that they are not selling massage.”

“I’m a little leery of going to those websites,” Mayor Tom Hanel replied.

Walter, who has also been working on human trafficking issues around Montana, said about half of those online ads were posted by Billings massage parlors.

He suggested a two-pronged approach involving both stepped-up enforcement and passage of an ordinance regulating behavior at massage parlors.

“There are legitimate massage parlors in town,” said Councilman Ryan Sullivan. “But at others, you think things are going on that are wrong there, and they are.”

Sullivan and Councilman Mike Yakawich have been working with city staff on developing an ordinance for council consideration. Sullivan said he has a draft ordinance that he will distribute to council members.

Police Chief Rich St. John said the ultimate goal is to “get offenders into the federal system, because they leave a mark when there is a conviction.”

He said police have made two prostitution arrests in 2017. Both were misdemeanors.

Tiffiny Russell, a licensed massage therapist and the co-owner of the Mossmain College of Massage, said that male clients have propositioned her on numerous occasions “because of the proliferation of these massage parlors. There is this understanding that’s what massage therapists do.”

“This is a safety issue for massage therapists,” she told council members, urging them to pass the ordinance when it comes before them. With more than 300 licensed massage therapists in Billings providing legitimate care for their clients, “we hope you do indeed pass an ordinance to keep us safe.”

“People believe prostitution is a victimless crime,” she said, “but when they use (massage therapy) to cloak activities, that puts legitimate massage therapists at risk, too.”
Police at Billings Clinic

St. John said that under an agreement still being developed, Billings Clinic will pay for at least two officers initially — and as many as seven eventually — to work solely on the hospital’s campus.

The developing agreement will be similar to those the department has with School District 2 for school resource officers and the Downtown Billings Alliance for its downtown resource officers.

Billings Clinic “wants a 24/7 operation eventually,” St. John told the council. “I suggest we start with two to get the program going and moving forward.”

New officers would have to be hired, he said, with officers already with the department available to work on the Billings Clinic campus. St. John said there are a handful of candidates already certified who can be hired quickly, rather than waiting for new officers to complete their training at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy.

Currently, officers work on some of their days off in the emergency department and other areas. Billings Clinic pays for these services.

“They are looking for more coverage,” St. John said. “We expect them to be quintessential police officers. It’s a big campus with a big footprint downtown, and it’s pretty much ground zero for our transient population.”

He said he wants Billings Clinic officers “out there being seen, helping people get to their vehicles at night and making sure staff is safe.”

St. John said St. Vincent Healthcare has not asked the department about a similar service for its Billings campus.” Source: Billings Gazette

GOP Senate candidate says Montana FWP part of liberal ‘deep state’

“The campaign of Troy Downing, a Republican seeking his party’s U.S. Senate nomination, issued a release Wednesday calling the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks “deep state” and claiming the agency conducted a “witch hunt” against him.” Read more, react, share and comment below.

GOP Senate candidate says Montana FWP part of liberal ‘deep state’

The campaign of Troy Downing, a Republican seeking his party’s U.S. Senate nomination, issued a release Wednesday calling the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks “deep state” and claiming the agency conducted a “witch hunt” against him.

“Deep state is a term that became popular on conservative websites such as Breitbart during the 2016 presidential race to refer to career employees secretly working within government to manipulate policy and undermine political enemies.

“It’s unfortunate the liberal Montana FWP deep state is on a witch hunt,” The Downing campaign said.

The release came in response to a story from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle last week detailing records from an FWP investigation into Downing’s alleged hunting violations.

The Chronicle has reported that Downing, who is hoping to unseat Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, was charged with seven misdemeanor violations for buying or applying for resident hunting licenses as a non-resident. He was also cited twice for transferring a license and assisting an unqualified applicant.

The records were ordered unsealed by Gallatin County District Court Judge John Brown in October. Downing’s next date in court is Nov. 15 for an omnibus hearing, the Chronicle reported.

Downing’s statement, sent by campaign manager Kevin Gardner, also criticized Brown, calling him a “Democrat” even though judicial positions are nonpartisan.

“It’s no surprise that a Democrat judge, appointed by Democrat Gov. Schweitzer would release details of this case before Troy is afforded due process in the court of law,” the release said.

The release of the records was requested by the Gallatin County Attorney’s Office.

Brown was appointed by a Democratic governor to fill a vacancy on the bench. He has since run for retention in a nonpartisan election.

Downing called the judge’s actions “politically motivated tactics.”

“This is nothing more than an orchestrated attack on a combat veteran by Senator Tester’s allies who are desperate to stay in power,” Downing’s campaign said. “These moves are obviously politically motivated and makes a mockery of the judicial process.”

The Chronicle reported the investigation was started by the Montana Department of Revenue, which was asked by FWP to see if Downing qualified as a resident for hunting licenses. According to the documents, Downing filed income taxes as a non-resident in 2013 and 2014 but changed to a full-time resident by 2015.

Downing allegedly bought licenses illegally in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, according to the Chronicle.

The release said that Downing’s time in the Air Force after 9/11 meant he traveled and did not live in Montana full-time until he was honorably discharged in 2009. In the release, Downing said he bought land in Montana in 2000 and in a radio interview Wednesday morning said over the last decade he’s had businesses in 35 states and “been on the road a lot.”

“Troy spends tens of thousands of dollars to support our wounded warriors in fishing trips in Montana, and, he overpays by tens of thousands of dollars to fish and hunt to support other charities here in Montana. It makes no sense that he would try to skirt a small difference in a resident vs non-resident license in Montana,” the release read.

Downing’s statement also praised Republican President Donald Trump, who Downing had criticized before the president won Montana by 20 percent a year ago.

Before the election, Downing said on Twitter the then-candidate wasn’t electable and that Trump “cracks me up.” He also used the hashtag #NeverTrumpNeverHillary and at one point called Trump “either a liar or an idiot,” according to The Hill. Downing’s personal Twitter account has since been made private.

Last week, Downing tweeted from his campaign account a photo of him with Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, the president’s sons who were visiting Montana.

In the photo, Downing wore a red Make America Great Again hat, a trademark of the Trump campaign, while Trump’s sons wore Downing campaign hats.

Matt Rosendale, one of several Republicans running in the Senate primary, also recently touted his ties to the administration, saying he had been endorsed by Steve Bannon, a former top adviser to Trump who was forced out of the administration earlier this year and is now running Breitbart.

Other candidates include former Billings judge Russ Fagg, state senator and doctor Albert Olszewski, Ron Murray of Belgrade and James Dean of Havre, whose wife is running against Tester in the Democratic primary.” Source: Missoulian

Man found dead by robot after standoff with police at Big Bear Sports Center in Billings

“A man crashed his car into Big Bear Sports Center at 3 a.m. Saturday, barricaded himself inside the store for nearly 10 hours and then died in a shootout with police.”

Man dead after standoff with police at Big Bear Sports Center in Billings

A man crashed his car into Big Bear Sports Center at 3 a.m. Saturday, barricaded himself inside the store for nearly 10 hours and then died in a shootout with police. The suspect’s identity has not yet been released. Events began to unfold earlier than that, Billings Police Chief Rich St.

“The man drove a 2000 Mercury Mountaineer with temporary license plates into the business’ storefront allegedly to steal firearms, St. John said. The man then ran into the business and barricaded himself inside.

Police responded to the incident, and it developed into a standoff.

“We tried to negotiate but that did not happen,” St. John said. “We ended up calling our SWAT team, our hostage negotiators and our bomb squad. We brought all our resources to bear on this.”

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