Archive for October, 2007

by jhwygirl

The Big Sky RX program is a prescription assistance program for Medicaid recipients.

Funded by the tobacco sales tax, it provides up to $33 bucks a month to Medicaid prescription plan participants.

Income limits are pretty generous – $20,660 for singles, $27,620 for couples. It doesn’t put limits on assets either.

And – enrollment is open all year. The only requirement is that you be enrolled in Medicaid.

I heard a blurb on KPAX yesterday – but couldn’t find anything on its website. The reporter did say – I scribbled a quick note – that only 20% of those eligible for the program are participating.

The State’s website lists a 1-866-369-1233 number to call, 9 – 5, Monday – Friday, for an application.

You can also download an application on the website – but click on this link with warning – it froze up my computer 3 times before I gave up.

Think about your neighbors who might be living on limited income – I have one guy who was an airline pilot for 29 years….and less than 2 years after he retired, the company went bankrupt, along with his pension. Can you imagine?!

Give them the number, or, better yet, call that toll-free number for them and just have an application mailed to them.

by jhwygirl

I rarely get over that ways nowadays, but had occasion to stop over a friends house.

I really love that area too – it has a real ‘neighborhood’ feel, with sidewalks and boulevards. Lots of Missoula individuality – plenty of unique gardening to those boulevards over there!

I also saw a really nice Planned Neighborhood Cluster (PNC) going up. The homes are on the market for $280,000.

Not very affordable.

Perhaps it was the route I took, but there were sure a lot of Pam Walzer signs around.

What struck me – and I almost went home to get a camera just so I could post the picture here – was one house that had its garage door open. Now, keep in mind that it is election time, and as I said, there were plenty of sky blue Pam Walzer signs all abound – but this house, with its garage door open had 3 or 4 Don Nicholson signs.

Only, the Don Nicholson signs weren’t in the yard – they were in the garage, next to the garbage cans.

by Pete Talbot

With less than a week remaining, 28 percent of Missoula voters have returned their mail-in ballots.

Perhaps the most intriguing statistic to me is from Ward Four. It has the highest percentage of voters returning their ballots: 32 percent. This ward has two Republicans running (Jerry Ballas and Lyn Hellegaard). Anyone have insights on why this ward is number one in turnout?

Ward One has two Democrats running (Justin Armintrout and Jason Wiener) but is near the bottom in voter turnout at 25.5 percent. However, Ward One also includes UM so it’s numbers are traditionally low, although student voting numbers are trending upward lately. Forward Montana is helping turnout there.

The other wards definitely have Republican v. Democrat races. Yeah, I know, it’s a nonpartisan election — but let’s not kid ourselves.

Ward Six (Lewie Schneller and Ed Childers) is coming in at slightly less than 26 percent.

Ward Three (Doug Harrison and Stacy Rye) is weighing in at slightly more than 26 percent.

Ward Two (Don Nicholson and Pam Walzer) and Ward Five (Renee Mitchell and Christine Prescott) are both hovering around 28 percent.

Debbie Merseal, Chief Deputy Clerk and Recorder down at the county elections office, said she’s hoping for a 40 percent turnout. That’s almost double the average turnout for this type of municipal election, which is a good thing.

Besides the council races, there’s the Iraq War Referendum and a high school bond issue. (Up in Seeley Lake there’s a water bond issue, but those folks don’t get to vote on council candidates or Iraq.)

If you haven’t sent in your ballot and aren’t quite sure how to vote, this site has some recommendations here, here and here, and that’s just a few of the posts as 4&20 contributors have written extensively on this election. Just start scrolling down. Interviews were also conducted by the Missoulian, New West and Forward Montana (Jeez, there’s that name again).

Two other sources I neglected to mention that might help voters: the Missoula Independent stuck its collective neck out and actually endorsed candidates. I appreciate that. Also, UM journalism students took a comprehensive look at the candidates, the referendum and bond issue. (A tip o’ the hat to UM Journalism Professor Dennis Swibold.)

by jhwygirl

1 – You have shown that you have a good understanding of the importance that Affordable Housing is the community. You have also publicly lamented that City Council does little or no actual ‘planning’, which certainly affects the ability to deal with the Affordable Housing problems that Missoula faces. What ‘planning’ would you like to see tackled?

Affordable housing is the most complex of the issues the City faces. I think about the only way the City can get at the major cost of housing – the cost of the land- is through regulations. I also think that there has to be a given that most people understand the lack of affordable housing in the community and have the will to enact some measures to alleviate the problem. I’d like to see us take a look at inclusionary zoning, a real estate transfer tax, small lot development where it’s already zoned for apartments or commercial, and working through some of those regulations with land trust organizations and private developers. Another way we could do it is through redevelopments districts and have some portion of the increment go towards affordable housing, again working with private agencies.

I would look very forward to the community having a conversation about any of the above planning measures. We cannot continue to have a vibrant economy without addressing the housing issues and the many people who want to live in Missoula proper for its quality of life.

I also think planning boils down to Council giving each other the benefit of the doubt regarding the willingness to entertain new ideas. There have been discussions about different ideas such as inclusionary zoning and redoing the planned neighborhood cluster ordinance and it’s been difficult to talk about any legitimate ideas rationally. At the end of the day (or year), if every idea gets shut down, the community is left with a cumulative nothing.

2 – City Council has been so divisive for what seems forever. Why do you still want to be on City Council?

We actually do quite a bit of work that lands on the consent agenda. Only a few items make it to committee reports and those are the most controversial. The Council’s job is three fold, really. The first is to respond to requests and concerns from people who call or write regarding issues. I think there’s probably more immediate gratification at the local level like getting an abandoned vehicle to go away pretty quickly. Other times the issue is much more complex and actually leads to evaluating a policy on the books that needs changing.

Policy work is incredibly interesting and we have some council members who are very good at looking at either new policies or evaluating old laws to see if they need updating. Dave Strohmaier is a policy wonk machine in this regard. This part of the job can be very stimulating when ideas can be honestly debated for their merits. I like it when other council members with whom I disagree with at times, like Jerry Ballas, bring up points that I haven’t thought of. I loved working on public power and the bid to acquire Northwestern Energy. It was the most exciting project a city council person could possibly want to work on.

Staff generally brings the other part of the job to us and we evaluate the requests. Staff does an excellent job of bringing proposals and working on behalf of the community. The Missoula Redevelopment Agency (MRA) is but one example of a city agency that’s very open to new ideas. Working with them makes it easy for the Council to go forward with great projects.

3 – A zoning rewrite is underway. What do you hope to see from the zoning rewrite?

I’d like to see the zoning re-write get us ahead of the growth curve. Regardless of what the population is in the Valley in 2050, it’s going to be a lot bigger. The re-write has the capability to move the community along in a more orderly fashion.

The city is behind the curve in terms of transportation and growth at the moment which leads us to struggle with each and every transportation decision and subdivision proposal. We need a bigger picture and the rewrite help us get at least part of the way there.

I hope the Council of the future is happy with what comes out of this and doesn’t end up scratching their heads at the decisions we make in the next few years with the zoning rewrite. I often do that now, for instance, when we struggle with assessing people for sidewalks for a subdivision that was approved without them 50 years ago.

4 – What makes you the best choice for representing Ward 3?

Well, I’m competent at the job and I’ve built good relationships both with current council members and staff. I also have good relationships with the local State delegation in Missoula and like to work with them on how the State impacts local government. I’m accessible and I can relate to problems people call with or when I bump into just about everyone at the Food Farm which is a big community gathering place. I’m pretty open minded and naturally curious about most things and I take representing 10,000 people seriously; especially in a Ward that is extraordinarily plugged in to local government.

I’ve also learned how to compromise so I can vote yes instead of no and I’ve been part of the majority most times so the city can move forward with most of its projects and ordinances. I haven’t passed on more than one thing that I can think of in four years. I think passing is a cop-out. I’ve initiated things like domestic partner benefits for city employees, more funding for the urban forest, a sidewalk coordinator, and a big conference on growth (the Sopris Foundation conference this past year at the Wilma).

5 – Assuming you could build some consensus, what would be the first thing you would tackle with the next City Council?

I’m one of twelve people; I’m not a committee of one and none of us accomplish anything alone. I’d like to see a bunch of things happen. I’d like to see how to fund the Parks department at a decent level. I’d like to work with the State and County on figuring out how to pay for Russell and 3rd St. I’d really like the Council to work seriously on how the City could help in the affordable housing area. We have some very talented non-profits that do great work and it would be very easy for the Council to partner regulations with the work they do.

Most of these things have to do with funding and I’m sensitive to tax issues when we get letters from constituents who say they are close to the tipping point on paying taxes, especially when they come from people who generally support things like open space.

Funding for local services is a tricky issue, particularly when the feds are funding less of it and the dollar is devalued by the current federal administration passing the Treasury bond buck, causing us to go deeper into debt at the federal level. I’m happy we get local control over decisions when we fund it ourselves – but the federal debt does the local service issues harm.

Halloween Humor

by jhwygirl

You gotta love Butte.  They’re fixing the roof of the old whore house.

“There are some haunted houses that are bed and breakfasts, but there’s no haunted whore houses that are bed and breakfasts. I think it’ll go over pretty good.”

I especially like the fact that a former patron donated $20,000.

Story here.

by jhwygirl

More specifically: How to deal with anonymous posts that personally attack or allude to an individual with unsubstantiated accusations.

Check the comments on this post, for your lesson in Credible Blogging 101.

Now, I could have let what was said there fly – hell, it’s no secret that I’m no fan of Lawbreaking Liar Lewie Schneller (candidate for Ward 6) – but leaving that comment there would not have been the right thing to do.

It would have been wrong for a number of reasons – including the fact that a false allegation, like the one said there – but it really could have been anything – is not something that can be disputed easily. Lewie would have been hard-pressed to prove it didn’t happen.

Plainly, it wouldn’t have been fair.

People come to read 4&20 blackbirds, I’d like to think, because what I write makes every attempt – when stating something as fact – to be accurate. While I’m certainly writing opinion here (surely, no secret, right?), I am writing opinion based on the reality of an event.

I want to get it right, in part, because I’d be really really embarrassed if I printed something completely inaccurate. But mainly I want to get it right because I want to be honest.

That’s my own personal criteria, at least.

by jhwygirl

And guess who it was?

lewie-fax-oct-29-2007.jpg

by jhwygirl

Which is why I have been so absolutely perplexed about the bullcrap recently blogged over at Carol Minjares’ website, attacking Forward Montana.

At first I went looking for the “Humor” tag, given her propensity towards bad jokes.

But alas, it was missing.

She frames the Roosevelt Institute as a “Soros-funded conglomeration of think tanks.”

The Roosevelt Institution has an annual budget of around $150,000. Can’t much fund a conglomeration of think tanks with that kind of budget, now can we? (But honestly, if you want to see who’s funded well, check out that link.)

Google is your friend.

She disses on his 2 year communications director gig at Progressive States Network because they were funded with $30,000 ($30,000! The horror!!) grant from the Proteus Fund, which is separated by how many degrees? Three? Six? Fifty? to George Soros?

Lord!

Then she goes on to connect the $250,000 grant that Forward Montana got to “Jon and Peter Lewis of Skyline Public Works.”

Skyline Public Works is the baby of Deborah and Andy Rappaport – and hell, Google is your friend on that one too..

From there she takes that lie and ties the Lewis’ false connection to Soros – which she admits didn’t work out too well – and connects Matt to Soros.

But wait! It gets better! She then takes an anonymous post to that first lie-filled post and creates another post about how Matt supposedly had a conversation with a group of strangers, in a public place, bragging about his connections to Soros!

Look – I’ve been around ‘think tank’ people on both sides of the aisle – if you want to believe me – and I sure don’t go throwing around the names of who I’ve hung out with and how much money they spent on whatever they’re spending they’re money on. You just don’t get to be around people like that if you’re going to do stuff like that. Period. You wouldn’t last 3 minutes – they’d nullify you in a heartbeat.

Even The Montana Misanthrope, I’m sure, would back me up on that one.

But it shows the gumption of wanna-be’s who will print anything to drive up traffic on their site.

Now aside from Forward Montana’s mission statement that basically reads:

Forward Montana is:

Cultural Politics – combining music, art and political activism

Mobilizing for Change – using media, email, and the masses to make our voices heard

A New Generation of Leaders – recruiting and training young Montanans to lead in the 21st century.

What does all this stuff mean? In short – a new model for political participation that recognizes that we can make serious change and have a little fun at the same time.

And aside that, as I’ve noted above, just about everything she tried to smear Forward Montana, and in turn, my friend Matt Singer with was lies and bullcrap….

I don’t give one rat’s ass over where in the hell that organization is getting it’s cash.

I know some of it is from me. And I will be calling them tomorrow to up that meager donation I make to them a meager amount more. Yep. That’s right. THIS WHOLE DIRTY AFFAIR IS MAKING ME WANT TO GIVE THEM MORE MONEY!

~~~~~~~~

But back to the topic at hand:

I know lawyers are supposed to twist the facts to make the best case they can for their clients…but are they really supposed to lie?

{Now I really feel dirty. I’ve said what I’ve had to say – so don’t expect me to say anything more. Ugh.}

by jhwygirl

Note: Jason Wiener’s opponent is Justin Armintrout.

1. City Council has been divisive for what seems forever. What do you think is at the root of it all, and what can be done to change that atmosphere?

Currently, the City Council is aligned into blocs roughly corresponding to the central and periphery sections of the city. Wards 1, 3 and 6 represents the Rattlesnake, downtown, Northside, University, slant streets and Franklin to the Fort neighborhoods while wards 2, 4 and 5 are dominated by Grant Creek, Miller Creek, the South Hills and Pattee Canyon/Farviews. While the wards are not homogeneous, they often favor either a more communitarian or suburban ethic. I think a big part of the divisiveness can be traced to the social and economic conditions in the areas represented by the respective blocs. That said, there is something about Missoula that appeals to all of us who live here and we need to figure out a consensus on what those values are and whether there is a way to implement them as policy. Some common understanding of the answer to questions like “What are you doing when you realize you love living in Missoula?” would go a long way toward helping to figure out policies likely to keep this a place we wish to live.

2. If you knew you could garner consensus – what would be the first issue you’d tackle, and what are some specific solutions you’d offer?

I would choose consensus on the desirability of economic diversity. The most important policy for preserving such diversity is the creation and maintenance of affordable housing stock. This is best done by encouraging the construction of housing that remains affordable over the duration of many transactions through land-trust or shared-equity housing arrangements. Missoula should be a city where a broad swath of people can put down roots and feel secure in their homes. I think there already is consensus about that. We need the political will to implement the solutions that already exist.

3. You mentioned design standards in one of your interviews. In what way can design standards help address growth issues? What type of things do you mean when you talk about design standards?

One of the biggest objections to building new housing in existing neighborhoods is the charge that such housing destroys the character of the neighborhood. Design standards could be a tool to conform new development to existing patterns, ensuring that “too much house” doesn’t wind up on “too little lot.” Small lots should have small houses; we shouldn’t be encouraging bigger when smaller is more efficient anyway. Design review could also be a process in which the people impacted by new housing have a chance to offer input to the builder, which could defuse the tension in at least some circumstances. The specific standards might vary from district to district and I would hope to offer builders flexibility for innovative design, but I’m just forming my opinions of different specific policies. For more information, I will
look to other cities with design standards and welcome suggested reading material.

4. What current council member do you admire and why?

I admire Dave Strohmaier’s deliberate manner, sharp intellect and evident discernment in connecting small details with big issues. I admire Bob Jaffe for raising the bar for discourse about city politics with his weekly committee summaries and the listserv discussions they generate.

5. Is there ANYTHING that you want to talk about that hasn’t been asked?

I believe that the job I am asking to do will be the hardest I have ever undertaken. The pressures faced by the city are substantial and the options available are constrained. I embrace the challenge. I look forward to learning from anyone who will teach me. I welcome the hard choices that will have to be made. And I anticipate the reward of doing good when other options are easier. As a councilman, I will be humble and diligent, earnest and honest. I can’t imagine doing something more important with the next four years.

by jhwygirl

I can’t help but to consider my vote with some trepidation. I, and many, are weary of the infighting and mud slinging that has been the norm on council for more than 5 years. There are important issues that Missoula faces, and the ongoing battles draw energy away from finding answers to those problems.

Problems like traffic and congestion, alternative transportation, growth, development, affordable housing.

Instead we’re resurfacing discussions on roundabouts where city funds have been dedicated years ago.

We can’t adjust simple every-day fees, as the city is required to do annually, because it continues to be sent back to committee.

Why must everything be sent back to committee? Can we not just vote on it, and move on?

There were golden years to council – a time when General Comments from Council Members was used to wish a councilperson Happy Birthday or to announce an upcoming non-profit fundraiser, but now it regularly degrades to personal attacks and snipes on other council members regarding past votes.

Missoulians can wait no longer. Growth. Affordable Housing. Transportation. Sprawl. These are all topics that virtually all of us agree need to be discussed in a search for solutions.

With each election, it seems we end up flip-flopping the elected alderperson – trading one camp in one ward for another camp in another ward.

It’s time that we, the voters, decide that enough is enough – that we want a council that will work together – a council that is willing to listen and discuss and search for answers. We need to look a the bigger picture, together.

We can’t do that merely by casting our vote. In the search for democracy and representation, voters have gotten lazy – at all levels, from local on up through the federal level. We can not expect to cast our vote and walk away from the process.

Today’s government is easily accessible – there is email and regular mail, there is the phone. We – YOU – have a voice. You can not expect, with the complexity of issues at hand, to cast your vote and expect to be happy with the results.

Our leaders need our help. They need our input. Democracy is diluted when only a few choose to participate.

It’s time to quit laying blame with the politician.

When you choose your vote for councilperson, consider all of the above – and look for the candidate that recognizes the issues and shows a desire to address them. A candidate that offers solutions instead of complaining about the past. Someone with a vision for a better Missoula. Someone who offers substance instead of snipes.

And after you’ve done that, keep their email handy, follow the issues, and let them know what you expect them to do for you. Whether you’ve voted for them or not, they represent you – and you need to remind them of that.

Without casting your well-thought vote and following-through after the election, you are a part of the problem, not a part of the solution.

by jhwygirl

Note: Pam’s opponent is councilman Don “Just say NO” Nicholson”

1. City council has been divisive for what seems forever. Why do you want the job?

Sometimes I wonder myself. In the end, I hope to help change the environment on Council. Many (about half) of the current members are willing to listen, learn, and compromise. Some, and my opponent is one of them, appear to believe what they believe and there is no changing their minds (except during campaign time). I plan to be a part of the solution, to end the extremism and work towards coming to understandings. I anticipate arriving at many solutions with a different answer than my initial opinion. Maybe I’m watching too much football, but I hope to approach Council as a team. We each have ideas, knowledge, and skill sets that are different from each other. Rather than being combative, we have the opportunity to use each other as resources. Idealistic? Yes – but if I weren’t, I wouldn’t be able to run, let alone serve.

2. What is the most important issue you’d want to deal with it – and can you offer some specific ideas on how to tackle that issue?

There are several very important issues facing Missoula that I would like to deal with once elected, mostly coming under the umbrella of managing our growth. One of the problems under that big umbrella I can offer some specific ideas on is traffic. The entire City has had traffic issues for a very long time. It seems everyone has to get to the other side of the river. But just because Missoula has always had issues with traffic and confusing streets and intersections, doesn’t mean that is the way it should remain.

Ward 2 has probably more than its fair share of traffic issues, namely North Reserve and West Broadway. The traffic issue is complex and involves understanding why cars are on any given road and what has caused the numbers to increase and become unmanageable. Is it because an enormous housing development grew within the last 5 years off of Flynn Lane and the residents need to travel on North Reserve and/or West Broadway to get to work? Is it because housing is too expensive within city limits, forcing people to commute from the south or west to work in Missoula? Or is it simply that the traffic lights need to have their timing adjusted to accommodate a change in traffic flow?

A problem I would like to address is how to get people out of their cars. As a person who travels around Missoula primarily via a single occupancy vehicle, I have done a lot of soul searching for some answers. The first and easiest would be to continue to improve our bike/pedestrian transportation system. Each car, or car trip, that is replaced by a bike is one less at the traffic signal.

The next is to improve our bus system. Mountain Line is a good start for a city of our size, but not good enough for a city of our needs. We need to move towards “premier” service. The bus needs to reach most neighborhoods and business destinations and be much more timely. I have heard many people say that they would only take the bus if the timing were better. When I attended UM, it was faster to ride the bus than try to drive to school and find a parking space. But to return in the afternoon, it was faster for me to walk the 45 minutes home than to wait for the bus. I would like to be able to take the bus to the different schools I substitute in, but again, the timing is off – I would have to arrive very early and wait quite a while for a return.

We also need more park and ride options for neighborhoods where it is not appropriate for the bus to travel, such as Grant Creek. Once we have improved our internal system, we can then work on reducing the commuter vehicular traffic, whether it is light rail from the Bitterroot or extending commuter bus service to Lolo and Frenchtown. After all, it is unreasonable to expect commuters to use some sort of mass transit to get to Missoula and not offer them a means of efficiently moving throughout the city?

All of this is nice, but many people have asked how could we fund the increased service, knowing that ridership fares do not pay the entire cost of service. I believe that if we did a true cost analysis, (cost of roads not built and less maintenance for those in existence, lower personal automotive expenses, less accidents, less traffic enforcement, less air pollution, etc.) we would find that a quality public transportation system is affordable.

A much more complex tool for reducing traffic is to plan growth in a way that reduces traffic. That means denser future development with all ranges of housing options available within the development and with multiuse designed within, whether it is for services or employment. The goal would be to reduce the need for people to get into their cars to drive across the city for work, school, shopping, or recreation.

3. You’ve mentioned that you’d like to lobby the legislature for growth management tools – What tools for growth management would you like to see from the State legislature?

One tool we desperately need is alternative funding sources. As a city, we are very limited on how we obtain funding. Other than State and Federal grants, our only sources of income are from property taxes, mil levies, SIDs and BIDs, assorted fees, and a small amount of gas tax revenue. Essentially, all we can do is tax ourselves.

Although I have heard/read many nasty comments about tollbooths, etc. from those opposed to the above, I continue to feel we need to find some way to get those who visit our city to pay for some of the services they use. Just look at the traffic on the roads coming into and going out of Missoula during morning and evening commuting times and you will appreciate how many people work in the City of Missoula who live outside of City limits and thus pay no property taxes for the maintenance of the City. These commuters increase the wear and tear on City streets and utilize City services, such as police and fire (whether they appreciate it or not), not to mention significantly increase the overall traffic count and air pollution.

In addition, we are the economic hub of much of Western Montana. Missoula businesses profit greatly from those who come to Missoula to shop, be entertained, obtain professional services. You name it, Missoula is where it’s at and people love to visit here, which is terrific…BUT — all of this visiting and spending of money does not put money into City Hall coffers to fund City infrastructure impacted by all of the visiting.

I would lobby for alternative sources of funding, such as local option sales taxes and increased local gas tax. I would be interested in any innovative funding solutions to the problem of being so popular while having to foot the bill for the party.

4. Which sitting councilperson do you admire the most? And why?

This question is the easiest, Bob Jaffe. He asks probing questions on Council and tries to understand the complexity of issues. He tries to be as thoroughly informed as possible on topics so that he can make an informed vote. He also reaches out, providing a web blog so there can be community discussions about a wide variety of issues facing the city. I appreciate him providing short summaries of City Council Committee meetings to the blog, often with background information, so that one doesn’t need to be a devoted Council meeting follower to get the basics of most of the issues before Council. I appreciate and respect Bob’s efforts to increase communication with and between Missoula’s citizens.

by jhwygirl

The Missoula County Board of Trustee is on a search for a new Superintendent…and are seeking public input on the qualities and skills that are important to you.

They’ve posted a questionnaire, which you can either fill out online, or print and mail.

Public input is being sought through December 14th.

Click Here to complete the questionnaire online.

Click Here to print it out and submit it by mail.

You can also call 728-2400, ext. 1024 to request that it be mailed to you – which might be good for lower income families that don’t have internet access, or those with elderly parents who aren’t internet savvy. So pass that information on to anyone you know.

It’s your taxdollars – don’t let this important job which helps guide the future of Missoula’s most precious resource – our children – go without input from the community.

by jhwygirl

I thought I’d put up an open post to see what you have to say about anything you want to say something about.

For the war?

by Pete Talbot

I saw the small display ad only once this week on Page B2 of Tuesday’s Missoulian. It’s asking folks to vote against municipal ballot Referendum 2007-01 (otherwise known as the Out-of-Iraq Referendum).

To me, this is the quintessential Missoula ballot issue and says a lot about what this town is all about.

So the ad caught my eye. It was paid for by “Missoula Supports U.” The ad also names the councilmen and women who voted to put the referendum on the ballot. It reads:

Referendum 2007-01 supported by Childers, Jaffe, Kendall, Marler, Rye, and Strohmaier demands the immediate and orderly withdrawal of 138,000 U.S. troops from Iraq. The immediate withdrawal of a force this large will not be orderly. It will be chaotic. Passage of this referendum will endanger our soldiers’ lives. Vote against the referendum. Protect our troops through a gradual withdrawal.”

The ad raises a number of questions. The first being that the language in the ad is very similar to the language in the referendum:

“The citizens of Missoula, Montana, hereby urge the Congress of the United States of America to authorize and fund an immediate and orderly withdrawal of the United States military from Iraq in a manner that is fully protective of U.S. soldiers.”

The only difference between the two versions is semantics: immediate v. gradual. Both sides want the troops out in a safe and orderly manner. The ad just doesn’t say when.

Another question would be: why would you name the members of council who helped put the referendum on the ballot? Is this ad targeting the referendum, or some councilmen and women who are up for re-election, or both? What’s the real issue?

My final question is: who paid for the ad? The small type on the bottom of the ad lists “Missoula Supports U.” These folks don’t have a treasurer but named Dennis Gordon is the contact person.

So I gave Mr. Gordon a call. We had a very civil conversation and this is what I learned. It seems like his biggest concern is the referendum’s language; that having both an “immediate” and “orderly” withdrawal is an oxymoron, he said. He believes that there are “strong indications that large sections of the country are being pacified” and that the Iraq Army could begin taking over responsibilities.

We agreed to disagree on the success of the surge, and the reasons to leave now or later. Our common ground was the safety of U.S. troops.

He said that “several other folks — a like minded group” were behind the campaign. He admits that by naming council members who supported the referendum made it “a political ad,” but then “it’s a political issue.”

“Missoula Supports U” isn’t registered with Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practice. Now, I’m all for freedom of speech, but if more than a couple people are going negative on a referendum and certain council members, they need to register as a PAC [MCA 13-1-101 (18)]. Folks like me might want to know who’s paying for the advertising, but I’m not going to nitpick over campaign laws.

I respect Mr. Gordon’s position and I believe we want the same thing. I just want it sooner than later.  I can’t follow his thought process that leaving the troops there longer is in their best interests.

Opponents to the referendum have done a decent job of sprinkling goofy dust on the notion of a city weighing in on the war. The main argument being that it isn’t the city’s business to get involved in worldly affairs. Council should just take care of filling potholes in the summer and plowing the streets in the winter.

But this is a moral town, despite what the far right says. Citizens should take every opportunity to give their opinion on the Iraq War. I sincerely hope that Missoula voters add their voice to the growing number of cities and towns that want the troops out, pronto.

If you haven’t sent in your ballot yet, you can still…

Help end the war. Please vote ‘yes’ on Referendum 2007-01.

(Postscript: Helena is running a similar referendum and my sources there say it looks like it will pass. Even the Helena Independent-Record, not known for having a particularly progressive editorial stance, endorsed the referendum. Missoula’s Independent endorsed it here but not a peep from the Missoulian.)

by jhwygirl

1 – City Council has been so divisive for what seems forever. Why do you still want to be on City Council?

My service on the City Council has been interesting and challenging. I’ve had the good fortune to be on the prevailing side on most issues most of the time I’ve been on the Council, and I’ve seen the city grow and prosper.

Looking back, compromise has been the hallmark of everything that’s been accomplished, and there’s been a lot. The civic stadium, new policy toward maintenance of conservation land, accommodating a second judge and expanded court facilities, new Council Chambers and MRA offices, aquatics, continued provision of good services to Missoulians as costs rise, the West Broadway safety issue, new Tax Increment districts, the St. Pat’s/Safeway deal, new and replacement fire stations, everything that’s been accomplished has been the result of discussion and compromise. A portion of the Council, let’s say about 1/3, often stakes out positions from which compromise doesn’t seem to be possible; that’s unfortunate, because constructive participation in the process is way better than the alternative.

2 – How much time a week do you spend on City Council business?

I don’t keep track of that. I go to lots of meetings, do lots of reading, looking at project proposals, trying to solve people’s problems and answer their questions. Thankfully there’s e-mail and digital documents. I can imagine trying to hold down a full-time job, or two and trying to do Council work. I don’t think I could do nearly as much Council work as I do now.

3 – If you could have your druthers – and knew that everyone on council would want to compromise and come up with a solution where at least 3/4 of them would agree – what three issues would you tackle first? And in what order?

The Chamber of Commerce, asked a similar question, which was, if money was no object, what would you make Broadway look like. I gave them a great pie-in-the-sky answer which they apparently disliked. It’s too bad, because it was a great answer.

Which brings me to this question. I’d like to be able to answer it, but I just can’t, because so much of what needs to be done in Missoula depends on outside funding, action by the state legislature, whether the economy stays strong, and so forth. I would like to have more emphasis on things that need to be done, such as a public safety building and a new city/county library and Russell-Third and a good look at what the west-of-Reserve-Street area will look like and more traffic calming and such; and less emphasis on who e-mailed what to whom.

4 – What candidates are you endorsing and why?

Stacy Rye, Christine Prescott.

Stacy’s been a forward-looking proponent and supporter of most policies and projects that have proved beneficial to Missoula. She’s smart and dedicated.

Christine says she will be thoughtful and objective and positive, and do things that are in the best interest of Missoula in the long run. Her training and background indicate that she’ll follow through.

5 – Ward 6 is greatly lacking in infrastructure – poor roads, few sidewalks or bike lanes – while having some pretty major traffic routes – 3rd Street, Russell, Johnson, Mount – what can the city do to help ease the financial burden to homeowners, especially when infrastructure improvements on these major traffic routes will benefit citizens throughout the City of Missoula?

Funding is going to continue to be largely a do-it-yourself thing, unless the City puts new funding mechanisms in place.

By “do-it-yourself,” I mean sidewalks and curbs will continue to be paid for by adjacent property owners, same as always; major local street and alley improvements such as paving unpaved streets and alleys will be paid for through SIDs. Members of the Franklin to the Fort Neighborhood Council are actively pursuing installation of sidewalks on some main internal streets so at least kids can have sidewalks to use on their way to and from Franklin School and to the Good Food Store. They’ve polled residents and applied for CDBG funds to assist lower-income residents. Arterials such as Russell and Third qualify for other funding; we have a very limited supply of “Urban Funds” that gets allocated through the Transportation Infrastructure Plan. That Plan is under review right now.

6 – You supported the war referendum resolution. Can you talk about why you think that supporting it was the right thing to do?

Stacy & Bob carried the referendum, and they asked for my support. I thought, this thing can’t possibly be viewed negatively, all it says is, authorize and fund a safe withdrawal. It doesn’t even say Get Out!, just “authorize and fund a safe withdrawal.” How could there be opposition to that? After all, the Iraqis had done nothing to us before we invaded and occupied their country, and the US had supplied Saddam with a huge supply of weapons to use in his war against Iran.

I didn’t realize when we voted to let Missoulians vote on the referendum that 2 out of 5 Americans are still convinced that Saddam attacked the United States in 2001.

I didn’t realize that a referendum to authorize etc. was going to stoke fires that were kindled during the Vietnam era. I came close to losing some good friends over my vote, and may in fact have lost one that I continue to respect.

If I’d anticipated that, would I still have voted for the referendum? Maybe. Maybe not.

As I said in the beginning, the referendum doesn’t do much. It gives our Congressional folk something to think about when they vote, maybe that’s good, but other than that, it has no legal authority, it has no binding effect, is it really worth it? Don’t know.

by Rebecca Schmitz

Before George W. Bush moves on to his next war, his countrymen should have a chance to send a message about the direction of the the current one. Missoula has that opportunity this election with the Iraq War referendum. Opponents of the referendum dismiss it as a waste of the city’s time, and tell us that foreign policy issues are best handled by our Congressional delegation. I disagree. Change needs to start somewhere. Why shouldn’t it begin at the local level? If we don’t stand up and say “NO” to our President how can we honestly expect the same of anyone else at any level of government? Free speech is never a waste of time, especially when lives are on the line.

Mark Tokarski at Piece of Mind wrote an insightful post last week about our government’s plans for Iraq:

The U.S., Halliburton and KBR have been busy these past four years constructing fourteen bases, five of which are superbases that can house as many as 100,000 permanent troops…Congress, of course, passed a resolution forbidding permanent bases in Iraq, and in true Orwellian fashion, mere statement of noble intent covers up a whole lot of ignoble plundering. Of course the bases are temporary. They are only meant to last thirty or forty years – long enough to extract the oil wealth out of the country.

These bunker-cities are big business. War profiteering has become rampant in Iraq. Among the worst offenders is the former Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (now known officially as KBR). The November issue of Vanity Fair magazine has an expose of KBR’s activities:

KBR’s current military-support contract is known as the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, or logcap. This is the contract’s third incarnation, and, like its predecessors, logcap 3 is a “cost-plus” contract: whatever KBR spends, the government agrees to reimburse, with the addition of a fee of about 3 percent. The more the company spends, the more it makes, so it pays to be profligate. All the former employees I spoke to told of KBR’s over-ordering equipment such as computers, generators, and vehicles on an epic scale. Millions of dollars’ worth of equipment was left to rot in yards in the desert.

Frankly, it’s disheartening to read such things. It’s hard to believe one small city in a largely rural state unblessed by the fruits of the Electoral College can make a difference. Who cares what Montana thinks? That’s what the opponents of the Iraq War referendum would have you believe. Maybe I’m a hopeless idealist, but I think Missoula’s opinion does matter. Small towns and cities across the nation are taking a stand against George W. Bush’s bleak vision of America’s future: a series of metropolis-bunkers spanning the globe providing endless profit for the well-connected few. Unfortunately, few elected representatives can find the courage to stand up to the war profiteers and their supporters in the Bush Administration and Congress. Therefore, it’s time we did. Maybe only then will they finally listen to us.

Vote YES on Missoula’s Iraq War Referendum.

Help?

anyone got a copy of the recent Nicholson mailing and a scanner?

I, unfortunately, was not on his mailing list.

jhwygirl at hotmaildotcom

by jhwygirl

This is a repost, originally posted January 28, 2007 at MontanaNetroots. It refers to an event held in Helena, Montana on January 27th.

Representative Art Noonan of Butte stood in front of the State Capitol, in the brisk 15 degree Montana blue sky day before a crowd of peace supporters that included WWII and Vietnam veterans, Knitters for Peace, a Woman in Black and dozens of others, and posed that question.

A free-form rally was held on Saturday to coincide with MoveOn.org’s march in Washington DC – which our own Cece is in attendance by the grace of a MoveOn.org scholarship.

Noonan was joined by Senator Steve Gallus of Butte and Representative Julie French of Scoby, all of whom spoke passionately in support of our military and in protest of the war in Iraq – of the lies and falsehoods that got us there, and of the enormous cost in human lives as a result.

Noonan’s speech welled tears in my eyes – man, can that man speak! – and I dare say that there were several others also wiping away tears. In a moving speech, Noonan detailed how our nation got to this point, with lies of weapons of mass destruction, with lies of connecting 9/11 to Iraq and with the truth that we all know now. He spoke of the tremendous sacrifice that is being asked of our nation’s sons and daughters and posed this:

Ask yourself – What is the value of a life?……….And then ask yourself – What is the value of a life given for yours?

This is the question our nation needs to ask. This is the question our nation needs to answer. How many lives are worth what our president seeks in Iraq? And can what our president seeks in Iraq ever be found? Blindness to this very essence of what the war in Iraq has brought us – thousands of American lives lost at a cost that is undefinable and with lives which are priceless in value – is what must be considered, and what must never be forgotten.

Representative Julie French told the crowd of her son who had served in the service, and a younger son who has told her that if he is asked to go, he will do so without question. She spoke of her unwaivering support of men and women in service and HB 179, which she sponsored, that will create a Montana monetary relief fund for families and soldiers called up for federal service. She noted that while the monetary amount may seem insignificant in relation to what is actually being asked of the service men and women and their families, it is important for Montana’s sons and daughters to know that we, the people of this state, support them 100%.

Senator Steve Gallus began the event, speaking of his lack of approval for the war, and told the crowd of his pride in helping to carry forward, in the State Legislature, Representative Michele Reinhardt’s resolution to protest the Iraqi war.

As Shane noted below, the exhibit of excellence in leadership by Gallus, Noonan and French was heartening. The people of Butte and Scoby are fortunate to have such fine people representing them in Helena.

Vote YES to Missoula’s Iraq War Referendum.

by Jay Stevens

From today’s Missoula Independent feature of Matt Singer:

“We’re both young guys interested in politics and interested in Montana,” Erik Iverson says of the impetus behind their meeting over beers earlier this year. “I obviously want young people to get involved in politics and paying attention and volunteering and voting. It’s better for democracy and better for Montana.”

‘Nuff ced. That should put an end to the wild accusations against Forward Montana from Missoula Republicans…right?

*crickets*

by Rebecca Schmitz

I suppose it was inevitable: in the wake of the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, people have taken the initiative to help others in a time of crisis outside of official (and officially inept) channels. Forget FEMA, it’s now up to us to save each other from natural disaster.  The Brownies of the world certainly won’t do it. The California State Assembly Republican Caucus knows this, which is why they’re offering vital help and information through the filter of partisan party politics for residents of the Golden State affected by this year’s wildfires.  Of course, that help is accompanied by thoughtful public statements from recently-elected caucus members and those up for re-election next year.   Would we expect any different from a website operated by the Democratic Party?  Absolutely not, which is why it reminds me of the efforts of Christian missionaries in the Third World; you can have a bowl of rice, but it’s going to be served with a lecture about Jesus Christ. 

No, I take that back.  I would not expect the Democrats to put together a good website like Calfires.net because they’re too disorganized.  Say what you will about Republicans, at least they stay on message, present a united front, and bring professionalism to the party.  Take notes, guys, because it will be Montana’s turn again next summer.  An election year is coming up.  And whether you live in the Bear Republic or Griz country, a good politician should never miss a chance to communicate to the voters–even if they’re fleeing a wildfire.   

      

How Much More?

by jhwygirl

3837 U.S. soldiers dead.

98 U.S. soldiers killed since September 1st, 2007.

24 Sons of Montana.

Spc. Donald M. Young, 19 – Helena
Staff Sgt. Travis W. Atkins, 31 – Bozeman
Cpl. Chris Dana, 23 – Helena
Staff Sgt. Shane Becker, 35 – Helena
Army Spc. Scott Dykman, 27 – Helena
Army Pfc. Shawn Murphy, 24 – Butte
Marine Lance Cpl. Nick Palmer, 19 – Great Falls
Sgt. Travis M. Arndt, 23 – Bozeman
Pfc. Andrew D. Bedard, 19 – Missoula
Staff Sgt. Aaron N. Holleyman, 26 – Glasgow
Capt. Michael J. MacKinnon, 30 – Helena
Cp. Dean P. Pratt, 22 – Stevensville
Lance Cpl. Jeremy S. Sandvick Monroe, 20 – Chinook
Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus, 28 – Wolf Creek
Lance Cpl. Nicholas William B. Bloem, 20 – Belgrade
Petty Officer 2nd Class Charles V. Komppa, 35 – Belgrade
Sgt. 1st Class Robbie D. McNary, 42 – Lewistown
1st Lt. Edward M. Saltz, 27 – Bigfork
Cpl. Raleigh C. Smith, 21 – Troy
Pfc. Owen D. Witt, 20 – Sand Springs
Private Matthew T. Zeimer, 19 – Glendive
Army Spc. Michael Frank, 36 – Great Falls
Staff Sgt. Yance T. Gray, 26 – Ismay
Pvt. 1st Class Kyle G. Bohrnsen, 22 – Philipsburg

4 U.S. Soldiers missing or captured

135 Journalists killed

655,000 Iraqis killed

Vote YES to Missoula’s Iraq War Referendum.

by jhwygirl

In the latest MissoulaGov listserv Ward 3 Councilman Bob Jaffe reports that Ward 4 Councilman Jon Wilkins spoke about sprawl and his theories behind it. Bob wrote:

During the discussion (in today’s committee meetings) there were some comments about encouraging sprawl. Jon Wilkins said something to the effect that we shouldn’t be complaining about sprawl because those of us that have supported infill have done more to create sprawl than anything else that has happened. This infill has caused people to flee the neighborhoods and build in the outskirts of town.

Bob went on to muse:

Personally I think this argument is bunk. But I have heard it repeated a lot. Does anyone know if there is any data that supports or refutes this position?

I don’t know about data Bob, but my thought is that Missoula’s sprawl can be directly attributed to people trying to get away from Councilman Jon Wilkins.

But that’s just my NSHO.

by Jay Stevens

Some quick hits from Missoula:

Anthony Michael Dailey, the man who killed biker Stacie Ann Dewolf, was sentenced to 30 years in the Montana State Prison, the maximum allowed by law. He pled guilty to vehicular homicide; it was not part of a plea agreement.

I said it before, I’ll say it again: justice was served, but the punishment has yet to be crafted that can bring back the dead.

Also in today’s Missoulian was City Attorney Jim Nuget’s opinion about emailgate:

“City Council deliberations pertaining to City Council agenda items should be conducted openly in public so that the public has an opportunity to observe the deliberations,” Nugent wrote. “The public’s right to observe City Council deliberations is important for complying not only with Montana’s public right to know law but also for facilitating the public’s right to public participation.”

Sounds about right. Those of us who have had jobs with company or government email accounts know that email conversation is not personal, but public, correspondence, despite the solitary and informal nature of the craft. Now the question is – how to use electronic communications and open them to the public? How about a city council blog that allows public comment?

And last, Mike Jakupcak must have read yrs. truly’s post urging all city council meetings to begin with a chicken dance, only he improved on the idea by donning a chicken suit and reading a pro-chicken poem created for the event:

Before more serious issues arose, Mike Jakupcak read a poem asking councilors to grant chickens “urban asylum” and resurrect from committee a proposal to loosen up a regulation that mostly bans hens from city limits.

“Seek common ground between tastes of Colonel Sanders delicious/And sanitation freaks complaining our droppings are odoriferous,” read Jakupcak, to laughter and applause all around.

You can read the poem at the Missoulian’s new blog, Western Montana 360°. (And why am I always the last person to find about new blogs?)

by jhwygirl

This guy isn’t even finished with an election yet, and he’s already under investigation!

The Missoulian piece brings us more details on Lewie Schneller’s law-breaking campaign for Ward 6’s city council seat.

The Office of Political Practices is investigating Councilman Childers’ complaint, which he filed on Friday, against his opponent Lewie Schneller. Unfortunately, there are 26 other complaints ahead of Childers’, and it’s not likely that they will get to it before the November 6th election deadline.

Among the details the Missoulian give us, Lewie Schneller’s not very smart:

Schneller admitted Monday he had not reviewed his opponent’s voting record before printing campaign material and said he was relying on others to provide him information and to “proofread” his literature.“I was relying on the information I was receiving through consultation with the political folks I was involved with,” Schneller said.

Not smart enough to oversee his own campaign, and not smart enough to select smarter people than himself. Do we really want this guy on city council?:

However, Schneller said his sources thoroughly reviewed his campaign literature before it went to print, and they raised no concerns about the information.“I had these people proofread everything. I was never led to believe that there was any impropriety or wrongdoing,” Schneller said.

Schneller is also awfully secretive:

He said his sources included “two or three” sitting council members, but refused to disclose the identities of those councilors or others involved. Schneller also said he considered his literature generally true – though perhaps not precise.

Maybe the Missoulian should contact each sitting councilperson and see who lays claim to serving as one of Lewie’s proofreading political advisors?

Wonder who would admit to being part of this mess?

This whole ugly situation only illustrates the nasty partisanship and lengths to which certain politicos will go to get what they want.

Lewie’s ‘political advisors’ will undoubtedly sit back and let him swim on his own with this – they don’t want to be connected to this illegal activity.

Ugh. The thought of 2 more years of nasty personal attacks and partisan politics and “NO” to anything and everything which moves towards improving our community is too much to bear.

Lewie is someone’s puppet – already. If he’s not smart enough to take the blame on his own for this mess, I wonder if his so-called ‘political advisors’ even still want him around?

My guess is that they’re screening their calls and checking the caller ID.

by jhwygirl

I missed this – but UM Journalism students have a website – Missoula’s Choice 2007 – which has information on all 12 candidates for city council along with information on both ballot issues – the Iraq War Referendum vote and the $10 million building reserve levy request from Missoula County Public Schools.

Check it out.

by Jay Stevens

Jason Wiener: Philosopher, journalist, editor, former investment banker, and friend.

I should start off by acknowledging that Jason Wiener is a friend. We shared an office when I was in the University’s writing program and he was in the philosophy department, and are still pretty close. Well…as close as you can be when you’ve got three-year-old twins.

That said, Jason is an excellent candidate for the city council. I don’t say that because of any ideological or partisan allegiance: while Jason won the endorsement of the Missoula County Democrats and endorsements from folks like John Engen and Heidi Kendall and Dave Strohmeier and Robin Hamilton and Ron Erickson, etc & co, Jason is utterly and completely his own man with his own, unique view of the world. He started out as a New Hampshire libertarian – and oh man! did we have some fun conversations in our cramped little office – but he’s since adopted some progressive ideas and policies. Still, he’s hardly what I would call a typical progressive candidate. If anything, I’d call him practical, in that he’s wickedly informed on city policies and issues and will make decisions on what works for Missoula, not necessarily what subscribes to his pet ideology.

In short, you won’t find a smarter, more competent choice for the Missoula city council anywhere.

As for his opponent, Justin Armintrout, I admit I know considerably less. Still, like Jason, he’s an advocate of smart growth and affordable housing, and a Democrat — who failed to win the Missoula County Democrats’ endorsement largely because he missed the candidates’ forum (and the subsequent special meeting held for him failed to achieve a quorum). And that’s despite the kiss of death levied on him by Missoula Republicans, an endorsement by their county central committee.

But like Pete, I’m troubled by Justin’s opposition to impact fees and his claim that the city department that oversees zoning, etc, is overfunded – that, combined with his background as a realtor, makes me worried that he’d be too closely allied with Missoula developers in a city where we need smarter planning to control how growth occurs. (Else we’ll end up – not like Berkeley or Portland, as Missoula righties fear – but like LA or Vegas or Phoenix with suburbs and box stores spread out over the valley floor.)

And, while I certainly find Armintrout’s fears that Jason’s relationship with the Missoula Independent might compromise its endorsement for the Ward 1 race, his walkout during his interview suggests that he’s not ready to step into the contention and divisiveness of the current city council, where qualities of civility and diplomacy are perhaps more called for. Justin had a chance to win over the Independent and sabotaged it.

That, and Jason’s been the harder working and more organized candidate during the election season, and I’ve got no doubt that that energy and dedication will continue into his job as Ward 1’s city council representative.

Here are the relevant links:

Foward Montana’s voter guide for Ward 1.

New West’s interviews with Jason Wiener and Justin Armintrout.

The Missoulian profiles Jason Wiener (plus video) and Justin Armintrout (plus video).

The Missoula Independent on Ward 1: “After paring away the extraneous relationships with each candidate, the Indy confidently offers a strong endorsement of Wiener. For a newcomer to city politics, he’s unusually well informed, with a solid understanding of the fundamental issues. But we especially appreciate his thoughtful perspective on a councilman’s role as a leader who must translate community values into specific policy. For Wiener, the function of council is to listen and lead, as opposed to thrust and parry.”

by jhwygirl

Yesterday I posted a piece on city council candidate for Ward 6 Lewie Schneller’s violations of Montana’s election laws.

Boy, that opened a can of worms!

Apparently councilman Ed Childers, the other candidate for Ward 6, has filed a complaint regarding Lewie Schneller’s campaign fliers with The Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices.

In the comments to the post, Councilman Childers provides us with this interesting piece of information:

You’ll find that Lewie wrote, 10/16/07, (after fixing his disclaimer address error, which I don’t much care about):“#2. Information concerning Ed Childers voting record was received by me thru conversations with currently sitting Missoula council members, and a weekly political advisory group which I attend on a regular basis. To the best of my knowledge, the information on my brochure is true and correct.”

It also seems Childers has been in contact with Political Practices for some time, because Lewie Schneller has already had time to defend his flyers – by saying that he’s gotten his information on Childers’ voting record “thru conversations with currently sitting Missoula council members, and a weekly political advisory group which (he attends) on a regular basis”

So which council members are feeding Ward 6 candidate Lewie Schneller information such as “increased local property taxes at 6% per year for the past 8-years” and “proposed doubling the current city council salary from $11,000 to $22,000”???

And as for the “weekly political advisory group” which he “attends on a regular basis” – should we have any doubt who they are?

Liar.

Any and all candidates for council should be disgusted and outraged at this lie-filled smear campaign.




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