Archive for October 30th, 2007

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.




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