Archive for November, 2007

by Jay Stevens

Just yesterday I wrote a post about Missoula PAC director Amy Rue’s involvement in another failed PAC in Pennsylvania, a bit of information I had just caught. Naturally, the information was already out there. Stacy Rye mentioned it in a city council meeting more than a week ago – which was, as far as I can tell, the first time the public had heard of it.

Big news, right?

The Missoulian‘s Keila Szpaller:

Two years ago, the Missoulian undertook its own investigation of the center’s past troubles and Rue’s potential involvement. After multiple interviews with both critics and supporters of the Mountain Laurel Center, the Missoulian ultimately concluded that she was not to blame for the center’s woes; a story on the subject was never published.

Hey, you know, oops. Maybe if Missoulians are expected to shell out 20 million for something, we have a right to this information in its full context.

by Jamee Greer

Roughly three hundred Missoulians came together for We Are Missoula, a rally in response to the recent anti-gay violence here in the Garden City. Monday’s rally began at five, and by 5:01 the L-shaped floor of my favorite establishment, the Badlander, began to fill with a perfect cross-section of Missoula.

Speakers from the political realm included Senators Christine Kaufman and Dave Wanzenried, Representative Michele Reinhart (an honest roll-model for young Montanans), Mayor Engen and County Commissioner Jean Curtiss… and statements were read from Montana Senators, Max Baucus and Jon Tester, as well as State Representative Diane Sands, who wasn’t able to make the event but wanted to show her continuing support for civil rights. Members of the Missoula Police Department, which has made amazing progress in working effectively and openly with the city’s queer community, made rounds through the crowd offering hugs of support and reminding folks of the importance in reporting every act of violence. Mayor Engen was first to take the stage, urging survivors to discuss their stories—and reminding the attackers that hate is not welcome in our town.

Many of the speakers centered on the importance of hate crimes legislation inclusive of gender identity and sexual orientation, something the Montana Legislature has been unable to pass despite efforts back into the early nineties.

Statements from both Montana Senators were read:

(Senator Tester’s statement was kept short and sweet)

In Montana, personal freedom isn’t a luxury. It’s a God-given right. Here—and any place where personal freedom and privacy are sacred—there’s no place for violence spurred on by hate or fear.

Know that I support legislation making attacks like these hate crimes. I’ve done it before. And I’ll do it again.

Montanans deserve no less. They see good in each other, do good for each other and respect each other despite their differences. That’s the Montana way.

(…and from Senator Baucus)

I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person, but I applaud your efforts. As Montanans and Americans, we value freedom and individual liberties. We respect those who have differing views, and we know that personal freedom and privacy is paramount.

That’s why I’ve supported hate crimes legislation in the Congress. And that’s why I stand with you today to make sure that no Montanan has to live in fear.

Jess Keith, a survivor of the attacks on November 4th, took the brave and courageous step of speaking before the crowd. She was introduced by her friend, Melissa Darnell, who made a trip up to Missoula for the rally from California. Reading her poem to the attackers, An Open Letter, Melissa thanked them for igniting a passion to fight such injustice, ending with:

to you I say:

your hate
your fear
your bigotry
your violence

empowers me
energizes me
encourages me
ignites me

and I am not alone.

Love.
Is.
Love.

and that is much
much
M U C H
stronger

than the f o u r
of you

(the piece is available in entirety on her blog.)

As a queer Montanan, I can’t begin to express the feeling of solidarity and support I felt standing with my fellow Missoulians. People were shocked. They were frightened. And they were full of resolve to make a difference in the lives of others they hardly knew anything about. There is still so much to be said of that evening, and so much more to be done in our struggle for civil rights. But I’ll end my first post on 4and20 with one realization from the rally,

I am not alone.

by jhwygirl

This kind of things happens in Montana – I can recall two events of this sort over on a road by Thomson Falls in the recent past, say last winter or the winter before.

I can’t seem to find the stories, but I recall a mother and son having been stranded – and then another person doing the same thing on the same road in the space of a few weeks.

Yet another reason not to rely on in-car navigation systems.

If anyone has ever traveled that road that the not-so-hapless German tourist did – even in the summer – you have an idea of how absolutely damned lucky he is.

And then there is that winter thing in that part of the world.

It’s odd – but I had just dreamed of that road recently.

by Jay Stevens

Here’s an interesting report about Missoula ’s proposed Performing Arts Center in today’s Missoula Independent:

A lot can go wrong with a performing arts complex. When the small resort community of Bushkill, Pa. committed to build the $37 million Mountain Laurel Center, it envisioned regular performances by a major symphony orchestra, increased tourism, and more jobs.

Instead, the Mountain Laurel Center closed in 2003 after just seven performances, canceled the next year’s entire schedule as well, and pushed the local county government to default on $17 million worth of bonds.

Normally, a troubled Pennsylvania civic project would matter little to Missoulians, but the executive director of the Missoula Community Performing Arts Center, Amy Rue, served as the development director for the Mountain Laurel Center until shortly after it opened.

This is the first I’ve heard of this, although Stacy Rye mentioned it in the recent city council deliberations about the project.

To be fair to Rue, she was responsible only for raising private donations for the project, and the Pennsylvania center’s demise may have more to do with its remote location than anything she did, but it does raise questions about the ability of projects like these to actually make money, and benefit the communities they populate.

Just check out this blogger’s account of Richmond, VA’s experience with a Performing Arts Center (hat tip, Goof). Or this report on Duhram, NC’s PAC.

In fact, I’ve been doing Google searches for some time now looking for success stories for PACs. I’ve found a lot of links to stories on PACs that “expect,” “hope,” or “plan” on revitalizing urban areas. I’ve read articles that state, baldly, that building a PAC will revitalize a community, but without offering any evidence. But I’ve found no links to any PAC story that has actually been wildly successful, especially in a small town like Missoula .

The jury’s still out on this issue for me. But before we invest heavily in something like this, shouldn’t we know the success rate of other, similar ventures? Has anybody done a story on this? Or a report? Twenty million is a lot to throw away on a project.

Help me out. Throw me a link.

New B’birder on Board!

4&20 wants to welcome aboard Jamee Greer, who will be joining us here shortly. As a UM student, Jamee will provide us with a U. perspective, something us fossils around here were somewhat lacking.

He will also write about anything that he darn well pleases.

Jamee was an organizer of the recent anti-gay violence gathering, We Are Missoula: Speak up. Stand OUT!

Welcome aboard Jamee! We’re glad to have you!

by jhwygirl

….on the tails of yesterday’s Cabela’s post.

Wulfgar! (I didn’t forget the exclamation point! It defines him. He put it there for a reason, to show how in! your! face! he is.) wrote an excellent piece a while back on his experience out hunting one afternoon. It was quite timely, as that day I had a conversation at work that was similarly related.

Wulfgar!’s piece is a must read.

A guy I work with (and his wife) are avid hunters. He enjoys walk-in hunting – going to areas where he walks in behind locked gates. Often, he tells me, he walks in 5 or more miles.

When you are hunting, that can result in quite a bit of work – especially if you are successful.

One particular afternoon he was darn far back behind a locked USFS gate. An ATV come speeding up to him – through the woods, and off of the road.

“Didja see anything?” he asked, not even shutting the damned thing down.

“No,” was my friend’s reply.

Not 15 minutes later another ATV buzzes by – by this time my friend was on the road, and the ATVer, too, was on the road.

“Didja see anything?” this one asked, too. Again, not even shutting the damned thing down.

“Nothing but assholes on ATVs,” was my friends reply.

Now, I got little against ATVs. I’ve ridden them, they’re fun. I actually have to use them for work. But in the above example, there are roads. This was a gated area, for whatever reason. There are roaded areas that are open for mechanized travel. There are roaded areas that are closed to mechanized travel.

If I owned property and it were treated like that which my friend exhibited – or like that which Wulfgar! experienced, do ya think I’d want to open it up for every joe under the sun to come up and hunt?

What is it they say?

“All it takes is a few bad apples.”

And that’s a shame, isn’t it. I mean, if the USFS can’t prevent trespass like that, how in the hell is a private property owner going to deal with it?

by jhwygirl

It is days like today that I just love my job:  The semi-frozen Blackfoot, big horn sheep, big bull elk and their cows, white-tailed deer, mule deer, bald eagles, and a big blue sky – Montana has wondrous offerings, I’m only too happy to enjoy.

What do you have on your mind?

by Pete Talbot

Kim Todd, wife of 4&20 founding father Jay Stevens, has an essay in the latest issue of High Country News. It’s a wonderful piece in one of my favorite publications. Give it a look.

(P.S. I’ve just returned from a trip to Madagascar. Miss me? Hope to be filing some thoughts and photos soon, if I can just figure out how to upload, download, crop and edit in Flickr and Picnik. Then I’ll try to crank out some copy in a style that approaches Ms. Todd’s. Yeah, right.)

by jhwygirl

Bill Schneider of NewWest has piece up titled “Cabela’s Desecrating its Own Brand” which calls on the outdoor sports vendor icon to “get out of the real estate market.”

On an basic level, I agree with Mr. Schneider. The issue he’d like to see remedied, though – he and many others – is public access to what the Montana Wildlife Federation calls “traditional public hunting properties.”

At the heart of the matter is the fact that Cabela’s is using its brand name to promote the sale of high-end real estate through its franchise “Cabela’s Trophy Properties.” And the high-end real estate it sells is sold to buyers who cut-off access to the public. Primarily sportsman’s access, I assume. Because I don’t hunt, and I’m being cut-out too.

As I said, it’s not that I disagree with the piece. It does seem, though, to make a pretty big assumption (if only by association) and it fails to recognize the heart of the issue. It is well worth the read, and I definitely recommend the piece. There are tons of comments.

The heart of the issue is not Cabela’s hypocrisy – it is a corporation, after all, geared towards making money. It feigns no non-profit status. Nor is it realtors in general (although I personally hold realtors in such regard that is only slightly above the dog do-do I stepped in the other day. (ouch, I know – go ahead and slam away)

I’ve mentioned that I have a thing for trial attorneys – so don’t even go there.

The problem lies – if you really wanted to seek a solution – with the assumptive leap of calling the lands “traditional public hunting properties.” They’re not. The public has no right to recreate on private lands. And private lands are what we’re talking about.

If one really wanted to seek a solution to the gobbling up of Montana’s lands by out-of-state buyers who cut-off public hunting and public access (and not all of those who are buying these lands are from out-of-state), seek a solution with the owners of the properties. Those that are selling. Not the agent.

Truth is, Montanans are fiercely pro-property rights, to their detriment in many cases (zoning in East Missoula, for example). Few, if any, Montanans are going to place blame on the property owner – who has the ability to grant, prior to sale, any darn easement of his choosing across his property as he so wishes – they’re going to blame it on Cabela’s.

It’s convenient and it’s easy: Blame it on the corporation.

Realtors all over the state are selling former ranches and large tracts of land – but this is the first time I’ve seen the anger of the loss of access pointed towards anyone but the out-of-state landowner. Like I said, it’s easy.

Montanans, it seems, don’t even want to blame the in-state realtor. It’s only the evil out-of-state corporate Cabela’s Trophy Properties.

Truth is, Cabela’s is playing the same role that Trout Unlimited played this past legislative session with regards to public access to the state’s rivers. The same role that Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is playing with its conservation easement services it provides to large donors. Only Cabela’s is doing it from the purely profit-oriented corporate world, not the non-profit perspective of TU and RMEF.

I’d love to blame Cabela’s – that’d make it easy to solve, wouldn’t it? Put such pressure on a publicly owned and traded corporation that they’d be faced with a choice to either go out of business or change their ways – solve the public access issue, right?

Wrong.

Focusing the blame on Cabela’s won’t solve the issue. It won’t even put a dent in it.

by jhwygirl

Last night’s city council meeting saw the approval of 627 acres of open space easements in the south hills of Missoula, an event that Missoulians forever will look back (or up, or over) and be grateful.

Missoula was actually blessed with 1052 acres of open space easements – including a 425 acre easement that was outright donated by the Hayden family.

The Hayden family made their donation to Five Valley’s in early October.

The Rimel family’s easement – 160 acres of their working ranch – and the Line family’s – 427 acres of their working ranch – were put into conservation easement by Five Valley’s Land Trust and preserved in perpetuity as open space on the hills surrounding the the valley.

1052 acres is a hell of a lot of land. In fact, the easement represents a large majority of all remaining South Hills open space visible from most of the City and the Missoula Valley.

Five Valley’s Land Trust had a really neato 3-D map that put the size and scope of the open space into an awesome perspective. I couldn’t find it on the website. Hopefully they’ll be putting it up.

The easements cost the city and county $1,167,750 of its open space bond – and Five Valley’s Land Trust donors threw in $200,000 more.

The Line and Rimel families weren’t finished with just placing their land into conservation easement. They reduced the cost of that easement, combined, by 42% of the fair market value of the land. In other words, this easement should have cost almost double what it did.

This open space – unlike the other recent acquisitions – came with an amount of public access. John Rimel agreed to a public trail easement along the north border of his property. If negotiations are successful – with the Craighead’s, I believe – the public will have access from the Whitaker Drive and Rimel Road all the way to Hillview Way, connecting to Moose Can Gully Park.

John Rimel spoke, emotionally, to council last night, detailing how the discussion all began – years ago, over a few beers. Six month later, another beer or two – and eventually things began to come together. Just hearing him speak made me want to give him a big ole’ hug.

Instead, maybe I’ll just send them a Christmas card.

Thank you Dick and Joyce, John and Whitney, and the Line family. You’ve given Missoula a legacy that generations yet unborn will enjoy. Forever.

by jhwygirl

Former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastart (R-IL) has resigned.

That finishing the day that started with Trent Lott saying bye-bye.

I said 21 Republicans leaving the other day? Boy, was I wrong!

Make that 23 and counting…..

(note:  The previous title may have offended some.  I never had that intent – I apologize.)

by jhwygirl

Looks like Dave Wanzenried, a State Senator representing the Missoula area, won’t be running against Dennis Rehberg for our one, at-large, U.S. Representative seat.

A statement released today confirms it.

by jhwygirl

A coalition of more than 30 local organizations – including Forward Montana, Montana Human Rights Network, ACLU, the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center, and Hellgate High School Gay-Straight Alliance – are joining with the Western Montana Gay & Lesbian Community Center to hold a community rally tonight at The Badlander, from 5-8 p.m.

This event is being held in response to recent anti-gay violence in this community. The rally will include political speakers, short theatrical/dance performances and music. Filmakers from MCAT and Jane O’Holly Productions will record the event to help document stories from the LGBT people who have experienced some form of violence because of the sexual orientation or gender identity.

4&20 wrote about some of these violent attacks. We also speculated “Makes you wonder what it is that you don’t hear about.”

The local statistics are both shocking and disturbing. Jamie Greer writes:

According to the Missoula Police Department, current reports of hate and bias crimes against gay individuals are small in number. However, at the November 13 LAMBDA focus group on hate crimes, just 4 out of 30 community members and students had not been affected by some sort of anti-gay harassment or assault.

26 out of 30 experienced violence?!

Like I said – shocking and disturbing.

Here’s another one:

In 2006 the FBI attributed 19 percent of all violent attacks to be motivated by a victim’s sexual orientation.

One-fifth?!

If the FBI can compile statistics, maybe the Missoula Police Department should take note too.

Perhaps the Mayor can help with that.

~~~~~~~
We Are Missoula: Speak up, Stand OUT!
Where: The Badlander (at Ryman and Broadway, downtown)
When: Tonight, 5-8 p.m.
Cost: FREE! The event is open to everyone

by jhwygirl

Today’s Montana Standard has a tedious little piece on the Montana cash being raised by the presidential candidates.

A total of roughly $257,000 has been raised by presidential candidates here in Montana – with nearly 25% of it going to the John Edwards campaign.

A total of 58% of the cash given to presidential candidates has gone to the Democrats.

The leading Republican getting Montanan’s money is Mitt Romney. He’s raise about half of what Edwards has raised. $32,010 versus $66,114.

When you look at the overall picture of presidential cash, it’s even more interesting. A total of $416.2 million has been raised, 51.4% Democratic candidate cash.

While Hillary leads the whole darn pack nationwide, not so surprisingly she doesn’t even garner 5% of Montanan’s money.

The statewide picture is interesting too – the most cash isn’t coming out of the Missoula or Kalispell area – it’s the Butte-Bozeman zip that’s giving the dough.

by jhwygirl

Or is it tragedy in humor?

First there was this.

Then there was this.

Not so ironically brought to us by Shakespeare (& Co.).

The man should write a book.

by jhwygirl

Normally I watch Meet the Press (immediately after watching Face the Nation) on Sunday mornings, but this week’s Face the State program caught my ear as the topic was the Montana Food Bank Network (MFBN).

Face the State is a locally produced news show – produced at any one of the several CBS affiliates across the state. It is on here in Missoula on Sunday mornings, at 9 a.m.

Gayle Carlson, who heads up the Great Falls Food Bank, was guest on today’s show. She presented some startling statistics on hunger here in Montana.

708,000 persons received food assistance here in Montana in 2006.

That figure is over double from 2004.

2006’s figure equates to a number that would be nearly 2/3 of all Montanan’s.

Nearly 50% of those receiving food assistance have someone employed in their household.

Those facts are startling folks.

Ms. Carlson told of a recently divorced woman, with 3 children, who came to the local food pantry for assistance. In her own words, Carlson said that “she’d never have thought that this woman would have needed assistance,” but that she was going through a hard time, and that the food pantry gave her the boost she needed to get her through the rough patch. She is doing fine now, and no longer needs assistance.

Myself, I see hunger in my own neighborhood. It’s not that obvious. I get up every morning around 6:30 to walk the dog, and that is where I see the need. I see several neighbors who are picked up (by others needing breakfast? by volunteers?) to be taken to their morning meals.

An older gentleman who lives nearby has meals-on-wheels delivered. I occasionally take him a meal – he loves my beef stew and my chicken and dumplings. The first time I did it, his gratefulness was so apparent, I have never forgotten to make large batches of that stuff (when I do make it) just so I can make sure he gets some.

Montana’s citizens rank somewhere near the bottom in terms of personal income – ranking 45th in 2004 (what was a move up the scale at the time), but ranking 49th in 2006. What Ms. Carlson emphasized is that the face of hunger in Montana isn’t necessarily what people would typically assume – it is not just homeless and unemployed people. It is the “working poor class” that is food challenged. It can be neighbors, it can even be co-workers.

This giving season, Craig at MTPolitics and Matt at Left in the West have revived what I think we all hope will be another successful fundraising event – the Montana Bloggers Fund for the MFBN.

The Montana Food Bank Network is a network of food banks and food pantries. It is also part of the nationwide organization America’s Second Harvest.

Montana’s food banks are large warehouses that distribute food, as needed, to community food pantries located throughout the state. A donation to the MFBN will help people throughout the state.

Please donate if you can.

by jhwygirl

These three guys are presiding over the Senate while the rest of ’em are taking a much needed rest.

Our own Senator Tester, though, is still at it – the man knows no rest it seems – having spent last Monday up on the border meeting with U.S. Customs and Border Protection

The three Senators above – Webb, Dorgan & Reed – are taking time away from their families in the name of – as Senator Webb (D-VA) put it – “an exercise of protecting the Constitution and our constitutional processes.”

This is because Bush had notified Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that he intended to fill some appointments during the Senate recess.

Recess appointments are a favorite of George Jr. – he’s made 167 of them, notable amongst them the controversial John Bolton, as U.S. representative to the United Nations. Bolton had faced a successful filibuster in the Senate due to allegations of his use – and abuse – of wiretappings of U.S. citizens. The Bush Administration backed up his man by refusing to release documents related to said wiretaps.

Bolton was put into place during the summer recess of August 2005. He resigned in December 2006, just before the swearing in of the new congress – when he would have had to face the new Senate for confirmation.

This time around, it is assumed the objet d’affection is Dr. James Holsinger, Bush’s nominee for the post of Surgeon General. Holsinger was nominated back in May, but it seems time hasn’t been right to bring the nomination forward. It won’t be. Holsinger is a homophobic nutcase who founded a church that ministers to people who no longer wish to be gay.

Wonder how they were recruited for that position? Ye-shall-burn-in-hell preaching abilities? Bet those guys and gals were at the top of that game.

Has he tried out his ministry on Mary Cheney yet?

These pro forma sessions may look silly – a lone Senator and 4 or 5 staff, sitting before an empty Senate floor, opening and closing the Senate in the space of less than 30 seconds – but they are important to protecting our constitutional process. They’re also important in protecting us from nutcases like Dr. James Holsinger.

Thank you Senator James Webb, Senator Byron Dorgan, Senator Jack Reed. You are appreciated.

by jhwygirl

Buried in the financial folly of the Performing Arts Center and the Hillview SID vote this past Monday – of which only ONE city councilperson was consistent in their fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers – Ward 3’s Stacy Rye – was a vote on the final authorization for construction and funding of the Hill/Higgins/Beckwith roundabout.

Now, this roundabout moved forward after a lengthy debate that was held for several meetings back in 2005. There have been several interim votes since then, all related to authorizing finance related matters – contracts, federal funding paperwork, etc.

All sitting councilmembers have voted on this project at one time or another.

Failing to approve final authorization of construction and the $55,000 in funding for the Hill/Higgins/Beckwith roundabout would have resulted in the city loosing $180,000 in previously spent engineering fees along with a delay of 20 years to obtain state funding to improve a poorly designed (thanks to feuding developers from back in the late 1800’s) intersections.

Let me repeat that – failing to approve final authorization of construction of the Hill/Higgins/Beckwith roundabout would have resulted in the city loosing $180,000 in previously spend taxpayer funds and a delay of 20 years in fixing a dangerous intersection.

There was only one “nay” vote Monday night – Ward 2’s Don Nicholson.

At least he was fiscally consistent – he voted against the Hillview SID too.

Notably, though, there were 4 councilmen who abstained. Yep. Abstained.

Now, the 4 that abstained – Ballas, Reidy, Wilkins and Hendrickson – have all voted on this project before. Consistently voted “nay” whenever anything vote related to the Hill/Higgins/Beckwith roundabout came up – but hell, at least they voted, right? (or wrong, as it were, right?)

Abstaining from this vote was childish. They can’t stick to their guns? They can’t show a little backbone?

At least they were semi-consistent with their consistency related to their lack of fiscal responsibility to the citizens – these same “Fab 4” voted against the Hillview SID.

Maybe they knew that voting against the funding would show them to be irresponsible with taxpayer money?

Sorry “Fab 4” – bowing out of the vote all together, especially when you have all voted on this thing before, makes you weasels. And fiscally irresponsible.

So nestled in the Engen-inspired chaos of Monday night was a third issue that helps illustrate how fiscally responsible a councilperson is to the citizens.

Above, when I mentioned that only Ward 3’s Stacy Rye was fiscally consistent with her vote to deny any extension to the Performing Arts Committee and to approve the Hillview SID (she voted ‘nay’ to the motion to deny the SID), I was wrong.

I should have added that Ward 3’s Stacy Rye was the only one consistent on all 3 votes.

by jhwygirl

By now, everyone has read that Bill Kennedy, Democratic challenger to Dennis Rehberg’s congressional seat has dropped out of the race due to health concerns. Concern naturally lies with Bill and his family, and we all truly do wish him the very best and better health in the future.

Several names have been tossed around as potential challengers to Dennis’ seat – locally we have David Wanzenried contemplating a run. Other names that have been mentioned are Kendall Van Dyke, a state representative out of Billings and Steve Doherty, former state senator from Great Falls and current chair of the MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks commission.

Highline Lily threw another name out yesterday to contemplate: Mike Wheat, who is currently a candidate for Montana’s Attorney General seat (held currently by term-limited Mike McGrath).

Doherty is also rumored to be contemplating a run for the AG’s seat as well.

Wheat is a Bozemanite who has roots here in Missoula, having graduated from law school here in 1978. He’s also a decorated Marine who served a tour in Vietnam.

Previously, Kennedy was giving Rehberg a good run for his money – with Rehberg caving on CHIP and most recently his having-found-religion reversal on congressional earmarks.

The CHIP link, warning, will take you to Denny’s original point of view on CHIP.

Rehberg has plenty of reasons to be concerned – Tester’s win, and Schweitzer’s strong support among some of those reasons.

Republicans across the United States, though, are running scared – in neighboring Wyoming, 7-term congresswoman Barbara Cubin is calling it quits, having faced both a tough primary run and an even tougher general election challenge in 2006 – and there are, in fact, 21 other Republican’s that will departing the lush offices of the Senate and the House:

In the Senate:Wayne Allard, CO
Larry Craig, ID (maybe – I think both sides are hoping for Craig to make this list)
Pete Domenici, NM
Chuck Hagel, NE
John Warner, VA

In the House:

Barbara Cubin, WY
Terry Everett, AL
Mike Ferguson, NJ
Dennis Hastert, IL
Dave Hobson, OH
Duncan Hunter, CA
Ray Lahood, IL
Steve Pearce, NM
Chip Pickering, MS
Deborah Pryce, OH
Jim Ramstad, MN
Ralph Regula, OH
Rick Renzi, AZ
Jim Saxton, NJ
Tom Tancredo, CO
Jerry Weller, IL
Heather Wilson, NM

~~~~
I find it the possibility intriguing that we may have a candidate for Congress right here in our own back yard – or at the very least, one with some roots right here in Missoula.

Hopefully, though, the Montana Democratic Party will come up with a candidate quickly.

“Time’s a wastin’,” as they say.

by Jay Stevens

Nothing:

SCENE: a box factory

NARRATOR: If you thought there was a small chance that a baby was hidden in a box, wouldn’t you treat the box as if it held a baby, just in case?

SCENE: an ultrasound image

NARRATOR: So even if you think there’s just a small chance that an unborn child is a baby, shouldn’t you treat it as if it were, just in case? Something to think about.

by jhwygirl

….should prove for an interesting few hours and some healthy conversation on, among other things, taxes.

Hillview SID will be before the full council, and you may recall that it didn’t fair so well in its last committee meeting with the SID being recommended for denial by a vote of 7 – 1, with Ward 6’s Ed Childers being the lone dissent.

Instead of working its way through the waiver issues, council caved to threats of lawsuits despite the assurances of both Director of Public Works Steve King and former director and current City Administrator Bruce Bender that the method of assessment has been utilized over and over, and was legally defensible. Keep in mind we’ve had 500+ SID’s before this one.

Don’t forget, either, that Dick Haines seems to believe it is the role of city government to play the role of banker for future developers.

Caving to pressure in Hillview will send a message to the rest of the community that all you have to do is get out there is somewhat nominal numbers, threaten to sue, and then you’ll be able to avoid an SID….

That healthy discussion, therefore, should include a discussion on HOW to provide for the improvements needed on Hillview – how to provide for safety and sidewalks and bikepaths – how to keep cars from landing in people’s yards. Is it taxes? What does that require? How much will it require? Will those that deny the SID vote to raise taxes? Where will the money come from? And how will it be prioritized?

Now that is the question? Does anyone see Haines/Hendrickson/Ballas/Wilkins voting to raise taxes?

Juxtapose that discussion upon the Performing Arts Center request for an 18 month extension on the parking lot at the old Fox Theater site. 18 months. What does 18 months get us? Another request for another extension in 18 months. And almost certainly another extension request after that. It also gets us a request for a $20,000,000 bond.

We just voted down a $10,000,000 school bond.

And if they if they get that $20,000,000 bond, they’ll then be fishing through the community for another $20,000,000 in donations just to get the performing arts center off the ground.

A vote against the performing arts center is not a vote against the arts. It is not a vote against economic development. It is a vote for reasonableness.

We need a new police station – hey – maybe that new police station should go right there at the triangle? – we need infrastructure, roads, street lights, and we need more police personnel, considering how the Griz football team is stretching the force’s time.

The city/county should not abuse or overstretch its ability to bond and the good will of its citizens by asking for $20,000,000 for a performing arts center with so much necessary matters needing attending.

Good luck to all the council people tomorrow night. They’re gonna need it.

by Rebecca Schmitz

Bestselling author and part-time Montanan James Lee Burke has a letter about the proposed Bitterroot Resort in the Missoulian’s Letters to the Editor column today:

Regarding the debate over the development of Lolo Peak, the central issue seems to have been quickly diverted into a discussion of jobs and real estate values, etc. That’s all good and fine. An individual, for the most part, can do whatever he wishes with his private land, and if he creates jobs for other people, even low-paying ones, so much the better. But the group wishing to develop Lolo Peak wants to use public land and in effect to change the character of a mountain that is one of the most beautiful in western Montana. That’s the issue.

That land belongs to all of us. It also belongs to people who have not been born yet. We’re entrusted with its care. We are also entrusted with protecting it. But rather than rely on words in a letter to the editor or reportage on a public meeting, drive just south of Lolo Creek on Highway 93 and look westward at the mountains whose faces have already been scalped with ski runs that are evidently the first stages in the development of a Lolo Peak ski resort. To say they are ugly doesn’t do them justice. They look like enormous lesions. I assume they represent the model for what will be done on Lolo Peak as well.

The fact that a small group of people can even propose commercializing a state and national treasure and then seek to negotiate the issue strikes me as mind-numbing.

James Lee Burke, Lolo

Reading that, I could hear Detective Dave Robicheaux patiently explaining the economics of our area to his wife, Molly.  Then I started wondering…what would Clete Purcel have to say about Tom Maclay’s land grab?

by Rebecca Schmitz

Hey, I know. Look at what I typed up there. That’s an incendiary title for a post. But I’m not going to pretend otherwise; I’m not calm, cool and rational about my access, or that of any other woman, to safe abortion and birth control. You and I know, reader, that both strike at the very heart of what it means to be a woman in the 21st Century. Thanks to the pill and legalized abortion, we’ve been liberated from the idea of biology as destiny for nearly fifty years. I don’t care what your politics are–nearly every single one of us uses birth control, knows someone who’s had an abortion, or has faced an unplanned pregnancy thankfully knowing there are medically safe options out there for us. No, instead I’d like to win you over, Republican, Independent, Libertarian or Democrat, female or male, to what I’m about to say.

I think Rick Jore’s initiative should be allowed to make it to the ballot next year. Yes, that’s right. I’m rabidly pro-choice and yet I think he should be allowed to gather signatures and try to make it to Montana’s 2008 ballot without our lawsuits or other rigmarole. I’ll admit, normally the very idea that my body, my genitalia, my civil rights should be up for a vote incenses me in a way I imagine Booker T. Washington or W.E.B. DuBois felt when they saw the outcome of Plessy vs. Ferguson and the encroachment of Jim Crow on American culture and politics over 100 years ago. They were not defined by the color of their skin and I am not the sum total of my uterus, vagina and fallopian tubes. The idea that people out there still want to control all three disgusts me to my very bones. But you and I are able to fight back in this case, thanks to the very person who’s bringing this initiative forward. That’s why we should let Representative Jore gather signatures and that’s why we should be there every time someone thinks about signing one of his petitions.

Continue Reading »

by Rebecca Schmitz 

The next time one of your conservative friends wants to debate your stance on “Islamofascism”, the Iraq War or, as our President would pronounce it, the “War on Terra” remind them of what one of our key allies is up to these days:

A court in Saudi Arabia increased the punishment for a gang-rape victim after her lawyer won an appeal of the sentence for the rapists, the lawyer told CNN. The 19-year-old victim was sentenced last year to 90 lashes for meeting with an unrelated male, a former friend from whom she was retrieving photographs…”After a year, the preliminary court changed the punishment and made it two to nine years for the defendants,” al-Lahim said of the new decision handed down Wednesday. “However, we were shocked that they also changed the victim’s sentence to be six months in prison and 200 lashes.”

Really, if we’re going to invade countries without a tie to September 11th, if we’re going to use focus-grouped catchphrases like “Islamofascism”, and if we’re going to pretend to care about the spread of democracy, justice and equality around the globe, perhaps we ought to make friends with the right people.

Oh, silly me, I forgot. It’s not about any of those things. It’s about our energy, stupid.

by Jay Stevens

You know, I’m not real keen on articles or reports that generalize about any particular generation – after all, there are millions of us out there doing our own thing. But…still…then there’s something like this, “Will the Real Generation Obama Please Stand Up?,” by Lakshmi Chaudhry, which, well, kinda sorta nails my particular generation – “Generation X” – and its path to politics…

So forgive the indulgence of this post. If you’re offended by self-obsession, move on. I’ve been curious about how I got where I am – I’m only a recent newcomer to politics and its wrangling – how the h*ll did it happen? And this article answers that question in a way…

Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Calling back my hero worship, sadly.

Seems Jaffe is waffling on what seemed to be his lack of support for extending the hold on the city-owned riverfront triangle property for the proposed $60,000,000 performing arts center.

The one that wants to ask the citizens for a $20,000,000 bond and donation of the land itself – worth in the several million dollar price range if not more? Anyone, please, kick in there with a value on that prime piece of real estate….

He’s now saying “If the PAC committee can find a $20,000,000 donor, and if they can raise an additional $20,000,000, and if the voters approve a $20,000,000 bond, they will be good to go.”

That’s a whole lot of ifs there Bob. And last I looked, there really isn’t any pie in the sky. In fact, there’s just a whole bunch of storm clouds lately.

We have an very worthy organization, Missoula Community Radio, that is seeking to obtain an FCC license for the last FM radio signal here in Missoula – a radio station that would be an “unfiltered media source” – which I think most of us all would agree is very worthy. It would provide an venue for local musicians and the local community organizations and promote communication. All in a non-profit setting.

They aren’t asking for free land – and hell, they haven’t even gone to the city and ask them to donate the $8,000 that they need to pay the attorney they had to hire to help them through the complicated FCC license application process.

You can donate to this worthy cause – I know they’d appreciate it. Even if everyone that reads this blog today donates just 5 bucks, that would be a hell of a nice chunk off of that $8,000 bill.

Instead, we have a Public Arts Committee (PAC) that seems to think it is entitled to a piece of city-owned prime real estate, entitled to a $20,000,000 taxpayer bond, and entitled to a $20,000,000 jump-start donor – – all because they are a “worthy cause”.

Well – Missoula Community Radio is a worthy community cause. HomeWORD is a worthy community cause, United Way Missoula is a worthy community cause – the list goes on and on.

We have more important things to do than to deal with this – and if the extension passes, we will continue to have to deal with this time-sucking cash-sucking venture.

Ward 3’s Stacy Rye kicked in with some common sense after Jaffe’s waffling began last night:

On one hand the Council is told we’re not doing anything but supporting a reservation of land. On the other hand, we’re told that if we don’t support it, we’re doing away with the project because they can’t find a major donor without public (City of Missoula) buy-in. I do not like being put in that kind of position, and yes, it’s fairly clear to me that if we do support this, we are giving a stamp of approval, not simply an extension of a land reservation.

Amen Stacy.

So I may not have a hero on City Council – but it does look like I have a shero.

City Council has no business, whatsoever, giving away a piece of prime real estate to anyone. Lease it, yes. Sell it, yes. But giving it away is wrong.

City Council has no business reserving a piece of property for an entity that is asking for it to be given to them. Again – lease it to them or make ’em pay for a reservation – it’s done all the time in real estate…called a “right of first refusal”…but they’ve had quite a bit of time already with absolutely no takers on their offer to have someone give them a $20,000,000 check.

Does anyone think that, if sent to the voters, a referendum to give the multi-million dollar property away would pass muster? Doesn’t council have a fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers to act more prudently with city-owned property? Hell – maybe I should check the law on that one.

And having already had that prime piece of riverfront property in their hands, reserved, fee-free, for two years now is telling. They say they need the reservation to get a donor, and yet it hasn’t happened.

It ain’t gonna happen – and the City needs to move on.

There’s more important things at task.

by jhwygirl

Yesterday, Ward 2’s Bob Jaffe posted an open letter on the MissoulaGov listserv (created by Jaffe) which outlined his concerns regarding the proposed $60,000,000 Performing Arts Center.

Overall, he expressed concerns on a number of levels – the limited amount of public money available; the recent failure of the $10,000,000 school bond coupled with the need for a $20,000,000 bond for the proposed arts facility; and the inability of other similar arts facilities to maintain affordability despite being able to increase attendance and revenue.

He also called into question the overall ability of the arts community to be able to fund the project when they weren’t/aren’t able to support the art museum’s shortage on last season’s heating bill.

The City had to kick in $100,000 to pay that bill.

He also cited other examples of the city having to bail out these types of ventures – naming specifically Swim Missoula and the stadium bail out.

(I may have a new hero!)

Jaffe’s initial post garnered only support – former city administrator Janet Donahue comment summed up well the voice of all of the initial posts.

Bob, as much as I love the cultural aspects of Missoula and have participated musically on many levels, I don’t believe the city and I can afford to foot the bill.
I believe we would have to subsidize the Performing Arts Center which will take resources from many basic needs facing Missoula, such as bike/ped/auto infrastructure, police facilities, fire stations, equipment needs, and parks development to name a few.

Then late (11:12 p.m) last night, Geoff Badenoch, former head of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency and previous candidate for Mayor, posted comments from the Performing Arts Committee – citing

I was contacted by the Committee of Missoulians working on the performing arts center project. Since they are not members of the list serve, they asked me to submit the following comments on their behalf. These comments were put together in haste due to the late hour and because they felt at a disadvantage in not being involved in this exchange of information from the outset.

(Like the listserve is some sort of exclusive group.)

What followed were two replies to the listserv, by Badenoch, filled with a collection sniping remarks disputing the numbers put forth by Jaffe – who apparently had done quite a bit of homework, contacting other communities to gather information – and citations of recent concert attendance at the Rolling Stones and Elton John events as illustrating a need for another arts facility.

(It’d be worth it to point out that Badenoch’s posts, garnered from comments he gathered, appeared to be cut-and-paste — so apparently, these comments were gathered by email, further shredding the cries of the critics who felt “at a disadvantage of not being involved in this exchange of information from the outset.”)

Talk about apples to oranges – just because some concerts sell-out at the Adam’s Center doesn’t mean that we need another facility. It’s not like the Adam’s Center is holding concerts every night and turning away venues.

Today, the 12-member Administration & Finance Committee dealt the proposed arts facility its death blow – voting 9-3 against holding on to the riverfront triangle property for an additional 18 months while the PAC attempted to gather its magical sugar daddy (or mama) that would ‘spark’ the project with a check for $15,000,000 to $20,000,000.

That’s a whole lot of zeroes.

Bob Jaffe and the 8 others who used some good old common sense and fiscal responsibility to the City of Missoula should be lauded for their brave stance. It’s not easy to say “No” – I think it needs to be done more often – and it definitely needed to be done in this case.

Let’s hope that the PAC’s sour grapes aren’t so sour that they they call on the end to the listserv. If they do it’ll be shame on them.

(In full disclosure, I have not been a fan of the arts center. I have previously posted this at Montana Netroots.)




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