Archive for November 14th, 2007

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.)

by jhwygirl

Daniel Nairn of Discovering Urbanism attended last night’s Envision Missoula transportation planning meetings held at the University by the Office of Planning & Grants.

Head on over and check out his piece.

They’ll be one more meeting (since it’s already nearly 9 p.m.) – Thursday’s meeting is from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Ballroom North at the University Center.

If you need more information, contact Mirtha Becerra, 258-4989.

by Rebecca Schmitz

Lewie Schneller defended his campaign against Councilman Ed Childers recently, in response to a complaint filed with State Commissioner of Political Practices Dennis Unsworth. While the heart of the Ed’s complaint is the fact that Lewie may have misrepresented his votes on City Council, I was struck by this:

[Lewie] said he relied on his supporters, including some council members, to proof his material, but he declined to name them…“I am unaware of any legal requirement to disclose sources that I have consulted with…”

While it’s illegal to conduct an anonymous campaign against a political opponent, it’s not illegal to provide simple assistance to a candidate for office.  However, this isn’t Dick Cheney’s infamous 2001 super secret squirrel Energy Task Force meetings.  It’s a campaign for a City Council seat in a small Montana city.  What’s with the hush-hush crap?  Why can’t a sitting member of City Council admit to providing analysis and advice on a colleague’s voting record?  It’s a savvy political strategy on the part of a challenger.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.  Unless, of course, that Councilman is trying to hide the fact his information about the colleague’s voting record was not, as required by law, accurate and true. 

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