Archive for February, 2008

by Rebecca Schmitz

The glow from the chandeliers and pendants at Western Montana Lighting provided an interesting backdrop for the introduction of the Brown-Daines ticket to Missoula voters yesterday, if only because of irony. The candidates were surrounded by light on Reserve Street, but Steve Daines’ far, far-right politics will drag Montana back into the darkness of superstition. How can we trust these two men to lead our state in the 21st century when one of them was the Montana chairman for Mike Huckabee’s campaign?

Daines called Huckabee a consistent leader with down-to-earth credentials that are solid and consistent with the majority of Montanans.

Really? The majority of Montanans support putting AIDS patients in, essentially, internment camps? Most of us don’t believe in or understand the science behind the theory of evolution? We want to abolish the rule of law in favor of the Word of God? Something tells me many Montanans aren’t comfortable with the level of religious fundamentalist and big government intrusion in our private lives that will be part of a (highly unlikely) Huckabee administration, a level presumably supported by his state chairman. Not only that, but if we want our state, and our nation, to enjoy economic success in the new millennium we need to embrace science and education. As Lawrence M. Krauss, writing in The Wall Street Journal, states:

America’s current economic strength derives from the investments in fundamental research and technology made a generation ago. Future strength will depend upon research being done today. One might argue that many key discoveries occurred as a result of importing scientific talent. But as foreign educational systems and economies flourish, our ability to attract and keep new talent could easily erode. Even with a continued foreign influx of scientific talent, it would be foolish to expect that we can maintain our technological leadership without a solid domestic workforce as well. Almost all of the major challenges we will face as a nation in this new century, from the environment, national security and economic competitiveness to energy strategies, have a scientific or technological basis. Can a president who is not comfortable thinking about science hope to lead instead of follow?

Can Montana’s future workforce, today’s students, get the scientific literacy necessary for the 21 century economy from a Brown-Daines administration? Steve thinks so:

“Elections are about the future,” Daines said. “It’s going to take a steady hand to guide our economy through what appear to be unsteady times.” Daines said the Republican team will emphasize jobs and the economy and lay out plans for the more efficient operation of state government.

Sorry, Steve. If Mike Huckabee’s brand of anti-science, anti-human progress “down-to-[flat]-earth credentials” are an indicator, any administration in which Huckabee’s state chairman plays an important role isn’t ready to guide tomorrow’s workforce, let alone today’s economy, in this new century. Our state’s educational and economic success depends on having people in office who understand basic science.  Daines is right in one respect, though. Elections are about the future. And his leadership role in the Southern Baptist minster’s presidential campaign reveals a lot about what he thinks the future should hold for Montana: a return to the ignorance of the past.

by jhwygirl

Lost in the horrible murder story and the subsequent kudos that went to the local and other law enforcement agencies working on the murder at Copper Run apartments were the actions of an anonymous neighbor who saw her neighbor scrubbing blood off of the third floor walkway.

She could have turned the other way – she could have gotten in her car and stopped and gotten her coffee on the way to work and went on her merry day that Thursday.

Many would have done exactly that.  In fact, call me a cynic, but I bet most would have.

Instead, she picked up the phone and called police.

You know the rest of the story.

This unsung hero is an example of what it means to live in a community.  It is an example of the social responsibility that is so rare these days.

Missoula is safer for having this unnamed person around.

Thank you unnamed person.

by jhwygirl

Monday night’s pragmatic city council meeting brought us not only the vote which canned any discussion towards putting a $9 million tax levy on the next ballot – which, after I heard the discussion, I found myself in agreement – but also the unveiling of a mini-documentary on affordable housing by Mayor John Engen.

I find myself writing the rest of this from memory as I didn’t TiVo the meeting like I sometimes do. Sure as hell wish I did now. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. So if I say anything inaccurate below, blame it on old age. Or the alcohol.

Produced by MCAT, along with Planning Director Rogar Millar and OPG’s Mike Barton, it profiled the face of affordable housing – which is your neighbors and fireman and policemen and clerks and nurses and engineers and working professionals and service people. It oulined the problems that many businesses face in recruiting employees. It interviewed people like developer Collin Bangs, WGM head and every subdivision developer’s favorite Nick Kaufman, and a young couple that had to buy in Stevensville to find something affordable.

That couple now drives Hwy 93 daily to work here in Missoula, along with, literally, 1000’s of other Ravalli County residents. Can’t blame that on Ravalli – hell, they’re supporting our workforce, our economy!

Ravalli has been our affordable housing – but that is changing quickly, isn’t it?

While it didn’t include a lot of statistics or facts and figures (a small failure, IMO) – it is certain to be brought out in future discussion. It did include an interview with a mortgage lender who told how a household making $54,000/year could only afford a home that costs no more than $156,000. That $54,000 figure happens to be the median income of a family of 4.

There aren’t a lot of homes on the market for $156,000. Decent quality homes that don’t need tons of work and new water heaters and furnaces and foundation work, etc. The market simply doesn’t address the enormous need that is there.

First time home buyers, depending on their loan, have to purchase a home that passes that first time homebuyers inspection. Most don’t.

The mini-documentary also articulated the economic impact that the lack of affordable housing has on the valley – with one interviewee asking “Is Missoula missing out on economic growth?”

The production was revealing even to Dick Haines, who said it gave him something to think about.

Haines, incidentally, announced his candidacy for Mayor on Monday night also. More on that, eventually….but remember you heard that here first, about 2 weeks ago.

Engen announced the first community meeting of the housing discussion for March 13th – again, if my memory is off, hopefully he or Ed or any one of our other wonderful councilpeople will kick in here.

We’ve written pretty damned frequently on affordable housing here at 4and20blackbirds, and if you want to review some of our thoughts, please hit the “affordable housing” tag over to the left, under Categories.

With all that being said, when people start dissing on the discussion (which has yet to be had!) and start pointing to the recession as a solution to an essential workforce affordable housing issue that has hovered over this valley for at least 10 years now – ask them why they find it so hard to work through the discussion – to wait and hear the community speak. Ask them why they are embracing a recession as a solution. And then ask them to participate.

That’s about all my brain cells stored that can be at least semi-accurately reported. John Engen and the rest of the community that worked on that production deserve a huge big THANKS for starting that discussion.

Personally, I can’t thank them enough.

by jhwygirl

Myron Cope, longtime radio announcer and the Pittsburgh Steelers biggest fan passed away today. He was 79.

Myron was the father of The Terrible Towel – a tradition he started during the 1975 Pittsburgh Steelers quest for their first Superbowl ring.

Today, sports stadiums across the world now twirl their own towels.

Cope trademarked The Terrible Towel and 100% of its proceeds have gone on to benefit the Allegheny Valley School, an institution for profoundly mentally and physically disabled individuals.

While primarily known for his thickly accented raspy voice (think “ain’t” and “Warshington” and “younz”), Cope was a superb sports writer. He was on the original staff for Sports Illustrated, and wrote also for the Saturday Evening Post. His profile of Howard Cosell, written for Sports Illustrated, is recognized as one of the best pieces of sports articles ever.

Myron was a hero to many, including the Pittsburgh Steelers. Before his retirement from the Steelers organization, Chuck Noll, longtime coach who led the Steelers to 4 Superbowl wins in 6 seasons told Myron that the Steelers could not have done it without him – that the “Terrible Towel took them over the line many, many times.”

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and his is the only football announcer inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

Steelers fans everywhere mourn his loss. He will, undoubtedly, be cheering them from the heavens.

That was Myron Cope, on sports.

by jhwygirl

Tomorrow night, City Council will take the steps towards moving forward with very early plans for a new regional park at Fort Missoula. The consideration for tomorrow night is approval of $90,000 for design development which would provide cost estimation and a phasing plan for 25 acres of what may eventually be an 82 acre park. The plans would include a sports complex, picnic area, historic interpretations, trails, native and formal gardens and numerous other amenities. Many of this is outlined in the 2002 Fort Missoula site plan adopted by City Council.

With Missoula’s exploding growth, a regional destination park at Fort Missoula is an excellent idea. Soccer and baseball fields are crowded – and analysis shows that of all major Montana cities, Missoula has the least number of athletic fields per capita. Missoula provides less than half of the recommended athletic fields per capita as recommended.

I have friends who bring their children here for soccer games and soccer tournaments from all over Montana – fields are crowded, parking and traffic flow is poor. Last summer, her daughter’s team bus was struck by a vehicle in a crowded exit of the fields up the Rattlesnake. Any parent could tell you that could be traumatic – especially when your child is 120 miles from home.

Our parks generate revenue for this area – families come and stay in hotel rooms, they eat dinner in our restaurants, and then there is the obligatory shopping spree at the mall or Costco or wherever…all businesses that employ Missoulians.

What is clear is that to plan something like this, it is going to take some cash. We’ve done the master plan, and now Parks & Rec is asking for some cash to plan and project costs. A properly done regional destination park can’t be simply thrown together. You all know the saying – you’ve got to spend money to make money.

A park at Fort Missoula is a great idea. Let’s hope that council can come together on this an realize that it is a summary of many things – quality of life, investment in the community that is lacking what so many other communities have across the state, and investment in economic viability. It’s a good thing for many – not just the kids, but local businesses.

I’ll go further here and suggest that instead of bemoaning the fact that the historic buildings at the County Fairgrounds need saved, move them down there with Fort Missoula. There’s 92 acres – and the county even owns land down there too. The fairgrounds used to be way out of town – but they are now surrounded by commercial development. There’s little room for parking when the fair is actually in town – and the real estate would serve a far more valuable service as affordable housing if paired and planned as a housing trust.

And let’s not forget that not just people making 80% and less than the median need affordable housing. The working people – police, fire, nurses, small business – everyone – needs affordable housing. Frankly, I’m tired of all this focus on providing grant monies to those at 80% and less….there’s a hell of a lot of people out there struggling.

I see I’ve digressed to rant.

With that being said, I’ll add one more: Why is the bond that is being considered only for city residents? With a regional park, it seems to me that there are going to be people from all over the county using it. Kids from (at the very least) Frenchtown, Lolo and Clinton would be playing soccer on those fields. Rugby, baseball, and football players from all over. Little Griz….

If there’s going to be a bond, I suggest that the whole county chip in. Not only does that spread out the costs – it probably gets it done faster.


by Pete Talbot

Missoulian reporter Michael Moore writes in a Sunday column about some of the changes taking place in the modern newspaper newsroom.

Not only are reporters writing stories, they’re shooting video (and recording audio), and then editing and posting that video and audio. And they’re blogging, too.

I once had a client ask me if I could also shoot still photos while I was doing a video shoot in the jungles of Borneo. I said, “sure, I can give you mediocre stills or mediocre video … actually it will all be kind of mediocre.”

I mean, I’m only a demigod. Show me someone who can write, record video and audio, edit and polish a piece, and do it well, and I’ll show you a god.

I know there’s a lot of pressure on the old print media to compete with television and the Internet. You Tube alone has revolutionized news gathering.

So has the print reporter gone the way of the cooper? I hope not. One of the reasons I rarely watch local television news is that I want more than a cliché-ridden, two-minute version of the news, sprinkled with a few ten-second sound bites.

Here’s another consideration. Will newspaper content be driven by how cool a video can be produced out of that day’s news events?

“Let’s see,” says the newsroom assignment editor, “should we cover the dancing dogs at the park or the county-wide zoning hearing at the courthouse?”

I know television news stories are often assigned on their visual potential: “If it bleeds, it leads.”

I read newspapers, and even occasionally online versions of newspapers, for detail and depth. I want background, research and lengthy quotes.

I just can’t imagine Carl Bernstein or Bob Woodward lugging around a digital video cam and shotgun mic. So, call me old fashioned, but I’m worried about the direction reporting is taking.

I certainly don’t begrudge newspaper reporters branching out and trying something different. The Billings Gazette’s Ed Kemmick does a fine job of both reporting and blogging.

But are there enough resources at your average daily to support all the extra duties being assigned beat reporters? Are more reporters and editors and photographers being hired? Is the training and mentoring in place to help reporters transition into this brave, new world? Something has got to give and news mediocrity will be the rule, not the exception, if reporters are asked to do more-and-more stuff with the same level of staff and preparation.

by jhwygirl

Here and Here.

by Jay Stevens

We’ve had some pretty rousing bike talk here at the b’birds, mainly from motorists who claim that bicyclists — who don’t pay any gas tax — are freeloaders on the city streets. Naturally, I disagree. Bikes don’t require the streets that cars do, bikes don’t wear down the streets.

Still, the question lingers.

Fortunately, there’s Daniel Nairn, who did the math, and concludes:

In the final analysis, as much as Hummer Jake may not want to admit it, bicyclists are the taxpayers who are actually subsidizing motorists. Fortunately, most folks are not too worried about accidentally paying a little to help somebody else out.

Yup, bikers are subsidizing motorists’ bad habits.

I certainly would be in favor of paying some sort of bicycle tax if that meant the city would tear up those unslightly and extremely dangerous roads designed for cars and build in their place pleasant little paved bike paths throuought the city…

You know, I’m beginning to feel a lot less generous than Daniel. Maybe I should get a tax refund based on the number of miles I bike in the city…

by jhwygirl

KPAX reported tonight that the recent Envision Missoula transportation planning meetings suffered a glitch in the nifty hand-held computer devices which collected data from the participants at the Wednesday evening session.

Because of that glich – the consultant’s computer crashed, loosing the collected data – Mike Kress, Senior Transportation Planner, said that another meeting will be held to do exactly what they were trying to do – which is collect information from Missoula’s citizens on their thoughts of how the area’s transportation system should tackle our transportation and growth needs in the future.

{sigh} I know those planners have worked very hard at doing their best to make the community aware of its meetings and of gathering as much community and public input into the planning process. If only all of our planning processes were as diligently transparent.

Kress said he expected the meetings to be held in 2 to 3 weeks.

by jhwygirl

I’d link to the article in the Missoulian, but they didn’t even bother to provide the website…I had to go googling.

Oh, the sacrifices I do for our readers!  All for free!

Seems UM’s Monte is nominated as one of the possible mascots for Electronic Arts soon-to-be-released Wii version of NCAA Football 09.

Voting for the NCAA Football 09 Wii Cover Mascot Challenge will start on Thursday, February 14. By visiting EA’s website, fans can cast one vote per day for their favorite college mascot until the contest closes on Thursday, March 6. The winning school’s mascot will be announced March 14 on the NCAA Football 09 website.Fans will be able to choose their favorite NCAA FBS (formally known as Division 1-A) college team mascot, and will ultimately decide which college mascot will represent this year’s NCAA Football 09 Wii cover.

In the Big Sky/Sun Conferences, there are three choices – Monte, the Middle Tennessee Lightening and the North Texas Scrappy.

What the h*ll is a Lightening or a Scrappy?

Lest anyone forgets, I’m gonna put this post under “Pages” over to the left. If you are here reading 4&20, you need to be voting for Monte.

So that’s one vote per day folks. No excuses.

by Pete Talbot

Last weekend, congressional candidate Jim Hunt stopped by a seminal meeting of the Progressive Democrats of Montana (PDM) to introduce himself. That in itself impressed me. (More on PDM in the near future.)

“My values are markedly different than Rehberg’s,” the Democratic candidate said.

It was an all-to-brief meeting with Hunt — to date, Denny’s only challenger — but everyone was pressed for time. Here’s some of the stuff he said:

“Nobody called me and asked me to run.”

That’s good to hear. The Republicans were making hay over the fact that the Democrats couldn’t recruit anyone. Jim decided to step up to the plate on his own.

He says he’ll be his own man: “I’m not beholdin’ to anyone.”

He’s flying by the seat of his pants: “I have a six week plan.” Let’s hope he gets some staff in place soon.

He also said, and I couldn’t agree more: “Montanans are closer to my values than Denny Rehberg’s.”

He’s retired military, a small business owner, an attorney — he has solid credentials. He opposes the Bush/Rehberg voting record on Iraq, the Patriot Act, FISA, the environment … the list goes on and on.

He’s not a party insider — which can cut both ways.

Which brings up funding. Denny has a fair war chest but now that he has a real challenger, he’ll actually have to start working and raise even more money. Let’s hope that Max and Brian help with money and expertise on Hunt’s campaign, as I don’t see the senior Senator or Good Gov. in very tight races. I hear that Sen. Tester has lent his support.

The Republicans are already smearing: they raised a bogus complaint when Hunt announced at Fort Harrison — something about him using federal property for political purposes. He actually stood outside the gate at a place assigned to him by the Fort’s staff.

Republicans say he’s a desperate, late entry into the race. He seemed pretty confident to me: “I wouldn’t have gotten into this race if I didn’t think I could win.”

They even attacked him for using blue and yellow as his campaign colors, which happen to be the same colors as Rehberg’s. Turns out blue and yellow are the colors of Chester High School, where Hunt went to school.

But worst of all: he’s a “trial lawyer.”

The Republicans are going negative because there aren’t that many positives for their man Rehberg.  Other than his consistent support of Bush, can you think of any issues where Denny has taken the lead? And he’s been in Congress how long now? Almost eight years?

Anyway, my initial impression is that Denny has a race on his hands.

by Jay Stevens

Keila Szpaller of the Missoulian related the recent meeting of the city’s Transportation Policy Coordinating committee, which mulled congestion on Highway 93, from Missoula to Florence.

The committee, which looks at transportation in a regional context, heard an update on a state study of U.S. Highway 93 from Florence to Missoula. The problem is congestion. Drivers run into traffic hiccups around Lolo, and they meet full-fledged jams north of Lolo and on the south side of Missoula, said an HKM Engineering consultant.

But consultant Darryl James said some of people’s favorite fixes, such as a train, cost the most money – and they don’t yield high results. Neither do some other options, such as a carpool lane.

Now I don’t commute daily on 93, so I probably haven’t seen the traffic at its worst, but I don’t see any advantage to a carpool lane. Since the added lanes were built, there hasn’t been much traffic slow-up.

The real problem, IMHO, is figuring out a way to get people out of their cars and into transit options. I think James is right that – right now – light rail may be too much expense for too little yield. But oil isn’t going to stay at $100 a barrel…it’s going to be more expensive. And you can bet your sweet *ss there will eventually be some sort of tax on carbon emissions, too. And the Bitterroot is growing – fast. We need to come up with a solution that will reliably and relatively inexpensively transport people from the Bitterroot to Missoula, now and into the future.

(Stacy Rye on discounting rail: “Cost comparisons were not available, but Rye said she did not want to just pay ‘lip service’ to rail. ‘I think it is a viable alternative,’ said Rye.”)

So…what say you, faithful b’birders? Rail, or not to rail?

by Jamee Greer 

As if there wasn’t already enough on the internet to distract me from schoolwork, Missoula’s blogosphere is kinda stepping on the gas with fresh startups lately. It couldn’t be happening at a better time, as my friend Audra has helped structure my procrastination by introducing me to Google Reader, keeping each of my daily hits nice and organized.

Sean Morrison, a fellow member of Students for Economic and Social Justice and ASUM Senator, has begun posting regularly on student concerns at his own blog.

DJ Erol-E, who just spun for the inaugural after hours party at Missoula’s greatest barcomplex, is posting on the Missoula and Bozeman music scenes at Audio Blasphemy.

by Jay Stevens

Kudos to Brian Morgan and Adventure Life Journeys for winning the “inaugural Employer of Choice” award, decided by the Missoula Job Service Employer’s Council.

Deborah Gass, a business consultant at the Missoula Job Service, said the company was selected for its range of hiring and retention practices.

Adventure Life offers flex time, discounted gym memberships, annual travel stipends, health insurance and continuing education. Some of the company’s other benefits include a meeting space for employees interested in learning Spanish and allowing parents to bring newborns to the office for several months.

Compare that to, say, Wal-Mart, which often pressures hourly employees (earning poverty wages) to work off the clock, miss breaks and meals, and has been known to stiff them of overtime pay. The company offers its employees health care packages that are too expensive, and with arbitrarily long waiting times before employees can enroll. In short, Wal-Mart enrolls fewer employees in its health care plans, and spends less money per employee, than most other large companies.

Morgan and Adventure Life ably demonstrate that Wal-Mart’s policies are entirely by choice, not by necessity. Hats off, again, to Mr. Morgan and the staff at Adventure Life, who demonstrate that it ain’t all about the money, that sometimes good business decisions are those that also benefit employees and the community.

by Jamee Greer

A new arrival to the Westside, I’ll be showing up this Tuesday for the first NS/WS Neighborhood Meeting of ’08! Fellow neighbors from from the Northside and Westside, now’s your chance to get involved!

Of the twelve members of Missoula’s City Council, six were once involved with the Neighborhood Councils. It’s a great way to voice your concerns, learn (and listen!) to what your neighbors think about the neighborhood and get a bit of an introduction to city government. From the Neighborhood Liaison, LaNette Diaz:

Neighborhood meetings offer opportunities to meet your neighbors, learn more about you neighborhood and get involved in changing, improving or preserving the area in which you live.

The Northside/Westside Neighborhood meeting will be held February 19 at the Blackfoot Communications Building, Conference Room, 1221 N. Russell at 7pm.

Items to be discussed: White Pine Sash development area, Safe Routes to School, Vegetable and Native Gardens at the Westside Park, pedestrian bridge graffiti and recruitment of leaders for the neighborhood council.

For more information visit

by jhwygirl

GeeGuy at Electric City Weblog has a piece up that essentially defends Rehberg’s inexcusable homophobic behavior during a Middle East congressional delegation trip in February.

The problem is that his whole piece fails to recognize how damned offensive Rehberg’s actions were to the LGBT community. He equates my piece purely with Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) – I never even mention Idaho’s soon-to-be-gone and recently chastised by the Senate Ethic’ Committee Senator – and provides a link to 4&20 by saying “Only liberals can make fun of Larry Craig.”

Carol, our lovely conserva-a-blogger from Missoulapolis, and perennial 4&20 commenter, dips further into the defense of Rehberg by telling us that Rehberg’s behavior really wasn’t homophobic because he was making fun of homosexuals.

Can they really be that dense?

With that convoluted logic, I’m guessing that they think people who tell jokes with the n-word aren’t racist.

But now that GeeGuy opened the door on Senator Craig….

Even now – nearly a year later, they don’t understand that all of the Larry Craig stuff being said in 100’s of places, on television (that link from right-winger’s favorite Chris Matthews, has one great comment: “I just wonder how far hypocrisy can go in this business. I thought ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman’ was the high mark, but I think he’s just surpassed it.”), on the web, in print, in newspapers in his own state (plenty of media interviews there with Larry, too), and in blogs, are being said not to make fun of Larry Craig being gay – they’re being said to drive home the overwhelming hypocrisy of Idaho’s Senator Larry Craig.

Craig knew his party would bail on him – which is why he withdrew his guilty plea. He thought that by pleading guilty he’d keep the incident from public purview. In the end, he became the embarrassment that he knew he would become – all because he didn’t want anyone to know he was gay.

I didn’t categorize the previous piece with Republicans before, but I am now.

by jhwygirl

Lovely. Via The Hill, LiTW, Montana Netroots, the Helena Independent, KPAX, Great Falls Tribune, KXMC (North Dakota!), we all get a sense of Denny’s sense of humor:

When you’re from Montana, it’s hard to find things to do — so practical jokes come in handy.  Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) recently played a gag on Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) on their Middle East congressional delegation trip last month.

Rehberg left an “Idaho Travel Package” on Simpson’s airplane seat.

Contents included a stuffed sheep with gloves attached to it (draw your own conclusions), a Village People CD, books on cross-dressing and sign language and a T-shirt that reads, “My senator may not be gay, but my governor is Butch.”

Rehberg is proud of the gift bag. “I spent a bit of time putting the things together,” he boasted.

(name missing) was amused but not surprised that Rehberg was the bearer of such presents. “You can always find those materials in Montana,” he said, laughing.


The Montana Human Rights Network(MHRN) is calling on Rehberg – who is up for re-election this November – to apologize. “We find this highly insulting, especially from a lawmaker with a consistent anti-gay voting record,” said Christine Kaufmann, director of the Montana Human Rights Network, and a state Senator.

The MHRN, which recently launched its Equality Project, and the Community Center of Missoula, have requested a meeting with Rep. Rehberg to discuss the prank and his voting record. “He uses us for jokes, while he votes to continue employment discrimination. He plays silly pranks while he votes against hate crimes protections,” said Kaufmann, “We’re not laughing.”

Like Shane said, this guy’s got to go. He’s an embarrassment for all of Montana.

What He Said

by jhwygirl

I don’t know, but I’m betting fascists hate to be called fascists.

Keith Olbermann speaks for me.

by jhwygirl

This information comes to us via Jordan Hess’ Discovering Transit in Missoula.

Jim Lieter, Community Affairs Director for the MBIA, sent out a letter calling on its apparently under-represented members (along with those other under-represented people like realtors and those in the business community) to “TURN OUT AS MANY BUSINESS PEOPLE AS WE CAN” (his caps, not mine) in order to halt the “Pie in the Sky approach to transportation and land use planning.”

His problem? He feels it is “very slanted towards bike/ped/bus/light rail interests and will be slanted away from growth issues related to both commercial and residential development.”

Missoula’s problem? That MBIA (I won’t go as far as to assume that he is speaking for everyone else) believes it should be as unencumbered as possible, as it has been, and infrastructure should bow only to those with cars.

I mean, suggesting a bias towards bike paths? Sidewalks? Mass transit? WT* is in this guy’s water?

Really – go read it.

And while you’re at it – don’t forget that there is an Envision Missoula meeting today from 3-5 at the South Ballroom at the University Center….and, hell be damned, why not ride the bus?!

by jhwygirl

No matter how you run the numbers on the remaining primaries and caucus’, neither Hillary or Obama gains the necessary number of delegates.

While this CNN story says “neither candidate is likely to gather the delegates necessary,” in its election coverage last night CNN went through endless number of scenarios (with a nifty large screen computer) that showed neither candidate, under any circumstance, would be winning enough regular delegates to score the nomination. Try as I may, I can not find a link, sorry.

Howard Dean’s latest email, then, mystifies me: “First, I think we’ll have a nominee before the convention.” Is that a clue that he is going to take some measure to bring both Florida and Michigan delegates back to standing at the convention? Will there be supplemental caucus’, as some have suggested?

Caucusing in Florida and Michigan seems problematic to me. People have voted – and the outcry from citizens in both states is that they feel disenfranchised. Wouldn’t caucusing in Florida would be difficult in a state with such an aged population? I just don’t imagine that the caucus system is optimum for seniors. {Sigh – more disenfranchisement.}

What is painfully apparent for Hillary now is that Dean’s 50-state strategy was right all along – failing to pay attention to all 50 states is what got us Bushwhacked – twice – and what has perhaps put her in (what I’m sure she feels is) a quagmire of a primary race. Looking at it in the daylight, now, it appears she never knew what was coming. As LiTW reports today, Hillary is now hiring staff in Montana, Wyoming, and even Puerto Rico.

Singer says that he thinks that the staff is going to be up and running only for the primaries – in other words, they’ll pull out or be redirected for the general. He’s probably right….and isn’t that ironic? Even though it has been shown that Dean’s 50-state strategy is really the way to go (flashback 2006), neither candidate will give it the respect it deserves – until it’s in the rearview mirror. And even then – only as much respect as they absolutely have to give it. (“Oops!”)

There’s discussion all over the place about the superdelegates – calling on them to not pull a Mondale-scenario where they overrule the popular primary vote. But does that call include the popular votes of the primaries in Florida and Michigan, where the delegates have been stripped?

So the thought on my mind today is “What is Dean thinking?” What is he going to do with those bad, bad legislator’s in Florida and Michigan who moved the primaries against the parties wishes? The primaries in both states are over – Hillary taking both. Reinstating their delegates can’t avoid the appearance of favoring Hillary. A “do-over” wouldn’t seem right (remember that ever-so-brief discussion back in Florida 2004?), and throwing together caucus’ for both seem problematic if only from that perspective. Then there’s the money, yada, yada, yada.

Talk about aye yi yi……Howard? Wouldn’t want to be ya….

Update: Hummingbirdminds reports that Obama is opening offices in Cheyenne and Laramie. Is Montana soon to follow?

by dharmagrrl

With the g-friend sick and sub-freezing temperatures outside, I have been consuming a lot of hot tea lately. So imagine my shock and horror the other day when I reached for my newest tea and was absentmindedly reading the label and read the words on the box top, “From the Fields of Five Continents.”

As the water boiled and the whistle blew, I was struck by the fact that I was supposed to think this was a good thing. That to gather the raw ingredients from around the world, and bring them together in some factory in California to be assembled, packaged and shipped out to various places in the country was being marketed to me as desirable and perhaps even superior. My full-bodied tea, sipped in a slow deliberate fashion, allowed me time to get worked up in to a tizzy.

And then I decided to make some lunch for the girl and myself. I whipped out the can of beans and began to turn the wheels of the can opener. Again I casually caught the words, “Product of China” imprinted on the top. I almost dropped the can, when the words sunk in to my consciousness fully.

It turns out my freakin’ beans are from China, shipped to a port across the world, then loaded on a truck where they are carried across several mountain passes to make it to the local food store. Are you kidding me? What has happened to the need to wean our selves of the dependence on foreign oil and unsustainable (i.e.- resource extractive) ways of producing energy?

So often the energy consumption debate gets framed in terms of the cars we drive and what light bulbs we screw in, but we cannot forget the many resource heavy industries that we support every time we head to our local grocery store.

Fishing, for example, is one of the most heavily resource extractive food industries out there. Imagine how much energy gets consumed by trawlers and fishing boats, not to mention the processing plants and then the airlines/trucks that ship the finished cans of tuna or fish for our barbecues—”direct to you, today!”

According to the Garden City Harvest website:

Over 90% of the produce we eat in Montana is shipped in from out of state. Yet in the early part of this century, Missoula earned the title “The Garden City” by producing fruits and vegetables for much of the surrounding region.

Investing in local food systems moves us closer toward energy self-sufficiency. When we produce food locally we don’t have to spend money and resources to ship them halfway across the world from their field to our plate. And we make ourselves less vulnerable to the inevitable energy crisis that I am certain I will see in my lifetime. We need to be the producers of much of what we eat and we need to invest in agricultural land, before it is divided up for ranchettes that only the wealthy can afford.

Local ‘chicken ordinances’ are a great example that we are moving in the right direction here in Western Montana. And organizations like Garden City Harvest, the Missoula Food Co-op and local Homegrown farms, such as Lifeline are on the forefront of where we need to be headed in the future. When we can feed ourselves from what we grow we move closer to the land and closer to true self-sufficiency.

We don’t need to drill in the artic, or mine more coal, we need to invest our time, energy and money in developing strategies to allow our communities to be more self-sustaining. And you know it wouldn’t hurt if you’d sell that SUV that gets 20 MPG and screw in a few energy efficient light bulbs. And trust me, I’ll look closer next time I buy beans!

by jhwygirl

Boy I screwed this one up – I had scheduled this post to be done on the Thursday before the meetings, but I put it in March instead of February. So this is a late notice, and I apologize….

Envision Missoula will be holding meetings tomorrow and Thursday to bring Missoula its results of the long-range transportation workshops it held back in November.

Tomorrow’s (Wednesday’s) meeting is from 6 p.m to 8 p.m., and Thursday’s is from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Both meetings are at the 3rd floor Ballroom South of the University Center at UM.

If you need more information, you can contact the Office of Planning & Grants Transportation planners at 258-4989.

Don’t miss these meetings folks – transportation is on the tops of everyone’s mind these days, it seems – Councilman Dick Haines seems to be all about transportation planning these days – I’m sure he’ll be very involved in these meetings, given the deep interest he’s shown at the last two week’s city council meetings. Mayor Engen spent a significant amount of time addressing and updating council and the public on transportation issues last night also.

For some good primer reading on Missoula’s transportation issues, I highly recommend Daniel Nairn’s Discovering Urbanism and Jordan Hess’s Discovering Transit in Missoula websites. The are both chock full with musings and theories on transportation issues, and must-read websites for anyone following civic matters in Missoula.

On McCain

by jhwygirl

Senator McCain is on CNN right now with his victory speech tonight – I think he was in Virginia (?) – and boy, does he just put me to sleep.  He speaks with an intonation of an elementary school teacher.  It’s not the first time I’ve thought this – Sunday mornings I listen to all of the candidates live, and his speeches come off as if he is speaking to people who have no knowledge of what is going on in Washington at all.  No substantive complexity.  Everything is fine.  June and Ward Cleaver, la la la la la.

Is it me?

by Jay Stevens

Steve Edgar today defended himself and his Hooters’ restaurant in the Missoulian, just as he did here on 4&20 blackbirds. (I’m still awaiting news that Rebecca and Patia will be taking Steve up on his invitation and visiting the restaurant and reporting back!) I don’t think any of us think the restaurant should be banned, etc & co, but we’re not crazy about another chain restaurant on Reserve.

I won’t go into Edgar’s testimonial here – you can read it yourself – but this line did catch my attention:

Our uniforms are very similar to that used by the University of Montana dance team during Grizzly and Lady Griz basketball games.

D*mn, if that isn’t true!

Of course the UM dance team is doing their little numbers for free…

Anyhow. You know what to do. Discuss!

Update: I should have mentioned that Edgar was writing in response to a Missoulian editorial that frowned on the new restaurant. Have to agree with Pogie that the editoral “strikes exactly the right note.”

Yet Another Update: (by Rebecca Schmitz)

Steve Edgar provided defended his business again in the comments section of my original post yesterday.  Apparently, a local celebrity is looking for employment at Hooters:

The Missoulian told me the majority of letters they have received are from girls wanting to know where to apply to be a Hooters Girl as well as parents requesting the same information for their Daughter. It is interesting that a previous Miss Teen Montana has already contacted me and wants to work there as soon as we open. She is a very outgoing successful young lady with great morals and standards.

A Miss Teen Montana [sic], eh? I thought those girls were supposed to work towards eradicating hunger and poverty.  Whatever happened to wishing for world peace?  Oh well. I guess this is officially one of the signs that Missoula is, by and large, dependent on our service economy; even our beauty queens are setting their sights low.

by Pete Talbot

Good news but a bit incomplete. I had two emails in my inbox this morning with this update: Jim Hunt is announcing his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives. Unless another Democrat gets into the race and beats Hunt in the primary — an unlikely scenario — Hunt will face Montana’s lone congressman, Denny Rehberg, this November. Unfortunately, the press announcement which I pasted below gives very little detail. The emails I received came from a couple progressives whom I know, so that’s a good sign. Here’s all the info I have:

Jim Hunt to Launch Campaign for Congress

Fourth generation Montanan and retired guardsman to announce his statewide campaign to replace Congressman Rehberg for Montana’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives

On Tuesday, February 12, at 11:00 AM, Jim Hunt will hold a press conference to officially launch his campaign to defeat 7 year incumbent Congressman Dennis Rehberg for Montana’s sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The event will take place in front of the entrance gate at Fort Harrison Training Support Center, near Helena.

Born in Montana and raised on the Hi-Line, Jim Hunt is a Chester native and a fourth-generation Montanan. He served 23 years in the Montana Army National Guard – retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. Hunt was educated in Montana, is a lifetime member of the NRA, Chancellor for the Episcopal Diocese of Montana, an avid sportsman and conservationist, and a consumer lawyer in Helena. He and his wife Barb have been married for 24 years, and they have two daughters, Hannah and Isabelle.

I can’t find a website for the guy. Here’s a week old Lee story with a little more detail. As always, 4&20 will keep our loyal readers abreast of any new developments.

The ‘flu attacks!

by Jay Stevens

The ‘flu is going around Missoula. Even the Missoulian noticed:

Missoula County had a slow start to the flu season, but it’s picking up now. The Missoula City-County Health Department is also seeing an increase in the number of reported flu cases and a slew of gastroenteritis viruses, otherwise known as the stomach flu.

Tell me about it. The ‘flu had camped out in this house for four or so days, culminating in a sick wife and two sick kids over the weekend.

That’s right, I escaped. Of course, not completely. I still got to enjoy the ‘flu by administering medicines, performing late-night bed calls, standing in for a barf bag, and doing the other innumerable dirty little chores associated with nursing the sick, all the time wondering when it was going to strike me down.

It hasn’t…yet. I missed it, whether by hardier constitution or sheer stubbornness. Certainly not because I avoided contact with the bug. I was a prime candidate: little sleep, irregular and less-than-nutritious eating, and constant contact with my family’s bodily fluids.

The irony is that I’m the only one in the family who didn’t get a ‘flu shot. Ha ha!

The Missoulian:

There are more than a dozen strains of influenza, she said. The flu shot is designed for the coming year and protects people from what medical professionals identify in advance as being the worst and most predominant strains. A person may get sick with a strain not identified as one of the three worst strains for that year.

The second reason is that a person may have already been exposed to the flu at the time they received their shot, she said.

Who knew?

I should really keep my trap shut. Hubris never spared anyone from getting the ‘flu.

by Pete Talbot

I thought readers might be interested in taking this climate change survey from the Montana Environmental Quality Council.

(This is a real survey, unlike a Denny Rehberg survey I saw last fall. Rehberg’s was one question long and it read something like this: “If you agree with homosexuals, communists and devil worshipers that we should lock up our federal lands to any future recreation, development or agricultural uses — please mark the box below.” The EQC survey is comprehensive and takes about 15 minutes.)

A tip o’ the hat to Peggy Miller, who sent me an email about this and Sonja Nowakowski, who said she’d field any questions. I’m pasting the original email below with appropriate links.

The Montana Environmental Quality Council, a committee of the state legislature, wants to know how Montanan’s feel about climate change and a host of recommendations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Montana.

As part of its interim work, the EQC is reviewing the 54 recommendations included in the “Montana Climate Change Action Plan: Final Report of the Governor’s Climate Change Advisory Committee.” The final report was released in November 2007.

In order to better understand how the public feels about the recommendations, the EQC is conducting a survey. Members are asking Montanans to take the survey online at . Members themselves also are participating in the survey.

The 54 recommendations are broken down into five categories: Residential, Commercial, Institutional, and Industrial (RCII); Energy Supply (ES); Transportation and Land Use (TLU); Agriculture, Forestry, and Waste Management (AFW); and Cross-Cutting Issues (CC). Throughout the survey, the page numbers where you can learn more by referencing the full report and appendices are listed as hyperlinks.

While this survey is lengthy, EQC members believe it is imperative that the public have as much opportunity as possible to weigh in on the individual recommendations as well as the subject of climate change. Results of the survey will be compiled and shared with the EQC during a meeting March 10-11 in Helena.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Sonja Nowakowski at 406-444-3078 or via e-mail at Thank you.


EQC Homepage

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