Archive for February 27th, 2008

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.

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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.




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