Archive for April 15th, 2008

by jhwygirl

That might be just a tad bit of an overstatement, but not by much.

The draft Environmental Impact Statement for the long awaited (and still to be longer) proposed improvements for Russell and South 3rd St. West (from Russell to Reserve) is being unveiled at a public meeting Wednesday, April 16th.

The meeting is being held at the Franklin School Gymnasium at 6 p.m. Franklin School is located at S. 10th and Johnson.

The preferred alternative, while it does incorporate roundabouts, is centered around a 4-lane highway on Russell (from the currently non-existent I-90 connection) to S. 3rd.

Does Missoula need a new I-90 exit? Cutting directly through the center of what is primarily residential development?

I like the fact that it is incorporating roundabouts – but really, why, someone please explain, are 4-lanes needed along Russell all the way to 3rd Street? Shouldn’t the roundabouts solve movement issues?

And how big of a bridge do we want or need over the Clark’s Fork? I mean, can you imagine how huge that thing is going to have to be with 4 lanes, a raised median throughout, and bike lanes and pedestrian walkways? Can you spell U-G-L-Y? Jimminy Crickets!

Wouldn’t a roundabout at Russell & Broadway eliminate the need for a 4-lane highway? I’m guessing the 4-lane effort is to address the bottlenecking of traffic at that location. If a roundabout can solve the bottlenecking at 3rd and Russell – which anyone who lives in the neighborhood can attest to the level of traffic that S. 3rd St. W carries – certainly it can address the load at Russell & Broadway.

But maybe the goal is to slow it down there so it doesn’t get out to Mullan and Reserve (via Mullan off of Broadway) any faster? Because we all know what a joy Mullan and Reserve is during rush hour and any time after 10 a.m.

I mean, really – what is the logic? Because I’m missing it with that huge amount of asphalt for half of the project, stopping abruptly at the very busy intersection of 3rd and Russell.

My neighbors and I have mulled this over for a couple of weeks now – and the only conclusion we’ve come to is that engineers love to build things. Big things.

Call me crazy, but I’d like to see a two lane with planted median (irrigated please!). Roundabouts to keep traffic moving. Bike lanes and sidewalks and a nice 20 minute walk from the Good Food Store to the mixed use development of the old Champion site and a lovely walk or bike ride right into the center of downtown Missoula.

by Rebecca Schmitz

Hey, I’m bitter. As if the existence of this manufactured controversy wasn’t enough, now we’ve got local politicians using it to play a little CYA. It’s irritating to be told how to feel about Obama’s comments. It’s even more irritating to watch fellow Democrats take a page out of the Republican play book of division, derision and fear.

[Bill] Kennedy said. “Senator Obama showed a real disconnect with rural Montana. It might work to look down on us from San Francisco, but it won’t sell when he comes back to Montana.”

Who can blame Bill? He was only taking a cue from the ringmaster of this three-ring media circus.

Clinton, at an event before the Alliance for Manufacturing Forum in Pittsburgh, noted that “I am well aware that at a fundraiser in San Francisco, he said some things that many people in Pennsylvania and beyond Pennsylvania have found offensive…”

Excuse me, Hillary? As that SF Gate article correctly noted, San Francisco in politico-speak is usually code for homosexuals and environmentalists and single mothers and peace activists and all the other liberal bogeymen Republicans use to scare up votes. I’m sure John McBush will be using the code come this autumn; I expect this kind of behavior from the GOP. However, I sure as hell don’t expect it from MY candidate. I don’t want a Democrat who plays the divide-and-conquer game just like a Republican. Why on earth would I vote for someone who sounds just like professional gasbag and former Dick Cheney employee Mary Matalin?

What he said accurately reflects the current Democratic Party. It’s more affluent. It’s more liberal. That’s the way it’s moving. He was saying it to San Francisco Democrats, rich San Francisco Democrats…

Mary’s wrong, as usual. Thanks to politicians who encourage fear and hysteria, the party will be moving in another direction, one that attracts people like this guy:

“I’m pro-life, pro-family, pro-seal-the-borders,” King said. “I think we need to stop the pork in Washington; and I stand for family issues like traditional family, not all these kinky things on the outside.”

Scapegoats. Politicians use them to pander to voters. Some politicians use guns and religion. Some, like Ravalli County Republican precinct chairman Bruce King up there, use anyone having better sex. Bill Kennedy and Hillary Clinton? Well, they use their fellow Democrats.

by Pete Talbot

This is why I’ll never join the Chamber of Commerce.

A recent guest column appeared in Montana newspapers warning of higher energy prices and the loss of jobs due to potential legislation aimed at curbing global warming.

It was authored by Webb Brown, Montana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO.

The column comes on the heels of a Chamber event in Billings called the “Montana Climate Change Dialogue: The Economic Impacts of Climate Change Proposals.”

The major sponsors were Pennsylvania Power and Light, MDU Resources and the Alliance for Energy and Economic Growth.

Mr. Brown wrote ominously about layoffs and soaring prices if we don’t maintain status quo energy policies.

I appreciate his concern for job losses and energy costs but his column takes a rather regressive view of our energy future. This is a time when innovation and forward thinking will pay huge dividends. Those unwilling to make the transition to more sustainable energy production and consumption will be left behind; albeit in a dirtier, hotter world.

Mr. Brown’s answer to rising costs is to continue on our current path with minimal regulation and an eye toward magical technologies that will render coal, and what’s left of our natural gas and petroleum, “cleaner and more efficient.”

He wonders why we must make the transition to clean energy when countries like China and India continue onward using old, dirty energy technologies. Here’s that word “sustainable” again. The energy being produced in those countries may be cheaper now, but it won’t be later, as resources become scarcer and environmental demands dictate change.

Everyone will need new conservation technologies and renewable energy — solar, wind, sea and other developments — or they’ll fall behind. Wouldn’t it be great if America, and dare I say it, Montana, were leaders in this field.

Taking the high road in reducing carbon emissions wouldn’t be bad public relations, either, and the old U.S. of A. could use some good PR these days.

Like the technological revolutions of the past, from industrial to digital, a new wave is emerging – one of conservation, renewable energy and sustainable business practices. The leaders in these new technologies will prosper. Those unwilling to recognize the future will suffer.

If we are to relinquish the hold that OPEC, and to a lesser extent our own, dwindling reserves of oil, natural gas and coal have on us, we must take a new path. (Granted, our coal reserves have been likened to Saudi Arabia’s energy resources but, they are still finite.) Add in the environmental degradation from extracting and burning these carbon-based resources and you have a lose-lose situation.

If we stay the course, prices will still go up. A sustainable energy policy only makes sense. Not only does Montana have a lot of renewable resources, it has a great labor pool waiting to make the transition.

I know some good people involved in Missoula’s Chamber of Commerce. They network, welcome new enterprises, support Missoula businesses and promote our community. These are the things the Chamber should do. It should stay away from corporate politics and policy that might not be good for our local business interests or the environment.

Mr. Brown is embracing the Bush-Cheney energy policies as set forth by the major power, coal and petroleum industries. And he is doing the Chamber and its members — actually, all of us — a huge disservice by clinging to the past instead of looking to the future.

(Richard Barrett and Thomas M. Power, University of Montana emeritus professors of economics, also offered a more, how shall I say it, erudite response to Brown’s letter. Tip o’ the hat to Missoulian Opinion Page Editor, Tyler Christensen.)

by Jay Stevens

The Missoulian, on the plan to put county government offices on Mullan Road:

It doesn’t make any sense, for instance, to scatter local government functions all over the county. It’s important to keep public services convenient for the public, and that includes the portion of the public that can’t, or prefers not to, drive a vehicle. Some people are already eschewing their vehicles due to rising gas prices. If we want to encourage more people to leave their vehicles behind, we have to make it convenient for them to do so.

I believe our own jhwygirl has written about this plan before, in blunter language. Let’s just say I’m with those folks. This plan is a uniquely bad idea.

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