Archive for June 19th, 2008

by jhwygirl

A bicyclist was killed Thursday afternoon when he was struck by a truck, just north of Costco, near the exit to West Broadway.

City police officer Sgt. Shawn Paul is still investigating – but the bicyclist didn’t have any identification, and the department may end up seeking help in identifying the man.

The Missoulian story notes that the bicycle lane changes width in that area and that the solid fog line becomes dotted in that area. It’s unclear whether the truck drove into the cyclist, or visa versa.


by jhwygirl

Prompted by a Great Falls Tribune article titled Audit digs up problems with gravel pit program, written, incidentally, by former Missoula Independent write and newspaper reporter extraordinaire John S. Adams, I went searching for the legislative audit referred to in the article.

Boy, if you were pissed off about DPHSS employees playing solitaire on their computers, get this: Even though DEQ has a backlog of open cut mining (gravel pit) permits and courts are issuing these things within 30 days, irregardless of review, DEQ employees are drafting the applications for the mine operators.


More? How about this: A key tax, which is supposed to be collected by the Department of Revenue, isn’t being collected, mainly due to the lack of notification of the issuance of these open cut mining/gravel pit permits by DEQ.

Now, 92% of the funding for the open cut mining/gravel permit program come from the Resource Indemnity and Groundwater Assessment Tax (RIGWAT), yet 94% (94%?!) of the operators were not paying the tax.

There’s plenty more, but let me just point out one more tidbit: While these permits can have enormous impact on a community, and more specifically, a neighborhood and surrounding private property values, health and air quality, and rights, there is no legally explicit requirement for public notification. MEPA requirements result in some notification during scoping, but selection as to whom is notified is informal, and varies depending on a variety of factors. Further, considering the permits-must-be-issued-in-60-days rule that is currently the rage in state district courts, lack of laws and process for public notification may be effectively neutralized.

Ahh, the sad state of DEQ and the Montana Environmental Protection Act.

Someone needs get our legislators an attorney or two, and tell them that they actually have to listen to them. Whoever put the word “shall” into the 60-day permitting requirement should be strung up by his toes and dipped in Lake McDonald. In mid-January.

A summary of the legislative audit is here. The full report, here.

In another aside, Helena Sand & Gravel, which was issued a gravel permit under court order due to the passing of the 60-day deadline, promptly violated its permit by utilizing a residential road for access. Neighbors complained, Sand & Gravel was told by DEQ to halt, and yet they continued to roll through the neighborhood. DEQ Director Opper is “frustrated” and says that the firm may be penalized for violating its permit.

How about shall be penalized, Director Opper? What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander.

by Pete Talbot

Since I couldn’t get in to see my dentist about a wicked toothache, I threw on my best khakis, popped a hydrocodone and headed over to the Montana Republican state convention.

My Datsun pick up with ‘Buy Back the Dams’ and ‘Jon Tester’ bumper stickers was conspicuous in the Hilton Garden Inn parking lot amidst the Ron Paul signs and bumper stickers adorning the other vehicles.

And Ron Paul might be the biggest news to come out of this convention. He’s supposed to speak to the party faithful Friday night (along with Conrad Burns!). No sign of John McCain.

There also appear to be a number of folks who want to go to the national convention as Ron Paul delegates even though Dr. Paul has withdrawn from the race. And there’s talk that the Paulites might want to tweak the Montana GOP platform to conform to their policy desires.

But all-in-all it was a pretty staid affair on Thursday, especially compared to the Democratic convention held in Helena two weeks ago. There, a couple hundred people were packed into the basement of Jorgensons, vying for delegate seats to Denver on behalf of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

It was mayhem in Helena but as Lee newspapers state bureau reporter Chuck Johnson commented to me, the Republicans run a little tighter ship, with things actually happening on schedule and where they’re supposed to. Surprise, surprise.

Plus, the Hilton Garden Inn out on Reserve Street has all the ambiance of a government hospital (my take, not Chuck’s). I mean, if you’re going to hold a convention in Missoula, why not hold it downtown so visitors can get some late night Cajun food at Charlie B’s, or listen to some music at the Top Hat or Union Club. Hell, they might as well hold their convention in Peoria or Trenton.

Not much else report. The hydrocodone’s wearing off. I’ll stop by the ‘Inn’ later tonight or maybe tomorrow. One thing I did notice, however — Plum Creek is a Gold Level Sponsor of the convention.

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