Archive for August 11th, 2008

by Pete Talbot

Back in January, when Hooters announced it was coming to town, 4&20 contributor Rebecca wrote an opinion piece on the subject. It has generated more site visits than any other post ever written here.

(Note to beginning bloggers: put the word “tits” into your headline and be guaranteed a ton of traffic. By just using the word “Hooters” above, I’m assured of way more hits than I’d ever get for any of my pithy political prose.)

Rebecca was invited to the Hooters’ grand opening and took along friend and blogger Patia. Patia’s review is over at New West and is an excellent piece. The comments section that follows her post makes for some interesting reading, too.

By the way, Rebecca also posts over at Sporky.

by Pete Talbot

Ms. Evans, we hardly knew you

Commissioner Barbara Evans retired about a year ago. While the media and others were fawning over the commissioner’s 30 years of service to Missoula County, it’s good to remember her roots. She was the Missoula campaign coordinator for George Wallace when he made his unsuccessful (thank God) bid for the White House in 1968.

Y’all remember George Wallace, right? Racist Alabama governor and four-time presidential candidate. He was probably most famous for personally blocking school entrances so that black kids couldn’t go inside.

(Tip o’ the hat to Chris Walterskirchen whose “Flashback” column in the Missoulian is one of my favorite reads.)

Thanks a bunch Montana DNRC

I’m extremely disappointed with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and Director Mary Sexton, for rolling over for Plum Creek.

According to the Great Falls Tribune, the department has granted the former lumber company (and current real estate developer) expanded right of way deeds and additional rights to easements. This will certainly make it easier for Plum Creek to develop those hard to get to places.

Maybe the state should take the word ‘conservation’ out of the DNRC title.

The surge is working?

The pundits say that we’re winning the war in Iraq. Well, not soon enough for Kevin Furey. The former Montana legislator (two terms in H.D. 91) will be headed back to Iraq later this year and is leaving Montana tomorrow for additional training.

Now Kevin would be the last person to shirk his duty or complain about the redeployment. So let me just say this: goddamn you George Bush for putting so many Montanans in harm’s way.

(There will be a going away party Monday, Aug. 11 at the Badlander, 208 Ryman St., between 5 and 7 p.m. for well wishers. Sorry about the last-minute notice — I just received my emails from the weekend.)

Our thoughts are with Kevin and his parents here in Missoula. Be careful over there and Godspeed.

And another farewell

While Pennsylvania doesn’t offer the perils of Iraq, it certainly isn’t Montana. 4&20 Blackbirds founder and Left in the West contributor Jay Stevens is moving with his family to the Keystone State (where in the hell did they come up with that nickname?).

It’s not often that a thirty-something becomes a mentor to a fifty-something but that’s what Jay has been to me. He offered me the opportunity (for better or worse, dear reader) to comment at this site. He explained the nuances of blogging, increased my knowledge of computers by about 200 percent and has taught me a lot about political writing — mostly by example. He’s also just a real nice guy. The Montana blogosphere will be the poorer for his leaving.

by Jason Wiener

Bob Oaks of the North-Missoula Community Development Corporation (NMCDC) asked me to pass along this good news about NMCDC’s latest perpetually affordable home ownership project, Burns Street Commons, and Wednesday’s visit by Senator Baucus to celebrate the project’s completion.


This coming Wednesday, at 3:00 p.m., Missoula Mayor John Engen will join Senator Max Baucus to celebrate the completion of Burns Street Commons. The Commons is a 17-unit housing component of Burns Street Square, the largest publicly funded community revitalization project ever undertaken in this low-income Missoula neighborhood. The ribbon cutting ceremony will begin at 3:00 p.m. and will be followed by an open house of the Burns Street Commons’ homes. Refreshments will be served at both events. The Commons is located at 1400 Burns Street (between Cooley and Turner Streets). Burns Street Square is a project of the North-Missoula Community Development Corporation (NMCDC).

Since 2001, the NMCDC’s community land trust has provided 47 new homes for income qualified, first-time, buyers in Missoula.  Bob Oaks, Executive Director of the NMCDC says, “In terms of home ownership, over the last seven years, the NMCDC has built more homes in the old North and Westside neighborhoods than any other developer, including the for-profit sector that has concentrated more on multi-family rental projects.”

Oaks goes on to say, “Community land trusts are fast becoming the workforce housing strategy of choice in high cost communities. In Montana, these include the newly formed Whitefish Area Land Trust (WALT) and fledgling groups in Kalispell and Great Falls. Just last month, the Montana Board of Housing awarded the NMCDC a “Certificate of Excellence” for its pioneering work in establishing a community land trust in Missoula.”

Currently, the NMCDC has 17 new townhouse and condominium units for sale. The Burns Street Square development expands the community land trust model to include a commercially oriented community center building. That community center will focus on nutrition and will attempt to democratize fresh, local and whole foods to a wider variety of Missoulians.  The fledgling Missoula Community Market is already in the old freight building. The NMCDC plans to remodel it to add a cafe and commercial kitchen. Also last month, a federal appropriations subcommittee recommended that the NMCDC receive $1,000,000 to help with the building’s remodeling expenses.

For additional information on Burns Street Square contact the North-Missoula Community Development Corporation at (406) 829-0873 or visit

by jhwygirl

Now, rules are rules, right? I mean, if you’re gonna have ’em, enforce them for everyone – not selectively. Or don’t have rules at all.

I say that about lots of things, actually.

So last Tuesday, The Good Guv’s amicable pooch Jag was booted from the county fair, even though Gary Marbut’s pup, Lia – a lovable pooch too, by all descriptions – was allowed to have run of the place.

When the Governor noted that he had called ahead and that Jag was even on a leash, Asst. Police Chief Mike Brady pointed to a sign which noted that no horses/skateboards/bikes or dogs were allowed.

The Good Guv then turned to an assistant at the fair and asked if she could watch. She obliged, and later said that he was very well-behaved.

Meanwhile, Marbut’s Lia had “run of the fairgrounds” and was later seen hanging at the Montana Shooting Sports Association’s tent. Marbut is President of the MSSA.

Dave Fowlkes, a Missoula County detective, said that Lia had a permit to be at the fair.

Later, apparently, as Carol reports, some folks pointed out the hypocrisy of the deal, and Marbut and Lia packed up and left. And he wasn’t too happy, either.

Hey – what’s good for one is good for the other.

It would have been a non-story, had Marbut’s dog not been there – but clearly, someone was playing favorites.


by jhwygirl

Courtney Lowery, of Newwest, had a interesting piece up on the rising price of farmland in the west. There’s lots of links with information…and makes you wonder what happens to America when we’ve developed up all our farmland? Should maintaining a certain amount of farmland (Oh, I can hear the catcalls now) be a consideration in the concept of National Security?

The inherent danger of not having enough space to be self-sufficient for a most simplistic need? The huge sucking of energy resources it takes to travel this most basic need 1000’s of miles to our kitchen tables? Is 1,500 miles for lettuce reasonable? Wouldn’t be able to ensure that we can provide foodstuffs to third world nations make us more stable?

Or is the production of food just too untechnical and without big enough profit that we’re better off to do things like drill more oil? I do believe that the people who are pushing drill, drill, drill are not only very short-sighted, but that the electeds that think the same way are more beholden to ‘old energy money’ than to ‘new energy money’. See, those wind mills aren’t as profit-making for a huge infrastructure web of corporations as an oil rig.

Think of the same for coal….and hell, we’ve got electeds out there pushing for coal-to-liquid gasification and we’ve yet to perfect the technology?! We don’t even have the plants and that is our idea of moving forward? In 2008?!

We’re well out of the time range of my lifeline, even if we were to start an Apollo-like energy program – and I don’t envision that we’ll ever rid ourselves of using crude – but I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why anyone – anyone – can’t see the logic of wanting to take pressure off of the crude oil market by pushing for wind and hydroelectric and other alternative clean energy sources.

We’ve known for years that we’re loosing ranching to development pressures – to rising land values, that, when you pencil it out, ranching simply isn’t economical. But when you start using the word “farmland” like Ms. Lowery did, it really brings it home.

America can’t grow without food, but is there not a cost/security-effective balance somewhere? A tipping point where we’ve either got to develop smarter or risk security?

Once it’s gone – farmland – it’s gone. We aren’t going to get it back.

Maybe we should start thinking about that.

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