Missoula County Sure Doesn’t Make it Easy to Understand What They’re Doing

by jhwygirl

I mean, just look at today’s Board of County Commissioner (BCC) Agenda.

Now, compare that to the City Council agenda.

One has links to staff reports, maps, committee reports, etc. The other just tells me that they are considering a 69 lot subdivision next to the Clark Fork River.

Which do you prefer?

A county with 2,598 square miles of land, one of the fastest growing counties in the state, and an $83.9 million budget, and they can’t see fit to provide the taxpayers with sufficient public information?

Of course, we know how they’ve enjoyed the possibility of public comment in the past. Or you could always try this post for 2 more examples of the BCC’s approach to public comment.

Maybe it’s about time they instituted a new policy – one that keeps the public informed, 21st century style?

Consider writing a letter to the editor of either The Missoulian or the Missoula Independent, and call on the BCC to let the public know more about their doings in a more informative modern way. Citizens should not have to call the office and hope someone is available to fax you a staff report or talk to you when they should be providing this stuff on their website.

Whatever materials they have to decide the matter should be available to you and I. They aren’t getting that stuff on Wednesday mornings.

Please – go ahead and write that letter – because, obviously, they appear to be internet-challenged.

And then, maybe, just maybe, news reporter Chelsie Moy might actually have something worthwhile to praise the BCC about.

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  1. goof houlihan

    http://www.bozeman.net/commission/agenda_and_digital_packet_for_the_september_15_2008_city_commission_meeting.aspx

    Thought I’d add another link to prove your point. Cities appear to be far ahead of counties in this regard. Is it some systemic thing due to the Clerk and Recorders being separate from the County Commissions? I don’t know the answer there.

    You do have to have a powerful computer and a high speed connection to attempt to download a digital packet with some huge subdivision application, though. That caveat should be on some of the agenda items. I tried it once and had to turn off my computer in mid download to get it to work again.

  2. Thanks Goof. Shame our county commissioners won’t see it, as they seem to be internet-challenged, but it’s a good example of how behind-the-times we are. Isn’t Missoula supposed to be the larger city (no offense intended)?

    The computer I use most of the time is circa 2001 – I have a newer one but it has vista, and vista sucks – and occassionally it will freeze – but for the most part, I can get whatever the city or the state web sites put up.

    A simple thing to do would be to zip or compress it – I think all computers (even this dinosaur) could unzip the thing.

  3. goof houlihan

    I think the “amazon.com” model is the way to go, really. I miss the “other titles” or “my list” or “recommended for you” when I go to the library or walk into a physical bookstore.

    I’d like to see where I could register my items of interest, and get notified when, “an issue you’ve signed up as interested in” hits design review, planning board, BoA, or city commission, or even just comes in as a planning application.

    There’s a raised bar for transparency out there. You can get a dvd of almost any bozeman city commission meeting, and the minutes that refer to the exact times that item was discussed. But as good as that is, it’s after the fact.

    People want to know, and not just by reading the agenda, or finding some classified ad buried in the local rag, what their local govt is up to.

  4. Klemz

    Only old people, bureaucrats and reporters/staff writers have time to attend meetings without a declared purpose. That’s why I oppose your changes–old ladies bake well and I’m not sharing my ginger snaps.

  5. goof houlihan

    BTW, I didn’t post the linked example as anything other than to emphasize jhwygirl’s point, that a lot better can be done than most counties, or cities, do. She’s got it nailed.

    Now could local govt go further and PUSH out information to those interested? I think it could. I think it should.

  6. Just want to point out here that Missoulian reporter Chelsi Moy apparently thinks I gave Missoula County a black eye by criticizing their lack of transparency.

    A black eye? Offering criticism while offering similar comparison and suggesting solution is a “black eye”?

    And then Patrick Klemz, reporter for The Indy comes in and opposes the same?

    Territorial much?

    Geez.

  7. goof houlihan

    Maybe it was my “local rag” comment?

    What’s cheaper, finding a way to push information out to neighborhood associations and interested individuals and the general public electronically, or paying per the column inch?

    And, when it comes to what actually happened at a meeting, what’s more accurate, the dvd or the reporter’s interpretation?

    Just “axin”…

  8. They even get paid.

    And I still don’t know what happen with that 69 lot subdivision next to the Clark Fork….

  9. Klemz

    I’m just territorial about ginger snaps. For the record (I know you’re kidding), its impossible for us because of layout deadlines to get commish meeting fodder in the following day’s paper.

    So I’ll support your motion with the amendment that meetings be moved to Tuesday.

  10. Hey – I’ll accept that as a friendly motion, if that’s what it takes to find out what happens at the BCC meetings.

    On the other hand, it sure would be nice to know what information they have to decide what they’re deciding. That was the original stuff I was going after.




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