Archive for December, 2008

05*

by problembear

happy new year everyone. have a great celebration but will someone please take the trash out before the 20th!

by jhwygirl

…but one does have to wonder what he had to say after he hung up on Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller when she asked about the city’s budget.

Apparently it’s not yet been filed with the State of Montana (what does that make it? 6 months overdue?)

Bad, bad form, hanging up on a reporter.

And before anyone considers mention of the hang-up a focus on the “controversy” versus the facts, me thinks that any public official hanging up on a reporter is a well-worthy piece of news, especially when the reporter was trying to get the facts.

So what’s there to hide? Why hang up on a reporter? Why isn’t the budget filed yet? What is the problem?

We’re promised a story for Thursday’s Missoulian. Looks like it’s popcorn for breakfast, folks.

UPDATE: We update today with a link to the story and note that not just the city, but the county, too, that has failed to file its budget. At least Missoula’s consistent, huh?

photoshop1godzilla-ate-my-house

by problembear

 after today’s news about falling house prices everyone who makes payments on a mortgage must be wondering  just how much farther can they fall. the news isn’t good. economists all say the bottom is still a long way off.

stan and angela bought their home in target range over 15 years ago for $87,900.00    – their neighbors in back sold the identical house two years ago for $246,750.00  –  stan turned down an offer on their home a year and a half ago for $263,800.00   – this week the realtor advised them to accept an offer of $181,250.00 – stan and angela have no choice now because stan has accepted a new teaching  job for a lot more money in alaska. they are not destitute and they do not fear foreclosure but they have lost over 31% of the value of their home in less than two years. 

“i don’t know where the local news media is getting their figures” stan says “but our realtor is a great friend and she leveled with us.  if you want to sell your house now don’t listen to the talk about how missoula hasn’t seen big drops in housing prices yet. that is pure BS.” then stan added with a wry smile…”it’s like godzilla ate almost half our house.” he is looking forward to the new job with great challenges for his career and both of them have always wanted to live in alaska. they are on the young side of forty and excited about the future but angela sums it up…” i just assumed we would always be homeowners, now i am not so sure.”

there will be some capital gain on the house although probably not enough to buy another one soon. “we will rent a nice condo angela’s sister picked out for us in anchorage- right on the waterfront.”  stan shrugs his shoulders and continues shoveling snow from the big driveway in front of his big two car garage. “i’ll miss the garage.” he says.

we have not seen the bottom of this yet . contrary to what you read in desperate realty ad seeking rose-colored local internet and press based articles the west is already hip deep in this value drop and missoula is smack dab in the middle.

i like to occasionally check two websites that provide some reality based perspective on this – patrick.net  and bubblemeter.com

by jhwygirl

A while back, I asked: How would you improve your local paper?

Today, former gubernatoral candidate and every liberal blogger’s favorite, Pogie, of Intelligent Discontent, puts forth a nicely detailed analysis of the general problems, as he sees it, with newspapers. He goes further and talks about what he sees in Helena with the Independent Record.

He hits on the lack of detail in local news. In our previous post here, the lack of local news was generally agreed upon. Pogie’s post goes one step further, citing the lack of detailed analysis. Perhaps a valid statement – which may be why us new junkies here pointed to the lack of local news as one of the Missoulian’s problems. Maybe it isn’t so much the lack of local news, but the lack of meat-and-potatoes to the local news. Issues don’t die after the vote – and beyond that – why are we only hearing about stuff within days of hearing. Isn’t the paper publishing legal notices? Don’t the get the heads-up weeks (if not months) ahead of time? A lot of stuff is moving through the process for a good deal of time.

In the end, all of us – even you readers, I dare say – love reading, love newspapers. We want survival, and change needs to be part of it.

A worthy and important conversation to have. Go join in.

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread.

The City of Bozeman is just about ready to open its first homeless shelter. Sounds like it was a very worth labor of love amongst a number of community members. Congratulations on your success.

Great Falls nonprofits are using recycling as a method of raising funds. Pacific Recycling – which has a location here in Missoula, too – is partner in the process.

Eartha Kitt – who played Catwoman on the original Batman series – passed away from cancer at age 81. The daughter of a white farmer and a black Cherokee mother, Eartha rose from abject poverty to break barriers in the entertainment field. She gained much notoriety, but not without cost, as she made Richard Nixon’s enemies list for her outspoken anti-Vietnam War stance.
catwoman

Hey! You people in Great Falls! Keep your dogs away from that river! Not one, but two rescues this week. Your firemen there are awesome!

Three out of four – 3 out of 4!are glad Bush is done.

Leonard Downie, Jr., of the Washington Post, ponders Could We Uncover Watergate Today?

This pic was too precious to pass up. It accompanied a New York Times article titled Bush’s Philosophy Stoked Mortgage Bonfire.

a-home-of-your-own1

goodbye greg….

dscn0004

by problembear

last sunday dec 21st, the national weather service listed the low temperature as -9. Greg Ramsey Baumann slept on the ground in sleeping bags beneath a small ponderosa pine tree next to a park bench. he is gone now and those of us who knew him are coming to terms with it. this poem is dedicated to greg….

Greg

that flat blade shovel you asked me to buy with the sharp cutting edge leans against the wall where you left it last week after chipping away the ice in our parking lot one inch at a time- exactly the way you wanted to do it. it is a tool i will use proudly with your name burned into it as an homage to your principles.

you worked harder for nothing than most people ever do for pay and as i drive over the orange street bridge i see the clark fork river has carved a swath through thick ice dams because the weight of all that upper river flow in the mountains must go somewhere.

you never asked for anything except the tools to do your self appointed chores and you never accepted an offer of shelter because you could survive defiant and undefeated the elements but you knew that society could kill you.

we shared wry jokes but true to your gentler nature- never about other people- only about the absurd institutions that people create to protect themselves from those who are different.

the clark fork river has cut a swath through thick ice dams because the weight of all that upper river flow from the mountains must go somewhere and it has taken you with it to a place where honor and integrity is still recognized. goodbye greg.

by Pete Talbot

Since it’s the holidays and all, I thought I should play nice. But then, silly me, I surfed some conservative blog sites. They’re coming to the defense of poor Jane “let’s throw a wrench in the works” Rectenwald.

Ms. Rectenwald has been in the news lately, alleging that the Missoula Office of Planning and Grants Director Roger Millar, “upended democracy and threatened to throw her out of meetings.”

This came on the heels of a prepared speech she gave at a planning workshop – a workshop that wasn’t supposed to be a venue for prepared speeches. You can read her complaint and her speech here. The speech is so full of inaccuracies and venom that it boggles the mind.

I don’t know Mr. Millar but I’ve heard he’s an agreeable fellow who’s open to input from the community. To quote Mayor Engen, “Roger Millar is the last person I can think of who would try to stifle public comment, democracy or participation.”

I don’t know Rectenwald that well, either, although I did observe her a couple of times at City-Government Review Board meetings, where she served on the board. It seemed like she was doing her best to derail what was supposed to be a consensus-driven process.

Anyway, Rob Natelson over at Electric City Blog has a post entitled, “Petty Tyranny in Missoula” (subtle, huh?). He has this to say:

“… the citizens present were divided up into “teams.” They were told to confer among themselves and then have a team representative tell everyone else ”two good things and two bad things” about the proposed re-zoning plan. The idea, apparently, was to force people to say something good about the plan, so that could be reported later as a show of public support.”

Hey, Rob – I guess this would “force people” to say something bad about the plan, too.

Then he continues with U.S. Supreme Court/Bill of Rights rhetoric, adding, “it flatly violates the First Amendment for any government official to force a citizen to state views the citizen doesn’t believe.”

So, Rob, were they water boarding the citizens? Electrodes on their privates?

Rob goes on to state that, “a city official told her (Rectenwald) never to attend a Missoula public hearing again!” which is just plain untrue.

And Rob teaches law at UM. Scary.

Carol over at Missoulapolis picked up the beat:

“This is what is so nauseating. Instead of having straightup meetings with each comer allowed his or her say – as in the Miller Creek EIS process, for example – they have to do these “workshops” to foster the illusion of public participation and consensus. It’s a game, and you could say that Jane does not play well with others. And that’s why we like her so much here at Missoulapolis.”

Let’s see … “illusion of public participation,” “it’s a game,” “nauseating.” Tell us how you really feel, Carol. Perhaps let’s not have any public participation and just ram zoning rewrites through the council. Then let’s watch the right-wingers come unglued. They’re never happy

Rectenwald is a spokeswoman for what I call the “dumb growthers.” You know, the folks that favor sprawl and are against infill and affordable housing. They get the most fired up when those pesky university students try to find places to live close to the university.

Rectenwald is not helping the process of revisiting Missoula’s zoning ordinances — and it’s an important process. Nor is she helping her own cause. Way to go, Jane.

bear_hibernating_lg1

by problembear

I BLOG; THEREFORE I DON”T EXIST…

anyway, i thought it was funny…best of the season to one and all- time to go into two day hibernation mode….may we find a way to peace in the new year.

speaking of traps…….

18-advocacy_3

by problembear

don’t step into one of these unless you want to lose an arm and a leg. ed kemmis at the Billings Gazette does a pretty good job of reporting on the payday loan issue in montana. the stars are aligning for some action by the legislature to protect montanans from the scourge of 650% interest.

by jhwygirl

I spoke of this fawn I came upon in early October here and here.

Here is the picture. The sheepherder trapper that did this never did report it, as I had followed up on about 2 weeks later. It should have had a quick release. Beyond that, in the particulars of this situation, he was breaking the law.

That fawn could just as easily had been my pet, my friend’s pet, or a neighbor’s pet.

october-fawn

Yeah. Keep that trapping tradition alive. NOT.

by jhwygirl

Today, after the not-so-regularly scheduled Board of County Commissioner’s regular weekly public hearing (normally it’s on Wednesday but this week it’s moved to Monday because of the Christmas holiday), Michele Landquist will be sworn in as Missoula County’s newest County Commissioner.

The ceremony starts around 3 (so the flier says). Come join the festivities.

Congratulations Michele – A whole bunch of us are looking forward to the new perspective that we’re sure you’re going to bring to Missoula County politics.

by jhwygirl

Now.

Which means that days are getting longer and nights are getting shorter.

{{Happy dance, happy dance}}

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread.

A Billings woman – Blanche Vavra – who passed about 9 months ago and was described as frugal left $2.8 million to various charities.

“All she knew about finance was be conservative,” said her former neighbor Jerry Dobesh. “She lived very plain and very sparsely.”

What do you want to bet that people described her as “cheap” when she was alive?

Pierced kittens, I kid you not. Selling on ebay as Goth Kittens.

There is so much wrong with this that I don’t know where to start. Oh hell – I’ll give it a try: This kids parents are chicken shit weasels fools cretins for pimping their kid out for their disgusting hate speech filled political beliefs.

It’s a $138 billion mystery. The federal reserve – after Lehman Bros. went bankrupt – lent Lehman the money in two installments, only one of which has been repaid. Only they didn’t do it directly – they did it through JP Morgan Chase & Co.

Al Franken has the lead in the Minnesota Senate race.

Two conservation groups (The Nature Conservancy and The Trust for Public Land) have bought 130,000 acres of Plum Creek Lands – Plum Creek’s entire holdings in the Fish Creek drainage west of Missoula, and whole bunch of other stuff between Potomoc and Clinton (if I heard it right on the evening news the other night).

Foreclosures in Montana are expected to increase in 2009. There were 600 this year, and 1000 expected for next year. From KECI.

Of course, there’s always Foreclosures.com that shows you what newspapers and realtors aren’t talking about. There’s also RealtyTrac.com which’ll give you a map or a list.

On that note… I was down in Ravalli County earlier this week, and saw a number of sheriff’s sales posted – including one for a pretty active and well-known realtor who’s had some woes with a not-short list of properties. I think I counted 8 that went up on sheriff’s sale on December 8th.

There is a difference between foreclosures and sheriff’s sales, right?

State economist Barbara Wagner says that“the national recession is impacting the Montana economy.”

Former Mayor Dan Kemmis has yet to be eliminated from a list on the incoming Obama Administration.

Have I mentioned lately how great the Great Falls Tribune is?

This post got a lot of attention from this site. I want to register and find out what they have to say, but I’ve resisted so far….

And how was your week?

alumni21

by problembear

jodi rave is an award-winning writer/reporter for Lee Enterprises and we in missoula have been very lucky to read her for years. her new blog is now up. check it out.

by jhwygirl

The Missoulian had an article out yesterday, headlined Regional Economic Outlook Optimistic for State. If you read it, it enters some caveats – like the fact that it doesn’t include data from November or December (the two biggest months of retail sales that push retail “into the black”?) and survey results showing regional business outlook rated poorly.

Big caveats, considering the headlines, right?

Meanwhile, over at the Helena Independent Republic, a headline reads “Business Leaders Have Gloomy Outlook for 2009.” It looks to be referring to one of the caveats referred to in the Missoulian article.

Then, later in the day, the Missoulian posts Montana Consumer Sentiment Slips to 15-year Low.

Now – I remember during the primary when one candidate – no need in naming the one in particular where it was clear that he was avoiding the word – refused to say “recession” even though it was clearly on everyone’s mind. Further, plenty of investor/real estate/finance sector people will not say anything to suggest anything less than “we never know when we hit bottom until it’s behind us,” meaning that you should buy, buy, buy because that’s what the need you to do, regardless of whether it is really the best choice for you, the consumer. So it’s understandable why news agencies would try to keep the message positive – or as positive as the possibly can, given the circumstances.

But are we at the bottom? 60 Minutes warns us otherwise. According to a report from last Sunday, a second wave of foreclosures is about to hit. I watched the piece on television, and although the article linked to there does cover about 99% of it as I remember it, it does lack the graphic which showed the mortgage foreclosures that have diseased this nation the last 2 years….and which showed the impending foreclosures that will hit this nation for the next two years.

We’re at the end of the first wave and at the beginning of the second wave.

These impending foreclosures – the statistics gathered from lenders and mortgage brokers – are from loans to good risk, good credit people – loans that had “teaser” rates of 1/2%, 1% – and which will be reset to 7, 8% here in the near future. So these loans put people in homes that pushed the limits (clearly this was the modus operandi of realtors and mortgage financiers everywhere – it’s what got us here) of what they could afford, merely by sliding them into mortgages at attractive immediate payments.

Now he housing market is in shambles. We’ve got homes that have lost value – and an inability of these soon-to-be-unteased loans to refinance because not only have the homes not gained any value, they aren’t worth what they currently owe on them.

Couple that with unemployment at a 26 year high, and you’ve got…well, you know….

Ouch.

libby_mainstreet

by problembear

patrick klemz does a great job of boiling it all down to an essence this week. let’s hope the long delayed upcoming trial in missoula this february brings some justice and helps to herald a new era of punishing bad behavior instead of rewarding it. next up- wall street CEO’s anyone?

and lest we forget it was a daily newspaper who broke this story in the first place. more proof that good old fashioned newsprint is valuable in a free society to expose crooked companies. very sad for many of the victims that the wheels of justice turn so slowly.

by jhwygirl

Otis, an adorable beagle mix – looking a little on the active senior-citizen side – got caught in two traps on Lost Horse Road last week. The traps were 30 feet from the road.

Lost Horse Road is located south of Hamilton, and heads eastward into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.

His owner, fortunately, was able to free him, but not without panic and several hours in the cold. Considering the severely low temperatures we’ve been experiencing, Otis and his owner are tremendously lucky.

Imagine the torture of an animal – any animal – as it lay caught in one of these traps. Dying, freezing to death. I’m not an overly religious person, but I can not imagine that our Creator would be OK with his creatures treated this way in the name of sport. There was a time and a place and a necessity for trapping. But those days are long past.

Footloose Montana is a local organization that has taken up the cause of educating the public about the dangers of trapping. They are also working to seek legislative and regulatory changes – and recently saw some minor successes late this summer when the FWP Board of Commissioners made some regulatory concessions with regards to setbacks for traps and eliminating trapping from a few high public use areas.

Footloose is still looking for donations to keep a weekly ad running that lists locations of these traps so that pet-owning recreationists know where to be extra cautious. Consider a small donation, as it only takes $80 a week to keep the ad running.

Here is a map of known locations of traps. Some locations:

Gold Creek north of Milltown
The Harris Ranch hunting access site near Victor (really? These guys are so lazy that they just place traps at hunting access sites?)
Nine Mile Creek has seen numerous traps (with two black labs caught in some recently)
Bass Creek
Butler Loop area of Nine Mile

There are so many problems, as I see it, with trapping. One easily cited reason is the fact that these traps easily trap non-target species. They can be bald eagles, the elusive wolverine, or lynx. A trapper isn’t even obligated to report it. Three eagles (two bald, one golden) have been caught in illegal traps in the Clinton area in the last two years.

This past fall I came across a fawn who’s neck had been caught in a snare. The beautiful creature – still with its white spots – clearly had been lying there for more than a day. Death was very quick, but those snares are supposed to release larger animals. This one didn’t. It was set by a sheepherder (who I had passed on the way), to trap coyotes. His gun and three dogs – along with the corral he had his sheep in – apparently weren’t deterrent enough.

The snare was less than one mile from a dozen or more homes. Imagine walking your pet and hearing a yelp, and before you could get to him, he’s gone.

Be safe out there folks. Keep your loved ones close.

by jhwygirl

Actually, the money arrived at the end of November, but I’ve been waiting to see if there would be any discussion on what the county was going to do with it. Apparently, the County Commissioners have stashed it away without much adieu.

PILT (payment in lieu of taxes) payments from the Department of the Interior had been suspended, with what everyone had thought were the last payments disbursed at the beginning of the year. The long story on it, actually, is that that last payment was a rider on a bill at the end of 2007 that eeked out that one last payment.

Until the Farm Bill this past May. Until Montana’s Senator Max Baucus made sure of it. Now the payments are reinstated at the full-funded level of years past.

Rehburg has voted against funding this program. Max Baucus has always supported it.

Missoula County’s take is $423,910.

Some other counties:
Ravalli: $882,221
Gallatin: $576,448
Lewis & Clark: $837,440
Mineral: $77,625
Granite: $85,036
Powell: $253,091
Beaverhead: $329,458
Deerlodge: $174,290
Silverbow: $184,907

For information on PILT payments, check out this website.

by jhwygirl

Montana District Judge Thomas C. Honzel (disclosure: I’m a fan) issued an opinion today which threw out a water permit issued to a coal-bed methane producer.

Honzel said the state permit should not have been issued because it appropriated ground water, and apparently the permit that was issued didn’t even recognize that someone pulling water up from the ground needed to have water rights.

Now, what can you even say about that? Really? Holy hell.

Again – what in the world goes on that we don’t hear about?

There’s not much to the article, and I’m searching to find the opinion. But ya’all know how I feel about water rights, right?

I’m wondering who the plaintiffs are in the case. It’s probably water rights holders, wouldn’t you think? From there, I think I’ll just wait for more criticism until I get my hands on the opinion.

Yi yi yi yi yi.

by jhwygirl

On neither the county nor the city website could I find a “Missoula City-County Air Pollution Control Board,” but in last Thursday’s paper, tucked away in the legal notices on page C8 was this notice:

On December 18, 2008 at 12:15 p.m., the Missoula City-County Air Pollution Control Board will hold a public hearing concerning the Department’s decision to issue an air quality permit to T&T Contracting for a gravel crusher operation at the Monroe Pit near River Road and Reserve Street, Missoula County (at Section 17 Township 13N, Range 19W.) The hearing will be held in teh second floor conference room at 301 West Alder. Public comment will be accepted by the Board at the hearing. Interested persons may also submit written comments to the Board on or before December 16, 2008 at 301 W Alder St., Missoula, MT 59802 or by emailing Bob Schmidt at schmidth@ho.missoula.mt.us. A copy of the permit, administrative hearing proceedings and the department’s responses to public comment is available by contacting the Environmental Health Division, 258-4755 and at http://www.co.missoula.mt.us/EnvHealth.

The pit is located in a county inholding – an island of county-zoned land, surrounded by city zoned land. The city can’t annex industrial or agricultural land, so the operation – despite it’s affects on the surrounding residential neighbornood – isn’t subject to city laws.

There are currently no gravel crushing operations at the site – but this newly issued permit will allow one to operate. It will also add electrical generators. T&T is a new business that will be operating there.

Neighbors in the River Road neighborhood where the pit is located have dealt with numerous health issues for years. Overwhelming dust, trucks running 24/7. They’ve witnessed violations of heavy equipment incursions into the river. Pages 3 and 4 of the minutes from a previously held meeting detail the conundrums presented by this county inholding and its status in state law. Jim Carlson sums it up here:

The state of Montana does provide for public nuisance type lawsuits and individual lawsuits, even though the government may not be able to be involved in those. That’s something that you may want to talk to your own attorney’s about. I’m just trying to give an overview of the fact that there isn’t a holistic permitting process. I think we’re one of the only permits that provides for the ability to have public review and public comment on the permit. It’s unfortunate but this is the way it is. To that extent, you know, it’s important that you comment to your legislature that you would like to see some things changed. Certainly with regard to noise ordinances, that may be something that could be accomplished in this upcoming session.

Frankly, this pit is a nuisance on the mere existence of it and the danger it faces to the whole community. This past year’s high water event – nothing compared to what the Clark Fork will will eventually bring to town – threatened to capture this very gravel operation and make an end run around the Reserve Street Clark Fork bridge.

Think traffic is bad now?

Imagine the City severed by no Reserve Street bridge? Imagine the emergency issues…the traffic.

Consider this: This past year’s high water event really wasn’t atypical. Talk to old timers and they’ll tell you. And water came darned close to capturing that operation as it was.

That operation down there is not only a nuisance to the neighborhood, it’s a nuisance to MDOT, to the State of Montana. Think of the astronomical cost it would present should that bridge be effectively castrated. It’s a nuisance to the City, to the County and the taxpayers of the entire state.

Think of how communities around the state will feel when highway funds are redirected to build Missoula a new bridge when a major state highway – perhaps the state’s busiest? – is severed because of gravel pit next to the river where everyone with any common sense knew that the darned thing would be captured by a high water event one day.

So while the Director of Environmental Health Jim Carlson says that “The state of Montana does provide for public nuisance type lawsuits and individual lawsuits, even though the government may not be able to be involved in those,” I think he is slightly wrong there.

While I’m being critical here of Carlson’s statement, when you read through the minutes, it seems apparent to me that there is a certain level of frustration coming from the City-County Health Department with regards to the operations located there adjacent to the river.

I point out that this bridge is a nuisance because:
#1 – this neighborhood needs help.
#2 – this nuisance is more than just a neighborhood issue
#3 – waiting for the inevitable – the river will eventually capture this pit and make an end run around the bridge – is ridiculously foolish and cost.

Yee gads, someone: Do something before we’re without a bridge and stuck holding a multi-million dollar years long cluster of a mess to fix.

my hero

bushshoex-large

by problembear

now after his release  let’s hook this guy up with sabathia to do some work on  accuracy. may i suggest on Letterman???

by Pete Talbot

After reading jhwygirl’s various and sundry for the weekend, I stumbled across a few stories that also deserve attention.

First, I get most of my information the old-fashioned way: newspapers. As a matter of fact, most of the nuggets in this post were gleaned from local, regional and national newspapers.

So, this news, that the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News are drastically cutting newspaper delivery was a downer. Of course, staffs and content will also be cut. And as the New York Times explains in the story, other papers around the country may follow suit.

Will the Internet pick up the slack? It seems unlikely since online revenue from websites is a fraction of the revenue generated by advertising in the old, dead tree editions.

What about our local newspapers? Well, one of the Missoula Independent’s cheap holiday gift ideas were shares of stock in Lee Enterprises (publisher of the Missoulian, Ravalli Republic, Billings Gazette, Helena Independent-Record and Butte’s Montana Standard). Shares in Lee are going for around 50 cents, down 98 percent from a year ago.

I was surprised that the Indy included this in their list as I can’t imagine its profits are soaring, either, although it does fill a bit different niche.

Despite our criticism of local newspapers, reporters and editors, the demise of our dailies would be a great loss.

I gotta get me one of them dolls

Here’s an example of a local story that had me wondering in amazement. Reporter Jamie Kelly must have had a hard time writing this piece with a straight face.

Any doll that says “Islam is the light” or “Satan is king” deserves a place under my Christmas tree. Please, K-Mart, put them back on the shelf.

The financial crisis explained

Another reason I love my paper is the comics. When I was a kid in Wisconsin, I’d read the Chicago Tribune’s comics at my grandfather’s knee: Dick Tracy, L’il Abner, Mark Trail (Dick Tracy had this cool two-way wrist radio — the predecessor to today’s cell phone).

I still read the comics everyday. Saturday’s Dilbert unravels the mysteries of the current financial meltdown.

A conundrum

So here I sit, writing about the glories of newspapers on this blog site — a format that probably doesn’t reinforce, for the most part, newspaper readership.

And old 4&20 Blackbirds is doing OK. Sometime on Friday, around 4 p.m., we got our 400,000th visit. While this isn’t huge in terms of Daily Kos or Huffington Post, it ain’t bad for a local blog.

Kudos to Jay Stevens, who started this blog; jhwygirl, the site’s current bread-and-butter writer; Rebecca Schmitz (best headlines); our newest contributor, problembear; Jamie, Jason, et al.

And thanks to our readers and especially those who contribute comments.


by jhwygirl

While I’m not completely cold-hearted and I do sympathize with the situation, someone please explain to me why anyone in Washington – including Rehberg, Tester and Baucus (although the news article doesn’t mention Baucus here) – want to maintain sweetheart real estate deals for cabin lessees on national forest ground?

Now, Georgetown Lake USFS cabin lessees have gained the ear of the Montana Standard, who has apparently taken up their cause.

“I can’t afford to stay there for $8,500 a year,” said Martelli, an Anaconda retiree. “I’m going to try to sell it if I can but I don’t know anybody else that would buy it and pay that kind of lease price.”

Really? With land being bought up faster around that lake than they can build ’em, and he doesn’t think he’d be able to sell that cabin because now one would be able to afford the lease price? An annual lease price that would seem a deal as compared to a mortgage?

What is the benefit? Leaky septic tanks and higher fire danger? Higher fire fighting costs if when fire moves through?

Beyond that those leases – as Martelli alludes to in the article – get passed down from lessee to lessee, often kept in the family forever. They’re not put out there competitively or fairly for the rest of the wanting-a-sweetheart-deal-cabin-site public. Why’s that fair?

I know that sounds harsh – and I’ve talked with several who maintain these cabin sites – but I’ve yet to be able to justify having the federal government facilitate maintenance of a family tradition, a family heirloom – call it what you will.

I’ll even acknowledge that these cabins are for the most part pretty modest – some are shacks, frankly (which doesn’t help my higher fire danger complaint) – and that higher leases will result in the sites being sold over to what will result in higher end cabin lessees.

On the other hand – that additional revenue would end up in the pockets of local government entities via PILT payments.

I’ve blogged about this before, here.

Anyone, please – explain to me why the federal government should be in the business of leasing prime vacation lands at what amounts to effectively subsidized real estate prices?

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread.

The City of Helena-Lewis & Clark County Health Board has proposed universal health care. They say their “tired of waiting for national health care reform.”

You all heard about the UM professor that was advertising on his tests to help pay for the copy machine, right? Well, a high school calculus teacher in California has picked up to do the same. What is becoming of our education system that teachers have to resort to these kind of methods to keep classrooms functioning? I mean, we aren’t talking about funding field trips or anything. The teachers that are doing this seem to be looking for just the basics. Like paper.

Bush was obviously distressed at the failed Senate vote for the auto bailout. Did you see the news clips? Well, the White House is moving towards using the Wall Street bailout monies. It’s either Bush or the Obama White House that’ll do it – remember, Obama said he wanted to see money to the auto industry. Waiting, though, may not prevent catastrophic failure. So it looks like Bush is up to bat on this one.

One take on what will happen if bankruptcy is forced upon the Big 3.

Wall Street is completely out of control.

Montana’s best high schools.

Pew Research has an interesting analysis of people’s perceptions of the economy and the current situation – personal v. national.

Minnesota tilts to Franken at last turn.

Shakespeare & Co. has been keeping great gift ideas coming. The non-fiction list was interesting. Thing is about gift shopping, I always end up getting stuff for myself.

And how’s about you all?

Chattanooga, here we come!

by jhwygirl

Remember this post? Well, it peaked Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller’s interest, and she’s got this interview with failed incumbent PSC candidate Doug Mood up at Missoula Red Tape.

Lost on me, but apparently the “O” in “O shit” – which is “O crap” in some other applications – stands for Obama.

Mood’s obviously proud of it too – I’da put money down on him having removed the stuff by now. And I’da lost.

Don’t let the door hit ya where the sun don’t shine, Doug.

….so goes the country….

topics_gm_390-chevy

by problembear

gotta say i agree with the denial of the bailout . it is time to get real about what is happening here and stop all this cinderella bail-out business. we cannot afford to prop up businesses that drove straight off the cliff pedal to the metal at 85 mph when they pass right by very readable signs years ago warning these jokers to turn back on the much smaller safer and better built road.(the looming bankruptcies sort of disprove all the old conspiracy theorists who used to think that auto manufacturers were in cahoots with the oil industry to stop better fuel efficiency though) turns out they were just plain old fashioned garden variety stupid…

losing 3 million more jobs (dealers, manufacturers and suppliers) will hurt this country badly. it’s a tough thing to watch GM – synonymous with american prosperity go into bankruptcy- but it is the right thing to do. sometimes right things to do are very hard to do.

it is done now. the big three are toast so let’s all take courage in the process of new green yankee ingenuity and watch what grows out of the bankruptcy process. maybe this country is ready for some real changes now in some other extinct relics of a bygone era things like: a completely dysfunctional employer based privatized health care system which siphons profit at the expense of our health and still leaves us bankrupt; banks and corporations that gamble their futures away recklessly for short term profits and allow wealthy directors and ceo’s to shrug their shoulders and retire in comfort- who suffer no consequences compared to the workers they victimize with their stupidity and stubborn intransigent blindness to common sense realities.

it is time to stop rewarding bad behavior unless we want to perpetuate it.

by Pete Talbot

Government officials around Montana have been receiving the email below. I can’t reveal my sources because of the sensitive content. This much is evident: Donny Osmond is a Communist/terrorist sympathizer.

I thought this might be an amusing break from politics, the recession, etc., but it’s weird, too — a conspiracy theory on steroids.

Verbatim:

This to inform you about the misuse of NASA and communications satellites by several celebrities and university officials that are selling information to communists and special interest groups. Since the 1960s, they have spoken about this on various television programs and at special events associated with public universities. They are involved with illegal eugenics experiments supervised by former naxis. Many of the celebrities are employed by radio and television satellite networks that surveillance U.S. politicians and citizens without their permission. Celebrities that have been involved include Marlo Thomas; Oprah Winfrey; CNN’s Jane Fonda, Nancy Grace, Paula Zahn, John King and Larry King; televangelists Billy Graham and Benny Hinn; Sirius Radio announcer John Madden; Weather Channel’s Paul Kocin; Accuweather’s Elliot Abrams; ESPN Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Chris Fowler; singer Donny Osmond; actors and talk show hosts Hugh Hefner, Dick Clark, Betty White, Suzanne Somers, Geraldo Rivera, Phylicia Rashad, John Travolta, David Hasselhof, Will Smith, Bea Arthur, Patti Duke: and athletes and sports coaches Chris Evret, Martina Navratilova, PSU coach Joe Paterno, and Lou Holtz. Their networks promote unregulated satellite communications, the sale of information to communists and AIPAC, the appointing of Jewish politicians, and the harassment of Christians.

I thought that the Jews were behind this. With names like Betty White, John Madden, Dick Clark and Joe Paterno, can there be any question?




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