I Guess That’s All There is to Ward 1 Candidate Ryan Morton

by jhwygirl

A “faux hawk”.

Gotta get noticed somehow, I guess.

Aside from the other obvious concerns that not-just-a-few have about Ryan Morton – namely, his current job as spokesperson for the Missoula Building Industry Association – how are we supposed to take seriously a candidate that would devote a interview to his hair?

Ryan Morton is also campaign manager for Ward 6 candidate Kathy Greathouse, who is challenging incumbent Councilwoman Marilyn Marler.

Guess we’ll have to endure another story about him in the Missoulian.

Maybe that’s good – don’t newspapers have to give equal time to candidates? Means we’d get two stories on each of the candidates. If that’s the case, sounds fine with me. Let’s hope the other candidates don’t waste their time talking about their hairstyle, and Missoula residents will come out on top, with more information than is typical for a primary.

Ryan Morton is challenging incumbent Councilman Dave Strohmaier for Ward 1’s city council seat.


  1. goof houlihan

    Why would anyone be concerned because he works at the MBIA?

    Dunno about their members, but in Bozeman, members of SWMBIA include just about every non public or non non profit employer in town; media, retail, banking and finance, accountants, engineers, etc. I’d guess their members include half of the for profit employers in town.

    If that’s the case in Missoula, then Ryan should be proud to work for an organization that represents so many hard working small business Missoulians, the salt of the city, the risk takers, the employers and the employees. What voter wouldn’t be impressed by this aggregation of capitalism and good old American entrepreneurship?

    • JC

      Goof, I think most people who pay attention to BIAs and the NAHB understand that there is a lot of tension between the people who work for the grassroots businesses and organizations (and even some of the businesses and orgs themselves) that comprise the local BIAs, and the political stances of the national, state and local associations.

      And that tension often finds its voice in the political mouthings of people who are spokesman for the BIAs–people like Ryan Morton.

      So, to answer your question “Why would anyone be concerned because he works at the MBIA?”, the answer is because the MBIA has taken political stances on many issues in Missoula–housing, zoning, infill, annexation, etc. And Ryan Morton has been the person to represent MBIA’s interests in local government issues. He is, afterall, the government affairs person there.

      So why does that bring a concern? Most people like their councilpersons to be representative of their wards. Not a lobbyist for the local chapter of a national, and highly politicized, special interest organization.

      • Ryan Morton, Candidate Ward 1 - MBIA

        Fear and Loathing in Missoula…

        I don’t believe MBIA issues are the bulk of City of Missoula activities. In fact, most of what I want to accomplish has little or nothing to do with MBIA issues.

        I don’t understand why it’s scary to have someone be vocal and political in local politics, but that’s not my decision. If you’re afraid of my job, that’s your business and I’ll respect that (although, I may tease you about it from time to time). I will NEVER apologize for being inspired into public service (again) because of my job. I wish more people would step up (jhwygirl – you seem to have a lot to say).

        As far as internal tension, I feel we have done a good job at hearing member’s points of view. We have worked hard to educate them on issues and invited them to make their voices heard.. I get more “Thank you’s” than anything from members (often whom I’ve never met in person). So please don’t make assumptions.

        When in doubt, just contact me directly. Thanks!

        • JC

          Fear and loathing? Hardly. I just happen to believe your job, as MBIA government affairs spokesman (lobbyist) and that of a councilman conflict. It’s your job as a candidate to prove me wrong.

          Your first challenge as a candidate will be proving to your constituents (and I potentially would be one of yours) that your position on council would not conflict with your job as gov affairs person for MBIA. I see that your day job’s role would be to influence your night job’s decisionmaking. And I see that as a huge conflict of interest.

          And feel free to tease me all you want, if you really think I’m afraid of your job. FWIW, I’ve done work for the BIAs myself in the past. So I’m not “uninformed” about that of which I speak. And I’m definitely not afraid of myself–or of the dark.

          • Ryan Morton, Candidate Ward 1 - MBIA

            Sorry, JC. I don’t dance to your tune. Further, I have no financial interest in Council decisions. I’ll be happy to disclose land use policy suggestions as MBIA approved for the public record and even abstain on occasion depending on the issue. As far as sewer, administration, promoting a public insurance option with the City’s self-insurance pool, taxes, budgeting, parks, police, fire, roads, sidewalks… you know, most everything else the City does besides land use… I think I’ll be ok. MBIA doesn’t take positions on most of that stuff. I’d know because I work for them. :-)

          • JC

            It’s not my tune. And I don’t expect you to dance that well, either. My concerns are the same concerns of many other Ward 1 constituents and Missoulians. I don’t expect you to answer my questions here. But they will be the same questions that come up in public. So you had better get used to them.

            As to your lobbying on MBIA positions, that is pretty direct. What may interest Missoulians is the following statements from your May newsletter:

            MBIA is planning an issue based campaign [during the 09 municipal elections]

            Are you going to lead this “issue based campaign” while running as a candidate?

            Or this one:

            MBIA wants to stress the importance of this election and YOUR VOTE! City regulations affect the building industry the most. The City sets the rules for where, when, and how much building occurs in Missoula. Ignoring this election is ignoring your business. MBIA is beefing up efforts this year to keep you informed and involved. [emphasis in original]

            Sounds like the “beefed up efforts” include having one of their employees run for and sit on Council.

            Then there’s this:

            The MBIA Board charged the [Governmental Affairs] committee [headed by Ryan Morton] in its strategic plan to make it easier for members to be engaged in government affairs.

            Our goal is to finely tune volunteer interests with a particular issue rather than generally understanding every issue the committee follows. We hope this new Government Affairs Committee volunteer plan will make the committee more accessible. While only in draft form, some of the top issues identified are as follows:

            -The permitting process.
            -The local elections.
            -County Subdivision Revisions (Parkland, Fire Prevention,
            Hill-side Standards, etc.).
            -Agriculture Preservation.
            -Annexation and Annexation Development Agreements.
            -Permit Fees.
            -Impact Fees…

            Sounds like the MBIA is going to use the position of Ryan as Councilman to listen to the viewpoints the volunteer committee that Ryan the MBIA Gov Affairs lobbyist is charged with assembling.

            Just sayin… a conflict is a conflict, no matter how much you try and dilute it with other duties and responsibilities.

            Sounds to me like Ryan is building a campaign committee within the MBIA. Not sure if rules governing nonprofits allow such a thing. Somebody might want to look into that.

          • Ryan Morton, Candidate Ward 1 - MBIA

            Yup. We did write that in May. I made my decision to run in June and have turned over the reins to the Chamber and Realtors.

            So, look all you want. :-)

          • Ryan Morton, Candidate Ward 1 - MBIA

            Oh, and thanks for looking at our newsletter and website! We work really hard on both.

          • Ryan? The July 3rd Missoulian article says that you are both the spokesperson for Kathy Greathouse and the spokesperson for the Missoula Building Industry Association.

            Was that inaccurate?

            What are you going to do if you get the job? Quit?

          • Ryan Morton, MBIA

            I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I’m getting heat from a variety of directions, but public service still feels right. I’ll keep you posted.

          • klemz

            “I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”

            I doubt you will.

      • goof houlihan

        Well if I was afraid of local chapter of a national, and highly politicized, special interest organization, I wouldn’t ever vote for a Democrat or a Republican.

        We’d be very offended when one of the local chapters of those highly politicized organizations butted themselves into a non partisan race, too!

        However, the BIAs aren’t highly politicized single interest organizations, as I pointed out when I pointed out the breadth of their membership.

        Not to stray too far from the point, but I’m also once again convinced of the error of dividing small towns and cities up into wards. What we want, and fail to get at the national and state level, are legislators who represent the whole rather than their little bit, scrambling for the biggest slice of the pie for “their” district, ward, etc. What is important is electing people who represent the whole city.

        Hence the excellence of a candidate who represents such a wide variety of employers and employees within Missoula, rather than a small piece only.

  2. Jay Stevens

    That’s beautiful, goof. Tears came to my eyes…

    • goof houlihan

      I’ve seen your tears, Jay:

      “It was all very painless
      When you went out to receive
      All that false instruction
      Which we never could believe.”

  3. Eboy

    I think it was the folks at the Missoulian and the current council president who brought hair style into the forefront.

    This is what I posted over at red tape:

    As one of the North side ward 1′ers
    I would be tickled to have a ward rep that understands and responds to the needs of the hood.
    Jim Mcgrath was the last good one.

    The council folk from Grant creek (when we were ward 2) and the ones from the Rattlesnake (now we are ward 1) have given me the impression they find our little slice of paradise a vexing distraction.
    I will give this Ryan a chance if he thinks he has what it takes to do good for the hood.

    I hope some day we can have another North side resident on Council–look out Jason.

    Ryan..fyi. the NS has plenty of historic properties, EDUs, PNCs, and lot line houses. We also have one of Missoula’s oldest sustainability non-profits MUD ;)

  4. Eboy

    What has the liberal/progressive majority on council done for you recently? I don’t see much to be all fired up about? I was no fan of that grump Ballas, but the current line up is the most un-compromising council I have seen in Msla. I see so much personal agenda and so little ward representation and compromise.

    Dave Strohmaier wears a funny hat, but that’s not why I will vote against him. His recent referrals on cell phones and panhandling are enough to sour me on the guy. He reminds me of the little old lady down the street who wants to regulate the number of sheets of tp one can pull per wipe.

  5. Tobie

    I agree with Goof. Ryan’s involvement with MBIA has nothing to do with his capabilities to effectivly govern this city. In fact having someone who is already very well educated would be a nice change.

    If Ryan’s hair is why people know his name, who cares? His or Dave Strohmaier’s hair isn’t what you’re electing. If you judge him without knowing what he really stands for than you’re choosing to be ignorant!

  6. Ed

    I was just tickled to get quoted in a news article. That was a first for me.

  7. Ryan Morton, Candidate Ward 1 - MBIA

    Oh jhwygirl… you need to have more fun in your life. Actually, scratch that. I’ll have fun for you. Oh, and where do I sign up for best dressed? LOL!

  8. Pogo Possum

    I have never understood, jhwygirl, why Democrats are driven to such apopletic hysteria over the words ‘building’, ‘industry’, ‘business’ etc., as if they were a curse on humankind, especially when such a large percentage of Democratic (and liberal) voters are business owners and workers employed in these areas.

    Goof makes an excellent point. I took the time to peruse the MBIA membership list and found, just as Goof predicted, its membership includes a vast array of business sectors in Missoula including retail, employment agencies, accountants, engineers, architects, local television stations, radio stations, newspapers, computers, landscapping, etc.

    Its membership even includes the Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters union (representing 25,000 carpenters and skilled workers in the Pacific NW) and the District XI Human Resourses Council that assists low income people through the Section 8 Low Income Housing, Native American Home Ownership Program, and Low Income Energy Assistance Program.

    Ryan Morton should make this point the next time someone tries to imply that speaking for small business owners and workers, union members and agencies representing low income people is a bad thing.

    It is also a little disingenuous of you to suggest that Ryan called a press conference to discuss his hair. It is clear in the article that he was simply, and quite cleverly, responding to a question from the audience. The fact that a reporter decided to make that single audience question the focus of her article over more pertinant issues discussed says more about the reporter’s reporting style than Ryan’s qualifications for office.

    Ryan’s particular hair style makes him no less and no more qualified as a candidate than Matt Singer wearing pink bunny ears makes him more or less qualified to be ED of the Montana Democratic Party.

    • Ryan Morton, Candidate Ward 1 - MBIA

      Thanks Pogo for keeping a healthy perspective on this. I’ve tried to get MBIA connected with members of the community who often scorn the association. It’s an uphill battle somedays, but that’s my vision for my job at MBIA as well as a Councilperson.

      Having said all that… I do get mouthy from time to time. Let’s blame the hawk ;-)

    • Ryan Morton, Candidate Ward 1 - MBIA

      Oh, and I vote democrat.

    • JC

      The issue here, PoPo isn’t with the MBIA membership. As you say, and as Goof says, BIA membership, in general reflects a broad constituency in the community. And many of those constituents are low income, union, and craftsmen. This isn’t about any of that.

      But what you will find, is that the national NAHB (and state BIAs, and to some degree, local associations) politics conflicts with that of its grassroots membership businesses and/or their employees.

      I don’t think that jhwygirl, or any other writer/commenter here has any issues with most of the member organizations of the MBIA. In fact we patronize and make use of the services of many of these organizations. The assumption that we are against the members–when in fact it is the politics of the association and its employees that we are calling into question–is false, and a smokescreen to avoid the real issues.

      • Ryan Morton, MBIA

        “…a smokescreen to avoid the real issues.”

        As I’ve said before, point that judgmental finger back at yourself. This WHOLE blog entry is a smokescreen to my platform and vision.

        The news story was fluff and meant for enjoyment rather than providing important information. I asked keila if the story would involve my platform and she said they were going to do that part later as a series involving all candidates.

        How about we all lighten up and enjoy our Friday

    • You might want to go and re-read my post. I made fun of the fact that there was a news story on a hairstyle…that a candidate would subject himself to an interview about his hairstyle.

      With regards to MBIA, I said, specifically in the post, that “Aside from the other obvious concerns that not-just-a-few have about Ryan Morton – namely, his current job as spokesperson for the Missoula Building Industry Association” – which was directly from…(tada) the ‘news’ article.

      Now – what do I think about his position as spokesperson for MBIA? Pretty much what JC said – only he said it a hell of a lot better than what I would have slopped out there.

  9. Ken Paves

    My number one concern is that he is sporting a faux hawk which is SOOOOO 2005.

  10. Ryan Morton, Candidate Ward 1 - MBIA

    http://www.boardsource.org/Knowledge.asp?ID=3.174

    Above is a link to 501(c)(6) non-profits. MBIA is registered as such. Hope that helps!

  11. Pogo Possum

    “Most people like their councilpersons to be representative of their wards. Not a lobbyist for the local chapter of a national, and highly politicized, special interest organization.”

    By the same logic, JC, Dennis McDonald, the Chair and spokesperson for the Montana Democratic Party, should withdraw from running against Rehberg for US Congress. We wouldn’t want someone like McDonald who lobbys for “a national, and highly politicized, special interest organization” representing the good citizens of Montana.

    Isn’t he also a member of the US Cattleman’s Association (founding member) and the Montana Cattleman’s Association (past Chair) that are special interest organizations that do extensive lobbying? Again, unqualified to serve?

    Come to think of it, that means anyone who is a lobbyist, spokesperson or representative for a union, teacher’s organization, Tribal Council, University, environmental organization, agricultural org, Nature Conservancy, women’s organization, conservation group, consumer group, etc should also be unfit to serve in elected office.

    If you haven’t noticed, they tend to do a lot of ‘lobbying’, are ‘politicized’ and represent ‘special interests.’

    That would certainly narrow down the candidate pool.

    • Ryan Morton, Candidate Ward 1 - MBIA

      Oh, snap!

      Thanks Pogo. They just don’t like me and would prefer to bad mouth me personally than engage in constructive dialogue. Nothing new there. Don’t worry though, I have pretty thick skin and am proud of what I’ve accomplished in my life.

      • JC

        You may take this personally, Ryan, but as I’ve stated before, I don’t know you from Adam, and you could be the world’s greatest person. You’re the one who refers to being “mouthy.” And, well, I don’t really like my elected public officials to be “mouthy” to their constituents. It’s not a trait that I, or many others embrace in candidates.

        • Ryan Morton, MBIA

          LOL! have you been to council meetings or read jaffe’s blog?

          And no. I don’t take anything you say personally, but I do note that your comments include personal attacks.

      • klemz

        Oh snap? If you’re going to make a serious run for any office I advice you to cease and desist the following practices:

        1. Emoticons (because they’re f$#king stupid)
        2. Hipsterisms (because slang lag in Montana averages 15.345 months over the years with data available, and certainly there are enough honkeys walking around using Missoula dated slang)
        3. The faux hawk (the license is about to expire. we’re contemplating a full recall to coincide with the release of OS.X Snow Leopard)

        Patrick M. Klemz
        Deputy Director
        Office of Honkey Affairs,
        American Urban League
        Portland, OR

    • Pogo Possum

      I am trying to find previous posts, JC, where you object to “highly politicized”, “special interest” “lobbying” organizations such as the teachers, nonprofit environmental groups, nonprofit women’s organizations, unions, etc, working to have “……one of their employees run for and sit on Council” or any other political office.

    • JC

      McDonald? If he were to remain a paid lobbyist and run for the House, he’d surely get castrated along the way by somebody. And I’d take the same attitude about him doing that as I would anybody else.

      Simple membership in any organization doesn’t imply conflict of interest. Employment in an organization doesn’t imply conflict of interest. But a lobbyist running for the job that he will continue to lobby represents a conflict of interest.

      McDonald would have to give up his lobbying efforts if he were to get elected. Similarly, Morton’s constituents would have a valid point that he cease lobbying the Council if elected. Which may mean he needs to get a new job title, because the one he currently has implies that he is the MBIA lobbyist.

      I’ve pointed out my issue, and I’ve yet to see a cogent response to it. But I’m not the one who really matters here. Many others will no doubt raise these same issues along the way.

      • Ryan Morton, MBIA

        Jason Weiner is the local chair of the democratic central committee who has a very clear political platform. He and Bill Carey are also representatives of CFAC (an organization who has lobbied to acquire farm land for member farmers through subdivision review). I respect both of them and often agree with their opinions and votes. The reality is, finding good public servants in Missoula requires some double duty. City Council is a part-time position and I’m poor. I need to continue working with MBIA or someone else.

        Again, there are other issues beyond land use policy that are important and DOES water down any conflict of interest. I, like Jason has done with CFAC, will disclose items that are MBIA related and allow the Council to make up its own mind.

        • JC

          Neither Bill nor Jason hold jobs where they personally lobby Council or Commission–in other words, lobby themselves. Nice try.

          I still hold that the constituents of Ward 1 will need to make the determination whether or not they want a Councilman by night who lobbies himself by day through his work with another politically motivated organization.

          • Ryan Morton, MBIA

            So, Jason doesn’t lobby for the democratic party platform? maybe, we aren’t speaking about lobbying in the same light.

          • Ryan Morton, MBIA

            How would I lobby myself? I already stated I would disclose MBIA backed policies and let the Council decide on its own.

          • Boy – if you could define the Democratic party platform as it relates to Missoula, I’d love to hear it.

            I think Jason would too.

            Didn’t you say, above, that you vote Democrat?

          • Ryan Morton, MBIA

            yeah I do vote dem. I’ll be lobbying for that too.

  12. klemz

    “don’t newspapers have to give equal time to candidates”

    Nope.

  13. Ryan Morton, MBIA

    All right. This has been a fun smear campaign. Have a great weekend everyone.

    Don’t forget to attend the Missoula County Democrat Candidate Forum Tuesday, July 14th at 7pm in City Council Chambers. It’ll provide an opportunity to meet the other candidates and me!

    Cheers.

    • goof houlihan

      I think you’ve gotten the point, now, Ryan, between Pogo and I you’ve got the answers the next time somebody “concerns” themselves with your employer. As for JC’s answer, if we eliminated everyone with an employer who has a concern about City Government, it would be slim pickins indeed.

      • JC

        Goof, it’s about a lobbyist running for the office that he spends a lot of time as a paid employee lobbying–and has yet to say he will quit lobbying the Council and the City if elected.

        Nothing more, nothing less. If Ryan wants to lay out his “platform and vision” then we can look at the meat of his campaign. But only Ryan can clear up his role as a lobbyist before many will take him seriously as a candidate.

        Ryan and others can make this all about a bunch of peripheral BS, but my whole point and concern revolves around lobbying.

        • goof houlihan

          Montana City councils don’t get “lobbied”, JC. Ryan’s hardly Jack Abramhoff wheelin and dealin the halls of Congress.

          Instead, he’s a spokesperson for an organization that represents a large and diverse number of Missoula businesses and their employees.

          A larger and more diverse representation of the city than you might find, even, in a single “ward”.

          • JC

            Then you haven’t paid much attention to Ryan’s participation in the local zoning rewrite. BIAs are structured as 501(c)(6)s so that they can conduct lobbying. And Ryan’s job description reads as that of a lobbyist, among other duties.

            From a MBIA note:

            The Missoula Building Industry Association has developed a Government Affairs Committee to ensure that laws and regulations are reasonable and beneficial to the building industry…

            At a glance, here’s what the MBIA does for you each day on the legislative front:

            – Continuously monitors city council and planning commission agendas in all area cities in order to respond proactively to issues concerning the building industry.

            – Reviews and submits comments on each city’s land use plan, subdivision and zoning ordinances and capital improvement plans.

            – Keeps positive lines of communications open by meeting with elected and appointed city officials.

            Lobbyist.

  14. Eboy

    I don’t see the problem. everyone on council want’s to build more houses in Missoula, don’t they?

    The liberals on council want the re-zone to be passed, they are in favor of increased density, and they are in favor of Gov’t over citizen rights in the taking of private land. (the river trail law suit e. missoula and the chickasaw sub. garden/ag plot).

    Both “liberal/progressive” ward 1 reps are pushing a law that will outlaw citizens sitting or lying on city sidewalks–they are behind the master plan (gentrification of downtown). On a city politic level liberal vs. conservative, or democrat vs. republican seems like–hog wash.

    Can we please have ward reps that listen and represent the views of the members of their wards?

  15. Ryan Morton

    To jhwygirl et al.:

    “Satisfaction linked with dishonor or with harm to others is a prison for the seeker.” ~Vahishto-Ishti Gatha; Yasna 53, 6.

    • Oh, for crying out loud, Ryan. Quit playing the victim. It’s really quite pathetic.

      This “stuff” you are all whining about all started in the pages of the Missoulian. These questions were all raised in the pages of the Missoulian’s blog Red Tape FIRST. YOU – a candidate for office – subjected yourself to an interview THAT YOU KNEW would be about your hair.

      My post above basically grabs all that previous stuff out there and wraps it into an open editorial. Nothing new – and I didn’t see you slamming Keila for reporting on that stuff. Hell – you willingly submitted to an interview about your hair.

      Did you think that being the MBIA lobbyist and running for office in the Rattlesnake’s district, yet alone Missoula wouldn’t raise red flags?

      And now you come and blame me?

      How frickin’ naive can you be? Seriously?

      Either that, or you are lovin’ this and are thinking along the line that ‘any news is at least news,’ when it comes to the mention of your name.

      I’m sure in another spectrum you are a very decent guy – but that remark above is pretty arrogant as you seem to think you know what my intentions were or are. You are wrong.

      I don’t even have to decide whether to vote for you or not. You aren’t in my district.

      I hope you do some reflection back, my brother, when you read this comment and realize that once you entered the political realm as a public (as in NOT PRIVATE) spokesperson and a candidate, you pretty much opened up the door for scrutiny.

  1. 1 Meet the boy for Ward One « Bunk in the West

    […] Director for MBIA (or is it Government Affairs Director, I’m not sure). JC comments over here, however, that it all adds up to being a lobbyist. He is paid to present the interests of MBIA to […]

  2. 2 Needin’ a Fresh Coat of Paint: Morton Quits MBIA « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] his professional lobbying business, or his campaign), had to throw a couple of bricks our way, as we challenged his dubious claim that working for MBIA and lobbying Council (which means he would have to lobby himself, which […]




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