Archive for December 21st, 2009

by jhwygirl

Governor Schweitzer will be in town tomorrow, 11 a.m to 1 p.m. at the University Theater to discuss the impact of the Smurfit-Stone plant closure.

They like to get a count before hand, so try and RSVP to Debbie Evans at

This was announced pretty late, I have to say – a 6 p.m. announcement on Bob Jaffe’s liserve, which was a few hours after Mayor Engen organized a conference call – which included White House representatives and our Senator’s aides – to discuss where to go next for the displaced workers, and where to go next for Missoula.

I mean – when other elected officials are saying stuff like this: “I don’t think any of us really has any particulars on how it’s going to play out, but I’d be darned surprised if it didn’t have a pretty major impact on this county,” on the morning of the closure, it sure makes me glad we got people like Engen thinking that we better do something sooner than later. Pick up the phone. Make some calls. Get leaders involved. Like now. ASAP.

Going Christmas Shopping?

by jhwygirl

Maybe you have room in your wallet to grab an extra item or two?

Reporter Keila Szpaller points out in this comment that the Missoulian has a column dedicated to helping bring Christmas and the holidays to locals who might not be able to do so for themselves or their own loved ones.

Most of it is pretty small stuff, and includes things like a sleeping bag or kids clothing or shoes.

How easy is that?

by jhwygirl

The Otter Creek leases were approved today on a 4-1 vote, with Denise Juneau, State Superintendent of Public Instruction the lone dissent vote.

Denise Juneau is a visionary for the land and trust stewardship in Montana. Many people have nothing but thanks for her today after her dissent.

Big Sky High School students, too, were there to provide testimony, and they were fabulous. I’m glad that Missoulians were so well represented.

The Button Valley Bugle tries to put some lipstick on it, explaining that there will be other opportunity to comment on other phases. Me? I’m not up to it.

The Editor also points to the “bonus” payment, an amendment offered by Secretary of State Linda McCulloch – and increase of .15/ton over the minimum bid of .10/ton. This “bonus” payment is to go directly to the schools, over and above the funding for K-12 that is set by the legislature.

As BVB points out, whether the legislature is going to be OK with that is another thing…..

It all sounds good upfront, huh? A bonus payment to the schools of what I think Bullock referred to as $35,000,000 (and feel free to correct). It’ll be interesting to see how that all works out since in practical terms, the legislature is just going to fund the schools the barest of minimums, knowing that that extra cash is coming in to actually fund the schools in a meaningful way. Beyond that, a “bonus fund” seems ripe for corruption – kinda like how the federal government was found out in their own oil and minerals revenues department.

Make no mistake – that “bonus” payment is intended to buy the silence of the citizens – “it’s for the schools,” and “it’s for the children,” how can anyone object? What’s a little arsenic in the water? What’s a billion tons of CO2?

Is this a precedent? Will we see this with every project that brings out packed hearings and reams of paper in objection to the project? Screw degradation, well call the “bonus” payment mitigation.


Today the minimum bid was set for the coal lease. That minimum bid is 10 cents, with an over-and-above bonus payment of 15 cents per ton. The bid period is 45 days.

Much of the criticism was concerning the value of the coal. Theoretically, you’d think that the minimum price set for that coal was the going market rate, right? I mean, the state wouldn’t sell its stuff under market, right? So it’ll be interesting to see how quick Arch Coal grabs at a minimum bid that is now essentially 250% of what is presumably the market price.

In other words, if they jump at that price, one has to wonder whether the state was indeed – as some had suggested – subsidizing the industry.

45 days or so will tell.

Not only that – but the legislature can argue that the minimum bid was guaranteed by the “bonus” payment, robbing the legislature of the full amount of funds that should be available for legislative funding since anyone bidding on the coal was unable to avoid the “bonus” payment.

Time may tell a lot of things, I guess.

by jhwygirl

First day of winter, it is – and longest day of the year. With winter formally upon us, and the holidays bearing down, its easy to forget that while this time of the year puts us indoors more than usual, there are people out there who eat and sleep and live outside, lacking a roof over their head, yet alone a soft bed to sleep in.

The National Coalition for the Homeless has organized National Homeless Person’s Memorial Day as a way to remind America that there are people that not only live but that die on our streets.

How many homeless die on the streets and roads of Missoula? How many this year? I admittedly don’t know. Because I don’t know doesn’t make those men and women not exist. They rarely get a mention in the news or elsewhere. It’s why homelessness is so difficult – it often lacks a face, a name. Two were mentioned in the paper this year – but without a name, there’s not much but a few sentences. Beyond that, the homeless were of little consequence in our day-to-day news, our day-to-day lives.

The homeless are to American what the untouchables are to India. Make no mistake – there’s little difference.

America the beautiful. America the great.

You can help out Missoula’s homeless assistance and crisis center, The Poverello Center by donating here.

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