Archive for December 30th, 2009

by Ana J. Beard

On Saturday Dec. 26, 2009 David James DelSignore hit four girls walking down Highway 200, killing two (Ashlee Patenaude, 14 years old, and Taylor Cearley, 15), and injuring the others.

This tragic accident was due to DelSignore’s poor decision to drive home drunk. Because of this, the two surviving girls, all of their families, as well as their friends, classmates and acquaintances, have to deal with the heartbreak of losing two girls who were far too young.

On Facebook a group was made in loving memory of Patenaude and Cearley, and within five days, over 5000 members have joined. People are paying their respects and posting their sympathies for the friends and families, but looking through the comment threads (as well as the comment threads on the Missoulian coverage) there are people writing about how DelSignore deserves the death penalty or to be thrown in the middle of the fairground rodeo area so friends of Patenaude and Cearley can “get drunk and have a demolition derby.”

In times of tragedy and loss, everyone is rushing around to place blame. DelSignore is fully responsible for his actions but an eye for an eye won’t make anything any better. Hating him won’t bring back these girls, or cure any heartaches. DelSignore will have to live with this mistake for the rest of his life, it will most likely haunt him and that is punishment enough (on top of jail time, of course).

As for blaming the parents or the girls themselves (which some people have had the nerve to do), the girls where NOT breaking Missoula curfew, which is 1 a.m. on a weekend night and this could have happened on any road, at any time of night. It’s not their fault they chose Highway 200 as opposed to the dark residential streets-the EXACT streets our parents have always told us to avoid at night, in caution of rapists, kidnappers, and, ironically enough, poor lighting and drivers who aren’t paying attention or are inebriated.

All of this should remind us to hold our loved ones close, live life to the fullest and please, please, please don’t drink and drive. Call a friend, or a taxi cab. Don’t get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Even if you think you’re okay to drive, you never know, that assumption could lead to one life-changing mistake.

A joint memorial service will be held for Patenaude and Cearley Thursday Dec. 31, 2009 at 1 p.m. in the gym at Bonner School. Also, Hellgate students plan to wear white in memory of Patenaude and Cearley on Monday, Jan. 4, 2010.

The community is also invited to Saturday’s Hellgate basketball game against Sentinel at Sentinel at 10 a.m. All four girls were on the team (consisting of nine players). Attendees will also be wearing white and there will be gold ribbons being sold for a dollar in their honor.
Donations on behalf of the deceased families are being accepted by Bonner School and can be sent to: Bonner School, P.O. Box 1004, Bonner, MT 59823. Also, the Missoula Federal Credit Union has set up a fund for the expenses the families of all four girls called “The Hellgate Girls Fund”.

by jhwygirl

…or was it more a chance to cater to the Faux News crowd?

Now cities and towns across the state are now wondering about some of their stimulus funds – stimulus funds granted via HB645…stimulus funds approved by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Brian Schweitzer himself….a governor who vetoed and partially vetoed a number of bills but didn’t see fit to do anything about those park and recreational facility funding when he signed HB645 into law…and finally – stimulus funds appropriated through HB645, a bill which Governor Schweitzer line-item vetoed for certain objects as having been unconstitutional.

Let’s also take the time to point out that under section 47 of HB645, MCA 90-5-101 was amended to include recreational facilities as projects eligible for stimulus funds. Family service projects were included too, as were electric energy generation facilities (Smurfit-Stone, anyone?), and “any facilities that are used or considered necessary to create or produce any intangible item, as defined in section 197(d)(1)(C)(iii) of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C. 197(d)(1)(C)(iii), including any patent, copyright, formula, process, design, pattern, knowledge, format, or other similar intangible item.”

That last one there is pretty broad, no?

Now let’s say here first – the Governor has been looking to cut and save money from the budget. That’s a good thing. He recently denied over a half-million bucks in funding to Swank Enterprises – a late insert into the state’s budget bill by Senator Barkus – the Barkus that sailed that boat up on the rocks on Flathead Lake, severely injuring himself and the rest of his drinking buddies, one of which was our own congressperson Representative Dennis Rehberg – based on political tomfoolery, if not the clever use of the word “may” instead of “shall.”

Stuff like that is great.

Now that we’ve gotten the pleasantries out of the way…

What towns are wondering about whether they’ll be next in the Governor’s scrutiny of legislatively-approved, signed-into-law-by-him stimulus money? Why, the Governor’s own current hometown of Helena should be one of them. They got a nice chunk of cash – nearly $500,000 – that will, in part, build an entirely new park. It’ll also get them a hand-painted mural and the installation of sound reflective tile. Drummond? Dutton? Fairview? The list goes on: Livingston, Ryegate Superior? All improvements to the local park infrastructure. Terry? Twin Bridges? Bainville?

Will these towns be losing their pathways? The park benches and shelters? What about those bathroom upgrades? Sprinkler systems?

How about that county ground fairground grandstand replacement in Prairie?

What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander. Why should Prairie get a new grandstand and Bozeman be begrudged the repair of its tennis courts?

Because if Schweitzer’s gonna ignore Section 57 of HB645, what’s next? There’s a whole bunch of stuff in there that was approved by both houses of the legislature. And signed into law by you.

Is it all up for game? Where does that line stop? Or is there a line at all?

In other words: This is not a monarchy, Brian. As Bozeman City Commissioner (and soon-to-be-Mayor) Jeff Krauss points out, “It’s not frivolous. When we introduced this in the fall, a bunch of citizens came in to say how much they supported repairing our recreational facilities. It’s all about getting these kids and prying them away from the video game controls. We’re having a big crisis over health care in this country. Every time you can get a kid away from the electronic entertainment and outside recreating, that’s a good thing.”

As for Faux News? Maybe they should look at what other states are spending their stimulus money on. I highly doubt Montana is unique…and not only that – maybe they should look at our laws and see who, ultimately, got the final say on what the stimulus funds would be used.

When it comes down to it, parks are infrastructure to any community. Infrastructure just like roads and street signs and police stations.

Infrastructure requires upkeep due not only to wear-and-tear, but population growth . Ignore that upkeep and it costs more in the long run because….infrastructure doesn’t really go away.

These cities and towns could say that they are using their stimulus funds for road repair and instead redirect the money that their own budget would have paid for in road repair and place it in the local ball fields that have been neglected for the last decade…..OR they could be more honest, keep their baseline budget intact for streets and roads and the bare minimum basics that they themselves have been scraping by on for the last 2 years while businesses are closing and houses are being foreclosed upon and building permits are down, and ask for stimulus funds to employ local people to keep the local infrastructure maintained.

Frankly, I’m a fan of the latter,but I’m not so sure about other state democrats – certain state democrats, trying to negotiate our own budget bill this last session (for example, folks) agreed to defund the Department of Public Health and Human Services and use supplemental stimulus funding to supplement DPHHS for the next two years. This was, at the time, called a “negotiating tactic,” meant to conceded ‘temporarily’ some funding of DPHHS (because you know how that GOP loves social services) in order to get that budget passed.

Well – tell me what is going to happen next legislative session? DPHHS and other socially conscience elected officials are going to be scrapping and scraping to bring DPHHS up to 2009 levels, yet along make adjustments that are normal for increases in population or service needs.

This isn’t about tennis courts. It’s about local governments being able to govern their local governments. It’s about laws and legislative powers of appropriation. It’s about separate branches of government. It’s about democracy, not a monarchy.

Give Bozeman its tennis courts. Give all the other towns their money. And bring us some sustainable, high-paying, low-impact technology and health industry jobs.

by jhwygirl

Let’s see the legislature avoid stricter DUI laws now. Is this state still going to facilitate the Montana drinking culture, or have we had enough yet?

I was looking on the jail roster for Missoula’s detention center. I quit counting at fourteen the number of offenders incarcerated on their fourth DUI.

Fourth? Don’t public defenders have enough to do? Good Lord – its as if my tax dollars are being spent to condone this culture of alcohol.

Those fourth time offenders were driving the streets of Missoula, folks. The streets of Montana. Just think of what the cops don’t get at.

Make no mistake – this is no “faux moral outrage,” as was the accusation during the Barkus Rehberg Flathead Lake Drunken Boating Accident this past summer. When we look at the issue as “something for the courts,” or “not a big deal,” instead of something that destroys innocent lives, we are part of the enabling of the next death or accident.

We’re not done with the year yet, either…please, people – take advantage of cabs and friends and all kinds of free rides offered out there right now.

So many lives shattered. Horrible and tragic. Sad and unnecessary.

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