Archive for October, 2015

by jhwygirl

Dan Brooks has an opinion piece in the Missoula Independent asking “Why is the city giving up public parking spaces to a private biz?”

Good question. And boy has this been a little pet-peeve of mine, given I live in dead-end, abandoned streets and alley neighborhood hell. Something, incidentally, many government agencies consider a sign of blight.

It doesn’t seem that this is the exact case here. Brooks indicates the bar making the application – the Thomas Meagher Bar next to City Council Chambers, btw – through the administrative process meant for signs and awnings. Wow – sure would be interested to see the County Attorney Jim Nugent or City Development Services opinion that stretched signs and awnings to patios with patrons and table service.

And to be clear here, Brooks goes on to explain the proposal includes constructing sidewalk area over public parking spaces not only adjacent to City Council Chambers and Missoula Redevelopment Agency, but also across the street from the administrative offices and meeting room for the Board of County Commissioners and County Surveyor’s Office.

Does it matter if it’s an encroachment permit with some twisted interpretation of something meant for signs and awnings? Or if it were a permanent abandonment of public right of way? One word – NO. And what in the world are they thinking up there in that bubble a few select call City Hall?

For me, this just another example of the City’s decade-long sustained and misguided attempts at economic development. Throw anything on the wall and give it some flashy words and a good well-liked consultant/contractor. The proposal touts the creation of a “vibrant downtown atmosphere” and compares the it to the outdoor plaza at the old Carnegie Library – Missoula’s Art Museum.

Brooks rightly calls BS on that.

Sounds like the project is being guided by a certain ABC engineering firm that gets an awful lot of the city and county public works projects….

There are twenty ways to wrong about this proposal, and Brooks covers just about all of them. This proposal doesn’t even take public opinion into account, even though public space is being relinquished.

Will we do this for every bar that asks? The Mo Club would be awesome, no? What about restaurants? Coffee shops? How about some slot machines? What about lap dancing shows? Will it be a race to the finish, with City Hall coming to the hard decision sometime in the future that they’ve given up too many spaces? Who will scream “Unfair!” first?

I do imagine city snow plow drivers just LOVE this proposal, too. Which does have one wonder how much real vibrancy downtown will get when this isn’t Miami, you know?

Or maybe there will be those lovely outdoor propane heaters blasting away for 8 months out of the year? So much for global warming concerns….

If the Thomas Meager Bar wants outdoor space, buy it. Just like the Iron Horse did. There’s plenty of space available downtown that could use some real economic development – and there’s even an architect or two that does some fabulous work with old buildings. Of course, the Thomas Meagher has put a ton of cash into the place in the last few years, and I’m sure that’s part of their pitch. Maybe they should have thought that out originally instead of trying to thrust their own expansion plans on to pubic space.

There’s an irony here for anyone that remembers the US Supreme Court Kelo case – as now we have a private party wanting to take public property for economic gain…and it’s all being justified in the name of economic development and a “vibrant” downtown.

Brooks is calling for a public hearing on the matter. I agree. Hopefully someone on City Council will realize the lunacy of the proposal and at least give the public an opportunity to a hearing.

Only in Missoula would we invent a new twist to eminent domain.

by jhwygirl

Shocking and disappointing news today that Montana Attorney General Tim Fox and freshman US Rep. and US Speaker of the House candidate Ryan Zinke oppose background checks on all guns sales.

The City of Missoula has proposed that all guns sales in Missoula city limits be required to pass the necessary background check.  No gun show loopholes.  No private sale loopholes.

The hearing is next Monday night.

AG Tim Fox has apparently weighed in with a one-sentence statement:

“Contrary to the opinion of the city attorney, whom I respect, I believe that Missoula’s proposed gun control ordinance is prohibited by state law and likely violates our constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”

 

 
Missoula resident and regional gun nut expert Gary Marbut has opposed the ordinance, of course – we’ll see if he shows up on Monday night. If he does, expect quite a show. If he doesn’t, shame on him. Really.

Maybe instead of interviewing Marbut to see what he thinks about it, maybe media types might go ask a family that was victim to gun violence? They do exist in Montana – not too hard to find, either. Or stand outside an elementary or high school here in town and ask a few parents what they think. I really get tired of seeing only Gary Marbut interviewed on each and gun matter or gun shooting in this state. There are other guns experts and enthusiasts that have opinions, too.

The proposal was introduced last month by council members Bryan von Lossberg, Marilyn Marler and Emily Bentley. It won the public hearing vote by 10 – 2.

I’ve been watching Emily Bentley – she’s in her second year on council for Ward 3 and has been out in front on affordable housing, economic development and now this issue of background checks for gun sales. I have to say, she’s shown her smarts at looking for solutions to some tough issues. She doesn’t shy away from making public statements or proposing regulation, or taking on the heavy lifting.

Maybe she should be our next Mayor.




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