Archive for the ‘2008 Local Election’ Category

by jhwygirl

I know I’ve come across his name recently and I know he’s been back in the state for some time now – but when I read this comment from Left in the West’s Matt Singer, I got pretty pissed.

In a just world, election fraud of the sort perpetrated by Eaton wouldn’t result in termination. It would result in prison time.

This, by the way, is why I didn’t vote for Fred Van Valkenburg for prosecutor (without an alternate option, I left the race blank). When he decides to do his job, he’ll get my vote again.

Amen to that…

The Indy’s Alex Sakariassen got on the story first thing today…but I like Jay’s biased assessment just fine.

See – Jake Eaton committed fraud 2 years ago. Damned near exactly two years ago, actually. He fraudulently signed off on a document, swearing by affidavit that I had changed my address when I hadn’t. He had no information to support that, either.

I’m but one – but one should be enough to go looking at the rest of the 6,000 or so voter challenges he swore out by affidavit to counties around the state.

My opinion about this has not changed. Jake Eaton committed fraud. He disrupted an election. He cost taxpayers around the state quite a bit of money.

Far as I know, there’s no statute of limitations. Frankly, it should be an insult for any election officer in this state – and for any county attorney of any county that got these fraudulent voter challenges – to know that Jake Eaton is not only back in this state, but reinstated firmly with a working on Montana GOP election activity.

by jhwygirl

And so it appears that is exactly what the lawsuiters are thinking with this past Monday’s op-ed in the Missoulian, what with the first paragraph:

A June 18 guest column contains inadequacies we would like to address. None of the signors of the June 16 guest column ever said to scrap Title 20. In fact, at the June 17 Planning and Zoning Committee meeting, we publicly stated that fact. We all agree that Missoula needs an updated, more coherent document. Some of us who were on council and some of those who are no longer voted for a rewrite of the municipal code, not a rezoning of the entire city. Big difference.

Sounds a bit overly defensive to me….

It continues: “No one is arguing that Office of Planning and Grants staff held many meetings and tried to reach out to the citizens,” and “It is not our claim that the efforts to update the ordinance is illegal,” and “The fact that the city attorney wrote six legal opinions still does not get us there.”

They attempt to justify the lawsuit that they’ve filed:

Some council members asked for a second opinion to get clarification as to whether Title 20 was a rezoning of the city. We were refused and stonewalled. At the March 3 Planning Board meeting, some members also called for a second opinion so all their hard work would not end in a lawsuit. The Planning Board did approve its version of the rezone unanimously, with three members absent.

Seriously? Not only do they have Nugent’s 6 opinions, they’ve got the opinion of attorney Alan McCormick (who hasn’t exactly been friendly to some of city council’s decisions) and even the Missoula Building Industry Association’s attorney kicked in with some sort of an opinion, too, that the rewrite wasn’t a rezoning.

Methinks that cracks are appearing in some of the curmudgeon’s re-elections…which is why the “clarifying” op-ed appeared on Monday.

Hear the laughs? I do.

The Republican’s have Teabaggers, Missoulians have Lawsuiters.

Ward 6 councilor Ed Childers summed it up pretty well at this past Monday’s weekly public hearing (and I’m working off of memory here) – that the ones that have filed the lawsuit and the ones that have been critical of it simply don’t understand zoning – and that the very potentially unfortunate thing of it is that it may result in a scraping of Title 20 because the level of remediation it seeks. That contact to each and every landowner in the city informing them, specifically, of how the re-write will affect them, specifically – is an impracticable and extremely costly mitigation.

And somewhere in there Childers mentioned the consultant’s cost of (what I think was) $250,000.

(Title 19 is our current code, Title 20 being the re-write.)

Pretty spot on – I’ve watched Renee Mitchell, week after week after week after month calling for people to come to the meetings; saying it was an upzoning (accessory dwelling units, which currently exist all over – including the university district); and saying that it increased heights of buildings (patently false).

Mitchell has all the trepidation of a 98-year old woman navigating an unpaved parking lot with a walker. She’d rather not go there, and so she is attempting to find any way possible to do exactly that.

The source of her pleas and Wilkins’ and Hendrickson’s and Haines’ and Hellegaard’s – let’s be real here – is based on what they have all clearly been seeing: That the public was in support of the zoning rewrite. Renee (and others) don’t like that – and so, for them, it was easier to ignore that reality and instead act as if this whole rewrite process was going on in some sort of vacuum.

– and you know how ignorant Missoulians are to what is going on in zoning, right? /snark

Have any of these malcontents (Ward 2’s John Hendrickson, Ward 5’s Renee Mitchell and Dick Haines, and Ward 4’s Lyn Hellegaard and Jon Wilkins) bothered to check out that big ole’ 5 inch think zoning book that OPG’s planner Jen Gress carries with her to each Planning and Annexation Committee hearing each week? It’s right there across the table from them. Every week. That is the current zoning book that OPG has to work with – filled with interpretations, it is result of an outdated and poorly written Title 19. That 5 inch thick book represents the murkiness that is Missoula’s current zoning code. That 5 inch thick book represents uncertainty for neighborhoods and builders and businesses.

It’s unreal that these city councilors have taken us in this direction.

And let’s be clear, here – Hendrickson didn’t sign on to this thing because he’s running for re-election. Hendrickson had tried for months trying to round up support in his neighborhood against the zoning rewrite – he tried to get people to sign that anonymous petition – and he got no where.

It was politically expedient for Hendrickson to attempt to remove himself from the lawsuit, but people aren’t buying it. Which is clear by his signature this week on the first post-lawsuit-filing op-ed.

Haines, who’s also running for re-election, at least had the guts to stick to his convictions, miscalculated as they are.

Wilkins, I suspect, isn’t a lawsuit type of guy – but he has signed on to the recent editorial, along with the previous one to which they were seeking to clarify.

Wait – did these guys and gals just want to clarify that which they previously wrote? Rewrite their past inadequate column?


Hypocrites that are going to stagnate this city, perpetuating uncertainty for neighborhoods and business.

Hypocrites that are going to cost Missoulians over a year of lost OPG staff time, significant community investment in time and involvement – and a cool $250,000 in the process.

Not to mention the staff and attorney time it’s going to take to defend this thing. Hell, I bet the city’s insurance that kicks in to help defend these kinds of things is going to end up costing us more, too.

Pro-business fiscal conservatives my ass.

by jhwygirl

For Monday – Wednesday, check out Part I.

This post includes Thursday and Friday’s schedule.

I’d like to note, those who are reading this, that if you are going to submit public comment using the staffers email address I’m providing, please be clear in noting that you are submitting public comment, and request that it be provided to all committee members.

The House has several committee hearings that are of interest on Thursday:

Representative Deborah Kottel, of Great Falls, has two bills in the House Judiciary Committee that would be of interest to many here in Missoula. HB188 and HB189 both provide for better protections in interactions between tenants and landlords. HB188 increases the maximum penalty for disputes regarding unlawful witholding of security deposits. HB189 requires the landlord to provide a written copy of the rental agreement upon request and – I know this is an issue here in Missoula – obligates the landlord to ensure that the rental unit has the ability to be heated to a minimum of 70 degrees. David Niss is the staffer for the House Judiciary Committee – and his email is

Another one geared towards consumer protection is Representative Shannon Augare’s HB159, which requires insurers of property and casualty property to submit actuarial opinion summaries (which would be available for consumer review), along with supporting documentation. Insurers insure based not only on risk assessment, but investments. Actuarial information is the information showing their financial health – or ability to financially handle the risk they’ve taken. This is in House Business & Labor, Bart Campbell the staffer:

HB202, proposed by Representative Mike Miller of Helmville, would give a tax credit for premiums paid for long-term care insurance. That’s in the Taxation Committee – Jeff Martin, staffer,

On Friday, Missoula’s Representative Robin Hamilton has HB195 up for hearing in the House Business & Labor Committee. It allows for unsuccessful lottery applicants to be given preference in future lotteries. This one is in Business & Labor, too – Bart Campbell the staffer:

Representative Julie French is looking for support of HB29, which would increase funding for senior and disabled transportation. We like Julie – she’s a get-‘er-done woman, especially when it comes to healthcare and veteran’s issues. This one is in Human Services, where Sue O’Connell is the staffer:

In the Senate, on Friday, we’ve got Senator David Wanzenried requesting a study of the state’s student loan system with SJ9. Wanzenried has sponsored this bill out of concerns with availability of guaranteed student loan funds for Montana’s students due to failures in the U.S. financial systems. If approved, the bill would result in a report being presented to the next legislature. This one is in the Education and Cultural Resources committee – Casey Barrs the staffer,

Again – if there’s something that interests you or one that you feel deserves notice or discussion, feel free to bring it to our attention.

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 Rebecca Schmitz

My mom, who lives in Stevensville, called me bright and early (a little too bright and early–I was celebrating downtown until the wee small hours) this morning. She was horrified by the election results in Ravalli County: Bitterrooters voted overwhelmingly for Elaine Sollie Herman, and against the school levy in Hamilton and Legislative Referendum 118, the 6 mill levy. What the hell? Doesn’t anyone value education up there?

Boy, sometimes the Bitterroot makes Gallatin County look almost sane.

by Rebecca Schmitz

Good news for those of you who are asking the question “Who is Barack Obama?” PBS’ Frontline is airing The Choice 2008 on Tuesday night. It’s an in depth look at the candidates. If after the broadcast, and after four years of being in the national spotlight, two years on the campaign trail, thousands of interviews and speeches, two autobiographies, numerous books both pro and con, and hundreds of websites devoted to the man, you insist you still don’t know the guy, I’m guessing there’s no answer that will satisfy someone with such a startlingly distinct lack of intellectual acumen. Or maybe, just maybe, your question is insincere. Regardless, by all means keep on parroting the subtle race-baiting used by a politician our nation was introduced to just six weeks ago; a person who really refuses to face media scrutiny.

Did you know Johnny Ramone was a Republican? No, really, he was. This profile in today’s Missoulian reminded me of that fun little fact.

Steven Dogiakos hopes his ideas speak louder than his looks. This coming from a 23-year-old with a spiky, multi-tone Mohawk inspired by punk bands such as The Ramones and Stiff Little Fingers.

Look, legendary punk guitarists aside, if you’ve come away from the punk movement with a healthy respect for authority, a desire to stand up for the status quo, support for preemptive military strikes and expansion of government power, a membership in the political party of corporate America and the religious right, and you take the side of the powerful against the powerless, well, I hate to be the first to break it to ya, kid: you missed the point entirely.

Or maybe this is the ultimate use of irony. I don’t know. If so, keep on keepin’ on, Steve, you mavericky maverick you.

by jhwygirl

Boy, what was I, one for three on yesterday’s posts? Sometimes you just gotta walk away from the keyboard…..

Councilman Ed Childers – an all to infrequent poster both here and at his own weblog – sent me some clarifications on my post from yesterday, Thoughts on That Seemingly Defunct Gas Tax.

Apparently the city’s police station won’t be on the levy and bond list for the next election, and the city isn’t complaining about maintaining the county roads, because, well, they don’t maintain the county roads (a fact I knew, btw…)

We differ in our view on the PAC issues – the story I link to shows that MRA is writing up a urban renewal district to meet the needs of a potential developer of the PAC and the mayor does seem to continue to be awfully cushy-cushy with the whole deal…but Councilman Childers is entitled to his opinion. Maybe it isn’t city council, but it is city entities seeming to push the big elephant forward. That and some well-connected citizens, I guess.

Boy, I really don’t like that PAC, do I?

Ed’s pretty fancy with his MSWord skills too – check it out: Ed Childers’ Clarifications…

One more clarification, too, was needed: Apparently you do need a permit from Planning & Grants for a money tree. Hopefully it isn’t more than $50.

by Rebecca Schmitz

Even the best campaign advertising doesn’t get much better than this:

“I wondered what kind of help they would need, and when I got over to the campsite I couldn’t believe it,” [Betsy] Hands said. “The fire had traveled along this root system and there was this large black area that was generating a lot of heat.” [snip] Together the two hiking groups scrambled to douse the blaze, which was about 300 feet from the lake. Using their waterproof stuff sacks and an abandoned rubber raft to carry water, it took the hikers about 90 minutes to put out the fire.

Yes, that’s HD 99’s Representative, Democrat Betsy Hands. When not using discarded outdoor recreation equipment to fight fires set by slob campers, Rep. Hands is one of our best advocates for energy independence and conservation. She’s up for re-election this year. Her opponent, Jedediah Cox, is one of the three College Republicans who want to represent Missoula in the Legislature.

Unless Jedediah plans on fighting wildfire this summer with a cracked Nalgene bottle and a fishing creel, he can’t top this kind of exposure.

by jhwygirl

May 25, 1961:

I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshalled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment.

Recognizing the head start obtained by the Soviets with their large rocket engines, which gives them many months of leadtime, and recognizing the likelihood that they will exploit this lead for some time to come in still more impressive successes, we nevertheless are required to make new efforts on our own. For while we cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first, we can guarantee that any failure to make this effort will make us last. We take an additional risk by making it in full view of the world, but as shown by the feat of astronaut Shepard, this very risk enhances our stature when we are successful. But this is not merely a race. Space is open to us now; and our eagerness to share its meaning is not governed by the efforts of others. We go into space because whatever mankind must undertake, free men must fully share.

I therefore ask the Congress, above and beyond the increases I have earlier requested for space activities, to provide the funds which are needed to meet the following national goals:
First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish. We propose to accelerate the development of the appropriate lunar space craft. We propose to develop alternate liquid and solid fuel boosters, much larger than any now being developed, until certain which is superior. We propose additional funds for other engine development and for unmanned explorations–explorations which are particularly important for one purpose which this nation will never overlook: the survival of the man who first makes this daring flight. But in a very real sense, it will not be one man going to the moon–if we make this judgment affirmatively, it will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.

JFK gave this speech (above is only a minuscule portion) to a joint Congress in what could effectively be described as his State of the Union assessment, having sized up American from inside the pearly white walls of the White House for four months. The Cold War was in its full glory; the economy, while strong, was showing sign of weakening; and social unrest driven by the civil rights movement was driving to its apex.

Kennedy felt that America’s security was threatened by the Russian space program – Sputnik, first, and then their success in launching a man into space. Kennedy decided that putting all of the United State’s resources behind beating the Russians in their space race, by landing a man on the moon – a tremendous challenge, considering how far behind we were – was best for the nation. The proposal was thought by many to be sheer lunacy.

Just 16 months later, on September 12, 1962, Kennedy gave a second speech on the race to the moon at Rice University, defending both the dedication of government resources and the enormous expense.:

And finally, the space effort itself, while still in its infancy, has already created a great number of new companies, and tens of thousands of new jobs. Space and related industries are generating new demands in investment and skilled personnel, and this city and this State, and this region, will share greatly in this growth. What was once the furthest outpost on the old frontier of the West will be the furthest outpost on the new frontier of science and space. Houston, your City of Houston, with its Manned Spacecraft Center, will become the heart of a large scientific and engineering community. During the next 5 years the National Aeronautics and Space Administration expects to double the number of scientists and engineers in this area, to increase its outlays for salaries and expenses to $60 million a year; to invest some $200 million in plant and laboratory facilities; and to direct or contract for new space efforts over $1 billion from this Center in this City.

To be sure, all this costs us all a good deal of money. This year’s space budget is three times what it was in January 1961, and it is greater than the space budget of the previous eight years combined. That budget now stands at $5,400 million a year–a staggering sum, though somewhat less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars every year. Space expenditures will soon rise some more, from 40 cents per person per week to more than 50 cents a week for every man, woman and child in the United Stated, for we have given this program a high national priority–even though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what benefits await us. But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun–almost as hot as it is here today–and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out–then we must be bold.

So here America sits, in 2008: in the throes of an illegal – what McCain has said will be 100 years – war in Iraq; the country divided maybe not by race, but by political and religious extremism; and our addiction to oil essentially, in a very backhanded way, funding the very terrorists that attacked our nation on September 11th.

Can we eliminate our need for crude? I don’t think so – at least my unscientific mind can’t imagine, realistically, a Jetson family-style world – but do I think that America can create a world where the bulk of our elementary carbon-fuel based needs (such as electricity and heat and small vehicle transport) can be met with alternative and more efficient means.

If a president can state an impossible goal, from a point so far behind the curve that many can call him crazy, we can harness the power of the wind and the sun to power our homes. If we can put a man on the moon and bring him back to earth in just over 8 years, we can build household transportation that efficiently uses a combination of fuels and newer technology. We can make oil a minor source of our energy need.

This is America. Where is the “can do” mentality from our government – from its citizens? The “can do” mentality that makes or breaks the corporate world and its inhabitants?

Go ahead and laugh. It’s that mentality that holds us back and keeps us beholden to Middle East interests.

America must begin to dream. Today. Tomorrow. Now.

Time’s a-wastin’.

by Pete Talbot

Odds-on favorite Dennis Daneke lost to political neophyte Michele Landquist in the race for Missoula County Commissioner. Albeit by only 42 votes, but that’s all it takes.

Daneke ran a strong campaign with direct mail, voter ID, fund raisers, phone banks, etc. I didn’t see much out of the Landquist camp.

So, armchair analysis abounds. Some say it was Landquist’s staunch opposition to the proposed gravel pit just north of Lolo. Daneke was lukewarm in his opposition and that cost him votes in that area of the county.

Others say it was all the newly registered voters who came out to vote for Obama but had no idea who the players were in the commissioner race, and casting a vote for Michele Landquist because the name had a nice ring to it.

A few folks said that having Mayor John Engen as treasurer and advisor to the Daneke campaign could have cost some votes. While Engen is popular in many Missoula circles, outside the city limits the last thing the majority of voters want is the progressive (I use that word loosely) politics that they seem to think rule the city of Missoula.

I’m guessing it was a combination of all three of the above scenarios.

Finally, there was a conversation overheard by two Republican voters on election night at an unnamed watering hole. They were saying that they crossed over to the Democratic ballot to vote against Daneke because they felt he would be the strongest candidate to go against incumbent Republican candidate Larry Anderson in the general election.

This last reason (cross over voting) is a little hard to prove. One could go to a strong Republican precinct and see if there were an abnormally high number of Democratic ballots cast but since Republicans stayed away from the polls in droves this primary, it’s hard to tell.

I also have to wonder if Larry Anderson supporters were really that well organized to swing an election. And if so, why not cross over for the other Democratic primary candidate, Jeff Patterson? That way, they’d have a win-win situation going into the November election.

Patterson, the third candidate for the commission in the primary, came in, well, third. Thank God. After reading his guest column in the Missoulian about his distaste for “Smart Growth,” I am eternally grateful.

In Patterson’s column, he quotes often from the Montana Policy Institute – a Libertarian “think tank” out of Bozeman. Funding for the institute comes from big bucks ‘free marketeers,” the far, far right and their ilk.

Now it’s time to learn about Michele Landquist, her isssues and campaign. You’ll definitely be reading more about her here at 4&20.

by jhwygirl

The Missoulian has a common-sense editorial in Sunday’s paper, chastising Bonner Milltown Community Council (BMCC) for turning down a $75,000 grant for smart growth the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Earlier this month, the BMCC withdrew its support of application for the grant – while refusing to take public comment from the 40+ people present, including Director of Missoula Office of Planning & Grants’ Roger Millar. One member, Gary Matson, resigned.

Withdrawal was based on a BMCC subcommittee’s recommendation.

Jeff Patterson, candidate for Missoula County Board of County Commission and member of the BMCC submcommittee, described Roger Millar and the group of 40+ people that attended the meeting as “mob of people” solicited by Matson “who have not been educated on what it is we are pursuing.”

Yeah, if Planning Director Roger Millar hasn’t been edumicated yet, he sure has been now, right Jeff Patterson?

Jeff Patterson, you might recall, was on the short list of Republicans to replace Barbara Evans and has filed for the current county commission race as a Democrat. He’s also an often hypercritical participant in the Milltown Redevelopment Working Group.

Fellow Republican and candidate for HD-97 Carol Minjares jumped on that local republican anti-smart growth bandwagon immediately – calling Millar “disingenuous” and defining city planners as anti-property rights:

It is the passion of the city planners, the ones who restrict future property rights based on flawed models and faulty data.

uh-huh. Nice. Let’s just keep it growth as usual and see where that gets us in traffic and air quality and taxes for basic services. And if there are any perspective pig farmers out there, I highly recommend you propose moving your facilities next to her property and see where she lands on property rights then. If she’s really a hypocrite, she hates planners but lives in a zoned part of the county..

One wonders what point she was trying to make with this post, titled Downtown Planning: Geniuses at Work – because she quickly digresses into criticizing real estate investment downtown – investment is a bad thing? – and bemoaning the number of poorly run condo projects downtown – and poorly run condo associations are the blame of planners?


Gotta love those Missoula Republicans – at least they’re consistent.

by jhwygirl

It could be if you live in an unzoned area of Missoula County – as Greenough and Lolo residents know. It’s also a potential if you live anywhere else in Montana that is unzoned – which is, ah, like most of the state.

Look – this stuff isn’t hysterics here, folks – even though I’ve blogged about this One, Two, Three, Four times here – and even once at Left in the West. It’s reality. The potential of multiple gravel pits surrounding your house, in fact, is a very real possibility.

Just ask Kathy Brekke, of Gallatin County, about the possibility of gravel pits surrounding your home.

And playing the Missoula County Poor Poor Pitiful Me thing after the fact – much like our local officials are doing right now over the whole Plum Creek/USFS fiasco (all an excuse to not zone, if you ask me) isn’t going to work.

Especially here in Missoula, where our county commissioners, supported by County Attorney Mike Sehested, have stood by and done nothing when other counties – Gallatin and Lewis & Clark come to mine – have at least attempted to stop the gravel pit lunacy.

Someone please explain to me how our county attorneys (here and here) can have such a starkly different opinion as to whether citizen-initiated emergency zoning is so impossible due to state regulation of gravel pits when other county attorneys quite apparently think differently?

Once a gravel pit is proposed, it’s already too late. Same with those subdivisions and their exempted 35 gpm wells and their 100-foot well isolations zones that can be on your property and their septic tank seepage zones that can be on your property. State blames county, county blames state – guess who’s left holding the bucket?

Put your boots on folks, ’cause that bucket’s getting mighty full.

With regards to gravel pits, it is already too late thanks to recent court rulings that have directed MT DEQ to issue gravel permits after 30 days irregardless of MEPA review – that is, in the absence of MEPA review.

How our state courts can do this – with utter disregard for our Montana Constitution, Article IX, which requires that “The state and each person shall maintain and improve a clean and healthful environment in Montana for present and future generations,” is mystifying.

Frankly, it illustrates quite well the ineptitude of our legislature, at times – because approving a law that requires permits to be issued in 30 days, without addressing potential (potential? who’d of seen that one here, huh?) constitutional conflicts seems pretty inept. And cutting back or not increasing the amount of staff to meet those constitutional obligations also shows ineptitude.

I mean, how do they do this stuff? “Yep, 30 days, sounds good to me – I know I wouldn’t want to have to wait for a permit for a 20 year operation of a gravel pit for more than 30 days – sure, I’ll vote for that,” – is that how they do it? Do these guys even realize the work load of the current staff and that public scoping is, at minimum, typically 2 weeks?

It’s also showing ineptitude on DEQ’s part too – Has DEQ asked for any funding or personnel on their latest wish lists? Nope. That bureaucratic ineptitude, folks, in the face of Judge Sherlock’s recent ruling where he did not fault the DEQ for the agency’s inability to complete the environmental analysis, writing that the department has “insufficient personnel and resources” to do so.

Look Missoula – you have three great-at-playing-the-victim commissioners – Larry Anderson, Bill Carey and Jean Curtiss all standing by and doing nothing. You have a Governor who is also taking a laissez-faire attitude, and a Department of Environmental Quality that is taking a (dare I say) criminally negligent approach to environmental review.

George Ochenski of the The Missoula Independent, writes of the situation – and closes by calling on the Good Governor with this statement:

This is no way to run a state—especially Montana. The “new day” we were promised by Gov. Schweitzer appears to be dawning in the din and dust of unregulated mines. Schweitzer could call a special legislative session to change the law immediately. The question is: Will he?

So here’s my closing statement: Governor Schweitzer – our rights to a clean environment are being ignored by your administration and by our state courts. Open pit mining should not go unregulated or unscrutinized, nor should it be rubber-stamped. The DEQ is showing some serious signs of not only ineptitude, but lack of funding and staffing. DO SOMETHING.

And to my Missoula County Commissioners – QUIT PLAYING THE VICTIM, even though you do it so well, AND DO SOMETHING TOO.

by Pete Talbot

One of the candidates in the Democratic primary for Missoula County Commissioner is having a few public relations problems.

The first strike against Jeff Patterson is his party affiliation — whatever it is. He was one of the Republicans nominated to fill Barbara Evans’ seat when she resigned after serving something like 100 years (he didn’t get the job, Larry Anderson did). Patterson then filed for the commission race as a Democrat. Here’s what he said at the Candidates Gone Wild event hosted by Forward Montana:

“Missoula County is primarily Democratic. The majority of the people I’d represent are Democrats, so it’d be the appropriate party to run for.”

Interesting strategy. Run in the party that has the most voters.

His second strike occurred a few days ago. Patterson was against going after funds for “smart growth” planning in the Bonner and Milltown area. He also said it wasn’t appropriate for the public to comment at a recent Bonner Milltown Community Council meeting.

Again, interesting. We have a county commissioner candidate who doesn’t like public input. Also, in the words of Missoula’s OPG director, Roger Millar, “I mean, who’s in favor of dumb growth?” The Missoulian has the blow-by-blow.

The third strike came yesterday when Patterson’s campaign filed a complaint with the Commissioner of Political Practices against Missoula Mayor John Engen. Now Engen, who could be mayor for life if he wanted to be, is also the treasurer for one of Patterson’s primary foes, Dennis Daneke.

The story unfolds thusly: Patterson’s son is a contractor working on a sewer project downtown and festooned the site with political signs for his old man. Now that’s not a big deal but it is against the law. I should know, I got a call from the city when I put some signs up in a city-owned boulevard. It was my first campaign and I didn’t know any better. The city told me, nicely, to take them down. I didn’t file a complaint against the mayor.

Anyway, Engen saw the Patterson signs and asked someone from the city to inform the candidate that they must be removed. In doing so, Patterson’s complaint alleges that Engen “abused his power.” The complaint also alleges that the city employee wasn’t quite so nice in removing the signs from the construction site, but that’s not the point. Filing a complaint against our beloved (by most) mayor, especially if Patterson is the one who violated the law, just doesn’t make much sense.

(I wish I could link you to the Missoulian story but it’s nowhere to be found online.)

Continue Reading »

by Rebecca Schmitz

Yesterday the Board of Pharmacy ruled the Legislature should decide whether or not Montana’s pharmacists will follow a single ethical and professional standard.

The Montana Board of Pharmacy took no action Wednesday after hearing comment on the issue of pharmacists who refuse to dispense contraceptives because of religious beliefs. Board member Mark Meredith of Helena added that a decision on whether new regulations are necessary should come from state lawmakers, not the six-member pharmacy board. “I think we should wait and see what happens in the Legislature,” he said.

I agree; I said as much last December. Although I do find the attitude of the Board odd. Its executive director, Ron Klein, in a story aired on MTPR’s Montana Morning News (and unfortunately not available online) said pharmacies should be allowed to operate like any other retail business, a view reflected in his comments after John Lane’s hearing last month. This argument is disingenuous. If a pharmacy was just like any other store, then there wouldn’t be the need for a Board of Pharmacy–or Ron Klein. Obviously, the very presence of both indicates the state has a strong interest in regulating this profession, an interest it doesn’t take in other retail businesses. After all, there isn’t a Montana Board of Underpants, a Montana Board of Camping Gear, or a Montana Board of Stylish Yet Comfortable Shoes.

So I guess it’s up to us–the voters–to make sure pharmacists dispense all legal prescriptions. We need to elect people to the Legislature who will make sure these professionals respect the decisions made by Montana women and their doctors. Missoulians are lucky. We’ve got a solid delegation of local legislators, with one notable exception. As Bill Vaughn pointed out on Dark Acres, HD 100 Representative Bill Nooney, who’s up for re-election, has an “A+” rating (let’s hope he got a gold star or a scratch ‘n’ sniff sticker) from the less-than-transparent Montana Family Action of Laurel, home of Senator Dan “All Flawed” McGee and Representative Krayton “Blood Sport” Kerns. Bill’s 100% means he can’t be counted on to introduce the bill creating the law the Board of Pharmacy needs, but I’m sure some of these fine folks can help us.

by Pete Talbot

It takes a professional writer with some personal experience with Bill Nooney to really do justice to the representative from H.D. 100.

Bill Vaughn over at Dark Acres gives an excellent synopsis of Nooney’s infamous first term in the Montana House of Representatives.

My only complaint with the piece is this line: “Although I haven’t been in a voting booth in years, I’m going to enjoy casting a ballot again,” Vaughn writes. Sometimes it takes a horrendously bad candidate to get someone active in politics but still, shame on you Mr. Vaughn.

(Incidentally, on June 3, there will be a Democratic primary in House District 100 between Gary G. Brown and E. Willis Curdy. I couldn’t find a website for either candidate but 4&20 will keep you posted.)

by jhwygirl

Wulfgar!, under his Deeply Stupid category, takes local attorney and candidate for HD 96 Steve Eschenbacher to task for his poor attorney-speak (“absolutely positively probably”) and other conspiracy theories.

Eshenbacher is the blogger behind Rabid Insanity, something he has not hidden.

Makes me wonder what Eschenbacher thinks of my post below, on our mainstream media’s military analysts.

Oops. Wait. I already know. Can’t question a retired officer and military analyst– that would be unpatriotic.


Eishenbacher is running against Teresa Henry, incumbent for HD 96. There will not be a primary for HD 96.

by jhwygirl

Ann Mary Dussault, County Administrator and former County Commissioner, was asked by Missoulian reporter Keilla Szpaller, for a story covering the numerous bonds and levy requests coming before the voters in the November election, about the regional 911 center:

“It’s way too early for us to be telling the public what the project is and how much it will cost,” Dussault said.

Really? Are you that unorganized for a multi-million dollar request for a multi-million dollar building? What, did the architects have free reign?

She said the project was in the hands of architects. When asked about a timeline, Dussault said she would no longer share timelines with the Missoulian because the county only gets “s–” for it. She then refused to answer further questions and said information must come from commissioners instead.

Did she just say SHIT?

Tsk, tsk, tsk, Ms. Dussault. That really is no way to treat neither the press nor the public that reads it.

You’d think she’d know better, no?

On the other hand, Ms. Dussault isn’t exactly known for her tact.

Gotta give Keilla Spzaller credit here – reporting on all the news that’s fit to print – and apparently more, as it were. The public deserves to know the full story.

It does paint a more accurate picture of Missoula County’s approach to public involvement.

Of course, I’ve blogged about the county’s approach on public involvement before. This post contains two tales (two for one bonus, readers!)

In Ann Mary’s defense, though, she probably doesn’t want to torpedo the proposal by having too much get out about it ahead of its time.

It might get too ripe.

That’s because my friends inside the courthouse tell me that Ann Mary’s plan is to move all departments- Licensing, Titles, Elections, Clerk & Recorder, Surveyor’s – even the Board of County Commissioner’s Office (did I get them all?) – all to the new 911 center proposed for a location off of North Reserve.

Yep, that’s right – move the seat of the county, the heart of the city, to North Reserve.

Missoula is one of Montana’s original 5 counties. From the Canadian border to Dillon, from the Idaho border to Georgetown lake, Missoula County was it all in 1864. And since that time (and even before, really), the heart of it all has been down in what is currently the heart of the city.

Dussault, apparently believes that the new heart of the county is out somewhere on Reserve Street.

A real visionary, huh?

All of this 911 center talk was kicked off by the need for the courtrooms and judge’s offices to expand. Also in the mix is the lack of parking for county employees. Some are upset that they have to walk the block and half from the lot over near St. Patrick’s Hospital.

Yep – those county employees can’t stand to hoof it 600 feet. And those judges need to have the entire courthouse, apparently. But even in the discussion that has been had, they won’t be needing all of it immediately – but sometimes in the next 40 years or so.

Business owners downtown, too, have heard the rumblings. Trouble is, Dussault has yet to accept an invite to a meeting of the Missoula Downtown Association to discuss the issue.

Maybe it’s time to get some input from the citizens that have to use the county adminstrative offices? Isn’t that, like, everyone?

by jhwygirl

A long-term free fall of the Missoula housing market along with all the foreclosures, collapse of the mortgage and banking industry and recession that goes along with it.

Long term.

She says “Missoulapolis continues to see the glass as half-full, portending free-market affordable housing in Missoula in five years. Yes, it can happen here.”

Yeah, that’s a candidate I can get behind!

I wonder if she’s going to wheel out those blue Minjares HD 97 signs she used last-time around, with that tiny tiny barely visible little elephant?

Minjares also offered this solution to affordable housing last September.

Folks, this is your local GOP in action. Carol Minjares is Vice-Chair of the Missoula County Repubicans and Secretary of the Five Valleys Pachyderm.

by jhwygirl

The Mayor’s Community Discussion of Housing meeting was held this past Thursday. City Council chambers were packed with a wide variety of members of the community with varying views – from Councilman Dick Haines and University curmudgeon Lee Clemensen to Andrea Davis of the Missoula Housing Authority and local developer Perry Ashby.

It would have been nice to see a County Commissioner there (I didn’t notice any of them) – but Dennis Daneke, candidate for Larry Andersons seat (appointed after Barbara Evans retired), which is up for this next election, was there. Also present was State Representative Ron Erickson, of House District 97.

For whatever reason, the Missoulian failed to cover it.

The format was pretty free-form – the Mayor first showed a 20 minute documentary outlining the issue and then introduced four people from his housing initiative panel – Chad Nicholson, a firefighter for the City of Missoula; Rachael Bemis, a mortgage loan officer with Missoula Federal Credit Union; Perry Ashby, local developer of several subdivisions and sometimes business-partner with Westmont Builders; and Nancy Harte, Missoula Office of Planning & Grants administrator for the city’s HUD funding – and then went on to hand the microphone around the standing-room only (with overflow out into the hall) for the next 2+ hours.

There were opinions and thoughts and questions from all ends of the issue. Here are a few:

Dennis Danequeth, president of the local carpenter’s union posed this question (apologies if I’ve gotten the spelling wrong): I admit don’t know much about economics. If there is so much of a demand, how come the market isn’t supplying it? We should first let the market address the issue. Perhaps there are some obstacles in the way. Perhaps we should look at the regulations and give the market a chance.

Councilman Jon Wilkins: Perhaps my biggest disappointment was to find that our program with FHA could only fund one homebuyer with the federal money we got. We can fight this fabulous war that we are fighting but we can’t fight this war at home. I think it’s important that we keep the character of the neighborhoods. I have 2 kids – one is going to be a Doctor, and he probably won’t be coming back to Missoula…the other is probably going to be a social worker and she probably won’t be able to afford a home in Missoula. I might be able to give her my home or something, I don’t know. I don’t know what we are going to do, but more help is going to be important.

Steve Loken, of Loken Builders, who has received awards for his remodels that use recycle-and-reuse methods and newer energy saving technologies: We can build affordable housing, but we can’t find affordable land. We have to pay for good help – there are a whole bunch of factors involved. The city requires all kinds of things – setbacks, roads, sewer, building code. I remodel a whole lot of homes that were built by people who lived in them. Very few of us do that today. Builders like me have to look for qualified builders. We have to pay $12 – $14 – $17 – $18 per hour and if we don’t pay them that much, they’ll go elsewhere. Builders are caught between needing qualified builders and having to pay them a living wage. Land is the problem. I have a new formula – people need to participate in the building of their home. Cooperative Housing is a tool – clustering, changing zoning for infill – we have to be dense and we have to grow vertically. We can do this with good design. Operate efficiently. Limit the amount of equity in a housing cooperative. All over the mid-west, NYC, cooperatives are becoming the way. With these kinds of projects we can have affordable housing.

Doug Grimm (apologies, again, if I’ve gotten the spelling wrong), who identified himself as having lived in Montana “practically all his life” told a story of having lived in Greenwich Village paying $200/month for rent and sharing the place with 2 other guys. He had neighbors that paid $25/month for rent and he couldn’t believe it. Doug went on to explain how NYC had enacted rent control and what a horrible mistake it was. “The market should work it out,” he said. “If I came to Missoula,” he said, “and I was looking for a place to live, my next choice would be to go to Deerlodge. Deerlodge is pretty cheap. It could be the next Missoula. If we sent enough people to Deerlodge it could be come fabulous as Deerlodge. Do you realize that you can move to Jamestown New York and buy a nice house for $18,000 -$30,000? You could also move to Erie Pennsylvania and buy a home and work at Burger King!”

Continue Reading »

by Pete Talbot

I’m probably the last person Will Deschamps would tip his hand to, so it comes as no surprise that even though he swore to me at the Montana Republican caucus that he wasn’t running for the legislature again, he’s filed for House District 98.

Deschamps is chairman of the Missoula County Republicans and, I believe, this is his third run at this seat (currently held by Holly Raser, who is running for Superintendent of Public Instruction). His only competition to date is Democrat Sue Malek. Malek served on Missoula’s last City Government Review Commission, so you know she can deal with contentious issues.

Another party officer, Second Vice Chairwoman Carol Minjares, has filed for House District 97. She lists a website on her filing form and lo and behold, it links to Missoulapolis, Minjares’ conservative blog site. (Where’s that PayPal contribution link, Carol?)

I also met Carol at the last month’s Republican caucus and she was nothing but gracious. And although we’re diametrically opposed on most issues, I do like her posts on the real estate market in Missoula, which are often accompanied by pictures.

She happens to be running against one of my favorite legislators, incumbent Democrat Michele Reinhart. Reinhart is a young, sharp woman with a background in planning and growth issues. To me, she represents the future of the Montana Legislature.

Michele has a primary opponent in James Boone. Here’s what Michele told me about Mr. Boone:

“James Boone is passionate about the working poor, the mentally ill, and the rights of mobile home owners. He works two jobs, one at Michaels and one at a trucking distribution company. He has nothing against me and did not really even know who I was until I met with him. He just felt the need to file.

Boone’s issues are important ones and Lord knows they need representation in Helena. Thing is, they’re also Michele’s issues, along with a slew of other concerns she has about Montana’s environment, economy and disenfranchised people.

Another Republican, Steve Eschenbacher (try fitting that last name on a yard sign), also lists a website. Turns out that Steve is the author of Missoula’s other conservative blog, Rabid Sanity. (There used to be three conservative Missoula blogs but I haven’t seen anything from Scoop Montana since last fall’s municipal elections.)

Eschenbacher is running in House District 96 against incumbent Democrat Teresa Henry, who also happens to be one of my favorite Missoula area legislators (actually, I’m pretty thrilled with all the Missoula area legislators, except for that Nooney guy in House District 100 — more on him in upcoming posts).

Here are the websites of other Missoula candidates, as they appear on the Montana Secretary of State’s Internet site:

Democrat Carol Williams is the sole candidate, to date, for Senate District 46:

Democrat Ron Erickson is running against Democrat Rosie Buzzas in Senate District 47: (No Republican has filed as of yet.)

Democrat Dustin Hankinson is running in the primary against incumbent Tim Furey in House District 91: (No Republican there yet, either)

Democrat Dick Barrett is running in House District 93: (Republican Steve Dogiakos has also filed.)

Republican incumbent Bill Nooney will face one of two Democrats that have filed in House District 100: Strange. I just tried to go to this site and it said: “Forbidden. You don’t have permission to access on this server.” Does this apply to just me or to everyone except Bill Nooney insiders?”

There’s less than a week to go until the March 20 filing deadline. If there’s a flurry of new filings at the end, or any other keen candidate insights, 4&20 will let you know. We’ll be keeping a particularly close eye on Nooney’s race over in HD 100.

by Jamee Greer

Recent UM grad, and pal of mine, K’Lynn Sloan is rockin’ MTV as a Choose or Loose Citizen Journalist this election year — featuring reports on the political scene here in the MT.

Check out her videos, and read her blog.

by jhwygirl

With the approval of the Rattlesnake’s Sonata subdivision last night, and today’s hearing before the Board of County Commissioners regarding JTL’s proposed gravel pit-across-the-street-from-another-gravel pit up near Lolo (the only thing that can stop that is zoning), I’ve been thinking for the last few days about how long it would be before we got county-wide zoning.

How many lawsuits will the county have to defend?

How much of Plum Creek Timberlands’ lands will be subdivided before we zone?

I spoke with a Ravalli County planner today. They are on-schedule for county-wide zoning by this time next year. Same with their streamside setback regulations.

County-wide zoning for Ravalli is the brainchild of a group of citizens who got sick and tired of unregulated growth and sprawl. They repeatedly went to the county commissioners requesting that zoning be undertaken, to no avail. Frustrated, they collected signatures to force a referendum vote, and last November a referendum was approved which enacted emergency interim zoning and required the county to adopt county-wide zoning.

The project is ambitious. I watch and follow with some amount of awe. Actual planning being done! How amazing!

The planner I spoke with is both excited and exhausted. I was told that they are all working feverishly on the plan – often working until 10 p.m. each night. “It’s not easy,” he/she said, “while a lot of the community is participating, there are, of course, a group of people that simply don’t want it. Period.”

I asked how the “takings” lecture went back about 2 weeks ago. He/she said that the meeting was extremely well-attended – more so than the zoning meetings which are also well-attended. The public was shocked, he/she said, at the information: that streamside setbacks are rarely found to be “takings”- that in order for a takings to occur, property has to be rendered unusable. Simply because you don’t get to do what you want to do isn’t a taking.


It’s really hard to stop sprawl when you can go anywhere and ignore the comprehensive plan and subdivide to 1 acre lots. State law and legal precedent do NOT allow the comprehensive plan to be the sole and only reason for subdivision denial. (I wish that someone would have said that at last night’s Sonata hearing. It wasn’t city council’s fault. Without health, safety or welfare concerns that can’t be mitigated, they really had no legal standing to deny the request.)

Further, in some ways, we’ve got the city and the county working against each other. The city can – and is – working on a zoning rewrite. But without county-wide zoning, we are going to have development all over the place, sprawling traffic and increasing degradation to air quality. (Yeah, did you read that one this weekend?) If you can’t do what you want to in the city or out in the meager zoned county ‘donut’ – go out into the not-so-hinterlands, and go to one-acre lots. They’re hard-pressed to deny, really, in the end. And now probably even more so, considering Richards’ recent filing against the county.


I stopped by our courthouse the other day to inquire what the process was to put a referendum on the ballot. I guess I’m not thinking that the county commissioners would put it there willingly.

A resolution would have to be prepared, presuming that the referendum would pass and the county commissioners would have to sign it. A petition would also have to be prepared. That resolution and petition would be reviewed and approved by the county elections officer and the county attorney. Once approved, roughly 12,000 signatures would have to be gathered in 90 days. The latest those signatures could be submitted would be early in August (so the elections office had time to verify that the signatures were valid.)

I took a poll around the office of both city and county residents – of course, everyone in the city said they would sign the petition. What surprised me was that every county resident, also, said they would sign it.

So I wonder – what do YOU think?

Is it time for county-wide zoning?

by jhwygirl is reporting that Barbara Evans has announced her retirement, effective August 30th.

{{happy happy, joy joy}}

I’ve got no love for Barbara – having watched her over the years, I can direct you to this post which sums up what I’ve come to see from her.

It will be real interesting to see what the Republican Central Committee comes up with. Wouldn’t surprise me if it was Jim Edwards – who ran last year for County Commissioner, challenging Democrat Jean Curtiss. Barbara endorsed Edwards.

And – if you go to the post I reference above – you’ll learn that Barbara Evans only reluctantly voted against Jim Edwards’ (who was running for election at the time) misguided gravel pit-next-to-the-river-and-smack-dab-in-the-middle-of-rural-residential-uses after first suggesting that if the public doesn’t like something first they should buy out the developer (i.e., Jim Edwards). There’s more than that to the post though – go read it.

This move is an attempt by both Barbara and the Republican Central Committee to help insure that her seat will be filled by a Republican when it comes up for election in November 2008. Incumbents can be hard to unseat.

RCC Chair Will Deschamps notes “This would be an opportunity, quite frankly, to give somebody on the job learning before the election, rather than try and get someone elected cold.” Barbara goes on to say “If I wait until the election, chances are it would be one political party.”

So Barbara – is it about the voice of the people or about protecting the political needs of the Missoula Republicans?

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