Archive for the ‘Don Nicholson’ Category

by jhwygirl

Buried in the financial folly of the Performing Arts Center and the Hillview SID vote this past Monday – of which only ONE city councilperson was consistent in their fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers – Ward 3’s Stacy Rye – was a vote on the final authorization for construction and funding of the Hill/Higgins/Beckwith roundabout.

Now, this roundabout moved forward after a lengthy debate that was held for several meetings back in 2005. There have been several interim votes since then, all related to authorizing finance related matters – contracts, federal funding paperwork, etc.

All sitting councilmembers have voted on this project at one time or another.

Failing to approve final authorization of construction and the $55,000 in funding for the Hill/Higgins/Beckwith roundabout would have resulted in the city loosing $180,000 in previously spent engineering fees along with a delay of 20 years to obtain state funding to improve a poorly designed (thanks to feuding developers from back in the late 1800’s) intersections.

Let me repeat that – failing to approve final authorization of construction of the Hill/Higgins/Beckwith roundabout would have resulted in the city loosing $180,000 in previously spend taxpayer funds and a delay of 20 years in fixing a dangerous intersection.

There was only one “nay” vote Monday night – Ward 2’s Don Nicholson.

At least he was fiscally consistent – he voted against the Hillview SID too.

Notably, though, there were 4 councilmen who abstained. Yep. Abstained.

Now, the 4 that abstained – Ballas, Reidy, Wilkins and Hendrickson – have all voted on this project before. Consistently voted “nay” whenever anything vote related to the Hill/Higgins/Beckwith roundabout came up – but hell, at least they voted, right? (or wrong, as it were, right?)

Abstaining from this vote was childish. They can’t stick to their guns? They can’t show a little backbone?

At least they were semi-consistent with their consistency related to their lack of fiscal responsibility to the citizens – these same “Fab 4” voted against the Hillview SID.

Maybe they knew that voting against the funding would show them to be irresponsible with taxpayer money?

Sorry “Fab 4” – bowing out of the vote all together, especially when you have all voted on this thing before, makes you weasels. And fiscally irresponsible.

So nestled in the Engen-inspired chaos of Monday night was a third issue that helps illustrate how fiscally responsible a councilperson is to the citizens.

Above, when I mentioned that only Ward 3’s Stacy Rye was fiscally consistent with her vote to deny any extension to the Performing Arts Committee and to approve the Hillview SID (she voted ‘nay’ to the motion to deny the SID), I was wrong.

I should have added that Ward 3’s Stacy Rye was the only one consistent on all 3 votes.

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by Rebecca Schmitz

I would like to offer my congratulations to all the winners of yesterday’s City Council election. (The Iraq War referendum outcome? The maraschino cherry atop this sundae of progressive values.) J-school students at UM have tallied the results on their blog:

Ward 1
X Jason Wiener: 1,676, 64%
Justin Armintrout: 887, 34%
Ward 2
X Pam Walzer: 998, 52%
Don Nicholson (incumbent) : 906, 47%
Ward 3
X Stacy Rye (incumbent) : 1,504, 57%
Doug Harrison: 1,089, 42%
Ward 4
X Lyn Hellegaard: 1,506, 53%
Jerry Ballas (incumbent) : 1,282, 45%
Ward 5
X Renee Mitchell: 1,220, 54%
Christine Prescott: 1,026, 45%
Ward 6
X Ed Childers (incumbent) : 892, 50.48%
Lewie Schneller: 852, 48.22%

The big winners here, of course, are the voters themselves. Forty-six percent of them returned their ballots to the Election Office. Not an ideal 100% in a perfect world to be sure, but still proof that the new mail-in ballots and successful local voter drives can work for the betterment of our city’s political system. The Missoulian summed up the election nicely in today’s editorial:

More than Flag Day or Independence Day or any other show of devotion to this nation, Election Day – and the day after – are the true test of our commitment to democracy.

That’s so true. The simple act of voting itself–whether it’s at the dining room table or in a curtained booth–is more patriotic than all the hollow chest-thumping displays of the same, from enforced recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to plastering “In God We Trust” across school classrooms.  Young voters, same-day voting and fictitious liberal “machines” are not a menace to Missoula.  Apathy is.  Everyone who voted and everyone who ran, whether they won or not, deserves to be called a patriot.

by jhwygirl

Big HUGE congratulations go out to Ward 1’s winner Jason Weiner. Jason takes a decisive win over Justin Armintrout, with over 64% of the vote! Jason will be a big supporter of the issues that are important to voters in Ward 1 – transportation and affordable housing. Welcome aboard Jason!

In Ward 2 – an important race due to incumbent Don “Just say No all the time” Nicholson – Pam Walzer campaigned a nearly 52% win out of what was a very tight race. A progressive having picking up that seat will be key in breaking up the clogged up council of the soon-to-be past. Way to go Pam!

Ward 3 – which holds what I believe some of the best large blocks of lands suitable for what can bring us real solutions to Missoula’s affordable housing problem – brings Missoula a very decisive victory with incumbent Stacy Rye beating out Doug Harrison, a former councilperson himself. Stacy took over 57% of the votes in Ward 3. Her experience and understanding of the economic impacts of affordable housing will be key, I believe, in bringing forward and keeping moving solutions for that important issue. (No pressure there, huh?) Big kudos to Stacy and the voters of Ward 3 in making the forward choice for Ward 3 and the City of Missoula.

Incumbent Ed Childers also brought Missoula progressives a win in Ward 6. That was – surprising to me and many others here in the ‘hood – the tightest race, with Ed taking it by 40 votes. Only 1,767 voters voted in Ward 6…Shame. Shame. Shame. Congrats to you too Mr. Childers! Ed coined the word “Regressives” (at least as I know it), and if only for that, I have lot’s of love for him. Plus that cute little Cooper he drives just makes him look “Oh So Cool!”

Disappointing, of course, was Christine Prescott’s loss in Ward 5. A lawyer and a minister, Christine would have done a lot to bring back civility and reasonableness to city council. Council doesn’t seem to get much help from Nugent, either, when it comes to ensuring that new ordinances and regulations are easily enforced and understood – and Christine would have helped immensely with that. Christine deserves a huge THANK YOU, though, for having run. It’s not easy – and demonstrates a dedication to community that not all of us are willing to do at such a level. Thank You Christine Prescott!

Also disappointing was Jerry Ballas’ loss in Ward 4. I don’t expect Lyn Hellegaard – who is apparently aligned with Jon Wilkins, John Hendrickson, and Dick Haines – to provide us anything more different than that which we are getting currently from that group of regressives. Jerry will be missed, as he has served this community well.

~~~~

Now clean up those election signs – get some rest – do your homework – and get ready to bring Missoula some PROGRESS!

Yippee!!

by jhwygirl

I rarely get over that ways nowadays, but had occasion to stop over a friends house.

I really love that area too – it has a real ‘neighborhood’ feel, with sidewalks and boulevards. Lots of Missoula individuality – plenty of unique gardening to those boulevards over there!

I also saw a really nice Planned Neighborhood Cluster (PNC) going up. The homes are on the market for $280,000.

Not very affordable.

Perhaps it was the route I took, but there were sure a lot of Pam Walzer signs around.

What struck me – and I almost went home to get a camera just so I could post the picture here – was one house that had its garage door open. Now, keep in mind that it is election time, and as I said, there were plenty of sky blue Pam Walzer signs all abound – but this house, with its garage door open had 3 or 4 Don Nicholson signs.

Only, the Don Nicholson signs weren’t in the yard – they were in the garage, next to the garbage cans.

by jhwygirl

Forward Montana brings Missoula citizens a most excellent voters guide.

It provides information on each candidate in the form of a short Q&A, along with links to the Missoulian interviews and a list of who is endorsing which candidate.

It also has information on the war referendum, and links to news sources on the Iraq war. AND it also includes a ward map – which will be helpful to oh-so-many people (I can’t believe how many people don’t know what ward they live in!)

Lots of great information, all in one place. I highly recommend that you check it out.

But you won’t be able to get much information on any candidate in Ward 4 – neither Jerry Ballas nor Lyn Hellegaard bothered to answer the questions. Neither.

Maybe they didn’t have any answers or thoughts to offer. One question probably presented them with real Catch 22 – “How do you plan on being effective in light of this divisive council?”

I can only surmise that neither just plain doesn’t have plans to be effective. I guess I can give ’em a pass on that one – but geez, they couldn’t even bother with “What is your ward’s biggest problem and how do you plan to tackle it?”

I hate to find myself saying this, but maybe Ballas is the best choice there – I mean, at least you know what your getting there…with Lyn, who in the hades knows?!

(There’s a shining endorsement….)

Ward 2’s Don Nicholson didn’t bother either – but he was probably getting some needed nap time in, so he gets a pass there too.

Ward 3’s Doug Harrison also didn’t bother…but he might have been caught in a Catch 22 with the “How do you plan to be effective” question.

Not bothering to participate in answering questions of a non-partisan group of young people who are showing interest in the political process is a real shame. Their lack of participation – the seemingly organized lack of participation among 4 Republican candidates – sends a bad message to some young people who are going to be voting for a long long time.

And in local elections, when there really are so few (compared to state-wide or federal elections) sources with which to get information on candidates, it is important to get information out there from as many sources as possible. It helps in the sense that it can smooth out any bias that come come from reading just one source for information.

Shame on Ballas, Hellegaard, Harrison and Nicholson.

by Jay Stevens

Hilarious:

Watch out! He might be dreaming about city business!

by jhwygirl

Ward 2 incumbent Don Nicholson, towards the end of yesterday’s council meeting, asked all council members to take a good look at the work that Ward 3’s Bob Jaffe has done on amending the deferral resolution for the proposed Hillview SID.

Jaffe has proposed changes that are aimed at reducing the possibility of the SID fees creating a situation where larger undeveloped tracts would succumb to the pressure of development.

Some owners of larger undeveloped tracts – the Craigheads come to mind – said that they would be faced with a choice of either paying what they felt were extraordinary fees or selling the property (resulting in likely development.)

Jaffe’s proposed changes include the addition of common area lots 10 acres or more in size to the criteria for eligibility.

It eliminates the requirement of the payment of the deferral when the buyer accepts the deferral upon signature. Previously, the deferral was not transferrable – if a property owner had obtained a deferral, upon sale payment was due.

It also allows for reconstruction of an exisiting structure for owners that have a deferral. So in the event of a fire, for example, the home could be reconstructed without having to pay the SID.

Further, Jaffee’s proposal also has an accommodation for minor changes to property boundaries, keeping, again, the deferral intact.

Bob Jaffe has been a good problem-solver on council – his questions exhibit his desire to understand the issues.

Don Nicholson has shown himself, also, on occasion willing to compromise and seek solutions rather than to “just say no” to every possible proposal. Yesterday’s comments illustrate that.

I say good for both of them. Missoula needs more of exactly this type of ‘get ‘er done’ attitutude.

by Rebecca Schmitz

Impact fees and SIDs are technically different things, but their purpose is the same: to help fund the necessary infrastructure that specific neighborhoods and the city as a whole requires. You know, like sidewalks, bike lanes, road construction and repair, and the widening (or narrowing) of the same. Either you, as a potential property owner, will pay upfront as part of the purchase price when costs are lower and the work can be easily completed, or you’ll pay far more years down the line, when streets and private property–yours now–has to be torn up to get the job done. Who’s against impact fees? No surprise there, the Missoula Chamber of Commerce:

Opponents say the proposed cost is exorbitant and unfair, though they don’t dispute the need to find ways to pay for roads. “It’s a complex problem and we are happy to work with the city to look at alternatives,” said Gary Bakke, with the Missoula Chamber of Commerce.

And who thinks the Chamber should play a role in city planning? Ward Two City Council incumbent Don Nicholson.

Ward 2’s Nicholson said Missoula is not friendly as a whole to business. Involving the Chamber of Commerce in planning would help, and paying attention to zoning could as well.

Let’s ignore for the moment the tired old argument that Missoula isn’t “friendly to business”. Really, if you look out your window you can practically see the city moving by the nanosecond towards Frenchtown in one direction and Clinton in the other. If Missoula didn’t like business, somebody then needs to explain why the entire city is debating the direction of sprawl, infill and growth. Like suburbia or not, those are the three best indicators of a healthy economy. No, let’s think about a City Council candidate who thinks the input of a specific special interest group is more important than average citizens–the same citizens who will have to pay the eventual SID taxes just a few years from now, when Missoula moves past their neighborhood on the march towards the future.

Whether or not the final Hillview Way assessment is correct, I’m sure Dr. Linda Frey can tell you all about the consequences of shortsighted planning. Depending on the size of their property, Ward Two voters need to ask themselves if the Chamber and Don Nicholson will be there to help them pay that possible SID tax of up to $65,000 when it’s their turn to write a check for road reconstruction.

by Rebecca Schmitz

Salon.com has an interesting article today about the Bush Administration blaming the Minneapolis bridge collapse on…wait for it…bike paths.  Yes, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters claims that money wasted on bike paths nationwide, as well as other projects, could have saved those poor commuters’ lives last month.

“There are museums that are being built with that money, bike paths, trails, repairing lighthouses. Those are some of the kind of things that that money is being spent on, as opposed to our infrastructure,” she said. The secretary added that projects like bike paths and trails “are really not transportation.”

I think it’s relevant in light of the ongoing debate in Missoula about bike paths, sharing the road, traffic congestion, the Broadway Diet, and the battles in Ward Two over moving that stretch of Broadway in and out of the larger neighborhood plan created by the local residents. Most of the City Council candidates specifically addressed transportation concerns in the questionnaires published in the Missoulian. Our town has to keep traffic flowing smoothly if we want to be a regional hub with a thriving economy. However, can government officials and private citizens seriously argue that spending money on bike paths endangers commuter safety? This is my favorite quote from the Salon article:

“The guy in his Humvee taking his videos back to the video store isn’t any more legitimate a trip than the guy on the Raleigh taking his videos back,” says Andy Thornley, program director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

by jhwygirl

No surprises here – Jerry Ballas is once again attempting to throw a wrench into the already-approved-back-in-2005 Hill/Beckwith/Higgins traffic circle – so discussion will once again move two steps backwards regarding final authorization for construction of the traffic circle.

Ballas voted against it the first time around (back in 2005), and even attempted, after being in the minority, to call back the approval through a bitter childish attempt at twisting Council rules. A battle he lost. The guy just can not let things go. Note this little tidbit from the August 1, 2005 City Council Agenda:

Review rule and Heidi Kendall’s decision to rule out of order, the referral to “Reconsider roundabout at Higgins/Hill/Beckwith.”—Regular Agenda (Jerry Ballas)

That attempt was after nearly 6 months of public hearings and meetings in 2005 – in city hall and in the neighborhoods…discussions and agreements with property owners – one being a whole church’s congregation – and review of numerous traffic studies regarding safety of traffic circles and impacts on air quality.

So his actions last week at the Public Works committee are yet another example of how he clusters up City Council with bitter personal agenda maneuvers without regard to the safety of Missoula citizens, the cost to Missoula’s taxpayers, and the waste in time of City employees (even more taxpayer $ down the drain.)

For whatever reason, Ballas, along with his cohorts in wrench-throwing Hendrickson, Wilkins, Haines and Nicholson, don’t seem to like traffic circles. Or at least they don’t like them there at Hill/Beckwith/Higgins – because for some reason they were OK with the traffic circle at Miller Creek.

Now, Hill/Beckwith/Higgins is problematic area. Paxson School is nearby, and a child from that school was killed there last year. It is a intersection bringing traffic into and out of the University. And with Grizzly Grocery and its other businesses nearby, a difficult area to manage for both pedestrian and vehicular and business concerns.

Approvals for this project – the proper term is roundabout – were set in motion in June 2005. More than 2 years ago, City Council made the decision to contract with Morrison-Mierle for design of a roundabout. Commitments were made, citizen tax dollars were spent.

Now that work is done, and the city has the final steps of authorizing construction. The city has a few options in how to do it – they can do it by themselves (i.e., no state or federal funding) for about $500,000. They can do it with state and federal funding – in that scenario, the cost for the project will total out at $1,000,000 BUT the city’s share would only be approximately $50,000. I’m not missing a zero there, folks. The already-3/4-of-the-way-down-the-pike project would cost the city $50,000. (Missoulapolis, it seems, is missing part of the story.)

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