Archive for the ‘Forward Montana’ Category

by jhwygirl

Please consider this an open thread.

Wow. Didn’t know compliance with state laws was voluntary. Pretty convenient, huh?

Bitterroot foreclosures are skyrocketing.

I follow a number of foreign tweeters, including some chinese folk who continue to try and push stories out about the melamine-in-baby-food problem. One that I follow was arrested and then later released probably because he tweeted his own arrest. Now, that tweeter is tweeting that organizers for the families of the victims of the tainted milk have been arrested. There’s one guy who has posted pics of his tiny baby who is in kidney failure. It is heartbreaking. Their government is failing them, and the world needs to know.

Twitter is all very interesting. There is great potential there to influence and help promote democracy from what seems a silly tech site. When the Iranian guard cracked down recently most media and even those within Iran agreed that Twitter served as a tool to save lives from the harsh government crackdown. Another group that I’m aware of is trying to get 5 Cubans released, and wants the U.S. to intervene. Twitter makes the world larger for one of it’s most difficult issues: human rights.

Melinda Gopher, Democratic candidate for Montana’s lone House of Representative seat, has a website up. Ms. Gopher is OjibwekweOgemaw on twitter.

Forward Montana is hiring a managing director. No mail or phone calls, please. Deadline is December 7.

Facts are, apparently, a problem for former Republican Vice President candidate Sarah Palin

If you aren’t reading the Indy’s blog every day, you are missing out.

The Montana Kaimin reports on the woefully sad story of how the Board of Regents is going to have to have to give King George a $75,000 raise, all because the hired a new president out an MSU. The Missoulian covered the same story about a week ago…and it, too, had interviews with persons who were more than happy to frame it as a “oh, poor us, we have to give him a $75,000 raise.” Sorry. Not buying it. No where else in Montana is an entity hiring new people based on competitive wages and then giving a raise to every single other person of the same job a raise.

In more irony, these people are framing this as some sort of search for excellence. Let’s be clear here, with regards to George Dennison. He’s there already. What has he done to increase his excellence rating to a tune of $75,000? And lately, he’s not really shown any excellence in leadership towards education. Football maybe. Beyond that – isn’t he due to recycle his let’s-bulldoze-the-golf-course-and-build-condos plan again? I say let him prove his excellence to someone else if he wants $280,000 a year…and then let’s promote from within the walls of UM. I’m sure there’s someone down there not only capable, but more than willing to take the job on at less than $280,000.

Well now – that’s enough, isn’t it? What say you?

by Ana J. Beard 

After receiving a vague e-mail today from a reporter from the Independent, about the school board meeting I attended and spoke at on Feb. 10, I called him, as he had requested.

Call me naive but for some reason it didn’t occur to me that I was about to get interviewed.

First off, let me say that this reporter was nothing but polite and supportive. He told me that I did a good job at the meeting and that he thought I was doing the right thing. 

His questions, though, were what threw me off. After being complimented, I was asked about how I’d met with Forward Montana. Did they contact me, did I contact them, how did they contact me? Well, I contacted Matt Singer from Forward Montana. It only got more… accusatory? from there. Maybe accusatory isn’t the right word. It isn’t. It’s the only word that comes to mind though.

The whole conversation, all I could think about was the wording of his questions. As I said before, he was very respectful but it didn’t take me too long to realise what was so “off” about it all.

All of his questions had to do with: who had me do this, who told me to do that? Forward Montana helped me write me piece for the school board, right? What else am I doing about the school board? Who told me to do that?

It made me think of all of the letters to the editors I’ve seen in the Missoulian in the last few days and the comment threads online, written by people that agree with the school board’s decision with “The Story of Stuff”. Obviously even the Independent doubts teenagers’ abilities to think freely and self-motivate. The Independent questions today’s youths’ ability to think independently? Ironic…
Sad, actually. I’m sorry to disappoint whoever wanted to know–I wrote all of my own material, I attended the meeting on my own free will, and I am not a product of someone’s brainwashing ways. Yes, I had people who offered their support, there were people who wanted to teach me the different resources I had to “make noise” and there were people who answered my random little questions I had about addressing the school board (“Madam chair and members of the board…”) and how public comment at a meeting works.

Like I said before, I had no idea I was being interviewed until the end of the conversation when the reporter said “Well that’s all the questions I have for now…” Immediately I couldn’t help but laugh to myself. I should have known it was an interview. His questions were too leading to be casual conversation, off the record, between two journalists. I felt a little sketched out being on the other side of the notebook.

I was at a loss for words, so I just thanked him when he, once again, offered his support and said to keep up the good work and to “keep pitching story ideas to the Indy” (I had previously asked to cover the school board story but it had already been assigned and it was a conflict of interests, which I completely understand. The Lance runs the same way).

I don’t know if it was the reporter, himself, who doubts teenagers, or if it was somebody else’s angle but why is it so hard to believe that we (well, most of us) have fully functional brains? We aren’t blank slates for our “liberal” teachers, “conservative” parents, or violent/overtly sexual media (or wherever the blame is being placed) to mark up.

by jhwygirl

On neither the county nor the city website could I find a “Missoula City-County Air Pollution Control Board,” but in last Thursday’s paper, tucked away in the legal notices on page C8 was this notice:

On December 18, 2008 at 12:15 p.m., the Missoula City-County Air Pollution Control Board will hold a public hearing concerning the Department’s decision to issue an air quality permit to T&T Contracting for a gravel crusher operation at the Monroe Pit near River Road and Reserve Street, Missoula County (at Section 17 Township 13N, Range 19W.) The hearing will be held in teh second floor conference room at 301 West Alder. Public comment will be accepted by the Board at the hearing. Interested persons may also submit written comments to the Board on or before December 16, 2008 at 301 W Alder St., Missoula, MT 59802 or by emailing Bob Schmidt at A copy of the permit, administrative hearing proceedings and the department’s responses to public comment is available by contacting the Environmental Health Division, 258-4755 and at

The pit is located in a county inholding – an island of county-zoned land, surrounded by city zoned land. The city can’t annex industrial or agricultural land, so the operation – despite it’s affects on the surrounding residential neighbornood – isn’t subject to city laws.

There are currently no gravel crushing operations at the site – but this newly issued permit will allow one to operate. It will also add electrical generators. T&T is a new business that will be operating there.

Neighbors in the River Road neighborhood where the pit is located have dealt with numerous health issues for years. Overwhelming dust, trucks running 24/7. They’ve witnessed violations of heavy equipment incursions into the river. Pages 3 and 4 of the minutes from a previously held meeting detail the conundrums presented by this county inholding and its status in state law. Jim Carlson sums it up here:

The state of Montana does provide for public nuisance type lawsuits and individual lawsuits, even though the government may not be able to be involved in those. That’s something that you may want to talk to your own attorney’s about. I’m just trying to give an overview of the fact that there isn’t a holistic permitting process. I think we’re one of the only permits that provides for the ability to have public review and public comment on the permit. It’s unfortunate but this is the way it is. To that extent, you know, it’s important that you comment to your legislature that you would like to see some things changed. Certainly with regard to noise ordinances, that may be something that could be accomplished in this upcoming session.

Frankly, this pit is a nuisance on the mere existence of it and the danger it faces to the whole community. This past year’s high water event – nothing compared to what the Clark Fork will will eventually bring to town – threatened to capture this very gravel operation and make an end run around the Reserve Street Clark Fork bridge.

Think traffic is bad now?

Imagine the City severed by no Reserve Street bridge? Imagine the emergency issues…the traffic.

Consider this: This past year’s high water event really wasn’t atypical. Talk to old timers and they’ll tell you. And water came darned close to capturing that operation as it was.

That operation down there is not only a nuisance to the neighborhood, it’s a nuisance to MDOT, to the State of Montana. Think of the astronomical cost it would present should that bridge be effectively castrated. It’s a nuisance to the City, to the County and the taxpayers of the entire state.

Think of how communities around the state will feel when highway funds are redirected to build Missoula a new bridge when a major state highway – perhaps the state’s busiest? – is severed because of gravel pit next to the river where everyone with any common sense knew that the darned thing would be captured by a high water event one day.

So while the Director of Environmental Health Jim Carlson says that “The state of Montana does provide for public nuisance type lawsuits and individual lawsuits, even though the government may not be able to be involved in those,” I think he is slightly wrong there.

While I’m being critical here of Carlson’s statement, when you read through the minutes, it seems apparent to me that there is a certain level of frustration coming from the City-County Health Department with regards to the operations located there adjacent to the river.

I point out that this bridge is a nuisance because:
#1 – this neighborhood needs help.
#2 – this nuisance is more than just a neighborhood issue
#3 – waiting for the inevitable – the river will eventually capture this pit and make an end run around the bridge – is ridiculously foolish and cost.

Yee gads, someone: Do something before we’re without a bridge and stuck holding a multi-million dollar years long cluster of a mess to fix.

by jhwygirl

Andrea Palm, Senior Health Policy Advisor to Senator Hillary Clinton is coming to town for a special Progressive Happy Hour, sponsored by Forward Montana.

Reforming our Health Care System is this coming Thursday at the Badlander. The event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 5, and the presentation by Ms. Palm begins at 5:30.

Palm serves on Clinton’s senate staff, and Senator Clinton sits on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee. Palm handles the Senator’s health committee work as well as her health agenda more broadly.

This is a pretty darn unique opportunity to discuss reforming our healthcare system with a top political expert in the field.

For more information on the event, click on the Forward Montana link, above. For more specifics on Clinton’s healthcare proposal, click this.

by jhwygirl

Denise Juneau, candidate for Superintendent of Schools. Could that be Molly, from Forward Montana nearby?

I had quite a few of Missoula’s Senator Dave Wanzenried…

I spied Mike McGrath, our current Attorney General and the next Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court, during Barack’s speech.

Shane Mason, of Montana Netroots, was the first to poach the floor and go for the deviled eggs. He said he just had to have one! (Truth is, it ended up being 5 or 6.)

Local Missoula Dems know this guy, Denver Henderson, is going places! Congrats to the Mr. & Mrs. on that new house too!

Matt Singer, CEO of Forward Montana, looking spiffy in a suit!

Does 4&20 get submittals? Why yes it does! From George Parisot to my inbox, George provides us with this lovely shot of some rowdies up in the stands!

Thanks George!

by Jamee Greer

There’s been a lot of talk about how this campaign is about race and gender but we know there is more at stake. There are 37,000 children in Montana who are uninsured and need your help! Join Forward Montana as we gather as many as 10,000 signatures for the Healthy Montana Kids Initiative, register voters, and rally fake doctors for the Med School later this month – all at the Adams Center on Saturday morning!

Forward Montana is calling for 150 volunteers, with 150 clipboards and 150 cups of coffee – to do 150 volunteer shifts on Saturday morning!

We’ll meet on campus at 7am, location TBA.

Singles, students, families, fake doctors, pink bunnies, registered voters, and the mobilized are encouraged to come along!

We’ll provide coffee and breakfast, clipboards and pens. You provide the energy to succeed, the will to create change, and let’s win Montana!

Have an outstanding Day4Democracy you’d like to fill? Wanna help volunteer with Forward Montana? We’ll be hitting Adams Center early on Saturday morning to register voters and gather signatures for the Healthy Montana Kids Initiative – and we need your help!

Now’s our chance!

Contact Jamee Greer at, or call 406/542-VOTE

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 Pete Talbot

There’s a great write up on the Forward Montana flap over at the mother of all progressive blog sites, Daily Kos. I don’t know mcjoan, the author of the piece, but she(?) hit the nail on the head.

There were many kudos and pledges of money in the comments section. There were even a couple of nice mentions of 4&20 blackbirds.

It looks like this little right-wing tirade over Matt and Forward Montana has backfired.

by Pete Talbot

There were a number of nuggets in today’s (Friday, Nov. 2) Missoulian. We’ll start out with a shout out.

4&20 Blackbirds’ founding father, Jay Stevens, made the paper’s In Business Monthly insert. This month’s theme: “Movers and Shakers.” Don’t be fooled by the story’s erroneous headline. It really is about Jay. Check it out.

Reporter Keila Szpaller did my homework for me and pulled up the campaign contributions to city council candidates. A couple of things struck me:

Missoula’s Republican Party has more money than Missoula’s Democratic Party. I guess this isn’t breaking news. The Republicans maxed out ($650 per candidate, per election cycle) to Armintrout, Nicholson, Ballas, Hellegaard, Mitchell and Schneller.

The Democrats gave $100 each to Wiener, Walzer, Rye, Prescott and Childers.

The Republicans gave money to both the candidates in Ward 4 (Ballas and Hellegaard). I guess they’re trying to keep the peace within the party.

Ward 3 candidate Doug Harrison didn’t take any party money. Was this because of altruism or because Ward 3 trends Democrat? (As a former Republican council member, the donation to his campaign would have most likely come from the Republican Party, which might not play well in that ward.) Either way, it was a smart move on his part.

Finally, the majority of Democratic endorsed candidates received their money from small, individual contributions. The majority of Republican endorsed candidates got most of their money from either the Republican Party or donations out of their own pockets. There were exceptions to this in both parties, however.

There was a letter to the editor from perennial gadfly Warren Little, which was full of misinformation and the usual caustic comments, but only one mention of the New Party. It seems that his new whipping boy is Forward Montana. The folks at FM must be doing good work to draw Little’s ire. It’s a badge of honor to be targeted by Warren.

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