Archive for the ‘Jerry Ballas’ 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.

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 Rebecca Schmitz

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own personal narrative of local politics, we forget to look past the obvious. For instance, in any discussion, liberal or conservative, certain members of City Council who vote together are seen as a solid entity. This is true whether it’s the “liberal-progressive” wing of the Council or the old war horses napping–literally–on the other side of the aisle. That’s why this is initially surprising:

I support her 100%. I believe she’ll be a great addition to the Council, and someone we can all work with.

That’s Councilman Jon Wilkins on Ward Four candidate Lyn Hellegaard. It’s on her latest campaign flyer, which arrived in my mailbox yesterday along with my voting ballot. Yes, it’s Ward Four’s Jon Wilkins–who’s usually mentioned in the same breath with his ward’s incumbent, Councilman Jerry Ballas, in any discussion of the voting patterns of the conservatives on Missoula’s City Council. Many see these two as part of the same voting block as Councilmen John Hendrickson, Dick Haines, Don Nicholson and (every now and again) Jack Reidy. I guess that block crumbles as easily as the bricks made from local clay in Missoula’s historic downtown buildings.

Jhwygirl asked, in her last post, if we know what we’re getting with Lyn. Thanks to this endorsement, I think we do.

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 Rebecca Schmitz

Yesterday my mailbox contained a bill (What else is new?) and a Lyn Hellegaard campaign flier. Just for those who live outside Missoula, Lyn is running for City Council in Ward Four against the incumbent, Councilman Jerry Ballas. According to this flier, Lyn is touting herself as “Your voice in City Government”. I assume there are some basic differences between her and Ballas when it comes to current and future city policy, but at first glance I can’t really tell what those differences are on this rectangular piece of paper. Here’s Lyn on zoning:

I will vote against any changes to the zoning ordinances that could denigrate the integrity of our neighborhoods or affect property values.

Well, that’s Jerry’s position too. After all, he’s the guy who sued his next-door neighbors over their infill project: a nice single-family home in a comfortable middle-class neighborhood. Looks like if you live in Ward Four, and are against infill it’s a win-win situation for you as a voter. But wait a minute. Hellegaard takes a swipe at Ballas further down the page under the heading “Spending Priorities”:

Why can we find several million in the budget for swimming pools, but are contemplating the creation of special taxing districts to build neighborhood sidewalks and maintain city streets and parks?

That’s a reference to Jerry’s support of Missoula’s aquatics project, the cost of which has been growing steadily thanks to the controversy over public versus private funding of the construction of the the 50-meter outdoor competitive pool. However, in an earlier interview in the Missoulian, Lyn admitted she might not be able to continue her conservative approach to Missoula’s “spending priorities”:

She wasn’t above admitting she could be wrong on the state of the city’s finances. “Maybe when I get in there, I’ll find out there’s absolutely no other way,” she said.

Oh well. It was a good attempt at distinguishing herself from the incumbent.

Finally, there’s this statement on Lyn’s flier next to “Business Support”:

Members of the Missoula business community see our City Government as an adversary. I want an attitude of aggressive support for business as part of the make-up of City Hall.

I think everyone can agree that Missoula needs good paying jobs and businesses that contribute to our economy. However, I have to wonder what “aggressive support” entails. No development impact fees? Fine, that’s what a lot of candidates are saying. Nothing new there. What about welcoming a polluting industry? How about tax breaks for businesses considering opening facilities here? Encouraging subdivisions and sprawl? Or maybe Lyn’s got something grander in mind. A vision for the city along the lines of Destination Montana, perhaps. Remember the billion-dollar gambling resort that was supposed to bring fame and fortune to Butte? That was pretty “aggressive”. Or it may just be that “aggressive” is politico-speak for “I’m very different from my opponent.” That would be fine except Jerry Ballas isn’t exactly known as some wild-eyed liberal hell-bent on taxing industry out of existence.

It seems that Ward Four has a choice this November. It’s between the same and more of the same.

by Rebecca Schmitz

Our man, Denver Henderson, may have gone down to defeat in the City Council primary last night, but there is an upside to these election results and it’s all in the numbers.

Ward 4

Jerry Ballas 748

Lyn Hellegaard 584

Denver Henderson 479

Alan Ault 403

Joseph Gorsh 128

Whether you voted for Denver, Lyn, Alan or Joseph, that’s 1,594 votes against Jerry Ballas. Clearly there’s some dissatisfaction with Councilman Ballas in Ward Four. Come November, how many voters who chose one of the four will vote for Lyn? How many will hold their noses and vote for Ballas? And how many will just write in Denver Henderson on the ballot?

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.)

Continue Reading »

by Jay Stevens

All you need to know about Ward 4’s incumbent council member, Jerry Ballas, is summarized in a letter written by Missoula Republican, Jim Lee Farnsworth, to the Missoulian:

… at the center of conflict there’s always an instigator. And at the center of every major conflict plaguing the council sits one man: Jerry Ballas. Although I’m a Republican, I can’t ignore what the council’s history shows us. Ballas drags the city into lawsuits against his neighbors, ties up meetings with arbitrary objections and heel-dragging, and has said publicly on numerous occasions he would rather the public stay at home and let the council do its work.

Republicans have gotten a bad name for being divisive, and we don’t need Ballas fanning the flames of this perception. Public input is healthy for the council. Debate and discussion are good for democracy. Yet it’s too easy to sabotage this process by excluding the public and fueling conflict to keep progress at bay. It’s important that the folks in Ward 4 vote for someone other than Jerry Ballas. Regardless of party affiliation, we need a team player – someone who brings people together instead of dividing them apart.

(I added the links to stories related to Farnsworth’s claims.)

Even paleo-rightie, Scoop, couldn’t bring himself to endorse Ballas, and opted instead for Lyn Hellegaard. (So if you’re of a hard-right mentality, I’d go with Scoop’s recommendation.)

My man is Denver Henderson. I endorse him without hesitation.

You could read his Q&A with the Missoulian, but because those things don’t really say much about the candidates’ actual positions, I thought I’d post some of Henderson’s positions on growth and development he gave to the Missoula Democrats.

On inclusionary zoning:

Unfortunately despite broad consensus from the community, city council has done very little to address the housing crisis in Missoula . They had an excellent opportunity to identify policies, like inclusionary zoning, that can be used to encourage developers to build with middle class residents in mind. However the only thing they were able to agree on, is that it is a problem. In spring of 2006 I worked with students, both conservative and liberal, to pass a resolution from student government encouraging city council to support inclusionary zoning. We need the same leadership that will work with both sides of the aisle in order to move forward on this issue, and that in essence is why I am running.

On impact fees:

I prefer impact fees and the creation of specialty improvement districts (SID) rather than raising property taxes to pay for city improvements. Convincing the legislature to raise property taxes would be nearly impossible. However, if we are going to continue to provide quality services for Missoula residents we have to find some way to pay for them. Furthermore, it is only fair to ask the individuals deriving the greatest benefit from the project to pay for the bulk of those improvements. I think it is imperative that proposed SIDs have the support of the affected public, prior to their creation. Similarly I will not use my position on council to impeded progress when there is strong public support for a project.

On a most-responsible bidder process for contractors:

There seems to be a sentiment being perpetuated in this country that insists on paying the absolute bottom dollar for a good or service. Unfortunately this race to the bottom has sacrificed the quality of our products and contributed to the stagnation of wages in various sectors across the country. I believe we have an obligation as individuals to support companies that offer livable wages for American workers. I believe we also have an obligation as a city to invest in quality infrastructure by using responsible employers that provide good wages and benefits to local workers, most importantly health coverage.

It’s time that Ward 4 replaces a divisive presence on the council, a man who has impeded that body’s ability to make rational, long-term decisions for the city of Missoula . Ballas seems to consistently favor developers over homeowners and city residents, except when development occurs next to his house, and often works against providing infrastructure for the city. (The latest is his effort to kill the Higgins Hill/Beckwith roundabout, which is intended to calm traffic next to Paxson elementary, the same intersection where 14-year-old Colin Heffernan was killed in a traffic accident. Over 50 percent of all Paxson students walk to school.)

Denver , on the other hand, favors policies that clearly consider the community as a whole: homeowners as well as developers, workers as well as employers. He’s had experience working successfully as a lobbyist for the state’s university students on bipartisan measures in the 2006 state legislature – the most partisan and bitter in recent memory –making it clear he won’t be a force for division on the city council.

Denver ’s also a good friend. He’s no guttersnipe partisan hack – like yrs. trly – but a soft-spoken, idealistic, and thoughtful man who’s genuinely interested in public service.

It’s time for good government, everywhere. You can begin to put this country back together piece by piece, starting in Missoula’s own Ward 4. Vote for Denver Henderson.

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