Archive for the ‘Missoula City Council’ Category

By JC

not-in-my-town

In a stunning vote of 7-3, Missoula’s City Council amended Missoula Municipal Code Title 9, entitled “Public Peace, Morals and Welfare,” Chapter 9.34 entitled “Pedestrian Interference”. The amendment included the following definition of “sit”:

H. “Sit” means to be in a position in which your bottom is resting on a chair, the ground, etc. with your back upright.

The Council then applied the new definition of “sitting” to the following activities:

A. It is unlawful for any person to sit, lie or sleep on a sidewalk within twenty (20)  feet of an entrance to a building, or to sit, lie or sleep upon any street or alley, within the city limits.

B. It is unlawful for any person to sit, lie or sleep on a public sidewalk, or upon a blanket, chair, stool, or any other object placed upon a public sidewalk during the hours between 6:00 am and 11:00 pm in the Downtown Business Improvement District of Missoula;

While the Council did make exceptions for certain things like medical emergencies and when they “authorize” protesters to exercise first amendment rights (how nice of them!), and permitting restaurants that want to expand their occupancy numbers by allowing sidewalk seating, it appears that the baby stroller lobby didn’t have enough clout to grant them an exemption to the new ordinance.

But fear not, babes sitting with their “bottoms” resting on a chair with wheels (or will strollers be grandfathered in under a disability provision to use a “wheelchair”?), you are in good company with Missoula’s finest of homeless citizens. You have been added to the list of obstructionists getting in the way of “upstanding” citizens utilizing their lawful right to walk the sidewalks of Missoula unimpeded by strollers.

Cyclists, be aware that your sitting on the seat of your bicycle while on a sidewalk may be interpreted as a violation of this ordinance, too. Let’s see how the local police determine to proceed with that apparent violation.

It will be interesting to see if Missoula’s men in blue understand all citizens’ rights to Equal Protection under the Constitution’s 14th Amendment by fairly implementing the law. If we can get enough baby strollers ticketed, maybe the City can escape the inevitable charges of selective enforcement, and violating homeless peoples’ civil rights to occupy public space. Or for violating homeless peoples’ rights under the 8th Amendment to sleeping on the streets and sidewalks of Missoula.

Welcome to the expansion of the nanny state in Missoula. Outraged? Here’s a good place to start…

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by jhwygirl

In what is either another misguided attempt or act of malfeasance in search of affordable housing, Missoula City Council approved Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s) for all residential zones.

I’ve written once about this ADU proposal. My main objection is the negative impact it is going to have on affordable housing. Other issues are just as valid, such as the higher taxes it will bring. Enforcement is a huge issue for many, the city notorious for not wanting to enforce stuff (like fireworks?) Council also didn’t provide much for convincing answers to how they could enforce the “owner occupied” portion of the law – especially when questioned about previous legal opinions to the contrary.

So I see this story in the Missoulian from city government reporter Keila Szpaller and I just shake my head. There is a picture of an advocate for ADU’s – Ms. Brown is quoted as saying “ADUs are not the end of the world. They are not the end of Missoula as we know it. They are another affordable housing option, and as an older individual, I’m looking for those.”

BUT – read the caption under the photo which accompanies the article, and the advocate for affordable housing says she wants to build a cottage to rent out the main house.

I ask you: How is that creating affordable housing? Ms. Brown, who owns a house, is going to build a guest cottage to live in and then she’s going to rent out her university district home. Now – I’m sure this has already been all worked out, but let me explain how this is going to work because now we’ve been given such a clear example.

Occupant of said house – who is likely having trouble keeping up with property taxes, in addition to having a need to downsize – is going to go to the bank and present the finance officer with a plan for how much they are going to rent the main house. Estimating taxes, costs and revenues, they’ll then offer their home as collateral.

Bam! Property values have increased for that lot because of the improvements. So the neighbors next door with a family and two working incomes who were able to afford their 3 bedroom home are now faced with a tidy uptick in their property values. And the cycle goes on.

The comments on Ms. Szpaller’s story don’t miss that, either.

A motion was made to have the ADU proposal go to the voters, but that was struck down. No surprise there – the city had previously taken a city-wide survey to prove how everyone like the idea and the results were that a majority was not in support of the proposal.

In the end, Councilors Jason Wiener, Alex Taft, Cynthia Wolken, Bob Jaffe, Ed Childers, Mike O’Herron, and Marilyn Marler voted for the ADU’s – and Jon Wilkins, Adam Hertz, Caitlin Copple, Dave Strohmaier and Dick Haines voting no.

So THANK YOU Jon, Adam, Caitlin, Dave and Dick for voting no.

The city’s going to get sued. They pretty much know that. The truth is, they don’t really care. The city has insurance coverage for this type of thing, so their cost is minimal as opposed to the organizing of funds that the opponents are going to have to do to hire an attorney.

Sad. It’s really a nasty thing when government – whether it be town, city, county, state or federal – takes the position that “you can’t sue city hall.” They have their staff and insurance pool of attorneys – any individual or group has to then step up and get the job done. I believe that is the case here, illustrated by the city’s previous survey, and Monday’s night failed vote to take it to the voters.

In this case, I have no doubt. Myra Shults has been out in front of this for a while. I may be wrong, but I believe she used to be a Montana Association of Counties (MACo) staff attorney for land use issues. Ms Shults was also up front and center with the gravel pit issue down near Lolo back several years ago.

Ms Shults was successful in that the gravel pit was halted – and without her involvement, I don’t know that it would have happened.

I may even donate some popcorn money to the cause.

by jhwygirl

There is nothing that city council can do that will cause more permanent harm to any semblance of affordable housing in this valley than to approve their current rezoning of the whole city for ADU’s (Accessory Dwelling Units.)

Beyond that truth, the latest back-and-forth on this insane proposal is the question surrounding the city’s plan to require the owner of an ADU to live on premises. Questions have run the gamut of “Can the city even enforce this?” to “How would the city even enforce this?”

The Missoulian’s Keila Szpaller’s latest delves into this issue along with other very real possibilities that any reasonable entity should consider before writing something that they actually intend to enforce.

What I have said to myself over these questions the last two weeks – and this is when I really regret not having a Missoulian account with which to comment – is this: How or Could the city enforce this? They aren’t enforcing their current ordinances on ADU’s! Why would any presume that they would enforce this new everyone-can-have-one rule when they aren’t enforcing their current rules on dwelling units?

And isn’t there an inherent conflict of interest on the council for 2 or more city council people? Councilors who own and/or live in an illegal ADU?

The mere fact that their association with illegal ADU’s has been openly discussed in public meetings is proof enough of the intent of the city to enforce its owner-must-live-on-site rule. To think any different is really rather irrational.

I also can’t help but ponder the silence of affordable housing advocates. The idea that the city council is going to turn every square inch of this city into an “investment property” by doubling the density potential on single-family dwelling zoned neighborhoods is absolutely insane. Depending on the design standards they end up settling on, you can add 10-20% (at least) on top of the value of a lot in what is currently a single-family zoned area.

With a unit already built? Who knows what that’ll pull down. Oh – and you can bet that a potential ADU will be a selling point on those selling who haven’t built one yet. Add on a premium for that!

Will it be good for the city? Property values will increase because instead of buying a single family home, new buyers will be writing proforma’s to show the bank how the rental of an ADU will increase their income. This will increase the amount of property taxes collected. Is that good for the city? I guess it depends on how you look at it.

I am sitting back just shaking my head. But then again, I did that when the bailed out the ballpark. And the affordable housing project for a second time. And when they blessed the sale of our water. And when they seriously considered an Arts Center. And when they accepted an RFP from a developer who said they had to have a prime piece of real estate for free in order to make their proposal work.

Election season can’t come soon enough..

by jhwygirl

It’s so bassackwards that I just have to ask: How could cops and fire personnel that live outside of the community be a good thing? And OK thing?

I ask that in the context of the what seems to be the current pressing issue for the City of Missoula right now. And while I say that a little snarky, I actually do think it important that city employees live in the city. Especially department heads and…dare I say it…police and fire.

The Missoulian’s Keila Szpaller went to work immediately after Wednesday’s committee meeting, it seems, as this morning’s paper brought us the news that the majority of the city’s top cops live outside of the city.

Below I’m going to print Bob Jaffe’s listserv committee report, a sort of informal – but still public – discussion on city issues.

I’ll also point out that while Jaffe retells City of Missoula Police Chief Muir comments in committee on Wednesday by saying “Police chief Muir spoke against the proposal telling us he moved to the county for the higher quality of life and likely would not have taken the job as police chief if this rule were in place,” he takes no effort to dispel Muir’s contention.

Jaffe continues, seemingly acknowledging the superior quality of life in the county – which is a little peculiar coming from a city councilor, no? I mean, is it not an odd public introspection of his and his fellow councilor’s work? Bob’s been on council for more than 6 years now, I’m pretty sure.

Anyways……Jaffe’s full report below the fold, to make sure you have the full context. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Much was a-twitter the last few days on the lack of enforcement of the prohibition on fireworks within city limits. I, myself, gave up calling in fireworks violations last year. I think it was 2010 when the fairly new duplex down the street caught fire late in the evening. The upstairs resident was awakened by his 6 month old golden retriever (thankfully) and they escaped, and the home was saved.

I had called police twice that evening. Later, the fire marshal said they didn’t have enough evidence for any sort of investigation.

No one died, I guess.

It seems each year the Missoulian (I’m protesting putting in links tonight folks) does a perennial story on the complaints on fireworks, how many calls the police got and a nice little pr piece where a city official – elected or paid – stands there and talks about how ‘education is better’ and ‘warnings are usually effective’ statements.

Well, this year Detective Sargent Travis Welsh just told it like it really is – city police aren’t going to enforce the fireworks prohibition ordinance. Here’s Det. Sgt. Welsh on NBC news station KECI:

For those that can’t hit the video, here’s what Det. Sgt. Welsh says:

“Considering the volume of calls and the volume of people who are actually violating the ordinance…it would be a fruitless effort to try to throw everybody in jail for a minor offense.”

Before people going chewing on me for “hysterics”, consider the hysterics put forth by Det. Sgt. Welsh: He says it would be a “fruitless effort to try and throw everybody in jail for a minor offense” when such offense is not a criminal offense.

Per city municipal code, “The penalty for violating any provisions of this chapter shall solely be a fine of up to five hundred and no/100 dollars ($500.00). There shall be no penalty of imprisonment for a violation of any provision of this chapter. (Ord. 2983, 1996)”

What we really have here is a message to all Missoulians that you can do fireworks whenever you want – because we’re not going to enforce them.

Dare I suggest that if the city of police would put two officers on bikes next year – one on the northside, and one in misdemeanor meadows and felony flats – they could hand out $500 tickets, one per half hour and put an end to the onslaught of fireworks real quick.

That is, of course, if anyone wanted that ordinance enforced. Doesn’t seem, though, that anyone cares – keep in mind Det. Sgt. Welsh looked pretty comfortable standing there telling KECI that he wasn’t going to enforce the ordinance because of the sheer number of calls.

Geez – with that logic, it has me wondering what we should try and get away with next…just make sure everyone calls it in to the cops.

It’s not just pets that suffer…and it isn’t just the danger it presents to roofs and backyard party-goers – keep in mind here in Missoula (at least) how many veterans we have. PTSD, folks. I’ve told the story of my encounter with someone who has it…I can’t imagine how hearing $250 worth of rockets go off at midnight would feel for him.

We’ll regulate texting and driving because of the danger it presents, but fireworks? What goes up must come down.

Not like Montana’s burning, either.

by jhwygirl

Missoula Mayor John Engen apologized today in an email to all city employees…only, as Lizard points out, it was more likely born out of being caught than truly giving a shit about impinging on free speech.

And for evidence of that, I point to the last two paragraphs of Sunday’s Missoulian piece. It’s pretty clear that up until darn near press time, Engen was still justifying his position of trying to silence Officer Geoff Curtis:

On Friday, Engen termed Curtis “pretty passionate about his university. It was just one of those situations where it probably was not the most appropriate choice, given what his career choice is.”

While Engen said “there was an offer (to apologize) during a particular meeting. I don’t think we need to do it today.”

Later, he texted the Missoulian to say that “Curtis is a really good young officer and his was a minor mistake born of good intentions.”

Yeah. So he apologized. Only after what was probably a hundred phone calls and him trying to figure out how he could sit through the city council public meeting tonight.

A thanks to councilperson Adam Hertz for first bringing that letter to our attention. Mr. Hertz posted the entire contents of Mayor Engen’s comments here in this comment.

And once again I offer a super huge THANKS to reporter Gwen Florio and the Missoulian for the continued investigation into this sexual assault and rape scandal enveloping the City of Missoula, County Attorney Fred Van Valkenberg’s office and the University of Montana. And extra thanks to her for those last two paragraphs above. That’s attention to detail – and makes a difference even today, imo.

by jhwygirl

Tucked in last week’s story on councilman and Democratic congressional candidate Dave Strohmaier and his fellow councilman Jon Wilkins bringing back the cell phone ordinance for more discussion “based on successful work in other communities,” was a little sentence or two that made me wonder just how aggressive city cops were willing to go to enforce Missoula’s texting-while-driving law

You know – the story where Jon Wilkins was quoted as saying “I think the cellphone usage is out of control in Missoula,” and that it was “just going to get worse”?

Tucked in that story were these two paragraphs, with my emphasis added:

There have been a significant number of changes around the country and the state of Montana since Missoula has undertaken to pass our no-texting-while-driving ordinance,” said Muir, who noted that April happens to be National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

It’s hard to tell if someone is texting or dialing, and police have issued just 12 citations since the law took effect, Muir said. A motorcycle cop wrote half of those because from his vantage point on the bike, it was easier to look down at a driver and see that the motorist was, in fact, texting.

Goddess bless Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller, btw. She gets those details – and most of the time probably wonders why no one ever notices.

Of 12 citations written, one cop has written half of those citations because from his vantage point it was easier to look down on the driver and see that the motorist was texting?

Really? Is he doing this while riding his bike? Or while he is stopped at a light or sign next to or behind the driver?

I don’t want to sound theatrical or unreasonable, but what ever happened to reasonable cause? The right to…awww, let’s just go right to the U.S. Constitution, Fourth Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I recognize that police have a dangerous job. I consider myself pretty well-informed of the risks they take every day when the put on that uniform and go to work. But that being said, I can’t not for the life of me imagine how one cop has managed to rack up 50% of the tickets for texting-while-driving on reasonable cause suspicions that led to him looking into the laps of drivers.

It also makes me wonder what other tickets he’s given out and under what circumstances.

Wilkins thinks cell phone use is “out of control”? I’m thinking we’ve got the cops using that cell phone ordinance for more that what it was intended.

And one cop who might be a little “out of control.”

4th Amendment be damned, Missoula! We might have someone texting-while-driving! Even while stopped at a light!

by jhwygirl

A little over two weeks ago we wrote about developments at the old Fox Theater site, including the developer’s request to get the city-owned riverfront property – valued at nearly $3 million I believe – for nothing and a grassroots citizen’s group comprised of labor, transportation and natural resource advocates who were seeking a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) from the developer in order to (a) ensure a true community benefit to the project given that it was city-owned land and (b) garner public support for their proposal.

There were some good reads at that last post on CBA’s, including this one from the Federal Reserve and this one from Cornell University.

Since then, this project is looking more like a potential boondoggle (read: O-s-p-r-e-y–S-t-a-d-i-u-m) given that the developers are asking for a right of first refusal agreement on the parcel in exchange for the $40,000 market study they’d need to do.

A right of first refusal for land they’ve already said they need to get for nothing in order to be viable?

The Farren Group & its investors propose a $37.6 million hotel and conference center and now they want to do a market study? And they want an exclusive agreement in exchange for a $40,000 market study that is 1/10th of 1% of the cost of the project they proposed?

In the real world, they’d be paying the owner of the property for such an exclusive deal. A private property owner would laugh at such a proposal.

And according to the Missoulian, last week’s report out of city council’s Administration & Finance committee indicates that council is prepared to hand that over to them, despite the well-attended appearance of the Community Benefits Coalition at the committee meeting, and the unwillingness of the developer to even discuss such an agreement.

If they’re doing a market study, shouldn’t it include all possible knowns and variables? Wouldn’t construction labor be a significant component?

In the previous post, there were three parts to the CBA agreement. So far, Pat Corrick of the Farren Group has been provided the card-check neutrality agreement and the project labor agreement. Given the speed at which this project has moved forward in the last two weeks (why the rush?), the final portion related to design issues such as pathways and parking has yet to be finalized.

Corrick’s response to the requests by the CBC to discuss the proposals? He told the CBC that he ‘wasn’t interested in negotiating on this right now,’ and that he might be ‘when the market study is done.’

Councilperson Bob Jaffe mentioned the CBC on his Missoula.gov listserv after Wednesday’s A&F committee meeting:

The CBC folks really wanted us to withhold the exclusivity agreement until they were able to negotiate with the developers but we weren’t really interested in that. I’m hoping we can come up with something by Monday that gives them some kind of seat at the table during the negotiation period. The development group is asking for a lot of public money in this project so I think it is reasonable for them to make some concessions for our community value and concerns. Based on their presentation I’m pretty sure we are all sharing a mostly common vision for this project. I’m pretty optimistic they can all work together to come up with something we are all happy with.

Might be nice if they gave the CBC more than a few days before Monday’s meeting to try and work things out. What’s the rush…or why the rush? Shouldn’t the public fully vet this project? Especially given the recent events surrounding the Osprey stadium site?

What is the “common vision” for this project? Did that all come out in this one public committee meeting and two news articles over the last 2 1/2 weeks?

Missoula economist and all-too-infrequent-4&20 contributor Ross Keogh offers on interesting concession that I’d think should be wholeheartedly considered – with some vetting with the council, the community and the CBC: The leasing of the site to the developer. That would garner quite a monetary incentive to the developer with the reduction in property tax rate which would have the development only taxed on improvements and not the publicly-owned land.

How can Missoula even see a community benefit to this project and why are we considering granting these guys a right of first refusal agreement when they refuse to even discuss the project with the members of the community and the CBC? What exactly are the “obvious benefits” to which city council refers?

Let’s take some time to define those and see that the community is on the same page.

Bozeman has a developer begging on them to sell them a $2.3 million property downtown that would require them to tear down a garage before they build their exclusive hotel…and Missoula’s racing to give away a rivefront parcel already scraped and ready to develop just a few short months after having bought back its own property on the opposite side of the riverbank.

All without even a guarantee of living wage paying jobs.

Conservatives and liberals alike should look very carefully at any development wishing free things – including this exclusive agreemen – when the only thing they’ve dangled out there is a market study that is a drivel of the price of the hotel they’ve somehow convince MRA they are capable of building.

by jhwygirl

Not sure how this is flying under the radar – and maybe there’s a reason, huh? – but Missoula Redevelopment Authority (MRA) has apparently set its sights on the Hotel Fox LLC for redevelopment of the old Fox Theater site.

Back in the spring, MRA put out the call for proposals on the site, proposals being due June 30. Only two applications were considered to be complete, and the favorite which immediately surfaced to the top was the 200 – 250 room hotel with conference center proposal from Hotel Fox LLC.

Hotel Fox LLC is partnered with the Farren Group, a housing developer that’s done projects here in Missoula, Lambros Realty, and the high-end The Lodge at Whitefish Lake LLC.

Dieter Huckestein, former VP and President of the Hilton Hotels..and former president and chief executive officer of Yellowstone Club World, the world’s premier private club, appears to be financially interested in the project. Which certainly gives this proposal credibility (unlike that ridiculous Bitterroot Resort proposal from a few years back.)

Let’s hope the City or MRA doesn’t get a wild hair in their head that starts telling them they need to give the land away. I’m too lazy to go digging for the 2006 or 2007 appraisal that was done down there for that property. MRA did two appraisals as I recall, one was an appraisal for each of the two lots and the other an appraisal for the two lots valued as being sold together. Maybe some astute reader remembers those figures?

I say that knowing that “developers” are involved and this community has placed a certain priority on development of that Fox Theater site. Given the economy, we’ll certainly hear excuses for why they “developers” should get the site and a sale price of $1 because “that’s the only way these projects get done,” and the ‘just think of the economic benefit’ cry.

Didn’t we hear that with the Osprey Stadium deal?

Here in Montana, we can certainly call hog-wash on that sort of argument, it seems to me: The City of Bozeman is getting ready to entertain offers on the sale of its downtown parking garage, valued at $1.5M, for a high-end downtown hotel.

Here in Missoula, extracting that economic and community benefit of any large scale or high profile project has always been a pretty nebulous thing if you ask me. I still ponder whether the Osprey Stadium, with it’s hefty public money influx, has given back that which went into it….and while a lot of people might groan on that, there’s a whole hell of a lot more imo that are with the cynics like me on that project.

And Safeway? Missoula got a great looking grocery story, I think (?) …but wasn’t something supposed to happen with the old Safeway site too? Wasn’t that a part of the discussion? And now it sits?

Who do we trust to extract a real economic and community benefit?

For a few months here in Missoula a group of labor, community, transportation and environmental activists – and concerned citizens – have begun a discussion on how to bring good jobs to Missoula. Jobs that are both clean and living-wage. The proposal for development on the MRA-owned Fox Theater site looks to be an opportunity for these groups to actually coalesce around forming what many communities have been doing for the last decade: a Community Benefits Coalition (CBC).

I’ve done a bit of background reading on this concept, and the cynic in me loves it – what a Community Benefits Coalition does is it forms a contractually binding agreement between the developer and the CBC that ensures completion of a project that meets the definition of what the community defines as a benefit.

Again – given the track record of the city on these deals…..

Here in Missoula, some of those groups discussing a CBC for this project are the Missoula Area Central Labor Council (AFL-CIO), UNITE HERE! Local 427, the Western Montana Building Trades and Labor Council, The Clark Fork Coalition and the local Sierra Club chapter. These orgs are meeting with other orgs this week in an effort to build the broadest coalition of partners.

Current goals are for a package of proposals which include a card-check neutrality agreement (which says the employer will be neutral in any union organizing campaign and will accept union representation should a majority of the employees decide to unionize), a project labor agreement (which ensures quality wages, benefits and working conditions for labor on the construction project) and a document which ensures meaningful input into the design, transportation, parking and public spaces that will be affected by the project.

Pretty soon here Hotel Fox LLC is going to want – is going to need – a more firm assurance from MRA and the City of Missoula that the old riverfront theater site will more assuredly be theirs should their project be truly economically viable. Most certainly that economic viability part will come from a marketing study, the cost being somewhere in the $25,000 range.

Hotel Fox and Dieter Huckestein have already told MRA that if they are to put out that $25,000, they need to have exclusive development rights.

Now – it sure seems to me that these guys are asking a whole hell of a lot from the City of Missoula for a $25,000 marketing study. If they want the right to a non-competitive exclusive development right, let’s hope there’s a real community benefit.

In other words, I’d love for someone to be smart about this, and my money is on a CBC.

I’m hopeful that we get a Community Benefits Coalition together here in this project…because I know that developers love to prey on communities in these scared economic times…and Missoula needs to tread carefully on any deal surrounding the Fox Theater site.

The community benefit must be clear, and must be real. It must include good jobs from design to construction to operation.

A Community Benefits Coalition is a more surer way to get there.

~~~~
Some information:
The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis paper on Community Benefits Agreements
A handbook on Community Benefits Agreements from The Partnership for Working Families
Good Jobs First, a non-partisan accountability organization for corporations that seek local community subsidies
A Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy paper titled Community Benefits Agreements: Can Private Contracts Replace Public Responsibility?
September 30, 2011 minutes of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency

by Pete Talbot

I shrugged it off the first few times I heard it or saw it in print, “government picking winners and losers.”

Now it’s everywhere: Republican debates, news stories, op-ed columns and even comments here at 4&20.

It’s directed at Democrats, for the most part, from President Obama (health care, Solyndra) to Missoula’s City Council (Play Ball Missoula).

The irony is that all parties, in all areas of government, from city councils to state legislatures to Congress and the President, have picked winners and losers.

They’ve subsidized railroads and airlines, oil and coal, highways and electrical distribution systems, NASA, mining and agriculture, baseball, basketball and football teams … it’s a long list.

Winners and losers are chosen by the powers that be all the time. There are no-bid defense department contracts for Halliburton, Raytheon and Blackwater. There are tax code revisions that pick winners and losers. There are decisions on food stamps, Social Security and Medicaid that have winners and losers.

It’s a cool sounding mantra, this “government picking winners and losers,” no doubt generated at some Karl Rove or libertarian think tank using focus groups and polling, and distributed to key leaders in right-wing politics, whence it trickles down.

There are no doubt abuses in this system. But the idea that every aspect of American life should be subject to the invisible hand of the free market is unrealistic and anachronistic. And the Republican cry of “crony capitalism” is about as hypocritical as it gets. The art of crony capitalism has been a mainstay of the Republican Party.

It’s dishonest to call all government spending “socialist” and lay the blame at the feet of Democrats. Picking winners and losers has been going on since the founding fathers and is as American as apple pie.

It just depends on who’s doing the giving and getting the rewards that gets the teeth gnashing and pundits whining.

By Pete Talbot

Topsy-turvey city council election. Disappointed by the Ward 2 Walzer/Hertz results but I’ll wait for the recount.

More on the council races later. Right now, I’m celebrating the landslide referendum outcome. Seventy-five freakin’ percent! Reminds me why I live here.

By JC

I received the follwoing note from Forward Montana in my inbox today:

There are two days left until election day.

You may be asking, “isn’t election day on November 8th?” You’re half right. While that is the day that votes will be counted up it’s not when the vast majority of Missoulians will be voting.

For city council elections the city of Missoula closes down the polling locations and sends everyone a ballot in the mail. That means that across this city voting will be happening as early as Tuesday morning. Which is why we need your help on Monday to ensure folks are ready to vote for our pro-equality, progressive candidates.

CALL NIGHT: If you like it then you shoulda put a RING on it.
Monday, October 24th – 5:00pm
Forward Montana HQ
(500 N Higgins Ste 107 – Across from the Iron Horse)

RSVP on Facebook

Everyone in town is getting a mail-in ballot which means that election day in 2011 will last for two weeks straight. Studies have show us that most people vote in a big wave shortly after they recieve their ballots.

And if you’d like to hear some interviews with the candidates, MCAT has posted up interviews with 12 of the candidates running.

And Cynthia Wolken’s Referendum on Corporate Personhood also is on the ballot. There’s a great story in the Missoula Independent a few weeks ago about Cynthia and the ballot issue that we reported on back in August.

by Pete Talbot

So utility companies can claim eminent domain over private property but citizens (i.e.: our local government) can’t claim eminent domain over utilities.

I’m talking about our water.  The stuff we drink, cook with, bath in and use to water our gardens.

This is a screwy deal.  Missoula’s privately-owned Mountain Water Company can sell our resource — the aquifer that sits beneath us and the streams that flow from our mountains — to a multi-billion dollar private equity firm.

Meanwhile, our vaunted state legislature passes a bill that allows utility companies to exert eminent domain on private property owners so these corporations can build pipe and power lines anywhere they please.

Our legislature didn’t see fit to grant these same powers to citizens so they could control their own resource destiny.

I know it’s more complicated than that.  A city can invoke eminent domain but it costs many thousands of dollars, takes years and the outcome is uncertain.  From the Missoulian:

It took the town of Felton, Calif., population 6,000, five years to gain public ownership of its water. Felton’s water had always been privately owned, bouncing from company to company. The final straw came when owner American Water requested a huge rate increase.

So the City, with assistance from the Clark Fork Coalition, has entered into negotiations to have the right of first refusal if and when the Carlyle Group sells.  I call this a fallback position.  I applaud the coalition’s and the city’s efforts, but it seems so after-the-fact because the sale to the city hinges on the “if and when,” and, of course, what sort of mark up Carlyle will want in the sale.  Carlyle isn’t known for its philanthropy.

Now the Montana Public Service Commission has a role in all this but it’s not clear how many legal teeth the PSC has for mitigating the sale — what sort of caveats in can impose — or could it, indeed, stop the sale (which is doubtful).

The Missoulian is doing a good job giving us background and following the story.  Start here and also take a look at the related stories.  I’m waiting for that hard-hitting editorial demanding public ownership of our water, though.

In the meantime, be thankful that air isn’t for sale.  If so, the Carlyle Group would be buying it up and under current statutes, there’d be little we could do about it.

It’s enough to make a mellow guy like me into a radical.


 
“This is a question of whether American democracy itself can beat back a corporate takeover”
— Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula

By JC

I’ll let the voices of a few of Missoula’s leaders in support of amending the U.S. Constitution to restrict corporate “personhood” tell the story (from behind the paywall at a local chapter of a national corporate newspaper chain):

University of Montana professor Vicki Watson thanked the council for bringing the referendum forward and said she wanted the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an official message it erred. She said extending civil rights to corporations “makes a mockery of our sacred human rights.”

“Corporations do not bleed or feel pain. They can’t die in an unsafe workplace,” Watson said.

Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula, said she pitched a similar piece of legislation in Helena, and she heard support from Democrats and Republicans all across the state. Hill noted Montana history is laced with stories of big money, such as the Copper Kings, buying influence.

“This is a question of whether American democracy itself can beat back a corporate takeover,” Hill said.

Mary Stranahan… said putting power back into the hands of the people is a huge matter. She encouraged people to seek more information about the national movement from The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, www.celdf.org.

“I think this is one of the most important issues we as a country face in trying to preserve what democracy we have,” Stranahan said.

And to those of you who complained in the comments of my last post on this issue, that the City Council should attend to more important matters, you got your wish: they also approved spending $188,829 on a machine to fill pot holes.

I’m just back from several days of vacation on a (mostly) deserted lake somewhere in NW Montana (and aching legs to prove it), and I’ll have much more to say about this issue in the future. One point I’d like to focus on is the stance that Missoula’s other newspaper publisher (and I presume many other newspapers) has taken in opposition to the movement to amend the U.S. Constitution to reserve 1st Amendment rights to the flesh and blooded. That somehow that would affect the 1st Amendment’s bedrock protection of freedom of the press.

I think that debate is a very worthy one to have. What is at stake is not just the fallout from Citizen’s United, but future fallout from a concerted effort by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his activist wife Virginia to reconstruct the Constitution to adhere to an originalist’s (and Tea Party) view that is more in concert with the will of the “Founders.”

 
“Corporations are not human beings and do not have the same rights as human beings”
— Cynthia Wolken, Missoula City Councilwoman

By JC

Hot on the heals of the “Running on Empty” corporate push to consolidate power in the states, Missoula’s newest Councilwoman, Cynthia Wolken, has introduced a Resolution in Missoula City Council to have the City join with communities across the land calling for a Constitutional Amendment opposing corporate personhood.

Wolken’s Resolution was heard and approved in the Council of the Whole yesterday, and moves to the full City Council at its regular meeting next Monday night. Wolken was quoted behind a paywall in the local affiliate of a corporate newspaper chain as saying:

“I heard an overwhelming sense of despair about government,” Wolken said Wednesday. People don’t believe their voices are heard, especially at the state and federal levels, she said. And they believe campaign dollars are distorting democracy…

“A lot of people feel what they say doesn’t matter because somebody with more money will come along and drown out their voices,” she said at a Committee of the Whole meeting.

She is asking the Missoula City Council to place on the 2011 ballot a referendum to push the Montana Legislature and the U.S. Congress to amend the Constitution and declare “corporations are not human beings and do not have the same rights as human beings.

“The city of Missoula, unfortunately, can’t fix this problem, but we can give our constituents a voice at the local level to say how they feel about it,” Wolken said.

Wolken’s Resolution represents Missoula’s local entry into a larger national movement focalized by groups like Move to Amend that are pushing for a Constitutional Amendment:

On January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government. Human beings are people; corporations are legal fictions.

We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:

* Firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.

* Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our vote and participation count.

* Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate “preemption” actions by global, national, and state governments.

The Supreme Court is misguided in principle, and wrong on the law. In a democracy, the people rule. We Move to Amend.

Move to Amend is chock full of resources intended to help local activists organize and fight in your community and state against corporate personhood. Check it out and get organized and fight the behemoth!

And right on Cynthia! It’s great to see the new Councilwoman in my old ward take up the good fight and carry on the torch! Get your rearends down to City Council Monday night and show your support for Cynthia in her quest to lead Missoula into the national fight against corporate personhood and domination in American politics.

And don’t forget to listen to the great editorial on Montana Public Radio last year by Brian Muldoon describing Citizen’s United and the history of corporate “personhood.”

Text of Resolution after the jump:
Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Mike O’Herron, candidate for Ward 5’s city council seat is holding a meet & greet this Wednesday. This is an excellent opportunity to meet a candidate who is an independent, committed to bringing balanced leadership and representation to Ward 5.

I really like Mike. Off the top of my head, O’Herron was the original Chicago Hot Dog stand micro-business owner that any downtown dweller is well-familiar. He and his wife have put together a scholarship program themselves. At the city council forum last week – and darn if I don’t have my notes here – he spoke of recently acting as an ambassador, of sorts, escorting two potential business investors around the area in an effort to do his part to bring better jobs to Missoula.

I do believe one of the two have committed to bringing their business here. It’s one of the things I intend to pick his brain about on Wednesday.

If you read the most recent Missoulian article that mentioned Mike, you’ll know he’s committed to creating an environment here in Missoula for good-paying jobs. When you listen to him speak, he talks about finding out what kind of future Missoulians want – and from there, he wants to help make that happen.

I really like Mike’s commitment to public involvement. I also appreciate his commitment to policy, not politics. Mike O’Herron wants solutions. He feels Ward 5 has been essentially unrepresented due to the lack of leadership of its current representation. Mike wants to bring a real voice and true representation back to Ward 5 constituents.

Here’s the info on Mike O’Herron’s meet and greet:

The Mike O’Herron for City Council Campaign invites you to our Campaign Kickoff Event

What: Meet & Greet with Mike O’Herron, Candidate for City Council
Where: Linda Vista Golf Course Clubhouse
When: Wednesday July 20
Time: 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

Contributions welcome, but come no matter what!

Reasons to attend:
· It’s an excellent networking opportunity – Meet Mayor John Engen!
· There will be refreshing cold drinks and plenty of hors d’oeuvres
· It’s an easy event to attend — Can pop in for a few minutes or stay longer
· I need your support to help me win this election!

5:30 on a Wednesday with refreshing cold drinks at Linda Vista? Seriously people – take the time to go meet Mike O’Herron and find out what real leadership would mean for Ward 5.

We’ve written a number of times about Mike – as has Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller, at her blog Missoula Red Tape.

by jhwygirl

Missoula County Democrats will be hosting the city’s first candidate forum Tuesday night, 7 p.m., at City Council chambers on W. Pine, next to Sean Kelly’s pub.

Boy – they’ve done quite an update of their website and that link provides you with lots of information on the candidates – including links to a questionnaire that they were asked to return.

This is the first opportunity Missoulian have – and the candidates too – to meet and interact in a public forum. As new chair Starla Gade note on their website “ALL CANDIDATES were offered the opportunity to attend and to complete and turn in a Candidate Questionnaire. The candidates that stated they wern’t available were also offered an opportunity to speak at our September Central Committee Meeting.”

As of this posting, only Caitlin Copple (Ward 4) and Alex Taft (Ward 3) have accepted that offer at this time.

I look forward to seeing what the candidates have to say on all kinds of issues.

By CFS

In the current edition of the Missoula Independent the local paper takes aim at Missoula City Councilman Dave Strohmaier over his Social Host Ordinance  and many of the policy positions he has taken in his six years in office.  Three times in the article – once in the headline, once in a quote, and once in the second to last paragraph – the Indy emasculates and attempts to make Dave appear effete through his desire to clean up after an infantilized Missoula populace.  In my opinion, the use of such language turns a pretty solid article into a hack job.

I would expect such language from a right-wing rag but from an independent newspaper based out of Missoula?  There is a long history of Liberalism’s opponents painting liberals as soft, elitists, and effeminate.  I don’t understand why the Indy is playing into such lazy stereotypes other than to set the tone of how the paper will handle Strohmaier in any eventual run for Montana’s open Congressional House seat.

The Tea People now holding sway in Helena proposed plenty of legislation to clean up after messy voters including:

But in conducting a search of the Indy’s news stories I never once came across language labeling Tea Party policies or politicians as people espousing a nanny-state.

I can understand why the Social Host Ordinance is the definition of government overreach to some people; the sanctity of one’s home and personal privacy are issues that people care deeply about and the image of Dave poking his fedora clad head into your house to check IDs  probably isn’t a pleasant one.  But at the same time, bar tenders are held responsible for serving minors alcohol… maybe people throwing house parties should be held responsible as well.

by Pete Talbot

Misdirection is the nicest word I could think of.

Montana GOP Chairman Will Deschamps had a pathetic letter in the Missoulian attacking progressive Missoula City Council candidates.  Never mind that council general elections are six months off and Montana Republicans have some other, more pressing issues on the table.  It’s easier to take pot shots at the local council members, inaccurate as they may be, than face party problems.

Karl Rove with Will Deschamps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These problems range from a schism in the Republican Party in neighboring Sanders County (the Tea Party isn’t far enough to the right!) to a very low approval rating of the Republican controlled Montana Legislature (only 24 percent gave it a positive rating).

What to do?  Well, attack Missoula’s council members.  Headlined “Missoula City Council: Voters: Get rid of the ‘Dwarfs’,” here’s an outtake:

Missoula, help remove part of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” this fall. Help return the shop owners’ right to refuse service to anyone. Help allow folks to visit downtown without stepping around folks with their hands out. Help defeat those who allow homeless to defecate and urinate in alleys downtown. Help defeat the elitist liberals who believe in tax-and-spend economics. Help defeat those who are anti-Pledge of Allegiance.

Now there’s a litany of intolerance: Help return the shop owners’ right to refuse service to anyone?  Like gays? He also takes on the homeless, twice, saying that our councilors support panhandling and defecating and urinating downtown.  And let’s beat that Pledge of Allegiance horse some more.

He calls the candidates: “anti-freedoms” and “anti-choice” (gotta love it when a Republican calls people “anti-choice”).

Then he goes on to nickname them Grumpy, Sleepy, Happy and Queen Grimhilde.  It’ really hard to believe that this LTE came from the head of Montana’s Republican Party.  It’s one of the poorest excuses for a letter that I’ve seen, and there have been some doozies as of late.

Mr. Deschamps, you have enough problems with your own party at the state and county level.  Please keep your nose out of Missoula’s city elections.

(Update: Pogie over at Intelligent Discontent has an additional, insightful take on Deschamps’ letter.)

by jhwygirl

25 American mayors around the U.S. signed a letter off to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlining their concerns over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport Canadian Tar Sands oil.

I’m pretty sure our council has a resolution out regarding the transport of the big rigs for the nasty dirty Tar Sands…and I’m pretty sure it does, in part, refer to the overall impacts of the extraction. Seems Missoula should be continuing to represent its opinion in these matters.

In other news, the state department recently announced that it would be doing a supplemental EIS on the pipeline.

Let’s hope Missoula provides official public input.

One fact they’ll have to look at?

The firms involved have asked the U.S. State Department to approve this project, even as they’ve told Canadian government officials how the pipeline can be used to add at least $4 billion to the U.S. fuel bill.

U.S. farmers, who spent $12.4 billion on fuel in 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, could see expenses rise to $15 billion or higher in 2012 or 2013 if the pipeline goes through.

At least $500 million of the added expense would come from the Canadian market manipulation.”>

Let’s hope our Senator Jon Tester is looking out for Montana’s agricultural community on this one – and saying “NO” to this pipeline.

by jhwygirl

Montana Rep. Kristen Hansen’s pro-discrimination bill, HB516 was pulled from second reading today and referred back to committee with a 44-4 vote on the Senate floor.

Interesting.

by jhwygirl

On Monday at Bozeman’s City Commission meeting, Mayor Jeff Krauss put forth a resolution that formally supports equality rights for same sex couples in the State of Montana.

The resolution calls on the State of Montana and its Attorney General to support equality rights for gay and lesbian couples by supporting the couples which filed suit against the State of Montana back in July of this year for failing to offer legal protects to same sex couples as it does to other families in the state.

Bozeman’s Chronicle doesn’t put every story online – and the budget was certainly a big issue that caught the attention of the press, no doubt…but hopefully they’ll be covering this story soon.

And Bozeman’s City Commission? Good for them for seeking to speak in support of the same-sex couples of their community and the rest of the state.

Missoula City Council? Missoula Board of County Commissioners? Speak up – let Governor Schweitzer and Attorney General Steve Bullock know that they both need to speak up in support of equality rights for gay and lesbian couples in this state.

Bozeman leads on calling on Montana to do the right thing – let’s hope Missoula follows.

by jhwygirl

Last month Director had told the Legislature’s Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee that their review of Exxon/Imperial Oil’s environmental analysis (yep, the applicant submitted the ea) would be completed by August 15th….while later he backtracked and said that he didn’t expect to have it by the end of August.

Well, here we are, middle-of-September, and the bad news continues to pile on. Forest Supervisors of both the Lolo and the Clearwater National Forests oppose the plans to move the rigs up and over Lolo Pass…and Oregon’s U.S. Representative Pete Fazio is >calling for an investigation into Exxon/Imperial Oil’s plans to ship giant equipment through Idaho and western Montana to an energy project in Canada.

Apparently the Helena National Forest is OK with the plans to move the Korean-built bohemaths up and over Roger’s Pass – yep, no potential there for major disruption…

Not only does the bad news continue to pile on, but Lynch had promised the EA “by early September.”

One does have to ponder the Lolo National Forest Supervisor’s current position – given that they had to rescind their decision to bury powerlines (the request the result of Exxon/Imperial Oil’s transport plans) given that they failed to consult with the tribes – Lolo Pass the site of the ancient native Nez Pierce tribe’s Nimi’ipuu trail.

Wonder because while they are taking comment on the proposal to bury the powerlines through September 24th and the scoping period is exactly (and only) 30 days. Rather odd considering both the controversy surrounding the project and the fact that the scoping is the result of them having overlooked even scoping the thing in the first place, don’t you think?

You can read the notice here and check the map out on the specifics here.

Let’s note, too, that the scoping notice does not mention the application is the result of Exxon/Imperial Oil’s need to have the lines buried so they can move their oil modules. It does, in fact, state the purpose of the initiation of the request by Missoula Electrical Cooperative is to “improve long-term service to local residences and businesses.”

Really?

Still, too, one has to ponder if MEC should really be the applicant? Isn’t Exxon/Imperial Oil paying for this burial? Or is it the customers of MEC? It does lay open the question, doesn’t it? Given that the stated purpose on the scoping notice is to improve long-term service to its customers?

Shame on the Lolo for misrepresenting that line burial project. Check out that map…there’s quite a bit of that line burial that is immediately adjact to Lolo Creek, endangered bull trout habitat.

Are lines being buried on the Clearwater National Forest? What permits are needed from both of these forests? Why doesn’t the fact that these transport plans affect at least 3 National Forests this thing isn’t being analyzed under a full NEPA environmental impact statement?

Why doesn’t the fact that this entire transport plan crosses multiple state jurisdictions and multiple countries warrant a full NEPA EIS by the Feds? Is our security that lax? Is the concern that little?

Hopefully the hypocrisy of the Lolo’s public notice for the burial of these powerlines won’t go un-noticed.

The public and our County Commissioners and City Council should provide comment asking the Lolo National Forest to ensure that it re-notice the application to note the full purpose of the project…and analyze the full effect of the connected actions of this proposal – the effects both here and in Canada on the Athabasca tribal peoples.

by jhwygirl

In a ruling handed down in the 5th District, out of Dillon Montana, Judge Loren Tucker told Montana Department of Environmental Quality that its environmental review (EIS, environmental impact statement) must consult with local government. Both the Helena IR and Butte’s KXLF have the story.

Jefferson County had sued DEQ over placement of the MSTI utility line, saying that they had not been consulted and the public process left them with insufficient time to adequately review the proposal.

Does any of this sound familiar? The Kearl transport proposal to move oversized Korean-built tar sands oil infrastructure along the wild and scenic designated Lochsa River corridor and up and over the historic Lolo Pass, location of the ancient Nez Pierce Nimi’ipuu Trail and the he historic site of Lewis & Clark’s famous trip across the wild west.

Alll to take the stuff to Canada to poison the lands and the native peoples there.

Over at Left in the West, Turner has written two find posts on the MSTI project – one explaining the issue, asking for help and another pointing out the hypocrisy and lies being put forth by state officials (like Governor Schweitzer) on the true purpose and the true impacts and the real job creation of the project.

MDOT left little time for the public to comment on the environmental analysis (EA) that was completed by Exxon (yep – the applicant did the environmental analysis)….and during that short 30 days, the state’s ability to obtain comments via email failed. Many people – including the Missoula County Commissioners – requested that the comment period be lengthened to allow for full review of the proposal (a fully printed version of the document was over 3 inches thick).

At this point, MDOT is far overdue in releasing its decision on the permit (having promised it August 15th). Idaho residents have sued in court to stop the transport, and Missoula County Commissioners have hinted at the same.

Let’s hope some city and county officials have taken notice of this recent 5th District ruling and find out the specifics of the case to determine how it may impact their position on the proposal.

Will DEQ appeal? Doubtful. They’ll go back to attempt to work with the county and avoid an appeal at all costs. A further adverse ruling would require them to implement its findings state-wide, and clearly, you can bet DEQ doesn’t want to see that happen.

by jhwygirl

….in Idaho, it seems.

Idahoans don’t seem to have any love for Exxon/Imperial Oil’s Kearl module transport plan to move oversized loads over the historic and scenic highway 12 which runs adjacent to the Wild and Scenic designated Lochsa River and Lolo Creek.

There’s a group of Idahoans suing the state to halt the movement of the oversized loads, charging that Idaho did not follow its own rules to issue the permit. The cite concerns over could threaten public safety, harm tourism in an area that relies on it and pose a risk to the pristine river corridors:

“Whether Highway 12 will remain an outstanding tourist and recreation destination that provides jobs and revenues to the local community – or become a congested industrial ‘high and wide’ corridor for the conveniences of the oil industry … – are matters of great concern to the plaintiffs and many others in the area.”

Idaho residents have also called for a full Environmental Impact Statement from the Clearwater National Forest on the project, saying that the USFS has a responsibility to protect that corridor.

Now – this route passes through the Lolo National Forest, too. What has the Lolo done? They didn’t consult with the tribes (as they are required to do under NEPA and they categorically excluded the project from need of any additional environmental analysis.

Burying power lines on federal lands (as opposed to the overhead lines there currently) apparently doesn’t have any impacts, according to the Lolo.

Hard to believe.

NEPA, unlike the MEPA review that the Montana Department of Transportation is attempting (and truncated one – an “environmental analysis” – at that, requires an analysis of connected actions – connected actions such as the impact on air and water quality as a result of these big things being delivered to Canada for tar sands processing. The economic impact of having these things assembled in Korea, shipped here and transported whole to Canada.

The list goes on for this one.

Exxon/Imperial, for their part haven’t been very neighborly here in Montana – but it might be that they don’t have to: As JC pointed out, our carbon fuel-loving Governor supports all those flag-waving jobs the project will bring for Montanans.

Yeah! Go Korea!

MDOT, for its part, should be should be releasing its decision any day now

I know I wait with bated breath.

Got that right this time, I think.

I hope someone on this side of the pass is scrutinizing that “categorical exclusion” of the Lolo National Forest….and I guess we’ll all have to wait and see what comes out of MDOT in the next few days.

It is possible that MDOT has determined that there are significant enough impacts that a full EIS is needed. Both Missoula County Commissioners and Missoula City Council have requested an EIS – as did much of the public comment.

But of course, this is the same department that said that this was the only oversized load in the pipeline, which was an outright lie. Multiple loads line await on the docks in Lewistown.

Of course, they could be banking on the low median income of the people of the state and the financial stress on non-profits to sue ’em.

It’s wait and see…wait and see.

by jhwygirl

MDOT refused to extend the 30-day public comment deadline on the environmental assessment written by Exxon/Imperial Oil for transport of its oversized Korean-built Canadian tar sands equipment, despite a wealth of public comment requesting just that – some of which came directly from the City of Missoula City Council. And despite the fact that the state’s email system shut down from the overload of public comment being submitted.

Lovely.

I pondered in this post who was pulling the strings on this project, considering that MDT Director Jim Lynch testified last July before the legislature that (a) this project should undergo an Environmental Impact Statement scrutiny and (b) that this proposal was essentially a permanent high-and-wide corridor proposal.

Not only that – but the Exxon/Imperial Oil written environmental assessment said it would be a permanent corridor within its EA. It’s also fair to note that this EA was signed by MDT’s very own Dwayne Kailey.

Didn’t take much to figure out who was pulling the strings – Governor Brian Schweitzer, who said it was about ..jobs, jobs, jobs.” Maybe he doesn’t understand the funky math that got Exxon/Imperial Oil to that $68 million figure? Because I heard the president of Imperial Oil explain here in Missoula that they came to that number “through a complex economic calculation,” that “takes into account that dollars will be spent repeatedly throughout the community.”

Sounds like trickle down economic theory to me – and we all know how that works, don’t we? Kinda funny how we’ll sell ourselves for flag-waving jobs and no one will stand up (save for a bunch of citizens and a Canadian parliament member) for having these things brought here in pieces and contract assembled somewhere here in North America.

Yep – Montanan’s should aspire to waving the flags to clear the traffic for these Korean-built things to head on through the state.

I ruminated during the Otter Creek fiasco on how Montana could aspire to be like that teeming economic power state of coal-rich West Virginia. Now maybe what we’re hoping to be is the new inland version of Louisiana.

Maybe he doesn’t care. The Good Gov sure loves his fossil fuels, that’s for sure. So much so that he’s willing to repeat the same tired old misinformed fact over and over – that the proposal is “temporary.”

He did it in this Missoulian article weeks ago, and he did it again, recently, in supermontanareporter John S. Adams’ that was published this past Friday in the Great Falls Tribune.

Adams did a great in-depth look at the Exxon/Imperial Oil proposal to transport these oversized loads which includes a repeat (by both MDOT – who I noted signed the industry-written EA – and Schweitzer) that this is only a temporary proposal. He also gets to Imperial Oil spokesman Pius Rolheiser, who also repeats the lie that his very own consultants acknowledged in the environmental document they submitted.

I guess, like Bush or Cheney, if you repeat it enough, someone’ll start believing it as truth.

Different communities have different perspectives – and Adams talks to Teton County Commissioner Dellwo and Manager of the Port of Lewiston Idaho David Doeringsfeld, who is looking for between $1.8 to $2.8 million in upgrades to double the capacity to his ports.

Yeah – it’s about money, but who’s gonna benefit the most? Exxon/Imperial Oil with its one-time influx of flag-waving and turnout-building money? Lewistown with its trucking/motel industry and the multi-million dollar upgrades that will generate long-term jobs and expansion? Or Montana with it being on the receiving end of the one-time influx of Exxon/Imperial Oil money and a few motel rooms rented out along the way? Calculated by a “complex economic calculation”?

Who else has gotten into it, too? Ochenski asked, weeks ago, how long it would be before the Gulf disaster would be repeated in Montana – and truthout pressed forward this past Saturday with a lengthy article titled Trucking Toward Climate Change.

Nick Stocks, co-founder of the group Northern Rockies Rising Tide is interviewed for the article, as is Brett Haverstick with the group Friends of the Clearwater and Missoula County Commissioner Jean Curtiss.

by jhwygirl

I shoulda’ checked my email first, before writing the post below.

This photo comes courtesy Missoula resident and transportation advocate John Wolverton:




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