Archive for the ‘Missoula County Republicans’ Category

by jhwygirl

The theme “Even MORE National Media Attention Courtesy MTGOP” is getting old, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to to anywhere.

If FOXnews is using “Bat-Crap” and “Montana” in the same headline – quoting Democratic Governor Schweitzer, nonetheless – honestly, you really should reconsider things.

Who’s running that ship? Will Deschamps? Yoy.

Not only that – if FOXnews is explaining one of your crazy bills – HB278 – this way, you should maybe go crawling back in the cave you came from:

Schweitzer did not mention Montana House Bill 278, which would authorize creating armed citizen militias able to repel invaders, presumably war-like Canadians.

Rep. Wendy Warburton, I’m sure, is proud.

by Pete Talbot

I was hoping the pundits and polls were wrong, but they weren’t. What is even more depressing is that Montana followed the national trend of moving to the right. In some cases, moving to the far right.

Let’s start with the PSC races. The Republicans now have a majority on the commission that regulates most of the utilities in our state. Expect looser reins on industry, fewer renewables, a greater emphasis on coal and a short-sighted energy policy. Consumer protection will take a hit, too.

Two veterans, Democratic PSC incumbent Ken Toole and former Democratic State Senator Don Ryan, lost their bids to Republican newcomers Bill Gallagher and Travis Kavulla, respectively. Toole ran a strong campaign — raised money, bought media, worked the district — but it wasn’t enough to overcome the “radical” tag that Gallagher hung on him. And you can also thank Flathead County voters for helping to take Toole down. May their utility rates increase tenfold.

In the other PSC race, let’s face it, Kavulla campaigned harder and raised more money than Ryan in what is basically a Hi-Line district. Even Great falls went for Kavulla.

Democrats lost big in the Montana legislature. Keep on eye on Billings’ Senate District 25, though, where Democrat Kendall Van Dyk is trailing Republican Roy Brown by one vote. Update from Billings Girl: “Last night when the votes were counted. Van Dyk was leading Brown by one vote, not trailing. And after some provisionals were added he is now up by 16. He has stayed ahead the entire time.” Kudos to Kendall.

My math may be a little off but I have the Montana House at 69 68 Republicans to 31 32 Democrats and the senate at 28 Republicans to 21 22 Democrats (the 50th seat to be decided by the Van Dyk/Brown race).

There were a few bright spots but more disappointments. On the upside, in my house district (92), Democrat Bryce Bennett won a close race against Republican Don Harbaugh, 2201-2072.

Two big letdowns. Democrat Willis Curdy losing House District 100 to Republican Champ Edmunds, 1858-1606. Curdy had a great profile and worked his ass off. I don’t know if we’ll ever pick up that seat, which is too bad, because otherwise Missoula County would be an all Democratic delegation.

It was also sad to see Bozeman’s JP Pomnichowski (D) lose to Tom Burnett (R) in HD 63 by 2682-2618.

Glad to see Beth Baker win the Montana Supreme Court race against Nels Swandal.

Finally, after all the “kick out the incumbent bums” election rhetoric, one of the biggest bums had an easy win: Denny Rehberg (around 60% of the vote) against Dennis McDonald (about 34% of the vote). Libertarian Mike Fellows got about 6%.

My take on the elections is that voters are frustrated by the party in power for not fixing things and that trickled down to the Montana races. But what a mess the Democrats were handed, and the voters must be smoking a lot of medical marijuana because their short term memory is shot.

It could also be a disgust with party politics in general as witnessed by the election of an Independent as sheriff (Carl Ibsen) here in Democratic Missoula County. It should also be noted that McDonald even lost Missoula County. It was only by 198 votes out of 34,892 but WTF?

I’ll try to get a post up later on the Montana ballot initiatives (I went 50-50 on those).

But I won’t even get into the national stuff, and I have no further pithy analysis or keen insights into this mid-term disaster, but here are some links to a few Montana folks who do:

by Pete Talbot

No breaking news here. This is a short story about Missoula in the ’90s and an alternative party. It was called the New Party and I was a member.

Lately, there has been a lot of venting, some with good reason, over Democratic disappointments: from Obama to Baucus to Tester to Schweitzer. This talk inevitably leads to a call for a third party.

Here’s a very personal third party experience:

After watching a majority of Democrats on city council vote against sustainable land-use planning, affordable housing, a city-wide living wage and numerous other progressive measures, I heard about a third party being formed. I had attended a Missoula County Democratic Central Committee meeting; made up of mostly good old boys and girls whose main concern was where to hold the party’s summer picnic. Then I went to a New Party meeting. Energetic folks from all walks of life were talking strategy: how to recruit and win campaigns, what good policy was and how to achieve it, how to do outreach to the disenfranchised, and much more. I was hooked.

It worked well, for awhile. Missoula’s New Party had four-of-twelve seats on council. With sympathetic votes from two-or-three other councilors, and even the mayor, progressive legislation was enacted.

New Party Icon

A Fair Economy.
A Real Democracy.
A New Party.

We had, at the least, a half-a-dozen year run. Missoula was the better for it.

There were other New Party chapters in places like the Twin Cities and Madison, Wis.; Little Rock, Maryland, Chicago and New York.

I went to a few workshops and conventions. I bunked with Hispanic and African-American activists. I heard from some of the best of the left, folks from outside Montana’s typical political circles. I even met Barrack Obama at a Chicago meeting when he was running for the Illinois Legislature (he was endorsed by the New Party).

And what struck me was how connected we were, all hoping for the same things — things that the Democratic Party had promised: decent health care and a good education; peace; gender, social and economic equality for all. It was transforming.

New Party principles were basically stripped down Democratic principles.

The demise of the New Party started with a Supreme Court decision against fusion voting, in a 6-3 ruling that said folks couldn’t vote on more than one party line.

(Fusion voting wasn’t an easy sell — more complicated to explain than our ingrained two-party system — but it’s actually pretty straightforward. The State of New York does it successfully. Here’s how it would work.)

The SCOTUS decision and some other factors killed the New Party in Missoula. There were a couple of hard-fought contests that the NP lost by small margins, which took some wind out of our sails. And, of course, leadership in the two major parties vilified the New Party, occasionally joining ranks to defeat a New Party candidate. NP membership started drifting away toward other, more specific causes, such as smart growth, gay rights, economic justice, and labor and environmental issues.

I turned my attention to the Democratic Party in hopes of building coalitions and advancing progressive policy. At the time, the state Democratic Party was on the ropes: a Republican governor, and Republican majorities in both chambers. We fared a bit better on the congressional landscape with Pat Williams and Max Baucus, but they had their foils in Ron Marlenee, Rick Hill, Conrad Burns and Denny Rehberg.

Party conventions were sparsely attended. (I was actually elected to the state’s executive board because I was the only person running for the western district seat.) But Democrats made a comeback, picking up seats in both the state house and senate, some statewide offices and finally governor and our other U.S. Senate seat. Nothing like winning to help build the party. So now there’s a machine, and probably not a lot of room for questioning and dissension in the ranks, or for perceived interlopers such as myself.

After reading this account, one might think I have a great fondness for third parties. I do. But I’m not willing to give up on the Democrats, yet.

Montana’s perennial candidate Bob Kelleher (D,R,G) wanted a parliamentary system of government — with its multiple parties and coalition building inherent in that system. Perhaps not a bad idea. But since that isn’t likely to happen in my lifetime, I’ll keep working, and pushing reform when necessary, for the party that best represents the people.

Corporate domination of politics has to be reigned in. We need strong campaign finance reform and lobbyists need to be subservient to legislators, not vice-versa.

Then, maybe, citizens will have renewed faith in and accountability from their elected officials.

The populist movement of the late 1800s came about because the difference in the two major parties at that time was minuscule. Let’s hope that message hasn’t been lost on Democratic Party leadership. As should be obvious, the electorate really wants the change that was promised in 2008. Please, pay attention.

by Pete Talbot

Filing deadline isn’t until March 15 at 5 p.m. but there are already some interesting developments in Missoula area races.

First, a little flip-flop. Democratic Rep. Teresa Henry has filed for termed-out Democratic Sen. Carolyn Squires’ seat (SD 48). And Ms. Squires has filed for Ms. Henry’s house seat (HD 96). Teresa still had two years before she was termed out in her old house seat, so this is an unusual move. Adding to the mix is veteran Democratic legislator Tom Facey, who’s challenging Ms. Henry in the primary. No Republican has filed for SD 48 yet.

The only other senate seat up for grabs out of five in the Missoula area is SD 49. The incumbent Democrat, Sen. Dave Wanzenried, hasn’t filed, nor have any challengers.

Since they ran in 2008, SD 46’s Carol Williams, SD 47’s Ron Erickson and SD 50’s Cliff Larson — all Democrats — get a pass.

The Missoula area has ten Montana House districts, nine-out-of-ten are held by Democrats and they’re all on the 2010 ballot.

Democratic incumbent Tim Furey is the only one to file in HD 91. Same with Democratic incumbents Dick Barrett (HD 93), Diane Sands (HD 95), Michele Reinhart (HD 97) and Betsy Hands (HD 99).

There are some new faces on the landscape. Robin Hamilton, the incumbent in my district (HD 92) chose not to run again. Community organizer Bryce Bennett has filed and is actively campaigning. Another Democrat, Dean McGovern, head of UM’s Campus Compact, was vigorously exploring a run at this house seat earlier, but he hasn’t filed and I haven’t heard much from him lately. He does have a website up, though.

Then there’s Ellie Hill, a name synonymous with the Poverello Center and many other nonprofits. She’s the sole entry, and running as a Democrat, in HD 94. That’s Dave McAlpin’s old seat but he’s now the head of the state crime lab here in Missoula and he probably won’t get time off to run, or serve.

I’ve already mentioned Carolyn Squires in HD 96.

The only Republican to file in the Missoula area is Michael Sopuch in HD 98. This is incumbent Sue Malek’s seat but she hasn’t filed, yet. I couldn’t find a website for Sopuch. Indeed, the only reference I could find was testimony given by a Michael Sopuch of Cash King LTD, a title loan company. This was before the Montana Department of Administration about title loan company practices.

Finally, there’s HD 100. Democrat Willis Curdy has filed. He ran last time and lost to Incumbent Republican Bill Nooney by 79 votes. Nooney has yet to file but as Nooney’s arch-nemesis Bill Vaughn points out, Nooney has a lot on his plate these days (you’ll have to scroll down to the red sub-head that reads “Falling Down”).

By the way, here’s a map to show where these districts are. The primary election will be held Tuesday, June 8.

(I’m working on candidate website links.  Most are under construction or old, if I could find them at all.  Please contact me so I can update this and future posts with current website info.  Thanks.)

by jhwygirl

Ward 5 candidate Mike O’Herron scored a major endorsement with former Republican county commissioner Barbara Evans and community activist and past president of the Upper Linda Vista Homeowners Association Charlie Brown telling voters to vote O’Herron:

As Miller Creek residents, we need a representative from Ward 5 who has common sense, works with others in a collaborative manner, calmly listens to our concerns, and who can provide a realistic perspective to our problems and our future. For that reason, we ask for your support for Mike O’Herron for City Council, Ward 5.

Oh no they didn’t!

Did Queen Missoula Republican just say that Dick Haines was obstructive and unrealistic? The duly-signed letter details a short history of “the bridge” that Dick Haines has dithered about for nearly 5 years now, and the support it now has (or doesn’t) despite the rhetoric being put out by Dick Haines as of late.

In other words – misrepresenting an issue and the support it has isn’t really a nice thing to do.

Haines’ pet project has been that bridge. He ran on the issue back in 2005. He claims to be a fiscally responsible guy yet he continues to advocate for a bridge that would cost upward of $30 million dollars. The double-talk is worthy to point out.

What Evans and Brown were really saying – or asking – was this: Do you want solutions, or do you want someone who is going to continue to make unrealistic promises?

Here’s a link to Mike O’Herron for Ward 5 website. The main thing I see in O’Herron is that he shows a strong desire to move forward – to find solutions. Inaction does not appear to be an option for him. That is a good thing.

Voters in Ward 5 should take note of that endorsement. Barbara has been long active in local Republican politics, and Charlie has a long history of supporting Democratic party causes, while working bipartisan-style on many issues with Barbara Evans….endorsing O’Herron should give even the most diehard Republicans good reason to cast that vote for Mike O’Herron.

Charlie Brown is Mike O’Herron’s treasurer.

by jhwygirl

Yesterdays very good Missoulian story from reporter Keila Spzaller contained lots of interesting quotes from political observers and lawyers and stuff like that. Good read, if you haven’t hit it already.

What I found funny was this quote from one of Ward 5’s Lawsuiters, Dick Haines (Ward 5’s other Lawsuiter is Renee Mitchell). Haines is, apparently, already feeling a need to reply to challenger Mike O’Herron:

I don’t want people to think that we take this lightly. I don’t want people to think that we’re suing our employer.

Why would he say that? Because at last weeks candidate forum, Mike O’Herron was asked, specifically, what he thought about about the current lawsuit filed by council members – two of ’em being from Ward 5. O’Herron first pledged not to sue the city for his first term (which drew laughter) and then went on to say that he couldn’t understand why someone would want to sue their employer.

So Haines has, obviously, gotten some feedback on that – and clearly, it’s on his mind.

Mike O’Herron is an Independent – something he reiterated a couple of times during Tuesday’s forum. He said that he’d be glad to get the endorsement of the County Dems – and noted that he’d be equally pleased to get the endorsement of the local Republicans, too.

Red Tape notes that O’Herron did get the endorsement.

Several organizations give out endorsements in the cities non-partisan races. Next up will be the Missoula Building Industry Association’s forum, Tuesday, 3:30 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel.

Schedule is as follows (from their website):
3:30 – 4:00 Meet and greet
4:00 – 4:10 Overview of the importance of Business Development in Missoula and introduction of candidates with Dr. Patrick Barkey with the Bureau of Business and Economic Development – UM
4:10 – 5:00 Q&A to Present Their Goals for Business Development in Missoula
5:00 – 5:30 Networking with Candidates

Beer, Wine and Snacks provided
Cash Bar

There is no charge to attend!

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

A hat tip to Hummingbirdminds on this one….

The National Campaign for Fair Elections has sponsored a website, Election Protection, geared towards providing information on protecting your right to vote. If you have been a victim of the Montana Republican Party’s voter suppression and caging attempt, think about heading to this website to share your story.

Another site, geared towards empowering students and their right to vote is SAVE. They, too, have a website with which to enter your story of voting problems. They also have a hotline number – 1-866-558-4165.

The hotline number will allow you to record your story where it will be upload online for people, including media, to hear.

Look – it is important to tell this story. Until today, this was some abhorrent thing that happened in Florida or Ohio. Now it is happening – today, right now – in Montana. Keep in mind, the Montana GOP is promising more challenges. They are proud and unapologetic. Do not let them keep this story as something that doesn’t matter. As something that makes people like me out to be fraudulent voters.

What the Montana Republican Party is doing is criminal. Make no mistake. It should not go unnoticed…and shame on any media outlet that overlooks that fact.

Addendum: Don’t miss Bob Gentry’s post at Left in the West, which analyzes the complaint filed is U.S. Federal Court by the Montana Democratic Party and others, seeking injunctive relief from the Montana Republican Party’s voter challenges. There is also a copy of the complaint.

In it, you will see how Secretary of State (and candidate for the same) Brad Johnson (a Republican, of course) is complicit in the whole sordid mess.

Vote accordingly, folks.

by jhwygirl

One thing startlingly strange and missing in all the Montana Republican Party voter suppression activities of this past week is the name Erik Iverson.

You know – Erik Iverson, chair of the Montana Republican Party? Chief of Staff for Denny Rehberg? The guy who’s front and center of just about everything Republican in Montana?

One can only assume that he’s fine-and-dandy with his party’s fraudulent voter suppression activities. Just the same as the local Missoula GOP seems to be, including local bloggers and local state house candidates Steve Dogiakos (HD-93), Carol Minjares (HD-97) and Steve Eschenbacher (HD-96).

Crickets, anyone? {chirp} {chirp}

College Republicans have nothing to say? Nothing? Nothing from local Republican bloggers? Bloggers who are also candidates? The same people who were 24/7 with glee over their 15 minutes of fame over a pseudo-scandal because Schweitzer told a joke?

Your silence demonstrates your approval.

by jhwygirl

I am cautiously emerging from a 3-day fog of Dayquil/Nyquil (more Nyquil than Dayquil) to find that my right to vote is being challenged by the Montana Republican Party.

Found it out thanks to Forward Montana’s searchable database of challenged voters.

This is pure bullshit. I’ve lived at the same address for just about 5 years (only a few days shy).

As soon as I finish writing this, I’ll be figuring out what the Montana GOP’s grounds were to challenging my vote – because as far as I’m concerned, they’ve now filed a fraudulent challenge with the intent to disrupt my lawful right to vote.

I read back in my 4 days of emails and I find that the Montana Republican Party is challenging the votes of journalists, former legislators, veterans and Army Reservists called up to serve in Iraq.

Lt. Governor John Bohlinger wrote an op-ed for the Montana Standard this past Sunday, listing a few of the disgraceful challenges the Montana Republican Party put forth for this upcoming election:

Kevin Furey, former legislator who left the legislature to serve in Iraq
Cindie Kalan-Green, serving in Iraq
Mathew Robison, deployed to Fort Drum
Chelsi Moy, the Missoulian journalist broke the story
Babe Aspholm, an elderly man from Anaconda who merely moved across town to live in a senior living center
Tom Detonacour, a Deer Lodge County policeman
Frank St. Pierre, 86 – a 10 time Medal of Honor recipient for his service in WWII
Mrs. St. Pierre

Yep – this is the Republican Party, folks. Now we know what Karl Rove was doing in town a few months ago.

Look – these guys are proud of it. The Montana Republican Party has promised more voter challenges.

And lest anyone – any Republican – try and tell you that the Montana Republican Party’s vote suppression activities aren’t voter suppression – that it’s about (as Steve Dogiakos, Republican candidate for HD-93, and president of the UM Republicans) having “factual and actual voters,” know this: Forward Montana tried for over 3 hours to get a list of challenged voters from the Montana Republican Party. Jack Eaton, executive director of the Montana GOP said that he would refuse to share that list.

So clearly, for the Montana Republican Party, this isn’t about preventing some sort of voter fraud – of which their own man up there in Helena said there has been no evidence of – it is about suppressing votes, pure and simple.


Someone around here asked me “How many Republicans are you voting for/praising on your blog? Eh?”

That would be none. And don’t expect that to change any time in the near or far future. By throwing this kind of chaos into the election process, they don’t deserve anything less than complete and utter disdain. In fact, the Montana Republican Party should be held criminally liable for fraudulently disrupting the election process.

by Jay Stevens

 Update: The short story. The Missoula County Republicans did not write a check to Jeff Patterson; and Jeff Patterson did not report a contribution from the Missoula County Republicans.

The long story. Just wanting to check up on my source, I went over to the County Elections office and looked at Jeff’s C-5. The donation from the Missoula County Republican part was filed in Patterson’s report.

About ten minutes after verifying the donation, I got a call from a friend who told me there had been a mix-up. The donation was actually for HD96 Republican candidate, Steve Eschenbacher, Mr. Rabid Insanity. (While not the best candidate, IMHO, he is a Republican.)

Apparently the donation slip had been mistakenly placed in Patterson’s report.

My apologies to Jeff and the Missoula County Republican party. I take back everything I said about spines and skulking! (Beyond the usual stuff, I mean…ha ha.) Pass the word on to anyone who might have seen this…let’s hope there’s time to undo the damage…
* * *

What’s up with state Republicans this primary season? First it’s a Chuck Denowh PAC playing in a Democratic state senate primary, now it’s the Missoula County Republicans…

A little birdie told me that on the C-5 campaign finance filing for “Democratic” county commissioner candidate, Jeff Patterson, there’s a $650 donation from a certain, “Missoula County Central Committee,” listing its address as “P.O. Box 2082” in Missoula’s 59806 area code.

Do a quick Google search on that address, and what organization comes up?

The Missoula County Republicans.

Reminds of the central committee’s hijinx during the last municipal elections, when much fuss was made by conservatives over the county Democrats’ endorsement of city council candidates, while county Republicans made surreptitious donations to candidates claiming they were Democrats.

Look, I realize Missoula is a tough place to be a Republican, but backing a Democrat in a primary? And cutting out the word, “Republican,” on your filing? Classy.

Missoula’s central committee could learn a thing or two from the troika of College Republicans running for local legislative seats. They, at least, have the courage to proclaim their affiliation up front, and promise to make the races spirited and concentrate on issues that affect students. Maybe they won’t win the race, but at least we’ll have a discussion.

Consider this an anti-endorsement for Jeff Patterson and a challenge to county Republicans to stop their skulking and grow some spine.

by jhwygirl

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

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

Withdrawal was based on a BMCC subcommittee’s recommendation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

by Pete Talbot

You can’t blame Missoula Republicans for bringing in a big name speaker to help raise funds for the party. Democrats do it, too. I can’t think of worse choice than Karl Rove, though.

Remember Valerie Plame? She was the CIA operative who was outed by the Bush administration in an attempt to bolster the lies that led to this never-ending Iraq War. Rove White House associate Lewis “Scooter” Libby took the fall (and Bush promptly commuted his 30-month jail sentence). Rove must have had knowledge of this treason. He was, after all, Bush’s Deputy Chief of Staff. Rove also chaired the White House Iraq Group, a secret internal White House committee to advance the lies of WMD’s and al-Qaida links to Saddam Hussein.

Missoula Republicans should be embarrassed for bringing this sleazeball to Missoula. His Wikipedia profile reads like a how-to of dirty tricks, leaked information and character assassination. (Rove is believed to be behind the 2000 North Carolina primary push poll question: “Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?”)

Rove is beneath contempt. How do you think he ended up with the nickname Turd Blossom?

by jhwygirl

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

Long term.

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

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

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

Minjares also offered this solution to affordable housing last September.

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

by Pete Talbot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Pete Talbot

I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Actually my predictions yesterday for Missoula County’s GOP caucus were pretty close to how the rest of Montana Republicans voted but I was way off for Missoula.

The two biggest surprises: McCain gets spanked and Ron Paul surges. (Jay has some good analysis here.)

Some comments of late at 4&20 hint at the fact that Sen. McCain misread Montana horribly – that by initially allowing Lt. Gov. Bohlinger to head up his campaign, he lost any hope of getting the conservative vote – and Montana Republicans tend to be a conservative bunch.

McCain’s last minute switch to Conrad Burns as campaign chair was too little, too late.

I thought Ron Paul would do well in Montana. I just didn’t think he’d do that well: first place in Missoula and second place statewide.

Lots of fresh-faced youths at the Doubletree last night waving Ron Paul signs. Is this the future of the Montana GOP?

4&20 co-contributor Rebecca, who is braver than I am, accepted a drink invitation with Missoula’s Republican leadership after the caucus was over. She convinced me to tag along. Our hosts (Carol from over at Missoulapolis was one of them) were gracious but guarded. We were offered some dandy, well-aged, single-malt Scotch, which helped put everyone at ease.

These local Republican leaders were celebrating a well-organized caucus where most everything ran smoothly. There seemed to be a mix of emotions, however. They were happy that so many young people showed up but concerned about the direction these youths were taking.

Let’s face it, Ron Paul is not going to get the Republican nomination at this summer’s convention in the Twin Cities. Will he then switch parties and run on a separate ballot line or will he ask his supporters to back another Republican candidate? And even if Paul throws his support to … Huckabee, Romney, McCain? … will the fresh-faced youths follow his lead? Will they stay with the party? Will they maintain their enthusiasm?

Time will tell, but there are cracks in the Republican Party’s façade. Is it the party of anti-government Libertarians, Christian evangelicals, business entrepreneurs or Iraq War hawks? I imagine that Republican Party leadership will trot out the old Democratic Party maxim: “It’s a big tent.” We shall see if it’s big enough to hold this four-ring circus.

Lord knows, I’ve seen the Democratic Party wrestle with its identity over the years. For me, as an observer, it’s fun to watch the other side of the aisle try to deal with its identity crisis, and also figure out what the hell to do about Ron Paul.

Update: Cece over at Montana Netroots has a good take on the possibilities facing the Montana Republican delegation when they show up at the convention this summer.  

by jhwygirl

In a recent post on affordable housing – a rising crisis we face here in Missoula – Vice-Chair of the Missoula GOP and former candidate for House District 97 (I remember those lovely blue signs around the neighborhood – the ones that didn’t mention her party affiliation) offers her solution to a 30-year old public school teacher who can’t afford the rent in the city where she works.

Clue: Get a husband with a job, then have the kids, and live somewhere other than The City.

Nice. Now there are about 10 different things wrong with that solution, but I’ll only snipe at one: I don’t know that it is really in the best interests of the community and its children to have their teachers commuting in from other communities. I know I want my schoolteachers living in my neighborhood.

Now Missoulapolis has also come down firmly against (no surprises there) inclusionary housing. She comments in her solution-to-affordable-housing post:

I have a cousin who is an ESL teacher there and she make it only because she’s in an old rent-controlled unit and she hangs on for dear life. But the control mechanism distorts the market beyond all manageability so it’s no wonder a teacher can’t get her own place there now. The more the govt tries to manipulate the problem the worse it gets.

What conservatives don’t seem to get is that the market is already screwed. Filled with speculators – she’s even acknowledged this in another previous post – that artificially manipulate the market.

But I guess it’s OK for the private market sector to artificially manipulate the market.

Further – inclusionary housing isn’t meant to manipulate the market – it’s meant to provide economic stability and certainty to the community. The market is already screwed. And in places where it’s done, the market has been screwed for a long, long time, with no signs of reversal. It is not a knee-jerk reaction or a quick solution to a recent problem.

Mark Tokarski, a fellow curmudgeon and contributor to Montana Netroots and frequent blog commentor places this comment at an unrelated (but excellent) post of Shane Mason’s on healthcare. Just substitute the principle of healthcare for affordable housing, and Mark precisely says what I’m trying to say:

Market-based solutions are a joke, since it is the market that got us into this mess. (The market by its very definition has to avoid sick people.)

Mark and I, BTW, rarely agree.

Areas that have done it, such as Vail, Aspen and Jackson Hole – and areas that are considering it – like Whitefish – are doing it to ensure that there are enough employees around to keep business and government up and running with warm bodies. And also to help avoid having to pay policemen and teachers $100,000 a year and dishwashers $25.00 an hour. You don’t have to be an Einstein to figure out what $100,000/year teachers will do to your taxes or what $25.00/hour dishwashers will do to your restaurant bill.

Missoulapolis is also against sprawl and infill – or maybe not….her blog is filled with pieces (lately, it seems) on housing, affordable housing, real estate (boom or bust?), new subdivisions, etc. In one piece she laments the “gash on the mountain above Farviews” but in another posts she seemingly champions the $59,000 – .29 acre lots adjacent to her self-proclaimed Casa del Minjares, (as an example, perhaps, of the wealth of affordable housing opportunities available in Missoula?)

What I do see is someone who offers no solution and no insight to an issue that is very real here in Missoula.

There are many ways to get about to dealing with the problems of affordable housing – inclusionary housing, infill, and yes, in some areas willing to accept traffic and poor air quality and higher taxes – sprawl. The solution, hopefully, should be something the community should come together with…and the longer it waits, the more drastic the solution.

Missoulapolis, oddly enough, self-describes herself as a blogger with “social-con tendencies.” Shouldn’t that come with some omnipotent solution? A solution of all solutions?

And I ponder how we – people like Missoulapolis and I – can come together with the beginnings of a solution to the problem. Myself, I’d rather avoid the drastic solution – but sitting around badmouthing every possible ‘tool’ while offering nothing of substance isn’t the way to do it.

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