Archive for the ‘Missoulian’ Category

by Pete Talbot

We’ll deal with pot first, which is being assaulted by Republicans and the media. 2008 Republican gubernatorial candidate Roy Brown had this to say about current Montana medical marijuana laws:

“… and when their peers in junior high have (medical marijuana) cards, it just sends the absolutely wrong message.”

Show me one junior high kid who has an authentic medical marijuana card, Roy. But fear speaks louder than facts at the Republican convention in Billings, and Brown wants Montana voters to repeal the law that they passed by 60% in 2004. The final language adopted in the platform came from Victor Republican Jim Shockley, which urged that the law be repealed or amended.

At least Gov. Schweitzer, the guy who beat Brown for governor, did a little research before opening his mouth. While touring a marijuana caregiver’s facility in Missoula, he said that although the law needed some revision, he didn’t like the idea of taking the herb away from those in need.

Our hometown daily, however, feels differently. Sunday’s rabid Missoulian editorial took a page right out of the Republican play book of fear with peripheral horror stories and this rejoinder:

Until the state can straighten out the rampant problems with the Medical Marijuana Act, Missoula should order existing dispensaries to cease doing business and impose an immediate moratorium on new shops.

I can agree that the law needs some tweaking and a moratorium on new shops could be in order, but existing dispensaries should cease doing business? Missoulian editorials of late rarely take this strong a stand — not on the economy or health care or war or climate change — just on pot.

On to wolves.

Photo: Kurt Wilson/Missoulian

Wolves aren’t endangered, kids in camo and their folks told District Judge Don Molloy. Elk and other ungulates are the ones in danger from wolves, said the sign carriers in front of the Missoula Federal Courthouse.

At issue is the re-listing of wolves as an endangered species, being heard in Federal District Court.

A host of other factors like loss of access, private hunts and game farms are affecting hunters. Include climate change and habitat loss and other threats besides wolves, and the reduction in wildlife numbers becomes a more complicated debate.

But you don’t usually see this crowd at wilderness hearings, environmental rallies or public access meetings. No, it’s the federal government these folks are mad at, as usual. They’re the Tea Party of the hunting crowd.

by jhwygirl

Got mine the other day….and what is really neat is the Missoula County has created an online ballot tracking system that allows absentee voters to track their ballot online.

How cool is that?! First in the state, I hear.

County officials believe the online tracking system will also help reduce the call volume the Elections Office receives leading up to elections freeing up busy staff to focus on other Election Day related duties.

“The tracking system allows voters to participate in elections in a new way,” remarked Vickie Zeier, Elections Administrator. “The voters get to check on their ballot and make sure it’s moving through the process as it should be. It’s really exciting to give electors that option.”

Not registered absentee yet? Check this page out.

In other news, Missoulian Editor’s blog from Sherry Devlin reports that the Missoulian has created a k-12 schools beat – and have an assigned reporter, veteran Jamie Kelly.

That is great news. I hear very interesting things – good things – coming from both Big Sky and Hellgate High Schools, and it’d be good to hear more from these young citizens of Missoula. School board coverage should be more apparent too. Besides that – we’ve got the school trustee and levy requests on the ballot, and hell, I don’t even know the who what where (and I can’t find a sample ballot).

Anyways – looking forward to that school beat coverage.

by jhwygirl

Well, boy – where to begin with this one (meaning I’m trying to quell the rant that lurks within)?

Nestled between what really was a big news week here in Missoula was The Indy’s Matthew Frank with an article exposing all the ugly details of DirecTV call center’s union busting activities.

And God bless Matt Frank – he actually does get to mentioning what I’m about to elaborate on below.

DirecTV is a tenant of Missoula County, leasing a building that was built for them by the county, using a combination of funding that included a low-cost 25-year loan from the state and a 20-year TIF district created by the county. Baucus also secured at least a half million more for the deal, for training.

DirecTV only has a 10-year lease. The package of incentives offered to them for 800 (anyone check and see if they’re actually employing that many) $9.50/hour jobs equaled an amount equivalent to $22,500 per year in tax subsidies for every $19,750/year job.

Looking back and re-reading those old Rob Struckman articles in the Missoulian – he was laying it all out there. Apparently, people were OK with this.

Unemployment at the time? 3.5% (considered healthy). Dick King, head of Missoula Area Economic Development – one of the many brokers of the deal (which included Schweitzer and Baucus) – said at the time “Our issue is not unemployment but underemployment. We need to get the right company to push up from the bottom. I think this is it.”

I wonder how much money DirecTV has sucked off in training subsidies ($4,000 per new employee)? Training subsidies that came via both federal and state dollars?

DirecTV is half-way through their 10-year lease…will they be recommitting? Or will taxpayers be left holding the bag on those loan repayments that stretch 10 and 15 years past their current lease?

I guess what I’m saying is don’t expect the county or MAEDC or the Governor or Baucus to be stepping up and speaking out against DirecTV’s anti-labor activities. Activities that are being done under a government tax dollar subsidized roof. They’re going to want that tenant around, otherwise, a whole bunch of taxpayers will be left holding the bag for a 34-acre facility.

On the other hand, with all the tech infrastructure that went into getting that building in there, perhaps its a good time to shop around for a new tenant and get someone lined up for when DirecTV’s lease expires. Frankly – with subsidy that is more than what an employee is actually costing them, I wouldn’t be banking on them sticking around – I’d be banking on them shopping around for another sweetheart tax-subsidy rich deal like the one they got here.

Talk about unsustainable!

DirecTV was a bad deal as it was. With low-wage jobs – and so many of ’em – they place more of a strain on our essential housing situation than they do to help it. If we’re going to give away subsidies, it should be for union-wage earning jobs or high tech jobs that allow people to live a little more than hand-to-mouth on $9.50/hour.

Addendum: Be sure to read the comments. DirecTV employees have a website – S.T.A.N.D., standing for Satellite Techs Allied for a New Direction. Another comment talks about how DirecTV is apparently going through employees. You mean despite (or is it because of) all that government subsidized $4,000/per new employee training, they’re having problems keeping good employees?

by jhwygirl

The Missoulian and Keila Szpaller have been doing a great job of covering the city’s proposed anti-discrimination ordinance since it’s very inception. Today I noticed a story Myths and facts of Missoula’s proposed anti-discrimination ordinance, which takes down, amongst them, the whole “bathroom issue” craziness.

Keith McHenry writes writes an especially direct letter addressing the “bathroom issue” which really should embarass those who think that an ordinance is going to cause kids or women or people in general to be attacked in public restrooms.

As Szpaller points out in the Missoulian – there currently is no law in place preventing women from using mens bathrooms and vise-versa.

Frankly, this over-obsession with sex amongst these pro-discrimination people is a little creepy, if you ask me.

Wanna check out the reality these people create? The city website posts city council’s email, and you can read letters that came in through Thursday.

For really really offensive, start with one councilperson’s exchange with a Bob Pond, of unknown local, who begins with a crude picture of a moose and a statue. That email series is at 04/07/10 11:15:47 P.M.

If anything makes me sad about this ordinance it is that there is such a loud ugly group of people opposed to treating everyone equally. That this loud ugly group of people is willing to spread lies and fear – that they are advocating for the right to treat a particular group of people, based on perception in some cases, differently.

City council takes up the anti-discrimination ordinance Monday night. The meeting starts at 7 p.m.

In addition, Missoula will celebrate its first Diversity Day, beginning at 6 p.m. down at Caras Park. Here’s the scoop, from their Facebook page:

NCBI Respect Club students designate April 12 as Missoula’s 1st Annual Diversity Day! Join us at Caras Park April 12 at 6pm to celebrate and bring awareness to Missoula’s unique and diverse community. Rally will feature youth and community speakers & Mayor John Engen will make an official proclamation. Join our parade to the City Council Chambers where our city officials will be voting on the non-discrimination ordinance. One 7th grader from Meadow Hill said: “I want a diversity day because being different is important. Diversity Day could help bring our community together, and we all need to be recognized.” The students hope that the Diversity Day celebration will be a new Missoula tradition that will continue for years to come.

by Pete Talbot

I’m talking adverting here, not news stories. And I want to know what’s going on.

I saw my first medical marijuana ad in the Missoulian last Sunday. It was a little guy buried in the Territory section. Has the paper’s advertising policy changed or do pot dispensers think Missoulian readers just aren’t their market?

Med./mar. distributors have been a godsend for the Missoula Independent — full-page, half-page, four-to-a-page ads fill our weekly. So, I’ve got to wonder if some of the ad execs at the Missoulian decided to climb on the bandwagon and allow the pot shops to advertise. It’s not like daily newspapers are rolling in black ink these days (pun intended).

And what’s next? A pot spot leading into a Mark Heyka weather report? Med./mar. underwriting NPR’s All Things Considered?

There’s nothing like a recession to change a company’s policy on the kind of advertising it will accept. I’d love to hear from media reps, herb distributors or others in the know.

by jhwygirl

Boy, sure hope the Governor doesn’t read this Missoulian article, otherwise he’ll have to head to town to protest the expenditure.

Of course – Drudge hasn’t picked up on it yet. Neither has Fox News. So maybe we’re in the clear.

by jhwygirl

The Montana Medical Grower’s Association, in conjunction with Montana Botanical Analysis is presenting a series of lectures January 11 and 12th which will feature noted medical marijuana scientist Dr. Arno Hazekamp from the University of Leiden, The Netherlands.

Beginning at noon on Monday, the Montana Medical Grower’s Association will offer presentations of various topics of interest to medicinal cannabis patients, caregivers, and the general public including small business practices, tax issues, and legal updates. Additionally, there will be an exhibition area for vendors of products and services supporting the medical cannabis industry.

Monday evening, Dr. Hazekamp, a a world renowned expert in cannabinoid chemistry and analysis who has published widely on the subject of marijuana chemistry, will be giving a public lecture on the most recent research developments regarding medicinal cannabis and the treatment of specific medical conditions beginning at 6 pm at The Emerson Theatre, 111 South Grand Avenue, Bozeman. There will be a public question and answer session as well as a reception following the lecture.

On Tuesday, January 12th, Montana Botanical Analysis will sponsor a guest lecture featuring Dr. Hazekamp in the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department of Montana State University. Dr. Hazekamp will be speaking on the “Chemistry of Cannabinoids” in Byker Hall at 2 pm.

For further information, please contact the Montana Medical Grower’s Association at (800) 518-9113.

Medical marijuana hasn’t been getting a whole lot of respect around Montana lately, it seems. Odd, considering it was legalized in the 2004 legislature. The Missoula Independent’s Matthew Frank recently did a story regarding the controversy surrounding a medical marijuana providers shop here in Missoula.

In the last few months, I’ve read stories in the Billings Gazette, Helena’s Independent Record, the Missoulian and the Flathead Beacon (off the top of my head) regarding medical marijuana. This IR story went into great detail how the Montana Cannibus nursery business is operating.

Zoning – or where these businesses go – is apparently a big issue. Whitefish recently enacted emergency zoning banning medical marijuana stores in response to a in increase in dispensaries – one which was proposed near local middle school.

I’m sorry – that provider appears to have been lacking some common sense.

All of that being said, it seems to me that Whitefish and the other cities “wrestling” with the issue of medical marijuana stores are overthinking the issue. Montana regulates the stuff as medical….so where do we allow pharmacies? What regs do we impose on pharmacies? I don’t see a medical marijuana storefront any much different than a pharmacy.

Frankly, it seems to me that by banning medical marijuana stores, Whitefish is circumventing the will of the legislature which legalized medical marijuana and made provisions for providers to operate….but hey, I’m no lawyer, right?

At the state level, there’s also some talk of regulating them as nurseries under the Department of Agriculture. That makes sense. It’s a cash crop. Determining its true economic impact starts there.

This past session there was a foolhardy (IMHO) rush to write laws related to carbon sequestration – and while I won’t lecture on why I felt that was inappropriate, I can’t help but wonder why Montana wouldn’t get ahead of the curve on what is clearly a trend towards legalization. The feds appear to be working on true legalization of marijuana.

Hell – it might be the only thing that’ll help California’s economy recovery. California has approved a ballot initiative for 2010.

What is they say? As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation?

by jhwygirl

One very impressive Hellgate junior that I know informed me yesterday that he’s taken up wrestling for the winter, after yet another year of yet another successful season running cross country. Wrestling was probably my favorite sport – spectator sports – in high school. The impressive Hellgate junior also mentioned there were a number of girls on the team.

Girls on the wrestling team, I asked? Yep, he replied, rather non-plussed. I guess I’m behind the times.

Lo and behold, what’s the Missoulian’s Keila Szpaller writing about for today’s paper? Female wresting.

All very interesting stuff, Spzaller profiles a Big Sky High School alumni who now wrestles collegiate for the women’s team at Northern Michigan University. Her goal is the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

I always thought wrestling was interesting. It’s not really just purely a match of strength. A wrestler’s gotta have a strategy and he’s they’ve got to be able to adjust that strategy during the match. Chess with muscles, as it were.

As for the women on the Hellgate team? One of ’em, I hear, is nearly unbeatable.

by jhwygirl

The Missoulian continues its coverage of Griz Coach Bobby Hauck’s asshole-ish behavior, with a report on UM’s crisis management of the situation, along with a synopsis of the nationwide attention being thrust upon the Griz football program – virtually all of it critical.

Hauck continues berating Kaimin reporters?! You have got to be kidding me?

Chelsi Moy’s story had some interesting WTH? tidbits, I thought – one of them being the reason offered up for UM President (King) George Dennison along with Vice-President Jim Foley’s excuse for being “unable to weigh in,” on the matter:

UM President George Dennison has been in Europe for the past two weeks working to expand student exchange programs in Italy and Ireland, and is attending the International Student Exchange Program’s annual convention in France, and therefore has been unable to weigh in on the issue.

Executive Vice President Jim Foley was traveling this week, attending a Big Sky Conference meeting in Salt Lake City and a meeting with the Collegiate Licensing Company in Atlanta. On Friday, he was in Sacramento, Calif., with the Grizzly football team.

Really? A two-week trip touring Italy, Ireland and France? How much is that costing? While UM has a $3.6 million budget shortfall?

Beyond that – the Hauck “situation” began publicly back on September 18th, when the Kaimin reported it. Now, of course it may be possible that Dennison and Foley were in South America or Australia or something. But at that point, King George and VP Jim Foley knew (at least) that Hauck was shutting out Kaimin reporters. They had an obligation then to step in. Hauck should be a role model, as should UM and any and all of its programs – and allowing that behavior to occur, yet alone to continue is disgraceful.

Sport’s Illustrated columnist Jeff Pearlman sums it up well:

Generally speaking, pinning behavioral stupidity on your players is an even worse move than, say, locking out the student newspaper in a town where – on a good day – you’re covered by three media outposts. And even if your athletes did decide to protest, it’s your job – as a presumed educator – to do the opposite; to pull the student writers aside, explain your gripe and try to work it out in a mature manner.

We also know now that the administration was complicit in silencing the Griz players physical attack on a UM student, as VP Jim Foley acknowledged to the Kaimin last month.

Honestly folks – It’s appalling that this criminal behavior is condoned at the highest levels of administration in the University.

Another thing that struck me was this statement, from UM athletic director Jim O’Day:

“I would prefer (Hauck) did talk, but I respect the decisions he’s made…..I’m against forcing someone to do something against their wishes and would prefer an amicable solution.”

Hauck’s behavior has brought unwelcome attention on the entire university. As an administrator, balancing an employee’s right not to talk to the media with protecting the university’s image is a tricky situation, O’Day admits(my emphasis added).

O’Day would prefer that he talks? “I’m against forcing someone to do something against their wishes?” – but then going on referring to “balancing the employee’s right not to talk to the media?

You have got to be kidding me, right?

Because UM tells all its other employees- and reminds them regularly – that they are to avoid talking to the press and they should refer all questions to the administration, blah, blah, blah… talking about an “employee’s right not to talk to the media” and “forcing someone to do something against their wishes,” are not really making sense when you put it in the context of their very own public information policy for employees.

That is, unless UM has changed its policy? Because it’s sounding like they prefer that their employee’s speak to the press when asked. I mean, I bet a whole lot of University employees might have a whole lot to say about the Griz football Bobby Hauck situation – and perhaps event the administration’s complicity in facilitating the behavior.

That 2-week trip to France and Italy and Ireland, too, I’m sure doesn’t pull a lot of sympathy either.

Lastly, Coach Hauck puts out a damned lame excuse (and I’m sure he thought he was oh-so-smart when he said it) for why he couldn’t answer questions from UM Kaimin reporters:

“My players have asked me not to participate in this. I had two seniors in my office this morning, and I apologize, but I’m not going to participate.”

So it’s the seniors on the Griz team are calling the shots? It’s not Hauck – it’s not King George Dennison, and it’s not VP Jim Foley – it’s the seniors on the Griz football team.


by jhwygirl

First the Ward 3’s Vote for Bob Jaffe video, which comes to 4&20, not by Bob Jaffee, but via Skylar Browning’s Indy Blog post:

Browning’s brief remarks are funny, and I agree. I also think that Badenoch was funny, saying “I think Bob Jaffe represents a lot of things I support. He’s progressive…but at the same time (my emphasis), he’s reasonable. I can tell that thinks about issues very seriously. He’s not a knee-jerk kind of guy. He’s thoughtful and I appreciate that.”

Council goddess Rye is hilarious, and so is Bob Clark, Missoula citizen.

Oh – and credit definitely has to go to “Bob Jaffe fan” Paul Wheaton – at minimum, he has a future in campaign election videos, for sure.

On the other topic…

Some HOW TO VOTE information…

Deadline is past for voter’s (pre)registration. If you want to vote now and haven’t registered, you have to head down to the fairgrounds, where the County Election’s Office has set up (due to high turnout in previous elections, and limited facilities/crowded halls).

This move has few, happy (maybe the county elections staff). Even Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller lamented the move in a tweet.

Even the results. {sigh}

Can we maintain no tradition?

City elections are mail-in only. No polling stations will be open.

Mail-in ballots are coming out in a few days. There’s Mayor (unchallenged), the Municipal Judge (unchallenged), then your councilperson vote (of which Ward 4 is unchallenged too). It looks like if you live in Seeley Lake, there’s an election there, and another in the Evaro/Finley/O’Keefe area to form a community council – at least what I can see of the sample ballot.

So when you get that ballot, fill it in ENGEN LOUDEN and, depending on which ward, STROHMAEIR or HOUSEMAN or JAFFE or WILKINS or O’HERRON or MARLER and get it back in the mail.

Voting early helps all the candidates, no matter who they are. Their effort will be to get you to vote – if you get it done early, you allow your candidate the potential to round themselves up even more votes.

by Pete Talbot

Every so often, our daily newspaper gives us competing versions of an important story. Today was such a day.

There’s this guest column and this news interview. Both are on the subject of health care. The guest column was penned by Greg Roberts, a former health care executive.  The interview of President Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Jim Messina, was conducted by Charles Johnson.

Guess which person was advocating a single-payer system, or at the very least, a strong public option? Hint: it isn’t the guy who used to be Sen. Baucus’ Chief of Staff before moving up the ladder.

I saw Messina this past Homecoming Weekend in the Missoula Club, schmoozing with our mayor and other Democratic Party notables. I didn’t get the chance, as jhwygirl suggested, to button hole Messina on the public option but I wouldn’t have done nearly as good a job as Roberts did in his column. For starters:

Sen. Max Baucus, representative government is a cornerstone of our democracy. We elect individuals to serve society’s best interests. Yet “government of, by and for the people” seems a concept as foreign to you as you to it.

For 12 months, our Senate Finance Committee has engaged in what has amounted to a charade on this matter. From the start, advocates for true reform were excluded from your hearings, a prologue to what followed.

Compare that with Messina’s take on Baucus health care efforts:

“The fact is Max wrote a very good bill that can bring people together, and you’re seeing that,” Messina said. “And on Tuesday, he’s going to pass it (in committee).”

Asked about the lack of a public option in the Baucus bill, Messina said it has one in the form of co-ops.

“Look, the president supports public option, but has said over and over again there are different ways to do it,” Messina said. “He’d be open to those ways. We’re in consultations with the House and Senate about that.”

Asked about the criticism Baucus is facing over the lack of a public option in his bill, Messina said: “This is probably the most important piece of legislation that he will work on, and people feel strongly about what should or should not be in it. Typical of Max, he’s spent a whole bunch of time doing his homework and is working hard to produce the best bill that he can produce.”

I’ve got to go with Roberts over Messina on this, ” … a very good bill that can bring people together … ” Yeah, right. People are lining up to sing the praises of the Baucus bill. As to the lack of a public option, ” … it has one in the form of co-ops.” A co-op is not a public option and even the CBO is skeptical.

From an Alex Koppleman piece in Salon:

(The co-ops) didn’t impress CBO. “The proposed co-ops had very little effect on the estimates of total enrollment in the exchanges or federal costs because, as they are described in the specifications, they seem unlikely to establish a significant market presence in many areas of the country or to noticeably affect federal subsidy payments,” the analysis said. Translated out of wonk-speak, that’s pretty harsh; it basically says they won’t work.

Then there’s ” … he’s spent a whole bunch of time doing his homework and is working hard to produce the best bill that he can produce.” If that’s the best bill he can produce, maybe somebody else should take a crack at it.

Let’s face it, the private insurers are already squawking about the minor reforms being proposed by Congress and threatening even more rate increases. Max has given the insurance industry just about everything it could have wished for and it’s still whining. This from Digby, via Jay, over at Left in the West:

There has never been a better argument for the public plan than the one the insurance company just handed the Democrats in congress. They have produced a shoddy, self-serving report as a blatant threat to raise premiums higher than they already plan to raise them. If there has ever been a more obvious case of bad faith than this, I haven’t seen it. The only thing that will keep these corporate criminals in line is either price controls or stiff competition and if they can’t keep their companies solvent without giving their executives outrageous pay packages, charging ridiculous prices while denying care to sick people, then maybe their financial model just doesn’t work.

Finally, there’s this from Roberts:

The health insurance industry contributes upwards of 25 percent to the annual cost of U.S. health care and medical value. Viewed in the light of other nations who provide (based on factual data) higher quality, less expensive, universal coverage to their citizens, it is not difficult to understand the economics of the matter. In you (Baucus), Chuck Grassley and others, the U.S. health insurance industry has the best representation money can buy – and our society has a government of, by and for corporate interest.

What I know about Messina is this: he’s extremely loyal. One would assume he’s working in the President’s best interests, not his old boss’. But right now, to be honest, I’d prefer that Greg Roberts, not Jim Messina, has the President’s ear.

by jhwygirl

Boy…where to go with this story, from Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller.

Ward 2 incumbent and candidate John Hendrickson apparently couldn’t make it to the city council meeting Monday night, but in his absence, he sent a letter, read by Lyn Hellegaard (who has a hard time attending committee meetings).

Quite a complimentary pair, those two.

Councilman John Hendrickson apparently has a problem with the 1st amendment. Free speech and all that. So much so that he had Lyn Hellegaard read a letter from him, to council, berating Ward 3 councilman (and candidate) Bob Jaffe for his lisserv MissoulaGov.

Was it really that important, John, that you had to send a letter? Your issue couldn’t wait until next week? Or next committee meeting? Really – if that’s your sense of urgency, get a blog and I’ll plug each and every post you do. Promise.

Wish you thought that way about affordable housing. Or mental health care. Or homelessness. Or potholes.

Jaffe’s liserve is open to everyone. Anyone can read it, and if you register, you can get the updates mailed directly to you, and you are also able to comment. No secrets.

It’s also done on Jaffe’s own server – or server space he’s paying for. Meaning – not city space/time/money.

Prior to that, the goings-on of committee meetings – most of which are held during the day – were unfamiliar to most, unless you have cable and the time to watch them rebroadcast on MCAT. Way back in my beginning posting days here at 4&20, I’m pretty sure I ranted about how difficult it was for the general public to find out what happened at committee meetings because the minutes didn’t accurately reflect what actually happened.

If you don’t like what Jaffe’s writing? Guess what? DON’T READ IT!

If you don’t like what Jaffe’s writing? Guess what? POST A COMMENT AND LET HIM KNOW!

Paul Sopko, former Planning Board member, does it all the time.

What Hendrickson and Hellegaard don’t like about Jaffe’s blog is that their whole world of uncivilized ill-informed behavior at committee meetings (well, maybe not Hellegaard, since she rarely attends) is exposed for everyone to see.

In Jaffe’s liserv, a reader can begin to understand that inaction is apparently an option with Hendrickson and Hellegaard and Mitchell.

With Jaffe’s liserv, a reader can realize how many gosh-darn times that Hendrickson brings up the Broadway Diet (something he campaigned on 4 years ago, in case anyone is looking to determine how effective he’s been on his own pet issues over these past 4 years).

with Jafee’s liserve, a reader can understand how many times, over and over, Ward 5’s Renee Mitchell will repeat the same questions over and over and over again.

Frankly, it becomes comical due to the sheer magnitude of personal agendas and uninformed repetition of (there’s no other way to say it, folks) lies regarding the zoning rewrite.

John Quandt, candidate for Ward 3, and Bob Jaffe’s opponent, got into the fray by demanding an apology of Jaffe for having made reference on his liserve to Quandt characterizing city employee’s as lazy. Quandt, at the recent Pachyderm candidates forum, made reference to what he termed as ‘city workers leaning on shovels,’ as he made his case for privatization of some city services

Jaffe, for his part, declined to apologize and instead publicly lamented that he wished that the forum had been recorded.

Quandt made his demand for an apology during Monday night’s council meeting. During the meeting. He demanded an apology for something wrote on a liserv operated by Councilperson Bob Jaffe on his own private time.

I mean – if Quandt or Hendrickson or Hellegaard or anyone ANYONE has problem with what is being said on that liserv, either make a comment or create your own liserv or blog and say what it is you need to say. Demand your apologies, call him a liar – whatever.

Blogs, for the most part, are free. WordPress offers them…and so does Blogspot.

In fact, I dare say ’cause I kinda know these things: Any jackass can get one, with minimal effort.

But for Quandt to insert his campaign onto the floor of city council…well, one can imagine what we’ll get if the guy were to get elected.

In other news, in other city council chambers, the City of Bozeman approved urban chickens, with nary an opposing public comment.

by jhwygirl

There is a K-12 trustee vacancy on the Missoula County School Board. This is the vacancy created by the resignation of Nancy Hirning. Applications to temporarily fill that post are due on Wednesday.

Hirning resigned last month, blaming it on the Missoulian’s coverage of Hirning in the whole “The Story of Stuff” controversy. (4&20 has a few pieces on the controversy – here and here, for a start.)

Anyways….application deadline is 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Missoula County Public School Board’s website has an information page with step-by-step instructions for making application.

School Boards wield a pretty wide swath of power – beginning with taxation. It’s an often overlooked position in the community until some controversy is stirred up, like, say – “The Story of Stuff.”

There were 10 applicants the last go-around, with the resignation of Jenda Hemphill back in March.Many I wouldn’t mind seeking to make another go at it.

So there’s 3 days to go, Missoulians…time to recruit that neighbor or jump into the river yourself. No time better than the present, right?

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

And so it appears that is exactly what the lawsuiters are thinking with this past Monday’s op-ed in the Missoulian, what with the first paragraph:

A June 18 guest column contains inadequacies we would like to address. None of the signors of the June 16 guest column ever said to scrap Title 20. In fact, at the June 17 Planning and Zoning Committee meeting, we publicly stated that fact. We all agree that Missoula needs an updated, more coherent document. Some of us who were on council and some of those who are no longer voted for a rewrite of the municipal code, not a rezoning of the entire city. Big difference.

Sounds a bit overly defensive to me….

It continues: “No one is arguing that Office of Planning and Grants staff held many meetings and tried to reach out to the citizens,” and “It is not our claim that the efforts to update the ordinance is illegal,” and “The fact that the city attorney wrote six legal opinions still does not get us there.”

They attempt to justify the lawsuit that they’ve filed:

Some council members asked for a second opinion to get clarification as to whether Title 20 was a rezoning of the city. We were refused and stonewalled. At the March 3 Planning Board meeting, some members also called for a second opinion so all their hard work would not end in a lawsuit. The Planning Board did approve its version of the rezone unanimously, with three members absent.

Seriously? Not only do they have Nugent’s 6 opinions, they’ve got the opinion of attorney Alan McCormick (who hasn’t exactly been friendly to some of city council’s decisions) and even the Missoula Building Industry Association’s attorney kicked in with some sort of an opinion, too, that the rewrite wasn’t a rezoning.

Methinks that cracks are appearing in some of the curmudgeon’s re-elections…which is why the “clarifying” op-ed appeared on Monday.

Hear the laughs? I do.

The Republican’s have Teabaggers, Missoulians have Lawsuiters.

Ward 6 councilor Ed Childers summed it up pretty well at this past Monday’s weekly public hearing (and I’m working off of memory here) – that the ones that have filed the lawsuit and the ones that have been critical of it simply don’t understand zoning – and that the very potentially unfortunate thing of it is that it may result in a scraping of Title 20 because the level of remediation it seeks. That contact to each and every landowner in the city informing them, specifically, of how the re-write will affect them, specifically – is an impracticable and extremely costly mitigation.

And somewhere in there Childers mentioned the consultant’s cost of (what I think was) $250,000.

(Title 19 is our current code, Title 20 being the re-write.)

Pretty spot on – I’ve watched Renee Mitchell, week after week after week after month calling for people to come to the meetings; saying it was an upzoning (accessory dwelling units, which currently exist all over – including the university district); and saying that it increased heights of buildings (patently false).

Mitchell has all the trepidation of a 98-year old woman navigating an unpaved parking lot with a walker. She’d rather not go there, and so she is attempting to find any way possible to do exactly that.

The source of her pleas and Wilkins’ and Hendrickson’s and Haines’ and Hellegaard’s – let’s be real here – is based on what they have all clearly been seeing: That the public was in support of the zoning rewrite. Renee (and others) don’t like that – and so, for them, it was easier to ignore that reality and instead act as if this whole rewrite process was going on in some sort of vacuum.

– and you know how ignorant Missoulians are to what is going on in zoning, right? /snark

Have any of these malcontents (Ward 2’s John Hendrickson, Ward 5’s Renee Mitchell and Dick Haines, and Ward 4’s Lyn Hellegaard and Jon Wilkins) bothered to check out that big ole’ 5 inch think zoning book that OPG’s planner Jen Gress carries with her to each Planning and Annexation Committee hearing each week? It’s right there across the table from them. Every week. That is the current zoning book that OPG has to work with – filled with interpretations, it is result of an outdated and poorly written Title 19. That 5 inch thick book represents the murkiness that is Missoula’s current zoning code. That 5 inch thick book represents uncertainty for neighborhoods and builders and businesses.

It’s unreal that these city councilors have taken us in this direction.

And let’s be clear, here – Hendrickson didn’t sign on to this thing because he’s running for re-election. Hendrickson had tried for months trying to round up support in his neighborhood against the zoning rewrite – he tried to get people to sign that anonymous petition – and he got no where.

It was politically expedient for Hendrickson to attempt to remove himself from the lawsuit, but people aren’t buying it. Which is clear by his signature this week on the first post-lawsuit-filing op-ed.

Haines, who’s also running for re-election, at least had the guts to stick to his convictions, miscalculated as they are.

Wilkins, I suspect, isn’t a lawsuit type of guy – but he has signed on to the recent editorial, along with the previous one to which they were seeking to clarify.

Wait – did these guys and gals just want to clarify that which they previously wrote? Rewrite their past inadequate column?


Hypocrites that are going to stagnate this city, perpetuating uncertainty for neighborhoods and business.

Hypocrites that are going to cost Missoulians over a year of lost OPG staff time, significant community investment in time and involvement – and a cool $250,000 in the process.

Not to mention the staff and attorney time it’s going to take to defend this thing. Hell, I bet the city’s insurance that kicks in to help defend these kinds of things is going to end up costing us more, too.

Pro-business fiscal conservatives my ass.

by jhwygirl

A week ago I blogged about some of the awards awarded to local Montana print journalists by the Montana Newspaper Association. I didn’t know it (because the MNA doesn’t seem too interested in putting a full listing up on its website), but there were more.

The Missoula Independent took home four awards at the MNA’s, with former reporter Patrick Klemz taking home two of ’em. Here they are:
First for In-Depth Investigative Reporting, “Saving Grace,” Patrick M. Klemz
First in Biz Reporting, “Black Gold,” Zach Dundas
Third in Agriculture Reporting, “Time to CUT a Deal,” Patrick M. Klemz
Third for Feature Story, “Reservation Rock,” Erika Fredrickson

I want to note that Klemz did two feature-length pieces that I can remember on brucellosis – I’m sure he’ll correct me if I’m wrong – the other being “Bigger Game,” which bravely put an elk on the front cover, right next to the word “brucellosis”. The Indy was probably the first media outlet anywhere to so visually and verbally connect elk with the spread of brucellosis. That was a very fine piece.

Not bad, huh?

What about 4&20 favorite Jesse Froehling? Well – he garnered two awards from the Society of Professional Journalist’s Northwest Excellence in Journalism awards. Froehling came to the Indy from the Seattle Weekly early last fall. His awards were for his work at the Seattle Weekly, and came for “Kicking the Juans Out of the San Juans,” in the Social Issues category for alternative weeklies (a second place) and another second in the category of Sports for “Tailpipe Dream“. And if you go do a search at the Seattle Weekly for all of Froehling’s work, Missoula Independent fans will know we’ve got plenty to look forward to if his body of work there is any indicator.

Was there more in the SPJ’s awards for the Indy? Yep:
First place for Patrick Klemz in the category of Consumer/Environmental Affairs, “Superfraud”
First place for Andy Smetanka in the category of Lifestyle, “Home in the Hills”
Third place for Skylar Browning in the Sports category for “Time Trial”

The Missoulian also took home eight awards at the SPJ’s, including three for Michael Moore (including a first for Best Column); a first for Chelsi Moy in the category of Personalities; and a second for Tristan Scott (for Social Issues, his piece “Prescription for Addiction”).

A full list of the SPJ’s Northwest awards can be found here.

I also caught last night on KECI a congratulations for Heidi Meili who took home Montana Broadcaster’s Association and the Greater Montana Foundation award for Montana’s On Air Broadcaster of the Year for 2009.

More congrats for all!

by Pete Talbot

“Never get in a pissing match with someone who buys ink by the barrel,” my Momma said.

The idea of a Missoulian boycott was shot down but there was plenty of criticism of an editorial that ignored censorship at Big Sky High.

In the end, it was decided that at least three Democratic Party leaders would meet with the editorial board (publisher, editor, opinion page editor) and register their displeasure with the editorial.

I didn’t take a notebook to this meeting because, frankly, I wasn’t there to write about it. I just went because I’m a mighty precinct committeeman but the debate over this resolution was pretty interesting. Lacking some detail, here’s what went down:

One committee member was so pissed at the editorial’s support of a parent complaining about the film, “The Story of Stuff,” instead of supporting the teacher, he proposed a boycott of the paper. He said his wife had already canceled their subscription.

Another member was none too happy with the Tuesday guest editorial that denounced the zoning rewrite. He questioned the writer’s credentials and thought the Missoulian should have, too.

But consensus ran mostly against a boycott: hard to get the numbers to make an impact, could make the party look like whiners, no point in alienating the media …

A teacher in the crowd didn’t like the idea of bringing partisan politics into the debate. He said he knew conservatives who disagreed with the school board’s censorship of the film.

It was suggested that perhaps Democrats could reach out to some Republicans on this one – form a coalition. (A few folks didn’t think the Republicans seemed very receptive to coalition building, these days.)

And another person mentioned taking along a couple of high profile advertisers to the meeting, which got heads nodding.

There was plenty of sympathy for the boycott idea. But there was sympathy for the Missoulian, too: it’s reporters and other staff, the layoffs, the tough times. Democrats were just upset at a couple editorials that lacked vetting and, dare I say, balance.

They also wanted to see more political news and analysis, and in depth coverage of local issues, and the legislature; although again realizing that newspapers are on the ropes and budgets are strained. (There was mention of Missoulian profits being shipped off to headquarters in Davenport, Iowa.)

But there’ll be no boycott.

Having been around the newspaper biz, peripherally, since I was a kid, I understand the many pressures put on an opinion page editor. I personally support a strong, daily newspaper that publishes diverse views on its opinion page. I also hope that the editorial board will take into account the party leadership’s concerns.

by jhwygirl

This is the second time, for crying out loud, so I gotta say something.

After the 2nd reading vote on HB228, the Missoulian has a story headlined Self defense bill clears the house.

That false. Wrong. Inaccurate.

There is a third reading, after which – if a majority approve – HB228 will clear the house.

The first time? That I noticed? That would have been HB157, which, if you click that for the vote, to the story linked to above (“This is the second time” link at the very beginning of this post) was written on the 2nd, while the third reading didn’t occur until the 3rd.

Here’s the thing. There is a chance that some Representatives up there in Helena may change their vote. Beyond that, the citizens of this great state of Montana deserve to know that they still have a chance at stopping the gun bill lunacy of Krayton Kerns’ HB228 by contacting their legislators tonight or tomorrow before 1 p.m.’s House Floor vote.

What’s worse is that the damned story goes on within the content talking about how the Senate might “tweak some of it.”

Yi yi yi.

So a lesson in procedure for those reporters who are filing stories that are being picked up by Lee Newspapers: Here in Montana bills have a first reading in the legislative house that they enter. From there they go to a committee and a hearing or two or three – whatever – is held. The committee votes. It may or may not move forward. If it does, it goes to a 2nd reading, which it has to pass to move forward. If it passes, the 3rd reading is usually the next day. If it passes there, it gets sent to the next legislative house (which, in the two cases above, would be the Senate). From there the process is repeated.

And really – you shouldn’t believe me – you should probably stop by the information desk at legislative services and ask a couple of questions on process to understand the whole thing. I find the people there not only very helpful, but very knowledgeable.

Isn’t there someone at the paper who’s responsible, at least, to check this stuff out for accuracy?

Just so everyone knows. This post pained me to have to write it. Had it not happened again, I’da never mentioned that it had happened at all….but jimminy crickets – how in the hell can I read the stuff they’re writing and believe it to be accurate with flaming inaccuracies like this?

Especially with the impact it has? It effectively shuts down the public input process when there is still a house vote left.


by jhwygirl

I voraciously read and watched and twittered (tweeted?) the Missoulian trial coverage. As a news addict, and being what it was, it was an unsettling feeling. The coverage – the writing, the video stuff? – was so excellent that I compare my recent addiction to my need to check the news every 5 minutes during the beginning throes of the stockmarket/economic meltdown.

Unsettling because of the content it produced. This link will take you to the entire Missoulian coverage since jury selection.

As if reading my mind – I almost email Tristan Scott, the Missoulian reporter, telling him that the story I wanted to hear was Strahan’s mother’s – he deftly covered Strahan’s testimony, and accompanied it with this video. I’m not sure if the video was done by Tim Akimoff (who I know was doing earlier video, and who gains credit for the photo associated with the above-linked Missoulian article.)

That one story evoked stronger emotions in me than anything I can recall in reading all that I had read about Forrest Clayton Salcido’s murder. His last moments – how it senselessly began – how Salcido had the upper hand initially – how Strahan had tried to intervene when St. Dennis began his stomping – and the callous senseless inhumane way in which it ended. The mother who’s son had come home, drunk bloody and shaken, crying. How she came to pick up the phone and call the police the next day.

Scott’s blog, Cops and Courts, has additional coverage.

Understanding the brutality with which Salcido faced his death, and seeing Strahan’s testimony on video, I find myself struggling with an amount of sympathy for Strahan. Certainly more for his mother. Should I? And yet could it have all had never happened if not for other events earlier in the day?

The local Havre Daily News has provided some coverage too. While difficult to read, Leeds rambling coverage tell us that Strahan’s mother had bought the punks their “double-quart” (from Scott’s coverage) of vodka (from Leeds). (The Havre Daily News has this story, which details St. Dennis’ jailhouse phone call confession, and this one which opens the trial.)

What if?

Also out of Leeds’ story we find that after the initial attack, but before the stomping, Salcido had attempted to leave and Strahan had told St. Dennis “not to follow him.”

Leeds’ rambling run-on style illustrates, if anything, the difficulties Missoula County attorney Van Valkenberg had in pulling out these seemingly minutia-like details.

In the video that accompanies Scott’s report on Strahan’s testimony, you can hear Van Valkenberg go back at Strahan after he testifies that he hadn’t stomped on Salcido – “now, are you aware that there has been a forensic examination done of the toe of your shoe?” and Strahan answers “yes.” Van Valkenberg continues: “.. and are you aware that there is blood at the toe of that shoe?” and Strahan answer “yes.”

The verdict, if the twitter times were right, was sometime after 3 p.m. yesterday. Scott has “raw video” of the verdict being handed to the court by the jurors – and it also includes video of St. Dennis’ reaction.

He seems almost excited about the sentencing.

How you prosecute the crime of what were a man’s last moments in life, how you bring to horrible light its horrible brutality, how a reporter covers it, and how a public defender has to defend it, I can not imagine having to be so immersed in something so utterly utterly horrible. It’s work that must be commended, despite how much I’d rather it not be needed at all.

Forrest Clayton Salcido was given some justice this week. There will be more. Too bad it had to happen at all.

by jhwygirl

…you know – one of the two that murdered Forrest Clayton Salcido?

I just want to say that Missoulians are getting some great coverage of a trial I’d just as well wish never had a reason to happen. Both the Missoulian and NBC local televison KECI have sent reporters to Havre for the trial which was moved because of overwhelming news coverage of Salcido’s murder in early December 2007.

Tristan Scott and Tim Akimoff from the Missoulian are there (Tristan being the court reporter, Tim doing video). There have been close to if not more than a dozen stories out of Havre since the trial began on Monday.

They’re both also Twittering. Or Tweeting…whatever the kids are calling it these days. tristanscott and timakimoff if ya’all are tweeting. Me? I’m still trying to figure out what it’ll come in handy for, but I have to admit it does seem nifty.

Because there are so many stories – but this would be good stuff regardless – I wish the Missoulian had a list of all related stories at the end of the web versions. The Montana Standard does it, and I think its great. Keeps me reading

KECI, I know, has a reporter and camera person there too (at least). I caught the coverage on Monday and Tuesday, but missed last night’s edition. Being horrible with names, I’m pretty sure it is the eager Jackie Bartz.

So good stuff for us Missoulians from the Missoulian and KECI. I know I’m watching and reading.

As an aside – I hate that the focus of coverage – and even look at my headline there – is on the criminal rather than the victim. I understand why a real news source can’t put up a headline like “Salcido’s Murderers on Trial,” which is actually what I wanted to put up. Once the criminal element becomes known in any crime, the coverage focus shifts from victim to criminal. I don’t know whether, ultimately, that is right or wrong. It’s something I notice and think about, though.

by jhwygirl

…but one does have to wonder what he had to say after he hung up on Missoulian reporter Keila Szpaller when she asked about the city’s budget.

Apparently it’s not yet been filed with the State of Montana (what does that make it? 6 months overdue?)

Bad, bad form, hanging up on a reporter.

And before anyone considers mention of the hang-up a focus on the “controversy” versus the facts, me thinks that any public official hanging up on a reporter is a well-worthy piece of news, especially when the reporter was trying to get the facts.

So what’s there to hide? Why hang up on a reporter? Why isn’t the budget filed yet? What is the problem?

We’re promised a story for Thursday’s Missoulian. Looks like it’s popcorn for breakfast, folks.

UPDATE: We update today with a link to the story and note that not just the city, but the county, too, that has failed to file its budget. At least Missoula’s consistent, huh?

by jhwygirl

A while back, I asked: How would you improve your local paper?

Today, former gubernatoral candidate and every liberal blogger’s favorite, Pogie, of Intelligent Discontent, puts forth a nicely detailed analysis of the general problems, as he sees it, with newspapers. He goes further and talks about what he sees in Helena with the Independent Record.

He hits on the lack of detail in local news. In our previous post here, the lack of local news was generally agreed upon. Pogie’s post goes one step further, citing the lack of detailed analysis. Perhaps a valid statement – which may be why us new junkies here pointed to the lack of local news as one of the Missoulian’s problems. Maybe it isn’t so much the lack of local news, but the lack of meat-and-potatoes to the local news. Issues don’t die after the vote – and beyond that – why are we only hearing about stuff within days of hearing. Isn’t the paper publishing legal notices? Don’t the get the heads-up weeks (if not months) ahead of time? A lot of stuff is moving through the process for a good deal of time.

In the end, all of us – even you readers, I dare say – love reading, love newspapers. We want survival, and change needs to be part of it.

A worthy and important conversation to have. Go join in.

by Pete Talbot

After reading jhwygirl’s various and sundry for the weekend, I stumbled across a few stories that also deserve attention.

First, I get most of my information the old-fashioned way: newspapers. As a matter of fact, most of the nuggets in this post were gleaned from local, regional and national newspapers.

So, this news, that the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News are drastically cutting newspaper delivery was a downer. Of course, staffs and content will also be cut. And as the New York Times explains in the story, other papers around the country may follow suit.

Will the Internet pick up the slack? It seems unlikely since online revenue from websites is a fraction of the revenue generated by advertising in the old, dead tree editions.

What about our local newspapers? Well, one of the Missoula Independent’s cheap holiday gift ideas were shares of stock in Lee Enterprises (publisher of the Missoulian, Ravalli Republic, Billings Gazette, Helena Independent-Record and Butte’s Montana Standard). Shares in Lee are going for around 50 cents, down 98 percent from a year ago.

I was surprised that the Indy included this in their list as I can’t imagine its profits are soaring, either, although it does fill a bit different niche.

Despite our criticism of local newspapers, reporters and editors, the demise of our dailies would be a great loss.

I gotta get me one of them dolls

Here’s an example of a local story that had me wondering in amazement. Reporter Jamie Kelly must have had a hard time writing this piece with a straight face.

Any doll that says “Islam is the light” or “Satan is king” deserves a place under my Christmas tree. Please, K-Mart, put them back on the shelf.

The financial crisis explained

Another reason I love my paper is the comics. When I was a kid in Wisconsin, I’d read the Chicago Tribune’s comics at my grandfather’s knee: Dick Tracy, L’il Abner, Mark Trail (Dick Tracy had this cool two-way wrist radio — the predecessor to today’s cell phone).

I still read the comics everyday. Saturday’s Dilbert unravels the mysteries of the current financial meltdown.

A conundrum

So here I sit, writing about the glories of newspapers on this blog site — a format that probably doesn’t reinforce, for the most part, newspaper readership.

And old 4&20 Blackbirds is doing OK. Sometime on Friday, around 4 p.m., we got our 400,000th visit. While this isn’t huge in terms of Daily Kos or Huffington Post, it ain’t bad for a local blog.

Kudos to Jay Stevens, who started this blog; jhwygirl, the site’s current bread-and-butter writer; Rebecca Schmitz (best headlines); our newest contributor, problembear; Jamie, Jason, et al.

And thanks to our readers and especially those who contribute comments.

by jhwygirl

The Great Falls Tribune put out a request to its readers a few weeks back saying it was looking for new members to its Great Falls Tribune Reader’s Panel. The original post stated that there would be an 1 1/2 hour meeting, once a month, at noon (or some time in the middle of the day.)

There was a comment to that article – the Tribune has pretty active commenting at its paper – where the commenter lamented that he (or she) would love to participate, but that they weren’t able to make meetings in the middle of the afternoon, but that if they were held in the evening, they’d love to attend.

Now, I can’t link to that November 26th piece because the Great Falls Tribune has now moved its archives beyond a fairly short amount of time into “purchase” zone. That’s unfortunate. But I digress.

Today there was another story calling for readers to apply to its Reader’s Panel….and they’ve apparently changed the time of the monthly meetings to 5:30. Nice, huh? Shows they are taking the panel thing seriously.

Since the original post, I had been thinking about what I’d like to see as changes in the Missoulian. Oh – I know….even the idea that I’d put that kind of (smug) thought into print is maddening to some – but, hey – this is a blog and it is for ideas and I’m not getting paid so criticize away. So there.

So what would I like to see? Well, for one – and this one is beyond their control – I’d like to see more comments. Sometimes I wish more people would comment here, too. So I know how that goes. They can’t be holding comments, though, for moderation before publishing them. That stifles the whole commenting thing.

I’m not just talking about the Missoulian either. We have quite a number of readers from Helena and Butte-Bozeman. Then again – there’s also Missoula’s weekly, The Independent.

I think I’d also like to see more around-the-state articles. I wonder if Lee Newspapers shares those stories freely or with nominal charge? I pick up a lot of news from other papers – sometimes even Missoula news from other papers. I mean, a mining issue in one part of the state is relevant to this part of the state. In Missoula County there’s a bunch of mines. Same with forestry stuff. An example there is that there is some logging proposed by the City of Helena or Lewis & Clark County on some of the lands they own to deal with bug kill. Well – we’ve got beetle infested timber here – and a whole lot of open space lands. Wouldn’t readers be interested in how they’re handling the issue in that part of the state?

The other day, Gallatin County Commissioners expanded an already pretty large gravel pit. Gallatin County recently emergency zoned for gravel pits, county-wide. Missoula’s had some recent gravel pit woes both in Lolo and in Clearwater Junction. I think we’re even getting sued over the one up near Clearwater. So isn’t the expansion of a gravel pit in Gallatin County story even just a little relative?

Look – I’m not saying this stuff to be ditching on the Missoulian. I’m curious what would make more people want to read that paper more. I like holding a fresh, crisp paper and reading through it. Always have.

So I’m curious what you all have to say? What is missing from that paper that doesn’t entice you to purchase it more often? IS there anything in today’s 2008 world that a newspaper – any newspaper – could do to have you purchase or pay to read it more often? Or is reading an actual paper of news getting to be old school fogey?

by jhwygirl

This is easily one place where just a few bucks can go far, for a very worthy organization.

We’ve blogged here before about Footloose Montana, and it’s a mighty find organization focused on providing public education on issues surrounding trapping and its affects on pets and non-targeted species.

For the record, I believe trapping is a chicken shit way to hunt.

About 2 months ago I can across a fawn caught up in a snare. It still had spots, beautiful creature it was. Death came quickly as it choked the animal. That’s a good thing, I suppose. It was a non-targeted species. The guy had no permit to be trapping where he was – he was a sheepherder snaring for coyotes. It wasn’t trapping season, so he didn’t need a license, and he didn’t have to report his snaring of non-targeted species. His trap was within a mile of homes. This was in the Bitterroot, but still in Missoula County. Snares are supposed to have a quick release. I was told that they don’t often work.

It could easily have been my dog.

Footloose is looking for donations to keep a weekly ad running in Missoulian – and they hope to be able to expand it to the state’s 5 major dailies – and they have Kalispell and Billings ready to go. The ad would identify trap locations so that people would know where to be cautious with their pets, and it would serve to keep trapping issues in the forefront of Montanans.

Running the weekly ad in the Missoulian only costs $82.60 per week. That’s not a lot of Lincolns, people.

The current ad sends out warning of traps set in the following places:
Ninemile Creek near Butler Loop
Rock Creek
Bitterroot River
Bass Creek

If you can help out, donate here.

by Pete Talbot

Happy Thanksgiving

Indeed, we have so much to be thankful for — living in Montana, and hanging with family and friends — it’s a blessing. Problembear got it right but I have this Utopian dream that some day there won’t be any vets we have to thank. Peace.

On a lighter note, the first Grizzly playoff game is Saturday, and because it’s a holiday weekend and most of the students and many others are out of town, it’s a great opportunity to score tickets. Go Griz and beat those other Bobcats.

More Messina

I finally got around to reading last week’s New Yorker and there was an interesting piece on Barack Obama’s campaign strategy. Montana boy Jim Messina (Idaho and Colorado as well, but he came of age in Big Sky Country) was quoted often in the story. He was Montana Sen. Baucus’ chief of staff before being tapped as the Obama campaign’s chief of staff. Now he’s the deputy chief of staff at the White House (think Josh from West Wing).

On being in charge of Obama’s campaign budget Messina said, “I spend the money, so everything here’s gotta go through me to get spent, which is the best job ever. It’s like getting the keys to a fucking Ferrari.”

And there’s much more campaign analysis in the issue.

Yellowstone Club

Lots in the news lately about the the private ski area for the uber-rich that recently filed for Chapter 11. Here’s the latest from Bob Struckman over at NewWest.

Anyway, my ski buddies are all over this. One of them has an old, burned-out trailer he wants to haul up there. He figures since the club is having a hard time making payroll, security must be lax — just plop that trailer down in an empty lot and maybe get squatting rights.

I’m sure Yellowstone Club residents Bill Gates, Tiger Woods, Dan Quayle, et al., won’t mind.

A new low

It’s a sad story for the Iowa-based newspaper corporation that owns daily papers in Missoula, Billings, Helena, Butte and Hamilton, and also a number of weeklies. Lee Enterprises stock fell to $1 on Wednesday (down 91 percent from a year ago). That puts it in the penny stock realm and this can’t be good for those of us who depend on the newspaper for our morning fix. A weak press serves no one. Newspapers are part of the ‘fourth estate’ which keeps an eye on government and reports on daily happenings. This does not bode well for the public.

I also feel sorry for those employees, retirees and other Montanans who banked on Lee stock as a nest egg. It’s almost as bad as those folks who depended on Montana Power stock as a safe haven for the future.

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