Highway Girl and other folks at 4&20 stayed on a roll through last week — and I took a break from Red Tape and cooked and skied. The conversation again is turning to local news coverage, and Highway Girl is asking for more in-depth analysis. (From me? Really? Did you have to single me out, Highway Girl?? I’m busy and Crazy Canyon is so much fun right now.) Actually, I appreciate the concrete request. It comes at a good time — I’m thinking about what to tackle in 2009. Topics? Please weigh in.
Those of you volunteering to be editors? Have a go. Here’s some stories on my list. You rank ’em. Ask questions about them. Tell me to scrap them. Tell me they’re better told a month from now for whatever reason. Tell me to keep it short because it’s news but boring. Obviously, my real boss trumps everyone else, but let’s see how this exercise plays out. Anyway, here we go, in no order, and excuse the rough write-ups.
— Retail is way overprojected in Missoula — Downtown Master Plan consultants say we’re planning for 50 percent? 100 percent? (I forget) more retail than Missoula can support. (Nationwide problem, too.) So we have plans for all these little shops at the Sawmill District, West Broadway area, and existing shops. Where’s this stuff actually going to go? And who decides? And haven’t we actually lost retail lately? What role does MRA play?
–Oh, and that’s another one. A look at MRA’s board. They’re powerful. They make huge decisions for Missoula. I don’t think they have an elected person on board, but could be wrong. They don’t have a council representative. Anyway, who are those folks? How have they guided growth, development, redevelopment in Missoula?
— The sign at Sentinel — Councilor Jon Wilkins says it’s going to be so big, it’ll look like “a drive-in theater.” And because it’s on school property, no one else has a say in how the sign looks. Supposedly. Interesting? A short piece, I think, since I just wrote about signs.
— Steenberg retires. His last day in Dec. 31 and we’ve got to say goodbye to the fire chief.
— Lights on the Orange Street bridge. They’ve been out for a good two years. Why? Who can turn them back on? Why haven’t they?
— WVE has a new director. Brief.
— How are the city and county preparing to get some of that public works infusion? Jesse at the Indy beat me to the punch here but I need to get a story out about this sometime too.
— A question I have — maybe it’ll be just a blog post — but Kalispell and Billings are capturing methane. Helena is saving $$ using methane. Why are we still just burning it off here. I feel like every couple years, someone talks about actually using it here, and UM is sometimes mentioned, but it doesn’t happen. It might just be a case of municipally owned stuff v. privately owned. Anyway.
— A fun story, I think — Fact check Jane Rectenwald’s op-ed. And, for fairness, fact check a pro-zoning rewrite op-ed. This idea came up because OPG director Roger Millar disputed one of Rectenwald’s figures in her opinion piece. (I’ll put Millar’s info up in a separate post.) I like this idea more and more as I think about it.
— A look at how technology has enriched civic engagement. A ton of people subscribe to Councilman Bob Jaffe’s listserv, for starters. There’s Missoulapolis, 4&20, Shakespeare, which posts about books but occasionally also about local government. Also, who’s left out? If you’re an old codger who gets tripped up on a computer, are you left behind? Sorry to be ageist.
— The city of Missoula gets sued about half as often as the other biggish cities in MT, but it’s paid out more $$ in the last couple years. Why? And how does the county stand?
— More on the zoning rewrite. I wrote this story because I think it’s important people know a minority — and disgruntled — voice is, while maybe not driving, at least having a big say in the agenda — and also the consequence. I wrote about the sign ordinance. But there’s a lot more to say. Holler if there’s a zoning topic you think should rise to the top of the list.
— There’s more. Just got off a call about cats getting shot in the lower Rattlesnake. Sounds not so nice. But the list of stories is lengthy and always growing, so I’ll leave it at that for now and await any responses.
— Keila Szpaller