Mansfield is Gernant’s campaign treasurer

Mike Mansfield has not only endorsed Missoula’s Tyler Gernant for Congress, but he’s apparently working on his campaign.

A tad perplexing, right?

I flinched when I first received an e-mail from the Gernant campaign, which contained a disclosure box at the bottom of the page that indicated Mike Mansfield, most notably thought of as Montana’s late and much-loved statesmen, was Gernant’s treasurer. At first I thought it was a joke, but every e-mail since has included the same disclosure box.

Gernant is vying for the Democratic nomination to take on Congressmen Denny Rehberg in November 2010. But first, he must win a primary election a year from now against Montana Democratic Party Chairman Dennis McDonald.

Figuring that campaign disclosure was something a candidate would probably not mess around with, I decided to call Gernant’s campaign manager, Nathan Kosted, to get the bottom of this.

“I remember having the exact same reaction,” he assured me.

Come to find out, Gernant’s treasurer is the late Montana senator’s nephew, whose name is also Mike. Gernant’s dad grew up with him in Great Falls, Kosted said.

Case closed.

— Chelsi Moy

At the meeting, after it, and a question

At the meeting about those granny suites, Councilwoman Lyn Hellegaard asked an interesting question about how those pads affect tax value. One argument in favor of the units is that they increase affordability. Hellegaard, though, said in some places — I think she mentioned a place in California — the Tax (Wo)man will assess you for an ADU even if you don’t have one. Doesn’t seem to be part of the deal here but probably a good thing to know now.

After the meeting, Councilman Jon Wilkins said the compromise hurt him deep. He did it, though. He pitched the no-ADUs-in-single-family-hoods idea — and then also voted for Councilwoman Stacy Rye’s ADUs-by-right-in-multi-family-hoods deal. But he said it wasn’t an indication he would vote in favor of the whole document. He still worries about whether some of the changes are actual rezones. Three attorneys have said that isn’t a stunt the city is pulling. One is the city attorney.

Now a question. I understand how putting up an ADU would help a retired person earn more income and be able to afford to stay in their home. I also understand the social arguments around ADUs. But I’m missing another affordability piece. Adding a unit to a property adds value, and it seems like it puts properties that regular working folks could otherwise afford out of reach. So I’m all ears on this one. I walked past a pretty shoddy home in my neighborhood the other day, and was shocked at the high price. Then, I saw it had an in-law unit in the back. I think a working person could afford to buy the place and fix it up if it didn’t have the granny pad.

I anxiously await the missing a piece(s) of the puzzle.

— Keila Szpaller

Name-calling is so grown up

So is swearing at council people. In some circles, I guess.

WGM Group’s Brent Campbell sent out the message below, a nasty-gram from Rocky Sehnert to Councilman Bob Jaffe. As you know, the council supported a new parking garage going up downtown by Macy’s. Downtown, clothing isn’t always cheap but you can get a burrito for under $5. And some council folks sit through those meetings that end past midnight AFTER going to their regular fulltime jobs.

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More comments on the zoning rewrite

Highway Girl blogged them live from Monday’s council meeting. If you want everyone’s comments, go to 4&20 Blackbirds. I bet she was home in her pajamas watching MCAT. With a warm couch and ice cream. Ah, jealousy. Maybe we can bring couches and ice cream to the next long hearing in council chambers. But I don’t want to see anyone in their pajamas.

Oh, I saw Jack Reidy in the audience — of council chambers. I asked him why he wasn’t sitting in The Jack Reidy Conference Room. He’s the longest-serving council member, was council president for years, and they named that spillover room next door after him. He’s Mr. Common Sense and always looked out for working folks. He said his wife, Alvina, made him come to the meeting and he’d better not have to sit in that other room. (He wouldn’t weigh in on the rewrite before the meeting — just said he was listening for now.)

Oh, and comment on the ADUs if you want. This invitation is open to schemers, evil-doers and name-callers of all walks of life. RedTape does not discriminate. (Except I did delete a couple things my spam filter didn’t catch.)


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The zoning rewrite

Chances are, plenty of folks will show up this evening at the Missoula City Council meeting to air their views on the zoning rewrite. (Watch out for the “schemers” and “evil doers” in the room. And, uh, the name callers.) OPG director Roger Millar has been sending out comparisons of the more contentious issues. The rules in the old code, and ones in the draft ordinance. Here are those summaries — it’s an insane amount of copy, but not compared with the whole book, which the planning board reviewed:

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Debra Minez wins

And you don’t even need to vote for her. Last night, Councilwoman Lyn Hellegaard congratulated Minez on her third place win in the state bus rodeo competition in Great Falls. Minez and her handy driving skills are with Mountain Line, so go Missoula!

In other business, Councilwoman Marilyn Marler finally has an opponent. Kathy Greathouse made good on her threat and filed today for Ward 6, according to this news release.*

Too bad Greathouse doesn’t live in Councilman Jon Wilkins’s ward. Last night, he sounded almost eager for a challenger. Bueller?

— Keila Szpaller

Thrussell. The Gables. Sewer. The Montana Supreme Court.

1. The Thrussell peer review people were in town today. Evidently, some hybrid-lanes option is slooowly emerging. That’s a scheme where Russell runs with three lanes in some places and five in others. So, something that’s not really like the citizens’ 3-Plus alternative and not really like the preferred alternative in the draft EIS. Or a little like both. Because the EIS is still in draft form, this new hybrid can be another alternative. Nothing concrete yet, though.

2. On the Gables, the council said yes to interim zoning. It was the same zoning proposed way back when, and this time a unanimous decision. In 2006, the annexation went through and so did the subdivision. The zoning didn’t cause it was protested and needed eight votes, a super-majority, and it only got seven. Back then, Councilman Dick Haines said yes to annexation and subdivision — but he said no to zoning. He said yes last night. He couldn’t remember why he didn’t like the zoning before but said he probably voted against it because there was a big outcry against it. Monday there wasn’t. Well, Kari Brittain was there but she was crying out by herself.

3. Rattlesnake sewer is on the front burner. Maxine Lane wants it. She said she doesn’t like the Rattlesnake Coalition’s “frivolous” lawsuits since they lose and cost the city money to defend. Well, Loreen Folsom won one lawsuit against the city and forced officials to include more public participation. But you win some, you lose some. The Montana Supreme Court recently ruled against her and the Coalition in another suit against the city and state. I’ll post that decision here* — and thanks to city attorney Jim Nugent for sending it earlier. Don’t get your hopes up for anything detailed, though. I’m working on a couple related stories and can’t wait to be done with them.

— Keila Szpaller

No news

How’s that for a headline? I guess if you’re running unopposed, it’s good news that no one else has filed to run in city races. From here, though, it’s kind of fun to see more names pop up in the black binder in the Elections Office. Kathy Greathouse is expected to file against Councilwoman Marilyn Marler in Ward 6. Chief Deputy Clerk and Recorder Debbe Merseal said the paperwork hasn’t come to the office yet, though. Filing closes July 2.

Sounds like some government folks are crossing their fingers and hoping there won’t be a primary. Merseal said the cost isn’t in the budget so the city would have to scrape up the money. A primary happens if four or more candidates file in three or more wards — or if five or more people file for one office.

Run, run, run.

— Keila Szpaller

The zoning rewrite and chickens

Councilman John Hendrickson estimated petitioners against the zoning rewrite have collected at least 500 signatures and as many as 1,000. As the weather warms up, he said they’ll collect more, too. He said getting signatures on the West Broadway diet was easy — 12,000 collected in 45 days. They need 25 percent of property owners in the city for their quest to force approval with a super majority.

On the urban chicken front, a rooster has evidently turned up on Cooley Street. Cock-a-doodle-doo — chop and sizzle. There’s also reports of an allegedly illegal chicken coop in the Hellgate Meadows area. (“Allegedly illegal chicken coop.” OMG.) Looks like a battle — fresh eggs v. fried chicken.

OK, back to zoning. In e-mails, WGM Group’s Brent Campbell says neighborhoods would be more protected with the new zoning ordinance than they are with the old one. He’s asking the advisory committee to come up with a majority and minority report on the code and present the information to council. For more, head to Councilman Bob Jaffe’s government listserv.

To reject the new code and argue that the we should stick with the old code in the interest of neighborhood protection continues to puzzle me.  I would like (to) hear from folks on this issue and think a meeting of the advisory committee would help me understand the issue from another perspective.  This could then be communicated to the council as opinions with fair representation for all.”

The hearing’s coming up June 22.

— Keila Szpaller

Even Santa talks on his cell while driving

If Mayor John Engen’s partial veto of the proposed cell phone ordinance didn’t calm the nerves of all the Chatty Cathys out there, there’s now a way to congregate with others who feel the same way. It the official page of the opposition. And where else would it be other than (drum roll, please) on Facebook.

Check out “Stop the Missoula Cell Phone Ban” facebook group. If not to join, then to get a chuckle from the picture of Santa Claus driving and talking on his cell phone. I wonder what Santa’s saying???

— Chelsi Moy