Just guess …

… why no one has stolen campaign signs in Ward 3. Yup, the candidates haven’t put any up yet.

“I’ll let you know next week,” said candidate John Quandt, about whether people are stealing his signs.

Councilman Bob Jaffe said it’s a pain all around. The signs are visual clutter, he said, plus, they’re expensive, require assembly, and have to be carefully placed according to the rules.

“And then people steal them. It’s really irritating,” Jaffe said. “It’s such an annoying thing to begin with.”

— Keila Szpaller

These guys conserve

Does that mean they don’t use plastic grocery bags?

Missoula Montana Conservation Voters endorsed* these candidates: Councilman Dave Strohmaier, Ward 1; Candidate Roy Houseman, Ward 2; Councilman Bob Jaffe, Ward 3; Candidate Mike O’Herron, Ward 5; and Councilwoman Marilyn Marler, Ward 6. And Mayor John Engen.

Reusable bags take energy to produce, too, you know.

Conservation Voters have a shindig with these candidates 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. this Thursday in the Missoula Children’s Theater Meeting Room. It’s a potluck. Bring your goodies in a reused cardboard box?

— Keila Szpaller

The Bogeyman

It isn’t back-in parking on Spruce Street, said Mayor John Engen. Nope, painting those new spaces is a primo example of being able to do more with less, and jumping on an opportunity when one arises.

(OK. Math. Fifteen spots x $18,000 per space = $270,000. That’s the value, per the city. What it cost? Some paint, and some irritation from neighbors who wanted a heads up.)

Maybe it’s safer, as they say, maybe it’s an eyesore, as they say, but it certainly can’t be impossible to learn how to reverse into a spot. Not so? Time to hang up those car keys for good.

Said Councilwoman Pam Walzer: “I’m sure this is not that much more difficult than parallel parking.” And yes, she drives.

The Bike-Ped Board’s Jed Taylor said the parking experiment is a fine example of how the city should go about trying new ideas. A small piece, tweakable later.

And the bogeyman. He is still apparently somewhere in the zoning rewrite, at least according to Councilman Dick Haines. Surprised by back-in parking? Guess what? Read the zoning ordinance, he said.

“There are going to be a lot of surprises in that, too, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy every minute of it,” Haines said.

I’m not sure what part of the rulebook is still tucked inside the cardboard birthday cake. (Surprise.) Haines didn’t say.

Time is running out, since the deal goes to the council floor Monday. If there’s still a bogeyman or bogeymen in the update, please be a dear and identify the chapters at your earliest convenience. (Hello. Hello?)

Word from the courts on the zoning lawsuit should be in before the end of the week.

— Keila Szpaller

Girl power

And super government dudes. Read in Sunday’s Missoulian about how Elli Giammona, almost 9, is bringing a trail to Mullan Road — with some help from her local government.

Here’s some correspondence,* a petition and letter from Elli, and responses from County Public Works director Greg Robertson. Here’s a thank-you note from Elli, cover* and text*. (Robertson on that letter: “It made my freakin’ day.”)

— Keila Szpaller

Weeds and thieves

Councilman John Hendrickson had a couple of his campaign signs go missing. When he went to replace them yesterday, and he found the disappeared plaques ripped up and tossed in the weeds on a hill in the Prospect area of Grant Creek.

“First of all, it’s illegal,” Hendrickson said. “Second of all, grow up. What’s the big deal?”

— Keila Szpaller

Bedbugs and beggars

Missoula doesn’t have a bedbug problem, at least according to the Bedbug Registry*. (And I type this as I chew on a pastrami and garden tomato sandwich. Hmm.) San Francisco does*, though, and it’s good to be back from California, where dispositions seem sunnier than the Golden State’s budget outlook.

In the big city, I bought the Street Sheet for a buck from a man holding a stuffed-puppet sea creature in one hand. (I said something about the man’s shark, and the animal talked back:  “I’m not a shark. I’m a dolphin.”) That paper has been “published by the coalition of homelessness since 1989.”

The city seemed more full of street people than ever. Back in Missoula, the coffee shop talk this morning was about mean street people toting weapons, no signs of stuffed dolphins. An acquaintance saw a fight in Caras Park, one woman kicking the brawlers apart, a man pulling out a claw hammer and chasing someone with it.

Another acquaintance saw one member of some band of eight or so, one pack of this season’s street roamers, push over the birdcage outside the Red Bird. The local told the guy to pick it up, and the guy asked for money instead and then his friends surrounded the local and tried to intimidate him. He went to the cops, who told him the dude had just been released from jail and urged him to press charges. He didn’t want the hassle. He said he was in the mood for old fashioned justice, where the meanies get dragged to some snowy, far away place and dropped off. (Or maybe stuffed in a birdcage, like the one he tipped over.)

I suppose that’s vigilante justice, an outdated idea seeing as we have the courts and all. Maybe we need our own Street Sheets here and hand puppets, too. (“I’m not a grizzly bear. I’m a black bear.”) Well, it’s good to be home in the wild, wild West.

— Keila Szpaller

Zoning stuff

On the rewrite: “PAZ appears ready to wrap up their review and send the project back to the City Council floor for final action.” This from OPG. Last I heard, the council would likely take up the new code either the last Monday in September or the first one in October.

On the lawsuit: Plaintiffs’ attorney Hertha Lund said a hearing is scheduled 9:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 21, in front of Judge Sherlock in Helena. Lund doesn’t expect it’ll be long and drawn out, either.

The judge will decide whether the update can move along as planned — or if the city needs to do more to spell out the consequences to folks. Godspeed, either way.

— Keila Szpaller

Fun with figures

Were you desperate for more charts and graphs? I thought so.

Here’s another spreadsheet* on the city and staffing. There’s quite a jump overall from 2006 to 2007.

Here’s the total reductions* in staffing for 2010. It’s 16.38 FTEs, or 19.38 if you count OPG and Health.

The number of hours left until the weekend? Ooh. From this desk, less than one.

— Keila Szpaller

More finance reports

In Ward 3, candidate John Quandt’s got $1,744.85 in the bank. Councilors Dick Haines and Lyn Hellegaard gave him money. Opponent and Councilman Bob Jaffe said he’s raised roughly a couple thousand.

In Ward 5, the newcomer is outraising the incumbent. Councilman Dick Haines took in $2,070, including $800 from the GOP. He’s got $1,982 left. Mike O’Herron, on the other hand, brought in $3,896, with $200 from the Dems. Leftover is $2,133.28.

Now Ward 6: Kathy Greathouse has raised $1,889, including money from Councilors Hellegaard and Haines, per her report. Cash left? $896.59. No finance report’s required yet, and none’s available online for opponent and Councilor Marilyn Marler.

Nothing online yet for Councilman John Hendrickson, in Ward 2, either. And again, none required.

— Keila Szpaller