The 2009 DUI list

Here’s a list from the city attorney’s office on what happened with DUIs in Municipal Court in 2009. Tickets written but still pending aren’t included.

The court manager also did a hand count and provided the following information for this story.

  • DUI guilty convictions: 356
  • Number of multiple offenses of DUI: 33
  • Pleaded guilty to negligent endangerment: 73
  • Pleaded guilty to per se: 188
  • Deferred DUI: 1
  • Jail time days generated: 1,047 (24 hours to 30 days, depending on the case)
  • DUIs dismissed by court: 4
  • DUIs dismissed by prosecutor: 45.

More numbers from the story:

According to data from the city attorney’s office, just three people cited for drinking and driving ended up with “not guilty” outcomes for alcohol-related charges in 2009. That doesn’t include people found “not guilty” of a DUI – but guilty of a DUI per se – or vice versa.

The same year, the Missoula Police Department issued 679 DUI citations, said city communications director Ginny Merriam. Police wrote 794 tickets the year before.

Of those, Merriam said some go to District Court, and some tickets campus police write go to Municipal Court.

What happens after people are sentenced? That’s a story for another day.

— Keila Szpaller


1. Finally, the detailed budget document from Mayor John Engen is cooperating with me. The once-hinky document here. It details savings by city department.

2. Dick King from the Missoula Area Economic Development Corp. just called about the Smurfit-Stone Container bankruptcy hearing today. I should hear from the lawyer soon, but he said an e-mail from her pointed to a small victory.

“What she said is we’ve accomplished the goal of getting the judge involved, and that’s significant,” King said.

Phone calls out to determine just how it’s meaningful, and that news will be on later.

3. Some good news on the economic front: This morning while I was getting an Americano, the barista told me what he was up to today. It’s great news. He’s registering a new-for-him car he bought, I think just yesterday. That’s cheery.

— Keila Szpaller

Kim on the County

There’s more harsh news a’ comin’. Reporter Kim Briggeman visited briefly today with county chief administrative officer Dale Bickell about the budget.

What he learned? The county won’t roll out projections until next month, but folks will get a glimpse during Tuesday’s state of the county address.

Bickell also said he foresees both tax and non-tax revenue take a dive around the same time next year.

There’s a lil’ peep, Carol.

— Keila Szpaller

The Green Destiny

That was the powerful sword in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Sometimes it feels like you need one of those to get information you want. I’d still like to see firsthand the source of’s “worst cities” list, for instance.

This week at City Hall, though, the river of information seems to be flowing strong. Someone from the City Finance Department dropped off a hard copy of the city budget and audit report here at the Missoulian. I hadn’t even asked.

I did ask for a bunch of data on DUI tickets, and the city communications director and a crew in Municipal Court are dredging it up. That’s super news. I wasn’t sure it was all collectible.

Already, we know this from communications director Ginny Merriam: In 2008, the number of DUI citations issued was 794. In 2009, it was 679. (Source per Merriam: Assistant Chief Mike Brady).

What happens to the tickets after that? I believe that’s coming soon, too.

Just because people are answering questions doesn’t mean they’re happy to hear from reporters, though. Something like this on my voicemail yesterday: “If the pope needs a belt, I guess I need a reporter.”

I’m glad the caller dialed in despite the pain. Maybe I should send a belt as a thank you, but I don’t think it sends the right message or sets a good precedent.

— Keila Szpaller

Chop chop and choo choo

Some folks are always calling for cuts at the Office of Planning and Grants. Some of the people who work there get paid from grants, though — and now there’s more movement in that direction.

The anti-OPG crowd might be pleased to see how much less city general fund money is going to that department. This from Councilman Bob Jaffe’s committees report:

Next we had our quarterly meeting with the county commissioners to hear about OPG. We learned that permits have pretty much dropped off a cliff this year. Consequently, income is way down and the workload is decreased. I don’t have the powerpoint but it had a lot of good information. Hopefully Roger can post it somewhere. Staff has been reduced by four positions and two more have been moved from general fund to grant funding. The city’s general fund support for OPG has been reduced by 1/3.

The permits report for 2009 is reposted here if you want to see the numbers for yourself. Already, there’s chatter of even more squeezing in the upcoming budget, and same with the state. ‘Member when Montana was gloating about being deep in the black? Being flush again may take a while. This forecast from the Missoulian state bureau’s Charles Johnson:

The Legislature’s chief revenue forecaster, Terry Johnson, doesn’t project that future state general fund revenues, or tax collections, will exceed the 2008 levels until 2015.

Where’s the beef? Somewhere far away, there’s some $8 billion for high-speed choo-choos. Maybe we’re not enough people? In any case, none of it looks headed for Montana, at least per this list via a Seattle Times story about rail.

— Keila Szpaller

Shopping for a judge

Looks like folks charged with DUIs don’t get to unilaterally decide to see Judge Donald Louden in Municipal Court.

Some defendants had been waiving their right to a jury trial, held before Judge Marie Anderson. That’d put them in Louden’s court. Some folks on the prosecuting end think he’s too lax, though some defense lawyers appreciate him for his understanding.

A jury Wednesday certainly wasn’t lenient. It convicted one defendant on several charges, including a DUI, and the prosecutor argued for tough penalties.

“We need to send a signal to people during sentencing,” said lawyer Andrew Scott. He said the signal was for the benefit of the defendant as well as the community.

Scott had argued his case in court at the same time a DUI task force panel talked during a Missoula City Council committee meeting a block away. Crime reporter (and Missoula’s Choice winner!) Tristan Scott was on that story.

Here’s the reason folks can’t automatically jump out of the jury trials. The city attorney’s office said prosecutors get to have a say in the matter — and it’s a jury trial for DUIs until plaintiffs agree to a waiver. That’s in this document.

— Keila Szpaller

Ancient relics, no chickens

Props are great in council chambers, and this week’s Missoula City Council meeting yielded at least two. I remember a few years ago when someone whipped out a pair of handcuffs to protest an SID. Then, there was the man who wore a giant chicken suit during the chicken wars.

(Those meetings? “Bock you.” “No. Bock YOU.” Just kidding. But they were fun.) Continue reading

Buying democracy

During comment time at council meetings, Councilman Jason Wiener often reminds folks of upcoming workshops and community gatherings. Not this week. The Ward 1’er took on the U.S. Supreme Court, blasting its decision in Citizens United v. the FEC.

I wanted to post his speech here. In an email, Wiener said he spoke off the following notes, but they are not verbatim. (I’m in search of a link to the audio — know I can get it but don’t remember where.) Wiener’s message below:

Continue reading

Long Beach wants a medal

The place wants a medal for being the most bike friendly city in America. This story from the L.A. Times.

At a time when cities are cutting expenses across the board, Long Beach has raised $17 million in state and federal grants to improve its bike system through traffic improvements, education and bike share programs. In the next six months, the city will be resurfacing 20 miles of streets to include new bike lanes, part of a plan that includes painting and paving more than 100 miles of bike infrastructure.

Well, Long Beach will have to go head to head with Missoula. Here, folks are on the hunt for how to make the community more friendly for bikers and walkers. Missoula’s holding a workshop 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the University Center North Ballroom to write the 2010 Missoula Active Transportation Plan — and update to the 2001 non-motorized transportation plan. Bring your ideas for ways to make biking and walking better in the Garden City.

Here’s the full invitation from Mirtha Becerra in the Office of Planning and Grants.

— Keila Szpaller