Walzer takes the tests

Reporter Tristan Scott filed this update on Councilwoman Pam Walzer getting charged with a misdemeanor DUI. She pleaded innocent and has said she will comment during Monday’s council meeting.

Having taken a breath test and apparently a blood test as well — results aren’t yet public — it seems she can vote without hypocrisy in favor of the proposal to make refusing a test a misdemeanor offense. At least if she’s inclined that way. The public hearing is March 8 March 22. (Thanks to City Clerk Marty Rehbein for the correction.)

During a council committee meeting about drinking and driving, the Ward 2 representative offered the following comment, according to meeting minutes: “Walzer feels that a holistic approach needs to be taken. She feels that repeat offenders need to surrender the vehicle involved in a DUI arrest.”

This DUI charge is her first, according to the story.

Some readers have suggested she got special treatment after the arrest. The person who doesn’t seem to have doled out special treatment: Arresting officer Ben Slater, according to the ticket and booking info.

— Keila Szpaller

Group opposes ice cream for all

So one group has come out against the human rights ordinance protecting folks of all religious and sexual and other persuasions who seek jobs and homes.

That’s the Concerned Women for America, according to the Montana Human Rights Network’s Jamee Greer.

This group fights discrimination too, albeit on another front. The core issues of the organization are the following, according to its Web site:

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Ice cream for old gay Buddhist veterans too

What does a Missoula City Council committee do when faced with an ordinance calling for inclusion? Makes it more inclusive, it appears.

Yesterday, the Public Safety and Health Committee set a public hearing for April 12 on the ordinance protecting people including LGBT folks in the areas of employment, housing and hangouts. (Ice cream parlors, remember?)

Councilman Dick Haines called for adding veterans to the list of protected classes. This per Councilman Bob Jaffe’s listserv.

Here’s the original list: actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, creed, sex, age, marital or familial status, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

Haines couldn’t be reached this morning for comment on whether he’s heard of incidents of discrimination against veterans, and if so, the nature of those interactions.

On the LGBT front, the Montana Human Rights Network has said the LGB folks don’t seem to run into much trouble, but the T folks do.

Maybe in some coffee shop somewhere around here, there’s an old gay Buddhist veteran pleased as punch.

— Keila Szpaller

Missoula’s next mayor?

wienerAt this point, it seems like Missoula will keep John Engen at its helm as long as he wants to stay. And despite ongoing speculation he’s headed for some bigger, better job, Engen promised to finish this term and has said he may even want a third.

But that hasn’t stopped people from speculating about Missoula’s next mayor. Even last summer, when Engen was running unopposed, the name that popped up most often when people talked about future races was Councilman Jason Wiener.

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Flesch does right by friend of Lafrays

fleschThis warm note about the Lafrays is meant as a thank you to Jeremy Flesch, named 2009 Neighborhood Volunteer of the Year. It came from Carolyn Abbott.

“My family knew Curtis and Margaret Lafray who lived on that street for many, many years. They were family friends, babysitters, and surrogate grandparents to our daughters who are now in their late 30s.

Curtis had a very fine apple orchard and they both worked a huge garden. Both of them canned and froze a winter’s worth of food every year. When Margaret died of cancer in her 70s Curtis continued to plant the garden and even make jam and jelly. They joyfully shared their harvest. My husband tills our garden with the last rototiller Curtis owned.

They were very quiet unassuming people with very kind hearts. They had a son who died a few days before his high school graduation by accidentally driving a car into the Clark Fork just less than a mile from home. Margaret was scheduled to baby sit for us that day. She called to tell us what happened but (said) “I can still baby sit if you need me to.”

I believe the Lafrays would be pleased to know that the city and neighbors are creating a park nearby for local children and their families. My heart is warmed and my memories rekindled.”

Abbott said she’s eager to visit the park again and play there when her 1-year-old grandson visits.

— Keila Szpaller

What can’t you buy on eBay?

burns street

“Chuck” asked about the North Missoula Community Development Corp.’s report last week to a Missoula City Council committee.

NMCDC built the Burns Street Commons, and the affordable homes have been slow to sell. Yes, the financials offered up to the council are available here.

Guess where most of the buyers came from? Craig’s List, which NMCDC describes as a “gold mine.” That isn’t the only place where you’ll learn about the houses, though. Continue reading


Pretty. Delightful. Friday.

So Dallas Erickson, the Stevensville man who crusades against pornography and obscenity, asked for a scanned copy of the anti-discrimination ordinance. In PDF form.

We aim to please. Here it is.*

— Keila Szpaller

*Updated Third Version.

Red Alert! Red Alert!

The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival does run through the weekend. I thought the schedule ended Thursday, so this is good.

Reporter Joe Nickell’s got a story on the No. 1 film at the festival.

A film set half a planet away has earned the top honor at this year’s Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.

Chinese-Canadian director Lixin Fan’s “Last Train Home,” which chronicles the struggles of one migrant family in China as they are caught up in the desperate annual migration to return home for Chinese New Year celebrations, was named the festival’s Best Feature Film at an awards ceremony Thursday evening at downtown social club The Loft.

The schedule for the weekend is here,and if you missed it, “Sweetgrass” plays again. Here’s to second chances. Tonight, there’s a couple things on tap:

Friday, 7:30 p.m.: “Danza Del Viejo Inmigrante,” “Never Enough,” “Found,” “A Film About My Parish – 6 Farms” (Two additional films, “Dark Light: The Art of Blind Photographers” and “Anonymous Rebellion,” will also be screened at this time due to technical difficulties at screenings earlier this week).


— Keila Szpaller

Lesbians get ice cream too

Councilman Dave Strohmaier released a draft of the anti-discrimination ordinance coming this spring to the Missoula City Council.

It starts off like this:

It is the intent of the City of Missoula that no person shall be denied his or her civil rights or be discriminated against based upon his or her actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, creed, sex, age, marital or familial status, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

It lists several reasons the law is needed, including complaints of discrimination. One interesting argument offered is the health of the economy.

Discrimination creates strife and unrest and deprives the city of its full capacity for economic development by decreasing productivity and increasing demand for city services.

I was wondering what “public accommodation” meant, and there’s a long list of places that count, including “ice cream parlors.” Neat. Quaint. Would any of you fine readers care to join me on a jaunt to the ice cream parlor?

“Public accommodation” means a place that caters or offers its services, goods, or facilities to the general public subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable to all persons. It includes without limitation a public inn, restaurant, eating house, hotel, roadhouse, place where food or alcoholic beverages or malt liquors are sold for consumption, motel, soda fountain, soft drink parlor, tavern, nightclub, trailer park, resort, campground, barbering, cosmetology, electrology, esthetics, or manicuring salon or shop, bathroom, resthouse, theater, swimming pool, skating rink, golf course, cafe, ice cream parlor, transportation company, or hospital and all other public amusement and business establishments.

Another thing I bet we’ll hear about again is a requirement that businesses post notices.

Every employer, business, or entity subject to this chapter shall post in a conspicuous location a notice stating, “Discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, creed, sex, age, marital or familial status, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression is prohibited by the Missoula Municipal Code.”

The Montana Human Rights Network is the lead organization promoting the ordinance, and organizer Jamee Greer has said he believes Missoula will adopt it unanimously. Salt Lake City did, after all.

In his email, Councilman Strohmaier also forwarded a referral along with word that Missoula will be breaking new ground.

“This is the first ordinance of its kind in the state of Montana,” Strohmaier said.

— Keila Szpaller