“Flush the fear”

A group of, ahem, named folks is coming together at www.flushthefear.com to show the faith community’s support for equality, LGBT folks and the non-discrimination ordinance.

“Our group will be a leader in articulating God’s justice and ministry of inclusion and hospitality,” reads the Web site.

The name, “Flush the Fear,” looks like a direct response to Notmybathroom.com, which aims to defeat the human rights ordinance and is led in part by anti-obscenity crusader Dallas Erickson of Stevensville.

The position statement from Flush the Fear begins like this:

All people should be free from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.  Faith communities value dignity, fairness, diversity, and justice, and we know our strength as a community is based on treating each other fairly and with respect.  Our group will be a strong and peaceful voice for the full inclusion of the LGBT community in non-discrimination policy.

This group is being organized by the following faith leaders, according to the Web site:

Pastor Amy Carter, United Church of Christ
Reverend Jean Collins, Episcopal
Pastor Peter Shober, United Church of Christ
Pastor Jean Larson, Evangelical Lutheran Church

The Web site quotes a Bible verse from Micah 6:8, too. “What does God require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Did the line to the bathroom just get longer?

— Keila Szpaller

(Another) survey says!

This poll is about transportation. It’s the Transportation for America 2010 national study. T4 represents a lot of folks from a broad array of groups. (See details below.)

Here’s how Montana rolls, according to the study: Not as many bad roads compared with the U.S. average; a hair more pedestrian fatalities per capita; and more CO2 from transportation compared with the average.

One interesting question and response:

How should we spend existing transportation dollars?

After those respondents were informed that currently 80 cents out of every federal transportation dollar goes to highways, while 17 cents is used for public transportation such as such as trains, rail, ferries and buses around the country, and the remainder for other transportation needs.” A majority (58 percent) say that more should be allocated to public transportation, while 35% feel that this is about the right amount. Only 5% say that less should be allocated to other transportation options.

If you don’t remember the folks who belong to T4, it’s, like, everyone. That reminds me of the second best quote in today’s Missoulian.

“Like, I had been drinking all night but I wasn’t drunk. Like, I mean I was drunk, but I wasn’t like so, you know, wasted that I didn’t know what was going on.”

That’s Katie Irene Garding, who isn’t, like, supposed to be drinking alcohol or like, going to bars. Meet the, like, alleged negligent homicide felon here.

First place in the land of quotes goes to Tom Figarelle in this story about the proposed anti-discrimination ordinance: Continue reading

Screaming queens and wedding bells

So it’s a good thing, really, that Chico hot springs isn’t closer. The S.O. and I spent a long weekend and plenty of pocket change there after attending a wedding in Bozeman.

Chico had copies of the Billings Gazette on its coffee tables, and there I read about a wedding in England that reminded me of happenings around Missoula. A Very Important gay Person in England got hitched, and in a Very Important Place. That story here. (Matching solid purple ties? Really??)

There’s no wedding planned for Council Chambers as far as I know, but there is a hearing coming up on the proposed anti-discrimination ordinance. Ryan Morton, a native Missoulian and frequent commenter on Red Tape, forwarded his letter to Mayor John Engen and the Missoula City Council about the proposal. It’s to protect folks from being booted from homes and jobs because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

I’ve pasted his letter below. Again, thanks to folks who are using their real first and last names to comment; please don’t call people names in this sandbox. Without further ado, Morton’s letter: Continue reading

Ice cream parlors aren’t bathrooms

An organization called Notmybathroom.com has formed to oppose Missoula’s anti-discrimination ordinance. Read the news release here.

The opposition is based on religious, legal and business matters, according to the press release. Go to Notmybathroom.com for more information.

The Missoula City Council holds a public hearing on the matter April 12. A PDF of the draft ordinance is posted here.

— Keila Szpaller

Up with crocuses, down with spiders

My neighbor’s yellow crocuses are popping up in his yard, and the birds are painting white splats on the sidewalks. A spider suffered an untimely death this week in my bathroom.

It’s spring in Missoula, and that means downtown will see more visitors soon. Some of them are messy and aren’t all that polite, and this will be the first warm season Missoula’s panhandling and pedestrian interference laws are in play.

Now, Seattle’s wrestling with aggression on the streets, and the Seattle Times runs a pair of op-eds today on the matter. Here’s one from a downtown resident who was punched in the face: Continue reading

The blow test and paying for green energy

So tonight is the public hearing on the proposal to make refusing a breath or blood test a misdemeanor crime in Missoula.

No one seems to dispute the hard drinking culture around here and the easy time folks have deciding to drive after a couple brews. But one overarching question seems to be whether the breath test ordinance would actually punch down drinking and driving.

I’m wondering if the cab companies are going to weigh in sooner or later. Green Taxi? Yellow Cab? Couldn’t they capitalize on the public sentiment against boozing and motoring? The cost of a cab ride across town probably averages less than the cost of a couple drinks — and much less than the $300 fine folks will have to pay for refusing a Breathalyzer if the ordinance passes.

(Note from Councilman Dave Strohmaier and city attorney Jim Nugent: The adopted Darby ordinance looks like the one Missoula is considering and penalizes suspected drunk drivers for refusing a breath or blood test — not just convicted ones. An earlier story linked on this site only noted convicted folks would be penalized.)

Switching gears, remember the mayor’s Green Blocks program to bring energy efficiency to neighborhood blocks in Missoula? Well, I don’t know where San Francisco is getting the money, but there the city is helping property owners go green by doing this: It’s paying for green upgrades, such as solar panels and water conservation measures, and letting people pay back the amount in 20 years through property taxes.

GreenFinanceSF project Web site here.

— Keila Szpaller

Fly fish naked

Well, it’s probably too cold for that kind of thing right now, but that’s an experience one scientist who lived in the woods shared with me. It’s a phrase that just jumped out from a pile of notes on my desk, so it won the title of the post.

I’ve been thinking that we should make Fridays fun days and journalism days here at Red Tape. This Montana network map isn’t loaded with the most supreme fun, but it’s interesting. Blackfoot Telecommunications sent it over earlier. I hope you can open it.

Blackfoot’s Dave Martin also offered a key. Here we go: Continue reading

Drowning spam, counting bikes

So I was out of the office in Darby yesterday for a story, and I get back today and there’s four spam posts up. The worst part is they all talk about how smart and great the blog is.

But Red Tape does not need their false flattery. All such posts are marked as spam and launched deep into the Mariana Trench. Sorry for the temporary clutter.

On another note, remember the bike count that’s revving up again this year? They still need volunteers, and there will be prizes. Tell your friends. To sign up or learn more, contact Mirtha Becerra at 258-4989 or at mbecerra@co.missoula.mt.us.

Also, spokeswoman Ruth Link passed on this letter from the Missoula Organization of Realtors  requesting counts take place once each quarter instead of twice a year during warmer months. In the interest of accuracy, MOR noted it also doesn’t want counts taking place during Bike-Walk-Bus Week, an event promoting biking and walking. MOR also offered to help find volunteers for the counts, too.

OPG senior transportation planner Ann Cundy said she’s in the middle of a response to the MOR. In a nutshell, she said the way Missoula counts is based on the, ahem, methodology developed by the Institute of Transportation Engineers and Alta Planning. That way, the numbers from this city can be compared with data across the country.

A note to counting baristas: One 16 oz. black coffee with cream does not equal one triple black 16 oz. Americano. (I <3 my barista.)

— Keila Szpaller

Holy Lahood!!

So exclamation points are generally discouraged unless you’ve had enough caffeine. (!!!!!!!)

This update from Alex Stokman at Missoula in Motion on the U.S. Secretary of Transportation saying bikes are transportation too. And walking is a legitimate way to get around.

That’s an inference. At a national bike summit, Secretary Ray Lahood recommends communities collect data on walkers and bikers. (OPG’s Ann Cundy is working on it.) He recommends setting target mode splits.

I’ve heard an engineer say that’s pointless and meeting ’em isn’t possible, but perhaps there’s a way if there’s a will in Washington, D.C.

This from Stokman quoting the official blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation:

People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.

We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally-funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

This news comes as the weather warms, so maybe it really is time to pull the bicycle out of the garage.

— Keila Szpaller