Long live King Kitton, Good Kitty!

This cat snoozing in a curl is named “King Kitton, Good Kitty.” Fabulous. “Kitten” for short.


Kitten belongs to Councilwoman Stacy Rye, although it’s probably more like she belongs to him. She’s a councilor, but he’s royalty. Here’s Rye on Kitten:

This is Kitten, or King Kitton, Good Kitty.  He’s 13 1/2 and had an accident with a fan belt when he was 2, hence the half of a tail.  I’ve had him (or he’s had me) since he was the scrawniest, almost hairless, so-ugly-he-hurt-to-look-at kitten.  He’s the best cat I’ve ever had.  I almost lost him when I was 38 weeks pregnant.  I was enormous and looked like the Queen Mary, sailing around the neighborhood for five days until I found him.  He had gone back to an old apt. I used to live in.  After I had my daughter, I promptly forgot about him for weeks.  He hung out, patient until I could pay attention to him again.

Aww. And that’s not all. Meet Kira, who pays her way by catching small animals.


Here’s Rye on Kira:

She’s a calico who came from the pound almost 6 years ago exactly.  She was a Christmas kitten.  She is an awesome mouser and birder (English sparrows only).  We once found her with a front paw holding down a mouse’s tail in a corner of the living room like she was waiting for us to come and get it and throw it out the door.  She’s not terribly talented with the litter box and makes a big mess.  How hard is it to use the litter box?  Good thing she’s a good mouser.

We aren’t voting here, but if this was that TV talent show, King Kitton would take the cake for a superior name, and Kira would win for her hunting abilities.

— Keila Szpaller

Vote for June bug! And Squeak! And Natalie!

junebugI know Red Tape has been all about dogs. Guess what? Councilwoman Marilyn Marler is making up for it!

See her and her sweetie’s four cats on their blog, Montana Wildlife Gardener, AND vote one of the felines 2010 Cat of the Year!

I like Squeak, whose 2010 accomplishments include not killing any family members. Also this: “She is our fluffiest cat, but also the most flammable.”

June bug, though, will get my vote despite her high cost per pound. (Yes, you can see a dollar amount for each cat.) June bug is pictured here, and she gets my vote ’cause she had a rough go in the beginning but seems to be making some great strides: 

She was kept in an outdoor dog crate for 8 years and badly neglected before someone turned her in to the Humane Society in fall 2009. ….. Her only two teeth are in pretty good shape.

She now grooms herself (mainly just her face). She sleeps by our heads in bed with us every night.

Neglected for eight years? And still a great big purr? It makes me wonder if I can vote more than once … Maybe one time for each year of neglect?

You, however, also could vote for Natalie the diva, or Alex, but Alex won last year so maybe it’s time for someone else to be champion.

Vote ASAP!! Offer ends soon!! Just three days left in 2010!!!

Can’t wait to hear who wins.

— Keila Szpaller

P.S. I’m just voting once. What’s fair is fair. Oh, and after you vote, you can see up-to-date results. Very cool.

“Merry Christmases” from Django and the Dogs!

Here’s Geoff Badenoch and dog friends. Badenoch as you probably figured out is the quintessential dog sitter, but he admits to some loss when it comes to at least one bird:

I used to have a parakeet named Django long ago but he escaped and became a denizen of the Montana outdoors. Apropos of your work on a holiday story…I tried to teach him to say “Merry Christmas!” but being a bird of very little brain, he pluralized it and frequently offered seasons greetings year ‘round: “Merry Christmases!”

Without further ado: Murphy (left) from his goddaughter’s family; Clancy, RIP, a great beastie (right) who lived with Shaun Gant; and Misha (below) a new puppy owned by his friend Kate.


Happy Christmas from Dexter!

DexterDexter is the man. Can you say, adorable?

This li’l guy is a member of Will Deschamps’ family. He’s a Yorkie-poo, or a cross between a Yorkshire terrier and a poodle.

Why is Dexter here? Because he’s cute and it’s the holidays.

This year, I am gathering pet pictures from folks who post here on Red Tape, and also from city councilors and (hopefully!) county commissioners.

Then, I’ll put them up over the next few days as a festive gesture to the blogosphere. We’ll call it The Pet Project.

You can say this is a trivial pursuit, but you know what? I’m not gonna let you. If you make a mean comment, you’re going to get censored for Christmas. Yes, by a member of the media, no less.

Up on Friday? Geoff Badenoch, another person who comments here. Badenoch doesn’t have a dog of his own, but he walks lots of his friends’ pups.

Deschamps has some thoughts on that, by the way. Walking other people’s dogs just isn’t fair, he figures. One also must feed a dog and pick up after him.

“He’s a wuss! He’s a wuss,” Deschamps joked about Badenoch. “You’ve got to have your own dog.”

Or cat? Or woolly sheep? (I’m hoping Commissioner Michele Landquist has a lamb picture to send. Stay tuned.)

— Keila Szpaller

Councilor Roy Houseman resigns

Councilman Roy Houseman announced Monday his council resignation to take a job — and much travel — with the United Steel Workers. His departure is effective immediately.

Here’s a copy of Houseman’s prepared remarks:

I came before this council little over a year ago to announce the closure of the Smurfit-Stone Missoula Mill. December 14th 2009 was one of the toughest days of my life. I felt fortunate to have significant community support during those difficult times and cannot thank the community  enough for supporting the workers out at the Mill. My original intention when I was running for council was to get back to work out at the mill and serve on the council. The closure changed that plan and my life changed significantly after finishing severance negotiations. The challenges of learning the job of a Council member and transitioning to a fulltime Graduate student kept my mind occupied and along with my wife’s support we treaded water and looked to the future.

I feel fortunate to have worked on landmark legislation here in Missoula this last year. The first non-discrimination ordinance in Montana for the LGBT community and the legally created special districts, which kept Missoulians working, are just two of the many things I was able to support.

My passion to help working families in America attain a brighter future ultimately calls to me though. That is why I feel fortunate to have received an offer from United Steelworkers to work in their legislative department. The chance to influence policy ensuring safe and healthy work environment,  to ensure fair trade, on building and sustaining a manufacturing base in our country, and, finally, to maintain the right for every American to form a union is a once in a lifetime chance I cannot deny. Unfortunately, the travel and time commitment is such that I feel I could not fairly represent my ward on the council. That is why it is necessary for me to announce my resignation as Missoula City Council Member for Ward 2.

As the council looks to fill my position, I hope they look at the diversity of Ward two and the great potential of young involved community members in the Ward . Young community leaders such as Cynthia Wolken, Lenette Diaz, Gabriel Furshong, or Paul Hubbard already work hard in Missoula and any one of them would greatly add to the voice of the Missoula City Council.

I can’t thank the community enough for allowing me to serve the on this council. I have enjoyed the experience and I am sure whoever fills the position will do their best to build a better Missoula.

Roy Houseman

— Keila Szpaller

Google Fiber selection delayed

Google Claus is late.

Missoula was one of 1,100 communities that applied to be part of Google’s superfast Internet project. For free.

The behemoth technology company had planned to announce a winner sometime this year, but it’s swamped with applications, according to this note on Mashable.com. Watch for an announcement early in 2011 instead.

Copy chief Justin Grigg passed along the link. It notes that an early Google Fiber deal in Palo Alto, Calif., is working mighty speedily.

Google Fiber has already been implemented in around 850 homes of staff and faculty at Stanford University. Google says this trial is showing broadband speeds of up to one gigabit per second.

What did the snail say when it caught a ride on the back of a turtle? Whee!

— Keila Szpaller

Missoula taxes and milk punch

punchStill irritated that your tax bill doesn’t give more detail about where your city money goes?

City finance director Brentt Ramharter created a solution. It’s a calculator of sorts. Click on the third link. Then, plug in your grand total from the bill, and it shows you a breakdown. This much for police, that much for fire, this much for parks, etc. Super handy.

I wish you could fiddle with the spreadsheet and change your contribution to certain things, but I guess that’s what elections are for.

Now that you’re not irritated anymore, let’s celebrate. December is festive, and I tried this milk punch recipe from the New York Times.

I just sent it to a wonderful source, and thought I’d share it here, too.

One part whiskey (extra splashes for extra measure)

Two parts milk

1/4 part maple syrup (use the real stuff)

Serve it with milk ice cubes and a dash of nutmeg on top.

I found this “Whiskey Barrel” punch recipe in our archives, and it sounds tasty as well. The thing about that particular milk punch recipe, though, is it’s entirely too easy to make.

Happy holidays!

— Keila Szpaller

Missoula councilor warns against scammers

Don’t panic about your loved ones and lose money to a con artist.

That’s the alarm Councilman Dick Haines sounded last night. Haines said some friends got a phone call from someone saying their daughter was being held in Minnesota or some other state. The person levied a threat, saying if the parents didn’t pay $2,500 in the next six hours, their girl was going to jail.

Well, Haines said their daughter happened to be standing right next to them in the house: “They knew she was safe and sound.”

If you get such a call, it’s typically emotionally charged, Haines said. But don’t be taken in by the matchstick clan.

“Call the police immediately and find out what is going on because chances are it’s something that’s a fraud. It’s a scam,” Haines said. “They’re trying to get money out of you using your emotions.”

This scheme happens by email, too. Bah, humbug.

— Keila Szpaller

Montana city salaries and perks

We’re running some stories on perks next week.

The city of Missoula did a comparison of the salaries and housing allowances and other extras department heads and mayors earn in Bozeman, Great Falls, Helena, and here.

For your viewing pleasure, here’s the the data chart the Human Resources office sent.

— Keila Szpaller

P.S. Sorry but it’s upside down. You have to do that thing where you right click on it and then rotate.

Elk parade on Mount Jumbo

MtJumboElkZoom_Dec4-2010 (2)Eric Edlund used to be skeptical that elk really truly used Mount Jumbo in the wintertime.

The mountain seasonally closes to people so the ungulates can eat without stress.

Even though he lives in the Rattlesnake, Edlund hadn’t ever seen the elk roaming there.

Until this year. That’s his photo here, where you can see at least 15 of the animals. He shot it Saturday afternoon.

Edlund said he still has reservations about the long closures, but he’s not complaining this year since it’s clear the elk are out.

“This year they’re definitely more than just a myth,” Edlund wrote in an e-mail sent earlier today. “In fact, you might be able to see them from downtown right now, since I just drove up Rattlesnake Drive and had a good view of them.”

— Keila Szpaller