Commissioner Landquist kisses Mrs. Goose

I can’t believe I never posted these pictures, but maybe I was just saving the best for last.

Here’s Mrs. Goose and Rita Mae from Commissioner Michele Landquist’s ranch. Aren’t they awesome? A perfect fix for the winter doldrums in Missoula.

From Landquist:

My goose (Mrs. G. AKA Mrs. Goose) has been with us a very long time and yes, occasionally she comes in and has some house privileges. The dog is Rita Mae, she is our two year old Rat Terrier (affectionately our ‘Brat Terrier’).

House privileges! About the House in Helena, read this story on Rep. Walt McNutt, a Sidney Republican who has his hands full right about now with budget issues.

OK, finally, here’s Landquist and Mrs. Goose and more!


These pictures, of course, are of Landquist back at the ranch, her actual ranch. At work, commissioners probably feel like things are a zoo. As they try to pay attention to all the bills in Helena that could affect Missoula County, the Maclay Bridge Alliance begs for some attention too.

— Keila Szpaller

A plan for homes in Missoula, and a Maine coon

Remember the pet parade? I forgot a couple. I think it happened when I went on vacation, far away from the Missoula cold.

I was reminded the other day when I saw pictures of Commissioner Michele Landquist and her adorable little lambs in the newspaper. (Stay warm, little guys, so you grow big and we can eat you later! Pooh. I wish every edible animal looked like a warthog.)

Anyhow, I got some great photos from her and also a cat picture from Councilman Jason Wiener, and all those pics went un-posted. But it’s not too late, as you will see.

Wiener is one of the folks working on the plan to address homelessness in Missoula. I’ll call it the plan for homes, and it sounds like it’s more and more important in the eyes of HUD.

HUD isn’t going to be tossing money out blindly, in other words. Folks there want to know it’s actually making a measured difference and communities aren’t frittering it away.

Below is more information from Wiener. First, though, a picture of his Maine coon. If it’s the same one he had in 2007, his name is Itty Bitty Lincoln. If it’s a new cat, I don’t know the name.


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Bad bikers and lots of legalese from the ACLU

I’m pretty behind on RedTape, but that’s alright. I have lots of things to post, and I’ll just start with this one: A legal analysis of House Bill 516 from the ACLU of Montana.

There. It’s interesting reading, and now you have it. If you are reading this from a warm and sunny locale, I am going to consider charging you. Please post your email address in the comments section and I will send you a bill. Maybe the ACLU will too since it’s their analysis.

So I’m trying to reach a legislator about a water quality bill, and I noticed he lives on U Bet Road. The address made me optimistic.

I think he’ll call, although he may wait until tomorrow since today is probably big-time decompression day for a lot of our legislators. Or maybe it’s nurse-your-hangover day.

Anyway, maybe there’s U Bet Roads in other places, but it sounds pretty Montana to me, and I like it.

What I don’t like? This biker who didn’t have any lights on and cut in front of me in the dark on an icy road and made me tap on the brakes really fast a thousand times to avoid him but he still was far too close for comfort. It would have been easy to stop on a dry road, but not these roads.

I hope he gets a ticket. Or she. Whatever. What I mean is I hope the cops are still giving out tickets even though it’s cold. I was impressed the meter maid mobiles are still trucking in this weather, and my newspaper showed up on my doorstep this morning. (Well, it showed up on the kitchen table thanks to my guy, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t go to Ole’s to get it.)

That’s it for now. More to come. Some of it also is wonky, like some HUD information, but you’ll probably love it, and I have some really awesome pictures I forgot to post too.

Oh, if you see Councilwoman Stacy Rye, congratulate her: She’s the new director at WORD, Women’s Opportunity and Resource Development. It explains why she gave up her seat on TPCC.

I’m not going to spell out TPCC. Just look it up.

See you Friday. I really can’t wait. TGIAF.

— Keila Szpaller

Missoula stuff

Here’s Mayor John Engen’s letter asking Helena to stand down. It’s about the anti-discrimination ordinance and the bill that would undo it.

I hear the chair of the House Judiciary Committee will be limiting comments on legislation tomorrow to five minutes total per bill. What, run out of time discussing spears and marriage counseling and cowboy codes? This isn’t confirmed, and hopefully it’s an exaggerated version of how the meeting will go. If not, pleaselimityourcommentsto10secondsgoodbye.

Anyway, more reading: The emissions report from the University of Montana. Requested by Mayor Engen and produced by Robin Saha and his students in the UM environmental studies program.

Also, sit down for this one. Ready? There’s contentious development in Missoula. Really. I don’t think this has happened since, you know, Macy’s and Smurfit and lots of other businesses closed.

The last development neighbors successfully protested was Chickasaw in 2009, according to the Office of Planning and Grants. Now, the Catlin Trail project also is under protest, and planner Janet Rhoades said the protest appears to be legal.

Plat, Annexation and Zoning will take up the matter on March 2. The Planning Board recommended denial; staff note it’s ripe for approval. Why?

Said Rhoades: “We have several policy documents that recommend putting density in the urban areas where there’s access to that kind of urban infrastructure.”

The Missoula City Council will decide if it’s appropriate infill, or, as one neighbor suggested, “overfill.” Overfill sounds like something that should be done to potholes this year.

Over and out.

— Keila Szpaller

Strohmaier keeps working. And working and working.

TheĀ  latest work product from Missoula City Councilor Dave Strohmaier is here. It’s an infrastructure plan!

“In 2009, I convened what I dubbed the Rattlesnake Transportation Infrastructure Summit. This was an initial meeting of representatives of the upper and lower Rattlesnake Neighborhood Council leadership teams and other individuals selected by the leadership teams.

“My goal was to craft a strategy for assessing transportation infrastructure needs in the valley. After nearly two years, our completed study is now ready for public review.

“We are planning a public meeting to discuss the study on Sunday, Feb. 27, from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. at Rattlesnake School. The study can be viewed at:

“I’m very proud of the citizens who put in countless hours to pull off this undertaking, and am excited to see this plan guide infrastructure improvements in the Rattlesnake Valley.”

I got a call the other day about how horrible Van Buren Street is, and guess what? It’s listed as an “urgent priority” in this report.

This report makes me want to see what the plan for my neighborhood says about infrastructure.

I know right now, filling potholes is an “urgent priority,” and I think yesterday, the holes under the Orange Street overpass got patched, and then the same day, they busted open again. Nervy.

OK. That’s it for now. Happy Friday.

— Keila Szpaller

Missoula Chamber luncheon gets back talk

Back talk in a good way, I think.

This year, after some 275 people learned the state of the city and the affairs of the county over lunch, folks asked lots of questions.

Cool, right? It happened at the annual Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon. In the most nerdy way, I look forward to this event every year, and I think I marked it on my calendar the day I came back from vacation on Jan. 4.

I bet most folks in the audience year in and year out have a decent grasp of the goings on in Missoula, but it’s great to hear the top elected folks take the long view and paint their pictures of the scene. It can be important sometimes, too. (Oh, did you see “The King’s Speech”?)

Anyway, so one curious observation this year: I felt like I heard more questions from the audience, one right after the other:

What’s next for the Best Place Project? (Hiring an ED.) What’s next for better customer service in City Hall? (Check out all the recommendations in the report.) How will MAEDC relate to Best Place? (They’ll probably come together and MAEDC’s strong loan program will complement the economic development efforts of the Best Place Project.) How are things in Helena? (Well, rocky. Local governments are on the defense.)

I asked Chamber director Kim Latrielle about the idea there were more questions, and she said indeed, folks were asking more. She said it was a calculated format change for the Q&A portion of the luncheon.

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Best place projects takes “giant leap” forward

The Missoula Best Place Project to kickstart the local economy is firing on all cylinders.

… the Best Place Project has raised 77 percent of its $3.2 million goal, according to project representatives.

In less than a year, to boot. Remember the goals? It’s a five year project Mayor John Engen launched last year, and here’s the goals stated in a brochure about the plan:

— Create 2,500 new primary jobs resulting in 4,875 total jobs, paying a sustainable wage of $37K annually. (I love my baristas, but it’s sure nice to hear there may be other jobs for college grads here.)

— Generate direct payroll totaling $172.975 million annually from new or expanding businesses in targeted sectors.

— Increase new capital investments by $150 million.

— Encourage 25 new business startups with innovative or tech-related concepts.

— Recruit 25 “best-fit” companies to relocate to Missoula.

— Conduct 4 to 6 annual business-prospect missions and trade events to educate and attract national, statewide and regional site selection consultants and targeted prospects seeking business opportunities.

Ambitious. We’ll hear more from the mayor at the annual state of the city address put on by the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce.

Interesting the Chamber puts on this great annual event, but the assertive economic development push seems to be happening outside its authority.

— Keila Szpaller

The anti-anti bill is out

Here’s the link to the super short bill draft that’d incinerate Missoula’s anti-discrimination ordinance. If it passes muster.

OK. Well. I’m watching a wolverine documentary right now and I guess the streaming on the TV is interfering with this computer stuff. (Would the Google fiber deal fix it? I don’t know.)

So here’s the link:

Some folks don’t think the bill would be Constitutional. I’ll look forward to hearing from lawyers.

About wolverines? They weigh just 30 pounds and they aren’t afraid of grizzly bears. Radical.

— Keila Szpaller

“Rails to Trails” magazine features Missoula

So when I got hold of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy communications director — all the way in Washington, D.C. — he told me he’d just been in Missoula to bike the Kim Williams Nature Trail.

Well, not just, but last summer. It’s hard to imagine biking anywhere right now, although I’ve seen folks out there.

Anyway, I don’t expect everyone in D.C. to know where Missoula is, of course, but a few weeks ago, I had some PR person from another city ask me if Montana was on Eastern Time.

So it was a great surprise to hear that not only had Conservancy communications director Karl Wirsing, also managing editor of “Rails to Trails” magazine, been here and used our trails, the spring issue of the mag has lots of great things to say about the Kim Williams Nature Trail — and Missoula.

“I wanted to stay, and I did not want to come home,” Wirsing said.

The publication will be mailed in March and goes to 77,000 households, or some 300,000 people. The article will talk about the trail, the history of the Milwaukee Road, and other things to do in Missoula.

“Missoula is an ideal destination city. It’s so compact, and you can do so much while you’re there and on the way there,” Wirsing said.

Chalk up another one for the Garden City.

And if you want to forget about biking and gardening for a minute and read about winter stuff, check out reporter Chelsi Moy’s posts at Montana Snow Sports. If you hadn’t heard, tomorrow is going to be a “sick ski day.” Good to know.

— Keila Szpaller

It’s chicken week in Missoula; Strohmaier not a chicken

I don’t know why, but chickens seem to be accosting me from all sides this week. I even made some great chicken enchiladas, although not as part of any theme or for revenge. Just because they are easy to make and also delicious.

The latest chicken story is this Eating Missoula column. Read about Heather’s Heritage Hens, and also about a new show called “Portlandia” and an episode that spoofs a couple folks taking the local food movement one fundamentalist step too far.

Speaking of people who aren’t chicken, though: Councilman Dave Strohmaier. I wonder if he really will run for the U.S. House. ‘Cause being very much a Missoula guy and relatively unknown elsewhere and probably a bigger fan of rules than a lot of other folks in Montana, well, he could get filleted.

Of course, it could be a political strategy of sorts that I don’t understand, maybe losing one race to win another one later. Or maybe there’s some factor his advisers can see that I don’t know about that’ll make him super appealing despite his Missoulaness.

If you want to know what he’s been up to on the Missoula City Council, Strohmaier has all his referrals available here. No question he can legislate. Anyway, he said he’d make a decision in the coming weeks, and “Stay tuned!”

If he chooses to jump into the fray, I’ll look forward to talking with a political professor or two about how this Missoula guy best woos people in the rest of Montana.

‘Til then, happy Friday! Oh, here’s my chicken enchilada recipe, which is actually my friend’s chicken enchilada recipe.

Put chicken in a crock pot with fresh salsa. Cook it ’til it’s done.

Break up the chicken and mix the whole thing with some cotija cheese.

Roll the mix up in warm corn tortillas.

Pour red enchilada sauce over the top.

Sprinkle more cotija on the top and bake until it’s bubbly and begging to be eaten.

It’s the perfect workday meal ’cause you can cook the chicken while you’re gone and then just pop the enchiladas in the oven when you get home. It’s the most forgiving recipe, too. I’ve burned a batch of crock pot chicken — afraid the pets were suffering from smoke inhalation — and it’s still quite good.

— Keila Szpaller