Will someone please run in Wards 1 and 4?

Councilman Jason Wiener is the only person running in Ward 1. So far.

Councilwoman Lyn Hellegaard is the only one running in Ward 4, although competition looks headed her way.

Do you really want to give those guys a break? Jump in the Missoula City Council races. You have ’til 5 p.m. Thursday, June 30, to file at the County Courthouse.

Since last report, the newcomers to file are Sean Ives in Ward 3 and Shane Stack and Peggy Miller in Ward 6.

That’s all super. Here’s who is official and has filed paperwork:

Ward 1: Jason Wiener, incumbent.

Ward 2: Pam Walzer, incumbent; Adam Hertz, for Walzer’s seat; and Cynthia Wolken to keep her seat, the one Roy Houseman started and she got after he resigned.

Ward 3: Alex Taft and Sean Ives (no incumbents).

Ward 4: Lyn Hellegaard, incumbent.

Ward 5: Mike O’Herron and Renee Mitchell, incumbent.

Ward 6: Ed Childers, incumbent; Shane Stack; and Peggy Miller.

Paging people in Wards 1 and 4: Do you really want to let Wiener and Hellegaard go unopposed? Maybe it’s your turn. The benefits aren’t bad. Plus, you make lots of friends. Just kidding on that last part.

I’m going to look up the word “incumbent” to see if Wolken qualifies. She is in the seat now, but she was appointed to it and wasn’t elected to it. Can I call her an incumbent? Not sure. Looking it up. But if you know, say so.

— Keila Szpaller

Osprey opening is TONIGHT

OspreytxI’m full of anticipation for this evening. It’s the Osprey’s first home game of the season.

I picked up tickets at The HUB earlier this week. It’s going to be sunny and the Osprey are going to cream the … enemy.

I’m not sure who we’re playing. I don’t really care. I’m gonna people watch and maybe buy 50-50 raffle tickets and see if the actual bird is swooping around and showing off.

Go Osprey! Go Ollie the mascot! Go real osprey! Go chili cheese dogs and beer!

Ahh, summer. Oh, check out this Slate photo gallery called “School’s Out.”

— Keila Szpaller

Summer cyclists swamp Adventure Cyclists

cycling5The bikers who were at Adventure Cycling this morning made me want to take up biking immediately, right away, nonstop.

The guy who was 80 looked 60, the woman who was 60 looked, 12, and so on and so forth. They’re all vibrant and adventurous, their skin glows, and they obviously get to eat whatever they want all the time. What a beautiful way to live.

I’m working on a story about a couple of them, and I took my new BFF for a spin there. That’s my iPhone, and here’s some pictures from the visit.

The topics worthy of posts right now are the Poverello Center’s plans and Councilman Dave Strohmaier’s run for BIG office, but I’ll get to those another time.

This time, I was taking the phone for a drive. I haven’t had a working phone for about a month, so forgive me if I’m giddy.

Continue reading

Go to the movies with Missoula Water Now

Missoula Water Now holds a free showing of a documentary film called “Thirst.”

That’s 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 15, at the Top Hat. The show is also sponsored by Food and Water Watch.

This from the news release:

Concerned citizens are providing a forum for Missoulians to learn about and discuss the realities of the pending sale of Mountain Water Company to the Carlyle Group.

Here’s the news release, and I’ll paste the text below too.

Continue reading

“Oops” describes the ticket, but not the meeting

meter photoThe Missoula City Council committee went off so well I don’t even know where to begin. I mean, as meetings go.

I drove there and found a parking spot right in front of Council Chambers. I usually don’t give a hoot if I don’t have enough change for the meter — exactly the point of the Missoula Parking Commission, of course — but I didn’t want to disrespect the meter during a meter meeting.

I put in the dime and nickel that I had, and just as I was wondering what to do, guess who walked by? Cyndie Winchell, the awesome parking enforcement officer who keeps flowers in her scooter.

And yes, of course she had change for my dollar bill. Already, things were off to a good start, at least for me.

Then, the meeting went off famously. Council folks listened and deliberated and tossed out ideas and no one got mean or crabby or wordsmith-y or threw a tantrum or hogged the mic. And the chairman just kept paddling forward to a group decision.

They got ‘er done, lickety-split. Did they make the right decision? Well, we’ll see.

Councilman Bob Jaffe’s math had a lot to do with the council’s support for the “oops” ticket, and I asked him after the meeting if he had some number-crunching regret and was nervous he’d missed something. He said a little, and it’s hard to predict behavior, but he’s been offering that disclaimer and feels confident in the numbers.

The full council will take up the matter Monday. New fines can kick in once all the technology is updated, and that probably won’t be before January, according to Jaffe’s estimate.

In the meantime, let’s enjoy those $2 tickets. Why not?

— Keila Szpaller

More on parking fines; committee vote likely today

oopsHere’s a picture of the “Oops!” button some people wore Monday night at the council meeting.

Councilman Bob Jaffe adjusted his calculations after feedback from the Missoula Parking Commission. He said an error overstated proposed revenue by $13,000, but it looks like the revenue still would be higher than any scenario proposed by the parking commission.

Of course, that’s if the “behavior modification” he’s predicting is accurate, and Jaffe said his calculator doesn’t take every factor into account.

Parking commission director Anne Guest is convinced a drop in tickets is certain, so the revenue he’s predicting is inflated. And she points to Iowa City, Iowa, which saw a 27 percent plunge in revenue the year it tried an “oops” ticket.

Scott Sproull, of Hide & Sole, has been leading the “Oops” charge, and he sent a note to the Missoula City Council about why he believes it will work. His comments are posted in full at the end of this post, but here’s one of his myth busters:


This is what you would say if you were a Banker, an Accountant or a Bean-Counter who has little empathy or understanding of a Customer’s Psychological Shopping Behaviors.  Very simply put… Human Beings prefer Rewards over Penalty’s and will more often than not take the path of least resistance and reward (free parking)… rather than high resistance and penalties (fines).

Councilman Jason Wiener said his goal is for the Public Works Committee to vote on a recommendation today. The meeting starts at 1:20 p.m. in Council Chambers. Here’s the story about the pitch from the parking commission.

On the parking topic, I saw this report, “Europe’s Parking U Turn,” come across Twitter today, and there’s some interesting stats and pictures. It’s from the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy.

Per the report, Paris has taken out 4,000 on-street spaces, a move that translates into parking for 20,000 public rental bicycles. C’est bien? Ou c’est horrible? (I’m not sure if that’s correct, but it’s at least close.)

The number of free parking spots are shrinking fast there. The report shows one picture of a “Play Street,” but it looks super boring compared with Sunday Streets Missoula. More on that idea another time.

Also, below are Sproull’s comments in full. And not a peep about the fancy Danskos in his store. Oh well. (Sproull certainly rattles some cages, but even if you disagree with the guy, you’ve gotta admit it’s pretty awesome he cares so much about downtown Missoula he’s written this massive missive. And many, many others. About parking!)

Continue reading

Ice cream makes sustainability

dqThe Lewis and Clark and University neighborhoods in Missoula are sustainable by my measure: A Dairy Queen sits right in their midst.

When folks in those ‘hoods crave a Dilly Bar or frozen banana dipped in chocolate, they can cruise on over in a heartbeat.

But there are other official measures of sustainability, and a Natural Resources Defense Council staff blog makes note of “A Citizens’ Guide to LEED for Neighborhood Development” in this post.

One reason I like it is it doesn’t just talk about solar panels, or spendy things that maybe you want to do but can’t afford. It also talks about the importance of more simple things, like trees.

Frequent, well-established street trees can make pedestrians more comfortable by providing shade and contact with nature.

I know the city of Missoula just dropped a bunch of trees along the Clark Fork River, but I think there’s a bunch being planted this summer, too.

Maybe everyone can carpool to the DQ to celebrate once the planting is all done.

— Keila Szpaller

Parking fines headed back to committee

parking meterCouncilman Jason Wiener plans to ship the parking fine changes back to committee.

So we’ll hopefully hear from folks tonight about the proposal to raise fines, but the council will make a decision another time.

And how about those new parking meters that take credit cards? Astronomical fees. I mean, it feels like you might incur some kind of transaction fee from a credit card company if you so much as lean against a meter for a second.

Councilman Bob Jaffe says we should pull ’em up ASAP. He’s done some serious analyses when it comes to parking. I thought his spreadsheets were on our website but I can’t find them there, so here’s the documents.

Long short, the new meters are losing revenue to the tune of some 68 percent. Ouch. Really.

Funny enough, some folks are using credit cards to put 35 cents on the meter. Other folks think that’s, um, out of this world.

Here’s Missoula Parking Commission Anne Guest on seeing the 35 cent charges: “I would no more put 35 cents on my credit card than fly to the moon.”

— Keila Szpaller